Christmas, Hope

Christmas: Hope in Waiting

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

As I read this verse this morning. It stopped me. No, Micah isn’t a book in the Bible that most people flip to when they think of Christmas. Here’s what stopped me:

In this season of Advent, we wait for the Lord’s appearing. For Jesus’ birth. Many of us still watch for Him in our daily lives.

During Micah’s day, the people waited for God to show up . . . when they weren’t distracted by idols. Micah waited for God to fulfill His word. He spoke with confidence, declaring that God heard him. I love that confidence!

In our busy, modern day society, we still hold that longing to be filled, to be heard.

Today, we wait to see Him act in our lives. We yearn to know we are heard by Someone greater than ourselves.

We hold onto hope that God will hear us. That He will answer us. 

In his time of waiting, Micah clung to the hope that God heard him. That God would answer in His perfect timing.

As we watch in anticipation of Christmas, may we watch for God’s fingerprints upon our lives, and in our world. May we keep our hope steadfastly set on Him and Him alone.

Please know that you, my readers are a great gift to me. Thank you for your encouraging words and insightful comments this year. I pray you will know the hope and anticipation of Jesus’ coming, and the gift He gave us on the cross. May your time be spent with loved ones and in knowing that you are loved by One who is crazy about you.

I’ll see you back here on January 2, 2018!

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Being Still, Christmas, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Only: What Was It Like?

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—ONLY. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. We write for five minutes on a given word. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out the Five Minute Friday website. 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!

ONLY

What must it have been like for Joseph and Mary that first night of Jesus’ life? Before even the shepherds came? Before townspeople began to whisper? Before the wise men visited?

When they were the only two beholding the Savior of the world wrapped in dirty cloths, nestled in their arms?

Did awe overwhelm them as they gazed into His perfect, tiny face? As they watched his lips twitch and pucker for sustenance?

What must it have been like? 

To be the first to see hints of what this baby boy would look like?

The chilly night breezes . . . the earthy scent of animals nearby.

How was it to be the only ones with Jesus, before angels announced His birth?

In the quiet of the stable, Joseph and Mary must have adored their baby. Perhaps gazed in wonder that the essence of God who created everything could be captured into the body of one wee babe.

What must it have been like to sense God’s presence hovering over them in the stillness of the night?

When I think about the chaos that now accompanies “Christmas,” I wonder if we’ve lost that sense of awe, the beauty of stillness.

What if we were able to focus only on Jesus? If we let the cacophony of the malls slip away, even for a little while, and sat in His presence . . . could we know His presence?

I have not been great about being still and giving my heart only to Him. I have let the busy-ness of preparations creep in and distract my mind and spirit.

But maybe, in the days that remain, I can spend some time only with Jesus.  Sitting in awe of this God-man who shed heavenly robes to put on rags and walk among mankind.

Maybe I can worship Him as I listen to Christmas songs and sing them.

He is the only one worthy of our worship. When we set our hearts on worshiping Him—on acknowledging the gift He gave—maybe we can re-discover the joy-overflowing that comes when we’ve been with Him.

What about you? How do you worship Jesus in the middle of the busy Christmas season? What is one of your family’s favorite Christmas traditions?

This will be my final post until the new year. I want to take time to bed fully present with my family and simplify my schedule for the next few weeks. Know that I cherish each of you, my readers, and I will pray God meets you wherever you are and reminds you that He is truly “God with us.”

Click to Tweet: How was it to be the only ones with Jesus, before angels announced His birth?

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Only

Christmas, Community, Trusting God

Provide: How God Provides

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

It has been said there’s nothing new under the sun. Things people dream up, actions carried out, sins committed, heroics undertaken—all have been done before

In all of history, one person faced something no one else would ever experience . . . Mary. She alone was gifted with the privilege and the heartache of being mother to the Son of God. And with unique opportunities to see God’s provision.

Continue reading “Provide: How God Provides”

Christmas, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Near: Drawing Near

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—NEAR. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. We write for five minutes on a given word. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out the Five Minute Friday website. 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!

