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. 🙂

begin: for when you can’t quite hit the new year running

begin - for when you can't quite hit the new year running - @poetryjoy.com

Dear reader, I’m curious about something: did you hit the new year running, eagerly embracing resolutions, ready for the new and the next, planning and pushing ahead to your heart’s content? If so, that’s great and I rather envy you. 😏

Or are you more like me: crawling on your knees, flattened with illness and fatigue, and sighing because January finds you less than fit and able? The latter? Please raise  or vaguely wave your weary arm in my direction. It’s good to know we’re not alone.

For years, without fail, I’ve always succumbed to flu or a heavy cold before the Christmas and New Year celebrations are over. Each January I’m hugging the duvet, coughing into my pillow and barely surfacing.

Sadly it’s not due to enjoying myself, but because I have a faulty, inefficient immune system that easily succumbs to viruses and overexertion of any kind. I keep hoping things will improve. But they haven’t. Not yet.

Experience has taught me to listen and act on the information I hear from my depleted body. Namely to rest and take care of myself. Because trying to press on in the face of increasing debility has never been a good plan for me. It only exacerbates my pre-existing chronic conditions.

One thing that never stops being active and running like a mad thing is my mind, even when my body stills due to increased sickness. Yours too, perhaps? It chunters on like it’s got something really important to process, while my weakened body is trying to shush it into silent, restful submission.

begin - god replenishes, restores and revives quote (c)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

And I’ve been mulling over what to write. How do we begin again when we’re feeling lethargic, muddy-headed or uninspired? The wonder is that whenever our well, our energy, inspiration or abilities run dry, we only need to ask and God replenishes, restores and revives our limited supplies. And we can begin again with Him any time we need to.

The poem below came to me as I was resting. May it speak to all who are in the throes of illness or lack creative inspiration. I’m also rejoicing that my current ailment seems to be more of a persistent cold than full-blown flu this time. Hooray! Progress!

Writer’s woes

I want to begin
make a mark on this page
this year
on the lives of others
with my thoughts and words

I don’t know how
to begin to write a thing
without assistance
because my brain is muffled
and my thoughts are befuddled

I am uncertain
wondering how to choose
what will speak
louder than my husky voice
of love and grace, hope and faith

in the end
all I have is willing hands
empty though they be
just waiting to be filled
before a drop can be spilled

holy whispers
encourage me to start
right where I am
with surrender, trust and truth
as inspiration filters through
© joylenton

begin - writer's woes poem excerpt - new year (c)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Praise God for gifting this snuffly writer with something to say when she felt empty! Hopefully normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. 😉 Do let me know how you are, especially if you’re also below par, and we can pray for one another.

Never forget that rest, recovery and healing are vital soul and body work. You and I might begin this year slow like tortoises but we can still end strong by the grace of God. With love and virtual (germ-free) hugs to you. xo 💜

deep: seeking solace, hope and joy during Advent

deep - seeking solace, hope and joy during Advent - FMF @poetryjoy.com

Advent is on the horizon. It invites me to go deep in my devotions. To sit with Mystery. To wait with expectancy. Look for the hidden gems of joy. Be thankful. But my soul isn’t being compliant. I feel restless. Lacking peace. I’m scratching around for hope and encouragement. Maybe you feel like this too? Out of sync with a season supposedly full of joy?

These are days when I struggle with the sluggish, depressive symptoms of SAD. I have to resist the urge to hide in bed, to retreat from life. Diminishing daylight can make us miserable. Days of grey-fugged skies infiltrate their gloom into our hearts. Yet we can also burn with frustration and an increasing desire to get things done as we join the manic, pre-Christmas rush and race against the clock. How can we alter the falling and floundering? Is there a way to slow, rediscover hope and grow? I think so.

I resist yielding to the oppressive clouds of continual discouragement that hover over and sink me emotionally, and tell me I am nothing. My soul stirs its sleepy self and says: This. Is. Enough. No more. I cannot tolerate another winter of discontent. Something has got to change. And that means I have to look for help outside myself. I need to go deeper into God. To reach out to others. To pray. To learn to love myself and my life in a balanced way, instead of feeling worthless and out-of-place.

When we are in a deep, dark place God remind us of this:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” – Isaiah 43:2 NIV

Another way I recover my equilibrium is to write poetry, as I have in this five-minute-friday poem, where I let loose and forgot about the clock for once!

