Shades of purple

shades of purple

Life is a rich variety of colours, shading dark to light, dull to bright.

And we experience the same as emotions of joy and pleasure soon seep into sadness and pain.

When we live with invisible illness, like Fibromyalgia, M.E and Arthritis, it can be hard for others to appreciate the way it colours our outlook and darkens days with its brooding presence.

I love the colour purple, and because it is also the shade chosen to represent Fibromyalgia awareness, I have an even closer affinity with it.

The butterfly symbol reminds me that I can float free of my circumstances as I seek treatment and help, support and relief.

When I rest in God’s healing powers and soothing waters of grace, my mind and body are more at peace.

He binds up our wounds, grants us grace to live with pain and to sense His presence in our darkest times.

BUTTERFLY symbol for Fibro

Shades of Purple

Ringed black and blue

visible wounding

heavy bruised stain

seeping into skin

with tender, throbbing pain

But you wound internal

pulsating deep

Fibro fingers

prodding, poking, pain

that always lingers

Morning stiff

to greet the dawn

making body stumble

movement slow

with risk of tumble

Purple prose

swallowed down

as limbs grind painful

muscles sore, gait unsteady,

awkward, shameful

Echoes of dark

bleeding out of day

escorting in the night

with sleep-elusive sigh

as body seizes tight

Purple-coloured robes

draping royal and holy

a mantle of love

covering aches and pains

with grace from above

Shades of purple

tinged with layers of faith,

bringing strength and healing

as God’s heavenly light

shines with Hope revealing

©JoyLenton2013

**NOTE** –  Sadly, my weary brain wouldn’t co-operate and let me write a new poem today, therefore I’ve chosen one which originally appeared in a Words of Joy post.

But as it was written in just over five minutes it seems a suitable one to choose for today’s #write31days and #fiveminutefreewrites prompt:‘purple’.  The rest of the prompts for October can be found here. You can also catch up with more of  these posts at my Words of Joy site.

shades of purple PJ pin

And we weep:ode to Charleston

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Life is a precious gift, one we often fail to fully appreciate or see it for the wonder that it is.

And when lives seem to be prematurely torn apart, destroyed at the hands of another, then it hurts us all.

We feel the pain.

We ache with grief.

We mourn the loss.

We are connected in our weak and wounded humanity.

We see death steal vitality.

We seek answers and come up empty.

And we turn, as hearts do in their ache and confusion, toward the Author of life Himself.

We cry out.

We rage against the dying of the light.

We feel impotent in the face of injustice.

We weep.

And soon, we sense Him near.

Holding us close.

And weeping just the same…

And He wept

Outside, an ordinary day where wind

whispered a soft summer night breeze

Inside, some folks coughed and others

gently leafed through open Bible

nestled on their knees

Rippling the reverent hush

falling all around, while God’s word

was heard and devoured

And little did they know how

soon all silence would be shattered

when the room reverberated

with bullets…

Meanwhile God, contracted to a span,

incomprehensibly made man, saw

as He had on earth, how vile

humanity’s insanity can be

And He wept…

bitterly for those He loved, for

those He gave His all, who

scattered now like scarlet petals

crumpled to the ground

His heart tore, contracted even more

in sorrow, wept afresh with His

amazing grace

©JoyLenton2015

as petals fall to ground file image

We will not forget you, Charleston.

We will join our voices with your own.

We will not rest while unrest sits so deep in human souls.

We will not give up while anger rules and lives are stolen.

We will pray for hearts to be transformed and for the Prince of peace to break down barriers, transform and make lives new, bring hope and healing, forgiveness and faith for the future.

You are not alone.

We stand with you.

Seeking shelter

ashes of love file image ~ post on WoJ

Life can leach the life right out of us if we let it. Drain all vitality. Leave us limp and wilted as can be.

We seek a place to feel safe, free from harm, to rest and recuperate. A shelter for which our soul’s long.

My safe place? In my Saviour’s embrace. Beneath the shadow of His wings.

Clinging close to God’s side is where I want to abide.

