Before All Things and In All Things

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. – (Colossians 1:17, NIV)

The Son was there before anything was made. And all things continue because of Him. – (Colossians 1:17, ERV)

He existed before anything was made, and now everything finds completion in Him. – (Colossians 1:17, TPT)

 

There are times when particular groups of people are joined together for a season, that the reality of this verse is made tangible. I am always in awe when beautifully diverse groups of people come together for a common purpose, and grow close in the process. This winter, as I participated in my first season as a high school assistant gymnastics coach, I have had the pleasure of witnessing and participating in such a fantastic unfolding as this team has bonded and had a season that has far exceeded their own expectations. Last night, the ladies competed at the state gymnastics meet as a team. To qualify, they had an undefeated regular season, were among the top teams at sub-districts, and again found themselves on the podium as a team at the state-qualifying district meet. There were personal bests and disappointments, a moment of terror as a girl went down during her floor routine, (thankfully only sustaining what would be a relatively minor injury and she should good as new in a day or two) and one of our seniors qualified for the finals later today on the floor exercise. All of the girls celebrated the successes with those who achieved something they had been working for, comforted those who did not perform as well as they had hoped, and gathered around the young lady who was injured to be certain she was okay, extending comfort and care. All in all, it has been just such a season that reminds me that He goes before all things and holds all things together. I am beyond blessed to have been a part of it, and cannot wait to continue coaching with the returning underclassmen. May we all look for the ways that God makes His presence evident, as He has gone before us, and He holds all things together.

 

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The Lord always was;

With good things in mind,

Because He loves us.

Always He is near,

Wherever we go;

Whatever we do,

His presence made known.

We need only look,

In wonder, shall see;

The power of love,

God grants you and me.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You prepare time and space for us. Thank You that You bless us with the people whom we are surrounded with in different seasons of our lives. Forgive us for the times that we take the gifts for granted. Teach us to appreciate each person and each season, as You show us Your heart and grow us more to reflect Your heart to others if we rely on You. Show us how to lean into You, so that we would love well, all those whom we interact with each day. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise and honor You for who You are and how You love. Amen.

 

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

 

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

The Power of Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, NIV)

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be made angry easily. Love does not remember wrongs against it. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, ERV)

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. – (1 Corinthians 13:4-5, TPT)

 

Love is a powerful force, created by God, to bring people together. Not only are we commanded to love, but His word unpacks for us, how to love like Him. To say that love is patient, means that love needs to contain the capacity for endurance. It is not to have an on/off switch based on circumstance, but rather love endures through all things, at all times. Love is kind, is an expectation that love will choose to be considerate, helpful, gentle and from a tendency toward tenderness. A love that does not envy, is one that rejoices in the successes and blessings of others, rather than wishing they were their own. True love does not need to place their own accomplishments on parade, nor promote self, for their heart, their love and their kindness speak for their character. This one is one that I witness far too often in middle school, and it is one of my greatest frustrations, as love does not dishonor, belittle nor disrespect others. To be easily angered is to have a short fuse, and God, in His grace, will replace the short wick with a long one, if we depend on Him. Lastly, love not keeping record of wrongs, is a curious call. Of course, we are not to hold grudges, and we must forgive, for unforgiveness is toxic to the holder, not the offender. However, it is impossible in our own strength to not be at least a bit influenced by the treatment we have received in the past from others. To love the way in which God calls us to love, we need Him, every moment of every day. We are broken and flawed; He is holy and perfect and pure. If we rely on Him, we can learn to love as we are meant to love. May we ever seek the Lord and His heart for others, so that we love as He first loved us.

 

Lord, help us to love, Diligent for All of Our Days

Be patient and kind;

Never to envy,

Keep others in mind.

Lead us to honor,

Each other in love;

Respect and forgive,

Love as You first loved.

Help us to let go,

Of wrongs of the past;

Forgive, move forward,

With Your love that lasts.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us and instruct us to love. Thank You that You sent Your Son to show us what it is to love the way that we are called to love. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to love, as our words, thoughts or actions countered the very things You call us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we walk in love according to Your instructions. Show us how to love patiently and with kindness, and keep envy, pride and anger far from us. Help us to meet those around us with the love that is needed most, even when their words or actions make us want to run the other direction. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to love the way that You are calling us to love. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. – Psalm 103:8

Grateful for the Gifts

We ought to always thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. – (2 Thessalonians 1:3, NIV)

We thank God for you always. And that’s what we should do, because you give us good reason to be thankful: Your faith is growing more and more. And the love that every one of you has for each other is growing. – (2 Thessalonians 1:3, ERV)

Brothers and sisters, we cannot help but thank God for you, which is only appropriate because your faith is growing and expanding and because the love demonstrated by each and every one of you is overflowing for one another. – (2 Thessalonians 1:3, VOICE)

