We are going to talk about “impact” soon, but first… it’s story time! Last Friday, I hopped in my car to go grab my son from school. This is always an exciting surprise for him; namely because my wife typically picks him up from school due to my work schedule.
Instinctively, I started the car, adjusted my seat, buckled my seatbelt, and began checking/adjusting my mirrors… rearview first, then side view, then one last check in the rearview. That’s my routine. On my latter rearview check, my eyes widened–there was something exciting heading in my direction… The FedEx truck!
Note: This is not a paid advertisement for FedEx… Although I would gladly collaborate with them lol.
As the FedEx truck approached, my anticipation and excitement continued to grow! It was finally time!!
What’s the point??
I’m sure by now you are just waiting for me to reveal what I got in the mail right? What heartfelt gift (or hilarious prop for my silly antics) had I ordered this time??
Welp, I hate to disappoint you, but I was neither expecting nor receiving a package that day.
So why was I so excited? What was I anxiously waiting for? What is the point of this blog??
Ok, I’ll tell you! I was waiting for the FedEx driver to say, “hello!” Seems weird huh? Let me explain. There is this one FedEx driver who delivers in our neighborhood that ALWAYS greets us with a warm smile and wave. It’s like I have known him for years! He even tacks on a “see you tomorrow!”
He used his platform to leave an impact!
As the excitement grew, I realized how impactful his simple “hello” is on my day… My life. I realized how his smile, wave, and “see you tomorrow” actually makes me look forward to greeting him and having a brief yet impactful conversation the next day.
I neither know his name, where he’s from, nor his background. However, I do know he is using his platform (FedEx driver) to positively impact others’ lives–with a simple smile and wave!
So I encourage you; you do not have to be the strongest, the smartest, the wealthiest, or the most famous to impact others’ lives. YOU [we] have the power to positively impact others regardless of how big or small our platform is.
Remember this: The size of the audience doesn’t matter. The size of the impact does!
This week, let’s make a conscious effort to positively impact EVERYONE we encounter. Here are just a few examples of ways you can use your platform:
Donate to charity or someone in need.
Help a friend create a midterm exam study guide.
Help someone refine their resumé.
Visit a friend in prison or visit one of our elderly in the nursing home.
Purchase someone’s groceries or meal.
Allow someone to merge in front of you during busy traffic.
Support a small business or an indie author (I know a guy that writes children’s books… Me…. I’m the guy😁) either by spreading the word or making a purchase.
Smile, wave, and say, “have a great day!”
We have the power to positively impact others’ lives! Let’s do it!
This is me in high school. Aside from the fact that I was about to dribble through a double team instead of passing the ball to the big man who had the clear size advantage; if you look closely, you will see the beginning stages of my mohawk!
My dad and Coach Johnson (assistant principal) HATED it, and their hate for my mohawk peaked when I spiked it! 😂 They were right. It was hideous and definitely outside of our high school uniform regulations. They talked to me for MONTHS before my dad finally got through to me. He taught me to look, dress, behave, and groom myself to be the person I want to be in the future vice whoever (or whatever 🥴) I was trying to look like at the time.
Moral of the story: Keep trying. Keep pushing. Keep teaching. Keep investing time. Don’t give up! It’ll pay off in the long run.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Rejection does not rival success. It reveals the true fighter within.
So there I was; working on a new blog post titled, “Responding to Rejection,” when my brother (Dr. Clement Ogunyemi) posted the below on his Instagram page:
This was so powerful to me that I had to share! Dr. Clement used a simple but extremely effective tool to turn a negative circumstance into a teachable moment. Anyone else have any tools and/or stories like this?
In short, his oldest son (Ethan) was not accepted into the National Elementary Honors Society; something Ethan really wanted. So, Dr. Clement used this as a teachable moment and opportunity to encourage his son.
Moral of the story: whether you are teaching a toddler to stack blocks, introducing geometry, or helping a juvenile parolee find a job, remind the child that they CAN! We believe in them! Rejection is not the end, it is motivation! 💪🏾
As a new author, there is no greater honor than to have an industry giant like Marilyn Sadler send you a positive review on your book!
