year: where our hopes and dreams coalesce with God’s intentions for us

 

As we enter the second week of this new year, hope, if not energy enough, is still fresh and alive. Maybe our hopes and dreams will coalesce with God’s divine intentions for us? Perhaps this time we will stick to our resolutions, goals and plans?¬†Or is that just wishful thinking?

Maybe this will be the year when our life alters in all the best possible ways. Such are the optimistic murmurings of our hearts and the fleeting thoughts that cross our mind. Because change of the positive kind is usually welcome, even when it might also bring demanding things to our attention.

It helps to have one small, achievable thing to focus on as a year begins. For me, it is a yearly God-given word that suggests the theme and shape of the days and months to come. My word varies each year but every one builds on the next like holy stepping-stones. Although it takes time and hindsight to see and appreciate it.

When God whispered this year’s defining word to me I gasped in surprise, because last year I had actually grumbled inwardly, wondering why God wasn’t giving me a more salubrious word like joy, instead of the challenging ones I tend to get. Turns out He was listening carefully to me. Who knew?! ūüėŹ

I began pondering if there was more under the surface of this delightful word than I might know as yet. In digging deeper into its potential implications, I am seeing my word “joy” as a sweet grace gift and also no less of a challenge to me than any of the rest.

This is a year

This is a year where I long for joy to break open my low, jaded
and wary soul, pouring itself freely as sweet libation from
heaven, one that can drip lightly through my days and surprise
me with a fresh downpour sometimes, that will make me gasp
like a child splashing in puddles or standing under a waterfall

This is a year when fear can take a backseat and holy courage
will flood, hold sway, shape my thoughts and conform me more
closely into the image of Christ by a healing of heart, a move
of God and an inner work from Holy Spirit that continues here
without limit, as I learn to yield, surrender and do my part

This is a year when healing will begin and pain will no longer
define my days. Instead, I expect to move forward more
than looking back, casting the past behind me, as I learn to
grasp fresh hope, grace and opportunities that God has
lovingly prepared for me to accept and embrace by faith
©joylenton

 

Hope you’re keeping as well as possible, my friend. Sadly, like many others, our household has succumbed to flu. :/¬† Thankfully, this post was mostly written in advance. Praise God for His timing and grace to enable me to share it today!¬† ūüôā

Do you have a word or major focus for 2018? Please¬†share in the comments below. I love to hear from you. ‚̧

summer’s ghost lingers #thedailyhaiku 29

 

Do you have a favourite season? I’m particularly fond of autumn and spring. I favour the former for its burnished leaves and ethereal mists, the cooling down (yet not too cold for being outside) aspects it has, as we hunker closer to cosy home comforts.

Spring suggests a freshness, a blowing away of cobwebs, an awakening to emerging light and new life after winter hibernation, slumber and lengthy darkness. It’s when we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, bringing holy Hope and Joy to winter-weary hearts. It’s a gentle precursor to summer, a herald in the heart of better days to come, even as frost rimes the ground.

I’m looking forward to seeing spring again, while remembering summer’s passing. Here we are in the thrall of golden autumnal days, mellow haze and crisping of leaves. Summer is receding into the background of our minds, becoming ghost-like, made delicious by fond remembrance, like a warm hug from a distant friend.

God has given us a great variety of seasonal delights to savour. I’d love to hear how the seasons speak to you, how they affect your thinking, inform your creativity or simply make you happy. Feel free to leave a comment below…  ūüôā

summer’s ghost lingers

summer’s ghost lingers
tasting like wine on the tongue
now autumn has come
©joylenton

pets: on love, created beauty and theology

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Pets are far more than they may present at first glance. Some may look on them like they see small children: messy, unpredictable, noisy, uncontrollable and hard to locate sometimes. But for those who love them, they’re constant soul companions and loving, faithful friends.

Animals point to the beauty of created things, the unlimited, unconditional love which God poured into making earth a haven for us. They are great¬†reminders of God’s goodness toward us, bringing pleasure as well as purpose into our lives.

