poured out: when you feel permanently exhausted due to having ME

Dear Reader/Friend, as you might have noticed, I’m not as active here as I used to be, partly due to my husband’s own health decline and recent surgery which required me to try to step up and attempt to plug the gap while he’s been incapacitated for a period.

But the biggest factor is a slump in my own health, with a worsening of the M.E symptoms especially. It’s been accompanied by increasing flare ups of the arthritis, fibromyalgia and Ehlers Danlos syndrome symptoms I also struggle with.

ME feels like having a permanent kind of flu virus. A body and mind going on strike because they’re swiftly overwhelmed and exhausted by life. When your legs feel as if they’re trying to walk on sand and your head’s full of cotton wool as well.

This hasn’t been written to try to elicit your sympathy but to help raise awareness of ME. Because so many people are either dismissive of it or are suffering in silence that I can’t help but try to convey a smidgen of what it’s like to live with it.

I hope the poem below (previously shared on the Chronic Joy Ministry blog) provides an insight. And that the details I share about the DecodeME study I’m involved with might stir your interest or prompt a prayer, perhaps.

Poured out

I am spoonless
any energy I've had
it's all used up
poured out drop by precious drop
on life's simple, basic tasks

so I must rest
retreat to a darkened room
crawl into bed
and let my body relax
hope my mind switches off

too much white noise
issuing from my thoughts
like buzzing bees
unable to be at peace
blinded to their destiny

my heart aches
with this inactivity
I feel frustrated
because it's enforced on me
because time just slips away

pain infiltrates
as spasms seize my joints
acting like needles
piercing with intensity 
I want it to go away

life swims past
it’s lost in a brain-fogged blur 
a cinema reel
screening inactivity
in a life lived with M.E 

I feel worthless
but God draws near, whispers
hope to my heart 
we’re not judged on our worth
it’s decided at the Cross

what matters most
is how we live and we love
how we yield to God
surrendering our hearts 
and giving help to others

for you and me
our soul's productivity
will be evident
measured by increments
and how our life is spent
© joylenton


DecodeME study info

If you’re 16 years old and over and reside in the UK, you are invited to take part in DecodeME, the world’s biggest ME/CFS study.

It will collect information from tens of thousands of people with ME/CFS and analyse DNA to see whether the disease is partly genetic and if so, help pinpoint what causes it – which is the path to finding treatments.

The first step is to take the DecodeME questionnaire and then you may also be asked to provide a saliva sample. They can be done from the comfort of your home. I’ve submitted both myself.

Your experience matters. Future treatment and research are reliant on it. Please help if you can or pass the link below on to someone you know who has ME and fits the criteria above. You can take part at www.decodeme.org.uk

Let’s get serious about getting to the bare bones of what causes ME, a seriously damaging autoimmune disorder of the neuroendocrine system, because it plagues lives, steals livelihoods and has been greatly misunderstood. Thank you! 😉💜

light: an invitation to let the light in

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and colour are their last days.” — John Burroughs

Let the light in

I see light 
as evidence of God's 
presence, tangible

awareness revealing
his liquid, golden grace, 
with a mindful 

contemplation on his 
will and ways, because 
light filters most
 
through a receptive 
host. Maybe I can learn to
be a willing

vehicle, a silent subject 
to receive, then I can
achieve a place 

of calm within,
where light and love 
and joy reside

and hope rests 
quiet. It chirps, a softly singing
bird, sitting still 

as still can be, yet
gently fluttering its hopeful,
delicate wings.
© joylenton


“And that afternoon, as the sun slanted low through the changing autumn leaves, I remembered to savor the moment, soak in the beauty, breathe deeply and feel the immensity of God.” — Cindee Snider Re

Queen Elizabeth ll – a life well lived and a small tribute

It’s impossible to put into words the deep sense of loss we have for our dearly beloved monarch, Queen Elizabeth ll, and how impactful her death is worldwide, especially for us as her nation and citizens.

She has been such a stable, constant presence in our lives over decades and a huge part of our nation’s heritage. The Platinum Jubilee celebrations this summer revealed the great reverence and love most of us have for our monarch.

How do you sum up such an amazing life and reign? I’m not sure. But in this slightly clumsily written acrostic poem I’ve tried my best to honour the Queen’s memory and convey my impressions of her character and reign as we seek to adjust and mourn her death.

In memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll

Humble of spirit and of heart
Energetic, sporty, stalwart
Radiant with inner beauty 

Meticulous in her duty
Attentive to her responsibilities 
Joyous despite the formalities 
Exemplary in behaviour 
Secure in faith in her Saviour
Thoughtful with politicians 
Yielding to adverse conditions 

Qualified by God and man
Uniting vast continents
Erudite in her governing ways
Essential in holding sway 
National treasure in our land

Eminent and elegantly dressed
Longsuffering during life’s duress
Inspiring to others
Zealous on our behalf
A woman of substance and faith
Bright, courageous and brave
Enduring for many long years
Trustworthy, deserving of our cheers
Hospitable to friends and strangers 
© joylenton 

rain: learning to dance in life’s rainfall

“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” — Gilbert K. Chesterton


We’ve been blessed with a summer of mostly bright blue skies and unprecedented heatwaves in the UK, yet it’s left us desperate for the slightest sign of rain. Grass is as tinder-dry as straw, and leaves and plants are wilting into an early autumnal response.

When it did eventually rain recently, I watched with awe and felt like I wanted to dance in it. The air became clean and fresh and our hearts lifted. The sight, the sound, the joy of it was palpable.

Though there are times in our lives when joy departs and we feel as if we’re living under a dark cloud. One that temporarily blocks the sun or stays around for weeks and months.

It’s hard to savour the changing seasons if our souls stay parked in winter, but the poem below encourages us to maintain a brighter perspective as we look to the Source of all things who gives us hope to start again.

Let the rain fall

let the rain fall
let it saturate my soul
soft morning dew
mists of your holy breath
daisy fresh and mountain-hewed 

let the rain come
from darkened skies or touched
by rays of sun
may I open up my heart
ready to receive each drop

let the rain speak
as it fills me to the brim 
with inner joy
the kind that cannot be faked
and nothing can destroy

let the rain glisten
bright dewdrops from heaven
tiny little pearls
miniature gifts from above
reminding me of your love

let the rain quench
the thirst I have inside
assuage the ache
in the places hard and dry
and sluice away my mistakes
© joylenton

Perhaps we can learn to splash in the puddles and dance in the rain, and face the deluges and showers in our lives with equanimity. Whether they’re sudden and slight or prolonged and persistent, we can deliberately look for the joy and the light, the relief and reprieve, the comfort and calm, the rainbow promises which God brings to all hurting hearts.

Rain will come. We can’t always be prepared for it. As soaking sheets or delicate showers, rain won’t always be welcomed by us, but we can remind ourselves of the cover, the umbrella protectiveness which God provides over us with His overseeing care, compassion and love. Then we can say, “Let the rain fall.” with the courage, confidence and resilience which faith and hope bring to reassure us that all will be well.

“Healing rain is a real touch from God. It could be physical healing or emotional or whatever.” — Michael W. Smith

NOTE: This poem was extracted from my Sacred Noticing e-book which is on offer at Amazon from 02/09/22 to 07/09/22 as my birthday gift to you! If you would like a reminder of sunnier days, there’s a free printable pdf below of a poem called ‘Life on pause’ which is also extracted from Sacred Noticing. And you might like to read my first foray into fiction with a short story about a boy who dared speak the truth. Blessings and love. Xx 🙂 ❤

sing: ways in which the Holy Spirit talks to us

God knows what each one of us is dealing with. He knows our pressures. He knows our conflicts. And He has made a provision for each and every one of them. That provision is Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit, indwelling us and empowering us to respond rightly.” — Kay Arthur

We long to receive comfort, support, guidance and answers to prayer. God has not left us bereft. We have the Holy Spirit indwelling our hearts by faith. His continual presence reassures, leads, guides, teaches and speaks to us in ways we can understand. The prayer/poem below explores some of the ways we can seek His help.

Talk to our hearts 

Sing Spirit—
Sing of the soul’s birth,
it’s rightful place in this world,
sing in whispers, in clouds, and lullabies,
in every tree, plant, person, ocean, and sky.

Sing of secrets
that lie out of reach
concealed far from prying eyes,
covertly hidden in plain sight
but revealed to the faithful and wise.

Bring us messages
direct from heaven,
written in holy script,
which we receive when we read
your wondrous words with humility.

