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

The More I Seek You

shutterstock_141063856The memory is etched upon my heart like it was yesterday. A special moment during worship six years ago. Kari Jobe was singing The more I seek you, the more I find you, the more I find you, the more I love you. We were at Pink Impact, a women’s conference, and the worship team was ushering us in to the Presence of God.

Chris Caine came on stage for a moment and said she didn’t even want to break what was happening. She asked Kari and the team to continue in the heart of worship. I remember my heart beating with the rhythm of the drums. Especially when she sang the lyrics I want to sit at your feet … lay back against you and breathe and feel your heartbeat. I could sense Him so near. So close. Eyes closed. Heart fully engaged. Tears falling. Experiencing God in a tangible way. He spoke so clearly.

He healed my heart from wounds and pain I had experienced as a child. There was a rose bush incident that had happened when I was a little girl. Something that was innocently pulled up by mistake thinking the rose bush was dead. Punishment was given by my step dad. It left a lasting mark upon my heart. The scars were there, even though years had passed. The thorns were still lodged deep within. It had caused a lot of deep wounds upon my heart, fear, and hurt… in an instant during that worship service, that pain and heartache was fully extracted.

Chris Caine came back on stage and said Wow, that was awesome! We just experienced healing that could take years of therapy in only 10 minutes of worship. Her words were so true. In those moments, something deep within was healed instantly.

This very same weekend at Pink Impact 2008 during the worship encounters and guest speakers we experienced the conception of Embrace Grace. Something was being born inside of us. We didn’t know at the time what was being conceived, we just saw tiny glimpses, visions, whispers of helping single and pregnant girls. Helping the mommies and babies. Showering them with love and grace.

Our EG baby was born and has been growing and expanding with each new year!

Today is a special monumental day celebrating our 6th birthday of Embrace Grace. Happy Birthday BABY! We are celebrating and attending Pink Impact at Gateway Church the next 3 days and hearts are expectant and overwhelmed with the love and grace that will pour out upon all of us! We are seeking Him and will find Him with all our hearts.

Last night my family and I were at one of our favorite Italian restaurants and a little God wink occurred during our colossal brownie indulgence. I looked up and Kari Jobe walked in to pick up her to go order! It was a sweet little kiss from heaven. It brought me back to that special night 6 years ago. God whispered to my heart, you are seeking me and finding me with all your heart. Show others how to seek me too.

Knowing that Kari will be leading worship at Pink this year and God only knows the healing, restoration, heavenly encounters that are sure to happen during Pink Impact conferences.  Tune into www.pinkimpact.com for more information, and possibly watch live and join in the worship and celebration with us!Pink Impact 2014-03

A sweet friend of mine called me the other day and was speaking from the heart. She said that Embrace Grace is celebrating our 6th year, and that God created the world in 6 days and on the 7th day- God rested. She said she felt there is a time of rest that God is bringing us and to press in and ask God to reveal that during this Pink Impact.

Last night as I opened my sons treasure bible and asked God for a special word, I turned directly to Hebrews 4 and it speaks of how we will enter into God’s rest. It was confirmation to my heart to see these words. Seeking Him more and Finding Him more and more with each passing day.

You can seek Him too. Look for Him in the little moments of your day. Ask Him to give you a word to cling to in a song, the Bible, a friends encouragement, there are so many ways He speaks daily to us. Tune in to His frequency. Quiet the noise around you. Press in. Seek Him with all your heart. Focus your attention on Him. He will speak to you. He will reveal Himself to you. He will pursue you. He will woo you. He adores you!

As you worship Him and seek Him more and more, you will find Him! Rest in Him.

Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him... 1 Chronicles 28:9 God’s Word Translation.

We will enter God’s place of rest.

God’s promise that we may enter his place of rest still stands… God said this even though he had finished his work when he created the world.  Somewhere in Scripture God has said this about the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.” … Therefore, a time of rest and worship exists for God’s people. Hebrews 4:1,4,9 God’s Word Translation.

Written by Salina Duffy

Victory!

shutterstock_138284549Back in late June, I was honored to write an article for “Embrace Grace” called “Joy in the Waiting”. In it I shared the ways that God had strengthened, renewed, restored and shown Himself faithful during a season of miscarriage and unemployment. The week it was posted to the blog, my husband and I faced our toughest challenge yet. Showing symptoms of jaundice, my husband went to the doctor to discover that he was walking around with a deadly form of hepatitis. Our last outing was on July 4th and then he was admitted to the hospital, where he remained for most of the summer. I remember sitting in the waiting area of the VA Hospital emergency room. Fleshly feelings of “what now, God? I can’t do this right now,” would try to creep in, but I had been previously strengthened and trained in the battle of faith. My friends sent me encouraging words and prayers over text and one friend specifically prayed, “God, give Kyndl a Word for her family right now.” I was sitting there, holding Chris’s overnight bag, listening to frustrated patients that spouted out hopelessness in their words. I watched a man being wheeled in, appearing lifeless in the midst of a diabetic coma. Everything around me felt chaotic that day, but it was like God literally pierced through the darkness and took my face in His hands. He spoke one simple word… “victory”. I held onto this word through this entire fight.

You see when we are in the midst of turmoil, trials and adversity, it can sometimes feel as though the storm isn’t going to let up any time soon. But, if you think about the birds singing before they even see the dawn; it’s because they sense it. They know that their Creator has designed the dawn to always arrive, they don’t even question it. This is how I felt through our very difficult season. I felt something rise within me that day. There wasn’t room for doubt, there wasn’t room for lies, because I knew God was with us.

