Measured By Our Maker

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – (1 John 4:18, NIV)

Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love takes away fear. It is His punishment that makes a person fear. So His love is not made perfect in the one who has fear. – (1 John 4:18, ERV)

There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love. – (1 John 4:18, MSG)

 

I’m not sure why my heart held onto this particular verse this morning as I read through today’s passages, but for whatever reason, it did. Perhaps it is to remind my own heart that above all, I am loved perfectly by God. I am not particularly fearful, yet when I feel overloaded by life, there are things that make me feel anxious, which is really a form of fear. In my case, it is one of “not enough”.  As an educator, mom, wife, daughter, sister, coach, friend, and more, it is easy to place pressure on myself to “measure up” to a certain standard, as there are goals I desire to accomplish, hopes I hold, and dreams that I am pursuing. That being said, I have to remember that we are all on a journey and life is a process. God, in His perfect love, walks beside us, strengthens us, encourages us, and equips us for each next step. The only standard we need worry about “measuring up” to, is His. Just like a loving parent, the Lord asks for obedience, and our best; not perfection. There is no fear in a child who knows that they have done their best to do as their parent has asked of them; it is no different with God. We are loved perfectly because we are His. We are enough because He created us in His image. We need not fear, because His love is for us, and He is far greater than anything that could ever come against us. May we ever rest in God’s perfect love as we press on in all that He has called us to be and do, for in all things, His strength and grace will see us through.

 

No need be afraid, Measured By Our Maker

When doubt dares come near;

For God’s perfect love,

Casts away all fear.

There’s no punishment,

In faithful pursuit;

Instead there is grace,

That none can dispute.

In all things, always,

Seek God and His love;

He’s love perfected,

Strength to rise above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is no fear in love. Thank You that Your love drives fear away, and grants us the strength and resolve to press on and rise up into all that You are calling us to become. Forgive us for our fear, worry and anxiousness about measuring up to the world’s standards, rather than giving our best unto You. Teach us to give all to You in everything we do, so that our trust is in You alone. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends grace, strength, resolve and encouragement where they are needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your perfect love and fix our eyes on how You view us, rather than any other standard set in our sight line. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12

Patient Endurance

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – (James 1:4, NIV)

If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be. – (James 1:4, ERV)

And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line – mature, complete, and wanting nothing. – (James 1:4, VOICE)

 

Both running a long road race and being an educator during a year when Thanksgiving falls a week later than usual, are ways to remind us how true patience brought on by endurance equips us to complete the long journey to cross the finish line. For one, it is an actual finish line, for the other, it is arriving at the first much anticipated break of the school year, and the opportunity to at long last, catch up with family. When we seek and depend on God in the process, He supplies all that we need to complete each leg of our race. Sometimes, it is the fortitude to get from one water station to the next, or one week to the next; either way, He is present when we seek Him. May we allow true patience to work in us, as we persevere, allowing God to grow and stretch us into all that He wants us to be; mature, complete and lacking nothing.

As for mom, this is the week that out-patient therapies begin! Though there is anticipation about the details, mom is eager to get going, and as always, is ready to work tirelessly toward the goal of regaining what was lost. She continues to be upbeat and positive, ever-patient as she perseveres onward toward the prize. My sister and her family are doing a fabulous job of getting mom out and challenging her to try new things. It is a joy to hear about each new step she is taking, and I am beyond grateful for my sister, brother-in-love and nephews, as they continue to love mom well.

 

Choose perseverance, img_2019-11-19_04-16-203117290028297450777.jpg

For as we endure;

Christ will empower,

Set our feet secure.

Keep moving forward,

The direction called;

Along the journey,

His grace is installed.

