Beauty Within

Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. – (1 Peter 3:3-4, HCSB)

It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from inside you – the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. That beauty will never disappear. It is worth very much to God. – (1 Peter 3:3-4, ERV)

Don’t focus on decorating your exterior by doing your hair or putting on fancy jewelry or wearing fashionable clothes; let your adornment be what’s inside – the real you, the lasting beauty of a gracious and quiet spirit, in which God delights. – (1 Peter 3:3-4, VOICE)

It is what is inside that determines a person’s beauty, not the way that the exterior is decorated. The things that God deems beautiful are characteristics that grow as we invest our hearts and minds in knowing more of Him. The better we know the Lord, the more beautiful our hearts become. A gentle spirit that is full of grace rises up in us to be shared with those around us. The most beautiful people that I have ever known had hearts that were loving and kind, gentle and full of grace. Their beauty was not determined by the outside, but rather by the love their heart could not help but share. Incredibly, the interior seems to glow outward, making the whole human beautiful. May we ever seek the Lord to adorn our hearts with His character – love, grace, gentleness and peace, for it is such things that make us beautiful in His eyes.

May beauty and grace,

Be what’s in our hearts;

Characteristics,

In love God imparts.

For when we give grace,

God’s love is made clear;

Good overwhelming,

As gentle comes near.

Lord, help us focus,

On that which will last;

Beautiful spirits,

That show that love lasts.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that true beauty comes from within. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to seek You to grow our heart more like Yours, or have placed our focus on the exterior, rather than on what truly lasts. Teach us to always seek and invest our hearts and time in You, so that we may more clearly reflect who You are to the world. Lead us in Your gentleness and grace to love those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to increase the beauty within, and lead us to love as You love each of us. Amen.

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

By His breath the heavens gained their beauty… – Job 26:13a

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

God Who Gives

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. – (Romans 15:5, NIV)

All patience and encouragement come from God. And I pray that God will help you all agree with each other, as Christ Jesus wants. – (Romans 15:5, ERV)

Now may God, the Source of great endurance and comfort, grace you with unity among yourselves, which flows from your relationship with Jesus, the Anointed One. – (Romans 15:5, TPT)

 

Our capacity to receive and give patience, encouragement, endurance and comfort, all come from Christ. When we lean into Him, He grants us a heart like His toward those around us, and we are better able to be united in purpose. It does not mean that we have to agree with others on every minute detail in existence, but rather, with God’s help, we can prioritize people in the way that we are designed to do. The closer we are to Christ, the more clearly, we reflect His character and His heart to the world. Grace is essential to extend comfort and encouragement to others, even in the midst of our own messes. God can use us to bring unity, comfort, patience and endurance to those around us, despite being in the middle of a pandemic. Each day we depend on Him, we discover His peace, strength and provision. As we do, there is a filling to overflowing within us, that cannot help but be shared with those around us. May we seek the Lord who gives endurance and encouragement, so that we too, may do the same for others and be united in purpose and love.

 

The Lord God above,wp-15899803702722573446821857210172.jpg

He grants unto us;

All that we will need,

To love like Jesus.

It is up to us,

To choose seek and pray;

Allow the Lord lead,

In love, each new day.

Patience and comfort,

Strength and loving grace;

To share with others,

And walk in His ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us and equipping us to love like You as we earnestly seek You. Please forgive us for the times that we neglect to seek You and respond in our own humanity to those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would grow in patience and encouragement, grace and unity. Show us how to love those around us best, so that each might feel encouraged and strengthened, valued and loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we continually draw near to You in pursuit of a heart like Yours, as You are the God who gives. Amen.

 

