Endings and Beginnings

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word. – (Psalm 119:114, NIV)

You are my refuge and my shield; Your word is my source of hope. – (Psalm 119:114, NLT)

You are my hiding place and my shield of protection; I hope in Your word. – (Psalm 119:114, VOICE)

 

Though David often had need for the Lord to be his literal hiding place, there were times too, that he needed his heart to be covered and “hidden” by God. For me, that is more often the space that I find myself in. When the cares of my circumstances become overwhelming or seem far too heavy to bear, it is in that space that I need seek Christ to cover my heart with His, as He is my place of refuge and a shield about me. He renews my hope with the truth of His word and reminds me anew of who He is. Today, I am being granted the gift of time with my boys as they prepare to leave for a ten-day cruise with the Sea Scouts. I had hoped and prayed for a way to get home to help them pack and prepare and send them off, and God has been faithful to provide faithful friends for such a time as this, so that I could do exactly that and know that mom is in great hands and comfortable in my brief absence.

Yesterday was an incredible day to end mom’s therapies in Washington. As she met with Nick, her physical therapist, he had me guide mom through the paces of navigating her front steps with her hemi-walker. Giving her verbal cues and only keeping a hand touching her low back to remind her that I was present if there was a need, she was able to go down the steps, walk some steps in the grass, turn around, and then return up the stairs. It was the very first time since her stroke that mom had set foot on grass, and after Nick left, she could not stop the tears from falling. For her, it was yet another mile-marker that reminded her that hope is tangible and that she is truly making progress. A few hours later, mom had her final session with Susan, her speech therapist. The beautiful thing about speech therapy is that there is much opportunity to visit, as word recall is largely called forth through conversation. Time flew by, and goodbyes were difficult. Lastly, a bit later in the afternoon, was Larissa, mom’s occupational therapist. Larissa went to great lengths to make certain that we had a solid plan in place for ongoing exercises and stretches for mom to be doing daily during the gap time between now and when therapies begin in Oregon. She has been innovative and kind, and has gone above and beyond to help research and facilitate mom’s needs. As she was leaving, she refused to call it goodbye, but rather a “see you later.” Each of mom’s therapists parted ways with mom with hugs and words of well-wishes, encouraging her and letting her know how much they had loved working with her and how much they would miss her. Mom has a way of winning folks over quickly, and once she has, she is not forgotten. My hope and prayer now, is that she will find the same to be true of her new therapists in Oregon, and that she will discover a new community with which to connect during her season in that space. God has always been her refuge, and I trust that He will continue to provide her hope and tangible evidence of His faithfulness.

 

My refuge and shield, 08011905054602014993045993958.jpg

Where all hope is found;

The God of all grace,

Your word’s always sound.

You grant me safety,

And You cover me;

My heart is hidden,

In You, lovingly.

Hidden from the things,

That make me choose fear;

Blind to Your presence,

As You’re ever near.

Help us ever seek,

The light of Your grace;

For goodness is found,

Following Your ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our safety and our refuge, and that we can ever find hope in Your word. Thank You that You are present to help and protect and provide. Forgive us for our fearfulness in the unsteady or the unknown. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers peace and grace and safety. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust and hope in You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:2

The Mountains We Are Called to Climb

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights. – (Habakkuk 3:19, NIV)

The Lord gives me my strength. He helps me run fast like a deer. He leads me safely on the mountains. – (Habakkuk 3:19, ERV)

The Lord God is my strength; He will give me the speed of a deer and bring me safely over the mountains. – (Habakkuk 3:19, TLB)

 

