place: when you’re seeking a soul sanctuary

place - #FMF - when you're seeking a soul sanctuary @poetryjoy.com

Do you have a place where you feel completely at home, relaxed, loved and secure? It’s a gift to have such a soul sanctuary, isn’t it? Though many of us struggle to find it and some miss out altogether, maybe due to the unkindness of others or their own limited ability to seek out a safe place for themselves.

Our homes are meant to be soul sanctuary havens. They’re supposed to represent the loving parental way God cares for us. But often they don’t. If you, like me, grew up feeling confined, insecure, unloved and unwanted because your family of origin didn’t provide the stability you needed to grow strong on the inside, then all is not lost.

“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” — Psalm 18:19 NIV

I found my safe place in God. He alone can provide the complete soul solace we need in life. Other people and things might try to plug the gap, and succeed to some extent, but God gives us the means to rest all that we are: our fear, pain and shame, our identity and name, our past, present and future, our weariness, brokenness, wounds and mess in Him.

place - tree - girl - birds - sunset #FMF - resting ourselves in God quote (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“You’ve always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all, a lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest. You’ve always taken me seriously, God, made me welcome among those who know and love you.” — Psalm 61:4 The Message

I am seeking

I am seeking
a quiet stream underneath
life’s detritus
beyond the fluctuating
a place that welcomes waiting

I am seeking
a still point in my life
to anchor me
when tides rise higher still
and I lose my heart, my will

I am seeking
somewhere secure and safe
a refuge
so I can reach out again
with courage, hope, confidence

I am seeking
signs of life when all looks dead
to survive
days of darkness and drear
times I want to disappear

I am seeking
more than this world contains
holy rain
deep connectivity
a place to sit, grow and breathe
© joylenton

place #FMF EH #9 I am seeking poem (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Adversity hits us universally but our ways of coping are as individual as we are. I’m learning to rest myself more in God instead of wearying myself out worrying about everything. Faith and trust, coupled with experience, have shown me it’s the wisest course of action, especially when I cannot help myself.

One place I always feel comfortable sharing my words is with the fabulous five-minute-friday crew as we write on this week’s prompt of “place.” You are welcome to join us here and read the great variety of posts being shared. 🙂

By the way, dear reader, you might like to know that the poem above has been taken from my forthcoming new book, Embracing Hope: Soul Food to Help Chase Away the Blues, which is an eclectic mix of poetry, reflections and blessings and is due to be published soon! I chose it because I’m way too fatigued to think straight, and it’s about a place where my soul feels secure, loved and safe.

search: seeking sacred traces in our lives

search - seeking sacred traces in our lives - clouds - sky - (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I’ve been on a search. All my life. But I didn’t always know it. It began in childhood, as I reclined on grass, looking upwards, with drifting angels in my eyes. Even floaters took on a spiritual significance in my child heart that ached to be somewhere else.

We have been hardwired to seek after truth, to yearn for beauty beyond ourselves and to want more than this earth can provide. It’s a holy space, a vacuum nothing else can fill. Although we might ignore it, or try to stuff it to the gills with earthly pleasures and desires, it remains. An eternal longing that never quite goes away.

My eyes were finally opened to the heart of God beating within when I was in my late teens. My search for unconditional love, affirmation and acceptance was found in Christ. His love still overwhelms my soul. The miracle is that He seeks us out first.

God’s love also opened my eyes to search more diligently for the living reality of His presence with us, His sacred footsteps in our midst. Because those who seek will find. Those who are thirsty will be satisfied. Our deepest soul ache and emptiness is assuaged and filled by being in relationship with God. 

“Ask, and you will be given what you ask for. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Anyone who seeks, finds. If only you will knock, the door will open.” – Matthew 7:7-8 (TLB)

Talking glory

Can it really be that we can see the glory of God?
Is it truly revealed to fallen, sinful us?

What is the glory we can encounter if we believe?
Is it nothing less than the faith in Christ we receive?

Or is there so much more to explore, to experience,
while we live and move and have our ordinary being?

Scripture speaks about God’s glory as his goodness and love,
as seen in his character and revealed in Jesus on earth.

It’s the essence of his all-encompassing presence.
It’s the heartbeat of heaven and a gift that is given.

