Hope, Love, Relationship

Choice: When Love Is Hard

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

The boy’s attitude ballooned up bigger than our doorway as we rushed out for school this morning.

Teenage troubles, loss of a cell phone, Homecoming drama and hard decisions? They all coalesced to create a simmering heat beneath his normally unfettered surface.

I couldn’t wait for the boy to exit the car in the carpool line. Loving him was not the first thing on my mind.

I had my own bubbling mess of irritation threatening to destroy the quiet I envisioned for this day.

Continue reading “Choice: When Love Is Hard”

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Faith, Hope, Infertility, Trusting God

Hope: When Hard Feels Easier Than Hope

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Sometimes it’s easier to see the hard than the hope.

Have you ever been in a season where all you could see was the hard? When those seasons become prolonged, our energy is drained, our spirits deflate, and our bodies become weary. And our thoughts?

Our thoughts have the power to help us frame our experiences. We’ll see them through the lens of hard, or we’ll see them through eyes of hope.

Continue reading “Hope: When Hard Feels Easier Than Hope”

Faith, God's Love, Hope

Love: The Power of Three Words

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

“You are loved”

The man stood at the roundabout as we headed into the school, holding a sign with these three words.

One boy’s first comment was, “Oh no. What happened now? They always have those signs out after something bad’s happened.”

Continue reading “Love: The Power of Three Words”

Easter, God's Love, Hope

Hope: What’s Your Version of Hope?

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

“A violent hope broke through and shook the ground . . .” (from “For the Cross,” by Bethel Music)

We sang a new-to-me song during our church service this past Sunday.

There was this one line that challenged me to re-think my version of hope.

I never thought about hope being violent.

This word has always struck me as a gentle thing, like a quiet rain falling or a pastel sunrise.

Continue reading “Hope: What’s Your Version of Hope?”

Hope, Trusting God

Hope: When We Can Say It Is Well

sunrise-through-trees

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

A little over a year ago, when I first heard Bethel Music’s, “It Is Well,” things in my life were going well. It seemed I was close to fulfilling a long-held dream. My health was good. I was surrounded by people who “got” me. They understood what made me tick. The song resonated. Of course it was well with my soul. I could hum it and sing it and believe it with all my heart.

It’s easy to say, “It is well with my soul” when we’re in the good times.

Continue reading “Hope: When We Can Say It Is Well”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Hope, Perspective

Hope: In the Hard Times

romans-5-5-copy

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—FIVE. 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!

When Kate gave us our prompt for tonight, I about choked. Number posts are hard. Then, God  brought to mind a verse that has flittered on the edges of my thoughts for a couple weeks now. This verse is Romans 5:5.

And, here we go:

FIVE

There’s been a whole lot of hard going on in life. I feel stretched by the days, by the boys’ schedules, by stresses going on in hubby’s work. I feel worn down at times by the struggles friends are facing.

By the challenges that come at us through others’ choices.

I mentioned in my Tuesday post that a boy in our community chose suicide over life, and my heart grieves for his family. I can’t help but think of his mama, of the final words spoken, the fears she may have had as she watched her son.

Life is hard.

It’s so easy to place our hope in things, in circumstances, in people. And these may help us . . . for awhile.

But sooner or later, we’ll be disappointed, because all of these are less than perfection. They’re less than God.

wild-flower-and-shadow

When we place our hope in God, then we will not be disappointed. This doesn’t mean our circumstances will change. Chances are good they may not.

But when we place our hope in God, our perspective changes. When we trust Him to walk with us through the hard—when we invite him into the struggle—we can walk with a rest in our spirits. Sometimes with peace.

God’s love has been poured out in our hearts. It is overflowing into our beings. He loves every part of who we are with every part of who He is. Knowing we are loved can shift our perspectives in amazing ways.

Knowing we don’t have to perform in a certain way in a trial? That gives peace and freedom to walk through it. To grapple with the hard, and to come out victorious.

sunlight-and-flowers

When we embrace the truth that God loves us, that His love is all we need? That’s when the overwhelming parts of life can be conquered. Circumstances may appear to win in the short term. But in the picture of eternity? We’ve already overcome.

What about you? When you’ve been overwhelmed, what has helped you overcome? How do you find hope in the hard times?

Click to Tweet: When we place our hope in God, our perspective changes.

