Grace in the Grief

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NIV) 

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV) 

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NLT) 

 

This morning, as I checked my messages, there was a notice from a friend at church informing me that an incredible lady – a wife and mother about my age, has passed. It has been both inspiring and heartbreaking to watch, for she battled cancer with courage and strength over the last several years, as her family fought alongside her. There was a sense of maintaining as much normalcy as possible, despite the devastation that all must have been feeling. The comfort in this heart-breaking loss, is that she is free of the pain and walking in glory. That being said, her husband has lost his best friend, and the children have lost their mother. Grief is a heavy space. As I pray for the family and those closest to her, I lay hold of the promise held in this verse in Matthew. Though it is not an easy road, God will bring comfort. God will bring His perfect peace. May we hold fast to the promise that He holds the grieving in His hands, and God is our Source of comfort in every season. 

 

God of all comfort, Being Made New

We lean into Thee; 

For the ones mourning, 

Bring Your grace and peace. 

No words that we speak, 

Nor acts done in love; 

Can comfort the grief, 

Like You Lord, above. 

For You know each heart, 

How to help the ache; 

To soothe the sorrow, 

And mend the heartbreak. 

O Lord, be near them, 

As they walk through pain; 

Be their close comfort, 

‘til just love remains. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our comfort when we grieve. Thank You that You know this family and all that they need. Thank You that You will bring exactly what they need to navigate their new normal. Forgive us for forgetting our own mortality, and not receiving each day we wake as an incredible gift of time that not all are afforded. Teach us to appreciate each new day, and to seek You in all things. Show us how to love well, those who are mourning. May we be used in the practical as well as the prayerful. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for being our comfort and our peace, even in the most heartbreaking of times. Amen.

 

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

(There is) A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

Blessings through Honor

“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on earth.” – (Ephesians 6:2-3, NLT) 

Honor your father and mother. This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing. – (Ephesians 6:2-3, TLB) 

For the commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” was the first of the Ten Commandments with a promise attached: “You will prosper and live a long, full life if you honor your parents.” – (Ephesians 6:2-3, TPT) 

 

I am watching the fruit of this very principle unfold before me, as we have traveled to Minnesota to spend time with my Viking’s father. Cancer has invaded his body, and he was given an expiration date that seems quite bleak. Despite the span of nearly twenty-five years since he last saw his father, and only a handful of phone conversations in-between, witnessing the two of them (as well as my sister-to-be, and soon-to-be bonus son) interact with this man in grace and love, honoring him as their father, blessed my heart beyond what I could have imagined. It was as if all of the time, distance and disappointments disappeared, and only good and grace and love remained. It is evident that walking in forgiveness and grace blesses not only the transgressor, but sets free, the very one who has been hurt. May we ever go forth in grace and forgiveness, honoring our parents, regardless of their shortcomings. We all fall short and are in need of grace, and the beauty that comes is worth the release. Let us honor our parents as the people who granted us this glorious gift of life.  

 

The Bible commands, img_2018-01-27_08-43-45418161434.jpg

That we honor well; 

Fathers and mothers, 

Of love and grace tell. 

For with the command, 

There’s a promise too; 

That blessings will come, 

As we follow through. 

So, ever give good, 

Honor and choose love; 

There will be blessings, 

Of grace from above. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of the parents that You give to us. Thank You for those whom we know well and see often, and thank You for those whom we see rarely. Father forgive us for not walking this out according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to honor our parents as You call us to honor them. Lead us in Your love and grace, so that we would be a blessing as we are blessed by You. Teach us to love like You, so that all may come to know the truth of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to honor those You have given us according to Your love and grace. Amen. 

 

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

 

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

Faith in the Fight

O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You restored my health. – (Psalm 30:2, NLT)

Lord my God, I prayed to You, and You healed me. – (Psalm 30:2, ERV)

 

I do not understand why some people are healed in an instant, while others continue to battle day in and day out with sickness and disease. What I do know is that God is able to heal, so my charge is to contend for those who are still fighting, as they wait for healing to come. I have witnessed both healing and heartache, and through it all, have seen the goodness of God. Today, as I learned of a dear one’s relapse in her battle against cancer, I will rise up with resolve to continue to contend on her behalf, just as she will fight with fervor. May His healing come quickly to those in the wait, and may each of us who know Him, be utilized to strengthen and encourage those who are fighting.

