Hope in the Unseen

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about 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)

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. – (Hebrews 11:1, TLB)

 

This is an interesting verse to land on for Mother’s Day. I knew on Friday, the direction I was to take for the weekend, however, only the verses, not the actual unpacking. As I read Hebrews 11:1 several times, and then read it again in a variety of translations, my mind was flooded with the connection between faith, hope, being a mother, and our current journey with mom. You see, the very process of becoming a mom is crazy connection to this very verse. For nine months, or in my case, a bit less, a woman has to be confident in hope and assured about the growing child(ren) within her. There is no guarantee, nor sneak preview with an instruction manual (though the ultrasounds they have now are amazing!), and despite tests and precautions, there is no one that can determine everything, rather it is a walk of faith, trusting and hoping in that which we do not see. Because I was carrying twins, and one was smaller than the other, I had to walk by faith and be assured in Who I knew, not the potential theories of why. As many of you know, I have two giant, incredible young men, that are now seventeen, and nearly finished with their junior year of high school. They are tender and kind, smart, funny, talented, super sensitive to the needs of others, and wise beyond their years.

With mom, each day is a new walk of faith. We have the confident assurance that God is her healer and that He is, and will continue to bring complete and total healing. The challenge is being patient in the waiting, and holding hope in that which we do not see yet. In the quiet moments, mom and I have had a few conversations about this very thing. She will ask about what comes next; after rehabilitation. I look at her with all of the love in my heart, and answer honestly, saying, “I don’t know yet, but God does.” I remind her of how He has brought her this far in such a short time, so we cannot even fathom what He has in store for her in both the time remaining at the current facility, and in the months to come. We talk about how He knows the desires of her heart, and He honors those who love Him. Oh how she loves Him…

Though some days are easier than others to trust and hope in that which is unseen, when we do, we discover blessings and strength, help and hope, that go far beyond what we could have come up with on our own. May we lean into the Lord with confident hope, trusting Him for that which we cannot yet see.

 

Faith is confidence, img_2019-05-12_07-18-297605007519689366231.jpg

Where our hope may dwell;

Complete assurance,

As fear He dispels.

Though we may not see,

Things hoped for, quite yet;

We’re in the Lord’s hands,

We mustn’t forget.

Our God is greater,

Than all that is seen;

He hears our heart cry,

And shows what hope means.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are greater than any obstacle that comes our way, and that though “unseen”, You are more tangible than our next breath. Forgive us for not taking pause to remember Your faithfulness so many times before, great and small, to inspire the faith within us to rise again when it grows weary. Teach us to trust You more, especially in the areas where so little is known or seen. Take our hands and lead us, as You have done so many times before. Show us how to love those around us as we walk with You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we have confident faith in You, our Heavenly Father, and hope for, with assurance, that which we cannot yet see. Amen.

 

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

 

For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. – Psalm 57:10

A Very Good Day

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

Always be full of joy. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ERV)

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, MSG)

 

Thankfully, joy is not circumstantial, but rather something that is deep-rooted in our souls. Praying continually is far easier to remember, especially in times of crisis, and giving thanks is not about being grateful for our circumstances, but rather giving thanks for Who is with us through them.

