Hope When it Feels Like Hell

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – (Romans 12:12, NIV)

Be happy because of the hope you have. Be patient when you have troubles. Pray all the time. – (Romans 12:12, ERV)

Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer. – (Romans 12:12, VOICE)

 

This morning, this is the very reminder that I needed the most. I know there are stages of grief, particularly when something so traumatic takes place with a parent, especially a parent who has filled the role of both mother and father, coach and teacher, friend and confidant, leader, example, pastor, sole grandparent to my children, and so much more. Anger seems to be the stage in this process that both my sister and I are in. Between the frustration of the questions of why her, the outrage at the details and the seeming disclosure violations, the paperwork battle to place her near family (which is far less costly than the dang hospital), to simply being just plain mad that it happened to OUR mom. We would never wish this on another, but why her? I know no one has the answers, and quite frankly, I would probably throat punch anyone who tried to give me answers. In fact, I woke myself in the night saying “throat punch”, as my left arm shot forward with a balled fist. Thankfully, I was facing the opposite direction of my Viking, and he was soundly sleeping. Finding joy in the hope is particularly difficult when we feel like we are on hold. Patience in static spots is not a strength of mom’s, Meg’s nor mine. Prayer, we can do, as I know so many of you are too. Perhaps that is the point of this post. Please pray for joy in hope, patience in all of this, and ever be faithful to continue to contend for mom’s complete and total healing.

 

Find joy in the hope, 05031906408349317511433862260.jpg

Of what lies ahead;

For fear’s a liar,

No matter what’s said.

God is far greater,

Than all that we face;

We must be patient,

It’s His, not our pace.

In everything,

Choose seek God and pray;

no matter what’s seen,

God will make a way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are bigger than our frustration and anger and grief. Thank You that You hold us in Your hands and ride out our rage, waiting lovingly to embrace us with Your joy, peace and comfort. Forgive us for allowing fear a foothold based on our limited understanding. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to find joy in the hope of all that lies ahead, patience in the here and now, and to pray without ceasing. Lead us to love well, all those around us, so that they may recognize Your heart for them through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, even in this, for we know that You alone can bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Amen.

 

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

 

To all who mourn in Israel He will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for His own glory. – Isaiah 61:3

 

All for Good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – (Romans 8:28, NIV)

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. These are the people God chose, because that was His plan. – (Romans 8:28, ERV)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

 

This is an incredible promise to which we can hold secure. All things that we face, endure and walk through can be transformed and utilized for our good, and the good of those around us. He turns our tests into testimonies, our ashes into something beautiful, and our mourning leads to celebration, through the power of His presence and strength. I can look back at the darkest trials that I have had to walk through, and see clearly, how His light shone brightest for me, and ultimately through me, as He turned difficult things into triumphs that encouraged others in similar situations. God is good, and we can trust Him to use everything for good, in due time. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength, and watch for His love to turn ashes into things of beauty.

 

Beauty from ashes, All for Good

Strength where we were weak;

Light where things were dark,

When the Lord we seek.

His presence, promised,

And His love assured;

Trust and reliance,

Faith that the Lord heard.

He hears our requests,

God’s faithful to bring;

Solutions and grace,

Praise to our wise King.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You work all things together for the good of those who love You and seek answer Your call. Thank You that You are faithful forever. Forgive us for our fears and doubts when we are in the midst of a mess. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would recognize Your strength and grace as we go, and the beauty that You bring from our former ashes. Show us how to love those around us in a way that they see Your hope and light and strength in the middle of their struggle. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your transforming power to bring beauty from the ashes of our trials. Amen.

