Love Each Other

“I give to you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” – (John 13:34, HCSB)

“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I loved you.” – (John 13:34, ERV)

“So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways.” – (John 13:34, VOICE)

In Finland, Valentine’s Day is Friends Day. I appreciate that, as people make the day too much about romantic love and not enough about simply loving one another well. Today, it is my hope to love everyone well. Of course my spouse is my true love, but there is much to celebrate about the love I have for my family and friends. God commands it and has shown us again and again how to love, so it ought to be a priority to work on loving well. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to love each person we encounter as He loves them. 

Lord, help us love well,

Today and always;

Lead us and guide us,

Throughout all our days.

Show us the places,

That are lacking love;

Make our hearts tender,

To love as You love.

May this be a day,

That love is displayed;

Through kindness and grace,

And Your loving ways.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You command us to love one another. Thank You that this is not something that we are expected to do on our own, but rather You fill and equip us to love others as You love each of us. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to love. Show us how to love as You do in all situations and circumstances. Lead us to love those around us in ways that make Your heart known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and love one another as You created us to do. Amen.

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

Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. – Psalm 63:3

Love Takes Its Place

For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. – (1 Peter 2:15, HCSB)

When you do good, you stop the ignorant people from saying foolish things about you. This is what God wants. – (1 Peter 2:15, ERV)

You see, it is God’s will that by doing what is right and good you should hush the gabbing ignorance of the foolish. – (1 Peter 2:15, VOICE)

We are all called to love God and love people. If we live a life of love, we will choose to do good as often as possible. As we do, our heart is made known and our character is established as one who seeks to do good. Often, a mere motion of kindness can disrupt an act of foolishness. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to do good and silence the chatter of foolishness spoken in ignorance. Teach us to delight in You and Your will, for consistent words and deeds speak volumes about a person’s character.

Lord, lead us to live,

As You’ve called us to;

A life full of love,

That’s pleasing to You.

For as we love well,

Give kindness and grace;

Foolish are silenced,

And love takes its place.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love and do good. Thank You that as we do, foolish and ignorant words and actions are silenced. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to do the good that You’ve called us to. Teach us to turn to You for strength and courage to do good, in spite of what we want to do. Lead us 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 lead to love and do good as we were created to do. 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

Extend Love

God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them. – (Hebrews 6:10, NIV)

God is fair, and He will remember all the work you have done. He will remember that you showed your love to Him by helping His people and that you continue to help them. – (Hebrews 6:10, ERV)

For God, the Faithful One, is not unfair. How can He forget the beautiful work you have done for Him? He remembers the love you demonstrate as you continually serve His beloved ones for the glory of His Name. – (Hebrews 6:10, TPT)

We are called to love God and love people. God, in His great love, remembers the love, kindness and help that we extend to those around us. When we love people well, it is an extension of our love for Him. Throughout this entire pandemic, there has not been a lack of need for help. Help can be expressed in the form of reaching out to a neighbor in need, checking in on those who are isolated, and extending patience and kindness to all. We know not the story that those around us are walking in. If we choose to meet each person we encounter with kindness and grace, we are loving as we have been called to love. God sees and knows our heart and is willing to make it more like His. Our charge is to seek and depend on Him, for it is in that space of reliance that we are transformed to love, help and extend grace in the same way that He does for us. May we ever pursue the heart of God to love those around us well, for He sees and remembers a heart that is faithful to love.

The God of justice,

He sees and is pleased;

When we extend love,

Perpetuate peace.

Kindness and goodness,

With love and God’s grace;

A faithful service,

To walk in His ways.

So, rise up in love,

In all of our ways;

Let the Lord’s love lead,

Throughout each new day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God who sees and knows our hearts. Thank You that You are willing to transform us to more clearly reflect You if only we walk in Your ways and do Your will. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to live and love as You intended. Teach us to see the need around us and to act on it. Show us how to love in practical and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to love, help and extend grace to all those around us. Amen.