 

O Lord hear our cry, Faith in the Fight

As we choose contend;

For those in the fight,

Your healing, please send.

Each word we offer,

To You up in prayer;

Is heard and received,

As Your hope is shared.

Come near, Lord Jesus,

With Your healing hands;

Restore what’s broken,

May Your peace advance.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, we call out and contend for Your touch for those who are fighting sickness and disease. Thank You that You are our Help and our Healer. Thank You that You give us strength and sustain us in the fight, and that You can do abundantly more than we could hope or imagine. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, as it is difficult to see beyond a diagnosis or statistics. Teach us to trust You more, as You are greater than all. Show us how to love, support and encourage all those around us who are fighting for restoration. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we cry to You for help, and trust You to bring healing. Amen.

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

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

To Fight the Good Fight

Last summer, much of my free time was spent driving back and forth to Seattle to spend time with my dear friend, Anne, and to take her to various medical appointments. Anne had been bravely battling stage four cancer for nearly nine years. Many of those years had been extremely victorious. However, the unpredictable and ugly disease had spread its corrosive cells throughout her entire body. Though Anne presented a valiant fight, the cancer was finding a foothold that nothing could seem to stop. By summer’s end, she needed a place to stay where she would not be left alone for long stretches of time, but rather where there would continually be a person present in the home. God provided the perfect place – a home with a loving Christian couple and their eldest daughter, who happened to be an in-home care medical person. Additionally, the new location was a mere fifteen minutes from my home, rather than forty.

 

One of the many things that Anne loved about their home, is that they would talk with her and spend time reading the Bible aloud to her, as she requested. There was a verse that came to be very significant to Anne as she became increasingly frail, and barring a miracle, it was apparent that her end was near. This morning as I read through the passages in my daily reading plan, there was a hitch in my heart as I came upon that particular verse. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – (2 Timothy 4:7) Anne, although her days were far shorter than any of us would have liked, she fought the good fight, she never wavered in her faith, and she finished her race strong, even unto her final breath. It is my prayer that I would learn from her example, and that no matter what comes my way, that I would continue to fight the good fight and keep the faith. When my days are done, I want to know that I have finished the race He has set before me, with no regrets.

 

Whatever we do,To Fight the Good Fight

may it give God praise;

with all of our heart,

for all of our days.

To fight the good fight,

means stay in the game;

trust that He is good,

have faith in His Name.

We must run the race,

that He’s called us to;

for He’s qualified,

and equipped to do.

View not the struggle,

nor look to the task;

instead to the Source,

our Strength as we ask.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us numerous examples of those who have gone before us and have fought the good fight, have finished the race, and have kept the faith. Thank You that this is not something that we are meant to do in our own strength, but rather in Yours. Thank You that You supply all that we need to stand strong and stay in the fight for as long as we are meant to run our race. Forgive us for allowing weariness to let our hearts wander off course, and help faith to rise up as we grow in our understanding of who You are, and just how much You love us. Thank You that Your mercy is new every morning, and that Your grace is enough. May we stand strong in faith in the fight, and run our race as You call us to run. Let Your love be what people see in us, and may many come to know You as their Lord and Savior, as our path points people to You. Be glorified through how we are running our race. 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

 

 

 

Speak of What’s Seen

This morning, as part of my reading plan led me through Acts 4, my heart fixed on verse twenty. “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” – (Acts 4:20) A multitude of moments passed through my mind, as I thought of the Lord’s faithfulness – again and again.  However, the display of His goodness that is the most recent and readily recalled in my heart and mind, is how He so graciously provided for my dear friend Anne, in the final few months of her life.

