Giving God Room

“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)

 

This is the season where it seems that everyone begins to feel a bit weary and burdened with life. Perhaps it is due to shorter days with less light, colder weather, more demands as the year draws to a close; whatever the case may be, the blessing of time off that covers Christmas and into the New Year, is both welcome and needed. Currently, I am in Oregon, spending time with Mom, as my sister and her family were able to get away for a much-needed family vacation. Rest comes in various forms, and despite being wide awake before five this morning, I slept well and feel rested. My sister and her family had a bit of a debacle with their plane departing and a missed connecting flight, so they arrived to their destination less than an hour ago, when they were scheduled to arrive late last evening. Today, at noon, they will attend my brother-in-love’s alma mater’s bowl game. Perhaps the rest and refreshment for them will come in the form of love, laughter and shared stories, after having successfully navigated the crazy frustration of last evening. Sometimes the rest we need for our lives is more for our heart and soul, than for our body. Often, I am most refreshed after a long run or a vigorous hike, despite that seeming counter-intuitive to rest. Rest is really a matter of being aware of God’s presence, wherever we are, and allowing His peace to permeate our entire being. It is a laying down of the weight we are carrying and giving God room to take over and be the One in charge, as He is far better at it than we are. We are all wired differently, and He grants rest to each of us, individually, as we seek Him. May we each go to God in our weariness, and allow Him room to grant us His rest.

As for Mom, it is wonderful to be with her! She is amazing me with her resilience and willingness to do the hard work. Yesterday afternoon we needed to look for a cane for her next step in physical therapy, and Mom was ready to go. I anticipated taking her in her wheelchair, as that is what I have known for outings that required potential long walks with many people around, but Mom said, “no, the walker is fine.” By golly, she totally did it too! We made our way into the store, found what we needed, paid in the pharmacy (no lines!) and returned to the car without incident. We were not fast, but she did it well. After dinner we worked on her speech homework together, and giggled quite a bit. Before long, we were wiped out and ready to call it a day. Both of us slept well, and I actually woke up before Mom.

 

When you are weary, wp-15775437741204257769910717152582.jpg

And in need of rest;

Pursue the Lord God,

For He provides best.

He knows what we need,

Far better than us;

Our heart, soul and mind,

His grace helps adjust.

Where things are heavy,

He’ll carry the load;

Take us by the hand,

On challenging roads.

For things of the heart,

He blesses with peace;

Grants love and laughter,

Ease burden’s release.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You, no matter what shape we are in. Thank You that when we are weary, You grant us Your rest. When we are burdened, You lighten our load or grant us the strength needed to sustain us. Forgive us for attempting to shoulder heaviness on our own, or power through when we need rest. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our great Provider. Show us how to love those around us in practical and tangible ways, so that they may experience rest and a lightening of their burdens when we draw near. Help them to see that it is You in us that loves well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your provision of rest and relief when we are weary and burdened. Amen.

 

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

 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. – Psalm 62:5

Forget Not the Blessings

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy Name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits. – (Psalm 103:1-2, NIV)

My soul, praise the Lord! Every part of me, praise His holy Name! My soul, praise the Lord and never forget and kind He is! – (Psalm 103:1-2, ERV)

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless His holy Name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! – (Psalm 103:1-2, MSG)

 

David so often has exactly the right words to express my heart in each season. This morning, I find my heart fixed on praise, as I prepare to spend six days and five nights with my Mom in Oregon. His kindness has afforded me the exact job to allow for the time off in just the right season, so that I am able to go and be with her. Additionally, He directed the steps between my sister and myself, so that we could coordinate timing best, minimizing time missed coaching, and maximizing quality vacation time for she and her family. Another blessing included in this time, is that my husband and boys will come for the weekend to celebrate Christmas together with Mom. Our tradition of family Christmas all together is being sustained, despite the different locale. God is so kind, and from head to toe I cannot help but praise Him. He loves with kindness and grace, and repeatedly shows us His goodness and love. May we ever remember the kindness of God and bless His holy Name.

