A Wonderful Surprise

By Julie Jaunese

Wow.  I really hadn’t planned to go to the Expo on Monday night.  I have had an 8 week commitment to be part of a group over the summer – and it is fantastic.  I really didn’t want to miss the group.  When I got home Monday evening I got a message via Facebook that the group was cancelled for that evening.  I lead two group for Ladies over 50 years old, one is a book group called Yada Yada, which means to be known intimately, and one called Fabulous Fems.  The Fabulous Fems meets the first Saturday each month.

I like to plan way ahead and hadn’t planned to be able to go on Monday so it was rushing at the last minute to put something together.  I quickly made small cards with my name, phone number and e-mail address on it.

I got to the lobby and was surprised that the leaders were wearing gorgeous flowers.  Mine was so pretty.  Then we had fabulous French macaroons.  My daughters love to make a batch whenever they are both home so I knew this would be a treat. The sanctuary doors opened and I went in to find where my table would be then to get my seat.  Who knew what God had planned for me in my seat.




A wonderful lady sat down next to me.  We hadn’t met before.  Soon we got up to welcome new people to our groups and she went her way and I went my way.  When we were called back to our seats she again sat next to me.  We began to talk.  She hadn’t read the blog so I pulled up the Beautiful Blog and had her sign up right then and there so she will get them in her e-mail.  After that I gave her one of my cards and said I would love to see her again.  Turns out she is retired.  Do you think that would be enough?  God had so much more.

I asked her what her profession had been.  She worked in a prison in Michigan.  I told her I was born and raised in Michigan and my husband had worked in a prison in Florida.  I asked her which city she was from and she responded MUSKEGON.  That is my hometown.  Her name is Marilyn and she worked at Muskegon Correctional.  We talked about where we lived in town, what High School we graduated from and the year we graduated.  This was such a gift and brought me home full of smiles.

We never know what God has planned for us and when He plans to surprise us with the best of the best. The Beautiful Expo was so wonderful.  I can’t wait to talk to Marilyn again and I would have easily missed this blessing if I hadn’t been willing to change my plans.

What kinds of things do you talk yourself out of doing?  Did you get connected to a group?  You will find new and old friends when you get connected.  Come on – it is all up to you.

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. 

What is God Doing?

By Kristin Bonham

 “Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
Don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
He’s the one who will keep you on track.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 

Chris and I had a conversation recently trying to make sense of a few situations going on.  There are things happening and we really don’t know how they will turn out.  The options are not necessarily bad ones but we just don’t know which scenario will be the outcome.

So, naturally, we just sit back and watch God work and wait for His answer and find ourselves completely at peace.  NOT!  Anyone else struggle with wanting to know what God’s doing and how things will turn out?  I mean, I will let God be in control as long as he gives me all the clues so I’m able to understand what He’s doing all along the way.  No surprises!

trust11As Chris and I were having probably the 10th conversation about one particular thing, I pictured God looking at us saying, “Really??  You spend so much time, energy, brain space, words, etc trying to figure out what I’m doing.  You draw a conclusion and think you’ve nailed the answer and then you are at peace, for a moment.  What’s up with that??”  (Do you imagine God talking like that?)

It’s like we reason in our minds what’s coming and we park there and find our peace of mind in the fact that we think we’ve figured it out or figured God out.

So during my prayer time, God put these questions in my mind:

Do you want to focus on trying to figure out or reason what I’m doing?


Do you want to focus on being ready to respond to what I’m doing?

That got my attention!  I started thinking about what it means to focus on figuring out what God’s doing.  My conclusions are usually not accurate.  I’m preoccupied with what might happen, could happen, what I want to happen or don’t want to happen.  I’m never satisfied with my answer.  I might have peace in the moment but in the next, it’s gone and I’m turning the problem over in my mind again.  It’s the crazy cycle!

What does it mean to be ready to respond to what God is doing?  It’s about the present.  My time is spent learning about Him and His character.  I have the opportunity to respond to Him and others in every encounter in my day. My peace comes from knowing that no matter what happens, He is God and He is good.  He will work all these things together for His glory.  I can truly trust in Him.  That verse in proverbs really comes alive!

 Trust God with all you heart… Don’t lean on your own understanding.


Which best describes where your focus is right now?  Are your time and energy spent reasoning or responding? 

