Closer than a prayer

father and child ~ trust him image

‘Close’

Sometimes I..

feel quite lost, isolated and alone

despite having a loving husband,

family and friends to call my own

Deep down there is a space, a place

no one can really fill, where

tears are cried and often spill

Because we..

are built for sharing and community

yet feel afraid of others knowing

the ugly truth and full reality

of who we are and how we feel

inside, so we tend to pull and

shy away, conceal and hide

But you..

have a way of penetrating

the deep recesses of our heart

seeing all we are and can be,

understanding every part

Coming closer than a whispered prayer,

a breath exhaled, as you draw near

So please..

be here and

stay close to me

just as you have promised

you will be

©JoyLenton2014

 Linking here with Lisa-Jo, Lyli and Mel

close poem ~ heart image pin

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

Our friend

friendship post file image

Genuine friendship is a gift to treasure.

To proffer the hand of friendship to another is to offer yourself in support of their wellbeing, and open yourself to reciprocal attention, care and concern.

Feeling heard and understood is rare in a world that is often too busy to listen or too indifferent to care.

Multiple connection points are provided, but true friendship is a gift of grace.

When it’s all about what you do, who you are, what you look like and who you know, it provokes competitiveness, discouragement and despair at not fitting in with the world’s perceptions of who they think we should be.

As we get assessed, found wanting and bypassed, we can easily feel isolated, rejected and neglected.

So where does our security lie? Is it in the numbers of followers, fans, ‘likes’ and comments we receive?

No, far from it. It’s a shaky foundation indeed to build our self-esteem on other people’s fluctuating, fickle feelings.

Though it’s not all bad news on social media; it does have its positive side regarding friendships.

I’ve been greatly blessed by the wonderful on-line community of writers, poets and bloggers, M.E and chronic illness sufferers, and fellow Christians I have got to know and consider to be real friends.

They are genuine, giving and caring people who lift, encourage and help me come up higher. I thank God daily for them.

And I’ve been bruised by putting too much store on how people in general interact with me.

There is only one friend who will never let us down, always be there for us, consistently reliable, capable, loving unconditionally despite knowing all there is to know about us.

His Name is Jesus.

Our greatest Friend, Lord and Saviour.

And as my real life friendships often fall foul of the challenges presented by my having M.E ~ finding it hard to never know when I’ll be well enough to speak on the phone, be visited, or meet up ~ it is His friendship that means the most to me.

I’m joining here with Lisa Jo and other brave writerly souls  for the challenge of Five Minute Friday, where we write freely, letting words fall as they will with no deep reflecting, on this week’s topic of  ‘Friend’. You are very welcome and warmly invited to take part.

START…

‘Our Friend’

This friend

has arms stretched wide

forming an extended circle

of Love for you and me

This friend

calls us to His side

forming a fellowship of grace

as brothers, sisters, community

This friend

provides a safe place to hide

when life’s storms overwhelm

He is shelter from all harm

and balm for every calamity

This friend

will brook no boast or pride

in knowing Him, for all

are welcome to enter in

embraced, held, received

This friend

is Rock against the tide

of sin and shame

taking all upon Himself

when He died and rose again

to set us free

©JoyLenton2014

STOP.

friend ~ our friend poem file image pin

 

Mighty to save

When we feel able and capable, it is all too easy to think we can handle whatever comes our way.

We neglect to depend on God. We act like we can manage alone.

Sometimes He literally has to throw us to our knees to reveal our neediness.

Lately, my M.E symptoms have magnified and been accompanied by a persistent viral infection.

All of which has shown me how frail I can be and how much I lean on the Lord for strength each day.

There is great Hope in our helplessness.

There is reason to rejoice when we allow God to be strong and mighty on our behalf.

I sink grateful before Him, knowing all inspiration and ability to write, all energy and strength, all ability to live and love are God-given gifts.

He encourages us to abide in Him, rest in His loving provision, be upheld by His word and comforted by His Presence.

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,” says the Lord ~ Zechariah 4:6

‘Mighty’

Mighty oaks spring forth from tiny acorns

and each lake begins with a few drops

A swelling tide seethes from sprinkles

and you so easily forget such humble origins

or how My power is made perfect in weakness

as you despise your humanity, frailty

My hand will lift you out

of any quaking pit of fear

My arm will reach down

and hold you ever near

Standing strong in My strength alone

you are warrior-brave, courageous,

full of valour, confident, bold

Allow Me access to all vulnerable places

give Me the key to your heart

I see its quavering mustard-seed faith

and how it needs My power

to grow resilient,

unwavering ~ in every part

Let go your worries, anxieties, cares

and rest in My mighty cover of Love

shelter of protective prayer

equipping of grace from above

I will be strong in all the weak spaces

invading long-devastated places

to make you mighty ~ and to set you free

©JoyLenton2014

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” ~ Zephaniah 3:17

Mighty FMF poem pin

Five minute friday image

Linking with Lisa-Jo, Mel and Lyli

What’s in a name?

Have you ever chafed against the name you’ve been given? Wondered why or how it was chosen.

Felt you couldn’t live up (or down) to it. I have.

