By Sharon Altman


Recently my husband Wayne and I were on a trip to Chicago – what a fantastic city! Millennium Park, the Riverwalk and the Magnificent Mile. More Shopping and restaurants than you can imagine, and sadly, many homeless and destitute people living on the street as well.


One afternoon, when Wayne was in meetings, I set off to explore the city. I was told I just HAD to have the Chicago deep dish pizza at Giordano’s for lunch. Far be it from me to go against that good advice, I made my way down Michigan Avenue.


There were throngs of people on the Magnificent Mile, the shopping mecca of Chicago. While walking I passed many of the forgotten, faceless, nameless people on the street. I heard him before I saw him… a jangling of change in a cup, the sign that said “Could you please help me?”  I made a mental note of where he was on the street.


Later, as I sat eating my pizza, God put it on my heart to save some of my lunch for that man on the street. Not my leftovers but half of the lunch that I could have eaten. Right now, writing this, I don’t know why that was so important but I listened. I had my server package the salad and pizza separately adding plastic ware and a napkin.


The afternoon was beautiful! I decided to walk away from the crowds on Michigan Avenue. I strolled down side streets feeling like one of the locals headed back to work or to an appointment. Here the neighborhood was getting quieter.


A lone figure leaned up against a wall with a sign that said “just hungry”.  My heart clinched… God, what do you want me to do NOW? I can tell you I was VERY annoyed. I thought, I can’t help them all! Do I divide up this food? Do I give to the first or second one? I was trying to do the math, I was trying to figure it all out on my own when I heard that still, small voice that said… just ask me. I had an immediate sense of calm.


I quietly asked God, what is your will? Then I listened. I was immediately reminded of the scripture that says that everything the Pharisees do are for people to see. (Matthew 23:5 NIV) So there with no one watching, on that quiet street, I met Rodger.


I asked him if I could sit with him a while and if he might like some pizza that I had saved. Yes ma’am to both.  I asked Roger how he came to live in Chicago and he told me of a road trip long ago with his kids. I told him that my Mom was from Chicago and I had always wanted to visit. We chatted a while longer then I asked If I could pray with him. Yes ma’am. When I stood to leave I told Roger that I hoped the rest of his day was good! He said, “I think it will be.”


I share this not to pat myself on the back, but for what I learned that day… I learned that God won’t always give a black and white answer. I might not hear a clear yes or no. But if I listen, God will ALWAYS put the answer on my heart…he is faithful. While I know God used me to bless Rodger that day, he also used Rodger to bless me.

By Becky Olszewski


The constant nagging in my head tells me I can’t do it; tells me I’m not good enough.  If I’m not careful, I’ll believe it.  Not long ago, I did believe it.  The lies had twisted and coiled themselves inside my head so much that I didn’t even recognize their existence.  An idea or opportunity would present itself in my life and without even realizing it, I was telling myself “Nope, you can’t do that”; “You aren’t good enough, important enough, or special enough”.  A close friend pointed out the limits I had placed on myself.  She helped me process my thoughts and made me aware of lies I had come to believe.


The Enemy is so sneaky in the ways he gets ahold of our thoughts. The more lies he gets us to believe, the more we stay confined to the boundaries those lies create so that we never reach our full potential in Christ.


How was I supposed to serve God and follow the path He made for me if I believed I couldn’t do it and wasn’t good enough?  I had to fix it; I had to change my way of thinking.


Changing our thoughts takes a lot of consistent work.  First, we have to recognize the enemy’s lies that are manifesting themselves in our thoughts.  This takes constant focus and awareness of what you are thinking about.  Once we recognize a thought from the enemy, we have to cast out that thought from our mind.  The name of Jesus can help us do this!


Luke 10:17-19 says, “When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!  Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them.  Nothing will injure you.”


It wasn’t just the disciples Jesus gave authority to, we have it too!  Say His name out loud!  “In the name of Jesus, I cast out this lie and throw it away.  I will believe it no more!  In the name of Jesus, I take away any power you think you have over me and I cast it away.  In the name of Jesus, I cover myself and others around me in the Holy Spirit who gives us strength, peace and power.”  AMEN!


