Joy and Rest

Therefore my heart is glad and my spirit rejoices; my body also rests securely. – (Psalm 16:9, HCSB)

So my heart and soul will be very happy. Even my body will live in safety. – (Psalm 16:9, ERV)

This is a good life – my heart is glad, my soul is full of joy, and my body is at rest. Who could want for more? – (Psalm 16:9, VOICE)

This feels like the reason for summer break for students and staff alike. Time away provides rest and reflection, and it seems that through this season of rest, hearts are made glad and joy is restored. I am so grateful that God provides what we need when we need it most. Not only has the school year come to a close, but my love has taken vacation time and we are enjoying the opportunity to take care of projects, spend time together, and relish the time we are able to spend with our besties, as they prepare to move out of state in six months. God is good, and my heart is glad. May we ever give thanks to the Lord who fills us with joy, keeps us safe, and provides much needed rest.

Lord, You are so good,

In You, there is rest;

Peace for the weary,

Your joy is the best.

It fills up our hearts,

Surrounds us with peace;

Reminds us again,

Your love will not cease.

You restore in us,

The things that seemed lost;

In safety renew,

Grace never exhausts.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You are where we find joy, security and rest. Thank You that You provide what we need when we need it most. Thank You for seasons that grant us extra rest and refreshment. Forgive us for losing sight of where true joy is found when we are weary. Teach us to trust in You and recognize the joy that we have in You, no matter our circumstances. Show us how to love those around us in ways that provide rest for the weary and extend the joy we have in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your goodness and grace that give us joy, rest and security. Amen.

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

When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy. – Psalm 94:19

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

We Were the One

“What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it?” – (Luke 15:4, HCSB)

“Suppose one of you has 100 sheep, but one of them gets lost. What will you do? You will leave the other 99 in the field and go out and look for the lost sheep.  You will continue to search for it until you find it.” – (Luke 15:4, ERV)

“Wouldn’t every single one of you, if you have 100 sheep and lose one, leave the 99 in their grazing lands and go out searching for the lost sheep until you find it?” – (Luke 15:4, VOICE)

Jesus views us in the same way. Each of His kids is of infinite worth, and He passionately pursues us when we have gone astray or have become lost. His heart is ever for us, to protect us and love us well. Additionally, I am certain it is why He places us in community. When we are invested and engaged with others, we are less likely to become lost or wander off on our own. Together, we have each other to help us remain engaged and accountable to be who He has created us to be. May we ever seek the Shepherd who loves each of us so much that He would relentlessly pursue us if we became lost. 

The Lord’s our shepherd,

Watching over us;

In love, He protects,

Our faithful Jesus.

If we go astray,

He’ll ever pursue;

The heart of the lost,

To cleanse and renew.

For in Him is grace,

Forever, He’s good;

He helps us see Him,

Makes love understood.

Each day we draw breath,

He’s present to care;

He loves with His life,

He’s ever aware.

He knows when we’re near,

Or if we are lost;

His heart beats for us,

Made clear at the cross.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You pursue us when we are lost or have gone astray. Thank You that You know and see us individually, and care about every detail of our lives. Forgive us for somehow thinking that You don’t, or for not recognizing how deeply You love us all. Teach us to see every single person we encounter as one whom You would leave all to pursue and bring safely into Your care. Show us how to love everyone as You do, so that those who are hurting, struggling, or wandering aimlessly would be pursued as the “One” with Your love and care. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for pursuing us when we were the “One”, and for placing us in community to keep us from wandering. Amen.

