Last night, Beautiful kicked off its 2013 spring semester with an expo showcasing all the small groups available for women at Grace Family Church. Over 800 women filled the GFC lobby for fellowship and delicious food.

Many new friendships were formed as ladies mingled and got to know one another.

 

 

This semester, there are over 50 groups just for women, meeting throughout the week both on and off campus. From care and support groups, to Freedom, to Financial Peace Univeristy, to single moms, to weekly Bible studies, there are groups to fit just about any age, interest or season of life.

 

In case you missed the Beautiful Expo, you can still find a group. Just visit gfconline.com/beautiful for more information and to search our small group directory.

Still not sure where to start? Just email us at beautiful@gfconline and we’ll help you get connected.

 

 

by Dani Catherine

About 8 months ago, I kept hearing God tell me, “Depend on ME, more!” I said to God, “But, I do depend on you.” I prayed every day for a few weeks and asked God to show me how I could depend on Him more.

1 Corinthians 10:13 and Ezra 8:23 were on my heart.

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, it says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” And in Ezra 8:23 it says;, “So, we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.”

I knew God was calling me to fast and to become more dependent on Him.

I fasted – only ate vegetables and drank water – and prayed for 21 days. I prayed circles around my life. I made a list of what I was praying for; spiritual growth, for loved ones who needed that seed planted, how I could serve God’s kingdom…and I prayed for a Godly man. I prayed circles around my heart and kept praying for a Godly man. Throughout my fast I felt myself getting weaker physically but growing stronger spiritually. I was tempted to eat things I shouldn’t and was more open to the enemy because I felt weak, but I knew God was faithful. I saw God moving in so many ways. Doors were opening that I probably wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t knee-deep in prayer and His word, or if I was depending on myself rather than God.

My prayers were answered, not right away, but they were answered – in God’s timing. I remember praying, “God show me where you can use me to serve You and Your kingdom.” That prayer led me to the opportunity of serving as a table leader at Beautiful on Monday nights. At leader training, I met Becca, an amazing woman of God who has became a dear friend. And through Becca, I met Daniel, the Godly man I was praying for.

As I look back, what I fasted for was not only to depend on God fully and to have a constant craving for Him, just as my body craves food, but also to learn patience with not only myself, but with God. I would often find myself getting frustrated when prayers weren’t answered right away. But through that fast, God showed me to be patient with Him and reminded me that He is never early or never late…He is always on time. I am thankful for that fast and how God took my prayers and turned them into lessons; I finally learned to be patient. If you’re praying, and you feel like God isn’t answering you, especially right away, remember this: Patience is having faith in Gods timing.

 

Dani Catherine is a social worker by trade. She loves to bake, paint, snap photos and spend time with her loved ones. Dani enjoys leading a table at Beautiful Monday nights and loves to volunteer as much as she can at Grace Family Church.

 

by Renee Scott

I never thought I would fast for 40 days.  When the idea was initially presented to me, I wondered how in the world I would go numerous days with strict food limitations. 

I love God and everything, but 40 days?

I shed away my hesitations and decided to fully commit the time to God.  I had the support of my sister, mom, and girlfriend, Jackie.  They would walk the journey with me.  In my mind there weren’t any expectations except for God to move in a mighty way.  We used the 40 Day Soul Fast book and journal by Cindy Trimm (40 Day Soul Fast link) as a guide through the next 40 days.

I was at a point in my life where I felt my prayers weren’t being answered and God was silent.

I quickly learned that the time of sacrifice had more to do with placing myself in a position to hear God’s voice than it ever had to do with any food limitations.  I decided to take a different approach with my time of fasting.  Instead of having dietary restrictions, I removed influences in my life that hindered the fullness of God. 

No television.  No Facebook.  No secular radio and very little phone usage.

This would be my ransom in a thirst to foster an intimate relationship with Christ.  I wanted to connect with Him in a more intense and passionate way.  He was the lover of my soul and I needed to show Him I was fully committed to our relationship.  Instead of Beyoncé, I played worship music.  Instead of phone conversations in the car, I meditated on God’s gentle whispers.  I was desperate to know His will for my life.  I longed to hear His voice. 

I quickly found out that He is often speaking, the question is, are we listening?

During those 40 days, God revealed His will for my life around day 20.  The experience and time with God was amazing, however, it was a process to get there.  In the beginning, it was a hard journey.  Intense, fiery trials began as soon as I started the fast.  Before healing and restoration could begin, I was forced to deal with some hidden areas of conflict in my life that I didn’t even know existed.  Isaiah 58 was a text of scripture I used as a driving principal.  Here’s a quick excerpt:

3-5 “You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.  You fast, but you swing a mean fist.  The kind of fasting you dowon’t get your prayers off the ground.  Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after:a day to show off humility?  To put on a pious long faceand parade around solemnly in black?  Do you call that fasting,a fast day that I, God, would like?

