Embrace: The Power of an Embrace

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—EMBRACE. 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!

EMBRACE

There’s something indescribable that happens in my heart when one of my boys slings an arm around my waist or my neck. From the time they were infants, there was something so . . . accepting in the simplicity of them wrapping their arms around my neck and squeezing.

Something so beyond satisfying as I held them close to my body.

Nowadays, those embraces come less often, but the sense of love—of safety—that comes for each of us is almost palpable.

There’s something that conveys safety in the wrapping of an embrace.

It’s true with physical embraces. What about those intangible embraces?

 

When we walk through a difficult season and God shows up? When He reveals himself in a way only God could? That’s like an embrace. It’s a tangible reminder that He loves us.

When He brings me face-to-face with something in my heart that needs change? That’s a hard embrace. But the hopeful thing is, He doesn’t just show me, He helps implement the change in the perfect way only He can.

Only a loving Father embraces the hard places in us and loves us enough to bring about change. Because it’s often in those hard lessons learned that we are gifted with freedom.

When we walk through seasons when that desire we’ve longed for, maybe even pinned hopes on, doesn’t come? We have to learn to trust. To wrap our arms around our Father’s neck and cry into his shoulder.

He holds us close and whispers words of love and truth as we pour out our hearts to Him.

 

God’s embraces may look a little different than we expect. But we can be assured that His safety is always there for us.

He’s not a predictable God, or a “safe lion,” as C. S. Lewis wrote, but He is always a good God, a loving Father, and a safe haven for us.

What about you? When have you experienced God’s embrace in your life? What’s one way God has taught you to trust Him?

Click to Tweet: What is in an embrace?

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

See: When We Need to Look Upward

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

He sat by the temple gate called Beautiful. He was lame in both legs. Couldn’t even walk to his begging post.

What must he have felt? He couldn’t limp, much less walk, to the temple gate. Someone had to carry him there. No doubt dust kicked up into his face as people passed his begging post.

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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.

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Slow: What We Need When Life Goes Crazy

Sunlight on waves

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—SLOW. 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!

SLOW

These past thirty days have held constant motion. Frenetic, Unstopping. Stress.

After hubs left on his last trip in January, I discovered our son needed surgery. I already had a surgery scheduled for me. The other son was working on a National History Day project . . . with lots of prodding from mama.

So many unexpected things coming up, sapping my energy. My focus.

Sleep wasn’t coming.

Stress.

Even since hubs has gotten back, it’s been surgeries, follow up appointments, and dealing with illness. Unexpected things happening that needed to be handled.

Those things needing to be dealt with have stolen my margin time. Time I normally use to replenish my soul.

And here I am, near the end of February, hungering for a little bit of slow.

I yearn to slow down the frenetic pace of life. To simply breathe in a day that has nothing planned outside the four walls of my home.

The freedom to let down and lean into Jesus’ presence.

Destin waves in sun

 

God didn’t create us to run on crazy all the time. There are seasons, but it shouldn’t become a lifestyle.

My crazy hasn’t become a lifestyle yet. And my crazy is calm compared to some, I know this.

I’m seeing the need to rebuild margin into my days . . .

. . . To give myself permission to do the things I enjoy.

Even at the expense of getting something ‘urgent’ done.

God encourages us to remember that He’s got this. He’s got a handle on everything that’s happening in my life. Our lives.

He’s not taken by surprise when unexpected things pop into our days.

He’s not sitting in shock and worrying about how these situations will be handled.

He’s encouraging us to look to Him and to remember that we can be still. We can come into his presence, be still, and remember that He is indeed God.

psalm-46-10-copy

 

He wants us to invite Him into the crazy. To listen to His guidance.

To do this, we must slow down a little so we can hear His voice.

What about you? When you’re running in the crazy-mode, how do you slow down? What’s been the biggest help for you when you’re in a crazy season?

Click to Tweet: God didn’t create us to run crazy all the time

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

Chosen and Approved: You Are—Your Identity in Christ

chosen

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We are in part five of  the series, Chosen and Approved: Untangling Our Identities from People and Perfection. Emily Conrad, Mary Geisen, and I are still works-in-progress, learning to find our identities and value in Jesus alone. We’d love for you to join us each Tuesday through November 8th and share your journey with us.

This week, Mary Geisen writes:

“the world paints lies with just enough detail to resemble your outline and you visibly shrink against the portrait wishing for so much more.”

