Acutely Aware of Good

I will praise You with an upright heart as I learn Your righteous laws. – (Psalm 119:7, NIV) 

The more I understand how fair Your laws are, the more sincerely I will praise You. – (Psalm 119:7, ERV) 

With a pure heart, I will give thanks to You when I hear about Your just and fair rulings. – (Psalm 119:7, VOICE) 

Every time I get out in nature, I become acutely aware of God’s goodness and grace. Everything He asks of us is wrapped up in love – our call is to love Him and love people. If we do that, we are following His law with an upright heart. Incredibly, He loved us first; so much so, that He created beauty all around us and in us, simply to show us His love. This weekend, my family is blessed with time to get away to the woods and enjoy time together. Yesterday afternoon, my love and I took Thor, our nearly five-month-old lab puppy for a little hike around and down to a lake. It was the first time that he has been to a lake, and I don’t think his tail stopped wagging the entire time he waded in the water. Last evening, before we retired for the night, Thor met Raven, a four-month-old female lab, and the two of them were completely smitten with one another. I guess where I am going with this, is that pups love purely. Thor loves being outdoors in His creation, and loves people and other pups with a relentless, unwavering love. Observing the world through his eyes grants me an even deeper appreciation for God and His goodness to us all. May we ever seek the Lord to understand more deeply, the overwhelming passion with which He loves us all. Let our hearts praise Him with every breath and step that we take; for He is so very good. 

May each heart give praise, 

All thanks unto You; 

For justice and love, 

As Your ways are true. 

You call us to love, 

Yourself and others; 

Relentlessly shown, 

Sisters and brothers. 

All of creation, 

Demonstrates His love; 

If we look around, 

And praise Him above. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and gracious, and that which You ask of us is right and fair. Forgive us for the times that our words, thoughts or deeds have not reflected the love You call us to give. Teach us to love with an upright heart, and to give You praise throughout all of our days. Show us how to love You and those around us the way that You call us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your goodness and love forever. Amen. 

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

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. – Romans 1:20

Remembering Goodness Gone By

I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all Your works and consider what Your hands have done. – (Psalm 143:5, NIV) 

But I remember what happened long ago. I am thinking about all You have done. I am talking about what You made with Your hands! – (Psalm 143:5, ERV) 

I remember the glorious miracles of days gone by, and I often think of all the wonders of old. – (Psalm 143:5, TPT) 

Taking time to remember and reflect on all that God has done in the past, reminds us of the power He has for whatever we are walking through right now. David, who penned Psalm 143, knew well of God’s miracles and faithfulness. He was a boy who was anointed king in his youth, yet did not take the throne for several more years. Additionally, David was a shepherd, and he had killed lions that tried to take his sheep, as God strengthened and empowered him. The Lord protected and preserved David’s life on many occasions, and he knew full well of the works of God’s hands. As a person who has known and loved God for as long as I can remember, I need only pause for a moment before I am flooded with memories of God’s miracles in my own life, and in the lives of those around me. Pausing and reflecting is a wonderful way to find faith restored in weariness, and trust fine-tuned in trying times. God is good, and He is faithful forever. May we ever make time to reflect and remember God’s faithfulness throughout the ages; for the same God who parted the sea, makes a way for you and me. 

May our hearts hold fast, 

To all that God’s done; 

From all creation, 

To each setting sun. 

The strength and courage, 

All that He provides; 

Faithful He loves us, 

Ever by our side. 

Look back in wonder, 

And see all the ways; 

He has been faithful, 

Throughout all our days. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love is evident throughout the ages. Thank You that when we look back, we can see the evidence of Your hand – moving, holding, helping and healing. Thank You that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Forgive us for neglecting to reflect on Your heart for us throughout the ages, as it is through observing Your goodness in days gone by, we gain hope for Your faithfulness in the future. Teach us to trust You more, as we pause and remember all of Your goodness and grace. Show us how to love those around us in ways that bless them today, and give them hope for the days that are yet to come. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pause and remember the work of Your hands, gaining renewed resolve for Your presence in all that is yet to come. Amen. 

