by Dani Catherine

A wedding dress. Flowers. Cake. An alter. Registries. The honeymoon.

Nope, not engaged, nor am I planning my future wedding. I’m a 28-year-old girl with tons of soon-to-be wed gal pals. Almost all of my friends are married, engaged or in a serious relationship. And I won’t lie, it can be really tough being the only single girl in the group. At a recent gathering for a friend’s engagement celebration, I really was THE ONLY single girl. The waiter asked who to give my dinner bill to; not the question you want to be asked after recently going through a pretty tough breakup. I sunk down in my chair, feeling beat down prior to this awkward question, and thought to myself “God, why am I here? I feel so alone.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy for all my friends who are in love and on “cloud 9”. I celebrate with them. I cry with them. I scream joyfully with them as they show me their rings and when I get to throw their bachelorette parties (#partyrock)…but I get discouraged sometimes. “When will it be my turn to feel what they feel?”

It takes a lot of effort to be joyful in this single season of life. I have to constantly remind myself that where I am now is exactly where God wants me to be. I have to remind myself that each person’s journey is different. I can sometimes get caught up in comparing myself to others and counting what I am “missing” rather than counting my blessings.

As I am excited and discouraged all at the same time, I am reminded of a few things. I am reminded that it’s ok to have a cloud of discouragement come over me at times, it’s only human, but I can’t let it rule me or define me. I am also reminded that a relationship is an emotional connection. A relationship isn’t limited to just a boyfriend or a husband, it’s with your family, your friends, your coworkers. A relationship doesn’t have to only be with someone who takes you on romantic dates and buys you chocolate and gives you random “thinking of you, babe” cards. It’s merely an emotional connection. And that, I do not lack.

Living in a culture where marriage is pressed upon the twenty-something’s, it is easy to have tunnel vision and solely focus on finding “the one.” But what about the other relationships you have? Are they not just as important? Are you focusing so much on finding “the one” that you are forgetting about the relationships you have built with others while you’ve been in “waiting”? Cultivating relationships with others is so fruitful. It can bring out the best and worst in you, and man, that’s what relationships are all about.

So, as I pick out the shoes I will be wearing to the 10th wedding of the year, and getting amped up to attend this wedding solo and dance like a maniac, I remain grateful for the relationships I get to rejoice in.

Whether you are single, married, engaged- I hope you rejoice in the relationships you do have. Embrace the moments, embrace the relationships. Don’t miss out on those relationships just because you are too focused on what you are missing rather than what you have.

 

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Dani Catherine works at GFC as the Ministry Assistant to the Beautiful Ministry. Dani loves to do makeup, scream her head off at hockey games, drink tea, paint, snap photos and spend time with her dog Jeter!

by Debbie Altman

I feel like I can never step into a worship service without coming to tears.  Although I have to admit, I am a crier.   If my family is watching a movie together, or a really good Hallmark commercial, they always know when to glance my way to see if I am crying!  It is SO annoying!  I just want to have my moment please!

What makes me cry the most however, is the goodness of God.  Don’t think that I haven’t been through many trials and tribulations and just the messiness of life!  Yet when I walk into that worship service, or when I’m thinking of Him anywhere I might be, I am reminded of all the things He has done in my life.  He has taken me from the kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light.  Just knowing Him is something to be thankful for.  I cannot live without Him.  He showed His love for me by dying for me.  If that is all Jesus ever did for any of us, is that not enough?  Yet sometimes we want , want, want.  I know I do.  And He DOES want us to go to Him as a Father and make our requests known to Him!  But we must always remember that He has already done enough to prove His love for us beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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But on top of dying for me He HAS done so much more! He has given so many blessings along the way.  And when I have gone through that fiery trial, and I am angry or defeated or tired or lonely… He has held my hand and comforted me with His love.  He has shown me that I am accepted, no matter what.  How good is that!

As I walk into church, I also have the privilege of meeting so many people of every social, racial and economic backgrounds, and I hear stories of people who have travelled different, but often unbelievably difficult roads and have experienced the goodness and redemption of God in their lives.  What an honor to hear their stories and to be reminded of how amazing is our God among us!  If you haven’t been a part of a community of women and men that are sharing their lives together and telling you their stories, and listening to yours; I have to respectfully tell you, that you are missing out on one of the most amazing blessings…being human, being a mess, being forgiven, and still being loved by God and by His people.

So in this messy, crazy, beautiful life that we have, remember to thank Jesus for the outrageous blessing of the cross.  And get into a place where God’s people are clinging to Him together for life and wholeness and peace and joy. And share your stories. I promise, it will bring a tear to your eye.

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to and end.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness!  Lamentations 3:22-23

 

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 Renee Scott

brideI decided to look up some facts about weddings and found some interesting statistics.  Did you know that June and September are the most popular months to get married according to a survey conducted by The Knot.com?  Here are some other facts you might not know:
–    Average Wedding Cost: $29,858 (excludes honeymoon)
–    Average Spent on a Wedding Dress: $1,281
–    Average Number of Guests: 138
–    Most Popular Month to Get Engaged: December
–    Average Length of Engagement: 14 months
–    Most Popular Wedding Colors: Blue

Since its September, there’s a high probability that someone in our church maybe walking down the aisle pretty soon.  That’s why I wanted to give my top 5 tips for newlyweds.  Here are a few things I’ve learned after 17 years of marriage.

*       Don’t put a television in your bedroom.
We’ve never had one in ours.  Of all the things you can do in a bedroom, why would watching tv be one of them?  Keep your bedroom a sanctuary.  A place where you can unwind and unplug.

