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. ❤

For God so loved

for God so loved PJ

Although the Advent season is now at a close, the message it brings continues to influence and change lives.

God’s love is eternal, everlasting and ever-available to us.

During Advent we are drawn into the wonder of the Incarnation, Christ made flesh.

It also pulls us into the holy awe of Easter where Jesus was willing to die a painful death for us.

They are inextricably linked, eternally bound by God’s purposes and plans.

We cannot view the babe in the manger without catching sight of the cross in the background.

Love comes at a price, and none have paid so high a price as the Son of God Himself.

Jesus literally died for love of us.

The wonder of it never ceases…

For God so loved…

Dear heavenly Father,

You loved; You keep on loving; You are Love

Love divine, Love Incarnate, Love excelling all other loves

It is Your defining characteristic

the essence of who You are and how You act

How can I begin to fathom the depths of Your love?

How can I experience it in all its simplicity,

its fullness and rich complexity?

Only by revelation

Only by faith

Only by acceptance

Only by grace

I read about Your love in Your word and it amazes me

I desire to experience it more in my heart and life

Would You live out Your love in and through

this weak mind and body of mine?

Would You find a way to touch the lives of others

with its heat, its power and all-consuming fire?

I rest complete in Your love

Because I need nothing else

Everything flows from it

Your love is the starting point of faith

and will be with me beyond the grave

In humble gratitude, I give thanks for all

I have already seen, believed and received

of Your inexhaustible, unconditional love

and all that is yet to be known,

lived out and personally owned

Amen

©JoyLenton2016

for God so loved prayer PJ pin

“For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” ~ John 3:16

During the last few weeks I’ve been mulling over the new ‘word’ for the year which God whispered to my heart ahead of time.

He has made it clear that the emphasis for me for 2016 is to be ‘LOVE’.

To see how this has already affected me while I absorb its fuller implications, you can read this introductory post on my main blog, Words of Joy. 

I’m looking forward to seeing what insights are given in the months ahead and sharing some of them with you here.

Do you have a ‘word’ for the year? I’d love to hear what it is and how it affects you. Feel free to join in the conversation below.

Listening and learning

listening PJ file image

Words linger on in receptive minds and hearts. They outlive the moment of their birth.

Whether written, spoken or sung, soul utterances speak soul-deep and can have eternal meaning and resonance.

Though some have a bitter taste (perhaps when correction is required?), others express sweetness learnt in the dark places, the deep spaces where God speaks to those eager to hear from Him.

Last year, with ‘Listen’ as my #oneword365, was a time of more intentional listening for me as God drew me into closer communion with Him.

A period to perfect the art of listening… in theory, at least. A time to lean toward greater intimacy with the Lover of my soul.

Although, it is something I was already doing long before last year, and something I will continue to do for the rest of my life, always relying heavy on grace to show me the way.

How can we ever become so accustomed to God’s voice that we lose the wonder of being able to hear it?

How can I stop trying to catch those prayer whispers on the wind?

It’s a habit I would hate to grow out of. A way of life necessary as breathing.

So here I am, expressing oh so imperfectly in poetry, just a tiny taster of how precious it was, and still is, to attempt to hear from God.

‘Listening’

You whispered in the silence

of my waiting, watchful heart

It was hard at first to listen

but I was keen to make a start

My heart stilled expectantly

My soul sought to give You ear

My pen ready to savour

words of wisdom from You here

Sometimes I wrote hastily

so I didn’t miss a thing

Or waited for words to arrive

for the offering You would bring

I soon learnt I shouldn’t come

with an impatient, restless soul

Thought time spent in Your Presence

would restore and make me whole

Then as I went about my day

tuning my heart to hear

I found You spoke willingly

and I could sense You near

You have been training me

to pay attention, to heed

the soft whispers of Your voice

The soothing balm I truly need

As I go through the year ahead

I pray I’ll remember, hold dear

the things You have said

to guide, reveal, repair

And pass on Your wisdom

to other hungry hearts

who long for the messages

which Your voice imparts

©JoyLenton2015

heart PJ file pin image

You may wonder what ‘word’ God has given me for 2015. However, it felt right to linger longer with listening for a while before letting it go as my main word to mull over.

