Tired of Waiting?

shutterstock_114300748Some things in life don’t come so easy: the right job, the right place to live, children when you are ready, and even the right person to be with.  Waiting is not easy, but it is necessary.  Sometimes we can jump the gun and end up getting ourselves into a world of hurt because we find out later that we made the wrong decision.  In my own personal long waiting period, I have found contentment and I have found angst, I have found hope and faith, and I have dealt with doubt and disbelief.  Isaiah 64:4 says: “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”  I have learned through all of this that I have changed tremendously in the last several years, and that I still have room to grow.  I am learning how to deal with things in my personal luggage that need to be tossed out so that when I move into a new season in my life, I don’t bog down the season with unnecessary weight.

Although waiting is hard, if you can hold on and hold out, it will be so worth it in the end!  God is faithful my friend…and if you just open your eyes wide enough to see what He is doing, your faith can be ignited to hold on just a little bit longer.  It is not the mountain that you need to be looking at, it is the One who moves mountains that you need to keep your eyes on.

Even saying that, I know times can get hard and we have moments where we feel we just cannot go on any longer!  I recently had a moment just like this and I was able to pour my heart out on paper, which I want to share.  Maybe it will encourage you if you are in a long season of waiting too.  And just remember, HAVE FAITH IN THE WAIT!

I know that You are for me
It seems that I am not for myself
The thoughts I fight with negative at best
Destructive at the worst
Trusting in You is not so easy to do
When trusting is not so easy
Gullible and naïve, I believe the best of these
But Your word is hard for me to come by
Settle it deep in my heart
So in these times when believing is hard
I’ll remember that Your plans for me are pure
Your word will accomplish what it says
Your love for me is strong, Your will for me is sure

Capture my heart, Lord,  keep it safe
Let me not give it away until the day You say it is ok
I am weak from waiting, and my heart is weary
Don’t wait too much longer Lord, please come and fulfill me
My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak
Bolster my faith and hold me tight, make me complete…

Written by Jamie Stapleton

Close To You

shutterstock_140065837I caught a glimpse of her as she passed the aisle in Sam’s club. Instinctively I knew she was pregnant, without even seeing her up close. She began walking towards me. Her mom was pushing a buggy, and I began looking towards her young daughter’s tummy. She wore a cute Jesus>Religion t-shirt and when she began to get a little closer, I could see her tiny bump. So cute!

She looked about 16 years old and I just had to reach out to her. I began by casually saying you are so precious. When are you due? She said May 7th. I said you are so beautiful and glowing! Is it a boy or girl? I glanced down at her hand and saw a ring on her finger. Her Mom began to thank me so much for approaching them and she said it was the first time anyone had come up to her in public to ask about her pregnancy. She looked so surprised and thankful that I had taken time to talk with them. I expressed that I have such a heart for mommies and babies, and I just can’t help but share it.

As I walked away, something stirred within my heart. I began to wonder about so many other girls that are pregnant and just waiting, hoping, praying someone will approach them and ask them about their pregnancy. Someone to be excited with them. Someone to celebrate with them. Someone they can talk to, relate to, express life with.

I also began thinking of my own mom in her teen pregnancy and how she may have felt. I asked if she would share her heart about her pregnancy with me. Some of the emotions and feelings that she could express and recall.

Psalm 139 portrays such love. Look at the excerpts from this chapter of life within the womb.

God investigate my life, get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you. Even from a distance you know what I’m thinking. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I thank you High God- you’re breathtaking! I worship in adoration- what a creation! Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth, all the stages of my life were spread out before you. The days of my life, all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts- how rare. How beautiful!

My Mother’s Story ~her pregnancy with me

I was married at an early age of 15. All I ever wanted was a baby to love. I wanted to be pregnant so badly. I kept trying & trying and each and would be saddened when I realized another month had gone by, and still no baby.

Months later, I expressed to my cousins that I thought I was pregnant. They said there was no way I could be, they said I was way too young. I was 16 years old. I took a home pregnancy test and it showed positive!! I was so happy! I wanted to be so healthy carrying you. Before my 1st Dr visit, I remember drinking a whole quart of orange juice hoping to get great results. The nurses said I had flushed out my system and the test came back negative at first and I did not appear to be pregnant. I kept telling them I felt sick, and I just knew that I was pregnant with you. I just had to wait, and hold on to the feelings I had inside.

