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! 🙂 

prompt: a way of easing back into writing after taking a break

A blank page can be rather daunting, can’t it? When you want to ease yourself back to writing again after taking a break, there’s often no better way than by responding to a creative prompt. It helps that someone else has done the initial thinking work for you! Though Holy Spirit inspired listening to life is invaluable to me too.

One of my favourite creative prompts to dive into after resting my words for a while is the Twittering Tales series—where we write within Twitter’s character limit restraints in response to a photograph—hosted by my delightfully eclectic poetic friend Kat Myrman, especially because images so often stir creative juices in me.

Today’s offering is more light-hearted than usual and has veered in the direction of both poetry and prose. I hope it inspires you to have a go yourself….

photo by leoperezwildadventure – courtesy of pixabay.com

Few stopped to savour the glorious view spread out before them, or note the delightful sounds of wildlife in the dense vegetation, intent instead on clicking their cameras, thinking only of how they would share some stunning images on social media to impress their friends with.

(278 characters)

cameras poised and eyes peeled
they had no inkling of how their
canoe was sinking, letting in water
enough to pool and wet them well

they were so enchanted by the scenes
before them, and those to come, that they
ignored the feeling of soggy feet until, too
late, it became waist deep at least

(280 characters)

Bearded hipster Harry sat in the back with his face set and grim. He didn’t want to spoil their fun but he knew his situation was getting desperate. As the vessel keeled this way and that as they turned excitedly, he felt his stomach contents protesting with their every movement.

(280 characters)

What helps prompt you to write or helps you to restart after a creative lull? I’d love to hear in the comments below. If you would like to join in you can find Kat’s beautiful blog here and this week’s Twittering Tale prompt here* Enjoy!  🙂

cross: the counterintuitive way of the cross that sets us free

The way of the cross seems counterintuitive. Who would willingly walk to such a gruesome, painful death? Who could endure the ultimate, agonising sacrifice of a totally self-surrendered life? Not one of us, I would bet.

But it was the route Jesus took to restore us back to the Father’s side. It was a pathway paved with lavish love and grace. It created a shift in the heavens and altered our perspective on earth thereafter.

Jesus willingly yielded His life so that we could personally experience God’s unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness, His poured out grace for the human race. He had the joyous end view in sight of many sons and daughters sharing His eternal Home and glory to come.

His surrendered sacrifice inspires us to persevere in our own walk of faith, keeping the cross before us to remind us of the price Jesus paid to set us free from sin, guilt and shame.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

My haiku sequence vignette was written as a poetic response to these thoughts and a way to try to describe the indescribable, while recognising we are entering into the heart of the mystery of our salvation.

The way of the Cross

the way of the cross
is counterintuitive
we see surrender

and self-sacrifice
from Christ’s freely poured out life
as rivers of blood

mingle to become
oceans of mercy and grace
for the human race

and joy rises up
as he drinks the bitter gall
from death’s lifted cup

to yield his last breath
into Father’s loving hands
as curtain is torn

and darkness descends
making witnesses fearful
feel lost and bereft

their Saviour seems dead
but it is not over yet
for he rises from death

there’s an empty tomb
Resurrection has come
hope for everyone
©joylenton

Let’s rejoice with the Newsboys’ song and say our own “Hallelujah for the cross!”

PS: I’m also honoured to have a Good Friday reflection and poem featured on the Godspace community blog. Just click here to read it. And If you would like to slowly ponder the enormity of it all, you can join in with the Lectio Divina reading below that focuses on Isiaiah 53: 3-6. May God bless you with His amazing love, joy and peace this Easter, my friend! 🙂 ❤

dust: our origins and state are redeemed by God’s grace

 

We may have entered Lent with dust ashes symbolically smudged on our foreheads, revealing we are dusty people in desperate need of a Saviour. God’s Light penetrates to show us the way to live and love with the freedom and compassion only He can bring. Our dust mote souls dance in its radiance.

Thankfully, Jesus didn’t come to wag a finger and point out our flaws, faults and failings. He already knows them all too well. The human heart is no mystery to Him. He came to rescue lost souls. To restore us back to the Father. To make us His own brothers and sisters by faith. To declare we are not forgotten but are deeply loved.

We may have begun our journey in a heavy-hearted way because the road to Calvary is always paved with pain. We each carry our own cross, often without realising it. But there is anticipation of joy to come.

There is cause for celebration. There’s a brighter future at stake and awe and wonder await all who come carefully and prayerfully, with growing awareness of why Jesus came to earth. Skies may darken soon but our souls grow lighter with every step.

Because we know our Redeemer lives. He has ransomed us from Satan’s clutches. He has set us free from sin’s steely grip. He has given us a new heart. A fresh start. Hope for today and into eternity. Love that will not let us go. Love that has paid the price so that God’s sons and daughters can live in close relationship with Him.

We remember we are people of the Cross, pilgrims on a pathway of faith and sojourners on earth, with our feet rooted in dust, in daily toil and concerns, but with our hearts set on an eternal purpose. It’s one we can scarcely fathom, though the mystery is an essential part of the journey itself.

 

We become changed from the inside out. Renewed, with an altered perspective and heart and an awakened desire to be who God always intended us to be: the best version of ourselves. Though we came from dust, we are destined for a glorious eternity with God.

Being dust

We begin as dust and ashes, red-based Adamic clay, ready
to be shaped and moulded by unseen hands, waiting
on breath of Life to blow as holy wind, naming
our earthen vessel souls as Man

We remain fragile, easily cracked and broken, full
of holes, etched with crevices, edged hard, made
soft with grace, gritty from frequent handling, soiled
yet bearing our Master’s hallmark

We are God’s handiwork, his creative vision, expressed
in tents of flesh—prone to wounds, rips and tears, weak
as water—we think we’re strong and capable
but only when he makes us so
©joylenton