Defense Against Discouragement

Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. – (Psalm 95:2, NIV)

Come and worship Him with songs of thanks. Let us sing happy songs of praise to Him. – (Psalm 95:2, ERV)

Come face-to-face with God, and give thanks; with loud and joyful voices, praise Him in songs. – (Psalm 95:2, VOICE)

 

The best defense against discouragement and frustration, is praise and thanksgiving. Yesterday was a bit of a battle for me. Between fending off a doozy of a headache and a report of less-than-stellar student behavior during my absence on Monday, it was a struggle to operate from a space of gratitude and joy. Thankfully, I have incredible colleagues, and the blessing of positive and encouraging interactions with them throughout my day, made all of the difference in how my heart was held. I am certain that taking the opportunity to give mom a quick call during my planning period helped too. By the time I arrived at high school gymnastics practice to warm, friendly greetings by the girls and fellow coaches, joy and gratitude were back in their proper place, and practice flew by. Days such as these, I am so grateful for the people that He has placed in my life to remind me of what truly matters. May we ever come before the Lord with thanksgiving and praise Him with song; for He is good and His love endures forever.

As I mentioned, I was blessed to get a hold of Mom during my planning period in the morning yesterday. Speaking to her before her first out-patient speech appointment was good, as I know she was a bit nervous for the new, yet excited to continue to move forward on this journey of healing. Thankfully, I had the pleasure of checking back in with Mom last evening to hear how her first appointment had gone. Although it was the usual assessment to establish a starting point, she really liked the speech therapist, and was encouraged by the work he initiated and the hope that lies ahead. Additionally, now that she has been to an out-patient appointment, the other new upcoming therapy appointments are less daunting. For all of these things, we give thanks.

 

When discouragement, img_2019-11-20_04-57-501882498755502868600.jpg

Or frustration come;

Combat them with praise,

To the Holy One.

Despite what we see,

There’s always reason;

To give thanks to God,

In each new season.

For life and for breath,

For hope, strength and peace;

So many blessings,

By grace, He’s released.

Let us rise and praise,

Give thanks where it’s due;

All unto the Lord,

Whose love’s ever true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You we have reason to give thanks and sing songs of praise unto You, in every season. Thank You that even in a time that feels heavy, You are present and ready to carry the weight. Thank You that as we lift our burdens unto You and give praise where praise is due, we are able to navigate the way true. Forgive us for losing sight of gratitude in the grip of the grind. Teach us to keep our eyes on You, so that our perspective is eternal rather than on the temporary. Show us how to love those around us in the midst of their heaviness, so that they too may find reason to give thanks. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise and thanks for all of our days, for You are always good. Amen.

 

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

 

The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him; all the upright in heart will glory in Him! – Psalm 64:10

Sweet Independence

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – (Matthew 4:4, NIV)

Jesus answered him, “The Scriptures say, ‘It is not just bread that keeps people alive. Their lives depend on what God says.’” – (Matthew 4:4, ERV)

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” – (Matthew 4:4, MSG)

 

Independence Day has an entirely new meaning in my world this year. I am not speaking on a national level, but rather on a personal one. Independence, as it is defined, is the freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others. (dictionary.com)  Ironically, to be independent from the wiles of this world, we must be dependent on God. We have to know the Lord, trust His word to be true, and actually follow after Him with our whole heart, to avoid being sucked into a dependence on popular thought, regardless of how askew it has become. Personally, I am in a space where my formerly independent mom, is currently completely dependent on me (or my sister) for everything throughout her day. Aid and support are required to sustain her, as the right side of her body is still not cooperating as it used to, prior to her stroke. At times I find myself feeling like a prisoner in this space, as I am accustomed to the freedom to come and go as I choose. Not having the liberty to take off and go for a run or make a quick trip to the store as needed, is an odd sort of normal. That being said, even when I have those freedoms at home, I still depend on God. My thought life and ability to express myself is independent of anyone’s control, and any submitting that I do, is a personal choice unto the Lord.

Perhaps my point is to not take our independence for granted. Mom’s independence was taken in an unexpected instant. She had no prior health issues nor warning signs, yet a stroke happened, and here we are. God is gracious and mom is a fighter. He has given her strength and tenacity, and I believe she will work her way back to full function on her own again. However, there is much work and an undisclosed timeline in the in between. Yesterday was another good day, as mom walked the full length of her hallway by herself with the walker during physical therapy in the morning. A bit later, we went on a “field trip” into town to drive through Dutch Bros for coffee. Honestly, it is a way to get out of the house and take in a change of scenery. Upon our return, we sat on the deck and spent a few hours playing Uno and Dominos. Playing games is a great way to continue to connect pathways in her healing brain, and do not be fooled, as she is a ruthless competitor. 😊 The remainder of the day was fairly routine, as we did the usual sort of activities. Last night, she had a few wake-ups in a short span of time, but then slept until 5:30 this morning. There is absolutely nothing scheduled for today, so we shall see what the day holds. We are independent to choose, yet dependent on God for His goodness and grace as we go. May your day be free and blessed as You celebrate the gift of independence that is held in your hands.

