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

Fear is a Liar

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. – (Proverbs 29:25, NIV)

Fear can be a trap, but if you trust in the Lord, you will be safe. – (Proverbs 29:25, ERV)

The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that. – (Proverbs 29:25, MSG)

Fear is a liar. It creeps in and tells us that we are not enough, and that we will never accomplish what we have been called and created to do. When we choose to trust in the Lord, we discover peace, provision and safety. The things that once brought fear can become sources of joy. In Him, we need not be afraid, but rather we can move confidently forward in all that He calls us to do and become. May we choose to listen to the voice of truth, and allow Him to show us how to overcome fears and persevere.

Choose let not the fear,

Of people and things;

Keep us from doing,

What is our calling.

Instead trust the Lord,

Who arms and protects;

Equips success,

As He knows what’s best.

Rise up in freedom,

Choose His strength and song;

Keep pressing forward,

In Christ, carry on.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not fear people and their opinions, but rather we need to trust in You. Thank You that we have been created and called with purpose. Forgive us for allowing the opinions of others to give fear a foothold. Show us how to listen to Your voice and trust in the truth of Your word. Teach us to love those around us in a way that encourages trust and chases away fear so that all might persevere. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the truth of who You are and silence the fears that are not founded in truth. Amen.

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

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? – Psalm 118:6

His Handiwork

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 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 already planned for us to do. – (Ephesians 2:10, ERV)

We have become His poetry, a re-created people that will fulfill the destiny He has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it! – (Ephesians 2:10, TPT)

If we actually saw others and ourselves as God’s poetry, imagine the lines and stanzas that would become reality. He intentionally created each of us with a plan and a purpose, but also He gave us a free will. All were created to love God and love people in a unique way with specific gifts and talents that were hand-crafted and intentionally designed within us. It is up to us to explore, discover and develop what has been given and how to best utilize all for His glory. It sounds like a lofty call, but the root of it all is to love Him and love those around us. As we do, we naturally utilize what we have and who we are, to do just that. May we ever seek the Lord and His lavish love to lead us each day in the direction to which He is calling, and to equip us to love as He loves.

Each person a line,

Encounters a verse;

When His love abounds,

Great poems emerge.

May we seek the Lord,

To show us the way;

Live out our purpose,

As we rise each day.

Lead us in love, Lord,

All glory to You;

As we walk Your path,

And love as You do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that each of us are Your handiwork, created with a plan and a purpose. Forgive us for the times that we stray from the path You have set before us, or choose not to be who You have created us to become. Teach us to trust Your leading so that we might love as You intended. Show us how to love those around us best and to become the people that we were created to be. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to live out our days as Your handiwork that sees others as the same. Amen.

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

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that He has chosen you. – 1 Thessalonians 1:4

Accept Each Other

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. – (Romans 15:7, NIV)

Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other. This will bring honor to God. – (Romans 15:7, ERV)

You will bring God glory when you accept and welcome one another as partners, just as the Anointed One has fully accepted you and received you as His partner. – (Romans 15:7, TPT)

To love one another, we must accept one another, flaws and all. There will never be another human that is perfect in every way. We are all a work in progress. God calls us to love and acceptance, which means that we recognize and value others for who they are. When we see, know and accept one another, we recognize the strengths that others possess and can celebrate the gift that they are to us. Though not all whom we encounter will become our closest friends, we can still accept one another and extend kindness, just as Jesus has done for us. As we do, Christ’s love is made evident and His peace permeates the spaces we are in. May we ever seek to accept one another as Christ accepts us, just as we are, no matter what shape we are in.

Lord, show us the way,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

To extend love true;

Accept each other,

Value through and through.

For love’s clearly shown,

As hearts are received;

With kind acceptance,

Extensions of peace.

Lead us Lord Jesus,

To love as You do;

So all feel valued,

As Your heart shines through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first accepted and loved us so that we might go forth and do the same. Thank You that as we seek to see others through Your eyes, we begin to understand the treasure that each person is to You. Forgive us for every time that our words, thoughts or deeds have not clearly reflected Your love and acceptance to those around us. Teach us how to love and accept one another as You do. Show us how to meet each person where they are at and see the strengths that You have placed in them with purpose. Lead us to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to accept and love all whom You place on our path. Amen.

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

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2

Rejoice in the Rain

…Rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the autumn rains because He is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains as before. – (Joel 2:23, NIV)

…Be joyful in the Lord your God. He is good and will give you rain. He will send the early rains and the late rains as before. – (Joel 2:23, ERV)

…Shout with joy and happiness in the Eternal, your God; the drought is over; He has sent the early autumn rain as a sign of His faithfulness. He has poured down heavy rain, autumn and spring as before. – (Joel 2:23, VOICE)

After a blustery weekend, it is good to be reminded that the rains are actually evidence of God’s faithfulness. I know in our area, the rains were needed as our reservoirs have dropped quite low after an unusually warm and dry summer. Though I prefer sunny days, it is good to see the grass turning green again as the leaves show off their lovely fall transformation. So often what we need is not necessarily what we think we want. However, God knows. He has His very best in mind for us. Often our circumstances, schedules and pauses are exactly what we need to grow and thrive as He intended. May we ever embrace the rains that come, and rejoice in the faithfulness of our Heavenly Father.

