Choices: What Will We Choose series, Relationship, Series

Choices (series): When Our Hearts Must Choose

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’ve spent the last few months reading through the book of Jeremiah. The thing that struck me was how many times God gave His people the choice of whether or not to forsake their idols and worship Him. As I read, I realized how many times we have choices to make. In our relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and especially with God. These next few weeks I will be sharing a 5-part series on choices (Read other posts here). I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what helps you make wise choices.

~~~~~

We always have a choice.

We are children of a God who always loves.

The thing is, God doesn’t manipulate us to love Him. We have to choose Him.

In Jeremiah’s day, the people knew God had brought them into the Promised Land. But in the hundreds of years since that epic event, their hearts had grown cold. They’d turned to other gods.

Other lifestyles.

They called God the Lord Almighty, yet they didn’t live as if He was truly Lord in their lives.

God sent His messengers to His people. He spoke of His love through the prophets. He also spoke of what would happen if the people continued to betray the covenant between Him and them.

They didn’t listen. Their hearts grew colder and more wicked.

And yet, God waited.

His first choice was not to pour out judgment and wrath on them. God’s first desire was to have intimate fellowship with His people.

When the judgment began, God’s discipline was gradual. He didn’t just declare He was done with them and abandon them. He did, however, allow His people to lose those things that were precious to them.

When Nebuchadnezzar took the first wave of people from Jerusalem, he also took all the tools of the temple. Those valuable, precious vessels that were supposed to be used by the people in their worship of God.

They weren’t worshiping. So, God allowed the vessels to go into the hands of a foreign king.

As soon as items used for worship were gone, the people wanted them. “Prophets”  declared God would bring them back.

Only, God had never said this.

How easy is it for us to take for granted the gift of relationship with God? We become busy with many other things. And often, these tasks are necessary.

But we relegate our relationship with God to that back corner of our hearts. Knowing He’s there, if we really need HIm.

And we forget Him.

We make our own choices, snap decisions, and move on in our days, our lives.

We forget God.

We forget how sweet our fellowship with Him was. How He filled us with His peace, with depth, with wisdom.

Relationships need nurturing. Whether it’s with a spouse, or our children, or friends. No nurturing—no time spent together—equals drying distance between hearts.

God won’t force Himself on us. He wants us to choose Him.

If we ignore God long enough, we lose our connection with Him. And when we need Him in a hard moment, He may not answer.

In Psalm 107, there’s a verse that talks about how people had gone their own way. They were living their lives, doing what needed to be done.

And then the storms came. It was only when they cried out to God—when they humbled their hearts before Him—that’s when He stilled that storm.

And, He guided them to their desired safe haven.

When we cry out to God in humility . . . .

When we acknowledge in our hearts how desperately we need Him . . . 

He meets us in our place of need. 

Let’s not become like the people of Jeremiah’s time who went into captivity before seeing how much God loved them. How much they needed Him.

Let’s be the people who nurture relationship with our Father on a daily basis—seeking Him, hearing His words, and obeying them.

What about you? When have you been in a place of need and seen God’s provision? How do you nurture your relationship with God and others?

Click to Tweet: No nurturing—no time spent together—equals drying distance between hearts.

Today I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth

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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

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”

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”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Relationship

Retreat: When Connection Happens

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous as July 21st arrived. I can admit that, as excited as I was, some of those ingrained insecurities tried to resurrect themselves in my thoughts. What would it be like spending the weekend with women I’d never met in person?

The locals said it was the hottest weekend yet this summer in Kansas City.

But oh, meeting so many amazing women was a cool drink of water to my thirsty spirit. From the moment I arrived until the final good-bye hug was given, my spirit was refreshed.

Continue reading “Retreat: When Connection Happens”

Humility, Relationship, Series, When There Are Words

Words: After We Make Poor Choices

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is part three of a five week series on the power of words. We have all been impacted by the words of another. Some words have imbued us with confidence, while others have deflated us. We are created to be communicators. So, when there are words, how do we use them well? 

Let’s explore this over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll join me and add your thoughts to the conversation! If you want to read previous posts, click: When There Are Words.

 

It all began with a phone call.

As soon as the school’s number showed on my Caller ID, I knew my day was about to change. I just had no idea how drastically.

When the words, “Kicked in the head a couple times.” “Dizzy” and “Blurry vision” came into the conversation, my mama’s heart began to worry for this son of mine.

After hearing the details and asking some questions, I decided that, yes, the boy needed to come home to rest and be watched.

 

When I neared the school, I made a couple of decisions that . . . weren’t the wisest. And I quickly gained the eye of a police officer. I had misread a situation.

And she misread me.

I wanted to be angry. Only I knew she had a difficult job.

I wanted to defend myself, only I knew that nothing could change the choices I’d made.

And though I knew my choices were for the sake of my boy, she saw a different picture. Because she had information I wasn’t privy to.

She made judgments, and I clamped my mouth shut. Because every now and then, silence truly is the best answer.

Sometimes a humble apology is the better way.

After she explained what I’d done wrong and what she thought she saw in my actions, I said I was sorry. And I was.

