Blessing Beyond the Valley

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. – (Psalm 84:6a, ERV)

Even when their paths wind through the dark valley of tears, they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain. – (Psalm 84:6a, TPT)

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains! – (Psalm 84:6, TLB)

 

The Valley of Weeping is a space I avoid like the plague. I fight and fend off the opportunity for ocular malfunction as if my life depended on it, until I can fight no more. Eventually, the dam breaks and I must succumb to whatever is weighing heavily on my heart. Incredibly, God meets me where I am, and provides comfort and refreshment in ways that go beyond what I would hope or imagine. My most recent source of sorrow has been wrapped up in the injury to my leg and that which it is preventing me from safely doing. The biggest disappointment came when it was determined that it would be dangerous for me to fly to Utah with my team for the game this weekend against our toughest opponent. It was a double hit, as not only did I want to be present to support my team, but I have dearly loved family that live in the same city that I was looking forward to seeing. God in His loving kindness, has blessed me with a man who treasures me and lovingly holds my heart. When he realized how hard this loss was going to be for me, he stepped in and planned a weekend escape to the coast for us. My heart could not have been held more tenderly. The ocean is my sacred space, and there is no place on earth that I feel more at peace nor am as deeply in awe of our Creator, as when I set foot on the sand and watch the waves crash before me.  God knew what I needed and He blessed me with one who loves me as I was designed to be loved. May we ever hold fast to our hope in the Lord through our valleys, for even in our sorrows and disappointments, He makes way to bless our hearts and bring refreshment to remind us of His nearness and care for us, individually.

 

In valleys of tears, wp-15237115979951399911556.jpg

Do not be afraid;

God sees and He hears,

Beside us, He’ll stay.

Where sorrow once reigned,

Refreshment will come;

His presence remains,

’til each day is done.

The place that was dark,

Shall soon see His light;

His love will set spark,

As blessings delight.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You walk beside us through our valleys, and You bring blessing and refreshment where there has been sorrow and pain. Forgive us for fixing our eyes on the darkness that lies before us, rather than the light that You ignite within. Teach us to trust You more when we are in the valleys, as You are always faithful to remain present. Thank You that You bring blessing and refreshment out of spaces where sorrow once reigned. Show us how to love those around us in a way that blesses and refreshes and holds up those who feel stuck in valleys. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on Your refreshment and give You praise for all of our days for Your faithful presence, always. 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

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Saving Strength

The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise Him. – (Exodus 15:2, NLT)

The Lord is my strength. He saves me, and I sing songs of praise to Him. He is my God, and I praise Him. – (Exodus 15:2, ERV)

The Eternal is my strength and my song, and He has come to save me; He is my God, and I will praise Him. – (Exodus 15:2, VOICE)

 

Going to Minnesota with my fiancée was an incredible blessing, as I was able to meet so many of his extended family members, hear stories of his life growing up, and see the places that were significant in his formative years. The challenging part of an escape such as that, is the responsibility that waits upon one’s return home. Throughout my entire flight back, I was grading papers that students had spent last week finishing up or rewriting. Upon arriving home, there was little time for much visiting, but rather I had to get right back to grading and entering scores, as semester grades were due by midnight. Though my body had adapted to Minnesota time, I was incredibly enabled to stay alert until the last grade was entered and posted. Today is an equally hectic day, as a new semester begins, it is the first day of gymnastics, and I have football practice this evening. I will trust in Him to be my strength and song, as He provides what I need as it is needed most. May we ever seek the One who is our strength and song, as He is our God and worthy of all of our praise.

 

The Lord is my strength,

Strong Heart

My joy and my song;

He grants victory,

To continue on.

For He is my God,

Whom I’ll ever praise;

For goodness and grace,

He gives all my days.

On days I’m weary,

He’s still faithful true;

He fills me again,

With strength, makes me new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are my strength and my song. Thank You that You give us all that we need to navigate each new day as we depend on You. Thank You that though things seem impossible or overwhelming in our own strength, in You, we can do far more. Forgive us for attempting to power through when things pile up, and teach us to turn to You in trust for strength. Show us how to lovingly walk beside others who are heavy burdened too, so that they may find new strength and hope and joy in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength and our song, and praise You for Your faithfulness, always. Amen.

