Ponder in Wonder

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – (Luke 2:6-7, NIV)

While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby. She gave birth to her first son. She wrapped Him up well and laid Him in a box where cattle are fed. She put Him there because the guest room was full. – (Luke 2:6-7, ERV)

When they arrived in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor, and there she gave birth to her firstborn son. After wrapping the newborn baby in strips of cloth, they laid Him in a feeding trough since there was no available space in any upper room in the village. – (Luke 2:6-7, TPT)

 

This portion of the Christmas Story always leaves me in awe and wonder at the miraculous that took place, out among the animals. A young girl, her first child, no modern conveniences nor medical assistance, and a tremendous trust in God, are but a few of the standouts to me as I ponder the sacred stable scene. I cannot even fathom traveling on foot and donkey, ninety miles, in the heat, very pregnant, only to discover there were no rooms available – anywhere. Then, after your new husband finds someone who will give you room out with their animals, the time comes and there is no stopping what is next. By God’s grace alone, they birth takes place, and after swaddling the newborn King, Mary had only a feed box to lay Him in. Probably not the scene that she had envisioned when the angel had appeared to her and told her what would take place. That being said, she persevered faithfully to all she had been called to do. Perhaps the takeaway this morning is to be faithful in all circumstances, and choose trust, despite what we see.

 

Weary arrival, Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

No where vacant room;

The baby would come,

They needed space soon.

Placed in a stable,

Where animals lay;

Our Savior was born,

God’s plan underway.

The sacred infant,

Grew into the man;

Savior, Redeemer,

Fulfilled the Lord’s plan.

He lived and He loved,

Sinless, full of grace;

Took all upon self,

Then died in our place.

On the third day rose,

Death He overcame;

So that we might live,

As we trust His Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the Christmas Story does not end with the birth of baby Jesus, but rather it is only the beginning of the beautiful road to redemption that You created for all who choose to trust in You. Thank You Jesus, for leaving You heavenly throne to come to earth and live as we live and die in our place. Thank You for the incredible gift of Your amazing grace. Forgive us for pondering Your birth, without going beyond the miracle of an infant, born in a stable; for the story is so much more. Show us how to live and love in a way that makes the truth of Your story tangible to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the humble and faithful beginnings and the powerful life, death, resurrection and ascension that brought us to relationship and the hope of eternal life with You. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name, Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. – Matthew 1:20

Statements of Praise

 

Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind. – (Psalm 107:8, NIV)

Thank the Lord for His faithful love and for the amazing things He does for people. – (Psalm 107:8, ERV)

So lift your hands and thank God for His marvelous kindness and for all His miracles of mercy for those He loves. – (Psalm 107:8, TPT)

 

Any time that there is repetition in scripture, I recognize the need to take notice. In this particular Psalm, the same sentence is repeated four times by David, as he tells of a long list of God’s faithfulness to those who belonged to Him. I imagine many of us, particularly in this season, could create our own list of ways that God has shown His unfailing love and mercy, and follow each remembrance with a statement of praise. For me, in spite of much heaviness that has found our household this year, there has been in equal measure, God’s faithful provision, joy, peace, comfort, and abundant blessing. Perhaps it is why I so often find myself settling in the Psalms, as David understood the highest heights and the deepest depths, yet sought the Lord and praised Him through it all. He was human and fell short, yet searched for God, and was receptive to the Lord’s correcting and redirecting as he continued to move forward and give thanks. May we ever give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His miracles of mercy that He pours out upon those whom He calls His own.

 

When life knocks us down,Statements of Praise

Takes wind from our sails;

The Lord’s love and grace,

Comes near, never fails.

In seasons of loss,

Struggle and heartache;

The Lord’s love remains,

And miracles take.

Where blessings abound,

And grace is made known;

Again, it’s God’s love,

And His power shown.

