Speak With Care

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)

When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say the good things that people need – whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you. – (Ephesians 4:29, ERV)

And never let ugly or hateful words come from your mouth, but instead let your words become beautiful gifts that encourage others; do this by speaking words of grace to help them. – (Ephesians 4:29, TPT)

 

Words matter. Words can build up or they can tear down. What we do with our words may have a lasting impact on the hearer, far beyond what we will ever know. This works with both encouragement and that which is destructive. One unkind, ugly or hateful word spoken carelessly, can haunt the hearer for years. If a child is already feeling discouraged and struggling, and someone comes along and tells them that they are stupid, that thoughtless word can become a barrier to them becoming their best self for an extended stretch of time. On the contrary, when a child is built up, encouraged, nurtured, loved and valued with words (and actions that prove them true), they soar as they are equipped to become the best version of themselves. Adults are no different. Marriages, friendships, work environments, etcetera – all grow stronger and become better when encouragement and grace are prevalent. I have experienced both, and the difference between the two is surviving and thriving. People surrounded by ugly and hateful words either join in and engage, attempt to bring change, or stay silent. Either way, it creates a survival sort of mentality. However, in an environment of encouragement and grace, people grow and become equipped to do likewise. May we watch our words with wisdom, knowing that what we say has the capacity to either build up or tear down.

 

May all of our words,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

Be spoken with care;

For words have power,

Bring life or despair.

Our words can build up,

Bring out other’s best;

As we encourage,

Receivers are blessed.

Yet in the same way,

Words that are unkind;

Can wound and destroy,

The ears that they find.

So, let all we say,

Be seasoned with grace;

Spoken with kindness,

Throughout all our days.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that the words that You have for us are love and life and light and full of goodness and grace. Thank You that You call and equip us to do the same with the words that we extend to others. Forgive us for the words that we have spoken that have wounded others. Teach us to stop and think before we speak, seeking Your heart and help to extend words that encourage and build up, rather than destroy. Show us how to love those around us with encouraging words and use each word spoken to help others become a better version of themselves. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek Your wisdom for every word that leaves our lips. Amen.

 

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

 

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. – Psalm 19:14

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,

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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

Each Child a Gift

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. – (Psalm 127:3, NIV)

Children are a gift from God; they are His reward. – (Psalm 127:3, TLB)

Children are God’s love-gift; they are heaven’s generous reward. – (Psalm 127:3, TPT)

 

This tends to be one of the longest weeks of the summer each year; the week before school officially begins. For those of us who teach or are involved in the public-school system somehow, this week is spent in meetings, seminars, classes, and retreats to best prepare for the upcoming school year. Some of said academic gatherings are great, and the time flies by. However, others are either repeats of what we have done year in and year out, or they are extraordinarily weighty, and make the day seem far longer than we might hope. The reason that we continue to invest our time, resources, energy and heart into what we do, is the very gist of this verse. Children are a gift, and we recognize the value in each and desire to teach and foster growth in each one who enters our classroom. Perhaps if we can see the struggling as God’s love-gifts and heaven’s rewards, we might approach each child all the more delicately and thoughtfully, as to not offend the Giver. May we look at children as gifts from God, just as we do our own, so that we may love them as we are loved by Him.

 

Each child is a gift,

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Photos by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

From heaven to earth;

A life with a plan,

A purpose since birth.

Our charge and challenge,

Is to help each rise;

Point to discover,

Dreams to realize.

May we foster growth,

And nurture with love;

So each child feels known,

And knows they’re enough.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that children are a gift from You. Thank You that they are heaven’s reward here on earth. Forgive us for the times that we have viewed them as anything less than a gift. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for strength to love through the struggles, and to equip us to help kids grow in safety, security and trust. Show us how to love those whom You place on our path to care for well, so that they may know their worth in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love children as You love us – unconditionally and lavishly. Amen.

 

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

 

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. – Proverbs 22:6

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

Patient Acceptance

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient and accept each other with love. – (Ephesians 4:2, ERV) 

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. – (Ephesians 4:2, NLT) 

Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love. – (Ephesians 4:2, VOICE) 

 

Last evening, I was the grateful recipient of patient acceptance, as my teammates and coach were humble and gentle, allowing for my very “off” time at practice. After sleeping so little the night before, I was exhausted and struggling to recall plays. Rather than respond with irritation or unkindness, I was surrounded by people who gently and patiently helped remind me of the routes that I could not recall, and continued to encourage, despite my exhausted state. After sleeping so little the night before, I was struggling to remember routes for the different plays. Rather than grow weary of my questions and seeming memory lapse, those around me gently reminded me of that which I could not recall, and encouraged, even when I did a less than stellar job. Having been on the receiving end of humility, gentleness and patience, I am all the more refueled to go and do likewise in love for those around me. No one has it all figured out, and we are all a work in progress. We tend to thrive and grow exponentially in an atmosphere where we are given grace where we fall short, and encouraged by those who walk in humility, gentleness and love. May we ever go forth with patience, humility and gentleness, accepting others as we are accepted by God. 

