The Mountains We Are Called to Climb

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights. – (Habakkuk 3:19, NIV)

The Lord gives me my strength. He helps me run fast like a deer. He leads me safely on the mountains. – (Habakkuk 3:19, ERV)

The Lord God is my strength; He will give me the speed of a deer and bring me safely over the mountains. – (Habakkuk 3:19, TLB)

 

Each translation of this verse speaks to my heart on a different level to encourage and reassure, reminding me of God’s faithfulness forever. Yesterday, was a powerful and uplifting boost for both mom and me. We each were blessed with a visit from our besties. Incredibly, I was able to coordinate with both ladies, a visit at the same time, so that each of us could benefit from the boost that a best friend visit brings. While mom and June were talking and laughing, Robin and I stole away for a walk-and-talk. For me, this was two-fold, as I am a creature who needs to get outside and move, and I was desperately needing time to connect and process with my bestie. Walking and talking in this gorgeous setting fulfilled both needs, and strengthened my soul. Interestingly, as we walked, we were joined by a sweet pup, who clearly was in need of companionship to enjoy a wander as well. Our escort dog acted a bit as a guardian, as she would run ahead, seemingly check out the area, and then return to us, as if to say that all was safe for us to continue on. We actually wondered if she was part deer or mountain goat, as the sweet pup was extraordinarily sure-footed on the hillside and steep terrain that surrounded us. As I pondered the verse above, there are so many parallels between this road we are “walking” and how God works to keep our footing secure and give us strength. Though it is clear that mom’s journey to recovery and rehabilitation after the stroke is similar to climbing a mountain, she also lives in a home, nestled in the foothills. Safety is paramount along this journey, and God has been faithful to continue to protect and strengthen us each as we travel this unknown path. Our day ended early yesterday, as both mom and I fell asleep in the comfy living room chairs, as we attempted to watch a movie. We determined that she ought to watch in her bed instead, as I finished up a quick load of laundry and took care of my phone calls home. We both slept well, with a two-hour stretch, followed by a five-hour stretch, from which she is sleeping still. God is good, as He grants us strength and makes our footing secure on this mountain to which we have been called to climb.

 

The Lord is our strength,img_20190607_161828_5992541206184016162390.jpg

Makes our path secure;

Enables our feet,

To tread without fear.

He brings us safely,

To the other side;

Where pastures are green,

And rivers run wide.

All that we shall need,

The Lord does supply;

We simply need trust,

On God, choose rely.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not leave us when we reach mountains that we are meant to climb. Thank You that You are the One who provides all of the gear, the guidance, the strength and security we need to safely travel the path You provide. Forgive us for the times that we only see a sheer face, rather than the path and provisions that You supply to make the difficult possible. Teach us to trust You more; for when we pause and look back from when we have come, we are able to marvel at the view. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages, strengthens and comes alongside those around us in a way that helps each person persevere on the path You have placed before them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength and security as we climb life’s mountains with You. Amen.

 

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

 

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – Psalm 119:105

Praises Rise in Trust

In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? – (Psalm 56:4, NIV)

I trust God, so I am not afraid of what people can do to me! I praise God for His promise to me. – (Psalm 56:4, ERV)

What harm could a man bring to me? With God on my side I will not be afraid of what comes. The roaring praises of God fill my heart, and I will always triumph as I trust His promises. – (Psalm 56:4, TPT)

 

As I sat at the kitchen table and watched the sun rise over the hills that surround us, I pondered the application of this verse. It goes far beyond “what can mere mortals do to me,” and really leaves us with our own space for filling in the blank. What can sickness, disease, fear, unknown, heartache, disappointment, obstacles, strokes, etc., do to me with God on my side? God is greater. I must allow His praises to fill my heart so that I allow trust to fill me, for His promises are “yes” and “amen”. He is good and His word endures forever. No mountain is too high, nor a valley too low, that His hand cannot reach to rescue, and hold us up.

