Heavenly Father,

I usually go out in my yard at least once a day this time of the year just so I can see the changes and growth from the day before. There is so much joy in watching for each new sprout and flower. I may have planted them, but I surely do not have the power to make them come to life and flourish. I simply give them a little water and fertilize occasionally but these plants are a lot of fun to watch grow from tiny plants to lush bushes producing miraculous fruit and flowers.

It may be the most rewarding to rescue plants about to be discarded. I can see their potential so I prune, transplant in the right place and nurture them along until they are thriving. Before you know it, they are blessing everyone around including me. My yard is full of plants carried over through the winter. Most people would have thrown them away because they looked so damaged or dead…but I have witnessed how You work, Lord! You specialize in reviving and bringing life to worthless looking things and people! All it takes is Jesus Christ! He makes all things new!

As much as I love watching for new growth in plants, what I am blessed with in a far greater way is watching new growth in the people around me. What a joy to see someone that the world would discard as useless begin to show new signs of growth from the live-saving spirit of Jesus who came to rescue them. You love to take the broken, winter damaged, almost dead, worthless-looking people and infuse them with the glorious new life of Jesus. What beauty and fruit emerges! Not because of anything we could do except believe and accept the new life You give us through Your Son’s death for our sins and resurrection for our new life. I know…because You are always transforming me! Jesus’ life flows through my veins. But I also love watching the new growth You are bringing out in those around me! Glory to Jesus who makes all things new!

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“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything. But only God, who makes things grow.”  1 Corinthians 3:6-7

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. This is My command: Love each other.”  Jesus in John 15:16-17

“It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.” 2 John 1:4

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me see eternal life through Jesus Christ growing in myself and others…

 

Faithful Loving Lord,

You did it again! You are at work all around if we just keep our eyes open and watch. My sweet neighbor’s husband left this world eleven years ago after living life to the fullest through all kinds of health trials. He was given an extension of life from a young donor’s heart on April 22, 2002. The day he was given that new heart, my neighbor walked in her back yard and saw the very first clematis bloom of the year. It meant so much to her! Every single year since on April 22, the first Clematis blossom of the year opens up to warm her heart. Last year, she gave me a clematis starter. Knowing how much it means to her, in honor of her husband, I planted it on a lattice between our houses where she can easily see it. Both her and my vines had both been coming out early when a late hard freeze knocked back all the new growth, including the emerging buds. Yesterday afternoon on April 22, I walked outside and there was the first flower opened up despite the freeze-burnt leaves and drought we have had! I’m so glad I was watching for it!

My Forever Sister’s group opens up our weekly time together with each one of us sharing a report of how we’ve seen You at work in the past week. At first, everyone was reluctant to share. At the beginning, they couldn’t think of things to report. Then they start watching! It is incredible to see how the group changes as they watch so they will have something to report. We’ve heard accounts of You opening up parking places at the right time, saving from accidents at the last moment, divinely appointed meetings at just the perfect time, crazy ways You orchestrate things in our families, work and city, and surprising ways You answer our prayers. Some of those same ladies who couldn’t think of a thing when we started can’t wait to report the latest account. Everything changes when we look to You and watch for Your presence in our lives.

Lord, You promised us that when we seek You with all our heart, we will find You. Help me not fall for the distractions, fears, worries and temptations of this world which attempt to have me look at fleeting, worldly things. Remind me to purposely draw my eyes back to You, though I cannot see Your physical form. We definitely see the evidence of Your nearness all around when we are watching. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord!

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“You will seek Me and find Me when you with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak.”  Matthew 26:41

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6

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Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, though I can’t see You, I have faith in You and seek You…

Heavenly Father,

I almost made a big mistake AGAIN! I know better. My horticulture parents have taught me well. I just got carried away cleaning out my flower beds, preparing for spring flowers. I was cleaning out dead growth from last year’s annuals…when I pulled up a dead looking stick. I had already pulled it up when I noticed a tiny sprout of new green growth. As quick as I could, I planted it back into the soft soil and watered it in. I think it might still make it. It was a perennial which dies down almost to the root and is always a little late sprouting out.

