Begin Again

shutterstock_149210354Sometimes you really need a fresh start, a do-over. We humans can bomb this thing called life pretty badly, and then try to cover it up so that no one smells the stink. We smell the stink though, and it causes us to change the way we view ourselves and the way we think our Father views us. And then condemnation creeps in, telling us that we are just too far messed up now and if we are not careful, we will waste precious time wallowing in a place that we were never meant to be.

Romans 8:1 says that “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” After a particularly bad failure on my part one weekend, I was having a hard time maintaining my composure as the lyrics of worship songs saturated me in the love of my Father. I wanted to condemn myself, I wanted HIM to condemn me. Instead, He loved me. Wholly. Two very distinct things He spoke to me during that time. The first was that nothing would ever separate His love from me, and the second was that even Kings, when they fall, are still Kings.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:38

The last several years have been very trying and I feel like I have messed up six different ways to Sunday, but what I feel resounding in my heart lately is to begin again. Start over, start fresh. For some, that just means waking up with a new outlook, a new perspective. For me it means that and more. It means recreating myself, redirecting myself, and allowing a lot more healing from deep within.

This may sound easy enough – beginning again.  Not so easy once the doors start to open and things start to shift. Beginning again requires courage, hard work and a willingness to go where you have never been before. It requires maybe dealing with some things that you thought you had already, and it will also reveal to you, well, you. My failure revealed to me that I was still dealing with some self-hatred. Even though I had grown and healed in leaps and bounds in my walk and in my relationship with the Lord, I was still struggling with some things that I really would not have been aware of otherwise. A friend said to me that things happen sometimes so that the root can be revealed. I truly believe the statements “there is purpose in the pain” and “God doesn’t waste a tear.” He doesn’t.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

In what way might Father be leading you to begin again today? Is there an area of your life that you feel needs a do-over? Give it all over to the God of restoration and allow Him room to make adjustments as He sees fit. We have the gift of getting to partner with God in all of His work, and you can be assured that what miracles He performs in your life you will be able to share with others. Don’t let the emotions of temporary failure and the condemnation of the enemy steal that away from you.

Jamie Stapleton

 

 

Adventure WITH God

1LobbylowWe have some exciting news to share!! We have launched our NATIONAL offices in Hurst, Texas! We are so excited! They are so beautiful we just need to make some final touches and get some equipment in there in the next few weeks and we are good to go! I keep pinching myself I’m SO pumped! We always dreamed of this day happening and it’s finally here.

In January, God spoke to me and gave me a word for Embrace Grace and that was He1Lobby2 wanted us to “get good at what we do.” Not to grow in numbers. Not to broaden our reach. Not to do more marketing or advertising. Just to get good at what we do. Build our foundation strong on the Rock. Lay out the structure, procedures and Him. He told me to seek Him first and He would add all the rest to us. And He did.

2Conference2And of course you know when God gives you a word from Him, He always follows through on it. He has been helping us with the foundation and getting good at what we do. He answered our prayers on HOW in a way that is above and beyond what we could have dreamed up ourselves.

#1 We have new offices! No more driving to each other’s houses to pick up our shipments2Conferencelow
and getting them to fed-ex. No more trying to sound professional while answering the phones when our kids are yelling super loud in the background. No more being all spread out across the metroplex trying to stay in unity while so far apart because we have an OFFICE. I have a desk! I have a comfy chair! This is going to help us as we have meetings, strategize and dream big dreams together.

3SalinaLOW#2 We have an amazing new Chief Operating Officer, Eric Fellman and his wife Joy. They are the sweetest most amazing dream team ever and WE get them. They have captured the vision of the Pro-Love movement and our fully committed to helping us get really good at what we do so we can reach the nation and into the world. On top of being great to work with, Eric has a pretty rock-star resume. His most recent endeavors include living in Washington DC to serve as lay workers for the House and Senate members who present the annual National Prayer Breakfast. While there they travelled to more than a dozen countries to help members of Congress open dialog with their parliamentary counterparts about the life and principles of Jesus. Then a few years ago they moved to Texas as the CEO of World Bible Translation Center which 4Amylowwas later merged with Bible League International of Chicago where he was the President of COO. In 2013 he was invited by the Summit Group to open their non-profit consulting division called “Ascent” where he is the President, serving as a guiding executive to help non profit ministries to grow.

