Hope in Hard Spaces

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

“I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, ERV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope – never forget that.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, VOICE)

Even though this verse is committed to memory and planted securely in my heart, there is something to be said about seeing it in print and bringing it to the surface of my heart and mind. God’s timing is perfect. He knows what we need, and when we need it most. I have not been in a good space the last few weeks, in particular, the last few days, as I am struggling with believing my purpose is found in the classroom. After more than a year and a half away from a “normal” classroom routine, kids are struggling to “do school” and I am challenged more than ever before to figure out how to help kids learn and grow when they choose distraction and avoidance rather than to try. I knew I was meant to be a teacher from a very early age. Clearly God purposed and prepared me for the position, yet after twenty-five years, I have been questioning everything. His plans for me are good, and include a future and a hope. On the roughest days, I have to remember and trust Him for the truth of His promises. May we ever seek the Lord, who has good plans for us all, and has a future and a hope that He is preparing for each of us.

Each life with a plan,

Purpose to fulfill;

Crafted with intent,

With strengths and with skills.

Let not obstacles,

Deter His intent;

For challenges come,

And strength’s heaven sent.

When things go awry,

Choose trust in what’s true;

Fresh hope, a future,

Are waiting for you.

Help us rise in faith,

To trust in what’s true;

Better is coming,

O Lord, bring it soon.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our hope and our future. Thank You that You have created each of us with a plan and with purpose. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when we become overwhelmed with the here and now. Teach us to lean into You to be our strength and our anchor through every storm. Show us how to love those around us well so that they may recognize the hope and future that lies before them is good. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for creating us each with a plan and purpose, and for being our hope both now and forevermore. Amen.

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

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

Goodness and Grace

Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. – (John 1:16, NIV)

Yes, the Word was full of grace and truth, and from Him we all received one blessing after another. – (John 1:16, ERV)

From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. – (John 1:16, NLT)

Because God is good, we benefit from the fullness of His grace. Every life, every breath, and every blessing is because of the goodness of God. He knows what we need far better than we do, and His abundance is poured out upon us. For me, when weekends come, I want to go and do and see, as I do not want to “waste” my time off. That being said, God knows what we need. This long weekend, what normally would have been a go, go, go adventure, has instead been one of relaxing, visiting, and resting. This morning, as I woke up close to my normal weekday time, I realized that I felt rested for the first time in quite a while. Had we adventured and been on the go as much as we normally might have, I would be returning home exhausted, rather than going back rested and ready for our second week of school. God’s goodness is all around us, and holds us up if we are willing to let Him in. This morning, I am so thankful for His gracious blessings that have allowed us time with family and rest. May we ever praise Him who provides what we need the most, and thank Him for His goodness and grace.

Because God is good,

We receive His grace;

Blessings and goodness,

Throughout all our days.

He grants us His peace,

As we are in need;

Provides us true rest,

From weariness, freed.

May we ever seek,

For in Him we find;

Love that’s enduring,

Faithful, and so kind.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are fullness, goodness, light and love, and that You bless us with Your grace, peace and rest as we ever seek You. Thank You that You provide what we need, not just what we think we want. Forgive us for not recognizing Your goodness and grace for us all. Teach us to trust and rely on You as You show us Your abundant love. Show us how to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for the fullness of Your goodness and grace for us all. Amen.

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

Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Before Each Day Begins

God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. – (Psalms 46:5, NIV)

God is in that city, so it will never be destroyed. He is there to help everyone before sunrise. – (Psalm 46:5, ERV)

The True God never sleeps and always resides in the city of joy; He makes it unstoppable, unshakable. When it awakes at dawn, the True God has already been at work. – (Psalm 46:5, VOICE)

Though this verse is about a specific place at a specific time, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. God’s presence remains in us and for us, as we rise and begin each new day. He has already been moving on our behalf, before we have even risen to begin our day. The Lord hears and knows our needs, and is moving in ways that are both seen and unseen as we wake each day anew. I appreciate the NIV translation, as it reminds me of Who is holding me up in His hands and moving on my behalf. God is for us and is able to do exceedingly more than we could ever hope or imagine. In this ongoing space of uncertainty, He is here and moving in our midst. May we ever seek the Lord and trust in Him, for He is unstoppable, unshakable, and is already at work as we rise.

The Lord’s ever near,

Photo by Lukas Rodriguez on Pexels.com

Before we’re awake;

He’s working in hearts,

Moving for our sake.

His love never ends,

His grace makes us new;

Always He is near,

As He leads us through.

