Extend Love

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. – (Philippians 2:3-4, HCSB)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too. – (Philippians 2:3-4, ERV)

Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first. – (Philippians 2:3-4, VOICE)

Life cannot just be about ourselves. When we are inwardly focused, we become miserable, and end up spreading our misery to others. However, when we take our eyes off of the mirror and begin looking out the window, we see those around us and recognize ways that we have been designed to reach out and to love. This is true in our household, neighborhood, communities, and beyond. When we care about the lives of those around us, our love seems to multiply and joy is discovered in the little things. A simple example of this being applied at home is the way that time yesterday was spent. If I had my way (my own selfish agenda), the day would have been spent taking off and exploring and being outdoors. That being said, my husband had just returned from being out of town all week, and there were things around the house that desperately needed to be done. His military background creates a need in him to have order. My artist brain does not mind a bit of clutter, as long as things are cleanish. The decision to spend several hours cleaning and organizing and purging, was an act of love that spoke clearly to my husband’s “acts of service” love tank. Incredibly, as I saw the appreciation on his face and the peace that settled in his countenance, I was blessed as well. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to look for ways to love and care for those around us. 

When we take the time,

To pause, look around;

Places to reach out,

Are easily found.

An arm to extend,

Encouraging words;

Help we can offer,

Make the Lord’s love heard.

Instead of just self,

Look out for others;

Find God’s way to love,

And bless each other.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be “otherly”. Thank You that You showed us what it is to look like through Jesus. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to do the good that we were designed to do because we were too busy worrying about ourselves. Teach us to look around and to love one another as You intended. Show us how to love in practical and tangible ways, for it is in the simple and everyday acts of love that we can clearly see Your heart. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in Your love to be extended to those around us in the same way that You so lavishly give unto us. Amen.

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

And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works. – Hebrews 10:24

Dependent for Peace

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You. – (Isaiah 26:3, HCSB)

God, You give true peace to people who depend on You, to those who trust in You. – (Isaiah 26:3, ERV)

You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You. – (Isaiah 26:3, VOICE)

Early mornings are my favorite time of the day. The world is still sleeping and the house is silent. My mind and heart have intentional time to focus on He who is our peace, and I am typically flanked by two sweet sleeping puppies. In the same way that they trust me to provide for them and keep them safe, we too need to trust in God. It is in the space of trusting Him that we understand His peace, regardless of what goes on around us. By starting each day in the silent stillness with God, my heart is filled and equipped to navigate the day. May we ever keep our minds dependent on God, for it is in trusting and depending on Him that we know His perfect peace.

There is perfect peace,

That we all may know;

It’s found in Jesus,

Where His love is shown.

As we choose seek Him,

Surely we shall find;

His loving kindness,

That gives peace of mind.

So, choose to trust Him,

He’s faithful and true;

His grace abundant,

As He leads us through.

Throughout each new day,

He will remain near;

And give us His peace,

And make our paths clear.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are where we find peace as we trust and depend on You. Thank You for quiet spaces to seek You. Forgive us for taking our eyes off of You, as peace is disrupted when we depend on anything other than You. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we can share Your goodness, grace and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to be our perfect peace. Amen.

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

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Ever Near

I keep the Lord in mind always. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. – (Psalm 16:9, HCSB)

I always remember that the Lord is with me. He is here, close by my side, so nothing can defeat me. – (Psalm 16:9, ERV)

He is ever present with me; at all times He goes before me. I will not live in fear or abandon my calling because He stands at my right hand. – (Psalm 16:9, VOICE)

This is the goal for sure, to keep the Lord in mind always and to remember that He is ever present with us wherever we go and whatever we do. Whatever He calls us to, He will see us through. It does not mean that it will be easy, but it will always be worthwhile. Whether we have known Jesus the majority of our lives or for a short while, it is good to be reminded of how very near He is. When we are aware of His presence, fear flees and we find we are equipped and empowered to move forward into all that He is asking. May we ever seek the Lord and be intentional to spend time with Him, as it is through our drawing near that we are reminded that the Lord is but a heartbeat away.

O Lord, You are good,

Chasing sunsets on Oahu.<3

Ever near to me;

My help and my hope,

For eternity.

As close as my hand,

You stay by my side;

Your nearness is clear,

As I choose abide.

