Bloom Under Pressure

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. – (James 1:2-3, NIV)

My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you reason to be very happy. You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. – (James 1:2-3, ERV)

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. – (James 1:2-3, VOICE)

I most appreciate the Voice translation of this particular passage, as it is far easier to relate to finding joy in the midst of our trials, rather than considering them joy. The older I get, the more I both witness and experience this truth. Between the progression of aging in both us and our parents, the frequency of trials and health challenges in our lives and those of dear family and friends around us seem to be on the rise. What I continue to witness is faith rising up, and joy found in the midst of unpleasant circumstances as patience and endurance are provided. God is faithful to meet us every step we take, be it through the deepest valleys or on the highest peaks. One of the greatest things that I am continuing to learn is that God provides people that lighten our loads – be it physically, emotionally, or financially in the center of our storms. Throughout the early days and weeks following my mom’s stroke, people sent notes, called, encouraged and lifted up, which strengthened us and brought joy in the midst of the fearful unknown. On Thursday, I was supposed to have a consultation with a surgeon about a procedure to remove cancerous cells from my upper lip. The appointment turned into a bigger biopsy than I had previously had, and resulted in a couple of stitches, with further surgery still looming ahead. Incredibly, I feel total peace about the ultimate outcome of all this. My trepidation lies in the process. Even with the unanticipated procedure, God provided a kind staff that blended humor and compassion perfectly for me. Despite the unpleasantness of the process, their demeanor set my heart at ease and I left the appointment with much gratitude for those charged with my care. Additionally, I had a conversation with a colleague and friend whose father had undergone something similar to what is in store for me, and she was able to share great encouragement as he had minimal scarring and complete success. God is good and He uses our circumstances to grow and encourage us as He strengthens us with His overwhelming love. May you be encouraged by His goodness and kindness, even in the midst of challenges, today and always.

In heartache and joy,

Challenges and peace;

The Lord is near us,

And strength He’ll increase.

Through each new trial,

Faith He will increase;

As we choose to trust,

His power’s released.

In the dark spaces,

Keep seeking His light;

Endurance will bloom,

To joy and delight.

Delight in moments,

Where His love is clear;

Trust in the process,

God is always near.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You use our trials and challenges to grow us in strength and endurance. Thank You that You provide joy, even in the most difficult circumstances. Forgive us for our fears and frustrations in the midst of the unexpected trials that we face. Teach us how to lean into You for strength and endurance as we navigate whatever comes our way. Show us how to encourage and support those around us well, so that they may see tangible evidence of Your goodness and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to be our strength in the struggles, and praise You for Your provision of joy despite our circumstances. Amen.

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

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. – Psalm 28:7

Words to Heal

The tongue that heals is a tree of life, but a devious tongue breaks the spirit. – (Proverbs 15:4, HCSB)

Kind words are like a life-giving tree, but lying words will crush your spirit. – (Proverbs 15:4, ERV)

A word of encouragement heals the one who receives it, but a deceitful word breaks the spirit. – (Proverbs 15:4, VOICE)

There is something to be said about encouraging words. They truly give life in the midst of difficulty, especially when the one who extends encouragement is genuine. Conversely, devious or deceitful words can be devastating. As an educator, I am witness to both types of communication. Far too often, kids are speaking crushing words to one another. Intentionally, I choose to speak encouragement at every opportunity possible, as my hope is to combat the negative messages they are receiving. The thing is, words have the power to bring life or destruction to all of us. I imagine we all can recall the way words have impacted us. Even if I do not recall the specific things that those who have spoken life-giving words to me said when I needed it most, I do remember how their kindness made me feel. My hope is that I can extend the same to the people whom God places along my path. May we ever seek the Lord to show us how to offer encouragement to those around us that is life-giving. 

O Lord, help us speak,

Though I have no recollection of what he said, it is clear how his words made me feel.

Encouraging words;

Words that offer life,

That love may be heard.

Please silence the thoughts,

That need not a voice;

Words that would bring harm,

Let love be our choice.

Lead us in Your love,

To speak as You would;

To lift, encourage,

Choose highlight the good.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that words have the power to encourage and build up. Thank You that as we seek You, You give us words to speak and eyes to see where it is needed most. Forgive us for the times that we have spoken words that have done harm. Show us how to silence the words that wield wounds, and to speak the healing words that You place on our hearts to encourage those around us. Lead us to love people as You do, and use our words to bring light and life and joy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us ways to offer encouragement and speak life into the lives of those around us. Amen.

