Authenticity, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Excuse: Why We Use Excuses

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

EXCUSE

“Mom, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to get ice-cream without permission.”

“I have to do this thing in my room (translate: goof off for awhile) before I do my homework.”

“I can’t help this behavior, it’s just the way I am.”

“Sorry, I’m having an off day. Normally, I keep all my appointments, and I’m five minutes early.”

Excuses.

We’ve all used them. I find we tend to fall back on them for various reasons. They cover over an aspect or a shortcoming within us that we don’t want exposed.

We may want to avoid trouble. Or avoid doing something unpleasant.

Or perhaps we’re trying to veneer a shortcoming. Or slip on a mask that make us look better to someone else.

As I thought about excuses, I realized that most of the reasons we use them is to cover or hide something that we consider inadequate about ourselves.

We don’t always want to own our mistakes. We’d rather hide them and justify why we did (or didn’t) do something.

Using excuses often reveals our struggle with insecurity. We don’t want people to see the real us. We are afraid people will find us lacking in some way.

Or am I the only one who deals with that?

When we try to justify something we did and make it sound okay?

The “I’m sorry I’m late. I’m usually five minutes early.”

We want to make ourselves look good to someone else.

The thing is? God knows our hearts. He knows the areas in our hearts where we’re afraid we fall short in the eyes of others.

God’s not asking us to wear a facade in front of those around us. He wants us to be authentic.

When we own our mistakes to others, we open the door to vulnerability.

When we admit our desire to get out of something, our real-ness provides a safe place for others to admit when they have felt or done something similar.

And, when we own the fact that we are less than perfect? Wow. That is a powerful testimony to others. Because it’s only when we’re willing to strip away the excuses and let God shine through the cracks in our lives that we can truly reflect Him to those around us.

What about you? How do you choose authenticity over excuses? What’s the funniest excuse you’ve ever heard (or used)?

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Excuse.

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Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trials

Overcome: When Trials Come

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

OVERCOME

God never promised this life would be easy. We all face trials. They can refine us, renew us. They often show us how much we need Jesus.

I have this nasty habit of trying to get through trials in my own strength. I plow through the days, trying to break down the barriers, and get back to my version of normal.

The thing is, God doesn’t allow trials into our lives so that we can navigate them in our own strength. Sure, there are times when we can handle them. And be done with them.

But, how many times have we faced that trial that’s as high as a mountain and as intimidating as a grizzly bear breathing down our backs?

God wants us to walk through those seasons of life with Him. Not in front of or behind Him. He wants us to let Him help us.

When those hard times show up in our lives—and we all face them—He wants us to overcome. The only way we can, though, is by acknowledging how desperately we need God’s help. Our God is greater than anything we’ll face in our lives.

But, if we face those hard times alone, in our own “strength?” We’ll be mown over, sooner or later.

God sometimes waits for us to invite Him into the hard. Sometimes, He withholds the overcoming until we’ve endured the fire that removes dross so we reflect Him more clearly. 

And this almost always comes through having the humility to ask God to walk alongside us. To ask Him to be our barrier-breaker. To be the One who gives us strength. 

Sometimes, God’s just waiting for us to acknowledge we can’t do “it,” whatever “it” is on our own. Whether it’s pursuing a calling, working toward a dream . . .

Whether it’s facing a scary diagnosis, a job loss, the death of a loved one . . .

He wants to see us victorious, and He wants us to trust Him to walk with us on the journey.

Whatever we are facing, we will overcome with God’s help.

I love Joshua 1:9—

He commands us to be strong and courageous. He tells us not to be afraid or discouraged, but there’s only one reason we can own and live out this command . . . and it’s because He is with us wherever we go.

What about you? When have you sensed God’s presence with you in a trial? When have you seen Him overcome a situation in your life?

Click to Tweet: Knowing how to walk through trials makes all the difference

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Overcome

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Mothering, Relationship

Discover: When They Talk

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

DISCOVER

His eyes had held the look all night. That expression saying something was on his mind, but he wasn’t sure if he should talk about it. Maybe all teens wear that expression. I know mine do.

Whenever I’m invited into the inner sanctum (a.k.a. his room), I try to say yes. That night, he asked me to walk to his room with him before he went to bed. What followed was an amazing conversation of questions, reassurances, honest sharing. I closed his door over an hour later, my heart full.

