Choosing Gratitude series, Gratitude, Guest Posts

Choosing Gratitude (series): The Choice of Saying Yes

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

When I come to November in a year, something happens in my spirit. I’m ready to cozy down into warm sweaters and soft blankets. I love scented candles burning and soups simmering on the stovetop. It’s a time to slow  down and reflect over the year. When my spirit is in a good place, my heart finds much to be grateful for. One thing that fills me with gratitude is the gift of friends—real life and blogging friends. 

For the next few weeks, I have invited five friends I respect deeply to share stories and thoughts on gratitude in their lives. I hope you will join with me for all five weeks and share your responses to their words. If you miss a week, you can click Choosing Gratitude series to catch up with the other posts in this series. Will you settle in with me, with a mug of something warm in your hands and think on those things and happenings in the year for which you are grateful? 

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I met Lisa Jordan early in my writing journey. She has great wisdom and an encouraging spirit. She’s been my cheerleader, the one who listens when I’m grappling with something in my story. And she has a heart for people. She’s a multi-published author with Love Inspired, and her stories have depth and wonderful characters. Please help me welcome Lisa to this little corner of the blog-o-sphere today!

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Everyday we are faced with making choices. Wake up or hit snooze. Eggs or oatmeal. Coffee or tea. Love or hate. Grace or judgment.

What about the choice of saying yes? Especially if it means experiencing pain and overcoming challenges? Choosing to say yes can come at a time when we are at our weakest and crying out to God.

Continue reading “Choosing Gratitude (series): The Choice of Saying Yes”

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Control, Mothering, Trusting God

Trust: Managing or Living Each Day

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I’ve said it a lot over the past few months . . . this summer was a hard one for our family. Between poor choices made, Hubs traveling, and life happening, I’m weary.

When Hubs travels, I find myself slipping into manage-mode. Getting the boys where they need to be when they need to be there. Tamping down my own emotions to help them deal with theirs . . . and to keep the home environment at least somewhat calm. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful my hubs has a good job that he enjoys. But, my mindset shifts when he’s gone.

Continue reading “Trust: Managing or Living Each Day”

Faith, Fear, Trials

Storms: When We Are Afraid

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Have I mentioned I’m not a fan of tornadoes? They scare me. They always have. From the time I rode in a car as a girl following a huge storm to hearing alerts recently? Yep. They strike that cord of fear in my heart. 

Clouds had filled and then darkened the sky for the past few hours one recent day. I had taken one of the boys to a doctor’s appointment. While there, my phone signaled that we were under a severe thunderstorm warning.

I live in Colorado. 

This is not uncommon.

Continue reading “Storms: When We Are Afraid”

Expectations, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Stuck: When We’re Stuck

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

STUCK

I was happy for her. Really, I was. When the latest friend eagerly told me of her pregnancy, I tried on a smile for her. I was thrilled for her. But that hole—the unmet desire in me—filled with a bit of sadness. When would it be my turn? 

When a friend who has been writing for less time than me announced her first book contract, I was happy for her. I rejoiced with her. But on the inside? I hurt a little too. 

Why was God choosing to let me stay stuck in the same place while others moved on to their next chapters? 

There can be such a dichotomy of emotion—of thoughts—when someone moves on and we stay where we’ve been for what seems like going on forever. 

I’m coming to see that what I called “Stuck” God called “Opportunity.” What I saw as being held back, He saw as refining.

God has lessons for each of us to learn in our stuck places. 

The question is, are we willing to look beyond what we want and what others have . . . can we have eyes that see past our perceived holding pattern to the Lord? 

When we see others getting what we thought we would also have—or what we want—it can be so hard. Jealousy moves in. Discontent. Dissatisfaction.

Stuck places stir up all the ugliness that God wants to scrape away in the refining process. 

We must come to the place where we acknowledge the envy, the ugly in ourselves, and bring it to the Lord. 

When we look beyond our stuck place and fix our gaze onto the Father? That’s when we can trust His plan and His timing for our lives. We can relinquish those things we think we need and realize the main thing keeping us stuck is our own expectations. 

When we can gaze beyond these and into the Father’s face? That’s when we begin to live beyond the stuck place and in the freedom of trusting Him. 

What about you? When have you felt stuck in your life? What helps you keep an accurate perspective when you feel stuck?

Click to Tweet: There can be such a dichotomy of emotion—of thoughts—when someone moves on and we stay where we’ve been

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Stuck

Community, Relationship, Trusting God

Community: When Community Scares Us

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I believe we women (and perhaps men too?) have a deep desire to be known, accepted. And just as deep is a fear of not being accepted. 

