Lost and found

busyness ~ lost and found PJ

Something has got lost in our increasingly busy, frantic lives.

We’ve forgotten how to detach from activity.

Neglected to resist the lure of the urgent over the important.

Taking time out just to ‘be’, to pause and breathe slow is rare.

Hours spent hunched over screens is making us more concerned with what’s in front of us than what’s going on in our hearts.

How can we see the way ahead when eyes are glued downwards?

Maybe we need a break, to lose ourselves in the inner life instead of outer activity.

Read a book, rest, relax, pray perhaps.

Perhaps we’d hear echoes in our hearts, reminders of our need for God.

Listening could take the place of continual noise.

In the silence we encounter ourselves as we truly are.

And that can be alarming.

But we also allow space for God to enter in.

We find what our souls have always been looking and longing for.

And that can be life changing.

‘Lost and found’

Lost in busyness

occupation, activity,

endless toil, never at ease

Lost in despair

hopelessness, gloom, misery,

failing to see God can set us free

Lost in dreams

hopes, schemes and plans,

missing the best from His hands

Lost in sorrow

sadness, grief and pain,

He comes close to us again

Lost in ourselves

our lives, our world,

waiting for future to be unfurled

Lost and alone

in the midst of a crowd

voices sounding harsh and loud

Lost and found

when we release our cares

let go the burden of years

Lost in Love

when He calms our soul

comforts, cleanses, makes us whole

Lost in peace

we cease from anxiety, worry,

relax in His Presence

no rush, no hurry

©JoyLenton2014

Linking here with Lisa-Jo, Laura and Mel

lost and found ~ PJ MS image pin

You need hands

hands ~ FMF PJ file image 1

Hands can reveal so much about a person.

Their age, gender,  ethnicity, relationship status, occupation, even potential or actual health problems.

Mine shout out that I’m a woman of mature years with joint distortion caused by arthritis (amongst other things).

I would love to have plump, smooth, pretty, ultra feminine hands… sigh. ūüė¶

But, much as  the circumstances of my life affect my body in general, they are also apparent on my hands.

When I was a child I caught my thumb in a mangle and the nail has been bent ever since.

When I worked as a nurse, I washed and washed these hands multiple times over the years, used antiseptic gel, alcohol wipes, and wore rubber gloves.

All of which contributed to the dryness and aging-before-their-time appearance.

It means I conceal rather than reveal. Hide them in my lap. Feel like they belong to someone else, someone older.

They are partly alien to me. I gaze at them with bewilderment some days. How did they get like this? I may be a grandma now but I dislike looking like one!

Yet they could also suggest a practical person who has used her hands, cared for others,  been busy, worked hard, not been afraid to do dirty tasks or chip a nail. 

These days, I can do very little in the practical daily living tasks, beyond basic self care. I need help to keep house and home together.

I am so grateful to be able to scrawl, write, type (albeit badly and slowly) and put these weary, worn, stiff and painful hands to some use again.

And as I reflect upon my changing hands and changed life, I remember hands scarred and rendered helpless, yet ones that transformed my life and eternal destiny, just as they can do for you.

‘Hands’

Hands conceal, reveal, plunder and steal,

reach out and take, gesticulate,

touch tender, become shield and defender,

hug, hold close, achieve the most

They can make, break, defile, wound and stain,

cause harm, alarm, revulsion and pain

Hands pierced fierce to a cross of wood

are the ones that treat us as they should

Arms of Love nailed to a tree

securing mercy, forgiveness and victory

Hands that gentle, soothe and hold

us closer than any brazen and bold

These hands scarred forever by the cross

will never cause us hurt or loss

They reach out across time and eternity

offering help, hope, healing to you and me

comfort, consolation, joy from despair,

goodness and grace seeping everywhere

They are the loving hands of God

welcoming us to the path He trod

Come, take His hand

Come, walk His path

Come, be held safe

through your time on earth

©JoyLenton2014

Linking here with Lisa-Jo for #fiveminutefriday This week’s prompt is:’hands’ ¬†You are very welcome and warmly invited to join in.¬†Also joining with Mel and Laura¬†

hands ~ FMF file image 2 pin

Mosaic of a marriage

mosaic image for PJ mosaic of a marriage

 

Nobody can fully appreciate or understand the dynamics, anatomy and intricacies of a marriage, apart from the couple intimately involved in it.

