light: an invitation to let the light in

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and colour are their last days.” — John Burroughs

Let the light in

I see light 
as evidence of God's 
presence, tangible

awareness revealing
his liquid, golden grace, 
with a mindful 

contemplation on his 
will and ways, because 
light filters most
 
through a receptive 
host. Maybe I can learn to
be a willing

vehicle, a silent subject 
to receive, then I can
achieve a place 

of calm within,
where light and love 
and joy reside

and hope rests 
quiet. It chirps, a softly singing
bird, sitting still 

as still can be, yet
gently fluttering its hopeful,
delicate wings.
© joylenton


“And that afternoon, as the sun slanted low through the changing autumn leaves, I remembered to savor the moment, soak in the beauty, breathe deeply and feel the immensity of God.” — Cindee Snider Re

rain: learning to dance in life’s rainfall

“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” — Gilbert K. Chesterton


We’ve been blessed with a summer of mostly bright blue skies and unprecedented heatwaves in the UK, yet it’s left us desperate for the slightest sign of rain. Grass is as tinder-dry as straw, and leaves and plants are wilting into an early autumnal response.

When it did eventually rain recently, I watched with awe and felt like I wanted to dance in it. The air became clean and fresh and our hearts lifted. The sight, the sound, the joy of it was palpable.

Though there are times in our lives when joy departs and we feel as if we’re living under a dark cloud. One that temporarily blocks the sun or stays around for weeks and months.

It’s hard to savour the changing seasons if our souls stay parked in winter, but the poem below encourages us to maintain a brighter perspective as we look to the Source of all things who gives us hope to start again.

Let the rain fall

let the rain fall
let it saturate my soul
soft morning dew
mists of your holy breath
daisy fresh and mountain-hewed 

let the rain come
from darkened skies or touched
by rays of sun
may I open up my heart
ready to receive each drop

let the rain speak
as it fills me to the brim 
with inner joy
the kind that cannot be faked
and nothing can destroy

let the rain glisten
bright dewdrops from heaven
tiny little pearls
miniature gifts from above
reminding me of your love

let the rain quench
the thirst I have inside
assuage the ache
in the places hard and dry
and sluice away my mistakes
© joylenton

Perhaps we can learn to splash in the puddles and dance in the rain, and face the deluges and showers in our lives with equanimity. Whether they’re sudden and slight or prolonged and persistent, we can deliberately look for the joy and the light, the relief and reprieve, the comfort and calm, the rainbow promises which God brings to all hurting hearts.

Rain will come. We can’t always be prepared for it. As soaking sheets or delicate showers, rain won’t always be welcomed by us, but we can remind ourselves of the cover, the umbrella protectiveness which God provides over us with His overseeing care, compassion and love. Then we can say, “Let the rain fall.” with the courage, confidence and resilience which faith and hope bring to reassure us that all will be well.

“Healing rain is a real touch from God. It could be physical healing or emotional or whatever.” — Michael W. Smith

NOTE: This poem was extracted from my Sacred Noticing e-book which is on offer at Amazon from 02/09/22 to 07/09/22 as my birthday gift to you! If you would like a reminder of sunnier days, there’s a free printable pdf below of a poem called ‘Life on pause’ which is also extracted from Sacred Noticing. And you might like to read my first foray into fiction with a short story about a boy who dared speak the truth. Blessings and love. Xx 🙂 ❤

mirror: seeing ourselves as we really are

It’s no secret that nature and wildlife have things to teach us as they quietly go about their lives. The poem below was written after observing a bluetit’s antics as she circled around our car’s wing mirror for a few minutes.

We were too entranced watching her to think of recording the moment. But oh joy, she returned the next day and I caught it briefly with these blurred, smudgy photos out of the kitchen window! 😉

Birdwatching 

She flits
back and forth
admiring herself in glass,
enraptured 
by the way her image
is captured 
so vividly in the wing
mirror, where she can’t resist 
such a view of loveliness.

It’s as if
she cannot quite 
believe that this tiny bird 
has anything 
whatsoever to do with her,
or is more than a passing 
resemblance, perhaps—
does this sight signify, imply
what she might really look like?

So she shifts
her gaze here 
and there, hopping keenly
once more over
the bonnet of the car,
then back again
to preen, to marvel,
to check she does exist 
in this world, in this space.

