Slow Down and Celebrate

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

Give the Lord a chance to show you how good He is. Great blessings belong to those who depend on Him! – (Psalm 34:8, ERV)

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him. – (Psalm 34:8, MSG)

Despite the turmoil that seems to be constantly swirling in our nation, the goodness of God is still evident all around us. No matter what we see or hear going on around us, we can take refuge in the Lord, for His love remains the same forever. For me, as I pause and take inventory of God’s goodness, gratitude rises for the family and friends whom He surrounds me with, and for the grace and kindness He provides, no matter the circumstances that we walk through. He is near and always good, and we can depend on Him to be our space of safety and peace. May we take time to reflect and recognize God’s goodness all around us, and choose to trust and run to Him.

Look all around you,

image by Soda Head

Choose taste and you’ll see;

The goodness of God,

His love’s given free.

Our safe place to run,

His arms full of love;

Safety, provision,

All good from above.

So, trust in the Lord,

Give all thanks to Him;

Celebrate the good,

That He’s placed within.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the opportunity to slow down and celebrate Your goodness, as we gather and enjoy the communities in which we’ve been placed. Thank You that You provide Your love and faithfulness wherever we go. Forgive us for not noticing the blessings that You have placed all around us. Teach us to observe Your goodness and love all around us. Show us how to love those around us best, so that we may make Your heart evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we slow down to taste and see how very good You are. Amen.

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

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. – Psalm 36:5

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. – (Matthew 5:9, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who work to bring peace. God will call them His sons and daughters. – (Matthew 5:9, ERV)

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. – (Matthew 5:9, MSG)

Part of loving God and loving people is working to bring His peace wherever we go. Competing or fighting does not convey love, but rather cooperation and encouragement are the things that communicate love as God intended. The incredible thing about doing things the way that God designed us to do them is that we discover the strengths that each person has to offer, and can celebrate who God has made each of us to be. In community, we need each other. When each of us is operating in the strengths that are part of our very being, things are accomplished and peace can reign. Even more, when we simply seek to work together in harmony, we are called God’s own children. It is in that space of operating in the gifts that God has given us and celebrating those in the people around us that we discover a peaceful existence within our communities. This applies to marriage, family, friend groups, work, and beyond. Each of us has something to offer and the capacity to exist peacefully with one another as we seek to cooperate and appreciate each other. May we ever seek the Lord to give us His eyes to see the strengths in others, and the heart to appreciate and celebrate what each has to offer so that we might live peacefully with one another.

May peace be present,

Wherever we go;

Working together,

May the Lord’s love show.

Help us see the strength,

In one another;

And celebrate each,

As sisters, brothers.

Let the peace of God,

Be what leads us on;

Choose appreciate,

With celebration.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be peacemakers. Thank You that it is through recognizing and celebrating the strength in others, and intentionally choosing to work together that we come to know Your peace and the goodness of Your love as we are called Your children. Forgive us for competing or fighting instead of working together. Show us how to be peacemakers everywhere we go. Lead us to love and celebrate one another so that we can work together in harmony. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to lead us to be peacemakers wherever we are and with whomever we interact. 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

Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak

My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. – (James 1:19, HCSB)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. – (James 1:19, VOICE)

Again, we stand at a crossroads. A friend posted something that truly made me cringe at the brutal honesty of it: the only significant change that we have made since Sandy Hook is that we now have active shooter drills. This hit hard. I cannot begin to pretend to know the answer, but I do know that we must be more willing to listen to potential solutions that do not include: run, hide, fight, kid, and good luck. As an educator, I have seen a significant increase in the depth of kids’ struggles. Health, safety and belonging are at an all-time low. There are many talking heads that get angered at the mere suggestion of changes that might actually help. We must start listening far more than we speak, and set anger aside so that we can come together, hear each other, and seek to bring change that makes a difference. O God help us, for we all need to listen with intention.

Dear Jesus, please come,

Show us what to do;

Protect our children,

May purpose be true.

Lead us and guide us,

To bring needed change;

Make schools a safe place,

Of peaceful exchange.

Help fears dissipate,

Let answers be found;

To protect each child,

Keep hearts and minds sound.

