Choosing Gratitude series, Gratitude, Guest Posts

Choosing Gratitude (series): The Choice of Saying Yes

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

When I come to November in a year, something happens in my spirit. I’m ready to cozy down into warm sweaters and soft blankets. I love scented candles burning and soups simmering on the stovetop. It’s a time to slow  down and reflect over the year. When my spirit is in a good place, my heart finds much to be grateful for. One thing that fills me with gratitude is the gift of friends—real life and blogging friends. 

For the next few weeks, I have invited five friends I respect deeply to share stories and thoughts on gratitude in their lives. I hope you will join with me for all five weeks and share your responses to their words. If you miss a week, you can click Choosing Gratitude series to catch up with the other posts in this series. Will you settle in with me, with a mug of something warm in your hands and think on those things and happenings in the year for which you are grateful? 

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I met Lisa Jordan early in my writing journey. She has great wisdom and an encouraging spirit. She’s been my cheerleader, the one who listens when I’m grappling with something in my story. And she has a heart for people. She’s a multi-published author with Love Inspired, and her stories have depth and wonderful characters. Please help me welcome Lisa to this little corner of the blog-o-sphere today!

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Everyday we are faced with making choices. Wake up or hit snooze. Eggs or oatmeal. Coffee or tea. Love or hate. Grace or judgment.

What about the choice of saying yes? Especially if it means experiencing pain and overcoming challenges? Choosing to say yes can come at a time when we are at our weakest and crying out to God.

Several years ago, our family experienced one painful crisis after another—my husband and I lost our fathers a year apart, my mother needed another cardiac stent, our oldest son wrestled with some issues in college, and then after finishing his freshman year of college, our youngest son came home with a cold, which turned into bronchitis, then pneumonia and a secondary infection that started shutting down his organs. 

He ended up being taken by ambulance to a hospital three hours from our home where his medical team did more tests than we could count to figure out what was wrong.   

While sitting in a recliner next to his bed in the early hours of the morning, tears streamed down my face as I muffled my cries and pleaded with God for his healing. I begged Facebook friends around the world for prayers. I had a book due to my editor that week, but I couldn’t focus due to living my worst nightmare. 

As I listened to alarms going off in other rooms, footsteps hurrying down the halls, the hissing of my son’s oxygen that helped him to breathe, I felt this sudden warmth envelop me as if someone had pulled a cozy blanket warmed in the dryer and wrapped it around me. 

Then God asked me a single question. “Daughter, do you trust me?”

“Yes, God, but…”

“Do you trust me?”

Psalm 56:3 crept into my thoughts, nudging at my fears. 

When I am afraid, I will trust in You.

“Lord, I’m so scared. He’s so sick.” 

“Do you trust me?”

I wrestled with my emotions, tangled around my fears like a tightly knotted cheap skein of yarn, and had to make a choice. 

Drying my eyes, I breathed out a sigh. “Yes, Lord, I trust you.” 

Over the next eight days, that blanket-wrapped peace never left me. Not when our son asked if he was going to die. Not when we received disappointing news. Not when new symptoms appeared. Not when our son’s breathing labored just from sitting up in bed. 

Thankfully, our son healed from that traumatic experience, and we were released to go home on Father’s Day of that year. What an incredible blessing. 

Those two years of darkness—my season of winter as a friend called it—changed me. They were some of the most heart-crushing experiences with lasting effects. However, I’m so thankful for being willing to say yes to God, resulting in a strengthened faith and stronger prayer life.  

Our Heavenly Father knows what’s best for His children, even trials and difficulties to draw us closer to Him. James 1:2-3 reads, Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Sure, we’d prefer not to go through challenges in our lives, especially when they impact those we love, but we are weak and He is strong. He has a plan and a purpose for our lives and promises never to leave us or forsake us . . . we never have to walk through those valleys by ourselves. 

I’m so grateful for the blessings I’ve received as I thawed from that season of winter and embraced the spring of renewal, fresh starts, and thriving. When we make the choice to say yes to God, those blessings will outweigh any challenges we endure as we trust in Him and allow our faith to be strengthened in the process.

