Offerings Become Art

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV)

As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always, because you know that your labor isn’t going to be for nothing in the Lord. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, CEB)

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, MSG)

 

This verse is both a challenge and an encouragement. As an individual who has felt called to teach since a very young age, it has been an interesting path to traverse over the last twenty-one years. There have been times that the obstacles and challenges seemed so impossible, that I wanted to walk away. The time, resources and self that are poured into each day, have to be for Him, or our perspective becomes distorted.  I know this is only the first week, but there is something that feels more steady and secure than it ever has before. Perhaps it is the tangible support I have at home that provides me the freedom to invest more of myself as I begin each day full, rather than depleted. Another possibility is that I am, for the first time in my career, teaching what I love most, for the majority of my day. Though I enjoy teaching the variety of subjects I have taught throughout my career thus far, I know that my excitement and enthusiasm for helping kids discover that they can create art, is not a waste of time or effort. There is something powerful to watch as students realize that they are able to do far more than they ever thought possible. May we ever stand firm and stay the course to which we are called, for nothing we do for Him is ever for naught.

 

If all that we do, 257314779340194518937431.jpeg

Is unto the Lord;

No effort wasted,

As grace is outpoured.

For God gladly takes,

What we choose to bring;

And uses for good,

All our offerings.

Whether it is time,

Resources or heart;

All done unto God,

Become lifetime art.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all that we do unto You can be used for Your glory. Thank You that as we stay the course to which we are called, we see Your faithfulness unfold in Your time. Thank You that You are always good, even when we cannot see the good before us. Forgive us for our doubts that make us question the direction we know we are meant to go. Strengthen us to stand firm and press on, trusting completely in You to bring beauty from our investment of time, energy and heart. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages them to discover or continue on the path to which they are called. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to use our every offering for good as we stay the course to which we are called. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this. – Psalm 37:5

No Sweeter Season

When my eyes fluttered gently open to the light that still remained on from last night, I felt something I haven’t felt in quite a while – rested. I realized that I had laid down for a moment, still in my workout attire, just to warm up under the weight and warmth of my blankets. Fast forward eight hours and twenty-five minutes later, and the arrival of morning had come…

Many friends have asked what I intend to do with my summer, as yesterday was the final day of the school year. (I am a teacher.) I know there are some that have well-laid plans, and schedule each day with an itinerary and to-do list. For me, I think summer is meant to be a time of rest, refreshing and healing. My body is worn, and I am still trying to heal from a fracture in my low back. Sleep deprivation has been my normal for the past nine plus months, so actually sleeping until my body wakes will be novel.

As for writing, this is part of my daily practice. I wake. I make coffee and grab something to eat, and I sit down to pray, read the word, and then reflect. This is the routine in my day, as it sets my heart and mind for wherever the Lord leads. If I am running errands, I find I have patience and kindness to extend to others, regardless of what is going on around me. When adventure awaits, energy and enthusiasm overflow, and my guys join in for the journey.

Fitness too, is a part of my daily doings. When my body is active, my mind does not get hung up on the little things of life. It gives me reason to be grateful for health and His creation, and the ability to move and be active is something that I will never take for granted.

This morning’s scheduled reading was from John 11:17-37, and tells the story of Jesus going to Mary and Martha after Lazarus had died. Everyone was glad to see Jesus, but each questioned His timing, with the statement of faith that Lazarus would not have died had Jesus arrived sooner. There was sorrow and regret that seeped out from the family and friends of Lazarus to the Lord. He was compassionate, and as He cared for them, He cried. The story does not end there. In the last few verses of this part of the passage, Jesus asks, “Where have you put him?” One question that would change their world, in a very short span of time.

The connection? We may have hopes and expectations for how things will occur in a certain season, but as we wait on the Lord, we may feel disappointment or sorrow in what we see as delay or a no way, only to be blown away by what He will ultimately do. May this summer be a season of faithful movement as we anticipate and watch for the things that the Lord will do in us and through us, and we prioritize earnest pursuit of Him.

 

I looked to the Lord,Enter With Thanksgiving

And called on His Name;

No word went unheard,

To God of all grace.

Though I have set hopes,

And dreams for this time;

In Your faithfulness,

Please, Your will, not mine.

In each new season,

May I see Your grace;

No matter what comes,

Keep running Your race.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do exceedingly more that we could hope or imagine in Your time. Thank You that Your faithfulness is not dependent on how we perceive things or how we feel. Forgive us for our lack of faith and fearfulness when things that we long for seem to have died. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remember that You see beyond today, and Your timing and plan is always best. Show us how to love others with Your goodness and grace, so that they too may long to seek Your face. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue You and Your best for us in all things. Amen.

