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

Live a Life of Love

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love… – (Ephesians 5:1-2a, NIV) 

You are God’s dear children, so try to be like Him. Live a life of love. – (Ephesians 5:1-2a, ERV) 

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. – (Ephesians 5:1-2a, MSG) 

Everything we do must be guided by love. We are dearly loved by God, therefore, we must follow His example and love others well. This is not a simple a pick and choose who to love, or when to love, but rather it is meant to be a life of love. All that we think, say and do must be steeped in love. What does that look like? Thankfully, He tells us exactly what it means to love.  

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” -(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) 

May we seek the Lord to lead us and equip us so that we may be patient, kind, rejoicing in the truth, protective, trusting, hopeful, and always persevere. 

Because God is love, 

And we’re loved by Him; 

We likewise should love, 

Welcome people in. 

Into our circles, 

Where love’s always found; 

Grace freely offered, 

And goodness abounds. 

Treat one another, 

With value and grace; 

Choose love each other, 

And follow God’s ways. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You loved us first, and continue to show us again and again, what it is to love. Forgive us for every word, thought, and deed that does not clearly reflect Your love. Teach us to lean into You so that we may reflect Your love to all those whom we encounter. Show us how to love each individual as You do, in practical and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to follow Your example and live a life of love. 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

Together in Peace

So all of you should live together in peace. Try to understand each other. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Be kind and humble. – (1 Peter 3:8, ERV) 

Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. – (1 Peter 3:8, MSG) 

And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. – (1 Peter 3:8, TLB) 

If only the world would follow this directive… The more we seek to understand one another, the greater our love grows for each other. This requires compassion, sympathy, humility, and love. A tender heart with the intent to love, makes friends feel like family, and brings peace to wherever they are present. Being agreeable in this way does not mean that we agree nor align with everything that those around us think or believe, but it does mean that we are willing to listen and learn so that we have compassion to for those who see the world differently than we do. Our charge is not to argue, belittle nor disavow differences, but rather to seek to understand, and above all, love. May we seek the Lord for wisdom and strength, so that we may live together in peace. Show us, Lord, how to be agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate and humble towards one another. 

If we all followed, 

What God has in mind; 

We’d all be humble, 

And choose to be kind. 

The love God gives, 

Would be what is seen; 

True understanding, 

Through pure listening. 

Without agenda, 

But rather to learn; 

So compassion’s shown, 

And in love, we’d turn. 

Turn to each other, 

With love and with grace; 

Helping our neighbors, 

As peace fills this place. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us and tell us what it is to love like You. Forgive us for the horrible ways that we react toward one another, rather than seeking to understand. Show us how to listen, learn, and love like You. Lead us to love those around us in ways that create community and safety and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to be agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate and humble. Amen. 

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

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:14

Promised Presence

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. – (Isaiah 46:4, NIV) 

And I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety. – (Isaiah 46:4, ERV) 

And when you are old, I will still be there, carrying you. When your limbs grow tired, your eyes are weak, and your hair a silvery gray, I will carry you as I always have. I will carry you and save you. – (Isaiah 46:4, VOICE) 

God’s promises are not just for today, but they remain forever. His promise to sustain and carry us is true throughout our entire life. I have known God’s faithfulness to carry and sustain me – from childhood to adulthood, and now as I move ever closer to the white hairs of years flying by. It is good to be reminded of His ongoing faithfulness, especially when in the midst of so much new and uncertain. God’s faithfulness and ability to sustain and carry us is not dependent on our circumstances, nor the status of the world around us. Even on days where what lies before us seems insurmountable, He is faithful to see us through. Today, I am placing all in His hands, and trusting Him to lead, strengthen and carry me through all that awaits. The Lord is good, and He is worthy of our trust. May we choose to seek Him and place all in His hands. 

The Lord is faithful, 

For all of our days; 

From when we are young, 

Today, and always. 

He calms all our fears, 

When we are afraid; 

And grants us His strength, 

When ours goes away. 

He is our safety, 

In uncertainty; 

Our help and our hope, 

To eternity. 

