Blessing Beyond the Valley

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. – (Psalm 84:6a, ERV)

Even when their paths wind through the dark valley of tears, they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain. – (Psalm 84:6a, TPT)

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains! – (Psalm 84:6, TLB)

 

The Valley of Weeping is a space I avoid like the plague. I fight and fend off the opportunity for ocular malfunction as if my life depended on it, until I can fight no more. Eventually, the dam breaks and I must succumb to whatever is weighing heavily on my heart. Incredibly, God meets me where I am, and provides comfort and refreshment in ways that go beyond what I would hope or imagine. My most recent source of sorrow has been wrapped up in the injury to my leg and that which it is preventing me from safely doing. The biggest disappointment came when it was determined that it would be dangerous for me to fly to Utah with my team for the game this weekend against our toughest opponent. It was a double hit, as not only did I want to be present to support my team, but I have dearly loved family that live in the same city that I was looking forward to seeing. God in His loving kindness, has blessed me with a man who treasures me and lovingly holds my heart. When he realized how hard this loss was going to be for me, he stepped in and planned a weekend escape to the coast for us. My heart could not have been held more tenderly. The ocean is my sacred space, and there is no place on earth that I feel more at peace nor am as deeply in awe of our Creator, as when I set foot on the sand and watch the waves crash before me.  God knew what I needed and He blessed me with one who loves me as I was designed to be loved. May we ever hold fast to our hope in the Lord through our valleys, for even in our sorrows and disappointments, He makes way to bless our hearts and bring refreshment to remind us of His nearness and care for us, individually.

 

In valleys of tears, wp-15237115979951399911556.jpg

Do not be afraid;

God sees and He hears,

Beside us, He’ll stay.

Where sorrow once reigned,

Refreshment will come;

His presence remains,

’til each day is done.

The place that was dark,

Shall soon see His light;

His love will set spark,

As blessings delight.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us so much that You walk beside us through our valleys, and You bring blessing and refreshment where there has been sorrow and pain. Forgive us for fixing our eyes on the darkness that lies before us, rather than the light that You ignite within. Teach us to trust You more when we are in the valleys, as You are always faithful to remain present. Thank You that You bring blessing and refreshment out of spaces where sorrow once reigned. Show us how to love those around us in a way that blesses and refreshes and holds up those who feel stuck in valleys. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on Your refreshment and give You praise for all of our days for Your faithful presence, always. 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

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A Final Act of Love

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. The men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” – (Luke 24:1-5, NLT) 

 

Though Jesus had told those who followed Him that He would rise again, I imagine it was still difficult to conceive, as the very idea was a seeming impossibility. As I attempt to place myself in the position of one of the women who went to the tomb that morning, I picture women overwhelmed with grief as they walked toward the resting place of their Redeemer. This Savior whom they loved, was now three days in the grave, and they were prepared to interact with His broken body as a final act of love and a way to say goodbye. The tomb had been sealed by a giant boulder, immovable, even by a malicious act of will. Imagine the shock that flooded their hearts and minds as they approached the tomb when they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Fear? Anger? Concern? What could have happened to the body of their beloved? Then, as they stood there puzzling over what was missing, two men in dazzling robes appeared out of nowhere. Clearly the women recognized that the men were messengers from God, as they bowed their faces to the ground in terror. From sorrow to confusion to frustration to fear, these ladies must have been flooded as heaven came near. And then, after all of that, to hear that Jesus was alive… The women navigated the roller coaster quite gracefully, as the very next thing they did was go and tell the disciples what they had seen and heard.  

This is the very day that we celebrate and remember the miracle of the resurrection. The grave could not hold Him, and He is alive and moving on our behalf. May we remember our Risen Savior as we go about this day and know that His sacrifice saved us while His resurrection reminds us that we are no longer dead in sin.  

 

Early Sunday morn, Hope in an Empty Tomb

They went to the tomb; 

Grieving act of love, 

No hope yet assumed. 

Imagine their hearts, 

With Jesus not there; 

Distraught and confused, 

The Lord is gone. Where? 

Angelic visit, 

In dazzling light; 

The women bowed low, 

Faced the ground in fright. 

The men then asked them, 

“Why did you come here? 

Don’t look among dead, 

For live to appear.” 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Your Son, Jesus. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross for all of our sin and shame. Thank You that the grave could not hold You, and that You rose again and are seated at the right hand of the Father, moving on our behalf. Thank You that in You we can have life and light and love forever. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your sacrifice and the glory of Your resurrection. Help us to grasp the enormity of Your mercy and grace. Show us how to extend love and goodness to those around us as an outpouring of our gratitude to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise and give You glory for Your love that defeated death and gives life to all who receive You as Lord. 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

All Together for Good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. – (Romans 8:28, NIV)

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. – (Romans 8:28, NLT)

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. – (Romans 8:28, VOICE)

 

God is able to take all that we experience – every trial and triumph, each heartache and happiness, and use them together for good for those who choose to receive what He offers and walk in His ways. If we never experienced defeat, we would not appreciate the thrill of victory. If we did not know what it was to ache, we could not fully grasp the beauty and bounty of His blessings. God does not cause the struggles and trials that we face, but He does take our ashes and brings beauty for all to behold. I am in a season currently, where I am witnessing just how much beauty and blessing He ushers into the spaces that once were swallowed by sorrow. Dashed hopes have become dreams displayed for my heart to hold again, and where there was once nothing but wreckage, now resides fresh tenacity and vitality, as a new chapter of my story is being authored by He who breathes love and life and grace. May we be confident in our hope in knowing that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and have chosen to follow the path that He has placed before us.

