When I am weak, He is strong

I was at the gym last month and was really pushing myself to get there and workout.  I made a commitment to myself and was trying to fulfill it.  This particular day I felt completely and totally drained of my energy… ZAPPED!!! This was the word that I kept feeling to describe my lack of energy.  Almost as if a stun gun had somehow got a hold of me and drained all the juice inside me and left me feeling totally empty.

It was about 4 in the afternoon and all I really wanted to do was take a nap.  I checked my son into the stay n play kids area and headed to the elliptical machines.  I was hoping to get a boost of energy as I placed my feet on the pedals.  I put my earphones in and tuned in to my pandora app and was ready to move with the beat, and keep the steady rhythm with each stride. But with each step I took, the more tired I felt.  I even said a prayer, Jesus I feel so weak, please help me.  I really want to work out, but I feel like quitting right now. I don’t think I can take another step… I even said, Jesus, will you be my trainer and coach and push me to keep going and not give up.  I had set a time, a goal for that day that I was hoping to attain.

I began to gaze up to the windows that were in the distance, beyond the pool area and remembered I had seen a bird up in the window a few weeks ago. Under my breath I said a heartfelt prayer,  “oh, how I wish I could see that bird again in that same spot, somehow that will get my focus off of me and my tiredness & weakness and get my momentum going for at least a little bit longer. I stared at the window for a while hoping to see this bird and then looked away. 20 minutes or so passed by… I had my worship music on and was steadily climbing up the terrain on the workout machine. My arms and legs were moving back and forth to a quick pace.

The moment that the words to this song came on something inside me said look up… look up at the window…so I looked back up to the window as the words of this song said “i look out the window and birds are composing, out of note, out of tune and out of place… I walked to the meadow, stared at the flowers that are dressed better than a bride on her wedding day, so why do I worry??” lyrics by Jon Foreman & Switchfoot & song titled “Your love is strong”

I pushed the button on my cellphone to check the Pandora app to see who wrote this beautiful song that played for me at the moment I needed it most.  I even texted myself the song so that I would not forget…

Instantly I felt a boost of energy and I felt alive!!  Like I could climb Mt. Everest at that very moment!

I know that I am not the only one that gets tired, weak and drained. Completely zapped of all energy. We are mommies of little ones or maybe you are pregnant right now and you can fully relate to these feelings of being so tired.  First of all let me just say it is perfectly normal!

You are giving so much of yourself, nurturing, tending, caring and loving your little ones. Being a mommy, changing diapers, feeding, making bottles, bathing, washing all those clothes, playing and the list goes on on and on.

On top of all that you may be working full time jobs, or going to school, and so much more.  Your life is maxed to the limit with duties, obligations and priorities.  You may think if there is one more thing added to my day, there is no way I am going to be able to complete it.  I am already past my limit or at max capacity!  OVERLOAD!

God will not give you more than you can handle.

Our bodies need rest and times of refreshing.  A time to unwind and let ourself relax. Please allow yourself time to rest and recharge.  Take a nap if you can when baby is sleeping, have a warm bubble bath, or go for a walk.  Take some mommy time for yourself.

Each time he said, “my grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles that I suffer, for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11

Maybe there is something new that you are about to do for the first time…. A time of stretching, growing and expanding out of your comfort zone. Like this is something big and you think “in my own strength, this is impossible.  But with God’s strength and power, I can do this! Everything is possible in and through Him”  Remember His grace is all you need!

This stretching and growing is similar to the expanding of your sweet tummy when you were pregnant, just when you think you can not possibly expand any more, by nature you do to make room for your growing infant inside of you.

As you stretch and grow in your love for God, others and yourself; always know that He is right along beside you every step of the way. Those times when you feel weak,  He will be your trainer and coach and say “keep on going, you can do it!  You can make it, I know you can!  Just push, push, push!!”

Whatever your weaknesses may be;  Know that God is bigger, stronger, and ABLE to move and work His power in you in those times that you feel weak… HE IS STRONG!