So, trust in the Lord, 

Choose rely on Him; 

He’ll help us press on, 

Even when hope’s dim. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our help and our hope, as You sustain, strengthen, and carry us throughout our whole life. Thank You that Your promises are true in both our youth and into our older years. Forgive us for our frustrations and fears with the things that seem too much. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your faithfulness tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek and depend on You, all the days of our lives. Amen. 

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

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. – Deuteronomy 31:8

The Way We Should Go

This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” – (Isaiah 48:17, NIV) 

The Lord, the Savior, the Holy One of Israel, says, “I am the Lord your God. I teach you for your own good. I lead you in the way you should go.” – (Isaiah 48:17, ERV) 

The Eternal One, who rescued you, the Holy One of Israel declares, “I am the Eternal One your God. I have given you My instruction for living well and right, leading you in how you should be and do.” – (Isaiah 48:17, VOICE) 

God is the same – yesterday, today and forever. He is faithful to teach, direct and lead us in how we should be and what we should do. It is our opportunity to seek Him, as He has given us a free will to choose. When we seek Him, He is faithful to answer. We may not always like the direction He is leading, but it is always what is ultimately best for us and those around us. May we ever choose to seek the Lord, for He will be faithful to teach us and guide us in all of His ways. 

The Lord, our Savior, 

The most holy One; 

Will teach us what’s best, 

Because of His Son. 

If we choose to seek, 

Truly, we shall find; 

Ever He’s for us, 

Heart, body and mind. 

He’ll make our path clear, 

Whenever we ask; 

Show us where to go, 

And what is our task. 

Help us keep asking, 

And choose listen well; 

Let all that we do, 

Make Your love be felt. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You teach us what is best for us when we seek and ask You. Forgive us for the times that we have not sought You, or chose not to listen to Your leading. Show us how to love those around us well, and how to seek and follow Your instruction. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and listen to Your leading. Amen. 

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

I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me find Me. – Proverbs 8:17

The Gift of Mothers

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. – (Psalm 139:13, NIV) 

You formed the way I think and feel. You put me together in my mother’s womb. – (Psalm 139:13, ERV) 

For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. – (Psalm 139:13, VOICE) 

Today, as well as every day, I have a heart overflowing with gratitude for my mother. Not only did God choose her to be my mom, but He chose me to be her daughter. God knew from before I had breath, who would be the perfect fit to raise, train, love and lead me best. My mom’s birthday is today, and I am so blessed to have the privilege of going to see and celebrate her existence. She is the most loving, giving and kind woman that I know. God created her for love, and she loves in ways that teach all of us what love ought to look like. Her patience and perseverance over the last many months have been inspiring, to say the least. Mom has been working tirelessly to regain strength and mobility that was lost when she suffered a stroke, nearly sixteen months ago. Though I cannot fulfill her greatest wish today, we are trusting God to pave the way and help orchestrate the details, so that mom’s next step will be to move back to her own home soon. He knows what she needs, and we are trusting that He will provide the perfect people to help provide the assistance she needs to thrive back in her own home. God is so good, and every time that I see or speak with my mom, I am reminded of just how good He truly is. May today be a day of blessings and miracles for my mom, and an opportunity for all of us to remember that God knew us and formed us with purpose, and set us in families for a reason. 

All praise be to God, 

There is no other; 

Who gives life to us, 

And gifts us mothers. 

Before we were formed, 

God already knew; 

Who He’d gift to us, 

To show us love’s true. 

And oh, how I know, 

To look to His face; 

Because mom has shown, 

His love and His grace. 

God bless her, keep her, 

Sustain her, I pray; 

All thanks unto You, 

For my mom, each day! 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You knit each of us together with intention. You designed us to love and be loved. Thank You for the incredible blessing we have through the gift of our mom. Forgive us for not thanking You enough, for Your goodness knows no end. Teach us how to love one another in a way that honors You best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the incredible gift of mothers. 