It reminded me how precious life is to You. Jesus told us to be careful pulling weeds…it’s hard to tell when they are still dead-looking or tiny sprouts exactly what they are. He told us to wait to see what that life might produce. That poor dead-looking plant I pulled without thinking will make a beautiful carpet of purple Verbena blooms all summer long. Lord, help me be even more patient with people and not just discard them without hope. The very ones who might appear dead and worthless could turn out to produce an abundant crop of flowers and fruit that will glorify You! All they need is some more time and newness of life that comes when they ask Jesus to live in them.

Lord, I think back to before Your life was born in me through Jesus Christ. I was just as dead-looking but new life springs up wherever Jesus lives. And He lives in me and with me! Thank You for not pulling me up and throwing me away. I am so grateful for Your eternal love and patience. Most of all, I am eternally grateful for Jesus’ life that runs through me and causes new growth to burst out of the fullness of my spirit. I cannot make it happen. Jesus is the life!

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“Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.  The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time, I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” Matthew 13:24-30

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”  2 Peter 3:9

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me be patient and pray for the “weedy” people in my life with the hope they will have new life…

Heavenly Father,

My daughter sent out a message to anyone who happened to be listening. It said, “If you are awake right now, go outside and check out the eclipse!” Twenty-three minutes had passed early this morning since she posted that announcement but I ran outside in my pajamas to try to catch this once-in-150-year lunar event. I searched the entire sky but I missed it. I did, however, get to see the sunrise. It happens every single morning.

I would have loved to see the lunar eclipse! But I was reminded Your mercies are new every single morning! I do not have to wait to see some huge incredible sign in the skies or a dramatic miracle because You are with me always. And Your glory shines all around! I simply need to keep the eyes of my heart open. Your glory is everywhere! It’s true—there is a lot of darkness in this world. It can cast a great shadow over our soul. It’s easy to give in, thinking the darkness is taking over, but as soon as I turn my eyes back to seeking You, Your glory bursts forth and brings hope, light and peace which chase away the darkness. The darkness cannot stay where You shine! The news can be devastating. It can look like the whole world is dying. Or it can be extremely personal news that threatens to overcome us. But, Lord, as we keep turning to You- praising You for who You are, believing in Your almighty power, thanking You for our eternal life and relationship with You through Jesus, trusting in Your perfect plan for us and the people around us—Your Glory bursts through!

The darkness is dispelled like a mist with no power. No matter how ominous the worldly or personal news appears, all is well when we bask in Your glory! Sometimes we might have to hang on much tighter and longer as we wait for Your light to appear. Yet those are the very times our trust in You grows deeper—when it is stretched to its limits.  Father, You in all Your glory, are always there! Nothing can take that away. The darkness may attempt to place things in front of us to block our view of You, but You wait for us to seek You in the midst of the darkness. And oh! How wonderful when we get to soak up Your glory! When we are filled with the light of Christ! Help us to shine out with the glorious reflection of the One we see every morning so others will want to seek You for themselves. You and Your Glory eclipses all!

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“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’” Lamentations 3:22-24

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.”  1 Peter 4:12-13

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me look to You instead of my dark circumstance of…

Heavenly Father,

I’ve been reading up on the solar eclipse which will be experienced across America tomorrow. It’s strange to me how the moon which is significantly smaller than the sun can block out much of the sun’s rays for a bit. The sun which is the center of our particular universe is immensely powerful. It lights up and heats up our tiny planet so we can live on it. Yet it is only one star out of trillions or more that You created and set each one into its exact orbit. It’s not the sun…but You, Lord, who is actually the center of all things. Everything from atoms to galaxies revolves around You, alone. Our sun will eventually cease to exist, but You, Lord, stand forever…and You invite us to live for all eternity with You. You even provided the way to make that possible through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice to cleanse us once and for all so we could share eternal life with You- something we can never obtain on our own.

