Beholding New 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 how 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) 

 

This morning, after perusing Facebook while my coffee was brewing, I discovered the story I have watched unfold over the last five years through countless runs (that we affectionately call therapy sessions), poured out with complete honesty and zero ill intent, as my dear friend commemorated in writing, her journey to freedom through faith and forgiveness. Her story and my own, though different, had some common threads that ultimately led to a similar outcome. This story tells of one dream being destroyed, while tremendous blessings of God’s faithfulness tenderly delivered she and her children into an incredible new chapter, with many more blessings yet to unfold. These verses, written by David, are amazingly appropriate as my heart responds with joy and praise for all of His faithfulness and blessings poured out over the past several years. The freedom, goodness and grace received are remarkably evident. Though the story seems to be one of extreme heartache, the other side of it holds dreams realized and hopes restored and made far greater than one could begin to imagine. God is faithful, even on our darkest nights, as His light comes and reveals the truth, hope and good that are meant to remain. May we hold fast to God and His grace, ever praising Him for every blessing He pours out upon us as we choose to allow Him room to lead. 

 

With all of my heart, 385ace51-24e7-416b-8430-0515506705ec7822422687448967530.jpg

I choose bless Your name; 

For You are the One, 

Who does what He claims. 

You take our heartache, 

Darkness and despair; 

And lead to freedom, 

In Your tender care. 

Where hope seems but dashed, 

You mend and renew; 

Your blessings poured out, 

As we trust in You. 

All thanks be to God, 

Whose faithful indeed; 

He loves us to life, 

And meets all our need. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You turn stories of darkness and despair into ones of healing and hope and beautiful blessings. Thank You that You turn our ashes into beautiful stories of Your redemption and grace. Forgive us for our times of fear and doubt, as You alone are the One to work all things out. Teach us to trust You in every season and circumstance, as You have a far greater plan that our limited understanding can grasp. Show us how to love those around us well, as You use our stories of struggle to illuminate, encourage and bless those who are in their own spaces of darkness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we bless You with all of our being for the hope, goodness and promise that You have for us all. Amen.

 

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

 

(God) who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. – Psalm 103:4-5

 

*Click on “This story” as highlighted in the text to read the story to which I am referring.

Promises Seen

Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:28-32, NIV) 

Simeon took Jesus into his arms and blessed God. “Now, Lord and King, You can let me, Your humble servant, die in peace. You promised me that I would see with my own eyes what I’m seeing now: Your freedom, raised up in the presence of all peoples. He is the light who reveals Your message to the other nations, and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel.” – (Luke 2:28-32, VOICE) 

 

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to dedicate Him to God, they met a man named Simeon, who had been waiting for a promise to come to pass. God had spoken to Simeon that he would see with his own eyes, the promised salvation for all people. For Simeon, this was the fulfillment of a promise long awaited; for Mary and Joseph, it was more to ponder in awe and wonder as they sought the Lord to raise this precious gift properly. This passage is a powerful reminder that what God promises, He will do. Simeon had been waiting and trusting that what God had said, He would do. His faith was met by him holding the Son of God in his own arms, as He dedicated Jesus to the Father. Not only did Simeon see the Savior, but he held Him and faithfully fulfilled his role in the temple as he dedicated Jesus to the Lord. God followed through on His promise to Simeon in an extraordinary way. Not only did Simeon see Him with his own eyes, but he held the Son of God, and proclaimed truth about Jesus and what was yet to come. A long-awaited promise was answered faithfully, and in a way that went beyond simply seeing. May we ever trust the Lord that His promises are true, and wait patiently for the fulfillment, as it is always worth the wait.  

 

When the time had come, Simeons Story

His parents, they knew; 

Go to the temple, 

To give God what’s due. 

Dedicate this child, 

To the Lord on High; 

And trust in His grace, 

For all of their lives. 

When the three arrived, 

They set to the task; 

Of honoring God, 

Just as He had asked. 

Simeon met them, 

And burst into praise; 

For soon in his arms, 

The Savior was laid. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are a promise fulfiller and faithful Father to all who seek You. Thank You that You equip us for all that You ask of us, and that Your promises are true. Forgive us for our impatience in the wait between a promise and its fulfillment. Teach us to trust that what You say, You will do. Show us how to love those around us in a way that brings comfort in chaos and peace in seasons of waiting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for being our faithful Father forever. Amen.

