Hearts on pilgrimage

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Reaching significant life markers can feel like a line being drawn in the sand.

Behind it may lie years of fruitful abundance, times of activity and usefulness.

In front is an unknown, untried, untested future ~ trusted to a known God.

My line in the sand came in my 30’s when I was working as a nurse.

I was struck down, laid low with M.E, and other chronic illness followed hot on its heels.

Time shuddered to a halt. A life divided into ‘now’ and ‘then’. I soon forgot what it felt like to feel well. 

God used the time to good effect. As I began to mourn the loss of health and career, He made me lie down by His still waters to examine my soul.

Provided good Christian counselling to encourage me to unearth my painful past and bring me into a place of greater release and freedom.

After nearly 10 years of weekly counselling sessions, I was finally emotionally healed from most of the events that had shaped me as a growing child/adult and poisoned my mind and heart.

Though some lingering after-effects continue to impact my life.

They too require the Healer’s ongoing tender touch.

Now, I remain a sojourner. A heart still set on pilgrimage.

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage” ~ Psalm 84:5

My soul is still seeking safety, sanctuary and strength on a daily basis as it leans heavy on the Lord.

For we never stay the same, even if our circumstances do.

We are all growing, evolving, maturing and learning day by day.

And God never stops teaching us about Himself:the wonders of His love, the marvel of His grace, the sweetness of His Presence.

I may have just passed another milestone on the way to heaven, but I will never get beyond my desperate need of God.

We are built to yearn for Him, to desire to know Him, to set our hearts on following after His will and ways.

Because that’s the only certainty we have in this uncertain world ~ our God is totally loving, totally trustworthy and totally faithful to His children.

God’s best won’t necessarily look good to us while we are experiencing it, and often not until we understand what He is doing and allowing, but it will heal and deliver us in His own perfect timing and way.

‘On pilgrimage’

Marching on is the nature of souls

in search of becoming healed and whole

Our pilgrimage can span many long years

as we learn to walk bold and conquer fears

Stumbling through valleys deep with sand

we reach out for God’s proffered hand

When weak, worn out and weary we fall

we’re lifted up by the One who sees all

Blinded by tears we lose our way

God ensures we don’t go astray

Discouragement comes and hearts can fail

until we remember the Blood and nails

Our Saviour Lord trod this earthly soil

experienced its pain, suffering and toil

And when we follow hard after Him

He grants us strength when life looks grim

©JoyLenton2014

on pilgrimage poem pin file image PJ

Linking here with Beth,  Holley, and other like-minded friends as we seek to encourage one another in our walk of life and faith

A soft whisper

A soft whisper file image PJ

Summer segues soft into Autumn and I sense a shift-change.

A call to quiet and calm. A whispered invitation of grace. A space to receive.

Making room for mercy moments in the mundane and eternal encounters in the everyday.

Words rise and fall in my head but fail to find their way onto the page.

My writing voice is stilled, though it clamours for release.

My mind feels overly busy with thoughts running around like headless chickens.

My body aches for rest, bed, soothing sleep, healing and restoration.

God wants me to be in tune with This season ~ a time to listen rather than speak, a time to refrain in order to gain the better part.

A heart receptive to His voice and a spirit that says Yes. A voice that whispers gentle and soft rather than shouting its presence.

All of which means that the things I long to share have been put on hold.. for now.

I am needing to focus more on the important than the urgent and make way for God’s ways most of all.

Yet He has encouraged me to send this poem forth because its message is timeless.

I wrote it in the flush of youthful love many moons ago, and published it two years ago on ‘Words of Joy’  in the context of a post about being seen, heard and loved.

I wrote the poem to my future husband, and as I read it again it speaks to me anew of our  heavenly Bridegroom calling for His Bride.

Maybe it also describes an intrinsic, eternal yearning inside us to be close, to feel cherished and loved, or maybe a way of seeing God in all of His creation?

However you take it, I pray God will use it to speak to you in the way you need to receive it.

