Signs All Around Us

shutterstock_175011749When I was a little girl I remember traveling with my grandparents for summer vacations. We would drive for miles and miles before arriving to our destination. To occupy us for the long car rides, we would play many games to keep us entertained. ABC game was searching the billboards and road signs for letters of the alphabet. The license plate game was always fun in searching for letters or out of state plates to cross off my list.

I guess those early days inspired the signs and plates that seem to entertain me daily as I am driving. I am not necessarily searching for letters of the alphabets for the game, just words or phrases that seem to draw my attention. I keep a small notepad on my console to jot down phrases or plates that catch my eye. It is fun to look back at the daily collaboration of notes, messages, or signs that spoke to my heart. Even songs that I hear and the words that speak most I will jot down to reflect upon later.

Some license plates and their numbers will reveal a scripture for me to look up. Its a fun game to me as I hurry to look up what the scripture says. ie… RVL 041- Revelation 4:1 says Then I looked, and, oh!—a door open into Heaven…These little signs placed throughout my day speak life, give inspiration, and encouragement to pass on to others.

Yesterday seemed to have moments that personalized license plates were grabbing my attention in a small time frame. A little journey around town brought revelation and inspiration to my heart.

I pulled into a parking lot and laughed when I found a parking spot right next to a license plate that read X-HALE. I had no idea how much that little plate was going to speak to me in that hour. I began walking back to my car and the lady that owned the car began backing up… I held my hand up and motioned to her that I was taking a picture to remember her plate! She rolled her window down and said she is always telling her husband and son to exhale, breathe, let it out. Whatever is going on, it’s going to be ok. She said she knew if she ever had a personalized plate, that has always been her motto. I smiled and told her how much that spoke to me. I always share how it is so easy to inhale grace and exhale any cares, concerns, worries or fears. It is such a simple exercise, but brings lasting results!

The next personalized plate read MYBOYS – I smiled as I was reminded of my boys and how much joy they bring to our life!  I prayed for their protection as they are at school learning and interacting with their friends. Praying that their life can be a true reflection of Jesus and that others are naturally drawn to the light that they shine brightly for Him.

Driving down the same street I saw BLIEVE. I was impressed to press in and pray and believe for the promises that have been on my heart to come to pass. Dreams, small and grand, that are on my heart I began to believe for! I declared them as I was in the car. I approached  a familiar street named DreamMaker and pulled over for a little inspiration and the expressions of the dreams were written out in my journal. As the thoughts and impressions on my heart began to flow and seeing the words expressed brought joy to my heart. I had a little tube of heart bubbles and began to blow them in the wind. Also had a little jar of sparkly white glitter dust and began to throw it up in the air and believe for those promises. I believe for these miracles for the mommies and babies… I believe for____… I truly felt God smiling! His heart was for me. His heart is for YOU! I was reminded of this truth.

Proverbs 4:20-22 says Dear friend, listen well to my words; tune your ears to hear my voice. Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart! Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they’re bursting with health.

On the way to pick up my boys from school, a car that was parked on the side of the road caught my attention. When I came closer, I saw their personalized license plate read ILUVIT. My heart smiled as I thought about how much I say this very same thing! I love it! I love it! At that moment I felt a whisper in my heart… I luv it… I love the way you love me and how you express your heart to me. Simple, ordinary moments that draws yourself closer into my heart. You release your thoughts, prayers, requests, & love words to me and I love that about you. Now share it! So that others can be inspired to do the same in their own creative ways.

Your love language and life expressions are unique and carry your own creativeness. It is custom tailored to you and God. Express yourself to Him. In the simplest of ways, whatever gets you jived and excited… go there with God. Talk to Him. Express your heart to Him. He is listening and LOVES that about YOU!

So that brings me to my question for you. If you could have your own personalized license plate… what would it read? I would love to hear your responses!

