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

Speaking With Grace

Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. – (Colossians 4:6, NIV)

When you talk, you should always be kind and wise. Then you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should. – (Colossians 4:6, ERV)

Let every word you speak be drenched with grace and tempered with truth and clarity. For then you will be prepared to give a respectful answer to anyone who asks about your faith. – (Colossians 4:6, TPT)

When the pressure feels great in every area of life, this is not the easiest thing to do. Grace is great, but there are moments and days that I have to refrain from speaking, as I know that what is churning in my heart and head is not gracious nor wise. This is a space where God’s grace is necessary to navigate well. On my own, I do not have the answers to much of anything. By His grace, words come when they are needed if I am tuned in and dependent on Him. This morning, I again turn in trust to the Lord to be the grace and truth and clarity that is a part of all that I say and do. May we ever seek Him to lead us and guide us with every word that leaves our lips.

Lord, grant me the words,

Of goodness and grace;

The words that bring life,

Throughout each new day.

When my heart’s heavy,

Please keep my mouth closed;

Let only kindness,

Words of love be told.

May Your heart be shown,

Through each word and deed;

As the light of grace,

And Your goodness lead.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to extend light and life through speaking with kindness and wisdom. Thank You that You willingly supply the words to speak when we are dependent on You. Forgive us for every thought, word and deed that was not gracious, loving or kind. Teach us to depend on You to provide the words when we are uncertain of what to say, and grant us wisdom to know when to speak and when to stay silent. Show us how to love those around us well, as we extend kindness, goodness and grace through our every word. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to speak the way You call us to communicate. Amen.

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

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14

Called to Compassion

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. – (Romans 12:15, NIV)

Celebrate with those who celebrate, and weep with those who grieve. – (Romans 12:15, TPT)

If some have cause to celebrate, join in the celebration. And if others are weeping, join in that as well. – (Romans 12:15, VOICE)

We are called to be compassionate and to have empathy for one another. This is natural with those with whom we are closest, but it requires an intentional decision to love enough to invest in the hearts of others. When we do, we understand and care about what transpires in the lives of those around us. A love that is true is one that celebrates with others when good comes their way, and mourns alongside them when losses are experienced. Such love not only asks how others are doing, but is prepared to receive honest answers through active and intentional listening. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us in compassion and empathy for those around us, so that we may truly love as we are called to love by God.

To love as God loves,

Requires intent;

To seek understand,

Purposeful time spent.

Called to compassion,

To walk alongside;

Love for the hurting,

With arms open wide.

And when there’s reason,

To rise and rejoice;

Shoulder to shoulder,

In praise, lift each voice.

Through ev’ry season,

Choose to truly love;

For that’s how others,

Know they are thought of.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to compassion and empathy for those around us. Thank You that You showed us through Your Son, what such love looks like. Jesus rejoiced with those who rejoiced, and wept with those in mourning. Forgive us for the times that we either ignored an opportunity to love well, or sought to help without truly responding in love. Show us how to celebrate with those who celebrate and to mourn with those who are grieving. Lead us to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your heart for those around us so that we may love like You. Amen.

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

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

Hope in the Waiting

It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how His body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. – (Luke 23:54-56, NIV)

It was late on Preparation Day. When the sun went down, the Sabbath day would begin. The women who had come from Galilee with Jesus followed Joseph. They saw the tomb. Inside they saw where he put Jesus’ body. Then they left to prepare some sweet-smelling spices to put on the body. On the Sabbath day they rested, as commanded in the Law of Moses. – (Luke 23:54-56, ERV)

It was Preparation Day – the day before the holy Sabbath – and it was about to begin at sundown. The women who had accompanied Jesus from the beginning in Galilee now came, took note of where the tomb was and how His body had been prepared, then left to prepare spices and ointments for His proper burial. They ceased their work on the Sabbath so they could rest as the Hebrew Scriptures required. – (Luke 23:54-56, VOICE)

When I ponder the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, I imagine a sense of mourning and anticipation. The women who had been with Jesus from the beginning, had just witnessed the death of their Savior. Rather than running off in their sorrow, they waited and watched to see what they might do next to honor Him. In anticipation, they followed Joseph, the upright man from the Council, who had gone to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body so that he might properly place Jesus in a tomb. When the ladies knew where Jesus was laid, they went home to prepare spices to give the Savior a proper burial. However, as soon as the sun went down it was the Sabbath, and the time of rest and waiting began. It is in that space of rest, that I cannot help but imagine what it all was like. Grief, anticipation, remembering… The women had walked beside Jesus and lived and learned what a sinless life could be, only to see it cut short by the cross. Despite their anguish, they arrived at the conclusion that there was purpose for them to fulfill. Preparation Day was full of preparing for so much more than they could have ever imagined. Today, this day between the crucifixion and the resurrection, we have time to purposefully ponder all that Jesus did for us. Our sin and shame were buried with Him in that tomb, waiting to burst forth with new life, intended for all. May we look to the cross with thanksgiving for all that was placed upon Him, and look ahead with anticipation, to all that tomorrow brings. New life and eternal hope are ours to behold, if only we seek the Savior.

