All month we’ve featured articles by the different speakers from this year’s A Beautiful Weekend. While dynamic speakers are part of the retreat experience, one of our favorite parts is the testimonies we receive from attendees. Many women walk away from their Beautiful Weekend changed, healed and set free from hurts in their past.

To wrap up our month, we wanted to share a few of the testimonies we received from this year’s weekend. In Rev. 12:11 it says, “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” God loves it when we share what He’s done for us. Testimonies are a powerful reminder of God’s work in our lives. Testimonies bring hope to others who are struggling. Testimonies are proof that God answers prayers. As you read through these testimonies, may they give you strength and encouragement.

“This weekend God pounded into my head that I am loved and valuable BECAUSE of the things I have endured and I am called to use those things to minister to other women.”

“I came here with no hope, extremely guilty, very sad, empty with no direction. But God spoke to me and filled me with hope. I have a fear of being alone and going on in life with my three kids by myself. But God spoke to me and assured me that He was not leaving me alone.”

“I came to make friends. God has done that, exceedingly, abundantly, more than I expected. I prayed He would put me with the right roommates. They were awesome! We bonded immediately and got along very well. I met some ladies my age. God blessed me in a major way.”

“I did not want to attend the retreat, but my good friend encouraged me. After losing my mother two weeks ago, I was emotionally ready for a change. Spiritually the Lord was wooing me to find His peace. I found it! Thanks be to the Lord Jesus for wonderful, amazing roommates and bringing me greater peace and joy.”

“This weekend has taught me to be part of Godly beautiful women and to be able to share my life’s struggles with them.”

“I was really questioning coming, but I am just so happy that I did. I’ve bonded with some beautiful women and was able to share my testimony. So much healing has started here, relating to sexual abuse from my past, and I can’t even express in words my experience. This whole event is just truly a beautiful work of God.”

“This has been one of the most awesome experiences of my life.”

“This Beautiful Weekend has transformed me. I now realize the purpose of knowing my “ugly” before I can authentically accept my God-given Beautiful! Thank you!”

Has God done something beautiful in your life that you’d like others to know about? We’d love to hear from you! Send us an email at beautiful@gfconline.com and tell us your story.

Also, on Monday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m., we will have a Beautiful Christmas Celebration. This event is open to all women of Grace Family Church. Join us for an evening of food, fellowship, worship and testimonies as we celebrate the Christmas season together.

 

by Sharon Tubbs

My grandmother’s quilts were sewn together with old cloth scraps. Individually, those scraps were useless. But woven together they had a greater purpose, a story to tell. The back of Big Mama’s quilt was always less detailed than the front tapestry, yet it was just as crucial. It covered up all the raggedy edges. It hid the frayed ends of thread that no one should see.

Like Big Mama’s quilt, we need covering, too. As women, we naturally yearn to be covered. We put on makeup to hide our wrinkles and pimples and scars. We buy clothes that hide our bulges or that give us a little lift here and there. We cover ourselves on the inside, as well. We cover our pain with fake smiles. We cover disappointments and hurts with hardened hearts. We cover the “scraps” of our past—our mistakes, rejections, abuse—with pretense, with hushed mouths, lies, and deceit.

Yet, it’s never enough. Our makeup wears off. Our bulges bulge out. Frustration eventually reveals our true feelings. The security we feel through a job or a flush bank account can fade with a layoff notice. Even the people in our lives designed to provide cover—our husbands and parents—inevitably fall short. As mothers, we want desperately to cover our children, but we’ll make mistakes; we’ll be powerless to shield them from the disappointments and corruption of this world. Constantly, we’re exposed—our children are exposed—and our spirits cry out for someone or something to be the security we long for.

The only guaranteed covering is God, Himself. Only He can protect and cover our lives completely.

