Monday, 23 December 2013

When a gift doesn't look like one



In this busy season for writing lists and buying gifts, we try to decide what to give others and may wonder what we'll receive in return. Although not every gift is a welcome one.

God handed me a gift I have failed to receive graciously, denied I'd been given, tried to ignore, declined to unwrap or accept.

He gave me the gift of fragility and weakness.

People aren't exactly queueing up to ask or pray for it.

I mean, how is that even a gift? Isn't it more like a punishment?

On the outside, observing the life of a person with M.E and chronic illness which incapacitates physically and mentally, impacts every activity and causes profound fatigue, pain and weakness ~ well, who in the world would want to receive it?

Isn't this one to hand back to God with a, “No thanks, you must be mistaken”? Which is just how we feel about so many painful and challenging circumstances.

Only...I am beginning to appreciate that He allows these things into our lives for a reason. And I'm starting to... Read more here at my encouraging writer and social media friend, James Prescott's site where I am delighted to be guest posting today..




Saturday, 21 December 2013

Let truth be told



Sometimes we have to face up to home-truths about ourselves that make us squirm and try to wriggle away with shame and embarrassment.

I'm having one of those times.

As I've gone through Advent my deepest desire has been to connect with God at heart level, sense the pulse of His love beating through me, waken to His presence and awaken that desire in others.

The reality? A bit grim actually.

Well.. to be fair, there have been moments when He spoke clearly and insightfully, gave me poetic words to share that have been a blessing to others, and...there have also been long stretches of days without end when I trip over myself continually, hot with shame and disappointment, barely able to lift my head at all.

And as for hearing His voice, resting and listening, feeling peaceful, joyful ~ no, none of those to any great measure at all, sad to say.

Or maybe I have but I failed to see or appreciate it. Because, don't we just pull away whenever we fail our image of ourselves, never mind how we think God perceives us?

I've blushed hot and shivered cold with the way I've reacted to life recently.

Self control? Maturity? Not in this fallen woman's heart. Against all intention and desire I cannot seem to stop speaking negatively about myself most of all ~ denying the truth of His word and what it says about who I am in Christ.

I rail out at my beloved, with my perfectionist tendencies insisting on the rightness of my stance or version of events blinding me to the pain he feels at being discounted, and the hurt on his dear face.

Yes, sorry to say, blaming things (and other people) has come all too easy.

I'm hormonal. I'm in need of a break. I'm overtired/unwell/stressed/pressured etc. etc..

All these reasons (excuses) from my inner voice fall into a meaningless void whenever I've allowed God to get a word in edgeways.

Missing those times of still attentivenes before Him (due to my inner restlessness) hasn't helped much.

Now I am seeing that lies (even supposedly kind white ones), wrong attitudes and behaviour don't stand a chance in the Light of Truth ~ pure, holy, fiery, searing, soul-cleansing truth.

And as I've sought answers in the secret place, I sense words of Truth hitting home with hammer and nail finality yet with an overriding gentleness and grace.



Truth is a Person. It is Christ Himself. The One who desires truth in our inner being, the bringer and revealer of all wisdom, insight and knowledge.

He longs for us to see the truth of His life and follow after Him.

Lately, I've been too wrapped up in bad behaviour ~ swiftly followed by self-condemnation ~ to even want to speak these things out loud.

Yet here I am making a public declaration of it all and risking the ruining of whatever good reputation I may have gained in the eyes of others.

Truth hurts ~ but knowing it sets us free. We remain enslaved without it. 

Beyond anything else, I long and I need to be free. 

Captive to the manipulations and abuse from others in my childhood, slave to my own emotions, perceived as damaged goods, left with broken dreams and a broken heart ~ all these things need healing and restoring.

Without God's truth I am adrift on a sea of emotions, rudderless in every storm, powerless in the midst of problems, fearful instead of faithful, weak and weary instead of strong and capable.

For our capabilities rest in His ability alone. His keeping, holding, sustaining mercy, love and grace.

Real freedom means release from all that chains our souls to their earthly nature. It involves exchanging our self-driven lives for ones surrendered to God.