Yesterday, there was a space of uncertainty as we navigated our first full day home with mom. After a bit of a startling beginning, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, we smoothed out the wrinkles a bit and began to learn a new sort of normal in her space. We knew we wanted to get mom outside, and Meg had work that had to be done. Mom was easily convinced to “supervise” me pulling weeds and shaping shrubs in the backyard from the deck, as I have limited experience in the finer art of gardening. (I was the heavy-hitting job girl growing up, as I preferred to mow the lawn and continued that track into adulthood) Any way, mom was an excellent tutor, patiently pointing out what were weeds and what were not, as I pulled and dug and collected and shaped. She was all smiles as she soaked in the warm rays of the morning sunshine and breathed in the familiar fresh air. A short while after lunch, mom had a follow up appointment with her new primary care physician. We had to make a change, as she needed a physician who specializes in working with stroke patients. This was a nervous unknown, and we were a little leery of the new. Her fabulous new physician set us all at ease from the moment she walked in. It was clear from the start that her purpose and intent for mom is the same as ours, and she got to work orchestrating all of the necessary hoop jumping and paperwork to set mom’s in-home care and therapies in motion. The appointment was not drawn out, but thorough enough to make sure that every question was answered, and we all left feeling as if we could breathe a bit more easily. We detoured to the grocery store on the way home so that one of us could run in for a few things for dinner, while the other of us waited in the car with mom. This time, Meg went in and I waited. Mom was exhausted after all of the anticipation, transportation, transfers and the new. By the time we arrived home, she was ready for a rest. We shared a wonderful dinner together, followed by a sweet movie before we all retired for the night.

Praises rise as we continue to trust, regardless of the unknown that lies ahead.

 

It is in the Lord, 0530190535_hdr7684487105677418242.jpg

Whose word I will praise;

Who I choose to trust,

And not be afraid.

No person or thing,

That comes against me; 

Is greater than God,

For in Him, I’m free.

Each new day I’ll choose,

Place all in His hands;

Trust Him to be God,

And His righteous plan.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness, even when we feel fearful. Thank You that Your goodness and love know no end. Forgive us for fearing anything that stands before us that seems beyond our own abilities. Teach us to trust You more, as the end of our own strength is the very space where Yours begins. Show us how to love those around us in ways that exhibit Your faithfulness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You and give praise to You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Those who know Your Name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. – Psalm 9:10

A Silent Saturday

Pilate was surprised to hear that He was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. – (Mark 15:44-46, NIV)

 

After the devastation of the cross, a faithful few prepared Jesus’ body and buried Him in a tomb. By sun up, it would be the Sabbath, and no one would be going anywhere or doing anything. The disciples and other followers of Jesus likely spent the day in mourning. Meanwhile, the chief priests and the Pharisees were not at all at ease. They went to Pilate because they recalled the words of Jesus, and clearly had concerns about what might transpire in the coming days.

 

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So, give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” – (Matthew 27:63-64, NIV)

 

Consequently, Pilate ordered his guards to make the tomb secure and to stand guard at the tomb. That Saturday, all seemed to be silent. Jewish law kept mourners from moving about and doing much of anything, and I imagine that each of the faithful followers of Jesus retreated to their own homes and pondered all that had transpired in the previous twenty-four hours. It is as if the world stopped spinning, and all were stuck in a silent space of grief and disbelief. For me, knowing the whole story, I am in a space between awe and agony at the weight of all that Jesus bore on my behalf, and the anticipation of celebration, knowing that He conquered death and rose again the very next day.  Today is a space of waiting. Silent reflection and appreciation are what flood my heart and mind. I mourn my own sinfulness, yet overflow with gratitude for the salvation that is granted because He bore it all for me. May we each find our own quiet moments to reflect on the magnitude of what our Maker did for us all as we stay in this space of sacred silence.

 

This day of waiting, A SIlent Saturday

Sabbath long ago;

The Savior, buried,

Seemed hope’s final blow.

The world lay silent,

The Savior was dead;

Where were they to go,

What could have been said?

Silent reflection,

Such grief on that day;

What could have been done,

Unrealized grace.

O painful waiting,

To go to the tomb;

Observe in anguish,

Savior’s seeming doom.

The stillness gave way,

For we know the end;

Death could not hold Him,

As He rose again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your one and only Son to make the way for us to be restored unto You. Thank You Jesus, for bearing the weight of all of our sin upon Yourself; for we are the ones deserving sanctions of suffering, not You. Forgive us for not fully embracing the weight of what You have done for us, or for questioning whether or not Your sacrifice truly covered it all. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive the mercy and grace provided at the cross, and demonstrate our gratitude by living a life that ever seeks Your will. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes the promise that joy comes in the morning no matter how dark the night appears, evident. May many come to embrace the grace that You made possible through Your death and resurrection on this holy weekend so long ago. Be glorified O God, as we set our hearts in silent reflection over all that You did to make us acceptable in Your sight. Amen.

