Hope manifests in Jesus

hope-manifests-in-jesus-pj

 

Hope has felt rather elusive this week, as I’ve been battling several puzzling and frustrating technical issues which have succeeded (so far) in locking me out of my Words of Joy blog. Yes, really.. ūüė¶

If anything, despair has been my constant, unwelcome companion over the last few days. Despite my best efforts to resolve the matter, it remains a mystery to me. It’s also been far easier to sink with discouragement, admit defeat, rather than see the positives.

Thankfully, sharing this burden with others and getting prayer support, as well as sitting quietly with Jesus, has helped tremendously to shift my perspective.

All the same, the poem below came out of a painful place where I am learning to fight back with joy, to rest in God’s provision (I still have this place to write in – hooray!) and calmly work toward a resolution.

With a fresh measure of hope, I offer these words to you, with the prayer that you will begin to rediscover hope for yourself if it’s been a bit absent recently…

Hope manifests

We carry the world’s echo within, its resonance

stretching hope thin. Life weighs heavy as stone

and we scratch like hungry hens seeking seeds,

paw at parched ground before us – come up empty

 

Lifting our eyes to a larger horizon, we sense

a gentle presence like soft fronds of a feather

tickling our souls. No harsh shouting here,

no risk of being swallowed whole, of disappearing

 

down a black hole of loneliness. Instead,

we see Light shining in crevices, lifting gloom

with glory markers. And as we turn again

to feel its refreshing rain, Hope manifests

 

as the eyes and arms of Jesus, bringing

joy and comfort to weary hearts – wrapping

snug¬†like a warm duvet on a winter’s day

 

We nestle within the folds of hope, held

fast, secure at last, while chaos still

reigns, but calm is now restored within,

because we are resting our souls in Him

JoyLenton2016

I’m so thankful for these grace gifts:

  • God’s continual goodness and grace
  • hope in life’s dark places
  • supernatural calm displacing anxiety and stress
  • patient endurance to get through trials
  • kind friends, loving family, help at hand
  • prayer support just when I needed it
  • inspiration coming
  • words to write

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tunes without the words,

And never stops at all

~ Emily Dickinson

hope-manifests-poem-pj

That’s how the light gets in

how the light gets in - PJ

Light infiltrates a forest. Its fingers spreading wider as it turns from spotlight to flood.

What began as just a small reveal soon illuminates everything. That’s how light works if we let it in.

Brightness beams its way into each day. We may not always see or sense it if our eyes or soul are dulled.

God sends His presence forth in rain and thunder, blaze of creation’s beauty and soft foggy breath of subdued sunlight.

There isn’t a place, space or person that can remain permanently indifferent to His penetrating, laser-light gaze.

Light will find a way to penetrate our days. The tiniest crack in the surface of things becomes an opening to grace. 

“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in” – Leonard Cohen lyrics from ‘Anthem’¬†

God loves us too much to leave us alone to stew in our situations, or become derailed by challenging circumstances.

As our loving heavenly Father, He cares tenderly and compassionately about how His children are and how we feel.

I’ve been laid low lately with increasing physical and mental health challenges. It’s still hard at times to see the positive.

Each day is a fight to choose joy. To choose hope over despair, courage to go on instead of discouragement to grind to a halt.

Being mortal can seem like a burden on days when I yearn for a life beyond the one I am living. Maybe you’ve been there too?

But God… – two of the most important words in the universe – reminds me that you and I are¬†birthed for a reason, here for such a time as this, destined for a purpose we can barely sense or taste the fullness of even as we’re living it.

All God asks is that we allow His Light and Love admittance, one small sliver at a time, letting it warm our hearts, restore gratitude and illuminate the path before us.

As God shines His goodness and grace into our hearts we begin to see how our very weakness and brokenness, the cracks in our earthly existence, are the means by which He enters in. So there is hope for us all.

A small reveal

There’s a sliver of light

snaking through these dark

curtains of discouragement

Barely a beam can be seen

but a softening ray may

just be discernible

It’s thawing shivers of ice

Cracking the surface

of seen things, making way

for the Unseen realm

to penetrate my

feelings of overwhelm

We think we need a road

to Damascus experience

But sometimes God shines

a tiny, subdued light instead

Enough for us to see and kneel

marvelling at this small reveal

©JoyLenton2016

How is God revealing Himself to you in this season? 

