Prioritizing Peace and People

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. – (Romans 14:19, NIV)

So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. – (Romans 14:19, MSG)

So then, make it your top priority to live a life of peace with harmony in your relationships, eagerly seeking to strengthen and encourage one another. – (Romans 14:19, TPT)

 

On one hand, if I observe what is going on in our neighborhood, our schools, our community, our church, our city and beyond, I see much effort being set forth to encourage and strengthen one another. Cheerful greetings to neighbors when out for fresh air, kind words of encouragement for essential workers around town, breakfast and lunch provision for all students in our area, groceries provided by local churches and businesses to families in need, and an outpouring of support for the medical and emergency services community – these all are beautiful efforts to get along and help one another. However, if I turn on the news, I am bombarded with stories seemingly intent on division. Yes, it is important to remain informed, but perhaps small doses are best to avoid being zapped of our resolve to remain invested in doing good. No act of kindness is ever wasted. Though we may not see the results, we never know the impact a generous gesture, kind word, or simply a smile can have on a person. As so many of us are in positions of having to learn an entirely new way of doing our jobs, there are others that are grieving the loss of theirs, and still others who are essential and continue reporting to work as usual, though nothing is usual, all while kids attempt to do remote learning, parents attempt to monitor, help and teach, and everyone needs kindness and encouragement in the process. If we can get along and be at peace in the process, each will be able to successfully navigate their own new. Support and encouragement are beneficial to all, so perhaps we can each be extra generous with kindness in this season. May we make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification, so all may rise better than when we began.

 

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Encourage, lift up;

A blessing of peace,

Fills everyone’s cup.

No act of kindness,

Is ever for naught;

For love and goodness,

Sometimes need be taught.

Taught through our actions,

Not just spoken words;

It requires motion,

For love is a verb.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the ultimate provider of peace and encouragement in our lives. Thank You that as we seek You, You show us how to find peace in our relationships and how to best encourage and lift up those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to do the things that lead to or maintain peace, or have stayed silent when we were meant to encourage. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would pursue peace through You, and ever look for opportunities to encourage and strengthen those around us. Show us how to love others best, so that they may know Your perfect peace through encouragement and edification. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we make every effort to get along with others and to encourage and lift each other up. 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

How Long?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? – (Psalm 13:2a, NIV)

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

How much longer must I cling to this constant grief? I’ve endured this shaking of my soul. – (Psalm 13:2a, TPT)

My life’s strength melts away with grief and sadness; come and strengthen me and encourage me with Your words. – (Psalm 119:28, TPT)

 

I have set aside personal reflection for public view on the shift in schooling for quite some time, due largely in part to weight of my own sorrow. You see, not only is this the loss of concluding this school year with my students, but it is my own children’s senior year, and the second spring in a row that I have been absent from both. Last year, two weeks from now, our entire world came to a crashing halt. My mom suffered a massive stroke, and we were unsure of what the outcome would be. Immediately, my husband and I made the drive over the mountains to be with her, and I made arrangements to take a leave of absence to remain with mom, as Mark returned home to be with our kids. Mom is a fighter, and did remarkably well as my sister and I were able be with her around the clock, and after all of my years of teaching, I had plenty of leave to stay on through the majority of the remaining school year. Because mom was thriving and making gains, I did not give myself room to grieve. Now, nearly a year later, I am in an entirely different circumstance, yet in a similar space of loss. There have been moments of sorrow and grief, but I have given little time or space to ponder or process. Then, yesterday, as I returned to school for my designated twenty minutes to pick up any supplies I might need from my classroom, the weight of reality began to set in. Silent hallways and classrooms without kids running around, laughing, or talking to one another, left a hollow void in my heart.

My friend and colleague has a remarkable way with capturing in words, moments, so eloquently, and when I read what she posted on Facebook as a reflection of her twenty minutes in her classroom, I found myself fighting back the sting of tears. It took deep, intentional breaths to not fully succumb to the depth of sorrow I was feeling as I read what she had written. My own boys had been in her very first sixth grade class, and she recognized and grieved for those seniors too. There is just so much…

The beauty in the brokenness is that we are not stuck in it. God is faithful to pick us up, dust us off, and grant us fresh resolve. He does strengthen us, and today, my goal and focus is to be prepared for our launch of distance learning, come Monday morning. Additionally, today is my day to email a check-in to my art students, so that holds some hope and joy as well. In all things, God has a way of bringing beauty from ashes. I look forward to seeing how all of this season changes our neighborhood, schools, city, state, and nation for the better.

