Extraordinary Through the Ordinary

And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” – (Luke 1:28, HCSB)

The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord is with you; you are very special to Him.” – (Luke 1:28, ERV)

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Rejoice, beloved young woman, for the Lord is with you and you are anointed with great favor.” – (Luke 1:28, TPT)

I imagine this whole experience was a bit surreal to Mary. A visit from a messenger of God, followed by words that called you favored and anointed. She was a young girl, likely in her mid-teens, and engaged to be married. Was she an ordinary girl with extraordinary faith? Or perhaps there was something in her heart of worship that demonstrated her faithful and willing heart that was ready to respond with her very best yes? Either way, of all the women of child-bearing age in the world, God saw and chose her to carry His Son. As we gain further glimpses of her heart through the conception, development in the womb, time of arrival, and throughout the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, her character is revealed as one who is ever faithful to the Lord. She had extraordinary insight into who God is through a seemingly ordinary life. Mary witnessed God in everyday circumstances as she raised Jesus, who was without sin. There were many reasons to rejoice throughout her entire experience, yet there were times of great grief as well. Ultimately, she came to know and understand the plan and purpose of the promised baby that would become the Savior of the world. May we reflect with awe and wonder at the amazing ways that God came near to ordinary people to show us His great love.

Called highly favored,

Chosen to be blessed;

A holy calling,

That might cause a mess.

A virgin promised,

To Joseph to wed;

Yet called to be more,

As the angel said.

God knew the people,

Who’d answer the call;

Despite how things looked,

To one and to all.

Ever He’s faithful,

The Lord God above;

Who sent us His Son,

To show us His love.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do extraordinary things through ordinary people who are willing to say yes to You and the plans You have. Thank You that You sent Your Son through ordinary people with extraordinary faith. Forgive us for our fear and lack of faith when things we know we ought to do seem inconceivable. Teach us to trust You to lead us in all that You have for us, and to trust that Your plans are for good. Show us how to love and honor You in all that we say and do, and help us to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the amazing things You do through ordinary people who trust You well. Amen.

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

Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let this thing you have said happen to me!” Then the angel went away. – Luke 1:38

All That We Can

When it is in your power, don’t withhold good from the one it belongs to. – (Proverbs 3:27, HCSB)

Do everything you possibly can for those who need help. – (Proverbs 3:27, ERV)

Do not withhold what is good from those who deserve it; if it is within your power to give it, do it. – (Proverbs 3:27, VOICE)

The thing is, we can always give good. Our kindness, attention and grace cost us nothing, yet provide much to those who need it most. God is the ultimate giver of all good, and we are called to love in the same way. Sometimes, it is through tangible giving of things, yet often, it is our time, energy and love that are truly needed. As we seek the Lord and receive His goodness and grace, we are compelled to love those around us in the same way. During this most wonderful season, there are always needs to be met. It is up to us to look around us and do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are. May we open our eyes to see the need around us and do what we can to give good to all.

Lord, open our eyes,

So that we may see;

The needs we can meet,

By grace, faithfully.

Teach us to choose love,

To honor and serve;

To love as we’re loved,

Kindness not deserved.

For all deserve good,

Not for what’s been done;

But rather because,

We’re daughters and sons.

All of creation,

You’ve made and called good;

So help us to love,

Each one as we should.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and give good gifts, not because we deserve them, but because we are Yours. Thank You that You call us to do the same. Forgive us for neglecting to do the good that we can, and lead us in Your love to give of our time, talents and resources wherever You ask. Teach us to trust You more, so that we can love those around us as You first loved us. Show us how to love like You wherever we go. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we do everything we possibly can, with what we have, wherever we are. Amen.

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

The Lord of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion for one another. – Zechariah 7:9

Hope to Hold

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe. – (Hebrews 12:28, HCSB)

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)

Since we are receiving our rights to an unshakable kingdom we should be extremely thankful and offer God the purest worship that delights His heart as we lay down our lives in absolute surrender, filled with awe. – (Hebrews 12:28, TPT)

I am so thankful for a well-timed break and for the gift of family and friends. Each time we gather and recognize our blessings, we gain glimpses of the hope we hold in Christ. His Kingdom cannot be shaken and is our hope both now and forevermore. Though yesterday did not look like our usual Thanksgiving gatherings, it was good and we are blessed to have each other. Our tradition for the last many years has been to gather at my sister and brother-in-love’s home with our mom. Sadly, with our kids working, logistics to coordinate with mom on such a long drive, and my nephew’s short time home from Bemidji, we all had to opt to stay home. Our dear, life-long friends and former neighbors from our entire childhood, hosted and welcomed mom to their gathering. They are family, and blessed all of us in knowing that mom would be with loved ones. Today, my love and I will make a quick trip to see mom too. Though it is not the same as our traditional whole family gathering, it is time together. Incredibly, that which is yet to come will not require us to choose and coordinate, but rather we will all be together in the presence of the One who gives us all. That hope is reason to give thanks. In the waiting, all praise belongs to Him who sits on the throne, for it is in Him and through Him that we can live and love a life that honors Him with all that we are. May our hearts be overflowing with love and gratitude as we recognize and honor the One who gives every good and perfect gift.

