Keep Moving Forward

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us. – (Hebrews 12:1, HCSB)

We have all these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fall. – (Hebrews 12:1, ERV)

So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us. – (Hebrews 12:1, VOICE)

I appreciate that the three different translations remind us that we have examples of great faith that have gone before us, those that walk beside us, and others that are all around us to encourage us to press on in living the life to which we have been called. Additionally, the reality that our race is one that requires endurance, is an indicator that it is a long and varied course. It is not about speed nearly as much as it is about forward momentum in the direction to which we have been called. Like with running, we do not want to carry extra weight or have things stick to us that impair our movement. Istead, it is ideal to run with nothing to weigh us down. Sin is anything that diverts our feet from the course we are called to run, or distracts us and pulls our attention in a different direction. To run our race with endurance, to live out our days in the direction to which we are called, we must be in tune with He who maps our course. The more we spend time with God and read His word, the more clearly we understand the race plan and how to avoid the things that lead us off the course He has prepared for us or that which will trip up our footing and make us falter from the path. May we ever seek the One who equips us with the strength and endurance required to run our own race, and listen to His leading so that we may encourage those around us to keep moving forward too.

Keep moving forward,

No matter how slow;

It’s not about speed,

But how you choose roll.

One step at a time,

Honoring the One;

Father, Son, Spirit,

The Most Holy One.

Each move done in love,

Is what we need bring;

Sweet perseverance,

Will honor our King.

Show us, Lord Jesus,

The race we’re to run;

Help us keep moving,

‘Til each day is done.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to run with perseverance and set aside all that would get in our way, but You surround us with those who know how to run well and encourage us as they set an example. Forgive us for the times that we have given up or have allowed our hearts to be led away from the path that You set before us. Show us how to stay the course and keep moving, even when things are difficult and we cannot see the next water station or place to pause and rest. Lead us to love and encourage those around us as they navigate their own race. Grant us Your wisdom, grace, generosity and kindness to share with all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look at the examples that have gone before us, those You have placed beside us, and ultimately, to You to lead us well. Amen.

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

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

Celebrating Fathers

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. – (Ephesians 5:25-26, HCSB)

Husbands, love your wives the same as Christ loved the church and gave His life for it. He died to make the church holy. He used the telling of the Good News to make the church clean by washing it with water. – (Ephesians 5:25-26, ERV)

Husbands, you must love your wives so deeply, purely, and sacrificially that we can understand it only when we compare it to the love the Anointed One has for His bride, the church. We know He gave Himself up completely to make her His own, washing her clean of all her impurity with water and the powerful presence of His word. – (Ephesians 5:25-26, VOICE)

It is interesting that this passage was part of my reading this morning, as it is a reminder of why we celebrate fathers today. Though not all have been present or have loved as one might hope, we can celebrate those we know who remind us what it is to be loved as God intended. For those who love their wives well, love their children in the same way – sacrificially, and build them up with loving encouragement in the right ways to go, let us celebrate and appreciate their love and sacrifice. I am blessed with a husband who loves us well, and would do anything for us to be sure our needs are met and our hearts held well.  May we seek the Lord with hearts full of thanks, for Him, our ultimate Father, and for the men in our lives who model God’s love to us in tangible ways.

To know the Lord’s love,

Look around and see;

Those who choose love well,

Show it tangibly.

Without conditions,

Such love is complete;

It sets our hearts free,

A place of retreat.

For this kind of love,

Chooses sacrifice;

Puts family first,

Gives godly advice.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the men in our lives that model a love like Yours. Thank You for the generosity and sacrifice that is given to their families, friends and communities. Forgive us for the times that we have not appreciated or acknowledged Your goodness that is shown through so many. Teach us to see You in those around us, and to celebrate and give thanks for Your heart that is grown within them. Show us how to love like You so that many may come to understand the depth and breadth of Your unfailing love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the husbands and fathers that You have placed around us, and for the ultimate Father that we have in You. Amen.

