oak: for when you want to mimic a tree

“Think of the self that God has given as an acorn. It is a marvelous little thing, a perfect shape, perfectly designed for its purpose, perfectly functional. Think of the grand glory of an oak tree. God’s intention when He made the acorn was the oak tree. His intention for us is ‘… the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’ Many deaths must go into our reaching that measure, many letting-goes. When you look at the oak tree, you don’t feel that the loss’ of the acorn is a very great loss. The more you perceive God’s purpose in your life, the less terrible the losses seem.” ― Elisabeth Elliot

When we feel burdened, weary and depleted in body, mind or spirit, it can produce a kind of dull lethargy inside. Then, as we listen to what it has to say to us, we gradually start to sense a deeper message within our souls.

The loving voice of Holy Spirit speaks louder than our sadness and softer than our shame. God is calling us to pay attention and seek His help and strength. He longs to rescue us and set us back on a more positive pathway again.

Our desire to feel different, better, stronger assumes a greater urgency than our problems and pain. It cannot easily be ignored. We long for resolution and begin by seeking it in the best place we know: In prayer. From listening to our heart’s deepest needs, we turn our souls Christ-ward and lay these burdens at His feet.

Like an oak

let me be
sturdy, strong, unbending
like an oak tree
rooted deep into the earth
facing storms unperturbed

let me sit
as my heart steadily ticks
and take a deep breath
exhale anxiety and fear
with my burdened soul laid bare

let me stay
this painful course I am on
where life shades to grey
may I still emanate
holy hope, grace and strength

let me lean
and sway so I do not break
nor depend on me
but trust in God’s saving love
when I feel inadequate

let me sink
much deeper into Christ
inhale his strength
spreading faith leaves everywhere
with healing, support and prayer
© joylenton

“To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” – Isaiah 61:3 AMPC – [emphasis added]

You can discover more about the metaphysical meaning of an oak tree here and read about how weakness can coexist with strength here. 🙂 ❤

oak - like an oak tree poem excerpt - let me be sturdy, strong, unbending (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

waves: seeing sacredness in everyday things

“By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.” – Thomas Merton

A holy kind of noticing takes place when we view creation’s glory through a lens of faith and grace. Especially the minor things we might have otherwise overlooked. They begin to stand out for us as portents of promise, signs of beauty and praise, and messages of God’s love and grace. Will you pause a while to appreciate this with me?

waves - clouds - rural landscape - sky - trees - If we are to know life in all its fullness quote @poetryjoy.com

Sacred waves

Oh the calm, calm waves of sky
reaching out to me in scattered, skeined
arms of pale, muted grey cloud

singing out their love, revealing how
the deepest act of devotion
I might be capable of this day, this moment

maybe, is to simply watch and wonder,
pray, and absorb the gift they bring,
give thanks for my life, this offering.

Because here and now are the most
important moments I exist,
in which to sense a holy invitation

to see, touch and taste, to focus on
the divine aspects, the holy,
wholesome sacredness of this

oh so ordinary, fleeting, minor
moment when God chooses
to remind me of his presence,

and then to stretch out my fingertips,
to say yes, I will look, I will listen,
and I will receive your love and grace.

I will take this offering as a sign
of hope, and I will secure
it fast within my insecure heart,

to take out and examine again
on darker days, when light and joy
seem so very far away,

and I will recall the preciousness
of my soul’s brief noticing,
as a harbinger of light and spring.
© joylenton

“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.” – Martin Luther

slowed: hope for times when you feel sidelined

“Our rest lies in looking to the Lord, not to ourselves.” – Watchman Nee

Slowed

There have been times when I
wanted to be empowered
and equipped beyond my calling.

In my mind’s eye I have seen
myself doing better and brighter things
by your anointing and grace.

So it challenges and confuses me
when you say: No. Stop. Pause.
Wait. Rest. Not now. Not yet.

Waiting and waiting is hard
on a restless spirit which
longs to just Get On With It!