Who is Marilyn Sadler? (For those who don’t know)
I’m glad you asked! (I borrowed this from Amazon.com)
With a degree in art, Marilyn always assumed she would be an illustrator. But when, early in her career, she was presented with an opportunity to write, she seized it and quickly discovered that she had found her true love. No sad, sappy stories for her, however. She likes to make herself laugh and with that her characters usually end up looking pretty silly for one reason or another.
Her first children’s book featured a fastidious little English boy named Alistair Grittle and was originally created for the English publisher, Hamish Hamilton, as well as for Simon & Schuster in the United States. Having created a boy with such perfect behavior, she then turned her attention to a not so perfectly behaved little boy. His name was P.J. Funnybunny, and he has existed for many years in a series of books for Random House, including highly prestigious spots in the Dr. Seuss Cat In the Hat series.
Marilyn’s television credits include two PBS Reading Rainbow programs featuring Alistair, an Alistair program for the BBC, three ABC Weekend Specials featuring P.J. Funnybunny, and a show based on her children’s book, “Elizabeth and Larry”, for Showtime’s Shelley Duvall’s Bedtime Stories.
Between 1999 and 2004, The Disney Channel produced three Original Movies based on Marilyn’s book, “Zenon, Girl of the 21st Century”. Each of Disney’s Zenon movies had exceptionally high ratings, with “Zenon, Girl of the 21st Century” and “Zenon the Zequel” among the highest rated shows in the history of The Disney Channel.
In 2004, Playhouse Disney began production on Marilyn’s animated series, “Handy Manny”. “Handy Manny” premiered September 16, 2006, as the highest rated Playhouse Disney series premiere of all time. Since its debut, “Handy Manny” has averaged approximately 2 million viewers a week, has generated consistent critical acclaim and has developed a deeply loyal audience.
In 2009, Marilyn was nominated for an Emmy Award as Executive Producer of Handy Manny in the category of “Outstanding Special Class Animated Program”.
In September of 2015, Eric Comstock and Marilyn’s Charlie Piechart mystery-math series was launched by Harper Collins Publishers with the release of their first book, “Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice”.
What did Marilyn say about Crow From the Shadow?
Ok, now for the good stuff–the review!
“I loved Crow From the Shadow and found its powerful message to be incredibly moving. What Crow loves, enjoys and envisions for his future is in stark contrast to what his shadow wants for him, which is a life devoid of joy. You can feel Crow’s love and passion for life and then the sadness that follows when he doesn’t listen to his heart…until the end, when he rises up and takes his life back. It takes true bravery for children to overcome the shadow’s voice, but Olaolu Ogunyemi has written this beautiful and empowering book to help them navigate “life’s hills and curves”. Joshua Ogunyemi’s dramatic images and bold colors convey the heaviness of living in a world devoid of joy until the moment Crow moves forward in his life and takes control. It is then that the heaviness is lifted, the images and colors lighten up, and a feeling of hope, for a life full of possibilities, is returned!”
Buy the paperback or download the eBook here, and leave your own Amazon or Goodreads review! I would love to know what you think.
Also (after numerous requests), I am excited to announce that we are releasing a special edition hardcover version soon!! Stay tuned!
Dillon Stokes is the “the rose that grew through the crack!” Raised by a single mother, Dillon has done his best apply himself and overcome any obstacle that comes his way. As a result, Dillon has maintained above a 4.0 Grade Point Average, and he was accepted into several universities, including LATech and Grambling State.
Dillon attributes his success to his faith in God, and his active participation in several departments at Praise Temple Full Gospel Baptist Church Ruston is how he shows his gratitude.
Ashton Jackson knows how to overcome adversity through persistence and resiliency! Active in clubs at Lincoln Preparatory School and his local church, Ashton has learned to apply the resiliency he has built throughout his life to excel at school. A gentleman and a scholar, Ashton knows how to get the job done!