Give thanks to the Lord,

Thanksgiving past… ❤

For His loving grace;

The hope we now hold,

Throughout all our days.

Glimpses of goodness,

His blessings outpoured;

Not what we pictured,

Yet in Him, it’s more.

The love of the Lord,

Our hope forever;

Help, strength, love and life,

Goodness, so tender.

May we choose give thanks,

Today and always;

God’s love does not end,

So let us sing praise.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always good and our hope in You never ends. Thank You that no matter what happens in the here and now, Your kingdom cannot be shaken. Our hope is secure and Your love knows no end. Forgive us for our frustrations and sorrow when things do not work out the way we had hoped. Teach us to trust and praise You in all things and at all times, for You are always good. Show us how to love those around us best, for it is You who grant us kindness, peace, patience and love to pass on. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give all thanks and praise to You for the hope we have in You. Amen.

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

Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

Encourage Each Other

But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. – (Hebrews 3:13, HCSB)

But encourage each other every day, while you still have something called “today”. Help each other so that none of you will be fooled by sin and become too hard to change. – (Hebrews 3:13, ERV)

Encourage each other every day – for as long as we can still say “today” – so none of you let the deceitfulness of sin harden your hearts. – (Hebrews 3:13, VOICE)

We need each other to be the best version of ourselves. God intentionally created us for community so that we might encourage one another to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. As we do, we are aware of the things that try to pull us away from the path that He has placed us on and are equipped to love and navigate well. Incredibly, the more we encourage others, the more we discover that we too are encouraged in the process. May we ever seek the Lord to point us to those who need encouragement and to give us the words that lift others up best.

Today is the day,

We’ve been called to love;

To lift others up,

Point hearts to above.

Encouraging words,

We choose to speak well;

Bring hope and resolve,

With goodness we tell.

Let’s help each other,

Walk in the Lord’s way;

With love and kindness,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us for community and surround us with those who love and help encourage us to follow after and stay true to You. Forgive us for our attempts to navigate on our own. Teach us to trust You more and to invest well in the relationships that You bless us with. Lead us to love and encourage those around us in ways that fend off the temptations to go astray. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to be an encouragement to those around us daily. Amen.

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

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Unknown Open Doors

“Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” – (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV)

“…Pray to Me, and I will answer you. I will tell you important secrets. You have never heard these things before.” – (Jeremiah 33:3, ERV)

“Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” – (Jeremiah 33:3, MSG)

Though this passage is a message that God gave to Jeremiah while he was shackled and guarded in captivity, the message remains true for us, no matter our circumstances. God is the God of all wisdom, understanding and insight. Though Jeremiah and his people were in a dismal situation, God spoke promises of what was yet to come. His plans and purposes for the people did not end in captivity, but rather in being rebuilt and free. In the same way, God has a plan and purpose for us. No matter what we have been through, are going through, or face in the future, God will grant us wisdom and understanding to navigate each step, and to walk forward into the hope He has for us all. May we ever call on the Lord to lead us well, for He is faithful to teach us and reveal to us that which we need to know to keep moving forward into all that is yet to come.

Choose call on the Lord,

Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

He’s faithful to tell;

The wonderful things,

That help us live well.

God in His wisdom,

Reveals unto us;

Unsearchable things,

He hears our requests.

No matter what is,

In Christ, there is more;

Through love He reveals,

Unknown open doors.

In struggle, seek Him,

In strength, give Him praise;

Pursue His wisdom,

To walk out each day.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek You, You reveal new wisdom and insight that grant us hope and equip us for all that comes our way. Forgive us for allowing our present circumstances to limit our faith. Teach us to turn to You and pray, for You are faithful to show us what we need to know to keep moving forward in the direction You have called us. Lead us to love those around us well, so that Your goodness and grace are evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call on You and trust You to give us wisdom and insight as to how to continue in the direction You have called us. Amen.

