Bless Your Heart

lovenukeHe launches His promises earthward- how swift and sure they come! Psalm 147:15 MSG

Every heart makes a lasting mark. A pathway that has been destined before the beginning of time. During an anointed worship service at Gateway a song Love Came Down began to play. I had a vision of these tiny pink heart fluttering like butterflies from the highest of heaven down to earth. They represented the hearts of the mommies and babies lives that would be impacted through Embrace Grace.

Those fluttering hearts also represented the Embrace Grace chapters that would be starting across the nation and going global. I knew the importance and significance of these hearts when they appeared before my eyes during worship. I was thankful for the heavenly encounter and knew that I would reflect upon this moment often.

Embrace Grace is saving two hearts at a time… The mommies and babies.

There is not a day that goes by that I am not in awe of the immense honor and thankfulness of this mission. I am brought to my knees time and time again and stirred to tears in love and adoration for the gift of these precious mommies and babies! Their lives leaving a lasting impression upon the hearts of those they meet, touch and interact with. It is only for a season they are with us, but the memories last a lifetime. The look in their eyes, the sweet embraces, the journey they are making into motherhood. They are BRAVE! They are STRONG! They are COURAGEOUS! It is priceless and beyond words. No price tag could ever compare to the gift that these mommies and babies bring to us at Embrace Grace.

Every one unique. One of a kind. Chosen Mom meets chosen child. The beauty that unfolds during the process as they begin to bond and fall in love with the babies in their womb and the Savior that blessed them with this precious miracle gift. Beauty and breath of life becoming one as baby takes their first breath into this world.

The miracle of life will always captivate my heart and leaves me speechless and moved beyond words. Compassion and comfort is always given with an abundance of love and grace. They can feel it. Both mommy and baby alike. Their hearts can feel the love flowing straight from your heart to theirs. Blessing their heart in ways they can not even begin to describe or even comprehend at times. They are enamored with the outpouring of grace that pours out freely upon them. A fountain that never runs dry. A river that never stops flowing. Forever. An endless supply. That is what they feel when they catch wind of Embrace Grace and what we are about. They are eager to know more, hungry for more, thirsty for the Living Water that flows from the Well of Jesus. We graciously pour it out by the vessels of hearts that are serving and ministering along with us. We can’t do this alone. It takes you and me. It takes us partnering together to touch the hearts and lives of those that need love and grace the most.

We have a chalk print map of the USA in our office displayed on our wall. We have been eager to portray the hearts of each and every EG across the nation. Today was the day! With the placement of each heart upon the city and states, prayers were being offered, thanksgiving was been given, expectancy for more hearts to flood the map and embrace these mommies and babies with your love. It’s YOUR LOVE that reaches them. It’s your embrace that draws them near. It’s His GRACE that touches their hearts and they will never be the same. Once they catch a glimpse of WHO HE is and WHAT HE did for them… the rest falls into place beautifully. Flawlessly. Effortlessly. We pray. He does the rest. We are the hands and feet. We reach out to them and point them to the ONE that matters most. He is our EVERYTHING. We will do anything to reach them. Will you join us in prayer? Praying for more EG chapters to begin popping up across the nation. It is all in God’s perfect timing. They have already been destined and divinely appointed. Hearts are being stirred with passion, compassion and the love of Jesus to begin a group in their area. We are believing for more and more hearts to be added to our map. These are the hearts that we added today: Your city, your heart could be next.

TEXAS: Southlake, Mansfield, Aurora, Fort Worth (2), Sherman, Denison, Denton (2), Plano, Waxahachie, Anna, Cisco, Forney, Arlington, Lubbock, Carrollton, Frisco

LOUISIANA: Keithville, Addis

ALABAMA: Birminghamphoto

ARKANSAS: Hardy, Conway

OKLAHOMA: Norman, Oklahoma City

NEW JERSEY: Hawthorne

ILLINOIS: Carbon

MICHIGAN: Saginaw, Plainwell

MINNESOTA: North Mankato

FLORIDA: Sanford, Gainesville

MONTANA: Bozeman

OHIO: Canton

VIRGINIA: Winchester

CANADA: Sarnia, Ontario, Toronto, Ontario

38 city hearts and counting… Our hearts are united. To reach out and embrace the mommies and babies everywhere. To shower with love upon their hearts. It is an honor to join with you in this mission. Saving the hearts of the mommies and babies.

