one: encouraging incidences of the number one

one _ encouraging incidences of the number one - magpie on the edge (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

So many of us mistakenly think that our lives don’t amount to much. We wonder if we make any mark on the world at all, or if we simply exist as lost and invisible souls. No more than a fleeting mist or blip in the universe.

Can I encourage you today, my friend? Can I help you to see past the easily swallowed lies of the enemy? Because the holy truth you need to hold on to is that you are infinitely important and precious. Yes, you really are. Despite what your unhappy upbringing, challenging circumstances or painful past might be saying to you, you are very much loved and wanted by God.

The mathematics of heaven are totally different to the arithmetic of earth. Here, one as a number seems too small, too insignificant to count. But in heaven? One person, one act or thought becomes highly significant in God’s economy.

one - Mother Teresa quote - “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” @poetryjoy.com

Here’s what I have discovered:

  • A word of encouragement can turn a day, if not a life around.
  • A whispered prayer can summon angels, demolish evil strongholds, heal and bless souls.
  • A thoughtful act can alter a person’s perspective for life.
  • A kind deed has the power to sow kindness seeds in others.
  • A single person can become a precursor for change.
  • A solo individual is never as alone as they may feel.

Incidences of the number one

We have one solo magpie,
one solitary bird,
quite happy in his loneliness

as he sits upon the tiles,
gracing our neighbour’s rooftop
edge with his dancing moves.

And we have one small child,
who lives across the street from

us, whose smiles and constant
chatter are like joy personified.

We also have one precious grandson in
our lives, who gives us deep soul delight.

And there’s far more than one chance to live
aright in this one wild and glorious life.

But most of all, I am grateful to know
the One who holds the world within his
hands, who spins planets and stars and

pours his grace out on one and all, with
joyous abundance and exuberance.

For he spreads his arms cruciform-wide
to encompass every nation and tribe.

And he treats each and every one of us
as his precious, esteemed and redeemed
child – one who is unconditionally loved.
© joylenton

We may feel inadequate and small but we can still have an influence and make a difference in the lives of others. Don’t let thoughts of lack deter you from pressing forward in life and faith. You count. 

I’m grateful to be sharing my poetic thoughts with the fabulous five-minute-friday community today. Just click here to join us there. 🙂 

one - Mother Teresa quote _We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop._ @poetryjoy.com

burden: chained by circumstance but freed by grace

burden - chained by circumstance, freed by grace @poetryjoy.com

There are days when our burdens, be they physical or emotional, become impossible to ignore. Days when we feel consumed by the weight of them. Chained to our hard circumstances. Dragged down into a dark place.

I prefer not to talk too much about having chronic illness, although it’s an inescapable fact that faces me each day. It demands enough. It has stolen too much. So much that I tend to want to ignore its presence and pretend I am fine, doing okay, even when I’m not.

It feels better to plaster a smile on my face and seek to maintain a positive outlook on life. It seems less bothersome, less of a burden to fight the good fight of faith and try not to yield to dismay. Or give in to self-pity.

But sometimes? Sometimes I am just too tired to fight against the pain. Sometimes I just want to sit and cry. Sometimes I lose sight of my loving Saviour sitting in the ashes with me, holding out His hands to receive.

Because God doesn’t want us to bear our burdens alone. He longs for us to turn to Him. To offer up our pain and problems like a fragrant thing. Because sometimes it’s truthfully all we are able to give to Him. And that’s okay. It really is.

Burden

fear nibbles at the edges of her soul, like a rat
aboard a sinking ship that leaks, lists and tips
because she has woken to face yet another
pain filled day, unrefreshed in every way

her spirits are plummeting fast and her heart
contracts as she thinks about the future, for
she longs above anything else not to become
a burden to others or to those she loves

during these days of increasing debility
and weariness, she can often forget
just who she should be handing all her
heavy burdens over to—until he speaks

with whispered reassurance in his voice
to her hurting soul—while he pours the balm
of hope into her heart, forcing fear and
discouragement to flee, and she falls

further, on bended knee, when Jesus
tenderly reminds her once again that
every burden handed over to him will
not only lessen the load on her soul

it will also miraculously transmute
into a blessing by faith, shaping her
perception, if not her situation in life

and so she prays, tears welling up in her
eyes, and she gives praise like a willing
sacrifice—in spite of nothing visible yet

taking place, she has already tasted his
goodness and grace, and sensed the difference
inside, where calm and peace now abide
© joylenton

We might not feel like it but we can learn to praise God in the storm, sense His presence with us and gain comfort in knowing we are not alone.

