Present Joy

When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought me joy. – (Psalm 94:19, NIV)

I was very worried and upset, but You comforted me and made me happy! – (Psalm 94:19, ERV)

When anxiety overtakes me and worries are many, Your comfort lightens my soul. – (Psalm 94:19, VOICE)

In this second week of Advent, the focus shifts to joy. In the context of Christmas, the joy of the world has come. I appreciate the reminder in this verse, as anxiety and worries have been an ongoing battle within me for the last few weeks. The space of waiting between a diagnosis and the procedure to solve it is long. Unknowns bring concern, and waiting makes anxiety increase. However, when God’s joy rises, anxiety slips away. The two cannot coexist. When one is in the forefront, the other fades into the background. Joy is the great delight in something good, and when we know Jesus, we always have something good to delight in, thus joy dwells within us. The challenge is to not lose sight of the joy we know in Jesus. Challenges, trials, heartache and hurt all try to steal our joy, yet Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured it all. He knew the hope held in eternity, and the knowing is what brings joy. Though we know not what tomorrow will bring, we can be certain, and find joy, in the promises of all that is yet to come and in the ongoing presence of our Savior. May we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him took all upon Himself so that we might know true joy in and through Him.

Joy’s always present,

If we look around;

Evidence of God,

Is easily found.

Because Jesus came,

On the cross, bore all;

Hope is forever,

Through Him joy’s installed.

As we fix our eyes,

On Jesus alone;

Anxieties flee,

And joy is made known.

So, lift up your eyes,

With hope embrace joy;

It’s not a feeling,

But truth to employ.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son into the world. Thank You that Jesus demonstrated the joy that is found in knowing You. Forgive us for allowing our fears and anxieties to steal our joy, for You have planted Your joy deep within us, and it is not dependent on how we are feeling or what is going on. Teach us how to choose joy in all circumstances. Show us how to love those around us in ways that communicate the joy that is found in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as they discover the joy that comes from knowing and being loved by You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the joy that we have in You and help us to spread joy wherever we go. Amen.

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

(Let us) fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

Compassion and Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father compassion and the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father who is full of mercy, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, ERV)

All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, VOICE)

Most nights, I wake and have little or no recollection as to what I dreamed about. This morning, however, I woke after having dreamed all throughout the night about the surgery that was just scheduled yesterday. It was neither bad nor good, but rather felt like an abundance of waiting. I imagine that it was sparked by the concern that has been weighing on me since I was told the appointment schedule, and it carried over into my dreams. It is no mystery that I am anxious about what lies ahead, yet I know I am in a space where I must simply trust and go through the process. Though I have never experienced anything quite like this before, I have experienced the unfailing faithfulness of God. God is compassionate and is our comfort, and time and time again, I can share His heart for these things in our lives. He has been with me, provided for me, and comforted me through some of life’s lowest valleys. God stayed beside me, held me up, and provided all that I needed to keep moving forward. In fifteen days, the process will have begun, and in sixteen, it will be complete. Right now, that seems like a very long wait. However, when I look back, it does not feel like gymnastics season is nearly a month in. Even when days drag on, the weeks have flown much more rapidly than realized. Time is tricky, as it goes quickly when we want it to slow down, and it seems to stand still when we desire time to speed up. God is faithful through it all, and when my focus is on praising Him and His goodness, time does not matter. May we ever seek God in all things and at all times, for He is compassionate and provides comfort as each is needed.

Praise be to the Lord,

In all things, always;

For He’s our comfort,

Throughout all our days.

When we are anxious,

We need not give fear;

A foot to stand on,

For God is so near.

His great compassion,

Comfort for the soul;

Soothes us in stillness,

As He makes us whole.

So, trust in the Lord,

Ever give Him praise;

Our hope forever,

The Ancient of Days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know our hearts and our needs far better than we do. Thank You that You are our Comforter, and You are full of compassion for us all. Forgive us for our fearfulness as we face unknowns. Teach us to trust and rely on You more, for You are faithful to go before us, stay beside us, and hold us up when we are unable to move forward without Your strength. Show us how to navigate the unknowns with faith in Your nearness, and grant us wisdom to know how to encourage and walk beside those who are in such spaces. Let Your love be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our every fear and concern in Your capable and compassionate hands, for You are with us and will not leave us. Amen.

