Best Comeback EVER.

What do you do when someone is rude to you for no reason? What about when someone constantly finds fault in you and criticizes EVERYTHING you do? Or what about that baby daddy of yours that you used to love but now he acts hateful and abrasive to you every time you have to interact with him?

It’s simple yet for some, could be the most difficult act to do. LOVE.

One of the Embrace Girls, Mia, posted a facebook status last week that she was in the Starbucks drive through line and she was placing her order into the speaker. The lady behind her apparently thought she was taking a few seconds too long to pick out her coffee. She started honking her horn right there in the line, trying to get her to hurry up.  Mia quickly placed her order and drove around to pay for her drink.

Mia had several choices on how to handle this situation. She could ignore and disregard the lady as just another crazy lady in the Starbucks line and go about her day completely forgetting about it. She could respond with anger by doing or saying something that she might regret later to the irrational woman. She could have also gotten out of her car and preached a sermon to her about patience, kindness and self-control.

The simple simple response Mia came back with could very well have changed the woman’s life. 

When Mia drove up to the window to pay, she paid for the lady’s coffee behind her, and then drove away.

Can you imagine how the lady behind her felt when she drove up to the window to get her (apparently) much needed and urgent coffee, only to find out that the lady she just honked at rudely, just bought her coffee? I’m sure her heart must have just sunk into her stomach. You know what I’m talking about. That sinking feeling that you said too much, you lost your temper or overreacted. It just eats at you and you wish you could go back and do it over again.

Any of the other reactions Mia could have had, would have had a completely different outcome I’m sure. If Mia would have ignored her, the lady would have just paid for her coffee and drove off in a huff, still annoyed by the inconvenience of an extra 60 seconds in the drive-thru line. If Mia would have responded with anger, it only would have fueled the lady’s anger even more and who knows how it could have ended (people are crazy ya’ll). If Mia would have gotten out to preach to her, the lady would have gotten defensive and felt like Mia was attacking her with a religious spirit and that Mia must think she is better than everyone else.

Instead, Mia responded with love. A random act of kindness to someone undeserving. Assuming the woman has a conscience, she must have drove away feeling slightly ashamed and disappointed in the way she had acted. Most likely, the next time she was in a hurry at a red light, or in a drive through, or at the bank she will remember that coffee. She will be a little more patient. I think we can learn a lot from Mia’s sweet spirit and intentional kindness … even when it’s hard.

Don’t ever stop praying for the person. Hurt people hurt people. You have no idea what kind of day they are having or what they are going through in their life at the time or in their past, to make them react the way they do. PRAY.

“Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.” {Matthew 5:38-42 MSG}

Is there anyone in your life that it just seems like there is constant animosity that will never end? Do you have any ideas to be intentional with your kindness toward the person?

*Disclaimer:  It’s always good to create healthy boundaries from people that constantly trample your heart over and over. There is not a person in the world that deserves to be mistreated or abused physically or mentally. If you are abused physically, PLEASE leave and get help immediately! If you have someone in your family or someone that you are tied to for various reasons (like sharing a kid with the person), you can be nice but also have boundaries. Seek a professional counselor as well.  I recommend the book BOUNDARIES by Dr. Henry Cloud for great advice on the issue.

Written by Amy Ford

perfect {LOVE}

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God Always! Always looks for the best, never looks back but keeps going to the end.”       {1 Corinthians 13:4}
For the past few months I was kind of in a funk. I was getting impatient and irritated with God for not bringing my Godly husband for me and my son. I finally just asked, “God, is there something unresolved in my heart keeping me from my Godly husband? Please show me…”
The answer I got was a clear YES.
I was confused and unsure what it could be. Around the same time, I began to have frequent dreams bringing back horrible memories I had with my sons’ father.  One morning I turned on the local Christian radio station looking for an answer. God speaks to me a lot through music and this song came on by Tenth Avenue North, I Feel Like I’ve Been Losin’
I can’t believe what she said
I can’t believe what he did
Oh, don’t they know it’s wrong
Don’t they know it’s wrong
Well maybe there’s something I missed
But how could they treat me like this
It’s wearing out my heart
The way they disregard
 
This is love or this is hate…
We all have a choice to make
 
Oh, Father wont You forgive them
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’
 
Well it’s only the dead that can live
But still I wrestle with this
To lose the pain that’s mine
Seventy times seven times
Cause Lord it doesn’t feel right
For me to turn a blind eye
Though I guess it’s not that much
When I think of what You’ve done.
 
