Consider Greater Love

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – (Hebrews 10:24, NIV)

We should think about each other to see how we can encourage each other to show love and do good works. – (Hebrews 10:24, ERV)

Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds. – (Hebrews 10:24, VOICE)

 

Yesterday was an “off” day at school. A few of my students who have the propensity to struggle with everyday expectations, each had a difficult day. I am not sure whether it can be attributed to the full moon, the numerous guest teachers on campus, the changing seasons, or perhaps an off day due to a wrench in their normal routine, but whatever the cause, the challenge remained and I was extraordinarily grateful for colleagues who are kind and encouraging. Thankfully, I learned long ago to not take a student’s display of distress, personally. Rather, it sets me on a path of seeking to discover more of what motivates and helps calm the child best, so that I might better anticipate and diffuse potential outbursts on a day that they are struggling. Both the presence of para-educators and an interpreter, and later that of administrators who were looking for students, became a source of help that inspired me to greater love, despite my temporary frustration. Sometimes, just knowing that someone else sees the reality of what has taken place, is enough to feel validated in the moment and motivation to let go and move on. There is no “perfect” in humanity. We will always irritate and frustrate, as we as become irritated and frustrated by others. What we do with it matters most. When we choose to love and extend grace, even when it is seemingly undeserved, we are offering the very thing that we have been given through life in Christ. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength, so that we may choose to love and do good works, always.

 

Help us consider, Show the Love

How to choose to love;

To do the good works,

We’re called to get done.

Love is not about,

How much it’s deserved;

But rather a choice,

We choose as we serve.

At our very worst,

God still loves with grace;

So too, we should love,

The whole human race.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us no matter how we come or what we have done. Thank You that Your grace covers our shortcomings. Forgive us for the times that we do not choose love or good works, despite the clear call that You have given. Teach us to trust and rely on You for the strength and endurance to love even when it is challenging. Show us how to love those who are struggling in practical ways that help them understand goodness and grace, and to encourage others to do the same. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to love and do good, encouraging one another as we are encouraged by You, according to Your perfect plan to which we are called. Amen.

 

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

The second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” No other commandment is greater than these. – Mark 12:31

Blessed

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. – (Proverbs 31:28, NIV)

Her children bless her; her husband praises her. – (Proverbs 31:28, CEB)

Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise. – (Proverbs 31:28, MSG)

 

Though I cannot even begin to measure up to the Proverbs 31 woman, I am beyond blessed by both my children and my husband. God has granted me the greatest gift I’ve ever known through the lives of my boys, and a love I never knew was possible through the loving union of marriage to my husband, partner and friend. I am blessed and praised by these guys, even when I am least deserving, and each one of them is fiercely protective and willing to help whenever I ask. Perhaps it is a recognition of the blessings that He has bestowed upon us, far more than a living up to a certain standard or expectation. Because I am loved well, I desperately desire and am driven to do the same. I imagine that is God’s intention for all of us. As we realize the depth and breadth of His love for us, we are inspired to go and love likewise. May we seek our Savior who loves us more than we can comprehend, so that we too, can go and love those around us without reservation.

 

Such wonder indeed,

wp-15350288286757860031671821938770.jpg

Photos by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography<3

Is love we receive;

The blessings bestowed,

When we are in need.

The gift of children,

The love of a spouse;

Love made tangible,

Within my own house.

Let’s freely receive,

God’s love and His grace;

So we too can love,

In His tender ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of the loved ones whom You bring into our lives – be it children, spouses, family or friends. Thank You that You make Your pleasure known through the words of others in a way that inspires us to ever pursue You and Your ways. Forgive us for taking Your love or that of those whom You have blessed us with for granted. Teach us to appreciate and value the goodness and grace that You generously give in tangible ways. Show us how to lavishly love those whom You place in our path, so that they too, may come to know the greatness of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the love and the grace, and the tender embrace, that You wrap around us through the people whom You have given. Amen.

 

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

 

Surely You have granted him/(her) unending blessings and made him/(her) glad with the joy of Your presence. – Psalm 21:6

The Will of the Word

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV)

All Scripture is given by God. And all Scripture is useful for teaching and showing people what is wrong in their lives. It is useful for correcting faults and teaching the right way to live. Using the Scriptures, those who serve God will be prepared and will have everything they need to do every good work. – (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ERV)

Every Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good. – (2 Timothy 3:16-17, CEB)

 

Instruction manuals make navigation through uncharted territory manageable. Whether it is a map to aid in finding a destination, directions as to how to construct something new, or simply a set of expectations and guidelines in a place of employment, each serves a purpose to provide necessary information to navigate successfully. The Bible has the same purpose for our everyday lives. There are so many things that we stumble upon that may at first appear uncertain, yet when we seek the Lord and read His word, we soon discover that there is a direction that we are meant to go with all things. Despite having been written so many generations ago, the lessons we can glean from Scriptures are timeless. May we ever turn to the Lord in trust, and invest time in His word so that we will know how we are meant to live well.