Lead us in Your love,

To listen and learn;

Please safeguard our schools,

As to You, we turn.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You instruct us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Jesus, we need Your help to do these things to bring true change that lasts. Forgive us for allowing politics and sides of the aisle to distract us from how to find solutions that keep our kids safe. Show us how to hear one another, and to be slow to speak with purpose, keeping anger in check so that hearts can be heard. Lead us to love well, as students and staff alike will be shaken at the news. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, for in You we come to know peace, safety, comfort and care. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom to listen and pursue true change to keep our babies safe. Amen.

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

But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. It is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help people who have trouble and do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. – James 3:17

With Kindness and Compassion

And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. – (Ephesians 4:32, HCSB)

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

Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you through the Anointed, our Liberating King. – (Ephesians 4:32, VOICE)

If we were to approach every human interaction with kindness and compassion, and were quick to forgive others in the same way that we are forgiven, people would understand the heart of God. We know not the battles that others are facing. Just last week there were five major losses or concerns that weighed on me as the week unfolded. Each day, it seemed, I was met with news of a tragedy or a major medical concern among family and friends. Thankfully, my concerns were met with kindness and compassion and grace. The sort of human-interaction that was extended to me, I was in turn, able to extend to others. When we are intentional to seek God, He shows us His goodness and love, even in the midst of heaviness and heartache. This morning, as I prepare to attend a memorial for a friend’s husband, I feel equipped with kindness and compassion, ready to extend help and hope where so much has been lost. May we continually seek the Lord in all things and at all times so that we might extend the same kindness, compassion, love and forgiveness that we are given through Him.

The Lord is gracious,

Photo by Anna Tarazevich

He’s loving and kind;

Full of compassion,

In Him, we align.

He forgives our faults,

Calls us to the same;

As we extend grace,

We honor His Name.

O Lord, please lead us,

To love as You do;

Ever forgiving,

As goodness shines through.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be kind and compassionate to one another, full of forgiveness and love. Thank You that You not only show us these things over and over again, but You equip us to go and do likewise as we trust in You. Forgive us for the times that we have lacked love, compassion, kindness or forgiveness when interacting with those around us. Teach us to seek You first to fill us and lead us in Your love. Show us how to extend kindness, compassion, forgiveness and love in tangible ways to all those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we depend on You to lead us to love as You so completely love us all. Amen.

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

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23

In All Things, Pray

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 4:6-7, HCSB)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. – (Philippians 4:6-7, MSG)

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. – (Philippians 4:6-7, VOICE)

This is a timely reminder, as it seems to be a season of tough news about people I love and care about. Yesterday afternoon, I found out that my nephew is in the hospital and dying of renal failure. I haven’t seen him in years, but when he was a little boy, he spent quite a bit of time with our family. Learning this heartbreaking news, I had to pause and pray; for I do not know what else to do. He is my boys’ cousin, their dad’s nephew, and their aunt’s first born. Sometimes, praying is really all we can do. Though I know not every need, I am able to pray for healing, health, hope and wholeness. I can pray for peace and strength and provision for the family. Prayer does not require eloquent words or religious utterances, it is simply talking to God with your heart, mind, and if it helps, your voice. He hears every word, thought and request. Incredibly, He provides what we need to get through each next moment, hour, day and beyond. His peace brings calm in the chaos and the ability to breathe when it feels as if we cannot. May we ever reach out to the Lord who hears our prayers, and seek Him for strength and peace in spaces where we have none.

O Lord, I draw near,

Seeking You for peace;

When I can’t fathom,

How You’ll bring release.

Somehow Your peace comes,

And fills up my heart;

Your love settles in,

Hope for a fresh start.

Be it a minute,

Or for a new day;

Your love and Your peace,

Always make a way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are bigger than all of the trials and sorrows we face. Thank You that You flood us with Your love, surround us with Your care, and fill us with Your peace, even when peace does not make sense. Forgive us for worrying about having the words to pray, for You hear each cry of our heart as we reach out to You. Teach us to turn to You in trust in all things and at all times. Show us how to love those whom You have placed in our lives, and to pray without ceasing for Your love to be made evident to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give all of our worries to You as we call on Your Name and pray to You about all things, trusting that You hold us in the hollow of Your mighty hands. Amen.

