Choose Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! – (Philippians 4:4, NIV) 

Always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy. – (Philippians 4:4, ERV) 

Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! – (Philippians 4:4, TPT) 

After navigating the first week of school, despite all of the challenges and adjustments to an entirely new way of teaching, I find myself with a heart full of joy. God is good, all the time. Even when things are tough, He is still good. When we seek Him and look to Him to be our joy, we discover the countless ways that He is good. For me, the best thing about remote learning is my new group of kids. These sixth graders are sweet, polite, engaged, and have wonderful senses of humor. There is something to be said about keeping these great kids from too much exposure to the older kids, as they too quickly attempt to change who they are to fit in, during a “normal” school year. As I began to read the surveys that I had my students submit, my joy multiplied. From favorite family traditions to things that inspire them to do their best, these young people blessed my heart to overflowing, and joy abounds. I am reminded again and again, that God grants me joy, and fills my heart to overflowing. May we rejoice in the Lord, always, for He plants His joy deep within us, and fills our days with reason to praise. 

Be cheerful. Find joy, 

In each circumstance; 

For the Lord grants us, 

Hope and second chance. 

Even in trials, 

The Lord’s always good; 

Grants silver lining, 

His hope understood. 

Each day we’re given, 

Help us to rejoice; 

Joy on the journey, 

Is truly a choice. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and bless us with Your deep-rooted joy as we seek You. Thank You that there is always a reason to rejoice in You. Forgive us for our frustration and grumbling when things become difficult. Teach us to rejoice in the hope we have in You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that spread joy in all things and all seasons. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and rejoice in You, always. Amen. 

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

…for the joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Promised Presence

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. – (Isaiah 46:4, NIV) 

And I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety. – (Isaiah 46:4, ERV) 

And when you are old, I will still be there, carrying you. When your limbs grow tired, your eyes are weak, and your hair a silvery gray, I will carry you as I always have. I will carry you and save you. – (Isaiah 46:4, VOICE) 

God’s promises are not just for today, but they remain forever. His promise to sustain and carry us is true throughout our entire life. I have known God’s faithfulness to carry and sustain me – from childhood to adulthood, and now as I move ever closer to the white hairs of years flying by. It is good to be reminded of His ongoing faithfulness, especially when in the midst of so much new and uncertain. God’s faithfulness and ability to sustain and carry us is not dependent on our circumstances, nor the status of the world around us. Even on days where what lies before us seems insurmountable, He is faithful to see us through. Today, I am placing all in His hands, and trusting Him to lead, strengthen and carry me through all that awaits. The Lord is good, and He is worthy of our trust. May we choose to seek Him and place all in His hands. 

The Lord is faithful, 

For all of our days; 

From when we are young, 

Today, and always. 

He calms all our fears, 

When we are afraid; 

And grants us His strength, 

When ours goes away. 

He is our safety, 

In uncertainty; 

Our help and our hope, 

To eternity. 

So, trust in the Lord, 

Choose rely on Him; 

He’ll help us press on, 

Even when hope’s dim. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our help and our hope, as You sustain, strengthen, and carry us throughout our whole life. Thank You that Your promises are true in both our youth and into our older years. Forgive us for our frustrations and fears with the things that seem too much. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your faithfulness tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek and depend on You, all the days of our lives. Amen. 

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

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. – Deuteronomy 31:8

Formed By His Hands

In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land. – (Psalm 95:4-5, NIV) 

The deepest caves and the highest mountains belong to Him. The ocean is His – He created it. He made the dry land with His own hands. – (Psalm 95:4-5, ERV) 

In one hand He holds the mysteries of the earth and in the other He holds the highest mountain peaks. He’s the owner of every ocean, the engineer and sculptor of earth itself. – (Psalm 95:4-5, TPT) 

Every time I have the opportunity to travel, I am reminded again, of the beauty and diversity of all that God’s hands have made. Being a Pacific Northwest native, I love the color and variation that can be observed in our area. We have mountains and streams, oceans and forests, and lush green all around us. In the desert, there is, at a first glance, a seeming lack of variety. However, upon closer investigation, there are wonders for the eyes to take in with the rock formations and canyons, hills and spaces of oasis. Additionally, it takes little time to get out of the city lights in the desert, where stars are in full view at night. There is something about warm nights, clear skies, and countless stars overhead, that reminds me of the incredible power of He who formed it all. May we ever look around in wonder, and notice all of the beauty that God has created. 

