Have a Hope-Filled Mother’s Day

MEME - 1 Samuel 2 v 2 - May 12, 2018

Suggested Reading: 1 Samuel 1-2

On Mother’s Day, some of us will enjoy quality time with our mothers. Some won’t have that privilege. Others won’t even want to speak to their mothers.

People will be rejoicing over the wonderful relationships shared with their mothers, while others will grieve over broken bonds.

Moms will feel loved and appreciated.

Moms will feel neglected and rejected.

Some mothers will be elated and in love as they celebrate the children God has entrusted to them, whether biological, step, fostered, or adopted.

There will be mothers who willingly sacrifice for their children, while other moms leave their children to fend for themselves.

Happiness. Heartache. Gratitude. Grief.

Life doesn’t just stop because a national holiday pops up on the calendar.

This year, I’m still missing my mother after her yearlong battle with Leukemia in 2014.

I’m at peace as I grieve and celebrate the child I never got to hold, as my wonderful husband and I prepare to announce the name we should have chosen when we lost our first child to miscarriage in 1995.

I’m praising God for blessing me with my loving, compassionate, hard-working son, Xavier, who is now almost twenty-two.

And I’m grateful for the ways the Lord is now restoring a relationship with my stepson, who is loving and kind to me . . . though he prefers not to have his name mentioned in my writing.

Happy and sad. Laughter and tears. Sobs of wailing and songs of worship.

Crying out to God. Relying on God. Praying and believing God is with us.

Even though Mother’s Day won’t be a happy day for everyone, it can be a hope-filled day for those who place their trust in the Lord.

Elkana’s wife, Hannah, understood the desire to be a mother and the complexity of motherhood.

Her husband loved her, cared for her, and provided for her. But he couldn’t heal he infertility (1 Samuel 1:1-5). Hannah was ostracized and endured great sorrow as she longed for a child (vv. 6-8).

“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly.” (1 Samuel 1:10)

She didn’t mask her pain or approach the God’s throne of grace with a superficial thankfulness or praise. She acknowledged her suffering. She begged and bartered with the One who she knew could help her. She showed no concern over those who would witness her display of desperation (vv. 11-12).

“Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.” (1 Samuel 1:13)

She poured out her soul to God and refused to pretend everything was “fine” (vv. 13-16).

After Eli, the priest, encouraged her, Hannah moved forward in faith . . . “her face no longer downcast.” Her situation didn’t flip overnight, but her attitude certainly did an about-face (vv. 17-20).

In God’s perfect timing, Hanna was blessed with the baby she prayed for and loved, cared for and dedicated to the LORD. She cared for Samuel and never gave up on him (vv. 21-28).

If God’s people would have celebrated Mother’s Day back then, Hannah would have experienced joy and grief jumbled into a big lump of hope-filled heartache.

Motherhood includes a mesh of emotions and moments worth celebrating and mourning.

Hannah’s prayer reminds me how much more appropriate it feels to wish people a hope-filled Mother’s Day.

Though her scars of sorrow ran deep, Hannah sang: “There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2)

She prepared a gift for the son she would embrace and release, celebrate and grieve, visit and leave . . . year after year after year (1 Samuel 2:18-20).

With our eyes on the Lord and our hearts completely surrendered and secured by the surety of God’s proven faithfulness, we can move forward in faith when life can’t be explained by pat answers.

“The LORD brings death and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up.” (1 Samuel 2:6).

Motherhood, a beautiful yet complicated and priceless gift, wraps us in an array of feelings we never realized we could experience.

Thankfully, the Lord remains unchanging, sovereign in power and unlimited in love and grace.

God was enough for Hannah. God is enough for us.

When Mother’s Day or any day doesn’t feel very happy, we can rejoice in Christ’s sacrificial love for us. We can rest in the peace of His constant and almighty presence.

We can thank the Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer, for empowering us to move forward in faith with hope-filled hearts today and every day.