We’ve been hearing how we cannot look directly upon the sun without the risk of damage to our eyes…but how much more happens when we look to You, Lord. We may not be able to see You in all Your glory and live. But when we truly accept Jesus as our Savior from sin and death, we see Your glory even now. No darkness can block it out completely. Although there will be many things that try: health issues, financial ruin, broken relationships, legal obstacles, shattered dreams, the state of the world… So many things might cloud over our sight of You but You are still here. Nothing has dimmed You or taken away even on iota of Your power and authority, yet we may see the darkness for a bit. We know You are still there.

Most of the time, when we are wondering where You went- it’s because we are letting something get in between You and us. You are unchanging. Father, remind me when things seem to grow dark that You did not move; that You are still there. Help me to sing songs of thankfulness for Your grace, goodness, mercy, unchanging love, and promises to never leave me. No matter how dark things might seem, the darkness will have to move away and let Your glory shine out brighter than ever! The object or cause of our darkness will seem small and insignificant when compared to Your greatness. You, Lord, are our Light, our love, our source of life, are very reason for living. Father, let nothing eclipse You in my life. Let Your glory shine out and reflect on those in the darkness.

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“They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them their light. And they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation22:4-5

“The sun will no more be your light by day, nor the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.”  Isaiah 60:19

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Romans 8:38-39

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, what is standing between me and You, dimming Your light?

 

Heavenly Father,

I just spent last week at an awesome church camp (four nights and 5 days at a 4th-5th grade camp and then a day camp for K-1st grade). The most miraculous things happen at church camp which makes up for the hard waterproof mattresses on old squeaky bunk beds, the dirt that totally covers your body from the dust stirred up by so many feet, late nights with giggly girls, stinky boys who pride themselves on no showers, wet clothes thrown all over cabin floors, wet swimsuits which fall off the line and get dirt mixed together with snow cone and ice cream drippings, a few cases of homesickness or real sickness, several real or imagined boo-boos, and being asked a million times “What’s next?”

The eternal benefits far outweigh the downside. I want to thank You, Lord for a few of the miracles I had the privilege of witnessing this year: the boy whose family just moved to a small town in OK and attended church for the first time. His mom heard them talking about leaving for church camp and wished out loud her son could go to meet new friends. In less than an hour, he was packed and back at church to go to camp with people he didn’t know. He ended up getting baptized and camper of the week!…the very smart but extremely shy girl who fought through tears and fear to say memory verses in front of the whole crowd and discovered You are with her and will help her…4th and 5th grade kids who happily gave up their “canteen money” to donate to the mission of building chapels in OK prisons. They broke the record by giving $1000 towards helping inmates know about Jesus inside prison walls… the unbridled worship of children who sing to You with all their heart, minds and soul…

Lord, I was overcome by the history of this small church camp that gets city kids out in the country, that makes children forget all about TV, video games and cell phones. Many of the adult sponsors grew up going to camp there. That’s where they came to know You. I wonder how many of the 9 baptisms in the swimming pool last week will end up as pastors, teachers and living long lives for You. I have no way of knowing how many lives have been changed eternally through this one humble church camp serving a group of OK churches. Not only are the kids’ lives impacted for Your kingdom, adults are drawn closer to You as well. I know I found time to be still and quiet before You this week. I grew in Your word, Your presence and in sweet fellowship with big and little brothers and sisters-in-Christ. May we all take our renewed fire for You back to our daily lives and shine brilliantly with the Light of Jesus Christ! Thank You, Lord, for letting me be a part of church camp.

