Before All Things and In All Things

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. – (Colossians 1:17, NIV)

The Son was there before anything was made. And all things continue because of Him. – (Colossians 1:17, ERV)

He existed before anything was made, and now everything finds completion in Him. – (Colossians 1:17, TPT)

 

There are times when particular groups of people are joined together for a season, that the reality of this verse is made tangible. I am always in awe when beautifully diverse groups of people come together for a common purpose, and grow close in the process. This winter, as I participated in my first season as a high school assistant gymnastics coach, I have had the pleasure of witnessing and participating in such a fantastic unfolding as this team has bonded and had a season that has far exceeded their own expectations. Last night, the ladies competed at the state gymnastics meet as a team. To qualify, they had an undefeated regular season, were among the top teams at sub-districts, and again found themselves on the podium as a team at the state-qualifying district meet. There were personal bests and disappointments, a moment of terror as a girl went down during her floor routine, (thankfully only sustaining what would be a relatively minor injury and she should good as new in a day or two) and one of our seniors qualified for the finals later today on the floor exercise. All of the girls celebrated the successes with those who achieved something they had been working for, comforted those who did not perform as well as they had hoped, and gathered around the young lady who was injured to be certain she was okay, extending comfort and care. All in all, it has been just such a season that reminds me that He goes before all things and holds all things together. I am beyond blessed to have been a part of it, and cannot wait to continue coaching with the returning underclassmen. May we all look for the ways that God makes His presence evident, as He has gone before us, and He holds all things together.

 

Before all that is,wp-1582384037844602029485298511295.jpg

The Lord always was;

With good things in mind,

Because He loves us.

Always He is near,

Wherever we go;

Whatever we do,

His presence made known.

We need only look,

In wonder, shall see;

The power of love,

God grants you and me.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You prepare time and space for us. Thank You that You bless us with the people whom we are surrounded with in different seasons of our lives. Forgive us for the times that we take the gifts for granted. Teach us to appreciate each person and each season, as You show us Your heart and grow us more to reflect Your heart to others if we rely on You. Show us how to lean into You, so that we would love well, all those whom we interact with each day. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise and honor You for who You are and how You love. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Hope in Unfailing Love

May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You. – (Psalm 33:22, NIV)

Yes, Lord, let Your constant love surround us, for our hopes are in You alone. – (Psalm 33:22, TLB)

Let Your love and steadfast kindness overshadow us continually, for we trust and wait upon You! – (Psalm 33:22, TPT)

 

It has been a painfully long week. Students have been struggling to choose well in a few of my classes, and yesterday seemed to be the crux that led to two ugly scenarios. The first resulted in a pair of students being removed from my classroom, despite multiple opportunities to make a change and choose well, followed by a horrendous fight that involved a student from another classroom who was let into my room during the final few minutes of the day. It was a shocking and horrible end to an otherwise reasonable day, and I was grateful for gymnastics practice after school with a great group of girls, that was to follow a quick debrief with my colleague in the classroom next door. Despite the events that left me questioning my sanity and career choice, I was aware of God’s unfailing love for me, as He always has a way of making it tangible. My fellow coaches, who are dear friends, were fabulous, kind and compassionate. Another friend and colleague who helps intervene with situations such as the two that took place during my day, intentionally made way to the gym to check-in with me and debrief. After practice, just prior to returning to my classroom to complete the paperwork for the fight, I received a text message from another friend on staff who had been in the office when the kids involved were brought in, and she was making sure that I was okay. Steadfast kindness is my reminder to continue to hope and trust in Him. Though I know not what the future holds, I trust that He has good plans, and that His kindness and love will not continue to keep me in such spaces of distress. He is good, and because He loves me well, I will continue to choose to love.

 

God’s unfailing love, Hope in Unfailing Love

The hope for our days;

Shows reasons to trust,

Faithfulness always.

No matter what comes,

The Lord’s always near;

He’s present to help,

Each request, He hears.

