Present in All

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

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

This is My command: be strong and courageous. Never be afraid or discouraged because I am your God, the Eternal One, and I will remain with you wherever you go. – (Joshua 1:9, VOICE)

This morning, this is a reminder to myself of what is true. A week and a half ago, we placed our puppies in the care of trainers for a three-week board and train program. Yesterday evening, we received a message that it might not work out for one of our dogs. The thing is, we trusted that the trainers were professionals and would be able to aid us in correcting some undesired behaviors, as well as guide us through additional obedience training. Now, after a sizable investment and emotional turmoil, we may be bringing our doggos home, requiring us to begin again with the search for how to best train our sweet puppies to peacefully coexist with each other and be mindful of what is being asked of them. Right now, after a reasonable night’s sleep, I cannot help but trust that God knows our needs and perhaps this was not the best fit or solution, and He will be with us as we walk out this process. Today, I will trust that He will provide the strength, courage and tenacity to do whatever we need to do that is best for our family. No matter the outcome, God will be with us. What matters most is that we listen to His leading and follow through. To some, this may seem trivial, however, for us, our dogs are a huge part of our family. God knows our needs and I will trust Him as we go today. May we ever choose strength, courage and resilience rather than fear or discouragement. For He will remain with us wherever we go.

Be not discouraged,

Choose faith over fear;

The Lord has promised,

He’ll always be near.

No matter what lies,

Ahead in our lives;

The Lord has His best,

True hope realized.

The things that matter,

That pull our heart strings;

Also God’s concern,

And answers He’ll bring.

Today I choose trust,

I know the Lord cares;

He’ll lead us in love,

Through answers He shares.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You remind us to be strong and courageous in You. Thank You that You love and care for all creatures that You created. Thank You that You are faithful to show us how to care best for all that You bless us with. Forgive us for our anger and frustration over something that may be for the best. Teach us to trust You more as we walk out each new day, seeking to follow after You and all that You have for us. Show us how to love in such a way that we extend Your goodness and grace in all that we do and say. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we continue to trust in You. Amen.

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

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. – 1 Thessalonians 3:12

To Still Our Storms

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey Him!” – (Mark 4:41, NIV)

They were very afraid and asked each other, “What kind of man is this? Even the wind and water obey Him!” – (Mark 4:41, ERV)

But they were overwhelmed with fear and awe and said to one another, “Who is this man who has such authority that even the wind and waves obey Him?” – (Mark 4:41, TPT)

This verse follows the account of Jesus and the disciples immediately after they had been caught in the midst of a giant squall, feared for their lives, and Jesus had stood and spoke to the wind and sea to “be still”. The wind and water stopped immediately as He spoke, and the disciples were awestruck and afraid. Most of the disciples were experienced fishermen and were overwhelmingly aware of the sudden danger of a storm that started with little warning. Additionally, the very notion of such a squall being silenced by the mere words of a man did not make sense. The wind and waves did not simply stop, but there, in that experience with Jesus, they did. Though the disciples had been with Jesus and seen Him perform miracles for many people, speaking to a storm and the sea was beyond what they likely could have ever imagined. Perhaps the silencing of the storm experience was an “aha” moment in which they began to grasp just how powerful Jesus truly was. For us, today, we have the benefit of beholding a collection of the experiences of those who walked with Jesus, and the opportunity to experience a life with Him, by His Spirit within us. We may not see squalls at sea silenced, but many are the storms that He has calmed within. Christ is our peace in the places of chaos, and our hope when we feel helpless. His power to be present and bring peace is beyond what we can fathom until we begin to experience it for ourselves. May we ever seek the Lord, both in the midst of storms and in the calm, for He is faithful to be present to help us and hold us, no matter what life brings our way.

When storms are raging,

Outside or within;

We need our Savior,

To bring peace again.

And when all is calm,

May we too delight;

In He who’s present,

The Maker of right.

Let us stand in awe,

Of all He has done;

Give glory to God,

The most Holy One.

