Choosing Gratitude series, Gratitude, Guest Posts, Perspective

Choosing Gratitude (series): The Beauty in Aging

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

When I come to November in a year, something happens in my spirit. I’m ready to cozy down into warm sweaters and soft blankets. I love scented candles burning and soups simmering on the stovetop. It’s a time to slow  down and reflect over the year. When my spirit is in a good place, my heart finds much to be grateful for. One thing that fills me with gratitude is the gift of friends—real life and blogging friends.

For the next few weeks, I have invited five friends I respect deeply to share stories and thoughts on gratitude in their lives. I hope you will join with me for all five weeks and share your responses to their words. If you miss a week, you can click Choosing Gratitude series to catch up with the other posts in this series. Will you settle in with me, with a mug of something warm in your hands and think on those things and happenings in the year for which you are grateful?

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Marie Gregg and I met through the Five Minute Friday linkup some years ago, one of our blogs was usually posted right after the other’s. Over the years, I have discovered what a beautiful spirit this lady has. She is a deep thinker, passionate writer, and lover of God’s word, dogs, and young people (among other things). Her blogposts always leave me thinking. One day, I hope I’ll have the privilege of meeting her in person. Until then, I will enjoy her words on her blog. Please help me welcome Marie to this little corner of the blog-o-sphere!

*****

As I slide into my mid-thirties, I notice more and more advertisements promising to delay the aging process. Lotions and potions for younger-looking skin. Hair dye to cover up those unsightly silver strands. Torturous devices labeled “waist trainers” to smooth out lumps and bumps. Magical, easy solutions for every Madison Avenue conjured problem.

Of course these ads have always existed; they catch my eye now only because I have joined the target demographic. I find it so odd that we are shamed for aging, as if we’ve broken the rules. As if we have control over the onward, relentless passage of time.

Continue reading “Choosing Gratitude (series): The Beauty in Aging”

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Faith, Perspective

Perspective: When We Face the Unknown

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I read in the book of Numbers, chapters thirteen and fourteen, recently. You know, the story of how Moses sent in twelve men to spy out the land God promised them? He told them to bring back a report and fruit so they could see what they were going into.

I am always a little bit astounded at how these men gave their reports. Caleb shared of the good of the land. He accurately spoke about the size of the people and the cities, but he was ready to go in and kick butt.

Ten other men in the spy party agreed that yes, the fruit was good. But . . . 

Continue reading “Perspective: When We Face the Unknown”

Perspective, Plan

Perspective: When We Feel Stuck

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

We were about thirty minutes outside Washington D.C. when the pilot addressed the plane. Something about weather blocking our path to Reagan National Airport. Waiting for it to pass. Plenty of fuel.

And then we began the circling, skimming the edge of huge, cumuli-nimbus clouds, puffy and reflecting the softening light of the setting sun.

Continue reading “Perspective: When We Feel Stuck”

Discouragement, Perspective

Creating: When Discouragement Hits

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

It hit me out of nowhere. I shouldn’t have been feeling it at all. I’d just come home from a writing weekend away from home. Gifted to me by my husband. I’d had fun with my characters, taking time to let my mind wander and really understand their story.

I came home to laughter . . . 

And piles.

Continue reading “Creating: When Discouragement Hits”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Perspective, Trials

Beauty: Looking For Beauty

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

BEAUTY

The Weather Channel lied to us on Monday. What was predicted to be a cold, breezy day morphed into a snowy, gray day. I always look for the beauty in a day. I see it in fog. In clouds. In sunlight.

But a gray day is still  . . . a gray day. Not as much color. Dreary. One of those days when a girl wants to stay inside, eat popcorn and watch movies or read a book until the sun come back out.

Tuesday started out foggy, but by the time I dropped the boys off at school, the sky was a brilliant blue. Snow-tipped trees brushed it with pure contrast. My heart was happy!

It got me thinking about how we go through seasons in our lives that are dreary.

HARD.

Sometimes the hard passes and blue skies return.

