Before All Things and In All Things

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. – (Colossians 1:17, NIV)

The Son was there before anything was made. And all things continue because of Him. – (Colossians 1:17, ERV)

He existed before anything was made, and now everything finds completion in Him. – (Colossians 1:17, TPT)

 

There are times when particular groups of people are joined together for a season, that the reality of this verse is made tangible. I am always in awe when beautifully diverse groups of people come together for a common purpose, and grow close in the process. This winter, as I participated in my first season as a high school assistant gymnastics coach, I have had the pleasure of witnessing and participating in such a fantastic unfolding as this team has bonded and had a season that has far exceeded their own expectations. Last night, the ladies competed at the state gymnastics meet as a team. To qualify, they had an undefeated regular season, were among the top teams at sub-districts, and again found themselves on the podium as a team at the state-qualifying district meet. There were personal bests and disappointments, a moment of terror as a girl went down during her floor routine, (thankfully only sustaining what would be a relatively minor injury and she should good as new in a day or two) and one of our seniors qualified for the finals later today on the floor exercise. All of the girls celebrated the successes with those who achieved something they had been working for, comforted those who did not perform as well as they had hoped, and gathered around the young lady who was injured to be certain she was okay, extending comfort and care. All in all, it has been just such a season that reminds me that He goes before all things and holds all things together. I am beyond blessed to have been a part of it, and cannot wait to continue coaching with the returning underclassmen. May we all look for the ways that God makes His presence evident, as He has gone before us, and He holds all things together.

 

Before all that is,wp-1582384037844602029485298511295.jpg

The Lord always was;

With good things in mind,

Because He loves us.

Always He is near,

Wherever we go;

Whatever we do,

His presence made known.

We need only look,

In wonder, shall see;

The power of love,

God grants you and me.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You prepare time and space for us. Thank You that You bless us with the people whom we are surrounded with in different seasons of our lives. Forgive us for the times that we take the gifts for granted. Teach us to appreciate each person and each season, as You show us Your heart and grow us more to reflect Your heart to others if we rely on You. Show us how to lean into You, so that we would love well, all those whom we interact with each day. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise and honor You for who You are and how You love. Amen.

 

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

 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – Hebrews 10:24

Undeniably Good

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – (Psalm 34:8, NIV)

Give the Lord a chance to show you how good He is. Great blessings belong to those who depend on Him! – (Psalm 34:8, ERV)

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him. – (Psalm 34:8, MSG)

 

God is undeniably good. The last few weeks have been a bit overwhelming, yet each time I have gone to God to be my refuge and my strength, He has met me and carried me through. One of the most trying things for me as an educator, is being observed and evaluated. I am constantly evaluating what is going on in my classroom, seeking solutions to improve, yet somehow, the process of being observed always makes me feel like I cannot ever be or do enough. Anyway, yesterday was my first observation of the year. Though I was prepared and had given it to God each time anxiousness entered in, my nerves were still surging. My evaluator is kind and compassionate, and as much as it was possible, she did help set me a bit more at ease than I normally would have been. I survived, and the remainder of the day went quickly. More of God’s good was witnessed throughout the evening, as I partook in my first high school gymnastics meet as an assistant coach. The girls did well; supporting and encouraging one another with kindness and grace. In the end, my alma mater, where I coach, took first among the four schools in attendance. It was a sweet end, to a day that had once again shown me, just how good God truly is.

 

If you give God room, For God and His Grace

He’s faithful to show;

His goodness and grace,

Blessings to bestow.

Take refuge in Him,

For there we find rest;

Comfort and His peace,

As He loves us best.

So, choose taste and see,

That the Lord is good;

Faithful forever,

His love is assured.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can look, see and experience Your goodness when we run to You. Thank You that You are our refuge and our strength. Thank You that Your faithfulness knows no end. Thank You that You are loving and kind, and have our very best in mind. Forgive us for our fears and anxiousness with the things that we cannot control. Teach us to trust You more, as You go before us and remain with us, all the days of our lives. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your goodness and faithfulness in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we taste and see how good You are, and take refuge in You, our blessed Redeemer. Amen.

