begin: for when you can’t quite hit the new year running

begin - for when you can't quite hit the new year running - @poetryjoy.com

Dear reader, I’m curious about something: did you hit the new year running, eagerly embracing resolutions, ready for the new and the next, planning and pushing ahead to your heart’s content? If so, that’s great and I rather envy you. 😏

Or are you more like me: crawling on your knees, flattened with illness and fatigue, and sighing because January finds you less than fit and able? The latter? Please raise  or vaguely wave your weary arm in my direction. It’s good to know we’re not alone.

For years, without fail, I’ve always succumbed to flu or a heavy cold before the Christmas and New Year celebrations are over. Each January I’m hugging the duvet, coughing into my pillow and barely surfacing.

Sadly it’s not due to enjoying myself, but because I have a faulty, inefficient immune system that easily succumbs to viruses and overexertion of any kind. I keep hoping things will improve. But they haven’t. Not yet.

Experience has taught me to listen and act on the information I hear from my depleted body. Namely to rest and take care of myself. Because trying to press on in the face of increasing debility has never been a good plan for me. It only exacerbates my pre-existing chronic conditions.

One thing that never stops being active and running like a mad thing is my mind, even when my body stills due to increased sickness. Yours too, perhaps? It chunters on like it’s got something really important to process, while my weakened body is trying to shush it into silent, restful submission.

begin - god replenishes, restores and revives quote (c)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

And I’ve been mulling over what to write. How do we begin again when we’re feeling lethargic, muddy-headed or uninspired? The wonder is that whenever our well, our energy, inspiration or abilities run dry, we only need to ask and God replenishes, restores and revives our limited supplies. And we can begin again with Him any time we need to.

The poem below came to me as I was resting. May it speak to all who are in the throes of illness or lack creative inspiration. I’m also rejoicing that my current ailment seems to be more of a persistent cold than full-blown flu this time. Hooray! Progress!

Writer’s woes

I want to begin
make a mark on this page
this year
on the lives of others
with my thoughts and words

I don’t know how
to begin to write a thing
without assistance
because my brain is muffled
and my thoughts are befuddled

I am uncertain
wondering how to choose
what will speak
louder than my husky voice
of love and grace, hope and faith

in the end
all I have is willing hands
empty though they be
just waiting to be filled
before a drop can be spilled

holy whispers
encourage me to start
right where I am
with surrender, trust and truth
as inspiration filters through
© joylenton

begin - writer's woes poem excerpt - new year (c)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Praise God for gifting this snuffly writer with something to say when she felt empty! Hopefully normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. 😉 Do let me know how you are, especially if you’re also below par, and we can pray for one another.

Never forget that rest, recovery and healing are vital soul and body work. You and I might begin this year slow like tortoises but we can still end strong by the grace of God. With love and virtual (germ-free) hugs to you. xo 💜

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. 🙂 

moment: changing our lives by small increments

moment_ changing our lives by small increments @poetryjoy.com

Our lives are lived in a series of small moments. Microseconds of breath and being. Although our major focus tends to be on the larger issues that preoccupy us, it’s life’s small moments that matter the most. They’re the ones we need to savour and build good memories from.

Each moment can be life defining because they have the potential to be soul altering. The decisions we make and the ways we act and react are a result of tiny, incremental drip-feeding over years that we are giving to our minds and hearts.

If we feed ourselves with positive, life enhancing thoughts, absorb and put into practice the teaching which the Bible gives us, then we are better placed to live more mindfully. Which will give us a deeper moment by moment awareness.

By living more in the moment, we can develop a better appreciation for all things. A greater gratitude. And closer relationships with God and others, as we practice being in His presence and being more present to them.