Written by Salina Duffy

Were you born with a bloom in your tummy?

shutterstock_15274792I rolled up to pick up Logan in the car pool line… Just in time! His eyes met mine and he smiled expectantly. He opened the door and held his puppy valentine box he had handmade. His box was now full of sweet notes and cards from his classmates. He peeked in the front seat and saw his giant heart shaped cookie cake that said puppy love. He reached for his special build-a-bear box. Inside was a puppy that was stuffed and fluffed with lots of love along with a red heart that said one in a million. We drove and he excitedly told me about his daily adventures.

Then the question came… So mommy, how do babies get in tummies?

I paused and collected my thoughts. Said a prayer that God would give me the perfect words to say to my 6 year old little boy. I had been waiting for the right time to tell him about the birds and bees~flowers and trees. I began by saying that babies come from heaven. God’s creation of animals and humans were made to give life. You know how chicken’s lay eggs, birds and ducks have eggs. Penguins have eggs.

Then we drove past some horses and explained to him that horses have an egg inside of them. Horses lay eggs? No son, the mommy horse has an egg inside of her, and at the right time it will be fertilized by the daddy horse and she will have a baby colt. The same thing happens with a mommy dog. She has an egg inside of her and at the right time the mommy will have puppies. He smiled big since puppies have been his favorite animal recently.

Mommies also have eggs inside of them, in their womb. When the time is right, God will make a baby inside of her. The egg is fertilized by the daddy, by his sperm, and then a baby is made. His little mind was processing and I asked if he had any questions? He thought for a moment and then asked the sweetest thing…

So, were you born with a bloom in your tummy?

I smile and look back at him with so much love in my heart and say Oh, son, you just melted my heart! He replied, but Mommy I don’t even have any fire. I tell him sweetly… I love that you just called the womb~ a bloom!!! He says, Mommy, write that down and call Gran. She will like to hear all about this bloom inside tummies.

His heart is now happy and content with his questions answered. Now that he knows babies come from heaven to earth in mommies blooms (womb).

I love the simplicity and symbolism of this. A bloom holds within life, beauty, a sweet fragrance that fills the room. Creation. Life is all around us. The air that we breathe, the birds that sing, the precious babies that are born.

A womb is a place where something is conceived. A baby. A dream. A destiny. You were born with a bloom in your tummy. Embrace your bloom!

Written by Salina Duffy

Embraced by Love

shutterstock_142134379Embrace Love is a new one-on-one mentoring program that is beginning to blossom for our blooms and her baby. Sweetness and goodness by the spoon-fulls of love is dished out! Literally- lots of sugar and goodies are on the table to enjoy as the blooms and I connect hearts one on one and begin a love encounter with Jesus together.

The thoughts began to swirl in my mind of a loving connection and bond that could be shared between mommy & baby and her mentor. This could be the sweetest thing!

Our very first Embrace Love mentoring session was held at a delicious bakery in Colleyville. Too many sweets.. how can you just choose one! Beautiful mommy bloom with her baby girl so adorably dressed came walking in the door and sat down in the comfy booth beside me. I could not wait to get my hands around her sweet baby and love on her! We began sharing hearts and stories of favorite memories as a little girl. Her sweetest memories was when her Grandma would take her to a tea room in Grapevine and she remembers dressing up in princess dresses and enjoying tea parties and sweets. I thought it was the sweetest thing! It gave me an amazing thought for our next session together.

She also said her big dream now that she is a mommy and newlywed is to become a hairstylist and pursue her love of music. She has been playing guitar and loves to be creative in her music! I brought a small box of sweethearts and asked her to pick one heart from the box. The heart she chose read: U R A Star! She smiled the biggest smile and it was confirmation to her heart that what she is dreaming and desiring… really can come true! I told her she shines bright and she is a star in so many ways! To her daughter especially! She is so loving, nurturing, caring and giving to her precious baby girl. The love in her eyes sparkles and twinkles and lights up the room! She smiled so sweetly when she heard those little words. All it takes is a little love and encouragement to bring so much joy and happiness to these blooms hearts!

