United Together

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! – (Psalm 133:1, NIV)

Oh how wonderful, how pleasing it is when God’s people come together as one! – (Psalm 133:1, ERV)

How truly wonderful and delightful it is to see brothers and sisters living together in sweet unity! – (Psalm 133:1, TPT)

There is nothing quite so sweet as when a group of people lives, works, and goes about their days in unity. Unity does not mean that all see eye-to-eye on all things, but rather that there is mutual respect and appreciation, as all are aiming for a similar goal. If we love, respect and prefer one another, unity naturally follows. God was intentional in how we were each designed. We each have strengths and purposes that contribute to the whole when we exist in community. May we ever pursue peace as we navigate each new day with the intent to love well, so that we may walk in unity with those whom God has placed around us.

United in peace,

Surrounded in love;

God grant us the grace,

To walk well with love.

For we were designed,

To live side by side;

Shoulder to shoulder,

With God as our guide.

He shows us the way,

To live and love best;

Care for each other,

Give grace and find rest.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us for community. Thank You that You show us how to live and love in a way that brings unity. Forgive us for the times that we have not sought to see others through Your eyes. Teach us to turn to You first, so that we may gain perspective and capacity to listen and love. Show us how to love those around us best, so that all may feel included and valued in the community. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to live and love in a way that unites and brings peace. Amen.

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

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:3

Rest in His Care

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. – (Psalm 116:7, NIV)

My soul, relax! The Lord is caring for you. – (Psalm 116:7, ERV)

I said to myself, “Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings.” – (Psalm 116:7, MSG)

This needs to be an ongoing reminder every single time the challenges of life come our way. There will always be trials and struggles, yet in the midst of them, God is near and His goodness never ends. For the last week, our home has been without water. Our water main to the house burst and we had to have the water main shut off until it could be replaced. Yes, it was inconvenient and the cost of the repair was not in our budget, yet even so, God has been good and has provided what we have needed. Yesterday, the repairs were made and I don’t think I have ever appreciated a shower in my own bathroom and the ability to do laundry and dishes more. Additionally, I was reminded that our week-long inconvenience was many people in the world’s reality. It is a luxury and a blessing to have access to clean running water that comes into our homes. No matter what comes our way, God is with us, and there are always blessings to count. May we take time to relax and rest in Him, and remember the blessings and care the Christ has for us all.

No matter what comes,

The Lord’s always near;

Present to help us,

And overcome fear.

The Lord, He provides,

He meets all our needs;

Our love and comfort,

Despite what we see.

Lord, settle our souls,

Help us rest in You;

Notice each blessing,

As You lead us through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can find rest in You, no matter what comes our way. Thank You that You are present to help and that You provide what we need. Forgive us for our frustration when things go awry, and teach us to relax and trust in You to lead us through. Show us how to love, support and encourage others well in all things, so that Your blessings may be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rest and relax in You, knowing that Your presence and love will lead us through. Amen.

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

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. – Psalm 62:5

Tend Well the Temple

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, NIV)

With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, MSG)

Beloved ones, with promises like these, and because of our deepest respect and worship of God, we must remove everything that contaminates body and spirit, and continue to complete the development of holiness within us. – (2 Corinthians 7:1, TPT)

It is the love and faithfulness of God that ought to compel us to treat our minds and bodies and His temple. When we love God and invite Him into our lives, He is present with each thing that we take in, be it exposure, what we eat, and how we care for what we have been given. That reminder alone inspires me to care well for my body and to use caution with the things to which I choose to expose my heart and mind. God has made me a very visual creature, so I know that I cannot watch anything that I don’t want to live over and over again. Rather than a filter, my mind is more like a recorder that can get stuck on repeat when exposed to graphic violence and gore. Because of this, I will not and cannot watch violent shows, games, etc. Rather, I am intentional to begin each day with Him and focusing on His word, so that my heart and mind are equipped with His goodness and love. We are all a work in progress. It is an ongoing labor of love throughout our lives, not just a quick fix for the here and now. The healthier and stronger our bodies and minds are, the better equipped we are to walk out our purpose. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to tend well the temples that we have been given.