 

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

 

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

In Quiet Wait, There is Rest

I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:1, NLT)

I must calm down and turn to God; only He can rescue me. – (Psalm 62:1, ERV)

Only in God do I find rest; my salvation comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:1, CEB)

 

When life gets hectic and the weight of the world seems to fall upon our shoulders, it is necessary to slow down and find rest in whatever form fuels our souls best. I love the creativity of God and how He provides places and ways for us to recharge as we seek spaces of rest and refreshment in Him. Once a week, during our collaboration period at school, staff members meet to discuss topics that will help improve the culture and climate of our school. Yesterday’s topic, was in part, self-care. Turning to God in trust is the first way that my weary soul finds rest, and that I can carry out “self-care“. Additionally, I am recharged when I spend quality time with the people whom I love. Though I have been fighting a sore throat and dragging this week, there was no hesitation in my decision to keep my plans to join my love, his son, and some great friends of ours at a hockey game last evening. The escape from my normal routine was filled with laughter, cheering and rest. There are few ways in which I would voluntarily sit for three hours, yet with a hockey game on the ice in front of me, no problem. Despite my reduction in sleep last night, (due to the late end of the game) I still bolted out of bed at the first sound of my alarm, and am fully coherent as I begin this new day. As a bonus, this is a short school week, with Friday being an in-service day for which I do not need to complete hours. He is good and rescues us from our weariness in ways that He knows we need most. May we ever wait quietly on God and turn to Him in trust, as He is our rescuer and our salvation.

 

I wait on the Lord, In Quiet Wait There is Rest

So steady and calm;

For I trust in Him,

To keep keeping on.

The Lord is my rest,

My strength when I’m weak;

My hope, salvation,

The answer I seek.

In quiet I’ll wait,

For my God alone;

As He’s where I find,

That my heart is known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we wait quietly before You, we find You and know Your help, Your hope and Your rescue. Forgive us for attempting to gut things out in our weariness, rather than turning to You for rest. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would calm down and rest in Your presence, as You are our Provider of all that we need. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides peace and hope and rest that points their hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we wait quietly before You, and give You praise for Your faithfulness throughout all our days. Amen.

 

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

 

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

 

 

Revealed Glory

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known. – (Psalm 19:1-2, NLT)

The heavens tell about the glory of God. The skies announce what His hands have made. Each new day tells more of the story, and each night reveals more about God’s power. – (Psalm 19:1-2, ERV)

 

Regardless of whether or not we are looking or listening, God’s glory is continually being revealed. All around us there is evidence of His handiwork. From the rising and setting of the sun, to the ocean’s tide only coming so far – each powerfully displaying the mighty work of our Creator’s hands. At night, we need only escape the distraction of the city lights to look up and discover the dizzying design mapped out by our Maker. More stars than our eyes can count, His creation reveals glimpses of His power that are greater than we can fathom. May we ever recognize God’s majesty and might as we observe the glory of His creation all around us. All praise, honor and glory unto You Lord, now and forevermore.

 

All heaven declares,Hope for Eternity

The glory of God;

Powerful display,

May each heart applaud.

Give praise for the skies,

That speak of His hands;

And night after night,

Show His heart to man.

So speak of His love,

And show well His grace;

Help others see too,

His glorious ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are great and worthy of all of our praise. Thank You that Your glory is displayed throughout the earth, and Your majesty is announced in the skies. Thank You that You are for us, and that You long to be in relationship with us, if only we choose to seek You. Forgive us for not recognizing the incredible craftsmanship of Your creation that is all around us, or for neglecting to be grateful for Your goodness and grace. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would recognize all of Your glory that surrounds us, and go forth giving You praise for Your precious presence. Show us how to love those around us in the same way that You love each of us. Be glorified O God, as we give You our praise for the glory of all that You have made, and go forth in gratitude as we love like You. Amen.

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

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

Our Answer in Times of Trouble

I was in very bad trouble. I called to the Lord for help, and He answered me. I was deep in the grave. I cried to You, and You heard my voice. – (Jonah 2:2, ERV)

He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and He answered me. I called to You from the land of the dead, and Lord, You heard me!” – (Jonah 2:2, NLT)

 

God is overwhelmingly patient and full of grace. Despite Jonah’s rebellion and refusal to go where God was calling him to go, He met Jonah in the middle of his mess and showed His mercy. Most of us have heard the story. Jonah is called to Ninevah and doesn’t want to go. Instead, he hops a boat the opposite direction for Tarshish to escape dealing with people whom he did not believe deserved God’s grace. Fast-forward to the middle of trip, and a horrendous storm stirs the seas and spins the ship so violently, that the crew believes that God has to be mad at someone onboard. They cast lots and determine that it is Jonah, and throw him overboard. As Jonah is sinking in the sea, he cries out to the Lord for help, and is swallowed by an enormous fish. There, in the middle of the ocean, in the belly of a whale (or comparably large fish), Jonah discovers the grace and mercy of God, and the wrong of running from God and the call He had on his life. Long story short, the great fish spit Jonah out, and he went and did what he had been called to do. God heard his cries and answered his pleas for help. The very same God who rescued Jonah from his own path of destruction, can do the same for you and me. When we call on the Lord and ask for His help, He hears and He answers us. May we ever seek our Savior, as He hears our cries and makes way where there seems to be no way.

