Hope in Hard Spaces

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

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

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

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

Each life with a plan,

Purpose to fulfill;

Crafted with intent,

With strengths and with skills.

Let not obstacles,

Deter His intent;

For challenges come,

And strength’s heaven sent.

When things go awry,

Choose trust in what’s true;

Fresh hope, a future,

Are waiting for you.

Help us rise in faith,

To trust in what’s true;

Better is coming,

O Lord, bring it soon.

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

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

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

Working All For Good

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

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. These are the people God chose, because that was His plan. – (Romans 8:28, ERV)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

It is critical to both know and trust this is true in our lives, especially in times of uncertainty or when anxiety begins to rise. I do not know what I will be walking into in the coming school year, as I will again be teaching a new grade and new curriculum. With ever-changing conditions and circumstances, on top of new material, I am again in a space of feeling like a brand new teacher, despite my previous twenty-four years in my career thus far. New can be exciting, but it also makes me anxious, as I want to know what I am doing so that I can do the best possible job of helping kids learn and grow. On my end, I am doing all that I can to prepare, and have to trust that God has me in this space for this time for a purpose. He uses things for good, so I have to trust that I have something to offer and He has something good in store for me. May we ever lean into the Lord and place our trust and confidence in Him, for He is able to bring good and beauty out of spaces of uncertainty.

In everything,

God can create good;

Sunshine after storms,

Grace not understood.

His love never ends,

And His mercy, new;

Each day as we rise,

He’ll show us what’s true.

In love, He will lead,

Show us steps to take;

Heal and build us up,

Despite our mistakes.

So, trust in the Lord,

He’ll use all for good;

As He shows us new,

Where only He could.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You work all things out for the good of those who love You. Thank You that You can take circumstances and situations that seem dismal or difficult, and turn them into something amazing and beautiful. Forgive us for our fears and doubts as we enter the new and unknown. Remind us of Your presence anew each day, and show us clearly how to walk in Your way. Teach us how to love those around us well, so that they may come to understand the hope, help and peace that is found in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and trust You to work all things out for good. Amen.

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

But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your Name may rejoice in You. – Psalm 5:11

Joyful Confidence

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, NIV) 

And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, ERV) 

But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, proven character leads us back to hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, TPT) 

This morning, as I made my way in the wee hours of darkness, to go dog walking with a dear friend, I heard these very same verses being spoken on the radio. Both this morning and when I did my devotional reading this evening, I took pause and determined that I have so far to go. The Passions Translation is the one that I can most closely relate to, as it points to the joyful confidence in the midst of struggle, and that something good can come from pressure or pain. When we place our confidence in Christ, even in the mist of struggle, we discover that there is joy in Him. Patient endurance, character and hope, are all part of the beauty that come from our ashes. Right now, what I have spent the last twenty-four years of my life doing, has been flipped upside down and makes me feel like a brand-new teacher all over again. The learning curve required is cumbersome and challenging, yet I know that the more that I patiently persevere, the greater the chance that I will learn and grow. It is in that space of growing, that I find hope again. Hope that I can reach and teach kids, regardless of whether it is online or in person, and hope that one day, I will get to teach in a regular classroom again, face-to-face with my students. God uses our trials and difficulties to grow and refine us. It is always far easier to look back and see what He has done, than it is to recognize that He can work all things together for good in the middle of the messy. May we seek the Lord in our suffering and in our blessings, knowing that He can move mightily in all things, and produce the hope that shows our heart how to endure and overcome. 

No matter what comes, 

May our hearts find joy; 

Not in the heartache, 

But God’s grace employed. 

Beauty from ashes, 

Is what we all need; 

Character building, 

In hope, He will lead. 

May we each rise up, 

In Christ, persevere; 

For He overcomes, 

Always, He is near. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You can utilize our every experience and circumstance to produce good in us and through us. Forgive us for our desire to get out of difficult situations the moment they strike. Teach us to trust You more so that we might joyfully embrace You and all that You provide in the midst of our messes. Show us how to love those around us in ways that encourage patience and perseverance, every pointing to hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to take joy in You in the midst of difficult, as You grow patience, perseverance, character and hope within us Amen. 

