Joy Unconstrained

So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. – (Luke 2:16-20, NIV) 

So, they went running and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the feeding box. When they saw the baby, they told what the angels said about this child. Everyone was surprised when they heard what the shepherds told them. Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. The shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking Him for everything they had seen and heard. It was just as the angel had told them. – (Luke 2:16-20, ERV) 

 

After having been visited first by a messenger of God, then bearing witness to an army of heavenly hosts singing praise for the birth of Christ, which the angel of the Lord had announced to them, the shepherds went running to find the One whom the heavens had proclaimed. When they found Jesus lying in a manger, just as the angel had foretold, they were amazed and in awe at how what had been spoken was right there, before their very eyes. Their response was that which it ought to be, as when we receive such incredible news and then observe it coming to pass, we cannot help but share with others, the good that has come. I can only imagine these shepherds leaving the stable and telling anyone and everyone who would listen, the joy of what they had witnessed. The shepherds were likely the sort that kept to themselves, as sheep tending was not the most glamorous of positions. For these men to be so impacted by what they had seen and heard that they ignored their typical itinerary and spoke out, left the hearers surprised and in awe. Meanwhile, Mary took in everything that was spoken and all that she bore witness to, and treasured them in her heart. This young woman had much to take in and ponder, as she had been visited by an angel, spared the shame and potential death for her condition, traveled more than 80 miles to Bethlehem, given birth in a stable, and now was being seen by shepherds who had been visited by the heavenly hosts to tell of this sweet Savior’s birth. All of these things unfolded just as they had been foretold, and the shepherds returned to their fields, forever changed. Songs of praise flowed from them, for they understood the magnitude of the miracle that was lying in a manger. May we remember in awe and wonder, all that took place that night. For unto us, a Savior was born. The Light of the world had come. 

 

Most holy of nights, A Christmas Prayer

The angels proclaimed; 

A Savior is born, 

Such joy unconstrained. 

Shepherds went running, 

To see with their eyes; 

This glorious news, 

In a manger, lies. 

Imagine their joy, 

The blessing to see; 

Just as they’d been told, 

Christ born unto thee. 

Their hearts were bursting, 

At what they had found; 

This scene they beheld, 

The promise was sound. 

Mary, she treasured, 

All that came to be; 

Her precious infant, 

Was Christ, most holy. 

May we too, ponder, 

In wonder and awe; 

Precious unfolding, 

Of all that they saw. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what You say, You will do. Thank You for the incredible way in which Jesus came into the world. Thank You that You sent Your heavenly hosts to ordinary people in an extraordinary way. Thank You that because Jesus came as a baby, He lived and knew, experienced and grew, in the same way that each of us do as we navigate in our own lives. Forgive us for not recognizing in awe and wonder, the incredible way in which You sent heaven to earth, so we could experience rebirth. Teach us to trust in Your promises and to stand in awe as we witness them come to pass. Show us how to love those around us in ways that show of Your faithfulness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate Your arrival and behold Your promises that have come to pass. Amen. 

 

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

 

With all my heart I will praise You, O Lord my God. I will give glory to Your Name forever. – Psalm 86:12

 

Will to Walk in Love

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love. – (2 John 1:6, NIV) 

And loving means living the way He commanded us to live. And God’s command is this: that you live a life of love. You heard this command from the beginning. – (2 John 1:6, ERV) 

Love is defined by our obedience to His commands. This is the same command you have known about from the very beginning: you must live by it. – (2 John 1:6, VOICE) 

 

There are days that choosing love is extraordinarily difficult, particularly when what is received feels miles away from loving. When this occurs, it takes a decision of the will to walk in obedience to His command. Love is not about a feeling, but rather it is a choice to love others as we are loved by God. Love is patient and kind, and does not have qualifications as to whether or not patience and kindness are extended. In fact, it is often the seemingly least deserving that need to observe love in action the most. The negative behaviors that come our way, seldom have anything to do with us, and have everything to do with individual circumstances or what took place prior to our interaction. Walking in obedience is not an easy road, but choosing to live a life of love is never for naught. Even when we do not see the impact of choosing love, we may be at peace in knowing that we have chosen well, and have operated in accordance to His will. May we ever seek the Lord and His strength, as He fills us with His love to extend to others as we navigate each new day. 

 

To love is a choice, Tether Our Hearts

An act of our will; 

Commanded by God, 

Our role to fulfill. 