In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve ate from the “tree of knowledge of good and evil,” they became aware of their nakedness and covered themselves with fig leaves. Then, in verse 21, the Bible says: For Adam also and for his wife the Lord God made long coats (tunics) of skins and clothed them. (AMP)

Did you get that? God replaced the flimsy peek-a-boo fig leaf aprons that Adam and Eve made with leather tunics. Despite their disobedience, God had mercy on them and offered a better covering, one more suitable and complete.

He covers us in the same way, no matter our missteps. In Psalm 91, the Bible tells us how to get under the covering of God: Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. –Psalm 91:1

We “dwell” in God through consistent prayer and meditation, through reading the Bible, and making decisions based on His will. Too often, we “visit” God by going to church once a week. Church is good, but dwelling involves a deeper, daily relationship.

According to Psalm 91, the “coverage” benefits for dwellers are quite high. For dwellers, God promises…

To be our refuge and fortress of protection:

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” –v. 2 (NKJV)

To deliver us from troubled situations:

For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. –v. 3 (NLT)

To take away our fears and doubts:

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. –v. 5-6 (NLT)

To separate us from destruction all around us:

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you. Only a spectator shall you be (yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High) as you witness the reward of the wicked. –v. 7-8 (AMP)

To empower us for victory and to do His will:

You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! –v. 13 (NLT)

The simple question is: Whose covering do you seek—God’s or man’s?

As a child, Big Mama’s quilts gave me a warmth that blocked out the winter’s cold and allowed peaceful rest. Today she’s 102 years old, and my family treasures those old quilts. Yet, we know she and my grandfather left something more precious. They taught their children to believe in Jesus Christ. I’m so glad they did, because no man-made quilt—not even one sewn with a grandmother’s love—can compare to God’s handiwork.  From His throne in heaven, God can weave a beautiful patchwork of our lives, and He’ll cover us with His mighty wings of protection—if only we’d let Him.

 

Sharon Tubbs is an inspirational speaker, freelance editor and writer, and a Christian author whose work includes the novel “Living in the Pink,” the self-help book “Milk & Honey: 10 Principles to Embracing Your Promised Land,” and various magazine articles and devotionals. A journalist by trade, she worked as a professional newspaper editor and reporter in the Tampa Bay area for 16 years before recently shifting her focus to self-employment. Sharon is a member of Grace Family Church where she has participated in the Women’s Ministry, leading small groups and teaching God’s Word. As she continually strives to reach her potential in Christ, Sharon’s joy comes from inspiring others to do the same by truly seeking and knowing Him. 

by Sharon Tubbs

I remember the cold winter nights growing up in Indiana. My sister and I would snuggle together beneath the covers. We needed a sheet, a bedspread and one of my grandmother’s quilts. Big Mama—that’s what we called my grandmother—she’d sit in her rocking chair in Uniontown, Alabama, with scraps from old worn-out clothes. She cut the scraps, shaping them just-so, and sewed them together to make a beautiful one-of-a-kind tapestry for the front of a quilt.

I speak of Big Mama’s quilt because the tapestries she created resemble what God wants to do with our lives. We each have our own scraps, life’s scraps. They’re those things that we’ve done or that were done to us that make us ashamed or afraid—adultery, poverty, divorce, rejection, bitterness, teenage motherhood, abortion, sexual abuse…

The thing is, we don’t like to talk about our scraps—not out loud, and especially not at church.

Yet women have always had scraps, even those in the Bible. In the Old Testament, Naomi lived in bitterness because her husband and two sons died, leaving her a poor widow. For food, her daughter-in-law Ruth picked up barley grains that fell from the sacks of harvesters in the fields. Today, we might liken it to rummaging in the garbage for good food that others have thrown away. Rahab was another “scrappy” woman in the Bible. She lived in the enemy territory of Jericho but helped hide the Israelites on a spy mission there. Throughout town, she was also known prostitute.

