Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. – (James 1:19, HCSB)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

Again, we stand at a crossroads. A friend posted something that truly made me cringe at the brutal honesty of it: the only significant change that we have made since Sandy Hook is that we now have active shooter drills. This hit hard. I cannot begin to pretend to know the answer, but I do know that we must be more willing to listen to potential solutions that do not include: run, hide, fight, kid, and good luck. As an educator, I have seen a significant increase in the depth of kids’ struggles. Health, safety and belonging are at an all-time low. There are many talking heads that get angered at the mere suggestion of changes that might actually help. We must start listening far more than we speak, and set anger aside so that we can come together, hear each other, and seek to bring change that makes a difference. O God help us, for we all need to listen with intention.

Dear Jesus, please come,

Show us what to do;

Protect our children,

May purpose be true.

Lead us and guide us,

To bring needed change;

Make schools a safe place,

Of peaceful exchange.

Help fears dissipate,

Let answers be found;

To protect each child,

Keep hearts and minds sound.

Lead us in Your love,

To listen and learn;

Please safeguard our schools,

As to You, we turn.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You instruct us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Jesus, we need Your help to do these things to bring true change that lasts. Forgive us for allowing politics and sides of the aisle to distract us from how to find solutions that keep our kids safe. Show us how to hear one another, and to be slow to speak with purpose, keeping anger in check so that hearts can be heard. Lead us to love well, as students and staff alike will be shaken at the news. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, for in You we come to know peace, safety, comfort and care. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom to listen and pursue true change to keep our babies safe. Amen.

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

But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. It is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help people who have trouble and do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. – James 3:17

To Look for Ways to Love

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. – (Romans 12:10, HCSB)

Love each other in a way that makes you feel close like brothers and sisters. And give each other more honor than you give yourself. – (Romans 12:10, ERV)

Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first. – (Romans 12:10, VOICE)

If we live and love like brothers and sisters, we look out for one another, take care of each other, and extend help where it is needed. Honoring and prioritizing others is to take our eyes off the mirror and look out the window. We must look to actually see how to love, honor and treat others with respect in a way that is a blessing. Something that I have learned is that if I look for ways to bless, honor and show love to those around me, I end up feeling blessed just knowing that a simple gesture encouraged or lifted another up. Yesterday was a rough Monday. Kids were off, and the pollen was pulsating through my sinus cavity. Thankfully, a long, hilly, sunny dog walk after a less than stellar school day set my heart back in the right space to look outward rather than within. This morning, God has granted fresh resolve, and has again given me the reminder to look for ways to love. It looks different for everyone, yet acts of kindness are always good for morale. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to love as He intended, and may we be willing to follow His heart with our every word and deed.

Choose love each other,

Like true family;

With care and kindness,

Protect and seek see.

Look for the spaces,

Depleted or down;

Encourage, extend,

Let kindness be found.

For we are all called,

Sisters and brothers;

To choose to love well,

Care for each other.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love and honor each other like family. Thank You that Jesus showed us what that can look like as He loved, served, helped and gave hope to those who were lacking. Forgive us for the times that we withdraw and cannot see past our own circumstances. Teach us to look up and out, so that we may find ways to bless, encourage and build others up, as we honor each other in love. Lead us to see and act upon spaces that we can bless and encourage those around us. Show us how to love those we encounter throughout our day in ways that make Your heart known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love those around us as family, and to honor each as You do. Amen.

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

This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. – John 15:12

At Peace With Each Other

Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus. – (Romans 15:5, HCSB)

All patience and encouragement come from God. And I pray that God will help you all agree with each other, as Christ Jesus wants. – (Romans 15:5, ERV)

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. – (Romans 15:5, NIV)

God provides the endurance and encouragement that we need to live in harmony with each other. He does not tell us to suck it up or figure it out, but rather He modeled for us what it is to live in harmony with one another through His Son, and then God supplies what we need to do the same. It is not easy, nor does it always come naturally, but continually seeking God to show us how to live in harmony with each other is worthwhile. Peace, patience, goodness and kindness find their way in when we earnestly seek the Lord. May we ever go to God to provide what we need so that we may live in harmony with those around us.

