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!

 

by Toni Batista

There once was a little girl who always wanted to be a princess. She would look into the mirror saying, “Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the finest princess of them all?”  The mirror would look back at her and laugh saying, “not you. Your parents didn’t even want you, why would anyone else?” She would yell at the mirror, “I hate you!” That poor little girl hated who she was… abandoned, used and abused, and not loved by anyone.  Many years went by and the little girl grew up but because of her past, she became addicted to drugs and felt worthless and did many shameful things.

One day she sat alone by the pool feeling sad and about to give up on herself and everyone else that loved her.  You see, she did fine a young handsome prince who loved her so much and had 3 beautiful children.  But, even though someone finally loved her, she soon found out that a man, money, things or even children could not save her. Even though she was sad that day at the pool, it was the best day ever because she met an Angel who invited her to Church.  Since she was feeling so desperate for a change in her heart, she decided to go!

Once she enter into a magical place called church, the people where so friendly and the music was loud and she felt it in her soul and for the first time in a long, long time she felt alive. When the Pastor spoke, she felt he must have known her story because it was like he was talking right to her.

As tears ran down her face letting all the poison out of her, she closed her eyes and reached her arms up to Heaven.  She said, “God if your Word is for real, take this addiction from me and all the pain I feel.”  She gave her soul to her Jesus.  Even though she had a prince in her life, she realized that what she really needed was a King. From that day forward she started to heal from her past wounds.  Eventually she looked in the mirror again but this time she told the mirror, “I am a Princess of the most Highest King and no one can tell me different!”

No matter who you are or where you’ve been, it’s never too late to develop your inner-beauty and to bring beauty to the world around you.  Being the best you can be outwardly starts with feeling beautiful on the inside.

I know you might be thinking it’s easier said than done.   The good news is while it may not be easy, it’s not impossible!  I pray you look and the mirror and see that you are a Princess of the most Highest King.  He loves you no matter what.  He has the answers you are looking for.  He wants to give you hope and work in your life.  You can begin to live at peace when you know the way He sees you.

 

“For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.” Psalm 95:3

 

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Antonia Batista is married to Pastor Jerry Batista for 22 years. They have 3 adult children Jerry Jr.,  Corina and Emilio along with 2 grandchildren Chloe and Lucas.  I am a leader at Beautiful and love living for the Lord.

By Sharon DiStefano

A cheerful heart is a good medicine.”—Proverbs 17:22

As you read the Bible, you may find yourself chuckling at times. I can’t help but laugh when I read some of the humorous ways God got his point across.

2 Chronicles 21:20 – “Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. No one was sorry when he died. They buried him in the City of David, but not in the royal cemetery.”    Evidently Jehoram was not well liked!

Look at Jonah.  He was a man who loved God, but refused to go to Nineveh.  After running away from God in a boat Jonah was thrown overboard and swallowed by a big fish.  He lived in the acidic smelly belly of this creature for three days.  At the appropriate time, this large fish spit him up onto the shore.  So, bleached white and void of hair from the acid, he walked into Nineveh and probably scared them to death.  Now that’s a creative God who sees humor as a way of stopping our pride.

A cheerful heart is a good medicine.”—Proverbs 17:22

Laughter has the ability to break down walls.  When we can honestly laugh together, we can honestly talk together.

Laugh at yourself: 

How many of you dated in the late 70’s? Do you remember the big round a-line skirt and clogs?  I was wearing this sweet outfit when I was on a date and needed to use the restroom at a gas station.  On the way back to the car, I noticed people were smiling at me.  When my date opened my door for me and I sat down, I felt the cold vinyl seat on my backside.  My skirt was tucked completely into my underwear and my whole self was out there for the world to see.  That’s something I can look back on and laugh even though I was thoroughly embarrassed at the time!

 

Laugh with you spouse: 

I learned a valuable lesson as a young wife and mother.  At the time, I was dealing with a fear of failure.  I never wanted to show a weakness for fear that I would disappoint the ones I loved.  I was about to face a situation where I had to make a choice.

The doorbell rang one afternoon and a young man stood there trying to sell me frozen meats from his truck. He fed me a story about his truck freezer breaking down and needing to sell it quickly.  He was giving me a great deal! I bought it! Hook line and sinker.

