New Life

This is the first time I’ve sat down and decided to actually write out my story. I’m not sure if I’m excited or nervous. If anyone knows me even a little bit then they know I’m a very quiet, private person. My story, to me, is hard to tell. It’s a story of love, hurt, loss, life and much more. I guess I’ll just dive into it then.

Let’s start with my background. I was born and raised in West Virginia. For those of you who think West Virginia is a part of Virginia, well, I’m here to tell you you’re mistaken. West Virginia is it’s only little, beautiful state. I never noticed just how beautiful it is until I moved away. My favorite time is fall, especially in West Virginia. I love the surrounding mountains and forests. The changing leaves make you feel like you’re in a fairytale of sorts. But anyway… I was raised by my mom and dad. They were literally the best parents that anyone could ask for. They raised me in church, were in encouraging, were loving, and provided the world for my sister and I. That hasn’t changed to this day.

I went to Christian school my whole schooling career. Basically my life was centered on Jesus and church. Of course, I had my moments when church got old or I had better things to do than pray and read my Bible. I was never a “bad kid” though. It seemed that everyone thought of me as the normal but good girl. I had one serious boyfriend in high school; mind you we dated all of high school. I was positive I’d marry the boy but time went on, he went to college, and I got bored. That was the end of that.

Half way through my senior year I met a boy on my co-ed spring soccer team. I saw him and immediately thought he was cute. That meant it was time to figure out more about him. I slowly began asking friends questions and eventually talking to him on facebook. Despite being warned by friends and even strangers that he was the “player” type I still moved forward with the relationship. Through the season we grew closer to one another. By the time it was summer we were officially dating.  I thought he was absolutely the coolest, sweetest boy on the planet; my mom had other thoughts. You know moms with their sixth sense; somehow she knew something was off. I, of course, didn’t listen to a word she said.

If you feel awkward about the word sex now would be the time to stop reading. Ok so I would say three months after I started dating the boy things started to get serious. I was with him any second I could be. I even snuck around to see him when my parents said no. I can’t remember how it started but the topic of sex came up. It was the whole have you ever thing. Of course, my answer was a no and he said no too… which I came to find out was a lie. After talking and talking one night we just had sex. After that it was kind of like well I’ve already done it so it really doesn’t matter if I keep doing it now. It’s a dangerous thought process but it was mine.

At the end of the summer I moved to Dallas, TX to go to school. We continued to talk and have a long distance relationship on and off. He came and visited a few times. I kept all of this from my parents. During all of this I went to church and started becoming close to family friends that were worship leaders there.

In April of 2011 my boyfriend moved to Texas to live with me. I loved it! I was living with my boyfriend having the time of my life… oh let’s remember I didn’t tell my parents any of this. After a few weeks I started struggling with the whole situation: lying to my parents, living with my boyfriend, having sex. I was fighting myself and God. I refused to give in. I finally had him with me and I wasn’t going to give that up. One day my best friend texts me and asked me to meet him for breakfast so we could talk. On the way to meet him I said to myself, “Ok if this is about my boyfriend living with me then I’m telling my parents and fixing all of this.” Sure enough he confronted me about how things were and told me the best move was to fess up to the whole thing. That was really hard. I knew what was ahead of me. I’m so thankful for my best friend especially in that moment. I can’t imagine where I’d be had he not listened to God and been a true friend and helped me realize what I needed to do.

I had class that whole day and work until midnight. In between classes I called my mom and told her my boyfriend was living with me. We talked, she asked questions, and I cried and cried. I felt so relieved but so guilty at the same time because I didn’t tell my boyfriend I was telling my parents. I don’t know if that was the right way to do it but that’s how it went. I went on with my day. I called my parents and they answered with, “We’re here. We’re going to get this all worked out.” I met them after work before going home. We talked and tried to figure out the best way to handle things.

Once my boyfriend found out they were there things got ugly. My parents were furious with him. My parents expected me to break up with him. I talked to my boyfriend and lied to him. He asked how they found out and I said I didn’t know. That made everything ten times worse. I just cared for him so much I couldn’t bare to hurt him. I had already disappointed so many people I just couldn’t handle disappointing him too.

Over the next couple days the truth came out. Those were the hardest two days of my life. It was so emotional and I was so hurt. I still loved him but he hated me for what I did. I kept reminding myself I was doing the right thing. He then left and moved back to West Virginia. I can’t even explain how hard things were after that.

