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

Plans vs Purpose

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. – (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)

People might make many plans, but what the Lord says is what will happen. – (Proverbs 19:21, ERV)

We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God’s purpose prevails. – (Proverbs 19:21, MSG)

The impulses of the human heart may run wild, but the Eternal’s plan will prevail. – (Proverbs 19:21, VOICE)

We can make plans, but if we are not in tune with God’s intent for us, He slows us down and reminds us again of His purpose. It is when we seek to live and love as we are called to do that we are walking out His plans and His purposes for our lives. His plan for us is made evident when our words and deeds point hearts to Him. God does not plan for bad or difficult things to happen to us, but when we persevere and trust in Him, He will use those things to grow, strengthen and refine us so that we more clearly reflect His heart to the world. If our plans are to honor and serve God in all that we do, then His purpose for us will prevail. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us through every season and circumstance, for in doing so, His plans shall prevail.

When we lose our way,

Or find ourselves blind;

Unsure what to do,

The Lord will be kind.

His hands hold us up,

And He’ll lead us through;

Trials and triumphs,

His love’s always true.

Let us seek the Lord,

To show us the way;

To live our lives well,

For all of our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we have plans and ideas in our heart as to how we want things to go, Your plan is greater and is always for our good. Forgive us for trying to navigate things on our own, rather than seeking You to lead us well. Show us how to place all in Your hands so that we may walk the path that You have placed before us with Your strength and fortitude. Lead us to love others well, for when we seek to love You and love people, we remain on the path that You have prepared for us all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our hopes, dreams, expectations and plans in Your hands and trust You to lead us in the ways that fulfill Your purpose each new day. Amen.

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

“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 a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Our Quiet Retreat

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word. – (Psalm 119:114, NIV)

You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for Your Word to renew me. – (Psalm 119:114, MSG)

You’re my place of quiet retreat, and Your wraparound presence becomes my shield as I wrap myself in Your Word! – (Psalm 119:114, TPT)

A place of quiet retreat is essential to start my day well. Any place that we intentionally choose to be in His presence can become a quiet retreat. At home, I am able to find a quiet retreat in the early morning on our couch in the living room. When I am away from home, the early morning hours still seem to be the best space for me to find quiet retreat and spend time in His Word. It is through time in His Word that hope is renewed and I again feel surrounded by His presence. In this crazy world, holding onto the promised hope and truth of His Word is everything. There are countless verses that remind us of His love, protection, peace, plans, and promises that grant us hope to hold. May we ever find a quiet retreat in God’s presence as we invest time in His Word, allowing the truth to settle into the spaces within us that need to be reminded again of the goodness of God.

In a quiet space,

My heart finds retreat;

Reminders of truth,

With each new heartbeat.

My refuge and shield,

Where true hope is found;

Place in Your presence,

As all grace abounds.

Your Word is the lamp,

That shows us the way;

Through our time with You,

Peace and presence stay.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our quiet space of retreat and Your Word reminds us of who You are and how You love. Thank You that You surround us with Your presence and fill us with Your peace. Forgive us for allowing life to wear us down, rather than pursue spaces of Your refreshing presence. Show us how to find spaces of peace in Your presence where we can be reminded of the truth of Your Word that grants us all hope. Lead us to love those around us in ways that provide safety and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are intentional to seek spaces of quiet retreat to spend time in Your Word as You surround us with Your peace. 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

Spoken to Be

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth. – (Psalm 33:6, NIV)

The Lord spoke the command, and the world was made. The breath from His mouth created everything in the heavens. – (Psalm 33:6, ERV)

The unfathomable cosmos came into being at the word of the Eternal’s imagination, a solitary voice in endless darkness. The breath of His mouth whispered the sea of stars into existence. – (Psalm 33:6, VOICE)

The very same God who spoke creation into being, intentionally made us all. There is a plan and a purpose for each of us, and if God created all that is both seen and unseen, how vast and powerful are His plans for us? Though what we are called to do with our lives may seem insignificant, if our lives show His love to people, we are granting glimpses of God and walking out our purpose. Each time I spend time outdoors, I am reminded of the power, goodness and intention of God. Creation displays God’s majesty. New blooms opening, the sun glistening on the water, the sun setting and painting the colors of the sky – so much goodness has been created to remind us of the work of God’s hands. May we ever take time to look around us and recognize the loving intention breathed into every living thing around us, and give praise to the One who made it all.

