Love: 14 Ways to Keep Your Love Strong

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+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.

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Marriage: The Importance of Staying Connected

older-couple

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My husband’s job has required a number of longer business trips over the past few years. Navigating our separations has been its own journey for our family. He must witness some of the struggles from afar. I walk out the emotional turmoil and busy schedules on the home front.

Maintaining our home, driving the boys to and from school, appointments, football practice, band rehearsals, Boy Scouts . . . All of these fill our days and weeks.

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Breathe: When We Can’t Breathe Deeply

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+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—BREATHE. 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!

BREATHE

When I saw tonight’s word, it just opened up a space in my heart. After a busy, busy month, I am having to remember how to breathe. So, here’s tonight’s offering:

I’ve been breathing in short shallow breaths as if my soul has forgotten how to inhale deeply.

After two very busy, totally nonstop months, my lungs are trying to remember what it’s like to just breathe deep.

It’s easy to settle for the shallow when that’s all I can focus on. Hubs’ travels, a little bit of sickness. A few minor health procedures coming up.

Some days I can’t even poke my head above the ocean of the to-do list and look around at the beauty in my world. Too many appointments to get to.

Boys assignments to check up on.

House things to take care of.

God wants us to breathe deep.

I’m trying to be intentional about breathing. This is the only way the deep breaths will come.

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I can rush through my day, focused on the urgent . . .

or I can slow down even if just for a few minutes and focus on the necessary.

The urgent…it will always be there.

The housework.

The homework.

The phone calls.

Emails.

The necessary? This is the better thing. 

My spirit craves those still moments with Jesus.

Sometimes I can’t stop the busyness that finds its way into my days.

But I can control how I respond to it. 

Do all things have to be done today?

Maybe not.

At the beginning of each day, I need to be breathing in God’s living Word. I need to be breathing out praise to Him.

I may not get an hour with Him. I may not even get thirty minutes with Him.

But, I need to BE with Him. Daily. No interruptions.

It’s only as I spend time with Jesus that I am able to do more than suck in the shallow.

It’s only when my heart is still before Him that I can soak in the necessary.

That I can embrace and cling to His presence with me in my days.

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It’s when I take time to breathe in His truth, His encouragement, His love that I am able to choose deep breaths during the rest of my day.

What about you? How do you slow down to breathe during the busy days? What reminds you to slow down long enough to breathe deeply?

Click to Tweet: I need to be breathing in God’s living Word.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Breathe

Intentional: Accepting What God Offers

autumn-pathway

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’ll never forget the day.

I was sitting with a friend at a Quizno’s. She always had a way of speaking truth, even hard truth, with gentleness. And she had the gift of prophecy.

“You have a gaping wound in your heart, Jeanne.”

Nine eye-opening words.

With those words, God opened my spiritual eyes to see the wound and its cause.

Rejection.

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Control: Who’s In Control?

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+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—CONTROL. 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!

CONTROL

Have I ever mentioned that I might have an issue with control? And the funny thing is, a lot of times, I think God is letting me have control in my daily decisions about how I live life. Yes, you can laugh.

When I was newly married and we’d been “trying” to have a baby, we conceived . . . and lost the child within eleven weeks. I was devastated but convinced if we tried a little longer it would happen.

That was the beginning of my journey into learning how little control I really have.

I prayed, begged, got on my face and cried to God asking for a baby. He wasn’t being capricious or mean by saying, “Not yet.”

He was drawing me closer to Himself.

In that time period, God taught me so much about His sovereignty.

And in His sovereignty, I came to see God’s love for me.

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He had plans for conforming me into the image of Jesus that could only be completed as I learned to walk more closely with Him.

As I learned how to trust Him.

And He’s continued with the trust lessons. On this writing journey, I’ve had to drop a lot of my self-sufficiency and my timelines and plans and learn to embrace His.

No, I haven’t always done it gracefully.

As I have learned to relinquish control over things I thought I controlled, I’m learning to walk in a greater peace.

Learning to trust Him with all things—big and small—is one of my life-long lessons. 

I am still not perfect in the trust department, but I am slowly learning to turn things over to him more quickly.

As I have struggled with watching friends progress in their writing journeys, and I’ve seemingly stayed in the same place, God’s teaching me how to give each aspect of “my” writing over to Him.

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He’s also freeing me from lies I’ve believed all my life. God is helping me to be more real—more authentic—in my writing and in my daily living.

I never would have learned these lessons had He not begun to teach me about Who’s really in control of “my” life.

What about you? What lessons has God taught you about control? How have you come to see His love for you in your life?

Click to Tweet: Can we have control and still trust God?

I forgot to mention…I had the privilege of visiting with my online friend, Holly Barrett and recording a podcast with her. If you want to hear our conversation, check it out at Living a Redeemed Life.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Control

Stuff: Renewing Our Hearts and Minds

Rocky doorway

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is the final installment of a three-part series about creating white space in our homes and our lives. You can find the other posts here.

