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

Abandon: Living Abandoned or With Abandon

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—ABANDON. 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!

ABANDON

I’ll never forget the expression on our two-year old’s face when he thought we’d abandoned him. The terror, the people circling around him as his frantic eyes searched for us. I scooped him in my arms and tried to comfort him, but it took a long time.

How many times have I walked into a situation where I felt like an orphan abandoned?

Feeling that sense of abandonment does wretched things to a spirit. We feel the need to control everything. We’ll do anything to not feel abandoned.

The hard thing is when we grow up, and we’re still trying to control everything, we end up sacrificing intimacy with others—and with God—in our attempt to feel safe.

That’s the tricky thing about God. He is not one we can control. When we come into a relationship with Him, we have to choose.

We can only go as deep in intimacy with Him as we are willing to relinquish our perceived control.

When we let go of a little control, God moves into the space we have left open to Him.

But we have to trust Him. We have to believe that He loves us and that He only allows those things into our lives that will benefit us . . . sooner or later.

 

As we release the grip we’ve had on our lives,

. . . as we choose to trust Him,

. . . we begin to live life with a beloved child’s mindset. Not in an orphan’s mindset.

When we trust our Father to do what’s good in our lives, we can go from living abandoned to living with abandon.

When we allow God into all the areas of our lives, He transforms us. Sometimes it’s immediate, but more often transformation is a work in progress.

 

Instead of frantically looking around—like my son—we can look with confidence or at least peace.

Even when the hard comes.

Even when we have no control.

Because when we know and trust the One . . . when we look to Him we are never abandoned. We’re never invisible.

What about you? When have you chosen to live with abandon? What lessons have you learned by living knowing you are loved by God?

Click to Tweet: When we allow God in He transforms

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

Weak: When We Are Weak

qt-in-the-morning

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—WEAK. 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!

WEAK

It’s been coming on for the past few months. Weeks of unending demands on my energy, my time, and my spirit have sapped strength right out of me.

Traveling, two surgeries (one for a son and one for me) two days apart, and life still doesn’t stop for recovery. Though my hubs has been wonderful.

I feel weak. I’m doing my best to do the important things . . .

Spending time with God.

Praying.

Exercising (kind of).

Eating right.

Trying (and I emphasize trying) to get enough sleep.

Things keep sabotaging  my best-laid plans to do it all right.

I am so very weak.

2-cor-12-10-copy

 

God seems to be using this season in my life to draw me closer to Himself. We can do our best to take care of ourselves—all of ourselves—but that doesn’t guarantee we’ll walk through every season strong.

Some seasons are too demanding. We can’t face them in our own strength. Only with the help of Jesus.

When we can admit our weakness to the Lord, then He can strengthen us with His power, His love, His energy.

These are a few things I’m learning in my season of weakness:

  1. Bring our need before the Lord. Confessing honestly how desperately I need Him
  2. Do our best to take care of ourselves, but don’t rely solely on ourselves to get through these seasons. Only God can bring us through them well.
  3. Share our needs with friends who will pray for us. Some will help in other ways. One friend has sent an encouraging meme daily to lift my eyes to Jesus
  4. Being honest with others about our need gives them a chance to serve us, to bless us, and to remind of of God’s goodness. hoarfrost-pine-needles

 

It is true. When we are weak, and we walk with Jesus, then we are truly strong.

What about you? What has helped you through seasons of weakness? When has God met you in that weak place in a very real way?

Click to Tweet: Some seasons we’re just not strong enough to walk through on our own

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

Refine: Giving Up Control

docked-sailboats

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—REFINE. 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!

REFINE

True confession: I like control. Not controlling others, but being able to have some control of my life.

And God probably looks down at me some days, and says, “Silly, silly girl.”

Most of the time, I know how my days are going to flow. I’ve got a good feel of what’s coming.

And I like it that way.

The thing is? This way of living requires very little trust on my end.

Recently, God has placed our family in a situation where I have. No. Control.

Something is happening, and it’s way out of my time parameters.

God’s plans and mine have collided, and my heart hasn’t been a pretty place.

The things is: I know God is good. I know He’s in control.