God I thank you for your times of rest.  I thank you that you will refresh each and every mommy that is reading this today. Fill her full of your love.  May she know that your love for her is STRONG!!

Written by Salina Duffy

Letting Go

Sometimes letting go of what is “comfortable” and “safe” seems SO hard. Maybe it’s a lifestyle that you’ve always had and never known another way. Maybe it just “feels” like it’s right, even though all the facts say otherwise. Maybe it’s a job you keep hanging on to even though you’re boss and coworkers are verbally abusive and rude … maybe it’s that friend you keep hanging out with even though she consistently does things that you have been trying so hard to not fall back into … maybe it’s the family member that watches your baby for free even though you don’t agree with the way she cares for you child … maybe it’s the guy that you keep doing everything you can to make the relationship work just because he’s the baby daddy even though he never puts you first or even second in his life …

 So my question is, by not letting go of these things, what amazing job/friend/babysitter/boyfriend are you missing out on that God has for you?

 I remember one time I got into this really weird fight with a super close friend. I had been there for her through a horrible break up, a birth of her daughter when was all alone, and even through the death of her father. I was the first person she would call and I was her rock through a lot. I am not just saying this, I seriously was a GREAT friend to her. Well one day out of the blue, there was a misunderstanding between her and my husband while discussing business decisions her father had made. It is a very long and boring story but in a nutshell, his heart was pure and he tried to convey that to her but she decided she wanted to believe the worst in him (looking back, I can see how she was still very hurt by her father’s passing and anything said during that season could have been taken the wrong way). With this misunderstanding, she called it quits on our friendship and basically said she never wanted to talk to me again. I was crushed. I couldn’t believe after all I had invested in our friendship, she would throw it away.

 I left for my heartquest the very next week with this fresh wound on my heart. I decided to give this worry to God and I had tried to save that relationship but the door was closed. So I was moving on … and when I was there on my heartquest, I met my very best friend in the whole world, Alyse. God brought me the BEST friend. And even when I got home, I met another girl named Angela that we just immediately connected and have been super close ever since. I really felt like because I didn’t try to chase something that God didn’t want me to have, He blessed me with not only 1 great friend, but 2!

 I remember another time a few years ago, an Embrace Grace girl called me and she was very upset. She had a horrible weekend and she was so worried about what she should do.  She said she had been walking through her apartment complex the previous day, when out of the blue, these 2 girls she didn’t even know walked up to her and told her that their really good friend had been messing around with her boyfriend behind her back for months and they felt like she needed to know. This girl was crushed. She was pregnant with his baby and wanted it to work with him so bad but he had seemed so distant lately. I tried to console her and told her maybe she should just take a break from him and  spend some time in prayer without distractions and really seek God on what she should do about this situation. She then said to me, “Well actually I have been praying every day for the past week for God to show me if I should be with him anymore but I just can’t hear him speaking to me.”  It seems God is speaking loud and clear right now! He is answering your prayer and showing you what to do.

 Well, she still ended up staying with him and went on with a rocky relationship.

 I know it’s hard to let go sometimes … but at what cost? God has BIG and AMAZING plans – He loves each one of you SO much. 

 Holding onto what you are powerless to change is exhausting and impossible. The real fulfillment and joy comes in life when we release control and let God take over.

 God wants to be first in your life. Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these other things will fall into place (Matthew 6:33) Give him control of your life, not part of it, ALL of it. Let Him carry the burden for you. His blessings and plans for you is to prosper you and give you hope and a future. He is FOR YOU. 

Life Interrupted

Journal entry: January 10, 2011- “Today I turn 10 weeks pregnant. I haven’t fully accepted it yet. I don’t believe it. This is the hardest for me. I still wish I wasn’t pregnant pretty regularly. I hate that nothing never seems to fall into place at the right time.”