AineFor those who have read the various things that I have written about Aine (pronounced On-ya, Gaelic equivalent to Annie), this may be a bit of repetition, but for those who have not, this is some of what I have seen and heard that I cannot help but speak of now.  Aine, began battling stage four breast cancer in 2004.  After a mastectomy, she actually seemed to be doing very well, and the cancer was under control – or so she thought.  Fast forward to 2008, and spots of bone cancer were discovered in her femur, spine and a few other small spaces.  At the time, radiation was done for the largest spot on her leg, and was left at that.  She maintained her busy, active life, and gave little attention to the cancer that was trying to creep in.  In 2011, the cancer had become invasive enough that she at last relented, and decided to go ahead and give chemo a try.  At first, the chemotherapy did bring her numbers down.  And then it seemed to stop working.  It was a roller coaster of treatment trial and error, and all the while, Aine was upbeat, positive, and trusted that the Lord would heal her.  Late 2012, she began getting migraines.  She had never had them before, so this led to a series of tests.  By January 2013, we knew that she had multiple brain tumors.  In February, she underwent full-brain radiation.  Remarkably, the tumors responded very well.  Most of them shrank or disappeared, and the migraines ceased.  Unfortunately, the bone cancer had been unattended during this time, and was spreading like wild fire.  She faithfully rallied, enduring a few emergency hospital stays, fighting what we thought was the end, because she had become so ill, all the while, holding fast to her faith in our Heavenly Father.

On to the part that I can’t help but speak of…  By late July, Aine was in bad shape.  We knew the end was near, and she needed care and a place to stay.  Aine had no family nearby, and was single.  Her church family gathered around her and truly held her up and provided for her every need.  Dear friends poured out resources she did not anticipate, and a home for her to stay in was provided by the perfect hosts, those whom God had clearly called.  Aine was loved and cared for until she drew her last breath, and though she was essentially an orphan by the world’s standards, she had not ever been alone – either spiritually, nor tangibly.  Today, I know with utmost certainty, that my sweet sister, Aine, who loved to dance and hike, is dancing and moving freely on streets of gold – surrounded and held.

Stay not silent,Speak of Whats Seen

the blessings, do share;

for they build up,

reminders HE cares.

Let others know,

how He’s been right there;

they too can trust,

in Christ’s tender care.

Speak of His good,

tell of His great grace;

make known His peace,

accept and embrace.

As we reach out,

give ourselves away;

we’re living words,

our actions do say.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your great faithfulness, even in what seems to be such a space of struggle.  Thank You that above all things, You are good.  Help us to speak about what we have seen and heard of Your faithfulness; for You are worthy of all of our praise.  Forgive us for fixing our eyes on the struggles, rather than on the remarkable provisions You grant in the midst of them.  Teach us to hold fast to our hope in You, and lead us to live in such a way, that our very lives speak of Your goodness and grace.  May we live in love, so that others too, may come into a lasting relationship with You.  Be glorified in both the struggle and the standing strong.  Amen.

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

“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” – Job 8:21 NIV

Healed Hands Reach Out

Healing happens regularly, we just have to be ready to recognize it as such, when it does.  Sometimes it is through a Divine touch, and other times, it is through the miracle of modern medicine.  Either way, God orchestrates each occurrence, so to Him, we ought to give our eternal gratitude.

Beyond thanksgiving, what are we meant to do, when healing happens?  Through this morning’s study of scripture, the following verses really captured my attention: “Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon.  Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her.  So He bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her.  She got up at once and began to wait on them.” – (Luke 4:38-39)

What stands out as so significant, is that not only was she healed, but she embraced her healing and immediately set herself to serve.  Her own expression of gratitude and love for God and for others, was being expressed through the work of her hands – the hands that had only moments before, been too frail with fever to do anything.

When I think of the examples set before me in my own life, I have no excuse but to embrace healing by the hand, and lay hold of life to the fullest.  My dear friend Anne, who went on to be with the Lord in September, had numerous incidents of healing happen along her long and arduous journey with very invasive cancer.  On death’s door more than once between last winter and all summer long; each time she was spared, released from the hospital, and found back in church the next Sunday, serving in the bookstore, and encouraging others.

When healing happens,Healed Hands Reach Out

what will our hearts do?

Will we keep quiet,

joy hidden from view?

If our healing comes,

a purpose must be;

intended for us,

so others too, see.

What better to show,

His love and His grace;

than our own story,

hope that we embrace?

Whatever is healed,

may we freely show;

share hope with others,

so they too, shall know.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Healer.  Thank You that You heal through various avenues, and we cannot expect You to work in just one way.  Thank You for the gift of wisdom that You have granted in modern medicine, and thank You that You use people as Your hands and voice to touch hearts and hurts of one another on Your behalf.  Thank You that You take our tests and turn them into testimonies of Your love and faithfulness.  Forgive us for our fear in the fight, and grant us strength and fortitude to trust You and move forward in faith.  May we each embrace the healing You have done in our hearts and lives, and may we use our own stories to share of Your great love with those around us.  May many come to know You, personally.  Be exalted in all that we do.  Amen.

