An Impossible Pairing

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – (Romans 12:12, NIV)

Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time. – (Romans 12:12, ERV)

Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer. – (Romans 12:12, VOICE)

 

Joy and patience seem like an impossible pairing, but if I have learned anything from our present circumstances of walking out this road to recovery with mom, following her stroke, it is that there is joy in hope, despite the struggle through what has been lost. Every day there are new celebrations of pathways that are rerouting, and awe at how the brain is healing. Restoration of movement to a side struck by a stroke is slow, yet there is joy each new day, as we see evidence of God’s faithful presence and His hand as mom’s strength is being rebuilt.

Yesterday was a day full of joyful hope. Even the weather seemed to mirror a sort of tangible weight that somehow was lifted. You see, the last several days here have been dark, gloomy, and on the cooler side, which is not typical for this time of year in Wenatchee. That being said, it was a blessing, as there was something wrong with the irrigation main for mom’s neighborhood, and the lawn would not have fared well if the weather had been warmer. As I woke and took my usual spot at the kitchen table in the early hours yesterday morning, I could tell the atmosphere outside was changing. The sky was lighter, and the seeming heaviness in the air had lifted. The thermometer just outside the window already read in the low 60s, so I knew we were on a much warmer trend for the day. When Meg and I left for the hospital to be with mom, I thought we were saying our goodbyes to my husband, as he had indicated that he was heading straight home from the house. My brother-in-love and nephews were planning to stop by to say goodbye to mom before heading out of town, so we knew we would see them on their way out. To my surprise, all four fellas (my hubby included) walked into the acute care center and mom was beaming. What a boost for all of us before her last full day in that place! Mom teared up a bit as the guys said their goodbyes, and I think there may have been a few misty-eyed fellas too, but they were happy tears of love and mutual appreciation, with eager anticipation for their return visit. Our day was a wonderful combination of therapies, rest, wandering outdoors, and loads of laughter. Mom, Meg and I laughed more yesterday than we have laughed in a very long time. There was a lightness in our hearts, as I think each one of us sensed that though we do not know what the road ahead will look like, we will be okay as we navigate the unknown together. It has always been the three of us, and it is not about to change now. God has us in His hands. He will never leave us nor forsake us, and He has a plan and a purpose; even in this. May we ever present our prayers before He who is abundantly able to answer, and allow His joy to abound, even in difficult circumstances.

 

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For God never fails;

His purpose and plan,

Shall always prevail.

Patience in struggles,

For we’re in His hands;

He’ll lead and guide us,

Help us safely land.

Keep lifting in prayer,

Each dream, hope and care;

Of His direction,

He’ll make us aware.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the reason that we have joy and hope, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Thank You that You never leave us nor forsake us, and that You direct our every step, and hold us in the hollow of Your hands. Forgive us for our fears of the unknown, as our humanity fears what we cannot see. Teach us to trust You more in the spaces that seem unsteady, for You are our anchor in every storm. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers joy, peace, hope and grace, no matter what surrounds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and listen to Your leading for every next step we are meant to take. 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 3:5-6

A Loving Warrior

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all Your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. – (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT)

The Lord your God is with you. He is like a powerful soldier. He will save you. He will show how much He loves you and how happy He is with you. He will laugh and be happy about you. – (Zephaniah 3:17, ERV)

Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, He’ll calm you with His love and delight you with His songs. – (Zephaniah 3:17, MSG)

 

It amazes me how often the verse of the day on my Bible application, is exactly the reminder I need. This morning, as I am on the other side of the mountains from mom and prepare to head back to work for a few days before returning to her after having not set foot in my classroom in nearly three weeks, I am more than a little nervous. Fortunately, I am comfortable about mom because my sister is there with her, and am able to be present with my family at home. Yesterday morning, I actually woke myself up from dreaming, as I had been telling my students about what had happened, and why I had been gone so long. Clearly returning to my classes has weighed heavily on my heart, and the unknown can be a bit of a fearful space. That being said, the past several weeks of my life have been nothing but unknowns. When we first drove to Wenatchee to mom in the hospital, we did not know the shape that she would be in. We knew not what the road to recovery and restoration would have in store, nor the timeline that would be required. Even now, we do not fully know the answers, however, God does. Even in this, we have found joy. There has been laughter, and smiles, gladness and delight. Peace and calm have come when they did not seem possible, and really did not make sense.

Mom continues to work tirelessly in each therapy session, and that which used to be the most frustration for her, is now becoming an area where she is seeing the most rapid growth and gratification. Speech therapy works not only on word recognition, cognition, reading, memory, logic and the like, but they are also working on strengthening her vocal cords. One of the things the stroke affected was the power of mom’s voice. Typically outgoing with a boisterous and jovial voice, the stroke left her quite soft-spoken. Her vocal work in speech therapy is helping her find the power in her voice again. We share many giggles in the process.

In all of this, God is with us, a present, loving warrior, battling on our behalf, loving us through the process as He calms our fears. May we ever trust in the One who delights in us, and listen to the songs He sings over us with joy.

