Embrace: The Power of an Embrace

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—EMBRACE. 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!

EMBRACE

There’s something indescribable that happens in my heart when one of my boys slings an arm around my waist or my neck. From the time they were infants, there was something so . . . accepting in the simplicity of them wrapping their arms around my neck and squeezing.

Something so beyond satisfying as I held them close to my body.

Nowadays, those embraces come less often, but the sense of love—of safety—that comes for each of us is almost palpable.

There’s something that conveys safety in the wrapping of an embrace.

It’s true with physical embraces. What about those intangible embraces?

 

When we walk through a difficult season and God shows up? When He reveals himself in a way only God could? That’s like an embrace. It’s a tangible reminder that He loves us.

When He brings me face-to-face with something in my heart that needs change? That’s a hard embrace. But the hopeful thing is, He doesn’t just show me, He helps implement the change in the perfect way only He can.

Only a loving Father embraces the hard places in us and loves us enough to bring about change. Because it’s often in those hard lessons learned that we are gifted with freedom.

When we walk through seasons when that desire we’ve longed for, maybe even pinned hopes on, doesn’t come? We have to learn to trust. To wrap our arms around our Father’s neck and cry into his shoulder.

He holds us close and whispers words of love and truth as we pour out our hearts to Him.

 

God’s embraces may look a little different than we expect. But we can be assured that His safety is always there for us.

He’s not a predictable God, or a “safe lion,” as C. S. Lewis wrote, but He is always a good God, a loving Father, and a safe haven for us.

What about you? When have you experienced God’s embrace in your life? What’s one way God has taught you to trust Him?

Click to Tweet: What is in an embrace?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Embrace

Abandon: Living Abandoned or With Abandon

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—ABANDON. 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!

ABANDON

I’ll never forget the expression on our two-year old’s face when he thought we’d abandoned him. The terror, the people circling around him as his frantic eyes searched for us. I scooped him in my arms and tried to comfort him, but it took a long time.

How many times have I walked into a situation where I felt like an orphan abandoned?

Feeling that sense of abandonment does wretched things to a spirit. We feel the need to control everything. We’ll do anything to not feel abandoned.

The hard thing is when we grow up, and we’re still trying to control everything, we end up sacrificing intimacy with others—and with God—in our attempt to feel safe.

That’s the tricky thing about God. He is not one we can control. When we come into a relationship with Him, we have to choose.

We can only go as deep in intimacy with Him as we are willing to relinquish our perceived control.

When we let go of a little control, God moves into the space we have left open to Him.

But we have to trust Him. We have to believe that He loves us and that He only allows those things into our lives that will benefit us . . . sooner or later.

 

As we release the grip we’ve had on our lives,

. . . as we choose to trust Him,

. . . we begin to live life with a beloved child’s mindset. Not in an orphan’s mindset.

When we trust our Father to do what’s good in our lives, we can go from living abandoned to living with abandon.

When we allow God into all the areas of our lives, He transforms us. Sometimes it’s immediate, but more often transformation is a work in progress.

 

Instead of frantically looking around—like my son—we can look with confidence or at least peace.

Even when the hard comes.

Even when we have no control.

Because when we know and trust the One . . . when we look to Him we are never abandoned. We’re never invisible.

What about you? When have you chosen to live with abandon? What lessons have you learned by living knowing you are loved by God?

Click to Tweet: When we allow God in He transforms

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Abandon

Purpose: When We Don’t Understand

foggy-morning-trees

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—PURPOSE. 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!

***Confession: I took a couple more minutes than five to write this.***

PURPOSE

Last year, I shared a little bit about how I put my brave on and sent in a manuscript to an agent. I had done my very best to it. Had people read it and give me their insights. I thought it was ready.

Turns out, it wasn’t.

I was beyond discouraged. A small part of me briefly (very briefly) considered ending my writing journey.

What was God’s purpose in helping me put on my brave only to be rejected? 

I had to take some time to work through the discouragement.

