Control, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Turn: Trusting God’s Timing

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

TURN

A couple of months ago, I was rounding a clover leaf turn to enter the highway. I may have been taking it a little bit fast, but I’d done it at this speed many times before. 

All of a sudden, it was like the wheels were slipping . . . I braked and the vehicle began sliding toward the other side of the road, and moving toward tipping over the edge. 

I sent out one of those arrow prayers . . . and navigated as carefully as I could with no sudden movements of the steering wheel. I (being a vain thing) wondered what the driver behind me was thinking. 

Seriously though, every time I take that turn now? I am driving below the speed limit.

As I considered tonight’s word, I realized there are other life curves I take too fast. And when I do that, I begin to slip across the road and onto the edge. I don’t want to tip over. 

I push against God’s timing for my writing journey. I want my boys to be more mature than they actually are. 

They are boys, after all. TEEN boys.

I want things to happen at a certain speed. 

Basically? I want control. 

When I try to speed up God’s timing, I always end up disappointed. Sometimes I end up hurt as I drive myself off the turn lane and into the ditch.

I’m learning I need to be still before the Lord. To trust His timing.

He knows what my publishing journey needs to look like. 

He knows the lessons my boys are internalizing that will lead them toward a healthy adulthood. He knows the best timing for everything in my life. Every desire in my heart—if/when it should be fulfilled.

When I take life at God’s speed, I find it much more peaceful. Not always easy, but definitely less stress-filled.

Trusting the Lord to bring about things in my life has been one of the hardest, slowest, most-soul-filling life lessons. 

What about you? When have you found yourself taking life’s curves too quickly and what did God teach you? What helps you trust God’s timing in your life?

Click to Tweet: When I try to speed up God’s timing, I always end up disappointed.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Turn

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Easter, Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Settle: Settling the Bill

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

I could have gone so many ways with this word! But, here’s my slightly-over-five-minutes offering.

SETTLE

My grandfather was a hard man. He loved his family, but he was strict and tight with his finances when it came to certain aspects of spending money.

Shortly after hubs and I were married, we were stationed in Alabama. We would sometimes go to visit my grandfather and his wife. One Sunday they took us out for a nice brunch. My grandfather insisted on settling the bill.

The thing was, he was not a good tipper. I won’t tell you what he left, but it was insulting.

I’ve worked in the food industry. I know how hard servers work. So, I went in and left a generous tip for our server.

When I came back out, my grandfather asked, “Did you go back in and leave more of a tip?”

I stood straighter. Looked him in the eye, and with only the slightest quiver in my voice, I replied, “Yes, I did. She gave us good service, and she deserved it.” I was nervous about what his response might be, but he turned and headed to the car.

Jesus is so much richer than my grandfather. He’s good, sacrificing, and generous.

There’s no way for us to settle our debt with God. Jesus is the only One who can pay the bill our sin has incurred. 

And in the paying of that bill, He’s given us the gift of eternal life with Him. Even if salvation was the “only” benefit to come from believing the gospel, from accepting Jesus as Lord, it would be enough. 

Jesus gives so much more. He’s given us grace to walk through our days.

To make mistakes and to learn.

To grow in the grace and knowledge of Him.

Jesus has given us His acceptance and the benefits of being embraced in the family of God.

He’s given us the gift of faith, so we can know Him more.

And, He’s gifted us with His unconditional love. There’s nothing, no-thing, we can do that will make him stop loving us. His benefits are much better than the tips I left for servers over the years. Even the one that went to a certain server in Alabama.

As we enter into this weekend —as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection—may we remember that He has settled our bill. He has left the tip . . .with us. Grace, faith, and love.

What about you? When have you had the chance to be generous in giving to someone else? How have you seen Jesus lavish you with His love?

Click to Tweet: Jesus is the only One who can pay the bill our sin has incurred. 

Come read other great posts on Five Minute Friday—Settle

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Provide: What God Provides

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

PROVIDE

Each day, as I drive the boys to school, we pass this pond. I love it. It reflects the mountains when its surface is glassy. It provides food for geese and ducks and other birds.

