seeds: seeing potential in our small offerings

seeds_ seeing potential in our small offerings @poetryjoy.com

Do you ever feel like you have little of real worth to contribute? Does your seemingly small offering feel like nothing compared to that of others? It’s a thought that often plagues writers and creatives, especially when the flow stalls for a while and we fear it’s lost for ever.

Maybe you look at your life through jaundiced eyes, trying to assess achievements and success? We can easily lose heart when we compare ourselves with others. What helps get us back on track is accepting seasons of plenty and lack, being content and believing how very much we are loved. Just. As. We. Are. And knowing any offering we give to God is never wasted in His hands.

“I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need.” – Philippians 4:12 Amplified Bible

We have intrinsic worth and value in God’s eyes. Whether we’re able to produce a lot or not. All He asks is for us to be willing to surrender ourselves and our lives into His hands. 🌻 Then watch how He brings beauty out of ashes. 🌻 A harvest of righteousness from our brokenness. Hope and joy out of what seems withered or dead.

“To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.” – Isaiah 61:4 TLB

Potential

it seemed far too small
a tiny thing to offer him
still she gave it all
and it made her heart sing

in the laying down
her seeds of life and faith
she knew she didn’t own
how they would be displayed

in her faltering hands
they resembled dust and ashes
handfuls of broken dreams
waiting to be resurrected

but he saw great potential
in every tear, hurt and pain
as she surrendered it all
he blew away each trace of shame

there was a long waiting time
when her soul sank, despaired
before the eventual rise and shine
flowered hope, joy and happy tears
© joylenton

seeds - poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Five minutes (ish) – yes, I frequently go over a bit –  is a small amount of time in which to write. However, God graces us with words to share as we commit our thoughts and time to Him. Today’s poem has been written in response to this week’s five-minute-friday prompt of ‘potential’. Come follow me here to join fellow word wranglers and read the great variety of posts being shared. 😊💜

cross: the counterintuitive way of the cross that sets us free

The way of the cross seems counterintuitive. Who would willingly walk to such a gruesome, painful death? Who could endure the ultimate, agonising sacrifice of a totally self-surrendered life? Not one of us, I would bet.

But it was the route Jesus took to restore us back to the Father’s side. It was a pathway paved with lavish love and grace. It created a shift in the heavens and altered our perspective on earth thereafter.

Jesus willingly yielded His life so that we could personally experience God’s unconditional love, mercy and forgiveness, His poured out grace for the human race. He had the joyous end view in sight of many sons and daughters sharing His eternal Home and glory to come.

His surrendered sacrifice inspires us to persevere in our own walk of faith, keeping the cross before us to remind us of the price Jesus paid to set us free from sin, guilt and shame.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

My haiku sequence vignette was written as a poetic response to these thoughts and a way to try to describe the indescribable, while recognising we are entering into the heart of the mystery of our salvation.

The way of the Cross

the way of the cross
is counterintuitive
we see surrender

and self-sacrifice
from Christ’s freely poured out life
as rivers of blood

mingle to become
oceans of mercy and grace
for the human race

and joy rises up
as he drinks the bitter gall
from death’s lifted cup

to yield his last breath
into Father’s loving hands
as curtain is torn

and darkness descends
making witnesses fearful
feel lost and bereft

their Saviour seems dead
but it is not over yet
for he rises from death

there’s an empty tomb
Resurrection has come
hope for everyone
©joylenton

Let’s rejoice with the Newsboys’ song and say our own “Hallelujah for the cross!”

PS: I’m also honoured to have a Good Friday reflection and poem featured on the Godspace community blog. Just click here to read it. And If you would like to slowly ponder the enormity of it all, you can join in with the Lectio Divina reading below that focuses on Isiaiah 53: 3-6. May God bless you with His amazing love, joy and peace this Easter, my friend! 🙂 ❤

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’.  🙂 ❤

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?! 😏

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!  🙂

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

finding deeper joy in Jesus

write31days-journeying-into-joy-finding-joy-in-jesus

 

Each day leaves markers of mystery, holy echoes of eternity. If we come with open hands, open hearts and receptive minds, we are in a good place to see and sense God’s footprints in the familiar, the way He frames each day with the supernatural.

Days when pain pervades stronger than before, weeks where weeping and weariness are our cloak and covering, we may fail to see God’s presence through the fog of our existence.

Yet it is there, in tiny threads weaving their way through each hour – grace glimmers shining like gold in the midst of life’s detritus.

It takes a willingness to expand our inner vision to heavenly hands holding us close. It takes a determination to want to rise above the dark cloud of our circumstances.

It takes faith and endurance and a deliberate seeking after joy when pain and grief sit heavy as stone. Because we only begin to sense God’s nearness when we take our eyes off the problems and invite Him to reveal Himself to us, then look to Him instead.

It also requires honest confession of our feelings, vulnerability and a deciding not to hide ourselves from Him. And so we let ourselves be held, simply caught in arms of Love. All our deepest needs are met here: at the foot of the cross, by the Father’s side, within the arms of Jesus, where heaven’s unlimited provision is made available to us.

We rest our weariness, surrender our stress, anxiety and fears, allow grace and compassion to enter in, to fill and flood hearts that were previously downcast. Our feelings may take a while to match up with our faith, and that’s okay.

