Grief Wanes in the Wake of Gratitude

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. – (Colossians 2:6-7, NIV)

You accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, so continue to live following Him. You must depend on Christ only, drawing life and strength from Him. Just as you were taught the truth, continue to grow stronger in your understanding of it. And never stop giving thanks to God. – (Colossians 2:6-7, ERV) 

Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness. – (Colossians 2:6-7, VOICE)

 

Grief shows up in unexpected spaces, and seeks to sink the soul. Last night, as I attempted to fall asleep, I was flooded by sorrow as I longed to be with my family. I have never been separated from my boys for more than a week, and after nearly three months, this mama’s heart has found its limit. My heart simply grieved for the time lost. Missed concerts, activities, milestones, mornings, moments, and the joy of doing life together. It has always been my boys and me, and this space of occasional visits on a weekend that works, is simply not enough. I know it is a preview of adulthood, but we have not yet arrived at that point, and I do not want to miss out on the precious time that I am given. This morning, as I read and pondered these two verses from Colossians 2, I recognize how relevant this particular passage is for me right now. The best remedy for grief is gratitude. I cannot dwell on time lost, but rather must fix my eyes, heart and mind on the blessings that I have before me. My boys want me to be with my mom, as they know how important it is that she have her daughter with her to care and advocate on her behalf. Both boys have set aside their own desires, and are thinking of their grandmother first. As their mom, I am beyond grateful for their kind and generous hearts. Additionally, there is the obvious, as I cannot even begin to unpack my praise to God for sparing the life of my mom. She has been the most incredible example of selfless love throughout my entire life, so how could I not be present and invest all that I am in walking beside her on this road to recovery?

As for mom’s moving along, she had her first attempt at walking with a cane yesterday. There is a huge learning curve, and she was not a fan, due to the seeming unsteadiness in comparison to her walker, yet she persevered, and walked a good fifteen feet with it, before transitioning back to the walker to complete two lengths of the hallway and into the kitchen. Her interest in getting out of the house continued as well, as she advocated to go get coffee and spring rolls from our favorite takeout place. We enjoyed our drive into town and back, and then had a very relaxing afternoon and evening. I think that it was needed after the crazy, busy weekend of birthday fun, as it was the first time that there were no extra people in the house. Today mom has occupational and speech therapies on the agenda, and tomorrow, my sister will arrive back in town so that I may return home for a bit of a furlough.

May we be strong in faith and overflowing with gratitude, for it is in this space that we find peace.

 

When we live in Christ, img_2019-07-16_06-35-183702170351870846491.jpg

Strong rooted in Him;

Our faith is built up,

To graciously live.

As we are built up,

Strengthened we give praise;

Hearts overflowing,

With thanks all our days.

In everything,

Pursue gratitude;

Grace overpowers,

Heartache’s solitude.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we are strengthened in faith as we praise and give thanks. Thank You that gratitude helps overcome the weight of grief. Forgive us for sitting in our own heartache rather than seeking You to show us Your kindness and grace. Teach us to trust You more, as You are loving and kind, ready to hold us and lift us up, no matter how we come. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may strengthen, encourage, help and hold others in their spaces of grief or lack. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to be our strength and our salvation forever. Amen.

 

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

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – Psalm 107:1

Devoted and Delighted

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourself. – (Romans 12:10, NIV)

Love each other in a way that makes you feel close like brothers and sisters. And give each other more honor than you give yourself. (Romans 12:10, ERV)

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. – (Romans 12:10, NLT)

 

