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Heavenly Father,

I don’t think I can take any more! You just keep pouring blessings upon me. Just when I think there’s no room for any more, another one is lavished upon me. There is no way to thank You for them all, but I have to try or I’ll burst!

I am so incredibly proud and thankful for our ever-growing family! Our youngest son and his beautiful wife have begun their awesome adventure of fostering to adopt. These two are following God’s lead in providing love and stability to children whose world has been unstable. From having no children at all, they went to having three little siblings all at one time. (Talk about parenthood shock!) Ever since they started the process of getting approved for this challenge (way before there were any children) I began praying that our huge family would accept whichever children You sent into our family and it has happened far better than I could have imagined! There has been a huge outpouring of emotional, material and mental support for these first time parents who are discovering that children consume your life. The children have already joined in on family outings, cousin time, a zoo trip and our huge Thanksgiving get-together and it is very good! I have been brought to tears more than once by family members who pour out love so easily!

We have another beautiful new granddaughter (not-quite a month old who seemed to be born almost half-grown) who has the lovely gift of staring deep into your eyes and soul for what seems like hours…My 85 year-old mom who leads our family in prayer…our lovely daughter and fiancé who will be married in May…I have a loving husband who cooks and cleans alongside me as we host a meal for about fifty…grown children (and even a few grandchildren) who step in to help cook and clean…grandchildren who are feeling their way into adulthood and those who still crawl up in our lap…grandkids who love spending time with us…grown children who help with my book-writing…a church that allows our huge family to have our get-together in our dining area and gym…a church family whom we love more than we could ever express… a brother and sis who were able to come home from mission in Trinidad/Tabago during Thanksgiving…family that had to miss due to illness, a broken arm, traveling, tire issues, or just plain being a hermit (they know who they are!)…another brother and sis who have spent their lives offering encouragement, jobs and support to everyone in our family…relatives-through-marriage who fit as easily into our family gatherings as their own…family and friends who were not at our gathering but are just as much a blessing to our lives (those who live next door and those who live up North or even down South!)

Father, I could keep on going and going about those I’m thankful for! You have lavished me with the gift of family far past what a once lonely little girl could dream of. And this is by far an incomplete list! We are all joined together as family through the love of Jesus Christ! And to think – my earthly family is but a taste of the Thanksgiving feast to come!

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“Sing to God, sing praise to His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds- His name is the Lord- and rejoice before Him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…”  Psalm 68:4-6

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”   1 Timothy 5:8

“I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.”  Ezekiel 34:26

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for…

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Heavenly Father,

One of the hardest things to do is give birth. That’s why having a great coach is critical.  Though I didn’t get to see the labor and delivery, I did get to witness the aftermath. Our newest granddaughter was just born into this world into the arms of some amazing parents. Mom gave birth naturally to a 10 lb 5 oz darling girl. By the time I saw the daddy, mommy and baby, they were all glowing! Mom was so proud she did it! She kept thanking her coach husband for his calm soothing “You can do this” attitude. During labor when she didn’t think she could take any more, he kept reminding her with words, touches and looks to relax and breathe. It was definitely teamwork between Coach and wife. Then came the winning celebration of a beautiful new baby to love!

I’ve been noticing a lot of great coaching lately…my youngest son and his wife just began their journey into foster parenting. They’ve been coached by other foster parents for this time. I have watched them coach their children-for-the-moment in the most amazing ways. There is no doubt You are using them and many other amazing foster parents to make a huge difference in children and families…I recently watched my sweet hyper 5 year old great grandson’s soccer game. His kind coaches patiently guided and encouraged him as he constantly stopped to wave at the bleachers and ran off to talk to family. They are making a difference in his life…I think of my parents, grandparents, first husband and present husband, aunts and uncles, church family, teachers, friends who all played a part coaching my life and I am incredibly grateful for their belief in me and encouragement.