What helps to keep you stable in life’s storms?

A small reveal poem pin - PJ

Getting ready to dance

getting ready to dance PJ

There are times when I’d love to be able to dance again.

I miss being able to move freely.

To have a co-operative, healthy body with energy buzzing through me.

The last time I attempted to dance was at a wedding, ironically to Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’.

It was more of a one-song-wonder than anything else and I couldn’t quite put my all into it either.

Little did I know it would be my swansong as a dancer.

I’m not trained or gifted in any way, but I’ve always enjoyed dancing and took it for granted that I always would.

What followed was a serious relapse in my previously moderate M.E symptoms, rendering them severe by overdoing things.

It was many years ago. I’ve not been able to dance since.

I watch and I smile when others do, and I say it’s okay because I’m dancing on the inside.

Yet one day I know I will dance for real. Be held by and hold onto my soul’s Lover.

I’ll be ready, willing and able to move freely again.

Here’s my five-minute-friday way of dancing with words..

Ready to dance

I’m a pale wallflower

hiding in the corner

Biding my time watching

the way others dance and sway

My feet have forgotten

how to dance, but still

they tap lightly to the beat

My body too weary to move

I fail to get into the groove

Who would want to dance

you see, with a woman bent

and bowed by having M.E?

flower

And then I see You

standing there with a

look at once safe and

loving, so familiar

You smile and reach out

for my reluctant hand

as I wobble up and finally

stand, looking only into

Your face as you bring me

close into a warm embrace

ca. 2003 --- Hand Reaching --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Whispering endearments

to my hurting heart,

saying this is only the very

start of a lifetime journey

You are bringing me to

where I’ll run and

I’ll skip and I’ll

laugh with joy, and

I’ll always get to

dance with you

girl dancing

We move to the gentle

rhythm of Your grace

and I sense a loosening

in my soul, a warm

flush rising to my face

as energy unknown flows

and rushes through

this body of mine, now

made complete and whole

©JoyLenton2015

You’re warmly invited to join in with the regular #FMF word dance going on at Kate Motaung’s place.

We skate around perfection, move to the beat of our clocks as we write freely for five minutes – I went over a little here.

Just bring your words and join in the fun. We’d love to see you there. ūüôā

Aim at heaven

Aim at heaven - CS Lewis pin

Reality and truth are hard to define. We all live with shifting perspectives, objectives and definitions.

Circumstances cloud our judgement. Pain makes us doubt what we thought we knew before.

Life constantly remoulds our thinking, stretches our boundaries.

We sense we are born for more than earthly striving. Our gaze begins to rise heavenwards.

Where can we turn for wisdom? Who will guide us into Truth?

What if we really believed what the Bible says, about how Truth is a person and not an idea?

Jesus came that we might have life in abundance as we place our faith and trust in Him.

He alone can fully answer the questioning soul’s concerns because He brings truth and reality as seen from God’s perspective.

Here, we see in part, understand but a little, comprehend only a fraction of what is taught and revealed, given and received.

We aim at heaven and get earth thrown in, but we still live with mystery into eternity.

So we grow in faith, life and maturity and learn to live into the answers to come.

And we finally become satisfied in the not knowing of all our heart desires to understand.

Because this we do know… we are deeply, unconditionally loved, here for a purpose beyond the present, brought into relationship with God, and able to trust Him in the silence and the dark as well as in the light.

‘Reality’

The greatest reality is seen in divinity

The essence of all that is and exists

Expressions in every place

providing glimpses of grace

A revealing and concealing combined

An unfurling in hearts over time

Whispered sounds down corridors

of years, and roar of waterfalls

echoing in our ears

We see and sense Him all around

Because God is eager to be found

Dark valley-life with heaviness of cloud

acts like a muffler and a shroud

Each storm sends us to our knees

where we offer up our earnest pleas

Our reality too rocky to bear

until we sense Him drawing near

Offering faith-filled walk on water

to every drowning son and daughter

©JoyLenton2015 

Linking here with Barbie at The Weekend Brew where soul refreshment is being served. Come and join us?

reality poem pin

Living on the edge

child living happy on the edge PJ file image

Living on the edge unsettles me. I’m hard-wired for safety. Live in the pursuit of peace. Find my rest in refuge.

