A Day to Remember

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

I look up to the hills, but where will my help really come from? My help will come from the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, ERV)

I look up at the vast size of the mountains – from where will my help come in times of trouble? The Eternal Creator of heaven and earth and these mountains will send the help I need. – (Psalm 121:1-2, VOICE)

 

It is impossible to begin today without taking pause to reflect on the events that transpired on this date, nearly two decades ago. The shock and horror of the tragic losses, are forever etched in images in my mind. However, in the midst of such devastation, people came together and helped one another, in ways that have seldom been matched since. Stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help and provide for those around them, brought great light in the midst of so much darkness. When I see such dissent in our current culture, and the ensuing animosity that follows, I have to take pause and remember to lift my eyes to the One who can be the help and the peace that is present, and trust Him to bring change, beginning with me. May we look to the Lord to be our help and our hope, as we extend the light that we long to see in the world.

 

A day to remember, 9-11-memorial-03-marley-white__large

Let us never forget;

All the loss that took place,

Sorrow’s sea of regrets.

Lives tragically taken,

Families left alone;

To pick up the pieces,

Acts of terror had sown.

The nation chose rally,

Stand together, unite;

Support one another,

Rise and do what was right.

May we capture the heart,

That came from tragedy;

Choose to love others well,

Agree to disagree.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our help who we can always look to, no matter what we face. Thank You for the countless ways that You made Your heart known through the kindness of people on that fateful day, years ago. Thank You that we saw the best in people in the worst of times. Forgive us for forgetting that there is good in the world. Teach us to go forth and be the example that we long to see. Show us how to love those around us in a way that spreads Your light and life and hope. May many come in a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You and go forth in love. Amen.

 

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

 

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34

True Source of Strength

I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, NIV)

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. – (Psalm 121:1-2, MSG)

I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help. But then I realize that our true help and protection come only from the Lord, our Creator who made the heavens and the earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2, TPT)

 

The beauty and majesty found in creation are tangible reminders of the power and goodness of God. Even as a small child, I remember seeing the first star of the evening and beginning with a wish that would soon transform into a prayer to the very One who hung the stars in the sky. That same heart is still reminded of God’s grace and strength at the sight of the work of His hands. Today is a day that many of us will never forget. I still remember my drive to work as the news came over the radio that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. Upon arrival, I, with so many others, turned on the TV in my classroom to watch in horror as the footage of the horrific events unfolded. The images will forever be etched in my mind. As I drove home that day, I took in the view of the mountain, and was reminded that the same God who made majestic mountains, could bring beauty from the ashes of so much destruction. Though we may never understand why such tragedies occur this side of heaven, the stories of redemption and beauty and overcoming have risen from the ashes. People who were touched by the tragedy, hold their loved ones a little tighter and do not take a single day for granted. Spouses, siblings and children of those who were lost, have gone on to accomplish great things in honor of their loved ones. May we ever look to the Lord, our Creator, to be our help, as He is the true source of strength.

 

No matter what comes,9-11-memorial-03-marley-white__large.jpg

We must realize;

That God is the One,

Who gives strength to rise.

Rise from the ashes,

When all seemed but lost;

Rise from the rubble,

For He paid the cost.

No matter the darkness,

The Lord is the light;

His love and His grace,

Set wrong things to right.

O Lord, be our strength,

When trials come near;

Grant courage to rise,

In the face of fear.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have created so much beauty that reminds us of Your goodness and strength. Thank You that often, as we see the work of Your hands, our gaze is lifted to You. Forgive us for not looking to You to be the light in every darkness, or for celebrating creation rather than the Creator. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You to be our help, and praise You in all things and at all times, as You alone are our strength and supply. Show us how to love those around us in a way that brings light and life, goodness and grace into spaces where there is none. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize where we find help that lasts. Amen.

