Bloom Where You Are Planted

Therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – (Hebrews 12:1, NIV)

We have all these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means. So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fall. – (Hebrews 12:1, ERV)

As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every would that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us. – (Hebrews 12:1, TPT)

 

This, this is why we are called to be in community. Though we can accomplish much through Christ on our own, we can do and be more when we are surrounded by others who walk alongside us as we navigate the journey to which we are called. Incredibly, everyone has a story to tell, and we each have encouragement to offer, based on our experiences and the person whom we have been created to be. Though the struggles and seasons of suffering stink, they often become the space where we find God has grown us the strongest. It is in such seasons that we learn perseverance and dependence on Christ, and have to let go of everything else that weighs us down if we wish to keep moving forward. One of the things that I have missed terribly throughout this trying season, is the consistent community and gathering together to worship and fellowship with friends who have become family at home. However, I know that their prayerful support has been a tremendous contribution to what has sustained us as we have navigated this new and unknown road. God has been faithful each step of the way, and we trust Him to continue as each of us prepare for the next season in mom’s journey to a full recovery.

For mom, yesterday began with some strong ongoing progress that took incredible strength and courage. What terrified mom a little over a week ago, still frightened her a bit, yet she did not hesitate to participate and do her best. Doing upper body work from a kneeling position on the floor is a scary space for mom. However, it is a position that forces her to utilize the right side of her upper body, that she desperately wants to regain. She knows that the reward is worth the risk, and willingly fended off fear to do the work required of her. Ever so slowly, mom is activating her shoulder and scapula. Each time she does the exercises to strengthen the muscles, she also is increasing the message pathways to movement. Later in the afternoon, following an errand outing for a few necessities, lunch and Dutch Bros, we returned home and mom was ready to do some walking. Normally, mom changes into her tennis shoes with an AFO (something foot orthotic that lifts her toes so they don’t drag or catch when she steps) in them, but she already had her crocs on and I suggested she give it a try. Much to her surprise, she was able to walk well in her crocs without the AFO. This is extraordinarily exciting news, as it means that she is actually lifting her right leg as she steps, and no longer just dragging it through. The more she lifts her right foot as she steps, the greater variety of terrain she will be able to take on. (She really wants to walk around her yard!) Mom’s great cloud of witnesses have been coming to see her, more and more. She recognizes the benefit of visitors, and is enjoying reconnecting with dear friends from church, Bible studies and the like. Her perseverance is an encouragement to us all. May we ever seek to surround ourselves in community, so that we may encourage one another to persevere on the path to which we have been called.

 

Seek be invested, img_2019-07-16_06-35-183702170351870846491.jpg

In community;

To learn and to grow,

Exponentially.

For each one planted,

Has something to give;

Wisdom to offer,

Strength from lessons lived.

Hearing from others,

Those far and those near;

Lifts up and strengthens,

Helps us persevere.

Reach out and grow roots,

Invest and make room;

Choose let others in,

Where you’re planted, bloom.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be in community. Thank You that we can both gain and offer strength to those around us as we do life together in You. Forgive us for allowing ourselves to be isolated when the road is difficult. Thank You for those whom You place in our lives to keep community strong, even when we are not nearby. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would reach out to those around us, regardless of our circumstances, as You bring beauty from ashes and often use our own weakness as Your greatest strength through us. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they will be encouraged and built up; strengthened to persevere through all seasons. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we invest in the communities that You call us to, and praise You for the power to persevere that comes from You. Amen.

 

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

 

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. – Hebrews 12:28

 

Never Hidden From Grace

“Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill the heaven and earth?” declares the Lord. – (Jeremiah 23:24, NIV)

“Someone might try to hide from me in some hiding place. But it is easy for me to see that person,” says the Lord, “because I am everywhere in heaven and earth.” – (Jeremiah 23:24, ERV)

“Can anyone hide from Me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord. – (Jeremiah 23:24, NLT)

 

There are times, even if we are not trying to hide, our circumstances may make us feel hidden from plain sight. For me, being in a situation where I am confined to my mom’s home, not being able to come and go as I please, is a strange sort of hidden space. Thankfully, God is faithful to remind me each new morning of His faithfulness and mercy, as He paints the sky anew, in plain view, as I rise. We are not hidden from His sight nor His reach, and the same way His glory fills the skies, is how He fills this house with His grace and mercy and love.

