Lead with Listening

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, NIV)

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

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG)

 

Listening is an art form that can prevent misunderstanding and bring people closer together. Too often we speak to respond, rather than listen to understand and reply only if necessary. Anger flares and brash words are spoken when we communicate to make our own point, opinion or agenda heard, without taking pause to listen to others around us. I find that the majority of the time, my anger ignites when I jump to conclusions or explain a scenario in my own mind, rather than seeking to listen to whomever did, whatever it was, that incited my frustration to the point of anger. Each time I slow down, take a deep breath, and remind myself to listen with the intent to understand, I discover that there is a reason for the words or actions that transpired. By hearing the heart behind the person, anger or frustration fade, and compassion and kindness begin to rise. May we ever seek the Lord for strength and willingness to listen first, so that our response is a reflection of His heart, rather than a rash reaction that is not necessary to bring resolution.

 

Let us each choose first,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

To listen in love;

Seek to understand,

With grace from above.

If we’re slow to speak,

There’s less to regret;

Peace has a true chance,

God’s love, our asset.

Allow not anger,

To rise and release;

Instead, choose listen,

Discernment brings peace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be people who seek listen to understand, speak with intention and grace, and to keep anger in check to prevent words or deeds that cannot be taken back. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our ego or agenda to cause us to assume ill intent in anger, rather than listening with intention to understand all that is involved in what has transpired before us. Teach us to listen first, seeking to understand, so that if and when we respond, it may be done with love and grace. Show us how to love well through listening to those who need to be heard. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the God who always hears our heart, regardless of what our words or deeds seem to indicate. Be glorified O God, through our decision to listen first and speak with godly intent, only when we understand, keeping anger in check and love abundant. Amen.

 

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

 

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. – Proverbs 1:5

To Bear Good Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)

But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things. – (Galatians 5:22-23, ERV)

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard- things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. – (Galatians 5:22-23, MSG)

 

Social media has been a valuable tool for me to stay connected with friends all over the world. I delight in sharing bits of life with those who are too far away to see in person. Sadly, there are those who use it to lash out in anger at anyone who does not share the same opinion on current “hot topics”. When words are exchanged in anger, without seeking the Spirit to be in the center, greater divisions grow between those who formerly considered one another friends. My hope is to be a purveyor of peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, rather than a wrecking ball. May we ever seek the Lord and the fruit that His Spirit within us produces, instead of allowing said fruit to drop off and rot away.

 

God is our compass, To Bear Good Fruit

His love points the way;

To love as He loves,

Let Him in to stay.

Through Him we bear fruit,

That blesses with peace;

Choose give love away,

With reckless release.

Freely and boldly,

Give peace, love and joy;

Patience and kindness,

Gentleness employ.

Let’s choose self-control,

Not seek to be right;

There’s not a winner,

When we aren’t polite.

Let’s seek to listen,

Choose peace and be kind;

More is accomplished,

When hearts are aligned.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You grow in us that which is meant to be shared with others. Thank You that the fruit You plant is good. Forgive us for allowing that which has been planted within us to rot and waste away rather than be used to nourish the people whom You place all around us. Teach us how to operate in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us so that Your fruit may be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love in a way that bears Your fruit. 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

 

 

The Source of Self-Discipline

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)

The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control. – (2 Timothy 1:7, ERV)

You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit but a powerful, loving and disciplined spirit. – (2 Timothy 1:7, VOICE)

 

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to put His power into practice. There was an internal battle based on what I observed, and “Mama Bear Mode” kicked into high gear. I was infuriated without knowing the full extent of the circumstances surrounding what I saw, and it took every ounce of love and self-control to hold it together. Though I did not take it out on anyone, it took at least a half an hour for me to settle down internally, and let go of the anger I was holding. Love took over, and lifted me up so that I could move forward and focus on the tasks that were set before me. The Spirit of God is faithful to meet us when we are willing to ask and allow Him to move. My hope is that the next time I find myself so upset, that I stop, breathe, and give it to God immediately. May we look to the Lord to be our strength, the One who loves us through our lack and helps us exercise self-control when our instinct wants to do otherwise.

 

We need not have fear, The Mirror of the Heart

For that which we face;

As God’s always near,

Ready with His grace.

Grace to bring us calm,

And keep in control;

To choose His great love,

That we’re meant to hold.

When life overwhelms,

He’s faithful to hear;

Each request we make,

Answered with Him near.