I’m so grateful for God’s grace in my life. His comforting embrace. His enabling when I am weak. For words coming when I feel drained and dry. And for being able to share my 5 minute(ish) poem with the fabulous five-minute-friday crew. This week’s prompt is “burden” and you can join your words here. 

burden - #FMF - burden poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

labyrinth: discovering beauty and grace in the maze of our ordinary days

labyrinth - discovering beauty and grace in the midst of our ordinary days @poetryjoy.com

Life can feel like a maze. A place strewn with pathways that lead us astray. Somewhere with  high walls and hidden depths, where we can easily lose ourselves. People who have once loved us can drift away, out of sight. We wonder if we’ll ever find our way back to the calming centre of things.

Living can overwhelm our senses. Too much noise. Too much light. Too much haste and hurry. Too many people. Too much of everything. We just want to stop. Get off the merry-go-round and find ourselves. Breathe freely again. Relax.

Let me take you back to a Centre of calm and peace that never fails us. Come with me on a gentle, poetic labyrinth prayer walk that leads us straight to the heart of God. And appreciation and gratitude for where we already are.

Labyrinth

gracious God,
unfold your life in me

unfurl it turn by turn
that in each curving spiral

I may pause and see
the labyrinth of your love

the wonder of your grace

a touch of heaven above
the beauty of your face

infuse these ordinary days
dull as they may seem

with deep holy joy
extraordinary peace
rich gratitude and praise
© joylenton

labyrinth poem (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Let us pause. Breathe. Pray. Savour the silence. And experience one of the most holy times of day. Twilight is a thin place where heaven appears to touch earth with greater intensity. In the dimming of the light we can experience restfulness and peace. Allow these words to soothe your soul. Let us greet this moment with gratitude. Then extend that feeling to the richness of love and life God gifts us with each day.

Twilight

every day
invites, offers us a gift
time to wonder
we get ready to receive
a moment to ponder

eyes lift
conscious of a slight change
something shifts
sun tips her hat toward the horizon
while the scenery gets rearranged

ethereal
suspended fine as mist
twilight
hovering between day and night
softly spilling heaven’s secrets

a thin veil
brief lifting of the curtain
gossamer-fine
nothing feels so certain
while heaven touches earth

prayer comes
with tender dying of the day
vespers
gratitude rises to our lips
we savour what’s before us
© joylenton

labyrinth - twilight poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

We close with a song expressing wonder over the freely given, undeserved goodness and grace of God.

I’m honoured to be sharing my words with Chronic Joy’s Poetry Prompt, based on A harvest of Grains, initiated by Tweetspeak Poetry.  The topic is “gratitude” and the theme is to reveal our appreciation of the holy ordinary. Come join us here?  🙂

Imprints: on Halloween and All Souls’ Day

Imprints - on Halloween and All Souls Day (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Here in our quiet cul-de-sac, where few children live, we don’t tend to go in so much for wearing costumes, face painting, house or garden decoration when Halloween season arrives. Though pumpkins may be bought and carved into lanterns, and some might be ingested too as pies, soup or lattes.

What strikes me most about Halloween, apart from the potentially ghoulish aspects, is the event which All Saints Eve (as it’s also known as) is based on. It’s the night before All Hallows Day (or All Souls’ Day), where we remember and honour dear, departed friends, family,  saints and martyrs.

We all leave traces of our presence here. Imprints that do not fade. Soul markers in the lives of others. And a lasting legacy of how we lived out our days. How we have loved and offered grace. How we reflected the life of Christ within and manifested His presence.

That’s a sobering thought. But it’s also an encouraging one. Because the best of ourselves is largely hidden to us. When we act and react selflessly, out of receiving God’s goodness and grace, then we are less likely to be noticing and applauding those deeds.