And even then, much remains a holy mystery.

We are husband and wife, friends and lovers joined together in union and communion with God and one another.

Two become one in mind, body, soul and spirit in a divine alchemy of grace.

My marriage is heavily grace-dependent.

My background, experiences and personal problems have gradually made me someone other than the relatively carefree young woman I used to be.

As I’ve tried to work through a legacy of dysfunctional family life, childhood abuse, guilt and shame, (and the mental health breakdown they gave me) the one linked inextricably with me has also lived through it all.

Now, after more than 20 years of having M.E and chronic illness, my ability to be the wife he needs and wants is hampered further still.

Though we have struggled a great deal (and continue to do so), some things shine out bright and clear as I look back over the years:

Love will always find a way where there seems to be no way.

Faith can endure all things if it’s faith rooted in God and His sustaining power.

Hope may wither but it rarely dies.

Joy comes in unexpected places and circumstances.

Grace is a prerequisite for a godly life and marriage.

God gives us all we’ll ever need ~ even if we rarely have all we want.

In musing on these things over the last few days it is no great surprise that my mind turned to this territory to write about today.

And as I do so, I rejoice over the masterpiece God is creating out of the messy mosaic of my life and marriage.

‘Mosaic of a marriage’

Nothing in our courtship could have prepared

our youthful, hopeful, joy-filled hearts

for the prolonged grief and pain we’ve shared

or the need for so many fresh starts

Nothing in my mind could have foreseen

how very hard and challenging

living with me would have been

more your worst nightmare than dream

For we have been tried and tested

as gold goes through the fire

refined, processed and sifted

retaining heat, passion and desire

Nothing I can say will make up

for numerous ways I’ve let you down

You’ve had a bitter pill to swallow

gaining a face wreathed with frowns

But we, who are nothing without

the sustaining power of God

have finally made Something

of this life and path we’ve trod

Given grace from the One

who pours out His love every day

Given faith to persevere

when nothing’s gone our way

So I love you imperfectly

just as I am

and you’ve accepted my offering

a meagre nothing to the feelings

found within my man

Thank God for new beginnings

Praise Him for being true

Give Him the glory for making

faithful, if faltering, lovers

out of me and you

©JoyLenton2014

Joining with Lisa-Jo for #fiveminutefriday (yes, I ran over time!) ~ this week’s prompt is:‘Nothing’.¬†You are very welcome and warmly invited to join in. Linking also¬†with Mel and Laura

You can read more about how the issues above have affected my marriage in this post from Words of Joy.

I share openly in the hope of encouraging others to know they can live with and rise above their circumstances by the grace of God.

mosaic of a marriage file image on PJ pin

Seeking sanctuary

We all need a safe place to vent. Let off steam. Be ourselves, warts and all.

Be real and authentic in sharing life and faith issues.

Consider the question, “Is there room for my tears here?” being asked by Diana Trautwein this week.

We read in the shortest verse in Scripture, “Jesus wept” ¬†~ John¬†11:35.¬†¬†Succinct words speaking volumes. He was unafraid to be authentically open and human. Giving us a¬†pattern for being fully human and fully alive unto God.

Our tears are a soul’s lament. Reminder of our weakness, frailty and humanity.

If we try to keep them hidden they still find  a way to rise, unbidden, to the surface.

Revealing deep emotion at the core ~ joy, pain, vulnerability, sadness and grief. The very heart of who we are.