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

God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. – Psalm 36:7

Unlikely Allies

While he was sitting on the judge’s bench, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for today I’ve suffered terribly in a dream because of Him!” – (Matthew 27:19, HCSB)

While Pilate was sitting there in the place for judging, his wife sent a message to him. It said, “Don’t do anything with that man. He is not guilty. Last night I had a dream about Him and it troubled me very much.” – (Matthew 27:19, ERV)

While court was still in session, Pilate’s wife sent him a message. “Don’t get mixed up in judging this noble man. I’ve just been through a long and troubled night because of a dream about Him.” – (Matthew 27:19, MSG)

I have read the account of all that Jesus endured on His way to the cross countless times. For whatever reason, what stood out to me this morning is that the most unlikely of people seemed to be in His corner. After enduring two trials and three denials, I imagine it felt like no one was for Him. Both Pilate and his wife spoke on His behalf, recognizing and declaring His innocence. Though Pilate eventually gave into the chaos of the crowd, he had spoken out about Jesus and had declared that He had done nothing worthy of death. These things make me wonder what life was like for them after Jesus had died, risen and ascended. My heart hopes that because they had been in His presence and had witnessed the heart, humility and grace that Jesus displayed, that their lives were forever changed. This morning, my prayer is that all those around us will see Jesus in us and be drawn into His goodness and grace.

Unlikely allies,

A judge and his wife;

Knew what really was,

And fought for His life.

Yet despite their words,

That which had to be;

The life of Jesus,

For you and for me.

There was not a way,

To bypass the cross;

He was not willing,

For us to be lost.

The joy of it all,

Arrived the third day;

Death couldn’t hold Him,

For He is the way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your word is alive and active, and that You show us new things each time we are intentional to invest time in Your word. Thank You that You use unlikely people to show us more of You. Forgive us for not pausing to ponder or for rushing ahead when You always have something for us to learn. Teach us to be intentional in our seeking and listening. Show us more of You in everyday and unexpected places. Lead us to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your goodness and grace and penetrate the hardest of hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pause, ponder, and praise You for all that You have done in our lives. Amen.

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

By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:35

The Greatest Love Story

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” – (John 3:16, HCSB)

Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, ERV)

For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. – (John 3:16, VOICE)

In this season of fixation on love, it seems only appropriate to recognize and celebrate the greatest love of all. God loved creation so much that He gave His Son to restore what had been lost, and to make the way for all who receive it, to have life everlasting with Him. We have all been hand-crafted, designed to love and be loved. The unique design placed within each of us grants us the capacity to love well. This love is not limited to romantic love, but rather it equips and empowers us to love all. From our parents, to siblings, to children, family, friends and a significant other, God gives us all that we need to love well. It is up to us to receive all that He offers so that we might truly know His love and then go and love likewise, all those whom He has placed in our lives. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to love well, and give Him all praise for His loving ways each day that we draw breath.

The greatest love story,

That’s ever been told;

The gift of a Savior,

To have and to hold.

It is through the knowing,

Receiving of grace;

That we too can love well,

As we seek His face.

God places in our lives,

People we’re to love;

All whom He created,

Purposed from above.

So seek Him to love well,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

Receive all He gives;

In Christ we’re empowered,

To love as we live.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your One and only Son to make the way for us to be in a loving relationship with You and equipped to love others as You do. Thank You that Your love gives us hope and help, life and love that last forever. Forgive us for the times that we have not loved as You intended, and for when we neglect to receive what You freely and lovingly offer. Teach us to trust in Your everlasting goodness and grace as You continually show us Your loving ways. Lead us to love all those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the incredible gift of Your love and trust You to lead us to love all those around us well. Amen.

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

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. – Psalm 5:11

Nothing Without Love

If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, HCSB)

I may speak in different languages, whether human or even angels. But if I don’t have love, I am only a noisy bell or a ringing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy, I may understand all secrets and know everything there is to know, and may I have faith so great that I can move mountains. But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have to help others, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing by doing all this if I don’t have love. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ERV)

What if I speak in the most elegant languages of people or in the exotic languages of the heavenly messengers, but I live without love? Well then, anything I say is like the clanging of brass or a crashing cymbal. What if I have the gift of prophecy, am blessed with knowledge and insight to all the mysteries, or what if my faith is strong enough to scoop a mountain from its bedrock, yet I live without love? If so, I am nothing. I could give all that I have to feed the poor, I could surrender my body to be burned as a martyr, but if I do not live in love, I gain nothing by my selfless acts. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, VOICE)

No matter what good we do or say, it is meaningless if love is not our reason. God calls and commands us to love. All words and gestures are lost if love is not the motivation. In order to love in all things, we must be equipped and filled. The saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is a practical application of actions without love. When we become depleted without refreshment, all that we say and do becomes out of obligation rather than motivated by love. Obligation is exhausting. In reality, we all have obligations, yet when we are filled and equipped with love, we are able to fulfill what is required with love and intention rather than frustration. May we begin each day by seeking our Savior so that we may be refreshed, renewed and made ready to love in all things.

