A Loving Warrior

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all Your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. – (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT)

The Lord your God is with you. He is like a powerful soldier. He will save you. He will show how much He loves you and how happy He is with you. He will laugh and be happy about you. – (Zephaniah 3:17, ERV)

Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, He’ll calm you with His love and delight you with His songs. – (Zephaniah 3:17, MSG)

 

It amazes me how often the verse of the day on my Bible application, is exactly the reminder I need. This morning, as I am on the other side of the mountains from mom and prepare to head back to work for a few days before returning to her after having not set foot in my classroom in nearly three weeks, I am more than a little nervous. Fortunately, I am comfortable about mom because my sister is there with her, and am able to be present with my family at home. Yesterday morning, I actually woke myself up from dreaming, as I had been telling my students about what had happened, and why I had been gone so long. Clearly returning to my classes has weighed heavily on my heart, and the unknown can be a bit of a fearful space. That being said, the past several weeks of my life have been nothing but unknowns. When we first drove to Wenatchee to mom in the hospital, we did not know the shape that she would be in. We knew not what the road to recovery and restoration would have in store, nor the timeline that would be required. Even now, we do not fully know the answers, however, God does. Even in this, we have found joy. There has been laughter, and smiles, gladness and delight. Peace and calm have come when they did not seem possible, and really did not make sense.

Mom continues to work tirelessly in each therapy session, and that which used to be the most frustration for her, is now becoming an area where she is seeing the most rapid growth and gratification. Speech therapy works not only on word recognition, cognition, reading, memory, logic and the like, but they are also working on strengthening her vocal cords. One of the things the stroke affected was the power of mom’s voice. Typically outgoing with a boisterous and jovial voice, the stroke left her quite soft-spoken. Her vocal work in speech therapy is helping her find the power in her voice again. We share many giggles in the process.

In all of this, God is with us, a present, loving warrior, battling on our behalf, loving us through the process as He calms our fears. May we ever trust in the One who delights in us, and listen to the songs He sings over us with joy.

 

The Lord is present, Bold Grace

Ever He is near;

Loving warrior,

We’ve nothing to fear.

With our God for us,

He’ll hold us upright;

Fighting our battles,

All day and all night.

Choose trust in the One,

Whose love grants us peace;

And sings over us,

Delightful release.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being both our loving Savior and mighty Warrior. Thank You that You delight in us and sing over us, granting us peace in our spaces of fear. Forgive us for our fear of the unknown and unexplainable; for You already know the outcome and have a plan and a purpose for all. Teach us to trust the truth of Your word, that Your plans are to prosper and not to harm, to give a hope and a future. Show us how to love those around us well, so that Your loving strength shines through us clearly. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise up and receive the covering You provide for us in Your strength and love. 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

Wise with Words

When you talk, you should always be kind and wise. Then you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should. – (Colossians 4:6, ERV)

Let your conversations be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. – (Colossians 4:6, NLT)

Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not to put them down, nor cut them out. – (Colossians 4:6, MSG)

 

First, in a season of so many unknowns, it is difficult to speak with any sort of wisdom about what lies ahead. That being said, kindness and grace must be intentional and come from Christ, or answers will not be the right response in the moment. Before I expand further on what I am learning about this through this whole ordeal, I know the update that so many are looking for ought to come first.

Yesterday, was another good day for mom. Her day was full of various therapy sessions, each one with intention and purpose to propel her to strength and independence. She was at the table in the dining area picking at breakfast when we arrived and handed her the “smuggled in” Frappuccino. From there we met with the social worker and case coordinator (whom I affectionately refer to as Thor and Llama, based on the collections in their office), as they reviewed mom’s rights and care information with mom, my sister and me. Next up was the OT extraordinaire, Stephanie (I think, so many names), who took her in to help her begin to relearn the whole showering process. Cleanliness is next to godliness, and she felt refreshed to have soaked in that warm water, rather than hospital shower wipes. Her least favorite rebuilding session so far was speech therapy. It had little to do with the who, and everything to do with the what. Due to where the stroke occurred in mom’s brain, she is experiencing some apraxia. For those non-medical folks like myself, the dictionary defines apraxia as a disorder of the nervous system, characterized by an inability to perform purposeful movements, but not accompanied by a loss of sensory functions or paralysis. To make it even simpler, based on observations, there has been a disruption in the connection between message sending and receiving for some words to actions, words to objects, and most certainly, thoughts to movements on the right side of her body. Speech is the space where she is made glaringly aware of the disconnect. It is difficult and frustrating, and an area where extra grace will be needed, for sure. Already the speech therapist will adjust the schedule to meet with her in two 30-minute sessions, rather than one longer sitting. As soon as we returned downstairs from speech, Sophie, the recreational therapist came in. Who even knew that was a thing?! Anyway, super sweet, and her job is to help mom get back to doing the recreational things she enjoys, so I made sure she was aware that the bar was extraordinarily high. Sophie was quite pleased. Next up was OT again to work on vision and upper body, then lunch, followed by PT. It was not Penny yesterday, but Kristen was equally lovely and encouraging, and PT is by far, mom’s favorite therapy session of the day. In fact, she was trying to negotiate trading speech time for more PT time. 🙂 We were able to go outside again after dinner, and enjoyed a movie together before I headed back home for the night. A few phone calls were made on speaker, which was huge for mom, as it was a start to regaining a connection to those not standing in front of us.