 When I saw the + sign on that test I thought, “God, what?! This is not what I want right now!” I threw the test in the trash in disbelief. I wrestled with God that night and many days ahead with my thoughts, with my heart, with my entire soul about how unfair it was. For the first time in my life, I was angry at God. It literally felt like my world was stopping. My world. MY. World.  I spent many hours having pity parties. I cried sitting outside. I cried when I cooked, I cried when I watched TV, I cried brushing my teeth. One day, I cried in the shower and I literally pleaded to God to take the baby. I started pushing on my stomach, then I violently punched it 3 times in frustration and anger because nothing was happening. After God not answering my request, I did as many sit-ups as I could on my living room floor over and over again … then I cried my eyes out. With my knees to my chest, a numb body and no more tears to shed, I sat outside staring at a big tree. It was then that I heard God ask, “Do you want Me to take it?” I was stunned, but ignored the question. I mean, why would He ask me such a dumb question after all this. In a stern, loud as day voice, “Do you want ME to take it?”  With hot tears streaming down my face, I knew in my heart it was God and I couldn’t answer. That’s when I knew what my heart really wanted and some how I needed to be ok with it. Something else was wrong. What was wrong with ME?

 In the world of a single girl, this kind of reaction would be no surprise. In the world of a married girl, this kind of reaction would be a surprise. Well, I’m the married girl! 28 years old, married to the love of my life for 8 years and have 2 adorable boys. To top it off? My husband is a pastor. Yep, the girl beating on her stomach asking God to take her 3rd baby is a Pastor’s wife. 

Growing up I admired Pastor wives. As a teen I surrounded myself with them as much as I could and I even secretly asked God to make me one. I knew my life was destined to be somewhere in ministry, but my heart was just to marry a Pastor. In my young world, I saw these women carry so much confidence. Ministering to people right along side their husband. Through my eyes, their world was perfect. Perfect marriage, perfect kids, perfect house and always had the perfect things to say.

 So, here I am. Although my husbands’ position of pastor came years later, here I am now, a pastor’s wife with an image of myself far beyond what I admired growing up. I don’t always carry confidence. I don’t have the perfect marriage (close! ;), my kids are crazy (in a good way), we’re definitely not in a perfect house and I hardly ever have the perfect things to say. 

 Yes, I am a pastor’s wife, but I’m just as real as you and I like it that way! I go through difficulties just like you! I don’t like it, but who does! I have pity parties and get so selfish that I begin to lose my way until God comes to rescue me….again and again. No matter who you are, what age you are, if you are married or not, you will find yourself in place of unexpected trial. Little did I know that my unexpected pregnancy would draw me so much closer to God. I already knew Him, but man! I got to know a whole different side of Him. Imagine the godly man of your dreams comforting you, feeling deeply loved and giving you the best advice to guide you along the way. All with a pure gentleness and a soft kiss on your cheek. That’s how God revealed Himself to me as I coped with the new direction my life was going. That is the new side I got to know! Nobody knows my heart like God does and He knew my heart didn’t want to lose a baby. He knew my baby Moses would be one of the best things that would happen to me. He knew that along with the birth of my baby, new passions and new beginnings would also be birthed. I was given grace and the beginning of something new that made life so much better than it was before. At the time when I thought so much was wrong with me, the only thing I knew to do was to throw myself into God’s arms and He loved me even more. He was the only one that was going to get me through this and see the light. I just needed to be with Him and He needed to be with me.

 July 26, 2011- Moses Arturo Cabrera was born. Moses, who drew God’s people out into the promise land. Arturo, means bear, fierce one.

 One day, my little Moses will know how much his existence, even in my womb, drew me out into a land God had for me. A promise revealed to me in a fierce way that changed me forever.

 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” -Romans 8:28

 Written by Liz Cabrera

Nurture by Nature – A Duck Family

“Nature itself is crying out for the nurture that women bring”– Lisa Bevere

Nurture {verb}: 1. To give tender care and protection to a child,, 

a young animal, or a plant, helping it to grow and develop. 

2. To encourage somebody or something to grow, develop,

 thrive and be successful.

Birds are singing sweet melodies all around me as I am sitting outside writing… love it!!

