To Love and To Serve

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. – (John 13:14-15, NIV)

I am your Lord and Teacher. But I washed your feet. So you also should wash each other’s feet. I did this as an example for you. So you should serve each other just as I served you. – (John 13:14-15, ERV)

So if your Lord and Teacher washes your feet, then you should wash one another’s feet. I am your example; keep doing what I do. – (John 13:14-15, VOICE)

 

At the time that this particular text was written, washing a person’s feet was a filthy and degrading practice. People traveled by sandaled foot, across dry and dusty terrain. I imagine that by the day’s end, feet were about as filthy as they could get, and washing people’s feet as they returned home was not a coveted position. However, Jesus demonstrated what it is to love and serve one another, as He stooped down and washed the feet of His disciples. His willingness to get into the mess with them and help get them clean, was the perfect example of servant leadership. We are not called to lead nor teach from a position above anyone else; rather, we are called to walk beside others, helping out where things are messy, so that each individual can bring their best foot forward. As an educator, this is a timely reminder. How do I care for my students best, so that they are served and loved in a way that readies them to be led forward to becoming their best selves? May we each go forth in pursuit of ways to “wash the feet” of those around us, so that we may love and serve others, in the same way that we have been loved and cleansed by God.

 

After speaking with mom late yesterday afternoon, the biggest prayer is that her in-home therapies get going. Yesterday was a bit of a rest day, as she hadn’t really felt like doing much of anything. The day prior she had done a significant amount of walking, so I encouraged her that everyone needs an occasional rest day. My brother-in-love and nephew had just returned home from a short get-away, so the conversation was brief, and mom was eager to hear about their adventures. I am blown away by the kindness extended to me by my colleagues who are familial-like friends, as so many have checked in and inquired about mom. Several are praying and extending well-wishes, as they have been since the beginning.

 

With eyes open wide,Ambassadors of Love

It’s not hard to see;

Places to reach out,

Lend hand, meet a need.

We are created,

To love and to serve;

As Jesus loves us,

Not as is deserved.

Lord, help us to love,

Do so, tangibly;

So people feel known,

And hearts are set free.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to show us what it is to love and serve one another. Thank You that You call us to come alongside one another and get in the trenches beside each other. Thank You that You equip and strengthen us for all that You ask of us. Forgive us for the times that we have been unwilling to serve in spaces where we should. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would have a heart like Yours. Show us how to love people with a servant’s heart, that is willing to step into the muck and help clear a way out. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You and love those around us, in the way we are called to love. Amen.

 

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

 

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. – Galatians 5:13

Faithfulness to the Skies

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. – (Psalm 36:5, NIV)

Lord, your faithful love reaches to the sky. Your faithfulness is as high as the clouds. – (Psalm 36:5, ERV)

Your steadfast love, O Lord, is as great as all the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. – (Psalm 36:5, TLB)

 

I love that every day is new, and each morning is a fresh reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness and love. It is particularly clear from my vantage point, as the view from mom’s kitchen table is spectacular. Each day as I rise before the sun, God’s handiwork greets me as He paints the sky new every morning. No two sunrises look the same. The cloud patterns and the colors shift and change, mix and blend, reminding me that He is creative and innovative, able to take on new challenges in new ways.

Last night, mom only woke one time during the night! For those who have been following our story daily, this means that both of us slept more last night, than we like did over the previous two nights combined. (Thank you for those of you who have been praying!) Furthermore, yesterday was full of things to be celebrated! During physical therapy in the morning, mom walked nearly half the length of her hallway with her walker, unassisted! Once she grew a bit fatigued, she rested for a moment or two, and then the physical therapist, Nick, had me assist/spot mom with her walking. It was exhilarating to participate directly with her, and gain the nod of approval to at last work with mom on our own on walking. Because we now have clearance to practice walking, we gave it another go in the evening as we were winding down. Mom is overjoyed and completely motivated, as she is ready to demonstrate her new-found confidence for my husband and boys when they arrive later this morning. The appointment with mom’s physiatrist went well, as she is the one who oversees and coordinates all post-stroke care. She was pleased with mom’s progress thus far, and will see her again in early August. We had a wonderful visit with mom’s next-door neighbors before dinner, and made the most of our evening, prior to calling it a night fairly early, after our previous two nights of not nearly enough sleep. Mom and I shared an early breakfast to watch the sunrise (photo below), and appreciated God’s handiwork together. Each of us sat in awe, as we gazed upon His glory in gratitude. May we ever remember the faithfulness and goodness of God, and just how far-reaching His love is for us all.