Then we can replace the enemy’s negative thoughts with a positive truth about who we are in Christ.  Memorizing scripture about how much God loves us is a great way to do that.  Psalm 139 is one of my favorite scriptures about Gods love.


So, what lies from the enemy are you believing?  What truth are you going to focus on to replace the lies?  Pray for God to reveal them to you, then bind and cast the lies away and find a verse to memorize that supports God’s truth.


By Misty Umholtz


Trading in our fleshly indulgences for more of Gods Spirit in our Lives.


Whether this subject matter is a 40 minute break out session, a one page blog or something we are attempting to live out in our daily lives, it is certainly not an easy one to tackle.


What exactly are fleshly indulgences? They are anything that starts to be too much and out of balance in our lives. Something that begins to consume too much of our hearts, thoughts, time, energy, effort and bank accounts. It could be shopping, drinking, eating, working out, TV, social media, etc. You can fill in the blank.  It is anything that we are trying to use to fill our voids and fit into the God shaped hole inside of us in attempt to fulfill and satisfy us. The Bible describes them as worldly and cravings.


1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”


My indulgence is shopping for clothes. I have always been a clothes horse. But no matter how much I fill my closet with cute outfits, it is never enough. It never brings me any fulfillment or satisfaction that I am longing for. What if I gave it up for a whole year? No new clothes, no new purses, no new shoes! What if I exchange those things for something better, Someone Greater, Someone that my soul truly craves. I need to ask myself if I am finding my identity and self- worth in the outfits that I wear.


The dangerous thing about these small things is that they can become big things that the enemy uses to distract us and get a grip on our hearts, binding us to those things. Satan is always looking for a crack to an open door to gain access into our minds, hearts and homes in hopes of destroying us.


Doing things God’s way leads to more of Him, more of His Spirit in our lives. Jesus is what our souls are longing and craving for. Jesus is what our hearts really want and need. Jesus brings true fulfillment and satisfaction that no one else and nothing else can. And with Jesus, He brings richer, deeper, more meaningful relationships with those around us free from discord and tensions over our fleshly indulgences.


We also find freedom to use more of our time and money for others when we aren’t spending all of it on ourselves in an area that is out of balance in our lives. We discovered that blessings are directly tied to obedience. Is there something or someone you have been praying for a long time for? Jesus brings blessings and breakthroughs in areas we didn’t even know were possible when we do things His way and are obedient to do what His Word says.


I don’t know about you but all I really want is more of Jesus in my life, He is the only One who can satisfy my soul and fill the hole in my heart. I am willing to give this Great Exchange a try even though I am nervous and a little scared, a year seems like a really long time! I am just wondering if I will find out that what I am giving up will fade in comparison to what and Who I am gaining.


What are you willing to trade in exchange for more of God’s Spirit in your life?



By Vicky Orefice


Well friends, the GFC Beautiful Conference has come and gone but not without having left its impact on my life and others. This year’s theme was “Found” – how we found God in the darkest hours of our lives or how God found us in the darkest hours of our lives. #Perspective



This conference was different for me compared to last year’s Fearless conference. That conference was, no way for me to put it other than “raw”. It was a real awakening for me and I really felt God was bringing forth my purpose, my story, that had been dormant in my life for so long. Life and the hurt that it brought in my teens and early 20’s caused me to create this lock box of my emotions and stories that I did not want others to know because of the shame I felt.

I wasn’t sure what God was going to do in me at this year’s conference but I was excited. A couple weeks leading up to it, I was asked by the women’s ministry director to be part of a panel discussion that they were going to have on Friday morning. When I first saw the email I thought to myself, “I think she sent this to me on accident”. Again, the shame and lack of self-worth is still a real struggle for me. When she responded to my email that “Yes!” she did want me on that panel was another sign, to me, from God that my story is part of my ministry and is to be shared. It made me even more excited about the conference!

Okay, so that was a lot of deep talk there. Go ahead and get you a cup of coffee, cozy up on your couch and let’s get to the conference recap!