I still loved him. I cared for him so much. We had shared so much. After being back in West Virginia for maybe a month he started talking to another girl. It crushed me.  I didn’t understand how he could just be over everything and not care about me at all when he had just been living with me. We still talked some and I tried so hard to get him back while keeping him at a distance. I was connected to him. He wasn’t really interested. He found his new toy and was happy with that… and a few others.

Let me add that through this whole time my parents were incredible, as was my worship leader friends.  They were so supportive and encouraging. My parents visited multiple times. My dad even came to take me on a date. If I needed them, they were there. I don’t know how I would’ve made it without them. It was a really dark time for me. I contemplated suicide or running away so no one could find me. I’m thankful God put such incredible people in my life to stop me from that even though they didn’t know what they were keeping me from.

Even though I knew it made things worse I kept talking to my now ex boyfriend. His parents hated me and he still didn’t care about me. It always confused me how I was the only one at fault in the situation but that’s how it was to them.  I hurt their son and he could do no wrong.

After a while I notice I missed my period. I really thought nothing of it until one night I started feeling terribly sick. That was the night before my best friend, Erin, was coming to visit. I picked her up from the airport and that day I told her I thought I may be pregnant. We just enjoyed our time together and didn’t focus too much on the thought. When we got to my apartment we bought a pregnancy test and I had no doubt it was going to be positive. I wasn’t shocked when it was. I came out of the bathroom and told her the news. She hugged me and we cried for a while.  I know God orchestrated the timing of her visit because had she not been there I would have fallen apart. I called my ex boyfriend and told him the news. He wasn’t shocked or mad or anything really. He hardly showed any emotion. He said are you sure and ok… that’s about it.

The next day, with Erin holding me hand, I called my mom to tell her the news. I cried as soon as she answered the phone. I finally choked out the words “I’m pregnant.” I could tell she wanted to cry but she stayed strong for me. She reassured me that everything was going to be ok. The hardest part of that conversation was being a disappointment to my mom.

I stayed sick the majority of my pregnancy. I visited West Virginia on my breaks from school and kept in some contact with my ex boyfriend. My mom was sure to keep them in the loop though. My mom sent texts to my ex’s mom after every appointment and I sent pictures of my growing belly. After a while I got back together with my ex. The relationship was strained though. I was still in Texas trying to finish school and he wouldn’t move again. At times I felt really alone. My parents were great and my church friends practically adopted me as their own. Still the one person I needed for support wasn’t there. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t move to be with me now that I was pregnant with his baby. I’m not sure I’ll ever understand that.

My little girl was due in January so I took the winter semester of school off. I finished almost all of school so I only had one more quarter to go after I had my daughter. My parents sold their house in West Virginia and moved to Texas in December of 2011. I will never be able to thank them enough for that huge sacrifice. I moved in with them and then it was a waiting game. Things got worse with my boyfriend and I had no idea why he was so mean to me. I later found out he was cheating on me; should’ve seen that one coming.

During the latter part of my pregnancy I started becoming closer and closer to God. I went to Embrace Grace, a group for young single and pregnant moms, and started building relationships with other girls just like me. It was really a God thing.

I had a really difficult time with judgment. I tried to act like I didn’t mind what people thought of me but the looks and whispers I got on a daily basis cut me so deep. I felt so dirty and ashamed. I’m so thankful to say that church was the one place I could go and receive no judgment. Instead, strangers would touch my belly and ask what I was having. I was around the worship team a lot because of my friend’s and those people were the biggest blessing. They would tell me how beautiful I looked or ask me questions about the baby and how I was. To me that was crazy. I had obviously done some not good things and all they saw was me; not my sin but me. I wanted to be at church every minute because of the positive environment.

On January 17th, 2012 I woke up feeling rather odd. Through the day that odd feeling turned to uncomfortable to I can’t breathe. I didn’t want to go to the hospital because I didn’t want to be the girl that went and wasn’t really in labor and after all I still had two weeks until my due date. After nagging and nagging, I finally listened to my mom and me, my mom, and my dad drove to the hospital. Once I got there and got checked they said I was in labor. Strangely, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was ready to go and ready to meet my daughter. That was at about seven in the evening. My mom called my boyfriend and told him what was going on. He booked the earliest flight out the next day. I relaxed, and slept some while I waited for my nugget to arrive. (Oh also I had drugs so I was totally fine… I’m not superwoman.) Around 3:30am the nurse came in a checked me and said well you’re having this baby now.