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

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life. – John 6:63 (Jesus was our ultimate example of life-giving words)

The Reality of Faith

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. – (Hebrews 11:1, HCSB)

Faith is what makes real the things we hope for. It is proof of what we cannot see. – (Hebrews 11:1, ERV)

Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen. – (Hebrews 11:1, VOICE)

Life requires faith. We have faith that the sun will rise and tomorrow will come, yet we have not seen either yet. Faith in God and the hope that we will join Him in heaven when our days on earth are done, are made tangible as we observe all that His hands have made, and witness the glimpses of heaven that we get in the here and now. When I think of all of the beauty of creation and the unique design of every human and creature that lives, I have faith that there is indeed a Creator. There is nothing that can convince me that all that exists came from some cosmic explosion. Incredibly, the word of God tells us that no eye has seen and no mind can fathom the beauty that awaits us in paradise. I am a visual person and have viewed some overwhelming beauty here on earth. Everywhere I go, I witness whispers of the goodness and creativity of God. Though I cannot see Him, I know that He is. I do not have to understand all things for them to be real. This is where faith comes in. May we ever seek the Lord to continue to grow our faith in Him, and to further our assurance that there is so much more that is yet to come.

Faith is the fuel,

Beautiful Belizean sunrise.

Of what we believe;

Hope that is certain,

Beyond what we see.

The goodness of God,

Creativity;

Beauty surrounds us,

Intentionally.

May we keep seeking,

Choose trust in the Lord;

Ever He’s faithful,

To show us His more.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we cannot see You, we can know You. Thank You that the evidence of Your loving hand is everywhere. Forgive us for the times that our faith wavers because the mountains ahead of us seem unsurpassable. Teach us to trust You for each next step, for no obstacle is ever overcome without moving forward in faith. Show us how to love those around us in ways that make Your love, goodness and grace tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to ever grow our faith with Your goodness and love. Amen.

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

Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:23

Choose the Good

So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. – (Galatians 6:9, HCSB)

We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up. – (Galatians 6:9, ERV)

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued from doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. – (Galatians 6:9, MSG)

Choosing to do what we know we are called to do will make a difference. Sometimes, it is far more slowly than we would like, but I imagine in the wait, we are being taught to persevere. Ongoing, repeated faithfulness will reap a reward. Over time, it breaks down barriers and brings something good where light was missing. The more we invest in Christ and walking in His will, the more we witness Him working on our behalf. I am thankful that there is a weekend at the close of a work week, as it provides opportunity to rest and recharge, as Christ replenishes our resolve to press on in all that we have been called to do. May we ever seek the Lord to empower us to press on in doing good, for He is our reward and works on our behalf.

Lord, grant us the strength,

To keep doing good;

Because of Your love,

We know that we should.

Not in our own strength,

But Lord, it’s with Yours;

That love will lead us,

In grace, open doors.

Show us Your kindness,

Fill us with Your grace;

Lead us to choose love,

Throughout all our days.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us and equip us to do good. Forgive us for the times that we either try to muscle our way through things on our own, or choose not to do good when we know we need to do so. Teach us to lean into You for strength and encouragement so that we may do the good that You designed us to do. Show us how to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to do good in the grace of Your unending love. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him! – Psalm 34:8

Time to Notice

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 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)

In today’s fast-paced society, I think it is far too easy for people to lose sight of the blessings and beauty that are all around us. When our eyes divert to “things” or agendas, we become blind to that which truly matters. However, when we set our hearts and minds on loving well and being grateful, there is suddenly no denying the goodness of God. This morning, as I write, our two dogs remind me of the intentional love God placed in creation. In the still and silent morning, sweet snuggles remind my heart of just how good God is. He loves us so much that He created creatures that love without hesitation, and desire nothing more than to be in our presence. Soon, the two doggos and I will get outside and walk, and the scenery that we will witness again points to His glory. May we ever seek to love and give thanks, so that our eyes and hearts will be open to the tangible evidence of God all around us.

Though all is not seen,

The heart truly knows;

The goodness of God,

As creation shows.

