He’s Present to Help

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

I say to the Lord, “You are my place of safety, my fortress. My God, I trust in You.” – (Psalm 91:2, ERV)

He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me, the only God for me, and my great confidence. – (Psalm 91:2, TPT)

 

It is such a strange space to be in a place when the world has to slow down and essentially be present at home. Yesterday, as our governor issued a “Stay at Home” decree, for most, I think there was an unanticipated sigh of relief. On one hand, it requires all “non-essential” employees to stay home, while on the other, still allows those that perform duties that keep the skeletal system of our nation running, to report to their positions. For both categories, we need God to be our refuge and our fortress; the One in whom we trust. Our home is one divided, as my husband and bonus son are both considered essential employees, and are called to continue working, while my boys and I remain at home, trusting that they will be kept safe and that others will be mindful of social distancing and necessary protective measures to keep them from being exposed and further spreading illness. God is good, even when circumstances are not. He is our hope and our refuge, and in Him we can trust and fear not. May we hold fast to our hope in Jesus, who is our space of safety and fortress; for in Him we can place our trust as we walk this unknown road with wisdom and strength.

 

God is our refuge, Sense in Storms

Our safe space indeed;

He’s present to help,

Protect and meet needs.

We need not choose fear,

For in God, there’s strength;

To do as we’re asked,

No matter what lengths.

He already knows,

What we need to do;

He’s present to help,

Protect, follow through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and our safe space as we navigate so many unknowns trusting You. Thank You that You are always with us, and You protect and provide as we abide in You. Forgive us for our fears and doubts as we attempt to make sense of what we cannot yet see. Teach us to trust You, rather than our own understanding. Show us how to love those around us well, as we seek You to be our strength and shelter, and support and encourage those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust all in Your mighty hands. Amen.

 

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

 

You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. – Psalm 32:7

Inventive in Hospitality

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. – (Romans 12:13, NIV)

Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. – (Romans 12:13, MSG)

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. – (Romans 12:13, NLT)

 

If ever there was a time to do as we are called to do, now is the time. Sharing and extending help to those in need is a necessity as businesses are having to close their doors if they cannot be sustained through online ordering or curbside pickup. I love how the Message translation says, “be inventive in hospitality.” This is indeed required, as social distancing transforms the traditional perception of hospitality. However, for fun, I checked the dictionary definition, and discovered that it pairs well with being inventive in hospitality. According to dictionary.com, hospitality is: the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way. As far as I can fathom, it is not required to have someone into a home or a space that violates the social distancing expectations, to extend warmth, kindness and generosity. If we watch and listen, we are able to discover needs and do what we can, where we can. Yesterday, I had the privilege of participating at one of my school district’s breakfast and lunch distribution sites, as our union has partnered with nutrition services to lend a hand and be familiar faces for families as they drive through to pick up meals. A fellow teacher from my school and I, worked together with three incredible ladies from nutrition services. One, I discovered, was the mom of a terrific young man whom I had known throughout my schooling days, the second, was a sweet mom of two young kids who were waiting at home, and the third, was the incredible woman who runs the kitchen right there at the high school. We all worked together to keep the supply on the table for distribution, as families trickled through the bus loop to pick up meals. It was a treasure to exchange smiles and friendly greetings, even from our safe distances, as the sun was out and it was clear that all were in appreciation of the hospitality our district is extending.

As for Mom, she is doing fairly well, considering she is stuck in quarantine with NO VISITORS allowed. The only people permitted to see her are her therapists and those who work onsite. No family, friends or the like. We know it is good and necessary for prevention, but a bummer for someone as social as Mom. Phone calls, messages, and mail are always good, and I imagine the same is true for anyone living in a senior living community. In fact, if you are looking for an activity for kids to do at home that is an art/writing combination, making cards and or drawing pictures to send to loved ones in quarantine, or to local senior living facilities would be amazing. It is a simple way that even the youngest among us can learn to practice being inventive in hospitality. May we all look for ways to reach out, safely, to help bless and meet needs where we are able.

 

We have been chosen, wp-15847113510635646106566926534739.jpg

To love and reach out;

Do what we’re able,

To help those without.

As God’s created,

We are made to love;

To extend and give,

Place people above.

Let not the lonely,

Stay trapped in alone;

A call, card or text,

Can make them feel known.

For physical lack,

Let’s rise up and give;

Where we are able,

To help others live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to take care of one another. Thank You that in trying times, we are meant to share one another’s burdens. Show us how to be inventive in hospitality, so that we may treat those around us in warm, friendly and generous ways. Forgive us for thinking that we have nothing to offer, or that there is no safe way to be hospitable in times like these. Teach us to trust You to lead and guide us in ways that You have for us to extend hospitality to others. Show us how to love those around us in generous, tangible and practical ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us where we are meant to extend our time, talent or resources to bless those around us. Amen.