This is love or this is hate…
We gotta a choice to make
 
Oh Father won’t You forgive them
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’
 
Why do we think that our hate’s gonna break a hard heart
We’re rippin arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
Cause pride wont let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but it’s just to burn them down
We think our pain is own apologies and get them to stop
Well truth be told it doesn’t matter if their sorry or not
Cause freedom comes when we surrender to the sound
Of Your mercy and Your grace, Father, send Your angels down
I immediately knew I had unforgiveness in my heart towards my sons’ father. I had repressed the pain and just tried to act like he didn’t exist. I tried to reason with God and looking back, this is silly but this was my response to him out of anger, “God he hurt me…he HURT me!! Isn’t this understandable? How could anyone ever truly get over what all he’s done to me.” 
For those that don’t know my situation, I was in an abusive and dangerous relationship that God delivered me and my precious baby boy from safely when he was only 4 weeks old.
What I heard God saying to me rocked my world. He said to me, “If you don’t forgive him, I can’t forgive you… Pray for him.” 
Really? Pray for him? That’s what’s going to fix me?
I decided to just trust God and began to pray for my sons’ father. Through that process, I couldn’t believe the change in my heart!  I felt so unburdened and just peaceful and free. I recommend it to anyone who is going through any unresolved unforgiveness. It really works! And I’ve since made a commitment to God to pray for him every day, morning and night. It’s not only to keep me from going back to feeling resentful but also, this guy needs Jesus and if it takes 30 years of prayer for his life and God to intersect, I will know I did what I felt like God wanted me to do which is to pray for your enemies and not to curse them because God loves him just as much as God loves me.
This is my daily prayer, “God I thank you for all you’ve done for me.  You’re a God who can do the impossible. I ask you for a miracle in (enter name’s) life. I pray that you will knock on the doors of his heart until he can’t ignore you any longer.  Change his life and heal his broken heart. In Jesus name, Amen.”
I realize now that there may be other things God wants to work on in me first, before he unites me with my Godly husband. I have peace with that now because I don’t want to bring baggage from a past relationship into another one recreating another unhealthy relationship. And I’m ok with it being just me and God for a while. I still have a lot to learn about perfect {LOVE}, 1 Corinthians 13:4, so I can not only HAVE an amazing husband, but I can BE an AMAZING wife!
Is there anything you are holding on to that God may be trying to resolve in your heart? Do you need to let go of hurt and pain so you can experience the ultimate LOVE that God wants for us to fully give and receive? 
Written by Kaitlin Wise

Will you Answer the Call?

“You are called to greatness. Not to small things, but to incredibly great things. You know you weren’t created for something ordinary. You know there’s something on the inside of you. God put you on the planet for something extraordinary. There are many things that are going to rise up out of this house that will impact the world, because it’s a great house. God attaches you to that greatness for a purpose. All of us can do a whole lot more connected to a bigger thing than trying to run off and do our own thing. Connect yourself to what God is doing here, and you will find your place. “ -Christine Caine (Pink Impact 2008)

I remember when Chris was on stage and the presence of God was so thick … She prophetically spoke over the women of Gateway Church and I had chills, or what I like to call them, Godbumps. She then followed it with, “There are some of you in here that are called to something BIG. You have a stirring in your heart right now … raise your hand if you feel like God is calling you to something BIG?” My heart started beating fast as I raised my hand in the air. I felt God calling and I accepted the mission.

A few minutes later, God gave me the vision of Embrace Grace.

The vision was only a glimpse of what He was calling me to. It’s like a big puzzle … and God gives me a little piece here, and a little over there and it slowly starts to fill up to make a beautiful picture of His grace and love … His heart.

I still don’t have the entire puzzle complete. I just take each piece and trust God with it and wait for Him to show me how it connects. Hear … Believe … Obey. He never showed me the final picture … I just had to trust Him along the way.

Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it feels like I can’t keep up and sometimes our leadership placed over us said to SLOW DOWN. My favorite quote, one of my Pastors’ said to me and Salina, “The reason why the Titanic sunk is because it went too fast. It was an amazing machine but it wasn’t ready and went too fast.” And he was SO right. Just like Chris’s quote above, “Connect yourself to what God is doing here, and you will find your place,” we respected the authority that God placed over us, even if it didn’t make sense.

Looking back now, it TOTALLY makes sense.

