In Strength, She Smiles

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. – (Proverbs 31:25, NLT)

She is a strong person, and people respect her. She looks to the future with confidence. – (Proverbs 31:25, ERV)

Clothed in strength and dignity, with nothing to fear, she smiles when she thinks about the future. – (Proverbs 31:25, VOICE)

 

Strong people strengthen people. I have been overwhelmingly blessed throughout my life to be surrounded by strong and loving women who have modeled strength, dignity and courage through active faith in their daily lives, no matter what their circumstances. From my phenomenal mom and her mom, to aunts, dear friends, pastors and colleagues, I have seen such lives lived out, and have been encouraged when my own strength, courage or confidence was lacking. Though there is no “arriving”, I am in a space where I look forward to the future with confidence, trusting that God has good things in store for me and my loved ones. I know that trials will come and go, yet He is faithful through all things, so I need not fear what lies ahead. May we ever seek the Lord to be our strength and confidence, so that we can look to the future and smile.

 

He’ll clothe us in strength,

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Photo by Dee Jones of Open Door Photography ❤

And His dignity;

As we trust in Him,

In faith, choose believe.

We’ll laugh without fear,

At what lies ahead;

Knowing God’s with us,

By grace, we’ll be led.

Others will respect,

The strength that they see;

As we walk beside,

And help those in need.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You clothe us with strength and dignity and give us reason to look confidently to the future. Thank You for the women that You have placed in our lives that have supported and modeled these attributes for us and in us. Forgive us for the times that we have remained in our fearfulness or attempted to navigate things on our own. Teach us to trust You more, and to embrace those whom You have intentionally placed in our lives for mutual encouragement. Show us how to love those around us in a way that grows strength and dignity and removes fear of the future. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we embrace the strength and dignity that You are growing in us and look forward to the future without fear. 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

A Final Act of Love

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. The men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” – (Luke 24:1-5, NLT) 

 

Though Jesus had told those who followed Him that He would rise again, I imagine it was still difficult to conceive, as the very idea was a seeming impossibility. As I attempt to place myself in the position of one of the women who went to the tomb that morning, I picture women overwhelmed with grief as they walked toward the resting place of their Redeemer. This Savior whom they loved, was now three days in the grave, and they were prepared to interact with His broken body as a final act of love and a way to say goodbye. The tomb had been sealed by a giant boulder, immovable, even by a malicious act of will. Imagine the shock that flooded their hearts and minds as they approached the tomb when they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Fear? Anger? Concern? What could have happened to the body of their beloved? Then, as they stood there puzzling over what was missing, two men in dazzling robes appeared out of nowhere. Clearly the women recognized that the men were messengers from God, as they bowed their faces to the ground in terror. From sorrow to confusion to frustration to fear, these ladies must have been flooded as heaven came near. And then, after all of that, to hear that Jesus was alive… The women navigated the roller coaster quite gracefully, as the very next thing they did was go and tell the disciples what they had seen and heard.  

This is the very day that we celebrate and remember the miracle of the resurrection. The grave could not hold Him, and He is alive and moving on our behalf. May we remember our Risen Savior as we go about this day and know that His sacrifice saved us while His resurrection reminds us that we are no longer dead in sin.  

 

Early Sunday morn, Hope in an Empty Tomb

They went to the tomb; 

Grieving act of love, 

No hope yet assumed. 

Imagine their hearts, 

With Jesus not there; 

Distraught and confused, 

The Lord is gone. Where? 

Angelic visit, 

In dazzling light; 

The women bowed low, 

Faced the ground in fright. 

The men then asked them, 

“Why did you come here? 

Don’t look among dead, 

For live to appear.” 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible gift of Your Son, Jesus. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross for all of our sin and shame. Thank You that the grave could not hold You, and that You rose again and are seated at the right hand of the Father, moving on our behalf. Thank You that in You we can have life and light and love forever. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your sacrifice and the glory of Your resurrection. Help us to grasp the enormity of Your mercy and grace. Show us how to extend love and goodness to those around us as an outpouring of our gratitude to You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rise and give You glory for Your love that defeated death and gives life to all who receive You as Lord. 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

Lifelong Learner

Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insight. – (Proverbs 18:15, MSG)

Clever people go after knowledge to obtain it, and wise people attune their ears to hear it. – (Proverbs 18:15, VOICE)

