growing: on flourishing in life and faith

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” — Psalm 92:12-14 NIV

Growing

 I want to grow
 slowly, like moss. Spread out
 with lively verdancy, 
 stay bright and fresh,

 remain green-leaved.
 May I carpet
 my mind, my interior
 castle, my spirit 

 with holy wisdom,
 with resiliency
 I can confidently 
 walk upon with ease.

 Let me be rooted
 like a sturdy oak tree
 which freely spreads itself—its bark, 
 branches, trunk and leaves

 across the forest floor 
 because sunlight invites
 it to, and it knows
 how to grow and mature.

 May I stay 
 strong and stable, secure
 during life’s fiercest storms, 
 unshaken, unmoved,

 unbroken, unbowed,
 bravely holding on.
 Because I know
 that I am girdled around

 with supernatural strength
 that is not my own, 
 but generously given 
 to me as a pure gift

 of grace, one which stems 
 from a surrendered 
 dependency, while I stretch 
 and remain rooted in faith.
 © joylenton 

“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light.” ― Helen Keller

Whatever we might face, God will give us help and strength. While we wait, God grows our hope and faith. Whenever we feel weak, He enables us to soar above our challenging circumstances and depend on His grace. We’re covered, my friend, even though it might not feel like it sometimes.

Spiritual growth, whereby we develop wisdom, patience, maturity, resilience, and faith, is a slow process. I’m needing to remember that and give myself grace because we have an opportunity to move house this summer—gulp!—and will need those characteristics in abundance. We have a few short months in which to decide, downsize, declutter, and discard enough to make the move achievable for us.

I’m trusting that the months ahead of being more deeply rooted in faith will be rewarded by being fully equipped for all that lies ahead, because God is faithful to support and lift us up when we feel weak. Consequently, my words here will be sporadic while my limited energy, focus and strength are needed elsewhere. I welcome your prayers and look forward to reconnecting with you whenever I can. Blessings and love. xo 🙂 ❤

silence: stirred to listen harder to our lives

“In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You are aware of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.” — Frederick Buechner

Stirred

 Angels stir the waters
 and we awaken, roused 
 at last from slumber

 deep. We’re getting ready 
 to receive. Our inner spirit 
 had been sleeping,

 blissfully unaware, now 
 it seems that God is calling.
 He is close—he is near. We can

 hear his holy footsteps 
 because an unfolding advent,
 a season of awakening 

 begins with this—this sudden
 impartation, this stirring
 of mind and heart. This call

 to listen, pay attention,
 and respond. Yes, yes, our souls 
 sing silently as the mists part,

 the darkness yields itself 
 to light, the shadowed dullness 
 flees, replaced by illumination,

 bright luminosity is seen. To what 
 end are we stirred like this,
 awakened, we know not yet,

 but still we rise inside, 
 propelled by a holy purpose
 waiting to be revealed to us.

 Great change is in the air
 we breathe, scenting the atmosphere 
 with silvery notes of promise,

 with hope, with an opening, a hint
 of blossoming to come. If only 
 we would notice, and follow

 the path set out before us,
 be it rocky, smooth or hard,
 get ready to walk, leap or jump. 
 © joylenton

“The Lord is coming, always coming. When you have ears to hear and eyes to see, you will recognize him at any moment of your life. Life is Advent; life is recognizing the coming of the Lord” — Henri Nouwen

Friends, it is a time for awe and wonder to predominate. A season in which we watch and wait. A moment to pause and catch our breath before we become too embroiled in Christmas busyness. And it’s a time to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here, for the shared conversations, thoughtful comments, and prayers.

I look forward to sharing life’s poetic rhythms with you again on January 14th, when I will have some special news to share! 🎄🌟May your Christmas and New Year celebrations be full of joy, and may you life be blessed with abundant hope, healing, and peace in the year ahead. 🌟🎄Blessings and love. Xox 😊💟❤️

autumn: a child’s eye view of the season

autumn - a child's eye view of the season (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

As we enter a new season, I’ve been wondering: what if we tried to see the onset of autumn through the eyes of a child? Or the beginning of any new season of life, perhaps. How might we react or sense it differently?

I’m usually inclined to look at the onset of autumn through rather wary, SAD-afflicted adult eyes, even as I try to enjoy any glints of ochre, russet, burnt umber and gold I can find. What if God intends us to go through our days with childlike trust, hope, wonder, and expectation in our hearts, no matter what our actual circumstances are? 

“Childlike surrender and trust, I believe, is the defining spirit of authentic discipleship.” — Brennan Manning

To a child

Autumn may speak
of death and decay
to us, but to a child
it’s an invitation

to throw themselves down
and roll around on any
leaf-carpeted ground.

Autumn might signal
summer’s ending
but to a child it’s a time
of returning to school,

new shoes, equipment and clothes,
friendships rekindled, joyful
reunions, and fresh beginnings.