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Purging a closet, much less a room, can feel overwhelming. When we do the work, a room is opened up . . . and so is something inside of us.

But what things do we need to purge from our internal closets? Last week, I shared a few thoughts on our schedules and fear. What else sits on the shelves of our closets? Here are a couple I’ve worked on purging from my heart.

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Refine: Giving Up Control

docked-sailboats

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—REFINE. 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!

REFINE

True confession: I like control. Not controlling others, but being able to have some control of my life.

And God probably looks down at me some days, and says, “Silly, silly girl.”

Most of the time, I know how my days are going to flow. I’ve got a good feel of what’s coming.

And I like it that way.

The thing is? This way of living requires very little trust on my end.

Recently, God has placed our family in a situation where I have. No. Control.

Something is happening, and it’s way out of my time parameters.

God’s plans and mine have collided, and my heart hasn’t been a pretty place.

The things is: I know God is good. I know He’s in control.

And I have to trust Him with this situation. It involves people I really care about, and it’s hard not being able to do anything for them.

Sometimes, refining comes in the form of heart work. I talk about trusting God. And I do trust Him. I do.

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But sometimes God refines me by placing me in a situation where I have to choose trust. I have to choose to walk out this situation in His timing. His parameters. And this is hard for a girl who likes a little control.

God’s refining often smooths away the rough edges the world’s chipped off around my heart.  His refining touch brings smoothness to the rough places. It begins a work of beauty in a place of ugliness.

When God refines us, it’s always done with the utmost of His love. He never hurts, jars, or challenges us for the sake of just doing these. He is very intentional in the work He does.

His end goal is to help us to look a little more like Jesus.

If we didn’t face those hard places in life . . .

. . . if we weren’t put in positions where we had to stretch and choose . . .

. . . we would remain stilted. Half-finished. Incomplete.

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As painful as it can be to walk through the refining God has for us, we can look to the beauty of Him, and we can keep our hope in Him. Knowing that HIs plans for us may not always be easy, but they are always good.

What about you? When has God done some refining in you? How do you keep a good perspective when life throws you curveballs?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes, refining comes in the form of heart work.

I’m linking up with Kate’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Refine

Stuff: What We Hold In Our Hearts

early-morning-reflection

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is part two of a three-part series about creating white space in our homes and our lives. You can find the first post here.

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Last week, I shared a bit about how I repurposed my “junk/project” room into a creativity space.

Purging stuff from our homes can become addictive. At least for me. As I worked through the things in my “creativity nook,” joy infiltrated my spirit. There is something about opening up space that opens up breathing room in my spirit.  Continue reading

Stuff: When We Need White Space

snowy layered morning

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I can’t believe we’re two weeks into 2017! In the interest of starting things new, I’m sharing a three-part series about something that impacted me in a powerful way last year.

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I never knew a simple decision would lead to so much heart change.

A challenge to create more white space in my life, my home . . .

An author friend issued a challenge to a create white space in my home. Though I longed to do this, the only room that came to mind was my project/clutter/things-to-sell/stuff-I don’t-know-what-to-do-with room.

And I had no idea of how to begin.

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Connect: How Connecting Happens

two-friends

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—CONNECT. 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!

CONNECT

When I saw our word for tonight, I smiled. I kept thinking about the ugly green phone I used to have to pick up and listen to—the dial tone and the number tones, or clicks buzzing in my ear as I dialed each number. Then listening to the phone as it rang on the other end.

When I would call a friend to get together, I was so glad the telephone could connect us so we could talk.

In a way, that kind of connecting hasn’t changed. I still pick up the phone to talk with some people. I have a friend who I’ve talked with almost every week for the last twenty or so years. So hard to imagine. She lives in another state. I anticipate our conversations.

In our phone calls, we’ve chatted about child rearing, recipes, heart issues, the joys, struggles, disappointments, stretching, and rewards this life has offered us.

We’ve connected on deep levels. There’s no pretense between us.

Connecting is like that. We have to choose to reach out. It takes time to grow a relationship—a connection—to the point of depth.

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When we share pieces of ourselves, when we offer wisdom or vulnerability to another, connecting happens. A weaving of two spirits grows.

God created us to be interdependent. He gives us opportunities to weave our lives and experiences together with others.

But we have to be intentional in the weaving. We must be willing to reach out—through a phone call, a text, an email, or snail mail (does anyone besides me still hand write letters?).

It’s in the intentional effort of sharing ourselves, giving of our time that connecting happens.

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That’s when there’s a foundation of trust that depth grows and fulfills.

I never mind picking up the phone to call someone I care about. More often than not, I come from the conversation away fulfilled. Sounds selfish, I know. But I hope the person on the other end of the line also has a sense of connection. That deep down satiation of spirit and soul. Because that’s what connection is about.

What about you? What’s your favorite way to connect with others? What’s one way you’re intentional about connecting with those around you?

Click to Tweet: God created us to be interdependent.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home site: Five Minute Friday—Connect