Last week I was sitting on a park bench reading Pastor Debbie’s new book “The Blessed Woman” and was loving every word! A water fountain was springing up from the pond I was close to and I was soaking up the sunshine.  All of a sudden a big gush of wind swept past me.  It really got my attention so I lifted my eyes from her book and saw a sweet “family” walking by me.  This family may not be what you would picture me describing.

For those of you that know me, you know that I LOVE NATURE!! God loves to speak to me about Nurture through His NATURE!  He captured my attention at this moment and began reminding me of some things He had whispered to me even before Embrace Grace began…

So this family that captivated me was a family of ducks.  I watched closely as this mama duck, her 3 ducklings, a daddy duck and this close duck friend (also a mama duck that stuck so closely to the mama’s side) and helped her guide the baby ducklings along this path. Immediately I stood up and began to follow the duck family and began taking pics.  These baby ducklings followed so closely behind their mama.  They walked up and over the rocks into the riverbed and began to swim in the pond. Always following their mama’s lead.  The daddy duck stayed close by and was a protector and had a watchful eye on me as I observed the ducklings.

My mind began to drift back to the days before Embrace Grace began and how he had brought ducks to our backyard to show me a sign of a mother’s amazing love for her little ones.  This “lady duck” made her first appearance in our backyard the very same morning that Pink Impact 2008 began (yes the very same Pink Impact that Amy and I attended and Embrace Grace was birthed in our hearts:)

I remember walking into our kitchen and glancing outside and noticing two ducks floating in our pool.  Logan was only 11 months old at the time and he really loved his duck ducks! He wanted to go and feed the ducks daily at the pond.  I could not wait to see the look on his face when he opened up his eyes that morning and saw real ducks swimming in our pool.  We could not wait any longer so we woke him up and took him to the window.  He began calling out duck duck, duck duck!! He was beside himself with sheer excitement!! He was clapping his hands and wanted to get closer to the ducks.

That morning began our journey with our duck family.  Soon after, they would just fly in the backyard at different times of the day and they would swim around and relax on the side of the pool.  One afternoon, April fools day to be exact, Cory walked in the house and said Gloria (oh yes, we named our ducks Gloria and Hal) had laid an egg and it was floating in the bottom of the pool… At this point I thought he was playing a fools day joke on me and I said, “Ha Ha! That’s so funny!  You just put a chicken egg at the bottom of the pool to play a joke.”  He said, “No seriously, she laid an egg and it’s at the bottom of the pool.”  I went outside to see for myself and saw Gloria at the edge of the pool and she was just a shaking her tail feathers and kept staring helplessly at the bottom of the pool.  Hal sat close beside her and was staring down at the egg too.  She looked so frazzled and sad that she had dropped her egg, probably unknowingly that she was about to lay an egg, and my heart hurt for her. (Even as I am typing this, my heart is hurting for those ladies that have miscarried or had abortions and the feelings they experience from their loss in their womb)

I picked up Logan and took him upstairs to give him a bath and I remember saying “Logan, mommy could not help Gloria with her baby duck egg, but we can help the mommies with their babies when they choose life!”  He just looked up at me with those beautiful baby blue eyes and smiled.

The next day, our ducks were back and this time they were on a mission. They were searching for the best place to make their nest.  Gloria would search high and low for the perfect spot for her nest. This time, she would be prepared.  She went in and out of the bushes by the pool, all around the trees, in and out and all around she searched and all the while, Hal followed closely behind her.  She found a perfect spot, so perfect we could not even figure out where she hid and made her nest.  We knew they were always around, swimming and bathing, fluffing and primping themselves as they dried off.  We loved watching them closely.  She would be sitting on her nest most of the day, and he would be on watch duty.

A few weeks passed by and we still did not know exactly where her nest was.  We knew it was getting close to hatching time! One day our landscaper found her nest and said she had 11 eggs in her nest, and it was right in our front yard under bushes where we had searched for her before.

