April 24, 2014

About Michelle Graziano

Michelle Graziano – Blog Contributor – Singles Ministry Co-Leader
Michelle is from the State of New Jersey. She is the mom to her handsome 6 yr old son, Connor. She owns a baking business, loves crafts, and anything to do with organizing and creating. She is involved with praise and worship and youth ministry at her local church.

Captivating: Chapter 12 – “Be Present” – “Take My Hand” (pgs 217-220)

We have spent an amazing 3 months together.  We have explored our femininity, our gentle side, our warrior side, and one thing we know is that we are meant to be a complete woman. The woman God intended us to be.

As we wind down this study, how has it affected you?  Have you been able to connect with Jesus, your Lover, your Father, your Friend?  This is what He wants for us girls.  To be authentic.  Not to be a woman in a magazine, your neighbor or your friend.  He wants you to be YOU.

So who is that woman?  Have you discovered her?  If I have learned anything through this study is that we cannot be afraid to be who we are.  Who we were created to be.  It is time to stop hiding, ladies.  Step out in faith.  We need to be real and present in the moment.  Now.  If not, all our hard work will go to waste.

Throughout this study we have talked about freedom.  We need to live that out now.  Freedom to love and to be loved, freedom to be who we are, freedom to live completely and fully in Christ.  God loves you, and He wants you…all of you.  If you need a reminder of who that is:

Page219

I am so excited to see what God has in store for each and every one of you.  Live large, wonderful women, God wouldn’t want it any other way.

My lover spoke and said to me, “Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.”    Song of Solomon 2:10

*****

LET’S PRAY:

Father, as we wind down this study, I know You will remain with each and every woman.  If the time ever comes when we start to question who we are in You or who we are meant to be, I ask You to please come alongside us in love and confirmation.  Remind us.  Help us to live fully in You as You created us to do.  We love You, Lord, and thank You for loving us with an unfailing faithfulness.  We pray this in Your Holy Name.  Amen.

 *****

If you would like to join us for the Girls with Swords Online Bible/Book Study,

click the “Sign-Up Here” button on our Menu Bar.

Captivating: Chapter 12 – “An Irreplaceable Role” (Reading Assignment)

I can’t believe this study is coming to an end!  It has been an honor to serve as your co-leader the past 12 weeks.  I pray that you have grown over the past 3 months, and you are ready to be the captivating woman you are!

 

Here is the reading assignment for our last week together:

Monday: Jackie – An Irreplaceable Role through The Power of a Woman’s Life

Tuesday: Tonya – Your Irreplaceable Role through In the Body of Christ

Wednesday: Carissa – In the World through Do Not Give Way to Fear

Thursday – Michelle – Be Present through Take My Hand

Friday: Edwina – Weekly Review (Epilogue)

*****

Our next Online Bible/Book Study begins NEXT Monday, March 25th!!

Click on the picture below to join us! 

GWS

Captivating: Chapter 11 “Warrior Princesses” (pp 199 – 203)

Warrior women are strong yet vulnerable women, women rooted in Christ Jesus who know whose she is and therefore know who she is.

I love that description.  Who wouldn’t want to be that woman?  I know I do.  When I see that description I picture a confident woman.  Confident not because of the way she looks or what she does, but for who she is in Christ.  That kind of confidence opens doors that no other can.  When you have confidence in Christ, you can be yourself, you can be loving, you can be vulnerable.

Be yourself?  I know that many times I will not say or do something because I worry about what people will think.  I can’t state my opinion because then that person may not like me anymore.  I can’t dance around the park being a goofball with a friend or my son, people may laugh or stare.  I can’t sing that solo at church because I may mess up and everyone will know I’m not perfect. (And yes, I overcame that one two weeks ago!)  How much better would it be if I was secure enough that I could state my opinion, dance around or sing that solo because it’s ok.  My opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s, I can have fun, and if people want to make fun, that’s their issue not mine, and what would be the worst thing that would happen if I messed up my solo?  God still loves me, and He is the One that created me to be the opinionated, goofy, imperfect singer I am!  And isn’t that what’s important?