 

God takes our ashes, All Together for Good

Our space of despair;

Fills them with beauty,

By His tender care.

He orchestrates all,

To work out for good;

For those who accept,

His plans as we should.

In all things, God makes,

His greatness abound;

Darkness becomes light,

And true joy is found.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You take our wreckage and return beauty and hope and good things as we trust our lives in Your hands. Thank You that though we will face trials, we can hold fast to confident hope, knowing that You will ultimately use all things for good. Forgive us for struggling to see hope when darkness seems to surround us. Teach us to trust You more, and to remember that You are the Light that dwells within us. Show us how to love those around us well, so that we may extend hope in spaces of struggle and celebrate with those in seasons of blessing. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to work all things together toward something good as we pursue the path that You have placed before us. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

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

Filled Again

He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – (Job 8:21, NLT)

God will let you laugh again; you’ll raise the roof with shouts of joy. – (Job 8:21, MSG)

He will fill your mouth with laughter; your lips will spill over into cries of delight. – (Job 8:21, VOICE)

 

I love how God makes His word tangible to me. Yesterday, the verse I had studied and set my heart on, was about rest and relaxing in Him. Both last night and the night prior, I slept nearly eight hours per night! For some, that may sound insignificant or normal, yet for me, it is tremendous. Typically, I am doing well if I get close to six hours on a given night… Now, this morning, the verse speaks of laughter. For the last two evenings, I have been blessed to gather with friends and my love, and simply enjoy each other’s company. The first evening was a game night, filled with much laughter, and last night was a birthday celebration for my best friend that had me laughing so hard that there were tears. This morning, I woke feeling refreshed and full of joy, recalling His goodness and how He provides people in my life to love and enjoy the blessings of how He has made each of us, individually. As Thanksgiving approaches this week, may we each find time to seek Him and receive the gifts of laughter and joy that He provides as loved ones gather together in gratitude.

 

Despite heaviness, Filled Again

Trials and life’s pain;

The goodness of God,

Shall always remain.

He will bring laughter,

Fill our hearts with joy;

Give us hope again,

His peace, He’ll employ.

In all things, seek God,

For He’s our safe space;

Dispenser of joy,

And Giver of grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You fill our mouths with laughter and our hearts with joy. Thank You that despite the heaviness and heartache and struggles that we face, You are near and You remind us that there is so much good. Forgive us for not seeking You in our sorrows or struggles, and teach us to trust You more. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads joy and brings laughter to lighten heavy hearts. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate Your goodness and praise You for the joy and delight that You bring when we need it most. Amen.

 

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

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

His Passion for Our Peace

But as He came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, He began to weep. “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is hidden from your eyes.” – (Luke 19:41-42, NLT)

Jesus came near Jerusalem. Looking at the city, He began to cry for it and said, “I wish you knew today what would bring you peace. But it is hidden from you now.” – (Luke 19:41-42, ERV)

When the city came into view, He wept over it. “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! But now it is too late.” – (Luke 19:41-42, MSG)

 

I’m not quite sure why this portion of passage has never stood out to me before, but this morning, I feel as if it is giving me deeper insight into the heart of our loving Father. The verse, “Jesus wept,” is often quoted and easily pointed back to the loss of His dear friend, Lazarus, and the response Jesus had when He saw the grief of those mourning the loss. In this passage, Jesus is grieving over an entire city. He knows the fate that will befall them, as He has shared His message of hope and peace again and again, yet knew that His time was nearing an end and the people who chose not to hear Him would be lost. I imagine that God grieves over us in much the same way when we stay stuck in our sorrow, grief and hopelessness, rather than turning to Him in trust. Jesus came and bore the weight of all of our heaviness so that we could know His peace, yet we must receive it in order to know it for ourselves. Though Jesus knocks and waits, we are not immortal. Each of us have an expiration date that is unknown. If we choose to neglect our opportunity to know Him when He is directly in front of us, the possibility may pass us by. May we ever seek our Savior and turn to Him in trust, as He is our place of peace at all times.

 

The Lord sees our hearts, His Passion for Our Peace

When lost, without peace;

With weeping, He grieves,

When we choose not seek.

God is the answer,

The hope our hearts need;

He’s ever waiting,

As we ask, He’ll lead.

He’s always gentle,

Won’t force His way in;

Waits for us to ask,

Then sets free from sin.

