Community Brings Comfort

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them. – (Matthew 18:20, HCSB)

Yes, if two or three people are together believing in Me, I am there with them. – (Matthew 18:20, ERV)

For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. – (Matthew 18:20, VOICE)

This is one of the reasons we are meant to be in community. When we join together with one another, God is present among us. It does not mean that He won’t be with us on our own, but there is a powerful awareness of His presence when we gather with others. There is something tangible about the nearness of God when there are at least one or two others with You. I imagine that is the reason that we gather for weddings, funerals, baby showers, bridal showers, birthdays and the like – all are occasions to join with others in celebration, grief, expectation or gratitude. Tomorrow will be just such an occasion, as a friend, classmate, teammate and fellow coach has to lay her husband to rest. My hope and prayer is that God is tangibly present to comfort, provide, grant wisdom and His perfect peace. He is always good, even when our circumstances are not, so we can trust that He will move in the hearts of all who join together in remembrance. 

O Lord, we invite,

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Your presence come in;

Your hands to hold us,

As Your love floods in.

May peace be present,

In the midst of loss;

Your hope tangible,

As love comes across.

Across the heartache,

And what should have been;

In the loneliness,

May Your peace come in.

Lord, be ever near,

Your heart truly known;

May comfort surround,

And hope in You grown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to gather in Your Name, for when we do, You promise to be present. Thank You that You are already preparing the way for tomorrow, as You know every need that will arrive. Forgive us for isolating when we are meant to allow others in. Show us how to reach out and be present with others so that they may experience Your love, comfort and peace, even when it does not make sense. Lead us in Your love to lift others up and be Your hands, feet, heart and voice made tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and praise You for knowing our needs and surrounding us with community in every season. Amen.

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

When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy. – Psalm 94:19

We Were the One

“What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it?” – (Luke 15:4, HCSB)

“Suppose one of you has 100 sheep, but one of them gets lost. What will you do? You will leave the other 99 in the field and go out and look for the lost sheep.  You will continue to search for it until you find it.” – (Luke 15:4, ERV)

“Wouldn’t every single one of you, if you have 100 sheep and lose one, leave the 99 in their grazing lands and go out searching for the lost sheep until you find it?” – (Luke 15:4, VOICE)

Jesus views us in the same way. Each of His kids is of infinite worth, and He passionately pursues us when we have gone astray or have become lost. His heart is ever for us, to protect us and love us well. Additionally, I am certain it is why He places us in community. When we are invested and engaged with others, we are less likely to become lost or wander off on our own. Together, we have each other to help us remain engaged and accountable to be who He has created us to be. May we ever seek the Shepherd who loves each of us so much that He would relentlessly pursue us if we became lost. 

The Lord’s our shepherd,

Watching over us;

In love, He protects,

Our faithful Jesus.

If we go astray,

He’ll ever pursue;

The heart of the lost,

To cleanse and renew.

For in Him is grace,

Forever, He’s good;

He helps us see Him,

Makes love understood.

Each day we draw breath,

He’s present to care;

He loves with His life,

He’s ever aware.

He knows when we’re near,

Or if we are lost;

His heart beats for us,

Made clear at the cross.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You pursue us when we are lost or have gone astray. Thank You that You know and see us individually, and care about every detail of our lives. Forgive us for somehow thinking that You don’t, or for not recognizing how deeply You love us all. Teach us to see every single person we encounter as one whom You would leave all to pursue and bring safely into Your care. Show us how to love everyone as You do, so that those who are hurting, struggling, or wandering aimlessly would be pursued as the “One” with Your love and care. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for pursuing us when we were the “One”, and for placing us in community to keep us from wandering. Amen.

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

God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. – Psalm 36:7

Thankful for Faithful Love

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. – (Psalm 106:1, HCSB)

Give thanks to the Lord because He is good! His faithful love will last forever! – (Psalm 106:1, ERV)

Praise the Eternal! Thank Him because He is good and His loyal love will never end. – (Psalm 106:1, VOICE)

One of the things that I am most grateful to God for is family. Today, as my sister celebrates another trip around the sun, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift God gave me in my sister. Growing up, I had a built in best friend, and as an adult, I have a confidant and someone to be totally transparent with, without fear of judgment. Together, we have navigated some of the greatest celebrations and most trying circumstances that life can offer. When I ponder the loyal love of God, my sister (and our mom) are reminders of how He intended it to be.  May we ever give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and His faithful love that knows no end, and for the tangible examples of this love that He has given us in our lives.

All praise to the Lord,

For He is so good;

Loyal in His love,

Our hope understood.