But overall, this whole entire process of living on faith and not knowing what each day holds is the most FUN and awesome life ride I have ever been on! As a leader, serving girls with a crisis pregnancy and introducing them to a God that has been waiting for their hearts so He can put the broken pieces together again and make a beautiful story of redemption is the most fulfilling place to serve I have ever encountered. I have front row seats to miracles because they are so hungry for God and desperate for a change in their life. Any time I even talk about Embrace Grace and how the whole process works, I start talking super fast and bubbly, I can’t stop smiling, and by the end of it, I’m crying … and it’s been FOUR years! Do you know how many times I have shared about what Embrace Grace is? TONS. It STILL gets my emotions. I LOVE IT. THIS IS the LIFE Jesus was talking about in John 10:10: “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” {MSG}

Embrace Grace girls are the sweetest and most beautiful mommas I have ever been around.  

God really, really, REALLY loves His girls … all He wants is their heart. I love them SO much too. I’m so glad I get to serve them!

We are growing and I’m getting inquiries daily about churches across the country wanting information to begin the program at their home church. I still don’t have the whole picture but I’m in it for the long haul, for as long as He wants me to. It is SO fun to wake up and have no idea what will happen that day but have such expectancy for greatness.

We have a major {HUGE} announcement coming very soon that we are SO excited to share with you!  We will let you know when it will be posted!

So what is God stirring in your heart? You know you weren’t created for something ordinary either … you were called to greatness. What is God stirring in your heart? Where are you called to serve? Even if you can’t see the whole picture, what baby step is God placing in your heart? Take a step into your calling and destiny! 

He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. No excuses!

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Eph 3:20

Written by Amy Ford

My Perfect Husband

Image

Here’s a little bit about me. I grew up in a Christian family, went to church every Sunday, and was involved in my youth group as much I possibly could be. I even went to Christian school.

I was as Christian as they come…or so everyone thought.

I always listened to and respected my parents. Overall my family was functional and happy.

Straight out of high school I moved to Dallas, TX from West Virginia to go to art school. I had a boyfriend that I was crazy about so he came to visit every so often. After about six months, both of us were tired of not being together and having such a long distance relationship.

So my boyfriend moved to Texas… without my parents knowing.

My parents weren’t exactly fond of him because, well, we had been having sex and my mom knew that. So my boyfriend moved in with me and we were living the dream. I went to school, he worked and everything seemed to be so awesome.

As time went on I kept realizing how wrong the whole thing was … keeping it from my parents, lying, having sex, living together. That led me to call my parents to tell them everything. After a nasty and horribly emotional break up, my now ex- boyfriend moved back to West Virginia.

Little did I know, I was pregnant.

After he moved away, we continued to talk and fight mostly because he started new relationships with multiple girls. I started feeling really strange, and by strange I mean constantly throwing up. That’s when I knew I was pregnant. I took a test and of course, it was positive. I then called my ex and told him the news followed by my parents.

Since that day a lot has changed. I’ve grown up more than I thought I ever would. I found out who my friends are and gained new ones. I became a mom! Another thing that has grown is my intense desire to have “the man of my dreams,” my husband.

As one can imagine, being a single mom can be really tough. Often times I think of how much easier it would be if I just had a husband. Recently, I keep asking God to bring the man He picked out for me … and FAST. Just hurry up already!

Over the last few months, God has been speaking to me about things that I want to share with you. Obviously, the relationship I was in with my ex was not God’s idea of a healthy relationship but that is completely what I have been used to in the past.

While praying I said, “God, please can you just give me my husband already?”
In response He said, “Olivia, can I be your husband right now?”

Whoa…

God wants to be a husband to a young, single mom…he wants to be MY husband. The fact is, He really does! Once I let God be my husband my heart was satisfied. I have never been in a relationship so pure. I’m learning what unconditional love feels like. I’m feeling what it’s like to be truly romanced and swept away. I’m seeing how a relationship should be. I’m in a relationship with the one that is the definition of LOVE. I can’t imagine what my marriage will be like with my earthly husband now.

I know it can be discouraging as a single mom to stay single so why don’t you get married?

There’s a God that wants to marry you the moment you’re ready. He wants to romance you, talk to you, spend time with you, and honor you.

Don’t stress. God has it all worked out. There’s a reason your man hasn’t come a long yet. Maybe it’s work God has to do in you like showing you what a relationship should be or giving you confidence in yourself. Maybe He’s preparing your man to be the perfect father for your little one. Whatever God is doing, He’s doing right so don’t settle for anything other than THE man He chose for Y-O-U.

