Purpose: When We Don’t Understand

foggy-morning-trees

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—PURPOSE. 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!

***Confession: I took a couple more minutes than five to write this.***

PURPOSE

Last year, I shared a little bit about how I put my brave on and sent in a manuscript to an agent. I had done my very best to it. Had people read it and give me their insights. I thought it was ready.

Turns out, it wasn’t.

I was beyond discouraged. A small part of me briefly (very briefly) considered ending my writing journey.

What was God’s purpose in helping me put on my brave only to be rejected? 

I had to take some time to work through the discouragement.

The agent didn’t send a blanket “thanks-but-no-thanks” letter. She gave me feedback on how to improve my manuscript.

fog-in-the-grasses

 

Can you say G-I-F-T?

As God helped me work through this, He gave me the opportunity to work with a very godly woman who challenged and stretched me. The first time we talked, I was crying within two minutes because God showed her things she couldn’t have known about me.

He decided it was time to do some healing in my heart.

This purpose could never have been accomplished if my manuscript had been accepted by that agent. God used much of last year to unlock emotions within me that I had pushed down since girlhood.

He used those months and the insights from my mentor to teach me the beauty of trusting Him and close friends with my honest thoughts and feelings. For some people, this is basic stuff.

For me, who was shaped by the lie that certain emotions were not acceptable? And that to gain acceptance (and avoid rejection) I had to only show the acceptable feelings . . . this has been a scary and incredibly freeing journey.

God always has a purpose in allowing us to go through the hard.

Often we don’t understand the fullness of it until after the fact. When we’re in the moment—in the strong emotional season—we can’t always see the work He is doing behind the screen of our life.

god-always-has-a-purpose-copy

 

We have to come to a place of being able to view our circumstances through God’s lens.

Then, He might give us a glimpse of His purposes for allowing us to walk through hard times.

Often, those hard seasons bring us to the end of ourselves. They strip us of self-centeredness. And, when we let Him, God sands off a little bit more of us so a little bit more of Him shines through.

What about you? When has God shown His purpose to you? What have you learned during the hard seasons of your life?

Click to Tweet: God always has a purpose in allowing us to go through the hard

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung, where many other wonderful writers also link up. Five Minute Friday—Purpose

Park: When Our Dreams Are Parked

waiting-for-a-catch

 

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—PARK. 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!

PARK

I pictured 2016 going in a very different direction than it has. I envisioned myself finally moving forward in my dream of being published. Or at least being agented. I had sugar plum visions of that happening early this year and then working with said agent on my book. Readying it for the world.

Silly me. I guess I forgot to consult God’s plans and timing in my dreams.

Instead of moving forward, I’m still parked where I’ve been for the last few years. Unagented. Struggling at times to do the writing. Disillusioned at times.

The thing is? I may not be moving forward externally toward my dream. But God’s been moving in me.

From the torn ACL in January to today, He’s been teaching me a ton.

He’s moved me into a deeper place with Him. I’m not parked in the same spiritual spot I was last year.

He’s teaching me to be honest with Him. To express those ugly emotions that He can handle hearing. And He won’t strike me down for feeling and expressing them.

Sometimes it’s in choosing to be honest with Him that I am freed from chains that have bound me since childhood.

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He’s teaching me to wait on Him. Waiting chafes at my spirit some days. I just want it now. (Do you hear the inner toddler in me screaming to get out?)

But it’s in the waiting when I can become still enough to draw near to Him. To hear His whispers of love over me. 

He’s teaching me to listen to Him. I’m learning to hear His voice in my days. No, it’s not audible, but I’m learning to hear what it sounds like. Yes, I ignore it sometimes. And then I regret it.

He’s teaching me to trust Him. With my dreams and with every area of my life. His timing is always, always perfect. Even when that means my dream doesn’t move forward in my time frame.

running-at-sunset

So yes, in some ways I have been parked in the same place. But in the most important ways, I’m moving right into the plans He has for me.

What about you? When have you felt parked in a  situation and how did you handle it? What lessons have you learned in the waiting times?

Click to tweet: His timing is always, always perfect.

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

Comparison: When Others Move Ahead

Nashville bridge at sunrise

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

There’s something special about gathering with a big group of people who share a common dream. Attending the American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) national conference in Nashville this year was such a refreshing, uplifting experience (just don’t ask how much sleep I got).

Talking writing with others who “get me,”

who understand the joys of a story coming together,

the uncertainties of where our dreams might be leading us,

the disappointments of a “No” when we pitch our book ideas . . .

there’s a sort of reassurance in this community.

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Dream: Staying Strong

Sunkissed white flowers

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Chasing a dream rarely looks the way we expect it to. Real life, in the form of boys home for the summer and writing disappointments, has swooped in and sapped my enthusiasm.

I thought I would be much further along in my journey by now. Yet, here I am, in the same place I stood a year ago. Only, not entirely.

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Dream: When God Is In the Process

Morning sunshine in trees

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Whenever we make up our minds to do something bigger than ourselves, we’re going to face opposition.

It may look like normal life gone crazy . . .

Physical challenges . . .

Loved ones becoming ill . . .

Unexpected obstacles that crop up . . .

Discouragement . . .

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Alone: Blessings in Alone Time

Ps 37-4

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

ALONE

In 1994, I attended eleven (yes, eleven) weddings, and I was a bridesmaid in three of them. At that point in my life, all I wanted was to be a wife and a mom. I was a teacher, which was great, but I was doing life alone. And at that point, a small part of me feared I would always be alone.

During that season of my life, the Lord taught me a few things. First of all, He gave me a verse to cling to—Psalm 37:4. He reminded me that when my desire is Him, contentment will always follow.