His death on the cross,

And all they had seen;

Lost, seeking purpose,

What did it all mean?

The women in wait,

Watched, followed to see;

Where was their Savior,

What might the Lord need?

Laid in a new tomb,

His location known;

Christ’s body broken,

Somber and alone.

A day to prepare,

To honor the Lord;

They did what they knew,

All time would afford.

Then came the waiting,

Such sorrow unknown;

Grief and a purpose,

Their hope felt postponed.

Soon to discover,

All hope was not lost;

The Savior would rise,

From death on that cross.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to make the way for new life in us. Jesus, thank You that though we lose sight of hope in the waiting, it is simply a time to pause and anticipate the new that is coming. Forgive us for forgetting the power You have. The very One who defeated death is always working on our behalf, and will never leave us nor forsake us. Teach us to trust You more, even in the spaces that seem like we are waiting in darkness. Show us how to love those around us in such a way that hope may rise, even in the darkest tombs in our hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for how You endured the cross for our sake, and praise You for the power in You that overcame death to rise again. Amen.

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

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. – Psalm 27:14

Unchanging Goodness

But You remain the same, and Your years will never end. – (Psalm 102:27, NIV)

But You never change. You will live forever! – (Psalm 102:27, ERV)

But You are the same, You will never change; Your years will never come to an end. – (Psalm 102:27, VOICE)

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. The same God who led His people through the sea He parted to create a safe escape, is the same God who sent His one and only Son to redeem us from our sin. He sits on the throne and hears our cries, and loves us through all things. A place is prepared for all who trust in Him to be with Him forever. No matter what we face or have to endure, God remains faithful and present to see us through. Beyond what He has done and is doing, we have a hope for all eternity. May we navigate our days with the recognition of God’s presence, and the hope we have not just for today, but forever.

The Lord is so good,

He always remains;

Unchanging, the same,

As love He proclaims.

God always has been,

Forever He’ll be;

Our help and our hope,

Love eternally.

May we place our trust,

In the Lord who reigns;

Forever faithful,

Choose trust in His Name.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have always been, are now, and forever will be. Thank You that Your love and faithfulness knows no end. Forgive us for the times that we have lost sight of who You are and how Your presence and strength provide what we need to press on. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would keep our eyes on eternity with You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness and faithfulness evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithfulness and trust in Your goodness and love forever. Amen.

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

For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does. – Psalm 33:4

Seek Love that Lasts

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. – (Proverbs 31:30, NIV)

Charm can be deceptive and physical beauty will not last, but a woman who reveres the Eternal should be praised above all others. – (Proverbs 31:30, VOICE)

Charm can be misleading, and beauty is vain and so quickly fades, but this virtuous woman lives in the wonder, awe, and fear of the Lord. She will be praised throughout eternity. – (Proverbs 31:30, TPT)

 

Fear of the Lord is a healthy reverence for who He is. It is not the sort of fear that causes us to cower in a corner because there is a lack of love, but rather it is a respect that is filled with awe for who God is and the incredible power He holds in His hands. When we operate our lives in wonder and awe, this healthy fear of the Lord, we begin to love God and love people in the ways that we are called to love. *Charm, or the power of pleasing or attracting through personality or beauty, is not love. (*dictionary.com) Love is a decision that chooses to speak truth, rather than seeks to please, and though love is attractive, it is not given selfishly with the hope of something in return, but rather, it is a pure intention to give of ourselves freely, as we are loved by God. Beauty is an interesting attribute as well, as what one eye perceives as beautiful, another finds ordinary. However, those with beautiful hearts are most often remembered as beautiful. So often, the more I know the heart of someone, the more beautiful they become in my eyes. Physical beauty fades, but beauty of the heart continues to grow as we walk more closely with the Lord. The to be praised portion of this verse reminds me that there are eternal benefits to loving God and loving people. Great is our reward when all is said and done. He blesses us here, but has prepared so much more for us when our time on earth is through. It all points back to loving God and loving people. May we be filled with awe and reverence for the Lord who loves us with an everlasting love, and go forth and love others with a love that is pure and selfless and otherly, exactly as love was designed.