Most of my life, I’ve waited to be invited into community. As a girl in elementary school, sharp words slashed across my heart, ripping open the skin of who I thought I was. 

I entered school thinking I was enough. I was a nice girl, a girl others would want to befriend.

Continue reading “Community: When Community Scares Us”

Control, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trusting God

Turn: Trusting God’s Timing

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

TURN

A couple of months ago, I was rounding a clover leaf turn to enter the highway. I may have been taking it a little bit fast, but I’d done it at this speed many times before. 

All of a sudden, it was like the wheels were slipping . . . I braked and the vehicle began sliding toward the other side of the road, and moving toward tipping over the edge. 

I sent out one of those arrow prayers . . . and navigated as carefully as I could with no sudden movements of the steering wheel. I (being a vain thing) wondered what the driver behind me was thinking. 

Seriously though, every time I take that turn now? I am driving below the speed limit.

As I considered tonight’s word, I realized there are other life curves I take too fast. And when I do that, I begin to slip across the road and onto the edge. I don’t want to tip over. 

I push against God’s timing for my writing journey. I want my boys to be more mature than they actually are. 

They are boys, after all. TEEN boys.

I want things to happen at a certain speed. 

Basically? I want control. 

When I try to speed up God’s timing, I always end up disappointed. Sometimes I end up hurt as I drive myself off the turn lane and into the ditch.

I’m learning I need to be still before the Lord. To trust His timing.

He knows what my publishing journey needs to look like. 

He knows the lessons my boys are internalizing that will lead them toward a healthy adulthood. He knows the best timing for everything in my life. Every desire in my heart—if/when it should be fulfilled.

When I take life at God’s speed, I find it much more peaceful. Not always easy, but definitely less stress-filled.

Trusting the Lord to bring about things in my life has been one of the hardest, slowest, most-soul-filling life lessons. 

What about you? When have you found yourself taking life’s curves too quickly and what did God teach you? What helps you trust God’s timing in your life?

Click to Tweet: When I try to speed up God’s timing, I always end up disappointed.

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Turn

Faith, Revelation Series, Trusting God

Revelation (series): Needy—When We Have Much

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I didn’t set out to write a series based on Revelation 2-3. As I began reading the book of Revelation during my quiet times, I wanted to find truths written to the churches that apply for my life. What came from that desire to find one thing in each letter . . . is this series.

The churches to whom John wrote dealt with many of the same issues we face in an increasingly godless culture. Just as the early churches made choices about whether they would live for Jesus or themselves, so too, do we. 

We have the gift of being able to look at back at their strengths and weaknesses and learn from them.

This isn’t an in-depth theological rendering of these letters. Rather, each post reflects what God has taught me through studying both the letters and the churches. As we walk through Revelation two and three over the next seven weeks, I hope you’ll be encouraged and share your thoughts here! Past posts can be found here: Revelation Series 

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My college years were my “Laodicea years.” I asked Jesus into my heart at age fourteen. Through high school, I did things that grounded me in my relationship with Jesus. I attended a good youth group, made friends. I went to church. I even read the Bible. No coercion from my family.

There was this seed, though . . . it germinated the lie in my heart that I needed things the world offered as well.

Continue reading “Revelation (series): Needy—When We Have Much”

Control, Trusting God

Control: When We Choose to Trust

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I strolled along the beach just after the sun came up, staying to the “combed” part of the sand. I didn’t want the inconvenience of getting my feet crusted with wet sand and then having to rinse them off before I wandered inside the hotel.

As sand crumbled beneath my toes, I was stuck by the way the waves smoothed part of the sand as they washed upon the shore. How they recorded their mark of how far they rolled up and then crept back to where they began.

The contrast intrigued me.

Continue reading “Control: When We Choose to Trust”

Hope, One Word, Trusting God

Hope: Worry and Hope

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

The urge to cough tickled my throat . . . and kept tickling. And forced me into hacking.

This wouldn’t have been a big deal, except that I had a minor procedure scheduled where I would be under anesthesia. And I needed to be able to breathe without difficulty.

Coughing makes this a bit tricky.

Continue reading “Hope: Worry and Hope”

Christmas, Community, Trusting God

Provide: How God Provides

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

It has been said there’s nothing new under the sun. Things people dream up, actions carried out, sins committed, heroics undertaken—all have been done before

In all of history, one person faced something no one else would ever experience . . . Mary. She alone was gifted with the privilege and the heartache of being mother to the Son of God. And with unique opportunities to see God’s provision.

Continue reading “Provide: How God Provides”