Lead with Listening

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – (James 1:19, NIV)

My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. – (James 1:19, ERV)

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. – (James 1:19, MSG)

 

Listening is an art form that can prevent misunderstanding and bring people closer together. Too often we speak to respond, rather than listen to understand and reply only if necessary. Anger flares and brash words are spoken when we communicate to make our own point, opinion or agenda heard, without taking pause to listen to others around us. I find that the majority of the time, my anger ignites when I jump to conclusions or explain a scenario in my own mind, rather than seeking to listen to whomever did, whatever it was, that incited my frustration to the point of anger. Each time I slow down, take a deep breath, and remind myself to listen with the intent to understand, I discover that there is a reason for the words or actions that transpired. By hearing the heart behind the person, anger or frustration fade, and compassion and kindness begin to rise. May we ever seek the Lord for strength and willingness to listen first, so that our response is a reflection of His heart, rather than a rash reaction that is not necessary to bring resolution.

 

Let us each choose first,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

To listen in love;

Seek to understand,

With grace from above.

If we’re slow to speak,

There’s less to regret;

Peace has a true chance,

God’s love, our asset.

Allow not anger,

To rise and release;

Instead, choose listen,

Discernment brings peace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to be people who seek listen to understand, speak with intention and grace, and to keep anger in check to prevent words or deeds that cannot be taken back. Forgive us for the times that we have allowed our ego or agenda to cause us to assume ill intent in anger, rather than listening with intention to understand all that is involved in what has transpired before us. Teach us to listen first, seeking to understand, so that if and when we respond, it may be done with love and grace. Show us how to love well through listening to those who need to be heard. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as You are the God who always hears our heart, regardless of what our words or deeds seem to indicate. Be glorified O God, through our decision to listen first and speak with godly intent, only when we understand, keeping anger in check and love abundant. Amen.

 

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

 

Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. – Proverbs 1:5

Trust is Greater than Fear

Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety. – (Proverbs 29:25, NLT)

Fear can be a trap, but if you trust in the Lord, you will be safe. – (Proverbs 29:25, ERV)

The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that. – (Proverbs 29:25, MSG)

 

Fear is a funny thing; it can prevent us from becoming the very person that God intended us to be. Incredibly, when we walk forward in faith, despite our fear, God meets us and leads us to the places we are meant to go. We grow bolder in our becoming, and discover so much more than we ever knew before. As we place our trust in God, rather than allow human opinion to adjust our sails, we discover the fullness and blessing beheld in all that He has for us. The joy and blessing found on the other side of fear are well worth the walk of faith. God has good in store for us. Often, we have to “climb the mountain” to arrive at the place where we are best able to appreciate the incredible view. May we release all fear into Your hands, trusting You to keep us safe.

 

Help us to not fear, The Favor of Forgiveness

For all that fear does;

Stop our momentum,

Trap us in what was.

But, trusting in God,

Our protection plan;

As He leads and guides,

Grants us strength to stand.

So, choose to fear not,

And trust in the Lord;

Keep moving in faith,

As grace He’ll afford.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving us past our fears. Thank You that as we bring our fears to You, You take them and grant us strength and safety to keep moving in the direction to which You have called. Forgive us for allowing fear to paralyze us and prevent us from being who You designed us to be or doing the things intended for us alone. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would face our fears with faith, as faith fuels our fight to keep forging forward. Show us how to love those around us in a way that eases fears and strengthens faith. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we place our fears in Your hands and trust You to protect us and provide for us as we seek to become who You have created us to be. Amen.

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

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. – Isaiah 41:13

Blot Out Barriers to Love

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. – (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves. Don’t be interested only in your own life, but care about the lives of others too. – (Philippians 2:3-4, ERV)

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. – (Philippians 2:3-4, NLT)

 

Selfishness and pride are both barriers to love. To love others as we are called to love, we have to take a genuine interest in people and care about their lives. As we set aside self and allow our focus to becomeotherly, pride is dispelled and love flows freely. This is not to say that goals are not good, but rather we ought to look to discover how we are best able to help others succeed in their goals as we work toward that which we too are pursuing. May we worry less about what we can attain or achieve on our own, and instead set our sights on how we might love others well.

