Joyful Confidence

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, NIV) 

And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, ERV) 

But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, proven character leads us back to hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, TPT) 

This morning, as I made my way in the wee hours of darkness, to go dog walking with a dear friend, I heard these very same verses being spoken on the radio. Both this morning and when I did my devotional reading this evening, I took pause and determined that I have so far to go. The Passions Translation is the one that I can most closely relate to, as it points to the joyful confidence in the midst of struggle, and that something good can come from pressure or pain. When we place our confidence in Christ, even in the mist of struggle, we discover that there is joy in Him. Patient endurance, character and hope, are all part of the beauty that come from our ashes. Right now, what I have spent the last twenty-four years of my life doing, has been flipped upside down and makes me feel like a brand-new teacher all over again. The learning curve required is cumbersome and challenging, yet I know that the more that I patiently persevere, the greater the chance that I will learn and grow. It is in that space of growing, that I find hope again. Hope that I can reach and teach kids, regardless of whether it is online or in person, and hope that one day, I will get to teach in a regular classroom again, face-to-face with my students. God uses our trials and difficulties to grow and refine us. It is always far easier to look back and see what He has done, than it is to recognize that He can work all things together for good in the middle of the messy. May we seek the Lord in our suffering and in our blessings, knowing that He can move mightily in all things, and produce the hope that shows our heart how to endure and overcome. 

No matter what comes, 

May our hearts find joy; 

Not in the heartache, 

But God’s grace employed. 

Beauty from ashes, 

Is what we all need; 

Character building, 

In hope, He will lead. 

May we each rise up, 

In Christ, persevere; 

For He overcomes, 

Always, He is near. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You can utilize our every experience and circumstance to produce good in us and through us. Forgive us for our desire to get out of difficult situations the moment they strike. Teach us to trust You more so that we might joyfully embrace You and all that You provide in the midst of our messes. Show us how to love those around us in ways that encourage patience and perseverance, every pointing to hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to take joy in You in the midst of difficult, as You grow patience, perseverance, character and hope within us Amen. 

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

…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair… – Isaiah 61:3

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

He Leads Those Who Seek

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. – (Psalm 143:10, NIV) 

Show me what You want me to do. You are my God. Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. – (Psalm 143:10, ERV) 

I just want to obey all You ask of me. So teach me, Lord, for You are my God. Your gracious Spirit is all I need, so lead me on good paths that are pleasing to You, my one and only God! – (Psalm 143:10, TPT) 

Today has been the most unusual first day of school ever. We were startled awake both at 2:00 and 4:00 am, as the power flickered off and on. As early risers, both my husband and I were up, had breakfast and coffee, and were preparing for the day before the power completely went out. Through social media posts and texting with colleagues, I discovered much of our city was without power, yet it appeared that the school still did. After having spent much of the weekend preparing and setting up my virtual classroom at home, I was a bit concerned about having to go on campus to teach in a space that I had not prepared. This is where the trust kicked in, and I packed up all that I thought I might need, and began driving to school. Two minutes prior to my arrival, the school district “robocall” came through and announced that school was cancelled for the day because the power outages were so widespread. I was able to return home to my boys with breakfast for them, and simply was granted the luxury of a day in one another’s company. The added bonus is that power was just restored in our home about a half an hour ago, and I still have a bit of time to organize and sort things out for tomorrow. God is good and His grace is enough when we choose trust Him. May we ever seek the Lord and pursue His path, for He is a good and faithful God, ready to show us His ways. 

Lord, teach me to do, 

My home office this morning…

What You would call good; 

Please show me Your ways, 

So they’re understood. 

In each circumstance, 

My eyes fixed on You; 

Lead me and guide me, 

So Your love shines through. 

No matter what comes, 

Your grace is enough; 

You’re faithful always, 

O Father, above. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are willing to teach us Your will and show us how to walk in Your way, as we choose to seek and follow You. Forgive us for the times that we have made You less than You are. Show us how to trust You completely, especially in the new and unknown. Lead us to love those around us well, so that they too may discover Your faithfulness to those who seek You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to teach us and lead us in the ways that are pleasing to You. Amen. 

