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

Enduring Faithfulness

For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. – (Psalm 117:2, NIV)

He loves us very much! The Lord will be faithful to us forever! Praise the Lord! – (Psalm 117:2, ERV)

For His unfailing love is great, and it is intended for us, and His faithfulness to His promises knows no end. Praise the Eternal! – (Psalm 117:2, VOICE)

 

God’s faithfulness looks different in every family, yet it is present for all who seek His face. The hardest part for us in our humanity, is that His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts, above our own. What we see as something terrible and final, God sees as a starting point for something new. Yesterday, our family continued our typical adventuring on Friday, following Thursday’s feasting, and we left the house to find a change of scenery. We drove through the country a bit, taking in the green fields, snow-capped mountains in the distance, and the brilliant blue sky, until we reached our dining destination of mom’s choosing. Mom navigated the parking lot, restaurant and an errand afterward, all with her walker. She was on her feet and moving for many hours throughout the day. When we made our stop at Play it Again Sports on the way home, Mark and I hopped onto the giant rocking chair again to repeat a photo that we had taken two years prior. The photo again represents God’s faithfulness, as two years ago when he and his son joined us for Thanksgiving, it was in love and with positive intent toward the future, yet we were not yet engaged, and did not know all the good that God had in store for us together. Today, two years later, we have celebrated our first year of marriage together, purchased a home together, navigated and are still navigating serious health struggles with our parents, traveled, traversed trials, triumphs, and tragedies, and have been blessed to do so with the faithfulness of God in the center of it all. God knows our needs, and He is faithful to meet us when we seek Him. May we ever praise the Lord for His goodness and grace, and for His love that knows no end.

 

For great is the love,

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Our photographer has grown a bit in two years too. 😉

The Lord has for us;

Eternal is His,

Loving faithfulness.

God’s promises are,

For now and always;

All for us endures,

Throughout all our days.

Rise up and give praise,

To the Lord above;

Who’s always for us,

Forever with love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and that Your love endures forever. Thank You that Your faithfulness never ends. Thank You that Your promises are truth that we can trust in forever. Forgive us for our fearfulness and doubt when life takes terrifying turns or wanders in directions that we do not know how to navigate on our own. Teach us to turn in trust to You in all things, as You are the One who brings beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Show us how to love those around us through all things, in ways that offer hope, endurance, faithfulness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You forever for Your great love for us and for Your faithfulness that never ends. Amen.

 

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

 

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. – Deuteronomy 7:9

Train in Truth

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. – (1 Timothy 4:7, NIV)

People tell silly stories that don’t agree with God’s truth. Don’t follow what these stories teach. But teach yourself to be devoted to God. – (1 Timothy 4:7, ERV)

Be quick to abstain from senseless traditions and legends, but instead be engaged in the training of truth that brings righteousness. – (1 Timothy 4:7, TPT)

We live in a day and age where there is so much out there, vying for our attention, that if our heart and mind are not set secure in the truth of God, we will be pulled in so many directions that we will have no direction at all. God calls us to set our sights on Him, the author and finisher of our faith. As we do, we find our hearts and minds protected and directed away from the senseless things that would tempt our attention and cause fear and anxiety, rather than faith and trust in what is true. This is why it is so important that we know and understand the word of God. When His truth is rooted and established in our hearts, we are easily able to decipher what is true and from Him, and that which is not. May we ever invest time in the word of God, so that we may know and understand what is good, lovely, righteous and true.

As for a mom update: One of my favorite things is when I receive a text from Mom. Yesterday, just as I was leaving work to go run, I discovered a sweet “hello, I’m thinking of you” sort of message that made me wish even more, that mom was not such a long drive away. I gave her a call, and we were able to catch up on the day’s happenings, thus far. She is continuing to work hard, as the next step for her will be the transition to outpatient therapies, rather than in-home therapies that she is currently doing.

Follow not stories, The Word of God

Or legends or tales;

As how to live life,

In the end, they’ll fail.

For God is the truth,

The way and the light;

Our path provider,

He shows us what’s right.

In everything,

Seek God earnestly;

For He’ll point the way,

To live fruitfully.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Source and Provider. Thank You that Your word is truth. Thank You that as we seek You and invest time in Your word, You make Your path more plain to us. Forgive us for allowing our hearts or minds to be distracted by all of the things that vie for our attention that do not point us back to You. Teach us to seek You first, so that we may look through Your lens at all that is placed before us. Show us how to love well, all those whom are in our lives. Help us to be Your hands, feet, heart and voice to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and seek You and Your word to lead and guide us in the ways we are meant to go. Amen.

