2013 At a Glance

celebrateThis last year has been SO amazing. I tend to have a personality that wants to GO GO GO and move fast. I’m an activator and like things to move. Sometimes I feel like things seem slow at times, like everything is in slow motion. But every once in a while, you just have to reflect on how far you’ve come, on how God opened doors that we could never have done on our own. He is MOVING and it really is fast! When you look back at the beginning of the year to now, WOW! What a beautiful Glory Story God is writing for Embrace Grace in all that He is doing in this ministry!

I wanted to list out some highlights from 2013. We just need to stop for a moment and give God praise for all that He is doing to save mommies and babies with Embrace Grace:

• We now have 32 total Embrace Grace groups across the nation and even in Canada that are fully serving single and pregnant mommas as well as the grandparents, fathers of the babies and even single young moms in US States of Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio, Montana, Michigan, and Minnesota!

• Embrace Grace has responded to almost 400 church and pregnancy center inquiries, most of them being from just this past 4 weeks. People all across the world are prayerfully considering beginning a group as well as approaching pastors and leadership for approval to love on these brave moms that choose LIFE!

A Bump in Life: True Stories of Hope and Courage during an Unplanned Pregnancy released on October 1st with B&H Publishing and is in bookstores nationwide. We had an amazing Embrace Grace celebration and book launch party! We celebrated with Awaken Movement that led awesome worship and Dan Dean of Phillips, Craig and Dean shared and sang. It was an unforgettable night!

• Embrace Grace was featured on Life Today with James Robison 3 times this year as well as Table Talk with Joni Show and other news shows and radio programs

• Embrace Grace launched their first commercial – it’s AMAZING! Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet!

• I have signed with Ambassador Speakers Bureau, allowing me to travel and speak, raising awareness to not just be pro-life, but truly being the hands and feet of Jesus by inspiring the world to be Pro-LOVE.

• Social Media and Blog numbers are climbing! Make sure and click “follow” in upper right corner of this blog and go to our facebook and twitter page and “like” us!

• We launched a beautiful website, www.iEmbraceGrace.com that shares all about the mission and heart behind Embrace Grace including what we have done, and where we are going.

• Most importantly, there have been lives changed, hearts healed, salvations and strong mommies encouraged and lifted up so that they can be all the mother that they were created to be by their Heavenly Father. We are gathering numbers on how many alumni “blooms” have been touched – we are excited to see how Embrace Grace is planting seeds in the hearts of our sweet and brave blooms.

We are laying the foundation for God to take this pro-love movement and spread it across the world like a wildfire. Being a leader in this ministry, I am continually amazed and blown away by what God does when we just be flexible to His plans. Hearing, Believing and Obeying is crucial and by doing that, we are confident in how He continues to equip us along the way. I’m glad I get to be along for this amazing God-Adventure!

You can partner with us in many different ways in 2014 including:
• PRAY! Pray for us as the non-profit, pray for all the leaders in Embrace Grace, pray that the church is awakened to the need to open their arms to these girls, and pray for these sweet and brave moms to choose LIFE and to get plugged into their church and realize that they do not have to walk this road alone.
• LEAD! Lead an Embrace Grace group – get started at your local church! There are girls in your local community that NEED this program – it might just be what helps them choose life.
• GIVE! Without your financial contributions, we are limited to what we can do. We have so many amazing ideas on how to reach out to these girls all over the nation, but we need your help to make an impact in the Kingdom. Consider partnering with us this year!

Stay tuned for more Glory Stories – It’s going to be WILD, It’s going to be GREAT, it’s going to be FULL OF HIM.

Written by Amy Ford

A Christmas Miracle

shutterstock_122183341Approaching the highest bridge leading into Downtown Fort Worth, the text message read… She’s here! My heart was so happy! I was on my way and driving to the hospital to see one of our blooms that was in labor. I knew her baby was due any second and had been praying for a healthy delivery. Somehow I mixed up the hospital location and realized I needed to be at a different address. I looked to see my whereabouts and saw Mistletoe Blvd. I took a quick photo of the street sign and blew a kiss to heaven as I thought about being under the mistletoe and giving a kiss.