 

May we turn in trust, The Word of God

To God and His word;

To know what is right,

To test what is heard.

For Holy Scriptures,

Are useful indeed;

To teach and to train,

To His will, we heed.

Let us keep seeking,

What God has to say;

So we may do well,

And walk in His way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Word. Thank You that we can turn to You and read Your Word to know how to live according to Your will. Thank You that all Scripture is given by You to help us live well. Forgive us for neglecting to invest time in Your word, or for ignoring the truth that we know. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hear all that You say and walk in Your way, as we are equipped to do good work. Show us how to love those around us well. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest time in Your Word, and allow You to train us and equip us to do good things according to Your perfect will. Amen.

 

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

 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Pass It On

We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation – God’s fame and fortune, the marvelous things He has done. – (Psalm 78:4, MSG)

We will not keep these things secret from their children; rather, we will tell the coming generation all about the praise that is due to the Eternal One. We will tell them all about His strength, power, and wonders. – (Psalm 78:4, VOICE)

 

The challenges and struggles that stand before today’s youth require faith more than ever before. We live in a culture that floods young minds with temptation to be lured a hundred different directions without the constants that they desperately desire. If we do not teach them of the wonders of God and show them hope in a world where hope is so often lost, the future that follows them will be bleak. However, when children are raised to know hope in Him, they rise up into adulthood with a filter that helps them fix their eyes on that which is to take them in the direction they are meant to go, rather than being tugged by too many things. In my own life, hearing of the marvelous things that He had done in the lives of those before me, inspired a great desire to discover all that He had for me as well. May we not keep God’s goodness to ourselves, but ever share of His wonders with our children, so that they too may seek the Lord and His strength in their lives.

 

Keep not to ourselves, IMG_2344

God’s glory and might;

We are meant to share,

Give young ones insight.

Tell of His wonder,

The good He has done;

Speak of the Lord’s strength,

The battles He’s won.

Let’s give our kids hope,

Where often there’s none;

Share His faithfulness,

Our Almighty One.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown Your faithfulness to us through the generations before us. Thank You for those who did not stay silent, but rather shared with us the glory of Your majesty and power. Thank You for the privilege to pass along the same to the next generation that follows us. Forgive us for keeping things to ourselves that were meant to be shared, as the coming generation needs to know the wonder of Your majesty. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen for Your voice and hear Your heart as to how and what we are meant to share. Show us how to love those who follow after us in a way that gives them hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we share of the marvelous things that You have done with those whom You have placed in our charge. 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

Rise Again

Good people might fall again and again, but they always get up. – (Proverbs 24:16a, ERV)

God-loyal people don’t stay down long; soon they’re up on their feet again. – (Proverbs 24:16, MSG)

For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again. – (Proverbs 24:16, NIV)

 

When the going gets tough, the tough keep going. I have witnessed incredible strength demonstrated in the lives of people in the midst of crazy adversity. What I noticed, is that each of those who had strength to rise when most would have crumbled, were firmly established in their faith. Despite their circumstances and what they were able to see before them, their faith did not waiver. Each time I observe such unflappable faith, I am both in awe and inspired to invest more of my heart in the spaces where I struggle to trust. The goodness of God gives way to strength and hope and help in such spaces, if we are willing to place our trust in Him. We must ask in order for Him to answer, as God does not force His way in, nor does He overtake our hearts and minds. We have a free will and must choose. May we ever make the choice to use our voice and intentionally trust in the Lord and His strength, so that each time we fall, we rise up again.

 

We can be certain,Rise Again

That trials will come;

Our resolve tested,

Where will we choose run?

When we trust the Lord,

Seek His strength and might;

We gain the resolve,

To rise up and fight.

No matter the falls,

The times we’re knocked down;

If we trust in Him,

Strength to rise is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we trust in You, You give us the strength and resolve to rise again, each time we fall down. Forgive us for the times that we have fallen from Your grace with the choices we have made, and stayed stuck, rather than seeking You for help and forgiveness. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You when we are down, and when things are going well. Help us to keep short accounts, so that we do not divert from the path that You have placed before us. Show us how to love and lead those around us well, so that they too, may rise again, each time that they fall. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You and Your strength to help us rise again, each time we fall. 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

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,

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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

 

 

Setting Our Sails

Sometimes a course change becomes necessary when we feel ill-prepared. Though we may have seen signs of storm clouds or shifting winds, the change of direction still somehow feels overwhelming. In the turn, there is a pause where the wind actually leaves the sails completely, only to allow us to move them so that they may reset and be filled again, allowing the vessel to glide on in a new direction. Though merely a matter of moments, that pause can feel eternal. The emptying, resetting, and readying to be refilled…

 

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the One who will keep you on track. – (Proverbs 3:5-6, The Message)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. – (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)

 

What we do in that pause is what matters most. Do we trust in Him, or do we allow the wind to blow us to and fro? As we seek Christ and His will, He will show us the direction that He intends for us to take. His very best for us will always be the way we are led. The best way is not always the easiest way, (as in fact there are almost always obstacles to overcome), but His way is the way that brings us to the place to which we are called, and that is the way that is best. May we trust in the Lord with our whole heart and not depend on what we perceive. Let us seek Him and His will in all that we do, and allow Him to lead us.

