Refreshment for My Soul

He refreshes my soul… – (Psalm 23:3a, NIV)

He restores my strength… – (Psalm 23:3a, ERV)

You let me catch my breath… – (Psalm 23:3a, MSG)

He makes me whole again… – (Psalm 23:3a, VOICE)

 

As I have been provided the opportunity to gather with dear friends this weekend, my heart holds onto the promise that He refreshes our souls. This particular group of gals and I have been dear friends for twenty-five years. We met in Montana as each of us was following the call to participate in Discipleship Training School with YWAM. Our time together back then was an intense six months, as we prepared and then traveled to our determined destination in Southeast Asia. Three of us landed together in Thailand, while the other two spent their outreach experience in Japan. That connection so long ago has held fast, and we are each blessed and refreshed as we try to make time to get together at least once a year for a weekend. Though each of our lives have gone different directions, there are common threads and shared experiences that bring our bond even closer. This weekend grants us each room to catch our breath, as we find time to laugh and simply enjoy the presence of one another as we share what has been happening in our lives. I love how God uses the people that He has placed in our lives to refresh, restore and encourage us as we navigate the path that He is leading us along. May we ever seek Him to restore our strength and refresh our soul, as He is the One who will make us whole again.

 

Be still, O my soul,

YWAM Girls

From the last time we gathered…<3

For there shall be rest;

He knows what we need,

And He loves us best.

He restores our strength,

When it’s all but gone;

Helps us catch our breath,

To end the day strong.

Our soul is refreshed,

Through His loving grace;

He grants what’s needed,

As we seek His face.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are loving and kind, and that You refresh, restore and make us whole again when we feel completely depleted. Thank You that it is not something that we need muster the strength to do, but rather it is in the seeking that You provide. Thank You for the gift of long-standing friendships that last. Forgive us for attempting to muscle our way through difficulties rather than seek You for strength. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would slow down and trust You to restore what is broken and refresh us in our weariness. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends Your refreshment and restoration so that they might catch their breath and find strength in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be exalted O God, as we seek Your refreshment and strength, as You alone, make us whole. Amen.

 

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

 

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

Born to Stick Together

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. – (Proverbs 17:17, NLT)

A friend loves you all the time, but a brother was born to help in times of trouble. – (Proverbs 17:17, ERV)

Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble. – (Proverbs 17:17, MSG)

 

I am overwhelmingly blessed with loyal and loving friends and family, and have the privilege of watching the beautiful bond of brothers as my boys stick together in the face of adversity. This verse is demonstrated to me in a tangible way through my boys. Each time one of them is sick, the other always asks to remain nearby to help care for the other. It has been this way since they were very small. No matter how much they argue or fight, (they are brothers after all) at the end of the day, they are there for each other and love fiercely. God uses those around us who love us well to give us glimpses of how He loves. What we see through others, even those who love us best, is but a minute fraction of the greatness and vastness of His love for each one of us, individually. May we ever seek the Lord and His love, so that we can be the loyal, loving friends and family to those whom God has given unto us, just as He asks.

 

Our God has called us,Born to Stick Together

To be a true friend;

One who is loyal,

Who loves to the end.

We’re also chosen,

To be family;

To help through all things,

In chaos and peace.

May we learn to love,

As we’re called to do;

Through all things, always,

Together in truth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that You give us of family and friends. Thank You that through their loyal love and help, we gain deeper insight to who You are and how You love. Forgive us for not being as loving or loyal as we ought to be, or for not remaining present in times of trouble when we are needed most. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would go where You call and remain where You plant us. Show us how to love in all things and at all times, just as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for the friends and family that You have given us, and trust You to teach and empower us to love as we are loved. Amen.

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Praise in Mourning

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, NIV)

All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, VOICE)

 

This morning, I find myself in a strange space – torn between grief and gladness; sorting between sorrow and surrender. My whole life, my grandmother has been a very real and powerful presence. Her faithfulness to our Heavenly Father, paired with the gifts that He birthed within her that she used without restraint, have been the model that I have looked to, and one whom I admire most. Gram has always been the glue that bound our family to one another. Despite differences, each of us has had a unique and treasured gift in the bond that she has formed with us, individually. The ability to see the value in people and set their heart at peace simply by being in her presence, is a trait that drew so many unto her.  She lived a live unrivaled, faithful in all that she endeavored. Gram served her family, her church, her community, and above all, God. The love grown deep in the quiet time on her knees, overflowed to all who knew her. No matter what I was going through, I knew she was covering me in prayer. After ninety-eight years on the earth, and a long year of colon cancer taking root and stealing the independence she had always known, she went home to be with Jesus last night. I am grateful that her suffering was not prolonged, yet grieve not getting one more visit. God is compassionate, and He offers comfort to us as we mourn. Though there is much sorrow for the personal loss of the phenomenal person my grandmother was, it is tempered with great joy in knowing that she is singing with our Savior. No more sorrow, no more pain. I imagine a great celebration as she is reunited with so many who have gone before her. May we all take comfort in the Father of compassion and comfort, as we give praise for the blessings we’ve been given in the time we had.

