Joyful Confidence

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

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

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

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

No matter what comes, 

May our hearts find joy; 

Not in the heartache, 

But God’s grace employed. 

Beauty from ashes, 

Is what we all need; 

Character building, 

In hope, He will lead. 

May we each rise up, 

In Christ, persevere; 

For He overcomes, 

Always, He is near. 

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

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

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

Choose Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! – (Philippians 4:4, NIV) 

Always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy. – (Philippians 4:4, ERV) 

Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! – (Philippians 4:4, TPT) 

After navigating the first week of school, despite all of the challenges and adjustments to an entirely new way of teaching, I find myself with a heart full of joy. God is good, all the time. Even when things are tough, He is still good. When we seek Him and look to Him to be our joy, we discover the countless ways that He is good. For me, the best thing about remote learning is my new group of kids. These sixth graders are sweet, polite, engaged, and have wonderful senses of humor. There is something to be said about keeping these great kids from too much exposure to the older kids, as they too quickly attempt to change who they are to fit in, during a “normal” school year. As I began to read the surveys that I had my students submit, my joy multiplied. From favorite family traditions to things that inspire them to do their best, these young people blessed my heart to overflowing, and joy abounds. I am reminded again and again, that God grants me joy, and fills my heart to overflowing. May we rejoice in the Lord, always, for He plants His joy deep within us, and fills our days with reason to praise. 

Be cheerful. Find joy, 

In each circumstance; 

For the Lord grants us, 

Hope and second chance. 

Even in trials, 

The Lord’s always good; 

Grants silver lining, 

His hope understood. 

Each day we’re given, 

Help us to rejoice; 

Joy on the journey, 

Is truly a choice. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and bless us with Your deep-rooted joy as we seek You. Thank You that there is always a reason to rejoice in You. Forgive us for our frustration and grumbling when things become difficult. Teach us to rejoice in the hope we have in You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that spread joy in all things and all seasons. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and rejoice in You, always. Amen. 

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

…for the joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Everything In Love

Do everything in love. – (1 Corinthians 16:14, NIV) 

Love without stopping. – (1 Corinthians 16:14, MSG) 

Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do. – (1 Corinthians 16:14, TPT) 

This is critical for me to remember as I utilize my final day prior to the start of the new school year, to prepare for the week that lies ahead. When I keep the main things, the main things, my motivation for all that I do to prepare, is love. In the same way that my colleagues are kind with me as we navigate this year’s journey together, my desire is that EVERYTHING I say and do is motivated by love and kindness. Each lesson, activity and presentation need to be delivered with love and kindness. Our kids have not had a “normal” day of school since March 13th; nor have we. Routine will feel and look different than it ever has before, yet there will be full class periods with curriculum, lessons, assignments, and assessments that will be counted toward grades and advancement. The task and the challenge will be to connect with kids in such a way, that they feel safe, known, and ready to learn. My hope and prayer are that I will be able to connect and get to know each student as they enter my classroom (virtual as it is), so that I may discover how to best assist them in their learning and well-being. This is no small desire, yet if love and kindness are my motivation, the seemingly insurmountable, will be possible. May we ever seek the Lord to be our love and strength, so that we may navigate this year with love and kindness in all that we say and do. 

Let everything, 

That I say and do; 

Be done in Your love, 

So kindness shines through. 

Each word, thought and deed, 

Be wrapped in Your care; 

May I shine Your light, 

To the world, out there. 

Help everyone, 

To know love and grace; 

Through kindness given, 

Throughout ev’ry day. 

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You that You give us love and kindness in abundance. Thank You that You call us to do the same for all those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our egos, frustrations or fears to dictate what we give to those around us. Teach us to lean into You in faith, as You grant us love and kindness for all. Show us how to do everything in love, so all may know Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to do everything in love. Amen. 

