Purpose in Life

womanandsky

Have you ever wondered what your purpose is in life? What plans did God have for you, before you were even knit in your mother’s womb? Have you wondered if there was more to this life that you’re seeing right now?

One of my favorite parts about Embrace Grace is getting to see girls that have an unplanned pregnancy, get to this crossroad in their life. A lot of friends seem to vanish, unsure of whether to congratulate or to say they’re sorry, so they just step back into the background becoming less and less available for fear of confronting potential awkwardness in conversation. You start choosing carefully who you spend time with, usually the ones that stay by your side no matter what. Sometimes job situations need to change in order to accommodate a schedule of a new baby coming soon and you start thinking more long term, looking toward more of a career path for your future. Most of the time, you have a hard decision to make of either making something work with the baby daddy and hoping for the best, or letting go of a relationship that will never work and praying for God to bring you your future husband.

So many uncertainties lie in this short 9 months that usually demand tough decisions. Looking back on what you have been through to get you to this point, may not have been a pleasant experience. But God makes a promise that He will turn all the bad and ugly things in your life for good, for those that love Him. He can take your hurts and pains and use them to catapult you into the destiny He created for you. All you have to do is listen to His voice inside of you. He already has it mapped out for you. You may not see the final destination but He will lead you along the way.

I just finished reading an awesome book called Flight of the Earls by Michael Reynolds. It’sflightoftheearls2 a historical Christian fiction set in the 1840’s in Ireland. The lead character is faced with stepping outside of her comfort zone, a life that she has always known, to travel across the ocean to America in order to save her family’s failing potato farm. She was completely afraid of this new season in her life but she knew that it was where God was leading her. Outside of her comfort zone was a whole new world of freedom and adventure. It wasn’t always pretty, there were some hard stuff she had to go through to get to the good stuff. She discovers love, adventure, tragedy, and eventually finds God’s purpose for her life. God used everything that she had gone through to get her right where He wanted her – and where her ultimate happiness in her life was. All she had to do was to listen. This book is so good and a great way to start your new year – inspiring new ideas and hope for where God has you now and where He is leading you.

This year is coming to a close – I have a few questions for you. Are you in the same situation you were in a year ago? Are you in the same cycle of a stinky job? Are you in a relationship with a guy that treats you like poo that you are major just settling for fear of being alone? Are you hanging on to past wounds and hurts from guys or family members that is eating you up inside because you won’t let it go and move on? Are you putting up with verbal abuse from people in your life that you keep swearing you will be moving on from but you can’t seem to do it?

THE TIME IS NOW! DON’T WASTE ANOTHER YEAR OF GOING THROUGH THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER! Take a chance! Make a choice! A WHOLE NEW WORLD is just on the other side of these choices – it just starts with you. It just starts with one step and don’t look back. Don’t ever doubt in the dark what God told you in the light. Let’s make 2013 EPIC – TOGETHER!!! 

Written by Amy Ford

Merry Christmas!

christmaskissWe just want to take a moment to let you all know how thankful we are for each one of you! It has been a fun year meeting new brave and courageous girls that chose life and getting to cheer on the alumni that are young moms or birth moms. As leaders, we are so inspired and forever changed by getting to watch the miracles that take place – God always provides and blesses his girls!

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is how people are a little more in the giving mood. People stop to realize how blessed they are and want to reach out and help someone else that might be in need. A few Embrace Grace blessing stories we’ve been excited about this past week that were posted on facebook:

The most amazing thing just happened at Target! Joe and I were buying Kenzly stocking stuffers and we were using the last of the money we had.  While we were waiting in line, the sweetest lady in front of us whispered something in the clerks ear. All of a sudden she starts scanning our stuff! We look at the clerk with confusion and the lady looks back at us and smiles and says Merry Christmas! She bought all of ours toys for us! It brought tears to my eyes.. People are so amazing and God is great! God bless everyone and have a merry Christmas! — Kyndall (18 year old mom of 5 month old baby girl)
An Embrace Grace girl (19 years old single mom) has been praying for a Christmas Miracle – she has a 4 week old and when her baby was just 1 week old and still recovering from a c-section, had to go back into the hospital with intense pain, only to stay for another week and have her gallbladder removed due to gallstones and pancreatis. When she finally got released home (again), her boyfriend got hurt on the job and tore his rotator cuff. She has a tube coming out of her stomach and he has his arm in a sling – plus a newborn. They NEEDED a Christmas miracle after so many unexpected medical expenses – they barely had enough to pay their rent but had nothing left over for food or gas for the 1 car they share. Well I just got to witness that miracle happen when a Christmas Angel came by with about $500 in gift cards to the grocery store, target, walmart and even a restaurant for a date night (because God likes to go over and above our daily needs) – GOD IS AMAZING and even if you feel like He isn’t listening to your prayers, HE IS!!! He just wants you to trust Him in the process because a lot of times He is a “just in time” God – so we learn faith and how to trust. TOTALLY AWESOME!
A 20 year old Embrace Grace momma had been struggling and going through a hard time kimberlyfinancially. She was in a hole that was hard to dig herself out of with bills stacking up and was without a job. She was the mommy of 2, a 3 year old and a newborn and needed help. She prayed for a perfect job opening that was close and for assistance with daycare and she just found out she got the job – with great pay! The next issue was that she really needed a car. How could she be reliable with her job without transportation and having to rely on everyone to help give her rides? She prayed again for a miracle when this past week, Gateway Church had called and asked her to come up there for a meeting, when only to see a car that they were giving her for her fresh start. She was shocked and so amazed at how even when she couldn’t see how everything could possibly work out, God was continuing to bless her over and over! The past 4 months she has seen so many cool miracles! 
My christmas wish for this year is for every girl to realize her worth and how she is a priceless treasure full of value and beauty and for every baby to have a chance at LIFE and to live out the destiny and purpose God has created for them. 
We would love to hear your Christmas wishes and will be in prayer with you! 
Written by Amy Ford

Palm Trees in Snow

snowandpalmtreesMonday morning I awoke to a light dusting of snow here in the north Texas area. It was quite a surprise because the day before it had been nearly 80 degrees. I peered out our kitchen window to view what seemed to be a conflict of interest. A contrast if you will. There were my treasured palm trees with snow on them! I thought this odd at the very least. Palm trees in snow. It was at that moment God started speaking to me about contrasts.

Contrast:  1. To set in opposition two or more figures of a like kind, with a view to show the difference or dissimilitude, and to manifest the superior excellence of the one by the inferiority of the other, or to exhibit the excellence of the one and the defects of the other in a more striking view.

2.  To set in opposition different things or qualities, to show the superior excellence of one to advantage.

3.  The placing of opposite things in view, to exhibit the superior excellence of one to more advantage.

We are like the desert palm. Desert palm trees can be challenging. These trees thrive in hot, desert climates. Some trees can handle dry climates and extreme cold temperatures while others require more humidity and temperate climates.  There are many sizes, shapes and varieties.

Each morning and throughout our day we have choices, contrasts.  Which desert palm are we? Which choice exudes excellence? Our Heavenly Father has already given us the answer;

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. NOW choose life, so that you and your children may live.”  {Deuteronomy 30:19}

My way or God’s way? Which is more excellent? Which is more beneficial. Which one brings life?

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  {Isaiah 55:9}

How does this apply in daily life? Well here are a few examples the Lord gave me:

Choice…… Be busy/Be still? (note: there is a HUGE difference in being busy and doing God’s will!)

Answer….. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  {Psalm 46:10}

Choice…. Fix it/Faith (I struggle with this one DAILY! I’m a fixer!)

Answer….. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  {Hebrews 11:1}

Choice…. Hold grudge/Forgive (Another Biggie!)

Answer……. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  {Matthew 6:14}

Choice…. Shame/Grace

Answer…. One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.  {Proverbs 22:11}

How does one make the more excellent choice consistently? And please note that God knew we would struggle daily with making the better choices, that’s why He gave us the answer for this too!