Lord, thanks for loving us, for knowing our names, and for caring about our deepest needs. Please bless the women who are longing for children, mourning children, and trusting You with their wandering children. Please bless the women who are at peace with Your decision for them to be childless, for women who have adopted or fostered children, and for those of us who are doing the best we can to love the children You’ve entrusted to us. Please be our peace, our strength, and our joy, as we lean into Your endless grace and spread Your truth and love with hope-filled hearts today and every day. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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Please join me in sharing this post and praying for those who need to experience a Hope-Filled Mother’s Day.

To God be the glory, the honor, and the praise!

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From Hopeless to Hopeful: The Voice of Hope Series

MEME - Psalm 77 v 11

(Suggested Reading – Psalm 77)

During a flare-up a few weeks ago, I suffered severe muscle spasms and nerve pain that triggered a debilitating headache. As the hours ticked by with no relief and the pain increased, hopelessness closed in on me.

Help me, Lord! Have mercy on me! I can’t take it anymore!

I couldn’t think of the Bible verses that had lifted my heart so many times before. I couldn’t remember the attributes of God that had anchored my faith in the One who promises to never change, never leave me, and never let me down.

Curled up in a wah-baby-melt-down, I could barely whimper prayers for mercy so I thanked God for the prayer warriors who, though struggling with their own trials, stood in the gap to pray for me when I had nothing left to give.

Eventually, God relaxed my muscles and wrapped me in a deep sleep. But for the next few weeks I had limited energy. The Lord refreshed my spirit, as I rested in His presence, listened to worship music, and savored His Word in small bites.

Today, I’m still struggling with fatigue and trusting the Lord with my daily battle with chronic pain. I’m reflecting on the overwhelming sense of despair that had smothered me, that feels as if it’s closing in on me during the harder days.

How did I get in the deep, dark pit of hopelessness when I know God is and always will be faithful and trustworthy?

These feelings can tempt me to slink into shame for being faithless, but the Lord reminds me that the valley moments He’s brought me through are behind me. The faith He has authored and is perfecting in my life is still intact. He promises to remain true to His character and true to His Word whenever I face trials.

Was it a hard road? Of course.

Did I feel like giving up? More than once.

Did I truly believe I couldn’t take one more second of suffering? Absolutely!

But even though I felt helpless, I was still praying . . . though some of those prayers were silent tears slipping down my cheeks.

And even though I felt hopeless . . . somehow . . . I still knew my hope was secured in these truths:

God is listening. God is with me. God is the same trustworthy and loving God He’s been and always will be.

So why didn’t I feel like I knew those facts when I was focused on my circumstances and feeling overwhelmed by my suffering?

Because faith has nothing to do with feelings.

Faith doesn’t depend on the way I’m feeling when I’m suffering, the measure of my strength or weakness, or my ability to remember the right verses when I can’t even think straight.

When we’re drowning in despair, the Lord patiently allows us to process without leaving our side, without changing His character, without losing control of the situation.

As I continue to recover from the flare-up, I’m thanking God for being constant and true, loving and faithful and abounding in grace . . . especially when I can’t feel Him, when I can’t see His hand, or recall His words, or even attempt to say I believe.

We’ll all have times when we feel as if our faith is faltering.

Like the writer of Psalm 77, most of us have “cried out to God for help” (v. 1).

“When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted” (v. 2).

As the psalmist struggled through weariness, doubt, discouragement, and hopelessness, he rested in the unchangeable, secure foundation of faith‒God . . . simply God.

When he questioned the Lord (vv. 7-9), he opened his heart and reached toward God’s consistency (v. 10).

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all Your works and consider all Your mighty deeds” (vv. 11-12).

The psalmist turns to praising what he knows to be true, the surety of who God is and what He’s done (vv. 13-15). 

He affirms God’s majesty as Creator and Sustainer of the Universe (vv. 16-19). He remembers that the strong people of faith never relied on their own strength (v. 20).

The psalter is filled with examples of God’s people coming before Him with raw emotions, struggling with suffering, doubting and dipping into despair.

As we read through these verses, we can see where the writer switches from being self-focused to being focused on God and how He’s worked in and through the lives of others who’ve come before him. But we can’t tell how long this process takes.

We don’t have to beat ourselves up or be ashamed of our times of weakness. We don’t have to hide our hurts or shy away from our moments of hopelessness.