As for Mom, she is continuing with her out-patient therapies. I am eager to be the one to take her to her appointments and see the progress she is making, and witness the work that they have her do to further regain strength and mobility. She is looking forward to our visit, as we have not had so many days in a row together since summer. I know she is eager to see her grandsons too. It will be a wonderful time of togetherness, and we are all praising God for the opportunity to gather.

 

My soul, praise the Lord,

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Christmas together 2018, looking forward to 2019 memories this weekend.

With all my being;

I thank You, O God,

For countless blessings.

In space of despair,

Always God, You hear;

You comfort and bless,

As You choose draw near.

Your grace overwhelms,

Your goodness exceeds;

You bless us beyond,

What we merely need.

Your kindness unmatched,

As well as Your grace;

May we ever choose,

Lift to You all praise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the way that You love us so well. Thank You that You meet us where we are, and love us with kindness and grace, blessings and benefits beyond what we could ever imagine. Thank You that You are a good, good Father. Forgive us for not always giving You the praise that is due. Teach us to recognize the blessings that You bestow upon us, and flood our entire beings with praise for You, as You are the giver of light and life, hope and love. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may extend the same sort of blessings to others that You so lavishly pour out upon us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lift all thanks and praise unto You, and remember the incredible kindness and blessings that You bestow upon us all. Amen.

 

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

 

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

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

No Room for Them

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. 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 2:4-7, NIV)

 

This portion of the Christmas story seemed to strike a new chord within my heart this past week, as my pastor pointed out the scandal and outrage that would have been associated with an unwed woman expecting a child who was engaged to a man with whom she had no intimate relations. Joseph came from the house of David. His heritage was quite significant, and his family name was likely known. Everyone was expected to return to the place of their familial ties for the census, so it is quite conceivable that Joseph had numerous relatives who were also traveling to Bethlehem at the same time. Under normal circumstances, a family would have traveled and stayed together, yet Mary and Joseph made the journey alone. Their isolation leads me to believe that they were being shunned by the family, and left to their own devices to survive. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, they were unable to find a proper place to stay. What I found intriguing is that each version of scripture that I read, says that “there was no room for them. This leads me to believe that perhaps there was room, but they were turned away because of societal standards, and left stranded and a bit desperate. Who was the inn keeper who did at last show some compassion, and at least allow the pair shelter as the time drew near for Mary to give birth? It is both incredible and admirable to think of Mary and Joseph and all that they must have gone though, just to get to the stable birth. Additionally, the thought of the two of them having to deliver the Son of God in their surroundings is overwhelming. She was quite young and he was a carpenter; nothing in their life experience had likely prepared them for what they endured, other than the very presence of God with them. May we continue to ponder with awe and wonder, the miracle of God with us, this most holy season.

 

Hard was the journey, No Room for Them

To travel alone;

This chosen couple,

So far from their home.

Upon arrival,

No room granted them;

Just a small stable,

In old Bethlehem.

The time had arrived,

For the babe be born;

Courage delivered,

Wrapped Him in cloths torn.

No isolation,

Could stand in God’s way;

Strength to them granted,

Right there in the hay.

Though they’d been alone,

It did not last long;

For angelic hosts,

Announced this with song.

The shepherds they came,

They followed the light;

In awe and wonder,

On that holy night.

The baby swaddled,

God’s very own Son;

The faith of this pair,

God’s will had been done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the miracle and wonder that surrounds the story of You sending Your Son to us as a baby, in humble beginnings, to make Him approachable to all. Thank You for showing us Your faithfulness through the hearts of the people that were part of Your story, and modeled what it is to trust in You. Forgive us for forgetting the depth of Your love that sent Your Only Son to us so that we could have life in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would pause and ponder in wonder, the miracle and the majesty of all that You have done. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives insight and understanding to Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your story to fill our hearts and minds this Christmas. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

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

 

 

Faithful the Shepherds

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – (Luke 2:8-10, NIV)

 

