Blessing Beyond the Valley

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. – (Psalm 84:6a, ERV)

Even when their paths wind through the dark valley of tears, they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain. – (Psalm 84:6a, TPT)

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains! – (Psalm 84:6, TLB)

 

The Valley of Weeping is a space I avoid like the plague. I fight and fend off the opportunity for ocular malfunction as if my life depended on it, until I can fight no more. Eventually, the dam breaks and I must succumb to whatever is weighing heavily on my heart. Incredibly, God meets me where I am, and provides comfort and refreshment in ways that go beyond what I would hope or imagine. My most recent source of sorrow has been wrapped up in the injury to my leg and that which it is preventing me from safely doing. The biggest disappointment came when it was determined that it would be dangerous for me to fly to Utah with my team for the game this weekend against our toughest opponent. It was a double hit, as not only did I want to be present to support my team, but I have dearly loved family that live in the same city that I was looking forward to seeing. God in His loving kindness, has blessed me with a man who treasures me and lovingly holds my heart. When he realized how hard this loss was going to be for me, he stepped in and planned a weekend escape to the coast for us. My heart could not have been held more tenderly. The ocean is my sacred space, and there is no place on earth that I feel more at peace nor am as deeply in awe of our Creator, as when I set foot on the sand and watch the waves crash before me.  God knew what I needed and He blessed me with one who loves me as I was designed to be loved. May we ever hold fast to our hope in the Lord through our valleys, for even in our sorrows and disappointments, He makes way to bless our hearts and bring refreshment to remind us of His nearness and care for us, individually.

 

In valleys of tears, wp-15237115979951399911556.jpg

Do not be afraid;

God sees and He hears,

Beside us, He’ll stay.

Where sorrow once reigned,

Refreshment will come;

His presence remains,

’til each day is done.

The place that was dark,

Shall soon see His light;

His love will set spark,

As blessings delight.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You walk beside us through our valleys, and You bring blessing and refreshment where there has been sorrow and pain. Forgive us for fixing our eyes on the darkness that lies before us, rather than the light that You ignite within. Teach us to trust You more when we are in the valleys, as You are always faithful to remain present. Thank You that You bring blessing and refreshment out of spaces where sorrow once reigned. Show us how to love those around us in a way that blesses and refreshes and holds up those who feel stuck in valleys. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on Your refreshment and give You praise for all of our days for Your faithful presence, always. 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

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Trust in Our Trials

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, NLT)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father who is full of mercy, the God of all comfort. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, ERV)

What a wonderful God we have – He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Source of every mercy, and the One who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. – (2 Corinthians 1:3, TLB)

 

God is good. He is full of mercy and comforts us through our hardships and trials. His goodness and grace are not dependent on how we feel, and His mercy knows no end. I am one who craves constant activity. When I am utilizing my body as it was designed, be it to run or hike or partake in my sport of the season, it is in these that I feel free and most alive. Sadly, with the injury I sustained last week, I am unable to do anything that requires weight-bearing on my leg with the fracture and am at a loss for what to do to truly move as my body craves to move. Incredibly, His mercy has been my comfort, and so far, my heart has held hope that the healing process for a fracture is far shorter than that of a more severe sort of injury. This morning I will see the orthopedist and know more about the specific plan for healing and recovery and have a better idea of timeline. As I go, I hold hope that He is my strength and comfort and will be with me. May we ever trust in He who is our Source of mercy, and our generous Provider of comfort and strength through every hardship and trial.

 

The Lord is still good, wp-1522675940523666309780.jpg

When things all seem bad;

Comfort through trials,

What we never had.

He gives us the strength,

To rise and press on;

When in our own mind,

All hope is but gone.

His mercy restores,

Upheld by His grace;

He loves us to life,

Strength to all things face.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, all praise to You, the Father of our Lord Jesus. Thank You that You are full of mercy and that You comfort us and strengthen us in the midst of our hardships and trials. Forgive us for either allowing our circumstances to overwhelm us, or for attempting to power through our trials on our own. Teach us to trust You more, as You are the One who provides all that we need to navigate every difficulty that we face and You cover us with Your love and Your grace. Show us how to love those around us in the same way, so that they too, would know Your comfort, grace, strength, mercy and love in the midst of every trial faced. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all praise for who You are and how You love us in tangible ways in the midst of our struggles. Amen.