Be loving?  When you feel loved by our One True God, it is much easier to give that love away.  When we feel the true love of Christ, we have an amazing example to follow.  We can love our family, friends and yes, even strangers, with a kind and mercy-filled love that is only available to those who live in Christ.  You may have heard the saying “hurt people hurt people?”  Well, loved people love people.

Be vulnerable?  This one makes me want to run in the other direction!  If you have faced any hurt in your past, the thought of being vulnerable, to opening yourself up to that kind of hurt again may be more than you think you can handle.  Child, guess what?  God is right there in that fear!  How much better would it be to be so secure in Christ that you can take any chance, form any bond, go anywhere and know that no matter what happens, you will be ok.  And not because of anything you will do, but all because of what He will do in you.

Remember, ladies, we are warriors.  Every day we must put on the armor of God to battle the demons that Satan sends our way.  No one is immune to it, but the more we prepare ourselves for battle, the better our chances are to conquer the enemy each and every day.  Stay strong, be prepared, and depend on God!

*****

LET’S PRAY:

(Today I would like to use the beautiful prayer that ended this chapter.)

I now put on with thanks the armor which You have provided for me – girding myself with the belt of truth; binding up all that is vulnerable of my femininity; first my need to be pursued and fought for.  Thank You for daily pursuing me and fighting for me as well.

I also gird up my desire to be irreplaceable in a grand scheme of Yours.  You have placed this desire within me and I wrap Your truth around it, in hope of what You will do.  Grant me eyes to see each day in light of Your activity, to live in the bigness of Your story.

I gird up my desire to offer life through my gifting, the beauty You have bestowed on me.  I ask You to continue to reveal and confirm what You desire to do through me and all You have given to me.  I trust that You have called me by name and have given me a love, a beauty, a gift to pour out on my family, my friends, and those You bring to me.  May this day be an offering of love poured out before You on the altar of my life.

*****

Our next Online Bible/Book study beings March 25th.

GWS

To sign up for this study, click on the picture above and complete the registration process.  As soon as we receive your registration, we will email you further details.  We hope you will join us for this amazing study!!

Captivating: Chapter 10 – “Awkward Love” – “An Open Hand” (pp 183-187)

As we have seen, intimacy is not only an issue when dealing with relationships between men and women, but just as equally between women.  Friendships can go through the same challenges as any other relationship.  There are expectations, hurts, dependencies, and disappointments.  It is how we deal with these challenges that will determine the strength of your friendship.

Communication is essential in any successful relationship.  This isn’t always easy.  If you are like me you may not like to “rock the boat.”  It is easier to not say anything than to lovingly confront your friend.  While that may be a temporary band-aid that will cover the issues, it will inevitably lead to an infectious resentment or hurt.  As many, if not all of us, can relate, if we don’t talk about an issue when it first comes up, chances are that it will come out later in a more explosive, less loving manner.  That doesn’t serve any relationship well.  Talk, repent and forgive.  Love like Jesus.

“In your relationships with one another have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” 

Philippians 2:5

Another important aspect of a successful relationship is your own personal security of your identity in Christ.  I definitely saw myself in the examples given by the author of this book in comparing our “fallen” selves to our “redeemed” selves.

Fallen women want people to come through for them.  Redeemed women knows Christ has come through for them, and are more free to give of themselves and “put themselves out there.

Fallen women have been hurt so they withdraw from relationship to avoid further pain. Redeemed women know they are valuable and secure in the Lord, so they are able to be vulnerable.

fallen women

I don’t know about you, but I thank God I am redeemed!  This, for me, was the ultimate “take away” from this section. No matter what we do, no matter the relationship, when we do it with the prompting and guidance of the Holy Spirt, and we do our best to love others like Jesus loves us, we can’t help but find the intimacy we long for.  It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it.  God is so good, and I am so thankful for His faithfulness!

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”   

Proverbs 17:17

LET’S PRAY

Father, thank You.  Thank You for showing us what love is.  Thank You for giving us an example to follow.   Please help us when it is hard for us to face the tough stuff.  Give us Your strength, mercy, and grace as we deal with the relationships that mean so much to us.  Let us rest in the security of Your love, and be free to give that love to others.  In You, this is more than possible.  In Your Heavenly Name we pray. Amen.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT

Friendship is such a great gift! How can you nurture, guard, and fight for your friendships?