And she twists 
her perspective 
as she turns upside 
down, and almost inside
out in her eagerness 
to believe she is
just as sweet, just as
lovely, just as glorious
as the mirror suggests.
© joylenton

“But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.” — 2 Corinthians 3:18 TLB

This sweet incident made me wonder how we might respond when we catch a glimpse of ourselves in a mirror. Are we enchanted, curious, disinterested or disappointed? Does it matter if we’re less than thrilled with our outer appearance?

Because we are so much more than the sum of our parts. Though having a balanced love for ourselves and a healthy self-acceptance is to be encouraged. We need to transform our wounded minds and hearts by believing we are who the Bible says we are.

I can attest that it’s been damaging for me to have low self-esteem for years due to painful childhood experiences that seared my soul and induced decades of brokenness. God longs for us to see ourselves the way He does: beautiful, beloved, healed and whole, a joy to behold.

Maybe looking in the mirror might cause us to seek the kind of mirror that truly reflects our God-given beauty, grace and loveliness, especially if we’ve failed to fully notice or appreciate it.

Do we return, time and again, to check our reflection in Scripture as it holds up a mirror to our souls and gives us insight into the close, loving relationship we can have with God? Perhaps we should… 🙂 ❤

liminal: savouring the sacred space in-between the now and the next

Honour the space between no longer and not yet — Nancy Levin

Liminal days

Caught in apricity 
as I savour the unexpected 
warmth of this wintry
sun, arriving soon after
a deluge of rain, witnessing 
the drama which unfolds
in contrasts, where light kisses dark
and light doesn’t pull back
because it carries 
difference in its golden heart.

These are liminal 
days, dancing on the edge
where a new season appears
to break, with sun revealing 
snowdrops, crocuses, incipient
daffodils, tender green fronds 
of beautiful bluebells to come,
eclipsed by what remains—
the spare, bare bones of winter
still grimly holding on.

My soul sits in ice sometimes 
because it’s waiting for a thaw
to relax it into love, plant it
in peace, persuade it to take 
a deeper breath, a longer
look, a calmer exhale, 
and to shift gratitude to 
a whole new level, as I face
the need to open up
to mercy flowering from above.

It isn’t arduous,
it doesn’t take much at all 
for us to reorient ourselves 
back to joy and faith when 
we see evidence of spring,
note vital change occurring 
and sense our souls being
set adrift, freed from winter’s 
harsher grip, as we float calmly
toward signs of hope unzipped. 
© joylenton

change: on yearnings, adaptation, and gratitude for where we are now

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” — Henry David Thoreau

Yearning for change

These naked limbs, 
licked and warmed 
by sun’s soft caress,
have their arms open 

for an early entry 
of spring, longing deep
at the heart 
for sap to rise again 

and the blooming
of buds to start
to burst forth, giving them
a new dress, new chorus.

Each branch,
every stem 
and arthritic twig reaches
up to the heavens,

like a prayer, a plea
to be noticed,
to be spared the worst
of winter’s onslaught,
and to have a fresh
covering of leaves
as chill winds blow,
leaving them drawn taut. 

But even so,
they might forget just how
majestic they are 
in their pared back 

barrenness, their state 
of cold undress,
which has its own perfect 
beauty we observe, its own

form of sculptural loveliness,
as we stop and pause
from our labours
to watch nature at work. 
© joylenton

“There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” — Rachel Carson

This poem arose when I paid attention to the apple tree outside our living room window. The more I studied it throughout the day, the more my sympathies were engaged and my gratitude enhanced for simply being here, acting as a silent observer of its wintry state and potential future growth. Because immersing ourselves in nature, in small ways and large, is a great way to stir creativity and bring us a deeper measure of soul peace.

“Change” happens to be my #oneword365 for Poetry Joy this year. Where are you receiving reflective thoughts from the created world as it beds down for winter yet retains a new kind of beauty in its structure, its place of peace and quiet repose? Do share below. 🙂 ❤

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” — Eckhart Tolle

epiphany: discovering the hope of all the years

“Today the Magi gaze in deep wonder at what they see: heaven on earth, earth in heaven, man in God, God in man, one whom the whole universe cannot contain now enclosed in a tiny body.” — Peter Chrysologus

Epiphany

Guided by the stars
and their expert analysis
as they pored over maps
of constellations in the heavens,
the Wise Men were awakened.

All their seeking and searching 
for the Messiah's arrival
had come to fulfilment,
so they gathered their entourage
and travelled to distant lands afar.

The manifestation of Jesus Christ
to Gentile hearts and eyes
was a wondrous epiphany,
an opening where light shone bright
to reveal heaven's Son had arrived.

