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

 

Blessed are the Merciful

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. – (Matthew 5:7, NIV)

Great blessings belong to those who show mercy to others. Mercy will be given to them. – (Matthew 5:7, ERV)

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being “care-full”, you find yourselves cared for. – (Matthew 5:7, MSG)

 

As a teacher, extending mercy is a necessary part of my job. Often, the extension of a listening ear after an offense, provides opportunity to redirect with kindness and compassion, rather than a knee-jerk reaction that may feel warranted. Last semester, I had a few challenging classes. One class in particular, was especially trying most days. Each day, I chose to start fresh, and hoped for better than the day prior. I wish I could say it all ended up “roses”, but until the final day, it was a struggle that required His strength. This week has marked the beginning of a new semester and new groups of students. My new classes have a very different feel than the last, and I am encouraged as I enjoy the new. That being said, two of my most difficult students last semester, have made a point to come say hello on the way to their final class of the day each day this week. They come to my door, where I greet students as they arrive, look longingly into my classroom, and tell me that they miss my class. I am fairly certain that the blessing in hearing from these cherubs, comes as a result of them knowing that I cared, despite their struggle to behave. God is merciful to us. We have been given grace and forgiveness that we do not deserve. As we are called to do likewise, may we fix our eyes and hearts on Him. Blessings come in curious ways when we choose to extend mercy.

 

Great blessings belong, Shackles No More

To the merciful;

For we’ve been given,

God’s grace, plentiful.

Favor unfounded,

No punishment due;

May we too extend,

Mercy that makes new.

New to discover,

The right way to go;

Blessings uncovered,

As forgiveness grows.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of mercy that Your pour out to us, as You forgive and teach us the ways we are meant to go. Forgive us for the times that we have not extended mercy where we should. Give us Your eyes to see and Your heart to understand, so that we will be merciful as You are to us. Show us how to love those around us through mishaps and shortcomings, and teach us what mercy ought to look like in the circumstances we encounter each day. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to extend mercy in the same way that You so generously grant mercy to us. Amen.

 

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

Do not withhold Your mercy from me, Lord; may Your love and faithfulness always protect me. – Psalm 40:11

The Power of Praise and Worship

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. – (Colossians 3:16, NIV)

Let the teaching of Christ live inside you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – (Colossians 3:16, ERV)

Remember what Christ taught, and let His words enrich your lives and make you wise; teach them to each other and sing them out in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to the Lord with thankful hearts. – (Colossians 3:16, TLB)

 

On Sunday, a friend of mine, who happens to be our worship pastor, appropriately spoke about the power of praise and worship. She gave several examples in scripture where it specifically calls us to praise and worship. Next, she defined praise as the expression of admiration, thanks, appreciation and approval for all that God has done. Worship, she explained was an attitude of the heart that should be reserved for God alone; the surrendering of every part of our lives to God’s control. As I went about my day yesterday, I mulled over the words she had spoken. I was intentional in my music selection as I went about my day, both driving and when I slowed down to work on a seated task. The three main benefits found in worship and praise are: 1) It realigns our focus on God. 2) It increases our awareness of God’s presence. 3) It pushes back darkness.

For me, I found all three to be true, as I had discovered myself frustrated and in a less than stellar space having spent the morning cleaning, only to happen upon sugar ants in my kitchen cupboards. After having cleaned out and throwing away many things, I left to spend time in our new home. While seated on the couch writing thank you notes, I selected some of my favorite praise and worship music to listen to. In the process of writing out notes of gratitude and hearing lyrics that gave God glory, my irritation was erased and I found thankfulness overflowing from my heart. The simple act of writing out thanks with music that set my heart right, realigned my focus on the blessings that God has granted, made me aware of His love for me, and pushed back the darkness that had attempted make way through my frustration. God is good and He is faithful to meet us and set our hearts right as we seek Him. May we ever offer our praise to He alone who is worthy, allowing our every breath and heartbeat to worship our Maker.

 

Let all that we know, The Power of Praise and Worship

Of Christ come and dwell;

In our hearts and minds,

As our lives shall tell.