While I wait for the man God has for me I will remain happily married. 

Written by Olivia Boyd,

20 years old

So Charming …

ImageI haven’t wore it in a while because I’m always on the computer working and it just gets in the way and jingles too much but I still LOVE it. I love all the meanings of each charm and how God showed me through nature or circumstance around me, His dreams for me and how much He loves me. Salina still wears her ALL the time and God speaks to her so much through nature. Every time I have an out-of-the-ordinary encounter with nature, I call up Salina and ask her what it means … and she always has an answer. I pulled out my journal read through what God showed me and Salina:

Ladybug :: God loves his little ladies. It’s a promise of His love and was given to Salina about all of us and His Embrace Grace mommies and babies. 

Butterfly :: New Life, New Beginnings, Transformation

Deer :: God showed me a mommy deer with her baby following and they were crossing a stream and taking a drink. I need to be a mom to my kids and lead them to His still and quiet waters. 

Book (open) :: this goes with the prophecy I received, that I need to write a book or stories that God has been writing on my heart. ** This is happening right now! 

Bee :: this goes also with a vision someone had of me (that didn’t even know me), of a busy, busy bee flying around pollenating His word into women’s hearts around me. 

Chair :: Mercy Seat. To go before God and stay clean and pure before Him. 

Teapot :: This came along after I served in the kitchen on a HeartQuest  … to always be serving everyone in my life. 

Baby Carriage :: this is my Embrace Grace charm. To always be praying for the mommies and babies. 

Broken Chain :: Alyse bought me this one. It represents my freedom in Christ and I have been set free. 

3 Colored Crystals :: Jess, Mackenzie and Landry – their birthstones. To always pray for my children. **I need to buy Judah one now!

Lizard :: to stop having a life of “busyness” – take time to rest. 

Tiara :: I am a daughter of the King. (I have 2 of these)

Crystal Cross :: Just a cool cross 🙂

Hummingbird :: Don’t make a “buzz” about myself. It’s not the Amy-Show everywhere I go.  **And my sweet friend Beth added a new meaning to this: JOY. 

Letter :: God has given me love letters from Him – just a reminder to just listen for it. 

Pearl :: Alyse gave us pearls on our HQ. She has written a beautiful story of how a pearl starts out as a grain of sand and it is formed by the waves crashing over it over and over … and how sometimes we have to go through hard times in our life to be formed into a “pearl” – the woman that God created us to be. 

Lightbulb :: It says “The Lord is my Light” on it. It represents my Radiance trip I went on. To radiate His light everywhere I go. 

Wedding Ring :: to always pray for Ryan and our marriage. 

Best Friend :: it is half of a broken heart, a best friend charm and Alyse has the other half of it. We are HQ bf’s and hold each other accountable. I have a diamond crystal also on it that is her birthstone and she has mine on hers. 

Prayer Box :: a cool little prayer box that Laurie bought me. I can put little prayers inside. 

Sword :: to always fight to keep my freedom in all areas of my life.

Bridge :: also from prophecies I have gotten from 2 different people, 2 different years. That God sees me as a bridge, a connector of people to God. 

Moses Basket :: this represents the baby that was saved at a Planned Parenthood a few years ago. 

Snowflake :: Salina bought me this one. He washed us white as snow. No stains and no stones. 

Mirror :: Laurie bought me this one. It represents for me not to be consumed with my outside but more on my inside. 

Fire :: In the Old Testament, if you wanted to talk to God, you would go to the tabernacle and there were a series of steps you had to do before you could even go into His presence. In the tabernacle there was always a fire burning for the sacrifices made and the fire had to always be tended to, never go out.  And if the fire DID ever go out, that is when they knew they needed to take the tabernacle (it was move-able) to another town and set up where God wanted them. So this fire represents to me to always stay in His presence, tend to the fire, never let it go out in me. 

Crystal Heart :: always keep a pure heart. 

Raccoon :: do not wear a mask. Just be me.  

Bird on mailbox :: God hears our prayers. I will blog a story about this soon! 

God is speaking to you all the time … Just open your eyes and see! Is there any nature or a material thing that God uses as a sign to you for something? If you’ve never thought about it before, ask God to start speaking to you in that way – and even buy yourself a charm bracelet! Journal what you see and hear and then come tell us! 

