I love you more

Tree Silhouette Against Starry Night Sky

Have you ever been desperate to hear from God? That’s where I found myself last night at Gateway’s habitation service. Desperate to just feel God’s presence and hear him speak to me, I worshiped with abandonment. Worship has always been one of my favorite times with the Lord and this night was no different. 

If you’ve ever attended a church service there were probably words to songs on a screen for everyone to follow along with. Every now and then there are pictures as well. While worship was sailing along I glanced up at the screen and saw space. A countless amount of stars were floating on black space. Softly I heard, “Olivia do you see all of those stars? I love you more than that.” I was taken back by the thought because see as much as I wanted to hear from God I can honestly say I didn’t expect to. I just kept staring the screen as I heard,”Can you count how many stars are in the sky? It’s a number that doesn’t even exist… I love you more than that.” I just began to cry as I continued to feel God’s love for me. The last thing I heard was, “Like stars burn and shine, my love for you is a fiery passionate love, but the difference between my love for you and the stars is that my love for you will never burn out.” As you can imagine I was a mess and also overjoyed. I felt God’s tangible love all around me. 

It’s hard to believe that a holy God could love a sinner like me but he does. See it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been. God loves you with the purest of loves. He died to show you that love and he’s just waiting for the moment when you realize what you mean to him. As humans we can be so tough on ourselves but God is saying hey, forget all that just come spend time with me. I’ll show you what true love is. 

My encouragement to anyone who may read this is to remember that God loves you. That romantic, sweep you off your feet love is real in Jesus. Run to him and let him show you his love. 

Romans 8:38-39  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-Olivia 

Spark

shutterstock_157339613A tiny spark. It’s all it takes to start a fire. To ignite a passion. A desire. A fire within that begins to spread rapidly. Others begin to catch wind of it. They can see it, smell it, sense it, and begin to get fired up about it too. They are compelled to know more about it. To find out where it began, how it started, how it is spreading and creating a movement.

Amy and I were in a meeting today with some amazing women and making preparation for upcoming events. The word on my heart this morning as I awoke was spark. I mentioned it to her and she said hey, I’m drinking a spark right now! Coincidence? Think not. Also on a previous phone conversation this morning with our COO, Eric, he mentioned that Amy was the “spark plug” that will ignite the hearts as others hear the vision. Once people, churches, pregnancy centers and beyond begin hearing more about Embrace Grace… something will be ignited.

Something inside me leapt at that moment. It was a prophetic word being spoken.

This may sound silly, but I am going to share this anyways… Since I am a very visual gal, I could already see myself going to an auto shop and purchasing a spark plug, placing in a cute gift bag with pretty tissue paper and handing it to Amy.. oops, sorry Amy I just spoiled the surprise I am brining you. Anyways, I am going to get that gift for her as a symbol that as she goes out and speaks, opens her mouth and shares about the heart of Embrace Grace, the vision and mission, how to be involved and so much more. The passions and hearts begin to get stirred up and fired up. Helping others learn how to begin reaching out and touching the “ONE”: the mommies and babies that need the love and grace of Jesus. Multiplying this over and over again. We are the hands and feet of Jesus and it just takes a little spark to spread and catch fire and sweep across the land.

A spark plug delivers an electric current, a surge, a spark of energy to ignite the compressed air within an engine. They are also sometimes referred as flame igniters. Whoa! Are you catching this? As a spark plug helps the engine to be ignited for a vehicle, a spark within the body can also transpire and create a surge and energy that can spread rapidly. We can see a symbolism surfacing here.

When reading online on auto.howstuffworks.com a comment is made that simplifies and makes it easy to understand and grasp. A spark plug is quite simple in theory: It forces electricity to arc across a gap, just like a bolt of lightning. The top of the spark plug is a connector. The correlation is simply beautiful. Yes I know relating a spark plug as something beautiful may sound crazy. But it truly is. Amy is such an amazing connector, a bridge in the gap, bridging people and making connections in the most profound and prolific way. I am getting pumped up just thinking about the synergy and surges that are about to spread.

She has this electric current, this energy inside of her that ignites something deep within. Others are naturally drawn to her. It’s beautiful and life giving and brings a synergy and spark that is invigorating and so alive. When you are around her, you just catch it. I love these moments! Sweet things are happening.

A leader from Embrace Grace had a vision of these tiny fires that were beginning in a small area in Southlake and began to spread like wildfire. She saw Embrace Grace as the movement being made as these tiny fires are beginning to be lit and spreading around the nation. It’s electrifying!! Stay tuned for more of the good stuff that is to come.