Day 1: Thursday PM

Prior to the service, they fed our tummies with some good ol’ BBQ food from 4 Rivers. I sure do love me some pulled pork and baked beans y’all. After devouring that meal (very quickly I might add because it was outdoors and it was cold)  we went to the main sanctuary. The evening consisted of: the lovely ladies from The Pew, Paige and Ashley, kicking off the event, a music feature and worship. Debbie Altman shared her story of being “Found” and it was the perfect beginning for our theme.


The keynote speaker for the evening sessions was author and speaker, Lisa Harper. During the summer, we did a short bible study using her book, Believing Jesus. It was the first time I’d heard of her and her story of adopting her precious little girl, Missy, from Haiti. You can hear that story here. She has a way of opening up the Word to bring applicable understanding. Her ability to say something so profound and moving then quickly ending the thought with something that made you bust out laughing is a true gift.


After the evening service, we went out to the lobby to enjoy some hot cocoa, churros and flavored popcorn. With that second wind of energy, thanks to the sweet treats, we made our way back to the sanctuary to dance the calories away in the after party. Listen, your girl thought she was JLo on that dance floor with churros in one hand and a mini donut, that I happened to come across, in the other hand. It was so much fun just dancing the night away with all the ladies there!


Day 2: Friday AM

The Pew ladies kicked off the morning followed by worship. The keynote speaker for the AM session was Sharon Tubbs. Her message about not being ashamed of your story really spoke to me. Your story is meant to be shared. The events that happen in our lives, both good and bad, are material that God is allowing to be added to our story. Not sharing our story is wasting what God has given us to minister to others and further elevate His kingdom. Seriously, it was as though God was speaking directly at me because, as I’ve alluded to above, this is something that God has been dealing with me over the past year. I get it God. Noted. 


After that session, it was time for the panel discussion that I was participating in. The host, Chrissy Mayer, had some questions for us to discuss about the conference and what “found” means to us. It was like having a small group on stage except with hundreds of ladies in the audience listening. It was a forty minute session and it felt like five minutes. It flew! I loved hearing everyone share what Found means to them.


Break Out Sessions

With full stomachs after lunch, we headed to the break out sessions portion of the conference. We could choose two of twelve sessions ranging in topics from parenting, cleaning/organizing, body image, marriage to prayer, healing, and rewriting your story. Not an easy decision to make choosing just two! I heard they were all phenomenal!

For the first session, I attended Sanjie’s session “Be Transformed” which was about understanding the season you are in and finding your identity in Christ. This is a message that one needs to hear on the daily because it can be so easy to fall into the bad habit of trying to be someone according to what the world tells you or what you see on Instagram. Can I get an amen? We, as Christians and daughters of the King of Kings need to look to our heavenly Father for our identity through reading the bible and seeking His presence in prayer. #preach

For the second session I chose to attend the “When God Gives You a Makeover” session by Rossaue Hosein. She shared her testimony of being healed of food allergies after having dealt with it for five years. She expressed how she, being a prayer warrior and believing for healing and miracles in others’ lives, failed to believe that healing could happen in her own life. She came to the conclusion that she would always have these allergies but God proved her wrong. That resonated with me so much because I, myself, have fallen into that rut with my diabetes. I’ve stopped believing and claiming that healing in my own body. Her testimony inspired me and gave me a renewed hope to continue praying for my own healing.


Once the sessions were done, we went back to the sanctuary for a fun segment with the The Pew ladies including live band TrevLove and the First Froots, giveaways, a schooling on organization, and a surprise 40th birthday celebration for Paige.



After The Pew, it was dinner time and our last meal together with Carrabba’s Chicken Marsala, Pasta, Ceasar Salad and Bread.

Friday PM Service

The final service kicked off with amazing worship and another musical performance. Then Lisa spoke sharing a personal story and the story of Job about how God is there with us even in our darkest hour when we think we are alone. Because of the words of others, those who we call friends/family, have made us feel shame and alone. He is there and He hears us. The service ended off with women gathering together in prayer. Powerful.

The conference was a great experience and perfect way to start the new year. As a small token of our time together, we each received a bar necklace with the word “found” inscribed on it serving as a sweet reminder that we are found in Christ.