Praise for the blessings,

Bestowed unto us;

Family, loved ones,

That love like Jesus.

Today, I give thanks,

For sister and friend;

A lifetime of love,

Good that knows no end.

Lord, bless my sister,

My favorite gift;

Keep her in Your care,

With blessings, uplift.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and Your faithful love. Thank You for the gift that You give us through friends and family that demonstrate Your love in tangible ways. Forgive us for taking these blessings for granted. Teach us to treasure the people whom You have placed in our lives to show us more of Your heart for us. Show us how to love well, all those around us, and may we uplift and encourage each with the faithful love that You give to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your love and faithfulness, and for the beautiful blessings that You bestow upon us through family and friends. Amen.

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

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34

He Grants Us His Rest

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, HCSB)

“Come to Me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, ERV)

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, NLT)

God’s timing is perfect. Our need for rest does not escape Him. The six or so weeks between the New Year and this lovely long weekend, have seemed more like six months. Between being busy and the ongoing navigation of teaching and coaching in a pandemic, the weight of the last many weeks has taken its toll. In anticipation of the much-needed rest, I did some research and found a great AirbNb for a long weekend escape. It is in a small quiet town, right on the beach, and the weather is forecast to be rainy and gray. The combination of these things are promoters of rest. I anticipate lazy, leisurely mornings, relaxing days and restful nights. For both my love and me, it is exactly what we are needing together. The provision of time and resources to get away are an answer to prayer. May we ever seek the Lord to help us lay down our burdens and find rest in Him. 

Choose turn to Jesus,

When weary and worn;

He grants us His rest,

As new strength is born.

For in Him there’s peace,

He knows what is best;

To refresh our hearts,

And give our souls rest.

Lead us Lord Jesus,

To find rest in You;

Lighten the burdens,

As love’s what You do.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we come to You with our heaviness and weariness, You provide spaces and time for rest. Thank You for Your kindness and love that lightens our load and grants us the rest and refreshment we need. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to come to You, for You are faithful to meet us as we come to You and supply what we need most. Teach us to trust and rely on You always. Show us how to love well, so that those around us are blessed and refreshed too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for rest and praise You for Your provision. Amen.

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

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

Grateful for the Gift

My beloved is mine and I am his. – (Song of Songs 2:16a, NIV)

My love is mine, and I am his. – (Song of Songs 2:16a, VOICE)

My darling, I am yours, and you are mine. – (Song of Songs 2:16a, CEV)

Today I am feeling extra grateful for the gift that God gave me in the form of my spouse. He came into my life when it was least expected, yet fully needed, and we have been building a beautiful life together ever since. Together, we have navigated some serious trials and incredible blessings, and continue to work together as a team to move forward in the direction to which we are called. Our children are learning how to navigate adulthood, and we are learning how to love, support and encourage them through the process. Happy Birthday to my Viking, who loves me well and is the one my heart adores. May we embrace the ones whom God has given us, and move forward in love and purpose, each new step we take.

The Lord is so good,

For He knows our need;

And blesses our hearts,

As in love, He leads.

Through just the right ones,

That love us so well;

His heart is made known,

Through grace true love tells.

Embraced in kindness,

Encouraged, held up;

One gifted to me,

As he fills my cup.

The one my heart loves,

Who calls me his own;

To walk through this life,

As true love is shown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessing and the gift that You have given me in the one my heart adores. Thank You that You knew exactly what I needed and merged our paths together at just the right time. Forgive us for taking even a moment for granted that You have blessed us with. Teach us to appreciate each new day, challenge and victory that we face together. Show us how to love one another and those around us with a love like Yours. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as I praise You and thank You for the incredible gift that You have given me in my Viking. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good. – Psalm 34:8a

Counsel and Correction

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. – (Proverbs 19:20, NIV) 

Listen to advice and accept discipline; then you, too, will become wise. – (Proverbs 19:20, ERV) 

Take good counsel and accept correction – that’s the way to live wisely and well. – (Proverbs 19:20, MSG) 

Not one of us has it so together that we do not have room to grow. Advice and correction are ways that we have the opportunity to do better and be better. The challenge is that we must be willing to listen and apply the wisdom that is passed on to us, as we ever pursue more of God and His will for our lives. It is important to invest time in the word and in prayer, as well as finding wise and trustworthy people, whom we can go to when we need advice and allow room for correction in spaces where we are off-course. This is where community is so important. We must know others and be known in order to both give and receive good counsel as we ever pursue all that God has for us. I am blessed to be long-invested in a church community that is rich in wise people who have more life experience than I do. They have navigated the road before me, and have successfully traversed treacherous and trying times. I have a few trusted individuals that are my go-to people when I have a question or concern, or simply need to hear a voice of reason. Always we ought to go to God first, however, it is no accident that we discover people around us who are willing and equipped to give sound advice. May we ever seek the Lord for wisdom, correction and redirection, and allow trusted voices the opportunity to speak truth into our lives. 

