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.

Lies: Hiding Behind Lies

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

For decades I believed a lie.

And though I’ve talked about it here before, I’m just now seeing how much I hid behind that lie. The lie that I am not enough. That I am less-than. That rejection defined me as a Loser with a capital L.

As I became friends with people, I waited for them to confirm that lie. For them to prove to me in some way that I was really and truly less than.

Looking back now, it’s amazing how easy it was to perceive actions in ways that was inaccurate. I saw everything through that lens of rejection.

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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!

Words: Words of Life

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is the final post of my five week series on the power of words. We have all been impacted by the words of another. Some words have imbued us with confidence, while others have deflated us. We are created to be communicators. So, when there are words, how do we use them well? 

Let’s explore this over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll join me and add your thoughts to the conversation! If you want to read previous posts, click: When There Are Words.

 

Words have power.

I still remember the day. I was sitting in the teacher’s lunchroom, taking my break when they walked in.

Two teachers who were besties. They sat in such a way that one wouldn’t have to look at me. And then they proceeded to whisper and shoot furtive glances my way.

Talk about uncomfortable.

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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?

Words: The Power of Love-Giving Words

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is part four of a five week series on the power of words. We have all been impacted by the words of another. Some words have imbued us with confidence, while others have deflated us. We are created to be communicators. So, when there are words, how do we use them well? 

Let’s explore this over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll join me and add your thoughts to the conversation! If you want to read previous posts, click: When There Are Words.

 

“There is nothing you can do that will make me stop loving you.”

I’ve said these words to our boys since before they could talk. And it turns out, these are words they’ve needed to hear.

When they’ve done things right,

When they’ve gotten things terribly wrong,

When they have let a big, scary anger rule their words and actions,

That’s when they’ve needed these words most.

As boys who are cherished by two sets of parents,

As boys who are trying to figure out who in the world they are in the big picture of things.

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Words: After We Make Poor Choices

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is part three of a five week series on the power of words. We have all been impacted by the words of another. Some words have imbued us with confidence, while others have deflated us. We are created to be communicators. So, when there are words, how do we use them well? 

Let’s explore this over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll join me and add your thoughts to the conversation! If you want to read previous posts, click: When There Are Words.

 

It all began with a phone call.

As soon as the school’s number showed on my Caller ID, I knew my day was about to change. I just had no idea how drastically.

When the words, “Kicked in the head a couple times.” “Dizzy” and “Blurry vision” came into the conversation, my mama’s heart began to worry for this son of mine.

After hearing the details and asking some questions, I decided that, yes, the boy needed to come home to rest and be watched.

 

When I neared the school, I made a couple of decisions that . . . weren’t the wisest. And I quickly gained the eye of a police officer. I had misread a situation.

And she misread me.

I wanted to be angry. Only I knew she had a difficult job.

I wanted to defend myself, only I knew that nothing could change the choices I’d made.

And though I knew my choices were for the sake of my boy, she saw a different picture. Because she had information I wasn’t privy to.

She made judgments, and I clamped my mouth shut. Because every now and then, silence truly is the best answer.

Sometimes a humble apology is the better way.

After she explained what I’d done wrong and what she thought she saw in my actions, I said I was sorry. And I was.

There are times when we get things wrong. We make decisions that seem right, but for some reason, they aren’t. We make choices because they are for another person’s good. But the way we go about fulfilling them violates something.

 

When we’ve messed up and the stakes are high, we need to be quiet. Sometimes, there are no words that can make things right. And there are especially no words that can make our choice—as noble as it may be—look shiny and good.

We need to acknowledge this.

Sometimes humility is a difficult choice because our emotions get wrapped up in the circumstances.

One thing I learned through this experience is that I mustn’t allow my emotions to dictate a situation.

I know this when I’m dealing with an officer of the law. And I (for the most part) have the self-control to keep my mouth shut.

But what about with those who are close to me? Those who don’t have the authority to issue a ticket for words spoken?

 

There will be times when I blow it with my husband, my kids, my friends. I’m going to make decisions that, in the moment, seem right, justifiable. But the big picture ramifications are broader than I can see.

When someone nicely—or not—points this out to me, what will my reaction be?

Am I going to defend myself? Try to make them understand why I chose the way I did?

Or, am I going to receive the rebuke, the correction?

Honestly? I’m not good at receiving correction in the moment. I need time to process it, ponder it, pray over it.

And sometimes, even then, I may not agree with it. The way I respond to a person can make or ruin a relationship.

 

With my family and friends, I want to choose love. It’s okay to disagree with another. How we do it will determine a number of things.

How safe we are to those people.

Our response tells the other person a lot. And they will make decisions about future interactions with us based on how we receive and respond to rebuke.

When we are teachable—humble—relationships are strengthened because the other person sees depth in us.

When we defend ourselves, we tell that person we’re placing ourselves—our importance—above them.

 

Choosing humility is hard. But, this is also a response that is pleasing in our Father’s sight.

Do we want to be right . . . or right with God?

What about you? When have you chosen humility in a situation? How do you handle valid rebukes?

Click to Tweet: When we’re humble, relationships are strengthened

Words: What We Say About Ourselves

 

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

This is part two of a five week series on the power of words. We have all been impacted by the words of another. Some words have imbued us with confidence, while others have deflated us. We are created to be communicators. So, when there are words, how do we use them well? 

Let’s explore this over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll join me and add your thoughts to the conversation! If you want to read previous posts, click: When There Are Words.

 

“I’m an idiot.” The boy says of himself. Far too often for my liking. He holds himself to such a high standard no person could possibly achieve it, much less maintain it. It’s a standard of perfection. No mistakes allowed.

In his mind, to fail even in the smallest way is worthy of calling himself a name.

It about breaks my mama’s heart. Every. Single. Time.

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Words: Speaking Words of Affirmation

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I am beginning a five week series on the power of words. We have all been impacted by the words of another. Some words have imbued us with confidence, while others have deflated us. We are created to be communicators. So, when there are words, how do we use them well? 

Let’s explore this over the next few weeks. I hope you’ll join me and add your thoughts to the conversation!

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My husband knows me well. He knows my love language. He knows what fills me. He knows I love words.

I may have had a significant birthday over the weekend.

Yes, I turned fifty. I realized I can’t call myself a girl anymore. And yes, I have done that on occasion. But, I digress . . .

My husband. He talked to me in April and said, “I have been thinking for the last year about how to celebrate your fiftieth. I thought about a party. What do you think?”

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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