 

The Lord is faithful,img_2019-06-29_05-55-33225047676974216251.jpg

Beyond what we see;

His grace unending,

He loves tangibly.

Be it a sunrise,

At the break of day;

Or loving guidance,

As He points the way.

No matter what comes,

The Lord, He is near;

He will remain close,

Help us persevere.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and kind and loving. Thank You that Your faithfulness never ends. Thank You for sleep and restoration when we need it the most. Forgive us for our frustration when we cannot do anything to control our circumstances. Continue to teach us to hand all to You. Show us how to love well all those around us, as You empower us to walk faithfully and lovingly alongside them, encouraging and building up as they move forward. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for Your steadfast love and faithfulness that reaches to the heavens and is painted across the sky each morning. Amen.

 

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

 

Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. – John 1:16

Courage to Do the Work

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God is with you.” –  (1 Chronicles 28:20a, NIV)

“Be strong and brave and finish this work. Don’t be afraid, because the Lord God, my God, is with you.” – (1 Chronicles 28:20a, ERV)

“Be strong, courageous, and effective. Do not fear or be dismayed. I know that the Eternal God, who is my God, is with you.” – (1 Chronicles 28:20a, VOICE)

 

In the same way that David extended these words of encouragement to his son, Solomon, as he was tasked to build the temple for the ark of the covenant, so too, does God extend the same to us, every time we step forward in faith to answer His call. These words feel a bit like a battle cry this morning, as Friday was probably my last “true academic teaching day” of the school year, and this morning, my last morning at home for several weeks. I am called and chosen to go and be with my mom, and I would not have it any other way; however, I am human, and there are elements of the unknown that cause me to constantly have to fend off fear, as well as a sort of grieving for the loss of the close of this school year with my students and time with my family and friends at home. God is good, and I know that He has called, chosen and prepared my sister and me for such a time as this. He has orchestrated time off and supplied for our every need. We are surrounded, supported and loved; tangibly. Our spouses, children, family and friends have only encouragement and love to offer, and we are eternally grateful. We are strengthened and encouraged to be effective in the work that lies ahead, because of the warriors that are battling on our behalf, behind the scenes. God is with us, and with Him, we need not fear.

As for mom, the busy days continue with her transition day drawing nearer still. Yesterday, between her morning of therapy sessions and the excitement of my brother-in-love and nephews arriving and spending time with she and my sister, she was completely exhausted and ready to call it a day, shortly after dinner. There are two wonderful things about this, as I pause to ponder what took place. First, mom advocated for herself, and let it be known that she was tired and ready to rest. (Of utmost importance, as the brain continues to heal and repair itself during rest) Second, I imagine some of her decision was the hostess in her, that desperately desired Meg to spend some time with her fellas. That too, is another indicator of her healing, as more and more of her usual ways become evident in all that she says and does. Selfless and loving, preferring others above herself, I imagine she wanted desperately for her girl to have time with her husband and boys, and she figured the rest would do her some good as well. Win. Win.

 

Be strong, take courage,

img_2019-05-26_06-29-226071714814702286098.jpg

An early morning view from Mom’s deck. ❤

For we’re not alone;

We’re called and chosen,

And completely known.

We’ve nothing to fear,

With God by our side;

No mountain’s too great,

Nor valley too wide.

Do not be dismayed,

When things seem go wrong;

For God is present,

And He’ll make us strong.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You never leave us nor forsake us, even when the road ahead seems intimidating in the unknown. Thank You that we’ve nothing to fear, for You are always with us. Forgive us for allowing the unknowns to intimidate us into fearfulness. Teach us to depend on You to be our strength and resolve, trusting You to lead us and guide us, every step of each new day. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they may be strengthened and encouraged and shown Your love in tangible ways. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust in You to be our strength and resolve in all things. Amen.

