by Dawn Smiling 

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  Mathew 10:29-31 NIV

I am approaching week three at the nutritional class at Grace.  I want to share how exciting these classes have been.  Let me begin by sharing the turnout is amazing.  It is a wonderful feeling to see so many Grace family brothers and sisters who are seeking better health together.  The best part of class last week is I learned what body type I am.  We learned there are three specific body type categories that we fall into.

Let’s see if you can guess who you are.  The Ectomorph body type has a skinny appearance and a high metabolism that is often hungry with little weight gain.  The mesomorph body type can easily build lean muscle with weight training while maintaining low body fat.  Now guess who I am?  Last but not least is the endomorph body type which has a slow metabolism, a hard time dropping weight, and appears heavier in appearance.  Praise God, I am an endomorph.  Of course, I asked God why I was blessed with the “special” body type that requires so much work to get back to my slim self.  One of the great things I learned is God did not intend for us to look alike.  We are not a one size fits all, but we all have the responsibility to be our best self in the eyes of our heavenly Father.  So, I am a child of God who happens to have an endomorph body type.  It is so wonderful to put a name to the face.  Now, what do I do about it? 

We have become fascinated with beauty.  Advertisers spend millions of dollars to promote beauty.  Women spend a great deal of money on makeup, fashionable clothing, and jewelry.  Plastic surgeons make millions nipping, tucking, and reshaping.  But what is the true beauty of a woman?  What makes us genuinely attractive?  Many of us may not admit it, but we do not feel attractive because we do not fit a certain image.  But God crafted each of us specifically and it is up to us to take care of the body He gave us.  It is so comforting to know I don’t have to look like a TV commercial to be beautiful.  I don’t have to look 21 forever.  I can grow gracefully in God and improve my appearance not because of society’s standards, but because God intends for me to be my personal best in my skin.

As women, God wants us to see ourselves the way He sees us.  God wants us to see he designed us from our mother’s womb.  He graced us with self-confidence if we tap into it, and He wants us to have a healthy mind, body and spirit.  When God looks at you, He sees beauty and strength of a loving woman who has the confidence to allow Him to help you reach your personal goals.

Yes, I am an endomorph.  This means that my diet has to be specifically designed in order for me to see success, and I have to move more than the ectomorph and the mesomorph body types.  But I am thrilled that one is never too old to embrace new challenges.  This is one challenge I embrace.  I want to look at myself one day and see exactly what my heavenly Father sees. 

Do you see what God sees in you?

God Bless You,

Dawn Smiling, the proud endomorph

 

Dawn SmilingDawn Smiling enjoys volunteering at Grace Family Church as a prayer counselor, part of the soul care ministry, and as a table leader for Beautiful Monday Nights. 

by Debbie Altman 

“Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!  I would fly away and be at rest–I would flee far away and stay in the desert, I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”  Psalm 55:6-8

Can you believe this verse is in the Bible?  It’s one of my favorite verses because I’ve felt that way before…well, quite often actually!  I want to fly away, or run away, and I can’t believe someone in the Bible talks about it!  How about you?  Don’t you just want to run away sometimes from screaming children, screaming bosses and screaming culture?  From the pressures of relationships and responsibilities?

“From the ends of the earth I will cry out to you…when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”   Psalm 61:2

“Your love, O Lord reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies, your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep…How priceless is your unfailing love!  Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.”  Psalm 36: 5-7

Usually, we can’t actually run away, but I want to encourage you to run away to the Lord as your refuge from the storms, as your hiding place.  Run to the shadow of His wings.  It is such a comforting place, and He longs for us to do it!  

Besides the time I may have with God reading His Words to me from the Bible, or praying, I have made it a habit as often as I can, for around fifteen minutes in the late afternoon; of going to my room, closing the door, closing my eyes, putting my feet up, and just resting in God.  I release all of the cares of that day…so far!  I let God hold me, encourage me, speak to me, and tell me He loves me.  I feel the strength of His arms..I get a hug from God!  He can’t do these things if I never sit down long enough! It nourishes my body, soul and spirit, and recharges me for the rest of the day! 

