August 30, 2015

About Tonya Ellison

Tonya Ellison — Blog Contributor
Tonya comes to us from Rio Rancho, New Mexico where she lives with her four favorite people, three kids ages 4, 6, and 9, and her husband of seven years, Jamel. Her hobbies include writing and reading, crocheting, and spending time with her family. She earned her BS in Human Services/Management and works as a Bereavement Counselor.

Do Something


I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
He said, “I did, I created you”

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It’s alright, “Somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire
I don’t want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
“I’m gonna do something”

We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill (shine, shine, shine, shine)
But we’re never gonna change the world
By standing still
No, we won’t stand still
No, we won’t stand still
No, we won’t stand still 

Singer/Songwriter: Matthew West
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This song seems more relevant in today’s society than ever before.  You cannot turn on the news, get on Facebook, or even have a conversation with a friend without hearing about something negative.  I know that as Christians we are called to make a difference, but there are times in our lives when we do not know what that difference is.  We don’t know exactly what we’re supposed to be doing in this troubled world.  
I’ve often asked God “What am I supposed to do?”  This song answers that question for all of us; we need to do something.  Whether it is large or small in our eyes, we need to step forward and do something.  Whether it be our home, our job, in the community, in the church—we all have a place.  And I’ve learned that there is no place that is more important than the other.
Dear ladies, please take the words of this song to heart.  We have been tasked with, we have been blessed with the opportunity to make a difference—a difference that will give glory to God.  It is easy to become discouraged and feel as if we are such a small part of life…how could we make an impact?  But we have to remember that we have a power behind us that is unmatched.  God is our strength.  
Next time you think about the difference you were called to make, take time to pray.  Connect with the One who gave you the task in the first place.  He will give you clarity and direction.  We are His hands and feet and we are called to do something.
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Dear Heavenly Father, the idea of stepping out and doing something can be daunting.  We are Your hands and feet, but sometimes we don’t know what that is supposed to look like.  Thank You for Your guidance and direction. Thank You for trusting us to do something.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Washed by the Water


Daddy was a preacher
She was his wife
Just trying to make the world a little better
You know, shine a light

People started talking
Trying to hear their own voice
Those people tried to accuse my father
Said he made the wrong choice

Though it might be painful
You know that time will always tell
Those people have long since gone
My father never failed

Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water

Even if the earth crumbles under my feet
Even if the ones I love turn around and crucify me
I won’t never ever let You down
I won’t fall, I won’t fall, I won’t fall
As long as You’re around me

William Rinehart, Nathaniel Rinehart

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School started in our home last week with three little ones off to learn and grow.  I try to find teachable moments with my children that will help them face the trials and lessons that come in elementary and middle school—and there are more than I would like to count.  Daily it seems as if the kids come home with a story of a situation (not always involving them) that they have knowledge of.  Because of the amount of negative stuff around them I always try to teach them that God is always with us.  And that He never leaves us. But, driving to work listening to this song, I realized that this is not just a lesson for my kids…it is a lesson for all of us.

Whether we work inside the home, outside of the home, are retired, or whatever situation we find ourselves in, we are surrounded with an overwhelming amount of stuff, that we need to be reminded that ‘even when the rain falls, even when the flood starts rising, even when the storm comes, I am washed by the water’.  And that despite how overwhelmed we may feel, that we will never fail as long as God is on our side.

So as I remind my kids (and as I remind myself, and as I remind you):

  • despite what the world may look like
  • despite who is talking to hear themselves talk
  • despite the attempts Satan makes to stop us…

God is on our side.   He is our strength.   He is our Living Water.

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Dear Heavenly Father, You are our Strength and You are the Living Water, with You we can never fail.  The world may try to tell us one thing but Your promises tell us another.  Let us take comfort in You and in Your Word.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

More Than You Think I Am


You always think I’m somewhere on a mountaintop
But never think behind bars
You’d be amazed the places that I go
To be with you, where you are

So forget what you’ve heard
What you think that you know
There’s a lot about Me
That’s never been told

I’m more than you dream
More than you understand
Your days and your times
Were destined for our dance
I catch all your tears
Burn your name on My heart
Be still and trust My plan
I’m more than you think I am
More than you think I am

Rumor has it there’s a gavel in My hand
I’m only here to condemn
But let Me tell you secrets you have never known
I think of you as My best friend

So much has been said
Even done in My name
But I’m showing you now
Who I really am

Let me open your eyes to see
The heart of Me, differently oh oh
Come closer than you’ve ever been
Let Me in like never before
Bring Me every broken part
The wounds and scars of who you are
Hide in Me and you will see

Danny Gokey
written along with Bernie Herms and Tim Nichols

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I am amazed when I think of how much we limit God.  How often we fit him into a small description and doubt the extent of His love for us.

