Choices: What Will We Choose series, Relationship, Series

Choices (series): When Our Hearts Must Choose

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’ve spent the last few months reading through the book of Jeremiah. The thing that struck me was how many times God gave His people the choice of whether or not to forsake their idols and worship Him. As I read, I realized how many times we have choices to make. In our relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and especially with God. These next few weeks I will be sharing a 5-part series on choices (Read other posts here). I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what helps you make wise choices.

~~~~~

We always have a choice.

We are children of a God who always loves.

The thing is, God doesn’t manipulate us to love Him. We have to choose Him.

In Jeremiah’s day, the people knew God had brought them into the Promised Land. But in the hundreds of years since that epic event, their hearts had grown cold. They’d turned to other gods.

Other lifestyles.

They called God the Lord Almighty, yet they didn’t live as if He was truly Lord in their lives.

God sent His messengers to His people. He spoke of His love through the prophets. He also spoke of what would happen if the people continued to betray the covenant between Him and them.

They didn’t listen. Their hearts grew colder and more wicked.

And yet, God waited.

His first choice was not to pour out judgment and wrath on them. God’s first desire was to have intimate fellowship with His people.

When the judgment began, God’s discipline was gradual. He didn’t just declare He was done with them and abandon them. He did, however, allow His people to lose those things that were precious to them.

When Nebuchadnezzar took the first wave of people from Jerusalem, he also took all the tools of the temple. Those valuable, precious vessels that were supposed to be used by the people in their worship of God.

They weren’t worshiping. So, God allowed the vessels to go into the hands of a foreign king.

As soon as items used for worship were gone, the people wanted them. “Prophets”  declared God would bring them back.

Only, God had never said this.

How easy is it for us to take for granted the gift of relationship with God? We become busy with many other things. And often, these tasks are necessary.

But we relegate our relationship with God to that back corner of our hearts. Knowing He’s there, if we really need HIm.

And we forget Him.

We make our own choices, snap decisions, and move on in our days, our lives.

We forget God.

We forget how sweet our fellowship with Him was. How He filled us with His peace, with depth, with wisdom.

Relationships need nurturing. Whether it’s with a spouse, or our children, or friends. No nurturing—no time spent together—equals drying distance between hearts.

God won’t force Himself on us. He wants us to choose Him.

If we ignore God long enough, we lose our connection with Him. And when we need Him in a hard moment, He may not answer.

In Psalm 107, there’s a verse that talks about how people had gone their own way. They were living their lives, doing what needed to be done.

And then the storms came. It was only when they cried out to God—when they humbled their hearts before Him—that’s when He stilled that storm.

And, He guided them to their desired safe haven.

When we cry out to God in humility . . . .

When we acknowledge in our hearts how desperately we need Him . . . 

He meets us in our place of need. 

Let’s not become like the people of Jeremiah’s time who went into captivity before seeing how much God loved them. How much they needed Him.

Let’s be the people who nurture relationship with our Father on a daily basis—seeking Him, hearing His words, and obeying them.

What about you? When have you been in a place of need and seen God’s provision? How do you nurture your relationship with God and others?

Click to Tweet: No nurturing—no time spent together—equals drying distance between hearts.

Today I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth

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God's Love, Identity, Perspective

Beauty: When the World Has Its Say

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Watching children grow up is both sweet and bittersweet. On the first day of junior high, as Edmund and I stood in line to check in, I watched former sixth grade girls—fellow classmates of my son—step into the line.

Many of them wore makeup, covering their natural beauty, their natural features. Brushing color onto their cheeks and nuancing their eyes to look more grown up, to appear more beautiful.

Continue reading “Beauty: When the World Has Its Say”

Faith, God's Love, Hope

Love: The Power of Three Words

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

“You are loved”

The man stood at the roundabout as we headed into the school, holding a sign with these three words.

One boy’s first comment was, “Oh no. What happened now? They always have those signs out after something bad’s happened.”

Continue reading “Love: The Power of Three Words”

Easter, God's Love, Hope

Hope: What’s Your Version of Hope?

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

“A violent hope broke through and shook the ground . . .” (from “For the Cross,” by Bethel Music)

We sang a new-to-me song during our church service this past Sunday.

There was this one line that challenged me to re-think my version of hope.

I never thought about hope being violent.

This word has always struck me as a gentle thing, like a quiet rain falling or a pastel sunrise.

Continue reading “Hope: What’s Your Version of Hope?”