6-9 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice,get rid of exploitation in the workplace,free the oppressed,cancel debts.  What I’m interested in seeing you do is:sharing your food with the hungry,inviting the homeless poor into your homes,putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,being available to your own families.  Do this and the lights will turn on,and your lives will turn around at once.  Your righteousness will pave your way.  The God of glory will secure your passage.  Then when you pray, God will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’”

On the other side of those 40 days, a writer was birthed, a blog started, and a powerful woman of God blossomed even further!

 

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 is a wife of over 14 years and mother of two children.

by Elaine Morley

As Christians we often talk about prayers, our prayer life, and sometimes even the uncomfortable topic of unanswered prayers.  Is there really such a thing as unanswered prayers?  Or is it just that we didn’t get the answer we asked for, or the answer we thought we deserved, or in the timeframe that was convenient for us? 

Spiritual leaders have a lot of advice on how to be effective in our prayer life.  They tell us to “verbally claim His blessings by speaking them out loud.”  They tell us to “speak His words back to Him by weaving Bible verses into our prayers.”  And they tell us to “say a prayer of thanksgiving to God as if our prayer was already answered.” These are all valid ways to strengthen our prayer life, but I also know that none of them guarantee that God will answer our prayer in our timeline, in the way we want it answered. 

There are numerous Bible verses that relate to our desire to pray to our God and be heard.   But anyone of them taken alone does not tell the whole story.  Psalm 116:1 says, “I love the LORD, because He hears my voice and my supplications.”  Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  These are just two of many verses we can look at, and they all give us insight into what God wants our prayer life to be like, but they don’t spell out a recipe for success to get what we want from God, when we want it, and how we want it.  No, God is too smart for that. 

What I do know is that God wants us to be faithful in our relationship with Him and He wants what is best for us.  Not always what is easiest, or what is pain free, or what fits into our schedule. I am very thankful that I have had many prayers answered by God in the way I hoped they would be answered.  But many of my prayers haven’t been answered the way I wanted, even though they were good, honorable prayers.

So what are we to do when we get a permanent answer we don’t like, or when we’ve been on our knees for years, perhaps decades, asking for something and we haven’t seen the answer yet?  We trust!  We trust that God may be working things behind the scenes getting everything into alignment for His perfect plan.  We trust that He may be preparing us, or someone else, for the answer we are praying for, and that the journey we are on is a necessary part of the preparations.  We trust that God has something even better in mind, something so good we could never even imagine it! We trust that even God’s answer of, “no,” is part of His perfect plan that we may never understand until we are standing face-to-face before Him.  And we trust that He catches every tear and He walks every painful step with us.  In the broken place of “no,” or “not yet,” we can find ourselves closer to God than in the higher place of, “yes,” if we will just trust Him. 

 

Elaine Morley and her husband, Paul, have been married for 20 years and have called Grace Family Church their home for the past seven. She has two wonderful step-children who still live in Minnesota, but visit Florida often. She serves as a Beautiful small group leader and loves the friends she’s made at Grace who help strengthen her walk with God.

by Terri Blanchard

Within the first few days of starting my fast and prayer time with our church, the words, “Come to the table,” kept repeating in mind. I had no idea what they meant nor what I was about to learn from them.  I didn’t understand why God would tell me to come to the table when I was fasting. As usual though, I don’t understand unless I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to me. So I asked.

Then I did a search for scriptures relating to those words. Here are a few that stood out to me:

  • Luke 22:30 “…eat and drink at my table in my kingdom…”
  • John 6:35  “Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me will never hunger; and he that believes in me will never thirst.”
  • Mathew 5:6  “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.”
  • Proverbs 9:5  “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.”
  • Psalm 107:9  “For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

I began to understand; I was to leave my table and come to God’s table. My table consisted of the tangible but His table held the intangible. My table has food to feed my body but His table has food to feed my soul. During my time of fasting, I am to come to Him to be fed.  

At my Father’s table was Jesus calling me beside Him. I felt His presence and I was at peace. On my Father’s table was His Word. By reading His Word my soul was satisfied.  Sitting at my Father’s table, I heard the Holy Spirit gently speaking to me:

Come to the table, arise from the floor,
Cease searching for crumbs, and beg no more.

Come to the table, I’ve prepared a feast,
Just for the taking, to feed even the least.

Come to the table if you hunger and thirst,
Your soul will be filled if you just seek me first.

Come to the table, I’ve given you my Word,
To read and to learn, and grow as you could.

Come to the table, eat and drink freely,
Each day gather strength for that day’s journey.

Come to the table; take my bread and my wine,
Drink of my living water, restoration you’ll find.

Come to the table; bring your scars and your pain,
Love, peace, and joy, you’ll find again.

Come to My table, my child don’t you see,
I’ve been waiting for you, to give you all you need.

 

Terri Owens Blanchard is very happily married to John Blanchard. She is also a mother, a Mimi to her granddaughter, a Mary Kay Consultant, a small group leader to the Military Wives group, and an assistant small group coach. She loves to shop, travel, and shop as she travels! She also enjoys spending time with family, friends and her crazy pets. She can be reached at t.blanchard1@yahoo.com.