Sweet Independence

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – (Matthew 4:4, NIV)

Jesus answered him, “The Scriptures say, ‘It is not just bread that keeps people alive. Their lives depend on what God says.’” – (Matthew 4:4, ERV)

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” – (Matthew 4:4, MSG)

 

Independence Day has an entirely new meaning in my world this year. I am not speaking on a national level, but rather on a personal one. Independence, as it is defined, is the freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others. (dictionary.com)  Ironically, to be independent from the wiles of this world, we must be dependent on God. We have to know the Lord, trust His word to be true, and actually follow after Him with our whole heart, to avoid being sucked into a dependence on popular thought, regardless of how askew it has become. Personally, I am in a space where my formerly independent mom, is currently completely dependent on me (or my sister) for everything throughout her day. Aid and support are required to sustain her, as the right side of her body is still not cooperating as it used to, prior to her stroke. At times I find myself feeling like a prisoner in this space, as I am accustomed to the freedom to come and go as I choose. Not having the liberty to take off and go for a run or make a quick trip to the store as needed, is an odd sort of normal. That being said, even when I have those freedoms at home, I still depend on God. My thought life and ability to express myself is independent of anyone’s control, and any submitting that I do, is a personal choice unto the Lord.

Perhaps my point is to not take our independence for granted. Mom’s independence was taken in an unexpected instant. She had no prior health issues nor warning signs, yet a stroke happened, and here we are. God is gracious and mom is a fighter. He has given her strength and tenacity, and I believe she will work her way back to full function on her own again. However, there is much work and an undisclosed timeline in the in between. Yesterday was another good day, as mom walked the full length of her hallway by herself with the walker during physical therapy in the morning. A bit later, we went on a “field trip” into town to drive through Dutch Bros for coffee. Honestly, it is a way to get out of the house and take in a change of scenery. Upon our return, we sat on the deck and spent a few hours playing Uno and Dominos. Playing games is a great way to continue to connect pathways in her healing brain, and do not be fooled, as she is a ruthless competitor. 😊 The remainder of the day was fairly routine, as we did the usual sort of activities. Last night, she had a few wake-ups in a short span of time, but then slept until 5:30 this morning. There is absolutely nothing scheduled for today, so we shall see what the day holds. We are independent to choose, yet dependent on God for His goodness and grace as we go. May your day be free and blessed as You celebrate the gift of independence that is held in your hands.

 

Sweet independence,

Freedom to behold;

Where no one controls,

We choose what to hold.

Hold fast to the truth,

Grace rooted in love;

Trust in the Lord’s word,

All hope from above.

Only by God’s grace,

Do we truly know;

Freedom forever,

True peace to let go.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace. Thank You that true independence and freedom come when we learn to be dependent on You. Thank You for the nourishment found in Your word. Forgive us for our frustration found in our circumstances, somehow thinking that our independence has anything to do with our location or physical condition. Teach us to trust You more, understanding that Your word truly sets us free from all that holds us captive. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too may come to understand freedom in Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate our independence because of our dependence on You. Amen.

 

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

 

My brothers and sisters, God chose you to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful selves. Instead, serve each other with love. – Galatians 5:13

Modeled Love

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. – (Galatians 5:13, NIV)

My brothers and sisters, God chose you to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful selves. Instead, serve each other with love. – (Galatians 5:13, ERV)

Brothers and sisters, God has called you to freedom! Hear the call, and do not spoil this gift by using your liberty to engage in what your flesh desires; instead, use it to serve each other as Jesus taught through love. – (Galatians 5:13, VOICE)

 

Yesterday, we reached an impasse, and recognized that we had to make the final decision as to where mom would land next, as her stay at the acute rehabilitation facility comes to a close near the end of this month. After asking mom what she most wanted, watching how the familiarity of home made such a dramatic difference in her ability to recall information through an activity during speech therapy, and hearing from various therapists how often patients’ recovery accelerates by leaps and bounds in their own familiar settings, it became evident that her home was where she needed to be next. This is where the choosing to serve one another humbly in love comes in; for it is neither an easy nor convenient choice for either my sister or me. Megan has the obstacle of a seven-hour journey if she drives, a crazy, busy schedule at home with work and family, and the heartache of being away from mom whenever she needs to be home. For myself, I am still in my first year of a new marriage, raising two teenage sons, finishing their junior year, attempting to coordinate sub plans and grading from three hours from home, and seeking to maintain balance and normalcy in both spaces. Both Meg and I would not have it any other way. The words penned by Paul the Apostle, were modeled by mom throughout our entire lives. It is a simple decision to make, despite the logistical challenges. Additionally, we are overwhelmingly blessed and supported by our spouses, children, families, friends, and our extended communities – both near and far. The outpouring of love and support, both prayerfully and through notes and messages, has been an incredible blessing, and often just what was needed at the moment it was needed most.

