Prepared Like a Bride

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – (Revelation 21:2-4, NIV)

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It was prepared like a bride dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne. It said, “Now God’s home is with people. He will live with them. They will be His people. God Himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain. All the old ways are gone.” – (Revelation 21:2-4, ERV)

 

God really is so good. Though I felt compelled to call this site Revelations in Writing, I have not spent much time dwelling in the book of Revelation. The content, quite honestly, makes me a bit anxious, rather than brings clarity. I don’t avoid it altogether, I just have not really dove deep into a dedicated study of that particular book. This morning, however, I was nearly moved to tears by the imagery found in the verses that appeared in my daily devotions. Being such a visual person, these verses struck a space in my heart that needed to imagine such incredible, beautiful hope.

It was a little less than a year ago, and I was the bride, dressing for my husband on our wedding day, right here at my mom’s house. Dear family and treasured friends joined us to celebrate our union before God in this gorgeous setting. As a girl who grew up caring far more about athletics and art than appearances, I have never been one to feel particularly “pretty” or “beautifully dressed”, but rather an artist who has fun with color and pattern and design. However, on my wedding day, I did feel like a bride who had been transformed for her groom – not because of my clothing or hair; it was the way I was viewed through the eyes of my groom.

Additionally, the hope that is held in these verses, offers a load far lighter than what I bore yesterday. Between the early morning’s fiasco, exhaustion, and then learning of the loss of my paternal grandmother, my heart was so heavy that it simply sat in my chest as a stone. I could not even feel because the weight was so great.

Mom struggled with word finding the first half of the day, as the lack of sleep had really taken a toll. We met her new in-home physical therapist, and were both very impressed and pleased. She will begin sessions three days per week, starting Monday. Speech therapy and occupational therapy are yet to be scheduled, but those should begin this coming week as well. She will have in-home nurse visits too, to be sure all is going as it should. So far, her care team is fantastic, and I am grateful that we have the opportunity to keep mom in her own home in Wenatchee.

All that to say, that the hope held in knowing that one day we will be with God, and He with us, where there will be no wheelchairs, monitors, bed rails, strokes, sickness, deaths, diseases, fears, frustration, tears, nor pain, is an incredible promise to hold in our hearts.

 

Imagine the bride,

dsc058528737239222190478544.jpg

Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

On her wedding day;

Eager and ready,

For all that awaits.

Two lives full of hope,

Placed in the Lord’s hands;

As loved ones witness,

His unfolding plan.

How much greater still,

Will it be one day;

When God comes to dwell,

Among us, to stay.

All sickness and pain,

Death, hurt and disease;

Will no longer be,

In Him, we’ll be free.

No weight nor sorrow,

Just wonder and awe;

Joy in His presence,

No more sinful flaw.

Fear not His coming,

Instead, let hope rise;

There’s beauty beyond,

Our dreams realized.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are so good. Thank You that You take our heaviness and exchange it with hope. Thank You that the weight of this world may feel heavy for a season, but the hope of eternity is well worth the weight we bear throughout the various seasons in life. Thank You that You strengthen and equip us to carry whatever load lies before us, and You bring others alongside us to share the weight. Forgive us for thinking that we are meant to carry things alone, or that this is somehow all there is, forgetting that there is so much more beyond what is before us in the right now. Teach us to trust You with our today, tomorrow and forever. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them see the hope that goes beyond today. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the hope that is held in eternity with You, and the help You supply in the “right now”. Thank You that You speak to us individually, in the way that penetrates the places in our hearts that feel heaviest and need Your light to shine the brightest. Amen.

 

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

 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

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

Knowing Our Own Need

In Luke 7:36-50, the story of Jesus being anointed by the sinful woman is unpacked. I love the scene that my mind’s eye imagines, as the Pharisee, who has invited Jesus to dinner, likely to show Him how “great” he was, was quite put out when this immoral woman showed up and began hanging out at the feet of Jesus. It even went so far as to record what Simon (the Pharisee) said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman is touching Him. She’s a sinner!” (Luke 7:39, NLT)

The sinful woman was fully aware of her sin. She was repentant as she knelt at the feet of Jesus and washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair. Additionally, she anointed his feet with perfume and continued to cover them with kisses.

