Friday, 28 June 2013

Living in between this world and the next

Welcome to another foray into Five Minute Friday where we write straight from the heart, as it comes, letting words fall as they will without worrying about perfection.

Then we link up, read the post directly before ours, leave a comment and encourage our fellow writers in the process. Because that's what it's all about.

Today's prompt is:'In between'


In between

In-between life and death 
lies despair and dying 
hopes crushed and crying 

And we have love and laughter
expectation of joy ever after
with family and friends 
when losing loved ones is not the end

Waiting for healing that doesn't always come
seeing grace revealing Jesus as God's Son

we try and we falter to live life aright 
in this topsy-turvy world of pain and sadness
 where you still shine your Light

So we continue believing all will be better
your goodness receiving in word, deed and letter

Our hearts yearn for more than eyes can see
as we cling to today for all we are worth

knowing tomorrow brings forth
new hope, life and birth

With the rising of each morning sun 
help us stay eager for the hope to come 
as to your hand we faithfully cling 

When all feels overwhelming 
keep us resting in the peace 
and calm only you can bring

to comfort our hearts as we linger 
in between this world and the next

Help us do our part 
by living faithful
to all things unseen

proclaiming your Truth with zeal and zest 
ushering in your kingdom to come 
with grateful hearts
as we finally enter your rest

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" ~ 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Linking here with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. You are very welcome and warmly encouraged to participate.

To stay in touch with my posts (poetic and otherwise) you can link up with Google Friend Connect or subscribe by e-mail.

I would also love you to connect with me on Twitter or Facebook.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

When seeking rest doesn't come easy

Our lives are so often in desperate need of R & R - rest and relaxation.

How we ever keep going on so little sleep is a wonder indeed.

Even on days off from work commitments we can fail to rest or relax fully, as the demands of family and home life (enjoyable as they are) can completely take over our time and rob us of vital energy.

Enjoying undisturbed sleep remains an unachievable goal for another day....not too far ahead...please!

For now, muddling through is the name of the game; drugged with fatigue, desperate for slumber, living hyped on adrenaline, failing to switch off and recharge - these are the norm for many.

When you add physical illness into the equation, then nights spent on red alert with pain, soreness and stiffness can become our reality.

Our minds can also derail our good intentions by upsetting the sleep cycle when they are consumed with worry, fear and anxiety.

For some, the solution is found in self-help remedies:soothing herbal teas, avoiding coffee late in the day, having a nightcap, altering the diet, taking up new hobbies and interests, and seeking measures to alleviate stress and strain by natural or pharmacological means.

I've tried the lot with varying degrees of success in over 20 years of insomnia and sleep dysfunction.

But what helps me the most is looking to the One who created my body and understands its needs better than I do.

So I pray.

It relaxes and refreshes as God ministers deep within.

Even when sleep remains elusive, the mind and spirit can be at rest from relaxing in God's care and protection.

It's worth a try.

Why don't you have a go?

Here's a prayer to help you get started:

A Prayer for rest


"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him" ~ Psalm 62:5

Dear Lord,
When sleep elusive
sits heavy
on gritty, burning eyes
with pain intrusive
causing limbs and lips 
to stir and sigh
and weariness conducive
only for bed-resting
provoking endurance 
and patience testing,
then hold me close
as night slips fast
away and skies 
betray the hours
turning into day.

Partner me in quiet
calm me in this storm
where all is dark and torn
with misery and worry
throwing life asunder...
Lord, hold me steady
be my Rock
my stillness
all-encompassing world
in the swirl
and thunder.

"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I shall never be shaken" ~ Psalm 62:1-2

What helps you best to rest and relax?

How do you cope when life feels overwhelming?

Please feel free to share in the comments below.

To stay in touch with my posts, you can subscribe by e-mail, follow on Twitter or like my Facebook page.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Dancing to the rhythm of grace

Welcome to another foray into Five Minute Friday, where words circle in our mind like birds and we try to pin them to paper in 5 minutes flat. No perfectionism. No over-thinking or marinading. Just writing as it comes, straight from the heart.



Rhyme, rhythm
metre and verse
are the tools of a poet
for better or worse.

Life is a dance
an art and craft
lightly flowing
or really hard graft.

Living a life
that's out of synch
where stress and strife
are inextricably linked

I don't want to sway
to this familiar refrain
today's a new day
to release the pain.