Beautiful landscapes,

And those whom we love;

Sweet, loving creatures,

The gifts from above.

Take time to notice,

In wonder and awe;

The goodness of God,

Blessings He foresaw.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is evidence of Your existence all around us. Thank You for the beauty and blessing that You placed in creation for all of us to enjoy. Forgive us for losing sight of the intention of all that Your hands have made. Teach us to appreciate and care for all of creation well. Show us how to love all those around us and to be good stewards of all that You have created. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize Your goodness and love through all that You’ve created and through the love You have deposited in us to give away. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for all that Your hands have made and seek You to show us how to love best. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Perfect Love

“If imperfect parents know how to lovingly take care of their children and give them what they need, how much more will the perfect heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit’s fullness when His children ask Him.” – (Luke 11:13, TPT)

“Even you who are bad know how to give good things to your children. So surely your heavenly Father knows how to give the Holy Spirit to the people who ask Him.” – (Luke 11:13, ERV)

Look, all of you are flawed in so many ways, yet in spite of all your faults, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to all who ask! – (Luke 11:13, VOICE)

This is a reminder of God’s faithfulness, despite our flaws, failures and shortcomings. Whether a parent to children or fur babies, we all know how to give good gifts to those in our care, despite being broken and sinful. How much more does God, who is perfect in all His ways, know how to give us all that He has to offer when we seek Him? The Holy Spirit is God’s presence within us. If God is for us, who can be against us? God’s Spirit within us will lead us, guide us, protect us and help us as we earnestly seek Him. May we always remember the depth and power of our Heavenly Father’s love, so that we may ever seek Him.

Despite all our flaws,

The Lord’s ever near;

Ready to help us,

Making His way clear.

Just as a parent,

Knows how to love well;

Our perfect Father,

Will in us, come dwell.

It is in nearness,

That we’re led and known;

Grace overflowing,

As His love is shown.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bless us with the ultimate gift as we ask. Thank You that Your presence is the greatest provider ever known. Thank You that by Your Spirit, You lead us, guide us, bless and protect us, as we place our heart in Your hands. Forgive us for forgetting how exceedingly powerful Your love is, and lead us to love likewise. Show us how to give good gifts to all, so that each who crosses our path may witness glimpses of You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to fill us with Your Spirit, so that Your path will be made clear in all that we say and do. 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

Rejoice, Pray, and Give Thanks

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

Always be full of joy. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ERV)

Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.) – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, VOICE)

This morning, at 2:45, as I heard my dog making retching sounds, joy was not exactly what came to mind; sadly, neither was prayer nor thankfulness. As I jumped out of bed and threw on some extra layers to take him outside, I groggily checked to be sure he was okay. He took care of business outside, and returned to his crate to rest. Again, rest did not come. Whining began and would not relent. Finally, after a good fifteen minutes of trying, I gave in and brought my giant pup upstairs. Again, he went outside and then returned ravenous. After he ate, he settled in a bit as I attempted to doze on the couch. When the time was nearing my scheduled wake up, I took Thor back downstairs and returned upstairs to begin my day. My celebration was that I have a roof over my head and that there is coffee in our house to brew. I am thankful that it is Friday, and that I do not need to rise as early tomorrow. God is kind, and shortly after I returned to resume my regular morning routine, my love came upstairs too. In the calm stillness of the morning, I am so grateful to God for another human that can rise early, and find joy and contentment in the silence. Early mornings are something to be celebrated, even when they come far sooner than anticipated. Before long, I will witness the early morning light, as the sun makes its appearance on the horizon. God is faithful to meet us, even in the wee hours of the early morning. He hears our heart’s cry, despite the momentary frustrations when our schedules are disrupted. Today, my heart will rejoice, for I have countless reasons to give God thanks, as I have His light, and life, and hope. May we ever celebrate the goodness of God, giving Him thanks as we are intentional to spend time seeking Him.

May our hearts give praise,

In Christ we rejoice;

Let’s prayerfully seek,

Give thanks with our voice.

No matter what comes,

We’ve reason for joy;

The Lord’s always good,

To thank is a choice.