5Volunteer#3 Our national non profit has a close partnership with Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. The elders and pastors mentor us and guide us along the way and are our spiritual covering. Embrace Grace was birthed out of Gateway 6 years ago and because of Pastor Robert Morris and his vision, along with all of the pastors guidance and authority,  Embrace Grace is what it is today. We are so blessed to walk closely and steward this vision God dreamed down TOGETHER. They pray for us, guide us, help us and connect us to the body of Christ. We are so thankful!

Our new COO, Eric said something just a few days ago and it just stuck and I keep 6Eric2thinking about it and LOVE it. We don’t want to just do things FOR God, we want to do things WITH God. We are on this God adventure! We are just creating an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit can do what He wants to do. Our hands and hearts are open and this ministry is not ours, it’s God’s. We just get to steward the vision and get to see all the miracles and God winks along the way! We have our hands in the air and our hair is blowing in the breeze but we are NOT closing our eyes! We don’t want to miss one moment of this adventure!

7Front2We want to go on this adventure with you as well. We would love for you to join the movement by covering us in prayer – for the national offices, the local church leaders, the blooms and everyone involved. We would love for you to join the movement and start an Embrace Grace group at your own local church! You can check out our website on how to start a group. And we would love for you to join the movement by donating to the cause! We want this movement to reach the nation and we need funds to make it happen. Check out our website and make a donation today!

What if every girl that had an unplanned pregnancy had a church to turn to in their most desperate moment? What if every church became a safe place? What if the church was the first place a girl ran to when she found out she was pregnant instead of the last because of shame and guilt? What could happen? What WOULD happen?

Written by Amy Ford 

Beauty Beyond Compare

shutterstock_121046950When you look in the mirror, what do you see? A famous quote reads Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This phrase first appeared in the 3rd century BC in Greek. Many writers like William Shakespeare and numerous others have adapted the saying. What does that really mean exactly? In looking deeper, “it reflects that the perception of beauty is subjective.” (phrases.org) In other words each person sees beauty in a different way, form or fashion. Everyone has their own idea and picture of how beauty is portrayed, revealed and relayed to them.

My hopes are that as you look into the mirror you are pleased and happy with what you see. Sadly some of you may have other opinions. You may gaze into the mirror and wish to see a different view. Someone taller, thinner, shorter, without blemishes or flaws. Less wrinkles here and there. If only you could grasp how beautiful you truly are. To capture the beauty that is deep within you. Beneath the skin. Beneath the layers of buildup and negative thoughts about yourself.

Commercials plaster tons of advertisements with hopes that you will purchase their products and be as flawless as the airbrushed models appear. Magazines are within reach at every grocery store offering the latest and greatest creams and agents for newer, fresher, younger looking skin. These things are all for topical, outer layers of the body. Not applicable for the inner beauty and the true heart that is fashioned within. That is the purest, most rare form of beauty.

All of us are in our own unique season and walk of life. No matter the age between us. One thing is in common. We all long to feel beautiful. The strings within our DNA was fashioned with this desire naturally.

To hear the words echoed in a song You are Beautiful and something sparks inside of you. Are you able to really hear the words and let them sink in, or do they just fall away? I have a close family member that everytime I say you are so beautiful, she shakes her head and says no I’m not… I repeat it over and over and ask her to look in the mirror. She has a really hard time grasping that. You know why? Sadly she has heard the negative thoughts and lies from others saying otherwise. She has a hard time receiving this truth about herself because for so many years she has believed that she is what others have told her. She really is truly beautiful inside and out. If I could say it over and over a million times again and again for her to truly grasp this concept, idea and truth about herself so that she could grab hold and really see for herself this truth about her, I would in a heartbeat. Hopefully one day, preferably soon she will receive this for herself and allow the truth to really sink in so deep and that every time she looks in the mirror she sees beauty. Not in a conceited, vain or prideful kind of way. But in a pure, true heartfelt realization that she is lovely. She is pretty. She is beautiful beyond compare. Inside and out.

She was fashioned and formed with the upmost care and precision when she was created by her Heavenly Daddy. When He looks at her, he smiles and is filled with the deepest sheer happiness knowing that He created her to display his glory and beauty upon the earth. Oh, I pray she can see this. I pray you can see this too! You beautiful one were created, crafted, chosen with the love of our Daddy and He delights in you.