 

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

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” – Hebrews 13:6

Rest to Be Shown

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, NLT)

“Come to Me all of you who are tired from the heavy burden you have been forced to carry. I will give you rest.” – (Matthew 11:28, ERV)

“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to Me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.” – (Matthew 11:28, TPT)

 

Recently, it has felt like a very heavy season. Between the heartbreaking stories of what has happened locally, to the behaviors manifesting in students all over campus, (likely caused by personal trauma) to sorrows reaching those whom are dear to me, it is nearly impossible to not be affected by the weight of it all. This is the space where it is critical that I hand the heaviness to Him who is best able to bear the burdens, as it is through Christ that I find peace and rest, regardless of what surrounds me. No, turning in trust to God does not make our burdens disappear, but rather it reduces the weight as He grants us the strength to rise up and press on, knowing that He is with us and for us in all things. Finding His rest in the throes of the fight supplies us with the fortitude to persevere. May we go to God with our every burden, for He is where we find light and life, when all that surrounds us seems dark.

 

Our precious Savior,Quiet Hope

In love, He says, “Come”;

“Bring Me your burdens,

My daughters and sons.”

Those who are weary,

In Me, You’ll find rest;

I will refresh You,

No matter the mess.

Carry no longer,

The heavy alone;

For God is calling,

With rest to be shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You call us to bring our burdens to You, so that we can find rest. Forgive us for trying to bear the weight of the world on our own. Teach us to turn to You in trust, knowing that Your hands that hold all of creation, can handle whatever lies before us. We lift up those affected by tragedy and trauma, and ask that You would show us how to help walk alongside them and help shoulder the weight in Your strength. Lead us to love well, just as we are loved by You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You our heavy burdens and readily receive Your rest. Amen.

 

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

 

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

 

 

Comfort in Mourning

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

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

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

 

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

 

God brings His blessing,Comfort in Mourning

To all those who mourn;

He’s our safe harbor,

Through all of life’s storms.

He’ll be our comfort,

When flooded with grief;

The One to embrace,

As love grants relief.

When tragedy strikes,

And hope seems but gone;

Bring grief to the Lord,

He’ll carry us on.

 

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

 

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

 

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

Public Praise

But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising Him to everyone. – (Psalm 109:30, NLT)

I give thanks to the Lord. I praise Him in front of everyone. – (Psalm 109:30, ERV)

I will continually give thanks to the Eternal with the praises of my mouth; I will praise Him in the company of many. – (Psalm 109:30, VOICE)

 

In Psalm 109, David is pouring out his heart to the Lord about the harsh treatment that he is receiving at the hands of wicked people. His very first words are words of praise, followed by a call for help. As David presents the pains inflicted upon him at the hands of others, he adds how he has tried to pray. As he continues to unpack the unpleasantries unveiled at the hands of those around him, he calls on the Lord for His faithful love and help. Ultimately, at the end of the Psalm, David gives God his gratitude, and presents praise before all of the people around him. Again, David speaks of the faithful character of God, and how He saves. At the end of the day, David knew that God is good, faithful and loving, and that not only could he call on Him for help, but that the Lord was worthy of praise wherever he went. May we too, share the same sentiment of praise for our God, no matter what comes our way. When we recognize how loving and faithful our Father is for us, we cannot help but present our praise before Him.

 

To the Lord I bring,Believe Instead of Striving

All thanks and all praise;

For He is faithful,

For all of our days.

Before we unpack,

Each place we’re in need;

May we give honor,

To Him who sets free.

Let each heart that’s near,

Hear praise we profess;

So they too may know,

Of His faithfulness.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we can come to You, no matter what is happening in our lives, and ask for Your help and Your hope. Thank You Lord, that You are faithful and loving, and that You hear our every heart cry. Forgive us for not presenting the praise that is due before You, as You alone are worthy of all of our praise. Teach us how to trust You more, so that we would seek You and find You in triumph and in tragedy. Show us how to love with faithfulness and grace, so that those around us see the light of Your love through all that we say and do. Let our very lives bring praise unto You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give thanks to You and praise You before all people. Amen.