When my husband came home, I began telling him what happened. As I was explaining, it became obvious to me that I was a sucker. My old feelings of fear of disappointing him came back and I had a choice to make. Should I try and make excuses and push the blame onto someone else, or just take it.  I took it.  I began to laugh at myself and exclaimed what an idiot I was!  My husband joined in with the laughter.  It totally changed the way I looked at my failures, and how I interacted with my spouse.

Henry Ward Beecher, “A marriage without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.”

 

Laugh with your children: 

Adults laugh, on average, three times a day.  A 4 year-old laughs 300 times in a day. Somewhere along the line, we forgot to see the humor in things.

When my middle daughter was 3 years old, she took a marker and wrote all the way down out hallway. After being punished, I heard her little voice talking to herself.  I walked into the hallway and saw her with another marker in her hand holding it about an inch away from the wall and proclaiming, “I can’t write on you”. She then moved farther down the hallway and said again, “I can’t write on you.” She did this all the way down the hall. I burst out laughing, and so did she.

 

Let people see you laugh: 

I turned 51 this year.  We have a tradition of celebrating birthdays at home with a meal, presents, cake and ice cream.  I told my husband I wanted to do something different this year.  I wanted to go bowling. Our family all stumbled into the bowling alley, including my mother in law, in her scooter.  We got our shoes, eventually found the right bowling balls, and ordered a really bad pizza.

After playing one game, we were all exhausted but laughed and laughed and laughed. It was the best birthday in years.  I got out of my comfort zone and my grown children saw me having fun.

I regret that when my girls were young, I didn’t play with them enough.  My advice is to take a break from the chores, get away from Pinterest and Facebook and play with your children.  Learn what makes your children laugh and let them see you laugh.

 

 

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Sharon DiStefano has been married to Pastor Allen for 30 years.  They have three daughters, Lauren, Brittany, and Jenna, two sons-in-law and a grandson due in December!  She is the set designer at Grace Family Church.  

by Sharon Tubbs

Authentically beautiful and powerful

When you look in the mirror, do you see beauty?

Not that Barbie doll beauty or the stuff of magazines. That’s all touched-up and glossed over. I mean authentic beauty—the beauty that comes straight from the mind of God. This beauty reveals itself in your smile, your gentleness, or the compassion in your eyes.

Do you see it?

I asked myself that question one day before preparing to speak at A Beautiful Weekend. The theme I’d chosen for the retreat: the Authentic Woman. I wanted to talk about our ideal “beauty,” but as I looked at a photo of myself on Facebook, I realized that I didn’t see that true, authentic beauty in myself. Instead of embracing the image before me, I zeroed in on my flaws—the bags under my eyes and the crow’s feet, the pimple the wide nose. I sensed the Holy Spirit interrupting my thoughts: Uh, Miss Authentic Woman? The lady in the photo who you keep criticizing, that’s you… Don’t you appreciate my handiwork?

I knew I needed to get real, not just with the ladies at retreat, with myself!

But how? With all my shortcomings—thin hair, cellulite, impatience, procrastination—how could I embrace the present-day me?

How can you?

First, believe what God says about you, about beauty.

God has made us all one-of-a-kind, but we don’t appreciate His craftsmanship because we judge ourselves by the wrong standards. Society has convinced us that it’s bad to be our unique selves, to think, look, or behave differently from the celebrities on TV or “friends” on Facebook. That’s not what God says. He says we are His marvelous works (Psalm 139:14). He says we are His masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10). And He warns us not to focus more on hiding our pimples and crow’s feet than we do on becoming better women on the inside.

“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

See yourself through the eyes of the Holy Spirit.

Of course, none of us is perfect. We may need to calm our tempers, practice patience, or lose a few pounds. Still, God already knows that and thinks of us as His works of art. We have to see ourselves the way He does. The Holy Spirit inside of us allows us to do that. Like contact lenses, the Spirit sharpens our spiritual vision by helping us see clearly our God-given gifts and authentic beauty. Look up 1 Corinthians 2:12-14. It says that, through the Spirit, we comprehend and appreciate the gifts God has given us. Without the Spirit all this talk about authentic beauty sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook.

“But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him…” 1 Corinthians 2:14 (AMP)

*When you get a quiet moment alone, pray and ask God to help you see and understand yourself through the eyes of the Spirit.

