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

Abandon: Living Abandoned or With Abandon

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—ABANDON. 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!

ABANDON

I’ll never forget the expression on our two-year old’s face when he thought we’d abandoned him. The terror, the people circling around him as his frantic eyes searched for us. I scooped him in my arms and tried to comfort him, but it took a long time.

How many times have I walked into a situation where I felt like an orphan abandoned?

Feeling that sense of abandonment does wretched things to a spirit. We feel the need to control everything. We’ll do anything to not feel abandoned.

The hard thing is when we grow up, and we’re still trying to control everything, we end up sacrificing intimacy with others—and with God—in our attempt to feel safe.

That’s the tricky thing about God. He is not one we can control. When we come into a relationship with Him, we have to choose.

We can only go as deep in intimacy with Him as we are willing to relinquish our perceived control.

When we let go of a little control, God moves into the space we have left open to Him.

But we have to trust Him. We have to believe that He loves us and that He only allows those things into our lives that will benefit us . . . sooner or later.

 

As we release the grip we’ve had on our lives,

. . . as we choose to trust Him,

. . . we begin to live life with a beloved child’s mindset. Not in an orphan’s mindset.

When we trust our Father to do what’s good in our lives, we can go from living abandoned to living with abandon.

When we allow God into all the areas of our lives, He transforms us. Sometimes it’s immediate, but more often transformation is a work in progress.

 

Instead of frantically looking around—like my son—we can look with confidence or at least peace.

Even when the hard comes.

Even when we have no control.

Because when we know and trust the One . . . when we look to Him we are never abandoned. We’re never invisible.

What about you? When have you chosen to live with abandon? What lessons have you learned by living knowing you are loved by God?

Click to Tweet: When we allow God in He transforms

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

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.

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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

Slow: What We Need When Life Goes Crazy

Sunlight on waves

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—SLOW. 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!

SLOW

These past thirty days have held constant motion. Frenetic, Unstopping. Stress.

After hubs left on his last trip in January, I discovered our son needed surgery. I already had a surgery scheduled for me. The other son was working on a National History Day project . . . with lots of prodding from mama.

So many unexpected things coming up, sapping my energy. My focus.

Sleep wasn’t coming.

Stress.

Even since hubs has gotten back, it’s been surgeries, follow up appointments, and dealing with illness. Unexpected things happening that needed to be handled.

Those things needing to be dealt with have stolen my margin time. Time I normally use to replenish my soul.

And here I am, near the end of February, hungering for a little bit of slow.

I yearn to slow down the frenetic pace of life. To simply breathe in a day that has nothing planned outside the four walls of my home.

The freedom to let down and lean into Jesus’ presence.

Destin waves in sun

 

God didn’t create us to run on crazy all the time. There are seasons, but it shouldn’t become a lifestyle.

My crazy hasn’t become a lifestyle yet. And my crazy is calm compared to some, I know this.

I’m seeing the need to rebuild margin into my days . . .

. . . To give myself permission to do the things I enjoy.

Even at the expense of getting something ‘urgent’ done.

God encourages us to remember that He’s got this. He’s got a handle on everything that’s happening in my life. Our lives.

He’s not taken by surprise when unexpected things pop into our days.

He’s not sitting in shock and worrying about how these situations will be handled.

He’s encouraging us to look to Him and to remember that we can be still. We can come into his presence, be still, and remember that He is indeed God.

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He wants us to invite Him into the crazy. To listen to His guidance.

To do this, we must slow down a little so we can hear His voice.

What about you? When you’re running in the crazy-mode, how do you slow down? What’s been the biggest help for you when you’re in a crazy season?

Click to Tweet: God didn’t create us to run crazy all the time

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

Weak: When We Are Weak

qt-in-the-morning

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—WEAK. 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!

WEAK

It’s been coming on for the past few months. Weeks of unending demands on my energy, my time, and my spirit have sapped strength right out of me.

Traveling, two surgeries (one for a son and one for me) two days apart, and life still doesn’t stop for recovery. Though my hubs has been wonderful.

I feel weak. I’m doing my best to do the important things . . .

Spending time with God.

Praying.

Exercising (kind of).

Eating right.

Trying (and I emphasize trying) to get enough sleep.

Things keep sabotaging  my best-laid plans to do it all right.

I am so very weak.

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God seems to be using this season in my life to draw me closer to Himself. We can do our best to take care of ourselves—all of ourselves—but that doesn’t guarantee we’ll walk through every season strong.

