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!

Advertisements
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”

Busy-ness, Christmas, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Thanksgiving

Enjoy: When Life Is Busy

Thanksgiving Breakfast table

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—ENJOY. 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!

ENJOY

I cannot believe Thanksgiving is in ONE. WEEK. Where has this year gone? How much activity and busy-ness will these final weeks hold?

It’s going to be a struggle to not get sucked into the siren’s call to get everything finished. Concerts attended. Hugs given out. Letters completed and mailed out. Presents wrapped. Parties attended.

With so much busy-ness and unexpected happenings on the calendar? How does one enjoy the season?

As I recall, Jesus came into this world on a quiet night. The world was bustling around Him, but He came in stillness. And in stress. Joseph sought a place for Mary to give birth to Him. The Savior of the world.

He didn’t come into the middle of a big city. But in a stable. With the low rumble of animal breathing for His lullabies.

Shepherds were His greeters. And a few wise men.

candles-stillness

The point is, there was some busy-ness, but there was also sacred stillness.

I’m staring down the squares that represent the days left in this year, and if I let them, they are going to consume me.

I could come to December 31st tired. Disappointed in the things the season didn’t hold.

I feel the stress. I want the stillness.

The beauty of thinking about this now is that I have time to make some choices.

Because in the midst of the busy-ness, I can create times of stillness. I can choose to slow down enough to savor moments with my husband, our sons. With extended family. With friends.

I get to decide which activities I say yes—or no—to. I can decide what I do so I can enjoy this season.

in-times-of-busy-ness-copy

After all, we’re celebrating giving thanks, aren’t we? We’re rejoicing in Jesus’ birth in a few short weeks. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t want us so worn out that we can’t enjoy the party. That we can’t savor being with Him.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about for this post, but I think the post found me. God’s giving me a nudge to choose to enjoy. Not to endure. And not to exhaust myself.

What about you? What choices can you make to enjoy this season? How do you create moments of stillness during this time of year? 

Click to Tweet: I feel the stress. I want the stillness.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s site Heading Home—Enjoy

Christmas, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Hope, Joy

Tender: Jesus’ Reflection Through Us

Christmas on the outside

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—OUR CHOICE. Yeah, this one scared me a little bit. But the word came quickly, so here goes!

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!

TENDER

This week we lost a student in our high school. It’s left our school’s community in shock. Though my boys aren’t in high school yet, they’ve been impacted.

When I heard the news, my heart cried for that mama. She’s probably already bought Christmas gifts for her chid. Had plans and ways to make memories with her family. This family who will walk through their first Christmas without this precious son.

What happened to “peace on earth, good will to men?” What’s happening in our world that strips away the tenderness in our hearts, our spirits?

We’re divided with so much to do in a season that should also encompass joy. And yet, so many are struggling with hard, hard situations.

My prayer this Christmas season is that I would have a heart that is tender toward those hurting in my circle.

That I would see beyond the smiling exterior and know how to speak a word of hope or encouragement.

That I would take the time to see beyond the surface and speak something that would make them feel just a little bit better.

snow-blown landscape

This season is not always happy and cheerful for people. Especially those who’ve lost loved ones this year.

And yet, Jesus.

Jesus knows the hurts so many people face. He knows that celebrating this Christmas is beyond them. Maybe all they have energy for is to get out of bed. To try to—I don’t know—eat a meal.

May we who are not in those hard situations right now look beyond the busy-ness in our own lives, and at the very least, take a moment to pray for those hurting during this season. May we take that extra moment to express, “I care” through words to those in pain.

Jesus didn’t tell us to be happy all the time. And though He gives us joy, there are times when the feeling eludes us.

He does exhort us to be a reflection of Himself. When Jesus saw someone hurting, He came alongside them, spoke truth and hope to them. Not condemnation. Not fake euphemisms.

Jesus ornament

With this unexpected death rocking our little school community this week, it’s got me thinking about how I can celebrate Christmas with authenticity, with a tender heart and with eyes that see beyond the initial and into the “real.”

May we see people around us through Jesus’ eyes and reach out to them with His tender love.

What about you? How do you grapple with the tragedies and still hold onto hope? What’s one thing you do to celebrate Christmas authentically?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday. Click to see many other great posts!

*****

I am taking a little blogging vacation to spend time with my family. As you celebrate Christmas, may you know Jesus’ presence in special ways.

I’ll see you on January 5, 2016!

Christmas, God

Gift: God’s Love

snowy layered morning

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I was reading in Ezekiel 46 recently. This chapter talks about how the prince went into and out of the temple to worship the Lord. Verse ten says the prince goes into the temple among the people, and out among the people. It got me thinking about how—though he was elevated in his position, his importance in the community—he was still on equal footing with everyone else before God.

Continue reading “Gift: God’s Love”

Christmas, God, Identity, Intentional Living, Uncategorized

Light: Light in the Darkness

Christmas Star

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

As we head into the Christmas season, it’s so easy to see the darkness in our world . . . terrorists claiming the lives of hundreds of innocent people, like in Paris a few weeks ago . . . mass shootings here in the States, false religions drawing people into their belief systems. Commercialism claims the hearts and minds of people everywhere.

Continue reading “Light: Light in the Darkness”

Christmas, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Priorities

Seasons: Seasons Pass

Snowy branches

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—SEASON. 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!

SEASON

When my boys were little, I felt like I had cling-ons attached to my legs for-ev-er. But now, one is on the cusp of the teen years, and I am seeing how quickly the time flies by. In a few more years, he won’t be here to share family dinners, to make me laugh out loud, to drive me crazy by leaving his socks on the floor (okay, I won’t miss that part). My season of active mothering slips, day-by-day, into the past. And sometimes, it scares me a little bit.

As I look at the Christmas season, I’m a little amazed that we’re already at December 3rd. Sure, Thanksgiving was just last week. I’m seeing all that I feel I need to complete, and how the days speed past with very little marked off my to-do list.

Sun Shimmers

As I contemplated this word tonight, I was reminded that seasons pass. And when they’re gone, we’ll never have another one that’s just the same. We have one chance to live that season well. Because once it’s gone, it’s only a memory.

The beauty, the heartache, the awe-moments . . . slip into our past. Will we remember these aspects of our seasons?

How do we live each season well? The answer lies in finding that mix of living in each moment, yet still being purposeful with what God gives us to do.

For Christmas, my tree’s up, and we had a great time decorating it.

Will the Christmas letters all be mailed out on time? I’m not sure. I want to keep in touch with people, but my family is my most important priority.

As I purpose to insert stillness into my days, not as much is going to be accomplished.

Edmund and the cross

But what is the most important thing in each season of our lives? Living well. Loving well.

When we do these things—when we seek Jesus to know how to live them out—then we can rest in the truth that we are blessing Him.

What about you? How do you find the balance between the doing in a season and the living in each moment? What’s your favorite part about the Christmas season?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday—Season. Come read other great blogs!