Destroy Me

Broken Glass HeartWe walked into Chipotle discussing the lyrics to a song we both loved. My friend had a heart for worship and vocal talent to back it up. My love for words, lyrics, and the meaning within budded.

“But what do you think that line means? ‘If destruction’s what I need then I’ll receive it Lord from Thee…’ That sounds kind of scary.” She speculated at the thought of God allowing our lives to be destroyed.

I spouted off some kind of response with depth beyond my seventeen-year-old understanding, unaware of the foreshadowing laden in every word.

“If we are living outside of God’s will for our lives and our choices bring heavy consequences, I think He’ll allow us to experience those consequences. Because the destruction of whatever lifestyle we’ve chosen might just draw us closer to Him in our pain and confusion. And it might be what eventually leads us to walking in His better plan for our lives. God is good, so if He sees fit to allow my ways of doing things to come crashing down, even when it’s painful, I want to endure to find out what He has in store for me afterwards.”

Two years later I was single and pregnant, and every decision I had made leading me to pregnancy was twisted and rooted in lies. My life was in shambles and everything I thought I knew about relationships, being all grown up and making choices for myself led me straight to destruction. And, boy, was it excruciating. Processing my actions as I dug through the wreckage left my heart bruised and broken. But one thing, deep within my soul, I knew for certain: it wasn’t God who caused this pain, but my own doing led me to this place of painful exposure. I felt like every weakness, every vulnerable area in my life had been displayed for all to see.

What I had yet to realize is that in this season of sheer vulnerability, with every wall I’d built and perfectly crafted, deciding who to let in and who to shut out, smashed to bits around me, God scooped me up and cradled me in His mighty hand. And I chose to stay there. The pain remained, but within His grasp I felt unconditionally loved and protected; two things I could never, with the greatest effort, seek out for myself in any human. Within His embrace I felt I could heal and hope arose before my eyes, luring me to discover more of this Savior and more of what He had to offer. I could uncurl from the victimized, fetal position, and stand humbled before the God who called out brave potential in a weak, broken girl.

We often share with people inquiring about Embrace Grace that God will use all kinds of situations to draw his daughters’ hearts back to Him, and He just might use a baby to save a young girl’s life, as they gaze upon the sweetest face they’ve ever seen. And maybe then they’ll have an inkling of how much God loves them. While my unplanned pregnancy came as a surprise under unfavorable circumstances, I never would have identified all of the lies and manipulative ways the devil was using in his attempt to steal my destiny and derail my purpose on this earth, had I not been blessed with the precious life of my first daughter. Had life as I’d known it remained intact and not come crashing down around me, I would not have experienced the healing hands of God mend fragments of decency into a daughter of The King.

People say all the time if they could go back in time and redo some things they would, and for a time I would have jetted back to change some of my choices, too. But now, gleaning on agape love and scandalous grace and mercies afresh… Oh, you couldn’t drag me back to the past to change it. The transforming experience on this journey since the unexpected life developed within me was a mere foretaste of the character and capability of God, and I would not change a thing. I have been shaped by the presence of the Lord. And if ever destruction is what I need, then I stand with my arms stretched high and wide, surrendering all that I have tried to build on my own, to receive the wreck of glory in the aftermath.

With Thanksgiving only a day away, I am thankful for brokenness. I am thankful for a loving God taking delight in His creation of me. I am thankful for His healing hands turning my messes into wondrous miracles. I am thankful for my soon to be four year old daughter, Brinley, as she dances through life a shining symbol of redemption at its finest. I am thankful for a man who saw value in making me his bride and giving me another gleaming daughter to rejoice in. And truly I am thankful for destruction, because without it I would be an empty, barricaded shell in a downward spiral. But because of it I am a whole, humbled, worthy, purposed daughter of The King.

“Hurricane,” by Jimmy Needham is still one of my favorite songs of all time. And maybe it spurred this blog post and was on my heart for you today. Maybe it is time to stretch your arms to the heavens and bare your soul and all of its walls, to allow the most loving God to tear them down and repair your broken and bruised heart. There is pain in the downfall, but joy awaits you tomorrow. Maybe, just maybe destruction is the very best thing to ever come your way to reveal the face of a Father restoring life to His daughter.

by Jacqueline Fox

Soaring Through Storms

shutterstock_147106736Have you ever been in a plane during a storm? The captain comes on the loud speaker and will make an announcement warning you that there will be turbulence ahead but that he is trying to navigate around or climb above the storm. Then….as promised…the turbulence will ensue. It will be uncomfortable but you have the constant reassurance of the captain along the way telling you it’s okay. He has a plan. Then finally when you feel like you can’t handle it anymore you reach that height above the storm and the plane is still and peaceful. Out the window is this gorgeous view of a violent storm below and beautiful clouds around you. Depending on the time of day you can see a beautiful pink sky or a piercing moon that is so calming. It’s like nothing you can describe. You are above the storm. All is well.

I think of this experience like walking with God. In John 16:33 Jesus says, “I’ve told you this so that my peace will be with you. In the world you’ll have trouble. But cheer up! I have overcome the world.” (GWT) He warns us of the turbulence ahead. A different translation of the same scripture reads, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (NASB) Like the captain of the plane in the previous example Jesus warns of what is ahead but also gives comfort and assurance that it will all be okay.