Here’s the good part about their stories. As Ruth gleaned in the fields she was noticed by Boaz, who eventually became her husband and provided for her and Naomi. Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed, who fathered Jesse, who father the great King David, who was the ancestor of Jesus Christ. Talk about a life turnaround! Speaking of Boaz, guess who is mother was? Rahab—the prostitute. As it turns out, the Israelites spared her life when they conquered Jericho. She married and had a son of her own. Today, you’ll find Rahab’s name mentioned in the New Testament in the ancestral line of Jesus.

These women’s stories are so uplifting because the Bible shows us, not only the good that sprang forth from them, but also the tarnished scraps of their pasts. We get to see how far God brought them from—how far He can bring us! He took Rahab from harlot to heroine. He took Ruth and once-bitter Naomi from poverty to prosperity. He took life circumstances that seemed to be useless, that these women likely wished had never happened, and like Big Mama’s scraps, he sewed them into a greater patchwork. God’s patchwork included His love, power, and deliverance. Left alone, their scraps might have brought condemnation. In God’s hands, scraps become tools of restoration.

What are the scraps of your life? What secrets are you holding onto, hoping that others don’t find out? Through God’s power, you can overcome all of those negative emotions and feelings.

Here’s how…

  1. Don’t pretend like your scraps don’t exist. They do, and you won’t forget them. If you don’t acknowledge your scraps, the devil will use them to make you feel ashamed, unworthy, incapable, fearful, or doubtful. He’ll stop you from reaching God’s full potential for your life.
  2. Seek counsel and support from trusted loved ones, from a group, or counselor.
  3. Trust in God’s Word. He can redeem you—if you surrender and let Him. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.  –Psalm 107:1-2
  4. Make your scraps part of your “quilt,” your story, as God leads you. This doesn’t mean telling your business to the world. It simply means using wisdom and not being afraid to let God use you to help others with similar hurts and pains.

When you give your scraps to God, you’ll see that He has a great purpose for your life—and you have a wonderful testimony!

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death.” –Revelation 12:11

 

Sharon Tubbs is an inspirational speaker, freelance editor and writer, and a Christian author whose work includes the novel “Living in the Pink,” the self-help book “Milk & Honey: 10 Principles to Embracing Your Promised Land,” and various magazine articles and devotionals. A journalist by trade, she worked as a professional newspaper editor and reporter in the Tampa Bay area for 16 years before recently shifting her focus to self-employment. Sharon is a member of Grace Family Church where she has participated in the Women’s Ministry, leading small groups and teaching God’s Word. As she continually strives to reach her potential in Christ, Sharon’s joy comes from inspiring others to do the same by truly seeking and knowing Him.

by Loryn Smith

“The Christian Gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me.  This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time.  It undermines both swaggering and sniveling.  I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone.  I do not think more of myself nor less of myself.  Instead, I think of myself less.”   Tim Keller, The Reason for God

Culture defines me by my appearance…by my looks, by my “outside.”  This leaves me with a culturally acceptable, but false self-view.  Who I am is not how I look.  Who I am is not what I “do.”  To be defined by my performance puts my identify at consistent risk…everything I do/don’t do, every physical change redefines me.  If I gain five pounds, am I less acceptable?  If I have new wrinkles, am I less valuable?  If I don’t have a “power” career, am I less than those around me?  How about if I am “just” a mom?

I can also define myself by my relationships:  Who I am depends on others’ acceptance of me.  Now I’m on a slippery slope—real life says that at some point someone will be upset with me.  Do I lose who I am?  This approach holds others responsible to be my own personal mirror, defining who I am.  This is not only risky for me, but it is also a burden too heavy for others to carry.  The result is that pleasure, approval, reputation, and power become addictive and my life-pursuit.