It’s just pretty to me. Snapping pictures of it makes my spirit happy.

I’m sure as some people drive by and watch me walk to the pond to snap photos some mornings, they may think I’m just this side of crazy.

It’s a pond.

In the middle of a city.

Right next to a development of apartments.

Big deal.

But, God brings beauty from it. Through it. He offers food for the water fowl. And glimpses of His glorious color for those who take a second to glimpse that way when they drive past.

How much more does God provide for us? His provision may not look like we’d expect. Sometimes He doesn’t provide what we think we need.

But God.

He knows exactly what we need.

As the geese need a place to land, rest, and feed, so we need places in our days—our lives—to land and be filled. Physically Spiritually. Soul-fully.

And He gives this. In Psalm 23, the first verse is meaningful to me. “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

He knows what I need. If He’s provided something—whatever that is—He knows I needed it.

And, if He doesn’t give me something I think I need . . . did I really need it?

I have seen Him provide for many of our family’s needs, and a number of our wants.

But those things He hasn’t given . . .

sometimes He’s saying, “Wait.”

Other times He’s saying, “This isn’t My best for you, Daughter.”

Like those geese, I need to trust that He knows. And if He hasn’t given it, then I must not need it.

He has a better plan for me. For my life.

As I walk through my days, I want to see His beauty. His provision. I want to be on the lookout for His presence in my days.

What about you? How have you seen God provide in your life? When has he not given you something you thought you needed and offered you something better instead?

Click to Tweet: He knows what I need. If He’s provided something—whatever that is—He knows I needed it.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Provide

Five Minute Friday scribblings

Tired: When We Live On Too Little Sleep

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

TIRED

I suffered with insomnia for the first six years of our marriage. Two to five hours of sleep was my norm. One day, I was so tired, I drove home from somewhere and didn’t even remember going through a couple of major intersections.

I don’t recommend driving when you’re living on so little sleep. But sometimes we have to do what we have to do, even when we’re tired. Don’t we?

In this season of life, there’s way more stuff to do than time to do it. For the last number of years, I’ve caught my bedtimes slipping closer to when the clock hands point straight up. I still wake up at o’-dark-hundred, though. I’ve held my list as more important than sleep.

I don’t think that’s how God wired us. He knows we need rest. He’s created us to need it if we want to thrive.

The thing is? When I live a lifestyle of not-enough-sleep, I miss out. I drive through my days without really experiencing them. I survive, but I’m not thriving. And I don’t remember the important things.

I miss out on time loving on my boys, time connecting with my husband and friends. I’m too tired to really focus on the important. Instead, I tend to choose dealing with the urgent, so I can mark that next thing off my to-do list.

When I’m tired, I am shorter-tempered with my boys. Less compassionate when they’ve had a tough day. I miss the nuances in their body language. My husband is patient with me, but he sometimes worries about me when I’m not sleeping enough.

There are seasons when we simply have to push through the tired. But something or someone is sacrificed when we live that way. Sooner or later, our bodies will demand rest. And we’d be wise to give it.

In this, my fiftieth year, I’ve been working to sleep more. I’m choosing rest over to-do’s. It’s when I am rested that my body feels best, my mind functions at it’s best. And I’m most attuned to the things God wants to show me in the world around me.

Tiredness tints my days in gray. Being rested colors my days with brightness and joy.

I eventually got a handle on the insomnia and began sleeping normal-people amounts again. And with that came more clarity in my thinking, more intimacy with my Father, and more joy with my people.

What about you? How does tiredness affect you? What helps you stay rested?

Click to Tweet:  When I live a lifestyle of not-enough-sleep, I miss out.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Tired

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Perspective, Trials

Beauty: Looking For Beauty

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

BEAUTY

The Weather Channel lied to us on Monday. What was predicted to be a cold, breezy day morphed into a snowy, gray day. I always look for the beauty in a day. I see it in fog. In clouds. In sunlight.

