waiting: when desire gives way to deeper surrender

waiting - girl sitting by the roadside - when desire gives way to deeper surrender @poetryjoy.com

I’m feeling fried and frazzled in a scorching August heatwave. As I’m waiting to cool down, I’m reminded that the earth itself is incrementally heating up. We sense the stirrings of earth’s birth pangs, the longing it has for deliverance, and considered attention from its custodians.

Our own hearts (never mind our bothered bodies) can feel unsettled by a yearning for change. Because waiting is hard, isn’t it? Our society and world at large are like life on speed, with a drivenness that doesn’t sit easily with being rested, calm and at peace.

We all sit with unfulfilled desires. One of  mine is to write more books before I get too ill, too old or lose my poetic touch. I long to unleash all the creativity that lies within me, rather than sitting on dusty files which remind me that those books are not going to write themselves… get a move on, girl! Only impatience isn’t conducive to getting a good result. 😉

“In the drivenness of our society, it’s hard to make time to relax our efforts and find transforming energy. That’s why we need this particular posture of waiting so much. When we sit in this way we’re relaxing the bow; we’re coming to rest in a very deep way in God, allowing ourselves to be cradled in the sighing mystery of Christ’s prayer.”— When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions by Sue Monk Kidd

waiting - pocket watch - hourglass - rose - Our society and world at large are like life on speed quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Desire

desire at rest
cultivated by God’s grace
in the waiting room
where we learn to still our hearts
quiet the rush, quell our thoughts

the divine promise
gets birthed and earthed in us
in God’s timing
we will finally receive
an abundance of good things

in this posture
where submissiveness counts
where trust is formed
here we mature, learn and grow
develop patience in our souls

soul detachment
enables us to let go
of our wanting
and expectancy follows
when we embrace faith and hope

freedom of desire
might feel alien to us
it’s a holy thing
where our desires and will line up
with what the Father wants for us
© joylenton

waiting - desire poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy” — Romans 8:24–25 The Message

May I pray for you, my friend?

Dear Father God,

Thank you for your loving and protective care of us. Our days are an open book to you because you hold past, present and future in your hands. Help us to wait with patient expectation and confident trust when we desire to forge ahead with this project or that. If we’re in a season of being slowed, grant us the ability to stay encouraged and calm, and believe for better days to come. May we learn to go with the natural rhythm and flow of our days and remain sensitive to Holy Spirit’s gentle leading and guiding.

Amen

May we remember that however far we might stray, get impatient or fail to sense His presence, God is always eagerly waiting for us to turn to Him. 😊❤️

plea: for when you are in need of prayer and help

plea - woman praying - for when you are in need of prayer and help @poetryjoy.com

Prayer can take many shapes and forms, ranging from a simple, urgent plea for help to the intricacies of formal litany and liturgy. Prayer might be silent, spoken words or repetitive chant. Whether short or long, all our prayers are heard and answered by God, usually with a “yes”, “no” or “wait”, though not always in ways we might expect.

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” — Max Lucado

The poem I’m sharing today was birthed in a place of extra weakness, weariness, anxiety and pain. When we feel that way it’s often hard to pray, isn’t it? At such times we might prefer to let our tears speak for themselves, ask family and friends for support, or turn to the written prayers of others for inspiration and help.

If anything resonates with you in the words below, feel free to use them for yourself. I’m always happy if others can see merit in the thoughts God gives me to share. And I’m always blessed if I can encourage someone else, which we can all do by our testimony and prayers, even when we’re struggling ourselves.

A plea

oh let me rest
lean my head on Jesus’ breast
and hear God’s heartbeat
pounding softly through my days
like a metronome of grace

oh let me stay
may I faithfully remain
listen well with love
keep a vigil by his side
the best place for me to thrive

oh let me know
become wise, not shallow
learn how to live
full of compassion, like him
ready to help and to give

oh let me accept
how to live without regret
while I stretch my faith
note my own limitations
empowered by his strength

oh let me wait
when prayer seems unanswered
make space for grace
for God’s perfect timing
and sense his peace within
© joylenton

plea - oh let me know become wise, not shallow - prayer - plea poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“God can handle your doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusion, and questions. You can bring everything to him in prayer.” — Rick Warren

You can pray about anything. Nothing is too small or too great to bring to God. He hears the cries of our hearts and never becomes wearied by our need of Him. If you are having a hard time of things, please let me know so I can pray for you. You could leave a message here or email me via my contact page instead. It would be an honour to support you, my friend. Blessings and love. xo ❤️🙏🏻🌺

release: the pain and the gain of letting go

release - the pain and the gain of letting go - birds freed from a cage

These strange times we are in call for an eventual release, don’t they? Getting back to the world of school and work, perhaps. Returning to our usual activities in a new normality we’re still uncertain about.