 

Lord, help us to keep, Blot Out Barriers to Love

Aware of others;

May our hearts know well,

Sisters and brothers.

Remove within us,

Pride and selfishness;

And teach us to love,

With true tenderness.

Show our hearts the way,

To love and invest;

To put others first,

And support them best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to love others in the same way that You love us. Forgive us for our selfishness and pride that prevent us from investing in the lives of those around us. Teach us how to place others above ourselves in a way that encourages and values people, without losing our own sense of purpose in the process. Show us how to love as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set aside the parts of ourselves that withhold or withdraw, and move forward with open hearts and arms, set to support and serve. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth (Moreno) 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. – 1 Corinthians 13:4

 

 

Press On Toward the Prize

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. – (Philippians 3:13, NIV)

Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. – (Philippians 3:13, ERV)

No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. – (Philippians 3:13, TLB)

 

This is a goal to keep in mind as we pursue a life in Christ. If we keep dwelling on the past, we prevent ourselves from moving forward. However, when we make the choice to let go of what lies behind us, and rather, look forward to that which lies ahead, all of our energy and strength is focused in a forward direction. Progress and growth occur when we set our sights ahead. In Christ, our ultimate forward focus is heaven. We can have a heavenly mindset as we fix our eyes on the Lord and choose to love as we are loved by Him. Though not one of us has “arrived” yet, we can ever press on toward the prize, and continue to live out our days with our hearts set on His ways. May we let go of the past that hinders us, and press forward in faith, trusting in the goodness and love that lies ahead in the Lord.

 

Brothers and sisters,Delivering Dreams

All seeking the Lord;

Press on toward the prize,

Heaven’s the reward.

Let go of the past,

All that weighs us down;

Place all in His hands,

It’s where we are found.

Press on toward the prize,

No matter the fight;

The work is worth it,

To do what is right.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we can let go of our past sin, mistakes and failures, and move forward toward all that lies ahead in You. Forgive us for forgetting what ultimately matters when the weight of the world bears down on our shoulders. Teach us to lean into You, so that we would let go of the past and press forward to all that You have waiting as we walk forward in faith with You. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may let go of what is behind them and move forward toward all of the good that You have waiting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we let go of our past fears and failures, and move forward toward all that awaits in You. 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

Ragnar Reflections 2016

As I reflect upon the completion of my third Ragnar race, I am so grateful to have again had both the opportunity to participate, and the capacity to do so. I know that both are not options for everyone. Time away from family, even for two days, is a sacrifice not all are able to make. Additionally, being willing and able to run three times in less than a day and a half, on little to no sleep and make-shift meals is not something everyone can do. Some have physical limitations, whereas others have barriers that prevent pursuit of such things. Others, think we all are simply a bit off kilter to do what we do in the first place. Whichever the case may be, determined or a bit nutty – I know that His grace carried me when the road seemed extra long, and my legs felt as if they were done running before the race was through.

 

The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. – (1 Timothy 1:14)

 

I know that my context is no comparison to the original text, however, I know how very aware I was of God’s grace that covered me, and His love that met me, as sweet songs filled my mind to strengthen and encourage when I grew weary. The love of the Lord is faithful to meet us in all circumstances – even when running on the road in the middle of the night. In fact, I’d venture to say all the more. When we call on Him, He makes His presence known to us, and covers us with His love. May the grace and love of the Lord be poured out upon all, as we seek Him in faith, today and always.

 

The grace of the Lord,

Is poured upon us;

When we choose to seek,

To call on Jesus.

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Wherever we are,

The Lord meets us there;

Grants us love and grace,

He hears each prayer.

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In our space of need,

He’ll faithfully come;

Give strength to weary,

God, the Righteous One.

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Let us give God praise,

For His love and grace;

In Him we’re able,

To finish our race.