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

Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. – Jeremiah 29:12

Success in Our Savior

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. – (1 Corinthians 15:57, NIV)

But we thank God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! – (1 Corinthians 15:57, ERV)

But we thank God for giving us the victory as conquerors through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. – (1 Corinthians 15:57, TPT)

There are times when we are moving forward, ever seeking to do what we are meant to do, and still obstacles come our way. It does not mean we are off course; often it is an indication that there is more that God wants to show or teach us as we press on. He does not cause frustrating things to stand in our way, but He does allow mountains and valleys before us to show His strength that equips us to overcome as we seek Him. One of my goals before my “big” birthday this summer is to run a marathon. About six weeks ago, I fractured all three bones in my little toe. This created a month-long hiatus from running, and some serious frustration. Over the last week or so, I had finally been able to get back to running and was working to rebuild endurance. On my first run back at it, we ended up running our usual pace (prior to the fracture) and I was encouraged and grateful for God’s grace and faithfulness. Fast forward to Friday evening, and out of nowhere I felt feverish and had a sore throat. I was supposed to get a long run in over the weekend, and at long last, return to teaching on campus. Sadly, neither took place, and I am again deterred by a setback. Thankfully, this race we are running is not a sprint, but is an ultra marathon. It requires ongoing forward momentum, even if our steps seem miniscule. God is faithful and grants us victory in Christ. This season may look nothing like I had hoped or imagined, but I know that He is good and will lead me forward according to His plan. He knows the desires of my heart and will not leave me or forsake me. I know not what victory in Him will look like in this season, but I know that God is good. Each new day, I will trust Him to lead me forward, and be my strength to keep moving in the right direction. May we ever thank the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness, for we have the ultimate victory in Him.

All thanks be to God,

Our true victory;

For He is our strength,

The One that we need.

No matter the course,

Our race seems to take;

God will be faithful,

With goodness and grace.

Setbacks and detours,

And bumps in the road;

He grants us His strength,

Helps carry the load.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that no matter what comes our way, You are faithful to be present and see us through. Thank You that even when obstacles lie before us, the road You have set us on remains the same. Forgive us for our frustration with setbacks and obstacles that come our way. Teach us to trust You to remain faithful as You lead us forward, despite how things appear. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us as they run the race that You have set before them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to successfully lead us along the path You have placed before us; for victory is already ours in Christ. Amen.

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

Indeed our shield belongs to the Lord, our King to the Holy One of Israel. – Psalm 89:18

Lead Us In Love

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. – (1 John 4:12, NIV)

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us. If we love each other, God’s love has reached its goal – it is made perfect in us. – (1 John 4:12, ERV)

No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor. But if we love one another, God makes His permanent home in us, and we make our permanent home in Him, and His love is brought to its full expression in us. – (1 John 4:12, TPT)

Though we have not seen God, His evidence is all around us. The more we love, the more God is made evident through our love. When we are in relationship with the living God, He comes and lives in us and loves through us. Despite our flaws and shortcomings, His goodness, kindness, love and grace become visible as we love each other. Lord, teach us to love one another so that Your love may be brought to its full expression.

Though we have not seen,

The Lord face to face;

His love is made clear,

As we see His grace.

Our hearts are His home,

When invited in;

And our hope made known,

Through His love within.

Goodness and kindness,

His love and His grace;

Received and given,

To make known His ways.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved us so that we might in turn, love one another. Thank You that though we have not seen You, we may come to know You as we pursue a relationship with You. Thank You that You make Your love known to us and through us as we continue to invest in You. Forgive us for not loving as You love. Teach us to love like You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend hope, grace, goodness and kindness, making the depth of Your love clear to all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us in love. Amen.

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

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. – Romans 14:19

Magnificent Multiplication

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them. Then He gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. – (Luke 9:16, NIV)

Then Jesus took the five loaves of bread and two fish. He looked up into the sky and thanked God for the food. Then He broke it into pieces, which He gave to the followers to give to the people. – (Luke 9:16, ERV)

Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, and gazing into the heavenly realm He gave thanks for the food. Then, in the presence of His disciples, He broke off pieces of bread and fish, and kept giving more to each disciple to give to the crowd. It was multiplying before their eyes! – (Luke 9:16, TPT)

As I read the ninth chapter of Luke, I paused and pondered what it must have been like for the disciples and the crowd when Jesus told His followers to feed thousands from five loaves of bread and two fish. My wonder went beyond the miracle and I simply tried to imagine what it would have been to be present. Did the food multiply as He prayed, or did they begin distributing the bread and fish and it simply kept regenerating as they passed portions? The Passions Translation grants my imagination free reign, as I sit in awe and wonder at He who took a little and made it into much, much more. I think that really is the point that we are meant to gain from this account of what transpired – that when we are willing to give God what we have, no matter how little, He can multiply it exponentially for the greater good. In this season of both shut down and of celebration, how can we bring God what we have to see Him multiply it for good? There are opportunities everywhere; from giving trees, to food banks, to local schools, to the elderly and the lonely… May we ever seek the Lord to direct our steps, and with willing hearts, offer what we have for Him to multiply and bless many.