Your life counts. You matter. You impact others far more than you might realise. The imprints of your lived out life will endure into eternity itself. As we live in the light of eternity, may we seek to honour those who have gone before us, love others well, make wise choices and live with hearts willingly surrendered to God.

Imprints

Halloween
season of mischief, mayhem
carving pumpkins
making jack-o’-lantern horrors
to help us to see in the dark

apple bobbing
and children playing pranks
they’re dressing up
threats given if they don’t receive
good supply of confectionery

I prefer to think
of it being All Hallows Eve
and celebrating
All Hallows Day, remembering
the deceased, lost and fallen

a time to honour
those who we’ve known and loved
passing of a life
souls laid here now to rest
saints gone to be with Christ

it’s a reminder
making us more mindful
as sand slips through
the swift hourglass of time
we’ll leave an imprint to find
© joylenton

imprints poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

PS: you can get the lowdown on Halloween here and All Souls’ Day here, plus fascinating facts about pumpkins here. 🙂 

who: searching for our true soul identity

ballerina on a rock - who_ searching for our true soul identity @poetryjoy.com

Our true soul identity isn’t always clear. Who we are deep inside can become distorted in a complex maze of roles, labels, problems and pain. Especially if we assimilate flawed views and opinions of ourselves over the years.

As children we can be parented and nurtured well or damaged by careless handling and bad experiences. Such things help shape our perspective. They can also create a false persona we try hard to live up to.

Thankfully, there is someone who has a clear-eyed view of who we are. Our true identity is safe with God. He sees our hidden self. The parts we feel ashamed of and hide from others. The truth of who we are deep down.

God sees into the depths of our soul. He knows our heart and what we are capable of. He sees all we are in the process of becoming by His grace. He loves us unconditionally, unreservedly and eternally. I know who I am because I know the awe-inspiring, holy I AM Himself. It’s a great relief and a huge blessing to be so well known and yet so amazingly loved.

Who

her real identity was swallowed up
in a dark, murky sea of hurt and pain
washed with woundedness, false guilt
and shame, because she didn’t know
who she was or how to reclaim herself

her who became her do as she
sought to find herself in tasks
and helping others, but deep
inside she ached and cried with a
hollow void, and she lost her voice

until God revealed the way back
to being herself, to being whole
was through the cross of Jesus Christ
his beloved Son, and her true soul
identity, her “who” was wrapped up
in his mercy, grace and endless love

instead of worrying about her loss
she could open up like a fragrant
flower, spill out her life in writing
words and prayer, let her focus shift
toward Whose she has become by
faith, who she is now in his embrace
© joylenton

who - searching for our true soul identity poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I’m sharing my poem with the fabulous five-minute-friday writing community. This week’s prompt is ‘who’. You are welcome to join us. Just click here to read the great variety of posts being share. 🙂

praise: the secret power of praising God in life’s storms

praise - the secret power of praising God in life's storms @poetryjoy.com

Praise tends to fall easily from our lips when life is good and we see visible signs that we are blessed. We feel happy and content because all seems to be right with our world. But what about when the sky darkens or falls in for us? What then?

Praising God during life’s storms can feel like an impossible thing to do. Yet praise is a powerful weapon to defeat discouragement and lift our mind and heart back to God. If we can open ourselves to God and lay all our cares at His feet, we can also learn how to praise and trust Him to meet all our needs even before we see it happening.

I’ve experienced this myself. On days when light was eclipsed in my soul and I was locked inside myself, drowning in feelings I didn’t want to have. Maybe you’ve been there too? Or are suffering that way now? 

May I encourage you to let Jesus into your pain filled places. Invite God to be Lord of your sadness, sorrow and loss. Ask Him to help, heal and lift you up. It’s a heart cry prayer He will always answer.

Such thoughts shaped my (slightly more than 5 minutes) poem. I hope and pray it will be a blessing to you, my friend.

