promise: God’s promises shine rainbow-bright

Promises are made to be broken, say the cynical, world-weary and heart-torn. Perhaps they are right. It’s hard to keep our word sometimes, to hold onto the original hope and enthusiasm we once had and to see things through.  Maybe we promise things too readily? Maybe a promise shouldn’t be given unless we know without a doubt that we can meet it.

Because making a promise comes down to trust. Our word is only as good as we are and our ability to perform. If we fail it’s often due to unforeseen circumstances or illness, yet we feel like we let others down by breaking a promise we couldn’t keep. Those we make our promises to need to trust in our integrity and faithfulness.

I remember making promises as a Brownie and Girl Guide which included God in the equation. Though I barely had a faith or knew just what it meant to trust in Him. Looking back, I probably broke those promises time and again, without knowing the commitment required in saying I would “do my duty to God and the Queen.”

Maybe we promise quote - couple sitting on boulders by the sea (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.”

2 Corinthians 1: 20-22 The Message

And now? I might feel like an impostor as I seek to live out my faith in a secular society, where the mention of God can be inflammatory. I might not keep all the promises I make to God and others or live as a great example of His goodness, grace and love. But I am grateful God forgives us, just as He says He will. Because God has never broken—or will ever break—a single one of His promises to us.

bible open on a table - God has never broken his promises to us quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I might

I might feel
like a fake, an impostor
in life, love and art
but a bright holy purpose
declares itself in the dark

I might fail
to live graciously, kindly
with those I love
but the essence of grace
runs vein-deep in my blood

I might try
declaring my intentions
with courage
though it only arises
as a gift to be nourished

I might fly
away from earthly concerns
but I don’t
because hope tethers me close
and catches me by the throat

I might sail
toward calmer waters
lush with promise
where the wind takes me forward
as it whispers soul solace
© joylenton

“Don’t beat yourself up today with your weaknesses and sinful failings; instead, find hope in the promised presence of Christ living through us. He is all we need. He provides all we lack. We live for his glory, not our own.” – from Holy Available, in Simply Sacred: Daily Readings by Gary L. Thomas

I cannot promise to have a poem to share each week with the fabulous five-minute-friday community, but I am grateful when it happens. Come join us here as we write out our words on this week’s prompt of “promise.” 🙂

practice: managing the art of life and faith

It takes determination and dedication to practice until we become masters of an art. I lacked the ability to do it well with the violin when I was a child. Or maybe the pained and irritated expression on my parents’ faces was a deterrent.

And I have never overcome my fear of water or been able to swim with any confidence or ease. Sadly, my life is littered with the taking up and laying aside of numerous activities I felt insufficient at.

Somehow, the thought of not being good enough (or perfect) meant I was unwilling to persevere with gaining proficiency. My insecure soul was easily crushed and deterred. Except in my career as a nurse, in being a mother and in one creative area alone.

I’ve never lost the desire to wrangle with words and write out the poetic. I am content to practice because I love it. Writing makes me come alive on the inside and it’s also where I feel reasonably adept. Though I’m as prone to bouts of insecurity, doubt and comparisonitis as anyone else.

practice - baby with tambourine - God gifts each one of us with talents quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

God gifts each one of us with talents, and He also instructs us in the art of living itself. God’s grace means we are forgiven when we mess up, and we can learn to forgive ourselves and move on. Our progress in the spiritual life is far from linear but it is progress, nevertheless.

We’re often not aware we are practising becoming Christ-like but that’s exactly what is happening every day of our lives. As we yield and yield over again to God, we submit our souls to His authority and supreme love. And allow Holy Spirit to do a transforming work in our hearts.

Though perfection is overrated, it’s also an unattainable goal for imperfect people to reach. Maybe if we spent most of our time and energy on being faithful followers of Jesus Christ, then the rest would fall into its rightful place. We could accept being imperfectly perfect in God’s sight, and those who are daily practising the art of a surrendered life.

Let’s seek to practice the art of life, the art of loving others, as we hone the music in our souls and release our gifts freely into the world. Don’t worry about being perfect. Simply rest in being perfectly loved by God.

practice - child playing piano - Let’s seek to practice the art of life, the art of loving others quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Practice

Practice makes perfect
or so they say
but I’ve been practising
the art of living
for six decades
without perfection
in any way.

As I reflect, look back
down the long, dark corridor
of time, what has saved
my soul has been
life’s poetry, metre,
rhythm and rhyme.

It’s revealed in holy script
in my very breath
in wonder and awe
in remembrance
of the One who holds
it all—with great reverence
in the palm of his hands.

