For Adults

Big Lessons for Small Choices

By: Diana Bryant

One of my favorite Sunday School classes ever was a group of tenth through twelfth grade girls several years ago.  We studied scripture, but we also spent quite a bit of time applying scriptural principles to their everyday life situations.  We discussed, analyzed, and looked for principles from God’s Word to apply to the many choices they were facing as they prepared for independence, college, and career choices.

One area we examined was finances.  The girls were just starting part time jobs and were enjoying having cash to spend.  Even then, some had more, some had less.  Some had to use their earnings for their school basics, while some were able to use their paychecks however they wanted.

This critical period in the lives of our young women is an excellent time to instill biblical principles concerning the use of money. While they still have somewhat of a safety net, there are so many things we need to teach them. They can learn from the things we say, examples we give, and from mistakes they make.

            *Talk about giving. Give them projects to support and goals to meet.  When giving becomes a    habit with a small amount from a small paycheck, it’s easier for it to stick when the amounts   grow.

            *Teach them that being wise with their money gives them choices.  If you’ve spent carefully,     many times you can choose to go or not go, do or not do, or buy friends birthday presents if    you want. A bad credit score severely limits your choices in many ways. Learning to delay           gratification is a valuable life skill, so teach the satisfaction of saving for things they want.           

            *Share how you make financial decisions. Share examples of God’s provision in your life. Share times you’ve made the wrong decision and what the consequences were. You don’t have      share all the details, but teach them that all actions have consequences. That applies to financial            decisions as well – some short term, and some with longer lasting effects.

*Above all, teach them that everything we have comes from God and we are to be good stewards of it all – time, money, talents, possessions, everything! While finances are necessary, our security and value are not in how much money we have, it comes from God alone.  A valuable truth!

For Girls

Prioritize

By: Emily Faison

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever wanted? A new iPhone or tickets to a concert? For me, I couldn’t wait to have my own car.

In Sunday School, we spent a lot of time talking about everyday topics like money. We talked about budgeting, saving, and giving. These were easy to talk about, but harder to do! What helped me was figuring out a way to PRIORITIZE.

When I wanted to buy a car in high school, I started asking myself: Would I rather have this frappucino or car? A friend thought I was joking. Why was I comparing a frozen coffee drink to a car? It’s true that I would have to buy a LOT more frappucinos than I could ever slurp down to equal the cost of a car! But I started asking myself this question at every opportunity. Would I rather buy a new pair of jeans or a car? Would I rather add a milkshake to my Chick-Fil-A order or have a car?

Even though it feels silly to compare these tiny wants to a huge future goal, asking this question helps to visualize priorities and think about what is most important to you.

When I list out the things that I want to be able to do with my money—buy a car, pay for gas to fuel that car, give to missions, do fun activities with my friends—a new pair of jeans feels not so important.

Prioritizing how you spend your money does not mean giving up all fun things! Maybe you are saving for a fun goal, like those tickets to a concert with your friends. By making the choice to spend your money on a concert in a few months, you might choose not to go to the movies for a few weekends or choose not to buy new clothes for a while. 

Budgeting and saving your money can feel impossible when you want to say yes to everything. Prioritizing helped me realize that I wasn’t just saying, “No, I don’t want a frappucino,”…I was actually saying, “Something else is more important to me.”

Although it might seem like an odd Sunday School topic, like everything else in our lives, the way we earn and spend money should mirror our relationship with Jesus—sometimes it’s a matter of remembering what’s most important. PRIORITIZE.

For Girls

Summer Mission Programs

By: Khristi Shores

Adventure, excitement, friendships, challenges, training, learning, blessings, stretching, and growing. These terms apply to two summer programs:  ETEAM (mission team) and Truth and Peace (leadership program).

ETEAM is a three-week program open to young people entering their sophomore year of high school through their senior year graduation. Before each team leaves for their two-weeks of service, the students and their leaders will have a full week of training. This includes spiritual, cultural (for their specific place of service), learning a mime to perform, and songs to sing in the language where they will serve. Team leaders are adults that have had a thorough background check and were screened by the International Missions Department.

