Joy Unconstrained

So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. – (Luke 2:16-20, NIV) 

So, they went running and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the feeding box. When they saw the baby, they told what the angels said about this child. Everyone was surprised when they heard what the shepherds told them. Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. The shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking Him for everything they had seen and heard. It was just as the angel had told them. – (Luke 2:16-20, ERV) 

 

After having been visited first by a messenger of God, then bearing witness to an army of heavenly hosts singing praise for the birth of Christ, which the angel of the Lord had announced to them, the shepherds went running to find the One whom the heavens had proclaimed. When they found Jesus lying in a manger, just as the angel had foretold, they were amazed and in awe at how what had been spoken was right there, before their very eyes. Their response was that which it ought to be, as when we receive such incredible news and then observe it coming to pass, we cannot help but share with others, the good that has come. I can only imagine these shepherds leaving the stable and telling anyone and everyone who would listen, the joy of what they had witnessed. The shepherds were likely the sort that kept to themselves, as sheep tending was not the most glamorous of positions. For these men to be so impacted by what they had seen and heard that they ignored their typical itinerary and spoke out, left the hearers surprised and in awe. Meanwhile, Mary took in everything that was spoken and all that she bore witness to, and treasured them in her heart. This young woman had much to take in and ponder, as she had been visited by an angel, spared the shame and potential death for her condition, traveled more than 80 miles to Bethlehem, given birth in a stable, and now was being seen by shepherds who had been visited by the heavenly hosts to tell of this sweet Savior’s birth. All of these things unfolded just as they had been foretold, and the shepherds returned to their fields, forever changed. Songs of praise flowed from them, for they understood the magnitude of the miracle that was lying in a manger. May we remember in awe and wonder, all that took place that night. For unto us, a Savior was born. The Light of the world had come. 

 

Most holy of nights, A Christmas Prayer

The angels proclaimed; 

A Savior is born, 

Such joy unconstrained. 

Shepherds went running, 

To see with their eyes; 

This glorious news, 

In a manger, lies. 

Imagine their joy, 

The blessing to see; 

Just as they’d been told, 

Christ born unto thee. 

Their hearts were bursting, 

At what they had found; 

This scene they beheld, 

The promise was sound. 

Mary, she treasured, 

All that came to be; 

Her precious infant, 

Was Christ, most holy. 

May we too, ponder, 

In wonder and awe; 

Precious unfolding, 

Of all that they saw. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what You say, You will do. Thank You for the incredible way in which Jesus came into the world. Thank You that You sent Your heavenly hosts to ordinary people in an extraordinary way. Thank You that because Jesus came as a baby, He lived and knew, experienced and grew, in the same way that each of us do as we navigate in our own lives. Forgive us for not recognizing in awe and wonder, the incredible way in which You sent heaven to earth, so we could experience rebirth. Teach us to trust in Your promises and to stand in awe as we witness them come to pass. Show us how to love those around us in ways that show of Your faithfulness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate Your arrival and behold Your promises that have come to pass. Amen. 

 

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

 

With all my heart I will praise You, O Lord my God. I will give glory to Your Name forever. – Psalm 86:12

 

Trust and Pray

In You, Lord my God, I put my trust. – (Psalm 25:1, NIV)

To You, O Lord, I pray. – (Psalm 25:1, TLB)

Always I will lift up my soul to You, Eternal One. – (Psalm 25:1, VOICE)

 

Yesterday evening, after we had finished dinner, I began chatting with my son about the details for his homecoming dance that I thought was nearly two weeks away. As we began speaking about specifics, it came to light that the dance is actually taking place this Saturday evening. Normally, that would be no problem, but this weekend I have long since planned to be at the women’s retreat with my church. What is a mom to do when her child is going to his first dance with a date, and is scheduled to be away for the weekend?! The first prayer that flooded my heart was, “Please let him have the date wrong!” Once it was confirmed that the dance was indeed this weekend, I simply and silently called out for help. My sweet husband was nearby and was witness to this new information. As soon as the actual date was discovered, he cancelled his plans for Saturday to help facilitate preparation and transportation for my boy and his date. Though I am not yet certain how every detail will be orchestrated, I am confident that God will make a way. My retreat is in a town that is only 45 minutes away, and we have a sizeable break on Saturday afternoon. It is possible for me to drive home to help him prepare and take photos at the beginning of the evening, prior to returning to my retreat. God is good, and I trust Him to provide a way for this to work for all of us. Perhaps seemingly small, but to my son who adores this sweet young lady, and to this momma who loves her son with her whole heart, the care and provision granted matter more than mere words can express. It is a reminder that He cares about us; about what matters to our heart. God hears each prayer, even those whispered in frustration. May we ever present our prayers and petitions to our Provider, and give Him all glory for His goodness.