As we choose press on,

Maturity grows;

We lack for nothing,

And His goodness shows.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us and equip us to persevere for all of our days. Thank You that through the difficulties, You refine and define our character to more clearly reflect Yours. Thank You that You grant us Your strength and grace as we run our race, and that we each have our own pace to take. Forgive us for allowing our hearts to compare our journey to another, or our pace to someone else’s. Thank You that You created each of us uniquely with a plan and a purpose. Teach us to keep our eyes on You and what You are calling us to do. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may grow and be encouraged as they run their own race. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow patience to work in us, as we persevere with endurance, each leg of this journey that we are called to run. Amen.

 

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

 

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. – Romans 15:5

Trust for Perfect Peace

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. – (Isaiah 26:3, NIV)

God, You give true peace to people who depend on You, to those who trust in You. – (Isaiah 26:3, ERV)

You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You. – (Isaiah 26:3, VOICE)

 

Trust is a tricky thing, yet peace is well worth the price. It requires an ongoing leap of faith to trust God, even when we cannot see a solution nor an end in a stormy season; however, when we lean into the Lord and place our trust in His hands, there is peace that comes, even in the midst of the storm. God is good, and He is the perfect peace for those who depend on and trust in Him. Such peace translates in every aspect of our lives that we choose to trust – both personally and professionally. As an educator, peace is needed daily to navigate the ever-changing challenges that arise in my city, school and classroom. Personally, I have to trust also, to know peace in this season of parenting young men into adulthood. With twins who are about to begin their senior year, and a bonus son who just turned nineteen, wisdom, guidance and peace are required as I choose to trust in the Lord. Though there are moments where my trust waivers, God is faithful and His peace wraps itself around my heart and mind. May we ever choose to place our trust in God, for He is the One who provides our hearts with His perfect peace.

 

Choose trust in the Lord, img_2019-08-27_04-25-214429094360914476009.jpg

And His perfect peace;

Our hearts in His hands,

Bring Love’s sweet release.

No matter what comes,

The Lord will be near;

As we choose to trust,

He helps fend off fear.

Far greater is He,

That dwells within us;

Than storms and trials,

Our Savior, Jesus.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we choose to trust in You, You are our perfect peace. Thank You that whether in storms or in calm, You provide peace to those who trust in You. Forgive us for our faltering faith when we cannot see solutions or the shore. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our anchor and our safe harbor, no matter what comes our way. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides peace and safety, trust and kindness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithfulness and Your goodness that provides our hearts and minds with Your perfect peace. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

Trust in the Battle

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – (Exodus 14:14, NIV)

“You will not have to do anything but stay calm. The Lord will do the fighting for you.” – (Exodus 14:14, ERV)

“God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut! “- (Exodus 14:14, MSG)

 

Some days, as an educator, I have to make difficult decisions that include referrals for kids who make poor choices. Yesterday, I had a student behave in a way that I had not witnessed prior, yet it was something that could not be neglected. After reporting the issue to one in charge of discipline, I was strongly encouraged to call the young man’s parent to inform them about what had taken place. In the moment, it didn’t settle well, but I went ahead and did as I was asked. To my surprise, the parent of the student was fiercely defensive of her son, and went so far as to accuse me of “picking on her son.” I tried to let her know that it was an obligation on my part to write a referral, but there would be an opportunity for discussion so that the young man could explain what had transpired. Surprisingly, her anger would not subside, and ultimately, she hung up. For a time, I was rattled. My character had been called into question for reporting what I had witnessed. It took some time and a bit of debriefing with my husband, before I could truly settle in and trust that I had done what was right. This morning, this is exactly the reminder that I needed. When battles rise before me, I can only do my part and then have to trust what remains, in His hands. He will show me what to say and when to be silent. God is faithful, no matter what we see or hear, and He will never leave us nor forsake us. May we place our battles in His hands, and be silent until He grants us words to speak. For He is good, and His love endures forever.

 

There is no battle, trust in the battle

Too great or too small;

In His mighty hands,

He’ll help us with all.

Sometimes our fighting,

Is found in “be still”;

To wait in silence,

Let God work His will.

