Living and Loving Well

This is how we know what real love is: Jesus gave His life for us. So we should give our lives for each other as brothers and sisters. – (1 John 3:16, ERV)

 

As I spent much of yesterday with my mom, moving the belongings of my dearly departed grandmother, I recognized how much this rang true in her life. It was because she gave her love, her encouragement, her help and her hope, that my Gram’s life so impacted everyone around her. Daily, she gave her life away. She did not cling closely to things, but rather was generous with all. Gram, in her lifetime had experienced times of very little during the Great Depression; and a time of plenty, after years of being wise with what she had. Throughout my entire existence, she always lavishly gave of herself. Whenever we would meet, a strong squeeze of a hug would embrace me, despite her dainty size. Her words and kindness did the very same for my heart, and whatever exchange we would have during a visit, always lasted long after our seemingly short time together. Even now, I can imagine her laughter and way with words, as they were so readily given away. She was my truest tangible example of real love, outside of my own household growing up. If I can emulate but a fraction of her love and generosity to those around me, then I will have lived my life very well. May we each seek to give away, the greatest gifts that we have been given.

 

The beauty that’s seen,With Gram2

When we realize;

The look of real love,

Hope before our eyes.

As we give away,

All we’re meant to be;

People see the hope,

That Jesus sets free.

Because Jesus gave,

We also can give;

All that we’ve become,

So all might choose live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to show us through His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, what real love is all about. Thank You too, for the beautiful, tangible examples of the faithful that You have placed in our lives, that show us again and again, what it means to give our lives away. Thank You for the lifelong gift of my Gram, and the role model that she was for all who knew her. Forgive us for withholding the very things that You have placed in us to share with those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would willingly and generously give all that we are to all that we do. Show us how to love those around us with our lives. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give all that we are to living and loving well. 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

We Are Commanded to Love

If we say we love God but hate any of our brothers or sisters in His family, we are liars. If we don’t love someone we have seen, how can we love God? We have never even seen Him. God gave us this command: If we love God, we must also love each other as brothers and sisters. – (1 John 4:20-21, ERV)

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. – (1 John 4:20-21, NIV)

 

We cannot both love and hate and still live as children of God. The command that we have been given is to love God and love people. It does not mean that we will adore everyone we meet, but rather our hearts can have His intentions for all – kindness, compassion, and light, just as He loves us. Often, it takes time and prayer to view others through Christ’s lens. Everyone has a story and each of us have been created with a purpose. No one is more or less valuable to God. When we come to a place where we allow our eyes to focus through His filter, we become better equipped to see the good, or at least the need, to love those around us. Though we cannot see God, clear evidence of His existence is everywhere. Likewise, though we may not know why a person is the way they are, if they have life and breath, they are here for a reason and need and deserve love – the same as each of us. May we seek the Lord and His loving grace, so that we may go forth and love well, all whom He places in our path.

 

God calls us to love,Faith and Hope in Action

Love cannot be earned;

Brothers and sisters,

True love can be learned.

For as we love God,

He changes our heart;

Gives us eyes to see,

And grace He imparts.

For we aren’t of God,

If love’s not our choice;

To extend to all,

With heart, hand and voice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You not only command us to love You and love those around us as sisters and brothers, but You show us how to love and grant us what we need so that we may love as we are loved. Forgive us for our lack of love toward our sisters and brothers, and teach us to love others in tangible and practical ways. Show us how to love those whom we see, so that they might seek You, whom they do not. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and depend on You and Your direction and grace, to love those around us as You call us to love. Amen.

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

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

The Sincere Seeker

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. – (Hebrews 11:6, NLT)

 

God does not preface this verse with how much faith we must have to come to Him, but rather we must have enough to seek Him. In other parts of His Holy Word, it speaks of the power of faith even as small as a mustard seed. Faith is not something that we somehow muster on our own, but rather as we pursue the presence of the living God, our faith grows. Part of the reward for those who sincerely seek the Lord, is a deeper understanding of His existence. He is pleased with our faithful pursuit of Him, and honors our seeking with His lavish love and greater insight to who He is and how He loves. May we begin each day with the faithful pursuit of God, as He is our Source and Supply in all things, and is well-pleased with those who choose sincerely seek Him.

