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

Patient Endurance

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – (James 1:4, NIV)

If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be. – (James 1:4, ERV)

And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line – mature, complete, and wanting nothing. – (James 1:4, VOICE)

 

Both running a long road race and being an educator during a year when Thanksgiving falls a week later than usual, are ways to remind us how true patience brought on by endurance equips us to complete the long journey to cross the finish line. For one, it is an actual finish line, for the other, it is arriving at the first much anticipated break of the school year, and the opportunity to at long last, catch up with family. When we seek and depend on God in the process, He supplies all that we need to complete each leg of our race. Sometimes, it is the fortitude to get from one water station to the next, or one week to the next; either way, He is present when we seek Him. May we allow true patience to work in us, as we persevere, allowing God to grow and stretch us into all that He wants us to be; mature, complete and lacking nothing.

As for mom, this is the week that out-patient therapies begin! Though there is anticipation about the details, mom is eager to get going, and as always, is ready to work tirelessly toward the goal of regaining what was lost. She continues to be upbeat and positive, ever-patient as she perseveres onward toward the prize. My sister and her family are doing a fabulous job of getting mom out and challenging her to try new things. It is a joy to hear about each new step she is taking, and I am beyond grateful for my sister, brother-in-love and nephews, as they continue to love mom well.

 

Choose perseverance, img_2019-11-19_04-16-203117290028297450777.jpg

For as we endure;

Christ will empower,

Set our feet secure.

Keep moving forward,

The direction called;

Along the journey,

His grace is installed.

As we choose press on,

Maturity grows;

We lack for nothing,

And His goodness shows.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us and equip us to persevere for all of our days. Thank You that through the difficulties, You refine and define our character to more clearly reflect Yours. Thank You that You grant us Your strength and grace as we run our race, and that we each have our own pace to take. Forgive us for allowing our hearts to compare our journey to another, or our pace to someone else’s. Thank You that You created each of us uniquely with a plan and a purpose. Teach us to keep our eyes on You and what You are calling us to do. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may grow and be encouraged as they run their own race. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow patience to work in us, as we persevere with endurance, each leg of this journey that we are called to run. Amen.

 

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

 

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. – Romans 15:5

Ready for Rest

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – (Matthew 11:28, NIV)

Come to Me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. – (Matthew 11:28, ERV)

Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. – (Matthew 11:28, TPT)

 

Weariness is worn on the faces of myself and my colleagues, as we press in and power through this final week prior to spring break. Though there were a few snow days sprinkled in, the stretch between winter break and this well-timed rest in the spring, feels like a marathon. Between escalating behaviors, time commitments that extend the already busy hours of each day, and the plague of viruses that have made their way around, finally arriving at today, the last day prior to break, feels miraculous. God knows what we need. Next week is a provided opportunity to lay down burdens and be refreshed. I love The Passions Translation, as the imagery of God being our oasis is outstanding. An oasis in the desert of exhaustion is exactly where I am ready to go. May we all run to our Redeemer, who is ready to receive our burdens and exchange them for real rest and refreshment.

 

When heavy burdens, img_2019-03-03_09-00-141537211458818783495.jpg

Overwhelm our hearts;

We need seek the Lord,

In Whom rest shall start.

God is our sweet space,

Where true rest is found;

Strength when we’re weary,

And grace to slow down.

Slow in His presence,

Renewal shall come;

Our Great Provider,

Where true peace is from.

Rest for the body,

And peace for our minds;

The love of Jesus,

Is gracious and kind.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You invite us to bring You our heavy burdens. Thank You that as we give all to You, You grant us rest in Your love. Thank You that You are our oasis in the desert of weariness. Forgive us for allowing the weight of the world to remain on our shoulders when You did not design us to carry so much. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring our burdens before You, allowing You room to grant us reprieve and true rest. Show us how to lay all things down and find rest in You. Help us to love those around us in such a way, that they too, may know real rest in Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we run to You for rest and lay our burdens before You. Amen.