Deep 

She was tired of living a surface,
superficial life, her soul ached
for a deeper reality, for authenticity.
Though it’s not free, it comes at a price,
and she needs to be willing to pay.

For all growth in our wayward souls
requires surrender to a higher
power—to God himself.

Going deep might be easy for some
but she has learnt it will take all
she has got, all of her heart.
God calls across the clamour
inside her soul, into the place
she hides when she feels broken.

And he lures her oh so tenderly,
with a look of love, with a whispered
word, with truth and promises.

But trusting is hard because
she’s been dry and closed inside
too long—can she really open up?
He soon reveals hidden, sparkling
gems, glittering bright, previously
unseen, now glowing in his light.

These are yours, he says, my heart gift
to you, just lift up your head and see
what I will do if you will believe.
I abide in a deep and holy place
but I also reach down to my child,
to offer you my gifts of grace.
© joylenton

deep - deep poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

“I will give you treasures hidden in dark and secret places. Then you will know that I, the Lord God of Israel, have called you by name.” – Isaiah 45:3 CEV

Friends, thank you for allowing me to vent in this small, safe place on the internet. Feel free to reply and let me know how you are too. We can pray for and support one another. I’m sharing my words with the fabulous five-minute-friday writing crew today. Just click here to follow me there. Thank you! 🙂

PS: If you’re curious or need help, here are the symptoms of SAD and these are potential self-help measures and treatment plan. I pray they will be a blessing to you.

seeds: seeing potential in our small offerings

seeds_ seeing potential in our small offerings @poetryjoy.com

Do you ever feel like you have little of real worth to contribute? Does your seemingly small offering feel like nothing compared to that of others? It’s a thought that often plagues writers and creatives, especially when the flow stalls for a while and we fear it’s lost for ever.

Maybe you look at your life through jaundiced eyes, trying to assess achievements and success? We can easily lose heart when we compare ourselves with others. What helps get us back on track is accepting seasons of plenty and lack, being content and believing how very much we are loved. Just. As. We. Are. And knowing any offering we give to God is never wasted in His hands.

“I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need.” – Philippians 4:12 Amplified Bible

We have intrinsic worth and value in God’s eyes. Whether we’re able to produce a lot or not. All He asks is for us to be willing to surrender ourselves and our lives into His hands. 🌻 Then watch how He brings beauty out of ashes. 🌻 A harvest of righteousness from our brokenness. Hope and joy out of what seems withered or dead.

“To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.” – Isaiah 61:4 TLB

Potential

it seemed far too small
a tiny thing to offer him
still she gave it all
and it made her heart sing

in the laying down
her seeds of life and faith
she knew she didn’t own
how they would be displayed

in her faltering hands
they resembled dust and ashes
handfuls of broken dreams
waiting to be resurrected

but he saw great potential
in every tear, hurt and pain
as she surrendered it all
he blew away each trace of shame

there was a long waiting time
when her soul sank, despaired
before the eventual rise and shine
flowered hope, joy and happy tears
© joylenton

seeds - poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

Five minutes (ish) – yes, I frequently go over a bit –  is a small amount of time in which to write. However, God graces us with words to share as we commit our thoughts and time to Him. Today’s poem has been written in response to this week’s five-minute-friday prompt of ‘potential’. Come follow me here to join fellow word wranglers and read the great variety of posts being shared. 😊💜

if: when we receive so much more than we deserve or expect

If only. Oh how often those immortal words have entered our thoughts or escaped from our lips, as we murmur against the hand life has dealt us or wonder just when we can fulfil our delayed hopes and dreams.

Maybe ‘if only’ has been spoken as wistful wishes or with sadness and regret. I’ve had my share of both. But I’ve also expressed those words when looking back in gratitude for the way God has intervened to rescue me from this or that. With God, we always receive so much more than we deserve or have any right to expect.

Today, I’m wondering at the wisdom of temporarily breaking my poetic silence and period of enforced rest, having been lured into the writing waters again by the prompt of ‘if’ provided by five-minute-friday this week.

If

If you can see yourself as you really are, your need for alteration and change,
and are willing for your mind to become transformed, your life rearranged.

If you can look beyond the bare bones of your own meagre existence
and recognise how much loving others makes a difference.