 “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20 

Written by Amy Ford

Good Stuff in the Hard Stuff

I will never forget that day my life changed forever.

It was May 3rd, 2010. I was a senior in high school and was just a few weeks away from turning 18. I had prom, graduation, and my birthday to look forward to all in the same month … but little did I know my whole world was about to change.

My stomach dropped as I had the realization I was a few days late.

One day after school I went to Tom Thumb and got a pregnancy test … stole it actually. I didn’t have any money. I stuck it in my purse walked out and went home to take it. On the way to the bathroom I couldn’t stop telling myself there was no way I was pregnant, it just couldn’t happen.

I took the pregnancy test and closed my eyes.

When I opened them I had two pink stripes burning into my eyes. You have GOT to be kidding me. My emotions went numb. I felt like I should be crying or something, but I felt nothing. I was in complete shock. I had a baby growing inside of me and I couldn’t really see past my prom, graduation, and my birthday coming up much less 9 months down the road.

I had to tell Brad. Brad and I had been together for 2 1/2 years. He was 3 years older then me and a junior in college and although our relationship was rocky at times, he was my rock and my love. I pulled out my phone and texted him (he was working out so I knew he wouldn’t answer). I just took a pregnancy test and it came back positive The response was not a good one. It was one word and it wasn’t a good one. I called my best friend Krista. I needed someone to tell me everything was going to be ok.  She did exactly that for me but she also encouraged me to be brave and tell my parents.

It was an even more complicated situation because I had hid my relationship with Brad from my dad for 2 years. My dad never approved because of me and Brad’s age difference. My dad had an abusive history so I knew the reaction was not going to be good.

Every thought went through my head about what I could do to get out of this situation I found myself in. Brad just wasn’t wanting a baby. He was still finishing college and had just turned 21. He was partying a lot and this just wasn’t in the plans. He decided to call a few abortion clinics to see if we could get an abortion. Because I was 17 and not 18 yet, I couldn’t get one without a parent’s consent.

We were stuck.

I was extremely close with my mom. She was my best friend. I knew I could be brave enough to tell her and she wouldn’t freak out that bad. The next day, I texted my mom when I got to school and told her that I was late on my period. She texted back and said that it was okay she had been late too and she was sure I would start soon. I told her that I had never missed a period before though and I was nervous, she then sent me the worst text I would’ve ever expected to get from her. For your sake, you better hope you’re not pregnant. My mouth dropped. What was I going to do? How could I tell her now?

My mom was struggling with alcoholism at the time so I knew if she had a few drinks in her, she would be easier to talk to. That night, I took a deep breath and just blurted it out, “Mom, I still haven’t started and I’m getting really scared.” She reassured me again, “You are okay. I have $11 in my wallet. Go get a pregnancy test.” I got in the car and went up to Tom Thumb again and this time I actually bought one. I went straight for the bathroom and my mom followed me in. I took the pregnancy test already knowing what the result would be. My mom immediately took it from me, she stared at it and I was just waiting for her to yell at me. But she just looked at me with teary eyes and said, “Well, you’re pregnant baby cakes.” I will never forget those words.

Finally all of the emotion that I had been holding in ever since I found out, just came rushing out and I couldn’t stop crying. We hugged each other for a long time, and she told me whatever decision I made she would support me no matter what.

My best friend Krista called later that night and she convinced me to keep my baby.

That ended up being the best conversation I could’ve had with someone. I called Brad immediately after and told him I had decided to keep the baby. He was still not happy at all. My heart broke with his reaction. He said something that one day he would regret, “Look, I love you, but I DONT love what’s inside of you.”

I told him that he didn’t have to be apart of our life if he didn’t want to. I wouldn’t make him pay child support, he would never have to see me or the baby ever. All these tough words were flying out of my mouth but deep down my heart was broken. He snapped back and said, ” I WILL be a part of my child’s life.” My heart was still broken because I knew he wasn’t happy at all.

I went over to my mom and whispered in her ear that I was going to keep the baby, as my dad was on the phone across the table from her and I didn’t want him to hear. She said, “Okay but we have to tell your dad.” I said, “Okay but just not tonight.” I went inside and lay on my bed. I was realizing that I was actually feeling HAPPY. Yeah, I never planned for this to happen but once I had made the decision to carry this baby inside of me and be his or her mommy, I actually felt feelings of love and excitement!