For many of us, this is a very familiar passage in scripture. Every Christmas, for as far back as I can remember, I have heard this passage in Luke, and imagined the angel appearing to the shepherds at night, and then the shepherds making their way to see the newborn Jesus after standing in the splendor of the choir of heavenly hosts. However, I had never really wondered why the shepherd? Yesterday, my pastor unpacked the history of this passage in a way that made me ponder the message long beyond the time seated in service. Why would God make such an important announcement to those whom society considered the lowly and unclean? Additionally, how intriguing that the space where our Savior lay, was familiar and comfortable to the shepherds, rather than some palace or huge house that they would be too intimidated to approach… God does not call the equipped, but rather He equips the called. The shepherds were faithful and fearless to do the job in their fields at night, so why not use those very same traits for more? There is so much more to the story, and I am barely scratching the surface. (Click here for the link to the podcast) My greatest take-away was the gift of more – a glimpse at more of the story, more insight, more understanding, and even more to be grateful for as we celebrate this most holy season. May the God of all peace reveal more of Himself to us all this blessed Christmas season.

 

Faithful the shepherds, Faithful the Shepherds

Watching flocks by night;

When an angel showed,

Gave them a good fright.

The first words spoken,

“Do not be afraid,

For good news I bring;

Of where Jesus lay.”

The babe long promised,

Had at last arrived;

Hope for all people,

Salvation alive.

Faithful the shepherds,

Who went on their way;

To see this baby,

In a manger lay.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not call the equipped, but rather You equip the called. Thank You that You use the most unlikely of us to do incredible things, simply because we are willing. Thank You for Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for our fearfulness and stubbornness when things before us seem impossible. Teach us to trust You more, as You are God and we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shines Your goodness and grace in a way that makes love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and thank You for the greatest gift ever given. Amen.

 

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

 

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

A Christmas Prayer

I pray that God, the Source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, NLT)

I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in Him. Then you will have more and more hope, and it will flow out of you by the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, ERV)

Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in Him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with His super-abundance until you radiate with hope! – (Romans 15:13, TPT)

 

Christmas is a season that reminds us of the hope that we hold in our hearts, and grants opportunities to be refreshed in joy and peace as dear ones gather to celebrate. For many, peace is elusive and joy seems hard to find. Too often the weight of the world rests on the shoulders of those whom were never meant to bear it, and the burdens of life create a barrier to the hope they once held dear. Our charge, as those who are holding fast to this hope, is to allow His joy and peace to flow from us to all whom we meet. It is in each encounter where joy and peace are shared, that glimpses of hope are given, and often reignited in the hearts of those who have lost sight of what they once knew. May we go forth in perfect peace as we trust our Provider, and spread joy because of the hope that we hold close in our hearts.

 

This Christmas I pray, A Christmas Prayer

That the God of peace;

Will renew all hope,

And fresh joy, release.

As we choose to trust,

He comes alongside;

Fills those completely,

Who in Him abide.

Let us draw nearer,

His power receive;

Hope shall overflow,

In all who believe.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You alone are our Source of hope, and You fill us with Your joy and peace when we trust in You. Thank You that these things You give to us are not only for us, but You fill us to overflowing, so that those around us may find hope, joy and peace as well. Forgive us for not trusting You completely when our circumstances seem hopeless. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, as You are the Overcoming One, who is our hope, no matter what we see. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads joy and peace, and extends hope where hope has grown dim. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our Hope and grant us Your joy and peace. Amen.

 

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

 

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

Strength that Endures with Joy

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy. – (Colossians 1:11, NLT)

We pray that God will strengthen you with His own great power, so that you will be patient and not give up when troubles come. Then you will be happy. – (Colossians 1:11, ERV)

We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul – not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy. – (Colossians 1:11, MSG)

 

As I gear up for the final week before Christmas break, I find much comfort in this verse from Colossians. I am reminded again of from Whom my strength comes, and that there is joy as we press on with patience along our journey. My job already requires more patience than I could ever muster on my own, yet God, in His great power, will provide more as it is needed. He will give us strength that goes beyond grit, and His eyes to see the good that comes from seeking His help as we go. May we seek the Lord for His strength and endurance, so that we walk through this season in joy.