An understanding mind gains knowledge; the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. – (Proverbs 18:15, CEB)

 

Wisdom is something gained by those who actively seek to know and understand. No one ever “arrives“, rather it is a lifelong process in the pursuit of learning, as there is always more to know and understand. God honors the asking, and continues to reveal more and more of who He is and how He loves as we are willing to draw near and pursue more of Him. Though I know nearly nothing, I understand far more now, than when I first began. The wisest women I have ever known, spent a lifetime learning and growing with God. My grandmother was ever listening for fresh insight, and did not discount what anyone had to say. She would listen through her filter of faith, and have wise and insightful things to reply. People were a priority, and she had a passion for travel, as I believe it created even more opportunity for her to discover deeper understanding of who God is, and all that He has made. As I continue to prepare for my departure for Belize on Saturday evening, my heart holds fast to this truth – to gain wisdom, I must be listening for fresh insight, ever attuning my ears to hear what the Lord has for me to learn. May we each go forth with a heart to grow in understanding and insight, so that we may walk in His wisdom and the light of His truth.

 

Wise are the learned, Purposeful Prayer

For they seek to grow;

Ever they listen,

For what they’re to know.

God’s ever faithful,

To reveal His heart;

He grants new insight,

Wisdom He imparts.

Seekers of knowledge,

Are those who shall gain;

True understanding,

As His path’s made plain.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that wisdom comes from seeking understanding from You. Thank You that as we continue to learn and grow, ever listening for new insight, You increase what we can comprehend. Forgive us for not seeking fresh insight, or not listening for Your voice when we most need to hear You. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would always be looking to listen and learn, so that we live a growth-minded lifestyle. Show us how to love those around us in a way that helps them feel heard and understood. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we are ever pursuing new knowledge and insight, with open ears and hearts to all that You have for us to learn. 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

 

Don’t Settle for Crumbs

Yesterday evening was the second week of the book study I am participating in with the women of my church as we read through the book, Without Rival, by  Lisa Bevere. My personal take away from the text this week is to not “settle for crumbs” because God is calling us to feed on His faithfulness. Though sermons, podcasts, books, quotes, posts on Facebook and various other sources of uplifting material are good, they are merely crumbs compared to our seeking and finding the presence of God for ourselves.

 

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see; eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of His Divine Being. – (Romans 1:19-20, MSG)

 

In other words, God is not difficult to find if we seek Him. It is merely a matter of opening our eyes to the world around us, as His handiwork is evident everywhere. He is faithful to meet us as we seek Him, so there is no reason not to pursue His presence for ourselves. There is abundantly, exponentially more waiting for us as we choose seek Him on our own. He longs to show us more and more of who He is and how He loves, if only we are willing to pursue His presence. May we each allow the “crumbs” to be a trail that take us into the fantastic feast of our Heavenly Father’s presence, as He is ever waiting for us to draw near, so that we might come to know Him more.

 

Settle not for crumbs,Twin Falls, on the way to Hana.

But come forth to feast;

For there is much more,

That God will release.

As we choose to come,

He shows us the more;

A love far greater,

Than we knew before.

Each time we draw near,

He’s faithful to show;

His grace and His love,

Truth we come to know.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You have so much more for us than crumbs or leftovers. Thank You that You draw us unto Yourself to experience more of You, personally. Thank You for sending Your Son to make the way for us to know You intimately and individually. Forgive us Jesus, for not seeking You for ourselves, or for settling for less than You have for us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You individually and personally, as You have so much more for us all. Show us how to love those around us in a way that points to Your goodness and faithfulness. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we pursue Your presence for ourselves, and feed on the faithfulness that is found in You forever. Amen.

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

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

Live Life

We had a worship night for women last night at my church. Our women’s pastor brought a simple, yet profound word, as she conveyed real examples from her own life to share what the Lord had placed upon her heart for us. The following is what I gleaned from our time together.

Fear and obstacles that stand before us, are the two greatest factors that hold us back from the fullness of all that God has for us. Typically, we are held back in one of two ways. We either refuse to even get out of the boat, despite seeing Jesus walking toward us upon the water through the wind and waves, or we get out of the boat, begin walking, and then suddenly see the wind and waves surrounding us and begin to sink. Either way, we miss out on the miracles our Maker has for us, as we are called to weather the storms, not simply wait for them to pass.

