Set Aside Distractions

But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” – (1 Chronicles 21:24, NIV)

But King David answered Araunah, “No, I will pay you the full price. I will not take anything that is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not give offerings that cost me nothing.” – (1 Chronicles 21:24, ERV)

David replied to Araunah, “No. I’m buying it from you, and at the full market price. I’m not going to offer God sacrifices that are no sacrifice.” – (1 Chronicles 21:24, MSG)

 

The back story prior to King David determining to give an offering at that particular place, is that he had just been spared the full brunt of God’s wrath on Israel. David’s lack of trust in God led to a seemingly severe punishment, yet God relented prior to the complete fulfillment of what He had said would be done. David contended for mercy and an angel of the Lord told him to go up and build an altar to the Lord and sacrifice at that particular place. Being a man who understood what it meant to offer a sacrifice, he knew it required a cost on his part. When King David approached Araunah about purchasing the parcel of land to use to present sacrifices to God, Araunah was ready to give the land as a gift. David could not accept the land as a gift if it was part of a sacrifice, because for him, it had to have a cost. King David needed to be acutely aware of the expense, as a reminder of the mercy extended to him and all of Israel. When we make a sacrifice, it does not necessarily have to be monetary, yet it ought to be something that makes us aware of its absence so that we are expectant in wait of the better that is yet to come. For David, it was mercy for all of Israel. That was indeed far greater than the cost of a space to offer sacrifices. Today, the same principle still applies. When we are seeking answers, giving something up as we seek the Lord so that we might fully focus on Him, helps remind us what matters most. What are the answers you are seeking or the help you are needing? What is getting in your way? Identifying the distraction may be the first step in knowing what to set aside for a time, in order to seek the Lord for the help that is needed most. May we look to the Lord for the help and answers that we seek, and set aside that which distracts us from fully pursuing Him.

 

Seek the Lord our God, Set Aside Distractions

And all of His ways;

Remove distractions,

As we give God praise.

Pursue the Lord’s best,

As we set aside;

Barriers to Him,

Draw near, choose abide.

For when we focus,

On God and His will;

He leads and guides us,

And peace comes to fill.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You and set aside the things that distract us, You answer us and show us more of Yourself. Thank You that You only ask us to lay things down so that we can have something better in You. Forgive us for allowing so many things to draw our attention away from You. Set our hearts and minds on You so that we live and love according to Your plan. Show us how to love those around us in ways that bless and encourage and illuminate Your heart to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to sacrifice things that distract us from You and wholeheartedly pursue You and all that You have for us. Amen.

 

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

 

I will sacrifice a freewill offering to You; I will praise Your Name, Lord, for it is good. – Psalm 54:6

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

Hope in the Waiting

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. – (Romans 8:25, NIV)

But we are hoping for something we don’t have yet, and we are waiting for it patiently. – (Romans 8:25, ERV)

But if we wait expectantly for things we have never seen, then we hope with true perseverance and eager anticipation. – (Romans 8:25, VOICE)

 

Kingdom principles applied to earthly timetables are indeed the most challenging to embrace. Hoping for what we desire and cannot yet see, and waiting patiently for what is yet to come, are foundational elements of faith. Walking beside someone, particularly a parent, following a serious stroke, indeed provides opportunity to exercise the fortification of one’s faith and the identification and holding fast to the very things for which one holds hope. Patiently waiting is proving the most challenging, as it can be agonizing to watch the struggle as a loved one works tirelessly to regain what was once automatic. It is a slow and tedious process, but each small step in the right direction is worthy of celebration and thanksgiving. Obviously in our circumstance, the hope is that mom will regain her independence and mobility, and be able to resume life as she knew it prior to her stroke. Right now, she is in the season of not yet. She is still in the space of relearning to walk and regain control of the right side of her body. Mom is leaps and bounds beyond where she was three months ago when this all began, yet there is still much ground to gain before she can safely live alone. This is the space of hoping for what is not yet, and waiting patiently with perseverance and eager anticipation, as God can do so much more.

Yesterday, mom had yet another glimpse of the good things yet to come. I had asked Nick, her physical therapist, if he would be willing to work with mom on steps. He gladly obliged, and before the end of their session, mom had walked down and back up her front landing steps and walkway with her hemi-walker (one-handed walker) with Nick beside her, giving verbal coaching cues and minimal hands-on as a reassurance. She did incredibly well, and will practice again on Wednesday. The bonus blessing of being able to navigate steps is that next week, when she has a gap week between insurance coverage locally, (covered in Oregon, not here) she will be able to return to her friend’s pool and step down into the pool and climb the steps back out, rather than relying on two people to lift her in and out. Extra exercise options will be wonderful, and the pool has been a favorite for both of us. Mom also had speech therapy and a lovely visit with a sweet pair of her neighbors. The visit took us up to a late dinner start, so by the time we had eaten and watched a movie, we were both wiped out and ready to sleep. Mom slept through the night until 4:30 am, and went back to sleep. In fact, she is still sleeping now. 😊 Rest is so good, and will be of great help as she has options for adventure today, with only occupational therapy on the schedule this morning.

May we seek the Lord to help us hold fast to hope for that which we cannot yet see, and wait patiently with perseverance and eager anticipation, as God moves on our behalf.

 

Hope is the anchor, 0730190513_hdr1301316828220822645.jpg

That tells us, “Hold on!”

A strength from within,

God’s gracious response.

The patience to wait,

For things yet unseen;

Faith to keep trusting,

In that still to be.

With perseverance,

Anticipate good;

God’s ever moving,

His love understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for granting us hope in that which we cannot see, and faith that You are moving on our behalf in the waiting. Forgive us for our impatience, as Your timing is not our own. Teach us to trust You more, as Your ways are perfect and Your plan is best. Show us how to love those around us as they are in their own spaces of waiting or hoping or persevering toward the prize that seems out of reach. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our hope and strength that sustains us as You grow our faith each step of the way. Help us to continue to persevere in You. Amen.

