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

Be Fruitful in Love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)

But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things. – (Galatians 5:22-23, ERV)

But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless. – (Galatians 5:22-23, TPT)

 

The thing about fruit is that it does not just magically appear. It goes through a process of being planted, cultivated and cared for; watered and nourished, and then over time, fruit begins to spring forth in season. We are no different. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control do not just naturally flow out of a person. For some, it is what they have always been given, so they too, long to do likewise. However, what cultivates this sort of fruit and keeps it sustainable is an ongoing relationship with Christ. He fills us with His love and grants us all of these things in abundance, so that the various attributes of His Spirit may be fruitful in our lives. No matter what restrictions or recommendations are made in the coming days, nothing will stand in the way of choosing to operate in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In fact, we would all be better off if more people sought to be fruitful in these ways. May we seek to be deeply planted in the truth of God’s word, nourished in His goodness and grace, and watered by the blessings of His Spirit to grow good fruit to share with the world.

 

The fruit that will last, Be Fruitful in Love

Love in divine form;

Peace, patience, kindness,

Strength that will transform.

Gentleness of heart, 

And faith that prevails;

Joy overflowing,

God’s love never fails.

Be rooted in Christ,

Seek Him to grow well;

For a life fruitful,

His goodness will tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You to nourish and grow us in You, You produce fruit in our lives that bless those around us. Thank You that You have shown us how sweet the fruit of Your Spirit is in those around us who love You well. Forgive us for the times that we have not sought You to lead us in Your love. Teach us to trust You more, as Your fruit is what blesses and nourishes all. Show us how to love others with joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, in the same way that You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the amazing love that You give to us, and the strength You supply each of us to love in the very same way. Amen.

 

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

 

We love because He first loved us. – 1 John 4:19

Answer Gently

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, NIV)

A gentle answer makes anger disappear, but a rough answer makes it grow. – (Proverbs 15:1, ERV)

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words cause quarrels. – (Proverbs 15:1, TLB)

 

Both my mother, and her mother before her, modeled this verse in action for us growing up. On countless occasions, I witnessed each of them diffuse situations, simply by meeting someone kindly, who was engaging with them in a way that did not begin on the kindest of terms. Their smile and genuine love for people would soften the hardest of hearts, and win over the grumpiest of characters. For me, more times than not, a gentle response to a child escalated in the classroom, has provided them room to calm down or breathe long enough to avoid further incident. Walking this road to recovery with mom is no different. Losing mobility, freedom and independence, for a strong, self-sufficient, care-giver like mom, has got to be beyond frustrating. She is handling it gracefully 99% of the time, and it is my charge to be extraordinarily gentle through the 1%, when her frustration gets the better of her. Gentle words affirming her frustration, yet recognizing her strength and progress, have been pivotal in working through moments of challenge. Humor has been a lifeline as well. Thankfully, we know each other better than anyone else, so a mere look speaks volumes, and can inspire giggles in an instant, even in moments of madness.

Much of the reason she is not feeling ready for visitors, (other than the very short list of family and lifelong friends whom have already been in contact), is her own desire to uphold a spirit of gentleness and kindness, as she cannot wrap her head around not being able to be the gracious host that she normally would be. Please continue to be patient with her willingness to see visitors, as I imagine she will become more willing as she is more confident and settled back in her own space.

Today will be the first official day of in-home therapies, as physical therapy kicks off this afternoon at 1pm. We are eagerly awaiting phone calls from the occupational therapist, speech therapist and nursing care facilitator, to figure out what the schedule will be for them as well. Yesterday was a very relaxing day, as mom and I enjoyed watching a few movies between meals, stretching and rests, after the fellas went home. This week will be busy, as we work to discover a new normal with appointments coming into the home to aid in mom’s recovery. May we ever rely on the Lord to be gentle with those around us, for kindness keeps anger at bay.

 

No matter what comes, photo

Be gentle and kind;

For we do not know,

Battles deep inside.

So often anger,

Is hurt or a fear;

Set free by kindness,

If love braves draw near.

Seek to have courage,

To always be kind;

Give love to others,

And true peace, you’ll find.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that a gentle answer turns away anger. Thank You that this is not simply a theory, but proven, time and time again. Thank You that Jesus modeled this for us throughout His life, death, resurrection and ascension. Forgive us for the times that our responses are not gentle or kind. Teach us to trust and rely on You to give us the wisdom and strength to be Your heart and voice to others, so that they may see Your love in the way that we respond. Show us how to love others well, as we choose to be gentle and kind to all, no matter how others speak or act toward us. Give us grace O God. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose kindness and love, just as You do with us. Amen.

 

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

 

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! – Galatians 5:22-23

The Heart of a Shepherd

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. – (Luke 2:16-18, NIV)

 

I am continuing to revisit and ponder the story of the shepherds and the role that God called them to play when Jesus was born. Not only were they the first people to witness the miracle of His birth, but they were also the first to share the good news of His long-awaited arrival. These “lowly” shepherds understood the significance of Who was lying in the manger before them, so they went out and shared with others, the awe and wonder that they had just beheld. Rather than being repelled by these shepherds, people were amazed at what they heard. What had been foretold so long ago, had finally come to pass. I imagine it was the hope that had been missing, finally being spoken aloud. Today, it is no different. For so many, hope is absent, and the need to know about or be reminded of the arrival and the reason for the season, is critical. People who normally would be repelled by an invitation to hear, are receptive and willing to partake in candlelight services and “traditional” Christmas activities where the truth about Christmas is told. May we each have the heart of a shepherd and embrace the hope that we know, so that we too are eager to share this hope with those who need it most.

 

The shepherds who watched, The Heart of a Shepherd

Their flocks through the night;

Were by God chosen,

To see first His light.

The angel declared,

What they could go see;

As God had come down,

For you and for me.

The shepherds, they ran,

To find as they’d heard;

In awe and wonder,

They witnessed God’s word.

This amazing sight,

The glory beheld;

Led them to go out,

And of this news tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show the least of us Your glory in incredible ways, and give us the grace to share with others, the beauty of Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You came down and made Yourself approachable and tangible to ordinary people. Forgive us for thinking that we have to be anything other than ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to show us how to love as You love each of us. Help us to make You accessible to many through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate in awe and wonder, the incredible gift You gave us through Your Son. Amen.

 

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

 

For to 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