Through our highest highs,

And lowest of lows;

Ever He’s for us,

Faithfulness that shows.

Lord, help us to trust,

For Your word is true;

Love that’s unending,

Help to lead us through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are near us and in us, ever working on our behalf, even before our day has begun. Thank You that You hold us up in the palm of Your hands, and will sustain us throughout all of our days. Forgive us for our circumstances and challenges to sway how we see You. Teach us to trust You and know Your goodness, power and love in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that remind them that they are loved, supported and held up in goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your goodness and grace that move on our behalf, and seek You anew at the start of each day. Amen.

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

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

Unwavering Love

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. – (Psalm 116:5, NIV)

The Lord is good and merciful; our God is so kind. – (Psalm 116:5, ERV)

He was so kind, so gracious to me. Because of His passion toward me, He made everything right and He restored me. – (Psalm 116:5, TPT)

Kids and dogs have a way of reminding me of God’s graciousness and compassion for us. In the same way that we love those in our care, despite how much they might frustrate us sometimes, our love for them does not waiver; I imagine how much more God loves us. If we, in our broken humanity can love and give grace, mercy and compassion to others, how much more does God do those things for us? God’s mercy is unending and His kindness is ever ready to be extended to us. He knows our hearts and what blesses us, and He takes joy in providing that which encourages and helps us know the abundance of His love for us. I am reminded of this each morning as I walk my dogs, watching the pure delight on their faces to get out and explore. Though their craziness and early morning wake-ups prior to the alarm frustrate me at times, their joy in getting outside, and the adoring snuggles they give, end up blessing me and reminding me of how much I love them. God’s kindness, grace and passion for us is even more. May we ever remember the Lord’s goodness and kindness in every blessing, for He restores us and loves us perfectly.

Abundant in grace,

The Lord is so kind;

His love is outpoured,

And goodness combined.

He blesses with peace,

Overwhelms with love;

Heals up hurting hearts,

Our Father above.

Remember His love,

And look for His grace;

In all things, always,

He’s present each place.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your overwhelming goodness and grace that we do not deserve. Thank You that You bless us and have compassion on us, even when we are a mess. Forgive us for forgetting just how good You are. Teach us to trust You and ever seek after You. Show us how to love those around us as You do, with compassion, kindness and mercy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to lead us in Your amazing love. Amen.

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

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34

The Knowing in Stillness

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God…” – (Psalm 46:10, NIV)

God says, “Stop fighting and know that I am God…” – (Psalm 46:10, ERV)

Surrender your anxiety. Be still and realize that I am God… – (Psalm 46:10, TPT)

I love that each of these translations use a different phrase prior to pointing out that God is God. We are called to be still, to stop fighting, and to surrender our anxiety to Him. These things do not transpire automatically, rather they are actions with intention. To be still, we must stop what we are doing and find a space of quiet rest. In the midst of fighting or anxiety, being still is typically the last thing we want to do. God’s ways are not our ways, yet He sees and knows what we need. It is in that space of slowing down and releasing what burdens us, that we recognize God in the midst of all that we are going through. In the same way that we often miss things if we are driving by a space because we are moving too quickly, and then suddenly notice if we are walking by at a leisurely pace, so it is also with the goodness of God. We realize the depth and breadth of who God is and how He loves best when we slow down, are intentionally still, and sit in the stillness of knowing that God is God and He is for us. May we all be intentional to find time and space to be still, for in that stillness peace comes and love abounds.

Just stop and be still,

Give all to the Lord;

Burdens and unrest,

Peace is our reward.

In stillness we’re shown,

The power of God;

And how great His love,

So deep and so broad.

Choose to surrender,

All things unto Him;

Faithful to meet us,

As we let Him in.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to surrender, lay our burdens and anxieties down, and simply be still. Thank You that we can trust in You and Your faithful love, no matter what state we find ourselves in. Forgive us for the times we don’t slow down and continue to try to carry what was never meant to be ours. Teach us to trust You more and to seek You in intentional stillness, for that is where we find You best. Show us how to love those around us in ways that help them discover still spaces to lay down what they need not carry. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be still and surrender all that we are and all that we are going through to You and Your love. Amen.

