Strength in the Struggle

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – (James 1:4, NIV)

If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be. – (James 1:4, ERV)

Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete. You will have everything you need. – (James 1:4, ICB)

None of us enjoy trials or struggles, yet we all must go through them. When we are invested in our relationship with Christ, He uses each challenge that comes our way to strengthen and grow us to be more like Him. He does not cause the struggle, but allows it so that we may grow in maturity in our relationship with Him. As our patiences grows, His heart more clearly shows. It is on the other side of struggles and challenges that we can look back and see how far we have come. In the verses that precede verse four, we are called to consider such situations with joy, not because they are happy and fun, but rather because of what trials produce within us. Faith grows and perseverance manifests as we depend on God through each challenge. Not only does God show us who He is, but He demonstrates how He can work both in and through us to navigate the storms. May we ever lean into the Lord as we encounter every trial that life throws our way. For as we trust in Him, His strength, patience and perseverance are made evident through us.

In all that we do,

Let’s look to the Lord;

He is the anchor,

And where love’s outpoured.

It is through our trust,

That love and grace grow;

We’re made more like Him,

And patience is shown.

So, rise up in faith,

Turn in trust to Him;

Ever He’s faithful,

As we let love in.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the joy in our trials is not the trial itself, (for they are never terribly fun) but rather joy comes in knowing the work that You are doing in and through us as we press on in faith. Thank You that You are faithful to strengthen and lead us through every storm, as You grow us to become a clearer reflection of You. Forgive us Lord, for the desire for things to always be easy. Teach us to trust the process, as the challenges are the spaces where the most growth occurs. Show us how to love those around us through all things, for often You make Your love and support tangible through others. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You in our trials, and praise You for the patience and perseverance that are grown in us through Your faithfulness as we press on. Amen.

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

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – Psalm 18:32

Navigating the Unknown

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. – (Ecclesiastes 11:5, NIV)

You don’t know where the wind blows. And you don’t know how a baby grows in its mother’s womb. In the same way, you don’t know what God will do – and He makes everything happen. – (Ecclesiastes 11:5, ERV)

Just as you’ll never understand the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman, so you’ll never understand the mystery at work in all that God does. – (Ecclesiastes 11:5, MSG)

God’s ways are not our ways, and His plans are not like ours. There are times that we cannot possibly see the purpose in what we go through, nor how the path we are on could lead to what He intended. Even so, God is good. His timing is not our own, and His ways are far higher. It is a matter of choosing to trust, even when we cannot see, for despite all things, He is good. The Lord cares about every detail of our lives. He knows how many hairs are on our heads, and the strengths and talents that He intentionally placed within us. Often, what we go through, provides the opportunity to discover strength we did not know was possible, and how to hold fast to hope. When I was young, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. As I grew up, some of the class requirements steered me in a different direction. The one in particular, was a speech class. Rather than dig deep and suck it up, I chose to become an art major with an English minor. Graphic design was a delight, and I learned and grew in a variety of mediums. Once I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree, I found my way to Montana as a YWAMer (Youth With A Mission), and ended up spending the next three years in and out of Asia. Ironically, (or as God designed) I ended up having to do much public speaking during that season. God called me back home to go back to school and fulfill my teaching credentials. Upon graduation from my Master’s program, I was hired to teach World Geography at my own former middle school. God had prepared my heart to have a passion for learning about new cultures, after I had experienced so much in the years prior. Additionally, I was granted the gift of coaching gymnastics, which I had done during high school and college, both as a job and joyful passion. Throughout my career thus far, I have had the opportunity to teach art and English as well. I know not where each new experience will lead, but I know that I can trust God to be with me. May we ever embrace each new path we are called to take and trust that God will lead us through. He is good, and He knows the desires of our hearts and the plan and purpose intended for each of us, individually.

No one truly knows,

Where the Lord will lead;

He grants us His strength,

As His will we heed.

Detours and trials,

And paths still unknown;

Each with a purpose,

As His grace is shown.

Even in heartache,

We grow and we learn;

He loves us through all,

To Him may we turn.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we cannot possibly know or understand all of Your ways, You are faithful to lead us and grow us through all. Thank You that as we depend on You, You use every experience for good. Forgive us for our fears and doubts in the spaces that we never thought we would be. Teach us to trust You completely, for Your plans are perfect. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer strength, hope and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your unfailing love to lead us as we navigate each step that You bring us to take. Amen.

