Navigating Unknowns

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – (Joshua 1:9, NIV)

Remember, I commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – (Joshua 1:9, ERV)

Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take. – (Joshua 1:9, MSG)

We are commanded to be strong and courageous. This is not a command that says, “Good luck, kid, go take care of things on your own”, but rather is reminding us that because God will be with us wherever we go, we can be strong and courageous in Him. Strength and courage are not things that we can somehow muster on our own, but rather we are filled by the Lord’s overwhelming love, and are granted the strength and courage that we need to navigate life’s unknowns. Today will be a day that I need God’s strength and courage as I go to a pre-operative appointment this afternoon. Though a consultation is not necessarily a fearful thing on its own, the process that lies ahead is scary and unknown. My hope is that strength and courage will increase, and the surgeon will be one who sets my mind at ease. No matter what, I know God will go before me, will remain with me, and will supply what I need as it is needed. He is faithful and I am grateful. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength and courage as we face the unknowns that come our way.

With God as my strength,

What have I to fear?

Always He’s with me,

I know He is near.

He grants me courage,

When alone, there’s none;

He floods me with love,

The most Holy One.

God supplies comfort,

When I am afraid;

I’m held in His hands,

Throughout each new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that courage and strength come from You. Thank You that You provide all that we need and more as we seek You. Thank You that You go before us and stay beside us as we walk into the unknowns that life brings. Forgive us for our fears that rise up and try to take root. Teach us to lean on You to lead us and trust in You to guide us through every step that we take. Show us how to be present in the strength and courage You supply. Lead us to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the strength and courage that You supply and for Your nearness as we navigate unknowns. Amen.

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

Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord. – Psalm 27:14

Breathe New Life

This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: ”I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” – (Ezekiel 37:5–6, NIV)

This is what the Lord God says to you: “I will cause breath to come into you, and you will come to life! I will put sinew and muscles on you, and I will cover you with skin. Then I will put breath in you, and you will come back to life! Then you will know that I am the Lord.” – (Ezekiel 37:5-6, ERV)

God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!” – (Ezekiel 37:5-6, MSG)

If God can call an army of dead bones to life, He can bring life to the places in our lives that seem lifeless, hopeless, or simply beyond what we can handle on our own. As I await a surgery date and dread the process that looms ahead, I can trust that God will carry me through. The same God that breathed life into a valley of dry bones, knit me together in my mother’s womb. He knows the number of hairs on my head and can restore anything that is out of alignment. Sometimes, He moves miraculously, and other times, He utilizes modern medicine and people to perform that which was seemingly impossible a few decades ago. Despite my anxiousness for what lies before me, I know I can trust in Him to be with me, hold me up, and restore what is not as it should be. May we ever seek the Lord when we find ourselves in a seeming valley of dry bones, and trust in Him to do far more than we ever thought possible.

When in the valley,

That’s lifeless and dry;

God can breathe new life,

Hope we can’t deny.

He is light and life,

When things may seem dim;

He brings help and peace,

As we let Him in.

Keep seeking the Lord,

His love is for all;

Our great Provider,

Hears us when we call.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to listen to our every prayer, and that You can do exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine. Thank You that You are life and breath, hope and help, throughout all of our days. Forgive us for seeing only the dry and lifelessness in the valleys, rather than the opportunities for You to do something new and miraculous. Teach us how to trust and depend on You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we can be extensions of Your life and love, peace and hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we watch for You to move in the places that seem overwhelmingly desolate. Amen.

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

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. – Genesis 2:7

Cannot Be Shaken

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. – (Hebrews 12:28, NIV)

So we should be thankful because we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And because we are thankful, we should worship God in a way that will please Him. We should do this with respect and fear. – (Hebrews 12:28, ERV)

Therefore, let us all be thankful that we are part of an unshakable Kingdom and offer to God worship that pleases Him and reflects the awe and reverence we have toward Him. – (Hebrews 12:28, VOICE)

This is the hope that we can hold forever, no matter what happens here, we have a home we are headed to that cannot be shaken. The very One who created the heavens and the earth, created us and made the way for us to have Him with us now, and spend eternity in His presence. Our gratitude to God ought to pour out through worship as we are intentional to reflect on who He is and how He loves. The way we live, the way we speak, and the way we treat people all can be ways that we worship God with our lives. Such worship reflects our awe and reverence for the King of kings. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to allow our lives to reflect His goodness and live out a lifestyle of worshiping Him. 

The Kingdom of God,

Goes beyond what’s seen;

Glory imagined,

Much more than a dream.

For He has prepared,

A place for us all;

Amidst His glory,

Where we are each called.