As I turned right on Mistletoe Blvd. a building with a heart and images inside caught my attention. Something told me to turn in, so I listened. Having no idea what the agenda or plans were, and knowing this was a God moment, I grabbed a few of my Embrace Grace business cards and walked towards the infertility clinic. I kept thinking these girls inside are more than likely not going to be single and pregnant, but there is a reason I am here. I just felt it. I walked in and noticed a lady wearing a sports clip shirt sitting close to the door. She looked a little sad. I went to the front desk, still unsure of the reasoning I was led here. I glanced down at their business card and read the tag line… Where miracles begin.

Something inside of me stirred at that moment. That is when I heard, go and pray with her.

I went towards the sweet lady wearing the sports clip shirt and sat down beside her and asked if I could pray with her. She quickly said oh yes, please. I asked her how long she had been trying to conceive and have a baby? She said it had been 4 years. My heart skipped a beat as I remembered my own story of infertility and how we had longed, hoped, wished, prayed for a second baby for over 4 years. I gave her a short 10 second elevator speech of my story, then began to pray with her. Tears were running down her cheeks. I hugged her and said I will be right back. I went to my car and wrote her a note and placed a tiny cherry seed and plastic baby in my hands. I walked back in the clinic and took her by the hand. I placed that tiny cherry seed and baby in the palm of her hand and heard the words “may she have a Christmas miracle”. I began to say that over and over… A Christmas miracle. Prayed again over her womb, and any blockage to be opened up and flow freely, and that she would have a baby. I gave her a sweet embrace and said we would be in touch.

I looked across and saw another lady sitting in her chair and she was looking over at us. I felt an impression to go and pray with her also. I sat down beside her and asked if it was alright to pray with her. She said yes, please, I watched you praying over there with her and I asked God, please let her come over here and pray with me too. She had been trying to conceive for over a year. Sweet tears fell as we prayed for a baby in her womb. We exchanged phone numbers and said we would stay in touch.

Another lady sitting caddy corner from us was sitting and waiting for her name to be called back to the room. I walked towards her and asked if I could pray with her too. She said yes! She had been coming to the infertility clinic for a few months and was hoping for a baby. Tears gently rolled down her cheeks as we prayed for a miracle.

A couple walked in the door during one of our prayers and they sat down together and were just waiting quietly. I could sense the longing within them. We shared names and they said they had been trying for over a year to get pregnant. I asked if I could pray with them, and they quickly responded yes please. More sweet tears began to fall.

The room had been filled with hearts and tears longing to be a mother and to conceive a child. A sweet embrace was given to each of them as we exchanged numbers to keep in touch and pray.

I left with such a happiness in my heart that God had led me to this infertility clinic and knew that it was not by chance or accident that I had gone to the wrong location for the hospital. Now I was on my way to visit the precious bloom from Embrace Grace and her sweet new baby girl fresh from heaven. On the way I kept rejoicing for this amazing opportunity to pray with these beautiful strangers that I had never met before; and without even knowing their situations could relate with their barrenness and longing for a child.

Two days later I received a text message from the first lady that I had the honor of praying with at the infertility clinic. She said “Hi Salina, you prayed with me in the clinic on Thursday. I got my results back and it turns out I get to give my Mom and Dad the greatest Christmas present! I’m pregnant! Thank you for praying with me and for me! This is such a blessing as you are.”

I jumped up and down and screamed and shouted with so much happiness and joy for her. She had been trying, longing, hoping to conceive a baby for over 4 years. When we prayed together, she was already pregnant with a baby in her womb, she just didn’t know it yet. Miracles in the making. Where miracles begin… just like the tag line of the infertility clinic. Such a beautiful gift she was to me. A sweet kiss on Mistletoe Blvd. I look forward to hearing more baby stories from the other ladies I was blessed to pray with that day too.

Jesus is the ultimate and greatest Christmas miracle ever. He came to earth as a precious little baby born in a manger and was cradled and loved by his mommy and daddy. Jesus is the best gift anyone could ever receive. May you cherish and remember his birth story as you celebrate with your family this Christmas. May your days be merry and bright. May love fill your home. Peace fill your heart. Joy fill your days.

Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles. {Psalm 136:4}

Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words! {2 Corinthians 9:15}

If you are longing for a baby in your womb… may I pray with you? Jesus, I thank you for this precious lady. I thank you for the gift of life. May you open her womb in due season, replace the barrenness with life within. May you cover her in your grace and love. I pray for miracles. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Written by Salina Duffy

The First Noel

shutterstock_159507632Talk about an epic “unplanned pregnancy!” It occurred to me that our Savior even understands unplanned pregnancy. He was the original “unplanned pregnancy.”