‘Whisper your name’

Whisper your name in the

cold cubes of ice that

melt with heat’s breath

Whisper your name in the

wild, swirling tussle of

leaves on the ground

Whisper your name in the

snow that is black

with your words

Whisper your name in the

warm, woody ashes of

Winter that’s gone

Whisper your name in

Spring flowers that

nod out your greeting

Whisper your name in

the heavy haze of Summer sun

and Autumn sunsets

Whisper your name,

my love

and I’ll…..

whisper MINE

©JoyLenton2012

Praying for space for a sister to be slow, room for a recycled poem, and grace to come late to the party as I link here with Beth and friends for #threewordwednesday and with Kate for #FMF where this week’s  prompt is ‘Whisper’

**If you’d like to read more about words God has specifically whispered to my heart this year, then please feel free to check out the ‘Prayer Whispers’ category here**

A soft whisper file pin image PJ

Concealed and revealed

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We are like icebergs. Only a small part of the enormity of who we are is visible on the surface.

Much lies hidden. Concealed to the untrained eye or casual observer.

Strangers to ourselves, with our lives laid bare before God.

Nothing about you or I is a surprise to Him. We are fully known and we are completely loved and accepted.

Yet how hard it can be sometimes to see the ‘real’ me/you or accept who we are.

I am a composite reflection of all the people I’ve ever been ~ a girl-child, a lost soul, a teen, Jesus follower, wife and mother become grandma, who has a degree of God-given insight into her ways.

But I feel I’ll always be a bit of a mystery to myself, because who I am in Christ is an ongoing construction, ‘work in progress’ here and into eternity.

And the woman I am now is a just a snapshot of the experiences, thoughts and feelings that help make up my disposition, character and ways of reacting.

She is ineffably changed through her faith in Christ and inextricably linked to her life on earth.

Until.. Jesus returns to free us from its chains and reveal all that has lain concealed.

For now, I seek to be as authentic as I know how as I lean heavy on the Lord and learn from Holy Spirit-whispered insights.

To live out the hope within me, to reveal God’s goodness and grace, and conceal nothing that might help another soul feel less alone, or become blessed and encouraged by my testimony.

We can all be grace-imparters, joy-bringers and gift-givers to others, flawed and imperfect as we are.

‘Concealed and revealed’

I tried

concealing all my fears

to hide

a waterfall of tears

I shied

from confessing faults and flaws

My pride

wanted to slam such open doors

Divide

my heart and mind and will

Inside

I was far from capable

I cried

out to You in grief and pain

You pried

away all my guilt and shame

You died

to release me from death’s sting

Beside

me now, You bring Peace within

A flood

washes clean all earthly stain

Your blood

renews, makes me whole again

©JoyLenton2014

#1000gifts ~ I’m so grateful to God for some brief energy and inspiration to write today, especially when both have been in short supply lately!

Linking here today with Beth and  Holley, and other encouraging friends as we seek to share words to inspire and bless your heart.

concealed and revealed PJ poem pin image

Forgetting and remembering

Evening rails

In taking a step back we often see the way to move forward.

Perspective and hindsight combine to reveal what lay concealed.

Sitting too close to something can make it overly familiar, a thing of dependency and routine.

And we forget what lies on the other side.

So it was for me with social media a few weeks ago. I became burnt-out, exhausted and yet afraid to loose the hold.

It took time (and increasing health and life challenges) to make me see that in desiring to be in the thick of things I was missing the most important thing of all ~ time to simply ‘be’.

In the drawing back I gradually regained a sense of the ‘normality’ that used to be there for me when I wasn’t so caught up in the being out there, heard and seen aspects of life.

It began with restlessness, then as I relaxed more there was profound fatigue and deep bone weariness to contend with, as if I was finally giving my body permission to let go instead of running on continual adrenaline.

Then the silence was filled with a greater measure of hearing from God as He held me in my weakness and pain, helping me see my worth and value are nothing to do with my productivity or the lack thereof.

As an M.E and chronic illness sufferer, being ‘busy’ for me looks like another person’s chilling-out time; but it was a huge change for me to stop those activities and drop all concern about blogging and having some kind of online presence.

Freed from all expectations or demands, writing became pure joy. Poetry and prayer whispers proliferated. Snippets sank into my mind when I was resting, and God encouraged me to release it all to Him without worry or fear.

And I discovered that it’s only in the letting go of all we hold tight to that we are free to fully enjoy it in the way God intends us to.

