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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Busy-ness, Faith, Mothering, Time With God

Busy: The Surprising Result of Being Too Busy

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Have you ever read a passage in the Bible and though something like, “That’s not me.” Only to have God check you on that?

I recently read Isaiah 32. In the NIV it says this:

“You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to me; you daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say!  . . . Tremble, you complacent women; shudder, you daughters who feel secure! Strip off your fine clothes and wrap yourselves in rags.”

~Isaiah 32:9,11

Continue reading “Busy: The Surprising Result of Being Too Busy”

Chosen and Approved Series, God, People Pleasing, Series

Chosen and Approved: Lessons from David for the People-Pleasers (Like Me)

chosen

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Welcome to part three of our six-post series, Chosen and Approved: Untangling Our Identities from People and Perfection, with Emily Conrad, Mary Geisen and me.

This week, Emily shares all about King David . . . and his failings . . . and how God called him a man after His heart. How did David manage that?

When I read this:

The people-pleaser in me would have a hard time praying the same prayer as David. That part of me would demand I focus more energy on rectifying the situation with people than with God.

I nodded my head at the idea that I needed to focus my energy on rectifying situations with people before I did so with God.

How off-base I have been at times, because I was so afraid to offend people. God forgives, right? But people? Not always.

So, of course, I needed to make sure I fixed any offenses I’d caused.

God does forgive. And He invites us into relationship with Him. He tells us to set Him above anyone and anything else. This isn’t as easy for me as it should be. And those people-pleasing mindsets I’ve held to for years die hard.

In her post, Emily shares some great insight into the mindset of a God-pleaser. I hope you’ll read and glean as much as I have.

Join me over at Emily’s place and see what David did that helped him to be called a man after God’s heart.

If you’ve missed either of the first two posts in this series, you can read them at this link.

Today, I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and Kelly Balaraie’s #RaRaLinkUp.

Dependence, Relationship, Trusting God, Uncategorized

Test: God Is With Us

Test

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Why does God test us?

As I was reading Judges 3, I made it to the second verse before the Lord stopped me.

“These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wards in Canaan 2 (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience):…” (NIV)

And it goes on to list the nations.

The first time I read this, I thought about the Lord testing the Israelites, as in—did He want them to fail? What was He testing? Their abilities?

Continue reading “Test: God Is With Us”

God's Love, Identity, Relationship

Chosen: Believing God Loves Us

Beach stones at sunset

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

You are chosen.

Have you ever felt like the left-overs? Like people hang out with you because, well, there’s no one better to hang with so, you’ll do in a pinch?

As I shared last week, I dealt with rejection . . . heck, I am still learning to live beyond the lies rejection told me for the last number of decades.

Those lies we hear and accept as children sometimes take a lifetime to erase.

Continue reading “Chosen: Believing God Loves Us”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Grace

Surprise: Surprised By Grace

Butterfly on flowers

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—SURPRISE. 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!

SURPRISE

For years I lived with the false belief that I needed to do things on my own. People would disappoint me. I got that.

What I didn’t understand was that this truth isn’t always . . . true. I’ve been surprised by grace from people so many times, especially in the past few years.

As I have learned how to share parts of myself with safe people, I’ve been surprised by their grace and acceptance. People who have circled around me after a surgery. Or a disappointment.

And even more, I’ve been blessed by God’s showing up in those painful moments of life—whether its a mama-fail or a disappointment with writing-life, or an argument with my hubby and best friend, in which I knew I was wrong.

Grace.

Grace has been the surprise gift given when I least deserved it. When I didn’t know that I needed it. Until I blew it, that is.

God’s been the best at surprising me. As He proves I’m stuck with Him. I’m His girl, His child. And there’s nothing I can do that will cause God to turn away from me. To stop loving me. This is true for all of us.

Nothing I can do

When I was younger, I lived with the mistaken belief that I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t deserve acceptance by others. I didn’t deserve the love that others received.

But God.

He doesn’t operate on man’s belief systems. He loves unconditionally, and He teaches His children to do the same.

When others have reached out to me in love, they’ve taught me what it looks like to offer the surprise of grace to another after they’ve hurt or let me down.

Red tulips

We get to offer the grace surprise when we want to. And when we don’t.

When we offer others the gift of grace, God has a way of blessing us in surprising ways. Of letting us know His pleasure as we emulate Jesus.

What about you? When have you offered grace when it was hard? WHat’s been one big grace God has offered you?

I’m linking up with Kate Moutaung’s Five Minute Friday—Surprise

Five Minute Friday scribblings, God

Rise: When Tides Rise

Tide rising

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—RISE. 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!

RISE

I was determined.