By Vicky Orefice


If you’re wondering what the Beautiful Conference will have in store, here is a beautiful story of what happened last year!


Fearless Conference Tampa 2017


On Thursday and Friday, I attended our GFC Fearless Women’s Conference and guys, it was AWESOME! I didn’t realize how much I needed the conference until it was all said and done. I almost didn’t go at last minute because of work and I am so happy that I did not change my plans. I would have most certainly regretted it. God moved in such a way through the worship, the messages, and the fellowship among ladies that I did not want to leave!


Day 1

I am an extreme introvert. Randomly going up to people in a crowd, introducing myself gives me anxiety. Takes me back to first of day of school and having to meet new people and figure out who to sit with during lunch time. Worst day ever for an introvert.


I was reliving that same anxiety as the conference started off with dinner, trying to find somewhere to sit in a group of a 1000 ladies. I have been attending this church for a year now but I haven’t been the best at building relationships (again, introvert problems) and the few people that I knew attending the conference were actually volunteering and working in the background. After some awkward hiding behind a pillar, I made my way to the food, grabbed my box of BBQ goodness and scurried off to another dark corner under a tent. Really? I have issues.


After dinner, we gathered in the sanctuary and one of the ladies I know, had saved me a seat next to her. Thank you Jesus! I didn’t have to face my fear again of trying to find a seat. Granted, the seat she had was right in the first row, but that’s okay, I can handle that.


Spoken Word Fearless Conference 2017 Spoken Word 2 Fearless Conference 2017


The opening dance and spoken word were unexpected and set the tone for a special event! Worship was amazing and the sermon even better! After weeks of going non-stop at work and draining my energy, the first night was so invigorating. Lisa Bevere was the Key Note speaker and oh my word. This lady is fierce and I love it! Confession. While I have heard about her before and knew that she speaks at conference and has authored several books, I have never heard her speak before. I couldn’t help but think to myself… “Have I been living under a rock this whole time? How have I never heard her before? In person. Online. Anywhere?! What?!” This little half Sicilian pistol was on fire. The way she commanded that stage and spoke God’s word with such tenacity was… Wow.


Lisa Bevere Fearless Conference 2017




“We have this sword of the Spirit, not to beat people up, but to set captives free!” – Lisa Bevere







The After Party was truly a fun way to end the night.  What could be better? Music, dancing, fellowship and smores!


Fearless Conference 2017  After Party Fearless Conference 2017

Smores Bar Fearless Conference 2017  After Party Fearless Conference 2017

After Party Fearless Conference 2017 Fearless Conference 2017


Day 2

At the morning service we had worship and the guest speaker was Sharon Tubbs and her message was on Rejection and pressing through it. She was powerful! I needed to hear this. Rejection is something that I have struggled with my whole life and based on the “Amens” that I heard during that message, I am not alone.

“You cannot be fearless standing behind a mask of rejection.” – Sharon Tubbs


Sharon Tubbs Fearless Conference 2017


Mid-day activities included: lunch from Chick-Fil-A (woot woot), two breakout sessions of our choice, a panel discussion, and a full segment of The Pew (our version of The View).


DSCF6096 The Pew Fearless Conference 2017


Dinner was Carrabba’s and then it was time for the evening sermon. Again, Lisa Bevere did not hold back. Seriously y’all, I’m fan-girling over her. I even waited in line to have her sign my book and take a picture.


Vicky Orefice Fearless Conference 2017As a female and a Christian, I left this conference feeling so empowered, so inspired, so ready to take on my world. With all that has been going on with the Presidential Campaign, Women’s Marches, and so forth… It has left me frustrated, exhausted, and at times, ashamed to see how other Christians are reacting to all these situations.


It was so refreshing to see women gathering together – not spewing hateful words towards this nation and each other, but instead PRAYING for peace and understanding over our country, wisdom for our leaders and blessings over each others lives. THAT is what we, as Christians, need to be doing.


I hope and pray that this flame that has ignited in me doesn’t stop. I know it won’t be easy, especially when I get back to the work routine, but I will press forward!