All that our eyes see,

Photo by Lukas Rodriguez on Pexels.com

And so far beyond;

The work of God’s hands,

Call hearts to respond.

Respond with all thanks,

Love and lift up praise;

Such purposeful good,

For all of our days.

May we choose to love,

As the Lord loves us;

All thanks to the One,

Who knows and loves best.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the beauty in all that You have purposefully created. Thank You that we cannot even begin to fathom all that Your hands have lovingly made. Thank You that You created all of us with the same intentionality. Forgive us for not recognizing the beauty all around us, and that which is in every living creature. Teach us to love and care well for all that You have made. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your powerful, unending love evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for the incredible work of Your hands – both around us and in us. Amen.

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

“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 a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Wonderfully Made

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – (Psalm 139:14, NIV)

I praise You because You made me in such a wonderful way. I know how amazing that was! – (Psalm 139:14, ERV)

I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. – (Psalm 139:14, VOICE)

This is an important reminder for us all. Not one of us was an accident; for all are intentionally created. Each person has been fearfully and wonderfully made. We are all hand-crafted with gifts and talents that are unique to our design. All that God has created is good. What we do with His creation is up to us, yet the more we recognize the wonder of His works, the more we value all that His hands have made. Perhaps we would all be a bit gentler with one another if we viewed each other as His handiwork, rather than categorized by beliefs, affiliation, geography, socioeconomic status, and so on. ALL are created with purpose, and ALL must be valued. May we seek the Lord to see others through His lens, so that we value each intentional detail in those around us, and celebrate the wonderful way each human has been made.

My heart will give thanks,

For all You have made;

Each with a purpose,

Gifts to celebrate.

Help my eyes to see,

The beauty that lies;

Within ev’ry soul,

Value realized.

O God, You are good,

All made by Your hands;

May we choose cherish,

Each life You have planned.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have wonderfully and intentionally made all of us. Thank You that You have uniquely designed every human on the planet with purpose. Forgive us for allowing differences to warp our view. Teach us to recognize and value the gift of every individual we meet. Show us how to love in a way that values and celebrates the gifts that You have given in all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to give us Your heart and Your eyes to view the gifts to celebrate in all whom You have created. Amen.

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

“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 a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Take Joy in the Journey

For You make me glad by Your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what Your hands have done. How great are Your works, Lord, how profound Your thoughts! – (Psalm 92:4-5, NIV)

No wonder I’m so glad; I can’t keep it in! Lord, I’m shouting with glee over all You’ve done for me: what mighty miracles and Your power at work – just to name a few! Depths of purpose and layers of meaning saturate everything You do. – (Psalm 92:4-5, TPT)

Because You, O Eternal One, thrill me with the things You have done, I will sing with joy in light of Your deeds. Your works are marvelous, O Eternal One! Your thoughts are unfathomable. – (Psalm 92:4-5, VOICE)

Each new day, we have a choice – we can either focus on our struggles, or we can take joy in the faithfulness of God. Some days, this is more difficult than others. This morning as I woke from a very restless night’s sleep, I found myself frustrated and grumpy. It took little time to ponder how God has provided for what my heart has needed, and I could not help but smile and find myself aware of how God works on our behalf. God’s thoughts and plans are not our own, and He can use every test as a testimony. If I pause and reflect, there have been countless times that the Lord has taken my struggles and turned them into strengths, and He has turned my trials into triumphs. In the midst of my challenges, I must remember that God is faithful and is ever working on my behalf. He does a work in my heart as well, and leads me through whatever obstacle lies before me. The Lord is loving and kind, working mightily in us, before us, and through us, even in the moments that we are oblivious to how He might move. May we ever praise the Lord for His love and faithfulness, even when we cannot see how He will work things out.

The work of Your hands,

Is faithful and true;

You help and hold us,

As You lead us through.

My heart sings for joy,

At all You have done;

Our loving Father,

The Most Holy One.

Help us to reflect,

Remember with praise;

Your presence and help,

Miraculous ways.