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“He (Jesus) took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in His arms, He said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes  one of these little children in My name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me but the one who sent Me.’”  Mark 9:36-37

“Let the little children come to ME, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:14b-15

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, show me how I can worship, obey and live with You like a child…


Glorious Heavenly Father,

Today I am incredibly thankful for the still quiet time I can share with You. I recall how awkward I felt when first taking that purposeful time alone with You. I always knew You were somehow with me…all around me – powerful and magnificent yet in the background of my life. Then to stop everything to be still and quiet- to speak to You and to learn to listen…that was a whole new thing. What do you  say to the Lord of everything, the God who created all there is, the most powerful and glorious Being who knows all and sees all? Yet I knew Jesus had died so I could have direct contact with You. There was no way for me to truly share Your presence when sin ruled my life. Jesus’ blood cleaned me from the inside out so I can come to You anytime. With such a high price being paid for me to have that kind of relationship with You, I never want to take it for granted or neglect my time with You. So I started- and never have stopped- though there are certainly times I have been guilty of getting sidetracked from that time alone with You.

Lately, I’ve had a little more “still” time again due to my bad back. Seems like the times I’ve spent the most time with You are times when I had to have something physically slow me down. I can truly say I am grateful for those hurdles which resulted in reminders to spend more time with You. The more time I purposely take to enjoy Your presence- the more I can take that “still” time with me wherever I go.

It’s incredible that no matter what obstacles, challenges, darkness or issues that might try to overwhelm me, when I come to You and place it all before You…When I am still and focus on who You are…when I trust that You are more powerful and eternal that anything I could ever possibly face- my soul becomes still. In my time with You, I am bathed in Your peace, joy and love. You alone fulfill me. You alone restore me. You alone cover me with Your grace and mercy. You alone strengthen me in my weakness. You alone heal me. You alone give me Your insight and wisdom. You alone give me all I need to handle the day no matter what it looks like. That’s why I come to You to be still with You alone.

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“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you  and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

“You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence.”

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Prayer Peek & Prompt-

Most Holy Father God, show me how to be still so I can enjoy Your presence through Jesus Christ…

Heavenly Father,

The last few months I’ve been doing a lot of pruning on trees and bushes. I grew up watching my horticulturist dad prune. He taught me well. If someone watching me didn’t trust my pruning abilities, they might think I was butchering if not killing the poor tree. If the tree could talk, it might be screaming out- not understanding what the beloved gardener is doing. It appears to be harmful when the cutting starts, but pruning in the hands of a gardener who knows what they are doing is an art. There is a vision of what that tree is capable of becoming. It may be the same tree, but the pruner sees a new creation in an ever-better form. The selective surgery is done, knowing it might take seasons (or perhaps years) to fully develop into the design the gardener has in mind. But the gardener is willing to wait for it to grow into its design.

Father, You are the Master Gardener! You have been doing some major pruning lately. Though it might hurt for a while, I trust what You are doing. I trust the fresh strong growth You are bringing out. I submit to Your design for my life and those who I care deeply for. There are times You cut out a perfectly healthy branch because You know another new fresh branch will come out where the other was cut away. You cut out the dead wood that’s just taking up space and not producing any new life. You cut away one branch where two are rubbing against each other. The constant friction will rub open wounds on both branches, giving entry ways for all kinds of diseases and insects. Then there are times You simply dig up a shrub after pruning and move it to a new location where You need it         to flourish and produce.

Lord, though I may squirm or even wrestle under Your pruning; though I hear the cries of those I love who are undergoing pruning- I am already seeing new shoots of life coming out where the pruning took place. Those new buds will make strong branches which will produce much fruit in Your kingdom. Thank You, Lord, for the loving way You tenderly prune with such beauty and purpose in mind. Let me submit willingly to Your Master hand. You made me and You know what You designed me and those around me for. Let us flourish and blossom under Your all-knowing care. I love you , Lord, even when there’s pruning!

