Offerings Become Art

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV)

As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always, because you know that your labor isn’t going to be for nothing in the Lord. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, CEB)

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort. – (1 Corinthians 15:58, MSG)

 

This verse is both a challenge and an encouragement. As an individual who has felt called to teach since a very young age, it has been an interesting path to traverse over the last twenty-one years. There have been times that the obstacles and challenges seemed so impossible, that I wanted to walk away. The time, resources and self that are poured into each day, have to be for Him, or our perspective becomes distorted.  I know this is only the first week, but there is something that feels more steady and secure than it ever has before. Perhaps it is the tangible support I have at home that provides me the freedom to invest more of myself as I begin each day full, rather than depleted. Another possibility is that I am, for the first time in my career, teaching what I love most, for the majority of my day. Though I enjoy teaching the variety of subjects I have taught throughout my career thus far, I know that my excitement and enthusiasm for helping kids discover that they can create art, is not a waste of time or effort. There is something powerful to watch as students realize that they are able to do far more than they ever thought possible. May we ever stand firm and stay the course to which we are called, for nothing we do for Him is ever for naught.

 

If all that we do, 257314779340194518937431.jpeg

Is unto the Lord;

No effort wasted,

As grace is outpoured.

For God gladly takes,

What we choose to bring;

And uses for good,

All our offerings.

Whether it is time,

Resources or heart;

All done unto God,

Become lifetime art.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that all that we do unto You can be used for Your glory. Thank You that as we stay the course to which we are called, we see Your faithfulness unfold in Your time. Thank You that You are always good, even when we cannot see the good before us. Forgive us for our doubts that make us question the direction we know we are meant to go. Strengthen us to stand firm and press on, trusting completely in You to bring beauty from our investment of time, energy and heart. Show us how to love those around us in a way that encourages them to discover or continue on the path to which they are called. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to use our every offering for good as we stay the course to which we are called. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this. – Psalm 37:5

Empowered to Love

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV)

The Spirit of God does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control. – (2 Timothy 1:7, ERV)

For the Holy Spirit, God’s gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them. – (2 Timothy 1:7, TLB)

 

This morning, though earlier than my summer schedule, I woke feeling rested and refreshed. Normally, the night before the first day of school is a bit restless, and I struggle to sleep through the night. Perhaps sweet sleep came as a result of long hours invested in preparing my classroom over the last several weeks, with the final push to finish yesterday. Though I do not yet have chairs (hopefully stools) in my classroom, I walked away from school yesterday afternoon, feeling ready to pour into the lives of the kids who come into my class, just as I had poured into preparing the room. Additionally, I feel supported more than I ever have before. Not only do I still have an incredible community – through colleagues, friends, family and church, but I have a husband who is willing to jump in and do the difficult work and provide whatever support I may need. God loves me well, and makes His love tangible through my community. As I am loved, so I am empowered to do the same. May this be a year where each of us are empowered to love and enjoy those whom we are given to teach, fearlessly.

 

We’ve not been given,

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My classroom and favorite painting partner. ❤

A spirit of fear;

For God, in His strength,

Loves as He stays near.

He provides power,

Strength, wisdom and love;

Discipline, passion,

All grace from above.

Lead us in power,

Fearless to love well;

May joy be present,

As doubts He’ll dispel.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You equip us for all that You call us to do. Thank You that You empower us with strength, love and self-discipline to walk in Your way. Forgive us for our fearfulness and doubts, as You are our Source and our Supply. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would love fearlessly and listen carefully as You lead. Show us how to love those who seem less loveable, as we know You are especially fond of the hard and the hurting. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love and enjoy each one whom You bring into our care. Amen.

 

 

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

Never tire of loyalty and kindness. Hold these virtues tightly. Write them deep within your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Blessed

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. – (Proverbs 31:28, NIV)

Her children bless her; her husband praises her. – (Proverbs 31:28, CEB)

Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise. – (Proverbs 31:28, MSG)

 

Though I cannot even begin to measure up to the Proverbs 31 woman, I am beyond blessed by both my children and my husband. God has granted me the greatest gift I’ve ever known through the lives of my boys, and a love I never knew was possible through the loving union of marriage to my husband, partner and friend. I am blessed and praised by these guys, even when I am least deserving, and each one of them is fiercely protective and willing to help whenever I ask. Perhaps it is a recognition of the blessings that He has bestowed upon us, far more than a living up to a certain standard or expectation. Because I am loved well, I desperately desire and am driven to do the same. I imagine that is God’s intention for all of us. As we realize the depth and breadth of His love for us, we are inspired to go and love likewise. May we seek our Savior who loves us more than we can comprehend, so that we too, can go and love those around us without reservation.

