Joyful Confidence

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, NIV) 

And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, ERV) 

But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, proven character leads us back to hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, TPT) 

This morning, as I made my way in the wee hours of darkness, to go dog walking with a dear friend, I heard these very same verses being spoken on the radio. Both this morning and when I did my devotional reading this evening, I took pause and determined that I have so far to go. The Passions Translation is the one that I can most closely relate to, as it points to the joyful confidence in the midst of struggle, and that something good can come from pressure or pain. When we place our confidence in Christ, even in the mist of struggle, we discover that there is joy in Him. Patient endurance, character and hope, are all part of the beauty that come from our ashes. Right now, what I have spent the last twenty-four years of my life doing, has been flipped upside down and makes me feel like a brand-new teacher all over again. The learning curve required is cumbersome and challenging, yet I know that the more that I patiently persevere, the greater the chance that I will learn and grow. It is in that space of growing, that I find hope again. Hope that I can reach and teach kids, regardless of whether it is online or in person, and hope that one day, I will get to teach in a regular classroom again, face-to-face with my students. God uses our trials and difficulties to grow and refine us. It is always far easier to look back and see what He has done, than it is to recognize that He can work all things together for good in the middle of the messy. May we seek the Lord in our suffering and in our blessings, knowing that He can move mightily in all things, and produce the hope that shows our heart how to endure and overcome. 

No matter what comes, 

May our hearts find joy; 

Not in the heartache, 

But God’s grace employed. 

Beauty from ashes, 

Is what we all need; 

Character building, 

In hope, He will lead. 

May we each rise up, 

In Christ, persevere; 

For He overcomes, 

Always, He is near. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You can utilize our every experience and circumstance to produce good in us and through us. Forgive us for our desire to get out of difficult situations the moment they strike. Teach us to trust You more so that we might joyfully embrace You and all that You provide in the midst of our messes. Show us how to love those around us in ways that encourage patience and perseverance, every pointing to hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to take joy in You in the midst of difficult, as You grow patience, perseverance, character and hope within us Amen. 

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

…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair… – Isaiah 61:3

Accept One Another

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. – (Romans 15:7, NIV) 

Christ accepted you, so, you should accept each other. This will bring honor to God. – (Romans 15:7, ERV) 

You will bring God glory when you accept and welcome one another as partners, just as the Anointed One has fully accepted you and received you as His partner. – (Romans 15:7, TPT) 

Accepting one another as Christ accepts us, means choosing to love, regardless of the former reasons that may have kept us apart. Our charge is to choose to love. Love does not tear down because of differences of opinions, lifestyles, philosophies, or the like. Christ is our ultimate example, and He chose those whom society would have considered ill-equipped to partner with the Son of God. If Christ can welcome those whom the world did not, shouldn’t we? God does not call the equipped, He equips the called. Every one of us who seeks the Lord and grants Him access to our heart and life, is able to walk in His will and choose to love and welcome those around us. Each day, each hour, and every moment, it is a choice. May we ever seek the Lord to grant us His heart and His eyes for those around us so that we accept and welcome one another as He does for us. 

The Lord is calling, 

For us to rise up; 

To love each other, 

Fill each other’s cup. 

May we choose partner, 

With God and accept; 

All those around us, 

None more and none less. 

For in the same way, 

God’s love knows no bounds; 

We’re asked to choose love, 

So His love is found. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us over and over again how to accept and partner with one another. You did not call people who had it all together, but rather You equipped those whom You called. Forgive us for the times that we have avoided accepting or partnering with others because their views did not align with our own. Teach us to seek and trust You to lead us in love. Show us how to love in a way that accepts others and builds them up, just as You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in loving and accepting those around us as You do. Amen.  

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

A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34

Faithful Reign

Be glad people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the autumn rains because He is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains as before. – (Joel 2:23, NIV) 

So be happy people of Zion. Be joyful in the Lord your God. He is good and will give you rain. He will send the early rains and the late rains as before. – (Joel 2:23, ERV) 

People of Zion, shout with joy and happiness in the Eternal, your God; The drought is over; He has sent the early autumn rain as a sign of His faithfulness. He has poured down heavy rain, autumn and spring, as before. – (Joel 2:23, VOICE) 

Friday afternoon, I imagine many of us could relate to this verse in Joel, as the skies opened up and poured down a deluge of refreshing, cleansing rain. Though it was not to save our crops as it was back then, it was a tremendous aid in cleansing the smoke-filled air, all over our area. By yesterday afternoon, we were celebrating His goodness as we could again see blue sky and defined clouds, rather than a smokey haze all around us. The air quality went from unsafe to normal overnight. There is joy in Him, as He is the One who sends the rain and shows us His faithfulness, again and again. May we ever seek Him and praise Him to provide all that we need; for He is faithful forever. 