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

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 1:3

The Weight of Grief in the Garden

When He rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, He found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. – (Luke 22:45, NIV)
When He finished praying, He went to His followers. He found them asleep, worn out from their grieving.  – (Luke 22:45, ERV)
When Jesus finished praying, He got up and went to His disciples and found them all asleep, for they were exhausted and overwhelmed with sorrow. – (Luke 22:45, TPT)
I am not sure why I have not ever noticed the phrasing of Luke’s account of what took place in the Garden of Gethsemane before, but why the disciples fell asleep, becomes far more relate-able somehow. The disciples had every reason to be grieving, for they had shared their final meal with Jesus, heard His last words of wisdom, sung their last hymn together, and then heard that one among them would betray Him and another would deny Him… That is some serious heaviness to hold. How often do we find ourselves in the same sort of space? There  are times that the grief is too great, and even as we try to pray, exhaustion takes over, and sleep finds a welcomed win. The disciples, though Jesus had told them what would take place, could likely not wrap their hearts and minds around it all. They were in the throes of the suffering and sorrow-filled part, and could not yet see the glorious hope that would come after the horror Jesus was about to endure. Incredibly, Jesus continued to pray. When Judas and his entourage of Sanhedrin and soldiers arrived to have Jesus arrested, Jesus continued to love as He healed the ear that an over-zealous disciple cut off in His defense. He went willingly, without argument nor needed force, for love led Him to the cross at Calgary.
I paused writing to go run, and ended up having a great discussion about the potential disparity between the four accounts of the disciples’ time in the garden. My running bestie is a nurse, so she reminded me that Luke was a doctor. Between us, we recognized that the other accounts were recorded by fishermen, who likely felt bad for falling asleep, and simply recorded that alone. Luke, however, from a physician’s standpoint, was the most likely to recognize the toll that grief and sorrow take on the body, and reported the occurrence accordingly. Like me, she had not ever noticed the difference in the accounts of what took place, but together, we discussed how it indeed made sense. Many of us find ourselves in a similar space of grief or sorrow. There is loss that we are uncertain how to process, and that weighs heavily, no matter how much we pray. Perhaps this forced slow down season is meant for more than just protecting ourselves from the further spread of a pandemic; maybe, just maybe, this is a season where we are to allow our bodies to sleep when we can fight it no longer, rest up, reflect on what truly matters, and rise up renewed and refreshed, as Jesus carried it all for us and rose again. May we give ourselves grace in our moments of sorrow, grief and exhaustion, and look to the Lord who is the One who strengthens, renews and grants us what we need to rise up restored, once again.
In grief’s heaviness,

The Weight of Grief

Sculpture by Celeste Roberge

We’re burdened and worn;
Exhausted and spent,
In sorrow, forlorn.
Our bodies in need,
Of overdue rest;
Sometimes a shut down,
When sleep is the best.
God knows all our needs,
He loves us with grace;
Refreshes, renews,
And brings brighter days.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us Your goodness and grace, even in humanity’s most exhausted spaces. Thank You that You love us back to life again, even when our weariness from loss steals our resolve to rise and fight. Forgive us for thinking that we can somehow power through things without giving room for grief. Teach us to lean into You to show us how to properly process, rest and rise again in all that You are calling us to do. Lead us to love others well, so that their burdens may be lessened and their sorrow’s shortened. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You in our heaviness and seek You for rest and refreshment as You restore and renew us in You. Amen.
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word. – Psalm 119:28

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How We Love

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. – (1 John 4:9, NIV)

The light of God’s love shined within us when He sent His matchless Son into the world so that we might live through Him. – (1 John 4:9, TPT)

Because of this, the love of God is a reality among us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him. – (1 John 4:9, VOICE)

 

We know love, because God first loved us. Jesus made the way for all who choose believe and receive, to access a love so great, that once it is known, it must be shared. The beauty of God’s love is that it is so all-encompassing that we are filled to overflowing and cannot help but give love as we have been given. Our challenge is to actually receive what is being extended. When we truly take the time to taste and see how good God is and how vast His love is for each one of us, it is impossible to not be overwhelmed with gratitude. It is in that space of grace, when we are fully aware, that we long to give that which we have been given. May we each take pause and allow God’s love to wash over us so that we may view others through His lens of love.

 

The love of the Lord,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Is granted to us;

Ready to receive,

Through His Son, Jesus.

In Him there is life,

Grace and lasting love;

Floods both heart and mind,

As we trust above.

And as we receive,

We expand and grow;

Equipped to love well,

So grace overflows.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to show us love and to equip us with the capacity to love others as we are loved by You. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected to choose to love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may view others through Your lens of love, and extend all of Your goodness and grace to each person we meet. Show us how to love those around us in ways that demonstrate Your light and love in ways that bless their hearts most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive all that You have to give so that we may go forth and love like You. Amen.

