Sweet Independence

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – (Matthew 4:4, NIV)

Jesus answered him, “The Scriptures say, ‘It is not just bread that keeps people alive. Their lives depend on what God says.’” – (Matthew 4:4, ERV)

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” – (Matthew 4:4, MSG)

 

Independence Day has an entirely new meaning in my world this year. I am not speaking on a national level, but rather on a personal one. Independence, as it is defined, is the freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others. (dictionary.com)  Ironically, to be independent from the wiles of this world, we must be dependent on God. We have to know the Lord, trust His word to be true, and actually follow after Him with our whole heart, to avoid being sucked into a dependence on popular thought, regardless of how askew it has become. Personally, I am in a space where my formerly independent mom, is currently completely dependent on me (or my sister) for everything throughout her day. Aid and support are required to sustain her, as the right side of her body is still not cooperating as it used to, prior to her stroke. At times I find myself feeling like a prisoner in this space, as I am accustomed to the freedom to come and go as I choose. Not having the liberty to take off and go for a run or make a quick trip to the store as needed, is an odd sort of normal. That being said, even when I have those freedoms at home, I still depend on God. My thought life and ability to express myself is independent of anyone’s control, and any submitting that I do, is a personal choice unto the Lord.

Perhaps my point is to not take our independence for granted. Mom’s independence was taken in an unexpected instant. She had no prior health issues nor warning signs, yet a stroke happened, and here we are. God is gracious and mom is a fighter. He has given her strength and tenacity, and I believe she will work her way back to full function on her own again. However, there is much work and an undisclosed timeline in the in between. Yesterday was another good day, as mom walked the full length of her hallway by herself with the walker during physical therapy in the morning. A bit later, we went on a “field trip” into town to drive through Dutch Bros for coffee. Honestly, it is a way to get out of the house and take in a change of scenery. Upon our return, we sat on the deck and spent a few hours playing Uno and Dominos. Playing games is a great way to continue to connect pathways in her healing brain, and do not be fooled, as she is a ruthless competitor. 😊 The remainder of the day was fairly routine, as we did the usual sort of activities. Last night, she had a few wake-ups in a short span of time, but then slept until 5:30 this morning. There is absolutely nothing scheduled for today, so we shall see what the day holds. We are independent to choose, yet dependent on God for His goodness and grace as we go. May your day be free and blessed as You celebrate the gift of independence that is held in your hands.

 

Sweet independence,

Freedom to behold;

Where no one controls,

We choose what to hold.

Hold fast to the truth,

Grace rooted in love;

Trust in the Lord’s word,

All hope from above.

Only by God’s grace,

Do we truly know;

Freedom forever,

True peace to let go.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace. Thank You that true independence and freedom come when we learn to be dependent on You. Thank You for the nourishment found in Your word. Forgive us for our frustration found in our circumstances, somehow thinking that our independence has anything to do with our location or physical condition. Teach us to trust You more, understanding that Your word truly sets us free from all that holds us captive. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too may come to understand freedom in Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate our independence because of our dependence on You. Amen.

 

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

 

My brothers and sisters, God chose you to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful selves. Instead, serve each other with love. – Galatians 5:13

Modeled Love

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. – (Galatians 5:13, NIV)

My brothers and sisters, God chose you to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful selves. Instead, serve each other with love. – (Galatians 5:13, ERV)

Brothers and sisters, God has called you to freedom! Hear the call, and do not spoil this gift by using your liberty to engage in what your flesh desires; instead, use it to serve each other as Jesus taught through love. – (Galatians 5:13, VOICE)

 

Yesterday, we reached an impasse, and recognized that we had to make the final decision as to where mom would land next, as her stay at the acute rehabilitation facility comes to a close near the end of this month. After asking mom what she most wanted, watching how the familiarity of home made such a dramatic difference in her ability to recall information through an activity during speech therapy, and hearing from various therapists how often patients’ recovery accelerates by leaps and bounds in their own familiar settings, it became evident that her home was where she needed to be next. This is where the choosing to serve one another humbly in love comes in; for it is neither an easy nor convenient choice for either my sister or me. Megan has the obstacle of a seven-hour journey if she drives, a crazy, busy schedule at home with work and family, and the heartache of being away from mom whenever she needs to be home. For myself, I am still in my first year of a new marriage, raising two teenage sons, finishing their junior year, attempting to coordinate sub plans and grading from three hours from home, and seeking to maintain balance and normalcy in both spaces. Both Meg and I would not have it any other way. The words penned by Paul the Apostle, were modeled by mom throughout our entire lives. It is a simple decision to make, despite the logistical challenges. Additionally, we are overwhelmingly blessed and supported by our spouses, children, families, friends, and our extended communities – both near and far. The outpouring of love and support, both prayerfully and through notes and messages, has been an incredible blessing, and often just what was needed at the moment it was needed most.