 

Let us choose lift up,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

All things as we pray;

For God always hears,

In love, makes a way.

He grants us His grace,

When we need find rest;

Provides solutions,

For His heart knows best.

The things still unseen,

He already knows;

As we pray, we’ll find,

A way He will show.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and that You hear our every prayer. Thank You that we can come to You for all things, no matter how great or small. Forgive us for thinking that the small things are ones that we can “handle” on our own, rather than relying on Your wisdom and grace to lead us and guide us through. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring all things before You in prayer, knowing that You can make a way where there seems to be no way. Show us how to love those around us in ways that provide help and hope that make Your love and faithfulness tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pray to You and place our trust in You. Amen.

 

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

But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. – Psalm 66:19

 

 

 

 

 

Gratitude for Grace

Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – (2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT)

But the Lord said, “My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by My power.” So I will boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can stay in me. – (2 Corinthians 12:9, ERV)

But He answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and My power finds its full expression through your weaknesses.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. – (2 Corinthians 12:9, TPT)

 

As this saga continues with my leg, I have come to a place where my heart is beginning to grasp a tremendous amount of gratitude. Though I feel extraordinarily frustrated with this space of inactivity, I recognize God’s great grace in the discovery and diagnosis in my calf, for if it had gone unnoticed, it could have been fatal. I don’t know that I am necessarily celebrating my weakness, but I certainly am giving gratitude to God for sparing me from what could have been. His strength is enough to carry me through, and His grace reminds me that this is merely a short season to rise and stand strong in Him. May we ever give glory to God in all things, for He is our strength in our weakness, and His grace grants us power to persevere when we have nothing left.

 

God’s grace is enough, Be Full of Joy

Whatever we face;

He will be our strength,

His power in place.

For where we are weak,

The Lord, He is strong;

As we trust in Him,

We will not go wrong.

He’s most clearly seen,

In our weakest space;

Power made perfect,

By His lavish grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your grace is all that we need. Thank You that Your power is made evident in our weakness. Thank You that You meet us in our need and supply Your strength to carry us by Your grace. Forgive us for our frustration and lack of faith when we cannot see past our own fears. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remember that Your power is perfect when we are not strong, so it is okay to turn to You and be carried in our spaces of weakness. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers strength and hope and encouragement in spaces of struggle. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust Your grace to be enough, as Your power prevails when we are weak. Amen.

 

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

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

Owning Our Iniquities

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. – (1 John 1:9, NLT)

But if we own up to our sins, God shows us that He is faithful and just by forgiving all of our sins and purifying us from the pollution of all the bad things we have done. – (1 John 1:9, VOICE)

 

God is faithful to forgive, if we are willing to come before Him and confess that which we have said, thought or done that does not bring honor to His Name. Every unkind thought, every reckless word uttered, and every decision that we make that is not based on loving God and loving people well – He will forgive, if we will choose to own our offenses before the Lord. Not only does He forgive, but Christ deems us righteous before Him, as we are purified from the pollution of our ruptured relationship. May we choose to confess our sins before Him, and trust in His faithfulness to cleanse us from our unrighteousness, so that we may exercise our existence covered in His goodness and grace.

 

If we will confess,Beside Still Waters

all that we have done;

before Jesus Christ,

the battle is won.

For in His Great Name,

we‘ll be forgiven;

if we go to God,

for our wrong living.

He takes all our sin,

and washes us clean;

impurities gone,

and His love is seen.

When we choose stay near,

in step with the Lord;

light and life made plain,

as grace is outpoured.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that if we confess our sins before You, You are faithful and just to forgive us all of our unrighteousness – not because we deserve it, but because You love. Forgive us for not owning our iniquities to confess before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be sensitive to Your still small voice and be quick to confess all that we think, say and do that does not give glory to You. Show us how to walk in forgiveness with others, just as we are forgiven by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they see the goodness that comes from a life lived in You. Be glorified O God, as we confess all of our sins before You and walk out our days free and forgiven from all that would keep us from honoring You. Amen.