© 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

He Reigns

God reigns over the nations; God is seated on His holy throne. – (Psalm 47:8, NIV) 

God sits on His holy throne, He rules all the nations. – (Psalm 47:8, ERV) 

Our God reigns over every nation. He reigns on His holy throne over all. – (Psalm 47:8, TPT) 

This is what we have to remember, even when the world around us seems to be in turmoil. God is still good, and He is in charge.  The One who made heaven and earth is more than able to see us through trying times. Though it is difficult to understand why the world is the way it is right now, with God, we can trust that His presence will never leave us, and His plans and purposes will come to pass. Each new day we must choose to trust in He who is greater than anything that is in the world. Some days it is easier than others. May we seek first, His kingdom, for in Him and through Him all things exist. 

Above all nations, 

The Lord God, He reigns; 

Faithful forever, 

He is who He claims. 

Despite what we see, 

His word’s always true; 

Throughout each trial, 

He’s making things new. 

Choose hold onto hope, 

And look to His throne; 

He’ll strengthen and lead, 

‘til we make it home. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are on Your throne over the nations, as You are ultimately the One in control. Forgive us for losing heart when we look around and see the state of the world today. Teach us to trust You and Your plan and follow wherever and however You lead. Show us how to love those around us best, in ways that make Your heart known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to rule and reign, even when we cannot see how You are working. Amen. 

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” – 1 Chronicles 16:31

Counsel In All Things

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. – (Psalm 32:8, NIV) 

The Lord says, “I will teach you and guide you in the way you should live. I will watch over you and be your guide.” – (Psalm 32:8, ERV) 

I will teach you and tell you the way to go and how to get there; I will give you good counsel, and will watch over you. – (Psalm 32:8, VOICE) 

God is faithful to instruct and teach us, and to show us which way is best for our lives. When we are invested in Him – learning and growing, seeking and knowing – He leads us and guides us in the ways in which we are to go. Sometimes, even when things seem to be what we are hoping for, He steers us away, and we later come to understand why. We are walking through a season of this right now. A direction I thought I was to go, is not; and my love is being led into a possible new. I trust and know He has our very best in mind, so we are following in the directions as He shows us the way. God cares about the little things and the big things. As we learn to trust Him in the small things, we recognize that He is trustworthy for the bigger things. May we ever seek the Lord to teach us and show us the ways that are best, for He is our wise counsel and will watch over us. 

God’s ever faithful, 

To show us the way; 

He directs, instructs, 

All night and all day. 

We need only ask, 

Choose listen and learn; 

He’s faithful and near, 

His grace is not earned. 

Love that’s unending, 

Counsel and His peace; 

Direction to trust, 

Presence that won’t cease. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness, love, guidance and protection. Thank You that we can always come to You and trust. Forgive us for going our own way, rather than seeking You for guidance. Teach us to turn to You and ask You to lead and show us the way. Show us how to love and support those around us best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek and trust Your counsel for all things – great and small. Amen. 

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

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. – Deuteronomy 4:29

Bearing Our Burdens

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. – (Psalm 68:19, NIV) 

Praise the Lord! Every day he helps us with the loads we must carry. He is the God who saves us. – (Psalm 68:19, ERV) 

Blessed be the Lord who carries our heavy loads every day, the True God who is our salvation. – (Psalm 68:19, VOICE) 

God is faithful, always. In the throes of the heaviness, He is present. When we are feeling stuck, He is ready and able to lead us through so that we may believe in the midst of our burdens.  Salvation is understood as we find hope in the heavy, and recognize the presence of God. I find myself in a solid space of reminiscing about God’s faithfulness, and how He bears our burdens. A little over a year ago, my mom suffered a massive stroke. We were blindsided by this, as she had always been strong and healthy and independent. As we have walked through the recovery process with mom, each day, God has handled our burdens and helped us carry the weight of worry and fear.  The verse found in Hebrews 6:19, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” has been a sort of battle cry and comfort as we have navigated all of the new that comes with this sort of challenge. Being a visual person, I have wanted to artistically memorialize the anchor that God has been, in a way that was a tangible reminder of His faithfulness to steady us, always. Yesterday, the desire that I had held finally came to fruition. On my right foot, which is the side of mom’s body impacted by the stroke, I had an anchor with flowers from mom’s yard, along with her usual signature on cards, memorialized in ink. For me, every step I take, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness to continue to bring healing, help and wholeness to my mom. It also reminds me to pray with gratitude for the life that He spared, and is continuing to restore. She went from being wheelchair bound a year ago, to walking by herself with a cane today. It has taken tremendous determination and hard work, but mom has never shied away from either, and depends on God to be her strength. May we ever remember Who is near and present to help us with the loads we carry, and loves us through every step that we take. 