As I sit here in our cozy lil’ cabin gazing at the glistening snow I have had time to slow down and reflect on this “Christmas” season. The song “The First Noel” playing over and over in my heart. Being the word gal that I am I decided to research the meaning of Noel. It means “Christmas.” OK, simple enough. Then I looked up Christmas, thinking I knew the term well. Christmas means…… Christ Festival. A festival just for our Savior. But wait! A festival for an unplanned pregnancy? That’s right, we celebrate life. A life that matters. A life that came to save the world. A life that came to die for us. Whoa! I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here is how it began. Like most of our stories in Embrace Grace, a 17 year old girl received some shocking news.

Luke 1:26-29

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man name Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

I don’t know about you, but I’m with Mary. What a greeting! Me? Highly favored? The Lord is with me? You see, far too often we see ourselves through our own eyes, our own faults, and our own skewed choices. How could I possible view myself as favored, especially highly favored? Mind you, Mary was still a virgin, but I’m sure she had some issues she dealt with internally that would lead her to believe otherwise. How could the Lord want to be “with me” after all these harmful decisions I have made? OK, let’s move on.

Luke 1:30-34

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

                “How will this be, Mary asked the angel, “Since I am a virgin?”

WHAT!! I’m pregnant?! There is that shocking news. But wait. Mary was told ahead of time. It was hard enough digesting this news after the fact. But to be told ahead of time that I was going to be pregnant? Now? At 17? Right now, before I’m married? Before I graduate high school? Before my life is ready? Before………. Whatever the scenario or circumstances of your life, this news is slightly disturbing at best. And for Mary, even more puzzling because she was still a virgin.

AND….. This man child was going to save the world? God’s baby boy? A king? Jesus? What kind of a name is that?

Jesus = Yahweh is salvation

Yahweh = to become

Jesus = to become salvation

Personally, I think Mary’s response was pretty calm! Let’s read on.

Luke 1:35-37

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

“NOTHING” NO-THING, is impossible for God? But God, this seems impossible. A pregnancy. An unplanned pregnancy? Not impossible? This is not what I planned God. This is totally “UNPLANNED!”

Jeremiah 29:10-14

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

This is our Lords answer to the things that seem unplanned to us. We see our lives and the events of them to be random, surprising, unplanned, shocking, and sometimes downright disturbing. But nothing catches God off guard. He has a plan. An unseen plan, but not “Unplanned.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Mary’s response to what she has just been told? It is nothing short of amazing, and we can glean so much wisdom and peace from it.

Luke 1:38

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Did Mary feel afraid? Probably. That is why the angel told her not to fear. Was this “unplanned” plan confusing? Yes. This is why she responded with “how can this be?” The list of possible thoughts and fears could be numerous! I know I had so many thoughts and fears when receiving the news of my unplanned pregnancy! Did God not understand the timing, the methods, and the mess my life was already in? And now He wants to add a baby to the mix! Needless to say, my response was not near as “grace filled” as Mary’s! “May it be as you have said?!” Really? Oh to have such faith and confidence in what seems an impossible situation!

And then, to top it all off, Mary sings! SINGS!

Luke 1:39-55

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

                And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
For He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
For the Mighty One has done great things for me—
Holy is His name.
His mercy extends to those who fear Him,
From generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
But has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
But has sent the rich away empty.
His has helped his servant Israel,
Remembering to be merciful
To Abraham and his descendants forever,
Even as he said to our father.”

I love that our Lord had Mary go to Elizabeth upon hearing this “unplanned” news! He, our God, knew to surround Mary with someone who would rejoice with her. To encourage and lift her up during this fearful and somewhat confusing time. To point her to praise and worship of the very one who has given us life.

In no way am I comparing myself or any other mommy who has experienced this news with our Lord’s mother. The birth and life of our Savior is incomparable! Or am I intending to diminish the life and death of our King. He took our place. He understands our struggles. And only He could pay the price for our life. But our Lord gives us example after example of how valued and precious life, every life, is. To Him and to this world. His plan. His purpose.

Psalm 139:13-16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

I am so humbled and blown away at our example from our Lord how to accept His plan. How we can show love no matter the circumstances or timing. This is how the God of the universe reacts to “unplanned” pregnancy. It didn’t catch Him by surprise!