Devoted love is a love that willingly chooses the other, regardless of how the recipient appears before them. To love with devotion is to be committed to caring and seeing the other person through, no matter what comes their way. Throughout my life, I have had such devotion in love modeled for me well, through both my grandmother, and my mom. My gram was a natural encourager and lifter of souls, as she loved with her whole heart and was committed to make sure that we all knew her heart for us, individually. Not only was I the recipient of her devoted love, but I was witness to the power it provided in the lives of those around me. Mom, her only daughter, has followed closely in her footsteps, as my sister and I still marvel at how she, as a single mom, managed to attend every game, concert, banquet, ceremony, etc., work full-time, manage a household, keep our home and yard beautiful, and always welcome our friends into our home with open heart and arms. Even as we have grown, married and had children of our own, mom has managed to be present at nearly all of the significant events in the lives of our children. She has driven hundreds of miles to be sure that each of her grandsons knows how proud she is of them, and she honors each of them and loves them lavishly.  With that as our model, how could my sister and I possibly choose do anything differently? With mom in a time of need, our only choice is to love with all that we are, and to delight in doing all that we can to honor whatever her heart desires. My favorite response to mom these days is, “As you wish.” She giggles every time I answer that way, but I know it delights her heart to know that she is loved as deeply as she loves others.

As for the practical application and fruit of devotion, yesterday was an incredible day for mom before my guys left to drive home! She determined that she would show them how she was doing with her walking in the hallway with her walker, and I had Mark stand and video so that we could send documentation to my sister. One of my guys followed behind us with the wheelchair in case she grew weary, and the other stood back to watch what would transpire. Incredibly, mom shocked us all, herself included, as she walked the ENTIRE length of the hallway! Prior to yesterday, she had only gone halfway unassisted. Happy tears were shared by all as we celebrated this incredible and hope-filled milestone. If she could double her distance in a matter of two days, imagine what will transpire in a matter of a few weeks?! We were beaming ear-to-ear as we sent off my guys to drive home. It had been a wonderful weekend together, and had ended perfectly. The remainder of the day was rather relaxing, as it was spent resting, doing a variety of mom’s PT and OT exercises, and movie watching. Sleep again went well last night, as there were only two wake-ups. We slept in longer than usual this morning, as our early breakfast time was nearly an hour later than we are accustomed. Today, mom has both physical therapy and occupational therapy, so I anticipate a great day ahead.

May we ever seek the Lord to equip us to be devoted to one another in love, and to delight in honoring each other above ourselves.

 

Devoted in love, img_20190630_100257_3922772888685512407775.jpg

Is love’s true design;

To prefer others,

And choose to be kind.

Honor each other,

Choose lift and build up;

Love through the trials,

And never give up.

Set down our own wants,

And see other’s need;

Love with our whole lives,

By God’s grace, proceed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have shown us what it is to be devoted to one another in love and to honor others above oneself through the life of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You that You equip us to do the same. Forgive us for the times that we have set aside devotion or honor for our own agenda. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be devoted in love and honor others, as You love and honor us. Show us how to love those around us in a way that makes Your love tangible. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose to be devoted in love and help us delight in honoring others above ourselves. Amen.

 

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

 

Protect me, for I am devoted to You. Save me, for I serve You and trust You. You are my God. – Psalm 86:2

An Otherly Outlook

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 let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first. – (Philippians 2:3-4, VOICE) 

 

This passage is a reminder to conduct ourselves with an “otherly outlook. What this means is that we ought to consider others, not just self. As we operate in our daily lives, we need to value others – their opinions, interests, time, state of mind, and their entire existence. It does not mean that we have to agree with all that they think or do, but rather we must value the person and treat them accordingly. Humility listens and loves and honors others first. If our focus is on loving and valuing others, our own selfish tendencies are set aside. May we seek and depend on the Lord to lead us, as we look to His example to carry this out by loving and treating others with His very best in mind. 

 

In all that I do,

Peace Through Understanding

May I set aside; 

My own selfishness, 

That’s the cause of pride. 

Instead, help me seek, 

To see others first; 

To listen and love, 

Help each know their worth. 

May my sense of self, 

And view of others; 

Be seen through Your eyes, 

All sisters, brothers. 