I decided to go back outside to hang out with my mom and dad. I sit down and my mom immediately says, ” I told your dad.” I said, ” WHAT??” I immediately start to cry and looked into my dad’s eyes. He was hurt. He wasn’t saying a word. I finally broke the silence, “I’m sorry dad.” He yelled at me, “You lied to me!” and then slammed the door in my face.  He was beyond livid … and I was beyond scared.

After he finally calmed down, he said, “Whatever decision you and Brad make, he would support us but we needed to think about it because it was a life changing decision.”  … But I had already made my decision and I wasn’t going to change my mind.

We then told Brad’s parents and they took it a lot better. I could tell his mom was nervous and scared but she kept reassuring us that we would make it and be ok.

I was living with my parents and Brad had an apartment in Denton (he went to UNT) and his lease was about to be up. My parents decided that Brad could move in with us. My brother’s old room would be the baby’s room. I was so excited.

During the course of the pregnancy, our hearts started changing for the better. We knew we had to grow up fast. Brad started becoming more excited about being a dad and supporting me more. I started going to Embrace Grace and started to work on my relationship with God. I loved being surrounded by the girls that were all going through the same thing as me. The group was so amazing and I felt so lucky to be apart of it.

One night during class, was a night I’ll never forget because of what I learned.  Salina was talking and it was something along the lines of, “Your future spouse should be a Christian as well, so you enter the covenant of marriage as God first and in unity together.” I knew what she said made sense, but Brad was not a Christian. I’d talk about it with Brad from time to time, but I never forced it on him. I just thought that if it was going to happen, it would. Amy suggested I just bring him to church with me on a Sunday and see what happens. It seemed like a good idea but I just kept thinking that Brad would never go for it. I never brought it up even though I was worried about my future of being a Christian family. I loved Brad so much, I just prayed that it would happen.

Before I knew it, it was January 5th and I was on the way to the hospital to meet my beautiful baby girl. Everyone was so excited. I couldn’t wait to hold her! 10 hours went by and they wheeled me back for my c-section. Blakelee Nicole Davidson was born at 6:55 pm weighing 8lbs 10 1/2 oz.  My life was forever changed. So many precious memories of that moment but shortly after, bittersweet reality confronted me right there in the hospital room.

After everyone went home that night it was just me, Brad, and Blakelee. I was so excited to start this new life with my baby and my boyfriend. My dad started calling around 8 and the conversation was off and on until 1 am. He was drunk and NOT happy. He was upset that I had contacted my Grammie through facebook that I was not allowed to talk to due to some family drama. I had reached out to her when I found out I was pregnant because I had not spoken to her in years and wanted to tell her the news. He had gone home and gotten on my Facebook and saw the messages I had been sending to her.

I was confused, and upset. Why was he doing this to me the night I gave birth? I told him not to come to the hospital the next day. Everyone came to visit and I put on my happy face but inside I was hurting that I couldn’t enjoy this moment with my dad. Before we left the hospital, we got a call from my mom saying we should probably go stay with Brad’s parents for a little while because my dad was so furious with me. I didn’t understand why? He told my mom that Brad and I weren’t allowed back under his roof and that I was just an 18 year old girl who wore out her welcome. I was devastated. I was crying so hard I was breaking out into a sweat and could barely hold my baby girl. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was so emotionally drained. That was the last day I saw my dad for a long time.

My dad finally let us come back home to stay at the house but he was still so angry, he went to stay with his father. It was so hard. On one hand, I was so in love with my beautiful baby but on the other, I didn’t have my family fully to enjoy her with. I struggled with depression and confusion. It was a hard time.

Brad and I grew closer than ever and a few days before Valentine’s Day, he proposed to me. Things were starting to look up. He was my constant and my rock. I loved him so much and I had always loved him. He was there for me through this emotional time. I couldn’t imagine my life without him.

One night, Brad and I were sitting outside talking and enjoying each other’s company. Blakelee was asleep and we were just relaxing and loving the fresh air. In the middle of the conversation, he stopped and said out of nowhere, “Is it weird that I want to go to church?” I was blown away. I needed this and for him to want it completely on his own was amazing. I needed God so much in my life but I also felt like I needed Brad too – so to be able to do this together was a dream come true.

