Extraordinary Through the Ordinary

And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” – (Luke 1:28, HCSB)

The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord is with you; you are very special to Him.” – (Luke 1:28, ERV)

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Rejoice, beloved young woman, for the Lord is with you and you are anointed with great favor.” – (Luke 1:28, TPT)

I imagine this whole experience was a bit surreal to Mary. A visit from a messenger of God, followed by words that called you favored and anointed. She was a young girl, likely in her mid-teens, and engaged to be married. Was she an ordinary girl with extraordinary faith? Or perhaps there was something in her heart of worship that demonstrated her faithful and willing heart that was ready to respond with her very best yes? Either way, of all the women of child-bearing age in the world, God saw and chose her to carry His Son. As we gain further glimpses of her heart through the conception, development in the womb, time of arrival, and throughout the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, her character is revealed as one who is ever faithful to the Lord. She had extraordinary insight into who God is through a seemingly ordinary life. Mary witnessed God in everyday circumstances as she raised Jesus, who was without sin. There were many reasons to rejoice throughout her entire experience, yet there were times of great grief as well. Ultimately, she came to know and understand the plan and purpose of the promised baby that would become the Savior of the world. May we reflect with awe and wonder at the amazing ways that God came near to ordinary people to show us His great love.

Called highly favored,

Chosen to be blessed;

A holy calling,

That might cause a mess.

A virgin promised,

To Joseph to wed;

Yet called to be more,

As the angel said.

God knew the people,

Who’d answer the call;

Despite how things looked,

To one and to all.

Ever He’s faithful,

The Lord God above;

Who sent us His Son,

To show us His love.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do extraordinary things through ordinary people who are willing to say yes to You and the plans You have. Thank You that You sent Your Son through ordinary people with extraordinary faith. Forgive us for our fear and lack of faith when things we know we ought to do seem inconceivable. Teach us to trust You to lead us in all that You have for us, and to trust that Your plans are for good. Show us how to love and honor You in all that we say and do, and help us to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the amazing things You do through ordinary people who trust You well. Amen.

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

Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let this thing you have said happen to me!” Then the angel went away. – Luke 1:38

Grow Our Love

And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment. – (Philippians 1:9, HCSB)

This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love. – (Philippians 1:9, ERV)

I continue to pray for your love to grow and increase beyond measure, bringing you into the rich revelation of spiritual insight in all things. – (Philippians 1:9, TPT)

Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi was full of encouragement. I find this particular verse encouraging this morning, as each new day we have the opportunity for our love to grow so that we might have knowledge and understanding in all things. We all need discernment to love as God loves us. May we ever seek the Lord and pray that He continues to grow us in knowledge and discernment so that we will love well.

The Lord is faithful,

Each time that we seek;

His love and wisdom,

Granted where we’re weak.

Love that increases,

Learns to understand;

Knowledge and insight,

All part of His plan.

Show us, Lord Jesus,

Each morning anew;

To love others well,

May Your heart shine through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our love and understanding is not something that we can grow on our own. Thank You that the more we seek You and know Your heart for us, the greater You grow our capacity to love and understand those around us. Forgive us for our impatience with the process, as our limited understanding can be a barrier to loving well. Teach us to seek You in all things so that we may continue to grow in our understanding, insight, and capacity to love. Show us how to love those around us well, in the same way that You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to ever grow us in our capacity to love like You. Amen.

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

But in speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head – Christ. – Ephesians 4:15

Faithful to Answer

Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know. – (Jeremiah 33:3, HCSB)

Pray to Me, and I will answer you. I will tell you important secrets. You have never heard these things before. – (Jeremiah 33:3, ERV)

Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own. – (Jeremiah 33:3, MSG)

God is faithful to answer when we ask of Him. He hears our prayers and leads and guides us in the ways we are meant to go. Wisdom and insight are things that He provides as we ask. Often, when we listen intently, He reveals to us the things we need to know. May we ever seek our Savior, for He is faithful to meet us where we are and answer as we call on Him.

O Lord, help us seek,

In You all is known;

Whatever the plan,

Your way’s clearly shown.

Reveal unto us,

What we need to know;

Lead us in Your love,

Show us where to go.