NEAR

The boy cuddled so close to my side I think he would have curled inside my skin, if it was possible. His warmth heated my arm, my waist. My arm swung around his small frame, scooting him in close. And my heart melted all over the place.

There is something about the nearness of a child that undoes me every single time. Knowing one of my guys, or even another child, wants to be that close to me.

For one person to stay that near someone there must be a level of trust. My boys considered me (probably still do, judging from the testiness some days) their safe place. Mama was the place you went when feelings got hurt. When you got scared. When you just needed the reminder that, yes, you are loved, no matter what you do.

That nearness is a trust-place.

I wonder if that’s how God feels about us? He longs for us to draw near to Him. To cuddle right up next to Him, knowing He will keep the world at bay for a little while.

I believe He longs to comfort us when life goes sideways. He longs for us to trust Him like a child trusts his parents. He yearns for the intimacy that only comes when we draw near.

He’ll never force Himself upon us. But He’s there the very second we want to draw close to Him.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, I can’t hep but think of the way Mary’s heart must have dissolved into pure love as she held her swaddled son near her. As she cuddled him close to her, and planted soft kisses on His downy head.

Maybe we can draw close to Jesus even as we prepare to celebrate His birth, and hence the amazing work He did on the cross. Maybe we can remember how much He loves us and take moments to draw near to Him in the days leading up to Christmas.

What about you? What is your favorite memory of drawing near to someone you love(d)? How have you seen God draw near to you?

***I may not be able to comment and visit blogs tomorrow (Friday), but I am looking forward to visiting blogs over the weekend.***

Click to Tweet: He longs to comfort us when life goes sideways.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Near

Christmas, Priorities

Christmas: Finding Peace in a Stressful Season

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Peace on Earth. Good will to men.”

How many of us crave peace? ’Tis the season when we hear about it. We sing about peace. We talk about the Prince of Peace who came from heaven to earth on our behalf.

Yet, in a season when this word—peace—is tossed around like a fix-all, it seems tiny compared to the stress that pervades every moment.

Continue reading “Christmas: Finding Peace in a Stressful Season”

Christmas, God's Love, Uncategorized

Christmas: The Greater Gift

christmas-cross-1

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I think this is one of my favorite images of Christmas. We celebrate the amazing gift of Jesus in the manger. But the even greater gift came as Jesus offered Himself in our place on the cross. What kind of love is this?

It’s the kind of love that leaves me humbled and feeling small. And yet, knowing I’m loved with that kind of passion fills me with a deep-down joy. As Christmas draws nearer, I am taking a break to spend time with my family.

Know that you, my readers, are a great gift to me as well. I thank God for you. May your Christmas be one that holds much joy, leaves you with treasured memories, and confirms that truth that you are greatly loved by our heavenly Father.

I’ll see you back here on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 (can you believe it?!).

Merry Christmas!

Christmas, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Intentional Living

Now: Living in the Now

Christmas on the outside

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—NOW. 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!

NOW

I’ve written before about living in the now. And most of the time, that’s where I want to be.

But I confess, in the middle of a crazy season the now is all I see. This moment. The huge to-do list to “make Christmas happen.” My soul longs for more than this moment offers. More depth. More peace.

At the beginning of the month, I wrote about the peaceful season I was determined to have. Yeah, well . . . Unexpected business trips, a kiddo coming down with strep, and the opportunity bless friends by watching one of their kiddos put a huge dent into my idyllic peaceful season.

My now has felt weighted down by the burden of the things to do, to organize for our Christmas season.

My now has been consumed with wrapping presents, getting them in the mail, running errands, and planning for happenings later in the month.

gift-wrapping

Sometimes, I wish my now looked different than my reality. I wish that each moment could be filled with quiet, with a sense of God’s presence.

When the to-do list grows, my shoulders stoop. When all I can see is the tasks demanding my attention, my spirit deflates.

When that’s all my now holds, I end up weary.

I know that’s not where God wants me to live. Sometimes our nows are temporary states. Other times, they are conditions where we have to choose how to respond.

joy-shelfIt’s a little over a week before Christmas, and I’m choosing to change what my now looks like.