Though I yearn for the ease of feeling more secure, of trusting so fully in God I am like a carefree child splashing in the sea of His grace.

When parental rejection, the sting of guilt and shame, or society’s scorn casts us off as being unworthy of attention, then we can feel miserable, marginalised, desperate for approval.

Being accepted, being heard, being respected, being loved is what our needy hearts long for.

The world’s way is to embrace you one day and spit you out the next.

Without deliberately seeking it, we have become edge-dwellers, shifting shadows on the margins.

What do we do when life tips us sideways and hisses, ‘You’re not enough’? Maybe measures us by the size of our wallet, the way we live, the gifts we give?

We look to the One who speaks a soft, soothing whisper to our souls. He says we are His cherished possession, dearly beloved, fully accepted in Him. We ~ you and me ~ are enough because He is Enough, so much so He died to save us.

Jesus came humble, came lowly, and seeks those who feel ‘less than’ to give them more than they ever could hope for or imagine.

And as we seek after Jesus, we see how He stoops in tenderness to offer us comfort, reassurance and hope.

In following His ways we will find ourselves living on the edge, on the margins at times, at odds with the world’s ways of thinking and reacting.

Because all who strive to live a God-centred life will encounter resistance, rejection and strife.

But we will also have opportunity to follow Christ, to be in relationship with Him from now to eternity and receive all that our empty, thirsty souls need to be fully satisfied.

‘Living on the edge’

Lord,

I feel like I’m living on the edge

of society, with a longing to be

more, to discover, to explore

and uncover deep hidden things

for which my impoverished soul sings

Most of life feels like a race

for which I have no pace or speed

Where the primary function seems

to be to make a mark, to succeed

And as I scoop with eager arms

to catch a smidgen of success,

it very quickly loses charm and

leaves me breathless, needing rest

Depleted, weary, scarred and torn,

I feel the blast, the heat

of this world’s scorn, and have

to make a swift retreat

On the edge of obscurity

can feel a scary place to be

until I pause, sense your presence,

then reassurance comes to me

You chose the road-less-travelled

You were often on your own

You didn’t become unravelled

but kept your counsel and your calm

Found purpose in doing the Father’s will,

strength from resting completely still in Him

And wisdom from Holy Spirit’s refill

Jesus, I want to live this way

To follow hard after your heart

In all I do, think and say, please

help me to live right, do my part

©JoyLenton2014

Friend, you don’t have to wait for the world to approve of you; God already does.

Come to Him; read His word, see and hear how much He loves you, receive His cleansing, forgiveness, mercy and grace, and learn to live freely again in His loving embrace.

**NOTE** ~ This post was written a while back and sat in draft form ready for a time such as this when energy is low and I’m away enjoying some special with the family. I am grateful to God for inspiration coming in abundance sometimes so I have the ability to share later. ūüôā

less travelled road PJ pin file image

Feeling, yielding and kneeling

black and white trees

‘Sometimes’

Sometimes I feel

stripped winter-bare and stark

skeletal ‘gainst the landscape

as winds whiplash

and cold and dark

scrape harsh to scratch

the bark of my extremities

when I am faced

with continual barrage

of life’s calamities

Sometimes I yield

as sapling, bend and sway

until twigs snap and quiver

and I shrink back

with hasty shiver as I try

to straighten on my own

against the fray

and flurry of the elements

at whose mercy I am thrown

in such disarray

Sometimes I kneel

with buckled frame

and creaking joints

at the sound of One

who calls my name

and bids me come to Him

above the chaos and the noise

seek strength from warming Sun

lift my eyes from dark and dim

with increasing calm and poise

sense heavenly rays ~ and I rejoice

©JoyLenton2014

This poem speaks about life’s dark times and challenges and how we can find peace and rest by coming back to the Father’s heart, lean hard on His grace, surrender, rest thankful and give Him praise.

Those “heavenly rays” can penetrate the darkest of days as grace glimmers shine best in the dark places and spaces of our lives.

One of the best ways we have of overcoming our low moods and sad thoughts is to make a conscious effort to be thankful and deliberately look for God’s hand on our lives. Keeping a daily gratitude journal is a great way to achieve this goal.