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Where Trust Belongs

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. – (Psalm 118:8, NIV) 

It is better to trust in the Lord than to trust in people. – (Psalm 118:8, ERV) 

Lord, it is so much better to trust in You to save me than to put my confidence in someone else. – (Psalm 118:8, TPT) 

Surrounding ourselves with people whom we love and trust is good, but ultimately, our trust must be in God alone. He is our refuge and strength; perfect and infallible. Humans, though wonderfully made, are imperfect and subject to sin. God does not get too busy, nor distracted, and He is always present to be our help and our hope. I am blessed to have incredible humans in my corner, yet, I cannot transfer my trust from God to them. He has to come first. Too often, when our trust is misplaced, we discover disappointment, sorrow and frustration. Humans are fallible. It is not to say that there ought not be people whom we trust, but rather we must trust God first. May we ever place our trust and confidence in the Lord, for His love never fails us. 

Far better it is, 

To trust in the Lord; 

For He’s ever near, 

Faith’s promised reward. 

Though people are good, 

And we need to trust; 

Our ultimate faith, 

In God is a must. 

His love never fails, 

As He is the One; 

Our safety, shelter, 

Faithful, risen Son. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the One in whom we can place our trust. Thank You that Your love is unending and will never fail us. Thank You that Your trustworthiness is not dependent upon our capacity to trust. Forgive us for the times that we have placed our faith in anyone or anything other than You. Teach us to seek You first as the One in whom we trust. Show us how to love others in ways that demonstrate Your faithfulness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our trust in You and Your unfailing love. Amen. 

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

Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in You. – Psalm 84:12

Fixed Eyes Stand Firm

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. – (Psalm 16:8, NIV) 

I always remember that the Lord is with me. He is here, close by my side, so nothing can defeat me. – (Psalm 16:8, ERV) 

Because You are close to me and always available, my confidence will never be shaken, for I experience Your wrap-around presence every moment. – (Psalm 16:8, TPT) 

This is the part that we have to remember, even when times are tough. It is as we keep our eyes on the Lord that we recognize that He is near, present, and will help us navigate every situation and circumstance. We will not be shaken if we place our confidence in Him. For me, the greatest challenge is to keep my eyes on Him, rather than allowing my attention to divert away from Him, and fixate on the challenge before me. If I look to Him in the face of struggle or adversity, I begin to see things through His lens rather than my own. Mountains look less treacherous, valleys appear less abysmal, and long stretches with no end in sight, are not so arduous nor lonely. God is faithful to meet us every moment of everyday as we seek and trust in Him. May we always keep our eyes on the Lord and remember that He is with us, so that we will not be shaken, despite the trials that come our way. 

I’ll not be shaken, 

As I know You’re near; 

With You by my side, 

There’s no room for fear. 

You are my anchor, 

In every storm; 

The light and the love, 

That keep my heart warm. 

Lord, You are the hope, 

In whom we are safe; 

Help us keep our eyes, 

On You, all our days. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we keep our eyes securely fixed on You, we discover our hope, our help and our security lie within You. Forgive us for the times that our gaze, our focus, shift away from You and onto what lies before us. Teach us to align our view through Your lens, so that we would remember Who is beside us, with us, and for us, always. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that Your light gives hope wherever it is absent. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we fix our eyes securely on You, and trust You to be our help, hope and safety, always. Amen.  

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

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:18

Time to Grow in Wisdom

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – (Psalm 90:12, NIV) 

Teach us how short our lives are so that we can become wise. – (Psalm 90:12, ERV) 

Help us to remember that our days are numbered, and help us to interpret our lives correctly. Set Your wisdom deeply in our hearts so that we may accept Your correction. – (Psalm 90:12, TPT) 

We have a limited amount of time to be who we are called to be. Wisdom is required to walk out our days well. I don’t know about you, but I know for me, I am acutely aware of my need for wisdom to do that which I am called to do. This is especially evident this year, as we are navigating new territory to teach remotely, then in a hybrid manner, and ultimately, how to transition back to a full schedule on campus. Last spring, we all were in survival mode, doing the very best that we could with what we had. Sadly, there were many students who were unable to participate and engage, and much wisdom will be required to make it work for all students. To be wise is to be willing to take direction and correction, as we continue to learn how to navigate the new. I need Jesus to accelerate my learning, and show me the ways that are His best. My hope is to smoothly start the year, engaging all students and to create a learning community that will translate both online and back in the classroom. Time is short, and there is so much to learn. May we seek the Lord for His wisdom, so that we may make the most of every day that we are given. 