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

…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair… – Isaiah 61:3

Reveal Your Loving Ways

The earth is filled with Your love, Lord; teach me Your decrees. – (Psalm 119:64, NIV) 

Your love, God, fills the earth! Train me to live by Your counsel.  – (Psalm 119:64, MSG) 

Give me more revelation of Your ways, for I see Your love and tender care everywhere. – (Psalm 119:64, TPT) 

This morning, I had the joy of getting out to get some exercise before the sun was up. Driving to meet up with my running buddy, I was in awe of the enormous full moon and planets that were in plain view. Everywhere I look, there is evidence of God’s love and care. Because of the very same love that made the moon and hung the stars in the sky, I long to live according to His good and perfect will. The more I recognize His love, the greater my desire is to live likewise. In order to do so, I must invest time and energy into learning and growing in His love. The more I observe His love in action, the more compelled I am to do the same. May we ever seek the Lord and His ways, so that we may love one another as He first loved us. 

The whole earth is filled, 

With God’s fingerprints; 

Throughout creation, 

His love, He imprints. 

Lord, help me to see, 

To learn and to grow; 

To love as You love, 

So Your heart is shown. 

Help me seek counsel, 

For in You, I find; 

How I’m meant to love, 

And how to be kind. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the whole earth is filled with Your love, if only we open our eyes to see it. Thank You that You lovingly and willingly teach us to live and love according to Your will as we seek You. Forgive us for the times that we have been blind to Your good, or have chosen to wander on our own. Teach us to trust You and follow Your leading to live and love well. Show us how to love those around us as You do. Grant us Your eyes to see and Your heart to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we become acutely aware of Your love all around us, and learn to walk in Your ways. Amen. 

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

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law. – Psalm 119:18

Waiting Seasons

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. – (2 Peter 3:9, NIV) 

The Lord is not being slow in doing what He promised – the way some people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning. – (2 Peter 3:9, ERV) 

Now the Lord is not slow about enacting His promise – slow is how some people want to characterize it – no, He is not slow but patient and merciful to you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following His own path and to turn toward God’s. – (2 Peter 3:9, VOICE) 

It seems that naturally, humans are not terribly patient creatures. Of course, there are exceptions, but for the most part, we struggle to wait longer than we think we should. This whole COVID situation makes it abundantly clear how impatient we really are. Being shut down for several months, not only as a city, state or nation, but nearly the entire world, has caused a restlessness in so many of us. That being said, it seems that for many, it has been a season of awakening; a time to read, reflect, and gain fresh perspective on the ills that have existed for far too long. Also, it has been a forced space of trust, as those of us who have loved ones in senior living communities, have not be allowed to go and visit and spend time with one another. Despite the frustration, He has been merciful and faithful to care for each. Additionally, this time in history has provided room for churches to love their communities well. It has always been God’s intention, and we are seeing this in action at a greater capacity than ever before. For those who have seized the opportunity to lean into God, He has been refining and realigning hearts and minds. God is ever faithful to prepare our hearts to be more like His, so that we will be living and loving well when we at last see Him, face to face. May we turn to God in this season of seeming slowness, and recognize the opportunity that this time is providing to learn better how to live and love as we are called to do. 

The Lord is not slow, 

How He would like us to trust in the waiting…<3

In keeping His word; 

But rather, He waits, 

‘til lessons are learned. 

God gives us the time, 

To seek and embrace; 

His great heart of love, 

With kindness and grace. 

Let us keep seeking, 

Pursuing His best; 

Embracing each change, 

Instead of unrest. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are not slow, but rather extending patience so that we may seek and know, learn and grow, being ever refined to walk in Your ways. Thank You that You are faithful to meet us wherever we are as we seek You, and You change us from the inside out. Forgive us for our lack of patience in seasons of waiting; for You use each one to grow and change us to better reflect Your heart to the world, if only we are willing to put in the work. Teach us to press in when seasons of waiting seem long, as You are forever faithful and kind. Show us how to love those around us best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek and trust You in waiting seasons, because You have a plan and a purpose for all. 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

Renewed Resolve

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. – (Isaiah 40:31, NIV) 

But those who trust in the Lord will become strong again. They will be like eagles that grow new feathers. They will run and not get weak. They will walk and not get tired. – (Isaiah 40:31, ERV) 

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. – (Isaiah 40:31, MSG) 

We are in the midst of a long and heavy season. Staying home, not spending time with those we love outside of our immediate family, seeking to learn and grow, and trying to determine what is and is not safe and wise, all of these things and more, are exhausting. Thankfully, as we navigate each day as it arrives, we have a Savior who will renew our strength and resolve, and empower us to keep moving forward in faith. Our hope is not in any particular people, but rather it is in Christ alone. He is the One who leads us, loves us and shapes us to more clearly reflect His heart to the world. May we ever place our hope in the Lord, for He is willing and able to renew our strength and grant us all that we need to keep moving in the direction to which we are called. 