I spoke more about thanksgiving here and invited you to leave a comment about things you were grateful for. It also included participating in a random draw to win a free book.

**I’m delighted to announce that the winner of ¬†the draw is Mandy. Well done you! A free copy of Ann Voskamp’s ‘One Thousand Gifts’ will be winging its way to you as soon as possible. May it bless your heart as it has mine**

black and white trees ~ Sometimes poem PJ pin

Vestiges remain

lingering sadness PJ post file image

‘Vestiges remain’

Vestiges of summer linger in sun’s warm rays

before fading far away at close of day

Autumnal chill makes body and heart sink cold

and low before they find another warm glow

Each new sunrise brings hope of renewal and change

opportunity for life and love to become rearranged

We are born; we live; we die. And in-between

we welcome, embrace, and bid Goodbye

Every day has moments of goodness

and grace, sadness and sorrow, clinging on

today while we wait for tomorrow

Silver linings shine beneath all dirt and grime

and darkness hovers round us all the time

Light is always waiting at the door if we

have faith to let it in and believe for more

There are no wasted days or years

despite how bleak things may appear

God can redeem every one as we learn

to trust fully in Jesus, His Son

How do we live with this dichotomy?

By remembering the good, giving praise

and being as thankful as we can be

©JoyLenton2014 

door letting in light vestiges PJ file pin image

Longing to move

dancing queen PJ  file image

‘Final fling’

‘Dancing Queen’ did it for me

My final fling before

becoming so ill with M.E

I haven’t danced since

at a wedding, or some other place

If I did I’d probably fall

completely flat on my face

But I long to move

with style, rhythm,

ease and grace

For these limbs to

writhe smooth, and free from

stiffness, pain, infirmity

No fatigue would

slow me down

I’d be able to

walk all over town

to stride out with

confidence and strength

instead of limping along

in a weakened state

Maybe one day…

I will move with new style,

with energy and pace

For now… I rest, watch others,

wait here patient a while

sit still, with happy-tappy feet

and a wistful smile on my face

©JoyLenton2014

Now, I dance on the inside as my soul rejoices to know God’s goodness and grace. There is no confinement or constraint to inner vibrancy and joy.

“You have turned my sorrow into joyful dancing. No longer am I sad and wearing sackcloth. I thank you from my heart, and I will never stop singing your praises, my Lord and my God” ~ Psalm 30:11 – 12 (CEV)

girl dancing PJ file pin image

balloon 31 days blog file image 2014

This post is  the first of my #31days of writing brave and free.

Today I am inspired by the word¬†‘Move’ from Kate Motaung’s list of daily writing prompts that you can find here.

I will be joining in on an ad hoc, informal basis as energy and strength allow me too.

For more details please read this post over at ‘Word of Joy’. I hope you will be inspired to join in too!¬†

Aspects of hope

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One of the saddest things in life is to be so beaten down by our circumstances that we lose hope, albeit temporarily.

It is said that as long as there is life there is hope.

I believe we need hope to stir us into life. Aspects of hope to revive us.

Without it our dreams die, joy withers, apathy and resignation take the place of purposeful activity.

Our hope in God is not false comfort, or a misplaced yearning.

Rather, it is a courageous leap of faith where we believe in God’s impossibly wonderful grace and goodness, and discover that they are the surest thing possible.

Only God can bring beauty from ashes, joy out of adversity, and praise out of despair.

He shines His light in the darkest of places and overcomes the darkness. His Light will never be extinguished. It blazes hot into eternity.

All may look ¬†gloomy and grim...but God… can change our attitude within.

We trust in His power to breathe life into what seems dead.

To help us to hang on when we are at the end of our rope.

All it takes is a flicker of faith to ignite a spark of hope out of hopelessness. 

So don’t lose heart or hope, my friend.

Turn to His word and receive the promises wrapped up in hope.

Come boldly before the throne of grace and be refueled and refreshed.

Lay down your weary head and let go of all that weighs heavy on you.

God is waiting to pour His love out on you and stir the embers of hope back into life again.