What is the Wisdom, Strength, and Endurance Scholarship?? 🤔
The Ogunyemi Family Foundation, Inc. established the Wisdom, Strength, and Endurance Scholarship to provide underrepresented minority students the opportunity to pursue higher education by alleviating and/or eliminating the financial barriers to the student’s success. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.7% of 2016 high school graduates had enrolled in college by October 2016. The college enrollment rates of African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos during 2016 was 58.2% and 72% respectively. Lower income students can only afford to attend roughly 3% of colleges in the U.S. without a loan.
The scholarship seeks to award students who have triumphed in the face of adversity, not allowing circumstances to separate them from achieving their dreams! 💡
There is no greater oxymoron for people-loving extroverts (like me) than “social distancing!” Society has adopted this methodology to keep us safe, but I—like most—miss sharing the love of God through a warm embrace.
What if I told you that there is a type of “distancing” that [ironically] can actually cause us harm? That is a distant relationship with our heavenly Father.
There is hope! Join us in this four-day devotion as we discuss how to defeat three daily distractions that distance us from Christ!
Be Free from Condemnation!
We are currently living in unprecedented times! We have wildfires, a pandemic, social unrest, and the list goes on and on. During these times we may feel a bit distant from Christ—I know I have felt that way plenty of times. In fact, there were times that I felt I really wandered away from Christ! Is that you right now? Do you feel like you are too far gone to pray? Are you so overwhelmed with your guilt and shame that you cannot feel the love of God? Are you having a hard time connecting through God’s Word because of mistakes you have made? I understand; I have been there.
The last time I was in that moment—sulking in embarrassment and guilt—God freed me through His Word by reminding me of His grace, love, and compassion. So I have a quick opening message for you even if you are feeling distant right now—our heavenly Father loves you unconditionally,and He still wants a relationship with you!
Before we can learn to defeat distractions, we must be free from our own condemnation (very strong disapproval; punishment) and truly understand and embrace God’s love for us. Let’s talk about God’s love for a bit.
God’s love is free(ing):
Ephesians 2:8 AMP tells us, “For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God.”
I absolutely lovefree stuff! I know most people call me cheap, but don’t judge me. For example, one day while I was in college, I ordered food at a drive-thru restaurant. I was very excited to get my go-to budgeting college student value meal. When I approached the window to pay, the young lady said, “Your meal has already been paid for.” I would’ve done a flip in excitement if I were skilled enough to do so without injuring myself. “Wow!” I thought, “Why would a stranger give me a free gift?”
When I reminisce on that day, I realize how happy that free meal made me (I saved about $3), but when I think about the free gift that Christ gave us (He saved my life) exuberant joy begins to overwhelm me. What’s amazing is Christ gave us this free gift because He loves us and this undeserved gift frees us from the oppression (control) of and judgment associated with sin. Now that’s a double-double to get excited about! So don’t beat yourself up when you mess up. Ask God for forgiveness, brush yourself off, and be free!
God’s love is unexplainable:
John 10:11-18 reminds us that our heavenly Father has given us an unexplainable (and seemingly illogical) love. Imagine this, you are sitting in an open field watching sheep. The weather is beautiful, and you are basking in the sun while enjoying an ice-cold cup of lemonade. Out of nowhere, a wolf comes to take one of the one hundred sheep you are watching! I know what you are thinking, “well, 99% isn’t bad!” I mean really, who wants to fight a wolf for that one sheep? The Good Shepherd does.
He is always willing to lay down his life for us and will even leave the ninety-nine to save the one [wandering] sheep (Matthew 18:12)! My human mind cannot comprehend that kind of love, but I am extremely grateful that Christ is willing to sacrifice for you and me!
God’s love is unconditional:
Now this aspect of God’s love is truly amazing! We humans tend to have a limit when dealing with others. “You better not cross my [proverbial] line or it is over…dead…finito. You will henceforth and forever be excommunicated from my life!” Yep, God is definitely not like us, and here comes the amazing part: in God’s eyes nothing can separate us from His love!
Paul asks in Romans 8:35 NLT, “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” Then he answers in verse 39, “No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Read it again! No matter where you are from or what you have done, nothing can separate you from the love of God!