During those inevitable difficult times, instead of sinking into isolation, we can reach out to others and ask for prayer. We can pray for others, remembering all God has done and reminding ourselves that the truths we’re proclaiming apply to us, too.

And we can experience the Lord’s power intimately, to feel His grace carrying us through because we cannot possibly imagine taking one more step on our own.

Every breath is a testimony of God’s sustaining grace. Every tear is a prayer caught in His loving hand. Every sob is a song of proclamation that affirms God hears, God cares, God is with us.

Every time a prayer warrior intercedes on our behalf, every time we pray on behalf of others, God proves He remains the same yesterday and today and forever.

When hopelessness overwhelms us, we can inhale a sense of peace.

We can trust God to anchor us to the unfailing hope of knowing Him and knowing He will stay true to His Word and His character no matter how we feel or how long these valley moments may seem.

Lord, thanks for affirming that we’re never too far for You to cradle us in Your everlasting hope. Please give us all we need to trust You one step at a time. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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Walking in Wisdom (A Prayer)

MEME - Proverbs 4 v 5(Suggested reading – Proverbs 4:1-13)

Lord, thanks for Your inerrant Holy Word through which Your Holy Spirit reveals Your infallible truth and unchanging, perfect character.

Please give us listening hearts. Prepare us to submit our wills to align with Yours, as You help us understand and live in loving obedience to Your Word (vv. 1-4).

Empower us to walk in wisdom and courageous faith, Lord (v. 5).

Please help us give up everything that hinders us from surrendering our all to You, no matter what the personal cost (vv. 6-7).

Help us respect You and honor Your Word, even when the world mocks us and attempts to tempt us into wandering from Your perfect love and the eternal victory You’ve secured for us (vv. 8-9).

Give us ears to hear You, Lord.

Give us the discernment and courage we need to accept Your truth, and the strength and wisdom we need to follow You‒the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6; Proverbs 4:10-11).

Thanks for making our paths lead straight to You.

Strengthen us, fueling our confidence with Your promised care (vv. 12-13).

Though the road ahead often feels long and seems overrun with weeds of discouragement and doubt, You are our sure hope.

We need You. We praise You. We worship You, Lord.

Please continue to make Your presence known as You empower us to believe You and walk in Your wisdom, one brave step at a time.

In Jesus’s name,

Amen

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When Mother’s Day isn’t as Happy as the Messages Available in the Card Aisle: A Mother’s Day Prayer

MEME - Proverbs 31 v 30 - Happy Mother's Day

Thank You, Lord, for creating moms and showing us how to love moms through Scripture.

Please help us to remember moms are people who fall short, people who have been hurt and who have hurt others, people who do the best they can to love, people who need You. 

 

Help us recognize one another’s brokenness and need for grace.

 

Thank You for those beautiful, loving relationships between mothers and children.

 

And thank You for those more complex relationships, like mine with my mom, that were made beautiful through the refining fires of conflict, through trials that led us down hard paths to Your healing grace made possible through our individual relationships with You, Lord.

 

Even if we don’t have a good relationship with our moms or if we’re moms who don’t have good relationships with our kids, for whatever reasons, please help us honor one another and pray blessings over each other.

 

Please help us experience Your love so intimately and completely that we will be forever changed.

 

Help us love You and receive the fullness of Your love for us, so that we can surrender and allow You to help us love like You love, forgive like You forgive.

 

And help us serve one another selflessly and generously, like You served Your disciples when You‒the King of Kings and Lord of Lords‒knelt to wash their feet.

 

Please give us wisdom and courage to say the kind and affirming words we’ll wish we would have said to our moms while we were able to see their smiles, on this side of eternity.

 

Even if the other person is not ready to receive our love, our forgiveness, or our grace, please help us to choose to love You by doing our part to make peace without feeling responsible for how the other person responds.

 

Please, Lord, love on those precious ones who have broken relationships or unresolved conflicts with their moms.

 

Please love on those who are grieving because they don’t have their moms with them today.

 

Please love on those who don’t know their moms but long for that relationship.