All of creation, 

Formed by the Lord’s hands; 

Mountains and forests, 

Oceans and all land. 

Each with His imprint, 

His power displayed; 

Great variety, 

In all He has made. 

All thanks be to Him, 

For all we can see; 

The Lord’s handiwork, 

Rich diversity. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the beauty, creativity and diversity in all that Your hands have made. Forgive us for the times that we have either neglected to notice or have taken for granted, the beauty all around us. Show us how to recognize all of the splendor found in that which was created by Your hands. Teach us to love those around us and care for all that You have made, with intention. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for all that Your hands have made. Amen. 

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

Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:39

All That He Has Made

He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. – (Psalm 104:19, NIV) 

He assigned the moon to mark the months and the sun to mark the days. – (Psalm 104:19, TLB) 

You made the moon to mark the months and the sun to measure the days. – (Psalm 104:19, TPT) 

The 104th Psalm was written by David, as he was praising God for all that He has made. As I was driving to go meet my running buddy early this morning, I could not help but give thanks in awe, as I took in the gorgeous view of Mt. Rainier, with the rising sun, streaking it with pastel colors. Additionally, I was reminded that the days are beginning to grow shorter, as last week’s departure time was in daylight, whereas today, it was still dark. Months pass and seasons change, yet His love remains. The same God who cares enough to give us ways to measure time, cares for us and how we spend our days. May we all make time to pause and take in the ways that God created such beauty and function in all that His hands have made, and give Him praise for the depth of His great love. 

Each month that goes by, 

Creation does show; 

The changing seasons, 

And where the days go. 

Sun up and sun down, 

Bookmark all our days; 

Array of colors, 

On brilliant display. 

The moon’s clear phases, 

Usher in and out; 

Days and weeks and months, 

God’s faithful throughout. 

So, let us give praise, 

To the Lord above; 

Thank Him all our days, 

For amazing love. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for all of creation, and the incredible beauty and functionality that it holds. Forgive us for all of the times that we have not appreciated or not given You praise for all that You have made with Your loving hands. Teach us to appreciate all that You have done, and to be good stewards of all that is around us. Show us how to love everyone You place in our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for all that Your hands have made. Amen. 

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

The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made. – Psalm 145:9

Evidence of Present Help

I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV) 

I look up to the hills, but where will my help come from? My help will come from the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, ERV) 

I look up at the vast size of the mountains – from where will my help come in times of trouble? The Eternal Creator of heaven and earth and these mountains will send the help I need. – (Psalm 121:1-2, VOICE) 

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and my sweet puppy is sleeping soundly. All around me are reminders that God is present to help. It is amazing how well we can become aware of God and His help, if only we pause and take in the beauty that surrounds us. The very same God who created such vast artistry is willing and available to be our help and our hope. Today, may we look to the mountains, the ocean, or simply the sky overhead, and be reminded of the One who is our help as we seek Him. 

God’s given us eyes, 

So that we may see; 

All of creation, 

Hand-crafted beauty. 

It’s not just our eyes, 

But our hearts that know; 

All we experience, 

God’s love to behold. 

Each of our senses, 

Truly testify; 

Of all that is good, 

Proof that God’s nearby. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we look around and take in the beauty of all that Your hands have made, we cannot help but remember that You are our help and our hope. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our circumstances to blind us to Your nearness and willingness to help. Teach us to trust You more, as we learn to lean into You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your power and presence tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look up and out to see the evidence of Your hand. Amen. 