 

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. – (James 1:2, NLT)

 

As we continue to keep walking toward our Savior, despite the wind and the waves – our fears and the obstacles before us – we allow Him opportunity to move mightily in us and through us, and discover joys we would have never known on the journey, because of His great faithfulness to us.

So how the heck do we do this? The words Pastor Wendy heard were simple, yet so significant. Live Life. Live. Continue pressing in and pressing on, in spite of the fears and the obstacles. Do not limit the Lord, nor make Him too small. He can do exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine, and the joy that awaits us is unfathomable. Our charge is to be available and to move forward in all that He calls us into. We are not meant to be stuck in the boat in fear, nor sinking in the waves as terror overtakes us. May we look to the Lord and consider all trials opportunities for His joy, as He will do abundantly more in us and through us as we choose to keep pressing forward.

 

We must make the choice,

To embrace with joy;

All that comes our way,

Choose faith to employ.

From inside the boat,

We never will know;

How great His power,

Nor give room to grow.

Despite what we face,

The waves and the wind;

The Lord is right there,

To lift us again.

He walks right beside,

Each step of our way;

Provides what we need,

Enough for each day.

The challenging part,

Is we’ll never know;

All that lies ahead,

If we will not go.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You take our fears and trials and use them as opportunities to grow us and give us greater joy as You demonstrate Your love and care for us as we choose to keep walking forward in spite of what lies before us. Forgive us for allowing fears or obstacles to paralyze us where we are, and keep us from allowing You access to all. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would consider even the trials opportunities for great joy, as You give grace and strength that we have not known before. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they see You through us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we recognize trials and obstacles as opportunities for great joy because of who You are. Amen.

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

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. – Galatians 5:25

 

To Be Like Mom

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. – (Colossians 4:6, NLT)

When you talk, you should always be kind and wise. Then you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should. – (Colossians 4:6, ERV)

 

Both my mom and her mom before her, are living examples of this verse in action. My grandmother is wise and kind, and her grace and love is apparent with all whom she shares conversation. People are drawn to her, and they seek her out for answers and affirmation. Her daughter, my own mother, has learned well from her. She too, is the sort of person who draws others in with her kindness and grace, and she speaks from a heart that seeks God’s wisdom, rather than her own. I know that not all are so blessed to either still have their mothers present on earth, or to have been given a mom whose heart was after God’s. The remarkable thing about the Lord is that He takes our places of lack, and fills them. Who are the wise and kind women that have been placed your life to help guide you and model what it is to be the sort of person to which the Lord has called? He shows us how we are to seek Him, find Him and know Him, so that we too, may be gracious and kind – responding in the way that is right. Let every word that leaves our lips be kind and full of wisdom granted by the Lord. May we answer all according to His will, and not our own.

 

Let conversations,photo

Be full of God’s grace;

So others may choose,

To seek the Lord’s face.

For when we respond,

In love and we’re kind;

People see Jesus,

True hope, theirs to find.

Just as sweet mothers,

Have loved us so well;

May we do likewise,

Let truth our hearts tell.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the precious gift of mothers, grandmothers, and godly women that You have placed upon our paths to love and care for us well. Thank You that these gifts have modeled what it means to speak with kindness and wisdom, so that we may answer everyone in the way in which You intended. Forgive us for not slowing down to seek You before responding, or for speaking out of anger or frustration rather than out of the grace and love that You give in abundance to us. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would depend on You to lead and guide our every conversation so that our words would be those that honor You. Show us how to love others as You love each of us through our conversations and words that we choose to use. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we allow You to lead our conversations and fill our words with wisdom and kindness toward all others. Amen.

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

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ. – Ephesians 2:4-5

He is Risen

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. – (Luke 24:1-3,  NLT)
The very same women who had stood at the foot of the cross in horror on Friday, then set to task making burial spices that night, were stuck staying in their space of sorrow on the Sabbath, and now, at last on Sunday, as they thought that they could go and anoint the body of their beloved Savior – discovered He was no longer in the grave! Panic gave way to praise as the angels of the Lord explained to the women what had happened and why Jesus was no longer lying in the tomb. Recalling the truth that they had been told by Jesus before His death on the cross, the ladies rushed back to tell the other believers what they had discovered. As we awaken to the truth that today holds, may we feel the same sense of urgency to go and let the truth be made known.

