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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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!

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 ….

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Life’s Hard: 4 Tips For Surviving Hard Times

Red dirt path

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We just returned from a couple weeks in Hawaii visiting Hubby’s family. While there, some of us spent time on Kauai. One day we hiked the Kalalau Trail, an eleven mile trek that leads hikers to some breath-taking views along the Napali coast. Two miles into the trail, there’s a stopping point at a secluded beach. Our goal on this particular day was to find the beach.

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Blue: Hope in Life’s Storms

Rainy Month

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—BLUE. 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!

BLUE

Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled for most of this month, it seems. Buckets of rain sheeted the space between sky and land. Gray skies became our norm for the first three weeks of May.

The once dry earth became saturated to flood stage. Hail flung itself . . . enough of it that it looked like snow some days.

Shoveling Hail

I’ve never seen a May like this one.

Every morning, I woke up, hoping for a glimmer of blue sky. Every morning, clouds blocked out that little glimpse of happy.

A few days ago, we again had more blue sky than gray, and my heart danced.

To see the sunshine, to see clear blue of every shade on God’s palette? It restores hope that after storms, blue does come.

Storms sometimes permeate every area of our lives. Blocking out hope. Trying to squelch our joy. When it’s nonstop, those things in our hearts that make us smile begin to dim.

The good thing is, storms don’t stay. They have a beginning time, where they block out the sun and the blue skies of our lives. But, they move on. Perhaps not right away, but they do move on.

Gray Day

Or, sometimes, we move on.

Thank goodness Jesus is our Son Who melts the clouds. Who heals the hurts inflicted by life’s storms. Who dries saturated soil so springtime flowers can again be planted and add color and hope to our lives.

Blue skies . . . after three weeks of gray, I’ll never take them for granted again. I’ll thank God for them, adding them to my Gift List. I’ll rejoice in the hope blue skies offer me daily.

Blue skies again

I’ll seek out those patches of blue when clouds part, even for a few seconds. And I’ll cling to the truth that God is the One who knows the storms, knows how much we can can handle with His help, and knows how to bring us through the storms of life.

What about you? When have you faced a storm that seems like it would never end? How did you hold onto hope during the storm?

Visit Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday offering—Blue

Beauty: Finding Hope in Beauty

Lavendar at sunset

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Sometimes seeing beauty is a choice.

When life gets hard, when diagnoses come that are terminal, we have a choice. Will we purpose to look for the beauty around us? Will we help others look for beauty in their situations?

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Seasons: The Changing of Seasons

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I’ve been waiting for spring.

Winter has worn hard on most of the United States this year, with barely a respite from snow and biting cold. Even in the monotony of the landscape, there is beauty in winter time (Yes, I know some will refute this!).

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