The glow, radiance, life that shines and sparkles within you creates a beauty that is beyond compare.

In pregnancy there is a natural glow that can be seen upon the face and countenance as others look upon. Belly Beautiful! There is a heavenly glow about them. The life they carry within them is precious and priceless. A beauty to behold. Babies are so beautiful in every way. I seem to melt when I am near them. My heart just leaps with joy inside when they are around. In the womb, in arms, everywhere all around the world. Mommies and Babies fill the land with beauty beyond compare.

Today as you gaze at others and look at yourself, embrace the beauty that you behold. May your eyes be opened to see the true beauty within and how God created you. So uniquely. So beautifully. You are lovely. You are worthy.

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others: for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness: and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. Audrey Hepburn

Written by Salina Duffy

Think and Feel Happy for a Healthy Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of life’s greatest gifts. When most women consider what it means to have a healthy pregnancy, most point to eating the right foods, getting sufficient exercise, and taking all of the necessary vitamins and supplements for the baby’s development. What isn’t on this list very often is to remain stress free. During pregnancy, women experience varying emotions. With today’s ultrasound technology, medical practitioners have now determined that mothers are not the only ones affected by those emotions. It just so happens that your baby is reacting to how you feel. Below are just a few examples of how babies react to both your positive and negative emotions when you are pregnant.

Singing Baby

Positive Emotions for Healing and Nurturing

Aside from nurturing your child by carrying it in your womb for 9 months, there definitely is another way that you nurture your child, and that is through positive thoughts and feelings during pregnancy. In a recent article by The Epoch Times, a mother’s communication with her fetus is also through the release of neurohormones. The types of neurohormones that are released are dependent upon your mood and emotions. For example, if you are feeling happy and calm, your baby also receives hormones that reflect those feelings. This leads your baby to share your sense of happiness and calm.

Bonding with Baby

Emotions are extremely powerful during your pregnancy. Apart from influencing your own baby’s mood, emotions during pregnancy also leads to a bond between you and your baby. For example, in two studies conducted at Durham and Lancaster University, researchers took 4D ultrasounds of a pregnant woman and her baby. It was found that when the mother’s felt stressed or anxious, their babies would touch their faces more and alter their facial expression. This suggests that even negative feelings affect your baby just as much as positive feelings. Therefore, by taking care of yourself during pregnancy, you are able to facilitate a positive and loving bond between you and your baby.

Baby smile

Mood Changes DNA

Evidence that your baby feels your emotions during pregnancy does not always need to be visible through neurohormones and bonding. Other evidence that is much more difficult to decipher is the alteration that occurs in your baby’s DNA. For example, when doctor’s conducted 3D and 4D Ultrasounds, medical professionals question if it affected the baby on another level aside from the noticeable. In a recent article, it was found that when mothers experienced positive emotions, their baby’s DNA strands relaxed and changed shape to reflect those positive emotions. On the other hand, when the mother felt negative feelings, the DNA tensed up.

Therefore, due to the advancement of 4D ultrasound, which provides highly accurate imaging of the unborn fetus, mothers and researchers are now able to keep better track of how their behavior affects the fetus in all the ways that are possible. Furthermore, the way that ultrasounds are conducted is also becoming more advance. These advancements, according to Ultrasound Center BabyGlimpse, come in the form of the ultrasound’s ability to provide live recordings that are coupled with audio and imaging. Hopefully, these advancements will allow mothers and medical practitioners to gain an even better and more in-depth knowledge of the link between emotion and pregnancy.

Mitigating Stress During Pregnancy

As a mother, you always want the best for your baby, and it is apparent that providing the best begins while you are pregnant. While pregnant, to ensure the health and proper development of your baby, focus on the positive and try to eliminate feelings of stress and agitation. A few suggestions to manage stress include yoga, support groups, speaking with friends and family, and fostering positive and happy emotions.

Written by guest blogger Matthew Milstead

Keepsakes and Treasures

shutterstock_188837126Art. Pieces drawn, crafted, molded, or shaped by hand. Display of beauty in various ways. The tools used may be colors, paint, pens, paper, paintbrush, canvas, clay and tons more. Creativity at work. Inspiration and uniqueness in the expression of being you. Handmade designs.