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  {Micah 6:8}

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus! {Thessalonians 5:15-18}

So, here stands a beautiful palm tree with snow on it! Will it wither from the unexpected cold? Or choose to thrive knowing that its Creator wasn’t surprised or caught off guard from the snow. As a matter of fact, the Creator brought the snow to water His palm and make it stronger. Relying on the more excellent advantage.

Written by Kathy Easley

Moving Forward after a Tragedy

tearI can’t even try to understand nor comprehend all of the tragedies of this world.

Reading the news of the kids and teachers shot in Connecticut made my heart break. How is this possible? Kindergarteners? I keep crying for the parents, grandparents and friends of the lives that were lost. I go back and forth between being anger and despair every time I even think or hear a new story on this tragedy … but then this spark of hope rises up inside of me.

It is so uplifting to see on Facebook all the prayers lifting up the children at the school and everyone involved. My mind quickly remembers my brother, Joshua Catt, a police officer. He was shot in the line of duty on January 1, 2012. They have a tough job. I know it must have been hard on the police that were first on the scene. I can’t even imagine. I keep praying for all the officers involved and teachers, the list of who this affects goes on and on.

One facebook status caught my attention: What would this world be like without the “GREAT I AM”! WOW! I immediately put my headphones on and this scripture came to mind – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. {Ephesians 6:12}

There was a person that physically carried out the shootings, but the powers of darkness are really the ones that planned and carried out this scheme. I don’t know about you, but that fires me up! I want to take this hurt and make this into something good in my own life.

#1- I am thankful beyond words that I am delivered and saved from those powers of darkness.

#2- It makes me what to pull out my sword (God’s word) and stand in the gap for all those suffering and hurting and stand guard over their hearts!

#3- It makes me want to sing praises to the GREAT I AM at the top of my lungs –  calling heaven down to earth.

O God, listen to my cry!
  Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth,
 I cry to you for help
 when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge,
 a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary,
 safe beneath the shelter of your wings! {Psalms 62:1-4}

When times get hard, this is my heart’s response! I am fighter! I stand for my family! The generational curses the enemy tries to carry on down the family chain stops at my front door! The dark powers of this world will NOT influence my children! I will not allow the enemy to deceive me or my family! My God brings a wall of protection, peace, and love around my family! So I know in this world there will be trials. I get it. But I will stand BOLDLY at the front of my family and say GAME ON! I know my God will turn all this that was meant for evil to good for HIS glory! The darkness might have won this one battle, but MY GOD will WIN IT ALL!

So while my heart aches from the results of this battle and all I want to do is go and cry with the mommas that lost their babies. I will not forget that my God is and was and will always be. He is the overcomer of all things and has taught me how to overcome as well!

Watching the news and seeing how the teachers laid down their very life for the children, set me off into the “ugly” cry … you all know the cry I am talking about.  One little boy said “I saw my best friend die today.” The tears just began to roll. Just the thought of teachers bracing themselves and willing to lay down there life for their children is a HUGE reflection of Jesus and what He did for us – His children!

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. {1 John 3:16}

The only way that we can move forward after a tragedy is just to hold on to hope. The kind of hope I mean can only come from The Lord. Praying peace and hope to all affected by this horrible tragedy helps so much.  May you all know and draw strength God! Also, make a commitment to make a change for the better in your own life by reaching out to others. Love the unloved and the hard to love. Give of yourself in time or finances. Help a single mom put food on the table. Reach out to people in your own community and make a difference in your world! If we all united together and committed to every day doing something to reach out to others, we could change the world! Let God’s light shine in this dark world.

Here are a few verses to get you started whether you are in the middle of this awful tragedy or a tragedy of your own. Cry out to God to repair those broken places of your heart and restore your hope.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. {Psalms 40:1}

I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. {Jeremiah 24:7}

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.  {Psalms 20:1}

But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. {Psalms 22:19}

How has this tragedy affected you? Are there changes you are making with yourself or as a family for the better? How has it changed your thinking?

Written by April Franks

Power of Your Words

wordsWhat if every time you made a statement, it came true? 