And I’d like to encourage you to persevere in your own times of listening to God, to take opportunities you may have for a few minutes pausing in prayer, and ask Him to speak to you in the silence of your heart.

It can feel rather frustratingly like trying to find the right radio frequency at first, but that makes it all the more precious when you can ‘tune in’ and hear His voice, and it will get easier over time.

I hope to write a poem soon about my new #oneword365 it but you can read the big reveal over at ‘Words of Joy’ if you’re eager to know it now!

**Note** ~ I’m a bit late catching up with things after being  particularly unwell since Christmas, but I hope to pen poetry here as often as God gives me words to write and energy to share them. The poem above was actually written a few weeks ago, waiting for a moment such as this to air.  A rather belated ‘Happy New Year’ to you all! Thank you for your support throughout 2014. I really appreciate it. 🙂

The art of listening

Listening closely to how God is operating in our lives and the world around us has the potential to renew our minds, increase our joy, and help us to maintain an attitude of gratitude.

All this takes place as we record what we see, sense and hear through eyes, heart and spirit.

But in a world of chaos and noise we can struggle to hear Him.

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world” ~ C.S Lewis

As I attempt to put into operation my #oneword365 of ‘listen’, I know it will be a test and a challenge.

What helps you to listen to God’s voice? 

Please share in the comments below.

‘The art of listening’

Lord,

Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of words

where voices everywhere are clamouring to be heard

above all that’s really necessary as a life-belt for my soul.

And all it craves is to avoid sinking into despair and doubt

while being tossed about on waves of opinion and uncertainty.

For I’m slowly discovering that the art of listening

is a spiritual discipline akin to any other, requiring

great patience and humility, both of which

I sorely lack in my heart’s vocabulary.

So I find I am being thrown hard

on penitential knees in an effort

to find ways to serve and please You.

May I seek Your Presence, find wisdom and discern

as I listen, lean and learn to pay attention and to heed

the essence of all You are saying 

in a myriad of ways to me here ~ today.

And may I follow willingly, instead of going

mindlessly about my own way

©JoyLenton2014

 

Sensing His Presence

Come away for a while. Sink into a comfortable seat. Resist all rush and hurry. Rest your weary body. Ready yourself to receive from the Lord.

Breathe deep ~ be calm ~ find a place of stillness and peace.

God is with us ~ we are on holy ground.

Seeking the supernatural in the natural.

Experiencing the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Each time we make space for God’s glorious Presence, He enlarges our appetite for it ~ a holy hunger develops.

The new year could be a time ~ of deliberate listening ~ to those Holy echoes in mind and heart ~ whispers on the wind ~ as God imparts His life to us ~ in a journey without end.

In the awareness, attention is required, a stilling of the soul, a watching and waiting, every sense attuned and alert.

I have heard prayer whispers intermittently throughout this year, and they are speaking to me more as I re-read them.

Now I sense a call, not just to ‘Come’ and approach His throne of grace but to linger, lean hard, and listen… the word He has given me for 2014.

And the first thing to heed is how God makes Himself known to us in myriad ways as the poem below describes.

‘I AM’

I AM

earthquake and volcano’s fiery outpour

waves lapping gently on the shore

wind ripping leaves straight off the trees

the soft caress of a mid-summer breeze

Grey fog and mist obscuring the view

an irredescent-coloured rainbow hue

a wake-up trumpet’s strident sound

peace and stillness in the air around

I AM

The One who has tasted salty tears

brought joy and comfort to your years

stamped upon all your enemies and foes

walked Earth with sand beneath my toes

Who felt forsaken on the cross

as I defeated sin, death and loss

cried out in nail-pierced agony

to secure your forgiveness and set you free

I AM

The Lion of Judah’s victory roar

as I keep you safe for evermore

blood and water, Spirit and Life

to heal, restore and deliver from strife

Songs of praise without an end

your beloved and closest Friend

echoes throughout human history

whispers on the wind ~ Holy mystery

©JoyLenton2013

I would be honoured if you would join me in learning how to listen better to God in 2014 as I aim to keep a prayer journal, share ‘Prayer Whispers’ and poetic inspirations here and write longer blog posts about my discoveries on Words of Joy.

May you be filled with a sense of awe and wonder and be greatly blessed in seeking and sensing His Presence in the year ahead. You can also join in with #oneword365 here.

Happy New Year to you!