 

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

 

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds. – Psalm 73:28

Unshakable

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. – (Hebrews 12:28, NIV)

So we should be thankful because we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And because we are thankful, we should worship God in a way that will please Him. We should do this with respect and fear. – (Hebrews 12:28, ERV)

Therefore, let us all be thankful that we are a part of an unshakable Kingdom and offer to God worship that pleases Him and reflects the awe and reverence we have toward Him. – (Hebrews 12:28, VOICE)

 

When a Tuesday feels like a Thursday, with the promise of an early end for tomorrow’s Friday-like Wednesday, it is a bit of a reminder of the kingdom we are receiving that cannot be shaken. For me, my hope, energy and resolve are far greater on mornings where I wake up and recognize the short span of time required before the reward of being reunited with my loved ones living a state away comes to fruition. Any time that we recognize hope, joy, love, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and faithfulness, we are witnessing the very ways of God granted to us; perhaps a sort of preview of a whisper of the good that is yet to come. For “… as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ – the things God has prepared for those who love Him. (1 Corinthians 2:9) I don’t know about you, but I can imagine great beauty and peaceful places, so a space that exceeds what my mind can conceive is certainly one that inspires awe and reverence for God, our Creator. He who loves us so much that He is not only be present with us here, but has prepared a place for us to be with Him forever, deserves all of our gratitude and praise. May we ever be thankful that we are part of the unshakable Kingdom that is found in Christ, and in response, let us offer worship to God that is pleasing and reflective of our awe and reverence toward Him.

 

May we all give thanks, img_2019-11-26_05-10-535163374786376449669.jpg

For the hope we hold;

Forever with God,

The truth our hearts know.

In awe and wonder,

Let our praises raise;

For God’s faithfulness,

Throughout all our days.

Strength when we’re weary,

Hope in our despair;

Peace in the chaos,

Boundless love to share.

Rise up and give thanks,

For all yet to come;

His love, unending,

Hope’s priceless outcome.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your kingdom cannot be shaken. Thank You that You alone, are worthy of all of our worship and praise. Thank You that as we come before You with reverence and awe, You meet us and are faithful forever. Forgive us for our fears and doubts in times when things seem unsteady. Teach us to trust in You, our unshakable, everlasting God who saves. Show us how to love those around us in ways that encourage, strengthen and lift up the weary, making Your goodness and grace evident through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our thanks for who You are and the hope we hold in You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. – 2 Thessalonians 2:16

As Seed Are Sown

Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” – (Matthew 13:3-8, NIV)

 

Last Sunday, our pastor spoke on this particular parable. As he unpacked the meaning, he suggested the notion that perhaps it was not illustrating four different types of hearers of the word, but instead, it represents each of us at different stages of our relationship with God, or in different areas of our lives. There are indeed times when we are so closed off that words spoken, simply fall to the ground as if they had never been said. The second sort of soil, that which was shallow and rocky, mirrors our hearts when we hear the words, want to do well, but do nothing to invest to allow what we hear to take root. It is our desire for gratification without dedication, and it does not bring growth to fruition. When we are not rooted, the storms that come can destroy us. Seed among thorns is when the word of God is competing with the weight of the world that we attempt to bear. Worries will choke out all that is good if we do not allow God to be the gardener who prunes and pulls out that which does not belong in our lives. Finally, the seed that is sown on good soil is the word of God that we allow to enter our heart and act upon it. It is an ongoing investment in relationship with God and a choice to be intentional to spend time in His word, in worship and in prayer. As we know Him more, we more clearly reflect His heart to those around us. When others see His heart through us, that is when they too, desire to know the One who loves us so. May we ever seek the Lord to soften the soil of our heart and keep the rocks and worries that become barriers far from us, so that we may learn and grow and love others as we are loved by Him.

 

Let seed that are sown, How Faith Grows

Land on fertile soil;

Soften my heart, Lord,

Let not Your seed spoil.

For Your words are life,

Your love shows the way;

As we seek You more,

We trust and obey.

All time spent with You,

Helps us better know;

The gift of Your grace,

You grant us to grow.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You tend to our heart as we seek You and spend time with You. Forgive us for the times that we have been hard-hearted, shallow, or allowed the worries of the world to reign rather than You. Teach us to trust You more, as You are greater than anything that we face. Help us to prioritize our time to invest in knowing You more and loving those around us well. Show us how to love all whom we encounter in a way that ultimately points their hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as You tend to the soil of our hearts, and nurture growth as we allow You to water and care for the things that You so intentionally plant within us to nourish those around us. Amen.

 

 

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

You pour rain on the plowed fields; You soak the fields with water. You make the ground soft with rain, and You make the young plants grow. – Psalm 65:10

Love Extends

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

Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. – (Ephesians 4:2, TLB)

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

 

Love extends patience and acceptance in humility and gentleness, always. We are called to love in the same way that Christ loves each of us. The Lord does not limit His love according to who we are or how we measure up, rather He loves generously, patiently, and accepts us each as we come before Him. So often we fall short of truly walking out our days according to His ways, yet He remains gentle and patient with us, as He lovingly redirects our steps. Our charge, is to do the same. I appreciate the phrasing of The Passions Translation so much, as it is phrased in a way that feels veritably relevant in my world of working with middle school students, who at times, tax my patience. We are called to love as Christ loves us. No limits. No exceptions. To do so requires humility, patience, gentleness and generous love. May we seek the Lord, who in His gentle kindness, loves us so well that we are equipped to go and love likewise.