For as we seek You,

You’re faithful always;

To lead and guide us,

New insight each day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear us when we call on You and You are faithful to answer and reveal to us the things we need to know. Thank You that You provide all that we need to navigate each new day in You. Forgive us for the times that we forego asking You for insight and muddle our way through the muck. Teach us to trust and rely on You, for You are loving and kind and willing to lead us where we are meant to go. Show us how to love and encourage those around us, as You teach us how to love like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we earnestly seek You and listen intently for all that You have to say to our hearts. Amen.

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

Answer me, Lord, for Your faithful love is good; in keeping with Your great compassion, turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

Be Transformed

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. – (Romans 12:2, HCSB)

Don’t change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to understand and accept what God wants for you. You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to Him and what is perfect. – (Romans 12:2, ERV)

Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in His eyes. – (Romans 12:2, TPT)

We need God to know what is best and then to actually do it. As we seek the Lord and invite Him to transform our minds, He grants us wisdom and insight to know what is good and pleasing to Him, and how to follow His will in every area of our lives. This does not happen overnight, but rather it is a lifelong process. Every day that we seek the Lord with intention, we are transformed a bit more to reflect His heart, love and light to the world. It is impossible to shine for Him if we are imitating what we think the world wants. His loving kindness, goodness and grace flows from those who seek to be authentically who He has made them to be. May we invest our hearts and lives in seeking the Lord, for it is through our seeking that He empowers us to live the beautiful life that He intended.

Lord, protect our hearts,

Show us what is best;

Transform and renew,

And grant us Your rest.

Teach us to seek You,

In all things, always;

So we walk Your way,

Our lives give You praise.

Protect us from lies,

That seem to be true;

Lead us in Your love,

Show us what to do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You lovingly lead us in Your ways, if only we seek and depend on You. Thank You that through our seeking, You transform our hearts and minds to more clearly reflect Your love to the world. Forgive us for allowing the patterns of this world to influence our decisions instead of You. Show us how to continually seek You and Your will in all things and at all times. Lead us to love those around us in ways that make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You to transform us more and more to become who You have created us to be. Amen.

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

Light shines in the darkness for the upright. He is gracious, compassionate, and righteous. – Psalm 112:4

Piecing Together

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)

In the human body there are many parts and organs, each with a unique function. And so it is in the body of Christ. For though we are many, we’ve all been mingled into one body in Christ. This means that we are all vitally joined to one another, with each contributing to the others.

As we prepare to welcome kids back to school in person, a huge focus on the forefront of everyone’s minds is to find ways to make connections and help kids engage and feel safe and welcome in our school and classroom communities. God created us for community. If we were not made to be with others and work together, we would all be experts and self-sufficient. Instead, He gifted us each with unique skills, talents and strengths that we have to offer the community that we are placed within. Just as a school would not work without staff with different strengths, a classroom is no different. Our task and challenge is to find ways to help kids see their unique values and strengths, and help them realize how important they are to the class as a whole. It is my hope and prayer that each student and staff member is able to see the value in others and in themselves, as we rejoin to meet in person after so much time apart. May we seek the Lord to show us ways to both participate and facilitate best in building community together.

Though we are many,

Together we’re one;

United purpose,

As each day’s begun.

Show us the pieces,

And how we each fit;

Together in strength,

Let our hearts be knit.

The unique colors,

Sizes and the shapes;

When fit together,

Each piece has a place.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us for community. Thank You that we have different strengths to offer, and each of us has a place and purpose in the communities to which we are placed. Forgive us for not seeing the beauty and blessing held in each member. Teach us to recognize and encourage the unique blessing found in each individual, and show us how the best way to help the parts work as a whole. Lead us to love and value everyone the way that You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the part that each of us plays in the communities in which we have been placed. Amen.

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

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. – Proverbs 20:5

Unknown Open Doors

“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” – (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV)

“…Pray to Me, and I will answer you. I will tell you important secrets. You have never heard these things before.” – (Jeremiah 33:3, ERV)

“Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” – (Jeremiah 33:3, MSG)

Though this passage is a message that God gave to Jeremiah while he was shackled and guarded in captivity, the message remains true for us, no matter our circumstances. God is the God of all wisdom, understanding and insight. Though Jeremiah and his people were in a dismal situation, God spoke promises of what was yet to come. His plans and purposes for the people did not end in captivity, but rather in being rebuilt and free. In the same way, God has a plan and purpose for us. No matter what we have been through, are going through, or face in the future, God will grant us wisdom and understanding to navigate each step, and to walk forward into the hope He has for us all. May we ever call on the Lord to lead us well, for He is faithful to teach us and reveal to us that which we need to know to keep moving forward into all that is yet to come.

