Pause and Praise

We give thanks to You, God; we give thanks to You, for Your name is near. People tell about Your wonderful works. – (Psalm 75:1, HCSB)

We praise You, God! We praise You because You are near to us. We tell about the amazing things You have done. – (Psalm 75:1, ERV)

We thank You, O True God. Our souls are overflowing with thanks! Your name is near; Your people remember and tell of Your marvelous works and wonders. – (Psalm 75:1, VOICE)

There are always reasons to give thanks to God. As we wake and draw breath to begin another day, we have reason to give thanks. For the roof over our heads, the comfort of our own beds, friends and family near and far – so many reasons to praise the One who provides it all. God is as close as our next breath, as present as each beat of our heart, and the wonder of His works does not end. He gives us life, love, joy, peace, strength and more. All the beauty that surrounds us is the work of His loving hands. May we take time to give God thanks for His presence and all that He has done as we begin each brand new day. 

God, we give You thanks,

For all that You do;

How love provides all,

All goodness from You.

Each time we’ve conquered,

In You, overcome;

The strength You’ve given,

The battles You’ve won.

All by Your strong hands,

Full of love and grace;

Hope made tangible,

Let us praise Your Name.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for who You are and how You love. Thank You that You are ever near, and that You move on our behalf. Thank You for the countless blessings You have given us. Forgive us for not making the time to simply give You thanks. Teach us to always have a long list of gratitude for You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too may recognize Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we intentionally pause and praise You for who You are and all that You have done. Amen.

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

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. – Exodus 15:2

Look to the Heart

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, HCSB)

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Eliab is tall and handsome, but don’t judge by things like that. God doesn’t look at what people see. People judge by what is on the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart. Eliab is not the right man.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, ERV)

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, MSG)

This passage is from when God called Samuel to go and anoint the one who was to succeed Saul as king. To the ordinary observer, David’s older brothers seemed to be far more appropriate candidates. However, God saw so much more. In David, God saw a man after His own heart. David had the heart of a warrior and a worshiper – both of which God used while David grew and learned the faithfulness of God as he faced a giant with a sling and a stone, and later led a nation as he sang and danced praising God for His faithfulness. Incredibly, what this shows us is that we never know who God is raising up for great things. Our task is to love and encourage all, and to look past appearances and instead see the heart. I know in relationships, the people I am most drawn to have beautiful hearts. The more I get to know them, the more I see who they are radiating through, and recognize what draws others in. As a teacher, this is critical. We never know who the next leaders, doctors, pastors, educators, community advocates, parents and more are in the ones seated in our classrooms. Each has been created with a purpose, and it is our job to help strengthen the heart so that they can see their own potential and pursue all that God has for them. May we ever seek the Lord to give us His eyes to see, so that we may encourage those around us in the strengths that they have been given, and glorify God for His goodness.

Look not at the face,

But rather the heart;

The true character,

Where seeing must start.

For we never know,

All that God has planned;

Purpose He has placed,

In women and men.

A mere shepherd boy,

Was anointed king;

Despite appearance,

Beyond what was seen.

God looks at our hearts,

The strengths found within;

His plan and purpose,

Waiting to begin.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see beyond what others see. Thank You that You look to the heart to lead us into all that You have for us. Forgive us for selling others short based on what we see. Teach us to look through Your lens so that we see the potential and promise in everyone we meet. Lead us to love those around us in ways that encourage and strengthen each in the gifts and talents You have placed in them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, and trust in You to lead them to walk out their purpose. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to help us see others as You do. Amen.

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

The One who chose you will do that for you. You can trust Him. – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Whatever is Good

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. – (Philippians 4:8, NIV)

Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. – (Philippians 4:8, ERV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. – (Philippians 4:8, VOICE)

Yesterday, my Viking and I drove more than 500 miles to spend the extended weekend with my sister and her family to watch and support her eldest son as he is living out his baseball dream. With such a long drive, there is much time to think. For both Mark and I, the thing that stood out to us was the incredible beauty that unfolded before us. Yes, there are parts of the drive that are dry and dusty, yet it took little time for green fields to unfold under clear blue skies, and at one point, we were able to see two of our area’s mountains from the opposite side. For me, anytime that I travel, see family, or get outside, I cannot help but stand in awe of the One who made it all. There is so much good, lovely and praiseworthy, even when things in the world do not seem honorable or right. God always is. His character does not change, so when we fix our eyes on Him, the things that we ought to set our sights on become obvious. May we ever seek the Lord and give Him praise, as we focus on His beauty and truth that demonstrate and grant both goodness and direction throughout all our days.