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

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4

Finding Perfect Peace

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. – (Isaiah 26:3, NIV)

God, You give true peace to people who depend on You, to those who trust in You. – (Isaiah 26:3, ERV)

You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You. – (Isaiah 26:3, VOICE)

I try not to watch nor read too much of the news, but rather just enough to have an idea of what is going on in the world. Over the last several days, it has been a challenge to get my heart to settle with so much unrest and disaster in the world around us. God’s peace does not mean that all chaos ceases, but rather it is His presence despite the chaos that grants us His perfect peace. Each time my heart becomes unsettled, I must give it to Him and choose to trust. Ultimately, He is in control and will remain with me no matter what comes. Today, as I start my day, my prayer is for all those who are in the spaces of disaster and in the midst of wars. May help and peace, safety and security come to all who are in the middle of such turmoil.

O God, You are good,

Despite what we see;

Our beacon of hope,

The peace that we need.

Lord may Your presence,

Love, help, hope and grace;

Be made tangible,

In unsettled space.

Grant safety to all,

In spaces of fear;

Give strength and escape,

Lord, be ever near.

May each new concern,

Compel us to pray;

Please grant miracles,

Throughout each new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give true peace to those who depend on You. Lord, I place every concern in Your mighty hands and ask You to work as only You can. Forgive us for our fears, doubts, and unbelief in the face of disasters. Teach us to trust and depend on You, for You alone are greater than anything we face. Show us how to love those around us, so that Your peace may be made known through kindness and grace. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to be our peace, and seek Your wisdom to show us how to extend Your peace to those around us. Amen.

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

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

Protection Wherever We Go

The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. – (Psalm 121:7-8, NIV)

The Lord will protect you from every danger. He will protect your soul. The Lord will protect you as you come and go, both now and forever! – (Psalm 121:7-8, ERV)

The Eternal will keep you safe from all of life’s evils, from your first breath to the last breath you breathe, from this day and forever. – (Psalm 121:7-8, VOICE)

This week, my husband is preparing to leave for a week-long bike trip with a few of the fellas. They will spend long days riding through twisty roads and mountain passes, taking in the sights and enjoying the open air. It is an annual tradition that he has taken part in for years, but each year I worry about his safety; not because of his ability or experience, but rather my concern is for the decisions that other drivers make as he rides. God is faithful, and the Psalms remind me of His ongoing protection and love. May we ever trust in the Lord to keep us from harm and to watch over our lives wherever we go.

Wherever we go,

Whatever we do;

God remains faithful,

I know this is true.

Trust in His goodness,

Protection and grace;

Faithful forever,

Throughout all our days.

Help us remember,

What You say is true;

Love beyond measure,

In all that we do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Protector. Thank You that You are faithful forever, and are present with us, every breath we take. Forgive us for our fearfulness that causes us to worry. Thank You that Your concern and covering for us is far greater than we can grasp. Teach us to trust You as we come and go, and to protect our loved ones throughout each new day. Show us how to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they too discover the goodness of Your love and the covering of Your grace. Be glorified O God, as we trust all in Your hands. Amen.

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

But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your Name may rejoice in You. – Psalm 5:11

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

God’s Intentional Care

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His Name’s sake. – (Psalm 23:1-3, NIV)

The Lord is my shepherd. I will always have everything I need. He gives me green pastures to lie in. He leads me by calm pools of water. He restores my strength. He leads me on right paths to show that He is good. – (Psalm 23:1-3, ERV)

God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, You find me quiet pools to drink from. True to Your word, You let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. – (Psalm 23:1-3, MSG)

This is a well-known passage and happens to be the focus of a six-week series that my pastor is teaching. Additionally, three years ago today, my focus was on the very same three verses. I know it was no accident that today’s personal study directed me to this specific passage. Between being sidelined from running, passing the one-year mark for teaching from home, concern over mom’s dental drama (she is doing well, just sore), and the prolonged time away from people I love, it is no mistake that I am again reminded of God’s intentional care. Despite all of the challenges, I am gainfully employed. I have a loving family and a home, and spaces to retreat and rest in His love. Sitting in the silent space of our living room with a snuggly puppy on my lap, God is reminding me again that He is good and will show me what to do in all things. Though I know not what the next few months will look like, I can trust the Lord to go before me, remain with me, and provide all that I need to navigate well. May we ever slow down and allow the Lord to lead, for He is our good shepherd.

O Lord, You are good,

My shepherd, please lead;

For You know my heart,

And all that I need.

Intentionally,

By You we were made;

With plan and purpose,

For all of our days.

In chaos You lead,

Bring us space to rest;

To know in silence,

That Your plans are best.