Anyway, back to the verse of the day. This whole situation is showing me more and more how critically important it is to seek the Lord and His grace to speak to others. We have now had two people in the last week, tell us (in front of my mom!) stories of their own family members who had strokes and died a few months later. Seriously? Not the encouragement, wisdom, nor words seasoned in the love of Christ that this girl’s heart needed to hear, nor the protector in me wanted ANYWHERE near my mom. I was gracious, but it took much self-control to not scream that I am not their therapist, I am fighting for MY MOM, and no nay-sayers allowed. I am well aware of the risks and reality of our circumstances. What we need is love and support, encouragement and most of all, covering in prayer. It is a strange place when I don’t know someone who cares deeply for mom, is super emotional, and I am an empath who refuses to emote. Too much weight. Additionally, mom doesn’t need to see others feeling sorry for her. She needs cheerleaders, encouragers, shoulders who are ready to rise up and walk beside her. It is biblical. It is right. There is an army that has risen, and for you, we are forever grateful. For those waiting in the wings, feeling uncertain of what to do; keep praying – Your prayers are fueling this fight!

 

O Lord let my words, img_2019-05-08_06-29-487932028719116438520.jpg

Be faithful and true;

Seasoned with kindness,

Reflections of You.

By Your loving grace,

May all that I say;

Encourage, build up,

Each day, Lord, I pray.

God grant me wisdom,

In each circumstance;

May Your truth be known,

Your kingdom advanced.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the watcher of our words. Thank You that what is intended to harm, You use for good. Thank You that You guard our hearts, even though we may have moments of frustration of anger at what we hear, we can trust that You are greater and have us in Your hands. Forgive us for those moments when anger arises and our thoughts are less than godly toward others for the things that they say. Forgive us too, for the times that we have done the same. Not one of us is perfect and we all have fallen short and said the wrong thing at the wrong time, even with the best of intentions. Teach us how to lean on You to love and extend grace with wisdom through our words. Show us how to love like You to all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to speak with wisdom and grace, ever extending kindness and grace to all those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. – Colossians 4:2

Sing Praise

I will praise God’s Name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving. – (Psalm 69:30, NIV)

I will praise God’s Name in song. I will honor Him by giving Him thanks. – (Psalm 69:30, ERV)

Then I will praise God with my singing! My thanks will be His praise. – (Psalm 69:30, TLB)

 

During my quick turn-around at home, I was able to spend time with my boys and attend early service at my church prior to driving back to Wenatchee yesterday. During worship, there were moments that the words would be stuck behind the lump in my throat, yet my heart was still singing His praise. Fast-forward to my drive, and I had plenty of time to reflect on my own. Anyone in my close circle who has road-tripped with me, knows that I actually enjoy blasting a variety of music and singing at the top of my lungs. At first, the heaviness in my heart needed a little… hmm… let’s just say Skillet fit the bill best. (They also happen to be my favorite jam for running) Anyway, the heaviness began to give way to hope, and I switched gears and began to listen to worship music. There was something powerful about singing praise. A calm came over me, and all I could think about was how different this drive to Wenatchee was than my drive had been one week prior. One week ago, Mark was driving me into the unknown. We had received devastating news after investigating the prompting within us, and did not have any idea of the condition mom would be in when we arrived. This time, I had so much to be thankful for: we are so grateful to still have mom (we know that so often people in similar circumstances do not have such a fortunate fate), she is able to understand everything, she can communicate clearly, she has feeling in her right side (which is hopeful, even with the current paralysis of the right arm and leg), we have an incredible army supporting us all – in Wenatchee, Federal Way, Albany, across the country, and around the world (we are overwhelmed in the very best way by the outpouring of love and support!), and we, above all else, have a God in heaven who loves and heals, holds and moves, and has us all in the palm of His hands.