Raelee and I read a children’s story before bed recently. It was about a little bird named Firebird (because his feathers looked like the sun). Firebird LOVED sunny days but got so so sad on rainy stormy days and couldn’t understand why God allowed stormy days to come. He asked his momma over and over why? Why does God let this happen? And his momma would always smile. One day she finally told him he needed to fly up there and find out. He was so scared but he got up the courage and flew. He thought he wouldn’t make it through the crazy furious storm but when he finally broke through he experienced that same peace! It was beautiful! He finally understood.

God doesn’t CAUSE every storm. He does allow some. But through the storm He is ALWAYS there and ALWAYS in control. If you look up and keep your eyes above the storm and on Him – not only will the storm pass quickly – but you will have peace and rest in Him.

The Lord speaks to me through music a lot. I LOVE worshiping our King. I cannot get enough worship! It is truly a way of life. There is a song by Bethel Music called “I Can Feel You.” Some of the lyrics that really captivate me are, “The wind and waves surround me and I’m tossed, feel like I’m drowning. I’m tired, I’m weak. I need You here with me; ’cause I can feel the rising tides but I don’t have the strength to fight. I feel clouded and confused. I need You here with me. In the chaos of the storm I have drifted far, far away; but I call out Your name cause You are just a breath, a breath away. then through the shadows Your light appears. I’ve known You’re with me but now it’s clear. I can feel You Jesus all around…..” Don’t we all feel like that sometimes? I think that when the storms of life come and we are most vulnerable it is so easy to step away from the Lord. It’s so easy to get lost in the storm. And sometimes it happens without you even being aware. 

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away from helping me, so far away from the words of my groaning?” Psalm 22:1. “About three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Matthew 27:46. “The king stood up, tore his clothes, and lay down on the ground. All his servants were standing beside him with their clothes torn to show their grief.” 2 Samuel 13:31. Grief, mourning, being really, really, REALLY upset…that is nothing new to God. God is actually REALLY okay with that. You can find this all over the bible. As a matter of fact God is even okay with doubt….as long as you are open with Him about it. Bring that to Him. I can GUARANTEE He will comfort you in your trial and not only that but He wants to reassure you. He wants you to talk to Him and put your trust in Him! There’s NOTHING you can’t bring to God. You absolutely CANNOT shock Him. He’s heard and seen it all and Jesus has been through pretty much every type of trial. Just give Him a shot! Let Him take the controls…I bet He’s better at navigating this plane of life than we are!

Another AMAZING worship song that resonates in my heart when I think about the storms of life is Hillsong United’s song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail).” The lyrics are, “You call me out upon the waters; The great unknown, where feet may fail. And there I find You in the mystery in oceans deep my faith will stand. And I will call upon Your name…And keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace. For I am Yours and You are mine! Your grace abounds in deepest waters. Your sovereign hand will be my guide. Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won’t start now…” He HAS NEVER FAILED! Why would He start now? Think about that. I don’t know what storm you are facing right now. I know that my storm seems impossible at times. But I just want to ask you something. Why would you want to face it alone? It’s never too late to ask God to step in. Ask Him to pilot your plane to safety. The song goes on to say, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without boarders, let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me…” I want that. I want that kind of relationship with the Lord. I want that freeing, no walls, “all my cards are in so take my hand, Lord” kind of walk.

That verse in the song makes me think of Matthew 14:22-33 when Peter walks on the water with Jesus. Earlier I said that we need to look up and keep our eyes above the storm on the Lord! Here in Matthew 14 Jesus and the disciples had just come off of a time full of sadness and miracles. This was the period of time that John the Baptist was beheaded, when Jesus fed FIVE THOUSAND PEOPLE with just five loaves of bread and two fish, and He healed many sick as well. Then Jesus sent the disciples out on a boat in the middle of a large lake while He went up on a mountainside to pray. While Jesus prayed it was very windy on the lake. The wind was growing stronger and stronger. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them. He WALKED on the lake to them. When the disciples saw Him they were so afraid! They thought He was a ghost! But Jesus calmed them and said, “Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.” Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said, “Come” and Peter stepped out on the water. But when he focused on the wind and waves and took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink.

Isn’t this how it works with us as well? As long as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will have power to walk above the storms of life. If you falter you begin to lose your footing. But don’t give up! You can ALWAYS call out to Jesus!! God can always calm the wind and waves. The Lord can cease your storm. He will help you balance in this world. He will calm the raging seas and set you on dry land again. Place your faith, hope, and trust in Jesus (without borders) and you will find your strength renewed. Just like the storybook Raelee and I read about little Firebird, you too will soar above the clouds and above the storms! Once you try it God’s way you will never want to look at the waves again.

Written by Whitney Wells

Thank you

panoramicshowerJust a few weeks ago we hosted a baby shower for 52 single and pregnant girls.

FIFTY-TWO. 

I’m fairly certain there probably has never been a church attempt something like this before. Gateway Church and friends made it happen.

Eg5Many people would come up to me with their tears in their eyes and barely able to talk and simply say the words, “I didn’t know ….”

We say how amazing it is. We talk about how life-changing it is to be a part of this. But until you’re actually there, until you see what we see, until you look into the eyes of a girl with an unplanned pregnancy, really look, or hold a miracle baby in your arms … then it’s just words.

Even the pictures can’t do it justice.

