Spark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salina Duffy

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

Begin Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jamie Stapleton

 

 

Beauty Beyond Compare

shutterstock_121046950When you look in the mirror, what do you see? A famous quote reads Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This phrase first appeared in the 3rd century BC in Greek. Many writers like William Shakespeare and numerous others have adapted the saying. What does that really mean exactly? In looking deeper, “it reflects that the perception of beauty is subjective.” (phrases.org) In other words each person sees beauty in a different way, form or fashion. Everyone has their own idea and picture of how beauty is portrayed, revealed and relayed to them.

My hopes are that as you look into the mirror you are pleased and happy with what you see. Sadly some of you may have other opinions. You may gaze into the mirror and wish to see a different view. Someone taller, thinner, shorter, without blemishes or flaws. Less wrinkles here and there. If only you could grasp how beautiful you truly are. To capture the beauty that is deep within you. Beneath the skin. Beneath the layers of buildup and negative thoughts about yourself.

Commercials plaster tons of advertisements with hopes that you will purchase their products and be as flawless as the airbrushed models appear. Magazines are within reach at every grocery store offering the latest and greatest creams and agents for newer, fresher, younger looking skin. These things are all for topical, outer layers of the body. Not applicable for the inner beauty and the true heart that is fashioned within. That is the purest, most rare form of beauty.

All of us are in our own unique season and walk of life. No matter the age between us. One thing is in common. We all long to feel beautiful. The strings within our DNA was fashioned with this desire naturally.

To hear the words echoed in a song You are Beautiful and something sparks inside of you. Are you able to really hear the words and let them sink in, or do they just fall away? I have a close family member that everytime I say you are so beautiful, she shakes her head and says no I’m not… I repeat it over and over and ask her to look in the mirror. She has a really hard time grasping that. You know why? Sadly she has heard the negative thoughts and lies from others saying otherwise. She has a hard time receiving this truth about herself because for so many years she has believed that she is what others have told her. She really is truly beautiful inside and out. If I could say it over and over a million times again and again for her to truly grasp this concept, idea and truth about herself so that she could grab hold and really see for herself this truth about her, I would in a heartbeat. Hopefully one day, preferably soon she will receive this for herself and allow the truth to really sink in so deep and that every time she looks in the mirror she sees beauty. Not in a conceited, vain or prideful kind of way. But in a pure, true heartfelt realization that she is lovely. She is pretty. She is beautiful beyond compare. Inside and out.

She was fashioned and formed with the upmost care and precision when she was created by her Heavenly Daddy. When He looks at her, he smiles and is filled with the deepest sheer happiness knowing that He created her to display his glory and beauty upon the earth. Oh, I pray she can see this. I pray you can see this too! You beautiful one were created, crafted, chosen with the love of our Daddy and He delights in you.

The glow, radiance, life that shines and sparkles within you creates a beauty that is beyond compare.

In pregnancy there is a natural glow that can be seen upon the face and countenance as others look upon. Belly Beautiful! There is a heavenly glow about them. The life they carry within them is precious and priceless. A beauty to behold. Babies are so beautiful in every way. I seem to melt when I am near them. My heart just leaps with joy inside when they are around. In the womb, in arms, everywhere all around the world. Mommies and Babies fill the land with beauty beyond compare.

Today as you gaze at others and look at yourself, embrace the beauty that you behold. May your eyes be opened to see the true beauty within and how God created you. So uniquely. So beautifully. You are lovely. You are worthy.

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others: for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness: and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. Audrey Hepburn

Written by Salina Duffy

Do It Afraid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jamie Stapleton

 

Stay Afloat

shutterstock_179168111Day in and day out we encounter times when we are left pondering and wondering what is the outcome of this situation we are facing? The good, the bad and the ugly may come our way and in those moments how do we react? We love when the good times roll and things are going our way. Everything around us is butterflies and rainbows. All seems to be so easy and carefree. Smooth sailing. The stress is bare minimal in those particular days. Days like these are fully embraced and so peaceful. We would love for moments like these to repeat over and over.

But what about the other moments? In those times when the bad or the ugly comes; is our first reaction to panic and allow the pressure and tension to rise and engulf us with fear? Or do we counteract with peace, calmness and assuredness? I venture to say that for many of us, myself included at times, the pressure and tension rises when the resistance is the strongest. My hopes and intentions are to stay calm, cool and collected; but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. As much as I may try, my arms seem to be flailing and fighting to stay afloat.