Lord, I stand in awe,

At all that You do;

As You take little,

To bless through and through.

Show us how to give,

Trust all in Your hands;

Know that You will use,

Each gift as You’ve planned.

Every resource,

Time, talent and gifts;

Can be used by God,

To touch and uplift.

Let us choose offer,

What we’re called to give;

Watch Him multiply,

In love as we live.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You can take whatever we bring and multiply it to bless many. Thank You that You have shown us what it is to trust and walk by faith, understanding the incredible power of Your love. Forgive us for withholding what we have known we were meant to give. Show us how to bring You our time, talent and resources so that many may come to know the fullness of Your love. Lead us to love those around us well. Instruct us as to how we can give. Please multiply all for the good of those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we bring what we have to offer, trusting that You will use what we give in far greater ways than we could ever imagine. Amen.

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

He gives strength to the weary and increases power of the weak. – Isaiah 40:29

Light My Path

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. – (Psalm 119:105, NIV)

Your word is like a lamp that guides my steps, a light that shows the path I should take. – (Psalm 119:105, ERV)

Truth’s shining light guides me in my choices and decisions; the revelation of Your word makes my pathway clear. – (Psalm 119:105, TPT)

The more that we spend time in God’s word, the brighter the light within us, and the clearer His path for us becomes. God is ready and willing to guide our every step on the path He has set before us, however, we must seek Him and spend time in His word to clearly know the ways we are meant to go. Often, what we see seems good through our own lens, yet through His, there may be reason and purpose that we are called in a different direction. For me, His wisdom and grace make all the difference as I run my own race. When I am in tune with Him and His will, I am acutely aware of His nearness and have peace on the path I am taking. It does not mean that the way is always smooth or simple, but it does mean that I am aware of His presence, even when the terrain becomes more than I can navigate with my own skill set. He is good, and He lead and equips us where He calls us. May we ever seek the Lord and spend time in His word, for He is the lamp that guides our steps and the light that illuminates which way we are to go.

O Lord, we seek You,

And study Your word;

For Your voice is clear,

As Your truth is heard.

Please show us the ways,

You want us to go;

Lead us in the truth,

So Your light may show.

Illuminate well,

The paths we’re to take;

Equip and lead us,

Keep love wide awake.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Thank You that as we seek You and spend time in Your word, You show us the ways we are meant to go. Thank You that even when the road is rough or the terrain is beyond what we can navigate on our own, You are with us and equip us so that we may continue in the direction You are leading. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed fear or doubt to keep us from moving forward where You are leading. Teach us to trust and seek You for clear direction. Show us how to love those around us well, so that Your light shines before all whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and spend time in Your word to gain clear direction for our every step. 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

Good Plans

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) 

“I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, ERV) 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope – never forget that.” – (Jeremiah 29:11, VOICE) 

I’m not sure about you, but I really appreciate this reminder today. It is a blustery day outside, I woke up tired, and was feeling a bit weighed down by the challenges and obstacles that are ahead of me. Sometimes, I think I just need to be reminded that He has so much more in store – for me, for my family, for the people around me whom I love. Just because I cannot see the hope and future in situations and circumstances, does not mean that it is not there. In hindsight, I can see again and again, how God made a way where there seemed to be no way, and how He brought beauty from seeming ashes and despair. Our present circumstances and challenges are not forever. Though at times it may feel like a very long season, God has a plan that is good. Today, I will simply soak in the promise that He knows the plans that He has for me, (and those around me) and that they are good. May we ever trust in the Lord and His promises, for He already knows how the story ends, and it is good. 

The Lord has a plan, 

And it’s always good; 

With our best in mind, 

Our hope understood. 

For His plan is peace, 

Not evil nor harm; 

Our glorious hope, 

Through life’s ev’ry storm. 

Choose be not dismayed, 

For in Him hope’s found; 

A future that’s good, 

Where peace does abound. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that no matter what we see or feel, You have a hope and a future for us that is good. Thank You that Your promises are true today, tomorrow and forever. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to distort our view of You. Teach us to lean into You and the promises that You have for us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate hope and peace and goodness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to Your promises that remind us that You have plans for us that are good. Amen. 

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

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:5