seagulls: seeking to trust in God’s provision for us

Living within driving distance of the sea means that we often have times when there’s an invasion of seagulls inland, especially when it’s inclement weather where they live or they just feel like spreading their wings.

They make a racket as they fly everywhere, hoping we’re going to be as generous providers of sustenance as their seaside audience are. Little do they know that we’re unlikely to be a good source of food for them, unless they scavenge our leavings.

It’s like the seagulls don’t quite trust they’ll be taken care of. Do birds actually forget that God makes sure they are fed? They have no need to fret. And does some of that doubt creep into our own souls as we hunger after things only God can supply?

“And the food became known as “manna” (meaning “What is it?”); it was white, like coriander seed, and flat, and tasted like honey bread.” – Exodus 16:31 TLB

Maybe we just need to remind ourselves of how wonderfully God has provided for us in the past to stir us toward intentional noticing and being thankful for all we receive today.

“He fed you with manna in the wilderness (it was a kind of bread unknown before) so that you would become humble and so that your trust in him would grow, and he could do you good.” – Deuteronomy 8:16 TLB

Seagull-minded

Are we seagull-minded, screeching and squawking over
one small crust of bread, as though that was all we had
and we’re worried we won’t be fed?

Do we not remember how God provided daily manna
in the wilderness, and how he never leaves his children
wanting, weary or downcast?

Have we forgotten how he lifts the weary and seeks out
the lost, giving us his strength and help when we are weak
and mending our broken hearts?

Are our minds dulled and negligent in considering God’s
magnificent provision for everything, and just how much
we need his presence and his touch?

Maybe we require a shift in our thinking so we don’t sink
into discouragement but are instead encouraged by his
word, and thankful our prayers are heard

Then our souls would veer into an attitude of gratitude
that lifts and sustains us, and treasure each slide into
deeper dependence and trust
© joylenton

“Jesus replied, ‘I am the Bread of Life. No one coming to me will ever be hungry again. Those believing in me will never thirst.'” – John 6:35 TLB

despite the odds faith lasts #thedailyhaiku 9

 

Faith is intrinsic to our lives. It’s exercised every day. We cannot even drive a car without trusting our skill and the vehicle we are in, or sit down in a chair without having faith it will support our weight.

Some say they have no faith, yet the art of science is faith-based, leaving room for human fallibility, questioning and supposition before any degree of certainties are reached.

So much of our lives are full of conjecture, questioning and making space for mystery. Christian believers sometimes doubt their faith is strong enough to take the weight of their expectations, hopes and dreams.

But what if we saw faith as a gift of grace? We’re meant to have more faith and trust in God than in our own ability to have faith in our somewhat wobbly faith as such. It’s God’s promises that are secure, His love remains unfailing, His mercy is without end and His word revered as our trustworthy authority, guidebook and training manual.

Despite our own worst fears, our tiny mustard seed-sized faith actually grows in adversity, is stretched during challenges and is made manifest when we are called to account. It is more apparent than we believe and it lasts eternally. So let’s keeping trusting and living into the answers to come.

faith lasts

it’s no fairytale
despite the odds we will find
our faith grows and lasts
©joylenton

we require ripening time #thedailyhaiku 8

 

It doesn’t take long in the walk of faith before we realise that lasting change isn’t usually swift to come to us and neither is the sanctification process. Rather, we spend our time alternating between resting and resisting, going solo and surrendering to God.

However, we needn’t become discouraged as we journey on with the Lord, because every pausing place is opportunity to receive God’s grace. Each step of faith we take gets us closer in our experience of intimacy with God. Even the faltering ones whereby we stumble and fall can become ways in which our Father gently guides us deeper into His will for us.

I’m slowly learning the benefits of resting in Jesus our Saviour and eternal Vine, allowing His energy to fuel my days and His strength to sustain me in everything. Though it comes at the cost of laying down our self-sufficiency and pride, we never lose out in yielding to the Lord, albeit little by little.

just like a flower

just like a flower

we require ripening time

growing on the vine

©joylenton

yield to the light while darkness encroaches

 

Darkness seems to encroach and cover everything in its path. The whole world feels pretty bleak , unsafe, unstable and dark these days, with news reports of violent storms, bombs and hurricanes, earthquakes and the political ploys of men. There must be a way of seeing and yielding to the light in the midst of this devastation.

