United Together

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! – (Psalm 133:1, NIV)

Oh how wonderful, how pleasing it is when God’s people come together as one! – (Psalm 133:1, ERV)

How truly wonderful and delightful it is to see brothers and sisters living together in sweet unity! – (Psalm 133:1, TPT)

There is nothing quite so sweet as when a group of people lives, works, and goes about their days in unity. Unity does not mean that all see eye-to-eye on all things, but rather that there is mutual respect and appreciation, as all are aiming for a similar goal. If we love, respect and prefer one another, unity naturally follows. God was intentional in how we were each designed. We each have strengths and purposes that contribute to the whole when we exist in community. May we ever pursue peace as we navigate each new day with the intent to love well, so that we may walk in unity with those whom God has placed around us.

United in peace,

Surrounded in love;

God grant us the grace,

To walk well with love.

For we were designed,

To live side by side;

Shoulder to shoulder,

With God as our guide.

He shows us the way,

To live and love best;

Care for each other,

Give grace and find rest.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created each of us for community. Thank You that You show us how to live and love in a way that brings unity. Forgive us for the times that we have not sought to see others through Your eyes. Teach us to turn to You first, so that we may gain perspective and capacity to listen and love. Show us how to love those around us best, so that all may feel included and valued in the community. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to live and love in a way that unites and brings peace. Amen.

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

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

Piecing Together

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, NIV)

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people. But in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, ERV)

In the human body there are many parts and organs, each with a unique function. And so it is in the body of Christ. For though we are many, we’ve all been mingled into one body in Christ. This means that we are all vitally joined to one another, with each contributing to the others.

As we prepare to welcome kids back to school in person, a huge focus on the forefront of everyone’s minds is to find ways to make connections and help kids engage and feel safe and welcome in our school and classroom communities. God created us for community. If we were not made to be with others and work together, we would all be experts and self-sufficient. Instead, He gifted us each with unique skills, talents and strengths that we have to offer the community that we are placed within. Just as a school would not work without staff with different strengths, a classroom is no different. Our task and challenge is to find ways to help kids see their unique values and strengths, and help them realize how important they are to the class as a whole. It is my hope and prayer that each student and staff member is able to see the value in others and in themselves, as we rejoin to meet in person after so much time apart. May we seek the Lord to show us ways to both participate and facilitate best in building community together.

Though we are many,

Together we’re one;

United purpose,

As each day’s begun.

Show us the pieces,

And how we each fit;

Together in strength,

Let our hearts be knit.

The unique colors,

Sizes and the shapes;

When fit together,

Each piece has a place.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us for community. Thank You that we have different strengths to offer, and each of us has a place and purpose in the communities to which we are placed. Forgive us for not seeing the beauty and blessing held in each member. Teach us to recognize and encourage the unique blessing found in each individual, and show us how the best way to help the parts work as a whole. Lead us to love and value everyone the way that You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the part that each of us plays in the communities in which we have been placed. Amen.

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

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. – Proverbs 20:5

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

Take Joy in the Journey

For You make me glad by Your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what Your hands have done. How great are Your works, Lord, how profound Your thoughts! – (Psalm 92:4-5, NIV)

No wonder I’m so glad; I can’t keep it in! Lord, I’m shouting with glee over all You’ve done for me: what mighty miracles and Your power at work – just to name a few! Depths of purpose and layers of meaning saturate everything You do. – (Psalm 92:4-5, TPT)

Because You, O Eternal One, thrill me with the things You have done, I will sing with joy in light of Your deeds. Your works are marvelous, O Eternal One! Your thoughts are unfathomable. – (Psalm 92:4-5, VOICE)

Each new day, we have a choice – we can either focus on our struggles, or we can take joy in the faithfulness of God. Some days, this is more difficult than others. This morning as I woke from a very restless night’s sleep, I found myself frustrated and grumpy. It took little time to ponder how God has provided for what my heart has needed, and I could not help but smile and find myself aware of how God works on our behalf. God’s thoughts and plans are not our own, and He can use every test as a testimony. If I pause and reflect, there have been countless times that the Lord has taken my struggles and turned them into strengths, and He has turned my trials into triumphs. In the midst of my challenges, I must remember that God is faithful and is ever working on my behalf. He does a work in my heart as well, and leads me through whatever obstacle lies before me. The Lord is loving and kind, working mightily in us, before us, and through us, even in the moments that we are oblivious to how He might move. May we ever praise the Lord for His love and faithfulness, even when we cannot see how He will work things out.

