When you need help starting over again

starting over - PJ

What if we could start over again? What would it look like to wipe the slate clean, rewind time and take out the flaws and failings of our lives?

Sadly, we would soon discover that the fault lies within. A flawed heart means faulty choices and actions. An unredeemed mind leads us into toxic thinking and bad behaviour.

And only God can fully address humanity’s needs and offer us a fresh start when we place our faith in Jesus Christ. We can begin again by God’s grace.

Then each day becomes opportunity for starting over. Each hour breathes out potential of the barely begun.

When I reflected on this season, it became clear that I’ve been stuck in a ditch of discouragement for several weeks. Led by my feelings and fast losing any joy I had before.

I wondered why joy was so elusive, where God was in the midst of my distress, why I couldn’t seem to get out of this cycle.

There were no pat answers. But God gently urged me to write a bit about joy, little snippets He whispered during my prayer times.

It seems joy is like a bright light glimpsed in the distance and we often miss the fact it’s also shining in us.

It felt elusive until I realised it doesn’t depend on my feelings at all. Because joy is a gift of grace weaving through our painful circumstances and giving us hope in dark places.

Once we realise how joy is always hovering close by, then we can start to discover it in numerous ways, such as: a slow unfolding realisation of its presence, a heart’s gratitude, an attitude of praise, a smile from a loved one, laughter bubbling up, a beautiful view, hearing God speak comfort into our weary souls.

How have you discovered or rediscovered joy hiding in plain sight? I’d love you to share in the comments below.

I’ve found that joy is a choice. As we read God’s word, receive and believe it, we start to notice how the life of faith is a series of conscious decisions we make every day. And we can waken to that hope with each new dawn.

Friends, I’m sorry for being missing here for a while. Too much life slowed me to a standstill. Thank you for your grace and patience. ❤

dawn beach tanka poem pin

Preparation for fasting and feasting

ash berries - life PJ

I belong to a faith tradition that makes no specific preparation for Lent within its practices.

It’s a relatively new thing for me to take note of Lent and consider how to prepare my heart for the journey.

And I’ve come to realise I cannot fully undertake it without surrender, intention and deliberation.

Life itself invites us into a gentle awareness of days and seasons of the heart, an opening to the sacred within the secular.

As nights draw in and days become dark and cold, we may gather dead, dry and dying plants together to make a bonfire. From the embers grey ash rises, ripe for garden mulch.

Ash is precursor to new life, new growth. A potent symbol of the dying and rising we experience within.

Likewise, Lent provides opportunity to sift out dead wood we’ve unwittingly gathered over time, consign it to death and seek the restoration and renewal God offers us through a transformed mind and heart.

Ash Wednesday

Absent from this temple

is smudge and ash of grey

reminder of and reason

why our Saviour came

But deep within this heart

remains a cloak of black

as sin still crouches there

ready to ensnare, attack

Deeper still within this soul

shines a Light without limit

where God’s Love resides

bringing wholeness to my spirit

And as I journey forth

leaning closer into Lent

my value and my worth

become ever heaven-sent

©JoyLenton2016

You can’t get a better companion to walk you through Lent and into Holy Week than Malcolm Guite as he invites us to become immersed in poetic reflection with ‘Word in the Wilderness’.

I’ve also downloaded a pdf file: ‘Hungering for Life – Creative Exercises for Lent’ compiled by Christine Sine, with Jean Andrianoff. Here, contrary to the usual emphasis on fasting, we are being asked to consider what we are hungering for during Lent.

You can find myriad resources for Lent on the Godspace blog, including prayers, ways of celebrating with children, musical and creative resources. Click here to discover them. Ignatian Spirituality also has 10 great ideas for Lent here.

This preparation will hopefully lead to deeper reflection on new life rising from death rather than focussing most on loss and death itself.

The words below speak into our need to focus on the positive. They came from ‘Morning, Noon and Night – Poems and Prayers’ and can be found in various forms in Lenten reflections. I’d love to hear how you prepare for Lent and make space for Easter.