As my years have spanned out, confusion set in about my name.

Yes, I knew it came as a diminutive of my mother’s, was given by my father in a split-second, finger-pointing decision (I’m one of twins) , has had great implications for how I live as a Christian and how others perceive me.

Yet I have worried and wondered in turn as I have sought to live under its shadow, feeling oh so unworthy in a life marked more by pain and problems, sickness and sorrow than joy.

So when I saw the prompt for this week’s #fiveminutefriday link up, these thoughts immediately bubbled to the surface.

And I found myself asking God, “Why was I called Joy?”

He reminded me that it was a wonderful thing indeed to be able to say with great conviction, “The joy of the Lord is my strength” ~ and that remains my testimony. 

I came empty to a life of faith. I remain empty unless God fills me. His love, light, grace, mercy,  joy and strength are my daily necessities. Maybe they are for you too?

My witness is a life circumscribed by God’s continual comforting presence in every possible circumstance.

He brings hope and healing, joy and praise out of the darkest of places and days.

So I paused… prayed, and this is what I wrote  with the free releasing of thought and words characteristic of Five Minute Friday.

START…

‘Joy’

Without sorrow, joy wouldn’t seem such a shining light

Without adversity, joy wouldn’t be so strong and bright

Through pain and problems My purposes are revealed

and in dark times joy lies hidden, concealed

Arising as bulbs to greet the Spring

joy sits silent and calm within

until the moment when it comes forth

to demonstrate its exceeding worth

I made no mistake when I named you Joy

It was no cruel trick or devious ploy

but a knowing that soon your life would show

how the joy of the Lord helped you to grow

Now you no longer rely on fickle feelings

as you scrabble around in life’s dirty dealings

for joy is found in darkness deep and it

seeps to the surface when you need it most

bubbling over like waves on the coast

Though feelings come and feelings go

joy can remain in a heart’s warm glow

from the embers of your burning pain

it brings hope of renewal time and again

©JoyLenton2014

 STOP.

cresting the waves joy poem pin image

Names matter because we matter. Regardless of our given name, we can learn to live free by faith in the saving name of Christ. 

We all have a name of meaning and worth:God calls us His ‘beloved child’; we are ‘honoured and precious in His sight’, the ‘apple of His eye’ and  so much more besides.

It can be hard to live a joyful life in the midst of adversity, but it’s in those very places that God draws extra close to us.

Happiness is fleeting as a butterfly alighting briefly on our shoulder then taking flight.

Joy is a deep-seated well of contentment ~ regardless of circumstances ~ where we rest internally in the saving grace of God.

And we can experience it in the midst of the most demanding of situations. It’s a supernatural gift and blessing. One to seek, treasure and pass on to others by way of sharing our experience of the Source of all Life, Joy and Peace Himself. 

My hope and prayer is that you may be filled with a greater measure of it in the week ahead. For, no matter how long the night may seem, “weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” ~ Psalm 30:5. Each day can be a fresh start.

Joining with  Lisa-Jo and Mel

You are very welcome and warmly invited to join in.

Choices

Words flutter as birds in my head and I release them here.

Sometimes they fly free.

Other days they sit heavy on my shoulders.

Ears are tickled and nibbled.

Detritus is dropped and settling in occurs.

Until a gust of Holy Spirit wind encourages them gently forward.

And they take flight with wobbly wings of faith.

Such is today’s offering for Five Minute Friday where we write freely for 5 minutes on a given topic ~ no deep reflecting or editing, just poured out prose or poetry from the heart.

This week’s prompt is:’Choose’

START…

‘Choices’

Life isn’t as random as it may seem

when we sow our hopes, follow after our dreams

We have some say in who we become,

what we hear, see, read, take into our arms

I can choose to seek after my own way

or follow God’s path each and every day

I choose to seek love, mercy, God’s face,

as I relinquish rejection, shame and disgrace

I choose to pour my heart into this life

despite heavy challenges, struggles and strife

I choose to press hard into God’s best

and find peace as I relax into His rest

I choose to share my journey of healing

even though it’s painful, hard and revealing

I choose to stand up for what I know is right

and wade into those things worth the fight

I choose to give and give some more

in inspired poetic and prose outpour

To share my heart, my words, my dreams,

watch how God breathes His beauty and light

into all that seems out of reach, out of sight

©JoyLenton2014

 STOP.

“I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessing and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life.” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19

Joining here with Lisa-Jo Baker 

And with Jennifer as I too seek to give up (amongst other things) in this season of Lent: “the inner critic who bruises, the mirror that accuses, and the mental play-back that oozes with bad history” as part of releasing a heart indulgence ~ a ‘Love Idol’ creeping in and taking me away from loving God and loving others fully and freely.

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.

Here lies mystery

I’m trying to consciously make way for the Christ-child in my heart and life during this Advent season as I ponder the marvel and mystery of it all.

There is much we fail to fully comprehend.

So much that is infinite Divine mystery combined with human history.

Though the salient truth hits home time after time :He is here. Our Saviour is born. Christ has come.

The waiting is over.

Prophecy and history combine in the coming of the anticipated Messiah ~ our Lord Jesus Christ.