 

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

 

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

The Parts Make the Whole

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. We all have different gifts. Each gift came because of the grace God gave us. – (Romans 12:4-6a, ERV)

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. – (Romans 12:4-6a, NIV)

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as part of His body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. – (Romans 12:4-6a, MSG)

 

This is such a critical message to remember in community – be it in family, friend groups, work or other circles in which we gather. Each of us are created with unique strengths and giftings, intended to utilize them for the encouragement and betterment of those around us. I know this to be true in my family, marriage, and among close friends, and I am extremely grateful for the way that different gifts work together to create a stronger whole. As my colleagues and I spend the week in trainings and meetings to prepare for the upcoming school year, I intend to look for and celebrate the different giftings that each part of our staff brings to the whole of our school community. It is the people that have kept me in the same school for the entire twenty-three years of my teaching career thus far. Superintendents and higher ups have come and gone, yet, there have been core people who have helped keep a familial culture in existence over the years. Those who have come in and embraced the sense of community, have remained and strengthened what was started long ago. When kids begin joining us in a little over a week, it will be our charge to identify the strengths and gifts that each of them brings to our classroom. It is my hope and prayer that we not compare ourselves nor them to each other, but rather see and celebrate each one as is, recognizing the potential in all that is yet to be.

After speaking with mom last evening, I received a bit more clarification about her appointment last week and the hold-up with in-home therapies. Apparently, it is not a need for seeing another specialist, but rather a bit of a fight/search to find in-home therapies that her new insurance will cover. This is extraordinarily frustrating, as a different insurance would have been selected, had we known it would have been so difficult. God is good, and He is faithful to meet mom’s needs, so we are trusting that He will make a way quickly, as a long delay is not beneficial to mom’s ongoing rehabilitation and recovery. On the positive side, she is working hard, making sure to work on her walking multiple times each day. Please join us in praying that all will be worked out and settled this week, so that perhaps as my nephews return to school, mom will be able to begin her therapies back up at home.

 

We each have a role, aristotle_quote_the_whole_is_greater_than_the_sum_of_its_parts_1439598_1807304324820819141384587.png

A part we’re to play;

Gifted and equipped,

God has made the way.

When we choose to live,

To walk out our days;

As He intended,

Our lives bring Him praise.

Part of the body,

Embracing our role;

Encourage others,

To work as a whole.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created each of us with different strengths and gifts, and intended us for community so that we could work together to be strong and whole. Forgive us for comparison, for that is the thief of joy that leads to us thinking either too little or too much of ourselves. Teach us to instead, appreciate all that You create and grow in each of us, and to encourage those around us well. Show us how to love those You place in our lives in a way that celebrates the unique way that You have created each of them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for each person that You have placed in our community to contribute to the whole. Amen.

 

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

 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – John 15:12

The Ultimate Love

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, NIV)

Yes, God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him would not be lost but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, ERV)

For this is how much God loved the world – He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life. – (John 3:16, TPT)

 

Because God loved us, His created, so much, He sent His Son to make Himself tangible and approachable to all. Jesus made the way for all who choose to believe, to have life eternal in Him. This blessed assurance provides hope, peace, comfort and removes fear from all that lies ahead. No matter how tumultuous life can become, there is so much more waiting for us when our time here is done. Though we mourn loss of loved ones as we have to adjust to life without their tangible presence, we may also rejoice for those who know Him, as they enter into eternal glory. Additionally, when we know the Lord as well, goodbye is really just a “see you later.” One day, we will be reunited with those who have gone before us to be with the Lord. Imagine the celebration that will take place when we see Jesus face-to-face, and again join with loved ones who have gone ahead of us. May we rejoice in the incredible love that God has for each of us, as His Son showed us what He is like and how greatly He truly loves.

 

The ultimate love, Healed Hands Reach Out

Chooses truly see;

Past every flaw,

And looks to meet needs.

There’s no greater love,

Than God’s sacrifice;

A love undeserved,

Paid ultimate price.

A death undeserved,

In our place He chose;

Faced the darkest grave,

And third day, He rose.

He went on ahead,

To prepare a place;

For all who believe,

His welcome embrace.

May we look to God,

Ever seek His face;

Trust all that He is,

And unending grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that because You loved, we too, may come to know love. Thank You for the precious gift of Your Son, who made love tangible for all to see and understand. Forgive us for the times that we let go of hope and allow our struggles to define what we see. Teach us to trust You more, so that despite the hard things that we walk through and endure, there is everlasting hope to be held in You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your love and provides hope for what is yet to come. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for our everlasting hope, and embrace the grace that You alone give. Amen.

 

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

 

In Your unfailing love you will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling. – Exodus 15:13

When We Are Real

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. – (Luke 18:14b, NLT)

People who make themselves important will be made humble. But those who make themselves humble will be made important. – (Luke 18:14b, ERV)

If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to fall flat on your face, but if you’re content to simply be yourself, you will become more than yourself. – (Luke 18:14b, MSG)

 

After having had my first day with some of my sixth graders yesterday, this verse is an excellent affirmation of my approach. I have never taught sixth grade before, as my previous twenty years of teaching have been spent with seventh, eighth and even ninth graders. Rather than pretending to know what I am doing with this age group and that I have it all together, I began by being real with my students, and let them know that I did not know exactly what to expect from sixth grade students, and that I would need their help to figure it out. By establishing my need for their help as we work together towards success this year, and discover together what it will take for each to accomplish their goals, there was a sense of comfort and communication that began to take root. May we be real with one another, wherever we are at, and look for ways to encourage and lift each other up.

