Grace, Life, Perspective, Trusting God

Doubt: Leaning Into God’s Grace

God's grace doesn't require perfection copy

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’m still pondering our Five Minute Friday word from last week. There are several wonderful posts on doubt, if this is something you struggle with.

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I’ve seen it throughout my life. My tendency to doubt. Looking for that teaching job after college, the perfect husband, babies and motherhood, and writing . . . doubt walked by my side through each of these seasons.

Continue reading “Doubt: Leaning Into God’s Grace”

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Affirmation, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Identity

Doubt: Remembering Truth

Red beauty

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—DOUBT. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. I write for five minutes on a given topic. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out our hostess, Kate Motaung’s site. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

***There were a number of directions I could have taken this post. This is still pretty fresh on my heart, so I hope it makes sense!***

DOUBT

The email came today. Though I’d expected it, I hesitated to open it. Anytime someone is evaluating something I’ve created, I know the words can build up, or cause doubt.

Today, they caused doubt.

Why did I ever think I could write a story? Who am I to think I can convey God’s love and messages through my written words?

Part of the reason I’m struggling with doubt right now is because I thought a little more highly of myself than I ought to think.

Without realizing it, I’d hung some of my personal value on the affirmation I’d hoped to receive from others.

How many times am I going to walk around this tree? The one where words drop from the branches and bang me on the head, leaving wounds in my thoughts, bruises on my heart?

When am I going to truly believe that my affirmation, my value does not come from people, but from God?

People see a part of who I am. God sees all that He has created me to be—both where I am today and at the end of my life. And, He says it is good. 

Phil 1-6

He uses the disappointments in life—the criticisms—to refine our character . . .

. . . the way fire pushes dross up from the bottom of the silver kettle. He wants the dross to rise to the top so it can be scraped away.

When my dross is pushed to the surface through the heat of criticism, the doubt of my value is what rose to the top this time around.

God’s a gentle purifier, though. He knows what needs to happen so I’ll remember Who I belong to.

He knows the plans he has for each of us . . .

. . . and He never promises that everything will go exactly the way we want them to go. He uses the disappointments life tosses into our mix to stir things up, to show us areas of our character He’s working on, and to remind us Whose we are.

Yellow glory

When we turn to Him with our doubts . . .

. . . when we listen to the truths He declares over us, those doubts can turn to hope. Hope restores the spirit and gives us strength to keep walking forward in the messy, beautiful plans He’s crafted for us.

What about you? How do you manage doubt when it comes knocking on the door of your life? When have you turned doubt into hope?

Visit Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday post—Doubt

 

ACFW, Goals, Trusting God

Brave: 5 Heart Lessons from ACFW 2015

ACFW program

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I just returned from my fourth American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) writing conference. I brought home priceless memories, lived through some struggles and am pondering lessons learned during my four days in Dallas, Texas.

The challenging aspects of the conference always come down to my innate tendency to: 1) compare myself to others and where they are in their journey, and 2) question my giftings as a writer.

Continue reading “Brave: 5 Heart Lessons from ACFW 2015”

Faith, Life, Living with Intention, Love

Pain: A Heart Like Jesus

safe vs obedient quote copy

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

When I first read a headline about the Syrian refugee crisis, it was a blip on the radar of my attention.

Then, I read more.

I discovered the shocking reality of the numbers of people impacted by ISIS’ actions in the middle East. Millions fleeing their homes just so they can stay alive, so they can keep their children alive. They take dangerous risks in the hopes of living another day. And my heart broke.

Continue reading “Pain: A Heart Like Jesus”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Identity

Same: Valuing Being Different

Zinnias at sunriseBy +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—SAME. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. I write for five minutes on a given topic. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out our hostess, Kate Motaung’s site. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

SAME

As a teenage girl, I desperately wanted to fit in with the kids around me. I tried dressing the same, taking some of the same classes as friends. I tried talking and acting the same as the other kids . . . sometimes betraying who I really was.