Hope is the anchor, 

A gift from the Lord; 

His grace and His love, 

As asked, He’ll afford. 

He’ll carry the weight, 

Of burdens we bear; 

Bring loving comfort, 

Tangible, His care. 

Regardless of weight, 

His grace is enough; 

To lead and guide us,  

Through all sorts of stuff. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You help us with the burdens we bear, and when they grow too heavy, You carry us. Thank You that You are the faithful anchor of our soul – strong and secure. Forgive us for the times that we attempt to carry things alone, rather than seeking You for help. Teach us to trust You more, as You are forever faithful to help, as You love us through every storm that comes our way. Show us how to love others well. Lead us to love in a way that brings comfort, encouragement, and strength, so that all might know that they are not alone when storms rage around them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for being our ever-present help, and the anchor that secures our heart in the midst of storms. Amen. 

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

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

Forgive, Listen and Grow

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, NIV) 

Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. – (Colossians 3:13, ERV) 

Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act kind. – (Colossians 3:13, VOICE) 

Our nation is in a space where forgiveness is needed for all. For many of us, our own ignorance to the magnitude of the problem that still exists in this country is a grievance in and of itself. We must bear with one another in love, as we seek to listen, learn and grow. The enemy is not people who hold a particular profession, nor is it people who protest and take a stand against what is blaringly wrong. There is an enemy of our souls, who seeks to kill and destroy, as lies, ignorance and ugliness create division. That sin that has seeped in and wrapped its tendrils around unprotected hearts, has created the heinous atrocities that have transpired over time. Justice must be served, and we must walk in forgiveness with repentant hearts; for we each have played a role in perpetuating the problem, if we have not been actively pursuing better. For many of us, this is a season of awakening to a nightmare that many have been living for centuries. In order to be better, we must listen and learn. For me, this comes in the form of reading everything I can get my hands on, listening to those who have a voice of experience, have honest conversations and self-reflection, so that I may be aware and informed; willing to forgive my own ignorance, as I move forward with intention and honesty. Rather than lashing out with accusations and ugliness, how can we have hard conversations and speak truth to those in our circles who need to hear? Forgiveness does not mean ignoring nor sweeping things under the rug, but rather it is a commitment to not hold hostility in our hearts toward others, and choose to kindly come along side people and help them see the truth. Some will not listen. Love anyway. Others will be slow to see the truth. Love anyway. To choose to love is the only way that true change can occur. Jesus reached out, spoke, touched, and loved all people. There were no qualifiers to Him loving, rather He saw needs and met them. As He loved the people whom society had deemed “less than”, Jesus modeled what we are all meant to do. There are none less nor more valuable than others. We are all precious in His sight. Sadly, we are in a space where there has been such injustice against people of color, that it is necessary to draw specific attention to the wrongs so that change may transpire. We must be and do better. None of us will ever get everything right, but if our hearts are for ALL, and we are actively seeking to listen, learn and grow, we will be agents of change for the better. May we seek the Lord for forgiveness, so that we may forgive ourselves and one another as we move in love toward what God intended all along. 

The choice to forgive, 

To listen and grow; 

Is how we are called, 

So truth may be known. 

Instead of anger, 

Let’s have open hearts; 

That true repentance, 

Finds a way to start. 

As we’re forgiven, 

May we do the same; 

Love one another, 

In Jesus’s Name. 

Love with true kindness, 

Without fear to speak; 

Truth for what is right, 

God’s will, ever seek. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are called to bear with one another in love, and choose forgive. Thank You that forgiveness does not mean permission to repeat wrongs, but rather it is us not holding onto past wrongs that weigh us down and prevent us from moving forward in all that You are calling us to. Teach us to do and be better, so that all may live and love in freedom, without fear. Show us how to love those around us better. Lead us to repentance so that reconciliation may transpire. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the true healer and reconciler of all. Be glorified O God, as we listen, learn and grow in love for one another. Amen. 

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

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14