Heavenly Father, this weekend we traveled south to Texas to visit family. We left at dusk so I didn’t notice the color changing until the next morning when I woke up. It was like a whole new world opening up. Their Spring has already begun! It always surprises me every year when we go down about this time. They are at least two weeks further along in new growth. When I left home, there were a few sprouts coming up—but most of our grass and trees are still brown. Even the daffodils which had barely started blooming were frozen in our last artic front. In fact, we were bundled in winter clothes and didn’t even think to pack for the 80-degree weather we encountered there.

I was thrilled as I kept pointing out Plum trees which were finishing their blooms and Flowering Pears which were in full glory. The grass was actually lush green and growing enough that people were out mowing. Ours hadn’t even started! It was a lovely peek at Spring. We traveled home during the day and watched it backwards as green slowly faded back to the drab winter scene. But it was too late. I already caught Spring fever! I know it’s coming! I got a sneak peek!

Spring is like a sneak peak at heaven for me. (Maybe not the mowing and weeds!) Springtime reminds me of watching the “Wizard of Oz” for the first time when I was little. It started out in the black and white we were familiar with—then it turned into glorious color! Who would think that this drab world I live in could turn into vivid colors of fresh new life! Who thought my ordinary drab life could transform into glory by having Jesus’ blood flow into me and transform me by bringing me eternal life!
Lord, how I love Spring! It is a sneak peek at eternal life with You where there will be no more dormancy, death, darkness…! Since You live in me and are always making me new, I get to enjoy Your eternal life even now because of Jesus Christ! It is the abundant, overflowing life that is forever freshly springing up from within me ready to burst out with new growth, flowers and fruit! And it is only a sneak peek!

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“Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches.” John 15:4-5

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, Is my eternal life springing fresh from my relationship with You through Jesus Christ?


Heavenly Father, I have vivid memories of my professional growing dad sitting in the house when I was young pouring through seed/plant catalogs with beautiful photos of flowers, vegetables and even more permanent flowering/fruit and landscape trees and shrubs. This happened most often during the cold winter months, as he prepared for his spring crops. It was a rare sight to see him sitting during the rest of the year as there was always work to be done in the fields or greenhouses. He always had some reoccurring orders of standard varieties which proved to be successful at growing in our Oklahoma drought-prone summers. He knew to steer clear of selections which looked appealing but wouldn’t grow well in our state. But every year, he took a little risk to try some new varieties, as well.  Over his 50 years of professional growing, he was responsible for bringing all kinds of new plant material to a state that had little to no choices before. He was a true pioneer of horticulture- a modern day Johnny Appleseed.

                When those seeds or tiny starter plants were shipped to us in boxes, they had absolutely no resemblance to those gorgeous photos in the catalogs. Time was of the essence to get the starter plants potted, watered and placed in the proper growing environment so they could flourish. The seed packets were full of the most ordinary-looking seeds. If you didn’t know better, there is no way you would ever believe those miniscule shapes would ever produce what those lovely photographs promised. Yet my dad (along with his crew of employees and captive children followed in faith that he knew what he was doing) sowed, planted and watered those promises which came in tiny packages. They really grew!

                The Oklahoma landscape is still full of trees and shrubs that began with his faith in investing in those tiny seeds. There is no way I could ever count the number of mouths fed, souls nourished and shade provided by the seed of a vision You, Lord, planted in my dad. There is no way I can measure the lives which have been impacted by my parents’ hard work, faith and seed-sowing in people’s lives and yards, in thousands of children whose interest in plants was perked, by employees whose lives were invested in…Oh yes, and by investing in their children- including that little girl who watched her dad order seeds in the middle of winter. Help me be a seed-sower for You, Lord!

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“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”   Matthew 13:3-8 (Jesus taught in a parable)

“He (Jesus) told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32

“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

 2 Corinthians 9:10-11

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Your Prayer Prompt-

Lord, what kinds of seed am I sowing?

 Heavenly Father,    I’ve survived a lot of storms in my life, most not related to weather. I see so many who I love and care about going through their own storms of different kinds right now. I cannot take their storm away, but I can urge them to take shelter. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been thinking and writing about tornado shelters lately since my son and his friends are kicking off a new type tornado shelter on a national television show this weekend. Maybe it’s because Spring weather and tornado season are approaching. But this morning, my thoughts were on where we go for shelter during the small and major storms of life.

               Seasoned Oklahomans know to keep alert during weather which can produce possible devastating tornados. They can do nothing to prevent those furious winds from coming but they know to take shelter when it happens. This life will definitely have its share of storms. The majority of Oklahomans have ridden out some major weather in some sort of “safe room” while the winds, lightening, hail rage all around. We all know that some shelters are safer than others.