We went that Sunday and Brad fell in love with Pastor Robert at Gateway. His life changed forever that day as he gave his life to Jesus and accepted Him as his Lord and Savior.  Our whole lives changed. Even since then, we have had our ups and downs. With my brother leaving to go into the marines, and having to take my mom to rehab, and still not speaking to my father, life was hard and slowly stopped going to church again. I was struggling with depression and taking it out on people I cared about. But through it all, I knew God loved me and that He would take care of us and our family. I had hope for our future.

This year has had a lot of ups. Blakelee just turned 1! Brad and I got married on March 18th. We have our own home. I saw my dad on my birthday this year after 18 months of not speaking. We can never get back the time we lost but we have started over and fresh. My mom has been sober for almost a year. Brad and I have started going back to church. Everything is finally coming together for us. And the best news of all is that I found out on Fathers Day last month that we are expecting our 2nd child that will arrive in February!

God has great ways of working in your life if you will just let Him. My world was crumbling at my feet, but he picked up all the pieces and is making me a beautiful life. And for that I am forever grateful. He’s really starting to work through me, and it’s amazing. I can see with everything I have been through that I am a better person because of it. I had 2 choices, I could let my past form me into a person with grudges and “baggage” or I could learn from it and help other people in similar situations.

Oh and remember the part about Brad’s reaction about not loving what was inside of me? Well, he quickly realized how completely false that statement was. I have never seen a sweeter daddy/daughter relationship. Blakelee has Brad wrapped around her little finger. The first thing he does when he comes home is run and scoop her up and give her tons of kisses on her squishy cheeks. He is such a good dad. He is even hoping our new baby is a little girl because he wants one just like her. 

Sometimes in the hard stuff, there is good stuff too. You just gotta open your eyes to it. Without the hard stuff, I wouldn’t be me. Without the hard stuff, I wouldn’t have so much. Without the hard stuff, my life wouldn’t be so easy.

My hope in Jesus is bigger than any circumstances.

Written by Brooke Davidson, 20 years old.  

 

 

Winner of Dream Big Challenge!

A few weeks ago I challenged our readers to a Dream Big Challenge!  I received awesome submissions it was hard to choose. Nothing gets me more excited than women dreaming big and actually taking the steps to achieve it.

I’m SO excited to announce that my sweet friend Olivia Boyd is the winner!!

Olivia was in Embrace Grace a few semesters ago and I instantly fell in love with her. She is a little shy but when she speaks, everyone listens. Her heart is SO sweet and she LOVES life to the fullest. She has a giggle that is contagious, the cutest freckles ever, a sparkle in her eyes and I love the way she takes every day moments and make lasting memories with her gift. Olivia is a photographer and owns Olivia Brooke Photography and her dream is to be able to do this full time so she can have a flexible schedule. She wants to be able to spend as much time as she can with Layla while being able to do what she loves – shoot!

“The reason why I love photography so much is to show people how extraordinary they are and how beautiful God made them … especially when they can’t see it themselves. God gave me this cool talent to see the world like no one else sees it. I want to show the world and people how I see them and how God sees them!” – Olivia 

After the Dream Big Challenge was posted, Olivia went into action:

1. became an official business owner of Olivia Brooke Photography by getting her business license.

2. bought an ad in our church business directory. It was expensive for her but she just went for it. (We go to a giant church so this will be very helpful!)

3. made her pricing guide, business plan, contract, terms of agreement, and signed up to get her tax ID number. 

She’s legit!!

“I mean basically I’ve loved photography for as long as I can remember. It started out without a camera though. I just saw things different from other people. Now I’ve learned how to show people what I see, which is really fun for me. I honestly love going into a shoot and hearing girls or parents worried the images will be terrible because they think they aren’t beautiful or have hyper kids, but after they see the images they’re like, ‘what that’s me?’ or you’ve captured my child’s personality so well. That’s so rewarding to me. Showing someone how gorgeous they are and giving them that boost of confidence would be worth taking pictures for free. I just love it. At first I thought God had given me a useless talent ministry wise, but after I got pregnant and joined Embrace Grace, He opened me up to a whole new world. He showed me how I could bless these girls and people simply by doing something I love.” – Olivia

I am SO proud of her. She isn’t just thinking, “maybe someday I will …” or “after this or that happens, then I will be able to pursue my dream.” She is a young single mom and she isn’t letting anything stop her from dreaming BIG and making it happen.

I have used her several times and have been blown away every time by how unique and special each photo was. She has a gift and she knows how to use it. Check out her website for rates and contact info!

“I mean that’s me. The quiet girl with big dreams and eyes open taking in the world in a whole new light.” – Olivia