Talk to our hearts,
talk strong, talk soft, talk much, 
as you slowly break apart 
our hardened souls of stone
where you are now enthroned.

We long to hear
a comforting word, an answer
to prayer, guidance and confirmation,
reassurance, hope and encouragement 
to give us courage to start again.

Though we might not
listen hard enough, or even rebel
and go our own way sometimes,
don’t ever give up speaking to us
each and every day of our lives.
© joylenton 

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” — John 14:26 NIV

waking up: when we hear the inner witness in our spirits

“It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.” ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Waking up

Is it the moment 
when eyelids spring
open or feet hit the floor 
in a slow or swift movement?

Or does the pure act 
of waking up
stem from a signal 
within our hearts?

It is both act and art
to comprehend 
just when 
we fully awaken. 

Our souls might ignite 
with a lucid
holy light, illuminating 
more than our human sight.

Truth speaks soft to us,
a gentle whisper
we can barely hear within,
yet it calls out everything.

All our sadness, all our
joy, our hopes, 
our guilt and our pain are bathed
in a restful wave.

This awakening 
act is heard
inwardly as it speaks to 
the core of who we are.

Not the masks we wear.
Not the ugly
fears. Not the shining image 
we try to present to others.

Instead it echoes 
within our hearts and souls,
right to the very depths 
as it calls us loved and whole.

Yes, it sees it all,
with every wrinkle and stain,
each pain-filled place
wakening now to grace.
© joylenton 

“Another reason for right living is this: you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of the Lord is nearer now than when we first believed.” — Romans 13:11 TLB

fruit picking: revisiting memories of previous summers

Rather like the ravenous, darting wasps who seemingly cannot get enough of the windfall apples in the orchard we look out on, I’m a self-confessed fruitaholic who revels in the wider choice and bounty that summer brings to us.

But the best way to appreciate fresh fruit is to either grow your own—says she, happily munching on yummy home-grown greengages from her son’s garden—or to pick your own (pyo) fresh from the field, like I used to do as a girl.

Though I furtively ate a fair share, fruit picking was done mostly in pursuit of extra money in my pocket, to savour the sun and fresh air, and to helpfully keep out of my parent’s way during the long summer holiday. Here’s a glimpse of that experience… 🍓🍒🍐🍏

Fruit picking

I bend to the task before me 
with inky-blue stained fingers 
cradling soft, squishy currants 
with increasing expertise.

My mahogany neck
is a fragile stem, 
crisped by sun’s fierce heat, 
with my hair bleaching 
blonder by the day.

Summer was mostly lived 
outdoors. My sister and I 
could disappear for hours
and venture further 
from home’s confines.

It was a needful breathing 
space in the school year, 
where being yourself 
was easier to bear. 

Stretching like a lazy cat 
warming herself, I smile 
at the heavy weight of fruit 
sat down by my feet. 

A good crop means more 
money in my pocket,
and enough for the full
bus fare home, at least.

Despite the exertion,
it beats potato 
or strawberry picking 
because here I can stand up
to reach the glistening crop.

Wiping beads of sweat 
from my forehead,
I notice how grubby 
my white gypsy top looks, 
smeared with grime 
and smatterings of juice.

Soon I spot someone 
glaring in my direction 
as the line checkers move 
our way. They don't like 
unaccompanied children,

unless they see you working, 
filling baskets instead of 
bellies. I dutifully bow my
head back to the bushes, 

knowing that when I close my 
eyes tonight I will see a vast 
spread of blackcurrants, 
hanging like dark lanterns 
on my closed eyelids.
© joylenton

What childhood summer memories linger in your mind? Can you still savour the sight, sound, taste or smell of them? Do share in the comments below. Xx 🙂 ❤

PS: This poem was created by adapting an excerpt of a post previously shared on my Words of Joy blog and the ACW More Than Writers blog.

heatwave: on being scorched and getting soaked

An unprecedented heatwave (probably due to climate change and attributed to winds blowing hot air up from north Africa and the Sahara) has been making its scorching, record breaking 40+ degrees centigrade 🔥🥵 way across the UK.

It’s been hard without the benefit of air conditioning. The high temperatures have had devastating effects countrywide, exacerbated health problems, taken lives, and initiated fires on our tinder-dry, rain-deprived land and properties.

We’re so unused to temperatures like this, and ill prepared. So as I wilt and melt faster than an iced lollipop, while we sit closer to our two rather feeble fans, I remember another sultry summer and how it led to a spectacular thunderstorm.