This breaking through of breaking
news was unlike any other,
for God had never before become
as one of us, made weak, helpless,
fully dependent on others. 

He laid aside his majesty
to better reveal the deep union
he has with the hearts of men,
if given half a chance, an opportunity
to finally set us free from sin.

Or sin's penalty, at least, as death
became vanquished by Christ's victory
on the Cross, and eternal life was given
as pure gift of grace to all mankind,
with the opening of eyes once blind.

Ascended now, Christ sits and intercedes
for us with faith and hope in his heart,
waiting for an epiphany to transform
our flawed thinking, so we can reach out
in trust and fully receive his amazing love. 
© joylenton

“For by gold the power of a king is signified, by frankincense the honor of God, by myrrh the burial of the body; and accordingly they offer Him gold as King, frankincense as God, myrrh as Man.” — St John Chrysostom

Advent: the Hope-filled countdown begins

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Countdown
A countdown is on,
with the daily opening of a door
in the Advent calendar.

Some have their minds fixed
on consuming chocolate
or finding a small gift.

Others watch a scene
unfold, a marvellous story
slowly, slowly gets told.

Perhaps a candle is lit
and left to burn while we
reflect on a word, name or date.

Anticipation builds
in the daily noticing,
receiving, seeing and reading.

December's cold drabness
is lifted by an interest
in things outside ourselves.

Gradually, these small
snapshots of hope, joy, mystery
are unveiled and revealed.

Until we reach the climax,
where the action really begins,
with a birth in Bethlehem.
© joylenton

“You keep us waiting. You, the God of all time, Want us to wait. For the right time in which to discover Who we are, where we are to go, Who will be with us, and what we must do. So thank you … for the waiting time.” — John Bell, quoted in The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers, compiled by Dorothy M. Stewart

God’s Love Note for your heart

“You count down your days when something good is anticipated or your future hopes are dimming. Every 24 hour time slot is a reminder to live more fully in the present moment.

Developing sacred mindfulness is beneficial to your mind and heart. In the daily pausing, noticing and appreciation you are opening your soul to gratitude and a deeper awareness of My presence with you.

Try not to let your life be ruled by the ticking clock. Seek, instead, to live each day with peace in your heart because of the numerous ways in which you can encounter My Love.

This is the day the Lord has made. This day matters. Yesterday is gone and the future doesn’t exist yet. Living well in the here and now prepares you for what will come next.

Blessings galore await you as you anticipate them while maintaining an open perspective on today. Keep casting your care on Me and I will equip you to live without the burden of worry and anxiety.”

Dear Friends, I’ve missed you! It’s been really hard to have to stay away from writing here to aid my recovery. But I’m so thankful to have been given energy enough to post today. Even though my stiff hands hurt to type and I remain weak and weary and uncertain when I might post again, it’s a joy to reconnect with you as Advent begins. 🙂 ❤

restoration: our brokenness is made new by God’s grace

“Christ is building His kingdom with earth’s broken things… Heaven is filling with earth’s broken lives, and there is no bruised reed that Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory.” — J.R. Miller

Restoration goes hand in hand with “renew”, God’s given word to me this year, and I’ve slowly been unpacking and experiencing something of its depths.

Namely the numerous ways in which we can become renewed, restored, and refreshed. Such a prospect offers us all great hope when life is hard.

As I’m in a season of requiring renewal, combined with extra rest and refuelling, I’m having to trust that the healing and restoration process continues silently within me even if I cannot see the results of it yet.

Because faith asks us to accept God is always at work even if it doesn’t look like it. And God specialises in encouraging the defeated, restoring the broken, healing the hurting, and strengthening the worn out and weary who trust in Him.

“The work of restoration cannot begin until a problem is fully faced.” — Dan B. Allender

Restoration

I'm depleted
come fall on me like rain
saturate this place
shower me with your love
water all who thirst on earth

I'm sorrowful
come light my way with joy
I lift my face
expectant of your goodness
hungry for your gift of grace

I'm empty
come fill me to the brim
to overflowing
with an excess to share
with a fullness within

I'm worried
come soothe away the cares
take the burdens
lift them from my weary frame
help me find relief in prayer

I'm praising
come rejoice and celebrate
my heart ached
God gave me his rest and peace
now his child has her soul eased
© joylenton

“May he be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth.” — Psalm 72:6

Friends, I think I tried to come back to blogging too soon after moving house because I’ve not been so well over the last few months, hence the weeks of silence. I hope you will be happy to accept an occasional offering here and over at joylenton.com for a while instead of the more regular posts you were accustomed to.