“The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude” ~ Robert Brault

Maybe pets could be thought of as a way in which God speaks out His faithful presence, His constant love and affection for His children. We had quite a menagerie of rabbits, cats, mice, budgerigars and hamsters when I was growing up, all of which taught me a degree of responsibility‚ÄĒthough I confess to once zealously overfeeding a goldfish until it died!

“Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled” ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky

These days we have no pets and I mourn their loss, though I enjoy a stray cat or two wandering around our garden seeking attention. Our grandson has had a whole host of animals to observe, touch and marvel over in his three short years. The haiku and photos below have come from his experiences. I tried to limit myself to three! They also link to Ronovan Hester’s¬†inspiring poetic site and this week’s haiku poetry prompt challenge of ‘Pet and Play’.

Playing with farmyard pets

Hens scratch at pellets

Seed scattered as tiny tots

Play with farmyard pets

haiku-farmyard-pets

 

Christmas capers

Cat’s hopped in a box

She’s longing to play with those

stray wisps of tinsel

haiku-cat-in-a-box-pj

 

Boy meets tortoise

Boy meets tortoise

Baffled by its clay-like shell

Should he pet or play?

haiku-boy-meets-tortoise

 

You might wonder why I am speaking about animals in this Advent season, but they do have a large role in our lives, as well as in Nativity plays. And in our theology, we speak of Christ as the sacrificial  Lamb who was slain, and the Lion of Judah when He finally comes to rule and reign.

So as you hug your pets, or simply appreciate the animals you see, maybe you can think of those things and be grateful for their presence in your life, the way they point to God’s grace in the everyday.

I’d love to hear about your pets. Do join in the conversation below…

joy in looking closer to ground

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Sometimes we just have to look closer to ground or make an opening to discover hidden beauty. A swathe of green or concealing dark shadow can temporarily stand in the way of a revealing, as can distraction and lack of attention to detail.

On city streets people’s eyes betray an inner leaning. Some have their sight continually downcast, glued to a device in their hand, whereas others fix their gaze on the horizon, or scan sky’s vast panorama as they move around.

But those who still their souls, whose inner vision is honed and who look beyond the obvious, will be rewarded with a fresh perspective and feast for the eye. They will sense things close at hand offering an eternal perspective.

In seeking to discover joy and beauty in the everyday, my natural tendency is to stop, stoop and see whatever is low to ground, wanting to grasp and hold close those things near at hand.

I have caught many aspects of loveliness in the lowly things as I look for them. Even weeds can be appealing, because they are really only flowers growing in the wrong place, aren’t they? ¬†God hides His treasures, those daily grace gifts we’re apt to ignore and take for granted, in plain sight for us to discover and enjoy.

“I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel” ~ Isaiah 45:3 NKJV

Lily of the valley rises as a delicate offering when days are just beginning to warm and hearts are more than ready for a sign of summer to come. Their white bells ring out a sweetness we respond to with eagerness, sounding a death knell to winter-dark and a welcome invitation of spring.

“To see a World in a grain of sand,

And Heaven in a wild flower;

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,

And Eternity in an hour…”

~ William Blake ‘Auguries of Innocence’

The immortal lines above reveal how much can remain hidden to us when walking along and looking around. We can easily miss the messages God is sending us. There are touches of heaven everywhere, seeking to infuse us with eternal joy in the here and now.

My own imperfect poetry is an attempt to suggest similar things…

Seeing is believing

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My eyes tend to be drawn down to ground

where I focus on a flower or two

as camera lens captures the profound

 

What if I viewed each flower as a vision

not just of loveliness and perfect petals

but of heaven’s breath? Would my seeing

 

look beyond the human eye, encompass

a greater depth and breadth, stretch toward

eternal skies and find God’s presence sits

close by? Maybe each leaf and flower

 

are inviting us to sense much more

than eyes devour, lovely as it is,

and teaching us to train our souls

 

to be on the lookout for heaven’s

kiss. If so, then I don’t ever want to

miss their offering, but pause instead

 

to marvel how eternity is written

deep within our hearts and concealed

soft within every living thing

©JoyLenton2016

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Welcome to #day28 of #write31days of journeying into joy. Bless you for being here! It’s been quite a marathon, hasn’t it?