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

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

To Forge Forward Without Fear

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV) 

The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control. – (2 Timothy 1:7, ERV) 

You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit but a powerful, loving, and disciplined spirit. – (2 Timothy 1:7, VOICE) 

Fear is a funny thing – it sneaks in when we take our eyes off of God, and fixate on the unknown that lies before us. Thankfully, we never need remain stuck, as God is for us and strengthens, encourages, and loves us as we look to Him. The more we choose invest our hearts in Him, the more we recognize His power, love and self-control that is planted within us. God cares about all things, great and small. For me, the big and potentially fearful unknown, is the pending school year online. We are entering uncharted territory, yet as I look to the Lord to be my strength, I discover that love and being disciplined are present for all that lies ahead. Additionally, I am surrounded by incredible colleagues, with whom I get to discover, plan and process along side, so rather than fear, I feel peace. Yes, there is some nervousness, but it is more of a curious excitement, than a space of fear. May we look to the Lord to be Source and Supply, as He grants us all that we need to forge forward, fearlessly. 

Let’s be not afraid, 

Instead, turn to God; 

Who supplies our needs, 

Despite how we’re flawed. 

No expectations, 

To always be right; 

But rather seek Him, 

To know His delight. 

For where we have lack, 

In Him there is gain; 

Strength, love, discipline, 

As He makes paths plain. 

Let’s turn to the Lord, 

Give Him all our fears; 

He’s always faithful, 

Throughout all our years. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we need not fear, for You are faithful to supply the strength, love and self-discipline that we need to navigate every situation and circumstance. Forgive us for taking our eyes off of You in the midst of the unknown. Show us how to firmly fix our focus on You, as You provide what we need to move forward into the unknown. Teach us to love those around us in ways that strengthen, encourage and lighten loads. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we turn to You in every circumstance to provide all that we need to live and love as You call us to. Amen. 

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

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 

True Peace Through Trust

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 You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You. – (Isaiah 26:3, VOICE) 

In the midst of this ever-changing world, true peace can often feel impossible. However, as we set our minds and hearts to depending on God to be our peace, He is faithful to meet us and grant us peace within. This feels even more important than ever, as nothing seems certain in the midst of a pandemic. Our jobs, our schools, our communities, our states, and our nation, each have to change and adapt in order to function. For many, change alone disrupts peace; navigating the new when all seems uncertain, points people more than ever, to seek peace in the middle of it all. When I fix my eyes on He who is my peace, and choose to trust in Him, rather than what I see or hear around me, I discover a peace that does not make sense. Calm in the storm and comfort in the chaos, despite our circumstances and surroundings. May we ever look to the Lord to be our peace, and trust in Him, as He meets us and brings His perfect peace to our minds and hearts, regardless of what surrounds us. 

The God of all peace, 

Always, He is near; 

To settle our hearts, 

And make our path clear. 

As we choose to seek, 

Ever we shall find; 

God’s goodness and grace, 

Brings peace to our minds. 

Lord, help us recall, 

In the midst of storms; 

That You are ready, 

To comfort and warm. 

All glory to God, 

Our place of true peace; 

Where chaos finds calm, 

And love is released. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You and trust in You to be our peace, regardless of what surrounds us. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances or surroundings to steal our peace, when You alone are our true peace. Teach us to always turn to You, for You are our true peace. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your peace and comfort where there is unrest. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to keep perfect peace in our minds and hearts, no matter what lies ahead. 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

How Love Abounds

My beloved is mine and I am his… – (Song of Songs 2:16a, NIV) 

My love is mine, and I am his. – (Song of Songs 2:16a, VOICE) 

Song of Songs captures the blessings beheld in love as God intended. Over the last four years, I have come to understand such love in a very tangible way, especially over the last two years, as today my Viking and I celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Genuine love establishes a bond that requires the dedication and devotion of both partners, so that no matter what comes, it can be faced together. For me, God provided the man that I never knew I needed. He loves fiercely, gently and with a devotion that I have never questioned. We have had to navigate some serious challenges over the last two years, between the loss of his father, my mom’s stroke, and various other familial health concerns. Additionally, we have shared great joys. Our three children have all now graduated from high school and are on their way to navigating adulthood well. One is working full-time, and the other two are preparing for their first year of college in the fall. There have been births, deaths, weddings and milestones that we have celebrated and grieved together. Even in this crazy season of COVID-19, we have found comfort, security and safety in Christ and one another. There is no one that I would rather navigate this life with, and I am so grateful that God blessed me with such love. May we all seek the Lord as our provider of love the way He intended, and give Him praise all of our days, as we discover together, how great His love truly is. 

To fully embrace, 

All that God’s love is; 

We must choose to trust, 

And know we are His. 

As we come to know, 

His kindness and grace; 

Our hearts are opened, 

To God’s loving ways. 

Such blessings are found, 

The more that we know; 

His heart is for us, 

To bless and to grow. 

