Rejoice, Pray, and Give Thanks

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

Always be full of joy. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ERV)

Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.) – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, VOICE)

This morning, at 2:45, as I heard my dog making retching sounds, joy was not exactly what came to mind; sadly, neither was prayer nor thankfulness. As I jumped out of bed and threw on some extra layers to take him outside, I groggily checked to be sure he was okay. He took care of business outside, and returned to his crate to rest. Again, rest did not come. Whining began and would not relent. Finally, after a good fifteen minutes of trying, I gave in and brought my giant pup upstairs. Again, he went outside and then returned ravenous. After he ate, he settled in a bit as I attempted to doze on the couch. When the time was nearing my scheduled wake up, I took Thor back downstairs and returned upstairs to begin my day. My celebration was that I have a roof over my head and that there is coffee in our house to brew. I am thankful that it is Friday, and that I do not need to rise as early tomorrow. God is kind, and shortly after I returned to resume my regular morning routine, my love came upstairs too. In the calm stillness of the morning, I am so grateful to God for another human that can rise early, and find joy and contentment in the silence. Early mornings are something to be celebrated, even when they come far sooner than anticipated. Before long, I will witness the early morning light, as the sun makes its appearance on the horizon. God is faithful to meet us, even in the wee hours of the early morning. He hears our heart’s cry, despite the momentary frustrations when our schedules are disrupted. Today, my heart will rejoice, for I have countless reasons to give God thanks, as I have His light, and life, and hope. May we ever celebrate the goodness of God, giving Him thanks as we are intentional to spend time seeking Him.

May our hearts give praise,

In Christ we rejoice;

Let’s prayerfully seek,

Give thanks with our voice.

No matter what comes,

We’ve reason for joy;

The Lord’s always good,

To thank is a choice.

Today I will choose,

To celebrate Christ;

For goodness and grace,

And loving advice.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the countless reasons You grant us to have joy in You. Thank You that You hear our prayers and You supply what we need to navigate each new day. Thank You that You remain present, no matter what comes our way or how our day begins. Forgive us for our frustrations and delay in seeking You when things are thrown off course. Teach us to lean into You and listen to Your heart. Show us how to love those around us in all things, and grant us patience when it is lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in You and pray to You, ever giving You thanks for who You are and how You love. Amen.

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

I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing the praises of Your Name, O Most High. – Psalm 9:2

Release Your Burdens

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

“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 weary, carrying a heavy burden? Come to Me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.” – (Matthew 11:28, TPT)

Everyone seems to be carrying extra burdens these days, be it from fear, job loss, job change, or simply the loss of what we have always known. With the start of hybrid learning scheduled for Monday, there is the weight of the unknown. It is amazing how God places us in community to grant us rest. At work, I am blessed with a community of colleagues whom I also call friends, as we encourage, help and support one another. In my home, I no longer carry the weight of running the entire household, as it is a shared burden that is done in love. When I am tired or not feeling well, the help and support increase; rest is granted as it is needed. The last thing that I wanted to do on this gorgeous sunny weekend is slow down and rest, but clearly it is what my body needs. I am going to trust He who knows far better than me, and simply relax and see what I am meant to do.

In our weariness,

We can learn a lot from our fur babies… ❤

The Lord grants us rest;

He knows what we need,

And shows us what’s best.

May we ever seek,

For in Him we find;

Rest and refreshment,

Heart, body and mind.

Even in the times,

We want to press on;

We’re called to listen,

He provides our strong.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we are weary, we find rest in You. Thank You that despite our resistance, You know best what we need. Forgive us for not always listening to Your leading to slow down and rest. Show us how to rest in You and trust what You have for us. Lead us to love others around us so that we may encourage, walk beside, and lessen burdens. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to grant us the rest we need in You. Amen.

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

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – Psalm 18:32

Present in All

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

Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take. – (Joshua 1:9, MSG)

This is My command: be strong and courageous. Never be afraid or discouraged because I am your God, the Eternal One, and I will remain with you wherever you go. – (Joshua 1:9, VOICE)

This morning, this is a reminder to myself of what is true. A week and a half ago, we placed our puppies in the care of trainers for a three-week board and train program. Yesterday evening, we received a message that it might not work out for one of our dogs. The thing is, we trusted that the trainers were professionals and would be able to aid us in correcting some undesired behaviors, as well as guide us through additional obedience training. Now, after a sizable investment and emotional turmoil, we may be bringing our doggos home, requiring us to begin again with the search for how to best train our sweet puppies to peacefully coexist with each other and be mindful of what is being asked of them. Right now, after a reasonable night’s sleep, I cannot help but trust that God knows our needs and perhaps this was not the best fit or solution, and He will be with us as we walk out this process. Today, I will trust that He will provide the strength, courage and tenacity to do whatever we need to do that is best for our family. No matter the outcome, God will be with us. What matters most is that we listen to His leading and follow through. To some, this may seem trivial, however, for us, our dogs are a huge part of our family. God knows our needs and I will trust Him as we go today. May we ever choose strength, courage and resilience rather than fear or discouragement. For He will remain with us wherever we go.

