goal: when our priorities get shifted by life and chronic illness

Life can be reduced to goal after goal. We can get so hung up on achievement and ticking things off our list that we forget to pause, breathe or appreciate it. It’s like a never-ending treadmill.

If we’re too goal oriented, our hearts can become frantic, our minds cluttered and our ears resistant to listening to what’s wisest for us right now. And it can happen without us noticing because we’ve failed to pay attention to the signals our bodies and souls have been frantically sending us. Then we end up in overwhelm, with no way out, or so it seems.

At that stage we have choices to make: do we pause/stop/reduce our expectations/stick with more manageable, achievable goals/reset our thoughts or move the goal posts wider apart than before? If we have chronic illness, then this kind of quandary occurs pretty frequently, if not daily, because the ability well runs dry with alarming speed. With relatively minor tasks, exhaustion and depletion set in and we are forced to pause.

Over the last few months, I’ve been caught up in completing and publishing my latest book. Fuelled by adrenaline. High on the rush of getting something done. Trying to drive this slow carriage of mine full steam ahead. But it soon protested.  And crashed. Just when I had completed the task… phew!!

As I saw the word for five-minute-friday, I smiled wryly. And searched out my folders for something to share because I’ve got very little fresh creative juice left. The poem that made the cut took longer than five minutes to write but it perfectly encapsulates what my next priority should be.

Pausing

My worth and value
do not lie
in the words I write
or the thoughts I share
on social media,

or how I might
be perceived by others
who view my life,
my deeds and tasks.

But they are rooted
in my relationship with God
as he creates, shapes and takes
each thought
and provides the reassurance

that I need for strength,
as his cherished child
and his dependent, sufficient
beloved one.

So I will not blanch
or pull back
from what he asks of me
with quiet persistence
but offer him

my surrender willingly,
as he invites
me to pause again and taste
his holy rain.

Even though it hurts
to become invisible
to others,
I already know I can only
give of my best

when I yield to his grace,
accept this season
of online inactivity
and simply rest.
© joylenton

goal - pausing poem excerpt (C) joylenton @poetryjoy.com - girl at the beach - worth and value

“In the drivenness of our society, it’s hard to make time to relax our efforts and find transforming energy. That’s why we need this particular posture of waiting so much. When we sit in this way we’re relaxing the bow; we’re coming to rest in a very deep way in God, allowing ourselves to be cradled in the sighing mystery of Christ’s prayer.” – When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions by Sue Monk Kidd

I’m thankful for a stack of unpublished poems to draw from and the ability to join the fabulous five-minute-friday writing crew as we share our thoughts on this week’s prompt of “goal.” Come join us here and read the great variety of posts being aired.

Friends, sooner than planned, I’m needing to lay down my poetic pen here for a while to recover from my latest M.E relapse. I want to embrace a season of rest, coupled with the goal of paying closer attention to God, my health and family. I’m seeking to savour summer relaxation and sort out my cluttered soul and home.

PS: Any poetry shared over the coming few weeks will be on my Facebook page and/or my Instagram page. I’d love to connect with you in those places! 🙂 You can check out my new book, Embracing Hope: Soul Food to Help Chase Away the Blues in the sidebar here or on amazon. Sending you goodbye hugs until we gather here again. xo ❤ ❤

goal - If something is worth creating space for in your life, it’s worth your full attention #quote #openarms #sun #opendoor @poetryjoy.com

vanish: letting go of our cares and concerns

November comes in shyly, concealing its icy depths in a cloak of mist. Many days are washed in vapour, made mysterious by the hiddenness of things, the way the familiar can vanish in an instant.

Reducing, darkening daylight hours make us yearn for the light, seek colour and warmth and savour each tiny bit of golden, autumnal glory while we can.

Maybe we could view this concealment as invitation to turn away for a while from the allure of the world around us. To let go of our cares and concerns, and begin to mimic these chillier days by being still and rested in our souls.