Please never forget,

The power that’s found;

Through merely His words,

As His grace abounds.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Your Son to show us the incredible power of Your love through Him. Please forgive us for the times that we allow the storms around us or within us to create fear and steal our peace. Teach us to trust in Your power and goodness, as You walk with us all the days of our lives. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend peace and comfort and make Your power and heart for all known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn how to lean into You through the storms and in our spaces of calm. Amen.

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

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

Freedom to Forgive

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, NIV)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when someone won’t stop doing wrong to me, how many times must I forgive them? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive them more than seven times. You must continue to forgive them even if they do wrong to you seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, ERV)

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, MSG)

Forgiveness is a strange thing, as we have been forgiven much, yet at times, we struggle to forgive the most minor of offenses. Not one of us is perfect, and we all fall short. This is the space that we must remember when we are hurt or offended by another. In the same way that God pours out His abundant forgiveness and grace, we too, ought to do the same. The crazy thing about unforgiveness is that it hurts the holder of the offense, not the offender. Often, the one who has hurt or offended is not even aware that they have done harm. It is our responsibility to either let it go, or speak with the offender in love and let them know that their words or actions have done harm. That being said, we must do so with forgiveness already in place, regardless of the reception of our communication. Most times, awareness brings repentance and mends are made quickly. However, if the offender stands behind their word or deed, we are still called to forgive. We are not meant to subject ourselves to a vicious cycle of harm, but rather we are not to cling to that which we cannot change. God forgives us each time that we ask, yet He lets us know that if we hold unforgiveness, He will respond to our requests in the same way. I don’t know about you, but I am fully aware of my shortcomings and desperately need His forgiveness and grace. If I need forgiveness and grace, so too, do all those whom I encounter. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to forgive and give grace, even when we would rather hold onto the offense. Freedom to love well is birthed in us as we choose to walk in forgiveness.

O Lord, help us choose,

Forgive and give grace;

As You’ve done for us,

Throughout all our days.

Soften our hearts, Lord,

So love might come first;

Teach us to let go,

To bless not to curse.

May love lead the way,

In all that we do;

Teach us to forgive,

And choose love like You.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not limit the number of times that You forgive us when we fail and fall short. Thank You that You equip and empower us to do likewise to all those around us as we depend on You. Forgive us for holding onto offenses. Please teach us to release all into Your hands so that we may give goodness and grace in place of our anger, hurt or frustration. Show us how to love like You, at all times and in all circumstances. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as they recognize the power held in Your loving kindness for us all. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to help us to forgive as You do. Amen.

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

Forgive our sins, just as we have forgiven those who did wrong to us. – Matthew 6:12

The Calm to Our Storms

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!” – (Matthew 8:27, NIV)

The men rubbed their eyes, astonished. “What’s going on here? Wind and sea come to heel at His command!” – (Matthew 8:27, MSG)

The disciples were astonished by this miracle and said to one another, “Who is this Man? Even the wind and waves obey His Word.” – (Matthew 8:27, TPT)

Verse twenty-seven is the disciples’ response after experiencing a harrowing event. A storm had come on them suddenly, in the middle of the lake, and the waves were so wide and wild, that they feared the boat might sink. They went to Jesus, whom they found asleep, and woke Him with their worry and fear. Jesus asked them why they were afraid, then stood and spoke, commanding the wind and waves to be still. In an instant, calm came over the water. Verse twenty-seven is the disciples response to the wonder they had just witnessed. Though they had been listening to Jesus teach, and had watched as He healed, their awe and wonder multiplied as they observed the power present as Jesus calmed a raging storm with His words. The very same Jesus who healed, taught, touched, and silenced storms back then, is available and present for us still. He hears our cries and listens in love as we call on His Name. Sometimes, He silences the storm around us, yet other times, He settles the storm within us. He is our peace and hope that we can cling to, no matter the size of the storm we face. May we ever call on His Name and trust in His presence, for He is our peace, our comfort, our help and our hope forever.