But a gray day is still  . . . a gray day. Not as much color. Dreary. One of those days when a girl wants to stay inside, eat popcorn and watch movies or read a book until the sun come back out.

Tuesday started out foggy, but by the time I dropped the boys off at school, the sky was a brilliant blue. Snow-tipped trees brushed it with pure contrast. My heart was happy!

It got me thinking about how we go through seasons in our lives that are dreary.

HARD.

Sometimes the hard passes and blue skies return.

Sometimes, we walk through the Hard for the rest of our days.

One thing I’ve found is, if I can look for the beauty in the midst of the Hard, my heart is often pointed back to God.

When circumstances overwhelm me with discouragement and even despair, it’s difficult to see beyond the colorless pain.

When God reveals Himself color begins to tint the gray. When I look beyond the pain of circumstances and choose to cling to faith in Him instead of reliance on myself? My eyes can see hints of His beauty in the middle of the hard season.

God is always faithful. We may not always see how God works, but we can always be assured that He is there in the hard seasons with us.

If we seek His face, He often reveals glimpses of Himself. When the days are gray, let’s look for His beauty, shall we?

What about you? When have you seen God’s beauty in the midst of your hardship? What aspect of God’s creation is the most beautiful to you?

Click to Tweet: If I can look for the beauty in the midst of the Hard, my heart is often pointed back to God

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Beauty

Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Why: When There Are No Answers

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

WHY

When I saw the word for tonight, an old Point of Grace song came to mind. 

I thought about the heartbreak in the news this week of the school shooting in Florida. I’m not sure I’m ready to write about this yet. As I prayed and pondered about what I would share, “Who Am I?” came to mind. It’s comforted me on the roads of heartache.

*****

There are so many questions in my mind, my heart, that begin with Why?

There are times when I wish I had the answers, the capability of understanding the workings and secrets of God.

I don’t understand the why’s of being rejected by my peers as a child and the heartache that season inflicted on me.

I don’t understand why God allowed my husband and me to be unable to bear biological children when teen moms could and aborted. I don’t understand why we walked for years on the infertility road.

This is what I know. There are going to be questions I will never see answered this side of heaven. Just because God may not choose to answer my Whys, doesn’t mean He doesn’t love me, or that He loves me less than others.

When my eyes are wrapped up in the whys of my own life, I am me-focused.

Maybe the better questions to ponder revolve around Him.

Why would He choose to love me, and all the people He’s ever created? Why would He pour out His grace on us, even when we sin against Him and each other? Even when we walk away from Him?

Why would He choose to strengthen His children to walk through this life’s hard with His light shining through us?

Why?

One word: LOVE

We may not understand why things happen in our world. They break our hearts. Hurt us to our cores.

We may feel oh, so alone sometimes. Lost.

We’re not.

In those seasons when we ask WHY . . .

. . . we are single

. . . Married to _____

. . . Unemployed

. . . Working in a difficult job

. . . Losing a loved one

. . . Dealing with cancer and illness

. . . Devastated by life’s heartbreaks

Those are the seasons we should be seeking God Himself rather than answers.

Sometimes the answers are beyond our understanding.

But our Father? He is intimately acquainted with us. He loves us. He walks with us in the midst of the hardest seasons. He knows the answers we’re ready for, and the ones we’re not ready for.

Maybe when we want to ask why, we can choose to trust instead, to rest in His love and care for us?

What about you? How do you respond when God offers silence in answer to your Why? When has God given you an answer to your why?

Click to Tweet: Why would He choose to love me, and all the people He’s ever created?

Linking up with Five Minute Friday—WHY

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Intentional Living

Privilege: When We Have Much

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

PRIVILEGE

I’ve never felt so humbled as the evening I showed simple pictures of my family to the Filipino people surrounding me. We were told to bring a few pictures on the mission trip that we could share. But nothing that conveyed all that we have in this country.

So, being the scrapbooker I am, I selected a few pics of my oldest son (10 months old at the time), my hubs, and called it good.

