Embrace: The Power of an Embrace

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—EMBRACE. 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!

EMBRACE

There’s something indescribable that happens in my heart when one of my boys slings an arm around my waist or my neck. From the time they were infants, there was something so . . . accepting in the simplicity of them wrapping their arms around my neck and squeezing.

Something so beyond satisfying as I held them close to my body.

Nowadays, those embraces come less often, but the sense of love—of safety—that comes for each of us is almost palpable.

There’s something that conveys safety in the wrapping of an embrace.

It’s true with physical embraces. What about those intangible embraces?

 

When we walk through a difficult season and God shows up? When He reveals himself in a way only God could? That’s like an embrace. It’s a tangible reminder that He loves us.

When He brings me face-to-face with something in my heart that needs change? That’s a hard embrace. But the hopeful thing is, He doesn’t just show me, He helps implement the change in the perfect way only He can.

Only a loving Father embraces the hard places in us and loves us enough to bring about change. Because it’s often in those hard lessons learned that we are gifted with freedom.

When we walk through seasons when that desire we’ve longed for, maybe even pinned hopes on, doesn’t come? We have to learn to trust. To wrap our arms around our Father’s neck and cry into his shoulder.

He holds us close and whispers words of love and truth as we pour out our hearts to Him.

 

God’s embraces may look a little different than we expect. But we can be assured that His safety is always there for us.

He’s not a predictable God, or a “safe lion,” as C. S. Lewis wrote, but He is always a good God, a loving Father, and a safe haven for us.

What about you? When have you experienced God’s embrace in your life? What’s one way God has taught you to trust Him?

Click to Tweet: What is in an embrace?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Embrace

See: When We Need to Look Upward

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

He sat by the temple gate called Beautiful. He was lame in both legs. Couldn’t even walk to his begging post.

What must he have felt? He couldn’t limp, much less walk, to the temple gate. Someone had to carry him there. No doubt dust kicked up into his face as people passed his begging post.

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Broken: When We Let Jesus In

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

She entered the city leader’s home. Quiet, probably unobtrusive, carrying an alabaster vial of something.

As Jesus and His disciples sat at the table of the leader, she broke her vial over His feet. No doubt the aroma permeated the home, filling it with the heady scent of the costly perfume.

I wonder what everyone thought. No one said a word to her, at first. The men talked around her as if she couldn’t hear them. As if she was invisible.

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Stuff: Renewing Our Hearts and Minds

Rocky doorway

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is the final installment of a three-part series about creating white space in our homes and our lives. You can find the other posts here.

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Purging a closet, much less a room, can feel overwhelming. When we do the work, a room is opened up . . . and so is something inside of us.

But what things do we need to purge from our internal closets? Last week, I shared a few thoughts on our schedules and fear. What else sits on the shelves of our closets? Here are a couple I’ve worked on purging from my heart.

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Stuff: What We Hold In Our Hearts

early-morning-reflection

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is part two of a three-part series about creating white space in our homes and our lives. You can find the first post here.

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Last week, I shared a bit about how I repurposed my “junk/project” room into a creativity space.

Purging stuff from our homes can become addictive. At least for me. As I worked through the things in my “creativity nook,” joy infiltrated my spirit. There is something about opening up space that opens up breathing room in my spirit.  Continue reading

2017: One Word

 

wave-rolling+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

How can it be 2017 already? Though we’re in the middle of winter, what some may consider a drab season, a new year has begun, full of hope. Promise. Uncertainty.

There’s something within me that does little leaps when the calendar turns to January first. Call me crazy, but there’s always a sense of anticipation to see what God is going to do in the next 365 days.

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Chosen and Approved: You Are—Your Identity in Christ

chosen

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We are in part five of  the series, Chosen and Approved: Untangling Our Identities from People and Perfection. Emily Conrad, Mary Geisen, and I 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.

This week, Mary Geisen writes:

“the world paints lies with just enough detail to resemble your outline and you visibly shrink against the portrait wishing for so much more.”

 

These words caught me, because I’ve been the girl she describes. I look at the outline of the world’s lies, or incomplete truths, and I take that as gospel. And I wish for so much more than the picture painted.

So many voices vie for our attention, don’t they? The world, shouting its messages of what we should look like, what we should do, who we should be . . .

There are those messages in our own minds . . . the ones that tell us how we have failed, not lived up to others’ expectations (or our own).

If you’re at all like me, it gets kind of noisy inside our heads sometimes. All those words, spoken in condemning, demanding tones of voice (that sound suspiciously like our own).

How do we filter out the messages? How do we know what we should be listening to? How do we know which of the voices trying to define our identities is accurate?

As Mary says, the world and our own voices often paint an incomplete silhouette of all God has created us to be. We can be discouraged with the often skewed incomplete picture, or we can learn truth that helps us to know which voice we need to listen to.