The work of Your hands,

Is faithful and true;

You help and hold us,

As You lead us through.

My heart sings for joy,

At all You have done;

Our loving Father,

The Most Holy One.

Help us to reflect,

Remember with praise;

Your presence and help,

Miraculous ways.

Lead us with Your love,

When we cannot see;

How things will work out,

May we trust in Thee.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind, and that Your ways are so much higher than our own. Thank You that You work on our behalf, and lead us through the deserts and valleys that are a part of our journey. Forgive us for not lifting praise when troubles come; for You are always worthy. Teach us to depend on You in faith, and to ever praise You for what You have done, are doing, and will continue to do. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways that make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for who You are and all that You have done, trusting that You will forever remain our faithful Father. Amen.

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

But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. – Psalm 5:11

Use the Gifts

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, NIV)

God has shown you His grace in many different ways. So be good servants and use whatever gift He has given you in a way that will best serve each other. – (1 Peter 4:10, ERV)

Use whatever gift you’ve received for the good of one another so that you can show yourselves to be good stewards of God’s grace in all its varieties. – (1 Peter 4:10, VOICE)

 

One of the reasons that I love to coach is because I was blessed with coaches who encouraged and inspired me to be the best version of myself, both on and off of the playing field/gym floor. A gift that I feel God has birthed and grown in me, is one of encouragement. This is an asset for a coach, and one of the things that I enjoy immensely about the job that I have partaken in for the majority of my life. There is great reward in encouraging and helping young athletes grow, and such joy in watching them discover the fruit of their labor. This morning, I have an interview for a high school assistant gymnastics coaching position at our local high school. My experience has been coaching recreational and middle school gymnastics since I was sixteen, yet the high school arena is entirely new, barring my own experience as a gymnast. As a middle school head coach, this would be an incredible opportunity to learn the sport at an entirely new level. For me, the hope is to grow that which is already within, so that I may become better equipped to lead well, and to extend what I have to offer to this group as we grow together. God is good, and He is faithful. I am embracing the opportunity to learn, and will serve in this season, whether I am hired for the paid spot or not.

 

We’re all given gifts, img_2019-11-21_04-33-541632839495721985461.jpg

In various forms;

Intended to serve,

Blessings God affords.

Whatever we have,

We are meant to use;

To extend God’s grace,

Purposeful pursuit.

May we each go forth,

And serve as we’re called;

Operate in strength,

Through God’s love installed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You create each one of us with strengths, gifts and purpose. Thank You that You provide new opportunities for us to grow and utilize that which we have been given. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to navigate in the strength that we have been granted, or attempt to be someone or something other than who we are created to be. Teach us to lean into You so that we would be confident in that which we are called and created to do. Show us how to love those around us in exactly the way that it is needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk out our purpose in the gifts that You have planted and purposed in each of us. Amen.

 

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

 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17

Authenticity

Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. – (Ephesians 4:25, NIV)

So you must stop telling lies. “You must always speak the truth to each other,” because we all belong to each other in the same body. – (Ephesians 4:25, ERV)

What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. – (Ephesians 4:25, MSG)

 

Yesterday, as our pastors continued in their series “DNA” (The core beliefs we are made of at our church), the topic covered was “Authenticity”. Pastor Misty began by unpacking that authenticity, in the context of the body of Christ, is fully knowing and understanding who you are in Christ, and living accordingly. The verse she began with, was Ephesians 4:25. We have to set aside our idea of what we think we “ought to be”, and choose to live out the life of who we are called to be. Do we seek to live up to the world’s expectations, or God’s design? It seems like a tall order, yet when we allow our hearts and minds to be made new in Christ, it is far easier to be “real” than attempt to fit in a mold that was not designed for anyone to actually fit. We are each uniquely designed with different gifts and purposes. As we operate in the strengths that God has intentionally granted, others benefit and we continue to grow. Some common telltale signs of those who are actively seeking to be authentic, are those who: speak the truth in love, forgive time and time again, actively pursue peace, and continue to seek to grow as they allow others to speak into their lives in ways that encourage positive growth as life-long learners. May we be fearless in our pursuit to authentically be the people of purpose, for which we were each uniquely and wonderfully designed.