Lead us with Your love,

When we cannot see;

How things will work out,

May we trust in Thee.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind, and that Your ways are so much higher than our own. Thank You that You work on our behalf, and lead us through the deserts and valleys that are a part of our journey. Forgive us for not lifting praise when troubles come; for You are always worthy. Teach us to depend on You in faith, and to ever praise You for what You have done, are doing, and will continue to do. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways that make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and all that You have done, trusting that You will forever remain our faithful Father. 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

Making Our Days Matter

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – (Psalm 90:12, NIV)

Teach us how short our lives are so that we can become wise. – (Psalm 90:12, ERV)

Help us to remember that our days are numbered, and help us to interpret our lives correctly. Set Your wisdom deeply in our hearts so that we may accept Your correction. – (Psalm 90:12, TPT)

A common thread among us is that I think we are all far more aware that our days are numbered. There is nothing quite like a pandemic to remind us that none of us are immune to the reaches of the affects, as I know few folks who do not at least know someone impacted by COVID19. We have the opportunity to respond to the realization that none of us are guaranteed a long life on earth, so how we spend our days matters. In order to use the time we are given well, we need God’s wisdom. He is faithful to grow us and show us more and more of His love and grace, as we choose to follow after Him. The Lord is faithful to direct and correct, if we are willing to pursue Him and respond to His promptings. I desire to live each day with intention, and am acutely aware of my need for God’s intervention to do so. May we ever recognize that we are not promised tomorrow, so that we might live each day with wisdom and grace, according to God’s good and perfect plan.

O Lord, I thank You,

For each day thus far;

As Your love and grace,

Meet us where we are.

Grant us Your wisdom,

Help us to live well;

Let each brand new day,

Be love’s show and tell.

May each day we rise,

Be seen as a gift;

Each moment a chance,

For spirits to lift.

Lord, show me Your heart,

In each circumstance;

Make me wise with love,

To live out Your plans.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have good plans for each of us. Thank You that You meet us as we seek You, and You grant us wisdom to navigate our days well. Forgive us for the times that we take our days for granted. Teach us how to live with intention, each new day that we draw breath. Show us how to live and love with wisdom and grace, so that all might seek Your welcome embrace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for each new day, and seek You to live it out with wisdom, love and grace. Amen.

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

How many are Your works, Lord! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. – Psalm 104:24

Good Plans

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper 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) 

I’m not sure about you, but I really appreciate this reminder today. It is a blustery day outside, I woke up tired, and was feeling a bit weighed down by the challenges and obstacles that are ahead of me. Sometimes, I think I just need to be reminded that He has so much more in store – for me, for my family, for the people around me whom I love. Just because I cannot see the hope and future in situations and circumstances, does not mean that it is not there. In hindsight, I can see again and again, how God made a way where there seemed to be no way, and how He brought beauty from seeming ashes and despair. Our present circumstances and challenges are not forever. Though at times it may feel like a very long season, God has a plan that is good. Today, I will simply soak in the promise that He knows the plans that He has for me, (and those around me) and that they are good. May we ever trust in the Lord and His promises, for He already knows how the story ends, and it is good. 

The Lord has a plan, 

And it’s always good; 

With our best in mind, 

Our hope understood. 

For His plan is peace, 

Not evil nor harm; 

Our glorious hope, 

Through life’s ev’ry storm. 

Choose be not dismayed, 

For in Him hope’s found; 

A future that’s good, 

Where peace does abound. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that no matter what we see or feel, You have a hope and a future for us that is good. Thank You that Your promises are true today, tomorrow and forever. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to distort our view of You. Teach us to lean into You and the promises that You have for us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate hope and peace and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to Your promises that remind us that You have plans for us that are good. Amen. 

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

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:5

His Wisdom

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible is it for us to understand His decisions and His ways! – (Romans 11:33, NLT)

Yes, God’s riches are very great! His wisdom and knowledge have no end! No one can explain what God decides. No one can understand His ways. – (Romans 11:33, ERV)

Who could ever wrap their minds around the riches of God, the depth of His wisdom, and the marvel of His perfect knowledge? Who could ever explain the wonder of His decisions or search out the mysterious way He carries out His plans? – (Romans 11:33, TPT)

 

