beauty: we’re all made beautiful by God’s grace

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. No two people admiring a piece of art, lovely landscape, or a person, will see exactly the same features that are attractive to them. We all have our own viewpoint about what we define as beautiful.

Although we may not measure up to contemporary or classical definitions of physical beauty, we can be comforted by knowing that the inner beauty of our soul and character are the most enduring qualities to treasure.

Like many women before me, right from girlhood I have mourned my perceived lack of attractiveness. Society sets impossible standards for us to reach. As does advertising with its emphasis on outward perfection.

So it’s a huge relief to know—especially the older I get and the more invisible I feel— that God looks at us with eyes of unconditional love. He sees beauty in everyone. God gives us beauty for ashes and paints us with His loveliness.

Broken into beauty

I had beauty once but I didn’t even
know it, so I lived like one impoverished
sitting in dust, when I was really rich

I ached for difference, because
I couldn’t match the face I met
in the mirror with my preference

Instead, I honed in on the flaws
and saw plenty enough to keep me
occupied. Several imperfections

cried out loud and I bowed down
to their name, holding it all inside
where my real self sits, and I

could barely stretch to fit the skin
I was in, never mind making room
for all those needful improvements

And now? These days my gaze rests and reflects
on a God-given inner vision, more than
having derision for a fading outer face

I can see life’s manifold brokenness and pain
but beyond it all what shouts out most to me
is how God is breaking us into beauty again
© joylenton

 

**I’m grateful for God-given inspiration, as I join fellow wordsmiths in sharing my five-minute-friday thoughts for this week’s prompt of “beauty”. You’re welcome to join us here and read the great posts being shared.  🙂 

learning how to wait, stretch and grow

write31days-journeyingintojoy-passionfruit-growing

 

I spied passionflower fruit growing on a neighbour’s fence, marvelled at its bold colour, resilience and strength at a time when most other garden life was drab, dead or dying. Those golden globes hinted at summer indulgence combined with harvest bounty.

They brightened up my day each time I saw them. I wondered at the way God pours such delights and insights into plants. Because the more I thought about it, they held a secret lesson within.

In our stretching and growing toward the light seasons, we may have to wait a while, sometimes years, before fruit appears. Impatient as this might make us, we have to trust that God knows what He is doing.

The fruit of joy is no exception, though it can be sparked into life, or suppressed, by how we view and react to our lives and circumstances.

If I focus most on my pain, fatigue and problems, then before long I feel deflated at least, if not discouraged. Such things are an everyday, pressing reality that infringes on the hours, but I don’t have to let them become all I think about, or preoccupy so much space in my mind.

You and I can choose what to focus on the most – blessings or bad things, pain or purpose, joy or distress. Our days are moulded by what we stretch toward, those things that help us to grow most Christ-like, or not.

I discovered that passionflowers are in a botanical group called woody climbers. They cling to hedges, hang down from heights to reveal their magnificence. Flowers appear in summer through autumn, and they tend to lift their faces to full heat of sun, or sit calmly in dappled shade.

They are of a hardy disposition, bearing exposure to full frost and winter’s cruel cropping. However, despite stealing their tops away, winter cannot steal their ability to bloom again when new shoots appear in Spring.

Maybe you are going through a wintry season of the soul where all looks cropped and bare, and you wonder when fruit will appear again. Maybe you are growing impatient with seeing so little fruit of joy, or another fruit of the Spirit in your life.

These flowers and their beautiful fruit speak to us of having a beautiful purpose, a time to shine, a part to play in the garden of life, even when all feels dead around us. You are made to manifest God’s beauty within,  good godly fruit that is visible to others, if not always apparent to you.

No matter how long it takes, as we stay faithful where God has placed us, fruitfulness will arise, though it’s often invisible to our own eyes. But the beauty of it will be a golden glow of grace to others seeking God’s face.

31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badge

Welcome to #day4 of 31 days of journeying into joy.

How does your focus affect your joy and happiness?

Please share below…

 

write31days-journallingintojoy-fruit-passionflowers

Out of mist

december mist

Waking up to morning mist, I sense the otherworldliness of its obscurity.

Sight is dimmed. Senses dulled as dishwater.

Lost in fog. Muffled morphed outlines rising as shadows.

No compass points defining end from beginning.

December chill making body feel stilled as statue.

And here am I… frozen in poetic thought as the kettle boils hot…

As mist

Watching steam clouds billow reminds me
how our lives are but mist in lens of eternity
our deepest desires and dreams, hopes and schemes
in danger of being fizz, evanescence become
melting puddles of deliquescence
seeping into nothingness.


And all pleasures rise high as steam
then fall away as vapour dissipating
into darkness too dense for us to hold.
For all is fleeting, all is change, all is meeting place
where we surrender our goals and plans,
then taking up God’s gift of grace
we can sink restful, with trusting sigh,
leaving all to be rearranged by His loving hands.


He gathers every scattered act and thought
to make-over, remould good and true,
weaving them into a tapestry of His own design
where nought is wasted
only caught, drawn fine and new into
a lasting beauty to behold.
©JoyLenton

Misted wintry days remind me of how fleeting and changeable our dreams and schemes can be.

Though all desires surrendered to God become enlarged at His hands and so much more than we ever envisaged.