 

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

 

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. – John 16:22

The Light Has Come

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, NIV) 

This will happen when the special child is born. God will give us a son who will be responsible for leading the people. His name will be Wonderful Counselor, Powerful God, Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, ERV) 

Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams, a child is born, sweet-breathed; a son is given to us: a living gift. And even now, with tiny features and dewy hair, He is great. The power of leadership, and the weight of authority, will rest on His shoulders. His name? His name we’ll know in many ways – He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing, Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace. – (Isaiah 9:6, VOICE) 

 

This declaration in Isaiah occurred centuries prior to Christ’s arrival. God’s faithful followers were quite familiar with this passage, as they understood that one day, the Christ would come. Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds all knew that this was to come to pass, and suddenly, here they were, in the midst of God’s promised miracle. No wonder Mary pondered these things and treasured them in her heart, and likewise, it is no surprise that the shepherds were overwhelmed with praise for the newborn King. All that they had been waiting for was unfolding before them.  What a wonder to behold! Today, we are equally blessed to be the bearers of this news. For the baby that was so long promised, came, grew, and made the way for us to know Him, leading us to a place of knowing the Prince of Peace for ourselves. Throughout time, Christ has shown himself in each of the roles, again and again. He is the Wonderful Counselor who is faithful to lead us and guide us; Powerful God, greater than any circumstance we may face; Everlasting Father, who is the same yesterday, today and forever; and the Prince of Peace, who reminds us that He is present in powerful ways, as He came to be the Light of the world. May we all find a quiet moment to reflect on how our Heavenly Father has fulfilled all of these roles in our lives this year, and look forward in faith, knowing that He will remain present as we walk forward without fear of the future – for God with us, shall endure forever. 

 

The Light of the world, The Hope of the World

Most surely has come; 

Born in a stable, 

Omnipotent One. 

Though but a baby, 

The Savior, He grew; 

To bless with new life, 

Both for me and you. 

Our great Counselor, 

Most Powerful One; 

Who reigns forever, 

The Lord’s only Son. 

Now and for always, 

The great Prince of Peace; 

The Light of the world, 

Whose reign will not cease. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your one and only Son to us, so that we could be restored to right relationship with You. Thank You that You are our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and our Prince of Peace. Forgive us for not recognizing the remarkable roles that You are willing and available to fill for all who seek You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would allow You reign in our hearts and lives forever. Show us how love those around us in a way that illuminates darkness with the hope and help of Your holy light. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your power and Your perfect peace. Amen.

 

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

 

Wile I am in the world, I am the light of the world. – John 9:5

Ponder the Treasure

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

Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. – (Luke 2:19, ERV)

Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. – (Luke 2:19, CEB)

Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, VOICE)

 

The chain of events leading to and surrounding the birth of Jesus, must have been more than enough to keep Mary’s mind on constant overload. Angelic visits and prophecies, miraculous pregnancies, having to travel by donkey in the desert, arriving only to be turned away at all of the possible places to stay, giving birth in a stable, having shepherds show up… Mary was now mother to the Son of God. I imagine she vacillated back and forth between bewilderment and amazement at the role that she had been called to fill. Her faithfulness and trust in God was apparent, as she said “yes” to that which she had been called to do by God. Each of these events to treasure, were likely the things that gave her courage and strength in times of uncertainty as Jesus grew. Today, as many of us participate in candlelight services, may we ponder all of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, and treasure them in our hearts, so that we too, will find courage and strength in times of uncertainty.

 

Joining to gather, Ponder the Treasure

In candlelight glow;

Sing of our Savior,

Arrival we know.

Born in a stable,

Such a humble birth;

Path for us to know,

The depth of our worth.

For God sent His Son,

To show love to all;

Let us each embrace,

Grace to which we’re called.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us how to stop in awe and wonder of all that took place surrounding the birth of Jesus through the example of Mary. Thank You that You did not call the equipped, but rather You equipped the called. Thank You that You used ordinary people to do the extraordinary to change the course of history forever; a young girl, a carpenter, some shepherds, an inn keeper with a bit of compassion – each with a role that led us to why we celebrate this most holy season. Forgive us for breezing through the day as if it is just another holiday. Teach us to stop and ponder the magnitude of what You have done for us, so that we will treasure it all in our hearts. Show us how to love those around us with a love that is tangible and worth treasuring. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they are introduced or reminded of Who You are and all that You have done through the glorious gift of Your Son. Be glorified O God, as we ponder and treasure the reason for the season. Amen.

