Grace in the Grief

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NIV) 

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV) 

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NLT) 

 

This morning, as I checked my messages, there was a notice from a friend at church informing me that an incredible lady – a wife and mother about my age, has passed. It has been both inspiring and heartbreaking to watch, for she battled cancer with courage and strength over the last several years, as her family fought alongside her. There was a sense of maintaining as much normalcy as possible, despite the devastation that all must have been feeling. The comfort in this heart-breaking loss, is that she is free of the pain and walking in glory. That being said, her husband has lost his best friend, and the children have lost their mother. Grief is a heavy space. As I pray for the family and those closest to her, I lay hold of the promise held in this verse in Matthew. Though it is not an easy road, God will bring comfort. God will bring His perfect peace. May we hold fast to the promise that He holds the grieving in His hands, and God is our Source of comfort in every season. 

 

God of all comfort, Being Made New

We lean into Thee; 

For the ones mourning, 

Bring Your grace and peace. 

No words that we speak, 

Nor acts done in love; 

Can comfort the grief, 

Like You Lord, above. 

For You know each heart, 

How to help the ache; 

To soothe the sorrow, 

And mend the heartbreak. 

O Lord, be near them, 

As they walk through pain; 

Be their close comfort, 

‘til just love remains. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our comfort when we grieve. Thank You that You know this family and all that they need. Thank You that You will bring exactly what they need to navigate their new normal. Forgive us for forgetting our own mortality, and not receiving each day we wake as an incredible gift of time that not all are afforded. Teach us to appreciate each new day, and to seek You in all things. Show us how to love well, those who are mourning. May we be used in the practical as well as the prayerful. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for being our comfort and our peace, even in the most heartbreaking of times. Amen.

 

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

(There is) A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:4

Blessings through Honor

“Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on earth.” – (Ephesians 6:2-3, NLT) 

Honor your father and mother. This is the first of God’s Ten Commandments that ends with a promise. And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing. – (Ephesians 6:2-3, TLB) 

For the commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” was the first of the Ten Commandments with a promise attached: “You will prosper and live a long, full life if you honor your parents.” – (Ephesians 6:2-3, TPT) 

 

I am watching the fruit of this very principle unfold before me, as we have traveled to Minnesota to spend time with my Viking’s father. Cancer has invaded his body, and he was given an expiration date that seems quite bleak. Despite the span of nearly twenty-five years since he last saw his father, and only a handful of phone conversations in-between, witnessing the two of them (as well as my sister-to-be, and soon-to-be bonus son) interact with this man in grace and love, honoring him as their father, blessed my heart beyond what I could have imagined. It was as if all of the time, distance and disappointments disappeared, and only good and grace and love remained. It is evident that walking in forgiveness and grace blesses not only the transgressor, but sets free, the very one who has been hurt. May we ever go forth in grace and forgiveness, honoring our parents, regardless of their shortcomings. We all fall short and are in need of grace, and the beauty that comes is worth the release. Let us honor our parents as the people who granted us this glorious gift of life.  

 

The Bible commands, img_2018-01-27_08-43-45418161434.jpg

That we honor well; 

Fathers and mothers, 

Of love and grace tell. 

For with the command, 

There’s a promise too; 

That blessings will come, 

As we follow through. 

So, ever give good, 

Honor and choose love; 

There will be blessings, 

Of grace from above. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of the parents that You give to us. Thank You for those whom we know well and see often, and thank You for those whom we see rarely. Father forgive us for not walking this out according to Your good and perfect will. Show us how to honor our parents as You call us to honor them. Lead us in Your love and grace, so that we would be a blessing as we are blessed by You. Teach us to love like You, so that all may come to know the truth of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to honor those You have given us according to Your love and grace. 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

Ponder the Treasure

But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. – (Luke 2:19, NLT)

Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. – (Luke 2:19, ERV)

Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. – (Luke 2:19, CEB)

Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, VOICE)

 

The chain of events leading to and surrounding the birth of Jesus, must have been more than enough to keep Mary’s mind on constant overload. Angelic visits and prophecies, miraculous pregnancies, having to travel by donkey in the desert, arriving only to be turned away at all of the possible places to stay, giving birth in a stable, having shepherds show up… Mary was now mother to the Son of God. I imagine she vacillated back and forth between bewilderment and amazement at the role that she had been called to fill. Her faithfulness and trust in God was apparent, as she said “yes” to that which she had been called to do by God. Each of these events to treasure, were likely the things that gave her courage and strength in times of uncertainty as Jesus grew. Today, as many of us participate in candlelight services, may we ponder all of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, and treasure them in our hearts, so that we too, will find courage and strength in times of uncertainty.

