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

 

 

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

Hanging Out In Limbo

shutterstock_108821864Limbo= Lim’bo, Lim’bus

1.    A region bordering on hell, or hell itself.
2.    A place of restraint.

Restraint= (Hebrew) ma’tsowr (mah-tsore’)

Objectively, a hindrance.
Atsar (aw-tsar), Hebrew
A primitive root; to inclose; by analogy, to hold back; also to maintain, rule, assemble; be able, close up, detain, fast, keep (self close, still), prevail, recover, refrain, X reign, restrain, retain, shut (up), slack, stay, stop, withhold (self).

Isaiah 54:1 “Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the Lord.

I have found myself on more than one occasion recently saying to myself and others, “I don’t do limbo well!” It seems as though my life and everything about it is in “limbo” at the moment, my place of residence, my passions, my healing and recovery, my job, my relationships, etc., etc., etc. I have continually viewed this as a bad place to be. Looking at the first definition above, that would prove true. BUT GOD!

As I study the second definition I am beginning to realize “limbo” is not always a bad place to be. The verse Isaiah 54:1 seems to start out as a dark place for most women, a barren place. It is a parable of not just a woman who cannot have a child, but all women who have a dream, calling, pull if you will, on their heart. We have so much that “pulls” us into all directions, and usually at the same time! Limbo can be, if we let it, a place of imprisonment, a place of despair and isolation, and really, if we are honest, that region bordering on hell! YUCK! But God wants it to be a place of recovery, refrain from harm, a stillness to stay in His presence. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 We can prevail in “limbo”! “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 We can also keep steadfast in “limbo.” “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Now, I am not saying that I didn’t struggle in my recent “limbo.” As a matter of fact and in total transparency, I actually quit for a bit! Those close to me observed this first hand. They have shown me mercy and grace during my recovery and healing. But God got ahold of me, that’s a great thing, and began to show me how to transfer my “limbo” from that region to His presence. In His presence, limbo looks like this:

L Love = “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” Psalm 52:8

I Imperfect = “He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4

M Mercy = “His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation.” Luke 1:50

B Beautiful = “and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” Isaiah 61:3

O Open = “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” Psalm 119:148

So the next time you feel in “limbo”, or maybe you are there right now, call on God, only He can move you from the region bordering hell to His presence.

I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.
Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
THEN I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, He saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 116:1-9

Written by Kathy Easley

A Place Called Home

shutterstock_139797706It hit me like a ton of bricks. The realization that for most of the years I had been a mother I had inwardly longed to be single, to not have the daily responsibilities and duties of motherhood. And now that my children were almost grown, how I longed to be a mother. I do not have time in this brief blog post to count the ways that I came to this realization, but I can tell you that I love my children with all of my heart, and that there are no three people more important to me on the entire earth.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I have a huge capacity to love. I long to give to people, and I have a desire to make others happy to the best of my ability. Having said that though, because of sin, hurt and pain in my life, there were parts of me deep inside that were severed. Lacking a connection, they lost life. I always struggled with feeling like something just wasn’t connecting, especially when others would say things that would ring true in my head and I would pray with all of my might, but it was as if something stopped it from reaching my heart.

My friends and I have this inside joke about words that drive us crazy. “Dear”, “Pumpkin,” “Honey” are a few that make me cringe. Tonight though, another word made me cringe and I mentally added it to my list. Consequence. Talking about consequences in relationships and consequences with kids and for once I decided (or admitted) that I did not like that word. As the conversation continued, I became very aware of something I had not before. And it was the key to unlock guilt I had carried for years.

I have always been a task oriented person. Things have to be done, the show must go on kind of person. Stuff those feelings and emotions because you just don’t have time to deal with them right now kind of person. Being a young teenage mother, several things inside of me stopped growing so that other areas could grow rapidly in order to position myself for this new found responsibility. With the duties of an adult, I still had the emotions of a child, and those emotions carried over into the decisions I made as an adult. I did what I had to do, in order to keep my family moving, not really considering what the best interest of a family would be. Very independent and just trying to make it, I made decisions the best I could with my limited emotional and mental capabilities.