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

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

The Power of Words

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. – (Proverbs 16:24, NIV)

Kind words are like honey; they are easy to accept and good for your health. – (Proverbs 16:24, ERV)

Gracious speech is like clover honey – good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body. – (Proverbs 16:24, MSG)

Nothing is more appealing than speaking beautiful, life-giving words. For they release sweetness to our souls and inner healing to our spirits. – (Proverbs 16:24, TPT)

The power held in the words we speak is incredible. When we speak with kindness and grace, souls can be soothed and health improved. As my son continues on his road to healing, it is amazing to hear the strength returning to his voice. Family and dear friends have been in communication with him, and I can hear in his voice the benefit of kind encouraging words spoken or sent to him. For me, I have experienced tremendous kindness and grace from those around me, and I am certain it is one of the ways that God supplies His strength. May we ever speak gracious, kind and life-giving words to those around us, for there is power present when we speak sweet words of life.

Each word that we speak,

Can be used for good;

For grace and kindness,

Blessings understood.

Sweetness to the soul,

Goodness for the health;

A gift of kind words,

Give love that is felt.

May we mind our words,

Deliver them well;

The good that they bring,

Space of peace to dwell.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift and power present in the words we speak. Thank You that when we communicate with goodness and grace, You bless the hearer beyond what we realize. Forgive us for the times that we have not used our words well. Teach us to ever communicate in ways that extend Your goodness and kindness. Show us how to love those around us with encouraging, life-giving words. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to speak life to all. 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

Waiting Seasons

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. – (2 Peter 3:9, NIV) 

The Lord is not being slow in doing what He promised – the way some people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning. – (2 Peter 3:9, ERV) 

Now the Lord is not slow about enacting His promise – slow is how some people want to characterize it – no, He is not slow but patient and merciful to you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following His own path and to turn toward God’s. – (2 Peter 3:9, VOICE) 

It seems that naturally, humans are not terribly patient creatures. Of course, there are exceptions, but for the most part, we struggle to wait longer than we think we should. This whole COVID situation makes it abundantly clear how impatient we really are. Being shut down for several months, not only as a city, state or nation, but nearly the entire world, has caused a restlessness in so many of us. That being said, it seems that for many, it has been a season of awakening; a time to read, reflect, and gain fresh perspective on the ills that have existed for far too long. Also, it has been a forced space of trust, as those of us who have loved ones in senior living communities, have not be allowed to go and visit and spend time with one another. Despite the frustration, He has been merciful and faithful to care for each. Additionally, this time in history has provided room for churches to love their communities well. It has always been God’s intention, and we are seeing this in action at a greater capacity than ever before. For those who have seized the opportunity to lean into God, He has been refining and realigning hearts and minds. God is ever faithful to prepare our hearts to be more like His, so that we will be living and loving well when we at last see Him, face to face. May we turn to God in this season of seeming slowness, and recognize the opportunity that this time is providing to learn better how to live and love as we are called to do. 

The Lord is not slow, 

How He would like us to trust in the waiting…<3

In keeping His word; 

But rather, He waits, 

‘til lessons are learned. 

God gives us the time, 

To seek and embrace; 

His great heart of love, 

With kindness and grace. 

Let us keep seeking, 

Pursuing His best; 

Embracing each change, 

Instead of unrest. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are not slow, but rather extending patience so that we may seek and know, learn and grow, being ever refined to walk in Your ways. Thank You that You are faithful to meet us wherever we are as we seek You, and You change us from the inside out. Forgive us for our lack of patience in seasons of waiting; for You use each one to grow and change us to better reflect Your heart to the world, if only we are willing to put in the work. Teach us to press in when seasons of waiting seem long, as You are forever faithful and kind. Show us how to love those around us best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek and trust You in waiting seasons, because You have a plan and a purpose for all. 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

Zoom into Peace

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. – (Philippians 4:6, NIV)

Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. – (Philippians 4:6, ERV)

Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell Him every detail of your life. – (Philippians 4:6, TPT)

 