Tell of His goodness,

Sing of His great grace;

With thanks, choose worship,

Both now and always.

For songs sung to God,

With hearts fixed on Him;

Chase away darkness,

And let His light in.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of praise and worship. Thank You that we are called to do both. Thank You that as we do, our hearts are realigned and we become more aware of You. Thank You that worship and praise push back darkness and allow Your light to fill us again. Forgive us for allowing the chaos and challenges to avert our focus from You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rise with a song in our hearts, reminding us of the goodness of Your love and Your power within us as we praise You. Show us how to love those around us as we walk out our days as an offering of praise and worship unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all of our praise with hearts set to worship You forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore I will praise You, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of Your Name. – 2 Samuel 22:50

 

 

Seek to Speak with Grace

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. – (Colossians 4:6, NLT)

When you talk, you should always be kind and wise. Then you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should. – (Colossians 4:6, ERV)

Your speech should always be gracious and sprinkled with insight so that you may know how to respond to every person. – (Colossians 4:6, CEB)

 

The words that we speak either attract others and build trust, or they repel and turn people away. If we are seeking the Lord’s wisdom and pursuing insight through listening to others rather than speaking without hearing, we find opportunity to extend grace and give the right response at the right time. May we make the choice to use our voice for kindness, as we seek first to understand so that we may offer insight and respond the right way.

 

Let all that we say, unseal-my-lips

Be gracious and kind;

As we choose to hear,

Keep Your will in mind.

Grant us Your insight,

So we respond well;

Your grace extended,

With what we choose tell.

May our chosen words,

Demonstrate Your grace;

So all come to know,

Safety in Your space.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for those who were gracious and kind to us, who were able to answer us with wisdom and the right response at the right time. Thank You that as we seek You and trust You, You provide the same opportunity for us to be available for others. Forgive us for not seeking Your wisdom and grace, or for not slowing down to really listen first. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose kindness and grace, ever being quick to listen and slow to speak. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we extend Your kindness and grace and offer the right response at the right time. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen to Your leading so that our every conversation is full of Your grace. 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

That Precious Baby

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. – (Luke 2:33, NLT)

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. – (Luke 2:33, MSG)

Mary and Joseph stood there, awestruck over what was being said about their baby. – (Luke 2:33, TPT)

 

It is difficult to fathom being in Mary and Joseph’s shoes. Though they had both been visited by an angel that told them that she would be with child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and then they were visited just after Jesus was born by shepherds who worshiped this newborn baby because of an angelic announcement, the significance of their Son likely began to hit home a bit more as Simeon unpacked what God had promised about Him. As parents, we always have great hopes for our children from the moment we know that they have been conceived. For most, we can only imagine and dream of who they might become, and pray that they will grow and live well, according to God’s design. For Mary and Joseph, that design was astounding. Their Son was to be the Savior of the world. However, His position would not be without a painful price. I wonder if the two of them could even fully process the prophetic promise presented before them, as they held their eight-day-old baby boy. What a wonder indeed. Jesus grew and was faithful to fulfill all that to which He had been called. His sacrifice is our salvation. May we ponder in wonder and awe, the incredible sacrifice and willing obedience displayed by Mary and Joseph while Jesus was so young, and the faithfulness of God forever.

 

Imagine hearing, Majesty Moved from the Cradle to the Cross

Such uncertain words;

Both saving and pain,

The gist of that heard.

A precious baby,

Innocent and new;

Would bear such a weight,

For me and for you.

That precious baby,

Grew into a man;

Who helped, healed and saved,

Faithful to God’s plan.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Mary and Joseph, as parents who were willing to faithfully follow what God asked of them, no matter the cost. Thank You for sending You one and only Son to save us and restore us to right relationship with You. Forgive us for not embracing the mercy and grace that You freely give, if only we choose to come before You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be willing to walk wherever You lead, no matter what risk is required. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your mercy and grace in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your faithfulness forever, and trust You to lead us wherever You call us to go. Amen.