You would really watch your words carefully right? Do you know how powerful your words are? A few weeks back, April Franks posted a great blog about this subject: Power of our Spoken Words. I’ve noticed lately that a lot of people use words loosely, without thinking about the affects. Sometimes I’ll catch myself saying something that I wish I could take back.

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. {Proverbs 18:21MSG} and the NLT version says The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

Do your words bring life or death? There is not a grey area … death or life. 

A few years back, I was attending a mommy/daughter Bible study and we met once a month. We always had a project or homework to work on during the month that we would take home and then discuss the results the following month. One of our homework assignments was based on findings from a scientist named Masaru Emoto who discovered how powerful are words are with rice. The project was to place white cooked rice in 3 sterile, small tupperware jars. On 1 jar you write I LOVE YOU, on 1 jar you write DEATH and the last you write IGNORE.

Over the course of the month, I placed each of these 3 covered jars on 1 shelf in my riceexperimentkitchen approximately 10″ apart from each other. They all had the same light and temperature to each of them. Basically almost every day, all of our family members as we thought about it and walked past the rice would stop and say to the I LOVE YOU rice things like, “I love you. You’re awesome. You are beautiful. You make me happy.” etc. We would say to the DEATH rice, “I hate you. You stink. You are ugly. You disgust me.” etc. We would simply ignore the IGNORE rice.

After about 2 weeks, I noticed that the IGNORE and DEATH rice began to turn green and black. It first started with small spots but then quickly consumed the rice all throughout. Crazy enough, the I LOVE YOU rice had a few small spots of the green but overall, stayed almost completely white! We couldn’t believe it.

Masuru-Emoto-imagesApparently Emoto has also done similar experiments with water. He showed extreme close ups of water molecules after hateful or lovely words were spoken to it. It’s amazing the differences. Our body is made up of almost 75% water – how would this affect our bodies as we speak life over it?

As I think back often on the rice experiment I did with my daughter, I think about that month of speaking to the rice. If you think about it, the destiny of the rice was to all turn moldy. It was cooked rice and it was not in the refrigerator. It was just sitting there on a shelf in tupperware … of course it would eventually turn black. Somehow my words kept the I LOVE YOU rice from turning black. All of the “I love you’s and you are beautiful and you are lovely’s” changed the destiny of the rice. And do you think I meant those words when I said it? Of course not! I do not love rice and I do not think it is beautiful. They were just words. But just because I said it, it made it lovely and beautiful.

Sometimes when I wake up and feel awful and I have a pounding headache, I start speaking positive words over myself, “I am healed. I am whole. I feel good. I feel refreshed.” etc – even when I don’t agree with the words I am saying, I just say it! And every single time, my headache will start fading. God says our words have power! One of the Embrace Grace girls called me the other day and was upset that her babysitter had a baby that had tested positive for the flu and her kids were expose to potentially getting sick. She said, “My kids are going to get the flu now and I’m so mad!” I stopped her immediately, “Don’t say that! Your kids are healthy and whole! They will not get the flu. They will not get that virus!” How quickly we release powerful words without even thinking about it.

I would love to challenge you for the remainder of the year to weigh each word you say as if it will come to pass. Speak life over your life! Our words mean so much – speak life into the people around you including yourself. Pause a second before you speak to make sure that you truly want to say what you are about to say. I’d love to hear how that goes! And if any of you try the rice experiment, post pictures and let us know your results! 

Written by Amy Ford

God Shaped Block

shapesorterRemember those toys that toddlers play with called shape sorters? They pick up a circle and try to find the circle hole to push it thru. It takes several times for them to figure out that the circle will not go in the square hole until they move on to a different hole. But after several attempts they finally get the circle in the circle hole. The feeling of accomplishment and the look of surprise on their face is priceless. They can’t wait to get another shape and go thru another hole.

