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

 

 

The Parts Make the Whole

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. We all have different gifts. Each gift came because of the grace God gave us. – (Romans 12:4-6a, ERV)

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. – (Romans 12:4-6a, NIV)

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as part of His body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. – (Romans 12:4-6a, MSG)

 

This is such a critical message to remember in community – be it in family, friend groups, work or other circles in which we gather. Each of us are created with unique strengths and giftings, intended to utilize them for the encouragement and betterment of those around us. I know this to be true in my family, marriage, and among close friends, and I am extremely grateful for the way that different gifts work together to create a stronger whole. As my colleagues and I spend the week in trainings and meetings to prepare for the upcoming school year, I intend to look for and celebrate the different giftings that each part of our staff brings to the whole of our school community. It is the people that have kept me in the same school for the entire twenty-three years of my teaching career thus far. Superintendents and higher ups have come and gone, yet, there have been core people who have helped keep a familial culture in existence over the years. Those who have come in and embraced the sense of community, have remained and strengthened what was started long ago. When kids begin joining us in a little over a week, it will be our charge to identify the strengths and gifts that each of them brings to our classroom. It is my hope and prayer that we not compare ourselves nor them to each other, but rather see and celebrate each one as is, recognizing the potential in all that is yet to be.

After speaking with mom last evening, I received a bit more clarification about her appointment last week and the hold-up with in-home therapies. Apparently, it is not a need for seeing another specialist, but rather a bit of a fight/search to find in-home therapies that her new insurance will cover. This is extraordinarily frustrating, as a different insurance would have been selected, had we known it would have been so difficult. God is good, and He is faithful to meet mom’s needs, so we are trusting that He will make a way quickly, as a long delay is not beneficial to mom’s ongoing rehabilitation and recovery. On the positive side, she is working hard, making sure to work on her walking multiple times each day. Please join us in praying that all will be worked out and settled this week, so that perhaps as my nephews return to school, mom will be able to begin her therapies back up at home.

 

We each have a role, aristotle_quote_the_whole_is_greater_than_the_sum_of_its_parts_1439598_1807304324820819141384587.png

A part we’re to play;

Gifted and equipped,

God has made the way.

When we choose to live,

To walk out our days;

As He intended,

Our lives bring Him praise.

Part of the body,

Embracing our role;

Encourage others,

To work as a whole.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created each of us with different strengths and gifts, and intended us for community so that we could work together to be strong and whole. Forgive us for comparison, for that is the thief of joy that leads to us thinking either too little or too much of ourselves. Teach us to instead, appreciate all that You create and grow in each of us, and to encourage those around us well. Show us how to love those You place in our lives in a way that celebrates the unique way that You have created each of them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for each person that You have placed in our community to contribute to the whole. 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

Why We 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)

“And when two or three of you are together because of Me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” – (Matthew 18:20, MSG)

 

This verse is a reminder of why it is so important to gather with other believers. Church is not about religion and rules, it is an opportunity to join together and recognize the presence of God. Yes, God is with us, always, but there is something powerful that transpires when a group of people gathers to seek the heart of God. His presence is made known, and those in the midst of it are strengthened, encouraged and equipped to go out in His power. We were created for relationship. Isolation for too long, causes the heart to grow weary, and faith to become frail. God is faithful and loving no matter what, but He invites us to lay hold of the power of His presence through gathering together with others who seek Him. May we ever pursue opportunities to gather with others who are seeking the Lord, so as to mutually encourage and edify one another as He makes His presence known.

 

Let us seek gather,

Peace Through Understanding

With others, pursue;

The heart of the Lord,

As His word is true.

When people choose join,

Their hearts and their minds;

To seek our Savior,

His presence, they find.

Our God is faithful,

His word ever true;

He makes Himself known,

Collective pursuit.

Let’s seek with intent,

And join together;

For God will be found,

Most gracious treasure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to join together to seek You. Thank You that You are faithful to make Your presence known, each time we gather to pursue You. Forgive us for thinking that we can handle life on our own, rather than joining with others to seek and find Your faithful presence. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would invest in relationships that support and encourage a life lived in pursuit of You. Show us how to love and encourage those around us, so that they too, would want to pursue Your heart with others to experience the power made known as we gather. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we gather in Your Name, recognizing the power of Your presence that comes when we join together to seek You. Amen.

