Choose Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! – (Philippians 4:4, NIV) 

Always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy. – (Philippians 4:4, ERV) 

Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! – (Philippians 4:4, TPT) 

After navigating the first week of school, despite all of the challenges and adjustments to an entirely new way of teaching, I find myself with a heart full of joy. God is good, all the time. Even when things are tough, He is still good. When we seek Him and look to Him to be our joy, we discover the countless ways that He is good. For me, the best thing about remote learning is my new group of kids. These sixth graders are sweet, polite, engaged, and have wonderful senses of humor. There is something to be said about keeping these great kids from too much exposure to the older kids, as they too quickly attempt to change who they are to fit in, during a “normal” school year. As I began to read the surveys that I had my students submit, my joy multiplied. From favorite family traditions to things that inspire them to do their best, these young people blessed my heart to overflowing, and joy abounds. I am reminded again and again, that God grants me joy, and fills my heart to overflowing. May we rejoice in the Lord, always, for He plants His joy deep within us, and fills our days with reason to praise. 

Be cheerful. Find joy, 

In each circumstance; 

For the Lord grants us, 

Hope and second chance. 

Even in trials, 

The Lord’s always good; 

Grants silver lining, 

His hope understood. 

Each day we’re given, 

Help us to rejoice; 

Joy on the journey, 

Is truly a choice. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and bless us with Your deep-rooted joy as we seek You. Thank You that there is always a reason to rejoice in You. Forgive us for our frustration and grumbling when things become difficult. Teach us to rejoice in the hope we have in You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that spread joy in all things and all seasons. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and rejoice in You, always. Amen. 

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

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

Be Filled With Kindness

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them. – (Hosea 11:4, NIV) 

A despondent person deserves kindness from his friends, even though he strays from the fear of the Highest One. – (Job 6:14, VOICE) 

With every sun’s rising, surprise us with Your love, satisfy us with Your kindness. Then we will sing with joy and celebrate every day we are alive. – (Psalm 90:14, VOICE) 

The Lord is righteous in everything He does; He is filled with kindness. – (Psalm 145:17, NLT) 

Kindness is synonymous with benevolent, generous, charitable, sympathetic, compassionate, and tender. The act of being kind, or operating with kindness is to see others where they are and choose to love as God loves us. The four verses that I recorded above, demonstrate a variety of ways to show kindness. Hosea compares kindness to caring for kids – loving and feeding them. Job highlights that kindness is not about giving based on the behavior of the recipient, but rather is a choice to give as God gives. David, in the Psalms, talks about God’s kindness satisfying us to the point where we ought to sing with joy and celebrate the life we have been given. He goes on further to identify that everything the Lord does is filled with kindness. We have a standard set before us as to how we ought to operate in kindness. Kindness sees need and acts upon it in love. I love when popular culture grabs onto something biblical and runs with it. “Be kind” and “Choose kindness” are but a few of the phrases that one can find on t-shirts, posters and mugs, as a battle cry to humanity. Kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and a way demonstrate God’s fruitfulness in our lives. As we choose to extend kindness to those around us, we are making God’s love tangible to those who may not know Him. In this long season of uncertainty, there is plenty of room for kindness to be extended. School is going to begin as never before, and parents, students and teachers alike, have reservations and fears, as there are so many questions that need to be answered to successfully navigate it all. The same remains true for businesses, jobs, and making ends meet for so many. Everywhere we look, there is room for kindness. Though we cannot do or be all things, we each can choose to be kind. Kindness may look different to each person that we opt extend it, yet the heart behind each act of kindness must be to love as God loves us. Sometimes, it is simply asking someone how they are doing, and then really listening to their reply. Other times, it is seeing a need and meeting it. Always, kindness is a reflection of a heart of love. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to best be kind to everyone we encounter. 

May true kindness rule, 

And reign in our hearts; 

Let us act in love, 

Each choose do our part. 

In spaces where kind, 

Is needed the most; 

Help our words and deeds, 

Show Your heart is close. 

Close in our chaos, 

Our spaces of need; 

As kindness brings peace, 

If in love, we lead. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your kindness leads us to repentance, which ultimately brings change and beautiful new. Thank You that You show us again and again how we are able to be kind and extend kindness where it is needed the most. Forgive us for the times that we have not opted to be kind. Show us how to choose kindness in every interaction, word and deed. Lead us to love as You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to be kind to all. Amen. 