It only takes a moment

it only takes a moment to hurt a person’s heart
or crush a soul with a harsh, ill-judged remark

it only takes a moment to think, pause and pray
before we rush blindly, heedlessly into the day

it only takes a moment to cause another
pain, to wound them with our words and deeds
and give them reason to feel ashamed

it only takes a moment, tears, a mere breath
to repent, and seek a different route instead

it only takes a moment to inflict another
with the lashing from our tongues, and watch
as they shrink down low inside themselves

it only takes a moment to stop and weigh up
our words, and give our mouths a holy pause

it only takes a moment to show those whom
we love how very precious and valued they are

it only takes a moment to care, esteem another
higher than ourselves, and want to serve them well

it only takes a moment to live an open, grace filled
life—providing we’re aware and willing to oblige
© joylenton

moment - it only takes a moment poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I’m grateful that a few moments spent praying for the gift of words have given me a poem to share with you today. It’s inspired by this week’s five-minute-friday prompt of ‘moment’. Just click here to join us there. I’m even more thankful it only takes a moment for God to begin to fix what is broken in us. He doesn’t delay in pouring out His grace and love! 🙂

words: how faith, listening and receptivity help birth a fresh creative flow

words, faith , listening and creativity

Words are intransigent at times. They reveal a resistance to being marshalled onto the page with military precision. Instead they resemble watchful dancers, waiting in the wings, ready to leap upon the stage when they sense the timing is right for them,  and hopefully alighting with style, beauty and grace. Maybe you can relate?

That’s how it can seem when the creative well runs dry and the easy flow we’ve been accustomed to becomes a mere trickle. Try as we might, words refuse to cooperate, leaving us hungry for their return. Resting ourselves and our words seems wise. Then we grow into their future potential, as well as ours.

As a poet I am used to the way words speak to me, hum with a greater resonance, sing out their potential, ask to be paid attention to, seek to be picked, sifted and joined together while they dictate the metre, method, rhyme, rhythm and flow.

Listening and receptivity are key. I am hugely dependent on receiving inspiration from Holy Spirit. My inner ears need to be attuned to His leading and guiding, those soft soul whispers He brings.

I want my words to be few where an excess might be harmful. I want my words to be seasoned with salt, leavened with grace and full of God’s mercy and love. I want them to matter but not be so measured as to lose their vitality.

As a work in progress I fall far short of these lofty goals, of course. The good news is that God doesn’t give up on us. He is able to help us tame our tongues and frame our speech, written or verbal, in the light of His word.

“Jesus, today I give you my words. Would you remind me to be slow to speak, quick to listen? I want my speech to make you smile, build others up, and open doors to your love.” ~ ‘Jesus Every Day: A Journey Through the Bible in One Year’ by Mary DeMuth

Rusty as I am, I’m stepping back into these pages with courage and faith only God can supply. And with hope burning strong that the journey I am on will scatter a few seeds of hope in your soul as well.

Beginning again

my fingers are poised
I’m getting ready to write
as an act of faith
because the well has run dry
it requires priming again

my heart is racing
with hot adrenaline shots
it’s so hard to start
there is too much at stake
after such a long delay

my brain is stalling
tricky to get it going
levers are rusty
they don’t grind so easily
cogs are clogging up – they freeze

how to begin
how to brave the virgin page
how to continue
those are the problems I face
they’re stopping me in my tracks

I must simply start
there is no turning back
listen to my heart
wait for inspiration from God
it requires courage and trust
© joylenton

 

words, beginning again, tanka poem excerpt @poetryjoy.com

prompt: a way of easing back into writing after taking a break

A blank page can be rather daunting, can’t it? When you want to ease yourself back to writing again after taking a break, there’s often no better way than by responding to a creative prompt. It helps that someone else has done the initial thinking work for you! Though Holy Spirit inspired listening to life is invaluable to me too.

One of my favourite creative prompts to dive into after resting my words for a while is the Twittering Tales series—where we write within Twitter’s character limit restraints in response to a photograph—hosted by my delightfully eclectic poetic friend Kat Myrman, especially because images so often stir creative juices in me.

Today’s offering is more light-hearted than usual and has veered in the direction of both poetry and prose. I hope it inspires you to have a go yourself….

photo by leoperezwildadventure – courtesy of pixabay.com

Few stopped to savour the glorious view spread out before them, or note the delightful sounds of wildlife in the dense vegetation, intent instead on clicking their cameras, thinking only of how they would share some stunning images on social media to impress their friends with.

(278 characters)

cameras poised and eyes peeled
they had no inkling of how their
canoe was sinking, letting in water
enough to pool and wet them well

they were so enchanted by the scenes
before them, and those to come, that they
ignored the feeling of soggy feet until, too
late, it became waist deep at least

(280 characters)

Bearded hipster Harry sat in the back with his face set and grim. He didn’t want to spoil their fun but he knew his situation was getting desperate. As the vessel keeled this way and that as they turned excitedly, he felt his stomach contents protesting with their every movement.

