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

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Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Simplify

Simplify: Good For the Heart

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

SIMPLIFY

Simplify is one of my favorite words. There’s something about it that feels so freeing.

One thing I’ve discovered is that if I want an unfettered spirit, it often begins with an uncluttered space. A year and a half ago, I became very intentional about decluttering, first one room, and then the entire house. Man, it felt good to get rid of things that we no longer used or needed. Things that no longer brought joy.

But, here I am 18 months down the road, and the clutter is creeping in again. Life got busy.

I left things undone. Because other things needed attention. And sooner or later, the “undone” piles up in my spirit. When my spirit is burdened, I’m more subject to discouragement and a skewed perspective.

I’ve been staring down all the piles that crept into our kitchen, our family room. My “pretty” room.

There’s something about getting things back in order in my home that prepares my heart for deeper intimacy with Jesus. When I have a clear space, I can unburden my heart to the Lord more easily. My ears seem more open to the promptings of my Father.

When I declutter my heart, I find a certain freedom to worship the Lord without worry. I discover a stillness that I can’t know when I’m holding onto the clutter of unforgiveness, out-of-order priorities. Of discouragement.

So as I continue into this year—as the boxes that mark my days begin to fill—I aim to find those uncluttered spaces in my home and my heart and dwell there. I want to be near Jesus. To hear his truths spoken to my heart.

When I simplify that which I can in my life and I simplify what my heart carries around, I discover the beauty of simply being in God’s presence.

What about you? How do you manage the clutter and the crazy that daily living brings? How do you keep an uncluttered heart with Jesus?

Click to Tweet: Sooner or later, the “undone” piles up in my spirit.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Simplify

Being Still, Christmas, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Only: What Was It Like?

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

ONLY

What must it have been like for Joseph and Mary that first night of Jesus’ life? Before even the shepherds came? Before townspeople began to whisper? Before the wise men visited?

When they were the only two beholding the Savior of the world wrapped in dirty cloths, nestled in their arms?

Did awe overwhelm them as they gazed into His perfect, tiny face? As they watched his lips twitch and pucker for sustenance?

What must it have been like? 

To be the first to see hints of what this baby boy would look like?

The chilly night breezes . . . the earthy scent of animals nearby.

How was it to be the only ones with Jesus, before angels announced His birth?

In the quiet of the stable, Joseph and Mary must have adored their baby. Perhaps gazed in wonder that the essence of God who created everything could be captured into the body of one wee babe.

What must it have been like to sense God’s presence hovering over them in the stillness of the night?

When I think about the chaos that now accompanies “Christmas,” I wonder if we’ve lost that sense of awe, the beauty of stillness.

What if we were able to focus only on Jesus? If we let the cacophony of the malls slip away, even for a little while, and sat in His presence . . . could we know His presence?

I have not been great about being still and giving my heart only to Him. I have let the busy-ness of preparations creep in and distract my mind and spirit.

But maybe, in the days that remain, I can spend some time only with Jesus.  Sitting in awe of this God-man who shed heavenly robes to put on rags and walk among mankind.

Maybe I can worship Him as I listen to Christmas songs and sing them.

He is the only one worthy of our worship. When we set our hearts on worshiping Him—on acknowledging the gift He gave—maybe we can re-discover the joy-overflowing that comes when we’ve been with Him.

What about you? How do you worship Jesus in the middle of the busy Christmas season? What is one of your family’s favorite Christmas traditions?

This will be my final post until the new year. I want to take time to bed fully present with my family and simplify my schedule for the next few weeks. Know that I cherish each of you, my readers, and I will pray God meets you wherever you are and reminds you that He is truly “God with us.”

Click to Tweet: How was it to be the only ones with Jesus, before angels announced His birth?

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Only

Christmas, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Near: Drawing Near

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

NEAR

The boy cuddled so close to my side I think he would have curled inside my skin, if it was possible. His warmth heated my arm, my waist. My arm swung around his small frame, scooting him in close. And my heart melted all over the place.

There is something about the nearness of a child that undoes me every single time. Knowing one of my guys, or even another child, wants to be that close to me.

For one person to stay that near someone there must be a level of trust. My boys considered me (probably still do, judging from the testiness some days) their safe place. Mama was the place you went when feelings got hurt. When you got scared. When you just needed the reminder that, yes, you are loved, no matter what you do.

That nearness is a trust-place.

I wonder if that’s how God feels about us? He longs for us to draw near to Him. To cuddle right up next to Him, knowing He will keep the world at bay for a little while.

I believe He longs to comfort us when life goes sideways. He longs for us to trust Him like a child trusts his parents. He yearns for the intimacy that only comes when we draw near.

He’ll never force Himself upon us. But He’s there the very second we want to draw close to Him.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, I can’t hep but think of the way Mary’s heart must have dissolved into pure love as she held her swaddled son near her. As she cuddled him close to her, and planted soft kisses on His downy head.

Maybe we can draw close to Jesus even as we prepare to celebrate His birth, and hence the amazing work He did on the cross. Maybe we can remember how much He loves us and take moments to draw near to Him in the days leading up to Christmas.

What about you? What is your favorite memory of drawing near to someone you love(d)? How have you seen God draw near to you?

***I may not be able to comment and visit blogs tomorrow (Friday), but I am looking forward to visiting blogs over the weekend.***

Click to Tweet: He longs to comfort us when life goes sideways.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Near

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.

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