The next visit showed a positive pregnancy! My heart was so happy!  When the Dr. came in and told me I was pregnant, I loved you from the start. When you were growing inside me, I loved you deeply and held onto the sweet tiny flutters and feeling you moving all around.

God told me I was supposed to be a mommy. A sweet connection that will always be close to my heart. Even though I was so young, I would protect you from anything and everything. I delivered you on my 17th birthday. You were the sweetest gift a mommy could receive. I would hold you close to my heart. Memories I will cherish forever.

I sang a song over you when you were in my womb…Close to you by Karen Carpenter. It was a sweet song that your Dad and I shared together as newlyweds. I would rub my tummy and sing the words to this song over and over again to you:

Why do birds suddenly appear, ev’ry time you are near?
Just like me, they long to be close to you.
Why do stars fall down from the sky, ev’ry time you walk by?
Just like me, they long to be close to you.

On the day that you were born the angels got together.
And decided to create a dream come true.
So, they sprinkled moon dust in your hair of gold,
And star-light in your eyes of blue.
Just like me, they long to be close to you…

The love between a mother and her child. So precious. So pure. Especially to see that love unfold and blossom even greater when her daughter grows up and is pregnant and becomes a mother.  A new life within her daughters womb is carrying a grandbaby for her to love. A baby to hold so close in a sweet embrace.

Close to you, I believe inspired the love of nature in my heart while I was in the womb. I am a nature lover at heart. Today I was outside, and two redbirds appeared in my trees in front of my home. I smiled and whispered thank you.

I was listening to my new cd by Gateway Worship. As the words began to play, my heart melted. There were 2 songs… Close to you and Bring my heart close to you.. they were back to back and sweet tears fell down my cheeks as I listened and worshipped along as I was driving in my car. May your heart be drawn close to God our Father’s heart as you embrace this season you are walking in. Maybe a new pregnancy, a new grandbaby on the way, or a dream just waiting to come to fruition. May you be able hold your baby or dream close to your heart  and hear sweet whispers over you.

You are loved. You are treasured. You are blessed beyond measure. Your life, your babies life, the closeness you can share together. So precious. So sweet. So full of LOVE!

Written by Salina Duffy

 

 

Magdalene Me

shutterstock_72264274This evening after we ate dinner and swam in our little pool from a box, the 3 year old slept on the couch while I played with the baby on the floor.  I watched him throw a ball in the air and clap his hands with excitement.  He did this several times before he eventually became bored with me and crawled away.  I stayed sitting in my cross legged position on the floor, staring at a piece of carpet while my thoughts drifted far off. I’m not sure why my mind goes in the direction it does sometimes but this time it took me to my past.  My memory took a left turn down a road of shame and regret.  Pictures and sounds forced their way to the front of my brain.  I squeezed my eyes tight hoping I could squeeze the memory away.  But, my mind replayed things I’d rather forget and I thought to myself, “How can I be forgiven for that?” 

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. Psalm 139:1-2

I like to think that I’ve never done anything that I wouldn’t mind telling my Granna about. But the truth is, just like everyone else, I needed a Savior.  I may have needed a Savior more than your average person.  Things got a little hairy there for a while.  But, my Father knew me before I was born.  He knew I would get into messy situations and that’s why He gave me Jesus.  He knew that without Jesus I wouldn’t be able to turn my face to His.  Without Jesus I wouldn’t have the assurance of eternity with my Father in heaven.  Without Jesus and His promises of new life I wouldn’t have been snatched up by my hair and plopped into the way everlasting.

He also knew that one day I would be sitting on my living room floor shaking my head and squeezing my eyes.  Trying to forget.  He knew that in that moment for a split second I would wonder if a Holy God could love a girl with a past like mine.  He knew that I would need my memory to take a right turn to His Word and pull this from my bruised and beaten heart:

At dawn he (Jesus) appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. 
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said. 
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

I remember 5 year old me, sitting in the little plastic blue chair in Sunday school, listening to my Sunday School teacher tell this story.  My little legs dangled back and forth as I tried to understand what the woman could have done that was bad enough to be killed.  But, when we got to the end of the story it didn’t matter what she had done.

