Quick to Listen

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

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

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

Imagine the conflicts that would be avoided if only we all followed these directions. When we are quick to listen, we hear the heart, hope and experience of the one before us, and it provides an opportunity to understand where another is coming from. Additionally, if we pause, listen and process before we respond, we are far more likely to speak out of love and not become frustrated or angry. Our charge is to be patient and not allow anger to fly out of control. God is faithful to provide the strength and self-control necessary to listen first and respond well. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to listen intently and be slow to speak, so that anger is kept in check and our words and deeds are led by His love.

Help us to listen,

So we truly hear;

The heart of others,

All those who are near.

Show us to slow down,

To be slow to speak;

So ev’ry response,

Is kind and in peace.

Lord, help our anger,

Be under control;

So love is what leads,

And grace is our goal.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You listen to us with love every time we speak. Thank You that You respond to us in love and do not easily anger. Forgive us for the times that we have not slowed down enough to truly hear those around us, or have listened only to respond, rather than to truly hear. Please check our hearts when anger rises so that we would slow down and place all in Your hands to lead us. Show us how to listen in love well so that those around us may see Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to listen well and do all things in love and with self-control. Amen.

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

I call on You, God, because You will answer me; listen closely to me; hear what I say. – Psalm 17:6

Our Present Refuge

But as for me, God’s presence is my good. I have made the Lord God my refuge, so I can tell about all You do. – (Psalm 73:28, HCSB)

As for me, all I need is to be close to God. I have made the Lord God my place of safety. And, God, I will tell about all that You have done. – (Psalm 73:28, ERV)

But the closer I am to You, my God, the better because life with You is good. O Lord, the Eternal, You keep me safe – I will tell everyone what You have done. – (Psalm 73:28, VOICE)

This Psalm is a reminder of the faithfulness of God, no matter what is going on around us. His goodness is not dependent on our circumstances. In God, we can place our trust, for He is our refuge and the good we can hold onto. May we speak of the goodness and faithfulness that God has shown us, for it is a reminder of who He is and how deeply He loves.

The presence of God,

Is forever good;

Our place of safety,

Where love’s understood.

Faithful forever,

The reason to praise;

May our words speak out,

Of His faithful ways.

Love is ongoing,

In Him, hope remains;

Grace for each new day,

Forever He reigns.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your presence is the goodness that our hearts long for. Thank You that You are faithful to meet us and be our safe place whenever we call on You. Forgive us for forgetting just how good You are when our circumstances are not. Teach us to turn to You, and to share about Your faithfulness in our lives. 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 seek You to be our safe space and tell of Your ongoing faithfulness. Amen.

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

We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. – Hebrews 6:19

Kind and Ready to Forgive

For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, rich in faithful love to all who call on You. – (Psalm 86:5, HCSB)

My Lord, You are good and merciful. You love all who call to You for help. – (Psalm 86:5, ERV)

O Lord, You are good and ready to forgive; Your loyal love flows generously over all who cry out to You. – (Psalm 86:5, VOICE)

I am so thankful that God hears all who call on Him. He is kind and good and merciful, and He forgives and helps us with His love as we seek Him. Because God is the same yesterday, today and forever, we can count on Him to be consistent in His love. It is through the mercy and grace we receive when we seek God’s forgiveness that we are compelled to do likewise for those around us. For me, I am ever aware of my need for His help and forgiveness as I navigate each new day. He is kind and gentle, generous and loving, and remains steadfast in all things. May we ever seek the Lord to forgive us and lead us forward in all that He is calling us to do.

The Lord is so good,

Forgiving and kind;

Loyal and faithful,

It is His design.

The goodness that flows,

From heaven to earth;

Shows us His power,

And unending worth.

Lead us, Lord Jesus,

To ever seek You;

For goodness and love,

Ever we’re made new.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You as we seek You, You forgive us and lavish us with Your love. Thank You for Your kindness and faithfulness forever. Forgive us for neglecting to seek forgiveness where it is needed. Show us our shortcomings and the power of Your love in those places. 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 seek forgiveness, goodness and grace, and then extend the same to all those we encounter. Amen.

