Bound Together

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV)

Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he’s in trouble. Also, on a cold night, two under the same blanket gain warmth from each other, but how can one be warm alone? And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. – (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, TLB)

 

For years, this verse has been my hope and prayer, held in my heart, especially the last sentence about a cord of three strands being so strong. As my Viking and I prepared to wed, we did a bit of research about Nordic wedding traditions. Incredibly, we found that often, in Nordic weddings, there is a hand-tying portion of the ceremony where the bride and groom’s hands are bound together in a triple-braided cord to represent the two coming together and be bound to one another with God. The visual representation of this joining together very closely matched an image that has stuck with me for a very long time. Consequently, together with our Pastor, we incorporated this tradition into our wedding ceremony.

Already, as we drove home from Wenatchee yesterday, (where our wedding took place) this verse proved itself true for us. We came upon horrendous traffic, and the typical two-and-a-half hour drive turned into eight hours. On our own, either one of us would have been ready to tap out; however, with the support of one another and the grace of God, we successfully navigated our way home through the heat and traffic, unscathed and still speaking to one another.  The wonderful thing about the promise held in two being better than one, is that it perpetuates our charge to be engaged in the body. If we love God and love one another, we are not alone and have the strength of that three-strand cord. May we ever invest in our relationship with God and one another so that we may stand together in His strength, no matter what comes our way.

 

Our God has designed, wp-15323501515116858327490790099683.jpg

Us not be alone;

Binds us together,

In heart and in home.

Wherever two stand,

Their strength is greater;

As joined by the Lord,

Loving Creator.

Let two choose unite,

And in God abide;

For their strength shall stand,

With grace found inside.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You created us to be in relationship with You and with each other. Thank You that when two join together and invite You to be the center, You come and intertwine Your heart with ours and grant us strength. Forgive us for the times that we attempt to take on what lies before us on our own. Teach us to trust You and those whom You have given us to walk beside. Show us how to love each other in a way that joins hearts and minds in Your purpose to walk out Your plan. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we stand with You as a three-strand cord, bound in Your strength, hope and love. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth  (Moreno) Grabrick and Revelations in Writing,

May 2011 – present

 

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His Name together. – Psalm 34:3

Always…

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)

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)

 

My heart is full, and there is joy despite the sorrow of loss. After hearing more stories of the incredible life that my Gram led, I am even more convinced than I was before that she did exactly what we are called to do in the verses above. Her heart was lined with joy that poured out to all who had the blessing to be near. Gram prayed unwaveringly for each of us, and the words that left her lips were laced with gratitude. Even in the final few months of her life, when she was ill and in agony, she found joy in the nearness of family and friends, and would still love and live and laugh in spite of the pain. Though I will miss her terribly, the lilt of her laughter, the warmth of her smile, the kindness of her encouraging words – the essence of who she was in Christ, will forever live in my heart and mind until we again embrace in eternity. Her example is one that continues to challenge me to seek the Lord in all things. In all circumstances, I can find His joy and express gratitude for who He is, simply because I am loved well. May we never stop praying, as it is in our space of communing with Christ that we find joy and gratitude rises up within us.

 

Such fullness of joy,Always

Shall rise and find way;

When we seek the Lord,

In all things, choose pray.

No matter what comes,

Let thanks leave our lips;

For God who is love,

He strengthens, equips.

To pray and be full,

Of thanks and His joy;

God’s own will for us,

Through grace He’ll employ.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we seek You and pray to You, we always have reason to be thankful and full of joy. Thank You that this is Your will for us, as You have designed us to have Your joy dwelling within us all of our days. Forgive us for allowing our circumstances to steal our joy or to keep us from giving thanks for the good that exists in spite of the difficult. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would never stop praying and praising You. Thank You for the incredible example of my Grandmother, who prayed without ceasing and was overflowing with thankfulness and joy. Show us how to love others in a way that demonstrates our gratitude and allows the joy that You give to overflow and bless every life we are near. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are filled with Your joy, pray always, and give thanks in all things. 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

No Sweeter Season

When my eyes fluttered gently open to the light that still remained on from last night, I felt something I haven’t felt in quite a while – rested. I realized that I had laid down for a moment, still in my workout attire, just to warm up under the weight and warmth of my blankets. Fast forward eight hours and twenty-five minutes later, and the arrival of morning had come…

Many friends have asked what I intend to do with my summer, as yesterday was the final day of the school year. (I am a teacher.) I know there are some that have well-laid plans, and schedule each day with an itinerary and to-do list. For me, I think summer is meant to be a time of rest, refreshing and healing. My body is worn, and I am still trying to heal from a fracture in my low back. Sleep deprivation has been my normal for the past nine plus months, so actually sleeping until my body wakes will be novel.

