Big Love for Big Dreams

I had made it to the other side, the side where the grass truly was greener after the end of a toxic relationship, although I feel quite certain that a baron, stinking wasteland would have produced more life than the parasitic relationship I had escaped. However, from where I stood, I was free and unburdened. I was planted upon plush, green blades of the softest grass and gazing upon a blossoming future of wildflowers.

How did I end up needing to get out of a terrible relationship in the first place? Well, to offer some background, I was always the quiet, good girl. I made good grades, loved everyone I met, prided myself on being responsible, and only made a handful bad choices throughout my childhood and teen years, with minor consequences — nothing life altering. I immediately signed up for full-time college hours after high school and had only one year left of being a teenager. I was breezing through life and my future looked bright. That is, until I very suddenly and accidentally on purpose plunged into Crazyland and into a relationship that would forever change my life. I was a walking oxymoron — my life made no sense whatsoever. I was a “good” girl; I loved God; I was responsible, with dreams galore, yet I had become a much older man’s cook, maid, personal assistant, and worst of all allowed him to use my body for his selfish gratification at any request. Did I want to be living this life? Not at all, but I couldn’t figure out how I had ended up there in the first place, or more, how to get out of the convoluted mess and back to the “easy” life I was living before. Within a mere three months of living this wilder life, I found myself pregnant. And after another three months of living in Make-believeland, where all would turn out dreamy, he would change, and we’d live happily ever after, I found out this man had an appalling past that required him to register as a sex offender. Needless (or not) to say, I cut all communication upon this discovery, but the breaking of my heart for the person I wanted him to be or turn into continued for months, as did the growing of my impregnated belly. Eventually, my mother and I moved into a beautiful home farther away from that man, I had my beautiful daughter, and I was invited to an empowering, life-giving church that was walking me through healing, and encouraging a future far better than I could have ever dreamt, even in my life before my giant lapse of judgement. Healing or not, though, I had no intention of ever dating, getting married, or having another baby with anyone ever again. It was me and my Jesus. He was my first, true love and He was all I’d ever need.
So, there I was — standing in my kitchen at seven o’clock in the morning, groggy eyed, waiting for my shot of espresso to brew for my usual morning latte, thirty minutes before my baby woke up (yes, she was that predictable). Life was peaceful, I was healing, and this was life on the greener side. When suddenly, a stranger’s thought swept across my mind.

I can’t wait to have another baby with my future husband someday.

Excuse me, I corrected myself. This thought was like stepping barefoot on a lego, an adrenaline rush at its finest. I wanted nothing to do with getting married or having another baby. Ever. In fact, the day before I had joked with a friend about how far fetched this desire was from my mind, when she implied that parenting would be easier and so different when I was doing it with my other half and future babies. I was married to Jesus and nothing was going to change that, because He was the only one who would love me like I deserved. But for some strange reason when I repeated the thought to myself again I felt a familiar peace rain down, encompassing my entire body, from the inside out. Jesus was telling me this. He was telling me I could not wait to have a baby with my future husband someday. The peace was familiar because on a day, long ago, I once dreamed of being married to a totally hot man and raising beautiful little babies with him. Jesus was restoring this dream. Right there in my kitchen, before I had even had my coffee (I’m a fiend), He rocked my entire world and restored what was probably the most intense desire of my entire life and heart; He restored a desire I had suppressed and cancelled out because of my past hurt, bitterness, and the idea that I would never find someone who would love me after all of that mess, with a baby. I was certain my dreams had been cut short because I got pregnant as a teenager and I was a young, single mom.
That revelation in the kitchen was two years ago this month. And only two months after that I began dating my husband, Kyle. He instantly loved me — and my baby. He instantly showed me more respect and honor than any man ever had in my entire life. This man who after walking me to my car after church one evening, stood there and said if I chose to never tell him about my past, about how my daughter came to be, he would still love me, because he loved who I was, who she was, and the past is where all of that could stay, if I so chose. I knew this man was the real deal, because I had put aside that time with just Jesus. I learned who Jesus was and allowed Him to show me who I was magnificently created to be — a daughter of The King; The King who wanted the best for His daughter. I pursued Jesus and abandoned control of my heart to Him, so I could feel romance in its truest, deepest, most breathtaking form, from the man who loved me so much that He died for me. I learned how strongly, passionately, and respectfully I should be pursued by a man on this earth, so if any counterfeit approached again I could call his bluff from a mile away. I knew when Kyle respected me and wholeheartedly loved me regardless of my messy past, like Jesus had, he was “the one,” not to mention he is totally hot. We have been married for a year and almost four months, he adopted my beautiful first daughter, and we’ve since had a second precious daughter. The man is surrounded by girls and he LOVES it! I am now living the dream God’s whisper restored to me in my kitchen that morning, and this dream leaves me speechless and takes my breath away every single day.
This same God, who restored this dream of mine and so many more, says this to you, as well:
I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out — plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (MSG)