 

Be not deceived, Seek Love that Lasts

By beauty or charm;

Seek love that lasts,

And does not do harm.

With reverence,

Stand in awe of God;

All love’s from Him,

For now and beyond.

Rise up and choose,

To love as we’re called;

God and people,

By grace, love for all.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are what lasts. Thank You that as we invest in relationship with You, we come to know and understand love as You intended it to be. Thank You that as we choose to walk forward in the love You call us to, You show us the goodness that is for now and all that is yet to come. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked reverence for You or love for others. Teach us to live out each day in love, according to Your perfect plan. Show us how to love others well, so that they may know the depth and breadth of love found in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love You and love people well. Amen.

 

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

 

But the eyes of the Lord are on all those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love. – Psalm 33:18

To Wait and See

Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:28-32, NIV)

Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God: “Now, Lord, You can let me, Your servant, die in peace as You said. I have seen with my own eyes how You will save Your people. Now all people can see Your plan. He is a light to show Your way to the other nations. And He will bring honor to Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:28-32, ERV)

Simeon took Jesus into his arms and blessed God. Simeon: Now, Lord and King, You can let me, Your humble servant, die in peace. You promised me that I would see with my own eyes what I’m seeing now: Your freedom, raised up in the presence of all peoples. He is the light who reveals Your message to the other nations, and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel. – (Luke 2:28-32, VOICE)

 

After closely reading this passage several times in the various translations, I am quite curious to know more of Simeon’s story. Imagine receiving a promise from God that You would see, with your own eyes, the Savior of the world?! Additionally, based on the phrasing, I would venture to infer that Simeon had been holding fast to God’s promise for many years. My mind’s eye pictures a man of many years, as his words indicate that he is in the latter season of his life. One of the most incredible pieces to this story is that Simeon knew who Jesus was as he took Him into his arms to give God thanks. Did God give him divine insight, a word, a dream? Had the Lord foretold Simeon how Jesus’ coming would transpire, so that he would know the child as He was brought to the temple? Whatever the case may have been, Simeon knew, and he spoke it out before Mary and Joseph, granting them further insight into exactly who they would be raising as their son. As parents, there already is awe and wonder at the new life placed in our care. Imagine the whirlwind that likely filled their hearts as Mary and Joseph brought their baby boy to the temple and heard such incredible things about their son. A faith-filled blessing and an elated elderly man were likely the two things that the new parents would never forget about that time in the temple. That baby did grow and become the Light of the world and the way to salvation for all who choose believe. May we have a heart like Simeon as we recognize the powerful presence that came into the world that blessed holy night, so that we may all have life everlasting in Him.

 

Let’s look in wonder, Simeons Story

Reflect back in awe;

What God had promised,

Dear Simeon saw.

A heart that trusted,

What God had foretold;

Gifted the faithful,

In his arms to hold.

The Light of the world,

Promised Prince of Peace;

Messiah, Savior,

Salvation’s release.

What God promises,

Is truth that He keeps;

May we choose to trust,

Each word that He speaks.

Glory to the Lord,

From whom blessings flow;

All thanks unto Him,

As His love light shows.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessed gift of Your Son. Thank You Jesus, that You were willing to step down from Your heavenly throne and come into the world as an infant, so that You would know and understand intimately, the struggles we face; yet do so without sin so that You could offer salvation. Thank You for giving Your life so that we can have life everlasting with You. Forgive us for not making time to dig into Your word or ponder the truth that You speak to our hearts. Teach us to be intentional with our time. Show us how to live and love in a way that extends Your goodness and grace to all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to You and lean into Your word, giving You thanks for Your faithfulness forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Undeniably Good

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – (Psalm 34:8, NIV)

Give the Lord a chance to show you how good He is. Great blessings belong to those who depend on Him! – (Psalm 34:8, ERV)

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him. – (Psalm 34:8, MSG)

 

God is undeniably good. The last few weeks have been a bit overwhelming, yet each time I have gone to God to be my refuge and my strength, He has met me and carried me through. One of the most trying things for me as an educator, is being observed and evaluated. I am constantly evaluating what is going on in my classroom, seeking solutions to improve, yet somehow, the process of being observed always makes me feel like I cannot ever be or do enough. Anyway, yesterday was my first observation of the year. Though I was prepared and had given it to God each time anxiousness entered in, my nerves were still surging. My evaluator is kind and compassionate, and as much as it was possible, she did help set me a bit more at ease than I normally would have been. I survived, and the remainder of the day went quickly. More of God’s good was witnessed throughout the evening, as I partook in my first high school gymnastics meet as an assistant coach. The girls did well; supporting and encouraging one another with kindness and grace. In the end, my alma mater, where I coach, took first among the four schools in attendance. It was a sweet end, to a day that had once again shown me, just how good God truly is.