 

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

 

Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to Your Holy Name and glory in Your praise. – Psalm 106:47

A Faithful Heritage

For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. – (Psalm 100:5, NIV)

The Lord is good! There is no end to His faithful love. We can trust Him forever and ever! – (Psalm 100:5, ERV)

Because the Eternal is good, His loyal love and mercy will never end, and His truth will last throughout all generations. – (Psalm 100:5, VOICE)

 

Every year, I am blessed with the opportunity to gather with family to give thanks. What I have noticed, is that the same goodness and faithfulness that I remember my great-grandmothers speaking of, what I saw in my grandparents’ lives, have witnessed and still see in my mom’s life, I now observe in awe, in my own life and the lives of my children. This is not to say that life has been free of trials or struggles or difficulty, but rather it is that through it all, the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness have been evident through each generation. May we take time to tell one another of the Lord’s ongoing faithfulness in our lives, as His love endures forever and His mercy knows no end.

 

Come and bless the Lord,

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Photos by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

He’s faithful and good;

His love is endless,

Throughout time it’s stood.

Firm in great mercy,

Generous in grace;

Faithful forever,

The Ancient of Days.

Each generation,

Make known to the next;

This love, unending,

As God loves us best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for a heritage of wise women and men who followed faithfully after You. Thank You for the example that previous generations have set for the next. Forgive us for not sharing enough about Your faithfulness with those who follow after us. Teach us to trust and rely on You, so that our children and their children cannot help but see Your faithful, enduring love forever. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes Your faithfulness, love and grace known through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your faithfulness forever and give You praise throughout all of our days. Amen.

 

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

 

Your faithfulness continues through all generations; You established the earth, and it endures. – Psalm 119:90

Peace and Thanksgiving

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to be peace. And be thankful. – (Colossians 3:15, NIV)

Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking. It is for peace that you were chosen to be together in one body. And always be thankful. – (Colossians 3:15, ERV)

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. – (Colossians 3:15, MSG)

 

As we gather together with family and friends to celebrate our reasons to give thanks, may the peace of Christ be present to lead us and guide us. When we allow Christ to rule in our hearts, the motivation behind our words and deeds is love. Love is patient and love is kind, and such things are proponents of peace. Each time we encounter a gathering where love reigns, gratitude and grace grow greater than any insignificant irritant. May we allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts and lead us as we gather together, giving thanks to Him for all that He has done to provide the people present among us.

 

May His peace prevail, img_2018-11-22_06-23-588320532747532005523.jpg

Wherever we are;

For it is a space,

Of Love’s reservoir.

Where His peace is known,

So too, is His grace;

Love freely given,

Fills hearts full of praise.

Go forth and gather,

In His grace and peace;

With hearts full of thanks,

May blessings increase.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your peace will rule in our heart as we seek and rely on You. Thank You that Your grace covers our lack. Thank You for the gift of family and friends with whom we are blessed with time to gather. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected Your leading and disrupted the peace You intended, or have not given You thanks for all that You are and all that You do in our lives. Teach us to lean into You to lead us in peace and to have a thankful heart. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may promote peace and gratitude through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your peace to rule our hearts and give all of our gratitude to You. Amen.

 

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

 

Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. – Psalm 85:11

Generate Good Growth

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. – (Romans 14:19, NIV)

So, let’s try as hard as we can to do what will bring peace. Let’s do whatever will help each other grow stronger in faith. – (Romans 14:19, ERV)

So, let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words. – (Romans 14:19, MSG)

 

Peace is a place within ourselves where we feel at ease, despite what surrounds us. Another sort of peace is that which is discovered as people choose to prefer one another and give grace to each other, making peace possible in spaces where we gather and dwell together – be it at home, school, work, church, or out and about in the community. Encouragement and kindness do not require like-mindedness. It is entirely possible (and necessary) to bring peace into places where individuals of great diversity dwell. There need not be common faith, political views, nor upbringing to listen and care for the community around us. Each person has purpose and something to offer, and when we recognize and value one another, peace and mutual edification soon follow. May we do whatever we can to help each other grow, as we pursue peace in the places where we are planted.