What about you? When have you had to say yes to God, and how did it change you?

Bio: Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. She is the Operations Manager for My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for nearly thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.

Click to Tweet: Our Heavenly Father knows what’s best for His children, even trials and difficulties to draw us closer to Him.

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkUp, #TellHisStory, and Holley Gerth

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45 thoughts on “Choosing Gratitude (series): The Choice of Saying Yes”

  1. Great essay, Lisa, and thank you Jeanne for bringing her words to us!

    The flippant side of me says that I’ve got to say yes to God every day because saying ‘No!’ isn’t going to make pancreatic cancer and lymphoma go away.

    It does go deeper than that. I’ve become a different person through learning to accept this, AND learning not to resent it. When I say, “This is so UNFAIR!”, I’m joking, because it isn’t really unfair.

    But it’s NOT unfair, certain not when compared to, say, starvation in Somalia or, far worse, having to watch the third season of ‘This Is Us’ because my wife likes it. (I liked season one; season two, well, OK. But this season…sheesh.)

    Cancer’s a part of life, and running from it would have been (well, aside rom futile) stupid, because the lessons I’ve learned, about putting aside comparison (especially comparison with myself), ambition, and avarice have changed me, given me a heart that God could, at last, use.

    I’m grateful for everything, and would not have missed this for the world.

    https://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2018/10/your-dying-spouse-534-beast-of-burden.html

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew, thank you for your kind words. “Given me a heart that God could, at last, use.” So beautifully spoken. God uses our pain, our heartaches, our trials to draw us closer to Him. I never want to relive my “season of winter” but those experiences and heartaches have drawn me closer to Him.

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    2. Andrew, your perspective is so practical and common-sense, but not easy to embrace. 🙂 I so appreciate the way you have yielded yourself to allowing God work in and through you during this season of your life. Because of that, He’s given you a powerful testimony and voice to speak into the lives of others who are suffering. I’m praying for you and Barb (and the dogs!)

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  2. “Sure, we’d prefer not to go through challenges in our lives, especially when they impact those we love, but we are weak and He is strong.”
    Yes, to this, and thank you for sharing that hospital experience with your son. I also had the opportunity to sit beside my son in the hospital and trust. It was a long time ago, but I was changed by it and will never forget it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michele, God has a way of using those hardest of mama-seasons (i.e. when a child is in the hospital and we’re helpless to do anything on their behalf) to change the core of who we are. To help us grow in trusting Him. Thank you for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Betsy, that verse has helped me find the courage to press on when my fears feel bigger than my faith. I’ve been known to utter it over and over until my head and heart believe the same thing!

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  3. This post came on the perfect day. Just beautiful, Lisa. And thank you, Jeanne, for sharing your friend with us. This >> “When we make the choice to say yes to God, those blessings will outweigh any challenges we endure as we trust in Him and allow our faith to be strengthened in the process.” So grateful for the blessings God brings to us even in the difficult!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, thank you for your kind words. When we’re in that season of winter and feeling frozen, it’s so difficult to see the spring of renewal that’s coming. Thankfully God continues to be with us every step of the way.

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  4. Loved this! Your story took me back to my story when our two-year-old (now 28) almost died from a gastro infection. I can remember the same feelings of fear but the words “Trust Me” from our Heavenly Father. This is true: “He has a plan and a purpose for our lives and promises never to leave us or forsake us . . . we never have to walk through those valleys by ourselves.” God is completely faithful in all situations. No matter what, His presence brings us great comfort in times of difficulty. Thank you for sharing your heart!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marcie, I imagine God has given you opportunities to come alongside others because of the experience of your son’s infection when he was little. God uses those darkest seasons in our lives to show Himself faithful, I think.Thank you so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing your story, Lisa! What a gift to feel God’s presence so strongly as you sat in the hospital with your son. Hearing the voice of God ask “do you trust me”? allowed you to pause and turn to Him in the middle of one of your darkest times.