Lord, help us to care,

For body and mind;

Tend well the temple,

For Your love is kind.

Inspire us to move,

Be healthy and strong;

Cautious exposure,

Throughout each day long.

Show us what is good,

To listen in love;

So we are ready,

To serve You above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You dwell within us when we invite You. Thank You that You call us to tend our temples well, so that we are best equipped to honor, love and serve You. Forgive us for the times that we either neglect to care for our bodies, or expose our minds and hearts to things that do not glorify You. Teach us to ever seek to honor You through the care of our body and mind. Show us how to love those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to tend the temple we have been given in a way that honors You. Amen.

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

And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you. – Romans 8:11

Familial Friends

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – (Romans 12:10, NIV)

Love each other in a way that makes you feel close like brothers and sisters. And give each other more honor than you give to yourself. – (Romans 12:10, ERV)

Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first. – (Romans 12:10, VOICE)

It is a gift to find friends that become family. This transpires when those with whom one keeps company love and honor each other with intention. To put others first, requires a determination to listen, love and care for them like family. We are beyond blessed to have friends that have become family to us. After four days of a wonderful getaway together, I am all the more grateful for our framily. (Friends who have become family) There is a mutual love and appreciation for one another that creates safe space and freedom to be oneself. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to be devoted to one another in love, and show us how to put others first in the way that He intended.

Choose be devoted,

In love and in grace;

Honor each other,

In every way.

With love, choose listen,

Let each heart be heard;

Notice the actions,

Love with more than words.

Each heart is a gift,

Sisters and brothers;

To learn, love and grow,

Purpose together.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of friends who become family. Thank You for real life examples of what it is to love and honor each other as You intended. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to do so. Teach us to view others through Your lens of love so that we may love and honor others like You. Show us how to love in such a way that those around us see Your heart and know their worth. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love those You have brought into our lives as family. Amen.

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

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:11

Perfect Love

“If imperfect parents know how to lovingly take care of their children and give them what they need, how much more will the perfect heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit’s fullness when His children ask Him.” – (Luke 11:13, TPT)

“Even you who are bad know how to give good things to your children. So surely your heavenly Father knows how to give the Holy Spirit to the people who ask Him.” – (Luke 11:13, ERV)

Look, all of you are flawed in so many ways, yet in spite of all your faults, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to all who ask! – (Luke 11:13, VOICE)

This is a reminder of God’s faithfulness, despite our flaws, failures and shortcomings. Whether a parent to children or fur babies, we all know how to give good gifts to those in our care, despite being broken and sinful. How much more does God, who is perfect in all His ways, know how to give us all that He has to offer when we seek Him? The Holy Spirit is God’s presence within us. If God is for us, who can be against us? God’s Spirit within us will lead us, guide us, protect us and help us as we earnestly seek Him. May we always remember the depth and power of our Heavenly Father’s love, so that we may ever seek Him.

Despite all our flaws,

The Lord’s ever near;

Ready to help us,

Making His way clear.

Just as a parent,

Knows how to love well;

Our perfect Father,

Will in us, come dwell.

It is in nearness,

That we’re led and known;

Grace overflowing,

As His love is shown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bless us with the ultimate gift as we ask. Thank You that Your presence is the greatest provider ever known. Thank You that by Your Spirit, You lead us, guide us, bless and protect us, as we place our heart in Your hands. Forgive us for forgetting how exceedingly powerful Your love is, and lead us to love likewise. Show us how to give good gifts to all, so that each who crosses our path may witness glimpses of You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fill us with Your Spirit, so that Your path will be made clear in all that we say and do. Amen.