Lord, please remind us,

To call upon You;

No matter the storm,

Your love sees us through.

Sometimes You silence,

The storm that surrounds;

Yet then other times,

Peace within abounds.

Whatever may come,

The thing we must hear;

Is You’ve promised us,

You’ll always be near.

Show us Your goodness,

Lead us by Your grace;

Teach us to seek You,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You still silence the storms. Thank You for the times that You have brought peace to the storm surrounding us, and thank You for the times that You have silenced the storm within us. Forgive us for being surprised by Your power and goodness, and for the times that we doubt You. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times; for You are always good. Show us how to love those around us through the storms, and what to do to pass along Your perfect peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we surrender the storms around us and within us, trusting in Your faithful promised presence. Amen.

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

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

Release the Offense

“Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” – (Luke 17:4, NIV)

“Even if they do something wrong to you seven times in one day, but they say they are sorry each time, you should forgive them.” – (Luke 17:4, ERV)

“No matter how many times in one day your brother sins against you and says, ‘I’m sorry; I am changing; forgive me,’ you need to forgive him each and every time.” – (Luke 17:4, TPT)

Jesus set the standard as to how we are meant to interact with our sisters and brothers around us. We are called to forgive every time that someone recognizes their wrongs and apologizes. The reality is that we all fall short and need forgiveness and grace. For me, I know that I have far more grace for my children and spouse than I do for folks out and about. When one of my kids forgets to do what has been asked of them, and then apologizes, it becomes as if it has never happened; yet if someone cuts me off on the road and then waves an apology, it takes a moment to slow down and actually forgive, instead of being annoyed. Our intentional decision to forgive is not meant to be submission to abuse, rather it is for us to release the offense and move on so that we do not carry the weight of unforgiveness.There are enough burdens among us; grudges are far too weighty to hold. May we seek the Lord to grant us the grace to forgive, in the same way that He continually forgives us.

Count not offenses,

But rather, give grace;

Love one another,

Throughout each new day.

When there’s a sorry,

Let go, choose release;

Hold not the offense,

May our grace increase.

Lord, help us to love,

As You choose love us;

Let our response be,

Just like Yours, Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us how to live and love and forgive. Forgive us for not being quick to forgive when we ought to. Show us how to give the very same grace and forgiveness that we have been given by You. Lead us in love for all those around us so that each may know the overwhelming, never ending, power of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love and forgiveness for all. Amen.

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

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

All Through Him

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. – (Philippians 4:13, NIV) 

Christ is the one who gives me the strength I need to do whatever I must do. – (Philippians 4:13, ERV) 

I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength. – (Philippians 4:13, VOICE) 

Well, today was clear evidence of exactly what this verse conveys. Despite feeling as if I were drowning in a sea of screen switching and multitasking, my first day of remote teaching was completed, albeit, rough and raw with countless flaws. Seeing and interacting with my new groups of sixth graders, made the struggle worthwhile. They answered questions, followed along, and even asked for my help to navigate to their next class or activity. His strength was present throughout, as I persevered in spite of the snags, and I have fresh resolve to try again tomorrow, trusting that I can only improve from here. So, for today, I can be content in our current circumstance and trust that He will continue to give me the strength I need for each new day. May we ever seek the Lord in all things, for He supplies all that we need to do what we are called to do. 

PowerPoints, attendance, 

And “chatting” with all; 

The margin for flaws, 

Is truly not small. 

Yet, in the crazy, 

His strength is enough; 

To keep pressing on, 

Even when it’s tough. 

So, dig deep, listen, 

Trust we can do all; 

Not in our own strength, 

In His, who holds all. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can do all things in Your strength, as You call us to do. Thank You that our capacity to do difficult things is not dependent on our ability, but rather on Yours. Forgive us for the times that our faith falters in the face of adversity. Teach us to trust You and draw strength from You. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us, so that they too, may discover how much can be accomplished in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength, knowing that we can accomplish more than we could hope or imagine, when we place our lives in Your hands. Amen. 