Truth and Peace is for freshmen through their high school graduation. It is excellent for spiritual training, self-discipline, time management, teamwork, service, and leadership skills. At the end of the training, the students will prepare and serve in many capacities during the National Association of Free Will Baptists, the annual denominational convention. It is also a time of meeting new friends that will last a lifetime.

My friend, Kyla Kivette, said her experiences, as a high school student, with ETEAM and Truth and Peace allowed her to visit three different countries and meet friends from around the world. ETEAM provided her with memorable experiences, such as eating horse in Kazakhstan and attending a Japanese tea ceremony. More importantly, it revealed the urgency of spreading the gospel. ETEAM allowed her to meet unbelievers with whom she still communicates today.

ETEAM taught Kyla that while comfort zones are great, nothing ever grows there. She gained lifelong mentors and friends.  She also has a desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus, whether in Saut-D’Eau, Haiti, or Nashville, Tennessee.

Truth and Peace strengthened Kyla’s relationship with Christ, and taught her the importance of responsibility, time management, and habits. Kyla said, “Because of Truth and Peace, I engage in better habits as simple as making my bed every day and in solitude and the power of prayer.

“My summers as a high school student were not spent riding roller coasters at Disney World but serving at a food bank in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and painting a school in Nashville, Tennessee. To many, this might sound unappealing. But it taught me that leading is serving and reminded me that only what is done for Christ will last.”

For Girls

Summer Opportunities Are A Family Event

By: Lainey Batts

I just returned from my first E-TEAM trip, where we traveled to Spain. It was an incredible time that has transformed my perspective on missions and the Great Commission. But I never would have made it to Spain without the support of my family and friends. They encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try something different. E-TEAM is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Even if it means missing out on some things back home, it’s definitely worth it.

To parents and grandparents: “Uncle Neil” Gililand told us at E-TEAM training that he doesn’t struggle to find teens that want to go on summer mission trips. The struggle is finding parents and grandparents that will let their teens go. By sending your teen you are helping fulfill the Great Commission. You are helping open your teen’s eyes to the way God is working around the world. Three weeks may seem like a long time to send your teen somewhere else, but it is an important investment for the rest of their lives. Knowing that my parents and grandparents supported my decision to go gave me the freedom to completely commit to the E-TEAM experience.

To siblings and friends: For most teens, international travel is a completely new experience. That can make both students and friends nervous. Even if you are nervous, be encouraging. Be excited! God is doing great things through E-TEAM and other summer mission opportunities. Your friend or sibling is going to have unique experiences that will shape their life. Once they return home, ask good questions. Be ready to listen to their stories.

To everyone: Yes, you will miss your teen. But remember God is using this time to transform hearts and lives for His purpose. Pray for the students! Pray that their trips will have an impact on them for the rest of their lives. Pray that they will serve God and others well. Pray that they will grow in their faith. Let the students know you are praying for them. That’s a huge encouragement. It really makes a difference.

For Adults

Before You Say No

By: Ana Batts

Summertime is my favorite. VBS. Summer Camp. A break from school. So many adventures.

And now that our oldest children are in high school, summer comes with even more opportunities. Mission trips. Volunteer opportunities. E-TEAM. Truth and Peace.

All those things are great. And expensive.

It is easy to simply say no to these opportunities because funding them is terribly daunting. Here are a few tips that we have found helpful with our fundraising for these summer opportunities.

1. Figure out what your family’s financial contribution will be. In the end, fundraising only goes so far. Having a plan from the outset helps keep the finances from getting too stressful.

2. Don’t expect your church to be the primary source of fundraising for your teen’s summer adventures. We are blessed to be in a church that is incredibly supportive of our teens. But remember, churches and church members don’t have unlimited funding.

3. Think outside the box. Does your teen have a special talent? Crafting? Make something to sell.

Building? Build something to sell.

Cooking? Bake something to sell.

Photography? Offer to take family photos on Mother’s and Father’s Day weekends for donations.

Do you have access to equipment that your teen can safely use? Cutting grass. Weeding flower beds. Power washing sidewalks. All are great ways to turn time into donations.

