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

Pursue Purpose

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. – (Philippians 3:12, NIV)

I don’t mean that I am exactly what God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach it and make it mine. That’s what Christ Jesus wants me to do. It is the reason He made me His. – (Philippians 3:12, ERV)

I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into His abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover. – (Philippians 3:12, TPT)

 

We are all a work in progress. The more we pursue God and the path He has prepared for us, the more we become the person that He designed and purposed us to be. It is remarkable to think about. The Creator of all, created each of us, with a plan and a purpose. Uniquely designed to love Him and love people in a way that can be exclusively exhibited through us as we walk out our days seeking to honor Him in all that we say and do. Not one of us has perfected this yet, however, we are an ongoing work in progress, and the longer we pursue Him, the more refined we become in living out love according to His for us. May we ever pursue the path that God has placed before us, and seek Him to be our strength to walk out each day well.

 

Let us choose pursue,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

The path of the Lord;

Though none have arrived,

All grace He affords.

As we keep seeking,

Keep running our race;

God’s love will provide,

What we need for each day.

Keep seeking to love,

And walk in His way;

Let His love light shine,

As we extend grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us despite our flaws and failures and call us to pursue the path that You have placed before us, according to how we are each uniquely designed. Forgive us for neglecting to love as we are loved, or for ignoring the way that we know we are meant to go. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk out our days living and loving according to Your ways. Show us how to faithfully pursue all that You have for us, so that we may love those around us as only we can do through You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we run with passion in the purpose for which You have placed within us. 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 hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Built Up in Peace

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. – (Romans 14:19, NIV)

So, let’s strive for the things that bring peace and the things that build each other up. – (Romans 14:19, CEB)

So then, make it your top priority to live a life of peace with harmony in your relationships, eagerly seeking to strengthen and encourage one another. – (Romans 14:19, TPT)

 

As myself and many of my colleagues have returned to school to begin to prepare for the upcoming school year, I love that the climate among my coworkers is such as this. Each time I have run into a colleague, we have taken the time to catch up and listen to one another, as well as delight in each other’s summer adventures. Always, I walk away feeling encouraged and built up, knowing that I am in a place where we support one another both as professionals and as people. While I was painting walls and allowing the lyrics to which I was listening to sink in, it was my prayer that my classroom would be a place of peace where students would build each other up. Perhaps if they witness the continual positive and peaceful exchanges between colleagues, they too, will be encouraged to do likewise. It certainly is my goal to create a place of peace and encouragement within my classroom, and my hope that it goes far beyond my four walls. May we seek the Lord daily, who is the Prince of Peace, to fill us up and equip us to bring encouragement and peace to all of the places that He has planned.

 

Let us choose seek peace, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One to another;

May kindness take lead,

Sisters and brothers.

May we choose build up,

With encouragement;

Pick words that bring life,

Sweet hope’s fulfillment.

For as we bring peace,

It reaches beyond;

Those our choices touch,

From there they respond.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to bring peace and encouragement to the places we gather. Thank You that these are not things that we must somehow muster the feelings to pass on, but rather they are a way birthed within us as we seek You for help. Forgive us for trying to do this on our own, or for ignoring the very notion of peace in places that seem so unsettled. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and depend on You to bring peace to the places we land, and provide encouraging words to share with those around us. Show us how to love others with Your perfect peace and encouragement. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our peace and encouragement so that we may share Your peace and offer encouragement wherever we go. Amen.

 

 

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

 

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.  – Isaiah 26:3

 

 

The Right Word at the Right Time

Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time! – (Proverbs 15:23, NLT)

People are happy when they give a good answer. And there is nothing better than the right word at the right time. – (Proverbs 15:23, ERV)

There is great joy in having the right answer, and how sweet is the right word at the right time! – (Proverbs 15:23, VOICE)

 

The right words at the right time are a gift from God that come when we are sensitive to His leading and choosing to love. There is joy in it for both the speaker and the hearer, and peace in knowing that what has been spoken has been done from a heart that has His very best in mind. So often, God will use those around us to convey that which He wants us to hear. A word of encouragement, correction, exhortation or affirmation – each is well received when it is delivered in love at the time that it is needed most. May we have hearts that are tender and ears that are open, so we are willing to speak what He places in our hearts, and hear that which is spoken for our benefit.

 

May we each find joy, Watching Our Words

In knowing what’s right;

Through words that we speak,

And hear with delight.

For God knows our need,

He longs to lift up;

Grant us words to speak,

That fill others cups.