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

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this. – Psalm 37:5

Bearing Our Burdens

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. – (Psalm 68:19, NIV) 

Praise the Lord! Every day he helps us with the loads we must carry. He is the God who saves us. – (Psalm 68:19, ERV) 

Blessed be the Lord who carries our heavy loads every day, the True God who is our salvation. – (Psalm 68:19, VOICE) 

God is faithful, always. In the throes of the heaviness, He is present. When we are feeling stuck, He is ready and able to lead us through so that we may believe in the midst of our burdens.  Salvation is understood as we find hope in the heavy, and recognize the presence of God. I find myself in a solid space of reminiscing about God’s faithfulness, and how He bears our burdens. A little over a year ago, my mom suffered a massive stroke. We were blindsided by this, as she had always been strong and healthy and independent. As we have walked through the recovery process with mom, each day, God has handled our burdens and helped us carry the weight of worry and fear.  The verse found in Hebrews 6:19, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” has been a sort of battle cry and comfort as we have navigated all of the new that comes with this sort of challenge. Being a visual person, I have wanted to artistically memorialize the anchor that God has been, in a way that was a tangible reminder of His faithfulness to steady us, always. Yesterday, the desire that I had held finally came to fruition. On my right foot, which is the side of mom’s body impacted by the stroke, I had an anchor with flowers from mom’s yard, along with her usual signature on cards, memorialized in ink. For me, every step I take, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness to continue to bring healing, help and wholeness to my mom. It also reminds me to pray with gratitude for the life that He spared, and is continuing to restore. She went from being wheelchair bound a year ago, to walking by herself with a cane today. It has taken tremendous determination and hard work, but mom has never shied away from either, and depends on God to be her strength. May we ever remember Who is near and present to help us with the loads we carry, and loves us through every step that we take. 

Hope is the anchor, 

A gift from the Lord; 

His grace and His love, 

As asked, He’ll afford. 

He’ll carry the weight, 

Of burdens we bear; 

Bring loving comfort, 

Tangible, His care. 

Regardless of weight, 

His grace is enough; 

To lead and guide us,  

Through all sorts of stuff. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You help us with the burdens we bear, and when they grow too heavy, You carry us. Thank You that You are the faithful anchor of our soul – strong and secure. Forgive us for the times that we attempt to carry things alone, rather than seeking You for help. Teach us to trust You more, as You are forever faithful to help, as You love us through every storm that comes our way. Show us how to love others well. Lead us to love in a way that brings comfort, encouragement, and strength, so that all might know that they are not alone when storms rage around them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for being our ever-present help, and the anchor that secures our heart in the midst of storms. 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

Take Heart

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – (Psalm 31:24, NIV)

Be strong and brave, all of you who are waiting for the Lord’s help. – (Psalm 31:24, ERV)

Be strong and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal! – (Psalm 31:24, VOICE)

 

Whenever I am in a space of struggle, difficulty or challenge, there is something about the Psalms that offers comfort. David, the author of many of them, penned perfectly, both the struggle in difficulties and the encouragement to overcome. It leads me to wonder if Paul, who wrote many of the letters that became the New Testament from a prison cell, found comfort too, in the songs and sonnets and scores of words recorded in the Psalms. For many of us, the staying in place feels a bit torturous, as it is in no way natural nor normal. However, when I consider the time spent by Paul under house arrest and in Roman prison, I need to count my blessings and take heart. In strength and courage, Paul encouraged entire congregations of new believers, despite his circumstances. We are no different. Whatever we are tasked to do in this season, may we be strong and take heart, and place our hope in He who is our help. God is good, and He is faithful to answer when we call on Him to be our help and our hope.

 

Be strong in the Lord, Take Heart

Take courage, be brave;

The Lord will be near,

When asked to come stay.

As we place our hope,

In the Lord above;

He grants what we need,

To go forth in love.