May we choose rejoice,

No matter what comes;

For after the rain,

Again comes the sun.

All has a purpose,

To nourish and grow;

God shows faithfulness,

Makes His goodness known.

In rainy seasons,

Choose soak in His love;

He replenishes,

Leads our hearts above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You bring various seasons to nourish and soften the soil of our hearts. Thank You that all can be used for good as we place it in Your hands. Forgive us for our frustration and grumbling with the seemingly dreary days. Show us the beauty that comes from the darker days. Lead us to love those around us well, so that the goodness of Your love is evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise Your for the growth and new life that comes from the rainy days and for the strength and new growth that You place in us. Amen.

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

Rejoice always. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16

The Weight of Loss

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word. – (Psalm 119:28, NIV)

I am sad and tired. Say the word, and make me strong again. – (Psalm 119:28, ERV)

I weep with grief; my heart is heavy with sorrow; encourage and cheer me with Your words. – (Psalm 119:28, TLB)

Loss is heavy, and when it is seemingly out of the blue, it is even heavier. Yesterday, as our professional development day was about to begin, I received news that a dear friend and fellow coach in our league had died. The thing is, she, her twin sister, and several others of us, all grew up doing gymnastics together. A few evenings each week, we would learn, grow, laugh, and be challenged together. As adults, our paths began to intersect again through the world of coaching. Just last spring, we had several of our meets together, so we had enjoyed some quality catch up time. Hearing the news of her death hit hard. She was life and love, joy and kindness to all whom she encountered, and had a way of drawing everyone in with her infectious laughter. As a twin mom, my heart is extra heavy for her twin, as I know the incredible bond that twins have. I can’t help but feel weary from the weight of the loss, yet must cling to the hope that we will see one another again. Her love for the Lord was clear, and she never minced words when speaking the truth in love. To know her was to love her, and I cannot fully wrap my head around her passing. My prayer is that God will be our comfort, especially for her amazing twin sister. May we love a little harder, and be a bit kinder in honor of one who lived love out loud.

You were light and life,

Truth speaker with joy;

Contagious laughter,

Wisdom, loving voice.

Each life that you touched,

Made better by you;

Loved and encouraged,

Your faith proven true.

Lord, be our comfort,

As in loss, we grieve;

Renew our resolve,

To trust and believe.

The comfort I know,

Is found in the space;

Picturing entry,

As Your arms embrace.

Dear Heavenly Father, I cannot even begin to pretend I understand why such an incredible life was cut short, yet I know that she lived out each day with purpose and love. Thank You for the gift of knowing Kimmie, and for the imprint that she forever left on my heart. Hold us up in the weight of the heaviness of loss. Forgive us for allowing opportunities to love pass us by. Show us how to live and love each day, so that no matter how many days we are given, each and every one of them counts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, for You are where true hope and comfort are found. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to live out each day with the purpose You intended, and give You thanks for the incredible gift that You gave us in our friend. Amen.

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

You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me. – Jeremiah 8:18

Tend Well the Temple

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, NIV)

With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, MSG)

Beloved ones, with promises like these, and because of our deepest respect and worship of God, we must remove everything that contaminates body and spirit, and continue to complete the development of holiness within us. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, TPT)

It is the love and faithfulness of God that ought to compel us to treat our minds and bodies and His temple. When we love God and invite Him into our lives, He is present with each thing that we take in, be it exposure, what we eat, and how we care for what we have been given. That reminder alone inspires me to care well for my body and to use caution with the things to which I choose to expose my heart and mind. God has made me a very visual creature, so I know that I cannot watch anything that I don’t want to live over and over again. Rather than a filter, my mind is more like a recorder that can get stuck on repeat when exposed to graphic violence and gore. Because of this, I will not and cannot watch violent shows, games, etc. Rather, I am intentional to begin each day with Him and focusing on His word, so that my heart and mind are equipped with His goodness and love. We are all a work in progress. It is an ongoing labor of love throughout our lives, not just a quick fix for the here and now. The healthier and stronger our bodies and minds are, the better equipped we are to walk out our purpose. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to tend well the temples that we have been given.

Lord, help us to care,

For body and mind;

Tend well the temple,

For Your love is kind.

Inspire us to move,

Be healthy and strong;

Cautious exposure,

Throughout each day long.

Show us what is good,

To listen in love;

So we are ready,

To serve You above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You dwell within us when we invite You. Thank You that You call us to tend our temples well, so that we are best equipped to honor, love and serve You. Forgive us for the times that we either neglect to care for our bodies, or expose our minds and hearts to things that do not glorify You. Teach us to ever seek to honor You through the care of our body and mind. Show us how to love those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to tend the temple we have been given in a way that honors You. Amen.