Come let us worship,

In awe we bow down;

Before our Maker,

In Whom hope is found.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we receive Your kingdom now and for all eternity. Your kingdom dwells in our hearts and grants us strength and hope in all things. Thank You that You are as near as our next breath. Forgive us for our fears and doubts as circumstances shake us. Teach us to put all of our trust in You, the only One who cannot be shaken. Show us how to love like You so that those around us come to know Your loving kindness and limitless power. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we worship You with all that we are in reverence and awe. Amen.

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

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. – Psalm 125:1

In All Things Praise

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. – (Colossians 3:17, NIV)

Everything you say and everything you do should be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. – (Colossians 3:17, ERV)

Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father. – (Colossians 3:17, VOICE)

This verse, paired with what I know and love about the Psalms, remind me that it is okay to struggle with and lament what is going on, yet we must ultimately fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. David was a man after God’s own heart, and he questioned, lamented and cried out to God, yet ever kept perspective on who God is and gave Him the thanks that belongs to God alone. Right now, I am still reeling a bit from the prognosis I received from the specialist on Wednesday. I am still grateful that the carcinoma was discovered sooner than later, yet I am very much dreading the process of the prescribed procedure. It is not the pain I fear, but rather my body’s reaction to the process. God is good, and He will supply all that I need, however, my humanity is not looking forward to any of it, and the specialist’s insistence that I be fast-tracked to have the surgery sooner than later, adds a bit of angst as well. This is the space that I can pause and remember God’s incredible faithfulness in my life thus far, and His kindness to provide a long weekend to process and prepare my heart before heading back into the work week. Additionally, there is just enough activity sprinkled in, that I will not have too much time to dwell on what lies ahead. There is time to rest, to spend time with my loved ones, to cuddle my dogs extra often, to coach my gymnasts as they are working on building routines, and to celebrate the retirement of one of our dearest friends. I am missing my mom and sister terribly this holiday weekend, but know that I can joyfully anticipate time together at Christmas. May we ever fix our eyes on Jesus, our Help and our Hope in all things, and give Him all of our praise for His faithfulness throughout all of our days.

O Lord, in all things,

Will You help me praise;

Your great faithfulness,

Throughout all my days.

Each day You are good,

Even when life’s not;

You share our burdens,

Each time that You’re sought.

Thank You for kindness,

For goodness and grace;

For hope and Your help,

On difficult days.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

That You’re good always;

And Your faithfulness,

Is reason to praise.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good, faithful, loving and kind, and the Provider of all that we need each day. Thank You that no matter what lies ahead, we have You to walk beside us and to carry us when we can walk no further. Forgive us for our fears of the unknown, for You are known in all, even when what lies ahead is not. Teach us to trust You more each day, and lead us to live out each day trusting in Your unfailing love that never leaves us. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us in ways that make Your love tangible and Your goodness evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to praise You throughout all of our days. Amen.

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

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – Psalm 13:6

Overflowing Gratitude

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. – (Colossians 2:6-7, NIV)

You accepted Jesus Christ as Lord, so continue to live in Him. You must depend on Christ only, drawing life and strength from Him. Just as you were taught the truth, continue to grow stronger in your understanding of it. And never stop giving thanks to God. – (Colossians 2:6-7, ERV)

Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness. – (Colossians 2:6-7, VOICE)

This is an ongoing, lifelong process that makes all of the difference in how our lives are lived. When we remain rooted in Christ, He strengthens our faith and reminds us of all that we have to be thankful for. Yesterday, as I was pulling into the parking lot where I coach high school gymnastics, I received a call from the specialist who had performed the biopsy on my lip. From the start, I could tell her tone was somber, so I took a deep breath and listened to the news she was sharing with me. The results were worse than she had anticipated, as aggressive carcinoma cells were found in the muscle, nerves and tissue from the punch sample. She said that normally the surgical process she had previously anticipated for me would be scheduled out in January, but due to the nature of the findings, it will be made a high priority and the schedulers will orchestrate a time as soon as possible. This is not exactly the news I had hoped or prayed for, but I needed to get into the gym and coach my girls. It was only after practice, when I called my husband, walked the dogs (prayerfully), and then spoke with my sisters and best friend, that I was able to breathe more easily and feel the familiar foundation of faith rise up. Being reminded of the beautiful community I am in floods my heart with gratitude. I am thankful that the spot was discovered before it spread further, that I have family and friends that support and encourage me, and that the success rate of treating this sort of cancer at this stage is outstanding. Additionally, I am grateful for sweet, smart dogs that seem to sense the need for snuggles. Currently, I have a gentle giant curled up and snoring softly on my lap. May we ever journey with Jesus through every twist and turn that life brings, for He is faithful to strengthen us and supply all that we need.

Give thanks to the Lord,

For He is the good;

That strengthens, supports,

Makes love understood.

He pours out His grace,

Holds us up gently;

Embraces our heart,

And makes our fears flee.