It’s light immortal, unapproachable, hid from our eyes.
It’s a revelation of holy wonder, unalloyed delight.

It’s waiting to be discovered by human hearts, opening
up to us like the sudden blossoming of desert flowers.

It’s an enigma, indecipherable by our finite minds, making
us search hopefully for answers for the rest of our lives.

It’s a holy response to a human being, a spiritual quest
that leaves us breathless with awe and has no ending.

It’s who God is and how he shines, sparkling in rivers
and through bright sunset rays, full of heat and energy.

It’s a call to action, stirring our souls into liveliness.
It’s a deep revelation of God’s great power and grace.

It’s beyond us to describe, try as we might, because
God keeps most of his glory hidden and out of sight.
© joylenton

share - sunset - talking glory poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you believe [in Me], you will see the glory of God [the expression of His excellence]?'” – John 11:40 (AMP)

Thankfully, you don’t have to search far to find a fantastic writing community. Come join me as I add my poem to the five-minute-friday writers gathering here to offer their thoughts on the prompt “search”. Where are you seeing the heartbeat of heaven? Do share in the comments below.  🙂

just: when the wound of inadequacy is no match for grace

just - when the wound of inadequacy is no match for grace - heart - hedge @poetryjoy.com

There are times when my illness hurts my heart just as sharply as it affects my body. I experience an emotional pang on the inside. It rises when I am brought face to face with my limitations. And it feels as if I’m looking out on the world from behind a thick hedge. It doesn’t happen often but it stings, nevertheless.

Yesterday we had the pleasure of our young grandson visiting us for a few hours. I had worried in advance because I thought he might get bored in our rather sedentary company, and we might struggle to entertain him.

The rest of the week had been very physically active for him as he went out and about with his granny, aunt and cousins. But I needn’t have feared. God ensured that time with us would be a welcome quiet breather in his otherwise hectic schedule. It flew by and we loved it all.

And yet, when I heard about his earlier exploits, the heart wound of inadequacy became freshly opened. I mourned my lack of physical health and strength, and in doing so I nearly failed to savour the strong bond we have with him. It’s no less real or important for being different.

Fatigue and pain are high today and I didn’t think I could write anything. Until I flicked through my files and found this here’s-one-I-made-earlier poem, which seemed perfect to share.

Just this

It doesn’t feel like much, this tiny
offering she brings, a small seed sown
for the one who is known as King of kings.

And her heart contracts, flutters a bit,
because it just can’t be enough, can it?

All she has to give to him is broken sleep
and broken dreams, a weakened body,
weary and sick, where deformity sits.

She has no riches, no wealth, no treasure
to share, nothing tangible, just herself
and the pain and stiffness she bears.

Yet she hears a voice calling her forward,
gently encouraging her to walk toward
him with ungainly feet and aching limbs.

And he lifts her chin, smiles into her downcast
face and draws her into a loving embrace.

Rest here, my child, rest your heart and mind
and rest assured I receive your tears like they
are ocean-drawn gifts and precious pearls.

I know how much your heart aches to bring
me a suitable offering, and longs to have
a different kind of existence to be living.

All I ask from you is that you believe who I
AM and open your heart to receive all the gifts
I delight to pour into your soul’s reservoirs.

Your brokenness is a great gift to me, because
I work best within an open, contrite heart
and a surrendered soul, just as you are.
© joylenton

“God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress.” – Psalms 48:3 (NIV)

just - ocean - grace - just this poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Friends, let’s try to remember that our inadequacy is no match for God’s grace. He fills our insufficient souls with His equipping presence and love.  He gives us strength when we feel weak. He holds us close when we are hurting.

We don’t need to drown in discouragement, only rest in the One who knits us back together again. God alone can heal what is broken and wounded in us, including our thoughts.

Today’s offering is linking hands with friends at five-minute-friday. This week’s prompt is “just”. You can join us here and read the great variety of posts being shared. 🙂

where: seeking a place where we can belong #FMF

where - seeking a place where we can belong @poetryjoy.com

We all need to belong somewhere. It’s an innate desire from infancy. We crave a place where we feel safe and secure. And we make our home with loved ones, family and friends, plus groups, clubs, community and causes that are dear to our hearts.

