Walls Are Coming Down

shutterstock_173425400I was speaking last week at Christ for the Nations about Embrace Grace. I spoke about how brave girls are that choose life and how we should love without limits and build support systems to help young women that might be scared with an unplanned pregnancy. After I shared my heart for an hour, several students came up to me afterwards to share their heart and stories. One was hanging towards the back and when the group cleared he made his way towards me. He started to share about his sister having an unplanned pregnancy 3 years ago but before he could continue he would need to stop before his emotions got the best of him. He was choked up and had a hard time confessing what was on his heart.

He admitted that when his sister had announced her pregnancy to their family, they really treated her bad. They talked down to her and were so disappointed in her actions. She eventually couldn’t take it anymore and ran away and had (in his words) “the cutest little girl in the whole world.” With tears in his eyes he talked about his regrets in the way he handled it all and wished that he could go back and change things. He is married now and him and his wife have tried to reach out to her and invite her over for dinner but it has yet to happen.

I hear stories like this sometimes. I am so proud of this guy for even sharing his heart and regret with me. You could tell that he loves his sister so much and wants to make things right again. He asked if I had any suggestions on what might could help with the pursuit to put his family back together again.

Last week I went to a banquet of one of my favorite local non-profits called Mercy House
. They provide housing for young women that have unplanned pregnancies but have nowhere to live. They had such AMAZING video testimonials that really captured the heart behind their home providing stability and a family environment that these young moms want and need so badly. The house-dad said something that I LOVED. He said that almost all the girls that come to live there have built up walls around their hearts from years of hurt and pain. They may seem cold and guarded at first. It’s always a process for the walls to come down. He said some walls come crashing down in a day … and others it’s a much slower process of the wall breaking apart brick by brick. But the key for the wall coming down whether slow or fast is CONSISTENT, UNCONDITIONAL, NEVER-ENDING LOVE. No matter if they fight it and don’t reciprocate it, no matter if they respond with anger or if you don’t even think it’s sinking in … just never stop loving people. The walls have nowhere to go but DOWN.

So for the guy wanting to win his sisters heart back and for anyone else out there that may have hurt someone in your past or even just someone that wants to invest time in helping someone break down their walls … just keep loving them. Never stop. Speak life over them. Never turn your backs on them. Even when they push you away, be waiting when they come back. Be a soft place to land when they fall.

Love never fails. 

Written by Amy Ford

This is what it’s all about

927876_493983770712219_1096320445_nThis, ladies and gentlemen, is me writing to you from a very sincere heart. If you know me you probably know my story. If not the short story is: single mom of two, confident in myself and small family, redeemed and made new by a God who loves me. I can’t say being a single mom at a young age is easy…it’s actually really hard. As I sit with my little ones I can’t help but think of everyone that has supported me to get me to the happy healthy place I’m at now.

I’m blessed to have a supportive group of family and friends but the sad thing is not every single young mom is as fortunate as I. I’ve heard so many stories of girls in situations just like mine. I’ve heard of parents abandoning them when they needed help the most. I’ve heard girls asking for any help at all from a mattress to sleep on or food to feed their baby. I know it’s easy not to think of these things if it’s not right in front of you but please know it happens. Now ,of course, you can be that person that says they deserve it or they made these decisions so they can deal with the consequences. If that’s you…stop being so mean. Just because you can hide your mistakes doesn’t give you a right to judge so harshly. 

Instead of judging or glossing over the subject why not help? See aside from my family the thing that got me through one of the hardest times in my life was Embrace Grace. This group of loving peers and women brought me back to life. Think of the absolute lowest point in your life. Lost, alone, broken…have you ever experienced this feeling? So have I and thanks to Embrace Grace that feeling was fleeting. Embrace Grace ,in short, is a group of women that love people. It’s a group of people that show young girls that their mistakes don’t define them and that no matter what the world shouts at them they are truly beautiful. It’s a group that stands by girls through their journeys as parents. It’s a group that dotes on the brave girls that choose life. 