 

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

 

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. – 2 Corinthians 1:20

All Praise is Due

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come to His people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David. – (Luke 1:68-69, NIV) 

Praise to the Lord God of Israel. He has come to help His people and has given them freedom. He has given us a powerful Savior from the family of his servant David. – (Luke 1:68-69, ERV) 

May the Lord God of Israel be blessed indeed! For God’s intervention has begun, and He has moved to rescue us, the people of God. And the Lord has raised up a powerful sign of liberation for us from among the descendants of God’s servant, King David. – (Luke 1:68-69, VOICE) 

 

These verses are a portion of Zechariah’s song, which are sung in a praise-filled celebration of sorts, following the birth of his son, John (the Baptist). As a faithful follower of God, Zechariah understood the significance of all that was taking place, as it had long before been foretold. The birth of his son was the prelude to the coming of Christ, the long-awaited Redeemer and Savior. Zechariah’s stretch of silence, after his holy visitation that left him mute, ended with the faithful obedience of writing down the name he was told to give his son. The first thing he did with his reopened lips was give glory and honor to God for His faithfulness. May we each embrace the incomprehensible grace that came to us through a virgin birth, and praise the Lord for being faithful to fulfill His promises forever. 

 

All praise to the Lord, Wisdom from Heaven

For all praise is due; 

For what He promised, 

Was provided true. 

A Savior to come, 

The Light for mankind; 

Entered a baby, 

Yet fully divine. 

The hope of the world, 

Had come down to earth; 

To set captives free, 

And grant us rebirth. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to make the way for us to be in relationship with You. Thank You for Your faithfulness throughout the ages. Thank You for those who set the example of recognizing who You are and how You love. Forgive us for forgetting that the very same God who set aside His throne to be God-with-us, still dwells within the hearts of those who seek You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and rely on You for all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates our gratitude for Your faithfulness, and conveys Your heart and character to all those with whom we interact. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the wonderful things that You have done to extend Your grace and send us Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – Psalm 13:6

The Peace in Letting Go

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil. – (Psalm 37:8, NIV)

Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm. – (Psalm 37:8, NLT)

Stop your anger! Turn off your wrath. Don’t fret and worry – it only leads to harm. – (Psalm 37:8, TLB)

 

Anger, wrath and rage ultimately bring the most harm to the holder. They have a way of rotting us from the inside out, and lead us to decisions that go against the good that we know we ought to do. Fret and worry are much the same. Each of these responses to external things, create an internal reaction that ruins the resolve within us. This verse does not say, “Never be angry.” Rather, it is a call to not sit and dwell in that space, allowing rage to rise. There is a time for righteous anger, yet how we respond to it matters most. Our charge is not to retaliate nor vindicate, (for this is why there are laws and authorities in place) alternatively, we are to set it in God’s hands. Of course, this is more easily said than done, yet with intention, it is worthwhile. Peace takes root where the anger or worry attempted reign. May we recognize our own responses as they occur and give all anger and worry to Him who brings peace in the most tumultuous spaces.

 

Stop being angry, Set Down Our Stones

Leave wrath in the dust;

Let go of worry,

Turn to God in trust.

For vengeance is His,

So too, are good plans;

As we trust in Him,

His grace lends a hand.

A hand that gives love,

When we’re lacking peace;

Comfort in worry,

What we need’s released.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to let go of anger, wrath, rage and worry. Thank You that though there is a time for righteous anger, we are not meant to sit and hold it in our hearts and hands. Thank You that as we release these things to You, You replace them with Your comfort and peace. Forgive us for holding anger or worry. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would place all things in Your hands. Show us how to love those around us who are holding anger or worry in such a way, that they may discover the freedom of letting go. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give our anger and worry to You, and allow Your comfort and peace to take their place in our hearts. Amen.