As for writing, this is part of my daily practice. I wake. I make coffee and grab something to eat, and I sit down to pray, read the word, and then reflect. This is the routine in my day, as it sets my heart and mind for wherever the Lord leads. If I am running errands, I find I have patience and kindness to extend to others, regardless of what is going on around me. When adventure awaits, energy and enthusiasm overflow, and my guys join in for the journey.

Fitness too, is a part of my daily doings. When my body is active, my mind does not get hung up on the little things of life. It gives me reason to be grateful for health and His creation, and the ability to move and be active is something that I will never take for granted.

This morning’s scheduled reading was from John 11:17-37, and tells the story of Jesus going to Mary and Martha after Lazarus had died. Everyone was glad to see Jesus, but each questioned His timing, with the statement of faith that Lazarus would not have died had Jesus arrived sooner. There was sorrow and regret that seeped out from the family and friends of Lazarus to the Lord. He was compassionate, and as He cared for them, He cried. The story does not end there. In the last few verses of this part of the passage, Jesus asks, “Where have you put him?” One question that would change their world, in a very short span of time.

The connection? We may have hopes and expectations for how things will occur in a certain season, but as we wait on the Lord, we may feel disappointment or sorrow in what we see as delay or a no way, only to be blown away by what He will ultimately do. May this summer be a season of faithful movement as we anticipate and watch for the things that the Lord will do in us and through us, and we prioritize earnest pursuit of Him.

 

I looked to the Lord,Enter With Thanksgiving

And called on His Name;

No word went unheard,

To God of all grace.

Though I have set hopes,

And dreams for this time;

In Your faithfulness,

Please, Your will, not mine.

In each new season,

May I see Your grace;

No matter what comes,

Keep running Your race.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You do exceedingly more that we could hope or imagine in Your time. Thank You that Your faithfulness is not dependent on how we perceive things or how we feel. Forgive us for our lack of faith and fearfulness when things that we long for seem to have died. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would remember that You see beyond today, and Your timing and plan is always best. Show us how to love others with Your goodness and grace, so that they too may long to seek Your face. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue You and Your best for us in all things. 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

The Fountain of Life

“For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.” – (Psalm 36:9) Without Christ, we are stuck in our own sin and darkness, and death is the only doorway before us.  With Him, life and light flood our future with possibilities presented through His redemption.  God is the light of the world, and in Him there are no shadows.

The imagery presented by David in this particular Psalm, offers much comfort.  I imagine myself on a hot summer’s day, standing in the center of His fountain – where the water never runs out, and my form is flooded with the warmth of His light.  Love surrounds as His hope saturates.  His promise of a hope and a future, are present for all who come and call on His Name.

For You are the Source,The Fountain of Life

from which all life flows;

the Light of the world,

the peace my heart knows.

May those trapped in sin,

come to find release;

as they seek Your face,

grant Your lasting peace.

Bring comfort and grace,

to all those in need;

let light flood darkness,

O Father, Godspeed.

May all that we do,

each word that we say;

offer light and life,

show people Your way.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the fountain of life.  Thank You that in Your light, we see and understand light.  Thank You that You are loving and kind, patient and full of grace.  Thank You that You surround and saturate us with mercy and unfailing love.  Forgive us for being blinded by our own sinfulness, and for running from the rains of Your fountain that washes us clean.  Teach us to trust You more, so that we are quick to come to You in all things and at all times.  May we embrace the mercy and grace that You freely give, and in turn, extend the same to all whom we encounter.  Let us love You and those around us, as You love us.  May we shine Your light and life into the world.  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

A song that came to mind – Let it Rain, by Jesus Culture(Click the link to have a listen.)