We all need advice, 

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To live this life well; 

Graciously given, 

For truth good compels. 

The word of the Lord, 

And seeking His face; 

Are ways to improve, 

How we run our race. 

For it’s not a sprint, 

But a marathon; 

Keep moving forward, 

Let wisdom lead on. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do not expect us to have it all together, nor navigate this life alone. Thank You that wise counsel and direction are found in Your word and through the people that You intentionally place in our lives. Forgive us for the times that we have either attempted to run our race alone, or have neglected to listen to the correction or direction that we need to keep pressing on well. Teach us to trust You and trust those around us who are intentional in their pursuit of You. Show us how to love those around us as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead, correct and direct us, and allow others to speak truth into our lives. Amen. 

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

Since You are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of Your Name lead and guide me. – Psalm 31:3

Together in Peace

So all of you should live together in peace. Try to understand each other. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Be kind and humble. – (1 Peter 3:8, ERV) 

Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. – (1 Peter 3:8, MSG) 

And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. – (1 Peter 3:8, TLB) 

If only the world would follow this directive… The more we seek to understand one another, the greater our love grows for each other. This requires compassion, sympathy, humility, and love. A tender heart with the intent to love, makes friends feel like family, and brings peace to wherever they are present. Being agreeable in this way does not mean that we agree nor align with everything that those around us think or believe, but it does mean that we are willing to listen and learn so that we have compassion to for those who see the world differently than we do. Our charge is not to argue, belittle nor disavow differences, but rather to seek to understand, and above all, love. May we seek the Lord for wisdom and strength, so that we may live together in peace. Show us, Lord, how to be agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate and humble towards one another. 

If we all followed, 

What God has in mind; 

We’d all be humble, 

And choose to be kind. 

The love God gives, 

Would be what is seen; 

True understanding, 

Through pure listening. 

Without agenda, 

But rather to learn; 

So compassion’s shown, 

And in love, we’d turn. 

Turn to each other, 

With love and with grace; 

Helping our neighbors, 

As peace fills this place. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us and tell us what it is to love like You. Forgive us for the horrible ways that we react toward one another, rather than seeking to understand. Show us how to listen, learn, and love like You. Lead us to love those around us in ways that create community and safety and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to be agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate and humble. Amen. 

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

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:14

How Love Abounds

My beloved is mine and I am his… – (Song of Songs 2:16a, NIV) 

My love is mine, and I am his. – (Song of Songs 2:16a, VOICE) 

Song of Songs captures the blessings beheld in love as God intended. Over the last four years, I have come to understand such love in a very tangible way, especially over the last two years, as today my Viking and I celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Genuine love establishes a bond that requires the dedication and devotion of both partners, so that no matter what comes, it can be faced together. For me, God provided the man that I never knew I needed. He loves fiercely, gently and with a devotion that I have never questioned. We have had to navigate some serious challenges over the last two years, between the loss of his father, my mom’s stroke, and various other familial health concerns. Additionally, we have shared great joys. Our three children have all now graduated from high school and are on their way to navigating adulthood well. One is working full-time, and the other two are preparing for their first year of college in the fall. There have been births, deaths, weddings and milestones that we have celebrated and grieved together. Even in this crazy season of COVID-19, we have found comfort, security and safety in Christ and one another. There is no one that I would rather navigate this life with, and I am so grateful that God blessed me with such love. May we all seek the Lord as our provider of love the way He intended, and give Him praise all of our days, as we discover together, how great His love truly is. 

To fully embrace, 

All that God’s love is; 

We must choose to trust, 

And know we are His. 

As we come to know, 

His kindness and grace; 

Our hearts are opened, 

To God’s loving ways. 

Such blessings are found, 

The more that we know; 

His heart is for us, 

To bless and to grow. 

O what a treasure, 

To have and to hold; 

The one He’s given, 

Such love does unfold. 

Today I give thanks, 

For the love I’ve found; 

As I’m fiercely loved, 

And goodness abounds. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for first loving us and for designing us to love and be loved. Thank You for the incredible blessing of a husband that loves me completely, despite all of my flaws and shortcomings. Forgive me for the times that I have failed to love as You intended. Show me how to love completely, each and every day that I draw breath. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as Your love is made known through willing hearts. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love as You created us to love. Amen. 