Sounds pretty awesome right? I think any human could get excited about people realizing their worth. The great thing is anyone can become a part of this. Starting a group is a lot easier than you think. If you can’t start a group there are still tons of way for you to be involved. It’s time to give back and make the world a brighter place to be. It all starts with you. You can learn more here.

Much love,

Olivia, Layla, and Isaac

Jump Start

imagesThe alarm was sounding. They were so sound asleep; both sleeping straight through each time the alarm loudly blared. They were tired and not quite ready to wake up yet. New schedules, getting back to the routine. Time to kick into gear. I walked in my son’s room, hit the snooze button once again and said time to rise and shine boys. They both looked at me with those sleepy eyes and rolled back over. Just 5 more minutes Mom. Please!

Barely awake and rushing out the door we load up in my car ready for school. Keys in the ignition and turn, but nothing happens. What? My car is completely out of juice. Oh great, no time for this now! In need of a jump start quick! Jumper cables attached to my battery and a little boost from my hubby’s truck battery, now we are set. Good to go! Engine starts, ready to begin our day.

I’m sure you can relate to mornings like this. This scenario can be experienced in many different ways. Relatable to days you have walked through sometime in your life. Alarm sounding, not ready to rise up out of bed yet. Just hoping for those 5 extra minutes before beginning your busy day. Getting in your car expecting the engine to start right up, but for some reason it’s out of juice and will not start. You look around and think “ain’t nobody got time for this!!”

You may be tired physically, spiritually, emotionally or a combo of all three. Really drained from all of life’s demands and expectations. Do you know there is a way to Jump Start your day just like the battery charge I received this morning? It’s so simple and easy to do. It only takes a little bit to charge your entire day and even have extras for days ahead. When you plug your cables into the energy source- JESUS- He can energize and give you the boost you really need to satisfy and fulfill even your busiest days.

When my feet touched the floor this morning, the first thing I did was search my Bible app for the word of the day. You can do the same. It gives life, inspiration, truth, a real energy source to boost you up no matter what you are facing.

Today’s word of the day was from Psalm 46:10 that tells us to Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth! Just that one verse got me jazzed and ready to embrace this day. Be still. Sometimes we tend to hurry, run around like a crazy chicken going here, there and everywhere and we get exhausted. Jesus tells us to be still. And know. That He is God.  No matter what situations you are facing right now, God is in the midst with you and will sustain you, keep you and energize you so that you can endure and exalt His name. His grace covers you. His love is abounding. He promises to watch over you. In tough times and tired times, He promises to be there. In happy times and sad times. He promises to see you through. Look to Him as your One Source of life-giving, charging, fulfilling, energizing and an abundance more He has to give you.

Energy sources can be delivered in many creative ways. The Bible is the ultimate life giver and battery charger. Read ‘til your heart is charged and revived. Tune in to uplifting music and in no time you will be singing a happy tune, dancing and worshipping with others around you. A friend can lift you up and give you the extra boost that you are searching for. A kind word, a day of rejuvenation and recreation – taking time to enjoy yourself and just be you without expectations and demands. Do something you really love to do. Recreate happy moments and this will boost you up faster than you can believe.

You can receive a Jump Start daily. Stay connected, plugged in to Jesus and He will be your life giver, energizer, booster in every way you need. You will be astounded and amazed at how He will come through for you!

Share the love

1a93335892add7608454f7117e01c53eToday is a challenge day. This will be very short, sweet, and to the point. My challenge to you is to spread the love today. Of course, I’d love to encourage you to dote upon single mommas this week but I think we should go beyond that. How about just love people this week? A little bit of love can go a long way. After all, “Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” So try to do something special for someone this week. I know we all have busy schedules so this can be tough but I promise it will be totally worth it.