Yet my greatest Coach has always been You, Lord! You have been coaching me from before I was born when I was still in my mother’s womb. You are always with me urging me on, believing in me, not giving up on me when I make mistakes or let You down. You are always there when the pain is too much to bear, when I face opposition, when I’m tired and weary, when I need to stop and rest, when I score a win, when I am injured and when I am at my  worst and my best. You are my Coach whispering encouragement, correction, and strength into my soul. How I love You, my Almighty Loving Coach! You will be with me all the way til I cross the finish line and beyond! Thank You!

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“O Lord, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in- behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”  Psalm 139:2-6

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”   Psalm 23:2-4

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”    Matthew 28:20b

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for these coaches in my life….

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Heavenly Father,

We are all waiting on a baby to be born. We have no idea if it will be a boy or a girl (The parents decided to be surprised at birth!) There is no way to know what kind of personality this new little person will have or what they will go through in their life. We have seen an ultrasound picture and can pick out a few family features on the face. Even though we haven’t held this newest grandbaby or gazed into its eyes, we already love this child. Of course, I haven’t carried it inside of me like my sweet daughter-in-law has or felt all its tossing, kicking and hiccups. There is no doubt we will all love this child more as we share more life with it. We love this child because it is part of our family. We look forward to knowing this child!

You, Lord, already know everything about this little person. You knew this baby before the parents even knew they were going to have a baby. You have been wonderfully knitting together the DNA from both parents into a one-of-a-kind person to bless this world. You know how all this baby’s history and genetics will work together to design the miracle of a never-before person. We can’t wait to discover what You’ve made!

At the same time, we are waiting and preparing for other children to join our family. Another son and daughter-in-law are about to foster to adopt. It has been an amazing journey to watch You lead them through this process. You already know exactly which children need to be in their care short term, and which ones will become their forever children. We have no idea whether they will have boys, girls, siblings or what ages they might be. Just as certainly as You are at work in the womb of our soon-to-be-born grandbaby, You are also at work in the lives of the children who will pass through our family…and the ones who will be adopted into our family forever. The ones who are fostered or adopted may not have the family DNA…but they have Your DNA, Lord. That makes them our family, too.  I love these children as I wait upon them in prayer, as well. How I love to watch You work in Your design of individuals, marriages and families.

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“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”    Jeremiah 1:5

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of the sand. When I awake I am still with You.”  Psalm 139:13-18

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”  2 Corinthians 6:18

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, above any family here on earth, You are my Father. Thank You for my family including…

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Heavenly Father,

Lots of photos are taken in the summer- at the pool, on vacation, at camp, during family get-togethers. These snap-shots may seem simple yet they are forever stored in our souls with eternal ramifications… little spontaneous moments where heaven and earth merge- when love reigns.  This past week, my house and my heart has been extra full (and my body and mind extra exhausted!). We’ve had lots of time with grandkids of all ages. I am reminded that these precious snippets of time can’t happen if we don’t take time to be around people we love. Not every second will seem eternal, but the ordinary moments that we sometimes least expect turn into forever memories that help shape our lives.

 

When You are involved, Lord, little moments become magnificent! Moments like: driving a van load of grandkids home after Vacation Bible School, the kids initiate and delve into a deep discussion on Jesus, heaven, angels and demons while I quietly drive and listen… a team of cousins dig a deep hole in our backyard trying to reach a beach or lava or China (whichever they hit first!)…with the most natural touch, an aunt who can swim way better than I can teaches her niece and nephew how to love the water…my granddaughter finally makes it to 6th grade at Vacation Bible School where I am her teacher,  and she gets to hear many testimonies of how You have worked in our family’s life…four grandchildren who have all gone through that 6th grade class and now help lead it plan the annual scavenger hunt without my help…everyone shares memories of the most important men in their lives…hands are held around the table while we all pray together…kids catching fireflies, roly-polies, and worms…sidewalk chalk art covering our front sidewalk welcoming  other cousins…sharing popcorn,  popsicles and ice cream…braiding each other’s hair and sleeping all over the living room…

In the midst of all those summer moments, forever memories are made, character is developed, family bonds are formed, and we all grow exhausted! Summer is not so structured and there are more chances for spontaneous moments together that deepen relationships. It may get messy, loud, tiring…but these moments are cherished. Things that seem so simple become the stories shared at many family get-togethers for years to come. Father, help me slow down and enjoy these special moments which will never happen again! Thank You for all eternity filled with priceless moments of love- no matter what the season!