Rise up and give thanks,

For love that won’t end;

For wonderful deeds,

That move God’s love in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unfailing love and for the wonderful things that You do for those who follow You. Thank You that You hear our prayers and move mightily on our behalf. Thank You that Your power is made perfect in our weakness. Forgive us for allowing discouragement or sorrow to cause us to question Your love or care for us. Teach us to trust You through every high and low, as You remain present through all things at all times. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may make Your unfailing love and marvelous kindness tangible in spaces where it is difficult to access. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for Your unfailing love and Your miraculous deeds, done on our behalf. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Now, our God, we give You thanks, and praise Your glorious name. – 1 Chronicles 29:13

Safety and Strength

But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your Name may rejoice in You. – (Psalm 5:11, NIV)

But let those who trust in You be happy forever. Protect and strengthen those who love Your Name. – (Psalm 5:11, ERV)

But let those who run to You for safety be glad they did; let them break out in joyful song. May You keep them safe – their love for You resounding in their hearts. – (Psalm 5:11, VOICE)

 

Having a refuge, a space of safety, grants us reason to rejoice and be glad. Just as there is nothing quite so sweet at the end of a long day as going home and relaxing in the comfort of one’s own space with the people who love them best, there is peace that comes when we run to our Redeemer to be our Comforter, Protector and Provider. He protects and strengthens those who seek Him, and His loving kindness grants reason to rejoice. May we ever take refuge in the Lord, for He is our strength and our salvation; and as we seek Him, we are filled with gladness by His love.

 

Mom is still working hard at her new outpatient therapies. Her favorite is when she has all three therapies (physical, occupational and speech), on the same day. When that trifecta of tough is on her day’s schedule, she tends to sleep really well at night. The most challenging therapy for mom is speech, as they have narrowed down the area most affected by the stroke, and are specifically focused on such. She is embracing the challenge, and we are all looking forward to gathering to celebrate Christmas together soon. It is a joy to pick up on the little things, as when I called yesterday morning, mom was walking around the house, opening window shades, and was able to pause and answer the phone. I was incredibly impressed, as that is a bit of a juggling act with a walker and one uncooperative arm. Yet another testament to her resilience and determination as she keeps working to regain her strength.

 

Seek safety in God, Our Help and Defense

For He is our strength;

A refuge in storms,

Who’ll go to great lengths.

For there is no place,

That God cannot go;

To bring peace and joy,

Make His great grace known.

Sing of His goodness,

With thanks, let us raise;

Joyful thanksgiving,

Throughout all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our refuge and our strength. Thank You that You are our joy and reason to praise. Forgive us for not seeking You in the storms, or for not giving praise where praise is due. Teach us to run to You, always. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your safety, peace, strength, and blessing. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your loving kindness that loves, protects and blesses us throughout all our days. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Keep me safe, my God, for in You I take refuge. – Psalm 16:1

Blessings of Strength

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, NIV)

May the Lord make His people strong. May the Lord bless His people with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, ERV)

God makes His people strong. God gives His people peace. – (Psalm 29:11, MSG)

 

Today, this is a reminder to myself. We have arrived at the midpoint of the busiest week of the season, as it is the final week of school, prior to Christmas break. In our household, that means grocery and errand running had to be done last evening, there is a gymnastics meet tonight, and tomorrow evening, two of our boys have a holiday music concert, each following a full day of school/work and coaching (or in my husband’s case, commuting). By Friday, we all will be ready for a long winter’s nap. Though each day feels a bit like a marathon, God provides the strength that is needed to navigate each day, and His peace along the way. The challenge is to slow down, take a deep breath, and allow His strength and peace to flood our hearts so that there is no room for chaos and doubt and weariness. May we ever fix our eyes and hearts on the Lord to be our strength, as He provides what we need to navigate each new day, and grants us His perfect peace along the way.

 

The Lord grants us strength, Anchor with Compass Engraving Illustration

Where all strength seems gone;

Grants us what we need,

To keep keeping on.

