Strengthened and Joined Together

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ. – (Colossians 2:2, NIV) 

I want them to be strengthened and joined together with love and to have the full confidence that comes from understanding. I want them to know completely the secret truth that God has made known. That truth is Christ Himself. – (Colossians 2:2, ERV) 

I am contending for you that your hearts will be wrapped in the comfort of heaven and woven together in love’s fabric. This will give you access to all the riches of God as you experience the revelation of God’s great mystery – Christ. – (Colossians 2:2, TPT) 

The more we are encouraged in heart and united in love, the better we understand the truth of who God is and how He loves, as we witness and experience the overwhelming love of Christ through those whom He has placed in our lives to love. Incredibly, if we love others as we are loved by God, they too begin to grasp how deep, how wide, and how long His love truly is. God is gracious and kind, and He encourages our hearts and unites us in love, by His goodness and grace. The more closely I walk with Christ, the more deeply I understand the fulness that is found in and through Him. He has given me grace after grace, as He has made His love tangible through those whom He has placed in my life. My hope and prayer is that I too, may encourage and help others know unity in His love, as His goodness and love is made known through how I live, love and interact with those around me. May we ever seek the Lord for understanding, so that our hearts are strengthened and joined together in love. 

Lord, may every heart, 

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

Find comfort in You; 

As love wraps around, 

Shows Your heart of truth. 

For O the riches, 

Held in the Lord’s hands; 

Outstretched to us all, 

This love He has planned. 

May we join as one, 

One heart and one mind; 

Focused on loving, 

So Your joy we’ll find. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your intention for us is to encourage and love one another, in the same way that You love each of us. Forgive us for the times that we have withheld encouragement or have not loved as You call us to love. Teach us to ever seek to know You more, as it is through our seeking that You show us more of You. Show us how to love and encourage all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to encourage and love like You. Amen. 

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

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

How Long?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? – (Psalm 13:2a, NIV)

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word. – (Psalm 119:28, NIV)

How much longer must I cling to this constant grief? I’ve endured this shaking of my soul. – (Psalm 13:2a, TPT)

My life’s strength melts away with grief and sadness; come and strengthen me and encourage me with Your words. – (Psalm 119:28, TPT)

 

I have set aside personal reflection for public view on the shift in schooling for quite some time, due largely in part to weight of my own sorrow. You see, not only is this the loss of concluding this school year with my students, but it is my own children’s senior year, and the second spring in a row that I have been absent from both. Last year, two weeks from now, our entire world came to a crashing halt. My mom suffered a massive stroke, and we were unsure of what the outcome would be. Immediately, my husband and I made the drive over the mountains to be with her, and I made arrangements to take a leave of absence to remain with mom, as Mark returned home to be with our kids. Mom is a fighter, and did remarkably well as my sister and I were able be with her around the clock, and after all of my years of teaching, I had plenty of leave to stay on through the majority of the remaining school year. Because mom was thriving and making gains, I did not give myself room to grieve. Now, nearly a year later, I am in an entirely different circumstance, yet in a similar space of loss. There have been moments of sorrow and grief, but I have given little time or space to ponder or process. Then, yesterday, as I returned to school for my designated twenty minutes to pick up any supplies I might need from my classroom, the weight of reality began to set in. Silent hallways and classrooms without kids running around, laughing, or talking to one another, left a hollow void in my heart.

My friend and colleague has a remarkable way with capturing in words, moments, so eloquently, and when I read what she posted on Facebook as a reflection of her twenty minutes in her classroom, I found myself fighting back the sting of tears. It took deep, intentional breaths to not fully succumb to the depth of sorrow I was feeling as I read what she had written. My own boys had been in her very first sixth grade class, and she recognized and grieved for those seniors too. There is just so much…

The beauty in the brokenness is that we are not stuck in it. God is faithful to pick us up, dust us off, and grant us fresh resolve. He does strengthen us, and today, my goal and focus is to be prepared for our launch of distance learning, come Monday morning. Additionally, today is my day to email a check-in to my art students, so that holds some hope and joy as well. In all things, God has a way of bringing beauty from ashes. I look forward to seeing how all of this season changes our neighborhood, schools, city, state, and nation for the better.

 

Hollow empty halls,wp-15870437506012790305386090599192.jpg

That mirror my heart;

Loss of what should be,

This season apart.

Such sorrow in loss,

Of all that could be;

Lord help us rise up,

As Your hope sets free.

Even in losses,

You can bring gains;

Beauty from ashes,

For Your love remains.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hold us as we wrestle through our sorrow and heaviness, and You strengthen us with resolve once again. Thank You that You truly do bring beauty from ashes, and hope from despair. Forgive us for allow ourselves to sit in our sorrow too long, or for ignoring it and allowing the weight to burden us. Teach us to place all in Your hands, so that You can walk us through it into the good that You have in store for us. Show us how to love those around us well, even though we cannot see people the way we want to right now. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, and know the comfort and peace that You alone offer. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your comfort and strength in our sorrow, and anticipate the good that lies ahead. Amen.