Last evening, after I had returned and spent several hours at the hospital with Meg and Mom, my sister and I went to the acute care facility on a scouting mission. We managed to talk our way in, and were very pleased with both the people that we met and the facility and how it is set up. Our biggest prayer now is that the move actually occurs today, as scheduled, and that there are no insurance or medical obstacles to prevent the move. Mom is more than ready to get out of the hospital and begin being far more active than the hospital setting allows. She is still not ready to have visitors outside of family or those we consider “framily” (friends so close that they have become an extension of the family). For those who love her dearly and are eager to visit, please be patient and know that waiting is best for her healing. In the meantime, you are welcome to download Marco Polo and send her a video message, send a card, a text message, etc. She still is not interested in her phone, but we will take it each day to show videos or read messages that are encouraging.

May we praise Him with songs of thanksgiving, for He is worthy of all of our thanks and praise.

 

When I’m lost for words,

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View from Mom’s back deck. ❤

Or sound won’t give way;

My hearts still shall sing,

Lord, ever I’ll praise.

No matter what comes,

You always are good;

When my world’s shattered,

Beside me, You’ve stood.

You never leave me,

Ever You stay near;

You point me to hope,

And silence my fear.

Each morning I rise,

And greet the new day;

I give all to You,

O Lord, lead the way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and faithfulness to us, even in this. Thank You that You love us in tangible ways, as You have surrounded us with an army of warriors, ready to serve. Thank You for making Your presence and Your blessings so abundantly clear, even in the midst of the hardest circumstances. Forgive us for our spaces of fear and doubt. Teach us to trust You more, as You are far greater than anything that stands in the way of Your will being done. Remind our hearts to sing when our voices cannot find the words. Continue to place Your song in our hearts, as Your song is truth and life and light. Show us how to love those around us in a way that shares Your tune. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as our lives sing Your song of praise each day that we draw breath. 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

 

 

 

 

 

Hope When it Feels Like Hell

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – (Romans 12:12, NIV)

Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time. – (Romans 12:12, ERV)

Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer. – (Romans 12:12, VOICE)

 

This morning, this is the very reminder that I needed the most. I know there are stages of grief, particularly when something so traumatic takes place with a parent, especially a parent who has filled the role of both mother and father, coach and teacher, friend and confidant, leader, example, pastor, sole grandparent to my children, and so much more. Anger seems to be the stage in this process that both my sister and I are in. Between the frustration of the questions of why her, the outrage at the details and the seeming disclosure violations, the paperwork battle to place her near family (which is far less costly than the dang hospital), to simply being just plain mad that it happened to OUR mom. We would never wish this on another, but why her? I know no one has the answers, and quite frankly, I would probably throat punch anyone who tried to give me answers. In fact, I woke myself in the night saying “throat punch”, as my left arm shot forward with a balled fist. Thankfully, I was facing the opposite direction of my Viking, and he was soundly sleeping. Finding joy in the hope is particularly difficult when we feel like we are on hold. Patience in static spots is not a strength of mom’s, Meg’s nor mine. Prayer, we can do, as I know so many of you are too. Perhaps that is the point of this post. Please pray for joy in hope, patience in all of this, and ever be faithful to continue to contend for mom’s complete and total healing.

 

Find joy in the hope, 05031906408349317511433862260.jpg

Of what lies ahead;

For fear’s a liar,

No matter what’s said.

God is far greater,

Than all that we face;

We must be patient,

It’s His, not our pace.

In everything,

Choose seek God and pray;

no matter what’s seen,

God will make a way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are bigger than our frustration and anger and grief. Thank You that You hold us in Your hands and ride out our rage, waiting lovingly to embrace us with Your joy, peace and comfort. Forgive us for allowing fear a foothold based on our limited understanding. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to find joy in the hope of all that lies ahead, patience in the here and now, and to pray without ceasing. Lead us to love well, all those around us, so that they may recognize Your heart for them through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, even in this, for we know that You alone can bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Amen.

