by Dawn Smiling

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
Esther 4:16 NIV

It is amazing how new challenges in one’s life brings out new fears.  A new job, a new relationship, a trip to a new place, a new business or a new call from God can bring out anxiety you did not know you had.

Can you imagine how Esther felt when her cousin Mordecai placed the plight, future, and survival of the Israelites in her hands.  He did just that.  It was his words in Esther 4:14 hinting to Esther that everything which prepared her to be in the position she was now in are for “such a time as this?”

tumblr_mul52hxop81rj3ommo1_1280But do we not love the actions of Esther?  She realized what she did not have, but she also realized what she did have.   She refused to let her self-esteem get in the way of helping her people.  Does your self-esteem get in your way of doing, being, going, and having all that God wants for you?  Esther could only go to the King by invitation, and she did not have one.  Yet, she did not let this affect her self-esteem.  She believed she deserved to be where God had placed her.  Do you stop short of what God has for you, what God has called you to do, or who God has said you are because your self-esteem gets low and clouds your vision of how God sees’ you?

If Esther allowed the way she was raised to be a factor, she would never have gained the courage she needed.  She had to leave her past behind and build on where God had placed her.  What was your turning point?  The point where you realized your past is healed, forgiven and covered by the blood of Jesus.  You now have God’s permission to go forth and spread your beauty all over.

Esther took amazing actions.  She focused on the positives and not the negatives.  Is it easier for you to write down your faults instead of your positive traits and beautiful inner qualities?  Esther could not waste time on her flaws, imperfections, and weaknesses.  Make a list of your positive attributes and read it out loud.  If this does not work for you, ask a friend to help you.  The key is to see yourself as God sees you.  Esther did not need the people’s approval, she needed God’s approval.

Esther did not leave her self-esteem to the position she held and the things she acquired.  She asked the people to pray.  Esther elevated her self-esteem through prayer.  She said “if”, meaning just in case this does not work out, God is still God and I am still Esther.  I am still the smart, beautiful, talented, anointed women of God.   I see myself as God sees’ me and that will be enough.

Who does God say you are?

 

Dawn Smiling

 

 

Dawn 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

So it’s Summer, and like me, you might have to pack a suitcase for a trip.  Well, I am a horrible packer.  Its always so hard to know what you are going to need, what the temperature will really be, what you will actually do, what you will feel like wearing, whether you will be bloated and need your “fat” jeans as well as your dressy tight jeans.  And you know that hat you bought to wear on vacation someday but never have? Well, you have to take that just in case, right?  And even if you never exercise, you have to bring your workout clothes because FOR SURE you will have free time on vacation to exercise. And of course us women have to pack the necessities-hair products, face products and our shoes!  So, you get the idea. All that great advice about traveling light and keeping it simple does not work for me when it comes to packing, no matter how hard I try.

And now that I’m older, there is a literal checklist of things I truly NEED to survive. Let’s see…my vitamins, hormones, special pillow for neck, special brace for knee for hiking, ice pack for either one, small pillow for in-between my bony knees, prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses, lens wipes, wrinkle cream, 10x magnifying mirror…I truly can’t leave home without them!! I come with a lot of baggage these days!  Any ladies out there that can relate?

When did I get so needy? Just the thought of it makes me laugh. I was always such a fiercely independent person.  Interestingly, before I was a Christian, one of the reasons I did not want Christ in my life, is because I heard He wanted control, and I didn’t feel I NEEDED anyone else to run my life.  I could handle it on my own, thank you very much.  Ha ha ha ha ha!  Girl was I wrong!  We think, as we get older, we will feel like we have it more together.  But I’ve found, as with my travel needs, the opposite is true.  The older I am and the more life I experience, the more I realize that I am a desperate and needy woman in want of a Savior!  I am in need of the Lord’s mercy, grace, guidance and help. I need Him in my spirit, soul and body.  I need Him in my relationships, my finances, my career, and every part of my life.

So while I wish I could pack a suitcase a little lighter, I will rejoice in my need for Christ because in my need He has shown me His greatness and He has never let me down.  He has carried me and all my baggage. And the more “un-together” I feel, the more I experience His great love for me.

Whatever you are doing this Summer ladies, recognize your need for Jesus.  Lean upon Him, lay your burdens down at His feet.  Allow Him to wrap His big arms around you and fill your need.

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches…”
Phillipians 4:19

deb

 

Debbie is the wife of Pastor Craig Altman, and together, they founded Grace Family Church 20 years ago.  She is a former RN and mother of a 30 year old married daughter, Dara, and 28 year old son, Brent.  She is also known as “Nona” to her 3 precious grandchildren-Sienna is 3 and the twins are 9 months! Debbie enjoys family, reading, the beach, and is inappropriately competitive at board games.

 

by Julie Jaunese

My husband and I were out for breakfast once and when we received our food we bowed our head and thanked God for it.  While we were praying I realized there were several times a week that I forget to pray for my food.  Usually it is in the car as I eat my breakfast bar on the way to work.  That wasn’t anything that I had ever given thought to. Goodness gracious, how ungrateful can I be? I never forget to pray when we sit at a table to eat dinner. I often forget if I am taking a plate and eating in front of the TV by myself. What makes a difference?  Absolutely nothing. It is still food, it is still sustenance provided by God and what He has provided for me.

Matthew-4-4How about you? Have you ever had thoughts about what food should be prayed over before you eat it?   I want to bring a couple of verses into this writing and then bring them together for you.  Matthew 14:19-21 says “Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing.  Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.  And they all ate and were satisfied.” So Jesus even prayed at picnics!  Was that the first thing you thought about? I think Jesus was telling us that no matter what we are eating from veggies and dip to a candy bar, we should give thanks.

How about going a step further? Our food is important to pray for before eating but what about when we eat the word of God?  In Matthew 4:4 it says “But He answered, “It is written, “’ Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that comes from the mouth of God.”’  I have been thinking about this as I pondered writing this. We should remember to pray not just over the food we eat but also the word of God that we take in.  We all sit down and read devotions every day.  Do you think to pray before you read your devotions? Do you think you may get more out of God’s word if you remember to pray before you take it in with your eyes?

Do you see a pattern? I do. Our entire day should be filled with prayer. If we are sitting in front of the TV for dinner and relaxation – taking in our daily word from God – helping others or ministering to others; our day should be filled with acknowledging who God is and how grateful we are for Him.

I plan to do better at prayer, how about you?  How are you doing at remembering to pray daily for everything? Do you think your day, when bathed in prayer, may be a better day because you are giving it to God before you make your own plans?

 

Julie Jaunese

 

Julie Jaunese has been married to her husband Michael for 42 years. She has two daughters and three grandchildren. She works at Moffitt Cancer Center and hosts two women’s small groups, the Yada Book Club and the Fabulous Fems. Mike and Julie have been part of Grace Family Church since it began with 40 people in a house.