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

Love Always

(Love) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, NIV)

Love never gives up on people. It never stops trusting, never loses hope, and never quits. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, ERV)

Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. – (1 Corinthians 13:7, TPT)

 

This is the time of year that I find myself shaking my head in frustration and disbelief at times, as students struggle to settle into the routine that has been established and carried out all year long. It requires regular self-reminders that it takes very little to disrupt the balance in a young person’s life, and something as simple as sunshine, can contribute numerous distractions. My charge is to never give up, to hold hope and choose to persevere. How I spend the remaining twenty-six school days with my students matters. My prayer is that my classroom would be a safe space where students know that I believe the best in them, that they would see that failure is not defeat, and that perseverance pays off. May we each choose to protect, trust, hope and persevere in the places where we are called.

 

Love is the answer,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

When all goes awry;

For where there is hope,

There’s reason to try.

Love never gives up,

Because things are tough;

It chooses persist,

Love provides enough.

Love always believes,

The best for others;

It will not relent,

For love’s what matters.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the perfect example of love unto us, as You always protect, always are trustworthy, always give us hope, and always grant us the strength to persevere as we seek You. Thank You that You grant us the strength to do the same. Forgive us for the times that we grow weary in choosing love. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You to supply us with all that we need to never give up on those around us, no matter how difficult things seem. Show us how to love others in a way that provides safe shelter, shows others that we have their very best in mind, and that we are for them; always. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to love others as You so completely love each of us. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Kindness to Cope

Now let Your unfailing love comfort me, just as You promised me, Your servant. – (Psalm 119:76, NLT)

Now comfort me with Your faithful love, as You promised. – (Psalm 119:76, ERV)

Send Your kind mercy-kiss to comfort me, Your servant, just like You promised You would. – (Psalm 119:76, TPT)

 

Can I be really raw and real right now? Though I know this is true and I trust Him, I am struggling in my current circumstance. Yesterday, I went to what I thought would be a fairly routine check back for my fractured fibula, but as the appointment unfolded, the orthopedist had some concerns about the swelling that was still present in my lower leg. She sent me to ultrasound to have imaging done to be certain there were no blood clots, as occasionally a clot could cause swelling such as mine. As it turned out, her suspicion was confirmed, and I do indeed have a blood clot in my calf. I was promptly whisked from one doctor to the next to the next, until I ultimately ended up in the ER for bloodwork so that they could start me on blood thinners immediately. Now, here is the space of struggle… I know that God, in His great love for me, gave the doctor the wisdom to check for a blood clot. Additionally, each next door I was meant to walk through to work toward solutions, opened rapidly. The difficulty that I am having in all of this is the loss of my mobility due to the fracture, and now knowing that I will be on blood thinners for a season and not allowed to partake in contact sports.  After having trained with my football team since the fall, I am deeply disappointed. Likely, my difficulty sleeping at night is further fueling my frustration. At the end of the day, I know God is good and that He will meet me and comfort me, as His presence is promised forever. May we ever be open to receive the comfort conveyed by our Creator, and trust that His promises are always true.

 

With unfailing love, peace in presence

The Lord, He is near;

To be our comfort,

As each cry He hears.

His presence promised,

His faithful love, true;

Provides what’s needed,

As He walks us through.

Let mercy surround,

In our fear and doubt;

By Your love, lead us,

Your path You’ve laid out.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your unfailing love is present to comfort us, just as You promised. Forgive me for allowing my frustration to compete with my gratitude in the good that You do and how You make Your mercy known. Teach me to trust You more, so that I would lay hold of Your unfailing love and find comfort in Your promised presence forever. Show me how to love those around me with love that comforts and remains present through difficulties. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for Your unfailing love and trust in Your promises that we know are true. 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

Provision of Peace and Strength

The Lord gives His people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, NLT)

May the Lord make His people strong. May the Lord bless His people with peace. – (Psalm 29:11, ERV)

We ask You, Eternal One, to give strength to Your people; Eternal One, bless them with the gift of peace. – (Psalm 29:11, VOICE)

 

Emotions are running high, and kids are on edge daily as the winter break whispers of its nearness. The uncertainty of what is coming when so many of our students desperately need routine, is enough to send them in a downward spiral that requires more strength and resolve than one might think is humanly possible to perpetuate for such a length of time. Strength and peace are needed now, more than ever – for students, teachers, and every staff member who interacts with these sweet souls in distress. It is my prayer that God would give strength to the weary, and bless every heart with His perfect peace. May we walk beside one another, shoulder-to-shoulder, encouraging and lifting up, as strength and peace are present wherever people come together with purpose.