 

Sweet independence,

Freedom to behold;

Where no one controls,

We choose what to hold.

Hold fast to the truth,

Grace rooted in love;

Trust in the Lord’s word,

All hope from above.

Only by God’s grace,

Do we truly know;

Freedom forever,

True peace to let go.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace. Thank You that true independence and freedom come when we learn to be dependent on You. Thank You for the nourishment found in Your word. Forgive us for our frustration found in our circumstances, somehow thinking that our independence has anything to do with our location or physical condition. Teach us to trust You more, understanding that Your word truly sets us free from all that holds us captive. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too may come to understand freedom in Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate our independence because of our dependence on You. Amen.

 

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

 

My brothers and sisters, God chose you to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful selves. Instead, serve each other with love. – Galatians 5:13

Offerings Become Art

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV)

As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always, because you know that your labor isn’t going to be for nothing in the Lord. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, CEB)

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, MSG)

 

This verse is both a challenge and an encouragement. As an individual who has felt called to teach since a very young age, it has been an interesting path to traverse over the last twenty-one years. There have been times that the obstacles and challenges seemed so impossible, that I wanted to walk away. The time, resources and self that are poured into each day, have to be for Him, or our perspective becomes distorted.  I know this is only the first week, but there is something that feels more steady and secure than it ever has before. Perhaps it is the tangible support I have at home that provides me the freedom to invest more of myself as I begin each day full, rather than depleted. Another possibility is that I am, for the first time in my career, teaching what I love most, for the majority of my day. Though I enjoy teaching the variety of subjects I have taught throughout my career thus far, I know that my excitement and enthusiasm for helping kids discover that they can create art, is not a waste of time or effort. There is something powerful to watch as students realize that they are able to do far more than they ever thought possible. May we ever stand firm and stay the course to which we are called, for nothing we do for Him is ever for naught.

 

If all that we do, 257314779340194518937431.jpeg

Is unto the Lord;

No effort wasted,

As grace is outpoured.

For God gladly takes,

What we choose to bring;

And uses for good,

All our offerings.

Whether it is time,

Resources or heart;

All done unto God,

Become lifetime art.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all that we do unto You can be used for Your glory. Thank You that as we stay the course to which we are called, we see Your faithfulness unfold in Your time. Thank You that You are always good, even when we cannot see the good before us. Forgive us for our doubts that make us question the direction we know we are meant to go. Strengthen us to stand firm and press on, trusting completely in You to bring beauty from our investment of time, energy and heart. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages them to discover or continue on the path to which they are called. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to use our every offering for good as we stay the course to which we are called. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this. – Psalm 37:5

Consistent Character Communicates Christ Without a Word

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. – (I Thessalonians 4:11-12)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Part of loving God and loving people, is living our lives responsibly. If we model a life that is rooted in Christ, working to honor Him in every area of our life, we will be witnessing to those around us, without a single word. His light shines through us, operating consistently as He calls us to do. People who do not yet know the Lord, will be much more receptive to hear truth from those they trust, because they have observed a consistent committed character that remains steadfast, regardless of what arena we are in. Our ambition ought to be to reflect His radiance in even the most mundane of tasks, as we do all things as unto the Lord. The joy, perseverance and hope that we hold, will not go unnoticed. May He be glorified in all that is done today.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Let our ambition,Consistent Character Communicates
be a place of peace;
where we choose hard work,
and our cares release.
May we allow God,
in all that we do;
so all people see,
that His word is true.
For His light shall shine,
as we live for Him;
people will notice,
and want what’s within.
So, let us work hard,
in all that we do;
God be glorified,
may many seek You.
                                                                                                                                                                                                               Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You want our whole heart. Thank You that You can utilize each one of us, wherever we are planted, regardless of what we do, if we simply choose to do all as unto You. Thank You that people who do not yet know You, notice a difference when You are in what we do. Thank You that You provide openings and opportunities to share Your love and truth with those who are looking. Forgive us for the times that we have not exemplified Your heart or Your character in what we say or do, and help us to move forward in Your grace, strength and love. May many who have not yet come to know You as King, find forever faith in You, as we live to honor You. Be glorified in all that we say and do, and help us be ever aware of Your direction for our lives. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23