Joy Unconstrained

So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. – (Luke 2:16-20, NIV) 

So, they went running and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the feeding box. When they saw the baby, they told what the angels said about this child. Everyone was surprised when they heard what the shepherds told them. Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. The shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking Him for everything they had seen and heard. It was just as the angel had told them. – (Luke 2:16-20, ERV) 

 

After having been visited first by a messenger of God, then bearing witness to an army of heavenly hosts singing praise for the birth of Christ, which the angel of the Lord had announced to them, the shepherds went running to find the One whom the heavens had proclaimed. When they found Jesus lying in a manger, just as the angel had foretold, they were amazed and in awe at how what had been spoken was right there, before their very eyes. Their response was that which it ought to be, as when we receive such incredible news and then observe it coming to pass, we cannot help but share with others, the good that has come. I can only imagine these shepherds leaving the stable and telling anyone and everyone who would listen, the joy of what they had witnessed. The shepherds were likely the sort that kept to themselves, as sheep tending was not the most glamorous of positions. For these men to be so impacted by what they had seen and heard that they ignored their typical itinerary and spoke out, left the hearers surprised and in awe. Meanwhile, Mary took in everything that was spoken and all that she bore witness to, and treasured them in her heart. This young woman had much to take in and ponder, as she had been visited by an angel, spared the shame and potential death for her condition, traveled more than 80 miles to Bethlehem, given birth in a stable, and now was being seen by shepherds who had been visited by the heavenly hosts to tell of this sweet Savior’s birth. All of these things unfolded just as they had been foretold, and the shepherds returned to their fields, forever changed. Songs of praise flowed from them, for they understood the magnitude of the miracle that was lying in a manger. May we remember in awe and wonder, all that took place that night. For unto us, a Savior was born. The Light of the world had come. 

 

Most holy of nights, A Christmas Prayer

The angels proclaimed; 

A Savior is born, 

Such joy unconstrained. 

Shepherds went running, 

To see with their eyes; 

This glorious news, 

In a manger, lies. 

Imagine their joy, 

The blessing to see; 

Just as they’d been told, 

Christ born unto thee. 

Their hearts were bursting, 

At what they had found; 

This scene they beheld, 

The promise was sound. 

Mary, she treasured, 

All that came to be; 

Her precious infant, 

Was Christ, most holy. 

May we too, ponder, 

In wonder and awe; 

Precious unfolding, 

Of all that they saw. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what You say, You will do. Thank You for the incredible way in which Jesus came into the world. Thank You that You sent Your heavenly hosts to ordinary people in an extraordinary way. Thank You that because Jesus came as a baby, He lived and knew, experienced and grew, in the same way that each of us do as we navigate in our own lives. Forgive us for not recognizing in awe and wonder, the incredible way in which You sent heaven to earth, so we could experience rebirth. Teach us to trust in Your promises and to stand in awe as we witness them come to pass. Show us how to love those around us in ways that show of Your faithfulness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate Your arrival and behold Your promises that have come to pass. Amen. 

 

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

 

With all my heart I will praise You, O Lord my God. I will give glory to Your Name forever. – Psalm 86:12

 

Understanding Leads to Gratitude

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His Name.” – (Luke 1:46-47,49, NIV) 

Mary said, “With all my heart I glorify the Lord! In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my Savior, because the Mighty One has done great things for me. Holy is His Name.” – (Luke 1:46-47, 49, CEB) 

And Mary sang this song: “My soul is ecstatic, overflowing with praises to God! My spirit bursts with joy over my life-giving God! The Mighty One has worked a mighty miracle for me; holy is His Name. – (Luke 1:46-47, 49, TPT) 

 

As I continue to read through and take in the story of Jesus’ arrival, I am moved by the willingness and awareness that Mary had, as the miracle of Christ was coming into existence through her humility and faith. She stands in continuous awe at the wonder unfolding in her life, and gives God praise for who He is and what He is doing. “Her humble perspective forms the basis of her gratitude. The exemplary character of Mary grows out of her understanding of God’s character.” – (The IVP New Testament Commentary) Mary’s example demonstrates how we ought to view both ourselves and our Mighty God. She recognized that though God owed her nothing, He had chosen her. Consequently, Mary knew that God ought to have all – her heart, soul, mind and strength, because He is the One who is holy and deserving of all praise. May we also recognize the holiness of God, the great things that He has done, and as a result, offer all of our praise. 

 

Let all that I am,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Offer the Lord praise; 

For who our God is, 

And all of His ways. 

My heart cannot help, 

But give thanks to Him; 

For all He has done, 

Brought light where life’s dim. 

May my very soul, 

All that’s within me; 

Honor God always, 

As His love sets free. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Mighty God who does wonderful things and the One alone who deserves all of our gratitude. Forgive us for not recognizing and honoring You for who You are and all that You do. Teach us how to recognize the everyday wonder that You place in our path and the people whom You provide as blessings in our lives. Show us how to love those around us in a way that reflects our gratitude and awe at who You are and how You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You with all that we are for who You are and all that You do. Amen.

