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.

 

Hollow empty halls,wp-15870437506012790305386090599192.jpg

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

Press On Toward the Prize

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. – (Philippians 3:13, NIV)

Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. – (Philippians 3:13, ERV)

No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. – (Philippians 3:13, TLB)

 

This is a goal to keep in mind as we pursue a life in Christ. If we keep dwelling on the past, we prevent ourselves from moving forward. However, when we make the choice to let go of what lies behind us, and rather, look forward to that which lies ahead, all of our energy and strength is focused in a forward direction. Progress and growth occur when we set our sights ahead. In Christ, our ultimate forward focus is heaven. We can have a heavenly mindset as we fix our eyes on the Lord and choose to love as we are loved by Him. Though not one of us has “arrived” yet, we can ever press on toward the prize, and continue to live out our days with our hearts set on His ways. May we let go of the past that hinders us, and press forward in faith, trusting in the goodness and love that lies ahead in the Lord.

 

Brothers and sisters,Delivering Dreams

All seeking the Lord;

Press on toward the prize,

Heaven’s the reward.

Let go of the past,

All that weighs us down;

Place all in His hands,

It’s where we are found.

Press on toward the prize,

No matter the fight;

The work is worth it,

To do what is right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we can let go of our past sin, mistakes and failures, and move forward toward all that lies ahead in You. Forgive us for forgetting what ultimately matters when the weight of the world bears down on our shoulders. Teach us to lean into You, so that we would let go of the past and press forward to all that You have waiting as we walk forward in faith with You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may let go of what is behind them and move forward toward all of the good that You have waiting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we let go of our past fears and failures, and move forward toward all that awaits in You. Amen.

 

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

 

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

Stability in the Unsettled

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. – (Isaiah 55:9, NLT)

 

It is really easy to look at what is, and predict what should be. Based on what is seen, all indicators seem to point in a particular direction. However, that is not necessarily the case in God’s economy. His plans are far greater than ours, and the road to arrive at His next destination for us, is nearly never the one we planned to take. There are twists and turns, bumps and obstacles, yet incredible views along the way. What we learn as we journey according to His plan, grows our faith and refines our character. Each new leg that we travel, there is a learning curve for trust in Him. The beauty in being His children is that He is for us, and we know that our final destination is glorious beyond our comprehension. As we go, we need to trust that God has us in His hands, and that His ways are higher than ours. May we move forward in confidence, trusting that the Lord is for us regardless of what we see.

 

No matter what comes,Sense in Storms

We need never fear;

God’s ways are higher,

And He remains near.

Despite what we see,

God is in control;

He knows where we’ve been,

And where we’re to go.

So trust in the Lord,

And all of His ways;

For He lifts us up,

Stays present, always.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your ways are higher than our ways and Your thoughts, higher than ours. Thank You that You hold us in the palm of Your hands. Forgive us for our lack of faith when what we see is so unsettled. Teach us to trust You in spite of what lies before us, and help us hold fast to the unwavering truth of who You are, and how You love. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that we may provide stability and truth in unsettled and shaky surroundings. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your ways and Your thoughts, as they are far higher than ours. Amen.

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

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14