When life itself seems to hang by a thread, we can easily forget that we have an enemy set on wreaking havoc on our cities, shores and souls. There is so much more going on than meets the eye. Supernatural forces are at work everywhere.

God is more than a match for satan’s evil schemes (I won’t dignify him with a capitalisation here). Our Lord’s Light is impenetrable by the darkness around and the shadows found in mankind’s soul. God dwells in light unapproachable and unbearably bright for human eyes.

But He has revealed that light in and through His Son, Jesus Christ, the saving Light of the world. We can come close to Him, seek solace, find Hope, Joy and Peace within when a world’s feeble light gets dimmed.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” ~ John 1:1-5 (NIV)

And just like heavy, rain-laden clouds eventually have to give way to sweep of wind and glint of light breaking through, we, too, can sense a lifting of heaviness as we yield to the deep, inner sense of God’s continual presence with us. May we take comfort from that thought as we pray about the crises in the world, whether far away or closer to home.

Yield to the light

Sun breaks through dark clouds, pierces

the gloom with shards of light, playing

games, as it creates these subtle

shadows and shade

 

I watch the way it  enters suddenly

into a room, seeking to penetrate

with a revealing reminder

of its presence

 

Darkness must always yield to the light

and make way for its brightness, shining

now into every crack and crevice, like

a beaming torch

 

There’s such affirmation of life

in the spreading, golden fingers spooling

out like loosened thread, tugging hard

on cheerless hearts

©joylenton

As we close, let’s allow the inimitable Leonard Cohen to share his own words on how the light gets in, with a video taken when he was performing in London in 2008. May you listen to his gentle whisper-singing and reflect on just how much light seeps into our days, more than we ever realise.

abandon: on surrendering our lives to God

 

Being abandoned, even temporarily, feels devastating. Nothing else quite strikes at the core of who we think we are and what our perceived worth and value might be in another’s eyes.

Many of us feel the sting of shame at being rejected or abandoned by our birth parents, whether at birth , later on by the way we are treated, or as casualties of our parents’ splitting up.

Such things leave scars which can mar us for life, if we let them. I only began to fathom what unconditional, fully accepting, lavish love looked like when I came to faith in Christ in my late teens.

I still marvel over our Heavenly Father adopting me into His family, viewing me as His oh so precious, beloved child. And I am not alone in this, because that’s how He sees you too, my friend, and longs to be in a close, loving, intimate relationship with you.

There are some barriers in the way at first, most of all our sin. Though unbelief and rejection of His love can also be a hindrance to receiving it. Thankfully, Jesus made a way where there seemed to be no way.

His death on the cross and glorious resurrection are the means whereby we become reunited to God. They reveal how we, too, can learn to die to sin, overcome our shame, guilt and pain and rise again in newness of life with Him.

Once we see and believe just how much God loves us, we start to realise we are never as alone or abandoned as we might feel. And we are given daily grace and strength from Him.

Abandon

I want to become a prisoner of

Hope, abandon myself on the altar

of dependence, and rest in God’s

all-sufficiency—because he has given 

us the greatest abandonment of all

nailed fast to a wooden cross

 

Jesus chose to abandon himself

to death, to suffering, to ultimate sacrifice

for our sin, for our sake, for our lives

He chose the path less travelled, seeking

 

to be a servant of all, relinquishing

his kingly crown and throwing down

the gauntlet to the kingdom of darkness

which had us in its thrall

 

Now we, who were orphans of circumstance,

hostage to habit, taunted by temptation,

have become beloved daughters and sons, children

of God instead of life’s lost, unwanted

ones. We’ve received a fresh heritage

 

made rich by faith, given a brand new

start, new heart, clean slate, on which

our Father God can write his eternal glory

story—as we abandon ourselves willingly

to surrender, and close relationship with him

©joylenton2017

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed. but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (emphasis mine)

Happy to be linking my (rather late), poetic #FMF words in companionship with fellow wordsmiths gathering at Kate Motaung’s site. Just click here to join us there. 

**NOTE** – If you’re seeking solace, you might like to read my poetic memoir journey of discovering grace in life’s hard places. It’s available free today to download here on Amazon Kindle.  🙂

season: finding soul sanctuary in tough times

crocus-season-pj

 

How did we get to March? I seem to have missed the memo. Just like some friends across the pond are still deep in snow, waiting for the melt, for a season of spring to show, I seem to have been hibernating in stillness, a needful slowing down on the inside while taking on extra physical and mental busyness.

