Guest Posts, Joy, Trials

Joy: Three Ways to Find Joy in Difficult Times

A zucchini blossom in a garden, a reminder that we must cultivate joy

Guest Blogger: Lindsay Harrel

***For the first three weeks in May, I want to introduce you to three author friends. They have books that have just released, and each of them has wisdom they’ll share in their posts that guided their stories. I am including links to their books, should you want to learn more. And no, I’m not earning anything from sharing them. I just want you to get to know these authors. Enjoy!***

I first came across Lindsay Harrel on a blog we both frequented. When I met her in person at a writer’s conference, I felt like I already knew her. She’s got a way with words and a passion for encouraging people. She’s a wife, a fellow boy-mom, and an author. I’ve loved reading her books, especially her most recent, The Joy of Falling, and walking this writing journey with her. Please welcome, Lindsay Harrel!

Last week’s book winner is: Jennifer Smith! Please email me within the next week with your address so we can get you your book.

*****

I’ve been thinking about joy a lot lately.

Like many, I’ve struggled with a bit of depression over the craziness inflicted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It comes and goes, and it’s nothing like others experience, but it’s there, lurking in the corner and coming for a visit when I least expect it.

But here’s what I’ve learned about hard times—even in the midst of them, we can experience joy. 

Let me rephrase that: we can CHOOSE joy.

Continue reading “Joy: Three Ways to Find Joy in Difficult Times”
Lisa Jordan, Mothering, Trials

Storm: Hearing God’s Whisper Through the Rain

Dark clouds hovering over a city, dropping rain over mountains

Guest Post by Lisa Jordan

Intro: I had no idea, on the day I met her, the gifts God had in store for me. My friend and award-winning author, Lisa Jordan, has been a confidante, an encourager, and a speaker of deep wisdom. She’s helped me on my writing journey, been a support and a listening ear when my kids have me pulling my hair out, and most of all, she points me to Jesus when I begin to think everything is up to me. I’m thrilled to begin sharing her quiet wisdom and encouraging words with you all on the last Tuesday of each month. Please help me welcome Lisa Jordan.

*****

At the end of March, I spent two days with friends, who lived ninety minutes from my house. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a social visit but one of necessity—at least to this aching mama. 

Earlier that day, I had taken my youngest son to the walk-in clinic in our community and then the emergency department at our local hospital. His jaw and neck were swelling quickly despite the prescribed antibiotics his doctor had given him the day before. After waiting nearly three hours, the ER physicians decided my son needed to be taken by ambulance to a hospital in a larger city to treat the infection more aggressively so it wouldn’t affect his breathing by closing off his windpipe.

Continue reading “Storm: Hearing God’s Whisper Through the Rain”
God's Love, Infertility, Trials

Love: When We Question God’s Love

A woman standing with two young children near a pond

@JeanneTakenaka

Many years ago, as Hubs and I stumbled through the valley of infertility, I struggled a lot with the Lord. I faced well-intentioned loved ones who told me I just needed more faith, and then we’d get pregnant. 

But more, I questioned that God loved me as much as He loved other people. 

If He loved me, why did He withhold this heart desire? Why did he not fulfill the innate yearning to carry a pregnancy to term and to nurture a child? 

I still remember the day. 

Continue reading “Love: When We Question God’s Love”
Joy, Thanksgiving, Trials

Thanksgiving: Finding Joy in Every Circumstance

Meme with the quote: "If you let something steal your thanksgiving, you let something steal your joy, and if you let something steal your joy, you let something steal your strength." ~Ann Voskamp, Author on a backdrop of fall-leafed trees near a creek.

@JeanneTakenaka

As we are in the throes of Thanksgiving week here in the United States, I decided to add to a post I originally shared a few years ago. It’s short but sweet. And, I’m still sticking with a quote. 🙂

***

I love this quote by Ann Voskamp. Thanksgiving is an attitude of the heart, and it’s a choice. When we choose thankfulness, joy is the result in our hearts. We see the good things God has placed in our lives. When we take the time and make the effort to say, “Thank you,” we not only show Him appreciation, we build up a storehouse of joy within us.

Continue reading “Thanksgiving: Finding Joy in Every Circumstance”
Autumn, Trials

Autumn: Reflections in a Busy Season

Tree with brilliant red leaves

@JeanneTakenaka

I’m coming clean. I had a “grand plan” for this week’s post. I really did. But life . . . became a bit unwieldy these past couple of weeks and stripped my normal preparation time for the posts I share with you. I hope you’ll indulge me as I offer a few photos and autumn reflections I shared on Instagram in October. Next week, we’ll jump into November with quotes and thoughts on gratitude. I especially look forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic. 