As this series draws to a close, so our focus slows a bit, leading to small ways of discovering joy hidden in plain sight.

 

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when joy arrives like a surprise guest

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Joy waits for us in every circumstance. It is seen by those with hungry hearts and observant eyes, able to view the crumbs and corners of each day from God’s perspective.

We receive daily grace gifts like manna in the wilderness, soul sustenance and supply. Yet we can so easily miss or overlook their appearing, neglect to take note of God’s goodness toward us.

Like a good friend stealing toward us, unnoticed at first, then greeted with delighted enthusiasm, joy also comes to us with sudden softness, appearing unexpectedly to brighten up our days as we welcome it in.

Joy is like a garden plant appearing to spring up overnight because we had somehow missed seeing it while it was growing, but now it stands out as something bright and beautiful, suddenly become a bold feast for the eye and a flag of hope to revive a flagging faith.

Joy often comes without warning, breaking through the bad with a holy contentment, a comforting warm glow within despite the chill of painful circumstances, the dirge of our daily grind.

We are asked to pause, be still and savour its entry, marvel at how joy has the ability to alter our thinking as we keep a conscious reminder of its presence hidden in our midst, hovering on the edge of everything.

The poem below is an attempt to describe the ephemeral nature of joy sometimes. Though we have constant access to it, our situations, thoughts and feelings can cause us to have blind-spots to its presence.

A surprise guest

She slips soft into

my consciousness

like morning rain

dew-fall from heaven

both manna and leaven

 

Arriving like a surprise guest

expecting a warm welcome

for her sudden appearance

though unglimpsed in the distance

 

My cold heart remains wary

reacts slow, suspicious

opens its door ‚ÄĒ¬†hesitant

then leaves it ajar because

I can sense a soul awakening

 

a life-giving kiss breathing

within as she stirs memories

where hope’s embers linger, now

enlivened by joy-steeped fingers

©JoyLenton2015

*Note* ‚Äď this poem first appeared on my writer friend, Barry Pearman’s ‘Turning the Page’ blog where I was guest posting last year.

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Welcome to #day25 of #write31days of journeying into joy

I’m truly thankful you are here as we draw this series to a close! I’d love to hear how are you seeing and sensing joy in your own life. Feel free to chime in with the comments below.

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enjoying a feast of grace gifts

write31days-journeying-into-joy-a-feast-of-grace-gifts-travel

 

While we are being encouraged to ‘Go Sober for October’, slide ever closer toward ‘Movember’ and anticipate ‘Dry January’, this month is fast becoming ‘Wet-tober’ for us. As a family we have extra cause for raising our glasses in celebration, because our daughters-in-law have birthdays this month. One¬†of them is celebrating a particularly significant year, and the other also has a new job to rejoice over – cheers all round!

And as we think about the passing of time, our days are being framed by a continual downpour of rain. In learning to enjoy the journey I am on, I’m also finding ways to love the life I have. Part of that includes appreciation for seemingly small things, life’s little moments and everyday marvels which are so easily missed or go unmarked.

This summer we had an enforced stay-cation where housebound took on a whole new level of feeling like we’re missing out. So each short journey currently undertaken in the car feels like a triumph of sorts, a cause for celebration – yes, even when it pours with rain! The poem below emerged after such an outing ¬†when visiting our elder son and his wife.

