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)

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! 🙂

blue: a touch of coolness to soothe a heated soul

We’re having a mini heatwave in the UK. A skin-drenching scorcher few of us feel ready for. Because we’ve barely got over having layers of snow and a cool blue feeling in our souls.

We often choose colours that represent certain things to us. Blue is usually considered to be the colour of slowing down, a precursor to experiencing calm, harmony and rest. It’s also associated with stability and depth, piety and sincerity. It’s indicative of loyalty, trust, wisdom, intelligence, faith, and all things sky and heaven related.

On a hot day our skin can protest at sun’s fiery rays, emotions can rise and the change can feel destabilising and unsettling until we get used to it or have been eagerly anticipating its arrival for months.

So I thought I would keep things light today and share a trio of haiku with you to maintain the cool, calm and collected feelings of blue instead of the fiery heat that summer can bring to us. The first image is from a view we had out of the car window while travelling home after spending Christmas with the family.

At rest

a virgin-white field
bereft of footprints—at rest
like a sleeping child
©joylenton

One thing that never goes out of season is gratitude. Those who practice it are often blessed with joy and peace, even in challenging circumstances. Because it lifts our eyes off what might be limiting and confining, expands our hearts to appreciate life’s little things and causes us to be thankful for what we have.

Heart offering

gratitude expressed
a heart offering of love
simple, effective
©joylenton

It wouldn’t really be summer without thinking about cool, clear water, seas and oceans. Sometimes we can savour marine life on our doorstep by visiting a sea life or marine wildlife centre in our locality.

Ocean

these cavernous depths
where we see fishy delights
bring ocean to life
© joylenton

Whatever your personal preference and whatever the weather is like where you live, I hope you have enjoyed this small pause to savour a tiny of poetry and think longingly of cool blue days or happily anticipate the heat of summer to come.

PS: In case you are curious, here’s a link to the meaning usually attributed to certain colours. 🙂

other: learning to celebrate our difference and unity

In terms of being different and distinct, “other” isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be. Although we wouldn’t want to be extraneous or surplus to requirements, we all revel in our individuality and uniqueness. One person’s cage is another’s idea of freedom. Difference can be celebrated.

Unity is worth rejoicing over too. Because what unites us (especially as people of faith) should be greater than what might divide us. We all need others to relate to and to help us feel cared for, encouraged and understood. God made us for relationship. Together we are stronger.

Being “other” includes: the old and young, the able and less able, the small and great, the bold and confident and the shy and timid ones, the full spectrum of society and those who we might not look at twice, if we didn’t share a common humanity and feel a sense of connectivity in Christ.

Other

When we think about the other we consider
not only our sisters and brothers in faith but
the estranged, the alien and strangers in our
midst and ourselves—when we feel cut off
and adrift, isolated and lost to all but God

To be other is to feel excluded and less than
unless we think about our inclusivity in Christ
and how his otherworldliness makes us awed
and his willingness to include us is a pure act
of God’s supreme holiness, mercy and love

We are most like one another when we can grasp
our unity in him, our bond of faith acting like super
glue to hold us together, despite our differences of
doctrinal practices or lived out spiritual expression
as we respond to Holy Spirit’s ministrations within

I am the other half of you and you of me, for our
God-woven togetherness exceeds all boundaries
and wraps us around with his holy similarity, while
we bask in being wholly unique—yet joined in him
© joylenton

I’m delighted to be sharing my 5 minute poem with the fabulous #FMF writing crew today as we express our thoughts on this week’s prompt of “other.” Please click here to join in and read the great posts being shared.  Thank you! 🙂