In the room were my mom, my doctor, and my nurse. It was such a non stressful environment. On January 18th, 2012 at 3:42 am I was holding my beautiful Layla. It was such a weird feeling. I was holding my daughter, my human. She was literally mine. If you don’t have kids you won’t understand this but the amount of love I felt in that moment surpasses any emotion I’ve ever felt. She was perfect.

I laid in my recovery room with my baby on my chest for hours. A few visitors came in and out to see her. My boyfriend finally got there and saw Layla. I was so happy. I was exhausted but just didn’t want to sleep. All I wanted to do was stare at her and lay with her so that’s what I did. My boyfriend was there for three weeks after she was born. We mended our relationship and things seemed to be perfect.

For the next couple months I got to stay home and be with my daughter all of the time. It was fantastic. I went back to school in April and graduated in June with my degree in photography. My boyfriend and I were having problems. Really we only dated on and off. It came down to the fact that he wouldn’t move to be with his daughter.  It was hard enough that I wasn’t enough but even worse that my daughter wasn’t either. I pray she never feels that way.

Daily I have to give my worries over to God. Will she grow up with a dad? Will her biological dad hurt her? Will he be in and out of her life? Will he ever man up? I can’t lie and say it’s easy. If you’re a parent you understand how much you want to protect your children. I’ve learned to give it to God, but yes I still struggle.

Through this whole experience I’ve grown so much in the Lord. I’ve learned to let him be my husband and take care of me and my daughter. I’ve learned to give every burden from finances to sickness over to him. I’ve never been more happy than I am now. Of course, I still have rough days or angry emotions towards my ex and his family but overall God is my provider and protector. He loves his princess and her princess. I’m in a place I never even knew existed.

It’s hard being a single mom. I want nothing but to be with Layla all day instead of at work but I’ve been blessed with a job so I can provide for myself and my daughter. I get tired and frustrated but I love my life. I have an incredible support system of my family and close friends. I never imagined I would be a mom so soon but I absolutely love it. It is the coolest thing. I’m so thankful God trusted me with one of his children. I know there will be easy and tough times ahead but I know that no matter what I’ll always have a God who loves me and a daughter that I adore.

Trials don’t kill you. How you handle them is what makes or breaks you. I ran to God and he restored my life and my heart. I’m not the stereotypical young, single mom that you hear about or watch on TV. I’m the young, single mom that strives after Jesus and is determined to share her story with others. I pray God uses my story to affect others and I have no doubt that he will.

Don’t give up. He loves you. This isn’t the end; it’s just the beginning of what God has in store for you.

 

Written by Olivia Boyd

A Time for Everything

I have been reflecting a lot this week on what my life was like last year. I started thinking about it after I went to a Habitation service last Sunday night at my church. Habitation is a once a month church service that has extended worship time and  deeper teaching.  I try to not ever miss it. So on this particular one, they announced that they were “throwing a party” and the body (the church) was going to meet the needs of one another. They asked everyone to pray and then stand if you had a need that needed to be met, OR if you wanted to give to someone else that had a need.

I prayed and felt like God said I was going to give.

I sat there and watched people stand around the auditorium.  Some people stood immediately and just started sobbing, others waited a few minutes and hesitantly stood.  I sat in my chair and cried watching them because last year I was that person that would have stood.   I remember many times that I walked into Habitation with some major needs and feelings of hopelessness and exhaustion.  Our family had a rough year and went through some difficult times financially.  I could go on and on about all the things that happened to us last year but I will spare you the details.  I will say this much, if you know me personally you probably saw me climbing out of the back of my old minivan at some point last year due to the drivers door being completely smashed in with a shower curtain taped over the window. Yeah, it was one of those kinds of years.

So as I sat at habitation, I was just overwhelmed as I thought about the changes in our lives since then.  We have had some major breakthrough’s this year!  I am not driving that minivan anymore, we got to relocate to Keller which is where my husband and I both grew up and is where we have always wanted raise our family, and God has provided me with more work than I could have ever imagined! Also, my  husband switched locations in his job and God has increased and given him more favor in his work as well. Things are SO much better than they were…

I  sat in church and thought about all of this and prayed for breakthrough in each and every situation in the room and thanked God for his faithfulness in my life and also thanked Him in advance for what He was going to do in all of their lives as well.