For we are all called, 

To love as a choice; 

With actions and words, 

His grace to employ. 

So, let us choose love, 

In each circumstance; 

For as we do so, 

Love gets to advance. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us when we are so unlovable, and give us grace when we are completely undeserving. Thank You that You call us to give the very things that we have received to those around us, even when it is difficult. Thank You that You do not ask anything of us that You are not willing to empower us to do. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen to extend love, as we allowed our own egos, agendas or hurts to get in the way. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would get out of the way and give You room to move in and through us in love. Show us how to love those around us best, especially those who are the most challenging to love in the moment. Grant us Your patience and kindness and the ability to see others through Your lens of love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You to lead us in love in all things and at all times. Amen.

 

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

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

A Faithful Heritage

For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. – (Psalm 100:5, NIV)

The Lord is good! There is no end to His faithful love. We can trust Him forever and ever! – (Psalm 100:5, ERV)

Because the Eternal is good, His loyal love and mercy will never end, and His truth will last throughout all generations. – (Psalm 100:5, VOICE)

 

Every year, I am blessed with the opportunity to gather with family to give thanks. What I have noticed, is that the same goodness and faithfulness that I remember my great-grandmothers speaking of, what I saw in my grandparents’ lives, have witnessed and still see in my mom’s life, I now observe in awe, in my own life and the lives of my children. This is not to say that life has been free of trials or struggles or difficulty, but rather it is that through it all, the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness have been evident through each generation. May we take time to tell one another of the Lord’s ongoing faithfulness in our lives, as His love endures forever and His mercy knows no end.

 

Come and bless the Lord,

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Photos by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

He’s faithful and good;

His love is endless,

Throughout time it’s stood.

Firm in great mercy,

Generous in grace;

Faithful forever,

The Ancient of Days.

Each generation,

Make known to the next;

This love, unending,

As God loves us best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for a heritage of wise women and men who followed faithfully after You. Thank You for the example that previous generations have set for the next. Forgive us for not sharing enough about Your faithfulness with those who follow after us. Teach us to trust and rely on You, so that our children and their children cannot help but see Your faithful, enduring love forever. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes Your faithfulness, love and grace known through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your faithfulness forever and give You praise throughout all of our days. Amen.

 

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

 

Your faithfulness continues through all generations; You established the earth, and it endures. – Psalm 119:90

Remember With Wonder

But then I recall all You have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. – (Psalm 77:11, NLT)

Lord, I remember what You have done. I remember the amazing things you did long ago. – (Psalm 77:11, ERV)

Yet I could never forget all Your miracles, my God, as I remember all Your wonders of old. – (Psalm 77:11, TPT)

 

This weekend my husband and I are attending several events to celebrate his 30th high school reunion. It is amusing to watch he and his buddies from so long ago, catch up and reminisce. As I observe and take in their stories and various accounts, I am in awe of the protection that was provided to keep them alive, the grace to carry them from adolescence to adulthood unscathed, and the goodness that has grown them into wonderful parents, spouses, community members and human beings. Looking back is a fantastic way to remember all of the amazing things that God has done – the obstacles that He has helped us traverse, the challenges we have overcome, and the wonders His hands have provided throughout the years. As we take the time to recall and recognize the Lord’s faithfulness before, our capacity to forge forward in faith grows stronger. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and recounting personally, our experiences of His faithfulness, renews our fortitude to trust more deeply. May we never forget all that God has done to bring us from where we were to today.

 

May we not forget, Remember With Wonder

The wonders and grace;

That God’s given us,

As we’ve sought His face.

For throughout our lives,

His love has been shown;

As He’s carried us,

From hardships to home.

The more we recall,

The more that trust grows;

Just as He has done,

He’ll continue show.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace that has protected, carried and provided for us throughout our lives thus far. Thank You that as we remember Your hand and how You provided, it grows easier to trust that You will continue. Forgive us for our lack of trust and for neglecting to recall Your incredible faithfulness. Teach us to stop and remember all that You have done, giving You glory as Your grace grows our faith all the more. Show us how to love those around us as we remain consistent and constant in the lives of those whom You have called us to touch. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we remember Your faithfulness forever and forge forward with hearts full of faith. Amen.