It was just before I became badly afflicted by M.E and chronic illness, and when our boys were small and could amuse themselves for hours making sandcastles. I hope the poem below provides some light relief for you, too… ⛱🐚🩱🌊☀️

Exodus

Darkened clouds rolled in 
from the coast, hanging heavy 
as a canopy over the beach, 

encroaching on the sun's rays, 
obliterating heat.
Thick drops began to fall, 

as we scrambled to gather
our belongings, while people 
shrieked playfully,

and others emerged 
swiftly from the sea.

Towels became raincoats 
and hats. Exiting became
our best option, though 

we were way too far 
from the safe cocoon 
of our parked car.

Clutching children and buckets 
and spades and all,
the paraphernalia of a day 

at the beach, we giggled
and ran, like drowned rats,
drenched beyond belief.

Shivering and sheltering 
under trees, saturated
but strangely happy, 

we watched rainfall morph 
into a barrage of hail, 
while lightning prevailed.

We were struck. Not by 
lightning, thankfully, but
by the way forces of nature 

were pitted against
one another in a battle 
of the elements.

Sheets of rain cascaded, 
followed by sharp stones
of hail, while thunder raged 

and electrical forks
zig-zagged and streaked 
across it all.

The heat of the day 
dissipated under this 
onslaught. And then there was 

a lull. We ran for our car, 
like prisoners released on bail.
And as we sat inside, 

trying to get dry, we knew
we would never forget 
the spectacular sight

of a summer storm 
turning day to night.
© joylenton

This summer is proving to be far too hot for serious thought which is why I’m sharing these memoir style posts about my childhood or later on. Normal service will be resumed in due course! Meanwhile, do let me know if you are enjoying this kind of post. x 😎❤️

rising: learning how to exercise our faith wings

“True faith is not a leap into the dark; it’s a leap into the light.” — Eric Metaxas

Rising 

There’s a clapping flap 
of wings beating the air
in tune with the universe 

as crows become airborne
dark blots against azure blue,
crest the currents 

with ease and grace,
reveal their natural
ownership of this space.

Sky’s acreage invites us
to investigate, seek to soar 
above and beyond 

our human state,
renders us minuscule,
reduced to earthly dust,

earthbound creatures
trying to advance themselves 
to earth’s outer reaches. 

Perhaps we would find 
ourselves less distinct, 
sharing an affinity, interlinked 

with avian life, 
note how we are connected,
joined together 

with threads of soul flight
while rooted here below—
inhabitants of day and night.
© joylenton

“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.” — Victor Hugo

ordinary: the gift of the sacred ordinary

“The great lesson from the true mystics is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family.” — Abraham Maslow

Poetry is the latch

stretch out open palms
feel for things beyond your ken
that lie close at hand

search for hidden key
poetry becomes the latch
we're invited in

it's an open door
it's a large, hallowed hallway
we find ourselves here

we're always welcome
removing secular shoes
helps us to listen

wait for mystery
to reveal its heart within
rhythm, metre, words

while our souls expand
to take in the universe
and savour beauty

as we exhale dust
and leave our worries behind
now, on the doorstep

we breathe in soul peace
mixed with mercy, love and grace
the air of this place

knowing we can stay
as night segues into daylight
cares are cast away

and we are laid bare
readied to receive again
drops of holy rain
© joylenton

“Yet mostly we remain unconscious of the fact that even in this simplest fulfilling of our daily needs we are partaking of the holiest mysteries of the sacred within the commonplace of our own kitchen. Great is to be found in little.” — Alice O. Howell, The Dove in the Stone

Gracious Father,

Thank you for the glory that surrounds us, revealed here and there in the smallest of moments, the tiniest glimpses and awe-struck seconds when we pause to notice it.

You inhabit the everyday with your extraordinary power and grace. It is saturated with your joy, exuberance, and peace. Open our eyes to see the humdrum, the ordinary, the mundane as nothing less than sacred ground.

The whole earth has been fertilised with the seeds of your sacred Presence, your divine favour, mercy, generosity, abundance, and love. But we so often overlook it because we’re too focused on below life rather than above.

Help us to sense you in the daily and pay attention to what you are saying through creation’s beauty, in our activities and tasks, and our attempts at seeing and listening hard.
Amen