 

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

 

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.” – Psalm 16:2

True Source of Strength

I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. – (Psalm 121:1-2, MSG)

I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help. But then I realize that our true help and protection come only from the Lord, our Creator who made the heavens and the earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, TPT)

 

The beauty and majesty found in creation are tangible reminders of the power and goodness of God. Even as a small child, I remember seeing the first star of the evening and beginning with a wish that would soon transform into a prayer to the very One who hung the stars in the sky. That same heart is still reminded of God’s grace and strength at the sight of the work of His hands. Today is a day that many of us will never forget. I still remember my drive to work as the news came over the radio that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. Upon arrival, I, with so many others, turned on the TV in my classroom to watch in horror as the footage of the horrific events unfolded. The images will forever be etched in my mind. As I drove home that day, I took in the view of the mountain, and was reminded that the same God who made majestic mountains, could bring beauty from the ashes of so much destruction. Though we may never understand why such tragedies occur this side of heaven, the stories of redemption and beauty and overcoming have risen from the ashes. People who were touched by the tragedy, hold their loved ones a little tighter and do not take a single day for granted. Spouses, siblings and children of those who were lost, have gone on to accomplish great things in honor of their loved ones. May we ever look to the Lord, our Creator, to be our help, as He is the true source of strength.

 

No matter what comes,9-11-memorial-03-marley-white__large.jpg

We must realize;

That God is the One,

Who gives strength to rise.

Rise from the ashes,

When all seemed but lost;

Rise from the rubble,

For He paid the cost.

No matter the darkness,

The Lord is the light;

His love and His grace,

Set wrong things to right.

O Lord, be our strength,

When trials come near;

Grant courage to rise,

In the face of fear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created so much beauty that reminds us of Your goodness and strength. Thank You that often, as we see the work of Your hands, our gaze is lifted to You. Forgive us for not looking to You to be the light in every darkness, or for celebrating creation rather than the Creator. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You to be our help, and praise You in all things and at all times, as You alone are our strength and supply. Show us how to love those around us in a way that brings light and life, goodness and grace into spaces where there is none. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize where we find help that lasts. Amen.

 

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

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” – Hebrews 13:6

Remember the Wonders

Remember the amazing things He has done. Remember His miracles and His fair decisions. – (1 Chronicles 16:12, ERV)

Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced. – (1 Chronicles 16:12, NIV)

Remember the wondrous works He has done, all His marvelous works, and the justice He declared. – (1 Chronicles 16:12, CEB)

 

It is so good to pause and reflect on the wondrous works that God has done. In a few short years, God has brought me from a space of brokenness and despair to one that is healed and whole and loved more than I ever thought possible. When I was in need, He provided. At times when things seemed unjust, He brought justice. Throughout each new day God has been present and faithful and loving. This morning, I look forward, for in two short days our boys, my Viking and I, will travel to Wenatchee to prepare for our wedding on Saturday. Down to the last detail, God has provided all. From a home that will accommodate two adults and three teenage boys, to the sale of my Viking’s old home, to just the right timing and grace to move our belongings out of our old home and into the new space. Two days remain to finish moving and cleaning our former home and have things moved in so that we are set to be home when we return from the wedding. Though a bit daunting, I know all will be done as I look back and recognize the grace and strength, help and hope that He has given all along. May we ever remember the wonders our God has done, His miracles, and the righteous way He rules.

 

The Lord, He is good, wp-15317456633552085009570804260347.jpg

Throughout all our days;

His wondrous works,

Of kindness and grace.

He’s seen all our needs,

In love, provided;

Restored peacefulness,

Where angst divided.

With all that I am,

For all of my days;

I can’t thank enough,

Nor give enough praise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the wondrous works and miracles You have done in my life. Thank You that You are just and fair in all of Your ways. Thank You for the incredible ways that You bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Forgive us for the times that we have doubts or fail to see all that You have done. Teach us to trust You more, so that faith would rise up every time a challenge comes our way. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers hope and demonstrates the goodness of Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we offer all of our praise for the incredible gift of Your loving ways. Amen.

