confident: gaining the courage to write by faith

confident - gaining the courage to write by faith @poetryjoy.comCan I tell you a secret, friend? Listen close and I’ll whisper it to you: I’m not a confident person. Not. At. All. Just ask my family. Although I wrote reams of poetry in my late teens and 20s, shared them in church magazines and had a few published, any belief in myself vanished soon after.

Because I splintered inside after a major mental health breakdown. It took years of cooperating with God and counsellors to slowly piece myself back together again. But some things went missing. Including my ability to write like I used to.

My creativity became diverted into mothering and making a home. The writer inside lost her voice. She died for years. And it wasn’t until one of my sons began to write poetry himself and started a blog that my poetic fire was reawakened, if not the courage to begin again.

Thankfully, God (and family) gave me the impetus, courage and confidence to make a start. Now I can write about personal stuff in a public sphere and don’t get too anxious before I press publish. Because I’ve learnt to trust. To believe words will come as and when they need to. To rest my shaky confidence in God alone, while seeking to exercise the gift He has given me to share.

And I want to encourage you too. Especially if you’re at the hesitant stage of wondering if you dare release your words. If timid old me can do that quite happily, manage two blogs, write a book and be working on my next, then so can you. Or something similar, of course.

As we ask for God’s help, and trust it to come, we’re enabled to take the first step forward and so on. Your calling might look very different from mine, and that’s okay. Our part is to stay faithful to the unique-to-us gifting we have been given.

Courage to write

Thank you for the gift and grace
of newly formed words
taking shape in my head,
for the wisdom you give to decide
which to retain or reject,
what to discard or include
in a future work.

Thank you for these fledgling things,
these tiny chicks
with tender covering and barely
formed wings, these baby steps
towards a mature offering
and the joy they already bring.

Thank you for providing insight
and inspiration to my mind
and the courage to write,
the confidence that comes
from knowing you are on my side,
giving grace and giving light.

Thank you for the community
of fellow wordsmiths, who dip
their toes into the water with mine,
and for the love and concern we share,
the hopes, dreams and prayers.

Thank you for reminding me
of my place
in this vast ocean of creativity,
the smallness of it,
but how each tiny offering is
magnified and reaches all
who need to see and receive.

Thank you, too, for the dry seasons
when I lack energy, strength
or inspiration to create,
because then I sense you holding
me closer than before, while I rest,
become refreshed and restored.
© joylenton

confident - courage to write poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

PS: Another little secret: I wrote this poem a while back. It took more than five minutes but I’m sharing it in response to this week’s five-minute-friday prompt of “confident”. You’re welcome to join in here and read the great variety of posts being shared.  🙂

simplify: seeking a more ethical approach to Christmas

simplify - seeking a more ethical approach to Christmas @poetryjoy.com

As I sit with the world at my fingertips, I marvel yet again at the wonder of internet shopping at a mere click. Christmas means I get to buy my favourite people gifts from the comfort of my own home. Yet the relative ease can lull me into a false sense of security and control. Simplicity of consumption can mean loss of the ability to simplify.

Truth is, we’re all in danger of getting sucked into advertising hooks and consumerism’s greedy clutches. It’s all too easy to buy more than we need and neglect to think about its effect on us and the world in general. Though it’s vital that we don’t ignore it.

I’m a bit of a “it might come in useful one day” type of hoarder, truth be told. I’m also a wannabe declutterer and minimalist, who rarely has energy enough for the task. A baby taking tiny baby steps toward living with and spending less.

I have an increasing desire to simplify, purchase wisely and live more mindfully. And an increasing awareness of the heedless way I might be contributing to the world’s carbon footprint and ecological decay. Hence my poetic lament below.

Lament for earth

If the sky cries out
in sympathy
with dry, dusty earth
and sheds hot, salty tears,
then wake me up,
I want to be aware.

Let me not miss
a thing of earth’s
dying gasps,
be it by flood
or fire,
because I want to
cry with her.