And I have to trust Him with this situation. It involves people I really care about, and it’s hard not being able to do anything for them.

Sometimes, refining comes in the form of heart work. I talk about trusting God. And I do trust Him. I do.

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But sometimes God refines me by placing me in a situation where I have to choose trust. I have to choose to walk out this situation in His timing. His parameters. And this is hard for a girl who likes a little control.

God’s refining often smooths away the rough edges the world’s chipped off around my heart.  His refining touch brings smoothness to the rough places. It begins a work of beauty in a place of ugliness.

When God refines us, it’s always done with the utmost of His love. He never hurts, jars, or challenges us for the sake of just doing these. He is very intentional in the work He does.

His end goal is to help us to look a little more like Jesus.

If we didn’t face those hard places in life . . .

. . . if we weren’t put in positions where we had to stretch and choose . . .

. . . we would remain stilted. Half-finished. Incomplete.

hawaii-sunset

 

As painful as it can be to walk through the refining God has for us, we can look to the beauty of Him, and we can keep our hope in Him. Knowing that HIs plans for us may not always be easy, but they are always good.

What about you? When has God done some refining in you? How do you keep a good perspective when life throws you curveballs?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes, refining comes in the form of heart work.

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

Connect: How Connecting Happens

two-friends

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—CONNECT. 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!

CONNECT

When I saw our word for tonight, I smiled. I kept thinking about the ugly green phone I used to have to pick up and listen to—the dial tone and the number tones, or clicks buzzing in my ear as I dialed each number. Then listening to the phone as it rang on the other end.

When I would call a friend to get together, I was so glad the telephone could connect us so we could talk.

In a way, that kind of connecting hasn’t changed. I still pick up the phone to talk with some people. I have a friend who I’ve talked with almost every week for the last twenty or so years. So hard to imagine. She lives in another state. I anticipate our conversations.

In our phone calls, we’ve chatted about child rearing, recipes, heart issues, the joys, struggles, disappointments, stretching, and rewards this life has offered us.

We’ve connected on deep levels. There’s no pretense between us.

Connecting is like that. We have to choose to reach out. It takes time to grow a relationship—a connection—to the point of depth.

older-couple

When we share pieces of ourselves, when we offer wisdom or vulnerability to another, connecting happens. A weaving of two spirits grows.

God created us to be interdependent. He gives us opportunities to weave our lives and experiences together with others.

But we have to be intentional in the weaving. We must be willing to reach out—through a phone call, a text, an email, or snail mail (does anyone besides me still hand write letters?).

It’s in the intentional effort of sharing ourselves, giving of our time that connecting happens.

intentional-effort-of-sharing-copy

 

That’s when there’s a foundation of trust that depth grows and fulfills.

I never mind picking up the phone to call someone I care about. More often than not, I come from the conversation away fulfilled. Sounds selfish, I know. But I hope the person on the other end of the line also has a sense of connection. That deep down satiation of spirit and soul. Because that’s what connection is about.

What about you? What’s your favorite way to connect with others? What’s one way you’re intentional about connecting with those around you?

Click to Tweet: God created us to be interdependent.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home site: Five Minute Friday—Connect

Now: Living in the Now

Christmas on the outside

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—NOW. 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!

NOW

I’ve written before about living in the now. And most of the time, that’s where I want to be.

But I confess, in the middle of a crazy season the now is all I see. This moment. The huge to-do list to “make Christmas happen.” My soul longs for more than this moment offers. More depth. More peace.

At the beginning of the month, I wrote about the peaceful season I was determined to have. Yeah, well . . . Unexpected business trips, a kiddo coming down with strep, and the opportunity bless friends by watching one of their kiddos put a huge dent into my idyllic peaceful season.

My now has felt weighted down by the burden of the things to do, to organize for our Christmas season.

My now has been consumed with wrapping presents, getting them in the mail, running errands, and planning for happenings later in the month.

gift-wrapping

Sometimes, I wish my now looked different than my reality. I wish that each moment could be filled with quiet, with a sense of God’s presence.

When the to-do list grows, my shoulders stoop. When all I can see is the tasks demanding my attention, my spirit deflates.