 

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That mirror my heart;

Loss of what should be,

This season apart.

Such sorrow in loss,

Of all that could be;

Lord help us rise up,

As Your hope sets free.

Even in losses,

You can bring gains;

Beauty from ashes,

For Your love remains.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hold us as we wrestle through our sorrow and heaviness, and You strengthen us with resolve once again. Thank You that You truly do bring beauty from ashes, and hope from despair. Forgive us for allow ourselves to sit in our sorrow too long, or for ignoring it and allowing the weight to burden us. Teach us to place all in Your hands, so that You can walk us through it into the good that You have in store for us. Show us how to love those around us well, even though we cannot see people the way we want to right now. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, and know the comfort and peace that You alone offer. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your comfort and strength in our sorrow, and anticipate the good that lies ahead. Amen.

 

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

 

“…He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.” – Isaiah 61:3

In Worrisome Space

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. – (1 Peter 5:7, NIV)

Give all your worries to Him, because He cares for you. – (1 Peter 5:7, ERV)

Let Him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you. – (1 Peter 5:7, TLB)

 

We are in a time that is full of uncertainty and unknowns. It is seemingly impossible to avoid “what if” scenarios, as a state of emergency has been declared by our governor, and the World Health Organization has deemed Covid-19 a pandemic. The weight and worry that I bear looks different than those who are living with compromised immune systems or are in households with young children or elderly, as their concerns are much more immediate and life-threatening. For others, it is more a matter of day-to-day living and the wonder as to how it will all work out. As an educator, there is much uncertainty as to when our schools will be closed, and for how long. In this space, my only real choice is to give all of my worries and uncertainties to God. He sees and knows, and He cares about all that concerns us. I know not why such a crazy crisis is taking place, yet I know it is an opportunity for people to rise up and love others well. Our charge is to love as we are loved. May we give all of our worries to God, because He cares for us, and depend on Him to lead and guide us as we navigate this rocky road of uncertainty.

 

In worrisome space, In Worrisome Space

Give all unto God;

The Lord cares for us,

Despite all our flaws.

He sees and He knows,

Our each anxious thought;

He’s present to help,

Each time He is sought.

Even when all things,

Impossible seem;

The Lord has a way,

To give grace, redeem.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You and cast all of our worries and cares upon You. Thank You that Your hands can hold them, and Your shoulders have already bore every burden we ever will bear. Thank You that You provide grace, goodness and love as we come to You. Forgive us for carrying weight and holding anxiety and concerns that we are not meant to hold in fear. Teach us to trust You and listen to wisdom, so that we would navigate in grace and love. Show us how to love well, all those around us, in tangible and meaningful ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our cares and concerns and trust You to lead us in wisdom and strength in the face of all of the unknown. Above all, help us to choose love in all that we say and do, every step of the way. Amen.

 

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

 

Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. – Psalm 55:22

To Love, Learn and Grow

This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” – (Isaiah 48:17, NIV)

The Lord, the Savior, the Holy One of Israel, says, “I am the Lord your God. I teach you for your own good. I lead you in the way you should go.” – (Isaiah 48:17, ERV)

“I am God, your God, who teaches you how to live right and well. I show you what to do, where to go.” – (Isaiah 48:17, MSG)

 

As I sit here this morning, prayerfully, after a restless night’s sleep, I am grateful for the reminder of God’s guidance and grace. Today will mark the first day of my twenty-third year of teaching, and the last “first day” that my boys have that aligns with mine, as they begin their senior year. The night before school begins is always a bit restless, as there is an eager anticipation, along with nerves, knowing that there is much to do, and I desperately want to do my job well. This verse is an excellent reminder for me, as though there is a level of preparation that is my responsibility, and indeed the investment has been made, the part of me that knows that there is much more to learn and grow and do better, is encouraged that He will lead me, each new day. May we ever trust in the One who teaches us what is best for us, and how to live right and well; for wherever we go, others see and follow our lead.

Yesterday, mom enjoyed a day with the family at home. There was much hustle and bustle with each pitching in to purge their home in a sort of “spring-cleaning” fashion, and mom utilized some of the lessons that my sister has given her, showing her new ways to make use of her phone in a more one-handed friendly fashion. With mom, we are trusting God’s guidance to show us what to do and where to go, to get mom’s in-home therapies going.