Walk confidently today as you embrace God’s amazing grace and love! Never again condemn yourself for your mistakes—instead embrace the free, unexplainable, and unconditional love of our heavenly Father!
Heavenly Father, thank you for the free, unconditional love that you have given us. Though we can never truly comprehend it, we know that your love and grace is what allows us to be free from the crushing oppression of sin. Father, please forgive me for the things I have done that were not pleasing to you, and help me to overcome the temptations that arise today. Father, thank you for removing the guilt, shame, and condemnation from my life and preparing me to grow closer to you. Amen.
Distraction #1: Worry!
“Will my family get sick? Am I doing all I can? What will we eat? What do others think about me?…” If we are honest, some of our minds continuously reverberate with these kinds of questions daily! The second our feet touch the cold or carpeted floor in our bedrooms, our minds begin to race. Usually this race persists until we finally return to bed at the end of the day. The unfortunate truth is our minds naturally dwell on difficulty and troubles which distract us from the important things in life like developing our relationship with God, family, and friends! So let’s take down our first distraction–worry.
When I began meditating on this topic, three scriptures immediately came to mind. First it was Matthew 6:27 NLT that asked, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Then, Proverbs 12:25 NLT reminded me that “worry weighs a person down.” Lastly, Jesus told us in Matthew 6:34 NLT “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
The Word is abundantly clear about worry, and we all know that increased worry causes increased anxiety which causes increased mental and physical health concerns…So why do we worry? Why don’t we simply adopt the infamous meerkat and warthog duo’s slogan and lifestyle? (You’ll catch the reference at some point throughout the day.)
Well, I will start by sharing how I [falsely] justified my worry:
A little worry combined with fear is my instinctual way of emotionally preparing for the worst outcome. I am like a gazelle on a Safari! My worry and fear keeps me from being consumed by the lion (life). Right? WRONG. Along with the increased physical and mental health risks, worry was increasing my paranoia. Simply put, my physical presence was not a “gift” to my heavenly Father, family, friends, and work colleagues because I was so busy worrying about being consumed by life that I was not building healthy relationships and enjoying life!
My worry allowed me to thoroughly analyze a situation to develop a well-rounded solution. Solid logic right? WRONG. Worry primarily focuses on the “difficulties and troubles” (negatives) associated with a situation; thus, my perception and analysis is skewed to focus solely on the negative outcomes.
Those are my [busted] myths associated with my worry. Take some time to examine your own myths… then bust them!
Now that the jig is up and we have eliminated our excuses to worry, let’s answer the million dollar question: “How do we combat worry?”
The million dollar answer is that we must fully understand and appreciate this fact: You are what you THINK!
A fairly recent study following tens of thousands of people from 2004 to 2012 found that those who were optimistic had a significantly lower risk of dying from several major causes of death, including: heart disease, stroke, cancer (including breast, ovarian, lung, and colorectal cancers), infection, and respiratory diseases.
Sounds like a pretty clear answer to Matthew 6:27!
The study concluded that several proven benefits of thinking positively include:
Better quality of life
Higher energy levels
Better psychological and physical health
Faster recovery from injury or illness
Lower rates of depression
Better stress management and coping skills
Longer life span
I’ll take the benefits please!
Now that we understand the importance of positive thinking, how do we put it into practice?
Make a concerted effort to focus on positive things. This is a tough one for us because sometimes you just want to sulk. In my personal life, I found a way to justify sulking. I felt that I deserved to be frustrated and disappointed! “Coincidentally” my Pastor emailed me to remind me that though the overall circumstance may appear to be negative, I can choose to dwell on the negative aspects of the circumstance or fix my thoughts on the positives. Yep, it is a choice!
Try this! Write down three positive things about your current circumstance! Even if the list starts with “I am breathing,” celebrate the fact that you are still alive with an opportunity to make it through this circumstance with an amazing story to tell!
Practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude has been proven to reduce stress, increase your self-esteem and the self-esteem of those around you, and foster resilience amongst you and your inner-circle. Every day, find no less than three things to thank God for (and thank Him) and find no less than three things to thank others for (and thank them). When offered an opportunity to complain and criticize, thank! When you think of the positives, thank for the positives.
Now that you have recognized and shown gratitude for the positives, create and maintain a gratitude log. Label it, “People and Things I am grateful for.” I know. I know. It sounds corny, but it works! Maintain your log in a place you visit often, and keep focusing on that growing list.
Open yourself up to humor. Laugh a little! I heard someone once say, “if you’re happy and you know it, tell your face.” We cannot allow life to beat us down so much that we walk around like a bulldog eating lemonheads (just picture that for a second–maybe that was your laugh for today). Take out time to enjoy the pleasures of life. God has always intended for us to enjoy the pleasures of life. I mean, think about how beautiful the Garden of Eden was! We were designed to be happy. So take a second, look in a mirror (or prepare for a selfie with your electronic device), and make the biggest smile you can! Now let the brightness of that smile, your positive thoughts, and your attitude of gratitude melt the negativity away!
Check your inner-circle! You are who you hang with. In the country, the old folks would say “if you hang with stray dogs, you may catch fleas!” Spend time with Positive Paulas versus Debbie downers. Think back to my story about my Pastor. Had he begun to sulk with me and feed my negative thoughts and emotions, I may not have survived that circumstance. Remember this, Debbie Downers wallow in defeat, while Positive Paulas bask in triumph!
Start off on a positive note by practicing positive self-talk! Instead of beginning with worry, begin with a prayer, devotion, meditation, and affirmation or declaration that you will have a positive day. Then carry that declaration with you throughout the day. As you walk into a situation that appears negative, say to yourself (or aloud if you’d like) I will see the positive in this! Still have that mirror or selfie handy? Let’s try this right now! Smile, say something positive about yourself, and make the declaration that, “I will see the positive in every situation!”
I believe that these steps will not only eliminate worry, but these steps will also foster a more healthy relationship with God and everyone you come in contact with!
Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to see another day and meditate on your Word. You are truly our source of happiness and strength. We pray for your forgiveness for failing to see your beauty in every circumstance, and we ask you to help us to fix our thoughts on you! In Jesus’ name. Amen
Distraction #2: Need to Disconnect
Now that we are free from condemnation and we have kicked worry to the curb, let’s talk about another distraction that becomes more complicated everyday. A lot of us are Distracted by the need to Disconnect.
So I had to do some self-reflection to prepare for this one, and I ask you to join me. Take out your phone, tablet, or whatever device you use, and list out all the applications that take time from your day. My list went like this: Instagram, Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, XBox Live, Zoom, Marco Polo, GroupMe, LinkedIn, news app, weather bug app, and Gmail. Wow!
That was alarming to me because there are still only 24 hours in a day (and I spend about 16 of them either sleeping or working)! With that in mind, I felt a little better because my research told me that I am not alone. In fact, a recent study showed that the average American checks their phone 96 times a day or once every ten minutes. To compound the issue, social distancing and quarantines have given us an even more insatiable desire to remain connected and socialize.
It is very apparent how this distraction has caused distance, because, as I said before, there are still 24 hours in a day!
So how do we disconnect so that we can focus on God? Well, I will start by saying, we talk/socialize too much and oftentimes, it is done in the wrong way.
The right to speak is important; saying things at the right time in the right manner is even more important. Proverbs 13:3 says, “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.”
So how do we defeat this distraction?
Watch your words. Words matter because words mean things. Proverbs 15:1 NLT “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
Say less. Connect less. Be Wise. (Proverbs 17:27 NLT) “A truly wise person uses few words…”
Words are like dollar bills. They should be spent wisely because we cannot take them back. Yep, that means even on social media…especially on social media! I am not saying we should not socialize/connect, but when done in excess, it drives a wedge between us and God. Simply put, we just don’t have time for God.