Fear not in trials,

For God’s ever near;

He’s present to help,

Each request, He hears.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can find strength and courage in You as we seek You to be our help and our hope. Thank You that You are ever-present. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations with our circumstances. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may learn and grow through every trial. Show us how to love those around us best, so that we may encourage and strengthen one another in spaces where resolve is running low. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we find strength and courage as we look to You to be our help and hope forever. Amen.

 

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

 

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

He’s Present to Help

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” – (Psalm 91:2, NIV)

I say to the Lord, “You are my place of safety, my fortress. My God, I trust in You.” – (Psalm 91:2, ERV)

He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me, the only God for me, and my great confidence. – (Psalm 91:2, TPT)

 

It is such a strange space to be in a place when the world has to slow down and essentially be present at home. Yesterday, as our governor issued a “Stay at Home” decree, for most, I think there was an unanticipated sigh of relief. On one hand, it requires all “non-essential” employees to stay home, while on the other, still allows those that perform duties that keep the skeletal system of our nation running, to report to their positions. For both categories, we need God to be our refuge and our fortress; the One in whom we trust. Our home is one divided, as my husband and bonus son are both considered essential employees, and are called to continue working, while my boys and I remain at home, trusting that they will be kept safe and that others will be mindful of social distancing and necessary protective measures to keep them from being exposed and further spreading illness. God is good, even when circumstances are not. He is our hope and our refuge, and in Him we can trust and fear not. May we hold fast to our hope in Jesus, who is our space of safety and fortress; for in Him we can place our trust as we walk this unknown road with wisdom and strength.

 

God is our refuge, Sense in Storms

Our safe space indeed;

He’s present to help,

Protect and meet needs.

We need not choose fear,

For in God, there’s strength;

To do as we’re asked,

No matter what lengths.

He already knows,

What we need to do;

He’s present to help,

Protect, follow through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and our safe space as we navigate so many unknowns trusting You. Thank You that You are always with us, and You protect and provide as we abide in You. Forgive us for our fears and doubts as we attempt to make sense of what we cannot yet see. Teach us to trust You, rather than our own understanding. Show us how to love those around us well, as we seek You to be our strength and shelter, and support and encourage those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust all in Your mighty hands. Amen.

 

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

 

You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. – Psalm 32:7

True Love Forgives

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, NIV)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when someone won’t stop doing wrong to me, how many times must I forgive them? Seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive them more than seven times. You must continue to forgive them even if they do wrong to you seventy-seven times.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, ERV)

At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.” – (Matthew 18:21-22, MSG)

 

Forgiveness is an essential element of loving well. Jesus does not look at us and determine at some point that we have reached our quota of sin, and He suddenly will no longer forgive; therefore, we are called to do the same for those around us. That being said, we must use wisdom as we navigate. If someone is intentionally causing harm, we are capable of forgiving without remaining in a position to continue to be in harm’s way. Forgiveness is far more easily carried out with some, than with others. To forgive is to let go of our anger, cease resentment, and give up all claim on rights to retaliate or recover what has been lost. It is to extend pardon and release the burden, whether the offender has asked to be forgiven or not. “…Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5) If we want to truly live and love as God has called us, we must forgive in the same way that He forgives each of us. May we be encouraged and empowered by the goodness and grace of God to go forth and forgive others in the same way that we are forgiven.

 

If we truly love, The Favor of Forgiveness

By grace, we’ll forgive;

Release each other,

With true pardon, give.

For no one’s perfect,

All in need of grace;

To rise, get better,

And walk in God’s way.

Lead us Lord Jesus,

Grant strength to forgive;

Choose love lavishly,

As His grace we give.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved and forgave us, before we were even repentant. Thank You that it is Your kindness that leads us to repentance. Thank You that You call us to extend the same forgiveness to those around us that You so lavishly extend to us. Forgive us for the times that we struggle to forgive, or have to do so over and over again. Show us how to place all in Your hands. Teach us how to navigate offenses according to Your perfect love. Lead us to love and forgive those around us in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your strength to forgive others, whether they ask or not, and move forward in love, just as You love us. Amen.

 

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

 

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14