So fast forward to this morning, I was out running on the Bear Creek Trails.  I started at a spot I don’t normally start at but wanted to try a new way.  As I was running, God spoke something to me that goes along with the reflecting I have been doing this week. (I told ya’ll God speaks loudly to me when I run.) So I start my run and I am thinking in my head, (I give myself pep talks when I run) You got thisYou’re doing great. This is easy, you have a good pace, etc…. 

I get about a mile into my run and I see that this one part of the trail that has been under construction forever, is now open and connects you to the rest of the trails so you can run further. I went on many runs on this trail last fall/winter and it had been closed. I was so excited to see that it was open and all of the sudden there are like 5 walkers in front of me taking up the entire trail, and seem to be going so SLOW! So I get a little annoyed, and in my head, I am saying, Come on, move it people, I am running, I have a good pace going here, your messing me up. I get around them and I hear this whisper in my spirit, “You might be running now, but you were a walker last year.”  I start thinking about all the running I did last year, and I remembered for some reason, it was SO much harder last year for me to physically finish a run.  I walked A LOT. All of the sudden, I started crying right there on the trail as I was running.

I realized that the things I went through last year even affected my running, I was just so discouraged and it was too hard to give myself pep talks and run. I would try to run but always just give up and walk the trails. Looking back now,I am proud of myself for getting out there and at least walking. It’s a good thing I kept walking because that built a great foundation for me to start running this year. I needed to walk for awhile and build up endurance for this season where I am running. God just started dowloading all this to me on my run, he reminded me that not only was I a walker, there were times I felt like someone blindfolded me and I had no idea where to put my foot down for the next step.  Have you ever been in that season? Maybe you are now. Maybe you are going through something really hard financially, or physically, or emotionally.  Maybe you lost a job, or are going through a divorce, or a custody battle, or having marriage problems. Or maybe you don’t even know why you feel like you are in a season where you are dragging your feet, on this course where you are walking so slow and you don’t even know where you are headed. You can’t see the finish line at all, you are blindfolded with no idea what’s going to happen next. You hate the scenery, you are walking alone, and you are hopeless.

God reminded me today that it’s ok to be a “walker” for a season. 

The things I learned in that season last year, that were so rough and hard, I couldn’t have learned any other way.  What if I needed to walk a bit, to grow and gather wisdom and revelation from God so that in my next season I could RUN.  You don’t run before you walk. Can you imagine a baby learning to run before they walk?  It’s just not the order we learn.  If you are a “walker” in life right now, or you’re in a season where you have had to slow down, don’t be discouraged.

This season is crucial, embrace it.

While your slowly walking this path, I want to encourage you to quit dragging your feet or holding your head down, and start embracing life right where you are at. God wants to teach you things, and show you things in THIS season that you won’t learn in another one.  Look around you, enjoy the scenery and ask God what you can learn in this season.  Know that you will run before long, but you need to enjoy the walk before you start running.  Find the good in these moment’s you feel blindfolded and let God direct your steps and lead the way. He will guide you IF you let Him.  If you feel discouraged, tell Him and let Him encourage you.   If you feel hopeless and weak, just keep going. Do not stop. Do not sit down. Do not QUIT. Ever.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. {Galatians 6:9}

If you are like me, and you are running easier now than you have in the past, don’t ever forget those long hard walks you took.  Don’t ever forget who get’s all the glory in your season of running.  Pray for those “walkers” around you. Encourage them, give to them, love them.  I am in a season where I am “running” but I am also training right now as well. Training is hard, and it requires a lot of discipline. God has been speaking to me a lot lately about priorities and reminded me that yes, he blessed me with all this work but I have to be a good steward of it and make sure that I keep him first and don’t get too busy in the blessing to stop and spend time with him.  I have to train myself to make time for Him, if I don’t, I may have to slow down and do a little walking again and retake some tests, so to speak.  No matter where you are at today, in your walk or run, embrace it, be thankful for it, even if you think it’s horrible and you don’t see an end in sight. I promise it’s just a season. God promises in his word that he has great plans for your life.  He won’t leave you here, I can testify to that.

A Time for Everything {Ecclesiastes 3}
3 For everything there is a SEASON,
  a time for every activity under heaven.
 A time to be born and a time to die.
 A time to plant and a time to harvest.
 A time to kill and a time to heal.
 A time to tear down and a time to build up.
 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
 A time to grieve and a time to dance.
 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
  A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
  A time to search and a time to quit searching.
  A time to keep and a time to throw away.
 A time to tear and a time to mend.
  A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
  A time to love and a time to hate.
  A time for war and a time for peace.