 

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

 

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy. – Colossians 1:11

Meeting Every Need

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 4:19, NIV)

My God will use His glorious riches to give you everything you need. He will do this through Christ Jesus. – (Philippians 4:19, ERV)

You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, His generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes. – (Philippians 4:19, MSG)

 

Can I get really real about God’s economy right now? For me, this has little to do with anything financial, and everything to do with time, people and strength. After having spent three years of my life as a missionary, I trust Him with finances. I know He will supply all that is needed, as it is needed. A more challenging side for me is for practical or emotional things. “Gutting things out” and “powering through”, have been my mode of operation for much of my life. Though God has disrupted my typical patterns time and time again to show me that He has me, and I give Him things over and over again, there is a part of me that still struggles with the seemingly small stuff.

Yesterday, mom had another phenomenal day! During physical therapy, she walked (heavily assisted) a good eight feet down the hallway, and she was able to move her right leg in and out with knees up when she was lying on her back. I had to fend off tears of joy at the wave of hope that flooded my happy heart.  Sadly, I felt caught in an ebb tide during speech therapy, as the therapist was explaining that mom also has aphasia (which we recognized but did not know the name – as it is when the person knows what they want to say, but can’t find the right words or can’t get them out). Watching mom struggle with verbal and visual tasks that she would have worked on with my boys when they were little, felt as if I were being drug out to sea, so far beyond the shore that I would never find my way back. The teacher in me gave mom a verbal cue that I would have given a student, and it gave mom the tool she needed to complete that particular task. Provision by His grace. Additionally, I have been antsy to get out and move. Sitting is a challenge for both mom and myself, and I know it has been hard on her. We have been told that it is no problem to take mom outside, and one therapist even suggested the coffee shop across the street. There were no particular boundaries given, so mom and I took the liberty to explore a little. I made sure we both had sunscreen and sunhats, (as it was 82 yesterday) and we started off by doing a big lap around the facility, that covers a full city block. Mom was thoroughly enjoying “cruising” as I pushed her in her chair, and I, the movement and huge smile on her face. After asking her if she was okay with us exploring further, she got a mischievous grin, and replied, “yes”. Our adventure took us another five blocks down Chelan Avenue before we turned around to head back. I had my purse and cell phone with me as safety precautions, and all was wonderful. Upon our return, we settled in and watched a movie, and mom’s bestie stopped by for a quick hug and hello. At the same time, she brought me the most amazing spinach and strawberry salad for dinner, and there was enough to left to have for lunch today as well. (Preparing dinner after leaving the hospital at 7:30 pm or so is not a joy, especially since my sister is back in Albany for now) June’s provision granted me the energy and determination to run errands after leaving the hospital, instead of going straight home to mom’s house. While wandering through Target, I became overwhelmed. I imagine it was simply the roller coaster of the day catching up to me, but if anyone had been watching me walk through the store, I think they might have thought I was on something. Somehow, I managed to find the few things I intended to purchase, but had this horrible empty, alone feeling. In the midst of it, I received a perfectly timed text from a friend, whom I appreciate so much from school, who was just checking in. It was what I needed when I needed it. Between messages from my bestie, check-ins with my children, and a day-closing conversation with my incredibly supportive spouse, I ended the day knowing all was in His hands. God knows. God provides. People are His greatest riches; we simply must keep our eyes open to see them.

 

Holy, beloved,

0508191955_hdr5169455991610200322.jpg

On the side of the road as I drove home last night. ❤

The Lord above all;

Faithful Provider,

He won’t let us fall.

Our needs are all known,

Not one goes unseen;

As we seek the Lord,

We learn what love means.

Love sees and love knows,

The things of the heart;

That cause fear and doubt,

Lies that tear apart.

When we are open,

In love, the Lord moves;

Needs met tangibly,

His power, He proves.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your goodness and grace, and for the way that You love us so very well. Thank You that You are our Provider, and that we need not worry about having or being enough. Thank You that You provide the strength and resources we need to overcome every obstacle that stands before us. Forgive us for thinking that we have to power through things or gut them out on our own, as Your do not call us to that. Thank You that You never leave us nor forsake us, even when we feel alone. Thank You that You make Your love tangible. Show us how to be Your hands, heart and voice to those around us, so that others too, may be unarguably aware of Your goodness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You thanks for Your faithful provision and Your power as You continue to move on Mom’s behalf. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

How Faith Grows

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. – (2 Peter 1:5-7, NLT)

