Sacred Noticing – A Book Review

A few months ago, my dear blogging friend Joy Lenton invited me and a few other friends to become a beta reader for her new book Sacred Noticing: Seasonal Glimpses of the Infinite. It felt like such a gift from God, as if He was inviting me into more of His waking up, which has been His call to me for 2022. And sure enough, as I began to read, God stirred my soul, uncovering and covering my heart with His sweet gifts of mercy.

Here follows my review of Joy’s beautiful book:

With each turning page and shifting season in Sacred Noticing: Seasonal Glimpses of the Infinite, Joy Lenton beckons us to be attentive to the touch of the Holy Spirit, no matter where we find ourselves. Drawing on nature’s praise of its Maker, she calls us to open our ears, eyes, mouth and heart to the Living Word of God.

As I soaked in Joy’s blessings and her poetry, I felt myself inhaling and exhaling the breath of God. The Holy Spirit slowed my heart to breathe easily again. Together with Joy, I could feel:

“the warming touch, the fall
of God’s footsteps in [my] heart”.

Christ’s gentle presence met me in an unexpected, personal and intimate way. Through the senses of touch, taste, hearing and sight woven into the fabric of the poems, God stirred precious memories from my own childhood and adult years in nature. As I now begin my own journey with a chronic heart condition, Joy’s words and testimony to the wide open spaces of God’s grace for us all, as we slow to listen for His call, are a balm to my soul.

As the missionary to Algeria, Lilias Trotter, put it so long ago: “If we can listen in the stillness, till our souls begin to vibrate to the thing He is thinking and feeling about the matter in question, whether it concerns ourselves or others, we can from that moment begin praying downwards from His throne, instead of praying upwards toward Him.” (21 March 1926, as quoted in Miriam Huffman Rockness’ A Passion for the Impossible, p.305). Joy’s beautiful book encourages us down that path of stillness, to wake up to Christ’s deep desire to pray and live through us, by the power of His Spirit, moment-by-moment.

On this Easter Monday, may the slowing of my husband and I to soak in the beauty of these tulip fields bless your hearts also. May God send the wind of His Holy Spirit to release the fragrance of His new life into your midst also, filling your hearts with fresh joy and strength.

# Please note I received an advance copy as a beta reader. This in no way influenced my review, which reflects my honest opinion and personal experience of the book.

Joy Lenton is a former nurse from Norfolk, UK. She’s a contemplative Christian writer, poet and blogger who loves books, dark chocolate, good coffee and great conversation. As an M.E and multiple chronic illness sufferer with a painful past, her mission is to encourage others to embrace hope in the hard on her joylenton.com and poetryjoy.com blogs.

The Water of Life [Republished]

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 2, Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a devotional on The Water of Life.

Have you ever been thirsty?
I am speaking about the kind of thirsting
In which you feel so thirsty there is a fainting in your soul.

I have been in that land of thirsting,
And I have watched the shimmering waves
Of heat baking the desert sands
As my parched soul
Looked up to Heaven
Waiting
For even one cloud to form.

Many years ago, my family traveled and shared a drama in which I portrayed The Woman at the Well. Week after week, in many different settings, my lips spoke the cry of a woman so thirsty that she begged for a drink when the well was right before her. You see, Jesus had offered to her a different kind of water: a filling up for her soul’s thirsting.

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” John 4:13-14 

As the weeks and the months passed, every time I spoke those woman’s words, a deeper longing was planted in my own heart. I didn’t know it at the time, though. I thought I was being filled, as I gave out the words of Jesus, week after week.  

Ah, how does it happen? How does a cry in our heart become lodged so deep that only another longing can answer in return?

I thought I knew how deep the well in my own heart was. I thought I felt the fullness of my Lord’s Words when I shared His heart with those around me.  But I had only scratched the surface.  I offered my praise, and I offered my worship, and my Lord knew what was required to let me see my own unmet longing.

The desert of pain
And the heat of suffering
Burned away the
Half-met longings
To uncover
The well where
Full-hearted cries
Could finally be heard.

I have some very dear friends who continually pray for my healing. They wait in hope for the day that Jesus will restore movement to me, and a full remission in this place of pain. Where would I be without their sweet prayers of HOPE? And I do see improvement from the awful heat and swelling that began this journey of disease.

But there is a deeper healing 
In my soul
That I would never trade
Even for just a day
Without physical pain.


For how can I tell
Of the wondrous
Filling
For my soul's
Thirsty well?

How can I sing
Of my Savior's dear Presence
Carrying my heart
To His bosom of rest
When the pain
Overwhelms?

And how will I share
These dewdrops of love
Poured down on my heart
When the desert sky
Breaks
With the water
From Heaven?

Is your heart facing a desert sun today? Are you fainting as the heat of the day wastes your soul?  There is a filling that can happen for you too, my friend.  There is a place of stillness close to the heart of God where He calls you to come.

It is His very Word spoken at the end of our drama, week after week. I longed for those words to be mine, years ago, but it took the pain of suffering to bring them home to my heart:

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”  Revelation 22:17 NIV