There are times when we get things wrong. We make decisions that seem right, but for some reason, they aren’t. We make choices because they are for another person’s good. But the way we go about fulfilling them violates something.

 

When we’ve messed up and the stakes are high, we need to be quiet. Sometimes, there are no words that can make things right. And there are especially no words that can make our choice—as noble as it may be—look shiny and good.

We need to acknowledge this.

Sometimes humility is a difficult choice because our emotions get wrapped up in the circumstances.

One thing I learned through this experience is that I mustn’t allow my emotions to dictate a situation.

I know this when I’m dealing with an officer of the law. And I (for the most part) have the self-control to keep my mouth shut.

But what about with those who are close to me? Those who don’t have the authority to issue a ticket for words spoken?

 

There will be times when I blow it with my husband, my kids, my friends. I’m going to make decisions that, in the moment, seem right, justifiable. But the big picture ramifications are broader than I can see.

When someone nicely—or not—points this out to me, what will my reaction be?

Am I going to defend myself? Try to make them understand why I chose the way I did?

Or, am I going to receive the rebuke, the correction?

Honestly? I’m not good at receiving correction in the moment. I need time to process it, ponder it, pray over it.

And sometimes, even then, I may not agree with it. The way I respond to a person can make or ruin a relationship.

 

With my family and friends, I want to choose love. It’s okay to disagree with another. How we do it will determine a number of things.

How safe we are to those people.

Our response tells the other person a lot. And they will make decisions about future interactions with us based on how we receive and respond to rebuke.

When we are teachable—humble—relationships are strengthened because the other person sees depth in us.

When we defend ourselves, we tell that person we’re placing ourselves—our importance—above them.

 

Choosing humility is hard. But, this is also a response that is pleasing in our Father’s sight.

Do we want to be right . . . or right with God?

What about you? When have you chosen humility in a situation? How do you handle valid rebukes?

Click to Tweet: When we’re humble, relationships are strengthened

Authenticity, Brokenness, Faith, Relationship

Broken: When We Let Jesus In

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

She entered the city leader’s home. Quiet, probably unobtrusive, carrying an alabaster vial of something.

As Jesus and His disciples sat at the table of the leader, she broke her vial over His feet. No doubt the aroma permeated the home, filling it with the heady scent of the costly perfume.

I wonder what everyone thought. No one said a word to her, at first. The men talked around her as if she couldn’t hear them. As if she was invisible.

Continue reading “Broken: When We Let Jesus In”

Marriage, Relationship, Valentine's Day

Love: 14 Ways to Keep Your Love Strong

couple-sunset-beach-walk

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

From the time I became aware of what Valentine’s Day represented, I struggled with it. Who could struggle with true love, right?

Except, I wasn’t one of the girls who received Candy-grams in junior high. I wasn’t one of the girls who ever—ever—had a date to the Valentine’s dance. In my mind, I wasn’t pretty enough, or popular enough, or anything enough.

Continue reading “Love: 14 Ways to Keep Your Love Strong”

Family Relationships, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Relationship

Eat: A Time to Connect

Prayerful hands

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—EAT. 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!

EAT

Last night, I listened to a psychologist speak on youth issues. Focusing on suicide. I know, sounds depressing, right?

One of the things he shared that surprised me most was how important it is for youths to stay connected to their families, and how one of the best ways to encourage this is by eating supper as a family.

It’s something hubs and I have been intentional about with our boys. The older they grow, the more challenging it is to eat supper all four of us. One boy has football a few nights a week. There are drum lessons, Boy Scouts, youth group.

So many activities—many of them good—that are a draw away from our family time.

Can I be honest? I love eating with my family. The fellowship, the laughter, the thoughts our boy-men are sharing make me smile.

Big.

family-table

 

We share things we’re thankful for about each day (yes, sometimes I have to pull a few molars to get the three gifts in their days), but it’s worth it. What often happens is, in the course of thinking about the gifts and the happenings of the day, memories surface.

Good times with friends. Struggles in the classes they’re taking. Who won the football game at recess.

Connecting.

Jesus focused on eating with His disciples as He trained them. They fellowshipped, learned lessons through His words. They grew in their relationships with Jesus and with each other.

Eating a meal is a natural place to slow down, to connect with those we care about most. 

Thanksgiving Breakfast table

 

Yes, it can be done quickly, in the middle of completing other tasks. But food digests best when it’s accompanied by sitting and enjoying others. And we find the greatest refreshing when we share a meal with others.

Funny how God created eating to be good for our bodies and for our spirits.

What about you? How do you connect with others in your life? What are favorite memories of eating with your families when you were growing up?

Click to Tweet: Eating a meal is a natural place to slow down, to connect

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday—Eat.

Faith, Prayer, Relationship

Community: Live in Community

Morning light on flowers

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I sat at my kitchen table, golden light filtering in. My back door slid open to let in the cool of the morning. As I closed my eyes I heard chickadees singing, dogs barking and a baby crying. Soft sunlight glittered on the puddles of last night’s rain storm. Piano music played from my computer.

As I listened to the noises all around, felt included in our community.  Continue reading “Community: Live in Community”