    Jeanne – thank you for inviting Lisa to share here today.

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    1. Mary, isn’t our God powerful and yet intimate? I’m comforted by the truth that none of us is too small to escape His notice and His care. I’m glad He cares enough about us to speak into our hearts and to draw us closer to Him. Thank you for stopping by!

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  6. My heart connects to cozy this time of year also. The peace he gives through our unconditional yes is what spurs the gratitude. Gratitude is so near and dear to my heart, and I just loved the heart of this message!

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  7. I’m so glad your son recovered, Lisa. I’m sorry you had to go through such heart-crushing losses. I find, too, that it’s in the deep, dark valleys that God brings us nearer to Himself and grows our trust in Him. I love that God doesn’t condemn our fear but helps us to trust Him in spite of our fear. And He uses our pain for a purpose. Thank you for this hope-filled post. And thank you, Jeanne, for inviting Lisa here. Blessings and hugs to you both!

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    1. Trudy, I love what you said about how God doesn’t condemn our fear, but helps us to trust Him in spite of it. I know you’ve lived your words. Thank you for sharing your hope through your comment! I am happy to host Lisa. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This spoke to my heart the first time I read it Tuesday morning, and again right now. It’s truth I return to again and again … that my heavenly Father loves me, knows what’s best for me, and always gives me what I need. Even when it’s hard. Saying yes to God has changed me in the past, and I need to remember that as I struggle to say yes now. Thank you, Lisa and Jeanne, for this timely message. 🙂

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    1. Awww, Lois, I’m so glad Lisa’s words spoke to your heart. They are timeless, aren’t they? I’m so thankful our Father does know everything about us and provides what we need. Saying yes can be hard, but God always works with it, doesn’t He? I’ll be praying for you as you struggle with your yes.

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  9. Thanks for sharing your story here Lisa. I’ve lamented to God, wondering what He’s up to! Lots! God does make us stronger through every circumstance, even when I’ve gone against His ways. Love. Pure, unconditional love. And so grateful for that!

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    1. Lynn, I love the truth as you stated it…God does make us stronger through every circumstance, even when we’ve gone against His ways. Talk about a loving, gracious, faithful Father! Thank you for stopping by!

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    1. Anita, that whole trusting thing seems to be the second half of believing, if that makes sense. We believe, but when we’re called to live out that belief, it begins with trust, doesn’t it? thank you for sharing your wisdom here. 🙂

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  10. I’m so glad I read this today, Lisa!

    One season of saying “yes” to God happened almost exactly a decade ago, when my husband and I left the church we’d been attending for over two years. We’d started going there just after we got engaged, so all of our “young married life” friends were made there. It was an excruciatingly painful experience. Not anything I’d want to relive, but, looking back, it was the first in a series of lessons that He taught me about putting Him above all else – even when it really doesn’t make any sense. I haven’t fully mastered that lesson, but I do know, for sure, that He never steers me wrong.

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    1. Marie, I find it is almost always hard to leave the familiar, but there are times when God calls us out of that place. Isn’t God good in how He allows us to look back and see the things He’s worked in us, the way His hands have molded us through the hard circumstances? Like you, I’m still learning to put God above all else…all the time. Thank you for sharing your story and your insights!

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  11. How thoughtful to invite your friends to join you, to give us all the opportunity to meet them and to glean from their experiences and learnings, Jeanne.

    I’ve found claiming gratitude to be a huge antidote to depression, anxiety, the blues, the grumpies, the wet blanket moments. It doesn’t mean we deny what’s happening around us or how we feel, but that we find God’s good gifts even in the midst.

    What a wonderful Savior …

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    1. Linda, I love what you share about claiming gratitude being a powerful antidote to depression, anxiety, and more. There’s something about taking our eyes off of ourselves and looking for God’s goodness in the world around us that frees us from the hold of those kinds of thoughts. Isn’t it powerful to see God’s goodness, His presence, in the midst of difficult seasons? I’m still learning to look for His gifts in the hard days. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom here!

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