Where does this leave us?

When life throws us to our knees ~ it's the best place to look up and find Him there.

When we sin we need a Saviour ~ more than ever.

When we become discouraged and disappointed ~ we can become reappointed in Him. 

When we get tired of the everyday toil ~ we have hope for this life and life eternal.

When we want Christmas to be perfect ~ we can only find that in Christ as He is at the centre of it all.

So I turn once again to the One who brings beauty from ashes, collects my tears in a bottle, sees and understands all, who offers mercy and forgiveness rich and free ~ given at great cost and price to Him.

Because I NEED a Saviour. I need His love to wrap me round, His Light to reveal the way I should walk, His word to instruct and guide, His endless patience and kindness, His restoration and healing.

And I shrug my shoulders at the thought of doing Christmas (or anything else for that matter) perfectly ~ especially as I am so dependent on Him and on others for help.

I admit and confess my weaknesses, faults and failings, regret my bad behaviour, dry my tears, breathe deep, rest myself once more in His presence, feel His hand upon me offering Himself again, sense Holy Spirit's anointing, and ~ move on changed ~ in heart if not in actions yet.

And, dear reader, that's the honest truth.

The best gift we've ever been given is to be offered a relationship with Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

I want to appreciate it to the full and pass on to you my joy in knowing Him, the way He meets me at my point of deepest need, how He delivers and sets me free.

If you feel like you've done nothing else of worth this year, please do yourself a favour and seek The Truth Himself.

He is waiting. Christ is here. He has come.

The Truth has been told.


*******

Another confession:Most blog posts take a bit of time, refinement, fine-tuning and editing. But this? This one just poured out of me. And I've left it 'as is' in the hope that another soul will read and see I don't have it all together; I'm a 'work in progress' by God's grace and as messed up as the next person; and maybe, just maybe, they'll breathe a sigh of relief and feel less alone. 

That's my hope and prayer.

For we all need a Saviour. 'Aint that the truth?

Linking here with Nacole for #concretewords This week's prompt is ~ Truth. You are very welcome and warmly invited to join in.
And with Jennifer for #TellHisStory

Monday, 9 December 2013

A new life begins

During this Advent season our thoughts stray toward the mystery, awe and wonder of the Incarnation.

And we remember how Jesus took on our earthly human frame.

In considering what a marvel and miracle it is for God Himself to enter human history, we cannot forget the Son of Man hidden within the babe in a manger.

I'm sharing thoughts on this topic over at my writer friend Rebekah's site today where I have the honour and privilege of guest posting as part of her great series on 'The Spirit of Christmas'.

Here's a snippet:



Nothing else quite stirs our deep protective and nurturing instincts more than a newborn baby.

Such sweet vulnerability resides within.

A simple grasp of tiny fist clinging to adult finger a reminder of how fragile this new life is.

And those feet. Adorable, perfect miniatures of our own. Yet in the months ahead limbs unfurl and grow strong to support a toddler's frame.

As we bend to kiss a brow, wipe tears, give nourishment, witness growth and change before our eyes, do we ever think of Mary, mother of our Lord, as she lovingly tended to her son?

See Him as infant helpless.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given..."

Hands that flung stars into space reduced to starfish baby span ~ made calloused by carpentry, torn by sharp nails, pinioned to a cross of sorrow and shame.

A mouth that spoke creation into existence now made milky-soft, dependent ~ to become a voice of wisdom, instruction and healing for others.

Feet used to circling the world with silent steps ~ now made...  ~  You can read the rest here ~ 


*******










Thursday, 5 December 2013

An invitation not to be missed

One of the loveliest things anyone can do for us is to invite and welcome us into their life.

To share at a deep level is trust revealed and given.

And our response to it could make or break that friendship.

Because there is a reciprocal response required.

How about when it's God issuing the invitation?

Will we draw near to the Source of Life Himself?

Maybe we will go to Him willingly if we appreciate the worth of this invitation. Or maybe we hesitate ~ wary, uncertain, or unwilling to follow.