Written by Jennifer Bellamy

Rebel with a Cause

I’m not ever shy when I talk about how much I love Embrace Grace girls. If I’m ever describing an EG girl to someone else, it pretty much always sounds like this: “She’s really cute and has a sweet little belly and she is SO sweet and such a great personality, etc etc etc” This is really what I see when I talk to EG girls.

I feel like each of them is like a treasure box and the more I talk to them, a little more unique qualities start showing up a little more and more. I just want to hug all of them and tell them how proud I am of them and how much I pray for them and love them so much!

I know sometimes when I tell people this, they look at me funny. I can’t help it though. God planted this love in me in April of 2008. I’m not sure that I had this passion all my life though.

I prayed and asked God to show me where He wanted to use me. I asked Him to break my heart for what breaks His. He gave me a vision and dropped this love in my heart that makes all of this EG stuff not a chore or burden, but SO fun for me! I love it so much!

I watched a movie not too long ago called Father of Lights (which was SO good). It had this couple that God had put a special love in their hearts for orphans in China. They built this orphanage for special needs kids and they LOVED it so much and you could just see the love on this couple’s face as they interacted with these kids.

It’s so cool to see the different ways that God uses us to be His hands and feet. There are a lot of different people to love and when you line up your will with His, your life will never be the same. 

Has God placed a special love in your heart for a certain mission or cause? Share with us! Or if not, ask Him to show you – He will. He is waiting for you to ask. We want to hear your stories!

Written by Amy Ford

The Gift of Life

I never thought it would happen to me.  I had a amazing boyfriend who I thought hung the moon. I was a junior in high school — a girl from a small town in Georgia. Everything was perfect, until my whole world came crashing down.

I got really sick one night and told my younger sister I thought I might be pregnant. A few days later, July 4, 2010, I told my aunt. She said to stay calm; it was all going to be okay. She suggested I tell my dad’s girlfriend, so that night I did. She bought me a home pregnancy test and it came up positive.
I have never wanted anything more than to be a mother. I knew I was great with kids, and while I knew I wasn’t ready, I was willing to give up everything for my child. That night, I told my boyfriend I was pregnant and he was not happy at all. He cussed me up and down and repeatedly said I should have an abortion. I had just turned 17 and really didn’t know much about abortions, just what it meant would happen to the baby. I told him I wouldn’t have one, that he could leave me, but I was having the baby with or without him.
I didn’t grow up in a tight-knit household. My dad raised my sister and me, so as a man, he really had no clue how to talk to girls. When I told him, he didn’t say much. He just shook his head and told me to call my Nana (his mom, who played the roll of my mother my whole life). She wasn’t mad, just disappointed in me, and that hurt worse than everything else. The woman who meant the most to me was disappointed in me. But I went to bed thinking everything would be fine.
The next morning my dad still didn’t say much to me, but I just thought he was in shock. My boyfriend continued telling me he didn’t want me to ruin his life and I needed to abort the baby. I still told him no over and over again. That afternoon my dad called me into the living room and I had no idea what I was in store for. He sat me down and told me I needed to have an abortion. My whole world came crashing down again. I have never cried so hard. I was lost and the only man I knew truly loved me was telling me to do the same thing the boy I thought loved me said to do. I stood toe to toe with my father and told him no. I had more respect than that for myself and God.
When my dad kicked me out I had no idea where to go, so I called one of my aunts I looked up to. Aunt Angel and I had a close relationship, but she lived in Texas. Within that phone call, she said I could live with her and I booked a flight to Texas that night. It all happened so fast and the plane ride to Texas was difficult. When I got to there, Angel let me call my dad and tell him I had arrived. That was the last time I spoke to my father for months.
Angel had some friends that she had gone to church with for a quite a while. This couple had been trying to have a baby for a long time. She asked me if I had ever thought about adoption, but I had no clue what to think about that. She asked if I would meet them and just have dinner with them, so I did. They were the sweetest people in the world and I fell in love with them. The next day was a Sunday and while I have never been super close with God, I knew in a hard time like this he would take me under his wing. I prayed and prayed about what to do.
Do I keep this baby? Do I have an abortion? Or do I go through with adoption?
For some reason, I heard a voice in my head say, “Amber, this is not your baby. Your day will come, but this baby is Shari and Joey’s.” I cried and cried, but I knew what I had to do. God had spoken to me and I knew I had to obey. I asked my aunt if we could have them over to her house for dinner, but I hadn’t told anyone I was choosing adoption yet. We ate, it came time for dessert, and I knew I had to tell them what I’d chosen to do.
I looked at my aunt and uncle, then told Shari and Joey, “The Lord spoke to me and he told me this was a baby for you.” They lost it. Tears were everywhere. I was crying, because it felt so right and I had no regret. They left that night and I laid in my bed praying that God would hold my hand and guide me the whole way through the process. He spoke to me again. He told me how proud he was of me and how I would continue to be blessed.
The next week my aunt called my dad and told him what I had decided, but he still wasn’t happy, because it was not what he had wanted for me. I had been in Texas for about a month and hadn’t talked to my baby’s father, so I called him and told him what I had decided to do and he also fussed, but I did not care, because I knew God was on my side. That was the last time I spoke to the baby’s father.
A week later I started attending a group called Embrace Grace. The girls in the group looked so scared. They looked as if they had no idea what to do. I remembered when I was like that not so long before — lost and thinking I had no one. As we met every Monday we all started to become like sisters. We helped each other; we talked to each other; we were all there for each other. If it had not been for Embrace Grace I don’t think I could have made it through my pregnancy.
On October 23, 2010, I had a beautiful baby boy, 9 lbs. 4 oz, and 21 inches long. Shari and Joey were there for me the whole time. My aunt was there, as well as my nana, who came from Georgia. Shari and Joey named him Brett Miles Borden, and I have never seen two people so happy as when they saw him. I had just given away the greatest gift — Life.
As they were getting ready to take me to recovery, I asked Shari why she hadn’t been to see her son. She told me she didn’t want to leave her baby girl. She was torn between her son and who she now thought of as her daughter (me). I am thankful for them and the ladies in Embrace Grace. They are woman of God and I love each and every Embrace Grace leader and member.
Brett will be two years old next month, and to this day, I have never seen him in person. I don’t think I’m strong enough yet, but I know one day God will give me the strength to see him.
Written by Amber Hill

