Orchestrated Overcoming

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – (Romans 8:28, NIV)

We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love Him. These are the people God chose, because that was His plan. – (Romans 8:28, ERV)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

 

It is beyond my understanding how God takes the most difficult or heart-breaking of seasons, events, or circumstances, and uses them to launch us into something far greater than we would have ever thought possible. Not one hurt nor heartache is overlooked, and He leads us through to so much more than we would have envisioned for ourselves. When we choose God and listen to His leading, we find His grace, comfort and love through the trials, and discover the hardest of roads lead to the most beautiful of destinations. It is easy to lose sight of hope in the midst of despair, yet as we cling to Christ, love lights the way through the darkness, and His hand leads and guides us to something new. His new is light, life and love. Dreams are imagined and beauty comes from the ashes we thought would never end. May we ever hold fast to hope in God, as He uses all things for our good as we trust in Him.

 

All things in our lives,

Smiling fields

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Can be used for good;

When given to God,

His love, understood.

Beauty from ashes,

His hope from despair;

God shows us the good,

As His love repairs.

What once overwhelmed,

Darkness that has passed;

Seasons of struggle,

Lead to hope that lasts.

So, let us choose trust,

Find hope in His Name;

For there’s so much more,

Love changes the game.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You work all things out for good, as we trust in You. Thank You that You alone, can bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Thank You for the incredible outcomes of so many spaces we thought would be the end of us. Forgive us for our fears and doubts during seasons of difficulty. Teach us to trust You more, as we look to You to be our hope and help as we navigate to the new that awaits us on the other side. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends help in the now and hope for all that is yet to come. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust and rely on You, even when we see no possible way for good to come from what we are walking through. Amen.

 

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

 

…”to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…” – Isaiah 61:3

As Unto You

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. – (Colossians 3:23, NLT)

Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. – (Colossians 3:23, CEB)

Put your heart and soul into every activity you do, as though you are doing it for the Lord Himself and not merely for others. – (Colossians 3:23, TPT)

 

After student-led conferences, there is a sort of shift as we are race forward into the holiday season. We have a four-day week this week, less than three-day week next week, then we are only a month away until Christmas Break. Calendars fill rapidly, and it is easy to over-commit. That being said, my intent going into this busy, but beautiful season, is going to be – if I cannot put my heart and soul into whatever it is, as if unto the Lord, then my answer to the invitation will need to be a “no”. My family, my job, and my existing commitments to that which I am called, have to be my priority as I go. I love people deeply, and grew up as a “pleaser”, so I must be certain that my motivation is as unto the Lord. He is well-pleased with us because we are His, not for anything that we do or do not do. May we keep our eyes fixed on the Lord as we walk into this wonderful season, and allow Him to lead us into the things that we can do with our whole heart.

 

In all that we do, Weighing the Why

May it be done well;

As unto the Lord,

Love’s own personnel.

As we choose commit,

To events and tasks;

We need make certain,

Our heart in it lasts.

How we choose to work,

The care placed in things;

Is our way to show,

The good that God brings.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do all things as unto You. Thank You that we are not created to please people, but rather to be obedient to You. Thank You that as we live and love according to Your call, work is done well and people are loved as You love. Forgive us for the times that we have over-committed ourselves and have been pulled in so many different directions that we were unable to fully invest in anything. Teach us to balance our time and place our whole heart into the things that we are called to do. Show us how to love and prioritize people as we work as unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we put our heart and soul into every activity that we do, as unto You. Amen.

 

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

 

A person’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way? – Proverbs 20:24

 

Remember With Wonder

But then I recall all You have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. – (Psalm 77:11, NLT)

Lord, I remember what You have done. I remember the amazing things you did long ago. – (Psalm 77:11, ERV)

Yet I could never forget all Your miracles, my God, as I remember all Your wonders of old. – (Psalm 77:11, TPT)

 

This weekend my husband and I are attending several events to celebrate his 30th high school reunion. It is amusing to watch he and his buddies from so long ago, catch up and reminisce. As I observe and take in their stories and various accounts, I am in awe of the protection that was provided to keep them alive, the grace to carry them from adolescence to adulthood unscathed, and the goodness that has grown them into wonderful parents, spouses, community members and human beings. Looking back is a fantastic way to remember all of the amazing things that God has done – the obstacles that He has helped us traverse, the challenges we have overcome, and the wonders His hands have provided throughout the years. As we take the time to recall and recognize the Lord’s faithfulness before, our capacity to forge forward in faith grows stronger. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and recounting personally, our experiences of His faithfulness, renews our fortitude to trust more deeply. May we never forget all that God has done to bring us from where we were to today.