Thank you’s:

If you donated a gift, your time, your skills or craft, or even if you slaved over 250 cupcakes cupcakeand donated those too … you were a part of changing the world. All of us joined together, using our gifts for God’s glory, are adding momentum to a new PRO-LOVE movement. I see it. I feel it. Just watch. It’s happening all around you. I really appreciate all that you’ve done! You’ve really helped me with so much! I feel blessed with all the gifts and love – Zoe

I appreciate you all. Love you – Tiffany

IMG_7995Thank you, Thank you, thank you sooooo much! Words cannot express my gratitude! The baby shower brought so much joy to my heart. Knowing that God put me in your hearts and you listened. It was such a blessing! I pray blessings over you!  – Brenda

Thank you sooo much for everything! Receiving the carseats and double stroller was a huge huge huge relief! Plus the outfits were adorable! I can’t wait to hopefully see ya’ll once they twins are born and that ya’ll will get the chance to hold them! Thank you so so much! Love Aleigh

Thank you all for everything! You have done so much for all of us. I couldn’t be more blessed to be apart of this. – Kayla

IMG_8008Thank you so much for all the gifts! I really appreciated everything. I’m so thankful for all you got for Isabella but I’m glad you got me a bible and prayer book for Isabella. Everything was so beautiful. It was such a blessing. – Love Mariah T.

Thank you for all of the gifts. I really appreciate it. Now my twins will be able to stroll around in fashion! – Ruby P

Thank you! I really appreciate all that your group got for me. You really blessed my family. I really loved all the gifts. Love you guys. – Julian

Thank you so much for all of my presents. I loved each and every one of them. My favorite was my bible and the baby prayer book. I’m so happy I got to meet you and your family. You are all so sweet. I will stay in touch with you and keep you updated with the baby. Thank you so much. You truly blessed Cooper & I. – Love, Emily

I would love to thank you guys for all the great gifts for my little baby girl to be. I was so IMG_8034happy to know people are thinking of us. Ya’ll are so wonderful for helping us out! Me and my mom had a great time, and we felt so much love for me and my baby. Thank you so much! – Love, Brittany

I can’t thank you enough for the gifts! It is so sweet that you alone blessed me and Joy. I definitely saw Christ shine through you. Thank you thank you! Embrace Grace has blessed us more than I can express. These women, including you, inspire me to be a warrior as a mom! Thank you so much! – Love Bekah!

I would like to thank all of my sponsors for the Embrace Grace shower. Thank you for the IMG_8044time and effort you put into making it possible for me to get the things I needed for my baby and more. I am grateful for the gifts both me and my baby received. Bless you all and Thank you again! – Bria

Thank you so much for all the wonderful gifts you gave to me. They mean the world to me and are all going to come in very handy. Thank you for all the time, effort, and money you spent on making my baby shower the absolute best. The gifts were so thoughtful and amazing. I’m so lucky to have gotten the chance to be a part of embrace grace. The shower thrown for me and all the others girls, was so spectacular. I’m so lucky to have met all the wonderful girls in embrace grace and make friends. I know I’m never alone now and if I need help ever, I know I can always turn to Embrace Grace. I’m so happy I got to be a part of the magic that is embrace grace and I hope one day I can be in a position to adopt a girl just like me, and help to create a better life for her and her baby, just like you did to me. – Scarlet

Thank you so very much for the shower! Everything was so amazing and beautiful 🙂 My daughter and I really appreciate everything you’ve done! It really helps me out so much! Thank you thank you thank you!! 🙂 ❤ – Andrea H.

speakJaden and I would like to thank the sweet women who came to visit us in the hospital bearing baby shower gifts. It was such a pleasant surprise and very much appreciated. Embrace Grace gives such hope and love to so many of us. I am very  thankful for Amy Ford and all she has done. Thank you Embrace Grace and thank you to those who took the time and love for Jaden and I. We love you. God bless.- Ashley S.

Thank you to everyone who blessed Sadie and I with wonderful things at the baby shower. IMG_8068We will always be so appreciative of everything everyone has done for us. Especially all the love and support we have gotten from our Embrace Grace family. Just a few short days after the shower Sadie decided to make her entrance into the world and has blessed my life in more ways than I could even begin to imagine. She is now 2 weeks old and is loving all of the wonderful gifts she and I were given. Embrace grace has been an uplifting experience for me in teaching me ways to be the mom I never knew I could be. Single parenting was never something I saw myself doing but Amy and the leaders equipped me with the strength to know I could do this and choosing life, choosing Sadie’s life, was the best thing I could ever do.Your support throughout the pregnancy has been the best gift I could be given. All the love that has been shown to me makes it easier for me to know that I am not doing this alone, I may be parenting alone but I am not doing life alone. Sadie and I will forever be grateful for God choosing to put everyone of you in our lives. – Laura Lyon

IMG_8076Thank you to everybody who gave me such a unbelievable shower. The thought and love that was put into every gift was so appreciated. I had such a great time! How refreshing it was to be in a room filled with so much life and love. Thank you! Micka and Eli-Cristiano

Roses are Red Violets are Blue There are no words so I will say, “thank you” Moe

Dear Renee and family, I just wanted to thank you all for everything you have done for me. It has helped so much I need everything you got for me. I can’t say thank you enough. You guys have done a beautiful and selfless thing for me and I hope you guys continue to help me in my situation because you all are truly blessed by God. You guys are my angels. Thank you. Love, Victoria