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

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior was made known, He saved us because of His mercy, not because of any good things we did. He saved us through the washing that made us new people. He saved us by making us new through the Holy Spirit. – Titus 3:4-5

A Way in the Wilderness

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

Because I am doing something new! Now you will grow like a new plant. Surely you know this is true. I will even make a road in the desert, and rivers will flow through that dry land. – (Isaiah 43:19, ERV)

Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; waters will flow where there has been none. – (Isaiah 43:19, VOICE)

This is a reminder of true hope. If God can make a way in the wilderness and bring streams to desert spaces, He can bring light and life and hope to us all. Right now, this reminder is needed. God is working even when we cannot see it or feel a change yet. It requires trust on our part, for He is faithful always. May we ever seek the Lord to do the needed new, and trust that He is making a way in our wilderness and sending streams to the dry spaces.

O Lord, You are love,

You’re goodness and grace;

You move great mountains,

That stand in our way.

You bring strength and hope,

In our weariness;

Refreshment and love,

Throughout each new day.

Lord, send flowing streams,

To lifeless in us;

Make way in trials,

Grant strength, Lord Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we call on You and trust in You, You meet us where we are. Thank You that You make a way where there seems to be no way, and You bring refreshment, strength and peace to the parched places in us. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to dictate our capacity to choose joy in You. Teach us to hold fast to You and the goodness of Your love to fuel us when we feel empty. Show us how to pour into the lives of those around us in ways that make Your goodness and love evident. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to meet us where we are, and to supply all that we need to navigate each new day. Amen.

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

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – Psalm 18:32

Peace to Anxious Spaces

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. – (Psalm 139:23, NIV)

God, examine me and know my mind. Test me and know all my worries. – (Psalm 139:23, ERV)

God, I invite Your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares. – (Psalm 139:23, TPT)

This is a good reminder, especially during seasons that seem to spark anxiety. Normally, I would have written something about the eagerness for the first day of school. However, yesterday, all I could do was read and pray, as I was anxious to walk into the unknown after nearly eighteen months. Yes, I had returned to hybrid school in the spring, but there were only a handful of kids in class at any given time, so the idea of full classrooms and the chaos of the “normal” start of the school year was weighty. God knows our needs and meets us where we are. Despite a bit of a bumpy morning, the day went well. Kids were excited to be back at school, and the vast majority were fantastic about masks and social distancing. I know for many, there was much anxiety about the unknown. Two-thirds of the student body had never before set foot on campus. My classes are primarily eighth graders, so most had been away since their sixth grade year that was cut short and flipped upside down. God knows each heart and what it needs. When we slow down and quiet our hearts, He whispers the words that bring peace. I can’t pretend to understand why we are in the midst of a pandemic that is still our reality, but I can trust that He has placed us all together for this season. May we ever give God the reins and ask Him to search our hearts, for He is the One who uncovers and soothes our anxiousness and brings peace to places of uneasiness.

O God, bring us peace,

In space of unrest;

You know well each heart,

And how to love best.

Lead us in Your love,

With goodness and grace;

Teach us to love well,

So peace finds a place.

A place in our schools,

Each classroom and hall;

Let kindness give room,

To one and to all.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us and that You know our every anxious thought. Thank You that You hear and answer us every time we call on You. Forgive us for holding on to anxious thoughts and not giving You room to bring Your peace. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, even when things don’t make sense. Show us how to love well and bring peace to all those whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You our cares and trust Your love to lead us in Your goodness and peace. 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

Abounding Love for the Asking

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call on You. – (Psalm 86:5, NIV)

My Lord, You are good and merciful. You love all those who call on You for help. – (Psalm 86:5, ERV)

O Lord, You are good and ready to forgive; Your loyal love flows generously over all who cry out to You. – (Psalm 86:5, VOICE)

David, the author of the eighty-sixth Psalm, understood and experienced God’s goodness, mercy and loyal love as he called on Him. He was no stranger to desperately needing God, calling on His Name, and then experiencing His goodness, forgiveness and lavish love. In the same way that David sought the Lord and saw His faithfulness, we too, can seek and find the  Lord. If we call on Him, He hears us, and pours out His love upon us. May we ever turn to the Lord in every season, and call on Him to lovingly lead us along every twist and turn our journey provides.