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

Lord, You establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished You have done for us. – Isaiah 26:12

Faithful Healer

Lord my God, I called to You for help, and You healed me. – (Psalm 30:2, NIV)

Lord my God, I prayed to You, and You healed me. – (Psalm 30:2, ERV)

O Lord, my healing God, I cried out for a miracle and You healed me! – (Psalm 30:2, TPT)

God is a faithful healer, yet His timing is not our own. We are a society that is accustomed to fast food, fast service, and rapid response. The Lord works in mysterious ways, and we know not why some prayers are answered quickly, and others, by our own expectations, take too long. Even within my own household, answers vary. The entire family has been ill, and for most of us, it has been fairly short-lived. Yes, that in and of itself is an answered prayer, yet one of my kids is still dealing with symptoms that seem to linger. By now, he should be fever free and feeling fantastic, yet he is not. Fever and a cough seem to be holding on, and his sleep is a struggle too. Because we see that my son is still symptomatic does not mean that God is not healing him. For whatever reason, the healing is taking longer as sickness lingers. There has been enough relief for schoolwork to be completed and to hang out and be loved by the pups, we are not just waiting for all symptoms to pass and for full healing to happen. May we ever seek the Lord and call on Him to bring the healing that we need most, for He is faithful to meet us in our every need.

I called on the Lord,

And He heard my cry;

His answers will come,

God’s love won’t deny.

When answers seem slow,

We need to choose trust;

Faithfulness is sure,

He’s loving and just.

Keep calling on Him,

For His love is kind;

He heals by His grace,

As we seek, we’ll find.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear our cries and bring healing through Your hands. Thank You that even when we don’t see what we are hoping for in our timing, You are moving beyond what we can see. Forgive us for our frustrations with delays in what we hope to see. Teach us how to trust and to continue to contend for Your full and complete healing whenever it is needed. Show us how to love and pray for those around us in faith. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You to bring healing through Your hands. Amen.

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

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. – Proverbs 16:24

Qualities Clearly Seen

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 the people are without excuse. – (Romans 1:20, NIV)

There are things about God that people cannot see – His eternal power and all that makes Him God. But since the beginning of the world, those things have been easy for people to understand. They are made clear in what God has made. So people have no excuse for the evil they do. – (Romans 1:20, ERV)

Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance, because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God’s nature have been made visible, such as His eternal power and transcendence. He has made His wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without excuse. – (Romans 1:20, TPT)

I am fortunate to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Any direction I drive, there is incredible evidence of God’s power and creativity. From the majestic mountains that surround the Puget Sound, to the towering Evergreen trees that line roads wherever I go, I cannot deny the power and majesty of all that His hands have created. The very same God who hand-crafted such beauty, formed everything and everyone that draws breath. To look in the face of others, is to witness the handiwork of God. Knowing that is the very beginning of walking the way that we are called to walk. If we see and recognize the beauty and value in all that God has made, we cannot help but want to love as He loves us. May we take pause and breathe in the goodness of all that God’s hands have made, and give thanks to the One who created it all. Let us look to Him to lead us to love well.

The truth is made plain,

Through all that we see;

All things formed by love,

Intentionally.

The powerful hands,

That made mountains rise;

Gave each creature life,

From earth to the skies.

Show us how to love,

Appropriately;

So Your love’s made known,

Through all that is seen.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all of creation sings of Your glory through its mere existence. Thank You that You are the same God who called mountains to rise and the very One who grants us life and breath and love. Forgive us for neglecting to notice the obvious evidence of Your power and love. Teach us to recognize the beauty in all whom we encounter, and show us how to love as You call us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for all that Your hands have made that clearly show us Your love and power that is present all around us. Amen. 

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

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

To Recognize What is Real

But when they saw Him walking on the lake, they thought He was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” – (Mark 6:49-50, NIV)

But the followers saw Jesus walking on the water. They thought He was a ghost, and they started screaming. It scared them all to see Him. But He spoke to them and said, “Don’t worry! It’s me! Don’t be afraid.” – (Mark 6:49-50, ERV)

When they all saw Him walking on the waves, they thought He was a ghost and screamed out in terror. But He said to them at once, “Don’t yield to fear. Have courage. It’s really me – I Am!” – (Mark 6:49-50, TPT)