Choose call on the Lord,

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He’s faithful to tell;

The wonderful things,

That help us live well.

God in His wisdom,

Reveals unto us;

Unsearchable things,

He hears our requests.

No matter what is,

In Christ, there is more;

Through love He reveals,

Unknown open doors.

In struggle, seek Him,

In strength, give Him praise;

Pursue His wisdom,

To walk out each day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You reveal new wisdom and insight that grant us hope and equip us for all that comes our way. Forgive us for allowing our present circumstances to limit our faith. Teach us to turn to You and pray, for You are faithful to show us what we need to know to keep moving forward in the direction You have called us. Lead us to love those around us well, so that Your goodness and grace are evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call on You and trust You to give us wisdom and insight as to how to continue in the direction You have called us. Amen.

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

Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. – Jeremiah 29:12

Love Conquers All

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. – (Philippians 1:9-10, NIV) 

This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see the difference between what is important and what is not and choose what is important; that you will be pure and blameless for the coming of Christ. – (Philippians 1:9-10, ERV) 

I continue to pray for your love to grow and increase beyond measure, bringing you into the rich revelation of spiritual insight in all things. This will enable you to choose the most excellent way of all – becoming pure and without offense until the unveiling of Christ. – (Philippians 1:9-10, TPT) 

Right now, this seems to be all that I know to do; pray and love. Between my job that now has me staring at a computer screen for 8-10 hours a day, and a dog, who like me, has to get out and move every single day, I have had to order my days so that they begin with screenless movement. I love deeply, and am struggling watching dear friends on both sides of the political divide blast the other with blanket statements about people who stand in opposition to their own convictions. With everything that is in me, I cannot engage. There is nothing in my entire being that desires to participate in the sort of name-calling that was problematic on an elementary school playground. With love, there would be listening and seeking to understand. I must choose what is important and focus on that which matters most. The only thing that I know to do right now is to pray, and to seek to love well. My hope and prayer is that at the end of the day, love will lead us home. Christ loved the sinners and the saints, the righteous and the unrighteous. He chose love and mercy, kindness and compassion. Yes, there were times that He cleared the temple courts and called out the crooked ways in the self-righteous, yet even so, He loved. From the tax collectors who extorted funds from His people, to the very hands that hung Him on the cross, Christ’s love forgave and offered help and hope and new life to all who were willing to receive. If Christ is our example, how can we choose differently? We must be intentional to choose to love. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in the most excellent way; for love conquers all.  

Lord, help us to love, 

In each circumstance; 

Forgive and be kind, 

So love may advance. 

Let not our theories, 

Opinions, beliefs; 

Keep us from loving, 

Offering relief. 

For what matters most, 

Is how we choose love; 

Mirror God’s own heart, 

Seeking Christ above. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are kind and loving and full of grace. Thank You that You are merciful, and that You call us to live like You. Forgive us for every word and deed that does not demonstrate Your love. Show us how to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love like You. Amen. 

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

The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love. – Psalm 33:5

One Day At A Time

Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.” – (Isaiah 35:4, NIV)

“Courage! Take heart! God is right here, right here, on His way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on His way! He’ll save you!” – (Isaiah 35:4, MSG)

Tell those who worry, the anxious and fearful, “Take strength; have courage! There’s nothing to fear. Look, here – your God! Right here is your God! The balance is shifting; God will right all wrongs. None other than God will give you success. He is coming to make you safe.” – (Isaiah 35:4, VOICE)

 

Right now, life feels surreal. It is as if we are all caught in a bizarre dream, and are merely waiting to wake up. For me, I am a one-day-at-a-time sort of person anyway, so my brain is already wired to not get too hung up on what may lie ahead over the next several weeks. When life is operating as usual, taking things one day at a time allows me to be present and focused on only what lies directly before me. If I permit my mind to wander too far ahead, it only breeds anxiety as to how everything will be accomplished in the time granted. Now, more than ever, I need to remain focused on each day as it comes. Yes, it is wise to prepare and plan in general, but there is no need, nor any point, in attempting to map out details that are too far off to determine. God grants us wisdom and insight as we ask, and He provides what we need to navigate each new day. The Lord is our strength and our strong tower; in Him we are safe and find we have what we need. May we give all of our worries and fears to God, as He comes to put all things right, and saves us with His goodness and love.