Kristin Bonham



Kristin Bonham is a pastor’s wife and the Women’s Ministry Director at Grace Family Church. She and Chris have been married for 25 years and have three children; Taylor, Abby and Casey.  She loves the beach, New York City and traveling with Chris. She collects books and reads some of them. Her favorite part of the week is Sunday lunch with her family and friends around the table.  


Me Time

by Dara Laporta

My daughter, Sienna, will be 3 in just a few weeks, and my twin boys, Price and Maddox, are 9 months old. My days are long. My days are busy…non-stop busy. Don’t get me wrong, I always find time to do my 30 minute workout and answer my business-related messages, but I came to realize that wasn’t enough. In order to have the patience and self-control I needed to survive my days without completely flipping out (no sarcasm there), I needed quiet “ME” time.  And more than anything, I needed “GOD” time.

So for months, I KNEW I should get up one hour before my daughter wakes up, get my coffee, and be still. But I didn’t do it…and I didn’t do it…and I didn’t do it. Until one day, I did. I have hardly missed a day since.

The difference is astounding.

08cc0a5872d4d1f7d352ec5c46fdca9d-1Instead of Sienna interrupting my sleep and greeting her grumpily, I look forward to her peeking those beautiful eyes around the corner and delightfully (yes, delightfully) wishing her a “Good morning, beautiful!”

Instead of feeling like I am in a losing race from the moment I wake up until the last child is in bed, I approach the day at an even, steady pace.  (Admittedly, the even, steady pace doesn’t always last). Instead of waking up overwhelmed with my duties, I am confident and excited to experience life with my children, while simultaneously pursuing my other dreams, as well.

And most importantly, I feel at home in my relationship with God.  He doesn’t feel far away.  Spending that forty-five minutes in the Bible, prayer and gratitude gives me hope and passion in my role as a mother, and in all areas of my life.

Real Talk:

Do I jump out of bed humming?  NO, but it’s less difficult waking up than I thought.

Do I still lose it on my kids?  YES, but less often.

Do I always feel completely content and at peace?  NO, but it sure helps.

Do I do it everyday?  NO, but I do it Monday thru Friday.

All that to say, I feel like in doing this, I discovered this great big secret of motherhood.  It has made me a better mom and a better wife and a better everything. I implore you…if you feel like you are barely keeping your head above water, try this. Start small. Start with fifteen minutes of quiet. Start somewhere. Sometime. Mamas  need time to themselves. They need time when they are not mamas. They need Jesus.

…You are my God. At dawn I search for You.
My whole being desires You;
like a dry, worn-out, and waterless land,
my soul thirsts for you.
Psalm 63:1


I am a wife to Matt and a mom to toddler, Sienna, and twin baby boys, Price and Maddox. I am an All-American pole-vaulter, foodie, lover of roller coasters and Gator football. I am competitive to a fault, a fitness enthusiast, I delight in awkward moments, and I am blessed to work from home helping others reach their health and fitness goals.

A Lifelong Friend

by Dani Catherine

As a Beautiful Weekend approaches, I can’t help but remember my first time attending a Beautiful Weekend 2 years ago and what God did while I was there.

photo-5 copyYou see, when I signed up, I only knew about a handful of women. I really didn’t want to go, to be honest. Nothing about having a weekend with 400 women sounded exciting to me. But, I signed up anyway and took a step out of my comfort zone. At that time, I was new to GFC. I had moved from Boca Raton after graduating from Graduate school, and I was starting a new life in a place where I grew up, and GFC was part of my new life. I prayed and thought about what it would be like to have a friend that I connected with. I longed for a friend that shared the same interest as me, who loved Jesus, and who would accept me for me and all my baggage.

I remember meeting my sister room for the first time at a Beautiful Weekend. I looked across the table and introduced myself to everyone, but there was one girl who stood out. She had funky hair (as do I), an outgoing personality, and her love for Jesus was totally obvious (she was playing the piano that weekend with the worship band). That’s when our friendship started.