One morning just after Logan’s first birthday, the time came for the ducklings to hatch!  We were able to watch it all with front row seats!  The first two ducklings that hatched (she may not have known what to do) so she pushed them out of the nest and they laid there almost lifeless… the next 8 ducklings that were born were yellow, fluffy and full of life and walking around.  While the first two were barely thriving, they laid there on the cold pecan mulch and were barely breathing.  The last two eggs sadly did not hatch.  After an hour or so, Cory picked up the first two ducklings that hatched and said they were not going to make it unless they were put under a heat lamp.  He took them to the garage and placed them in an orange bucket filled with fluffy straw and a heat lamp shining down on them to keep them warm.

Landan came home from school and went straight to the garage to check on the little ducklings.  They just laid there so still and barely hanging on…  But, when the ducklings would hear our voice, they would perk up and begin to thrive.  I would say, come on baby ducklings, you can do it, I know you are strong, you can make it… funny thing that the sound of our voice could encourage them to live and thrive.  And that is just what they did.  (Just as babies that are born prematurely and are in an incubator after birth, they begin to thrive by a warm & tender touch and respond to voices telling them you can do it, you are strong, I know you can make it!)

The very next morning, we woke up to see Mama Gloria leading all of her ducklings from their nest in the front to the back yard and she was taking them for their first swim. There they were 7 little ducklings waddling behind their mama to plunge into the pool for the very first time.   Landan ran to the garage and said, “Let’s re-introduce her to her first 2 ducklings since they are thriving now.”  He placed the 2 ducklings in the water and we all watched as the mama duck welcomed them under her wings.  She had a total of 9 ducklings now and they followed closely behind her.  Such a sweet moment to capture!

I remember asking God back then, what are your plans for Embrace Grace?  The moment I asked that question, as I drove on White Chapel Blvd., I saw a yellow Duck Crossing sign, and I began to laugh out loud and say, Ok God, I love your sense of humor and how you speak to me!  I am listening and am open to all that you have in store for your mama’s and babies!

Looking from where we are now, to back when Embrace Grace first started in the Fall of 2008.  We started out with 3 single pregnant mama’s. Of course, ducks were our “theme” for the first semester.  Since then, we have expanded and grown so much from our additions of mama’s and babies and our EG leaders and more.  Lots of growth in many ways 🙂

I can not help but look at the similarities of the “duck family” that God placed in front of me and captured my attention last week with the duck crossing…  That mama duck and her close mama duck friend had 3 ducklings.  These could be a picture of Amy and I with our 3 pregnant mama’s in the very beginning of EG.  We helped to show them how to “build a nest”, make a home for their baby, to nurture, love and care for their baby, and to trust God to watch over them.   The daddy duck represented God looking closely around and keeping a watchful eye and looking out for the ducklings and protecting them from danger and harm.

NestA snug, comfortable or cozy retreat or refuge; resting place; home; a shelter made by a bird out of twigs, grass or other material to hold it’s eggs and young.

To the pregnant mama’s…

During this time of your pregnancy, however far along you are, God has created a safe place for your baby to grow inside of you. Your little egg that was so small in the beginning, smaller than a little peanut, has been growing inside your tummy. You can picture a little “nest” inside your tummy that is surrounded by your warm body and love.  Your womb protects your baby and provides the nourishment that your little one needs.  God knows exactly what you and your baby need and He will take care of you.

Before delivery, pregnant mothers go through a “nesting” phase and start getting everything ready for the baby.  You start getting their blankets, clothes, and diapers all ready for when the baby comes.  Even though you may still be living at home with your parents, you are creating a little “nest” for your baby in your room.  This “nest” is created by providing a comfy, safe and warm place for your baby to sleep and grow.

I remember the sweet movie “A Cool Dry Place” that came out when I was pregnant with my first baby.  They were on a picnic and it began to rain… It showed how her “little man” was kept dry by placing him in a little ice chest with the lid off to protect him from the rain.  That is what we do as mothers.  We nurture and  protect our little ones so that they are kept comfortable, warm and dry.  Our arms hold and cuddle our little ones as a duck wraps her feathers around her little ducklings.