O Lord, send Your rain, 

For You know our need; 

You cover and bless, 

As You’re sought, You meet. 

Please reign in our lives, 

So love and light show; 

Cleanse us and lead us, 

Let Your heart be known. 

For goodness and grace, 

We ever give praise; 

Trusting in You Lord, 

Throughout all our days. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us tangible reminders of how You cleanse and bless and provide. Thank You that You reign, regardless of what we see around us. Forgive us for our lack of faith or trust in spaces that seem beyond our understanding. Teach us to trust and rely on You more. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness and provision known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for Your faithful reign in our lives. Amen. 

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

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. – Psalm 97:1

Choose Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! – (Philippians 4:4, NIV) 

Always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy. – (Philippians 4:4, ERV) 

Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! – (Philippians 4:4, TPT) 

After navigating the first week of school, despite all of the challenges and adjustments to an entirely new way of teaching, I find myself with a heart full of joy. God is good, all the time. Even when things are tough, He is still good. When we seek Him and look to Him to be our joy, we discover the countless ways that He is good. For me, the best thing about remote learning is my new group of kids. These sixth graders are sweet, polite, engaged, and have wonderful senses of humor. There is something to be said about keeping these great kids from too much exposure to the older kids, as they too quickly attempt to change who they are to fit in, during a “normal” school year. As I began to read the surveys that I had my students submit, my joy multiplied. From favorite family traditions to things that inspire them to do their best, these young people blessed my heart to overflowing, and joy abounds. I am reminded again and again, that God grants me joy, and fills my heart to overflowing. May we rejoice in the Lord, always, for He plants His joy deep within us, and fills our days with reason to praise. 

Be cheerful. Find joy, 

In each circumstance; 

For the Lord grants us, 

Hope and second chance. 

Even in trials, 

The Lord’s always good; 

Grants silver lining, 

His hope understood. 

Each day we’re given, 

Help us to rejoice; 

Joy on the journey, 

Is truly a choice. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and bless us with Your deep-rooted joy as we seek You. Thank You that there is always a reason to rejoice in You. Forgive us for our frustration and grumbling when things become difficult. Teach us to rejoice in the hope we have in You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that spread joy in all things and all seasons. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and rejoice in You, always. Amen. 

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

…for the joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

He Leads Those Who Seek

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. – (Psalm 143:10, NIV) 

Show me what You want me to do. You are my God. Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. – (Psalm 143:10, ERV) 

I just want to obey all You ask of me. So teach me, Lord, for You are my God. Your gracious Spirit is all I need, so lead me on good paths that are pleasing to You, my one and only God! – (Psalm 143:10, TPT) 

Today has been the most unusual first day of school ever. We were startled awake both at 2:00 and 4:00 am, as the power flickered off and on. As early risers, both my husband and I were up, had breakfast and coffee, and were preparing for the day before the power completely went out. Through social media posts and texting with colleagues, I discovered much of our city was without power, yet it appeared that the school still did. After having spent much of the weekend preparing and setting up my virtual classroom at home, I was a bit concerned about having to go on campus to teach in a space that I had not prepared. This is where the trust kicked in, and I packed up all that I thought I might need, and began driving to school. Two minutes prior to my arrival, the school district “robocall” came through and announced that school was cancelled for the day because the power outages were so widespread. I was able to return home to my boys with breakfast for them, and simply was granted the luxury of a day in one another’s company. The added bonus is that power was just restored in our home about a half an hour ago, and I still have a bit of time to organize and sort things out for tomorrow. God is good and His grace is enough when we choose trust Him. May we ever seek the Lord and pursue His path, for He is a good and faithful God, ready to show us His ways. 

Lord, teach me to do, 

My home office this morning…

What You would call good; 

Please show me Your ways, 

So they’re understood. 

In each circumstance, 

My eyes fixed on You; 

Lead me and guide me, 

So Your love shines through. 

No matter what comes, 

Your grace is enough; 

You’re faithful always, 

O Father, above. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are willing to teach us Your will and show us how to walk in Your way, as we choose to seek and follow You. Forgive us for the times that we have made You less than You are. Show us how to trust You completely, especially in the new and unknown. Lead us to love those around us well, so that they too may discover Your faithfulness to those who seek You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to teach us and lead us in the ways that are pleasing to You. Amen. 

