Love: 14 Ways to Keep Your Love Strong

couple-sunset-beach-walk

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

From the time I became aware of what Valentine’s Day represented, I struggled with it. Who could struggle with true love, right?

Except, I wasn’t one of the girls who received Candy-grams in junior high. I wasn’t one of the girls who ever—ever—had a date to the Valentine’s dance. In my mind, I wasn’t pretty enough, or popular enough, or anything enough.

Continue reading

Life Lesson: Making an Effort—Guest Post by Jill Kemerer and a Giveaway!

J Kemerer Making an effort quote

I first met Jill Kemerer over at the Books and Such blog. When I was ready to brave beginning my own blog, Jill stepped up to answer my every last question (with much patience, I might add!). We’ve since met in person, and she has become a special friend. I’m so excited to host her here today for the final installment in my series about Life Lessons. (You can read parts one, two, three, and four here). Read to the end and learn about her latest book and a giveaway.

Please welcome Jill!

~~~~~

What life lesson has changed you the most?

When Jeanne posed this question to me, I had no idea it would be so hard to answer. Unfortunately, I’ve learned a lot of life lessons! I am NOT perfect.

But looking back, I think the one thing I learned that changed me the most was to make an effort with strangers and acquaintances. I’ve always been introverted yet oddly social. As a kid, I loved making my friends and family laugh, but I felt awkward around people I didn’t know.

For some reason, I always had this feeling that I didn’t have anything to offer, like why would they want to talk to me? Silly, huh!

My dog’s nose peeking out from the blanket reminds me of how I used to feel. Introverts often don’t enjoy crowds.

My dog’s nose peeking out from the blanket reminds me of how I used to feel. Introverts often don’t enjoy crowds.

As I entered my teen years, I made friends naturally, but I heard the following a few times, “When I first met you I thought you were stuck up, but you’re not like that at all.”

My first reaction? Gee, thanks. But I took their words to heart. I realized I had a different view of myself than others did. By allowing shyness to prevent me from making an effort, I was unknowingly giving the impression I was arrogant.

This is my husband and I on a recent vacation. A smile conveys so much. If I’m too tired or drained to speak to someone, I at least smile!

This is my husband and I on a recent vacation. A smile conveys so much. If I’m too tired or drained to speak to someone, I at least smile!

I began talking to people I would have been too intimidated to speak to previously. I’m not going to lie. It felt uncomfortable. Sometimes they weren’t friendly. Other times they were wonderful. But I realized how they reacted wasn’t the point. If someone didn’t like me, no big deal. At least I tried.

I’m glad I learned that lesson early, because my entire adult life has involved relocating every few years. Starting over in a strange town would have been much more isolating and difficult if I had never learned this lesson. When my kids were young, I joined playgroups. Often there were clusters of other moms who knew each other from way back when. I forced myself to talk to them. Sometimes it took three or four different tries before they were receptive. In other towns, I was blessed to connect with a kind soul right away.

I also learned not to jump to conclusions about people. If I’m at one of my kids’ practices and a mom I don’t know is sitting off by herself, I don’t assume she’s stuck up or antisocial. It might mean she’s uncomfortable or lonely. It could mean she had a bad day or had a bad experience with some of the parents. Maybe she’s nervous about her kid’s performance. Who knows? It’s none of my business. What is my business is to introduce myself and make her feel welcome.

Now when I’m at a writer’s conference or a dinner with strangers, I do my best to be friendly and welcoming to anyone I meet. And you know what? I think this was the real me all along. It feels good to brighten someone’s day. So many people feel lonely at big events. I’m glad God is using me to encourage others.

Thank you so much, Jeanne, for hosting me today.

Have you ever felt shy and self-conscious around strangers? If so, how do you work through this?

Jill’s newest book is releasing TODAY! She’s hosting a giveaway that begins at 6:00 a.m. on August 31st and ends at 9:00 p.m. September 5th. This contest is open to US residents.Read about her book and enter by pressing on “Entry Form” below to earn entries.  

Unexpected Family SmallUNEXPECTED FAMILY

His Surprise Daughter

After five years apart, Tom Sheffield is shocked to find his ex-wife, Stephanie, on his doorstep. The news that they share a child he’s never met sends him reeling. Four-year-old Macy has his eyes, his mouth and, from their first encounter, his heart. Things with her mother are much more complicated. He doesn’t understand what went wrong between them or why she kept their daughter a secret. And he’s afraid of falling in love all over again. Yet he feels a glimmer of hope that somehow he can convince Macy and Stephanie to stay in Lake Endwell—and with him—for keeps.

Unexpected Family purchase links: http://jillkemerer.com/books/unexpected-family/

~~~~~

About Jill

Jill-Kemerer-Blue-300dpiJill Kemerer writes contemporary romance novels with love, humor and faith. A full time writer, she relies on coffee and chocolate to keep up with her kids’ busy schedules. Besides spoiling her mini-dachshund, Jill adores magazines, M&Ms, fluffy animals and long nature walks. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Jill loves connecting with readers, so please visit her website, jillkemerer.com.