 

May we all choose rise,

caught-in-awe-sylvia-carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

Have faith and believe;

As we seek the Lord,

His love we’ll receive.

For the Lord is pleased,

When by faith, we seek;

Drawing near in faith,

To hear what He speaks.

The Lord will reward,

A heart that is true;

The sincere seeker,

In Him is made new.

 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You with sincere hearts, seeking You, trusting that You exist, You are pleased with us and reward us with more of You. Thank You that it takes only a small seed of faith for You to move mountains on our behalf. Forgive us for our doubts and lack of faith. Teach us to trust You more, and to have a confident trust in You in all things and at all times, as You are far greater than everything that we face. Show us how to love, encourage and support those around us, so that they may find faith and follow after You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sincerely seek You with a child-like faith, as You are our loving Father who meets us however we are when we choose to seek You. 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

 

Familial Friends

Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. – (Proverbs 18:24, MSG)

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. – (Proverbs 18:24, NLT)

 

As I have begun the preparation process to return back to the classroom for the new school year, I have had the joy of reconnecting with colleagues whom I also have the privilege of calling friends. This summer, I have had the pleasure of spending time with several friends, whom I adore. I am overwhelmed when I consider the corners of my community. Between relatives, church family, lifelong friends, fitness friends, colleagues, and more, I have this beautiful circle of people on whom I can depend, that mean the world to me. Some have been in my life for decades, whereas others are relatively new members of my tribe. However, all are equal contributors to what I consider the wealth of my existence. These true friends have become family, and it is my charge to do likewise for those around me. May we all invest well in those who the Lord brings into our lives, so that we can be the truest of friends that build up and share a familial bond.

 

People come and go,photo (14)

For not all invest;

But those who are true,

Are the very best.

The truest of friends,

Remain ever near;

Their hearts are faithful,

Their motives are clear.

A close friend for us,

Is like family;

Grants courage and grace,

And strength to just be.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessing of sweet friendships. Thank You for the gift of true friends in so many different facets of my life. Forgive me for the times that I have not been a good friend to those around me. Teach me to trust You more, so that I would hear Your heart for each person that I encounter, and that I might love well, as You love me. Show us how to be true friends to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks for our friendships and go forth to be true friends to those around us. Amen.

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

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

Fear Not in the Face of the Unknown

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. – (Isaiah 41:10, NLT)

Don’t worry – I am with you. Don’t be afraid – I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. I will support you with my right hand that brings victory. – (Isaiah 41:10, ERV)

 

These words are incredibly encouraging reminders of truth, as I am standing in the face of the unknown. Over the weekend, as I competed in a Tactical Strength Challenge, I sustained an injury in my first event (of three). At the time, this verse proved to be true, as I had some fearful and worried moments, as pain began to radiate from the small of my back. I had to decide whether or not to keep going. For me, it was a decision to trust in His strength, as He had already brought me so far. He did sustain me, and ultimately, I did exceedingly better than I anticipated I would, considering I was finishing the competition in pain. After seeing a doctor and having x-rays taken, fear and discouragement again are seeking foothold, as the injury has turned out to be more significant than anticipated. Somehow, I suffered a compression fracture in my low back during my third and final deadlift. Now I am at an impasse, where I must slow down and take a break from my normal routine of training, as I seek the best possible solution for a speedy recovery. Fear and discouragement are fighting for a foothold, as movement is so much a part of my existence. I know God is good, and that He holds me in His hand. In Him, just as He sustained me and granted me strength, despite pain, He will lead me in the direction I am meant to go to find healing and wholeness once again. The Lord will uphold me, and I can trust in Him. May we give our fears and worries to Him, and allow the Lord to be our strength and support, as all victory comes from Him.

