Authenticity, Five Minute Friday scribblings

Excuse: Why We Use Excuses

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

EXCUSE

“Mom, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to get ice-cream without permission.”

“I have to do this thing in my room (translate: goof off for awhile) before I do my homework.”

“I can’t help this behavior, it’s just the way I am.”

“Sorry, I’m having an off day. Normally, I keep all my appointments, and I’m five minutes early.”

Excuses.

We’ve all used them. I find we tend to fall back on them for various reasons. They cover over an aspect or a shortcoming within us that we don’t want exposed.

We may want to avoid trouble. Or avoid doing something unpleasant.

Or perhaps we’re trying to veneer a shortcoming. Or slip on a mask that make us look better to someone else.

As I thought about excuses, I realized that most of the reasons we use them is to cover or hide something that we consider inadequate about ourselves.

We don’t always want to own our mistakes. We’d rather hide them and justify why we did (or didn’t) do something.

Using excuses often reveals our struggle with insecurity. We don’t want people to see the real us. We are afraid people will find us lacking in some way.

Or am I the only one who deals with that?

When we try to justify something we did and make it sound okay?

The “I’m sorry I’m late. I’m usually five minutes early.”

We want to make ourselves look good to someone else.

The thing is? God knows our hearts. He knows the areas in our hearts where we’re afraid we fall short in the eyes of others.

God’s not asking us to wear a facade in front of those around us. He wants us to be authentic.

When we own our mistakes to others, we open the door to vulnerability.

When we admit our desire to get out of something, our real-ness provides a safe place for others to admit when they have felt or done something similar.

And, when we own the fact that we are less than perfect? Wow. That is a powerful testimony to others. Because it’s only when we’re willing to strip away the excuses and let God shine through the cracks in our lives that we can truly reflect Him to those around us.

What about you? How do you choose authenticity over excuses? What’s the funniest excuse you’ve ever heard (or used)?

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Excuse.

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Expectations, Gratitude

Gratitude: When There Are Expectations

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

These weeks leading up to Thanksgiving (for those of us in the United States) are a great time to consider gratitude. In these shorter posts, let’s explore some different quotes about gratitude and see how we can prepare our hearts for the coming holiday season.

~~~~~

“Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly.” ~Tony Robbins, Author

God has been talking with me about expectations. Honestly? He’s been talking to me for years, but it’s only as I age that I see the impact that holding tightly to expectations has on my heart.

Continue reading “Gratitude: When There Are Expectations”

Choices: What Will We Choose series, Discouragement, Hope, Trusting God

Choices (series): Where We Place Our Hope

+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. This is the last of a 5-part series on choices (Read other posts here). I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what helps you make wise choices.

~~~~~

This writing journey leads us on rough paths. Upon rock-strewn trails that trip us up and flatten us to the ground. Those tree roots of rejection stick out above the ground and cause us to stumble in our belief that we are truly called to write.

How many times in our lives have we struggled with hope?

Continue reading “Choices (series): Where We Place Our Hope”

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

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trials

Overcome: When Trials Come

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

OVERCOME

God never promised this life would be easy. We all face trials. They can refine us, renew us. They often show us how much we need Jesus.

I have this nasty habit of trying to get through trials in my own strength. I plow through the days, trying to break down the barriers, and get back to my version of normal.

The thing is, God doesn’t allow trials into our lives so that we can navigate them in our own strength. Sure, there are times when we can handle them. And be done with them.

But, how many times have we faced that trial that’s as high as a mountain and as intimidating as a grizzly bear breathing down our backs?

God wants us to walk through those seasons of life with Him. Not in front of or behind Him. He wants us to let Him help us.

When those hard times show up in our lives—and we all face them—He wants us to overcome. The only way we can, though, is by acknowledging how desperately we need God’s help. Our God is greater than anything we’ll face in our lives.

But, if we face those hard times alone, in our own “strength?” We’ll be mown over, sooner or later.

God sometimes waits for us to invite Him into the hard. Sometimes, He withholds the overcoming until we’ve endured the fire that removes dross so we reflect Him more clearly. 

And this almost always comes through having the humility to ask God to walk alongside us. To ask Him to be our barrier-breaker. To be the One who gives us strength. 

Sometimes, God’s just waiting for us to acknowledge we can’t do “it,” whatever “it” is on our own. Whether it’s pursuing a calling, working toward a dream . . .

Whether it’s facing a scary diagnosis, a job loss, the death of a loved one . . .

He wants to see us victorious, and He wants us to trust Him to walk with us on the journey.

Whatever we are facing, we will overcome with God’s help.

I love Joshua 1:9—

He commands us to be strong and courageous. He tells us not to be afraid or discouraged, but there’s only one reason we can own and live out this command . . . and it’s because He is with us wherever we go.

What about you? When have you sensed God’s presence with you in a trial? When have you seen Him overcome a situation in your life?