Autumn has many
moments of mists,
and moods we prefer
not to have to battle through,

but to a child
the veil becomes
a different kind of curtain,
mysterious, uncertain.

Autumn might suggest
a season of falls,
of decline and loss
of capacity, but to a child

it speaks of tumbling
deliberately onto chilly grass
and crunchy leaves.

Autumn hints at mellow
fruitfulness now being passed
its best, as darkness
increases and living things

are dying, but to a child
it’s just another day closer
to anticipated Christmas bliss.

Autumn brings increasing
cold, wind and sleety rain,
as trees become denuded

and winter creeps in,
but to a child each change
in the weather is just

another new way
of experiencing, touching,
tasting, seeing, and doing.
© joylenton

autumn - to a child poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“I think that’s the true litmus test for someone who has become closer to Jesus: their heart is more loving, accepting, childlike, less believing that they have all the answers and more believing in Him.” — Donald Miller

It can be a hard calling and a tough surrender to trust God for better or be able to sense beauty and joy more than we sense the darkness, hardship and pain. It can be difficult to pay more attention to the good, can’t it? Especially when pain shouts so loud it seems to drown out all else.

But joy still exists in every dark moment we go through, and it’s so worthwhile to try to be more childlike by awakening to the joy hidden in plain sight. I’m inspired by my grandson’s attitude and I’m willing to try. How about you, my friend? 

PS: You might be interested in: 50 Autumn activities for parents and kids, plus an inspiring creative guide to surviving the winter months by Emma Mitchell or her nature remedy book to help with SAD symptoms. 🙂 ❤

autumn - child sitting in leaves - it is so worthwhile quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

prayer: it makes a greater difference than we know

prayer - paper aeroplane - it makes a greater difference than we know - Joy Lenton @poetryjoy.com

So often we think of prayer like sending flimsy paper aeroplanes into the ether, where they act like drifting darts that fail to hit their intended target. But what if we saw each prayer more as an arrow that reaches straight to the heart of God? 

Might that make a difference in our willingness to pray, and encourage our hope that all prayer is heard and answered in some way? I think so. Because the bible urges us to pray at all times and in all seasons, while it declares how our prayers can rise as fragrant incense to God’s throne above.

”Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” — Max Lucado

prayer - “Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” quote (C) Corrie Ten Boom @poetryjoy.com

Prayer isn’t something to be feared because of our perceived failure at it. Rather, prayer is to be welcomed as a wonderful, privileged part of our relationship with God, as we maintain an open dialogue with Him. And when we take all our worries and concerns to God, we get to experience His rest and peace.

The poem below describes the frustration we might experience when we seemingly get no answers to prayer. It also points to the biblical hope and promise we have of our prayers actually landing up where they should—straight to the loving heart of our Father God.

Paper aeroplanes

I try to shoot
paper aeroplanes
into the ether

but they fall,
floating aimlessly,
landing languidly
at my feet,

while others curve,
slither and slide
across the ceiling,

darting like flies,
getting nowhere
it seems.

I cannot see
why they don’t hit
their intended target,

pierce through layers
of fluffy cloud,
this veiled curtain

of azure blue shroud
where hope enough
exists to send them off.

I can only assume,
more and more
as time passes,

that they are too small,
deemed unworthy planes,
perhaps, tipped off

balance, somehow,
sent careening
sideways, adrift,

instead of being
faithfully received.
Yet the eyes of faith

suggest I look further,
try to see beyond
and believe

there is a place
where clouds will part,
open up for this

faithfully sent
aerial fleet,
these fragile, tentative

aeroplanes of prayer
to actually penetrate
the air, the heavens,
where they are

joyfully received above,
carefully curated,
acted upon with love.
© joylenton

prayer - Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance... quote (C) Martin Luther @poetryjoy.com

“Prayer lays hold of God’s plan and becomes the link between His will and its accomplishment on earth. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit’s prayer.” — Elisabeth Elliot

Where has prayer made a difference in your life or the lives of those you’ve prayed for? Let’s rejoice in it together… 🙂 ❤

courage: rising up to face life’s challenges

courage - rising up to face life's challenges @poetryjoy.com

We might think that being courageous is strictly for heroes and heroines. But we’d be wrong. Because all of us will face difficulties and challenges, need to access courage, develop resilience, and discover our inner brave as we take each small step of faith.

With God’s help, we can scale the mountains before us or find a way to go around them. Although the path might be thorny and hard, God will infuse strength and courage into our hearts. All we need do is ask.