Praying with you and for you. May God Bless Your Heart immensely! Mommy and baby heart that is looking & searching for a group near you… we are praying for you. Church group looking for something new that God is stirring in your heart to embrace and begin… we are praying for you. Pregnancy Center that is looking for a bridge in the gap to connect these precious girls coming to your center and looking for a place to connect them to local churches… we are praying for you. All hearts united as one. This mission is beautiful.

Written by Salina Duffy

God Made Me Stronger

shutterstock_112693924I never expected to be a  parent at this point in my life. I was career driven with a degree under my belt, and was working my way to the top of whichever path I chose. God, however,  had a different plan.

When I found myself completely alone and pregnant, I didn’t know where to turn. I didn’t know what to do. I had never believed abortion was the “right thing to do,” but I had never been faced with the decision. I had pressure from the biological father to “just get rid of it.” That would make sense, right? Seeing as he had a baby on the way already. Something within me said no. Something inside said to not give in.

I have never, and I mean NEVER prayed so hard in my life.

Everywhere and anyone I turned to, could not or would not help me. I lost close friends, and couldn’t yet tell my family.  I was uninsured, single, hormonal, alone, and very..oh so very..PREGNANT.  It seemed the more I looked, the more abortion became my only option. I prayed, “God I don’t think abortion is right, but what are my options!? I don’t know how to do this!” Screaming on my knees at times, asking, begging for an answer, I was hoping for a sign and a decision I could live with. On the fence with tears streaming down my face I cried for a sign, “God give me something! Tell me what to do!! Give me writing on the wall, anything, please!!” You know what? God gave me a billboard. YEAH, a billboard.

I called Real Choices and was relieved to hear they would see me. I remember crying there too; I cried the entire time, pouring out my heart. I was still considering abortion.

A woman was interning there and it was by divine intervention. With head in my hands she leaned in and with the most sincerity said, “You are so STRONG, and you CAN do this. God has a plan for you, and will help you.” She asked to stay in contact with me, and referred me to a support group “Embrace Grace.” She also prayed for me, again, and to this day those words changed my life.

I went on to get my first ultrasound. I was about six weeks pregnant. The technician asked if I wanted to hear the heart beat. Heart beat? Already?? It has a heart beat? Yes. Yes I do…

I bawled. Love rushed over me and I knew from that moment I would have that child and do my very best. I CAN do this. Her words replayed in my head, and I couldn’t stop crying. This was my answer. This was God speaking to me. This was my writing on the wall.

Even now I find myself asking God, “How am I supposed to do this?!” Being a parent is hard. Being a parent is very hard, alone. Most days I don’t feel like I’ve done a good job and pray I can give more tomorrow. I question why I’m doing this by myself, and wonder if I’m enough. I pray for a husband, and ask God “Why haven’t you sent him yet? Why am I alone?” Because even before I had Grayson, GOD MADE ME STRONGER. God knew the storm I was about to endure. He knew I would face adversities, so HE MADE ME STRONGER. He knew I would have to fall into Him to save myself and my child. He knew I would feel all alone; GOD MADE ME STRONGER.

“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.”
Jeremiah 29:11

So I continue on this journey. When I feel abandoned, I know I am never alone; He is with me. He gives me comfort, and has given me great joy.  God has surrounded me with a network of prayer warriors, and has provided every time I fall short. Even in my weakest moments, GOD MADE ME STRONGER.

written by Sarah Young, Embrace Grace Southlake bloom

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

Broken, Vulnerable, Restored

shutterstock_143606668I remember lying in that hospital bed, all by myself. My eyes were full of tears and my mind full of Satan. The father of my daughter grabbed my arms and pushed me, belly first, into his truck. Told me he didn’t want me anymore. Told me he didn’t want his daughter anymore. How was I supposed to raise a baby on my own? I knew that abortion wasn’t an option, but suicide was. If I just ended my life, all the pain and struggle would be gone. That night, while I was still at the hospital, Amy posted a status asking for people to pray for me. For me! People I didn’t even know were praying for me. A friend from high school sent me a screen shot of Amy’s status and asked if Amy could text me. I got a message from one of the most inspirational women I know. She told me that there were more options for girls like me! I could have my baby and raise her. She invited me to EG for the summer. I walked into Gateway, not knowing a single person. I was pregnant and scared. Amy welcomed me with open arms! That night Jackie spoke and told her story. I cried the whole way home. Shortly after the semester started my Joy was born! Her dad has yet to meet her, and I’m okay with that.