 

Always be humble, Patient Acceptance

Choose gentle and kind; 

Patient, accepting, 

With others in mind. 

When we act in love, 

Encourage, build up; 

The empty places, 

Soon become filled up. 

Acceptance in love, 

Provides room to grow; 

So let us choose love, 

As grace is made known. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love and accept us as we are, despite our faults and failures. Thank You that You call us to patiently, humbly and gently do the same for one another. Forgive us for the times that we have not tolerated one another in love. Teach us to look to You to walk in patience, humility and gentleness, so that we may love others as we are loved by You. Show us how to love and accept others as You do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we follow Your example of humility and gentleness, patiently accepting one another in love. Amen. 

 

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

 

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

Peace is Made Known

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – (John 16:33, NIV)

“I have told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!” – (John 16:33, ERV)

“And everything I taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” – (John 16:33, TPT)

 

One of the hardest times to find peace is in the midst of a trial. It is so easy to allow our fears and emotions to get the best of us, and forget Who is ultimately in control. I am quite certain that this is why God calls us to be in community. When one falls down or is struggling, facing a trial or uncertainty that lies before them, sisters and brothers who know our stories can come alongside to help and encourage, as God equips us to be His hands, heart and voice made tangible to those around us. May we reach out to love well, those in a place of need, and be transparent with the trusted, when we find ourselves in a similar space, so that the peace of God may be made perceivable to all.

 

O Lord, it’s Your peace, IMG_1849

That so many need;

There’s pain and pressure,

Heartache, trials and greed.

The troubles we find,

Are nothing for You;

Each already faced,

Your love will shine through.

Please teach us to trust,

In places we doubt;

For in You, there’s peace,

That’s what love’s about.

Show us how to give,

What You’ve given us;

So peace is made known,

By grace You promise.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our peace comes from You. Thank You that though we will have troubles because we live in a broken world, we can take courage knowing that You are with us. Thank You too for community, as You surround us with those who can come alongside us and encourage and lift us up if we are willing to invest. Forgive us for the times we have tried to power through the pressures on our own, rather than seeking You and sharing with those whom You have shown us are trustworthy in our world. Help us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for peace, even in the most tumultuous of trials. Help us to love those around us in a way that offers peace and strength in the midst of their struggles too. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we take heart in You, as You have already overcome every obstacle that stands in our way. Amen.

 

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

 

Shout aloud and sing for joy. – Isaiah 12:6

Hands of Grace

May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ. – (2 Thessalonians 3:5, NLT)

We pray that the Lord will cause you to feel God’s love and remember Christ’s patient endurance. – (2 Thessalonians 3:5, ERV)

May the Lord guide your hearts into God’s pure love and keep you headed straight into the strong sure grip of the Anointed One. – (2 Thessalonians 3:5, VOICE)

 

This is a week where love, patience and endurance are needed desperately. Between excitement and uncertainty, students are struggling to stay focused in classes, and remember regular rules and routines. Additionally, two seventeen-year-olds were shot yesterday morning, not far from my school, so the odds that they once attended the school where I teach, are quite high. Regardless of the circumstances that led to the incident, the very thought of two mother’s babies fighting to live, is devastating. Love, patience and endurance are needed by all to finish this week well. The better we understand and receive God’s love for us, the more we are able to extend the same to those around us. May we ever seek the Source of every good gift, so that we may go forth full of patience and endurance, to finish strong as we love as we are loved by God.

 

O Lord, hear my prayer, Hands of Grace

May hearts come to You;

So Your love is known,

Illuminate truth.

Patient endurance,

Granted by God’s love;

Will keep us always,

Help us rise above.

Rise above trials,

Whatever we face;

For we can do all,

In His hands of grace.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You, You meet us and provide the love, patience and endurance that we need to navigate our days. Thank You that You keep us in Your secure grip of grace. Forgive us for attempting to power through the trials that come our way, rather than seeking You for the strength that we need to navigate well. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would allow You to lead us according to Your great love. Show us how to love those around us with patience and endurance, so that they may feel Your love and know their worth. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we lean on You to lead our hearts into a full understanding of how to express Your love, patience and endurance all of our days. 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

Pray for People

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them, intercede on their behalf, give thanks for them. – (1 Timothy 2:1, NLT)

First of all, I ask that you pray for all people. Ask God to bless them and give them what they need. And give thanks. – (1 Timothy 2:1, ERV)

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. – (1 Timothy 2:1, MSG)

 

This is exactly the reminder that I needed this morning. I have one class during my day that feels like a battle zone. No matter what I try in my teacher bag of tricks, I cannot come to a consistent calm in that class. Between the attention seekers, the noise makers, and the downright disrespectful, each day it is a struggle to walk in with new hope that it might be better. Some days I pray, but really more for survival than for specific kids. I do like each of the kids individually, yet when combined together, a different dynamic arises, and there is rarely joy in what I am doing. Today, I am going to pray differently. I will be praying for these young ones individually, and with gratitude. My prayer will be for God’s blessing and provision to be poured out upon them. My hope is that as I reset my heart’s focus, there would be a change in me that somehow overflows to them. May we run to our Redeemer in prayer, ever lifting up all people before Him – interceding on their behalf as we give thanks for them.

