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

Pockets of My Heart

shutterstock_200983001My heart is filled with adoration, love and thankfulness to our Beautiful Creator. I look around and everywhere I see there is beauty and wonder to behold. From the simplest of things like this morning a sweet little old man was sitting by himself sipping his coffee at the donut shop. He smiles as he looks over at my son and I can just see his wheels turning. Possibly thinking back to a time when his children were younger and he brought them into the donut shop to pick out their favorite treats. The sign above the coffee dispenser read Royal Cup- Savor the Experiences. As my little boy sat and recalled his adventures at the amazing water park and the joys that fill his days I was all ears. I was eager to know more. This older man was eaves dropping and he just kept smiling with the biggest grin on his face. In the middle of our conversation, we looked over at him and included him in our small talk. We wished him a blessed and happy day. I sometimes think or wonder: could that be an angel or messenger sent from God as a sweet reminder that He is all around. Watching over us. I tucked this sweet reminder in the pocket of my heart.

There are so many treasures within the pockets of my heart. I would love to share dozens and dozens of them with you today if only we had hours to share together. There are some that are rising up to the top and bring joy to my heart as the memories begin to surface. The sweet faces of our embrace grace girls walking into our classroom. Their eyes at first filled with a puzzled look and unsure of what to expect. Those eyes began to soften and become clear with the realization of the gift that had been placed within them. The wonder of creation. The gift of life. Grace. Beauty. Love. Holding their hands and speaking hope into their situations. Walking into the hospital room and seeing the glow upon their faces as they are holding their precious little baby in their arms. Oh the sheer joy, delight and glory that fills the room. As my arms reach out to embrace the babies, something within begins to overflow with so much love and thankfulness. Sweet tears. I tuck these treasures in the pockets of my heart.

Answering phone calls from churches and ladies that are drawn to serve in some way or another with Embrace Grace. They feel a stirring. A desire. A passion. As the vision and heart of Embrace Grace is revealed to them and they share their heart and willingness to serve, my heart is full of thankfulness. So many hearts, hands and lives are pouring into these mommies and babies daily. You could be one of them. I hold you in the pocket of my heart and say Thank You.

Blooms, sweet blooms, I hold you and your babies in the pockets of my heart. As we are expanding and growing daily, I may not know all of your sweet names and locations across the nation, but my heart is with you. I carry you in my heart and whisper sweet blessings and prayers over you often.

A precious bloom wrote a poem and I hold this close in a pocket of my heart: Take me to a far away sea. Somewhere where I can just be me. Digging my toes in the golden sand. As I watch the diamonds dance on your ocean so grand. Helping me to realize that even though I’m so small, You really do love me above all. You create this beauty for me to enjoy. And gave me a new life filled with joy. ~ EG bloom

I’m sure you have many treasures and memories of your own within your pockets. Some are buried way down deep. Gentle reminders and hope filled moments that you can pull out at any time to cherish, remember, and be encouraged. Some of our favorite pockets carry the Goodness of God from the promises He has given to us in His Word. Visit these pockets often. Believing for a recollection of these to come to your thoughts and minds. When crazy moments happen, or you just need to catch a breath, stop and reflect. Reach down in the pockets of your heart and you will be surprised what God will bring up for you. Things you may have forgotten, even things from your childhood, sweet memories and treasures can come to mind and bring you so much enjoyment. Share those pockets with others around you. They would love to partake of the goodness being spread around too. I carry you in the pocket of my heart. Sending you lots of love and goodness…

I carry your heart with me…and its whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing to you…here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart… I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart) by E.E. Cummings

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

 

Ears to Hear

shutterstock_175071470I am a listener. I absolutely love to listen! I was once given wonderful advice that has really stuck with me as I have grown. That istake the time to love and listen to whomever is in front of you at that moment. Really focus in and give them your full attention and allow them time to talk. Communication and connections being made.