And all the more as society (read:government-shaped attitudes) cause me to want to run and hide away.

There is no stable ground to be found in this world. All is shifting sand. Fickle and failing.

Those with sickness, disease and disabilities are increasingly marginalised and ostracised by a society quick to point fingers but slow to lift them to help.

Compassion doesn’t often seem to extend to those too ill to work. We are presumed to be lazy good-for-nothings, until proved otherwise.

The poem below was written out of my personal experience of living with M.E, fibromyalgia and other chronic illness for over 20 years.

I wasn’t going to write today, depleted and drained as I am. But God graced me with these words on a subject I feel strongly about.

It is also written in empathy and sympathy for all who suffer and to honour International ME/CSF/ & FM Awareness Day.

‘Silenced’

silenced PJ poem image

My voice is weak

Silenced by the strong

While I have a soul longing

to seek a place of shelter

Somewhere I can belong

Bathe these wounds

in Gilead’s balm

Receive oil of joy

to slip away from harm

Pain penetrates each day

Its probing fingers linger

like a stubborn stain

Leaving me weaker than before

Coated in a covering of shame

Living on the margins

Broken by its borders

A limp-ragged doll, I blink

wary eyes at society

and slink away to hide

Because I’m washed up

by its tide, become detritus

on the shore, breathless

in my distress, dis-ease

But the Healer hears and sees

Cradles His hurting child

Gathers her fragments, lost soul

Breathes new life, new hope

to restore and make her whole

©JoyLenton2015

beach low tide PJ poem pin

Mosaic of a marriage

mosaic image for PJ mosaic of a marriage

 

Nobody can fully appreciate or understand the dynamics, anatomy and intricacies of a marriage, apart from the couple intimately involved in it.

And even then, much remains a holy mystery.

We are husband and wife, friends and lovers joined together in union and communion with God and one another.

Two become one in mind, body, soul and spirit in a divine alchemy of grace.

My marriage is heavily grace-dependent.

My background, experiences and personal problems have gradually made me someone other than the relatively carefree young woman I used to be.

As I’ve tried to work through a legacy of dysfunctional family life, childhood abuse, guilt and shame, (and the mental health breakdown they gave me) the one linked inextricably with me has also lived through it all.

Now, after more than 20 years of having M.E and chronic illness, my ability to be the wife he needs and wants is hampered further still.

Though we have struggled a great deal (and continue to do so), some things shine out bright and clear as I look back over the years:

Love will always find a way where there seems to be no way.

Faith can endure all things if it’s faith rooted in God and His sustaining power.

Hope may wither but it rarely dies.

Joy comes in unexpected places and circumstances.

Grace is a prerequisite for a godly life and marriage.

God gives us all we’ll ever need ~ even if we rarely have all we want.

In musing on these things over the last few days it is no great surprise that my mind turned to this territory to write about today.

And as I do so, I rejoice over the masterpiece God is creating out of the messy mosaic of my life and marriage.

‘Mosaic of a marriage’

Nothing in our courtship could have prepared

our youthful, hopeful, joy-filled hearts

for the prolonged grief and pain we’ve shared

or the need for so many fresh starts

Nothing in my mind could have foreseen

how very hard and challenging

living with me would have been

more your worst nightmare than dream

For we have been tried and tested

as gold goes through the fire

refined, processed and sifted

retaining heat, passion and desire

Nothing I can say will make up

for numerous ways I’ve let you down

You’ve had a bitter pill to swallow

gaining a face wreathed with frowns

But we, who are nothing without

the sustaining power of God

have finally made Something

of this life and path we’ve trod

Given grace from the One

who pours out His love every day

Given faith to persevere

when nothing’s gone our way

So I love you imperfectly

just as I am

and you’ve accepted my offering

a meagre nothing to the feelings

found within my man

Thank God for new beginnings

Praise Him for being true

Give Him the glory for making

faithful, if faltering, lovers

out of me and you

©JoyLenton2014

Joining with Lisa-Jo for #fiveminutefriday (yes, I ran over time!) ~ this week’s prompt is:‘Nothing’. You are very welcome and warmly invited to join in. Linking also with Mel and Laura

You can read more about how the issues above have affected my marriage in this post from Words of Joy.

