Merry Christmas 2019

Merry Christmas blessings to all! Today’s post is going to look a bit different than usual, as I wanted to take the opportunity to send out Christmas greetings and an update for family and friends, near and far, as I found myself in a space of having to let go of the expectation of sending out Christmas cards this year. wp-15772871873888784698050003969833.jpg

Grace is a beautiful thing. Once I realized that the only person who had the expectation of a card being sent was me, I was able to let that “one more thing” go, and be present and enjoy the season.

This year has been all about learning and growing in grace; letting go of expectations of what we thought life would be, and embracing the gifts that come our way each day. At the end of April, my mom suffered a stroke, completely out of the blue. She was in great health, fit, capable, and extraordinarily independent; always on the go. As a result, I was given the grace to take a leave of absence for the majority of the remaining school year, and had the wellness leave to cover the time without loss of pay. Grace was granted financially for my family, as I was afforded time and total support to go and be present with Mom in the beginning of her recovery.  We also were able to visit Mark’s dad in September while he was still doing reasonably well, as we just returned to Wisconsin a few weeks ago for his memorial. Love and loss, blessings and grace; we have been carried well this year, despite the unanticipated obstacles.

Mid-August, Mom moved to Oregon with my sister and her family, while I returned home to my own to prepare for the new school year. She and her family have been loving and caring for Mom with incredible grace.

Both of my boys are now nearly half-way through their senior year, as is my eldest nephew in Oregon. The duo gained their licenses at the close of summer, so there has been a new-found freedom for all. Our eldest, my bonus son, secured a new job in the field of his choosing, and is back to working days, after more than a year of graveyard. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to have family dinners at least a few times each week.

Mark’s twenty-year dream has become a reality over the last few months, as the shop construction is nearly complete. All that remains is wiring, insulation and equipping the shop with all of the various tools he will utilize to practice his trade on the side from home. Daily, he is like a little kid on Christmas morning, as he looks at the shop with awe and gratitude.

As for me, I am continuing my twenty-third year of teaching, currently teaching English, Social Studies and Art. Added to the list this season with joy, is the position of assistant gymnastics coach at the high school my boys attend. I will continue to be the head coach at the middle school where I teach, as the seasons are separate, so I am able to participate in both.

Mom, despite the enormous blow to her health that none of us had anticipated, is a resilient fighter. Her perseverance is paying off, as she is able to walk around with a walker well, and continues to gain strength and work tirelessly to rebuild that which was compromised. We are eagerly awaiting our visit in a few days to celebrate the season with her.

May the grace of God be poured out upon each of you this most wonderful season, as you take pause and reflect on His goodness and grace. Merry Christmas, and blessings of peace to all!

 

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

 

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

Born As Blessed News

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” – (Luke 2:11-12, NIV)

“Today your Savior was born in David’s town. He is the Messiah, the Lord. This is how you will know Him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box.” – (Luke 2:11-12, ERV)

“Today, in the city of David, a Liberator has been born for you! He is the promised Anointed One, the Supreme Authority! You will know you have found Him when you see a baby, wrapped in a blanket, lying in a feeding trough.” – (Luke 2:11-12, VOICE)

 

The good news announced more than two-thousand years ago, is still the good news that we celebrate today. That baby, announced the Messiah and Lord at birth, grew and made His power known. He did this not be demanding reverence and obedience, but rather through living and loving in a way that made His peace, power and provision visible and tangible, so that we might understand His heart for us. Being a visual learner, I try to imagine what it might have been like to take in such an incredible announcement from an enormous angel, hear praise from the angelic hosts, and then attempt to find a swaddled baby, lying in a manger. Were there many families with farm animals and feed boxes in Nazareth? How did the shepherds know where to go? I know there was a star, but I imagine that is what made the way to Nazareth clear for the wise men, not so much the final details once in town. Maybe it was small enough that the shepherds (and later the wise men) could simply ask where the couple was that were staying out with the animals and just birthed a baby. No matter how the minute details of history unfolded, I am forever grateful that they did. May we all look at the truth told so many centuries ago, that transformed hearts and lives in such a way, that we may all access the holy, living God, personally.

 

The Light of the world, And the Word Became Flesh

Entered our darkness;

Humbly He was born,

To make right our mess.

His love restores hope,

Grants strength to the weak;

Brings peace where it’s not,

As we choose to seek.

Holy announcement,

By grace, entered in;

Born Lord and Savior,

To take away sin.

Willingly He died,

So we’d come to know;

Salvation, free life,

Love that nurtures growth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and love that sent Your one and only Son to earth as an infant, so that we would see what it is to live and love and grow in You without sin. Thank You that Jesus modeled the sort of life that we are called to lead, as He loved people without limits. Forgive us for the times that we do not live or love like You. Teach us to trust You more, as we recall the sacrifices made on our behalf to bring us life everlasting. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for the gift of Your presence this most holy season. Amen.