Throughout my days it may be my husband, or my 2 sons, Embrace Grace mommies and babies, family, friends, team members and so many others that I come in contact with. I love to listen as they share stories, events about their day, and other fascinating factors that they encounter. The highs and lows of life. Ups and downs and everything in between. I engage and listen intently on what they have to share. One of my most favorite to listen to is God. He always knows exactly what I need to hear at the perfect moment.

A few days ago I was intrigued with this movie I had rented and my little seven year old walks in trying to talk to me. Shhhhh… Mommy is watching a movie. I’m trying to hear what they are saying… please be quiet. I can’t hear when you are talking… A few minutes later he is chatty again. I again ask him to be quiet. A third time he begins to talk and says something that captured my attention and I immediately grabbed the remote and paused the movie and was all ears. Ready to listen.

Mommy, his voice sounds like God’s. I look over at him in total amazement. I ask him to repeat again. His voice sounds like God’s mommy… The characters voice was a really deep voice. This man has been in so many movies. One being Simba’s dad on the Lion King. His voice is very distinctive and captures the audience when he speaks.

My son and I have many talks about him hearing God and how He speaks to him. He will ask God questions and relay the answers. In their sweet innocence and childlike faith it just comes naturally for children to hear God speak.

As we are sitting on the couch I look intently into my son’s eyes and desire to know more about this voice that sounds so familiar to him. I ask him so when you hear this voice, what does He say? He replies. Umm… What’s the word? He thinks for a second. Oh yeah, he cheers me on. He says you know like when I am playing baseball. I will be on first base. He (God) tells me to run to second. Run to second. Then when I am on second He says run to third you can do it, run to third. He encourages me to run. His voice sounds like that man on the movie mommy.

As I am sitting there in total adoration and love of hearing these sweet words from my son, a wave of astonishment and awestruck wonder came over me. It really is that simple. We sometimes think that hearing God is something only some people can do. But He speaks to all of us. All the time. We simply have to tune our ears to hear His voice. To listen intently to the things being spoken all around us. The delivery comes in so many different ways. He speaks through His creation, His Word, gentle whispers, our children and so many remarkable ways. As we begin to listen with our ears and really engage in what He wants to speak into our lives it will leave lasting impressions upon our hearts.

I’m reminded of a story in the bible found in 1 Samuel 3 about a little boy that heard the voice of God. Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. The word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days; there was no frequent or widely spread vision. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had dimmed so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. When the Lord called, Samuel! And he answered, Here I am. He ran to Eli and said, Here I am, for you called me. Eli said, I did not call you; lie down again. So he went and lay down.And the Lord called again, Samuel! And Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, Here am I; you did call me. Eli answered, I did not call, my son; lie down again. Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord was not yet revealed to him. And the Lord called Samuel the third time. And he went to Eli and said, Here I am, for you did call me. Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli said to Samuel, Go, lie down. And if He calls you, you shall say, Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. And the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, Samuel! Samuel! Then Samuel answered, Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening. 1 Samuel 3:1-10 AMP

May our ears, just as Samuel’s, be listening intently to hear what God is speaking to us. May our ears be in tune to hear His voice. May we have childlike listening skills to hear so clearly what is being revealed and spoken to our hearts. To encourage us. To enlighten us. To engage and entertain us. To fill our days and nights with life giving affirmations and love that will continue to lift us up and help us through whatever we may be going through. May we be able to drown out the noise, distraction and accusations from the wrong voices and be drawn to the heart and voice of God.

look with your eyes and hear with your ears and set your heart and mind on all that I will show you, for you are brought here that I may show them to you. Ezekiel 40:4 AMP

My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:15 NLT

Written by Salina Duffy

Cartoons, Laundry, Laughter, Tears. and Lots of Milk

blogger-image--1910186509I complain almost daily about the state of my messy house. I can’t remember the last time, that even a week went by, that I didn’t comment on the size of it. Too many hours have been spent worrying about things that don’t matter, while blonde heads and chubby fingers play and giggle only an arms length away from a hug, cuddle, or a soft caress of the cheek. But, instead of reaching for them, those lost hours all passed without even a wistful gaze in their direction.