Our time here is short, 

And our days are few; 

We need God’s wisdom, 

To know what to do. 

As we choose seek Him, 

He’s faithful to show; 

What we’re meant to do, 

And how we can grow. 

With a willing heart, 

Investment of time; 

He’ll show us the way, 

Shift our paradigm. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You meet us and impart Your wisdom as we earnestly seek You. Thank You that as we recognize how limited our time is, You are faithful to show us how to utilize it best. Forgive us for thinking that we have an unlimited amount of time, or for not seeking and pursuing Your wisdom to walk out our days according to Your plans. Show us how to number our days and seek after the wisdom we need from You. Teach us how to love those around us wisely. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for wisdom to walk out our days, so that each day that we have matters. Amen. 

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

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. – Proverbs 2:6

Eternal Truth

All Your words are true; all Your righteous laws are eternal. – (Psalm 119:160, NIV) 

Every word You say can be trusted. Your laws are fair and will last forever. – (Psalm 119:160, ERV) 

Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth. Your righteous decisions are eternal. – (Psalm 119:160, MSG) 

I am so thankful that God does not change. His word is true and what He says and He decides, last forever. There are so many things that surround us that are constantly changing – expectations, working conditions, parameters of jobs, growing children and puppies… The one thing that we can count on from the world, is change. However, from God, we can rely on His word, His truth and His promises remaining the same. For this, I am truly grateful. No matter what goes on around us, His love remains the same. God’s righteous laws for us boil down to loving Him and loving each other. He has a plan and a purpose for us all. As many of us look forward with anticipation and a bit of trepidation, may we remember that God is for us, and His love, help and presence forever remain. 

Let’s look to the Lord, 

For His words are true; 

His laws good and just, 

For His love shines through. 

No matter the time, 

Season, circumstance; 

All that the Lord is, 

Our reason to dance. 

Dance in His presence, 

Give glory to Him; 

Unchanging His love, 

Our hope, never dimmed. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your words are true and Your laws last forever. Thank You that You never change. Forgive us for somehow thinking that our ever-changing circumstances are somehow a reflection of You. Teach us to trust in the truth – that You are good and just and loving. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate the truth and trustworthiness of Your word. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your words that are eternal. Amen. 

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

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

Quiet Retreat

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word. – (Psalm 119:114, NIV) 

You’re my place of quiet retreat, and Your wrap-around presence becomes my shield as I wrap myself in Your word! – (Psalm 119:114, TPT) 

You are my hiding place and my shield of protection; I hope in Your word. – (Psalm 119:114, VOICE) 

I have been in the habit of seeking a quiet retreat with God every morning for several years now, however, in this seemingly long season of COVID, I find that there has been far more down time than I am a fan of having. That being said, it has forced me to either rest in the truth of His word, and appreciate the quiet retreat, or allow my heart and mind in a frenzy of what I could and should be doing. Thor, our yellow lab puppy, grants me glimpses of how God must see me. Sometimes, he is bouncing all over the place and struggles to settle down, even after food, play and his basic needs have been met. At times, he will settle himself down and rest in the safety of home. There are times though, where redirection and correction are needed to help him find a space of quiet retreat, where he will simply settle in and rest. I know that I am the same. In the early morning, it is easy for me to seek quiet retreat with God, and rest in His presence as I soak in His word. When the days grow long, and I desperately desire to go out and be active and busy, He will correct, redirect and help me to settle into His safety and trust Him to show me what to do next. God is good, and is our refuge and place of hope. May we ever seek Him to protect, direct and show us what is best. 