Today will be the first official day of remote learning. The first day of instructing online; the first day of posting parent instructional videos; and the first opportunity to see the faces and hear the voices of my students on Zoom. I would be lying if I said I have not been a bit anxious the last few weeks, as we have been unpacking and preparing to go “live”. Learning an entirely new way of instructing and how to organize and upload and post everything, for three different preps has stretched and challenged me beyond what I thought I could handle. With much prayer and the blessed provision of professional learning communities, I think that I am ready to launch. As I was finishing up my final video posts for parents last evening, I checked my school email. To my surprise, there was a wonderful message from one of my Language Arts and Social Studies students, letting me know how excited he is to get started with remote learning today! He filled me in on a bit of what he has been doing under his mom’s tutelage, and informed me that he was pretty much an expert on Zoom, having watched his mom participate in countless meetings over the past several weeks. I imagine that you too, can understand the power held in the encouraging words of my 6th grade student. All of the struggles over the past several weeks to navigate this new learning, suddenly did not matter. Knowing that at least one student is eager and ready to get started, makes it all worthwhile. It is easy to forget that we are often God’s hands or His voice to soothe anxiety and bring calm to those around us. He utilizes His people to make His heart tangible so that we may know His peace. Prayers are often answered through the people He provides, and one of those for me was a simple email from a sixth grader. Yes, I am still a bit nervous about today, but it is a first-day-of-school, can’t-wait-to-meet-them, sort of feeling. These are my kids whom I have not seen in more than a month. Today, I get to begin to reconnect and see and hear them for myself. More than an email – live voices and smiling faces. It will be good, and I am glad. May anxiety melt away as we lift our concerns to God. He hears and He cares, and He is the perfecter of our peace.

 

Choose lift to the Lord,

wp-15873874626506608854301600302106.jpg

Classroom vs. Virtual Room Preparations…

Each anxiety;

For He hears and cares,

Is near and ready.

He brings us His peace,

Most generously;

His kindness and grace,

Sets anxiousness free.

Come before the Lord,

Seek His help and grace;

His goodness and strength,

He’ll fill up our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us with an everlasting love. Thank You that Your goodness and grace wash away our anxiousness when we bring our concerns before You. Thank You that You utilize people to make Your heart tangible. Forgive us for allowing our anxiousness to overwhelm us, rather than slowing down and setting all at Your feet. Teach us to trust You more, as You provide all that we need to navigate every new circumstance and situation when we rely on You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we might be the encouragement, strength, or peace that is needed to ease away anxiousness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and praise You for Your care and concern for us, individually, and the peace that is provided through Your incredible love. Amen.

 

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

 

Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace. – Psalm 37:37

Live “Otherly”

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, NIV)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, ERV) 

Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, TPT)

 

If this were truly the standard that people were following, I do not think that we would have empty store shelves and discover shortages of basic necessities. Before all of this COVID-19 craziness hit, stores were seldom out of the items that people needed on their typical grocery list. Now, however, grocery shopping online is not even an option, as such a large portion of one’s list is unable to be filled. Thankfully, we are well, and have all that we need. Being an early riser is helpful in more ways than one. That said, it matters how we conduct ourselves as we venture out to find what we need for our families. We must only take what is needed, so that others too may have what they require for their families. Also, how we treat these essential employees matters. Yesterday morning after I ran, I made a quick stop at Rite Aid to purchase Vitamin C for my family. The store was quiet, and the sweet cashier looked uncertain as she made her way to the register as I approached. We engaged in friendly conversation, and before I left, she was expressing her gratitude for my kindness. I had not done anything unusual, I simply was polite and respectful, and let her know that I appreciated her hard work, as it is likely a challenge right now in the midst of these circumstances. She informed me that she had been yelled at multiple times, for things that were completely beyond her control. I imagine I had a look of shock and horror on my face as she told her story, that I followed with an understanding apology for the ugly that comes out of humanity when fear enters in. Though our exchange was brief, I am further reminded of just how important it is to prefer others and make sure they know that they are valued and appreciated. This passage in Philippians is written to the church in Philippi, yet it can be applied to all of us and how we treat one another. It is amazing to see the shift in people as they are the recipients of being a priority and treated with respect and dignity. May we all seek the Lord to show us how to steer clear of selfishness and pride, and how best to honor and prefer others around us, above ourselves.