Thank you! I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all that you did for me, but as I IMG_7958kept thinking for the right words I realized there aren’t any. What you guy’s did for me and my little Jonah is beyond thank you. It was God blessing me with his good grace through your beautiful hearts. I feel like I need to say thank you a million times and it still won’t be enough but I thank you very much anyways. Love, Samantha

Thank you all so much for being there for me all giving me such beautiful and great baby gifts. I feel so blessed to have people in my life that show me love and give me a blessed life. I can’t wait to share all the love you all showed me with my baby girl, Elliana Grace. To have ya’ll there the night of the shower was amazing. I can’t say enough how blessed my life has become and each one of you have a special place in my heart. I will one day pay this forward. Thank you … Bless you all as you have blessed me. – Chanler

I just want to thank everyone for the amazing gifts I received at the shower! I can’t express how grateful I am for everything. I feel so blessed!!! Camari and I are so thankful! Thank you for making the journey of my pregnancy that much easier!  Again thank you! With love, Mariah A.

IMG_7973Could you send out a huge thank you to every one that blessed me and Niko with a incredible amazing breath taking baby shower!! I’m so grateful and blessed! Thank you thank you thank you!! For the wipes, diapers, diaper bag, cloths, burp cloths, diaper cream, medicine for fever, teething and gas, Bible, prayer book and picture frame for Niko, car seat, car seat toy, stroller, blankets, bottels, and all their support and love!!! Thank you so much!!! We love you. And also to you Jocelyn you have been so kind and loving to us  i dint know what i would do with out you!! Thank you!! Lots of love, Nikodemus & consuela Mears Also thank you too every one that made the baby shower possible, the food, decorations, time And energy thank you!!!

I want to thank all the incredible people that made the best day if my life possible! I’m sure there was hours of planning and slaving to make all of out dreams come to life! I was so abundantly blessed and can thank you all enough! I was gifted with so many amazing things that are going to go to good use. My son was so blessed by each and every one of you! You all had a major hand in helping my little man come happily into this world! I have seen such a beautiful light from this experience and can’t wait to pay if forward as I progress through life and my next steps with my son! Hopefully I will get the privilege to help plan and orchestrate the next amazing baby shower! Thank you all so much for you blessing they truly have changed my life! Katelyn Blakesley

Hi my name is ashley brown and I would really like to thank you for the gift from my baby Eg4shower it really means alot that there’s people out there that care enough for someone in need, the clothes really helped and diapers once again thank you for helping me give my child what he needs – Ashley B.

Thank you so much for all the blessings you made possible for my new baby and me. I am still overcome with awe and gratitude at the grace and support so generously poured into my heart. Thank you for being a major part of that. I cannot wait to hold my sweet baby in the clothes and blankets you so sweetly provided and to create a life for him or her with the tools you have given.. Thank you so much! – Aryn Sweeney

I just wanted to say thank you so much to anyone that had a part in the Embrace Grace baby shower! I love Embrace Grace because the people involved brought me not only back to God, but closer to God.. and now that I have that relationship again, I know I will be able to better mine and my daughter’s future. Every single person who has been a part of this has blessed Emma and me and I am so thankful! – Courtney F.

2 Samuel 2:6 “And now may the LORD show loving kindness and truth to you; and I also will show this goodness to you, because you have done this thing.” I couldn’t think of a better way to start this email, than with scripture. Words cannot express how thankful my family is to have been blessed with such great people to help complete strangers and throw my daughter, Lexi Brister, a baby shower. You have no idea how much it means, and I will never be able to tell you exactly how thankful I am for you all, simply because, there is not enough words to express our gratitude. Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart, you are all blessings! Sincerely, April Brister & Lexi (Oh by the way, IT’S A GIRL!)

IMG_8014Thank you so much for all of the gifts you have blessed my baby girl and me with. I am extremely blessed to be a part of Embrace Grace. All of the encouragement and support means so much to me. I am extremely grateful. Thank you bunches!-Faith Dahl

Thank you so much for all the adorable baby boy gifts. You’ve really helped us out so much. I couldn’t express my feelings towards how amazing it was. God has opened a new spot in my heart for you ladies. Thank you again so much! I love yall!!-Taylor Munoz

Thank you so much for the great baby boy gifts you blessed my baby with and my family. I don’t think I could have done it without the help. Thank you so so so much!!-Lindsay Finley

Thank you all for everything. I couldn’t have done this without y’all. I’m grateful for IMG_8097everything. Thank you so much. -Tana Henson

Thank you so much for all the gifts, God really showed his love through you ladies. You have not only touched me and my baby’s life but also my family and boyfriends life. Again thank you so much-Jenna Tee

I just want to thank you ladies for everything it meant so much to me and Isabella. I love you all or amazing to have ladies like yall in my life.-Lindsey Morgan

It only takes a moment to say thank you, but your thoughtfulness will be remembered a long time. Thank you all for making my baby shower special  and for all of your help.  I love you guys always. Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes . It gave me strength to preserve and warmed my heart.  Thank you. –Ashlie McCracken

I’d like to give you, kind stranger, the sincerest of thank you’s. It’s heartwarming thing to know that although you don’t know me, you took the time to buy my son very lovely things with your hard earned money. For someone in a bad place financially like myself the help you have provided is immensly helpful.  So thank you for your generosity and being there for us by providing the great gifts.-Crystal Nieto