O Lord lead our hearts,

Throughout all our days;

To focus on You,

And choose give You praise.

For all that is good,

And right, pure and true;

Your very nature,

That will lead us through.

Help us to follow,

For all of our days;

Your heart, word, Spirit,

By Your loving grace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us what is honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy as we seek You and spend time in Your word. Forgive us for diverting our attention from the things You show us. Teach us to keep our hearts and minds fixed on the good that You intend for us. Lead us to love those around us as You do, and show us how to demonstrate Your heart to the world. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we fix our eyes, hearts and minds on all that is lovely, good, pure and right, and let us give You proper praise for who You are and all that You do. Amen.

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

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. – 2 Peter 1:3

He’ll Lead Through All

God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. – (Psalm 46:1, HCSB)

God is our protection and source of strength. He is always ready to help us in times of trouble. – (Psalm 46:1, ERV)

God is our shelter and our strength. When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help. So why run and hide? – (Psalm 46:1, VOICE)

I imagine many of us can attest to the truth of this verse after the last few years. At times, it has felt as if the whole world has been flipped upside down. Thankfully, God does not change. He is our help and hope, strength and source, and the One whose love knows no end. It is up to us to turn to Him to be these things, but He is ever-present and available. May we ever run to the Lord to be our refuge, strength and help in times of trouble, and the One to whom we ought to bring our thanks and praise.

God is our shelter,

To where we should run;

In Him there’s no fear,

How battles are won.

He too is our strength,

How we persevere;

Help to keep moving,

Ever He is near.

No matter what comes,

The Lord is greater;

He’ll lead us through all,

Holy Creator.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our shelter and strength, our safe space when things don’t make sense. Thank You that we can always call on You and trust that You hear. Forgive us for the times that we have struggled to trust. Teach us to look back and remember Your faithfulness that has always been, and grow our faith further as we press on. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your goodness, grace, safety and help. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our refuge, strength and help in all things and at all times. Amen.

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

We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. – Psalm 33:20

Splendor and Majesty

Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. – (Psalm 96:6, HCSB)

He lives in the presence of glory and honor. His Temple is a place of power and beauty. – (Psalm 96:6, ERV)

Honor and majesty precede Him; strength and beauty infuse His holy sanctuary. – (Psalm 96:6, VOICE)

When I think of the splendor and majesty of God, I cannot help but look to the beauty and strength found in His creation. Currently, my Viking and I are on a little anniversary getaway in Westport, Washington. It is a coastal town that is known for its great fishing, and we have settled into a wooded oasis in our travel trailer. The lush green around us, and the sound of foghorns on the water nearby, all point to the creativity and power of God. I am so grateful for the reminders all around us, for if there is this much beauty and power here on earth, how much more in heaven in His presence? Amazingly, His Temple is no longer a structure that we have to go to in order to be in God’s presence. We are His Temple in which He dwells. That means that the power and beauty that made all things resides in all who invite Him in. For me, this is a reminder that our prayers are powerful, and that we are gaining glimpses of Him through all that His hands have made that surround us. May we ever seek Him and praise Him for all that He has made, and give thanks for how present and available He is within us.

The Lord is so great,

Worthy of all praise;

His strength and beauty,

And His loving ways.

His hands created,

All that we can see;

He dwells within us,

Leads purposefully.

Open our eyes Lord,

Remind us anew;

Of all that You are,

And all that You do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are given glimpses of Your splendor and majesty, strength and beauty, through all that surrounds us. Thank You that we are the temple of Your Holy Spirit, so the same power that has created, cared, and covered us all can live within us. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your majesty. Teach us to recognize the beauty and power in all that You have created, and show us how to appreciate and take in all that You have made. Show us how to love those around us in ways that honor You, for each of us has been created with a plan and a purpose. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we witness the glory of You in all that surrounds us and give You praise for who You are. Amen.

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

Lord, who is like You among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, revered with praises, performing wonders? – Exodus 15:11

The Giver of Good Gifts

Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. – (James 1:17, HCSB)

Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from Him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same. – (James 1:17, ERV)

Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. He is consistent. He won’t change His mind or play tricks in the shadows. – (James 1:17, VOICE)

God is ALWAYS good. Everything good comes from Him. Though life and circumstances are not always what we might hope for, God is who and what remains good. He does not change and we can trust in His unending faithfulness. I love that James is referring to God as the Father of lights. He is our light in the darkness, and He illuminates good in spaces where it is seemingly absent. May we turn to God, the Father of lights, to see all of the good and perfect gifts that He has for all who trust in Him. 

The Lord is so good,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

The Father of lights;

Our Light in darkness,

In whom we delight.