 

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

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:34

Choosing Circles

The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray. – (Proverbs 12:26, NLT)

Good people are careful about choosing their friends, but evil people always choose the wrong ones. – (Proverbs 12:26, ERV)

Lovers of God give good advice to their friends, but the counsel of the wicked will lead them astray. – (Proverbs 12:26, TPT)

 

Yesterday morning, our pastor spoke about the significance and power of our circles. Our relationships have the power to shape our lives emotionally, physically and spiritually. We have the freedom to choose who holds space in our circle, as each person’s circle begins and ends with themselves. Those whom we surround ourselves with ought to encourage us and hold us accountable. Who we walk with determines the person we will become. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – (Proverbs 27:17, NIV) “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.” – (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV) We have been created for relationship. The intention is for us to sharpen one another, not to corrupt. The circle we choose can make all the difference in who we become. May we seek the Lord and His wisdom as we learn to grow our circle with grace, so that we may encourage and sharpen one another for His glory.

 

We’ve the grace to choose,

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Photos by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Our circles ourselves;

We need the Lord’s help,

To choose people well.

Those who will build up,

When we’ve fallen down;

Will challenge with grace,

And straighten our crown.

We’re apt to attract,

Whatever we give;

Let wisdom and grace,

Define how we live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bless us with the freedom to choose our own circles. Thank You that You give wisdom and grace as we ask, leading and providing the people that will encourage and challenge us the way You intended. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected investing in our circles, or for forgetting that we have the freedom to choose. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen to Your leading as to which friends sharpen us and which distract. Show us how to be the friend to those around us that encourage and challenge in love in a way that builds up and points hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to surround ourselves with circles that are pleasing unto You. Amen.

 

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

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. – Proverbs 13:20

Offerings Become Art

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV)

As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always, because you know that your labor isn’t going to be for nothing in the Lord. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, CEB)

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, MSG)

 

This verse is both a challenge and an encouragement. As an individual who has felt called to teach since a very young age, it has been an interesting path to traverse over the last twenty-one years. There have been times that the obstacles and challenges seemed so impossible, that I wanted to walk away. The time, resources and self that are poured into each day, have to be for Him, or our perspective becomes distorted.  I know this is only the first week, but there is something that feels more steady and secure than it ever has before. Perhaps it is the tangible support I have at home that provides me the freedom to invest more of myself as I begin each day full, rather than depleted. Another possibility is that I am, for the first time in my career, teaching what I love most, for the majority of my day. Though I enjoy teaching the variety of subjects I have taught throughout my career thus far, I know that my excitement and enthusiasm for helping kids discover that they can create art, is not a waste of time or effort. There is something powerful to watch as students realize that they are able to do far more than they ever thought possible. May we ever stand firm and stay the course to which we are called, for nothing we do for Him is ever for naught.

 

If all that we do, 257314779340194518937431.jpeg

Is unto the Lord;

No effort wasted,

As grace is outpoured.

For God gladly takes,

What we choose to bring;

And uses for good,

All our offerings.

Whether it is time,

Resources or heart;

All done unto God,

Become lifetime art.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all that we do unto You can be used for Your glory. Thank You that as we stay the course to which we are called, we see Your faithfulness unfold in Your time. Thank You that You are always good, even when we cannot see the good before us. Forgive us for our doubts that make us question the direction we know we are meant to go. Strengthen us to stand firm and press on, trusting completely in You to bring beauty from our investment of time, energy and heart. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages them to discover or continue on the path to which they are called. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to use our every offering for good as we stay the course to which we are called. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this. – Psalm 37:5

Assured to Approach

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. – (1 John 5:14, NIV)

We can come to God with no doubts. This means that when we ask God for things (and those things agree with what God wants for us), God cares about what we say. – (1 John 5:14, ERV)

We live in bold confidence that God hears our voices when we ask for things that fit His plans. – (1 John 5:14, VOICE)

 

This verse is a great reminder of how God is our loving Father. Just as a parent listens and cares about what we say, the words are only given weight if they are for good and in agreement with what the parent knows is best. God, who is the ultimate Father, knows the potential outcome before we begin. His heart is for our good, and He leads and guides us in the direction that ultimately leads to His glory. That being said, we have a free will, and He will not control us like robots. He allows us to make our own decisions, yet His blessing is present when we pursue things according to His will. Our Heavenly Father knows best, and when we approach Him with a heart that is after His, He hears and leads us in the way we are meant to go. God is good and He wants good for us. May we ever approach God with confidence, trusting that He hears us as our heart is set to walk in His will.