 

Joining to gather, Ponder the Treasure

In candlelight glow;

Sing of our Savior,

Arrival we know.

Born in a stable,

Such a humble birth;

Path for us to know,

The depth of our worth.

For God sent His Son,

To show love to all;

Let us each embrace,

Grace to which we’re called.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us how to stop in awe and wonder of all that took place surrounding the birth of Jesus through the example of Mary. Thank You that You did not call the equipped, but rather You equipped the called. Thank You that You used ordinary people to do the extraordinary to change the course of history forever; a young girl, a carpenter, some shepherds, an inn keeper with a bit of compassion – each with a role that led us to why we celebrate this most holy season. Forgive us for breezing through the day as if it is just another holiday. Teach us to stop and ponder the magnitude of what You have done for us, so that we will treasure it all in our hearts. Show us how to love those around us with a love that is tangible and worth treasuring. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they are introduced or reminded of Who You are and all that You have done through the glorious gift of Your Son. Be glorified O God, as we ponder and treasure the reason for the season. Amen.

 

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

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

 

 

Friends Sharpen Each Other

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. – (Proverbs 27:17, NLT)

As one piece of iron sharpens another, so friends keep each other sharp. – (Proverbs 27:17, ERV)

In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend. – (Proverbs 27:17, VOICE)

 

I am overwhelmingly blessed to see how this principle plays out practically in my everyday life. In each of my various roles, God has given me great friends who walk beside me and challenge me to continue to learn and grow. As a mother, teacher, coach, athlete, friend and in all of these, a follower of Christ, I have fantastic friends with whom I am walking, as we sharpen one another to be more than we were before. May we recognize and invest in the relationship that God has given us to sharpen and shape one another into who we are meant to become.

 

As iron sharpens,img_2017-12-01_05-13-37440905203.jpg

So friend sharpens friend;

Pushing each other,

To grow and extend.

For as we’re challenged,

Our character grows;

We become better,

As grace clearly shows.

Invest in people,

That bring out our best;

May we do likewise,

Through such love, we’re blessed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love You and love one another. Thank You that You designed us for relationship for a reason. Thank You that as we invest in friendships, we learn and grow from each other. Forgive us for not dedicating the time and energy we should to those whom You have called us to walk beside. Teach us how to manage our time and energy so that we are able to fill the roles to which we are called, and walk with whom You call us to walk. Show us how to love well, all those that cross our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sharpen each other to become who You are calling us to be so that we more clearly reflect Your heart to the world. Amen.

 

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

 

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

Listen for Wisdom

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. – (Proverbs 19:20, NLT)

Listen to advice and accept discipline, then you, too, will become wise. – (Proverbs 19:20, ERV)

 

Wisdom comes over time, through actively seeking to know and understand. My mom models this principle, much like her mother before her. She pursues new learning wherever she can, and reads constantly. Her circle of friends is vast and diverse, exposing her to a wide knowledge base, even in her social arena. Today is the day that we celebrate her birth, and I am beyond blessed to call her my Mom. She loves with her whole heart, and gives all of herself to those whom she loves and whatever she does. Her wisdom is not flaunted, but sweet and subtle, just as her mother before her. However, when a conversation of depth is covered, the years of actively pursuing truth is evident, and I still call my mom to ask her how to do things and want her to be pleased with the things that I say and do. May we give thanks for the moms who raised us, or those who came alongside us to show us what it is to mother well.

 

All thanks be to God, Mom

For my own mother;

Whose wisdom and strength,

Led like no other.

As she sought advice,

Her wisdom and grace;

Showed me how to live,

To run well, my race.

Thank You, dear Jesus,

For this precious gift;

For my loving Mom,

All praise to You, lift.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we seek advice and instruction from You, You give us wisdom. Thank You for my mom and her mom before her that have modeled this so beautifully for me. Please bless and keep her today and always, as she is a treasure that I am so grateful to have in my life. Forgive us for not seeking You for advice and instruction, and teach us to remember that all wisdom that lasts, comes from You. Show us how to love and appreciate those whom You have placed in our path to both parent us, and for us to do the same. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek wisdom and instruction from You, so that we might be wise in the ways that You are calling us to go. Amen.

