Choose Gather

“For where two or three gather in My Name, there am I with them.” – (Matthew 18:20, NIV)

“Yes, if two or three people are together believing in Me, I am there with them.” – (Matthew 18:20, ERV)

“For wherever two or three come together in honor of My Name, I am right there with them!” – (Matthew 18:20, TPT)

 

Loneliness is something nearly all of us have experienced at one time or another, as it is brought on either by isolation, or more often, by lack of true connection. We can be surrounded by people and feel completely alone. This occurs when authentic connections are not established. God has declared that it is not good for us to be alone, and that two are better than one. This is not just reserved for marriage, but for friendships and familial-like connections as well. We are created and designed to be in community. The promise is provided that when we gather in His Name, God will be with us. Though He is always present, His nearness is more tangibly known in the company of others who have gathered together with purpose. This is the intention of “church”. It is an opportunity to gather in His Name and create authentic connections with those around us. At times, the group that gathers for a church service is too large to truly connect, so it requires an additional investment of time to get to know others with whom familial connections are established. A solution that some churches have is to offer small groups; at Grace (where we are invested) they are called Life Groups. Though there is a risk in stepping out of one’s comfort zone to meet with new folks and gather together, each time I have done so, I have walked away enriched, knowing new people for whom I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know. May we intentionally choose to invest in our relationships, making fellowship a priority, so that we may know people, and in turn, be known.

Both mom and my sister are in a space of unexpected isolation. Mom, as she is away from her home and the community that she has invested in for many years; and my sister, as she works tirelessly to juggle work, family, and caring well for mom, finding there are simply not enough hours in the day to connect with the community she holds close. God is good, and can make a way where there seems to be no way. Both, are in need of His covering, care and grace, as they navigate and need community. It is my prayer that rapid healing happens, and more opportunities for outings for each of these amazing ladies occur.

 

May we choose gather, img_2019-09-23_05-22-377139561410898030072.jpg

Come close in His Name;

Discover the grace,

In Christ we can claim.

Whenever we meet,

With a heart for Him;

His presence is shown,

As love enters in.

Loneliness scatters,

As connections form;

To know and be known,

Is how hearts transform.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your promise to be present when we gather in Your Name. Thank You that You make Your presence known. Thank You that You designed and created us for relationships. Forgive us for the times that we have either isolated ourselves or allowed others to remain in isolation when we can do something to help pull them out. Teach us how to navigate relationships well, so that we would love others in a way that knows people and helps them feel known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest in fellowship in the communities in which You have placed us. 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

 

 

Light in Darkness

Even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You. – (Psalm 139:12, NIV)

Even the darkness is not dark to You. The night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same. – (Psalm 139:12, ERV)

You can see in the dark, for it is not dark to Your eyes. For You the night is just as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to Your eyes. – (Psalm 139:12, VOICE)

 

There is such power in being reminded of the truth of God. It matters not what season we are in, be it one of joy or sorrow; God is present and He sees and knows our need. The people in my life are in a variety of spaces and seasons. For some, they are enjoying a time of blessing and peace, whereas others are in a space of struggle or sorrow or trial. Incredibly, the Lord is near for all, no matter the state we find ourselves in. He is faithful and kind, loving and full of grace. Peace is possible, even in the eye of the storm, and He light can illuminate the darkest of circumstances. May we ever seek the Lord and trust in His love to light the way.

For mom, the light that God is using to demonstrate His nearness, is the connection of her best friend in Wenatchee. She is so faithful to call and be intentional to contact mom, that every time mom mentions that she has spoken with June, her heart sounds lighter and more encouraged. I know there are others as well, she just happens to be the one that has been the most consistent and already had such a closely established friendship with mom.

 

Whatever season,

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More poster-making fun for my classroom.

We find ourselves in;

God will be present,

If we welcome Him.

Even our darkness,

Is not out of reach;

Of His loving light,

That provides peace.

So, turn to the Lord,

Whose love is complete;

In His perfect light,

We find safe retreat.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see us the same, no matter what season we are in, and that darkness and light are the same to You. There is nothing nor any place too dark for You to see. Thank You that Your love illuminates dark spaces. Forgive us for forgetting that Your light dwells within us, even on our darkest days. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You to strengthen and carry us through the storms. Show us how to love those around us, so that we may bring light and life to places that have become dark. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and invest in our relationship with You, as that is what fuels our light within. Amen.

