Excerpt from Daring to Believe by Amy Gray-Cunningham

Excerpt from Daring to Believe by Amy Gray-Cunningham

Daring to Believe


“I have been all things unholy; if God can work through me, he can work through anyone.” —St. Francis of Assisi

THE GROOM AND THE BEST MAN took their places at the front of the hall, and the DJ queued the music. All eyes darted to the back of the room. Dressed in an off-white lace gown with flowers in her hair, Mallory appeared with her father by her side. He wore a smile which lit up his face—a moment forever etched in my mind.

The room had been decorated just as in Mallory’s childhood dreams. The lights were dimmed, and a sweet fragrance of roses

perfumed the air. A spray of white flowers adorned the wedding arch where the couple would speak their vows and cement their life-long commitment with a kiss. But most important of all, the room overflowed with family and friends who came to witness the intimate joining of two precious souls.

Mallory glided by me on the arm of her father looking like a graceful swan streaming through the water. Tears flooded my eyes as I drank in the moment. Mallory’s father—tall, healthy, and full of life—beamed with love and admiration for the little girl who had captured his heart many years ago.

Proudly, David Ensley presented his beloved daughter’s hand in marriage to the second man she’d ever loved. For both David and Mallory, however, this day proved much more special than simply a happy dad offering his daughter’s hand in marriage. For all of us, in fact, it was about savoring a joyful story that could’ve had a different ending, but thankfully didn’t, because of those who dared to believe.

When our new bride, Mallory, was a teenager, her father, David, had been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, which eventually put him in renal failure. Her wedding day most likely wouldn’t have included her father, except that her Aunt Jennifer, desperate for a miracle, had courageously turned to social media.

Jennifer Ensley Scoggins had created a Facebook page, Looking for a Kidney for My Brother David, in hopes of finding a living donor. Neither Jennifer nor their older brother, Randy, were eligible donors, and other family members were not a match. But Jennifer never gave up hope. She believed God would provide a miracle—an angel to help her brother.

Our connection began when Chuck, my husband, casually read Jennifer’s Facebook page aloud to me one evening. Something deep within me stirred and with all my heart, I replied, “I hope someone steps up to help him.”

My life then took a dramatic 180-degree turn when I heard— from out of nowhere—“Amy, that person will be you!”

I had been asking God to use me for His purpose. However, I never thought He’d ask me to do something so outrageous.

On July 6, 2011, I donated a life-saving kidney to David Ensley. It is this fantastic journey that I share with you now.

As an organ donor, I became a perfect match—a 1-in-20 million to be exact—to this man I didn’t even know. Our body types were such a close match that we could have been siblings. As a result, David now requires only a small amount of anti-rejection medication to keep his body from rejecting the new kidney I donated.

I initially decided to write this book to educate people about kidney donation and the process I went through. At the time of my surgery, there weren’t many books written about the procedure, and I just love books! The ones I found were clinical and boring. I wanted to write about my personal journey with the intent of possibly inspiring others to consider becoming living donors, as well.

The book, however, has evolved into something much more than a story about a kidney donation. It has become a testimonial to daring to believe in the impossible and watching for the synchronicities in life leading you to your divine purpose.

Daring to Believe is an inspiring love story. But most importantly, it’s about my ever-growing love affair with God— or “Papa,” as I call Him—and discovering that what I’ve been searching for my entire life was within me all along.

God, Allah, Tao, Source, Adoni, Papa—it doesn’t matter how you refer to the Supreme Being of the Universe. God is not a thing, or a place, or a concept. It’s the breath within each of us that connects us to the All and to one another.

God is accessible in everyone at any time. You’ll find Him in the vagrant on the street or the CEO in the corner office. You’ll recognize Him in the act of holding the door for the person behind you or the hug you give a friend. You may or may not find Him in a church or a synagogue or a mosque or a bar, but you will notice Him in the people who frequent those places.

I grew up as a Christian, and you’ll find many references to the Christian way of life throughout this book. But I beg you, whether you are Christian or a non-Christian—no matter what your thoughts are about that aspect of your life, please continue reading!

My prayer is that this book touches people across all divides and religions. God is all-encompassing no matter the name He’s called!

May you be inspired and Dare to Believe.

(To download the entire excerpt in a pdf, please complete the form below.)

It’s Our Soul That Makes Us Beautiful, Not Our Wrapping

It’s Our Soul That Makes Us Beautiful, Not Our Wrapping

When you look in the mirror what do you see? Do see the unwanted gray peppered throughout in your hair? Or the saddlebags on your hips? Do you see stretch marks or a belly a little chubbier than you prefer?

How many of you think, if I would only lose 10, 20 or even 30 pounds then I would feel better about myself? Or if I were a blonde or a redhead, he would fall in love with me?

Come on, let me see those hands. I see one. Oh, there’s another and another. Thank you, for your honesty!

Like everyone, those negative thoughts have overshadowed my mind many times. In fact, sometimes I think they want permanent residency.

Since turning 40, the weight keeps piling on. It’s hard looking in the mirror at this strange reflection staring back. In my mind, I’m still 20-years old, a size 4 with perky boobs and lean legs. But the image confronting me now is much older, saggy and not as lean- and a little pudgier in some not so flattering places.

Psalm’s says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it well.” Psalm 139:14 ESV

We were created by the Divine Creator Himself as He breathed our souls into our lifeless bodies. Our minds tell us we are only the bodies we see, and we believe the illusions it creates when we compare ourselves to others. But our souls know God’s true creation and praise Him because we “are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

In God’s creation ugliness, darkness or evil doesn’t exist. Our souls are a true reflection of His Divine face. It’s our soul that make us beautiful, not our wrapping.

I believe one day when Jesus returns, God will join our soul and body together. There’ll be no more cellulite, saggy breast, protruding tummies, wrinkles, pimples, cancer, kidney disease or anything else ugly. Our body will reflect God just the way our soul does now.

But until then, God wants us to remember we’re his children, and He loves us just the way we are because He made us. We’re on earth to learn the lessons we need for eternity.

So He gives us the gift of His Holy Spirit and His Voice. He replaces our mindless self-talk with His thoughts and words. All we have to do is ask, and He gives it to us.

If we look into the soul of others, instead of the inadequate packaging around them, then the image of their soul reflects back on us like a mirror, and we see our beauty too. When we give, we always receive. It’s about changing our perspective and acknowledging God’s grace in our life.

It’s not always easy but the more I listen to His voice, instead of my mind, the more secure, loved and cherished I feel.

Thank you, Lord, for your love and faithfulness. Help me to remember I’m Your perfect creation and I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. My soul knows it well and praises You! 


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