 

This morning, it seems appropriate that I share one of my grandma’s poems rather than write my own. Her words are likely the echo of what she is singing right now.

 

Song of Praise – by Rosemary Steiner

Glory and majestyPraise in Mourning

To the Lord God,

Who created the Heavens

And the Earth;

And breathed life

Into all creatures,

Even us, His people.

He gave meaning to our being;

He called us brothers

And prepared a place

For us with Him

Eternally.

He breathed life into us,

Transcendent life of the Spirit –

Gave us eyes to see beauty,

Ears to hear truth,

Wills to choose His way.

The heavens reflect His omnipotence

Time without end.

God enjoys the music of the spheres,

But hears our dissonance

With compassion,

How worthy is He.

How infinite His love.

Holy be His Name forever. Amen.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that so many of us were given through the long and loving life of Gram. Thank You that though we mourn her passing, we can celebrate her homecoming with You. Thank You that we have the blessed hope of being together again for all of eternity in heaven. Forgive us for our fears and regrets, and teach us to trust You so that we might fully live out each of our days, according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to love with compassion and comfort, all those who grieve. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they see the faithfulness that has been fulfilled through the life of my grandmother. Be glorified O God, as we choose to give You praise, even as we mourn. Amen.

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

There is a time to cry, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

Love Prospers Through Forgiveness

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. – (Proverbs 17:9, NLT)

Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten onto a slight and – goodbye friend! – (Proverbs 17:9, MSG)

Those who forgive faults foster love, but those who repeatedly recall them ruin relationships. – (Proverbs 17:9, VOICE)

 

I have seen both sides of the truth in these wise words that Solomon recorded. Friends who forgive, foster even closer friendships, but those who choose to dwell on something hurtful, end up losing the friendship altogether. There are times when it is necessary to forgive and walk away, but typically, hurtful things can be discussed and worked through, rather than allowing them to drive a wedge between people who are close. Most often, the offense is a misunderstanding or a misstep that was done with good, not malicious intent. Seeking to understand is always the best mode of operation, rather than harboring bitterness and cutting ties. Sadly, it takes investment from both sides, and if only one half of the equation is willing to work to make amends, then the friendship still ends up lost. May we each offer forgiveness for the faults of others, as we have been forgiven so much.

 

Where we choose forgive,Faith and Hope in Action

The heart of love grows;

Grace that is offered,

Makes God’s true love show.

When we dwell on hurts,

Close bonds are destroyed;

Fixing on our hurts,

Is poison employed.

Let love be fostered,

As we choose forgive;

Love well each other,

In this life we live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only call us to love and forgive, but You have shown us these very acts employed, over and over again. Thank You that You continue to love and forgive us for our faults, as not one of us can navigate this life without mistakes and missteps. Forgive us for dwelling on offenses, and teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose to forgive faults and foster love, rather than repeatedly recall offenses and birth bitterness. Show us how to love as we are loved, forgiving those who offend us as we choose extend Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they come to know Your forgiveness and the depth of Your unending love. Be glorified O God, as we forgive offenses and choose to love well. Amen.

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

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy. – Hebrews 4:16

This is Real Love

This is real love – not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. – (1 John 4:10, NLT)

True love is God’s love for us, not our love for God. He sent His Son as the way to take away our sins. – (1 John 4:10, ERV)

This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins. – (1 John 4:10, VOICE)

 

Real love, the love that is true from God, is sacrificial and loves first. It is not dependent on whether or not love is returned; it is a choice to answer the calling and command of Christ. Jesus made the way for us to experience the fullness of God’s love, as His sacrifice bore the weight of all our sin and broke down the barrier between us and the bond that enables us to embrace the fullness of our Father’s favor, though we have done nothing to deserve it. True love chose us first, so that we might receive His goodness and grace as they are freely given, and then go and give likewise. May we receive the riches poured out upon us by our Heavenly Father, as He lavishly loves us so that we might truly know Him and in turn love as we are loved.

 

The love that is real,It is Grace that Saves

Does not start with us;

But rather it comes,

From the Lord, Jesus.

The depth and the breadth,

Of His love made known;

Through His sacrifice,

Ultimate love shown.

All sin that has been,

Or will ever be;

He took to the cross,

And bore it for me.

Because of this love,

I too want to show;

His love to the world,

So all hearts might know.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us first, though we deserved it not. Thank You that You sent Your Son to take away our sin and make the way for us to be restored to right relationship with You. Thank You that You enable and empower us to share the very same love with all whom we encounter. Forgive us for not loving others as we are loved by You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would not limit our love, or place conditions on who or when we extend Your goodness and grace. Show us how to love even the most challenging of people, as You love each of us equally well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to reveal real love to those around us through our words and deeds, by Your goodness and grace. Amen.