4. Timing is everything. Take advantage of times people are already planning to spend money on special treats or gifts. Timing makes your efforts more successful.

Bake sales are great anytime but bake cakes and pies around Thanksgiving or Easter. Make special treats around Valentine’s Day.

Spring cleaning and fall yard clean up are other great seasonal opportunities.
Holidays offer unique opportunities but taking advantage of those requires advance planning. Everyone is fundraising in April and May. Don’t wait to start in the spring.

Don’t procrastinate. Plan ahead. Spread the word early.

5. Plan for your teen to work for their trip(s). Babysitting. Yard work. Cleaning house. Wrapping Christmas gifts. These and others are service opportunities and are great ways to practice serving while generating donations. Even more than that, working for these opportunities can help build a grateful heart and a good work ethic.

The first year of fundraising is always the easiest. If your teen decides on a second summer of E-TEAM, Truth and Peace, or other similar adventures, expect that it will be harder.

Plan accordingly. Start earlier. Work harder.

It is definitely worth the effort.

For Girls

What a Crazy Week

By: Hannah Gorrell

This has been the consensus of many or most of our weeks. Maybe even the last hundred weeks have felt ‘crazy’.

When feeling out of order or overwhelmed, it is easy to feel discouraged or passive towards the next day or week. Some of us may have even gone through something exceedingly difficult in the last week. Some may feel weary. Some may feel tired. While Proverbs 27:1 tells us not to boast about tomorrow, I pray that our tomorrows hold much hope and promise.

In a sense, our happiness makes us comfortable or excited for the next day. But it should not be our sole motivation. Christ’s love is still real, even when we are not ‘happy.’ We can still serve the Lord while feeling sad. Do not ignore what you are feeling. Please feel it fully. Just be reminded that you do not have to be happy to serve the Lord.

The psalmist reminds us that even though we walk through the valley, we will fear no evil. (Psalm 23) Recognize where you are in this season of life. Then stride towards the goal of serving Christ and others.

I get overwhelmed thinking about where I am in comparison to another person or based on how long I have been a Christian. Instead of comparing myself to others, I look inward to determine where I have plenty or what I lack.

We are all given different spiritual gifts. Some may have a handful of patience but lack bravery. Instead of being discouraged by comparison, be thoughtful and ask the Lord for help to be more like Him. This will allow us to use our gifts to serve Christ and others even in our crazy weeks.

For Girls

Doing the Right Thing

By: Lily Bryant

You never know when you will have to stick up for your faith; or more importantly, make a choice. About a year ago, when I was in seventh grade, I was forced to make a choice about how I was going to deal with a situation with my friends.

Every once in a while, I would hear one or two of my friends using the Lord’s name as a throw away phrase.  I would try to remind them not to, but of course it never lasted long. I tried to see it as an “oopsie,” because it’s awfully hard to not be influenced by others (especially when you hear some adults are also doing it, but that’s a story for another time). One day it felt like everybody around me was saying it all the time and I just didn’t know what to do. Later that night I decided to go to my mother for advice. She understood it was hard and encouraged me to stand up and do the right thing.

Doing the right thing can be hard, especially when it seems like everyone is doing the opposite. I knew God’s principles (especially His commandments) since I listen at church and read my Bible. I knew it wasn’t right to take the Lord’s name in vain in any way. I made sure I was being careful not to say those things or let those phrases get in my mind and come out of my mouth.

At the end of all this, I didn’t let myself be influenced by the others around me and I kept following the Word of God. Now, I am a stronger Christian and person because I didn’t give into the temptation to sin.  You can do it too – stick together God’s girls!  😊

This is Lily signing off!

For Adults

The Words of Our Mouth

By: Diana Bryant

There’s an old, old saying that goes like this: Little pitchers have big ears. It comes from the 16th century and was used by parents to signal each other that their little children (pitchers) were around. They might overhear something that was not meant for their ears (handles on the pitchers). It’s a rather obscure picture today, but the point is still true that adults should be aware of what they say within the hearing of children.