Jesus was the point of the story.  Jesus is the point of mine.

Written by Crissy Terrell

Do you wear an “A” on your chest?

shutterstock_144329092Do you wear an “A” on your chest? Which letter “A” do you wear? The scarlet letter “A” of adultery, or the golden, shimmering “A” of God’s Anointed?
For the longest time, I literally felt like I had a scarlet “A” on my chest. I felt like I wore a big sign visible to the world that communicated my sin. I had had sex outside of marriage AND had gotten myself pregnant AND remained unmarried. I felt the peering of eyes when just my son and I would enter the room. I often felt like eyes were searching me for a wedding ring and shame consumed me because there was none there.
Funny, the place I remember feeling this the most was at church. And unfortunately, that message came to me loud and clear from my own, very religious family. I had let down my parents and according to them, I had let down God. What a lie!
But how would I know any different if that’s the message I heard from those around me? How could I stop the recording that was playing that message in my mind over and over again?
Thank God He doesn’t leave us to live in the lie. He will use the Holy Spirit and get the truth through to you somehow. It is up to us to receive that truth, believe it and let it be real in our hearts.
Thank God He places lovely people or friends (like Embrace Grace!) in our lives to deliver to us that message of truth. I pray this message gets through to YOU…the truth is, you are forgiven. You are anointed. You are His chosen. You shine with His wonderful anointing.
One of the meanings of the word “anointed” means “chosen.” And that’s the truth whether you believe it in your heart right now or whether you feel like it. God has chosen you for great things.
To start with, He has chosen you to raise this child or children. You have the power to lay the foundation for how they see themselves. You never know what God has chosen your children to do in the future. God has chosen you and your children to touch other lives. God has chosen you to stand tall, healed, delivered, set free and victorious.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (ESV), “Now he that established us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God; who also sealed us, and gave us the guarantee of the Spirit in our hearts.
Don’t wear the scarlet letter of shame. That is a lie. God is NOT ashamed of you. He loves you. He is proud of you. Jesus paid the price for our mistakes and our mess ups. The choices you’ve made are no surprise to Him! There is nothing you could have done or could do in the future to make Him not love you. He lays before you the path to freedom and healing and forgiveness…even forgiveness of yourself!
Make up your mind now NOT to believe the lies and the voices of those who may speak of you in shame or see you in shame. That’s NOT the truth. Pray for those people. Once you see yourself differently in Christ, in time, they will see the difference too….and someday, they may even be proud of you too. BUT even if the people around you who are agreeing with the lie of shame never see you differently, that’s their problem. Their eyes are cloaked in a lie.
You ARE anointed, set apart and chosen for God’s great works. Let Him do great things in your life and with your family. Let God’s golden, shimmering anointing flow over you and out of you in your household. The world and the people around you won’t be able to help but notice the difference in you when you do! Let the joy and peace of God reign in the freedom He has given you.
Go out there and BE His anointed. Be who He has created you to be. Wear His golden “A” proudly on your chest!

Written by Lisa Ort Terry

Poetry in Bloom

shutterstock_154734893The look upon their face says it all, even before a single word is spoken. The young girls begin walking through the door wondering which chair to place themselves and the child within their womb or snuggled so softly in their arms.

We celebrated our newest semester last week. Our 12th semester of Embrace Grace at the Southlake location; where this birthing originally took place. We had 12 beautiful single and pregnant girls arrive and each seemed ready to know more about us and what they would experience this semester.

Amy begins to share what the semester will unfold, including the BIG baby shower and special day. She shares her personal Bump in Life story and all eyes are fully engaged and intently listening as she recalls the moments leading up to her brave decision of choosing life. The girls are encouraged as they hear about the life of this child that is now a teenager.  He is a life-giver and will be a speaker for the nations. He has an anointing on his life that will make an impact on generations!