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

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Familial Friends

Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. – (Proverbs 18:24, MSG)

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. – (Proverbs 18:24, NLT)

 

As I have begun the preparation process to return back to the classroom for the new school year, I have had the joy of reconnecting with colleagues whom I also have the privilege of calling friends. This summer, I have had the pleasure of spending time with several friends, whom I adore. I am overwhelmed when I consider the corners of my community. Between relatives, church family, lifelong friends, fitness friends, colleagues, and more, I have this beautiful circle of people on whom I can depend, that mean the world to me. Some have been in my life for decades, whereas others are relatively new members of my tribe. However, all are equal contributors to what I consider the wealth of my existence. These true friends have become family, and it is my charge to do likewise for those around me. May we all invest well in those who the Lord brings into our lives, so that we can be the truest of friends that build up and share a familial bond.

 

People come and go,photo (14)

For not all invest;

But those who are true,

Are the very best.

The truest of friends,

Remain ever near;

Their hearts are faithful,

Their motives are clear.

A close friend for us,

Is like family;

Grants courage and grace,

And strength to just be.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessing of sweet friendships. Thank You for the gift of true friends in so many different facets of my life. Forgive me for the times that I have not been a good friend to those around me. Teach me to trust You more, so that I would hear Your heart for each person that I encounter, and that I might love well, as You love me. Show us how to be true friends to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks for our friendships and go forth to be true friends to those around us. Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

Running With Purpose

This morning will not be a typical Sunday morning for me. It will be strange to gather with a different group, for a different purpose; yet ultimately, in my heart, to Him, all glory is given. Normally, I would be gathering with my church family for our Sunday worship service. However, today, I will be running the You Go Girl Half-Marathon with a dear friend, and countless other women who have signed on.

 

People have vastly different reasons for running, yet there is a sense of community and a bond between runners, as we brave the elements, and tackle the miles, together. For some, weight loss or weight maintenance is the only motivation for running. For others, it is to set and achieve goals. Others still, are in it for the endorphins, while some see it as an opportunity to connect with our Creator and with friends. Honestly, there is no better place to pound out frustrations, fears, and failures, than on the pavement. Every step forward is distancing oneself further away from the former, and closer to the future. When I run, I feel His pleasure. I am aware of His presence with every breath, His nearness with each step, and His awesome power as I take in the magnificent views all around me, that He has created.

 

Today as I run, I will be running for those who cannot; for the dear ones who have been called home too soon for my liking, yet can now run freely – unhindered by what burdened them here. Though we are not all runners on the pavement, we are all runners in the race of life. Let us run the race that is set before us with endurance. – (Hebrews 12:1) He equips us for all that He is calling us to do, we simply must start stepping forward. At times, the series of steps are exhausting, yet He remains, and His presence is ALWAYS enough. May we each go forth in His strength, as we run the race He sets before us.

 

Let us run the race,Running With Purpose

laid out by the Lord;

run with endurance,

to know the reward.

For those who persist,

even when it’s tough;

will find that His strength,

is more than enough.

Keep moving forward,

no matter the height;

one step at a time,

His way that is right.

And on that great day,

when our race is run;

a crown we’ll receive,

from the Holy One.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created each of us to run our own race – whatever that may look like. Thank You that You prepare, strengthen and equip us, so that we are properly trained to take on the race You call us to run. Thank You that You do not ask us to run alone, but rather You remain present beside us, every step of the way. Forgive us for our lack of fortitude when we grow weary and for our fear when we cannot see the end in sight. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will lean on You to be our strength in the struggle and our safety in the storm. Lead us to love others as You so lavishly love us. May many come to know who Your personally, as we faithfully run the race to which we are called. Be glorified, O God, as we run our race with purpose and endurance. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:9

Unity of the Spirit

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – (Ephesians 4:3)

 

Make daily, an earnest attempt, to be united in one purpose, empowered by the Holy Spirit, Who holds together and seals our state of order as we follow our Heavenly Father’s good and perfect plan for our lives. God wants us to work together with fellow believers, to be His body. Our charge is to be the church, so that lives may be touched and communities changed. Both are only possible if we are choosing to be united in purpose, trusting the Holy Spirit to lead and direct us as we go. May He equip our every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit, as we pursue His bond of peace.

 

Seek the Lord daily,Unity of the Spirit

to find unity;

only by His strength,

can peace flow from me.

He grants us order,

plants community;

in hearts that seek Him,

that choose to believe.

Trust in His leading,

for His ways are good;

all things together,

as one, understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be united by Your Spirit, and that You equip us to be bound together as one in You, by Your peace. Thank You that Your plans for us are good, and that they include us working together with members of a body of believers. Forgive us for seeking to do things in our own strength, or for neglecting to be united peacefully with the body of believers. Teach us to allow You to reign and rule in our hearts and lives, so that Your peace may pour out upon each relationship we invest in, and may Your love through us be evident to all. Let those who are looking, find a lasting relationship with You forever. Amen.

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

Is anyone happy?  Let his sing songs of praise. – James 5:13