For You showed us how, 

Jesus led the way; 

To do all in love, 

And extend Your grace. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us how to live and love with others in mind. Thank You that through Him, we too, can love in the same way. Forgive us for the times that our own agendas and pride have prevented us from loving others in the way in which You intended. Teach us to trust You more, so that we seek Your heart and eyes to be the lens through which we see the world. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates how much they are valued. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to show us how to let go of our own pride and agenda, and live lives that are otherly. Amen.

 

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

 

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25

To Rest and Recharge

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)

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. – (Psalm 62:5, NLT)

 

Yesterday was an unusual day for me. Though I easily woke at the typical time, the more I moved around, the more I became aware of my own weariness from my lack of sleep the night prior. After doing my devotional reading, and even determining which verse stood out to me, I was struggling to stay alert as my fingers kept missing the keys they were aiming for on the keyboard. Thinking perhaps a shower would help, I set aside finishing my reflecting and writing, and went downstairs. However, after that, my head felt heavy, and all I wanted to do was lie down; so, I did. At first, I thought a short “power nap” would do, but soon discovered that my body really needed real rest. What I realized is that He was providing me time to recharge, as God did not demand that I finish writing, and that He was ready to grant me the rest needed if I would only slow down and just rest. The extra hour plus of sleep that I gained yesterday morning carried me through a full day of meetings, followed by a long union meeting in a hot high school gym to learn about and vote upon our newly proposed teaching contract. The vote was ratified and our district is pleased to have a nearly unanimous “Yes” vote on the new three-year contract. I went to sleep easily, knowing that hope in Him and the rest I’d found had carried me through a day that would have otherwise been difficult. May we ever seek the Lord to be our rest, for our hope comes from Him alone.

 

When weariness comes,

wp-153571736527478849930734026922.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

We need to find rest;

In Christ, choose recharge,

For His grace is best.

The Source of all hope,

On God we depend;

As His love for us,

Does not know an end.

So, ever choose seek,

The Lord God above;

Our hope and our rest,

He grants us in love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing faithfulness and love. Thank You that You see us and know us, and are ever ready to grant us the rest and hope that we need. Forgive us for not slowing down to recognize our own spaces of need or for neglecting to seek You. Teach us to trust You more, as You are our grantor of hope and rest. Show us how to love those around us in a way that provides the help and hope that is needed to lighten hearts and loads, and ultimately draw people unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, Lord. Be glorified O God, as we find our rest in You, our holder of hope. Amen.

 

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

 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

A Forward Focus

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. – (Philippians 3:13, NLT)

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)

Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know that I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I am leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission. – (Philippians 3:13, VOICE)

 

We are always a work in progress. Not one of us ever “arrives“. However, we can leave our past in the past, and keep pressing forward to that which God has called us, as He transforms us in the process. Each misstep can be an opportunity to learn and grow, if we allow God to lead, and choose to willingly follow. Often He will use our greatest struggles to later become strengths for His glory. May we set aside all that hinders us, and keep pressing forward toward all that God has in store. He is good, and what lies ahead is far better than anything that lies behind.

 

Brothers and sisters,The Author and Finisher of Our Faith

Though we’ve far to go;

The place we are in,

Has required growth.

Forget the old life,

The things of the past;

Press on toward the prize,

And all that shall last.

For when we trust God,

And seek what is true;

Our goals have purpose,

As hope is made new.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we still have a long way to go, we can focus on what lies ahead. Thank You that our hope is held in You and our future is secure when we place our trust in You. Thank You that You have a plan and a purpose for each of us, and as we seek You, You show us the way to go. Forgive us for wandering our own way, or for losing focus. Teach us to keep our eyes on the prize, remembering that the end goal is eternity with You. Show us how to love well, all those who cross our paths, so that they too, may come to know the hope that is found in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we forget about the past and fix our eyes forward on what You have placed before us. Amen.