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“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 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. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”   John 15:1-5

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”   Colossians 1:10-14

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, where are You pruning me? Help me submit to You loving design…

Heavenly Father,

What a beautiful sight to wake up to…pure white snow blanketing everything. All the mess; all the brown piles of dried up leaves; all the trash cans; dirty cars and broken fences- they were all transformed into beautiful sparkling pure white snow still untouched by humans hands and feet. I happened to be one of the first to drive on it yesterday morning. Though the sun had not quite risen, the undisturbed cover laid out in front of me glowing in the soft pre-dawn light. The atmosphere was filled with peace with the muffled softness of sound from piles of brilliant fresh- fallen snow. The morning almost had a sacred feel to it…until I walked into work where they had to salt the sidewalk for the safety of incoming feet. What a mess! The salt and slush was tracked all over in no time at all!

I watched the snow out the window as the day went by. It was too cold to go outside and play in it so for the most part, it lay undisturbed! On the drive home, the dirty ruts of tires spoiled the pure whiteness. Though I ‘d admired the pure clean snow, I couldn’t help but think how my very best attempts at pure holiness on my own are filthy and impure compared to Your holiness. There is not one iota of meanness or manipulation or spot of impurity in You, Lord! You are more holy than the cleanest whitest snow.

You, Lord, are untouched by my filthy sin which somehow always makes its way through as I go through the fiery trials of this life. I cannot blemish Your holiness…but You can completely cover my sin. You did it once and for all by sending Your Son Jesus Christ to die for us on the cross. He came quietly, softly and let His pure blood cover and cleanse every bit of ugly rebellious sin. I may still feel the sin pop through, but I believe You look at me and see the beautiful holy covering of Jesus’ blood that makes me pure so I can live with You for all eternity. You not only cover me but make me new from the inside out!

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“But we all are as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags; and we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”  Isaiah 64:6

“Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18

“as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  Psalm 103:12

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I need the pure holy saving grace of Jesus. Forgive me and cleanse me from…

peter-and-ann-schare quince-in-boston barna-juliuson-moesel adrienne-and-allen-barna alan-and-jessica-juliuson kathrynn-john-will-charlie-juliuson arkansas-hall-family deidre-and-eva

 

Heavenly Father,

I’m still enjoying sharing all the lovely photos of the most amazing landscapes from our recent vacation. You don’t just paint still life; Lord…You paint with life itself. The leaves on the trees are ever-changing; the rivers, streams and ocean are made up of trillions upon trillions of water droplets that are ever-moving; the skies are never the same with clouds and colors always arrayed in a different pattern. We even saw animals which were amazing- does, bucks, turkeys, birds and a bear! Your beauty is seen wherever we go! On this trip as in vacations before, we were overcome with Your beautiful creation! It was much more than we could absorb. I will never forget a trip a couple of years ago, when I was so overcome with the magnificence of Your creations that I was praising You. You accepted my praise and then informed me that Your greatest creation was people!

You threw me completely off guard with that comment. We are always surrounded by so many people that we enjoy getting away from humans out into the quiet peaceful settings of nature. Ever since then, I try to remember what You told me and see people as Your greatest creation. People are, in fact, always changing as well. You create them out of nothing and knit them together in their mother’s womb. They start out tiny and helpless, waiting to be held and cared for…and keep on changing throughout their life time into magnificent one-of-a-kind, never before people who are made up of nerves, muscles, brains, personality, dreams, character and abilities. Each and every single person is one of the greatest works of art. They are not still life either, but are created to transform and grow in beauty throughout the trials, joys and challenges they each face in this journey of life.

Lord, we had a chance to not only experience the beauty of nature on this trip but were able to spend some time with some of the most amazing people. Some were young; others I have known all their lives and watched them transform from glory to glory. As much as I love experiencing Your awesome creations in this world, I love people the most. Thank You for giving me more love for people! They are amazing!

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“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”  Genesis 1:26

“God saw all that He had made. And it was very good.”   Genesis 1:31a

“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? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; you put everything under his feet; all flocks and herds, and beasts of the field, and birds of the air, and fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, give me eyes to see and love to appreciate…