Overflowing Gratitude

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. – (Colossians 2:6-7, NIV)

You accepted Jesus Christ as Lord, so continue to live in Him. You must depend on Christ only, drawing life and strength from Him. Just as you were taught the truth, continue to grow stronger in your understanding of it. And never stop giving thanks to God. – (Colossians 2:6-7, ERV)

Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness. – (Colossians 2:6-7, VOICE)

This is an ongoing, lifelong process that makes all of the difference in how our lives are lived. When we remain rooted in Christ, He strengthens our faith and reminds us of all that we have to be thankful for. Yesterday, as I was pulling into the parking lot where I coach high school gymnastics, I received a call from the specialist who had performed the biopsy on my lip. From the start, I could tell her tone was somber, so I took a deep breath and listened to the news she was sharing with me. The results were worse than she had anticipated, as aggressive carcinoma cells were found in the muscle, nerves and tissue from the punch sample. She said that normally the surgical process she had previously anticipated for me would be scheduled out in January, but due to the nature of the findings, it will be made a high priority and the schedulers will orchestrate a time as soon as possible. This is not exactly the news I had hoped or prayed for, but I needed to get into the gym and coach my girls. It was only after practice, when I called my husband, walked the dogs (prayerfully), and then spoke with my sisters and best friend, that I was able to breathe more easily and feel the familiar foundation of faith rise up. Being reminded of the beautiful community I am in floods my heart with gratitude. I am thankful that the spot was discovered before it spread further, that I have family and friends that support and encourage me, and that the success rate of treating this sort of cancer at this stage is outstanding. Additionally, I am grateful for sweet, smart dogs that seem to sense the need for snuggles. Currently, I have a gentle giant curled up and snoring softly on my lap. May we ever journey with Jesus through every twist and turn that life brings, for He is faithful to strengthen us and supply all that we need.

Give thanks to the Lord,

For He is the good;

That strengthens, supports,

Makes love understood.

He pours out His grace,

Holds us up gently;

Embraces our heart,

And makes our fears flee.

He brings alongside,

Kind community;

Equips, empowers,

Grants His eyes to see.

Things aren’t forever,

Pain’s temporary;

But our hope in Him,

Lasts eternally.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength, our hope and our help. Thank You that You are our reason to give thanks. Forgive us for the times that we allow our circumstances to temporarily blind us to the truth of Your love and grace that gets us through all things. Teach us to trust You more each day, and flood us to overflowing with Your goodness and love. Show us how to love those around us in ways that strengthen and encourage, making Your heart abundantly clear to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks for who You are and how You love us so well. Amen.

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

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

Walking the Way of Love

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, NIV)

You are God’s dear children, so try to be like Him. Live a life of love. Love others just as Christ loved us. He gave Himself for us – a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, ERV)

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, MSG)

Some days, walking the way of love is far more difficult than others. There are moments in the craziness of my days that I am unsure of what love ought to look like. This is where we need Jesus more than ever. We need His eyes to see and His heart to love when we cannot even process the things unfolding before us. Yesterday, an insane incident in one of my classes left me so stunned that all I could do was ask if kids were okay after I had the disrupter step outside. I am very aware of my need for God to lead me in His love in everything I say and do, for I am not equipped on my own to navigate all that comes my way. May we ever seek the Lord and His lavish love, so that we may navigate our days in the light of His love.

Lord, teach us to love,

In all things like You;

Extravagantly,

So Your heart shines through.

For love is given,

Not so that we get;

But rather to show,

All that’s to come yet.

As we choose draw near,

Train us in Your ways;

Make Your love made known,

Throughout each new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are an ongoing work in progress. Thank You that You continue to grow us and transform us to better reflect Your love to those around us. Forgive us for our frustrations and expectations of others. Teach us to see others through Your lens, as we recognize the need for love all around us. Show us how to love those whom You place on our path as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever seek You to continue to teach us to love like You. Amen.

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

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love. – 2 John 1:6

Look to the Heart

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, HCSB)

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Eliab is tall and handsome, but don’t judge by things like that. God doesn’t look at what people see. People judge by what is on the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart. Eliab is not the right man.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, ERV)

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” – (1 Samuel 16:7, MSG)

This passage is from when God called Samuel to go and anoint the one who was to succeed Saul as king. To the ordinary observer, David’s older brothers seemed to be far more appropriate candidates. However, God saw so much more. In David, God saw a man after His own heart. David had the heart of a warrior and a worshiper – both of which God used while David grew and learned the faithfulness of God as he faced a giant with a sling and a stone, and later led a nation as he sang and danced praising God for His faithfulness. Incredibly, what this shows us is that we never know who God is raising up for great things. Our task is to love and encourage all, and to look past appearances and instead see the heart. I know in relationships, the people I am most drawn to have beautiful hearts. The more I get to know them, the more I see who they are radiating through, and recognize what draws others in. As a teacher, this is critical. We never know who the next leaders, doctors, pastors, educators, community advocates, parents and more are in the ones seated in our classrooms. Each has been created with a purpose, and it is our job to help strengthen the heart so that they can see their own potential and pursue all that God has for them. May we ever seek the Lord to give us His eyes to see, so that we may encourage those around us in the strengths that they have been given, and glorify God for His goodness.

Look not at the face,

But rather the heart;

The true character,

Where seeing must start.

For we never know,

All that God has planned;

Purpose He has placed,

In women and men.

A mere shepherd boy,

Was anointed king;

Despite appearance,

Beyond what was seen.

God looks at our hearts,

The strengths found within;

His plan and purpose,

Waiting to begin.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see beyond what others see. Thank You that You look to the heart to lead us into all that You have for us. Forgive us for selling others short based on what we see. Teach us to look through Your lens so that we see the potential and promise in everyone we meet. Lead us to love those around us in ways that encourage and strengthen each in the gifts and talents You have placed in them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, and trust in You to lead them to walk out their purpose. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to help us see others as You do. Amen.

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

The One who chose you will do that for you. You can trust Him. – 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – (Matthew 5:9, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who work to bring peace. God will call them His sons and daughters. – (Matthew 5:9, ERV)

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. – (Matthew 5:9, MSG)

Part of loving God and loving people is working to bring His peace wherever we go. Competing or fighting does not convey love, but rather cooperation and encouragement are the things that communicate love as God intended. The incredible thing about doing things the way that God designed us to do them is that we discover the strengths that each person has to offer, and can celebrate who God has made each of us to be. In community, we need each other. When each of us is operating in the strengths that are part of our very being, things are accomplished and peace can reign. Even more, when we simply seek to work together in harmony, we are called God’s own children. It is in that space of operating in the gifts that God has given us and celebrating those in the people around us that we discover a peaceful existence within our communities. This applies to marriage, family, friend groups, work, and beyond. Each of us has something to offer and the capacity to exist peacefully with one another as we seek to cooperate and appreciate each other. May we ever seek the Lord to give us His eyes to see the strengths in others, and the heart to appreciate and celebrate what each has to offer so that we might live peacefully with one another.

May peace be present,

Wherever we go;

Working together,

May the Lord’s love show.

Help us see the strength,

In one another;

And celebrate each,

As sisters, brothers.

Let the peace of God,

Be what leads us on;

Choose appreciate,

With celebration.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be peacemakers. Thank You that it is through recognizing and celebrating the strength in others, and intentionally choosing to work together that we come to know Your peace and the goodness of Your love as we are called Your children. Forgive us for competing or fighting instead of working together. Show us how to be peacemakers everywhere we go. Lead us to love and celebrate one another so that we can work together in harmony. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to be peacemakers wherever we are and with whomever we interact. Amen.

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

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