That night people looked at my boy, but what they saw was our home. Their comment was: “Wow, you have a big house.”

Oh, the thoughts that raced through my mind. The backdrop behind my boy was dim.

I almost cried.

They had no idea that this picture was snapped in our living room. Not seen in the pictures was our dining room, kitchen, family room and the second-level with bedrooms.

They had no idea. What “normal” looks like in the United States.

And neither did I. What “normal” looks like in the Philippines.

I realized that evening how very privileged we are in the United States. Most families have at least one car. More than one bathroom in their homes. Multiple televisions. And things to call their own.

Too often, we take what we have for granted.

Privilege defined by Merriam-Webster: “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor: prerogative; especially: such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office.”

When I read tonight’s word, the thought that resonated most with me was that, compared to heaven, we are dirt poor.

And yet, Jesus left His paradise, His perfect place, to live among us. He left his “‘mansion,” so to speak, to live in a hovel.

Why?

Love.

Jesus gave up His privileged position out of love for us.

He came to a dirt-poor planet because He loved us more than His position in heaven.

How can we not choose to love those who have so much less than us?

No, I’m not saying we are all called to sell everything we own and move to Africa, though there are those who do.

What can we do from here?

What about loving through prayer?

Through giving to organizations who help those in need?

What about through finding the single parents in our communities and coming alongside them?

We don’t have to look far to find those who are much less privileged than us.

May we choose to be like Jesus and give up some of our conveniences to love others the way He does.

What about you? What have you seen that reminds you how privileged you are? How are you intentional with your resources?

Click to Tweet: Jesus loved us more than His position in heaven

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Privilege

Authenticity, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Agree: Can We Be Authentic?

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

AGREE

God has imprinted the word, Authentic, on my heart. I spent a year focusing on that word, and God taught me much.

More than almost anything, I want to live an authentic life. One that reflects Jesus through words and actions.

A life that is honest and real with those around me. Especially the ones I love the most.

Authentic and Agree do not always co-exist.

For decades I spent so much time trying to be agreeable. To fit in. To be accepted.

I could agree with almost anyone (within reason) and think I was being honest. With myself. With them.

But the truth is: we are not always going to agree with people. Things will be done that bother us. Words will be spoken that hurt. Are unfair. Untrue.

Do we just have to brush over it for the sake of agreement? Of unity? Of being godly?

Sometimes, to agree with someone is to be inauthentic.

It’s easy to agree with others to avoid conflict. But when that’s the main reason for agreement, we lose a piece of ourselves and gain compromise and falseness.

We don’t have to enter into conflict all the time. But we need to accept the fact that there will be times when, to be authentic is the higher calling. To agree with someone or something will strip our “real-ness” and replace it with a phony.

Can we be authentic and disagree with someone? Yes. Can we do it in love? Hopefully.

This is what God calls us to. When we disagree with another, may we do so in a loving way. God doesn’t call us to be right or even authentic above all else. He calls us to love.

This looks different depending on relationships, circumstances. But if we can reflect His love in a situation, authenticity can weave deeper into the fabric of who we are.

What about you? How do you disagree with someone in a loving manner? How do you live out authenticity?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes to agree with someone is to be inauthentic

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Agree

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Infertility, Trusting God

Surrender: Making the Choice

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know part of my story is a walk through the valley of infertility. As I thought about this word, God brought to mind a lesson from those years . . .