I have keepsake boxes of my children’s artwork. Masterpieces created by tiny hands. They have added their own special flair and touches that make them beautiful. Tonight as I look at each box I am reflecting upon them. There is sweet beauty here. These boxes hold keepsakes and treasures that are close to my heart. I wouldn’t want to part with them. They are special and priceless beyond compare. Countless moments they spent in creating these pieces. If I had an art gallery they would be on display for the world to see. Even the tiniest details I would love to display.

As a mother, we love to share the beauty and creativity that our children portray. It is delivered and expressed in remarkable ways. We would raise it high on a banner so that everyone that passed by could get a glimpse of their giftings that God placed within them. Unique. Full of inspiration. Creativity and color. The words they say, the love they share, the uniqueness of who they are. A smile. A touch. A cuddle. A cry. You place those precious things in the pockets of your heart.

Are you aware that God has a display case and gallery of the art you have created?

As a child your drawings and handmade cards and special mementos you made for your parents and friends were designed and crafted. They were special to you because you made them with your own two hands. You handcrafted these pieces and wrapped them with care. Excited to see the look on their face when the art was revealed. They may have said ooohh and aahhh over what you handed them.

God loves to reveal the beauty that is within you. The delivery is unique and special for each and every one of us. Some may be creative in song, poetry, expressions from their heart. God delights in every expression that comes from you. You are His masterpiece. His artwork that He created, fashioned, molded and shaped to display to the world. He treasures you. He delights in you. You are lovely.

As you mother and hold your little ones in your womb or in your arms, art and beauty is beheld there. Expressions from your heart. Moments, keepsakes and treasures are captured in these special encounters. Priceless. Blessings beyond measure.

As I am writing this post I receive a message from an alumni bloom. An expression of art straight from her heart. I felt led to share with you. As an art gallery proudly displays their latest pieces, this beautifully handwritten piece is lovely. It speaks of a mothers heart. The little things.

Tonight I laid in bed thinking about all the things I’ve lost, all the little things that changed when Ella came about. And so I made a list of all the little things and here they are for you… Number one: I’ve lost my alone time. Every morning I wake up and there she is and when I go to sleep, I wouldn’t change a thing. Number 2: I’ve lost the feeling that I was useless, to my daughter I am everything and when she reaches for me I know I am here to be her caretaker. I wouldn’t change a thing. Number 3: I lost the awful relationship that was holding me back, my daughter opened my eyes to something I needed to step away from. I wouldn’t change a thing. Number 4: I lost the person I was becoming, the tired, lonely. Person I was. I wouldn’t change a thing. With my daughter I lost friends, a relationship, a teenage life, and I wouldn’t change a thing, everyday is a new miracle. Everyday she does something that makes my heart grow more than I ever thought was possible, and everyday she shows me that god is alive and walking in the miracle child he put into my life to give to me not take. So when people look, and whisper, and think that my baby, my love, my everything TOOK from me, that I LOST something, I hope they can see in my eyes that I was Found and saved through the hands of a tiny angel that delivered me to my Father. – written by alumni bloom Haley Driver

Written so beautifully. This is a treasure to my heart to read the words that she has expressed. She is a beautiful, caring, life-giving mommy that is full of love and adoration for her baby girl.

You precious reader are a Keepsake and a Treasure. Beauty beyond compare. You are a priceless work of art that has been crafted and designed. You are on display for the world to see. As the colors are added to your life in an array of beauty, may you reflect the heart of your Father in heaven. A brushstroke here, and there and everywhere. Leaving lasting impressions upon the hearts of the people around you.

With your very own hands you formed me; now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you. When they see me waiting, expecting your Word, those who fear you will take heart and be glad… Oh, love me- and right now!- hold me tight! Just the way you promised. Now comfort me so I can live, really live. Psalm 119:73-76

Written by Salina Duffy

An Experience

shutterstock_149970311I’ve been thinking about that word a lot lately, EXPERIENCE. Webster’s say’s that an experience is a particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something.

With Embrace Grace, we strive for the young moms that do our program to not just go to another Sunday School class or parenting class – we want them to have an EXPERIENCE at every session they come to. We want them to remember what was said, to remember how they felt, to be changed, to grow and to be inspired to love Jesus freely and fully.