I need a soul sanctuary. It’s here—borne on the wings of prayer, coming to me as I wait patiently before God, learn to still my restless heart and find my deepest peace in faith and trust, as I navigate through life’s hard places with His guidance and support,  His energy and strength given whenever it’s needed.

It’s a holy breath, a whispered answer to prayer, a divine call to come aside for a while and rest deeper in Him. Our soul sanctuary is available for any season of the soul or season of life. There is no place where we can fail to meet with God’s grace.

Fresh rain sanctuary

This pure night frost, blanketing winter

tendrils beneath soft moon peace, leaves

deep cloud, cold air we breathe; and a 

thick, moist, fresh rain sanctuary cycles

like wild, sacred water song, murmuring

long summer secrets of our Eden rest

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-fresh-rain-sanctuary-pj

 

While I wait for my husband to be fit enough to leave hospital following his spinal surgery, the clock inches ever closer to a significant birthday for him. I don’t know how, when, where or if we’ll find an opportunity to fully celebrate it, but my hope and prayer is for us to have a season of togetherness, joy and celebration soon, instead of a season of separation, sickness and pain. Hence the poem below…

My wild desire

Coffee is my liquid magic

It’s good to wake and make time

here for remembering my wild desire:

to embrace, be healed, eat cake and 

celebrate this life with champagne kiss

©joylenton2017

magnetic-poetry-my-wild-desire-pj

 

When we take our needs and wild desires to God we can trust Him for the outcome and all He plans to do with them. Things might not look like we expect or hope they will, but it will be the best fit for you and me, because God knows the innermost secrets of our hearts and is able to bless us beyond measure in meeting those needs in a way that also serves His overall plan and purposes.

How is this season speaking to you? I’d love to hear in the comments below. 

*NOTE* ~ My poetic memoir, ‘Seeking Solace’ is free for a few days on Kindle, from March 7th to March 11th inclusive! If you’re seeking solace yourself, or know someone else who is, then my story of discovering God’s grace in life’s hard places may well aid the journey. You can get it here… There’s also a paperback version available if you prefer.  🙂

safe: learning to trust when life feels unsafe

fmf-safe-poetry-joy-file-image

 

My childhood didn’t fully prepare me to trust or feel safe and secure in the ways I might have hoped it would. But it did lead me to seek for ways to lighten the darkness in my child-heart by enjoying the simple pleasures of life, like blowing bubbles or chasing butterflies.

Not all of the methods I chose were actually safe or helpful, until God shone the light of His presence into my life and I was undone in the best possible way. Because up to then, love had been far from easy, unconditional, lavish or free.

Life can feel less than safe in this dark world,  as I still wrestle with demons from my past and deal with myriad challenges in the present. Yet my hope and faith are safe, secure, resting on God’s redemption, goodness and grace, His wild, wild Love and forgiveness that covers all my sin, and His broken heart for a suffering world.

In thinking about the word ‘safe’ for this week’s five-minute-friday prompt, several things suggested themselves. There was even a first attempt poem that didn’t quite feel right, though it may well get shared another day.

I am so grateful God is a God of second chances—as well as second thoughts—and how He has provided this alternative poetic offering unexpectedly today, albeit a bit later than planned.

Safe

The watery womb was my home

I nestled close, listening to thrum

of human heartbeat, soothed again

by its sweet refrain rhythm

 

And as I stretched my limbs

I sensed the confines of this space

gradually closing in

 

It was time—time to be born

before my time to die—time

to breathe, live outside this home

 

I sensed movement, tightening

and squeezing. It didn’t seem safe

but I trusted to my fate

 

Then a soft night light shone warmly

on my screwed up face. My eyes had grown

unaccustomed to the Light

 

Hands groped for my body, held me

tight, as lovingly as can be, cradled

me safe, welcomed me to life

 

And I knew, instinctively, despite

how different this would be, how hard

my Father was still holding me

©joylenton2017

Please click here to join us for the #FMF link up. You’ll be blessed by the beautiful writing and warm, supportive community there.  🙂

safe-poem-excerpt-fmf-poetry-joy

change: when life is far from the cat’s whiskers

change-cats-whiskers-pj

 

How do you view the prospect of change? It can seem exciting for many as they look forward with eager anticipation to the next new experience and all it will bring to them. And for others? It can fill them with dismay and become something to be feared, because change has potential to be such an unwelcome intrusion into our lives.