But to me, and to all whom you
call to come aside and abide,
it is a sacred call to obey.

May I remember this
if my soul resists and my mind
protests it’s ready for more.

Let me bow myself instead
to your greater knowledge
of what I can do for you now.

You alone know how this
life of mine should be shaped
with Holy Spirit’s help.

And only you can grant
all restless, fidgety souls
the ability to lean closer still.

Would you do that here, now,
in times of anxiety or haste,
so we follow your purpose and ways?

Would you help us to see how
moments of silent, small and slow
enable us to learn and grow?
© joylenton

Most of us hate having to slow down, so we either wait until we crash or we keep plodding on until exhaustion or illness forces us to stop and slow down. Then we itch to return to whatever we were engaged in before we paused. Or is that just me?

slowed - tree - branches - leaves - Instead of feeling sidelined quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

But what if we could look at it differently? Instead of feeling sidelined, we could try to view slowed down time as an invitation to rest and abide with Christ. Maybe God just wants YOU for now, your attentive presence, not what you can do for Him.

Because He values our attention and companionship above our activities and To Do list. Spending quality time with God is never a waste, rather, it’s a way to become refreshed for what lies ahead.

“God’s love is based on nothing, and the fact that it is based on nothing makes us secure. Were it based on anything we do, and that ‘anything’ were to collapse, then God’s love would crumble as well. But with the God of Jesus no such thing can possibly happen. People who realize this can live freely and to the full.” ― Brennan Manning, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus

slowed - Would you help us to see how quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

complete: God has the answer to our brokenness and pain

complete: God has the answer to our brokenness and pain - girl sitting with dried autumn leaves

Do you ever get times when you find you dwell far more on your brokenness than on God’s grace? When one more failure seems to suggest you’re unworthy in yourself? And social media, coupled with advertising, constantly reminds you how flawed, inadequate and incomplete you are? I do.

Your triggers might differ from mine, but whatever the cause it’s often hard to move on from our brokenness or fight back against discouragement, isn’t it? We can forget how very broken we all are before God and that He doesn’t demand perfection from us. We can forget that God’s grace covers all our sins, failures and mistakes.

We can forget what powerful discouragement fighting weapons we have in the practice of gratitude, prayer and praise. In seeking solace in Scripture’s rich promises. In simply asking someone for help when we’re out of our depth or find it hard to pray for ourselves.

I don’t like inhabiting the doldrums for long. And I am always relieved when God offers a loving arm to pull me out, especially when it comes unexpectedly through a five-minute-friday word prompt.

I am always lifted as I find a poem taking shape that expresses my feelings and reveals the solution as well, while God whispers Hope to my soul. He will do the same for you, too, my friend, in the way your heart needs to receive it.

Made complete

there’s a hollow ache
rattling around inside
issuing from the place
where I often seek to hide

it’s calling out my name
telling me I’m not enough
fuelling me with shame
I’m unworthy to be loved

then I hear another voice
warm as honey in my soul
filled with hope and grace
promising I can be whole

my deep brokenness
is no deterrent here
it’s a vehicle via which
my Saviour will appear

he knows all about my pain
whispers solace to my heart
makes me complete again
frees me from sin and dark

all I considered lost
broken beyond repair
is redeemed at the Cross
a gift beyond compare
© joylenton

I’m grateful God doesn’t wait for us to clean up our act before coming to Him, and He always has a place in His heart for the prodigals, the broken and lost.

complete - poem excerpt (C) joylenton - sad girl sitting on a bed @poetryjoy.com

I’m thankful for being given the means to share my poem with the wrangling wordsmiths that make up the fabulous #fiveminutefriday community. You are very welcome to join in or click here to read the great posts being shared. This week’s prompt is: ‘Connect’.  🙂

solo: pausing to listen and become refreshed

 

I cherish and need time alone. Solo suits me fine, especially when life overwhelms and all available energy to engage has dissipated. It recharges my failing batteries to be plugged in to God, my books and silence. Aaahh…

Except that silence is rarely, if ever, achievable, is it? Because we live in a world addicted to 24/7 activity and noise. Though if we can pause for a while, then we might hear other sounds that speak to us instead of rush and hurry.