Each translation of this verse speaks to my heart on a different level to encourage and reassure, reminding me of God’s faithfulness forever. Yesterday, was a powerful and uplifting boost for both mom and me. We each were blessed with a visit from our besties. Incredibly, I was able to coordinate with both ladies, a visit at the same time, so that each of us could benefit from the boost that a best friend visit brings. While mom and June were talking and laughing, Robin and I stole away for a walk-and-talk. For me, this was two-fold, as I am a creature who needs to get outside and move, and I was desperately needing time to connect and process with my bestie. Walking and talking in this gorgeous setting fulfilled both needs, and strengthened my soul. Interestingly, as we walked, we were joined by a sweet pup, who clearly was in need of companionship to enjoy a wander as well. Our escort dog acted a bit as a guardian, as she would run ahead, seemingly check out the area, and then return to us, as if to say that all was safe for us to continue on. We actually wondered if she was part deer or mountain goat, as the sweet pup was extraordinarily sure-footed on the hillside and steep terrain that surrounded us. As I pondered the verse above, there are so many parallels between this road we are “walking” and how God works to keep our footing secure and give us strength. Though it is clear that mom’s journey to recovery and rehabilitation after the stroke is similar to climbing a mountain, she also lives in a home, nestled in the foothills. Safety is paramount along this journey, and God has been faithful to continue to protect and strengthen us each as we travel this unknown path. Our day ended early yesterday, as both mom and I fell asleep in the comfy living room chairs, as we attempted to watch a movie. We determined that she ought to watch in her bed instead, as I finished up a quick load of laundry and took care of my phone calls home. We both slept well, with a two-hour stretch, followed by a five-hour stretch, from which she is sleeping still. God is good, as He grants us strength and makes our footing secure on this mountain to which we have been called to climb.

 

The Lord is our strength,img_20190607_161828_5992541206184016162390.jpg

Makes our path secure;

Enables our feet,

To tread without fear.

He brings us safely,

To the other side;

Where pastures are green,

And rivers run wide.

All that we shall need,

The Lord does supply;

We simply need trust,

On God, choose rely.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not leave us when we reach mountains that we are meant to climb. Thank You that You are the One who provides all of the gear, the guidance, the strength and security we need to safely travel the path You provide. Forgive us for the times that we only see a sheer face, rather than the path and provisions that You supply to make the difficult possible. Teach us to trust You more; for when we pause and look back from when we have come, we are able to marvel at the view. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages, strengthens and comes alongside those around us in a way that helps each person persevere on the path You have placed before them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength and security as we climb life’s mountains with You. Amen.

 

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

 

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – Psalm 119:105

Tangible Blessings

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)

 

This morning, as I slept in nearly three hours more than usual, I am acutely aware of God’s goodness. Hot coffee on my comfy couch, as I soak in His presence and dive into His word. Seeing daylight flood the room, rather than needing to illuminate the typical darkness of the early hours, I give thanks for the blessings in my life. Part of me was wishing that I too, like many of my friends and colleagues, was off for an escape to a warm location for the week. However, the more I thought about it, the more I can see that this week is an opportunity to get some things completed, and to rest and enjoy my family. Time to both connect and explore, and to retreat and rest, at home without an agenda. Each new day is a gift, and the surroundings in our area are clear evidence of God’s incredible goodness and grace. May we ever give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, as we taste and see the abundance of His blessings when we depend on Him each day.

 

Choose to make the time, img_2019-04-08_07-26-547644472782879619826.jpg

To look ‘round and see;

All of God’s goodness,

His blessings, indeed.

Graced with His presence,

Fresh start each new day;

Strength to choose follow,

To walk in His way.

Rest when we’re weary,

As God we pursue;

Goodness surrounding,

As He makes all new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need only open our eyes, to see the blessings all around us. Thank You for Your goodness and grace that provides rest and strength and hope. Forgive us for not slowing down to appreciate all that You have done, are doing, and will continue to do in our lives. Thank You that You are God and we are not. Teach us to bring all before You, and to rest in Your lavish love. Show us how to love those around us, so that they too, might taste and see how very good You are. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for all of our days, for the beautiful blessings to behold in You. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure. – Psalm 16:9

Shared Strength in the Struggle

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. – (Galatians 6:2, NLT)

Help each other with your troubles. When you do this, you are obeying the law of Christ. – (Galatians 6:2, ERV)

Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each other’s troubles. – (Galatians 6:2, TPT)

 

