Faith, Revelation Series

Revelation (series)—See: Who Sees Us?

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I didn’t set out to write a series based on Revelation 2-3. As I began reading the book of Revelation during my quiet times, I wanted to find truths written to the churches that apply for my life. What came from that desire to find one thing in each letter . . . is this series.

The churches to whom John wrote dealt with many of the same issues we face in an increasingly godless culture. Just as the early churches made choices about whether they would live for Jesus or themselves, so too, do we. 

We have the gift of being able to look at back at their strengths and weaknesses and learn from them.

This isn’t an in-depth theological rendering of these letters. Rather, each post reflects what God has taught me through studying both the letters and the churches. As we walk through Revelation two and three over the next seven weeks, I hope you’ll be encouraged and share your thoughts here! Past posts can be found here: Revelation Series 

~~~~~~~

Have you ever felt small, insignificant? If you’ve read enough of my blogposts, you know this is a struggle I’ve grappled with over many years.

That sense of, no matter what I do that is good, helpful, significant, worthy of notice, it’s not enough to actually get noticed.

The question becomes, who am I seeking to be noticed by?

Continue reading “Revelation (series)—See: Who Sees Us?”

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Faith, Revelation Series, Trusting God

Revelation (Series): Compromise—Answering God’s Prompting

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I didn’t set out to write a series based on Revelation 2-3. As I began reading the book of Revelation during my quiet times, I wanted to find truths written to the churches that apply for my life. What came from that desire to find one thing in each letter . . . is this series.

The churches to whom John wrote dealt with many of the same issues we face in an increasingly godless culture. Just as the early churches made choices about whether they would live for Jesus or themselves, so too, do we. 

We have the gift of being able to look at back at their strengths and weaknesses and learn from them.

This isn’t an in-depth theological rendering of these letters. Rather, each post reflects what God has taught me through studying both the letters and the churches. As we walk through Revelation two and three over the next seven weeks, I hope you’ll be encouraged and share your thoughts here! Past posts can be found here: Revelation Series 

~~~~~~~

As the grocery clerk rang up my purchases, she shared about how a loved one had recently died from something she too should have died from. As I listened to her words, I heard the pain, the guilt, the confusion of why she was left to live while her loved one died.

The Spirit pressed hard on my heart, encouraging me to share about Jesus with her. I had prayed for this gift of opportunity . . . and I faltered.

Continue reading “Revelation (Series): Compromise—Answering God’s Prompting”

Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Why: When There Are No Answers

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

WHY

When I saw the word for tonight, an old Point of Grace song came to mind. 

I thought about the heartbreak in the news this week of the school shooting in Florida. I’m not sure I’m ready to write about this yet. As I prayed and pondered about what I would share, “Who Am I?” came to mind. It’s comforted me on the roads of heartache.

*****

There are so many questions in my mind, my heart, that begin with Why?

There are times when I wish I had the answers, the capability of understanding the workings and secrets of God.

I don’t understand the why’s of being rejected by my peers as a child and the heartache that season inflicted on me.

I don’t understand why God allowed my husband and me to be unable to bear biological children when teen moms could and aborted. I don’t understand why we walked for years on the infertility road.

This is what I know. There are going to be questions I will never see answered this side of heaven. Just because God may not choose to answer my Whys, doesn’t mean He doesn’t love me, or that He loves me less than others.

When my eyes are wrapped up in the whys of my own life, I am me-focused.

Maybe the better questions to ponder revolve around Him.

Why would He choose to love me, and all the people He’s ever created? Why would He pour out His grace on us, even when we sin against Him and each other? Even when we walk away from Him?

Why would He choose to strengthen His children to walk through this life’s hard with His light shining through us?

Why?

One word: LOVE

We may not understand why things happen in our world. They break our hearts. Hurt us to our cores.

We may feel oh, so alone sometimes. Lost.

We’re not.

In those seasons when we ask WHY . . .

. . . we are single

. . . Married to _____

. . . Unemployed

. . . Working in a difficult job

. . . Losing a loved one

. . . Dealing with cancer and illness

. . . Devastated by life’s heartbreaks

Those are the seasons we should be seeking God Himself rather than answers.

Sometimes the answers are beyond our understanding.

But our Father? He is intimately acquainted with us. He loves us. He walks with us in the midst of the hardest seasons. He knows the answers we’re ready for, and the ones we’re not ready for.

Maybe when we want to ask why, we can choose to trust instead, to rest in His love and care for us?

What about you? How do you respond when God offers silence in answer to your Why? When has God given you an answer to your why?

Click to Tweet: Why would He choose to love me, and all the people He’s ever created?

Linking up with Five Minute Friday—WHY

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Intentional Living

Intentional: Living With Intention

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

As I learned what our word is for this week, I had to smile. I spent last year focusing on this word: Intentional. As I prayed tonight, I got excited about what I might share. So…here goes…

INTENTIONAL

One year ago, I had some understanding of what it means to live intentional. Walking through 2017 focusing on this One Word was transformational for me. God taught me how to be more intentional in my relationships with my family, with friends, with Him, and in writing.

I learned a lot about what it means to live intentional.

I got lots of practice on relating with our boys as they mature and walk out the teen years. I became intentional in the words I did—and didn’t—share.

God still has much to teach me about living every area of my life with intentionality.

The biggest thing He’s speaking to me about right now is to do life WITH Him.

