Beholding Blessing

Last year, seemed to be a season of struggle.  Shaken to the very core by constant criticism and challenge, it was a daily decision to keep drudging forward.  Everything in me desired to flee, yet I felt called to remain and endure, as hope was a glimmer upon the horizon.

This year, the very environment that stole security and reduced me to survival mode, has become a place of reluctant restoration.  Each new day, a small sense of self returns.  In retrospect, I can now see how far my Father has carried me.  Through moments of anxiety His presence is known, and most days are forged forward with energy and enthusiasm.  Encouragement in areas previously assaulted, have begun to create cautious confidence on this course.  Healing and restoration resting in His hands.

Now, as the year is coming to a close, unexpected blessings are being bestowed upon me.  Where I was once scrutinized, I am being seen.  The gifts given by God, now receiving opportunity to be utilized.  Wings on the mend, permission to soar has been granted.  It is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying – occasion to overcome and further become who I am called to be, yet in doing so, further exposure of myself (heart, soul and mind) is eminent.

Unexpected treasures are supplying excitement rather than anxiousness for the upcoming year.  Gifts of grace given where darkness formerly dominated.  His incomprehensible love for me demonstrated through appointments that fulfill the deepest desires of my heart.  His abundant blessings given for me to behold.  Again, I am being made new.

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

In Search of Sound

From the depths of my heart

there’s been not a word

Silence - by Henry Fuseli

no audible voice

no sound to be heard.

For desires deep within

lay hidden and low

now seeking sound

wanting to grow.

The prospect is fearful

allowing voice found

ending my silence

exposure with sound.

Cautiously waiting

what will I hear?

You had every reasonto stay silent in fear?

Or will gently His whispers

be spoken to soul

“I love you my daughter,

I’m making you whole.”

His hope in the wait

for fears to subside

vision gains voice

no longer to hide.

Clearly a process

I’m meant to pursue

one step at a time

being made new.

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

Finish Strong

This is it.  The final push. The home stretch.  The longest four weeks of the entire school year… 
Between exhaustion and enthusiasm for the ensuing summer’s arrival, my classroom is commanded by chaos.  State testing complete, District assessments done, now it is my monumental task to attempt to keep kids invested in their academics for three more weeks.  More than them, I have to be completely committed to preparation, delivery and encouragement.  
‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…’ (Colossians 3:23)
Right now, the exhaustion is encouraging my eyes to close and escape their function of focus.  Narcolepsy nears every time I sit down for more than a moment.  The perpetual battle of dizzying days is beginning to take its toll.  I long for escape.  A time completely free of responsibility and redirecting.  Sunshine, sand, silence – dreamy desires in the midst of the madness.  Though such reward may come my way one day, today is not that day.  My place is right here, right now – in the midst of madness.  To triumphantly traverse the task with tenacity, I need strength and endurance, hope and help.  He is my help in time of need.  He is more than able to provide all that I need to finish strong.  I want to work at it with all of my heart, for Him.  I long to look back and see triumph through trust, strength to stand, and the knowledge that I did my very best and beckoned Him to make me aware of His presence and His plan.
The race is long and the road is rough, but God is good and He will.  He will sustain me, He will encourage me, He will strengthen me, and He will see me through to day one-hundred eighty.  It is yet another opportunity to dig deep, trust big and finish strong.

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

Trust for Today

King David, arguably one of the most powerful and influential kings in early history, was not fearless, rather he knew where to go when fear entered in.  His words recorded in Psalm 56, are resonating in my head and heart this morning.  “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” (vs 3)
No ferocity, no fanfare or hype, simply words that separate the conquerors from the conquered.  There is much comfort in this for me. 
I don’t think of myself as fearful, yet I really am.  Not fearful of things that are seen, rather by that which is not.  Bugs and snakes, bad guys and barriers – not so scary.  Intense emotion, heartache, despair, disappointment, failure – these are my daunting demons.  Fear in what is not visible; perhaps because it is more difficult to fight that which one cannot see.  Recently, these invisible fears have begun to take shape.  Each gaining a faint outline in form – familiarity finding a foothold.
What I thought to be failure, I am now discovering is actually an opportunity to exercise faith.  Fear is not the enemy, it is what I do with said fear that determines the impact of the unseen.  If I go to God when I find fear hanging on my heart, it is a time to trust rather than cower in the corner, and allow God to be God. 
Trust – the very word can instill fear.  It is ironic that the weapon that combats fear, is another fearful firearm.    Though hesitantly given, it seemingly escapes with ease.  One unkind word or broken promise, and trust is tarnished.  Tainted and taken, diminished trust can destroy dreams and delay destination.  Broken trust becomes a barrier.  
Thankfully, there is One who is always worthy of our trust.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  He alone is trustworthy.  If I place my trust in Him, fear cannot find a foothold.  The more I place my trust in Him, the faster I find fear flees.  I want to walk with my head up and my eyes wide open.  He alone fans the flame of faith when I choose to trust in Him.
Today, when I feel afraid, I will choose to trust.  I will not look to yesterday’s failure or tomorrow’s tension, I will simply say, “I trust You today.”

