As the pink-orange sun

slices through the morning haze


I bow my day to You, Lord


I gaze at Your beauty

with new morning eyes


I take in Your love

and I breathe it back


And quiet peace

grounds me to You


The colors of morning

draw me to Your side


and I enjoy You,

my beautiful




– Susie Stewart


Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life.

– Psalm 143:8 (NIV)


For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

– Romans 1:20 (NLT)


Then God surveyed everything He had made, savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness. Evening gave way to morning.

– Genesis 1:31 (VOICE)


Photo by Susie Stewart

Willing To Risk

David walked right out

to meet the giant man


Paul faced persecution head on

in each town he entered


Mary bowed her will

and bravely carried God’s Son


Noah stepped into the unknown

in the face of ridicule and stares




My Jesus resolutely chose to die

for this world of people we live in



will I be a person

willing to risk it all

when God speaks?


Will I bow my will to His?


Will I live my life differently

because of my life in Him?


I will,

by His power


And I am able to step out in faith

because I serve a faithful



– Susie Stewart


David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands… and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give all of you into our hands.”

– 1 Samuel 17:45-47 (NIV)


The dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks.

– Acts 23:10 (NIV)


The angel said to her, “Mary, do not be afraid. You have found favor with God. See! You are to become a mother and have a Son. You are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great. He will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the place where His early father David sat. He will be King over the family of Jacob forever and His nation will have no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen? I have never had a man.” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you. The power of the Most High will cover you. The holy Child you give birth to will be called the Son of God.

“See, your cousin Elizabeth, as old as she is, is going to give birth to a child. She was not able to have children before, but now she is in her sixth month. For God can do all things.” Then Mary said, “I am willing to be used of the Lord. Let it happen to me as you have said.” Then the angel went away from her.

– Luke 1:30-38 (NIV)


Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

– Genesis 6:22 (NIV)


 Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.”

Going a little farther, He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

– Matthew 26:36-39 (NIV)


Photo by Andy Stewart in the Garden of Gethsemane








Our next day was a day of contrasts.  We started out at the Wailing Wall.  It is a relatively small segment of a much longer ancient retaining wall, known also as the “Western Wall”, as a whole.  It is considered holy because of its connection to the Temple Mount.  Jews and Gentiles alike bring prayers written on paper to slip into the cracks of the wall.


Men and women are split into two different sections.  Women actually stand on the plastic chairs sometimes to peer over the little fence that separates.  I did this to get the photo of the men.  It gave me a taste of what it would have been like in Jesus’ day when women worshiped in a separate area from the men.


Many people held their Torahs and rocked back and forth as they prayed and chanted.



This woman caught my attention.  She was crying into her Torah, literally “wailing” quietly, staining the pages with her tears.


The Orthodox, or Hasidic Jews wear mostly all black, and the males have the curled side burns coming down from their temples.


Looking at the photos below, notice the wall that fits adjacent to the wailing wall.  This is part of the Muslim Quarter.  There is conflict because the wall cuts into the Western Wall as a whole and the Jews want access to it.


In contrast, we then went nearby to the security area leading to the Temple Mount, currently controlled by Muslims.  We were told to cover up to the neck and below the knees, men and women.  People who try to come in with tank tops and shorter shorts or dresses are sent to a certain area where they need to buy something to cover up.

We came into this courtyard, mostly barren, with just dirt.  No beautiful trees or flowers.  There were crows cawing and cats walking around.  It was quiet and felt lifeless to me.


A very large mosque that can hold 3 to 4 thousand.


While Daniel was teaching to us quietly, Israeli guards walked in with a Jewish family.  We were told that most Jewish families do not come in here, but certain people insist on it.  They are told by the muslims that they are not allowed to pray.  They are escorted by the Israeli police for their protection and followed by muslim men to make sure they don’t worship or pray.  It was a sobering sight to see.


We were told not to touch each other in pictures and forgot.  We were reminded after this photo.


Chris and Kelly forgot too.  It just comes so naturally.



We headed up the stairs to the Dome of the Rock, a muslim mosque.  It is also the site believed to be where Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Isaac.