Is there something you have sworn off — men (a husband), future children, or something else that was once a dream in your heart? There is a God who longs to pursue you with beautiful, reckless abandon. He longs to rock your world with the restoration of all your dreams and even more. Maybe you need to ask Him to show you how to be pursued, to remind you of your value and worth. Maybe you need to allow Him to be the only man in your life for a while, so you can spot a fraud when you meet one, or even just spend some time asking Him to recall and restore dreams you threw out a long time ago. He is eagerly waiting for you to ask Him. Call on Him and allow Him room to show off His BIG LOVE for your big dreams today.
Written by Jackie Fox

I LOVE to hear her SING to Me…

A few weeks ago my boys and I went to Hawaiian Falls for some fun in the sun.  Little did we know that on the same day Girl Scout Troops had also planned a full day to play at the water park too.  So tons of little girls were all giggling around us having fun on the water slides, floating down the lazy river, standing under the huge bucket of water and feeling it downpour on their heads and so much more.

They had a DJ announcing karaoke time and the little girls rushed to get in line.  They searched over the music list wanting to sing to their favorite tunes.  The line began to get longer and longer as the girls were waiting to sing their hearts out.  They were clapping and jumping up and down and so excited.

Lots of girls sang, but this one girl stood out to me the most. She was around 6 years old.  She walked out to the center of the stage and held onto her microphone and looked out into the crowd.  Her mom was recording her on video and capturing the moment.  The song began to play and she began to sing. She sang with such a confidence and a sweet innocence of a little child.

She sang “who says, who says you’re not perfect, who says you’re not worth it, who says you’re not pretty, who says you’re the only one that’s hurtin’, who says you’re not beautiful… Who Says” by Selena Gomez.

The words to the song and the little girl singing began stirring up something inside of me that I have not been able to shake.

I felt the same thing yesterday at church during worship.  We were seated in overflow room and a sweet Embrace Grace mama that is pregnant sat beside me and she was holding her little 3 year old girl in her arms.  She was singing her heart out to Jesus.  I had my eyes closed for a moment and could just hear her voice singing and I heard a whisper…

“Tell her I love to hear her sing to Me!”

I looked over at her and smiled.  She had what looked like a tear falling down her cheek and she said “she is singing with me”.  Her little 3 year old daughter was singing along with her mommy to Jesus.

That made Jesus smile!! He loves to hear us sing to Him.  We can be singing in the shower, singing our baby to sleep, singing along to the radio, singing with the worship team, or even making up our own melody.  Jesus absolutely loves to hear us sing to Him.

I will sing a song to the Lord.”  Judges 5:3

“I’m singing my heart out to God.”  Exodus 15:1

No matter if we are feeling happy, sad or a little in between,  we can sing and praise Him and it begins to lift our hearts. Begin to sing to Jesus and everything else seems to melt away in His Presence.

Now, back to that song that the little girl scout was singing… the lyrics to the song keep ringing in my ear even now as I am typing this.  I am sure you have heard this song and have sang along to it on the radio many times.  Look with me at these words like you have not heard this song before and I hope it speaks to you in a whole new way.

“Who Says” by Selena Gomez

I wouldn’t wanna be anybody else, hey

You made me insecure,
Told me I wasn’t good enough.
But who are you to judge
When you’re a diamond in the rough?
I’m sure you got some things
You’d like to change about yourself.
But when it comes to me
I wouldn’t want to be anybody else.