I’m linking up with Kate at Five Minute Friday—Five

By the way, Susan Shipe has coordinated a great book with a number of Five Minute Friday posts in it. It releases Monday! If you choose to purchase one, all the funds go to support two ministries in South Africa: The Vine School in Cape Town, and The Ten Dollar Tribe. Please consider helping these ministries and being blessed by the words of many wonderful writers!

its-a-five-minute-fridaybook-2

God's Love, Hope, Perspective

Hope: When Our Days Are Dark

darkness-and-moon

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Many people around me are walking through dark days right now. One friend’s marriage is dying at the grip of infidelity. Betrayal has broken her spirit and her heart. She’s left reeling, trying to figure out what her next step needs to be.

A friend’s son has turned away from all the values he was raised with. He’s walking in his own will, oblivious to the coming consequences for his choices. His mama’s heart is broken.

Continue reading “Hope: When Our Days Are Dark”

Hope, Mothering, Trusting God

Fear: When Our Children Make Choices

Teens connecting over chess

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I recently learned about another young person who took his own life.

Somehow this news never ceases to shock this mama’s heart. If I’m completely honest, I sometimes worry about my own boys. Will they one day feel so hopeless that ending their lives feels like the very best option?

My heart weeps with mamas whose children have taken control of their pain to a devastating end. I get pain. I’ve had times when I—briefly—considered suicide as the best option for ending the pain.  Continue reading “Fear: When Our Children Make Choices”

Christmas, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Hope, Joy

Tender: Jesus’ Reflection Through Us

Christmas on the outside

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—OUR CHOICE. Yeah, this one scared me a little bit. But the word came quickly, so here goes!

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!

TENDER

This week we lost a student in our high school. It’s left our school’s community in shock. Though my boys aren’t in high school yet, they’ve been impacted.

When I heard the news, my heart cried for that mama. She’s probably already bought Christmas gifts for her chid. Had plans and ways to make memories with her family. This family who will walk through their first Christmas without this precious son.

What happened to “peace on earth, good will to men?” What’s happening in our world that strips away the tenderness in our hearts, our spirits?

We’re divided with so much to do in a season that should also encompass joy. And yet, so many are struggling with hard, hard situations.

My prayer this Christmas season is that I would have a heart that is tender toward those hurting in my circle.

That I would see beyond the smiling exterior and know how to speak a word of hope or encouragement.

That I would take the time to see beyond the surface and speak something that would make them feel just a little bit better.

snow-blown landscape

This season is not always happy and cheerful for people. Especially those who’ve lost loved ones this year.

And yet, Jesus.

Jesus knows the hurts so many people face. He knows that celebrating this Christmas is beyond them. Maybe all they have energy for is to get out of bed. To try to—I don’t know—eat a meal.

May we who are not in those hard situations right now look beyond the busy-ness in our own lives, and at the very least, take a moment to pray for those hurting during this season. May we take that extra moment to express, “I care” through words to those in pain.

Jesus didn’t tell us to be happy all the time. And though He gives us joy, there are times when the feeling eludes us.

He does exhort us to be a reflection of Himself. When Jesus saw someone hurting, He came alongside them, spoke truth and hope to them. Not condemnation. Not fake euphemisms.

Jesus ornament

With this unexpected death rocking our little school community this week, it’s got me thinking about how I can celebrate Christmas with authenticity, with a tender heart and with eyes that see beyond the initial and into the “real.”

May we see people around us through Jesus’ eyes and reach out to them with His tender love.

What about you? How do you grapple with the tragedies and still hold onto hope? What’s one thing you do to celebrate Christmas authentically?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday. Click to see many other great posts!

*****

I am taking a little blogging vacation to spend time with my family. As you celebrate Christmas, may you know Jesus’ presence in special ways.

I’ll see you on January 5, 2016!

Adoption, Hope, Infertility, Shelli Littleton

Life Lessons: An Embarrassing Display—Guest Post by Shelli Littleton

8. Bear (1)

 

I’m so excited to have Shelli Littleton guest posting today, as the second of a five part series on Life Lessons. I first “met” Shelli on a blog we both follow. Her thoughtful, encouraging comments—both in response to that blog, as well as to other commenters—revealed what a uplifting person she is. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her over the last couple years. Her love for Jesus and living her life for Him comes through her words.  

Please welcome Shelli!

~~~~~

By Shelli Littleton

“Shelli, you have about a 50% chance of conception,” my doctor said, leaning over my hospital bed. I can’t begin to relay the pain I felt or the tears I cried. For you see, having a family had been my childhood dream.

Embarrassment … shame, and everything in between, covered me. All my friends were having babies … baby showers. I felt less than ….

Continue reading “Life Lessons: An Embarrassing Display—Guest Post by Shelli Littleton”