“Fast from criticism, and feast on praise.

Fast from self-pity, and feast on joy.

Fast from ill-temper, and feast on peace.

Fast from resentment, and feast on contentment.

Fast from jealousy, and feast on love.

Fast from pride, and feast on humility.

Fast from selfishness, and feast on service.

Fast from fear, and feast on faith.” 

ash fast and feast - PJ

When you’re wearing a thin veneer

a thin veneer - PJ

Life can pare us down to the bone. All that remains is a thin veneer of capability.

We can plaster on a smile but it doesn’t always hide heartache within.

Our souls can wear a semblance of normality yet shield a great deal of pain on the inside.

I was reminded of feeling this way recently when accompanying my husband to a hospital waiting room.

Such places provide a glimpse of the struggles others go through, although the evidence isn’t always evident.

We sit, trying to be patient patients in an environment guaranteed to provoke into anxiety, and you don’t have to be the one waiting to be seen to feel it.

We tend to cast covert glances around the room while being careful not to catch an eye. So much is given away by the windows of our soul, isn’t it?

Because who wants their concerns flagged up for all to see? Who can cope with a stranger’s curiosity?

Most of us just want to conceal our stuff, our inner baggage. Hide our woundedness from others.

How do I cope when life gets hard? I think a lot. Too much, sometimes. I cry. I pray. I read God’s word. I journal and I write poetry…

A thin veneer

She watches thin veneer curling away at edges

panels pared down to chine-bone, chipped

away by ravages of years and time

Hardly a soul here now, barely a breath

to stir antiseptic air made stale by fear

in this orthopaedic waiting room

Anxiety stalks these walkways where hushed

voices betray a reverence for medicine

Eyes flit to ceiling marred by blind hanging

by a thread, with silted panes protruding

beneath, clouding out blue sky, limiting

horizon for those seeking some escape

So we wait, reluctant clock-watchers of the hours

and see, with incredulity, how mere minutes

have passed since last we glanced at glass

Spirits sag in sympathy with weary bodies

wearing but a thin veneer of patience here

©JoyLenton2016

One thing I do know with complete certainty.. God loves you and me.

Jesus came to liberate us from inner loneliness, fear and anxiety. To open us up to a transformed way of thinking and being.

He offers us a way to break free from fear. To be so secure in His love, so changed by His grace that we no longer need to hide ourselves away.

We can live an open-hearted, giving and receiving kind of life when we turn to Him, become redeemed, restored and refuelled for wherever the journey may take us.

And those veneers we wear will gradually strip away. We can be real. We can be free. We can be all God intends us to be by His grace.

a thin veneer PJ pin

When we need a reminder

when we need a reminder PJ

Days can bleed softly into one another and we so often miss being able to see and sense the sacred in the secular.

Holy and hallowed moments meeting with us in the mundane. Whispers of God’s grace in the commonplace.

My heart’s longs to live with greater awareness. To have my eyes open to wonder. To be present to Presence.

To know that whether I feel anything or not, God is always present.

And His active, living presence is what my soul needs most.

I desire to recognise holy in the everyday. God at home in my heart and mind, rooted in life’s reality.

I want to live in the light of His presence as I walk through this world, sense His peace and love, know I am His beloved.

And I want to make space for the entrance of grace to change and transform my mess.

Remind me

Living Lord,

Remind me as I go through my days

to know that the Lord is in this place

Awaken me to wonder

Alert me to Your Love

Bring a deep, abiding sense

of Your peaceful Presence

Calm this restless heart

Still my anxious mind

And as I sit and absorb

may I rise and go forth

share the beauty and grace I see

witness to Your Life in me

©JoyLenton2016

I definitely need to be reminded of these things. Maybe you do too?

Centering prayer is helping me to have that focus on a daily basis. Here’s a link to a helpful app I am currently using for that.