*******************

 If you would like to send Michelle a private email in regards to this blog post, you may email her at:  Michelle@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

*******************

GWS

Girls With Swords by Lisa Bevere

Our next online Bible/Book study begins March 24th.  To register, click on the picture above, complete the registration form, and as soon as we receive your registration, we will email you further details.  We hope you will join us!

**********

Captivating: Chapter 10 Reading Assignment – “Mothers, Daughters and Sisters”

Blessed Sabbath, Ladies!  This week we are going to be talking about our relationships with the women in our lives.  How do they affect our perspective on being captivating?  I am looking forward to finding out.  Here are the reading assignments for the week:

Monday:  Jackie – Mothers, Daughters, Sisters through The Long Road Home

Tuesday:  Tonya – Our Last Year Together through The Cost

Wednesday:  Carissa – To Mother through My Sister, My Friend

Thursday:  Michelle – Awkward Love through An Open Hand

Friday:  Edwina – Weekly Review

LET’S PRAY:

Father, we stand in expectation for what You have for us as we begin week 10. If we are struggling, help us to let our fears go.  We know that the enemy is trying to steal our joy.  We strive to live completely in You and for You.  Show us the lessons we can learn through the women in our lives, and grow us in ways we can’t even imagine.  In Your Name, we pray.  Amen.

********************

GWS

Our next online Bible study begins March 24th!!

Click on the picture above to sign up for this study!  

Once we receive your registration, we will email you further details.

We hope you will join us!!

**********

 If you would like to send Michelle a private email in regards to this blog post, you may email her at:  Michelle@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

Captivating: Chapter 9 – “Loving Fallen Men” – “Good Men That Do Not Belong To You” (pp 161-167)

Wow, ladies…I have to say, this section of the chapter really hit close to home in many ways.  And to be honest, part of me started to balk as I was reading this.  ”I can’t write about that!  I can’t talk about that!”  or  ”I don’t know what to say!”  Of course, I know this is a ploy of the enemy to try to get me to shy away from a difficult topic, so here I humbly sit writing this post for me, as much as every reader out there.  I pray you are blessed.

You Will Find Me

Seek me with all your heart.  How many of us long to have a man who is willing to do just that?  Exactly what does that look like?  And how do we cultivate that in our relationships? This is no easy question.  I believe that we have to walk a delicate line when we are attracted to a man.  In the book John and Stasi state, “Don’t offer everything, but don’t offer nothing.”  How do we know what is too much…not enough?  This is something we cannot do on our own.  This is when we must lean into the arms of Jesus and seek His guidance. Fervently pray for discernment and wisdom when entering into any relationship.

We also need to remember that “don’t offer everything” not only includes the physical, but also the emotional.  I have had some trials in my life, like most of us, and in the past I have found myself spewing forth every detail of my past to someone who, in reality, I barely knew. We have to realize that this isn’t necessary; as with anything else, the reveal should be slow and based on increased intimacy with a man.  When we find ourselves sharing so much so soon, we also have to look at our motivations for doing it.  Are we longing for intimacy so much that we are forcing the issue?  Are we sharing every skeleton in our closet to scare any potential mate away?  Or are we just not using good judgement?

We deserve to be valued, and not every man deserves all of us ladies.  Guard your treasures—physical, emotional, and spiritual—to share with the man the Lord provides.  We cannot avoid this challenge in our journey but, when we trust in our Lord and seek His guidance completely and fully,  the results will all be worth it.  Remember the words in Matthew 6:33 (NLT) – “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.”

**********

LET’S PRAY:

Father, I ask You to guide us.  You know this journey isn’t an easy one.  It can be so hard to know how much is too much when we delve into the world of dating.  We pray that we always keep You first, because then all that follows will be pure.  Guard our hearts, mind our tongues, and keep us close as we learn to discern Your voice in the chaos.  Thank You for loving us with a love like no other.  In Your Heavenly Name we pray.  Amen.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:

In which aspect do you find it hardest to find the balance between “not enough” and “too much?”  Is it spiritual?  Physical?  Emotional?  In what ways do you turn to God for guidance?