A perfect visual of this instance was brought to the surface the other day as I was talking to a sweet bloom on the phone. I was sharing encouraging words, hope and speaking life into her situation. As we spoke, in my mind I saw her in this body of water as she was trying to float on her back. Amidst all the things she was facing and enduring at the time, try as she may, she was not able to stay afloat. Her arms and legs were kicking and striving, trying to stay above water. She kept sinking and barely able to hold her head up. She was trying with all her might to figure out the outcome and answers to the things that weighed so heavily upon her heart. She was trusting God so much, and then at times it just felt so hard. Almost too hard. Her arms were just moving about trying desperately to be still. But how she thought?

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

As we began to talk more and more, I encouraged her to close her eyes and visualize herself in the water. Then shared as a lifeguard is instructing someone how to float and gently holds their back briefly as the child or grown up learns to spread arms and legs out and fully relax. If they begin to panic or strive to stay above water, they will begin to sink. But if they can fully relax and be still, the lifeguard can gently pull his hand away and the person can feel they are floating freely and staying above the water. They have mastered the concept of floating.

Now just imagine Jesus as that lifeguard. He is there alongside of you. Holding you up securely.

I came home and my mind began to race about some things that were weighing heavily upon my heart. I began seeing myself in the water with my arms moving about trying to stay afloat. Then the words I had just shared to help and encourage someone else were coming back to encourage me. I went outside and felt a full immersion in the pool would be so refreshing and relaxing. I literally laid back in the water and practiced the exercise of trying to float while too many things were racing in my mind. Things began to jumble up and my arms began to move about. I began to sink. But then, I inhaled and took a deep breath. As I exhaled and gave everything that concerned me to Jesus, I felt Him so near. He was my lifeguard and was holding my back in the water and instructing me. He said give it all to me. Everything. Hold nothing back. I want it all. The more I felt myself giving it over to Him, the lighter and weightless I became. I was floating so freely in the water and gazing up at the sky above me.

No matter what situation you are facing today. He has His hands gently on your back. He is talking you through step by step instructions. Relax, put your arms out to the side. Breathe. Don’t fight it. Just be still. The more still you can be, the better. He will help you stay afloat.

There seems to be a pattern in the thoughts and minds of girls that are sending me messages lately. They are phrased differently and revolve around their own specific circumstances and situations. The heart of the matter reflects upon how to react and respond when these instances arise. Do we begin to sink or float?

These are just a few of the messages that have been coming in lately. They are true expressions and emotions of what some of our blooms are experiencing:

I feel like my biggest fear is coming true… My faith is definitely being pushed to the limits. I don’t know what to do… I’m crying right now. I’m trying so hard to have faith and trust in God. I’m just so scared. – EG alumni bloom

I’m having a hard time right now. I really need someone… My Mom is wanting to kick me out, I had to quit one of my jobs and they screamed at me the whole time. I feel like I never see my baby and my baby daddy has been trying to get custody. -EG alumni bloom

I feel like everything is falling apart. My car is in the shop and it is too expensive to fix, and I really just get too emotional and need prayers. – EG alumni bloom

I just had another sonogram and it showed an abnormal cyst in my baby’s abdomen. Please pray. -EG alumni bloom {Praise report: the following day she had another sonogram and everything was normal and baby is so healthy and strong and the previous reading was an error. Yay God!}

Seeing that baby girl made me a little nervous! She was soooo precious, but I don’t feel ready for a baby at all… – EG bloom

You may find yourself relating in one way or another to some of these, or you can fill in your own responses of what you are facing at this particular moment. Whether it is the good, the bad or the ugly, know that there is a God out there who hears your every prayer and longing. He knows your fears and sees your tears. He is here for you and will never let you go. No matter what comes your way. He promises to stay right beside you and keep you from sinking.

What are you facing today? Questions, unknowns, and everything in between… No matter what you can stay afloat.

Praying for peace and calmness to come over you and bring you the sweetest rest and assuredness that God has everything safely in His hands for you! Praying for all things close to your heart to be safe and secure. Life situations and God’s plans to be revealed. Health, healing and wholeness in a mighty way. A Jesus touch to be felt. Powerful provision beyond what you can see in the here and now. To fully surrender everything into His loving care. May Jesus cover you with His mighty hands and bring you the sweetest comfort. I love you so much! Rest easy and be at peace. Relax. Breathe. God is in control. You will stay afloat.

Written by Salina Duffy

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