To find an accurate definition of who I am I must know my “God-story.”  Knowing Him and what He has done in my life allows me to heal from past traumas and pain and provides a mirror that will show a true reflection of my image.  It is about using God’s mirror—the reflection that says, “I am forgiven, accepted, beautiful and have been gifted with Christ’s perfect record and reputation;” “It is not who I am, it is who He is in and through me.”  When I use God’s mirror, the reflection is beautiful because I see myself as God sees me:  Covered in the Blood of Jesus and immensely valuable, cherished, and having a place to belong.  Who I am = Who I am because of Who He is!

 

Loryn Smith is the mom of 14 children, 9 grandchildren, and is the director of Woven Basket, a Christian adoption agency. She is passionate about the call in James 1:27 to care for widows and orphans, and loves to help Christians find their role in fulfilling this call. Loryn loves to travel, read and spend rare alone time with her husband, Thad.

by Renee Scott

After a period of time the romantic notions that created beautiful sparks in the beginning of a relationship may start to fade.  In case you haven’t noticed, marriage isn’t what you see on television.   It’s a wonderful love affair between two people that takes hard work and dedication.  It’s a promise that is a CHOICE!  You might not always feel like loving the other person, but it’s a pledge that you’ve made until death separates you.  After 16+ years of marriage, two kids, four houses, and a lot of tears and laughs, I understand that marriage is a wonderful partnership when Christ is the center.

Here are some key points to remember:

Understand your purpose in the marital relationship. (Genesis 1:26-28 & Genesis 2:18, 21-22)

When man and woman were created in God’s image, he was very specific in their purpose.  In union together, he commanded them to:

  • Be fruitful  & multiply
  • Reign over every living thing

God specifically created woman to be a helper.   She was intentionally formed and taken from Adam’s rib.  Not from his head to rule over him, not from his foot to step all over him, but from a place of closeness to his heart. 

Love is only right by God’s definition. (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

This passage of scripture tells us exactly what love is.  Have you practiced any of these lately? 

  • Love suffers long & kind. (What does that mean?)
    • Patient endurance under provocation/aggravation.
    • Kind-active goodness going forth in the interests of others.
  • Doesn’t envy.
    • It’s not jealous, bitter, greedy or resentful.
  • Does not parade itself, is not puffed up.
    • What you have belongs to God.  They are bestowed upon us from Him.
  • Love does not behave rudely.
    • If you are acting in love, you will be courteous & considerate.
  • Love isn’t selfish.
    • Will assist others.
  • Love thinks no evil.
    • Thinks the best of people.
  • Love does not rejoice in sin but rejoices in truth.
  • Bears (covers) all things.
    • Patient endurance in ALL things.
  • Love believes all things.

Even though you might not like him, pray for him. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

You might find yourself angry, resentful, and bitter about past hurts.  Be mindful that feeling angry is not a sin.  However, anything that breaks fellowship with God or brethren should immediately be made right.  Don’t let it fester and build.  Here are some tips on dealing with anger:

  • Pray
  • Discuss the pain point (quickly)
  • Listen to your spouse (even if he’s yelling)
  • Don’t respond in anger

Forgiveness is vital in marriage.  Focus your prayers on how God can strengthen and guide you in the difficult situation.  Ask God to allow you to see your spouse through the eyes of Christ.  Reconciliation can only be found through Christ.  Not in your own actions.  Prayer and belief in God’s ability will be the key.

You have an awesome ability to minister to your husband. (I Corinthians 7:16 & Ephesians 6:12)

Our homes are under spiritual attack.  Demons smell brokenness in our marriages like sharks smell blood in the water.  Satan also takes advantage of our weakened souls.  Understand the power that lies within you.  Fight for your marriage and exhaust every effort on the journey to reunion with your spouse.  We are victorious together!

RECOMMENDED READING:

  • The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian
  • Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

 

Renee Scott is co-founder of the popular blog, Double Portion Inspiration, where she shares encouragement and inspiration to men and women all over the world.  She’s been a member of Grace Family Church for four years. She loves to run and recently completed her first half marathon. She has been married over 16 years to her husband, Alton, and is a mother of two children.