Vapour in the mist

Sky shades to silver as a veil of grey
falls like a leaden blanket, allowing
mere slivers of azure blue hues to
filter through

This pale, dove-grey covering conceals sun’s
heat with filmy rays, and invites us to
come aside from busyness and rest
here instead

So we pause a while, breathe a little freer
as we let loose constraints of the day
and watch worries vanish as vapour
in the mist
©joylenton

Father,

When skies shade to grey and our emotions are tempted to follow suit, help us instead to focus on your bright, shining Light that is always with us. May we see mellow, misty moments in these darkening days as an invitation to come aside, breathe, pause and pray, trusting that all our cares and concerns are safe in your hands.

May we reflect on the colour and vibrancy that surrounds us. Give us eyes open to receive and  hearts able to appreciate the onset of winter, sensing awe and wonder in the stark beauty it brings to everything.

Fill our souls with gratitude for the gifts to be found in each season of life and faith.  And remind us how one season will slowly segue into another, eventually vanish from our memories, until it returns in its own form of splendour, with joys we hadn’t anticipated.

Amen

seeking a quiet space in which to breathe #thedailyhaiku 7

 

I know that when I take on too much, feel overtired and overwhelmed, nothing else quite helps me to get back on my feet again like setting aside time to be still and quiet before God.

As I lay my burdens at God’s feet, stay in His presence long enough to relax and breathe more freely, I’m in a prime position to rest and receive. A quiet space in our days can become a sacred space in which to ponder and pray.

God pours out His love like a warm holy hug, wraps me in a welcome that never ends and comforts my fretful soul with sweet encouragement and insight enough to see the way ahead.

No longer frazzled and fraught, anxious and upset, I can calmly face what comes next or choose to have a longer rest instead, as I finally recognise I am too drained and depleted to carry on.

It needn’t take long or be complicated to become restored and refreshed on a daily basis. It simply takes a willing turning of our hearts to God and a desire to spend a few moments lingering with Him in quiet contemplation and stillness, enjoying the close companionship relationship He longs to have with all of us.

a quiet space

we learn to embrace

a quiet space in our days

relax, breathe easy

©joylenton

And here’s a little breathing space exercise for you to try. As you listen to the music below, may it relax you and gently usher you into God’s presence, our greatest place of refuge, comfort and rest. May you become strengthened and refreshed for what lies ahead. 

 

chewed: having ragged edges when you want to be whole

 

I’m looking at our recently planted runner bean and strawberry plants, sighing over them being chewed, frayed around the edges, mirroring my own sorry soul state.

Although instead of pesky molluscs (and maybe an early caterpillar or two), my holey, chewed up state is a result of having bitten off more than I can easily chew, never mind swallow.

I’ve been running (in a tortoise-slow kind of way) on empty for far too long. My previous post here hinted at this depletion. And it’s got to the point where I’ve become more concerned at this slowing down and feeling of overwhelm, not keeping up well with anything. Maybe you can relate?

Usually I think of a tortoise to describe this slow burn way of crawling through my days. But as I sat and contemplated it, I thought of a snail instead and how they slither, glued to ground.

A snail’s progress may be slow, imperceptible to our eyes, but they can truly decimate a plant with their stealthy nibbles! As summer kicks in and we begin to plant hope for tomorrow, potential food to eat and flowers that please, we soon discover how much snail munch-stops have torn to shreds previously intact garden greenery.

Then we may marvel at their ability to cling on (carefully avoiding the snail pellets, of course), and manoeuvre their way around each plant in turn. A glistening trail, a slither of silver remains the most visible sign of their passing….