 

O Lord help us be, Trusted Thoughts and Worthwhile Words

Instruments of peace;

Who encourage well,

Set people at ease.

For we are not called,

To argue and fight;

But to be at peace,

And walk in Your light.

Teach us, dear Jesus,

To bring about peace;

To love as You love,

And Your grace increase.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be at peace with one another and to encourage each other. Forgive us for the times that we have been at odds with others, or have chosen to use words that tore down, rather than built up. Teach us to turn to You to lead us and guide us in what we say and do to promote peace in all the places we have been planted. Show us how to love those around us with encouragement that generates good growth. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your strength and wisdom to walk in peace and wield words of encouragement wherever we go. Amen.

 

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

The Lord gives His people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace. – Psalm 29:11

Restoring Joy

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – (Psalm 51:12, NIV)

Your help made me so happy. Give me that joy again. Make my spirit strong and ready to obey You. – (Psalm 51:12, ERV)

Let my passion for life be restored, tasting joy in every breakthrough You bring to me. Hold me close to You with a willing spirit that obeys whatever You say. – (Psalm 51:12, TPT)

 

Currently, I am on our Sisterhood Retreat with my church. It is a time for the ladies to gather, connect, worship and grow together. Interestingly, it seems that each time there is intentional gathering to connect, the very words of this verse come to life for those who had been walking in a dry and weary place. We have been created for relationships. God intended that we not walk the path set before us, alone. He is gracious and kind, and provides people to surround and walk beside us, if we are only willing to invest and allow others in. Part of maintaining a passion and a joy in who God has created us to be and our ability to obey what He asks, come from the strength we gain through the blessing of being connected. I have found that this applies in every area of my life, be it at home, work, church, my neighborhood, the community or any other place I find Him leading.  The more invested and connected I am, the more my joy remains, despite the circumstances that come and go. May we ever seek the Lord to restore and uphold the joy of our salvation, and lead us to the connections that encourage and strengthen us as we walk out each day.

 

Oh Lord, may we come, fb_img_15400123159817887031286001252606.jpg

With hearts seeking You;

Restore unto us,

Your joy that is true.

Joy that is lasting,

Despite ups and downs;

A heart that’s certain,

Of Your rightful crown.

Make our hearts willing,

To trust and obey;

Surround us with those,

Seeking do the same.

O Lord, You are good,

All joy’s found in You;

Restore any space,

That need be renewed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us unto Yourself so that we may know the depth of joy found in a hope and future in You. Thank You that You have created us for relationships and You provide us opportunities to invest and deepen them as we pursue the path that You have placed before us. Forgive us for not seeking You to restore our joy when it feels lost, or for retreating when You call us to move boldly and invest in those whom You have placed around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be routinely restored as we walk in obedience to all that You ask. Show us how to love those around us in a way that strengthens and spreads joy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to restore and uphold the joy we have in our hope in You, and strengthen our relationships as we willingly step out and obey that which You ask of us. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. – Psalm 28:7

We Belong to Each Other

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, NIV)

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, ERV)

For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too – the many – are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone. – (Romans 12:4-5, VOICE)

 

Both my Viking and I sat in awe and wonder as we reflected on the variety of friends and family that had joined us to gather to celebrate our new life together yesterday. There were educators and police officers, medical professionals, business people, football friends and childhood treasures, church family and those that have been family since birth – it was wonderful to see the evidence of how each has touched our lives and helped us become together, what we could not be on our own. God is good, and He blesses us with a body of people who have a variety of gifts and talents, so that together, we are able to become what He intends for us. May we ever embrace those whom God places in our lives and give Him praise for the gift that they are to us.

 

Just as we’ve a body, wp-15352968608005978420073665084020.jpg

That has many parts;

So too, we have people,

With strengths and great hearts.

Each with different gifts,

Talents meant to share;

Love and laughter to give,

Not things to compare.