Today I will choose,

To celebrate Christ;

For goodness and grace,

And loving advice.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the countless reasons You grant us to have joy in You. Thank You that You hear our prayers and You supply what we need to navigate each new day. Thank You that You remain present, no matter what comes our way or how our day begins. Forgive us for our frustrations and delay in seeking You when things are thrown off course. Teach us to lean into You and listen to Your heart. Show us how to love those around us in all things, and grant us patience when it is lacking. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in You and pray to You, ever giving You thanks for who You are and how You love. Amen.

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

I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing the praises of Your Name, O Most High. – Psalm 9:2

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

Strengthened and Joined Together

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ. – (Colossians 2:2, NIV) 

I want them to be strengthened and joined together with love and to have the full confidence that comes from understanding. I want them to know completely the secret truth that God has made known. That truth is Christ Himself. – (Colossians 2:2, ERV) 

I am contending for you that your hearts will be wrapped in the comfort of heaven and woven together in love’s fabric. This will give you access to all the riches of God as you experience the revelation of God’s great mystery – Christ. – (Colossians 2:2, TPT) 

The more we are encouraged in heart and united in love, the better we understand the truth of who God is and how He loves, as we witness and experience the overwhelming love of Christ through those whom He has placed in our lives to love. Incredibly, if we love others as we are loved by God, they too begin to grasp how deep, how wide, and how long His love truly is. God is gracious and kind, and He encourages our hearts and unites us in love, by His goodness and grace. The more closely I walk with Christ, the more deeply I understand the fulness that is found in and through Him. He has given me grace after grace, as He has made His love tangible through those whom He has placed in my life. My hope and prayer is that I too, may encourage and help others know unity in His love, as His goodness and love is made known through how I live, love and interact with those around me. May we ever seek the Lord for understanding, so that our hearts are strengthened and joined together in love. 

Lord, may every heart, 

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

Find comfort in You; 

As love wraps around, 

Shows Your heart of truth. 

For O the riches, 

Held in the Lord’s hands; 

Outstretched to us all, 

This love He has planned. 

May we join as one, 

One heart and one mind; 

Focused on loving, 

So Your joy we’ll find. 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your intention for us is to encourage and love one another, in the same way that You love each of us. Forgive us for the times that we have withheld encouragement or have not loved as You call us to love. Teach us to ever seek to know You more, as it is through our seeking that You show us more of You. Show us how to love and encourage all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to encourage and love like You. Amen. 

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

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Be Willing

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. – (Matthew 3:15, NIV)

Jesus answered, “Let it be this way for now. We should do whatever God says is right.” Then John agreed. – (Matthew 3:15, ERV)

But Jesus said, “Please do it, for I must do all that is right.” So then John baptized Him. – (Matthew 3:15, TLB)

 

This verse is part of the story of when Jesus went to the Jordan River, where John the Baptist was baptizing people, in order to be baptized. At first, John tried to dissuade Him, for he felt the roles should be reversed. John understood who Jesus was, and did not feel worthy to fulfill such a significant role in the life of the Savior. However, Jesus let John know that it was an act of obedience to God. With that in mind, John’s mind quickly changed and he somberly moved forward in fulfilling that which was being asked of him. Because John was willing, he also was witness to heaven opening and the Spirit of God descending upon Jesus, with a voice from heaven saying, “This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.” One act of willing obedience, despite it not making sense, led to a tremendous blessing that few were privileged to see. God still works the same way with us. Often, He calls us to things that seem strange or beyond our capacity, yet when we rise up and move forward in faith, we discover more of who He is and how much He loves. May we ever choose to do all that is right, according to what God asks of us; even when it does not make sense or is far beyond our capacity to complete on our own. God is faithful, and He does not lead us anywhere that He will not also meet us and see us through.

 

Be willing to walk,

DSC04506

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Into the brand new;

Despite how it seems,

God will see us through.

For He will not call,

Us where He won’t lead;

He supplies us strength,

And grace to succeed.

For in Christ there’s more,

Than our hearts can dream;

We have to choose trust,

In Him we’re redeemed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us into new things that are beyond what we think we can do. Thank You that in You, we are granted the strength, wisdom, grace and help we need to keep moving forward in all that is asked of us. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, as we look at what we can see, rather than who You are. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how love, encourage and support those around us in the same way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to Your leading and move forward into the new that You call us to. Amen.

 

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

 

Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right. – Psalm 106:3