Instead of the tasks ruling my days, I’m giving myself permission to enjoy certain activities, like watching old Christmas movies. I’m reminding myself of the beauty of spending time with my guys in the family room, lit only by Christmas lights.

I don’t have to get all those cards in the mail before Christmas. It’s in the moments when my boys want to cuddle, to talk, or to goof around that now feels most pleasant.

Those moments are my priorities, my gifts from God and from my boys.

how-will-i-spend-my-now-copyI don’t want to look back on this season, only to regret missing the gifts God gave me in my “now.”

Each moment is precious. Each moment I live with the opportunity to make a choice. How will I spend my now?

What about you? How do you choose the best over the “must?” How do you make your moments count?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung at Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Now

Click to Tweet: Sometimes, I wish my now looked different than my reality.

Calling, Christmas, Trusting God

Christmas: God’s Provision in Difficult Times

Mary Manger copy

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

**I first posted these words a few years ago, but I believe they bear repeating. May you be encouraged as you read today. :)**

*****

It has been said there’s nothing new under the sun. Things people dream up, actions carried out, sins committed, heroics undertaken—all have been done before

In all of history, one person faced something no one else would ever experience . . . Mary. She alone was gifted with the privilege and the heartache of being mother to the Son of God. And with unique opportunities to see God’s provision.

Continue reading “Christmas: God’s Provision in Difficult Times”

Busy-ness, Christmas, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Intentional Living

Crave: When We Want More

christmas-mugs

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—CRAVE. 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!

CRAVE

First of all: I confess, I went slightly over five minutes on this one. I hope you’ll allow me a bit of grace. 🙂

~~~~~

It’s only December first and I’m already weary. It’s been “A Week.” With internet woes and an injury requiring stitches, I already feel the glare of this month, as it tries to stare me into submission. As it attempts to make me obey its whims and plans.

But what I crave is times of stillness, of quiet moments with Jesus. It’s only as I spend time in His word and in worship that I am able to recalibrate my spirit.

It’s the only way to get through a busy season without arriving at Christmas morning exhausted, grouchy, and worn down. I’ve had too many Christmas seasons where I do and do and do. I come to the morning most anticipated by my boys . . . too tired to enjoy it.

The older I grow, the more I crave simplicity. The only way toward simplicity is to be intentional.

So instead of letting the month of December stare me down, and tell me I have to bring about all our traditions, say yes to every invitation or opportunity to serve, I’m going to be intentional.

say-no-to-some-good-things-copy
I am going to pray before saying yes. I’ve learned that I need to say no to some good things to say yes to the best things.

I may sound idealistic, but I am taking control of this month, as best as I can.

I’m going to say no to certain traditions because we simply don’t have time to do them this year.

I’m going to pray for God’s guidance before committing to anything.

I’m going to be intentional about savoring moments with my family. Our boys are growing quickly. I love to laugh with them. To talk about the things on their hearts.

If I’m too busy with trying to make things happen, I’ll miss those moments. I’ll miss Jesus’s whispers into my heart about what’s most important.

I don’t want to arrive at the day where we celebrate Him too exhausted to care. I don’t want to wake up on December 25th and wish it was over already.

Big hands little hands 2

If I am intentional now, I can satisfy the craving in my spirit to connect with Jesus. And the bonus will be having a heart open to His promptings about the other things that come up this month. And maybe, just maybe, I won’t feel quite so weary come Christmas morning.

What about you? what does your spirit crave during December? How do you feed yourself during busy season?

Click To Tweet: I crave is times of stillness, of quiet moments with Jesus.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung Five Minute Friday—Crave

Busy-ness, Christmas, Perspective

Gift: What We Can Give To Others

Jesus ornament

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We are officially in the holiday season. Though there’s not much snow and festive weather in my corner of the country, it doesn’t change the fact that the holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving is in the past and Christmas looms large in my life’s windshield.

Hubs and I have completed most of our shopping. But there are parties to prepare for. Boys’ band concerts to attend. Activities to do so we can build memories with our quickly growing up boy-men. A house to decorate. Things to make. Gifts to wrap. Things to DO.

Continue reading “Gift: What We Can Give To Others”