I also read quite a few devotional resources, use this bible app and dip into this prayerful app too from time to time.

What helps you to focus on God’s presence?

How are you best reminded of His daily grace?

remind me prayer PJ file pin

A moment in time

seeking and finding PJ

Some moments are frozen in time, stilled in sense and sight. Etched on our minds and engraved in our memories.

I’m remembering a week when my beloved was away for a few days and (very thoughtfully) provided me with meals in the freezer.

All lovingly home-cooked and pre-prepared ahead of time. Yes I know, I’m one blessed woman!

There was even a typed list of what to find where and how to deal with it. How’s that for organisation?

He takes such good care of me; his hands willing to work on my behalf since he lost paid employment, and despite having developed Parkinson’s disease over the last 2 years.

Thankfully, he can still do most things he used to do before his diagnosis, albeit slower, with a degree of pain and fatigue.

I’m not completely helpless in a kitchen. I can muster up coffee, breakfast and a snack, but I am unused to coping alone with main meals.

Because cooking and cleaning are lost arts to me since I’ve become more chronically unwell with arthritis, fibromyalgia and M.E.

I can’t stand for long,  lift or carry much, can only walk a few steps unaided experience a great deal of muscle and joint pain plus profound fatigue on a daily basis, cognitive problems, brain fog and hypersensitivity to light and sound.

Thankfully, my husband actually loves to cook because he’s pretty good at it and preparing meals relaxes him.

We may live a rather limited life compared to some, yet we are grateful for small mercies and experience moments of  joy in little things.

The poem below speaks about my determination to press past my problems and push myself to enjoy a moment in time – although it’s not a recommended practice for those with M.E to extend themselves too much. Sadly, there’s always a payback afterwards. 😦

A moment in time

a moment in time laundry PJ

It’s only a moment in time

as I heed the inner need

to step outside a while

My senses alert to burgeoning

life as I peg laundry to line

I feel warm sun rays

playing on my face

like a heaven’s breath

benediction of grace

Whistling wind whips swift

tussling through hair and

trees, its resonant notes

vibrating each green leaf

Echoed in chiming ice-cream

van, roaming nearby streets,

while ‘sun has got its hat on’

sounds make children fleet of feet

My arms and legs ache so

with every move I make

And this bitter-sweet task

is no mean feat for me

Although washing is often

dried inside, today I yield,

follow my heart’s yearning,

welcoming embrace of Spring

©JoyLenton2015

a moment in time PJ pin

**I’m editing and sharing this pre-prepared post I’d intended to share last year, because my health remains rather challenging at the moment and fresh inspiration is a bit thin on the ground. Hopefully normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Thank you for your grace! ** 🙂

Ushering in a new dawn

dawn

Our hearts long for the new, welcome a fresh start.

Each day is opportunity to begin again.

Each moment is ripe for grace to invade.

And how much more do we yearn for change when a world is weeping?

When lives are lost and dreams are smashed.

In the aftermath of world tragedy and trauma we feel stunned.

We pray for broken lives as we slowly pick up the pieces of our own.

Wanting nothing more than the security which love offers us with its acceptance and trust.

Because who can we trust when a world spins crazy?

How do we see beyond the casualties and calamity, the senseless crashing and crushing of humanity?

How can hope be birthed again from pain?

It’s a hard question to answer and I have no pat answers to offer here.

But I can point to the Lord of Life who is here in the mire and the mess, sitting in dust and ashes with us.

And I can attest to God’s healing and restoration power and the overarching comfort of His love.

Broken hearts, dreams and lives can be made new as we embrace the hope He offers us for this life and beyond.

Jesus is ushering in a new dawn for all mankind, beginning with one transformed life at a time.