You can also connect with Jill on Facebook and Twitter.

Good Enough: When Good Enough Isn’t

Sun lightened leaves

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

(This is part one of a three part series. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!)

One of the messages on my heart is never settling for good enough. I was single-longing-to-be-married for what felt like going on forever. I watched friends get married. I was invited to eleven—yes, eleven—weddings in one year, and I was a bridesmaid in three of them.

Continue reading

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

Grace: When People Forget

Butterfly on flowers

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Of all the times for the boy to forget to do his asthma-managing breathing treatment  . . .  it was on a day when we were already thirty minutes down the road to an adventure.

On vacation, he’d already neglected to check his inhaler and make sure it still had medicine in it. I had no idea how many days he’d puffed on empty . . . which led to a prolonged asthma flare-up, lots of coughing, and purple-rimmed eyes.

Continue reading

Heart: 4 Tips For Guiding Our Kids’ Hearts

Rock in waves

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We are in a battle.

Our boys are growing older—both in their pre-teen years. Hubby’s and my role as their main influencers is closing. They say children’s characters are mostly formed by the time they are twelve. Twelve! Our oldest is there.

Continue reading

Marriage: 6 Tips For Staying Connected

Ski Slope in morning

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

I sat beside my hubby thirty feet above the ground, a blanket of snow glittering beneath us. As the chairlift moved us upward, I glanced over at the man I’ve shared the last twenty years of my life with. I know him, I love him, but we don’t always have time to connect. When I looked at him, I was convicted by the thought that we hadn’t connected on a soul-level all week.

Yes, there were good reasons, including a three day business trip. But are they good reasons…..really?

Continue reading

Weakness: Act Strong or Ask For Help?

Destin late afternoon

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

“Why is weakness something we fear so strongly?”

I was reading Kara Tippetts’ blog, Mundane Faithfulness last week, and she shared about those days you just work to get through. At the end of her post, she asked some questions, but this one stopped me hard.

Continue reading

Pride: 4 Tips for Maintaining an Accurate Perspective

Peacock strutting

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Have you ever read something in the Bible many times, and this time when you read it, a certain truth smacks you in the face?

I was reading about King Hezekiah in Second Chronicles recently. I noticed a truth that I’d never considered before. When he was under attack from Sennacherib, the dominating king of Assyria, Hezekiah’s relationship with God was solid. He prepared his people, and his city. In humility, he leaned hard on God. He prayed and trusted that God would deliver them.

Continue reading

Dear: Making Sure They Know

Christmas lights and ornaments

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

DEAR

Why is it easier, during the Christmas season, to make sure those I hold most dear to my heart know they have claimed that place?

I buy gifts for them, take time to write personal messages in cards and letters. I look for opportunities to bless them in special ways.

I am purposeful.

Why not be purposeful during the rest of the year? Purposeful in dropping a line via email, or even on social media, to say, “Hey, I was thinking about you today.”?

Why not leave a note in my kids’ lunch box for them to discover sometime during their day? Reminders of my love for them, of what they mean to me?

It’s fine to take time during Christmas to make sure my dear ones know how I feel about them.

Grateful card

Wouldn’t it mean even more to them if on say, June 12, I sent them a note in the mail, of all things? Just to tell them, “I’m thinking about you? You matter to me.”?

I love receiving notes like this. They take me out of the normal of my day and leave me feeling special.

I want those I call dear to know by my actions that they are important to me. I may not have the money to buy them expensive gifts, but I have heartfelt words to share.

I can be intentional in letting them know they matter. To me. To others.

Sometimes it’s in that extra thought that a life is changed, that someone knows they are significant on this big blue earth filled with masses of people.

Even more, what if I was able to share with people just how dear they are to God? The Creator of these masses of people. And how amazing is it that we as individuals are dear to God—each one of us? I can’t quite fathom it.

Mary Manger copy

I guess I’ll have to focus on the way He showed us this: through the birth of his Son. Jesus. Amazing taking on the flesh of humble.

What better way for us to know just how dear we are to our heavenly Father?

What about you? How do you show people they matter to you? What’s one way someone has shown that you are dear to them? 

Visit Kate Motaung’s site for her Five Minute Friday: Dear post and a giveaway she’s doing until midnight tonight.