 

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

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

Mercy When We Need it Most

So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. – (Hebrews 4:16, NLT) 

Finally, let’s draw near to the throne of favor with confidence so that we can receive mercy and find grace when we need help. – (Hebrews 4:16, CEB) 

So, let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most. – (Hebrews 4:16, VOICE) 

 

I am continually in awe of God’s provision of mercy and grace when we need it most. The last day and a half have been a whirlwind for me. Sadly, on Wednesday night, I sustained an injury to my lower left leg at football practice and struggled to sleep that night because of the pain. His grace was with me, and He provided the strength I needed to get through a day of teaching and maneuvering around campus, be it ever so slowly, until I was able to go get an x-ray. As it turned out, my fibula had been fractured, and my excitement and anticipation for our first game, eight days from now, were dashed. Thankfully, I did not have time for a pity party, as I had a District Championship gymnastics meet that I had to be present and on for, as the head coach of a phenomenal group of girls. Not only was the pain kept under control, but my girls had an incredible meet. We were hopeful for a shot at a win but went in as the second placing team. Beyond His help, there was incredible blessing, as the ladies had the best meet of the season. We ended up with the win, and I was acutely aware of His kindness for me, as I embraced the blessing He provided in spite of the frustration of my own injury. He is good, and His grace and help are present. May we ever go boldly before the throne of grace, as He grants us His mercy and help when we are in need. 

 

Let us choose draw near, wp-1522410516881456130985.jpg

With great confidence; 

For the God of grace, 

Mercy to dispense. 

His help is ready, 

When we are in need; 

In kindness, He helps, 

As we trust, He leads. 

So, boldly choose come, 

Before His great throne; 

Ready to receive, 

For each need is known. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your mercy and grace and help when we need it most. Thank You that we can come boldly before Your throne to receive what we need. Forgive us for not seeking in our need, and teach us to trust You more. Help us to pursue You in both our struggles and our blessings, as You are present in all. Show us how to love those around us in a way that conveys Your grace, mercy, kindness and help to those who need it the most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come before Your throne with thankful hearts, knowing that we are heard and loved beyond what our minds can conceive. Amen. 

 

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

 

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

Faithful to Finish

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – (Philippians 1:6, NLT)

I am sure that the good work God began in you will continue until He completes it on the day when Jesus Christ comes again. – (Philippians 1:6, ERV)

There has never been a doubt in my mind that God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day that Christ Jesus appears. – (Philippians 1:6, MSG)

 

What God begins in us, He will be faithful to finish – even if it seems to be a very slow and labor intensive process. God loves us as we are, wherever we are at, but His love is too great to leave us that way. He takes the good and makes it better, and meets us in our most broken and wounded places and begins to mend and restore and bring beauty where there was once only ugly and injury. If we are willing to allow Him in, He often will take what we perceive to be our most worrisome weakness, and utilize it somehow to magnify His majesty as we rely on His strength. May we ever seek the Lord and trust Him, as He is faithful to finish all that He has begun both in us and through us.

 

God, He is faithful,IMG_3268

For what He begins;

He will continue,

Persist to the end.

Each good work started,

Will continue on;

Until it’s finished,

And old ways are gone.

So ever seek Christ,

And allow Him move;

As His will is done,

And His goodness proved.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the good work You begin in us will continue until it is finished when You return. Thank You that none of us “arrive” or get it right all of the time, yet You are good and full of grace, ever loving us and drawing us nearer to You still. Forgive us for not seeking You in the places we need You most. Teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love well, all those whom You place in our lives to love as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your unfailing love that works within us to finish every good work that has been started by You. 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

Ragnar Ready

As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. – (James 5:11, NIV)

 

These past many months have been all about perseverance. In late April, I sustained a compression fracture in my low back during a Tactical Strength Competition in the first event of three. I did not realize that the pop I felt during my deadlift was so serious, so I completed the competition.

When I went to the doctor on that Monday, I was sent for x-rays immediately. Low and behold, I had broken a bit of my back. Lovely! Not exactly something that fits in my lifestyle, nor my training plan. There was a half-marathon in June, and then Ragnar (a 12-person, 200-mile relay) in July, that I needed to be healthy and strong to participate.

Fast-forward to June, and I became the proud owner of a pricey souvenir t-shirt for a race I was not yet ready to run. Though I have been on a modified training regime since my injury occurred, I simply was not yet ready to run 13.1 miles at once. Allowing that race to go, was my ticket to run Ragnar, and the July race was far more important to me.

Here I am, the day prior to Ragnar, and I am cleared by doctors to run the distance! I ran my first full long run on Monday, and felt good. I was able to complete the mileage equivalent to my longest leg, so I should be good to go. Nerves are certainly present, as is some soreness, but I trust that He will continue to carry me to the finish. Please feel free to pray for safety and health for all of the Ragnar runners as you feel inspired. It is a wonderful, crazy, adventure that I am so grateful to be a part of for the third year in a row!