“Nothing but encouragement can come to us as we dwell upon the faithful dealing of our Heavenly Father in centuries gone by. Faith in God has not saved people from hardships and trials, but it has enabled them to bear tribulations courageously and to emerge victoriously.” — Lee Roberson

courage - “Discouraged not by difficulties without, or the anguish of ages within quote - Helen Keller @poetryjoy.com

Courage

tugging at weeds
I disturb a sleepy beetle
he staggers out blind
moves drunkenly across grass
losing his way on hot tiles

I watch him
skittering unsteadily
like a skater
wobbling on the ice
thrown off their stride

before long
he seeks refuge again
a dark recess
lush, fresh greenery
a new, safe habitat

it doesn’t take much
a gentle tug alone
stirs us to move
out of our comfort zone
where courage awaits us

we might blink
unaccustomed
like moles in the light
having to leave behind
our familiar places

we recoil
grip tight on the usual
before reaching out
to touch the new and the next
we’re being called to embrace

eventually
however weak-kneed we feel
our fingers test walls
we probe possibilities
and find our way home
© joylenton

courage - emerging mole - courage poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“Down through the centuries in times of trouble and trial God has brought courage to the hearts of those who love Him. The Bible is filled with assurances of God’s help and comfort in every kind of trouble which might cause fears to arise in the human heart. You can look ahead with promise, hope, and joy.” — Billy Graham

Where are you needing courage today, my friend? Turn to God and seek His help. God will always rise to give us strength and help us face whatever is making us afraid. Hold onto God’s promises, and wait for Him to act on your behalf as you take the first tentative steps forward. Though your heart might quake and quail, remember that His courage never fails.

PS: I have a free pdf soul care gift for you today!

< – – Just click on the image here to download it.

It’s called Soul Shots: 31 Days of Pocket Wisdom for Your Hurting Heart, and is an eclectic mix of reflections and poetry.

May it bless and encourage your heart and bring back hope when life gets hard and dark. 🙂 ❤

light: how holy light lifts, heals and strengthens us

light - how holy light lifts, heals and strengthens us (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” — St Francis of Assisi

Light is here

One incandescent, invisible light
threads through our days like silver,
like a mercurial, rolling ribbon of life;

though matted by drifting cloud,
it has frequent glints of gold,
russet, rose, tangerine and indigo.

If you look up
you might find glimpses
of heaven itself, a pure light

altering with the hours
but never faltering
to shine on us.

When we experience the greyness
of mist and fog enveloping us
like a shroud, we can stay hopeful

that the sun still sits behind it all,
and will be revealed in glory again
when the mists have cleared.

And as you examine your days
you will be able to trace
the way light has arrived

in your life, in small slivers,
perhaps, in tiny amounts
but at just the right time.

Your darkness and weakness
can lift if you direct
your gaze toward the light

that surrounds you inside
and out with whispers
of holy grace and love.

Because our joy
doesn’t depend on things
or on our circumstances

but on knowing deep within
that we are seen, we are loved,
we matter to someone else.
© joylenton

“Grace comes into the soul, as the morning sun into the world; first a dawning; then a light; and at last the sun in his full and excellent brightness.” —Thomas Adams

light - sun - meadow - flowers - light is here poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

waiting: when desire gives way to deeper surrender

waiting - girl sitting by the roadside - when desire gives way to deeper surrender @poetryjoy.com

I’m feeling fried and frazzled in a scorching August heatwave. As I’m waiting to cool down, I’m reminded that the earth itself is incrementally heating up. We sense the stirrings of earth’s birth pangs, the longing it has for deliverance, and considered attention from its custodians.

Our own hearts (never mind our bothered bodies) can feel unsettled by a yearning for change. Because waiting is hard, isn’t it? Our society and world at large are like life on speed, with a drivenness that doesn’t sit easily with being rested, calm and at peace.

We all sit with unfulfilled desires. One of  mine is to write more books before I get too ill, too old or lose my poetic touch. I long to unleash all the creativity that lies within me, rather than sitting on dusty files which remind me that those books are not going to write themselves… get a move on, girl! Only impatience isn’t conducive to getting a good result. 😉

“In the drivenness of our society, it’s hard to make time to relax our efforts and find transforming energy. That’s why we need this particular posture of waiting so much. When we sit in this way we’re relaxing the bow; we’re coming to rest in a very deep way in God, allowing ourselves to be cradled in the sighing mystery of Christ’s prayer.”— When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions by Sue Monk Kidd

waiting - pocket watch - hourglass - rose - Our society and world at large are like life on speed quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Desire

desire at rest
cultivated by God’s grace
in the waiting room
where we learn to still our hearts
quiet the rush, quell our thoughts

the divine promise
gets birthed and earthed in us
in God’s timing
we will finally receive
an abundance of good things

in this posture
where submissiveness counts
where trust is formed
here we mature, learn and grow
develop patience in our souls

soul detachment
enables us to let go
of our wanting
and expectancy follows
when we embrace faith and hope

freedom of desire
might feel alien to us
it’s a holy thing
where our desires and will line up
with what the Father wants for us
© joylenton

waiting - desire poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy” — Romans 8:24–25 The Message

May I pray for you, my friend?

