Merry Christmas 2019

Merry Christmas blessings to all! Today’s post is going to look a bit different than usual, as I wanted to take the opportunity to send out Christmas greetings and an update for family and friends, near and far, as I found myself in a space of having to let go of the expectation of sending out Christmas cards this year. wp-15772871873888784698050003969833.jpg

Grace is a beautiful thing. Once I realized that the only person who had the expectation of a card being sent was me, I was able to let that “one more thing” go, and be present and enjoy the season.

This year has been all about learning and growing in grace; letting go of expectations of what we thought life would be, and embracing the gifts that come our way each day. At the end of April, my mom suffered a stroke, completely out of the blue. She was in great health, fit, capable, and extraordinarily independent; always on the go. As a result, I was given the grace to take a leave of absence for the majority of the remaining school year, and had the wellness leave to cover the time without loss of pay. Grace was granted financially for my family, as I was afforded time and total support to go and be present with Mom in the beginning of her recovery.  We also were able to visit Mark’s dad in September while he was still doing reasonably well, as we just returned to Wisconsin a few weeks ago for his memorial. Love and loss, blessings and grace; we have been carried well this year, despite the unanticipated obstacles.

Mid-August, Mom moved to Oregon with my sister and her family, while I returned home to my own to prepare for the new school year. She and her family have been loving and caring for Mom with incredible grace.

Both of my boys are now nearly half-way through their senior year, as is my eldest nephew in Oregon. The duo gained their licenses at the close of summer, so there has been a new-found freedom for all. Our eldest, my bonus son, secured a new job in the field of his choosing, and is back to working days, after more than a year of graveyard. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to have family dinners at least a few times each week.

Mark’s twenty-year dream has become a reality over the last few months, as the shop construction is nearly complete. All that remains is wiring, insulation and equipping the shop with all of the various tools he will utilize to practice his trade on the side from home. Daily, he is like a little kid on Christmas morning, as he looks at the shop with awe and gratitude.

As for me, I am continuing my twenty-third year of teaching, currently teaching English, Social Studies and Art. Added to the list this season with joy, is the position of assistant gymnastics coach at the high school my boys attend. I will continue to be the head coach at the middle school where I teach, as the seasons are separate, so I am able to participate in both.

Mom, despite the enormous blow to her health that none of us had anticipated, is a resilient fighter. Her perseverance is paying off, as she is able to walk around with a walker well, and continues to gain strength and work tirelessly to rebuild that which was compromised. We are eagerly awaiting our visit in a few days to celebrate the season with her.

May the grace of God be poured out upon each of you this most wonderful season, as you take pause and reflect on His goodness and grace. Merry Christmas, and blessings of peace to all!

 

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

 

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

Defense Against Discouragement

Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. – (Psalm 95:2, NIV)

Come and worship Him with songs of thanks. Let us sing happy songs of praise to Him. – (Psalm 95:2, ERV)

Come face-to-face with God, and give thanks; with loud and joyful voices, praise Him in songs. – (Psalm 95:2, VOICE)

 

The best defense against discouragement and frustration, is praise and thanksgiving. Yesterday was a bit of a battle for me. Between fending off a doozy of a headache and a report of less-than-stellar student behavior during my absence on Monday, it was a struggle to operate from a space of gratitude and joy. Thankfully, I have incredible colleagues, and the blessing of positive and encouraging interactions with them throughout my day, made all of the difference in how my heart was held. I am certain that taking the opportunity to give mom a quick call during my planning period helped too. By the time I arrived at high school gymnastics practice to warm, friendly greetings by the girls and fellow coaches, joy and gratitude were back in their proper place, and practice flew by. Days such as these, I am so grateful for the people that He has placed in my life to remind me of what truly matters. May we ever come before the Lord with thanksgiving and praise Him with song; for He is good and His love endures forever.

As I mentioned, I was blessed to get a hold of Mom during my planning period in the morning yesterday. Speaking to her before her first out-patient speech appointment was good, as I know she was a bit nervous for the new, yet excited to continue to move forward on this journey of healing. Thankfully, I had the pleasure of checking back in with Mom last evening to hear how her first appointment had gone. Although it was the usual assessment to establish a starting point, she really liked the speech therapist, and was encouraged by the work he initiated and the hope that lies ahead. Additionally, now that she has been to an out-patient appointment, the other new upcoming therapy appointments are less daunting. For all of these things, we give thanks.

 

When discouragement, img_2019-11-20_04-57-501882498755502868600.jpg

Or frustration come;

Combat them with praise,

To the Holy One.

Despite what we see,

There’s always reason;

To give thanks to God,

In each new season.

For life and for breath,

For hope, strength and peace;

So many blessings,

By grace, He’s released.

Let us rise and praise,

Give thanks where it’s due;

All unto the Lord,

Whose love’s ever true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You we have reason to give thanks and sing songs of praise unto You, in every season. Thank You that even in a time that feels heavy, You are present and ready to carry the weight. Thank You that as we lift our burdens unto You and give praise where praise is due, we are able to navigate the way true. Forgive us for losing sight of gratitude in the grip of the grind. Teach us to keep our eyes on You, so that our perspective is eternal rather than on the temporary. Show us how to love those around us in the midst of their heaviness, so that they too may find reason to give thanks. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise and thanks for all of our days, for You are always good. Amen.

 

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

 

The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him; all the upright in heart will glory in Him! – Psalm 64:10

His Hand at Work

Help me, oh help me, God, my God, save me through Your wonderful love; then they’ll know that Your hand is in this, that You, God, have been at work. – (Psalm 109:26-27, MSG)

Lord my God, help me! Show Your faithful love and save me! Then they will know that You did it. They will know that it was Your power, Lord, that helped me. – (Psalm 109:26-27, ERV)

 

Though these words were the cry of David’s heart to God as he faced his enemies, they are still applicable today as we go through every type of trial. Yesterday, I was reminded again, countless times, of the faithful love of our Heavenly Father and the healing hope He extends through His hands and the hands and hearts of those He places around us. Throughout the day, I was reminded of His kindness and compassion for me in many ways. My students were better behaved than usual, despite not knowing my loss. Friends near and far extended sweet words of condolence and comfort, and my teaching twin, friend and fellow coach gave me a beautiful bouquet of roses (my grandmother’s name was Rose, unbeknownst to her) with a sweet card containing kind words and a verse that points to the promise my heart is holding. Practice after school went well, and I found myself smiling a bit more again. A quick run with a sweet friend followed, and further reminders of God’s goodness ensued. As I came home and was met with great greetings from my boys, gratitude filled my heart. Laughter and smiles were plentiful during my return trip to the gym with dear friends, and in the midst of my time there, a “just because” text came in and further reminded me of how truly blessed I am, and how God helps me in tangible ways in my time of need, by showing His love through the hands and hearts of those around me. May we call out to Jesus and seek His wonderful love, for there is no one who can help our hearts like Him.

 

Oh help me, my God,IMG_3146

By Your love and grace;

Make Your power known,

Be near in this place.

Show Your faithful love,

Through Your tender hand;

So all too may know,

By Your grace, we stand.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

You graciously show;

Your hands and Your heart,

Through people we know.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your help and Your hope in our times of need. Thank You that You make Your love tangible through people that You place in our lives, as they remind us of how readily You are moving on our behalf. Thank You that Your faithful love saves us from despair and reminds us again and again of the hope that is forever held in You. Forgive us for not calling out to You in our need, and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to hear Your heart for those around us, equipping us to be Your hands and heart to the hurting. Help us to love others well so that many see You through Your life within us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and Your faithful love so that Your power may be made evident in our lives. Amen.

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

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13