God made His reach and His vision for mom and her recovery evident yesterday as we met her new physical therapist. Nick is a wonderful man, with vast experience, who really took the time to get to know mom, what she is able to currently do, what she hopes to accomplish; and then began actively working with her to reach her goals. In one visit, he showed her new things that she is capable of doing that she did not realize she could already do. Additionally, for the first time, a few of her steps down her long hallway with the walker, did not require his assistance to bring her “stubborn” right leg through! This is huge progress, and truly tangible evidence that mom can see and feel and hold. There is little quite so encouraging as that which you can actually see and feel for yourself, in the direction you are working tirelessly toward. Last night, despite three wake-ups, was better for sleep for both of us as well. Today holds the meetings with her new speech therapist and occupational therapist, so I anticipate a busy, yet encouraging day. Please pray with us that today’s therapists are as wonderful as both Nick and Kari, whom we met on Saturday for an initial evaluation. If the first two are any indication, I would venture to say that yet again, God has orchestrated this change for such a time as this. May we ever trust in the One who hand-crafted the heavens and the earth, for we are never hidden from His sight.

 

Though there may be times, img_2019-06-25_07-02-53343082748570767751.jpg

Where we feel unseen;

The Lord keeps us close,

His love intervenes.

There’s nowhere we go,

That God cannot see;

He’ll never let go,

Presence, guaranteed.

We need only look,

Upon the vast sky;

Recognize His grace,

Grants us wings to fly.

Fly in His freedom,

Soar in His great grace;

Know how we are loved,

No matter our space.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is no place that we are hidden from You and Your great love for us. Thank You that the hands that created the heavens and the earth also created each of us, and know us individually. Thank You that no concern, care, celebration, nor fear escapes You. You see and know all. Forgive us for feeling isolated or unseen when our circumstances keep us from the communities we love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would lean on You in the seasons that feel isolated, knowing that we are never alone. Show us how to reach out and love the lonely, helping to remind them how loved they truly are. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on Your grace and celebrate Your nearness. Amen.

 

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

 

But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things You do. – Psalm 73:28

Foolish Grow Silent with Good

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. – (1 Peter 2:15, ESV)

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. – (1 Peter 2:15, NIV)

You see, it is God’s will that by doing what is right and good you should hush the gabbing ignorance of the foolish. – (1 Peter 2:15, VOICE)

 

As we choose to do the right thing and walk in the will of God, those who have ill intentions toward us, or opt to speak without awareness, will not long be heard by those who observe the truth of who we are. Our heart and character speak far louder than either ill-intended or misunderstood murmurings about a mere snapshot of our story. Consistency over time tells a much truer tale than an isolated observation or a limited impression. What matters most is that we seek the Lord and pursue His heart in all that we do and say. If our words and deeds are motivated by love, then all other interpretations of our actions will eventually be silenced. May we rise up and choose love again and again, as this is the will of God that shall silence foolishness that finds faults rather than loves.

 

The will of the Lord, choose-love1

Is that we’ll do good;

That we will choose love,

His law, understood.

Foolish are silenced,

As love is given;

His grace overwhelms,

With wrongs forgiven.

So, let us do good,

Make the choice to love;

Silence foolishness,

Show grace from above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first loved us and that You do good for us, to silence our ignorance and foolishness. Thank You that as we pursue Your will and act accordingly, Your character that is conveyed through our love, speaks for itself. Thank You that foolishness is silenced and the truth will stand. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen well or have acted in ignorance rather than sought You for answers when we were uncertain about what stood before us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose to do good in all things, ever walking out Your will everywhere we go. Show us how to love those around us in such a way that our words and deeds silence the foolishness that would lead them to believe lies about their value. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to do good according to Your will, just as You do for us. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

Stronger Together

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9, NLT)