O Lord, please lead us,

In Your love and grace;

Provide what we need,

Throughout ev’ry day.

Grant us endurance,

When the days seem long;

Your encouragement,

So we can be strong.

Strong in Your mercy,

Full of love and grace;

At peace with others,

Your love leads the way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us patience, encouragement and endurance to live out our days in harmony with one another. Thank You that each day is new, and yesterday’s shortcomings do not determine today’s peace. Forgive us for our lack of seeking, or for holding onto things that divide rather than unite us. Teach us to follow Your example and to rely on You to provide what we need to be at peace with one another. Show us how to love and encourage one another in such a way that we find common ground and mutual respect for each other. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to supply all that we need to live in harmony with one another. Amen.

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

The Lord gives His people strength; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

Freedom Through His Love

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. – (Galatians 5:13, NIV)

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, ERV)

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love, that’s how freedom grows. – (Galatians 5:13, MSG)

God created us with a free will. Our freedom is ours to determine how to use or lose. When we indulge in decisions that are not what God intended, we can become trapped in a pattern and are no longer free. However, when we use our freedom to serve one another in love, we find that our freedom grows, and consequently, our joy multiplies. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us and grow us as we pursue a life of loving Him and loving one another.

We’re called to freedom,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

So let us choose well;

In love, opt to serve,

As His goodness dwells.

He dwells in each heart,

That chooses to ask;

He leads us to serve,

To love with each task.

For it’s only love,

That shows the Lord’s grace;

It sets all things right,

Brings peace to each place.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have called and created us to live in freedom. Thank You that as we love and serve and honor You, we grow in our understanding of what it is to be free from all that has hindered us in the past. Forgive us for holding onto things we should not. Teach us to release that which does not extend love to You or to those around us. Show us true freedom in You. Lead us to love those around us by serving and honoring each other. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we freely choose to serve one another in love. Amen.

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

For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His Name when you served the saints – and you continue to serve them. – Hebrews 6:10

Unity Through Love

Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say. That there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, HCSB)

Brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, I beg all of you to agree with each other. You should not be divided into different groups. Be completely joined together again with the same kind of thinking and the same purpose. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, ERV)

My brothers and sisters, I urge you by the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, to come together in agreement. Do not allow anything or anyone to create division among you. Instead, be restored, completely fastened together with one mind and shared judgment. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, VOICE)

It seems that what we are called to do is the very opposite of what popular culture is trying to instill in us. Everywhere I look, there are calls for division rather than unity. Instead of working to agree on the main things, and agreeing to disagree on lesser things, people are pitted against one another without conversation or seeking to understand. This space of agreeing with one another provides a place for unity. It must start within our households, then our churches, and then expand to communities at large. Our charge and our call is to love God and love one another. If we are earnestly seeking the Lord to lead us to do both, unity will follow. There is no room for hate and dissent if love is what leads. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love so that we might be joined together in common purpose as we love one another.

To live united,

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Is God’s own great plan;

He leads us in love,

Helps us understand.

For where we seek Him,

He will show the way;

To rise together,

United in faith.

For where there is faith,

There too should be love;

United purpose,

From the Lord above.

Turn off the tv,

And choose stop the scroll;

Seek the Lord to love,

As goodness unfolds.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your plan for us is to be united, not divided. Thank You that it is by Your love that we can find common ground and choose to agree to love. Forgive us for the times that we have found ourselves caught up in the dissent. Please redirect our hearts to focus on love. Show us how to be united instead of divided. Lead us to love on purpose with purpose, so that we may become united with those around us. Teach us to love those around us with different views and perspectives in a way that unites us together by choosing to love first. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love You and those around us in ways that bring unity.