Though we find ways to choke them down and bid them drown in their inner stream.

In the unraveling of life, thought and years, we soon discover our safety and security is found primarily in God alone.

As a body of believers in Christ we are joined by links of love and shared endeavour in the fight of faith.

We’re all invited to enter in, embrace God’s gift of grace seen in Jesus’ suffering, pain and loss for our sakes.

We’re welcomed to a place of love and acceptance. A hospital for the hurting ~ only some churches hide that pretty well.

I’m too weary and worn out to try to¬†pretend I’ve ‘got it all together,’ and too desiring of being a voice for those who are hurting to stay silent in my small-corner obscurity.

Because in the end it comes down to how much we love and are loved.  How much we are willing to give to one another.

Make room in our own woundedness to walk the road with others who are weak and in pain. Be a sanctuary for the seeking, the saved and those sick in body, mind or heart. 

Weep with those who weep. Rejoice with all who rejoice. Lift and uphold each other in prayer. Come alongside and be Christ’s ambassadors in caring for all in need.

The poem below expresses my hopes about being part of the body of Christ, what I am currently experiencing as a member of some lovely supportive writing and friendship groups and the reflective, sharing¬†‘Living the Questions’ group over at Diana’s place.

Although this is the type of welcome we could (and probably should?) be extending to all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

‘Invitation’

Your tears ~ whether of joy or sorrow ~ will find a welcome here

Your questions and fears for tomorrow we too will share

Your faith journey and experiences in all their rich variety

serve to enrich and inform us of all we still can be

Your need for speaking out in a friendly space

can be met here in this ~ a safe and open place

Your desire to listen, reflect and ponder deeply

is found in this forum and sacred sanctuary

©JoyLenton2014

Sadly, many feel disappointed, discouraged, sidelined, ignored, bruised, hurt and wounded by church. Perhaps we forget we are all imperfect¬†‘works in progress’. This prayer may help. It was written in support of all wounded warriors.

There should always¬†be room for tears ~¬†and laughter, joy, hand-holding, lifting up, coming alongside, praying, caring and sharing as we aim to be ‘Jesus with skin on’ for one another.

Joining here with Diana, Mel, Laura and Lyli

Living freely

Aren’t you relieved there are no identi-kit¬†Christians?

We don’t have to look or sound alike.

Having unity together is more about fellowship and being united in love than having full agreement on more than the fundamentals of our faith.

We are allowed to be ourselves. See wood where others see trees. Sense Holy Spirit’s presence in a variety of ways.

God meets us right where we are, at our point of greatest need.

He chased me and wooed me with His unconditional Love.

It was something I’d never encountered before, but my empty, old before its time, desperate-child heart yearned for it.

Here was safety. Here lay security. Here flowed acceptance and peace.

And I came to faith in a ‘happy-clappy’ environment where joy and exuberance were the order of the day.

I wore ‘Jesus Loves Me/You’ stickers, a big grin, innocent optimism in sharing my new-found life in Christ, and a profound gratitude toward God for the glorious gift of salvation.

So I continued for a little while until mental health breakdown, partial recovery, followed by life’s multiple challenges, another breakdown and a haunting legacy of childhood abuse sucked all the joy out of life.

Depression and emotional pain skewed my thinking, clouded my judgement, and left me lost in the wilderness for many years.

Where did God feature? Was His love enough? Was it my fault?

A slow recovery took place and I had a fresh revelation of grace. I drank it deep into my very being as soul manna and sustenance.

But having begun my faith journey majoring on love and forgiveness, I was still largely ignorant of sin and reluctant to speak or think about it. This woman was already stained by her past, full of guilt, shame, self-recrimination and condemnation. And God loved her anyway. 

Because, wasn’t God a God of love? Didn’t grace and forgiveness cover all?

Oh yes.

Though grace is cheapened if we fail to fully appreciate the price Jesus paid to secure it for us.