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

Look up to the heavens and see; gaze at the clouds so high above you. – Job 35:5

Gaze at the Glory

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. – (Psalm 19:1, NIV) 

The heavens tell about the glory of God. The skies announce what His hands have made. – (Psalm 19:1, ERV) 

God’s splendor is a tale that is told; His testament is written in the stars. Space itself speaks of His story every day through the marvels of the heavens. His truth is on tour in the starry vault of the sky, showing His skill in creation’s craftsmanship. – (Psalm 19:1, TPT) 

Even in the midst of all that is going on in the world, the evidence of God remains. All it takes is a glimpse of a sunrise or sunset, or to gaze at the moon and stars in all of their splendor, to be reminded of God’s glory. The same hands that paint the glorious array of colors and hung the stars in their place, holds each of us in the hollow of His hand. God, in His great love for us, created beauty for us to see. He knows us each by name, and designed each person with intention. There is a plan and a purpose for all of us; and as we seek Him, He is faithful to make His plans known.  

Today, as I prepare for my last day of work for the school year, and ready myself for my boys’ graduation, I am ever aware of God’s faithfulness to carry us through. His splendor is told through His presence that has carried us throughout the years, and brought us to this important milestone. Many times, over the last few years, I have watched the sunrise, and have been shown His goodness and faithfulness through the glorious array of colors awakening the sky. Tomorrow, following the broadcast version of the boys’ graduation, (recording of each student walking in cap and gown, as well as the recorded speakers), we will be driving to see my mom, for the first time since the shutdown began. Though we will not be able to embrace and interact as we normally would, we are grateful that we can go and lay eyes on her for ourselves, and visit, masked and physically distanced. One of the things that stood out to me, is one of my boys made a point to tell me that he wanted to wake up early enough to watch the sunrise while we are there, as he has fond memories of sitting together with mom in her living room, watching together in awe. He too, knows of the faithfulness of God, and His goodness that greets us anew every morning. It has not been an easy road, particularly during this pandemic with school closed, yet we have seen and known God’s goodness throughout. The work of God’s hands are tangible reminders that He is good and He is faithful. May we gaze at the glory of God’s creation, and know His faithfulness and love. 

We look to the sky, 

And God’s love is clear; 

Such beauty beheld, 

As we know He’s near. 

The very same hands, 

That painted the sky; 

Made us with purpose, 

Gave us wings to fly. 

Created, equipped, 

To go forth and rise; 

To love and be loved, 

It’s how we’re designed. 

Lay hold of the gifts, 

Birthed deep within you; 

Boldly walk forward, 

Embrace each step new. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need only look up to be reminded of who You are and how You love. Thank You for the tangible evidence of Your goodness and grace. Forgive us for the times that we have made You too small. Teach us to pause and look up, making us ever aware of Your goodness, faithfulness and love. Show us how to love one another in the way that You intended; valuing, celebrating, encouraging and lifting each other up, so that Your love would be evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the beauty that surrounds us and reminds us of Your unending love for all. Amen. 

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

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

Protection and Strength

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – (Psalm 46:1, NIV) 

God is our protection and source of strength. He is always ready to help us in times of trouble. – (Psalm 46:1, ERV) 

God is our shelter and our strength. When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help. So why run and hide?  – (Psalm 46:1, VOICE) 

As a visual learner, I am often reminded of biblical truths as I observe the world around me. This morning, as I sit on the couch with my laptop in front of me and my sweet puppy sleeping soundly on my lap, I am reminded that just as I am a safe space for Thor, God is so much more for us. Thor is a smart puppy, and often gets overzealous in his desire to play. Interestingly, despite correction and redirection, he quickly comes and wants to jump on my lap and snuggle in. He knows that I love him fiercely, even when his impulses get the best of him. God provides the same sort of safety as we seek Him. He embraces us in His goodness and grace, and guides us in the way that we must learn, change and grow, even after correction or redirection. May we ever seek the Lord as our shelter and strength, for when trial or trouble are near, He is nearer still. 

God is our shelter, 

Our true Source of strength; 

No matter what comes, 

Through depth, height or length. 