 

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

 

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

Love Covers

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. – (Proverbs 17:9, NIV)

One who seeks love conceals an offense, but one who repeats it divides friends. – (Proverbs 17:9, CEB)

Love overlooks the mistakes of others, but dwelling on the failures of others devastates friendships. – (Proverbs 17:9, TPT)

 

Choosing to love and forgive when others hurt or offend us through their mistakes, preserves the friendship. Sometimes love needs to talk to the offender, however repeating what transpired to others only deepens the divide. If we do not walk in love with those around us, we will be hurt and offended often. We must assume positive intent, and go directly and gently to the source when we cannot clarify without conversation. Loving relationships last because love seeks to understand, rather than holding the offense and discussing it with others. Sometimes, wise counsel is needed to understand. In such cases, it is a confidential working through what transpired with the intent to make reparations, rather than being bent on returning harm. There are times when what has developed has destroyed trust and created a need for safe distance, yet even then, our charge is to walk in forgiveness and not speak ill of the one who has done harm. May we ever seek the heart of God, who in His very nature, loves and forgives us, so that we too may go forth in love and forgiveness, giving thanks for the gift of others whom He has placed in our lives.

 

Let love lead the way,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

No matter what comes;

Seek to understand,

Like the Holy One.

For the Lord forgives,

Though it’s undeserved;

Such love leads to change,

And friendships preserved.

Don’t speak ill of those,

Who’ve made a mistake;

Choose love as they learn,

Preventing heartache.

For we too will fail,

Do things that cause hurt;

As we receive grace,

Love makes us alert.

Alert to others,

With grace to forgive;

Let’s love as we’re loved,

In His peace we’ll live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your loving kindness that gives grace and forgiveness when we fall short. Thank You that we are called to love in the same way, as no relationship would last without grace. Forgive us for the times that we have held onto the harm caused by the words or deeds of others. Teach us to rely on You to give us Your grace to love through the hurt. Show us how to walk in love in a way that seeks to understand, forgive and love well, without conditions. Lead us to love those around us in a way that extends Your forgiveness and grace, seeking to understand rather that holding onto hurts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we overlook the mistakes of others with love, knowing that all fall short and need grace. Amen.

 

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

 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – John 15:12

Speak With Care

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)

When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say the good things that people need – whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you. – (Ephesians 4:29, ERV)

And never let ugly or hateful words come from your mouth, but instead let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them. – (Ephesians 4:29, TPT)

 

Words matter. Words can build up or they can tear down. What we do with our words may have a lasting impact on the hearer, far beyond what we will ever know. This works with both encouragement and that which is destructive. One unkind, ugly or hateful word spoken carelessly, can haunt the hearer for years. If a child is already feeling discouraged and struggling, and someone comes along and tells them that they are stupid, that thoughtless word can become a barrier to them becoming their best self for an extended stretch of time. On the contrary, when a child is built up, encouraged, nurtured, loved and valued with words (and actions that prove them true), they soar as they are equipped to become the best version of themselves. Adults are no different. Marriages, friendships, work environments, etcetera – all grow stronger and become better when encouragement and grace are prevalent. I have experienced both, and the difference between the two is surviving and thriving. People surrounded by ugly and hateful words either join in and engage, attempt to bring change, or stay silent. Either way, it creates a survival sort of mentality. However, in an environment of encouragement and grace, people grow and become equipped to do likewise. May we watch our words with wisdom, knowing that what we say has the capacity to either build up or tear down.

 

May all of our words,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Be spoken with care;

For words have power,

Bring life or despair.

Our words can build up,

Bring out other’s best;

As we encourage,

Receivers are blessed.

Yet in the same way,

Words that are unkind;

Can wound and destroy,

The ears that they find.

So, let all we say,

Be seasoned with grace;

Spoken with kindness,

Throughout all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the words that You have for us are love and life and light and full of goodness and grace. Thank You that You call and equip us to do the same with the words that we extend to others. Forgive us for the words that we have spoken that have wounded others. Teach us to stop and think before we speak, seeking Your heart and help to extend words that encourage and build up, rather than destroy. Show us how to love those around us with encouraging words and use each word spoken to help others become a better version of themselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom for every word that leaves our lips. Amen.