As for mom specifically, she is continuing to make great gains. Her speech and language retrieval is phenomenally fast, but is more difficult by day’s end when she is tired. Physically, she is building more strength every day, and more and more movement is coming along. It is a painfully slow process, but it is happening. She would love to just jump up and take off running, but even as babies, we must first learn to crawl, then stand, then wobble and scoot, before we ever take steps. For a growing infant, the process takes the entire first year. Mom is making tremendous strides toward walking again, and it has not quite been a month yet. So often it is a matter of keeping it all in perspective.

For those who are walking alongside us in prayer, these are our present petitions before our Savior: for a smooth transition home, for protection from fear, protection physically, emotionally, and spiritually, against discouragement, for total and complete healing, for strength, for patience, for calendars and schedules to align easily, for grace, balance and wisdom, for her incredible community to continue to be patient about visiting until she is ready, as it needs to be in her time.

 

Jesus set us free, dsc090724766454540718468749.jpg

And gave us a choice;

To choose for ourselves,

Use heart, mind and voice.

Our purpose is more,

Than our own desire;

But rather to love,

Sacrifice, inspire.

Just as we are loved,

By He who gave all;

So we ought to give,

As we heed His call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son and showing us what it means to choose to love and serve freely. Thank You for the treasured gift of our mom, who has modeled the same for us throughout our entire lives. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen to indulge our own selfish desires, rather than love like You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we choose to love and serve in the same way that You have always done for us. Show us how to love those around us as You would. Especially direct our steps as we prepare to bring mom back to her own home. May those around us who do not know You yet, come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to serve in love, just as You have modeled for us through Your Son and those that You have strategically placed in our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10

 

Give Rise to the Songs

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Ephesians 5:19-20, NIV)

Encourage each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord. Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – (Ephesians 5:19-20, ERV)

Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God our Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ. – (Ephesians 5:19-20, MSG)

 

Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are all ways that wise words of truth can be transferred from mind to heart, when given a voice. Music has a magnificent way of moving us from one frame of mind to another. When chosen wisely, songs selected can lift the spirit from chaos to calm, desperate to determined, sorrowful to steady, and from wounded to warrior. As we sing and give thanks to God, something shifts within us and our resolve rises up. The purpose of praise is to acknowledge and celebrate the Lord, yet in doing so, we end up strengthened and encouraged as well. May we ever choose to allow the song in our heart to rise, granting words of truth the room to rejuvenate our resolve.

 

O Lord, let our hearts, Give Rise to the Songs

Give rise to the songs;

You’ve planted in us,

To make resolve strong.

Let all that we say,

Be girded in truth;

Our words, a blessing,

In all that we do.

May Your words of love,

Flood our hearts and minds;

So the songs that rise,

Are gracious and kind.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of music. Thank You that Your truth can be sealed in our hearts through songs. Forgive us for not allowing the truth planted in our hearts to rise and flow from us to encourage and lift others up. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would give ear to the songs that resonate in our hearts, allowing Your love, grace and encouragement to flood every part of our being. Show us how to love those around us well, extending the same encouragement and grace to others that You so generously pour out to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing the songs that You have planted deep within us, and encourage others with Your goodness and grace. Amen.

 

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

 

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. – Psalm 96:1

Free to Love and Serve

For dear brothers, you have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other. – (Galatians 5:13, TLB)

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do to destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love. – (Galatians 5:13, MSG)

Brothers and sisters, God has called you to freedom! Hear the call, and do not spoil the gift by using your liberty to engage in what your flesh desires; instead, use it to serve each other as Jesus taught through love. – (Galatians 5:13, VOICE)

 

We are no longer bound by Levitical law, but rather we have been set free by the sacrifice of Christ, to choose to follow Him. A life in Christ is not about living according to the letter of the laws of rituals, but instead it is all about opting to engage in a life of love. If our priority is choosing to love God and love people, we will use our freedom well and do what is pleasing before God. When we elect to engage in sin, we grieve the heart of God and abuse the freedom that was granted in love. May we ever seek to love the Lord and those He places in our path, and trust Him to help us lead a life that honors Him.

