For Girls

Seeing Our Godly Mentor

By: Jenna Altom

I remember the days! The day that pimple popped up on my face to ruin all of the special pictures. The day the boy I thought might be the one broke my heart. The day I was betrayed by one of my best friends. The stress of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life after graduation. The day I chose the college to attend and then the major. The list of memories and big life changes could go on and on!

Becoming an adult happened so fast! We change and experience so much in a few short years. If I could go back to those years with the knowledge I have now, there are things I would have done differently. Now I would know not to cry so long over that boy. I would know that one day when I look back at those pictures, I won’t even notice the pimple because I was having a KILLER good hair day! I would know that, at 38 years old, I still don’t know what career I want…and that is okay!

Here are some other things I have learned.

1. Find godly mentors.

As I look back on those years of fast growth, I can see women that God placed in my life as mentors who invested in me and helped guide me through those seasons. I realize now how valuable those women were in my growing up years. As you are growing, learning, and navigating these seasons of fast changes and growth, I encourage you to seek godly women to encourage and pray with you. Even now, God puts women in my life to teach me and help carry my burdens. My Mom has consistently been the number one gal that God has used to teach me. Never underestimate your mom’s knowledge. If you look closely, you will also discover godly women in the church who can speak wisdom into your experiences.

The Bible speaks many times about one generation teaching the next. Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.”

2. Be a godly mentor.

You don’t have to be “old” to be a mentor. As we walk together in life, we are to lift each other up and encourage each other. It is a part of worship and being the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). At 38 I’m blessed to have both parents alive. I have a friend in her 20s who has lost both parents. My younger friend can understand the loss of a parent and can minister to someone experiencing the loss of a parent better than I can. Or you might have an experience that some might consider “trivial”. But to the young woman needing someone to understand her, your wisdom is priceless!

3. Jesus is our ultimate mentor.

In every season and every change, God has given me wise women, but do you know who was my Solid Rock, my Constant, my Everything through each season? Jesus, of course! Other women and moms are invaluable, but the One available 24/7, the One who listened and saw my heart when I couldn’t bring myself to say my thoughts out loud, the One Who was there before I ever took a breath…Jesus! Always there, always listening, always loving! Always Jesus! Turn to Him and trust Him in every season. Our ultimate goal is to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

For now, we travel the journey of life together, pointing those around us toward Him.

            “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20)

For Adults

Seasons

By: Pam Jones

Ecclesiastes 3:1: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the nights longer and the leaves are falling. Here in southwest Pennsylvania, we experience all four seasons and I love it. I have a sense that again this year, winter will be ushered in all too quickly. As season turns into season, year after year, time changes things.

Wasn’t it just yesterday when I had three little girls at home to care for? Now, those girls have families of their own to take care of. Just as I can’t keep the leaves from falling to the ground, I cannot change the seasons of my life. Would we really want to change them?

If I had been able to keep those three girls from growing up, would it have been the best for them or me? I absolutely love being the mom of adult women, but it has required some adjustment. The leaves don’t fall before they change from green to a beautiful color. Life changes are a process but can also be a beautiful thing.

Seasons happen when the earth axis points toward the sun. It is summer for that hemisphere. When it points away, winter can be expected. It is simple science. We can go into winter kicking and screaming and sometimes I do. But it doesn’t change a thing. So, what can we do?

  • Learn to celebrate the season.   

Try to find something you can do to get through your current season. For instance, in winter, enjoy the snow, snuggle with hot chocolate at home, decorate your home for Christmas, etc.

When you are in a winter type season in your life, try to celebrate something about the season. This season might bring illness, loss of your youth, difficult financial time, or aging parents. I might not look or feel the way I did in my 30s, but I am thankful for the opportunity to be the age I am. Some people don’t get that gift. Neither of my parents lived to be 70, so celebrate those aging parents and the gift of everyday.

  • Don’t rush the season!   

I remember so well when my girls were small, we were homeschooling. There were days that I thought we would never be finished with school! When your child is small, the days get long and it is all you can do to make it through the day. Trust me, the days are long, but the years are short! I had well-meaning people tell me that when my kids were little, but I just didn’t fully understand until they were almost grown.

Don’t rush the season you are in. It is totally natural to want to get to the next thing. It will come soon enough, and you will only have the memories. Whether it is children, aging parents, waiting on a job…don’t rush through it. Allow God to walk with you.

  • Learn from each season.

I may not have always been the best learner, but I tried to glean valuable lessons from the hard seasons. Evaluate what God might be teaching you during this challenging time.

I’m a summer girl! I love vacation, travel, swimming, 4th of July, and sun!! But if I never go through fall, winter and spring, I will never realize how wonderful summer can be!

You might be a fall person. But if the green leaves don’t die, they will never turn those beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges.

The different seasons serve a purpose. They can all be helpful. As much as I dislike winter, the snow we get helps our grass stay a beautiful green all summer long. Learn through the hard stuff. It won’t last forever.