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

You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. – Acts 2:28

To Be At Peace

So all of you should live together in peace. Try to understand each other. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Be kind and humble. – (1 Peter 3:8, ERV)

 

Yesterday, as we returned to school for the first day that followed the 15th anniversary of 9/11, I spent the day informing my students about the events that unfolded, and then discussing questions that came up in conversation. One particular conversation that stood out to me, was the one about who was responsible for the terrorist attacks. An article that we read mentioned that the al-Qaeda were Islamic extremists. It was a terrific teachable moment, as one student started to make a statement about all people who followed Islam. What I was able to unpack for this kiddo, was that there is a vast difference between people who are living out their lives following their particular faith, and those who are among extremist groups. Though we don’t all believe the same things, the intent of most, is to live well. I was able to convey how despite the tragedy on that fateful day, our nation banded together during that time, as it has never done before or since. In light of the state of unrest in our country today, the very same sort of mindset toward one another is needed. We need to sympathize with one another. It is only when we choose to try to understand each other, that we are able to love each other as brothers and sisters. May we be kind and humble in all things and at all times.

 

Let us be at peace,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wherever we go;

Seek to understand,

Don’t think that we know.

All have a story,

That needs to be told;

Storms they are facing,

A hand we can hold.

When we choose listen,

Our choice to love grows;

For the heart can love,

Only what it knows.

Be kind and humble,

For there we find peace;

When we love as Christ,

Tensions are released.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You only ask of us that which You are willing to equip and empower us to do. Thank You that You showed us how to live together in peace and seek to understand one another through Your Son, and through those who have gone before us. Thank You that You give us Your heart to love one another as brothers and sisters, and in You, we can be kind and humble to those whom we encounter. Forgive us for not being aligned with Your will and choosing to walk in our own way. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would be of one mind with You. Show us how to love each other as brothers and sisters, so that You may be evident in all that we say and do. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek to understand and love well, all those whom we come across each day. 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

Rest As Required

They went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint His body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law. – (Luke 23:56, NLT)

 

The women who had faithfully followed Jesus and watched in sorrow as He breathed His last breath on the cross, were without many options as to what they might actually be able to do in response to such a seeming tragedy. The only role they knew was to faithfully prepare that which would grant their Savior a proper burial. I imagine they worked feverishly and with painstaking care, to finish the preparations in hope of going to the tomb right away, prior to their required rest. Sabbath sunrise arrived just after their work was done, and the ladies were left in a holding pattern of not yet.

How often do we too, in our seeming inability to do anything to help a situation, resort to that which we know, only to get to a place where we hit a wall, and find that we are stuck in a space of waiting or not yet? Often, it is much like it was for the women. Sunday is yet to come. That which is ahead, is exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine, even if it is something that has been promised before. Christ had told those who were faithful followers of His that He would rise, yet something about His foretelling did not ever really register with any of them. Often our places of pause or required rest, are strategically spaced just prior to a promise fulfilled or movement of a miracle. May we seek the Lord in our spaces of Sabbath, and simply rest in the assurance that He is good and His faithfulness never ends.

 

In that restless space,Confidence Comes Through Christ

when we hit the wall;

we can’t move forward,

on Him, let us call.

Ever so often,

that‘s the very place;

where He intended,

that we seek His face.

It’s in the seeking,

that we come to find;

His help and His hope,

He’s patient and kind.

Often the forced pause,

that space where we rest;

a season to find,

what‘s coming is best.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are present and moving, even when it seems that we have hit a wall or come to a place of helplessness where we can do nothing more. Thank You that this is the very space where You bring us to rest in You. Thank You that You showed us that things were still and silent, and the world had to wait for the promise to be fulfilled, just as You had said it would be. Thank You for the difference that the next day brought. Forgive us for resisting rest when it seems to be required, or for not making time to sit quietly before You to fix our eyes on You and all that You have done. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You in all things and at all times, regardless of how things appear. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too may look to You in the quiet stillness where rest is found. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You on our Sabbaths, and trust You in our spaces of waiting. 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

Thankful for Love that Endures

With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; His love to Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. – (Ezra 3:11)

The people during David’s time, had seen the destruction of the former glory of the temple that Solomon had built. Some, had never even known anything except the rubble of the ruins that remained. Finally, fifty years after the destruction, the foundation of a new temple of the Lord had been laid. I imagine there was such power in the recognition of the reality of the promise to rebuild, coming to pass before their very eyes. The people responded with praise and thanksgiving, as they identified His goodness and faithfulness for all time. God had been faithful in the destruction, and continued to remain faithful as they were in the space of rebuilding.