Empty are all things,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography<3

If love is not there;

For only with love,

Can we show we care.

May all that we say,

And all that we do;

Be done fueled by love,

So God’s heart shines through.

Help us be people,

After Your own heart;

Lead us in Your love,

As each new day starts.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the most excellent way is love. Thank You that You call and equip us to love. Forgive us for the things we have said and done that were not motivated and equipped with Your love. Teach us to rely on You to lead us and guide us in all that we say and do. Show us how to do all things in Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You each new day to lead us well so that all that we say and do is done in love. Amen.

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

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

Given to the Seeking

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – (Matthew 6:33, NIV)

What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what He wants you to do. Then He will give you all these other things you need. – (Matthew 6:33, ERV)

So above all, constantly seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. – (Matthew 6:33, TPT)

When we pursue the heart and will of God for our lives, He provides all that we need. In times that I have worried about a lack, God has provided. In seasons that I have had more than enough, He has shown me how to utilize the abundance for blessing. God is faithful to meet us where we are and provide all we need as we seek to walk in His will. Though in this passage Jesus was speaking about physical needs being met, He is faithful to meet our spiritual and emotional needs as well. The Lord supplies strength when we are weary, hope when we feel lost, and peace when chaos seems to reign. It is in the seeking that we truly find, and in the pursuit of doing right by God that we discover all that we need is faithfully provided. May we ever seek the Lord and His will for our lives, for it is in our pursuit of His path that we find there He is present to help and supply what we need.

In seeking the Lord,

Is where we shall find;

God’s ways are perfect,

And His love is kind.

He makes clear a path,

For us to move on;

Grants us what we need,

And makes our hearts strong.

Each need that we have,

Is seen and is known;

By grace the Lord gives,

As His love is shown.

Strength when we’re weary,

Supply in our lack;

Peace in our chaos,

Hope to stay on track.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You supply all that we need as we faithfully seek You and Your will for our lives. Thank You that You show us the ways in which we are meant to go, and You remain present to help and uphold us. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed fear a foothold based solely on what we could see, rather than trust You and all that You do in the unseen. Teach us to trust You more, as we discover the abundant and unending faithfulness that is forever found in You. Show us how to lavishly love those around us, so each may be encouraged and built up. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we ever pursue Your heart and will for how we walk out each day. Amen.

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

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. – Luke 11:9-10

Blessings in Mourning

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV)

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. – (Matthew 5:4, MSG)

One of the hardest things we face in life is loss. Though we all know that not one of us will live forever, there is always sorrow in the passing of those whom we love, especially when the loss comes far sooner than anticipated. Mourning is a challenging space for me, as I am not an external emoter. I feel deeply, yet seldom allow myself to give room for tears to escape. It is not intentional, but rather is a well-developed defense mechanism. As only God does, He has placed me in communities with loving, tender hearts, that create safe space to process however my heart needs to do so. For me, there is comfort in simply writing things down. In fact, that is often how I discover how I am actually feeling. Words in writing seem to bypass the filter in my mind and simply land on the page as they are. That being said, I guess my point is that despite my grieving in this space of loss, I am grateful for the comfort and kindness that I am blessed to have surrounding me. Additionally, the one whom my heart aches for the most, is clearly surrounded in community too. Even when life is hard, God is so good. May we ever seek the Lord in our spaces of loss and of blessing, for He loves us and provides safe space to process whatever our heart is holding.

In spaces of loss,

Where our hearts need mourn;

The Lord’s ever near,

To mend what is torn.

He blesses our hearts,

Surrounds us with peace;

Makes love tangible,

As our hearts release.