Yesterday was a very good day. God showed us His faithfulness in countless ways. First thing in the morning, as Megan and I were preparing to make our way to the hospital for the day, we received the call from Sheila, the case manager (whom we adore), that the cabulance would be at the hospital at 10 am to move mom to the acute care facility. Her call hustled us out the door even faster than we would have normally exited, and we were on our way. Upon arrival, mom was seated in a chair and smiling, fully aware of the fact that it was moving day. Additional blessings that immediately came prior to leaving the hospital were: the removal of her IV, removal of the heart monitor stickers, leads and the five-pound accessory box that sat in a pocket on her chest, hospital gowns, as well as the standard hospital required practices of waking patients every four hours to ask a series of questions that may or may not inspire intelligible answers in the midst of a fog of sleepiness. The hospital crew was kind in their sendoff, and the cabulance drivers were incredible. In fact, one driver had been one of the EMTs on the scene when mom had been found in her home by the police, and one of the officers was her husband. (God is so cool!) Anyway, I knew they were in great hands as Megan rode with mom to the new place and I drove over with her belongings in my vehicle. As we arrived, though a whirlwind, we were overwhelmed with kindness and grace. God’s hand was abundantly evident. From the attending doctor, to the lead RN, to the superb social worker; everyone was hand-picked for mom and our family. God knew what we would need. After a sort of orientation with the doctor and nurse, mom met with the speech therapist for nearly an hour. That gave Meg and myself time to explore a bit, and I was able to speak with the social worker about paperwork. After eating lunch with mom in her room, (the only time that will happen, as they have a family-style dining area), we met Penny, her physical therapist, and they got to work. Penny began with some seemingly simple things, to evaluate where the disconnect lies. She asked mom to do something specific, did not see results, then begin making notes and mom did it! Megan and I sat watching in awe. I imagine someone could have come along and pushed our chins to close our mouths, and we would not have noticed… Even more amazing, Penny was so in tune with mom’s needs. She ordered a wheelchair that was the right size for her, an armrest for her uncooperative arm (to keep it safe and from swelling), and she had mom moving herself with her good foot and good arm, down the hallway, by herself! At first, mom wasn’t sure how to make the chair move, so Penny grabbed another wheelchair and sat in it beside her and showed her. It was then that the sweet game of chase began. Though slow, it was on. Mom is a fighter and a competitor. When she became tired, Penny knew to shift gears rather than stop. She helped mom get herself to a hallway that had a railing on her good side, stood her up out of her chair, and assisted her with walking several steps down that hall. I think both Megan and I were doing everything within us not to cartwheel down that hall in celebration! After PT was OT, but primarily a get-to-know-you session, followed by dinner, then we watched a movie, and the piece de resistance, was the freedom to take mom outside. The sun was low enough that it was not bright nor beating on us, the wind was still, and the air was a perfect warm hug, as we sat together in the little park by the tree surrounded by flowers, where bees were buzzing, and the green grass cooled our feet. Though all these things have happened, there was this beautiful, perfect peace. The little smiling angel figurine in the flower bed was a sweet reminder of His faithful army watching over us. We walked out of the acute care center yesterday, far lighter than we had gone in. God truly is so good.

And, for those who appreciate comic relief, we walked to my Jeep, hopped in, and were ready to zip away. Only, I turned the key, and nothing… Seriously? Ugh! It only took a moment, as it is a stick, and we are two, fairly strong-willed, stubborn, redheads. We started out with Meg pushing me and I tried popping the clutch, but could not quite get enough speed. We had it turned far enough around, so we switched spots. A young man and his wife were walking to their car, and he jumped in and joined me in the pushing. The added boost helped get the car to the speed we needed to pop the clutch, and all was well. Plus, I think Megan was eager for an opportunity to drive the Jeep, and this way she had to zip around the big parking lot several times prior to picking me up, just to make sure the charge was up enough. Add the kindness of a stranger to our list of reasons to be thankful for yesterday.

 

Each day we draw breath,

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Mid-giggle as we attempted several selfies together. So, so good. ❤

Let us choose rejoice;

Despite what we face,

We still have a choice.

Joy’s not a feeling,

Based on circumstance;

It’s deep in the soul,

And not there by chance.

Through a thankful heart,

That knows and believes;

That God is for us,

His joy is received.

All thanks we choose give,

To God, our great King;

May He shine through us,

Our praise offering.

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your overwhelming goodness and grace. Thank You that You love us more than we could ever hope or imagine. Thank You that You make that love tangible. Forgive us for allowing circumstances to temporarily steal our joy. Fear is a liar and a thief. Protect us from such things. Thank You that You continue to show us the power of a smile, an encouraging word, a gesture; all things done in love. Show us how to love and encourage mom and all those who are touched by her both far and near. May her light spark a flame in the hearts of those who do not know You yet. Lead many into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in You and give thanks for Your hand in all things and Your presence, always. 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

Ask and See

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV)

Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds. – (Philippians 4:6-7, ERV)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. – (Philippians 4:6-7, MSG)

 