This blog is one of my safe places on the internet. Here I can gather with fellow poets, writers and friends. It feels like my creative family. A source of support and encouragement, help and peace. A haven I miss when illness keeps me from staying connected with you all.

I’m not well enough to get to church, and haven’t been for years, so my spiritual home isn’t a building or place where people physically gather. Instead, church, in the sense of being the Body of Christ, is everywhere and nowhere in particular as well. I’m in touch with fellow believers around the world, who have a diverse range of expressions of faith, like I do myself.

We gather on the internet and via email. Our service to one another is to show love and care, have conversations, enrich thought, offer a listening ear and pray for one another’s needs. It’s a gift I am truly thankful for.

I wonder, where is the place you feel most at home? Who is your tribe, your people, your comfort zone? Those questions can be tricky to answer, can’t they? Depending on our circumstances and stage of life. So many people feel isolated, lost and alone, with no particular base and reference point.

Maybe they’ve become displaced, lost the physical home they knew before or lost the loved ones who anchored them there. Even if our circumstances differ, we can still feel fractured and out of sync with others at times. Such thoughts inspired the poem below.

Belonging

sense of belonging:
making sense of who we are
where we have come from
where we are journeying to
where we will make our home

we easily lose
our bearings and direction
give our hearts
to those who scorn or break them
resist acts of affection

perhaps we could
view life in another way
spiritually
note how we are created
to always seek after God

we see how he longs
wants us to be yearning
to be longing
a present continuous
act of obedience, faith

there’s nothing better
than to share our lives with God
come empty, dry
desiring to be filled
as his fountain rains on us
© joylenton

I’m happy to belong to the fabulous five-minute-friday community where we share our words inspired by a prompt. This week’s creative instigator word is “where”. You can join in here and read the great variety of posts being shared.  🙂

one: encouraging incidences of the number one

one _ encouraging incidences of the number one - magpie on the edge (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

So many of us mistakenly think that our lives don’t amount to much. We wonder if we make any mark on the world at all, or if we simply exist as lost and invisible souls. No more than a fleeting mist or blip in the universe.

Can I encourage you today, my friend? Can I help you to see past the easily swallowed lies of the enemy? Because the holy truth you need to hold on to is that you are infinitely important and precious. Yes, you really are. Despite what your unhappy upbringing, challenging circumstances or painful past might be saying to you, you are very much loved and wanted by God.

The mathematics of heaven are totally different to the arithmetic of earth. Here, one as a number seems too small, too insignificant to count. But in heaven? One person, one act or thought becomes highly significant in God’s economy.

one - Mother Teresa quote - “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” @poetryjoy.com

Here’s what I have discovered:

  • A word of encouragement can turn a day, if not a life around.
  • A whispered prayer can summon angels, demolish evil strongholds, heal and bless souls.
  • A thoughtful act can alter a person’s perspective for life.
  • A kind deed has the power to sow kindness seeds in others.
  • A single person can become a precursor for change.
  • A solo individual is never as alone as they may feel.

Incidences of the number one

We have one solo magpie,
one solitary bird,
quite happy in his loneliness

as he sits upon the tiles,
gracing our neighbour’s rooftop
edge with his dancing moves.

And we have one small child,
who lives across the street from

us, whose smiles and constant
chatter are like joy personified.

We also have one precious grandson in
our lives, who gives us deep soul delight.

And there’s far more than one chance to live
aright in this one wild and glorious life.

But most of all, I am grateful to know
the One who holds the world within his
hands, who spins planets and stars and

pours his grace out on one and all, with
joyous abundance and exuberance.

For he spreads his arms cruciform-wide
to encompass every nation and tribe.

And he treats each and every one of us
as his precious, esteemed and redeemed
child – one who is unconditionally loved.
© joylenton

We may feel inadequate and small but we can still have an influence and make a difference in the lives of others. Don’t let thoughts of lack deter you from pressing forward in life and faith. You count. 

I’m grateful to be sharing my poetic thoughts with the fabulous five-minute-friday community today. Just click here to join us there. 🙂 

one - Mother Teresa quote _We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop._ @poetryjoy.com

labyrinth: discovering beauty and grace in the maze of our ordinary days

labyrinth - discovering beauty and grace in the midst of our ordinary days @poetryjoy.com

Life can feel like a maze. A place strewn with pathways that lead us astray. Somewhere with  high walls and hidden depths, where we can easily lose ourselves. People who have once loved us can drift away, out of sight. We wonder if we’ll ever find our way back to the calming centre of things.