The longer we stay in one place, maintain a fixed mindset or refuse to move with the times, the harder accepting and adapting to change can become. And it’s often those whose circumstances keep them glued to a place,  stuck fast in their ways, who need (or are forced to endure) a regular routine, who can become wary and weary of doing things differently.

Though unlike cats, who are thought to be gifted with nine lives, we only have one wild and precious life, as Mary Oliver so famously said, and need wisdom in how to live it well. Being overly cautious doesn’t seem the best approach to take if it means we’re living in a limited, less than trusting way.

In my poetic responses to my inventive, creative friend, Kat Myrman’s  ‘Twittering Tales’ photo prompt this week, I couldn’t help but focus on the potential challenges facing this imaginary woman with a cat on her lap. I’ve lived long enough to lose quite a few friends and family members, sat with death and disease frequently as a nurse, and come face to face with my own limitations on a daily basis.

change-cat-photo-twittering-tales-pj

 

Tired, sweetly supine in her

arms, this dear feline friend

remains more faithful than

the rest, whom time and age

gradually removed, dispersed

(140 characters)

 

She didn’t want to go, leave

this house and home, for who

else would know how to take

care of her darling cat or give

her such loving attention?

(140 characters)

 

Then I found myself going in a more playful direction here…

 

She stroked him under the chin

and chuckled deep within, for

none could know this cat now

in sweet repose was none

other than a witch’s familiar

(140 characters)

I’m grateful above all things in this fast paced, ever-changing world for the fact that God changes not. He remains reliably faithful, trustworthy, unchangeable, loving, kind and gracious toward us. We may not always be able to see the way ahead but we can always trust the One who is holding us.

change-cats-whiskers-faith-trust-lamentations-3-22-23-pj

control: relinquishing outcomes into God’s hands

control-relinquishing-outcomes-to-gods-hands-pj

 

Control is a slippery customer. The more we try to grasp it, the more it slides through our fingers. And yet we still try to hold on to those things we perceive we have a sense of control over.

They can become a mirage of sorts, shapes in a mist made material in our eyes. Control is a longing stemming back to Eden. Our souls seek to cling to it, and in the process we soon discover how ethereal and insubstantial it really is.

Maybe we’ve had control wrested from us in the name of love, leading to a lasting distrust of feeling decidedly out of control. Because it initiates primal fears, makes us nervous to realise we’re not running the show, that deep down there’s some insufficiency within.

Perceived lack and insecurity are strong motivators for tenaciously hanging on to the thin threads of our thoughts, clinging to desires, people and possessions, as though they could all be taken away somehow, unless we hold on hard.

When we reach out to God instead, we begin to relinquish control of our lives—one small step at a time. We learn to rest in, rather than resisting, His work in us. We develop a relationship based on trust in Someone faithful beyond compare.

And we soon discover that the freedom and liberty we gain in Christ is more fulfilling and meaningful than living a controlling  life where self-control is the hardest thing of all to achieve.

Control

I need to breathe, because I feel out of control

though it’s a human illusion to have complete

ownership over it all. How easily we

forget how our very breath is a gift from God

and every step we take or decision we make

fits within his eternal plan. And His prescience

precedes our existence, like his purpose

outlasts our earthly lives, our desire to build

empires, to dream, to daily survive and thrive

potter-image-morguefile

 

So I still my soul, as life spins me sideways

I seek to surrender these cares and concerns

these hoped for outcomes—release them all

into God’s safe hands. I choose to trust, just

because we can wear ourselves out on the wheel

or turn toward the One who’s moulding you and me

We’re lumps of clay being shaped by a gentle

Potter’s hands. We’re all potential works of art

potter-and-clay-image-by-lauren

 

to grace this world with our Maker’s mark

We’ve been given freedom to slip away

from his grasp, or yield to a touch that

only wants the best for us. There’s nothing

keeping us stuck—apart from a willingness

to become all we can be in the hands of Love

©joylenton2017

I’m sharing these free-flowing, imperfect poetic #FMF thoughts with fellow wordsmith friends at Kate Motaung’s place, where this week’s prompt is ‘control’. You can read the amazingly diverse posts being shared and come join us here.

control-poem-fmf-pj

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