So remember, upon hearing the news of an “unplanned” pregnancy, whether it be yours or someone else’s…………..

1)      You are highly favored
2)      The Lord is with you
3)      Do not be afraid
4)      God has an amazing plan for you and your baby
5)      Jesus became our salvation
6)      NOTHING is impossible for God
7)      You are the Lord’s
8)      Have faith
9)      Surround yourself with others who are encouraging
10)    PRAISE GOD!

While talking with others who experience an unplanned pregnancy, whether theirs or their mothers, their lives and those of the baby have touched so many other lives. There is only one Savior, but we, who have chosen life, have and continue to reach so many that others may not be able to. My daughter of my unplanned pregnancy is now a pediatric oncology/cardiac/sickle cell nurse saving other babies on a daily basis. And I am speaking out for other mommy’s that are facing unplanned pregnancy and to their families to be healed of the shame and fear almost always associated with “unplanned” pregnancy.

Deuteronomy 30:19

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before your life and death, blessings and curses. NOW CHOOSE LIFE, so that you and your children may live.

So……….

Happy Noel!

Merry Christmas!

Rejoice! For we celebrate this Christ Festival!

We celebrate life. All life. It all began on “The First Noel.”

Written by Kathy Easley

Beauty for Ashes

shutterstock_148849742Numb.  I stared into space trying to comprehend what had taken place just a few days before.  The excruciating pain that reverberated throughout my heart had subsided to leave an aching numbness.  Betrayal.  I felt betrayed by hope. Betrayed really…by myself.  How could I have even held on to a sliver of hope in an obviously hopeless situation?  And yet there I was, a processor by nature it took several hours for my mind to catch up with what my heart already knew.  And the tears flowed.  Huge tears that came from a reservoir deep within that had yet to be fully emptied.  Pain that had been trapped and stuffed down by loyalty wrongfully given, wrongfully placed.  In the aftermath of the waves of sorrow, a very dim light came forth.  Something that felt like freedom and smelled like new.  I rose, reaching deep within to find some semblance of the woman God had called me to be.  And I found her there.  Dusty from the ashes of the pain of heartbreak, yet a crown of beauty on her head.

To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.  In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3

In the days that followed, God gently worked on my heart.  Reminding me that He was there.  Lovingly pursuing me, captivating me again.  I had always struggled with allowing Him to heal certain areas of my life because I was either blaming someone else for my pain or choosing not to deal with my pain at all – telling myself it wouldn’t matter anyway.  This time though, He opened the eyes of my heart to something different.

When Jesus died on the cross, He took our sins, our shame onto Himself and gave us His righteousness.  There was an exchange that took place.  When we accept Jesus as Lord of our lives, and ask Him into our hearts, He takes the old and fills it with the new, His Holy Spirit – an exchange takes place.  In just the same way, when we feel betrayed, hurt, or wronged – if we will come to Him with all of those feelings, He will willingly take them and exchange them for His grace, His peace, His love.

As I drove home from a long day and the familiar pangs tried to come back again, I made a conscious decision to take them to the Lord.  “Abba I feel so betrayed, so hurt, so angry, even jealous…but I don’t want to feel this way.  I choose to give these feelings over to You.  Please give me Your peace.  Please heal my heart and fill me with Your joy.”

Although my heart is still tender, I know that I am on my way to full healing and restoration of what was broken inside.  I know that there is beauty for ashes and joy for pain stored up for all those who choose to include Him in every little detail, trusting Him to be Jehovah Rapha – the God That Heals.

Written by Jamie Stapleton

Silent Night

shutterstock_2187913Dreams have a way of speaking to us in the silence of the night. Speaking from experience, some mornings I wake up and think what on earth? Did that really just happen, oh it was only a dream. So many times we are given a message within a dream. When we allow ourselves to unveil and go beyond to the heart of the matter, there is so much depth and clarity that is to be seen and captured.

Dreams are given all throughout the bible and into our present days. Dreams are unique and part of life. Our spirits are at rest and our bodies are asleep, but there is so much being spoken over us during this time of slumber. Sometimes I wish I could recall all that my spirit encounters during the night as I am sleeping and dreaming. There are some amazing adventures, spectacular scenes, and so much that in the natural I would not ever be able to encounter.

Now please note, there are many dreams that are off the wall, ridiculous, out of the ordinary, crazy and could never ever happen… but there are some that we take to heart and a sense of importance is placed upon that dream. There happened to be such an occurrence in the very beginning of the New Testament in Matthew announcing the birth of Jesus. There were some relevant dreams that were expressed in the first 2 chapters that are worthy of recalling.