Since the beginning of this year God has been trying to get my attention. The 'word' He laid on my heart should have given me a clue as to His intentions.

Yet my soul has pulled away and strayed more often than not from the simple call of "Come".

This week three words have repeated themselves:"Come to Me" and I know it's time I listened and heeded them.


'Come to Me'

Come to Me when you are weary
worn out and sad
Come to Me when you are happy,
rejoicing and glad

Come to Me in sorrow
when clouds obscure your day
Come to Me in anger
when nothing goes your way

Come to Me when you are empty
needing to be filled
Come to Me anxious, wary,
needing to be stilled

Come to Me impatient, restless,
desperate for a change
Come to Me when life's a mess
for Me to rearrange

Come to Me continually, always,
just as you are
Come to Me willingly each day
though I seem near or far

Come to Me hungry, waiting
to be fed
Come to Me dry, thirsty,
for My Living Bread

Come to Me ~ don't hesitate
or stay in despair
Come to Me now
I will always Be Here
©JoyLenton2013

"Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" ~ Matthew 11:28
"Come, all who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without cost...Give ear and come to me; hear me that your soul may live" ~ Isaiah 55:1 -3
I've really needed this reminder recently.

As days get busier and more stressful I can't afford not to go to God on a regular basis.

He alone is the centre and oasis of calm in the midst of chaos.

Peace in our pain and problems.

Rest and refreshment in times of rush and hurry.

Continual love and compassion for when we need a tender touch.

Our patience and endurance when every last scrap deserts us.

Hope in the hard places.

Grace as we grapple to see our way forward.

Light eternal to make the way ahead clearer.


*******

Maybe God is saying something similar to you too?

Perhaps, like me, you sense Holy Spirit speaking to your heart.

Maybe this Advent season is a good time to come to Him and let Christ live in your heart.




********

Joining here with Jennifer for #TellHisStory and with Nacole for #concretewords

**Note** ~ This poem is a rare one now on 'Words of Joy' as most of my poetry is being profiled on my new site poetryjoy.com ~ I'd love you to hop over and take a look.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Seeking His Presence


As we approach the Thanksgiving and Advent season, thoughts turn toward Christ's coming to earth. 

Here, in infant lowly lies our Lord and Saviour.

Here, we touch holy ground.

Yet it can all pass us by in the rush and hurry of preparation for Christmas.

Just lately, a distant and distracted air has swirled around me. My mind focused on those things I enjoy to the detriment of those I need to pay attention to.

My beloved is getting exasperated with my M.E brain fog showing up most whenever he asks something specific from me. I hear, respond with scant attention, and drift off again.

Want me to write? No problem {usually}. Want me to listen attentively to instruction/information/give an intelligent reply and opinion? No chance.

And I don't think I'm alone with this malaise. It's also creeping into my relationship with God.

I aim to spend quality time with Him and I find myself clock-watching, chasing thoughts, wondering when I can get a coffee, falling asleep...Zzzz...

Yes, I am always tired, always fuzzy-headed, likely to drift off. Coffee, rest and pacing help a little but fatigue sits ever-present with M.E.

In seeking to write regularly ~ because I love to ~ and wanting so much to engage with the world through social media, I am in grave danger of missing the most important part of life and the point of Christmas too. 

I am not learning to truly listen to my life. Heed what God is trying to say to me through it. In simply going with the flow I've been missing the fullness. 

In the humdrum and ordinary we have potential to experience the pulsating thrum of extraordinary.

To bend ear, mind and heart. To be aware, alert and sensitive to Holy Spirit's whispers on the wind.

He longs to meet with us in the here and now and we pull away to catch the urgent instead of the important.

And I still puzzle over which is which.

Now I sit aware of the struggle and tussle for my time and attention, and I am beginning to sense a need to draw back a little from the everyday.

Christmas itself needs preparation and organising, and ~ most important of all ~ I need to be immersed in God's Presence.



Maybe you do too?

For it is the best place to ready ourselves to hear from Him. Prepare heart and mind. Learn to be attentive. Absorb His words and reflect on them.

Pause and pray.

Listen to God's heartbeat and tune into His voice.