 

Do not be afraid,photo

For the Lord is good;

No matter what comes,

Let‘s trust as we should.

For He is our God,

Where all strength comes from;

Victory granted,

Through faith in His Son.

Do not let worry,

Be what our hearts see;

Instead, let His hand,

Bring our victory.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we need not be afraid nor discouraged, for You are our strength and our help. Thank You that You hold us up with Your victorious right hand. Forgive us for allowing fear and discouragement to find footing in our hearts when unexpected things come at us and knock us down. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our strength and our hope, and all that we need is found in You. Show us how to walk victorious in You, so that we might be an encouragement to those around us. Lead us to love well, all who are afraid or discouraged, so that they too may find Your hope and help. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your strength and help, and choose to place fear and discouragement in Your hands. Amen.

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

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

 

Learning to Love With All

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. – (Deuteronomy 6:5, NIV)

You must love Him with all your heart, soul and might. – (Deuteronomy 6:5, TLB)

Love God, your God, with your whole heart; love Him with all that’s in you, love Him with all you’ve got! – (Deuteronomy 6:5, MSG)

 

We are not called to just passively “love” God, but rather, we are called to love Him with all that we are – heart, soul and strength. Every element of our existence is enjoined to exalt the Eternal in love. He who gave us the heart that beats within us, the strength to speak, to step, to think, to live and to love – He is whom we are called to love, as God first loved us. The more that we set ourselves to love the Lord, the better equipped we are to love one another. His love equips us to love Him, and to do the same for those around us. May we consciously choose to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul and strength, and allow His love to be that which flows through us to those who are around us.

 

To truly love God,An Appropriate Answer to Anger

we must go the length;

love with heart and soul,

and all of our strength.

Before we could love,

the Lord, He loved us;

providing His hope,

through His Son, Jesus.

God does not withhold,

life and hope He gives;

as we choose receive,

we find love and live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love You with all of our heart, soul and strength, as that is the way that we come to know the fullness of Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You first loved us, and that You called us unto Yourself, making a way for us to come before You and be called Your children. Forgive us for withholding any part of our heart, soul or strength from loving You. Teach us to trust You more, and show us any place in us that is not fully given to You. Lead us to love others as we are loved by You, so that they too, may come to know Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to love You with all of our heart, all of our soul and all of our strength. 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

Seeing With the Heart

For though we have never yet seen God, when we love each other God lives in us, and His love within us grows even stronger. – (1 John 4:12, TLB)

No one has ever seen God with human eyes; but if we love one another, God truly lives in us. Consequently God’s love has accomplished its mission among us. – (1 John 4:12, VOICE)

 

Like so many things, our eyes do not need to see in order for our heart to feel. The closest parallel that I can think of in my own life is when I was pregnant with my boys. Though I could not see them, I loved them from the moment that I knew they were growing within me. My love for them deepened with each passing day, despite my inability to see them face-to-face. The evidence of their existence within me grew over time, just as the evidence of Christ in us, grows as we come to know Him more. His love and light and life, become nearly as apparent as a woman’s growing womb, when a life is invested in loving God and one another. May we seek to love God and others with all that we are, so that His love within us grows greater each day. Let us allow His heart to lead us to love as we are called to love.

 

Though no eye has seen,

The Anchor for Our Soul

image found on Pinterest

God with human eye;

His heart’s been made known,

this none can deny.

For where there is love,

the Lord truly lives;

it is by His grace,

that we can choose give.

He gives us the strength,

the heart to love well;

fulfill His purpose,

love grows stronger still.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we have not seen You with human eyes, we have seen the evidence of You everywhere. Thank You that Your love lives in us as we invest our lives in You. Thank You that as we love each other, we accomplish the very thing that You are calling us to do. Forgive us for not allowing Your love to work through us, as we neglect to embrace that which our heart clearly knows. Teach us to trust the truth that You show us, so that Your love within us grows ever stronger. Help us to love others with the very same love that You give so generously unto us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they see and understand the love that they receive. Be glorified O God, as we love not because of what we see with our eyes, but what we know within our hearts. Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Remembering to 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)

On this Patriot’s Day, as we remember the terrible tragedy that struck the safety of our own soil, we can also recall a time that our nation banded together as a united front, to help the hurting, care well for the courageous that continued to search for the missing, and sought the strength and security that our Savior alone provided. Our help to make sense of something so senseless, could only come as we chose to cling to Christ.