It reminds me that in every life a little rain will fall, heavy clouds will temporarily obliterate the sun, days may feel dark and cool, but light and warmth and love and joy are close by, just waiting to be found by receptive heart and eye

A veritable feast

write31days-journeying-into-joy-a-feast-of-grace-gifts-rain-while-driving

 

Day’s brightness reluctantly gave way

to leaden grey, as skies poured forth

water from heaven’s hoses; sprayed

liberally now on car windscreen,

washing road, gleaming drops sit

on leaves with pearlescent glow

write31days-journeying-into-joy-a-feast-of-grace-gifts-emerging-rainbow

 

And I watched in wonder while clouds

parted to reveal vivid rainbow

curve of colour; God’s reminder

to Noah of flood. Then his everlasting

covenant with Abraham – made manifest

to us in Jesus Christ’s sacrificed blood

write31days-journeying-into-joy-a-feast-of-grace-gifts-rainbow

 

Joy has already embraced me

in hugs with family, shared news,

coffee and chocolates, exchange

of views and provisions from their

abundant garden. A veritable

feast for us to journey homeward with

write31days-journeying-into-joy-collage-of-grace-gifts

 

We can soon become replete when

considering God’s daily grace gifts

seen in sky, its ever changing scenery

altering by the hour. Or found in

goodness closer to  ground, in our home,

friends and family – in every living thing

©JoyLenton2016

PS: Just in case you are curious to know more, here’s some info on Go Sober for October, how to become¬†¬†involved in Movember, and¬†a little bit about Dry January in the UK. Wet-tober is a phrase I’ve coined today, though it may well be in use for all I know!

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Welcome to #day21 of #write31days of journeying into joy.

What are you seeing, appreciating or celebrating this month? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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seeing by the light of a silvery moon

write31days-silvery-moon

 

I prefer subdued hues. Bright light doesn’t feature much in our house as I live with my mole-like tendencies. Others adjust – or offer a few seconds warning if they actually want enough light to see something properly.

It’s a hypersensitivity thing induced by having M.E, and it’s a personal preference when a world seems to shout for attention. I love deep and muted shades, softness and calm, though the world invades all too frequently with harshness, glare, noise and storm.

So I tend to want to lower the lights, dim things in my home, turn away from loud and fast and furious. Maybe that’s why I love clouds so much. They’re soft white fluffy pillows floating in azure seas, gilded golden layers revealing sunset’s splendour, or dark brooding heaviness waiting to rain refreshment on us.

My window watching and cloud gazing bring me joy. I could easily lose myself in them, desire to float serenely like they do. I also enjoy clouds when they’re stirred by wind’s breath, blown asunder at the onset of thunder, shredded by strong wind, torn into wispy cotton-wool threads on gentler days.

The moon also brings me joy. Each varied cratered face she shows is a marvel to behold. It doesn’t matter what stage she is at, if she’s displaying a crescent curve smile, suggestive half halo or full gleaming globe, they are all lovely in my eyes.

This poem grew out of observing a silvery moon…

Silvery moon

Sky hangs heavy with shades

of liquid milky-grey

as silvery moon swims and

bathes her benevolent gaze

upon a world melting

all too soon into fading

light while night usurps the day

©JoyLenton2016

Today, I invite you to spend some time looking out the window, or going outside. Take a while to breathe and enjoy the moment, to see and savour signs of creation’s beauty.

And if that seems impossible or invisible to you because of your less than salubrious surroundings, I understand the dilemma, I really do. Few of my photos get shared before being cropped and edited.

Maybe you could try to aim your gaze higher or zoom in on smaller things in the frame of your fixing. Keep looking, say a prayer and ask God to reveal what grace gifts lay literally at your feet, or out the window for you to view.

We journey deeper into joy whenever we can see creation’s beauty and become more appreciative of the world around us. Maybe it will stir gratitude, a prayer, a few whispers from God, a desire to try to capture something in words or via a lens.¬†I’d love you to let me know what you discover, and how joy is unfolding for you.

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Welcome to #day12  of #write31days Рwhere we are discovering ways of  journeying into joy.

I so appreciate you being here, supporting and praying for me as I aim to write more frequently this month. ūüôā