When troubles are near, 

The Lord’s nearer still; 

Embracing with grace, 

With His love, He’ll fill. 

Strength when we’re weary, 

Safety through the storms; 

Wisdom, direction, 

With truth, He informs. 

So, trust in the Lord, 

Throughout each new day; 

Pursue what is right, 

He’ll show us the way. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our safety and strength, no matter what comes our way. Thank You that You lead, direct and correct us in Your love. Forgive us for the times that we have thought, spoken or walked the wrong way. Teach us to look to You for wisdom in the ways that we are meant to go, so that all we do will honor You. Show us how to love as You love – lavishly and without reservations. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to be our strength and safety while we pursue all that You are calling us into. Amen. 

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

For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. – Psalm 27:5

Live “Otherly”

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, NIV)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, ERV) 

Be free from pride-filled opinions, for they will only harm your cherished unity. Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, TPT)

 

If this were truly the standard that people were following, I do not think that we would have empty store shelves and discover shortages of basic necessities. Before all of this COVID-19 craziness hit, stores were seldom out of the items that people needed on their typical grocery list. Now, however, grocery shopping online is not even an option, as such a large portion of one’s list is unable to be filled. Thankfully, we are well, and have all that we need. Being an early riser is helpful in more ways than one. That said, it matters how we conduct ourselves as we venture out to find what we need for our families. We must only take what is needed, so that others too may have what they require for their families. Also, how we treat these essential employees matters. Yesterday morning after I ran, I made a quick stop at Rite Aid to purchase Vitamin C for my family. The store was quiet, and the sweet cashier looked uncertain as she made her way to the register as I approached. We engaged in friendly conversation, and before I left, she was expressing her gratitude for my kindness. I had not done anything unusual, I simply was polite and respectful, and let her know that I appreciated her hard work, as it is likely a challenge right now in the midst of these circumstances. She informed me that she had been yelled at multiple times, for things that were completely beyond her control. I imagine I had a look of shock and horror on my face as she told her story, that I followed with an understanding apology for the ugly that comes out of humanity when fear enters in. Though our exchange was brief, I am further reminded of just how important it is to prefer others and make sure they know that they are valued and appreciated. This passage in Philippians is written to the church in Philippi, yet it can be applied to all of us and how we treat one another. It is amazing to see the shift in people as they are the recipients of being a priority and treated with respect and dignity. May we all seek the Lord to show us how to steer clear of selfishness and pride, and how best to honor and prefer others around us, above ourselves.

 

Let not our motives, Ambassadors of Love

Be driven by pride;

Lay down selfishness,

Seek the Lord to guide.

For He will show us,

How to choose to serve;

Prefer each other,

Help each see their worth.

Choose live “otherly”,

With kindness and grace;

Look for ways to bless,

As we live each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to live life this way through Your Son. There was no selfish ambition nor pride within Him, and He walked out His days humbly and sought to serve. Forgive us for the times that pride or selfishness get in the way of who You want us to be. Teach us to trust and rely on You to lead and guide us in all that we say and do. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we prefer one another and extend kindness and grace in humility, without selfishness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lay down our selfishness and own ideas of how things ought to be, and look for opportunities to prefer others by extending kindness and care in tangible ways. Amen.

 

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

 

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

Guided In Love

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. – (Psalm 23:1-3, NIV)

The Lord is my shepherd. I will always have everything I need. He gives me green pastures to lie in. He leads me by calm pools of water. He restores my strength. He leads me on right paths to show that He is good. – (Psalm 23:1-3, ERV)

The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always. He provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water. He soothes my fears; He makes me whole again, steering me off worn, hard paths to roads where truth and righteousness echo His Name. – (Psalm 23:1-3, VOICE)

 