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

I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You have established Your faithfulness in heaven itself. – Psalm 89:2

Gentle Answers

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – (Proverbs 15:1, NIV) 

A gentle answer makes anger disappear, but a rough answer makes it grow. – (Proverbs 15:1, ERV) 

A gentle answer defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. – (Proverbs 15:1, MSG) 

How can we answer gently defuse the anger that is ravaging our cities? I wish I had the perfect answer that would restore order and peace. However, I recognize that there is no simple answer nor quick fix. This morning, I came across a powerful message from a woman of color , Nicole Walters, who gave me far deeper insight into what is going on. What if the protesting that has turned violent by some comes from a long-standing space of grief? Grief for the way that the world perceives individuals, based solely on the color of their skin. What if, after a lifetime of both observing and living this reality, the one more thing brought an end to the quiet peaceful ways of seeking right where so much is wrong, and what we are witnessing is screaming for our attention? No longer can we stay silent. We must listen and learn. In the same way the colonists attempted to peacefully right the wrongs imposed by authorities subjecting the citizens to unfair taxes, by letter writing, petitioning, and the like, they hit a point of being ignored, unheard, for far too long, and The Boston Tea Party took place. Rather than continue to be taxed on tea, they snuck aboard the ship and threw that tea into the harbor. Fires were ablaze, and civil unrest rose up. Enough was enough. What is going on now, is not so different. Preventable tragedies and gross atrocities continue to take place against people of color, and enough is enough. No, looting is not the answer, yet it has certainly demanded our attention. Each one of us needs to look at our own lens, and recognize where cleaning needs to occur. Sometimes, the lack of clarity of our view, comes from an unintentional ignorance. The more we know, the better we can become at loving our neighbors, our brothers and sisters, the way that God intended. Love always protects. If we begin to listen and learn and answer gently, with the wisdom and grace that God provides, then perhaps the anger will be defused and peace may begin to be restored. This begins with me. I love deeply, and value everyone. That being said, I must be intentional to become more aware, and learn how to love better. This is not meant to be some sort of soap box post, but rather one of recognition and repentance for not knowing what I have not clearly known. As a woman who loves Jesus, a mother, a teacher, and a friend, change begins with me. There is always more to learn to do better and be better. My job demands that I listen and learn, evolve and grow – in each of my roles; for each position give me a unique voice and the ability to impact those around me. May we seek the Lord for wisdom as we are intentional to listen and learn, so that we may act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God as we are called. 

O Lord, here am I, 

On true bended knees; 

Asking for wisdom, 

So I clearly see. 

Please open my eyes, 

To where I’ve been blind; 

Lead me to better, 

Show me Your design. 

Help me to act justly, 

To love with mercy; 

May I humbly walk, 

Promote equity. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You continue to grow us as we are willing to listen and learn. Thank You that You have created each of us with gifts and talents to share with and positively impact the world. Forgive us for our ignorance or places where we have not viewed the world through Your lens. Teach us to continue to intentionally learn and grow, so that we may more clearly reflect Your love and light unto the world. Show us how to love those around us best, so that all people feel valued, heard, and known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to listen and learn, so that we may always answer gently and help defuse anger with love. Amen. 

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

Human, the Lord has told you what goodness is. This is what He wants from you: Be fair to other people. Love kindness and loyalty, and humbly obey your God. – Micah 6:8

Confident Trust

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – (Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. – (Hebrews 11:1, ERV)

Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen. – (Hebrews 11:1, VOICE)

 

Though the last six weeks have often times felt like an eternity, I am assured and have faith, that our current circumstances will not last forever. I have confident hope that though I cannot yet see an end in sight, there is one. Incredibly, with God, we can be confident now in His presence AND in all that is yet to come. Though we do not see Him, the evidence of His existence is all around us. It takes but a moment of observing creation and His created, to recognize His divine handiwork on display. May we seek the Lord to grow our faith, so that we might have confident hope – absolute conviction, in the realities that we have yet to see.