               My shelter has been tested. Each time I have gone through a storm, I have run to Your strong tower, Lord! I don’t have to worry about driving to it, that it may already be filled, that I will be caught out in the open…Wherever I am , whatever is going on, whatever the attack is, no matter how powerful and overwhelming the storm is, I have found refuge, peace and strength. When I feel the most vulnerable, in the greatest danger, too weak to handle what I see…I can immediately find shelter in You, Lord. There have been many times I tried to ride out the storm on my own, and I was overwhelmed by its power and strength. But as soon as I call out to You and begin praising You in the storm, the storm either becomes quiet or I find the sweetest peace with You in the midst of the raging storm.

               The way to shelter with You is to call out the name of Jesus, realize Your sin against Him, Your need to be saved, and believe that Jesus is the door to everlasting shelter with You, Lord. As I begin to sing praises to You for being the Most High, for being stronger than whatever life blows my way, for trusting You will cause goodness out of the devastating blows- I know I am standing safely with You in the calm of the eye of the storm. Let the winds blow. Let the lightening crash and the hail come—for I am with You and all is well. How I want everyone to find this same shelter! I cannot drag them; they each must turn to You themselves.

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“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me/ My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught…I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”  Psalm 55:1,2,8

“For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to take dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.”  Psalm 61:3-4

“One day Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.’ So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, He fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in grave danger. The disciples went and woke Him saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided and all was calm. ‘Where is your faith?’ He asked His disciples.”  Luke 8:22-25

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, are You my shelter? Do I trust You in the storm?

Heavenly Father,

               Like so many others this morning, I looked out my window and saw the largest snowflakes I had ever seen falling softly and quietly to the ground. I felt like I was in a silent snow globe with Your glory falling all around me. The snow almost immediately blanketed the yard, roof, bushes and that dirty pile of leaves that has been sitting untouched on my yard. Everything is covered with a pure white blanket. Even the ugliest eyesores have turned into scenes of beautiful sparkling pure white.

               There is nothing I can do to cause it to snow. There is nothing meteorologists can do to make the clouds pour out their flakes. No one can stop it no matter what sophisticated up-to-date technology lies at their disposal. It is poured out freely and generously in Your perfect timing. There are some who wanted it to snow and others who didn’t. You alone, Lord, know when to let the snow fall.  It is whiter than any white we can make. In fact, when the sun shines on it, we can barely look at it with our unprotected human eyes.

               Thank You for the way Jesus’ blood falls softly and quietly on me- completely covering my sin. When You look at me, You no longer see my ugly evil sin, but only the pure and holy covering of Jesus which causes me to shine with His glory. My holiness may not be visible to the human eye (including my own eyes) but the very moment I surrendered and asked Jesus to save me from my sins, I am covered. I am free of the ugly filth of guilt, shame, fear, rebellion, hate…all my sin is washed pure in the holy blood of Jesus Christ. I could never wash away my own sin—no matter how hard I try. You sent Your Holy Son Jesus, the only One worthy and able to do what we cannot- make us whiter than snow in Your precious eyes.

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“’Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’    Isaiah 1:18

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”   Isaiah 55:10-11

“The hair on His head was white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and coming out of His mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. Then He placed His right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’”      Revelation 1:14-18

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Prayer Prompt-

Holy Father, do I believe Jesus is Your holy Son and have I accepted His precious blood to cover my sin and make me like snow?

Heavenly Father,

It’s easy to fall prey to sadness when it is gloomy outside. I am usually a very upbeat person (even being accused of always seeing the bright side) but everyone faces storms and cloudy days—even if it is only seen by one’s self on the inside. My brother takes amazing daily photos of the sunset on the lake by his house. It is the same exact lake view, but not one of his hundreds of photos are ever the same. Some are made up of glorious vibrant colors that take your breath away. Others are dark and gloomy. The lake is the same. Trees have not moved. The sun still sets in the west. Some days there are clouds, birds, or people in the photo; other days there’s nothing in the photo but the water and sky. The weather can affect our view. Our mood can make a difference in what we see. Too much on our minds; the stress of trying to control our circumstances; worries and fears can all attempt to blind us to the glory all around us.

That’s why, though I might feel gloomy tis morning, I still come to praise You through the grey skies. All may seem dreary—but when I purposely begin to turn to You, calling out to You, praising You for who You are, my view changes. When I stop to remember that You, alone, are God Almighty; that You are the Creator and Designer of all there is; that You hung the sun, stars and entire galaxies into place and cause them to stay there; that You are still the same glorious God though I cannot see You at the time; that You are still shining just as brightly as ever.

