October Thanksgiving

This morning I was struck by the words and face of a young boy from Bangladesh, who struggles in ways I can hardly imagine, but whose smile displayed his resilient heart of gratitude. His words, written in an Open Doors article, read “God always hears our prayers and answers through His people.”

I realised with gratitude that many of the answers to prayer throughout October were answered through other people, though of course not all of them were people who acknowledge God in their own lives. Being an ‘introvert’ personality type, I need to spend a good portion of time ‘recharging my batteries’ alone with God, and my pen, in my own space. That said, I also need to spend an equally good portion of time serving others in community, as this energises my purpose and exercises my talents. Learning to ask for help is part of this season’s learning for me. It is very humbling to learn to receive the kindness and help of others and, though it is not always easy to receive, I find it helps to remember the joy and freedom that the giver enjoys.

I wonder how many of the blessings, that you have received this month, have come through the hands, words and love of others?

I am so grateful to God for the following answers to prayer, throughout October, and so grateful to all those beautiful and gracious souls who served and blessed me and others. Whilst I thank God here for His direct intervention, I hope I have also remembered to personally thank each of those, through whom much of the support and blessing has come.

For healing my back pain and for D and M who prayed over it.

For the 8 big bags full of winter coats, hats and gloves, that I was able to deliver to the homeless shelter and for all those who generously donate such items.

For the webinar ministry and the delicious soak-in-prayer time of revelation and peace.

That R will now not have to find a new place to live.

For the whole family invitation to a party gathering and the wonderful friendship, food and fun.

For offers for a lift to a celebration out of town and then for that reunion of the wider family.

For K’s visit and stay, and D’s, and P’s and the opportunity to welcome, host and enjoy friendships.

For C coming for dinner and friendship.

For C and friends with whom one can always pray comfortably together.

For A’s continued recovery and excellent health reports.

For S successfully coaching me on zoom technology.

For the precious friendships and growth in our weekly small group.

Having had the challenge of a court-case, I thank God for His promise in Proverbs 22:22, that He will fight my case; for the testimonial of support from C; for the last-minute inspiration before the hearing; for the support, prayers and encouragement of church family and friends and for Jehovah Shammah going into the court-room before me and giving His peace, grace and favour; for J who accompanied me on the day and for the judge who gave me advice and a further 28 days to collect appropriate evidence.

For inspiration and ideas of all the great evidence I can collect.

For R’s help creating a spreadsheet.

For A coaching me on social media development.

For the blessing of seeing and hearing the light and joy and growth in J and C and for the constant and ever delightful blessing of my beloved grandchildren.

Lastly in October, for being able to attend the refreshing and fellowship of the ‘army of women’ gathered at the Orchard Conference in Birmingham.

We need one another and I am so grateful for such a diverse, wacky, beautiful network of relatives, family and friends and for all those friends I have never met. I’m so grateful for the online community of blogger friends, webinar friends and other online zoom and social forums, where the beauty and love and kindness of humanity can be so clearly seen and shared.

For all of you I have connected with, I bless you and thank you.

Thank you for reading.

How many of the blessings you have received this month have come through the hands and words and love of others?

August Praises

Isn’t gratitude one of the greatest pick-me-ups? How many times has a dose of the doldrums been transformed into bubbling joy and calm, simply by thinking through and naming all the things for which you are grateful? Have you ever done it long enough to come to the end of your list?

But, slow learner that I am, I again made the mistake of thinking I didn’t have anything interesting to blog about last week and was too busy to listen… yet I had a post to be written all along. I had made a commitment (ooh, serious word!) to giving public thanks to God every month, for His faithfulness in hearing and responding to my prayers, with His Father heart of love. I am so excited, on a daily basis, as I acknowledge petitions that are answered, issues resolved, miracles happening… as I witness God happening in my life and in the lives of those around me… but, come the end of the month, I think – “I’ve nothing to write about!”

So here we are on 21st September and I’ve still not given public thanks and praise for all God’s visible goodness and intervention throughout August. But I will do so now, with repentance again for my warped priorities! Meanwhile God is so faithful, that my notebook for September continues to show countless blessings!

august definition: 1. having great importance and especially of the highest social class.

So, August praises to God is a fitting title, in all respects!

I give thanks:

That the chairs went back into rows in church, after 18 months of restrictions,

That C got more than enough distinctions and merits from his access course and a good grade for his GCSE maths, and was offered a place in university.

That my videos, recordings and writings continued successfully and the fourth edit of the book finally complete and is off for feedback.

That August holiday lunch-club was successful and many local families blessed with food.

That S and I had a very productive week of DIY in the house, related well, and managed to visit old friends.

That J and V got the council house they were looking for.

That I was able to receive the medical advice needed and tests all clear.

That You healed my right foot.

That I was able to help S to edit her paper enough to finally submit it.