We not only want the girls to have an experience with Embrace Grace – but everyone that watches our commercials, everyone that comes by our trade show booths, every person that calls our phone line, every person that sends us an email, every person that visits our website, every person that gives to our ministry, every person that attends our baby showers, every person following our social media posts. Embrace Grace is for everyone and we want all to be touched by being Pro-Love in everything they do and people they encounter.

So as I sit and brainstorm HOW to create that … I just get 2 words – HOLY SPIRIT. We want to cultivate an atmosphere in everything we do where people can encounter the Holy Spirit and never be the same. We want our words, photos, testimonials to give God all the glory in what He does and WHO He is because without Him, we are just words, just a class, just a building with 4 walls, just another person. Without Him there is no life.

In everything we do, let’s make it an experience. Whether you are going to the grocery store, the movies, to church or Embrace Grace, strive to make it an experience. Go with the heartset of coming out with a cool Glory Story afterwards. It’s your move and you are not alone. This is that John 10:10 ABUNDANT life God was talking about! We just have to open our hands and heart to His will instead of trying to force things our way.

SO excited about the new Holy Ghost movie coming out in September. This quote in the clip stuck with me and I love it:

“What if we collectively as the church said, ‘OK God. No more boxes. No more limits. No more of having to control everything and we just gave God total control.’ Yeah it’s scary, but I think this is theway we were meant to live.” – Meredith Andrews in Holy Ghost film

Written by Amy Ford

 

Do It Afraid

shutterstock_192059996Fear. Faith. Fear. Faith. FEAR. FAITH! Like a chant I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Wanting to cry one second and hyperventilate the next. All the while knowing that I had to do it. Like an invisible rope pulling me forward, I knew that the decision I was making was the right decision. Albeit one of the hardest ones I have ever had to make.

Ever had one of those decisions? You dread it, try to talk God out of it, procrastinate, but in the end you know that it is the only way. And you are scared out of your mind. At this point, you could become paralyzed in your fear – going over every “what if” scenario known to man. Question if you really heard God? Maybe you should pray one more time, you might get a different answer. You call everyone you know just to see what they say about your current situation. And yet, still, you know.

Many years ago I heard Joyce Meyer say something I have never forgotten, “Do it afraid.” Some things in life do not come easy, or in cute little gift packages waiting to be opened. Some things in life are designed to challenge us and cause us to grow. Push us past the comfort zone, requiring use of feelings and thought processes we may not be familiar with – or not want to become familiar with.

Very recently I have had three separate issues going on at the same time, but all three teaching me the same lesson. I had a problem with taking ownership of things that were not mine to carry. I was causing undue anxiety on myself. This was a learned behavior mind you, but one that I had not clearly identified before until I had a very short conversation with a wise woman who called it on the carpet – quick. And it was like the sun shined down on this brain of mine and my eyes were opened. In my particular case, I was concerned with how people would act or respond to me in light of some things I needed to do in each situation. Fear. Each separate issue needed to be taken care of, and I was not being hurtful or uncaring to any individual in any way, but I still felt anxiety about how things would turn out.

Do it afraid. This has been my mantra the last week. Do it afraid. Do it afraid. This has actually been the year of “Do it afraid.” From ending an unhealthy friendship earlier in the year, to now changing my home address. I am having to do it afraid. There have been tears – many, many tears. But there has also been hope. A wind beneath my wings that I can’t quite describe to you.

Throughout this time, I have made it a point to keep my mind stayed on Jesus. For me, that means that no matter what, I have been including Him in my mental wanderings and have gotten down on my face and cried out to Him to keep me through anything and everything I was feeling. I have asked for Him to show me the truth, and to reveal things to me that I needed to know. I have spent time in His word and prayer and asked Him to give me strength and to keep me strong, constantly reminding myself that His grace is sufficient for me.

Doing it afraid does not mean you do it alone. Through this time God has strategically provided people who will pray with me, listen to me, encourage me – but most importantly, He has been there for me. Even last night, I was awoken with fears of what this new chapter of my life would be like and I was afraid. And instantly I felt peace, I felt Him wrap Himself around me and assure me that He would be there.

He will be there for you too. Do it afraid. If you are truly being led by God, you will be so glad you did.

Jamie Stapleton