 

The God of all strength, Joy to the World

Will give what we need;

His love and His grace,

In joy, they will lead.

So seek the good Lord,

Patience to endure;

He’s ever faithful,

Our hope is secure.

As we go in grace,

And strength He employs;

We’re able to rise,

And go forth with joy.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your strength and grace that supply the endurance and patience that we need to navigate whatever comes our way. Thank You that as we seek You, You hear us and answer in Your love. Forgive us for not relying on You for what we need, and trying to gut out the trials rather than seeking You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would come to You for all that we need, recognizing that You alone are our true Source. Show us how to love others well, so that we may extend patience, grace and kindness in a way that fills hearts with Your joy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth in Your strength and embrace the joy that You supply along our journey. Amen.

 

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

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filed with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. – Psalm 28:7

Working On Our Why

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. – (Colossians 3:23, NLT)

Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. – (Colossians 3:23, CEB)

Put your heart and soul into every activity you do, as though you are doing it for the Lord Himself and not merely for others. – (Colossians 3:23, TPT)

 

What a perfect reminder on a Monday following a long, holiday weekend. This final push prior to Christmas, takes some serious digging deep. However, it is so good to remember Who we are ultimately working for – in all things, all that we do should be unto the Lord. If we keep that in proper perspective, there is an urgency in our call to action as we rise and return to work this morning. Whatever our job or position, we are called with purpose, and have things to accomplish unto Him. No matter what we do, we can work as unto the Lord. If it is teaching, be it with kindness and grace; if it is serving or helping or leading, let patience and goodness reign – in all things, whatever we do, may His love be evident as we commit ourselves to working as unto Him.

 

May we choose to work, Generous Giving

In all that we do;

As unto the Lord,

So His love shines through.

When heart and soul,

Are in what we do;

Our best is put forth,

And grace is renewed.

In everything,

Our best for the Lord;

So His love light shines,

And peace is outpoured.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the reminders of truth that You give us in Your word. Thank You that ultimately, we are not working for people, but rather unto You. Forgive us for approaching anything that we do with an attitude that is less than our best. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would do all things as unto You. Show us how to love those around us as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we do all that we do, unto You, giving our very best. Amen.

 

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

 

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

The Treasures of Christmas

But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. – (Luke 2:19, NLT)

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, NIV)

 

Mary, the one whom God chose to bear the Savior of the world, experienced wonders and miracles both before Jesus was born, and throughout His lifetime. I love how Luke points out that Mary made a point to treasure each event in her heart and remember what the Lord had done, as this is how a mama’s heart is wired. As my own children have transitioned from baby, to toddler, to children and now into teenagers, I too, have treasured the moments of significance in my heart, and likewise, I think of the moments and movements of God often. Christmas is the gift of God with us. Heaven came to earth so that we would know the wonder of Christ’s nearness, rather that God out there. Though we may not all be mamas, we all have moments and miracles to keep in our hearts and think about often. May we take time today to celebrate God with us, and the glorious gift that came to us so that we could have life everlasting as we remember the reason for this sacred season. Merry Christmas, and may your heart ponder the treasures He has given and continues to give.

 

When Love made way down,

O Holy Night

image by Rick Larson

From heaven to earth;

Such glory beheld,

In Christ’s sacred birth.

Though in modest scene,

No crib for a bed;

Jesus came to save,

And peace and love spread.

Just as His mother,

Held dear in her heart;

May we hold moments,

Of Love from the start.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son so that Love could come close. Thank You that Mary modeled the importance of keeping close to our hearts, all that You have done in us and for us and through us. Forgive us for not paying attention or for not recognizing the significance of all that You do. Teach us how to treasure each moment that You give us. Show us how every movement and moment matters to You. Help us to love as You love, so that people may see Your heart through the way that we love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we treasure all that You have done, and think about these things often. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6