To each person who made my amazing baby shower possible I just want to say a huge Thank You!! You guys have no idea how excited I was to open each gift and how overjoyed and blessed I felt to have so many of baby Matthew’s needs met in one evening! The love and care from each of you was felt through receiving those gifts. It’s people like you who give me faith to know that I did the right thing in having this baby and courage to know God will provide for us as I raise him! I don’t know each of you by name but I want you to know that I am praying that the Lord will bless you and repay you 100 times in your lives for your generosity and kindness towards us. You each brightened my day! Thank you so much!! ~Abigail

I would just like to take the time to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the shower last Friday. It went above and beyond anything I ever expected! I was blown away at the amount of love someone could show to a girl they didn’t even know! Before I got pregnant, I was living a life of rebellion and sin, but God didn’t want that for me. This baby is a testament to God’s love for me, and I feel the same way about Embrace Grace. God put me at the right place at the right time to hear about the group, and I knew right away that he wanted me to be a part of it! Boy am I thankful! I am learning so much about what God has to say about certain issues in my life and without His guidance I would be lost right now! Anyway, words can’t describe how grateful I am for not only the amazing gifts I received but also the love! My family and I are inspired to sponsor a girl next year!~Valley

IMG_7978Thank you to those who spent their time and money to get my baby what she needs. It was so thoughtful and generous of you all!  You are such nice people for doing all of this not only for me but for my baby as well.  Thank you for everything! ~Leslie

I have no words to express how thankful I am for everything.  God bless you and thank you for having such beautiful hearts. ~Amy

Thank you ladies so very much for your generous gifts!  They will truly come in handy and I’m very grateful and so glad to be a part of Embrace Grace.  Embrace Grace has already taught me so much.  Thank you! ~Bridget

 Written by Amy Ford

Tell Me Something Happy

ducklingsDuck Ducks… When my baby boy was 12-18 months old one of his favorite activities was to go for a walk in his stroller and feed the duck-ducks. He would point and say duck-ducks over and over again. It was so amusing and entertaining for him.  The ducks would see us approaching and would waddle towards us knowing that a snack was sure to be on the way. My little one would tear off tiny pieces and throw to the ducks, and always want to partake and have some of the bread for himself as well. On many occasions after our leisurely stroll down to the pond and on our way back home we would carry on our own little conversations together- mommy and baby. We would notice the little things in nature and enjoy the sweet and tender moments. I will forever treasure these special times.

One afternoon when I was laying him down to sleep after an excursion to visit the ducks,  I was reading him a sweet book Tell me something happy before I fall asleep. His eyes were getting so heavy and he tried to stay engaged as he looked at the bunnies on the page… but after all the excitement one day brings, his tiny eyes said night night, sleep tight.

I was cuddled up beside him and my eyes were heavy too. A little nap I could enjoy too. I whispered a little prayer, God, please tell me something happy before I fall asleep. As my eyes were closed I began to get a picture of something extraordinary. It was a glimpse of heaven. I approached a big house with a pond in front with ducks floating gracefully all around. I thought to myself, ahhh that is so sweet; but I want to see something bigger. So with my eyes still closed, I approached this big house and came up to the door and was invited in. As I entered in the room something inside of me was filled with the sweetest sensation and enlightenment.  I could sense that babies were all around. I didn’t actually see them, just a deep knowing in my heart that they were there. No tears or crying, just laughter and goo goo’s were heard.

The room was overflowing with babies. I heard a whisper, these are all yours. ALL of them in this home belong to you. This is something you will enjoy so very much when you are here in heaven. Babies everywhere for you to embrace, nurture and care for. My heart was elated and filled with such wonder. I remember him speaking softly to my heart and saying, Your time on earth is spent loving and caring for the ones you love the most. Your precious children that I placed inside your womb. Many other babies will come that were not birthed from your womb, but they will be just as close to you. You are on earth to care for them and guide them as they learn and grow up. They love to be close to you. And you love to be close to them. It brings so much joy to your heart. A mother’s love. So pure, so true, so you. After hearing these words and seeing what I had just seen, my heart was in love! Such a precious love that I fell fast asleep surrounded in the sweetest peace.

I awoke with the vision still fresh on my heart. When I asked for something HAPPY, the Lord blessed me with more than I could have possibly dreamed on my own. 5 years have passed since that special encounter, and I reflect back to it ever so often. I wonder how many babies were in my home in heaven? What was their story? What will heaven be like? What will I do when I see Jesus face to face?

I know that our time on earth is very temporal. Heaven is eternal. Our time here is meant to be enjoyed and treasured with the ones we love most. My prayer for you is that you are able to savor the moments with your loved ones. Maybe you are a mommy, a mommy to be, a nana, an auntie, a sissy, or a girl that loves babies just like me. Enjoy the little things. The sweet walks, precious talks, lullabies and lovable moments, they are so adorable and memories in the making.

Babies bring out the best in me. They light up my life in ways that nothing else does. Something within me leaps when a baby is in the room and it is such a sweet occurrence when I am able to embrace them or speak softly to them and give them special attention. They feed on love and affection. That is what we love to give.