 

May we not forget, Remember With Wonder

The wonders and grace;

That God’s given us,

As we’ve sought His face.

For throughout our lives,

His love has been shown;

As He’s carried us,

From hardships to home.

The more we recall,

The more that trust grows;

Just as He has done,

He’ll continue show.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace that has protected, carried and provided for us throughout our lives thus far. Thank You that as we remember Your hand and how You provided, it grows easier to trust that You will continue. Forgive us for our lack of trust and for neglecting to recall Your incredible faithfulness. Teach us to stop and remember all that You have done, giving You glory as Your grace grows our faith all the more. Show us how to love those around us as we remain consistent and constant in the lives of those whom You have called us to touch. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we remember Your faithfulness forever and forge forward with hearts full of faith. Amen.

 

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

 

For I have always been mindful of Your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on Your faithfulness. – Psalm 26:3

True Source of Strength

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

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. – (Psalm 121:1-2, MSG)

I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help. But then I realize that our true help and protection come only from the Lord, our Creator who made the heavens and the earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, TPT)

 

The beauty and majesty found in creation are tangible reminders of the power and goodness of God. Even as a small child, I remember seeing the first star of the evening and beginning with a wish that would soon transform into a prayer to the very One who hung the stars in the sky. That same heart is still reminded of God’s grace and strength at the sight of the work of His hands. Today is a day that many of us will never forget. I still remember my drive to work as the news came over the radio that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. Upon arrival, I, with so many others, turned on the TV in my classroom to watch in horror as the footage of the horrific events unfolded. The images will forever be etched in my mind. As I drove home that day, I took in the view of the mountain, and was reminded that the same God who made majestic mountains, could bring beauty from the ashes of so much destruction. Though we may never understand why such tragedies occur this side of heaven, the stories of redemption and beauty and overcoming have risen from the ashes. People who were touched by the tragedy, hold their loved ones a little tighter and do not take a single day for granted. Spouses, siblings and children of those who were lost, have gone on to accomplish great things in honor of their loved ones. May we ever look to the Lord, our Creator, to be our help, as He is the true source of strength.

 

No matter what comes,9-11-memorial-03-marley-white__large.jpg

We must realize;

That God is the One,

Who gives strength to rise.

Rise from the ashes,

When all seemed but lost;

Rise from the rubble,

For He paid the cost.

No matter the darkness,

The Lord is the light;

His love and His grace,

Set wrong things to right.

O Lord, be our strength,

When trials come near;

Grant courage to rise,

In the face of fear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created so much beauty that reminds us of Your goodness and strength. Thank You that often, as we see the work of Your hands, our gaze is lifted to You. Forgive us for not looking to You to be the light in every darkness, or for celebrating creation rather than the Creator. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You to be our help, and praise You in all things and at all times, as You alone are our strength and supply. Show us how to love those around us in a way that brings light and life, goodness and grace into spaces where there is none. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize where we find help that lasts. Amen.

 

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

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” – Hebrews 13:6

When Our Strength is Gone

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. – (Psalm 18:32, NIV)

God is the one who gives me strength. He clears the path I need to take. – (Psalm 18:32, ERV)

He fills me with strength and protects me wherever I go. – (Psalm 18:32, TLB)

 

This is a reassuring reminder this morning, as it has been a very long and exhausting week already. Though it is Thursday, it feels as if the events that occurred Monday through Wednesday covered a few weeks’ worth of time, attention and energy, rather than only three days thus far. Though I am weary, I know that God will arm me with strength and keep my way secure. He provides where we lack and gives grace so that we are able to do the things we are called to complete. May we each find refreshment and new strength in He who grants us strength and keeps our way secure.

 

When our strength is gone, Living a Legacy Life

In trust, we need turn;

To God who gives strength,

We are His concern.

As His dearly loved,

He makes plain the way;

For us to press on,

Shows the path to take.

Let us rest secure,

Knowing that the One;

Who made everything,

Will help get things done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can trust in You to supply strength when ours is depleted. Thank You that You keep our way secure. Forgive us for trying to power through on our own in our weariness. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love well all those around us, so that we may offer strength and encouragement. Please keep our way secure. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for strength, protection and direction at all times. Amen.

 

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

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

The Hope of the World

And His Name will be the hope of all the world. – (Matthew 12:21, NLT)

The mere sound of His Name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers. – (Matthew 12:21, MSG)

All the world will find its hope in His Name. – (Matthew 12:21, VOICE)

 

So often we use the word hope with little thought of where our true hope lies. We use the word as: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. (dictionary.com) However, our true hope lies not in things nor upcoming events, but rather in the One in whom and through whom all things were made. This is our true hope: The One in which expectations, longing and trust belong. May we enjoy the present for the gift that has been given, and keep our hope held in The One who is our Hope.