Don’t look like a fool. Mark Twain said it best, “Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” Because we are so connected, we often find ourselves caught in constant debate (most times publicly). Which leads me to the last tip to fight this distraction:
Three T’s to check before you speak: Time… Type… Tone
Time: Is it the right time to speak or should you just be quiet?
Take inventory.How much of your time have you spent socializing in comparison to growing your relationship with God?
Type: Ephesians 4:29 NLT says, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
What kind of Conversations are you having?Are you giving encouraging words to everyone you encounter?
Tone: Are you addressing the situation in the best manner possible? Are you using the “gentle answer” described in Proverbs 15:1
Think about these things and challenge yourself to disconnect from the rush, rat race, and rigamaroo of life. Disconnect from distractions so you can reconnect and build a healthy relationship with God.
Father, thank you for your grace, mercy, and kindness towards us. We realize that busyness, drama, and life circumstances constantly pull us away from you, and for that, we apologize. Father, give us the strength, wisdom, and wherewithal to disconnect from the many daily distractions we encounter so we can connect to you. Thank you for continuing to love us! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Distraction #3: You are what you eat!
Don’t worry, this isn’t health 101 where I judge you for your vice in the kitchen. Quite honestly, I don’t do as well as I should when it comes to eating right–whether in reference to physical food or mental food.
While I was meditating on this topic, I John 2:15-16 NLT became the focal point of my devotion. It says, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.”
So what is the Bible telling us? Does this mean we cannot enjoy the pleasures of this world? Of course we can! In fact, God desires that we laugh, eat, and enjoy life! So what is the Bible saying? The Bible is telling us to avoid becoming enamored with the physical pleasures of this world. In other words, we should pursue our purpose in God and the upbuilding of His kingdom. Though enticing, pursuing physical pleasures distracts us from achieving what God wants us to achieve and drives a wedge between our relationship with Him.
In my moment of self-reflection, I realized while I am distracted by my continuous craving for/pursuit of the physical pleasures of this world (like great food, accolades, keeping up with the Joneses, and being the “first to know”) I could be praying in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Staying alert and being persistent in my prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:18 NLT). While I am constantly seeking to obtain my oral fixation, I could be doing what Jesus instructed us to do in Mark 9:29 KJV when He healed the boy that was possessed. Fasting, praying, and meditating on Christ is critical to building a close relationship with God! While I am constantly feasting on the negativity of the media, I could be “Fixing [my] thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think[ing] about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 NLT
What we eat, becomes who we are. The “old folks” used to say “you are what you eat.” Meaning, choosing to enjoy healthy physical and mental food increases energy, increases brain function, and increases your better overall mood.
But what happens when you feast on negativity? It leads to spiritual:
Indigestion: We reject wise advice and biblical teachings and turn to “strange doctrines” for hope and guidance.
Heartburn: Our hearts are burning with anger, rage, and hatred for others instead of burning with compassion for the poor, widowed, and sick.
Diarrhea of the mouth: Instead of being silent and patient, we are quick to vent our anger/frustration and our disdain for others. While slow to talk to God.
I Corinthians 6:12 NLT does an excellent job of summarizing this last point by saying “You say, I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.” We must choose to avoid becoming a slave to our appetites! Let’s pledge to make sound choices with the physical and spiritual food that we enjoy.
I am confident that if we apply the basic principles that we have discussed the last few days to our lives and avoid these distractions, we will begin to live more healthy and whole lives, build better relationships, and most importantly, draw closer to God. I am excited and proud that we serve a God as described in one of my favorite songs, “there’s no shadow He won’t light up, no mountain He won’t climb up coming after me. There’s no wall He won’t kick down, no lie He won’t tear down coming after me!” I said all of that to say, with all of our daily distractions, our loving Father is still there, waiting on us to reconnect with Him. So my question to you is, will you defeat these distractions and reconnect with God?
Father, we honor you, we praise you, and we thank you for your Word. Thank you for being a great God! Now Father we pray that over the next few days, weeks, and months we become less distracted with our daily lives, and more focused on you. And ultimately Father, we pray that everyone reading these words can feel your unfailing, unwavering, and never ending love. We magnify your Holy and Righteous name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.