Remind us, O God,

Of Your strength and grace;

How present You are,

When we seek Your face.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always with us and ever ready to help us and strengthen us so that we can press on. Thank You that we need not fear because You are with us. Forgive us for losing sight of Your nearness. Teach us to trust in Your goodness and grace that is ever with us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your nearness tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are ever aware of Your nearness. Amen.

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

The Lord is near to all who call out to Him, all who call out to Him with integrity. – Psalm 145:18

Ask Accordingly

Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. – (1 John 5:14, HCSB)

We can come to God with no doubts. This means that when we ask God for things (and those things agree with what God wants for us), God cares about what we say. – (1 John 5:14, ERV)

We live in the bold confidence that God hears our voices when we ask for things that fit His plan. – (1 John 5:14, VOICE)

I appreciate that there are qualifiers to being heard when we ask. Jesus is not our fairy godmother nor some genie in a lamp. The same God who created the entire universe and all its inhabitants, is near enough to hear our prayers. He hears us as we ask according to His will, not our own. Often, our biggest blessings are seemingly unanswered prayers, as His plan is so much better. We think we know what we want and need, but God knows beyond our immediate circumstances. He sees the entire outcome and longs to bless, strengthen and guide us for all of our days, not just the days that we realize our need for His help. If things are good, we ought to praise Him. When things are challenging, we are meant to ask for His help, guidance and strength. God is faithful to hear us, and is loving and kind in how He answers. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways, higher than our own. May we ever seek the Lord with confidence, as we ask according to His good and perfect will.

Let’s ask of the Lord,

Sweet Tali girl asking to play. ❤

What is right and true;

Aligned with His will,

For in Him, things move.

When we ask the Lord,

To come in and change;

We must allow Him,

Full and complete reign.

This means we listen,

And choose to obey;

That which He asks us,

Do all things His way.

It isn’t easy,

But always it’s best;

He give what we need,

Be it strength or rest.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You and pray to You, and You hear our prayers. Thank You that You answer according to Your good and perfect will, not our whims or wish lists. Thank You that Your ways are always best, even when we cannot begin to understand how. Forgive us for the times that we have sought You with wishes instead of heartfelt prayers. Teach us to invest time in Your word and in prayer so that we know Your voice and understand how to ask according to Your will rather than our own. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your goodness and kindness tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and ask of You according to Your will. Amen.

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

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7

Ongoing Transformation

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 1:6, HCSB)

I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world. – (Philippians 1:6, VOICE)

 This verse is such a wonderful reminder that we are ALL a work in progress. Not one of us has “arrived”; we all can continue to be transformed more and more by the goodness of God and His unending grace, if only we are willing to seek and trust in Him. The process is different for everyone, and what we see is not the whole story. We all have challenges and triumphs, detours and direct routes as we navigate this life with the intent to grow more like Jesus. I love that the Lord will not stop in the middle, but rather will continue to work in us and through us as we depend on Him. Though I am certain I have passed the midpoint in this life, I am well aware of the work that still needs to be done. There is always more to learn, and always more patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and more to gain. It is only through looking back that we can see how far we have come. For some, change is subtle, as the external has mostly always been a pleasant demeanor, however, the work in the heart is what transforms the mind to think and respond in love in all circumstances. May we ever seek the Lord to grow us more in His love, and recognize that we are all a work in progress and in desperate need of His love and grace.

Confidently trust,

The work is not done;

A lifelong process,

As we seek the Son.

Each day we choose Him,

His love is our guide;

To give as He gives,

With arms open wide.

Lead us in Your love,

To care as You do;

Let Your goodness show,

As we follow You.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are all a work in progress and that Your work in us will not stop until the day that we see You face-to-face. Thank You that none of us “arrive” and are somehow without room to grow. Forgive us for our expectations and frustrations with others, for You are working in and through all of us. Teach us to trust in You in all things, for growth happens as we seek You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we encourage one another to grow more like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to keep transforming our hearts and minds to more clearly reflect Your goodness and love throughout each day that we draw breath. Amen.

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

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

Hearts to Love and Endure

May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance. – (2 Thessalonians 3:5, HCSB)

We pray that the Lord will cause you to feel God’s love and remember Christ’s patient endurance. – (2 Thessalonians 3:5, ERV)

May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God’s love and Christ’s endurance. – (2 Thessalonians 3:5, MSG)

In such tumultuous times, my prayer is that God’s love and Christ’s endurance would be made evident to all. The challenge for many of us is that we love people deeply who are on both sides of the political divide that seems to be growing in our nation. If we are truly loving God and loving people, we can disagree on issues and still care deeply for one another. God gave us each a brain, a heart and His Spirit to listen and learn for ourselves to what is right. Life circumstances and upbringing are often deciding factors in how we determine what is good and right. That being said, Jesus was friends with those whom many determined were not worthy of His time or attention. His choice to love is the model that we are meant to live by. May we ever be intentional to seek the Lord to lead us in love, and may our hearts be open to all, no matter what their beliefs. May we have endurance to continue to love, even when dissension around us makes us want to hide away. Lord, lead us in Your love, always.