Let us all weep now
for our carelessness,
our lack of faithful
caretaking and love,
our inability to take
good care
of our Mother Earth.

We have been
bad custodians,
errant prodigals
and wasteful ones,
who now reap
the cost for our sad
faithlessness,
while we watch its fast
decay and death.
© joylenton

“Then God blessed them and gave them this directive:  ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Populate the earth. I make you trustees of My estate, so care for My creation and rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that roams across the earth.'” – Genesis 1:28 The Voice

simplify - lament for earth poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Here’s a short list of potential gift idea resources (some of which I already use) and books to help us simplify, shop, gift and live more mindfully this Christmas and beyond. Though we need to be wary of letting too many “expert” books and resources discourage us in our seemingly small steps of progress toward our simplifying goals.

Ethical resources and gift ideas:

  1. 12 tips for a plastic free Christmas – Marine Conversation Society
  2. Home of Fair Trade products – Traidcraft Shop
  3. Alternative gifts and occasions at Yumbles
  4. Making it easier to be eco – The Wise House
  5. Living Naturally – The First Soapnut Apothecary in the world

Book suggestions:

  1. No. More. Plastic.: What you can do to make a difference – the #2minutesolution by Martin Dorey
  2. How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time by Will McCallum
  3. Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (And You) Can Make Our Globe Clean Again by Lucy Siegle
  4. Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Bea Johnson
  5. The Minimalist Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life by Joshua Becker

How have you been able to ethically simplify your Christmas shopping and preparations? I’d love to hear from you and pick up some useful tips! 🙂

simplify - weep now lament poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

fireworks: an opportunity to experience wonder firsthand – snapshot #2

fireworks: an opportunity to experience wonder firsthand - snapshot #2

Our local Lord Mayor’s Procession in July concludes spectacularly, with a brief but rather wonderful firework display. The best thing?  We have a direct view of the free light show it provides from our back garden, even if I have to try to balance on the rockery to see it properly.  🙂

Thankfully, there’s a pretty good view to be had from the front of the house as well. No gymnastics required! Several people line the street to ooh and ahh their way through the firework display. I often try to capture some of it on my phone, with mixed results.

Using a firework mode involves trying to hold the phone steady for the few seconds it takes to create the image. Patience is required. As it is for the best things in life. Though I can miss quite a bit by seeking to secure a memory.

Writing about an experience, especially when I pen the poetic, enables me to recover the magic and savour the joy for a bit longer. I actually took the firework images here and was so gratified by the way they turned out!

Fireworks appeal to all age groups. We enjoy the anticipation and delight that ensues. With showers of coloured light appearing out of nowhere. All of us love to experience a bit of wonder in our lives, especially when it’s unexpected and flares like neon in the dark.

God loves to give us unexpected blessings and graces. His hand on the minutiae of our lives is nothing short of miraculous and can often feel magical. Sometimes we see Him in fireworks. Sometimes He’s the quiet voice sitting by the fire with us.

Fireworks

night squiggles
neon bright, flaring sharp
colour dances
a ballet in the dark
we watch closely, entranced
© joylenton

fireworks tanka poem (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

other: learning to celebrate our difference and unity

In terms of being different and distinct, “other” isn’t necessarily a bad thing to be. Although we wouldn’t want to be extraneous or surplus to requirements, we all revel in our individuality and uniqueness. One person’s cage is another’s idea of freedom. Difference can be celebrated.

Unity is worth rejoicing over too. Because what unites us (especially as people of faith) should be greater than what might divide us. We all need others to relate to and to help us feel cared for, encouraged and understood. God made us for relationship. Together we are stronger.

Being “other” includes: the old and young, the able and less able, the small and great, the bold and confident and the shy and timid ones, the full spectrum of society and those who we might not look at twice, if we didn’t share a common humanity and feel a sense of connectivity in Christ.