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

The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night – a prayer to the God of my life. – Psalm 42:8

Think About Each Other

And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works. – (Hebrews 10:24, HCSB)

We should think about each other to see how we can encourage each other to show love and do good works. – (Hebrews 10:24, ERV)

Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds. – (Hebrews 10:24, VOICE)

If we take our eyes off of ourselves and take a look around us, it is easy to see the need for love, kindness and good deeds all around us. I know for me, when I am the recipient of such, I am inspired to go and do likewise. The status quo gets disrupted in the very best way, I am compelled to do differently. May we each be concerned about those around us – our family, our friends, our colleagues, and each individual we encounter in a day, to look for ways to encourage and make the day a bit brighter. Sometimes, it is as simple as extending a smile or kind word. Lord, help us to be ever listening to Your leading so that we might encourage each other and make Your goodness known.

Lord, help us to look,

Fill one another’s cup.

To see all around;

The need of others,

Let Your good be found.

Show us through Your eyes,

How each person’s seen;

Lead us in Your love,

Be encouraging.

Bring the good to mind,

That will bless, build up;

The goodness and love,

That will fill each cup.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to care well for one another. Thank You that You sent Your Son to model this for us. Thank You Jesus, that You demonstrated care, concern and encouragement in countless ways. From touching the untouchable, to feeding those who were hungry, You lived and loved in practical and tangible ways. Forgive us for the times that we neglect to follow Your leading. Teach us to trust in You and to listen in every situation and circumstance. Show us Your heart for each person we encounter and lead us to love and encourage as You would. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look for ways to love, encourage and do good for those around us. Amen.

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

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” – John 13:34

Where Hope is Held

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

We must hold on to the hope we have, never hesitating to tell people about it. We can trust God to do what He promised. – (Hebrews 10:23, ERV)

Let us hold strong to the confession of our hope, never wavering, since the One who promised it to us is faithful. – (Hebrews 10:23, VOICE)

Hope is a funny thing, for we use the word to talk about what we want to happen or about something we desire; however, true hope is a confident space of waiting for that which has been promised by the One who is faithful forever. This is important for me to remember as our vacation is coming to a close. The day after tomorrow, I will return to work. I know not how spring break has gone for my students and colleagues, but I know Who holds us all in His hands. As much as I “hope” that all goes well, I need to remember that the One who is our hope will be with me, leading, guiding, protecting and providing. I don’t need to know what tomorrow holds to have hope in Him. He is our hope and the One who provides all of our tomorrows. May we hold fast to our hope in Him, for He is forever faithful and worthy of all of our trust.

O Lord of all hope,

To You I will cling;

No matter what comes,

You’re faithful to bring.

Bring goodness and grace,

Your presence and peace;

Trust for each new day,

As love is released.

O God, we rise up,

And trust in Your love;

For we’re in Your hands,

Our Father above.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our hope resides in You. Thank You that You hold us and all of our tomorrows in Your loving hands. Thank You that we need not worry about what lies ahead, for You are with us, always. Forgive us for our concerns about things that are yet to come. Teach us to trust in You in all things and at all times. Show us how to live and love like You, knowing that You are our hope and help, and that You love lavishly and call us to the same. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place all of our hope in You, for You are faithful forever. Amen.

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

We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure… – Hebrews 6:19a

Hope That Will Not Disappoint

This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – (Romans 5:5, HCSB)

And this hope will never disappoint us. We know this because God has poured out His love to fill our hearts through the Holy Spirit He gave us. – (Romans 5:5, ERV)

And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love. – (Romans 5:5, VOICE)

The hope of God is what we have to hold onto. Over the past few months, I have learned of several friends from my formative years who have had difficult diagnoses that require lengthy treatment and follow ups. Each has some sort of cancer that has necessitated surgery and chemotherapy in the many months to come. Incredibly, each of these precious people have a strong faith that includes hope in He who is our Healer. Looking at the clouds and ocean this morning, the image I captured seems to provide a visual of what is going on. If you look only at the horizon, a storm is evident and the rain in the distance appears to be coming down. However, if you look up, the light is glowing above, around and from behind the clouds. To me, this is the perfect picture of hope. We traverse life’s storms, yet what is above us, behind us and surrounding us is full of life and light and hope. God is good, even in the midst of the awful, and is present to help and uphold us. May we ever turn to the Lord and trust in Him, for He will never fail to satisfy our deepest need as He overwhelms us with His love.

O Lord hold our heart,

When storms come our way;

Flood us with Your love,

True hope that will stay.

Provide what’s needed,

For those in the fight;

Strengthen, surround them,

With Your loving light.