Yesterday was just one of those days. From my own children fighting on the way to school and work, to students struggling behaviorally all day long, by the time the bell rang to signify the close of the school day, I was exhausted. A few colleagues extended kind and encouraging words as I sought solutions to make preparations to alleviate the difficulties that I could control within my own classroom. Upon returning home, I was greeted by listening ears, that were supportive and solution-oriented. The boys all had work or activities to occupy their evening, so a bonus date night was bestowed upon me. Treasured time to relax and connect were exactly what my heart needed most, and the burden that had weighed so heavily upon me at the end of my school day, had now been lifted and replaced with fresh resolve. Love, help and support make a world of difference to the bearer of burdens, and doing such, is walking in obedience to Christ. May we ever extend help or a listening ear to those who are struggling, for doing so lightens the load and is an act of loving obedience, according to God’s good and perfect will.

 

May we choose to walk,10221815182971527373307308191.jpg

With eyes open wide;

Aware of struggles,

And come alongside.

Draw near to hurting,

Burdened or in need;

Help carry the weight,

Let the Lord’s love lead.

For as we draw near,

To help each other;

Burdens become light,

And grace discovered.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are not meant to carry burdens nor struggle alone. Thank You for the people whom You place in our lives that come along side us, and those whom we are meant to walk beside. Forgive us for not reaching out to those we see in the struggle, or for pretending all is well when it is not. Teach us to trust You more, as You are greater than any difficulty we face, and You never leave us nor forsake us. Show us how to love, support and encourage those around us in a way that lightens the load they are bearing. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we both reach out to give and readily receive Your mercy that is new every morning. Amen.

 

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

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. – Psalm 68:19

 

 

Restoring Joy

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – (Psalm 51:12, NIV)

Your help made me so happy. Give me that joy again. Make my spirit strong and ready to obey You. – (Psalm 51:12, ERV)

Let my passion for life be restored, tasting joy in every breakthrough You bring to me. Hold me close to You with a willing spirit that obeys whatever You say. – (Psalm 51:12, TPT)

 

Currently, I am on our Sisterhood Retreat with my church. It is a time for the ladies to gather, connect, worship and grow together. Interestingly, it seems that each time there is intentional gathering to connect, the very words of this verse come to life for those who had been walking in a dry and weary place. We have been created for relationships. God intended that we not walk the path set before us, alone. He is gracious and kind, and provides people to surround and walk beside us, if we are only willing to invest and allow others in. Part of maintaining a passion and a joy in who God has created us to be and our ability to obey what He asks, come from the strength we gain through the blessing of being connected. I have found that this applies in every area of my life, be it at home, work, church, my neighborhood, the community or any other place I find Him leading.  The more invested and connected I am, the more my joy remains, despite the circumstances that come and go. May we ever seek the Lord to restore and uphold the joy of our salvation, and lead us to the connections that encourage and strengthen us as we walk out each day.

 

Oh Lord, may we come, fb_img_15400123159817887031286001252606.jpg

With hearts seeking You;

Restore unto us,

Your joy that is true.

Joy that is lasting,

Despite ups and downs;

A heart that’s certain,

Of Your rightful crown.

Make our hearts willing,

To trust and obey;

Surround us with those,

Seeking do the same.

O Lord, You are good,

All joy’s found in You;

Restore any space,

That need be renewed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us unto Yourself so that we may know the depth of joy found in a hope and future in You. Thank You that You have created us for relationships and You provide us opportunities to invest and deepen them as we pursue the path that You have placed before us. Forgive us for not seeking You to restore our joy when it feels lost, or for retreating when You call us to move boldly and invest in those whom You have placed around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be routinely restored as we walk in obedience to all that You ask. Show us how to love those around us in a way that strengthens and spreads joy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to restore and uphold the joy we have in our hope in You, and strengthen our relationships as we willingly step out and obey that which You ask of us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick 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 filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. – Psalm 28:7

Called to Press On

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 3:14, NIV)

The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 3:14, CEB)

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. – (Philippians 3:14, NLT)

 