We’d been in San Diego for four days, and I had yet to get even one beautiful sunset picture. We were only a mile from the beach!

So, after enjoying a day of activity with my family, I told my husband the sunset was calling. I took my own little adventure that evening. I drove toward where I thought I could get to the sand. Looked for a place to park. Figured out how to get down to the beach.

Cliffs

I walked a narrow, uneven path that ended at a rock. The sand was a good six feet jump below. I hurled my 40-something self and landed on my backside. But I was on the beach! Camera intact. I had seen what looked like a good place for photos a ways up the beach, and I snapped pictures as I walked in that direction.

God’s beauty never ceases to stop me in awe. The sun setting. Reflecting on the sand. Rocks adding dimension to each glimpse of glory He showed me.

Beach stones at sunset

But the waves . . . they were rising.

I walked a little further, in my trekking sandals, exhilarated at the spontaneity of this endeavor.

Those waves began pushing me against the cliffs, and I realized I had a choice to make. I could try and dash for the desired spot and hope I made it. Or, I could turn back and hope I could climb that six-foot rock to safety before the waves rose too high.

Boulder to sand

Life is like those waves sometimes. We set out ready to do those things impressed upon our hearts. We walk forth and love the feeling of freedom. But the waves . . . sometimes they rise, and we’re forced to make a choice. Go forward or go back.

When life’s cliffs hem us in, there’s really no way to stay put and wait out the rising tide.

I’m learning that God forces us to choose sometimes. We have to rely on Him for guidance and move in faith in one direction or the other.

Sunset over Pacific

Faith is like that. We don’t stay put. We’re either moving toward God or away from Him.

What about you? When have you set out on an adventure and been forced to go back or change direction? What’s been an unexpected adventure you’ve undertaken?

*****

Those five minutes passed waaaay too fast tonight! I had more on my mind, but the timer went off, so please forgive the abrupt end of the post. Thanks for stopping by!

Visit Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday site—Rise

Five Minute Friday scribblings, God, Relationship, Uncategorized

Hide: Where Do You Hide?

Sea Animal hiding

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—HIDE. 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!

HIDE

Ever since our boys were little, they’ve loved to play Hide and Seek. When they were small, I’d hear, “Mama, come find me!” Of course, they were hidden from themselves, but I saw them clearly, as a foot stuck out from under a lumpy blanket.

Now that they’re older, they still like to hide from me. Tonight, one boy hid behind his bathroom door. I walked into his bathroom to fill his humidifier, and there was no Peter. But, I heard his breathing. And I saw his reflection in the mirror. At twelve, he thought the reflection gave him away.

It was what I heard first that clued me in to: 1) he was hiding, and 2) where he was. Maybe I have good hearing. Or maybe I have come to know this dear boy of mine and his penchant for “surprising” unsuspecting family members.

It got me thinking. How many times have I tried to hide from God? As if we could. Our God who sees through the darkness as if it’s light.

Psalm 13912 darkness and light alike copy

When I’ve failed . . .

When I’ve hurt another . . .

When I don’t think I can face my perfect Father . . . I hide.

I hide from Him in activities or in busy-ness. Or in tears.

No matter where I’m hiding, He hears my heart’s cry first. The yearning for acceptance from Him. The reassurance that it’s okay.

We make mistakes. We can know His grace. And we can move out of hiding and into deeper intimacy with Him.

Flower amid rock

What if, instead of hiding from Him, I hid in Him? What if I opened His word, or sang a worship song? It’s hard to worship when I’m busy condemning myself. But if I can remember there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, it might just be easier to hide in Him, rather than hiding from Him.

What about you? Do you have any favorite Hide and Seek memories from childhood? When have you hidden and been surprised with grace?

Vist Kate Motaung at her site Five Minute Friday: Hide

Dependence, God, Identity, Life, Rejection

Scars: How They Shape Us

Heart with cracks copy

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We all have them. I still wear scars from the time I tripped while running up cement steps. One step tore a piece of my shin skin away. Or the one on my right hand from where I was practicing my starts for a backstroke race and the back of my hand met the bottom of the pool. They’re small visible reminders of past pains . . . and lessons learned.

They bled, scabbed, and healed over. Skin slightly warbled, but still good for go into every day life.

Continue reading “Scars: How They Shape Us”

God, Marriage, Priorities

Priorities: What’s Most Important?

hands wedding photo 001 copy

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

What am I married to?

I mean, yeah, I’m very happily  married to my husband of nineteen years. No regrets there.

But, if an outsider were to peek in on my daily living, what might they see as my groom? What do I devote time, attention and emotion to?

Is it busy-ness? That hurry-up, hectic pace that kids and family schedules keep me on?

Continue reading “Priorities: What’s Most Important?”