Thankful for Freedom!

By Kristin Bonham


I was recently at a dinner meeting with some women who lead various ministries. Each person had a “Thankful” focus at their place setting to think about and share with the group.  As each of the 8 of us shared, it was amazing to hear the different things we are all thankful for.  My question was:

“What is something that has taken a long time to develop that you are thankful for?”

I kept trying to come up with a very meaningful, profound answer.  I thought about my children… they take a lot of time to grow!  I thought about all the things I’ve experienced in my 46 years… relationships that I’ve had for a long time.  My attention kept coming back to one thing:  Freedom.

When I truly understood what God had done for me, rescued me from a dead end life and saved me from living in the fear the enemy had convinced me of, I am eternally grateful.  I think about the anger and control I was managing in the early years of parenting and I cringe.   I was so caught up in defending myself and protecting myself from getting hurt that I was hurting the ones I loved the most.

By God’s grace, I finally got sick and tired of myself and began to understand the enemy’s strategies against me.  He had me convinced I needed to manage my people and problems so I wouldn’t experience pain, rejection, discomfort or hurt.

So today, I am most thankful for Freedom.  I’m thankful that I don’t have to live like that anymore.  I believe what the Word of God says about me is true.  I can embrace what Jesus did for me on the cross when he defeated sin and death.  I can change.  I’m not hopeless!  I’m not stuck!

Don’t get the wrong impression that I’ve arrived!  The measure of freedom I have found continues to increase as I choose it every day.  In the past few months, God has revealed some ways I have been protecting and defending myself.  Ugh!  As challenging as it is to change, deep down, I don’t want to stay that way.

I am continuing my journey and doing the work of replacing the lies I believe with the truth of God’s Word.  The truth is that He is my defender.  He is my protector.  He knows what I need and is working out His freedom in me as I surrender to Him.

I have some wins!  I have some experience that trading the lies for the truth is worth it.  I have some friends who have found freedom in areas I’m asking God to bring to me.  I don’t want to stay stuck in any way and I hope you don’t either.


 “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.”  John 8:31-31



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 26 years and have three children, a son-in-law, daughter-in-law and grandson Jax.   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.




Thankful for Life!

By Debbie Altman

Like many others who will be blogging this month for our November “thankful” theme, I AM thankful for so many things. It’s almost hard to narrow it down. I praise Christ for finding me, lifting me up and never giving up on me. I’m grateful for my wonderful husband of 34 years! (Believe me, we are two strong-willed people and marriage hasn’t always been pretty. Yet, the stubbornness that can get us into trouble has also made us determined not to give up!) And of course my children, grandchildren, friends and loving community all bring me joy.

But what I want to talk about today is something more. There was a good chance that I would not even be here today to write this blog. In 1957 a single woman found herself pregnant with a man who did not want to marry her. Devastated, she moved back to her hometown of Buffalo and endured the guilt and shame of an unwed pregnancy.  She gave birth to me, and then gave me up for adoption. That’s why I am thankful, truly, for being alive!

psalmShe could have had an abortion, but she chose not to. Many women have done so for various reasons, and I don’t want to offend them because there is forgiveness and healing for all in Christ. In fact, we have an amazing ministry at Grace Family Church called “Surrendering the Secret,” for women who made that decision and struggle with it.

My story, however, is different. I lived in an orphanage for three months and then a couple unable to have children took me home. When I was 38 years old, I found my birth mother, and she told me that all she had ever wanted was to be married and to have children. Giving me away, she said, was the hardest thing she had ever done.

But I am so grateful that she did.

If she hadn’t, I wouldn’t have made my way to Tampa. I would not have become a Christian and never would have met my husband and be used to speak God’s Word to Craig while we were dating. Of course, Craig became a believer and we got married.  And now through the continuing hand of God in our lives, there is Grace Family Church.

In the Bible, Joseph was given away (actually sold) by his brothers. Things did not start out well for him and they did not get better very quickly. But through it all, God brought Joseph to just the place that He needed him to be–second in command of all of Egypt, a position from which he could help God’s people and his family.

What about you? Maybe your life, like mine and like Joseph’s, didn’t have a storybook beginning. If so, I want you to know that despite how your story started, I believe it will have a great ending. I am confident that God has a beautiful and important plan for all of His children!


“… Though my father and my mother have abandoned me, the Lord will take me in.”

Psalm 27:10




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 three precious grandchildren-Sienna is 3 and the twins, Price and Maddox, are 1 year old! Debbie enjoys family, reading, the beach, and is inappropriately competitive at board games.