I’m not so different now. I still struggle with the desire to fit in. To be the same as those around me. There’s something in feeling accepted that lures me to compromise to fit in with those I hang around with.

I’m learning that when I seek to fit in with others, I deny the intrinsic unique qualities God’s placed within me. There is no one else with my DNA who has or ever will walk the face of this earth.

There is no one else who can touch the lives that mine touches. And, I can do this in the unique ways God’s given me. Or, I can try to do it the same way my friends, and those I respect, do it.

Yellow leaves

When I try to be the same as others, I lose out on discovering all that God has instilled within me . . . simply because He delights in me.

He’s given each of us unique qualities, ways of viewing the world around us. He’s gifted each of us with ways of touching others that can only be expressed “just-so” by us. My friends can’t relate to my neighbors in the same way I can. And vice versa.

We are each gifted with different strengths to work from. Different spiritual gifts to operate in. We’re each unique in the way we perceive circumstances around us. As much as I sometimes wish I was the same . . .

. . . as much as I crave the sense of fitting in . . .

I lose out on being all that God designed me to be when I strive for fitting in with others over being uniquely used by God.

Pink Peony

When we step out of the mold we’ve tried to build our lives around, and we trust God to form us into the people He designed us to be? Then we will know the fulfillment that only comes from being our unique selves.

What about you? What is at least one trait that makes you unique on this earth? How do you embrace your unique qualities?

Read Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday offering—Same

Perspective, Time

Gift: Unwrapping the Gifts of Summer—A Retrospective

Purple flowers in morning

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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A quick note: Ellen Gray, you won Jill Kemerer’s book from last week’s blog post! Congratulations! Jill will contact you to get the book to you!

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Every summer it happens.

I determine this will be the summer where we learn to rest, to enjoy and to take the days slow.

But there’s something about having two active, need-to-stay-busy boys that makes this dream a little bit impossible. At least my vision of this dream.

This was the summer when I didn’t sign them up for a bunch of swimming lessons. We didn’t do Vacation Bible School (attending or serving). We didn’t sign up for a bunch of summer camps.

Continue reading “Gift: Unwrapping the Gifts of Summer—A Retrospective”

Control, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Yes: When God Asks

hands wedding photo 001 copy

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—YES. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. I write for five minutes on a given topic. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out our hostess, Kate Motaung’s site. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

YES

When my husband was getting ready to ask me the question, I was pretty certain what was coming. The timing was different than I expected, but that night we took an after-sundown walk, and then went back to the home where he was staying, i just knew what was coming.

I loved the way he asked me to marry him. And I was so, so ready to say yes to being his forever.

That anticipation has ebbed and flowed over the years . . . that willingness to say yes before I heard the question.

But there are times, when I have an inkling of what someone’s going to ask before they ask. And I’m so ready to say yes! Usually it’s to something I’m already excited to do or be a part of.

Mountain sun rays

What about when God asks? Am I ready to say yes to Him before He asks His question?

Honestly? No.

I’m afraid He might ask too much of me. Or ask for more than I’m willing to relinquish. Because—arrogant me—I think I have control of my life. Of my destiny.

What a sad lack of trust I have in my heavenly Father sometimes. Thinking that I should have the ultimate control of my life.

Who gave me (and each of us) life? God.

Who’s blessed us beyond comprehension with His love and blessings? God.

Who asks us to trust Him no matter what? God.

He’s a good God. Things that happen in our lives don’t always look good from an earthly standpoint. But in His eyes, they are they right things to come into our lives.

Colorful wildflowers

When we trust our Father, we can say yes before we hear the question. We know He walks with us through life’s hard and through the times of rejoicing. We know that when he allows something into our lives it’s for our growth, ultimately. Those things conform us into the image of His Son. And each situation is one more step in Him completing that good work He began in us.

So the next time I feel a heavenly question coming, I’m going to choose to say yes.

What about you? When were you eager to say yes? How do you choose to trust God when you’re not sure what He’s asking of you?

Visit Kate Motaung’s site for her Five Minute Friday post—YES