‘Hope’

Hope deferred

makes a heart sicken

countenance gloom, eyes dim,

mood of doom, no joy within,

shoulders sink, frame bending,

tears blink, misery descending

Hope heard

makes a heart quicken

chin lifting, quavery glow,

something is shifting we know,

a tiny flicker rises again

no candle-wick snuffed out by Him

Hope stirred

makes a heart begin

to survive onslaughts

and thrive against aught

devouring God’s word, we heed

its message believed and received

©JoyLenton2014

Linking here with Beth,  Holley and Jennifer

candlewick ~ aspects of hope PJ file image pin

Living with shadows

This week I’ve had a wake-up call.

Ground has shifted beneath my feet.

Stirrings sit uneasy in my soul.

The life I thought I knew has become redefined.

As I reflected long and prayerfully on what my ‘love idol’ might be and the overcoming of it, some things have surprised me.

When you live in Shadowlands of sickness and pain, attempting to recover from a painful past,  it can be hard to see your way clearly. 

Now I have insight I wish I’d known about before.

God has pointed His finger at the familiar ~ people approval issues, insecurity, concerns about not being ‘enough’, putting other people and things before Him, spending too much time on social media ~¬†all painfully true.

Then another idea wove its way into my mind, threaded through my thoughts, and caused me to unravel.

How do I perceive myself? As a believer who is overcoming a challenging present and a painful past by the grace of God?

Or.. as an M.E and chronic illness sufferer who is still cloaked in shame, buried beneath pain, consumed by cares, ground down by the gritty reality of daily life?

A pit dweller, wilderness wanderer, valley-living soul longing to see daylight, scale mountain peaks, rest easy. 

Most of my days I aim to see glimmers of grace, maintain an attitude of gratitude, emphasise the positive.

But I still define myself as an ill person with problems ~ and that’s the problem.¬†

God is showing me I’m actually halting my own healing and preventing His full work in me by not seeing myself as I am in Christ.

I’ve stopped praying and saying out my healing in Christ. I’ve believed the lie that this is as good as it gets. I’ve made it my identity.

It’s become an idol because it steals my joy, inhibits faith growing, reminds me of where I came from rather than where I am going to.

And it has to stop.

‘Living with shadows’

A wrongly assumed identity

of living with shadows and infirmity

Christ calls me to believe I’m set free

unchained, unmarked, untainted, liberated,

whereas I see myself caught, ensnared,

decimated by childhood abuse, illness, M.E

As if I wore a label belonging to another

instead of one provided by my soul’s Lover

Living with pain and chronic illness over many years,

observing my career, hopes and dreams slip away

trickling with my tears as water down the drain

nothing quite the same, only weakness and fears

I’ve worn it as a shroud, death mask, daily dress

instead of clothing myself in His robe of righteousness

Feeling insecure, dis-abled, incapable

when God has gifts He wants to bestow

I’ve failed to receive and accept them all

while my thinking is focused on being unwell

We can only grow when we are willing enough

to let go of all that’s slowly killing us

©JoyLenton2014

I can’t deny the physical reality of my life; it’s effects are ever-present. Loosing and letting go of the idea of myself as chronically sick won’t be easy.

All the evidence is before my eyes. And the past is still pervading my days with its own anguish and pain. Abuse leaves a legacy, a scarring of soul, heart and mind ~ etched inky black stains. 

But I deny the spiritual reality unless I begin to call forth those things which are not yet as though they are.

Look into the mirror of His word and start seeing myself as healed, whole, restored, renewed. Speak out the promises. Live as though I truly believed them.

It won’t be easy. I’ve lived this inhibited, limited life with M.E for over 20 years.¬†Lived far longer with the scars of my past. Yet I know nothing is impossible with God. And I’m ready (knees shaking, heart quaking) to do this.

Not to deny the reality I live with but to embrace the life Christ died to give me. 

Because when God won’t let something go, then neither should we. When He asks us to let go of something, we need to pay attention.

Those things He may be pointing to in your life? It could be time to #listentoyourlife and listen to His voice.

You too can join in with Jennifer and the Love Idol community¬†as we seek to unearth our ‘Love Idol’, confess and address it.

I’ve been privileged to read a preview ¬†of the first chapter of Jennifer’s ¬†book. You can pre-order it here. And ¬†for the free printable resources, click here.

I’ve also been greatly helped on my continuing journey toward healing from childhood sexual and emotional abuse by readingNot Marked’¬†by Mary de Muth.

I’ll be writing more about where this journey is taking me in the weeks ahead and I’d love you to join me.