 

Tender and gentle, Pursue Righteousness and Love

Humble and choose kind;

It’s how we’re to love,

All of human kind.

God’s love is lavish,

Full of patience too;

As we seek His heart,

His love is made new.

So, let us go forth,

And love like the Lord;

May all come to know,

How much they’re adored.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved us. Thank You that as we seek You and depend on You, You equip us to love with patience, gentleness and humility. Thank You that Your love can flow through us, if only we are willing. Forgive us for the times that our own agendas or egos have been barriers to bestowing love upon those who needed it most. Teach us to trust and rely on You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love gently and humbly, with patience, even toward those who try our patience the most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to lead us to love in the same way that You so wonderfully love each of us. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth (Moreno) 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

Trust at All Times

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. – (Romans 8:37, NLT)

But in all these troubles we have complete victory through God, who has shown His love for us. – (Romans 8:37, ERV)

Yet even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and His demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything! – (Romans 8:37, TPT)

 

When trials and challenges come our way, we need not fear, for He has given us victory in all things through Christ who loves us. Yesterday, as I walked through the process of oral surgery, this held true for me in a wonderful way. I am not necessarily fearful, but rather one who dreads anything dental, as they can never keep my mouth numb throughout an entire procedure. With conscious sedation, though there were points in the process that I could feel a bit, I was comfortable enough that it was not a problem, and the entire process was over fairly quickly. Additionally, my loving husband took the day off to take me to my appointment, wait there for me during the process, and be with me to bring me home and care for me. God provided all that I needed and more. Though my challenge was fairly trivial compared to some that people endure, it demonstrates how much He cares, even in the small things. May we ever seek the Lord in every trial and challenge we face, for victory comes through Him who loves us more than we can comprehend.

 

The Lord’s ever near,

Come with me

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Our help and our hope;

He grants victory,

With our fears, He’ll cope.

He provides His help,

And a hand to hold;

Takes our hand and heart,

To help us be bold.

By His loving grace,

In strength we shall rise;

Able to go forth,

Without compromise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You meet us wherever we are, no matter what lies before us, and You are willing to be our hope, help and strength. Thank You that we never have to face anything alone. Forgive us for our fearfulness in the face of the unknown. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone already know every outcome and are greater than anything that lies before us. Show us how to walk beside others in love as they face the seemingly impossible that lies before them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize the love and strength that comes from You alone. Be glorified O God, as we learn to trust You in all things at all times. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  – 1 Corinthians 13:7

Praise Even When

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. – (Romans 5:3-5, NLT)

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary – we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! – (Romans 5:3-5, MSG)

 

I am certain that I have read this passage at least a dozen times before, but for some reason, this morning, it is sinking in a bit differently. Perhaps it is through reading The Message translation, as it speaks of praising “even when we’re hemmed in with troubles” rather than “rejoicing when we run into problems and trials”. Personally, my mind can conceive the even so concept, as God is good even when our circumstances are not, and I know that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Each trial that we traverse, every struggle He grants us strength to navigate, further grow our faith and help our hope the next time we face difficulties. When we look back on where He has brought us from, we can see the overwhelming faithfulness of God and the generous outpouring of love lavished upon us by His Holy Spirit. May we ever give praise to He who is always worthy, as He is the one who supplies the strength and endurance needed to navigate each challenge, as He pours into our lives, His love.

 

In midst of trial,

DSC04506

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

We can, even so;

Give praise unto God,

For His love we know.

He’s faithful to help,

Grants strength as we go;

Our reason for hope,

Sure truth that we know.

Troubles grow patience,

That helps us endure;

Confidence in hope,

As His love’s secure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have reason to praise You no matter what troubles or trials we face because You are good and You will use all things to grow us in You. Thank You that troubles develop endurance and strength of character so that we may more clearly reflect Your heart to the world. Forgive us for fleeing the fire before us, rather than facing the fight in Your strength as You hold us in Your hands. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive all that You generously give as we go through the highs and lows of life. Show us how to love well all those whom we encounter, so that they may see glimpses of Your heart for them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You on every step of our path as You provide Your presence and Your peace. Amen.