Simon just did not get it. Jesus wanted to be sure that he did. He stopped Simon in his tracks, and told him a story of two men being forgiven their debts. One was forgiven a small debt, the other, a much larger debt. When Jesus asked Simon which man would love more, Simon was able to reply, “The one who had been forgiven more.”

It does not appear that Simon had some sort of great revelation for himself and his own need for forgiveness, but at least it seems he gained a glimpse of why the woman’s weeping and washing of Jesus’ feet with her hair was an act of worship.

This story has many points, but the two that stand out the most are that we need to recognize our own necessity to repent, and that it is not our position to determine a person’s heart when they come before the Lord. We all have a past, and those who have been forgiven much, love much. May we ever seek the Lord and His forgiveness, so that we may go forth and love as He loves.

 

There’s no “good enough”,

caught-in-awe-sylvia-carlton

Artwork by Sylvia Carlton

Nor penance required;

Instead, we can come,

Presence is desired.

Jesus says draw near,

Despite where we’ve been;

He longs to forgive,

Wash away our sin.

As we choose take pause,

Truly recognize;

His mercy granted,

Great love realized.

As we’re forgiven,

Let us likewise love;

So others too know,

Hope in Christ above.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us such beautiful examples of forgiveness and gratitude for Your mercy and grace. Thank You that You call us to be gracious and merciful as You are full of mercy and grace toward us all. Forgive us for the times that we either viewed others as less than, or ourselves as more than we should. Teach us to see ourselves and others through Your lens – as loved and in need of a Savior. Help us to love well, all those around us, so that they may see Your heart through our mercy and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love without limits, and forgive as we have been forgiven. 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

A Homecoming to Celebrate

How does one adequately express the essence of a ninety-eight year life lived well? I thought about speaking of my Gram’s faithfulness to God, her unwavering love for her family, friends and church, or perhaps the way that she utilized the gifts that God gave her of music and writing and art to touch the hearts of those around her for Him. For a few weeks I allowed my thoughts to simply settle, and just waited for words to come. As I was driving home from work a few weeks ago, and the lines I knew I was to record and share began playing over and over in my mind, I discovered that my portion to share was not about what Gram had done, but rather where her faith and hope had taken her. Those who knew Rosemary Elizabeth Steiner, knew that she was certain of her eternity. Her hope was not in earthly treasures, but rather in her heavenly home. Gram reminded us always that we were precious in her sight, just as we are in Christ’s. May we all rejoice in the hope of our eternity, and celebrate her incredible homecoming together.

 

Precious OnesWith Gram2

Weep not precious ones,

For I am now home;

The view before me,

Is like none I’ve known.

I walk on gold streets,

With angels, I sing;

Each breath full of life,Praise in Mourning

Love’s sweet offerings.

And O when my eyes,

At last saw His face;

So tender and kind,

His welcome embrace.

Gentle were His words,

As He said to me,

“Well done, precious child!”

I fell to my knees…

Though strong were His hands,Strength in the Sorrow

My Savior knelt down;

He placed on my head,

My very own crown.

I could not contain,

The tears in my eyes;

As loved ones appeared,

This hope – realized.

Oh sweet beloveds,

Do not weep for me;

It’s but a moment,

To your setting free.

©Shannon E. Moreno 2017

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of my Gram that I have known for my entire life. Thank You that my children have had the privilege and the pleasure of knowing her too. Thank You for the example and blessing that Rosemary Elizabeth Steiner has been to so many. Forgive us for not recognizing nor appreciating the treasures we have in those around us nearly enough. Teach us to honor and give thanks for all those whom You have placed in our lives. Show us how to love well, just as she loved like You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the blessed homecoming of those who faithfully follow You. 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

When the Sun Shines In

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

When doubts filled my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. – (Psalm 94:19, NLT)

 

This has been the longest week that I have walked through in a very long time. Between the loss of my grandmother, the final push of gymnastics season, and the last week of school prior to spring break, I had many doubts in my moments of mourning as to whether or not I would be able to get through the week with my sanity intact. Incredibly, God provided comfort in the quiet moments when my heart felt overwhelmed by loss, and fortified my body and mind with strength to stand, even in the instances when I did not think I could. Little things mean everything to me, and as the week wore on, countless blessings brought hope and cheer to my hurting heart. Yesterday, at the close of the school day, the sun was shining and I was smiling. His grace had gotten me through what at the start of the week, seemed impossible. My day closed with sushi, more sunshine, and company with one who makes my heart feel cherished. As I returned home and began to drift off to sleep, rather than grief, I was overwhelmed with gladness. God is so good. May we ever seek the Lord and His strength, as He is the One who removes our doubts, grants comfort in our grief, and renews our hope and cheer.