The agent didn’t send a blanket “thanks-but-no-thanks” letter. She gave me feedback on how to improve my manuscript.

fog-in-the-grasses

 

Can you say G-I-F-T?

As God helped me work through this, He gave me the opportunity to work with a very godly woman who challenged and stretched me. The first time we talked, I was crying within two minutes because God showed her things she couldn’t have known about me.

He decided it was time to do some healing in my heart.

This purpose could never have been accomplished if my manuscript had been accepted by that agent. God used much of last year to unlock emotions within me that I had pushed down since girlhood.

He used those months and the insights from my mentor to teach me the beauty of trusting Him and close friends with my honest thoughts and feelings. For some people, this is basic stuff.

For me, who was shaped by the lie that certain emotions were not acceptable? And that to gain acceptance (and avoid rejection) I had to only show the acceptable feelings . . . this has been a scary and incredibly freeing journey.

God always has a purpose in allowing us to go through the hard.

Often we don’t understand the fullness of it until after the fact. When we’re in the moment—in the strong emotional season—we can’t always see the work He is doing behind the screen of our life.

god-always-has-a-purpose-copy

 

We have to come to a place of being able to view our circumstances through God’s lens.

Then, He might give us a glimpse of His purposes for allowing us to walk through hard times.

Often, those hard seasons bring us to the end of ourselves. They strip us of self-centeredness. And, when we let Him, God sands off a little bit more of us so a little bit more of Him shines through.

What about you? When has God shown His purpose to you? What have you learned during the hard seasons of your life?

Click to Tweet: God always has a purpose in allowing us to go through the hard

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung, where many other wonderful writers also link up. Five Minute Friday—Purpose

Stress: When We Need to Trust

black-and-white-winter-road

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

My life’s been humming with a constant undercurrent of stress. I’ve said before that these past few months have had a lot going on in them. Lots of unexpected things to handle. Many moments of drama to work through with the boys, neighbors, and others.

And they’ve left me in this state where there’s no stillness. As I spent some time with the Lord last week, Psalm 125 stopped me. Verse one says:

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,

    which cannot be shaken but endures forever. (NIV)

Continue reading

Weak: When We Are Weak

qt-in-the-morning

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—WEAK. 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!

WEAK

It’s been coming on for the past few months. Weeks of unending demands on my energy, my time, and my spirit have sapped strength right out of me.

Traveling, two surgeries (one for a son and one for me) two days apart, and life still doesn’t stop for recovery. Though my hubs has been wonderful.

I feel weak. I’m doing my best to do the important things . . .

Spending time with God.

Praying.

Exercising (kind of).

Eating right.

Trying (and I emphasize trying) to get enough sleep.

Things keep sabotaging  my best-laid plans to do it all right.

I am so very weak.

2-cor-12-10-copy

 

God seems to be using this season in my life to draw me closer to Himself. We can do our best to take care of ourselves—all of ourselves—but that doesn’t guarantee we’ll walk through every season strong.

Some seasons are too demanding. We can’t face them in our own strength. Only with the help of Jesus.

When we can admit our weakness to the Lord, then He can strengthen us with His power, His love, His energy.

These are a few things I’m learning in my season of weakness:

  1. Bring our need before the Lord. Confessing honestly how desperately I need Him
  2. Do our best to take care of ourselves, but don’t rely solely on ourselves to get through these seasons. Only God can bring us through them well.
  3. Share our needs with friends who will pray for us. Some will help in other ways. One friend has sent an encouraging meme daily to lift my eyes to Jesus
  4. Being honest with others about our need gives them a chance to serve us, to bless us, and to remind of of God’s goodness. hoarfrost-pine-needles

 

It is true. When we are weak, and we walk with Jesus, then we are truly strong.

What about you? What has helped you through seasons of weakness? When has God met you in that weak place in a very real way?

Click to Tweet: Some seasons we’re just not strong enough to walk through on our own

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—WEAK

Control: Who’s In Control?

footprints-near-waves

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—CONTROL. 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!

