Expectations, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Stuck: When We’re Stuck

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

STUCK

I was happy for her. Really, I was. When the latest friend eagerly told me of her pregnancy, I tried on a smile for her. I was thrilled for her. But that hole—the unmet desire in me—filled with a bit of sadness. When would it be my turn? 

When a friend who has been writing for less time than me announced her first book contract, I was happy for her. I rejoiced with her. But on the inside? I hurt a little too. 

Why was God choosing to let me stay stuck in the same place while others moved on to their next chapters? 

There can be such a dichotomy of emotion—of thoughts—when someone moves on and we stay where we’ve been for what seems like going on forever. 

I’m coming to see that what I called “Stuck” God called “Opportunity.” What I saw as being held back, He saw as refining.

God has lessons for each of us to learn in our stuck places. 

The question is, are we willing to look beyond what we want and what others have . . . can we have eyes that see past our perceived holding pattern to the Lord? 

When we see others getting what we thought we would also have—or what we want—it can be so hard. Jealousy moves in. Discontent. Dissatisfaction.

Stuck places stir up all the ugliness that God wants to scrape away in the refining process. 

We must come to the place where we acknowledge the envy, the ugly in ourselves, and bring it to the Lord. 

When we look beyond our stuck place and fix our gaze onto the Father? That’s when we can trust His plan and His timing for our lives. We can relinquish those things we think we need and realize the main thing keeping us stuck is our own expectations. 

When we can gaze beyond these and into the Father’s face? That’s when we begin to live beyond the stuck place and in the freedom of trusting Him. 

What about you? When have you felt stuck in your life? What helps you keep an accurate perspective when you feel stuck?

Click to Tweet: There can be such a dichotomy of emotion—of thoughts—when someone moves on and we stay where we’ve been

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Stuck

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Easter, Faith, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Settle: Settling the Bill

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—SETTLE. 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 could have gone so many ways with this word! But, here’s my slightly-over-five-minutes offering.

SETTLE

My grandfather was a hard man. He loved his family, but he was strict and tight with his finances when it came to certain aspects of spending money.

Shortly after hubs and I were married, we were stationed in Alabama. We would sometimes go to visit my grandfather and his wife. One Sunday they took us out for a nice brunch. My grandfather insisted on settling the bill.

The thing was, he was not a good tipper. I won’t tell you what he left, but it was insulting.

I’ve worked in the food industry. I know how hard servers work. So, I went in and left a generous tip for our server.

When I came back out, my grandfather asked, “Did you go back in and leave more of a tip?”

I stood straighter. Looked him in the eye, and with only the slightest quiver in my voice, I replied, “Yes, I did. She gave us good service, and she deserved it.” I was nervous about what his response might be, but he turned and headed to the car.

Jesus is so much richer than my grandfather. He’s good, sacrificing, and generous.

There’s no way for us to settle our debt with God. Jesus is the only One who can pay the bill our sin has incurred. 

And in the paying of that bill, He’s given us the gift of eternal life with Him. Even if salvation was the “only” benefit to come from believing the gospel, from accepting Jesus as Lord, it would be enough. 

Jesus gives so much more. He’s given us grace to walk through our days.

To make mistakes and to learn.

To grow in the grace and knowledge of Him.

Jesus has given us His acceptance and the benefits of being embraced in the family of God.

He’s given us the gift of faith, so we can know Him more.

And, He’s gifted us with His unconditional love. There’s nothing, no-thing, we can do that will make him stop loving us. His benefits are much better than the tips I left for servers over the years. Even the one that went to a certain server in Alabama.

As we enter into this weekend —as we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection—may we remember that He has settled our bill. He has left the tip . . .with us. Grace, faith, and love.

What about you? When have you had the chance to be generous in giving to someone else? How have you seen Jesus lavish you with His love?

Click to Tweet: Jesus is the only One who can pay the bill our sin has incurred. 

Come read other great posts on Five Minute Friday—Settle

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Provide: What God Provides

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

PROVIDE

Each day, as I drive the boys to school, we pass this pond. I love it. It reflects the mountains when its surface is glassy. It provides food for geese and ducks and other birds.

It’s just pretty to me. Snapping pictures of it makes my spirit happy.

I’m sure as some people drive by and watch me walk to the pond to snap photos some mornings, they may think I’m just this side of crazy.

It’s a pond.

In the middle of a city.

Right next to a development of apartments.

Big deal.

But, God brings beauty from it. Through it. He offers food for the water fowl. And glimpses of His glorious color for those who take a second to glimpse that way when they drive past.