So I have been delving deeper into His word, praying longer, reading more books and poetry than before, spending quality time with loved ones and ‘in real life’ friends, and realising how shallow my life had become.

Now I want to remember what it’s like to touch reality rather than living a large part of my life in a ‘virtual’ world.

I want to remember how God’s opinion of me is the only one that really matters and I write primarily for an audience of One.

And I want to continue to forget about people-approval issues, performance, perfectionism or pressure, and just concentrate on resting in God’s Presence where I am already beloved, accepted and pre-approved ~ just as I am.

‘Forgetting’

I’d forgotten what it’s like

to lose myself completely

within pages of a book

where time ceases to exist

and eyes are deeply fixed

on drinking in the words

upon which my soul is hooked

I’d forgotten what it’s like

to pray with no clock-watching

allowing time to listen

wait patient for God to speak

within this hour, day and week

seeking nothing more or less

than drawing closer to Him

I’d forgotten what it’s like

to heed Holy Spirit’s voice

so close in the minutiae

or to savour the rhythmic flow

as each moment comes and goes

and He whispers soft and low

to inform and guide my day

©JoyLenton2014

Gift and grace as social media and blogging are to me, it has been good to learn there is life beyond the laptop.

You can read more about how this experience has affected me in this post on ‘Words of Joy’.

How about you? Have you considered unplugging or experienced relief from doing so, even for a short while?

Feel free to share your story in the comments below.

Linking here with Beth, Holley and Jennifer. You are very welcome to join in. 

book reader ~ Forgetting  poem PJ file image pin

Taking time out

PJ file image ~ Time for a break

This is a season to set free. Unplug. Let loose. Chill out. Relax.

The world’s weight can sit heavy. We can drown under its load.

We need room to breathe. Be still. Listen to the still small voice Who brings calm to our souls.

I haven’t been doing much of that lately and I sense a Holy Spirit nudge to make more space for God.

The poem below was written a few months ago but its sentiments are my heart’s cry now.

The important can so easily get swallowed up in the urgent.

Creativity can get stifled in clamour.

Peace can become stolen by pressing purposes.

Joy can feel elusive when we join in too much with all the activity around us and don’t allow time out for our soul’s sake.

I need time to ponder and pray.

A space to hear holy whispers.

Room to read.

Time to write with no specific end result in view, just for the sheer pleasure of penning poetry and prose.

Maybe you do too?

 ‘Today’

Today…

I cannot connect with the world

Its noise

drowns out His voice

Its chaos

collides with His calm

Its clamour

presses into His peace

Today…

I choose ease and rest

To breathe

His Divine essence

To begin

sensing His Presence

To listen

while seeking His best

Today…

We have choices we need to make

Would you

decide or decline

Could you

sift hard and refine

Will you

chase after God’s way ~ this day?

©JoyLenton2014

Linking here with Beth and friends for #ThreeWordWednesday

**NOTE** ~ As I seek more #spiritualwhitespace to listen to #SacredEchoes I am joining with like-minded souls over at Margaret Feinberg’s place this week.

To find out more about why I need this space, check out this post on ‘Words of Joy’.

I’m looking forward to catching up with you in a week or so.  Please grant grace for a delayed reply to any comments left here. Thank you!

May God bless you and meet with you in a special way as you follow after His heart this Summer.

Today poem PJ file image pin

I will rise

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‘I will rise’

Some days..

part of me longs to break free

become unshackled from the earth

shake off dust, soil and toil

relinquish all but new birth

Maybe..

I will gather galaxies, bathe

in a sparkling sea of stars

or journey to other planets

visit Venus, Jupiter or Mars

stride unhindered over mountain peaks

sneak a view in a volcano or two

dive into indigo oceans deep

and climb pathways high and steep

One day..

these limbs will move and lift with ease

and pain will be a mystery

I will rise sky-high, out of sight,

as a balloon flies swift and

bright, then disappears from view

I may..

begin floating near eternal Light

my eyes watching years unravelling

like string, to pull me back

or draw me in, while I’m

travelling closer to You

©JoyLenton2014

“We know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents.. they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven.. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move ~ and so we cry out in frustration… The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:1-2, 4-5 (The Message)

Linking here with  Beth,  Holley and Jennifer. You are very welcome to join in.

balloon ~ i will rise file image pin