I first heard this song several weeks ago and the words truck my heart.  What we think of Him is not what He is, it’s not who He is.  We place Him on a mountain far away, we make Him out to be a judgmental character waiting to catch us in a mistake.  When in reality He is here, next to us, mirroring our steps; wanting and waiting to love us.  Wanting us to take everything to Him, every fear, every worry, and every moment of joy.  Big or little, He wants it. Let the words of this song warm your heart; remember that He is more than we think He is, He is bigger than we think He is.  He loves harder and stronger than we think He does.  He is everywhere.  He knows everything and, despite that, He wants us.  Wants us to trust Him and draw near to Him.  He is more than society tells us He is and He is more then we feel He is at times.

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Dear Lord, thank You for being the more we need.  Thank You for giving us more credit than we give You.  Thank You for forgiving us for placing limitations on You.  Remind us daily that You are more, You are the more we need in our lives.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Beauty For Ashes


I thought I would not make it
My mind, my strength, was gone
Everything in my life came crashing down
I felt so all alone

Now I’m lookin’ at my life in broken pieces
Oh, what, will I do now
I want to trust You but I just don’t know how
And right before I threw in the towel

God turned it
And gave me
Beauty, for ashes

My storm would not move on
My nights, they lasted so long
There was, no sign of my morning
I wanted to give up

But You wouldn’t let me be
You came and set me free
I came to You with my pain
And we made an exchange

God turned it
And gave me
Beauty, for ashes
He turned it and gave me
Beauty for ashes
God turned it
And gave me
Beauty for ashes

The worst thing in my whole life
Became the most beautiful thing

The most embarrassing thing that brought so much shame
Became the most beautiful thing

And like a baby that’s born, all the pain and dirt
Became the most beautiful thing

For, He turned it

 Tye Tribbett

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…and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.
Isaiah 61:3

I heard a saying yesterday, “When life fights, it doesn’t fight fair…”; how true is this?  Things often happen that we do not expect.  We fall, we fail; and at times we look around and see only ashes.  Ashes of relationships, of friendships, of hopes and dreams.  Life can be ugly.  But God… Despite the ugliness that life can bring, the beauty that God brings overshadows it all.  The love and restoration that God brings changes our ashes into something wonderful.  When we feel we have nothing left and our fight is gone, He is in our corner shaping our lives, directing our paths.  We don’t always see it in the moment.  But take a minute and look back. Look at your storms, your difficult times. How did God turn it around, how did He orchestrate the situation to raise you up and show His power and love…?  You may be going through a situation now, there may be a storm raging, but take rest in the fact that God is working.  Take rest in the fact that God will turn your ashes into something beautiful.

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Let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for doing something no other can do.  Life is full of ashes and only You can turn them into something beautiful.  We take peace in your words.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Sinking Deep


Standing here in Your presence
In a grace so relentless
I am won
By perfect love

Wrapped within the arms of heaven
In a peace that lasts forever
Sinking deep
In mercy’s sea

I’m wide awake
Drawing close
Stirred by grace
All my heart is Yours
All fear removed
I breathe You in
I lean into Your love
Your love

When I’m lost You pursue me
Lift my head to see Your glory
Lord of all
So beautiful

Here in You I find shelter
Captivated by the splendor
Of Your face
My secret place

Your love so deep
Is washing over me
Your face is all I seek
You are my everything

Jesus Christ
You are my one desire
Lord, hear my only cry
To know You all my life

Hillsong Young & Free
Songwriters: Joel Davies and Aodhan King

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(We had the opportunity to see this wonderful group in concert a couple of months ago; the experience was awesome.)  I was working on some things this morning, and felt unrest start to creep in.  Peace is something that has been on the top of my priority list for the last year.  It seems that the more I sought it…and removed things from my life that threatened our peace…the more attacks we felt.  So this morning, when I began to feel unsettled, I started searching for songs…music has a way of reaching areas of the heart that other things can’t.  This song not only creates a sense of peace with the relaxing music, quiet strength, but the words penetrate the difficult place you may find yourself in.  Knowing that we can bask in His love and grace and that He removes all fear and replaces it with peace and His overwhelming love.