And tonight it came full force. For the first time, I realized with both my mind and my heart that I grieved not being able to give my children a “normal” home. Mom, Dad, cat, dog, family vacations. Home cooked dinners around the table. Holiday crafts and family traditions. Too busy trying to do it all, I ended up doing none of it well. I couldn’t give them “normal” when they were young and even now – the struggle is real.

Laying on my couch feeling the brokenness, I thought about my parenting skills, everything that I had been through with my children, and I asked the Lord where was the redemption in this part of my story? And the scripture in Ezekiel 37 telling the story of the dry bones came to my mind:

“God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun. He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Master God, only you know that.” He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’” God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!” Ezekiel 37:1-6 (The Message)

I had prayed several times this scripture. For God to breathe life into the dry areas, to bring back to life those things that were dead inside of me. As I laid on the couch, I sensed God telling me that the redemption was that by bringing these deep seated feelings out into the open, He was bringing things back to life. Areas that had been severed were now starting to feel again. This was just the beginning to a healing that needed to happen, but was buried under layers and layers of things that had been piled on top.

There is redemption to be had. No matter what area of life, and no matter how long it has been that you have been carrying the load, Jesus has come so that you may have life again. I have fought hard for a place to call home, a place where life and laughter can thrive. Where the skeletons and regrets of times past can show themselves to the door so that the fresh breath of God’s grace can flow freely. And as I sit here sharing this story with you now, on the same couch that harbored my brokenness just a few hours before, I am filled with a sense of home that comes not from man-made striving. The light on this home is forever shining.

Written by Jamie Stapleton

Butterfly Kisses

IMG_1787I know what it feels like to have an unplanned pregnancy. I remember all the emotions and feelings, the worry and fear – and I love how God came through for me when I needed him. He knew just what I needed – a baby, to draw my heart to Him and Embrace Grace helped point me there. My baby girl was the best unexpected blessing I could have ever received. I married the father of my baby, the love of my life and we have 2 beautiful children together.

My husband Brad is leaving for boot camp in July of this year. So we have had many family talks about our future, what I need to look forward to, and what we can do to make this the easiest on our two girls Blakelee (3) and Blair (1).

We have been wanting to get pregnant again, so we started trying. I know you are probably thinking we are crazy and we have no idea what we are doing since my husband is leaving for boot camp and then going straight to Officer Candidate School right after, but we have had many family talks about this, and we came to agreement that yes it might be hard, but we don’t know where we will be a year from now, away from family and Brad could possibly be deployed. So we decided we should start trying before he left. I have help from our family and they will be here for the birth of our new baby.

Months went by and I wasn’t conceiving. I was talking to my friend Morgan (Moe) a lot, and she just kept pressing into me that if it’s in God’s plans for us to have a baby then it would happen but I needed to be patient and not get discouraged. It would all workout the way it was suppose to. I thought to myself, wow how selfish am I being? I am getting upset because I’m not getting pregnant as fast as I hoped, but not one time have I prayed and given this to God.

So I prayed. I prayed hard.

But I never asked to get pregnant. I just prayed “Lord, if this is in your plans for our family, please let this be, but if its not in your plans for our family, please give me the strength to not be discouraged.”

About a week later, I’m outside at work, and a little friend wouldn’t leave me alone. He just kept coming to say hello! He landed on me and wouldn’t leave. I didn’t want him too. So I got my phone out and started snapping pictures. It was a beautiful butterfly. As the butterfly was fluttering by and landed on my stomach, I just got this overwhelming feeling, NEW BEGINNINGS! Oh, I was so excited. I ran inside to tell Brad (we work together), and he laughed and said that’s really awesome, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. But I kept thinking how does that just happen?!

