Faith, Fear, Trials

Storms: When We Are Afraid

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Have I mentioned I’m not a fan of tornadoes? They scare me. They always have. From the time I rode in a car as a girl following a huge storm to hearing alerts recently? Yep. They strike that cord of fear in my heart. 

Clouds had filled and then darkened the sky for the past few hours one recent day. I had taken one of the boys to a doctor’s appointment. While there, my phone signaled that we were under a severe thunderstorm warning.

I live in Colorado. 

This is not uncommon.

Continue reading “Storms: When We Are Afraid”

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Infertility, Trials, Trusting God

Distance: When We Feel Far From God

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I’ll never forget some life lessons. As we walked the path of infertility, I felt far from God. I couldn’t understand why He gave other people children, but not my husband and me.

In not understanding God’s intentions, I distanced myself from Him. It hurt too much to keep placing hope in a God who withheld a desire I believed He’d placed in my heart. I still had my quiet times, but that time was spent in rote activity rather than heart-renewal.

Continue reading “Distance: When We Feel Far From God”

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

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

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”

Perspective, Trials, Trusting God

Promise: When God Delays

Clouds and silhouette

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

How many times has God spoken to us, given us a reassurance—even a promise—and then seemed to renege on it? We hear His words to us, get excited, and immediately envision what that promise fulfilled will look like.

Then, when that first trial comes along, we question God. “Why didn’t You________?” or “Why did You allow __________?” We lose heart because things aren’t going the way we expected them to.

Continue reading “Promise: When God Delays”

God, Life, Trials

Life: God’s Presence in the Hard Times

Pinecones in leaves

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Can I confess that I don’t like hard? I don’t want to have to suffer in doing what I’m expected to complete in a day.

I don’t want to run into an obstacle that knocks me down in the pursuit of living well.

I don’t know where I got the idea that living this life would be—should be—easy.

I don’t know why I have this desire to sail through my days with no pain, no difficulties, no trials.

Maybe it’s the human condition?

Continue reading “Life: God’s Presence in the Hard Times”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Perspective, Trials

Find: Being Found

Psalm 139 moon shine

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

FIND

I was petty young the first time I hid on purpose. Not playing hide-and-seek, but really deliberately hid.

My sisters and I were at our cousins’ house. Someone had hurt my feelings, and so I decided to hide. They had a square brick column, maybe four feet high, that sat in the back alley. Back in the day, it’s where people dumped the ashes from their cooking fires. I shimmied in there and waited.

First, I hid because my feelings were hurt. Then, because I was mad, I decided to stay hidden. My aunt, cousins, called my name, waiting for me to respond. No one thought to look in the ash container. So I stayed.

Flower amid rock

After awhile, it grew lonely, and I got over my mad and came out. I didn’t want to be found, and I’d discovered the perfect hiding spot.

How many times have I wanted someone to find me? Those times when I felt invisible, unseen, insignificant? I wanted someone to find me, to affirm me. I admit, I still struggle with being an affirmation junkie.

Sometimes I’ve hidden to protect my feelings,my heart. But I longed to be found by someone.

God is so sweet. He tells us in Psalm 139 that He sees us in the light, He sees us in the darkness. The darkness is as light to Him. We may try to hide, but He always knows where to find us.

As I read this psalm again this morning, I realized He also finds us in the dark seasons of our lives, when circumstances threaten to overwhelm us. We may feel invisible to the world, to those around us. We may feel invisible to Him, whether we’re trying to hide or not. We may feel engulfed by life’s hard.

Butterfly on flowers

But He sees us. He finds us in our dark places. He finds us in the darkest of trials, and He sits with us, walks with us, leads us. He always knows where to find us.

Have you been found by Him lately?

What about you? When have you hidden successfully? When have you wanted to be found?

Visit Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday post—FIND

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Life, Trials

Keep: The Choosing

Is 263 copy

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

KEEP

As I saw our Five Minute Friday prompt, this verse kept coming to mind. There are days (like today) where I’ve longed to know and walk in God’s perfect peace.

On those days when there are more to-do’s than there is day, I feel stress. When I’m on my own with the kids for the week, when unexpected events steal my time—distract me from my plans—these are the days when God’s peace seems far away.

These are also the days when I tend to become more focused on the day than on the Giver of the day. How do I keep my eyes on Him in the midst of crazy? In the midst of sick kids and planning for trips we may not be able to take? In the midst of taking care of car repairs and not getting the things done that weigh on my heart and mind like a wet wool blanket?

frosty morning copy

When the diagnoses come that steal everything else, they don’t have to steal peace, permanently. If I’m trusting God for His best outcome.

I’m learning it’s discipline. It’s choosing.

It’s in the choosing that I can know God’s peace. Choosing to trust Him when life goes haywire. Choosing to believe His word when my days go in directions I never anticipated, and I can hardly breathe for the stress and the busyness of them.

mountain at dusk

When I keep my eyes on Him, when I choose to believe that what God says is absolute truth? That’s when I can know his perfect peace.

This is how I can walk in perfect peace. And I do it very imperfectly this side of heaven. I probably always will.

So, I’ll just continue to practice keeping my mind stayed upon Him.

What about you? What are the peace-stealers in your life? How do you keep your eyes on Jesus when life doesn’t cooperate? 

Visit Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday—Keep.

God, Perspective, Relationship, Trials

Pride: 4 Tips for Maintaining an Accurate Perspective

Peacock strutting

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Have you ever read something in the Bible many times, and this time when you read it, a certain truth smacks you in the face?

I was reading about King Hezekiah in Second Chronicles recently. I noticed a truth that I’d never considered before. When he was under attack from Sennacherib, the dominating king of Assyria, Hezekiah’s relationship with God was solid. He prepared his people, and his city. In humility, he leaned hard on God. He prayed and trusted that God would deliver them.

Continue reading “Pride: 4 Tips for Maintaining an Accurate Perspective”