 

The Lord is our Source, Provision of Peace and Strength

He makes our hearts strong;

When we’re feeling weak,

He helps lead us on.

Where chaos seems reign,

The Lord brings His peace;

He settles our hearts,

As grace is released.

Let’s rise up, dear ones,

Seek the Lord of all;

He knows all our need,

And won’t let us fall.

Look too for others,

To walk alongside;

Encourage, support,

Let peace and strength rise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our Source of strength and peace, no matter what comes our way. Lord, be with all of those who struggle this time of year, as there is uncertainty or sorrow in the season. Give us grace to extend loving kindness, so that Your heart may be made known. Forgive us for our frustration with behaviors and attitudes that are the manifestation of people’s pain. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may see things through Your eyes. Show us how to bring peace to the chaos, and how to love in Your strength in a way that soothes unsettled souls. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we receive Your strength and peace, and go forth and give as we have been given. Amen.

 

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

 

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15

Beyond Routine – There is Rest

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:5, NIV)

Oh, I must find rest in God only, because my hope comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:5, CEB)

 

As an individual who thrives on routine, particularly the one by which I begin each day, it has been a strange few days of breaking that which is customary. For forty-eight hours, I have essentially unplugged. I have not begun the last two mornings with my quiet time, coffee and writing, nor have I even had my phone readily nearby. We had a short window of time to travel to my mom’s home on the other side of the mountains, visit with her, my sister, brother-in-law, and nephews, and catch up with friends who came and camped out in mom’s backyard. It was a time of connecting and rest. No schedules, no agenda, yet the little time we had was packed with laughter, fun, and relaxation. In a place where the evidence of His hand is astounding, I found rest in the peaceful space of being surrounded by loved ones in a place that is a sort of sanctuary for my soul. Though it was not my intention, I am quite certain that it was as God intended, as a brand-new school year is set to begin tomorrow with staff, and on Wednesday with students. The spaces in my soul that felt uneasy and a bit anxious about what this new year may hold, seem to have faded away. My hope is restored and my resolve strengthened, as I prepare for what lies ahead. May we ever embrace the rest the Lord offers, remembering that He knows best how to recharge and restore the spaces within us that require His rest.

 

Wherever He leads, Beyond Routine There is Rest

May my heart choose go;

A break from routine,

For what’s best, God knows.

Sometimes there is rest,

When we choose slow down;

Do as the Lord leads,

It’s where peace is found.

As we are recharged,

Our hope is restored;

All thanks be to God,

Whom our hearts adore.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that sometimes rest is found in the breaking of routine, even when the routine is good. Thank You that people are Your priority, and when we do the same, we are blessed in ways we might not have expected. Thank You that You provide renewed hope in the spaces of rest. Forgive us for not slowing down to rest in You, however You ask us to rest. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would recognize the remarkable ways that You grant us new hope as we rest in You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides hope and encourages rest in spaces where it is needed most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as our souls find rest in You and You fill us with Your hope anew. 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

The Master of Peace

May the Master of Peace Himself give you the gift of getting along with each other at all times, in all ways. May the Master be truly among you! – (2 Thessalonians 3:16, MSG)

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all. – (2 Thessalonians 3:16, NLT)

We pray that the Lord of peace will give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all. – (2 Thessalonians 3:16, ERV)

 

Peace can sometimes feel elusive when the season is so full of activities. Though they are good and exciting and enjoyable, they can be stealers of peace if we do not seek to keep our Savior at the center. Despite the lack of daily scheduled routine, my days continue to be filled and busy. The need to begin my day seeking the Lord does not change, and I recognize His peace that is present in places it otherwise would be absent. As I seek Him, I find that His peace follows me throughout my day, and He makes His peace known to me through my interactions with others. May we seek the Lord and His peace in all things, so that in every situation His peace may be made known.

 

The Master of peace,IMG_2491

Is faithful to give;

The grace that we need,

To tranquilly live.