**********

GWS

Our next online Bible study begins March 24th!

Click on the picture to sign up TODAY!! 

********************

 If you would like to send Michelle a private email in regards to this blog post, you may email her at:  Michelle@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

Captivating: Chapter 9 – “Arousing Adam” (Reading Assignment)

Happy Sabbath Ladies!

This week we will be delving into Chapter 9, Arousing Adam.  This chapter talks about how men’s wounds sometimes cause them to become passive or overly driven and what women should do to encourage men to become the type of men God intends them to be.

Here are our reading assignments for the week:

Monday: Jackie – Arousing Adam – Standing in Love’s Way

Tuesday: Tonya – How Does a Woman Love a Man – The Holy Scandalous Women of the Bible

Wednesday: Carissa – Emasculating Women – Arousing Women

Thursday: Michelle – Loving Fallen Men – Good Men That Do Not Belong to You

Friday: Jackie – Weekly Review

LET’S PRAY

Lord, I ask for Your blessing upon each and every woman in this study.  You know their hearts even better than they do.  Through this study, through this book, and especially through your Word speak to them.  Give them what they need to hear and give them the clarity to recognize it even when it isn’t easy.

Captivating: Chapter 8 – Letting Our Hearts Be Deepened – Faith, Hope and Love (pp 144-149)

Deepening our hearts sounds like a no-brainer, right?  Who wouldn’t want to deepen our hearts, grow closer to God, enhance our relationships?  Well, when we find out the method He uses to do the actual deepening, we may be a little more hesitant.

To possess true beauty we must be willing to suffer.  Wait…what?  Yes, ladies, that is scary and makes me want to run too, but we must be willing to suffer.  ”Why?” you ask?  Well, the better question is “Why not?”  As our authors state, “If Christ Himself was perfected through His sufferings, why would I believe God would not want to do the same with me?” Sometimes God leaves us in the painful places.  Not because He doesn’t love us, but because He does love us. His main purpose is not to make us happy, but to grow and restore us in an eternal weight of glory.  Cultivating this beauty will likely require waiting and tenacity.  It is in this time of waiting when we turn to our relationship with the Lord.

During the wait we must not sit idle.  Along with spending time with God, we need to be kind and gentle with ourselves.  We need to feed on beauty. We need to laugh, rest, refresh.  As women, we tend to put everyone else before ourselves, and we need to stop that.  We are important, and we need to start treating ourselves as such.

Unveiling our Beauty

 

Unveiling our beauty is not just a simple matter of putting on a nice outfit and some makeup.  It is hard, and it takes work, but ladies…the results are SO worth it!  Remember:  unveiling our beauty is our greatest expression of faith because we have to completely trust Jesus.

Unveiling our beauty is our greatest expression of hope, because we put our hope in our growing beauty through our relationship with Jesus.

Unveiling beauty is our greatest expression of love, because we are able to love like Jesus, with a sincere, inviting love.

Faith. Hope. Love.

Be blessed, sisters. Never forget how beautiful and loved you are!

 

LET’S PRAY:

Lord, I ask You to come along side of us.  We know You love us, and sometimes love means pain.  We trust that with these struggles comes a life more amazing than we can ever imagine.  Give us the grace needed to turn to You when we are unsure or feel as if we are faltering.  Help us remember to pamper ourselves because we deserve to.  We want to live confidently and fearlessly under Your guardianship.  Thank You for always being by our side.  In Your Holy Name we pray.  Amen.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:

What are some of the ways you pamper yourself, or take some “me” time?  If you had one day to do whatever you wanted to, what would you do?  Let’s share!