 

Seek the face of God, Authenticity

And choose to be true;

Walk in your purpose,

Authentically you.

Lay down pretenses,

And all the “ought to’s”;

Discover your gifts,

Then put them to use.

Speak the truth in love,

Always choose forgive;

Seek peace and new growth,

Authentically live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be in community. Thank You that You designed each one of us with a plan and a purpose. Thank You that as we seek You and grow in You, we begin to understand how to walk out our days authentically as who You have intentionally created us to be. Forgive us for the times that we have held back or tried to be something other than who You have designed us to be. Show us how to love those around us well with the gifts, talents and purposes that You have placed within each of our hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we actively pursue a life of authenticity in You. 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

The Parts Make the Whole

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. We all have different gifts. Each gift came because of the grace God gave us. – (Romans 12:4-6a, ERV)

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. – (Romans 12:4-6a, NIV)

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as part of His body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. – (Romans 12:4-6a, MSG)

 

This is such a critical message to remember in community – be it in family, friend groups, work or other circles in which we gather. Each of us are created with unique strengths and giftings, intended to utilize them for the encouragement and betterment of those around us. I know this to be true in my family, marriage, and among close friends, and I am extremely grateful for the way that different gifts work together to create a stronger whole. As my colleagues and I spend the week in trainings and meetings to prepare for the upcoming school year, I intend to look for and celebrate the different giftings that each part of our staff brings to the whole of our school community. It is the people that have kept me in the same school for the entire twenty-three years of my teaching career thus far. Superintendents and higher ups have come and gone, yet, there have been core people who have helped keep a familial culture in existence over the years. Those who have come in and embraced the sense of community, have remained and strengthened what was started long ago. When kids begin joining us in a little over a week, it will be our charge to identify the strengths and gifts that each of them brings to our classroom. It is my hope and prayer that we not compare ourselves nor them to each other, but rather see and celebrate each one as is, recognizing the potential in all that is yet to be.

After speaking with mom last evening, I received a bit more clarification about her appointment last week and the hold-up with in-home therapies. Apparently, it is not a need for seeing another specialist, but rather a bit of a fight/search to find in-home therapies that her new insurance will cover. This is extraordinarily frustrating, as a different insurance would have been selected, had we known it would have been so difficult. God is good, and He is faithful to meet mom’s needs, so we are trusting that He will make a way quickly, as a long delay is not beneficial to mom’s ongoing rehabilitation and recovery. On the positive side, she is working hard, making sure to work on her walking multiple times each day. Please join us in praying that all will be worked out and settled this week, so that perhaps as my nephews return to school, mom will be able to begin her therapies back up at home.

 

We each have a role, aristotle_quote_the_whole_is_greater_than_the_sum_of_its_parts_1439598_1807304324820819141384587.png

A part we’re to play;

Gifted and equipped,

God has made the way.

When we choose to live,

To walk out our days;

As He intended,

Our lives bring Him praise.

Part of the body,

Embracing our role;

Encourage others,

To work as a whole.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created each of us with different strengths and gifts, and intended us for community so that we could work together to be strong and whole. Forgive us for comparison, for that is the thief of joy that leads to us thinking either too little or too much of ourselves. Teach us to instead, appreciate all that You create and grow in each of us, and to encourage those around us well. Show us how to love those You place in our lives in a way that celebrates the unique way that You have created each of them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for each person that You have placed in our community to contribute to the whole. Amen.

 

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

 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – John 15:12

We Belong to Each Other

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, NIV)

Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts. These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others. – (Romans 12:4-5, ERV)

For in the same way that one body has so many different parts, each with different functions; we, too – the many – are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone. – (Romans 12:4-5, VOICE)

 

Both my Viking and I sat in awe and wonder as we reflected on the variety of friends and family that had joined us to gather to celebrate our new life together yesterday. There were educators and police officers, medical professionals, business people, football friends and childhood treasures, church family and those that have been family since birth – it was wonderful to see the evidence of how each has touched our lives and helped us become together, what we could not be on our own. God is good, and He blesses us with a body of people who have a variety of gifts and talents, so that together, we are able to become what He intends for us. May we ever embrace those whom God places in our lives and give Him praise for the gift that they are to us.