Contentment isn’t always an easy gift to choose. But once we cling to it, peace seems to be the surprise gift that tags along behind. What the Lord showed me during that time alone was that my focus could be on Him only, and He was a great place to focus!

I found myself during those alone times. I learned not to dread a Sunday afternoon by myself. I had the freedom to read a novel, or study the Bible. I could play volleyball with friends, on a whim.

I began to see aspects about me God wanted to work on, changes that would conform me into the image of Jesus.

Bench Alone

In those alone times I learned to be okay with not having all my dreams right then. Sometimes God uses those uncomfortable seasons in our lives to prepare us for the dreams He has for us. He scrapes out the chaff we’ve allowed to grow within our hearts, and He replaces it with His clear presence. He enables us to reflect him more accurately.

He prepares us for when He does bring our dreams to fruition.

If I had met my husband before 1994—if I was planning a wedding that year—I would have missed out on some of the gifts He had for me. I would have been into the role of wife, without completely understanding the beauty that comes from putting Jesus first. I would have missed out on the blessings that come from solitude . . .

. . . Of knowing His nearness.

Sunset glory

There were times when the loneliness ate at me. I’ll be honest. Mother’s Day three states away from my mom? All my married friends spending time with their families? Yeah, it was hard.

But, I learned to seek Jesus in those days. And in His presence, I’m never alone.

What about you? What blessings have you gained in the “alone times?” How have you handled times when you didn’t want to be alone but were?

Visit Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday post—Alone

Dream: Pursuing Dreams God’s Way

 

Les Brown dream quote

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

DREAM

For decades, I was afraid to pursue a dream that had been on my heart since I was about thirteen .  . . To write.

Oh, I’d write in my journal, use descriptive language, and try to be coherent. I developed a love for God through writing out my struggles.

Hearing His voice through the written words, when I could hear it no other way.

But a few years ago, He upped the stakes. Or shall I say, He upped the calling. . .

. . . To take my writing from the privacy of my journal to a much more public, and intimidating venue—blogging and pursuing publication.

He began to prepare me to fulfill the desires He’d placed on my heart as a teen. To write a book.

Sometimes, God walks us through years of equipping—preparation—before He begins to grow those seeds, those dreams, He planted within our hearts.

He allows that dream to die. Not the dream itself, but our perceptions of what the dream would look like.

Then, He begins to give us His vision of what that dream will look like.

Open Gate

One obedient step at a time. It’s only as we take the first step that He shows us the next. We can stop at any stage of the process, but we’re the ones who miss out . . .

. . . On the beauty He’s fostering within us

. . . On the blessings He has for us on the journey

. . . On the closer relationship with Him

. . . On the fulfilling of the dream.

It’s never an easy thing to pursue a dream. I’m still dying to myself one day at a time. Learning to trust Him to bring me to the next place on this writing road. Still releasing my vision for the dream to come true. Still writing, making mistakes . . . and seeing how He brings accomplishments along the way.

Seeing a dream fulfilled is never really a solo project. If it is, I’d bet the dream is incomplete.

Sun dappled road

As I learn how to write for Him—to trust His timing for each step of this journey—I’m a little more conformed into the image of Jesus. Reflecting Him a little more clearly.

What about you? Is there a dream you’re afraid to pursue? What’s stopping you? What’s one lesson you’ve learned as you’ve pursued a God-inspired dream?

Visit Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday post—Dream—and link up!

Door: Walking Through

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By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

DOOR

For years—decades even—I wouldn’t go near the door. The door that God placed in my heart that would open to let me explore my heart’s desire. If only I would be brave enough to turn the handle and see what was on the other side.

I’d told myself since I was a teenager I would never be qualified to walk through that door. That I wasn’t creative enough, or knowledgable enough.

The door? Writing.

I’d always yearned to be a writer. But man, it’s intimidating to try and come up with words someone else will want to read. And an entire book? Bar the doors now. Jeanne could never, ever walk through that particular door.

Manor Door 2

But, sometimes, God . . . He gives a nudge. Sometimes He sparks the idea which is the beginning of inspiration, which lights the first embers of bravery.

And so I walked through it. I dared to share a crazy story idea with a friend who said, “You need to write that book.”

You can bet I was shaking in my flip flops after that little get together.

The funny thing is? As I have walked further inside the writer’s world, I’ve learned that often walking through a door leads to greater dependence on Jesus. He’s teaching me many lessons I never would’ve learned if I hadn’t been brave enough to take the first steps through a door I had marked “never.”

Trusting God to give me words. Story ideas. Characters.

And He hasn’t set me on this journey alone. He’s placed friends, encouragers, confidantes on my path to walk alongside me.

Sometimes it takes trusting God when he gives that nudge.

GE Door

I never would have learned how to look to Him to define me if I hadn’t taken that first step through a door I had locked from my side.

God cracked it open, and the funny thing is? Since He did, I’ve found joy in ways I never thought I would. He’s brought me to the end of myself many times and shown me more of Him. He’s helping me learn to reflect Him to the world around me.

I would have missed all of this if I had let fear rule my decisions and never stepped through the door I’d marked “never.”

What about you? Is there a door God’s nudged you to walk through? Do you have any dreams you’re reluctant to explore?

Visit Kate Motaung’s site for Five Minute Friday—Door

Dreams: What Makes Dreams Come True?

Dreaming doing

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

For years, I dreamed of writing a book. But, fear kept me from trying. Fear that I couldn’t be creative enough to come up with good plots and characters, or good enough to actually interest readers, or . . .

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