And that is all we really need to know, believe and receive for God to bring transformation to our lives.

So I am pondering these things in this last #fiveminutefriday post for 2013.

This week’s prompt is:‘Reflect’

START…

‘Here lies mystery’

Here lies mystery…

as Mary-like we ponder

with increasing awe and wonder

how the Lord of all history

enters our fallen humanity

Our God contracted to a span

incomprehensibly made man

taking on our earthly frame

as He would take on our sin and shame

Here lies mystery…

to consider and reflect on

as we enter the Advent season

preparing to celebrate

with mind and heart

all that Christmas

is intended to be

as God imparts a sense

of His great majesty

Here lies mystery…

deep, wide and long

as a sweet saving song

is sung by angels

in a heavenly throng

and shepherds awaken

as they hear and

awe-struck, terrified,

trembling, draw near

Here lies mystery…

as our lives are steeped

in everyday, ordinary,

and we feel replete

until we see we are

drained of fullness, incomplete,

before the Christ-child

so mild and lowly

offers His gift to all mankind

of salvation pure and holy

©JoyLenton2013

 STOP. (And I confess to having gone over time with this one)

Linking here, a little later than usual,  with Lisa-Jo Baker and all the other  brave ‘flying by the seat of our pants without worrying about perfection’ writers. You are very welcome and warmly invited to join in.

Growing strong

On a day when M.E symptoms are invasive, pain ever-present and mind fibro-fogged, I am thankful to God for enough energy and inspiration to join in (a little late) with the creative writing exercise that is Five Minute Friday.

Here, we forget about perfection and write free-flowing, as it comes, for 300 short seconds.

Then we link up to read one another’s work and offer encouragement, because that’s what it’s all about.

The prompt is:‘Tree’

START…

‘As oaks’

We sway, soft saplings weakly quivering in the breeze,

liable to snap, full of fragility, mere semblance of trees.

Supported, staked round, we swell slow

to sit rooted in solid ground.

Our branches thicken over years, becoming weather-resistant,

no longer so suggestive of disruption, surrender and tears.

Leaves begin to unfurl delicate to heat of Son

as sap runs through our bodies

and we expand to sing a universal song.

Tiime and tests strengthen our frame as we sit

rooted, deep in soil of Word and Name,

become as oaks ~ mighty, wide and strong,

encompassing, giving, enduring many years long.

Or bent and broken, storm~withered, dry and dying,

lifeless, weak, we sigh to ground,

longing for nourishment we need and seek.

Drinking deep draughts from waters of grace

and refreshment again, we rise high

 to tower over all our trials

and gain a view of heaven,

midst bare branches of a cross

stretched out for us.

©JoyLenton2013

STOP

“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees planted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers ~ never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season” ~ Jeremiah 17:7 – 8

Linking here with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. You are warmly invited and encouraged to join in.

Seeing clearly

Life can so easily throw us off balance.

All it can take is a word, a look, a thought, a new problem.

Seeking the truth of the matter can be challenging.

Our senses are alert, heightened by sensitivity.

How do we decipher truth from lies,  fact from fiction, knowing and believing from ignorance and misunderstanding?

When I keep my eyes focussed on my circumstances the pain can feel overwhelming.

I feel lost, alone, muddled and confused.

When I lift them to God’s word, seek His presence and listen to all He desires to impart to me, my eyes cease being clouded by suspicion, discouragement or fear and my vision becomes clear again.

My heart beats steady.

My thoughts begin to align more with His thoughts.

I am encouraged and strengthened to face another day, another problem, another set of unwelcome circumstances.

Taking off my worldly lenses and putting on spiritual ones helps keep my mind and heart tuned into His truth.

And the more I read, understand, pray, and believe God’s word, the more He fills me with a peace that transcends all circumstances.

I’m getting a bit philosophical here today as I join in with #fiveminutefriday ~ where we write freely, no worries about perfection, just for the sheer pleasure of seeing words fall on the page; then we link up, share the love, read one another’s posts and leave an encouraging comment ~  today’s prompt is:‘Truth’.

START…

‘Seeing and believing’

Mirrors lie.

They reflect what is incomplete

distort, show only in part,

unless you look into God’s mirror ~

His Word

will reveal all that is real

 deep and true, lasting, honest

messages from His heart

to you.

The world will have you believe

you are not enough, you are inadequate,

you’re not up to scratch,

not a player, not a winner, not up to much,

not a great catch.

But God…

says in His word you are dear, deeply loved,

someone He longs to draw near to,

bring comfort, help, heal and restore,

bring peace, hope and joy

to your life once more.

You are more than enough

you are His precious beloved

…..and that’s the Truth.

No matter how you may feel

try to cling to what is real

about life and love as seen in God

and trust His opinion above all others

~ even your own.

Believe, receive and grow strong

in all your soul longs to know.

You are loved and you belong.

©JoyLenton2013

Trust…Rest…Understand…Thank…Hope

STOP.

Linking here with Lisa-Jo Baker for #fiveminutefriday and with Laura at Missional Women #FaithFilledFriday

You are very welcome and warmly encouraged to join in.