BucketFiller

Their buckets will brim with water, their seed will spread life everywhere. {Numbers 24:7 MSG]

My son Logan started kindergarten a few weeks ago.  He excitedly tells me all about his adventures and activities when we walk home together.  Some days he says “but Mom, school is just so long, it’s like a full day!  It just goes on and on!”  Oh to be 5 again!  One afternoon he brought home a picture of a bucket that he had colored that was titled “I AM A BUCKETFILLER”!  I asked him to tell me all about being a bucketfiller.

He says that his teacher showed them that we all have imaginary buckets.  Some may be really big, and some may be really small or some in between.  Whatever the size, you can help fill someone’s bucket daily by doing something kind. Something as simple as a hug or a smile can fill someone’s bucket.  If I obey my teacher and follow directions, then I am filling her bucket.  When I help to hold open a door, share my crayons, or invite a friend to play on the playground, that is helping to fill their buckets.

I asked him what fills his bucket, and he says candy! People being nice to me, my brother playing basketball, daddy taking me fishing, and mommy helping me with homefun.  These are easy ways to fill my bucket.

I thought it would be fun to bring lots of buckets to our Embrace Grace class this past Monday and have sticky notes for all the girls to give their ideas on how to fill other’s buckets. Here are some of their responses:

How can you fill other people’s buckets: give encouraging words, compliments, sweet words and love, cupcakes, kisses, clean their house, be courteous, offer help, make them smile, helping someone in need, inspiration, compassion, kindness, singing, showing respect, childcare

How can other people fill your bucket: friendship, say I am the best mommy, help so mommy can rest, babysit, give massage, tell me I am doing a good job as a mom.

How can you fill your baby’s bucket: love, nurture, diaper changes, sooth, rub his back, be rocked to sleep, more time with daddy, pamper, give her my undivided attention and love her forever, everything I never had, finishing my nursery.

How can God fill your bucket: give strength, peace, happiness, joy, love, rest, comfort, provide extra funds, calm fears, watch over me and my baby during delivery, keep my baby healthy, show me I’m not alone, watch over us, answer my prayers, relaxation, unconditional love, reassurance, confidence, faith, knowledge.

