Joy in Every Season

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! – (Philippians 4:4, NIV)

Always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy. – (Philippians 4:4, ERV)

Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! – (Philippians 4:4, TPT)

 

This weekend is turning out to be a wonderful blessing, that I had not anticipated. As my husband and my anniversary draws ever nearer, and we have a planned getaway late next week, I did not imagine that not only he and my boys would come this weekend, but my running bestie arrived last evening and stays through late morning, and then as my guys leave on Sunday, my best friend will roll in for an overnight as well. The great thing is that the one who gave me life reaps the blessings, as well as the one whom they come to celebrate. It is a win-win, and yet another reason to rejoice.  The thing is, rejoicing in the Lord is not actually about our circumstances, but rather about our hope that is held in Him. My mom is an incredible model of this each day, as her joy is unwavering and her strength and determination are clearly grounded in God.

Yesterday, Mom had physical therapy and occupational therapy back-to-back, early in the day. During PT, mom walked the length of her hallway with a hemi-walker for the first time, which is incredible, as it is a one-handed walker and the step prior to transitioning to a cane. In fact, at the end of her session, Nick, her physical therapist, recommended that we find a cane for her before Monday. Occupational therapy was equally great, as the brace for mom’s shoulder that we had ordered had arrived, and Larissa adjusted and educated us both as to how it is to be placed and worn. Mom did a great job with her exercises for OT as well, and did some walking with her shoulder brace and hemi-walker, just to see what it would feel like to not need someone help hold her arm to keep it from hanging painfully. It was fantastic! After lunch, mom wisely took a rest, knowing that the afternoon and evening would be busy. Two of her sweet neighbors stopped by to visit and check in, while another neighbor from next door, was reinforcing brackets on some of mom’s sprinkler lines (just because he is kind). Shortly after the neighbors had gone, by dear friend, Ashley arrived. Mom was just as excited as I was, and we all shared dinner together, followed by a fun evening of teaching her our favorite game. Apparently, we taught her too well, as she won the last round. 😉 Mom had another good night of sleep, and we are hoping to sneak mom down to the paved path by the river so that we can at least get a good walk in, since mom’s chair will not allow a jog pace. We will see what mom is up for, but either way, the visit is great for all of us. May we ever rejoice in the Lord, for He has given us life and breath, hope and love; to Him be the glory forever.

 

Rejoice in the Lord,

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This morning’s view… ❤

As each season comes;

For He is faithful,

His will shall be done.

Despite what we see,

He’s working within;

Making a new way,

As we choose trust Him.

Find joy in trials,

And joy in success;

For God is in both,

His heart is to bless.

Look to the heavens,

Ever seek His face;

For there you’ll find joy,

And unending grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we always have joy in You, no matter our circumstances. Forgive us for losing sight of that joy when troubles or trials cloud our view. Teach us to fix our eyes on You above all else, so that we never lose sight of the joy we have forever. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads joy in all circumstances, and extends grace to those needing it the most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and find joy in our hope in You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10b

Grace in the Grief

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NIV) 

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV) 

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NLT) 

 

This morning, as I checked my messages, there was a notice from a friend at church informing me that an incredible lady – a wife and mother about my age, has passed. It has been both inspiring and heartbreaking to watch, for she battled cancer with courage and strength over the last several years, as her family fought alongside her. There was a sense of maintaining as much normalcy as possible, despite the devastation that all must have been feeling. The comfort in this heart-breaking loss, is that she is free of the pain and walking in glory. That being said, her husband has lost his best friend, and the children have lost their mother. Grief is a heavy space. As I pray for the family and those closest to her, I lay hold of the promise held in this verse in Matthew. Though it is not an easy road, God will bring comfort. God will bring His perfect peace. May we hold fast to the promise that He holds the grieving in His hands, and God is our Source of comfort in every season. 

 

God of all comfort, Being Made New

We lean into Thee; 

For the ones mourning, 

Bring Your grace and peace. 

No words that we speak, 

Nor acts done in love; 

Can comfort the grief, 

Like You Lord, above. 

For You know each heart, 

How to help the ache; 

To soothe the sorrow, 

And mend the heartbreak. 

O Lord, be near them, 

As they walk through pain; 

Be their close comfort, 

‘til just love remains. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our comfort when we grieve. Thank You that You know this family and all that they need. Thank You that You will bring exactly what they need to navigate their new normal. Forgive us for forgetting our own mortality, and not receiving each day we wake as an incredible gift of time that not all are afforded. Teach us to appreciate each new day, and to seek You in all things. Show us how to love well, those who are mourning. May we be used in the practical as well as the prayerful. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for being our comfort and our peace, even in the most heartbreaking of times. Amen.

