Merry Christmas 2019

Merry Christmas blessings to all! Today’s post is going to look a bit different than usual, as I wanted to take the opportunity to send out Christmas greetings and an update for family and friends, near and far, as I found myself in a space of having to let go of the expectation of sending out Christmas cards this year. wp-15772871873888784698050003969833.jpg

Grace is a beautiful thing. Once I realized that the only person who had the expectation of a card being sent was me, I was able to let that “one more thing” go, and be present and enjoy the season.

This year has been all about learning and growing in grace; letting go of expectations of what we thought life would be, and embracing the gifts that come our way each day. At the end of April, my mom suffered a stroke, completely out of the blue. She was in great health, fit, capable, and extraordinarily independent; always on the go. As a result, I was given the grace to take a leave of absence for the majority of the remaining school year, and had the wellness leave to cover the time without loss of pay. Grace was granted financially for my family, as I was afforded time and total support to go and be present with Mom in the beginning of her recovery.  We also were able to visit Mark’s dad in September while he was still doing reasonably well, as we just returned to Wisconsin a few weeks ago for his memorial. Love and loss, blessings and grace; we have been carried well this year, despite the unanticipated obstacles.

Mid-August, Mom moved to Oregon with my sister and her family, while I returned home to my own to prepare for the new school year. She and her family have been loving and caring for Mom with incredible grace.

Both of my boys are now nearly half-way through their senior year, as is my eldest nephew in Oregon. The duo gained their licenses at the close of summer, so there has been a new-found freedom for all. Our eldest, my bonus son, secured a new job in the field of his choosing, and is back to working days, after more than a year of graveyard. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to have family dinners at least a few times each week.

Mark’s twenty-year dream has become a reality over the last few months, as the shop construction is nearly complete. All that remains is wiring, insulation and equipping the shop with all of the various tools he will utilize to practice his trade on the side from home. Daily, he is like a little kid on Christmas morning, as he looks at the shop with awe and gratitude.

As for me, I am continuing my twenty-third year of teaching, currently teaching English, Social Studies and Art. Added to the list this season with joy, is the position of assistant gymnastics coach at the high school my boys attend. I will continue to be the head coach at the middle school where I teach, as the seasons are separate, so I am able to participate in both.

Mom, despite the enormous blow to her health that none of us had anticipated, is a resilient fighter. Her perseverance is paying off, as she is able to walk around with a walker well, and continues to gain strength and work tirelessly to rebuild that which was compromised. We are eagerly awaiting our visit in a few days to celebrate the season with her.

May the grace of God be poured out upon each of you this most wonderful season, as you take pause and reflect on His goodness and grace. Merry Christmas, and blessings of peace to all!

 

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

 

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

The Treasures of Christmas

But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. – (Luke 2:19, NLT)

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, NIV)

 

Mary, the one whom God chose to bear the Savior of the world, experienced wonders and miracles both before Jesus was born, and throughout His lifetime. I love how Luke points out that Mary made a point to treasure each event in her heart and remember what the Lord had done, as this is how a mama’s heart is wired. As my own children have transitioned from baby, to toddler, to children and now into teenagers, I too, have treasured the moments of significance in my heart, and likewise, I think of the moments and movements of God often. Christmas is the gift of God with us. Heaven came to earth so that we would know the wonder of Christ’s nearness, rather that God out there. Though we may not all be mamas, we all have moments and miracles to keep in our hearts and think about often. May we take time today to celebrate God with us, and the glorious gift that came to us so that we could have life everlasting as we remember the reason for this sacred season. Merry Christmas, and may your heart ponder the treasures He has given and continues to give.

 

When Love made way down,

O Holy Night

image by Rick Larson

From heaven to earth;

Such glory beheld,

In Christ’s sacred birth.

Though in modest scene,

No crib for a bed;

Jesus came to save,

And peace and love spread.

Just as His mother,

Held dear in her heart;

May we hold moments,

Of Love from the start.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son so that Love could come close. Thank You that Mary modeled the importance of keeping close to our hearts, all that You have done in us and for us and through us. Forgive us for not paying attention or for not recognizing the significance of all that You do. Teach us how to treasure each moment that You give us. Show us how every movement and moment matters to You. Help us to love as You love, so that people may see Your heart through the way that we love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we treasure all that You have done, and think about these things often. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6