Take time this morning to rest in Him.
Rest in His love, mercy and grace.

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Let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the artists who create these beautiful songs. Songs that remind us of how deeply You love us. Songs that remind us of Your grace and mercy. Lord, I pray that today You wrap Your arms around us, and that we remember You are always near. In Jesus’ name, we pray, amen.

If We Are The Body


It’s crowded in worship today
As she slips in trying to fade into the faces
The girls teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know
Farther than they know

But if we are the Body
Why aren’t His arms reaching
Why aren’t His hands healing
Why aren’t His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren’t His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way
There is a way, there is a way

A traveler is far away from home
He sheds his coat and quietly sinks into the back row
The weight of their judgmental glances
Tells him that his chances are better out on the road

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the Body of Christ

Casting Crowns
Writers: Mark Hall, John Mark Hall

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Now you are the Body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:27

I often wonder about this topic…. I wonder what my part is in the Body of Christ, and I know others wonder as well.  Knowing we are part of the Body is not the concern—instead I struggle at times to know my place.  We have a membership event at our church on Sunday; we have been going to this church for three years but have never ‘officially’ joined.  One requirement for joining this church is picking a ministry to work with. My question leading up to Sunday has been, “Where am I supposed to be? Where in the body of Christ can I glorify Him to the fullest?”

This song offers only two examples of hurting people.  There are so many more, so many that need support, and so many that need to be lifted up. We are His hands, we are His feet, we are His Body. Whatever capacity it may be in, this is how we need to approach the situation. I will continue to pray for direction when it comes to where I need to be…and I will also pray that you find your place if you haven’t.

There is so much work that needs to be done for the Kingdom of God,
and it is going to take each and every one of us to do it.

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Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You give direction and guidance to all of those searching for a place in Your body.  There is so much to be done and, as You said in 1 Corinthians 12:27, each one of us are a part of it.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.



There’s got to be more
Than going back and forth
From doing right to doing wrong
‘Cause we were taught that’s who we are
Come on get in line right behind me
You along with everybody
Thinking there’s worth in what you do
Then like a hero who takes the stage when
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late
Well, let me introduce you to amazing grace

No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The Cross has made
The Cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The Cross has made
The Cross has made you flawless

Could it possibly be
That we simply can’t believe
That this unconditional
Kind of love would be enough
To take a filthy wretch like this
And wrap him up in righteousness
But that’s exactly what He did

Take a breath smile and say
Right here right now I’m ok
Because the Cross was enough
And like a hero who takes the stage when
We’re on the edge of our seats saying its too late
Well, let me introduce you to grace, grace
God’s grace

No matter what they say
Or what you think you are
The day you called His name
He made you flawless
He made you flawless
No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The Cross has made
The Cross has made you flawless

Songwriters: Solomon Olds, Ben Glover, Nathan Cochran, Mike Scheuchzer, Barry Graul, Robby Shaffer, Bart Millard, David Arthur Garcia

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Not just grace, but amazing grace….  The word ‘grace’ has had many meanings tied to it.  It can mean something small or it can mean something large—depending on who you ask, and on what you read.  In my eyes grace is LARGE.  It is the only way we can make it through life.  It is the only way we can be more than the labels assigned to us, more than our past, more than our imperfections.  I always find it amazing that God loves me past who I am; well past who I see myself to be and definitely past who the world sees me to be.  He really sees us as flawless.

I was watching the video for this song and I imagined God’s grace in our life—removing the paint, removing the sin and the hurt and the pain.  I imagined Him seeing us as flawless.  He makes us flawless.  His love, shown through the Cross, wiped us clean.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…”. Without God’s grace I don’t know where I would be. I don’t know who I would be.  What I do know is that I don’t have to worry about that.

This reminder is written in my heart and mind (and in my planner and journal)…

The day you called His name
He made you flawless
He made you flawless
No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars….