 

Thousands of runners,

photo (9)

Load up in their vans;

Working together,

The best that we can.

Through heat and the rain,

Through the dark of night;

The runners keep on,

With vests and headlights.

When the sun blazes,

Dear friends, we’ll still run;

’til there is a break,

Van 2 to van 1.

But alas, that rest,

Is very short-lived;

Perhaps for a nap,

Then more grit to give.

Despite the struggle,

Always at the end;

With medals and joy,

“Let’s do this again!”

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness and goodness. Thank You for healthy bodies that can run. Thank You for healing and wholeness and restoration. Forgive us for our frustrations with what we can’t do, and help us celebrate and appreciate what we can do. Teach us to be grateful for everything, as every step, every breath, is a gift. Show us how to honor You with all that we do, and help us to love others well in the process. May many be drawn into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we honor You in all that we do. Amen.

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

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

 

 

Stop Running

This week has been an emotional roller coaster. As someone who tends to stick to the merry-go-round emotionally, the highs and lows, twists and turns, have left me exhausted. The reason I never really get off the merry-go-round is because when something is weighty emotionally, I have always been able to pound it out on the pavement or press it out while lifting heavy.

For the last five weeks, I have had no such outlet. Having sustained a compression fracture in my low back, I was quite limited in the activities I was allowed to do. Walking daily and lifting light weights with my arms only, was not doing the job that my previous go-to activities had done. The unresolved emotional weight I was carrying had completely worn me down, and I began to anxiously anticipate my check back appointment with the specialist. I had placed so much hope in being healed enough for him to release me to run, that I could not even consider an alternative.

My appointment on Thursday was not all that I had hoped it would be. Better than it could have been, but not the “skies have parted” sort of report that I was hoping to receive. I was granted permission to run short distances, if I promised to listen to my body, and stop if my back began to hurt at all. Short distances are better than what I had been able to run for the five weeks prior, so I took the news straight-faced and was on my way. He did imply that running in my upcoming race in June was really not going to happen, but I just smiled and let him know I was more concerned about the one that was coming in July…

I happened to meet with a friend to walk after my appointment with the specialist, and she really challenged my thinking. She asked if I had any idea what God might be trying to speak to me during this time, as He uses these things for good, and the injury really didn’t make sense in the first place. As I paused for but a moment, the answer flooded my mind. I had to lose running physically, to recognize that I needed to stop running emotionally. Why, oh why am I so thick-headed that extreme measures are necessary to get my attention?

Thankfully, my story does take a turn for the better. It seems that as soon as I said, “Yes, Lord, I am willing,” the release came. I submitted spaces that I had been holding, and am determined to allow Him access where it has so long been denied.

Yesterday evening was the first opportunity to test running on the road. My long-time running bestie and I met to go for the maiden voyage. Because she is a nurse, I knew I would get away with NOTHING if it hurt. I prayed that it would not, yet had to be ready in my heart to accept waiting longer if it did. We set out on a modified course of one that we have run many times before. Each stride I took, I was acutely aware of what was going on with my body. Muscles that had been dormant for five weeks, reactivated. My heart seemed to skip a beat, as I realized that though I was aware of muscles being activated in my back, there was no pain at the injury site, and I was all clear! We successfully completed a short run, and I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time. I know there is still healing that has to happen, but I am encouraged that a bit of what was lost has been regained.

With every step on this road to recovery, I have had to stop and place my trust in Him. I have been reminded anew of just how true the following verse is for me:

Give all your worries to Him, because He cares for you. – (1 Peter 5:7, ERV)

May we all take time to give our worries to Him, as He cares for us, individually. His love is greater than any that we have ever known, and He uses every circumstance to draw us closer to Him.

 

In sickness and health,Stop Running

For better or worse;

The Lord’s love is great,

Despite what’s deserved.

If we will take time,

To call on His Name;

The depth of His grace,

Is made for us, plain.

Lord, help us to choose,

To always trust You;

No matter what comes,

For You’ll see us through.

Thank You for the gifts,

That You choose to give;

My hope is in You,

By faith help me live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You and give our worries to You, and You love us back to life. Thank You that when we slow down and listen, You speak to us – intentionally and specifically, so that we may grow ever closer to You. Forgive us for running when we are meant to sit still, and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to be silent before You, so that You can speak to our hearts the things that You desire for us to hear. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they might see You through our kindness and care. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give all of our worries to You, and go forth in the grace that You give. Amen.