The smaller dome structure is called Dome of the Chain and has been used as a place of prayer.



We stopped to watch Israeli helicopters in the distance.


We were walking behind the structures and stopped for Daniel to read a few verses of Scripture.  A man came over to put pressure on us to stop and so we moved on.

Next was the Beautiful Gate.  It was sealed by those who would try to keep Jesus from coming back at that spot.  I think it would take a lot more than stone blocks and metal bars to stop the Lord Almighty.


Women in their head coverings watched as we exited the Temple Mount area.  One stopped Andy to ask where we were from.  When he said America, she said, “May God take care of you.”  We weren’t sure if it was meant in a kind way or not.  It saddens my heart that we don’t speak of the same God.


In contrast, as soon as we left that area (and were able to expose our shoulders and knees) we came upon a beautiful garden.  It was like an oasis after being in the desert.


It was right next to the Pools of Bethesda!  Daniel pronounced it Bet-hes-dah.  The area was so large.  The place where Jennifer is standing next to these stairs all the way to where the people stand in the background had not yet been excavated.


Can you find the weed eater in this photo? 🙂


From the pool area we walked next door to a beautiful stone church.  There we sang praises as a group to our great God of freedom and grace.  The acoustics were the most beautiful I had ever heard.


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From there we traveled outside the Old City walls to the place believed to be where Jesus had communion with his disciples in the Upper Room.  The Last Supper.


Lions’ Gate


Another beautiful view.


The upper room where the last supper took place was at the site of this building.  It made me wonder if the picture in my mind of a quaint home may have been wrong all along.  No one knows for sure.  This church is said to be built over David’s tomb.



Daniel told us that peacocks symbolize eternal life and pelicans symbolize Eucharist (remembering Christ’s sacrifice through communion).  They are both carved into this pillar.


Back through the Zion Gate this time, we traveled through the Jewish Quarter to areas excavated and exposing Roman roads and columns.




This man is a Messianic Jew who has had biblical store for 30 years.


Everywhere we went, we saw adorable children.

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We spent time shopping and eating lunch at a restaurant called The Quarter Cafe which had a spectacular view and delicious food!


We met two men who were biblical scribes.  It takes them about a year and half to print one copy of the Torah with feather quills.


Traveling on from there we went to The Israel Museum where they had a huge replica of ancient Jerusalem.  It was so neat to hear Daniel point out the different areas where we had walked.

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And then the Holocaust Museum.  I had never been to one, and it affected me deeply.  This statue really got me.  It is a representation of Dr. Janusz Korczak who was offered a position as a doctor with the Nazis and he chose to stay with the orphaned children he took care of, all the way to the gas chambers.  After spending many years working as director of an orphanage in Warsaw, he refused sanctuary repeatedly and stayed with his orphans when the entire population of the institution was sent from the ghetto to the Treblinka Extermination camp.  No photos were allowed inside the museum.


A tree planted for each family or individual who helped protect and hide Jews.


Driving back to the hotel I was reminded about how Daniel told us that Jewish families have white water barrels on their homes.  Muslims have black barrels.  Everyone knows where you fit into society by how you dress and the appearance of your home.


A day of contrasts.  A day to ponder.  We know our spiritual struggle is real.  Here in Israel, it is glaringly apparent.

I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.

– Genesis 12:23 (NIV)


Photos by Susie Stewart and Lorie DiSaia








Do you long for someone

to really KNOW you?


Do you wish someone

understood you completely?


The One and only God

who shaped you inside your mother


knows you



And He knows you so well

because He made you the way He did


for reasons and purposes



He breathed life into you

and gave you your own unique








and they could only come

from our Creator,

our Spirit God


He knew

that when He made you


It was good


So when you are tempted

to feel alone

and misunderstood

and less than


KNOW your unique place

in this God Story

eternally told


and let yourself be encouraged

by intimacy Divine


Love deep and sincere


for YOU


– Susie Stewart


Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for My holy purpose…

– Jeremiah 1:5 (GW)


…I have called you by name; you are Mine.