Joseph encountered  many dreams that gave him clear direction and how to proceed in the days to come. He received significant dreams before and after a very special arrival. The first dream came while his fiance was pregnant with a baby that was not his own. Once he discovered she was pregnant (by the Holy Spirit, although he did not know the details of this yet) he thought he could just take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced. He was trying to find a way out, an escape, and God gave him a dream to show him the path to take. In his dream the angel spoke to him that he was to marry the mother of this baby and raise this child as his own. Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream. He married Mary. Matthew 1:24 MSG

A band of scholars (also known as the wise men) were in search of the child that had been signified by the bright star in the eastern sky. The star served as a birth announcement. A star shining with the  brightest light to announce the Light of the World was here. The scholars asked around where they could find this newborn child so that they could worship this King.

King Herod, an evil king, heard of this announcement and had a secret meeting with the scholars hoping to find out the scoop of the whereabouts and details of this baby boy that would save the world. King Herod saw him as a threat and wanted to end the life of this child. He had everyone on the lookout.

The scholars entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshipped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. In a dream they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country. {Matthew 2:11-12 MSG}

After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.” Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. {Matthew 2:13-14}

Herod, when he realized that the scholars had tricked him, flew into a rage. He commanded the murder of every little boy two years old and under who lived in Bethlehem and its surrounding hills. {Matthew 2:16}

Later, when Herod died, God’s angel appeared in a dream to Joesph in Egypt: Up, take the child and his mother and return to Israel. All those out to murder the child are dead.” Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother, and reentered Israel. He was directed in yet another dream to go to the hills of Galilee and settled in Nazareth. {Matthew 2:19}

Thankfully, Joseph listened intently to the angels as they gave him clear directions in the dreams he was given. He could have chosen to ignore those dreams, and the outcome could have been totally altered. God’s plans and design were at work. The enemy wanted to end his life before it even began. This babies life was saved. The Savior of the world saved as an infant and would later sacrifice His life to save us all. For the sake of the world.

Silent Night, Holy Night, all is calm, all is bright…Mother and child… Holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace. Son of God love’s pure light. Radiant beams from thy holy face. With the dawn of redeeming grace. Jesus, Lord at thy birth.

Stir up dreams in the silence of the night Jesus. Dreams for the fathers.  May the fathers rise up to be bold and courageous. To choose life. Even though it may not always be easy. Hope and encouragement to be instilled within them. No longer to have the notion to push or demand the life of the innocent child to be put to death. They can be strong and supportive of the mother carrying the baby within her womb. Protection for the mother and baby.

Praying and believing for a shift in the atmosphere. For the fathers and spiritual fathers to rise up as encourager’s for the single mothers. To speak life, love and liberty. Just as the dreams were given to Joseph and the wise men two thousand years ago and they listened and obeyed and babies were saved. God may you give the men dreams of life. Significant dreams. To make wise choices. Speak to their hearts Jesus. Life that is breathed from you, may they guard as sacred and precious. Babies in safe keeping. Declaring Life. Grace covered moments.

I love this quote that a leader from our Embrace Grace Dads group posted:

When he speaks and you listen… God happens. There’s no mistaking the power that flows from Him, through you, to shatter chains, heal and make everything different. Praying for open hearts and open ears today as you walk in His light. We are on a mission, in a battle not of this world. I stand with you all in representing His love. Let’s change the world. In Jesus Name. # Jesus Stuff#Radical Obedience- Jonathan Boles

The Father himself loves you. He loves you because you loved me and believed that I came from God. John 16-27