Whenever I read the miraculous accounts of the things that Jesus did, I try to imagine what it might have been like to be present. In this story, I envision being part of the crew that is struggling to row to the other side of the lake after the sun has set. The wind is blowing against them, and they  are rowing with all their might. Suddenly, in the midst of the wind and waves, they see Jesus walking on the water. Such an image does not make sense, as they had left ahead of Jesus, while He had remained behind on the shore. I likely would have been rubbing my eyes and straining to see if what I was viewing was real. Likening the scene to seeing a ghost, is relatable. Fear clearly gripped the disciples, as they could not process what they were seeing. Jesus, in His loving and patient ways, let the disciples know who He was and that they need not fear. Despite all that had been witnessed, it took Jesus himself to speak and remind them of who He was and what that empowered Him to do to calm the fear that had risen in their hearts. May we ever remember who calms our storms and brings peace and comfort whenever we turn and listen to Him.

When waves are crashing,

And we feel alone;

Recall the power,

That through Him is shown.

He’ll walk on water,

And tell us His Name;

Bring peace where we are,

And love us the same.

We need never fear,

Despite what we see;

For He is present,

For you and for me.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are patient and kind, and that You are present to help us and grant us Your perfect peace. Forgive us for how quickly we forget Your incredible faithfulness and provision when trials come our way. Teach us to remember Your goodness and faithfulness that is eternal, so that we would ever place our trust in You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your goodness and faithfulness both practically and tangibly. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look for You in the wind and waves and trust You in spaces where You are difficult to see. Amen.

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

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7

Intentional In Love

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – (John 13:34-35, NIV)

“I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other just as I loved you. All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.” – (John 13:34-35, ERV)

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.” – (John 13:34-35, MSG)

It seems only appropriate that the verse of the day has to do with love on Valentine’s Day. In Finland, Valentine’s Day is called “Friendship Day”. I love that idea, as the love we have for those around us does not have to be romantic love. Friends, family, acquaintances and beloved ones are all among those with whom our love is meant to be shared. To love as we are loved by God is to lift up, encourage, bless, honor and strengthen those around us without any expectation of return. We are meant to choose to love out of the overflow that we have freely been given. May we be intentional in our obedience to God’s commands to love so that all may see Him through us.

Let’s love each other,

As the Lord loves us;

Freely outpouring,

As done by Jesus.

When we choose to love,

With grace, each other;

God’s love’s clearly shown,

One to another.

May we celebrate,

All that we’re given;

Generously give,

Each day we live in.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your generous and overwhelming love. Thank You that You call and command us to love those around us. Thank You that as we do, people see You and the goodness of Your love. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to love as we should. Teach us to seek You and receive all that You offer so that we may love like You. Show us how to love those around us best. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be intentional to love well. Amen.

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

But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. – Psalm 13:5

It’s All About Love

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” – (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV)

Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.” – (Matthew 22:37-39, ERV)

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.” – (Matthew 22:37-39, MSG)

If we love God and love people in a way that truly honors and obeys His commands, ALL people will feel valued, seen, heard and known. Sadly, everywhere I look, I see evidence that we are far from this. It is devastating to hear reports of people’s brilliance being overlooked, or of individuals being treated harshly or in a way that is in no way warranted. If I read too much, or look too hard, the heaviness is overwhelming. That being said, what can one human do? The answer is Jesus. If I seek Him to lead me in love, I can be part of the change I long to see. My role is to recognize, listen to, celebrate, encourage, educate, empower, value and honor the next generation. At times, this whole remote teaching gig makes it feel like an impossible task. The kiddos whom I never “see,” I struggle to get to know. Each opportunity I have, I attempt to encourage and care well for each faceless black box, and recognize that I have no idea what their environment is truly like. My hope is that kindness and encouragement will help them feel valued, and that at the end of the day, each is aware that someone cares. Lord, help us to love You and love one another as You intended.

Lord, will You lead us,

To love as You do;

Care for each other,

Let Your light shine through.

Help us be vessels,

Afloat in Your love;

May kindness give hope,

Care that You’re proud of.

Show us the spaces,

For encouragement;

Teach us to listen,

Hear discouragement.

Lead us all in love,

So kindness may reign;

May all voices be heard,

And Your love made plain.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love You and love each other. Thank You that You have shown us what it is to truly love one another. Forgive us for the times that we have not acted or spoken in ways that demonstrate Your love to those around us. Teach us to do and be better. Help us to recognize, value, encourage and love well, all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love You and those around us as You first loved us. Amen.