Each good gift given,

That we have received;

From God, our Father,

Who knows all our needs.

Help us Lord Jesus,

Ever be aware;

Of Your sweet presence,

And how much You care.

In our dark spaces,

You bring us Your light;

Love, grace and laughter,

Our hope and delight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Father of lights, and that in You, there are no shadows. Thank You that every good gift comes from You. Forgive us for the times that we are blind to Your light or unable to recognize the good gifts that You are providing. Teach us to trust in You and be ever aware of Your nearness and love. Show us how to love one another and share the good gifts that You provide to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You, the Father of lights, and the giver of every good gift. Amen.

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

So if you, who are sinful, know how to give your children good gifts, how much more so does your Father in heaven, who is perfect, know how to give great gifts to His children! – Matthew 7:11

The Beauty of Intentional Design

I look at the heavens You made with Your hands. I see the moon and stars You created. And I wonder, “Why are people so important to You? Why do you even think about them? Why do You care so much about humans? Why do You even notice them?” – (Psalm 8:3-4, ERV)

I look up at Your macro-skies, dark and enormous, Your handmade sky-jewelry, moon and stars mounted in their settings. Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, why do You bother with us? Why take a second look our way? – (Psalm 8:3-4, MSG)

When I gaze to the skies and meditate on Your creation – on the moon, stars, and all You have made, I can’t help but wonder why You care about mortals – sons and daughters of men – specks of dust floating about the cosmos. – (Psalm 8:3-4, VOICE)

Between living in the Pacific Northwest, and having been blessed with numerous opportunities to see new locations around the world, I share David’s sentiment of awe and wonder at how people are considered the priority to God, who created so much magnificent beauty. We are but a speck of dust in comparison to the entire universe. The glory that surrounds us in His creation is clear evidence of God’s existence. As humans, we are still learning and discovering just how vast God’s creation actually is, and I imagine the discoveries will not end. God, who is timeless and endless, created more than our minds can conceive, yet intentionally hand-crafted each one of us to be unique with strengths, talents, personalities and more. We all were created with purpose and possibilities, accompanied with a free will to determine just how we might use what we have been given. The more I learn, the more I desire to honor and serve the Lord. His goodness and love are as vast as the universe, and His capacity to care for us knows no end. May we ever seek the Lord to reveal more and more of who He is and all that He has done so that we might recognize and honor God as we should.

May we choose look up,

No filter, Sunrise in Belize taken on my phone…<3

Survey all we see;

All that surrounds us,

God’s own majesty.

The stars in the sky,

Created and known;

The mountains and seas,

The Lord’s power shown.

Each work of His hand,

Intentionally;

Formed with a purpose,

Beyond what we see.

Each human on earth,

Is by God’s design;

Made with a purpose,

His love intertwined.

May we stand in awe,

Of all that He’s made;

Give all thanks to Him,

The Ancient of Days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of all that You have created! Thank You for so much beauty all around us. Forgive us for making You too small, for the God who created everything and everyone is able to do abundantly more than we could hope or imagine. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, even when things around us seem crazy or impossible. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us well, so that they may recognize Your heart for all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand in awe of how You love and care for us. Amen.

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

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. – Psalm 19:1

The Helper

This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – (Romans 5:5, HCSB)

And this hope will never disappoint us. We know this because God has poured out His love to fill our hearts through the Holy Spirit He gave us. – (Romans 5:5, ERV)

And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love. – (Romans 5:5, VOICE)

Yesterday, our pastor began a new series titled, “The Helper”, with the purpose of unpacking who the Holy Spirit is. Too often the Holy Spirit is viewed as the manifestation of gifts that He gives rather than as the One who gives so much more. As he spoke, the thing that came clearly to mind for me is that the Holy Spirit is God made tangible to us. The concept of three-in-one is challenging to grasp. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are three separate parts that are each fully God. This in and of itself requires faith, as it is above what our thoughts can fully grasp. However, when we look at the roles that each person of the Trinity plays in the world and in our lives, it is a bit more graspable. That still small voice, the check in our spirit, the gut-feeling – these are all tangible examples of how the Holy Spirit speaks to us and guides us in the ways we are meant to go. The songs that rise in our hearts, the flood of warmth, the feeling of knowing that we are completely loved – are also ways that the Holy Spirit makes God’s nearness known. Hope is made evident as we come to recognize the Holy Spirit moving in and through us. Honestly, I don’t think I am adequately sharing, but am hopeful that the simple explanation of who the Holy Spirit is provides a desire to know Him more. May we ever seek the Lord to reveal more and more of who He is and how He loves so that we might go and love likewise.