He will bless the babies from your womb and the harvest… from your fields... Deuteronomy 7:13

As you lay your head on your pillow, may you be able to whisper a little prayer… tell me something happy before I fall asleep. You may get a picture, a song, silence or a plethora of ways that God desires to show or speak to you. May your ears be tuned in, may your eyes be receptive, may your heart be open to receive. Hopefully you can write out the ways that you see and embrace the happiness.

Babies are a blessing and such a joy to our hearts. Enjoy some baby time!! Enjoy some big kid time too! Whatever their age, no matter how old they get… they will always be my baby, I always say.

My prayer is that you experienced a wonderful childhood, but like so many girls that I have heard stories from; their home life, like mine, was broken at one time or another. For those that endured this my heart goes out to you and I want to say that I am so sorry. I came across a letter today that my Dad wrote and gave to me 5 years ago. I felt led to share with you. Maybe this is the “something happy” you need to hear before you fall asleep… may your heart be held peacefully and sweetly in the most precious embrace from Jesus.

A letter from my earthly dad…

Things that I missed not being with you.  Maybe to some, this may not seem like much.  I missed you running up to me and hugging my neck saying daddy I love you.  That is what you used to do when you were very young. And yes, between me and you, I used to hold you and sing you to sleep.  You were so peaceful then. Not a care in the world. And your pretty smile. These are some of the things I experienced with you but later missed.  Then you were older and I missed your first day of school.  Helping you with your homework and the art work you would bring home from school.  Going for walks at the park or visiting the zoo. Of course the one that bothers all dads but we all know is inevitable. That one is seeing you off on your first date. The most important thing that I missed was YOU! Even though I missed you, you were always there in my heart.  You will always be my baby girl. And now you are grown. There are a lot of miles between us.  Now when I see you, you may not run… But you always come up and give me a hug.  It may not sound like much but it is special to me.  I guess another one would be that I was not there when you needed me the most. I LOVE You my Baby Girl!

A letter from your Heavenly Dad…

And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God… God, your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you’ll have babies …grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life… making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors. {Deuteronomy 30:8-9}

Our children and their children will get in on this as the word is passed along from parent to child. Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news— that God does what he says. {Psalm 22:30-31}

Written by Salina Duffy 

When I Grow Up…

Be BraveWhen I grow up I want to be like Kyle Fox.

Yes, he is my husband. And yes, I am an adult, but I’m still growing.

Sometimes on vacation, at a restaurant or grocery store, and sometimes–well, often at a Starbucks he sees a stranger to pray for or encourage. He speaks life into people he doesn’t even know.

There have been so many times I have felt like I should pray for someone or give a very specific word to them or buy their meal, but every ounce of my love and courage gets swallowed whole, and there I wallow in the belly of fear.

But the obedience and courageous love within Kyle overcomes the insatiable appetite of fear’s diversions. Kyle allows the Jesus in him to be bigger than any hesitation. He may wrestle momentarily with apprehension, but ultimately breeches all bounds the enemy tried to place between him and that person who needs to hear his words.

On our way home from vacation last week we passed through Houston and stopped for an energy boost at a Starbucks in Hunstville, Texas. We ordered, used the restrooms, and grabbed our drinks from the barista. Just as I was about to push open the door and head to the car Kyle paused and gave me a look implying I should wait. He gestured to a guy sitting at a table I couldn’t see sitting behind a large display of merchandise. “I’m supposed to go tell that guy something… I just don’t know what it is yet.” Kyle ushered me back into the coffee shop.

A random guy at a table in Starbucks was about to be blessed and he didn’t have a clue. I think it’s even more electrifying for me to witness and watch when the Holy Spirit speaks to someone else through Kyle, because it is like second nature to him, but for me that kind of evangelism is much more difficult.

I shopped the new collection of Christmas-y mugs and holiday latte syrups next to Kyle while he waited for the specific words to say to this unsuspecting man behind the shelving.
How does he do it? How is he so brave to face the fear of rejection accompanying approaching a complete stranger with, “God wanted me to come tell you something…” I awed with wonder.

Within a few moments Kyle looked at me and assuredly said, “Okay, I’m supposed to ask what I can pray for him about. I’ll be back.” He turned the corner and disappeared behind the shelving unit and I heard him introduce himself.

I wanted to creepily peek around to watch how it was going, but instead I remained hidden, looking at the same small selection of mugs and coffee beans over and over, as if they were so very intriguing. I strained my ears trying to make out the few words of their conversation I could comprehend. I heard a few random words I could not place, but I then heard the faint words, “weeks along…” I could recognize that lingo anywhere. Someone this guy knows is pregnant! The rest of the conversation blended and my mind wandered.

About my thirtieth time reading the fluid ounces in a pump bottle of vanilla flavored latte syrup Kyle emerged. He called me over and asked if I had a pen. I shook the guy, Trevor’s hand and dug a pen out of my purse. Kyle wrote down some contact info for him and said we would mail him a book. I picked up on his reference to the book and began explaining how it is full of true, encouraging stories about God’s love and faithfulness during unplanned pregnancies. This guy looked shocked and encouraged. We wrapped up, said we’d be in touch, and headed back to the car.