And I’m sorry, I went a few minutes over five tonight . . . 

~~~~~~~

SURRENDER

Was it too much to ask? Really?

All I wanted was the gift of being able to bear a child. To carry one within, go through the blessed pain of birth, of sustaining from my own body . . . God created women’s bodies to do this.

So why couldn’t mine? Why wouldn’t mine?

This desire to bear children is God-given. It wasn’t too much to ask.

Yet every month, my body betrayed me by acting normal, as it always had.

I begged God. Begged friends to pray. Did research on how to get pregnant.

But God.

I wept. I got angry. I felt despair at times. Deep despair.

And still, no baby.

I spent hours in God’s word. Tried to serve. Tried to ignore the fact that teenage mothers were having babies they didn’t want. And I (and Hubs) who wanted a baby couldn’t have one.

I fisted this desire and held it tight in my heart. So tight I thought my heart would crack.

God finally challenged me. He showed me how I had made this baby-thing an idol. It had become more important to me than an authentic relationship with Him.

He challenged me to surrender this craving for motherhood. To lay it in His hands, with no promises.

And it was one of the hardest things I’d done up to that point in my life.

As I searched verses for this post I saw a common thread in surrender. When we surrender something, or ourselves, we have to choose to do so. We have to choose to give up . . .

Give up ourselves, our hearts, our desires. We have to Let. Go.

When we are obedient in the surrender, God honors that. He spares things. He blesses His people. He handles us with love. No matter what we’ve done. How willful we’ve been.

When we refuse? When His people won’t surrender? Things inevitably become more difficult.

When we cling to our own way over God’s way? He can’t make anything good come of that. He will wait and let us wear ourselves out. He doesn’t love us less. But He won’t usually wait too long for us to make a different choice.

When we choose to walk in disobedience, we walk outside the umbrella of His protection. And the consequences will come.

When we choose to walk in the center of God’s will, He affirms us in that choice. He doesn’t always make it easier. Sometimes it feels harder.

But when we surrender our will to walk in His? That’s when we walk with assurance.

Surrendering this deep-hearted desire for motherhood brought me to a place of humility. It also renewed my love for God.

And in time—His time—He gave us the gift of our two boys. I’m not sure if I’d ever have  had the privilege of being their mom if I hadn’t first chosen to trust God when He told me to let go.

What about you? What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to surrender? What is the most impacting lesson you’ve seen come out of surrendering?

I love this song by Lincoln Brewster and it fits with this week’s post. I hope you enjoy it!

Click to Tweet: When we choose to walk in the center of God’s will, He affirms us in that choice

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Surrender

 

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Intentional Living

Intentional: Living With Intention

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

As I learned what our word is for this week, I had to smile. I spent last year focusing on this word: Intentional. As I prayed tonight, I got excited about what I might share. So…here goes…

INTENTIONAL

One year ago, I had some understanding of what it means to live intentional. Walking through 2017 focusing on this One Word was transformational for me. God taught me how to be more intentional in my relationships with my family, with friends, with Him, and in writing.

I learned a lot about what it means to live intentional.

I got lots of practice on relating with our boys as they mature and walk out the teen years. I became intentional in the words I did—and didn’t—share.

God still has much to teach me about living every area of my life with intentionality.

The biggest thing He’s speaking to me about right now is to do life WITH Him.

To parent with Him.

To “wife” with Him.

To write with Him.

God wants me to do things with Him. He doesn’t want me to do everything on my own and then ask/expect Him to bless the work of my hands. Done in my own strength.

By myself.

When I commit my ways to the Lord, when I trust in Him? That’s when he goes to work in my life.

But more than that, He wants me (us) to remember that I’m not “doing life” alone. He is always with us. He yearns for intimacy with me and each of us. He wants us to remember we are not orphans. We are loved. Deeply. By a caring Father.

When we walk through life we can intentionally draw near to Him. Commit our thoughts, desires, fears, frustrations, those deep yearnings of our hearts to Him. 

We all have things we’re called to do. Whether it’s caring for others, for animals, vocations, nurturing relationships . .. He wants us to do these things with Him.

More important than the things we do, we are the main thing with God. Not our dreams, responsibilities . . . not our jobs, our callings.

Intimacy with God . . .

When I’m intentional about spending time with Him, seeking Him out each day, He renews my perspective. And God aligns the other things in my life. That is the best way to live intentional.

What about you? What helps you to be intentional in how you live out each day? How do you define “Intentional?”

Click to Tweet: God wants us to remember we’re not “doing life” alone

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Intentional