Seasons. I’m learning to embrace them and be content with life. Just as I raised three daughters, helping all of them with schooling, boyfriend issues, broken hearts, weddings, and getting used to motherhood. I know more changes will come for them and for myself. We can’t stop the seasons or even slow them down.

One constant I have had my whole life is Jesus. He has been with me since I was 10 years old. He was with me through early adulthood. He has been with me through heartache and the loss of my parents. Jesus is the constant!

Your parent, sibling, spouse, children, and grandchildren will love you, but there is no person that will love you like Jesus. He will go with you through every season. He is the only one who can do that!

For Girls

Contentment is a Choice

By: Autumn Elliott Shuck

These days, social media is at the center of most of our lives. It is easy to get sucked into being fascinated and even obsessed with what influencers and our peers post online. The danger of this is that it can lead us to wish we had what they had or looked the way they looked. We will never be content with our lives if we constantly compare ourselves to others and strive to look better or be better. It is important to remember that, as believers, our greatest desire should be to be like Christ. Contentment can only be found in the Lord and being thankful for what he has given us and how he created all of us to be unique individuals. 1 Timothy 6:6 tells us that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” 

On the flip side of this is what we portray to the world.  We have a responsibility to reflect contentment in Christ to a world that is hurting and searching for something to fill a void in their life. Everything we post is an opportunity to show that life in Christ is what we really need.  He alone can provide real contentment and happiness.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

Matthew 6:25

For Adults

Choose Contentment

By: Dawn Elliott

We live in a society of discontentment.  Adults are always looking for a better job, more pay, a better car, a nicer house, and even more recognition.  Our children want more games, more toys, better sports equipment, the best position in sports, and better clothes. Our society is buried in debt and discontentment. The Bible commands us to be content and thankful, and, as parents, it is our job to disciple our children, teaching them godly priorities. Upon reflection, I realized that there are three essential things that I would like for my children to learn.

Contentment

Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”  As Christians, we have all we need to be content.  Jesus has promised to always be with us.  We may not have everything that we want, and life may not always be easy, but we have a Heavenly Father that has promised to be with us and supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19)

Thankfulness

I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It does not tell us to be thankful when things are good and life is comfortable, but it says to be grateful in all circumstances.  In the good, the bad, and the indifferent, God is still the same, and we have reason to be thankful.

The Value of Eternity

Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  What I have here on earth will mean nothing in eternity.  The only thing that will matter is what I have done for Christ and His kingdom.  

My children will best learn these lessons if I model them in my everyday life.  Our children tend to emulate our actions and attitudes, so what are we teaching them?  My prayer is that I will be content and thankful and that my children will learn by my example.

For Girls

What’s A Girl To Do?

By: Rachel Bryant, RN

What is one of your most prized possessions? Maybe your phone? Your gaming system? Your favorite sweater that looks so cute on you? If you have something that is important to you, you take care of it, don’t you? Well, in that same thought, YOU are important! Because of that, you should take care of yourself. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out what that actually means though. You get all kinds of advice from the internet, your friends, etc. So, what’s girl to do? Let’s go back to the basics.

Here are 5 basic health tips (that although we know, we sometimes struggle to actually do):

#1: Get the proper amount of sleep! This may seem boring, but it’s number one because it is sooo important. Your body, especially as a teenager, needs lots of sleep. Sleep is important to help your body and brain grow and develop. Sleep helps your body recover from all the busyness of your school day, afterschool programs, homework, part-time job, and all your other activities. Even though you enjoy staying up talking to your friends or binging social media videos, your body needs time to relax and de-stress. Sleep is great for this! Finally, sleep helps your body fight off all those germs you are exposed to daily so you can avoid being sick.

#2: Eat right! Now I love pizza, chips, French fries, and ice cream as much as the next girl, but those need to be special snacks on occasion and not your everyday menu. Make sure you are getting the right amount of calories (not too many, not too little) but work on spreading those out between carbs, proteins, vegetables, fruits, and then the occasional sweet treat. In addition to eating the right things, it is important to hydrate! Now I know you love your iced coffee or your sweet tea, but you need to drink water for hydration. Water is not only good for hydration; it is good for your kidney function, aids in digestion, is good for your skin, and the list goes on and on. You can have that iced coffee in the morning to get you going or in the afternoon as a pick-me-up, but then water is your best friend!

#3: Exercise! This may seem obvious that exercise is important to your health. We all know that exercising is good for healthy weight management and building muscle, but it has several other benefits as well. Exercise is great for the mind – it gives you time to think through things, get some clarity away from the busyness of life, and basically increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Exercise also helps you relax and makes you feel good. I know sometimes it does not seem like it feels good, but exercise causes your body to release endorphins and endorphins make you feel good.

#4: Limit screen time and social media! This one is more geared toward your mental health, but still so important. Pull yourself away from the screen (game, tv, movies, laptop, etc.) and get outside, play a board game, talk to people, go for a walk (see #3), learn a new skill, or clean your room (it probably needs it). Limiting social media allows you to be present in the world around you. This can help you get some perspective on things. Remember what you see online may not be accurate or even true but getting out and seeing things and talking to people for yourself can really help ground you. It also helps you grow and develop skills you need for life.