That I was able to have a weekend away with old friends and all went smoothly and well.

That D and R back together, so child-care issues resolved.

That B’s tests and urgent flight tickets all resolved smoothly.

That I’ve been honoured to host a home-group for the new prayer course.

That S’s travel plans worked well and was released from the quarantine and able to visit all the people planned for.

That D’s cancer has gone and she is well.

That the tribunal hearing has been postponed until a more suitable time and venue.

That I was able to spend more time than usual with my beloved grandchildren this month.

Lord, there were 3 disappointments this month – 2 people for whom I had prayed, but who died. I don’t understand why, but I trust You. I trust You to know the bigger picture and continue to entrust all the bereaved into Your loving arms.

Not all of my prayer is petition and intercession (asking for intervention and favour for self and others) but many areas of growth and life are just too difficult to define in words and to quantify or qualify. Praise and gratitude are a large part of my relationship with my Lord and Creator.

I am most grateful that I can come with confidence into the presence of God and that He not only knows me better than I know myself, but that God loves me despite knowing the areas I hide even from myself. In other words, I am most grateful for the relationship with God and the fact that I really can bring all burdens, concerns, questions, celebrations and everything – even disappointments and laments – to a loving God, who listens, comforts and lights those burdens and pains with a peace beyond expectation and a joy that seems extravagant!

You are so loved! Always pause to give thanks for that!

Unequal exchange

Midway through February, I wrote a post about “Answered Prayer”, because, in the space of less than 24 hours, I had heard reports back of 3 instances where exactly what I had been praying for and visualising had happened to those 3 individuals.

Naturally this was a great encouragement for me to keep praying in such a visual, specific and intentional way, for whatever I was asked to, or felt called to, pray for.

I recalled Jesus cleansing the ten lepers and only one came back to find and thank Jesus. Jesus asked where the others were and declared that this man’s faith had made him “whole”.

I thought of the importance of thanksgiving and of how my focus is often on the prayer requests and needs, but not so much on even noticing when prayers are answered, and somehow taking it for granted when all is well again.

I knew my praying and thanksgiving needed to be equally focused and intentional.

I decided to start keeping a special book in which I only record answered prayer – a “Miracles” journal.

I wrote down those prayers I recognised as being answered during February, and gave thanks for all those answered prayers that I cannot see myself, because they are ongoing, or being worked on in a different realm.

I have done the same for March.

As an ‘aide-memoire’ of names and needs whilst praying, I write down separately all the things I am praying for specifically, but also to prompt me to ask, later in the week, how that person or situation is progressing – then my prayer either continues, changes specific focus, or is written into the “miracles” book and becomes praise for a testimony of the divine intervention of an all-powerful God.

I want to now thank and praise God publicly for all of the prayers answered during March, but first I want to say that when God “answers” prayers, He does not always answer ‘my prayers’ in the way that I think they need to be answered.

Sometimes God says “NO” to my specific request, because God sees the bigger picture and He knows that what I am asking for is not the best way for that person or situation.

Sometimes God says “WAIT”.

During March I want to thank God specifically for:

CJ’s lung X-rays showing they are clear of cancer

R’s 16 days sober and financial progress

C’s washing machine

J, C and E’s negative covid-test results

My 6 years sober and those blessed by reading the story

J’s work commendations and acceptance to do PHD

S’s decisions made and courage to act

J’s recognition of need for healing

R and W both pouring out their hearts full of painful memories and burdens

Canon Tom winning the legal battle declaring ban on church ‘unlawful’

G’s physical progress and healing

Inspiration and great help with personal book writing and favour with endorsements

I also thank God for 3 answers that were not what I asked for:

For the 2 sweet spirits He took home to be with himself in glory

For the other challenge now to be faced – but knowing it is not to be fought with human strength.

And I thank God that He continues to hear us when we cry out to him and He hears all our prayers, petitions and requests.

He is pleased when we entrust our burdens to Him, believing that He loves and cares for us.

And He loves it when we return to give Him thanks and remember His goodness and favour.

The thing I most want to thank God for this month then, is the knowledge that when I place the needs of individuals, peoples and situations into the hands of Him who created the earth and everything in it, I entrust it all into His powerful, safe, capable and gentle hands.

And God, in His mind-blowing love, not only takes these cares, concerns, fears and burdens upon Himself, but He exchanges them for His perfect PEACE!

What an unequal exchange!

I give Him my burdens and He exchanges it for His peace!

All I can give God in return is my THANK YOUs and to loudly declare my love for Him.

My favourite verse these past few months has been:

Do not be anxious about anything,

but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition,

with THANKSGIVING,

present your requests to God.

And the PEACE of GOD, which transcends all understanding,

will GUARD your HEARTand MIND in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Always remember to give thanks to God, because He is ALWAYS GOOD.