Our next Embrace Love session was set for us to meet at Let’s Pretend Tea Parties in Grapevine. Her Grandma was also invited to share in the celebration. They entered the room and her sweet baby had so much excitement. She is only 5 months old, but somehow she just knew this party was for her! Her very 1st tea party. I held her in my arms and she looked around the table. As she saw the tea cups her little arms were just squeezed up as tight as could be and sheer delight was in her face and she squealed and tightened up her little tummy like she knew it was time to party! Even though she is so tiny, her heart could sense the love all around her!

The expressions on her face was PRICELESS! Her mommy and great-grandma adoringly watched her excitement and captured the moments on their camera. It was a sight to remember and cherish forever! We sat around and enjoyed our tea time and cupcakes and she reminisced with her Grandma of all the special times they came to Let’s Pretend tea room and made special memories. Her Grandma had the sweetest tears falling down her cheeks as her granddaughter shared about their precious moments together and the love she has always shared.  3 sweet generations of God’s beautiful girls joined together around the table enjoying the moments. It was an honor to be a part and witness the love expressed in the room! We talked of love for each other, the love for her baby, the love of Jesus that is all over her. We listened to worship songs and the words of love began to flow. We wrote her little love notes for her to take with her and read when she moves next month to live on base with her new hubby.

The most joyous occasions. It was a winter wonderland in Grapevine. The snow was falling beautifully outside. Big snowflakes could be seen as we looked out the window… it seemed almost as if were in a movie while we were in  Let’s Pretend. Memories were being captured.  She began to plan her baby girls first birthday party at Lets Pretend Tea Parties in honor of the love that her Grandma had displayed for her as a little girl and as she has grown and blossomed into motherhood.

My heart was full of love and adoration. I held onto this precious baby girl and we looked at the adorable outfits on display. She melts my heart! Just as each and every baby that I come close to touches a sweet spot in my heart that words can not even express. In the womb, or in arms these babies are here for us to love! As the mommies and babies are Embraced by Love their hearts are forever being etched upon with the sweetest of words, tokens of love, kindness and expressions straight from the heart. I cherish these moments shared and look forward to so many more to come in the future!

Sending you my love! xoxo

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

Fields of Grace

girlinfieldI awoke early this morning with a song on my heart. The chorus kept replaying over and over.

Dancing with my Father God in Fields of Grace– by Big Daddy Weave. A recollection of a few months ago when the band came to perform live during an Awaken NOW Conference at Gateway Church began to unfold before me. I envisioned  Big Daddy Weave along with the band on stage singing that very same song and the crowd dancing joyfully and happily. We were awakened to a newness on the inside.

As the lyrics began to replay this morning; thoughts of flowers dancing gracefully in a field began to play vividly in my mind. Flowers of various shapes, colors, textures and designs. Fields upon fields of flowers. And then remarkably a couple hours later as I was driving and looked to my left, a green meadow filled with yellow and purple flowers were before me. I imagined standing in that very field and bending down to smell the sweet aroma of  flowers and to handpick some for a bouquet as a keepsake.

Different scenarios began to form and take shape and come to life. Scenarios being scenes that took place in my mind as I reflected upon the flowers and their symbolism.

The first instance was a promise my Mom has been given. The promise was made that she would be dancing as a little girl in a field of wildflowers. She is holding onto a promise that she will be pain free. It breaks my heart at times to see the pain that she endures daily. My Mom has been diagnosed with many different ailments, aches and pains associated with her arthritis and fibromyalgia.  It’s much harder for her to get around and have mobility like she was accustomed to having before the aches and pains arose. Some days she says she just wishes she could move and groove, and even dance happily without being in pain. I am standing, praying and believing with her. Her healing will come. I believe!