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

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

Represent with Thanks

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. – (Colossians 3:17, NLT)

When we belong to Christ, our every word and deed are representing who we are in Him. If we present ourselves from a position of thanks and praise to Him who gives us life and breath and our very being, God is glorified as He ought to be. However, if our natural state is one that withholds gratitude and fails to give glory where glory is due, we are missing opportunities to show His goodness to those around us. Yes, we all struggle and fall short, and it is good for us to also be genuine with people, but we cannot stay stuck in our sorrows or struggles. As those around us see us rise and fight the good fight with a heart full of thanks for Him who gives us strength, they too may be moved to earnestly seek Him. May we choose to give thanks to God in all that we do and say, for He alone is worthy, and we are His representatives.

Let each word and deed,Acceptance As We Acknowledge

be flavored with praise;

giving thanks to God,

for all of our days.

No matter what comes,

the Lord is still good;

faithful and present,

makes grace understood.

May we represent,

our Lord Jesus well;

through word and action,

let our choices tell.

Tell of His glory,

speak of the Lord’s grace;

share of His goodness,

’til all seek His face.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and faithful and kind. Thank You that all thanks and praise belong to You. Thank You that You allow us to be Your representatives to those around us, through our words and deeds, as we choose to give You thanks. Forgive us for not representing You well with our words or deeds, and help us to do and say the things that You would choose. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen to Your leading in every situation and circumstance, giving You thanks all the while. Lead us to love others well, so that they may see You through that which we do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to represent You well with thankful hearts, in all that we say and do. 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

He’ll Lead On Level Ground

Show me what You want me to do. You are my God. Let Your good Spirit lead me over level ground. – (Psalm 143:10, ERV)

As I begin the first day of the second week of school, this is a great way to begin my day. I need His guidance in all that I do, and His Spirit to lead and guide me in the way that is best. This carries over into every area of my life – spiritually, physically, emotionally, and inter-personally. How I go about my day matters. My attitude and approach to all that I do, impacts not only my own children, but more than one-hundred other children each day as well. Add to that all of my colleagues and countless others that I encounter in a day, and how I navigate can have either a positive influence on many, or can be a terrible taste in the mouths of far more than I care to count. It is essential that I am dialed into the Lord and His will, in order to be led in the direction to which I am called. May we each seek the Lord each day as we rise, trusting Him to show us His way, as He leads us over level ground on the path which He has prepared for us.

God, show me Your way,I Will Go

so I may walk well;

following Your lead,

let my life truth tell.

May Your Spirit show,

the path I’m to take;

and Your love light shine,

through choices I make.

May each word I speak,

give glory to You;

and each act be done,

as worship that’s true.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, You show us what You want us to do. Thank You that Your good Spirit leads us over level ground. Thank You that You are our God. Forgive us for not seeking You and attempting to go forth in our own strength. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You in all things at all times, as You are our Source and Supply. Lead us to love others well, so they too may come to know the grace and goodness that is found in You alone. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You, and allow Your Spirit to lead us over level ground. Amen.

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

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Seek Not Approval of Men

One of my least favorite parts of being an educator is the process of being observed and evaluated. I know the intent is good, and it is a way to identify strengths and areas to improve, yet, for me, as one who desires to please, and do things well, it is a painful process, regardless of the kindness of the observer. My own microscope of my craft is far more critical than that by which anyone else may utilize. Each day, my responsibility to God, not men, is to do my best for the kids in my care. This morning, I will be observed as I teach. As I was reading my devotions, the following passage may as well have been the only passage on the page, as it served as a neon sign, reminding me of what matters most. Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. – (Galatians 1:10)

 

Though these words were Paul’s to the Galatians in regards to works verses grace, they serve as an excellent reminder for me this morning. It takes courage to remember that my priority is to please God, not men. If I am serving and honoring God by doing the job that He has called me to do to the best of my ability, then that will be enough. It is not about me, but rather Christ in me, that will be evident anyway. May we each go forth this day in courage, allowing His light to shine brightly before all men, seeking God’s approval, not man’s.

 

Seek not approval,Seek Not the Approval of Men

from our fellow man;

but rather seek God,

to do what we can.

Look to honor Christ,

in all that we do;

give glory to God,

and point to the truth.