So, whenever you just feel like “running away”… do it!  Take a few minutes away from all the noise in your life and run to God.  You may have to run into the bathroom, or walk outside, or even go to your car!  Susannah Wesley lived in the 17th century and was the  mother of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist Church.  She home-schooled her 10 children, much of the time in the absence of her husband.  (And let us not forget there were no electric stoves, refrigerators, or washers; nor any frozen chicken nuggets to pop in the microwave!)  When Susannah needed to run to God, she is known to have sat on the stool in the corner of her kitchen with her apron flung over her head!  Her children knew to not bother mama during this time.  I love it!  Whatever it takes. 

So…run away girls!  But run TO the One who has the most to offer us. 

debbieDebbie is the wife of Pastor Craig Altman, and together, they founded Grace Family Church 18 years ago.  She is a former RN and mother of a 27 year old married daughter and 26 year old son.  She is also known as “Nona” to her precious granddaughter. Debbie enjoys family, reading, the beach, and is inappropriately competitive at board games. 

by Renee Scott 

In just two weeks, I will run my third half marathon. Even with two half’s under my belt, the thought of running 13.1 miles can be overwhelming. Training during this time of year is great because the weather is amazing but it’s still a whole lot of running.

My driving force in making the decision is the fact that I know how great it feels to cross the finish line. I vividly remember my first 5K in 2005. My husband patiently waited in the warmth of the September sun for me to cross the finish line. It took so long, he wondered if I would finish the race. Wheelchairs and mothers with strollers were sailing across the finish line and I was nowhere in sight. When I rounded the corner in the final stretch of the race, I took comfort in hearing his cheers and seeing the smile on my daughter’s face. My second wind kicked in and I crossed the finish line as if I were an Olympic track star. Immediately, I forgot the burning calves, abdominal cramps and sore feet. It didn’t concern me that I ended near the back of the pack, all that mattered was that I crossed the finish line.

The tremendous joy of completing the race and accomplishing my goal is the inspiration that drives me during my training. No matter what obstacles come my way over the thirteen mile trek, my determination will propel me.

With each passing day, we move closer to Easter Sunday.  A time when we remember the passion of Christ and the sacrifice He made for humanity.  A time when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He knew the outcome of His race! Passion and desire to fulfill God’s will, allowed Him to surrender and submit to the intense challenges of His torturous death. Let’s remember that Christ stayed focused on the goal and crossed the finish line in a glorious and priestly way.  In your own life, there is a goal set and a finish line to cross. There are challenges you will have to endure to get to the place of maturity and wisdom that Christ wants for you!

How can we encourage you to finish the race? Share your comments below! 

 

Renee ScottRenee Scott is co-founder of the popular blog, www.doubleportioninspiration.blogspot.com ,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 Leslee Stewart

Claws out. Teeth sharp. Hair on end. Ready to fight. This past week a new side of me came out in full force. Her name is Mama Bear and she is not to be messed with. Ever.

I’ve heard about the Mama Bear Effect from other mothers. When her cubs (kids) are threatened, whoa, Nellie! Watch out! She’s on the attack!

This past week, my son came home from his baseball game. Happy about the team’s win, he shared play-by-play how they sealed the victory. Then in passing he said, “Oh, and so-and-so told me that his parents don’t like me.” Then he bounced off to his room to get ready for bed.

“Not like you?!” I immediately thought? “My precious cub…I mean, son?” Surely they had it all wrong.

I followed him into his room. “What do you mean, ‘Not like you?’” I tried asking it without too much steam pouring out from my ears.

“Oh, he said they just think I act too crazy or something,” he said, literally shrugging his shoulders from not caring (or understanding, or both).

I kissed him good night and got out of his room as fast as I could. As soon as I shut his door, hot tears poured down my face. I was M-A-D!! I began replaying over and over in my head what I was going to say to that boy’s mother at the next game. She wouldn’t know what to do with the scraps I was going to make of her!

My anger then moved into fear. Would my son always struggle to make friends? Was life always going to be hard socially for him? Why couldn’t he have some “explainable” reason for his behavior instead of just being a very passionate and rigid personality? Will people always judge him at face value instead of really getting to know him? Should I pull him out of school and keep him home to protect him from the pain of others’ opinions?

Before I knew it, I was a hot mess of tears and snot. Not sure how to get myself out of the emotional tailspin I’d gotten myself into, I went to my room to fall into bed. But before I could cry myself to sleep, I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit tell me to get up and get my bible.

God instantly led me to Psalm 4:1-5, 8:

Answer me when I call to you.
O God who declares me innocent.
Free me from my troubles.
Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people ruin my reputation?
How long will you make groundless accusations?
How long will you continue your lies?