 

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

 

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:5

From Dawn to Dusk

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. – (Psalm 113:3, NIV)

May the Lord’s name be praised from where the sun rises to where it goes down. – (Psalm 113:3, ERV)

From the sunrise brilliance to sunset beauty, lift up His praise from dawn to dusk! – (Psalm 113:3, TPT)

 

When I see a gorgeous sunrise or sunset, I cannot help but be reminded of the One who is painting such perfection in the sky. Yesterday, in the early morning hours as we made our way to my Viking’s brother’s house, we viewed the beginning color shift of the early shades of sunrise. Watching my love and my brother-in-love enjoy time together filled my heart, as I know how wonderful it is for both of them to have time with one another. Additionally, I was blessed to have time with Bibi, the love of Donnie’s life, to get to know her better, and to begin planning ideas for a time that we can all get together again. The visiting, exchanging of stories and reminiscing continued until after sunset, and once everyone had gone home from their house-warming barbecue, the four of us were quietly seated in the living room, just soaking in the blessing of a fantastic day. This morning, as I woke and began the coffee, a gorgeous orange glow began to fill the kitchen. I glanced to my left out of the porch windows, and was blown away by the brilliance of the rising sun. God is so very good to us, and I love how He grants us reminders of His goodness all throughout the day. May we ever praise Him, from dawn to dusk.

Yesterday, I primarily put my phone away to be present and engaged in the here and now. However, I did take a moment to send mom a text to let her know that I was thinking of her and loved her, and that I was missing her. When I checked my phone a bit later, I found a return message from Mom, and enjoyed sending more back to her. My sister has been working with her on utilizing the voice to text feature, so I am hopeful that the process is growing easier. It is a strange space of separation to be so far away from Mom, especially for so long. I am looking forward to talking to her later today, and hopefully catching up with my sister too, as that is also long overdue. Prayers for Mom, Megan and the entire family are very welcome, as they all continue to navigate the juggling act of work, school, sports schedules, coordinating medical appointments, dealing with insurance, and loving each other well. Thank you so much, to those who have been faithfully praying and loving Mom and the entire family throughout this season; you are appreciated more than any of us can ever express.

 

With each brand-new day,

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This morning’s sunrise in Reno. ❤

Comes a fresh sunrise;

Faithful evidence,

Where hope’s realized.

All throughout the day,

And ‘til the sun sets;

God shows us His grace,

Through nature’s palettes.

The reasons to praise,

Are endless, indeed;

How great the Lord loves,

Faithful, He meets needs.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful from the rising to the setting of the sun. Thank You that we have reason to praise You all day long. Thank You for the abundant blessings that You place in our lives, if we only stop and look around. Forgive us for the times that we fix our eyes on what is wrong, rather than on that which is right. Teach us to trust You with the trials and to praise You for Your faithfulness in all things. Show us how to love and encourage all those around us, so that they may be lifted up. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You throughout the day for who You are and all that You do. Amen.

 

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

 

That’s why I will speak of Your righteousness and sing praises to You all day long. – Psalm 35:28

Undeterred Hope in the Unseen

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. – (Hebrews 11:1, ERV)

Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. – (Hebrews 11:1, TPT)

 

I am not sure if it was the fact that I was able to sleep through the night with zero wake-ups, or that I rose in time to watch the sunrise, but whatever the combination of factors, I feel a renewed sense of faith in my hope for what I cannot yet see. My faith in God’s goodness has not wavered, yet discouragement has been a struggle, as I am simply at a place of longing to be home with my family. By day, God provides all that I need to be fully present, engaged and focused with mom, yet in the quiet moments and when I try to sleep, I struggle with the absence and distance from my husband and children. Though I have not actually received definitive plans nor a specific date for mom’s move to Oregon, I have the assurance that it will transpire, and the confidence that this next step with be exactly what she needs to continue on her road to a full recovery. God is good, and He has good things in store for us all. He has the very best in mind for my mom, my sister and her family, and for me and my family as well.

Yesterday, mom and I had a leisurely morning, as nothing was scheduled until noon. Her speech appointment ended up starting a little behind schedule, but went very well. Immediately after, two friends of hers from church came for a visit. It was a wonderful time of reconnecting for all three of them, and a pleasure for me to witness. After their visit, mom was a bit worn, but determined that a Dutch Bros run was in order, not a nap. Who can argue with that logic? 😊 As usual, we soaked in the sunshine and scenery as we drove the back way into town, and stopped for a car wash on the way. Our outing brought us home in time to prepare dinner, watch a movie, and call it a day. A bonus blessing was that mom slept through the entire night! This was the first time she has done that in all of the time that I have been here, so I think that I am better rested than I have been in quite some time. Again, thank you so much to those of you praying for her sleep.

May we continue to have faith in the things hoped for, and trust, even when we cannot yet see how God will bring all to fruition.

 

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The things yet unseen;

Holding onto hope,

Through time in between.

It is confidence,

That God’s in control;

He’ll work things for good,

Make broken things whole.

He knows what we need,

Each cry of our heart;

He loves and blesses,

As grace He imparts.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace as You build our faith and confidence in You, even when we cannot see that which we hope for. Forgive us for the times that our faith wavers or our hope grows dim, based on what we see. Teach us to trust You more, as Your plans are perfect and You have good things in store for those who love You. Show us how to love those around us well, especially those stuck in the waiting for long awaited hopes to be realized. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You with confident hope, knowing that You are moving on our behalf, even when we cannot see evidence of Your hand. Amen.