And he releases tiny glimmers
of grace into our hearts
and minds, our everyday lives
so we can receive, believe,
think and pray, live out
our lives with gratitude
and hope and joy.
© joylenton

I’m grateful for the weekly practice of flexing my poetic muscles by writing for the fabulous five-minute-friday community. This week’s prompt is “practice”, and you are welcome to join us here as I link my poem with the great variety of posts being shared.

practice poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

opportunity: when rest is an opening to God’s presence

Do you struggle with having tunnel vision of the kind where you get so focused on the tasks before you that you miss a golden opportunity for rest that is sitting within reach? I do. We struggle to see the light as our vision narrows and there seems to be no way of escape from where we are situated.

It happens frequently when my work with words consumes me. It’s hard to pause or come up for air when we’re dying to get things done and putting pressure on ourselves, even if our energy is limited and we’re chronically ill.

woman in a tunnel can see no way out - opportunity - quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

But what if we could seize an opportunity to stop, breathe, be in the moment, would we welcome it? Might we begin to notice more than we did before? Though I long to press on with those things that are important to me, I quickly tire and reach burnout before I know it. Before that happens, I need to slow my soul and take a break. We could all benefit from seeing times of rest as opportunity, rather than sheer necessity.

As I recently pulled myself away from a thorny writing problem I was wrestling with, and sat resting in my bedroom, I could feel sun’s warmth on my neck like a soft caress. It felt like an invitation and opportunity rolled into one. Soul-care spots are like refreshment stations, refuelling us when we get dry, depleted and drained.

While I rested, I sensed God’s holy presence permeating my soul, His voice whispering wisdom, and His love wrapping me in a holy hug. Just as the sun was relaxing my tense neck, God’s presence was ironing out the knots in my mind and heart.

opportunity - quote - Soul-care spots are like refreshment stations, refuelling us when we get dry, depleted and drained - garden - bench (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Though taking opportunity to pause is something I have to practice on a daily basis, there was something different about this one. In sensing presence, I was reminded of other times and places when God speaks to me. And He will do the same for you too.

Sensing presence

You are sun’s warm caress upon my neck
wind gently rustling through spring leaves
chattering voices as people go off to work
each day’s gift of grace and opportunity

I sense you in the womb of my bedroom
I sense you when I am weary as can be
I sense you in days hard to get through
I sense you softly speaking love to me

You’re in the marvellous and the mundane
your footprints are just waiting to be found
my responses to you may not be the same
but we always meet on your holy ground

I sense you less when my soul is darkened
I sense you more when I’m washed clean
I sense you most when I’m not hardened
I sense you speaking in my dreams

You are reaching out continually
seeking to gain my soul’s attention
hoping I will finally hear and see
develop deeper comprehension
© joylenton

opportunity - sensing presence poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my five-minute-friday poem in community here, as we write on this week’s prompt of “opportunity.” You are welcome to join us and read the great variety of posts being shared here.

Let’s conclude by giving praise to the God of all our days, all our ordinary moments, whether they’re busy or restful, hard or hope-filled. God delights to provide the shelter, strength and wisdom we need to carry on.

touch: seeking to pay attention to God’s touch on our lives

hand touching a wheat field - touch - @poetryjoy.com

Each day we receive a touch from heaven above and intimations of God’s love. We discover shades of glory and grace pervading the everyday. We are wrapped in holy wonder as we live and move and have our being. And yet we might fail to notice it because we get too caught up in our difficulties and the daily minutiae.

Why don’t you take a few moments now to pause and be still? Let your soul breathe. Open your eyes to the wonder already hiding in plain sight. It is revealed in seemingly ordinary things that take on a holy significance as we focus and give thanks for them.

The relationships we have with the people in our lives can add a special touch and opportunity for joy. And physical touch itself is something we all need to some extent or other, especially from those we love.

It may come as an arm around your shoulder to say sorry or gently ask how you are. The hand stroking yours that gives comfort and reassurance. Fingers lightly brushing your cheek or lips joining together. The hugs that speak volumes. They are all markers of grace and moments of wonder in their own right.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ― Leo F. Buscaglia

In the poem below I am sharing thoughts from my memories and history, about the first date I had with my husband. It’s a tanka sequence poem that speaks about the power of touch to a human soul and what a difference it makes to know we are loved.