And more than His strength,

He blesses with peace;

Brings calm to chaos,

As love is released.

No matter the time,

Day, week or season;

Hope ever abounds,

God’s grace shows reason.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us strength and bless us with peace. Thank You that even on our days that we feel weary and worn, You come and provide what we need to keep moving forward. Thank You that as we trust in You, You meet us wherever we are, and demonstrate Your faithfulness; always. Forgive us for our lack of faith when chaos comes. Teach us to turn to You in trust, allowing You room to move in and through us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend strength and peace where it is lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You, thank You and give You praise for Your goodness throughout all of our days. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. – Numbers 6:26

Daily Provision

Give us today our daily bread. – (Matthew 6:11, NIV)

Give us each day that day’s bread – no more, no less. – (Matthew 6:11, VOICE)

We acknowledge You as our Provider of all we need each day. – (Matthew 6:11, TPT)

 

I so appreciate The Passion Translation’s phrasing of this verse, as it is a reminder of who God is and how He is our Provider of ALL that we need each day. God’s provision goes far beyond physical food. The Lord knows our hearts, minds and souls, as well as our physical needs. He provides people, resources, support and supplies for that which we truly need. God turns trials into triumphs as we trust in Him. May we ever remember to ask the Lord for that which we need, and watch in faith for answers. Grant us daily, O God, what is needed to navigate each day with strength, stamina and grace, so that we may more clearly reflect Your heart and walk in Your ways.

 

Help us not worry, Daily Provision

For You have today;

In Your mighty hands,

As we trust and pray.

You’re our Provider,

Of all that we need;

You grant us enough,

To love as You lead.

For You are our strength,

Supply, hope and grace;

In love, You lead us,

To walk in Your ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace as You provide for our needs each day. Thank You that You see and know beyond our physical needs, but You care about our hearts as well. Forgive us for the times that we have lost sight of the ways that You have met our needs in the midst of difficulties. Teach us to fix our eyes on You, so that we would see Your loving kindness as You supply all that we need to navigate each new day. Show us how to love those around us best, so that we may be Your vessels to help meet needs in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You and thank You for loving us so well. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy. – Acts 14:17

Choose Praise

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, … for the Mighty One has done great things for me – Holy is His Name.” – (Luke 1:46,47 & 49, NIV)

Then Mary said, “I praise the Lord with all my heart. I am very happy because God is my Savior. Yes, the Powerful One has done great things for me. His Name is very holy. – (Luke 1:46, 47 & 49, ERV)

Mary: My soul lifts up the Lord! My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator! For the Mighty One has done great things for me; holy is God’s Name! – (Luke 1:46, 47 & 49, VOICE)

 

I observe in awe and wonder, the heart of Mary, as she focused on the gift and the honor for which she had been chosen, rather than the stigma and challenges that would come with what was being asked of her. She trusted God, and praised Him. In this season, and always, I desire to have a heart like hers. God has done incredibly great things for me, and I know with all that I am, that He indeed, is holy. When challenges come, I desire for my focus to be on glorifying God for who He is, so that I may rejoice in Him, rather than my circumstances. As we walk into the wearying last week before break, may we look to the Lord and celebrate all that He has done. May praise be present within me, as I know the true joy in who He is and how He loves so well.

 

I choose praise the Lord,

With all of my heart;

Celebrate His grace,

And strength He imparts.

So many great things,

The Lord does in love;

Worthy of our praise,

All gifts from above.