Dawn

Lord and giver of Life,

As I welcome the dawn

I open myself up

to the pulse of Your Light

and the rush of Your love

moving through me

I meet and greet new

possibilities, potential

and promises to be

fulfilled as I wait

expectantly

I embrace hope,

fresh start, awakenings

and renewed dreams

I relinquish and discard

yesterday’s brokenness,

pain and distress

Today is opportunity

to begin again

Today is another

unfolding, unfurling

of the barely begun

Amen

©JoyLenton2015

dawn PJ poem

Hope sings a joyful song

hope sings PJ

In the midst of life’s pain and darkness there sounds a note of joy.

It is the call of Hope reminding us of its presence within our thorny circumstances.

And as we tune our hearts to listen, we find its melody is like music to our ears.

Souls seek solace in hope’s calm waters. Bathe in its warm glow.

We lift our heads above the waves, resist the winds blowing us sideways, and we drift slowly toward the pull of soothing streams.

We already have a Lifebelt around our waist to keep us afloat, holding us steady.

Now we see how Hope also companions our days and defends us against dark night’s covering.

So we surrender to its sound as our souls contribute their own harmony.

God is here. We are safe. Hope rises strong. We can face another day.

Grace and Hope join hands to lift us to a better place.

Hope sings

Hope sings out loud with joyful

sound like an uncaged bird perched

within a confident trusting soul

who sees life complete and whole

Another may quake and shake

and be all of a flutter

with an anxious heart prone to

quail, splutter and falter

Hope is like a light

burning on the inside

A flame often wavering, slim

we must tend to keep it alive

God doesn’t bow to our

indecent haste, our nervous

exhaustion when life is viewed

like a marathon race

His ways are ones of

unhurried, restful peace

with hope ascending high

as it’s lubricated by

the oil of Holy Spirit ease

And we can remain calm

when our Hope is secure

while we rest in God’s arms

and trust an unknown future

to a faithful, risen Saviour

©JoyLenton2015

This is day 28 of write-31-days with five-minute-free-writes. Today I’m linking up with fellow writing friends for ‘Tell His Story at Jennifer’s place and ‘Coffee for your Heart’ at Holley’s site.

And it’s also my last contribution to this writing challenge. Family will be staying over and I hope to unwind and spend some precious quality time with them. Thank you for reading.

I’ve taken part here on a weekly basis but most of  these #write31days posts can be found over at my other site ‘Words of Joy’ if you’d like to catch up with them while I take a break. Blessings and love to you as you rest in our eternal Hope of Christ for this life and beyond.  Joy 

hope sings light - PJ

Riding the waves

riding the waves PJ

Riding the waves

When waves threaten to overwhelm

seal my cells in the security

of Your safe embrace

Remind me that life’s storms

cannot completely swallow me

I belong to a different shore

A Kingdom of peace prevailing

where joy is the sound

that roars, deafening in its

clarity. For nothing there

can sink us, only draw us

closer to Your trinity

So as these waves of worry

encompass me today

and waves of uncertainty

try to have their way,

keep me anchored in Hope

held fast against the Rock

sheltered from the storms

battering and bruising my heart

Render me ready to meet

life’s waves with equanimity

And steady myself in Your grace

while they rise higher day by day

May I see only Light’s beacon

burning bright ahead

and rest in tender waves

of Love rushing toward

me as Lifebelt holding me

close in their stead

©JoyLenton2015

riding the waves PJ poem

This is day 21 of write-31-days five-minute-free-writes with the prompt:‘wave’. You can see the rest of the prompts here. I am also joining in with fellow writing friends at Jennifer’s place for #TellHisStory and with Holley for #coffeeforyourheart as we share God’s grace seen in His hand on our lives.

Thank you for being here and at Words of Joy where most of the posts have been written this month.

I am so thankful for your company and support!

I want to fly free

fly free web PJ

Do you ever get days when the world seems to crush you with the weight of their collective opinion?

The internet can be a great place to hang out but it can also leave us feeling invisible in the stream of news and views, likes and shares or the lack thereof.

Maybe you feel caught in a comparison trap where you appear to be less favourably situated than others are? Me too, sometimes.