We had a night called “Chains night.” That night was one of the more emotional ones for me. I let go of Joy’s dad and all the hurt he has caused me. I forgave him for not only abandoning me, but his daughter as well. I know I couldn’t do that without EG or the grace of God. Embrace grace taught me that you can NEVER mess up so bad that God gives up on you! He never gives up on you. He never gave up on me!
The baby shower was another night where Joy and I were amazingly blessed! Michelle gave us many material gifts, but she also has been praying and gave me hope to be a good mom.

I finally have real friends! Friends that not only care about me, but understand! God knew what he was doing when he placed my particular group together. Most of the girls in my group went through their pregnancies without the fathers and we really connected on that level. I also met my best friend through EG! Being a mom without the dad is hard, but it would be near impossible without my friends, Embrace Grace, or wonderful leaders!

When I think of Embrace Grace the words broken and vulnerable come to mind. Both are good things! God had to bring me to a completely broken place to be built back up and brought back to Him. I had to be vulnerable to allow it! I am a mom of a beautiful 8 week old baby girl, she is my Joy. I fell in love not only with her through my pregnancy, but I fell in love with my Savior all over again! EG gave me the stepping-stones to get there. I am His, Joy is His. We are loved by so many women who have Christ shining through each of them!

Written by Bekah Saunders, EG Semester #11 

Let Them Laugh Out Loud

shutterstock_130778210The small child lay on a stained mattress on the floor of the clinic struggling to breathe. His disease wracked body fighting like a mighty warrior to survive the ravages of war. War should never be the territory of one so small and yet he is one of a countless multitude of an ongoing war.

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe in. Breathe out. Sweat pouring down his tiny brow and the relentless flies, ever-present, covering his beautiful face.

Sitting by his side is Momma Kate (as the locals call her) wiping his shattered body with a damp cloth. Her tears speak of a deep pain for the child. Her sweet heart is breaking for the injustice of it all. She speaks with a mother’s voice, “We need to do something! We can’t just sit here and watch the child die.”

Another voice speaks, “We can take him to a better clinic but it will cost money and we have no money.”  Her reply is forceful and drenched in words of unbelief, “We have money! Please we cannot just watch him die!”

After a short journey to a ‘better clinic’ baby Jonathan is receiving what little care the ‘better clinic’ can provide. It is not enough to save him. His tiny heart cannot overcome the ravages of the water-born disease and dehydration and he dies.

Go back in time with me a bit.

The year was 1980. My beautiful girlfriend and I were living together for various reasons. She was barely 21 and still in college. Working full-time, going to school full-time and trying to be in a relationship with me took every ounce of her energy. She never complained. She was laser focused on her dream to become a nurse.

We had just returned to our apartment after the funeral for my young sister-in-law and in our sorrow we made love.

A few short weeks later, as I worked at my desk, my girlfriend walked in to the office. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and the picture her face painted was one of impending ‘news’. She spoke the life changing words, “I’m pregnant.” My reply was something along the lines of “What? Are you sure? How?” (Seriously? Ken)

The fact that we had spoken of marriage and how we wanted to spend forever together didn’t change the fact that I had serious commitment issues. My ‘style’ had always been – if life gets too tough, if it feels uncomfortable, if you start to feel ‘trapped’ run away! Many of my friends called me ‘tumbleweed’, blown wherever the winds would take me.

Over the next few weeks we told our families. She made plans for our wedding and once again I struggled to be the man this beautiful lady needed and wanted. Some friends offered up solutions. “Just keep living together. Have you thought about abortion? It’s just a blob man.” Some, like my dad, spoke of, “doing the right thing.”

My girlfriend admitted that she too had considered “ the alternatives.” God, on the other hand, had a much different plan for this future human being. My girlfriend was watching an old movie on TV one night, The Ten Commandments.

She heard that still small voice saying, “Keep the baby. Even if your goofy boyfriend refuses to be a man. Even if you have to do this alone. Keep the baby.”

