By Dawn Smiling

The date was February 5, 2014.  I was driving down North Dale Mabry at 7:20 am when my cell phone rang.  As I looked at the phone, I could see my sister’s name.  I knew she was about to tell me something I dreaded to hear.  In all of the years I have lived in Tampa, Florida, she has never called me this early.  I knew she was calling about Mom.  As I picked up the phone, she asked me to pull over.  That was when I knew my mom was home with the Lord. You always believe that you will be prepared, but I was not prepared.  I had the best mom in the whole world.  Her name is Bertha Mae, and I am so grateful to have known this special woman of God.

I am grateful that Mom introduced me to Jesus Christ.

My mom made sure I was in church every Sunday.  Although she did not attend on a regular basis, she made sure my sister’s and I were up early and dressed and ready to go to my grandma’s church.  It is my mother’s guidance that opened the door for me to be introduced to Jesus Christ.  My mother’s love for Jesus gave me a desire to know more about God.  Her love for God was a constant example for me and my sisters.

I am grateful that Mom gave me the courage to accept Jesus as my Personal Savior.

As a teenager, I experienced many struggles as a young Christian.  My mom would always look at me and say “you are different, and you won’t be able to do what others do”.  When I could not figure out why I didn’t fit in with

the world, it was my Mom helped me to see that God is real and so is His call over your life.  My mom helped me to see that God can keep me through anything I had to face because He called me, and He loves me.

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I am grateful that Mom taught me about the joy of the Lord being my strength.

When you leave home, you always want your parents to see that you are living better.  Your parents feel better when they know their child is happy.  It was the hardest day of my life to call Mom and tell her my marriage was over.  When I called the house, I can still hear her say my name “Dawn”.  She said, “don’t let anyone steal your joy”.  I am so grateful for those words from my Mom.

I am grateful for the joy of the Lord.  Joy goes deeper than possessions. Joy is built in the lining of your soul.  Joy enablesyou to smile when circumstances look like you should cry.  Joy tells you that no matter what you are facing, the situation will not diminish the light that God has placed in you.

I am so grateful that God thought so much of me to allow Bertha Mae to be my friend, my confidante, and my Mom.  I am grateful that God did not forget me and my sisters.

I am truly grateful for life in spite of my mom’s death.  I have unspeakable joy!

Dawn Smiling

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

By Renee Scott

 

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This month we’re blogging about those things, items, people, or places we are thankful for.  I’m sure all the bloggers will get emotional and sentimental about the areas where they’re appreciative.  While I’m very thankful for family, food, and shelter, I’m going in a different way with my post.

What about the things we’re thankful for that we probably never paid attention to?  Some of my list is funny and others are not.  Some are even just random thoughts.  Hopefully after reading through my list, it will start you thinking about your grateful places.

 

Spanx undergarments.
Need I say more?  This invention was the best for women since sliced bread.  There are just some curves, bumps, and potholes on our body that need to be stuffed and smoothed by our Spanx!

Sanitation workers.
Have you ever thought about how “stinky” our world would be without them?  I thought about them the other day because in my son’s eyes, they are heroes.  He loves watching them every Tuesday and Friday from the window as they wisk away our trash.  The next time you see them, tell them “thank you”!

Reality TV.
It’s cheap.  It’s scripted and just plain ole fun to watch.  At times, it’s my guilty pleasure.  I don’t watch a lot of it but when I do, it’s just fascinating to see others with more dysfunction than my family.

Smartphones.
Where would we be without them?  It’s such a thrill to have maps, google, and social media right under my fingers.  With just a few strikes, I can go anywhere I want to on the world wide web.

Texting.
Let’s face it, some people you just don’t want to talk to.  You just want to send a quick note to avoid a 30 minute conversation about nothing.

Girls Weekend Trip.
It’s a vital part of my yearly routine.  Once a year, my twin sister and our closest friends head to the beach for a weekend of relaxation.  We purposely choose a resort location that’s secluded, found on the beach, and offers no other activities for us to participate in.  There’s no agenda.  No sippy cups.  No husbands.  No kids.  Just late nights, guilty food pleasures, plenty of pictures and hours of conversations.

Air Conditioners.
When you live in the South, there’s nothing better than a cool breeze on a hot summer day.

Being a Twin.
Everyone won’t have this experience.  Having an identical twin is indescribable.  My sister and I are extremely close and we absolutely love being together.  We have so much fun when we’re together.  I can’t imagine life without her.  She’s amazing!

Journaling.
Writing and solving life’s most challenging problems through written words is therapeutic and much needed for my sanity.  Some of my journal pages are tear-soaked from the day’s worries and concerns.  Without it I wouldn’t be able to quickly reflect back and see where God has delivered me from.

Gaining wisdom through experiences.
If I didn’t learn from my mistakes and failures, what’s the purpose?  We are the sum total of our experiences and we are wiser because of them.

 

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.   (Psalms 28:7)

 

I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.  (Psalms 116:17)

 

What are you thankful for?  Leave a comment below.

 

 

ATL

 

 

Renee Scott (pictured right) is co-founder of the 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 five 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 Michele Laccabue

 

Have you ever noticed how a particular Bible verse will come to you repeatedly over a short period of time?  And after about the third time, it stops you in your tracks and you wonder if God is trying to tell you something?   I believe God is saying, “Finally, I got your attention!”

I am thankful for God’s persistence in speaking truth and waiting on me to get THE message.

