by Rachel Schenk

Every Sunday I went to church but I had no idea who Jesus was and what He did for me. I just went with my mind preoccupied and I sat there half asleep.

I was in 4th grade when my parents got divorced and up until that moment I had put my entire identity in who they were and what it meant to be a part of that family. With a super athletic dad and a rocket scientist mom, my family seemed perfect, but we were far from it. My identity was shattered, I didn’t know who I was when they got divorced, and so I moved on to putting my identity in friends. I did everything in middle school and high school, from drama, to soccer and track, to student council and chorus. I just wanted to have as many friends as I could to make me feel like I was somebody, like I was worth something. 

I ended up getting into a bad group of friends, where I was drinking all the time… before school, after school, and even during school. I skipped school and my grades fell. My parents moved me an hour away with no car and no way to see my friends. Once again my identity felt shattered.

This pattern of trying to find myself and trying to find a family continued in work, school, and in dating. Then once all of those things ended, like they always do, I again didn’t know who I was. Finally my sister came to me and shared the Gospel with me, she shared a love that I had never heard of or experienced. I searched the Bible looking for answers and looking for life. I stumbled upon  2 Timothy 4:16-17:

 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!  But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.”

I realized then that Jesus was standing by me all along and my identity is found in Him. He was the family I was searching for.  He was the one I was searching for. I gave Jesus my heart, my soul and my mind and I started praying that my life would reflect Acts 20:24. 

Jesus became everything, and He showed me that first I was looking for Him, but also I was looking for a life giving community as opposed to the life taking communities I was used to. I found my community in Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) and at Grace Family Church where I now call home.

This past semester at Beautiful, I was surrounded by women who love the Lord so much and who have overcome the darkness of life by the strength of Jesus. I learned that no matter where someone is, like my mom, or some of my best friends, they too could come to know the Lord.

My mom isn’t a Christian and it is hard knowing that if she died today she wouldn’t go to heaven. She doesn’t support me going into full time ministry with Cru and it breaks my heart, but I know there is hope in Christ and Christ alone.  Something I try to focus on is that no matter what darkness surrounds her, no matter how far from the Lord she seems, I was there once too, and Jesus rescued me from the Lion’s mouth. 

What scriptures have helped you stay strong in your faith when you needed to be rescued? How can you support others who may be struggling with their faith? Please share your thoughts in a comment below!  

by Paige Eavenson

On March 25,2013 I was speaking at our Beautiful Monday night Bible study and I made the statement ,”Our God is a God of surprises. Sometimes, when we least expect it, he touches us with a miracle and our life is changed forever.”

I was speaking about Mary and Elizabeth from the Bible and how God surprised them with pregnancies and sons that literally forever changed their lives and the lives of countless men and women. Little did I know at that time, that God was about to touch my life with a surprise that would truly changed my life.

The next day, after Beautiful Monday night, I took my daughter Corrie to her 8 week well check at the pediatrician. She’s my 4th child and seemed to be healthy so I expected it to be a routine check. When the doctor saw Corrie he immediately noticed she was still a little jaundiced for being 8 weeks old and sent us to the lab for some blood work. I wasn’t thinking much of it and after her blood work I dropped Corrie and one of her sisters off at my moms and I went to Wal Mart for some Easter basket shopping. While in Wal-Mart, I got the call from the pediatrician saying I needed to come back quickly to his office. He had some things to explain to me and he wasn’t comfortable explaining  them over the phone.

The unknowns of what he was about to tell me, instantly made my mommy panic radar kick in and I was faced with a decision; I was either going to give into fear or face what was to come with faith. I wish I could tell you I had this unshakable faith but the truth of it is, I was gripped with fear of the unknown. When I got back to the doctors office the pediatrician said my daughter might possibly have a rare liver disease called Biliary Atresia. This is where her bile ducts from her liver were basically atrophied and she needed a new way for the toxins to drain from her liver out of her body. She would need to be admitted into the hospital to confirm the diagnosis and if it was Biliary Atresia she would have a major surgery where her intestines would be rerouted to give her liver a way to drain the bilirubin and other toxins. If the surgery didn’t help the problem, the next step would be for her to have a liver transplant. WHAT!? I thought to myself, my children are healthy, this can not be happening to my child, to my life. This is not the kind of  “surprise” I was thinking of when I spoke at church just the night before.

After I left the pediatrician that day, I not only cried but I went into action calling a few of my prayer warrior friends and my mom of course. They each prayed and encouraged me which was a tremendous help, but I knew Jesus and I needed to have a meeting about all this.

When trouble strikes and the unknowns of what is to come grip you with fear the only real solution I’ve found is to turn to the scriptures. I have learned over the years to find  scriptures pertaining to my situation and to read and meditate on them to calm my anxious thoughts. The scripture that kept coming to my mind was the scripture that says “God goes before us.” So I Googled what scripture it was that said this and found it in several places in the Bible.