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Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the grace that You pour out abundantly upon us, as well as the faith and love that You have granted us through Your Son, Jesus. Thank You that when we seek You, we find You, regardless of when or where the seeking takes place. Forgive us for going forth without seeking, or for waiting to seek You until there is a need. Teach us to trust You with everything all of the time, so that we begin our day with conversation with You. Show us how to love others with the same love and grace that You so generously give to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to pour out the grace and love that You have given, by faith, so that many may come to know the fullness of Your love. Amen.

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

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

Sore

When muscles are reactivated that have not been utilized in a while, the morning after tends to be a bit sore. This applies both physically and emotionally. The very tangible and real version of this is the physical for me this morning, as yesterday morning I actually ran up sets of stairs at a local high school stadium. I’d hoped that a short run in the afternoon would help prevent this sort of soreness this morning, but too much time had passed and the muscles were already taxed. I have experienced this emotionally as well. After allowing myself to actually sit and experience, process or be present in whatever I was meant to face, I would discover that the next day I felt the same sort of weariness within my heart.

Our minds, bodies and hearts are meant to be utilized in the unique way that God designed them. For some, that includes strenuous exercise often, whereas with others, it is simply to move each day. However, with our minds and hearts, we are all meant to pursue Him with all that we are, and be willing to allow Him access to all. For me, the access portion is the hardest part, as it requires vulnerability and a willingness to face the difficult. I know for some, the physical is far more taxing; for others, the investing of the mind. Each of us are designed with different strengths, yet we are all called to continue to pursue Christ, even in our areas of weakness.

 

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – (Isaiah 40:29-31, NIV)

 

Though we will become weary and sore, He calls us to keep moving towards Him. The more we move our hearts, bodies and minds, the stronger they become and the less frequent the episodes of fatigue. The Lord sustains and renews all who hope in Him. May we choose to persevere in our pursuit of Christ, as He answers all who call on His Name.

 

When we do the things,Sore

We’ve not often done;

Weariness invades,

Leaving us undone.

The Lord’s ever near,

Ready to supply;

Strength to the weary,

Hope that helps us fly.

When our feet stumble,

The Lord takes our hand;

Shows us solid ground,

Where it’s safe to land.

Let not the weary,

The fear of the sore;

Keep hearts from pursuit,

Of all of God’s more.

With body and mind,

And with our hearts too;

Let us keep seeking,

The Lord and His truth.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we may become sore, weary and tired when we seek to use that which You’ve given us in ways that we haven’t in a while, You meet us where we are and show us Your goodness and grace. Thank You that the more often we utilize that which we have been given, the less often soreness from inactivity seeps in. Forgive us for not utilizing our bodies, minds and hearts in the ways in which You have designed them for us, individually. Teach us to trust You more, allowing You access in all areas, so that we would grow ever closer to You. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too would see the strength that You provide and the loving kindness You give to all those who choose abide. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give all that we are unto You, and trust You to lead and guide us in the ways we are meant to go. Amen.

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

For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. – 1 Peter 2:19

Let Our Hearts Sing Thanks

Let us come to Him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to Him. – (Psalm 95:2, NLT)

May we come before the Lord and give Him thanks. Let us sing and praise Him with the gratitude that rises in our hearts when we consider who He is, and all that He has done. Even when our present day is not our banner day, there is always reason to praise.

Yesterday did not end up as I would have hoped nor imagined. I spent much of the day and night seeking medical attention for one of my tender-hearted teens. They had been away on retreat with their youth group for the weekend, and upon returning, Adventurous was struggling with his asthma. Knowing the previous patterns that this sort of incident had taken in the past, a trip to Urgent Care up front, would likely prevent a trip to the ER later. We went to an Urgent Care that was new to us, and were seen right away. The entire staff was helpful and kind, and we were in and out in a bit over an hour. There was reason for our hearts to give praise as we parted, for the x-rays showed that his lungs were clear, indicating no sign of pneumonia or the like. He did, however, have an ear infection. Upon returning home, Adventurous laid down and took a nap for several hours. As he slept, I would do periodic check-ins to listen to his breathing. Unfortunately, that was growing steadily worse. After having prepared dinner for he and his brother, and having no success in waking him to come and eat, I realized that what I had hoped to avoid was going to need to happen.