 

Please love on those who have been hurt by their moms, those who are trying to figure out how to love their moms in a healthy and holy way, those who aren’t ready to take that first step toward reconciliation or even that baby step toward making peace without reconciliation.

 

Please love on those moms who long for better relationships with their children, for those who want to forgive but are struggling, those who want to apologize but don’t know where to start.

Please love on those who are aching over the loss of children and those still waiting to be blessed with a child.

 

Please love on those whose mother and child relationships are even more complex than those we’ve placed before You today, Lord.

 

You know every detail and are able and willing to help us. So, we ask for Your help today, Lord.

 

We need You. We can’t love without You.

 

For those who are hurting this Mother’s Day, for whatever reason, please be our peace as You shower us with Your unconditional and life-transforming love.

 

Help us open our hearts to You and trust You are always with us, always loving, always listening, and always enough.

 

Please bless our families with Your healing and restoring grace, in Your perfect timing and in Your perfect way.

 

Help us trust You as we accept our mother and child relationships will not look like any other person’s mother and child relationship.

 

And through our intimacy with You‒Loving Savior and Redeemer‒we can relate to others in a way that honors You and brings us peace.

 

May You be glorified as Your power is magnified through our weaknesses, especially when we’re facing a Mother’s Day that isn’t as happy as the messages in the card aisles.

 

In Jesus’s name, Amen

 

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In honor of my beautiful mama, Martha.

 

Mom, I thank God for allowing us to experience the heartaches that brought us to Him and eventually deepened our relationship with one another. I will always miss you and am grateful for the last four months God allowed me to serve as your caregiver, the last four months He allowed me to know you as a person, not just my mom.

To read more about my mom, check out “What I Wish I Would Have Said to My Mom.”

 

Photo taken by and meme created by Xochitl E. Dixon.

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Thanks for Listening, Lord! (A Prayer)

MEME - Psalm 116 v. 1 - Photo by Linda Newsome(SUGGESTED READING – Psalm 116)

Thanks for hearing our voices, Lord (v. 1).

You’ve proven Your faithfulness time and time again.

You’ve revealed Your great love for us, demonstrating patience and grace even when we’re impatient with You.

Thanks for caring about every sob that pours over our lips and every silent cry triggered by the pain we can’t put into words.

Thanks for delighting in every song of praise we sing to You and every whispered prayer of thanks we offer You.

You invite us to be honest with You as we process our emotions. You never minimize or ignore our feelings.

And You always, always respond in love, mercy, compassion, sovereign goodness, and wisdom.

How can we ever thank You enough, loving and dependable Father?

When we can’t see You working or understand Your purpose, when the wait or suffering feels unbearable, and when we can’t even begin to imagine any good coming out of our situation, You−Almighty and Sovereign God−will always make Your presence known and offer to carry us through.

And we can trust now and forever, Lord.

You will be available when we need to call on You all the days of our lives (v. 2).

You are gracious and righteous and full of compassion, Lord (v. 5).

You are our Protector and Rescuer, our Refuge and Good Shepherd (vv. 6-9).

Please give us the desire and diligence to seek You daily in the treasure of Your Holy Word, made accessible by Your Holy Spirt, who lives in us and empowers us to live for You.

Give us ears to hear You clearly and hearts to love You by obeying You, one day at a time.

We can do nothing without You, Lord. Nothing.

Thanks for listening, Lord. Thanks for reminding us You really do care.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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Photo taken by and used with permission from Linda Newsome.

Meme created by Xochitl E. Dixon.

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The Perfect Planner

MEME - Isaiah 25 v 1 - Photo by Dee Reeves Bright

(SUGGESTED READING – Isaiah 25)

All-knowing and all-loving Father, thank You for assuring us that You are and always will be the one and only Perfect Planner.

No matter what changes we might face in life, we can be certain that every detail has been sifted through Your loving grace and purposed for Your glory.

You’ve placed flagstones before us, paving the way through every victory and every trial, so that we can be equipped for the plans You’ve designated for us.

Exalted One, adoring and faithful, Almighty God, thank You for demonstrating Your sovereign goodness through Your wonderful works (Isaiah 25:1).