Let me move 
to your rhythm of grace
behold love and truth
seen in your face.

Let go of shame
let go of fear
for your Spirit reigns
when I draw near.

Move to the beat
the calm of your heart
where love's made complete
and healing can start.


"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly" ~ Matthew 11:28 - 30

Linking here with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. You're very welcome to join in.

To stay in touch with my posts (poetic and otherwise) you can subscribe by e-mail, follow on Twitter or like my Facebook page.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Unleashing:Letter to a Stranger

Letter to a Stranger

Dear Stranger (though I do remember your first name),
Our paths crossed many years ago, but I haven't forgotten you. We met on a Gynaecology ward as nurse and patient. You were one of many being admitted to the ward that day in lieu of a surgical procedure to come, and your demeanour was wrought with anxiety and nerves.

As we chatted together, it soon became clear that you had deep concerns besides the imminent operation. Before long, issues from your past poured out in a torrent like unstopping a dam. 

My colleagues were already aware that I needed to give you more time than usual, so I sat quietly holding your hand and heart as you gushed forth painful memories.

And I found myself nodding my head in recognition, my own heart pierced through, stabs of pain and shame making themselves known again to the conscious mind.

You wanted to let it out and I felt privileged to be the recipient, the holder of horrors, and a burden-bearer to ease your own. 

These issues cannot stay hidden. They leave a stain, a shadow cast long and wide over lives that buckle under the weight of them once awareness creeps in. 

Your fears and tears mingled together. Time passed...we stayed locked in the past and forever in this moment. Silent recognition. Sisters in sympathy. Joined in time and in experience. Altered by awareness.

I was your designated nurse. We became friends for the duration of your stay. There were moments of shared laughter and understanding, your whole frame visibly relaxing as the days went by.

Soon it was time for you to return home. Yet this departure also marked a beginning. A journey through emotional turmoil and pain that would (hopefully) bring you release, relief, wholeness and healing in time to come.

I still have the beautiful card you sent me. Your letter of appreciation to a stranger become temporary friend.

It expressed gratitude for the way I had cared for you. I was deeply touched. More than you'll ever know.

For in the unleashing of your painful past, you helped unstop mine. This was the second reminder since I'd been nursing. The second encounter that brought me face to face with my own dysfunctional childhood.

Childhood sexual abuse is something we desperately try to forget, hoping to move on and live without the memories. But they come...eventually...and they need addressing before they consume us.

More time would pass, more stuffing it back into the closet, more swallowing down, more denial, more resistance, and many years before I fully faced my own demons and overcame them.

Though it was only after much wrangling, heartache, struggle, and years of counselling that I achieved emotional healing by the grace of God.

My stranger-friend, I want to thank you for the part you played in raising awareness in me that I had to deal with this too. 

I believe it was a God-ordained appointment that day. We were meant to meet and connect briefly at a deep level. It probably left both of us changed and transformed. I know I was.

My sister in suffering, I truly hope and pray that you too have been set free to live your life fully as God intends us to.

"Instead of their shame, my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance, and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs" ~ Isaiah 61:7


I'm honoured to be linking here today with the lovely Ruth Povey, and her new series:'Letter to'. This week's prompt is:'Letter to a stranger'. You are warmly invited to come on over and join us and read the great posts already there. The link is open all week.

To stay in touch with my posts you can subscribe by e-mail, follow on Twitter,  or like my Facebook page.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Lifting the lid on mental health issues

Poetry tends to break forth from my heart before it hits pen and paper, unstoppable as a hymn of praise in a dawn chorus.

Words are shaped in fires of adversity and honed in hues of happiness.

Neutrality is not my norm.

The unlocking of verse usually relies on deep emotion for me.

This poem was birthed in meditating on an event currently being experienced by a family member.

My brother-in-law, Andrew,  has had Schizophrenia since his teens. You can click on the link to find out about this serious mental health illness.

It has had many manifestations, some manageable at home, or in the community, and others requiring specialist care.

Now he is in a bad place mentally where it is hard to reach out to him and harder still to see the person he once was within.

It is a painful thing to witness as a soul seems lost to all but God.

Here is my poetic rendition of his current situation.

I offer it in empathy, sympathy and support for all those who may suffer similarly, plus their families and carers.