There’s nothing not known,

In Your loving grace;

You show us spaces,

To know Your embrace.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You lovingly lead us to spaces of comfort, rest and peace. Thank You that You provide all we need – body, heart, mind and soul. Forgive us for giving fear a foothold. Teach us to seek You in silent spaces so that we may be abundantly aware of Your presence and provision. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend the very same grace and goodness You grant to all who seek You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, our good and loving shepherd. Amen.

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

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

Counsel and Correction

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. – (Proverbs 19:20, NIV) 

Listen to advice and accept discipline; then you, too, will become wise. – (Proverbs 19:20, ERV) 

Take good counsel and accept correction – that’s the way to live wisely and well. – (Proverbs 19:20, MSG) 

Not one of us has it so together that we do not have room to grow. Advice and correction are ways that we have the opportunity to do better and be better. The challenge is that we must be willing to listen and apply the wisdom that is passed on to us, as we ever pursue more of God and His will for our lives. It is important to invest time in the word and in prayer, as well as finding wise and trustworthy people, whom we can go to when we need advice and allow room for correction in spaces where we are off-course. This is where community is so important. We must know others and be known in order to both give and receive good counsel as we ever pursue all that God has for us. I am blessed to be long-invested in a church community that is rich in wise people who have more life experience than I do. They have navigated the road before me, and have successfully traversed treacherous and trying times. I have a few trusted individuals that are my go-to people when I have a question or concern, or simply need to hear a voice of reason. Always we ought to go to God first, however, it is no accident that we discover people around us who are willing and equipped to give sound advice. May we ever seek the Lord for wisdom, correction and redirection, and allow trusted voices the opportunity to speak truth into our lives. 

We all need advice, 

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

To live this life well; 

Graciously given, 

For truth good compels. 

The word of the Lord, 

And seeking His face; 

Are ways to improve, 

How we run our race. 

For it’s not a sprint, 

But a marathon; 

Keep moving forward, 

Let wisdom lead on. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not expect us to have it all together, nor navigate this life alone. Thank You that wise counsel and direction are found in Your word and through the people that You intentionally place in our lives. Forgive us for the times that we have either attempted to run our race alone, or have neglected to listen to the correction or direction that we need to keep pressing on well. Teach us to trust You and trust those around us who are intentional in their pursuit of You. Show us how 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 lead, correct and direct us, and allow others to speak truth into our lives. Amen. 

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

Since You are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of Your Name lead and guide me. – Psalm 31:3

Awareness of Everywhere

“Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord. – (Jeremiah 23:24, NIV) 

“Someone might try to hide from Me in some hiding place. But it is easy for Me to see that person”, says the Lord, “because I am everywhere in heaven and earth.” This message is from the Lord. 

Am I a God anyone can hide from? Do I not see what happens in secret? Am I not everywhere, filling heaven and earth? – (Jeremiah 23:24, VOICE) 

There is both comfort and concern in knowing that God sees and knows all. Comfort comes in knowing that He is aware of all that causes fear and overwhelms us. Concern exists in the awareness of our own faults and failures. God is gracious, but He knows all that we think, say and do. When we are unkind, complacent or far from exhibiting His heart, we grieve the heart of God. In the same way that a parent grieves when their children stray from the way they know they should go, He too, is saddened. However, just as a parent will love their child all the while, He too loves us, His children. Incredibly, God sees and knows all, and still He loves. Because He loved us first, we too have the capacity to love. The more we know Him, the more we long to bless His heart with our words, thoughts and deeds. If we go off course, we need to confess to Him our wrongs, and He lovingly forgives and receives us into His arms. May we ever be aware of God’s loving presence, as He is faithful to help us navigate well.  

The Lord God above, 

He sees and He knows; 

Whatever we do, 

Wherever we go. 

There’s no place on earth, 

Where He will not see; 

All His creation, 

His vast majesty. 

So, seek the Lord’s heart, 

In all that we do; 

To love as He loves, 

He will lead us through. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though You see, hear and know all that we think, say and do, You are present to help and love in all that we do. Forgive us for all that we think, say and do that does not honor You. Forgive us also, for the times that we somehow thought You would not see, or neglected to give thought to Your awareness of all. Teach us to trust and lean into You, so that our every word and deed demonstrate Your loving kindness to all. Show us how to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your presence and seek to honor You in all. Amen. 