I’ve prayed for years that during these most trying years we would still connect with our sons. 

But friends.

Friends are so important to both of our boys.

Hanging out.

Being accepted by their peers. All of these things often seem to take priority in our boys’ hearts.

That night, though, I discovered something. My boys? They still want me in their inner circle.

I think this is true with most—if not all—teens, even when they seem to push us away.

No, we don’t talk as much as we used to. But the beauty is, when I take time to just listen as they express their fears, their thoughts, their joys, their secret desires? 

That’s a gift.

 

Nothing can replace knowing that they will share their confidences with me.

I know I’m just their mom. But, . . . I’m their mom.

Our boys don’t want to push us into the backseat on their life-car-ride. Well, not always anyway. They want us riding in the front seat with them. They don’t always want to hear our words, but they want our companionship. To be told we love them.

No matter what.

They want to know that we will always accept them. Be in their corner. 

And we will.

The discovering comes when we are intentional and take time to listen. Not always to give them advice (and man, is this on hard sometimes!)

Often, they just want to know they are being heard.

I’m discovering the beauty God’s planted in each of them as I listen to their words.

So, the next time one of our boys invites me into his room? I’ll say yes. In a heartbeat. There’s nothing so precious as being a part of their inner circle.

What about you? What encourages you to invite someone into your inner circle? How do you foster relationship with those around you that goes below skin-deep?

Click to Tweet: We can learn the most interesting things 

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Discover

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Hope

Story: Each Story is Unique

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

STORY

We’re each living a unique story. We have our individual experiences Joys. Sorrow. Obstacles. Overcoming.

No two people live an identical life. No two people have the exact same purpose while walking this earth.

Or, maybe we have the same purposes, but God has created us in such a way that only we can influence the people in our sphere.

God has created each of us to minister to those He’s placed in our lives. I can’t replace you in your world and minister as effectively. Nor can you replace me.

God brings beauty into each story.

Walking through infertility shaped me in a way that I can speak into the pain of waiting and of idolatry from the things He taught me.

You have walked through certain kinds of hard that equipped you to be a unique voice in the lives of others.

Though there may be shame in parts of our story, we should not be ashamed of those times. God redeems our shame. He uses those aspects of our story to speak life and truth into people.

Our stories are crafted by our Father. Shaped by His hand. Yes, most of us have gone our own way at times, But God still redeems.

God hasn’t called us to live our stories in shame. He’s called us to live for Him, allowing Him to continue to rewrite our pasts, to counter our lies with His truth.

He still writes His truth on our hearts and over our lives. God writes His love into the fabric of our lives.

He’s giving us opportunities to share our stories with others so that they too can learn what His love is first hand.

When we share the “pretty” and the “ugly” of our stories with others, they find hope. Because they see that God is the One who heals the broken-hearted,

who sings over them with love,

who rewrites the ugliness of their pasts and transforms their presents into beauty.

What about you? What words has God written over your life? How have you seen His hand redeeming your story? 

Click to Tweet: God writes His truth on our hearts and over our lives

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Story

Dependence, Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Depend: When We Think It’s All Up to Us

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—DEPEND. 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 went a little over five minutes. Here’s my offering for the week.***

DEPEND

I sometimes live in an orphan mindset (check out what Allen Arnold says about this). I get into this thought process that it’s all up to me. To mother well. To make time to write. To force story from me. To complete everything on my to-do list.

I depend on myself.

If I could take a poll, I suspect many of us would raise our hands admitting that we struggle with this kind of mindset from time to time.

We depend on ourselves as if we alone are responsible for the outcome. Whether its in fulfilling a dream, or a calling. Or being the spouse/parent we are called to be. Or (as a friend reminded me) in waiting.

I hate that I forget to depend on God. He is the One who gives dreams. Who places callings on us, in our hearts.

He is the only One who can fulfill them through us. And that, only as we come to Him with our crazy-desperate need.

When we are waiting for things to happen,

for the next step of a dream . . .

the next direction in a calling . . .

the next step toward a change in life . . .

we need to turn to the One—the only One—who is truly, completely, lovingly dependable.