It was an awesome weekend with God, and many friendships were formed and God even showed me a few things I needed to work on personally, but my take away was meeting Taylor. I didn’t think I would ever meet a friend that encourages me, laughs with me, cries with me, and shares the same interest as me (like changing our hair color ever month or so..hehe!), until I met Taylor. After a Beautiful Weekend, our friendship started off getting breakfast almost every week for 9 months straight, to me meeting her first born son, Jax, on the day he was born, to her consoling me when I went through heartbreak. We both have had some big life changing events in our lives since we met 2 years ago, and I wouldn’t have wanted to walk through it without her. I am beyond grateful that God placed someone in my life who sharpens me and challenges me to love like Jesus. Taylor is my person and a lifelong friend.

My prayer for you is that you take a step outside your comfort zone. That voice in your head that is saying “You don’t have to go to A Beautiful Weekend, you don’t know anybody!” is a lie. It is a lie because God has ordained a divine appointment for you to meet your person; your lifelong friend. Hope to see you there!!

For more information about a Beautiful Weekend, go to www.abeautifulweekend.com


Dani Catherine


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

What Not to Tell Single Women

by Sharon Tubbs

I know my married sisters mean well. Really, I do. They feel sorry for their single friends who want a wedding ring, the ones who talk about disappointment and loneliness or trusting in God’s plan. The “marrieds” want to offer sound advice and encouragement like good friends should.

But many don’t realize this is dangerous territory. Their attempts to bring hope may do the exact opposite, especially when they try to diagnose why their friend is single or use their personal experience as the gold standard for Christian love connections.

“What?” they say. “I would never do that.”

Consider the following, the most common clichés and theories that married Christians say to single Christians.

“It’ll happen when you least expect it.”

The mother of all marriage clichés, this typically precedes some story of a woman who was going about her merry way—laaa de da, de da. Then, from out of nowhere, her future husband appeared, just as she was not even thinking of a man. No sirree, no man crossing her mind. And for that very reason—that she wasn’t thinking about it—our wise God, sitting on His throne, said: “Hey, now’s the perfect time to surprise her with the husband of her dreams!”

It would be a stretch to support this theory biblically, and even if you could, I should’ve been married a gazillion times by now. Matter of fact, my husband would’ve appeared from the bushes this morning as I scurried from my front door to put out the trash, wearing a raggedy T-shirt and pajama bottoms, hair uncombed and breath still ripe. I guarantee you I was “least expecting it.” Yet, here I sit just as single as ever.’

“Just focus on God.” (or something similar)

On its face, this sounds good, and I suspect it’s what some marrieds actually mean when they say the least-expect-it thing. True, God’s Word says in Matthew 6 to put Him first and He’ll supply our needs. But marrieds must tread carefully here. Don’t assume my singleness means I’m not already putting God first or that my spiritual focus is out of whack. Many women have unfulfilled desires that they long for. A single woman who thinks about marriage is no more off-focus than a married woman still yearning for a job promotion, for a child, or for her healing.

This advice can be especially deceptive and hurtful to a single woman who is, indeed, striving to be more like Christ. In the past I’ve questioned myself after hearing this, followed by a story of how some woman was sold out for God, moving Him to give her the love of her life. Feeling inferior, I would compare myself and cry out to the Lord: I thought I was living for you, too! Why not me? What am I doing wrong? Thankfully, I stopped buying into this and accepted that I was loving God the best way I knew how. My singleness was not punishment for falling short.

Proverbs356iMany more theories and clichés exist. Like the one about writing a list of specific traits for the desired husband, prompting God to fill the order. Or the one about getting out more and going where the men are. Or the one about being “prepared” by learning to submit and cook and getting in the habit of stocking up on toilet tissue. (Is anyone ever fully prepared for marriage?)

Likely some truth exists in these sayings. Some have, indeed, found a great guy through faith that God would deliver on their lists or after stopping by the sports bar on game day. That won’t happen for everyone, though. Single women have tried, and these theories don’t always work. God moves differently with each of us. Sometimes singles are single, not because they’re doing the wrong thing, but because they’re doing the right thing, listening and waiting on Him.

The truth is most marrieds just don’t know why their fantastic, loving, talented friend is still single. And that’s okay. The next time that single friend stops by, the marrieds should just listen, unless they’ve truly discerned otherwise. Then they should point her to Scriptures about faith and God’s promises to provide her needs. Encourage her to fill her life with purpose by using her gifts, talents, and serving others. Pray with her. Pray for her. Ask God to fulfill her desire in His perfect timing.




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.