Blessing: Looking for Blessings

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

Sometimes I look for blessings with the wrong perspective. I miss them for what they are. As I pondered at tonight’s word, the first things that came to mind were: the opposite of blessings, being rich in blessings, Isaac blessing Jacob instead of Esau. And then I thought about this…

BLESSING

Silly me.

I thought that summer meant a slowing down time. Sleeping in. Leisurely quiet times now that I didn’t have to take the boys to school every morning.

Silly me.

One boy is passionate about football. His schedule includes weight training four mornings a week, along with some evening practices. The other boy is in band. Which means practices in the evening. Throw in other appointments, friend get-togethers, an attempt at meeting my “Go Through Life” friends for Bible study . . . oh, and a husband who travels for work.

And this summer has been anything but rest.

I tend to be one who digs in and “gits ‘er done.” But It’s not even July and I am WEARY.

Tonight as I thought about our word, I realized I’m focused in the wrong places. My eyes have been on my filled-up calendar, on the lack of sleep. On the crazy boy-growing times (physically and in character, ahem).

 

Maybe, instead of focusing on all that I feel is being taken out of me, I need to shift my perspective.

For years—years—I prayed for children. And God gave them. I prayed for a closer walk with Him, and He’s working that out in my life.

Moment by moment.

Day by day.

Decision by decision.

I prayed for the braveness to write, and God gave me a story. And then friends who are writers. And an opportunity to begin blogging.

God often uses the mundane—the busy, the stressful—to open our eyes to His blessings. But we’ll only see them if we look beyond the chaos in life and fix our eyes on Him.

We can best see His blessings in our lives when we pause to think on what He’s doing in the midst of the hard seasons, the crazy seasons, the back-talking seasons, the wearying seasons.

 

He never promises the blessings will just come in and of themselves, gift wrapped and tied with a ribbon (though sometimes they do). I’m discovering blessings are often linked with growing times, stretching-beyond-the-comfort-zone times, and with humbling times.

What about you? What unexpected blessings has God given you? How do you define “blessing?”

 

Click to Tweet: We’ll see blessings when we look beyond the chaos in life

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After much prayer and talking with my husband, I have decided to take a blogging break for the month of July. We have a lot going on, and I need to focus on my three guys. I’ll be back in the swing of things in early August, and I’ll be so eager to catch up with you all!

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Blessing.

Words: What We Say About Ourselves

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is part two of a five week series on the power of words. We have all been impacted by the words of another. Some words have imbued us with confidence, while others have deflated us. We are created to be communicators. So, when there are words, how do we use them well? 

Let’s explore this over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll join me and add your thoughts to the conversation! If you want to read previous posts, click: When There Are Words.

 

“I’m an idiot.” The boy says of himself. Far too often for my liking. He holds himself to such a high standard no person could possibly achieve it, much less maintain it. It’s a standard of perfection. No mistakes allowed.

In his mind, to fail even in the smallest way is worthy of calling himself a name.

It about breaks my mama’s heart. Every. Single. Time.

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Truth: The Destruction of Lies

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

TRUTH

As a mom, one of the hardest things I’ve encountered is watching my boys grapple with God’s truth. In a world that feeds them lies at the speed of light, they hear tons of different messages and come away confused. And sometimes hardened.

And honestly? Some of them sound pretty good. They hear messages that it’s not wrong to try drugs, or alcohol. It’s not wrong to have sex. It’s okay to bend the truth, just a little, to stay out of trouble. And if it feels good, it must be okay.

Yet, when we believe and act on lies, we end up maimed. When we live according to our own truth and disregard what God says is true? We end up stripped of value, of hope.

My boys will each have to come to their own conclusion that living their lives, making choices based on what God says is true is the best thing they can do. Hubs and I have told them. We’ve talked about it with them.

 

One of the hardest things (so far) about being the mom of teens is giving our boys the freedom to explore and come to the understanding that God’s truths are eternal. That God gave us His truth out of His great love for us. He knows what’s best for us.

We have to let our children discover the beauty of God’s truth. It’s in them working it out for themselves that they come to make His truth their own.

Our guys are going to make some poor choices along the way. I can still guide them. It’s scary to know I am not always the main person they listen to anymore.

I pray way more often and more fervently for my boys now that they’re in the teen years. I pray that they will understand that God truth sets them free. That His truth is what ultimately defines them.

 

God’s truth is the only truth worth listening to. As their mom, I will pray day in and day out. And I will be available to listen when they share their thoughts. And I will pray for God’s words and for their hearts to be open to hearing His truth.

What about you? Which of God’s truths have helped you in relationships in your life? Which of God’s truths has given you freedom?

Click to Tweet: God gave us His truth out of His great love for us.

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

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.

Continue reading

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