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

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

Everything In Love

Do everything in love. – (1 Corinthians 16:14, NIV) 

Love without stopping. – (1 Corinthians 16:14, MSG) 

Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do. – (1 Corinthians 16:14, TPT) 

This is critical for me to remember as I utilize my final day prior to the start of the new school year, to prepare for the week that lies ahead. When I keep the main things, the main things, my motivation for all that I do to prepare, is love. In the same way that my colleagues are kind with me as we navigate this year’s journey together, my desire is that EVERYTHING I say and do is motivated by love and kindness. Each lesson, activity and presentation need to be delivered with love and kindness. Our kids have not had a “normal” day of school since March 13th; nor have we. Routine will feel and look different than it ever has before, yet there will be full class periods with curriculum, lessons, assignments, and assessments that will be counted toward grades and advancement. The task and the challenge will be to connect with kids in such a way, that they feel safe, known, and ready to learn. My hope and prayer are that I will be able to connect and get to know each student as they enter my classroom (virtual as it is), so that I may discover how to best assist them in their learning and well-being. This is no small desire, yet if love and kindness are my motivation, the seemingly insurmountable, will be possible. May we ever seek the Lord to be our love and strength, so that we may navigate this year with love and kindness in all that we say and do. 

Let everything, 

That I say and do; 

Be done in Your love, 

So kindness shines through. 

Each word, thought and deed, 

Be wrapped in Your care; 

May I shine Your light, 

To the world, out there. 

Help everyone, 

To know love and grace; 

Through kindness given, 

Throughout ev’ry day. 

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You that You give us love and kindness in abundance. Thank You that You call us to do the same for all those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our egos, frustrations or fears to dictate what we give to those around us. Teach us to lean into You in faith, as You grant us love and kindness for all. Show us how to do everything in love, so all may know Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to do everything in love. Amen. 

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

True Community

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. – (1 Corinthians 12:26, NIV) 

If one part of the body suffers, then all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part is honored, then all the other parts share its honor. – (1 Corinthians 12:26, ERV) 

In that way, whatever happens to one member happens to all. If one suffers, everyone suffers. If one is honored, everyone rejoices. – (1 Corinthians 12:26, TPT) 

If we are truly living in community as we are called to do, our love for one another compels us to know and love each other so deeply, that when one is hurting – we all hurt; and when one is honored, we all rejoice with them. In a close-knit family, this is a natural response to one another. However, to become a body that cares for one another in the way that God intended, requires an investment of time and devotion to each other. As we grow in understanding and care for one another, we naturally mourn with those who mourn, and celebrate with those who celebrate. As a body, a true community, we come together with compassion and empathy. May we seek the Lord to show us and grow us in how to be in community with those around us. 

Lord, teach us to love, 

 One to another; 

With Your compassion, 

For sisters, brothers. 

Show us how to love, 

In ways that are clear; 

Through mourning and joy, 

Let all know You’re near. 

Show us how to mourn, 

With those stuck in grief; 

And how to rejoice, 

As they find relief. 

Help us walk beside, 

Helping each other; 

As You do for us, 

One to another. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to community in such a way, that we have empathy for those around us. Thank You that You call us to both mourn with those who are suffering, and to celebrate with those who are experiencing blessing. Forgive us for neglecting one and embracing the other, or for not investing well enough in those around us to know when either is taking place. Show us how to love as You love; for You walked among the broken and lifted up the downtrodden. Lead us to have compassion and empathy for those around us, no matter what season they find themselves in. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to have compassion and empathy for all those around us. Amen. 

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

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2

Purposed for Community

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, NIV) 

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, ERV) 

In the human body there are many parts and organs, each with a unique function. And so it is in the body of Christ. For though we are many, we’ve all been mingled into one body in Christ. This means that we are all vitally joined to one another, with each contributing to the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, TPT) 

I love how God granted wisdom to those who recorded the letters of the Bible in ways that were relateable and applicable throughout the ages. For me, these verses apply to so many areas in life; any organization or group that we fall into, requires just such thinking for success. What I mean is simply that we all have different gifts, strengths, talents, and more to contribute, yet it is when we work together as a whole, good things occur. In a family unit, when each of us do our best with the strengths and gifts that we have been given, with the intent of contributing to the family as a whole, things are accomplished and peace and love prevail. In the school setting, this holds true as well, as each person who enters campus has a function to contribute to both the process and the progress of the purpose being carried out. From administrators to counselors, teachers to security officers, custodians to librarians, support staff to specialists, students and parents alike – all can either help or hinder the functionality of a school. In the same way that I listed the various roles of the body that makes up a school community, so too, does the Bible speak of the various roles and functions of those who join together as a church community, with the common purpose of loving God and loving people well.  