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Give Thanks, Tell and Sing

Give thanks to the Lord and call out to Him! Tell the nations what He has done! Sing to Him; sing praises to Him. Tell about the amazing things He has done. – (Psalm 105:1-2, ERV)

As I prepare for my final day of the first week of this brand new school year, my heart is overflowing with gratitude. My anxiousness has been turned to enthusiasm, and my fear transformed to fuel for further learning and growing to better the experience for my students and myself. Each of these young lives who have walked into my classroom, have found a place in my heart. Their stories are only beginning to unfold, and I cannot wait to discover more and more of who they are, and what drives them to do their very best. Additionally, my own children have encountered the same sentiment from their teachers too. My colleagues are loving my boys well, and they feel safe and secure in each space. This, this is my reason to sing praise today. Among many other monumental things that He has done to care for my family and love us well, the blessings of a great beginning create a comfort in the hope of all that is yet to come. May we give God thanks and call on Him, telling of all the great things that He has done. May our very lives sing praise to Him, as we recognize the remarkable He continues to do in our lives.

May our hearts give thanks,Aquiring Armor

to the Lord most high;

for how He has loved,

all throughout our lives.

Tell all of the world,

of what He has done;

so they too may know,

the Most Holy One.

Let our praises ring,

as we lift our voice;

for the songs we sing,

should in Him, rejoice.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness and love, and for the amazing things that You do in and through our lives. Thank You that we can call out to You, and You hear our every call. Forgive us for not giving You the glory that You deserve, as every good and perfect gift comes from You. Teach us to trust You more, so that our immediate response would be to give You thanks and to tell others of the great things that You have done in our lives. May our very lives sing continual praise unto You. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they too may come to know Your faithfulness and love for themselves. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks and praise, and tell of all that You have done. Amen.

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

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

Upheld By His Hand

Change is inevitable. At times, change is a choice that we embrace and make with enthusiasm, yet there are other times that change must occur in response to our present circumstances. During the latter, we seldom are responding with enthusiasm, and often it is instead a space of fear or dread. There is sorrow in such seeking, and a desperate need to know that the Lord is present in the catalyst of change that we feel called to make. Our difficult decisions for change that Christ calls us to, He also strengthens and upholds us as we move forward in faith.

 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – (Isaiah 41:10)

 

Despite how things appear in the here and now, when Christ calls us to change, it is for our ultimate good. Though there may be a season of mourning, His joy does come again. We need not fear, for His presence is promised. We need not dismay, for we know Who is with us. He will strengthen, help and uphold us with His hand, not our own. It is not up to us to power through, rather we are meant to move in obedience; dependent on Him, each step of the way. May we release every fear to He who is our strength and our help, and trust Him to uphold us in His righteous right hand.

 

Lord help me embrace,Generous Giving

what You call me to;

though changes are hard,

I have help in You.

Even when sorrow,

accompanies change;

help me to trust You,

and call on Your Name.

Lord, help me not fear,

keep me from dismay;

be my strength and hope,

as I choose obey.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not fear, because You are with us. Thank You that we need not be dismayed, for You are our God. Thank You that You strengthen and help us; and that You hold us up in Your righteous right hand. Forgive us for our fearfulness, in spite of Your faithfulness. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will be certain of all that You have promised and walk in obedience accordingly. Lead us to love others fearlessly and relentlessly, even if they are afraid to receive the love that You are providing. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we surrender our fears and our fretting, and choose to embrace the strength and help that you provide as You hold us up in Your righteous right hand. Amen.

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

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

Blessed With Rest

Rest. This is not such a familiar term in my vernacular. I know I need it, yet like a small child that does not want to nap, I avoid rest as much as possible, fearing that if I actually slow down, I may never get back up again.

Normally, when my alarm sounds, I bound out of bed and begin my day with enthusiasm. (As I make my way to the cheerfully waiting coffee maker) This morning, I have no recollection of my alarm even sounding. It must have gone off, for when I awoke two and a half hours later than I normally do, my phone was buried beneath my pillow. Surprisingly, I did not feel panicked nor rushed, rather I felt something I have not felt in years – I actually woke feeling rested. I methodically made my way about the house, waking my boys, preparing each of us to exit in a timely manner, yet not once, did anxiousness enter in. It was all about efficiency and informing each boy about the time limit they had if they still wanted to make the quick stop that had been requested the night prior. Out the door we went at the time I had set before them, each of us ready to take on the day.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – (Matthew 11:28)

Though I do not intend to make this later rising time a habit, God knew what I needed today. Despite challenges that awaited me when I woke, I was much more resilient to face each one, because I was rested rather than run down. He will grant us rest, even at times when we don’t realize how desperately we need it. May we have open eyes and hearts to His calling us close, and allow Christ to grant us comfort and rest, as we give our every burden to He who is more than able to bear them all.