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

Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You. – Psalm 89:8

Strength for the Weary

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – (Isaiah 41:10, NIV)

Don’t worry – I am with you. Don’t be afraid – I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. I will support you with my right hand that brings victory. – (Isaiah 41:10, ERV)

So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you. I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up. – (Isaiah 41:10, VOICE)

For whatever reason, I have not slept well for the last few nights. Last night, I woke from a disturbing dream and felt very unsettled. Typically when that occurs, I try to clear my mind and go back to sleep. This time, all I could do was pray. Pray for protection, for peace, and for a covering over my family and friends. I know that God is always with me, and that I need not be afraid or anxious. It is He who strengthens and upholds us, and is faithful to be found each time we choose to seek Him. Yesterday, despite exhaustion, I was granted the strength and energy to accomplish all that was needed. Today, I will trust Him for the same. May we ever seek our Savior to help, strengthen and support us, for in Him, we have no reason to fear.

Choose not to worry,

And be not afraid;

The Lord is present,

He will make a way.

Faithful forever,

God grants what we need;

He knows and He sees,

Gives strength to succeed.

Hope for the weary,

Strength when ours is gone;

Peace in His presence,

So we may press on.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grant us strength when we are weary and burdened. Thank You that we need not fear. Thank You that You see and know our needs. Thank You that as we seek You, You meet us and lead us in Your strength. Forgive us for staying stuck, even in the moment, as You are always available for us to seek You. Teach us to turn to You in trust, for You are faithful to be with us and to meet our needs. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer strength, help and support where it is needed. Show us how to love well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set fears at Your feet and rely on You to be present to help in all things. Amen.

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

Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His dwelling place. – 1 Chronicles 16:27

Help in the New

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – (Philippians 4:6, NIV)

Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. – (Philippians 4:6, ERV)

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. – (Philippians 4:6, VOICE)

This is a timely reminder, as I have been feeling a bit anxious about a new role that I will be filling. I am excited and overjoyed, yet nervous because I feel ill-equipped and want to do things well. God knows my heart, and I have been blessed with the opportunity. Even now, as I anticipate what is yet to come, I need to place it all before Him and trust, for He knows what I need before I do, and is faithful to meet me each time I seek Him. My part is to do all that I can to properly prepare, and to continue to seek the Lord as I trust in Him to lead and guide me well. He is faithful and I will trust in Him. May we ever present our requests before our Redeemer, for with Him, we need not worry nor be anxious, but rather give Him thanks for all that is yet to come.

Do not be anxious,

About anything;

Instead, go to God,

Give all to our King.

Every request,

He’s faithful to hear;

God leads and guides us,

Ever He is near.

So, give God the praise,

Thank Him for all things;

Opportunities,

He lovingly brings.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and faithful to hear our every request. Thank You that You provide new opportunities for us to step out, learn and grow. Thank You that we need never walk alone, for You are faithful to be present and provide the help we need. Forgive us for the anxious ways in us, as anxiety comes when we think about navigating the new on our own. Teach us to seek You and to place all our concerns in Your hands. Lead us to move forward in faith. Show us how to strengthen, support and encourage those around us in ways that make Your overwhelming love evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to lead and guide us in all that we do. Amen.

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

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

Confident Hope

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  (Hebrews 11:1, NIV) 

Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. – (Hebrews 11:1, ERV) 

Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. – (Hebrews 11:1, TPT) 

Everywhere I look, I see the need for hope. Faith in what we cannot yet see, provides hope for better. For many of us in education or impacted by education, hope is much needed. This ongoing space of unknown and unfamiliar territory makes the coming year a bit nerve-wracking. However, when our hope and assurance come from Christ, we can be confident that He will be with us, every step of the way. Though we know not what the coming year will hold, He knows. In hindsight, though the spring quarter of school was nothing like any of us would have hoped or imagined, good still was present in the crazy unknown that we could not see. For our family, it was the addition of a puppy, two seniors who graduated, and a season of navigating much time at home together. God has been good and faithful, reminding us all that He is present, despite how things appear. My faith and hope must be in Him, though I cannot see Him yet, as the evidence of His love, care and provision are ever near. May we all find faith in He who is our hope, despite what we cannot yet see. 

May we rise in faith, 

Holding fast to hope; 

In that yet unseen, 

God’s our safety rope. 

He is the anchor, 

That holds us secure; 

In the great unknown, 

His presence is clear. 

Always He loves us, 

God’s grace is made known; 

As He grows our faith, 

And hope’s made our own. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that faith grows our hope, even in the spaces where we cannot see better or different. Thank You that You are always working and moving on our behalf. Forgive us for our fearfulness when we cannot see different than what we are living in. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Provider and our hope. Show us how to love those around us best, so that all may come to know the hope that is held through faith in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we follow You in faith, and trust You in the unseen. Amen. 