Two people are better than one. When two people work together, they get more work done. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9, ERV)

Two are better than one because a good return comes when two work together. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9, VOICE)

 

This holds true for nearly every area in our lives. We were created to be in community, and not intended to be isolated and alone. Spiritually, when we are invested in relationships with people who share our commitment to our faith, we find encouragement, covering, questions that need to be asked, and company to keep in both celebration and heartache. For our intellect, this also holds tremendous value. When planning, preparing or facing a problem, having another to discuss ideas with makes all the difference in finding a reasonable solution. Likewise this is true for our bodies. It is far easier to remain healthy and choose wisely when we train with others seeking to do the same. When given the option, two are always better than one, as working together increases resolve and return. May we seek to invest in the people placed around us, so that we can help one another succeed in all that we have been called to do.

 

For where there are two,stronger-together

More strength can be found;

Resolve unshaken,

When two hold their ground.

Together the two,

Can accomplish more;

There’s a great return,

As each part outpours.

Work is divided,

And more goals succeed;

Each one better off,

Together complete.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created us to be in community. Thank You that we are far better off when we work with others than when we go alone. Thank You that You use people in our lives to encourage us and grow us spiritually, mentally and physically. Thank You that You allow us to do the same for others if we are willing to be invested. Forgive us for not reaching out to those around us and isolating ourselves when we are meant to be invested. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would step outside of what is “comfortable”, and work together with those whom You bring beside us to get things done. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that they might be encouraged and built up through our every interaction with them. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we work together with others to do that which You have called us to do. Amen.

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

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

Comfort in Times of Trouble

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

When darkness floods in,The Lord Listens

And fear starts to rise;

Let us not forget,

The hope God supplies.

He is our comfort,

When chaos ensues;

The great Prince of Peace,

When we get bad news.

Far greater is He,

Our Strength and our Light;

Than troubles that come,

No matter our plight.

Seek the Lord above,

For comfort indeed;

Then we can share well,

With others in need.

 

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

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

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

Because We Have Heard

Lord God, this is why You are so great! There is no one like You. There is no god except You! We know that because of what we ourselves have heard about what You did. – (2 Samuel 7:22, ERV)

There is nothing quite so uplifting and encouraging, as hearing stories of what God has done in the lives of those around us. God is faithful and kind, and in His great love for us, He does exceedingly more than we could ever hope or imagine. He loves us personally and individually, and He cares about the little things just as much as the big ones. We know God can move mountains, but sometimes it is in the lesser things, that we forget how readily He is willing to move on our behalf. I am continually in awe, as I hear how He meets people in those moments – the ones where they are feeling completely isolated and a friend calls out of the blue, or they are short on what is needed for a bill and a check arrives in the mail… God is not limited in how He can meet us, for there is no one like the Lord. His love is immeasurable, and the lengths He will go to on our behalf, inconceivable. May we recognize the greatness of our God today, as we listen for the reports of His faithfulness through the gratitude of those who are around us.

Lord God, You are great,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

there’s no one like You;

for all You have done,

and Your word is true.

You know us so well,

yet love us the same;

are faithful to help,

those who call Your Name.

You do so much more,

than we dare to dream;

You move our mountains,

and meet all our needs.

You don’t limit love,

but keep giving more;

each day it is new,

and You don’t keep score.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is no one like You. Thank You that You are so great, and that You choose to love us! Thank You that You show us who You are and how You love, and You allow us to hear stories of Your faithfulness through those who surround us. Thank You that we each have stories to share as well. Forgive us for not being faithful to speak of all that You have done when another needs to hear. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be bold to tell our own stories of Your faithfulness as You call us, and not worry about the thoughts of those around us. Show us how to love others with the same love that You give unto us. May many come to know You, personally and completely, as they hear of Your faithfulness. Be glorified O God, as we both listen for what You have done in others, and share of what You have done in our own lives. Amen.