Some seasons are too demanding. We can’t face them in our own strength. Only with the help of Jesus.

When we can admit our weakness to the Lord, then He can strengthen us with His power, His love, His energy.

These are a few things I’m learning in my season of weakness:

  1. Bring our need before the Lord. Confessing honestly how desperately I need Him
  2. Do our best to take care of ourselves, but don’t rely solely on ourselves to get through these seasons. Only God can bring us through them well.
  3. Share our needs with friends who will pray for us. Some will help in other ways. One friend has sent an encouraging meme daily to lift my eyes to Jesus
  4. Being honest with others about our need gives them a chance to serve us, to bless us, and to remind of of God’s goodness. hoarfrost-pine-needles

 

It is true. When we are weak, and we walk with Jesus, then we are truly strong.

What about you? What has helped you through seasons of weakness? When has God met you in that weak place in a very real way?

Click to Tweet: Some seasons we’re just not strong enough to walk through on our own

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

Breathe: When We Can’t Breathe Deeply

frosty-pine-needles

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—BREATHE. 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!

BREATHE

When I saw tonight’s word, it just opened up a space in my heart. After a busy, busy month, I am having to remember how to breathe. So, here’s tonight’s offering:

I’ve been breathing in short shallow breaths as if my soul has forgotten how to inhale deeply.

After two very busy, totally nonstop months, my lungs are trying to remember what it’s like to just breathe deep.

It’s easy to settle for the shallow when that’s all I can focus on. Hubs’ travels, a little bit of sickness. A few minor health procedures coming up.

Some days I can’t even poke my head above the ocean of the to-do list and look around at the beauty in my world. Too many appointments to get to.

Boys assignments to check up on.

House things to take care of.

God wants us to breathe deep.

I’m trying to be intentional about breathing. This is the only way the deep breaths will come.

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I can rush through my day, focused on the urgent . . .

or I can slow down even if just for a few minutes and focus on the necessary.

The urgent…it will always be there.

The housework.

The homework.

The phone calls.

Emails.

The necessary? This is the better thing. 

My spirit craves those still moments with Jesus.

Sometimes I can’t stop the busyness that finds its way into my days.

But I can control how I respond to it. 

Do all things have to be done today?

Maybe not.

At the beginning of each day, I need to be breathing in God’s living Word. I need to be breathing out praise to Him.

I may not get an hour with Him. I may not even get thirty minutes with Him.

But, I need to BE with Him. Daily. No interruptions.

It’s only as I spend time with Jesus that I am able to do more than suck in the shallow.

It’s only when my heart is still before Him that I can soak in the necessary.

That I can embrace and cling to His presence with me in my days.

frosty-trees

 

It’s when I take time to breathe in His truth, His encouragement, His love that I am able to choose deep breaths during the rest of my day.

What about you? How do you slow down to breathe during the busy days? What reminds you to slow down long enough to breathe deeply?

Click to Tweet: I need to be breathing in God’s living Word.

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

Control: Who’s In Control?

footprints-near-waves

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—CONTROL. 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!

CONTROL

Have I ever mentioned that I might have an issue with control? And the funny thing is, a lot of times, I think God is letting me have control in my daily decisions about how I live life. Yes, you can laugh.

When I was newly married and we’d been “trying” to have a baby, we conceived . . . and lost the child within eleven weeks. I was devastated but convinced if we tried a little longer it would happen.

That was the beginning of my journey into learning how little control I really have.

I prayed, begged, got on my face and cried to God asking for a baby. He wasn’t being capricious or mean by saying, “Not yet.”

He was drawing me closer to Himself.

In that time period, God taught me so much about His sovereignty.

And in His sovereignty, I came to see God’s love for me.

he-had-plans-copy

 

He had plans for conforming me into the image of Jesus that could only be completed as I learned to walk more closely with Him.

As I learned how to trust Him.

And He’s continued with the trust lessons. On this writing journey, I’ve had to drop a lot of my self-sufficiency and my timelines and plans and learn to embrace His.

No, I haven’t always done it gracefully.

As I have learned to relinquish control over things I thought I controlled, I’m learning to walk in a greater peace.

Learning to trust Him with all things—big and small—is one of my life-long lessons. 

I am still not perfect in the trust department, but I am slowly learning to turn things over to him more quickly.