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

God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. – Genesis 21:6

Come to Rest

Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, NLT)

“Come to Me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, CEB)

 

Though the holiday season is busy, as an educator I am blessed with a break that is long enough to actually slow down, set aside the weight of what wears me out, and really rest. There is time to catch up on the little things that need doing around the house, and I am able to sleep longer hours than I ordinarily do. These are the sort of things that lighten the load when the time comes to return to school again, as I will go back rested with less on the list that seems to hang over my head. The incredible thing about the promise in these words spoken by Jesus, is that a vacation is not required to go to Him and hand over our burdens and allow Him to grant us rest. He willingly and lovingly will help handle the load that we are bearing, and provide opportunity for us to find rest in Him. In Him, our strength is renewed and our load is lightened, even in the busiest of times. May we look to the Lord who is our strength, and take our burdens before Him, trusting that He is the One who will grant us the rest that we need.

 

Ever He calls us,IMG_0439

The weary and worn;

To come close to Him,

With strength, He’ll adorn.

He will grant us rest,

From the weight we bear;

No more to struggle,

The burden, He’ll share.

Come all you weary,

For Jesus is best;

His arms are open,

In love, He’ll grant rest.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to come to You when we are weary and worn from bearing heavy burdens, and You give us rest. Thank You that Your shoulders are far stronger than ours, and that no burden is too heavy for You to bear. Forgive us for attempting to carry the weight of the world on our own shoulders, rather than seeking and trusting You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would bring our burdens before You, asking You for help and hope and strength, so that we would only carry that which we are called to carry, and set aside that which we are not. Show us how to love those around us in a way that lightens loads and shines hope in dark places. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come to You with our heavy burdens, and receive the rest that You have for 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

Learning to Pray

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” – (Luke 11:1, NKJV)

 

Jesus modeled a life of prayer. His example was to be intentional, to be focused, and to pray often. It was not a matter of making a display of what He was doing, but rather, Jesus would set aside quiet time to go off on His own to pray. He was clearly in constant communication with the Father, as He did the things that He knew the Lord was asking of Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:17  instructs us as follows: Pray without ceasing. I don’t think this is to mean that we are meant to be on our knees 24/7, (though there is a time for that) but rather that we are quick to communicate our praises and petitions to our Heavenly Father. He wants our hearts, and when we love deeply, we want to communicate with whomever we love, as often as possible. Prayer is how we converse with our Creator. May we learn to pray without ceasing, ever communicating our heart to the one Who gives us love, light and life.

 

Help us learn to pray,

caught-in-awe-sylvia-carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

As we’re called to do;

Ongoing in trust,

As we choose seek You.

May we come to know,

The truth of Your word;

That all that we pray,

By Your heart is heard.

Let us never cease,

To bring unto You;

Our praises and need,

As You’ll lead us through.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You that not only do You teach us how to pray, but You sent Your Son to model what it is like to live a life in constant communication with You. Thank You that You listen to our every prayer, and long to be in relationship with us. Forgive us for not praying as we ought to pray. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would learn to pray without ceasing. Help our prayers to become natural conversations that occurs throughout our days, in all things and at all times, not just when we go off to a quiet place. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they might see Your goodness and grace through the love that we extend. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pray without ceasing, trusting You to be who You say You are. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

Harmony Through Him

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. – (Romans 15:5, NLT)

All patience and encouragement come from God. And I pray that God will help you agree with each other, as Christ Jesus wants. – (Romans 15:5, ERV)

I pray that our God, who calls you and gives you perseverance and encouragement, will join all of you together to share one mind according to Jesus the anointed. – (Romans 15:5, VOICE)

 

I love that God wants for us to live in complete harmony with one another, being like-minded in Him. That is not to say that we are meant to view the world through the same lens, nor to be in agreement on every minute detail, but rather, that our hearts ought to be set on loving God and loving people. If those two things are our priority, the places where we don’t agree, won’t really matter; as we can set aside our differences and choose to love. May we seek the Lord in all things, allowing Him to grant us the patience and encouragement necessary to persevere in the places where love may be difficult to give. Let His light lead us and His heart guide us, so that we may live in harmony with those whom He has places along our path.