Our quiet retreat, 

Safety where there’s rest; 

The Lord is our hope, 

As He loves us best. 

Brings calm in the storm, 

The truth in His word; 

Grace in our chaos, 

Love that’s seen and heard. 

He offers us space, 

To rest in His grace; 

And trust in His truth, 

For all of our days. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our safety and shelter, and offer us truth and direction in Your word. Thank You that when we seek You, we find You. Forgive us for not seeking You in our own unrest. Teach us to turn to You for peace, direction and rest, as You lead us best. Show us how to love those around us well, so that Your loving kindness may be made known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and spend time in Your word to learn and rest in You. Amen. 

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

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:5

Confident Hope

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  (Hebrews 11:1, NIV) 

Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. – (Hebrews 11:1, ERV) 

Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen. – (Hebrews 11:1, TPT) 

Everywhere I look, I see the need for hope. Faith in what we cannot yet see, provides hope for better. For many of us in education or impacted by education, hope is much needed. This ongoing space of unknown and unfamiliar territory makes the coming year a bit nerve-wracking. However, when our hope and assurance come from Christ, we can be confident that He will be with us, every step of the way. Though we know not what the coming year will hold, He knows. In hindsight, though the spring quarter of school was nothing like any of us would have hoped or imagined, good still was present in the crazy unknown that we could not see. For our family, it was the addition of a puppy, two seniors who graduated, and a season of navigating much time at home together. God has been good and faithful, reminding us all that He is present, despite how things appear. My faith and hope must be in Him, though I cannot see Him yet, as the evidence of His love, care and provision are ever near. May we all find faith in He who is our hope, despite what we cannot yet see. 

May we rise in faith, 

Holding fast to hope; 

In that yet unseen, 

God’s our safety rope. 

He is the anchor, 

That holds us secure; 

In the great unknown, 

His presence is clear. 

Always He loves us, 

God’s grace is made known; 

As He grows our faith, 

And hope’s made our own. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that faith grows our hope, even in the spaces where we cannot see better or different. Thank You that You are always working and moving on our behalf. Forgive us for our fearfulness when we cannot see different than what we are living in. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Provider and our hope. Show us how to love those around us best, so that all may come to know the hope that is held through faith in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we follow You in faith, and trust You in the unseen. Amen. 

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

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

Seek to Know

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – (Psalm 119:105, NIV) 

By Your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. – (Psalm 119:105, MSG) 

Truth’s shining light guides me in my choices and decisions; the revelation of Your word makes my pathway clear. – (Psalm 119:105, TPT) 

When we are at a loss or do not know what we should do, God is faithful to lead and guide us in the direction that is best. He will reveal His will to light our way as we earnestly seek Him. The more we are intentional to spend time in His word and in prayer, the more readily we are equipped to know and discern His voice and His direction. God is our light in the darkness, and He will show us which way to go, and what is best. We need not fear, even on the darkest days, as He is light, life, hope and help. May we ever be intentional to invest in His word and seek Him in prayer, for He is the lamp for our feet and the light on our path. 

When all that’s ahead, 

Seems dark and unclear; 

Seek and trust the Lord, 

For He’s ever near. 

Near us as the light, 

That lovingly shows; 

What we ought avoid, 

And where we need go. 

God’s word is the lamp, 

That will light the way; 

Let us ever seek, 

His best for each day. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are ever-present and ready to show us the way in which we are meant to go, both in small things and great things. Thank You that You always have our ultimate best in mind. Forgive us for our independent stubbornness that attempts to power through, rather than seek and listen to You. Teach us to trust and seek You in all things. Show us how to love those around us according to Your perfect will. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest time in Your word and in prayer so that we may understand Your will for our lives. Amen. 

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

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. – 1 Chronicles 16:11