 

This morning, this is a sweet reminder to give thanks for the people whom God has placed in my life, who show me His love in tangible ways. Yesterday, I was at our league championship gymnastics meet from mid-morning until after eight in the evening. My best friend drove all the way to where the meet was located, only to have to turn around and go home, due to the cash-only entry fee. I did not realize that the admission was cash only to let her know, and she, much like myself and so many, does not make it a habit to carry cash. Despite the mishap, I was beyond blessed that the effort had been made, and am extremely grateful for the gift of a friend who loves in such a tangible way. She knows how much coaching and the meet mattered to me, and thus, made the time and extended the effort to be present to support me and the team. When we are loved well, we are further equipped to do the same for others. God, in His great love for us, surrounds us with those whom He intended, who have hearts that are growing in faith and overflowing in love, that bless and challenge us to do the same. May we ever thank God for those He has placed in our lives that grow our faith and love to overflowing.

 

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For He’s always good;

He grants us people,

Who love as they should.

They love with their time,

Heart, soul, mind and strength;

Increasing our faith,

Going to great lengths.

May we choose love too,

In ways that make clear;

The heart of the Lord,

And how He is near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the people that You place in our lives to show us more of Your love and care. Thank You that Your heart for us is made tangible through the kindness and care of those who love well. Thank You that we too, have the opportunity to love in the same way. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive all that You have to offer, so that Your love, kindness and grace, overflow through us. Show us how to love those around us best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks for the sisters and brothers that we are blessed to know, and help us extend Your love to each of them as You call us to do. Amen.

 

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

 

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10

With Justice and Kindness

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. – (Proverbs 21:21, NIV)

People who try hard to do good and be faithful will find life, goodness, and honor. – (Proverbs 21:21, ERV)

Whoever pursues justice and treats others with kindness discovers true life marked by integrity and respect. – (Proverbs 21:21, VOICE)

 

Good begets good, and you reap what you sow. This particular verse in Proverbs reminds us of the importance of doing what is right. The challenge is that the reward of goodness, honor and respect are not always evident when we pursue the path marked by a righteousness and love that is ever seeking to do good and be faithful in all things. We live in a broken world, surrounded by people who are hurting. Often, even when goodness, faithfulness and kindness are extended, hurting people hurt the people that they need the most. We need to love anyway. It does not mean that we need to be a doormat or allow things that should not be so to continue, but it does mean that our charge is to keep pursuing justice and treat others with kindness, each day that we draw breath. May we ever be a people who pursue righteousness and do good, so that all may come to know the goodness and love that God freely gives.

 

Justice and mercy, What Gift Shall I Give

Are love’s true pursuit;

Extending kindness,

Godly attribute.

For as we love well,

We make God’s grace known;

The same is returned,

This is how good’s grown.

God will empower,

Our hearts to choose love;

As to Him we turn,

And trust God above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we pursue justice and kindness, You faithfully honor our seeking. Thank You that even when we cannot see or understand the impact of choosing to extend good to others, You use it for Your glory. Forgive us for our frustration with those who are hurting and behave poorly toward us or others. Please grant us wisdom and insight as to how to navigate best in love. Show us how to love all those around us well, especially those in need of kindness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue to live justly and extend kindness, everywhere we go. Amen.

 

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

 

Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers His righteousness on you. – Hosea 10:12

Choose Praise

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, … for the Mighty One has done great things for me – Holy is His Name.” – (Luke 1:46,47 & 49, NIV)

Then Mary said, “I praise the Lord with all my heart. I am very happy because God is my Savior. Yes, the Powerful One has done great things for me. His Name is very holy. – (Luke 1:46, 47 & 49, ERV)

Mary: My soul lifts up the Lord! My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator! For the Mighty One has done great things for me; holy is God’s Name! – (Luke 1:46, 47 & 49, VOICE)

 

I observe in awe and wonder, the heart of Mary, as she focused on the gift and the honor for which she had been chosen, rather than the stigma and challenges that would come with what was being asked of her. She trusted God, and praised Him. In this season, and always, I desire to have a heart like hers. God has done incredibly great things for me, and I know with all that I am, that He indeed, is holy. When challenges come, I desire for my focus to be on glorifying God for who He is, so that I may rejoice in Him, rather than my circumstances. As we walk into the wearying last week before break, may we look to the Lord and celebrate all that He has done. May praise be present within me, as I know the true joy in who He is and how He loves so well.

 

I choose praise the Lord,

With all of my heart;

Celebrate His grace,

And strength He imparts.

So many great things,

The Lord does in love;

Worthy of our praise,

All gifts from above.