O Lord, be the light,

That leads us in love;

For one another,

Like You, God, above.

Without conditions,

Choose love anyway;

People are people,

May love lead our way.

Let God’s kindness reign,

In all that we do;

Compassion and grace,

Are what show love’s true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us without limits or conditions. Thank You that in our brokenness and sinfulness, You love. Forgive us for every word and deed that does not display Your love. Grant us Your love and endurance to care for those around us well. Show us how to love one another, even when we do not see eye to eye on what is going on around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to give us endurance to love as You call us to love. Amen.

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

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the Lord’s unfailing love. – Psalm 33:5

Life When All Seems Lost

When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and told Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!” – (John 11:32, HCSB)

May went to the place where Jesus was. When she saw Him, she bowed at His feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” – (John 11:32, ERV)

Mary approached Jesus, saw Him, and fell at His feet. “Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would still be alive.” – (John 11:32, VOICE)

There is so much to the story of Lazarus. Though he was the one that Jesus raised from four-days dead, his sister, Mary, was also a key player in the miracle that Jesus provided for people whom He loved. In her grief, Mary spoke to Jesus, acknowledging the power He held in preventing death, and honestly shared her frustration and sorrow that He had not arrived four days sooner. It was not an accusation nor placement of blame, but rather a statement of faith in her sadness. She knew that had Jesus been present, He would have healed her brother. Jesus, full of compassion for His dear friends, wept, and then asked them to take Him to the tomb where Lazarus was laid. Once there, He asked that the stone be rolled away, and then He called out to God to bring Lazarus forth from the grave. Lazarus, still wrapped in grave clothes, walked out of the tomb. For Mary, this miracle went even further beyond her hope of what Jesus could do. Despite witnessing the power of God to raise a man from being four-days in the grave, faith again would be blinded by grief a short time later when Jesus Himself was crucified, died and was buried in a tomb. I wonder if Mary held hope that Jesus might do for Himself what He had done for Lazarus? Incredibly, she was one of the women to whom Jesus appeared after He had risen. Imagine her faith and determination when Jesus told her to go and let the others know. For me, this is a reminder that no matter how far gone things seem to be, God can bring life back to hopes, dreams, promises, and more. He can do immeasurably more than we could hope or imagine. Mary wished that Jesus had been there sooner, yet He still did the impossible. We may hope for answers or direction sooner, yet God can do so much more in His time. May we ever seek the Lord in faith, trusting that He has compassion for us and will move in ways that are even better than we could hope or imagine as we wait and trust in Him.

In disappointment,

And times of sorrow;

We forget who holds,

All our tomorrows.

The very same God,

Who raised up the dead;

Can still move mountains,

Lifter of our heads.

He can restore hope,

Where all seems but lost;

Restore life to dreams,

We thought had been squashed.

Sometimes the answer,

Is not what we’d choose;

Yet there’s always more,

For His love renews.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You restore life into hopes and dreams, even when we think that they are long dead. Thank You that You can do immeasurably more than we could hope or imagine. Forgive us for our faltering faith when things seem hopeless. Teach us to trust in You in all things and at all times, believing that You can do more than we could hope or imagine. Show us how to love those around us in ways that give life and hope and help where all seemed to be lost. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call on You in faith to be our help and hope, and to bring life to that which seems lost. Amen.

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

I rise before dawn and cry out for help; I put my hope in Your word. – Psalm 119:147

Rest for the Weary

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – (Matthew 11:28, HCSB)

Come to Me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest. – (Matthew 11:28, ERV)

Are you having a real struggle? Come to Me! Are you carrying a big load on your back? Come to Me – I’ll give you a rest! – (Matthew 11:28, NTE)

This morning, despite being a day off, I was up at the usual time. However, knowing that I do not have to work today brings a different sort of rest. The ability to have a leisurely morning doing devotions with a second cup of coffee, followed by a long walk with the pups, provides rest for my soul. Rest looks different for everyone, yet God knows what we need. When we seek Him and hand Him the weight of our burdens, He gives us rest – body, heart, soul and mind. May we all seek the Lord to lay down our burdens this long weekend, and allow Him to show us His perfect rest.

