if: when we receive so much more than we deserve or expect

If only. Oh how often those immortal words have entered our thoughts or escaped from our lips, as we murmur against the hand life has dealt us or wonder just when we can fulfil our delayed hopes and dreams.

Maybe ‘if only’ has been spoken as wistful wishes or with sadness and regret. I’ve had my share of both. But I’ve also expressed those words when looking back in gratitude for the way God has intervened to rescue me from this or that. With God, we always receive so much more than we deserve or have any right to expect.

Today, I’m wondering at the wisdom of temporarily breaking my poetic silence and period of enforced rest, having been lured into the writing waters again by the prompt of ‘if’ provided by five-minute-friday this week.

If

If you can see yourself as you really are, your need for alteration and change,
and are willing for your mind to become transformed, your life rearranged.

If you can look beyond the bare bones of your own meagre existence
and recognise how much loving others makes a difference.

If you refuse to slavishly follow the ways of this darkened world, preferring,
instead, to plough your own furrow, while watching seeds of faith unfurl.

If you recognise that undue haste and hurry only lead to stress and driven
lives, and that being spiritually guided, led and inspired is truly wise.

If you can maintain hope when challenges mount up, and drink
willingly from life’s stormy, thankless and bitter cup.

If you gratefully receive grace upon grace to help you live your life
aright, while yielding yourself to God’s supreme will and his laser-light.

If your eyes have been opened to the mystery and marvellous ways of God,
and your broken heart has been broken open by his unconditional love.

If your prayers centre on inner growth, supporting others more than yourself,
and you’ve developed a greater Christ-like, compassionate heart as well.

Then you will be aware of being God’s beloved one, my friend,
created to be in relationship with him and to do good things.
© joylenton

**With apologies to Rudyard Kipling for styling my hastily executed poem similarly to his own epic work. You can read his masterly ‘If’ poem here… **

However, I am delighted to be flexing my poetic muscles again and to have an offering to share with the wonderful writers here. Come join us? 🙂

rhythm: seeking a slower pace to truly savour our lives

I’m sensing a change is due. For far too long I have had a discordant inner rhythm and a jangling outer one. With nerves frayed, patience shot and a desperate need to slow right down.

I know my life would hardly be considered busy (never mind frantic) to others. Living with M.E and chronic illness involves a necessary daily pacing and rest to avoid burnout and overwhelm. But do I heed the signs of being wearier than usual? Do I stop instead of pressing on? Not always.

We’re all able to push ourselves more than might be wise, especially when the things we are engaged with truly matter to us, like writing does to me. Yet when we ignore the warning signs, we risk adopting an imbalanced rhythm where rest barely gets a look in and busyness of some description becomes a default state that’s hard to break.

It is possible to slow and savour the ordinary before our eyes. In doing so, we might gain gratitude and a deeper appreciation of those who share our days. Maybe conversation could be less like itching to get our point across and more about listening to the other person? Just a thought.

I have experienced the inestimable value of pursuing times of quiet, prayerful solitude with God on a regular basis. It pays to have seasons of slow whenever we sense God calling us to do so.

A different life rhythm

I need a different life rhythm if I am to become more fully myself
with increasing awareness of the sacredness of ordinary life events
and moments, as I welcome in and embrace whatever might chime
like the hours in their ability to remind me of God’s loving presence

as it permeates the everyday, saturating everything we might take
for granted in our haste to move on from one activity to another
without savouring life with our senses alive to its holy resonance
as it meets with us in its unique thisness of vibrancy being offered

for we move too fast, especially in our thoughts, as we hurry and rush
to get to the new and the next, expecting each fresh encounter will
entertain and distract us better than those we have left behind or
rejected with our muddied minds, which do not value being stilled

because we’re blinded by busyness and slaves to change, fearing
most of all to be left behind, to miss out on something, which we
soon discover is not all it’s cracked up to be and only serves to drain
and deplete, to sap our vitality and leave us feeling weary and weak

our souls require breathing space, pockets of set-aside time, a quiet
deliberation to pursue the most excellent way that God designed us
to live and move and have our being in him, while we rest all we are
and all we can be, with gratitude for our days and thankful praise
© joylenton

Friend, I am heeding these whispers to my soul and resting my poetic thoughts for a while, though I hope to share snippets on my Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter when I am able. I’d love you to join me in those places.

Blessings, love and hugs to you until we meet again in a few weeks time. xo 😊💜🌸

clouds: confessions of a not so secret cloud watcher

I love looking at clouds. Watching them drift and separate. Seeing them moving slowly or travelling at speed, while wearing dream-like, ethereal, cotton-wool threads, filled with glory from sun’s splendid rays or dressed in drab, dark robes of thunder and rain.

Clouds are entrancing however and whenever we choose to view them. Although you might think cloud watching is only possible for those who have day-dreamer hearts and look up as they walk along, or who, like me, are largely housebound and have time on their hands for staring out of windows.