 

Let’s come as we are, Chosen With Purpose

Wherever we’re at;

For when we are real,

Character’s intact.

People will respect,

The truth that we speak;

Our need for their help,

Is not seen as weak.

We were created,

For community;

To work together,

To rise and meet needs.

So let us gather,

Join in and give grace;

Provide our support,

For all in this space.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we choose to be real and come humbly into whatever we are called, You meet us and provide the help we need to accomplish what is asked of us. Thank You that we are not meant to do everything all on our own, as You place us in community and provide help and hope as we are willing to admit our need. Forgive us for the times that we do not humble ourselves and admit our own need for help or for thinking that we somehow have it all together. Teach us to trust You more, as there is ALWAYS more to learn and room to grow in this process of being refined and becoming who You are calling us to be. Show us how to love those around us with humility and grace, so that they may feel safe and valued as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be honest wherever we are at, and trust You to make up for where we lack. Amen.

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

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

Seeking Strength and Peace

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. – (Psalm 4:8, NLT)

The Lord gives His people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, NLT)

But all who listen to Me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm. – (Proverbs 1:33, NLT)

 

There have been four shootings in the last forty-eight hours in my city – three of which were fatalities. What once was a sleepy little town, is growing and changing, and the bounty of broken and hurting people has blown up. I see it in the schools, where kids come and try to navigate the new, with a very different set of standards guiding them as they go. Many are in crisis, and are simply in survival mode. How do we best meet needs and love all who come, just as Jesus calls us to love? We are not called to be afraid, nor hide away in fear, yet neither are we asked to be foolish. The Lord grants wisdom to all who seek Him, and gives strength where we have none. His peace surrounds us and keeps us safe, despite the seeming destruction of what we formerly knew to be true. There is no easy answer nor simple solution when the safety of one’s city has been stolen by violence. However, change begins with one. One act of kindness. One extension of encouraging words. One person providing peace in the midst of scattered storms… If we seeks the Lord and listen to Him, He will grant us strength and wisdom, removing the fear that has fought to find footing around the brutal acts of broken people. May we let Love be what leads us; not fear.

 

As the day closes,Image-1

And fear tries rush in;

I lean on the Lord,

Where comfort begins.

The Source of all strength,

In chaos, our peace;

Protector, Savior,

Where grace is released.

He loves the hurting,

The scorned and broken;

He’s asking of us,

To be truth spoken.

Not just with our words,

But in love, choose serve;

Meet needs before us,

His peace to preserve.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Source of peace and strength, no matter what surrounds us. Thank You that in You, we need not fear – for You keep us safe from harm. Father, I lift my city before You, and ask that You would move mightily in the hearts of all who love You, so that we may seek You and obey whatever You ask of us to bring peace into this place. Forgive us for our fearfulness when we see so much violence in such a short span of time. Teach us to turn to You in trust, so that we would hear what You would have us do, and then we would go forth and obey. Show us how to love all who are hurting around us, so that they might come to know Your perfect peace for themselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength and peace. 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

 

 

Prioritizing People

There are times, when prioritizing people, is a pain.  When exhaustion has set in, and I am spent from a crazy day, solitude and silence would be the most welcome retreat in my world; however, as a mom, that is seldom an option.

“When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done.  Then He took them with Him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed Him.  He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.” – (Luke 9:10-11)

Jesus always made people His priority.  Regardless of exhaustion, sorrow, weather, lack, or any other circumstance that might be a reasonable deterrent for most, Jesus chose to love – to meet people wherever they were at, and meet their needs.  He not only attended to spiritual needs, but He cared about their physical and emotional needs as well.   He healed, He touched, He fed, and He forgave, and as a result, many chose to follow.

I want to embrace everyone as they come, even when it is inconvenient.  When I am weary, I want to lean on Him for His strength.  If I am in the midst of my own grief, I want to trust His grace to guide me and utilize what He has given, so that His love and light is what people see in me.  Some days are more successful than others.  Fortunately, each day is a fresh start to begin anew, embracing all of the opportunities that He offers to be His hands, heart and voice to those who are hurting or are in need.

How might we love,Christmas collage-002

when we’re weary, worn?

How can we trust,

with a heart that’s torn?

Not by our strength,

but rather, by His;

all things through Him,

where we’re meant to give.

His grace is great,

larger than our lack;

He is enough,

so we can give back.

Let all draw near,

regardless of ease;

give as He gave,

our Father, we’ll please.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us how to love, in all things and at all times.  Thank You, Jesus, that though You would withdraw to quiet places, You always received people as they came, never considering it a disruption in Your day – even when You were ready to retreat.  Thank You that You always love.  Forgive us for our frustration with “disruptions” from our “down time”, and help us to recognize them as opportunities that You are presenting on our path.  Help us to choose to love, regardless of the timing or ease or access.  Thank You that You are our Source and Supply, so we need not worry whether or not we are able to do what You ask.  Lead us in love, Lord.  May many come to know You as we extend our hands, hearts and resources in love.  Be exalted, God.  Amen.

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