All praise to the Lord,

Whose love never ends;

Embraces with grace,

In power, He sends.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your power, love and self-discipline that You grant to those who seek You. Forgive us when we allow our circumstances to overwhelm us, rather than placing them in Your hands. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would slow down and seek Your help in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in a way that brings peace, power and calm in the midst of chaos. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth in Your power, love and self-control. Amen.

 

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

 

You are the God who performs miracles; You display Your power among the peoples. – Psalm 77:14

Trust in the Battle

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – (Exodus 14:14, NIV)

“You will not have to do anything but stay calm. The Lord will do the fighting for you.” – (Exodus 14:14, ERV)

“God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut! “- (Exodus 14:14, MSG)

 

Some days, as an educator, I have to make difficult decisions that include referrals for kids who make poor choices. Yesterday, I had a student behave in a way that I had not witnessed prior, yet it was something that could not be neglected. After reporting the issue to one in charge of discipline, I was strongly encouraged to call the young man’s parent to inform them about what had taken place. In the moment, it didn’t settle well, but I went ahead and did as I was asked. To my surprise, the parent of the student was fiercely defensive of her son, and went so far as to accuse me of “picking on her son.” I tried to let her know that it was an obligation on my part to write a referral, but there would be an opportunity for discussion so that the young man could explain what had transpired. Surprisingly, her anger would not subside, and ultimately, she hung up. For a time, I was rattled. My character had been called into question for reporting what I had witnessed. It took some time and a bit of debriefing with my husband, before I could truly settle in and trust that I had done what was right. This morning, this is exactly the reminder that I needed. When battles rise before me, I can only do my part and then have to trust what remains, in His hands. He will show me what to say and when to be silent. God is faithful, no matter what we see or hear, and He will never leave us nor forsake us. May we place our battles in His hands, and be silent until He grants us words to speak. For He is good, and His love endures forever.

 

There is no battle, trust in the battle

Too great or too small;

In His mighty hands,

He’ll help us with all.

Sometimes our fighting,

Is found in “be still”;

To wait in silence,

Let God work His will.

No matter what comes,

The Lord’s word is true;

He’ll love as we wait,

Choose trust what He’ll do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the reminder of Your faithfulness when we are uncertain of the battles before us. Thank You that we are to place all in Your hands, and allow You to lead us and guide us, trusting that You have our very best in mind. Forgive us for feeling that we must always fight, when sometimes, we are meant to wait, be still, and witness what You are going to do. Show us how to love those around us in the midst of the battle, granting strength and hope and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our difficulties in Your helping hands, and choose trust You to be Lord of all. 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

The Peace in Letting Go

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil. – (Psalm 37:8, NIV)

Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm. – (Psalm 37:8, NLT)

Stop your anger! Turn off your wrath. Don’t fret and worry – it only leads to harm. – (Psalm 37:8, TLB)

 

Anger, wrath and rage ultimately bring the most harm to the holder. They have a way of rotting us from the inside out, and lead us to decisions that go against the good that we know we ought to do. Fret and worry are much the same. Each of these responses to external things, create an internal reaction that ruins the resolve within us. This verse does not say, “Never be angry.” Rather, it is a call to not sit and dwell in that space, allowing rage to rise. There is a time for righteous anger, yet how we respond to it matters most. Our charge is not to retaliate nor vindicate, (for this is why there are laws and authorities in place) alternatively, we are to set it in God’s hands. Of course, this is more easily said than done, yet with intention, it is worthwhile. Peace takes root where the anger or worry attempted reign. May we recognize our own responses as they occur and give all anger and worry to Him who brings peace in the most tumultuous spaces.

 

Stop being angry, Set Down Our Stones

Leave wrath in the dust;

Let go of worry,

Turn to God in trust.

For vengeance is His,

So too, are good plans;

As we trust in Him,

His grace lends a hand.

A hand that gives love,

When we’re lacking peace;

Comfort in worry,

What we need’s released.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to let go of anger, wrath, rage and worry. Thank You that though there is a time for righteous anger, we are not meant to sit and hold it in our hearts and hands. Thank You that as we release these things to You, You replace them with Your comfort and peace. Forgive us for holding anger or worry. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would place all things in Your hands. Show us how to love those around us who are holding anger or worry in such a way, that they may discover the freedom of letting go. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give our anger and worry to You, and allow Your comfort and peace to take their place in our hearts. Amen.