I’m learning to turn my heart over to Him more quickly when I begin to stress about something. When the kid has a stinky ‘tude.

When the hubs and I have an argument.

When the story just. Won’t. Come. Forth.

It’s not all up to me.

Sometimes God allows us into the hard places—those circumstances that are way bigger than we are—so we learn to depend on Him for the outcome.

He is the only One who can create something from nothing. Who can bring hope in times of discouragement. He wants to walk these times out with us.

Our Father is the One who can fulfill us and fill those gaping places within us.

We can’t give ourselves more than what we already are. Does that make sense?

We can’t fill the empty spaces within ourselves.

Or make things happen that are naturally beyond us.

Only God can.

When we trust Him . . .

When we choose to believe that He is with us in the hard, in the discouraging . . .

When we choose to hold to the truths in His word regardless of what life tells us?

When we choose to do life with Him, no matter what circumstances tell us?

That’s when we will see Him move. Maybe not in the ways we expected, but always in the ways that are best.

What about you? How do you foster a mindset of depending on God during uncertain times? When have you seen Him “show up” when you chose to depend on Him?

Click to Tweet: We depend on ourselves as if we’re responsible for the outcome

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Depend

Check out this song, “Take Courage, My Friend.” It’s been on my heart all day!

Community, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Mothering

Support: When We Feel Alone


+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

SUPPORT

The moment the boy entered the car he was all about telling me about this great speaker who said a lot of things that he loved, and I . . . didn’t. Not that her thoughts weren’t accurate. But it was probably that my boy heard what he wanted to hear.

And he proceeded to pick apart every aspect of parenting that Hubs and I employ.

I smirked at one point. And white knuckled the steering wheel really hard at another. And I may have been a little heavy on the gas pedal.

See, some of the thoughts he conveyed are things I’ve been struggling with as a mom.

Mothering teens feels so lonely sometimes. 

And when the kid comes at you with everything he perceives is wrong and why he should have more of this and less of that? It’s enough to deplete the joy right out of me.

When the garage door went down, he stormed to his room, and I strode quickly to mine. And I breathed.

And I prayed.

And I realized I really, really needed to talk this out with a friend who’s further along the mothering journey than I am.

As I talked with her, some of the doubt pinging in my mind—the anger churning in my spirit—dissipated.

God used her words to renew my perspective.

We all need the support of others in our lives. God has given us those who have gone before us to help us navigate the hard seasons, the tricky decisions.

And He’s gifted us with others coming up behind us on the journey.

Whether they are in the parenting road, the dream-chasing road, or the hard-knocks road.

We always have the support of others, if we’ll seek it out. We also have opportunities to be a support . . . if we’ll open our eyes to find them.

After time distanced us from the solar flare, the boy and I were able to move forward together. He knows he has Hubs’ and my support. Even though he may not always like some of what we say.

We’re family. We love each other through the struggles and the joys.

What about you? How do you support those around you? How have others supported you?

Click to Tweet: We all need the support of others in our lives.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Support

Community, Five Minute Friday scribblings, God's Love

Neighbor: Crossing Borders

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

NEIGHBOR

One of the downsides of living in a big city is that everyone is occupied in their own lives. We’ve all heard about the neighborhoods where people drive into their garages and close the doors. Setting up borders around themselves and their families.

I miss the small town feel of neighbors standing out by the mailbox and chatting for awhile. Getting the paper for each other when one neighbor is out of town. Of borrowing a cup of sugar.

When is the last time you asked your neighbor if you could borrow something because you were in a pinch for your evening meal?

Neighborhoods should be more than a place where a bunch of houses stand right next to each other.

Neighbors should be more than people who live adjacent to us.

Says the one who has—too many times—closed her garage door because she has too much to do to stop and talk.

What if we crossed each other’s borders every now and then?

What if we decided to be brave and talk with the person at the mailbox or the person out walking their dog?

What if we reached beyond our own border with kindness and with a desire to be Jesus-with-skin-on to those around us?

How many times have you been brave and reached out, and been surprised to find genuine connection with another?

It takes risking our comfort to love others as Jesus does. We must reach beyond ourselves and care for others more than for our own convenience.

Isn’t that what Jesus did? He got into peoples’ business and offered them hope.