 

In calm and in storms,

Wielding Words Wisely

The Lord’s ever near;

If we call on Him,

Our cries, He will hear.

Ever He listens,

As we seek and pray;

He’s willing to make,

Way where seems no way.

So trust in the Lord,

Choose call on His Name;

He hears and He helps,

Our hope to proclaim.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our hope and our help in times of trouble. Thank You that we can always come to You, no matter what we’ve done, and You will hear us and love us the same. Forgive us for the times that we run the opposite direction of that which You are calling. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would go where You lead, even when it does not make sense, or it is terrifying. Give us Your strength and power to do and be all that You ask of us. Show us how to love those around us fearlessly. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we call to You in times of trouble, and trust You to be our answer. Amen.

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

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

Sit Not in Suffering

Yet it was our suffering He carried, our pain and distress, our sick-to-the-soul-ness. – (Isaiah 53:4a, VOICE)

Yet it was our weakness He carried; it was our sorrow that weighed Him down. – (Isaiah 53:4a, NLT)

 

Every pain and every sorrow is known by our Savior. He willingly and lovingly bore the weight on our behalf as He hung upon the cross. Death and darkness were defeated on that day, so though trials and tragedies will come our way, in Christ, the ultimate victory is ours. May we rise up in hope as we trust in the Lord, knowing that our eternal outcome will be in the precious peace of His presence forever.

 

The pain and sorrow,Refreshment Through Repentance

That happen to us;

Don’t escape notice,

Of our Lord Jesus.

He already bore,

The weight of our woes;

As we come to Him,

He gets it, He knows.

It was His great love,

That bore all our strife;

So we could be free,

As His love brings life.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You willingly chose to bear our suffering, sin, weakness and pain, so that You not only could identify with us, but could love us back to life again. Thank You that You forgive us and set us free from the things that weigh us down, and offer new life in You. Forgive us for sitting in our suffering rather than reaching out to You. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our Healer and our Hope. Show us how to love those around us in ways that ease pain and offer comfort, allowing Your heart to be made visible through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give all of our trials to You, and trust You to be our ever-present help and hope. 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

I Look Up

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

I look up to the hills, but where will my help really come from? My help will come from the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, ERV)

 

For me, there is nothing like getting out in nature to regain perspective as to who God is, and how awesome His power and might. All it takes is a glimpse of the crashing waves of the ocean or the mighty peaks that rise before me, to realize how great He is and how small I am. This morning, I have the opportunity to go and reset. In the midst of the madness of Christmas shoppers and chaos all around the city, some dear friends and I are going to escape for a few hours to hike in the snowy woods. Fresh air and the beauty of God’s creation await. I cannot think of a better way to spend my morning on this wonderful Wednesday before Christmas. May you all have an opportunity to find rest and reset amidst the madness, and recognize how great our God is, and from where our help is found.

 

As I lift my eyes,i-look-up

What is it I see?

The glory of God,

Created for me.

The very same hands,

That made earth and sea;

Are ready to help,

All who choose seek Thee.

Our help comes from Him,

The Lord above all;

Who loves us to life,

And lifts when we fall.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the glorious gift of Your creation. Thank You that the very same hands that hung the stars in the sky are willing to come close and hold our hearts. Forgive us for not looking to You to be our help, or for neglecting to recognize the majesty of all that You have made. Teach us to see You and Your creation with a holy perspective, so that we would recognize how great and mighty You are. Show us how to love fiercely, so that others too, will be led to look to You as their Source of help and hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look up to You to be our help in all things. Amen.

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

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

Unseal My Lips

Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise You. – (Psalm 51:15, NLT)

O Lord, pry open my lips that this mouth will sing joyfully of Your greatness. – (Psalm 51:15, VOICE)

My Lord, I will open my mouth and sing Your praises! – (Psalm 51:15, ERV)

 

Be it by circumstances or lack of stamina, sometimes we fail to let our lips offer praise to the Lord when it is overdue, and instead allow things that do not benefit anyone to escape our mouths. We cannot simultaneously sing praise and complain. Either our hearts are fixed on His greatness, or we are looking away at that which distracts. If we seek the Lord and set our hearts and minds on who He is and all that He has done, the very mouth that meant to grumble only moments before, suddenly cannot help but sing of the greatness of God. A holy perspective unseals locked lips, and opens hearts to praise He who is worthy. May we fix our eyes and hearts on the Lord above, allowing Him to reveal more and more of who He is and what He has done, so that we cannot help but sing praise unto the Lord.