 

Take strength, have courage,

balance business cobblestone conceptual

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There’s nothing to fear;

All is in God’s hands,

His presence is near.

Despite what we see,

God will make a way;

Over rough terrain,

He’ll lead us each day.

The wrong things made right,

In His faithful hands;

Safety and our strength,

Firm in Him, choose stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are mighty to save. Thank You that as we seek You, You are our strength, courage and safety. Thank You that You provide where we lack, and Your love leads us in the direction we are meant to go. Forgive us for our fears and anxiety in the face of so many unknowns. Teach us to trust You more, as You are for us and faithful to lead us, always. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may know Your strength and courage, goodness and grace in the midst of uncertainty. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place all things in Your capable hands, and trust You to lead and guide us each day, one day at a time. Amen.

 

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

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. -Proverbs 3:5-6 

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

To Wait and See

Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as You have promised, You may now dismiss Your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:28-32, NIV)

Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God: “Now, Lord, You can let me, Your servant, die in peace as You said. I have seen with my own eyes how You will save Your people. Now all people can see Your plan. He is a light to show Your way to the other nations. And He will bring honor to Your people Israel.” – (Luke 2:28-32, ERV)

Simeon took Jesus into his arms and blessed God. Simeon: Now, Lord and King, You can let me, Your humble servant, die in peace. You promised me that I would see with my own eyes what I’m seeing now: Your freedom, raised up in the presence of all peoples. He is the light who reveals Your message to the other nations, and He is the shining glory of Your covenant people, Israel. – (Luke 2:28-32, VOICE)

 

After closely reading this passage several times in the various translations, I am quite curious to know more of Simeon’s story. Imagine receiving a promise from God that You would see, with your own eyes, the Savior of the world?! Additionally, based on the phrasing, I would venture to infer that Simeon had been holding fast to God’s promise for many years. My mind’s eye pictures a man of many years, as his words indicate that he is in the latter season of his life. One of the most incredible pieces to this story is that Simeon knew who Jesus was as he took Him into his arms to give God thanks. Did God give him divine insight, a word, a dream? Had the Lord foretold Simeon how Jesus’ coming would transpire, so that he would know the child as He was brought to the temple? Whatever the case may have been, Simeon knew, and he spoke it out before Mary and Joseph, granting them further insight into exactly who they would be raising as their son. As parents, there already is awe and wonder at the new life placed in our care. Imagine the whirlwind that likely filled their hearts as Mary and Joseph brought their baby boy to the temple and heard such incredible things about their son. A faith-filled blessing and an elated elderly man were likely the two things that the new parents would never forget about that time in the temple. That baby did grow and become the Light of the world and the way to salvation for all who choose believe. May we have a heart like Simeon as we recognize the powerful presence that came into the world that blessed holy night, so that we may all have life everlasting in Him.

 

Let’s look in wonder, Simeons Story

Reflect back in awe;

What God had promised,

Dear Simeon saw.

A heart that trusted,

What God had foretold;

Gifted the faithful,

In his arms to hold.

The Light of the world,

Promised Prince of Peace;

Messiah, Savior,

Salvation’s release.

What God promises,

Is truth that He keeps;

May we choose to trust,

Each word that He speaks.

Glory to the Lord,

From whom blessings flow;

All thanks unto Him,

As His love light shows.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessed gift of Your Son. Thank You Jesus, that You were willing to step down from Your heavenly throne and come into the world as an infant, so that You would know and understand intimately, the struggles we face; yet do so without sin so that You could offer salvation. Thank You for giving Your life so that we can have life everlasting with You. Forgive us for not making time to dig into Your word or ponder the truth that You speak to our hearts. Teach us to be intentional with our time. Show us how to live and love in a way that extends Your goodness and grace to all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to You and lean into Your word, giving You thanks for Your faithfulness forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8