That night she told me of her plan to keep the baby and even if I walked away she would raise the baby. (My heart breaks as I type this thinking of how foolish, confused and immature I was to not realize that this woman was my dream for a wife. Beautiful. Hard working. In love with me! Carrying MY child.)

We married and later that year she gave birth to the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. I held her for the first time and wept as I looked into her beautiful little face. My thoughts ran the gamut, “Oh my how could I ever have thought such evil thoughts? How could anyone?”

We named her Kathleen. We liked the options she would have to be Kathy, Katie or Kate.

Fast forward to 2010. Inside a small clinic in Sierra Leone Africa with a little baby dying. His kateandgladysheartbroken momma had no choice but to give her baby the water from the pond. The same pond that the farm animals ‘do their business in.’ The same pond that the villagers wash their bodies and clothes in. Stinking, disease filled water! But what choice did she have? A slow death from dehydration or a slow death from unclean water were the only options available.

Sitting by the baby’s bedside is Kate! Grown up Kate. Beautiful Kate. Devoted Kate.  Mother to three children of her own Kate. She is wailing at the injustice of it all! What kind of choices did this baby’s momma have? Back home in the USA, we open the faucet and out pours clean, fresh, cool drinking water. Life saving water!

Kate’s mom and I have seen God redeem her mom’s courageous decision to keep this baby. I have repented a thousand times of my indecision, commitment issues and self-centered immaturity. God has forgiven me. My wife has forgiven me.

I weep as I type these words. Tears of joy that our Kate is here! Saving lives! Thousands of lives! I also weep tears of gratefulness to a God who has a plan. An incredible plan for each and every baby in its mommy’s womb.

We do not plan some babies. All are planned by God. We do not want some babies. All are wanted by God. Some babies are destined to change the world!

Keep your baby! God will, as He always has done and always will do, redeem the baby’s life! He will redeem your decision to do the right thing! Will it always be easy? I can assure you, it will not. Will you struggle at times? Absolutely! Will there be a cost to bear? Certainly. Yet your baby is worth it all! The world needs your baby. And if you listen with mommy ears you will hear your baby call out to your soul saying , “I love you mommy. Let me live.” I am beyond words to express what unimaginable gratitude I have to God for my Kate.

If you would like to see more of what Kate is doing visit the website of her not for profit. www.LTLOL.com. Let them Laugh Out Loud.

I pray that you will hear the voice inside of you telling you what you already know. It’s a baby! He/she wants to live! He/she may change the world! He /she will change your world and you will not regret your decision. God will redeem your decision.

Written by Kenneth E Metzger

Hard Talk

ImageThere are many times in our lives that we must have tough conversations with other people.  Sometimes having these uncomfortable awkward conversations with the people we love the most, can be the most chilling!  What I mean is, we try our best to avoid these conversations because we cringe at the thought of exposing truth that may hurt others.

In college I wandered away from the Lord.  I was trying to please my flesh, my girlfriend and what culture said I should be doing.  I was living it up!  My dad had put me in a sweet apartment near college, paid all my bills with the exception of spending money (for that I had to have a part time job), and paid for my books and tuition.  I really enjoyed the college life.  My girlfriend and I had been together for 6 years and loved each other very much.  We found out one day she was pregnant.  Amy had all of the symptoms and so we decided to buy a pregnancy test from the grocery store.  We came back to the apartment and it tested positive.  All of a sudden our world, my world, came crashing down around me.  All that I had was over. My dad was going to cut me off.  I would be homeless.  I wasn’t ready.  What in the world was I going to do?  I knew it was wrong. I really did. I told Amy there was a pill that she could take that would make it all go away.  That I would take care of the expenses but that she needed to do this, otherwise…my life was ruined.  On a Saturday morning I took Amy and my money to a facility that performed this procedure, handed them my money, and let them lead Amy back to a room to take care of our situation.  I sat and waited in the waiting room for what seemed like eternity and then she came out and said “we are still pregnant.” (You can discover the rest of the story in Amy’s book.)  What happened next was a whirlwind of emotions, tears, and all kinds of drama.  I was not being a man.  I was being a scared little boy who needed a kick in the ass!  She gave me the kick in the ass I needed.  She came to me one day and said, “Ryan…I love you.  I want to tell you something.  I am going to have this baby with or without you.  Ryan….trust me….someday…you will thank me.”