 

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

(There is) A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

Hope Deferred and Dreams Fulfilled

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. – (Proverbs 13:12, NLT)

Hope that is delayed makes you sad, but a wish that comes true fills you with joy. – (Proverbs 13:12, ERV)

Hope delayed makes the heart sick; longing fulfilled is a tree of life. – (Proverbs 13:12, CEB)

 

Hope is a powerful thing, as it reminds our hearts that things will turn out for the best. When something comes along and interrupts our hope, the heaviness that hangs in our hearts can make us feel sad to the point of sickness. However, just the opposite is true when we delight in a dream fulfilled. The joy that floods our hearts makes hope soar as we witness what we’ve longed for come to fruition. Presently, I am in a paradoxical position. One hope that I was holding was dolefully dashed yesterday, yet daily, I am in the midst of walking out a dream being fulfilled and am experiencing joy and blessings that my heart has not known before. God is good, even so, and we have to recognize that He can use both the hopes dashed and dreams fulfilled to bless and encourage those around us as we walk forward in faith, trusting in His goodness. May we rise up in assurance, holding fast to the One in whom all hope dwells, as He is the fulfiller of dreams and granter of joy.

 

When hope is deferred,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Heaviness does dwell;

For dreams that are dashed,

Make the heart unwell.

Yet, dreams that come true,

Bring life and great joy;

Our longings fulfilled,

New faith to employ.

Both dashed dreams and joy,

Are places for good;

For His love’s made known,

His peace understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are with us when hopes are dashed and when dreams are fulfilled. Thank You that Your grace and love remain with us through it all. Thank You that You can use both to bless and encourage those around us, as our story is an opportunity to demonstrate Your faithfulness. Forgive us for allowing the heaviness of our disappointment in a hope deferred to weigh us down too long. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would grieve our loss and seek comfort in You. Show us how to encourage those in a space of deferred hope, so that they may see fulfillment in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the One who truly fills our hearts with joy as the granter of new life. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to our hope in You, no matter what comes and goes around us. Amen.

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

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

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

Praise in Mourning

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, NIV)

All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, VOICE)

 

This morning, I find myself in a strange space – torn between grief and gladness; sorting between sorrow and surrender. My whole life, my grandmother has been a very real and powerful presence. Her faithfulness to our Heavenly Father, paired with the gifts that He birthed within her that she used without restraint, have been the model that I have looked to, and one whom I admire most. Gram has always been the glue that bound our family to one another. Despite differences, each of us has had a unique and treasured gift in the bond that she has formed with us, individually. The ability to see the value in people and set their heart at peace simply by being in her presence, is a trait that drew so many unto her.  She lived a live unrivaled, faithful in all that she endeavored. Gram served her family, her church, her community, and above all, God. The love grown deep in the quiet time on her knees, overflowed to all who knew her. No matter what I was going through, I knew she was covering me in prayer. After ninety-eight years on the earth, and a long year of colon cancer taking root and stealing the independence she had always known, she went home to be with Jesus last night. I am grateful that her suffering was not prolonged, yet grieve not getting one more visit. God is compassionate, and He offers comfort to us as we mourn. Though there is much sorrow for the personal loss of the phenomenal person my grandmother was, it is tempered with great joy in knowing that she is singing with our Savior. No more sorrow, no more pain. I imagine a great celebration as she is reunited with so many who have gone before her. May we all take comfort in the Father of compassion and comfort, as we give praise for the blessings we’ve been given in the time we had.

 

This morning, it seems appropriate that I share one of my grandma’s poems rather than write my own. Her words are likely the echo of what she is singing right now.

 

Song of Praise – by Rosemary Steiner

Glory and majestyPraise in Mourning

To the Lord God,

Who created the Heavens

And the Earth;

And breathed life

Into all creatures,

Even us, His people.

He gave meaning to our being;

He called us brothers

And prepared a place

For us with Him

Eternally.

He breathed life into us,

Transcendent life of the Spirit –

Gave us eyes to see beauty,

Ears to hear truth,

Wills to choose His way.

The heavens reflect His omnipotence

Time without end.

God enjoys the music of the spheres,

But hears our dissonance

With compassion,

How worthy is He.

How infinite His love.

Holy be His Name forever. Amen.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift that so many of us were given through the long and loving life of Gram. Thank You that though we mourn her passing, we can celebrate her homecoming with You. Thank You that we have the blessed hope of being together again for all of eternity in heaven. Forgive us for our fears and regrets, and teach us to trust You so that we might fully live out each of our days, according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to love with compassion and comfort, all those who grieve. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they see the faithfulness that has been fulfilled through the life of my grandmother. Be glorified O God, as we choose to give You praise, even as we mourn. Amen.

