Today I’m linking up with Heather Gerwing and friends for Share Four Somethings. Since I missed the July link-up, this is a combined Summer Share Four Somethings.
In July, I got to take part in a few online writing seminars, and it was great to connect with other writers and to receive some encouragement and helpful advice.
We reflected on the value of small things – that often we feel like we haven’t achieved anything but actually all the small steps add up.
We took time to consider our writing dreams, and how we can fit writing into our lives. At a time when we have been forced to pause or reevaluate so many aspects of life, we were encouraged to see it as an opportunity to reflect on where we are and how we want to move forward.
We also looked at God’s creative process in Genesis – he created order and beauty out of chaos and emptiness – and explored how, even when we feel chaotic or empty, we can do the same.
I also got to meet online with several of the writers who contribute to Gracefully Truthful and it was lovely to meet some of the people behind the names and the words.
I think I actually read this book sometime in May but as I was thinking about which book to share, it came to mind and I realised I had never mentioned it here. (And there is a link to the summer as one of the writing seminars I attended was led by the author!)
“Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean?” by Fran Hill is a memoir in diary form. It is based on the author’s experiences as a teacher and it goes through a typical school year.
It was a perfect lockdown read – easy and enjoyable, but also thought-provoking. There are lots of interesting and memorable characters, both staff and pupils, and it weaves together laugh-out-loud funny moments with much more poignant reflections… it’s a bit like real life!
The things I have treasured most this summer have definitely been the little steps towards normal:
- A few days away with family
- Eating in a restaurant for the first time since February
- Seeing a good friend I hadn’t seen since Christmas
- Being able to travel further afield and walk in some different places
- Going for a haircut (which I normally hate)
- Doing church with other people in the room for the first time since March (we’re allowed a maximum of three households so it’s a small step, but after five months it was a special moment)
There’s a fresh significance in all the little treasures I’d have taken for granted a year ago.
I feel like “Something ahead” continues to be a bit of a question mark at the moment.
I know what my hopes are for the coming months, but so many parts of “normal” still seem so far off.
I long to get back to my normal work with young people in real life rather than from behind a screen. I want to make music with other people. I can’t wait to gather properly as a church family.
And I have no idea if the coming months will see steps forward or steps back.
It brings to mind a passage from 1 Samuel. Following the Israelites’ victory over the Philistines, it says:
Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” (1 Samuel 7:12 NLT)
The battle was over, but it wasn’t the end of the war with the Philistines. They were subdued for the moment, but they hadn’t finished their attacks on the Israelites. And yet, despite the uncertainty of what lay ahead, Samuel encouraged the Israelites to thank God for his help so far.
I think it has been a difficult few months for most of us, and the pandemic isn’t over yet, but as I look back, I can see God’s help.
When the lockdown began, the initial indication was that the restrictions would last for around two months. That seemed like an eternity to me, and I wondered how I would cope.
All I can say is, it’s been five months now and I’m coping! There are so many things I would change about this situation if I could, but I’m grateful that I can echo Samuel’s words: “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”
And that helps me to trust him for whatever lies ahead.
What about you? How has your summer been? Feel free to share a highlight or a prayer request in the comments.
I’m grateful to SPCK and Netgalley for access to a complementary digital copy of “Miss, What Does Incomprehensible Mean” I only share books here that I genuinely believe will be beneficial to my readers.
Amazon links are not affiliate links, but simply provided for your convenience.