You deserve our honor and reverence, Protector, Provider, and Lover of the needy (vv. 3-6).

You’ve made us victorious in light of Your love, defeating death, destroying despair and disgrace (vv. 7-8).

Though there are times when sorrow will overcome us, You gently wipe away our tears, compassionate and good Shepherd.

We need You.

We can trust You, because You loved us so much that You saved us (v. 9).

Even when we didn’t know we were lost, when we didn’t know we were hopeless, when we didn’t know what we were missing, You loved us and remained steadfast.

Thank You, Lord, for never giving up on us, even when we rejected You, doubted You, and fought You tooth and nail.

Please break down the walls of our pride, so we can discover the freedom of total surrender, the beautiful joy and peace found in placing You before our wants and above ourselves.

As we seek to know You more, please secure our faith in Your faithfulness.

You are our God!

No matter how hard the road is, no matter how high the mountains seem, or how wide the rough-terrain of the valleys, we can trust You’ve planned and purposed every twist and turn to make us more like You.

Oh, why do we doubt You, loving Savior?

Forgive us for our unbelief, as You help us walk with fierce faith.

We praise You, the one and only Perfect Planner, who was and is and always will be the same yesterday and today and forever−Christ, our Lord.

In Jesus’s name, Amen

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Photo taken by and used with permission from Dee Reeves Bright.

Meme created by Xochitl E. Dixon.

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Loving God with All We’ve Got!

MEME - Deuteronomy 6 v 5 - Photo by Myriam Acfalle

(SUGGESTED READING – Deuteronomy 6:1-25)

Lord, You are good. You are loving. You are kind. You are Almighty King, Good Shepherd, and Wise Counselor.

Thanks for Your commands, the wonderful boundaries of love You’ve established to protect us and guide us straight toward the center of Your will (vv. 1-3).

You are One, the One True God−Father, Son, and Holy Spirit−blessed Trinity (v. 4).

Please help us praise You and serve You with a heart-deep-love that chooses You first and places You above everything and everyone else.

Help us worship You with a soul-deep-love that reaches beyond the things of this world.

As we walk by faith, please help us remember You are the unchanging One who has ordained our every step, every breath, every moment of this wonderful life You’ve entrusted to us.

Please help us live in obedience to Your Holy Word by the power and strength of Your Holy Spirit.

Give us opportunities to share Your truth and love wherever You place us.

Empower us to stand firm on the faithfulness of who You are, who You were, who You always have been, and who You always will be  (v. 5-12).

You are the only True God, the only One who can satisfy us, the only One who can know us completely, the only One who can enable us to love You by living for You (v. 13-25).

Help us live in the power and freedom and hope of remembering who You are, what You’ve done, and what You’ve promised.

Your eternally-ordained passionate love for us ignites our love for You, Lord Almighty.

We love You with all we’ve got.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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Photo taken by and used with permission from Myriam Acfalle.

Meme created by Xochitl E. Dixon.

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Love’s Greatest Gift (A Prayer)

MEME - John 3 v 16 - Alan's Cross Photo - Crosswinds Church - Feb 2017(SUGGESTED READING – John 3:1-21)

Father God, there are no words grand enough to capture the depth of our gratitude for who You are and all You’ve done . . . all You’ve done for the sake of Your love for all the people You’ve created in Your image.

Sometimes it’s easy to minimize, or just not think about, the magnitude of what You did when You chose to put on flesh and dwell among us.

Thank You, Father, for sending Jesus−fully God and fully Man, born as a babe, grown to manhood, and now reigning as the Risen King and the only High Priest who understands everything we could possibly experience in our human frailty.

Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, He who dwells in us when we repent, surrender our lives and accepting Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

Too often, we ignore the Holy Spirit when He nudges us toward Your Word.

We shy from reflecting on the immensity of Your suffering from the moment Your beautiful holy feet touched this dusty earth You created . . . to the moment You ascended back to Your rightful Heavenly throne.

You willingly took our place on the cross, paying the cost for our sins of yesterday, today, and even tomorrow.