(280 characters)

What helps prompt you to write or helps you to restart after a creative lull? I’d love to hear in the comments below. If you would like to join in you can find Kat’s beautiful blog here and this week’s Twittering Tale prompt here* Enjoy!  🙂

simplify: simplifying by expanding our holy joy #FMF

 

January invites us to set new goals and parameters, expand our plans and interests, or maybe mirror winter-bare trees as we try to simplify, pare back after the indulgence of Christmas excess, shake loose our encumbrances and embrace less.

Minimalism began to whisper my name a few months ago and (at a snail-like speed, of course), I began tentatively journeying towards it. However, I have been greatly hampered in my efforts to cut back and declutter, due to the usual depletion and weakness, higher priorities demanding attention and worsening health issues.

While my home has small areas that are trimmed back to basics, much of it is still very cluttered, messy and untidy. Although I haven’t given up on changing that scenario, even if my health and inner life look like they need to be a top priority right now.

Simplify

Looking around my house, I still see evidence

and detritus of Christmas, but is that a bad thing?

Shouldn’t the incarnation of Christ be at the heart

of my home, my life, my work and witness for him?

I need to simplify, I really do, not just remove the

mess and clutter but make God the primary focus

of my life, and try not to live in a me-centric way

where holy joy cannot get a foot in the door or stay.

I need to simplify, have a daily soul cleanse and

decluttering, plus a minute-by-minute awareness,

mindful walk of faith. If not, I am in grave danger of

creating islands of junk, falling foul of their stink

and letting rot sink into my soul, because my

perspective gets skewed. Lord, would you help me

to try to simplify, to place all that I am into your hands

and centre my thoughts more on living according

to the Light within? May I follow your footsteps, seek

hard after your heart, surrender to your loving plans

long created for me to fully believe and receive.

©joylenton

**This year my primary focus is simplified down to an essential, as I aim to prioritise my God-given word of “joy”**

Today’s joy notes…

  • my sore throat easing and pain being less invasive
  • a good night’s sleep for once, praise God!
  • energy and inspiration enough to write
  • flu symptoms abating a bit, yay!
  • a beautiful bright, sunny day, which lifts my mood immensely

I am also joyful to be joining with my lovely five-minute-friday friends after a long, long absence! You can find us sharing our words here. and you’re very welcome to join in too. This week’s word is ‘simplify’.

 

PS: In case you’re interested in the concept of minimalism, I’m getting a lot of useful tips and inspiration for a minimalist lifestyle from the ‘Becoming Minimalist’ blog, in reading Joshua Becker’s book ‘Simplify’ and dipping into his more detailed read, ‘The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own’.  🙂 ❤

let: when wishes become a way of life #thedaikyhaiku 24

 

As I reach the tail end of this October writing marathon, I must confess that my reserves are very depleted. No surprises there. 😏 But I don’t want to allow discouragement in or let myself become derailed by fatigue. Those things can so easily define my days.

Here’s the thing. I want to go out on a cloud of grace. Same way as I came in, in fact. God carries me each day, holds me close to His chest and whispers words of reassurance whenever I feel defeated by life.

If I am wanting to let anything affect me during these oh so weary days, then let it be joy. Let it be love. Let it be peace. Because I’m done with yielding to my SAD feelings and allowing my body’s state to dictate how my days are shaped. I want to surrender to God most of all, hard as it can be sometimes.

Will you join me? if your health or life is less than tickety-boo, then give it over to God instead of giving yourself a hard time, or wallowing in hurts and slights. Yes, they are a pain, quite literally. Yet what God is willing to give to His children far exceeds those things.

Whatever is troubling your soul, let it be, my friend, and let God be who He wants to be in your life: a rock-steady Hope, a force for Good, an Anchor to hold you firm, a sea of Grace, a river of Peace, a Saviour and your closest Friend, and so much more than we can ever imagine.

let it be

let joy permeate
let love be my calling card
peace be my heart’s state
©joylenton

If my words are insufficient, then why not let the Beatles song above persuade you to let go of your cares? PS: John Lennon was my favourite!  🙂