No matter what comes,

The Lord’s word is true;

He’ll love as we wait,

Choose trust what He’ll do.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the reminder of Your faithfulness when we are uncertain of the battles before us. Thank You that we are to place all in Your hands, and allow You to lead us and guide us, trusting that You have our very best in mind. Forgive us for feeling that we must always fight, when sometimes, we are meant to wait, be still, and witness what You are going to do. Show us how to love those around us in the midst of the battle, granting strength and hope and peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our difficulties in Your helping hands, and choose trust You to be Lord of all. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. – Psalm 28:7

Weighing Words

Fools believe every word they hear, but wise people think carefully about everything. – (Proverbs 14:15, ERV)

The gullible believe anything they are told, but clever people know to question every step. – (Proverbs 14:15, VOICE)

Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps. – (Proverbs 14:15, NLT)

 

As an educator, I have had to teach middle schoolers to question their sources of information for years. With access to so much at their fingertips, it is imperative that they learn to identify what sort of source is credible, and that which is not. The same holds true in our own lives. What we once trusted as reliable, now has the capacity to be called into question. However, there is one Source that has not, does not, and will not change. No matter what is going on in the world around is, our anchor of truth is found in Christ. When we place our trust and hope in Him, He grants us clarity and wisdom that weighs what is going on in the world, next to the truth of His word. May we listen cautiously to what is being spoken, and carefully consider each step, based on the truth of God’s word, and the voice of His Spirit to our hearts.

 

Do not lack wisdom,Constructive Permission

Nor choose play the fool;

Instead, opt listen,

Weigh against God’s rule.

The wisest choose think,

On everything;

Questioning each step,

Seek God on all things.

Don’t believe all words,

Spoken that we hear;

Consider what’s said,

And to God, draw near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us warning to not believe every word we hear, but rather to weigh what is spoken carefully. Thank You that we are not left to our own devices to simply figure it out, but rather You are beside us, willing to speak truth to our hearts and help us to know the truth. Forgive us for not weighing words that are spoken, or for being quick to believe whatever we hear. Teach us to trust and rely on You first, rather than whatever source of information spews stories our direction. Show us how to filter everything through Your lens. Help us to love others as You so completely and lavishly love each of us. Be glorified O God, as we weigh the words spoken into our lives, and likewise choose our own words well. Amen.

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

I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

To Know and To Trust

Followers of the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is your strength and shield. – (Psalm 115:11, ERV)

All who fear and know the Eternal, put your trust in Him. He is their helper and defender. – (Psalm 115:11, VOICE)

 

This is a great reminder this morning, as God’s help and strength, shield and defense can be far more than physical. For me, as an educator, this is the time of year that I need it most for my heart. For whatever reason, I am feeling it far more this year than ever before. The strength and shield needed are for my heart and mind. There are the few cherubs throughout the day that try my patience and exhaust my resolve. By the end of the day yesterday, I would have tapped out for the week, if it had been an option. That being said, it is not, and today is a new day. I must choose to trust in the Lord to be my strength and my shield, as He will be my help and my defense when troubled teens try my last nerve. My prayer will be to have eyes anew; to see each child through His view. There is always a reason for acting out, and my prayer is for His insight beyond what my eyes can merely observe. May we ever trust in the Lord and His strength, as He is our help and our defense.

 

All who know the Lord,Who Wants to Fight

Choose to trust in Him;

For He is our help,

Our shield from within.

He will be our strength,

When ours is but gone;

And grant us His hope,

To keep keeping on.

Followers of Christ,

Rise up, trust the Lord;

He’s our help and shield,

When we’re less, He’s more.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can place all of our trust in You. Thank You that You are our strength and our shield. Thank You that You are our helper and defender in our time of need, regardless of our circumstance. Thank You that You care about the seemingly small things too. Forgive us for thinking that we have to “gut” things out or somehow “manage” on our own. Teach us to trust in You to be our help and our defense. Show us how to love those around us in a way that gives hope and help when they feel as if they have none. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to be our help and our hope; always. Amen.