 

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

 

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the inner curtain. – Hebrews 6:19

 

 

As He Loves

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – (John 15:12, NIV)

This is what I command you: Love each other as I have loved you. – (John 15:12, ERV)

So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you. – (John 15:12, TPT)

 

I am beyond blessed to have so many people in my life who model this very sort of love toward me on a regular basis. This weekend, I have been reminded especially well, of just how much God loves me, as He has made His love tangible through the people whom He has intentionally placed in my life. Though this past year has not unfolded exactly as one might have hoped nor expected in the first year of marriage and as I roll into the start of my forty-eighth year of life, I can clearly see God’s hand in it, and have been held, strengthened, encouraged and carried, every step of the way. Many spouses would not be so fortunate to have the blessing of their husband of nine months, and their seventeen-year-old twins, to go and care for their mother after a stroke. Mine, however, said, “Go!” Each weekend, my husband has faithfully driven the three hours to come see me, and have made sure to speak with me and encourage me daily on the phone, (the boys join him as often as their schedules allow). This weekend was kicked off with my running bestie on Friday evening through Saturday morning, followed by my husband and boys on Saturday at midday, and as the fellas prepare to leave this afternoon, my best friend will arrive to stay a quick overnight as well. Not only am I blessed and encouraged by their visit and presence, but mom is too. It is only fitting, as she is the reason that I am here. As this week continues, Megan will return and I will head home to go on an escape for our first anniversary trip. God is good, and I have learned to love more deeply in the last three months than I ever knew possible prior.

As for mom and her progress yesterday, she accomplished another new milestone with her grandsons cheering her on! Mom walked the entire length of her hallway, twice! That is one-hundred and twenty feet, unassisted. I love watching the recognition of new progress on mom’s face each time she conquers new milestones. There is a visible flood of hope that fills not only her face, but her entire being. It is almost as if she could jump out of her chair and dance down the hallway with excitement. So much joy. Another accomplishment was tackled as we went out to dinner as a family. Being out in public is not her favorite, and I imagine the idea of sitting in a restaurant makes her feel especially vulnerable. Thankfully, the place we selected was fairly quiet, and we were at a table in a room where there were nearly no other patrons. We enjoyed our meal together and did not have any issues navigating the space. After dinner, we returned home and played several rounds of our family favorite game, Dirty Marbles. It is a sort of combination of Chinese Checkers and Sorry, and gets quite competitive. Each of us ended the day full, happy, and knowing how truly loved we are. I could not think of a better way to close out my 47th year. 😊

May we ever recognize how God loves us so well, and go forth and love as we are loved.

 

We are commanded, img_2019-07-14_07-32-527808805951401243208.jpg

To love as we’re loved;

Give as we’re given,

From the Lord above.

For all that God gives,

Within, multiplies;

So we might go forth,

And love with delight.

For each time we choose,

To love like the Lord;

We help others know,

How much they’re adored.

The Lord loves us all,

His most treasured ones;

May we trust in Him,

And love like His Son.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You only ask of us that which You already have shown us in countless ways. Thank You that Your love is tangible. Thank You for the treasured gift of family and friends whom You place in our lives to show us what Your love really means. Forgive us for the times that we have not loved according to Your plan. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love without limits and allow Your light to burn brightly through us to the world. Show us how to love those around us, especially those who are difficult to love or do not know how to receive the love You have to offer. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love others in the same way that You selflessly and generously love each of us. Amen.

 

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

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34

Bound Together

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV)

Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he’s in trouble. Also, on a cold night, two under the same blanket gain warmth from each other, but how can one be warm alone? And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, TLB)

 

For years, this verse has been my hope and prayer, held in my heart, especially the last sentence about a cord of three strands being so strong. As my Viking and I prepared to wed, we did a bit of research about Nordic wedding traditions. Incredibly, we found that often, in Nordic weddings, there is a hand-tying portion of the ceremony where the bride and groom’s hands are bound together in a triple-braided cord to represent the two coming together and be bound to one another with God. The visual representation of this joining together very closely matched an image that has stuck with me for a very long time. Consequently, together with our Pastor, we incorporated this tradition into our wedding ceremony.

Already, as we drove home from Wenatchee yesterday, (where our wedding took place) this verse proved itself true for us. We came upon horrendous traffic, and the typical two-and-a-half hour drive turned into eight hours. On our own, either one of us would have been ready to tap out; however, with the support of one another and the grace of God, we successfully navigated our way home through the heat and traffic, unscathed and still speaking to one another.  The wonderful thing about the promise held in two being better than one, is that it perpetuates our charge to be engaged in the body. If we love God and love one another, we are not alone and have the strength of that three-strand cord. May we ever invest in our relationship with God and one another so that we may stand together in His strength, no matter what comes our way.

 

Our God has designed, wp-15323501515116858327490790099683.jpg

Us not be alone;

Binds us together,

In heart and in home.

Wherever two stand,

Their strength is greater;

As joined by the Lord,

Loving Creator.

Let two choose unite,

And in God abide;

For their strength shall stand,

With grace found inside.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be in relationship with You and with each other. Thank You that when two join together and invite You to be the center, You come and intertwine Your heart with ours and grant us strength. Forgive us for the times that we attempt to take on what lies before us on our own. Teach us to trust You and those whom You have given us to walk beside. Show us how to love each other in a way that joins hearts and minds in Your purpose to walk out Your plan. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand with You as a three-strand cord, bound in Your strength, hope and love. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth  (Moreno) Grabrick and Revelations in Writing,

May 2011 – present

 

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His Name together. – Psalm 34:3