Yesterday was such an incredibly strange day. I felt a bit lost, and quite uncertain as to what I actually was meant to do. After beginning my day with God, I went to the grocery store with my “youngest” boy, and was thankful to find restocked shelves. Upon our return, I sat and pondered and prayed a bit, to determine what to do next. Following the lead of some of my school district colleagues, I constructed a message to my students and families, providing suggested activities and drawing prompts for the coming week, as well as conveying my care for their well-being. Upon completing some other household tasks, I determined to at least begin tackling my grading pile. Just as I completed the final class for the first project that needed grading, my best friend messaged me to go take a walk out in the sunshine. For me, this was exactly what my heart needed, as our walk took us down a steep staircase to the Puget Sound, where we took in the view and soaked up some sunshine, before embracing the challenge of tackling the stairs back up to the road. In Him, I do indeed, have everything I need. He is granting me rest and refreshing my soul. Walking near the waves, comforts me, as I am reminded of His power and strength. Despite what we see, He will lead us on the right path, and show us that He is good. May we ever remember that even in the most uncertain of times, God cares for us; always. He provides, calms, comforts, restores, and leads, demonstrating His unending goodness to all who seek Him.

 

O Lord, my shepherd, wp-15844488533327357260751564309605.jpg

I choose seek Your face;

Lead me and guide me,

In Your loving grace.

Show me the planned paths,

That I’m meant to take;

Help me to love well,

Forgive my mistakes.

The comfort You give,

Help me to give too;

Rest and refreshment,

Grace that makes us new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You lead us beside still waters and bring us to spaces of comfort and rest. Thank You that You strengthen and restore us so that we can go forth and follow the path that You prepare for us to love others well. Forgive us for not embracing the rest You provide, or for not following where You lead. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would receive all that You offer and go wherever You call. Show us how to love those around us tangibly in ways that make Your heart known and Your provision shown. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You, our shepherd, to lead and guide us each step of every day. Amen.

 

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

 

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. – Psalm 62:1

Generous and Active Love

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to You. – (Psalm 86:5, NIV)

My Lord, You are good and merciful. You love all those who call to You for help. – (Psalm 86:5, ERV)

O Lord, You are good and ready to forgive; Your loyal love flows generously over all who cry out to You. – (Psalm 86:5, VOICE)

 

On mornings like this, it is so good to open up my reading for the day and be reminded of who God is and how generously and actively He loves. Love, as God intended, is not a feeling, but it is alive and active. Love forgives, extends goodness, is loyal and generous to all. I am amazed at how quickly He reminds me of His love when I find myself in a space in need of grace. This week has been extraordinarily long, as it is the final week of the semester. Add to that the last meet of the regular season for high school gymnastics and preparations required for the start of middle school season, as well as the ongoing post-season for high school, and I have felt a bit flooded. Kids in classes have been extra stirred up, and the pressure to make certain final submissions of projects are completed, only added to the angst. After practice yesterday afternoon, followed by a run in the pouring rain, I was so grateful to be showered in goodness and grace with a brief dinner escape with my love. The opportunity to connect and catch up after the crazy that the week contained, reminded me of God’s goodness and mercy for me. He provides what we need, when we need it most, and He holds our hearts in His hands, if we are willing to grant Him permission. Each time we call on Him for help, it is an affirmation of our trust in Christ. He hears and knows, and is ready to meet us with His love that is alive and active, ever moving on our behalf. May we call on Christ in faith, trusting in His goodness and grace; for He is good and His love endures forever.

 

The Lord is so good, Generous and Active Love

Abounding in love;

A heart set to give,

All who seek above.

He’s mercy and grace,

Ready to forgive;

Those who call on Him,

Know love as they live.

Faithful forever,

God’s goodness abounds;

Seek Him to find Him,

Where new life is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You show us what love means through Your example. Thank You that as we call on You, we come to know Your goodness, forgiveness, help and love that floods our hearts and lives as we seek You. Forgive us for not turning to You in trust when we grow weary or are at our wits end. Teach us to call out to You, for You are faithful forever. Show us how to love those around us with the same generosity and grace that You have for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call on You and recognize the abounding love that surrounds us as we seek You. Amen.

 

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

 

How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. – Psalm 36:7