– Isaiah 43:1 (NLT)


O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from Your Spirit!
    I can never get away from Your presence!
If I go up to heaven, You are there;
    if I go down to the grave, You are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there Your hand will guide me,
    and Your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
 but even in darkness I cannot hide from You.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to You.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

 How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    You are still with me!

– Psalm 139:1-18 (NLT)



 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

– Genesis 1:31 (NLT)


Photo by Susie Stewart

But God

I looked at her text

and it gave me pause


“Interesting times here, but God…”



with three tiny dots


And it got me to thinking


about how God is always present

and supremely sovereign


And no matter what…




So I went on a search

through the Scriptures


and found His hand

working in our circumstances

in the middle of our humanness


in the pain

in the joys


in the midst…


But God…

was in

and about

and through

and all over


He is here

and He is aware

and He is at work


in our present circumstances


And no matter what,

our sentence can end

with “but God…”


– Susie Stewart


But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

– Geness 8:1 (NIV)


But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night…

– Genesis 20:3 (NIV)


He said to them, “I see that your father’s attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me.

– Genesis 31:5 (NIV)


But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands…

– Genesis 31:42 (NIV)


“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

– Genesis 41:16 (NIV)


But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

– Genesis 45:7 (NIV)


“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.

– Genesis 45:8 (NIV)


Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you…”

– Genesis 48:21



You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

– Genesis 50:20


Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid…”

– Genesis 50:24



But God did not answer him that day.

– 1 Samuel 14:37


David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.

– 1 Samuel 23:14


But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster.

– 1 Kings 5:4


…For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

– 2 Chronicles 20:15


With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.

– 2 Chronicles 32:8



But the eye of their God was watching…

– Ezra 5:5


But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage.

– Ezra 9:8


But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love…

– Nehemiah 9:17


But in Your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

– Nehemiah 9:31


But God drags away the mighty by His power; though they become established, they have no assurance of life.

– Job 24:22


But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

– Psalm 9:18


But You, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.

– Psalm 10:14



But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; He will surely take me to Himself.

– Psalm 49:15


but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.

– Psalm 66:19


My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

– Psalm 73:26


But God is my King from long ago; He brings salvation on the earth.

– Psalm 74:12


But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

– Psalm 86:15


But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.

– Psalm 94:22


But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by His justice, and the holy God will be proved holy by His righteous acts.

– Isaiah 5:16


But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King.

– Jeremiah 10:10


But God made the earth by His power; He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding.

– Jeremiah 10:12


but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.

– Daniel 2:28


But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.

– Jonah 2:6



Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

– Matthew 19:26


but God knows your hearts….

– Luke 16:15


But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

– Acts 2:24


You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.

– Acts 3:15


But God was with him…

– Acts 7:9


but God raised Him from the dead on the third day and caused Him to be seen.

– Acts 10:40


But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.

– Acts 26:22


But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

– Romans 5:8


But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

– 1 Corinthians 1:27


But God has put the body together…

– 1 Corinthians 12:24


But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us…

– 2 Corinthians 7:6


…I do not know, but God knows—

– 2 Corinthians 12:3



Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow.

– Philippians 2:27



but God is the builder of everything.

– Hebrews 3:4


but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness.

– Hebrews 12:10


Photo by Susie Stewart






we are not meant

to just get through it


to suck it up until it’s over


We are not called to

grit our teeth

and just endure until it’s done




We are meant to THRIVE

to thrive!


And believe it or not

this means


whatever the circumstances


Because no matter what’s going on

on the outside


Your spirit can truly thrive

and grow

and burst light!


When you came to know Jesus

you were placed positionally

next to Him on His throne in heaven


Your inheritance was made secure

your spirit set free


And there are many things earthly

that want to weigh your free spirit down


But because of your position on high

you don’t have to be weighted


You can soar!


You can THRIVE

because of whose you are


– Susie Stewart


Even though you intended to harm me, God intended it only for good, and through me, He preserved the lives of countless people, as He is still doing today.

 – Genesis 50:20 (VOICE)


But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, united us with the Anointed One and infused our lifeless souls with life—even though we were buried under mountains of sin—and saved us by His grace. He raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly realms with our beloved Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King.

– Ephesians 2:4-6 (VOICE)


We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.