And in the hope of promoting greater awareness and understanding of mental health problems in general.


inside a room
made safe
with softness
nothing hard
nothing sharp
to cause harm
inside a mind
made rich
with multiple
spinning through it
into the past
which streams
and seems
in the here
and now
out of society
and sense
reason and
 scrambling round
in vain
away and observed
by those
paid to care
bathe bodies
soothing mind
being kind
and hospitalised
until a key
can be found
to set free
(All rights reserved)

Very few of us will get through life completely untouched or unaffected by mental health issues, either in our own lives or those of our loved ones, family and friends. 

Even fear and anxiety problems can become all-consuming and paralysing.

Mental health disorders can be relatively mild or severe, ranging from debilitating stress to clinical depression, through to paranoia and psychosis.

All need to be taken seriously, treated with care and compassion, with appropriate medical attention and treatment sought as necessary.

Though we can be 'locked in' or 'locked out' in other ways too in terms of isolation, loneliness, and being marginalised or misunderstood by others, often leading to great misery and devastating effects on self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

Let's aim to befriend, support and care for one another;  to demonstrate God's love and compassion in action to those we know who may need extra understanding and kindness right now.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" ~ Colossians 3:12

Friday, 14 June 2013

When listening doesn't always come easy

Welcome to another foray into Five Minute Friday, where we let words fall as they will and catch them on the way, with no reflecting, marinading or worry about being perfect.

Today's prompt is:'Listen'


Prayerful thoughts on hearing from God

"Be still and know that I am God.." ~ Psalm 46:10

"Be still before Me. Quieten your mind and heart. Tune out distracting thoughts and tune in to My voice.

When you search within, My Spirit whispers to your own. I will not shout or overrule your will. Though there are times when My voice carries itself with greater clarity and urgency than others.

Listen regularly and you will develop an ability to discern My voice above the clamour of your own thoughts, above the noise of other voices speaking into your life.

When you become attuned to My voice, then you will realise that I am never silent. My word goes out to the ends of the earth continually.

I speak in many ways:through My Word, through other people, music and books; creation declares My voice loud and clear.

There is no place where I cannot be found and heard by those with ears to listen. And when you do, My still, small voice comforts, reassures, leads, guides, supports and helps you through everything you may encounter.

I am longing to hear from you, my child. 

And I am waiting to speak into your life.

Are you listening?"


"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world" ~ Psalm 19:1 - 4

How do you best hear from God? 

What aids or hinders that process?

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Linking here with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. You're very welcome to join in.

Like this post? To stay in touch with my poetry and prose you can subscribe by e-mail, follow on Twitter, or like my Facebook page.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Sometimes I wake up grumpy

Little fellows like this have been rudely interrupting my beauty sleep of late.

A dawn chorus of cheerful cheeping.

A morning song rejoicing in the sheer joy of being alive.

An intrusion for an insomniac mind and body already depleted and bone-weary.

Who wants to be disturbed when a body just aches to stay in slumber? 

Who wants to keep windows open to the sound, even when sleep and menopause-flushed enough to crave air?

Well, I didn't really greet my little warblers nesting in the eaves with joy.


One fell from the nest. Landed in our garden. Was cold and still. Dead to the world.

On a day when we'd marvelled over the sheer courage of such a tiny being seeking out nourishment in the grass, in blissful ignorance of the two furry black felines lurking stealthily next door.

I found myself listening out with deliberation for the next morning joy chorus.

Only the sounds became muted and, pretty soon, the rest of the family sensibly decamped elsewhere.

I missed them more than I thought. Became sad at their sudden departure.

Mourned my heedless, heartless, impatient, irritable sigh as I rose stiff and cross to close the bedroom window against their sound.

Seeing the little one laying stiff on concrete brought to mind how not one sparrow falls to the ground without our heavenly Father's knowledge. And He who gives them life, feeds and watches over us so tenderly too as, in His eyes, we are worth far more than many sparrows (Matthew 6:26 - 27).

And it made me reluctant I often am to start my day, how hard I find it to rise and be thankful, to rejoice for the day God has made.

To see the wonders of life in all its fullness. To marvel afresh at birdsong, breeze and beauty.

As each new day means new manna, new grace, a fresh start.

What's not to like about that?

If I truly considered His gift of life as one of purpose through pain, salvation through suffering, grace through daily griefs, then I ought to try to wake up happy too.

Maybe I could greet the dawn (or slightly later) with anticipation?