He’s mighty to save,

And faithful to show;

The mercy we need,

As His blessings flow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have unending reasons to glorify You and rejoice in Your Mighty Name. Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning and that Your faithfulness knows no end. Thank You that You love us with an unfailing love. Forgive us for doubting the depths of Your love and care when life takes difficult turns. Teach us to trust You more, as You know the outcome and walk beside us each step of life’s journey. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we extend grace and strength and hope to those who are lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise, our Savior, who does great things for us all. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34

United in Peace

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – (Ephesians 4:3, NIV)

You are joined together with peace through the Spirit. Do all you can to continue as you are, letting peace hold you together. – (Ephesians 4:3, ERV)

Make every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit has already created, with peace binding you together. – (Ephesians 4:3, VOICE)

 

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the celebration of life for my father-in-law with my husband, sister-in-law, her husband, and my brother-in-law. Incredibly, despite the eclectic collection of family brought together by loss, there was a sense of peace in the room, despite normal tensions between some of the various family members. Everyone seemed to set aside their differences for the sake of celebrating their eldest sibling/uncle. Stories were shared around tables, and much laughter filled the room. I think Donald would have been pleased to see smiling faces, rather than tears, and delighted at the distance that so many traveled to gather in his honor. The sentiment that Mark, his brother and I walked away with, was gratitude. We were thankful for the opportunity to see the aunts, uncles and cousins all together in one place, and to have had a positive and peaceful gathering together with family.

 

Each chance that we get,

img_2019-12-15_09-06-097590851263573878757.jpg

6/7 of the remaining siblings in top photo. Their children in photo below.

Rise up and choose peace;

Preserve what God gives,

Allow grace release.

A spirit of peace,

Invites others in;

Broadens your circle,

It’s how grace begins.

Go forth in God’s grace,

Sow always, His peace;

Let God’s love be known,

For it shall not cease.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace that grants us peace in places it seems unlikely. Thank You for empowering us with Your Spirit to extend peace wherever we go. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected our role as purveyors of peace. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to go before us, walk beside us, and dwell within us in peace. Show us how to love those around us in ways that promote Your peace wherever we go. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise up and share Your peace wherever we go. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

To Travel With Grace

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. – (Luke 2:4-5, NIV)

So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. It was known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. Joseph registered with Mary because she was engaged to marry him. (She was now pregnant.) – (Luke 2:4-5, ERV)

Mary’s fiancé Joseph, from Nazareth in Galilee, had to participate in the census in the same way everyone else did. Because he was a descendant of King David, his ancestral city was Bethlehem, David’s birthplace. Mary, who was now late in her pregnancy that the messenger Gabriel had predicted, accompanied Joseph. – (Luke 2:4-5, VOICE)

 

Yesterday was our travel day from Seattle, Washington to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thanks to modern inventions, our travel time, including the drive to the airport, parking, taking the shuttle, making our way through security, waiting out our flight delay, and actually arriving to our destination, took a grand total of seven actual hours, but nine with the time change. It is pretty incredible, however, that we were able to travel some 1,350 miles in one day. For Mary and Joseph, their 90-mile trek was all on foot, and perhaps donkey. There were no Quickie Marts or hotels to utilize to recharge and rest along the way, nor was there GPS or any other modern convenience that makes travel far simpler today. Additionally, Mary was very pregnant. I consider how exhausting travel can be with all of the conveniences we have now; but imagine having to travel back then, on foot and donkey, mere days prior to giving birth? As I ponder their trip and think of young Mary, I am in awe of her faithfulness and trust in God. Her role in Jesus’ story is not one for the faint of heart. She was present for each joy and heartache, and watched in awe and wonder as our Savior grew, and ultimately sacrificed all so that we might have life everlasting in Him. Perhaps as the season marches on, and we begin to feel the weariness of travel and preparations and our own set of expectations, may we take pause and reflect on the reason for the season, and give thanks to God for the perseverance and faithful obedience modeled for us as Jesus made His human entry into the world. Let us not stop there, for He did not remain a tiny baby in a manger, but He grew into a man, took all our sin upon Himself on the cross, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, ever loving us and moving on our behalf.

 

To travel with grace, To Travel With Grace

Both far and quite near;

Takes a choice of trust,

Setting aside fear.

Fear of the unknown,

What will or won’t be;

God’s always faithful,

His love won’t retreat.