Your love endured the punishment meant for us−sinners in need of saving−as You loved even those who beat You, mocked You, spit on You, and hated You.

Forgive us for the moments we whisk past the Good News as if it’s old news, Lord.

You, Heavenly Father, gave Your only Son−Love’s greatest gift−so that those who believe in Him will have eternal life.

Please don’t let us ever forget that eternal life begins now, with the privilege of knowing You personally, interacting with You intimately, and living for You abundantly.

Please create new hearts in us, hearts that love the Light, that love Your Truth, that live to love others like You love . . . because You first loved us.

We are Your beloved ones, Lord.

Do what You will, Father, and help us trust Your enduring love . . . yesterday, today, and forever.

In Jesus’s name, Amen

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Photo taken by and used with permission from my amazing husband, Dr. W. A. Dixon, Sr.

Meme created by Xochitl E. Dixon.

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Your Love is More than Enough, Lord!

MEME - Psalm 16 v 8 NIV(SUGGESTED READING: Psalm 16:1-11)

All-knowing Creator, Provider, Protector, and Lover of our souls, thank You for being a good, good Father.

As we abide in You, lean into You, and rest in the peace of Your constant presence, we are safe. (v. 1)

Please give us the courage required for stillness, as we breathe in the scent of Your dependable love.

All we have in this world is worthless without You, Lord.

We need You, and You alone, to experience the deep-rooted satisfaction and contentment that leads to an abundant life of joy. (v. 2-4)

We can count on You to guide us and provide for us, as we place loving You, following You, honoring You, and living for You above all things. (v. 5-6)

Mighty and merciful Lord, thanks for affirming we can call on You and expect answers. (v. 7)

When our hearts are tempted to wander, please secure our footing in Your unchanging and infallible Word.

Preserve us in courageous and confident faith in Jesus. (v. 8-10)

We are Yours, Good Shepherd and Wise Counselor.

Please align our hearts with Yours so that we can proclaim with joy, “Your love is more than enough, Lord!”

Hallelujah!

In Jesus’s name, Amen

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Photo taken by and meme created by Xochitl Dixon.

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A Love Worth Singing About

MEME - Psalm 89 v 1(Suggested Reading: Psalm 89:1-8, NIV)

Adoring and kindhearted Father, selflessly caring Savior, and intimately tender Wise Counselor, Your love is so worth singing about.

Even when we’re pitchy or our voices crack, even when we can’t find the perfect words, when we encounter You personally we can’t help but praise You and proclaim Your perfect love to the nations, to every generation (v. 1).

When we look to the heavens we see proof of Your eternal love.

You paint the skies with reminders of Your unending adoration and faithfulness, yet Your devotion can never be contained, never be fully grasped (v. 2).

Your attention to detail, Your creativity and dedication to designing beauty that none can equal or effectively capture are wonders to behold.

A glance toward the horizon affirms Your dependability, Lord.

You show up as consistently as the sun You make rise, the moon You make shine, and the earth You make turn on its axis.

You direct the wind and control the waves, while maintaining the vastness of the universe You created and sustain.

Each detail of Your glorious creation assures us we can never be out of Your infinite reach, never escape Your loving presence (v. 5).

The wisps of clouds, the radiance of the sunshine, the landscapes too marvelous to be fully appreciated, all speak of Your limitless and incomparable love (v. 6).

Mighty King of Kings, faithful Father, awesome God, You are worthy of all our praise, all of our reverence, respect, and unadulterated love (v. 7).

No love satisfies like Yours, Lord Jesus. Nothing and no one can compare with You.

Yet, You invite us to know You personally, to love You intimately. You fill our empty hearts with devotion that never runs dry (v. 8).

Your compassion and mercy flow endlessly.

Your great love covers us, hems us in, and wraps us up in a refuge sculpted and secured by Your unchanging faithfulness.

Thank You, Lord, for loving us first, loving us completely, loving us even when we struggle with loving ourselves.

Please help us receive Your love without question, without doubt, without hesitation, as we declare Your love is worth singing about, worth living for, and worth returning with all we’ve got.

In Jesus’s name, Amen

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Photo taken by and meme created by Xochitl E. Dixon.

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