Peace He will bring us,

If we make request;

Grace freely granted,

He gives us His best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your heart is so clearly for us. Thank You that You love us to the point of tears, and that You willingly sent Your Son so that we could have life abundantly in You. Forgive us for not seeking You in trust when evidence of Your goodness and faithfulness are all around us. Teach us to trust You in all things and at all times, so that we would ever seek You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that offers Your peace to those who need it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You with our lives and receive the grace and peace that You abundantly give. 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

Comfort in Mourning

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – (Matthew 5:4, NLT)

Great blessings belong to those who are sad now. God will comfort them. – (Matthew 5:4, ERV)

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. – (Matthew 5:4, MSG)

 

Yesterday was a very heavy day for me. As I made my drive in to work, word of the tragedy that had taken place the previous night in Las Vegas flooded the airwaves. Grief gripped my heart like a vice, as I thought of the families who were suffering both with loss, inexplicable harm to loved ones, and the wait in not knowing if those dear to them were safe or had fallen in harm’s way. Sadly, my grief grew as I learned of the loss of an incredible woman, who had been lovingly invested in her church, community and family, and tragically died shortly after childbirth. It is in these moments, these seasons of sorrow, that I look to the Lord for comfort and some sort of sense to be made out of all of that which seems so senseless. Though I do not think I will ever completely understand why such horrific acts and terrible tragedies occur, I must cling to the promise that God blesses and comforts those who mourn. He is our comfort and our place of peace, even when nothing seems steady nor secure. May we ever cling to Christ, who is our comfort, as He will bless and embrace those who mourn.

 

God brings His blessing,Comfort in Mourning

To all those who mourn;

He’s our safe harbor,

Through all of life’s storms.

He’ll be our comfort,

When flooded with grief;

The One to embrace,

As love grants relief.

When tragedy strikes,

And hope seems but gone;

Bring grief to the Lord,

He’ll carry us on.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that even in the midst of sorrow and heartache and so much tragedy, You are present to provide Your comfort. Thank You that Your arms embrace us, even when we cannot bear to lift our eyes from the weight of our sorrow. Thank You that You meet us in our mourning and bless us with Your comfort. Forgive us for not turning to You in our grief. Teach us to trust You more, as You alone are the Provider of comfort and the One who blesses us in the midst of heartache. Show us how to love and comfort those who are grieving, so that they may know Your comfort in a tangible way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your comfort in our times of mourning. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Laughter Lightens the Load

He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. – (Job 8:21, NIV)
First, I love that this verse comes from Job. If anyone knew suffering, surely it was Job. For one who knew such sorrow, to cling to the Lord in hope reminds us that God is faithful in the end, even if things appear otherwise. As a team, there has been much joy and laughter, despite the heat, “Belizian time“, and things not going according to plan. I love how God brings laughter to lighten the load, and joy rises and spreads when a few are intentional to choose it. May we each choose joy today and enjoy the laughter that lightens our load.
The Lord is faithful,

 When we choose press in;

He brings us laughter,

Grants new joy again. 

No matter what comes,

The God of all grace;

Will walk beside us,

Bring hope to our space. 

Receive what He gives,

For there is great joy;

As laughter will rise,

Through goodness employed. 


Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace. Thank You that You bring us laughter and joy as we seek Your face. Forgive us for not embracing the good that You give. Teach us to trust You more so that we would embrace Your grace so that we would receive the joy and laughter You give. Show us how to love others in a way that spreads joy and laughter to those who need to know your joy. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace Your grace and go forth in Your joy and laughter today. Amen.

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

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

Compassion Leads to Action

Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” He said. “Be healed!” – (Mark 1:41, NLT)

 

In one verse of scripture, so much is spoken about the heart of Christ. When people were hurting, He did not just feel sorry for them, but rather He was “moved with compassion“, meaning His heart was motivated to alleviate the suffering that He saw before Him. In this passage in Mark, Jesus touched the untouchable, and healed not only the physical ailment that plagued the poor man before Him, but He helped his heart – for those with leprosy were unable to have any sort of physical contact with anyone at all. Imagine someone reaching out and touching your shoulder without fear, after years of being looked upon in horror… Compassion is the Christ-like action to which we are called. May we seek the Lord and His heart for those around us, so that we would not only feel sympathy and sorrow for those who are suffering, but that we might be compelled to alleviate the pain however He calls us to walk alongside those in the midst of their hurt.

 

When we see hurting,kindness

Those stuck in their pain;

May we be willing,

To move in His Name.

For true compassion,

More than sees and feels;

It seeks ways to help,

By grace, such love heals.

Let us choose rise up,

With hearts that see need;

In faith walk beside,

However God leads.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us Your heart for people. Thank You that compassion goes far beyond feeling sympathy for someone who is suffering. Thank You that compassion takes the sorrow felt for another’s pain and is accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. Forgive us for lacking compassion with those around us, or for not opening our eyes to the needs in those before us. Teach us to be aware and available, ever trusting You to lead us and guide us in how we are meant to help. Show us how to love in a way that makes Your heart tangible to the suffering so that they would know hope. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow You to move our hearts with compassion as we view those around us. Amen.

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

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. – 2 Corinthians 3:5