If you refuse to slavishly follow the ways of this darkened world, preferring,
instead, to plough your own furrow, while watching seeds of faith unfurl.

If you recognise that undue haste and hurry only lead to stress and driven
lives, and that being spiritually guided, led and inspired is truly wise.

If you can maintain hope when challenges mount up, and drink
willingly from life’s stormy, thankless and bitter cup.

If you gratefully receive grace upon grace to help you live your life
aright, while yielding yourself to God’s supreme will and his laser-light.

If your eyes have been opened to the mystery and marvellous ways of God,
and your broken heart has been broken open by his unconditional love.

If your prayers centre on inner growth, supporting others more than yourself,
and you’ve developed a greater Christ-like, compassionate heart as well.

Then you will be aware of being God’s beloved one, my friend,
created to be in relationship with him and to do good things.
© joylenton

**With apologies to Rudyard Kipling for styling my hastily executed poem similarly to his own epic work. You can read his masterly ‘If’ poem here… **

However, I am delighted to be flexing my poetic muscles again and to have an offering to share with the wonderful writers here. Come join us? 🙂

equilibrium: where our best soul peace comes from #thedailyhaiku 25

 

It doesn’t take much to rock our world or spoil our day, does it? With 24 hour news reports, lives that are increasingly fractured and eminently distracted by pinging phones and tablets, we can quickly sway from delight to despair, from joy to sadness, from feeling carefree to being consumed with fear.

And that doesn’t include our own internal make up and body chemistry, plus our propensity for self-preoccupation and concern, which can play havoc with our feelings on the best of days.

So how do we find and maintain a state of measured calm in all of this? How do we avoid being at the mercy of our feelings and subject to change because of shifts in the world around? Where is the equilibrium we all seek?

What works may vary from person to person, but the major stabilising thing in my life is my faith in Christ. Not that my faith doesn’t shake or falter at times. The vital part is what and who we place our faith in, not how great our faith might be in and of itself.

Trusting in Christ is how I achieve a measure of balance, composure and calm, despite what might be happening in my life. It’s not a state of switched off bliss, ignoring the things that disturb my soul while I meditate or something. It starts with a conscious awareness of my need.

It’s a willing surrender to God as loving Father. He cares deeply about what hurts us, and has the ability to keep us stable instead of falling apart, to give us wisdom, equilibrium and strength whenever we need it, and remind us that He is in charge of everything.

Though I may come to God in a state of turmoil to begin with, once I have stilled and rested myself in His presence, prayed and handed over my worries and concerns, He fills me with His supernatural peace, calm and contentment.

It’s a gift. Pure grace, in fact. Freely available to us all. And the best thing? We have access to it as often as we need. There are no limits to God’s willingness to meet with us and calm our fretful hearts.

equilibrium

equilibrium

we become happy and calm

focusing on God

©joylenton

let: when wishes become a way of life #thedaikyhaiku 24

 

As I reach the tail end of this October writing marathon, I must confess that my reserves are very depleted. No surprises there. 😏 But I don’t want to allow discouragement in or let myself become derailed by fatigue. Those things can so easily define my days.

Here’s the thing. I want to go out on a cloud of grace. Same way as I came in, in fact. God carries me each day, holds me close to His chest and whispers words of reassurance whenever I feel defeated by life.

If I am wanting to let anything affect me during these oh so weary days, then let it be joy. Let it be love. Let it be peace. Because I’m done with yielding to my SAD feelings and allowing my body’s state to dictate how my days are shaped. I want to surrender to God most of all, hard as it can be sometimes.

Will you join me? if your health or life is less than tickety-boo, then give it over to God instead of giving yourself a hard time, or wallowing in hurts and slights. Yes, they are a pain, quite literally. Yet what God is willing to give to His children far exceeds those things.

Whatever is troubling your soul, let it be, my friend, and let God be who He wants to be in your life: a rock-steady Hope, a force for Good, an Anchor to hold you firm, a sea of Grace, a river of Peace, a Saviour and your closest Friend, and so much more than we can ever imagine.

let it be

let joy permeate
let love be my calling card
peace be my heart’s state
©joylenton

If my words are insufficient, then why not let the Beatles song above persuade you to let go of your cares? PS: John Lennon was my favourite!  🙂