I called Moe on my lunch break, to ask if it was too early to take a pregnancy test, she said she thought I should wait. So I waited a few days and then 5 days before my missed period I bought a digital pregnancy test, I came back to work and took it. I waited for like 20 minutes (it felt like) to have a “not pregnant” staring back at me. I was bummed but I was okay with it. I felt like I had my peace that I had prayed about so I thought this is not my time. Brad and I also agreed that if I wasn’t pregnant we would stop trying because we didn’t think that it was in the plans for us.

Mothers Day came and I got up and was fixing breakfast for everyone. I had just picked my brother up on Friday from being in Afghanistan since September and I thought to myself, what more could I be thankful for on Mother’s Day? What an amazing day.

After fixing breakfast I went to the restaurant and thought maybe I’ll just take one last pregnancy test even though I knew deep down, it would be another negative. I could hear Blakelee and Brad playing outside the bathroom door, and when I went to get up I looked over and saw “PREGNANT”!!!!!!! I screamed, “BRAD!!!!!!” I ran out of the bathroom and told Brad I’m pregnant! I’m really pregnant! We were so overjoyed and happy! We got to tell everyone on Mothers day that they were going to be grandmas again! It was honestly the most happy mothers day I have experienced!

God hears you, don’t think he doesn’t. And that butterfly was my answer that he was blessing me. I’m so thankful for a mighty and true Father! We are truly blessed. I have also learned to be patient and listen. Listen for His voice because you will hear Him. He knows what we need and hears our deepest cries. He just wants us to cast our cares and burdens to Him.

Psalm 127:3
Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.

Thank you Jesus for blessing our family. I love you so much!

Written by Brooke Davidson, EG alumni

 

 

Let Go and Let God

shutterstock_50844067My daughter and I wake up each morning and go over her memory verses. Currently they are Philippians 4:7, Philippians 4:13, Hebrews 11:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 1 Peter 5:7, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 20:4, John 3:16, Deuteronomy 28:11-13, and the Lords Prayer from Matthew 6. Her favorite is Philippians 4:7. Whenever she has a bad dream or is upset or anxious about anything I ask her to recite it and she boldly proclaims, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart, and your mind in Christ Jesus!” and she feels better. She writes those words on her heart and takes them as a true promise. She accepts the peace God offers and she claims the protection He gives over herself and her heart and her mind and her dreams. It’s the perfect most precious example of a childlike faith and it’s a blessing to see in action.

I pray for my faith to grow more like hers each day. The last 24 hours have been difficult. Instead of claiming God’s peace and resting in His strength I have fought a bit with my own. Today I had to face my abuser in court. I had to testify as to what I endured at his hands. Needless-to-say, I was full of anxiety. Leading up to today I’ve been sick with allergies and migraines to the point of going to the doctor. I received a steroid shot at the doctor yesterday and promptly passed out in front of my frightened four year old daughter. I suffer of vasovagal syncope syndrome but I haven’t passed out from a venipuncture in years! It’s been an out-of-control couple of days.

The dictionary defines anxiety as “worry, uneasiness, nervousness, tension or stress.” Fear is at the root of anxiety, and because of that, it’s something we need to resist by the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. Anxiety will steal that peace and joy which The Lord guarantees us, and that’s evidence enough that it’s a tool of the enemy. In Proverbs 14:30 it says, “A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body.” Since anxiety steals our peace, it can make us susceptible to sickness and disease, and I believe it can take years off of our lives. If you spend enough time being anxious you will find sooner or later that you’ll be plagued with headaches, stomachaches, backaches or other illnesses. God never intended for us to shoulder our own burdens, and trying to do so can have terrible consequences. Anxiety has the ability to zap our strength and lower our energy levels. As a result, we’ll be less productive and fruitful as employees, students, parents, ministers, or anything else we apply ourselves to. Anxiety can even harm our relationships. Those around us can suffer when our anxious thoughts make us short-tempered, depressed, or overly sensitive. If we really care about our friends, family, and others we come in contact with, we’ll do our best to walk in peace each day.