 

Let not our motives, Ambassadors of Love

Be driven by pride;

Lay down selfishness,

Seek the Lord to guide.

For He will show us,

How to choose to serve;

Prefer each other,

Help each see their worth.

Choose live “otherly”,

With kindness and grace;

Look for ways to bless,

As we live each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to live life this way through Your Son. There was no selfish ambition nor pride within Him, and He walked out His days humbly and sought to serve. Forgive us for the times that pride or selfishness get in the way of who You want us to be. Teach us to trust and rely on You to lead and guide us in all that we say and do. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we prefer one another and extend kindness and grace in humility, without selfishness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lay down our selfishness and own ideas of how things ought to be, and look for opportunities to prefer others by extending kindness and care in tangible ways. Amen.

 

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

 

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

Thankful for Blessings

Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind. – (Psalm 107:8, NIV)

Thank the Lord for His faithful love and for the amazing things He does for people. – (Psalm 107:8, ERV)

So lift your hands and thank God for His marvelous kindness and for all His miracles of mercy for those He loves. – (Psalm 107:8, TPT)

 

Whenever the verse of the day comes from the Psalms, I seldom read just the one in which the verse is found. The raw and real that reads like poetry, speak clearly to my heart. As I somehow found myself in Psalm 107, after having begun in 97, I discovered that the words written in verse eight, are repeated three more times in the same Psalm. Any time there is repetition in scripture, it is a clear indicator to pay attention and take note. I appreciate how each of the various translations unpack a slightly different aspect of the truth of God and why we ought to give Him thanks. Unfailing love, wonderful deeds for mankind, faithful love, amazing things for people, marvelous kindness, and miracles of mercy for those He loves, are the specific reasons to give thanks to the Lord, all found in one verse that is repeated three times in a single chapter. Personally, it would take little time to fill an entire page with examples of God’s faithful love and the amazing things that He does for people. I have been both the recipient and an observer, and am equally blessed in knowing the powerful love that fuels such wonderful deeds for humankind. May we ever give thanks to God, for He is faithful and loving and His willingness to extend His marvelous kindness and miracles of mercy to those He loves, never ends.

Yesterday marked the one-week countdown for Mom, before she moves into her next leg of her healing journey. There has been much prayer, preparation and discussion to reach this step of her path, so all encouragement is wonderful and welcome. As with anything new, there are concerns and hesitation; primarily due to change. The struggle comes when those on the outside begin to question decisions that were made with confident faith in Christ, and the determination and resolve begin to waver. For Mom and the immediate family, loving support and encouragement will be the most helpful as the new comes into fruition. Thank you in advance, for all who have been and continue to pray, for we anticipate amazing things in the coming weeks and months! God’s marvelous kindness and miracles of mercy have been present every step of the way so far, and we look forward with faith, to all of the blessings He has in store for Mom that are yet to come.

 

May we choose give thanks, Pleased with Good Plans

To You, Lord above;

For wonderful deeds,

You’ve done in Your love.

For kindness and grace,

We give You thanks too;

With all that we are,

We lift praise to You.