 

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

 

For I have always been mindful of Your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on Your faithfulness. – Psalm 26:3

Peace Through Understanding

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. – (1 Peter 3:8, NRSV)

So, all of you should live together in peace. Try to understand each other. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Be kind and humble. – (1 Peter 3:8, ERV)

And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. – (1 Peter 3:8, TLB)

 

We are called to live together in peace. To do so, we must try to understand one another. Understanding does not mean that we agree with every viewpoint and perspective that another holds, but rather that we hear and respect them, and choose to love as family with humility and kindness. Love is not meant to have limits. Our call is not to just love those who view the world as we do, nor show kindness to only those who are kind to us. Rather, we are invited and equipped to love others with kindness and humility, without conditions. The remarkable result of truly seeking to understand one another, is so often a new perspective and respect for that which would have not otherwise been known is discovered. God is good, and He calls us to good things. May we ever seek the Lord for wisdom and strength to love one another with tender hearts and humble minds, in such manner we may come to understand one another and live together in peace.

 

We are all called forth,

Peace Through Understanding

To love and be kind;

Seek understanding,

Heart, spirit and mind.

For love in this way,

Promotes lasting peace;

Sense of belonging,

Family increased.

Trust in His goodness,

Go forth in His grace;

Love with compassion,

Build lasting safe space.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to live at peace with one another. Thank You that as we seek You and rely on Your grace and strength, You equip us with kindness and humility to love those around us well. Forgive us for not investing nor seeking to understand others in a way that leads to peace. Teach us to listen so others feel heard and known. Show us how to love in the same way that we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to form family wherever we are planted, through kindness, humility and grace. Let Your lavish love show us the way. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace. – Psalm 37:37

Choose a Life of Love

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. – (Ephesians 5:2, NLT)

Live a life of love. Love others just as Christ loved us. He gave Himself for us – a sweet smelling offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:2, ERV)

Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that. – (Ephesians 5:2, MSG)

 

When we choose to live a life of love, just as Christ loved us, we are a pleasing aroma to God. The idea of our offering being a sweet scent before our Maker is a remarkable reminder that our choice to love matters. Likewise, as we love others as Christ loves us, we are a pleasing aroma to people. When we observe or are the recipients of words or deeds that are not done in love, often the way we describe the situation is that it stinks. I imagine that before God, there is a stench when we are not acting according to His love. We have been given the greatest example that ever was to follow, and He equips us to go and do the same. The decision to choose to live out a life of love is ours, and the choice we make matters. May we each opt to live the life of love that God has prepared for us, and go forth as a sweet scent before both the Lord and those whom He places on our path.

 

The sweet scent of Christ, Love Made Known

Is one full of love;

For His sacrifice,

Grace, His true motive.

Christ’s own sacrifice,

Created the way;

For us to receive,

And give love away.

He did not withhold,

But chose to give all;

So we too could love,

And answer His call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that a life lived out in love is a pleasing aroma before You. Thank You Jesus, for being the ultimate example of how to love without limits. Forgive us for the times that we opt to withhold love when we are called to extend that which we have been given. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would choose to love anyway, even when it is difficult. Show us how to love well, all those whom You have placed on our path. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to live a life of love. 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

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

Keep Confident Trust

So don’t lose the courage that you had in the past. Your courage will be rewarded richly. You must be patient. After you have done what God wants, you will get what He promised you. – (Hebrews 10:35-36, ERV)

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised. – (Hebrews 10:35-36, NLT)

 

We cannot allow our faith to be shaken by what we see before us. The very same God who brought us through our previous trials and troubles, is present and faithful today. Our part, is to press in and patiently endure the difficulty, as often there are struggles along the way to grow our faith and strengthen our resolve. What God has promised, He will be faithful to fulfill. The challenge for us is to do our part to receive the promise. In my experience, and that which I observe in those around me, I find that there are steps of faith required on our part to get to where God wants us to be to receive that which He has spoken. As we do what we are designed and equipped to do by faith, He meets us and does that which only He can to complete the fulfillment in incredible ways. May we ever keep the courage that we have known in Christ, and continue to have patience in the time between the promise spoken, and when it is fulfilled. Let us be ready and willing to move in faith wherever He calls us to go, so that we may witness the wonder of His mighty work as He brings fulfillment to that which He has promised.

 

Do not lose courage, Keep Confident Trust

Or confident trust;

For God is faithful,

Loving, and He’s just.

As we are patient,

With hope, we endure;

God builds up our faith,

His promise secure.