So just picture your heart as a shape sorter. We have friend shaped blocks, a God shaped block, and parent shaped blocks and well, you get the idea. It is easy for us to understand that our parent shaped blocks fit easily. But how many times do we try to make a shape fit into our God shape heart hole that doesn’t belong? I know I have. I have tried to fill that hole shaped only for my God block with various types of things. I have tried to fill it with boyfriends, money, “things”, and even my husband. And no matter how hard I pushed or tried to manipulate those “blocks” they just would not fit into the God hole.

Some people get this concept early on and it saves them a ton of heartache. Though for others (including me), it was one of those things I had to learn and relearn again before the magic light bulb clicked. It doesn’t mean that God does not want you to have those other “blocks” in your life. He just wants you to prioritize your shapes and He wants to be the shape you consult first before you go make any decision with your other “blocks”. Not because He is a controlling God but because He made you. Who better to know what is best for you than the one who made you!! He made you for relationship. The more time you spend with your Maker, the more that you will realize who He created you to be.

One of my favorite children’s books is You Are Mine by Max Lucado and Sergio Martinez. It walks you through a life of being a wooden person and how all the wooden people judge each other based on the number of stickers they have. If they had star stickers, then they were noticed as a “good” wooden person and therefore rewarded with more stars. If they had too many circle stickers, then they were recognized as a “bad” wooden person and therefore given more circle stickers.

But there was one wooden little girl that no matter how many stickers they had to give her, they would not stick to her. The moral of the story is that the stickers didn’t stick to her because she spent time with her Maker. By spending time with her Maker, she knew who she was and didn’t need stickers to define her. So they simply didn’t stick. The stickers only would stick if you allowed them to stick.

Hit home? How many of us walk around daily letting others define our self worth? It is an easy trap to get stuck in.

A few of my personal favorite scriptures are below.

{Psalms 18:2}  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

{Luke 12:7}  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

{Ephesians 2:8}  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

What are some of your favorite scriptures that remind you who you are? We would love for you to share them with us!

Written by April Franks

Lead with Love

fieldwithredflowersI was just a sophomore in high school when I met my now husband. 15 years old and I thought I knew it all. 2 ½ years later we were faced with the biggest challenge our relationship would endure. We were expecting. I was 17, a senior in high school, graduating and turning 18 in the next month. Brad had just turned 21, 10 days before I found out and a junior in college.

The odds were against us being so young. Even people were against us being young. We shocked the world. But you know what, that’s exactly what we needed to do. To show the world, yes we are young, and yes we are having a baby even though we still live with our parents, Brad doesn’t have a job, and I’m working at Blockbusters … AND WE MADE IT. Why? Because the most important person we had on our side was GOD. And He is still on our side, cheering us on along the way, guiding our steps and blessing us more than we thought we could be.

It’s not easy. It’s a struggle everyday of our lives. But I just would like to look everyone in the face that turned their backs on us, said we would never make it, or secretly wish we would fail, and just pray for them. God was the only one that could get us through what we have been through, and our relationship is the strongest it has EVER been.

We live in our own apartment. Brad is working to support us, and I’m taking care of our sweet blessing, Blakelee.

Brad wasn’t saved when we had our beautiful Blakelee, but she saved him. The love he had for her drew him to His heavenly Father. He accepted Christ shortly after she was born. I always believed, but she saved me as well. She showed me what true love really is, and how to build a relationship with my husband in the eyes of God. We have a strong foundation now. It falters sometimes, lets face it, we aren’t perfect. But God never wanted us to be perfect. He loves us no matter what.

Going through all that I have been through, it’s taught me that Instead of pushing anyone away in a time of crisis, whether it is through a young pregnancy, drug abuse, or a tough time, lets lead with love. Sometimes people just need encouragement and to know someone cares. That’s what draws people to Christ and leads them straight into the hands of God. Because without God, you don’t know true happiness, you don’t know true love. God is the source of my happiness and He has blessed me an amazing husband and a beautiful daughter, and we are expecting our 2nd blessing this February. God loves you, and he wants to know you. If you are going through a tough time, run straight to God. If someone else is going through a tough time, be the one person that loves no matter what. When you step up and lead with love, other people will follow.

Love without limits! Love no matter what!

Written by Brooke Davidson