Happiness can vanish in an instant, ephemeral, lost in the ether.

Lasting, solid joy is found in relationship with God and following His ways for our lives.

He transforms everything by His grace. Makes us come alive on the inside.

Making beauty from brokenness, from the scattered ashes of our lives.

as mist poem pin image

Seeing beauty in the everyday

countryside flowers ~ file image WoJ

Sometimes we don’t have to travel far at all to see the wonder of the world.

It’s right here, on our doorstep.

Well within our vision.

There is beauty in the everyday.

Cause to celebrate the commonplace.

Eyes enhanced by grace see more than meets the eye.

Blessings abounding for the discerning.

We learn to marry the marvellous with the mundane.

I have had my eyes opened to enchantment.

My soul woken to the wonder woven through each day.

Being housebound means that each opportunity and ability to leave the confines of four walls is reason to rejoice.

Yes, even in a hospital waiting room, a trip to the doctor or the dentist! Surprising encounters can lift our days if we look for them.

I record #beautyintheeveryday on my Instagram feed as memory markers for darker, gloomier days.

All around we are offered opportunities to see life and to see it whole, to witness the outpouring of God’s goodness, glory and grace.

A short journey gives me a chance to see abundance of new life as sap rises in Spring, sultry, hazy, lazy days of Summer unfold, Autumn reveals her golden-clothed splendour, and Winter creeps its silvery, icy fingers on the land.

The poem below is celebrating my brief trips out in recent months, with a wistful looking forward to future ones.

‘Sightseeing’

countryside view

I didn’t travel far

beyond my front door

Just sitting in the car

delighting in the things I saw

Landscapes, clouds and sky

spoke out God’s beauty

to me as I watched

and sighed. And trees

bloomed fresh and green

then shed their coat of leaves

in russet-gold of varied hues

midst fluffy-white and cobalt-blue

I didn’t get to see

or smell the salt-tanged air

of sea, or watch as

waves rose and fell

upon the sand

Though my heart desires

to see the coast

and ponder on eternity

as life swells forth

in ebbs and tides

amongst the surf

unto infinity

©JoyLenton2014

coast ~ PJ file pin image

Where we see holes

holes ~ tankaHow do you see your life?

Maybe, like mine, it’s full of holes.

Areas of unfulfilled plans, uncertainty, pain and turmoil sit side by side with love, laughter and joy from above.

And those messed up places look like empty, wasted spaces in what could be a full and flourishing patch.

Garden grown crazy, weed-ridden. Can’t see the wood for the trees.

Only.. Light has a way of seeping through, turning fallowed into hallowed ground.

Bringing beauty out of ashes. Joy from despair.

Grace-occupied space is never wasted.

Here lies hope, potential, holy ground.

New life to come from the old.

A making way for growth and harvest in due time.

Let’s see it and believe it. Trust our days and ways to God.

Look for colour and brightness in the darkest of spaces.

See its fronds filtering through. Realise there is purpose in the midst of pain. New life is springing forth.

Promise poking through those holey places, held fast by the glue of His grace.

Bringing transformation, change and healing.

holes ~ tanka poem pin 2

 

Calling for hush

There’s a signal, a flow.

A day moves forward.

Earth slows.

Cease from hurry and rush.

Light fades and dies.

We breathe out.

A silent sigh.

Holy hush..

dusk ~ toward evening tanka poem pin

 

And we listen.

Hear more than eyes can see.

Make space for a greater reality.

God calls time on our day.

No matter what has taken place, we can be thankful for His blessings.

Be awed by His unlimited, unconditional love, His unmerited, undeserved favour ~ poured out freely.

Rest from our labours and prepare to face a new tomorrow.

Receive manna and grace to begin again.

 

Little things count

It’s so often the little things that count the most.

A smile at just the right time.

A squeeze of the hand.

A word in due season.

The look in a loved one’s eyes.

A surprise visit or gift.

We value what brings unexpected, unanticipated pleasure, joy and delight.

It’s all the more special for being a surprise.

Or even an everyday occurrence coming into sharper focus for us as we view it anew.

Yet we so often go through our days unheeding the tiny glimmers of grace which God has strewn along our way.

When our eyes are open to the world around us, we can live with a deeper sense of gratitude and praise for all that our Creator God has lovingly fashioned and made.

‘Little things’

Despise not the little things

dew-dappled leaves, hen’s eggs and sparrow’s wings

cumulus cloud now spread thin as entrailed cotton wisps

with no discernible hint of moisture within

Golden patch of sun, scent of rain, a new day begun

as earth shifts into motion once again

with rooster crowing bringing breakfast to mind,

for creatures of every kind clamour to be fed

and given swift their daily bread

Cooling breeze on our extremities as seasons

morph their mosaic coloured hand

upon this ever-changing land

Such things may not amount to much

in mind or eye for you and I

though God keeps careful count

And if we do take note with eyes wide open

to the daily grind we find expectation rise

and cease doing things so much by rote

as we pause afresh in wonder, marvelling

at God’s hand in all we’d cast asunder

when with averted, unconcerned gaze

going blithely dulled, ignorant and unaware

about our moments, hours and days

of all the beauty that little things can bring

to all our thoughts and ways

©JoyLenton2013