We got married and had our baby boy and named him Jess.  My dad did not cut me off. He helped me finish college and was very supportive.  I believed a lie and almost lost my beloved treasure – my son, my Jess.  Countless times throughout Jess’s life I have whispered “thank you” into Amy’s ear.

Amy had to have an uncomfortable conversation with me.  She had to abandon her love for me and do what was right – what was just – with or without me.  Thank God she did!  This leads me to what I wrote this about.  With Amy’s recent book release, A Bump In Life – True Stories of Hope and Courage During an Unplanned Pregnancy and her television appearances speaking about the book, I knew we were going to have to speak with our son Jess about our story.  I didn’t want him finding out by reading his mother’s book.  I also didn’t want him hearing about it on television.  We scheduled a visit with Jess without our other 3 children.  Amy, Jess and I went out to eat and we told him what I told you above.  For us…it was a tough conversation.  Thoughts like, “would he think we didn’t want him?” would enter my mind.  I also kept thinking I hope this doesn’t hurt his feelings.  I just wanted him to hear it from his mother and I before he heard it from someone else.  I wanted him to know we were wrong for going to the abortion clinic…that God saved his life and that he was a miracle!  Telling him this was the right thing to do.

After telling him our story and how close he came to not being here…he didn’t have much to say.  He said he knew we had gotten pregnant out of wed lock since he was in 6th grade.  I asked him how he knew this and he said, “I did the math dad…”  I laughed and still wonder why he never brought it up but I guess that would be awkward for him to bring up to us.  He didn’t have many questions and we had hyped ourselves up thinking he would.  He was a typical, quiet 14 year old young man.  Not much to say.  We explained to him that his story has inspired hundreds of people!  He is a miracle!  He said…”cool”.  Okay so I’m sure he really did think it was cool.  He was there, with us, eating cheesecake.  That IS pretty cool!

Let’s not fear uncomfortable conversations anymore.  Let’s be bold!  Let’s also be careful and sensitive to others feelings, but let’s not let the lies of the enemy keep us from doing what is right!  What is just!  Let’s STAND FIRM TODAY!  PS…Amy…THANK YOU!

– Written by Ryan Ford

Good Stuff in the Hard Stuff

I will never forget that day my life changed forever.

It was May 3rd, 2010. I was a senior in high school and was just a few weeks away from turning 18. I had prom, graduation, and my birthday to look forward to all in the same month … but little did I know my whole world was about to change.

My stomach dropped as I had the realization I was a few days late.

One day after school I went to Tom Thumb and got a pregnancy test … stole it actually. I didn’t have any money. I stuck it in my purse walked out and went home to take it. On the way to the bathroom I couldn’t stop telling myself there was no way I was pregnant, it just couldn’t happen.

I took the pregnancy test and closed my eyes.

When I opened them I had two pink stripes burning into my eyes. You have GOT to be kidding me. My emotions went numb. I felt like I should be crying or something, but I felt nothing. I was in complete shock. I had a baby growing inside of me and I couldn’t really see past my prom, graduation, and my birthday coming up much less 9 months down the road.

I had to tell Brad. Brad and I had been together for 2 1/2 years. He was 3 years older then me and a junior in college and although our relationship was rocky at times, he was my rock and my love. I pulled out my phone and texted him (he was working out so I knew he wouldn’t answer). I just took a pregnancy test and it came back positive The response was not a good one. It was one word and it wasn’t a good one. I called my best friend Krista. I needed someone to tell me everything was going to be ok.  She did exactly that for me but she also encouraged me to be brave and tell my parents.

It was an even more complicated situation because I had hid my relationship with Brad from my dad for 2 years. My dad never approved because of me and Brad’s age difference. My dad had an abusive history so I knew the reaction was not going to be good.

Every thought went through my head about what I could do to get out of this situation I found myself in. Brad just wasn’t wanting a baby. He was still finishing college and had just turned 21. He was partying a lot and this just wasn’t in the plans. He decided to call a few abortion clinics to see if we could get an abortion. Because I was 17 and not 18 yet, I couldn’t get one without a parent’s consent.

We were stuck.