 

For patience does come,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To all who choose ask;

Seek the Lord for strength,

To fulfill His task.

He’s asking of us,

To choose to love first;

Seek to understand,

Don’t assume the worst.

When we walk by faith,

Our hearts shall agree;

Where it matters most,

Granting harmony.

As His will is done,

Our hearts are set free;

To live and to love,

In community.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You give us patience and encouragement so that we may live in harmony with one another as You intend for us to do. Thank You that in order to do so, we need not be clones of one another, nor share the same interests or hobbies, but rather our hearts are meant to be for You and one another to be aligned with Your will. Forgive us for thinking that we have to see eye-to-eye on all things to live in harmony with each other. Teach us to celebrate our different strengths, interests and opinions, knowing that at the end of the day, loving You and loving each other is what matters most of all. Show us how to love You and one another with everything within us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to live in harmony with one another as You intend us to do. Amen.

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

I thank and praise You, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power. – Daniel 2:23

Don’t Worry; Pray

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT)

Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds. – (Philippians 4:6-7, ERV)

 

Our job is not to worry about what lies before us, but rather to lift all things up before the Lord. He calls us to present our needs before Him, and thank Him for what He has done. His peace comes when we place all in His hands. The Lord guards our hearts and minds as only He can do, when we choose to live allowing Him to lead us. May we set aside our ways of worry, and present our every petition in prayer. As we ask, He is faithful to answer, and the Lord will guard our hearts and minds with His perfect peace as we pursue a life lived in Him.

 

Let not the worries,Confidence Comes Through Christ

Of this life, take hold;

Instead, go to God,

Before Him, be bold.

Tell Him what You need,

Give thanks for before;

Watch how His sweet peace,

Will come all the more.

Beyond what we know,

Or what we can grasp;

The Lord is faithful,

To all who choose ask.

Because we are His,

His peace shall be found;

Trust the Lord and pray,

For His grace abounds.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we need not worry about anything, but rather we can come to You and pray about everything. Thank You that we can tell You what we need and thank You for all that You have done. Thank You that Your perfect peace comes and overwhelms us, despite our circumstances. Forgive us for giving way to worry rather than seeking You first. Teach us how to trust You more, so that we would come before You in all things and at all times, knowing that You are far greater than anything we face. Show us how to love in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and goodness to those in need of Your perfect peace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we set aside worry and present all to You in prayer – trusting that You will be who You say You are in all things. Amen.

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

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – Job 8:21

In Humility, Love

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, NIV)

In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, honor others more than yourselves. – (Philippians 2:3, ERV)

Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. – (Philippians 2:3, VOICE)

 

If our actions are motivated by what we can get, there is no love in what we do. Christ calls us to be humble and seek to lift others up, rather than elevate ourselves. When we are motivated by a desire to love as we are loved, people are valued and Christ’s love is made known. May we choose to do as He has shown us, to do that which is good – to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8)

 

In all that we do,Faith and Hope in Action

May humility;

Be motivation,

To love tenderly.

For there is no gain,

In selfish nor pride;

But rather in truth,

Let Christ be our guide.

If we are humble,

Value others first;

Then we are loving,

As Christ has endorsed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to show us what it truly means to do nothing out of selfish ambition, and to embrace humility and extend love to others. Thank You Jesus, for showing us again and again in Your word, how You would set aside even Your own needs to reach out and love those in need of Your touch, encouragement, peace, hope and help. Forgive us for allowing our own selfishness to get in the way of loving others. Teach us how to set aside our pride and walk in humility, so that we may love others as You love us. Show us who and how we are to love, and how we can honor those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we embrace humility, seeking to love as You love. 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