Living can overwhelm our senses. Too much noise. Too much light. Too much haste and hurry. Too many people. Too much of everything. We just want to stop. Get off the merry-go-round and find ourselves. Breathe freely again. Relax.

Let me take you back to a Centre of calm and peace that never fails us. Come with me on a gentle, poetic labyrinth prayer walk that leads us straight to the heart of God. And appreciation and gratitude for where we already are.

Labyrinth

gracious God,
unfold your life in me

unfurl it turn by turn
that in each curving spiral

I may pause and see
the labyrinth of your love

the wonder of your grace

a touch of heaven above
the beauty of your face

infuse these ordinary days
dull as they may seem

with deep holy joy
extraordinary peace
rich gratitude and praise
© joylenton

labyrinth poem (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Let us pause. Breathe. Pray. Savour the silence. And experience one of the most holy times of day. Twilight is a thin place where heaven appears to touch earth with greater intensity. In the dimming of the light we can experience restfulness and peace. Allow these words to soothe your soul. Let us greet this moment with gratitude. Then extend that feeling to the richness of love and life God gifts us with each day.

Twilight

every day
invites, offers us a gift
time to wonder
we get ready to receive
a moment to ponder

eyes lift
conscious of a slight change
something shifts
sun tips her hat toward the horizon
while the scenery gets rearranged

ethereal
suspended fine as mist
twilight
hovering between day and night
softly spilling heaven’s secrets

a thin veil
brief lifting of the curtain
gossamer-fine
nothing feels so certain
while heaven touches earth

prayer comes
with tender dying of the day
vespers
gratitude rises to our lips
we savour what’s before us
© joylenton

labyrinth - twilight poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

We close with a song expressing wonder over the freely given, undeserved goodness and grace of God.

I’m honoured to be sharing my words with Chronic Joy’s Poetry Prompt, based on A harvest of Grains, initiated by Tweetspeak Poetry.  The topic is “gratitude” and the theme is to reveal our appreciation of the holy ordinary. Come join us here?  🙂

moment: changing our lives by small increments

moment_ changing our lives by small increments @poetryjoy.com

Our lives are lived in a series of small moments. Microseconds of breath and being. Although our major focus tends to be on the larger issues that preoccupy us, it’s life’s small moments that matter the most. They’re the ones we need to savour and build good memories from.

Each moment can be life defining because they have the potential to be soul altering. The decisions we make and the ways we act and react are a result of tiny, incremental drip-feeding over years that we are giving to our minds and hearts.

If we feed ourselves with positive, life enhancing thoughts, absorb and put into practice the teaching which the Bible gives us, then we are better placed to live more mindfully. Which will give us a deeper moment by moment awareness.

By living more in the moment, we can develop a better appreciation for all things. A greater gratitude. And closer relationships with God and others, as we practice being in His presence and being more present to them.

It only takes a moment

it only takes a moment to hurt a person’s heart
or crush a soul with a harsh, ill-judged remark

it only takes a moment to think, pause and pray
before we rush blindly, heedlessly into the day

it only takes a moment to cause another
pain, to wound them with our words and deeds
and give them reason to feel ashamed

it only takes a moment, tears, a mere breath
to repent, and seek a different route instead

it only takes a moment to inflict another
with the lashing from our tongues, and watch
as they shrink down low inside themselves

it only takes a moment to stop and weigh up
our words, and give our mouths a holy pause

it only takes a moment to show those whom
we love how very precious and valued they are

it only takes a moment to care, esteem another
higher than ourselves, and want to serve them well

it only takes a moment to live an open, grace filled
life—providing we’re aware and willing to oblige
© joylenton

moment - it only takes a moment poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I’m grateful that a few moments spent praying for the gift of words have given me a poem to share with you today. It’s inspired by this week’s five-minute-friday prompt of ‘moment’. Just click here to join us there. I’m even more thankful it only takes a moment for God to begin to fix what is broken in us. He doesn’t delay in pouring out His grace and love! 🙂