Happy Thanksgiving! Today, appropriately, I am filled with gratitude. Although I won’t be having a holiday or partaking in a huge, celebratory meal like our American cousins, I am taking time out to look back and give thanks… once again I’m ‘numbering my days in order to gain a heart of wisdom’ (Psalm 90v12) 🙂
The original Thanksgiving feast took place in 1621 after the Pilgrim fathers had gathered in their first corn harvest – the new settlers famously sharing it with the native people who had helped them recover from the first traumatic winter by teaching them survival and farming techniques in the alien terrain. In some parallel way I too am looking back on a traumatic season, grateful for recovery and for those who have aided and encouraged me and wanting to celebrate the redemptive good that can come out of such seasons of suffering.
If you read my post The old must die you may remember that on 16th October it was exactly 7 years since the first Mercy Cry prayer meeting in 2004 and on the same day exactly 40 months since Sam came home from university in London. The collision of number 7 and number 40 in this way seemed a defining point on our journey of holding onto hope. It fell on a Sunday right in the middle of the month where everything was turned upside down, with Jessa’s departure on the day she was meant to become our daughter-in-law and Sam moving into the ‘new era’ house alone. A week later he was flying to Canada: I knew I needed some physical and emotional recovery time after the roller-coaster 6 months and as is my habit got out my diary and counted forward 40 days from 16.10.11. The 40th day is today.
Today is also a month since Sam left us and a month until he gets back on the plane in Vancouver to return home: we’re at the half-way point. In the last few days we have had some short messages from our silent son, nice texts saying he loves us and will see us soon and one line replies to emails sent a few weeks ago: it seems he has remembered us at last. I can certainly feed on those delicious little morsels at my thanksgiving dinner today with gratitude and restored peace in my heart after the bitterness of feeling out of sight and out of mind for the last few weeks!
So, it’s a personal watershed for me in this 2 month break while Sam is away – and the half-way point is being marked in other ways too. I think I must be making progress – although I still carry sadness and have horrible grey days – because in the last 24 hours something has happened in my thinking that feels like a radical paradigm shift! Through conversations with my counsellor this week and the emotional journey of coming to terms with the buried pain of Little Sally (see 3-part heart) through sharing with friends yesterday and feeling the ‘Deborah’ part of me is being given space again – even just through the passage of time and being able to let go of Jessica and my own children as they make their own ways in life… perhaps most of all through the grace of God as I rest in the heavenly Smile of approval – I suddenly find I am filled with hope, optimism and purpose for the future! I have permission – more from myself than anyone else – to actually BE A WRITER.
Now this sounds foolish and a little childish – it is not easy even for an aspiring wordsmith to explain the burst of excitement and freedom, like a space that seems to have opened up inside me full of possibilities and carrying a defined sense of direction… All I can tell you is that on this 40th day, something has shifted! A time of recovery has come to a conclusion and something new is beginning to bud.
Maybe I am speaking too soon – but how else can you mark a marker day? I want to stand on the promise that there is more to come – good out of evil – and proclaim the hope that has been unexpectedly birthed in my heart. All is well – despite everything that remains unchanged – and I have a commission to fulfil: it is even more freeing than in previous seasons when I found I was a worship leader and then a prayer leader. This time it is simply to be myself to the best of my ability and enjoy investing in the creative gifts I have been given! ‘Goals release energy’ and I have a goal: I am going to put writing first – above housework, long coffee breaks and multiple other distractions; I am going to make it my (admittedly unpaid) ‘work’ that has ‘proper’ working hours around which other jobs and pastimes must fit. Instead of only allowing myself to sit at the computer when I have done the shopping and laundry (and then distracted myself for an hour on facebook) I am giving myself permission to set aside whole days to write. It is what I want to do – and amazingly, thanks in no small part to my husband’s grace and support, I can! Battered by life I was unable to see clearly enough before; suddenly the shaft of light breaks through and I feel encouraged and empowered – I realise I can do this!
All this ties in with the sense of a new season building. Tomorrow is 25th November – 3 months until the date we have set for another Mercy Cry prayer gathering here in Loughborough to pray for the nation – and especially the younger generation – in our Olympic Year. Yes, it’s also one month until Christmas Day and strangely enough 2 months until Chinese New Year – once again it seems it is all marked out. I am setting up a dedicated blog in preparation for 25th February with specific information, so if you are interested in that click here 🙂 And I also have a book to write – well a kind of teaching booklet, something to get me started on the ‘proper writing’ path – with the strong sense of more to come. Of course blogging counts as proper writing too and I will still be doing it… and having said all that, of course I know I am already a writer and wouldn’t have posted 190 times if I wasn’t! But now it is not just an enjoyable hobby, but a vocation to be respected, honed and deliberately pursued.
Sam always used to say, ‘Follow your joy’. I don’t know where he got that from… but I think that is what I am feeling. More than that, beyond prayer-leading and teaching the things I have learned to a new generation, the story we are living demands to be told. Hence this online diary! I am looking for the fulfilment of the promise of which the psalmist sings, that I have long held up before the Lord; I am waiting for the ‘seeing, fearing and trusting’ part to actually happen for many as a result of my thoroughly redeemed life!
‘I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD‘ Psalm 40v1-3