 

Such wonder indeed,

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Photos by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography<3

Is love we receive;

The blessings bestowed,

When we are in need.

The gift of children,

The love of a spouse;

Love made tangible,

Within my own house.

Let’s freely receive,

God’s love and His grace;

So we too can love,

In His tender ways.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of the loved ones whom You bring into our lives – be it children, spouses, family or friends. Thank You that You make Your pleasure known through the words of others in a way that inspires us to ever pursue You and Your ways. Forgive us for taking Your love or that of those whom You have blessed us with for granted. Teach us to appreciate and value the goodness and grace that You generously give in tangible ways. Show us how to lavishly love those whom You place in our path, so that they too, may come to know the greatness of Your love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the love and the grace, and the tender embrace, that You wrap around us through the people whom You have given. Amen.

 

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

 

Surely You have granted him/(her) unending blessings and made him/(her) glad with the joy of Your presence. – Psalm 21:6

Help Ever Near

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – (Psalm 46:1, NIV)

God is our protection and source of strength. He is always ready to help us in times of trouble. – (Psalm 46:1, ERV)

God is our shelter and our strength. When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help. – (Psalm 46:1, VOICE)

 

God is faithful to meet us wherever we are, no matter what we are facing. Yesterday, I wrote about my anxiousness over an upcoming oral surgery that I need to have done. Incredibly, it was not at the surgeon’s office that peace was made present, but rather through the sweet and encouraging words of both my sister-in-love and a sweet friend from work. As each mentioned their own experiences or that of another, my mind was eased of the fear that I had been holding. Often God’s nearness is made tangible through those whom He places around us. For me, learning from those who had witnessed or experienced what lies ahead, took the unknown element out that which was the root of my fear. Strength is provided in the safety of His hands when we choose to seek Him. May we ever remember our Source of strength and safety when trouble instills fear into our heart.

 

Space of protection, Pardon Brings Peace

Our Calmer of fear;

When troubles come close,

The Lord will be near.

Choose place in His hands,

All trouble that comes;

He will keep us safe,

Grant strength through His Son.

Thank You, Lord Jesus,

That You are our hope;

Faithful to meet us,

His grace helps us cope.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are faithful to be near and answer us as we call on You for help. Thank You that You are our strength and our shelter in all things and at all times. Thank You for the people that You place in our lives to be Your voice and Your heart to us. Forgive us for our fears when troubles and trials come our way. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You for strength and peace and safety. Show us how to love others well, so that they may come to know the strength and security that are found in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we run to You as our Source of safety and strength, for You are always near. Amen.

 

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

 

But You, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. – Psalm 22:19

The More We’re Created For

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands. – (Psalm 90:17, NIV)

And let the Lord our God favor us and give us success. May He give us permanence to all we do. – (Psalm 90:17, TLB)

Oh Lord our God, let Your sweet beauty rest upon us and give us favor. Come work with us, and then our works will endure, and give us success in all we do. – (Psalm 90:17, TPT)

 

Though the school year just ended, teacher brains never fully unplug nor shut off to bettering their craft. Yes, the summer is a season for us to rest, retreat and recharge, but it is also a time to prepare for the work we will begin again as the new year arrives far more quickly than one might think. This verse is one of hope and my prayer, as teachers teach not to cram facts and figures into the minds of young people, but rather with the hope of helping each child discover the “more” that they were created for.  The success and permanence in this difficult work is found in watching children blossom into adulthood with the confidence and tools to take them wherever they want to go. May the favor of the Lord rest upon us all and establish the work of our hands.

 

May the Lord’s favor, The More We Are Created For

Come rest upon us;

In all that we do,

To know His success.

In God, establish,

The work of our hands;

May we move forward,

And follow His plans.

Things done in God’s strength,

As He guides our way;

Have lasting impact,

Beyond just today.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You grant us Your favor and establish the work of our hands as we seek You. Forgive us for attempting to navigate on our own, rather than trusting You to lead us and guide us to make a difference in all that we do. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would recognize and know Your nearness and favor upon us and follow wherever You lead. Show us how to love those around us in a tangible way that aids in the success of all that they are drawn to do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your favor and trust You to establish the work of our hands. Amen.