Choose wait on the Lord,

Place all hope in Him;

Kind, faithful, steadfast,

True love always wins.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good, faithful, kind and Your steadfast love never ends. Thank You that as we come to You and place our trust in You, You hear us and are present with us. Thank You that though bad things happen, You never leave us nor forsake us. Forgive us for our frustration with the brokenness of this world. Teach us to trust You and keep moving forward in love. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend what is needed most to hurting hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your unfailing love forever, and give You praise for Your presence that You make tangible. Amen.

 

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

 

Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of Your unfailing love. – Psalm 6:4

 

 

Undeniably Good

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – (Psalm 34:8, NIV)

Give the Lord a chance to show you how good He is. Great blessings belong to those who depend on Him! – (Psalm 34:8, ERV)

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him. – (Psalm 34:8, MSG)

 

God is undeniably good. The last few weeks have been a bit overwhelming, yet each time I have gone to God to be my refuge and my strength, He has met me and carried me through. One of the most trying things for me as an educator, is being observed and evaluated. I am constantly evaluating what is going on in my classroom, seeking solutions to improve, yet somehow, the process of being observed always makes me feel like I cannot ever be or do enough. Anyway, yesterday was my first observation of the year. Though I was prepared and had given it to God each time anxiousness entered in, my nerves were still surging. My evaluator is kind and compassionate, and as much as it was possible, she did help set me a bit more at ease than I normally would have been. I survived, and the remainder of the day went quickly. More of God’s good was witnessed throughout the evening, as I partook in my first high school gymnastics meet as an assistant coach. The girls did well; supporting and encouraging one another with kindness and grace. In the end, my alma mater, where I coach, took first among the four schools in attendance. It was a sweet end, to a day that had once again shown me, just how good God truly is.

 

If you give God room, For God and His Grace

He’s faithful to show;

His goodness and grace,

Blessings to bestow.

Take refuge in Him,

For there we find rest;

Comfort and His peace,

As He loves us best.

So, choose taste and see,

That the Lord is good;

Faithful forever,

His love is assured.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can look, see and experience Your goodness when we run to You. Thank You that You are our refuge and our strength. Thank You that Your faithfulness knows no end. Thank You that You are loving and kind, and have our very best in mind. Forgive us for our fears and anxiousness with the things that we cannot control. Teach us to trust You more, as You go before us and remain with us, all the days of our lives. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your goodness and faithfulness in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we taste and see how good You are, and take refuge in You, our blessed Redeemer. Amen.

 

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

 

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds. – Psalm 73:28

Restore to Me the Joy

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – (Psalm 51:12, NIV)

Your help made me so happy. Give me that joy again. Make my spirit strong and ready to obey You. – (Psalm 51:12, ERV)

Give back to me the deep delight of being saved by You; let Your willing Spirit sustain me. – (Psalm 51:12, VOICE)

 

As I sat down to read my devotions this morning, the words that kept resonating in my heart and mind, were “restore to me the joy”, despite the lack of connection to the passages I was reading. For the last few days, I have been in a bit of a funk. I seemed to reach my breaking point yesterday, as I could not coax the normal joy from within, to make any sort of appearance externally. The weight on my heart and mind was just too heavy. Between sickness, disease, and pending death in family members, work, home, and numerous responsibilities and demands that go far beyond what one person is meant to bear alone, I was beginning to crumble on the inside. Kindness extended from colleagues made my eyes threaten to defy me, and it took everything in me to fend off tears. Isolation and work best suited my sullen state during lunch, and God granted me the strength to navigate the remainder of the day. Thankfully, gymnastics practice after school is a place that brings joy, as I delight in the doing that offers help and encouragement in an arena outside of the classroom, where I am not being assessed on every move that I make. Post practice I had the privilege of meeting up with my running buddy for a run, and that too, reminded me of the joy that is within me as I moved freely, pounding out the pain into the pavement. Upon arriving home, my amazing husband was set to love me well. He was aware of my struggle, and took care of dinner preparations, clean up, and then just sat with me, in silent support loving me all the while. This morning, I feel lighter somehow. God is faithful, and He is willing to restore His joy in us as we seek Him. His joy is not happiness with our circumstances, but rather a deep delight in Him, despite what we are walking through. The smile that is typically so readily seen on my face is not because life is always easy, but rather it is rooted in the joy granted through knowing who holds me in the hollow of His hands, every minute of every day. Perhaps yesterday I lost sight of that for a time, or my frail humanity reared its ugly head. Either way, sorrow and heavy took a spot not designated for them, and today, they are being placed back in the palms of He who can carry it all. May we ever seek the Lord to hold our heart and our hands in our heaviness, and pursue Him to restore the joy that comes in knowing our eternity is secure forever in Him.