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

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – 1 Chronicles 16:31

Made to Mother

For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb before I took my first breath. – (Psalm 139:13, VOICE)

You formed the way I think and feel. You put me together in my mother’s womb. – (Psalm 139:13, ERV)

 

At the very beginning of our existence, there was God and our mother. No matter what the circumstance or situation, each one of our mothers chose to carry us to term, and God knit us together in the space of our mother’s womb. I know for some, there is sorrow connected to Mother’s Day, either for lack or loss or what should have been. For those who are mourning, I pray that He would hold your heart in His hands and remind You that He is with you in a tangible way. On the other side of motherhood, may those who have mothers who have been invested and available, find way to extend appreciation today and always. Additionally, each of us have been shaped to touch the lives of those around us. Whether we are mothers by blood or not, it takes little to see those around us who could use the love and encouragement that a maternal figure can offer. May we recognize the remarkable work that our Redeemer did, even before we drew our first breath, and let us also go forth and love well as He has called us to love.

 

Shaped with a purpose,Made to Mother

Before our first breath;

It is no mistake,

We’ve life over death.

Each mother gave life,

Now we have a role;

To rise up in faith,

Let Christ make us whole.

For God is so good,

His heart of love finds;

Ways for us to give,

Grace and hope that binds.

May we choose to be,

Sister and mother;

One who loves as Christ,

Our heart to others.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of mothers. Thank You for the mothers who love well, and show us what it is to love as You love us. Thank You that even the mothers who did not love well, chose to give life and allowed You to create the gift of the life that exists before us. Thank You that You comfort those who mourn, and that You can use any heart that is willing to speak life as a mother to those who are lacking. Forgive us for not fully appreciating the gift we have around us in the women You have placed in our lives to be motherly to us. Teach us to love and appreciate the gifts that You so generously give. Show us how to love those in need, as we are so lavishly loved by You. Thank You for the amazing gift of my own Momma. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize the remarkable that You have done, and go forth in love as we are called. 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

Called to be Family

When Jesus saw His mother standing there beside the disciple He loved, He said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. – (John 19:26-27, NLT)

 

As Jesus was hanging on the cross, weighed down by the weight of the world’s sin, He still took notice of the growing grief on the faces of those He dearly loved. A further example of how Jesus loved people, even as He hung in agony, is revealed to us in this short exchange between Jesus, His mother, and John. Knowing that both Mary and John would need comfort and care from another who had shared in the entire experience of the life and death of Jesus, He presented them to each other in new familial roles so that they could help one another in Jesus’ absence. Clearly Christ’s words were taken to heart, as John took Mary into his home from that day forward. Jesus is all about relationship. He cares about our heart and wants our grieving hearts to be comforted. The people around us are not in place by mistake. He sets the lonely in families, and loves us to life when our light has grown dim. May we ever fix our eyes on Christ, and allow Him to move in us and through us in ways that bring comfort and care to all in need, as we look to the hope that is held forever in Him.Called to be Family 1

 

Jesus sees our hearts,

And knows all our needs;

Surrounds the lonely,

And hungry, He feeds.

Wherever we are,

He sees and He knows;

His heart is to love,Called to be Family 2

So our faith might grow.

Even in anguish,

Christ spoke how to be;

Support each other,

We’re now family.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that family is not only those related by blood, but rather they are those whom You surround us with to be our safety and support. Thank You that Jesus showed us how important it is to be in ongoing relationship with one another, as it was one of the last things He pointed out before He drew His last breath on the cross. Forgive us for withdrawing or not investing ourselves into those that You have placed in our lives to be family – whether they are related by blood or not. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love those around us as You have loved us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace and invest in those around us, just as we are called to do. Amen.

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

Listen… be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. – Proverbs 23:19

His Mission Among Us

No one has ever seen God with human eyes; but if we love one another, God truly lives in us. Consequently God’s love has accomplished its mission among us. – (1 John 4:12, VOICE)

For though we have never yet seen God, when we love each other God lives in us, and His love within us grows ever stronger. – (1 John 4:12, TLB)

 

The love of God is made evident in us and through us when we choose to love one another as we are loved by God. The only way this is possible, is if we seek the Lord and depend on Him. With God in us, our capacity to love grows ever stronger. Each day that we recognize and embrace the depth of God’s love for us, the better equipped we become to go and do likewise with one another. Although a baby in the womb has not yet seen its mother, he/she knows her voice and is dependent on her for all things. In the same way, we can hear and trust the Lord, for He is our Provider and Sustainer, and shows us the way to life everlasting in Him. May we ever listen for His voice as we seek Him, and trust the Lord to grow within us, the capacity to love one another as we are loved by Him.

