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   What a great day this is!  Jessica Rain Summers, age 4, from Lubbock, Texas, was
visiting The Wild Animal Park.  There were tall giraffes, a big, round rhinoceros, graceful
gazelles, galloping zebras, pouncing lions and too many exotic birds to count.  Grandma,
Grandpa, and Cousin Richie
would sure enjoy being here.  Seeing that the animals
were free to roam like in their native lands, there's so much to be thankful for.

Dear God, it's me, Jessica.  I had such a great day today at The Wild Animal Park.  I'm
glad I can talk to you about anything.  I just wanted to thank you for making so many
amazing animals.  It's great having pets at home to hug and keep you company.  But after
today, I can see that there are lots of different kinds of animals from all over the world.  
Thanks you for letting me see that.  Amen.

 Even though Jessica was still sleepy in the morning, going to school to see friends and
learning all kinds of new stuff from the nice teacher was worth getting up for.  The pictures
of astronauts soaring into outer space were real!  Reading about how doctors and nurses
save lives and help broken bones heal was inspiring.  The teacher says we can be
whatever we want to be- as long as we keep reading and studying.  How great is that!

 Dear God, I am so thankful that I can go to school to learn new things.  Thank you for all
the possibilities ahead of me.  Help me choose the one that is right for me.  I love that I
can learn about so many different people and countries, how to add and subtract and see
how insects, birds, squirrels and bears are really important to the earth.  Thank you for
helping me learn about life.  Amen.

 One of the best parts of the day is going to the playground.  Jessica enjoyed playing
kick ball with friends.  This time, a younger child asked to join in.
 "We already have enough!" Jessica shouted, which made the child cry.
 "I'm sorry," said Jessica.  "Would you like to play with us?  There's always room for one
more."
 "Gee, thanks," sniffed the younger child.  "Nobody ever asks me to play."
 "Well, come on then," said Jessica, "Let's have some fun!"

 Dear God, it's me, again.  I don't feel very good about talking to you this time.  I'm afraid I
wasn't very nice today.  I didn't mean it and I said I was sorry.  But I wanted to apologize to
you, God, because I know whenever we're not nice to people, it hurts your feelings, too.  
Please forgive me, God, and help me to be nice more often.  Amen.

 Jessica saw the bright red fire truck with its ladder in a tree!  There were no flames, no
hose and no smoke, but there sure was a rescue going on!  The neighbor's cat was stuck
in the tallest tree on the block and the firefighters were bringing it down.  Everyone
applauded and the owners hugged the firefighters.  They face many dangerous situations
every day and some not so dangerous, but just as important.  Police officers and soldiers
do, too.  We're thankful to have such brave people willing to take risks for us.

 Dear God, I know sometimes you use helpers, like firefighters, police officers and
soldiers to keep us safe.  And they need you help, too, because they do so much to
protect use.  Thank you for these courageous helpers that let me sleep safely in my bed
at night.  Please, God, keep them safe, too.  Amen.

 As the waves came tumbling onto the silky, soft sand, Jessica tried to jump over each
one.  The sun was dancing on the water like little diamonds and just above the smooth
beach, nestled among the grassy dunes were tide pools, full of wonderful sea creatures.  
How could so many wonderful things exist in one place?

 Dear God, you sure do know how to make people smile.  It's pretty cool the way you can
make the ocean so calm one minute, and then have giant waves crashing onto the shore
the next.  Or how you can make grass grow in dunes of sand and give us tall trees for
shade!  Thank you, God, for all this nature, and especially for the warm sunshine so I can
play in it.  Amen.

 Oh, boy!  Jessica can hardly wait for the birthday party to begin.  The decorations are a
rainbow of colors.  All kinds of kids have come.  There are lots of fun prizes to win and
many games to play.  But the best part of any party is getting together with friends.

 Dear God, one of the best things about being a kid is birthday parties.  And I'll bet no one
really thanks you for them.  So I'd like to thank you right now for mine.  I like eating cake
and playing games with my friends.  It's so cool to do fun stuff and be around friends.  
Thank you, God, for giving me so much to smile about.  Amen.

 It was a cold, rainy day and Jessica had been feeling hot and achy.  At least there are
fun pictures on the wall and fun things to do while you're waiting to see the doctor.  It's a
little scary, though, when the doctor gives you a shot because sometimes it hurts.  But the
doctor is only trying to help up get well.  And its fun choosing a toy and getting a sticker
afterwards!

 Dear God, I know you don't mean for us to get sick and have to get shots.  And I sure am
grateful that the doctor helps me feel better.  But sometimes I get scared when I don't
know what's coming next.  Maybe you could make the doctor understand that kids would
rather just have the toy and sticker.  Thanks for giving us doctors, though, to make us well
again.  Amen.

 As Jessica sat down to dinner and saw all the delicious food they were about to eat, it
was fun to imagine how it got there.  The sweet corn from the cornfields and tomatoes,
green beans, onions and garlic all came from vegetable gardens.  The juicy apples and
peaches were picked from the orchards.  Everyday we eat food that is grown in so many
parts of the world.  And food is the perfect thing to share.

 Dear God, thank you for giving me food to eat.  Please bless those who grow and
prepare the food.  Thank you for vegetables and fruits and all the different kinds of plants
we eat.  Thank you for water to grow them and to drink.  And please, dear God, make
sure everyone around the world gets enough to eat.  Amen.

 Families come in all shapes and sizes, sort of like gifts.  The first day Jessica was with
her family was so special.  They were very happy to have such a wonderful gift.  Whether
you are born or adopted into your family, being together is such a blessing.  No matter
what, your family will be there for you.  And what a loving gift that is.

 Dear God, once in awhile I forget to thank you for my family.  It's probably because
sometimes we argue or disagree.  But the really great thing about families, God, is that
you can get mad at each other and then give each other hugs.  You're loved because
you're you, because you're family - and you can love them right back.  I'm glad you made
families, God, all different kinds of families.  And I especially thank you for mine.  Amen.

 Just before Jessica was about to go to bed, the rain started pounding and the gnarly
branches screeched as they rubbed against the windowpane.  The crackle and glow of
the lightning was scary!  The boom of thunder brought goose bumps.  Grandma,
Grandpa, and Cousin Richie
always say that praying helps when you're scared.

 Dear God, it's me, Jessica.  Could you please give the sky a time out?  The loud sounds
and bright flashes scare me.  I know that the rain is good for the trees and grass, so I
guess it's okay, since I like to play in them.  I also know we need water to keep our lakes
and rivers full.  Dear God, thank you for always watching over me.  I'm glad we had this
talk.  I can go to sleep now.  Amen.

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