Close To You

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Mother’s Story ~her pregnancy with me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Salina Duffy

 

 

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

A Beautiful Life

It was September and I just found out that I was having a baby with my baby mama Jordyn. 

The past few weeks we had become more distant than before.  Our constant fighting and bickering towards each other was only becoming more irritating for the both of us.  I kept thinking maybe time apart from each other would be better off in the long run.  We decided it would be best to go our separate ways.  The days were passing quickly and soon our time apart turned into weeks which turned into months …

I couldn’t help but feel lonely, lost, and just out of life.  How was she doing?  Is everything going okay with her and the baby?  Are we ever going to get back together? I felt hopeless as the thoughts overtook every moment without her.  Stress and anxiety were controlling my life and I needed a way out.

I didn’t know how to cope with all of these emotions so I turned the wrong direction and took the wrong path …  I got caught up in drugs.  My new reality was just to get high  and then all my pains go away for a short period of time.  And when that time would run out and I sobered up, I would just work on getting high again.  This seemed like the life.  I felt powerful like nothing else in this world … I was so wrong and deceived.

My friends and I spent all of our time doing this and thought it was the best life.  We felt like nothing could stop us and we would do this forever because we kept thinking this was “the good life.”

I had been noticing a steady change with all my friends getting arrested for drug related crimes.  Some reason I barely escaped ever being caught by the police.  I thought that if I were to get arrested, then that would give me the strength to change the path my life was going.  It was so pathetic – I just didn’t care.  I began dealing drugs, but that didn’t last long.  I just didn’t enjoy doing it and felt so unfulfilled with my life. There had to be something more to life …  Was God trying to tell me something?

By March, 5 months had passed since Jordyn and I split up.  I couldn’t stand being without her.  She was truly my heart and soul and I just couldn’t go on without her.  I just kept thinking about how she has my baby inside her and that she is my baby mama, and that meant so much to me.

Do I really want to keep living this life of the unknown, doing drugs and destroying my future and risk throwing everything good in my life away? 

That question hit me one day and that was the moment I decided to make a change the path of my life.  A veil was lifted and I could see the truth so much more clear.

Those people that I had been hanging out with were not my friends.  I had a much more important person(s) in my life that I need to step up for and that meant the world to me.  It was time for me to be the man I was meant to be and that I truly wanted to be.

We are God’s creation and sent to be on this earth for a reason that only He knows.  Doing drugs with your “friends” is the devil trying to bring you down, I promise.  Within a matter of moments I decided to ditch all my friends and live the life I wanted to live without their influence.  I did not want them near, in, or around my life because they were the sorriest examples of friends I could have ever imagined.

I will never do drugs again.

I will stay sober.

I will be the best man I can be for my family.

That choice I made was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  My life and future is now looking bright.   It’s never too late to change your life.  I prayed and got back up on my feet, lifted my hands to the heavens, and asked for God to show me the way.  Fortunately, He led me straight back to my baby mama, Jordyn.

April came way too fast. Jordyn was about 8 months pregnant and I needed her back in my life.  Now that I had gotten rid of all the bad influences it was time that I ask Jordyn for my forgiveness.

One day I called her and poured out on my heart. I asked her if we could push through our past problems because I was a changed man.

I am so blessed that she forgave me!

We began prayerfully considering options other than parenting because we were simply too young and not financially stable enough to care for our child.  We wanted our child to have a more supportive home, where she would be provided with everything that she wants and needs.

We came to the difficult decision to place our baby for adoption.  Not closed adoption like some couples choose, but an open adoption.  We wanted to still be in our child’s life, loving on her, giving her birthday gifts, even while she is in the care of another family.  We felt like this is what God was leading us to do.

We contacted an adoption agency called Chosen Heritage.  We instantly knew they were the agency to use because they had the sweetest, most encouraging, and supportive leaders I had ever met in my entire life!  We got the process going pretty quickly our baby was due in just one short month.

A few weeks into counseling with Chosen Heritage, Jordyn and I began looking through adoption profiles.  This was so fun to say the least! We were looking through a bunch of different profiles when I came across a particular family that we felt a connection with instantly. The family just seemed like they were filled with so much happiness and joy.   We both just knew that they were really the family our child to be raised by. As Jordyn read through their profile, the reaction on her face I’ll never forget.  But let me tell you, nothing can describe the reaction on her face after she read through this beautiful profile.  Tears began streaming down her face and we both just looked at each other and knew, even before we had met them.

God was speaking to both of our hearts and we were excited for our next season and for us to meet our baby girl Abby for the first time.

Written by Josh Malkosky

Dancing with Daddy

That super cheesy country song was stuck in my head yesterday and I had it on “repeat” in my head (not intentionally) and mainly it was the chorus over and over again.

Life’s a dance you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. Don’t worry about what you don’t know, life’s a dance you learn as you go.

 I started thinking about the lyrics and the part about “sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow” and was thinking that wasn’t very accurate if you have God in your life. He always should be leading. I thought of it quick because this issue is all too personal for me right now and I have had to learn the hard way plenty of times.

If you don’t know me, basically I’m what people call a “go-getter.”  I’ve recently been studying Strengthsfinder book and realizing how God made me – and it’s apparently how I was created. I can’t help it. I get an idea, or God speaks to me, and I go with it. I always thought this quality was great until I realized that apparently, I need to wait on God to lead J Just because I get the idea, doesn’t mean it’s time to GO right then.

It got me thinking about how life IS a dance – and we’re dancing with our heavenly Daddy.

Here are 5 points on dancing with Jesus …

1.  He has asked you to dance, will you say yes? He is a gentleman and will not force you to accept the invitation. He just waits for you to accept. You have to say yes and make Him Lord and Savior of your life. It’s the best and most beautiful dance you could ever have

2.  Let Him lead. Just relax and don’t be tense. Be flexible to the exciting plans God has for you. A turn here, a twirl there. He wants to take you on a fun ride – He wants you to be carefree and happy.

3. Safe in His Embrace. He has His arms wrapped around you. You are safe and protected. You don’t have to worry about falling because He will catch you.

4. Feel His Heartbeat. You have to lean in close to hear His whisper. He is speaking all the time, just listen. Read His word and spend intimate time with Him. He will not let the wrong guy cut in if you are close enough to hear His cues.

5. If you trip up, you can just try again til you get it right. He doesn’t make a fool out of you or get mad if you trip up. If you take a wrong step, He just starts right where you left off before you took that wrong step. And you just keep trying it again and again until you get it right. He is full of grace and love.

6. When you get too weak or the dance gets too hard, He will carry you. Just like when you were a little girl and you would put your feet on top of your daddy’s big shoes and he would dance around while you just held on tight. God will carry you through your dance until you are strong enough to dance again.

I heard this saying and thought it was cute:

G (God) + U + I + DANCE = Guidance.

Will  YOU accept this dance?

Written by Amy Ford 

 

What’s Your Cardboard Testimony?

We do this cool thing at the end of each Embrace Grace semester that I LOVE.  We have everyone write out their cardboard testimonies (even some of the leaders). If you don’t know what a cardboard testimony is, it is basically condensing what God has done for you in your life or maybe just in a season and putting the before and after on cardboard. There is something about reflecting back on where you came from and where God brought to you, and putting it into just a few words that make it SO powerful and moving.

I was working on the website this weekend and these pics are just awesome.

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

And I found one of mine …

Image

So I have a question, what is your cardboard testimony? It’s something you should think about sometimes – would love hear yours in our comment section!

Written by Amy Ford