Be not discouraged,

Choose faith over fear;

The Lord has promised,

He’ll always be near.

No matter what lies,

Ahead in our lives;

The Lord has His best,

True hope realized.

The things that matter,

That pull our heart strings;

Also God’s concern,

And answers He’ll bring.

Today I choose trust,

I know the Lord cares;

He’ll lead us in love,

Through answers He shares.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You remind us to be strong and courageous in You. Thank You that You love and care for all creatures that You created. Thank You that You are faithful to show us how to care best for all that You bless us with. Forgive us for our anger and frustration over something that may be for the best. Teach us to trust You more as we walk out each new day, seeking to follow after You and all that You have for us. Show us how to love in such a way that we extend Your goodness and grace in all that we do and say. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we continue to trust in You. Amen.

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

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. – 1 Thessalonians 3:12

A Fine Line Between Fearlessness and Foolishness

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)

The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power, love and self-control. – (2 Timothy 1:7, ERV)

For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love and self-control. – (2 Timothy 1:7, TPT)

There is a fine line between fearlessness and foolishness. We need the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us to know the difference. As we seek the Lord and listen to His leading, we grow in understanding of what His power, love and self-discipline do for us. When we realize the power of Christ within us, we discover that fear has no place to set up camp. Fear may creep in at times, but His Spirit in us will not allow fear to remain. How then, do we use the power, love and self-control that God grants us to best love people? As a peacemaker, it is easy to default to silence, while the idea of conflict brings fear. However, if we look in God’s word to the example of Christ, He was not afraid to speak truth and stand firm. His actions were in love and with self-discipline, while He was fully aware of the power within Him. This is where dependence on Christ is a must. We need His Spirit within us to identify His will, not our own, and to move in His power and love with self-control. May we ever seek the Lord to keep fear at bay, and rely on His power, love and self-discipline to lead us to love like Him.

God’s not created,

Us to live in fear;

His power and love,

Forever are near.

We need only seek,

For our hearts to find;

He’s always with us,

Heart, body and mind.

His love gives us strength,

To conquer our fear;

His love evident,

As His grace appears.

Power in weakness,

Love where it seems lack;

Self-discipline too,

God helps as we ask.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have not created us to be afraid. Thank You that You infuse us with Your power, love and self-discipline as we seek You. Forgive us for our fearfulness and for the times that we have neglected to seek You. Show us how to turn to You in all things and at all times. Teach us to rely on Your Spirit within us to grant us the power, love and self-control that we need to navigate our days as You intended. Lead us in Your love with all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in all things and at all times, and give You praise for all You provide by Your love. 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

To Be Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – (Matthew 5:9, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who work to bring peace. God will call them sons and daughters. – (Matthew 5:9, ERV)

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. – (Matthew 5:9, MSG)

In a culture where arguing and fighting seem to be the norm, how can we work to bring peace? To me, the most logical way is to love. If we are focused on loving those around us, we will truly listen and learn how to love best. When we are intentional to love, it is impossible to fight. I know many people who think differently and view the world differently than me, yet we are able to listen to one another as we allow love to lead. When love leads, peace is found. It is in that space of peace that we are best able to recognize that God has placed us among family and loves us all as His own. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us in love, so that we may be peacemakers wherever we go.

The Lord calls us all,

To care like He does;

Be bringers of peace,

And givers of love.

As we choose invest,

By faith, live out love;

We represent well,

Our Father above.