I roused the sleeping cherub, and we were off for the ER. Due to the nature of our visit, we were taken back fairly quickly, as breathing is rather important. On our way back to a room, all I could do is give God thanks, as we passed by several very sick kiddos. Though Adventurous was struggling, the process of restoration was fairly routine. There was some waiting, and my sweet boy did not respond to the medication as quickly as he usually does, but he did respond, and we avoided being admitted. Three and a half hours after arrival, we were on our way home.

Let our hearts sing psalms,Let Our Hearts Sing Thanks

with all thanks and praise;

to our mighty God,

may our voices raise.

Despite our trials,

there’s reason to give;

thanks to the Father,

who loves and lets live.

We thank You, Lord God,

for love, life and breath;

for grace, forgiveness,

Your conquering death.

Let us not forget,

the wonder of You;

as we sing all praise,

and speak of Your truth.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You with thanksgiving and sing psalms of praise to You. Thank You that You are our reason to give thanks and praise. Forgive us for not recognizing our reason to give thanks in all things is You, regardless of what goes on around us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we can see clearly with our heart, what our eyes cannot perceive. Lead us to love others with Your love and grace, so that they too may long to seek Your face. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come before You with thanksgiving, and sing psalms of praise unto You. Amen.

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

They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. – Psalm 145:7

Be the Change

Injustices are everywhere, we simply need open our eyes and look around us to see suffering that need not be present. There is homelessness, abuse, hunger and human trafficking, and those are but a few out our own front door. The needs are far beyond what one person could conquer, however, if we do nothing, change will never occur. As I continue my book study, Undaunted, by Christine Caine, one of her passions is to help fight human trafficking. She goes far beyond sympathy for the suffering, as Caine goes into the places of known need, and seeks to save those stuck in the shackles of slavery. Her heart is for healing and restoring the victims to wholeness, and she works tirelessly to help establish safety nets for victims once they have been rescued.

 

27 million are in bondage around the globe. That number is staggering. The average age of trafficking victims is twelve, nearly the same age as my own precious progeny. Only 1-2% of victims are ever rescued. That means that 98-99% of those twelve-year-olds, are trapped in bondage until the day they die… (Statistics from www.thea21campaign.org)

 

So what are we to do? When Jesus saw an injustice, He walked toward it, not away from it. When He found out there were merchants misusing the temple and keeping the Gentiles from worshiping, He did not sit idly by. On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. – (Mark 11:15-16)

 

If Jesus responded that way to defiling the temple with extortion, imagine how He would respond to human lives being bartered… Our charge is to do something. We are not all called to go into the dark and scary spaces and rescue the captured. However, there are numerous roles to fill. We can pray. We can support. We can educate. We can advocate. We can protect. We can prevent and we can partner with those who are called to go and reach right into the lives that would have otherwise been lost, and be a part of the change. May we each give ear to God’s heart, so that we hear clearly what He would have us do.

 

Change only happens,Be the Change

when people choose rise;

to stand up and fight,

to open blind eyes.

Awareness becomes,

the mightiest sword;

striking injustice,

as lives are restored.

May we be the change,

that sees and then acts;

let’s go forth in love,

our fire to fight back.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You see and know all of the injustice in the world, and that not one is lost from Your sight. Thank You that You are greater than the ugliness and evil that permeates society. Thank You that in You, we can be the change that ends injustice for individuals everywhere. Thank You that even one life rescued and restored is reason for rejoicing. Forgive us for shying away from injustices we see, and help us to take things head on, just as Jesus did. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will hear Your specific instructions for us, individually, as You have a specific role for each of us to play. Help us to know what we are meant to do, and then grant us the strength and the courage to obey. Lead us to love others more than we ever thought possible, just as You love us. May many who are trapped in captivity – be it physically, emotionally or spiritually – be set free and find life everlasting in You. Be glorified Lord God, as we seek to be the change that You are calling us to be. Amen.

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

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