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

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

Come to Rest

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, NLT)

“Come to Me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, CEB)

 

Though the holiday season is busy, as an educator I am blessed with a break that is long enough to actually slow down, set aside the weight of what wears me out, and really rest. There is time to catch up on the little things that need doing around the house, and I am able to sleep longer hours than I ordinarily do. These are the sort of things that lighten the load when the time comes to return to school again, as I will go back rested with less on the list that seems to hang over my head. The incredible thing about the promise in these words spoken by Jesus, is that a vacation is not required to go to Him and hand over our burdens and allow Him to grant us rest. He willingly and lovingly will help handle the load that we are bearing, and provide opportunity for us to find rest in Him. In Him, our strength is renewed and our load is lightened, even in the busiest of times. May we look to the Lord who is our strength, and take our burdens before Him, trusting that He is the One who will grant us the rest that we need.

 

Ever He calls us,IMG_0439

The weary and worn;

To come close to Him,

With strength, He’ll adorn.

He will grant us rest,

From the weight we bear;

No more to struggle,

The burden, He’ll share.

Come all you weary,

For Jesus is best;

His arms are open,

In love, He’ll grant rest.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to come to You when we are weary and worn from bearing heavy burdens, and You give us rest. Thank You that Your shoulders are far stronger than ours, and that no burden is too heavy for You to bear. Forgive us for attempting to carry the weight of the world on our own shoulders, rather than seeking and trusting You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring our burdens before You, asking You for help and hope and strength, so that we would only carry that which we are called to carry, and set aside that which we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that lightens loads and shines hope in dark places. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You with our heavy burdens, and receive the rest that You have for us. 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

Be the Hope

The twentieth-century American educator and author Loren Eiseley wrote a short piece titled “The Starfish Story” or “The Starfish Thrower,” which has been told and retold in many versions through the years. In this classic tale, we learn a simple lesson about the difference one person can make. Here’s the gist of the story:

A man walking along an otherwise deserted beach came upon another man throwing into the sea a starfish that had been deposited on the sand by the tide. When the man asked the star thrower his purpose, the thrower explained that the starfish left untended, would be dried by the sun and eventually die. But how, wondered the first man, given that there were thousands of starfish scattered for miles along the the beach. The thrower bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the ocean with all his might. He smiled as he said, “It makes a difference for this one.” – (excerpt from Undaunted, Christine Caine)

 

When we look at the world around us, it is easy to see that there are a multitude of starfish lying on the sand, desperate for someone to come along and extend a hand. At first glance, it may seem too overwhelming to even know where to begin, when there is so much need that surrounds us. We can either choose to turn and walk away, or we can walk toward the need, and pick up one starfish at a time. It may not seem like much in the moment, yet to that one starfish, it is a chance to live.

 

Paul was an ongoing example of a starfish thrower, as he extended hope to all whom he encountered. His circumstances mattered not, for he chose to speak truth and shine the light of Christ wherever his journey took him. When Paul was summoned to appear before King Agrippa, he worried not about his own safety, but rather about sharing the truth that would bring freedom and salvation to all who might hear. Clearly Paul had captured Agrippa’s attention.

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

Paul replied, “Short time or long – I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.” – (Acts 26:28-29)

May we rise up and be the change that sees not the multitude and becomes overwhelmed, but rather that we look to each need, individually, and do what we can to offer hope where hope is not.

 

Scattered on the sand,Be the Hope

a vast sea of need;

what am I to do,

to rescue, to feed?

We’re not called to meet,

every need seen;

but to offer hope,

step in, intervene.

Often so simple,

a word or a touch;

an acknowledgement,

can matter so much.