If so, today’s poem (written a while back when energy was more available) may speak to your insecure soul and lead you to seek your worth and value primarily in how God views you.

Because we are infinitely precious, dearly beloved and deeply special to Him.

Yes, you too. You really are. Just As You Are. He knows and notices everything about you.

You can fly free of people-approval because you’re already pre-approved by God.

You can let go the need to impress because you’re special to Him.

You can rest in His grace for every circumstance and His peace for every problem.

You can be reassured of God’s great faithfulness to take good care of you all the days of your life.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” ~ Lamentations 3:22 – 23

Fly free

I’m stuck fast like a wasp

in a honey-pot, caught like

a fly in a web of deceit

because I’ve bought into

the lie that I’m incomplete

without fame and acclaim

tasting oh so sweet

It spins soft as sugar

as it wraps round our thoughts

and persuades us we’re not

quite as good as we ought

to be, not adequate or

enough for the likes of

Them who decide if

we’re out or in, you see

And I soon sicken of

the sugary smiles and

false acclaim offered

to us if we’ve made

our name, or the pain

we feel of being ‘less than’

in another’s eyes due to

their flawed opinion

I just want to fly free

of it all, and spread my

wings onto purer

and sweeter and better things

My soul seeks the solace

of being grounded in grace

where I can be my true self

in God’s accepting embrace

©JoyLenton2015

 “Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. ..Since you are precious and honoured in my sight, and because I love you.” ~ Isaiah 43:1, 4

This is day 14 of 31 days of #fiveminutefreewrites taking place with these prompts over at Kate Motaung’s place. I’m joining in as often as I can, even if my posts are not necessarily written on the day itself, because there’s grace to participate in your own way.

If you’d like to see the rest of my posts in this series, the majority can be found at my‘Words of Joy’ blog. I’d love to see you there! 🙂

I’m also linking with Jennifer for #TellHisStory and Holley for #coffeeforyourheart

fly free PJ poem pin

Having an autumnal heart

autumnal bench

Leaves are singing their swansong, a drifting dance of death as they fall to ground.

Some float freely, still retaining some buoyancy and remnants of yellowing life.

Others scatter on the wind as crisped golden-russet confetti flakes.

Fit only to be trodden on, while we wait for bridal snow to appear as winter hovers on the threshold.

And my soul sits heavy some days, a slow dying on the inside whenever M.E fatigue droops me to bed, reddens these eyes and forces a body to lean into rest.

Oh how I need enlivening on days when the spark seems missing! Maybe you do too, my friend? Let’s pray…

Dear Lord,

I feel autumnal dry, parched on the inside.

Begin with my heart. Set it on fire with your enlivening spark.

Let it take root there, at the centre of all things, deep in my soul where you make me whole.

Fan into flame my feeble frame. Stir this dust into something more than ashes.

Give a kiss of life to my lethargic mind.

Sweep out the cobwebs. Make room for a shift in perspective.

Teach my soul to sing a new song. Ready me to receive renewed joy of my salvation.

And whisper close. Hold me as I muse on these muddy, maladroit days.

Remind me that Love is always with me; I only need to see and open my heart to receive it.

Then let me be seated, at rest in Love’s embrace.

Wait to be filled to overflowing until I am ready to be poured out again.

Thank you.

Amen.

A vessel to be filled

Lord Jesus come,

to my autumnal heart

I need your Love

Without it I wither,

curl up small and die

on the inside

crumble, fall apart

My light and life weaken

without the infilling and

spilling – I desperately need

restoration by radiance

Flood my being with

searing heat of grace

the fierce warm fire

of your Love’s embrace

Here I stand with

aching, empty hands

ready and willing

to accept and receive

A vessel to be filled

then give out freely and

help others to believe

©JoyLenton2015

Linking here with Holley at Coffee for Your Heart and Jennifer at Tell His Story

autumnal heart prayer pin