 

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

 

I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds. – Psalm 9:1

 

 

All Together for Good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – (Romans 8:28, NIV)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. – (Romans 8:28, NLT)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

 

God is able to take all that we experience – every trial and triumph, each heartache and happiness, and use them together for good for those who choose to receive what He offers and walk in His ways. If we never experienced defeat, we would not appreciate the thrill of victory. If we did not know what it was to ache, we could not fully grasp the beauty and bounty of His blessings. God does not cause the struggles and trials that we face, but He does take our ashes and brings beauty for all to behold. I am in a season currently, where I am witnessing just how much beauty and blessing He ushers into the spaces that once were swallowed by sorrow. Dashed hopes have become dreams displayed for my heart to hold again, and where there was once nothing but wreckage, now resides fresh tenacity and vitality, as a new chapter of my story is being authored by He who breathes love and life and grace. May we be confident in our hope in knowing that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and have chosen to follow the path that He has placed before us.

 

God takes our ashes, All Together for Good

Our space of despair;

Fills them with beauty,

By His tender care.

He orchestrates all,

To work out for good;

For those who accept,

His plans as we should.

In all things, God makes,

His greatness abound;

Darkness becomes light,

And true joy is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You take our wreckage and return beauty and hope and good things as we trust our lives in Your hands. Thank You that though we will face trials, we can hold fast to confident hope, knowing that You will ultimately use all things for good. Forgive us for struggling to see hope when darkness seems to surround us. Teach us to trust You more, and to remember that You are the Light that dwells within us. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may extend hope in spaces of struggle and celebrate with those in seasons of blessing. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to work all things together toward something good as we pursue the path that You have placed before us. Amen.

 

 

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

 

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14

Let It Be Yes

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying – I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. – (Matthew 26:74, NLT)

 

Peter, who had been one of the three who was closest to Jesus, ultimately betrayed Him in His darkest hour. This must have been particularly painful, as Peter was the only disciple who was mentioned as having followed where Jesus was taken after His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. Rather than extending support or testifying on His behalf, Peter stood outside at a distance – watching and waiting to see what would happen. In his wait, he was asked three times if he was associated with Jesus. Three times, he denied even knowing Him. After Peter’s third denial, the weight of his words overwhelmed him, and he ran off weeping bitterly at his own weakness in the face of adversity. However, the beauty of Peter’s story is that he does not live the remainder of his life as a broken and remorseful man, but rather Jesus forgives and redeems him, and he goes on to become the rock on which the church is built. Peter’s failure later became the way in which he was restored, as Jesus asked him three times, “Peter, do you love me?” Each time Peter responded with a resounding “Yes“, and Jesus followed his “yes” with the call to go out into all the earth and share the good news. Peter went from mess to minister, through the power presented in the forgiveness Jesus provided. May we each seek the redeeming power that Jesus provides as we are willing to say “yes” to Him as He forgives our every sin and shortcoming.

 

Oh Lord as we come,Beside Still Waters

Broken in our sin;

I stand in such awe,

As we’re forgiven.

Your grace overwhelms,

Restores and renews;

Gives rise and purpose,

To all who come choose.

Lord take all our sin,

And wash it away;

Show us how to rise,

To walk well, Your way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God who forgives, heals and restores us and raises us up so that we can do mighty things for You. Thank You that our past does not determine our future. Thank You that You can bring beauty from ashes, and testimonies from trials. Forgive us for wallowing in our own failures, rather than seeking Your forgiveness and redemption. Teach us to trust You more, as Your hand is what moves us in mighty ways. Show us how to love as You love us, so that many may come to know and understand the power of Your forgiveness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for forgiveness, and rely on You to be our strength and guide wherever we are meant to go. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Deep Wells from Shallow Graves

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – (John 4:13-14, NIV)

 

When we are dry and thirsty, nothing satisfies our soul but Jesus. In the places where we have died or suffered loss, the Lord’s light and life can come and bring healing and hope that can quench not only our own thirst, but that of those around us.

God takes our shallow graves and turns them into deep wells.