He walks beside us,

Ahead, makes a way;

Guides and protects us,

Our hope to display.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your traveling mercies, as You go before us, walk beside us, and remain with us, each step of our journey. Forgive us for the times that we doubt Your nearness, as things seem more challenging than they ought to be. Thank You that You use every challenge to grow us stronger in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring every fear and doubt to You from the start. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too, may know the power of Your presence as we press forward along the path to which we are called. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and rely on You for all. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You. – Psalm 89:8

Undeniably Good

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – (Psalm 34:8, NIV)

Give the Lord a chance to show you how good He is. Great blessings belong to those who depend on Him! – (Psalm 34:8, ERV)

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him. – (Psalm 34:8, MSG)

 

God is undeniably good. The last few weeks have been a bit overwhelming, yet each time I have gone to God to be my refuge and my strength, He has met me and carried me through. One of the most trying things for me as an educator, is being observed and evaluated. I am constantly evaluating what is going on in my classroom, seeking solutions to improve, yet somehow, the process of being observed always makes me feel like I cannot ever be or do enough. Anyway, yesterday was my first observation of the year. Though I was prepared and had given it to God each time anxiousness entered in, my nerves were still surging. My evaluator is kind and compassionate, and as much as it was possible, she did help set me a bit more at ease than I normally would have been. I survived, and the remainder of the day went quickly. More of God’s good was witnessed throughout the evening, as I partook in my first high school gymnastics meet as an assistant coach. The girls did well; supporting and encouraging one another with kindness and grace. In the end, my alma mater, where I coach, took first among the four schools in attendance. It was a sweet end, to a day that had once again shown me, just how good God truly is.

 

If you give God room, For God and His Grace

He’s faithful to show;

His goodness and grace,

Blessings to bestow.

Take refuge in Him,

For there we find rest;

Comfort and His peace,

As He loves us best.

So, choose taste and see,

That the Lord is good;

Faithful forever,

His love is assured.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can look, see and experience Your goodness when we run to You. Thank You that You are our refuge and our strength. Thank You that Your faithfulness knows no end. Thank You that You are loving and kind, and have our very best in mind. Forgive us for our fears and anxiousness with the things that we cannot control. Teach us to trust You more, as You go before us and remain with us, all the days of our lives. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your goodness and faithfulness in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we taste and see how good You are, and take refuge in You, our blessed Redeemer. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds. – Psalm 73:28

Strength and Peace

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, NIV)

May the Lord make His people strong. May the Lord bless His people with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, ERV)

God makes His people strong. God gives His people peace. – (Psalm 29:11, MSG)

 

This is exactly the sort of day where I need to be reminded of such promises from God. I am on the verge of being sick, and I have a very full and demanding day ahead of me. Additionally, I did something to my back over the weekend, and find myself especially grateful for His promise to strengthen and bless with peace. God always makes a way, where there seems to be no way; the challenge comes in remembering that in the moments when what lies before us seems overwhelming. As for me, this is why I rise early and set my heart on Him. The mountains that are standing before me when I first wake, appear more manageable by the time I have spent time intentionally with God. He reminds me of who He is, and who I am in Him. May we ever turn to the Lord for strength and peace, for He meets us as we seek Him.

 

The Lord grants His strength, Grow to Overflowing

To all those who seek;

And fills up with peace,

Hearts troubled and weak.

Faithful to meet us, 

The Lord always hears;

Each prayer we lift up,

In love, He draws near.

He knows our trials,

The mountains we face;

Meets us with His strength,

Love, hope and great grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us strength and peace when it is lacking. Thank You that You are faithful forever to all who seek You. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when we fix our gaze on the size of the mountains before us, rather than the greatness of You. Teach us to trust You to be our strength and peace in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your peace and strength in practical and tangible ways where it is lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength and peace, and praise You for Your faithfulness. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

The Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. – Numbers 6:26