 

We have a Father, Be strong and courageous

Who knows our heart best;

He listens to us,

And provides us rest.

Whatever we ask,

That follows His will;

He hears and He helps,

By grace He fulfills.

So, seek the Lord’s heart,

And ask all of Him;

He hears and He loves,

Granting hope within.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our loving Father who knows what is best for us; always. Thank You that we can come to You and ask of You, anything that aligns with Your will and be heard. Forgive us for asking things out of selfish ambition or for not asking when our intent is motivated by love, as You call us to do. Teach us to trust You more and help us to ever be motivated to do all things in love. Show us how to love those around us in a way that clearly conveys Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You confidently, trusting that You will hear our heart in all things as we seek You. Amen.

 

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

 

In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. – Ephesians 3:12

The Fee for Freedom

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – (John 8:36, NLT)

So if the Son makes you free, you are really free. – (John 8:36, ERV)

So if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free! – (John 8:36, TPT)

 

Freedom is not without a price. For most of us, we are blissfully unaware of the extent of the cost of the precious freedom that we enjoy each day. We have the right to say and do whatever we desire to do (within the legal limits of the law), and we have the choice to worship and gather without fear. Many nations in the world today are not afforded such luxuries. The people live in fear and cannot gather without the threat of imprisonment or death, simply for seeking to enjoy the very freedoms we so often take for granted. Today, as we celebrate Independence Day, may we take time to reflect and give thanks for the freedoms we know in our nation, and even more importantly, the freedom we know in our hearts that has been granted by God in the gift of mercy and grace generously given through His Son.

 

This mighty freedom, On the Eve of New

We know and adore;

Has come at a price,

From ones who gave more.

National freedom,

From those who fought for;

Sweet independence,

From ways once abhorred.

Personal freedom,

The greatest of all;

Through Christ’s sacrifice,

Our forgiveness call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that we have been given through the sacrifice of Your Son. Thank You all who seek You, find forgiveness and grace – freedom from the weight of our past mistakes and failures. Thank You too for the gift of freedom that we know in our nation, as we know that not all countries know a freedom such as ours. Forgive us for taking either freedom for granted, and teach us to give You praise for all our days for the incredible gift we have come to know in each. Show us how to love others well, so they too, may know the freedom found in the goodness of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the freedom we know and the grace to grow. Amen.

 

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

 

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19

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

Forgiveness Fosters Love

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. – (Proverbs 17:9, NLT) 

Forgive someone, and you will strengthen your friendship. Keep reminding them, and you will destroy it. – (Proverbs 17:9, ERV) 

Those who forgive faults foster love, but those who repeatedly recall them ruin relationships. – (Proverbs 17:9, VOICE) 

 

Our world desperately is in need of the forgiveness of faults to move forward in the freedom that is found in love. Far too often fingers are pointed without taking an honest look in the mirror. We all fall short and make missteps, and at times our errors end up hurting someone near us. If we are walking in love as God calls us to love, we must choose to forgive and move forward. The more we give grace, the greater our friendships grow. Freedom to be human is a tremendous burden lifted, and as we are able to be transparent with those near to us, we are strengthened in our faith and better bonded as dear friends. May we ever choose to be the ones who forgive faults and foster love, just as Jesus has done for us. 

 

As we choose forgive, Faith and Hope in Action

The love we have grows; 

Friendships are strengthened, 

As grace is made known. 

Those who dwell on faults, 

End up in great loss; 

Friendships are ruined, 

Far too great the cost. 

So let us choose love, 

Forgive and give grace; 

Build our bonds closer, 

Throughout all our days. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You care about our every interaction and relationship so much, that You give us guidance as to how to navigate best. Thank You that as we forgive, just as You have forgiven us, You bless us with stronger bonds in the relationships You have granted. Forgive us for dwelling on faults rather than forgiving. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would forgive as we have been forgiven by You. Show us how to love and give grace to those around us, ever strengthening the bonds of friendship that You are building among us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love and forgive as we are loved and forgiven by You. Amen. 

 

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

 

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19