How much more does God provide for us? His provision may not look like we’d expect. Sometimes He doesn’t provide what we think we need.

But God.

He knows exactly what we need.

As the geese need a place to land, rest, and feed, so we need places in our days—our lives—to land and be filled. Physically Spiritually. Soul-fully.

And He gives this. In Psalm 23, the first verse is meaningful to me. “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

He knows what I need. If He’s provided something—whatever that is—He knows I needed it.

And, if He doesn’t give me something I think I need . . . did I really need it?

I have seen Him provide for many of our family’s needs, and a number of our wants.

But those things He hasn’t given . . .

sometimes He’s saying, “Wait.”

Other times He’s saying, “This isn’t My best for you, Daughter.”

Like those geese, I need to trust that He knows. And if He hasn’t given it, then I must not need it.

He has a better plan for me. For my life.

As I walk through my days, I want to see His beauty. His provision. I want to be on the lookout for His presence in my days.

What about you? How have you seen God provide in your life? When has he not given you something you thought you needed and offered you something better instead?

Click to Tweet: He knows what I need. If He’s provided something—whatever that is—He knows I needed it.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Provide

Five Minute Friday scribblings

Tired: When We Live On Too Little Sleep

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

TIRED

I suffered with insomnia for the first six years of our marriage. Two to five hours of sleep was my norm. One day, I was so tired, I drove home from somewhere and didn’t even remember going through a couple of major intersections.

I don’t recommend driving when you’re living on so little sleep. But sometimes we have to do what we have to do, even when we’re tired. Don’t we?

In this season of life, there’s way more stuff to do than time to do it. For the last number of years, I’ve caught my bedtimes slipping closer to when the clock hands point straight up. I still wake up at o’-dark-hundred, though. I’ve held my list as more important than sleep.

I don’t think that’s how God wired us. He knows we need rest. He’s created us to need it if we want to thrive.

The thing is? When I live a lifestyle of not-enough-sleep, I miss out. I drive through my days without really experiencing them. I survive, but I’m not thriving. And I don’t remember the important things.

I miss out on time loving on my boys, time connecting with my husband and friends. I’m too tired to really focus on the important. Instead, I tend to choose dealing with the urgent, so I can mark that next thing off my to-do list.

When I’m tired, I am shorter-tempered with my boys. Less compassionate when they’ve had a tough day. I miss the nuances in their body language. My husband is patient with me, but he sometimes worries about me when I’m not sleeping enough.

There are seasons when we simply have to push through the tired. But something or someone is sacrificed when we live that way. Sooner or later, our bodies will demand rest. And we’d be wise to give it.

In this, my fiftieth year, I’ve been working to sleep more. I’m choosing rest over to-do’s. It’s when I am rested that my body feels best, my mind functions at it’s best. And I’m most attuned to the things God wants to show me in the world around me.

Tiredness tints my days in gray. Being rested colors my days with brightness and joy.

I eventually got a handle on the insomnia and began sleeping normal-people amounts again. And with that came more clarity in my thinking, more intimacy with my Father, and more joy with my people.

What about you? How does tiredness affect you? What helps you stay rested?

Click to Tweet:  When I live a lifestyle of not-enough-sleep, I miss out.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Tired

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Perspective, Trials

Beauty: Looking For Beauty

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

BEAUTY

The Weather Channel lied to us on Monday. What was predicted to be a cold, breezy day morphed into a snowy, gray day. I always look for the beauty in a day. I see it in fog. In clouds. In sunlight.

But a gray day is still  . . . a gray day. Not as much color. Dreary. One of those days when a girl wants to stay inside, eat popcorn and watch movies or read a book until the sun come back out.

Tuesday started out foggy, but by the time I dropped the boys off at school, the sky was a brilliant blue. Snow-tipped trees brushed it with pure contrast. My heart was happy!

It got me thinking about how we go through seasons in our lives that are dreary.

HARD.

Sometimes the hard passes and blue skies return.

Sometimes, we walk through the Hard for the rest of our days.

One thing I’ve found is, if I can look for the beauty in the midst of the Hard, my heart is often pointed back to God.

When circumstances overwhelm me with discouragement and even despair, it’s difficult to see beyond the colorless pain.

When God reveals Himself color begins to tint the gray. When I look beyond the pain of circumstances and choose to cling to faith in Him instead of reliance on myself? My eyes can see hints of His beauty in the middle of the hard season.

God is always faithful. We may not always see how God works, but we can always be assured that He is there in the hard seasons with us.

If we seek His face, He often reveals glimpses of Himself. When the days are gray, let’s look for His beauty, shall we?