 

These words caught me, because I’ve been the girl she describes. I look at the outline of the world’s lies, or incomplete truths, and I take that as gospel. And I wish for so much more than the picture painted.

So many voices vie for our attention, don’t they? The world, shouting its messages of what we should look like, what we should do, who we should be . . .

There are those messages in our own minds . . . the ones that tell us how we have failed, not lived up to others’ expectations (or our own).

If you’re at all like me, it gets kind of noisy inside our heads sometimes. All those words, spoken in condemning, demanding tones of voice (that sound suspiciously like our own).

How do we filter out the messages? How do we know what we should be listening to? How do we know which of the voices trying to define our identities is accurate?

As Mary says, the world and our own voices often paint an incomplete silhouette of all God has created us to be. We can be discouraged with the often skewed incomplete picture, or we can learn truth that helps us to know which voice we need to listen to.

This week, Mary’s post speaks firm yet gentle truth to a spirit that is weary of trying to figure out what—or who—defines our identity. Join me as I click over to her site to read the rest of her encouraging, uplifting words.

Today, I’m linking up with Katie Reid for #RaRaLinkup

Mail: Receiving Heart Mail

junk-mail

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—MAIL. 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!

MAIL

When I was a girl, I waited for the clack of the lid of our mailbox (attached to our house). I would watch the postman from our front window, walking away in his blue uniform, and I’d eagerly check the mail.

I rarely received any mail with my name on it, but a girl could always hope, right? There was something about holding a letter, a card, from someone that made my heart leap in warmth. To know someone thought enough of me to write a letter (remember those?), stick it in the mailbox and send it my way.

It just touched my heart in deep places.

These days, I almost dread getting the mail. Most of what comes in is junk mail. There’s general mail I don’t have time to read, and almost nothing personal. I miss those days of finding more personal mail than junk mail in the mailbox.

good-mail

 

It got me thinking about the mail my heart receives. We do receive mail, you  know. Those messages that speak to our heart one way or another.

Those messages that discourage us, that leave us feeling like we’re lacking in some way? That’s junk mail filling up the spaces in our hearts with nothing of value. Just papers that should be thrown away.

We have to be diligent to check our heart-mail. To see what we’re believing and holding onto as truth. We need to throw away those emotional, mental fliers that hold no value.

Those messages that come in and affirm who we are as people? As children of God? Those are the letters we need to cling to . . . to re-read when we need the reminders of who God created us to be.

Heart in Pages

 

And God’s word is the best mail we can deliver to our heart. His life-giving words, the messages of affirmation, the love letters He sends just to us . . . those things we should clutch in our fists, spreading them out to re-read whenever our hearts need a boost.

What mail has been delivered to your heart lately?

What about you? What are your memories of mail from your growing up years? What mail has your heart received lately?

Click to Tweet: We have to be diligent to check our heart-mail.

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

 

Test: When Life Tests Us

wave-after-wave

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—TEST. 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!

TEST

Today’s been a testing-sort of day. And I confess, I’m pretty sure I failed.

I learned a long time ago that in order to pass a test, I need to prepare.

Somehow, I keep having to relearn that lesson.

From getting to bed way too late last night and up early this morning, I didn’t prepare well for the tests this day held. I’ve been running on tired for days now, and my sharp responses and impatient words give me away. Not to mention that need of a nap at about noon today.

The test was handling two boys on fall break, both of whom had to live out consequences from earlier in the week.

Yeah, I know. Not a great way to begin fall break.

I tried to cram for this test with time in the Word. And I got some reading time in . . . in bits and pieces. Between interruptions from one boy or the other.

Bits and pieces of time with God has been all I’ve gotten lately. See? Cramming. Trying to get some good time today, because I knew I was going to need His presence, His wisdom, and His grace.

When I don’t prepare well for life’s tests, my failings often show up in how I treat others.

The hard thing is? This is such a reflection of what’s going on in my heart.

storm-over-water

 

I’m learning with the boys coming into the teen years that I must be on top of my game. I have to be prepared for whatever the day throws my way.

The best way to prepare for any test is to come before my Father. 

It’s when I come before Him that I can be at peace with what may be coming. Something about that time in His word and in prayer equips my spirit for whatever tests the day holds.

It’s the meditating on His word that reminds me how to pray when my boys affirm they’re most definitely still in training.

Getting the physical rest I need, eating right? These also prepare me for life’s tests.