Written by Salina Duffy

My Little Daisy

shutterstock_154346732I am 21 years old and a single mom of a little girl named Daisy. Daisy is one and a half and lives life with a smile on her face and joy in her heart. When I was 19, me and my
boyfriend at the time broke up due to me truly wanting to live life better and not the way we were. Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant and his only response was he wanted me to get rid of it. When I showed him the sonogram of the baby, he laid the money down for an abortion and walked out and never turned back. I spent my whole pregnancy trying to truly figure out “why me, ” etc. My pregnancy became very high risk. I fell down the stairs at 16 weeks, bleeding out a lot. At that point Daisy was ready to come and the doctors had to stop all labor – putting me on bed rest. At 29 weeks I was hospitalized and found out Daisy was very small inside me and 3 pounds under weight than what she should have been. Her heart rate was dropping and I was told the worst and prepared for a stillborn birth. But somehow Daisy pulled thru once again and we were able to go home. At 36 1/2 weeks I was in horrible pain and at a sonogram appointment. The doctors found she was no longer moving inside me, her heart rate dropped once again and my contractions shot up. My doctor admitted me and then began an emergency c-section. Not knowing if my baby girl was coming out alive or not I waited with tears down my face and when I finally heard her soft cry I somehow knew life was going to be just fine. This past year as a single mom has been long and tough at times. I work full-time to provide for all her needs living on our own. We don’t have much support and not much family who cares to care. We attend church on Sundays and Wednesday and have an amazing church family who walk this walk with us. Life can be tough having to be mom and dad and the good and the bad never knowing if what you’re doing is right, but we truly live life trusting fully in God for all our needs and capturing every moment of every breath that we take. I have days where I feel like super mom and days where I just wanna hide and cry but at the end of each day my baby girl’s kisses and hugs make this daily walk that much easier. The minute my daughter was born my life changed completely. The lonely nights grew warmer and all I could do was smile and want to show her to the world. For if all my life I failed I knew she was the one thing I did right. She has changed me so much and made me a better person. She has opened the eyes of my heart and made me a less selfish person. Not a day goes by that I don’t enjoy spending it with my princess for she is the happiness in my world. Life started over with her and I’m so blessed for what I’ve been given.

Written by Desiree Joyner

Mary had an Unplanned Pregnancy too …

maryandjosephI can’t help but think about Mary during this season leading up to Christmas.

Here we are sipping our hot cocoa, listening to Christmas music, going to the Nutcracker play, and just living in this dreamland of “Christmas”.

But the real Christmas must have been terrifying.

This is what Christmas was:

-An unplanned pregnancy

-A courageous teenage mother

-A father who chose adoption over abandonment

-Birth in a shack

-Homelessness

Yeah. Reality check..I know.

Sometimes I think many of us can get on the self-righteous bus during the holidays and talk about how we really know the true meaning of Christmas all while we swipe our credit cards spending a ridiculous amount of money on gifts and Starbucks and nonchalantly ignore the homeless beggar on the corner. (I’m not trying to say this like I haven’t done it, because I have…)

When in reality…it must have been the biggest most crucial battle for life in all of humanity.

I think about Mary and how glamorized her experiences have become.  Can we take a step back and consider her scenario today, in our culture.

Ok…first off, let’s start with: unplanned pregnancy. Boom. Immediate shame and nasty stares from random bystanders.

Second: teen mom.  Not just an unplanned pregnancy, but an unplanned pregnancy for a teenage girl who is unwed. Ouch. More judgment, not to mention public stoning in her time. Not just stoning, but stoning until death.

Third…unplanned pregnancy for a teen girl who is engaged to a man who is NOT the father of the baby. What?? For people who don’t believe in miracles…this one is hard to swallow without making some assumptions.

I don’t know how many of us can honestly say that we would look upon this young girl without a single judgmental thought. (I’m guilty too).  Especially if this girl has run off with this man who is not the father of her baby and is basically homeless for the first few years of her child’s life.

It’s actually really crazy when we think about Christmas this way and totally turns my world upside down.  How would we treat Mary if we KNEW she was carrying our Savior. How would we treat Joseph if we really KNEW exactly who he was? I would hope we would treat them with all the love in the world.

Now think about why we don’t treat all unwed, teen, pregnant mother’s with the same dignity, love, and respect.

Now think about why we don’t treat all homeless, out of work fathers with the same dignity, love, and respect.

Sure…ok, they’re not parenting Jesus Himself, but they are parenting irreplaceable, eternal, souls designed by God. I think that’s enough reason to love them just the same as we would love Mary and Joseph.  And you know what? I think Mary and Joseph would agree.

It really makes me think….I need to Love. More.

No one is perfect. And I’m not trying to give anyone a guilt trip I promise….

But, I really don’t think it was “just a coincidence” that God chose these circumstances to bring his Son into the world.  I think he was trying to tell us something about the dignity of life. ALL life. But it’s just a hunch.

Written by Raquel Kato – you can follow Raquel’s pro-life blog here: raquelrkato.wordpress.com