 

Brothers and sisters,Generous Giving

We each have been called;

To live in freedom,

By grace, not by law.

The freedom we have,

Is not meant for sin;

But rather to love,

And let others in.

In our gift to choose,

May we opt to serve;

Love as we are loved,

So hope can be heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the freedom we have in You. Thank You that it is not freedom to do wrong, but rather to make the choice to follow You and live a life of love because of the sacrifice that You made on our behalf. Forgive us for abusing our freedom and not allowing Your love to lead us in all that we say and do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to show us how to love in all things. Help us to love and serve one another as Jesus loved and served. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love and serve as You have shown us what it is to love and serve. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

Freedom to Love

For, dear brothers, you have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other. – (Galatians 5:13, TLB)

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. – (Galatians 5:13, NIV)

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love. – (Galatians 5:13, MSG)

 

When we choose to surrender our lives to Christ, we are set free from the bonds of sin. No longer are we enslaved to our sinful selves, but rather we are forgiven and granted the freedom to move forward as Christ is calling us to move. This freedom is not our ticket to do whatever we please, but instead, to seek to do that which pleases the Lord. In Christ, there is nothing that hinders us from loving and serving those around us, and as we do, we are living our lives as God intended. May we rise up in freedom from our former selves, and seek to love and serve all those whom God places on our path.

 

Where we were once trapped,butterflies

Enslaved by our sin;

In Christ we’re set free,

Made right from within.

The freedom we gain,

To love and to serve;

Offering our thanks,

For life undeserved.

As we extend love,

Others may too see;

The goodness of God,

And how love sets free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we have freedom. Thank You that our freedom is not to do whatever we want, but rather we are set free from our former sinful selves, and granted the strength and grace to go forth and love others as You so lavishly love each of us. Forgive us for abusing the freedom that we have been granted, and teach us to trust You more so that we would walk in Your ways and live in the light of Your truth. Show us how to love and serve others, just as You have done for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the freedom that You have granted, and go forth to serve one another in love. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things. Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

Cling to Hope

No one whose hope is in You

will ever be put to shame,

but they will be put to shame

who are treacherous without excuse.

Show me Your ways, O Lord,

teach me Your paths;

guide me in Your truth and teach me,

for You are God my Savior,

and my hope is in You all day long.

– (Psalm 25:3-5)

 

After a trying week, I knew as I woke, that the Lord was reminding me anew of my need to cling to Him, in hope. To hope in Him, is to look forward believing, trusting with complete confidence, that He will work all things together for the ultimate good of those who love Him, regardless of how things appear in the moment. He hold us in the palm of His hands, and leads us on the path He has prepared for us. There are no guarantees that the road with be smooth and simple, in fact we are assured that there will be times of trial; yet our hope, (the assurance that all will turn out for the best), remains, when we place our trust in Christ.

 

When every wall,Cling to Hope

begins closing in;

what we thought sturdy,

we find paper thin –

let hope, rise up again.

When what was certain,

has become unclear;

when waves are crashing,

and we cannot steer –

allow hope, to draw near.

When pain overwhelms,

and it’s hard to breathe;

when what was assured,

has taken a leave –

to hope, let our hearts cleave.

Lord, show me Your ways,

teach me what to do;

for You are my God,

You lead me in truth –

all hope, made new in You.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our hope comes from You. Thank You that when we trust in You, we need not fear, for You hold us in the palm of Your hands. Thank You that as we seek You, You show us the way that we are meant to go, and You grant us all that is needed to do whatever You ask of us. Forgive us for our fearfulness, as it is so difficult to trust when we get weighed down by the weight of the world. Free us from that which binds us, and grant us Your peace. May we walk in the freedom of Your hope, and share the assurance our hearts hold with all whom we encounter. May many come to know salvation in You, as we love people, as You love us. Be glorified in all that we say and do. 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

Love Looks to Act

Luke 10:27-37, is an account of the parable of the Good Samaritan.  The story, is of a man who was traveling toward his destination, when he encountered a band of bad guys who “stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.” (vs. 30)  A priest, one who should have rushed to his aid, being the very nature of his calling; but alas, this man of the cloth, saw the man lying in the road in his horrible state, and crossed the road away from him, and kept walking.  Another man, one whom had been trained in the ways of the law, and again ought to have rushed to the aid of the hurting man, quickly crossed the road and avoided him, hurrying on his way as well.  Finally, a Samaritan, one whom was considered a half-blood, a despised people among the Jews, not only stopped, but came to the rescue of the wounded man, and cared for him beyond just the moment along the side of the road.  He took him to an inn in town, and paid for his care from his own pocket.  Beyond that, he promised to cover any additional expenses that were necessary, all for the sake of an injured stranger.