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

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12 

Live Wisely and Do Good

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. – (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV) 

So be very careful how you live. Live wisely, not like fools. I mean that you should use every opportunity you have for doing good, because these are evil times. – (Ephesians 5:15-16, ERV) 

So be careful how you live, not being like those with no understanding, but live honorably with true wisdom, for we are living in evil times. Take full advantage of every day as you spend your life for His purposes. – (Ephesians 5:15-16, TPT) 

How we live matters. To live well requires wisdom and a choice to make the most of every opportunity to do good and live for His purposes. Evil exists in the world, but we can overcome evil with good. We can either allow the darkness to overcome us, or we can be light bearers and bring good wherever we go. No one is perfect, yet we can ever purposefully pursue His best for how we live out our days. When we are intentional to seek the Lord and listen to His leading, we walk in His wisdom and grace that leads us to love as we are loved by Him. May we ever be careful how we live; choosing wisdom and the pursuit of good toward all. 

Choose live carefully, 

Use wisdom and grace; 

To love and do good, 

Throughout all our days. 

Though there is evil, 

True good overcomes; 

Wise, loving living, 

Shows how good is done. 

So, ever pursue, 

God’s purpose for us; 

Be bearers of light, 

Just like our Jesus. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that despite the evil in the world, You are good, and good overcomes every darkness. Thank You that You designed each of us to be bearers of light and to do good. Forgive us for the times that we have not. Show us how to listen to Your leading, so that we may do good and love well. Teach us to love those around us in the same way that You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as You grant us wisdom to do good, regardless of what surrounds us. Amen. 

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

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21

Forgive, Listen and Grow

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) 

Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act kind. – (Colossians 3:13, VOICE) 

Our nation is in a space where forgiveness is needed for all. For many of us, our own ignorance to the magnitude of the problem that still exists in this country is a grievance in and of itself. We must bear with one another in love, as we seek to listen, learn and grow. The enemy is not people who hold a particular profession, nor is it people who protest and take a stand against what is blaringly wrong. There is an enemy of our souls, who seeks to kill and destroy, as lies, ignorance and ugliness create division. That sin that has seeped in and wrapped its tendrils around unprotected hearts, has created the heinous atrocities that have transpired over time. Justice must be served, and we must walk in forgiveness with repentant hearts; for we each have played a role in perpetuating the problem, if we have not been actively pursuing better. For many of us, this is a season of awakening to a nightmare that many have been living for centuries. In order to be better, we must listen and learn. For me, this comes in the form of reading everything I can get my hands on, listening to those who have a voice of experience, have honest conversations and self-reflection, so that I may be aware and informed; willing to forgive my own ignorance, as I move forward with intention and honesty. Rather than lashing out with accusations and ugliness, how can we have hard conversations and speak truth to those in our circles who need to hear? Forgiveness does not mean ignoring nor sweeping things under the rug, but rather it is a commitment to not hold hostility in our hearts toward others, and choose to kindly come along side people and help them see the truth. Some will not listen. Love anyway. Others will be slow to see the truth. Love anyway. To choose to love is the only way that true change can occur. Jesus reached out, spoke, touched, and loved all people. There were no qualifiers to Him loving, rather He saw needs and met them. As He loved the people whom society had deemed “less than”, Jesus modeled what we are all meant to do. There are none less nor more valuable than others. We are all precious in His sight. Sadly, we are in a space where there has been such injustice against people of color, that it is necessary to draw specific attention to the wrongs so that change may transpire. We must be and do better. None of us will ever get everything right, but if our hearts are for ALL, and we are actively seeking to listen, learn and grow, we will be agents of change for the better. May we seek the Lord for forgiveness, so that we may forgive ourselves and one another as we move in love toward what God intended all along. 

The choice to forgive, 

To listen and grow; 

Is how we are called, 

So truth may be known. 

Instead of anger, 

Let’s have open hearts; 

That true repentance, 

Finds a way to start. 

As we’re forgiven, 

May we do the same; 

Love one another, 

In Jesus’s Name. 

Love with true kindness, 

Without fear to speak; 

Truth for what is right, 

God’s will, ever seek. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are called to bear with one another in love, and choose forgive. Thank You that forgiveness does not mean permission to repeat wrongs, but rather it is us not holding onto past wrongs that weigh us down and prevent us from moving forward in all that You are calling us to. Teach us to do and be better, so that all may live and love in freedom, without fear. Show us how to love those around us better. Lead us to repentance so that reconciliation may transpire. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the true healer and reconciler of all. Be glorified O God, as we listen, learn and grow in love for one another. 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

Refuge, Strength and Help

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – (Psalm 46:1, NIV)

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

God, You’re such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You’re a proven help in time of trouble – more than enough and always available whenever I need You. – (Psalm 46:1, TPT)

 

I try not to catch too much of the news, as more than one update per day does nothing but cause anxiety in anyone. Yes, it is wise to be aware and recognize the reality of the situation and risk that we all are living in, but bombarding ourselves with a constant barrage of numbers and images only instills fear. If we are staying at home as ordered, we ought to be okay. God is our protection and source of strength; ready to help us in times like these. If peace is lacking; He is peace. If all seems chaotic and out of control; Christ brings calm and order. When our strength is sapped, His is steadfast. It is a matter of choice as to where we turn in times of trial. As we turn to God, we find safety, strength and help; whereas when we rely on our own devices, we end up fearful, stressed out and anxious about everything. May we turn to God, who is our refuge, strength and help, as He brings peace in the places within us that need it most.