 

 

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

 

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Love Comes Near

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. – (John 13:34, NLT) 

I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I love 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) 

 

On the same night that Jesus was betrayed, He shared a last meal together with His disciples. After they had eaten, He spoke the words above to them. Each of the disciples had walked with, learned from, listened to, and had seen with their own eyes and experienced for themselves how deeply and completely Jesus loved. When He spoke the words, they understood what Jesus was calling them to do. In the same way, we are commanded and called to love. We are not called to set limits and qualifications as to whom and how we love, but rather we are called to love one another deeply and fully, just as Jesus loves each of us. It is not always an easy calling, but it is always worthwhile when we follow through. His love makes way where there seems to be no way and softens even the hardest of hearts. May we rise up and be ready to forge forward in faith and love one another in the same way that He loves each of us. 

 

We have been given, Ambassadors of Love

A command to love; 

To love like Jesus, 

As He so loves us. 

Love that is faithful, 

Trustworthy, sincere; 

That’s freely given, 

And chooses come near. 

Love without limits, 

Nor rules to receive; 

By grace, it’s given, 

Because we believe. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithful and generous love for each of us. Thank You that You both call and command us to love one another as we are loved by You. Thank You that You equip and empower us to give the very same love that we have received to all whom we encounter. Forgive us for withholding love in spaces where it is needed most. Teach us to trust You more, as You loved us when we were most unlovable so that we could do the same for others. Show us how to love like You, so that many may come to know the depth and fullness of Your lavish love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fill us to overflowing so that we may go forth and love others as we are loved by You. Amen. 

 

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

 

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

Our Strength and Safety

You are my strength, I sing praise to You; You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely. – (Psalm 59:17, NIV) 

I will sing praises to You, my Source of strength. You, God, are my place of safety. You are the God who loves me! – (Psalm 59:17, ERV) 

O my Strength, to You I sing my praises; for You are my high tower of safety, my God of mercy. – (Psalm 59:17, TLB) 

 

This morning, I wake with nervous excitement, as it will be the first day that we will practice together as an entire team. Veteran players will join us rookies as we take the field today, and the intensity with which we have been working, will surely increase even more. Physically, God has been my strength, and I have felt good, however, remembering all of the plays is a challenge, and my mind often draws a blank when I need to recall. With praise on my heart for the opportunity for the new, I will continue to review that which I need to know and trust the process. May we ever seek the One who is our strength and safety and give praise to God who loves us and on whom we can depend. 

 

O God, You’re my strength, You Make Me Strong

My hope, help and song; 

I bring You my praise, 

Through all the day long. 

You are my safety, 

You bless me with peace; 

In You I can trust, 

As grace You release. 

Help me to rise up, 

In Your strength and grace; 

Protected in power, 

To run well this race. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength and our safety, as You love of best. Thank You for the opportunity for new things, and for strong healthy bodies that can do so much more than we would have thought or imagined. Forgive us for not seeking You to be our strength, or for avoiding the new that You bring us to out of fear. Teach us to trust You more, as You supply all that we need to do the new that we are brought into. Be our strength and safety, Lord. Show us how to love and encourage one another, so that we each might find the strength and courage to rise up and be who You have created us to become. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the strength and safety that You supply and give thanks for Your faithful love. Amen. 

 

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

 

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Hope Postponed

Hope postponed grieves the heart… – (Proverbs 13:12a, NLT)

 

I know far too many folks who are in the midst of a season of grief. The hope that they had held, seems to be slipping away. Such enormous grief accompanies the loss of something that was held in hope for so long, that to the one who is grieving, it feels as if the weight will never relent. As one who has walked through that space of postponed hope and overwhelming grief, I can attest to the promise that He hears and provides comfort as He loves us back to life once again. Where hope was buried in the burden of pain, God gave comfort and restored the hope that was all but lost. One breath at a time, one moment, one hour, one day… Each a provision of the hand of the Lord to restore what was lost and broken, as He continually loved. May our prayer mirror that of Psalm 10:17, that states, “Lord, You know the hopes of the helpless. Surely You will hear their cries and comfort them.”

 

When death’s ugly door,Asking for Amazing Answers

Stares you in the face;

There’s nowhere to run,

No place that seems safe.

Yet despite hope lost,

We may rest assured;

When we are in Christ,

Our hope is secured.

No matter the height,

Nor depth that we fall;

In Christ there is hope,

To overcome all.

For He is our Rock,

Redeemer and friend;

Pulls us from the pit,

With us to the end.

Though sorrow may come,

Our hope shall remain;

Forever in Christ,

As we trust His Name.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that despite how we feel, our hope remains in You. Thank You that in the midst of trials, grief and struggles, You are our anchor that keeps us secure. Thank You that You hear every cry and provide comfort to those who call on You. Forgive us for losing sight of hope in You when our grief is great. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on the truth of what is known, rather than what is simply seen. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they would come to know that there is always hope in You who hears every cry. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call on You for comfort in our grief, and seek You in our struggles. Be our hope to hold forever, Lord God. Amen.

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

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14