 

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

 

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

To Know Your Nearness

Seek the Lord while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near. – (Isaiah 55:6, NLT)

So you should look for the Lord before it is too late. You should call to Him now, while He is near. – (Isaiah 55:6, ERV)

Seek God while He’s here to be found, pray to Him while He’s close at hand. – (Isaiah 55:6, MSG)

 

God does not move away from us, yet the choices we make can create barriers that make seeking Him and hearing His voice more and more difficult. When we understand the greatness of God, and how good He is, it becomes increasingly more important that we call on the Lord often and keep short accounts. As we do, we remove that which hinders our hearts from seeking and hearing God, and remain ever aware of His nearness. Conversely, when we sit in our sin or get so caught up in the hectic pace of life that we neglect to acknowledge our need for God, He begins to feel far away. We are created to commune with our Creator. May we seek the Lord with our whole hearts, as He is always close at hand and ready to hear us.

 

Be not too busy, To Know Your Nearness

To seek the Lord’s face;

For He is waiting,

With mercy and grace.

We must keep seeking,

It’s where faith is found;

God’s ever present,

His love shall abound.

Let us not neglect,

To pray to the Lord;

We need know He’s near,

To find hope restored.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, we find You. Thank You that as we call on Your Name, we come to know Your nearness. Forgive us for staying stuck in our own sin, or for allowing the hectic pace of life to keep us from seeking You. Teach us to make You a priority, as knowing Your presence matters most. Help us to seek You in all things, so that we would know Your heart to guide us. Show us how to love those around us in tangible ways that make Your nearness known. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and find You, as we seek You with all of our heart. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Always…

Always be full of joy. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ERV)

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)

 

My heart is full, and there is joy despite the sorrow of loss. After hearing more stories of the incredible life that my Gram led, I am even more convinced than I was before that she did exactly what we are called to do in the verses above. Her heart was lined with joy that poured out to all who had the blessing to be near. Gram prayed unwaveringly for each of us, and the words that left her lips were laced with gratitude. Even in the final few months of her life, when she was ill and in agony, she found joy in the nearness of family and friends, and would still love and live and laugh in spite of the pain. Though I will miss her terribly, the lilt of her laughter, the warmth of her smile, the kindness of her encouraging words – the essence of who she was in Christ, will forever live in my heart and mind until we again embrace in eternity. Her example is one that continues to challenge me to seek the Lord in all things. In all circumstances, I can find His joy and express gratitude for who He is, simply because I am loved well. May we never stop praying, as it is in our space of communing with Christ that we find joy and gratitude rises up within us.

 

Such fullness of joy,Always

Shall rise and find way;

When we seek the Lord,

In all things, choose pray.

No matter what comes,

Let thanks leave our lips;

For God who is love,

He strengthens, equips.

To pray and be full,

Of thanks and His joy;

God’s own will for us,

Through grace He’ll employ.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and pray to You, we always have reason to be thankful and full of joy. Thank You that this is Your will for us, as You have designed us to have Your joy dwelling within us all of our days. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to steal our joy or to keep us from giving thanks for the good that exists in spite of the difficult. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would never stop praying and praising You. Thank You for the incredible example of my Grandmother, who prayed without ceasing and was overflowing with thankfulness and joy. Show us how to love others in a way that demonstrates our gratitude and allows the joy that You give to overflow and bless every life we are near. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are filled with Your joy, pray always, and give thanks in all things. Amen.

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

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Joy in Answers Spoken

A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is! – (Proverbs 15:23, NKJV)

People are happy when they give a good answer. And there is nothing better than the right word spoken at the right time. – (Proverbs 15:23, ERV)

 

I imagine we all have been both the bearer and the recipient of a well-timed word that brought joy. It is a treasure to have the privilege of being the one whom God utilizes at just the right time, to deliver that which someone most needs to hear. So often, the words that are received in this way, are simply those that flow freely from us, as we interact with others in love. As we walk in step with our Savior, and have our heart open to His, we are more apt to love as He loves, and speak as He speaks to us. May we invest our hearts in hearing His, so that we might be bearers of joy through the words that we speak to others.