Sometimes, we walk through the Hard for the rest of our days.

One thing I’ve found is, if I can look for the beauty in the midst of the Hard, my heart is often pointed back to God.

When circumstances overwhelm me with discouragement and even despair, it’s difficult to see beyond the colorless pain.

When God reveals Himself color begins to tint the gray. When I look beyond the pain of circumstances and choose to cling to faith in Him instead of reliance on myself? My eyes can see hints of His beauty in the middle of the hard season.

God is always faithful. We may not always see how God works, but we can always be assured that He is there in the hard seasons with us.

If we seek His face, He often reveals glimpses of Himself. When the days are gray, let’s look for His beauty, shall we?

What about you? When have you seen God’s beauty in the midst of your hardship? What aspect of God’s creation is the most beautiful to you?

Click to Tweet: If I can look for the beauty in the midst of the Hard, my heart is often pointed back to God

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Beauty

Perspective, Revelation Series, Suffering

Revelation (series): Suffering—What’s Your Perspective?

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I didn’t set out to write a series based on Revelation 2-3. As I began reading the book of Revelation during my quiet times, I wanted to find truths written to the churches that apply for my life. What came from that desire to find one thing in each letter . . . is this series.

The churches to whom John wrote dealt with many of the same issues we face in an increasingly godless culture. Just as the early churches made choices about whether they would live for Jesus or themselves, so too, do we. 

We have the gift of being able to look at back at their strengths and weaknesses and learn from them.

This isn’t an in-depth theological rendering of these letters. Rather, each post reflects what God has taught me through studying both the letters and the churches. As we walk through Revelation two and three over the next seven weeks, I hope you’ll be encouraged and share your thoughts here! Past posts can be found here: Revelation Series 

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Can I just be honest for a minute?

I prayed for years that God would spare me from the hardships of life. I look back now and see what an unrealistic prayer that was. From my current vantage point I understand that this prayer opposes God’s best for me . . . for each of us.

As I read the words of Jesus to the church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11), my heart went out to the people of that day. They were told that they would endure affliction.

Continue reading “Revelation (series): Suffering—What’s Your Perspective?”

God's Love, Identity, Perspective

Beauty: When the World Has Its Say

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Watching children grow up is both sweet and bittersweet. On the first day of junior high, as Edmund and I stood in line to check in, I watched former sixth grade girls—fellow classmates of my son—step into the line.

Many of them wore makeup, covering their natural beauty, their natural features. Brushing color onto their cheeks and nuancing their eyes to look more grown up, to appear more beautiful.

Continue reading “Beauty: When the World Has Its Say”

Perspective, Trials, Trusting God

Trust: Looking to God

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I was reading Psalm 37 the other day. I have always loved the first verses of this chapter. This time when I read it, verse three jumped out at me. In the ESV, it says,

“Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.”

We all hear about trusting in the Lord. We all know we should do it. And, many of us say we do this.

And, we probably do most of the time.

Continue reading “Trust: Looking to God”

God's Love, Identity, Perspective

Beauty: How Do You Define Beauty?

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I have five decades of life under my proverbial belt. And still, there are days when I let the mirror try to tell me truth as it sees it.

The bad hair days . . .

The days when my face bears pimples (yes, at fifty, I still get these) . . .

The ever-enlarging pores on my face . . .

The rounding middle, flabby thighs . . .

The thinning hair that sports more gray as the boys grow older and try new things . . .

Continue reading “Beauty: How Do You Define Beauty?”

Humility, Mothering, Perspective, Relationship

Humility: When We Want to Be Right

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

It all began with brown sugar.

The kid wanted one-quarter of a cup of brown sugar in his oatmeal.

Sixteen servings, according to the package.

Almost fifty grams of sugar.

In his cereal.

I insisted that he reduce that amount and, if he still wanted sweetener, to use some fruit.

Yeah, that went over well.

I wasn’t rude in my actions. But, as he escalated, so did I.

Continue reading “Humility: When We Want to Be Right”