And in the same way,

God gives unto us;

Words that encourage,

Hope when we’re hopeless.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we pursue Your heart in all that we do, You provide the answers that we seek. Thank You that You give us the right words to speak at the right time when we depend on You for wisdom. Forgive us for speaking without listening, or ignoring words of wisdom spoken unto us. Teach us to trust You more, as You provide the answers that we are seeking, if only we slow down and listen for Your voice. Show us how to love those around us well, and give us the words that encourage and build them up, and point them to the path that leads to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen for Your voice and speak what You place on our hearts so that there may be joy in the answers that You provide. Amen.

 

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

 

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for He speaks peace to His faithful people… – Psalm 85:8

 

 

Write Upon My Heart

I desire to do Your will, my God; Your law is within my heart. – (Psalm 40:8, NIV)

I want to do Your will, my God. Your instruction is deep within me. – (Psalm 40:8, CEB)

I am pleased to live how You want, my God. Your law is etched into my heart and soul. – (Psalm 40:8, VOICE)

 

The more we choose to invest our hearts, minds and time into God and His word, the more it takes root, deep within us. Each time His love is made evident through a decision I make, I am in awe of who He is and how He loves. Recently, I received a message that initially irritated and frustrated me. I began to respond in sarcasm, rather than in love. My spirit stirred within me, and I slowed down, and thought about what might have motivated the original message that I received, and I was filled with compassion and changed my response to one that was motivated by love, rather than selfish reacting. How I replied may or may not have had an impact on the recipient, but it had a significant impact on me. No matter what I “think” the intent might be, I must slow down, listen to the Lord, and respond in love. Even if my response is clarifying questions or silence until I am able to respond according to that which He has etched upon my heart, it is my intent to do so, regardless of how things appear in my own eyes. May we desire to do the will of our loving Heavenly Father, and allow Him to continue to etch His instruction into our hearts.

 

O Lord, I desire, Write Upon My Heart

To do well, Your will;

Follow Your leading,

Love as my heart’s filled.

For deep in my heart,

You’ve written Your ways;

To lead and guide me,

For all of my days.

Lord, above all things,

May Your great love lead;

So my life’s pleasing,

In word, thought and deed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we desire to do Your will, and choose to invest time with You and in Your word, You refine us and write Your instruction upon our hearts. Forgive us for ignoring Your still small voice within us, that shows us what to do and say that abides by Your way. Teach us to listen to Your leading in all things and at all times, so that we would extend the same love and grace to others that You give to us. Show us how to love those around us, even when we think that they do not deserve it, as that is usually when it is needed the most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever seek after You and Your will, and allow You to etch Your instruction deep within us so that we will walk in Your way for all of our days. Amen.

 

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

 

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1

 

 

Words and Thoughts Matter

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – (Psalm 19:14, NIV)

May my words and thoughts please You. Lord, You are my Rock – the One who rescues me. – (Psalm 19:14, ERV)

May the words that come out of my mouth and the musings of my heart meet with Your gracious approval, O Eternal, my Rock, O Eternal, my Redeemer. – (Psalm 19:14, VOICE)

 

Our words and thoughts matter to God. The things that come out of our mouths provide evidence of that which lies within our hearts. There are days that feel better than others in this arena. It is a choice to either allow our circumstances to dictate how we respond, or rather, we choose to react in a spirit of love, regardless of what we are given. God is gracious and kind, and He will guard our hearts and make us new, even in the way in which we respond with words, if we are willing to allow Him access. May we ever seek the Lord and meditate on His word, so that our words and thoughts may be pleasing before God.

 

 

May all that I say, Words and Thoughts Matter

And each thought I hold;

Be pleasing to God,

As His love is shown.

For I long to please,

My God, who’s my Rock;

Not just with thinking,

But also with talk.

Let what’s in my heart,

Reflect Your love true;

As You grant Your grace,

Ever make me new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You. Thank You that as we ask, You answer. Thank You that when we choose to fix our minds and hearts on You and Your word, that which comes out of us is a clearer reflection of You and Your love. Forgive us for not investing our hearts and minds in the things of You, or for ignoring Your still small voice that reminds us to silence the thoughts and words that enter in that are not pleasing in Your sight. Teach us to trust and rely on You more, so that we would set our hearts and minds on that which builds others up, regardless of what comes our way. Show us how to love others well, so that Your love may be evident in our every interaction. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we fix our minds and hearts on You, so that our words and thoughts are pleasing unto 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