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Let’s pray:  “No matter the scars,” Lord.  You love us through who we are and despite who we are.  Thank You for seeing us exactly as You created us to be.  Thank You for making us flawless in Your eyes.  Please help us to remember on a daily basis that we are so much more than we can see at times.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.



I know that you think you can’t pray after that mistake
But I know it’s the only way you can make it better
And I know situations get too much for you to take
And you feel like you’re gone break and it makes you say

I can’t take it
When will things get better
I’m so frustrated, but it’s gonna be okay ’cause
Got Someone in your corner
Gonna be there for ya
Just fall on your knees, say a prayer and receive
When the world feels like it’s on your shoulders
(I pray, you pray, we pray)
When your life seems like its upside down
(I pray, you pray, we pray)
When your lonely nights are getting colder
(I pray, you pray, we pray)
I pray, you pray
(No matter how dark the day)
No matter how dark the day
(All you’ll have to do is pray)

I know you think you’ve gone too far and you waited too late
But I know that He loves you and there’s no love greater so
And I know that it’s hurting and you want your pain to end
And you feel like you can’t win and it makes you say

Our Father which art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
All you gotta do is say
Our Father which art in Heaven
(No matter how dark the day)
No matter
(All you’ll have to do is pray)
When the world feels like it’s on your shoulders
(I pray, you pray, we pray)
When your life seems like its upside down
(I pray, you pray, we pray)
When your lonely nights are getting colder
(I pray, you pray, we pray)
I pray, you pray
(No matter how dark the day)
No matter how dark the day
(All you’ll have to do is pray)
No matter
Pray, pray

It’s gonna be okay
We’re gonna be okay
It’s gonna be alright, have faith
Everything will work out

CeCe Winans
written along with Mario Winans and Michael Jones
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Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

Life is full of changes, situations, and circumstances that are out of our control. Life is full of unpredictable events and unpredictable people.  Through all of the changes and unknowns there is one constant that we can count on…and despite all that we cannot control, there is one thing we can control—our prayer life. We have the ability and power to turn to God at any time…any place.  As Philippians says, in every situation we are to pray.

I chose this song today because it reminds us that prayer is happy.  Although all songs about prayer are beautiful and touch the soul, many are geared more towards worship.  They have slower music and a softer tune which creates an atmosphere that helps us feel the words and feel closer to God.  This song, however, is more of a praise song.  The upbeat tempo and beat helps pull us from our feelings and situation at least for a time.  It is easy to feel down at times when we are dealing with life’s situations, but we don’t have to stay that way.

No matter how dark the day…. This song reminds me that despite what is going on around me, I can enjoy life. I can dance to the music I hear, I can laugh, I can smile.  Despite the things  I cannot change and cannot control, I can control how I react to it, and how I see my life.  Today I choose to pray.  I choose to dance.  I choose joy.  Join me in singing the words of this song, in feeling them in your heart and in living them each day—

in everything pray.

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Let’s pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, it is easy to get sucked into the feelings surrounding our life and our circumstances.  But today we choose to pray, to lay our lives at Your feet.  Your Word says to pray in every situation, large or small, no matter how dark the day, You will listen.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

This Is The Stuff


I lost my keys
In the great unknown
And call me please
‘Cause I can’t find my phone

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that’s getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I’m blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I’ve got to trust You know exactly what You’re doing
Might not be what I might choose
But this is the stuff you use

45 in a 35
Sirens and fines
While I’m running behind

So break me of impatience
Conquer my frustrations
I’ve got a new appreciation
It’s not the end of the world

Francesca Battistelli
Songwriters: Tony Wood, Ian Eskelin, Francesca Battistelli

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If I had to choose one word to describe my life, I would have to choose the word ‘busy.’  But within the busy of my life is a fair amount of routine—certain things happen at certain times each week, tasks need to be completed over and over again, kids need to be fed, clothes need to be washed, bills need to be paid.  My busy can become very mundane.

Earlier this year I heard something that has stuck with me.  I don’t remember where I heard it, or who said it, but God has been shining a light on this theme consistently: ‘Find beauty in the mundane. ‘  The everyday happenings, the losing of keys, the washing of clothes…find beauty in it all.