Know that God has empowered you.

Stop feeling powerless, like life is happening to you rather than through you. By definition, power means to have authority, bring about change, or influence others. True power belongs to God. (One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God…” –Psalm 62:11) He gives believers a measure of that power to influence those around us and impact the world for His glory.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NLT)

We use God’s authentic power when we encourage others, live as examples, exercise our authority in ways that help people see their own beauty in Christ. We use power when we draw from the strength we’ve gained in overcoming life’s trials to inspire someone else. That’s authentic power from an authentically beautiful woman.

When you look in the mirror, is that what you see?

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Sharon Tubbs works with the Women’s Ministry at Grace Family Church. She is also an inspirational speaker, author and business owner. As she continually strives to reach her potential in Christ, Sharon’s joy comes from inspiring others to do the same by truly seeking and knowing Him. 

By Jeanna White

I am very passionate about being the best Wife, Mom, Leader, and Woman I can be, so I obviously I wake up everyday refreshed, rejuvenated full of the Holy Spirit and ready to tackle anything that comes my way with the utmost of Joy…Not quite.

How many of you have similar stories? You want to do it all, be an amazing best friend that remembers every birthday, a leader in our jobs and a woman that runs after God and leads the best Bible studies. Most of us would love passion to fuel our life and work every day.  But when we are honest, more days than not, what we really want to do is quit!

Whether you’ve felt a call into ministry, you’re starting a new job, you’re toying with a new idea, or you’re even beginning a new relationship, passion gets us out of the gate every time. The problem is that passion fades.  Even when we know we are exactly where God wants us, that we really shouldn’t be doing anything else, it’s hard to keep going when we don’t feel like it anymore.  Give it a season, a year, or (for the ultra passionate), a decade, eventually it just doesn’t feel like it used to or like we think it’s supposed to. That’s when we do one of two things:

  • We look for the wrong ways to renew our passion. 
  • We move on to something different.  We leave what we used to think was our dream calling and hope to find a new one somewhere else.

Can’t get passionate about this job anymore?  Find a new one.

Don’t like your spouse anymore? Trade him in.

So what is the right answer?

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Hebrews 11:6

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalm 37:4

Passion has a surprising counterpart: perseveranceSo many people quit what could be a life calling not because the calling dried up but because their passion did.  Purpose is not just about us but what God wants to do through us. God has called you to a purpose and wants you to walk in it!

Sometimes perseverance is the only difference between what you are currently feeling and what you will feel once again. Your emotions eventually catch up with your obedience.  I always wonder how many people quit just moments before a critical breakthrough. GOD – Do I have a breakthrough around the corner?

Guess what the Bible lists as a virtue in 2 Peter, Chapter 1?  Perseverance. You will have days, weeks, even seasons that are characterized by passion for what you’re doing.  And you will have periods of time – sometimes really, really long periods of time – where you will simply have to persevere.

So here’s my reality, this is where I’m at right now! I have to decide to keep going and ask God to help me persevere.  A good friend in my Freedom group recently talked about the significance for the number 5 in the Bible. I’d never heard this before and I loved this! The number 5 symbolizes God’s grace, goodness and favor toward us and is mentioned 318 times in Scripture. (John 1:16)  It’s because of God’s grace for us that he wants to give us perseverance for the next 5 seconds, 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months, etc.

Maybe the best thing you can do if you’ve got a great idea, a great calling, a great husband, a great work…is hang in there.  You’ll be surprised what you might discover and accomplish.

Here’s the challenge:  list out 3-5 things that you were once very passionate about, but are now doing out of frustration or wish you could stop.  Now pray about these exact things.  God is your creator, He is the one that will fuel you, and He is the one that can renew you.  Ask God to help you where you are RIGHT NOW.  If you are waiting for a breakthrough, ask Him for it.

 

 

Jeanna White

 

 

Jeanna White has been married to Jerry for 20 years and has 3 kids, Easton, Hunter and Schuyler.  A few of the things she juggles are a son in college, lacrosse, cheerleading, college application deadlines, middle school, hosting an exchange student and getting dinner on the table before 8:00 PM!  Jerry is an Associate Pastor at GFC Waters and Jeanna is passionate about her job as the Early Childhood Director for GFC.