So, let us invest,

In listening well;

Help us all to learn,

Through peace, Your love tell.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be bringers of peace in places where it is absent. Thank You that as we seek You, You show us how to listen and love in a way that helps create community. Forgive us for the times that we have opted to argue rather than listen and learn. Show us how to love those around us in such a way that we can be bringers of peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to be peacemakers as Your sons and daughters. 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

Hope is Rising

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – (Psalm 31:24, NIV)

Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon. – (Psalm 31:24, MSG)

Be strong, and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal! – (Psalm 31:24, VOICE)

As I was doing my lesson planning yesterday, I did more research on the work of Amanda Gorman, the poet laureate who spoke at the Inauguration. Both when she shared her poem then, and while I discovered a recent poem of hers, “The Miracle of Morning”, I was in awe of her ability to tackle current events and convey hope through poetry. My sixth graders have been studying the poem, “If”, by Rudyard Kipling, and the opportunity to spend some time studying the works of a modern-day poet seemed a perfect pairing. For me, as I listen to and read Miss Gorman’s words, I cannot help but think her message is one of choosing to be brave and strong, and to not give up. The words call upon hope to rise within us, much like God’s word, for He is where our hope is held, and our Source of courage, strength and resolve. May we seek the Lord to find the strength and courage to see His love that is all around us, and the resolve to love as we are loved by Him.

Take heart, dear ones,

For hope is rising;

Light found in darkness,

There’s no disguising.

The chaos that is,

Will not always be;

For hope is rising,

As love is released.

A choice to honor,

Sisters and brothers;

To stand hand-in-hand,

Supporting each other.

Stand up, dear young ones,

Please take it from me;

The future is yours,

Rise up and shine, so all may see.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and You are our Source of courage, strength and resolve. Thank You that as we seek and learn to depend on You, hope rises within us. Forgive us for not being light and life in the midst of darkness. Teach us to seek You to ignite Your fire within us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that spread Your light that chases away the darkness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to raise us up as light-bearers and love givers. Amen.

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

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. – Psalm 71:5

Simply Be Still

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. – (Exodus 14:14, NIV)

You will not have to do anything but stay calm. The Lord will do the fighting for you. – (Exodus 14:14, ERV)

The Eternal will fight on your behalf while you watch in silence. – (Exodus 14:14, VOICE)

The context of this passage is such a powerful reminder of who God is and how He loves. As the Israelites had escaped Egypt and traveled into the desert, Pharaoh and the Egyptian army decided that they had made a mistake in allowing the people to go, and were pursuing them with chariots and horses. In fear and frustration, the Israelites began second-guessing their departure to the desert, and Moses called on the Lord. The response Moses was given was the above verse that he was to share with his people. God demonstrated His power and provision to His people, as He parted the Red Sea and threw the Egyptian army into confusion. The Israelites safely crossed through, and once the Egyptians were all in the middle of the sea, God released the Red Sea and covered the entire military movement, leaving no Egyptian survivors. Often, when we are in the midst of our biggest battles, God tells us the same, “Be still and I will fight for you.” What I have discovered over and over again, is that when I am meant to be still, and actually listen, God moves in miraculous ways. There are times that He calls us to fight or to move as He leads us and strengthens us, yet there are times when we are simply meant to be still and seek Him. May we ever seek the Lord and listen to His voice, as He instructs us to be still before Him and observe all that He will do.

Let us seek the Lord,

When we’re overwhelmed;

For God has a plan,

In Him, we’re upheld.

Sometimes in trials, 

He tells us, “Be still,”

The Lord is greater,

With grace He will fill.

Our battles belong,

To the Holy One;

Who loves us so much,

That He sent His Son.

All trials we face,

In Him, they are won;

He overcame death,

So we’d overcome.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind, yet powerful and ready to fight on our behalf. Thank You that often You call us to be still and give You room to move. Forgive us for the times that we try to keep fighting in spaces that were meant to be Yours. Teach us to seek You and truly listen, so that we may know when to fight and when to be still. Show us how to love all those around us, for everyone has battles that are meant to be Yours. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lift our laments before You and listen for Your leading, every step of the way. Amen.

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

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

Persist in Prayer

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment. – (Matthew 15:28, NIV)

Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! You will get what you asked for.” And right then the woman’s daughter was healed. – (Matthew 15:28, ERV)

Jesus gave in. “Oh woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!” Right then her daughter became well. – (Matthew 15:28, MSG)

This exchange between Jesus and a Canaanite woman is a great example of persistent faith. The woman’s daughter was suffering, and she knew that Jesus could heal her. Despite being a Canaanite (not God’s chosen people), the woman sought Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus went back and forth with the woman about who is deserving, and she kept responding in a way that demonstrated her faith in His ability to heal. He recognized and admonished her for her trust in Him, and healed her daughter immediately. So often, I think we disqualify ourselves from His help, as we think that we are somehow unworthy of His touch if our request is not answered right away. What this shows us is that we need to keep asking, keep pursuing the help and healing we are hoping for, as often there is a wait that grows our faith. Perhaps the wait occurs to provide time for healing of our hearts, rather than just a quick fix. I cannot claim to truly understand why some healings are immediate, some are gradual, and some do not happen on this side of heaven. What I do know is that God is good. May we ever continue to seek Him to meet our needs, and praise Him for His goodness and love.

