A Homecoming to Celebrate

How does one adequately express the essence of a ninety-eight year life lived well? I thought about speaking of my Gram’s faithfulness to God, her unwavering love for her family, friends and church, or perhaps the way that she utilized the gifts that God gave her of music and writing and art to touch the hearts of those around her for Him. For a few weeks I allowed my thoughts to simply settle, and just waited for words to come. As I was driving home from work a few weeks ago, and the lines I knew I was to record and share began playing over and over in my mind, I discovered that my portion to share was not about what Gram had done, but rather where her faith and hope had taken her. Those who knew Rosemary Elizabeth Steiner, knew that she was certain of her eternity. Her hope was not in earthly treasures, but rather in her heavenly home. Gram reminded us always that we were precious in her sight, just as we are in Christ’s. May we all rejoice in the hope of our eternity, and celebrate her incredible homecoming together.

 

Precious OnesWith Gram2

Weep not precious ones,

For I am now home;

The view before me,

Is like none I’ve known.

I walk on gold streets,

With angels, I sing;

Each breath full of life,Praise in Mourning

Love’s sweet offerings.

And O when my eyes,

At last saw His face;

So tender and kind,

His welcome embrace.

Gentle were His words,

As He said to me,

“Well done, precious child!”

I fell to my knees…

Though strong were His hands,Strength in the Sorrow

My Savior knelt down;

He placed on my head,

My very own crown.

I could not contain,

The tears in my eyes;

As loved ones appeared,

This hope – realized.

Oh sweet beloveds,

Do not weep for me;

It’s but a moment,

To your setting free.

©Shannon E. Moreno 2017

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of my Gram that I have known for my entire life. Thank You that my children have had the privilege and the pleasure of knowing her too. Thank You for the example and blessing that Rosemary Elizabeth Steiner has been to so many. Forgive us for not recognizing nor appreciating the treasures we have in those around us nearly enough. Teach us to honor and give thanks for all those whom You have placed in our lives. Show us how to love well, just as she loved like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the blessed homecoming of those who faithfully follow You. 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

Strength in the Sorrow

I am sad and tired. Say the word, and make me strong again. – (Psalm 119:28, ERV)

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. – (Psalm 119:28, NIV)

 

Sorrow is a sadness that seems to strangle the soul; it comes and clings to the core and clouds one’s countenance for a season. The magnitude of what is now missing weighs heavily on my heart; though expected, and even celebrated for the blessed homecoming that has happened, there is this space of having to reconcile earthly loss with heavenly gain. This verse perfectly depicts the space where I find my heart. I am sad and tired, exhausted really. However, I know that my strength and hope are held in Christ, and it is by His grace that I can move forward, and it was His strength that carried me through yesterday. Each day is made new, and I need seek Him for today and trust that He will remain present; as He will carry me when I cannot go any further. Already, He has poured out His grace through the kindness of family and friends who have surrounded each of us who are lamenting the loss of my grandmother. This season of sorrow, though seemingly heavy, will be short, and then there will be a time to celebrate a life well lived. May we ever seek the Lord and His strength, as He is trustworthy and true to His word as the giver of strength and holder of hope.

 

The weight of sorrow,Strength in the Sorrow

Makes weary and worn;

This space of sadness,

When hearts are forlorn.

‘Tis but a season,

Deep ache for the lost;

Time to cling to Christ,

He knows what love costs.

Seek the Lord for strength,

He’s true to His word;

His hope shall breathe joy,

And peace undeterred.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You in our seasons of sorrow, and You meet us and grant us strength. Thank You for the peace that passes all understanding, even in the midst of our own pain. Forgive us for trying to trudge forward rather than rely on You for strength. Teach us to trust You more, as it takes but a word from You and we are restored. Show us how to love those around us through their seasons of sorrow, and celebrate with them, their seasons of joy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your strength in our sorrow, and trust You to be true to Your word. Amen.