We soon discover joy is wrapped up best in the person of Jesus. He tenderly collects all our tears, bathes our wounds in heavenly Light. God’s radiance sears joy back into sad souls, enlivens tired minds, floods fearful hearts with an anchor of hope.

God awakens us anew to anticipation as He alerts us to His constant outpouring of grace and continual presence. He restores, refreshes and revives our lives. We find praise and gratitude begin to bubble to the surface, flowing from a heart now set on fire by Holy Spirit joy.

And we can rise, go forth into the fray with an extra zest in our steps, with a renewed awareness of God’s constant closeness strengthening us for all that lies ahead, giving a fresh measure of grace for each new day.

May these lyrics (from ‘Just be Held’ by Casting crowns) and listening to the song below help lift and encourage you: “Come to Me, find your rest in the arms of a God who won’t let go.”

31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badgeWelcome to #day16 of #write31days of journeying into joy. I so appreciate you being here, friend! 

Together we can support, encourage and pray for one another as we learn how to journey deeper into joy.

write31days-journeying-into-joy-finding-our-deepest-joy-in-jesus

we can still rise with singed wings

write31days-journeying-into-joy-we-can-still-rise-with-singed-wings

 

The hot flames of fiery trials and afflictions can sear the life out of us. We feel battered, bruised and burnt. Maybe you’re going through some hard stuff right now and wondering just when it will end, as life causes you to fade and lose your lustre.

Sometimes we forget that we are not alone in the heat of it all. Jesus is in the fire with us. Though He may not always rescue us miraculously, He does promise the protection of His constant presence, the comfort of His peace in the midst of our pain and problems.

How does joy fit into all of this? Surely it’s an unlikely pairing with pain? Yes and no. We feel joyless and so do our circumstances, but we cannot have the continual presence of Jesus without His joy rubbing off on us.

It’s always there, always available. Our task is to see and sense its presence, the way joy waits on the other side of sorrow and sadness, sits with grief and partners us in pain.

Joy isn’t a feeling, it’s a faith thing, a spiritual gift and grace. We don’t have to try to muster up joyful feelings, only snuggle closer to our Saviour. Because He is the repository of every good thing, the anchor for our aching hearts, the balm to calm our storms.

When we’re seeking solace, we need look no further than Jesus. Sure, we do tend to seek it elsewhere, grope for hope in other people and other things, and sometimes they help for a while. But lasting hope and help are found in God, no-one and nothing else.

With singed wings

I want to bypass hard and sharp,

miss the shards of glass piercing me

Only joy can cut a bright path

through dark, press past all our pain

 

and sit waiting with expectancy

for us to shake off grey dust

and all that clings tenaciously

 

We rise again with phoenix

of hope – blazing us clean

as we finally find our feet,

climb free with singed wings

©JoyLenton2016

There is still beauty to be found in the ashes of these dying back days, the paring away of vitality. God sees that in us too. We are just as precious to God, whether lively or weak, vibrant or dulled by pain. He just holds us all the more tenderly as we lean closer to Him and the safety of His loving embrace.

31-days-of-journeying-into-joy-badgeWelcome to #day15 of #31days of journeying into joy. Thank you for following along. I am praying for you all as we undertake this journey.

If anyone would like to share their current challenges, you can do so in the comments below, or message me privately. Bless you for being here, friend.

write31days-journeyingintojoy-we-can-still-rise-high-with-singed-wings

When you need help starting over again

starting over - PJ

What if we could start over again? What would it look like to wipe the slate clean, rewind time and take out the flaws and failings of our lives?

Sadly, we would soon discover that the fault lies within. A flawed heart means faulty choices and actions. An unredeemed mind leads us into toxic thinking and bad behaviour.

And only God can fully address humanity’s needs and offer us a fresh start when we place our faith in Jesus Christ. We can begin again by God’s grace.

Then each day becomes opportunity for starting over. Each hour breathes out potential of the barely begun.

When I reflected on this season, it became clear that I’ve been stuck in a ditch of discouragement for several weeks. Led by my feelings and fast losing any joy I had before.

I wondered why joy was so elusive, where God was in the midst of my distress, why I couldn’t seem to get out of this cycle.

There were no pat answers. But God gently urged me to write a bit about joy, little snippets He whispered during my prayer times.

It seems joy is like a bright light glimpsed in the distance and we often miss the fact it’s also shining in us.

It felt elusive until I realised it doesn’t depend on my feelings at all. Because joy is a gift of grace weaving through our painful circumstances and giving us hope in dark places.

Once we realise how joy is always hovering close by, then we can start to discover it in numerous ways, such as: a slow unfolding realisation of its presence, a heart’s gratitude, an attitude of praise, a smile from a loved one, laughter bubbling up, a beautiful view, hearing God speak comfort into our weary souls.

How have you discovered or rediscovered joy hiding in plain sight? I’d love you to share in the comments below.

I’ve found that joy is a choice. As we read God’s word, receive and believe it, we start to notice how the life of faith is a series of conscious decisions we make every day. And we can waken to that hope with each new dawn.

Friends, I’m sorry for being missing here for a while. Too much life slowed me to a standstill. Thank you for your grace and patience. ❤

dawn beach tanka poem pin