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

Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. – 1 John 3:1a

Done to Others is Done Unto You

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.’” – (Matthew 25:40, NIV)

“Then the King will answer, ‘The truth is, anything you did for my people here, you also did for Me.’” – (Matthew 25:40, ERV)

“And the King will answer them, ‘Don’t you know? When you cared for one of the least important of these, My little ones, My true brothers and sisters, you demonstrated love for Me.’” – (Matthew 25:40, TPT)

This ought to be our motivation. Whenever we love others, we are also demonstrating our love for God. Every single time we love, help, encourage, lift up, show kindness, give grace – God sees it as if we were doing these very things unto Him. What this shows us is how deeply God loves all of His creation. Our closest comparison is how we feel when others extend kindness, grace, generosity, encouragement, and more to one whom we love deeply. I know for me, when someone does these things for one of my children, I am blessed as well. My heart swells with gratitude, simply knowing that another sees and values my child like I do. Imagine the depth of what God feels in comparison. God who loved so deeply that He sent His Son to reestablish a right relationship with us, recognizes every act of kindness and extension of love as words and deeds given directly to Him. For me, that both defines and dictates how I ought to treat everyone I meet. Do I have it down to a science? Of course not. I fall short and fail daily, yet can always seek to do and be better. God, in His loving kindness, hears our petitions presented before Him, and honors our desire to love well. May we ever seek the Lord to lead and equip us to love as He loves us.

Whatever we do,

In word, thought or deed;

We do unto God,

Let’s follow His lead.

The God of all grace,

Does all things in love;

May we love like Him,

Give good from above.

For each time we choose,

To help each other;

We live with purpose,

Sisters and brothers.

The times that we fail,

Neglect or ignore;

It too is to God,

Things that He abhors.

Lord, help us rise up,

Love well, each other;

Choose extend Your love,

One to another.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love one another as You love us. Thank You that as we do, You recognize our love extended to those around us as love for You. Forgive us for the times that we have been unloving or callous or have neglected to reach out where we knew You called us to love. Teach us to trust and follow Your lead as we aspire to love like You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that exhibit the width, depth and breadth of Your everlasting love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we reach out to love like You. Amen.

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

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 7:12

Remember to Praise

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)

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)

O my soul, come, praise the Eternal with all that is in me – body, emotions, mind, and will – every part of who I am – praise His holy name. O my soul, come, praise the Eternal; sing a song from a grateful heart; sing and never forget all the good He has done. – (Psalm 103:1-2, VOICE)

For so many, I know this pandemic is a very long season of struggle. Isolation and financial hardships have not been a positive pairing. However, even so, God is good. Difficult seasons have a way of bringing out the good in people. I have witnessed generosity and grace, kindness, goodness and compassion, in spaces where it was needed most. As we praise God and remember His blessings, it inspires us to do the same for those around us. The more we recognize the goodness of God, the greater our desire becomes to praise Him with all that we are. May we ever seek to know God more, and allow our lives to sing out our gratitude for who He is and all that He has done, as we intentionally love people and love God, the way that He intended.

Lord, I lift my praise,

All up unto You;

For Your mighty love,

And all that You do.

Your kindness and grace,

Give reason to sing;

All thanks unto You,

Our praise offering.

Let our very lives,

Be songs that give praise;

For Your mighty love,

Outpoured each new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our reason to praise. Thank You for Your goodness and grace, love and merciful ways, shown to us again and again throughout all of our days. Forgive us for allowing our eyes to fix on the difficulties before us, rather than on the One who is our Provider. Teach us to turn to You, recognizing the power of Your love and provision. Show us how to love those around us in ways that glorify You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You with all that we are through all that we do and say. 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

Inventive in Hospitality

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. – (Romans 12:13, NIV)

Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. – (Romans 12:13, MSG)

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. – (Romans 12:13, NLT)

 