His peace and His grace,

Are ours to receive;

To live and love well,

Show hope to believe.

May our Lord of all,

Be with you always;

Giving You His peace,

As you rise each day.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Lord of peace, and that You give Your peace when we call on You. Thank You that You can bring Your peace into the most tumultuous of situations and circumstances because of who You are. Forgive us for forgetting how great You are. Teach us to trust Your peace more than the chaos that we see. Show us how to present Your peace to those around us in turmoil, as we love like You love us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You for peace at all times and in every situation. All glory unto You, our Mighty Source of peace. 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

 

Even in the Small Things

This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him. – (Psalm 91:2, NLT)

I say to the Lord, “You are my place of safety, my fortress. My God, I trust in You.” – (Psalm 91:2, ERV)

 

Though I am a person who typically requires less sleep than most, I do struggle to function well if I get fewer than four hours in a given night. Saturday night, the already late event we went to was delayed by an hour in beginning, and because it was over an hour away from home, I did not even get home to get to bed until nearly 2:00 am. Sunday, I had already committed to running media at both services at church, so that meant I needed to be there by seven-thirty. In order for me to do my usual morning routine, it requires at least ninety minutes. Graciously, God (and strong coffee) kept me alert and able to do that which I had agreed to do. After, I had already determined that the boys and I should drive to see my Mom, as it was her first Mother’s Day without her mom. This is where I felt that the need to trust Him to be our safety and refuge was needed, as going to see her was a non-negotiable. There was only one point on the way where I began to feel drowsy. I made a pit stop for snacks and caffeinated beverages, and we were good the remainder of the drive. Though far shorter a visit than any of us would have liked, I knew after our time together, that it was exactly what we were meant to do. The drive home was relatively easy and uneventful, and my copilot did a great job of making sure I was alert. God is faithful to answer as we ask, even in such seemingly small things. May we ever remember that He alone is our refuge and place of safety; our God in whom we can trust.

 

The Lord’s my refuge,Even in the Small Things

In Him we can trust;

Our place of safety,

He is true and just.

No matter what comes,

Big things or small;

To Him we can run,

He can handle all.

So speak out in faith,

Declare what is true;

“God, You’re my fortress,

And I trust in You.”

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our refuge and place of safety. Thank You that You are our help and worthy of our trust. Thank You that You equip and empower us to do that which You call us to, regardless of how things appear. Forgive us for our lack of faith, and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to run to You as our refuge in all things and at all times. Lead us to love those around us in a way that offers safety and trust where it has not been known before. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our place of safety; always. 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

Trust, for He is Good

But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me. – (Psalm 13:5-6, NIV)

But I trust in Your unfailing love. I will rejoice because You have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me. – (Psalm 13:5-6, NLT)

 

This morning, for whatever reason, I am just plain tired. The good news is that today is not an ordinary school day. It is an early dismissal day for the students, so the energy required on these days is different than on typical school days. Shortened classes go quickly, and after the students leave for the day, the remainder of the afternoon is spent collaborating with colleagues. In a sense, this is a bit of a rescue from my own exhaustion. Just knowing that I need only rise up until 12:40, is an encouragement in and of itself. At just the right time, there is a break in my ordinary routine, and I feel rescued from the weariness that is threatening. God knows what we can take, and provides precious rest in places where it is needed most. His love never fails, and I am so grateful that He cares about the smallest of details. May we ever trust in the unfailing love of the Lord, and rejoice in the salvation that He has provided. Let our hearts sing praise, for He is always good.

 

I trust in Your love,Be Transformed 1

My God and my King;

For You’re always good,

And rescue, You bring.

Salvation from death,

But also You give;

Love, strength, hope and life,

So we truly live.