Other

When we think about the other we consider
not only our sisters and brothers in faith but
the estranged, the alien and strangers in our
midst and ourselves—when we feel cut off
and adrift, isolated and lost to all but God

To be other is to feel excluded and less than
unless we think about our inclusivity in Christ
and how his otherworldliness makes us awed
and his willingness to include us is a pure act
of God’s supreme holiness, mercy and love

We are most like one another when we can grasp
our unity in him, our bond of faith acting like super
glue to hold us together, despite our differences of
doctrinal practices or lived out spiritual expression
as we respond to Holy Spirit’s ministrations within

I am the other half of you and you of me, for our
God-woven togetherness exceeds all boundaries
and wraps us around with his holy similarity, while
we bask in being wholly unique—yet joined in him
© joylenton

I’m delighted to be sharing my 5 minute poem with the fabulous #FMF writing crew today as we express our thoughts on this week’s prompt of “other.” Please click here to join in and read the great posts being shared.  Thank you! 🙂 

how: facing seemingly unanswerable questions

 

Questions abound as we watch the news and read reports that make us keep asking how and why, in a futile attempt to try to make sense of what seems senseless and beyond our ken.

Such  questioning thoughts have crowded into my mind, especially in recent months when world events have left me reeling for answers to questions I barely know how to express. Because not everything in life is cut and dried and man’s inhumanity to man is beyond understanding at times.

So I ponder and pray, particularly where injury, and worse, to children is involved. My heart breaks, tears flow and words follow close behind, as in the lament poem below.

Questions without answers

How do you not let your soul grow old, as
calloused as the soles of your feet, when you’re
forced to walk as one displaced, a person
despised for ethnicity and race, made
homeless, rootless, orphaned and lost
in so many ways?

How do you maintain hope when your throat
is always parched and your heart aches for
news of your beloved ones, feared dead, while
you trudge on seeking shelter, trying hard to
assuage the pain of dread?

How do you carry the weight of the world on
your stooped forward, wing-like shoulders, when you
can barely sustain the weight of unshed tears and
the loss you’ve endured, as well as the meagre
belongings you have procured?

How do you cope when there is not enough food to be
found to help a body survive, drink is a desperate word
and your children, who have learnt not to cry
or ask for it, scratch around with stones and sticks
for lack of anything else to amuse themselves with
while their tummies hurt?

How do you keep on believing sufficient help is at hand
and endure the humility of need and receiving, when
you have nothing to offer in return, apart from grateful
thanks, relief and your constant broken state, as you
become yet another faceless, nameless statistic
on TV and newspaper page?

The human spirit has to endure many things as it exists
in this world, but few are called to become uprooted like this
and turned into homeless, displaced souls, whose hope is worn
so low, stretched wafer-thin, whose mind and heart are heavier
than we could truly know or bear
©joylenton

Let’s pray…

Loving Father,
Although we know that nothing is hidden from your awareness, so much distresses our souls as we witness children, weak and vulnerable ones suffering at the hands of others.
Help us to see these atrocities as evidence of sin being unleashed in hearts that are far from you. Enable us to understand that evil unchecked is full of malice and pain.
Teach us to rest in your perfect peace, dwell close to your heart and seek to release our anxiety and fear, while being your love and compassion in action wherever we can.
May we be voices in the wilderness pointing to Jesus. May we believe that all sin meets its match in Him and all questions meet their answer there too. May we trust your Word and promises to be a safe haven for the lost, hurting and dispossessed.
Amen

**Friends, though we might feel helpless, we can raise awareness, pray, give practical aid or donate to help displaced refugees, like my favourite charity does**

home: our universal ache and longing to belong

home-our-universal-ache-and-longing-to-belong-pj

 

Home is where the heart is, our place of safety, solace and security—or at least it could and should be. Though for many, home is far from a haven. It can often be the very place they long to escape from.

Right from our earliest memories, home remains a place we are either joined together by strong ties of deep love and affection, or feel a sense of disconnection to. Because not all of us are loved well or treated right in our formative years. Not all of us desire to stay or return to where we began our days.