This week, Mary’s post speaks firm yet gentle truth to a spirit that is weary of trying to figure out what—or who—defines our identity. Join me as I click over to her site to read the rest of her encouraging, uplifting words.

Today, I’m linking up with Katie Reid for #RaRaLinkup

Mail: Receiving Heart Mail

junk-mail

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—MAIL. 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!

MAIL

When I was a girl, I waited for the clack of the lid of our mailbox (attached to our house). I would watch the postman from our front window, walking away in his blue uniform, and I’d eagerly check the mail.

I rarely received any mail with my name on it, but a girl could always hope, right? There was something about holding a letter, a card, from someone that made my heart leap in warmth. To know someone thought enough of me to write a letter (remember those?), stick it in the mailbox and send it my way.

It just touched my heart in deep places.

These days, I almost dread getting the mail. Most of what comes in is junk mail. There’s general mail I don’t have time to read, and almost nothing personal. I miss those days of finding more personal mail than junk mail in the mailbox.

good-mail

 

It got me thinking about the mail my heart receives. We do receive mail, you  know. Those messages that speak to our heart one way or another.

Those messages that discourage us, that leave us feeling like we’re lacking in some way? That’s junk mail filling up the spaces in our hearts with nothing of value. Just papers that should be thrown away.

We have to be diligent to check our heart-mail. To see what we’re believing and holding onto as truth. We need to throw away those emotional, mental fliers that hold no value.

Those messages that come in and affirm who we are as people? As children of God? Those are the letters we need to cling to . . . to re-read when we need the reminders of who God created us to be.

Heart in Pages

 

And God’s word is the best mail we can deliver to our heart. His life-giving words, the messages of affirmation, the love letters He sends just to us . . . those things we should clutch in our fists, spreading them out to re-read whenever our hearts need a boost.

What mail has been delivered to your heart lately?

What about you? What are your memories of mail from your growing up years? What mail has your heart received lately?

Click to Tweet: We have to be diligent to check our heart-mail.

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

 

Collect: When We Collect Hurts

A cup of tea

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—COLLECT. 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!

COLLECT

What do you collect?

I used to collect tea cups—one from every country I have visited. I’ve collected stamps, scrapbook papers, and other things that I would use or hope to use.

I’ve recently discovered I’ve been collecting something else.

Hurts.

I know, it sounds horrible. But I have. I’ve stored up in my mind and my heart those painful memories, hurtful words, and spiteful actions others put upon me.

God’s recently been showing me that I have a tendency collect these things.

Though collecting tea cups can add beauty to a shelf or a space, and stamps and scrapbooking paper can create beauty and reminders of special times . . .

Collecting hurts? That only promotes a whole lot of ugly.

Broken leaves

Unforgiveness.

Bitterness.

Painful sores on my heart.

God is reminding me that I need to let go of those hurts. To forgive, which is a hard, hard process.

Those hurts? They keep coming up to the surface of my thoughts. Different nuances of the conversations and situations reveal themselves.

The only way I can truly forgive is to make the decision I’m going to, and then ask God to enable me to.

Forgiveness is a choice made over and over again.

For the people who have hurt me, and I’m still holding onto those hurts? I’m asking God to give me a heart that genuinely loves them. Yes, LOVES them.

Each time a memory comes up and an acerbic word slips from my mouth? I have to confess it to God. Which reminds me to pray for that person, and for my own heart.

Some hurts can only be forgiven with God’s help. Some wounds can only be healed with God’s touch.

white flowers snowy backdrop

For me, the first step is admitting I have a problem. With the person. The wounds of the memory.

The next step is confessing my own sin of withholding forgiveness.

The third step is choosing to let go of the hurt and ask God to change me (before I ask for change in the other person).

I’m tired of collecting hurts, and them taking up space on the shelves of my heart. I want beauty to replace the ugly that’s been on display.

What about you? What do you collect? How do you work through forgiving the hard to forgive?

Click to Tweet: Forgiveness is a choice made over and over again.

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

By the way, Susan Shipe has coordinated The FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY BOOK with a number of Five Minute Friday posts in it. It released on Monday, September 26th! If you choose to purchase one, all the funds go to support two ministries in South Africa: The Vine School in Cape Town, and The Ten Dollar TribePlease consider helping these ministries and being blessed by the words of many wonderful writers!

its-a-five-minute-fridaybook-2

Community: Live in Community

Morning light on flowers

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I sat at my kitchen table, golden light filtering in. My back door slid open to let in the cool of the morning. As I closed my eyes I heard chickadees singing, dogs barking and a baby crying. Soft sunlight glittered on the puddles of last night’s rain storm. Piano music played from my computer.

As I listened to the noises all around, felt included in our community.  Continue reading