 

O Lord God above, Restore to Me the Joy

May I ever seek;

Your joy in sorrow,

And strength when I’m weak.

For You are faithful,

You’re mighty to save;

You love us to life,

Through all of our days.

Help us to place all,

In Your mighty hands;

As Your love restores,

Faith we need to stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the One who restores true joy within us. Thank You that You love us and take our burdens upon Yourself, when we are carrying more than we should. Forgive us for losing sight of where our true joy resides. Teach us to trust You more, so that Your light will shine through us, always. Show us how to love those around us in practical and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to restore our joy in You. Amen.

 

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

 

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. – John 8:12

True Rest

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along the right paths, bringing honor to His Name. – (Psalm 23:1-3, NLT) 

The Lord is my shepherd. I will always have everything I need. He gives me green pastures to lie in. He leads me by calm pools of water. He restores my strength. He leads me on right paths to show that He is good. – (Psalm 23:1-3, ERV) 

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, You find me quiet pools to drink from. True to Your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. – (Psalm 23:1-3, MSG) 

 

Today is my last day in Minnesota. I will be heading home this afternoon, with much to do awaiting my return. There is grading still to complete, gymnastics begins tomorrow, and I have practice tomorrow evening. Just thinking about all that needs to be accomplished, is a bit overwhelming. Psalm 23 is a great reminder, as I know that I have all that I need in the Lord. He provides places of rest where there seem to be none, and He renews my strength as I seek to follow His direction for my days. May we ever remember to seek our strong Shepherd, as He will lead us to spaces of rest and restored strength. 

 

When life overwhelms, img_20180126_204151_9601230716808.jpg

With all that’s to do; 

May we find true rest, 

That comes seeking You. 

For You are our strength, 

When ours is but gone; 

You lead and renew, 

Help us carry on. 

Bring our hearts to peace, 

As You show the way; 

That we rest in You, 

Refreshed for new days. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You provide all that we need and more. Thank You that You lead us to quiet, peaceful places, so that we may receive the rest we need. Thank You that You renew our strength and lead us in the ways we are meant to go. Forgive us for our anxiousness about all that lies ahead, and teach us to trust in You. Show us how to rest in the spaces that You provide, and to embrace the strength and direction that You give to lead us where we are meant to go. Help us to love those around us in a way that brings peace and encourages others to seek direction from You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our praise for the rest, strength, peace and direction that You provide as we seek You. Amen. 

 

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

 

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

 

 

My Love and My Strength

I love You, Lord; You are my strength. – (Psalm 18:1, NLT)

Lord, how I love You! For You have done such tremendous things for me. – (Psalm 18:1, TLB)

I love You, God – You make me strong. – (Psalm 18:1, MSG)

 