It is natural to develop independence and want to spread our wings when we get to a certain age, but some of us have an inner longing to flee a place where we don’t feel cherished, a home where we don’t seem to fit in or truly belong, a need for a different shelter of sorts.

That’s why God offers us all an eternal Home, a place of grace and loving kindness, a haven of perfect love and peace, an abiding sense of safety and stability and an anchor for the soul of true acceptance and rest. We have a taste of its beauty in this world and glimpses of its magnificence to come.

Meanwhile, His arms are all the safe place and shelter we seek. His love is unconditional, overwhelming and free. His mercy and grace help us to make changes in how we perceive our lives and His healing touch helps us to forgive and move forward again.

Here are 3 aspects of home in 140 characters or less….

twittering-tales-trainwindow

 

He feels a tug to look back

calling him homeward

His eyes realise how vast

the universe can be

He aches to stay as he

breaks the cord to leave

(139 characters)

 

A window seat is a way

to see more clearly, get

a fresh perspective, because

home is anywhere at all

No more or less than

a place to lay his head

(140 characters)

 

“Are you ready for this?

He nods, gulps back tears, turns to take another look outside, where home shrinks small while he faces new horizons. (140 characters)

The thoughts, poems and prose above, were inspired by my creative friend, Kat Myrman,  and this week’s ‘Twittering Tales’ photo prompt she has provided. Just click on the link to read more. You’re warmly welcome to  join in if you’d like to.

What does the word ‘home’ conjure up for you?

Do you feel ready to take a step of faith toward the next thing God has planned for you? 

seeing: thoughts on art, life and poetry

seeing-thoughts-on-art-life-and-poetry

 

It is said that seeing is believing. But what if those things we’re seeing are obscured somehow? Can we trust our eyes? Or do we require an inner knowing, a new perspective to override our senses?

The image above is my attempt to take something prosaic and make a new form of it. Would you believe that hidden beneath the vivid colours are some faded sweetpea flowers, a wire fence and a recycling bin? Yes, really.

We’re all artists at heart, creatives to the core. Because how could we not be when our Creator God made us that way, to reflect His ability to take, shape, mould and make something from nothing?

Though sometimes we don’t consider ourselves as such. But with the right type of media that suits us, a hefty dose of courage, encouragement, faith, patience, persistence and perseverance we can all discover just how to be our uniquely creative selves.

And even if that is restricted to our own pleasure in the process, it’s absolutely fine. I happen to love messing about with photographs and creating word art. If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you are treated/subjected to my imperfect attempts in those areas!

We have a choice to share or not to share, to tear up and try again if need be. We also have a choice on who gets to view our work and if we feel able to cope with a degree of public scrutiny.

With today’s #magneticmonday magnetic poetry offerings, I hope your seeing will be more than simply absorbing the words as they come. I trust the creative spirit in you will find some resonance with the poetic storyteller in me. There’s no pressure, because like all works of art, there is no single way of interpreting them. Let’s compare notes when you get to the end, yes?

A swim of light

You ask why these pictures

lie and have languid,

lazy, elaborate lives

Watch through blue fingers

as the urge is all

You never cry time 

on sweet sleep symphony

and summer forest trudging,

as those red bared rose

petals crush luscious as honey

and a swim of light shows

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-a-swim-of-light-art-seeing-poetry-pj

 

Our shady peace

Gentle winter-wet breeze

and dark moistened air

cycle soft above pure

love’s moon, and wild

grass grows like a sweet

blanket between lonely tree

Behold, earth is our shady

peace, as we relax beneath

and feel more alive here

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-our-shady-peace-seeing-art-poetry-pj

 

I love how photo editing apps can make such a difference  with their ability to completely alter an image into a new work of art.  Here’s a selection of some of the best editing apps for i-phones and these are great with an android device. I use picmonkey and canva to help me create blog post images. You probably know of more inspiring apps and editing sites to explore.

How do you express your creativity best? What apps do you use to aid your artistic ability?  I’d love to hear in the comments below.