 

Hours before dawn,

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A little “Art Therapy” for this art teacher.

Still waiting for light;

Teachers lie awake,

In hope and delight.

What will this year bring?

What stories unfold?

How will we touch lives,

These young hearts of gold?

Each year there is hope,

And joy in the new;

Potential waiting,

Lord, show us break through.

May schools and classrooms,

Provide a safe space;

To learn, love and grow,

Each know they’ve a place.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You lead us and guide us in the ways we are meant to go, and that You teach us best. Thank You that as You lead us, we in turn can lead and love well. Forgive us for the times that we have not given ear to Your leading. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would ever be learning and growing, just as we desire to see in our kids. Show us how to love and encourage all those around us, so that each person feels safe to grow into all that they are becoming. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You and listen to You as You teach us and lead us forward. Amen.

 

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

 

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

To Keep the Peace

They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. – (Titus 3:2, NLT)

They shouldn’t speak disrespectfully about anyone, but they should be peaceful, kind, and show complete courtesy toward everyone. – (Titus 3:2, CEB)

Don’t tear down another person with your words. Instead, keep the peace, and be considerate. Be truly humble toward everyone. – (Titus 3:2, VOICE)

 

These words are still completely applicable to us all. Can you imagine our schools, our work places, our cities, and our nation, if people chose to be considerate and humble toward everyone, refusing to tear others down with their words? If we treated each other the way God intended, peace would reign, and we would no longer witness wars of words as a “that’s just how they communicate” situation. Though the high road takes more work, it always leads to a more worthwhile destination. The result of peace, patience, kindness, humility and self-control, far outweigh the momentary satisfaction of a curt reply. May we seek the Lord and His grace so that we may respond to others according to His ways.

 

 

A gentle answer, Made With Purpose

Can turn away wrath;

Bring peace in chaos,

Point to the right path.

For where we choose love,

God’s grace is made plain;

Through humility,

Our life is our claim.

So, let us choose love,

Kindness and His grace;

Ways that point people,

To seek the Lord’s face.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be peaceful and considerate, so that we might choose to walk humbly in love, just as You love each of us. Forgive us for the times that we have been less than loving in our response to people. Teach us to trust You to give us the grace to be humble and kind, acting in love to all people at all times. Show us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You and Your unfailing love to lead us well. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. – Philippians 4:5

Seeking Strength and Peace

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. – (Psalm 4:8, NLT)

The Lord gives His people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, NLT)

But all who listen to Me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm. – (Proverbs 1:33, NLT)

 

There have been four shootings in the last forty-eight hours in my city – three of which were fatalities. What once was a sleepy little town, is growing and changing, and the bounty of broken and hurting people has blown up. I see it in the schools, where kids come and try to navigate the new, with a very different set of standards guiding them as they go. Many are in crisis, and are simply in survival mode. How do we best meet needs and love all who come, just as Jesus calls us to love? We are not called to be afraid, nor hide away in fear, yet neither are we asked to be foolish. The Lord grants wisdom to all who seek Him, and gives strength where we have none. His peace surrounds us and keeps us safe, despite the seeming destruction of what we formerly knew to be true. There is no easy answer nor simple solution when the safety of one’s city has been stolen by violence. However, change begins with one. One act of kindness. One extension of encouraging words. One person providing peace in the midst of scattered storms… If we seeks the Lord and listen to Him, He will grant us strength and wisdom, removing the fear that has fought to find footing around the brutal acts of broken people. May we let Love be what leads us; not fear.

 

As the day closes,Image-1

And fear tries rush in;

I lean on the Lord,

Where comfort begins.

The Source of all strength,

In chaos, our peace;

Protector, Savior,

Where grace is released.

He loves the hurting,

The scorned and broken;

He’s asking of us,

To be truth spoken.

Not just with our words,

But in love, choose serve;

Meet needs before us,

His peace to preserve.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Source of peace and strength, no matter what surrounds us. Thank You that in You, we need not fear – for You keep us safe from harm. Father, I lift my city before You, and ask that You would move mightily in the hearts of all who love You, so that we may seek You and obey whatever You ask of us to bring peace into this place. Forgive us for our fearfulness when we see so much violence in such a short span of time. Teach us to turn to You in trust, so that we would hear what You would have us do, and then we would go forth and obey. Show us how to love all who are hurting around us, so that they might come to know Your perfect peace for themselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength and peace. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8