 

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

 

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

To Know Love

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. – (Ephesians 3:19, NLT)

Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has for you. – (Ephesians 3:19, ERV)

I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God. – (Ephesians 3:19, CEB)

 

When we know and begin to understand the depth and breadth of Christ’s love for us, we become equipped to go and love likewise. The space within us that felt as if something were missing, becomes filled with the fullness of God. His light and life and love make us complete, empowering us to go forth and give as we have been given. So often, God makes His love tangible through the people whom He has placed in our lives, and in turn, utilizes the willing to do the same for others. May we each experience the love of Christ in a new way, so that we might gain a greater grasp on the magnitude of His magnificent love for us all and go forth to love likewise.

 

The greatest of loves, Purposeful Prayer

That’s ever been known;

Comes to us from Christ,

Through sacrifice shown.

Our hearts cannot grasp,

How deep and how wide;

The love of the Lord,

A faithful life guide.

It is by His grace,

That He shall make known;

The fullness of life,

Through His great love shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your heart is for us to experience and come to know the fullness of Your love and the life and power that come from knowing You. Forgive us for neglecting to seek You when love feels far from us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would find the fullness of all that You have for us. Show us how to love others well, so they may experience and understand more of who You are and how You love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You to know and understand more and more of the fullness of Your love so that we may go out and love like You. 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

To Love and Do Good Works

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. – (Hebrews 10:24, NLT)

We should think about each other to see how we can encourage each other to show love and do good works. – (Hebrews 10:24, ERV)

Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds. – (Hebrews 10:24, VOICE)

 

This verse is made tangible again and again as I consider the countless stories of “pay it forward” that I have heard, experienced, and have had the pleasure in which to participate.  One small act of kindness inspires another, and even the seemingly most minute labors of love can set spark to a wildfire of wonderful deeds.  May we keep our eyes open to opportunities to love well and extend goodness, just as we have received at times when we needed it most.

 

Let us consider, Ambassadors of Love

How we can love well;

Inspire each other,

Of His goodness tell.

May all that we do,

Extend love and grace;

So all may be blessed,

As they run their race.

Each act of kindness,

Each choice to do good;

Motivates others,

As love’s understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can love one another and do good works because You first loved us and gave everything for us to have life in You. Forgive us for not looking for ways to love well. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You to restore the places that are weary and worn, as You are the One who fills us and equips us to love others and do good works. Show us how to love those around us in a way that motivates, encourages and inspires greater love and good to be passed on. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the love and goodness that You have given us and seek You to equip us with ways to go forth to love and do good works well. Amen.

 

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

 

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Sent to Save

God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. – (John 3:17, NLT)

God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. – (John 3:17, MSG)

God did not send His Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it! – (John 3:17, TPT)

 

Mercy and grace are such crazy concepts to grasp at times, especially when we are our own worst critics. The times when we have messed up the most and someone comes along and extends grace or forgiveness, though we do not deserve it, become the most memorable and tangible examples of God’s intentions for us. Though we are all sinners and fall short of His glory, He loves us just the same. He sent His Son so that we could be covered once and for all and be called righteous in His eyes, no matter what we have done. Knowing this reminds me how important it is that I extend mercy and grace to those around me. Yes, there are actions and behaviors that have to have consequences so that learning takes place, however, I have to separate the action from the individual. Just as my children at times make choices that require redirection and consequences, my love and care for them does not and will not change. God views us in the very same light. Though there are at times, natural consequences for our decisions, His love is ever-present to pick us up, dust us off, and love us to life again. May we ever look to the Lord for forgiveness and grace, trusting that He has come to save us.

 

With mercy and grace, Sent to Save

God sent His own Son;

To forgive our faults,

All wrongs that we’ve done.

He came to restore,

What we had broken;

With His dying breath,

Forgiveness spoken.

And when He was raised,

He reclaimed His throne;

Where He covers us,

With love He’s made known.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son into the world, not to condemn us, but to save us. Thank You for Your amazing mercy and grace, though we deserve it not. Forgive us for the times that we resist receiving what You freely offer. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would walk in the light of Your love, forgiven and free, extending the same grace to others that we have been given by You. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates mercy and grace in a tangible way. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for coming to save us and go forth extending to others what You have given to us. Amen.