As for mom specifically, she is continuing to make great gains. Her speech and language retrieval is phenomenally fast, but is more difficult by day’s end when she is tired. Physically, she is building more strength every day, and more and more movement is coming along. It is a painfully slow process, but it is happening. She would love to just jump up and take off running, but even as babies, we must first learn to crawl, then stand, then wobble and scoot, before we ever take steps. For a growing infant, the process takes the entire first year. Mom is making tremendous strides toward walking again, and it has not quite been a month yet. So often it is a matter of keeping it all in perspective.

For those who are walking alongside us in prayer, these are our present petitions before our Savior: for a smooth transition home, for protection from fear, protection physically, emotionally, and spiritually, against discouragement, for total and complete healing, for strength, for patience, for calendars and schedules to align easily, for grace, balance and wisdom, for her incredible community to continue to be patient about visiting until she is ready, as it needs to be in her time.

 

Jesus set us free, dsc090724766454540718468749.jpg

And gave us a choice;

To choose for ourselves,

Use heart, mind and voice.

Our purpose is more,

Than our own desire;

But rather to love,

Sacrifice, inspire.

Just as we are loved,

By He who gave all;

So we ought to give,

As we heed His call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son and showing us what it means to choose to love and serve freely. Thank You for the treasured gift of our mom, who has modeled the same for us throughout our entire lives. Forgive us for the times that we have chosen to indulge our own selfish desires, rather than love like You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we choose to love and serve in the same way that You have always done for us. Show us how to love those around us as You would. Especially direct our steps as we prepare to bring mom back to her own home. May those around us who do not know You yet, come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to serve in love, just as You have modeled for us through Your Son and those that You have strategically placed in our lives. Amen.

 

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

 

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10

 

Thankful for the Stable

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, NIV)

So, we should be thankful because we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And because we are thankful, we should worship God in a way that will please Him. We should do this with respect and fear. – (Hebrews 12:28, ERV)

Therefore, let us all be thankful that we are a part of an unshakable Kingdom and offer to God worship that pleases Him and reflects the awe and reverence we have toward Him. – (Hebrews 12:28, VOICE)

 

No matter what happens in the here and now, we have the blessed assurance of a future that is unshakable in Christ. This hope that we hold gives us reason to worship God with awe and reverence, as He is greater than anything that we face and He has promised to be present. Gratitude and worship remind us of His presence now, and of the future secure forever with Him. May we worship God with hearts full of thanks, with reverence and awe, ever setting our hope in Him and the future that He has for us.

 

With hearts full of thanks, Thankful for the Stable

In reverent fear;

Give praise to the Lord,

As His hope draws near.

Near to the seeking,

Who pour out their praise;

Hope for the future,

To hold all our days.

Let us choose worship,

The Lord God above;

Our hope forever,

Who holds us with love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Thank You that You are our hope secure. Forgive us for our lack of reverence and awe at the magnitude of Your majesty. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would worship You and give You praise for all of our days, as You are our hope and promise secure. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes hope and love tangible, where it was not before. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You our worship and praise, with reverent awe, as You are our hope both now and forever. Amen.

 

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

 

We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. – Psalm 33:20

Give Thanks for the Love that Lasts

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. – (Psalm 107:1, NLT)

Say thank you to the Lord for being so good, for always being so loving and kind. – (Psalm 107:1, TLB)

Oh, thank God – He’s so good! His love never runs out. – (Psalm 107:1, MSG)

Erupt with thanks to the Eternal, for He is good and His loyal love lasts forever. – (Psalm 107:1, VOICE)

 

This verse is a two-fold reminder. First, it helps us remember Who is always good and loving, and consequently, it ought to serve as a reminder that people, despite having the best of intentions, are not. In our frail humanity, we are bound to do or say things that hurt others. God, however, in His infinite goodness, never runs out of love for us. If we look to people to be our source of love and light, we will end up disappointed and hurting; yet if we seek the Lord and His unending love, we will not be wounded nor left wondering how He feels about us. May we give thanks to God for His unending love, and ever turn to Him first for love and acceptance.

 

All thanks be to God,Give Thanks for the Love that Lasts

For His love and grace;

It is eternal,

In every way.

Let us ever seek,

The Lord first for love;

As it shall endure,

Our hope from above.

When we come to know,

This love that is good;

We choose trust in Him,

Give grace where we should.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good, and that Your love endures forever. Forgive us for looking for validation through people, rather than through the eyes and heart of our Creator. Teach us to trust You and Your love for us, so that we would be confident in our value in You, rather than what we think others see. Show us how to love and value others in a way that pleases You and makes people aware of their worth in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks for Your goodness and Your lasting loyal love. Amen.