God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Lord is present with people in the midst of destruction, and remains present throughout the healing and rebuilding process. May our hearts, though at times are heavy from all of the destruction that we see, be encouraged to sing praise and thanks to God because He is good and His love and faithfulness to people remains for all time. Be our foundation, O God, no matter what we see.

Praise and thanksgiving,

Vandy Massey Watercolor

Vandy Massey Watercolor

sing unto the Lord;

for He is so good,

all grace He affords.

When all seems but lost,

in Him we are found;

the Lord shall restore,

what was shaking ground.

With great shouts of praise,

give God the glory;

for He holds the pen,

to write our story.

Though storms enter in,

our course is assured;

when we trust in Christ,

we’ve strength to endure.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are good and Your love endures forever. Thank You for the foundation that You lay in the hearts of all who choose to trust in You. Forgive us for not giving proper praise and thanksgiving for who You are, despite what we witness around us. Father, we lift up all of those impacted by the tragedy in France, and ask that You would be their Comfort and their Healer, as they find themselves in a place of ruin, needing You to rebuild. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might extend thanks and praise unto You through all that we say and do. Lead us to love others so that they may come to know Your goodness and love. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we sing of Your goodness and enduring love with praise and thanksgiving. Amen.

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

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41

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 to Look Up

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. – (Psalm 121:1-2)

On this Patriot’s Day, as we remember the terrible tragedy that struck the safety of our own soil, we can also recall a time that our nation banded together as a united front, to help the hurting, care well for the courageous that continued to search for the missing, and sought the strength and security that our Savior alone provided. Our help to make sense of something so senseless, could only come as we chose to cling to Christ.

Time has passed, and the new generation of kids I have in my classroom were not even born yet when 9/11 occurred. Many of them, have no personal connection to the event, as they have not traveled beyond the West Coast, or for some, even outside of our state. They have never known life without scanners and security guards at government buildings and hospitals, nor do many have connections to fire fighters, law enforcement officers, or military personnel. History needs to be shared. Each generations ought to be made aware of what has gone before them, so they gain empathy and compassion for those who serve and protect our nation. Today, this verse is more personal, as I lift my eyes to the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth, and trust Him to lead and guide me; to show me how to create connections that are relevant and personal for seventh grade students, to an event that occurred prior to their existence. May we each take time to remember the lost, and the lives of those who continue to live with the holes in their hearts all of these years later. Be our help Lord.

Remember the time,911

when tragedy struck;

nation was silenced,

in shock we were stuck.

The world fell silent,

in horror, we watched;

such acts of terror,

and countless lives lost.

The chaos encased,

in great clouds of dust;

everywhere running,

which sense could they trust?

It did not take long,

for heroes to rise;

to search for missing,

help those still alive.

Even days after,

the tragedy fell;

people were praying,

holding hope as well.

Out of the ashes,

came beauty indeed;

people united,

to rise and meet needs.

Let us remember,

the community;

together triumphs,

with trust, unity.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we lift our eyes up to You, You are where our help comes from. Thank You that we can trust and depend on You, even on the darkest of days. Thank You that You bring beauty from ashes and hope from despair. Thank You that You alone, can turn tragedy into triumph. Forgive us for allowing tragedy, trials, grief, or our own lack of hope in what we cannot see to keep us from looking to You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would lift our eyes to You, no matter what comes our way – for You are our Help and our Hope, always. Lead us to love and encourage others, no matter what circumstance life has them in, and may many find their hope forever in You. Be glorified O God, as we look to You to be our Help and our Hope, always. Amen.

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

For the Lord your God will bless you, …and your joy will be complete. – Deuteronomy 16:15