 

The Lord is present, Bold Grace

Ever He is near;

Loving warrior,

We’ve nothing to fear.

With our God for us,

He’ll hold us upright;

Fighting our battles,

All day and all night.

Choose trust in the One,

Whose love grants us peace;

And sings over us,

Delightful release.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being both our loving Savior and mighty Warrior. Thank You that You delight in us and sing over us, granting us peace in our spaces of fear. Forgive us for our fear of the unknown and unexplainable; for You already know the outcome and have a plan and a purpose for all. Teach us to trust the truth of Your word, that Your plans are to prosper and not to harm, to give a hope and a future. Show us how to love those around us well, so that Your loving strength shines through us clearly. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise up and receive the covering You provide for us in Your strength and love. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

Sing Praise

I will praise God’s Name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving. – (Psalm 69:30, NIV)

I will praise God’s Name in song. I will honor Him by giving Him thanks. – (Psalm 69:30, ERV)

Then I will praise God with my singing! My thanks will be His praise. – (Psalm 69:30, TLB)

 

During my quick turn-around at home, I was able to spend time with my boys and attend early service at my church prior to driving back to Wenatchee yesterday. During worship, there were moments that the words would be stuck behind the lump in my throat, yet my heart was still singing His praise. Fast-forward to my drive, and I had plenty of time to reflect on my own. Anyone in my close circle who has road-tripped with me, knows that I actually enjoy blasting a variety of music and singing at the top of my lungs. At first, the heaviness in my heart needed a little… hmm… let’s just say Skillet fit the bill best. (They also happen to be my favorite jam for running) Anyway, the heaviness began to give way to hope, and I switched gears and began to listen to worship music. There was something powerful about singing praise. A calm came over me, and all I could think about was how different this drive to Wenatchee was than my drive had been one week prior. One week ago, Mark was driving me into the unknown. We had received devastating news after investigating the prompting within us, and did not have any idea of the condition mom would be in when we arrived. This time, I had so much to be thankful for: we are so grateful to still have mom (we know that so often people in similar circumstances do not have such a fortunate fate), she is able to understand everything, she can communicate clearly, she has feeling in her right side (which is hopeful, even with the current paralysis of the right arm and leg), we have an incredible army supporting us all – in Wenatchee, Federal Way, Albany, across the country, and around the world (we are overwhelmed in the very best way by the outpouring of love and support!), and we, above all else, have a God in heaven who loves and heals, holds and moves, and has us all in the palm of His hands.

Last evening, after I had returned and spent several hours at the hospital with Meg and Mom, my sister and I went to the acute care facility on a scouting mission. We managed to talk our way in, and were very pleased with both the people that we met and the facility and how it is set up. Our biggest prayer now is that the move actually occurs today, as scheduled, and that there are no insurance or medical obstacles to prevent the move. Mom is more than ready to get out of the hospital and begin being far more active than the hospital setting allows. She is still not ready to have visitors outside of family or those we consider “framily” (friends so close that they have become an extension of the family). For those who love her dearly and are eager to visit, please be patient and know that waiting is best for her healing. In the meantime, you are welcome to download Marco Polo and send her a video message, send a card, a text message, etc. She still is not interested in her phone, but we will take it each day to show videos or read messages that are encouraging.

May we praise Him with songs of thanksgiving, for He is worthy of all of our thanks and praise.

 

When I’m lost for words,

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View from Mom’s back deck. ❤

Or sound won’t give way;

My hearts still shall sing,

Lord, ever I’ll praise.

No matter what comes,

You always are good;

When my world’s shattered,

Beside me, You’ve stood.

You never leave me,

Ever You stay near;

You point me to hope,

And silence my fear.

Each morning I rise,

And greet the new day;

I give all to You,

O Lord, lead the way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and faithfulness to us, even in this. Thank You that You love us in tangible ways, as You have surrounded us with an army of warriors, ready to serve. Thank You for making Your presence and Your blessings so abundantly clear, even in the midst of the hardest circumstances. Forgive us for our spaces of fear and doubt. Teach us to trust You more, as You are far greater than anything that stands in the way of Your will being done. Remind our hearts to sing when our voices cannot find the words. Continue to place Your song in our hearts, as Your song is truth and life and light. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shares Your tune. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as our lives sing Your song of praise each day that we draw breath. Amen.