As I have struggled with watching friends progress in their writing journeys, and I’ve seemingly stayed in the same place, God’s teaching me how to give each aspect of “my” writing over to Him.

silhouetted-sunrise

He’s also freeing me from lies I’ve believed all my life. God is helping me to be more real—more authentic—in my writing and in my daily living.

I never would have learned these lessons had He not begun to teach me about Who’s really in control of “my” life.

What about you? What lessons has God taught you about control? How have you come to see His love for you in your life?

Click to Tweet: Can we have control and still trust God?

I forgot to mention…I had the privilege of visiting with my online friend, Holly Barrett and recording a podcast with her. If you want to hear our conversation, check it out at Living a Redeemed Life.

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

Refine: Giving Up Control

docked-sailboats

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—REFINE. 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!

REFINE

True confession: I like control. Not controlling others, but being able to have some control of my life.

And God probably looks down at me some days, and says, “Silly, silly girl.”

Most of the time, I know how my days are going to flow. I’ve got a good feel of what’s coming.

And I like it that way.

The thing is? This way of living requires very little trust on my end.

Recently, God has placed our family in a situation where I have. No. Control.

Something is happening, and it’s way out of my time parameters.

God’s plans and mine have collided, and my heart hasn’t been a pretty place.

The things is: I know God is good. I know He’s in control.

And I have to trust Him with this situation. It involves people I really care about, and it’s hard not being able to do anything for them.

Sometimes, refining comes in the form of heart work. I talk about trusting God. And I do trust Him. I do.

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But sometimes God refines me by placing me in a situation where I have to choose trust. I have to choose to walk out this situation in His timing. His parameters. And this is hard for a girl who likes a little control.

God’s refining often smooths away the rough edges the world’s chipped off around my heart.  His refining touch brings smoothness to the rough places. It begins a work of beauty in a place of ugliness.

When God refines us, it’s always done with the utmost of His love. He never hurts, jars, or challenges us for the sake of just doing these. He is very intentional in the work He does.

His end goal is to help us to look a little more like Jesus.

If we didn’t face those hard places in life . . .

. . . if we weren’t put in positions where we had to stretch and choose . . .

. . . we would remain stilted. Half-finished. Incomplete.

hawaii-sunset

 

As painful as it can be to walk through the refining God has for us, we can look to the beauty of Him, and we can keep our hope in Him. Knowing that HIs plans for us may not always be easy, but they are always good.

What about you? When has God done some refining in you? How do you keep a good perspective when life throws you curveballs?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes, refining comes in the form of heart work.

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

Connect: How Connecting Happens

two-friends

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—CONNECT. 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!

CONNECT

When I saw our word for tonight, I smiled. I kept thinking about the ugly green phone I used to have to pick up and listen to—the dial tone and the number tones, or clicks buzzing in my ear as I dialed each number. Then listening to the phone as it rang on the other end.

When I would call a friend to get together, I was so glad the telephone could connect us so we could talk.

In a way, that kind of connecting hasn’t changed. I still pick up the phone to talk with some people. I have a friend who I’ve talked with almost every week for the last twenty or so years. So hard to imagine. She lives in another state. I anticipate our conversations.

In our phone calls, we’ve chatted about child rearing, recipes, heart issues, the joys, struggles, disappointments, stretching, and rewards this life has offered us.

We’ve connected on deep levels. There’s no pretense between us.

Connecting is like that. We have to choose to reach out. It takes time to grow a relationship—a connection—to the point of depth.

older-couple

When we share pieces of ourselves, when we offer wisdom or vulnerability to another, connecting happens. A weaving of two spirits grows.

God created us to be interdependent. He gives us opportunities to weave our lives and experiences together with others.

But we have to be intentional in the weaving. We must be willing to reach out—through a phone call, a text, an email, or snail mail (does anyone besides me still hand write letters?).

It’s in the intentional effort of sharing ourselves, giving of our time that connecting happens.

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That’s when there’s a foundation of trust that depth grows and fulfills.

I never mind picking up the phone to call someone I care about. More often than not, I come from the conversation away fulfilled. Sounds selfish, I know. But I hope the person on the other end of the line also has a sense of connection. That deep down satiation of spirit and soul. Because that’s what connection is about.

What about you? What’s your favorite way to connect with others? What’s one way you’re intentional about connecting with those around you?

Click to Tweet: God created us to be interdependent.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home site: Five Minute Friday—Connect

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.