Salina Duffy

Begin Again

shutterstock_149210354Sometimes you really need a fresh start, a do-over. We humans can bomb this thing called life pretty badly, and then try to cover it up so that no one smells the stink. We smell the stink though, and it causes us to change the way we view ourselves and the way we think our Father views us. And then condemnation creeps in, telling us that we are just too far messed up now and if we are not careful, we will waste precious time wallowing in a place that we were never meant to be.

Romans 8:1 says that “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” After a particularly bad failure on my part one weekend, I was having a hard time maintaining my composure as the lyrics of worship songs saturated me in the love of my Father. I wanted to condemn myself, I wanted HIM to condemn me. Instead, He loved me. Wholly. Two very distinct things He spoke to me during that time. The first was that nothing would ever separate His love from me, and the second was that even Kings, when they fall, are still Kings.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:38

The last several years have been very trying and I feel like I have messed up six different ways to Sunday, but what I feel resounding in my heart lately is to begin again. Start over, start fresh. For some, that just means waking up with a new outlook, a new perspective. For me it means that and more. It means recreating myself, redirecting myself, and allowing a lot more healing from deep within.

This may sound easy enough – beginning again.  Not so easy once the doors start to open and things start to shift. Beginning again requires courage, hard work and a willingness to go where you have never been before. It requires maybe dealing with some things that you thought you had already, and it will also reveal to you, well, you. My failure revealed to me that I was still dealing with some self-hatred. Even though I had grown and healed in leaps and bounds in my walk and in my relationship with the Lord, I was still struggling with some things that I really would not have been aware of otherwise. A friend said to me that things happen sometimes so that the root can be revealed. I truly believe the statements “there is purpose in the pain” and “God doesn’t waste a tear.” He doesn’t.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

In what way might Father be leading you to begin again today? Is there an area of your life that you feel needs a do-over? Give it all over to the God of restoration and allow Him room to make adjustments as He sees fit. We have the gift of getting to partner with God in all of His work, and you can be assured that what miracles He performs in your life you will be able to share with others. Don’t let the emotions of temporary failure and the condemnation of the enemy steal that away from you.

Jamie Stapleton

 

 

Keepsakes and Treasures

shutterstock_188837126Art. Pieces drawn, crafted, molded, or shaped by hand. Display of beauty in various ways. The tools used may be colors, paint, pens, paper, paintbrush, canvas, clay and tons more. Creativity at work. Inspiration and uniqueness in the expression of being you. Handmade designs.

I have keepsake boxes of my children’s artwork. Masterpieces created by tiny hands. They have added their own special flair and touches that make them beautiful. Tonight as I look at each box I am reflecting upon them. There is sweet beauty here. These boxes hold keepsakes and treasures that are close to my heart. I wouldn’t want to part with them. They are special and priceless beyond compare. Countless moments they spent in creating these pieces. If I had an art gallery they would be on display for the world to see. Even the tiniest details I would love to display.

As a mother, we love to share the beauty and creativity that our children portray. It is delivered and expressed in remarkable ways. We would raise it high on a banner so that everyone that passed by could get a glimpse of their giftings that God placed within them. Unique. Full of inspiration. Creativity and color. The words they say, the love they share, the uniqueness of who they are. A smile. A touch. A cuddle. A cry. You place those precious things in the pockets of your heart.

Are you aware that God has a display case and gallery of the art you have created?

As a child your drawings and handmade cards and special mementos you made for your parents and friends were designed and crafted. They were special to you because you made them with your own two hands. You handcrafted these pieces and wrapped them with care. Excited to see the look on their face when the art was revealed. They may have said ooohh and aahhh over what you handed them.

God loves to reveal the beauty that is within you. The delivery is unique and special for each and every one of us. Some may be creative in song, poetry, expressions from their heart. God delights in every expression that comes from you. You are His masterpiece. His artwork that He created, fashioned, molded and shaped to display to the world. He treasures you. He delights in you. You are lovely.

As you mother and hold your little ones in your womb or in your arms, art and beauty is beheld there. Expressions from your heart. Moments, keepsakes and treasures are captured in these special encounters. Priceless. Blessings beyond measure.

As I am writing this post I receive a message from an alumni bloom. An expression of art straight from her heart. I felt led to share with you. As an art gallery proudly displays their latest pieces, this beautifully handwritten piece is lovely. It speaks of a mothers heart. The little things.