 

Oh Lord, let my eyes,unseal-my-lips

Fix clearly on You;

So my heart may hold,

All that is the truth.

Lord, unseal my lips,

So that I may praise;

This heart shall sing songs,

That tell of Your ways.

With joy, songs shall flow,

From this heart of mine;

Because You are great,

O Holy Divine.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You alone are worthy of all of our praise. Thank You that as we seek You, You reveal more and more of who You are, and show Your loving kindness unto us. Forgive us for not giving You proper praise. Unseal our lips so that we would ever bring praise before You. Teach us to praise You in all that we do. May our very lives be a song sung to You. Show us how to love others as You so joyfully and generously love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing with joy, of the greatness of who You are and all that You have done. Amen.

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

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

To Choose to Trust

Though at times we feel alone, we never truly are, for the Lord is ever near. This is especially comforting when facing the new. It is in the unknowns that fear tends to rise up, and uncertainty and self-doubt seek to find space in the equation. However, when we choose to trust, and to seek the Lord in the midst of the new and the unknown, His words to us are much like His words in Isaiah.

 

So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you. I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up. – (Isaiah 41:10, VOICE)

 

If the Lord tells us to not be afraid, what have we to fear? All that is now, is temporary, but that which is yet to come, is eternal. If God is for us, who can stand against us? No mountain is too high, no valley too low, nor sea too wide for Christ to come alongside and strengthen and equip us to overcome whatever lies before us.

 

After all, it is I, the Eternal One your God, who has hold of your right hand, Who whispers in your ear, “Don’t be afraid. I will help you.” – (Isaiah 41:13, VOICE)

 

God has a hold of us and will help us, we need to trust Him and reach out our hands to Him. As we give Him our fear, He returns to us, His strength, courage, help and hope. He cares about the little things and the larger ones. Nothing is too small to escape His concern, nor too much trouble for He who created and cares for us all. May we go forward, without fear, trusting in Him who will be our help and hold us up with His holy right hand.

 

Do not let the new,Dispelling Discouragement

Cause terror to reign;

For Christ is our strength,

And makes our path plain.

Hand all fear to God,

Do not be dismayed;

For He is our help,

Through whom strength’s displayed.

The Lord holds us up,

Takes us by the hand;

Whispers, “I will help,”

Gives us strength to stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not fear with You. Thank You that You are our help and our hope, and that nothing is too difficult for You. Forgive us for our fears and doubts, and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to believe big in the little things and the large. Help us to love others well, so that they too might find courage and strength to press forward when fear attempts to derail. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to be our strength to move forward, even when things seem beyond what we can fathom. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6

 

Seeing Past a Sordid Past

People should never be discounted for who they appear to be, or what they may have done in the past. God can redeem and raise up the unlikeliest of people to do great things for His purposes.

This morning, my daily reading covered Joshua 2:1-21, which is the story of Rahab and how she helped the Israelite spies that Joshua had sent ahead to Jericho.

“Rahab is a woman in a male-centered world; and she is a prostitute, the kind of person we typically vilify. But if she doesn’t rescue these men – and help them escape with the information they have gained – this first campaign in the land of Canaan will fail, and the larger outcome may be complicated  – or worse.” (VOICE footnotes)

As a result of Rahab’s protection of the spies when the king had sent his guards to find them, she and her family would ultimately be spared. The spies spoke the following to Rahab: “We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,” the men agreed. “If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the Lord gives us the land.” – (Joshua 2:14, NLT)

Not only would her life be spared, but all of her family.

I love that a woman with such a sordid past, was used by God to do something so remarkable. Her act of kindness propelled the movement of an entire population into the promise so long sought after. No one should ever be discounted. We all have a past, yet each one has potential. God can do ANYTHING through a heart that is willing. May we rise up and look at the world around us through a lens that sees possibilities rather than just problems. Great things begin with the seemingly insignificant…

 

Do not choose discount,Finding Freedoms Flight

A colorful past;

For last shall be first,

And first shall be last.

God does not do things,

The way we foresee;

But rather He moves,

To set captives free.

Perceptions at times,

Are the thickest walls;

That limit our sight,

And disrupt His call.

Lord, give us Your eyes,

To see as You do;

Each person with gifts,

That You long to use.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see every single person as someone with potential to do great things according to Your purposes. Thank You that our past does not discount us, nor does our present status. Forgive us for discounting ourselves or others from being useful to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may see ourselves and others through Your lens, not our own. Show us the potential in those around us, and help us to encourage and draw out the good in all. Help us to love others well, just as You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look for opportunities to move where You are calling, and to encourage those around us as they step out in faith. 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