 

When sailing along,Setting Our Sails

and the wind has died;

we’ve done all we can,

all things, we have tried.

It is in that space,

where trust is required;

choose to wait in hope,

faith Christ has inspired.

For when all seems lost,

adrift in despair;

His sweet wind shall blow,

to move on from there.

When His wind does come,

we must choose respond;

or we’ll stay in stuck,

rather than sail on.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can trust You with all that we are and that we don’t need to try and figure it all out on our own. Thank You that when we listen for Your voice, You will speak to us and show is which direction we are to go. Forgive us for our lack of trust or for running ahead and choosing not to slow down to seek You to hear Your heart. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You with all that we are in all that we do. Show us how to love others in the same way that You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we wait patiently when the wind is shifting, and trust in You to guide us along the course to which we have been called. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

 

Listen, Learn and Love

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

 

Our purpose for studying God’s word ought not be to simply gain knowledge, but rather to understand God and His will, so that we can go forth and do that which He is asking. His word equips us with the tools we need to choose wisely as we go. As we grow in our understanding of who God is and what is good and pleasing before Him, our faith is strengthened to step out and do the good that He is calling us to do. May we invest wisely, our time in His word, and receive the instruction, correction and direction that the Lord is extending as we study and listen to Him. Let us go forth equipped for every good work which He is calling us to do.

 

God’s word is God-breathed,Listen Learn and Love

and granted for all;

to lead and to guide,

to help us not fall.

The Lord raises us,

in His righteousness;

equipped and inspired,

to be a witness.

Not just with our mouth,

but with hands to serve;

as we do good work,

the Lord’s heart is heard.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your word. Thank You that You teach, rebuke, correct and train us in righteousness as we invest in the study of Your word. Thank You that what is gained is not meant to be an idle space of new knowledge, but rather it is an equipping for us to go forth and do good works, according to Your perfect plan. Forgive us for failing to invest our time into the study of Your word, or for standing idly by, when we know what we are meant to do for the good of those around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will invest in the equipping of our hearts and minds in the truth of Your word, and then take what You teach us and go forth to do good works in the community around us. Lead us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we listen, learn and love as You have designed each of us to do. Amen.

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

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

When Anger Arises

In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. – (Ephesians 4:26-27)

 

Anger can be a tricky topic. Just as any other emotion, there are times when anger is an appropriate response to a given situation. That being said, it is always a matter of how we handle our anger that determines whether or not we are responding in righteousness, or running on the road to ruin. Bottling builds bitterness, and outburts wreak havoc, yet Paul says to deal with anger immediately. Ideally, our objective ought to be to approach the offender in love, with the intent of reconciliation, not retaliation. If a resolution is not readily available, we can, at the very least, submit the situation to our Savior in prayer. As we speak out the words of anger, hurt and frustration openly and honestly before Him, there comes a softening, and He equips us with the capacity to pray for the very person or people that inspired the onset of anger. Through prayer and seeking to set things right, the devil has no hold on the destruction that was originally intended. When anger rises, may we seek to set things right.

 

When fury rises,When Anger Arises

don’t fold and give in;

let not the sun set,

in anger, don’t sin.

Give not the devil,

a foothold to take;

seek to reconcile,

and hatred shall break.

Pray for the people,

who wrong or do harm;

go and confront them,

grace through outstretched arms.

Seek to extend peace,

where chaos has reigned;

love as Jesus loved,

let truth be proclaimed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that anger is not all bad, provided we do not sin when it rises up within us. Thank You that Jesus modeled what righteous anger looked like, when merchants were preventing people from worshiping You and You cleared the temple courts so that they could again enter the space to focus their attention toward You. Forgive us for the times that we have sinned in our anger – for thoughtlessly venting, for bottling it up and becoming bitter – and help us to seek You first so that we act according to Your will, when anger arises. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might respond in righteousness, regardless of the situation or circumstance. Lead us to love others as You so generously love each of us. May many come to know the saving grace that is available in You. Be glorified Lord God, as we act appropriately when anger arises. 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

 

Seek Not Approval of Men

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

 

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

 

Seek not approval,Seek Not the Approval of Men

from our fellow man;

but rather seek God,

to do what we can.

Look to honor Christ,

in all that we do;

give glory to God,

and point to the truth.

Let our hearts be set,

on pleasing the Lord;

not allowing truth,

set aside, ignored.

May we all rise up,

as servants of God;

remaining steadfast,

inspired and awed.

 

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

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

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; …my hope is in You all day long. – Psalm 25:4-5