All who are weary,

We are not alone;

To God up above,

Our burdens are known.

He walks beside us,

And shoulders the weight;

He renews our strength,

His love’s never late.

He knows what we need,

In love, He provides;

A space to recharge,

As we choose abide.

Lean into Jesus,

His strength is enough;

To carry the weight,

Of our heavy stuff.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You in our weariness and find Your rest. Thank You that You lovingly walk beside us and carry the weight that we cannot. Forgive us for not slowing down with intention to seek You in our spaces of need. Teach us to come to You to be our strength, rest and resolve in all things and at all times. Show us how to love and bless those around us in ways that bring rest to weary spaces. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You in our weariness and find true rest in the light of Your perfect love. Amen.

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

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us – not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. – Titus 3:4-5

Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. – (James 1:19, HCSB)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

Again, we stand at a crossroads. A friend posted something that truly made me cringe at the brutal honesty of it: the only significant change that we have made since Sandy Hook is that we now have active shooter drills. This hit hard. I cannot begin to pretend to know the answer, but I do know that we must be more willing to listen to potential solutions that do not include: run, hide, fight, kid, and good luck. As an educator, I have seen a significant increase in the depth of kids’ struggles. Health, safety and belonging are at an all-time low. There are many talking heads that get angered at the mere suggestion of changes that might actually help. We must start listening far more than we speak, and set anger aside so that we can come together, hear each other, and seek to bring change that makes a difference. O God help us, for we all need to listen with intention.

Dear Jesus, please come,

Show us what to do;

Protect our children,

May purpose be true.

Lead us and guide us,

To bring needed change;

Make schools a safe place,

Of peaceful exchange.

Help fears dissipate,

Let answers be found;

To protect each child,

Keep hearts and minds sound.

Lead us in Your love,

To listen and learn;

Please safeguard our schools,

As to You, we turn.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You instruct us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Jesus, we need Your help to do these things to bring true change that lasts. Forgive us for allowing politics and sides of the aisle to distract us from how to find solutions that keep our kids safe. Show us how to hear one another, and to be slow to speak with purpose, keeping anger in check so that hearts can be heard. Lead us to love well, as students and staff alike will be shaken at the news. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, for in You we come to know peace, safety, comfort and care. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom to listen and pursue true change to keep our babies safe. Amen.

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

But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. It is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help people who have trouble and do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. – James 3:17

To Look for Ways to Love

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. – (Romans 12:10, HCSB)

Love each other in a way that makes you feel close like brothers and sisters. And give each other more honor than you give yourself. – (Romans 12:10, ERV)

Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first. – (Romans 12:10, VOICE)

If we live and love like brothers and sisters, we look out for one another, take care of each other, and extend help where it is needed. Honoring and prioritizing others is to take our eyes off the mirror and look out the window. We must look to actually see how to love, honor and treat others with respect in a way that is a blessing. Something that I have learned is that if I look for ways to bless, honor and show love to those around me, I end up feeling blessed just knowing that a simple gesture encouraged or lifted another up. Yesterday was a rough Monday. Kids were off, and the pollen was pulsating through my sinus cavity. Thankfully, a long, hilly, sunny dog walk after a less than stellar school day set my heart back in the right space to look outward rather than within. This morning, God has granted fresh resolve, and has again given me the reminder to look for ways to love. It looks different for everyone, yet acts of kindness are always good for morale. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to love as He intended, and may we be willing to follow His heart with our every word and deed.

Choose love each other,

Like true family;

With care and kindness,

Protect and seek see.

Look for the spaces,

Depleted or down;

Encourage, extend,

Let kindness be found.

For we are all called,

Sisters and brothers;

To choose to love well,

Care for each other.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love and honor each other like family. Thank You that Jesus showed us what that can look like as He loved, served, helped and gave hope to those who were lacking. Forgive us for the times that we withdraw and cannot see past our own circumstances. Teach us to look up and out, so that we may find ways to bless, encourage and build others up, as we honor each other in love. Lead us to see and act upon spaces that we can bless and encourage those around us. Show us how to love those we encounter throughout our day in ways that make Your heart known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love those around us as family, and to honor each as You do. Amen.

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

This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. – John 15:12