Your Heritage of faith YouVersion Devotional

“You Are the Apple of God’s Eye”
Have you ever felt unloved, unaccepted, and worthless? Perhaps you’ve even said something like this to yourself: “I’m not attractive,” “I can’t do all the things others can do, ” or “I’m not smart enough.” Perhaps you’ve felt insecure about your lack of education, your personality, or your life in general.

If you are battling with thoughts of worthlessness, inferiority, or low self-esteem, then today is the day to let go of all negative thoughts and insecurity. How do you get rid of feelings of insecurity that may have been with you all your life? By realizing you are a valuable masterpiece in the eyes of God. In fact, if God had to choose the finest thing He ever created, He’d pick you. Yes, you!

Psalm 139 says, “For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (verses 13-14 NKJV).

As you come to accept the truth of how special you are to God, all negative thoughts about yourself will begin to disappear. You can rest securely in God, knowing that you really are loved and accepted by Him—just the way you are.

Truth Confession

I thank you, Father, that I am perfectly made in the image of Christ. You have known me since you formed me in my mother’s womb, and I am the apple of your eye.

10 Botanic Gardens You Can’t Miss in the U.S.

Whether you’re trying to beat the summer heat beneath the leafy shade or escape the winter cold inside tropical greenhouses, botanical gardens are a popular year-round destination for locals and visitors alike. Here are our picks for 10 botanic gardens you can’t miss in the U.S.

United States Botanic Garden, Washington D.C.

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Congress established the oldest continually-operating garden in the United States on the National Mall in 1820. This botanic garden in the nation’s capital has been wowing visitors without a break since 1850. It moved to its present location in 1933 and today, one of the most popular attractions of the garden is the Conservatory. Don’t miss the stunning orchid collection here — you won’t find anything else like it in the country.

Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix

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The essence of the Sonoran Desert has been distilled and transplanted to Arizona’s largest city in the form of the Desert Botanical Garden. Towering cacti and delicate, drought-tolerant flowers are allowed to shine against the red earth of the Papago Buttes and it’s quite a splendor to see. Take a flashlight tour to witness the night-blooming plants in all their glory, or visit around Christmas when luminarias light the pathways.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Papaikou

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The “Garden in a Valley on the Ocean” as it calls itself can be found not far from Hilo on Hawaii’s Big Island. The fertile volcanic soils on this 40-acre valley support over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees. Wander the garden’s nature trails through a tropical rainforest and over trickling streams to enjoy magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean.

New York Botanical Garden, New York

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This 250-acre botanical garden on what was once the Lorillard family estate is free to enter on Wednesdays like its neighbor, the Bronx Zoo. With around a million tropical, temperate, and desert plants, this botanical garden is every amateur gardener’s dream. You’ll find it’s worth paying the additional entrance fee to check out the collections housed in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, a Victorian-style, wrought iron-framed greenhouse made of glass.

Portland Japanese Garden, Portland

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The Portland Japanese Garden during autumn or koyo season dazzles as much as the fall colors of New England. Japanese maples flame in hues of orange, russet, and crimson. The structural elements of the garden — its bridges, tea house, and stone pathways — add authenticity and oriental serenity.

Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta

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Comprised of a number of smaller themed gardens, the Atlanta Botanical Garden occupies 30 acres in the middle of the city. Highlights include the formal rose garden and the rainforest room of the Dorothy Chapman Fuqua Conservatory. One of the Botanical Garden’s most innovative features is a 600-foot-long skywalk that extends into the Storza Woods 40 feet in the air — affording visitors a unique vantage point over the trees.

Harry P. Leu Gardens, Orlando

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You probably associate central Florida with theme parks rather than horticulture, but Harry P. Leu Gardens is an oasis of tranquility in downtown Orlando. The garden was gifted to the city almost six decades ago and since then, this comprehensive collection of azaleas, bromeliads, roses, and camellias shaded by camphor, elm, and oak trees has attracted a loyal following amongst locals.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Santa Barbara

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As part of the American Alliance of Museums, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is as much a living museum as it is a garden. The impressive 78-acre site is planted with over 1,000 rare and indigenous species from towering redwoods to colorful California poppies. Five miles of scenic trails provide access to the gardens and breathtaking views of the San Ynez Mountains and Santa Barbara’s Channel Islands beyond its boundaries.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Dallas

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Texas does things on its own scale and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is no exception. Sixty-six acres of land bordering the southeastern shore of White Rock Lake in Dallas are preserved for horticulture. Highlights include the infinity pool at A Woman’s Garden, the McCasland Sunken Garden, and the vivid colors of the Nancy Rutchik Red Maple Rill.

Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver

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Twenty-four gloriously gardened acres lie within Cheesman Park in the heart of the Mile High City. Gnarled bristlecone pines, native grasses, cottonwood borders, drought-tolerant perennials, and succulents showcase the variety of species found in the state. In addition, native flowers and shrubs from as far as South Africa and Japan complete the planting. The Denver Botanic Gardens is worth a look.

Enthusiastic advocate for independent travel and passionate geographer, Julia considers herself privileged to earn a living doing something she loves. When not roaming the globe, you’ll find her windswept but smiling, chatting away to her two dogs as they wander the Essex marshes.

MY OUTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

The Missionary’s Goal

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He…said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem…”  Luke 18:31

In our natural life our ambitions change as we grow, but in the Christian life the goal is given at the very beginning, and the beginning and the end are exactly the same, namely, our Lord Himself. We start with Christ and we end with Him— “…till we all come…to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:13), not simply to our own idea of what the Christian life should be. The goal of the missionary is to do God’s will, not to be useful or to win the lost. A missionary is useful and he does win the lost, but that is not his goal. His goal is to do the will of his Lord.

In our Lord’s life, Jerusalem was the place where He reached the culmination of His Father’s will upon the cross, and unless we go there with Jesus we will have no friendship or fellowship with Him. Nothing ever diverted our Lord on His way to Jerusalem. He never hurried through certain villages where He was persecuted, or lingered in others where He was blessed. Neither gratitude nor ingratitude turned our Lord even the slightest degree away from His purpose to go “up to Jerusalem.”

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Matthew 10:24). In other words, the same things that happened to our Lord will happen to us on our way to our “Jerusalem.” There will be works of God exhibited through us, people will get blessed, and one or two will show gratitude while the rest will show total ingratitude, but nothing must divert us from going “up to [our] Jerusalem.”

“…there they crucified Him…” (Luke 23:33). That is what happened when our Lord reached Jerusalem, and that event is the doorway to our salvation. The saints, however, do not end in crucifixion; by the Lord’s grace, they end in glory. In the meantime, our watchword should be summed up by each of us saying, “I too go ‘up to Jerusalem.’ ” From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition

Bible in One Year: Song of Solomon 1-3; Galatians 2