Choose wait on the Lord, 

For He is our strength; 

Ever making new, 

His path we’re to take. 

God’s power and grace, 

Are granted to us; 

As we seek the face, 

of the Lord Jesus. 

So, spread wide our wings, 

And take to the air; 

His grace is enough, 

to love anywhere. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You renew and strengthen us for all that You are calling us into, so that we may keep moving forward. Thank You for Your love and grace that fill where we are lacking. Forgive us for not turning to You for strength in our weariness. Teach us to hope in You. Show us how to love others as You so completely love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our hope in You. Amen. 

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

The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. – Exodus 15:2

Forgive, Listen and Grow

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, NIV) 

Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, ERV) 

Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act kind. – (Colossians 3:13, VOICE) 

Our nation is in a space where forgiveness is needed for all. For many of us, our own ignorance to the magnitude of the problem that still exists in this country is a grievance in and of itself. We must bear with one another in love, as we seek to listen, learn and grow. The enemy is not people who hold a particular profession, nor is it people who protest and take a stand against what is blaringly wrong. There is an enemy of our souls, who seeks to kill and destroy, as lies, ignorance and ugliness create division. That sin that has seeped in and wrapped its tendrils around unprotected hearts, has created the heinous atrocities that have transpired over time. Justice must be served, and we must walk in forgiveness with repentant hearts; for we each have played a role in perpetuating the problem, if we have not been actively pursuing better. For many of us, this is a season of awakening to a nightmare that many have been living for centuries. In order to be better, we must listen and learn. For me, this comes in the form of reading everything I can get my hands on, listening to those who have a voice of experience, have honest conversations and self-reflection, so that I may be aware and informed; willing to forgive my own ignorance, as I move forward with intention and honesty. Rather than lashing out with accusations and ugliness, how can we have hard conversations and speak truth to those in our circles who need to hear? Forgiveness does not mean ignoring nor sweeping things under the rug, but rather it is a commitment to not hold hostility in our hearts toward others, and choose to kindly come along side people and help them see the truth. Some will not listen. Love anyway. Others will be slow to see the truth. Love anyway. To choose to love is the only way that true change can occur. Jesus reached out, spoke, touched, and loved all people. There were no qualifiers to Him loving, rather He saw needs and met them. As He loved the people whom society had deemed “less than”, Jesus modeled what we are all meant to do. There are none less nor more valuable than others. We are all precious in His sight. Sadly, we are in a space where there has been such injustice against people of color, that it is necessary to draw specific attention to the wrongs so that change may transpire. We must be and do better. None of us will ever get everything right, but if our hearts are for ALL, and we are actively seeking to listen, learn and grow, we will be agents of change for the better. May we seek the Lord for forgiveness, so that we may forgive ourselves and one another as we move in love toward what God intended all along. 

The choice to forgive, 

To listen and grow; 

Is how we are called, 

So truth may be known. 

Instead of anger, 

Let’s have open hearts; 

That true repentance, 

Finds a way to start. 

As we’re forgiven, 

May we do the same; 

Love one another, 

In Jesus’s Name. 

Love with true kindness, 

Without fear to speak; 

Truth for what is right, 

God’s will, ever seek. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are called to bear with one another in love, and choose forgive. Thank You that forgiveness does not mean permission to repeat wrongs, but rather it is us not holding onto past wrongs that weigh us down and prevent us from moving forward in all that You are calling us to. Teach us to do and be better, so that all may live and love in freedom, without fear. Show us how to love those around us better. Lead us to repentance so that reconciliation may transpire. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the true healer and reconciler of all. Be glorified O God, as we listen, learn and grow in love for one another. Amen. 

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

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14

Take Heart

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

Be strong and brave, all of you who are waiting for the Lord’s help. – (Psalm 31:24, ERV)

Be strong and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal! – (Psalm 31:24, VOICE)

 

Whenever I am in a space of struggle, difficulty or challenge, there is something about the Psalms that offers comfort. David, the author of many of them, penned perfectly, both the struggle in difficulties and the encouragement to overcome. It leads me to wonder if Paul, who wrote many of the letters that became the New Testament from a prison cell, found comfort too, in the songs and sonnets and scores of words recorded in the Psalms. For many of us, the staying in place feels a bit torturous, as it is in no way natural nor normal. However, when I consider the time spent by Paul under house arrest and in Roman prison, I need to count my blessings and take heart. In strength and courage, Paul encouraged entire congregations of new believers, despite his circumstances. We are no different. Whatever we are tasked to do in this season, may we be strong and take heart, and place our hope in He who is our help. God is good, and He is faithful to answer when we call on Him to be our help and our hope.