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

From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. – Ephesians 4:16

The Way to Love Well

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, ERV)

But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love. – (Ephesians 4:32, TPT)

 

Kindness and compassion, love and forgiveness, must be how we allow God to lead us in His grace, if we are to love as He loves us. Mother’s Day, or any other day that is intended to celebrate an individual – be it a birthday, anniversary, accomplishment or the like – is a perfect opportunity for these attributes to be extended, especially when what is hoped for is not realized. For example, my incredible husband is a total acts of service guy, his love language is to go above and beyond to do the little things that keep our home running smoothly, and does so without any sort of “honey do” list. In fact, he does things long before I even consider the need for them to be done, and if an issue arises, he fixes it barely after the concern has left my mouth. I, on the other hand, am all about quality time. My heart’s desire is to spend time with the people I love, doing fun things together. Being outdoors, playing games, hiking, walking, biking, going to the beach – you name it – anything together where all those present are engaged, and my heart is filled. As you can imagine, the two methods of expressing love do not always align. Saturday, I did have quality time with the family, and quality time with my love. Sunday, however, turned into a list of things that needed to be accomplished, and it felt as if Mother’s Day was all but forgotten. Now, encouraging words are a close second, and my boys did make a point to speak sweet and encouraging words of their appreciation to me as their mom. They were apologetic about not having a gift, and my genuine reply was about them being my greatest gift, and the two of them continuing to work hard and finish the school year strong would be the best gift they could give.  After a weird lull in the late afternoon, Mark and I spoke about hopes versus reality, and there was kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness extended on both sides by His grace. The evening was concluded with quality time, playing our favorite board game, as love and laughter filled the room, and my heart. We are still learning how to love one another best, and I am certain that it is a lifelong process. Thankfully, we are committed to learning and growing together, and depend on God to guide us in the process. Grace after grace after grace… May we all be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other in the same way that Christ forgives each of us, as we learn to love as we are loved by God.

 

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Forgiveness and grace;

The way to love well,

As we run our race.

In the same way God,

Loves and He forgives;

We’re called do likewise,

To bless as we live.

Extend forgiveness,

Lavishly give grace;

Love as we are loved,

Wherever we’re placed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving through the example of Your Son. Thank You that as we seek You, You equip us to be kind, compassionate and forgiving to one another. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to extend to others what you so freely give to us. Teach us to trust and rely on You more. Show us how to love others with kindness, compassion and forgiveness as You would have us love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to love those around us well. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Faith Like Job

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth. – (Job 19:25, NIV)

I know that there is someone to defend me and that there is someone to defend me and that He lives! And in the end, He will stand here on earth and defend me. – (Job 19:25, ERV)

 

The unwavering faith of Job amazes me every time I am brought back to any portion of his story. Job lost his family, his friends, his wealth and his health, yet his faith remained unflappable. In the midst of all of his loss, his friends tell him all of the possible reasons why such devastation had befallen him, yet Job knew he had been faithful to God and clung to his faith in the truth that was securely planted within him. Incredibly, Job’s story does not end in his space of desolation, but rather in one of restoration, redemption and abundant blessing. God still works in the same powerful ways. When my marriage ended several years ago, I grieved the loss and did not think it would be possible to allow my heart to love again. I trusted God with me and my sons, and it was good. Little did I know, but God had so much more for me; for us. God brought me a partner and help mate, someone to be strong when I am not, yet one whom I can challenge to grow too. His timing could not have been better, as we have weathered some intense storms together. Separately, they may have sunk us, but together, with Christ as our anchor, we have remained steady and secure. There will always be trials in this broken world, but when we know and trust God, we have assurance that the difficult will not last forever. We know that our forever will be far better than anything we could begin to hope or imagine in the here and now, and with all this time at home, I’ll bet many of us can imagine some fairly fantastic settings and spaces. May we pursue the Lord and trust in Him, so that He may grow more deeply in us, an unwavering faith.

 

My Redeemer lives,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

I have certainty;

For in my own life,

He’s loved faithfully.

Not just in theory,

Or stories of old;

Through my own trials,

My hand He did hold.

Granted provision,

For every need;

At the darkest times,

His love took the lead.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are for us, even when it feels as if the world is against us. Thank You that our ultimate hope is eternity with You. Forgive us for forgetting the strength, hope and power that is present in You. Teach us to trust and rely on “God with us”, for You are always near. Show us how to love those around us best, so that we might encourage and strengthen them in hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your faithful presence and hold fast to the hope we know is found in You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Who is like You, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and Your faithfulness surrounds You. – Psalm 89:8