 In particular, it said in  Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)  “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

When I personalized this scripture I was constantly reminded that God was already at the next unknown place in my journey waiting for me to get there. Although I was very afraid, God’s word reminded me I didn’t need to be discouraged. Over the past few months following Corrie’s initial diagnosis, I have had to face (and continue to face) unknowns that at times are just too much to take in all at once. However, as each unknown has come my way, God has graciously reminded me that he has already been there and to stay in faith and He will make the crooked paths straight. By choosing to walk in faith, God has done so many radical things in such a short time on our journey. It’s too much to share here, but I promise you he has radical blessings for you as well if you will stay in faith facing your unknowns.

Corrie and I still have a journey of unknowns ahead of us regarding her health, but I know we are not facing what is to come alone and neither are you. The Lord himself has already gone before us and will be with us each step of the journey.

Are there some unknowns that you are facing that have you in a grip of worry or fear? If so, how has God reminded you that you’re not alone? How can you face your unknowns with faith and confidence knowing that God has gone before you? Please share your thoughts in a comment.

 If you’d like to follow Corrie’s story in more detail feel free to read more about it at www.sincerelypaige.com

Paige Eavenson and her family have been part of Grace Family Church for 13 years. A mom of four, Paige is an avid reader who loves collecting new friends and helping people get connected into small groups. You can learn more about Paige on her blog, www.sincerelypaige.com

by Mary Giraldo

I have been a stay at home mom for close to 7 years now. My son, Joshua , will turn 7 next month and my daughter, Gracie , will turn 5 in June as well.  As I approach Gracie’s Pre-k graduation, I tearfully reflect on the past year and all that has occurred.  I remember at the beginning of 2012 I was overcome with sadness that my baby girl was going to begin pre-school (at the time, it was still 8 months away!) I thought “What am I going to do with the extra 4 hours a day I was now going to have?”

So as I began to pray for God to lead me in this new season of “extra time”, I waited to hear His still small voice.  I have a picture in my living room that says, “Make time for the quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud.” Amidst the chaos of life, I am mindful to have my quiet moments with Him seeking to hear His voice, and I am so grateful when those moments happen. 

I remember a few years ago my husband and I had a conversation about what I planned to do when both kids were in school.  At the time I laughed, and I was just trying to make it through the day with a preschooler and toddler, without losing my mind!  He mentioned me going back to school and I quickly dismissed that…after all, how could I even think about spending money on myself when we didn’t even have college funds set up for the kids? And the only reason I would return to school would be to get my degree in Christian Counseling. I didn’t think it was possible! I would not only have to finish my Bachelor’s degree but I would also have to get a Master’s. At that time, I didn’t even think about attending school for four more years, especially with two young children!  My husband told me, “Think about it, it’s an investment.” After much thought, I realized that he was right…I started to think of the “big picture”.

God’s big picture was the investment in not only in my life, but the lives of others.  But this was just a dream, a dream that I would tuck away until perhaps the children were a lot older.  At that time, my reality involved two little ones who needed their mother to focus on them and their dreams. But, my dreams turned into a reality.

As I mentioned earlier, I prayed for God to lead me in my upcoming “extra time.” Well, He did, and He led me straight to Trinity College-a Christian College in New Port Richey-and they have a program for adults to pursue their Bachelors’ in Christian Counseling.  I am now 7 weeks away from completing my first year at Trinity, and when I look back at this past year I stand in awe of His faithfulness.  There were many tears, lots of self-doubt  and many moments of guilt as I struggled learning to balance being a wife, a mother, and a student; but God reminded me that He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Eph 3:20).  We serve a faithful God; even in our unfaithfulness He remains faithful.  I still find myself smiling every time I approach the entrance to Trinity College and I am thankful for the testimony I give my children that God most certainly works all things for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).  In His faithfulness, I will continue to say to Him, “You lead, I’ll follow.”  And lucky for us, our Father is a “big picture” type of guy! 

So many exciting things are happening in the Beautiful Ministry, especially on our blog! We now have our very own YouTube channel that will feature video blogs from our beautiful writers! We are blessed that our beautiful writers are letting us view their stories from a different perspective! 

Below is our FIRST video blog, by Leslee Stewart! Click on the player below to watch! You can also click on the YouTube button (bottom right of the video) to view the video on YouTube! We hope you are blessed by our first video blog, just as much as we are! 

By Leslee Stewart

 

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Leslee Stewart oversees small groups for GFC Beautiful. She is a wife, stay-at-home mom of two boys and former communications executive. She openly admits she owns too many throw pillows, loves junky old furniture and can sing all the parts of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

On Monday, May 13th, the Grace Family Church sanctuary was filled with women for a Beautiful Girls Night Out!  The night included new connections, encouragement and the truth that we are more beautiful than we think and God loves us more than we know.  

 

 

 

 

Inspired by a blog excerpt from Ann Voskamp, Kristin Bonham, Toni Batista, Dani Catherine, Eva Cruz, Amanda Corbin and Dawn Smiling spoke a powerful message of how God loves His daughters with His Honor, His Defense, His Words, His Grace, and His Regard.

Click on the player below to watch.

 

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If you are looking to connect with other women at Grace Family Church, our Beautiful Summer Groups will start the first week in June.  To see a list of studies and get more information, click here or email beautiful@gfconline.com.