 

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

 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

Strength and Peace Supplied

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) 

 

In this busy season, where the chaos often leaves us feeling depleted, God is faithful to strengthen and grant peace to those who seek and depend on Him. He is gracious and kind, and is our ever-present Prince of Peace, if only we allow Him room. So often, when I cannot fathom how I am going to get through an intensely long week, His strength is provided and I am able to look back and recognize the places where He made His peace present and His provision, tangible. May we all seek the Lord and His strength, as He is our Source and Supply and in whom we find peace is present. 

 

O Lord, make us strong, The Heart of a Shepherd

When we’re feeling weak; 

Please grant unto us, 

Your glorious peace. 

For in Your presence, 

We have all we need; 

The strength to press on, 

And follow Your lead. 

May we come to know, 

The light of Your grace; 

As You love us well, 

Both now and always. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Source of strength and peace. Forgive us for seeking what You freely give, anywhere other than from You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You in all things and at all times to provide all that we need. Show us how to love those around us in a way that strengthens and supplies peace in places 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 our peace, and give You praise for Your faithful provision. Amen.

 

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

 

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

 

 

Wonderful Counselor

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. – (Revelation 21:4, NLT) 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain. All the old ways are gone. – (Revelation 21:4, ERV) 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and eliminate death entirely. No one will mourn or weep any longer. The pain of wounds will no longer exist, for the old order has ceased. – (Revelation 21:4, TPT) 

 

Yesterday, as my pastor continued in our current series, “The Light Has Come”, he spoke about our Wonderful Counselor in Jesus. As he unpacked several things about Jesus as our “Wonderful Counselor”, he included the original meaning of the words in Greek. Wonderful, as used in Isaiah and in its first appearance after God parted the Red Sea when Moses celebrated in a song of praise, the word means “beyond wonder”. Counselor means “guide with purpose”. Our Wonderful Counselor is always available, always aware, and always answers, as He guides with purpose in a way that is beyond wonder. With that in mind, there is no question as to why we are called to seek the Lord in all things and at all times. The hope we hold in Him reminds us that all of our present pain will pass away, as He tends to our every sorrow. This is an excellent encouragement after a week of sorrow and loss. God is faithful, and He will meet us, hear us and guide us in His goodness and grace, as we seek Him, our Wonderful Counselor. 

 

Almighty, our God, All Things Made New

Promised Prince of Peace; 

Soother of sorrow, 

Where grace is released. 

He’s beyond wonder, 

How He loves and guides; 

Provides future hope, 

As we choose abide. 

Run to the Father, 

His love always hears; 

Faithful, He’ll answer, 

All who choose draw near. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have the blessed hope that one day all death, sorrow and pain will pass away, and Your new will come. Thank You that in the in-between time, You are our Wonderful Counselor, ever available, aware and faithful to answer. Forgive us for our lack of faith, or for seeking counsel anywhere other than You first. Thank You that You provide people to come alongside us as Your hands, heart and voice, making Your grace tangible. Show us how to love others in a way that does just that – extends Your hands, heart and voice to those needing Your love made visible in dark and sorrowful spaces. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek and rely on You to be our Wonderful Counselor in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

 

 

The Heart of a Shepherd

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. – (Luke 2:16-18, NIV)

 

I am continuing to revisit and ponder the story of the shepherds and the role that God called them to play when Jesus was born. Not only were they the first people to witness the miracle of His birth, but they were also the first to share the good news of His long-awaited arrival. These “lowly” shepherds understood the significance of Who was lying in the manger before them, so they went out and shared with others, the awe and wonder that they had just beheld. Rather than being repelled by these shepherds, people were amazed at what they heard. What had been foretold so long ago, had finally come to pass. I imagine it was the hope that had been missing, finally being spoken aloud. Today, it is no different. For so many, hope is absent, and the need to know about or be reminded of the arrival and the reason for the season, is critical. People who normally would be repelled by an invitation to hear, are receptive and willing to partake in candlelight services and “traditional” Christmas activities where the truth about Christmas is told. May we each have the heart of a shepherd and embrace the hope that we know, so that we too are eager to share this hope with those who need it most.

 

The shepherds who watched, The Heart of a Shepherd

Their flocks through the night;

Were by God chosen,

To see first His light.

The angel declared,

What they could go see;

As God had come down,

For you and for me.

The shepherds, they ran,

To find as they’d heard;

In awe and wonder,

They witnessed God’s word.

This amazing sight,

The glory beheld;

Led them to go out,

And of this news tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show the least of us Your glory in incredible ways, and give us the grace to share with others, the beauty of Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You came down and made Yourself approachable and tangible to ordinary people. Forgive us for thinking that we have to be anything other than ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to show us how to love as You love each of us. Help us to make You accessible to many through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate in awe and wonder, the incredible gift You gave us through Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6