Kyle told me how this guy is a senior at the nearby university and he leads a fraternity and a small group within this fraternity. When Kyle explained he felt like he was supposed to pray for him, Trevor replied that he had been having a rough day at the frat house and headed to Starbucks to read his bible. One of his good friends just found out his girlfriend was pregnant. There was a lot on Trevor’s mind, the mind of his friend, and his friend’s girlfriend. This was not what any of them had planned and they were all trying to process it together. He didn’t know what he could do to help or encourage them.

I knew I had heard mention of an unplanned pregnancy during my eavesdropping! My heart was bursting at the thrill of how God orchestrated us to walk into that Starbucks, knowing this guy’s situation and knowing that Kyle would be obedient to pray for him and get a copy of A Bump in Life into the hands of this overwhelmed, newly pregnant girl.

God will use all kinds of situations to get His words into the hearts of those who need to hear them–even a chain of people like this, where He placed it on Kyle’s heart to pray for Trevor, who has a good friend whose girlfriend just found out she’s pregnant!

I asked Kyle how he could make snapping the jaws of fear and approaching a total stranger look so easy and be so certain it would make a great testimony. He said he has been following through on these promptings for five years and God always shows up. It may not be immediately evident, but God always does something. Kyle said he still gets nervous every time he’s about to walk up to a complete stranger, even knowing God always shows up, but the regret of feeding fear and wondering “what if” would be worse.

And he is right. The smelly inside of the belly of fear totally stinks. I so admire his confidence and courage when he chooses for love to win. And the thing is, he doesn’t have to be confident in his own ability to say the right words or pray the right thing. Neither do you or I, like in the bible when David declares, “My heart is confident in YOU, O Lord…” (Psalms 108:1, emphasis added). The love, power, grace, and ability of God is way more than enough to work through us without a smidgen of our own efforts or additives. If we will just say YES to what, where, or whoever we are called to, God will work through us! In Him we can be confident.

I so badly want to be Kyle’s kind of obedient and brave, ever certain of the faithfulness for God’s words to come out of his mouth when walking up to a stranger. I am not there yet, but I’m still growing and have this goal in mind. I don’t know how many people didn’t hear the words they needed from my mouth, because I willingly fed myself to fear, but I know there are plenty more people who still need to hear something from God that just might come from my mouth.

There’s a copy of A Bump in Life: True Stories of Hope & Courage During an Unplanned Pregnancy headed to a girl in Huntsville, Texas right now, who Kyle and I may never meet–a girl who might just need to read the stories in that book to encourage her to choose life and reassure her that God is holding her’s safely within His hands. How cool!

I’m going to set a goal to follow through with that stirring in my spirit at least once a month, whether it’s writing down a verse and giving it to a stranger, praying for them, or a very specific word for them. Once a month may not be much, but with each and every time I refuse to back down to fear I gain territory for the infectious love of Jesus to reach more people in need of His touch in their hearts and lives. And over time I do not doubt that in doing so, spreading that infectious love will become more like second nature for me, too, and happen much more often than one out of every thirty days.

Will you do the same? Will you make a goal to at least once a month go out of your way to follow through with praying for, giving a word of encouragement to, or doing something extra nice for a complete stranger? Ask God to highlight someone to you as you buy your groceries or go in to get your coffee before work. It can be a scary moment in those seconds preceding saying hello and introducing yourself, but God says our hearts can be confident in Him! He is the same God who has spoken and acted through Kyle for five years and probably many others for even longer, as they step out in faith and obedience to love people. Will you join with me to grow up to be this kind of big love in the coming months?

We would love to hear your stories of what happened or happens as you starve fear and allow the Jesus-sized love in you to be bigger than any voice of doubt while reaching out to love people you’ve never met before. Just say YES and watch as God sets up the coolest meetings with people you otherwise would have walked right past. And I will update you in the future with my testimony of Love showing up and loving big, too!

by Jacqueline Fox

Want to Start a Revolution?

shutterstock_154560848Have you ever wanted to be a part of a movement? There is a revolution brewing; change is in the air. An uprising has begun and it won’t be stopped . . . don’t miss it. This is different. This is about hearts.

You see, there are plenty of programs that want to help people, but this is a call to hearts for change. The resulting difference is in the giver as much as it is in the recipient. The dynamic multiplication of grace results in revolutionary momentum.

Amy Ford, co-founder of Embrace Grace, launched her new book (“A Bump in Life”) last night at Gateway. Hundreds were gathered to hear her call to not just action, but heart change. Amy and the rest of the Embrace Grace team started serving women with unexpected pregnancies five years ago. That first semester, there were three expectant women invested in as they walked day by day towards motherhood. This semester, there are over five hundred and this is just the beginning.

  • This isn’t about helping people, it’s about loving them
  • This isn’t about charity, it’s about relationship
  • This isn’t about an agenda, it’s about a culture
  • This isn’t about pro-life, it’s about pro-love
  • This isn’t about them, it’s about us

Embrace Grace reaches out through churches to love women who are alone and scared. The reason that is significant is because it is the church that often times won’t assist them for fear that “it would affirm their sin.” Seriously, somebody said that.

If we aren’t going to love women during a time of difficulty, the world has much more insidious plans for them and these unborn babies. If we aren’t going to lead out in love, how can we expect credibility in our voice for life?

The movement of Grace releases the church to operate in the love towards others that Jesus walked in. It facilitates growth and healing for women within the church as they serve women externally. There are more women, inside and outside of the church, in need of healing from the wounds of abortions in their past than we realize. All too often, there has been no place for them to turn until now.