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

(For an amazing story of God’s healing power, go to charispsallo.wordpress.com)

Treasures to Hold

Just over three months ago, a very dear friend of mine breathed her last breath.  She had fought long and hard, a battle that would have caused many to quit, yet never in the nine years of the invasion of that devastating disease, did Anne even once, allow cancer to define her.  She knew with all certainty that she was above all, a child of God.  Her faith in our Heavenly Father did not waiver, regardless of what the doctors had told her.

Her perseverance and unwavering faith, are two of the things that I most admired about Anne.  So often, she would extend encouragement to those who were providing her medical care.  Laughter and light-hearted banter were common during many of her appointments.  The verse that brought her great comfort in her final days was 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” For she had indeed fought and finished in firm faith.

A dear friend asked me how I might remember Anne this Christmas.  I was a bit taken aback, as avoidance has been my coping mechanism of choice.  However, it is nearly impossible to navigate this season without reminders of my dear friend, as we have had many outings in this most blessed of seasons gone by.  As we spoke, I realized that perhaps part of me had avoided actual shopping in stores for gifts this year, as that is something that Anne and I have done together many times over the past few years.

I do not yet know if I am meant to do anything in particular to remember Anne, but I do know that I am to embrace her memory – the gift of friendship that I was given in her – and to be grateful for the example she set in perseverance and faith, and for the assurance that I have, knowing that she fought the good fight and is home, where I will one day see her again.

My heart will now hold,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

memories so dear;

treasures of friendship,

hope that is secure.

The faithful fighter,

no more needs to fight;

now in heaven’s hold,

our Savior’s delight.

I will remember,

the blessings I’ve known;

modeled endurance,

such steadfast faith shown.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

for Your gifts of grace;

may we be steadfast,

secure in our faith.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gifts that You give us in friends.  Thank You for the blessings that they bring, be it for a season or for a lifetime.  Thank You for the lessons that we learn from one another, when we are securely rooted in You.  Forgive us for not facing painful or sorrowful things, and help us to embrace each of the experiences that You bring, trusting that You have a purpose and a plan to use each experience for our ultimate good.  Teach us to persevere when things are difficult, and to have a faith that is unwavering, even when all seems to be shaking around us.  May our confidence and security in You, be a living testimony to all who are around us.  May many come to call You King this Christmas.  Be our hope and our help, Lord God.  Amen.

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

Our Hope for Healing

Royal official,Our Hope for Healing

with son, deathly ill;

heard Christ had returned,

Source of healing’s fill.

To Jesus he went,

and begged Him to come;

to ward off sure death,

from his sickly son.

He questioned the one,

who asked for His touch;

faith unwavering,

royal needed much.

Jesus said to go,

that his son would live;

believing His word,

through faith Christ did give.

While on the way home,

met by his own men;

with word son was healed,

when Christ had spoken.

By faith let’s embrace,

this truth to behold;

for in Him alone,

may healing unfold.

(Responding to John 4:46-53)

After receiving news yesterday that my dear friend, Anne, is being offered additional care because her cancer is taking its toll, I found myself feeling a bit shell-shocked.  For as long as I have known her, she has been fighting.  Her battle began in 2004 with breast cancer.  In 2008, they found cancer in her bones.  This past year, just after Christmas, multiple tumors were found in her brain.  Radiation was successful at shrinking the brain tumors, yet elsewhere in her body, the cancer has not stayed at bay.  I tell you this so that you too, might consider joining me in prayer for Anne. (to read more about Anne’s fight, click the following: A Call to Prayer, and Temple of Trust.)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Healer, and that nothing is impossible for You.  Thank You that today’s reading happened to be a portion of scripture that tells of the miraculous that You have done.  In faith, we are asking for the miraculous in Anne, and in many others who are also fighting this horrific disease.  May Your presence and Your peace surround and embrace all those in the fight while they wait in faith for Your healing to come.  May the miracle You do in Anne, be a powerful testimony to those who do not yet know You.  Amen.

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