For great miracles,

That make Your heart known;

Thankfulness we bring,

For blessings You’ve shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithful love that extends kindness and mercy, goodness and grace, for all of our days. Thank You that Your love for us is greater than our hearts can even begin to comprehend. Forgive us for doubting Your care, concern or nearness when times are trying. Teach us to trust that You are present and moving on our behalf, even when we cannot see what You are doing. Show us how to love those around us through every season and struggle that we walk through. Let Your kindness be evident in us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithful love and incredible blessings, as You move in our lives and on our behalf. 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

Life by Love Defined

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – (Ephesians 4:2, NIV)

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient and accept each other with love. – (Ephesians 4:2, ERV)

With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous love toward one another, especially those who may try your patience. – (Ephesians 4:2, TPT)

 

These are words to live by, yet among the most challenging. The Passions Translation is particularly profound, as the “especially those who may try your patience” portion is the reality that confronts and challenges me most. As a middle school teacher, this is not difficult to find, and daily, I am afforded countless opportunities to put this into practice. Some days are more successful than others. Thankfully, I have a calm demeanor, so even when my patience is pushed past where it belongs, the momentary lack of love that I feel is not nearly as evident as it could be. That being said, I need Jesus every minute of every day to be humble and gentle, patient and loving, especially with those who try my patience. On my own, my inner thoughts would spew out in ugliness, rather than the still small voice within, that reminds me to breathe, and that kids need kindness and grace. May we seek the Lord and His goodness, so that we may be equipped to live humbly and gently, patiently accepting one another in love.

 

For we are all called, Life by Love Defined

Be humble and kind;

Extend others grace,

Life by love defined.

We must have patience,

That’s fueled by love;

The will to proceed,

Like the Lord above.

For what is our life,

If not led by love?

Our purpose is plain,

Forever choose love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love one another as You first loved us. Thank You that You give us specific instructions as to how to love well. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked humility or kindness, patience or acceptance through love. Teach us to trust and depend on You to love as You call us to love. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend patience and kindness, gentleness and acceptance. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to equip us to love as we were designed to love. Amen.

 

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

 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34

Forget Not the Blessings

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy Name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits. – (Psalm 103:1-2, NIV)

My soul, praise the Lord! Every part of me, praise His holy Name! My soul, praise the Lord and never forget and kind He is! – (Psalm 103:1-2, ERV)

O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless His holy Name! O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing! – (Psalm 103:1-2, MSG)

 

David so often has exactly the right words to express my heart in each season. This morning, I find my heart fixed on praise, as I prepare to spend six days and five nights with my Mom in Oregon. His kindness has afforded me the exact job to allow for the time off in just the right season, so that I am able to go and be with her. Additionally, He directed the steps between my sister and myself, so that we could coordinate timing best, minimizing time missed coaching, and maximizing quality vacation time for she and her family. Another blessing included in this time, is that my husband and boys will come for the weekend to celebrate Christmas together with Mom. Our tradition of family Christmas all together is being sustained, despite the different locale. God is so kind, and from head to toe I cannot help but praise Him. He loves with kindness and grace, and repeatedly shows us His goodness and love. May we ever remember the kindness of God and bless His holy Name.

As for Mom, she is continuing with her out-patient therapies. I am eager to be the one to take her to her appointments and see the progress she is making, and witness the work that they have her do to further regain strength and mobility. She is looking forward to our visit, as we have not had so many days in a row together since summer. I know she is eager to see her grandsons too. It will be a wonderful time of togetherness, and we are all praising God for the opportunity to gather.

 

My soul, praise the Lord,

wp-15774571633726473009708799146364.jpg

Christmas together 2018, looking forward to 2019 memories this weekend.

With all my being;

I thank You, O God,

For countless blessings.

In space of despair,

Always God, You hear;

You comfort and bless,

As You choose draw near.

Your grace overwhelms,

Your goodness exceeds;

You bless us beyond,

What we merely need.

Your kindness unmatched,

As well as Your grace;

May we ever choose,

Lift to You all praise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the way that You love us so well. Thank You that You meet us where we are, and love us with kindness and grace, blessings and benefits beyond what we could ever imagine. Thank You that You are a good, good Father. Forgive us for not always giving You the praise that is due. Teach us to recognize the blessings that You bestow upon us, and flood our entire beings with praise for You, as You are the giver of light and life, hope and love. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may extend the same sort of blessings to others that You so lavishly pour out upon us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lift all thanks and praise unto You, and remember the incredible kindness and blessings that You bestow upon us all. 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