 

Mollusc Marvel

She carries the weight of a curled-up shell

upon her slippery frame, its fragile cusp

balancing on a body made for slithering

 

Movement may be slow but she traverses

stony ground with slimy thread of silver, trailing

her glory marker behind her like a gauzy

veil shimmering in the sunshine, laced

with hope on a journey fraught with danger

 

This fragile rope follows her from stem to stem

and back again, indulging in a spot of leaf munching

while her carapace crunches its welcoming shade

to protect the delicate vulnerability

residing deep within its darkening glade

©joylenton

 

How do we cope with our thready lives, ragged edges, chewed up days and lost energy? If you’re anything like me, you might try pressing on regardless for a while. Though, unlike snails, we’re not built to carry heavy weights on our own backs but to give them over to God instead.

The best thing to do is to take a break, take it to God, lean on Him and rest in every conceivable way. We cannot run on empty or we have nothing of any worth left over to offer others.

Therefore, I am having to pull back from blogging for a bit, seek wholeness, rest in God, and spend some quality time with those I love, because our glory markers can become ragged, spread thin, if we fail to spend sufficient time with Him.

I need to come aside, abide and be awed anew at all God can do with a weary woman’s frame when it’s given over to Him. Maybe a season of rest and refreshment also has your name on it?

I will be praying for you all while I am away. Meanwhile, feel free to dive into the archives here and over at Words of Joy. You can also catch a few poetic thoughts appearing on my Facebook page. God bless you, friend, until we gather here again. 🙂 xo

breathe: when it’s time to breathe freely again

breathe-fmf-poetry-joy

 

Is it just me, or do you also find that the more outwardly busy you become, the more your thoughts tend to spiral out of control? It’s as if we try to get a handle on our lives by mentally processing and digesting  stuff, so that we can sort and sift what to retain or ditch.

And in doing this we also hope to wrestle with our worries, and maybe even banish them, forgetting how giving our concerns a lot of head space usually achieves the opposite effect, making them multiply instead.

Finding (and maintaining) a calm core to our days in the midst of life’s busyness, storms and demands, calls for awareness, deliberation and decisiveness.  It requires us to still ourselves body and soul and to pause long enough to listen to what our life, and God, is saying to us.

I find that prayer, especially of the centering kind, is a marvellous and needful pause during life’s busyness. It helps me to remember to breathe… and yield my cares to God, leading to a deeper soul peace. Though it can often get sidelined when I’m  feeling overwhelmed by extra demands being made of me, as the five-minute-friday poem below suggests.

Time to breathe

I wonder, is there time to breathe?

Yes says the flourishing flower stretching

her growing beauty out of tiny seed

The race is not to the swift, nor

battle to the strong, but to those who

learn to wait patiently—enduring long

 

Yet I take such small, sharp, shallow breaths

and I sense a tight constriction

within my chest. For it seems that I

have somehow forgotten how to breathe

in synchrony with life’s rhythms

or go gently into each season

 

Instead, I mentally rush headlong

into each day, barely pausing to breathe

or pray, pushing a body so fatigued

and sore to do Just One Thing More

And it’s no wonder I feel all out of

sorts, stressed and harassed, of course

 

Because I’ve forgotten to stop and sit

with stillness, or simply stay in tune

with Holy Spirit—and calmly rest myself

in Him, rather than in my easily

exhaustible, all too human limits

©joylenton2017

breathe-time-to-breathe-poem-excerpt-fmf-pj

 

I think I should have heeded the words I wrote here last week about feeling out of control and needing to breathe!  :/

But I’m glad I listened to inspiration coming, so I could share my thoughts with the fabulous #FMF writing crew gathering over at Kate Motaung’s site to write about this week’s prompt of ‘breathe’. Come join us?

rest: seeking to enjoy the stillness and savour holy conversation

rest-seeking-to-enjoy-the-stillness-pj

 

Misty fog-haze lends an ethereal air to these wintry days. This is a season where deep calls to deep in the realm of rest and sleep, a hibernation time when words are deliberately stilled and distilled in the stillness, able to ferment and brew in contemplative silence.

During a needful rest and slowing down time we learn to listen better to body, soul and Holy Spirit. And we begin to hear murmurs we may have missed in our busyness, words which lend themselves well to poetic expression. We hear whispers of encouragement, discern glimmers of mercy and grace surrounding us.