Time has passed, and the new generation of kids I have in my classroom were not even born yet when 9/11 occurred. Many of them, have no personal connection to the event, as they have not traveled beyond the West Coast, or for some, even outside of our state. They have never known life without scanners and security guards at government buildings and hospitals, nor do many have connections to fire fighters, law enforcement officers, or military personnel. History needs to be shared. Each generations ought to be made aware of what has gone before them, so they gain empathy and compassion for those who serve and protect our nation. Today, this verse is more personal, as I lift my eyes to the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, and trust Him to lead and guide me; to show me how to create connections that are relevant and personal for seventh grade students, to an event that occurred prior to their existence. May we each take time to remember the lost, and the lives of those who continue to live with the holes in their hearts all of these years later. Be our help Lord.

Remember the time,911

when tragedy struck;

nation was silenced,

in shock we were stuck.

The world fell silent,

in horror, we watched;

such acts of terror,

and countless lives lost.

The chaos encased,

in great clouds of dust;

everywhere running,

which sense could they trust?

It did not take long,

for heroes to rise;

to search for missing,

help those still alive.

Even days after,

the tragedy fell;

people were praying,

holding hope as well.

Out of the ashes,

came beauty indeed;

people united,

to rise and meet needs.

Let us remember,

the community;

together triumphs,

with trust, unity.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we lift our eyes up to You, You are where our help comes from. Thank You that we can trust and depend on You, even on the darkest of days. Thank You that You bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Thank You that You alone, can turn tragedy into triumph. Forgive us for allowing tragedy, trials, grief, or our own lack of hope in what we cannot see to keep us from looking to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would lift our eyes to You, no matter what comes our way – for You are our Help and our Hope, always. Lead us to love and encourage others, no matter what circumstance life has them in, and may many find their hope forever in You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to be our Help and our Hope, always. 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

Glory to God

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being. – (Revelation 4:11, NIV)

 

Our Lord and God! You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power. You made all things. Everything existed and was made because You wanted it. – (Revelation 4:11, ERV)

 

Worthy is defined as having great merit, character or value; and our Lord God, sets the standard for each. All power is His, and He alone, deserves all glory and honor from us, His created. Additionally, all that was created and brought into existence, was done purposefully; because God wanted it to be so. We are His workmanship, how can we help but praise Him?

 

The Lord created,Glory to God

He spoke and breathed life;

all things that exist,

Love’s true sacrifice.

Though He knew our hearts,

and choices we’d make;

He called us to be,

we’re not a mistake.

At just the right time,

He set forth His plan;

to again restore,

relations with man.

Jesus came for us,

so that we might know;

the depth of His love,

sacrificial show.

Death could not defeat,

the power of God;

He rose and gave life,

let our lives applaud.

May we all rise up,

and offer all praise;

give glory to God,

with all of our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Lord and God, worthy of all glory and honor and praise! Thank You that all power is Yours, as You created all things intentionally. Thank You that though You knew that we would sin and sever right relationship with You, You breathed life into us anyway. Thank You that You made the way for us to be restored unto You through Your Son, Jesus. Thank You Jesus, for bearing the weight of all of our sin and shame, so that we could enter into a right relationship with You. Forgive us for taking Your grace for granted, or for not giving proper praise unto You, who deserves ALL of our praise. Teach us to trust You more, so that our entire life would be a reflection of our gratitude for Your goodness. Lead us to love others as You so lavishly love each of us. May many come into a saving relationship with You, as they come to understand who You are, and what You have done for each of us, individually. Be exalted Lord God, as we glorify You with all of our days. Amen.

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

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