Dear Father God,

Thank you for your loving and protective care of us. Our days are an open book to you because you hold past, present and future in your hands. Help us to wait with patient expectation and confident trust when we desire to forge ahead with this project or that. If we’re in a season of being slowed, grant us the ability to stay encouraged and calm, and believe for better days to come. May we learn to go with the natural rhythm and flow of our days and remain sensitive to Holy Spirit’s gentle leading and guiding.

Amen

May we remember that however far we might stray, get impatient or fail to sense His presence, God is always eagerly waiting for us to turn to Him. 😊❤️

plea: for when you are in need of prayer and help

plea - woman praying - for when you are in need of prayer and help @poetryjoy.com

Prayer can take many shapes and forms, ranging from a simple, urgent plea for help to the intricacies of formal litany and liturgy. Prayer might be silent, spoken words or repetitive chant. Whether short or long, all our prayers are heard and answered by God, usually with a “yes”, “no” or “wait”, though not always in ways we might expect.

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” — Max Lucado

The poem I’m sharing today was birthed in a place of extra weakness, weariness, anxiety and pain. When we feel that way it’s often hard to pray, isn’t it? At such times we might prefer to let our tears speak for themselves, ask family and friends for support, or turn to the written prayers of others for inspiration and help.

If anything resonates with you in the words below, feel free to use them for yourself. I’m always happy if others can see merit in the thoughts God gives me to share. And I’m always blessed if I can encourage someone else, which we can all do by our testimony and prayers, even when we’re struggling ourselves.

A plea

oh let me rest
lean my head on Jesus’ breast
and hear God’s heartbeat
pounding softly through my days
like a metronome of grace

oh let me stay
may I faithfully remain
listen well with love
keep a vigil by his side
the best place for me to thrive

oh let me know
become wise, not shallow
learn how to live
full of compassion, like him
ready to help and to give

oh let me accept
how to live without regret
while I stretch my faith
note my own limitations
empowered by his strength

oh let me wait
when prayer seems unanswered
make space for grace
for God’s perfect timing
and sense his peace within
© joylenton

plea - oh let me know become wise, not shallow - prayer - plea poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“God can handle your doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusion, and questions. You can bring everything to him in prayer.” — Rick Warren

You can pray about anything. Nothing is too small or too great to bring to God. He hears the cries of our hearts and never becomes wearied by our need of Him. If you are having a hard time of things, please let me know so I can pray for you. You could leave a message here or email me via my contact page instead. It would be an honour to support you, my friend. Blessings and love. xo ❤️🙏🏻🌺

pilgrimage: a journey of faith, hope and trust when the going gets tough

pilgrimage - mountains and valleys - a journey of faith, hope and trust where stout shoes are required @poetryjoy.com

“Life is a pilgrimage. Each moment is to be lived in depth, because each moment contains God, hidden within it.” ― Banani Ray

pilgrimage - mountain top view - God never said that the journey would be easy quote by Max Lucado @poetryjoy.com

“Happy are those who are strong in the Lord, who want above all else to follow your steps. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains! They will grow constantly in strength, and each of them is invited to meet with the Lord in Zion.” ― Psalm 84: 5-7 TLB

When we’re struggling with life’s many challenges, and the road ahead looks steep, daunting and dark, we can still rest in the fact that God is with us every step of the way. He is always able to come to our aid, fill us with His peace, rescue and save.

God holds us close, pours out His love, gives us His mercy and grace, whispers solace to our souls, calms our fretful hearts, and encourages us every step of the way. May we hold onto that thought when we are weary and the going gets tough.

We might get to the end of our rope but we are always given the means and strength to cope and go on. When we go through deep waters, Jesus is the lifebelt we need to stay afloat.

Pilgrimage

this pilgrimage
this journey we are on
has its twists and turns
there are potholes and caves
places where we will be safe

we’ll face high crags
and mountainous terrain
for us to traverse
if our shoes are stout enough
and we refuse to give up

endure the desert
barren, dry, dusty places
where our feet will burn
and our souls become parched
as hope dips low in our hearts

we might get to swim
in refreshing ocean depths
in purer air
calmer waters than before
glimpsing sight of land and shore

let us not give up
when heavy tests and trials come
when life gets tough
but hang in and hold on tight
victorious in the fight
© joylenton

pilgrimage - desert island - beach - poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

God dries our tears when we cry, comforts us when we’re anxious and afraid, and gives us His Hope in the darkest circumstances of our Christian pilgrimage. We can fully trust in Him, as in the song below. May it bring you hope, my friend. ❤

“When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters 
I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You”

― Trust in You by Lauren Daigle