Joy Unconstrained

So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. – (Luke 2:16-20, NIV) 

So, they went running and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the feeding box. When they saw the baby, they told what the angels said about this child. Everyone was surprised when they heard what the shepherds told them. Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. The shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking Him for everything they had seen and heard. It was just as the angel had told them. – (Luke 2:16-20, ERV) 

 

After having been visited first by a messenger of God, then bearing witness to an army of heavenly hosts singing praise for the birth of Christ, which the angel of the Lord had announced to them, the shepherds went running to find the One whom the heavens had proclaimed. When they found Jesus lying in a manger, just as the angel had foretold, they were amazed and in awe at how what had been spoken was right there, before their very eyes. Their response was that which it ought to be, as when we receive such incredible news and then observe it coming to pass, we cannot help but share with others, the good that has come. I can only imagine these shepherds leaving the stable and telling anyone and everyone who would listen, the joy of what they had witnessed. The shepherds were likely the sort that kept to themselves, as sheep tending was not the most glamorous of positions. For these men to be so impacted by what they had seen and heard that they ignored their typical itinerary and spoke out, left the hearers surprised and in awe. Meanwhile, Mary took in everything that was spoken and all that she bore witness to, and treasured them in her heart. This young woman had much to take in and ponder, as she had been visited by an angel, spared the shame and potential death for her condition, traveled more than 80 miles to Bethlehem, given birth in a stable, and now was being seen by shepherds who had been visited by the heavenly hosts to tell of this sweet Savior’s birth. All of these things unfolded just as they had been foretold, and the shepherds returned to their fields, forever changed. Songs of praise flowed from them, for they understood the magnitude of the miracle that was lying in a manger. May we remember in awe and wonder, all that took place that night. For unto us, a Savior was born. The Light of the world had come. 

 

Most holy of nights, A Christmas Prayer

The angels proclaimed; 

A Savior is born, 

Such joy unconstrained. 

Shepherds went running, 

To see with their eyes; 

This glorious news, 

In a manger, lies. 

Imagine their joy, 

The blessing to see; 

Just as they’d been told, 

Christ born unto thee. 

Their hearts were bursting, 

At what they had found; 

This scene they beheld, 

The promise was sound. 

Mary, she treasured, 

All that came to be; 

Her precious infant, 

Was Christ, most holy. 

May we too, ponder, 

In wonder and awe; 

Precious unfolding, 

Of all that they saw. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that what You say, You will do. Thank You for the incredible way in which Jesus came into the world. Thank You that You sent Your heavenly hosts to ordinary people in an extraordinary way. Thank You that because Jesus came as a baby, He lived and knew, experienced and grew, in the same way that each of us do as we navigate in our own lives. Forgive us for not recognizing in awe and wonder, the incredible way in which You sent heaven to earth, so we could experience rebirth. Teach us to trust in Your promises and to stand in awe as we witness them come to pass. Show us how to love those around us in ways that show of Your faithfulness and grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate Your arrival and behold Your promises that have come to pass. Amen. 

 

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

 

With all my heart I will praise You, O Lord my God. I will give glory to Your Name forever. – Psalm 86:12

 

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

Kindness to Cope

Now let Your unfailing love comfort me, just as You promised me, Your servant. – (Psalm 119:76, NLT)

Now comfort me with Your faithful love, as You promised. – (Psalm 119:76, ERV)

Send Your kind mercy-kiss to comfort me, Your servant, just like You promised You would. – (Psalm 119:76, TPT)

 

Can I be really raw and real right now? Though I know this is true and I trust Him, I am struggling in my current circumstance. Yesterday, I went to what I thought would be a fairly routine check back for my fractured fibula, but as the appointment unfolded, the orthopedist had some concerns about the swelling that was still present in my lower leg. She sent me to ultrasound to have imaging done to be certain there were no blood clots, as occasionally a clot could cause swelling such as mine. As it turned out, her suspicion was confirmed, and I do indeed have a blood clot in my calf. I was promptly whisked from one doctor to the next to the next, until I ultimately ended up in the ER for bloodwork so that they could start me on blood thinners immediately. Now, here is the space of struggle… I know that God, in His great love for me, gave the doctor the wisdom to check for a blood clot. Additionally, each next door I was meant to walk through to work toward solutions, opened rapidly. The difficulty that I am having in all of this is the loss of my mobility due to the fracture, and now knowing that I will be on blood thinners for a season and not allowed to partake in contact sports.  After having trained with my football team since the fall, I am deeply disappointed. Likely, my difficulty sleeping at night is further fueling my frustration. At the end of the day, I know God is good and that He will meet me and comfort me, as His presence is promised forever. May we ever be open to receive the comfort conveyed by our Creator, and trust that His promises are always true.

 

With unfailing love, peace in presence

The Lord, He is near;

To be our comfort,

As each cry He hears.

His presence promised,

His faithful love, true;

Provides what’s needed,

As He walks us through.

Let mercy surround,

In our fear and doubt;

By Your love, lead us,

Your path You’ve laid out.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that Your unfailing love is present to comfort us, just as You promised. Forgive me for allowing my frustration to compete with my gratitude in the good that You do and how You make Your mercy known. Teach me to trust You more, so that I would lay hold of Your unfailing love and find comfort in Your promised presence forever. Show me how to love those around me with love that comforts and remains present through difficulties. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You praise for Your unfailing love and trust in Your promises that we know are true. Amen.