I’ve been thinking about life’s many moments of small release, adjusting to our losses, a necessary  moving on and moving forward, including the great letting go we will all experience one day.

When the time comes

When the time comes, let it go,
learn to release each care,
each sorrow like so much
wheat chaff blowing in the wind,
being carried who knows where
or who knows when.

Do not cling too tightly to life
as if it were all you had
because a greater life, a better
love, a softer peace exists,
waiting beyond the blue
with its arms open for you.

Seek to live as truly, fully
and freely as you can,
while you stay mindful
of its transitory state,
of its preciousness,
its wonder, colour and grace.

Learn to love the sacred
ordinariness each day offers
you like a gift,
holding it close but not too
close, knowing it will end
swift as sun sinks vermilion
and a curtain of dark descends.

When the time comes
try to be prepared, ready
to release, as you thank
each gift, each person, each thing
that has meant something
for being part of your life.

Before it happens,
make sure that you get
to notice it all,
everything good, bad, indifferent,
because it has helped
to shape and form
the person you have become.

In the early years
you can be forgiven
for your nonchalance
and insouciance, but not
as you gather to your breast
loved ones, special relationships.

Later on, when the dandelion
clock is looking a little
threadbare, pared back,
let yourself reflect
on what has gone, what has
passed to bring you to Now.

As time elapses, seek to hold
lightly to it all,
to anything you value
and all you don’t
because they all count, they all
add up to sand in the hourglass.

So when the time comes
remind yourself of this:
how you have lived,
how you have loved,
and try to forgive yourself
if you think it isn’t enough.

Give yourself grace for being
a flawed human being
who is a delightful mix
of pulled together and mess,
because you’re learning to grow
before you can let go.

Finally, release all your worries,
concerns and stress, let them
tumble off your burdened back
and feel the weight
of your soul’s sheer emptiness.

As the hours nudge closer
to the time you half expect,
even as you look back
with a few regrets, may you
be light as air, bright and happy,
because from hereon? You are free.
© joylenton

release - when the time comes poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Our faith journey is a continual process of letting go of our extraneous stuff and holding tight to the hand of God. We release what doesn’t serve us well and receive the best He has in mind for us.

It takes wisdom and courage to let go but we don’t have to do it alone. God’s help is only a breath, a prayer away. Can I pray for you today, my friend? A load shared is a load lifted… ❤

release - letting go prayer (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

how: facing seemingly unanswerable questions

 

Questions abound as we watch the news and read reports that make us keep asking how and why, in a futile attempt to try to make sense of what seems senseless and beyond our ken.

Such  questioning thoughts have crowded into my mind, especially in recent months when world events have left me reeling for answers to questions I barely know how to express. Because not everything in life is cut and dried and man’s inhumanity to man is beyond understanding at times.

So I ponder and pray, particularly where injury, and worse, to children is involved. My heart breaks, tears flow and words follow close behind, as in the lament poem below.

Questions without answers

How do you not let your soul grow old, as
calloused as the soles of your feet, when you’re
forced to walk as one displaced, a person
despised for ethnicity and race, made
homeless, rootless, orphaned and lost
in so many ways?

How do you maintain hope when your throat
is always parched and your heart aches for
news of your beloved ones, feared dead, while
you trudge on seeking shelter, trying hard to
assuage the pain of dread?

How do you carry the weight of the world on
your stooped forward, wing-like shoulders, when you
can barely sustain the weight of unshed tears and
the loss you’ve endured, as well as the meagre
belongings you have procured?

How do you cope when there is not enough food to be
found to help a body survive, drink is a desperate word
and your children, who have learnt not to cry
or ask for it, scratch around with stones and sticks
for lack of anything else to amuse themselves with
while their tummies hurt?

How do you keep on believing sufficient help is at hand
and endure the humility of need and receiving, when
you have nothing to offer in return, apart from grateful
thanks, relief and your constant broken state, as you
become yet another faceless, nameless statistic
on TV and newspaper page?