When that’s all my now holds, I end up weary.

I know that’s not where God wants me to live. Sometimes our nows are temporary states. Other times, they are conditions where we have to choose how to respond.

joy-shelfIt’s a little over a week before Christmas, and I’m choosing to change what my now looks like.

Instead of the tasks ruling my days, I’m giving myself permission to enjoy certain activities, like watching old Christmas movies. I’m reminding myself of the beauty of spending time with my guys in the family room, lit only by Christmas lights.

I don’t have to get all those cards in the mail before Christmas. It’s in the moments when my boys want to cuddle, to talk, or to goof around that now feels most pleasant.

Those moments are my priorities, my gifts from God and from my boys.

how-will-i-spend-my-now-copyI don’t want to look back on this season, only to regret missing the gifts God gave me in my “now.”

Each moment is precious. Each moment I live with the opportunity to make a choice. How will I spend my now?

What about you? How do you choose the best over the “must?” How do you make your moments count?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung at Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Now

Click to Tweet: Sometimes, I wish my now looked different than my reality.

Enjoy: When Life Is Busy

Thanksgiving Breakfast table

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—ENJOY. 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!

ENJOY

I cannot believe Thanksgiving is in ONE. WEEK. Where has this year gone? How much activity and busy-ness will these final weeks hold?

It’s going to be a struggle to not get sucked into the siren’s call to get everything finished. Concerts attended. Hugs given out. Letters completed and mailed out. Presents wrapped. Parties attended.

With so much busy-ness and unexpected happenings on the calendar? How does one enjoy the season?

As I recall, Jesus came into this world on a quiet night. The world was bustling around Him, but He came in stillness. And in stress. Joseph sought a place for Mary to give birth to Him. The Savior of the world.

He didn’t come into the middle of a big city. But in a stable. With the low rumble of animal breathing for His lullabies.

Shepherds were His greeters. And a few wise men.

candles-stillness

The point is, there was some busy-ness, but there was also sacred stillness.

I’m staring down the squares that represent the days left in this year, and if I let them, they are going to consume me.

I could come to December 31st tired. Disappointed in the things the season didn’t hold.

I feel the stress. I want the stillness.

The beauty of thinking about this now is that I have time to make some choices.

Because in the midst of the busy-ness, I can create times of stillness. I can choose to slow down enough to savor moments with my husband, our sons. With extended family. With friends.

I get to decide which activities I say yes—or no—to. I can decide what I do so I can enjoy this season.

in-times-of-busy-ness-copy

After all, we’re celebrating giving thanks, aren’t we? We’re rejoicing in Jesus’ birth in a few short weeks. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t want us so worn out that we can’t enjoy the party. That we can’t savor being with Him.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about for this post, but I think the post found me. God’s giving me a nudge to choose to enjoy. Not to endure. And not to exhaust myself.

What about you? What choices can you make to enjoy this season? How do you create moments of stillness during this time of year? 

Click to Tweet: I feel the stress. I want the stillness.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s site Heading Home—Enjoy

Common: What Makes Us Significant?

Rain covered leaf

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—COMMON. 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!

COMMON

I’ve lived much of my life believing I am common. There’s nothing special about me. I have faults, I get on peoples’ nerves. I’ve fallen short so many times. I have realized that I sometimes equate “common” with “failure.”

I realized that in my mind, “common” meant “insignificant.” Not special. I suspect most of us want to feel special—significant—in some way.

Some of us try to get really good at some talent or skill we have. Because then we stand out. We don’t look common.

Some people were blessed with good looks. They enhance those through what they wear, how they style their hair.

golden-leaves

Some of us, who have had the lie that we are “less than” ingrained into our belief systems, we have a hard time seeing ourselves as unique. WE can only see the ordinary, not-standing-out aspects of ourselves.

The thing is? God sees each of us as unique, as significant. He sees each of us through His eternal eyes of love. He sees the beauty, the passion, the fierceness He instilled into each of his creations.

The thing is? We are all works in progress. We are all created by God. He sees each of us as unique. He created each of us with a purpose only we could fulfill. No one else can do what He intended for us to do (see Ephesians 2:10).