But I don’t think that’s entirely true, because clouds are freely available for all of us. All we require is the incentive and interest to take a look. In doing so we might discover just how fascinating they are and how watching them helps relax and calm our mind and heart.

In looking at and considering the heavens (including clouds) we see ourselves in relation to their vastness and splendour with a different perspective, and are awed anew by God’s amazing love and concern for us.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour.” – Psalm 8:3-5 (NIV)

Clouds

Clouds drift by with calm intention, knowing their position
and place in the heavens, while willing to be blown about
by the wind or be stilled and lulled with peaceful precision

There’s no pressure on them to be anything but what they are
as they move to the vagaries of the weather, splitting into soft
threads with wispy, cotton-wool edges or piled into heavy ridges

They look translucent as they dance in the changeable atmosphere
and bow down as if weighted with lead, become foggy and thick
as they take on a dense, dark and malevolent kind of character

Sunlight brings out their brilliant white, lacy virginal style when
it’s full and bright in daylight hours, then transmutes into a vivid
palette during sunrise and sunset, painted indigo, gold and red

Vastness of sky would be far less interesting to us if we didn’t
have such an eclectic scenario of clouds, altering before our eyes
in all their varied shapes and hues to inspire, intrigue and amuse
© joylenton

And one day , when the time is ripe, we will look up at the sky and see Jesus coming on the clouds of glory, ready to rule and reign in splendour.

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” – Mark 13: 26 (NIV)

consent: important GDPR information about us staying email friends

Hello friend, 🌷🌸😊

This post is a bit different from the usual offering. I’m writing to alert you to some changes in data protection which affect how you might receive my emails. It has primary relevance to those who subscribe to receive my blog posts by email but it’s also important for all of you to take note of, as you will see as you read on…

General Data Protection Regulation (EU)

In order to ensure that I am complying with GDPR regulations by 25th May 2018, you will need to confirm you are happy for your email to be used for the specific purpose of delivering blog posts to your inbox and storing your email for this purpose alone.

WordPress stores your email address, which I can also see. I do not share your email address with anyone else, nor will your email address be used for anything other than the stated purpose above.

I want to ensure I have your consent to do this.

Please note there are slightly different approaches depending on whether you have a WordPress account or not.

1) Non-Wordpress account holders

Please use the following form to sign up again, regardless of how you signed up in the first place. Emails will be sent to you from WordPress with the content of my posts.

2) WordPress account holders

If you have a WordPress account and follow me, the words below will read something like ‘YOU ARE ALREADY SUBSCRIBED – You are following this blog (manage). You can choose whether or not you want to continue to get email notifications from me by managing your WordPress subscriptions in your own WordPress account. Click ‘manage’ and then look at your list of subscriptions – each site will have ‘settings’ you can click through to turn on/off email notifications as desired.

Here’s the form…

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

“But I don’t get your posts by email!”, do I hear you say? No worries. If you would like to do that you can easily sign up using the form above, or, if you have a WordPress account, adjusting your subscription settings as explained above.

By doing so, you are giving consent for your email to be stored and used for this purpose. You can unsubscribe at any time, either by ‘managing’ your subscriptions as above or clicking ‘unsubscribe’ at the bottom of emails. You can view my privacy page here for fuller data collection details.

Phew! Thank you for your patience! 😉💜 Now we’ve got over the tough stuff, here’s a tiny poem for you as we close…

we’re obliged to do GDPR, even though it’s a pain
in the proverbial, and a huge nuisance to one and all
but the most important thing is to stay connected together
because I would hate to lose touch or miss your friendship

Let’s stay connected, heart to heart and home to home, sharing poetry and thoughts about love, loss, life and faith, yes?

Please excuse me while I take myself off and lie down for a while to recover. 🛌 This admin work is tiring! Do make yourself a refreshing cuppa and eat some cake to celebrate getting to the end of this message. You’ve earned it, my friend!🍩🍰☕

anamchara: appreciating our soul friendship with Jesus

Do you have a soulmate? Someone who you are completely comfortable and truly yourself with? A soul friend who has always got your back and who understands what makes you tick? A person you can totally rely on?

True soul care friends are a rarity but all the more appreciated for being so. As far as a soulmate is concerned, I’m blessed to have that in my husband. No one else quite sees or reads me with such searing acurracy, yet loves me just the same. He has proved loving and faithful for many years and I have no reason to expect that to change.

However, as a fellow flawed human being like me, he is still subject to times when he is less available to me or less able to listen as well as I might want him to. We have to give one another grace for being broken, imperfect people who are just trying their best to meet the other person’s needs.

Thankfully, God has made provision for each and every one of us to have a close soul friend, a totally reliable, loving and faithful friend whose character is unchangeable and whose ability to be there for us is unlimited.

He is able to walk with us every day. To mentor, lead and guide. To sit besides. To love us unreservedly and unconditionally. To patiently wait for us to return when we ignore him for days on end or decide to charge off without him, thinking he won’t notice if we’re missing. To comfort us when we feel sad. To rejoice with us always. To talk to us day or night if we want him to.  Sounds pretty perfect, right?