The human spirit has to endure many things as it exists
in this world, but few are called to become uprooted like this
and turned into homeless, displaced souls, whose hope is worn
so low, stretched wafer-thin, whose mind and heart are heavier
than we could truly know or bear
©joylenton

Let’s pray…

Loving Father,
Although we know that nothing is hidden from your awareness, so much distresses our souls as we witness children, weak and vulnerable ones suffering at the hands of others.
Help us to see these atrocities as evidence of sin being unleashed in hearts that are far from you. Enable us to understand that evil unchecked is full of malice and pain.
Teach us to rest in your perfect peace, dwell close to your heart and seek to release our anxiety and fear, while being your love and compassion in action wherever we can.
May we be voices in the wilderness pointing to Jesus. May we believe that all sin meets its match in Him and all questions meet their answer there too. May we trust your Word and promises to be a safe haven for the lost, hurting and dispossessed.
Amen

**Friends, though we might feel helpless, we can raise awareness, pray, give practical aid or donate to help displaced refugees, like my favourite charity does**

rigidity: when God needs to soften our cold hearts

 

Winter creeps closer and my fingers and toes act like a weather barometer. They blanch to match the snow, with white tips and stiff rigidity, a bit like icicles needing thawing. ⛄❄

They can become frozen by nothing much at all— like the merest drift of cool air, even during summer months—and remain that way until the stinging throb of feeling returns again, with a bluey-red flush of blood.

It’s a bad circulation problem I’ve had since childhood, when chilblains were a literal pain and paved the way for seasons of chilled numbness thereafter. It is known as Reynaud’s disease or syndrome/phenomenon. I’ve got minor, permanent nerve damage in some fingertips due to the changeable blood flow over many years.

Contributory factors include having a mother who smoked throughout the pregnancy and being born prematurely. The good news is my heart stays hot because the core of who we are always gets the best blood supply! 💓😏

Being cold-hearted is not a helpful way to live. 💙 Having coldness or rigidity in our hearts and minds is an unattractive attribute and an indicator that we need supernatural help from God to thaw and warm us up again.

Rigidity

Flake by flake falls, blanketing a world in white, signalling
virginal innocence, and as yet untouched softness blessed
with holy awe, as we watch it fall and marvel at the miracle

Before long, newly cold wintry ground gives up its hold, turning
snow and ice to slush, rendering a hushed wonder into mud
and ridges of rigidity, much like our hearts when left alone

And there’s danger afoot when icy patches remain rock hard
causing many to curse, slip and stumble their way on slippery
soled, treacherous ground where no firm footing can be found

Months can slide by and the ground remains hard, unyielding
and resistant to touch, until a thaw of sorts takes place, sun creeps
higher in the sky of our thoughts and we creep closer to arms of love
©joylenton

 

Heavenly Father,

May you brace us to face each season with equanimity, despite chill winds of adversity blowing. Help us to not stay frozen in our emotions, or chilled within by pain, but have hearts receptive to and softened by your love.

Enable us to avoid cold rigidity in our thinking. May we be grateful for what we already have and open to receiving and welcoming the new and the next you are leading us into.

Most of all, Lord, thaw our attitudes and thoughts where they have become hardened, wearied by waiting. Remind us that during Advent, especially, there is a Holy purpose behind our pain and that new Life and Hope can be birthed in us again.

We give you our grateful thanks and praise as you lead us warmly back into experiencing your love, your wonder, joy and peace anew during the demands of this season.

Thank you. Amen

When we need a reminder

when we need a reminder PJ

Days can bleed softly into one another and we so often miss being able to see and sense the sacred in the secular.

Holy and hallowed moments meeting with us in the mundane. Whispers of God’s grace in the commonplace.

My heart’s longs to live with greater awareness. To have my eyes open to wonder. To be present to Presence.

To know that whether I feel anything or not, God is always present.

And His active, living presence is what my soul needs most.

I desire to recognise holy in the everyday. God at home in my heart and mind, rooted in life’s reality.

I want to live in the light of His presence as I walk through this world, sense His peace and love, know I am His beloved.

And I want to make space for the entrance of grace to change and transform my mess.

Remind me

Living Lord,

Remind me as I go through my days

to know that the Lord is in this place

Awaken me to wonder

Alert me to Your Love

Bring a deep, abiding sense

of Your peaceful Presence

Calm this restless heart

Still my anxious mind

And as I sit and absorb

may I rise and go forth

share the beauty and grace I see

witness to Your Life in me

©JoyLenton2016

I definitely need to be reminded of these things. Maybe you do too?

Centering prayer is helping me to have that focus on a daily basis. Here’s a link to a helpful app I am currently using for that.

I also read quite a few devotional resources, use this bible app and dip into this prayerful app too from time to time.

What helps you to focus on God’s presence?

How are you best reminded of His daily grace?

remind me prayer PJ file pin

For God so loved

for God so loved PJ

Although the Advent season is now at a close, the message it brings continues to influence and change lives.

God’s love is eternal, everlasting and ever-available to us.

During Advent we are drawn into the wonder of the Incarnation, Christ made flesh.

It also pulls us into the holy awe of Easter where Jesus was willing to die a painful death for us.

They are inextricably linked, eternally bound by God’s purposes and plans.

We cannot view the babe in the manger without catching sight of the cross in the background.