The heart of a mom,

That holds fast to hope;

Demonstrates great faith,

Grace granted to cope.

We must keep asking,

Choose trust and believe;

God’s loving kindness,

Is what we receive.

O Lord, please lead us,

Help us choose to pray;

Ever keep seeking,

For You are the way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear our prayers and heal us in Your timing. Thank You that You listen to our persistent prayers. Forgive us for our frustration when answers don’t come as soon as we think they ought. Teach us to trust You and Your timing, and to contend for the help and healing that is needed. Show us how to love, encourage and lift up those around us with ongoing persistence. May many find healing and hope as they come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God as we continually trust and lean into You. Amen.

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

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7

Let Us Listen First

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, NIV)

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

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends; Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG)

This requires an ongoing decision to be intentional to listen, and truly seek to understand. If we merely listen to respond rather than comprehend what is being spoken, anger has room to rise up, instead of compassion and kindness. Yes, there are times that what is being spoken is not beneficial for anyone. Even then, how we respond makes all the difference. Righteous anger allows us to appropriately respond in love and in truth. The ego, on the other hand, causes responses that only further fan the flames. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to listen well, so that when we choose to speak, our words are full of life and love and grace.

Lord, help us to seek,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

To listen and learn;

Use our ears and heart,

For gracious return.

Let not our voices,

Respond without thought;

Help us understand,

And love as we ought.

For if truth be told,

Wisdom can be found;

In hearts that listen,

As Your grace abounds.

Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to lead with listening to those around us. Forgive us for the times that we have spoken without truly hearing, or allowed anger to rise and taint our words or actions. Teach us how to rely on You to show us how to listen to understand, speak in love, and allow anger to help us bring change through Your goodness and grace. Lead us in Your love with all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever pursue You to grow us more like You. Amen.

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

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. – Proverbs 1:5

Gain in Grace

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. – (Titus 2:11-12, NIV)

This is the way we should live, because God’s grace has come. That grace can save everyone. It teaches us not to live against God and not to do the bad things the world wants to do. It teaches us to live on earth now in a wise and right way – a way that shows true devotion to God. – (Titus 2:11-12, ERV)

God’s marvelous grace has manifested in person, bringing salvation for everyone. This same grace teaches us how to live each day as we turn our backs on ungodliness and indulgent lifestyles, and it equips us to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives in this present age. – (Titus 2:11-12, TPT)

It is God’s grace that grants us each the opportunity to believe and receive, and enter the folds of His salvation. Being saved does not mean we have reached perfection, but rather it means that He who is perfect, is present and available to lead and guide us throughout all our days. God has given all people a free will; it is our decision alone to either receive all that He has to offer, or not. For those who actively receive, God teaches us what we ought not do, and what we need to do, to walk in the way He intended. We need wisdom, grace, and self-control to live upright and demonstrate our devotion to Him. Each word and deed that we extend that demonstrates God’s overwhelming love, is a manifestation of God’s goodness and grace that is available for everyone. However, when we get caught up in the ways of the world, there is nothing about us that leads anyone closer to the loving embrace of God. All that we say and do matters. May we ever pursue He who is pure and loving and full of grace, so that we too, may navigate each day His way.

Lord, help us receive,

Salvation in You;

For each brand new day,

Show us to live true.

True to Your goodness,

Your love and Your grace;

Upright and godly,

Help us walk Your way.

Lord as we listen,

You lead us in truth;

Steer us from evil,

As You make us new.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unending grace that grants us salvation in You. Thank You that as we seek and grow in our understanding of You, You show us what we should and should not do. Forgive us for forging our own way without seeking Your wisdom, or for allowing ourselves to get caught up in the ways of the world, rather than staying true to who You are calling us to become. Teach us to trust and rely on You to lead and guide us throughout all our days. Show us how to love those around us well, as it is Your love that demonstrates the goodness and kindness that leads people into lives full of the hope that only Your salvation provides. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your grace that is freely given, and trust in You to lead and direct us in all of the ways that are meant to go. Keep us away from that which was not meant for us. In Your precious name we pray, Amen.

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

Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. – John 1:16