As I praise You, my Eternal, Everlasting, Majestic, All-Powerful, tender, merciful, Righteous, Holy, comforting, True, Faithful, Forgiving, Expectant, Constant through the Ages, Victorious, Most High God—there is a little part in the clouds and a ray of Your glory shines down on me. You sustain me, encourage me, direct me, guide me, restore me, refresh me, heal me… Most of all, the sweet joy of Your presence melts away the greyness in my spirit. Once again, I know that You are still God. There is no darkness or hopelessness in You at all. Though there might be some grey days here on earth, the time is coming when I will see you in all Your glory. My view of You will be unhampered by the clouds of this life. When I praise You, I get a sneak peek of Your glory!

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“Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1:4

 

“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”  Psalm 18:28

 

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.”   Matthew 6:22-23

 

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12

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Prayer Prompt-

Most Holy Father, am I looking to You or something else?

Glorious Father,

Anything that is living is always changing. It never stands still. A favorite saying in Oklahoma is “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes. It will change!” That’s not only true for the weather, but for life itself. We are always going through different seasons in our lives. Whatever we have gone through in our past has already happened. We may not be able to change that, but when You are made the very center of our lives, You take all the good, the bad and the ugly and turn it into something glorious as we hold it before You. All praise and glory to You, Father! The hurts, pains, disappointments, mistakes, sins, abuse, darkness do not have to hold us captive all our lives. Through Jesus Christ, we are made free and You carry us from glory to glory into the next season of our lives! Thank You that my life did not stand still in darkness!!

Whatever I am facing right now will not stay this way. Whether it feels like a blessing or an overwhelming trial. Each moment is to be savored for it will never be exactly like this again. Babies grow up. (Sleep will come again). The “terrible twos” do not determine that child’s future personality. You can carry on deep conversations with teenagers one moment and be stabbed in the heart by their words the next. Your parents can be strong and invincible one moment, and frail and vulnerable the next. No one but You, Lord, knows when our last earthly breath will be, so help me to enjoy this particular moment which will never happen again. It is precious (even when it happens to be painful) for You are making something beautiful through every single moment we live with You.

You are the only One who holds the future. I might as well not dread it, for what I fear may never even happen…and if it does happen, You will be at work in that particular moment as well. You love me with Your perfect love and I can completely trust You for this particular moment and for all eternity! Life circumstances, the people in my life, my health, my plans, my dreams—are all always changing. But all is well because, You, my Loving Lord, never change! You are God and I bow before You in ever-growing love and adoration!

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“I the Lord do not change.”    Malachi 3:6

 

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.”     James 1:17

 

“And He (Jesus) said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”  Matthew 18:3-4

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, do I trust You through all changes?….

Heavenly Father,

Lately I feel more and more like a mist! I remember one cold morning when we were camping in a tent and woke up to a glorious view of a mountain on the other side of the lake. The mountain was blurred by a thick cover of mist dancing across the top of the lake. It almost looked like people rising up out of the water and reaching up towards the sky. We sat watching the mist for over an hour until the sun burned off all traces of the fleeting dance. My life seems like a mist—short and insignificant in light of who You are, Almighty God.

I was just giving birth to my babies and now they are parents. I once asked my 90 year old grandmother if she felt old; she said she often felt like she was still 16 years old. No matter how old we live to be here on this earth, our lives are here one moment and gone the next. The day will come when my great grandchildren may vaguely remember me when they hear someone randomly say my name ever so often. Then their children won’t know anything about me. My life is a mist in the overall scheme of things.

Yet, though I may feel like such a miniscule particle of mist among the billions of people in the world, or nothing at all when I look at Your glorious power and eternal glory—I am blown away to realize that You knew me before I was born. You know everything about me from the hairs on my head to my unexpressed thoughts. You know how I have rebelled against You and ignored You when You are the very One who created me. You loved me so much that You sent Your own Son Jesus to take my sins upon Himself and die and rise again so I could live with You for all eternity.

I may feel like a mist, but to You—I am precious enough to die for, to save me so I can be with You forever. Father, let my mist of this earthly life rise up to dance to You—for You are mine and I am Yours. You reign forever through all generations. May my dance join in the dance of all those who have gone before me, those who live on earth now and those who are yet-to-be, as we worship You forever and ever.

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“Why, you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, who am I before You…to You?

 

Heavenly Father,

For a long time, I have asked You to lead the weekly Bible Study growth group I facilitate. It’s always an adventure to watch how You lead. It never goes like I expect. I’m always surprised by the ways You teach all of us. The latest lesson You are leading us in has been through these “hawk attacks” as I go on my morning walks. There have been a series of attacks starting with a silent hawk zooming from behind with great power right on the top of my head! There has been a fair amount of fear try to keep me from walking as there have been more threats on sequential walks—but, Lord, I know You don’t want me to give in to fear.