“Touch has a memory.” ― John Keats

silvery moon - touch - benediction poem image @poetryjoy.com

Benediction

illuminate
moonlight strokes lightly over glass
like an artist
painting her joy with colours
music of the mind and heart

I receive it
my soul is hungry for light
I feel it
marking me inwardly
a soul lover’s caress

this glow
emanating from night’s depths
touches me
more than a mere glimpse reveals
it causes an awakening

thoughts stir
memories of past years
when I took
a moonlight walk with my beloved
sauntering by the riverside

water lapped
licking at roots of weeping willow
bowed low
like the shy maiden I was
barely lifting her head up

boats chugged
drifting with winter tides
our love
was but a new, tender shoot
fragile and easily bruised

I hesitated
uncertain about his feelings then
we held hands
warmth infused my cold fingers
it was enough to sustain us

we smiled
grateful for each slow touch
it ignited
hope, with sparks of wonder, trust
this fledgling love would grow and last

and now
I look outside my window
watch the moon
still shining on our small world
slivers of silver unfurled

I smile
no hesitation in my mind
this life
full of holy benediction
will always be his and mine
© joylenton

silvery moon - trees - touch - benediction poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

It feels good to be back here again after my break! 🙂 Though it took me more than five minutes to write, I am linking my poem with the fabulous five-minute-friday crew who are sharing their thoughts on this week’s prompt of “touch.” Now let us praise the One who touches us with His glory and grace and gives us the power to love and touch other lives for good.

reliquaries: how our hearts become repositories of God’s grace

reliquaries - x-ray fingers - how our hearts become repositories of God's grace @poetryjoy.com

When I think of reliquaries as defined by shrines or ancient holy relics, then it causes me to marvel even more at the way God entrusted His sacred self to be housed within our souls. The bare bones of holy breath get to take up residence in souls of dust. We cannot ever measure the depth or extent of it in our minds or lives.

But we can become aware of the measures God has taken to connect with us. Because the bible reveals the awe-inspiring holy wonder of Easter, when Jesus came to live on earth, die for us and dwell forever in our hearts. Though we have our part to play in receiving His presence, as we recognise the barriers of our bad behaviour, turn away from those things and embrace His mercy and grace.

God doesn’t force entry into our hearts. We can resist, ignore, tell Him to go away. Or we can open up, confess our sin and failure and invite Him to come in. God gave us life and breath, and He waits patiently for us to recognise our need of His immeasurable, unconditional love so that He can fully inhabit our hearts.

“…I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands…” — Ezekiel 36:26-27 The Message

Reliquaries

containers exist
buried within our hearts
they’re time capsules
holy reliquaries
recessed deep, accessed by faith

bare bones
of old truth eternal
sit beached
inside our dusty souls
hidden but within reach

tablets of stone
were split, separated
at Moses’ hands
cast down in anger, breaking
of God’s holy commands

no relic now
we’ve been given a new law
it’s written on
human hearts as conscience
which we can choose to ignore

love becomes
the measure of his given grace
our sentience
is not a sentence we bear
but a state that spells release
© joylenton

Reliquaries poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com - heart image

I’m grateful to be linking my poem with the fabulous five-minute-friday writing crew gathering at Kate Motaung’s place. You are welcome to join us here as we write on this week’s prompt of “measure”, and read the great posts being shared.

Friends, I’m needing to pause my poetic thoughts for a few weeks in order to visit family, celebrate Easter and rest. Meanwhile, you might like to take a look at my latest book, which is an eclectic collection of poetry, soul exhale reflections and blessings. Perhaps you could treat yourself to it for Easter or Mothering Sunday/Mother’s Day? It’s called Embracing Hope: Soul Food to Help Chase Away the Blues and it’s available now on Amazon Kindle. A paperback copy will follow in due course.

Embracing Hope book (C) joylenton

“Are you in need of a fresh infusion of hope? Could you use some help to regain the hope you’ve lost? Because when life gets tough, especially if we’re chronically sick or simply low and discouraged, hope can be hard to muster or hold on to. This gentle soul companion guide will help steer you in the right direction..”

May you have a blessed Easter break. I look forward to catching up with you again on April 26th or soon after, God willing.  🙂 ❤ xox

reliquaries - Happy Easter - cross - bright sky @poetryjoy.com

reward: setting our course with courage and faith

reward - ships in calm waters - setting our course with courage and faith @poetryjoy.com

From infancy, we have a tendency to spend our lives looking for reward in one way or another even when we’re not aware of it. Because reward of some description is usually freely given to us by those we love. And it is fed to us daily in the form of social media affirmation, whereby we seek approval from others, as we want to be accepted and belong.

If we add faith into the equation, we see how even there we can be tempted to chase down reward, rather than making a secure relationship with God our top priority. His word is lavish with promises but it also has guidance for the way God wants us to live.