O what a treasure, 

To have and to hold; 

The one He’s given, 

Such love does unfold. 

Today I give thanks, 

For the love I’ve found; 

As I’m fiercely loved, 

And goodness abounds. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for first loving us and for designing us to love and be loved. Thank You for the incredible blessing of a husband that loves me completely, despite all of my flaws and shortcomings. Forgive me for the times that I have failed to love as You intended. Show me how to love completely, each and every day that I draw breath. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as Your love is made known through willing hearts. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love as You created us to love. Amen. 

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

From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. – Ephesians 4:16

Let Us Consider

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – (Hebrews 10:24, NIV) 

We should think about each other to see how we can encourage each other to show love and do good works. – (Hebrews 10:24, ERV) 

Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. – (Hebrews 10:24, TPT) 

When I read this passage, what kept coming to mind is knowing the love language of those around us, so that we may offer encouragement and express love in the way that they receive it best. For example, I am all about quality time. When others are intentional to give me their time and attention, especially to go and do things together, my heart is filled and encouraged, and I feel known. However, my husband is an acts of service guy. He notices and values every effort to do things that speak love through action. The better we know those around us, the more equipped we are to love and serve one another in the way that expresses love best. Care, conversation, observation, and listening are simple ways that we can discover how to love and encourage those around us best. This is no small task, but rather an intentional act of love. We also can lead by acting in compassion, so that we might compel those around us to do the same. May we ever invest in the lives of those around us, so that we may encourage each other to show love and compassion, and do good works. 

Lord, help us to seek, 

Love, listen and learn; 

How to encourage, 

In wisdom, discern. 

We need to know how, 

To love others best; 

By Your grace, love well, 

So each may feel blessed. 

Show us, Lord Jesus, 

How to truly love; 

In word and in deed, 

Hold others above. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You know us and love us best. Thank You that as we seek You, You will show us how to love one another in the same way. Forgive us for our lack of listening and the spaces where we have lacked love. Teach us to listen and learn, seek and discover, the ways that encourage and show love best. Lead us to love those around us in word and deed, so that all may know the depth and breadth of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to encourage one another to love and do good. Amen. 

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

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:8

Among Us

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. – (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT)

The Lord your God is with you. He is like a powerful soldier. He will save you. He will show how much He loves you and how happy He is with you. He will laugh and be happy about you. – (Zephaniah 3:17, ERV)

The Eternal your God is standing right here among you, and He is the champion who will rescue you. He will joyfully celebrate over you; He will rest in His love for you; He will joyfully sing because of you like a new husband. – (Zephaniah 3:17, VOICE)

 

I love the Voice translation of this passage, as the word choice speaks so clearly to my heart. As an individual who understands the deep need for every person to have someone willing to fight for them, and the joy of a new husband, God’s promises are an encouragement that stand the test of time. His presence is our comfort, and His love brings peace and joy and calms our fears. Our mighty Savior, who is like a powerful soldier, is our Protector, ever present with us. The idea that He delights over us with joyful songs, is reminiscent of when my babies were young, and how I would delight in them and sing to them and there would be peace among us as we rested. My human experience is but a glimpse in comparison to the depth of love that God has for us. The joy and delight we discover in those whom He blesses us with in our lives are but a preview of all that He has in store for us in heaven. May we fix our eyes and hearts on the Lord who is among us, present to save and rejoice over us.

 

The Lord is with us,Among Us

He’s mighty to save;

In love, celebrates,

His grace is displayed.

Each fear shall be calmed,

As in Him, we rest;

For His help and love,

Fill our needs the best.

Imagine the sound,

As the Lord does sing;

With joy over us,

All peace He does bring.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are so good. Thank You that You are our Champion, who is willing to fight for us. Thank You that You rejoice over us with singing and calm our fears. Thank You that You are always present. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our circumstances to interrupt the peace that You offer. Teach us to lean into You at all times, so that we may know Your peace, no matter what comes our way. Show us how to love those around us with Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the incredible blessings You bestow upon us with Your love. Amen.