 

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

For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. – Luke 19:10

Wisdom from Heaven

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. – (James 3:17, NLT)

But the wisdom that comes from God is like this: First, it is pure. It is also peaceful, gentle, and easy to please. This wisdom is always ready to help people who have trouble and do good for others. This wisdom is always fair and honest. – (James 3:17, ERV)

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It is whole-hearted and straightforward and sincere. – (James 3:17, TLB)

But the wisdom from above is always pure, filled with peace, considerate and teachable. It is filled with love and never displays prejudice or hypocrisy in any form. – (James 3:17, TPT)

 

The pursuit of Godly wisdom is a lovely and lofty goal. The wisdom that comes from Him is pure, peaceful, gentle, full of mercy, considerate, teachable, easy to please, whole-hearted, straightforward, sincere, ready to help and do good for others, fair, honest, and does not show favoritism as it is filled with love. This is the target that my heart is forever aiming for, yet there are times that my words or deeds miss the mark. Sometimes I default to sarcasm as a coping mechanism, and my response, though not intended to harm, is not necessarily helping anyone either. Additionally, there are times when we get in such a hurry that making the time for a straightforward discussion or a pause to help someone where we know there is a clear need, seems too much to stack atop our already overscheduled day. May we ever seek the wisdom that comes from God, so that we operate in a way that is pure and full of quiet gentleness. Let us be peace-loving and courteous, allowing discussion; be merciful and extend good, as we choose to invest our whole hearts into all that we do, sincerely pursuing to walk in the wisdom of His way.

 

The wisdom of God, Wisdom from Heaven

What I long to seek;

It’s full of mercy,

And lifts when we’re weak.

Ever peace-loving,

And easy to please;

Straight-forward, sincere,

He hears and He sees.

Ready to give help,

Wisdom chooses good;

Without favorites,

Grace is understood.

Make me teachable,

Considerate, kind;

Fair, loving, honest,

With others in mind.

Let my heart be pure,

With wisdom above;

Quiet gentleness,

That blesses with love.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Godly wisdom is about demonstrating Your goodness in a tangible way. Forgive us for the times that we have wandered far from wisdom to attempt to walk on our own. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on the wisdom of Your ways to extend the things which You call us to do. Show us how to love others well so that we are pure, peace-loving, gentle, kind, merciful, sincere, fair, honest, teachable, considerate, full of mercy, ready to do good, full of love and without favorites. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we continue to seek to grow in Your wisdom and walk it out all of our days. 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

Rendering Reconciliation

Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. – (Proverbs 16:24, NLT)

Kind words are like honey; they are easy to accept and good for your health. – (Proverbs 16:24, ERV)

Pleasant words are flowing honey, sweet to the taste and healing to the bones. – (Proverbs 16:24, CEB)

 

Yesterday, as I met with a student who often struggles to make good choices behaviorally and academically in the classroom for our one-on-one reading conference, I was reminded of how much truth lies in the words of this verse. As we began, he did an excellent job of explaining what he had learned in the book he had read, and then easily defined words from the vocabulary list. Throughout our meeting together, I praised and encouraged him, as I let him know how impressed I was with his hard work and reminded him how much I believed in his ability to do well each time he invested himself in whatever task the class was being asked to take on. Seemingly out of nowhere, his gaze dropped to the floor, and tears silently began to slide down his cheeks. In disbelief, I sat there for a moment, unsure of what I was meant to do. After taking a moment, I encouraged him a bit more and then asked him if there was anything that I could do to help. He shook his head “no”, so I followed with the question, “I can see that things are pretty tough right now. Do you have hope that they will get better?” He nodded his head up and down and accepted the tissue I offered. Our brief exchange reminded me yet again, just how much kind words matter. May we ever seek the Lord for His guidance to fill us with the words that others need to hear most that are sweet to hear and bring healing to places that are hurting.

 

Kind words do matter, Patient Acceptance

Far more than we know;

They heal the hurting,

And help goodness grow.

Sweet, just like honey,

Such help to the soul;

A salve for our wounds,

As His mercy flows.

Let us choose kindness,

With words that we say;

Healing can happen,

When Love leads the way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the truth of Your word that You continue to show us again and again in tangible ways. Thank You that kind words are sweet to the soul and healing to the body. Forgive me for the times that kind words were not the first thought to come to mind or that which escaped my lips. Teach me to trust You more, so that I would listen to Your leading and speak the words that You would have me say. Show me how to love others well with my words, just as You love each of us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we extend kind words to others in such a way, that healing comes to the recipient. Amen.

 

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

The joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10