Tonight I laid in bed thinking about all the things I’ve lost, all the little things that changed when Ella came about. And so I made a list of all the little things and here they are for you… Number one: I’ve lost my alone time. Every morning I wake up and there she is and when I go to sleep, I wouldn’t change a thing. Number 2: I’ve lost the feeling that I was useless, to my daughter I am everything and when she reaches for me I know I am here to be her caretaker. I wouldn’t change a thing. Number 3: I lost the awful relationship that was holding me back, my daughter opened my eyes to something I needed to step away from. I wouldn’t change a thing. Number 4: I lost the person I was becoming, the tired, lonely. Person I was. I wouldn’t change a thing. With my daughter I lost friends, a relationship, a teenage life, and I wouldn’t change a thing, everyday is a new miracle. Everyday she does something that makes my heart grow more than I ever thought was possible, and everyday she shows me that god is alive and walking in the miracle child he put into my life to give to me not take. So when people look, and whisper, and think that my baby, my love, my everything TOOK from me, that I LOST something, I hope they can see in my eyes that I was Found and saved through the hands of a tiny angel that delivered me to my Father. – written by alumni bloom Haley Driver

Written so beautifully. This is a treasure to my heart to read the words that she has expressed. She is a beautiful, caring, life-giving mommy that is full of love and adoration for her baby girl.

You precious reader are a Keepsake and a Treasure. Beauty beyond compare. You are a priceless work of art that has been crafted and designed. You are on display for the world to see. As the colors are added to your life in an array of beauty, may you reflect the heart of your Father in heaven. A brushstroke here, and there and everywhere. Leaving lasting impressions upon the hearts of the people around you.

With your very own hands you formed me; now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you. When they see me waiting, expecting your Word, those who fear you will take heart and be glad… Oh, love me- and right now!- hold me tight! Just the way you promised. Now comfort me so I can live, really live. Psalm 119:73-76

Written by Salina Duffy

Do It Afraid

shutterstock_192059996Fear. Faith. Fear. Faith. FEAR. FAITH! Like a chant I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Wanting to cry one second and hyperventilate the next. All the while knowing that I had to do it. Like an invisible rope pulling me forward, I knew that the decision I was making was the right decision. Albeit one of the hardest ones I have ever had to make.

Ever had one of those decisions? You dread it, try to talk God out of it, procrastinate, but in the end you know that it is the only way. And you are scared out of your mind. At this point, you could become paralyzed in your fear – going over every “what if” scenario known to man. Question if you really heard God? Maybe you should pray one more time, you might get a different answer. You call everyone you know just to see what they say about your current situation. And yet, still, you know.

Many years ago I heard Joyce Meyer say something I have never forgotten, “Do it afraid.” Some things in life do not come easy, or in cute little gift packages waiting to be opened. Some things in life are designed to challenge us and cause us to grow. Push us past the comfort zone, requiring use of feelings and thought processes we may not be familiar with – or not want to become familiar with.

Very recently I have had three separate issues going on at the same time, but all three teaching me the same lesson. I had a problem with taking ownership of things that were not mine to carry. I was causing undue anxiety on myself. This was a learned behavior mind you, but one that I had not clearly identified before until I had a very short conversation with a wise woman who called it on the carpet – quick. And it was like the sun shined down on this brain of mine and my eyes were opened. In my particular case, I was concerned with how people would act or respond to me in light of some things I needed to do in each situation. Fear. Each separate issue needed to be taken care of, and I was not being hurtful or uncaring to any individual in any way, but I still felt anxiety about how things would turn out.

Do it afraid. This has been my mantra the last week. Do it afraid. Do it afraid. This has actually been the year of “Do it afraid.” From ending an unhealthy friendship earlier in the year, to now changing my home address. I am having to do it afraid. There have been tears – many, many tears. But there has also been hope. A wind beneath my wings that I can’t quite describe to you.

Throughout this time, I have made it a point to keep my mind stayed on Jesus. For me, that means that no matter what, I have been including Him in my mental wanderings and have gotten down on my face and cried out to Him to keep me through anything and everything I was feeling. I have asked for Him to show me the truth, and to reveal things to me that I needed to know. I have spent time in His word and prayer and asked Him to give me strength and to keep me strong, constantly reminding myself that His grace is sufficient for me.

Doing it afraid does not mean you do it alone. Through this time God has strategically provided people who will pray with me, listen to me, encourage me – but most importantly, He has been there for me. Even last night, I was awoken with fears of what this new chapter of my life would be like and I was afraid. And instantly I felt peace, I felt Him wrap Himself around me and assure me that He would be there.

He will be there for you too. Do it afraid. If you are truly being led by God, you will be so glad you did.

Jamie Stapleton