– Romans 8:28 (VOICE)


…in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

– 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (AMP)


So we have no reason to despair. Despite the fact that our outer humanity is falling apart and decaying, our inner humanity is breathing in new life every day.

– 1 Corinthians 4:16 (VOICE)


But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength.
They will soar on wings as eagles.
They will run—never winded, never weary.
They will walk—never tired, never faint.

– Isaiah 40:31 (VOICE)


Photo by Susie Stewart




is not a word

God acknowledges


For He is God!

And there is not a thing

that isn’t possible for Him



Believe it



With people,

we don’t dare to ask

for what doesn’t make sense


With God,

He is glorified

in the asking

in the belief

and in the trust


For the impossible


– Susie Stewart


Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

– Matthew 19:26 (NIV)


Everything is possible for one who believes.

– Mark 9:23 (NIV)


Is anything too hard for the Lord?…

– Genesis 18:14 (NIV)


Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.

– Jeremiah 32:17 (NIV)


Photo by Susie Stewart



Breath and Beat

Stop for a moment

and notice each breath you take


Put your hand on your heart

and feel it pulse


Life within you

given by God


Each breath a gift

each heartbeat His to give


You are alive


Are you alive in Him?

Or are you merely existing?


Does His heart beat in you?

Does the Life-Giving Spirit breathe in you?


– Susie Stewart


His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating,
all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things
with a living, breathing light—

– John 1:3,4 (VOICE)


…in Him we live and move and have our being…

– Acts 17:28 (NIV)


God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul!

– Genesis 2:7 (MSG)


For the Spirit of God has made me,
and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

– Job 33:4 (NLT)


He Himself gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need.

– Acts 17:25 (NLT)


I will give them a new will—an undivided heart—and plant a new spirit within them; I will remove their cold, stony heart and replace it with a warm heart of flesh.

– Ezekiel 11:19 (VOICE)


Photo by Susie Stewart


The son

was to be the sacrifice

and the wood was placed on his shoulders

as he trudged up the hill


The father

with heart torn open

was poised to let it all happen


And on the mountain

the son

surrendered his will


and the father

his will, as well


And it was at that dramatic moment

of obedience

that God, the Father of all,

provided the sacrifice


At.  Just.  The.  Right.  Moment.


The son

and the father

were redeemed

by the Lamb


– Susie Stewart


Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith.

“Abraham!” God called.

“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”

“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”

So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.

When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”

“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”

– Genesis 22:1-18 (NLT)


When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

– Romans 5:6 (NLT)


Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

– John 1:29 (NKJV)


Photo by Susie Stewart


So many of us are marveled by His majestic power via His nature; the nature that He created and called “good”, but we so often fail to have that same sense of awe with each other…. He created all of us and called us “VERY GOOD”.  The best of all that He created!  Besides His Spirit that He gave us, WE, ALL HUMANS (no matter race, socioeconomic boundaries, culture, religion, or anything that we have done nor will do), are the closest thing we have to experiencing God Himself. That’s a priority changer huh?  Yes, it’s wonderful and perfectly rigtheous to glorify God by marveling at His nature, but there is so much beauty we are missing in our neighbors, people we pass by every day, and we even miss it in our spouses, family, and best friends.  Convicting huh?  I do it all the time, and if you’re honest with yourself, you do to.  We are made in the VERY LIKENESS OF GOD, let’s start treating each other that way (even if they aren’t perfect like He is).  Yes, I know a tree doesn’t talk back to you, drive slow on the freeway, or act selfishly, but a tree also doesn’t have the capability of deep meaningful conversations, loving you, building you up when you’re down, or making you cheesecake either. People are more AWEsome than we give each other credit for.  Be marveled at someone today because God has already said they are VERY GOOD, and afterall, we ARE made in His image.

– Taylor Bodin


The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

– Job 33:4 (NIV)


Then God said, “Let Us make human beings in Our image, to be like Us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

So God created human beings in His own image.
In the image of God He created them;
male and female He created them.
Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

Genesis 1:26-28 (NLT)


You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.

You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

– Psalm 139:13-16 (NLT)


Photo taken by Susie Stewart