This is arguably one of the strangest seasons in modern history. Neither our parents, nor grandparents, experienced quite a time such as the one we are living in right now. For many of us, our grandparents lived through the depression, WWII, Vietnam, Polio, and the like, but nothing that ever brought the entire world to a screeching halt, in the same way that this current pandemic has done. Many are left wondering why. Why would this happen? If God is good and just and kind, why allow so many to suffer? This is the space where it is impossible for us to understand the mysterious ways of God. He can bring beauty from something that has caused so much destruction, and good, from something seemingly so horrid. I know not what all of His plans entail, but I do see evidence of the good, all around me. People are intentional to reach out to one another. They are creative and innovative to find ways to help people feel celebrated and loved when they achieve milestones or have birthdays, and there is much philanthropy in the hearts of the community, as so many needs are being met through both individuals and various organizations that have popped up in response to known needs. The “church” is not limited to a building to thrive, and healthy churches are staying connected, holding services online, and reaching out to serve their communities in practical and tangible ways. Though I long for the freedom to travel, especially to go and see my mom, I am grateful that we live in the era we do, where we have access to one another, more than we ever have before. Communication is at the touch of a button, and there are countless methods we can use to stay connected with one another. God is good, and His wisdom supersedes that of humanity. Our plans are not His, nor our ways, His; and trusting Him is what we need most to navigate this season. May we seek the Lord in His wisdom, for He is able to provide all that we need to persevere through the wait.

 

The riches of God, Ongoing Peace

Are beyond compare;

His wisdom, kindness,

And limitless care.

Though we cannot know,

Why all things occur;

From all can come good,

For God’s love is sure.

In seasons of loss,

In love, He provides;

All that is needed,

As we choose abide.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all wisdom and knowledge and provision come from You. Thank You that though we do not understand the reason why things happen as they do, You love us through them. Forgive us for our fears, frustrations and doubts. Teach us to trust You; always. Show us how to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as trust in Your wisdom in every circumstance. Amen.

 

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

 

God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; He does great things beyond our understanding. – Job 37:5

Beautiful Unknown

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. – (Ecclesiastes 11:5, NIV)

You don’t know where the wind blows. And you don’t know how a baby grows in its mother’s womb. In the same way, you don’t know what God will do – and He makes everything happen. – (Ecclesiastes 11:5, ERV)

You can no more predict the path of the wind than you can explain how a child’s bones are formed in a mother’s womb. Even more, you will never understand the workings of the God who made all things. – (Ecclesiastes 11:5, VOICE)

 

Back during the times of King Solomon, when he scribed Ecclesiastes, there was no Doppler radar system, nor ultra sound; the discoveries made over the last century in technology were not even an inkling of an idea, and so, and that time, those were reasonably comparable things to the ways of God. In current times, it seems that the comparison would be more along the lines of knowing what this COVID-19 virus actually is, if an effective vaccination is possible, and if and when life might return to a non-shutdown state of existence. God can do incredible things, and we never know how He will move in any given situation. After walking through last year with my mom, I thought this year might be a breeze, in comparison. This separation is an equal sort of difficult. I cannot predict how it will go, nor when it will change. All I can do is trust God, who is far greater than every obstacle we face, and seek Him to be with us through this season too. In the same way that the Lord never left me, and was faithful to show me His nearness every step of the journey, (and still is doing so), I know that He remains present in our current circumstances and is walking us through the valleys so that we may reach the other side of this seemingly sordid space. God is faithful, even in our most difficult seasons. To honestly look at this current season, I cannot say it is all bad. More time with my boys is an absolutely gift, and the time to get a puppy and be present to bond and train him is blessing as well. Though we cannot predict or know how God will move and work in all things, we can be certain that He will move and He will work all things for good for those who love Him.

 

Though we do not know, Beautiful Unknown

All that lies in wait;

Nor why things take place,

The next that awaits.

For God’s ways are not,

The same as our own;

Unpredictable,

Beautiful unknown.

Though sometimes scary,

And not understood;

God’s ever working,

For ultimate good.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the certainty of You, when everything else around us is uncertain. Thank You that though we cannot possibly know and understand all of Your ways, we can know Your heart and Your character; that You work all things out for the good of those who love You. Forgive us for our fear and doubt when we cannot figure out how things could possibly change, or find ourselves frustrated with timelines that do not align with our own. Teach us to trust Your ways and Your timing in all things. Show us how to love those around us in the waiting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to bring good through all things. Amen.

 

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

 

“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 a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11