Be immersed in the One who has immersed His life with ours as Holy and heavenly meeting soiled and earthly.

Can you hear Him speaking?

I sense Him whispering close:

"I AM is here ~ 

I am the One who loves you completely and unconditionally.

I am your Comforter in troubles, your Anchor in any storm, your peace in the midst of problems, your Joy beyond measure.

I am your Saviour, Lord and King.

I am for you when all else is against you.

I AM Emmanuel ~ God with you, always"

As we light a candle, remembering Christ as the Light of the World, the wonder of it all hits us anew.

He is here.

And that makes all the difference in the world.


********
#graceglimmers

~ Thoughts float as butterflies in my mind and God pins them down in poetry and prose
~ Catching dawn rising and capturing anew the wonder of a day's beginning
~ Delight over the safe arrival of our first grandchild, God's gift of a beautiful boy
~ Being weighed heavy with pain and chronic illness but God giving ability to carry it lightly
~ Family, friends, loved ones, home, hearth, and celebrations to come

********

To aid me in the approach to Advent I am reading from 'Christ the Light of the World' ~ A devotional by Thomas Kinkade {which I was blessed to win in a blog giveaway}, and 'Advent Reflections' by Anita Hunt

Ann Voskamp's latest book, 'The Greatest Gift' looks set to encourage and inspire us just the same way as 'One Thousand Gifts' has. It's particularly suitable for the Advent season and beyond. It is a great way for families to share in preparing their hearts for the Christ-child. 


********

Linking here with Tracy for Winsome Wednesday












And with Sabrina for the return of #letterto 





This week's prompt is:'Letter to fill you in' where we share what is going on in our world, heart and head right now






Thursday, 21 November 2013

The grass isn't always greener
















As Autumn segues into Winter all becomes bare, barren and bleak.

Grass scrubby and yellow-patched, lifeless, worn and torn.

Loosened leaves now drift disconsolately on the ground.

Signs of death outweigh signs of life and vitality.

There is little inclination to look enviously upon our neighbour's gardens as we may have done a few months ago. 

The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side.

Yet how often we look askance at our own patchy lives and look with longing, if not concealed envy, upon the lives of others.

If only... haunts our nights and days.

Restlessness ensues and deep dissatisfaction invades. Surely life was meant to consist of more than This?

My life has mirrored those leaves of late ~ feeling like a dry, barren, lifeless husk with some faint semblance of colour, life and vitality within, yet fragile as a crunched and withered leaf.

Though I take heart at those times when creativity sparks more as wobbly wick than steady flame, that a bruised reed he will not break and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.

It is all too easy to feel dried out inside when we are ill, weak and weary. Pain leaches life and vitality.

Then our art, gifting and writing can seem as arid as leaves on cold ground. Dead. Lifeless. Surplus to requirements.



As Christian writers who believe we have a calling, anointing and equipping to produce a fitting piece of work for the glory of God, how do we (or should we even attempt) to judge what we do?

Is there any value in checking out other voices in one's area of interest, ability and expertise? Perhaps excellence observed may stir a call to excellence within us?

It can often work that way; only sometimes envy, jealousy or discouragement rises instead.

A step back is required. Re-evaluation.

After all, this isn't about you, or Them, or me either.

It's not about talent, success, lucky breaks or the lack thereof.

No. This is about God. Period. His will, His ways, His purposes, His plans are all individual and unique like we are too.

God's anointing and gifting are custom-made to fit our personalities, interests and abilities.

There is no shortage. As writers/bloggers/poets we have a large lake of literature into which we may only dip timid toes as we observe the brave and bold ones cresting the waves or swimming confidently before us.

Yet who's to say what impression our own efforts will leave upon the sands of time?



"We ourselves feel that what we're doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop" ~ Mother Teresa

You and I may feel we're just paddling listlessly in shallow waters, but we still make a ripple if not a huge splash.

Believe me, my friend, your output is not lost in God's eyes. He sees and applauds the effort in all areas, the faithfulness, prayers, sacrifice of time and energy.