But it’s that time in the Word, that time spent still before Him that is the most effective way to prepare for any test that comes my way.

lam-3-2223-copy

Thank goodness for God’s grace. And for those mercies that are new every morning. I have a chance to begin tonight to prepare for tomorrow’s tests.

Because I already know, they’ll be written into my day.

What about you? How do you prepare for life’s tests? What Bible verse helps you on a day when you feel like you’re failing?

Click to Tweet: When I don’t prepare well for life’s tests, my failings often show up

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

Help: When We Say, “Yes.”

 

Peter with some helpMy Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—HELP. 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!

**I confess, I could have gone so  many different directions, and gone deeper, but five minutes is five minutes (or maybe 5:30 this time 😉 ).

HELP

My youngest had just turned one when he made up his mind he would not accept help when it came to eating. He pushed our hands away and gave us the stink eye on more than one occasion when we tried to help him.

This strong-willed, amazing boy has continued to have this trait of not accepting help from anyone if there’s even a remote a chance he can do “it” by himself.

I’m embarrassed to admit, I’ve had those same tendencies. That desire to do things on my own runs D-E-E-P.

I want to claim the applause of the accomplishment.

I don’t have to admit my need.

Man, we are prideful creatures, aren’t we?

Even though God tells us He is our help, I still want to have control over the things I’m trying to do. I want to do it in my timing, in  my way.

Whether it’s mothering, writing, or some other task, I’d simply rather do it on my own.

It’s so much easier that way.

Or is it?

Psalm 146-5 copy

Over the last number of years, God has allowed me into situations that are far bigger than myself.

Teaching elementary school for a few years before getting married.

Moving three times in two-and-a-half years. Yeah, that was kind of big too.

And mothering? This is a huge “bigger-than-me” thing.

God is showing me that there is a beauty in being able to ask for help. Being able to admit that yeah, I’m needy. Such a humiliating thing to confess in our culture.

But God never looks down on our neediness. (Click to Tweet)

He wants to help us. He’s told us He would, but He’s a gentleman. He’ll not push His way into our lives. More often than not, He will wait until we ask.

When we choose dependence on Him, and on others? That’s when relationships deepen. When we can share those vulnerabilities with others, that’s when we grow in depth as people.

Women Praying copy

When we refuse the help others offer, we can steal blessings from them.

Which way would God prefer we interact with others and with Him? As though we are part of a community of people who care about each other, or as though we’ve got it all figured out, but are dying on the inside?

What about you? When has someone’s offer to help you proven to be a blessing in disguise? When have you seen God’s help in your life? 

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

Homeless: A Heart Like Jesus

Home doormat

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Can I be honest and say I am a cynic?

And I am convicted.

As I watched this video, I was challenged to think about what home is.

I’ve seen and given to people who were wearing new tennis shoes and decent-looking clothes, and I’ve questioned if they were really homeless, or if they were trying to turn a quick buck.

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Protect: Who Protects You?

Flag waving

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

PROTECT

I’m blessed to be surrounded by protectors.

My father served in the Navy as a young man. He protected our family from many things, acting as a shield at times. Providing for our needs, protecting us from homelessness when I was a girl. We didn’t have a ton of money, but we always had enough food and a roof over our heads, and I always knew I could go to him with anything.

My husband, his brothers, and their father served in the Armed Forces for many years, protecting the rights so many Americans take for granted. They’ve laid their lives on the line to protect the people of our nation.

IMG_7638

But there’s One who protects completely. 

Though we may not always see God’s protection for what it is, He secures us. God tells us He’s always with us. He’ll never leave us, never forsake us.

He’s a shield about us. How many times do we see His shield covering our lives? Honestly? I rarely take the time to look for His protection.

The times I do search for it most often revolve around the storms and trials that enter my life. Then I’m calling out—begging—for His protection over me. Protection from the storm and sometimes from others’ choices.

The thing about God is that he never promises to protect us from the storms (Click to Tweet). But, He always walks with us through them. He protects us with His presence, His sovereignty.

Nothing will pass through our lives that He hasn’t already vetted. He sometimes acts as our umbrella, our sounding board, our strong tower when we are weak.

Gods walks through storms copy

He is the best protector. As much as I love my husband and my family . . . as thankful as I am for their willingness to sacrifice their lives to protect the rights I enjoy . . . I’m even more thankful for the One who sees the things I cannot see and protects me from them.

What about you? When have you seen God protecting you? Who has been your protector in a physical sense?

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