Na na na na na na na na na na na na na

I’m no beauty queen
I’m just beautiful me

You’ve got every right
To a beautiful life

Who says, who says you’re not perfect?
Who says you’re not worth it?
Who says you’re the only one that’s hurtin’?
Trust me, that’s the price of beauty
Who says you’re not pretty?
Who says you’re not beautiful?
Who says?

It’s such a funny thing
How nothing’s funny when it’s you
You tell ‘em what you mean
But they keep whiting out the truth
It’s like a work of art
That never gets to see the light
Keep you beneath the stars
Won’t let you touch the sky

Who says you’re not star potential?
Who says you’re not presidential?
Who says you can’t be in movies?
Listen to me, listen to me
Who says you don’t pass the test?
Who says you can’t be the best?
Who said, who said?
Won’t you tell me who said that?
Yeah, who said?

Who says you’re not perfect?
Who says you’re not worth it?
Who says you’re the only one that’s hurtin’?
Trust me, (yeah) that’s the price of beauty
Who says you’re not pretty? (Who says you’re not beautiful?)
Who says? 

We know who puts those thoughts and lies in our head- the enemy does.

Let’s fight back with singing our hearts out to Jesus!

Jesus says you are worth it!  You are pretty! You are beautiful! And You can do anything you dream.

He says:  “I Love to hear you sing to Me!  Start today. You have a beautiful voice.   Lift up your voice to Me.  Just open up your mouth and let the words come out. Sing a new song to me.”

Written by Salina Duffy

Heart of a Teen Dad continued …

ImagePicking adoption profiles was so much fun although so painful.  Just having to picture my daughter with another family for my entire life brought mixed emotions.  Having to let go of her for the rest of my life seemed almost impossible.  We chose a family that both Jordyn and I felt amazing about.  We set up a time to meet them so we can get to know them.  There was only about 3 weeks left until our baby was to be born so it was time to start asking some simple yet important questions that we were curious about. 

 

“How open will our adoption actually be?”

“Will you go on daddy-daughter dates with her?”

“Will you love her as much as I love her?”

Asking more and more questions, I was starting to realize all the emotions involved with this decision. The realization of the entire situation was hitting me hard.  I had to ask all of the questions that I would have asked myself if I were to raise her. 

I felt great about our family choice and the decision to place her in their loving arms.  What I wasn’t sure about is if I would be able to overcome this knot forming in my stomach.  A few days before I was to become a father, I cried myself to sleep every night.  This should be a happy time for all of us.  But I guess my circumstances were different.

The continuing lack of support from my family only made things more difficult more me.  Their constant anger towards me for the decision for adoption only hurt me worse.  I had made it that far without them so I knew I could get through this too.  Deep down in my heart I knew I was making the perfect decision.  Even though the decision was difficult, God gave me peace about our decision and that was all I needed.  God has always been there for me, holding my heart and comforting me like a real Father does. 

May 26, 2011 finally came.  All this anticipation and patience for the past 9 months is finally paying off!  Jordyn was admitted into the hospital. Her belly looked like it could just pop at any second!  We were anxiously waiting for her to be induced so we could begin our brand new life on the road to happy ever after.  What came next change my life forever.

“Just a few more pushes Jordyn, just a few more! You’re doing great!” 

Baby Abby popped out like a champ.  I cut the umbilical cord. An overwhelming sense of happiness and excitement just completely overcame me.  I was in shock. She was even more beautiful and more perfect than I could ever imagine.  Her smooth skin felt as smooth as silk to the touch.  Her deep sea-blue eyes captured my heart.  Her chunky cheeks were so precious I could just kiss them every day for the rest of my life.  Her full head of hair only added to her angelic beauty.  I felt so deeply in love with her. I was completely speechless.  I could not take my eyes off her.  Every second not loving on her was felt like a second that was wasted.  Abby was and still is, my treasure, my true love, my heart and soul, my absolute everything.  After holding her in my arms kissing her repeatedly, I was mesmerized by every inch of her. 

Everything felt so worth it. I would never take back everything we have gone through, all the hard times. She was worth every second of it. 