God will help you in making your nest as safe and comfy as possible for your little one.  Please do not get overwhelmed by all the “things” that need to be done.  Pace yourself and get plenty of rest.  It will all get done in time.  Many blessings!

To the mama’s that have delivered their babies…

Your little ones are being nurtured, cared and loved by you.  You provide a safe place for them to learn and grow.  Your little ones follow closely behind you just as the little ducklings with their mama duck.  You lead the way for them.  You are leading and guiding them by your example.  They follow after you and learn where to go, what to say, how to respond to all of life’s daily experiences.  You are their mama duck and you are doing a fabulous job!!

I loved watching the mama duck gather all of her ducklings under her wings.  No matter how many she had, only 1 or many, she was able to fit them all under her feathers… You embrace your little ones with loving arms and shelter them under your wings and protect them just as our loving Father shelters us.  He can fit us all underneath His wings at one time. Picture that!

He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.  Psalm 91:4

Our duck family came back to our backyard the very next year and made another nest and had more ducklings. We watched as they made their way into the pool and down to the pond again.  We cherished these moments shared together and will always remember the “duck ducks”!!

God I thank you that you have given each mother a nurturing heart.  May she be able to “Nurture by your Nature” and to truly capture the sweetness and love that you have for them as mama’s, and also capture the sweetness and  love they share with their babies.  

Written by Salina Duffy

What’s Your Cardboard Testimony?

We do this cool thing at the end of each Embrace Grace semester that I LOVE.  We have everyone write out their cardboard testimonies (even some of the leaders). If you don’t know what a cardboard testimony is, it is basically condensing what God has done for you in your life or maybe just in a season and putting the before and after on cardboard. There is something about reflecting back on where you came from and where God brought to you, and putting it into just a few words that make it SO powerful and moving.

I was working on the website this weekend and these pics are just awesome.

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And I found one of mine …

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So I have a question, what is your cardboard testimony? It’s something you should think about sometimes – would love hear yours in our comment section!

Written by Amy Ford

Father to the fatherless

When I was a girl I had imagined that I would go to college find my prince charming and we would get married, drive off into the sunset and live happily ever after. But also during that same time of dreaming about my future, my present world was beginning to crumble.

My parents got a divorce.

My dad was hardly ever around and so I would never get to see him. This crushed my world. I wanted so bad to have a close relationship with my dad. My mom did her best to raise me in church while my father did his own thing. I was allowed to go every other weekend to his house … when he didn’t forget to pick me up. It was horrible, I hated going over there. I was like a mother to him. Even though he was there, he wasn’t. He was strung out on drugs and would sleep all day. He took no interest in me and I had never felt so unloved. I tried to continuously have a relationship with my father and he kept rejecting me.

Not knowing how to handle the pain of rejection from my father, I looked for love elsewhere. I began to party a lot and any guy who would show me any attention, I slept with. But it just left me feeling dirty and leaving an even bigger whole in my heart that just couldn’t be filled no matter how hard I tried. I still continued to live my life wreck less and care free.

My freshman year in college I met a guy who I fell in love. At the time, I thought he was my prince charming. The day after Christmas, I found out I was pregnant. I was scared and worried of the future. When I got through all the pain and fear, my son ended up being the BEST present God could have ever given me even though at the time, I didn’t realize it yet.

My life style changed and I no longer was able to party and the people I called my “friends”, no longer wanted anything to do with me. My “prince charming” quickly turned into the worst guy on the planet! We stayed together but I became a victim to severe mental abuse. I was alone, 3 hours away from any support system and God was grabbing ahold of my heart.

When I was 6 months pregnant, we decided to move back closer to home. I thought things would get better but they actually got worse when we moved. I wanted to leave my son’s father and anytime I would bring up the conversation to move back into my mom’s house he would indirectly threaten me by laying a buck knife on the table or say he would kill himself if I ever left. He did this several times to make me too afraid to leave him. I probably would’ve become a victim to physical abuse if I had stayed any longer (he began shoving). I had to protect my son and myself. I kept praying that God would help me find a way out of this unhealthy and dangerous relationship and when my son was only 4 weeks old, God opened a door for me to escape and I never turned back. He answered my prayer and protected me.