 

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

 

But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him. – 1 John 2:5

Called to Be Light

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” – (Matthew 5:14-15, NIV)

“You are the light that shines for the world to see. You are like a city built on a hill that cannot be hidden. People don’t hide a lamp under a bowl. They put it on a lamp stand. Then the light shines for everyone in the house.” – (Matthew 5:14-15, ERV)

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine!” – (Matthew 5:14-15, MSG)

 

When we come into a relationship with Jesus, we discover that we are called and created to be His light in the world. The love that He deposits in us is meant to be shared as it illuminates through us. As we allow God room to move and transform, the more clearly His heart can be made known through our words, deeds and existence. Not one of us was created to live in isolation, but rather to be invested in a community where we can live and love in such a way, that His heart is shared and He is glorified through how we live. I imagine we all can think of examples of those who shine so brightly, that others cannot help but be drawn to the loving light that they exude wherever they go. May we walk so closely with God that His love within us, shines through us, as we live and love each day that we draw breath.

 

We’re called to be light,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

To make God’s love known;

Through our words and deeds,

May His light be shown.

The more that we soak,

In God’s holy space;

The more we reflect,

His love and His grace.

Choose walk with the Lord,

Seek His face to shine;

Reach out and love well,

Intended design.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be Your light unto the world. Thank You that You do not desire for any of us to live hidden or in isolation, but to be present and illuminate Your love to those around us. Thank You that Your love within us is greater than the darkness around us. Forgive us for attempting to be hidden or to isolate ourselves when You call us to be invested and present. Teach us to trust the power of Your love to light our way. Show us how to love like You, so that we may shine brightly wherever we go and bless all those whom we encounter. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your light to shine through our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness.” – John 12:46

United in Peace

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – (Ephesians 4:3, NIV)

You are joined together with peace through the Spirit. Do all you can to continue as you are, letting peace hold you together. – (Ephesians 4:3, ERV)

Make every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit has already created, with peace binding you together. – (Ephesians 4:3, VOICE)

 

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the celebration of life for my father-in-law with my husband, sister-in-law, her husband, and my brother-in-law. Incredibly, despite the eclectic collection of family brought together by loss, there was a sense of peace in the room, despite normal tensions between some of the various family members. Everyone seemed to set aside their differences for the sake of celebrating their eldest sibling/uncle. Stories were shared around tables, and much laughter filled the room. I think Donald would have been pleased to see smiling faces, rather than tears, and delighted at the distance that so many traveled to gather in his honor. The sentiment that Mark, his brother and I walked away with, was gratitude. We were thankful for the opportunity to see the aunts, uncles and cousins all together in one place, and to have had a positive and peaceful gathering together with family.

 

Each chance that we get,

img_2019-12-15_09-06-097590851263573878757.jpg

6/7 of the remaining siblings in top photo. Their children in photo below.

Rise up and choose peace;

Preserve what God gives,

Allow grace release.

A spirit of peace,

Invites others in;

Broadens your circle,

It’s how grace begins.

Go forth in God’s grace,

Sow always, His peace;

Let God’s love be known,

For it shall not cease.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace that grants us peace in places it seems unlikely. Thank You for empowering us with Your Spirit to extend peace wherever we go. Forgive us for the times that we have neglected our role as purveyors of peace. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to go before us, walk beside us, and dwell within us in peace. Show us how to love those around us in ways that promote Your peace wherever we go. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise up and share Your peace wherever we go. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

Sharing Shoulders

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. – (Galatians 6:2, NLT)

Help each other with your troubles. When you do this, you are obeying the law of Christ. – (Galatians 6:2, ERV)

Shoulder each other’s burdens, and then you will live as the law of the Anointed teaches us. – (Galatians 6:2, VOICE)

 

It is overwhelmingly obvious that God’s very best plan for us is to be invested in community. What I have discovered, is that the more I invest my heart, my time, and my willingness to be transparent, the more burdens are divided and overcome. This is true in my marriage, family, and in close friendships. The imagery of shouldering each other’s burdens is powerful, as it is a reminder to walk alongside and help bear the weight. In college, I was on our crew team. When we carried our racing shell down the hill to the dock, it was not a heavy burden if each rower stepped up and helped shoulder the weight. However, if members were missing, slacking off, or slow to get to the boathouse, the weight of the boat in our shoulders became extraordinarily taxing. It is no wonder we are called and commanded to help each other. The hope is that none become too heavily weighed down, as every heavy burden is shared. Sadly, the caveat is that the sharing of burdens is only possible if people are known. Community is key. To love people well, we need to know people and be known. May we ever invest in those whom Christ has placed in our community, so that we may love well and help shoulder one another’s burdens in accordance to God’s law of perfect love.