Ashley begins to share her personal story of her pregnancy and how she made the courageous choice to place her baby for adoption. She received confirmation upon confirmation that the plans were for this baby to be placed with the most loving, caring and nurturing parents. The birth mom and adoptive mom even had the same baby name picked out. How precious is that! Ashley had a few tears as she recalled the moments of her pregnancy and the beautiful adoption ceremony as she placed her sweet baby into the arms of another mother to love and care for him. They are able to have an open adoption and she has many precious connections shared with this baby and family. She also recently had another little boy and celebrating his first birthday next month.

Crissy began to share her Embrace Grace story. She shared of her redemption and how God fully redeemed all that was lost. Laughter flowed in the room as she told of her salvation stories and so much more. She has 2 sweet boys and an adorable new baby girl named Ruby Joy.

Each of these stories revealed pieces of the leaders hearts. Tiny glimpses and rays of hope for these new girls to cling to. Words of encouragement. Strength. Bravery.  Their countenance begins to lighten up and you can feel them begin to exhale all their “what if’s &  scenarios” and allow themselves to breathe fully and just relax. With each passing week, they will learn more of God’s grace. His words are like poetry etched upon their hearts.

Words on a page. Words in your heart. Melodies in the nature around us. Expressions of letters written upon the lives of others. Poetry in motion. Poetry is living, breathing, echoing throughout our days.

As a young girl I would frequently rhyme and produce silly sayings with my little sisters. They would laugh in the cutest of ways and say why do you always have to rhyme? It came natural as the words would just flow from my lips. No effort or thought process needed. They may not have always made sense, but they rhymed nonetheless. Silliness in the best of ways. I would casually say, hey, I’m a poet and didn’t know it.

After a while, those rhymes stopped flowing. I began to grow into my teenage years and became too occupied with teen stuff and let those childhood rhymes pass swiftly by me. I didn’t have time to focus on them as much. Maybe I was not intentional enough and did not apply the gift to the best of my ability, so it was placed upon a shelf for another time. A time when I was older maybe.

That gift has been resurfacing the past few days. I visited a few lovely parks and gardens and then browsed through a flower shop. A sign above the vast array of beautiful flowers read ~ Poetry in Bloom. My heart skipped a beat and thought, oh that is a beautiful title for a blog post. Unaware of what was about to unfold and resurface from deep within me. A well of clogged up rhymes, words and poems. Just waiting to come up. They have been held silent for a time, and they say long enough. Let us out. Let us be heard.

Just let it flow. Words upon your heart. Spilling into the hearts of others. No rhyme, no reason, but love. Sweet love. Etching upon their hearts in beautiful ways. Just as flowers. Budding, Blossoming, Blooming. Babies are poetry in bloom. Their lives will speak upon your heart. Listen to their sweet and soft sounds.

Babies~ Poetry in Bloom~
Life within the womb holds treasures and measures of love beyond words.
Melodies sung by the mommies are as sweetly as the birds.
The love of a mommy for her baby begins to grow at conception.
She nurtures, protects and cares with a mother’s intuition.
Knowing that she will need guidance and wisdom
throughout all the days in this kingdom.
She searches for truth to answers unknown.
She finds the answers in a Book very well-known.
The Bible- God’s Word- Her source, Her defense
throughout the pages she can always sense.
His Presence is near and dear to her heart.
She knows without Him she will not part.
He loved her from the beginning of time.
His love everlasting, an unending rhyme.
She learns about hope, love and grace
She then can sweetly embrace
This precious gift given her from above
A baby so fresh from heaven to love.

Beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem…for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet….Gracious words stream from your lips. God himself has blessed you forever. {Psalm 45:1-2}

Written by Salina Duffy

An Adoption Story

shutterstock_79601152Cuddling during a movie, reading books together, drawing silly pictures for him to color… these are just the few things I love to do with my three-year old son. These are things that I never thought was possible at times and as I reflect to write this I am still amazed that I have the opportunity to do these things with him as his mom.
My husband and I were lucky enough to start our family through open adoption. Adoption is a journey, with many ups and downs. Many times during this road, we thought that maybe we would never be parents until the day that his birth mother called us. She found us through a website that we placed our adoptive parent profile on. We were the only family she called. I knew that it was meant to be once she told me her name, Kylie. From the moment my husband and I started dating we knew that we were to marry and if we had a son, we would name him Kyle. I got chills when she told me her name because of the similarity to the name that we had so loved, Kyle. We knew we had met our miracle. We were fortunate enough to have a wonderful relationship with her and her family throughout the pregnancy and ever since. Our son, even though he is so young knows all about her and we exchange pictures with her and her family. We are hopeful that one day we can meet again in person. We think of her daily and thank her for the opportunity to become parents. If it were not for her, I would not have our cuddles, I would not have our book time, and I would not hear the laughter of my child when I am silly.

We always thought that we would attempt a second adoption and after Kyle was about one and a half years old we started the process again. This time around it has been a very different experience. We don’t have an agency working for us and I spend my evenings after Kyle goes to sleep trying to reach out to spread our profile on the internet. Our hope, well, it is to find another Kylie, although I am not sure if that is what God’s plan for us. We would love to meet someone who is expecting and considering an adoption plan. Sometimes thoughts from our first adoption creep up. The biggest one is ‘why someone would choose us when there are so many beautiful families to choose from.’ But we put aside our thoughts of not having a second child and keep hoping that someday we can become parents again.

106I write this story not only to share how wonderful adoption has been for our family but to also let others know that we would love to adopt again. I spread our story on Facebook, websites, and through blogs but I have also heard word of mouth is very powerful so hoping one day that is the way our son or daughter may find us. To learn more about us or share our ‘hope to adopt’ story please call or visit us at toll-free at 1-888-620-2025, email angandmatt@live.com or our website: https://www.adoptimist.com/angela-matt

Written by Angela Bernier

*Embrace Grace is a 3rd party sharing this story – all background checks and verifications need to be conducted by an attorney or adoption agency.

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Confirmation in God Moments

shutterstock_78410323Have you ever had a moment of doubt in a big decision? Ever question if something good in front of you, is just chance or in God’s plan? I’ve struggled with faith for a long time. A month or so ago, I recommitted my heart to Jesus after an Apples of Gold class. And I actively made the decision to make the effort to be still and listen to God. Shortly after making this huge step, a job opportunity presented itself to me. And I questioned it.

Was this God giving me an answer to a prayer I’ve asked so many times over the last few months? Or is this a test? What if this part time job for the holidays, leaves me jobless in January? Do I risk leaving my current fulltime job where I’m miserable for a POSSIBLE job that I’m not even sure I’ll be good at?

The Sunday after interviewing for this new job, we went to church. And Pastor Robert’s message that week was entitled “Breaking the Snare of Fear.” And let me just say the tears were abundant during the service. And I went to the altar to be prayed over. I just needed confirmation on if this job was by God’s choice or a test to stay faithful in the job I already had.

As the couple was praying over me, the mans voice totally changed and instead of going the direction in prayer he had started I heard God’s voice say: “have peace, this is my gift to you for your obedience. Have faith I will not see you fail.” And then the guy’s voice changed back and he continued where he originally was.

WOW! The confirmation I needed. The next day I got called and was scheduled to meet with my soon to be new manager. While I was waiting to speak with her, I checked my daily verse application. My verse this day was, “For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

This is my new favorite verse. I felt so uplifted. And guess what? I GOT THE JOB!
I put aside my doubts about what is going to happen after the holidays. I know I’m where I need to be. I have faith that God has a plan. Whether it’s me staying at Jared (what woman wouldnt want to work in a jewelry store?) Or if another even better job around the corner. God has my best interest in mind.

So I challenge you. Is there an area in life that your struggling with a choice? Maybe its a job, baby daddy or husband/boyfriend drama? Maybe even reaching out to that one family member that’s struggling? Just take a moment and listen to God. I know how hard that leap of faith can be. But you will get little “God moments” where he will reassure you. I get them daily. And I have no fear, and I trust in God. I encourage you to take this leap of faith and see where God takes you!

Written by Brittany White