Because my sister is not returning home to Oregon until Tuesday, we determined that it would be good for me to make a quick trip home to see my boys overnight, as I will be staying in Wenatchee with mom at least for the next week and beyond. At first, I was a bit anxious. It reminded me of when my boys were preemies in the NICU, and I was taken home for one night, away from my babies. I am not an outward “emoter” at all, but I cried the entire time, and vowed then and there that I would not be leaving the hospital again until my boys came with me. Thankfully, this did not feel the same. My sister was staying with mom, and my mom is able to speak for herself. Mark and I went to the hospital with Megan before we left town, and were able to witness some really remarkable milestones in her progress thus far. With the help of the occupational therapist and an aid, mom took her very first heavily assisted steps since her stroke. They moved her right side for her, as she focused on the left. Each movement was slow, frustrating, and very labor intensive; yet they were movement forward, upright, and progress in a very positive direction. The next petition that was answered prior to our departure, was getting her out of her room. Anyone who knows mom, knows that she is constantly on the go. Her sitting in bed or the chair in her room for hours and hours on end was quite concerning to us all. We got to wheel her out in a wheelchair to the waiting area on her floor that is full of windows with a spectacular view. The room was flooded with warm rays of sun, and she basked in the warmth as she happily sucked down a Coffee Frappuccino we smuggled in for her (with the medical team’s permission of course). Lastly, though mom has not had a problem with chewing or swallowing (praise God), she just has not had an appetite. No food has had any appeal, and even her favorites she has only been willing to take a bite or two. Yesterday, that too, changed. Breakfast was extraordinarily late to come, and her sweet nurse got after the kitchen to make it happen when we inquired. For whatever reason, the simplicity of the sourdough toast with her Frappuccino hit the spot, and she had taken in more in one sitting than she had since arriving last Sunday. Better still, at lunch, she ate all but the crust of a grilled cheese sandwich. This may sound trivial, but these are milestones that are critical for strength building as she moves to acute care on Monday. Once there, she will be working actively in therapies for at least three hours each day. Her determination, faith and work ethic with be invaluable. God is faithful as we cast our cares upon Him. When worry comes, it is our reminder to pray. May we ever be prayerful in all things, giving God room to move in places we need Him the most.

 

Do not let worry,

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The mountain in the background is Mt. St. Helen’s, so prior to 1980…

Be what takes control;

For we have a God,

Who heals broken souls. 

When we give to Him,

The weight that we bear;

He exchanges all,

With His loving care.

So, lift up in prayer,

All that your heart needs;

The Lord always hears,

And His grace succeeds.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your incredible faithfulness to us as we give our anxiousness and worries to You in prayer. Thank You that You surround us with the right people at the right time, to encourage and love us well, as an extension of Your arms, heart and love for us, individually. Thank You for the outpouring of support that You have graced my mom, sister and me with over the past week. Forgive us for our moments of fear and anxiousness about the unknowns that lie ahead. Teach us to trust and continue to give it all to You, again and again and again. We lay it all in Your hands, as we see so clearly how You have held and are still holding our mom in Your loving arms. Show us how to love and support mom the best way for her, and how to love those who are around her so that they may see You in us. Lead many into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, even in this we pray. Amen.

 

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

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

Coming to a Crossroad

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans. – (Proverbs 16:3, NIV)

Turn to the Lord for help in everything you do, and you will be successful. – (Proverbs 16:3, ERV)

Whatever you do, do it as service to Him, and He will guarantee your success. – (Proverbs 16:3, VOICE)

 

Yesterday, we came to a crossroad. Mom’s insurance company was adamantly denying her move to Good Sam’s Acute Rehab Facility in Puyallup. After have spent the previous two days attempting two appeals, we reached a point of recognizing that time was far more important than location. Additionally, we had been praying that God would open the doors we were meant to walk through, and close the ones we were not. Though Good Sam welcomed her, insurance slammed that door shut. At first, it did not make sense. Anger gave way to acceptance. Mom has lived in Wenatchee for nearly twenty years. She has an incredible community here. She is loved deeply, and her home will accommodate those I am comfortable sharing space with from home, who have known her since I was very young. As it turns out, between FMLA and twenty-two years of teaching in the same school, I have plenty of leave to be in Wenatchee as long as I am needed. Megan too, has FMLA benefits, flexibility of working remotely, and a dear friend who can aid in ease of travel on occasion. We are surrounded and loved in the Wenatchee Valley. No, this is not what we thought things would look like, but then again, this whole nightmare is nothing we ever envisioned for our mom; EVER. Just as we are grieving, so too is she. Mom is fully aware of her current circumstances, and she recognizes the road ahead. It is discouraging when people place expectations on her to “get to her old self in no time”, as no one knows what the future holds. By faith, her body will be fully restored and she will regain EVERYTHING. However, we do not know when. She may not be independent for quite a while, and consequently, may not be ready for visitors for just as long. Yesterday was the first day that she expressed any interest in seeing her phone. I will take it to her and all of her cards. The outpouring of cards, texts and calls has been incredible, as we know her family, friends and church community love her very well.