*       Don’t sweat the small things.
Just agree to disagree and keep it moving.  You won’t always see eye to eye and that’s normal.

*       Don’t let your feelings control your actions.
You won’t always feel like loving your spouse.  They will say or do something that leaves you feeling like doing anything but loving them.  This is when you will need to remember your vows and the reasons why you moved forward with marriage in the first place.

*       Marriage is NOT a fairytale.
The notion that you will live “happily ever after”, is a myth.  You will have ups and downs whenever you have two individuals learning to share their hearts.  I believe the first few years are the hardest.  When those tough moments come, make a CHOICE to persevere.  That leads me to my last tip.

*       Longevity in marriage is a choice!
You’ve have to make a choice to love.  In good and bad times.  In sickness and in health.  In wealthy and lean financial times.

Marriage is the most powerful partnership in this world and too many marriages are breaking up and they don’t need to. God created us to be in relationship. He created marriage and thought so highly of it, that it was used as a symbol of our relationship with Christ. Read about its reference in Isaiah 54:5

Your real husband is the one who made you. His name is the Lord All-Powerful. The Holy One of Israel is your Protector, and He is the God of all the Earth!

Renee Scott

 

Renee 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 Dawn Smiling

“So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.  Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.  His wife said to him. “are you still maintaining your integrity?  Curse God and die!”  He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman, shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
Job 2:7-10 NIV

I find it profound that Job’s wife is nameless in the Book of Job, but her statement was loud, bold, and a clear description of how she felt about her circumstances.  But if we think about our dear sister, she also suffered.  The attack of Job brought so many circumstances into her life.  It is interesting how the circumstances brought on to one person can affect another person, a family, a community, a country and the world.  Satan went to God about Job.  Job’s wife was never discussed.  Yet, she suffered greatly by pure association.  Who came to comfort her? Who came to help her understand why a loving God would allow good people to suffer. Job’s wife, in a moment of weak emotions, drew her own conclusions regarding her circumstances. She also lost all 10 of her children, her financial security, and when painful boils broke out all over her husband’s body, whose job was it to comfort and care for him?  It was her job, and I believe it wore down her morale, self- esteem and internal strength.  Circumstances will do that.

Circumstances are not by accident.  God has a lesson, a character test, or a spiritual breakthrough in store for you as you go through your circumstances.

If you look at your circumstances as an end instead of a possible beginning, you will miss God’s grace over your life.  The resurrection of our Savior made all things new if you believe in faith that God has not miscalculated the events in your life.

What did we learn from our sister, Job’s wife?

We learned that harsh words can be spoken out of desperation.  The words surely came back to haunt her as we find out from reading the final chapters of the Book of Job.  It is important to think before you speak concerning your circumstances.  The enemy is waiting for you to take on a defeated spirit.  But God wants you to rise up and expect your miracle.

A miscalculation of your circumstances brings limited vision in the plans God has for your life.    God has an appointed time for everything in your life.  Nothing is a mistake. There is something to draw from, to learn from, and to heal from as you move towards new horizons.

Don’t underestimate God’s love for you!!  Only God can bring a blessing from a tragedy.  How were we to know that years’ later, Job’s wife would live to see God’s hand in their lives.  Job remained faithful and God restored his health, their home, their financial security, and more children.  Their Season of circumstances passed, and they lived to reap the benefits.

I experienced my season of circumstances this week.  To my surprise, it was something unexpected to me but not to my heavenly Father.  God allowed the perfect storm to bring me closer in knowing who He is in my life.   As I conclude this blog, God has blessed my circumstance.  Praise God!!

What did I learn this week?  God is always working out something beautiful in the midst of your suffering.

Are you allowing God to work in your circumstances?

 

God Bless You!!

Love,

Dawn Smiling

 

 

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 Tammy Berard

Wow, what an amazing way to start the Beautiful Moms 2014 season! We had over 90 women in attendance. The tables were full and the food was overflowing. As was the excitement and the laughter. The Waters campus had their own table- it was awesome seeing another campus come together with us! I am so in awe of how God orchestrates our lives.  As leaders, we plan and prepare and most of all pray but God brings the people! He showed up and showed out with the fun dynamic group He brought this year. Over 1/3 of our group is brand new to the Beautiful Moms ministry.  So cool! We had a great time getting to know the other ladies at our tables, laughing at funny videos and even had a little purse game competition. But most of all, we had adult time without kids. That is priceless to Moms!

BeautifulMoms2014_FBThere are almost 20 leaders that make Beautiful Moms run smoothly and I love serving with each and every one of them.
I am so grateful to Kristin Bonham and her vision for the women at Grace. I know for sure that our women’s ministry is one of the best there is! But most of all I am grateful for a church that values its mothers so much that it would provide a childcare program so we can meet. What church does that? Seriously – Awesome!

Our next meeting is Sept. 18th and we will have our own anointed, Misty Umhotlz, speaking on Unglued. Who as a Mom can’t relate to coming unglued every now and then (or every day!)?  So if you are a Mom who is free on Thursday mornings and you want to fellowship and grow with other Moms, come check us out Sept. 18th at 10:00am in the church lobby. Then again, we may have to move to a bigger location!

Grace Moms Rock!

tammy

 

Tammy has been married to her college sweetheart, Raymond Berard, for 17 years. They have three children ages 12, 6 and 3. Tammy is a previous teacher and school administrator who now enjoys being the keeper of the schedule for her busy family. She is also the current leader of Beautiful Moms and hosts a small group for Married Life. She loves to shop, cook, dance and cheer on her Gators!