If ever there was a time to do as we are called to do, now is the time. Sharing and extending help to those in need is a necessity as businesses are having to close their doors if they cannot be sustained through online ordering or curbside pickup. I love how the Message translation says, “be inventive in hospitality.” This is indeed required, as social distancing transforms the traditional perception of hospitality. However, for fun, I checked the dictionary definition, and discovered that it pairs well with being inventive in hospitality. According to dictionary.com, hospitality is: the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way. As far as I can fathom, it is not required to have someone into a home or a space that violates the social distancing expectations, to extend warmth, kindness and generosity. If we watch and listen, we are able to discover needs and do what we can, where we can. Yesterday, I had the privilege of participating at one of my school district’s breakfast and lunch distribution sites, as our union has partnered with nutrition services to lend a hand and be familiar faces for families as they drive through to pick up meals. A fellow teacher from my school and I, worked together with three incredible ladies from nutrition services. One, I discovered, was the mom of a terrific young man whom I had known throughout my schooling days, the second, was a sweet mom of two young kids who were waiting at home, and the third, was the incredible woman who runs the kitchen right there at the high school. We all worked together to keep the supply on the table for distribution, as families trickled through the bus loop to pick up meals. It was a treasure to exchange smiles and friendly greetings, even from our safe distances, as the sun was out and it was clear that all were in appreciation of the hospitality our district is extending.

As for Mom, she is doing fairly well, considering she is stuck in quarantine with NO VISITORS allowed. The only people permitted to see her are her therapists and those who work onsite. No family, friends or the like. We know it is good and necessary for prevention, but a bummer for someone as social as Mom. Phone calls, messages, and mail are always good, and I imagine the same is true for anyone living in a senior living community. In fact, if you are looking for an activity for kids to do at home that is an art/writing combination, making cards and or drawing pictures to send to loved ones in quarantine, or to local senior living facilities would be amazing. It is a simple way that even the youngest among us can learn to practice being inventive in hospitality. May we all look for ways to reach out, safely, to help bless and meet needs where we are able.

 

We have been chosen, wp-15847113510635646106566926534739.jpg

To love and reach out;

Do what we’re able,

To help those without.

As God’s created,

We are made to love;

To extend and give,

Place people above.

Let not the lonely,

Stay trapped in alone;

A call, card or text,

Can make them feel known.

For physical lack,

Let’s rise up and give;

Where we are able,

To help others live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to take care of one another. Thank You that in trying times, we are meant to share one another’s burdens. Show us how to be inventive in hospitality, so that we may treat those around us in warm, friendly and generous ways. Forgive us for thinking that we have nothing to offer, or that there is no safe way to be hospitable in times like these. Teach us to trust You to lead and guide us in ways that You have for us to extend hospitality to others. Show us how to love those around us in generous, tangible and practical ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us where we are meant to extend our time, talent or resources to bless those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Meeting Every Need

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 4:19, NIV)

My God will use His glorious riches to give you everything you need. He will do this through Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 4:19, ERV)

You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, His generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes. – (Philippians 4:19, MSG)

 

Can I get really real about God’s economy right now? For me, this has little to do with anything financial, and everything to do with time, people and strength. After having spent three years of my life as a missionary, I trust Him with finances. I know He will supply all that is needed, as it is needed. A more challenging side for me is for practical or emotional things. “Gutting things out” and “powering through”, have been my mode of operation for much of my life. Though God has disrupted my typical patterns time and time again to show me that He has me, and I give Him things over and over again, there is a part of me that still struggles with the seemingly small stuff.