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“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”     Deuteronomy 4:9

 

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”  Proverbs 17:6

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”   1 Corinthians 13:13

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me find love in every moment by….

moms

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chrissy

julia

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Jeremy and Sherry

 

Heavenly Father,

My granddaughter is a young mom of two little boys. She had a really bad day the other day. All moms do. Some days, mothers feel like they are never doing enough. Sometimes they feel guilty for almost no reason at all. There are times they feel inadequate thinking they are not very good at being a mom. What about those times your child acts out or throws a fit in front of all kinds of faces that seem to be thinking, “You should be doing this or not doing that!” How about those times when you seem to be telling your child to do something and it’s like your voice is simply background noise…then dad walks in and says one word and everyone shapes up! Being a mom means having your heart break because no one seems to understand your child’s special needs, or your child cries himself to sleep because of cruel comments of another kid or adult, yet more unbroken promises of another parent,  or deep wounds,  illness or poor choices  which  you can’t protect your child from.  Being a mom can be deeply painful.

Being a mom is also one of the most satisfying jobs there is: like when your toddler hugs you because you’re the most important love in their life, watching your child give their long-awaited allowance to a homeless man, watching your teen overcome a long-time fear, watching them grow and develop as the unique and miraculous person You created them to be. What a joy to watch how You, Lord, take everything that has ever happened in their life and blend it all together for good.  How rewarding to carry on adult conversations with this person who once couldn’t even talk and depended on you for food, shelter and protection.

My granddaughter might have had a challenging day, but someday she will barely recall the harsh trials and will only stand in awe at the men those little boys have become. She will be able to laugh at the hard memories and stand amazed that she played a part in who they have become. Father, today I pray for all the beautiful moms I know (the foster moms, adoptive moms, bio moms, grandmothers) who may be having a good or a bad day today. Lift them up, bless them, refresh them, and strengthen them so they can go on loving and encouraging their children. May they love whichever children You have placed before them with Your love…because You, Lord, not only created the heart of mothers; You have the heart of a mother. Let us love with Your love.

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“How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37b

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord, for his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”   1Samuel 1:27-28a

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands…”   Isaiah 49:15-16

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Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, You have loved me even more than the mother who carried me in her womb by…

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Heavenly Father,

People take one look at my mom and think she is a frail little woman. She recently fell and damaged her hip again. The ER doctors and nurses take a look at this fragile old lady and tend to talk to me instead of her. It doesn’t take much time for them to realize she is fully in charge of her own decisions and completely understands what’s going on. She is the strongest weakest person I know. She still works every day, tutors once a week, runs a 4-H club, teaches Sunday School… In fact, she was carrying plants outside her greenhouses when she tripped and fell backwards onto her hip that’s already been replaced once. The business was closed but my brother was on the property. She called him on her cell phone to casually ask if he could come take a look at something whenever he got a chance. She said there was no hurry (neglecting to mention that she had fallen and couldn’t get up!) He continued to work, finding her about 45 minutes later. She had pulled herself from the point of fall about 30 feet to try to pull up on some steps so she could see if she could stand (which she couldn’t!) That’s where he found her on the step…when he called an ambulance.

Although my mom is unable to move on her own at this point, she is far from helpless. She may need assistance moving but as long as she has her phone and her papers, she is working! She spent all day the past two days immovable in a chair making phone calls to her 4-Hers who were meeting about camp and record books. There was much to do! Then, of course, she had to call everyone to let them know their Bible study had been postponed for the night. She’s worried about being a burden to her children right now. We are concerned she will try to move herself again before it is time!

Father, it is a blessing and an honor to care for those who have traveled so boldly before us…those whose minds are still super sharp like my mom’s and for those who do not always comprehend what is going on. They have journeyed some hard roads, survived some rough trails, provided and cared for us. Now, it is our turn to care for them when they let us! Sometimes we have to be creative in helping them so it’s not too obvious.  Lord, show us how to care for the weak with Your love, treating them with respect and honor – the way we hope to be treated in our weakness. I can think of several dear friends who have been faithfully caring for their loved ones who couldn’t make it without their tender care. Give us Your eyes to see, grace to help and love to share with those who are weak in some way.