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

There is a time to cry, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

Light in Loss

I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. – (Lamentations 3:20-22, NLT)

 

Yesterday evening, in our neighboring city, a police officer’s life was senselessly taken. While the officer was responding to a domestic dispute call, he was shot and killed. My heart aches for the family of the slain officer, and for the families of all those who serve and protect our nation. Each time one of our officers in blue is shot, more fear finds way into the hearts of families who anxiously wait for their loved ones to return home at the conclusion of each shift. Grief cannot help but grip our hearts at the brokenness of humanity. When a hero falls, it is indeed a time to grieve. However, we must still dare to hope. Even in the darkness, light finds way to shine. The faithful love of the Lord does not end, and His mercies never cease. Though there were children holed up in the hiding place with the shooter, other officers were able to safely remove them from the scene. Despite the devastation of the situation, there were innocent lives that were spared that could have been lost. May we remember those who have been lost, yet continue to hold hope in the One who loves without limits and is merciful forever.

 

Let us not forget,light-in-loss

Those who serve us well;

With honor, protect,

As crime they dispel.

For far too often,

Lives of these are lost;

As they seek to serve,

The ultimate cost.

May we remember,

Those who serve in blue;

Let mercy and hope,

Surround and renew.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that even in times of grief, You are our hope. Thank You that Your faithful love never ends and Your mercies continue forever. Forgive us for losing sight of these truths in the throes of devastation and heartache. Teach us to trust in You more, so that we would cling to You regardless of what is happening around us. Show us how to love those around us, particularly officers and families of officers in light of recent events. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hope in You in all things and at all times. 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

 

Comfort in Times of Trouble

Last evening I was beyond blessed to have some dear friends drive into Denver as a family photo (8)to spend time with me. They picked me up at my hotel, and whisked me away to tour an area that they thought I might enjoy in the city. My heart was overflowing with joy and gratitude to spend time together, as we shared a meal, caught each other up on the happenings of our lives, and wandered until we landed in an incredible book store. All was going splendidly, as I had found a book, Melissa and the trio of youngers were sharing a silly story and Josh and his eldest meandered through a section of interest nearby, until the calm, sweet mood was suddenly disrupted with a feeling of foreboding unrest.

We could hear it before we could see what was stirring. Soon, a long stream of unhappy people were marching past the bookstore’s front window, waving signs – some in peaceful protest, and others in a bit more menacing fashion. Two of the kids had very different responses. One was calling it a parade, whereas the other responded with a bit of fear. In my own heart, I felt that we needed to stay put until the crowd had passed, as the potential for unrest seemed high.

I had not heard the news this week, as I have been at a conference for work, so I have been in a bit of an isolated bubble. As we ultimately attempted to make way back to my hotel so that I could be dropped off and my friends could get home to get their kiddos to bed, we discovered that the march was growing, as a five-minute drive back, took more than twenty minutes, due to rerouting around those protesting.

Once back in my hotel, I was able to have conversation with my friends from work with whom I am traveling, and discover what has gone on over the past several days. It is impossible to not have a heavy heart, knowing that lives have been lost and fingers are pointing at entire professions and populations, rather than those specific individuals who snapped.

 

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. – (2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT)

 

In this sort of scenario, all that I know to do is to seek the Lord. There are no easy answers. God knows. He cares. The One who hand-crafted each of us, the perpetrators, the victims, and all those left to grieve – He loves each of us as His created. God will comfort us as we seek Him, and when we know His comfort, we are able to extend the same to others. May we choose to seek His comfort in this seeming chaos, and offer the very same comfort to those around us.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

When darkness floods in,The Lord Listens

And fear starts to rise;

Let us not forget,

The hope God supplies.

He is our comfort,

When chaos ensues;

The great Prince of Peace,

When we get bad news.

Far greater is He,

Our Strength and our Light;

Than troubles that come,

No matter our plight.

Seek the Lord above,

For comfort indeed;

Then we can share well,

With others in need.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our comfort in the midst of trouble. Thank You that as You comfort us, we can then go and comfort others in the same way. Forgive us for our fear, frustration and thoughts of blame of anything other than the sinful brokenness of humanity. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek Your help, strength and comfort, so that we too, could extend comfort to those around us. Help us to be Your hands, heart and voice to those in need of comfort. Show us how to love well. May many come to find peace and comfort in You, despite the world around us. Amen.