Abby is the greatest gift God could have ever blessed me with.  She is more perfect in every way than I could ever imagine.  Tears streamed down my face, as family showed up to comfort us.  There had been so much pulling and tugging on my heart regarding the decision to place Abby with another family.  But I would want nothing more than to give Abby the best life possible, and that would only come true if she was in more caring and capable arms.  Our decision became final.

Abby, we want the best out of life for you. Daddy loves you, sweetheart.

 Written by Josh Malkosky

 

1 Step

Image

I have a challenge for you this week. It may seem really simple to some … but it may seem huge for others.

My challenge is for you to take 1 step towards your dream.

I’m not talking about your dream of getting married or your dream of having a huge house or anything like that. I’m talking about a dream that is all yours. It is a dream that you have for yourself.

My husband has always had a dream of being in an Ironman Triathlon. He has always been mesmerized by the stories and watching the big Hawaiian one ever year. He has always said it was his dream. One year from today, is the big Triathlon that he wanted his first big one to be, so he made the commitment and found a buddy to do it with him, and he’s going to finally make his dream a reality. He’s buying his ticket next week and he will push himself until that dream happens, no matter how hard it might get.

Maybe your dream is to be a writer … or a speaker … or start a company … or try acting? Whatever dream it is, it is YOUR dream. God is the author of dreams – He is speaking to you. Are you stopping long enough to listen?

I’m sure if you’ve already had your baby, you have noticed how fast time is flying. It seems like yesterday that your baby was born. It’s just going to fly faster and faster – the time is NOW. There’s never a “perfect time.”

So what is your dream? What is it that you have always had a desire to do? It might seem like you are gifted in this area and maybe even people have even confirmed this gift in you through compliments or encouragements. So let’s give it a try. Let’s capture the moment and make something happen. Let’s step out of our comfort zones for the ultimate fun life! What do you have to lose? Even if you don’t win the gift card, at least I gave you a little push!

So here is my challenge for you: If you take a valid step towards your dream that you have not taken before between now and July 10th, and you write me at Amy.Ford@iEmbraceGrace.com on your story of what your dream is, why it is your dream, and what step you have taken towards your dream, I will have some of my closest friends help me read through them and make a decision based on the biggest step and the best story. The winner will receive a $50 gift card to wherever you choose.

PS If you are unsure what your dream is, I would like you to encourage you to put your phone, computer, TV and all other distractions away. Get your Bible out and journal, and go spend some alone time with God – He will speak to you I promise. And also, another tool to get the ball rolling on finding what you are good at, I encourage you to get the Strengthfinder 2.0 book – it reveals awesome gifts inside of you.  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/strengthsfinder-20-tom-rath/1101999965?ean=9781595620156

NOTE: This challenge is for anyone and everyone – even if you are not single and pregnant – even if you are a senior citizen or a guy or ANYONE. I can’t wait to hear your stories!!