 

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

 

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

On Purpose With Purpose

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, and I know that full well. – (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV)

You formed the way I think and feel. You put me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because You made me in such a wonderful way. I know how amazing that was! – (Psalm 139:13-14, ERV)

For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. – (Psalm 139:13-14, VOICE)

 

I love the Psalms, as they are a space where I find much comfort. There is much raw and real in the calling out to God, followed by the recognition of who God is and how He loves. This passage is no exception, as it reminds us all that we were created intentionally, uniquely, and with purpose; down to the way that we think and feel. Perhaps I needed the reminder this morning, or maybe, it is for you. We, collectively, are known and loved and intentionally made. Our existence is for a purpose, on purpose. Each day that we draw breath, there is reason to praise; for even that is a gift not all are afforded. The way we take in our surroundings and interact with those around us, is an individual design, that has no duplicate. There is only one you, and your contributions to your surroundings are irreplaceable. It is not about being the “greatest” or the “best”, but rather embracing the beauty of God’s design as we discover we are called to be who He made us to be; nothing more, nothing less. The more that we seek and know Him, the more clearly, we come to know and understand His design for us, individually. May we take time today to thank the Lord for His intentional creation – in us, our loved ones, and for everyone with whom we interact; every work is wonderful and made with a purpose.

 

Designed with purpose, wp-1589461521970190463839278612615.jpg

Each one, fully known;

Before our first breath,

He called us His own.

Wonderfully made,

Unique in design;

There’s only one you,

You’re one of a kind.

The way that you think,

Look, talk, touch and feel;

There’s no other you,

His love is for real.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You knit us together in our mother’s wombs with intentional design and purpose. Thank You that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Forgive us for the times that we have questioned our purpose or worth. Teach us to lean into You, even in our moments of frustration or feeling lost. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they might recognize the beauty of their unique, wonderful and purposeful design, as they understand that they are loved and valued as they are. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You that You know us and that You designed us each with purpose, on purpose. Amen.

 

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

 

You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. – Psalm 139:1

 

 

Remember the Wonders

Well, apparently today is not meant to look like any other day. I rose at the usual time. Spent time in the word. Prayed, pondered, and then wrote out my reflections on the passage and how it applied to my life. Rather than finish the process of editing, copying, pasting and editing again, prior to publishing, I simply saved my Word Document and determined to finish the process after my early morning exercise session. Sadly, when I returned, I opened my document, copied to paste, then shifted applications to continue, I discovered, much to my dismay, what pasted was a bunch of coded garbled gunk, that in no way resembled what I had written. I deleted that, went back to my Word Document, and umm… it was blank. Everything I attempted was fruitless. After fifteen plus minutes of doing all that I knew to do, I gave up. My writing was gone.

There is always a lesson in the lesson, so here I sit, open to discover why. The gist of what I wrote about was my reflection on the following verse:

He has caused His wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. – (Psalm 111:4, NIV)

Today, exactly one year ago, my sister and I received the news that rocked our world in a way that we had never anticipated. Our strong, healthy, independent mom, had suffered a massive stroke. What made matters worse, is that we had not been able to reach her for a few days. The news that was a dread to us, was simultaneously the most welcome sight in the world to our mom. What I mean is, mom lived alone and was alone. She suffered the stroke and was left isolated and half-paralyzed, as she drifted in and out of consciousness for a couple of days, with her voice too weak to be audible beyond a few feet away. Our well-check request of the local police, resulted in her receiving medical attention hours sooner than if we had waited to drive there to find out for ourselves.

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This photo is from the last time all of us were able to get together. Mom is even stronger now than she was then!

So, where I am I going with the connection to wonders and grace and compassion? Honestly, in spite of everything, God was incredibly faithful and kind, as He provided the right people, places, resources, and time to allow the best possible road for mom’s recovery to be set in place. His grace and compassion have been made new every morning, and I remain in a space of awe at the determination and resilience that He has supernaturally given our mom. She went from barely speaking above a whisper, while struggling to find words, to now speaking and carrying on conversations in a normal voice. Additionally, when she was first in the hospital, we were excited about small muscle twitches in her right side, particularly in her right leg. Now, a year later, she is walking independently with a cane, and continues to work on rebuilding her strength and stamina to increase her speed and the steadiness of her gait. Every step of the journey, God was gracious and compassionate. We have grown even closer as an extended family, and will be having some serious gatherings when these restrictions are finally lifted. In the meantime, there are many phone calls made and photos shared, as we continue to work together to move forward on this healing journey. May we each take time to remember in wonder the incredible ways that God has been gracious and compassionate to us, even in our most trying of times.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that through every season in our lives we have reason to look back in awe and wonder, for You have always been gracious and compassionate to us. Forgive us for our fears, frustrations, and our “if onlys”, for You bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Thank You that You are not finished yet! Teach us to trust You more, so that we can go forth and love those around us with the same compassion and grace that You give to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You in wonder for who You are and how You love us so well. Amen.

 

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

 

Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You. – Psalm 89:8