Many first-time parents have learned that the hard way. When in a very public setting, their children repeat something said in supposed privacy at home.  Most of the time it just gets a laugh, but can be more than a little embarrassing, or at the least require some explanation.

Children, both young and old, learn much of their vocabulary and expressions from listening to the grown ups in their lives. Parents, teachers, and grandparents will often hear words they have said, expressions they use, and even their inflections coming from the mouths of their babes.

Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45 tell us that the words that come out of our mouths actually came from our hearts.  Do our children hear us gossip when we’re with our friends?  Make fun of others? Are we critical of people without considering our audience? Our kids form many of their opinions of other people and shape their reactions to situations from expressions we use, ideas we express, and emotions we display.

A common thing heard by our kids today is an abundance of ways to take the Lord’s name in vain.  Taking His name in vain is so much more than just swearing. It has been abbreviated, appears in jokes, and is used so commonly that it loses it meaning and shows no reverence. Besides the obvious commandment, scripture is full of the fact that God’s name is called hallowed, precious, majestic, and glorious. In fact, we teach our children how our heart feels about God by the language they hear us use.  Regardless of the words we use to teach them, we teach them even more by the words and expressions we use in their presence.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14).

For Girls

A Journey of Obedience

By: Hannah Goucher

The minute I returned from my ETEAM trip to Japan in 2017, I knew God was calling me to be a missionary. Before this trip, I had an interest in missions but no inclination to go as a missionary. Once I sat down on the flight back to the United States, I knew that mission work was something to which God was calling me. I surrendered. From then on, I was ready to go wherever God called me. Or so I thought.

I began to study missions at Welch College in the fall of 2017, and received copious amounts of instruction, wisdom, and guidance that I will truly cherish for the rest of my life. I was fully prepared to use the things I learned and was so excited to head to the mission field as soon as possible. During my senior year, though, I let many events get in the way of being obedient to God’s calling. Some were big and some small, but either way I allowed myself to put my wants and supposed “needs” in the place of the perfect will of God. I wrestled for quite a bit of time, questioning if I was doing the right thing. In my heart I knew I was heading on a path of disobedience. Don’t get me wrong, the things I wanted to do instead of going straight to the mission field were not bad. I just began to say, “Maybe later?” when God was saying, “Now.”

I will never forget the day I decided to be obedient. I was a counselor at a teen summer camp. That night, after many nights of feeling confused in trying to go my own way, I felt the peace that comes from surrendering your will to the God Whose ways are always good.

Soon I will be returning to Japan as an intern missionary solely through the grace and goodness of God. One verse that has stuck with me throughout this journey is Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” Though it seems easy for us to establish our own plans and ideas, may we all seek to surrender to the perfect will of God.

For Adults

How Do You Feel About Laundry

By: Dawn Elliot

In a recent conversation with a young newlywed, she was lamenting how much laundry her new husband generated and how much she hated doing laundry. As we chatted, I shared with her two things.

First, I reminded her of how long she had prayed for her husband and how God had answered her prayer by allowing her to marry this godly man that she loved. Philippians 2:14 tells us to “do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Is that always easy? Absolutely not. It takes practice. And do you know how our children best learn this? When we model it. I never remember my mom complaining about household tasks, even when we came in late at night after a basketball game with dirty uniforms. She happily washed them and had them ready for the next day. Her example reminds me not to complain about household tasks but to thank God for the blessing of family and the love and the work that comes with that blessing.

Secondly, I challenged her to think of doing her husband’s mountain of laundry with an attitude of service. Galatians 5:13 reminds us to “through love serve one another.” It goes on in verse 14 to tell us that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Any command in Scripture should start in our own homes. Where better to put the principles of Scripture into practice than with the ones that we love the most. I will quickly admit that this “practice” is not always easy. I prayed for boys; I got boys. Do you know what comes with boys? A filthy bathroom. Bathroom cleaning is not my favorite chore, but it is definitely a way for me to practice serving my family with love.

While the world tells us to focus on ourselves, God’s Word tells us to serve one another in love without grumbling.  

What about you? How do you feel about laundry?