To parent with Him.

To “wife” with Him.

To write with Him.

God wants me to do things with Him. He doesn’t want me to do everything on my own and then ask/expect Him to bless the work of my hands. Done in my own strength.

By myself.

When I commit my ways to the Lord, when I trust in Him? That’s when he goes to work in my life.

But more than that, He wants me (us) to remember that I’m not “doing life” alone. He is always with us. He yearns for intimacy with me and each of us. He wants us to remember we are not orphans. We are loved. Deeply. By a caring Father.

When we walk through life we can intentionally draw near to Him. Commit our thoughts, desires, fears, frustrations, those deep yearnings of our hearts to Him. 

We all have things we’re called to do. Whether it’s caring for others, for animals, vocations, nurturing relationships . .. He wants us to do these things with Him.

More important than the things we do, we are the main thing with God. Not our dreams, responsibilities . . . not our jobs, our callings.

Intimacy with God . . .

When I’m intentional about spending time with Him, seeking Him out each day, He renews my perspective. And God aligns the other things in my life. That is the best way to live intentional.

What about you? What helps you to be intentional in how you live out each day? How do you define “Intentional?”

Click to Tweet: God wants us to remember we’re not “doing life” alone

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Intentional

Control, Trusting God

Control: When We Choose to Trust

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I strolled along the beach just after the sun came up, staying to the “combed” part of the sand. I didn’t want the inconvenience of getting my feet crusted with wet sand and then having to rinse them off before I wandered inside the hotel.

As sand crumbled beneath my toes, I was stuck by the way the waves smoothed part of the sand as they washed upon the shore. How they recorded their mark of how far they rolled up and then crept back to where they began.

The contrast intrigued me.

Continue reading “Control: When We Choose to Trust”

Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Simplify

Simplify: Good For the Heart

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

SIMPLIFY

Simplify is one of my favorite words. There’s something about it that feels so freeing.

One thing I’ve discovered is that if I want an unfettered spirit, it often begins with an uncluttered space. A year and a half ago, I became very intentional about decluttering, first one room, and then the entire house. Man, it felt good to get rid of things that we no longer used or needed. Things that no longer brought joy.

But, here I am 18 months down the road, and the clutter is creeping in again. Life got busy.

I left things undone. Because other things needed attention. And sooner or later, the “undone” piles up in my spirit. When my spirit is burdened, I’m more subject to discouragement and a skewed perspective.

I’ve been staring down all the piles that crept into our kitchen, our family room. My “pretty” room.

There’s something about getting things back in order in my home that prepares my heart for deeper intimacy with Jesus. When I have a clear space, I can unburden my heart to the Lord more easily. My ears seem more open to the promptings of my Father.

When I declutter my heart, I find a certain freedom to worship the Lord without worry. I discover a stillness that I can’t know when I’m holding onto the clutter of unforgiveness, out-of-order priorities. Of discouragement.

So as I continue into this year—as the boxes that mark my days begin to fill—I aim to find those uncluttered spaces in my home and my heart and dwell there. I want to be near Jesus. To hear his truths spoken to my heart.

When I simplify that which I can in my life and I simplify what my heart carries around, I discover the beauty of simply being in God’s presence.

What about you? How do you manage the clutter and the crazy that daily living brings? How do you keep an uncluttered heart with Jesus?

Click to Tweet: Sooner or later, the “undone” piles up in my spirit.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Simplify

Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Guide: Which Voice Do You Listen To?

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—GUIDE. 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 have a very busy day tomorrow, but I will respond and visit over the weekend. Can’t wait to read your words!

GUIDE

There’s nothing quite so jarring as hearing your son’s voice on the other end of the phone and his first words are: “Mom, I’m not hurt.”

I was at a writer’s conference last year, listening to our keynote speaker, when my cell phone buzzed. Coming from hubs’ number, I had to answer. We’d been like ships crossing, and I longed to hear his voice.

When my boy responded to my, “Hello?” and said those four words, my heart ratcheted into high gear.

I asked what happened. He told me a story of how on a hike, he, Hubs, and another leader had gotten separated from the rest of the Boy Scout troop. The hike had gone, let us say, in unexpected directions.

My son and the two men with him, slid down a shale hill. Thankfully they only bore scratches from their “adventure.”

They had been following the voices of the rest of the troop, but said voices got further away. So, they just hiked in the direction they thought would be the fastest way back to camp.

After a long downhill slide over scratching, sharp-edged rocks, they eventually caught up with the troop.

It got me thinking. How often do I follow the world’s voices assuming they’re leading me in the right direction? They may offer good guidance sometimes. But other times?

I end up sliding down into a pile of discouragement and being scratched up by the lies.

I am learning that the world has its opinions, and wants to strip my of my identity.

And God has His truths and wants to affirm me in my identity as His girl.

The world will try to guide me away from the Father because it hates Him. God will always be there to guide me into truth.

The question is, which voice will I listen to? I get to choose. God’s way never leaves me with permanent scratches on my heart. That sounds much better to me.

What about you? What truths has God shared with you that have given you good guidance through a situation? How do you discern between the different voices in your life?

Click to Tweet: God will always guide me into truth

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Guide

 

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Focus, Perspective

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

**********

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.

Mothering, When There Are Words, Words

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.

Continue reading “Words: What We Say About Ourselves”

Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Mothering

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