You are not invisible to Him in your seemingly small corner and any work surrendered to Him is multiplied at His hands, for one person plus God is a majority.

And God will use every crumb you produce. He'll ensure you get noticed, your words and thoughts will reach their intended audience ~ be it a handful or thousands.

And He'll bless it all abundantly from here into eternity.

Your part ~ and mine ~ is to brave the chilly waters and dive in, knowing His arms are ready to catch, support and hold us safe.

That other artist/writer/blogger/poet/colleague you admire and aspire to be won't look, work, sound or express themselves like you. They won't have the same history, background or experiences of life or faith.



You may as well compare chalk and cheese, apples and pears, soft and hard.

It's the differences we enjoy. It's the differences that make them fit for their purpose.

So you can 'go compare' other things if you wish, (including markets and meercats) but please don't do that with your writing, gifting, talents. That way lies sadness and madness.

Comparison is the thief of joy and who wants to lose any joy? I know I don't.  

It is really hard for me to let my own words sink in and truly believe and receive them. My background made negativity and insecurity a way of life for many years.

Now, I am determined to seize whatever blessing God has got for me. And that means not allowing myself to become derailed by discouragement or cut short by comparisons.

I want to breathe easy, inhale and exhale grace, live free from insecurity, anger, jealousy, bitterness and resentment. 

But I cannot do any of that without seeing the danger zones and making sure I live as close as possible to God's will for my life, seeking a daily supply of His grace, refreshment and strength to keep me 'lively' for His purposes.

Will you join me? Only you can do the best job of being you by God's grace.

We can encourage one another on this journey.

You are already special, loved, chosen by God to do great works He prepared for you to do.

You count ~ far more than you'll ever know.

You matter ~ to God and to others.

You are beyond compare.

**Confession** ~ This has taken me a few weeks to write due to several health challenges. And as I was preparing the draft for it I read several beautiful blog posts on a very similar theme. Oh dear! Immediately, negative thoughts invaded peace of mind. What could I write after reading THIS?

God answered with these words which I hope and pray will bless you too:

 "it doesn't matter what someone else has written, however good it is. The important thing to remember is this ~ your way of expressing yourself, writing style and reachable audience is unique to you. And there is more than enough room for multiple voices. Each one will say or do things differently but in the way i intend them to. Your task is to remain faithful to that calling".

Linking here with Jennifer and Emily

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Surrendering

She slid softly into an empty seat, barely raising her head or risking a glance around her.

Trying to look invisible while wanting to be noticed.

Eyes gradually roamed surroundings clinical yet suggestive of homely warmth. 

Here a comfortable chair, there a magazine, walls decorated with gentle art work to please the senses, floor carpeted.

Yet the scurrying, uniformed figures, cold steel trolleys, slabs of notes, trays holding equipment for testing ~ all betrayed the fact that this was actually a hospital waiting area.

We were captive to clock and schedules, time and tide of their convenience, malleable only to moulds of their design, clients of their care, patients feeling anything but patient.

Brief nods and smiles were exchanged before confession followed. First time? Me too. Waited how long? Oh dear!

What to do. Would there be time to drink a sip or two of water, open the Kindle and lose oneself in a book, check our phones (ignoring the 'switch off please' signs), rummage in bags, sigh, dream, chat, or....simply yield to the moment.

So we sat as statues. Brief shuffling, turning of heads to scan notices, gaze at our feet, read notices for the umpteenth time, whispered conversation, eyes glued to every individual who might be here to summon us into the depths.

How does one yield gracefully when senses are heightened to alert and alarm? How do we savour the moment when anxiety is high, pain presses in hard and minds are switched to numbness? 

I found myself focusing on a painting. Golden yellow rays spilling as fountain reminding me of the sunshine of God's love and how His grace spills and fills every corner of our lives.


My desire is to bask in its warmth. Seek energy and strength for what might lay ahead.

As I visualised those rays washing over me, peace came. I could hold conversation. Act normal. And maybe that's all God asks of us. To let Him in to everything and realise He's already there.

Abiding. Clinging to The Vine. Accepting where we are on the way to where we're going. 