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

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. – Psalm 103:8

Lead Us In Your Love

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – (Ephesians 4:2, NIV)

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

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

This verse is a reminder for us all. After so many months of being away from what we have always known as “normal”, patience, gentleness, humility and love are things that only occur when we make an intentional choice to extend them. It can be especially trying when part of the family has upheld some normalcy, as their jobs require their in-person attendance, whereas the twins and I have remained working and going to school from home. As one who has a wanderlust heart and a passion for adventure, this season of always being at home has been exhausting. It takes everything in me to be patient, gentle and loving, as my frustration often gets the better of me. Without God’s grace and loving kindness, none of these traits would ever be evident. I need His grace to fill me anew each day, and even so, there are days that I am depleted and do not demonstrate the love, gentleness and patience that I ought to. Again this morning, I must humbly seek the Lord, and ask for a fresh filling of goodness and grace so that I might see and interact with others as He intended.

Lord, come and fill us,

Renew us again;

Teach us to love well,

Lord, yes and amen.

Show us Your goodness,

Equip us with grace;

Patience and kindness,

Throughout all our days.

Lead us in Your love,

May we humbly give;

Love just as You do,

With grace and forgive.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grow us in patience, humility and love as we earnestly seek You. Thank You that You demonstrate Your patience, grace and love for us each new day. Forgive us for being harsh or unkind toward those around us. Teach us to turn to You to lead and equip us to love like You. Show us how to be humble, patient, loving and accepting of all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to transform our heart into one that loves like Yours. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth 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

Hope is Rising

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. – (Psalm 31:24, NIV)

Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon. – (Psalm 31:24, MSG)

Be strong, and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal! – (Psalm 31:24, VOICE)

As I was doing my lesson planning yesterday, I did more research on the work of Amanda Gorman, the poet laureate who spoke at the Inauguration. Both when she shared her poem then, and while I discovered a recent poem of hers, “The Miracle of Morning”, I was in awe of her ability to tackle current events and convey hope through poetry. My sixth graders have been studying the poem, “If”, by Rudyard Kipling, and the opportunity to spend some time studying the works of a modern-day poet seemed a perfect pairing. For me, as I listen to and read Miss Gorman’s words, I cannot help but think her message is one of choosing to be brave and strong, and to not give up. The words call upon hope to rise within us, much like God’s word, for He is where our hope is held, and our Source of courage, strength and resolve. May we seek the Lord to find the strength and courage to see His love that is all around us, and the resolve to love as we are loved by Him.

Take heart, dear ones,

For hope is rising;

Light found in darkness,

There’s no disguising.

The chaos that is,

Will not always be;

For hope is rising,

As love is released.

A choice to honor,

Sisters and brothers;

To stand hand-in-hand,

Supporting each other.

Stand up, dear young ones,

Please take it from me;

The future is yours,

Rise up and shine, so all may see.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and You are our Source of courage, strength and resolve. Thank You that as we seek and learn to depend on You, hope rises within us. Forgive us for not being light and life in the midst of darkness. Teach us to seek You to ignite Your fire within us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that spread Your light that chases away the darkness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to raise us up as light-bearers and love givers. Amen.

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

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. – Psalm 71:5

Gratitude for Lasting Good

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. – (Psalm 136:1, NIV)

Praise the Lord because He is good. His faithful love will last forever. – (Psalm 136:1, ERV)

Let everyone thank God, for He is easy to please! His tender love for us continues forever! – (Psalm 136:1, TPT)

Because God is good and loving forever, we ought to give Him thanks and praise. God’s love is tender and kind, for He loves us as we are, no matter how we come before Him. He loves us at our worst, and brings us to our best as we pursue Him. Every time that I pause and recognize all that God is and all that He has done, I cannot help but give Him thanks and praise. May we ever look around and see the goodness of God and give Him our gratitude, as His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord,

For He’s always good;

Love that’s forever,

His grace understood.

All praise to our God,

For His love that lasts;

It’s not dependent,

On future or past.

He loves us right now,

And He always will;

For that’s what Love does,

Brings peace and goodwill.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always good, and that Your love endures forever. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to thank and praise You, as our perspective becomes clouded by the challenges we see, rather than Your solutions that we do not. Teach us to trust You and give You praise, no matter how things seem. Show us how to love those around us in ways that inspire hope and make Your love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give you thanks forever, for Your love, goodness and grace. Amen.

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

Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds to mankind. – Psalm 107:8