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

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? – Romans 2:4

United in Love

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no division among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, NIV) 

Brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, I beg all of you to agree with each other. You should not be divided into different groups. Be completely joined together again with the same kind of thinking and the same purpose. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, ERV) 

I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common. – (1 Corinthians 1:10, MSG) 

This, this is my heart every single day, as I watch the ongoing debates on social media about the current state of our nation and our world. We are currently a nation divided. My heart breaks a little more each day, as I observe people whom I love and care for, deeply, arguing about the validity of our lockdowns, and questioning the severity of this virus. Is it reasonable to ask questions? Absolutely! Is it right to end up arguing in such a way that it becomes personal, rather than simply a discussion of information that exists? As far as I know, when people begin to bash one another for who they are, rather than civilly discuss, or agree to disagree, there is no love involved in the interaction. I do not have all of the answers, nor do I know what is best for the nation or the world, but I do know that we are called to love. Love does not name-call nor make horrible accusations of a person’s character, simply for having a different opinion. Love listens and learns and is willing to seek to understand the “why” behind each individual’s thought process. If our purpose is to love God and love people, how might we do that best, even others see things differently, or have opinions that delineate from our own, or from that which is most widely accepted? In as much as I can understand; love anyway. If our united purpose is love, then please, let us love well. Love takes the high road, turns the other cheek, and loves thy neighbor as thyself. Where can we love better? May we seek the Lord and His wisdom, so that we might get along, being considerate of one another, and cultivate lives intent on loving well. 

When differing views, 

Start to cause dissent; 

One has to question, 

What is the intent? 

If love’s our purpose, 

Then let us unite; 

Choose listen and learn, 

In love, take delight. 

Each of us crafted, 

Uniquely designed; 

Created to love, 

With purpose in mind. 

Brothers and sisters, 

Let us find a way; 

To love each other, 

And mind what we say. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are each created with the purpose to be united in love. Thank You that we are uniquely gifted and crafted, yet each have something significant to offer the whole. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed differing views, perspectives, or opinions to get in the way of unity. Teach us how to listen and learn from one another, be okay with not always seeing eye-to-eye, and above all, how to choose to love people first. Show us how to love those around us best. Help us know when to engage in conversations that can be productive, and when to remain silent and choose to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and seek You to lead us to be united in love with those around us. Amen.  

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

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ. – Colossians 2:2

The Way to Love Well

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, ERV)

But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love. – (Ephesians 4:32, TPT)

 

Kindness and compassion, love and forgiveness, must be how we allow God to lead us in His grace, if we are to love as He loves us. Mother’s Day, or any other day that is intended to celebrate an individual – be it a birthday, anniversary, accomplishment or the like – is a perfect opportunity for these attributes to be extended, especially when what is hoped for is not realized. For example, my incredible husband is a total acts of service guy, his love language is to go above and beyond to do the little things that keep our home running smoothly, and does so without any sort of “honey do” list. In fact, he does things long before I even consider the need for them to be done, and if an issue arises, he fixes it barely after the concern has left my mouth. I, on the other hand, am all about quality time. My heart’s desire is to spend time with the people I love, doing fun things together. Being outdoors, playing games, hiking, walking, biking, going to the beach – you name it – anything together where all those present are engaged, and my heart is filled. As you can imagine, the two methods of expressing love do not always align. Saturday, I did have quality time with the family, and quality time with my love. Sunday, however, turned into a list of things that needed to be accomplished, and it felt as if Mother’s Day was all but forgotten. Now, encouraging words are a close second, and my boys did make a point to speak sweet and encouraging words of their appreciation to me as their mom. They were apologetic about not having a gift, and my genuine reply was about them being my greatest gift, and the two of them continuing to work hard and finish the school year strong would be the best gift they could give.  After a weird lull in the late afternoon, Mark and I spoke about hopes versus reality, and there was kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness extended on both sides by His grace. The evening was concluded with quality time, playing our favorite board game, as love and laughter filled the room, and my heart. We are still learning how to love one another best, and I am certain that it is a lifelong process. Thankfully, we are committed to learning and growing together, and depend on God to guide us in the process. Grace after grace after grace… May we all be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other in the same way that Christ forgives each of us, as we learn to love as we are loved by God.

 

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Forgiveness and grace;

The way to love well,

As we run our race.

In the same way God,

Loves and He forgives;

We’re called do likewise,

To bless as we live.

Extend forgiveness,

Lavishly give grace;

Love as we are loved,

Wherever we’re placed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving through the example of Your Son. Thank You that as we seek You, You equip us to be kind, compassionate and forgiving to one another. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to extend to others what you so freely give to us. Teach us to trust and rely on You more. Show us how to love others with kindness, compassion and forgiveness as You would have us love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to love those around us well. 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