So besides yelling at them and shaking my keys, this morning I pulled my long ponytail up and wore a straw hat. The huge birds were still out in full force all around me but I felt protected. As I walked past one scene of attack, there were four of them sitting high on the dead branches protruding high above the live part of the tree. Right as I walked past, a car drove by in the otherwise deserted street. I felt Your timing. They would not attack while something so large and powerful was there. As I passed by the first painful point of attack, there just happened to be four young people I had never seen walking together on the other side of the street. They passed by exactly at the very point of attack. They were talking about Jesus and said His name several times!

Father, thank You for the reminder that You are always with me protecting me. You won’t let anything through unless it is somehow for Your glory. All I need to do is be on alert for the attacks that are certain to come; be dressed in Your armor; overcome fear with the knowledge that You are with me; keep around other believers; and trust in Your protection, timing and angels; and use Jesus’ name to ward off the enemy. Help me to keep on walking with You (and to finish the lesson on “weapons and armor” that I didn’t know I was teaching—but You are leading for tonight! Just following Your lesson plan, Lord!)

 

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“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”  Ephesians 6:10-18

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering.”   1 Peter 5:8-9

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, show me where I’m being attacked right now and help me stand in Jesus Christ…

 

Most Gracious Heavenly Father,

How sweet it is to sit in the shade of Your presence. It can be sweltering heat, beating down on me—wearing me out. In fact, the other day, the heat index was so high I had a mild case of heatstroke from working out in the heat and humidity. I had to immediately seek shade so I could sit down and cool off.  No matter how hot life gets—no matter what is going on to zap my strength—no matter how unbearable the conditions get…I can find sweet relief simply by sitting in the shade of Your Holy presence.

I don’t even have to say anything. I can just sit and be still and know who You are—the Lord God of all, the highest Authority over heaven and earth, the One who rules forever and ever—the One who created me and knows all my needs, weaknesses and fears. There is the sweetest shelter from the heat of this life before me at all times. All I have to do is sit with You. You bring relief, cool gentle breezes to restore my peace. I know I am not the only one who experiences Your tender nearness. I cannot comprehend how You can sit with me like I am the only person in the world. You know me. You understand me. You restore me. Yet You are doing that all over the world with whoever chooses to sit in Your shade. There is a young mom in Russia, a teenager in Cameroon, a grandfather in Canada, a girl in Ireland…many times over. You are sitting personally with each of us in the shade of Your presence.

It’s all because of Jesus. Because of our sinfulness, we cannot sit in Your Holy presence. You sent Jesus to wash away our sins, to make us holy forever. You sent Jesus so we can be with You always. You sent Jesus to live in us through Your Holy Spirit so we can sit with You in Your presence any time. Lord, help me not to wander too far from the shade of Your presence.

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“The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”   Psalm 121:5-8

 

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  Psalm 91:1

 

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, let me rest in Your shade through my faith in Jesus Christ…

Heavenly Father,

My yard is full of stories. The Live Oak tree in my back yard was a dinky six-foot tall tree with two small trunks about 1 ½ inches in diameter twenty years ago when half of a massive elm tree fell on top of it during a major storm. It was bent clear to the ground under the weight of half of a full grown tree. I thought for certain it was gone. It even had a big crack in the base of the trunk. When my husband cut the weight off of it, that small tree sprung back upright straight as an arrow pointing to the sky. I watched it over time, thinking the damage probably destroyed the main part of the trunk, but it continued to grow stronger than ever. Today, it shades our whole patio we built below it. We enjoy its shade as we sip coffee, read, and entertain family and friends under it.

A few days ago, my husband cut down a big branch of another tree I asked him to remove. (He likes his chainsaw!) A twelve-foot branch fell, standing up on its end right on top of a beautiful tender Hosta Lily. That same Hosta froze all the way to the ground in a late freeze earlier this spring. Even under all the harsh conditions, it is coming out lovelier than ever. Every single plant has a story. Not only is my small yard full of broken stories that are flourishing with life…but the whole world is!

Lord, I see people all around who are either broken, going through a storm, or under tremendous pressure. Some of the brokenness is a result of personal choices; other times it is simply part of this life. It might seem like the end of the world to them, but I know You are at work. You are allowing their circumstances to cause them to grow stronger, to develop deeper compassion, to help their trust in You to flourish though they cannot see the outcome, to bring about eternal life through Jesus Christ under what appears to be death…Whether it is in my life, my family members’ lives, those I love and those I barely know, I trust You are bringing new life out of the brokenness. May we all stand up with our scars of brokenness, offering our own personal story of brokenness to flourishing with the glory of Jesus’ eternal life growing in us.

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“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all…” Psalm 34:18-19

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me surrender to You my brokenness of_________