 

Be strong in the Lord, Take Heart

Take courage, be brave;

The Lord will be near,

When asked to come stay.

As we place our hope,

In the Lord above;

He grants what we need,

To go forth in love.

Fear not in trials,

For God’s ever near;

He’s present to help,

Each request, He hears.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can find strength and courage in You as we seek You to be our help and our hope. Thank You that You are ever-present. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations with our circumstances. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may learn and grow through every trial. Show us how to love those around us best, so that we may encourage and strengthen one another in spaces where resolve is running low. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we find strength and courage as we look to You to be our help and hope forever. Amen.

 

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

 

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Fit Our Feet With Peace

For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. – (Ephesians 6:15, NLT)

On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. – (Ephesians 6:15, ERV)

Stand on your feet alert, then you’ll always be ready to share the blessings of peace. – (Ephesians 6:15, TPT)

 

This portion of Ephesians six is talking about the armor of God that each of us should wear as we go about our days. The idea of peace on your feet makes perfect sense, as it is a reminder that wherever we go, peace should be present and a foundation on which we stand. His peace is not just any peace, but is the perfect peace that brings blessings and strength, and is present, even when it seems like peace should not be possible. To put on the peace that comes from the Good News, we must know, trust and believe the truth of God. As we learn and grow our roots deeper in Christ, peace becomes more readily present; for we trust what we know. May we invest well in our relationship with the Lord, ever making ready our feet to go forth and share the blessings of peace.

 

May we make ready, fb_img_15335609939204632619799715819584.jpg

Our feet with God’s peace;

As we seek the Lord,

His grace He’ll release.

Strengthened for blessings,

With peace meant to share;

Feet readied to love,

Through ongoing prayer.

Rise up, be ready,

Shoe your feet with peace;

Bless in His goodness,

Surrendered release.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to ready our feet with peace so that wherever we go, peace may accompany us. Thank You that as we grow in You, Your peace is present within us, regardless of our circumstances. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to allow the peace that is already within us, to pour out of us in the places it is needed most. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be sensitive to Your leading and know how to best share Your peace in places it is absent. Show us how to love those around us well; especially those in need of peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we fit our feet with Your peace, every step we take each day. 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

To Love, Learn and Grow

This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” – (Isaiah 48:17, NIV)

The Lord, the Savior, the Holy One of Israel, says, “I am the Lord your God. I teach you for your own good. I lead you in the way you should go.” – (Isaiah 48:17, ERV)

“I am God, your God, who teaches you how to live right and well. I show you what to do, where to go.” – (Isaiah 48:17, MSG)

 

As I sit here this morning, prayerfully, after a restless night’s sleep, I am grateful for the reminder of God’s guidance and grace. Today will mark the first day of my twenty-third year of teaching, and the last “first day” that my boys have that aligns with mine, as they begin their senior year. The night before school begins is always a bit restless, as there is an eager anticipation, along with nerves, knowing that there is much to do, and I desperately want to do my job well. This verse is an excellent reminder for me, as though there is a level of preparation that is my responsibility, and indeed the investment has been made, the part of me that knows that there is much more to learn and grow and do better, is encouraged that He will lead me, each new day. May we ever trust in the One who teaches us what is best for us, and how to live right and well; for wherever we go, others see and follow our lead.

Yesterday, mom enjoyed a day with the family at home. There was much hustle and bustle with each pitching in to purge their home in a sort of “spring-cleaning” fashion, and mom utilized some of the lessons that my sister has given her, showing her new ways to make use of her phone in a more one-handed friendly fashion. With mom, we are trusting God’s guidance to show us what to do and where to go, to get mom’s in-home therapies going.

 

Hours before dawn,

09021914503103742408969719714.jpg

A little “Art Therapy” for this art teacher.

Still waiting for light;

Teachers lie awake,

In hope and delight.

What will this year bring?

What stories unfold?

How will we touch lives,

These young hearts of gold?

Each year there is hope,

And joy in the new;

Potential waiting,

Lord, show us break through.

May schools and classrooms,

Provide a safe space;

To learn, love and grow,

Each know they’ve a place.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You lead us and guide us in the ways we are meant to go, and that You teach us best. Thank You that as You lead us, we in turn can lead and love well. Forgive us for the times that we have not given ear to Your leading. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would ever be learning and growing, just as we desire to see in our kids. Show us how to love and encourage all those around us, so that each person feels safe to grow into all that they are becoming. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You and listen to You as You teach us and lead us forward. Amen.

 

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

 

Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. – Psalm 25:4