That’s because He is. Our best soul friend is Jesus Christ. He always has been and always will be. Once we learn who He is, why He came to earth and why He cares so much for us, and invite Him into our heart and home, then we begin to discover just what a treasure He is and why we need Him in our lives.

Anamchara

my anamchara
constant companion, soul friend
beyond this life’s end

you’re my earthly guide
walking by my side, you smile
there’s no judgement here

only perfect love
and total care radiates
with amazing grace

as you gaze my way
at any time, day or night
precious in your sight

I have always been
whether I knew it or not
blowing cold or hot

though you have remained
without alteration or change
faithfully the same

mentoring me still
in ways of grace, love and faith
teaching me your will

helping me to grow
more dependent on you now
yet freer somehow
© joylenton

Note: Anam cara or anamchara’s full meaning can be found here. I have used it in this haiku sequence to reflect our relationship with Jesus Christ.

seagulls: seeking to trust in God’s provision for us

Living within driving distance of the sea means that we often have times when there’s an invasion of seagulls inland, especially when it’s inclement weather where they live or they just feel like spreading their wings.

They make a racket as they fly everywhere, hoping we’re going to be as generous providers of sustenance as their seaside audience are. Little do they know that we’re unlikely to be a good source of food for them, unless they scavenge our leavings.

It’s like the seagulls don’t quite trust they’ll be taken care of. Do birds actually forget that God makes sure they are fed? They have no need to fret. And does some of that doubt creep into our own souls as we hunger after things only God can supply?

“And the food became known as “manna” (meaning “What is it?”); it was white, like coriander seed, and flat, and tasted like honey bread.” – Exodus 16:31 TLB

Maybe we just need to remind ourselves of how wonderfully God has provided for us in the past to stir us toward intentional noticing and being thankful for all we receive today.

“He fed you with manna in the wilderness (it was a kind of bread unknown before) so that you would become humble and so that your trust in him would grow, and he could do you good.” – Deuteronomy 8:16 TLB

Seagull-minded

Are we seagull-minded, screeching and squawking over
one small crust of bread, as though that was all we had
and we’re worried we won’t be fed?

Do we not remember how God provided daily manna
in the wilderness, and how he never leaves his children
wanting, weary or downcast?

Have we forgotten how he lifts the weary and seeks out
the lost, giving us his strength and help when we are weak
and mending our broken hearts?

Are our minds dulled and negligent in considering God’s
magnificent provision for everything, and just how much
we need his presence and his touch?

Maybe we require a shift in our thinking so we don’t sink
into discouragement but are instead encouraged by his
word, and thankful our prayers are heard

Then our souls would veer into an attitude of gratitude
that lifts and sustains us, and treasure each slide into
deeper dependence and trust
© joylenton

“Jesus replied, ‘I am the Bread of Life. No one coming to me will ever be hungry again. Those believing in me will never thirst.'” – John 6:35 TLB

stuck: facing storms and sailing into calmer waters

We all have times and situations where we feel stuck, when our circumstances hold us fast like mud, become seemingly stagnant, and we can see no relief on the horizon. Acknowledging where we are helps, but the most important thing is to realise, no matter how long it takes and how hard we might find it—this won’t last forever.

We won’t always be caught up in our past or chained to habits we long to break free from. If our life is rooted in Christ, then we can set sail for freedom at any time. Nothing is set in concrete when we surrender our lives to Him.

And even if our situation doesn’t alter one iota, we can. By God’s mercy and grace, we can learn to change our perspective, adopt a new way of thinking about things and sail into calmer waters internally as storms continue to rage around us.

Stuck

When I feel stuck in a place of shame or pain, a puddle of difficulty
or an ocean of longing, a river of uncertainty, I remind myself that
this too shall pass and I will rise again, with holy Hope billowing

from my rooted soul like a mainsail, and Faith holding hard as
an anchor for my hurting heart, steering me away from dangerous

shipping lanes toward the Rock, who I am stuck fast to and who
steadies us through every storm we might have to go through

It’s hard to sense our salvation at hand when we’re stuck on thorny
ground, riddled with doubt and can see no way out, or we’re fixated
on things that steal and captivate our souls, but prove to be leaky

vessels, nothing but holes, just sieves that sift, leave us thirsty and
drained, desiring more, as we lose ourselves and our grip on God

While we might sometimes get ourselves into a jam, let us seek to
remain glued to God, stuck fast on his endless mercy, forgiveness

and love, because he is the Centre of our hearts, the great I AM
who freely gives gifts of grace—and is eternally stuck on us
© joylenton

I’m thankful for not being stuck for words as I share my 5 minute poem with the fantastic #FMF writing crew today, using the prompt word: “stuck.” You are warmly invited to write with us and to read the great posts being shared. Just click here to join us there. Thank you! 🙂