The verse speaks for itself, as David is a dude to whom I can relate. This past week has been one of the busiest weeks of the year thus far. Monday, semester grades were due and it was the first day of gymnastics season. (I am the head coach at my school) Tuesday, after a full day of teaching and coaching, I rushed home to make dinner for my boys, and then was blessed with an evening at a hockey game. Wednesday, I had early morning practice, another full day of teaching, afternoon staff meetings, followed by time with my boys, and then errand running with my dear friend. By the time I had arrived home on Wednesday afternoon, the beginning of a migraine had taken root. Thursday, I woke and was greeted by a pounding headache still, but did not have a “tap out” option in my week, so I had to trust the Lord to provide the strength I needed to teach, participate in team collaboration, function during my mid-year evaluation, coach, and arrive safely home. I was able to get outside for a long walk, followed by a quieter evening at home. Friday found its arrival with the migraine still in place, so another day of trusting and leaning in happened here. Thankfully, I was able to reach my chiropractor and friend, and she ordered her schedule to meet me at the office after practice, to adjust, as misalignment often contributes to the pain. At last, after three days, I had relief. He had done tremendous things for me to sustain, and then provide way for real relief. It is amazing how God demonstrates His strength in our weakness, and further shows us how worthy of love He is, as He loves us so well. May we let our love for the Lord lead us, as we trust Him to be our strength.

 

Lord, how I love You,not-defined-by-a-day

For all that You are;

How You provide strength,

You’re never too far.

When we call on You,

You hear each request;

You grant us the strength,

To navigate best.

I can’t even count,

The most wondrous things;

Each act of Your love,

My reasons to sing.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, I love You and am so thankful for who You are and how You love. You are my strength in weakness, and my hope and help, as I need You to navigate my days well. Forgive me for the times that I attempt to power through without seeking You. Teach me to trust You more, so that I would seek You in all things and at all times, and recognize the tremendous things that You do for me each day. Show me how to love well, those around me, so that they might gain glimpses of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we love You with our lives, and trust You to be our strength. Amen.

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

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

Coaching through Christ

Coaching gymnastics has been a part of my life since I was sixteen years old. More of my life has been spent coaching and in the gym, than not. That being said, I still get nervous before the first day of tryouts every year. I am not sure if it is empathy for the masses that will walk into the little gym after school, or if it is my own desire to be sure that everything is in place as it ought to be. Perhaps it is a bit of both. Either way, the butterflies come as the time draws near, yet the moment the first girl walks into the gym, all fear fades away, and I am home.

 

Despite this being a space where I know that the Lord has both called and equipped me, I imagine the nerves are a blessing. Because I get nervous, I remain dependant on Him. Though coaching is operating in an area of strength, I am ever aware of my need for Christ to be present. If I am not functioning in His grace, the girls will know the difference. Coaching is so much more than training up gymnasts, it is about creating confidence in young ladies, where they may not have had confidence before. My hope is that they will walk out of the gym having discovered that they can do more than they ever thought they could.

 

Girls are not allowed to say “can’t” in our gym. Essentially, they are discovering that they “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us,” – (Philippians 4:13) through ongoing acts of faith. It requires faith in their coaches and faith in themselves to attempt new skills and take on new challenges. For those who are willing, great goals are achieved, and new confidence is discovered.

 

Our lives ought to operate the same way. Can’t should not be a part of our vocabulary. If God calls us to it, He will make a way for us to get through it. The seemingly impossible is possible in Christ. It is only through His strength that we can discover how much more He has made us to be, if we are only willing to walk where He calls. May we rise up in His strength, and go forth, trusting that He is faithful to supply all that is needed to answer that which He asks.

 

When working in strength,Coaching through Christ

or a deficit;

rely on the Lord,

our hope to beget.

For there is no can’t,

when the Lord has called;

He’ll grant what’s needed,

Provider of all.

May we rise in faith,

trust His strength, go forth;

know that He is faithful,

our tried and true north.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to walk us through whatever You call us to do. Thank You that nerves remind us of our need for You, even in our areas of strength. Thank You that You are loving and kind, and that You care about the little things too. Forgive us for the times that we try to operate in our own strength, rather than rely on You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may learn to lean on You in all things and at all times. Let us love others as You love us, and may many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth in Your strength in all that we do. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14