The things that have only just died and are barely buried, are the very things that God will take, if we are willing, and turn them into deep wells.  These are the places where He brings beauty from ashes, and hope from despair. The losses we have suffered are the very spaces where He graces us with His great strength so that others might drink deeply from the hope that is held so clearly in a place that was once buried in darkness. New light and life shine forth to illuminate the way to His deep well, birthed within us.

 

Where hope was once lost,

Twin Falls, on the way to Hana.

Or love scorned and gone;

Lying in ruins,

How can one press on?

Barren in ashes,

Such desolate space;

Nothing left to give,

Desperate for grace.

Yet when we look up,

Our ash at His feet;

Beauty and wisdom,

By His grace, we meet.

The ugliest grave,

Often can become;

The deepest of wells,

For His chosen ones.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us beauty for ashes and hope for despair. Thank You that You are the well that waters our soul so that we are not left dry and thirsty, but rather as we drink deeply of Your word, You spring forth within us, living water that is a deep well to extend to others. Forgive us for our withdrawal when we feel dry and thirsty. Help us to ever seek You, our endless Source of living water, as You refresh and renew our strength and hope in all things and at all times. Show us how to depend on You to allow You to take our shallow graves and grow deep wells of living water from where they once lay. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize the love and grace available in You alone. Be glorified O God, as we walk out our days as Your vessels that continually pour out of the abundance of hope that we have found. Amen.

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

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5

The Scope of Suffering

Suffering is a natural part of our human existence. Sinful and broken people cause harm that results in adversity, as well as the mere existence of illness and disease that also provide places of pain, distress and hardship. We are not promised a life that is free from suffering, but rather we have hope and help for comfort and strength in the midst of our struggles, and the hope that is held in the promise of that which is yet to come.

In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. – (1 Peter 5:10, NLT)

Hardship and suffering seem to be seasonal. We go through seasons of struggle and seasons of blessing. In our most challenging times, God affords us the opportunity to seek Him and find Him in ways that we never have before. When we do, we come to know His strength, power and presence, in a tangible way, and recognize the hope we hold in Him. Though the suffering and struggles are never pleasant, they are the spaces in which we grow most, and if we are willing, God can use our trials to touch and encourage the lives of others to draw them closer to Himself. May we recognize the kindness of God, even in the midst of our storms, as He has called us to share in His eternal glory forever. Let His love lead us, as He restores, supports and strengthens us, again setting our feet on His firm foundation so that we may walk wherever He calls.

The God of all grace,Hold My Heart

has called unto us;

to forever trust,

His own Son, Jesus.

For in suffering,

our hope is made known;

as we’re granted strength,

by God on the throne.

He stays by our side,

no matter how rough;

the battle we face,

our God is enough.

He’ll set our feet sure,

both firm and steadfast;

and our hope in Him,

forever shall last.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that despite the suffering and trials that all of us endure at one point or another, You are present and willing to strengthen us and be our help and our hope. Thank You too that though You do not bring the trials nor suffering, You use them to grow us closer to You. Thank You that You can use even our ugliest ashes to bring beauty, hope and strength to another. Forgive us for allowing fear or anxiousness to reign in the midst of suffering and trials. Teach us to place all of our hope in You, so that we would recognize that though the suffering is for a season, glory with You will be for all of eternity. Lead us to love others with an eternal perspective, so that our desire will be that each will come into a saving knowledge of who You are and how You love. May many choose to trust in You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to restore us, strengthen us and make us firm and steadfast for You, despite our trials. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6

Remembering to Look Up

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2)

On this Patriot’s Day, as we remember the terrible tragedy that struck the safety of our own soil, we can also recall a time that our nation banded together as a united front, to help the hurting, care well for the courageous that continued to search for the missing, and sought the strength and security that our Savior alone provided. Our help to make sense of something so senseless, could only come as we chose to cling to Christ.