 

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

 

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

To See God

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is in the closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known. – (John 1:18, NIV)

No one has ever seen God. God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known. – (John 1:18, CEB)

No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor except the uniquely beloved Son, who is cherished by the Father and held close to His heart. Now He has unfolded to us the full explanation of who God truly is! – (John 1:18, TPT)

 

Without Jesus, it is impossible to truly understand God. Jesus came to us in a way that human eyes could see, ears could hear and our hearts could understand. He walked among us so that we could come to know the loving heart of the Father. Each time that Jesus touched the untouchable, healed the hurting and loved the difficult to love, He demonstrated who God is, and showed us God’s heart for His created. When He ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of the Father, He sent His Spirit to dwell within the hearts of everyone who chooses to receive and believe. Today, we gain glimpses of God through the hearts of people who demonstrate His love as He loved. When we are hurting and receive an encouraging word that holds our heart and lifts our spirit, it is glance at the goodness of God being made tangible. May we ever keep our eyes open and our hearts tender, to hear and share His heart with those around us.

 

The greatness of God, The Hope of the World

Far too much to grasp;

As we seek His Son,

He reveals as asked.

Though no eye has seen,

Yet, Jesus’ made known;

The fullness of God,

By grace, we’ve been shown.

And still we can see,

Glimpses of the Lord;

As we look to Him,

His love is outpoured.

Let us choose to seek,

So we come to know;

The greatness of God,

Wherever we go.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we have not seen You, we can know You through the life of Your Son. Thank You that You sent Your Spirit to dwell within us, so that we can see glimpses of You in others, and show Your heart to those around us as we love. Forgive us for not opening our eyes and hearts to the evidence of You that is all around us. Teach us to have eyes to see and hearts to understand, so that we will grow in our understanding of who You are and how You love. Show us how to love those around us with the same goodness and grace that You give to us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we open our eyes and hearts to see and take in Your splendor that is all around us. Amen.

 

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

 

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Psalm 23:6

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

Our Refuge and Shield

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word. – (Psalm 119:114, NIV)
Whenever I walk into something new, I have to spend a bit of time as an observer. Last evening’s arrival at camp was no exception. Initially, I felt as if I had been set in a sea of extroverts, a bit fearful of how I was to stay afloat; as I am far more reserved than many. As the evening unfolded, I remembered why I am here. It is not about me and my comfort, it is about loving and growing kids well. God is my refuge and my shield, and I need only look out the back door of my dwelling for the week to be reminded of Who provides my hope and my strength, and daily I seek the truth through His word. He is good, and I cannot wait to see how the week unfolds. Time off the grid in His creation, focused on His presence, is a gift. May I embrace it well. 
Our refuge and shield, 

 The Lord, He is good;

All hope we can place,

In Him, understood. 

The truth of His word,

Shall lead and shall guide;

The way we’re to go,

On Him, choose rely. 

All peace and all grace,

Come from Him alone;

May we choose to trust,

Let His hope be known. 


Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our refuge and our shield. Thank You that we can place our hope in Your word. Forgive us for failing to do so, as we allow our own fears and insecurities to get in the way. Make us fearless for You. Show us how to love others in such a way, that our lives would point their hearts to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our refuge and shield, and place our hope in Your word. Amen. 
Taste and see that The Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

I Will Go

When God shows Himself faithful, how do we respond?

 

In the story of Isaac and Rebekah, when Abraham sent his servant to the land of his father’s family to find a bride for his son, God clearly answered the faithful prayers of those who called on His Name, and made the path clear. Abraham’s servant prayed for a specific scenario upon his arrival, so that he might know whom God had chosen. When the servant stood beside the spring of water with his camels, Rebekah did just as he had prayed that God’s chosen one would do, as she offered water to both he and his camels. From there, the servant returned with she and her brother to her household, where he shared with the family his purpose for being in town, and asked to take Rebekah back to Isaac to be his bride. The mother wanted to delay, but Abraham’s servant let them know that he really must return to his master quickly. So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said. – (Genesis 24:58)

 

I find Rebekah’s faith remarkable. She was barely more than a girl, yet her faith was certain, as she was willing to leave all that she knew to travel to a far away land and become the bride of a man that she did not know. Rebekah understood all that the Lord had done to orchestrate her being chosen to be the one to bring water to a stranger and his camels at just the right time, in response to one man’s faithfully prayed prayers for direction. All around us, God orchestrates encounters. We are presented opportunities to share His goodness with those who may not yet know Him. At times, He calls us to go into places unknown. When He calls us, how will we respond?

 

Journey of promise,I Will Go

into the unknown;

faithful the prayers,

of one servant sown.

Certain to answer,

the Lord, He made clear;

the one He’d chosen,

as she had drawn near.

The scene unfolded,

just as he had prayed;

and she responded,

without a delay.

May we learn to do,

as Rebekah did;

and say, “I will go,”

for that’s where God is.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the countless examples of both Your faithfulness, and those who were obedient to what You asked of them. Thank You that You still speak today. Thank You that we have the benefit of Your Holy Spirit, dwelling within us to lead and guide us, every step of the way. Forgive us for our fears and hesitation to go where You call. Teach us to trust You more, so that we might be fearless in Your strength. Lead us to love and serve as Jesus modeled for us. May many come to know the eternal hope that is held in You alone. Be glorified Lord God, as we choose to say, “I will go.” 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