 

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

 

To all who mourn in Israel He will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory. – Isaiah 61:3

 

Courage Comes

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, NIV)

Remember, I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – (Joshua 1:9, ERV)

Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take. – (Joshua 1:9, MSG)

 

As my sister and I navigate these days with our mom, into this vast unknown, there are many barriers and bumps that cause fear and discouragement. On our own, we would be huddled in the corner in the fetal position, rocking back and forth in a puddle of tears; sorrow and fear, anger and devastation overtaking us. Thankfully, we are not on our own. The battle belongs to the Lord, and He has surrounded us with an army of warriors who love fiercely – from our families, friends who are framily, to all those near and far who love mom deeply. Even the hospital staff is wonderful, and they are fighting fiercely to deal with the insurance loopholes required to move her to the very best acute care facility available. Mom continues to make progress with her speaking, at least when she is relaxed and speaking with Megan and me, but we are finding that she struggles when there are more than one or two people in the room, particularly those she does not know really well. Words are far more difficult to find when she is put on the spot, and when she feels pressed, she becomes quiet and just shakes her head with a disgusted smile. That smile makes me die inside a little more, each time I see it. My mama bear instincts rise up, and I want to throat punch people who say foolish things that do NOT encourage her, or motivate her to keep pressing forward. There are some enormous decisions to be made, and I am in need of covering as I contact HR to find out what my options are for FML in the coming weeks. What we do know is that mom will be at the Good Samaritan Acute Care Facility in Puyallup. Additionally, through dear friends, we have discovered that a mutual friend is actually on staff there! We see evidence of God’s hands all over this journey, it is just a road we wish we’d never had to walk. God knows, and we know He is with us; we just need to keep our eyes and ears open for the reminders. Humanity is fragile, but God is strong. May we ever depend on Him to be our strength and courage for every step we take.

 

Be strong, take courage, img_2019-05-02_06-41-226964497963981900913.jpg

For our Lord is near;

Despite what we see,

We need never fear.

Into His great hands,

We are firmly held;

The strength of His love,

Cause doubts be dispelled.

Lean into Jesus,

For in Him is found;

All safety and grace,

In strength, to abound.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength in weakness, and that You are our courage when we feel afraid. Forgive us for our fear of what we perceive, as we only see in part, what You already know. Lord Jesus, please go before us and prepare the way. Orchestrate the transportation to the new facility for mom – the very best and most comfortable method to safely transport; the timing that You have already set in place; please expedite the insurance paperwork and grant favor so that the current out-of-network status will be overturned, and above all else, continue to bring complete and total healing and restoration to mom. May her heart and mind and attitude be an example to those who do not know You yet, and draw others into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, even in this, for You are good, even when circumstances are not. Amen.

 

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

 

Be still and know that I am God… – Psalm 46:10a

Make It So

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – (Matthew 19:26, NIV)

Jesus looked at them and said, “This is something that people cannot do. But God can do anything.” – (Matthew 19:26, ERV) 

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, no one. But with God, everything is possible.” – (Matthew 19:26, TLB)

 

Typically, I am a faith-filled realist, that sees the hope. I look at what is, but trust in what shall be. This week, my world has been shaken like never before. Yes, I know that God is good and that He has us, but if I can be real and raw with you – this sucks! My mom is the matriarch of our family, a rock, a love, willing to go anywhere, do anything, and friend and confidant to all whom she meets. To know her is to love her. For my sister and I, we have had to battle frustration and anger, as people love her and want to waltz into the hospital to see her, as if they have known her forever. Sadly, if we don’t know them and mom is uncertain of who they are based on their name, it adds too much frustration for her, and our protective instincts want to build a fortress around her to keep everyone she has not called by name, out, until she is ready to receive guests. I know it is not her nature to have a closed door. One of her greatest gifts is hospitality. That being said, it is hard to be hospitable in the hospital… For now, we are limiting visits to immediate family and those whom we consider “framily” (such long-standing friends that they have become family). Please, those who love mom, be patient, we so appreciate your love and support, and covet your prayers the most right now.