 

Just as we’ve a body, wp-15352968608005978420073665084020.jpg

That has many parts;

So too, we have people,

With strengths and great hearts.

Each with different gifts,

Talents meant to share;

Love and laughter to give,

Not things to compare.

All thanks unto the Lord,

Who grants by His grace;

Treasured variety,

By His loving ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace that grants us community that is varied in people who have different gifts, talents and life experience to speak into our lives. Forgive us for not treasuring the gifts in others as much as You do. Teach us to see others through Your eyes, so that we would recognize and appreciate the strengths, talents and gifts that You have given to those around us. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we too, may utilize the strengths and talents You have placed in us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to see and appreciate others through Your eyes, and to utilize what You have given to us for Your purposes. Amen.

 

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

 

One who loves a pure heart and speaks with grace will have the king for a friend. – Proverbs 22:11

Each One a Part

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. – (1 Corinthians 12:27, NIV)

All of you together are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of that body. – (1 Corinthians 12:27, ERV)

Now here is what I am trying to say: All of you together are the one body of Christ, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it. – (1 Corinthians 12:27, TLB)

You are the body of the Anointed One, and each one of you is a unique and vital part of it. – (1 Corinthians 12:27, TPT)

 

In this busy season, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that each of us have a purpose for which we were uniquely designed. As we walk out our days doing the things which we are called and created to do, we are being part of the bigger body of Christ, that would not function as it were meant to if we did not do our part. Though our part may seem insignificant, it is vital to the big picture. Just as a person becomes acutely aware of the absence of the use of a finger due to an injury (though a seemingly small part of the body), we too are noticed if we are not present or able to function as we were designed, regardless of the size of the body to which we belong. May we each remember that we are part of the body of Christ, uniquely designed with a purpose and a place that is needed to help the body function as it is intended.

 

The body of Christ, Love Made Known

Is both vast and wide;

Each person crafted,

With purpose inside.

We’re called to go forth,

And live out our days;

Living our purpose,

As this brings God praise.

And as we do this,

We become as one;

The body of Christ,

Familial union.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call and create us to be part of Your body. Thank You that You do not expect us to navigate this life on our own, but rather You surround us by people who have different strengths and giftings so that we can be stronger together in You. Thank You that we are designed to do life together. Forgive us for thinking that we have to do things on our own, or that we do not have anything to offer. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring our best self to all that we do, and trust that who You have created us to be is exactly the part of the body that we are meant to bring each day to the community where we are planted. Show us how to love well the people who surround us. Help us to encourage and build up the body as You build up and encourage us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the part for which we have each been uniquely created and called. Amen.

 

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

 

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

The Lens of Love

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. – (1 Samuel 16:7b, NLT)

God doesn’t look at what people see. People judge by what is on the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart. – (1 Samuel 16:7b, ERV)

God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans only see what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart. – (1 Samuel 16:7b, CEB)

 

I am so grateful that God sees beyond the exterior that we present to the world and gets to the heart of the matter. He sees faith, hope and love, even when the world cannot. God will take the smallest seed of good and grow it into something greater. People tend to notice faults, whereas God sees strength and beauty and potential in the glory of His created. The more we seek and depend on Him, the more we begin to see others through His eyes. May we pursue the Lord with our whole hearts so that we may see others through the lens of His love.

 

Judge not appearance, the-lens-of-love.jpg

Of all those you see;

But look at the heart,

And love lavishly.

For that which is seen,

It never will last;

Yet the heart God sees,

Created, steadfast.

Let’s look at others,

Through Love’s lavish lens;

To see true beauty,

And choose grace extend.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not look at us the same way that people do. Thank You that You look past how things appear and get straight to the heart. You see and You know the heart of the matter, and You love us through it all. Thank You that Your love shows us how we are meant to love one another. Forgive us for the times that we judge people or circumstances based on what we see. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would look to You to learn the heart rather than superficial appearances. Show us how to see others through Your lens of love so that we can extend the same goodness and grace to others that we have so generously been given. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to see others through Your lens of love. Amen.

 

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

 

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7