I think the worst feeling anyone can feel is abandonment. It’s one of the biggest issues I had associated with every man I met, is that “eventually they’re going to leave me.”

Being a single mom, trying my very best to care for this baby all alone, I had never felt more alone and depressed in my life. I was in a constant “zombie-like” state for months due to lack of sleep. I loved my baby and I would give and give of myself to him, nurturing him and meeting his every need … but when they are that little, it’s hard to feel the appreciation or any love in return. Through that season of loneliness, I kept hearing God whisper to me over and over again, “It’s going to get better Kaitlin … I promise … Just be patient.”

He never left me and He never abandoned me.  God knew that I felt abandoned by my Father. He knew what it was going to take for me to turn to Him completely … He knew that I needed more of Him to fill this emptiness inside that no man could fill. And he blessed me with a baby to make it happen. God knew me better than myself (I’m a little stubborn). Having a child has given me a greater understanding of God’s love for me. I haven’t always shown love and appreciation but yet He never failed to meet my needs and nurtures me with unconditional love.

I have never been happier to get away from my past and break the chains that were holding me down. God has always been there for me and my son. He is a Father to the fatherless and provides over and above when the men in my life have chosen not to. And it doesn’t matter that they don’t because my God does and always will! Psalm 68:5-6 “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…” And he reminds me daily that just because I have a 2 year old at the age of 21 doesn’t mean that I can’t still fulfill the dreams He has placed in my heart.

I am currently going to school to become a nurse. I work part time and receive little to no child support but I still somehow can afford my apartment and pay my bills which is a miracle! I’m doing this completely on my own with God’s help. I know it is all because God provides for his children if you follow and trust in Him!

My son saved my life and I thank God every day for sending me this little blessing in disguise. 2 Corinthians 12:10 “So I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings and all kinds of troubles. All of these things are for Christ. And I am happy, because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.” And the dreams I had of my prince charming will still come true, he is out there. I am awaiting him patiently and staying pure because I know God will bring him to me when the time is right. I don’t even have to go out and search for him.  In the meantime, I’m going to keep pressing on with my baby and my God!

Written by Kaitlin Wise

How full is your love tank?

How full is your love tank? You know the tank of your heart.  If there was a meter that could read the measure of your hearts love, at this moment, what would the level be?  For instance, since we are moms with little ones and we are very familiar with bath time… Close your eyes with me and visualize a picture of your heart.  When I did this earlier during bath time, I saw my heart resembling a Johnson’s baby soap bottle that is clear so that I can see the liquid soap that is inside.  Do you have the picture in your mind yet?  Ok, so if I was to ask you where is the love liquid level of your heart, the liquid that you can see in this soap bottle, where would the level be? Would it be overflowing, full to the top, midway full, or almost empty?

 

What we put in our heart determines what will flow out.  Let me explain this a little more.  We have all heard that what goes in, must come out… If we are filling our heart with God’s word, messages from our pastors and teachers, worship music, encouraging words from friends, uplifting songs, devotionals, books, etc… then we are filling our hearts with the “good stuff”.   We are able to pour out from our love tank the “good stuff” like love, joy, peace and goodness to those around us. 

 

But, if we are filling our hearts with negative thoughts, worldly things, and media that is not uplifting and brings sadness, discouragement and discontentment, then there is “the not-so good stuff” that will begin to flow out from your heart.   We may start to dwell on the things that we are hearing and absorbing and all these thoughts and information we have heard begin to run free in our heart and minds. Things may arise out of anger, fear, doubts, and the cares of this world and it begins to come out in our actions and attitudes; these things that come out we may wonder “where in the world did that come from?” think back to “what did I fill my heart with today?”

 

Stick with me, we really are going somewhere with this… just hang on.  