How can we as leaders of Embrace Grace fill your bucket: love, soft spoken words, be supportive, give advice, teach me lessons, wise words, write me an encouraging note, watch my babies, having a social “date”, listen, talk with me, offer hope, help with baby stuff, comfort, support, be a friend.

Joyfully you’ll pull up buckets of water from the wells of salvation. And as you do it you’ll say “Give thanks to God. Call out His name. Ask Him anything! Shout to the nations, tell them what He’s done, spread the news of His great reputation.  {Isaiah 12:3 MSG}

Let’s think of creative ways to be bucketfillers daily.  You never know who might cross your path that needed that sweet smile that you give, also by lending a helping hand, reaching out to those in need, praying with someone that needs to be uplifted, giving that encouraging word, lovingly taking care of your baby and so much more! You are filling their buckets! God will fill your bucket to overflowing.  The more that you pour out to others, the more He will pour back in to your bucket! Has your bucket been filled lately? How did that happen? Share with us!

Written by Salina Duffy

 

Rest & Replenish in Battle

Sorry it’s been a little quiet so far this week. Our family got hit with a nasty stomach virus. It started with Landry on Friday. The teacher called me and told me that Landry had vomited and she needed to be picked up. The rest of the day Friday it was non stop and then Saturday she just laid down all day doubled over because her stomach kept cramping.

Sunday Mackenzie was supposed to get up at 6 am for her first triathlon that she was SO excited for but woke up at 3 am puking. It basically was an avalanche effect after that. We all were affected except for baby Judah. He has such a great immune system.

Our little “bug” that we were attacked with, got me thinking about a few things. First of all, how everyone always says when we are sick to drink plenty of fluids and to rest. We don’t really have to do much at all. Our bodies are capable to fight off the uninvited trespassors while we are resting. The fluids that we drink keep our body hydrated and revitalizes our body with energy to keep fighting. We don’t feel it or know it but there are all kinds of battles going on just while we’re resting and in a few days, things usually get better.

If I had tried running around doing whatever I knew to fix what the symptoms were, I would be delaying the process of healing. If I thought working out would make it better, or maybe eating some kind of magic food or just anything other than resting, it would have been a waste of time. Yes, maybe I could have taken some medicine to relieve the symptoms but the culprit (ie the virus) wasn’t going anywhere until my body finished fighting it off.

So you know where I’m going with this right? 😉

So what if we applied these principals of rest and replenishment for the spiritual battle going on around us? There is always a battle going on in the spiritual. The scripture says that our enemy, satan, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour {1 Peter 5:8}. Satan is always whispering His lies, stirring up our past, or just plain drama, to try to get our focus off of God and what He has called us to.

God can fight our battles. I have been in situations where I got into a disagreement with someone and satan would start in on the lies. I would think stuff up that the other person was talking bad about me behind my back and I wasn’t there to defend myself. I would get myself so worked up about it and wonder if I should just go call everyone I know and tell my side of the story “just in case” the other person got to them first. You know how it goes, basically it all just consumes you.

I started taking another route the past few years and it works SO much better. Just rest and replenish. God is there to fight your battles.

REST: Don’t try to fight when God can do it for you.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” {Exodus 14:14} “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lordwill give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” {2 Chronicles 20:17}

REPLENISH: Spend time in the word and with God

“Like newborn babies, you crave pure spiritual milk that by it you may grow up in salvation” {1 Peter 2:2}  “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” {Psalm 119:105} 

I’m telling you this works! There are times when I let stuff eat me up, only to find out God was fighting for me the whole time. I spent all that wasted time worrying about something that I didn’t have to. He had my back. He was my Defender and Protector.

Just like when we are sick, our body does what it is supposed to do, fight our battles. The same is for God, He wants to fight our battles, we just have to rest and replenish, He will fight for you.

Have you ever just gave your worries and battles to God and let Him handle? 

Written by Amy Ford

 

 

Stepping Stones

Seventeen is a young age.  It’s a fun age. You get caught up with friends, lovers, and parties. Sometimes you drift away from family, friends, and even Jesus. Maybe sometimes you get closer to drugs, sex, and alcohol. You might see it as living young. You might see it as doing what a seventeen year old is “supposed” to do. You might see it as trying to fit in, be cool, get that boy that all the girls want. Senior year of high school is supposed to be the greatest year of your life. Although others may define “fun” different than I did at seventeen being a senior in high school.