Now, a little older (and wiser maybe?), though I still struggle with self-esteem issues and will always veer the conversation round to grace and encouragement than otherwise, it is gradually dawning on me how sin cannot be ignored or swept away.

And I am still getting my head around how to achieve the balance between hating sin yet not hating myself. Maybe you get stuck there too?

My soul seeks freedom from all that chained me and those things enslaving me now.

I want to embrace grace and be free to give it to others.

So I am leaning into His love as I think. question, talk about sin’s effects and outworkings, see how fallible and tainted I am and yet (marvellously) so dearly loved and cherished by our heavenly Father ~ just as you are too.

******

Here is a ‘Prayer Whisper’ which God poured into my listening heart last February. It still speaks volumes to me and I hope it will bless you too:

file000402181324“How easily you can fool yourself that you’re not sinning. To justify your actions with excuses and cover-ups.

Allow My Holy Light to shine upon your thoughts, words and deeds. Do not be afraid of its consuming power. It will not harm you.

I seek only to burn off the dross and detritus you carry. Such things weigh you down, sully your relationship with Me and sour your interactions with others.

I want to set you free, even from those burdens you have barely noticed as such ~ so familiar have they become.

It is only in the cleansing which follows letting go and laying down that real change and transformation can happen.

Bad habits pollute your mind and body. Once you are able to set them down before Me, you can begin the process of breaking free from them.

Open yourself. Be real before Me. I already know everything about you. Seek to live freely and lightly in the liberty of My Presence.

My purity and power are available to enable and equip you for the next stage of your journey.”

********

“The fact that God is love, that He is pure, holy and righteous is the reason why He is angry at sin. It violates, distorts, and destroys what His purpose is. Wrath is inevitable to a God of love, otherwise the love would be tenuous and weak” ~ Charles Price ‘My Daily Journey with Christ’¬†

Joining here with Diana and other questing souls as we are #LivingtheQuestions and #LivingintotheAnswers

This week’s question:”What’s with all this talk about sin?” ¬†You are very welcome to hop over and join in the discussion.

Also linking with Mel and Laura

Fuel to light a fire

In these dark days of Winter we need all the help we can get to stay hopeful and encouraged.

Some seasons of the soul have their own gloomy aspect.

Fog swims in to cloud our vision.

Hope gets lost. Despair can set in. Depression is at its heels.

How can we encourage ourselves? Here are a few ideas:

Stay focussed on the positive. There is always a glimmer of light somewhere.

Keep a daily gratitude journal.

Nurture yourself inwardly and outwardly.

Feed on God’s word.

Seek the balm of friendship and support from loved ones.

Finding ways to help and encourage others will restore joy to our own souls too.

Some more thoughts on encouragement for #fiveminutefriday where we pour out words as God gives grace:

START…

‘Encouragement’

Encouragement is the fuel which lights a fire

of hope to all our dreams and desires.

Life can seem worth living again

under the sprinkle of its refreshing rain.

A word in due season can impart

a soothing balm to a broken heart,

Holy oil to bathe wounds and hurts

as it pours into everywhere we insert.

Life-giving, enhancing, gift and grace

to anoint and energise us for our race.

Whether by caring word or deed

we sow love and kindness seed.

And it gives and gives and gives some more

returning to us when we’re wretched and poor,

lighting a spark when energy is low

providing far more than we’ll ever know.

So God encourages us all to strive

to pour this gift into another’s life ~¬†

A listening ear, understanding, a hand to hold,

words and actions together make it twofold;

let it be given as we also enjoy receiving

the reassurance it offers to keep on believing.

©JoyLenton2014

STOP.

Joining here with Lisa-Jo, Mel and Laura and other brave and bold creatives as we share what God lays on our heart .

And for further encouragement ~ because don’t we just need it? ~ here’s a link to my writer friend James Prescott’s site where he specialises in the subject and has some great free resources to offer you too. Just click on his name to be taken there.