Maybe we can waken with a holy joy independent of our circumstances?

For each day could be the first day of the rest of our lives. We can choose to rejoice as an act of faith.

Each day is one step nearer Jesus' return.

Every morning is a miracle of creation as God effectively says to the sun, "Do it again!" and He never tires of doing so.

And aren't you glad that God sees potential in lifeless, dead things, sees promise in dark turning to light, sees joy in the midst of sorrow?

I am.

Dawn greeting may never come easy to me. 

Rising early is not really possible with M.E and chronic pain (unless you count middle of the night) and I think God takes our very human weakness into account.

Though there are occasions throughout the year when I am lured to begin my day a little sooner with the promise of spending time alone in the Father's presence.

It is always well rewarded, no matter how foggy-brained or sleep-deprived I may feel to start with.

Though, more often than not, my body protests and only seeks to wrap duvet closer and snuggle lower. To crawl back into that pit of oblivion and seeking of deep rest I so urgently need.

Maybe those times of early seeking after God will become more frequent with practice.

For now, I'm endeavouring to see the light in each new day as a dawn of possibility, a greeting to God, a nod to His majesty in creation, His calling to waken and be glad to be alive.

And to bow my head (knees don't bend well now) and heart before Him in reverence and awe.

He is worthy.

Of broken nights. Early morns. Missed sleep. Bird song. 

Of all my life as offering for the life He has given me.

For we are precious and honoured in His sight..and He loves us (Isaiah 43: 4)

And that fact alone is worth getting up for. Isn't it?

PS:Chirpy, chirpy, cheep, cheep sounded in my ears again this morning. Our little feathered friends (or their cousins) have returned. And I am celebrating rather than going bonkers over birdsong!

Joining in and linking here (a little late in the week) with our new host, the lovely Ashley Larkin at sixinthesticks for concrete words, where we seek to describe the abstract with a concrete word prompt. This week's prompt is:'The Morning'. Do come over and read Ashley's beautiful reflection and all the other great posts there.

To stay in touch with my posts you can subscribe by e-mail, link with Google Friend Connect, or like my Facebook page.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Falling and Rising

Welcome. This is my latest (and very late contribution) to Five Minute Friday. Life hasn't been quite going to plan recently and things are still adjusting as I seek to recover from a particularly long M.E relapse. Though not as mentally switched on as I would like to be, I offer my best, poetic 5 minutes on the prompt:'Fall'.


Falling and Rising

Kaleidoscope colours
fall to the ground
with crackle
 and crunch
they make 
a fine sound.

Leaves have 
a season
a reason 
to fall. 

As we watch
they're a tumbling
swirling, twirling
golden haul.

Reminders of life
resilient and full
with promise
once lost
never found.

Then caught 
in Love's arms
scooped up
and saved
given new hope
we'll rise
from the grave.

Season of grace
Season of light
fully dependent 
on God's insight.

His keeping 
and holding
His tender embrace
unfolding our future
where new dreams 
can take place.

No longer subject
to eternal decay
no longer held
in sin 
or death's sway.

We fall 
into His arms
to stay.


"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, "The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him" ~ Psalm 92:12 - 15

In this Autumn of my life, it has been a season of stepping back a little for me, not one of obvious fruitfulness. Falling and rising describe pretty well life with M.E and the Christian life in general. 

But a lot of our growth takes place in the dark, quiet nights of the soul, in the secret place where God does His work. It will eventually come forth as He gives grace to reveal what was hidden. 

Linking (in a better-late-than-never fashion) with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. You are very welcome to join in. It's still open for entries!

To stay in touch with my poetry and prose you can link up by Google Friend Connect, following on Twitter, or by liking my Facebook page.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Seeking calm in a chaotic world

Life has been less than usual for me recently as I've sought an oasis of calm in what felt like an increasingly chaotic world.

Being housebound due to M.E, I've had to look outside my surroundings to seek solace for a burnt-out brain and weary body relapsing and frazzled by too much on-line connectivity.

So I went on a retreat.

No social media. No wi-fi. Nothing but stillness, calm, and lots of time to unwind.

It wasn't all plain sailing.

When life renders us physically still by default with chronic illness, we may assume we know how to sit before God in quiet reverence.

However, I discovered (yet again) how easy it is for a mind to be active and restless even as a body feels relatively inactive.