Let our hearts choose sing,

All praise unto You;

For Your loving grace,

That carries us through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your unfailing love that saves. Thank You that You rescue us when we lose our way, and You lead us with Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You are good and loving and kind, and that You meet us where we are but do not allow us to stay stuck in spaces we do not belong. Forgive us for not seeking You when we feel stuck, and help us to ever trust in Your grace and strength to be our help and our hope at all times. Show us how to rejoice and give praise to You, as to You alone, all praise is due. Help us to love those around us in tangible ways that help them to see how much You care. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your unfailing love and sing praise to You forever. 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

Good and Faithful Forever

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. – (1 Chronicles 16:34, NLT)

Give thanks to the Lord because He is good. His faithful love will last forever. – (1 Chronicles 16:34, ERV)

 

This morning, though I woke easily to my alarm, my heart did not feel prepared to return to my regular routine. So much was packed into the four-day weekend, that no real rest was had and I found myself longing for Christmas break. As the above passage appeared as the verse of the day on my Bible app on my phone, I had a bit of an attitude adjustment. Though I am still very much looking forward to a longer break, I am so grateful for the abundant blessings that He poured out upon me over the past four days. My boys and I were kept safe as we traveled a few hundred miles south to my sister’s home to celebrate Thanksgiving, and had an uneventful drive home. I am grateful for the fantastic family time that we had together, and know how blessed we were to be able to spend time. God’s goodness continued to be poured out upon us as we spent our entire Saturday gathering with dear friends. Sunday was filled with our church family and the typical necessary preparations for the coming week. The Lord’s faithful love was made evident through the hands and hearts of all of those with whom we gathered. My heart is full and I am thankful for God’s goodness that lasts forever. May we slow down and recognize the goodness of God that is all around us, and give thanks to Him whose faithful love endures forever.

 

Let our hearts give thanks,Enter With Thanksgiving

Because God is good;

His love always lasts,

Our hope understood.

When life is busy,

Take pause and slow down;

We need remember,

Where our peace is found.

All thanks to the Lord,

For love that endures;

No matter what comes,

In Him, hope’s secure.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and that Your faithful love lasts forever. Thank You that You bless us and keep us and remain with us, no matter what lies before us. Forgive us for our lack of gratitude for the things that You have done. Teach us to have hearts full of thanks and praise, regardless of what is presented before us. Help us to trust You more, so that we would remember that Your goodness and faithfulness remain forever, no matter what we see. Show us how to love others with goodness and faithfulness, just as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks because You are good and faithful forever. Amen.

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

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

Fear Not in the Face of the Unknown

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. – (Isaiah 41:10, NLT)

Don’t worry – I am with you. Don’t be afraid – I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. I will support you with my right hand that brings victory. – (Isaiah 41:10, ERV)

 

These words are incredibly encouraging reminders of truth, as I am standing in the face of the unknown. Over the weekend, as I competed in a Tactical Strength Challenge, I sustained an injury in my first event (of three). At the time, this verse proved to be true, as I had some fearful and worried moments, as pain began to radiate from the small of my back. I had to decide whether or not to keep going. For me, it was a decision to trust in His strength, as He had already brought me so far. He did sustain me, and ultimately, I did exceedingly better than I anticipated I would, considering I was finishing the competition in pain. After seeing a doctor and having x-rays taken, fear and discouragement again are seeking foothold, as the injury has turned out to be more significant than anticipated. Somehow, I suffered a compression fracture in my low back during my third and final deadlift. Now I am at an impasse, where I must slow down and take a break from my normal routine of training, as I seek the best possible solution for a speedy recovery. Fear and discouragement are fighting for a foothold, as movement is so much a part of my existence. I know God is good, and that He holds me in His hand. In Him, just as He sustained me and granted me strength, despite pain, He will lead me in the direction I am meant to go to find healing and wholeness once again. The Lord will uphold me, and I can trust in Him. May we give our fears and worries to Him, and allow the Lord to be our strength and support, as all victory comes from Him.

 

Do not be afraid,photo

For the Lord is good;

No matter what comes,

Let‘s trust as we should.

For He is our God,

Where all strength comes from;

Victory granted,

Through faith in His Son.

Do not let worry,

Be what our hearts see;

Instead, let His hand,

Bring our victory.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we need not be afraid nor discouraged, for You are our strength and our help. Thank You that You hold us up with Your victorious right hand. Forgive us for allowing fear and discouragement to find footing in our hearts when unexpected things come at us and knock us down. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our strength and our hope, and all that we need is found in You. Show us how to walk victorious in You, so that we might be an encouragement to those around us. Lead us to love well, all who are afraid or discouraged, so that they too may find Your hope and help. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in Your strength and help, and choose to place fear and discouragement in Your hands. Amen.

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

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