 

O God, here I am, Pray

Before You in prayer;

Lifting up others,

Who need know Your care.

Father, please help them,

In every way;

Bless them and keep them,

Throughout their whole day.

Provide all they need,

May Your love be shown;

Thank You for each life,

I’m blessed to have known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we come to You and pray to You, You hear us and meet us where we are. Lord, I lift up people who are struggling to fit, be it students in a classroom, people in a workplace, or community members in their given community. Thank You for each person that You have given us. Please bless them and provide for their every need – spiritual, emotional and physical. Forgive us for not looking past our own frustrations with the behaviors that people display. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would see others through Your eyes so that we may respond in love, even when frustration rises. Show us how to pray for people in a way that matters. Help us to be an extension of Your hands and heart to those around us through the way in which we interact. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pray for all people and give You thanks for them. Amen.

 

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

 

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

Pursue Righteousness and Love

Whoever pursues justice and treats others with kindness discovers true life marked by integrity and respect. – (Proverbs 21:21, VOICE)

People who try hard to do good and be faithful will find life, goodness, and honor. – (Proverbs 21:21, ERV)

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. – (Proverbs 21:21, NIV)

 

This passage is an excellent reminder for me this morning, as it is a guiding principle in how I walk out my days. Over the last two weeks, despite every effort and strategy in my educational arsenal, I have had a few students that are struggling to respond to our established expectations. Each day is a fresh start, and I greet each individual with kindness and anticipate good things from and for them. Sadly, the behaviors of a few have made me have moments of questioning my career. Thankfully, when I look at the big picture, God has given me an abundant life. I am surrounded by incredible friends, family, and colleagues, I have two terrific teenage boys, we do not lack anything, and I am loved very well. All this to say that my charge is to press on and continue to be faithful in that which I am called to do, and continue to seek answers for those who are struggling to settle in. May we pursue righteousness and love, for that is where life, prosperity and honor are found.

 

Those who seek justice, Pursue Righteousness and Love

And choose to be kind;

Discover respect,

Integrity, find.

For when we do good,

A faithful life choose;

Goodness comes our way,

As grace is infused.

So let us try hard,

Be faithful and just;

God’s love will be clear,

As we choose to trust.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to pursue justice and treat others with kindness. Thank You that as we do, Your hand is made evident in our life. Thank You that we are not expected to do this on our own, but You equip and empower us by Your grace to love as we are loved by You. Forgive us for not wanting to pursue righteousness when we feel we have been wronged. Teach us to trust You in all things, and to choose to place things in Your hands, and follow Your leading rather than our own. Show us how to do good and be faithful in a way that demonstrates Your love in a tangible to those who need it most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue righteousness and love because You are righteous and loving. Amen.

 

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

 

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

Anticipate God’s Goodness

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. – (Romans 5:3-4, NLT)

And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that those troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. – (Romans 5:3-4, ERV)

And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. – (Romans 5:3-4, VOICE)

 

Though all three versions say essentially the same thing, the last part of verse four from the VOICE, really spoke to my heart. It has been an extremely long week in the classroom for me, as I am adjusting to new curriculum, which honestly requires hours of preparation each day, learning how to best help and work with new students, an Open House at the start of the week, (which made for a 14+ hour day), and have had to respond to some serious behavioral challenges that came up in class as the week unfolded. I do not think that I can say that I am rejoicing about the trials, but I am able to see the patience and refining that God is doing through the process, and I find myself hoping for and anticipating God’s goodness through it all. What I know is that I cannot do it all in my own strength. With Him, all things are possible, and great things can be accomplished. Hearts can be changed and minds can be renewed. He has placed me with phenomenal team members who teach the same subject and grade level. Together, we are working to navigate through the new, and the time it takes to discern what needs to be taught and how to best do so, is divided. Additionally, there are extraordinary staff members in roles that mentor, support, encourage and teach the kiddos who are struggling both academically and/or behaviorally, so that they can learn, grow and experience successes in and out of the classroom. May we ever look to the Lord with gratitude for the endurance and strength of character He develops within us, even if we are not yet in a space of celebrating our struggles. May we see the hope that is held in Him, and anticipate God’s goodness as He moves among us.

 

Troubles and trials, Delivering Dreams

Though never much fun;

Serve hearts with purpose,

As battles are won.

These things bring patience,

And patience will show;

The strength from the Lord,

As we learn and we grow.

In this refining,

We learn what it means;

To anticipate,

God’s goodness indeed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that as we go through trials and troubles, You develop patience and endurance within us. Thank You that strength and hope grow as our characters are refined, and we learn what it truly means to hope and anticipate Your goodness. Forgive us for our frustration with our circumstances. Teach us to press into You, ever seeking and depending on You for strength in the struggles, as You are our Source. Show us how to love well, those around us who are struggling, and how to give strength and hope where there is none to be found. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in the refining and development of our character that takes place in our trials, and look forward with hope as we anticipate Your goodness that is yet to come. 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