Goodness and mercy,

Mystery of grace;

Lovingly poured out,

As we seek God’s face.

Forgiveness given,

Though it’s undeserved;

Faithful to answer,

Holiness observed.

May we ever seek,

For it’s where we’ll find;

Love that’s unending,

Grace from the Divine.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, we find You and all of Your goodness. Thank You that as we call on Your Name, You hear us and hold our heart. Forgive us for not seeking and pursuing You in all things. Teach us to trust who You are and how You love. Show us how to love those around us in the same way, so that Your goodness and grace may be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we relentlessly pursue You and recognize the blessing beheld in time spent with You. Amen.

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

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11

Follow the Example of Love

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, NIV)

You are God’s dear children, so try to be like Him. Live a life of love. Love others just as Christ loved us. He gave Himself for us – a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, ERV)

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, MSG)

I so appreciate the Message translation of this passage. The reality that what God mostly does is love us, is incredible and undeserved. If we spend time with Him, He teaches and shows us what it is to live a life of love. Christ’s love is selfless, not selfish. He loved without expecting anything in return. We are called to do likewise. This kind of love is not natural for the human heart, however, the more we seek and spend time with the Lord, the more we learn to love like Him. In a world where so much adversity and animosity exist, we need to love all the more. Love is a decision, not a feeling. We must choose to love one another as we are loved by God. In order to do so, we must seek the Lord, know Him, and depend on Him to equip us to do exactly what we were created to do. May we ever lean into the Lord to show us what it is to love in every situation and circumstance.

As children of God,

May we seek to love;

All people, always,

Like the Lord above.

It is a free gift,

With no strings attached;

Yet it draws us in,

In thanks, we react.

Respond with kindness,

God’s grace, love and peace;

The more we choose love,

Enmity released.

The Lord’s love gave all,

We’re called to the same;

To extend His grace,

Instead of placed blame.

Lead us in love, Lord,

Show us love Your way;

Help us be better,

Each waking new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved us – completely and extravagantly, despite what we deserved. Thank You that You call us to love in the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to choose love. Show us how to love like You in all things and at all times. Instruct us as You grow our hearts to more closely reflect Your own. Use us as Your ambassadors of peace as we seek to love You and people well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever pursue You and seek to be a reflection of Your radiant love. Amen.

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

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You. – Psalm 86:5

Place of Safety

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. – (Psalm 62:8, NIV)

People, always put your trust in God! Tell Him all your problems. God is our place of safety. – (Psalm 62:8, ERV)

Join me, everyone! Trust only in God every moment! Tell Him all your troubles and pour out your heart-longings to Him. Believe me when I tell you – He will help you! Pause in His presence. – (Psalm 62:8, TPT)

 