The what next is that she will be moved on Monday to an acute care facility in Wenatchee. Right now, we are not wanting people to take the liberty to just “drop by” to say “hi” and see her, even though that was normal for her before. Acute care will be extremely intense, and she will likely be exhausted and needing far more rest than she has ever needed before. An important part of healing from a stroke is sleep, so we do not want anything to hinder the process. We do not yet know what it all will look like, nor how she will feel, until we arrive and go through the paces. As she settles in, I will continue to update and let people know. I imagine there will come a point where some sort of visiting schedule could be established. However, that is a stay tuned situation. In the meantime, please, please, continue to pray. Your prayers are felt and we do have light-hearted moments in the midst of the difficult. We smile and laugh, talk and remember, share and listen, and pray. God is good, even when life is hard. May we turn to Him to lead us in all things.

 

When a door opens, 0503192119a6743790846154114741.jpg

Then slams in your face;

Do not stop running,

Rather adjust pace.

Keep moving forward,

Ever seeking Him;

He’ll show the right way,

And usher us in.

Give all to the Lord,

Allow Him to lead;

For He knows the way,

And will meet each need.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we commit our plans to You, You lead us in the way that we are meant to go, even if it is not the way that we thought it was supposed to be. Thank You that You already know the outcome and what is the very best place for our mom to thrive and heal. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations as we navigate all of this uncharted territory. Teach us to trust You more, as trust is all that we have. Show us Your ongoing miracles through the healing of our mom, as we are already seeing small steps of Your faithful forward momentum. Show us how to love and encourage mom and all who help care for and work with her. May those who do not know You yet, see Jesus through us and come into a lasting relationship with You. Be our light and strength and love that leads us every minute of every day, Lord God, so that You may be glorified. Amen.

 

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

 

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” – Psalm 91:2

Willful Obedience

Just as Jesus was coming out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” – (Mark 1:10-11, NIV) 

But as Jesus was coming out of the waters, He looked up and saw the sky split open. The Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove, and a voice echoed in the heavens. “You are My Son, My beloved One, and I am very pleased with You.” – (Mark 1:10-11, VOICE) 

 

In an act of obedience, Jesus went out to His cousin, John, in the desert, and asked to be baptized. At first John was reluctant, as he knew that God was doing something incredible through Jesus, and did not feel worthy to baptize Him. After a brief exchange, John agreed, and as he did, the heavens opened and the Spirit of God made His presence known, and proclaimed from above, who Jesus was and how He felt about Him. The obedience of both Jesus and John opened the way for God to make Jesus’ significance known. I can only imagine the awe and wonder that took place in those who were nearby. Not only did they witness His willful act of obedience, but they saw the Spirit of God descend upon Jesus, as they heard the voice of God. Though we are not the Son of God, we are His children. When we choose to willfully obey, we make room for others to see His power and goodness at work in and through us. Our charge is to love God and love people. As we do, His heart is made known to those around us, whether they realize it is Him or not. May we ever seek the Lord and walk in willful obedience, so that He may make Himself known to those around us. 

 

The power of God, willful obedience

A choice to obey; 

God makes His heart known, 

When we walk His way. 

As children of God, 

We each have the call; 

To seek the Lord’s strength, 

And show love to all. 

May we one day hear, 

A similar claim; 

That God’s pleased with us, 

As we’ve walked His way. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You empower us to do all that You say. Forgive us for the times that we have ignored or delayed in walking out the things that You call us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we love others as we are loved by You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that expresses Your loving kindness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk in willful obedience to all that You ask. Amen.