Release and find rest. Sink trustful. Know we are safe. Kept. Held. Anchored.

I wondered how pliable I was. This woman who wakes stiff, limbs resistant to movement.

Would my soul yield soft as clay to The Master Potter's touch on my life ~ be it unpalatable or not? 


How willing am I to receive, accept and surrender to the thought that all things are allowed by Him ~ even This?

In the bowing down we look up to God's higher authority, His all knowing, all seeing, all encompassing ways. 

And it is a willing, meaningful yielding. Acknowledgement of His sovereignty.

My eyes shift again to view images of coffee cups and beach huts. Here too we see goodness and grace. Lift our cup of sorrow and joy and swallow down. Know it is as endless as the sea. This balance of beauty in ashes. Shelter from storms.

Voices sounding nearby call me out of my reverie. My name. My turn. My assessment and tests begin. 

Groping for my stuff, struggling to prepare and follow, I smile and wish my fellow newbie well. 

Here I surrender dignity and privacy. Ready myself to be investigated and questioned.

A faint shadow of the Son of Man before the cross stirs in my mind. I see Jesus stripped of all dignity. Giving out. A handing over. Great surrender. Yielding to the Father's will.

Such love. Such grace. Such mercy.

His pain had a glorious purpose. Maybe yours and mine has too, though we can fail to see it. 

A life given up so freely by the Lord of Life, yet I so often cling to my life, time, needs, plans, schedules ~ wary of change and interruption. 

Boxed in by my boundaries when a life of freedom beckons if...I hang loose to the things of this world, this life, and hold fast to the eternal and unchanging promises of God.

A chair wheels me onwards down long corridors. Weary beyond words, I have X-rays, blood tests and help to dress. Yield to those stronger than I. Muse at how I was once the one offering assistance. A nurse clocking up miles a day as I strode purposefully down corridors, tending, supporting, lifting body and spirit by my ministrations.


Now, I sit passive as my husband and others join forces to prepare me for what needs doing. Made to lie low. With hope of being renewed, restored, reshaped as clay into a vessel fit for purpose again, even as God uses me for different things now...praying, writing, listening, being there. 

We make it home and I need sustenance. Bacon sandwich and a cup of tea feel like a taste of heaven. And I rest. Allow peace and grace to fill me anew. Sit quiet for a while away from bright lights and activity. 

Maybe the pain will never end in this lifetime. Maybe incapacity will increase. I don't know. The One who gives grace upon grace to cope knows that.

What I do know is His great capacity in all my incapacities.

How I wish I had another tale to tell and story to share sometimes than the one I am living.

Yet through it all I can bear witness to the tremendous sustaining power of God. Whatever I have given over to Him has been more then repaid, multiplied grace on grace at His hands.

And as I try to follow this path of daily (if not hourly) surrender, my hope is for His Story to be revealed through my own.

I want to yield to Holy Spirit's work in me. I want to see purpose in pain, liberty in a limited life. Being hard, brittle, bitter and resentful is a path I refuse to take.

It all comes down to whom or what we yield to, issues of acceptance, dependence, love and trust.

I want to be able to let go (if need be) of those things I value higher than I should ~ my will, my ways, reputation, comfort, capacity and dreams.

Because in the releasing of all I have considered better, I know my cup will be filled to overflowing with God's best as my will becomes conformed more closely with His.

Let me be soft, workable clay to be fashioned as He chooses. Let me be pliable and flexible. Let me be willing to yield ~ always. Amen. 

Linking here with the lovely Nacole for #concretewords where we write out spirit with a concrete word prompt. This week's prompt is:'Yield'

And with Jennifer at #TellHisStory where we encourage one another by sharing the story God is writing through our lives.

Also linking to Word Filled Wednesday  where women connect to support and build one another up in Christ.

You are very welcome and warmly invited to join in.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

To see life and to see it whole


There is such beauty in the everyday.

If we only have eyes to see it.

And the longer I am incarcerated in the house, the more I yearn for sights beyond my four walls.

Even though I detest spiders, shrieking and screaming at their appearance, their webs fascinate me.