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

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:14

Called to Compassion

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. – (Romans 12:15, NIV)

Celebrate with those who celebrate, and weep with those who grieve. – (Romans 12:15, TPT)

If some have cause to celebrate, join in the celebration. And if others are weeping, join in that as well. – (Romans 12:15, VOICE)

We are called to be compassionate and to have empathy for one another. This is natural with those with whom we are closest, but it requires an intentional decision to love enough to invest in the hearts of others. When we do, we understand and care about what transpires in the lives of those around us. A love that is true is one that celebrates with others when good comes their way, and mourns alongside them when losses are experienced. Such love not only asks how others are doing, but is prepared to receive honest answers through active and intentional listening. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us in compassion and empathy for those around us, so that we may truly love as we are called to love by God.

To love as God loves,

Requires intent;

To seek understand,

Purposeful time spent.

Called to compassion,

To walk alongside;

Love for the hurting,

With arms open wide.

And when there’s reason,

To rise and rejoice;

Shoulder to shoulder,

In praise, lift each voice.

Through ev’ry season,

Choose to truly love;

For that’s how others,

Know they are thought of.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to compassion and empathy for those around us. Thank You that You showed us through Your Son, what such love looks like. Jesus rejoiced with those who rejoiced, and wept with those in mourning. Forgive us for the times that we either ignored an opportunity to love well, or sought to help without truly responding in love. Show us how to celebrate with those who celebrate and to mourn with those who are grieving. Lead us to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your heart for those around us so that we may love like You. Amen.

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

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

Two Ears and Only One Mouth

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)

My dearest brothers and sisters, take this to heart: Be quick to listen, but slow to speak. And be slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, TPT)

As always, this is a timely reminder. Yesterday, my husband received the video footage that was submitted to animal control by kind citizens who had caught horrendous footage of the abuse of our dog by the trainers in whom we had entrusted him. My initial reaction to the entire situation was both anger and sorrow. I was enraged at the betrayal of our trust by the trainers, and absolutely gutted knowing what my poor puppy had endured. God was very specific with me in how I ought to respond to the whole situation, and by placing all of my focus on the care of Thor, I was able to release the anger and love on my pup. The news that my husband had the video in his possession brought my initial reaction back to the surface. Knowing that I was not called to allow my anger to get the best of me, I had to work through it all over again. Sometimes, what we listen to is not beneficial. However, remembering to be slow to speak will always serve us well. Once words have left our lips, we cannot take them back. I know that there is righteous anger, yet it is still not something that I am meant to hold. Feeling and acting are two very different things. What we feel cannot dictate what we do. There are times that we simply must trust that justice will be served and place our attention on caring well for the wounded. Even now, as Thor sits beside me as I try to write, his continuous reaching out with his paws reminds me to focus on loving and caring well for him. May we ever seek the Lord to help us to listen first, be slow to speak, and to keep our anger in check. He is faithful to help us walk in His way and do His will as we earnestly seek Him.

Lord, help us to lead,

With listening ears;

A heart set to love,

As we choose to hear.

Then help us to tame,

Our tongues in replies;

Grant wisdom with words,

As grace You supply.

And as for anger,

Let’s give it to You;

As we choose to seek,

We’re shown what to do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see and You know all things. Thank You for giving us two ears and only one mouth. Help us to use them accordingly. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to listen, speak without weighing our words, and allow anger to flow instead of placing all in Your hands. Teach us to be quick to listen and slow to speak, and to slow our roll when anger rises. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes all feel valued and heard. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are intentional to truly listen, slow to speak, and slow to allow anger find a foothold. Amen.