Because you have these blessings, do all you can to add to your life these things: to your faith add goodness; to your goodness add knowledge; to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add patience; to your patience add devotion to God; to your devotion add kindness to your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to this kindness add love. – (2 Peter 1:5-7, ERV)

 

Faith that is not actively growing and being utilized, shrivels up and dies. Peter reminds us of a variety of ways that we can continue to grow in our faith and allow God’s grace to shine through us, as we seek Him to help us add to all of these things. When we extend goodness, self-control, patience, kindness and love, those around us notice. We are equipped and empowered to do so as we devote ourselves to the Lord and seek His wisdom to walk in His way. This is the perfect time of year to actively live out our faith tangibly. The need for each of these things is evident, everywhere – be it in a checkout line at the grocery store, in the classroom, at the dinner table, or as we have conversations with those we know, each extension of our response to God’s goodness gives those we interact with a helping of hope they may not have otherwise known. May we make every effort to respond to God’s promises by actively living out our faith as we add to our lives, all of these things.

 

Because we are blessed, How Faith Grows

We can also give;

Extensions of faith,

Each day that we live.

To faith, add goodness,

In knowledge, let’s grow;

Also have patience,

Extend self-control.

Devoted to God,

Add kindness to all;

Let love too, expand,

For this is our call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to exercise our faith in tangible ways. Thank You for those around us that are excellent examples of how to grow in each of these areas as they so faithfully follow You. Forgive us for the times that our faith lies dormant, and we do not actively pursue growth in the things of You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would ever be seeking You to add to our lives, all of these things. Show us how to best extend goodness, self-control, patience, kindness and love to those around us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we make every effort to respond to Your promises and actively grow our faith in You. 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

Be Full of Joy

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)

Always be full of joy. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ERV)

Let joy be your continual feast. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, TPT)

 

Despite what we go through or the struggles we face, we always have reason to give thanks. Joy is not dependent on our circumstances, but rather it is found in the hope that we know in Christ. As we walk this out tangibly, with His grace, our very lives become a prayer of praise in recognition of God’s goodness for all of our days. This is not to say that our days will be easy or free from trials, but rather as we continue to move in the direction to which we are called, we find faith and trust in knowing where our strength, help and hope come from. God is good, and the more we give Him thanks in all things, the more we discover His joy is present, even when life is difficult. May we never stop praying nor giving praise, for this is the life to which we have been called for all of our days.

 

Never stop praying,Be Full of Joy

Let joy lead the way;

All thanks be to God,

For help, strength and grace.

No matter what comes,

There’s reason to praise;

For God is our hope,

The Ancient of Days.

Despite what we see,

He has a great plan;

His love, unending,

Grace to firmly stand.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we always have joy deep within us through the hope we have in You. Thank You that as we pray and give You all gratitude, our very life is like a prayer before You as You lead us to walk out Your will. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to steal our joy, or for looking for answers anywhere other than You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would hold fast to the truth we know, and would seek You in all things and at all times. Show us how to love others and spread the joy that You have given to us, so that they too, may come to know the hope that is held in You alone. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we choose joy and make our very lives a prayer as we give You all praise. Amen.

 

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

 

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. – James 5:11

 

 

To Be Equipped

May He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever. Amen. – (Hebrews 13:21, NLT) 

 

As our team continues to prepare for Saturday’s departure for Belize, it is my prayer that the words of Hebrews 13:21 would be felt tangibly for each of us. Just as it requires careful and thoughtful preparation and organization to fit all that we need for our time in Belize into one hiking backpack, so too does it require intentional time with our Heavenly Father to prepare our hearts for all that He intends to do in us and through us while we are there. May we each be equipped to do His will as we seek Him with our whole heart. For every good thing that is pleasing to Him, comes from the power of His Spirit at work within us.  

 

Prepare our hearts, Lord, To Be Equipped

Equip us anew; 

To rise up in faith, 

Where You call us to. 

It’s by Your power, 

That we can do good; 

All that is pleasing, 

Your grace understood. 