 

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

 

And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:2

Beholding New Blessings

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits. – (Psalm 103:1-2, NIV) 

My soul, praise the Lord! Every part of me, praise His holy name! My soul, praise the Lord and never forget how kind He is! – (Psalm 103:1-2, ERV) 

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless His holy name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! – (Psalm 103:1-2, MSG) 

 

This morning, after perusing Facebook while my coffee was brewing, I discovered the story I have watched unfold over the last five years through countless runs (that we affectionately call therapy sessions), poured out with complete honesty and zero ill intent, as my dear friend commemorated in writing, her journey to freedom through faith and forgiveness. Her story and my own, though different, had some common threads that ultimately led to a similar outcome. This story tells of one dream being destroyed, while tremendous blessings of God’s faithfulness tenderly delivered she and her children into an incredible new chapter, with many more blessings yet to unfold. These verses, written by David, are amazingly appropriate as my heart responds with joy and praise for all of His faithfulness and blessings poured out over the past several years. The freedom, goodness and grace received are remarkably evident. Though the story seems to be one of extreme heartache, the other side of it holds dreams realized and hopes restored and made far greater than one could begin to imagine. God is faithful, even on our darkest nights, as His light comes and reveals the truth, hope and good that are meant to remain. May we hold fast to God and His grace, ever praising Him for every blessing He pours out upon us as we choose to allow Him room to lead. 

 

With all of my heart, 385ace51-24e7-416b-8430-0515506705ec7822422687448967530.jpg

I choose bless Your name; 

For You are the One, 

Who does what He claims. 

You take our heartache, 

Darkness and despair; 

And lead to freedom, 

In Your tender care. 

Where hope seems but dashed, 

You mend and renew; 

Your blessings poured out, 

As we trust in You. 

All thanks be to God, 

Whose faithful indeed; 

He loves us to life, 

And meets all our need. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You turn stories of darkness and despair into ones of healing and hope and beautiful blessings. Thank You that You turn our ashes into beautiful stories of Your redemption and grace. Forgive us for our times of fear and doubt, as You alone are the One to work all things out. Teach us to trust You in every season and circumstance, as You have a far greater plan that our limited understanding can grasp. Show us how to love those around us well, as You use our stories of struggle to illuminate, encourage and bless those who are in their own spaces of darkness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we bless You with all of our being for the hope, goodness and promise that You have for us all. Amen.

 

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

 

(God) who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. – Psalm 103:4-5

 

*Click on “This story” as highlighted in the text to read the story to which I am referring.

To Encourage and Build Up

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV)

So encourage each other and help each other grow stronger in faith, just as you are already doing. – (1 Thessalonians 5:11, ERV)

Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. – (1 Thessalonians 5:11, MSG)

 

Just as the Thessalonians were called and reminded to encourage and build one another up, (as they had already been doing) so too, we are called to do the same. It is incredible the difference that encouragement makes, even in the small things. The other day at school had been particularly long, as we were winding up a week of testing across campus. Kids were wild and tired of being assessed, and teachers were equally exhausted. At lunch, I happened to see a downcast look on a colleague’s face, so I said, “Hey, only two more Fridays!” Their whole demeanor shifted, and I walked away smiling at the thought as well. Interestingly, after I had eaten lunch, I wandered back through the office and heard different friends with whom I work, speaking the same words of encouragement to one another. Though it was not a spiritual truth being shared, it was a word of encouragement offered at the right moment, and its impact seemed to be a bit farther reaching than I would have imagined when the words were spoken. May we ever seek the Lord for wisdom and words to encourage and build each other up, for as we do, others too shall follow.

 

Let us encourage, Do Right and Build Up

Find ways to build up;

Pour into others,

And help fill their cups.

For as hope is built,

The same is passed on;

Each growing stronger,

New strength to hold on.

Go forth in His might,

Build up each other;

Together we rise,

Sisters and brothers.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Source of encouragement and You build us up. Thank You that You call us to be in community where we encourage one another and build each other up, per Your design. Forgive us for the times that we have been too caught up in our own chaos to look beyond ourselves to encourage and build up those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for wisdom and words as to how to best encourage and build up those around us. Show us how to love others well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for wisdom and ways to encourage and build up those whom You have placed around us. Amen.