 

Now faith is the hope, wp-1588337487563707789523742906399.jpg

In what I can’t see;

A confident trust,

In what’s yet to be.

For God grows in us,

Hope to rest assured;

That what’s yet to come,

A future secured.

Secure in goodness,

Lavished in His grace;

Ongoing presence,

For all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can have faith, a confident hope, in all that is yet to come, even though we cannot see the how or when that stands between now and what lies ahead. Thank You that Your presence is available always. Forgive us for our frustrations and faith that falters when the road becomes extra-long or rough. Teach us to trust Your more so that our faith will grow, as we know that our ultimate hope is held in You alone. Show us how to love those around us in practical and tangible ways that offer hope in uncertain spaces. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our hope in You, confident and secure, knowing that You lovingly hold our future in Your hands. Amen.

 

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

 

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. – Psalm 37:3

Be Our Strength

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. – (Ephesians 6:10, NIV)

And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and He wants you strong. – (Ephesians 6:10, MSG)

Now my beloved ones, I have saved these most important truths for last: Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force of His explosive power flowing in and through you. – (Ephesians 6:10, TPT)

 

If anyone can speak truth into our lives as we are limited in what we can safely and wisely do, it is Paul, through his letter to the church in Ephesus. Paul was writing from a Roman prison, encouraging all to find strength in God. His reminder to us is that as we are invested in our walk with God, His strength will rise up in us and flow through us, in all things. In a space of rapidly increasing restrictions and limited availability, there are still a plethora of freedoms that we are granted that Paul did not experience in a Roman prison. We are able to communicate with loved ones, near and far; we are able to get outdoors and take in the fresh air and move. Technology grants us access to far more than ever before, even in as much as the opportunity to worship together, separately, from our own homes, with our own congregations, online. No, it doesn’t look the same, but it is far better than the space Paul was in, and likewise, far better than the confines of a hospital bed, fighting for life. In this time of being primarily home bound, there is room to grow closer to our family, with whom we reside, and time to invest in things that we seldom otherwise do. Yesterday, I walked around the perimeter of our yard and snapped some photos, choosing to be intentional as I looked through the lens. I found great delight in observing how the light and shadows danced among plants ready to bloom, and soaked in the sunshine that has been present all week. Our evening ended with a family game night, and our middle son dominated at Dominoes. Smiles were on each face around the table, and there was a sweet peace in one another’s presence as we laughed and played together. God is so good, and His strength is granted as we trust and depend on Him in all things, great and small.

 

Be strong in the Lord, DSC00007

For that is how strength;

Rises within us,

And reaches great lengths.

As we trust in Him,

For life, love and grace;

He meets and equips,

To run well, our race.

Trust in His goodness,

Look around and see;

He’s ever faithful,

Watch and you’ll agree.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your strength is limitless and Your love, boundless. Thank You that You make us strong as we seek You. Forgive us for our lack of faith when times are tough. Teach us to trust You, no matter what we see. Show us how to love in the strength You give us, so that others may come to know the abundance of Your great love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and trust in You to be our strength all of our days. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Remember With Thanks

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy. – (Philippians 1:3-4, NIV)

I thank God every time I remember you. And I always pray for all of you with joy. – (Philippians 1:3-4, ERV)

All my prayers for you are full of praise to God! When I pray for you, my heart is full of joy. – (Philippians 1:3-4, TLB)

 