Shape us and mold us, 

By Your mighty hands; 

To serve with our hearts, 

And fulfill Your plans. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You equip us with all we need to do Your will, if we come to You and depend on You. Thank You that through Your power in us, You produce good things that are pleasing unto You. Forgive us for trying to go our own way, or attempting to do things in our own strength. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would allow Your power to produce in us, that which is pleasing to You. Show us how to walk out this journey in a way that demonstrates Your amazing love to the people of Belize and to each other. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. All glory to You, God, forever and ever. Amen. 

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

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

A Powerful and Purposeful Life

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. – (2 Timothy 1:7)

 

The gifts God gives are abundant and beneficial. That which He deposits within us, by His Holy Spirit, provide all that we need to live a powerful and purposeful life in Christ. Some of the above mentioned gifts are a bit easier to embrace than others. As one who has grown up as an athlete, the self-discipline portion makes sense and translates well to my spiritual life. Creating time each day to spend in God’s word is as natural as knowing the need to run regularly prior to a big race. Life is an ongoing race, so the daily training is essential to successfully navigate each new twist and turn as it comes.

 

Love too, seems to flow freely, as it has been poured abundantly into me. Having a godly and gracious grandmother and mother, who model what it means to love with all that they are, has set the standard for how I am meant to love my own children, and all those whom I encounter. Additionally, I am blessed with a circle of church family and friends that demonstrate the love of Christ, tangibly, to one another and to the community in which we reside.

 

To set aside timidity is to stretch the borders in which this introvert dwells. It is only by His power, that anything of worth can be accomplished, and I have to constantly remind myself that “greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.” It is only through self-discipline and love, that I am able to receive His power and say “yes“, when He asks anything of me that requires me to be bold. Ironically, this occurs daily, as the mere act of pressing the publish button is one of obedience, rather than of a desire to display my devotional life. By His Spirit, we can do abundantly more than we would ever imagine possible. May we go forth in His power, setting aside our fears and embracing His love, as we seek to submit to the Lord and live a disciplined life according to His good and perfect will.

 

For God does not give,Faith in the Fight

a spirit of fear;

but one of power,

as we choose draw near.

His Spirit is love,

and self-discipline;

to show us the way,

and keep us from sin.

Each time we choose love,

and set aside fear;

we show those in need,

how the Lord is near.

Lord, make us each bold,

strong in Your great might;

so we may run well,

and fight the good fight.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You did not give us a spirit of timidity, but rather You give us a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. Thank You that as we embrace Your Spirit within us, You accomplish amazing things both in us and through us. Thank You that we have the privilege of joining with You on our journey, and that it is Your joy to help us grow. Forgive us for our fearfulness and lack of love or self-discipline. Teach us to trust You more, so that we may be bold in Your power, and consistent in our faithful investment in You and Your created. Lead us to love others as You intend us to love. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we let go of our fears and embrace Your power and love through consistent time spent with You. 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

To Bear With One Another In Love

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – (Ephesians 4:2)

 

Patience, gentleness and humility are not always the loving response that come naturally when buttons are pushed – either intentionally or unintentionally. Just yesterday, I had to make a very cognitive choice to be patient and bear with others in love. Despite the others being those whom I love, my patience was challenged and stretched thin, and gentleness was not the response rising within me. I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit will gently, yet firmly, remind me of my responsibility to humbly and gently love. Each time that I choose to listen and walk in obedience to the prompting within, I do not regret the results. The choice to love, above all else, ultimately ends in good. My decision to walk in humility, gentleness, and patience, resulted in true gratitude for the grace that had been extended. In the end, I think that I ended up being more blessed through the process than anyone else, simply because I knew how tangibly present the Lord had drawn near, to make that acting in love, possible. May we choose to be completely humble and gentle; being patient with each other as we choose well to love.

 

Despite what’s before us,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

we have each been called;

to walk ever humbly,

and gentle to all.

May we each be patient,

where tempers try flare;

and choose to bear in love,

those whom cause despair.

For as we choose to love,

God moves mightily;

His great blessings abound,

beyond what is seen.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are humble, gentle and patient, and that You bear with us in love. Thank You that You do not ask anything of us, that You are not willing to strengthen and equip us to carry out. Forgive us for the times that we have not chosen humility, gentleness, patience, or love, and help us to trust You more, so that we will seek You and Your strength to do as You ask us to do. Lead us to love others well, even when they are difficult to love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we walk in humility and gentleness, trusting You to grant us patience and grace to bear with one another in Your love. Amen.

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

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