Oh Lord I’m ready,

to offer Your hope;

may Your love and light,

be the safety rope.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have given us so many examples of “Starfish Throwers” throughout both Your word and history. Thank You that though the need in our world is great, one life touched at a time, can make all the difference. Thank You that You can use us, individually, to offer hope to a hurting world. Forgive us for seeing the need and turning a blind eye because we are overwhelmed or think that we cannot make a difference. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may rise up and take each next step of obedience that touches lives as You ask of us. Lead us to love others well, just as You so completely love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth to be the hope, one life at a time. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

Seek Not Approval of Men

One of my least favorite parts of being an educator is the process of being observed and evaluated. I know the intent is good, and it is a way to identify strengths and areas to improve, yet, for me, as one who desires to please, and do things well, it is a painful process, regardless of the kindness of the observer. My own microscope of my craft is far more critical than that by which anyone else may utilize. Each day, my responsibility to God, not men, is to do my best for the kids in my care. This morning, I will be observed as I teach. As I was reading my devotions, the following passage may as well have been the only passage on the page, as it served as a neon sign, reminding me of what matters most. Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. – (Galatians 1:10)

 

Though these words were Paul’s to the Galatians in regards to works verses grace, they serve as an excellent reminder for me this morning. It takes courage to remember that my priority is to please God, not men. If I am serving and honoring God by doing the job that He has called me to do to the best of my ability, then that will be enough. It is not about me, but rather Christ in me, that will be evident anyway. May we each go forth this day in courage, allowing His light to shine brightly before all men, seeking God’s approval, not man’s.

 

Seek not approval,Seek Not the Approval of Men

from our fellow man;

but rather seek God,

to do what we can.

Look to honor Christ,

in all that we do;

give glory to God,

and point to the truth.

Let our hearts be set,

on pleasing the Lord;

not allowing truth,

set aside, ignored.

May we all rise up,

as servants of God;

remaining steadfast,

inspired and awed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not seek the approval of men, but rather we need only seek to serve You. Thank You that Your grace is enough. Thank You that as we come to You and trust in You, You meet us where we are and do the miraculous through our willing hearts. Forgive us for trying to please men, and help us to fix our eyes on You alone. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may do all things as unto You. May many see our heart for You as light and life and love that they have not known before. Let many be led unto You as we seek to honor You in all that we do. Be glorified, O God, as we serve You with our lives. Amen.

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

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5

Taking Courage in Trials

As I continue to make my way through the book of Acts, an underlying theme that continues to come forth from the pages, is the ongoing assurance that Christ is present with us, no matter what comes our way. As Paul faced angry crowds, accusations, assault and murderous plots, the Lord provided protection and His very presence. God did not take away the difficult road ahead of him, but He assured Paul that He would be with him, always. The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” – (Acts 23:11) Though Paul seemed to have an insatiable faith, imagine how empowered he must have felt after the Lord actually came and stood near?

 

The very same God that stood beside Paul, resides in the hearts of all who believe. When we are in the midst of difficulty, or are called to go into the face of adversity, He will go before us, be with us, and grant us what is needed to make an impact for Him. As an educator, I cannot help but think of the monumental task that is before the community only ninety miles north of my home. Yet another school, shattered by the brokenness of one child’s permanent solution to a temporary problem. May His courage and grace be poured out upon all whom He sends to bring healing, where devastation has been dealt.

 

When facing giants,Taking Courage in Trials

mountains we must climb;

His nearness constant,

for now and all times.

Our courage is found,

in Christ, the true King;

He supplies power,

and all needed things.

In trial, in loss,

in wholeness, in grace;

circumstances don’t,

determine His place.

For God is on high,

He’s still on His throne;

no matter what comes,

Love will be made known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us, no matter what comes. Thank You that You go before us, remain with us, and that You supply what we need to see us through, even in the darkest of situations. Forgive us for losing sight of Your Light within us, and help us to shine brightly before others, even on the darkest of days. May we offer Your hope to the hurting and Your love to the lost, just as You have so generously done unto us. Father, please be present in the Marysville-Pilchuck community. Help every person impacted by the tragedy to find comfort in You. Equip and empower those You are sending to be Your hands and heart to the hurting in that community. Let beauty come from these ashes, we pray. Be glorified, O God, as we seek to stand firm in the gift of Your presence. Amen.

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

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25