 

A matter of days,Hope in an Empty Tomb

and everything changed;

a sorrowful space,

now all rearranged.

Where death had seemed reign,

the truth became clear;

hell was defeated,

through Christ coming near.

He took on the cross,

all our sin and shame;

laid it in the grave,

set free by His pain.

It did not end there,

on Sunday He rose;

up out of the grave,

so His grace, we’d know.

Jesus has risen,

and we are set free;

forgiven and loved,

all praise unto Thee.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You sent Your Son to make the way for us to have a restored relationship with You. Thank You Jesus, for taking all of our sin and shame upon Yourself, so that we might have life everlasting. Thank You that it did not end at the cross, for the grave could not hold You, as Your love is too great for us, Your created. Forgive us for not recognizing the magnitude of Your love and sacrifice that is given freely unto us. Teach us to embrace all that You give, so that we might have life abundant in You. Show us how to love others in such a way, that they too, may come to understand the greatness of Your mercy and grace that You freely give. May many choose to place all of their trust in You. Be exalted O God, as we give all glory and honor to You. Amen.

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

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

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

The Reality of Rest

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. – (Psalm 62:1)

Rest is a remarkable thing.  Our soul craves it, yet rest does not always come from idleness; sometimes it comes from contact with others – from being surrounded by others who are like-minded in their pursuit of God.  This weekend has been all about connecting with other women, sisters, from my church, as we are on retreat.  Though I have not physically rested much, nor slept anymore than usual, my soul feels rested and new life is being birthed within me again.  Places that were weary and worn, are being restored, as God has used others to speak His truth into my life.  Likewise, He is further equipping and preparing each of us, to go out and do the same for others.  May we each find rest for our soul through our precious Savior, as our salvation comes from Him alone.

Find rest, O my soul,Hearts of Thanks

in the Lord alone;

for there is none like,

Him who makes heart home.

Our sweet salvation,

is promised in Him;

if our heart’s open,

inviting Him in.

For our weary souls,

there is rest to find;

as sisters gather,

with purpose in mind.

With hearts for the Lord,

and for each other;

refreshment is found,

thanks to our Father.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that our souls find rest in You.  Thank You that You made the way for salvation for all who place their trust in You.  Thank You that when we are weary and in need of rest, You alone, know what that rest should look like for us, individually.  Thank You for the sweet blessing of community in the body of Christ.  Thank You that You have created us for relationships.  Forgive us for the times that we are weary and we isolate ourselves, rather than seeking You and one another.  Teach us to trust You more, as You alone are the One who brings refreshment to the weariest of souls.  Lead us to love and refresh those around us, so that they too, may come to know the salvation that is found in You alone.  May many choose to give their lives to You.  Be glorified O God, as we find rest in You, our Savior and King.  Amen.

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

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. – Psalm 34:8

To Be Undaunted

Yesterday evening was day one of a book study that I am a part of with some wonderful women from my church. The book we will be studying is Undaunted, by Christine Caine. One of the stand out points of our time together last night, was the reality of what happens in a single moment of potentially life changing news. Though everything in our life externally may change, our fundamental identity remains the same. Our salvation, strength, security, purpose, character, worth and value in Christ, cannot be shaken if we are rooted and established in Him.

 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angel nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – (Romans 8:37-39)

 

When life finds a way,Undaunted

of spinning around;

what once seemed secure,

no more steady ground –

where will peace be found?

When rooted in Christ,

identity sure;

no storm can undo,

the hope that’s secure –

and Christ’s presence near.

Who He has made us,

shall remain unchanged;

though battered and scarred,

His peace shall sustain –

and purpose remain.

The love of the Lord,

steadfast and secure;

there’s no height nor depth,

nor trying detour –

Christ’s love is assured.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though our circumstances may change, You never change. Thank You that in You, we have security, strength, assurance, purpose, worth, salvation, hope, and so much more. Thank You that the foundation we have in You cannot be shaken by our circumstances. Forgive us for wasting time and energy on worry, and help us to trust You in all things and at all times. Lead us to love others in such a way, that they would see You through us. May many come into a saving relationship with You. Be exalted O God, as we stand secure in You, no matter what comes our way. 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