God simply desires that we acknowledge our need for Him by promptly bringing all of our concerns to Him in prayer. Our focus then shifts from our unsettling circumstances to our all-powerful God, Who loves us and wants the best for us. In other words- instead of focusing on how big your problems are, look up and focus on what a huge, wonderful, loving Creator you have! Then you’ll see little problems and a big God! As you make a conscious decision to put your trust in the Lord, God’s own indescribable peace will settle over you and quiet your fear. Isaiah puts it this way, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” (Isaiah 26:3) Besides prayer, we can take a note from Raelee. Devoting ourselves to God’s Word can counteract anxiety. Psalm 119:165 says, “Those who love Your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.” As we meditate on God’s faith-building promises, peace and joy spring up inside of us and crowd out anxiety and fear. Sometimes a specific sin is at the root of our anxiety, and can keep us from enjoying the peace that God wants us to have. When this is the case, we haven’t failed until we’ve completely given up trying to cooperate with God’s Spirit to become all that He created us to be.

I recall awhile back I was sitting in my car and the Holy Spirit lovingly told me that I cannot both obey and disobey God at the same time. Partial obedience is STILL disobedience. I wasn’t giving God control. I wasn’t giving him my anxiety and fears and hurts but was still expecting His promises of peace and love and comfort and joy. It doesn’t work that way. You either have faith or you don’t. There’s no such thing as half-faith. So today I had a choice. Did I want to hold everything on my own shoulders like I did yesterday (and consequently passed out) or did I want to let go and let God? I walked into the silent court room and sat on the bench next to my attorney and in my mind I said, “I can do this. I can do this. I CAN DO THIS. Don’t cry. DONT CRY. YOU’RE STRONG. WARRIOR WOMAN. I can. I CAN do this. Stop….nope…not going to cry. Not gonna do it….” This process continued for the better part of a half hour. Finally the judge called our attorneys up to the stand and my adrenaline started pumping. I got hot all over. I was trying so hard to be brave but I felt the fear gripping my chest and the tears welling in my eyes. Suddenly a song that my friend wrote started playing in my head. It is a song written in Gods perspective to us. The lyrics are so comforting. It talks about how God will stick by our side. He will help us through the night. He will be with us. We will be forever His child. This song played over and over and over in my head until our first recess. During that recess I called my friend Marco who wrote the song and thanked him for it. Subconsciously, it had pointed me back to Christ instead of looking within for strength. He reminded me that God was with me in that court room and I wasn’t alone. He told me that God’s angels were fighting by my side and I can rest in Him. I walked back into the court room and for the first time since I had been in court, I prayed. I asked God to come in and take my fears and anxiety and be my strength. I let go and let God.

The rest is history. I was still an emotional wreck but I was strong. And the judge ruled overwhelmingly in my favor. God had already fought the battle for me. It was amazing.

Just before the Savior went to the cross, He gave His disciples a priceless gift. In John 14:27 Jesus says: “I am leaving you with a gift: peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Our Savior has left us with an unshakable peace which will sustain us in the most difficult times. The apostle Paul confirms this when he says in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, “May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.” Let these words from the Savior encourage your heart today: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34) God bless y’all.

Written by Whitney Wells

You Make Me Brave

shutterstock_17831977My heart was elated as I stood in the middle of two blooms. One an EG alumni. Another bloom at 22 weeks pregnant. Our arms were wrapped around each other as we swayed back and forth during the worship at Pink Impact. We sang the words together along with at least four thousand other ladies in the sanctuary and thousands more watching simulcast. Hearts fully engaged. As the words were repeated over and over the picture began to play in my mind. I began to think of how brave and courageous these two precious blooms on each side of me are. Along with every girl that has come and those that are to come to Embrace Grace.