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

Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus. – Romans 15:5

Gracious and Kind

Lord, be gracious to us! We wait for You. Be our strength every morning and our salvation in times of trouble. – (Isaiah 33:2, HCSB)

Lord, be kind to us. We have waited for Your help. Give us strength every morning. Save us when we are in trouble. – (Isaiah 33:2, ERV)

God, treat us kindly. You’re our only hope. First thing in the morning, be there for us! When things go bad, help us out! – (Isaiah 33:2, MSG)

We’ve been waiting for You, Eternal One, to come and shower us with grace. In the morning, be our strength; in times of trouble, be what saves us. – (Isaiah 33:2, VOICE)

God is gracious and kind to us; He grants us new strength every morning and is faithful to be present in times of trouble. This has been the longest spring that I can recall. The gray, rainy gloom has persisted far beyond what is typical this time of year, and the challenges at work with student behaviors and sub shortages, have taken their toll on many. Without seeking the Lord for new strength each morning, I can’t imagine attempting to navigate this season. He is faithful to meet me each morning, and He shows me His goodness and love throughout the day. In moments of challenge, I try to focus on what is good. Right now, the good thing is that we have only seventeen more wake-ups this school year. Staff and students alike are ready for time this summer to rest and recharge. What seventeen days remaining means is that we have successfully navigated one-hundred and sixty three days so far. If He has been faithful for all of those, why would He stop now? May we ever seek the Lord and His grace, for He is faithful to provide what we need to navigate each new day.

The Lord, He is good,

He’s gracious and kind;

Our help, hope and strength,

Just as He designed.

Designed with purpose,

His grace is enough;

To meet all our needs,

When the road is rough.

He shows us His strength,

And surrounds with love;

Equips to press on,

Our Father above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are gracious to us; ever faithful to be our strength anew every morning, and You help us navigate every challenge that comes our way. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations when we encounter trials and challenges. Help us to ever seek You and press into all that You provide so that we may do what You have for us to do, and become who You designed us to be. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You to be gracious and kind, and to provide all that we need to navigate each new day. Amen.

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

You crown the year with Your goodness; Your ways overflow with plenty. – Psalm 65:11

What Wisdom Can Do

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. – (James 3:17, HCSB)

But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. It is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help people who have trouble and to do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. – (James 3:17, ERV)

Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. – (James 3:17, VOICE)

We all need God’s wisdom in this age of seeming constant dissent. If we are able to view all things through a pure lens that is peaceful, gentle and easy to please, we will be ever ready to help people and do good for others. However, if we allow our own jaded perspective to lead, we tend to want to fight or argue, not seek to listen and bring peace. May we be wise in our reliance on God and ever seek His wisdom to lead us, so that we might be bearers of peace, ready to help and do good for those around us.

The wisdom of God,

Is peaceful and pure;

It’s gentle and kind,

With love that’s assured.

It’s ready to help,

Sisters and brothers;

To ever do good,

Supporting others.

Wisdom will listen,

Seek to understand;

And be slow to speak,

Pursue the Lord’s plan.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have a plan and a purpose for each of us. Thank You that as we seek You, You show us all that You have for us. Thank You that wisdom from You is pure, peaceful, gentle and easy to please. Thank You that Your wisdom equips us to help others and to do good. Thank You that Your wisdom is always honest and fair. Forgive us for the times that we neglect the wisdom that You provide and do things our own way. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would move in the wisdom and grace that You provide. Show us how to be ever pure, peaceful, gentle and easy to please. Lead us to love others in such a way that we help practically and tangibly, ever seeking to do good for one another. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom to lead us each new day. Amen.

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

Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. – Psalm 90:12

So Love Shines Through

For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His name when you served the saints – and you continue to serve them. – (Hebrews 6:10, HCSB)

God is fair, and He will remember all the work you have done. He will remember that you showed your love to Him by helping His people and that you continue to help them. – (Hebrews 6:10, ERV)

Because God is not unjust or unfair, He won’t overlook the work you have done or the love you have carried to each other in His name while doing His work, as you are still doing. – (Hebrews 6:10, VOICE)

When we love and serve those around us like Jesus, He sees, knows and remembers. He is pleased when we love others as He has loved us. We do not do these things to get something, but rather it is out of the overflow of all that He has done for us that we are propelled to do likewise. May we ever be aware of the goodness of God and how He loves us, so that we may go forth and serve in love, helping those around us like Him.