As I prepare for day one of back-to-school training, I am considering my own role and function, and what I might be able to contribute to the whole. For me, I live, love and fulfill my role best, when I am investing in growing – body, heart, soul and mind. Growth only occurs when we are intentional to invest our time into learning and placing what we learn into action. This is true for physical training, academic advancement, and living and loving in ways that not only contribute to the whole, but that spur others on to do the same. May we ever seek the Lord to strengthen and grow us in Him, so that we may contribute to our communities with purpose, and see the great value in each of those around us as they do the same. 

We all have a role, 

That we’re to fulfill; 

Wherever we are, 

There’s room for growth still. 

God made us to grow, 

To improve, to thrive; 

To love each other, 

Do more than survive. 

In order to thrive, 

We need each other; 

Mother and father, 

Sister and brother. 

So, let us each rise, 

And purpose to grow; 

Body, mind and heart, 

Let God’s best be shown. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to thrive in community. Thank You that You designed each of us with a role and purpose in each “group” to which we belong – be it church, family, neighborhood, city and more. Forgive us for the times that we have remained stagnant, or have not sought to grow and contribute in the ways in which we have been created to do, as well as for the times that we placed some sort of hierarchy on those around us and the roles that they fulfill. Not one is more important than the other; for all are needed to function and fulfill their purpose best. Show us how to learn and grow, value and live out the very best that You have for our communities. Lead us to love one another in such a way, that each member feels valued and encouraged to do their best and invest in ongoing growth. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest, value, and contribute to each body that we are blessed to be considered a member. Amen. 

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

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. – Psalm 85:10

Glory Where It Is Due

Not to us, Lord, not to us but to Your Name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness. – (Psalm 115:1, NIV) 

Lord, You should receive the honor, not us. The honor belongs to You because of Your faithful love and loyalty. – (Psalm 115:1, ERV) 

God, glorify Your Name! Yes, Your Name alone be glorified, not ours. For You are the one who loves us passionately, and You are faithful and true. – (Psalm 115:1, TPT) 

Everything good, everything that is praiseworthy, comes from God alone. We are His created and when we pursue a life lived to please and honor Him, He uses our willingness for good. Nothing that we say or do that is excellent or favorable come from us on our own, but rather is only possible because of God’s love and faithfulness. May we ever seek the Lord and His will, and give all glory to Him. 

All glory to God, 

We lift up Your Name; 

For Your worthiness, 

Deserves our acclaim. 

Glory and power, 

Alone, God, are Yours; 

All good that exists, 

Through love that endures. 

Teach us to seek You, 

To follow Your lead; 

To love as You do, 

So Your glory’s seen. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and lead us in ways that can lead to incredible good. Thank You that all is because of You. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to give glory to You, or live in such a way that Your good is not being made known. Show us how to live and love in such a way, that You are glorified for all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we seek to do the good You intend for us to do, and give You the glory in all things that reflect who You are and how You love. Amen. 

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

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests. – Luke 2:14

Love That Will Not Cease

By day the Lord directs His love, at night His song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life. – (Psalm 42:8, NIV) 

By day the Lord shows His faithful love, and at night I have a song for Him – a prayer for the God of my life. – (Psalm 42:8, ERV) 

Yet all day long God’s promises of love pour over me. Through the night I sing His songs, for my prayer to God has become my life. – (Psalm 42:8, TPT) 

No matter what is going on, it never ceases to amaze me how God makes His love tangible. He provides His peace, His comfort, His strength and His grace to navigate whatever comes our way. It is in this space at the end of the day, that I cannot help but give Him praise for His loving ways. As I pray, the peace that settles is like a song for the soul; His song. May we ever seek the God of all comfort and lift our prayers unto Him, for He shows us His faithful love each day. 

Each day the Lord’s near, 

With His faithful love; 

His presence surrounds, 

With songs from above. 

The God of my life, 

Gives comfort and peace; 

Faithful forever, 

His love will not cease. 

So, lift up a song, 

To Him give all praise; 

Life, love and prayer, 

For all of our days. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your loving kindness that surrounds us each day. Thank You that You are our strength and our song, as You are faithful forever. Forgive us for our fears and lack of faith, for You remain the same, always. Teach us to trust You and sing praise to You, as Your love surrounds us each day. Show us how to love one another as You would have us love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we become increasingly aware of Your loving presence, and give You praise for who You are. Amen. 

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

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. – Psalm 36:5