How many times have I taken for granted this beautiful family that was almost lost before Jesus intervened and gave two hurt people the deepest desires if their eternal hearts? How many moments have I spent mindlessly scrolling, staring at this lighted screen, feeling like I was missing something more special than what is just on the other side of this phone?

When I stop and breath, even for just a moment, I hear the soft breaths of my baby girl and my husband’s quietly whispered prayers before he kisses our boys good night.  I see toys on the floor that irritated me today but that I know I’ll miss in a few years when they’re gone. One day, I’ll long to feel the stabbing pain that can only be felt when your bare foot meets a lone Lego.

If I stop, even for just a second, I remember how much I loved this little house the day we moved in. I invited a friend over just because I wanted to show her the built in LAUNDRY cabinet and cabinet space above the bath tub (That remains empty to this day). We brought every single one of our babies home to this house. Each of their car seats were set in the exact same spot on the floor as we brought them into our home for the first time.

In these moments when I catch my breath, I remember that our children don’t know any other home. They don’t know that the laundry, at one time, didn’t have it’s own spot on our couch. They don’t know that my two year old’s room was once an office/junk room. They also have no clue that I’m not a perfect mom. They just know how much they love it when I sit on the floor and play trains or tickle them until they get mad at me. They know how sleepy we get when we all pile up in the big chair to watch a movie. They know how to find they’re way to my side of the bed after a bad dream in the middle of the night.

Then, in these quiet moments I look, and I realize, they’re growing. My 2 year old is closer to 3 than he is to two. The signs of him being a baby are almost gone. I cry because my baby boy is growing-out and a big boy is growing-in. My first born, my first true love, reads to me. He has independent thoughts. My baby girl, I never put her down, but that’s not stopping her from growing. She smiles. Today she said, “Ba ba ba…” And she meant it. Soon, they’ll all be a little older. These days will be the old days and they are so good.

So, after I put my phone down tonight, I’m going to forgive myself for not being the mommy I always thought I’d be. I’m going to forgive my kids for not being the kids I always thought I’d have. I’m going to be ready for the moments when they are with-in arms length. After this paragraph, there will be less scrolling, more hugging, more smiles, more love and more forgiveness. At the end of this sentence, is a mom who appreciates and makes time for, this little house, toys on the floor, piles of laundry, and the family and amazing life that God has given me.

Written by Crissy Terrell

Misplaced Treasure

shutterstock_189760376I sat back in my reading time with an “Aha!” moment.  One line over a year of pondering and searching, and finally “Aha!!”…it all makes sense.  I had been seeking for an answer as to why I was having a particularly hard time in healing from the end of a relationship.  Being a natural researcher, I had taken time to look up various articles on what I was feeling and I found out that grief does not only come from the loss of a loved one through death, it comes from any kind of loss in your life.  The loss of a relationship, the loss of a job, a house.  I had gone through all of the appropriate levels of grief, and still found myself with rogue feelings that just would not conform, pack up and move out.

So there I was, over a year later, and finally I read something that clicked deep within me. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

Wow.  So few words and yet so profound.  I was having such a difficult time because I had placed my treasure (my heart and my hope) in something that was just as flawed as I was.  I invested a little (ok, a lot) more of myself than I should have, so the effects of that sudden loss were a bit devastating and hard to understand.  I subconsciously put myself “on hold,” trying to figure out what had happened, and in the meantime secretly hoped that it would all just go back to how it was.  I was living on the outside, but I had put myself on the shelf on the inside.  Finding this one sentence gave me the clarity I needed to see the big picture.

In our day to day lives, we find that those things we have put our sweat, blood and tears in, those things we have worked so hard to obtain, become our “treasures” whether we realize it or not.  We invest so much of ourselves into that “thing” that when it is no longer there, we are left wondering what just happened?

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Armed with this information, I was able to see everything in a whole new light.  Although my heart was genuine, I had just placed it in the wrong hands.

Is your treasure in the right hands?