Need some ideas? How about paying for the car behind you in a drive thru line? Or if you want to make it personal send flowers to a single momma. That would be so sweet and completely make her day! Maybe drop off treats and a sweet card on someone’s doorstep. Or simply compliment someone every day…fun side note: if you try to find the positive in people you’ll learn to find the positive in the world.

So get out there and love people. You won’t regret it!

Much love,

Olivia

Look to the Cross

 

jpegOverlooking the vast ocean and waves crashing up on the shore; the setting and sounds were breathtaking. I could close my eyes and fully surrender to the peace surrounding me. The location of the setting that was chosen on this 22 mile stretch of beach was my absolute favorite. Something stirs deep inside of me every time I see it. Something very heavy and monumental in the shape of a cross that washed up from the ocean serves as a reminder to everyone that passes by. Beyond the shore into the waves as they crash mightily over it. As I gazed and looked at the cross for countless hours that day, my heart was enveloped in the deepest love.

The cross where Jesus paid the ultimate price for everything. Once and for all. He was bruised, beaten, pierced and left to die on the cross for you and me and everyone in this world. All sickness, sin, trial and pain, temptation, wound, heartache, and anything you could ever imagine or experience was covered by Jesus on the cross.

Passion stirred within my heart. A deep sense of humility and thankfulness filled within me. Something that neither you nor I ever deserved. Christ died for me. He died for you. I visualized the setting of that dark day when Jesus was crucified. Tears welled up within me. I could see Him there. The pain in His eyes. The weight of the world upon Him. Then He began to say give me all that concerns you. Each and every thing. Leave it here at cross. Look to Me to complete you. Words can not even begin to describe the transactions that took place. It was something heavenly.

I have been pondering on that encounter that happened last week. It is embedded in my heart and mind forever. I pray that you can also grasp the reality of the cross. That you can look to the cross. Look to Jesus in every situation you face. He is there for you. He is always with you. By your side. He longs to be the one you seek first and foremost. If you are seeking healing, restoration, salvation, rescue, anything and everything can be found when you look to the cross.

A sweet bloom of ours texted me from out of the blue today with the following message:

I’ve been thinking about you lately! I really wanna dedicate myself to the Lord. I feel the closest to Him now more than ever and I’m just so happy! I wanted to share with you! Love yaaaaa! I just feel so good and blessed. I’ve become a different person. I feel like no one seen this coming I feel like God gave me the opportunity to share His love with my friends that need peace in their heart and I am. I just wanna be good all around! I love EG and hopefully I can be a part of something BIG eventually! I wanna change lives! God made me wanna feel this. It’s so awesome I can’t help my happiness! This is just so beautiful! He loves me and my family so much! He has great plans for me.- EG Bloom Vanessa D.

She is awakened to the new life, love and happiness that is found in Jesus. You can experience this too!

Look at this sweet belly pic of Bloom Vanessa during her pregnancy:

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 You are invited to experience the same happiness and love that Vanessa is feeling right now. You can dedicate your heart and life to Jesus.

Simply pray this prayer: Jesus, I look to your cross. I look to you to save me. Rescue me from the life I have been living. I ask you to come into my heart and fill me full of joy, peace and love. I surrender my life into your hands. I know that you have the best for me. I want to feel close to you.

If you just prayed that prayer, the angels are rejoicing in heaven! We would love to rejoice with you too! Many promises await you.

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “YES!” And through Christ, our Amen (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for His glory. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us. 2 Corinthians 1:20-22

 

Perspective

b9b27b6feb38135db6d9f413e290fea4At Embrace Grace we are able to meet so many amazing girls with such big loving hearts. The girls that always leave me speechless are those who choose adoption for their little ones. This young momma never actually was able to be a part of EG because she lives in Houston (so if you’re in Houston and reading this maybe this is your hint to start an EG Houston) but she is so sweet. I came across her blog and knew you all would enjoy it as much as I do. So here’s one of my favorite posts from her own personal blog. Enjoy!