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“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble.” Psalm 41:1

“He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in His sight.” Psalm 72:13-14

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please Himself…” Romans 15:13a

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, who have You placed in my life that is weak and needs my loving help?

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Heavenly Father,

One month ago my son and daughter-in-law who live in Arkansas called to tell us they were expecting their third baby! I was overjoyed- just as they were. One week later, they called back to say it was a miscarriage. I grieved with them though long distance. It was hard because they had already told their two other children. The kids had each used fabric markers to make a tiny shirt for their new baby. My granddaughter had been hugging and patting her mom’s tummy. It seemed like all their hopes and dreams were gone. This family turned to You together to help them through their loss.

They came to visit us this last weekend. The kids brought the little memory books they had made about their baby sibling they had hoped to hold, play with and tease one day. I was deeply moved by their drawings and thoughts. My daughter-in-law seemed to still be having physical issues with the miscarriage while they were here, so my son took her to the Emergency Room. After telling their story, the doctor ordered blood work and other tests. I waited up late to hear what they found out. When they came back, they sat down with a stunned look on their faces and blurted out, “We’re still pregnant…and further along than we thought!” With shocked voices, they explained how the ultrasound tech moved the scanner over her body and showed where her bladder and everything else was, then pointed at the screen and said, “And there’s your baby with a healthy heartbeat!” They both had to lean way over to see for themselves. What they thought was dead was fully alive! And they found this out on the week of Resurrection Day!

Holy Week leading up to Resurrection Day is always my favorite Holy-day. The greatest thing to ever happen is celebrated today.  When Jesus died on the cross, it seemed all hope was lost, but He overcame death for us …and is fully alive! He is born in us when we surrender to Him. His Spirit inside us grows until nothing can hold it back. How do I know He lives? I once was dead yet now I live a full, abundant, overflowing, ever-growing eternal life in You, Lord!

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“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.’”   John 3:3-6

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, H has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead…”   1 Peter 1:3

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Prayer Peek & Prompt-

Father, Let me be willing to die to myself so Your Spirit may give birth to new life in my spirit

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Heavenly Father,

As of today I have yet another reason to vote in our country’s elections. Our second great-grandson was born. My life is flying by! How can it be that our granddaughter who I watched being born gave birth herself?? We now have 12 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. I am voting for each of them, for all the kids I care for at work and at church, and all their parents and for future grandchildren yet-to-be-born. My one little vote is only one…but I must use it wisely for it will affect so many precious people. Father, our governing leaders can make a big impact on the future of the lives of many.

My vote can have an impact on their freedom, their way of life, morals, education, healthcare, safety, finances, resources available, the character of the world they live in… My vote needs serious consideration. I cannot afford to cast it simply on what a candidate says because talk can sound good and is empty without actions. I cannot vote on ads paid for by candidates. I don’t personally know any of them so I cannot base it on my relationship with them. I can’t vote on what those running against them say because facts can certainly be twisted. ..so how  can I know the truth about who to vote for? I can research their speech, history, relationship with You and pray about my vote…which is exactly what I’ve been doing. Now I need Your final input on my vote tomorrow. You know ALL about each person running for office. Nothing is hidden from You. You know their strengths, weaknesses, motivation, their future and their past. You know who is needed for such a time as this. I need You to help me vote!

Although my vote is important and the stakes seem high, it’s so reassuring to know that the future doesn’t depend on these human leaders…that You reign from generation to generation. Even more important than my vote to all these younger generations are my prayers. I know without a doubt that You will be with them whatever they face in this life. I may use my little vote on behalf of many for one candidate per office for one term …however my prayers to You on behalf of all these precious young people will stand forever because You are eternally our God from generation to generation!