 

A few weeks ago our housekeeper, a very sweet lady,  was at our house cleaning.  She walked past the kitchen and we shared a few things that was going on with life in general, you know, how are your kids?  I Told her what had been going on with my kids, and as she walked away to the other room, I said “Oh, Sote, I love you…” She acted shocked to hear these words coming out of my mouth to her.  Almost like she did not usually hear these from her other clients.  I said, oh you know what I mean, I am so thankful for all the work that you do around our home helping me clean up every other week, and for you being “you!”   She said she totally understood and that she could feel God’s love flowing out from me to her.  She even told me she loved me too.  

 

With me it’s normal to say I love you to family and friends, our leaders in embrace grace, all of our sweet mama’s and babies!!  It just come natural for my love to pour out.  

 

Just that morning before Sote had arrived I had been reading a blog post from one of our embrace grace mama’s and my heart was filled up with so much love as I read it!!  It was as if a waterfall had been poured out on me (one of my fav songs is Waterfall by United Pursuit Band) and the chorus says “like a waterfall of honey, let your love be poured out on me, overcome me, overcome me.” 

That was the feeling I had that morning and my love was pouring out onto others.  

 

The night before mothers day just a few days ago, we were in the kitchen and my husband was cooking a fabulous meal and we turned on the radio and this song came on “Something Heavenly” by Sanctus Real. Some of the lyrics that spoke to my heart were: “there’s a wave that’s crashing over me, all I can do is surrender to whatever your doing inside of me, it feels like chaos but somehow there’s peace, it’s hard to surrender to what I can’t see, but I’m giving in to something heavenly. You’re up to something bigger than me, larger than life, something heavenly. It’s time to face up, clean this old house, time to breathe in and let everything out.”

 

All of a sudden I truly felt something heavenly and I could feel Jesus’ love so strongly, I looked at my husband and as I sang the words to the song, he had tears in his eyes.  I said “i feel Jesus so strongly right now at this moment!!” he agreed and felt Him too!

 

Some of the examples I have given of having love poured into me were from a blog post or from songs or even kindness from a friend.  

 

As you pour out your love to your baby, to your family and friends, and those around you, I pray that you are being filled back up somehow/ someway with Jesus’ love.  We all have our own love language so I pray whatever special way He speaks to you, that your heart will be open to receive His love so that you can freely give it away!  

 

I asked Jesus how He sees me and these are the words He wrote upon my heart… nurturing, comforting, soothing and relaxing.  That is how he has created me and what I hope others feel when they are around me.   

 

The fullness of our heart is expressed in our eyes, in our touch, in what we write, in what we say, in the way we walk, the way we receive, the way we need.  – Mother Teresa

 

I will close with this one last song.  This song is so special to me because I first heard it when I was driving to Kairos at Gateway.  Kairos is a freedom ministry that I recommend to everyone!!  This was also just before our first Embrace Grace semester and when I heard these words, I felt God whisper to me “as you give love to the mommies and babies, I’ll return the love so much more than you gave away!!” (in other words as you pour out, I will pour back into you.)  

 

I want my love tank to be overflowing, how about you?  As single mama’s you are pouring out so much every day.  This is my prayer for you:

Jesus will you come and touch each and every heart that is reading this post at this very moment.  May you fill her heart, her love tank, so full that she can not contain it all.  May it be immeasurable!  That it will be spilling out and she will need more bottles to hold all the love that you pour out upon her. So that as she pours out her love on those around her, they can ultimately feel your love Jesus.  Open the floodgates!

 

Give Love

By Third Day

Whisper softly to me
Share with me your heart
And just ignore the world and what it does
I know that you’ve been hurting, you’ve been torn apart
Let me pull you close and hold you in my arms

If you give love
I’ll return the love and you will see
So much more than you gave away
If you give love
Give it to me

Listen very closely as I sing this song
And please believe that I mean every word
When I say I love you
I mean it with all my heart
Let it be the best thing that you’ve ever heard

Whisper softly to me
Share with me your heart

 

“I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of LOVE. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.” Colossians 2:2

 

Write it on your heart that the ones you love are life’s most precious gifts. 

I LOVE YOU!

 

Written by Salina Duffy