Continue reading “Autumn: Reflections in a Busy Season”
Faith, Trials, Trusting God

Question: Do You Want . . .

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

Has God ever asked you a question so clearly that you squirmed with the discomfort of it?

A number of years back, I was sitting in church. That morning my rejection issues rose up and called me condemned.

Peoples’ words and compliments filtered through that rejection lens and came through as warped and untrue. I doubted any good thing said, and pain burrowed into my heart.

All of a sudden this question shouted in my mind:

Continue reading “Question: Do You Want . . .”
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”

Infertility, Trials, Trusting God

Distance: When We Feel Far From God

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

I’ll never forget some life lessons. As we walked the path of infertility, I felt far from God. I couldn’t understand why He gave other people children, but not my husband and me.

In not understanding God’s intentions, I distanced myself from Him. It hurt too much to keep placing hope in a God who withheld a desire I believed He’d placed in my heart. I still had my quiet times, but that time was spent in rote activity rather than heart-renewal.

Continue reading “Distance: When We Feel Far From God”

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Perspective, Trials

Beauty: Looking For Beauty

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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

BEAUTY

The Weather Channel lied to us on Monday. What was predicted to be a cold, breezy day morphed into a snowy, gray day. I always look for the beauty in a day. I see it in fog. In clouds. In sunlight.

But a gray day is still  . . . a gray day. Not as much color. Dreary. One of those days when a girl wants to stay inside, eat popcorn and watch movies or read a book until the sun come back out.

Tuesday started out foggy, but by the time I dropped the boys off at school, the sky was a brilliant blue. Snow-tipped trees brushed it with pure contrast. My heart was happy!

It got me thinking about how we go through seasons in our lives that are dreary.

HARD.

Sometimes the hard passes and blue skies return.

Sometimes, we walk through the Hard for the rest of our days.

One thing I’ve found is, if I can look for the beauty in the midst of the Hard, my heart is often pointed back to God.

When circumstances overwhelm me with discouragement and even despair, it’s difficult to see beyond the colorless pain.

When God reveals Himself color begins to tint the gray. When I look beyond the pain of circumstances and choose to cling to faith in Him instead of reliance on myself? My eyes can see hints of His beauty in the middle of the hard season.

God is always faithful. We may not always see how God works, but we can always be assured that He is there in the hard seasons with us.

If we seek His face, He often reveals glimpses of Himself. When the days are gray, let’s look for His beauty, shall we?

What about you? When have you seen God’s beauty in the midst of your hardship? What aspect of God’s creation is the most beautiful to you?

Click to Tweet: If I can look for the beauty in the midst of the Hard, my heart is often pointed back to God

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Beauty

Five Minute Friday scribblings, Trials

Overcome: When Trials Come

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

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

OVERCOME

God never promised this life would be easy. We all face trials. They can refine us, renew us. They often show us how much we need Jesus.

I have this nasty habit of trying to get through trials in my own strength. I plow through the days, trying to break down the barriers, and get back to my version of normal.

The thing is, God doesn’t allow trials into our lives so that we can navigate them in our own strength. Sure, there are times when we can handle them. And be done with them.

But, how many times have we faced that trial that’s as high as a mountain and as intimidating as a grizzly bear breathing down our backs?

God wants us to walk through those seasons of life with Him. Not in front of or behind Him. He wants us to let Him help us.

When those hard times show up in our lives—and we all face them—He wants us to overcome. The only way we can, though, is by acknowledging how desperately we need God’s help. Our God is greater than anything we’ll face in our lives.

But, if we face those hard times alone, in our own “strength?” We’ll be mown over, sooner or later.

God sometimes waits for us to invite Him into the hard. Sometimes, He withholds the overcoming until we’ve endured the fire that removes dross so we reflect Him more clearly. 

And this almost always comes through having the humility to ask God to walk alongside us. To ask Him to be our barrier-breaker. To be the One who gives us strength. 

Sometimes, God’s just waiting for us to acknowledge we can’t do “it,” whatever “it” is on our own. Whether it’s pursuing a calling, working toward a dream . . .

Whether it’s facing a scary diagnosis, a job loss, the death of a loved one . . .

He wants to see us victorious, and He wants us to trust Him to walk with us on the journey.

Whatever we are facing, we will overcome with God’s help.

I love Joshua 1:9—

He commands us to be strong and courageous. He tells us not to be afraid or discouraged, but there’s only one reason we can own and live out this command . . . and it’s because He is with us wherever we go.

What about you? When have you sensed God’s presence with you in a trial? When have you seen Him overcome a situation in your life?

Click to Tweet: Knowing how to walk through trials makes all the difference

I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday—Overcome