Embrace Grace is grace for moms. Embrace Grace is grace for babies. Embrace Grace is grace for us.

Scott Prickett and his wife Julie have been chasing God together and saying “yes” to His invitations. They are the founding pastors of a new church, The King is Calling, in Sherman, Texas.  You can read more about Scott and his family at http://scottprickett.com.

 

Train Station

shutterstock_104394743Sitting on the back of an antique rustic train car on Main Street today. The date is 11-12-13. A song begins to play… say hello to a new beginning. Say goodbye to the you I knew before. Ahh, this is your Genesis. You’re different now, somehow (Bethany Dillon). Train horn suddenly sounded to alarm and announce that it was entering a crossing station. The tracks that the old train car I was sitting on shook from the ground up as the other train sped by.

I recalled a time over 8 years ago when I would awaken to the sound of the train in the middle of the night. Startled and shaken from my slumber, somehow I thought it was the sound of Jesus coming back… aka known as the rapture. In confusion I thought, will it sound more like a trumpet sound or a train sound? Random thoughts would arise. In question and wonder am I really saved? Am I going to heaven? Will I be left behind? I was scared. Uncertain. Unsure if I really was going to heaven. I would say a little prayer, Jesus save me. Forgive me of my sins. I long to go to heaven. Then I would fall peacefully back to sleep. A few nights later I would awaken to the train horn sounding the alarm again. My home was miles away from the train tracks.  I would lay there totally and completely awake at this point and my mind would begin to wonder again. Is this the time? Is Jesus coming back now? I would say the prayer again. Repeating the same words, but not a true, heartfelt, sincere, release of myself. I was going through the motions as I had since my childhood. I attended church occasionally now that I was a grownup, but not regularly. I had been raised in a Christian home and attended church very frequently as a little girl. One of my favorite childhood classes was Prims. My Mom would teach lessons to me and my friends and I would memorize scriptures to earn a badge for my sash.

I had watched the movies in church as a teen of the Left Behind series. Somehow it triggered something deep inside of me. Especially in my teenage days of rebellion and rejection. I would act out, wanting my own way, even though my Mom would advise otherwise. Salina’s way was best… or so I thought in my own eyes. My Mom had an opinion and I had mine. I always liked my opinion better. Imagine that. Sound familiar to anyone? Or am I the only one that has ever felt that?

I attended many church services, youth camps, had amazing encounters with God and would re-commit my life to Him. Each time telling myself- ok, this is going to be different. I will commit my ways to the Lord. God’s ways, not my ways. I always fell short. I always held on to those “feelings” for a while, but eventually would fall back into those same patterns, the same cycle would repeat itself over and over. Again and again. I would give Jesus pieces of my heart, pieces of my life. All the while holding onto the larger portion of my heart and life. You can have this section, and this, and here take this part… but all these over here, these are mine and I like what I have here. Still wanting my way, my rules, my-my-my.. I was stuck in my- own little world.

So fast forward to my early thirties. It happened! I finally grasped it! I got it! The true meaning of surrender. True acts of letting go. All of me. And giving it all to God. A total heart change. A total release of my control and my ways. I allowed God into every place of my heart and life. Even the icky sticky places. Those places that I thought were better for me to just be in charge. That’s when it all changed. Life-changing. Life altering. Total surrender of my ways to God’s ways. When before I questioned my salvation. I was unsure if I would really go to heaven. Afraid that I would be left behind. From that moment on; I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was a child of God. Forever.

For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.  {1 John 5:4}

names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life {Revelation 21:27}

That He had written my name in the Lambs book of life. That it was permanent. That I did not have to work or measure up or just be good enough. His Grace. Jesus’ GRACE covered all my sins, all my pain, all my doubts, fears, worries and disbelief. He made me new. A newness came in and changed me from the inside out. My Jesus saved me. Saved my life. After I gave my life to Jesus, I would hear the train sounding. No longer was I afraid or fearful. I embraced the sound. Then one day I  had this impression to pray for the lost souls anytime I heard the train sound. A shift happened.  As soon as I knew whose I was, the focus changed from me to others. I prayed for the lost to be found all across the nation.

And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world. {John 11:52}

Today I heard the train horn sounding and those early morning alarms came to my memory. Those times of being unsure changed to a sureness and knowing deep down inside. I am God’s child. I am His forever. I am going to heaven. I know my eternal destination.

All aboard the train station. Salvation is extended to you. No ticket is needed to board this train. It’s a free ride from here on out. Now to eternity. Your salvation is already bought and paid for with a high price. Jesus paid it all. Trust Him. He is for you. He loves you. Now is the time to fully surrender your ways to God’s ways.

If you are unsure of your eternal destination; if you have doubts or have never asked Jesus into your heart… this is a perfect time. It is so simple. An act of surrender. Simply say this prayer in your heart or aloud: Jesus, I come to you now. I ask you to come and take over. I give my heart and life to you. Show me your ways. I trust you. You are my everything.

It’s as simple as that. If you just prayed that prayer, we would love to join in with the angels rejoicing over you. Your beautiful life matters. Send me a little email to salina.duffy@iembracegrace.com or post a comment below.

I will fulfill my vows to you, O God, and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help. For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light. {Psalm 56:12-13}

Written by Salina Duffy