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

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

Displaying His Splendor

He has sent me to comfort those who are sad, those in Zion who mourn. I will take away the ashes on their head, and I will give them a crown. I will take away their sadness, and I will give them the oil of happiness. I will take away their sorrow, and I will give them celebration clothes. He sent me to name them ‘Good Trees’ and ‘The Lord’s Wonderful Plant.’ – (Isaiah 61:3, ERV)

 

To provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. – (Isaiah 61:3, NIV)

 

Though these were the words of Isaiah to the people of Israel, Jesus quoted these words in Luke as He read to the people in the synagogue. When we receive Jesus personally, His Spirit in us fulfills these promises for us. Only Christ can turn our ashes into something beautiful, and replace our mourning and despair with songs of praise. Despite what we go through, when we have Christ in us, we can be seen as righteous and pillars of strength in Him. His splendor is displayed through His Spirit in us. May we allow the Lord to be our comfort, our crown and our reason to celebrate as we go forth on this new day that He has made. Let His Spirit within us, display His splendor, as we operate in His righteousness in all that we say and do.

 

Our comfort in sorrow,The Reason for Reverence

our glory in grief;

the Lord’s our provision,

and place of relief.

He takes all our ashes,

and gives us a crown;

pours the oil of gladness,

when our hearts are down.

As despair overwhelms,

He comes alongside;

gives us garments of praise,

hope from the inside.

His Spirit within us,

will rise and stand tall;

righteous in His splendor,

a witness to all.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You comfort those who mourn. Thank You that You bestow beauty for ashes and give hope in place of despair. Thank You that You give gladness and reason to praise. Thank You that Your Spirit within us rises up, and You call us righteous; allowing Your splendor to be seen through us. Forgive us for forgetting how very near You are in all things and at all times. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will look to You in our sorrow and grief, and will celebrate You in our seasons of joy. Lead us to love others in such a way, that Your righteousness and splendor may be seen through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we receive all that You offer, and go forth in all that we have been given. Amen.

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

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

Great Joy in His Grace

Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – (Nehemiah 8:9-10)

Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them. – (Nehemiah 8:12)

 

When the people heard God’s word and recognized just how far they had fallen from His will, they wept. God saw their sincerity and rather than smite them, He called for celebration. His people who had wandered and lost their way, were now found and on the road to restoration. God’s heart was for them to go out and share their abundance with those who had none, so that all could partake in celebrating His goodness and grace. There is great joy that He brings, when we choose to celebrate and honor our Holy King. May we come before Him with repentant hearts, grateful for His mercy and grace, celebrating what a glorious and good God we serve!

 

Each day is sacred,Great Joy in His Grace

a gift from our King;

may we give glory,

our whole offering.

Let’s set our hearts right,

repentantly seek;

our Heavenly Lord,

Who strengthens the weak.

Give glory to Him,

celebrate with joy;

all His righteousness,

free gifts to employ.

He makes His word known,

allows our hearts hear;

the truth of His love,

as He holds us near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You open our understanding and forgive us as we come to You with repentant hearts. Thank You that You do not want us to dwell on our past mistakes, but rather You invite us to celebrate Your goodness and grace, and share of all that You have done with those around us. Forgive us for dwelling on our errors and not embracing the grace that You freely give so that we can then go forth and share of Your goodness and grace with those around us. Teach us to trust You more so that we will turn away from all unrighteousness, and seek to serve You alone. May we love others as You so generously love each of us. Let those who are looking, find a forever faith in You. Be glorified, Lord God, as we go forth giving thanks for Your grace. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

He Hears Our Cry

“O Lord, I say to You, ‘You are my God.’ Hear, O Lord, My cry for mercy.” – (Psalm 140:6)

Yesterday afternoon, just prior to setting out for a gathering with dear friends, I learned that a gal whom I had grown up with, had lost her seventeen-year-old son. My heart filled with heaviness on her behalf, and all I could do was cry out to God, to cover she and her family with His peace and His presence in this horrific time of grief.
Too often, young lives end long before they seemingly should. These treasures that we are given from God, are cut short, leaving so many to grieve and wonder why. There is hope, despite the desperate tragedy. When we raise and instruct them in the ways that they are meant to go, the truth will be hidden in their hearts. Our ultimate hope is held in our eternal reunion. Though there is a seemingly agonizing season of separation on earth, imagine an eternity together…

When precious lives lost,Shan

young taken too soon;

hearts torn and broken,

with Christ, come commune.

He is the sweet space,

where healing begins;

He is the hope held,

as anguish extends.

Every cry heard,

that we offer up;

He’ll hold heart and hand,

and carry our cup.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our God, and that You hear our every cry. Thank You that You are merciful and kind, and that You are able to bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Forgive us for our fearfulness, and help us to place all into Your hands. Please provide Your peace and comfort to those who are in desperate spaces of despair, and move hearts and minds to surround the hurting to extend Your comfort and calm, simply by being present. May we love as You love us, and may many come to know the security and safety found in salvation in You. Be exalted in everything that we say and do. Amen.

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

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