 

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

 

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. – Deuteronomy 4:29

In Strength, She Smiles

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. – (Proverbs 31:25, NLT)

She is a strong person, and people respect her. She looks to the future with confidence. – (Proverbs 31:25, ERV)

Clothed in strength and dignity, with nothing to fear, she smiles when she thinks about the future. – (Proverbs 31:25, VOICE)

 

Strong people strengthen people. I have been overwhelmingly blessed throughout my life to be surrounded by strong and loving women who have modeled strength, dignity and courage through active faith in their daily lives, no matter what their circumstances. From my phenomenal mom and her mom, to aunts, dear friends, pastors and colleagues, I have seen such lives lived out, and have been encouraged when my own strength, courage or confidence was lacking. Though there is no “arriving”, I am in a space where I look forward to the future with confidence, trusting that God has good things in store for me and my loved ones. I know that trials will come and go, yet He is faithful through all things, so I need not fear what lies ahead. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength and confidence, so that we can look to the future and smile.

 

He’ll clothe us in strength,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

And His dignity;

As we trust in Him,

In faith, choose believe.

We’ll laugh without fear,

At what lies ahead;

Knowing God’s with us,

By grace, we’ll be led.

Others will respect,

The strength that they see;

As we walk beside,

And help those in need.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You clothe us with strength and dignity and give us reason to look confidently to the future. Thank You for the women that You have placed in our lives that have supported and modeled these attributes for us and in us. Forgive us for the times that we have remained in our fearfulness or attempted to navigate things on our own. Teach us to trust You more, and to embrace those whom You have intentionally placed in our lives for mutual encouragement. Show us how to love those around us in a way that grows strength and dignity and removes fear of the future. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the strength and dignity that You are growing in us and look forward to the future without fear. Amen.

 

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

 

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Come Close

Come close to God, and God will come close to you… – (James 4:8a, NLT)

 

Everyone has heard stories of receiving that dreaded phone call – the one that announces unfortunate news of a loved one, causing an immediate emotional response, and a quick call to action. Yesterday morning, that phone call came to me. At the start of my second period class, I received a frantic phone call from my Mom. It was miraculous that I was at my computer taking attendance when she called, otherwise I would not have even seen her photo pop up on my phone screen, as I keep my ringer off during class. She never calls during school hours, so on a whim, I answered. On the other end of the line, I heard a voice that I barely recognized as hers, telling me that she’d been in a horrible accident. When I asked if she was okay, her response was simply, “no.” She was able to tell me her location, and I knew in that moment, that nothing mattered more than my getting to where she was to be present. My quick, internal, “Oh God, help me!” was followed by my class quickly being covered, a rapid exit from my room, and my arrival on the scene of the accident before the first responders had my mom loaded in the ambulance. Seeing her face and talking to her in person as I held her hand when I arrived at the accident site, brought a bit of peace, despite the destroyed car in front of me. The hardest span of time throughout the entire ordeal, was the time between leaving the scene and arriving at the hospital. Though I could see she had no lacerations visible, the internal and skeletal damage was unknown. All I could do was breathe and pray as I made my way, trusting that He had her in His hands. Thankfully, after two CT Scans, two x-rays, hours of waiting, blood draws and routine checking, Mom was given the all-clear (and the last few hours of her care were provided by a friend of mine who happened to be the nurse on shift in the ER), and walked away from an accident that could have taken her life. God protected and preserved the life of my Mom, and I am forever grateful. Though it is only the morning after, in hindsight, I already can look back and see how He covered and protected my Mom, surrounded and provided for me, as a way was made for me to get to her so quickly, as well as the loving community of friends and family that called, made themselves available, and sent messages to check on Mom as soon as they heard the news. Much of the time I spent waiting for Mom during her scans and x-rays, was utilized to reply to dear ones who were desiring updates on her well-being. I was back and forth between two phones, as the notes kept coming in. Last evening, two of my beloved favorites came to help with both the care of my Mom and to go and check on the status of her car, while another pair of dear former neighbors came to call on Mom to see that she was okay for themselves. God is so good, and He has provided and placed us both in kind and caring communities that are family. More than anything, this continues to show me how near God is in all things and at all times, and how He uses people to be His hands and heart when we hurt. May we ever draw close to God, for He will be near to us.

 

When that call comes in,ambulance

And hearts are dismayed;

Call upon the Lord,

He will not delay.

His presence made clear,

In tangible ways;

Hope and help to us,

As we seek and pray.

Choose draw closer still,

For God will be near;

He calms anxious hearts,

His love covers fear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we draw near to You, You are right here, waiting. Thank You that You are faithful to bring peace to our anxious hearts, and surround us with support and encouragement when it is needed most. Forgive us for our fearfulness when we walk into the unknown. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love and encourage those around us in times of peace and in times of turmoil. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we draw ever nearer to You. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15