In God’s eyes, no-one is common. Each of us is precious in His sight. 

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He understands our failings and looks at them as learning opportunities. He sees the wounds we’ve lived with and sees them as things that can draw us closer to Him. That can conform us into Jesus’ image. God sees His fingerprints in every cell of who we are.

To Him we are not common. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

What about you? What is one unique thing about you? How do you keep an accurate perspective about who you really are?

Click to Tweet: He created each of us with a purpose only we could fulfill.

I’m linking up with Kate over at Heading Home—Common

 

Journey: When We’re Weary

Red dirt path

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—JOURNEY. 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!

JOURNEY

I’ve said it before. This year has turned out so differently than I anticipated.

It’s held many complications to “my” plans, my hopes. So many distractions.

Hubs traveling. Boys bickering. Injuries thrown in. Disappointments along the way.

Right now, my journey—my path— feels overrun with vines.

And I am . . . weary.

I shouldn’t be irritated by the small things, I know I shouldn’t. But when I am weary, irritation is one of the first indicators. My poor family.

God never promises us an easy journey. Whether we’re on the marriage journey, the parenting journey, the infertility journey, the dream-seeking journey, or the illness journey.

Zion narrow trail

He never promises us a smooth and rock-free path.

He never declares it will be a hill-less hike.

Instead, it’s a journey where we sometimes get tripped up. The path turns in unexpected directions. Sometimes we trip on the rocks in the path. At times, the path is so narrow we barely fit on it without plummeting from the drop off a few inches away.

There are seasons where the path is even. Times when things go fairly smoothly.

And there are times when the path I’m walking feels steep, defeating, and discouraging.

One thing I’ve learned is that, no matter where I’m at in my journey, I need to trust my Father. He knows each step coming up for me.

Quiet Path

 

When my eyes are fixed on Him, though I may trip, the recovery won’t be as difficult, because God is there. Though I may stumble or get caught up in the vines of unmet expectations (with people or circumstances), God’s grace will catch me. He will untangle me. He will set me aright again.

He will always be with me. With us on every step of our journey.

What about you? When your journey has been hard or discouraging, how did you work through it? What’s your favorite verse for those times when the journey feels overwhelming?

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

Click to Tweet: He knows each step coming up for me. 

Park: When Our Dreams Are Parked

waiting-for-a-catch

 

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—PARK. 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!

PARK

I pictured 2016 going in a very different direction than it has. I envisioned myself finally moving forward in my dream of being published. Or at least being agented. I had sugar plum visions of that happening early this year and then working with said agent on my book. Readying it for the world.

Silly me. I guess I forgot to consult God’s plans and timing in my dreams.

Instead of moving forward, I’m still parked where I’ve been for the last few years. Unagented. Struggling at times to do the writing. Disillusioned at times.

The thing is? I may not be moving forward externally toward my dream. But God’s been moving in me.

From the torn ACL in January to today, He’s been teaching me a ton.

He’s moved me into a deeper place with Him. I’m not parked in the same spiritual spot I was last year.

He’s teaching me to be honest with Him. To express those ugly emotions that He can handle hearing. And He won’t strike me down for feeling and expressing them.

Sometimes it’s in choosing to be honest with Him that I am freed from chains that have bound me since childhood.

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He’s teaching me to wait on Him. Waiting chafes at my spirit some days. I just want it now. (Do you hear the inner toddler in me screaming to get out?)

But it’s in the waiting when I can become still enough to draw near to Him. To hear His whispers of love over me. 

He’s teaching me to listen to Him. I’m learning to hear His voice in my days. No, it’s not audible, but I’m learning to hear what it sounds like. Yes, I ignore it sometimes. And then I regret it.

He’s teaching me to trust Him. With my dreams and with every area of my life. His timing is always, always perfect. Even when that means my dream doesn’t move forward in my time frame.

running-at-sunset

So yes, in some ways I have been parked in the same place. But in the most important ways, I’m moving right into the plans He has for me.

What about you? When have you felt parked in a  situation and how did you handle it? What lessons have you learned in the waiting times?

Click to tweet: His timing is always, always perfect.

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