On one side was a mom that has a 3 year old little boy and has walked the path of single parenting, seeking strength, wisdom and guidance from her True Source Jesus. She trusted that He would bring her the man of her dreams when the time was right. She had other relationships before but knew that there was someone out there that was handpicked just for her. She waited. Trusting. Hoping he would find her. She was on a quest. As she was receiving freedom and healing in the purest of ways, God was setting things into motion. He spoke to the man that He had handpicked just for her. A little time passed and she is now engaged and happily planning and preparing for her special wedding day. She has walked the path of bravery and has shown tremendous courage as she went through her pregnancy, newborn stages, and into toddlerhood of her little boy that brings her so much joy. She has learned what it means to truly trust Jesus for everything and seek His will in every decision that she makes. She is a warrior in the mightiest of ways! Her son and my oldest son share the same birthdays, now that’s pretty special in itself! I love them both, mommy and son, with the sweetest love pouring out over them. She says she can feel it.

On the other side of me was a belly beautiful bloom with her tiny bump as she was worshipping God with total abandonment and surrender. She had the sweetest tears as she pressed closer into God’s heart to hear all that He longed to speak to her. She doesn’t know the answers to all the questions that are laying before her, but she trusts the One who has all the answers, as He reveals them to her in the precise moments she needs to hear them. She is learning to replace her fear with faith as she steps into the unknown and believes that Jesus is always right beside her and never leaves her side. She is learning what love looks like from a heavenly Daddy that is crazy about her. She has experienced transformation from caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. She is spreading her wings and flying free in the wind. She is brave in the most remarkable of ways. Her story, her path has not been an easy one, but she is walking victoriously through the fight and is truly a hero in my eyes forever! She has etched her place upon my heart and I will forever love and treasure her!

Then my heart began to search for the two precious new blooms we had just met at our Pink Impact booth. They were somewhere in the sanctuary amidst all the other ladies in their seats. One bloom is 4 weeks and 3 days, the other 11 weeks. They both had their share of tears and moments of how is all this going to work out? They came at separate times during the conference and we were able to share all about Embrace Grace. How they have found the love and grace that will flood their hearts and bring so much life and encouragement as they walk this path of their pregnancy. They are not ever alone. We are locking arms with them. They are BRAVE! The very next night a God wink happened. He set up a moment where they both were able to meet in the hall and give each other hugs and even get a quick pic together. They know they will be embraced by an enormous amount of support as they embark upon this new journey set before them.

You are Brave. You are brave. I kept hearing this over and over for them.

Brave is known as exhibiting courage and showing courageous endurance.

Kari Jobe and the worship team began to sing the chorus to this song as the first 2 blooms (mentioned above) and I were fully engaged in the heart of worship. Let the words sink in as you read them.

You Make Me Brave by Bethel

As Your love, in wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us You are not against us
Champion of Heaven
You made a way for all to enter in

I have heard You calling my name
I have heard the song of love that You sing
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore
Into Your grace Into Your grace

You make me brave You make me brave

You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way
You make me brave You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made

A vision I have seen before is our Embrace Grace Team standing on the shore with arms linked one by one as EG alumni’s and new blooms with baby bumps began to join. An Enlarging Embrace. Going Beyond. The line stretched for miles and miles across the shore overlooking the waves. Our feet in the sand, the wind in our face, together we were making an impact for the world to see.

& then the vision grew beyond…

As the words to the song were echoed in beautiful melodies and voices… First we sang the song Ocean- and then You make me Brave…the new vision that I had at this Pink Impact 2014 as the 2 blooms were on each side of me and we swayed back and forth was this: He is calling us out beyond the shore and our Embrace Grace Team along with alumni, blooms and babies began to take steps further into the water. Waves were crashing over us, but we were not fearful. We were brave. No matter the storms. The wind causes the waves to rise. The Holy Spirit is rising us up and creating a stirring within the hearts across the nation. Waves of love. Waves of grace. You make us brave. I saw us taking steps further into the water. Beyond the shore into the waves. No fear. Only faith. Faith rising up as we step out into the unknown. Many, many, many more churches across the nation are going to join in and link arms together with us. Connections are being made. Together we will Embrace the mommies and babies. They will no longer feel alone, lost or scared. They will feel the arms of Jesus along with us as we link arms across the nations. Stretching miles upon miles beyond the shore. We are BRAVE!

Written by Salina Duffy