Written by Jamie Stapleton

A daughter needs her Father’s blessing

shutterstock_153959978This is a day that I will never forget. I’m actually going to claim it as a second birthday for what transpired felt like a rebirth! I was already on cloud nine being that my son Antonio was marrying his beautiful bride Amber. The venue was being held at a location that was in a city near us – the challenging part was going to be getting there on time. You see the night before as I was driving to pick up last-minute items the power steering pump went out in my car. Normally I would have gotten upset, panicked, stayed stressed out over it the rest of the night and next day. Instead I just gave it to the Lord and trusted that it would all work out. I then called my sister Rosa who I can always count on. As usual she offered to take me in the morning to run the rest of my errands. I finally got back home to help my elderly parents get ready for the big day. They both were so happy and even had colored coordinated clothes to wear. Once they were ready we got a ride from a friend who was going to the wedding too. I was able to register for our room earlier than quoted which was a blessing in itself, this way my parents had somewhere comfortable to wait until the ceremony began. I had a little more than two hours before I had to get into my “Mother of the Bride” dress. I waited for the very last moment until I had to walk downstairs. So I just stayed in the room with my parents talking to them and preparing for the blessing I was going to release during the ceremony. I helped my youngest daughter Sabrena get into her bridesmaid dress, she then came out showcasing the end result. My parents of course gushed over how beautiful she looked. Then it was finally time for me to get all dolled up:) Sabrena returned the favor by helping me get ready. After everything was tucked in and put into proper order (just being real) I was ready to unveil my dress to my parents. The dress I chose was beautiful. It was an iridescent royal blue color. Now mind you I’m used to my mom complementing me, that’s just who she is. My Dad has always been the complete opposite – he never says anything! His compliments are saved for the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren. I walked out of the changing room and my mom began telling me how beautiful I looked and complimented my dress, I smiled and thanked her. Then my Father began to speak, in my head I heard that commercial I always watched on t.v. growing up saying “When E.F. Hutton speaks everyone listens!” Then all you heard in the background were crickets. At that moment I became a cricket! I just knew that I had to absorb the words that were about to come out of his mouth. My father began saying “Oh you look so beautiful, your dress is beautiful, you look so beautiful.” Those words were music to my ears. A sweet lullaby that was being sung to me for the very first time in my life by my father. Something began to happen to me internally, my spirit was excited. I felt my chest poke out, I stood straight up, my shoulders went back, and my head no longer hung low. I waited 47 years to hear my Daddy tell me that I was his beautiful little girl. I wanted to hug him and sit in his lap all at once and say “Tell me more” but that would’ve startled him:) Instead I just said “Thank you!” He just smiled at me in return. It was time for the ceremony to start so my parents walked down with my brother, I stayed behind to gather my thoughts. As I meditated on what actually had happened I realized that I had just received my “Father’s blessing.” Here it was my son’s wedding day and I was the one given the greatest gift of my life. For years I felt like I was never wanted or loved by my father. I’d go into details but it’s just too much to explain. I know now that everything I felt growing up and even recently were lies straight from the pit of hell. My relationship has been evolving since that day with my Dad, the walls have been torn down making room for love to enter. One day in particular stands out to me I was sitting on the couch exhausted from working the night before. My dad was inviting my mom to the table to come and eat with him, she declined because the news was on. Then I heard my Dad say “Tell Diane to come and eat with me.” I went from being exhausted to getting a burst of energy. See I never felt comfortable sitting at the table and eating with my Dad. I just avoided it at all cost but not this day. We talked about a lot of different subjects, my Dad doesn’t even know how much he blessed me. Then the scripture came to me John 14:3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also” My Daddy prepared the table with the food for us, he asked me to sit with him, where he was I was with him also. God gave me back my Dad at the age of 90 and all I want to do is make him proud! I know that my time is short with him because of his age but I choose to love him and let him know how much he truly means to me every day of his life. I shared this important part of my life to encourage fathers of any age to pour into your daughters especially the young ones! They need to know that you love them and are in their corner. Show them how a real man is supposed to treat them so that they will never settle for anything less than what their Dad did for them. Thank you for reading my very first blog! I’m excited for this new chapter in my life ♥

Written by Diane Regalado