The Lord, our Helper,

The Spirit of God;

Is ever-present,

And love is the bond.

Three persons are One,

Though it’s hard to see;

How it’s possible,

Holy Trinity.

God is our Father,

Creator of all;

His Son, Lord Jesus,

Redemption for all.

The Holy Spirit,

Our Helper and Guide;

God made tangible,

In our hearts resides.

Fear not the unknown,

Higher are His ways;

Instead seek to learn,

Throughout all our days.

For God is faithful,

Ever He is near;

To help, lead and guide,

As love removes fear.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are three in One. Thank You that You are our Creator, Redeemer, and ever-present Helper. Forgive us for our misunderstanding or fear of what we cannot fully grasp. Teach us to ever seek You to reveal more and more of who You are and how You love as we intentionally pursue You. Show us who You are through all that You have made; help us to grasp the greatness of Your love as we spend time in Your Word, and teach us to recognize the goodness and presence of You through Your Holy Spirit whom You have given to us. 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 intentionally seek You for new understanding and insight as to who You are and how You love. Amen.

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

And the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love, with You I am well pleased.” – Luke 3:22

The Goodness of God

For You have made me rejoice, Lord, by what You have done; I will shout for joy because of the work of Your hands. – (Psalm 92:4, HCSB)

Lord, You make us very happy because of what You did. I gladly sing about it. Lord, You did such great things. Your thoughts are too hard for us to understand. – (Psalm 92:4, ERV)

Because You, O Eternal One, thrill me with the things You have done, I will sing with joy in light of Your deeds. – (Psalm 92:4, VOICE)

God is always good. It is important to pause and take inventory of His faithfulness in our lives. When we look back, we can see how God has been present throughout all our days. There is evidence of His loving kindness and the work of His hands, as we remember what He has brought us through. I am in awe of how He provides and moves when we seek Him. After a crazy school year, it is incredible how in a mere four days, I am feeling rested and refreshed. My heart sings in response to the joy that rises as I reflect on His goodness. May we ever recognize God’s presence and help throughout our days, and sing for joy in thanksgiving for His goodness.

The goodness of God,

Is beyond compare;

In love, He meets us,

Shows us tender care.

His strength upholds us,

As He leads us on;

Kindness unending,

By grace we’re made strong.

Strong to keep moving,

In love and with grace;

May we give God praise,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and do great things in our lives as You remind us of Your faithfulness and goodness. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to praise You for Your presence and love. Teach us to recognize Your nearness in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your heart evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and praise You for who You are and how You love. Amen.

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

They will give a testimony of Your great goodness and will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

The Port of Peace

He stilled the storm to a murmur, and the waves of the sea were hushed. They rejoiced when the waves grew quiet. Then He guided them to the harbor they longed for. – (Psalm 107:29-30, HCSB)

He stopped the storm and calmed the waves. The sailors were happy that the sea became calm, and He led them safely to where they wanted to go. – (Psalm 107:29-30, ERV)

He commanded the storm to calm down, and it became still. A hush came over the waves of the sea, the sailors were delighted at the quiet, and He guided them to their port. – (Psalm 107:29-30, VOICE)

I feel like this is a perfect parallel to the end of the school year. The chaos and craziness of teaching through a pandemic, as the waves roared around us, are being silenced. At 10:30 today, teachers will be rejoicing as calm comes and we make our way into the peaceful harbor of summer. In the same way that educators have been carried through this crazy school year, God carries us through our most tumultuous storms. Challenge, heartache, illness, loss, and places we are lacking, God meets us where we are and walks beside us to the other side. There were days early on in the school year that I questioned my profession and purpose. Somehow, a way was made and things did improve. I have much hope that next year will be far better than this one. Kids will have become acclimated to being back at school, and two grade levels of students will have had a full school year on campus as they return. May we ever seek our Savior who is the calmer of the storms, and the One who is our safe harbor in whom we can delight.

With merely a word,

The storms had to cease;

Into safe harbor,

As calm is released.

Both throughout the storm,

And when the calm comes;

God will be with us,

The most Holy One.

Our anchor that holds,

No matter the waves;

Our Guide to safety,

Throughout all our days.

Now the safe harbor,

Is plainly in sight;

May we give Him praise,

Our strength and delight.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You can calm our chaos with merely a word, and lead us to safe harbor when the storms rage around us. Thank You that You strengthen and support us, and lead us through to places of peace. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when the storms last longer than we think they should. Teach us to ever trust in You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that provide safe harbor and extend Your perfect peace, even when storms rage around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our anchor and our Guide throughout all of our days. Amen.

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

I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety. – Psalm 4:8