I had a client tell me the other week that she loved ironing.  I’m sure I gave her a confused look, because she followed by saying that there is something about taking a wrinkled piece of fabric and working with it until it becomes something beautiful.  Now, I’m not going to say that I look at the pile of clothes needing to be ironed and see a work of art…but I understand what she is saying.  It is so easy to get pulled into frustration and irritation when we think of doing the things we truly dislike but that still need to be done. Whether it is work, or home, or church, or any other responsibility, there will always be a level of mundane we will be working with.

The days when I’m rushing to work, the days when I am struggling with motherhood and with being a wife…there is some mundane that life can be sometimes, a lot of the time.  All of these are tools God uses to show us who He is, to show us His love, to show us how blessed we truly are.  I can’t help but to wonder why I cannot find beauty in the mundane. Who said that I can’t look at a dirty kitchen or living room and see the beauty I can make of it, the beauty I can bless my family with.

As a counselor we’re taught to help our clients re-frame, or, look at their situation from a different perspective.  We have to help people think of ways to see the world and their situations differently.  But God!  But God gave us a book filled with ways to see the world as He sees it.  Verse upon verse about learning to love the mundane.  I am going to make an intentional effort to look at life differently, and consider what God might be using to speak to me….

Might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

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Let’s pray: Lord, help us to see beauty in the mundane.  Help us to see You in the ins and outs of daily life.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Good Morning


Wave away my yesterday
‘Cause I’m leaving it behind me
Hello sunshine, come what may
I feel something new inside me

I hear the birds singing
Now my alarms ringing
Get up, get up

It’s a good morning
Wake up to a brand new day
This morning,
I’m stepping,
Stepping on my way
Good morning,
You give me strength
You give me just what I need
And I can feel the hope that’s rising in me
It’s a good morning

Slow down, breathe in
Don’t move ahead
I’m just living in this moment

I got my arms raised, un-phased
Jump out of bed
Gotta get this party going

I went to bed dreaming
You woke me up singing
Get up, get up

Now I’m smiling, and I’m kissing all my worries goodbye
Got the feeling, if I spread my wings I might even fly
You are my truth, my way
Give me the strength to say
Get up, get up, get up
‘Cause it’s a good morning

Hey, top of the morning to you ‘disa
You smoothie, me ice cold pizza
Cafe au lait, latte dah
You do the zumba, but I do not

Give me like half a marathon
I’ll give you the Gospel of St. John
Hits me like a wake-up bomb
Cuz’ we both know that His mercy flows
In the morning

Mandisa and TobyMac
Songwriters: James Moore, Aaron Rice, Cary Barlowe, Mandisa Hundley, Toby McKeehan

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  • We got a new puppy.
  • A puppy is like a baby.
  • My baby will be 7 this week.

So our daughter did very well in school this past year and she asked if she could get her own dog. We have 2 large dogs, but she has been desiring a teacup dog of her own. We agreed that she could have a puppy if she earned the money and purchased it on her own. Well she did…and this week Miss Zailey arrived at our home.  A puppy is like a baby…cute as can be, but needing much attention. I have been awake at least three times each night since our new addition has arrived. Our daughter is doing a great job, but I know she needs more sleep than I do so I’ve been helping with the early morning care. This morning at 2:12, I can assure you that “Good Morning” was not on my lips, I was not ready to start my new day, and I was not jumping out of bed with my arms raised. Our youngest son will be 7 next week and I am not used to this…at all… This morning at 5:10, a frustrated 12 year old woke me, she wasn’t feeling well, and the puppy wanted to play. So we played. As I sat in the living room I looked at this little alarm clock and thought about my plans for the day. So much to do, and now it will be done on less than 4 hours of sleep.

At that moment I had a choice; how I approach my day is my choice. And I chose to approach it with joy. God woke me up. Albeit tired, but I’m awake nonetheless. Today my worry was lack of sleep due to a puppy. Yesterday it may have been different, but despite what my worry is, this morning is a good morning. It’s a brand new day, a brand new morning, how are you going to approach today?

Despite what you may be facing
God has given you the gift of life on this day.
He will give you strength…
He will give you just what you need.

 *  ~  ♥  ~  ✞  ~  ♥  ~  *

Let’s pray: Father God, thank You for mornings, for new beginnings, and for fresh starts.  You said You are our strength, and today we may need that strength more than ever.  We stand strong on Your promises, and I pray that each and every woman here sees beauty in today.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.