 

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

 

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

Growing Love

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight. – (Philippians 1:9, NIV)

This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love. – (Philippians 1:9, ERV)

I continue to pray for your love to grow and increase beyond measure, bringing you into the rich revelation of spiritual insight in all things. – (Philippians 1:9, TPT)

 

Isn’t this honestly what we all need? As I return home later this morning and my sister takes the reigns here at mom’s, knowledge, understanding, revelation and insight are needed to best love those we are called to love, where we are called to love them. Though it is a bit easier to love our family members well, after long periods of separation there are likely to be challenges, hurts and misunderstandings. We need insight and a heart like Jesus, to love well, regardless of how our “re-entry” goes. Yes, I am eagerly anticipating time with my husband, boys, dear friends, and students, however, I do not expect it all to be a “bed of roses”. I anticipate hiccups and frustrations, especially after such a long-awaited return. My sister will likely endure similar struggles, as she has been eager to get back to mom, yet had to leave her husband and boys at home. There is new territory to navigate and a rhythm to discover, and it will not look nor feel the same as the one that mom and I have established. The time together will grant them each opportunity to grow even closer; as just yesterday, mom and I were discussing the blessing in this whole crazy catastrophe is that we have had more intentional quality time together over the last six weeks, than we have had in ages. We can communicate with looks and gestures, just as easily as with words. Laughter abounds in the house, and there is much joy, despite the challenges and frustrations in the long and arduous task of rehabilitation and recovery from a stroke.

Yesterday was a wonderful, busy day. The first order of business was occupational therapy. Elizabeth, her therapist, is working tirelessly to come up with ways to help mom regain movement and mobility in her right arm. Though the gains are slow and seemingly insignificant, Elizabeth’s enthusiasm and encouragement keep mom uplifted and ready to do the work for the long haul. Soon after her appointment, one of mom’s dearest friends from childhood and his wife came for a visit. The two of them are treasured friends, and mom was engaged and uplifted from time together. We had a mellow afternoon, full of movie watching and down time, as I think mom was too excited for Megan’s return to actually sleep, yet knew she needed to rest a bit. After dinner, we caught up with some sweet neighbors of mom’s, and again, mom was lifted up at the blessing of being together with dear ones. Shortly after they had gone, Megan at last, arrived. We had decided to go outside to see if we could catch her upon arrival, and just reached the garage door as the car had pulled up the driveway to welcome her in. Mom was over-the-moon to have both of her girls home at once, and we thoroughly enjoyed catching up with one another, visiting and laughing together, until we all were ready to call it a day. I know the bond between each of us has grown stronger through all of this as well: my sister and me, mom and my sister, mom and me. God is good, and He brings beautiful things from the ugliest of circumstances. May we ever seek Him to grow our love more and more, in knowledge and depth of insight.

 

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In knowledge of You;

Grant us Your insight,

Show us what to do.

Help us understand,

How deep and how wide;

How vastly You love,

As we choose abide.

Show us Your mercy,

Wrap us in Your grace;

Teach us to give love,

That honors Your Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we ask, Your love abounds in us more and more, and that You grow us in knowledge and understanding of who You are and how You love. Thank You that we can spend a lifetime pursuing You, and still never fully grasp the depth and breadth of Your incredible love. Forgive us for the times that we somehow think that it is not enough. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to receive all that You have to offer, so that we may in turn, give out of the abundance that You give to us. Lead us to love those around us with wisdom and insight, so that they too, may see Your heart through our love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue You, and seek to grow in the knowledge and understanding of Your overwhelming love for us all. Amen.

 

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

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5

To Lead in Love

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. – (Proverbs 22:6, NLT)

Teach children in a way that fits their needs, and even when they are old, they will not leave the right path. – (Proverbs 22:6, ERV)

Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost. – (Proverbs 22:6, MSG)

 

As we draw ever nearer to the first day of school, this verse hits home even harder. Not only am I charged with teaching, directing and pointing my children in the right direction, but all those who enter my classroom as well. Though my capacity to impact students is different than my own children, how I make them feel each day is equally important. If they enter my class and feel safe and cared for, then, and only then, will they be engaged and interested in learning. Direction can be difficult at any age. What kept me from becoming lost along the way in my own life, were those who taught, directed and pointed me in the way I was meant to go. It was not through telling nor commanding, but rather through loving, supporting and encouraging, with redirection in love as needed. May we each seek the Lord to be our guide as we teach, direct and point children in the ways that they are meant to go.

 

Let us choose to lead,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

All children in love;

Show them their value,

They matter above.

For as we are known,

Then too, are we heard;

What speaks to the heart,

Love beyond mere words.

For when we choose show,

Safety and true care;

Kids rise and flourish,

Find goodness to share.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessing that children are to us all. Thank You for the role to which You call and entrust us to fill in the lives of those around us. Forgive us for our failures, as we lose our cool and forget the impact that our words and actions have on kids. Teach us to seek You to be our example and our strength, so that we would teach, direct and point kids with goodness and grace. Show us how to love kids well, so that they would know that they are safe and cared for, and will glean the good that we have to offer. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek and trust in You to equip and strengthen us to teach kids well. Amen.

 

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

 

Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. – 1 Corinthians 13:7

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