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

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

Worship Anyway

Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped. – (Job 1:20, MSG)

When Job heard this, he got up, tore his clothes, and shaved his head to show his sadness. Then he fell to the ground to bow down before God. – (Job 1:20, ERV)

Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. – (Job 1:20, NLT)

 

A few days ago, I passed the one-month mark with my back injury. Typically, I am extraordinarily active, and I participate in high impact workouts at least six days per week. In order for my compression fracture to heal, I was instructed to do no high impact activities. This has left me with few options, and the lack of adrenaline and endorphins released from merely walking, seem to be taking its toll. I am weary, restless, and fighting the darkness that tries to pull me down. The only thing that has kept me somewhat sane in this state of waiting, is an abundance of walking, encouraging friends, and the turning up of my worship music and singing along with all that I am.

This morning, as I read about Job and all of the horrible loss that he endured, as well as how he responded, I am again reminded of what matters most, and how to best combat the fear and frustration. Worship does wonders. As we remove our focus from ourselves and our own situations, and instead fix our eyes and hearts on Him who deserves all of our attention, something shifts and the unbearable becomes bearable. Our burdens are no longer ours alone, and we see Him who is seated on the throne. God who is worthy of all of our worship, is the only One who can see us through our storms. May we mourn what need be mourned, then, despite our sorrow, set our hearts to worship the One who will carry us until our strength is renewed. Let every heart lift praise to our Prince of Peace.

 

When all’s going wrong,photo (3)

The struggle is new;

There’s one place to turn,

Where Love sees us through.

The Lord is our strength,

No matter our state;

As we choose worship,

His love lifts the weight.

He helps bear burdens,

Too heavy for us;

Shines light in darkness,

Grants peace through Jesus.

Despite the struggle,

God is always good;

Let us choose worship,

His grace understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are always good and worthy of our worship. Thank You that despite what we have going on in or around us, You are with us and willing to remain present. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to dictate our view of You, rather than allow You to shape our view of what is going on in and around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and worship You in all things and at all times. Show us how to worship You in spite of what we see, and lead us to love others in such a way, that they too may see how kind and loving You are to all who seek You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we mourn what need be mourned, but recognize in all things, that You deserve our worship. 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

Fear Not in the Face of the Unknown

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

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

 

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

 

Do not be afraid,photo

For the Lord is good;

No matter what comes,

Let‘s trust as we should.

For He is our God,

Where all strength comes from;

Victory granted,

Through faith in His Son.

Do not let worry,

Be what our hearts see;

Instead, let His hand,

Bring our victory.

 

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

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

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

 

Life Lessons Realized on the Road

For more than a year now, I have been committed to running consistently. Since early spring, I have had a running buddy who has become a dear friend. What used to be a labor-intensive chore to talk myself into walking out the door, is now something that I eagerly anticipate. There is a dramatic difference between having to tackle the miles alone, verses having a friend to run beside, encouraging each other and striving together to accomplish whatever goal we have set for ourselves.

 

Our walk with Christ is no different. If we try and go it alone, we can be committed, yet it is far easier to stay on track if we are invested in a body of believers. We need others who are pursuing the same path to walk beside us and encourage us, just as we need to be useful in building up others in the body of Christ.

 

An additional parallel between running and our walk with Christ has to do with pain. When running, there are different types of pain. Some pain is good, as it is simply the body working harder than it is used to, and strength is on the rise. There is other pain that is the body’s warning of injury, that deems rest and recovery a necessity. With Christ, we do not have any guarantees to be free of pain, in fact, we are certain to face trials at times. However, in Him, we are provided what we need to either press through the pain, or to pause, rest and recover, so that we may continue in the direction He has called us to go.

 

Mile after mile,Life Lessons Realized on the Road

He calls us to run;

His path to take,

and work to be done.

Though we’re each called,

to run our own race;

He grants people,

to help set the pace.

Each step we take,

He remains with us;

our strength and help,

precious Lord, Jesus.

Even through pain,

His presence remains;

power when weak,

hope that shall sustain.

 

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

 

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. – (2 Corinthians 13:11)

 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. – (Hebrews 10:24-25)

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to not only commit ourselves to You, but to be invested in Your body. Thank You that You meet us as we move, and You grant us what we need to continue in the direction You are calling us to go. Thank You that even in the places of pressure or pain, You provide Your strength, help and rest, so that we may continue as You are asking. Forgive us for our fearfulness and our lack of perseverance in the press of pain, and teach us to cling to You so that we will rely on Your strength rather than our own. Lead us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they recognize the magnitude of Your majesty. Be exalted O God, as we spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up in our meeting together. Amen.

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

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