My definition of fun was doing drugs, partying, hanging out, ignoring my family, not going to church, ditching class, and even sexual acts. Homecoming is a night all girls look forward to in high school. They get to be a princess for a night. They get to dress up, get their nails done, hair done, and of course have that perfect date. Of course I did all that, but I also wanted to find the perfect party to go to and the perfect boy for the night. I got what I wanted. EXACTLY what I wanted. He was mine for the night, not any of the other girls that wanted him… Just mine.

The fun continued after for about 3 more months … then my definition of fun completely changed.

I went to the doctor for birth control because my cycle was “acting funny.” My doctor walked in and said the words I never wanted to hear at seventeen. “You’re pregnant.” No. No. No! I wasn’t pregnant, I was having too much fun to be pregnant. This can’t be true. I mean, we only got together once…

She leaned me back to find a heartbeat, a heartbeat I was positive was not there. She heard it, I heard it, and my aunt heard it. Then the darkness took over. The weight of the world didn’t just fall down on my shoulders it got thrown at me and then felt like it shattered at my feet. Why would God do this to me? Why would God make me a mom? I felt like God was so stupid for doing this to me! What was he thinking? The walls came in around me. The feeling penetrated my stomach. I swallowed a lump in my throat and just kept asking God why over and over.

Nothing ever felt more real or more terrifying. My life was over in my eyes as I knew it. What I didn’t know is that it was a new beginning of something amazing …

A few months later I got invited to a group called Embrace Grace. I thought why would I want to go to a group of people who worship the ground the man I thought ruined my life? I, however, didn’t know that this group would also help change my life forever. I attended the class and met a woman named Amy, who is now someone I greatly look up to everyday of my life. I met many awesome women that were our leaders of the group.

I still wasn’t convinced of anything. It wasn’t fair most of them had great husbands to be with them and provide for them and their babies! What was God trying to show to me this time, except make me jealous? I didn’t have anyone to help take care of my baby!

As the weeks went on I heard their stories and I realized… They were no different than I was. They’ve all been through just as much as me. Actually, most of them even more than me. Through the hand and guidance of Christ they found their place in the world. God led them to happy places! He led them to believe that life can be great as long as you believe in Him and believe that He is FOR YOU and ME. I was finally convinced.

A few short weeks into class, I decided to ask God into my heart. I wanted to be a woman of God! I wanted to live my life for God. I realized God didn’t ruin my life … No one ruined my life. God planted a seed in my tummy and chose ME to be a mommy! He picked me out of all the girls in the whole world to be my daughter’s mommy. I didn’t need a daddy to raise my daughter, I just needed to put my trust in God and He would take care of me! He was our Father!

On June 23rd, 2011 I gave birth to God’s little miracle baby He gave to me. I never felt such love in my life. She wasn’t a mistake she was the best thing to  ever happen to me. She was mine! All mine! God gave her to me. He couldn’t have picked someone better to be Adisynn’s mother. As I wrapped my arms around my newborn daughter, God wrapped His arms around us both. He held on tight and told me she was mine. He let me know I would never have to worry and to continue believing in Him and giving Him my love and He will return take care of us. He wasn’t going to let me get into any fights with the devil that He wouldn’t help me get out of! I knew then, that I made the right choice. I asked God into my heart… I chose life for my princess, my miracle, my little dream come true.

God has walked me through so many journeys in the short year my daughter has been with me. I started school to make a better life for me and my daughter, which I am almost done with. God laid out stepping stones for me and led me to walk on and through each of them to get where I am today. Every stone had a challenge or accomplishment on it. Some of the challenges I didn’t think I would be able to win. Some challenges that almost felt like war to get out of. No matter what though He held my hand and helped me conquer every challenge until I get to walk on to the next stepping stone. The stones will never end. I will forever be on a path, fighting and BEATING satan along the way. God, however will always be right there to keep my on the right path. Leading me in His footsteps. Be a father to me and my child. He filled my life with so many blessings and I know He has more in store for me! He always will fulfill my life with wonderful things. I will forever stay true to my Jesus, my Savior.

I will forever thank Him for my daughter. I will forever thank Him that I chose LIFE. I hope she grows up in the footsteps of Jesus.

Seventeen is a fun age, a young age. Although, I thought my seventeen was over and ruined. Although, I thought God was a big bad man… I was wrong. He gave me a beginning. He gave me a reason to breathe and wake up in the morning. He gave me a reason to pray. He gave me a reason for my purpose here! He gave me a NEW definition of fun.

Written by Brittany Sloan