 

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

 

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. – Colossians 3:16

Love is Truth in Action

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. – (1 John 3:18, NLT) 

My children, our love should not be only words and talk. No, our love must be real. We must show our love by the things we do. – (1 John 3:18, ERV) 

My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love. – (1 John 3:18, VOICE) 

 

Love is so much more than words. Though words can build up and encourage, the tangible evidence of love in action tends to last far longer than something that is simply spoken. Despite the tremendous value I hold in both spoken and written words, I find myself overwhelmingly assured of the truth of love spoken when everyday actions align. It is in the small and simple faithful gestures done in love, that truth is demonstrated over time. We can say whatever we wish, but if our actions do not align, the words are meaningless. However, when we choose love, again and again, through the things that we say and do, the recipients of our words and deeds cannot help but begin to believe the truth that they are loved. May we reach out and love others with the things that we do, just as God so graciously and generously loves each of us, so that all may know that love is not just an idea, but rather a reality intended for us all. 

 

May the Lord’s great love,

img_2018-12-04_04-50-223530978993609554246.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Lead all that we do; 

So that our actions, 

Display loving truth. 

Though our words matter, 

Our deeds speak much more; 

For our follow through, 

Shows love’s open door. 

Let us choose to act, 

In word and in deed; 

Do all things with love, 

So God’s love’s received. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to a life of love – not just with our words, but with everything that we do. Thank You that You have shown us what it is to live a life of love through Your Son. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen to do anything that was less than loving. Teach us to trust You more, so that our words and deeds would be an extension of Your heart and hands to those around us. Show us how to love those around us with our very lives, making Your love tangible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on Your love and grace to love others with our every word and deed. Amen.

 

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

 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. – John 15:12

Thinking of Thanks

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. – (Philippians 1:3, NLT)

I thank God every time I remember you. – (Philippians 1:3, ERV)

Whenever you cross my mind, I thank my God for you and for the gift of knowing you. – (Philippians 1:3, VOICE)

 

This has been a summer overflowing with connections to those dear to me. Near and far, friends and family have celebrated with me, as I have stepped into this beautiful new season of married life. Every message, conversation, card or phone call has brought a flood of memories of the blessing that each have been in my life. The overwhelming theme of this summer is gratitude, as I cannot help but stand in awe of the blessings He has poured out upon us, especially through the gift of people He has placed in our lives. My heart is full, and I am ever giving God thanks for the gift of knowing those whom He has brought into every avenue of my life. May we ever give praise to our Provider for the people whom He places on our path.

 

All thanks be to God, wp-15346046481951630469001601204563.jpg

For the treasure found;

In knowing such love,

Where friendships abound.

For each is a gift,

From God up above;

Granted to us all,

By His lavish love.

Each time I recall,

The treasure of you;

I thank God again,

For His blessings true.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are created for relationships. Thank You for the gift of people that You place in our lives. Thank You that You bring people from all walks of life into our world to show us more of Your heart. Forgive us for not giving You glory for all of the good You bring to us through the people You place on our path. Teach us to recognize the gift of those around us, daily, so that we would celebrate them and glorify You. Show us how to love in a way that demonstrates our gratitude for the gift that people are in our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You gratitude for the gift of great people whom You have placed in our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His Name. – Psalm 100:4

Ever Sing Praise

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – (Psalm 13:6, NIV)

I will sing to the Lord because He has blessed me so richly. – (Psalm 13:6, TLB)

I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers. – (Psalm 13:6, MSG)

 

After an amazing day of being celebrated well, I cannot help but overflow with gratitude to God for surrounding me with people who love me as He does. He makes His heart known to me in ways that bless my heart. I am loved as I had always hoped to be loved, and now am six days away from marrying the man whom my heart loves, who gently and fiercely loves me too. God’s timing is perfect, even when we are unaware. I can look back and give thanks for the difficulties that I was carried through, as they have shaped who I have become in Him and make me appreciate the good that has followed all the more. May we ever sing praise to the Lord, for He is good to all who seek Him.

 

Each day my heart sings, wp-15316631004892234831728557638132.jpg

With thanks to the Lord;

For how He blesses,

All grace He affords.

The Lord has been good,

Throughout all my days;

He lifts me with love,

As I seek His face.

Through trial and good,

The Lord’s ever near;

To bless us with joy,

And calm all our fears.

Let grateful hearts sing,

For all of our days;

As goodness and grace,

Are God’s loving ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your heart for all of creation. Thank You that You are so good to us. Forgive us for not offering proper praise for Your goodness, grace and generous loving ways. Teach us to praise You daily, for You alone are worthy of all of our gratitude. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them recognize the good that we have been given through Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing Your praise for all of our days. Amen.