 

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

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:34

Born to Bloom

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, NLT)

As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives. It is the fragrance of Christ within us, an aroma to both the saved and unsaved all around us. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, TLB)

We have become the unmistakable aroma of the victory of the Anointed One to God – a perfume of life to those being saved and the odor of death to those who are perishing. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, TPT)

 

As I sat here pondering this verse, the image that came to mind for me is that of beautiful, fragrant flowers. The gardener who tends to the plants to trim, water, fertilize and assure proper light, yields healthy plants that produce sweet scents. Contrarily, those who do not provide that which plants need, discover the scent of death and decay soon emit from the perishing perennials. People are comparable when it comes to our faith. If we invest time in our relationship with our Redeemer, we learn and grow and become more like Him. As we do, the love, grace and kindness we extend, become a sweet scent to our Savior, as well as to those who are seeking something more. However, when we neglect the need for investing time with the very One who created us, we begin to wither and rot, stuck with a stench of angst and impatience, anger and a serious lack of love. May we ever seek the nourishment of our Maker, as He provides the soil, water and light that we need to bloom and become the sweet scent of life to all those around us.

 

The sweet scent of life, born-to-bloom.jpg

Through hope and His grace;

Are what we offer,

As we seek God’s face.

A life invested,

In loving the Lord;

Is grown to produce,

Sweet scent that’s adored.

For loving kindness,

Goodness and His light;

Are grown within us,

As we choose delight.

With all that we are,

May we seek His face;

So, our lives smell sweet,

And extend His grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that a life invested in knowing and following You grows and develops us to give off the sweet scent of hope in You. Thank You that You cultivate this within us as we choose to seek You. Forgive us for neglecting time with You, as You are the One who removes the weeds and provides the water and sunlight. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would allow You room to come in and cultivate our lives into the fragrant offering You intended. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them breathe deeply from Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we delight in You, and allow You room to grow us so that we can bloom. Amen.

 

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

 

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19

A Choice of Will

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, NIV)

Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, ERV)

Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. – (Colossians 3:13, TLB)

Fault-finding, blame, grudges and the like, do nothing but keep heaviness in the heart of the holder. Though there are some situations where wisdom will lead us to walk away, it does not mean that we are to hold unforgiveness in our heart. Forgiveness looks different in every situation, but the one thing that is constant is that it is a choice of will, and a decision that has to be made over and over again. There are days that forgiveness comes easily, and we find ourselves in a good space, recognizing that because we have been forgiven much, we too, can forgive much. However, there are times when whispers of previous offenses rise up, and so too does the anger. It is in these moments that we have to choose again to forgive. May we fix our eyes on the Lord who has forgiven us for all that we have done, so that we may go forth and forgive in the same way.

We’ve been forgiven,

The Unforgiving Debtor

For everything;

All our transgressions,

And harm that we bring.

Because of this love,

We’re called to the same;

To forgive others,

Let go, remove blame.

Often the process,

Of choosing release;

Hurt brought by others,

As God’s grace increased.

May we choose to rise,

Forgive in His Name;

Love as we are loved,

Let grace be our aim.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to forgive as we have been forgiven by You. Thank You that as we choose again and again to forgive, You refine and change our hearts to be more like Yours. Forgive us for the times that we have held onto hurts or allowed old injury to rise up and renew our anger toward another when we have chosen to forgive. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek Your strength to forgive again and again, each time a hurt or offense comes our way. Show us how to love and forgive others, just as You love and forgive each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we turn to You to be our strength and our example for forgiveness so that we may go forth and do the same. Amen.

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

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. – Proverbs 17:9

The Power of Gentleness

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, NIV)

A gentle answer makes anger disappear, but a rough answer makes it grow. – (Proverbs 15:1, ERV)

A tender answer turns away rage, but a prickly reply spikes anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, VOICE)

 

People will typically meet us in tone and sentiment as we interact with one another. Even when a person is having a rough day, and kindness is far from the forefront of their mind, as kind words and gentleness are extended, the same seem to easily flow in reply. I have found, on many occasions, just how much truth these words hold. When I choose to respond to someone who is angry with gentle, softly spoken words, most often, the heat of their anger is diffused. However, when I respond from a space of my own frustration and meet their anger with my own, the intensity of the flame burns all the hotter and goes from heated to volatile. May we seek the One who always answers us gently with love, so that we may go forth and do the same.

 

May we choose answer, Gods protection

Forever with grace;

For each choice of love,

Is living God’s way.

Those who are angry,

Need answers of peace;

Gentleness given,

Grants fury’s release.

Tenderness given,

Will turn away rage;

For love overcomes,

The toughest of days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your gentleness diffuses our frustration and anger, and in You, we can do the same for others. Forgive us for the times that we have met fury with words that only fueled the fire of frustration rather than diffused. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend tender words that offer hope and help, no matter how we feel. Show us how to love others well in all situations and circumstances so that Your heart may be heard and Your love may be felt. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to extend gentleness and to speak words softly, especially when those around us are heated and in need of Your tenderness. Amen.

