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

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Choices: What Will We Choose series, Fear, Mothering, Trusting God

Choices (series): When We Want Freedom

+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.

~~~~~

Sometimes we have to choose to risk and change if we want something different for our lives.

As I watch my boy-men move toward manhood, I’m a witness to their struggle. They yearn to stay in the safety being a child offers. There’s certainly less responsibility for children than for teens and adults.

But, there are also fewer freedoms. And anyone who’s raised teens knows those years are all about claiming freedom.

Continue reading “Choices (series): When We Want Freedom”

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

Choices: What Will We Choose series, Trusting God

Choices (series): When Culture and God Collide

+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.

~~~~~

I don’t envy the prophet Jeremiah. At all.

He prophesied in a time when people didn’t want to hear his words. He was obedient to speak all that God gave him. And his was an unpopular message.

In Jeremiah 27, God gave Jeremiah a message for the new King Zedekiah. Words that grated against everything their culture believed. The culture told Zedekiah (and Judah’s inhabitants) that this land was theirs. They were to remain at any cost.

But Nebuchadnezzar.

Continue reading “Choices (series): When Culture and God Collide”

Choices, Choices: What Will We Choose series, Humility, Series

Choices (series): When There Are No Easy Choices

+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. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what helps you make wise choices.

~~~~~

I never intended to do it.

I never set out to talk smack about another person. And yet, there I sat, having dinner with a friend. She had begun working for a person I used to work for.

All I wanted to do was help my friend have a mindset that would help her work well with her boss.

And somewhere in the conversations (and I hang my head here), the talk sidled into gossip. As the Holy Spirit began to convict me, I tried to justify my words.

To explain to Him I was only sharing in order to help my friend.

Continue reading “Choices (series): When There Are No Easy Choices”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Hope

Story: Each Story is Unique

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

STORY

We’re each living a unique story. We have our individual experiences Joys. Sorrow. Obstacles. Overcoming.

No two people live an identical life. No two people have the exact same purpose while walking this earth.

Or, maybe we have the same purposes, but God has created us in such a way that only we can influence the people in our sphere.

God has created each of us to minister to those He’s placed in our lives. I can’t replace you in your world and minister as effectively. Nor can you replace me.

God brings beauty into each story.

Walking through infertility shaped me in a way that I can speak into the pain of waiting and of idolatry from the things He taught me.

You have walked through certain kinds of hard that equipped you to be a unique voice in the lives of others.

Though there may be shame in parts of our story, we should not be ashamed of those times. God redeems our shame. He uses those aspects of our story to speak life and truth into people.

Our stories are crafted by our Father. Shaped by His hand. Yes, most of us have gone our own way at times, But God still redeems.

God hasn’t called us to live our stories in shame. He’s called us to live for Him, allowing Him to continue to rewrite our pasts, to counter our lies with His truth.

He still writes His truth on our hearts and over our lives. God writes His love into the fabric of our lives.

He’s giving us opportunities to share our stories with others so that they too can learn what His love is first hand.

When we share the “pretty” and the “ugly” of our stories with others, they find hope. Because they see that God is the One who heals the broken-hearted,

who sings over them with love,

who rewrites the ugliness of their pasts and transforms their presents into beauty.

What about you? What words has God written over your life? How have you seen His hand redeeming your story? 

Click to Tweet: God writes His truth on our hearts and over our lives

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Story

Choices, God

Orphaned: When Love Has to Choose

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Tears welled in my eyes and my nose filled as I read the story.

Of a father in China whose 6-day old baby was in dire need of heart surgery. But he had no money to pay for the procedure that would save his baby boy’s life.

What’s a parent to do in the midst of such terrible choices? Bring the child home to die, or abandon them in the hopes that someone would take and care for them? Continue reading “Orphaned: When Love Has to Choose”

Dependence, Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Depend: When We Think It’s All Up to Us

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

***I went a little over five minutes. Here’s my offering for the week.***

DEPEND

I sometimes live in an orphan mindset (check out what Allen Arnold says about this). I get into this thought process that it’s all up to me. To mother well. To make time to write. To force story from me. To complete everything on my to-do list.

I depend on myself.

If I could take a poll, I suspect many of us would raise our hands admitting that we struggle with this kind of mindset from time to time.

We depend on ourselves as if we alone are responsible for the outcome. Whether its in fulfilling a dream, or a calling. Or being the spouse/parent we are called to be. Or (as a friend reminded me) in waiting.

I hate that I forget to depend on God. He is the One who gives dreams. Who places callings on us, in our hearts.

He is the only One who can fulfill them through us. And that, only as we come to Him with our crazy-desperate need.

When we are waiting for things to happen,

for the next step of a dream . . .

the next direction in a calling . . .

the next step toward a change in life . . .

we need to turn to the One—the only One—who is truly, completely, lovingly dependable.

I’m learning to turn my heart over to Him more quickly when I begin to stress about something. When the kid has a stinky ‘tude.

When the hubs and I have an argument.

When the story just. Won’t. Come. Forth.

It’s not all up to me.

Sometimes God allows us into the hard places—those circumstances that are way bigger than we are—so we learn to depend on Him for the outcome.

He is the only One who can create something from nothing. Who can bring hope in times of discouragement. He wants to walk these times out with us.

Our Father is the One who can fulfill us and fill those gaping places within us.

We can’t give ourselves more than what we already are. Does that make sense?

We can’t fill the empty spaces within ourselves.

Or make things happen that are naturally beyond us.

Only God can.

When we trust Him . . .

When we choose to believe that He is with us in the hard, in the discouraging . . .

When we choose to hold to the truths in His word regardless of what life tells us?

When we choose to do life with Him, no matter what circumstances tell us?

That’s when we will see Him move. Maybe not in the ways we expected, but always in the ways that are best.

What about you? How do you foster a mindset of depending on God during uncertain times? When have you seen Him “show up” when you chose to depend on Him?

Click to Tweet: We depend on ourselves as if we’re responsible for the outcome

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Depend

Check out this song, “Take Courage, My Friend.” It’s been on my heart all day!

ACFW, Expectations, Trusting God

Expectations: Reflections From ACFW 2017

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Have you ever entered an experience with a certain sort of expectation? I’ve done this. Many times. Sometimes those expectations are satisfied. More often, though, mine have been disappointed.

I just arrived home from my sixth ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference. It’s hard to believe I’ve gone to so many. Most of those years, I’ve tucked hopes and dreams along with clothes into my luggage.

Each year, those hopes and dreams have shifted.

Continue reading “Expectations: Reflections From ACFW 2017”

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”