 

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

 

And the Lord said, “I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

Consider Love

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

We should think about each other to see how we can encourage each other to show love and do good works. – (Hebrews 10:24, ERV)

Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. – (Hebrews 10:24, TPT)

 

I love that this biblical concept has been made tangible to many as people seek to “pay it forward.” One small spark of kindness, generosity or grace can set off an incredible chain reaction. The great thing is, we can love and encourage others through small and simple things. The Passions Translation tells us to “discover creative ways to encourage others and motivate them toward acts of compassion…” I so appreciate this, as some of the seemingly smallest acts of kindness have had the greatest and most lasting impact on me, as they often come when I have needed them most. It costs us nothing to choose to offer a kind and encouraging word or to reach out a helping hand to one we see in need – we simply must choose to extend what we have received to those around us. May we seek the Lord and listen to His leading, so that we may discover creative ways to encourage each other and extend acts of kindness to all.

 

Let us consider, Ambassadors of Love

How to choose love well;

Honor each other,

May our actions tell.

Tell of His goodness,

Extend hope and grace;

Each act of kindness,

Demonstrate His ways.

Choose seek discover,

To love and do good;

Compassion offered,

God’s grace understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You that though we do not deserve it, You come near and extend encouragement and compassion toward us in tangible ways. Thank You that You call us to look for ways to encourage and love one another as we reach out in ways that others can grasp. Forgive us for not always choosing words or ways to inspire those around us to greater love. Teach us to trust and rely on You to be our Source and Supply, so that we will encourage and motivate others toward compassion and acts of kindness. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spurs others toward love and good deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the love and encouragement that You offer to us and then go and give likewise to those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

No Room for Them

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. – (Luke 2:4-7, NIV)

 

This portion of the Christmas story seemed to strike a new chord within my heart this past week, as my pastor pointed out the scandal and outrage that would have been associated with an unwed woman expecting a child who was engaged to a man with whom she had no intimate relations. Joseph came from the house of David. His heritage was quite significant, and his family name was likely known. Everyone was expected to return to the place of their familial ties for the census, so it is quite conceivable that Joseph had numerous relatives who were also traveling to Bethlehem at the same time. Under normal circumstances, a family would have traveled and stayed together, yet Mary and Joseph made the journey alone. Their isolation leads me to believe that they were being shunned by the family, and left to their own devices to survive. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, they were unable to find a proper place to stay. What I found intriguing is that each version of scripture that I read, says that “there was no room for them. This leads me to believe that perhaps there was room, but they were turned away because of societal standards, and left stranded and a bit desperate. Who was the inn keeper who did at last show some compassion, and at least allow the pair shelter as the time drew near for Mary to give birth? It is both incredible and admirable to think of Mary and Joseph and all that they must have gone though, just to get to the stable birth. Additionally, the thought of the two of them having to deliver the Son of God in their surroundings is overwhelming. She was quite young and he was a carpenter; nothing in their life experience had likely prepared them for what they endured, other than the very presence of God with them. May we continue to ponder with awe and wonder, the miracle of God with us, this most holy season.

 

Hard was the journey, No Room for Them

To travel alone;

This chosen couple,

So far from their home.

Upon arrival,

No room granted them;

Just a small stable,

In old Bethlehem.

The time had arrived,

For the babe be born;

Courage delivered,

Wrapped Him in cloths torn.

No isolation,

Could stand in God’s way;

Strength to them granted,

Right there in the hay.

Though they’d been alone,

It did not last long;

For angelic hosts,

Announced this with song.

The shepherds they came,

They followed the light;

In awe and wonder,

On that holy night.

The baby swaddled,

God’s very own Son;

The faith of this pair,

God’s will had been done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the miracle and wonder that surrounds the story of You sending Your Son to us as a baby, in humble beginnings, to make Him approachable to all. Thank You for showing us Your faithfulness through the hearts of the people that were part of Your story, and modeled what it is to trust in You. Forgive us for forgetting the depth of Your love that sent Your Only Son to us so that we could have life in You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would pause and ponder in wonder, the miracle and the majesty of all that You have done. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives insight and understanding to Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your story to fill our hearts and minds this Christmas. Amen.

 

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

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3