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

Trust When I am Afraid – Application #1

It is astounding how as I lay hold of a Biblical truth, how quickly it is tested, and an opportunity for application appears.
Just a few hours ago I was reflecting on how necessary and challenging it is to apply trust in the midst of fear.  “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”
During my advisory class I was handed a note from a student that is often involved in volatile verbal exchanges.  This note made direct accusations and challenged my character.  Previous experience with similar character assassination has placed me on the front line under heavy fire.  Regardless of my innocence, I had to endure the horrifying heartache of false testimony before my character was defended and my innocence restored.
“Oh God, please not again!” 
Then it struck me.  “Though I am afraid, I trust in You.”  Only hours ago that was my heart’s cry – “When I am afraid, I will trust You today.”  Okay, it is boiling down to each moment I am afraid, I say again, “I trust in You.”  It is not about me.  It is not about my character.  It is simply a matter of will I trust Him when I am afraid?  Several times in the last few hours, as fear fought for a foothold, I have stopped, taken a deep breath, and again uttered the words, “I trust You.” 
I do not know what will happen next.  I’d be lying if I said there was not a deep dread for what lies ahead.  Alas, even now, my heart’s cry is, “I trust You.”  He is my Defender, my Counselor, my Fortress, my Friend.  He is enough.  He is more than enough to rectify wrongs and heal hurts. Lord I believe, help my unbelief.

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

Fulfillment Found in Faith

‘Yet he did not waiver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.’ (Romans 4:20)
Abraham was a man to whom God had spoken a promise, yet many years had passed and the promise was still just a word without visible action.  His faithfulness in the wait was credited to him as righteousness by God, and he became the father of a nation despite the impossibility of his circumstance.  God did exactly what He said He would do, just not quite in the way Abraham likely imagined it would be done.  It took several steps of faith in a forward direction before God’s promise was fulfilled well past he and Sarah’s child-bearing years.  God faithfully fulfilled the promise He had spoken, and made the impossible possible.
In this present age, if a promise is spoken, we expect it to be carried out – pronto!  Our world is so alarmingly accessible that the very idea of waiting for anything leads us to believe that our requests are unheard and our prayers unanswered.  Fast food, quick cash, instant messaging, on-demand television, virtually anything and everything imaginable, available with the mere click of a mouse.  With so much of our day being consumed by “right now”, the thought of holding onto a promise until its fulfillment is agonizing and arduous. 
What I have discovered in the waiting, is that the promise I am awaiting is not all that God has for me.  Often, it includes the journey itself.  How I walk it out from the the promise to the fulfillment is just as significant as the realization of the promise’s presentation.  Am I depending on Him?  Do I listen along the way?  When I depend on Him, there is joy in the journey.  Strength is supplied and peace is provided.  When I become self-reliant, the road is rough and exhaustion is eminent.   If I truly trust what He tells me, I am amazed by the encouragement and enlightenment He imparts.

Bold belief beyond what we can see or imagine, hope that allows Him to hold our heart in His hands – these are what strengthen faith and provide endurance to run the race.  …To run and not grow weary, to walk and not become faint(Isaiah 40:31) – impossible in my own strength, yet not only possible, but promised in His.

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

Magnificent Mothers

I am truly blessed to have such a rich heritage – one filled with women of faith.  Mothers who have selflessly and freely given.  Women who have endured and triumphed over hardships, overcome devastating losses, cared for communities, and first and foremost, loved their families well.