He’s mighty to save,

And faithful to show;

The mercy we need,

As His blessings flow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have unending reasons to glorify You and rejoice in Your Mighty Name. Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning and that Your faithfulness knows no end. Thank You that You love us with an unfailing love. Forgive us for doubting the depths of Your love and care when life takes difficult turns. Teach us to trust You more, as You know the outcome and walk beside us each step of life’s journey. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we extend grace and strength and hope to those who are lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise, our Savior, who does great things for us all. Amen.

 

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

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34

United in Peace

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – (Ephesians 4:3, NIV)

You are joined together with peace through the Spirit. Do all you can to continue as you are, letting peace hold you together. – (Ephesians 4:3, ERV)

Make every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit has already created, with peace binding you together. – (Ephesians 4:3, VOICE)

 

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the celebration of life for my father-in-law with my husband, sister-in-law, her husband, and my brother-in-law. Incredibly, despite the eclectic collection of family brought together by loss, there was a sense of peace in the room, despite normal tensions between some of the various family members. Everyone seemed to set aside their differences for the sake of celebrating their eldest sibling/uncle. Stories were shared around tables, and much laughter filled the room. I think Donald would have been pleased to see smiling faces, rather than tears, and delighted at the distance that so many traveled to gather in his honor. The sentiment that Mark, his brother and I walked away with, was gratitude. We were thankful for the opportunity to see the aunts, uncles and cousins all together in one place, and to have had a positive and peaceful gathering together with family.

 

Each chance that we get,

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6/7 of the remaining siblings in top photo. Their children in photo below.

Rise up and choose peace;

Preserve what God gives,

Allow grace release.

A spirit of peace,

Invites others in;

Broadens your circle,

It’s how grace begins.

Go forth in God’s grace,

Sow always, His peace;

Let God’s love be known,

For it shall not cease.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace that grants us peace in places it seems unlikely. Thank You for empowering us with Your Spirit to extend peace wherever we go. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected our role as purveyors of peace. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to go before us, walk beside us, and dwell within us in peace. Show us how to love those around us in ways that promote Your peace wherever we go. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise up and share Your peace wherever we go. 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

Honor and Protect

May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in You. – (Psalm 25:21, NIV)

You are good and do what is right. I trust You to protect me. – (Psalm 25:21, ERV)

May honor and strong character keep me safe. Vigilantly I wait for You, hoping, trusting. – (Psalm 25:21, VOICE)

 

One of my husband’s favorite things about his job is that he works with great people. He is especially drawn to the motor officers, as he has had the privilege of working closely with and attending training each summer with them, as he keeps their motorcycles running safely throughout the year. Last evening, we were honored to attend a small retirement dinner for one of the motor officers, whom Mark has worked with the entire time that he has been employed by the city. It was a joy to be in the company of men and their wives who live upright and are of strong character; humbly trusting and hoping in God as they choose to serve their community. In such a position, I imagine it requires intentional trust each day, for protection and direction as they seek to fulfill their duties with integrity and uprightness. In the same way that I pray daily for the safety and protection of my family, I ought to also remember those who serve our city, state and our nation. May integrity and uprightness protect us all as we place our hope in the Lord, who is worthy of all of our trust.

 

Lord, help me to seek, Honor and Protect

A heart after Yours;

Strong in character,

That in trust, endures.

May I walk upright,

In all that I do;

Let each word and deed,

Clearly reflect You.

Protect me, O God,

In all of my ways;

So Your light is shown,

Today and always.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace, and for the protection You provide for those who faithfully pursue Your ways. Thank You for those who willingly place their lives on the line to keep us safe, daily. Watch over and provide for their families too, as there is sacrifice in the space of uncertainty. Forgive us for taking such servants for granted, as so many seek You to lead and guide them in what they do. Teach us to remember in prayer, all who serve, and to pursue You to live with integrity and uprightness every single day. Show us how to love those around us in ways that encourage goodness, honor and strong character to rise up and be rooted securely in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we trust our lives into Your hands and seek You to live in such a way that You are honored well. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Patterns 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)

Be imitators of God in everything you do, for then you will represent your Father as His beloved sons and daughters. And continue to walk surrendered to the extravagant love of Christ, for He surrendered His life as a sacrifice for us. His great love for us was pleasing to God, like an aroma of adoration – a sweet healing fragrance. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, TPT)

 

When we choose to follow Christ, it is our charge to live out a life of love as His dearly loved children. Because we are loved by Him, we too, have the capacity to love others in the same way. Christ’s love is sacrificial and not self-seeking; in every way, His love is pleasing to God. On our own, such love is an impossible order. However, when we seek the Lord and spend time with Him and in His word, we learn to pattern our lives after His. This does not mean that we somehow “arrive” and suddenly love perfectly, yet the longer we pursue His path, the more clearly we are able to reflect His love. May we ever seek to follow God’s example as His dearly loved children, and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved each of us.