Written by Amy Ford

The Light of my Life

When i was 20, i was living with my boyfriend and doing my party scene.
We were really living our life, having alot of fun. We were going out and enjoying time with friends.  I thought I had my life made for myself. I finally met a man that my mom actually approved of and I saw my “happily ever after” with.
Right when I thought I was in the fun time of my life, things began to feel different with me …
I started to notice that I had become extremely exhausted all the time.
I remember i was watching Juno, the movie and caught myself thinking “oh my gosh … i have all the same symptoms Juno is having.” Just a flurry of thoughts were bombarding my mind. “No no no, there is no way. I couldnt be. Could I be really pregnant?”
The next morning, after my Juno movie night with my best friend, I took about 12 pregnancy tests.  The first one, the + sign immediately popped up. Still in shock and denial, I needed to take 12 more before it finally sunk in. I called my boyfriend and told him we needed to talk when he got home. I then called my best friend, and told her. I remembered her pulling over to the side of the road and just her pausing on the phone.  She asked the question “What are you going to do Court?”
I hung up the phone with tears in my eyes asking myself the very same question. What am I going to do? 
After hanging up the phone with my best friend, I called and scheduled a doctors appointment. Shortly after I texted my mom. I told her that I really needed a friend and someone to talk to. Her mothers intuition kicked in full gear. She replied with, “What’s going on? What’s wrong.” She knew immediately I was pregnant.  The breath was taken from me.
After finding out i was 5 weeks pregnant, the questions started flashing through my head. My boyfriend started getting into my head on how we couldn’t afford a baby, how we’re not ready, how we couldn’t provide the life our child would deserve. I went to a clinic feeling so disgusted with myself for being at the one place I always told myself I would never go to.
When we pulled up, there were protesters standing outside the clinic. I went inside and quickly signed in. I still kept questioning my decision but before I could decide on an answer, a counselor called out my name. She began discussing my options … I remember them pricking my finger to check my iron level. They said to me, “I’ve never seen someone so devastated…”
I was moved into a room to do an ultrasound to check on my embryo. I couldn’t keep my tears in.I kept thinking please let there be a sign, anything to show me what to do. The nurse looked at the screen and said, “I think you need to give this another week or two to think about. We can’t see an embryo, so come back in 2 weeks and we’ll check again and see if this is what you really want to do.”
I got up and walked out. I remember my boyfriend being so confused on why I didn’t go through with it. I couldn’t explain it to him. He was a guy and he’d never understand what I was having to go through. We raced out of there quick.
Two weeks later, I went back to the clinic. They called me back and I told the counselor I had decided I going to keep my child. She smiled at me, and said good luck. I remember walking out of the clinic with my friend of mine and a protestor came up to me to check on me. I looked at her and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much! I am keeping my baby!”
My mom had always supported anything I would decide but she said, “make sure it’s a decision you can live with.” I told my boyfriend i was keeping my baby. I couldn’t go through with an abortion. He was not happy with my decision. He got scared and he left me. I was devastated.
I had my mom, and my best friend by my side. The day I found out I was having a little girl, I was excited for all the cute little things I wanted to get her. Since little girl stuff is so adorable! My mom was at every sonogram appointment with me, cried with me at each one and was excited for me at the same time.
When my sweet baby little girl Harlie was born, I felt at that moment that the world had stopped just for me. She was the light of my life. She was the reason for living, my reason to do better and to push myself to the limits I never thought I would go. I cried. She was the most precious baby I’ve ever seen weighing 9 lbs 21 inches.. I felt so blessed.
My mom cried with me tears of joy. It really made me realize that my mother was incredible. She’d been my motivational cheerleader my entire pregnancy. When I had no one else, she was there with me every day. I craved to be just like her to my sweet little Harlie as she was a single mother of two.
Life as a single mom it was definitely harder and different but so worth it.
When Harlie was 6 months old, I decided to go finish a college and become a dental assistant. I did it! I finished and graduated. I have been a dental assistant for 3 years and I’m getting ready to go back to college for either Therapist/Counselor, Childrens Psychology, Labor and delivery nurse.
My life is so full and rewarding. When I get stressed out, I’m exhausted but I would never trade any of it for the world. She’s my reason for changing my life. She’s my strength, my growth, my reason for everything.
Those of you who go through pregnancy alone, don’t be afraid. Life does get better. Life can be SO rewarding.
Never lose faith. ❤
Written by Cortkney Higgs

No Fear

Just wanted to share with you what I’m reading too! Please go read my bff Alyse Krause’s blog today: FREE FALLING.

It’s amazing. http://storyofgrace8.blogspot.com/

Her blog made me remember this amazing quote that Bishop TD Jakes once said that I love and really makes you think …. are you ready for it? 😉

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAD NO FEAR? …

Whatever the answer is, that is what fear is robbing you from. 

So my question for you today is, what would you do if you had no fear? I would love to hear from you! Let’s be transparent and share ❤

Daddy’s Little Girl

Father’s Day was getting close and I wanted to pick out my Dad a card and mail to him.  I began searching for just the right card.  Each and every one I picked up at the store and  began to read, I would quickly shut the card and place back where I had found it.  My thoughts were, no that’s not how I felt as a child.  Nope, that was not our life together.  So I kept searching and reading each card, still hoping to find the one that best suited me and my Dad.