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

And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you. – Romans 8:11

Intentionally

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – He remains faithful forever. – (Psalm 146:6, NIV)

He made the heavens and earth. He made the sea and everything in it. He can be trusted to do what He says. – (Psalm 146:6, ERV)

You keep all Your promises. You are the Creator of heaven’s glory, earth’s grandeur, and the ocean’s greatness. – (Psalm 146:6, TPT)

There is nothing quite like being near the ocean for me. Each time I draw near to the salt air, hear the crashing waves, and sink my toes into the sand, peace surrounds me and I am reminded of the powerful love of the One who made it all. Just as we can watch and count on the waves to continue meeting the shore, so too, we can depend on the Lord to be present and faithful forever. I find myself especially aware of God’s faithfulness as I am blessed with a weekend away in my favorite coastal town with my love. It is such a blessing to share the place I love with the one I love. Each wave that meets the shore reminds me that God is present and powerful, and that His love is never ending. May we each take time to observe the incredible beauty around us that is the work of His hands, and recognize the eternal faithfulness found in the One who made it all.

Faithful forever,

Creator of all;

The glory that’s seen,

His hands made it all.

Each great ocean wave,

The gorgeous blue sky;

The sand that warms toes,

Beauty can’t be denied.

The very same hands,

That formed such beauty;

Designed each of us,

Intentionally.

Forever faithful,

The Lord God above;

As He reminds us,

Of unending love.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You, who created all of the beauty that our eyes can see, also created each of us with a plan and a purpose. Thank You that Your faithfulness never ends. Forgive us for losing sight of Your faithfulness and love as we navigate all that comes our way. Teach us to trust in You, for You love us and never leave us. Show us how to appreciate all that Your hands have made, so that we may love those around us in the same ways that You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your unfailing love and praise You for all that Your hands have made. Amen.

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

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

Strength and Secure Path

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – (Psalm 18:32, NIV)

God is the one who gives me strength. He clears the path I need to take. – (Psalm 18:32, ERV)

The true God who encircled me with strength and made my pathway straight. – (Psalm 18:32, VOICE)

God has created each of us with purpose and intention. I never cease to be amazed at what the human body can do. He grants us strength to move and guides and protects us as we go. As I find myself a week away from a major milestone birthday, I cannot help but stand in awe of the strength and safety that God has granted me. I love to be outdoors and moving, and He has empowered me with a strong healthy body that is able to run, hike, walk, bike and tackle whatever other physical challenge that is set before me. Each moment I am moving outdoors I am acutely aware of God and His goodness. May we ever recognize the strength and protection that are provided by God and give Him thanks for all that He does.

The God of all grace,

Grants us strength within;

Makes straight our pathways,

As we let Him in.

Equipped with mercy,

Empowered by grace;

All that is needed,

To run well our race.

Keep pressing forward,

And trusting in Him;

In Him we are strong,

To rise and begin.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us strength and protection as we move forward in You. Thank You that You have created such beauty all around us to enjoy. Forgive us for taking even one moment of our ability to get out and enjoy it for granted. Teach us to praise and appreciate You in all things. Show us how to love those around us best, as we do the things You created us to do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we move in the strength that You provide and trust in You goodness to guide us safely. Amen.

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

The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. – Exodus 15:2

Peace Makes a Way

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – (Colossians 3:15, NIV)

Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking. It is for peace that you were chosen to be together in one body. And always be thankful. – (Colossians 3:15, ERV)

Let your heart be always guided by the peace of the Anointed One, who called you to peace as part of His one body. And always be thankful. – (Colossians 3:15, TPT)

When we allow the peace of Christ to come and dwell within us, we are equipped and empowered to be promoters of peace to those around us. It is by God’s grace that we are placed exactly where we are for this very season, and it is out of a heart of gratitude that we discover His peace and purpose for us. I had mixed feelings as I left campus yesterday. It was the last day of a long and challenging year, and my class load for next year was shared with me. Though I was thrilled to know that I will have three sections of art, the two sections of 8th grade English grieved my heart a bit. The grieving is over the loss of working on a fabulous team with dear friends with a curriculum that I finally feel like I know, yet the two ladies that I will be teaming with next year are incredible, so I do look forward to getting to know them better. Peace was disrupted by the thought of yet again, having to learn an all new curriculum, causing me to feel like a brand new teacher. This is a space that I have to trust in God’s grace, and allow His peace to cover me. May we ever give thanks to God for His goodness and grace and allow the peace of God to fill us to overflowing, so that we may go forth and be promoters of peace.

O Lord, flood our hearts,

With Your perfect peace;

May all our concerns,

To You, be released.

As we choose let go,

You fill us with peace;

‘Til it overflows,

Anxieties cease.

All thanks unto You,

Throughout all our days;

Lead us in Your love,

As peace makes a way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You fill us with Your perfect peace so that we can go and bring peace to those around us. Thank You that Your grace covers us and Your love fills us. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed circumstances to steal the perfect peace You provide. Teach us to trust You with everything, for You are always faithful. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends Your peace to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You with our cares and concerns and rely on You to provide our perfect peace. Amen.

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

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13