You can be sure of this:
The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
The Lord will answer when I call to him.

Don’t sin by letting anger control you.
Think about it overnight and remain silent.
Offer sacrifices in the right spirit, and trust the Lord.

In peace will I lie down and sleep,
For you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

As I read through these verses, I felt the peace of the Holy Spirit speak to me to let God be my son’s defender.

There will be circumstances time and again when my Mama Bear wants to growl, roar and fight over gossip, hurtful behavior and assumptions made about my son.

My job isn’t to constantly defend him, but to allow God to reveal his truth about my son’s heart through his actions, and mine. I also recognized I need to allow my son to see that his confidence and self-worth doesn’t come from the opinion of others, but rather it comes solely from the Lord.

After reading the verses and praying about it, I realized there won’t be a showdown at the next ballgame. Instead, I’m going to keep my words to myself, forgive the other family, extend grace and relax. (Deep breath…..)

So, simmer down, Mama Bear. Your Papa Bear – God the Father – has got this covered.

 

lesLeslee Stewart is a wife, stay-at-home mom of two boys and former communications executive. She and her husband love the adventure of parenting and sharing their journey with others. When she’s not cheering her boys on at the ball field, you can find her in the aisles of HomeGoods adding to her throw pillow addiction. She loves cheap jewelry,  junky old furniture and can sing all the parts of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  

by Becca Christensen

A few months back I was having a conversation with a friend/coworker about dating. We’re in really different seasons of life. She’s a single mom. I’ve never been married or had kids. We were both in the beginning stages of dating someone new. The first couple weeks are always exciting and so I was pressing her for more info.

In the midst of getting the scoop on her new man she said something that’s stuck with me. Having made an effort early on to have open conversations about her standards and values, she said, ‘I told him – this is my story, but I’m not requiring it to be yours’.

I can’t even begin to unpack the wisdom in that one sentence. Flash forward and I’m sitting around a dinner table with 3 girlfriends. As usual the conversation of guys comes up. One friend says, ‘I was interested in him but he wanted someone who had grown up like him’. This friend had experienced what I would venture to say many newer Christians have, the unfair expectations of someone who grew up in a Christian home.

Now, stick with me here.

Even though the premise of Christianity is grace, we Christians aren’t always so giving. Sometimes we expect everyone and especially those we date to have the same story we do. It’s not only unfair but it can deliver a rather crushing blow to the recipient.

I was fortunate to grow up in a Christian home. If there’s one thing my parents modeled it was to keep God first. I watched carefully as they did that in their relationship, Dad’s career, our home, etc. I had every opportunity to get it right. However, I’ve shared previously my testimony involved a few years of really searching on my own, away from those teachings.

I’m thankful for that rocky patch in my faith because having needed a lot of grace when I made my way back – it’s easier for me to extend it. It’s my story and I don’t expect it to be yours. Maybe you didn’t have to take a vacation from your faith in college to realize it’s the only way to find true joy. Maybe you didn’t go to church a day of your childhood but you found Christ as an adult. Maybe you’re still trying to figure it out, that’s ok too.

What I would say isn’t ok is expecting other people to have your story.

This isn’t my criticism of that boy who didn’t date my friend. Obviously I got one side of that story so I would never judge his heart. That concept stayed on my mind after the conversation. Without having the words my encourager gave me just months ago, I adopted the concept long ago. Your story doesn’t have to be like mine.

What I look for in a man and in all relationships is this – where are you now? I want people to look at my story and see a girl who needed a savior desperately. I want them to see a girl who found him, loves him, and has given him the highest place of honor in her life – never to be dethroned.

You could look at my life and say I had it easy. Or you could judge my college years when I was straddling the fence trying to figure out what I believed. The truth is, both of those are chapters of my story but neither are the whole story.

Don’t miss out on loving people because you can’t relate to their story. Some of the most amazing people have totally different backgrounds than you. Don’t get hung up on that, you will miss out.

Becca Christensen_croppedBecca Christensen works at Grace Family Church as a Ministry Assistant. She loves to travel, entertain, read, spend time with family, and root on the Indianapolis Colts. In addition to contributing to the Beautiful Blog, Becca leads a table at Beautiful Monday Nights. You can read more about Becca on her  blog, www.beccachristensen.wordpress.com