For me, what seemed like a random impulse purchase on Amazon, actually turned out to likely be some listening to the still small voice within. I struggle staying put, especially when I feel like I have to stay seated and stuck in one area for any length of time. After the addition of a long string of color-changing LED lights around the perimeter of the room where I need to spend my days during the week for work, it suddenly is a calmer, more welcome space, that I find easier to be in. More of a refuge and less of a space that I’m stuck. God cares about the little things, and it is amazing what a tremendous difference the little things make in the overall scheme of an entire day. God is good, and He provides as we abide; may we ever choose seek Him for refuge, help and strength.

 

God is my refuge, wp-15854082280268137732906669162830.jpg

In whom I abide;

He is my safe space,

Where true peace resides.

The Lord is my strength,

And help as I seek;

Ever He’s faithful,

Provider of peace.

When there is chaos,

His love brings the calm;

Unending mercy,

Our true healing balm.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can seek You and You answer. Thank You that You are our refuge, strength and help whenever we call on Your Name. Thank You that You are forever faithful. Forgive us for our anxiousness when chaos and uncertainty surround us. Teach us to trust You more, as You are the anchor in our storms and the peace when there is chaos within. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer refuge, strength and help so that they too, may find comfort and peace in these times of such uncertainty. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our refuge, strength and help in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

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

In Worrisome Space

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. – (1 Peter 5:7, NIV)

Give all your worries to Him, because He cares for you. – (1 Peter 5:7, ERV)

Let Him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you. – (1 Peter 5:7, TLB)

 

We are in a time that is full of uncertainty and unknowns. It is seemingly impossible to avoid “what if” scenarios, as a state of emergency has been declared by our governor, and the World Health Organization has deemed Covid-19 a pandemic. The weight and worry that I bear looks different than those who are living with compromised immune systems or are in households with young children or elderly, as their concerns are much more immediate and life-threatening. For others, it is more a matter of day-to-day living and the wonder as to how it will all work out. As an educator, there is much uncertainty as to when our schools will be closed, and for how long. In this space, my only real choice is to give all of my worries and uncertainties to God. He sees and knows, and He cares about all that concerns us. I know not why such a crazy crisis is taking place, yet I know it is an opportunity for people to rise up and love others well. Our charge is to love as we are loved. May we give all of our worries to God, because He cares for us, and depend on Him to lead and guide us as we navigate this rocky road of uncertainty.

 

In worrisome space, In Worrisome Space

Give all unto God;

The Lord cares for us,

Despite all our flaws.

He sees and He knows,

Our each anxious thought;

He’s present to help,

Each time He is sought.

Even when all things,

Impossible seem;

The Lord has a way,

To give grace, redeem.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You and cast all of our worries and cares upon You. Thank You that Your hands can hold them, and Your shoulders have already bore every burden we ever will bear. Thank You that You provide grace, goodness and love as we come to You. Forgive us for carrying weight and holding anxiety and concerns that we are not meant to hold in fear. Teach us to trust You and listen to wisdom, so that we would navigate in grace and love. Show us how to love well, all those around us, in tangible and meaningful ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our cares and concerns and trust You to lead us in wisdom and strength in the face of all of the unknown. Above all, help us to choose love in all that we say and do, every step of the way. Amen.

 

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

 

Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. – Psalm 55:22

Filter the Flow

“Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” – (Mark 7:15, NIV)

“Your souls aren’t harmed by what you eat, but by what you think and say!” – (Mark 7:15, TLB)

“There is nothing outside someone that can corrupt him. Only the things that come out of a person can corrupt him.” – (Mark 7:15, VOICE)

 

The things that surround us do not defile us by their mere existence. It is what we do with what we take in that determines the outcome. Our thoughts, words and deeds are what demonstrate the condition of our heart, not what we eat or where we happen to be planted. We all have a choice as to what we do with what we take in – we either embrace whatever it is and it seasons that which we say and do, or we recognize the need for a Godly filter, and cast aside that which is of no benefit to us or others. May we seek the Lord and His goodness and grace, allowing room for His heavenly filter to decipher what is beneficial and what needs to be let go, so that what comes out of us is wrapped in the love of God.