 

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

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

 

 

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

Thankfulness As A Sacrifice

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. – (Psalm 50:14, NLT)

Set out a sacrifice I can accept; your thankfulness. Be true to your word to the Most High. – (Psalm 50:14, Voice)

At first glance, I wondered how thankfulness would be considered a sacrifice before God, however, when I pondered the passage for a moment, I recognized that the reality in the midst of struggles and suffering is that we must sacrifice some of ourselves (our desire to complain, whine, or wallow) in order to have a thankful heart before the Lord. Additionally, when we present promises to God, He expects us to keep them. None of this is possible in our own strength, yet with Christ in us, we can make thankfulness our sacrifice to God, and be true to the words we commit unto the Lord. May we give up our desire to identify the things that go wrong, and instead sacrifice our self-focus for a God-focus, giving Him all of our thanks and praise. Let us be true to our word to the Lord Most High, as it is by Him and through Him that all moments are measured.

Let a thankful heart,Tether Our Hearts

be our sacrifice;

before the Lord God,

as He paid the price.

For every sin,

has been washed away;

so that we can stand,

and walk in His way.

May we keep the vows,

promises to God;

let’s give our whole heart,

not just a facade.

No matter what comes,

be trial or grace;

may thanks fill our hearts,

and from our lips, praise.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You receive our thankfulness as a sacrifice before You, and that You are pleased when we are true to our word unto You. Forgive us for not making thankfulness our sacrifice before You, or for not keeping the promises that we have made to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have hearts that are filled to overflowing with gratitude for who You are and all that You have done, as well as an unwillingness to waiver from our word unto You. Show us how to love others from a position of thankfulness, so that they too may see Your goodness through our gratitude. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we make thankfulness our sacrifice before You, and keep our promises that we make to You. Amen.

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Encourage with His Sweet Songs

Encourage each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord. – (Ephesians 5:19, ERV)

Music is a miraculous gift that breaks down even the bulkiest of barriers. Though there is always music in my day while I travel from place to place in my car, it has been largely absent in my regular routine. About a week ago, on my way into Fred Meyer to buy groceries, something made me take pause at the small display outside of the electronics section. There before me, were small blue tooth speakers that were affordably priced. As I pondered the prices and products, the sales associate wandered my direction. He had helpful suggestions, and I decided to go ahead and make a reasonable purchase, as I had no other source to play music out loud in my home for myself, other than my phone.

Since that day, I have utilized this fantastic little speaker to blare worship music while I prepare for my day. It is remarkable how much better equipped I feel when I have been singing along with reckless abandon, and soaking in the sweet sound that floods my space as I ready myself for what lies ahead.

Interestingly enough, the first portion of the verse has also come to fruition over this week as well. A friend and I have been sending one another links back and forth for our favorite or most encouraging worship songs. It has been such a sweet exchange to be reminded of lyrics long forgotten, that speak truth that my heart needed to hear. My hope is that the same has held true for her. May we find ways to encourage one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs as we go about our day, and may we allow our hearts to sing and make music unto the Lord.

Encourage with songs,

Kari Jobe  - Click to listen to I Am Not Alone.

Kari Jobe – Click to listen to I Am Not Alone.

as the tunes give rise;

for spirits shall soar,

with truth, come alive.

Sing and make music,

from our hearts to His;

may we choose make known,

how worthy He is.

Share of psalms and hymns,

that speak what is true;

so hurting hearts hear,

Who will make them new.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us the gifts of Your word, music, and the ability to combine the two. Thank You for Your sweet presence that is made tangible when we choose to worship. Forgive us for neglecting the need within us to sing and make music in our hearts unto You, and the call to encourage others with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Thank You for showing me a new way that this can be done, practically. TeachJust Be Held us to trust You more, so that we would set aside the stuff that weighs us down and choose to allow our hearts to soar in song before You. Lead us to love and encourage others with Your words that meet them where they are and speak to their heart in a way that only You can do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we encourage each other with songs that reflect Your truth, and as we sing and make music in our hearts unto You. Amen.

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

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

A few more favorites:

Casting Crowns – Just Be Held

Amanda Cook & Bethel Music – You Make Me Brave