 

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

 

Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts. – 1 Chronicles 16:9

 

 

 

 

 

Ask and See

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds. – (Philippians 4:6-7, ERV)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. – (Philippians 4:6-7, MSG)

 

Because my sister is not returning home to Oregon until Tuesday, we determined that it would be good for me to make a quick trip home to see my boys overnight, as I will be staying in Wenatchee with mom at least for the next week and beyond. At first, I was a bit anxious. It reminded me of when my boys were preemies in the NICU, and I was taken home for one night, away from my babies. I am not an outward “emoter” at all, but I cried the entire time, and vowed then and there that I would not be leaving the hospital again until my boys came with me. Thankfully, this did not feel the same. My sister was staying with mom, and my mom is able to speak for herself. Mark and I went to the hospital with Megan before we left town, and were able to witness some really remarkable milestones in her progress thus far. With the help of the occupational therapist and an aid, mom took her very first heavily assisted steps since her stroke. They moved her right side for her, as she focused on the left. Each movement was slow, frustrating, and very labor intensive; yet they were movement forward, upright, and progress in a very positive direction. The next petition that was answered prior to our departure, was getting her out of her room. Anyone who knows mom, knows that she is constantly on the go. Her sitting in bed or the chair in her room for hours and hours on end was quite concerning to us all. We got to wheel her out in a wheelchair to the waiting area on her floor that is full of windows with a spectacular view. The room was flooded with warm rays of sun, and she basked in the warmth as she happily sucked down a Coffee Frappuccino we smuggled in for her (with the medical team’s permission of course). Lastly, though mom has not had a problem with chewing or swallowing (praise God), she just has not had an appetite. No food has had any appeal, and even her favorites she has only been willing to take a bite or two. Yesterday, that too, changed. Breakfast was extraordinarily late to come, and her sweet nurse got after the kitchen to make it happen when we inquired. For whatever reason, the simplicity of the sourdough toast with her Frappuccino hit the spot, and she had taken in more in one sitting than she had since arriving last Sunday. Better still, at lunch, she ate all but the crust of a grilled cheese sandwich. This may sound trivial, but these are milestones that are critical for strength building as she moves to acute care on Monday. Once there, she will be working actively in therapies for at least three hours each day. Her determination, faith and work ethic with be invaluable. God is faithful as we cast our cares upon Him. When worry comes, it is our reminder to pray. May we ever be prayerful in all things, giving God room to move in places we need Him the most.

 

Do not let worry,

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The mountain in the background is Mt. St. Helen’s, so prior to 1980…

Be what takes control;

For we have a God,

Who heals broken souls. 

When we give to Him,

The weight that we bear;

He exchanges all,

With His loving care.

So, lift up in prayer,

All that your heart needs;

The Lord always hears,

And His grace succeeds.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your incredible faithfulness to us as we give our anxiousness and worries to You in prayer. Thank You that You surround us with the right people at the right time, to encourage and love us well, as an extension of Your arms, heart and love for us, individually. Thank You for the outpouring of support that You have graced my mom, sister and me with over the past week. Forgive us for our moments of fear and anxiousness about the unknowns that lie ahead. Teach us to trust and continue to give it all to You, again and again and again. We lay it all in Your hands, as we see so clearly how You have held and are still holding our mom in Your loving arms. Show us how to love and support mom the best way for her, and how to love those who are around her so that they may see You in us. Lead many into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, even in this we pray. 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 3:5-6

Hope When it Feels Like Hell

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – (Romans 12:12, NIV)

Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time. – (Romans 12:12, ERV)

Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer. – (Romans 12:12, VOICE)

 

This morning, this is the very reminder that I needed the most. I know there are stages of grief, particularly when something so traumatic takes place with a parent, especially a parent who has filled the role of both mother and father, coach and teacher, friend and confidant, leader, example, pastor, sole grandparent to my children, and so much more. Anger seems to be the stage in this process that both my sister and I are in. Between the frustration of the questions of why her, the outrage at the details and the seeming disclosure violations, the paperwork battle to place her near family (which is far less costly than the dang hospital), to simply being just plain mad that it happened to OUR mom. We would never wish this on another, but why her? I know no one has the answers, and quite frankly, I would probably throat punch anyone who tried to give me answers. In fact, I woke myself in the night saying “throat punch”, as my left arm shot forward with a balled fist. Thankfully, I was facing the opposite direction of my Viking, and he was soundly sleeping. Finding joy in the hope is particularly difficult when we feel like we are on hold. Patience in static spots is not a strength of mom’s, Meg’s nor mine. Prayer, we can do, as I know so many of you are too. Perhaps that is the point of this post. Please pray for joy in hope, patience in all of this, and ever be faithful to continue to contend for mom’s complete and total healing.

 

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Of what lies ahead;

For fear’s a liar,

No matter what’s said.

God is far greater,

Than all that we face;

We must be patient,

It’s His, not our pace.

In everything,

Choose seek God and pray;

no matter what’s seen,

God will make a way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are bigger than our frustration and anger and grief. Thank You that You hold us in Your hands and ride out our rage, waiting lovingly to embrace us with Your joy, peace and comfort. Forgive us for allowing fear a foothold based on our limited understanding. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to find joy in the hope of all that lies ahead, patience in the here and now, and to pray without ceasing. Lead us to love well, all those around us, so that they may recognize Your heart for them through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, even in this, for we know that You alone can bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Amen.

 

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

 

To all who mourn in Israel He will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory. – Isaiah 61:3