 

Though no human eye,Enter With Thanksgiving

Has yet seen the Lord;

His voice is made clear,

As love is outpoured.

When we choose to love,

Each other like Him;

His love’s made complete,

Accomplished mission.

For God’s own love dwells,

As we make the choice;

To listen and love,

With head, heart and voice.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we are far from perfect, Your love is made perfect within us. Thank You that the very same love You give and grow in us, is what we are empowered to do with one another. Forgive us for not choosing to love as we are loved by You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You and listen for Your voice as to how we can love each other as we are loved by You. Show us how to love those around us with word and deed, so that their hearts might be drawn ever closer to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow Your perfect love to flow through us, by loving those around us as we are loved by You. Amen.

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

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

The Treasures of Christmas

But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. – (Luke 2:19, NLT)

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, NIV)

 

Mary, the one whom God chose to bear the Savior of the world, experienced wonders and miracles both before Jesus was born, and throughout His lifetime. I love how Luke points out that Mary made a point to treasure each event in her heart and remember what the Lord had done, as this is how a mama’s heart is wired. As my own children have transitioned from baby, to toddler, to children and now into teenagers, I too, have treasured the moments of significance in my heart, and likewise, I think of the moments and movements of God often. Christmas is the gift of God with us. Heaven came to earth so that we would know the wonder of Christ’s nearness, rather that God out there. Though we may not all be mamas, we all have moments and miracles to keep in our hearts and think about often. May we take time today to celebrate God with us, and the glorious gift that came to us so that we could have life everlasting as we remember the reason for this sacred season. Merry Christmas, and may your heart ponder the treasures He has given and continues to give.

 

When Love made way down,

O Holy Night

image by Rick Larson

From heaven to earth;

Such glory beheld,

In Christ’s sacred birth.

Though in modest scene,

No crib for a bed;

Jesus came to save,

And peace and love spread.

Just as His mother,

Held dear in her heart;

May we hold moments,

Of Love from the start.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son so that Love could come close. Thank You that Mary modeled the importance of keeping close to our hearts, all that You have done in us and for us and through us. Forgive us for not paying attention or for not recognizing the significance of all that You do. Teach us how to treasure each moment that You give us. Show us how every movement and moment matters to You. Help us to love as You love, so that people may see Your heart through the way that we love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we treasure all that You have done, and think about these things often. Amen.

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

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6

May We Ever Praise

Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His Name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation. – (Psalm 100:4-5, NLT)

 

God is good and His love never fails. He is faithful forever, and deserves all of our thanks and praise. There are days, however, when giving thanks is not necessarily the nearest and dearest thought to our hearts. When sickness strikes and plans change, it can be easy to lose sight of the goodness of God. I am overwhelmingly blessed with both a mother and grandmother that model what it is to give thanks, regardless of circumstance. Thanksgiving has been a favorite gathering time for my mom, my sister and her family, and me and my progeny. This year, my mom has a horrible cold virus and does not have the energy to travel across the mountains and an additional few hundred miles south to my sister’s home. It will be the first Thanksgiving in several years that we have not all been together to give thanks. Rather than mope and feel downcast, (though I am certain she is bummed as are we) my mom has chosen to bless us in spite of her absence. I woke to a sweet message from her, with a note that a gift that will help keep me alert as I drive is on the way. (Oh sweet Starbucks love!) She is choosing to focus on His goodness and demonstrate His faithfulness, and remind each of us, that regardless of circumstance, there is always reason to praise. May we each go forth with thanksgiving, recognizing His goodness and faithfulness, as we share of His unfailing love with each new generation forever.

 

As we all gather,Give Thanks for Faithfulness

Both from far and near;

Let us be thankful,

For how the Lord hears.

Because He is good,

May we ever praise;

Our faithful Father,

For all of our days.

Be not dependent,

On life’s circumstance;

But by His great love,

May our souls choose dance.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are able to enter Your presence with thanksgiving and praise. Thank You that You are good and that Your unfailing love continues forever. Thank You that You are faithful to each generation. Thank You for the faithful women in my life that model for me, thankful hearts who give out of the abundance of Your love. Forgive us for not giving You thanks and praise for who You are, and help us to rise up and recognize that our reason for thanks unto You is not circumstantial. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they may see Your faithfulness and goodness through our love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You our thanks and praise because You are good and Your love lasts forever. 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