I was extremely close with my mom. She was my best friend. I knew I could be brave enough to tell her and she wouldn’t freak out that bad. The next day, I texted my mom when I got to school and told her that I was late on my period. She texted back and said that it was okay she had been late too and she was sure I would start soon. I told her that I had never missed a period before though and I was nervous, she then sent me the worst text I would’ve ever expected to get from her. For your sake, you better hope you’re not pregnant. My mouth dropped. What was I going to do? How could I tell her now?

My mom was struggling with alcoholism at the time so I knew if she had a few drinks in her, she would be easier to talk to. That night, I took a deep breath and just blurted it out, “Mom, I still haven’t started and I’m getting really scared.” She reassured me again, “You are okay. I have $11 in my wallet. Go get a pregnancy test.” I got in the car and went up to Tom Thumb again and this time I actually bought one. I went straight for the bathroom and my mom followed me in. I took the pregnancy test already knowing what the result would be. My mom immediately took it from me, she stared at it and I was just waiting for her to yell at me. But she just looked at me with teary eyes and said, “Well, you’re pregnant baby cakes.” I will never forget those words.

Finally all of the emotion that I had been holding in ever since I found out, just came rushing out and I couldn’t stop crying. We hugged each other for a long time, and she told me whatever decision I made she would support me no matter what.

My best friend Krista called later that night and she convinced me to keep my baby.

That ended up being the best conversation I could’ve had with someone. I called Brad immediately after and told him I had decided to keep the baby. He was still not happy at all. My heart broke with his reaction. He said something that one day he would regret, “Look, I love you, but I DONT love what’s inside of you.”

I told him that he didn’t have to be apart of our life if he didn’t want to. I wouldn’t make him pay child support, he would never have to see me or the baby ever. All these tough words were flying out of my mouth but deep down my heart was broken. He snapped back and said, ” I WILL be a part of my child’s life.” My heart was still broken because I knew he wasn’t happy at all.

I went over to my mom and whispered in her ear that I was going to keep the baby, as my dad was on the phone across the table from her and I didn’t want him to hear. She said, “Okay but we have to tell your dad.” I said, “Okay but just not tonight.” I went inside and lay on my bed. I was realizing that I was actually feeling HAPPY. Yeah, I never planned for this to happen but once I had made the decision to carry this baby inside of me and be his or her mommy, I actually felt feelings of love and excitement!

I decided to go back outside to hang out with my mom and dad. I sit down and my mom immediately says, ” I told your dad.” I said, ” WHAT??” I immediately start to cry and looked into my dad’s eyes. He was hurt. He wasn’t saying a word. I finally broke the silence, “I’m sorry dad.” He yelled at me, “You lied to me!” and then slammed the door in my face.  He was beyond livid … and I was beyond scared.

After he finally calmed down, he said, “Whatever decision you and Brad make, he would support us but we needed to think about it because it was a life changing decision.”  … But I had already made my decision and I wasn’t going to change my mind.

We then told Brad’s parents and they took it a lot better. I could tell his mom was nervous and scared but she kept reassuring us that we would make it and be ok.

I was living with my parents and Brad had an apartment in Denton (he went to UNT) and his lease was about to be up. My parents decided that Brad could move in with us. My brother’s old room would be the baby’s room. I was so excited.

During the course of the pregnancy, our hearts started changing for the better. We knew we had to grow up fast. Brad started becoming more excited about being a dad and supporting me more. I started going to Embrace Grace and started to work on my relationship with God. I loved being surrounded by the girls that were all going through the same thing as me. The group was so amazing and I felt so lucky to be apart of it.

One night during class, was a night I’ll never forget because of what I learned.  Salina was talking and it was something along the lines of, “Your future spouse should be a Christian as well, so you enter the covenant of marriage as God first and in unity together.” I knew what she said made sense, but Brad was not a Christian. I’d talk about it with Brad from time to time, but I never forced it on him. I just thought that if it was going to happen, it would. Amy suggested I just bring him to church with me on a Sunday and see what happens. It seemed like a good idea but I just kept thinking that Brad would never go for it. I never brought it up even though I was worried about my future of being a Christian family. I loved Brad so much, I just prayed that it would happen.

