Faith, Living with Intention, Trusting God

Faith: When Everything Is Not Okay

Picture of a fence holding you back from a river flowing and trees on the opposite bank, reminder that we still live with boundaries on our lives

@JeanneTakenaka

Our boys completed their school year from home, as did most American students.

Nine weeks of staying at home (except for buying a few groceries and taking morning walks).

Nine weeks of together time.

Nine weeks of trying to figure out what life should look like in this pandemic-defined world.

And there are still days when I wonder if we’ll ever move beyond the restrictions, the sometimes tedium, the testing of boundaries by our sons. There are days when I wonder if everything will ever be okay again.

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Faith, Perspective

When Faith Doesn’t Solve Everything

Lilacs not quite opened up yet . . . symbolic of how we are before we begin to believe in Jesus

Guest Blogger: Beth Vogt

***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!***

Some friendships are for a season, and some last a lifetime. Beth Vogt is a life-friend. We’ve walked many seasons together. She was the first person I shared with that God had given me a story. Instead of telling me to wait until my sons were older, she encouraged me to write it. And, she directed me to helpful resources to learn how to write a novel. She’s an encourager, a truth-speaker, an amazing author, and one of the most authentic people I know. I am so pleased to share her words here today. Please help me welcome Beth Vogt!

Last week’s winner of The Joy of Falling is: Anita Ojeda! Please contact me within the next week to receive your book.

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I was 21 years old when I embraced living by faith, instead of living by the familiar structure of my religious upbringing. 

I’m thankful my parents taught me to believe in God. But I’m even more grateful my then-future husband told me how important his faith was to him. I’ll admit that, at the time, I wondered why he talked so much about Jesus and the Bible. Both topics are a bit extreme for me—especially since we were on our second date.

Understanding that faith was more relationship than rituals altered my life. Hope began to seep into the parched corners of my soul and expanded who I thought I could be. 

Continue reading “When Faith Doesn’t Solve Everything”
Faith, Joy, Trusting God

Joy: 7 Thoughts for Cultivating Joy in Hard Seasons

Two teen boys climbing up boulders and scoping out the view beyond

@JeanneTakenaka

This picture brings me great joy. A few weeks ago, I insisted my two boy-men go walk/hiking with me. Getting our teen boys outside rarely meets with whoops of excitement.

When we arrived, my two guys trudged ahead on a dirt trail. There must have been magic in the air that day because, all of a sudden, they were running. With smiles on their faces. 

And the coup de grace came when they discovered large boulders to explore and to test their bravery.

Eighteen months ago, each of our sons were dealt life-altering events. 

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Life, Perspective

Normal: 7 Ways to Nurture Peace When Nothing Feels Normal

Small white flowers growing amid red bark on the ground-one open, others in various stages

@JeanneTakenaka

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ve discovered that I like schedules. I like plans and knowing what’s going to happen in a certain day, how to prepare to walk through each day well.

Of course, small adjustments are sometimes necessary . . . a kid calls from school and needs to be picked up, the spouse locked keys in the car . . . but what about the erasure of “normal” from our days? 

How do we adjust to the life-shifts this pandemic has dictated? 

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Faith, Fear, Perspective

Fear: We Always Have a Choice

Photo of an empty thoroughfare on a hoarfrost morning, emphasizes the emptiness

@JeanneTakenaka

First of all, I am so, so excited to share a free ebook I’ve created for newsletter subscribers. Want to learn more? Click this link.

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Have I mentioned that I. Don’t. Like. Change?

Life as we know it . . . 

Choir concerts

Church activities and services

Writing conferences

Work trips

Youth retreats

School (my kids’ spring break was extended to two weeks due to the virus)

And many other activities . . . 

Have come to a jarring halt. 

With the concerns about the latest virus, I’ve vacillated between fear, frustration, and resignation. I know there are fewer cases and deaths from the coronavirus than we normally see from Influenza. But, this virus has made national headlines for weeks. The numbers sound so ominous.

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Faith, Fear, Perspective

Perspective: Six Thoughts for Overcoming Perfectionism

A yellow leaf, curled and spotted, showing imperfection amid a pile of brown leaves

@JeanneTakenaka

I have a love-hate relationship with perfectionism. I want to do things perfectly. I feel good when I do things perfectly, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to.

Too often, that fear has dictated how I do—or don’t do—important things. Too often, I’ve stuffed my brave into a small closet as fear declared I couldn’t do it.

Recently, I was trying to write my first email for a newsletter. The words wouldn’t come together. So, I organized electronic files. I watched snow drift outside my window. 

And I ignored the blank screen on my laptop.

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Focus, Perspective, Relationship

Focus: Where are We Living?

Focus-living a bee focused on pollinated a snowball flower

@JeanneTakenaka

Does a song ever speak to you? We’ve been singing, “You Reign Above It All” for the past few weeks at church. This song speaks so vibrantly of how big, how powerful our Father is. It brought to mind an event where God began showing me the truth in this song.

Years ago, I walked into my women’s ministry office one Sunday morning after service. My heart pounded in indignation when I saw one of our volunteers sitting at my desk and rifling through some files for an outreach she and I were coordinating. 

What was she doing in my office? 

Without even asking?

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Faith, Perspective, Waiting

Waiting: When the Waiting is Hard

A white grouping of trees on an overcast, snowy day.

@JeanneTakenaka

Many years ago, our oldest wouldn’t wake up one morning. It wasn’t stubbornness on his part. He was feverish, lethargic, and simply couldn’t stay awake. I let him sleep. But as the clock ticked toward noon and I couldn’t rouse him even for a drink of water, my mama’s heart revved as worry dug in deep.

God allowed us to get a same-day appointment with our doctor. I hefted my unconscious boy into his office. Long story short, he thought it would be best to take Peter to the ER. 

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Family Relationships, Gratitude, Perspective

Gratitude: Thankful for the Little Things

Meme with the words: "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." —Robert Brault, Author on a backdrop of a photo of berries

@JeanneTakenaka

The phone rang. It was Hubs. “Honey. I’m in a bit of a panic. I’m at my first flight layover, and I can’t find my passport. Can you check my desk to see if it’s there?”

My husband, world-traveler that he is, had made this trip to the far East many times. My heart dropped when I heard his words, and I sprinted to his office. The edge of his passport peeked out from beneath a short, elevated pile of papers. 

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ACFW, Discouragement, Identity

Discouragement: When Lies Impact Our Identity

Waterfall on the Riverwalk in San Antonio

@JeanneTakenaka

Attending the American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) National Conference is one of the highlights of my year. But this year, I came into this conference feeling discouraged, because of something, not writing-related, that happened a few weeks ago. The results of that event had absolutely nothing to do with the conference, but everything to do with how I felt someone important to me perceived me. 

And the hurtful impressions have colored my perspective since then. 

I hate when lies rise up and call me cursed. 

I hate when I open myself up to listen to their whispers.

And I hate when said lies impact something I’m looking forward to.

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