CONTROL

Have I ever mentioned that I might have an issue with control? And the funny thing is, a lot of times, I think God is letting me have control in my daily decisions about how I live life. Yes, you can laugh.

When I was newly married and we’d been “trying” to have a baby, we conceived . . . and lost the child within eleven weeks. I was devastated but convinced if we tried a little longer it would happen.

That was the beginning of my journey into learning how little control I really have.

I prayed, begged, got on my face and cried to God asking for a baby. He wasn’t being capricious or mean by saying, “Not yet.”

He was drawing me closer to Himself.

In that time period, God taught me so much about His sovereignty.

And in His sovereignty, I came to see God’s love for me.

he-had-plans-copy

 

He had plans for conforming me into the image of Jesus that could only be completed as I learned to walk more closely with Him.

As I learned how to trust Him.

And He’s continued with the trust lessons. On this writing journey, I’ve had to drop a lot of my self-sufficiency and my timelines and plans and learn to embrace His.

No, I haven’t always done it gracefully.

As I have learned to relinquish control over things I thought I controlled, I’m learning to walk in a greater peace.

Learning to trust Him with all things—big and small—is one of my life-long lessons. 

I am still not perfect in the trust department, but I am slowly learning to turn things over to him more quickly.

As I have struggled with watching friends progress in their writing journeys, and I’ve seemingly stayed in the same place, God’s teaching me how to give each aspect of “my” writing over to Him.

silhouetted-sunrise

He’s also freeing me from lies I’ve believed all my life. God is helping me to be more real—more authentic—in my writing and in my daily living.

I never would have learned these lessons had He not begun to teach me about Who’s really in control of “my” life.

What about you? What lessons has God taught you about control? How have you come to see His love for you in your life?

Click to Tweet: Can we have control and still trust God?

I forgot to mention…I had the privilege of visiting with my online friend, Holly Barrett and recording a podcast with her. If you want to hear our conversation, check it out at Living a Redeemed Life.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Control

Refine: Giving Up Control

docked-sailboats

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—REFINE. 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!

REFINE

True confession: I like control. Not controlling others, but being able to have some control of my life.

And God probably looks down at me some days, and says, “Silly, silly girl.”

Most of the time, I know how my days are going to flow. I’ve got a good feel of what’s coming.

And I like it that way.

The thing is? This way of living requires very little trust on my end.

Recently, God has placed our family in a situation where I have. No. Control.

Something is happening, and it’s way out of my time parameters.

God’s plans and mine have collided, and my heart hasn’t been a pretty place.

The things is: I know God is good. I know He’s in control.

And I have to trust Him with this situation. It involves people I really care about, and it’s hard not being able to do anything for them.

Sometimes, refining comes in the form of heart work. I talk about trusting God. And I do trust Him. I do.

romans-8-29-copy

 

But sometimes God refines me by placing me in a situation where I have to choose trust. I have to choose to walk out this situation in His timing. His parameters. And this is hard for a girl who likes a little control.

God’s refining often smooths away the rough edges the world’s chipped off around my heart.  His refining touch brings smoothness to the rough places. It begins a work of beauty in a place of ugliness.

When God refines us, it’s always done with the utmost of His love. He never hurts, jars, or challenges us for the sake of just doing these. He is very intentional in the work He does.

His end goal is to help us to look a little more like Jesus.

If we didn’t face those hard places in life . . .

. . . if we weren’t put in positions where we had to stretch and choose . . .

. . . we would remain stilted. Half-finished. Incomplete.

hawaii-sunset

 

As painful as it can be to walk through the refining God has for us, we can look to the beauty of Him, and we can keep our hope in Him. Knowing that HIs plans for us may not always be easy, but they are always good.

What about you? When has God done some refining in you? How do you keep a good perspective when life throws you curveballs?

Click to Tweet: Sometimes, refining comes in the form of heart work.

I’m linking up with Kate’s Heading Home Five Minute Friday—Refine

Mothering: When Our Kids Are In Training

family-shadows

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Can I be mama-level honest for a moment?