 

In our space of doubt,When the Sun Shines In

Brought forth by our fear;

The God of all grace,

Will wipe all our tears.

He’ll be our comfort,

For He’s ever near;

Renewing our hope,

Blessings of His cheer.

No matter what comes,

In mourning or doubt;

God will be present,

If we seek Him out.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God of all comfort and the One who renews our hope. Thank You that when we grieve, You are near to comfort and bless us with Your presence and Your hope. Thank You that You remove our doubts and supply all that we need to continue to do what You have called us to do. Forgive us for entertaining our doubts rather than reaching out to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would rely on You to renew our hope and cheer, and seek Your comfort in times of mourning. Show us how to love those around us so that we may extend Your comfort, hope and cheer to those struggling with doubt and those who are mourning. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rely on You to be our comfort and to renew our hope and cheer, as You are ever near. Amen.

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

Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of Your love; in Your great mercy turn to me. – Psalm 69:16

Come Boldly

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. – (Hebrews 4:16, NLT)

 

It is easy for me to get so busy in the routine of my day, that I don’t realize how desperately I am in need of His grace. Often, He has already given it, which is why I am still standing, yet when I take pause and set my sight on Him, I recognize how much I need His grace, mercy and ongoing presence in order to navigate an ordinary day in His way. God is always available. He never leaves; He patiently waits for us to come. Our charge is to seek Him, as God is gracious and full of mercy. His arms are wide open and He is ready to grant us what is needed to faithfully honor Him in all that we do. May we boldly approach the throne of God, ready to receive His mercy and grace, as He loves us through the trials and triumphs of all of our days.

 

With boldness, let’s seek,

the throne of our God;Gentleness for the Weary

for that’s where our hearts,

hear heaven’s applaud.

All thanks for mercy,

gratitude for grace;

that He freely gives,

when we seek His face.

Whatever our need,

He comes where we are;

He holds hands and hearts,

collects tears in jars.

Our great gracious God,

gives hope in our need;

He helps and He loves,

our hungry soul feeds.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come boldly before Your throne. Thank You that as we do, You grant us Your grace and mercy to help us when we need it most. Forgive us for trying to navigate our trials on our own, rather than seeking You and Your strength. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would boldly and with unwavering faith, come to You with our trials and triumphs, thankful that You are with us in all things. Show us how to love those around us in a tangible way, so that they may find mercy, grace and hope through how we love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come boldly before You in all things and at all times, trusting You to be our help and our hope. Amen.

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

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. – 2 Corinthians 1:3

Promised Joy

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. – (Psalm 126:5)

God’s ability to restore life unto us, is beyond what we can even begin to fathom. He takes even our most sorrowful circumstances, and will in time, bring good where grief has reigned. Tragedy is turned into triumph, and where there was weeping, joy will come. The challenge is in the waiting between the promise and the fulfillment. Our charge is to remember that God is always good, even when our circumstances are not. He will do immeasureably more than we could hope or imagine to bring life and light and joy, where there has been none. May we trust Him with our trials and tears, and allow His song to rise in our hearts as joy will come again.

Bring every tear,

before Christ the King;

for He will receive,

our each offering.

He takes our sorrow,

and turns it around;

the places we’re lost,

in Him, we are found.

He wipes all our tears,

and brings us new life;

gives joy and gladness,

where there was once strife.