On to the update many have been waiting to hear. First, we are witnessing miracles; daily. Yesterday, mom moved her right arm! Granted, it was slight and not likely a conscious decision, but her arm moved on more than one occasion, which means that the connections are firing. This is very, very good! Additionally, her speech and word recall are continuing to improve. There is marked improvement from morning to afternoon, and one day to the next. The more relaxed she is, the easier words come. The second miracle is that she has been accepted into the best acute care facility in Washington State. We are not yet certain of the when (though we anticipate the end of the week or the weekend), but we are so grateful to know the where. It is in close proximity to me, so I will be spending much time with mom in the coming months on her road to recovery. Once released, the plan is to have her transition to my sister’s house, as it is already able to accommodate potential needs on a single level.

God is good and He makes what is impossible for us, possible. Please continue to contend with us for our mom, as God is far greater than a stroke.

 

Impossible blows,

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A celebration in the park after Mom’s first tennis tournament win with her parents ❤

The dashing of dreams;

How do we press on,

What does it all mean?

Questions aren’t too big,

Our God doesn’t mind;

His grace is greater,

For love’s what we find.

Plenty provided,

All that we shall need;

His arms surrounding,

As we let Him lead.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

That You are enough;

For in our own strength,

We are not that tough.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your kindness and provision in this dark and scary space. Thank You for surrounding us with loving and knowledgeable people who help point us in the direction You are leading, and for opening the doors You intend. Prepare the way, even now, for where mom is going next. Prepare the hearts of every staff member, doctor, nurse, specialist, volunteer, friend and family member who comes near, so that we will best know how to encourage and build her up. May her positivity, and ours, be a witness to those who do not know You yet, pointing them to a lasting relationship with You. Keep discouragement and depression far from her. Bring full healing and restoration, we pray. Forgive us for our impatience. Please God, give us our strong, vibrant, active mom back to us, fully restored as she so desperately wants to be. Amen.

 

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

 

Summon Your power, God; show us Your strength, our God, as You have done before. – Psalm 68:28

 

 

Send Your Rain

Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness! – (Psalm 72:3, ESV) 

May the mountains yield prosperity for all, and may the hills be fruitful. – (Psalm 72:3, NLT) 

Under His reign, may this land of mountains and hills know peace and experience justice for all the people. – (Psalm 72:3, VOICE) 

 

Though I am only beginning to process all that I saw and experienced during my time in Belize, this particular verse stood out to me this morning, as it is my prayer for the people whom I had the joy to meet. During my stay in beautiful Belize, I was up north in the jungle. Our purpose was to hold health education outreaches, to check blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and to help educate people about risks and prevention, as well as some other basic health awareness issues. The thing that left the greatest impact on me, was that in the neighboring village to where we were staying, the greatest need was to have year-round clean water. Each year, during the dry season (May – June), many people from the village of 2,500+ fall ill, especially school children, and have no cure for something that should be entirely preventable. The kind principal of the K-8 school has to be the nurse, custodian, cafeteria provider, and run the school. She informed us that during the dry season, it is common to have to send five students a day to the hospital. Each student sent costs the school $100 out of the operating budget, and the hospital does not hydrate the children, but rather gives a cortisone shot and sends them home, often more ill than when they arrived. Clean running water year-round would eliminate much of the illness, and having a nearby nurse who could administer fluids rather than a useless shot, would likely alleviate much of the remaining ruin that occurs during the despairing time each year. The lack of resources and man-power are the obstacles that stand between the village and the solution. Awareness is certainly a step in the right direction. My prayer is that with the known need, that the floodgates of heaven would open, and He would supply all that is needed. No, there is no simple solution that will transpire overnight, but there are now twelve more people who have been touched by the lives of those living in the village, and who cannot unsee the faces of the sweet children who attend school where we stood. May our hearts be ever open to hear what we are meant to do to touch lives and transform communities as You call us to do. 

 

O Lord, send Your rain, Send Your Rain

Pour out on this place; 

Grant what is needed, 

By Your sovereign grace. 

O Lord, break our hearts, 

For that which breaks Yours; 

Then lead us in love, 

As You open doors. 

Help us to see, Lord, 

As You want us to; 

Give strength and equip, 

So we may go do. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see and know every need. Thank You that You lead us where You want us to go, and You show us Your heart for people. Thank You that You make us aware of those beyond our borders. Forgive us for neglecting to look for need outside of our own four walls. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk through our days with eyes to see as You see, and open hands and hearts, ready to give, love and serve as You ask us to do. Show us how to love well, those within our own reach, as well as those beyond our borders. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to be the Provider for those near and far, and to show us what we can do to be Your hands to those in need. Amen.

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

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5