Love comes at a price, and none have paid so high a price as the Son of God Himself.

Jesus literally died for love of us.

The wonder of it never ceases…

For God so loved…

Dear heavenly Father,

You loved; You keep on loving; You are Love

Love divine, Love Incarnate, Love excelling all other loves

It is Your defining characteristic

the essence of who You are and how You act

How can I begin to fathom the depths of Your love?

How can I experience it in all its simplicity,

its fullness and rich complexity?

Only by revelation

Only by faith

Only by acceptance

Only by grace

I read about Your love in Your word and it amazes me

I desire to experience it more in my heart and life

Would You live out Your love in and through

this weak mind and body of mine?

Would You find a way to touch the lives of others

with its heat, its power and all-consuming fire?

I rest complete in Your love

Because I need nothing else

Everything flows from it

Your love is the starting point of faith

and will be with me beyond the grave

In humble gratitude, I give thanks for all

I have already seen, believed and received

of Your inexhaustible, unconditional love

and all that is yet to be known,

lived out and personally owned

Amen

©JoyLenton2016

for God so loved prayer PJ pin

“For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” ~ John 3:16

During the last few weeks I’ve been mulling over the new ‘word’ for the year which God whispered to my heart ahead of time.

He has made it clear that the emphasis for me for 2016 is to be ‘LOVE’.

To see how this has already affected me while I absorb its fuller implications, you can read this introductory post on my main blog, Words of Joy. 

I’m looking forward to seeing what insights are given in the months ahead and sharing some of them with you here.

Do you have a ‘word’ for the year? I’d love to hear what it is and how it affects you. Feel free to join in the conversation below.

Being cloistered

cloistered file image PJ

‘Cloistered’

Impatient, busy feet

cross the street from sunlight

to shade, preferring dark

in the shadowed cloisters

of their barren heart

They do not see You, still

and patient in their midst

Nor catch the uttered cry

light as butterfly wings

that sings into the air

already thick with Your words

Blind eyes and stone insides

remain mute to their touch

What will it take to make

a world awaken to

the wonder and glory of You?

©JoyLenton2015

Dear Father,

As the storms of life arise,

may we be cloistered within

your heart, kept safe and

sheltered within the calm blue

sea of your grace, held fast and

secure by the anchor of your

love and tethered to you by

faith and trust in Jesus

Christ our Lord

Amen

Friends, I’ve been cloistered inside for a few weeks, needing a time set aside for necessary recuperation and rest. And I want to say how much I appreciate your kind thoughts, comments and prayers as I’ve been recovering some energy.

I’m slowly discovering there’s no safer place to be than in the shadow of God’s wings. May you also find the help, support and comfort you need during your own seasons of withdrawing unto Him.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty (Whose power no foe can withstand). I will say of the Lord, He is my God; on Him I lean and rely and in Him I (confidently) trust!” ~ Psalm 91:1-2 (Amplified) 

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

A heart unfurls

as petals fall to ground file image

Grace grows strong in a heart full of gratitude.

As we sow thankfulness seeds we are rewarded with a deeper appreciation of life.

Yet our hearts can be so cold, shrivelled by worry, anxiety, fears.

Casting our cares seems to send them into orbit for nanoseconds before they return multiplied and heavier than before.

How can we learn to live fully and freely? Is there a way to have lasting peace, joy and contentment?

I’m slowly discovering that joy seeps in when my heart turns heavenward.

When I lean heavy on God’s grace and less on my own understanding.

Hope replaces discouragement the more I trust God to take care of things.

Feeding on His word nourishes my inner being.

Daily reflection on and remembering His #1000gifts is an exercise in maintaining a grateful heart.

There are days when He feels far away and I forget to pray. Try to do things in my own limited strength. Neglect to seek His guidance and wisdom.

Yet He stands patient, ready and willing to step in as soon as I allow Him entry.

An open heart is a place He desires to inhabit and fill to overflowing.

Our task is to see our emptiness and be willing to ask God to fill it. And as He fills us with His love, joy and peace they will overflow out to others.

Joining here with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday and with Mel for Essential Fridays. You are very welcome and warmly invited to take part.

‘A heart unfurls’

Circle of thorns

surround a heart curled small

self-protective, bud-tight

against assailing light

Alabaster jar breaks

releasing its sweet perfume

of death, burial, rising free

into the waiting room

Piercing cruel, sharp,

upon the brow so deep

scarlet-red begins to seep

Dripping soft and slow

new life from old

flames bright and grows

The heart unfurls

as gently, one by one,

its folds embrace the Son

Warmed by Love

its fragrance fills

scent of gratitude spills

as petals fall to ground

©JoyLenton2014

gratitude poem heart unfurls file pin image ~ FMF