Yesterday, mom had another phenomenal day! During physical therapy, she walked (heavily assisted) a good eight feet down the hallway, and she was able to move her right leg in and out with knees up when she was lying on her back. I had to fend off tears of joy at the wave of hope that flooded my happy heart.  Sadly, I felt caught in an ebb tide during speech therapy, as the therapist was explaining that mom also has aphasia (which we recognized but did not know the name – as it is when the person knows what they want to say, but can’t find the right words or can’t get them out). Watching mom struggle with verbal and visual tasks that she would have worked on with my boys when they were little, felt as if I were being drug out to sea, so far beyond the shore that I would never find my way back. The teacher in me gave mom a verbal cue that I would have given a student, and it gave mom the tool she needed to complete that particular task. Provision by His grace. Additionally, I have been antsy to get out and move. Sitting is a challenge for both mom and myself, and I know it has been hard on her. We have been told that it is no problem to take mom outside, and one therapist even suggested the coffee shop across the street. There were no particular boundaries given, so mom and I took the liberty to explore a little. I made sure we both had sunscreen and sunhats, (as it was 82 yesterday) and we started off by doing a big lap around the facility, that covers a full city block. Mom was thoroughly enjoying “cruising” as I pushed her in her chair, and I, the movement and huge smile on her face. After asking her if she was okay with us exploring further, she got a mischievous grin, and replied, “yes”. Our adventure took us another five blocks down Chelan Avenue before we turned around to head back. I had my purse and cell phone with me as safety precautions, and all was wonderful. Upon our return, we settled in and watched a movie, and mom’s bestie stopped by for a quick hug and hello. At the same time, she brought me the most amazing spinach and strawberry salad for dinner, and there was enough to left to have for lunch today as well. (Preparing dinner after leaving the hospital at 7:30 pm or so is not a joy, especially since my sister is back in Albany for now) June’s provision granted me the energy and determination to run errands after leaving the hospital, instead of going straight home to mom’s house. While wandering through Target, I became overwhelmed. I imagine it was simply the roller coaster of the day catching up to me, but if anyone had been watching me walk through the store, I think they might have thought I was on something. Somehow, I managed to find the few things I intended to purchase, but had this horrible empty, alone feeling. In the midst of it, I received a perfectly timed text from a friend, whom I appreciate so much from school, who was just checking in. It was what I needed when I needed it. Between messages from my bestie, check-ins with my children, and a day-closing conversation with my incredibly supportive spouse, I ended the day knowing all was in His hands. God knows. God provides. People are His greatest riches; we simply must keep our eyes open to see them.

 

Holy, beloved,

0508191955_hdr5169455991610200322.jpg

On the side of the road as I drove home last night. ❤

The Lord above all;

Faithful Provider,

He won’t let us fall.

Our needs are all known,

Not one goes unseen;

As we seek the Lord,

We learn what love means.

Love sees and love knows,

The things of the heart;

That cause fear and doubt,

Lies that tear apart.

When we are open,

In love, the Lord moves;

Needs met tangibly,

His power, He proves.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace, and for the way that You love us so very well. Thank You that You are our Provider, and that we need not worry about having or being enough. Thank You that You provide the strength and resources we need to overcome every obstacle that stands before us. Forgive us for thinking that we have to power through things or gut them out on our own, as Your do not call us to that. Thank You that You never leave us nor forsake us, even when we feel alone. Thank You that You make Your love tangible. Show us how to be Your hands, heart and voice to those around us, so that others too, may be unarguably aware of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks for Your faithful provision and Your power as You continue to move on Mom’s behalf. 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

How Precious a Love

How precious to me are Your thoughts, God! How vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with You. – (Psalm 139:17-18, NIV)

Your thoughts are beyond my understanding. They cannot be measured! If I could count them, they would be more than all the grains of sand. But when I finished, I would have just begun. – (Psalm 139:17-18, ERV)

How precious it is, Lord, to realize that You are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day Your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, You are still thinking of me! – (Psalm 139:17-18, TLB)

 

This conveys a love that goes beyond human understanding. I imagine it is part of the purpose that we are created for relationship. When we think of those whom we love and treasure the most, it does not even begin to compare to the depth and breadth of God’s love for each of us. The number of grains of sand that would fill up a small bucket would take far too long for us to consider counting. All of the grains of sand on the earth are less than how often He things of us?! As I consider my limited exposure to the various spaces where sand is found around the earth, I am overwhelmed with the goodness and great love that God has for us. More than grains of sand in a desert; more than that lying at the shore by the sea… All for you and for me!  May we consider the generosity of the heart of God and how deeply we are loved by Him, as we seek the Lord to lead us and guide us throughout all of our days.

 

How precious a love,

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Photo by Open Doors Photography. ❤

That grants countless thoughts;

As we rise, then rest,

All grace for us brought.

We are considered,

So loved endlessly;

Beyond human grasp,

Generosity.

So often He shows,

A glimpse of His heart;

Through those He’s given,

For us, set apart.