 

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

 

“…He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.” – Isaiah 61:3

In Worrisome Space

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. – (1 Peter 5:7, NIV)

Give all your worries to Him, because He cares for you. – (1 Peter 5:7, ERV)

Let Him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you. – (1 Peter 5:7, TLB)

 

We are in a time that is full of uncertainty and unknowns. It is seemingly impossible to avoid “what if” scenarios, as a state of emergency has been declared by our governor, and the World Health Organization has deemed Covid-19 a pandemic. The weight and worry that I bear looks different than those who are living with compromised immune systems or are in households with young children or elderly, as their concerns are much more immediate and life-threatening. For others, it is more a matter of day-to-day living and the wonder as to how it will all work out. As an educator, there is much uncertainty as to when our schools will be closed, and for how long. In this space, my only real choice is to give all of my worries and uncertainties to God. He sees and knows, and He cares about all that concerns us. I know not why such a crazy crisis is taking place, yet I know it is an opportunity for people to rise up and love others well. Our charge is to love as we are loved. May we give all of our worries to God, because He cares for us, and depend on Him to lead and guide us as we navigate this rocky road of uncertainty.

 

In worrisome space, In Worrisome Space

Give all unto God;

The Lord cares for us,

Despite all our flaws.

He sees and He knows,

Our each anxious thought;

He’s present to help,

Each time He is sought.

Even when all things,

Impossible seem;

The Lord has a way,

To give grace, redeem.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You and cast all of our worries and cares upon You. Thank You that Your hands can hold them, and Your shoulders have already bore every burden we ever will bear. Thank You that You provide grace, goodness and love as we come to You. Forgive us for carrying weight and holding anxiety and concerns that we are not meant to hold in fear. Teach us to trust You and listen to wisdom, so that we would navigate in grace and love. Show us how to love well, all those around us, in tangible and meaningful ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our cares and concerns and trust You to lead us in wisdom and strength in the face of all of the unknown. Above all, help us to choose love in all that we say and do, every step of the way. Amen.

 

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

 

Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. – Psalm 55:22

Seeking Solace

I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. – (Ephesians 3:16-18, NIV)

I ask the Father with His great glory to give you the power to be strong in your spirits. He will give you the strength through His Spirit. I pray that Christ will live in your hearts because of your faith. I pray that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love – how wide, how long, how high, and how deep that love is. – (Ephesians 3:16-18, ERV)

And I pray that He would unveil within you the unlimited riches of His glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with His divine might and explosive power. Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of His love will become the very source and root of your life. – (Ephesians 3:16-18, TPT)

 

Paul’s encouragement to the church in Ephesus is still an encouragement that is applicable and relevant to us today. In fact, I had to take pause and recognize my own need to receive his words, as I realized just how much I have been missing my husband, boys, and community at home. It is not that I resent nor regret what I am doing here, as I would not trade this time with my mom for anything. I am overwhelmingly blessed with time that could have been stolen, had things gone differently, and I am witnessing daily, the miracles that come with healing and recovery from a stroke. It is a strange sort of struggle to be pulled between two places. During mom’s waking hours, I am fully engaged and focused on whatever lies before us, and we enjoy our time together, celebrating victories and giggling and the small stuff that comes in the wake of exhaustion and recovery. It is in the quiet moments while mom is resting, or her attention is fixed on a movie, that I am torn and struggle being away from my husband and boys. We talk and text daily, but it is not the same, and all of my guys are loves who are generous with their affection for me. I miss the comfort of their nearness and the easy interactions that take place so often. I know it is just for a season, and the line in the TPT version “the resting place of His love will become the very source and root of your life”, is the space that I need to seek His solace.

As for mom’s progress from yesterday, she walked farther than she has walked (with a walker and slight assistance), since she had her stroke! For those who have been in mom’s house, she walked up and down her entire hallway. (The length of it is over 30 feet!) What I loved even more, was the recognition of hope that mom found through the process. After Victor, her physical therapist had gone, we sat down in the living room. She looked at me and said, “It really is possible, isn’t it?” I looked at her for a moment, studying her face, and realized that for the first time, she was recognizing that walking again was indeed possible for her. I let her know that we had seen and known the possibility all along, and after today, imagined that it would come even more quickly than we might have originally thought. Hope is a beautiful thing, and I am in awe realizing that despite her not really thinking it was possible to walk again, she was positive and hard-working, loving and kind. We reminded her all along that it was possible, however, I guess she had to physically experience the possibility for herself to understand. Mom was again open and receptive to short visits with a few friends, as she met with one dear one in the morning, and another prior to lunch. Both were wonderful boosts that brought much delight to the day.

I am so thankful that He does strengthen us with His power, out of His glorious riches through His Spirit in our inner being, and He dwells in our hearts through faith. As we are rooted and established in Him, may we together, grasp how great is His love.

 

Dear Father, I pray, Be strong and courageous

From Your vast supply;

You’ll give strength to those,

On You, choose rely.

And by Your Spirit,

Where in hearts Christ dwells;

Grow stronger our faith,

So we trust You well. dsc04451587116784.jpg

Each rooted in love,

Together by grace;

May we understand,

How great all Your ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are a loving and gracious God. Thank You that You know and see our need before we are aware of it ourselves. Thank You that You give us strength and grace, hope and love. Forgive us for allowing our fears or frustrations to find footing, rather than releasing all unto You. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Provider and Place of Peace. Show us how to love those around us well, so that each may be strengthened, encouraged and find faith that is ready to nourish and grow. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in all things and at all times, praising You for Your presence. Amen.

 

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

 

May Your unfailing love be my comfort, according to Your promise to Your servant. – Psalm 119:76