 

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

 

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. – Philippians 4:5

A Final Act of Love

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. The men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” – (Luke 24:1-5, NLT) 

 

Though Jesus had told those who followed Him that He would rise again, I imagine it was still difficult to conceive, as the very idea was a seeming impossibility. As I attempt to place myself in the position of one of the women who went to the tomb that morning, I picture women overwhelmed with grief as they walked toward the resting place of their Redeemer. This Savior whom they loved, was now three days in the grave, and they were prepared to interact with His broken body as a final act of love and a way to say goodbye. The tomb had been sealed by a giant boulder, immovable, even by a malicious act of will. Imagine the shock that flooded their hearts and minds as they approached the tomb when they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Fear? Anger? Concern? What could have happened to the body of their beloved? Then, as they stood there puzzling over what was missing, two men in dazzling robes appeared out of nowhere. Clearly the women recognized that the men were messengers from God, as they bowed their faces to the ground in terror. From sorrow to confusion to frustration to fear, these ladies must have been flooded as heaven came near. And then, after all of that, to hear that Jesus was alive… The women navigated the roller coaster quite gracefully, as the very next thing they did was go and tell the disciples what they had seen and heard.  

This is the very day that we celebrate and remember the miracle of the resurrection. The grave could not hold Him, and He is alive and moving on our behalf. May we remember our Risen Savior as we go about this day and know that His sacrifice saved us while His resurrection reminds us that we are no longer dead in sin.  

 

Early Sunday morn, Hope in an Empty Tomb

They went to the tomb; 

Grieving act of love, 

No hope yet assumed. 

Imagine their hearts, 

With Jesus not there; 

Distraught and confused, 

The Lord is gone. Where? 

Angelic visit, 

In dazzling light; 

The women bowed low, 

Faced the ground in fright. 

The men then asked them, 

“Why did you come here? 

Don’t look among dead, 

For live to appear.” 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Your Son, Jesus. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross for all of our sin and shame. Thank You that the grave could not hold You, and that You rose again and are seated at the right hand of the Father, moving on our behalf. Thank You that in You we can have life and light and love forever. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your sacrifice and the glory of Your resurrection. Help us to grasp the enormity of Your mercy and grace. Show us how to extend love and goodness to those around us as an outpouring of our gratitude to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise and give You glory for Your love that defeated death and gives life to all who receive You as Lord. Amen. 

 

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

 

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

Releasing the Right to Revenge

Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. – (Proverbs 20:22, NLT) 

Don’t ever say, “I’ll pay them back for what they did to me!” Wait for the Lord. He will make things right. – (Proverbs 20:22, ERV) 

Don’t ever say, “I’ll get you for that!” Wait for God; He’ll settle the score. – (Proverbs 20:22, MSG) 

 

For many, this is a difficult road to walk. Our natural inclination is to give back whatever we are given. When extended kindness, it is easy to return. However, when someone wrongs us or intentionally brings harm, it is almost without conscious thought, that our minds go to returning the hurt. With Christ in us, there is a filter to know that we are not meant to lash out in anger, nor return harm for hurt against us, yet it is a process that requires a decision to place the hurt or harm in His hands, and trust Him to handle the matter. Our part is to forgive and move forward. Forgiveness does not mean foolishly nor blindly forgetting and setting ourselves in a vulnerable or unsafe space, but it does mean letting go of our desire to lash out or get even and allow God (and if necessary, the law) to deal with the wrong-doer. May we release our perceived right for revenge, and give our offenses to God. Let us trust our hearts in His hands, as He knows best how to handle these hurdles. 

 

Speak not of revenge, Shackles No More

For it’s not our role; 

To repay all wrongs, 

Must not be our goal. 

Instead let us wait, 

Place all in God’s hands; 

He will make things right, 

He hears, understands. 

Often His answers, 

Open our blind eyes; 

We grow in His grace, 

As love’s realized. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that it is not our job to get even for the harm that is done against us, but rather You ask us to place it in Your hands. Thank You that we can trust You, as You are good and just, and You love us more than we can comprehend. Forgive us for seeking to “get even” when we feel we have been wronged. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would place our perceived harms in Your hands, and allow You to handle whatever has hurt our hearts. Grant us wisdom to know how to seek help if help is required, and give us strength to forgive when forgiveness is far from what is desired. Show us how to love well those who have been wronged, so that they may find Your grace and forgiveness, leaving the need for retribution in Your hands. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give our hurts to You, and allow You to handle making things right when we have been wronged. Amen.

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

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