Click to Tweet: Knowing how to walk through trials makes all the difference

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Overcome

Choices: What Will We Choose series, Fear, Mothering, Trusting God

Choices (series): When We Want Freedom

+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.

~~~~~

Sometimes we have to choose to risk and change if we want something different for our lives.

As I watch my boy-men move toward manhood, I’m a witness to their struggle. They yearn to stay in the safety being a child offers. There’s certainly less responsibility for children than for teens and adults.

But, there are also fewer freedoms. And anyone who’s raised teens knows those years are all about claiming freedom.

Continue reading “Choices (series): When We Want Freedom”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Mothering, Relationship

Discover: When They Talk

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

DISCOVER

His eyes had held the look all night. That expression saying something was on his mind, but he wasn’t sure if he should talk about it. Maybe all teens wear that expression. I know mine do.

Whenever I’m invited into the inner sanctum (a.k.a. his room), I try to say yes. That night, he asked me to walk to his room with him before he went to bed. What followed was an amazing conversation of questions, reassurances, honest sharing. I closed his door over an hour later, my heart full.

I’ve prayed for years that during these most trying years we would still connect with our sons. 

But friends.

Friends are so important to both of our boys.

Hanging out.

Being accepted by their peers. All of these things often seem to take priority in our boys’ hearts.

That night, though, I discovered something. My boys? They still want me in their inner circle.

I think this is true with most—if not all—teens, even when they seem to push us away.

No, we don’t talk as much as we used to. But the beauty is, when I take time to just listen as they express their fears, their thoughts, their joys, their secret desires? 

That’s a gift.

 

Nothing can replace knowing that they will share their confidences with me.

I know I’m just their mom. But, . . . I’m their mom.

Our boys don’t want to push us into the backseat on their life-car-ride. Well, not always anyway. They want us riding in the front seat with them. They don’t always want to hear our words, but they want our companionship. To be told we love them.

No matter what.

They want to know that we will always accept them. Be in their corner. 

And we will.

The discovering comes when we are intentional and take time to listen. Not always to give them advice (and man, is this on hard sometimes!)

Often, they just want to know they are being heard.

I’m discovering the beauty God’s planted in each of them as I listen to their words.

So, the next time one of our boys invites me into his room? I’ll say yes. In a heartbeat. There’s nothing so precious as being a part of their inner circle.

What about you? What encourages you to invite someone into your inner circle? How do you foster relationship with those around you that goes below skin-deep?

Click to Tweet: We can learn the most interesting things 

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Discover

Choices: What Will We Choose series, Trusting God

Choices (series): When Culture and God Collide

+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.

~~~~~

I don’t envy the prophet Jeremiah. At all.

He prophesied in a time when people didn’t want to hear his words. He was obedient to speak all that God gave him. And his was an unpopular message.

In Jeremiah 27, God gave Jeremiah a message for the new King Zedekiah. Words that grated against everything their culture believed. The culture told Zedekiah (and Judah’s inhabitants) that this land was theirs. They were to remain at any cost.

But Nebuchadnezzar.

Continue reading “Choices (series): When Culture and God Collide”

Choices, Choices: What Will We Choose series, Humility, Series

Choices (series): When There Are No Easy Choices

+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. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what helps you make wise choices.

~~~~~

I never intended to do it.

I never set out to talk smack about another person. And yet, there I sat, having dinner with a friend. She had begun working for a person I used to work for.

All I wanted to do was help my friend have a mindset that would help her work well with her boss.

And somewhere in the conversations (and I hang my head here), the talk sidled into gossip. As the Holy Spirit began to convict me, I tried to justify my words.

To explain to Him I was only sharing in order to help my friend.

Continue reading “Choices (series): When There Are No Easy Choices”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Hope

Story: Each Story is Unique

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

STORY

We’re each living a unique story. We have our individual experiences Joys. Sorrow. Obstacles. Overcoming.

No two people live an identical life. No two people have the exact same purpose while walking this earth.

Or, maybe we have the same purposes, but God has created us in such a way that only we can influence the people in our sphere.

God has created each of us to minister to those He’s placed in our lives. I can’t replace you in your world and minister as effectively. Nor can you replace me.

God brings beauty into each story.

Walking through infertility shaped me in a way that I can speak into the pain of waiting and of idolatry from the things He taught me.

You have walked through certain kinds of hard that equipped you to be a unique voice in the lives of others.

Though there may be shame in parts of our story, we should not be ashamed of those times. God redeems our shame. He uses those aspects of our story to speak life and truth into people.

Our stories are crafted by our Father. Shaped by His hand. Yes, most of us have gone our own way at times, But God still redeems.

God hasn’t called us to live our stories in shame. He’s called us to live for Him, allowing Him to continue to rewrite our pasts, to counter our lies with His truth.

He still writes His truth on our hearts and over our lives. God writes His love into the fabric of our lives.

He’s giving us opportunities to share our stories with others so that they too can learn what His love is first hand.

When we share the “pretty” and the “ugly” of our stories with others, they find hope. Because they see that God is the One who heals the broken-hearted,

who sings over them with love,

who rewrites the ugliness of their pasts and transforms their presents into beauty.

What about you? What words has God written over your life? How have you seen His hand redeeming your story? 

Click to Tweet: God writes His truth on our hearts and over our lives

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Story