So keep with His will,

Trust that you’ll receive;

All He has promised,

Be patient, believe.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what You promise, You are faithful to fulfill when we continue to walk in the direction to which we are called. Thank You that You develop patient endurance within us in the time between when a promise is spoken and when it is fulfilled. Forgive us for our lack of patience or our wandering our own way in attempt to pursue that which You have spoken. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would only go the direction to which we are called, and that we would stay the course, regardless of what we do or do not see. Show us how to love and encourage those around us, so that they may recognize Your faithfulness through our consistent living in the light of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we hold fast to our confident trust in You as we patiently navigate the time between promises spoken and when they are fulfilled. 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

Nature Sings

You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! – (Isaiah 55:12, NLT)

So you will go out from there with joy. You will be led out in peace. When you come to the mountains and hills, they will begin singing. All the trees of the field will clap their hands. – (Isaiah 55:12, ERV)

 

Yesterday morning, as we approached the hills with the sun rising behind us, it felt as if the hills were singing before us. Though we were in the desert canyon of Red Rock, color was everywhere before us. I am constantly amazed at the beauty of God’s creation. Before, when I thought of desert canyons, I thought of brown, dusty hills. What my eyes beheld yesterday was far from that. Everywhere we looked, there were vibrant, living greens growing, with lovely red rock behind them. Jackrabbits bounded between bushes, and we even spied some tortoise lumbering along at the conservatory, as it was bath day for them. I think each of us left the park a bit more in awe of all His hands have made, as we drove away with joy and peace that directed our path. May we ever take time to notice in awe and wonder, all the beauty that His hands have made, and give Him praise for the joy that is ours to take it in.

 

Go to the mountains, Red Rock Canyon

The canyons or sea;

Observe and behold,

Gifts God grants for free.

You’ll find joy and peace,

For creation sings;

Of His mighty hand,

And the love He brings.

Wherever you are,

Look and take it in;

His glory unmatched,

Such grace found therein.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your glorious creation. Thank You that You created such beautiful diversity for our eyes to behold and enjoy. Thank You that when we take the time to observe what You have made, we walk away with restored peace and joy. Forgive us for not celebrating all that You have made, or for taking it for granted. Teach us to appreciate everything, as each moment of everyday is a gift. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes moments count. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we live in joy and peace as we stand in awe of all that Your hands have made. Amen.

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Made for Good

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do good things He planned for us long ago. – (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us new people so that we would spend our lives doing the good things He has already planned for us to do. – (Ephesians 2:10, ERV)

 

To watch God’s masterpieces in action is such a great joy to behold. When I observe those whom I know and care for deeply doing the very things that they were created to do, I cannot help but be filled with joy. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind, as I prepared my boys for camp and myself for Belize, traveled to Belize for a week of medical mission work, returned to do laundry and pack myself for the birthday adventure extravaganza for my love, and the boys for their Sea Scouts long cruise. As I sit in a rental home near Red Rock, NV, with the sun shining on the aqua water in the pool outside, I am overwhelmed by the good that I have both witnessed and experienced as those around me have lived and loved as they were created to do. Brand new blessings were poured out in Belize, as my dear friends were faithful to follow where God had led them, and I had the pleasure to join them and see how God had prepared and gone before us. Camp was wonderful for my boys, as they branched out and made new friends, despite their trepidation at not having their best friends along. Now, here in Nevada, some of our dearest friends have joined together to celebrate my Viking, and love so well. He has been overwhelmed by the blessings, and I don’t think I have stopped smiling since we arrived. God is so good, and when we walk forward as who He has created us to be, the things He does are beyond what we could hope or imagine. May we ever pursue our Creator the good that He has hand-crafted us to accomplish.

 

We’re all created, Made for Good

Hand-crafted by God;

Made new with purpose,

With a path to trod.

Created for good,

That’s how we’re designed;

Be true to ourselves,

Let our hearts align.

Rise up with courage,

Go forth in His might;

He has good in store,

Love well and do right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are Your masterpiece. Thank You that what You can accomplish in and through us, is not dependent on how we feel. Thank You that when we are willing to go where You call, and do as You ask, good things are accomplished by Your grace. Forgive us for not recognizing the intent with which You made each one of us. Teach us to value those around us and ourselves, as You reveal to us, the masterpiece in us all. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that they feel valued and celebrated for who You have created them to be. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You for making us new in You so that we can do good things. Amen.

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

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. – Psalm 67:1