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

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. – Psalm 105:4

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

Pause, Ponder and Praise

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)

Christ had no sin, but God made Him become sin so that in Christ we could be right with God. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, ERV)

How? You ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on Him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. – (2 Corinthians 5:21, MSG)

As we enter this most holy week, in preparation for Easter, it is good to consider what Christ did for us in order for all to have the opportunity to be right with God. Jesus left heaven, was born as a baby, grew up in an ordinary place, and began touching and changing lives when His time had come. For more than three years, He lived, loved, taught, encouraged, healed, touched, and transformed the lives of those whom He encountered. Though Jesus knew what stood before Him as He made His triumphal entry on Palm Sunday, He loved so much that He continued. His fate was to bear the weight of the world on His shoulders, as He hung on the cross that dismal Friday. Jesus’ decision to die in our place, made the way for us to be forgiven and set free to be in the very presence of God. Gone are the days of sacrifice and atonement for our sin because of that one decision to take it all. Sin, shame and sorrow were surrendered on the cross, so that we might experience forgiveness, blessing and joy. Though we all fall short, as we choose to pursue a life after God, we are forgiven and led forward into a life everlasting. Pondering all that Christ went through on my behalf, intensifies my desire to live a life that is pleasing unto Him. May we ever make time to reflect on the goodness of God, and give praise for the way that has been made for us to be right before Him.

Sinless was Jesus,

Hanging on the cross;

Done on our behalf,

Aware of the cost.

To become the sin,

All that we have done;

He felt the anguish,

The Most Holy One.

Willing He chose death,

To offer new life;

Hope for all people,

An ending to strife.

Earnestly seek Him,

Pursue Him with praise;

He loves forever,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You loved so much that You sent Your one and only Son. Thank You Jesus, that You lived and loved and led a life that was without sin. Thank You that You took our sin upon Yourself so that we could come into relationship with You. Forgive us for not pausing to ponder and praise You for all that You have done to may the way for us to be in Your presence forever. Teach us to recognize Your goodness and Your nearness. Show us how to love in such a way that Your heart may be made known to the world. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we take pause to ponder all that You have done and praise You for who You are. Amen.

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

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them? – Psalm 8:3-4

Humbly Love

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. – (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV) 

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too. – (Philippians 2:3-4, ERV) 

Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. Abandon every display of selfishness. Possess a greater concern for what matters to others instead of your own interests. – (Philippians 2:3-4, TPT) 

There is so much packed in these two very timely verses. We are in a season in this nation where so often, pride dictates what is said and done. Humility and the interests of others are often neglected, and care and concern for one another seems all but gone. Witnessing the whole cycle leaves me feeling depleted and wanting to withdraw. Sadly, that is not demonstrating care for others either. I find myself having to seek God and dig deep to reach beyond these four walls. Time invested in Him and spending time out in His creation, are two of the best ways that I seem to find the strength and desire to see and reach out beyond my own little world. Even at home this holds true. It is a space of seeking His balance in all things. For example, it is a huge challenge to have to sit and stare at a computer screen for more than eight hours a day for work, and then devote another stretch of time for the writing and publishing portion of this. Grace is abundant, and I have had to let my own expectations go. God is just as happy with me and for me on the days that I take my dog for a walk outdoors while recognizing Him in all things, as He is when I begin my day as I am accustomed. This sort of balance in the taxing existence that is remote education, is absolutely necessary if I am to give my best to my students and their families as we navigate each new day. I have in no way arrived at some perfect balance, nor do I have all the answers. However, I notice that whichever I choose to do to begin my day, has the capacity to set my heart on what is best for others and how I can truly love. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to humbly honor one another and to care about each other’s lives. 

O Lord, please help us, 

To turn unto You; 

Aligning our hearts, 

To choose to love true. 

May we seek Your strength, 

In humility; 

To honor others, 

Let Your love be seen. 

Show us the balance, 

In how best to be; 

To love each other, 

May goodness increase. 

Dear Heavenly Father, we are a selfish and broken people, desperately in need of a Savior. Thank You that You not only tell us in Your word, but You have shown us how to live and love through the life of Jesus. Forgive us for the times that we allow our pride or selfish ambition to keep us from living and loving like You. Teach us how to be humble and kind, ever placing care on those around us, rather than just ourselves. Show us how to love others as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grant us Your heart and Your eyes for everyone we meet. Amen. 

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

Human, the Lord has told you what goodness is. This is what He wants from you: Be fair to other people. Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God. – Micah 6:8