Captivating: Chapter 8 “Beauty to Unveil” – Reading Assignment

Women are the essence of beauty.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?  There are days we may not feel like that…the flu takes hold, that overnight shift at work, it happens to all of us.  But isn’t is great to know that God sees us as beautiful no matter what?  He created us to be a beauty. This week we are going to take a look into seeing exactly what that means for us.  Here are our reading assignments for the week:

 

Monday: Jackie – Beauty to Unveil – The Essence of a Woman

Tuesday: Tonya – Beauty Flows From a Heart At Rest – Beauty is Inviting

Wednesday: Carissa – Offering Beauty – Of Course it Feels Risky

Thursday: Michelle – Letting Our Hearts Be Deepened – Faith Hope & Love

Friday: Edwina – Weekly Review

Saturday: Diane – Love Letters from God

LET’S PRAY

Lord, I ask You to come alongside each woman this week as we continue the study of Captivating.  As we look into what makes us beautiful, let us be open to the message You have for us, the lesson You want us to learn and the growth You want to see.  Thank You so much for Your love and grace, because without that we would be nothing.  In Your Name we pray.  Amen.

Captivating: Chapter 7 – Cultivating Intimacy (pp 127-129)

We live in a very busy world.  I know I can personally attest to that.  We look at our schedule or our smartphone and we see “the list.”  We wonder if we will have time to get from work to appointment A on time, and then will there be time to eat before class B starts?  There is work, friends, family, ourselves…oh! and God.  Where do you put yourself on that list?  More importantly, where do you put God?

The key to enhancing your relationship with God is a simple one.  You need to spend time with Him.  Think about it, it makes perfect sense.  If you have an acquaintance you want to get to know better, what do you do?  You talk to them, hang out with them, get to know them, and possibly become friends.  If you have a man you are interested in, you date them, talk to them, learn more about them, and it can possibly lead to a more intimate relationship.  Isn’t that what we want?  Intimacy with our Lord?

What exactly is intimacy?  According to Dictionary.com intimacy is  a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.”  Yes!  That is what I want!  I want an affectionate, loving, personal relationship with God!  And the amazing thing is that it is ours for the taking!  He offers it freely and with no strings.  All we have to do is spend time with Him, and it’s ours.  Wait.  Spend time with Him.  Time?  Who has that to spare?  That in it’s essence is the problem.  God doesn’t deserve our “spare time.”  God deserves to be a priority.  He should be coming first on that daily to-do list.  No exceptions, no excuses.  I know…I get it…I am a single mom.  I have to-do lists as long as my arm and leg.  I run my home.  I run ministries.  I have my own business.  Trust me, I get it!

Sometimes we have to get creative with our time, and sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zones.  I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination.  But at the same time, I am exhausted by the end of the day, so I had to make a decision.  What I do is get up at 5:30 in the morning so I can have my quiet time with the Lord before I have to get my son up for school and the craziness of the day begins.  Do I LIKE getting up that early?  No.  No matter how long I have been doing it, it’s still no fun when that alarm goes off.  But is the tradeoff worth it?  Without a doubt!  That quiet time with God is what sets my day straight.  There may be a day I miss, and it may not seem like too big of a deal, but let that one morning turn into 2 or 3, or even more, and it only means trouble.  I can feel a difference.  Something will be nagging at me, or I will feel burdened and I won’t know why until I realize that it has been 4 days since I spent time with God, and then it’s like “Duh! No wonder!!”  It makes a difference.

So now I ask you to look in the mirror.  Where has God been on your list of priorities?  No matter the answer, there is a beautiful reality.  It’s ok.  Whether He has been at number one, or He has been relegated to “if I have time,” God is still there, He is still waiting for you.  He is not mad, or standing with a checklist checking off how many days you have spent with Him. He is just waiting for you to come back.  He loves you! He longs to spend that time with you, and He will delight in you the very second you return to Him.  That is so comforting to me.  If you don’t already, I hope you will set aside the time you need to spend with Your Father.  The change you will feel will be worth it.  Intimacy with Our Savior?  What could be better?

 

__________________________________________

LET’S PRAY:

Dear Lord, we long for an intimate relationship with You.  Please help us to clear our schedules and make the time we need to spend with You.  Sometimes it seems too hard in the craziness of life to set aside time.  Help us in our weariness, in our busyness, even in our laziness to realize that You are worth it, and that intimacy with You is timeless.  We love You, Lord, and we thank You for Your never-wavering faithfulness.  In Your Name, we pray.  Amen.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT:

Share your routine for spending quiet time with the Lord.  Do you have a specific time each day?  Does it change depending on the day?  If you haven’t been spending time with Him regularly, share some strategies you can implement to make it more consistent.