We really are in a space of having no choice but to trust in Him. With the daily tolls climbing of those affected by COVID-19, and the increasing impact it is having on medical system, our economy, and families, it is a space where people either panic or choose to trust. God is a great listener. He hears all that we have to say. No question is too small nor too great, and He is not offended by our lack of understanding. God is our safe space, waiting with open arms to embrace us in our moments of fear, frustration or disbelief. For me, the greatest struggle is having to stay at home. Don’t get me wrong, I love my people who make our house a home; it is the wanderlust in me that has this constant desire to be out moving and doing and exploring. My one escape each day is to run, but that is severely out of balance in relationship to the number of hours I find myself seated on the couch, attempting to make sense of my job and how to function digitally. Please do not misunderstand, for I am immensely grateful that I am among the gainfully employed. Rather, it is a struggle to shift from continually moving around my classroom, and walking about campus, to spending so much time indoors. There is a learning curve, and I am adapting, it just takes time and trust and prayer. What I realize more than ever, is the countless reasons that I do have to express gratitude. Even from indoors, I can see trees surrounding us out each window. When I head outside and walk, I do not need to go far to see cherry blossoms blooming, daffodils cheerfully greeting walkways, and not far off, I can catch glimpses of the Puget Sound. Additionally, when I go further, the snow-capped Cascades rise over the water. If I head a different direction to run, I am greeted by the glorious glaciers gleaming in the early morning light a top Mt. Rainier. Beauty is everywhere, and this is our opportunity to truly take it all in. As we close out our week, may we pause in His presence and share our hearts with He who holds us in the hollow of His hands. God is good, and His love for us knows no end.

 

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Share your heart with Him;

He’s present to help,

As we let Him in.

Our place of safety,

When troubles surround;

Peace in the chaos,

Where life and love’s found.

Lean into Jesus,

He always is near;

Ready to listen,

Each heart cry He’ll hear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are certain, even when all around us is not. Thank You that we can trust in You and depend on You to be our space of safety and the One to whom we can say anything that is on our heart. Thank You that You are bigger than our fears, frustrations and doubts. Forgive us for our restlessness as we adjust to a new normal. Show us how to call on You and depend on You to be our safety, our comfort and our companion. Teach us how to love those around us well, even though it will look different, Your heart can be conveyed through kindness, encouragement and support as we offer what we have to give. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our safety, our confidante and the One who hears our every heart cry as we wait out this storm, loving people well. 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

Generous and Active Love

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You. – (Psalm 86:5, NIV)

My Lord, You are good and merciful. You love all those who call to You for help. – (Psalm 86:5, ERV)

O Lord, You are good and ready to forgive; Your loyal love flows generously over all who cry out to You. – (Psalm 86:5, VOICE)

 

On mornings like this, it is so good to open up my reading for the day and be reminded of who God is and how generously and actively He loves. Love, as God intended, is not a feeling, but it is alive and active. Love forgives, extends goodness, is loyal and generous to all. I am amazed at how quickly He reminds me of His love when I find myself in a space in need of grace. This week has been extraordinarily long, as it is the final week of the semester. Add to that the last meet of the regular season for high school gymnastics and preparations required for the start of middle school season, as well as the ongoing post-season for high school, and I have felt a bit flooded. Kids in classes have been extra stirred up, and the pressure to make certain final submissions of projects are completed, only added to the angst. After practice yesterday afternoon, followed by a run in the pouring rain, I was so grateful to be showered in goodness and grace with a brief dinner escape with my love. The opportunity to connect and catch up after the crazy that the week contained, reminded me of God’s goodness and mercy for me. He provides what we need, when we need it most, and He holds our hearts in His hands, if we are willing to grant Him permission. Each time we call on Him for help, it is an affirmation of our trust in Christ. He hears and knows, and is ready to meet us with His love that is alive and active, ever moving on our behalf. May we call on Christ in faith, trusting in His goodness and grace; for He is good and His love endures forever.

 

The Lord is so good, Generous and Active Love

Abounding in love;

A heart set to give,

All who seek above.

He’s mercy and grace,

Ready to forgive;

Those who call on Him,

Know love as they live.

Faithful forever,

God’s goodness abounds;

Seek Him to find Him,

Where new life is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You show us what love means through Your example. Thank You that as we call on You, we come to know Your goodness, forgiveness, help and love that floods our hearts and lives as we seek You. Forgive us for not turning to You in trust when we grow weary or are at our wits end. Teach us to call out to You, for You are faithful forever. Show us how to love those around us with the same generosity and grace that You have for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call on You and recognize the abounding love that surrounds us as we seek You. Amen.