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him" ~ Psalm 62:5

Outward stillness wasn't producing inner calm.

One afternoon when I was away, I heard footsteps tripping lightly up the stairs outside my room and felt a sudden, sharp pang of envy that I couldn't move as freely as they could.

Then I sensed God saying,"I need some to move swiftly hither and thither, and I need others to be still. You are one I choose to be still."

Even if my stillness was a default setting due to physical frailty, I still felt a little bit better after hearing those words, though my own choice would be to be one of the swift and strong, actively capable people.

But we don't always get what we want or think is best. Our ways are not necessarily God's ways.

Here I was in a Convent environment and I found myself barely able to pray. Every time I tried my mind was as weary as my flesh and words wouldn't come.

Part of the reason for being there was to pray about current and future needs and goals and here I was struggling to say much at all.

So I rested, took several deep breaths, and waited on God, and these words eventually came to my spirit:

"Depth matters more than length. Many words can be shallow, self-pitying or for show. A deep prayer is one that arises from a heart recognising its desperate need of and dependence on Me, and recognises Me as the Only Source of help to meet that need:a cry from one heart to another, a wounded soul calling out to Father God"

In the light of this, a simple cry of, "Help me, Jesus" or, "Lord have mercy" is a deep, earnest prayer.

In fact, we don't necessarily have to say anything at all. God hears the unspoken cries of our hearts.

"Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord" ~ Psalm 139:4

One of the lessons God is teaching me is to be still before Him in posture and silent in speech. 

This type of prayer is to be an offering of the heart alone.

It has meant learning to intercede by visualising the person concerned and simply lifting them up to God in my thoughts, holding them there and trusting Him to meet their every need.

Restful for a mind that finds focus hard and words failing!

This was an exercise in being focused primarily on God's Presence instead of on what to say and how to express it.

Being quiet before the Lord has the added bonus of giving us greater ability to hear His voice

I eventually found it really helpful as I began to rest and relax in this way.

Insights came. Peace and strength filled my inner being.

By the end of my stay time alone with God became something I eagerly sought, craved even.

The poem below tries to capture some of the essence of my Retreat experience.

"Be still and know that I am God" ~ Psalm 46:10


In this world 
of rush and hurry
it is good sometimes
to pause from the flurry;
savour the flavour of
renewed zeal and zest
of the spiritual kind
that brings peace and rest
to soul and mind.

Let go the cares
Let go the noise
escape the world's snares
entertainment and toys.
Find a quiet place 
where healing resides
to soothe fretful hearts
and God's Spirit abides.

Let in the Light
Let in His Voice
that speaks soft
and calms us
so that we rejoice 
to heed yet again
what we once felt was lost
a treasure indeed -
The Pearl of great cost.

Let Love enfold you
Let Grace restore
all that is broken 
will be redeemed evermore,
enriched by His Presence
engulfed by His care
enlivened inside
as we lean, learn and share.

Returning once more 
to our home lives again
externally the same
internally changed
we have eyes to discern
sacred in the secular
made profound in His Name.



Since returning home it has been quite tricky to maintain lessons learnt in the quiet and stillness of a Convent guesthouse.

I'm very much a beginner on the contemplative journey and going on retreat was a new experience for me.

I'm finding it is becoming essential to try to balance life better by actively seeking to carve out time and space in the daily routine to make way for these moments.

Only life has a way of sneaking up on us with its many distractions, desires and temptations  that leave us time and energy-deprived.

And good intentions need to become new habits if they're not going to get lost.

This lesson looks like an ongoing one as I attempt to discover how often to dip in (and out) of social media, when to move forward and when to draw back, how much contact and connection is healthy and how much is just too draining and depleting for someone with M.E. (you can click on the link to see the symptoms)

It has taken me several days to write this post, though, (thankfully) most of the poem shaped itself when on retreat. My mind and body remain slow and lethargic, dulled further by the stronger analgesia I am taking for pain relief.

Lacking sufficient mental agility or acuity to join in with the usual Five Minute Friday, I am pleased to be linking here today with Missional Women Faith Filled Friday instead. You're very welcome to join us.

I'd love to know:

What lessons have you learnt in quiet times and places?

How do you balance life's commitments and personal goals with time with God?

I'm looking forward to hearing from you and sharing our thoughts.

To stay in touch you can connect with me on Twitter or follow on Facebook.