PS: It’s my birthday today so I’m giving a free gift to you!! It’s a pdf copy of my ‘Soul Shots: 31 Days of Pocket Wisdom for Your Hurting Heart’ e-book, which is a warm hug for your heart, with a mix of soul refreshing poetry and encouraging prose. If you like it, please consider leaving a short review on Amazon so others might be encouraged to read it too. Thank you! Lots of love, Joy Xx 🙂 ❤

fear: from scared to secure

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” — Isaiah 41:10 NIV

From scared to secure

Fear comes whispering 
in your ears
but it doesn’t sound
like fear at all. Oh, no,

it’s more like the voice
of reason, of questioning,
of common sense.

It brings all the what ifs,
what abouts, oughts and shoulds 
which are hard to ignore,
harder still to justify 

when faith feels a stretch
too far, while trust 
is asking you to take

a great big leap
into the abyss—into the 
dark. Our human hearts
are so easily 

alarmed, unsettled, made fraught
with worry and concern,
by scary thoughts,

by being asked for more
than we are capable 
of. But that’s only if
we rely on human

reasoning alone,
and forget to factor
in the power 

of our amazing,
death defying,
grace and hope 
supplying God. Because then

we’re not facing
anything all by ourselves 
or trying to make

important decisions 
without his help. But we are
relying, depending for all
we are worth,

on God’s mercy 
and wisdom 
to gently guide

and steer us forward.
It takes the sting 
out of whatever we
might be facing. 

The anxiety will leave,
be released
and slowly dissipate

as we move from being 
scared to securely 
dependent on God’s 
foresight and grace.
© joylenton 

“God hasn’t lost courage. God isn’t wavering on endurance. God doesn’t fear another day or another test, and God is standing behind me. He is making available for me all that he is. By grace through faith, I have nothing to fear, no reason to feel defeated.” — Gary L. Thomas ‘Simply Sacred: Daily Readings

Fear tends to infiltrate us out of nowhere. One minute we’re happily going about our days, and the next (or so it seems) we become scared of this or that, stuck in the muddy quagmire of worry, and consumed by anxiety and fear. A wall goes up and we cannot scale it, despite our best efforts.

I’ve experienced this over the last few months with the added stress of moving house before our previous property is sold. It’s the plethora of changes and extra admin that sink me, alongside the sheer weary overwhelm of being busy beyond my body’s capacity to cope. But there is hope and there is help for all troubled souls.

No scary situation we might face is a match for our matchless, fear-less heavenly Father’s grace.

God sits beside us, gently nudging us back to trust, softly reminding us of His all-encompassing Presence, great faithfulness, and constant love. And more than that, we have the gift of His calming and comforting Peace to keep us from staying afraid. May our faith be above every fear as we hand each one over to God.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” — John 14:27 NIV

world: a voyage of holy discovery

“If you have been in the vicinity of the sacred – ever brushed against the holy – you retain it more in your bones than in your head; and if you haven’t, no description of the experience will ever be satisfactory.” ― Daniel Taylor, In Search of Sacred Places

A world within a world

Some can see a world 
in the labyrinthine 
whorls of a rose,

while others sense it
contained within
the smallness of a hazelnut.

Although it is too vast
and complex to be confined
inside one thing or one mind,

there remains a simplicity
bequeathed and revealed 
to the soul of you and me.

A sacred space opens up
to the fathomless,
the infinite, the large,

as our tiny hearts 
become receptacles 
enlarged by holy love.

A whole universe exists 
within each one of us,
ready to be explored.

All we need to offer 
is our openness,
our receptivity is the path

whereby universal truth
can inhabit our hearts,
to be accepted—or ignored.
(C) joylenton

“And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, ‘What may this be?’ And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’”

“I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God. In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it. The second that God loves it. And the third, that God keeps it.” — Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich

My friend, you might be feeling alone and far from God right now or fear that He has forgotten you somehow, but that just isn’t true, because we can rely on the promises in His Word that keep us safe and secure.

God never leaves our side for a second, and He finds a million little ways in which to demonstrate His constant presence, tenderness and love to our fragile, hurting hearts.

May you rest in His unconditional love today as you ask Him to open your eyes to the voyage of holy discovery and joy He wants to take you on. With blessings, love, hugs and prayer from this fellow voyager. Xx 🙂 ❤