 

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

 

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14

Thinking of Thanks

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. – (Philippians 1:3, NLT)

I thank God every time I remember you. – (Philippians 1:3, ERV)

Whenever you cross my mind, I thank my God for you and for the gift of knowing you. – (Philippians 1:3, VOICE)

 

This has been a summer overflowing with connections to those dear to me. Near and far, friends and family have celebrated with me, as I have stepped into this beautiful new season of married life. Every message, conversation, card or phone call has brought a flood of memories of the blessing that each have been in my life. The overwhelming theme of this summer is gratitude, as I cannot help but stand in awe of the blessings He has poured out upon us, especially through the gift of people He has placed in our lives. My heart is full, and I am ever giving God thanks for the gift of knowing those whom He has brought into every avenue of my life. May we ever give praise to our Provider for the people whom He places on our path.

 

All thanks be to God, wp-15346046481951630469001601204563.jpg

For the treasure found;

In knowing such love,

Where friendships abound.

For each is a gift,

From God up above;

Granted to us all,

By His lavish love.

Each time I recall,

The treasure of you;

I thank God again,

For His blessings true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are created for relationships. Thank You for the gift of people that You place in our lives. Thank You that You bring people from all walks of life into our world to show us more of Your heart. Forgive us for not giving You glory for all of the good You bring to us through the people You place on our path. Teach us to recognize the gift of those around us, daily, so that we would celebrate them and glorify You. Show us how to love in a way that demonstrates our gratitude for the gift that people are in our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You gratitude for the gift of great people whom You have placed in our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His Name. – Psalm 100:4

Forgiveness Fosters Love

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. – (Proverbs 17:9, NLT) 

Forgive someone, and you will strengthen your friendship. Keep reminding them, and you will destroy it. – (Proverbs 17:9, ERV) 

Those who forgive faults foster love, but those who repeatedly recall them ruin relationships. – (Proverbs 17:9, VOICE) 

 

Our world desperately is in need of the forgiveness of faults to move forward in the freedom that is found in love. Far too often fingers are pointed without taking an honest look in the mirror. We all fall short and make missteps, and at times our errors end up hurting someone near us. If we are walking in love as God calls us to love, we must choose to forgive and move forward. The more we give grace, the greater our friendships grow. Freedom to be human is a tremendous burden lifted, and as we are able to be transparent with those near to us, we are strengthened in our faith and better bonded as dear friends. May we ever choose to be the ones who forgive faults and foster love, just as Jesus has done for us. 

 

As we choose forgive, Faith and Hope in Action

The love we have grows; 

Friendships are strengthened, 

As grace is made known. 

Those who dwell on faults, 

End up in great loss; 

Friendships are ruined, 

Far too great the cost. 

So let us choose love, 

Forgive and give grace; 

Build our bonds closer, 

Throughout all our days. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You care about our every interaction and relationship so much, that You give us guidance as to how to navigate best. Thank You that as we forgive, just as You have forgiven us, You bless us with stronger bonds in the relationships You have granted. Forgive us for dwelling on faults rather than forgiving. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would forgive as we have been forgiven by You. Show us how to love and give grace to those around us, ever strengthening the bonds of friendship that You are building among us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love and forgive as we are loved and forgiven by You. Amen. 

 

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

 

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19

Friends Sharpen Each Other

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. – (Proverbs 27:17, NLT)

As one piece of iron sharpens another, so friends keep each other sharp. – (Proverbs 27:17, ERV)

In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend. – (Proverbs 27:17, VOICE)

 

I am overwhelmingly blessed to see how this principle plays out practically in my everyday life. In each of my various roles, God has given me great friends who walk beside me and challenge me to continue to learn and grow. As a mother, teacher, coach, athlete, friend and in all of these, a follower of Christ, I have fantastic friends with whom I am walking, as we sharpen one another to be more than we were before. May we recognize and invest in the relationship that God has given us to sharpen and shape one another into who we are meant to become.

 

As iron sharpens,img_2017-12-01_05-13-37440905203.jpg

So friend sharpens friend;

Pushing each other,

To grow and extend.

For as we’re challenged,

Our character grows;

We become better,

As grace clearly shows.

Invest in people,

That bring out our best;

May we do likewise,

Through such love, we’re blessed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love You and love one another. Thank You that You designed us for relationship for a reason. Thank You that as we invest in friendships, we learn and grow from each other. Forgive us for not dedicating the time and energy we should to those whom You have called us to walk beside. Teach us how to manage our time and energy so that we are able to fill the roles to which we are called, and walk with whom You call us to walk. Show us how to love well, all those that cross our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sharpen each other to become who You are calling us to be so that we more clearly reflect Your heart to the world. Amen.