 

As we follow God,The Power of the Tongue

He’ll use words spoken;

To bring others joy,

Hope to the broken.

For at the right time,

The words that we speak;

Offered in His love,

Shine light others seek.

So let there be joy,

Through our spoken word;

As we offer love,

May His heart be heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the times that You have utilized the words that we speak to bring joy to another, and for the times that others have brought us joy through their spoken words. Thank You that You lead us and guide us in Your words and Your timing, if we choose listen to You. Forgive us for not seeking or listening as we should. Teach us to trust and rely on You for words to speak in every season, as You alone, have the words that others need to hear. Grant us Your words to speak that offer joy to those around us, so that we may build up, encourage and point people to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to give us the words to speak, so that we may answer in due season, and bring peace and joy to those around us. 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

 

 

Trust in His Timing

As soon as I pray, You answer me; You encourage me by giving me strength. – (Psalm 138:3, NLT)

 

God is faithful to meet us when we pray, however, His answers do not always look the way that we hope they might. Sometimes, the Lord answers only with encouragement and strength to keep pressing on for another day, and then the next morning, will do the same again. We are a fast food, instant-gratification society, so waiting for answers from the Lord is difficult. Answers sought online can be “googled” and discovered in mere moments, but those presented before the Lord can take days, weeks, months or even years. His answers come in a gentle whisper, not in a bright pop-up screen. Our hearts must be intently focused on hearing His, or we may miss what He has been speaking all along. Beyond the hearing, often there is an additional step required of us – the actual doing. I cannot think of a single example of my own asking something of the Lord that did not require some sort of step of faith on my part as well. May we pray in faith, trusting that He hears and answers, ready to act in obedience as He encourages us and gives us His strength.

 

Let’s pray to the Lord,Healed Hands Reach Out

In faith, may we seek;

The Lord for answers,

His love is complete.

The Lord is faithful,

And goes to great length;

He hears our heart’s cry,

Builds up and grants strength.

It may take some time,

To hear the Lord’s heart;

To see the answers,

We’ve sought from the start.

Be patient in prayer,

And trust in His time;

The Lord’s always good,

With the best in mind.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You hear our prayers and that You answer us. Thank You that though You don’t answer in our timeframe, You encourage us and give us strength as we wait. Thank You that Your timing is perfect, and we can ALWAYS trust that You have the very best for us in mind. Forgive us for our lack of patience and persistence. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would wait patiently on You for the answers we seek, and trust You and Your perfect timing in all things. Show us what steps we are meant to take to walk forward toward the answers You have for us. Lead us to love those around us in a way that helps them see Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust Your timing for answers. Amen.

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

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

He Speaks in the Silence

He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the Lord. – (2 Kings 4:33, NLT)

 

Elisha modeled how we are meant to pray. So often, life is jam-packed with distractions that keep us from hearing the voice of the Lord when we come before Him.

“One of the reasons we need a quiet place to pray is because God’s answers are often quiet. We must be still in order to follow His lead.” – (Adventurous Prayer)

It is only in the hearing that we are able to begin doing that which we are called to do. If we don’t listen, how can we learn? If we don’t learn, how can we be led? May we be intentional to find a quiet space in our day where we can spend solo time in prayer, so that we may clearly hear His leading in all things.

 

As we come to pray,Anxious for Answers

Let’s find quiet space;

So we better hear,

His love and His grace.

Though in a whisper,

His answers are clear;

He makes the way known,

If we seek to hear.

Let every heart,

With longing, come seek;

He’s gentle and kind,

Gives strength to the weak.

A new life awaits,

Those who seek shall find;

Ask and He answers,

Gives new hope defined.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You desire time spent in communication with us, where our focus is entirely on You. Forgive us for not getting ourselves quiet before You. Teach us to be intentional with our time, so that we are still in Your presence, creating opportunity to hear what You have to speak to our hearts. Show us how to love those around us in the way that You are calling us to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we make time to be alone before You in silence, so that we may better hear Your heart. 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