So the promise is received by faith. {Romans 4:16}

The second instance was for every Embrace Grace bloom. Alumni, current and future blooms that will encounter and experience fields of grace. We love to say that God handpicks each and every one of you just like flowers in a field. He captures and ever so gently picks the beauty, love and grace that is within you as His own bouquet to share with the world. He whispers sweet promises over you and straight to your heart. He tells you that it’s all going to be ok. There is nothing to fear when your Daddy is near. No matter what you are facing, no matter what comes your way… you are never, ever, ever alone. He chose you to be a mommy for this baby, at this time, out of all the other girls in the world. He chose you to bring life and love to your precious baby to nurture and protect. To welcome the daily joys of motherhood and all the loving encounters just waiting to be shared. If you are placing your baby with a sweet adoptive family please know that we honor you for your bravery and courage.  Adoption is one of the biggest sacrifices.

He makes a promise to you today. He is for YOU precious bloom!

The third instance was for you precious reader. Maybe you are waiting on a promise that was given to you to be fulfilled. I can see you among thousands of other flowers swaying in the wind and thoughts crossing your mind of… did I really hear that promise? Will it ever come true? I have been waiting on a healing touch or for a delivery of something I have been expecting for such a long time… how long must I wait? 

Patient endurance is what you need now…Then you will receive all that He has promised. {Hebrews 10:36}

Your Father God…Your Daddy is your Promise Maker and Promise Keeper. He longs to fulfill those promises that He has made with you. Maybe you heard a promise whispered in your ear a long time ago and you have thought that too much time has passed for that promise to ever come to pass. Maybe you think it was just too good to be true… Oh sweetheart, that’s when you know it’s going to be ABOVE and BEYOND what you could ever ask, dream or imagine!

He {She} was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises. {Romans 4:21}

So you may be wondering…

What does it look like to dance in fields of grace? 

The quote “dance like no one is watching” comes to mind at the moment. You are covered in grace. No matter where you have been or where you are right now at this very moment. You are a flower in a field of grace with your Daddy waiting to twirl you around and hold you in the sweetest embrace.

Take some moments for this picture to resound so sweetly on the inside of you. If you can, turn on a favorite song and begin to dance in your own creative way. A true expression of your love song and dance as a pure display of a heavenly interaction. As you sway and dance to the music, its as if the flowers in the field are dancing with you. Can you feel the gentle breeze?

What does your field of grace resemble? What are some promises that you are patiently waiting on?

We would love for you to share your thoughts with us! We can pray and believe with you!

Written by Salina Duffy

Condition of Our Heart

hydrangeaBut you ARE a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. {1 Peter 2:9}

I went home to Mississippi for a visit and was captivated by the royal purple hydrangeas between my sister and her neighbors house. I had a few minutes alone and decided to go photograph the flowers that had caused me to pause and take in their beauty.

As I was crouched down next to them, exploring all of the angles, the neighbor walked up. She is a 90-something year old firecracker named “Ol’ Weezy.” She proudly told me that I would never guess the secret to how she was able to produce such beautiful hydrangeas. I remember laughing and just telling her that they were beautiful and that she didn’t have to tell me what it was. I left for home later that day and heard the Lord whisper to my heart that He knew the secret to what made the hydrangeas the color that they were. Intrigued, I wrote it down and anticipated being able to research further. It turns out that the acidic value of the soil is what gives the hydrangea color. If you want pink, you want to keep the aluminum out. If you want blue, you add it. Many things contribute to the color: the soil, environment, care, etc. You can add things to the soil to change the color as well as different neutralizers to add variation.

As I was researching, I felt the Lord was asking me about the soil of my heart. Is it acidic? Alkaline? Is it guarded? Is it pure and holy? What an overwhelming sense of strength came during this moment!

Life brings about change. Sometimes we expect it, sometimes it catches us off guard and we have a hard time understanding. In Hebrews 13:8, it says that Jesus Christ is the same- yesterday, today and forever. Our life can change, but He cannot. There is so much peace in that. I can add to my life good things and watch the blossoms burst with color or I can become bitter and ungrateful and notice the brown spots on the petals appear.

My prayer for you is that you will examine the soil of your heart and discover what needs to be added. Ask the Lord to show you how to guard your heart with His promises and plans for your life. 

Written by Rachel Kevil, Embrace Grace Southlake Leader