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

 

Seek to Serve

He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to Him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” – (Mark 9:35, NLT)

Jesus sat down and called the twelve apostles to Him. He said, “Whoever wants to be the most important must make others more important than themselves. They must serve everyone else.” – (Mark 9:35, ERV)

 

God’s economy is not like that of this world. We do not have to claw our way to the top, nor fight others to finish “best“. Instead, Christ calls us to prefer others, to serve others, to place the needs of others before our own selfish desires. In His eyes, we are lifted up when we lift others. The Lord is not interested in how much of an agenda we can accomplish, but rather He wants to see us love others well. May we seek God and give to others as we have so graciously been given.

 

There is no first place,Good Gifts

When focused on self;

But rather through love,

Shown to someone else.

He calls us to serve,

To prefer others;

To love and lift up,

Sisters and brothers.

Lord, teach us to see,

The needs all around;

May we choose love well,

Let Your light be found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us what it is to prefer others above ourselves, and to serve those around us. Thank You that You equip us to do all that You ask. Forgive us for our selfishness that keeps us looking inward rather than out. Teach us how to trust You more, so that we would seek to serve and love all whom we encounter. Show us how to love and serve as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to love and serve others, rather than seek to serve our own selfishness. 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

Listen, Serve, Obey

Serve only the Lord your God and fear Him alone. Obey His commands, listen to His voice, and cling to Him. – (Deuteronomy 13:4, NLT)

 

The charge given in this verse seems simple enough, yet if we truly examine our lives, it is a bit more complex. To serve only the Lord our God, is to lay down our own selfish desires, and instead do that which He is calling us to do, rather than what feels good in the moment. Serving God is not self-serving, it is sacrificial. There is an element of giving up our own desires, and trusting that the Lord’s ways are best. With fear, if we are overwhelmed with fear by situations and circumstances before us, then our fear is misappropriated. God is far greater than anything that could come against us, so rather than fear people or circumstances, we ought to stand in awe of the One who can alter the outcome of all. As we choose to listen to His voice, we will hear what He is asking. When we hear, we are called too, to obey. Often the very things that He is asking are seemingly impossible. It is the impossibilities that ought to compel us to cling to Christ, as He is our help and our hope. May we rise up with fresh resolve, and choose to listen, obey, serve, and cling to Christ as we stand in awe of who He is and all that He is able to do.

 

Help me to follow,His Perfect Plan

Your ways evermore;

To honor and serve,

As Your love restores.

May I stand in awe,

Fear You Lord alone;

For Your strength is more,

Than anything known.

Teach me to obey,

Each command You give;

Help me hear Your voice,

So truth in me lives.

No matter what comes,

May I ever cling;

To You, Lord Jesus,

True hope offering.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You speak to us and strengthen us to do that which You call us to do. Forgive us for serving ourselves, rather than You alone, and for fearing things before us, rather than recognizing the remarkable power in Your mighty hands. Teach us to cling to You, so that we will listen to Your voice and obey Your commands. Show us how to love those around us in such a way, that they will see Your heart through how we serve. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we learn to listen and obey, serving You alone, as we stand in awe of You. 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

 

Loved Without Limits

You are God’s dear children, so try to be like Him. Live a life of love. Love others just as Christ loved us. He gave Himself for us – a sweet-smelling offering and a sacrifice to God. – (Ephesians 5:1-2, ERV)

 

When we give our lives to Christ, we are His children. Our calling is to be a reflection of His radiance to all whom we encounter. His brilliance is best seen and understood through a life of love. Consistent care and kindness with no expectation in return, is the very sort of love that Jesus gave to us. He sacrificed all to create the opportunity for us to come to freely know Him. We too, can give up our own selfish desires to love without limits, and present opportunity for those around us to truly see the light of His love through us. May we embrace that which God has so generously given unto us, and go forth and love others with the very same love that draws people unto Him.

 

We are Your children,

beheld as Your own;

loved without limit,

so Your heart be known.

May we do likewise,

our very lives be;

A sweet sacrifice,

of love unto Thee.