Our own drumming heartbeat reminds us we are alive. Our own breath signals a need to slow and relax. Our ears, when attuned to silence, will pick up the slightest sound: leaves dancing, wind in the trees, rumbles from appliances, dogs barking or a solo song from a blackbird outside our home.

And when we listen to these things they speak volumes to us, revealing how we might love and crave our solo moments but we are all created for connection, for community and relationship with others, especially with God.

Solo

A solo blackbird sings into morning mistiness, his tune
dedicated to heaven’s breath and the unadulterated
joy of being alive, the sheer exultation of existence
while I sit inside a house, quietly listening, wanting
to tune my own heart to the eternal melody I can
hear heralding through an open window that is near

Yet somehow, something heavy seems to chain
me here to earth, something sitting on my soul
that presses me low, pushing me into isolation
despite the fact I am rarely alone, though often
feel as though I am, because this world is vastly
full, crammed with people, like tiny little islands

Our very individuality makes connectivity crackle
with defensiveness, and our need to curl away from
hurt and pain only makes us more vulnerable and
subject to the same, because God has created us
for togetherness, for knowing joy, hope, peace and love,
for relationship and companionship and soul friends

What we need is a holy seed to germinate and take
root within our hearts, a glimmer of grace to open
up our bounded souls, and let the light of God’s
presence permeate every part as it fills and floods
with heat and love, more than enough to set our
cold souls on fire and cause a thaw in our desires

Though alone in solo song, blackbird sings out first spring
to others, whether sister, brother or lovers, or her own
soul companions, who hear the sound as sweet music
to their ears and respond in kind with answering swift
harmony of voice and heart and mind, just as we are
created to do for one another, as God has designed
©joylenton

“Your love, GOD, is my song, and I’ll sing it!” – Psalm 89:1 ~The Message

As you relax and listen to the video clip below may it cause you to be thankful for the sweet sound of birdsong that is music to God’s ears, and usually to ours as well!  🙂

when we want thoughts to flow like water #thedailyhaiku 11

 

As a writer and poet I experience days, weeks and even seasons when words falter and fail, the flow stalled somehow. When it stutters to a halt it usually indicates that I need to stop, take a break for as long as necessary and just let things happen naturally in their own good time.

There’s no need to panic when you hit a writing hiatus. Thoughts flow more freely when we yield to the need for rest, stretching our our stiff limbs and getting some fresh air if possible. Straining to write rarely yields a good result.

And when we rest, relax, feed our souls with prayer, quiet times with God, our favourite music and good books, we find they tend to stimulate a flow once more. It might appear in small dribs and drabs but one day a stream will issue forth and we will write with words begging to be put down on the page.

If I desire to write poetry then it helps me to begin again if I read some each day. Gradually, the lines I see in everyday, ordinary things will leap out at me. My soul starts to spot a rhythm and cadence that can set me off in the right direction. Once a few words are formed, it isn’t long before a new poem takes shape with ease. Such days are beautiful grace gifts and blessed indeed!

flow like water

these quiet currents
flow like water over stone
rippling through my mind
©joylenton

available: being wholly and holy available #thedailyhaiku 3

 

God is continually pouring out His goodness and grace but we’re not always in the right mindset to receive it. Can we become more wholly and holy available? I think so.

All it takes to become available to God is the slightest turning of our hearts in His direction, a whisper of His Name, a memory stirring deep within, a recollection of how marvellously He has always taken care of us.

As we turn the eyes of our heart and our faces toward God, we are rewarded by a saturation of grace, an outpouring of peace, a rush of joy and a calming in our souls. Shall we do that now? A few moments in prayer can make all the difference to how a day turns out.

holy available

face cupped to sun’s rays

I’m holy available

please pour out your grace

©joylenton