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“You, O Lord, reign forever; Your throne endures from generation to generation.” Lamentations 5:19

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I ask Your guidance as I cast my vote for earthly leaders…yet I bow before Your Son as my eternal King and You as my God and pray for these young people …

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Heavenly Father,

Growing up, I was the only girl surrounded by boys! Although I loved my rowdy brothers, and learned much about football, baseball and digging dirt forts- I longed for a sister. I really wanted a girl that I could do girly things with- someone who would understand me and be closer than a brother!  My mom kept having babies…but they were all boys! I finally took matters into my own hands and started dressing up a certain little brother in girl clothes…until he learned to yell “NO!!!”

So I stayed a girl all alone in a boy’s world. But the longing for a sister never went away.  Since I found my future husband at the young age of 15, I never really had time to develop any deep girlfriend relationships. That is, until adulthood. That’s when it began. I began discovering the sweetness of sisters.  My brothers got married and all the sudden I was not the only female in the family. I cared for other women’s children in my home. A deep bond develops when you care for someone else’s babies. Then I began praying with a small group of women once a week. Nothing bonds you more closely than coming into Your presence together. We prayed for our husbands, our children, their future spouses, their schools and friends, our walk with You, for everyday issues and critical moments…

I have more sisters than I could ever count now! One small prayer group dissipated as people moved away, and another was formed and bonded with through our love for Jesus.  I have dearly loved sisters who join together once a week to study Your word, pray for one another and share one another’s burdens and joys. I have sisters who I work with at my job; daughters, daughters-in-law,  and even granddaughters who have become my sisters-in-Christ; sisters who I have shared a lifetime with and those who I meet momentarily; sisters who have moved away and sisters I see often, sisters who are on the street and sisters who are held in high regard. What makes us sisters? We may not have the same DNA, but we share the same blood. We are forever bonded by the blood of Jesus Christ. You are our Father. We will live forever together- even if we get separated here on earth. Thank You, Lord for my forever sisters! You’ve given me more than I could ever count! Oh yes…thank You for my forever brothers, too!!

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 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel  will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”   Mark 10:29-31

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Acts 1:14

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for the gift of these brothers and sisters-in-Christ….

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Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the profound and mysteriously beautiful gift of marriage! It makes me so sad to see reverence for marriage taken in such a flippant attitude at this time in our culture. It is entered into and walked out on almost as easily as anything else in our disposable society.  Of course, I know we are imperfect humans with selfish wills who want things to go our way. So there is abuse of all kinds associated with marriage. Yet You created marriage as one of the most meaningful gifts to bless us-when we have an attitude that lines up with Yours.

Of course, You being the wise and creative Father God that You are- draw two completely unique and opposite type people together…and join us together as one and tell us to live together, plan together, parent together, work out our finances together, decide on a movie together and figure out how to spend the holidays together! You are so funny, Lord!!! Yet it is in the working it out together that true love deepens and grows. I thought I loved my husband as deeply as I ever could the day we said our vows to one another. Since that time, we’ve been through a lot of life together- faced all kinds of issues and situations. Many times, I thought for sure I was right and he was wrong. Through all that sticking together through everything, I have been surprised to discover that he was right far more times than I gave him credit for…or that it took both of us to give and do our parts to come out with the best solution. It took both of us being willing to forgive, serve and appreciate one another.

After all we’ve been through, I can honestly say I love and respect him far more than I ever thought possible. There is an old saying that the longer a couple is together, the more they begin to look alike. I can’t say for sure how true that is…but I do believe the longer we are together the closer we become to being like “one.” Marriage is all about the oneness in a relationship- of having the same mission and Lord. You give marriage as a picture of the oneness between Jesus Christ and His Bride- the church. Of all the diverse personalities, You blend them together as one with Jesus to become all You designed us to be. Thank You for marriage between me and my husband, between man and wife, between believers and Jesus Christ! I love watching the beautiful mystery unfold!

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“’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery- but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”   Ephesians 5:31-33

“Also if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how will one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A chord of three strands is not quickly broken.”   Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

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Prayer Prompt-

Father,

*If I am not married, I pray to be one with Jesus and to encourage these people in their marriage…

*If I am married, may You be the first strand that joins us together in our marriage! Help me pray for my own marriage and to encourage these people in their marriage…