Common: What Makes Us Significant?

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+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—COMMON. 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!

COMMON

I’ve lived much of my life believing I am common. There’s nothing special about me. I have faults, I get on peoples’ nerves. I’ve fallen short so many times. I have realized that I sometimes equate “common” with “failure.”

I realized that in my mind, “common” meant “insignificant.” Not special. I suspect most of us want to feel special—significant—in some way.

Some of us try to get really good at some talent or skill we have. Because then we stand out. We don’t look common.

Some people were blessed with good looks. They enhance those through what they wear, how they style their hair.

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Some of us, who have had the lie that we are “less than” ingrained into our belief systems, we have a hard time seeing ourselves as unique. WE can only see the ordinary, not-standing-out aspects of ourselves.

The thing is? God sees each of us as unique, as significant. He sees each of us through His eternal eyes of love. He sees the beauty, the passion, the fierceness He instilled into each of his creations.

The thing is? We are all works in progress. We are all created by God. He sees each of us as unique. He created each of us with a purpose only we could fulfill. No one else can do what He intended for us to do (see Ephesians 2:10).

In God’s eyes, no-one is common. Each of us is precious in His sight. 

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He understands our failings and looks at them as learning opportunities. He sees the wounds we’ve lived with and sees them as things that can draw us closer to Him. That can conform us into Jesus’ image. God sees His fingerprints in every cell of who we are.

To Him we are not common. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

What about you? What is one unique thing about you? How do you keep an accurate perspective about who you really are?

Click to Tweet: He created each of us with a purpose only we could fulfill.

I’m linking up with Kate over at Heading Home—Common

 

Chosen and Approved: Reflections of Ourselves

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+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Mirrors never lie. The world’s reality is the best reality. Others perceptions are always spot on. Social media speaks the truth at all times.”

When I read these words, my heart remembered the many times I’ve believed and made decisions based on one or more of these lies.

I’ve been the one caught up in believing another’s perspective about me had more validity than my own perspective. In my younger years, I lived as if the world’s reality was the best reality.

Because in my heart, I didn’t see my own reflection as valid. I was certain the world knew best what I should reflect, what I should look like . . . right?

The problem is, those sentences? They’re all lies. And my friend, Mary Geisen , goes on in her wisdom-filled blog to help us understand that there’s more to us than what the physical mirror reflects.

I am honored to partner with Emily Conrad and Mary Geisen in this series: Chosen and Approved: Untangling Our Identities from People and Perfection. The three of us are still works-in-progress, learning to find our identities and value in Jesus alone. We’d love for you to join us each Tuesday through November 8th and share your journey with us.

You will find the rest of Mary’s post at her lovely blog, Passage Through Grace.

And, if you missed last week’s introductory post, you can find it right here. You can check out the live posts right here.

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkUp

Affirmation: Looking For Five Stars

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+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I am at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference this week. I had intended to put up a fresh blog, but I ran out of time. I hope you will enjoy a little post I wrote a few years back. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. I’m going to do my best to respond to comment and comment on your blogs. Please have patience with me. 🙂

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I recently visited a friend’s blog. She had wonderful news to share, and I eagerly celebrated with her. I happened to notice at the bottom of her post that people had given that post a five-star rating.

Hmmm. I wondered if anyone had given me a five star rating? Or less? Here’s where it gets sad (in that I did this to begin with). I checked my recent blog posts, and sighed.

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Doubt: Remembering Truth

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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. 

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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.

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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

 

Follow: Where Do You Seek Affirmation?

3 Big T, little T

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—FOLLOW. 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!

FOLLOW

Affirmation comes easy on social media. We “like” a post. We “follow” a person on Twitter, or Instagram, or Facebook, or Pinterest. If we’re the one being followed, yay for us!

As one who’s prone toward being an affirmation-seeking-addict, it’s so easy to get caught up in the “follow-me” kudos social media offers. I admit it, when someone follows my blog, it makes me feel good inside. Like maybe I’m doing something right. I’m reaching someone that day.

How easy it is to find my value in the temporal.

We can chase after these temporary, impersonal kudos . . .  

. . . or we can pursue Jesus.

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I need to look to what’s most important in Jesus’ eyes for me. Is writing a part of that? I believe so. Is seeking as many followers as possible a part of it? Not if it’s to gain affirmation from each follow.

One of my all time favorite worship songs reminds me where my heart should be leaning. Toward following hard after Jesus . . . wherever He leads. It’s not always going to be easy. In fact, it’s rarely easy, or simple. Following Him means sacrifice. Giving up what I want, what makes me feel good to embrace what He wants. What brings eternal value.

When I stop trying to satisfy my desire for affirmation from people and look to Him for value? Then I am living just the way He wants.

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When I follow hard after Jesus, my heart’s focused on Him, rather than what this world offers—the temporary feel-good click of a “Follow.” If people do follow me, may it because they see Jesus in me, in the words I type on a page. Not because of me in my limited self.

May we all follow Jesus’ lead, running hard after Him.

What about you? How is Jesus leading you today? What steps have you taken to follow Him as He leads you?

Visit Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday post—Follow

Thank You: Two Meaningful Words

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I read a story over the weekend and watched the accompanying video. And it got me thinking. About gratitude.

About thankfulness.

November is a natural time to focus on Thanksgiving. But how much “thanking” do I do during the rest of the year?

As Hubby and I attempt to instill in our boys the beauty of gratitude, I find myself wondering how much I practice this discipline in daily living.

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Affirmation: Five Truths From The Lego Movie

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Being the mother of Lego-lovin’ boys, it’s a given that we would see The Lego Movie. There were so many truths woven into the storyline.

Though the overriding theme of the story is that everyone is special, one of my favorite sub-themes was the importance of affirmation. Emmet, the main character is just another Lego construction guy.

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Identity: Am I Enough?

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Last week, I shared a few thoughts about things that molded my identity. I borrowed the analogy of gold stars and gray dots from Max Lucado’s children’s book, You Are Special.

When I chased after the gold stars, the question, “Am I enough?” dominated my thoughts.

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Identity: Gold Star Standard

My next couple posts will explore a little bit about identity, and lessons I’ve learned the hard way about my identity. Hopefully, it’s not too transparent! I look forward to your thoughts.

**For the record: The pictures in this post are only meant to illustrate what were once important gold stars. 🙂

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“My name is Jeanne, and I’m a gold star seeker.”

“You’re a what?!”

I’m a gold star seeker. I learned at a young age how good receiving a gold star feels compared to having a gray dot pasted to my proverbial skin. (See Max Lucado’s book, You Are Special.”)

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Affirmation: Looking For Five Stars

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Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I recently visited a friend’s blog. She had wonderful news to share, and I eagerly celebrated with her. I happened to notice at the bottom of her post that people had given that post a five-star rating.

Hmmm. Had anyone given me a five-star rating? Or a four-star rating? Here’s where it gets sad (in that I did this to begin with). I checked my recent blog posts, and sighed. There were no stars at all. Then, I stopped.

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