Praise

her countenance is clouded
darkened by circumstance
head drooping low to ground
soul feels like it’s chained down

she can barely register anything or
think clearly, hear others speaking
because her mind and heart are gripped
hard, caught up in turmoil and pain

then she hears a voice urging her
to look up and lift her sad gaze
to him, to raise her head higher
see her Lord standing here by her

because it is here, in the midst
of hardship and pain that he
whispers his encouragement
urges her to begin again

here? now? she cannot fathom how
nevertheless, she listens, begins
to murmur softly in her heart and
ignite a small thanksgiving spark

praise starts as a tiny seed within
a sacrificial offering, often scraped
from a raw place, then flowering
into tears, words, deeds and grace

now he gently whispers her name
pulls her out of the miry pit she
is in, helps her to stand strong today
on the solid ground of faith and praise
© joylenton

praise - the secret power of praising God in life's storms - praise poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I praise God for having a writing space and thoughts to share as I join fellow wordsmiths over at five-minute-friday today. The prompt is ‘praise’. You are very welcome to join in. Just click here to read the great posts being shared.  🙂

share: God’s unconditional love encourages us to share and trust

share - God's unconditional love encourages us to share and trust @poetryjoy.com

Love wore many faces for me as a child. Not all of them welcome or healthy. I didn’t experience unconditional, fully accepting and embracing love until I invited Christ into my heart in my late teens.

Even though I was, and still am, very willing to share the wondrous things God has done for me, I’ve found that opening up about a painful past and sharing my wounded, imperfect self with others has proved challenging over the years.  But we all need safe places to vent and people we trust to share ourselves with.

Now I am in a better place than in my wary childhood days. A spacious place because I have been redeemed by grace. And as I’ve found courage enough to write and spill my story instead of hiding away, I give God the glory for opening up wider avenues of confidence and trust, of love and faith. Those “you too?” moments mean so much and are well worth the vulnerability we choose to expose to others by sharing our hearts.

“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” – Psalm 18:19

To share or not to share

she kept her heart locked tight
unwilling to open up
one person had an invite
flooded it with his love

a slow warming, thawing
as icy layers began to melt
he continued to pour more in
unafraid of her tumult

dirty corners were cleansed
cobwebbed thoughts expunged
she didn’t have to make amends
he took the mess upon himself

to share or not to share
a daily life dilemma
wanting to disappear
the silent death of her

he breathed a purer air
he spoke a new language
mercy and grace appeared
as he took away her anguish
© joylenton

share - to share or not to share poem (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I’m delighted to be sharing my five minute poem with the wonderful wordsmiths in the five-minute-friday community.  This week’s prompt is: “share”. You are warmly invited to join in and read the great posts being shared. 🙂

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

 

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.  🙂 

privilege: the wonder of surrendering our lives to Jesus

 

My husband often jokes that I have a hot-line to heaven, the privilege of seeing my prayers answered more than he does. Maybe it’s because I see no limitations in what I pray about, including minor things, such as obtaining parking spaces and finding lost objects – yes, really!

I didn’t grow up in a privileged way or with any sense of entitlement. On the contrary, my background prepared me for the school of hard knocks I’ve been in for the majority of my life. Yet threaded through it all, often in intangible ways, God’s goodness and grace have been the backbone of everything I have experienced.

Although it might have taken me years to really appreciate it, I am discovering that time and hindsight are uncovering the enormous privilege it is to be a beloved child of God and a woman of faith who, despite her obvious weaknesses and glaring inadequacies, has been given the privilege of living and witnessing for Him.

I have the privilege

I have the privilege of being a writer and poet
who God works through to minister to others
while I pour out my heart, witness to his work deep
within and seek to encourage them to trust in him

I have the privilege of being a child of God
who is wrapped round tight with his infinite
love, made safe and secure by his mercy and
held closer than I am aware of or can see

I have the privilege of being a woman of faith
with God’s holy grace filling and flooding my
days, and his forgiveness readily available
for every sin I might commit, and those
I don’t even know about yet

I have the privilege of being able to pray
minute by minute throughout the day, as I
yield and surrender my heart and soul to my
burden-bearing Lord, and watch how wonderfully
he lifts my cares and pain, while restoring me
gently back to wholeness again
©joylenton

**I also have the privilege of a 5 minute poem arising in response to this week’s #FMF prompt of ‘privilege’. You are very welcome to come join us here and read the wide variety of posts being shared.** 🙂