The Lord is faithful,

He sees what we do;

Not for a reward,

But so love shines through.

Each time we choose love,

Show kindness and serve;

The Lord is well pleased,

For good is observed.

Not our own goodness,

But rather, it’s His;

To do what He’s done,

And give as He gives.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us Your goodness, kindness, mercy and love, over and over again. Thank You that it is from that place of knowing Your grace, that we are equipped and empowered to love and serve like You. Thank You that You see and remember and are pleased when we love others as You intended. Forgive us for the times that we have not. Teach us to seek You and trust You to lead us to love and serve well in every situation and circumstance. Show us how to love and serve each person we meet, so that they might gain glimpses of Your goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love and serve out of the overflow of all that You continue to pour into us. Amen.

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

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

All Through Him

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. – (Romans 11:36, HCSB)

Yes, God made all things. And everything continues through Him and for Him. To God be the glory forever! Amen. – (Romans 11:36, ERV)

Everything comes from Him; everything happens through Him; everything ends up in Him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes. – (Romans 11:36, MSG)

As we draw ever closer to the close of what has been the most challenging school year yet, I cannot help but give God praise for all He has done throughout every day. He has provided strength in our weariness, and hope in spaces of despair. Today, we begin the twenty-day countdown. Twenty more school-day wakeups and the year will be done. I don’t know about you, but when the days remaining are countable on our fingers and toes, it seems far more manageable. This morning, as I prepare for my day, not only do I present my requests for strength and peace and patience and love, but also, I give God praise for all He has done, is doing, and will continue to do. May we rise with purpose and make the most of each day that we draw breath.

Twenty days remain,

Home stretch…

Until we are through;

Year never-ending,

Almost done, it’s true.

God has been faithful,

To provide our needs;

His grace, sufficient,

And His love exceeds.

On the darkest days, 

In Him, was still light;

The song in our hearts,

Hope, love and delight.

Let us choose rise up,

With purpose, go forth;

Love one another,

And bask in God’s warmth.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all things are in You, from You, with You and through You; for You lead, guide, sustain and strengthen us to do more than we ever hoped or imagined. Forgive us for losing sight of the truth of who You are and how You carry us when our strength is gone. Teach us to trust and praise You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us, so that they may know glimpses of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You forever for who You are and how You lovingly lead us through all things. Amen.

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

All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. – John 1:3

Present to Save

Yahweh your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring you quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy. – (Zephaniah 3:17, HCSB)

The Lord your God is with you. He is like a powerful soldier. He will save you. He will show how much He loves you and how happy He is with you. He will laugh and be happy about you. – (Zephaniah 3:17, ERV)

Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, He’ll calm you with His love and delight you with His songs. – (Zephaniah 3:17, MSG)

God is with us. He is ready to fight on our behalf and save us. As our Father, He delights in His children and brings comfort and peace. We can trust Him to be who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do. I find myself in an odd season of life. I know far too many friends who are fighting sickness and disease, yet incredibly, they are each holding on in faith and trusting God as they fight. It is because they know the goodness of God, that they are able to fight and trust and know peace. I’m not sure where I am going with this, other than when we don’t know what to do, God does. He sees, He knows and He cares, and He is with us through all things. May we ever seek the Lord who is present among us, and trust Him to fight, to bring us peace, and to be the hope that we hold in our hearts.

The Lord is present,

Photo by Lukas Rodriguez on Pexels.com

He’s mighty to save;

He’s willing to fight,

For us, each new day.

He takes joy in us,

Because we are His;

His love brings us peace,

He does what He says.

Faithful forever,

In Him we can trust;

Seek Him in all things,

He is good and just.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful forever, and that we can trust in You in all things and at all times. Thank You that no matter what comes our way, You remain present to help. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when things seem dismal. Lead us in Your love, for with You, there is always hope and help. Teach us to love those around us in ways that convey Your goodness and faithfulness forever. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to trust You to be who You say You are, and to do what You say You will do. Amen.

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

Turn, Lord! Rescue me; save me because of Your faithful love. – Psalm 6:4