 

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

 

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God, You who have done great things. Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19

Love Can Be Found

Your love, God, fills the earth! Train me to live by Your counsel. – (Psalm 119:64, MSG)

Lord, Your faithful love fills the earth. Teach me Your laws. – (Psalm 119:64, ERV)

The earth is filled with Your love, Lord; teach me Your decrees. – (Psalm 119:64, NIV)

 

Everywhere the human eye can see, there is evidence of the Eternal’s love for us. The intentional, exquisite design of each individual we encounter, the beauty of nature, the intricacy of the countless systems set in place by His hands – I stand in awe when I give even a moment to think about the complexity of messages it requires to send information from my mind to my fingers to movement on the keyboard, yet the words that are typed on the screen occur so often with little thought or thanks for He who designed my body to function in this way. Just as it required training to learn to type without having to think about where each key is located, we need to be intentional to train our hearts and minds in the word of God, so that we don’t agonize to know what is right in His sight. May we take time to notice the love of the Lord that surrounds us, and be intentional to allow His word to train us in the ways we are meant to go.

 

The love of the Lord, IMG_3721

Fills the earth, surrounds;

Wherever we look,

His love can be found.

May we ever seek,

To walk in His ways;

Do right by the Lord,

For all of our days.

Lord, train up our hearts,

To walk in Your will;

Do what pleases You,

Your counsel, instill.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love is evident everywhere! Thank You that the earth is filled with Your love. Thank You that when we ask, You are faithful to answer and train us to live according to Your will. Forgive us for not seeking You and Your will as we walk out our days, and teach us to trust You for all of our days. Show us how to live according to Your counsel so that we love others in the way that You intended them to be loved. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize Your love all around us, and listen to Your leading in all that we do. Amen.

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

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

Confident that He Hears

And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him. – (1 John 5:14, NLT)

We can come to God with no doubts. This means that when we ask God for things (and these things agree with what God wants for us), God cares about what we say. – (1 John 5:14, ERV)

We live in bold confidence that God hears our voices when we ask for things that fit His plan. – (1 John 5:14, VOICE)

 

This truth is seemingly both a blessing and a curse. God is not a star to wish upon, nor a fairy godmother that grants our every whim; however, He is the One who sees and knows our hearts, and hears our prayers as we seek Him. We can be confident that our requests are heard when our hearts are turned toward His. That being said, there is always the struggle when we pray without ceasing for help or healing for someone who is ill or in need, and do not see the results that we hope He will bring. This is where faith in His unconditional love for us has to fill in, when the seeming lack of an answer leaves our hearts heavy and hurting. Yes, His ways are higher than our ways, and He knows each heartache before it happens. He does not cause our pain, but I believe that He uses those places where answers seem to have been silent, to strengthen our faith as He pours out His grace. Often, it is days, months, years or even decades later, that God brings beauty from our ashes where it seemed answers were absent. May we be ever confident in our God who hears, and trust in His unfailing love for us all.

 

We have this great hope, Rediscovering Dreams

In our God above;

He hears each request,

And listens in love.

Though often answers,

Don’t look as we’d like;

He knows what is best,

And will make things right.

On the darkest days,

His glory still shines;

His purpose and plans,

Are loving; divine.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can be confident that You hear our every prayer as we seek You with a heart after that which is good and pleasing in Your sight. Thank You that Your love is not dependent on whether or not our prayers are answered according to what we want to see. Forgive us for our doubts and disappointments when prayers seem to go unanswered. Teach us to trust You more, even in the most painful and difficult of circumstances. Show us how to love and support those who are in the midst of the wait, or who feel as if their prayers have fallen on deaf ears. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are confident that You heart us, and trust Your will, regardless of what we see before us. 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

Learn to Live a Life of Love

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. 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 5:1-2, MSG)

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, NIV)

 

As God’s children, we are called to go forth and love others as we are loved. The love that we are shown is patient, kind, protective, trusting, hopeful, perseverant and will never fail. Though we are human, and our capacity to carry this out perfectly will fall flat, in Christ, we are equipped and empowered to love like He loves us. We become like the company we keep, so if we are keeping company with Christ, our capacity to love as He loves grows greater. Our hearts become aligned with His, and we more readily recognize His will and how to walk in the light of His love. May we aspire to imitate God our Father, and live our lives filled with love in a way that is pleasing before Him.

 

To learn to love well,Enter With Thanksgiving

We need only seek;

Our Lord God above,

Love is how He speaks.

As His dear children,

He shows us the way;

To love with our lives,

For all of our days.