Christmas, God's Love, Uncategorized

Christmas: The Greater Gift

christmas-cross-1

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I think this is one of my favorite images of Christmas. We celebrate the amazing gift of Jesus in the manger. But the even greater gift came as Jesus offered Himself in our place on the cross. What kind of love is this?

It’s the kind of love that leaves me humbled and feeling small. And yet, knowing I’m loved with that kind of passion fills me with a deep-down joy. As Christmas draws nearer, I am taking a break to spend time with my family.

Know that you, my readers, are a great gift to me as well. I thank God for you. May your Christmas be one that holds much joy, leaves you with treasured memories, and confirms that truth that you are greatly loved by our heavenly Father.

I’ll see you back here on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 (can you believe it?!).

Merry Christmas!

God's Love, Identity, Intentional Living, Uncategorized

Humility: Choosing to Live Real

Wearing masks

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I suspect I’m not the only one who’s done it.

Who’s donned a mask for one reason or another.

Sometimes I’ve done it to impress others.

More often though, I’ve placed that mask over the real me because it felt safer to have people look at the image they thought was me than the picture of the actual me. Living as the real me was too dangerous.

Continue reading “Humility: Choosing to Live Real”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Infertility

Morning: When We Need Light

Autumn sunrise 2 copy

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

MORNING

Walking through our season of infertility felt like stumbling through a long night.

The despair I sometimes grappled with, the questions of if we would ever become parents.

The darkness of focusing on self rather than God took me to some scary places.

When He showed me that having a child had become my idol? Oh, that hurt. But that was also the first crack of dawn in the darkness of my soul. Whenever God shows us that our hearts are set on something else, it hurts.

Sometimes we need the hard words of His truth to help us return to His light. When we focus on other things, whether it is an unmet desire like mine, or anything else that takes our eyes off of Him, we begin to walk in shadows. If we continue on that path long enough, we wander into full night.

Fog lifting

Sometimes, God allows us to walk in those dark places for a little while. Sometimes it takes walking in darkness before we begin to see our need for Him. When our hearts are hurting, when our minds are confused . . . that’s when we need His light the most.

God is a compassionate God. His lovingkindnesses are new every morning. His compassions never fail. Even when we don’t understand why He’s allowed us into the place where we are, His faithfulness is great.

Sometimes, it takes walking in the dark of night before we can truly see the beauty of His morning light. Before we can experience those loving kindnesses He gives us each morning and through each day.

When He opened my eyes to see the idol I had made of motherhood, I could see the darkness I’d placed myself in. Then, I could choose to walk in His light. We can each do this, every day, when necessary. We can choose to walk in His light, rather than darkness.

Lam 3-22-23 copy

I had a hard time focusing for this word, for some reason. There’s so much that comes with morning, but I think the thing I like the best is that His light cracks the dark of night, instilling us with His hope, and giving us the courage to walk forward with Him.

What about you? How have you seen God shine His light in the middle of your darkness? What helps you to walk in His light?

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

God, God's Love, Perspective

Broken: When Broken Is Beautiful

Broken leaves

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I had just walked in the door after dropping kids off at school. I was so ready for a quiet morning, time spent with Jesus, and getting a couple things done before heading into the busy-ness of the day.

I’m a candle-girl. I love the peace a flickering flame and a pretty scent add to my home. I grabbed a jar candle by the lid from the pantry, and stared in horror as the thing dropped to the floor, shattering the top portion of the jar of my brand. new. candle.

Continue reading “Broken: When Broken Is Beautiful”

Family Relationships, Mothering

Interruptions: Hidden Opportunities

Big foot little foot

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I’m seeing a pattern with one of our sons. He summons my attention, usually with just a grunt or some cute little sound. Without fail, it’s when I’m in the middle of a thought, or having a quiet time, or I’m trying to write something down before I forget it.

I’ll be having my quiet time, and from my doorway I hear, “Mama!” Or a grunt. Honestly? Too often, my first response is a heavy sigh. I turn, because it’s expected, and make eye contact with the boy.

Continue reading “Interruptions: Hidden Opportunities”

Forgiveness, God, Love, Mothering, Relationship

Love: Undeserved Love

Low Storm Clouds

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

His storm rolled in on the heels of a decision I made that he didn’t like. These storms he goes through always lead to dark places for this boy. First, he got mouthy. After ignoring a warning to take a step away from the situation, he went in for the attack, his words aiming to wound.

Continue reading “Love: Undeserved Love”