Rest invites us into recovery, restoration, a deeper faith-walk journey, a call to intimate prayer, maybe a suggestion of sharing thoughts in a journal, writing out holy conversation to look back on and possibly share—ways of recording God’s work in us and connecting closer to the core of who we are. It’s a period of sitting with patience and letting it have its way with us, learning to wait for the right moment to unleash and release.

I wrote the poems below in a free-flow-as-it-comes way, with a willingness to savour holy conversation, an openness to God’s loving presence within this present moment and a desire to appreciate seasons yet to come.

My hope and prayer is that you will read them with an open mind and open heart, and hear what you need to hear within the lines. May they connect to your soul and find a resonance within.

Come rest

Come rest like moist

forest moss so green

beneath warm summer sun

listen to full river song

bird murmuring spring

follow blue breeze harmony

see between dark mountain path

earth’s soft fertile wandering

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-come-rest-pj-image

 

Velvet eternity

Come and listen to me

linger long as my words

melt as steam breath and

air makes soft ghost-like

smile blush over my lips

let broken night cloud

be our dark universe

and life’s warm embrace haunt

this velvet eternity

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-velvet-eternity-pj-image

 

Welcome to #magneticmonday where I share my latest offerings of magnetic poetry writing. ‘Come rest’ was composed using the Nature set and ‘Velvet eternity’ with the Poet set. You can discover more here and have a go yourself if you feel inspired!

What is God suggesting to you this season? 

How are you able to rest best in a world hardwired for busyness?

Advent invites us into the continual now of God’s presence

manger-nativity-pj

 

We sit with great expectations in this season—usually driven more by insistence from the media than by us fully reverencing the manger. Rarely are they met. More often than not, we emerge out the other side of Advent as a weary wreck. Maybe there’s a way to do things differently? 

As I rested upstairs, had a needful break to recharge this afternoon, breathed out slow and sat with the Lord for a while, these poetic thoughts emerged…

Advent invites us…

Advent invites us to savour the now, ever-present sense of God’s presence in this world, invisible yet still tangible somehow.

It reminds us of the manger being but a step to the cross, a way of remembering all that Jesus bought for us at such a great cost.

We’re invited to linger and marvel at Love come down. We’re welcomed to a stable, a baby fit for a shiny Royal crown.

Here, in swaddling clothes, manger-wrapped and ready for us to receive Him is a Gift to accept and unwrap the promises hidden deep within.

And the Advent now also suggests tension and stress, cards to write and send, folk to invite, parcelling of presents, our own gifts to share with family and friends.

There’s a drive to have the right kind of offering, forgetting how our love and our presence are always the best thing.

In all the rush and hurry, haste and paste, decorating and baking, we can lose sight of that starry night in Bethlehem. We can neglect to make space in the here and now for the One who this celebration is really about.

I’m guilty as charged, knowing I need to heed those soft whispers nudging my spirit more than before, because I’m in danger of forgetting my Saviour in the drive to do one thing more before collapsing with fatigue.

But when we stop, take a breath, a sacred pause? Why, we find God is here, in the moment, of course. Always patiently waiting for our attention, He reaches out across time and eternity to welcome us into the Now of His glorious presence.

There is peace here. There is calm. There is deep soul rest. We receive not only what’s better but what is best. We can ignore the clamour, the hassle, the shout, become replenished, renewed from the inside out.

Here is a whisper, a breath, an eternal song being sung, a melody being heard and received, a lullaby for our restless souls. And here we belong. No pressure, no pleading, just a realisation that this is what we truly need now—during Advent, Christmas and beyond.

©joylenton2016

I thought I was too tired to think straight, never mind write today, however God whispered these thoughts which enabled me to join in with this week’s five-minute-friday prompt of ‘Now’.  Come meet the writing crew gathering at Kate Motaung’s site, and check out the great posts being shared. Just click here to follow me there.

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