confident: gaining the courage to write by faith

confident - gaining the courage to write by faith @poetryjoy.comCan I tell you a secret, friend? Listen close and I’ll whisper it to you: I’m not a confident person. Not. At. All. Just ask my family. Although I wrote reams of poetry in my late teens and 20s, shared them in church magazines and had a few published, any belief in myself vanished soon after.

Because I splintered inside after a major mental health breakdown. It took years of cooperating with God and counsellors to slowly piece myself back together again. But some things went missing. Including my ability to write like I used to.

My creativity became diverted into mothering and making a home. The writer inside lost her voice. She died for years. And it wasn’t until one of my sons began to write poetry himself and started a blog that my poetic fire was reawakened, if not the courage to begin again.

Thankfully, God (and family) gave me the impetus, courage and confidence to make a start. Now I can write about personal stuff in a public sphere and don’t get too anxious before I press publish. Because I’ve learnt to trust. To believe words will come as and when they need to. To rest my shaky confidence in God alone, while seeking to exercise the gift He has given me to share.

And I want to encourage you too. Especially if you’re at the hesitant stage of wondering if you dare release your words. If timid old me can do that quite happily, manage two blogs, write a book and be working on my next, then so can you. Or something similar, of course.

As we ask for God’s help, and trust it to come, we’re enabled to take the first step forward and so on. Your calling might look very different from mine, and that’s okay. Our part is to stay faithful to the unique-to-us gifting we have been given.

Courage to write

Thank you for the gift and grace
of newly formed words
taking shape in my head,
for the wisdom you give to decide
which to retain or reject,
what to discard or include
in a future work.

Thank you for these fledgling things,
these tiny chicks
with tender covering and barely
formed wings, these baby steps
towards a mature offering
and the joy they already bring.

Thank you for providing insight
and inspiration to my mind
and the courage to write,
the confidence that comes
from knowing you are on my side,
giving grace and giving light.

Thank you for the community
of fellow wordsmiths, who dip
their toes into the water with mine,
and for the love and concern we share,
the hopes, dreams and prayers.

Thank you for reminding me
of my place
in this vast ocean of creativity,
the smallness of it,
but how each tiny offering is
magnified and reaches all
who need to see and receive.

Thank you, too, for the dry seasons
when I lack energy, strength
or inspiration to create,
because then I sense you holding
me closer than before, while I rest,
become refreshed and restored.
© joylenton

confident - courage to write poem excerpt (C)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

PS: Another little secret: I wrote this poem a while back. It took more than five minutes but I’m sharing it in response to this week’s five-minute-friday prompt of “confident”. You’re welcome to join in here and read the great variety of posts being shared.  🙂

influence: our words and deeds become a living legacy

influence - our words and deeds become a living legacy - butterfly freed @poetryjoy.com

Sometimes it takes a death for us to appreciate the way someone’s life has affected, shaped and  influenced us. While we mourn their passing, we reflect on the bright spark of their soul, their mark on our lives, and all that their cherished, unique set of quirks and characteristics meant to us.

Hearing that Pulitzer prize-winning poet, Mary Oliver, had passed away was a sad moment for me. Her magnificent poetic word wrangling awes me and has inspired my own poetic endeavours. I will be reading her words again with fresh enjoyment and deep reverence.

It is with Mary Oliver in mind that I wrote the five-minute-friday poem below. It is written in her memory but also to honour all writers and poets, who dare to pen their thoughts and bravely share them with others.

Do not lose heart, dear creative/artist/poet/writer friend. May you know your work is not in vain. Traces of you linger on as influence and legacy. Your words, marks and thoughts have a shape and life of their own.

Your audience, readers and reach might be small, but your heart offering will make its home in those it is intended for. God knows just who that is, and how the words you write and the art you create are a powerful weapon for spreading His love, goodness and grace, His hope and encouragement to others.

Influence

A poet wields a pen, not a sword
or a hammer, but her blood pours
out in sweat and tears, wrung
from a deep-seated well within,
from the ache of yearning years.

She might be sharing a personal
insight, a pain expressed, a glimmer
from her arsenal of words,
or a view of the created world,
to open our eyes to its need
to be appreciated, preserved.

Her gift lies in a giving from the heart,
whereby the everyday will begin
to look quite extraordinary
when viewed from her perspective
and via her perceptive lens.

She writes because she must,
because she’s been entrusted
with an unfolding of treasure,
a lifting of the curtain
to reveal the sacred uncertain.

And despite her quiet labour being
publicly shared, she remains
an observer, knowing the work
itself is what fires her heart,
fills her soul and saves her.

The thought of having an influence
on others barely crosses her mind,
because her focus is on the shape,
the sound, the sight of words
moving from head to paper.

Yet the very act of vulnerability itself,
the laying bare seems to open up
her soul, her life as offering,
as gift, as influence and legacy,
and it leaves a deep impression
surviving beyond the ink.
(C) joylenton

influence - writer - poem excerpt (c)joylenton @poetryjoy.com

I’m linking my longer than five minutes poem (because sometimes clock-watching doesn’t suit the flow) with the fabulous writing community at our host Kate Motaung’s place. You can join in here with this week’s prompt of ‘influence’ and read the great 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 💜

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. 😊💜

words: how faith, listening and receptivity help birth a fresh creative flow

words, faith , listening and creativity

Words are intransigent at times. They reveal a resistance to being marshalled onto the page with military precision. Instead they resemble watchful dancers, waiting in the wings, ready to leap upon the stage when they sense the timing is right for them,  and hopefully alighting with style, beauty and grace. Maybe you can relate?