What about you? When have you seen God’s beauty in the midst of your hardship? What aspect of God’s creation is the most beautiful to you?

Click to Tweet: If I can look for the beauty in the midst of the Hard, my heart is often pointed back to God

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Beauty

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

Authenticity, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Agree: Can We Be Authentic?

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

AGREE

God has imprinted the word, Authentic, on my heart. I spent a year focusing on that word, and God taught me much.

More than almost anything, I want to live an authentic life. One that reflects Jesus through words and actions.

A life that is honest and real with those around me. Especially the ones I love the most.

Authentic and Agree do not always co-exist.

For decades I spent so much time trying to be agreeable. To fit in. To be accepted.

I could agree with almost anyone (within reason) and think I was being honest. With myself. With them.

But the truth is: we are not always going to agree with people. Things will be done that bother us. Words will be spoken that hurt. Are unfair. Untrue.

Do we just have to brush over it for the sake of agreement? Of unity? Of being godly?

Sometimes, to agree with someone is to be inauthentic.

It’s easy to agree with others to avoid conflict. But when that’s the main reason for agreement, we lose a piece of ourselves and gain compromise and falseness.

We don’t have to enter into conflict all the time. But we need to accept the fact that there will be times when, to be authentic is the higher calling. To agree with someone or something will strip our “real-ness” and replace it with a phony.

Can we be authentic and disagree with someone? Yes. Can we do it in love? Hopefully.

This is what God calls us to. When we disagree with another, may we do so in a loving way. God doesn’t call us to be right or even authentic above all else. He calls us to love.

This looks different depending on relationships, circumstances. But if we can reflect His love in a situation, authenticity can weave deeper into the fabric of who we are.

What about you? How do you disagree with someone in a loving manner? How do you live out authenticity?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes to agree with someone is to be inauthentic

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Agree

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Infertility, Trusting God

Surrender: Making the Choice

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

If you’ve read my blog for very long, you know part of my story is a walk through the valley of infertility. As I thought about this word, God brought to mind a lesson from those years . . .

And I’m sorry, I went a few minutes over five tonight . . . 

~~~~~~~

SURRENDER

Was it too much to ask? Really?

All I wanted was the gift of being able to bear a child. To carry one within, go through the blessed pain of birth, of sustaining from my own body . . . God created women’s bodies to do this.

So why couldn’t mine? Why wouldn’t mine?

This desire to bear children is God-given. It wasn’t too much to ask.

Yet every month, my body betrayed me by acting normal, as it always had.

I begged God. Begged friends to pray. Did research on how to get pregnant.

But God.

I wept. I got angry. I felt despair at times. Deep despair.

And still, no baby.

I spent hours in God’s word. Tried to serve. Tried to ignore the fact that teenage mothers were having babies they didn’t want. And I (and Hubs) who wanted a baby couldn’t have one.

I fisted this desire and held it tight in my heart. So tight I thought my heart would crack.

God finally challenged me. He showed me how I had made this baby-thing an idol. It had become more important to me than an authentic relationship with Him.

He challenged me to surrender this craving for motherhood. To lay it in His hands, with no promises.

And it was one of the hardest things I’d done up to that point in my life.

As I searched verses for this post I saw a common thread in surrender. When we surrender something, or ourselves, we have to choose to do so. We have to choose to give up . . .

Give up ourselves, our hearts, our desires. We have to Let. Go.

When we are obedient in the surrender, God honors that. He spares things. He blesses His people. He handles us with love. No matter what we’ve done. How willful we’ve been.

When we refuse? When His people won’t surrender? Things inevitably become more difficult.

When we cling to our own way over God’s way? He can’t make anything good come of that. He will wait and let us wear ourselves out. He doesn’t love us less. But He won’t usually wait too long for us to make a different choice.

When we choose to walk in disobedience, we walk outside the umbrella of His protection. And the consequences will come.

When we choose to walk in the center of God’s will, He affirms us in that choice. He doesn’t always make it easier. Sometimes it feels harder.

But when we surrender our will to walk in His? That’s when we walk with assurance.

Surrendering this deep-hearted desire for motherhood brought me to a place of humility. It also renewed my love for God.

And in time—His time—He gave us the gift of our two boys. I’m not sure if I’d ever have  had the privilege of being their mom if I hadn’t first chosen to trust God when He told me to let go.

What about you? What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to surrender? What is the most impacting lesson you’ve seen come out of surrendering?

I love this song by Lincoln Brewster and it fits with this week’s post. I hope you enjoy it!

Click to Tweet: When we choose to walk in the center of God’s will, He affirms us in that choice

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Surrender

 

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

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