All thanks unto the Lord,

Who grants by His grace;

Treasured variety,

By His loving ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace that grants us community that is varied in people who have different gifts, talents and life experience to speak into our lives. Forgive us for not treasuring the gifts in others as much as You do. Teach us to see others through Your eyes, so that we would recognize and appreciate the strengths, talents and gifts that You have given to those around us. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we too, may utilize the strengths and talents You have placed in us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to see and appreciate others through Your eyes, and to utilize what You have given to us for Your purposes. Amen.

 

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

 

One who loves a pure heart and speaks with grace will have the king for a friend. – Proverbs 22:11

Built Up in Peace

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. – (Romans 14:19, NIV)

So, let’s strive for the things that bring peace and the things that build each other up. – (Romans 14:19, CEB)

So then, make it your top priority to live a life of peace with harmony in your relationships, eagerly seeking to strengthen and encourage one another. – (Romans 14:19, TPT)

 

As myself and many of my colleagues have returned to school to begin to prepare for the upcoming school year, I love that the climate among my coworkers is such as this. Each time I have run into a colleague, we have taken the time to catch up and listen to one another, as well as delight in each other’s summer adventures. Always, I walk away feeling encouraged and built up, knowing that I am in a place where we support one another both as professionals and as people. While I was painting walls and allowing the lyrics to which I was listening to sink in, it was my prayer that my classroom would be a place of peace where students would build each other up. Perhaps if they witness the continual positive and peaceful exchanges between colleagues, they too, will be encouraged to do likewise. It certainly is my goal to create a place of peace and encouragement within my classroom, and my hope that it goes far beyond my four walls. May we seek the Lord daily, who is the Prince of Peace, to fill us up and equip us to bring encouragement and peace to all of the places that He has planned.

 

Let us choose seek peace, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One to another;

May kindness take lead,

Sisters and brothers.

May we choose build up,

With encouragement;

Pick words that bring life,

Sweet hope’s fulfillment.

For as we bring peace,

It reaches beyond;

Those our choices touch,

From there they respond.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to bring peace and encouragement to the places we gather. Thank You that these are not things that we must somehow muster the feelings to pass on, but rather they are a way birthed within us as we seek You for help. Forgive us for trying to do this on our own, or for ignoring the very notion of peace in places that seem so unsettled. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and depend on You to bring peace to the places we land, and provide encouraging words to share with those around us. Show us how to love others with Your perfect peace and encouragement. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our peace and encouragement so that we may share Your peace and offer encouragement wherever we go. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Fee for Freedom

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – (John 8:36, NLT)

So if the Son makes you free, you are really free. – (John 8:36, ERV)

So if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free! – (John 8:36, TPT)

 

Freedom is not without a price. For most of us, we are blissfully unaware of the extent of the cost of the precious freedom that we enjoy each day. We have the right to say and do whatever we desire to do (within the legal limits of the law), and we have the choice to worship and gather without fear. Many nations in the world today are not afforded such luxuries. The people live in fear and cannot gather without the threat of imprisonment or death, simply for seeking to enjoy the very freedoms we so often take for granted. Today, as we celebrate Independence Day, may we take time to reflect and give thanks for the freedoms we know in our nation, and even more importantly, the freedom we know in our hearts that has been granted by God in the gift of mercy and grace generously given through His Son.

 

This mighty freedom, On the Eve of New

We know and adore;

Has come at a price,

From ones who gave more.

National freedom,

From those who fought for;

Sweet independence,

From ways once abhorred.

Personal freedom,

The greatest of all;

Through Christ’s sacrifice,

Our forgiveness call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that we have been given through the sacrifice of Your Son. Thank You all who seek You, find forgiveness and grace – freedom from the weight of our past mistakes and failures. Thank You too for the gift of freedom that we know in our nation, as we know that not all countries know a freedom such as ours. Forgive us for taking either freedom for granted, and teach us to give You praise for all our days for the incredible gift we have come to know in each. Show us how to love others well, so they too, may know the freedom found in the goodness of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the freedom we know and the grace to grow. 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