In Christ we can trust,

that true joy shall come;

as we wait in faith,

let His will be done.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we go through difficult seasons, they will not last forever. Thank You that You promise to bring good out of even the most painful of tragedies. Thank You that You are faithful to do what You say You will do, and that we can trust You in all things at all times. Forgive us for allowing sorrow to sap our surrender to patiently wait on You, and teach us to trust You more, so that we may persevere to see the joy that You have in store for each of us, even after the most trying of times. Lead us to love others in such a way, that we extend the truth of the hope that is held in You. Be glorified O God, as we bring our burdens to You, and patiently wait on You to move in Your might, trusting in the promised joy that is yet to come. Amen.

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

Because of the tender mercy of our God, …the rising sun will come to us from heaven. – Luke 1:78

Remembering His Faithfulness

I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all Your works and consider what your hands have done. – (Psalm 143:5)

David faced some seriously discouraging circumstances. More than once, he had to flee for his very life, despite knowing that God had called him to be king. Despite the dismay at the detours, David chose to direct his heart and mind to the displays of faithfulness that the Lord had demonstrated for the many generations that had gone before him. He knew that God was faithful, and that His word was true. Rather than fixing his eyes on the hardships that he could see, David chose to meditate on all that God had done before, trusting that He would be faithful to continue to keep His promises as He had done so faithfully, for the many generations that had gone before him.

We are called to do the very same thing in the face of adversity. It is our choice to either focus on the problem, or on He who is faithful to hear our every prayer, and be present beside us, every step of the way. When we slow down and remember all the ways in which He has been faithful to us already, it is easier to meditate on the truth of His word, and what He has promised He will do. God is good, and His love endures forever. We need not allow our hearts to be overcome with fret or fear, but rather we ought to meditate on His works and the wonder of all that He has done. May we keep our hearts and minds fixed on Christ and the truth of who He is, so that we always remember what He has done, and where we are ultimately headed.

Remember the times,Break Camp and Move Out

that God has come through;

provided answers,

shown us what to do.

When there was a need,

our God did provide;

unexpectedly,

a whisper replied.

The Lord’s gentle hand,

as someone came near;

His comfort granted,

to our silent tears.

A ray of sunlight,

after raging rain;

hope we can cling to,

He makes our path plain.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are and have always been faithful. Thank You that You remain the same: yesterday, today and forever. Thank You that we can look to the past to remember Your faithfulness throughout the ages, when we are discouraged about today. Thank You that when we look to all that You have done, You restore our hope for both today and forever, as You are unchanging and abounding in love. Forgive us for forgetting to stop and meditate on all of Your works, as when we consider all that You have done, we cannot help but be hopeful. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would slow down and take time to consider all that You have done for us, even in the midst of our greatest trials, as You never leave us nor forsake us. Lead us to love others in such a way, that we might be an extension of Your hands and heart to those who need Your tangible touch. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we remember all that You have done, and go forth in confidence, knowing that Your faithfulness will last forever. 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

Keeping In His Love

Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. – (Jude 21)

 

To keep ourselves in God’s love, is to remain invested in Him. As we spend time in His word, in worship and in prayer, we grow in our understanding and knowledge of Christ; becoming ever more aware of how His love surrounds us and His mercy grounds us, to walk in the light of His love. Our promise, the very hope that we hold, is eternal life in Christ that comes through our relationship with Him. May we each invest ourselves in God’s love, so that we remain in Him; steadfast and full of grace as we embrace the hope of what is yet to come.

 

In the love of Christ,Delivering Dreams

is the safest space;

rooted, established,

in His tender grace.

For the more we know,

the closer we cling;

to God’s steadfast truth,

our hope offering.

It’s hope for today,

and all tomorrows;

salvation in Christ,

end to our sorrows.

Forever with Christ,

He’ll wipe away tears;

give joy for heartache,

and comfort all fears.

The Lord is able,

He’ll help us through all;

if we cling to Him,

and upon Him call.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your love keeps us, when we invest our hearts, minds and lives in You. Thank You for Your mercy that grants us eternal life. Forgive us for not investing all that we are in You, and teach us to trust You more, so that we seek You and find You in all things and at all times. Lead us to love others with mercy and grace, so that they will long to seek Your face. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we keep ourselves in Your love, while we wait for eternity with You. Amen.

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

Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God,  You who have done great things.  Who, O God, is like You? – Psalm 71:19