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

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

The Help and Hope of Humility

Pride is perhaps the greatest obstacle to coming into the kingdom of Christ. King Nebuchadnezzar had to learn the hard way, just how far a man will fall if pride comes before the Lord. Though he had been warned multiple times through dreams and the interpretations provided by Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar somehow always managed to disregard the wisdom given to him, and ultimately found himself insane and isolated, before he was willing to repent of his pride and humble himself in the sight of the Lord.

 

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything He does is right and all His ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble. – (Daniel 4:37)

 

Nebuchadnezzar was a changed man. The same king who had erected an enormous gold statue and commanded his people to bow down and worship it before him, was now glorifying God, and acknowledging that God’s way was the right way. He who had been too prideful to heed the warnings granted, had suffered the consequence of his foolish pride, repented, and was now restored to his position of power, and walking humbly before the Lord. May we each heed the Lord’s words of warning and release our pride, rather than wander lost in the wilderness of our own foolishness. Teach us to walk in humility, we pray.

 

All praise and glory,A Touch of Faith

to the King of kings;

for all that He does,

true righteousness brings.

All His ways are right,

not one steeped in pride;

with humility,

He willingly died.

He chose that old cross,

so we might have life;

and rose up again;

blessings that are rife.

Let us give Him all,

as we humbly come;

to seek and serve Him,

’til our days are done.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the King of kings and Lord of lords, and that You alone, are worthy of all of our praise. Please forgive us for our foolish pride, and help us to have repentant hearts and be fully reliant on You. Teach us to walk in constant humility, so that we may be tender and approachable to all whom we encounter. Let Your love and light be what is evident in and through us to the world, and may many come to know You as result. Be glorified, Lord God, as we seek to walk humbly before You. Amen.

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

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

Tangible Touch

Twelve years without so much as a handshake, high five, nor a hug.  Can you imagine?  Touch is a biological and developmental need.  It helps us feel connected to others.  Touch reduces anxiety, forms bonds, lowers blood pressure, improves our outlook, and provides sensory input that we need to function and develop properly.  This morning, as I again read the story of the woman who’d been subject to bleeding for twelve years, in Luke, chapter eight, I saw the story through fresh eyes – through a perspective that I had not previously seen.  This woman had lived with not only the stigma of being considered “unclean” for twelve years, but she had likely lived in isolation for just as long.  The sheer loneliness was likely far worse than the condition itself.  I wonder if that is the very thing that drove her determination to hold onto the hope that she might be healed, if she could only touch the hem of His cloak?

Personally, I picture her experience as some sort of roller coaster ride.  Sheer determination to end her isolation propelled her through the throes of the crowd.  Hope reached out her hand for His hem, and joy unimagined must have been rising as she felt the bleeding cease.  Then, she was called out.  Would He take it back?  Would she be sent back to her isolated space for her violation of societal laws in her unclean state?  Imagine the momentary fear that tried to lay hold of her heart.  Somehow, faith continued to rise within her.  “Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at His feet.  In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched Him and how she had been instantly healed.  Then He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” – (Luke 8:47-48) 

She was free!  Not only was she free from the illness that had plagued her for twelve long years, but she no longer needed to live in isolation.  The touch of His hem touched more than her hand, it touched her heart and soul.  Never again, would she be considered “untouchable“.

Lonely, untouched,Tangible Touch

a face in the crowd;

the world, silent,

despite being loud.

Who knows not touch,

in our world today?

Lonely, outcast,

let love light the way.

For He will show,

where the need is great;

are we willing,

to step out in faith?

Pat on the back,

a hug on the side;

what will it cost,

to give those denied?

Please show us, God,

how we’re meant to touch;

as Your hands, Lord,

to share Your love much.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us with an unfailing and everlasting love.  Thank You that while we were yet stuck in our own sinfulness, You loved.  Thank You that You touch us, even when we feel untouchable, and that there is never a time when You are not willing to be near.  Forgive us for neglecting to be Your hands and heart to the hurting in a tangible way, and help us to know how to touch those who feel alone and untouchable.  May Your light and love be evident in us, and may many come to know the freedom and acceptance that is always available in You alone.  May lives be changed and hearts be restored, as the lonely and isolated find way into community.  Be glorified as we gather, Lord God.  Amen.

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