 

The Light of the world, The Hope of the World

Our hope for all times;

The One we can trust,

Most Holy, Divine.

For He is the gift,

That showed us the way;

To have peace right now,

And faith for always.

Let all our longing,

Be placed in His hands;

And trust in His Name,

As He understands.

For all near and far,

Will one day come know;

The light of His love,

And how His grace grows.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the hope of all the world. Thank You that You are our hope, the very One in whom we can place all our trust. Forgive us for placing our hope in people or things, as all else will fall short of You. Teach us to trust You more, as You are greater than all. Show us how to love those around us in a way that extends Your hope where it is needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we find all of our hope in Your Name. 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

Ponder the Treasure

But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. – (Luke 2:19, NLT)

Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. – (Luke 2:19, ERV)

Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. – (Luke 2:19, CEB)

Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, VOICE)

 

The chain of events leading to and surrounding the birth of Jesus, must have been more than enough to keep Mary’s mind on constant overload. Angelic visits and prophecies, miraculous pregnancies, having to travel by donkey in the desert, arriving only to be turned away at all of the possible places to stay, giving birth in a stable, having shepherds show up… Mary was now mother to the Son of God. I imagine she vacillated back and forth between bewilderment and amazement at the role that she had been called to fill. Her faithfulness and trust in God was apparent, as she said “yes” to that which she had been called to do by God. Each of these events to treasure, were likely the things that gave her courage and strength in times of uncertainty as Jesus grew. Today, as many of us participate in candlelight services, may we ponder all of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, and treasure them in our hearts, so that we too, will find courage and strength in times of uncertainty.

 

Joining to gather, Ponder the Treasure

In candlelight glow;

Sing of our Savior,

Arrival we know.

Born in a stable,

Such a humble birth;

Path for us to know,

The depth of our worth.

For God sent His Son,

To show love to all;

Let us each embrace,

Grace to which we’re called.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us how to stop in awe and wonder of all that took place surrounding the birth of Jesus through the example of Mary. Thank You that You did not call the equipped, but rather You equipped the called. Thank You that You used ordinary people to do the extraordinary to change the course of history forever; a young girl, a carpenter, some shepherds, an inn keeper with a bit of compassion – each with a role that led us to why we celebrate this most holy season. Forgive us for breezing through the day as if it is just another holiday. Teach us to stop and ponder the magnitude of what You have done for us, so that we will treasure it all in our hearts. Show us how to love those around us with a love that is tangible and worth treasuring. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they are introduced or reminded of Who You are and all that You have done through the glorious gift of Your Son. Be glorified O God, as we ponder and treasure the reason for the season. Amen.

 

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

 

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

 

 

To Be At Peace

So all of you should live together in peace. Try to understand each other. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Be kind and humble. – (1 Peter 3:8, ERV)

 

Yesterday, as we returned to school for the first day that followed the 15th anniversary of 9/11, I spent the day informing my students about the events that unfolded, and then discussing questions that came up in conversation. One particular conversation that stood out to me, was the one about who was responsible for the terrorist attacks. An article that we read mentioned that the al-Qaeda were Islamic extremists. It was a terrific teachable moment, as one student started to make a statement about all people who followed Islam. What I was able to unpack for this kiddo, was that there is a vast difference between people who are living out their lives following their particular faith, and those who are among extremist groups. Though we don’t all believe the same things, the intent of most, is to live well. I was able to convey how despite the tragedy on that fateful day, our nation banded together during that time, as it has never done before or since. In light of the state of unrest in our country today, the very same sort of mindset toward one another is needed. We need to sympathize with one another. It is only when we choose to try to understand each other, that we are able to love each other as brothers and sisters. May we be kind and humble in all things and at all times.

 

Let us be at peace,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wherever we go;

Seek to understand,

Don’t think that we know.

All have a story,

That needs to be told;

Storms they are facing,

A hand we can hold.

When we choose listen,

Our choice to love grows;

For the heart can love,

Only what it knows.

Be kind and humble,

For there we find peace;

When we love as Christ,

Tensions are released.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You only ask of us that which You are willing to equip and empower us to do. Thank You that You showed us how to live together in peace and seek to understand one another through Your Son, and through those who have gone before us. Thank You that You give us Your heart to love one another as brothers and sisters, and in You, we can be kind and humble to those whom we encounter. Forgive us for not being aligned with Your will and choosing to walk in our own way. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be of one mind with You. Show us how to love each other as brothers and sisters, so that You may be evident in all that we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to understand and love well, all those whom we come across each day. Amen.