Time has passed, and the new generation of kids I have in my classroom were not even born yet when 9/11 occurred. Many of them, have no personal connection to the event, as they have not traveled beyond the West Coast, or for some, even outside of our state. They have never known life without scanners and security guards at government buildings and hospitals, nor do many have connections to fire fighters, law enforcement officers, or military personnel. History needs to be shared. Each generations ought to be made aware of what has gone before them, so they gain empathy and compassion for those who serve and protect our nation. Today, this verse is more personal, as I lift my eyes to the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, and trust Him to lead and guide me; to show me how to create connections that are relevant and personal for seventh grade students, to an event that occurred prior to their existence. May we each take time to remember the lost, and the lives of those who continue to live with the holes in their hearts all of these years later. Be our help Lord.

Remember the time,911

when tragedy struck;

nation was silenced,

in shock we were stuck.

The world fell silent,

in horror, we watched;

such acts of terror,

and countless lives lost.

The chaos encased,

in great clouds of dust;

everywhere running,

which sense could they trust?

It did not take long,

for heroes to rise;

to search for missing,

help those still alive.

Even days after,

the tragedy fell;

people were praying,

holding hope as well.

Out of the ashes,

came beauty indeed;

people united,

to rise and meet needs.

Let us remember,

the community;

together triumphs,

with trust, unity.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we lift our eyes up to You, You are where our help comes from. Thank You that we can trust and depend on You, even on the darkest of days. Thank You that You bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Thank You that You alone, can turn tragedy into triumph. Forgive us for allowing tragedy, trials, grief, or our own lack of hope in what we cannot see to keep us from looking to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would lift our eyes to You, no matter what comes our way – for You are our Help and our Hope, always. Lead us to love and encourage others, no matter what circumstance life has them in, and may many find their hope forever in You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to be our Help and our Hope, always. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

Just Be Held

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. – (Zephaniah 3:17)

 

God really is that loving, kind and gracious to us. I am in awe of how he meets us with His love, and touches our hearts so personally. Even when we are overwhelmed by our circumstances or surroundings, the Lord is present, and moving. He delights in us, even in our despair, and only He truly knows how to bring calm to our internal storms.

 

The other day had been a quite tumultuous day for me. I was feeling completely overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, and had just received yet another blow. As I was driving to meet a friend to work out, a song came on the radio that I had not ever really heard before. I am not certain if I had not heard the song before, or if I had somehow missed the actual lyrics, but that day, God completely captured my attention with the words. Each verse seemed to hit straight to my heart, and by the time the chorus came, I knew that God was using this song to speak to me in the moment. The song is “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. The lines of the chorus that were such a poignant reminder: “So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away, you’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held, your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place, I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held, Just be held, just be held.” (Click the highlighted title if you would like to hear it too.)

 

It is easy to forget that He delights in us, and will quiet us with His love, and He rejoices over us with singing, when everything seems to be falling apart. He has a plan and a purpose for each of us, no matter how things appear. Even when things seem like they are a complete disaster, often it is a space of rebuilding, before something really remarkable is ready to begin. Our job is to trust, and to know that He is with us, and that God is mighty to save. He is more than able in all situations, we have to be willing to be obedient, and at times that includes completely letting go, and just being held…

 

At times life is hard,Just Be Held

and hope seems so far;

but God’s always near,

wherever we are.

So mighty to save,

we are His delight;

He sings over us,

through the darkest night.

His love will bring calm,

where no peace is known;

surrender to Him,

let His strength be shown.

For often our mess,

the struggle and strain;

is what He will use,

for our greatest gain.

Out of the ashes,

His beauty shall rise;

in Christ all made new,

our hope realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us and that You are mighty to save. Thank You that You take great delight in us, and that You quiet us with Your love and rejoice over us with singing. Thank You that You take us when we are in a space of chaos, and bring calm. Thank You that we can come to You, throw up our arms in surrender, and just be held. Forgive us for fighting when You are calling us to surrender. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would know when to press on, and when to release what we are so fiercely holding into Your hands. Lead us to love others with Your kindness and grace, and may many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we surrender the things that we are not meant to hold, and simply allow You to hold onto us. Amen.

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

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