He brings alongside,

Kind community;

Equips, empowers,

Grants His eyes to see.

Things aren’t forever,

Pain’s temporary;

But our hope in Him,

Lasts eternally.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength, our hope and our help. Thank You that You are our reason to give thanks. Forgive us for the times that we allow our circumstances to temporarily blind us to the truth of Your love and grace that gets us through all things. Teach us to trust You more each day, and flood us to overflowing with Your goodness and love. Show us how to love those around us in ways that strengthen and encourage, making Your heart abundantly clear to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks for who You are and how You love us so well. Amen.

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

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

Trust to Hope Overflowing

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, NIV)

I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace as you trust in Him. Then you will have more and more hope, and it will flow out of you by the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, ERV)

I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit. – (Romans 15:13, VOICE)

As we trust in Christ, His joy and peace fill us with hope. When hope grows it overflows and reaches those around us through the power of the Holy Spirit. I have several friends who are walking difficult roads that have been clinging closely to Christ. The trust they have has filled them with His joy and peace, and their hope has been an encouragement to me and many that know them. It always amazes me that God can take our challenges and turn them into encouragement to others. How we walk in the midst of life’s trials speaks clearly of the hope we know in Christ to those around us. May we ever trust in Him who is our hope, and may we be filled to overflowing with joy and His perfect peace. 

May hope overflow,

Through all that we do;

As we place our trust,

In that which is true.

The Lord is our peace,

When peace seems beyond;

And joy is present,

For His love responds.

When the road is rough,

God’s faithful to be;

Right alongside us,

Granting us His peace.

May hope overflow,

From us to others;

True joy and sweet peace,

To sisters, brothers.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we trust in You, You meet us, walk beside us, strengthen, encourage, and fill us with joy and peace so that hope in You overflows to those around us. Forgive us for our fears and doubts that creep in when we take our eyes off of You. Show us how to trust You more and more so that hope ever flows out of our every word and deed. Lead us to love and encourage those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to trust You in all things and at all times. Amen.

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

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. – Psalm 19:8

Bloom Under Pressure

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. – (James 1:2-3, NIV)

My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you reason to be very happy. You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. – (James 1:2-3, ERV)

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. – (James 1:2-3, VOICE)

I most appreciate the Voice translation of this particular passage, as it is far easier to relate to finding joy in the midst of our trials, rather than considering them joy. The older I get, the more I both witness and experience this truth. Between the progression of aging in both us and our parents, the frequency of trials and health challenges in our lives and those of dear family and friends around us seem to be on the rise. What I continue to witness is faith rising up, and joy found in the midst of unpleasant circumstances as patience and endurance are provided. God is faithful to meet us every step we take, be it through the deepest valleys or on the highest peaks. One of the greatest things that I am continuing to learn is that God provides people that lighten our loads – be it physically, emotionally, or financially in the center of our storms. Throughout the early days and weeks following my mom’s stroke, people sent notes, called, encouraged and lifted up, which strengthened us and brought joy in the midst of the fearful unknown. On Thursday, I was supposed to have a consultation with a surgeon about a procedure to remove cancerous cells from my upper lip. The appointment turned into a bigger biopsy than I had previously had, and resulted in a couple of stitches, with further surgery still looming ahead. Incredibly, I feel total peace about the ultimate outcome of all this. My trepidation lies in the process. Even with the unanticipated procedure, God provided a kind staff that blended humor and compassion perfectly for me. Despite the unpleasantness of the process, their demeanor set my heart at ease and I left the appointment with much gratitude for those charged with my care. Additionally, I had a conversation with a colleague and friend whose father had undergone something similar to what is in store for me, and she was able to share great encouragement as he had minimal scarring and complete success. God is good and He uses our circumstances to grow and encourage us as He strengthens us with His overwhelming love. May you be encouraged by His goodness and kindness, even in the midst of challenges, today and always.

In heartache and joy,

Challenges and peace;

The Lord is near us,

And strength He’ll increase.

Through each new trial,

Faith He will increase;

As we choose to trust,

His power’s released.

In the dark spaces,

Keep seeking His light;

Endurance will bloom,

To joy and delight.

Delight in moments,

Where His love is clear;

Trust in the process,

God is always near.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You use our trials and challenges to grow us in strength and endurance. Thank You that You provide joy, even in the most difficult circumstances. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations in the midst of the unexpected trials that we face. Teach us how to lean into You for strength and endurance as we navigate whatever comes our way. Show us how to encourage and support those around us well, so that they may see tangible evidence of Your goodness and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to be our strength in the struggles, and praise You for Your provision of joy despite our circumstances. Amen.