 

Oh Lord, grant us rest,butterfly vida

From burdens that come;

Please carry the weight,

so Your will is done.

When we are weary,

Lord give us Your rest;

For only in You,

can we be refreshed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we grow weary and worn, and at times don’t even recognize the reality of our own exhaustion, thank You that You see and know what we need far better than we do. Thank You that You provide as we abide. Forgive us for not taking time to slow down and simply rest in Your presence. Teach us to trust You more, so that we are more aware of when You are calling us to come close and simply be seated in Your presence. Lead us to love others well, just as You so generously pour out upon each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rest and find refreshment in You. Amen.

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

To Run With A Race Plan

For me, running has been a parallel to my Christian walk. Some runners jump out of the gate with enthusiasm and train hard for a short season. Some burn out before they even attain their goal of reaching race day, while others arrive on race day, run, then are over it. Then there are those of us who recognize the need for consistency over time. Accountability and a buddy help too. When discipline and decision enter in, and training is turned into a lifestyle, running becomes a part of who you are, rather than something you once did.

 

Our faith walk is the same way. Some eagerly join Bible studies or participate in activities, yet until there is a commitment to make Christ a priority, time with Him will go by the wayside. When a choice is made to create the intentional time to be with Him, to spend time in His word and in prayer, it becomes a part of who we are, and our day will no longer feel complete without it.

 

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. – (1 Corinthians 9:25)

 

The race we are running is a marathon, not a quick sprint. This race requires purpose and discipline. If we are to gain the crown that lasts forever, we must seek and follow the Lord’s race plan, rather than our own. His plan requires hard work, self-discipline and stamina. However, each of these things He will provide as we are dependent on Him. May we seek the Lord daily and depend on Him as we each run the race He has called us to run.

 

Let’s not grow weary,To Run With A Race Plan

in this race we run;

it takes a lifetime,

before it is done.

Training is needed,

to finish our race;

time spent with the Lord,

as we seek His face.

We seek not the crown,

that soon fades away;

but rather the one,

for heaven’s display.

Don’t go it alone,

instead, invest well;

united bodies,

together impel.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us not to a sprint, but to a lifelong race. Thank You that You do not just say “GO” and expect us to figure it all out as we go, but rather You have given us all that we need to run well with endurance, the race You are calling us to run. Thank You for Your word, Your Spirit, and the body of believers that surround us. Forgive us for trying to run ahead of You, or for falling behind, for fear of what lies ahead. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will run our race – that which You have called us to – individually. Lead us to love others well, just as You so wonderfully love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You as they recognize just how faithful You are in each of our lives. Be glorified O God, as we run our race with endurance, trusting You and Your race plan for our every step of the way. Amen.

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

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

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

Eager Anticipation

Eager anticipation brought a boy to my bedside at 2:28 this morning. Innocently, he asked if it was time yet… After a moment of orientation, I checked the clock and redirected him to return to bed, assuring him that none of the grown-ups would be ready for at least a few more hours. At 5:00 am sharp, in he silently crept again, this time leaning in for a sweet snuggle, hoping to raise the household to life. Gladly, I obliged, as my body is accustomed to early mornings, yet I reminded him that it may not be as simple with those who were still asleep. Fortunately, he and his brother’s energetic enthusiasm was met well, even by those who had been sleeping soundly. Soon the house was a buzz, and the festivities in full swing.

 

As this morning’s reading plan took me through 1 John, I could not help but compare my kiddos’ excitement with the hope that we too should hold in that which is yet to come. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. – (1 John 3:2) Just as our boys did not know what the packages contained, they knew that their parents and grandma, who love them well, selected things for them with love. Likewise, as God’s children, though we have not yet seen Him, nor do not fully know Him, we know Jesus through His word and the revelation of His Holy Spirit, and all that we know, is indeed very good! May we go forth this day with the joy and hope of a child, as we embrace the greatest gift ever given – born to us, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

 

With child-like faith,

Gram and the boys

My mom and the boys

on this holy day;

may we each embrace,

Christ’s coming to stay.

Born in a manger,

He quietly came;

the angelic hosts,

to shepherds proclaimed.

The magi too heard,

of the sacred birth;

they traveled so far,

to honor His worth.

They came bearing gifts,

and honored the King;

let us continue,

give our offerings.

May we give honor,

and all of our trust;

beloved Jesus,

the Lord God with us.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your one and only Son into the world, so that we could be restored to right relationship with You. Thank You that when we come to You and place our trust in You, You receive us as Your own. Thank You that You consider us Your children, and that You refine us and make us more like You. Forgive us for failing to seek You or choosing to not listen to Your leading. Help us to trust You more, so that we may clearly reflect Your love and light unto the world. Lead us to love as You love, and may many come into a saving relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we go forth as Your children into the world. Amen.

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

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