Release the heartache,

Place all in His hands;

His grace holds us up,

As we trust His plans.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in our spaces of loss and mourning, You come near and bless us with Your comfort. Forgive us for the times we delay in turning to You in our grief. Teach us to trust and lean on You, for You bless us with Your comfort and love in all things. Show us how to love, support and comfort those around us in the same way that You support and comfort us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for Your blessings in our spaces of mourning, and for the communities that You place us in. 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

Hope is Reborn

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV)

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. – (Matthew 5:4, MSG)

Grief is in the forefront of my mind this morning, as I received news of a friend’s great loss. I never know what to say in the space of such suffering, as I know the despair and devastation created by loss, and we each respond differently in the depths of our own pain. For me, reminders of God’s goodness and ability to comfort, along with the recognition and recall that Jesus grieved in loss as well, seem to help my heart in such spaces. The shortest, yet most powerfully significant verse that I know in such a space is, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Jesus weeping in the face of loss with His dear friends is a reminder to us that we are not meant to “keep it all together” or “be strong” when we face grief. It is good and necessary to grieve so that our hearts can heal. God takes the broken pieces of our hearts and puts them back together in such a wondrous way that beauty springs forth from our ashes. Incredibly, what I have found after a period of mourning, is that God brings along opportunities for me to offer comfort to others walking through something similar, and great hope as I can see so clearly how I was held through the pain. My hope and prayer this morning is that those in the midst of loss can find comfort and peace in the arms of the One who is able to heal us, and feel the freedom to grieve however it is needed so that release and relief may come.

When tragedy strikes,

Or great loss is known;

God be our comfort,

As Your love is shown.

Teach our hearts to grieve,

In spaces of loss;

So healing can come,

Let’s look to the cross.

For in such anguish,

You bore all our pain;

So that we might know,

That joy comes again.

For after the grave,

You breathed life anew;

Our forever hope,

That proves Your love’s true.

A time for weeping,

To grieve and to mourn;

So joy may return,

And hope is reborn.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have known and experienced loss and devastation, and You too, wept. Thank You that because You have lived it, You can relate to our suffering and bring comfort and healing and hope. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when all that we can feel is loss. Teach us to turn to You in our despair, for Your arms are big enough to hold our every heaviness. Show us how to love, support, encourage and walk beside those around us in their seasons of loss. May comfort be found and Your heart made known in new and tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God as we give You room and freedom to bring beauty from our ashes and hope from our despair. Amen.

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

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

A New Thing

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

I am doing something new! Now you will grow like a new plant. Surely you know this is true. I will even make a road in the desert, and rivers will flow through that dry land. – (Isaiah 43:19, ERV)

Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert; waters will flow where there has been none. – (Isaiah 43:19, VOICE)

This feels like life right now. After nearly a year and a half of my children being home and isolated, each of the twins will begin a new job today. One will be working at Lowes, and the other at Kohls. The opportunity for each to get out in the community and begin working feels like new life is coming. Where there was isolation, there will now be interactions. Where there was little, there is now opportunity for more. There is something so good as we enter adulthood and begin to earn our own wages and can contribute to expenses. Though both kids have been wise with their money, they were relying on gifts they had been given for graduation, Christmas and birthdays to supply the things that they needed (and parents of course). Beginning today, they will be able to save for school and have spending money of their own. Even more importantly, they will be out in the community and engaging with people again. I know both are nervous, yet I am certain that they will each thrive in the new.

The Lord is faithful,

He brings us the new;

Forward momentum,

Shows us what to do.

New life and blessings,

When all has seemed dim;

He makes a new way,

When we let Him in.

Choose trust in the Lord,

His promises true;

Quenches the thirsty,

And safely leads through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You provide a way where there seemed to be no way, and You bring new life where all seemed lost. Thank You that our hope is secure in You. Forgive us for losing sight of Your promises when tough seasons are long. Teach us to trust You in all things, for You are always faithful. Show us how to love those around us in ways that give light and life and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to make all things new and to lead us in the ways that we are meant to go. Amen.

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

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. – 2 Corinthians 1:20