 

Our heart is the space, Enter With Thanksgiving

Where we all decide;

Which words and actions,

In life, be applied.

It is these choices,

Not things that surround;

That lift or corrupt,

As the truth is found.

May we all choose seek,

The Lord and His grace;

May our words and deeds,

Provide love’s embrace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what is outside of us and even what we take in is not what corrupts us. Thank You that it is a matter of the heart and what we do with our thoughts and actions that determine whether we are walking in line with You or far from You. Forgive us for the times that we have wandered on our own with our words, thoughts or actions. Please repair the damage done by our lack of listening. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would take pause and listen to Your leading in every word, thought and deed. Show us how to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead and guide us in our thoughts, words and actions. May we ever honor You in all that we say and do. Amen.

 

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

 

Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth. – Psalm 54:2

Love Fulfills the Law

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. – (Romans 13:9-10, NIV)

The law says, “You must not commit adultery, you must not murder anyone, you must not steal, you must not want what belongs to someone else.” All these commands and all other commands are really only one rule: “Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.” Love doesn’t hurt others. So loving is the same as obeying all the law. – (Romans 13:9-10, ERV)

For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” and every other commandment can be summed up in these words: “Love and value others the same way you love and value yourself.” Love makes it impossible to harm another, so love fulfills all that the law requires. – (Romans 13:9-10, TPT)

 

This really sums up so much. Our charge, our call, our purpose, above all else, is to LOVE. If we truly love as God intended, we are obeying and honoring God, and showing the world what love really means. The “Golden Rule” is similarly based on this sort of love. To do unto others as we want done unto us, is the same as loving our neighbors as ourselves. Isn’t that what everyone ultimately desires? To love and be loved in return? It is no surprise that the longing within us aligns with the intent and purpose for which we were created. It is the most difficult to love when the recipient of our choice to love does not do the same in return. However, we are called to love anyway. Often, the repeated extension of kindness breaks down the barriers that are blocking another from receiving or giving love. Once they begin to see, know and understand that it is genuine, they become more willing to receive and return what is given. May we ever choose to love others as we desire to be loved; for this is what we are called and commanded to do.

 

Choose love each other, Ambassadors of Love

As we’d like love back;

For this is our charge,

To do as God asks.

All those whom we meet,

Are neighbors indeed;

Ready for kindness,

Love’s a human need.

Each time that we choose,

To give love away;

We’re following God,

For love is His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and command us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Thank You that You do not just command it, but You have shown us again and again what it is to love. Forgive us for the times that we have not loved as You would want us to love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would extend kindness, mercy and grace, even in the face of adversity and ugliness. Show us how to love all of those You have placed around us in ways that make Your heart tangible to them, individually. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love others as You call us to love. 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

As I Rise

You are my strength, I sing praise to You; You, God are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. – (Psalm 59:17, NIV)

I will sing praises to You, my Source of strength. You, God, are my place of safety. You are the God who loves me! – (Psalm 59:17, ERV)

I will lift my voice to sing Your praise, O my Strength – for You came to my defense. O God, You have shown me Your loving mercy. – (Psalm 59:17, VOICE)

 

This morning, there is a choice to trust and praise involved as I rise. The day holds an overwhelming amount of new, which requires strength of heart, mind and body, to navigate as I go. For me, a new semester means three brand new classes of students to get to know, as well as the first day of middle school gymnastics. No matter how many times one has experienced such firsts before, there is always a bit of nervous anticipation for how all will unfold. Yes, there is wisdom in experience, yet each new group has its own dynamics and set of personalities. There is never a “one-size-fits-all” in establishing a positive classroom culture. This is the space where I rely on God’s grace to lead and guide me as I go. Of course, I prepare the things that I need to have ready, but I trust in the Lord to guide me as I navigate the new. Today I praise God, the Source of my strength, and trust in His loving kindness and provision as I prepare for the new that this day has in store.

 

This morning I rise, Statements of Praise

And choose to sing praise;

For God is my strength,

Throughout all my days.

Faithful forever,

No matter what comes;

His presence promised,

Loving, Holy One.

Ever I will seek,

For in Him I find;

All that is needed,

To press on, be kind.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unending faithfulness to be our strength and security in our spaces of the unknown. Thank You that You empower and equip us to navigate the new, and help us to do as You call us to. Forgive us for our anxiousness at all that lies before us, when we take our eyes off of You and allow our minds to fix on the size of what lies ahead. Teach us to trust You with all, as You are more than enough to navigate every circumstance and situation with wisdom, strength and grace. Show us how to love those around us well, so that Your strength and loving mercy may be made evident in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You, our Strength, for who You are and how You provide for us. 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