 

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

 

I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. – Psalm 146:2

 

 

Our Saving Help

But may all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; may those who long for Your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!” – (Psalm 70:4, NIV) 

But let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You, and let those who love Your saving help say again and again: “God is great!” – (Psalm 70:4, CEB) 

Let all those on the hunt for You sing and celebrate. Let all who love Your saving way say over and over, “God is mighty!” – (Psalm 70:4, MSG) 

 

God is our help and our hope, and we have reason to rejoice and be glad regardless of our circumstances because He is always good. It is the great love of the Lord that saves us, as He holds us in the hollow of His hands. The more we seek God, the more we come to know Him, and cannot help but rejoice and be glad for the salvation that He brings. May we ever seek the Lord and rejoice in Him, for He is mighty to save and loves us throughout all of our days. 

 

May each heart that seeks, Love Made Known

Rejoice and be glad; 

For our saving help, 

Is no passing fad. 

Our God is mighty, 

We’re held in His hands; 

As we seek, we find, 

He shows us His plans. 

God saves and He leads, 

As we seek His face; 

He’s faithful to help, 

For He grants us grace. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to hear and help us as we seek You. Thank You that we have reason to rejoice and be glad, for You are mighty to save as You love. Forgive us for not seeking You in our spaces of need, or for not rejoicing in who You are and how You love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remember that You hold us in Your hands and that You are greater than anything that we face. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers strength and hope and light where there is need. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You with gladness and give You praise for Your saving ways that You extend to each of us who seek You. Amen. 

 

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

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

Rejoice in the Rain

Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain He sends demonstrates His faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come… – (Joel 2:23, NLT)

Be joyful in the Lord your God. He is good and will give you rain. He will send the early rains and the late rains as before. – (Joel 2:23, ERV)

…Shout with joy and happiness in the Eternal, your God; the drought is over; He has sent the early autumn rain as a sign of His faithfulness… – (Joel 2:23, VOICE)

 

It is always a bit bittersweet when the first rains of fall arrive. We have had a long and lovely summer, and I am an outdoor enthusiast. Because the Pacific Northwest is notorious for wet and rainy weather, I cannot help but feel a tug of loss when the rain arrives, as I know that the sweet summer days have come to a close. This verse in Joel is a great reminder for me to celebrate the rain with gratitude, as it has also been a terrible fire season for much of the region. The rain has already helped clear the air of the smoke that hung heavy, and I imagine it will provide much needed aid in ending the fires that have been raging across our corner of the country. In every season there is reason to rejoice in the faithfulness of God, and autumn rains and their cleansing nature are certainly one of them. May we rise up with joy and give thanks to God, for He is faithful in every season, and the autumn rains are another reminder of how He demonstrates His faithfulness to us.

 

Rejoice in the rain, No Matter What Comes

That God sends our way;

With joy, give Him thanks,

For each brand-new day.

The Lord’s faithfulness,

Comes in autumn rain;

It washes things clean,

Makes all new again.

And where there’s been drought,

He brings to an end;

As the Lord in love,

His rain He does send.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness in each new season. Thank You for the autumn rains that bring refreshing, cleansing and water that is much needed for so many. Forgive us for our lack of gratitude for Your provision. Teach us to see new seasons through Your eyes, so that we would recognize the blessing and faithfulness that You are bestowing upon us. Show us how to love those around us in a way that showers them with blessings to end the drought in their thirsty hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in Your faithful provision of the autumn rains, and recognize the refreshment and healing that they provide. Amen.

 

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

 

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

Bestowing the Best of News

What is the best news you have heard in recent months? For me, a recurring theme is new lives are on the way. I have several friends who are expecting. The anticipation and preparation paired with dear ones readying their hearts and homes to welcome new tiny wonders, is some of my favorite sort of news.

 

The great news of hope in Christ, should carry even more enthusiasm. Not only does coming into a relationship with Him bring new life, but it is a life that is everlasting in Christ’s presence! Jesus takes our brokenness and sinfulness, and heals and restores so that we are whole and considered righteous before Him. Christ’s love is so transformational, it should be a struggle to stay silent about all the wonders He has done. Just as Peter and John replied to the Sanhedrin when ordered to stop speaking and teaching about Christ, so too should our response be the same. “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” – (Acts 4:20) May we go forth in wonder, sharing of all that He has done.

 

The great news of Christ,

My own tiny blessings a few years ago... <3

My own tiny blessings a few years ago… ❤

a message of hope;

He removes our stains,

and leads as we lope.

A wondrous exchange,

our sin for His grace;

His love that transforms,

bright light in dark space.

How can we not speak,

of what we have heard;

in Him we have hope,

our future, secured.

Let us all go forth,

with great joy, speak out;

point all to the Lord,

the One secure route.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the best news we have ever received. Thank You that in You, we have forgiveness, grace, love, joy, peace, hope, and so much more! Thank You that You welcome all who come with repentant hearts seeking after You. Forgive us for staying silent when Your truth needed to be told. Grant us boldness, so that we will speak of what we have seen and heard as You call us to share, and give us wisdom to know how much or how little You would have for us to say. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be still before You, listening intently for Your voice to whisper words to our heart. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they cannot help but see You in us. May many come into a saving relationship with You as we love and serve those around us. Be glorified O God, as we speak of the great news we have in You. Amen.

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

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

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