“…and when the Head Shepherd comes, your reward will be a never-ending share in his glory and honor.” — 1 Peter 5:4 TLB

Faith is often referred to as a walk, a way of life, a journey, and a wilderness kind of experience at times. Faith is also as an anchor for our souls and a guiding compass, as we steer a course through this world’s landscape. We need faith, trust, courage, wisdom, discernment and deliberation to avoid the many distractions and obstacles in our path and press on regardless.

reward -compass - ship - anchor - Faith is an anchor for our souls and a guiding compass quote (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” — Hebrews 11:6 NIV

We require strong hearts, courageous spirits and stout shoes to stay on the rocky road-less-travelled, and maintain our hope and trust in God. Maybe we make it harder than it is. Maybe it’s more about yielding our souls to the Captain of our ship, than trying to keep going in our own strength.

Set my course

I seek simplicity because I’ve dwelt
in complicated for far too long.
I have allowed difficult

to define my days
and ways of perceiving
my life, my faith, my song.

Let me set my course in fair winds or foul,
by steering faithfully, aided by grace, by
Holy Spirit breath and compass within.

And if I get blown off the right course
and scent of my true home,
may I return again,

battered and bruised, perhaps,
by a secret bent
known only to the soul.

I want to stay the course, discover
new lands, have my courage
rewarded by what I may find,
as stars shine bright

and a full moon beams,
lighting the way
for me when it’s too dark
to steer or see.
© joylenton

reward - set my course poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

What if we could see ourselves as being enough and believe that God is more than enough for us? How might it look to view God as our great, unmerited reward as we walk through life by His grace? It’s a challenge to our preoccupied, insecure or self-absorbed souls but it’s also a wild adventure to seek to trust as we journey with God.

“After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” — Genesis 15:1 NIV

It’s reward enough today to be able to write and share my belated five-minute-friday poem with the fabulous writing crew over at Kate Motaung’s site. Come join us here and read the great variety of posts being shared, as we pour out our words for this week’s prompt of “reward.”

place: when you’re seeking a soul sanctuary

place - #FMF - when you're seeking a soul sanctuary @poetryjoy.com

Do you have a place where you feel completely at home, relaxed, loved and secure? It’s a gift to have such a soul sanctuary, isn’t it? Though many of us struggle to find it and some miss out altogether, maybe due to the unkindness of others or their own limited ability to seek out a safe place for themselves.

Our homes are meant to be soul sanctuary havens. They’re supposed to represent the loving parental way God cares for us. But often they don’t. If you, like me, grew up feeling confined, insecure, unloved and unwanted because your family of origin didn’t provide the stability you needed to grow strong on the inside, then all is not lost.

“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” — Psalm 18:19 NIV

I found my safe place in God. He alone can provide the complete soul solace we need in life. Other people and things might try to plug the gap, and succeed to some extent, but God gives us the means to rest all that we are: our fear, pain and shame, our identity and name, our past, present and future, our weariness, brokenness, wounds and mess in Him.

place - tree - girl - birds - sunset #FMF - resting ourselves in God quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“You’ve always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all, a lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest. You’ve always taken me seriously, God, made me welcome among those who know and love you.” — Psalm 61:4 The Message

I am seeking

I am seeking
a quiet stream underneath
life’s detritus
beyond the fluctuating
a place that welcomes waiting

I am seeking
a still point in my life
to anchor me
when tides rise higher still
and I lose my heart, my will

I am seeking
somewhere secure and safe
a refuge
so I can reach out again
with courage, hope, confidence

I am seeking
signs of life when all looks dead
to survive
days of darkness and drear
times I want to disappear

I am seeking
more than this world contains
holy rain
deep connectivity
a place to sit, grow and breathe
© joylenton

place #FMF EH #9 I am seeking poem (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Adversity hits us universally but our ways of coping are as individual as we are. I’m learning to rest myself more in God instead of wearying myself out worrying about everything. Faith and trust, coupled with experience, have shown me it’s the wisest course of action, especially when I cannot help myself.

One place I always feel comfortable sharing my words is with the fabulous five-minute-friday crew as we write on this week’s prompt of “place.” You are welcome to join us here and read the great variety of posts being shared. 🙂

By the way, dear reader, you might like to know that the poem above has been taken from my forthcoming new book, Embracing Hope: Soul Food to Help Chase Away the Blues, which is an eclectic mix of poetry, reflections and blessings and is due to be published soon! I chose it because I’m way too fatigued to think straight, and it’s about a place where my soul feels secure, loved and safe.