My great-grandmother lost her own mother at a very early age, lived through WWI & WWII, raised children during the Great Depression, successfully battled breast cancer, lost a child and a spouse long before their lives were fully lived, and loved her family without limits.  Her faith as her guide, she was a fearless fighter as she navigated her way through horrendous obstacles with dignity and grace.  Susan Elizabeth was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and a fabulously fiery redhead to boot, before her spirit and mind moved to her heavenly home.

Gram & Mom

My grandmother, (Gram as she is affectionately called) Rosemary Elizabeth, is the most amazing woman of faith that I know.  She has raised children during a war, lost babies, brothers, a grandson, a nephew, parents and spouse of 60+ years, along with most of her dearest lifelong friends; yet remains a loving, kind, gracious, giving, and godly woman.  Her faith has sustained her through heartache and hurt.  Her heavenly Maker graciously has given her gifts and talent that she willingly and humbly shares.  Music, art, words.  Each a glorious gift that she continues to give.  Though her hearing and eyesight now impair her ability to sing and paint as she once did, her words are still as clear and profound as they have ever been.  The wisdom imparted to her, gently shared with her beloved.  Each visit, a treasure to hold in the hollows of my heart.

Sheryl Rose, my own magnificent mom, is the epitome of grace under fire.  Abandoned by her beloved, yet lavishly loved by the Lord.  Her hospitality and hugs embrace everyone who enters her home.  She has the astounding ability to lavish love on the lonely.  The motherless, can call her mom.  The heartbroken hear His heart in hers.  Kids cling to her kindness.  Growing up, my mom was the mom that friends called “Mom” when they hung out in our home.  Also, she is a selfless servant.  She sees need where no word has been spoken, and simply serves.  Rooms that once appeared as if a tornado had touched down, sparkle shortly after she masterfully moves.  Never in my life, have I needed to question my mother’s love for me.  Her words, her actions, her heart, all mirror those of our Maker.  God’s heart and hands made tangible through my mom.

Somehow, I am additionally blessed with spiritual “moms”.  Wise women of faith that know my heart and love me well, despite my desire to hide.  These ladies encourage me to see beyond what is in plain view.  Gently, they nudge me to crawl out of my corner and risk revealing some of myself – glimpses of who God has made me to be.

As I reflect upon this most recent Mother’s Day, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the glorious grace given by God.  He has provided, embraced, educated, empowered and enlightened each of these incredible ladies that I have been so blessed to behold.  Each woman demonstrating a life of love that guides the next generation to God’s goodness and grace.  This path they have laid, manifesting footprints to follow.

Lord, may I too live a life of loving well…

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

His Hem Heals

This morning, the story of a woman who had suffered for years with an affliction that made her unclean in her society, is quite vivid in my mind.  So many who have such suffering, some obvious and external, others hidden in the heart, are brought to the forefront of my consciousness.  Acute awareness of the agony of exclusion by others, or far worse, themselves – their cries echo in my ears.
Disease-ridden bodies racked with pain, each new day a battle, simply to survive.  Grieving children left motherless – desperate for their mom’s loving arms to hold them one more time.  Struggling families, wondering how to make ends meet and provide basic necessities to sustain their very existence.  Broken marriages, shattering spirits with one man’s selfishness.  Heart-broken, hopeless, lacking, loveless…  So much desperate need. 
Somehow, the dim light of hope seeps into the darkest of nights.  Dreams of change gently pry into personal poverty.  Poor in hope, become guardedly hopeful.  Dare one risk the pursuit of change? 
Hope hanging on the hem of a garment.  A short walk that mandates monumental faith.  Belief beyond what is beheld. 
The afflicted woman was courageous enough to try.  Her step of fearless faith, led to her immediate healing.  Not only was her broken body mended, but the countless years of ridicule and rejection, covered with the care of the Savior.
Baby steps.  Miniscule moments of faith grown into miraculous months, and ultimately to an exhilarating eternity.  If faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains, why not seedlings of trust turning it all around?
On my own, I will sink.  In my own strength, I have little to offer.  Hurts hang heavy on my heart. 
Yet in minute moments of trust, I am healed.  As I ever so warily step out in faith, I am met with the miraculous.   With each small step, I am met by my Maker.  In Him, I am capable; where on my own, I could not.  Baby steps become bold bounds.  His hem heals hurting hearts. 
There is hope in Him.  He heals the afflicted and mends the broken.  He provides for the poor in provisions, and hardest of hearts.  He loves the lonely, and His goodness embraces and invites every child.  Heavenly hope hears the hurts and holds on, even when we want to run. 
Grief to gratitude with the mere extension of a hand to a hem.