Gossamer threads strung pure as pearls with strength belying their fragile appearance. 

Fine silken cords with hooks to ensnare the unsuspecting, creating a web of deception, a hiding-place for the unwary, a chasm to flex and fix its victim securely.

Intricately laced design that delights the eyes even as they scan for the dark horror lurking within. Yes, I can wax lyrical even over a spider's web!

And whenever I have an opportunity, I take a picture and create a memory album of life. Going outside my door is a big event these days. I breathe deep, gulping in air like it's going out of fashion, set my gaze on sky or earth and view it all with new eyes.

As an inept amateur, my shaky-handed shots are far from Pinterest perfect.



But they stir a deep well of appreciation inside. 

Looking back I see seasons shift. Remember brief spasms of sun on my face. Lush green land and bright blue sky. Breeze and clouds moving.

Colour and life in plant and tree. Ducks waddling and canoeists cresting the waves.

Life going on in its own sweet way.

A natural, undisturbed rhythm. Inviting a pause to appreciate the scenes before us.

A constantly changing panorama that shouts out loud, proclaiming glory and a hymn of perpetual praise to our Creator God.



I've spent so long this year in cloistered dark, walled up in my own home like a prisoner of circumstances. Kept bound by chronic illness, pain, and permanent, profound fatigue. 

Sheltered by hypersensitivity aversion to more than minimal light and noise.

Winter beckons and threatens to entomb me further.

I live more from my inner world more than the outer. And it needs a balance. 

We are made to be part of life's rich tapestry and be set apart for God's purposes.

To marry the mundane with the miraculous, linger at ordinary and find the extraordinary, give out to others and see grace abounding, scent the seasons shifting and savour the fragrance of Christ in this world.

We were born to live with one foot in the world and the other in God's kingdom.



One eye on the temporal and temporary and another on the eternal and permanent.

The natural and supernatural worlds interweave as strands in a web; they co-join and coalesce in a cosmic dance.

We are never more fully human and fully alive than when our spiritual senses are attuned and vibrant and our physical senses are alert to the pulse of life around us.

Our lives can feel as web:fragile, holey, gossamer-fine, prone to snagging and snapping, intricately woven yet with power to entangle, strangling potential and promise.

It can be hard to see them whole. We are tripartite beings - soul, spirit and body - all parts that have life of their own and co-exist together, though seldom in perfect harmony.

In trying our best to connect them, seeking to be wholly aware, alert and active in one area as in another, we may be in a place where we see darkly now but clarity and light will eventually come.



I may not have had my feet washed recently or been the recipient of freely given help and kindness from a random stranger showing Christ's servant-hearted love, but I have had my eyes, soul and spirit washed by grace of a different kind.

There is a hunger deep inside for more. 

More of life. More of love. More of grace. More of God.

And even though my life is somewhat limited by having M.E, I want to see through spiritual, emotional and physical eyes, to sense, absorb, capture and record the world around me ~ then paint pictures with my words.

To see life and to see it whole. Then to pass on that gift to others. Wash them with awareness, open eyes and open hearts to be tuned in to God's love surrounding them.


********

Regular readers may wonder at the contemplative nature of this post. Though I tend to write that way now and again, it may have sprung from a book I have just read, ('Gift from the Sea' by Anne Morrow Lindbergh), as I firmly believe we are what we read, just as much as we are what we eat. Books impact and influence our lives hugely. 

********

How are you currently being impacted by the wonder of  life and God's grace through the world around you ~ maybe through books or images?

Please feel free to share in the comments below.


Linking here with Jennifer at #TellHisStory 

And with Mel for #EssentialFridays









Monday, 28 October 2013

When a cup feels too heavy to bear

Life has a deep well for us to drink from. We have cups of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, hope and despair, health and sickness.

For more years than I care to remember (around 25 supplies my ever-helpful brain), I have drunk from the cup of sickness and found it a bitter one to swallow at times, especially as pain and infirmity are increasing.

Harder than the one of sorrow and shame? Maybe not, just different in its unrelenting nature. And human sorrows can be eclipsed by moments of joy and gladness. 