Before I knew it, it was January 5th and I was on the way to the hospital to meet my beautiful baby girl. Everyone was so excited. I couldn’t wait to hold her! 10 hours went by and they wheeled me back for my c-section. Blakelee Nicole Davidson was born at 6:55 pm weighing 8lbs 10 1/2 oz.  My life was forever changed. So many precious memories of that moment but shortly after, bittersweet reality confronted me right there in the hospital room.

After everyone went home that night it was just me, Brad, and Blakelee. I was so excited to start this new life with my baby and my boyfriend. My dad started calling around 8 and the conversation was off and on until 1 am. He was drunk and NOT happy. He was upset that I had contacted my Grammie through facebook that I was not allowed to talk to due to some family drama. I had reached out to her when I found out I was pregnant because I had not spoken to her in years and wanted to tell her the news. He had gone home and gotten on my Facebook and saw the messages I had been sending to her.

I was confused, and upset. Why was he doing this to me the night I gave birth? I told him not to come to the hospital the next day. Everyone came to visit and I put on my happy face but inside I was hurting that I couldn’t enjoy this moment with my dad. Before we left the hospital, we got a call from my mom saying we should probably go stay with Brad’s parents for a little while because my dad was so furious with me. I didn’t understand why? He told my mom that Brad and I weren’t allowed back under his roof and that I was just an 18 year old girl who wore out her welcome. I was devastated. I was crying so hard I was breaking out into a sweat and could barely hold my baby girl. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was so emotionally drained. That was the last day I saw my dad for a long time.

My dad finally let us come back home to stay at the house but he was still so angry, he went to stay with his father. It was so hard. On one hand, I was so in love with my beautiful baby but on the other, I didn’t have my family fully to enjoy her with. I struggled with depression and confusion. It was a hard time.

Brad and I grew closer than ever and a few days before Valentine’s Day, he proposed to me. Things were starting to look up. He was my constant and my rock. I loved him so much and I had always loved him. He was there for me through this emotional time. I couldn’t imagine my life without him.

One night, Brad and I were sitting outside talking and enjoying each other’s company. Blakelee was asleep and we were just relaxing and loving the fresh air. In the middle of the conversation, he stopped and said out of nowhere, “Is it weird that I want to go to church?” I was blown away. I needed this and for him to want it completely on his own was amazing. I needed God so much in my life but I also felt like I needed Brad too – so to be able to do this together was a dream come true.

We went that Sunday and Brad fell in love with Pastor Robert at Gateway. His life changed forever that day as he gave his life to Jesus and accepted Him as his Lord and Savior.  Our whole lives changed. Even since then, we have had our ups and downs. With my brother leaving to go into the marines, and having to take my mom to rehab, and still not speaking to my father, life was hard and slowly stopped going to church again. I was struggling with depression and taking it out on people I cared about. But through it all, I knew God loved me and that He would take care of us and our family. I had hope for our future.

This year has had a lot of ups. Blakelee just turned 1! Brad and I got married on March 18th. We have our own home. I saw my dad on my birthday this year after 18 months of not speaking. We can never get back the time we lost but we have started over and fresh. My mom has been sober for almost a year. Brad and I have started going back to church. Everything is finally coming together for us. And the best news of all is that I found out on Fathers Day last month that we are expecting our 2nd child that will arrive in February!

God has great ways of working in your life if you will just let Him. My world was crumbling at my feet, but he picked up all the pieces and is making me a beautiful life. And for that I am forever grateful. He’s really starting to work through me, and it’s amazing. I can see with everything I have been through that I am a better person because of it. I had 2 choices, I could let my past form me into a person with grudges and “baggage” or I could learn from it and help other people in similar situations.

Oh and remember the part about Brad’s reaction about not loving what was inside of me? Well, he quickly realized how completely false that statement was. I have never seen a sweeter daddy/daughter relationship. Blakelee has Brad wrapped around her little finger. The first thing he does when he comes home is run and scoop her up and give her tons of kisses on her squishy cheeks. He is such a good dad. He is even hoping our new baby is a little girl because he wants one just like her. 

Sometimes in the hard stuff, there is good stuff too. You just gotta open your eyes to it. Without the hard stuff, I wouldn’t be me. Without the hard stuff, I wouldn’t have so much. Without the hard stuff, my life wouldn’t be so easy.

My hope in Jesus is bigger than any circumstances.

Written by Brooke Davidson, 20 years old.