I share openly in the hope of encouraging others to know they can live with and rise above their circumstances by the grace of God.

mosaic of a marriage file image on PJ pin

Equilibrium

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‘Equilibrium’

To be both fully human

and fully alive

is to be in touch

with joy and pain

holding both

in balanced equilibrium

as though they

were the same,

to drink willingly

from each cup

without reserve

as we learn to thrive

within this world

And think no less

than they deserve

of one than another

esteeming all

as sister, brother,

revealing how

we can survive

our time on earth

firmly planted

in Kingdom reality

and shared humanity

©JoyLenton2014

equilibrium poem 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.

Through a glass darkly

We see through a glass darkly.

A fairground hall of mirrors with shadows on the wall, distorted views.

Feet sinking into clay for those rooted to earth.

Easy to get stuck in the pit and lose The Way midst its miry depths. Feel the pinch as Master Potter re-shapes our clay form.

We cling to edges. Cry out in fear. Paste on clown smiles while bleeding on the inside.

For what is loss? What is gain? What or whom can be trusted with all the grief and pain?

Who has the upper hand when we’re all just kicking dust and sand?

Calamity calls and we cringe away, bewildered, running scared. Reluctant to face or embrace.

Until..

We remember One who ate dust as we do, choked on tears, felt pain within, without, gave and gave some more to secure our freedom and release from all that stings painful. 

He didn’t deserve to die. We don’t deserve His sacrifice. Bad things happen to good people. Sadly, this is a sinful, fallen world.

We live in an upside-down, here-but-not-here-yet Kingdom where we begin to accept the cloud of unknowing is part of belonging. 

And we look to the cross. Consider Calvary. Weep for the loss and rejoice in the resurrection. Marvel that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. 

All He asks is for us to lean on Him. Rest on His word. Seek strength and help in time of need. Find comfort and share it with others.

Meanwhile, we live with smoke and mirrors, with mystery and mayhem, with pain and with promise, with unanswered questions and faith.

One day all will be made clear. We will know even as we are known. For now? We trust and obey. Believe all sorrow, sadness, suffering and pain will come to an end and glory will come out of it all.

Prayer draws us nearer to God’s heart and there we find all the comfort and reassurance we need to keep us afloat. We begin to see an open door of hope through the painful places.

Though we may still emerge with unanswered questions, in the listening and leaning we learn to release the pressing need to know and rest in trusting all that we do understand.

God’s words to me a few months ago still hold good for today. I hope and pray they will bless you too.

Prayer Whisper:’Surrender’

Remember that I am only a breath, a prayer away. I live within you by My Spirit. You have access to all My gifts because the greatest gift of all is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Deep in your spirit rests the Spirit of the Living Christ. All of His qualities and abilities are available to you by faith. Though He works through your human body, there are still no limits to what can be accomplished according to My will.

As you surrender more and more of yourself to Me, as you allow Me to take, make and break you, as you let Me work in and through you ~ then the possibilities are limitless, for I have no boundaries. Take your eyes off yourself and your circumstances and focus on Me. Do not allow yourself to become swamped and overwhelmed by the challenges before you. I am keeping you safe through every storm.

Rest in My provision for you. Despite how it seems, nothing shall in any way harm you. The quiet centre of your being where I reside is invulnerable. Seek Me. Seek the Quiet Place and you will become renewed, refreshed and restored for the journey ahead.”

“In returning and rest you shall be saved,” says God through the prophet Isaiah, “in quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). They are all parts of each other. We return to our deep strength and to the confidence that lies beneath all our misgiving. The quiet there, the rest, is beyond the reach of the world to disturb. It is how being saved sounds.” ~ Frederick Buechner ‘Whistling in the Dark’

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Joining here with friends :Diana, Mel and Laura