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

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

Gaze at the Glory

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. – (Psalm 19:1, NIV) 

The heavens tell about the glory of God. The skies announce what His hands have made. – (Psalm 19:1, ERV) 

God’s splendor is a tale that is told; His testament is written in the stars. Space itself speaks of His story every day through the marvels of the heavens. His truth is on tour in the starry vault of the sky, showing His skill in creation’s craftsmanship. – (Psalm 19:1, TPT) 

Even in the midst of all that is going on in the world, the evidence of God remains. All it takes is a glimpse of a sunrise or sunset, or to gaze at the moon and stars in all of their splendor, to be reminded of God’s glory. The same hands that paint the glorious array of colors and hung the stars in their place, holds each of us in the hollow of His hand. God, in His great love for us, created beauty for us to see. He knows us each by name, and designed each person with intention. There is a plan and a purpose for all of us; and as we seek Him, He is faithful to make His plans known.  

Today, as I prepare for my last day of work for the school year, and ready myself for my boys’ graduation, I am ever aware of God’s faithfulness to carry us through. His splendor is told through His presence that has carried us throughout the years, and brought us to this important milestone. Many times, over the last few years, I have watched the sunrise, and have been shown His goodness and faithfulness through the glorious array of colors awakening the sky. Tomorrow, following the broadcast version of the boys’ graduation, (recording of each student walking in cap and gown, as well as the recorded speakers), we will be driving to see my mom, for the first time since the shutdown began. Though we will not be able to embrace and interact as we normally would, we are grateful that we can go and lay eyes on her for ourselves, and visit, masked and physically distanced. One of the things that stood out to me, is one of my boys made a point to tell me that he wanted to wake up early enough to watch the sunrise while we are there, as he has fond memories of sitting together with mom in her living room, watching together in awe. He too, knows of the faithfulness of God, and His goodness that greets us anew every morning. It has not been an easy road, particularly during this pandemic with school closed, yet we have seen and known God’s goodness throughout. The work of God’s hands are tangible reminders that He is good and He is faithful. May we gaze at the glory of God’s creation, and know His faithfulness and love. 

We look to the sky, 

And God’s love is clear; 

Such beauty beheld, 

As we know He’s near. 

The very same hands, 

That painted the sky; 

Made us with purpose, 

Gave us wings to fly. 

Created, equipped, 

To go forth and rise; 

To love and be loved, 

It’s how we’re designed. 

Lay hold of the gifts, 

Birthed deep within you; 

Boldly walk forward, 

Embrace each step new. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need only look up to be reminded of who You are and how You love. Thank You for the tangible evidence of Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for the times that we have made You too small. Teach us to pause and look up, making us ever aware of Your goodness, faithfulness and love. Show us how to love one another in the way that You intended; valuing, celebrating, encouraging and lifting each other up, so that Your love would be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the beauty that surrounds us and reminds us of Your unending love for all. Amen. 

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

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Showing Love

God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. – (Hebrews 6:10, NIV)

God is fair, and He will remember all the work you have done. He will remember that you showed your love to Him by helping His people and that you continue to help them. – (Hebrews 6:10, ERV)

For God is not unfair. How can He forget your hard work for Him, or forget the way you used to show your love for Him – and still do – by helping His children? – (Hebrews 6:10, TLB)

 

Everything points back to loving God and loving people. If we are loving people with the love that God has planted within us, we are loving Him as well. Love is an ongoing choice to care for others – body, heart, mind and soul. It is an intentional decision to see and meet needs, in the same way that God sees our needs and provides for us in love. Each time that we choose to love others, we are loving God’s creation. To love the created, we must also love the Creator. God sees and He knows each time that we choose to love. We are saved by grace, but it is certainly good and right to live according to His plan of love. May we rise up and put our faith in action, as we intentionally choose to love as God loves each of us.

 

For we are all called, wp-15898092692427851940096367446932.jpg

To love as we’re loved;

Love God and people,

With strength from above.

Love not just with words,

But with all we do;

Actions speak clearest,

To show love is true.

God will remember,

Our each act of grace;

In love and kindness,

How we run life’s race.

It is not a sprint,

We must persevere;

Each day choose to love,

And know He is near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love in the same way that You love each of us. Thank You that You see and know each time we willfully choose to love others in the same way that You call us to love. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to love as we ought to love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love You and others according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and how You love, and seek You to empower us to do the same. Amen.

 

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

 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3