Let our hearts be set,

on pleasing the Lord;

not allowing truth,

set aside, ignored.

May we all rise up,

as servants of God;

remaining steadfast,

inspired and awed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not seek the approval of men, but rather we need only seek to serve You. Thank You that Your grace is enough. Thank You that as we come to You and trust in You, You meet us where we are and do the miraculous through our willing hearts. Forgive us for trying to please men, and help us to fix our eyes on You alone. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may do all things as unto You. May many see our heart for You as light and life and love that they have not known before. Let many be led unto You as we seek to honor You in all that we do. Be glorified, O God, as we serve You with our lives. 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

Child-like Contributions

So often, the truth of God’s word comes to life through the faith of children. Kids do not overcomplicate nor overanalyze, but rather they take the truth as it is presented, and make it a part of their reality.

As I was reading in John six this morning, something new stood out to me as significant. When Jesus had asked Philip where they might buy bread for the multitude that had gathered to hear Him, it was not Philip, nor even one of the disciples who brought forth any sort of offering; instead, a boy with five small loaves and two small fish came forward and offered what he had. Jesus took the gracious gift of a child and multiplied it into enough to feed the masses, and more. The miraculous happened after the movement of one young boy, who offered what he had.

“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, He said to the disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” – (John 6:10-13)

I imagine that is why He asks us to have a “child-like” faith. If we simply have faith and do not doubt, we see far more of the miraculous. Our offering is not about how much we give, but rather our heart, as we bring what we have to offer. If we come and believe that He will take what we offer and transform it into something great for His purposes, then we understand the point in giving at all. When we give, our hearts gain opportunity to grow further in our faith. We often get to witness the miraculous in our lives, and the lives of others, simply because we choose to offer what we have.

May I come to You,Child like Contributions

with faith like a child;

and give without doubt,

with a heart beguiled.

Let that which I bring,

to You, give glory;

so many may know,

how great Your story.

May Your truth be told,

through our offering;

our time, talents, gifts,

unto You we bring.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to meet us wherever we are at, and that You readily receive that which we offer. Thank You that You can take something seemingly so small, and use it for something great in Your kingdom. Thank You that it is not up to us to determine how our offering will be used, but rather how we prepare our hearts, and choose to give in faith, trusting that You will utilize all that we offer, for good. Forgive us for holding back for fear that we have to little to offer, or for giving with doubts that anything could possibly be done with that which we bring. Thank You that You determine the value of our offering, not the world. Thank You that You see our time, our talents, and our resources as all equally valuable in touching lives and transforming communities. Teach us to trust You more, and help us to have “child-like” faith as we give of ourselves, trusting that You will do the miraculous as we are willing to move. May many come to know the greatest gift that has ever been given this Christmas, as they come to know the true reason for the season. Help us to love like You, so that You are seen in us. Be glorified in our giving of gifts this sacred season. Amen.

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

Tend Well the Temple

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithin Your temple,

we meditate, O God;

on Your endless love,

may the whole earth applaud.

For Your Name, O God,

is so great to be praised;

to the ends of the earth,

may our voices be raised.

Your mighty right hand,

does hold all righteousness;

knowledge of Your love,

fills our hearts, we are blessed.

As we all rejoice,

as Your people bring praise;

may our hearts hold truth,

the gift each of our days.

For God You are now,

and will be evermore;

our guide to the end,

just as You were before.

Present praise to Him,

for all honor is His;

our hope and promise,

to eternally live.

(Responding to Psalm 48:9-10, 14)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your temple is no longer a specific structure where we are required to present sacrifices in order to stand before You. Thank You that instead, all who call on Your Name and invite You in, become Your body – Your holy temple – as our hearts house Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for the freedom to worship You, and for the joy in knowing our future and our hope, are held in You. Forgive us for not giving the glory that is due, and help our hearts to hold the hope and truth found in You alone. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, so that we may love as we are loved by You. Let our love lead those who are looking, unto Your loving arms. Amen.

Aine 2Anne update: Anne was happily wearing one of her warm new outfits yesterday when I went to visit. She had another outing planned for later in the afternoon, and was very much looking forward to fresh air and being out and about. Please continue to contend for her total healing, and for the hearts and homes of both the couple who has hosted her for the past many days, loving and caring for her so well, and for the pair that will provide her permanent home, beginning this evening. May His grace and peace be yours. With love and gratitude, Shannon

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