We received his diagnosis of liver disease. The doctor did not have the type of bedside manner that a wife would hope for, but she was apparently one of the “best” in our city. She didn’t offer much hope. She gave him about a 20% chance of leaving the hospital. I had to take a stand in that very moment of what I was going to do. Was I going to be a prisoner of hope or a prisoner of fear? We began taking authority over the entire situation. I rebuked everything that wasn’t from the Lord and took every piece of information the doctors would give us straight to Him. Essentially, there wasn’t much treatment they could offer until his liver started to regenerate on its own. You see, all of the toxins that weren’t being excreted through the liver, were just remaining in his body and the fear was that they would go to his brain which wasn’t reversible. They were also concerned of his levels worsening at a rapid rate to put him at complete liver failure. But, I took all of this “not so great information” to my prayer warriors and family and used it as a battle plan. I knew exactly what to pray, what a blessing! But, it’s what happened after his first week or so in the hospital, where the Lord brought complete breakthrough. I had been going to the hospital every day, but finally my husband and I agreed I needed a day of rest, so I didn’t go one particular Sunday. It was that day that I got the report that his numbers were worsening which furthered his mortality rate.

I recalled the lyrics to “Oceans” by Hillsong United where it says “My feet may fail and fear surrounds me…”. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I knew the Lord was calling me into deeper waters than I had ever been, but I have never been so scared in my life. I began looking around at all of our pictures and all of Chris’s things left untouched for days and fear came in. I had not even once contemplated the thought of him actually not coming home. I didn’t understand what was happening. I was so anxious, I couldn’t sit. I prayed with friends, but the fear was still there. Finally, I just surrendered…and then a shift happened in my heart. The next part of that lyric says “You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.” I began just worshipping my Father. The One that was going before me. The One that was in control. The One that was right there in that hospital room and the One that I knew had the upper hand. He put two songs specifically on my heart to sing and my circumstance suddenly didn’t matter, all that mattered was My Jesus. He then led me to the Scripture: Psalm 18. I began declaring this Scripture over my home, over my family, over our future children and over Chris. I began speaking all sorts of Scriptures over him, when I felt the Lord say “Go, girl!” and I let the enemy have it. I had just re-listened to a message from Charlotte Gambill about “owning your zone”. In it, she reminds us that we have a job to do and it doesn’t involve passivity or complacency, we have to stop things from coming into our zone that are unnecessary. I remember her specifically saying “It doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen, but when they do, you’ll say to the enemy ‘are you sure you want to come here?!”

I then heard myself declare: “Spirit of Fear, Disaster and Sickness, you can leave right now! You have no authority here! You have no power here! We know who we belong to! We are under the covering of the Lord Jesus Christ Who died for Chris’s healing today! After everything we’ve been through, now you’re trying to take my husband from me?! I do NOT think so!!” And I just began declaring what was “True”, what was “Right”, what was “Pure” and “Lovely”. It was as if all of the training I had already been through, led me to this moment and God (while standing behind me and going before me) allowed me to exercise my warrior abilities, so that I could see for myself that I was the soldier He had called me to be. I immediately felt the evil spirits flee. I could sense their fear of me activating my authority as Jesus’ heir. I remember Priscilla Shirer once saying “Wouldn’t it be a shame if the enemy knew our potential, but we didn’t?” I never want that to be the case.  Of course, it all wasn’t just for that one moment, nor was this my first experience in spiritual warfare, but the fact that over the last two years or so while in the midst of heartbreak and fear, God gave me the strength to worship, the endurance to fight, the energy to intercede and the remembrance that I was not fighting in my own strength has been empowering like no other. I feel ready to step into a new season.

After that night, I felt like a new person. The very next morning I laid hands on Chris at the hospital and prayed from this place of revelation, strengthened faith and confidence and that very night, we got our first positive report! I felt the Lord say for us to believe for a quick healing…none of this “months and months” business. And I am happy to say that it only took him 2-3 months (from the day he was admitted) for his liver to completely regenerate….and to top it off, he found a job a month after leaving the hospital! You see, we walk through situations that make us feel like we are defeated. The enemy even thinks he has defeated us, when in fact God has us and them right where He wants us. We, His children, being set up to prevail and the enemy to receive their Holy sentencing from the One in charge. He is creating room for Himself to show Himself, to prove Himself so we can bear witness. In Isaiah 43, God says that we are His witnesses and that He has chosen us so that we may “believe and understand” that He is the Great I Am, the One and Only, the Healer of our Hearts.  With every trial, we have the opportunity to either give in to fear and worry or to allow His grace to cover us so that we can persevere. When we face adversity, we can either find ourselves bracing for impact, or choosing to embrace the grace that He has given us. If we choose grace, we have the unique opportunity to be first-hand witnesses to His glory. If you are facing adversity today, whether it be a bad medical report, financial turmoil or another difficult loss or broken heart, speak out. Declare the Word of God over that situation. Every circumstance, every piece of brokenness must yield to His Word. God wants us to not only “hide His Word in our heart so that we may not sin against Him” (Psalm 119) but so that His Words can be released as daggers into the heart of the enemy’s lies. Be ready for Him to mold you, be ready for Him to break you so that He can multiply what He does through you to reach others. We are a generation that must rise up as warriors so that we can love like no other, extend grace like no other, have faith like no other, see miracles like no other and push back the forces of darkness by advancing His Kingdom like no other. But it starts with our personal journey, so that we can bear witness and personally testify. Be bold, be strong and courageous (Josh.1:9), do not be afraid, because last I checked our Commander and Chief has the upper hand and has given you one word “victory”.

Written by Kyndl Bickers