Better is One Day

Better is One DayFor greater a day,

spent in the Lord’s house;

than a multitude,

elsewhere to espouse.

To draw near the place,

where Holiness dwells;

bask in His great Light,

all fears to dispel.

He’s both sun and shield,

all honor He brings;

as heavenly hosts,

surround Him and sing.

His favor is found,

no good is withheld;

for those who do walk,

upright and upheld.

To all who choose trust,

His blessings unfold;

our promise secure,

His hand we now hold.

Unto us bestowed,

His grace undeserved;

mercy He pours out,

on hearts that have heard.

Heard not with our ears,

but held in our heart;

all hope and promise,

in granted fresh start.

(Responding to Psalm 84:10-12)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the promised hope that is held in every heart that trusts in You. Thank You for making the way for us to one day dwell in Your courts with You forever. Thank You that for now, You make our heart Your home, when we choose to invite You in. Thank You that no matter what comes our way here, it is but a moment when compared to our promised forever with You. Forgive us for losing sight of the hope we hold in You when the world wages war, and grant us Your eyes to see that we are indeed, not home yet. Teach us to rest in You, as You bring peace in the peak of the storm, and light our every darkness with Your lavish love. Show us how to trust You more, and help us to walk upright before You. May our hearts be filled with songs of praise, not for what surrounds us, but for the hope we hold in You. Let us love as You love, and may many come to know the warmth and hope that from You flow. Let hearts be opened and lives be changed. All glory and honor to You, God – our hiding place and holy hope. Amen.

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

Source of Strength

Our Source of great strength,

image by floridawaters.com

image by floridawaters.com

at each day’s new dawn.

Our faithful supply,

when our strength is gone.

By looking to Him,

all else fades away.

Removed are the doubts,

now gone are the chains.

As we seek His face,

we will always find,

we are His children,

heart, strength, soul and mind.

Our Giver of life,

the Granter of grace,

Supplier of hope,

warmth in His embrace.

Extend out your arms,

let His love light in.

Be washed in His words,

refreshed once again.

Psalm 105:4 – “Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You made the way for us to freely come before You, so that we might seek You and find You as we seek You with all of our heart.  Thank You that You supply the strength, hope, faith, and courage that is needed as we need it most.  Forgive us for making You less than You are, and help us to remember that You, the God of all creation, are far greater than anything that might stand before us or our loved ones.  Thank You for the healing and restoration You are doing in so many, and please give us Your grace and endurance as we wait expectantly for the fulfillment of Your healing work in others.  May our unwavering faith and trust in You turn hearts toward the truth, so that many more might also come to call You King.  Amen.

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

Barren Branches Heavenward

On afternoon drive home,

image by Barbolian Fields

image by Barbolian Fields

my weary eyes did see,

bright sunlight through branches

of giant barren tree.

Though it was stripped naked,

no bright leaves to adorn.

Every branch reaching up,

true beauty in its form.

It needed not color,

nor covering of snow;

but by reaching upward,

it held promise to grow.

That beautiful image,

my reminder from Him.

There’s power and purpose,

in each season we’re in.

When our leaves fall away,

and before Him we’re bare,

we at last grant access

for Him to offer care.

He’ll bind up the broken,

and trim away what’s dead.

Renew and restore us,

provide our daily bread.

As we raise our hands high,

and too, bask in the Son.

He’ll finish what’s been started,

all battles will be won.

So raise up your branches,

allow the Son to shine.

Receive what He offers,

as He’s calling you “Mine.”

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

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that there is beauty in every season of our lives – that without the darkness, we would recognize not, nor truly appreciate the power and warmth of Your light.  Thank You that despite what we see or feel, You remain present.  Thank You that it is often through the times that we are stripped bare, that we become the most beautiful in Your eyes, as our arms have no choice but to extend heavenward.  Forgive us for not always recognizing the remarkable in the regular, and help us to see Your purpose for our every time of trial and testing that we walk through.  May we trust in You completely and be bold, knowing that You will be ever beside us as we go where You ask.  Lead us Lord, and may we follow well.  May many come to know You as we walk where You call.  Amen.

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