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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Worry Versus Concern

Though my daily reading plan does not coincide with the events surrounding our celebration of Easter, I cannot help but recognize within each reading, how the words must have moved the hearts of the various men and women who were present at the events leading up to the cross, and beyond. This morning is no exception.

 

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” – (Matthew 6:27)

 

The NIV footnotes explain that “worry immobilizes, but concern moves you to action.” Clearly Christ was concerned for our well-being, as He moved forward to suffer for our sake. Additionally, I think of the disciples who deserted Him in His hour of need. Clearly they worried about their well-being, as each of them scattered in the face of adversity. However, there were those who were clearly concerned, rather than worried. Concern compelled Joseph of Arimathea to risk his reputation and ask to take Jesus’ body to the tomb. Likewise, concern moved Mary Magdalene and many other faithful women to be present at the foot of the cross.

 

Worry kept Pilate from standing strong in his convictions that Christ was indeed innocent. Though he knew Jesus had done nothing deserving of death, Pilate allowed the worry of his reputation to dictate death for One undeserving, simply because the crowd was calling for it. Can you imagine what the remainder of Pilate’s days must have been like, after the events that occurred from the cross to the empty tomb?  Surely Pilate heard the news…

 

Let not worry,Worry Versus Concern

seize your heart with fear;

for no good comes,

when panic is near.

Concern compels,

wills us to action;

trusts Christ to lead,

faithful transaction.

Don’t let worry,

come immobilize;

instead, let faith,

sink in, globalize.

Rise up, dear ones,

release pending doom;

on that third day,

stood the empty tomb.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not worry when our trust is in You. Thank You that You who provide for the grass of the fields and the birds of the air, even more abundantly provide for Your people. Thank You that You alone are worthy of all of our trust. Forgive us for allowing fear to seep in and freeze us up from moving forward. Grow in us an unshakable faith, that is compelled to action by concerns, and that carries out Your will rather than our own. May we love others as You love us, and honor You in all that we say and do. May many come to know the help and hope available in You, because of what You did for us during this Easter season. All glory and honor unto You, our perfect Prince of Peace. Amen.

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

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

 

The Scroll and the Seven Seals

From the opening of the scroll to the list of calamities that will come to the earth, I have always found this portion of Revelation to be particularly unsettling. (Revelation 5-9)  However, today, something new seemed to stand out to me.  In the midst of a series of devastating displays, those who were sent to destroy, stopped, and made sure to mark those who belonged to God, so that we would be left alone by those who would later come to torture and destroy.

“Wait!  Don’t do anything yet – hurt neither earth nor sea nor trees – until we have placed the seal of God upon the foreheads of His servants.” – (Revelation 7:3, Living Bible)

In a list of darkness and destruction that is to come, this is our ray of light.  Our reminder of hope and help – that we are known, marked and set aside for something far greater than the here and now.  Though the series of seals being broken and the events that are to unfold are nothing to look forward to, I am comforted in knowing that as His daughter, I shall somehow bear His seal upon my forehead, and be known.  (As is true for all who call on His Name and place their trust in Him)  I still hope to have lived out my life and already be in heaven when what was foretold comes to pass; but if I am not, there is much comfort in knowing that I am His.  And, the best part that has not yet been covered in this portion of scripture, is how it all ends.  Christ wins!  Death and destruction will all pass away, and His peace and presence will reign forever.  For that, I look forward with eager anticipation!

A sealed scroll,The Scroll and the Seven Seals

that none can open;

yet there is One,

the Lamb, who’s Chosen.

With every seal,

comes horse and rider;

sent to destroy,

human dividers.

Plagues and disease,

death from brutal wars;

much of the earth,

lost both near and far.

Such loss and pain,

who’d even survive?

Those with His mark,

kept safe for a time.

Yet even those,

in destruction lost;

if in the Lord,

paid is final cost.

For in the end,

His kingdom shall reign;

all found in Him,

will live free from pain.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to show us more of Yourself as we earnestly seek You.  Thank You that though we naturally fear what we do not know or understand, that You reveal to us that You are with us, and will remain with us in all things and at all times.  Thank You that You are the same yesterday, today and forever, and that Your faithfulness has no end.  Forgive us for our fearfulness of that which we do not know, and grant us wisdom and insight into that which You would have us to know.  For the things we are not yet meant to grasp, give us faith to trust You more.  May our hearts hold fast to You in faith, regardless of the world around us.  Help us to love as You love us, and may many come into a saving relationship with You, so they too, may bear the seal upon their forehead…  Be glorified in all that we say and do.  Amen.

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