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.

Steady: Staying Steady

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

STEADY

During the Twitter chat, Kate asked how we got through writing rejections. I have had a little experience with these, and it got me thinking. Here are my musings:

Life keeps moving forward, steadily and constantly. We live through joys, sorrows, regrets, love. We experience the highs of success, the crushing lows of failure or disappointments.

And sometimes, though those letdowns aren’t earth-shattering, they are heart-battering. When I submitted a story to a publishing professional, I received kind words that told me my story wasn’t ready yet. After I’d spent hours on it. I was beyond disappointed. For a few moments, I considered giving up.

I had to process the emotions, the disappointment the sense of rejection. The fears of never being good enough.

Ultimately, though, I had to bring it all before God. To pray for His perspective. I had to ask Him if this was the road He wanted me to be on.

This writing road, it ain’t easy. Anyone who says it is is lying.

 

But when God says yes to the hard road, He also gives us what we need to walk steady on it.

In my case, I spent a lot of time with Him, in prayer, and in His word. I cried, spent all that emotion. I sought counsel from friends who are further along this journey than I am.

And I gave myself time. Time to process, to evaluate, and to seek God for a plan for moving forward.

He didn’t give me permission to quit walking this journey. And, in time, I was able to see the validity of the professional’s comments and the encouragement offered in the letter.

God gave me a mentor and a new story. He gave me hope and many reminders that He’s with me.

When I cling to the truth, to the indicators that I’m where He wants me? That’s what helps me to walk steady, rather than to fall off the path into the brambles of discouragement and the quicksand of “not-enough-ness” lies.

And there’s five minutes.

What about you: How do you stay steady when life hands you disappointments or worse? How do you get back up after you’ve been knocked down and keep moving forward?

Click to Tweet: When things don’t turn out the way we thought they would

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Steady. Come join the fun!

Worth: A Matter of Perspective

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

WORTH

Worth truly is a matter of perspective. If I place value on the gifts God has given me, the talents He allows me to exercise, the family and friendships He’s surrounded me with, these are all worth much to me, am I focused on the wrong things? don’t get me wrong, I LOVE those who people my life.

But, sometimes I am so about the things of this world, that I forget what’s really worth much more than even the relationships this side of heaven.

It’s all perspective.

We live a certain number of days on this globe, struggling, experiencing joy, love, hardship, pain and more. But, this isn’t the end.

This isn’t the end.

No matter what we value here on earth, it’s nothing compared to what it will be like when we get to heaven. The worth of things here will be the amount of a handful of dirt in the light of knowing Jesus. Jesus is worth so much more than anything on either side of the veil.

His love for us.

The gift He gave us in dying in our place on the cross.

These are worth so much more. Yes, we have value to our Father. But if we stop there, we miss so much.

 

Our eyes are focused on . . . ourselves.

When I can look on all the good the Lord has given me here, as much as I love it all? And I can place more worth in Jesus, knowing Him, and His love?

That is worth so much more.

The sufferings we face here are hard. No dismissing that. But, in the light of eternity, they are not worth comparing with the glory of what is coming. The glory of God when we meet Him face-to-face. That amazes me when I stop to think about it.

 

I need to get my eyes off my struggles, which are minor compared to so many on this earth. And I need to put them on Jesus.

He is the one who strengthens and equips us to walk the hard paths here. He is the one who gives us anticipation for the joy of meeting Him in person one day.

What about you? How do you keep an accurate perspective about what’s worth the most? What perspective helps you when the hard times stalk into your life?

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Worth. Come join the fun!

Click to Tweet: What’s most important in the light of eternity?

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

Should: When We Have Expectations

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

SHOULD

Heat rising from the bubbling stew steamed her almost as much as her sister’s lack of helping. Martha stirred the pot again.

Why wasn’t Mary in here helping her? They were supposed to prepare the meal so the men could listen to Jesus, right? So what right did her sister have to sit at the Master’s feet and leave Martha to do all the work?

She should be in here, helping with dishes, and chopping vegetables and helping with  . . . . anything would be nice.

“Master, my sister should be helping me with the food prep.”

She was a brazen one when expectations weren’t met.

“Martha,” His gentle voice chastened. “Your sister has chosen the better thing. It will not be denied her.”

 

How would you have felt hearing those words from the One you were trying to please?

Isn’t it interesting how often we can get some great idea in our head, and it really is a good idea. But when we twist it up into what we think it should look like? We choke the life out of the inspiration the Master gives.

I’ve been guilty of this many times. I begin some grand endeavor, and then I get upset when others don’t go along with my plan (I might be hanging my head at this admission).

God challenges me to give up my expectations of what others should be doing to come alongside me in the great plan. Instead, He’s teaching me to turn to Him.

God has this amazing way of re-aligning my perspective when I begin to get out of sync with His plan.

When I take over the good plans He has, I always, always end up frustrated, discouraged, defeated. And then, I have to come back before Him, after His gentle (usually) chastening, and confess that I took His plan and morphed it into my less-than-great plan.

 

Instead of being the striving “do-er,” I need to become more like Mary and just be.

Be at the feet of Jesus.

Be attentive to His words and promptings.

Be open to His working in my heart.

What about you? When has God had to redirect you as you carried out a plan? What is one thing God has taught you when you chose to sit at His feet?

Click to Tweet: When we’re trying to “do our plan”

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

 

Sing: The Power of Song

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—SING. This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. I write for five minutes on a given topic. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out our hostess, Kate Motaung’s site. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

***I confess, for as much as I thought I had to say about singing, I couldn’t get my thoughts down coherently. I hope you enjoy it anyway. :)***

SING

Today, I attended my youngest’s final elementary school concert. The bittersweet that welled up in me took my by surprise. We’re approaching the end of another life chapter. Next year, he’ll be in junior high, growing and changing.

I loved the concert today. The energy of those sweet young voices filled the cafetorium with a fun energy that left the audience smiling. These kids had a confidence as they sang their songs.

Some sang with smiles creasing their faces. Others sang so serious. Some heads bobbed in time to their music. Some kids shared dances, others played instruments that enhanced the accompaniment.

 

There’s something about singing that is powerful. Singing has the ability to lift spirits, to clarify confused feelings, to replace anxiety with peace.

Singing can unite people of different belief systems. When believers sing in worship those doctrinal differences seem to slip away, at least for a little while.

Song creates a depth of emotion that the spoken word never can. The music, the words set to tune, the harmonies . . . these all speak to the depths of our souls.

Singing transcends the human condition.

It’s going to be humbling and amazing to worship Jesus standing next to His angels. The purity of worship in heaven will be more than I can comprehend this side of the veil.

 

God talks a lot in the Bible about singing. And it has nothing to do with the quality of our voices. It’s all about the heart the song comes from.

My hope for my son, and his classmates, is that they will come to understand the beauty of singing together. Many voices singing one (or two or three) notes. And the beauty of heart-level living.

And for their mothers to watch in wonder as their children grow and mature.

What about you? Are you a shower singer or an in-front-of-people singer? What strikes you the most about singing?

Click to Tweet: What does singing do for us?

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

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.

romans-8-29-copy

 

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