With a pre-teen and a teen boy living under our roof, consuming more and more food, our days with them are passing lightning-strike fast. Soon, one will be in high school. Just after that, we will celebrate a couple of graduations, and our boy-men will launch into the world.

Hubby and I have worked to instill godly values into them. We strive to live out our faith and share with them the things Jesus is teaching us.

Continue reading

Path: Changing Our Path

Walking Path

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—PATH. 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!

PATH

Last week, I had the privilege of hearing Ted Dekker speak. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a man who writes stories in ways I’ve never conceived, and some I can’t read (and others I have). But, I’m telling ya, his words were transformational.

For a girl who’s spent most of her life dealing with the fallout of childhood rejection, my path was set on people-pleasing. Getting approval at almost any cost.

My beliefs were focused on doing whatever was necessary to fill that void the rejection carved out in my heart. Even in the fabric of how I perceived myself.

Ted shared about something I’ve begun witnessing in my own, life, but I’m still learning how to live out.

When we change the way we view things—when our old beliefs are shaken—new beliefs can be planted in our hearts. Our paths can change.

Viewing with God's lens copy

As I learn to view myself through God’s lens and not the lens that has filtered my view of myself for decades, I begin to see circumstances in with new eyes.

As I have a changed perspective, I’ll respond differently to the things that happen in my life. As I respond differently, my path is going to change.

I think it is so amazing how God does this. He’s given us His word. It guides us on His path. But we get waylaid by life, by things people say to or about us. We change the way we see God’s path, His word. We alter how we react to the things that happen.

When we view ourselves through God’s filter, when we believe what He says about us? Things change. Period.

Hazy morning

We begin to live with a renewed spirit. With a refreshed vigor. We begin to respond to people differently. Even to those who have hurt us. We can view them through God’s lens and maybe (in time) show them His love.

When we change our beliefs about ourselves, our past, our path changes. When we align them with God’s truth, those changes are often for the better.

What about you? When has your perspective been shifted and how did you respond? What do you think about this changing your beliefs?

Click to Tweet: When we change our beliefs about ourselves, our past, our path changes.

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday—PATH

Lift: Who Lifts You?

Holding Hands

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—LIFT. 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!

LIFT

Did you ever have one of those days where you just have to keep pressing on? You’re weary. The kids are pulling at every strand of who you are. But you cannot quit. You can’t run away to Australia (though I threaten to sometimes).

Or, maybe the job is demanding every part of you. A rough boss. Taxing schedule.

We all become weary.

I love the picture of Aaron and Hur lifting Moses’ arms during the battle. They strengthened him to do what he had to do.

To lower his arms meant death for the Israelites.

They were an interdependent community. Moses knew he needed help. Aaron and Hur were available to help him.

Why is it, we think we have to go through life strong . . . alone?

Why do we fall for the lie that everything must be carried on our shoulders?

God has given us friends, He’s placed people in our lives for a reason. He created us with a deep need for fellowship.

Can we do life alone? Maybe. For awhile.

But we’re going to fall to pieces. We’re going to be defeated by the enemy when we try to do life in our own strength, isolated.

Dad-son arm in arm

He created us to benefit from being helped by others. I believe God may even place us in situations where the only way to get through is to reach out for help.

When we ask for help, when we let others lift our arms? That’s when we are strengthened. When we let others help us, we are given hope . . . and so are they.

There are blessings to be given when we allow others to come alongside us in lifting our arms, our spirits, our eyes to Jesus.

It’s only when we invite others to lift us up in prayer that we can thrive. It’s when others lift us up physically—spiritually—that we grow.

Three friends silhouette

And we also gain a better view of who God is, and who He is in us and others.

Don’t be afraid to let others in. Don’t fear trusting others to lift your arms.

What about you? What’s the hardest thing about asking for help? What’s been the greatest benefit of letting others help you?

Click to Tweet: When we let others help us, we are given hope . . . and so are they.

Today, I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday—LIFT