The woman at the well received freedom the day Jesus reached out to his “neighbor.”

If we can set aside a few minutes in our schedule to at least open up the opportunity to say hello to a neighbor, I wonder what God could do? What He might reveal to those who people our lives and live close to our borders?

The only way we’ll know is to be brave and reach out.

What about you? What sort of neighborhood do you live in? What’s one way you have reached beyond your borders to those nearby?

Click to Tweet: It takes risking our comfort to love others as Jesus does.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Neighbor

Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Guide: Which Voice Do You Listen To?

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—GUIDE. 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 have a very busy day tomorrow, but I will respond and visit over the weekend. Can’t wait to read your words!

GUIDE

There’s nothing quite so jarring as hearing your son’s voice on the other end of the phone and his first words are: “Mom, I’m not hurt.”

I was at a writer’s conference last year, listening to our keynote speaker, when my cell phone buzzed. Coming from hubs’ number, I had to answer. We’d been like ships crossing, and I longed to hear his voice.

When my boy responded to my, “Hello?” and said those four words, my heart ratcheted into high gear.

I asked what happened. He told me a story of how on a hike, he, Hubs, and another leader had gotten separated from the rest of the Boy Scout troop. The hike had gone, let us say, in unexpected directions.

My son and the two men with him, slid down a shale hill. Thankfully they only bore scratches from their “adventure.”

They had been following the voices of the rest of the troop, but said voices got further away. So, they just hiked in the direction they thought would be the fastest way back to camp.

After a long downhill slide over scratching, sharp-edged rocks, they eventually caught up with the troop.

It got me thinking. How often do I follow the world’s voices assuming they’re leading me in the right direction? They may offer good guidance sometimes. But other times?

I end up sliding down into a pile of discouragement and being scratched up by the lies.

I am learning that the world has its opinions, and wants to strip my of my identity.

And God has His truths and wants to affirm me in my identity as His girl.

The world will try to guide me away from the Father because it hates Him. God will always be there to guide me into truth.

The question is, which voice will I listen to? I get to choose. God’s way never leaves me with permanent scratches on my heart. That sounds much better to me.

What about you? What truths has God shared with you that have given you good guidance through a situation? How do you discern between the different voices in your life?

Click to Tweet: God will always guide me into truth

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Guide

 

Contentment, Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Place: Finding Our Heart Place

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

PLACE

If only it was as easy to set up house for my insides as it is for my outside self.

I’ve moved a few times in my life. In each location, I’ve set up a place to live, a place that filled me in one way or another. That opened itself to a husband, and eventually two boys.

Marrying my husband provided a place for love. A place where I’m offered daily reminders and illustrations of God’s love for his children.

There’s still a place somewhere in me that is searching for home.

We are such complex, layered creatures. God didn’t make us one-dimensional. He’s created each of us uniquely. Which lends itself to each of us facing unique wounds.

I’ve sought to heal those restless places within me through seeking acceptance, approval, affirmation. At times, I’ve compromised who I really was in order to gain one of these things.

All the while, God had a special place for me to come and rest. He’s already given me (and each of his children) a place of acceptance. When our wandering hearts can settle into the truth of His word, into the reality of His love? That’s when our hearts find their place.

God is the One who fills us.

He is the One who loves us perfectly.

He is the One who heals those wounds within each of us.

When we accept His love, we begin to find our place in the reality of His eternity. We grow in contentment and confidence because we know to Whom we belong.

We know our place in His heart.

Cherished.

Loved.

Accepted.

When I live in this truth, my outside and my inside are filled.

What about you? When has your wandering heart found its home? Where has been your favorite place to live and why?

Click to Tweet: Where do wandering hearts find Place?

Today I’m linking up with the Five Minute Friday community—Place

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Relationship

Retreat: When Connection Happens

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous as July 21st arrived. I can admit that, as excited as I was, some of those ingrained insecurities tried to resurrect themselves in my thoughts. What would it be like spending the weekend with women I’d never met in person?

The locals said it was the hottest weekend yet this summer in Kansas City.

But oh, meeting so many amazing women was a cool drink of water to my thirsty spirit. From the moment I arrived until the final good-bye hug was given, my spirit was refreshed.

Continue reading “Retreat: When Connection Happens”