Last evening, my wonderful husband accompanied me to my 30-year, high school reunion. It was the informal, post-homecoming game, meet up, and incredible to see and recognize faces; even though for some it had been twenty, or even thirty years. What I loved about both participating in, and observing, was the mingling of all sorts of people. Individuals who either did not know each other in high school, or ran in separate circles, interacted and celebrated the presence of one another. After thirty years, life has happened to us all – tragedies and triumphs, celebrations and heartaches, children, marriages, jobs, and a great deal of discovering what truly matters. Occasions such as these, are what I appreciate about social media. With some classmates, I had already felt a bit of connection, as we have kept in touch over the years and followed one another’s lives, via Facebook. Though some are put off by the whole social media venue, what it does for me is exactly what the verse expresses. It reminds me of those for whom I am thankful, as each contributed to a part of my formative years. I am reminded to pray for those near and far, and give thanks for the good that goes on in their lives. Each new day is a gift, and my heart is full of joy for the privilege of reconnecting with people thirty years later.

 

Each time I recall, fb_img_1570286184673570243275686313723.jpg

Those met on my way;

I have to give thanks,

For the gifts God gave.

The greatest treasures,

Found throughout our lives;

Are beautiful souls,

Who’ve treated us kind.

For each, I give praise,

My heart full of joy;

Please bless each dear heart,

With good to enjoy.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of people that You bring throughout our lives. Thank You for the opportunity to reconnect and celebrate life together, so many years later. Thank You for the blessed ones that are far away and cannot join us. Thank You for the joy that You bring to us through the presence of others. Forgive us for neglecting to lift our loved ones up before You. Bring to mind all those whom we are meant to remember. Show us how to love well, all the people that You have placed around us today, so that they may feel Your joy and peace in our presence. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we remember with praise the people You have placed along our path, and thank You for the joy that each one brings. 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

The Power of the Tongue

Yesterday morning, we continued in a series entitled, Be Light – Faith in Action, as modeled in the book of James. The topic of the day was The Power of the Tongue. We began the morning by reading James 3:1-12 out loud, together, to create a common foundation and point of reference, as our Administrative Pastor, Paul Zimmerman, spoke. The three main points that he highlighted from this passage were:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   1) Our words affect others. What we say has the power to change us and others, and there are always people listening.
2) Our words take us where our heart leads. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks… (Luke 6:45b)
3) Our words either build up or burn down. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
(Proverbs 18:21)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. – (James 3:9-10)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Words matter. They always have. As a writer, I think I have always been particularly sensitive to the impact of words. From a young age, I learned the power of words through reading, observing, and understanding how they made me feel – for better or worse. On our own, we will say that which we ought not to say, and harm those we long to help. So what can we do? The three take-aways from yesterday’s message were great reminders of how we can best be certain that the words we use build up, rather than burn down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            First, we must be slow to speak. James 1:19 tells us: My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. If we slow down, and think first, we are able to hear His voice, and speak the words that He has for us to say.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Next, we need to put into our heart what we want to come out of it. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. – (Philippians 4:8) Good in, good out; enough said.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Finally, rebuild what has been burned down. This means that we must repent when we hurt another with our words. Repentance goes beyond simply saying I’m sorry, as it is a turning away from the old patterns and moving forward into a new way of speaking. An apology is empty words if there is not a demonstrated heart change that follows.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Though a small muscle,The Power of the Tongue
such power it holds;
able to speak life,
or make a man fold.
We each have the choice,
the power to speak;
to offer great strength,
or make others weak.
Let us choose the words,
that extend His hope;
a lifeline to save,
those with no more rope.
Strength to the weary,
peace for those in pain;
may our mouths declare,
all praise to His Name.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we have the power to speak life into others. Thank You that when we are slow to speak, invest our heart in things of You and are quick to repent, others may be built up and pointed toward abundant life in You. Forgive us for the times that our words have affected others negatively and we have spoken without listening first. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will slow down and listen first, trusting that You will provide that which we are meant to speak in all situations so that light and life are passed on to all. Lead us to love in such a way that others may too burn brightly in the light of Your lavish love. Be glorified O God, as we speak life to all whom we encounter. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1