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

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

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

In Hope, Be Still

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. – (Psalm 62:5, NLT)

I must calm down and turn to God; He is my only hope. – (Psalm 62:5, ERV)

My soul quietly waits for the True God alone because I hope only in Him. – (Psalm 62:5, VOICE)

 

I find myself in a strange space this season, as I face impending endings – with dear friends moving away, a grandmother living out her last days, and then the dealing with that which is in my own heart, as I adapt to the new dynamics in my own life. When I quiet myself before the Lord, I am able to see the hope, even in the sorrow of change. For those moving, God is taking them into a new season, as He also is with those of us remaining here. My grandmother has outlived her spouse, her family members, and all of her closest friends, and for her, she is certain of her destination, so she faithfully waits in hope for her homecoming. For myself, in the stillness of my quiet mornings with God, I am reassured of all that He has for me. His plan and purpose for me has not changed, so I am able to continue to hold fast to the hope that is found in Him alone. May we all slow down and quiet ourselves before the Lord, so that we may hear the still small voice within that reminds us that He is our hope and He has good plans for us.

 

Let all that I am,Anxious for Answers

Wait in stillness here;

For God is my hope,

So I need not fear.

In times of great change,

In seasons of doubt;

Help me trust in You,

To show the way out.

Out where there is hope,

And freedom is found;

Where all of me trusts,

In You, I’ll abound.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our hope and our peace. Thank You that as we wait quietly before You, You reassure us and fill us with Your hope. Forgive us for not slowing down to turn to You. Teach us to quiet ourselves before You in all things and at all times, so that we may hold fast to the hope that is held in You alone. Show us how to love others in a way that gives hope to the hopeless and peace to those who know none. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we wait quietly before You, knowing that all hope is found in You alone. 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

How Great the Father’s Love

I never grow weary of the parable of the lost son, as each time I read it, I am reminded of just how great the Father’s love is for each of us. In this story, the son had squandered wealth he should have never asked for, and had sunk to rock bottom. His found himself in the lowliest of positions, destitute and desperate. When the son assessed his situation, he realized that repentance before his father, and a willingness to work as a hired hand were far better options than his present position. So he got up and went to his father. “but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” – (Luke 15:20)

 

The son recognized his sin, repented, and merely hoped to be made a hired hand. Instead, his father ran to meet him from a long way off, embraced him and celebrated his homecoming. God does the same for each of us when we come to Him with a repentant heart. Though we may come, simply hoping to somehow be seen as “okay”, He does so much more. Christ welcomes us, gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us, and we are adopted as sons and daughters of God Himself. We are granted an eternal inheritance that cannot be taken, and provided promises to propel us along our path. May we receive the glorious gift of God’s grace, and welcome with open arms, the compassion conveyed in His embrace.

 

Foolish and selfish,How Great the Fathers Love

the arrogant son;

ran off and rebelled,

lowly position.

When he had squandered,

all that had been his;

he started longing,

for what he fed pigs.

It was then he knew,

that he must repent;

for his father’s men,

lived far more decent.

Perhaps he would hire,

give a chance, employ;

no longer worthy,

to be called dad’s boy.

So the son set off,

he headed for home;

imagine the awe,

as grace was made known.

For while still far off,

his father, he ran;

to greet and embrace,

this shell of a man.

The gifts that he gave,

assured him his worth;

a chance for new life,

a sense of rebirth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You with a repentant heart, You do for us, just as the father did for his son. You meet us where we are, shower us with Your grace, robe us in Your righteousness, celebrate our homecoming, and call us Your own! Thank You that we are welcomed into Your family, no matter where we have come from. Thank You that Your grace is more than enough to cover our sin and shame, and that You celebrate and embrace each of us as we choose You. Forgive us for thinking that You could not possibly forgive us for what we have done, or that another around us does not deserve the mercy and grace that You give. Teach us to see things through Your eyes, so that we too, will celebrate and embrace each and every individual who comes into Your kingdom. Lead us to love others as You unfailingly love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize how ready You are to receive everyone who comes. Be glorified O God, as we give and receive Your great love. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23