Then I found one that was very fitting.  It was sweet and simple.  On the front it read…

 “There is a time for Everything.” Ecclesiastes 3

It had a picture of a daddy and his little girls feet hanging over the edge of a dock overlooking the lake.  This was a picture that I remembered us sharing when I was little.  We would walk up and down the dock at my grandparents lake house in East Texas and share stories together.  He would always say “you know I love you don’t you.” I always shook my head yes.

Then I opened up the card and read the inside.  “a time to tell you thank you for being my Dad.” It was very short, sweet and simple and exactly what I wanted to say.  I added my own words inside and shared how much I loved our days at the lake together.

Let me share just a little bit of my story as a child.  My Mom and Dad fell in love at a very early age.  She was only 15 years old and she just knew he was the one.  He was 5 years older than her.  He asked her to marry him and she said yes!  The laws in Texas back in the 70’s required that you had to be at least 16 years of age to marry.  So, they went to Hugo, Oklahoma where it was legal to marry at the age of 15.  My parents had a lot of ups and downs during their first few years together.

She was so excited when she found out she was pregnant with me at 16.  She always tells me that all she ever wanted was a baby to love.  She delivered me on her 17th birthday.  She says I was the best present she could have ever asked for.

My parents had a lot of rocky things going on in their marriage and they tried to make it work.  But, before I was 2, they divorced.  A little later my Dad came to pick me up from my Grandparents house and said he was taking me out for some ice cream.  I went missing for about a week and my Mom had no idea where I was and she was worried sick.  She prayed and hoped that I would be found.  Thankfully her prayers were answered and I was found and placed safely back in her arms.

Things happened between them that I could not have helped.  I was just a child.  (the enemy meant this for harm and a feeling of abandonment set in on my heart at such a young age)

 I remember as a child always wanting to be a daddy’s girl. So many of my friends were and they even had little silver bracelet’s saying Daddy’s girl and wore them proudly to school.  I would look at their arms and long to be able to wear a bracelet too.  Oh how I longed for that relationship.

I saw my dad here and there as a child but we were never really close.  A few years ago I wrote my Dad a letter forgiving him for not being there for me as a child when I needed him most.  Since then we have had such healing and restoration in our relationship and I feel closer to him now more than ever. He calls me his little girl and I call him Daddy.

My mom just sent me a text on June 14th and it read “38 years ago today I was on my way to Oklahoma to marry your Dad.  Time flies! So glad I did. You were so worth it!”

I did not even know the date of their wedding.  It had been so long ago and I was so little.  This began to stir up feelings in my heart that I did not even know were still there.  Then my heart began thinking of how things could have been so different if we lived in a perfect world and they could have stayed together.  How things might have been, you know… different.  But we live in a fallen world and daddy’s sometimes leave and things do not always work out.

Sometimes we may not understand everything.  That night as I sat and thought more about it, my heart began to heal and sweet cleansing tears poured down my cheeks.  I did not even know that I had this all bottled up inside.  I have experienced kairos, freedom classes and healing of my heart in many ways, and I did not even realize that was tucked in there. It felt so good to let it all out.  I expressed my heart to God and He whispered softly to me as I cried and I felt Him hold me close.

You may have longed for a Daddy’s girl bracelet and to have that closeness just as I did as a child. This past Father’s Day may have been a little bittersweet for you too.  Maybe like me you have always dreamed of that Daddy’s girl closeness with your earthly Father.  Or maybe you felt sadness because your child’s baby daddy is not in the picture.

Let me encourage you and share with you what God whispered softly to my heart. It was something that I already knew; but to hear Him say it melted my heart and I hope that you can feel it too.

I am a Daddy’s girl and always have been.  My Daddy in Heaven has always been here for me. He never left me alone.  He always has and always will love me and YOU!

You are a Daddy’s girl too and always will be.

Daddy’s little girl paints the world with her little fingers.  Daddy’s little child breathes new life for the morning time for me.  Though we’re apart, her thoughts follow me.  She smiles with the dawn and she radiates a glow around her halo.  When she plays, Daddy smiles, on a summer day Daddy smiles.  Daddy’s little girl ties her ribbon around my heart.  (from the movie uptown girls)

 Every story has an end. But in life every ending is just a new beginning.  – Dakota Fanning

Written by Salina Duffy