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

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. – Psalm 28:7

Beyond Understanding is Love

God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; He does great things beyond our understanding. – (Job 37:5, NIV)

God’s thundering voice is amazing! He does great things we cannot understand. – (Job 37:5, ERV)

The voice of God that is thundering wondrously. He does magnificent things, beyond our comprehension. – (Job 37:5, VOICE)

Who can grasp the greatness of God? If Job, who understood God’s greatest blessings, endured the most difficult hardships, and again found himself blessed beyond what he had known before speaks about how marvelous and unfathomable God is, we cannot begin to pretend to understand all of His ways. The difference for us is that we have the benefit of knowing Jesus, who showed us great glimpses of who God is and how He loves. Jesus chose ordinary men and women to share His love with the world, not the “great” religious leaders of the time. Fishermen, tax collectors and tent-makers, to name a few, were those whom Jesus placed in roles to share His good news with the world. God brought all of creation into existence with His voice, and the intricate details of all that He has made go beyond our realm of understanding. May we ever stand in awe of the greatness of God, and give Him all honor and praise for His marvelous ways as we navigate each new day.

Both in the stillness,

And through mighty roars;

God can silence seas,

And bring end to wars.

He makes mountains move,

And the rain that falls;

Can free the captives,

Our great Lord of all.

Though we cannot see,

All that He can do;

We can trust in faith,

For His word is true.

So, rise up in faith,

Choose trust in the Lord;

For He’s always good,

He whom we adore.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are so good. Thank You that You have a voice that thunders with power and might, yet also one that can whisper in the stillness to our hearts. Thank You that Your ways are higher than our own, and that though we cannot grasp all of Your magnificent ways, we can trust in Your goodness and faithfulness and love. Forgive us for our fears and doubts in the spaces that we do not understand. Teach us to trust in You and the power that You hold in the hollow of Your hands. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your heart clear. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your power and might, and for all of Your ways that go beyond what we can comprehend. Amen.

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

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

No Matter What May Come

For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested. – (Hebrews 2:18, HCSB)

And now He can help those who are tempted. He is able to help because He Himself suffered and was tempted. – (Hebrews 2:18, ERV)

Since He has also been tested by suffering, He can help us when we are tested. – (Hebrews 2:18, VOICE)

Because Jesus was tempted in every way, and He suffered beyond what we can even begin to fathom, He understands and knows how to help us when we struggle. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we are completely alone in the midst of struggle or suffering, but the truth is, God is always near. Jesus is ever moving on our behalf. The challenge is to slow down, seek the Lord, and simply sit in His presence. He is faithful to meet us in our seeking, and will hold us up and lead us through the trials that we face. May we ever seek the Lord, for He is faithful, and He will help, hold, and lead us so that we may navigate every difficulty that comes our way.

No matter what comes,

God already knows;

How to best help us,

In His strength, we grow.

Through great temptations,

Or true suffering;

God will be faithful,

Grace and strength He brings.

So, rise up and seek,

Each time you shall find;

More than imagined,

His love does exceed.

Lean into Jesus,

No matter what comes;

He’s present to help,

The great Holy One.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are gracious and kind, and that You understand every trial and suffering that we endure. Thank You that because You have suffered and been tempted in every way, You are able to help and strengthen us to navigate all things. Forgive us for our fears and doubts. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us as You do, so that they too may come to know Your strength and help and hope in all things. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You in all things and at all times, for in You, there is peace and hope and strength. Amen.

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

Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God. – Jeremiah 42:6

Peace is Plentiful

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)

Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries. – (1 Peter 5:7, VOICE)

 No matter what we have been through, or what may lie ahead, we need not worry, for God already knows and will be faithful to be with us. When anxiousness begins to rise and creep in, we need to place it in His capable hands. Because He cares for us, we do not have to carry our burdens alone, nor do we have to face the fires by ourselves. God is with us, and He is able to meet us in each moment, and help us navigate through each new day. As a teacher, Monday mornings can feel a bit anxiety causing, especially on a holiday that provides a plethora of sugar to kids for the coming week. He is good, and already knows. The Lord will give us the wisdom and grace we need to keep moving forward. May we ever seek our Savior and place our worries and burdens at the foot of the cross, for it is there that they have already been seen, known and overcome.

Because the Lord cares,

We need not worry;

All is in His hands,

So strong and sturdy.

Anxiety falls,

When given to Him;

The Lord holds us up,

And grants peace within.

Help us turn to You,

Throughout all our days;

You are the answer,

You show us the way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not worry or be anxious, for You are with us and remain present throughout all of our days. Forgive us for our fears and doubts that sneak in when we shift our gaze away from You. Teach us to ever trust in You and to lay all of our worries and concerns at Your feet. Show us how to let go and allow You to be Lord of all things. Lead us to love those around us as You do, so that Your hope and help are made clearly known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your faithfulness forever and find Your peace is plentiful as we seek You. Amen.

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

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6