Any time I near the end of something that has taken time and perseverance, I am reminded of the ultimate end goal in mind. In education, the reward for finishing each academic year is a glorious break that grants opportunity to rest, recover and become refreshed, before workshops, training, classes, meetings and classroom set-up begin again for the following year. This gift of time grants freedom to connect with family and friends, and to catch up on the things that there is no time to do during the school year. As today will mark the beginning of “lasts” (the last Thursday, we end next Wednesday), I am reminded anew to press on to what I have been called to do, for the prize is worth the price. Just as our perseverance through a school year leads to the glorious break during July, so too does a life in pursuit of God and following His ways, leads to a life in heaven for all eternity. In as much as summer is so near that I can hear it calling my name, I am blown away when I consider what heaven will be like, as it says, “For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like You, who works for those who wait for Him!” (Isaiah 64:4) and “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) I have an excellent imagination and have had the privilege of taking in some of the most breathtaking view the planet has to offer, and yet it says that those don’t even compare to what awaits… May we ever press on toward the finish according to the call that has been placed upon our lives, for the prize is well worth the work.

 

We’re called to press on, IMG_3459

To rise, finish strong;

To run well our race,

No matter how long.

For all who finish,

There shall be a prize;

Sweet glory bestowed,

As hope’s realized.

So, keep running hard,

To the finish line;

The prize is waiting,

Refreshing new life.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we press on to finish that to which we are called, there is a wonderful reward that awaits. Forgive us for allowing our weariness and frustration to get in the way of us doing the work we are called to do. Teach us to turn to You in trust, as You are our strength and refuge, no matter what obstacle comes our way. Show us how to love those around us so that we may support and encourage others as they are pressing in to finish the race to which they are called to run. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, each time we press on and run our race according to Your race plan. Amen.

 

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

 

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Quiet Faithful Work

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. – (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, NIV)

Do all you can to live a peaceful life. Mind your own business, and earn your own living, as we told you before. If you do these things, then those who are not believers will respect the way you live. And you will not have to depend on others for what you need. – (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, ERV)

Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts. We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders, not lying around sponging off your friends. – (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, MSG)

 

When we are peaceful and faithful to do what we are called and designed to do each day, people notice a difference and respect the way we live. We are not called to judge or determine the path another person is meant to take, but rather we are to love them where they are, as they are, and allow God to be God. May we ever pursue a quiet life of loving God and loving people as we go about our days doing the job to which we have been called and equipped to do.

 

Lord, help me to live,

A life led in peace;

Where love is the aim,

And control’s released.

Faith to Listen

Show me how to work,

Each day unto You;

Doing all I can,

To honor the truth.

Let how I choose live,

Gain other’s respect;

So that they desire,

With You to connect.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and love for each of us. Thank You that You call us to live a life of peace, working as if unto You. Thank You that as we do, people notice You in us. Forgive us for the times that we do not stay calm or choose to do things without considering those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You to be our peace in all that we do, and that You would equip us to work daily, as unto You. Show us how to love and encourage those around us, so that they recognize Your light within us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we work as unto You in peace. Amen.

 

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

 

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

Gather With Gladness

Every day they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. – (Acts 2:46, CEB)

The believers shared a common purpose, and every day they spent much of their time together in the temple area. They also ate together in their homes. They were happy to share their food and ate with joyful hearts. – (Acts 2:46, ERV)

 

I love the value that was placed on community in the early church. There is nothing that brings people together better than sharing a meal with joy and generosity. When those around us who are united in purpose come together as family, the joy that is discovered in fellowship over a meal is multiplied. Each summer, my church creates opportunity for family connect groups. These groups meet one evening a week for a meal at a host home during the month of August, as new friendships are discovered and relationships are formed. My first connect group of the year begins this evening, and I am reminded of the early church as I prepare to go. Though I know not who will be in attendance, I anticipate joy and gladness as we gather in grace to share a meal together. May we ever seek opportunities to gather together with those around us, and meet with others to share a meal with joy – as God so often uses such circumstances to form friendships He intended to occur all along.

 

Actively look for, Welcome Boxes 1

People that we know;

To join together,

So His grace may flow.

