Complain: When Provision Looks Different Than We Expected

River rocks K-trail

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

The other day, I was reading in Numbers 11 . You may know the story . . . the one about how the Israelites were tired of manna. They wanted meat, doggone it. And why couldn’t they just be in Egypt, where the food was free, and there was variety?

Never mind the fact that they were slaves, treated cruelly by the Egyptians. But they had good food!

Continue reading

Gratitude: What Gratitude Does

gratitude-turns-m-beattie-copy

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We were tromping through a dump in Manila when I first understood how much abundance I possess.

I was on my first far-away missions trip, and that day was eye-opening. In groups of two-three, we visited with the residents who lived there.

Yes, people lived in the dump. Where rancid water puddled on the unpaved roads. Where young children dug in the high mounds of trash, searching for copper to sell. Where the danger of the methane gas and the instability of those mounds could lead to death with one misstep.

Continue reading

Dream: Staying Strong

Sunkissed white flowers

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Chasing a dream rarely looks the way we expect it to. Real life, in the form of boys home for the summer and writing disappointments, has swooped in and sapped my enthusiasm.

I thought I would be much further along in my journey by now. Yet, here I am, in the same place I stood a year ago. Only, not entirely.

Continue reading

Calling: Dwell Where God Calls You

E. Cartier Dwell where God calls you

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our pastor spoke these words on a recent Sunday, and they’ve stayed with me.

“Dwell where God calls you.”

God’s placed at least one calling on each of our lives. He has purposes that only we can fulfill. My friend might be able to fulfill my calling to a degree, but not to the the extent that God created me to do so.

But what about when I don’t like the calling, or when the calling is too hard, or when the calling is not the one I wanted?

Continue reading

Discontentment: Watch Those Foxes

Red Foxes 1

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

One Friday afternoon, as the boys and I arrived home from school, I peeked into our backyard. My heart lurched when I spied two red foxes lounging in the grass as if they owned the place. They looked so cute as they soaked in the winter sunlight. When I opened the kitchen window to snap a picture, they stared back at me without a trace of  fear in their eyes.

They’d found their home.

Continue reading

Now: Thoughts on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ed near water

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Hubby and I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty a few weeks ago. We watched it again the following night. It spoke to us in its simple, yet poignant story line.

One thought that’s stayed with me is this: if I’m tuned out to the real—to the now—because I’m dreaming up a better present, I will miss the gift of today.

Continue reading

The Difference Between Contentment and Complacency: Guest Post by Lindsay Harrel

Today, I’m so excited to have my good friend, and fellow aspiring author, Lindsay Harrel, on my blog. We met online and through My Book Therapy, and we met face to face last year at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas. Lindsay never ceases to amaze me with her depth of insight and her encouraging words. I’m thrilled she’s here!

Image

A few weeks ago in my Sunday school class, we were discussing contentment and one of my friends asked a question that intrigued me: Can we be content and still strive for our dreams?

It made me stop and really think, because I’m currently pursuing the dream of becoming a published author. Is it wrong to go hard after a dream? If I do, am I not accepting the life God has given me? Does it mean I am not practicing contentment? That I’m not grateful for the good things in my life?

In my opinion, the answer is no. I believe there is a definite difference between contentment and complacency.

Reading one particular definition for complacency was an “aha!” moment for me. According to princeton.edu, complacency is “the feeling you have when you are satisfied with yourself.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to be satisfied with myself. I want to always be improving, bettering myself, challenging myself to be more like Jesus. A complacent person doesn’t bother striving for dreams because she is “happy” as she is – even in her ignorance. Even in her sin.

A content person, on the other hand, knows that God called her to something bigger than her current situation – even if that means having a better attitude IN that situation or living it out with God at the center.

A content person is allowed to dream. She knows that God planted big dreams inside of her for a reason, and that if she pursues them, she is being true to who God created her to be. She has a peace in the pursuit – and she has a peace if God tells her “no” or “not right now.”

Contentment means delighting ourselves in the Lord and getting the desires of our hearts – because when we grow nearer to Him, His desires become ours. What He wants is what we want.

It means constantly seeking God and what He wants for us and from us.

Complacency, on the other hand, means we wait for God to come to us – and that we ignore the signs that He’s been there waiting all along.

Complacency is also waiting for life to change, but having no real hope that it will. It’s living life with no greater purpose beyond what we can see today.

But contentment – oh, beloved contentment – is praying with confidence for our dreams, and knowing that God’s plan is ultimately better.

Contentment, whether you are pursuing a big dream or a small one, means being at peace with whatever God gives us. It’s trusting God to be God – and being okay that we are not Him. It’s relinquishing control. It’s knowing that He knows best.

Contentment is not an easy path. Complacency is much simpler.

Complacency means not striving for a dream out of fear.

But contentment takes courage.

Take heart, friend, and strive for your dreams, knowing that the Lord who gave them to you will not forsake you. Have peace in the pursuit.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Your Turn: What dream are you striving for – and how has God spoken peace in your pursuit?

ImageBiography:

Since the age of six, when she wrote the riveting tale “How to Eat Mud Pie,” Lindsay Harrel has passionately engaged the written word as a reader, writer, and editor. She is a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers contemporary category for 2013, and is published in the Falling in Love with You anthology released by OakTara in October 2012. Lindsay lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband of six years and two golden retriever puppies in serious need of training. Connect with her on her blog or via Facebook or Twitter (@LindsayHarrel).

Marking Birthdays

Image

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was a girl, my parents always threw us fun birthday parties. There weren’t fancy. We usually invited neighbor kids and relatives over to celebrate the birthday girl (I come from a family of three girls). Some years, we hung a piñata in the beams that supported the roof over our patio. All the kids took turns whacking the airborne candy dispenser until sweets spilled out onto the ground. We ran all crazy in our large back yard, wearing ourselves out. Then, we’d eat cake and ice-cream, open presents and run wild some more. I loved our parties and how my parents marked our birthdays as special.

Continue reading