The greatest love known,

Still does not compare;

To Christ’s love for us,

And His endless care.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your thoughts for us go beyond what we can even begin to understand. Thank You for the gift of those who love us well, that remind us that their love is only a whisper of the depth and breadth of Your love for each of us. Forgive us for disregarding the depth of Your love. Teach us to trust that Your word is true, and to recognize the tangible reminders rendered each time we feel faithfully loved, as such love is only possible through You. Show us how to love others with the same grace and resolve that You have for us. 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 countless ways You love and consider us all. Amen.

 

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

 

For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. – Psalm 57:10

Consider Love

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – (Hebrews 10:24, NIV)

We should think about each other to see how we can encourage each other to show love and do good works. – (Hebrews 10:24, ERV)

Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. – (Hebrews 10:24, TPT)

 

I love that this biblical concept has been made tangible to many as people seek to “pay it forward.” One small spark of kindness, generosity or grace can set off an incredible chain reaction. The great thing is, we can love and encourage others through small and simple things. The Passions Translation tells us to “discover creative ways to encourage others and motivate them toward acts of compassion…” I so appreciate this, as some of the seemingly smallest acts of kindness have had the greatest and most lasting impact on me, as they often come when I have needed them most. It costs us nothing to choose to offer a kind and encouraging word or to reach out a helping hand to one we see in need – we simply must choose to extend what we have received to those around us. May we seek the Lord and listen to His leading, so that we may discover creative ways to encourage each other and extend acts of kindness to all.

 

Let us consider, Ambassadors of Love

How to choose love well;

Honor each other,

May our actions tell.

Tell of His goodness,

Extend hope and grace;

Each act of kindness,

Demonstrate His ways.

Choose seek discover,

To love and do good;

Compassion offered,

God’s grace understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You that though we do not deserve it, You come near and extend encouragement and compassion toward us in tangible ways. Thank You that You call us to look for ways to encourage and love one another as we reach out in ways that others can grasp. Forgive us for not always choosing words or ways to inspire those around us to greater love. Teach us to trust and rely on You to be our Source and Supply, so that we will encourage and motivate others toward compassion and acts of kindness. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spurs others toward love and good deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the love and encouragement that You offer to us and then go and give likewise to those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

To Overcome Offenses

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. – (Proverbs 25:21-22, NIV)

If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch; if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness, and God will look after you. – (Proverbs 25:21-22, MSG)

Is your enemy hungry? Buy him lunch. Win him over with your kindness. Your surprising generosity will awaken his conscience and God will reward you with favor. – (Proverbs 25:21-22, TPT)

 

 

When we choose to give good to those who are not good to us, there is a softening on both sides. Often, it makes our hearts more tender toward the offender, and the heart of the one who chose unkindness toward us, to see us in a different light. Though I don’t see others as enemies, I do try to catch myself when I am hurt or offended by the words or actions of another. “How can I respond in kindness, despite that which I have been given?” This is not always an automatic reaction, and there are some offenses that make responding in love far more difficult. We are all a work in progress, and God’s grace is far greater than our own. When we seek Him for the strength and wisdom to respond according to His will, the outcome is far better than if we simply react. May we ever pursue the Lord and His love for people, so that we may surprise others with goodness and generosity that is not necessarily deserved.

 

When we receive rude, Pursue Righteousness and Love

Let’s love anyway;

As others choose hurt,

May we walk God’s way.

Generosity,

Extended with grace;

Can change the outcome,

Create new safe space.

For God will reward,

A generous heart;

Despite what’s given,

His grace He’ll impart.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we choose to love as You love us, despite what we are given by others, You intervene and move in the hearts of people. Thank You that while we were yet Your enemies, You did this for us, as You showed us Your kindness and grace, and brought us to a place where we could know and understand the depth of Your love. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to choose to love and extend kindness to those who have not been kind to us. Teach us to trust You more, as You guide and direct our steps with Your wisdom and grace if we are willing to walk in Your way. Show us how to love the people around us, even those who make loving difficult. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they become aware of Your goodness and grace. Be glorified O God, as we choose love, regardless of what we are given, as You first loved us. Amen.

 

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

 

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25