With hearts full of joy,

May we freely share;

What we’ve been given,

So all know You care.

May our hearts be filled,

As we share a meal;

Joy overflowing,

His way is ideal.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be in community. Thank You that You call us to continue to do what the early church did – to gather together to worship and to share meals and fellowship together. Forgive us for isolating ourselves and not plugging into the community to which we are called. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be willing to go where You call and invite others to share time and fellowship and food with us. Show us how to love well the people that You have placed in our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we gather together with gladness. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

The Peace that Comes

Yesterday was a difficult day. There was nothing in particular that made it so, yet it was just an “off” day. I didn’t feel well, nor rested, my back was bothering me quite a bit, and discouragement had found a foothold in my heart. I did the best I could to press in and press on, despite how I was feeling, but that nagging weight just would not lift. During my planning period at school, a friend and I were going to meet to review some student work. When we greeted one another, she recognized that I was not quite myself, and asked if I wanted to walk and talk instead. I of course said “Yes!“, so off we went.

It is remarkable how much the freedom of simply getting out and moving in the fresh air and sunshine does for my entire countenance. By the time we completed a large loop, I no longer felt weary, but energized, and was prepared to take on my final two classes, which happen to be my most challenging. His peace was restored, and gratitude was at the forefront of my mind.

At times, it takes another to remind us to get out and find the place from which we find our peace. When I move, I feel nearest to Him who is my peace. The air that I breathe, the ground on which I connect with every step – His handiwork.

 

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. – (Colossians 3:15, NLT)

 

May His peace be present with every breath that we take today, as we go forth in peace. Let gratitude fill our hearts and minds, as He is our reason for all goodness and grace.

 

No matter our plight,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

His hope is secured;

Peace comes from the Lord,

Where grace is assured.

All thanks be to God,

From whom blessings flow;

We are His body,

Let our praise be known.

When things are askew,

And nothing seems right;

Press into the Lord,

He’s for us, He’ll fight.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are for us, even when things feel like they are all against us. Thank You that we can turn to You in trust, and know that You are for us and not against us. Thank You that all peace comes from You, and because of who You are and how You love, we always have reason to give You thanks. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to dictate our gratitude, or lack thereof. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would praise You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love others as You so perfectly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our peace and give You our gratitude; always. Amen.

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

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

 

 

Seeking Solitary Spaces

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed. – (Mark 1:35)

Despite the crowds and the chaos that seemed to find and follow Him wherever He would go, Jesus found a way to make time to pray. He established time to connect and communicate with His Father. If Jesus was intentional to create time to connect with God, how much more so should we do the same? In today’s fast-paced world, it is not easy to find a solitary place to pray. We too, must be intentional with our time to make a place in our day for prayer. What I have discovered is that when I consistently make room, I find it is far easier to rise early and be focused than it ought to be, considering the chaos and lack of sleep that occurs some weeks. He is faithful to meet me each morning, as I make the decision to dedicate this solitary time to commune with Him and study His word. I have friends who are faithful to end each day in the same way. Where I would struggle to remain awake, they find themselves energized and encouraged. May we each embrace our own opportunities to seek solitary places to pray. For He is faithful to meet us each time we earnestly seek Him.

To seek a safe space,Believe Instead of Striving

where we are alone;

to come before God,

as He’s on His throne.

For in solitude,

our hearts shall be shown;

how great is His grace,

and the depth we’re known.

For as we choose pray,

seeds of faith are sown;

God’s Spirit waters,

and hope will have grown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can seek You in solitary places to pray, where distractions are far from us, and You meet us, and speak to our hearts. Thank You that You are faithful and loving, and that You encourage, instruct, redirect, and empower us as we pursue You in prayer. Forgive us for not being intentional to establish time with You. Teach us to trust You more with our time and space, so that we would be willing to do whatever it is You ask to create a time to be with just You. Thank You that You desire to spend time with us. Lead us to love others with a love that embraces hurting hearts and points people unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we seek solitary spaces with You to pray, so that we may be equipped to love as You love each day. Amen.

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

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16