Grace in the process,

As You hold us up;

Love overflowing,

As You fill our cup.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that hope in You never disappoints, for Your love is poured out to fill us, surround us, and hold us up in the hollow of Your hands. Forgive us for our fears when we see and hear diagnoses that seem discouraging. Thank You that You are bigger than anything and everything that comes against us. Please hold each of these dear ones in the hollow of Your hands, and bring miraculous healing as only You can. Strengthen and encourage each with the power of Your great love. Show us how to love those in the fight well, and practical ways to encourage and lift up. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they witness the power of Your great love and care for all. Be glorified O God, as we trust and hope in You, even when storms rage around us. Amen. 

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

Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

The Greatest Love Story

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” – (John 3:16, HCSB)

Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life. – (John 3:16, ERV)

For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. – (John 3:16, VOICE)

In this season of fixation on love, it seems only appropriate to recognize and celebrate the greatest love of all. God loved creation so much that He gave His Son to restore what had been lost, and to make the way for all who receive it, to have life everlasting with Him. We have all been hand-crafted, designed to love and be loved. The unique design placed within each of us grants us the capacity to love well. This love is not limited to romantic love, but rather it equips and empowers us to love all. From our parents, to siblings, to children, family, friends and a significant other, God gives us all that we need to love well. It is up to us to receive all that He offers so that we might truly know His love and then go and love likewise, all those whom He has placed in our lives. May we ever seek the Lord to lead us to love well, and give Him all praise for His loving ways each day that we draw breath.

The greatest love story,

That’s ever been told;

The gift of a Savior,

To have and to hold.

It is through the knowing,

Receiving of grace;

That we too can love well,

As we seek His face.

God places in our lives,

People we’re to love;

All whom He created,

Purposed from above.

So seek Him to love well,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography

Receive all He gives;

In Christ we’re empowered,

To love as we live.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your One and only Son to make the way for us to be in a loving relationship with You and equipped to love others as You do. Thank You that Your love gives us hope and help, life and love that last forever. Forgive us for the times that we have not loved as You intended, and for when we neglect to receive what You freely and lovingly offer. Teach us to trust in Your everlasting goodness and grace as You continually show us Your loving ways. Lead us to love all those around us as You intended. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive the incredible gift of Your love and trust You to lead us to love all those around us well. 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

Nothing Without Love

If I speak human or angelic languages but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, HCSB)

I may speak in different languages, whether human or even angels. But if I don’t have love, I am only a noisy bell or a ringing cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy, I may understand all secrets and know everything there is to know, and may I have faith so great that I can move mountains. But even with all this, if I don’t have love, I am nothing. I may give away everything I have to help others, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing by doing all this if I don’t have love. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ERV)

What if I speak in the most elegant languages of people or in the exotic languages of the heavenly messengers, but I live without love? Well then, anything I say is like the clanging of brass or a crashing cymbal. What if I have the gift of prophecy, am blessed with knowledge and insight to all the mysteries, or what if my faith is strong enough to scoop a mountain from its bedrock, yet I live without love? If so, I am nothing. I could give all that I have to feed the poor, I could surrender my body to be burned as a martyr, but if I do not live in love, I gain nothing by my selfless acts. – (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, VOICE)

No matter what good we do or say, it is meaningless if love is not our reason. God calls and commands us to love. All words and gestures are lost if love is not the motivation. In order to love in all things, we must be equipped and filled. The saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is a practical application of actions without love. When we become depleted without refreshment, all that we say and do becomes out of obligation rather than motivated by love. Obligation is exhausting. In reality, we all have obligations, yet when we are filled and equipped with love, we are able to fulfill what is required with love and intention rather than frustration. May we begin each day by seeking our Savior so that we may be refreshed, renewed and made ready to love in all things.

Empty are all things,

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography<3

If love is not there;

For only with love,

Can we show we care.

May all that we say,

And all that we do;

Be done fueled by love,

So God’s heart shines through.

Help us be people,

After Your own heart;

Lead us in Your love,

As each new day starts.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the most excellent way is love. Thank You that You call and equip us to love. Forgive us for the things we have said and done that were not motivated and equipped with Your love. Teach us to rely on You to lead us and guide us in all that we say and do. Show us how to do all things in Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You each new day to lead us well so that all that we say and do is done in love. Amen.

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

Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13