 

To walk side-by-side,img_2019-10-23_03-59-095236091504307344571.jpg

Or move hand-in-hand;

Helping each other,

Is what the Lord planned.

We are created,

For community;

To know and be known,

Let love be what’s seen.

Help one another,

With burdens we bear;

For weight divided,

Doable when shared.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are not meant to bear our burdens alone, nor are we to watch others struggle through theirs. Thank You that we have been created to be in community. Thank You that as we invest and know one another, we are equipped to help each other carry the weight of whatever comes our way. Forgive us for the times that we have attempted to shoulder our burdens alone, or have neglected to walk beside one whom You are calling us to help shoulder a struggle. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be sensitive to Your nudging. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we would be in the sort of community that walks side-by-side and hand-in-hand. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to grant us strength to have the shoulders needed to be the spouse, parent, family member and friend that You call us to be. Amen.

 

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

 

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. – 1 Peter 4:10

Let Love Have a Voice

Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips. – (Ecclesiastes 10:12, NIV)

Words from the wise bring praise, but words from a fool bring destruction. – (Ecclesiastes 10:12, ERV)

The words of a wise person are gracious. The talk of a fool self-destructs. – (Ecclesiastes 10:12, MSG)

 

As today’s passage continues to point to the power that is packed in our words, again I am reminded of how much we need wisdom to guide each word that we make audible. Words spoken in wisdom are heard and received as a gift, yet those that are not, bring destruction to our reputation. May we ever seek the Lord for wisdom, so that we may have a filter that weeds out foolish thoughts before we speak them, and insight to communicate gracious words in love.

 

Lord help us to speak, Weighing the Why

Wise words, full of grace;

Spoken in Your love,

Throughout all our days.

Please seal our lips,

When foolish thoughts come;

Protect us, we pray,

So Your will be done.

Grow us in wisdom,

Let love have a voice;

Lead us in Your light,

So all may rejoice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to speak in Your wisdom and truth. Thank You that as we do, Your love and light and life are shared with those around us. Forgive us for the times we have allowed the foolishness of our own selfishness to have a voice and wound those around us. Teach us to trust and rely on You to guard our hearts and help filter our words, so that what we say offers wisdom and grace. Show us how to love those around us well with our words. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to guard our hearts and guide our words, so that each word we speak is a reflection of You. Amen.

 

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

 

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 4:11

To Carry the Sweet Scent

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, NIV)

Our offering to God is to be the perfume of Christ that goes out to those who are being saved and to those who are being lost. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, ERV)

In a turbulent world where people are either dying or being rescued, we are the sweet smell of the Anointed to God our Father. – (2 Corinthians 2:15, VOICE)

 

When we invite Christ to come and dwell within us, He covers us with His goodness and grace. No longer do we wreak of the stench of sin and death, but we are made new, filled with His scent of hope and light, life and love. Our charge is to go forth in His love and love others. As we do, we carry His aroma by association. To those who are in need of hope and ready to receive it, the scent is sweet; yet to those who have set their heart on the sin they are in, the scent we bear is pungent. Incredibly, each one of us had to be drawn to God in our own time, before we recognized how sweet the fragrance of our Heavenly Father. May we ever seek the Lord to listen and do His will, so that we may carry His sweet scent wherever we go and in all that we say and do.

 

We carry the scent, img_2019-07-16_06-35-183702170351870846491.jpg

Before God above;

Of Jesus, His Son,

Through how we choose love.

For as we love well,

The fragrance of life;

Shared with each other,

Brings an end to strife.

Yet, sometimes the smell,

Is not found so sweet;

Only the ready,

Come forth in receipt.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Christ brings the sweet scent of life and hope and love to all who are ready to receive Him. Thank You that as we do, we too may bear the favorable fragrance found in You. Forgive us for the times that we have been a bit pungent, as our words or actions did not clearly reflect who You have created us to become. Teach us to trust and rely on You more, so that we would bear Your beloved scent before all others. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may embrace Your sweet fragrance of life. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to ever transform us, so that we may carry the blessed aroma of Your Son, that leads to everlasting life. Amen.

 

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

 

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16