As we look to Christ,

Who made love so clear;

May we do likewise,

So all know He’s near.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to do as You have done for us, so that others too, may come to know the power of Your great love. Thank You that as we seek You and spend time with You, You show us how to follow the example that Christ set before us, and You equip us to go and do likewise. Forgive us for not living a life of love as You have called us to do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would imitate You and Your love in EVERYTHING that we do, because we are Your children. Let our lives speak volumes without our lips having to speak a single word. Show us how to love those around us in a way that pleases You and draws them unto Yourself. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we imitate You in all that we do, through living a life filled with love. 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

You Make Us Strong

You are their (our) glorious strength. It pleases You to make us strong. – (Psalm 89:17, NLT)

…because You are the splendor of their strength. By Your favor You make us strong. – (Psalm 89:17, CEB)

 

God is gracious and kind, and He is pleased to provide the strength that we need to navigate this life as we trust in Him. He grants us undeserved favor and the ability to persevere, as we allow Him to lead and guide us. The strength He grants and grows in us can be physical, emotional, and most certainly includes spiritual. For the past six months of my life, all three have been graced unto me as I have been working to rebuild from a compression fracture in my back. As a very active individual, being told that I was not to do the very activities that give me gladness, I have had to dig deep to depend on the Lord to make me strong. Though it has been a slow and tedious process, He is rebuilding and strengthening my body once again. Yes, of course I have to do my part and work hard, but His healing hand is upon me, and His grace and resolve are renewed within me each day. May we turn to the Lord in trust, as He is the splendor of our strength, and it pleases the Lord to make us strong in Him.

 

Our glorious strength,you-make-us-strong

Is straight from the Lord;

It’s by His favor,

Our hope is restored.

Where there is glory,

May our hearts applaud;

The mighty splendor,

Of our gracious God.

For all that we have,

Strength He has granted;

His favor given,

Trust deeply planted.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our strength. Thank You that it pleases You to make us strong in You. Thank You that You restore in us what has been broken, so that we may rise again in Your strength. Forgive us for our impatience with our own weakness, and our lack of faith in Your strength. Teach us to trust You more, to be our source of strength and hope and help in all things. Show us how to love others in such a way, that we might offer hope, strength and encouragement in the same way that You do unto us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to be our strength, and praise You for Your faithfulness in all things. Amen.

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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Capacity to Carry

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. – (Philippians 2:13, NLT)

Yes, it is God who is working in you. He helps you want to do what pleases Him, and He gives you the power to do it. – (Philippians 2:13, ERV)

 

Our capacity to carry out God’s will for our lives on our own, is futile at best. Without the power of God at work in us, we wander off course, and end up seeking to please ourselves. However, when we seek the Lord, and invite Him to work within us, He grants us both the desire and the power, to do what is pleasing before Him. That is not to say that we will always get it right, or that we will never stumble and fall, yet when we are in sync with His heart, we get back up and keep moving in the direction to which we are called. May we seek the Lord and His ways, so that God will work in us, granting us the desire and power to do what pleases Him.

 

The God of all grace,Living a Legacy Life

Is at work in you;

As we seek His face,

He makes our hearts new.

He grants us desire,

To walk in His way;

And His own power,

To rise and obey.

As we choose listen,

We make His heart glad;

What a joy to please,

Our Heavenly Dad.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and invest our hearts in relationship with You, You work in us and grant us the desire and power to do what pleases You. Forgive us for not seeking or neglecting the direction to which You have called us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would listen and obey every word You say, as Your way is always best, despite our perception. Show us how to love those around us in a way that is pleasing to You, so that they sense Your heart through our words and deeds. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to work in us, so that we may gain the desire and power to do Your will. 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

Teach Me to Seek

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God. May Your gracious Spirit lead me on a firm footing. – (Psalm 143:10, NLT)

Teach me to do what pleases You, because You are my God. Guide me by Your good Spirit into good land. – (Psalm 143:10, CEB)

 

We need to be taught in order to know the way in which we are meant to go. To learn, we must seek. God is gracious, as He is ever available and waiting to teach us what we need to know. As we seek Him, He reveals His heart and His will for us individually and corporately. May we choose to seek the Lord with our whole heart, so that we might know what is pleasing unto Him, and which direction we are meant to go. Lead us Lord, on the path of light and life.

 

For as we seek God,Refreshment Through Repentance

His will is made known;

He’s quick to teach us,

Firm footing is shown.

The Lord lights the way,

That we’re meant to go;

Led by His Spirit,

Obstacles made low.

He opens a path,

For our feet to tread;

As long as we seek,

By Him we’ll be led.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You teach us Your will and that You claim us as Your own. Thank You that You lead us by Your Spirit and show us where we are meant to go, if we seek You to lead us. Forgive us for not seeking. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek Your will and Your way in all things and at all times. Show us the path that keeps us in step with Your plan for us. Empower us to love others well, just as You so generously and graciously love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and Your will for our lives, so that we might do what pleases You. Amen.

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

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19