Over the last month, Ephesians 2:10 has landed before my eyes numerous times.  It’s a verse I’m familiar with as I have read it many times over the years, but, for some reason, God has brought it into the spotlight this November 2014.

As written in the NIV Bible, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

There is so much packed into this one sentence.  At first, I focused on the later part of the verse– doing good works as God created me to do– because I was preparing a teaching on Spiritual gifts for Beautiful at GFC Waters campus.  Then, just a few days later, Pastor Craig began his Sunday message with the same verse as he spoke on discovering our callings.  It seemed God was affirming our “teaching of the week” and confirming Christ’s call on my life.

But…Ephesians 2:10 kept showing up in various formats for days to come.   “Ok, God, you have my attention.  Is there a truth I am missing?”

I turned my attention to the first part of the verse, “For we are God’s handiwork”.  When I changed the pronoun, it became more personal, as it now said, “For I am God’s handiwork”.  The word handiwork made me think of my grandmother’s knitting and how she created beautiful things with her hands.  She poured her love into each piece and gave each stitch special attention.  The final product was always unique and beautiful.

To further comprehend  the word handiwork, from God’s perspective, I read several other Bible translations:

“I am His workmanship”

“I am God’s accomplishment”

“I am God’s making”

“I am His creation”

“I am God’s masterpiece”

It was a fresh reminder that I am a masterpiece made by God.   I am a work of art that He knitted together before I was born.  I was made with purpose to His specifications.  I was created to love this world using the gifts He gave me.  I am a daughter of the King.  I am enough!  And, I will not allow the world to tell me differently.

Thankfully, these truths are not just for me.
Thankfully, God’s handiwork is in all of us.
Thankfully, we are all His special creations.
Thankfully, He lovingly stitches all of our lives together to complete the tapestry of His church.
Thankfully, God is persistent in speaking truth and patient in waiting for us to truly believe it so we can live it out from this day forward.

What TRUTH is God speaking to you today?

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Michele Laccabue is excited to be the Coordinator of Beautiful for Grace Family Church’s Waters campus.  She married her college (go Bulls!) sweetheart 24 years ago and is most honored with the title of “Mom” to their two teenage boys.  Michele enjoys teaching science to homeschool students, lounging on the beach with a good book, and “fighting like a girl” in her kickboxing classes.

 

 

By Kristin Bonham

 

I don’t know about you, but for me, the month of December is filled with busyness and celebrations and sometimes… stress! It can be challenging to stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas until I show up at church on Christmas Eve. Sure, I have the Christmas Story books on my coffee table and the Nativity scene under my tree, but even now, in November, I’m thinking about what gifts to get my grown children, their spouses, my parents, my brother. I need a reset!

This year Beautiful is doing something new! We are creating an Online Bible Study that will help us stay focused on the Birth of Jesus and the hope that comes from experiencing a personal relationship with God.

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Our desire is that you find encouragement, accountability and community in this forum and that you’ll be inspired to keep going in the New Year.  When the study is over, we’ll take a short break and start a new three-week study in January before our Beautiful Small Groups start on all campuses for our spring semester.

Here’s how it works:

  • Fill out the form below with your name and email address.
  • We’ll send you the link to join the Beautiful Bible Study closed Facebook group.
  • Join the group! Only those who are in the group will see the posts.
  • We will post Monday, Wednesday, and Friday starting December 1st and ending December 24th.  (That’s 11 posts.)
  • Read the Bible passage for that day and comment in the Facebook group.  There will be a focus for the passage and questions to get you thinking.
  • If you miss a day, it’s okay! You can post on that passage whenever you have a chance to read it.

Encourage the ladies you know to join and invite friends and family. We are excited about getting to know the Word of God better and encouraging each other along the way!

Luke 2:30-32 “I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people.  He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

Online Bible Study Registration

Fill out this form to sign up for the Beautiful Online Bible Study.

by Dani Catherine

It’s finally “Fall” in Florida, and I couldn’t be more excited to wear boots and a cute scarf…but I know that the season will change again, just like life. Life is full of seasons. Some seasons may seem dry and dreary while other seasons are sunny and joyful. Spring becomes Summer. Summer becomes Fall. Fall becomes Winter. Either way, I have learned that no matter what season I am in, coming out of, or going into, there is always something to learn and to grow from.

Ec3I am actually heading into a new season. It’s all scary and exciting at the same time. I am scared of failing, but excited for change. I am scared that it’s going to be a long road, but excited for the journey ahead. But truly, I am thankful for the season I was just in.

For the past year-ish I have been able to work alongside women who have sharpened me and pushed me to be the woman God wants me to be. Kristin, Marilyn and Sharon were all there for me when I was going through one of the hardest times in my life and they were there when I got out of it. Their faithfulness to God encouraged me everyday to trust God despite the circumstances I was facing.

I learned that God really does use all things for our good.  We may not see it at that time, but in the end, Gods plan and His reason for the season is far greater than anything we could whip up! And guess what? We don’t have to worry because God is in control and unchangeable. Although I am going into a new season, I can’t help but be so thankful and humbled by the season I was just in with those women for the past year.

Whatever season you are in, let it stretch you, sharpen you and change you. If you are going into a new season, be excited! God has got this and He surely has plans for you.

 

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Dani Catherine does the Communications for Beautiful. Dani loves to do makeup, scream her head off at hockey games, drink tea, paint, snap photos and spend time with her dog Jeter!