The question an expert of the law had asked Jesus prior to the telling of the parable, was “And who is my neighbor?” (vs. 29)  After Jesus had told him all of this, Jesus asked the man, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”  The expert in the law replied, “the one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (vs. 36-37)

Three principles about loving our neighbor are highlighted in this passage:

1) Lack of love is often easy to justify, even though it is never right.

2) Our neighbor is anyone of any race, creed, or social background who is in need.

3) Love means acting to meet the person’s need.  Wherever you live, there are needy people close by.  There is no good reason for refusing help.  (taken from NIV footnotes)

Love looks at the pain,Who is My Neighbor 2

straight in the hurt face;

it meets it head on,

comes and extends grace.

Love looks at the need,

and offers a hand;

it shares what we have,

and does what it can.

Love makes no excuse,

turns not a blind eye;

it points to the One,

for whom all sin, died.

Love sees through His eyes,

the value of each;

all His created,

our reason to reach.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love and value each and every one of Your created, equally.  Thank You Jesus, for showing us what Love should look like.  For You loved without limits – You touched the untouchable, You spoke to those whom society deemed socially unacceptable, You dined with sinners, and traveled with fishermen – You did not place value on power nor position nor wealth, but rather on those who were willing to set aside their own agendas and choose to follow You.  Forgive us for thinking we are too busy to help, or that we have too little to make a difference.  Help us to know what we are to do, and how we are to help, in all things and at all times.  Thank You that if we slow down and listen, You will whisper what we are to do.  Help us to hear You.  Teach us to listen and love, as You so lavishly love us.  May we be Your hands, heart and voice to the hurting, and may many come to know You through practical presentations of Your provision.  Be glorified in all that we say and do.  Amen.

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

Healed Hands Reach Out

Healing happens regularly, we just have to be ready to recognize it as such, when it does.  Sometimes it is through a Divine touch, and other times, it is through the miracle of modern medicine.  Either way, God orchestrates each occurrence, so to Him, we ought to give our eternal gratitude.

Beyond thanksgiving, what are we meant to do, when healing happens?  Through this morning’s study of scripture, the following verses really captured my attention: “Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon.  Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her.  So He bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her.  She got up at once and began to wait on them.” – (Luke 4:38-39)

What stands out as so significant, is that not only was she healed, but she embraced her healing and immediately set herself to serve.  Her own expression of gratitude and love for God and for others, was being expressed through the work of her hands – the hands that had only moments before, been too frail with fever to do anything.

When I think of the examples set before me in my own life, I have no excuse but to embrace healing by the hand, and lay hold of life to the fullest.  My dear friend Anne, who went on to be with the Lord in September, had numerous incidents of healing happen along her long and arduous journey with very invasive cancer.  On death’s door more than once between last winter and all summer long; each time she was spared, released from the hospital, and found back in church the next Sunday, serving in the bookstore, and encouraging others.

When healing happens,Healed Hands Reach Out

what will our hearts do?

Will we keep quiet,

joy hidden from view?

If our healing comes,

a purpose must be;

intended for us,

so others too, see.

What better to show,

His love and His grace;

than our own story,

hope that we embrace?

Whatever is healed,

may we freely show;

share hope with others,

so they too, shall know.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Healer.  Thank You that You heal through various avenues, and we cannot expect You to work in just one way.  Thank You for the gift of wisdom that You have granted in modern medicine, and thank You that You use people as Your hands and voice to touch hearts and hurts of one another on Your behalf.  Thank You that You take our tests and turn them into testimonies of Your love and faithfulness.  Forgive us for our fear in the fight, and grant us strength and fortitude to trust You and move forward in faith.  May we each embrace the healing You have done in our hearts and lives, and may we use our own stories to share of Your great love with those around us.  May many come to know You, personally.  Be exalted in all that we do.  Amen.

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

(For an amazing story of God’s healing power, go to charispsallo.wordpress.com)