May Your heart be clear,

to all whom we meet;

as we love like You,

may love be complete.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are Your children whom You loved so much, that You sent Your One and only Son for us. Thank You that Christ came and showed us what it is to truly live a life of love. Forgive us for our selfishness that withholds love when we ought to give. Teach us to trust You more, so that we will love freely and generously in all situations and circumstances, despite how we feel – allowing You to move in and through us. Show us how to love others as You love us, so that they may come to know You, personally. Be exalted O God, as we live lives of love, just as Christ loved us. Amen.

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

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22-23

 

 

What Does Denial Do?

Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross to follow me.” – (Luke 9:23)

 

Jesus was explaining the depth of commitment required of those who choose to follow Him. To deny ourselves is to set aside our own agenda and selfish desires, and to use our time, energy and resources in a way that honors Christ, according to what He asks of us. In order to take up our cross, we must be willing to imitate the attitude of Christ, and obey His commands. Our allegiance to Christ must be above all else; unwilling to be compromised, even in the face of death. Though there is a cost to follow Christ – all that we are; the return far exceeds our investment. Not only do we have His help and His presence here and now, but we have the blessed assurance of knowing that our eternity is secure in the safety of our Savior. May we choose Christ today, and always.

 

To follow the Lord,MSH30

requires great price;

it’s all that we are,

invested in Christ.

Our whole heart and mind,

committed to Him;

no more self-seeking,

nor contest to win.

His Spirit within,

will help us obey;

live life as He lived,

in love each new day.

No matter what comes,

there’s no compromise;

when we are in Christ,

we’re seen through His eyes.

Let us stand in strength,

the strength of the Lord;

our Help and our Hope,

let Him be adored.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we choose You, You have already chosen us. Thank You that You meet us where we are, and change us from the inside out. Thank You that You strengthen us and lead us, and reveal to us what it means to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to follow You. Forgive us for our selfishness and our disregard for Your direction, and help us to hear and obey You clearly. Grant us the courage to trust You completely and the strength to go wherever You ask us to go. Let us love others as You so generously and graciously love us, and may lives be changed and hearts turned forever towards You. Be exalted O God, as we daily choose to follow You. Amen.

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

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

Wanting the World for Our Children

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of Him.

“What is it you want?” He asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at the left in your kingdom.”

– (Matthew 20:20-21)

 

As a mom, I can understand the motivation that was driving Zebedee’s wife’s question. She wanted assurance that her boys would be secure and established not only now, but in Christ’s kingdom, forever. Though the question was a bit over the top, the heart that had the audacity to ask, was one of a mama who wanted the very best for her boys.

 

Based on the response that Jesus gave, our charge as parents to help establish security for our children, is to teach them to have a heart to serve Him, rather than to pursue recognition. If we keep in mind that our children are not our own, but rather are a precious gift from God, granted for a tender time to raise in the way that He calls them, and then are meant to be released to go forth to pursue whatever path He has placed before them, we may continually be in a space of lifting them up before Him. Our prayers do not go void, and our children never stop being our kids.

 

Faithful the love,Wanting the World for Our Children

of a mother’s heart;

seeks to provide,

safety from the start.

The greatest gift,

granted as they grow;

roots deep in Christ,

so His path, they’ll know.

Lead them in love,

show a heart that serves;

quick to forgive,

give praise that’s deserved.

Not in our strength,

but clearly in His;

faith, hope and love,

great blessings He gives.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the treasures that children are to us. Thank You that You consider us Your children, regardless of our age or upbringing. Thank You that You are loving and full of grace, and that You provide all that we need to parent and love children well. Forgive us for our own selfish desires for our kids, and help us to submit our children wholly unto You. May Your purposes and plans for their lives come to pass. Teach us how to love and raise them in the way that they are meant to go, and help us to cover them in prayer, always. May many come to know the gift of Your goodness and grace through our precious progenies. Be glorified through the faithfulness of our families. Amen.

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

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy.

– Hebrews 4:16