 

If you give God room, For God and His Grace

He’s faithful to show;

His goodness and grace,

Blessings to bestow.

Take refuge in Him,

For there we find rest;

Comfort and His peace,

As He loves us best.

So, choose taste and see,

That the Lord is good;

Faithful forever,

His love is assured.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can look, see and experience Your goodness when we run to You. Thank You that You are our refuge and our strength. Thank You that Your faithfulness knows no end. Thank You that You are loving and kind, and have our very best in mind. Forgive us for our fears and anxiousness with the things that we cannot control. Teach us to trust You more, as You go before us and remain with us, all the days of our lives. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your goodness and faithfulness in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we taste and see how good You are, and take refuge in You, our blessed Redeemer. Amen.

 

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

 

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds. – Psalm 73:28

Prepare

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, in which God prepared in advance for us to do. – (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)

God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would spend our lives doing the good things He had already planned for us to do. – (Ephesians 2:10, ERV)

For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago. – (Ephesians 2:10, VOICE)

 

As the calendar turns another page and we are now making our way into December, the word that keeps coming to my heart and mind, is “prepare”. I did a quick biblical word study, and discovered that the many mentions of preparing or preparation were for battles, arrivals, departures, deaths, feasts, sacrifices, celebrations and ceremonies. In each instance, those preparing were the ones whom had been called. The tenth verse of the second chapter of Ephesians, helps us recognize that we all have been called, created and prepared to do good works that God has planned for us. It is not difficult to find places where good is needed during this holy season, and we are each meant to step in and offer what we have to give – be it our time, our talents or our resources. Our heart is what requires preparation the most frequently, as the distractions all around us can dull our awareness to the places we have been prepared to extend good. May we slow down often in this sacred season, to prepare our hearts, so that we are ready and available to do the good things that God has for us to do.

 

This sacred season,Prepare

May we rise, prepare;

Set our hearts on good,

And how we can share.

For we’re created,

Each of us prepared;

With plan and purpose,

In God’s loving care.

Let us each choose seek,

So that we may find;

The good we can do,

In love for mankind.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in the same way You prepared each one of us with a plan and a purpose, may we too, prepare our hearts this season, to walk out the good that You have for us to give. Thank You that we all have something to offer, be it our time, talent or resources. Forgive us for the times that we think we have nothing to give, or we neglect to slow down and look for ways to extend Your heart to others in this sacred season. Teach us to take time to listen to Your leading, and to be willing to walk out whatever You ask of us. Show us how to love those around us in tangible and practical ways this season, that make Your goodness and grace evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we prepare our hearts in the same way that You prepared each of us, to do good and represent You well. Amen.

 

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

 

Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. – Psalm 25:4

Every New Step

I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. – (Philippians 4:13, NIV)

Christ is the one who gives me the strength I need to do whatever I must do. – (Philippians 4:13, ERV)

For I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power. – (Philippians 4:13, TLB)

 

Do you ever wake at the start of the week and wonder how you will get from the now to the close of the week? It is not a lack of faith thing, nor a whoa is me situation, but rather a recognition of the demands that lie before me, and the need for Christ to be present every step of the way. The week ahead is like that for me, particularly as I step into the new and unknown. I am excited and eager, yet uncertain of how all will unfold. God is good, as He grants me the strength to do the He is leading me to, and He makes plain the path that He has prepared in advance for me to walk. Today, I am trusting His strength for each next step as I navigate the new in this season.

Mom understands this far better than most, as she continues to trust in Christ and His strength each new day for every new step that she is to take on this road of healing and recovery. Each week, she is trying a bit more as she gets out of the house and engages in social activities with my sister and brother-in-love. More and more, there is a return to self, as Christ’s strength continues to grow and be made known in Mom.

 

The strength of the Lord, Strong Heart

Is present and free;

For all who choose seek,

He gives what we need.

All that the Lord asks,

We’re equipped to do;

His power and grace,

Ever see us through.

So, trust in the Lord,

Answer what He asks;

You’ll find you’ve the strength,

For every task.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us the strength and power to do all that You call us to do. Thank You that You have a perfect plan and purpose for each of us. Forgive us for our moments of being a bit overwhelmed by all that we see that lies ahead. Teach us to trust You more, as You are always faithful to go before us and walk beside us, every step of the way. Show us how to love those around us in ways that encourage, strengthen and empower each to do all that is asked of them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your power and strength to supply all that we need for each step we are meant to take of every day. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him. – Psalm 37:23