That’s how it can seem when the creative well runs dry and the easy flow we’ve been accustomed to becomes a mere trickle. Try as we might, words refuse to cooperate, leaving us hungry for their return. Resting ourselves and our words seems wise. Then we grow into their future potential, as well as ours.

As a poet I am used to the way words speak to me, hum with a greater resonance, sing out their potential, ask to be paid attention to, seek to be picked, sifted and joined together while they dictate the metre, method, rhyme, rhythm and flow.

Listening and receptivity are key. I am hugely dependent on receiving inspiration from Holy Spirit. My inner ears need to be attuned to His leading and guiding, those soft soul whispers He brings.

I want my words to be few where an excess might be harmful. I want my words to be seasoned with salt, leavened with grace and full of God’s mercy and love. I want them to matter but not be so measured as to lose their vitality.

As a work in progress I fall far short of these lofty goals, of course. The good news is that God doesn’t give up on us. He is able to help us tame our tongues and frame our speech, written or verbal, in the light of His word.

“Jesus, today I give you my words. Would you remind me to be slow to speak, quick to listen? I want my speech to make you smile, build others up, and open doors to your love.” ~ ‘Jesus Every Day: A Journey Through the Bible in One Year’ by Mary DeMuth

Rusty as I am, I’m stepping back into these pages with courage and faith only God can supply. And with hope burning strong that the journey I am on will scatter a few seeds of hope in your soul as well.

Beginning again

my fingers are poised
I’m getting ready to write
as an act of faith
because the well has run dry
it requires priming again

my heart is racing
with hot adrenaline shots
it’s so hard to start
there is too much at stake
after such a long delay

my brain is stalling
tricky to get it going
levers are rusty
they don’t grind so easily
cogs are clogging up – they freeze

how to begin
how to brave the virgin page
how to continue
those are the problems I face
they’re stopping me in my tracks

I must simply start
there is no turning back
listen to my heart
wait for inspiration from God
it requires courage and trust
© joylenton

 

words, beginning again, tanka poem excerpt @poetryjoy.com

splash: your creativity is waiting to be released #thedailyhaiku 13

 

Inspiration strikes us in numerous ways. For me, it’s more of a gentle, mellow listening to my life and the things I read than having striking eureka moments. Suddenly, a situation, word, line or sentence will create a response, often drip by drip or with a welcome splash.

Creativity is latent in us all, waiting to be ignited, fired up and ready to go. Though the triggers may vary, the process usually excites, stirs something recognisable in us, makes us feel alive and energised.

That brief spark, immersion or gentle splash are all welcome. All play their part in encouraging us to create, unleash the God-given abilities deep within. On the inside, I’ve always been a scribbler, storyteller and poet. But there were many years when you wouldn’t have known it. My abilities lay dormant.

I doused the flame of creative enjoyment and enthusiasm with my own insecurities. Life’s trials and tribulations (later providing great creative fodder) were like a huge boulder pressing down on me, squashing any faith I had in being able to create.

What changed? I did. On the inside. Or rather, God changed me and transformed my thinking, gave me courage, confidence and strength to share my words publicly. Yes, the negativity still shrieks at me on my worst days. I feel inadequate for the task. But even a small splash of grace can set me back on my feet again. And He will do it for you too, my friend! 🙂

splash of words

there’s a splash of words

ready to be harvested

in my consciousness

©joylenton

poetry for all seasons: introducing magnetic monday

magnetic-monday-poetry-joy

In this wintry season my soul leans more toward penning poetry than prose. Strangely, I tend to think more poetically when plagued by fatigue. Though I firmly believe that writing, poetic or otherwise, is fired and inspired by and transcends all seasons.

Sometimes it pays to keep things brief, because being concise can still speak volumes as it concentrates the thoughts. And trying something new can energise a weary woman (or a flagging poet), reigniting the writer’s fire within as we take a fresh stance or have a different spin on things.

I’ve been inspired to try my hand at magnetic poetry. It’s relaxing and fun to do, even if trying to compile it into an image can be a bit tricky! You don’t have to strive for a rhyme or worry about flow, just choose words you love the sound or shape of, as I have done here.

My lovely creative friend, Kat Myrman, is a past master (mistress?) of the art. Her sweet ‘Winter Song’ post here led me to the creation of the poems below. Here’s my first attempt using the Nature set of Magnetic Poetry…

Forest Frost

Cold river breeze

bright flowers blanketed

by thick frost

dark moist green

& wet forest moss

breathes soft beneath

sacred night path

magnetic-poetry-poem-forest-frost

 

And here’s the next one…

Summer Dusk

earth is dusk as I

watch light summer cloud

dark wild rose flower

bee breathing out between

her bright fertile color (colour)

shades of verdant

lichen tendrils rustle

like leaves in

a breezy lake

magnetic-poetry-summer-dusk-final

 

You can find the Magnetic Poetry Nature set online here. Other sets are also available to try out.  Do check out Kat’s beautiful blog. She is seriously talented in many creative ways.

This is the start of what I will call Magnetic Monday. If all goes well, a poem or more will find its way into your inbox on a regular, if not weekly basis. Hopefully, these short poetic missives will help to dispel the blues and bring some light relief, especially if you have a go yourself. Happy writing!

“The beauty of this world is Christ’s tender smile coming to us through matter” ~ Simone Weil

poetry-seasons-beauty-of-this-world-quote-simone-weil-pj