 

       I’ve been living my life after Parker’s adoption as though it was a second chance at making my life the way that I have always dreamed it would go. My life now would have never happened had I not had Parker in my life. It was a wake up call that I so desperately needed, it was a second chance from God showing me that my current life path wasn’t the path I needed to be on. It wasn’t a path that had any potential at the end. Finding out I was pregnant was heartbreaking but also in a weird way a relief. I knew I had to give up my lifestyle and I badly needed something drastic to happen to set my life straight.

      During my pregnancy I grew very strong in my faith and felt so close to God. Every prayer I had was so clearly answered…not always in the way I wanted but I heard so clearly that it was what God had planned. My whole pregnancy, the people I met, the messages I got, how visible God had been brings Goosebumps to me. It’s awesome how God’s plan was so cleverly put into action. I love everything about my adoption story and how it is shaping the person I am now.

      I have changed so much from 24 year old me to 26 year old me. I would never go back to the person I was then. Frankly I’m embarrassed by how I was back in the day. The things I did and the things I said showed how rude and selfish I was. It’s just embarrassing. My life now is something I always wanted but never thought I could achieve. I love the quotes that says, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”  it spoke to me. There are so many things I want to accomplish but never thought that I could achieve them. So this is my life living with no regrets, living my second chance at doing what God has called me to do, doing what makes me happy.

-Megan 

 

What an incredible view on life this beautiful bloom has. I wonder how our own lives would change if we lived with the same perspective. What’s your second chance moment?

 

 

A Forever Family

shutterstock_142216768I have had the privilege and honor to walk alongside a few sweet birth moms that have chosen to bless another family with their baby through adoption. I can’t even put into words how impactful that was for me – to see the whole process … even from both sides: the birth mom and the adoptive mom.

Each relationship I have with an Embrace Grace girl is such a special gift, but when I hear a story about a birth mom—a mom who carried life within her to gift to another family, I am changed. I am intensely moved by every detail; the story of where they have come from and what they have overcome, to finding out they are pregnant; the entire decision making process; the captivating way God brings two families with the same hearts together during the pregnancy; and then there is the most amazing part of it all … the beautiful exchange. The transfer of one life over to someone else, entrusting the most valuable gift you love more than anything else in the world to another just blows me away. I am in awe of a mother who chooses for another family to provide her baby with a life she could not have provided herself; to become an answered prayer for someone who may have prayed her whole life for a child of her own. Witnessing the sacrifice a birth mom makes, rejecting abortion and sacrificing her body for nine months to save a baby’s life is one of the most beautiful acts of love I have ever seen. And then to see an adoptive mom open her family, heart and home to love and raise a baby as though it came from her own womb, is breathtaking.

It takes work on both sides. It takes sacrifice. It’s hard and love can hurt. I’ve seen the other side of it too when babies get taken away because a broken-hearted mommy turned to drugs and couldn’t cope with life’s circumstances. I’ve seen birth moms choose adoption but within those first 48 hours after birth, decide they want to parent and an adoptive family that prepared for month’s walks away with empty arms.

Love can hurt. Love is raw and vulnerable. Love is authentic and breath-taking. Love is a sacrifice. Love is a decision. Love isn’t always butterflies and roses. Love can be hard … but beautiful.

I’ve seen some birth moms that watch and cheer for their baby from afar with pictures and updates. I’ve seen others that play a much more active role in being a part of their birth child’s life with frequent visits and celebrations together as a family. Each one is unique and amazing.

I ran across this video last week and I can’t stop thinking of just how AMAZING people are. This is one of the sweetest videos I have ever seen about adoption. A teenage girl that finds out a family is choosing to make her their very own. She has a mom and dad now. She has siblings. She has love. She belongs. Check it out here: MEREDITH’S BIG SURPRISE.

Adoption is the heart of our heavenly Father. We are all His. We are His sons and daughters. We belong. We are His forever family.

Written by Amy Ford