 

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

 

How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. – Psalm 36:7

Just Pray

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” – (Luke 11:1, NIV)

One time Jesus was out praying, and when He finished, one of His followers said to Him, “John taught his followers how to pray. Lord, teach us how to pray too.” – (Luke 11:1, ERV)

One day, as Jesus was in prayer, one of His disciples came over to Him as He finished and said, “Would you teach us a model prayer that we can pray, just like John did for his disciples?” – (Luke 11:1, TPT)

 

Yesterday, after having been away last weekend, I finally had the opportunity to listen to the podcast from Sunday’s message. This week, Pastor Omar continued his DNA series (A review of our foundational values). The message was about prayer, and spring boarded from the passage in Luke 11, verses 1-13. First and foremost, Jesus lived and modeled a life of prayer. He set the example of what we were designed to do to be in communication with the Father. When asked by a disciple to teach them to pray, Jesus did not rattle off some eloquent prayer, nor give a formula to be repeated; rather what we have come to know as the Lord’s prayer, is really a reminder of things to keep in mind as we pray. We need to acknowledge and praise God for who He is, ask Him to meet our needs; seek forgiveness and His help forgiving others, and His protection from temptation. Jesus went on to tell a story of a person seeking their neighbor in need, and pointed out that the neighbor would get up and help the friend, not because of the friendship, but because of their boldness to ask when it was inconvenient.  The heart of God is so much more than that of our friends, neighbors and family members. He gives the Holy Spirit to help and guide us, and hears every word that is raised heavenward, as He meets the needs we know, and even those we may not be aware of yet. Most of us, if asked, would respond that our prayer life could use a lift. Pastor Omar gave some practical reminders of how exactly we can do just that.

To strengthen our prayer life:

– Ask Jesus to teach us how to pray.

– Walk with the Holy Spirit.

– Find a rhythm for prayer. (Discover when your best time to pray is, and use it!)

– Recognize that there are seasons in life, and as life ebbs and flows, what our prayer life looks like will too.

– Understand that we each have our own personality and relate to God individually. Just as children interact and relate to their parents uniquely, so too, do we with our Heavenly Father.

– Commit for the long haul. Change, habits, lifestyles all transform over time, not overnight.

– Be okay with silence. Sometimes, prayer is sitting silently before God and waiting, listening, or resting in His presence. All are good things to grow in Him.

– Lastly, just pray. To strengthen a prayer life requires praying.

May we remember that prayer is not just a thing that we do, but rather it is a place we go to be in the presence of God to communicate with Him.

 

As for mom, today is the day!!!! After two months and eight days, I will see mom tonight! The moment I arrive home from work, Mark and I will hop in the car and head south to my sister and family’s home in Oregon. Typically, due to traffic, it is a six-plus hour drive. We are praying for traveling mercies and lighter than usual traffic, but no matter what, we will have each other and a great destination awaiting our arrival. The anticipation of seeing Mom and witnessing her progress with my own eyes is making the thought of working a full day prior to our departure, a bit painful. I am praying that today is one of those days that flies by before you even feel like you can blink, sort of days. 😊

 

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The power of prayer;

To touch and change lives,

And show that we care.

It’s crazy to think,

That each time we pray;

He who gave us life,

Hears each word we say.

Holy is the Lord,

Who hears all our needs;

Forgives us our sins,

And in His way, leads.

Make time to reach out,

Spend time with the King;

It’s how lives transform,

As His love He brings.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have the privilege of prayer. Thank You that You, the Creator of the Universe, care and have time to hear the heart and prayers of each of Your created; individually. Forgive us for not making prayer a priority, as communication is key in any relationship. Teach us to pray in a way that is comfortable and natural and sustainable. Show us how to love those around us well, as we lift each up to You in prayer. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You and pray to You, asking, seeking, and listening; for You are amazing and it is a gift to grow in relationship with You. Amen.

 

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

 

I call on You, my God, for You will answer me; turn Your ear to me and hear my prayer. – Psalm 17:7