 

In all that we do, patterns-of-love.jpg

May we look to God;

And pattern our lives,

Make love our response.

God’s love is immense,

Sacrificial, kind;

Never self-seeking,

With our best in mind.

May we love the same,

Throughout all our days;

So God’s love is known,

As we give Him praise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved us. Thank You that You gave all so that we could have life and light and love. Thank You that Your love is not self-seeking, but rather You always have our very best in mind. Forgive us for the times that we have not loved in the same way, or have attempted to navigate on our own. Teach us how to pattern our lives after You, so that we may love in the same way that You love each of us. Show us how to love those around us selflessly and lavishly, so that they may experience and know the depth and breadth of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to pattern our lives after You, so that we may love completely. Amen.

 

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

 

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10

Praise in the Process

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. – (Colossians 3:17, NIV)

Everything you say and everything you do should be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. – (Colossians 3:17, ERV)

Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever – be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. – (Colossians 3:17, MSG)

 

Our purpose is to honor God in all that we say and do, and praise Him in the process. Everything we are, all that we have, and our capacity to do all things, is courtesy of Christ and all that He gave on our behalf. Because of God’s great love for us, it is only fitting and right that every word, thought and deed of ours is with the intent to honor the Lord. Without Him, there would be no life, no love, and no hope. In Christ, we have all these things and so much more. May we ever seek to honor the Lord in all that we do and say, giving thanks to God every step of each new day.

Today, I am extraordinarily grateful for a short work week, as I can hardly stand the wait to go and see my mom and sister and family for Thanksgiving. The short week is quite full, so I anticipate the days moving rather quickly, with Thursday being upon us before we know it. Our family has a list of favorites together, and mom reminded me last evening of the preparations being made, and how ready my sister and brother-in-love’s household are for our arrival. May we honor the Lord in the wait, and give Him thanks as we navigate our time between now and when we gather.

 

May all of my life, Be Full of Joy

Each word, thought and deed;

Give honor to God,

And follow His lead.

May each step I take,

Remind me to praise;

To thank God above,

For life all my days.

All that I can do,

In this life given;

May the Lord’s light shine,

Through each decision.

With thanks I choose rise,

And begin this day;

Place all in His hands,

Seek walk in His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You, and You remain God with us. Thank You that You will lead us and guide us in our every word, thought and deed as we seek Your will. Forgive us for the times that we have not, and have spoken or acted in ways that are not pleasing to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You to lead and guide us to walk in Your light. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your goodness and grace through our words and actions. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are, and give thanks for Your goodness and grace that leads us and guides us in the ways we are meant to go. Amen.

 

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

 

Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Love in Action

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. – (1 John 3:18, NIV)

My children, our love should not be only words and talk. No, or love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do. – (1 John 3:18, ERV)

Beloved children, our love can’t be an abstract theory we only talk about, but a way of life demonstrated through our loving deeds. – (1 John 3:18, TPT)

 

Today is a day off for many of us, as we celebrate and honor the men and women who have and still serve in our armed forces. These individuals have demonstrated what it is to love with action in truth, as they willingly chose to honor, serve and protect our nation and the freedoms we all enjoy. For most of us, today becomes a bonus day to either rest or accomplish items on our to-do list. Not only are we called to love with actions and in truth, but we ought to take time to appreciate and remember those who have modeled this before us. May we make time to honor, thank, remember or pray for those who have loved with actions in truth, and for those who are still making the decision to do so for the good of all. May the peace and protection of Christ be with each man and woman who has served, and those who still serve, as they understand what it is to love in action and in truth.

Love in action is exactly what is taking place in mom’s current location as she navigates this road to recovery. My sister and her family demonstrate love daily, as they honor and include Mom in their everyday lives. A favorite set of images that I caught on Instagram from Meg were of she, Scott, Mom, and their friends at an event in Corvallis. Smiles were abundant, and it was clear that Mom was enjoying herself and included. Love in action, again and again; chosen daily.

 

Limit not our love,

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My favorite veteran.

To mere words or speech;

But rather allow,

Our actions to teach.

For the things we do,

Each act done in love;

Makes God evident,

As truth shines above.

Words are forgotten,

But feelings remain;

How we are treated,

Oft’ love’s greatest gain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to demonstrate love through the truth of our actions, not just in words. Thank You for the powerful example set before us by so many who have chosen to sacrifice to protect. Forgive us for taking their sacrifice for granted, as we enjoy our freedoms every minute of each day. Father, quicken our hearts to remember to pray for Your protection, peace, presence and blessings over each man and woman who has served or is currently serving. Show us how to love all those around us with actions and in truth. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the ultimate sacrifice that You made on our behalf, so that we could have a relationship with You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

This is my command: Love each other. – John 15:17