 

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

 

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

Gather With Gladness

Every day they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. – (Acts 2:46, CEB)

The believers shared a common purpose, and every day they spent much of their time together in the temple area. They also ate together in their homes. They were happy to share their food and ate with joyful hearts. – (Acts 2:46, ERV)

 

I love the value that was placed on community in the early church. There is nothing that brings people together better than sharing a meal with joy and generosity. When those around us who are united in purpose come together as family, the joy that is discovered in fellowship over a meal is multiplied. Each summer, my church creates opportunity for family connect groups. These groups meet one evening a week for a meal at a host home during the month of August, as new friendships are discovered and relationships are formed. My first connect group of the year begins this evening, and I am reminded of the early church as I prepare to go. Though I know not who will be in attendance, I anticipate joy and gladness as we gather in grace to share a meal together. May we ever seek opportunities to gather together with those around us, and meet with others to share a meal with joy – as God so often uses such circumstances to form friendships He intended to occur all along.

 

Actively look for, Welcome Boxes 1

People that we know;

To join together,

So His grace may flow.

With hearts full of joy,

May we freely share;

What we’ve been given,

So all know You care.

May our hearts be filled,

As we share a meal;

Joy overflowing,

His way is ideal.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be in community. Thank You that You call us to continue to do what the early church did – to gather together to worship and to share meals and fellowship together. Forgive us for isolating ourselves and not plugging into the community to which we are called. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be willing to go where You call and invite others to share time and fellowship and food with us. Show us how to love well the people that You have placed in our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we gather together with gladness. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

As Iron Sharpens Iron

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. – (Proverbs 27:17, NLT)

In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend. – (Proverbs 27:17, VOICE)

 

I love the imagery of this verse. Being such a visual learner, this paints a clear picture for me, the need and purpose in having close and trusted friends in our lives. In order for iron to sharpen iron, it has to be in close proximity. The same is true with friends. We cannot know one another’s struggles, needs nor triumphs, if we are not near. Second, there is a rubbing or a sort of friction that must occur for the places that have become dull to grow sharp again. It is not so different with people. We have to be willing to allow one another access to the spots in our hearts, minds and lives that have grown dull, so that they may challenge us to move forward or retreat in the spaces that will help bring clarity and sharpness so that we can be all that we have been created to be. We need people to walk beside us who are willing to challenge, encourage, and remain near. May we each be iron that sharpens those around us, and willing to allow others access to do the same for us.

 

That which can sharpen,MSH35

Iron is itself;

The same element,

Is what sharpens well.

It’s in the same way,

That people stay true;

One to another,

Side by side made new.

For our character,

Can best be refined;

By those allowed near,

And with truth aligned.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of friendships. Thank You that You use our trusted friendships to sharpen one another to more clearly reflect Your character and heart within us. Forgive us for not allowing others near when we need it most, and teach us to trust You more, as You place people in our lives with purpose. Show us whom we are to trust and allow near, and help us to encourage and sharpen those around us in love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sharpen one another to more clearly reflect Your heart to those around us. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

As Iron Sharpens Iron

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. – (Proverbs 27:17)

 

Good company helps sharpen our character. As we spend time with one another sharing ideas, discussing insight, and challenging each other, God utilizes conversation to shape and refine us. The sharper we are, the more effective we become for His purpose in and through us. We ought not shy away from passionate discussions with safe people, but rather check our egos at the door and allow the Holy Spirit to do the speaking to our hearts and minds. May we all find friendships that help sharpen us further for God’s glory.

 

Iron meets iron,As Iron Sharpens Iron

and sparks, they may fly;

yet through the process,

impurities die.

The strengths, they rise up,

and soon they are seen;

as it is with us,

exchanges between.

We’re called to relate,

one to another;

bound as believers,

sisters and brothers.

May we safely speak,

and truly be heard;

sharpen each other,

speak truth from His word.

Let go of ego,

be set free from pride;

allow God to work,

He’ll refine inside.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You change us from the inside out to more clearly reflect who You are to the world. Thank You that You utilize each of us with one another, so that we may sharpen each other to be more effective for You. Forgive us for our egos that get in the way, or for our fears that keep us silent. Lead us to safe friendships where we can sharpen each other with the truth and insight You infuse into our hearts. May many come to know the gift of Your saving grace, as we go forth, sharpened by one another. Be glorified, Lord God. Amen.

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

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5