Shame often seeks to shroud and cloak me again, but I can shrug it off with greater success than before. I have a mantle of grace over me that is large enough to cover all. 

Jesus laid aside His divinity to take on the fullness of humanity in a body just like ours. He felt pain, weakness and fatigue. He thirsted, grew hungry, knew what it was to drink a cup of betrayal, rejection, pain and shame as He hung on the cross.

In the garden of Gethsemane He sought to have this cup pass by Him, aware of all it would cost to become the embodiment of sin for us.

He took the cup. He held it close and willingly drank every last drop. For you and for me. Jesus surrendered self in order to release us all from self-driven living.

I have not held a Communion cup for months. Nor drunk its contents. Nor fellowshipped with head bowed, bread crumbled, chewed and eaten, sharing life, sharing grace, sharing hope.

Being housebound has meant church is everywhere, and nowhere specific.

I fellowship by TV, by the Internet, by having only the companionship of my beloved beside me.

Joining in with TV church and missing being community with my home church.

And I feel I am needing to be reminded of that cup once more. Like one parched dry, I seek to gulp down every drop of Christian teaching I can get my hands on.

Soak in all the friendship and fellowship I crave.

But I need more. 

I need the life-blood. I need Christ poured out as drink offering brought to my conscious mind. I need to grasp with hand and heart the sweet communion of saints and all we share as His redeemed.

For Christ gave his life for me. He overcame the darkness so that I don't have to live swallowed up by it any more. I can embrace a life free from shame. Sickness and pain don't fit who I am either, but they will only be finally defeated as the kingdom comes in all its fullness when Christ returns.

We live with confusion. With mystery. With unanswered questions. 

With hope in the midst of helplessness. With light and grace to steer us through shadowlands.

For now, the cup of sorrow, shame and pain willingly swallowed by my Lord is one I want to recognise, hold to me, lift with others in unity, drink gratefully.

In the sharing of our stories, our sorrows and shame, in the voicing of our weaknesses, our frailty, our woundedness, there is a lifting up, carrying of weight, bearing of loads that lighten with many hands to hold and support. A body made stronger by each part being grace for the other for those times when a cup feels too heavy to bear.

There is joy in knowing we are not alone; we have help, we share life, we share pain.

"When you dig another out of their troubles, you will find a place to bury your own" ~ Anon

in time to come we will share the joy of all needs met in Christ.

This may have been a particularly trying phase with the M.E and allied chronic sickness that is my lot, the cup I have to endure, swallow down - yet, I would gladly go through it all again if it brings me a deeper heart awareness of my Saviour's sacrifice.

Our greatest trials have a surprising thread of joy running through them. Our needs drive us to greater dependence on God, and there is fullness of joy to be found in His presence as we rest and become refreshed once more.

I will have better days. I will write more fluently and eloquently. I will think more clearly.

"I won't give up, shut up, let up or slow up" ~ Robert Moorehead

I already have the best Companion of all to bring life to my hopes and dreams, endurance and perseverance through aches and pains, sweet communion of friendship beyond measure. For Jesus drank deep of sorrow, sin and shame so that the cup emptied became a cup of salvation, life eternal and resurrection joy for us all.

We come empty to Him for re-fuelling, dry for refreshing, hungry for the manna that feeds and satisfies, drained and weary for His life-giving energy and grace enabling us to go on for one more day.

So, battle-scarred and oh so weary as I am, I choose to hold my cup, lift it to my lips, breathe deep of His Spirit, imbibe great draughts of grace, and drink...willingly... at least for today.

"God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars" ~ Anon

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Have you had circumstances in your life that have been hard to swallow?

What enabled you to endure them?


Please feel free to share in the comments below. I love to read and reply to them.





Linking here with Joan for 'Sharing His Beauty' 


and with Jennifer for #TellHisStory





**NOTE** - I am delighted to announce that the winner of a free copy of 'The Wall Around Your Heart' by Mary de Muth is - Anne Peterson. A copy will be on its way to her as soon as possible. Thank you to everyone who took part.