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

Sorrowful Celebration


Yesterday morning I attended a memorial for an amazing lady.  Linda was a wife, a mom, an educator, an advocate, and a warrior in her battle with cancer for more than a decade.  Her story is one of triumph in the face of adversity, strength in the struggle, and courage to face each new day with unflappable faith.  She is survived by a husband, daughter and son.

As a mother, she was her children’s advocate, cheerleader, teacher, counselor, security, provider and friend, to name a few.  Each image on the screen contained it’s own story of a life well lived.  Her children never questioned her love for them.  I had the pleasure of teaching and coaching her daughter while she attended the school where I work.

My most vivid memory of Linda, comes from late last spring when her daughter was in the hospital for health issues of her own.  Linda lovingly attended to her daughters needs, was always in arms reach, and advocated for her offspring; all the while was having to make trips to another medical facility for her chemotherapy appointments.  Though her frame was frail, her heart was covered in courage and her smile – infectious.  Laughter continually consumed the room as we all exchanged tidbits and takeaways from our own recent experiences.

After the slideshow laden with stories, it was time for her friends and loved ones to share.  Her courage and the content of her character were continually conveyed through each of the memories spoken.  Though she did many incredible things in her short life, her heart for others, her ability to love without reservation, was the common thread that wove together the pages and paragraphs people passed on of her story.  When her daughter stood to share, it was then that the empathetic ache in my heart became horrendous heartache for her loss.  This young lady who has grown up so well under her mom’s tutelage, was now left to go it alone.  Not really alone, but without her best friend by her side.  The arms that were so quick to hug and hold her, now in heavens hands.  What made the most lasting impression, was that at all of seventeen, her daughter was able to recognize and relay that though she will desperately miss her Mommy, she knows that she is in a much better place.  The suffering silently endured for so long, stopped.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)  His comfort for the family, extremely evident as each was able to express a sort of celebration in the midst of such sorrow.

How will I be remembered?  Will I be recalled for what I have done, or will it be for who God has made me to be?  Though I hope to accomplish whatever He calls me to do, I desire even more, to walk out all of my days as who He is calling me to become.  I long for His light to illuminate the dark places, His love to embrace the hurting, and His kindness to clearly convey immeasurable worth to those who desperately need to hear.  I want to forego fear and love without reservation.

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

Help for the Hurting

What hurts haunt the heart of a child that causes chaos? 
This is the question that I cannot seem to shake in response to a series of unfortunate actions by one of my students.  He began the day seeming “off”, and it only spiraled from there.  Actions that appeared to be fueled by rage, repeated a number of times over the course of mere hours. 
Has he witnessed such outrageous outbursts?  Has he been the recipient of rage?  Sadly, it would not surprise me if it is so…  

How can I make a difference in the midst of a raging storm?  With my own children, I can hug it out.  I am able to wrap my arms around them, hold them close to my heart, and gently remind them that they are loved and valued, regardless of their behavioral choices.  Teachable moments as to how to best diffuse feelings of extreme anger or frustration follow.  The short-lived storm passes and peace returns.  

Not the case with students.  Though they may desperately need the “hug it out” approach, it is not an appropriate response in the academic arena.  I can however, utilize similar strategies with words.  I can speak truth in the center of the storm.  I can offer an out, so that regrettable actions do not occur.  Strategies may be suggested for future storms. 

The condition of my own heart has the capacity to either help or hurt when chaos comes.  My words and actions leave a lasting impression.  If I get angry and speak something unkind, I become unsafe and unreliable.  Trust shatters when frustration fuels response.  When kindness and correction are gently communicated, distress diffuses and safety is secured.

My desire is to diffuse distress, communicate kindness, and encourage excellence.  I am only able to do this when I am completely dependent on God.  He alone is able to provide the words and the heart for the hurting.  His hope heals horrendous hurts.  “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless…”  (Psalm 18:30)

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