#5: Wait! We know the Bible tells us that sex is supposed to be between a man and woman in the covenant of marriage. However, sometimes we forget God has good reasons for telling us to wait. He knows it is the healthy thing for us. Sex outside of marriage can create mental health struggles like feelings of inadequacy, hurt feelings, loneliness, shame, or regret. Physically, it is not healthy to have multiple sexual partners. This puts you at risk for infections, cancer, and unplanned pregnancy (no matter what you think you are doing to avoid those things). This includes all kinds of sexual behaviors! Practice self-control and demand it from others.

Bonus: Spend time with God!! This tip for spiritual health is the most important tip I can give you. No matter what else you do, your spiritual health is paramount! Make a priority of reading your Bible everyday – the more you read it, the more it sinks in. Hiding God’s Word in your heart can help you in lots of situations you encounter. When something happens or you’re struggling with something, He can bring a verse or story to your mind to help you deal with it. You should also make every effort to attend church on Sunday mornings so you can hear the Word of God preached.  Sometimes it is hard on your own to read and then understand the Bible but listening to a preacher who has studied the Word can help with that. Finally, spend time with Christian friends. In has been proven, you become like those that you hang out with. Make sure your friends are helping you grow closer to God and not pulling you away.

For Girls

Identity in Christ

By: Rachel Munsey Jackson

When I was born, my parents knew within hours that I was very ill. My kidneys were covered with cysts and I was in kidney failure at birth! Fast forward seven years and I could barely walk through the grocery store. Thankfully, I wasn’t really aware of how sick I was because I had always lived with the symptoms. My dad donated me a kidney when I was seven years old. That was the time I realized just how sick I had been my whole life because I felt better for the first time. I was placed on a laundry list of medicines that I still take and will take forever. Naturally, my health became a large part of my identity. 

It’s an interesting study in humanity to observe in what earthly things people find their identity – hobbies, politics, fandoms, and even chronic illnesses to name a few. My own identity is shaped by earthly things too. I am a cat lady, kidney transplant recipient, and most recently, hopeful adoptive mama. While reflecting on my childhood experience for this blog post, I asked myself how I handled chronic illness as a child. The main thing that came to mind was that my identity was found in Christ. There were other things too. I was a little sister and a singer. I cherished my baby dolls. But had I lost my family, stopped singing, or ditched dolls for monster trucks, I would have still found my identity in Jesus Christ because I knew He loves me.

Matthew 6:33 says, “…seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” In life, nothing is guaranteed except for Christ. Life will throw you curveballs, even when you are young. Earthly things can be a part of your identity, but don’t let those things be your identity. Our likes are fleeting, hobbies come and go, and even relationships and health aren’t forever. The only thing that is eternal is Christ. Seek first His Kingdom. Plant your identity firmly in Him and face those curveballs life throws. 

For Adults

Lesson Learned

By: Mitzi Munsey Satterfield

Learning that your precious baby was born with a serious illness is a difficult challenge for any parent.

Rachel was our third child. She was a beautiful baby, but our celebration soon became solemn and sad.  Rachel was born with a very rare chronic illness that would affect the rest of her life.  We would learn to depend upon God in ways we never dreamed.

I believe God gifts children who are born sick with an extra portion of grace. Their illness is their reality and they often do not realize how different they may be. Rachel was a happy child, but after her renal transplant at age seven she experienced what “feeling good” really meant.

Prayer is always necessary, but I also want to share some practical tips I learned in my journey with Rachel.

First, get organized.  A notebook to keep all doctor notes, appointment dates, medication lists, test results, and questions to discuss at the next visit made all the difference.  That notebook never left my side for 18 years.

Educate yourself about your child’s illness.  Find out about support groups or any resources that might help. Learn about every medication your child takes, its purpose, and side effects.

Respect your child. Rachel learned at a young age how to communicate with adults. I encouraged her to ask questions of the doctors. I knew her understanding of her illness would change as she aged. My ultimate goal was for her to learn to make appropriate medical decisions for herself as an adult.

Do not neglect your other children.  After Rachel’s birth my life was totally occupied with her survival. When she was two months old, I realized I had not hugged her brother and sister enough.  I immediately made some changes.

Encourage your child’s relationship with God.  Pray constantly that she will seek the Lord early in her life. In one particularly painful medical procedure Rachel turned her tear-filled eyes toward me and asked why did Eve eat that apple.  She was five years old, and already understood the origin of sin and the consequences of Eve’s sin.

Rachel did accept the Lord as her Savior at a young age. I am so grateful to God that my precious girl is now a happily married school teacher, a graduate of Welch College, and a vibrant Christian.

She recently had her second renal transplant and is doing very well.

PS: Read Rachel’s story on the Shine blog for girls.

For Girls

He is Able

By: Catherine Blades

How often do I limit God? As I wrote this question down, the words seemed to scream at me. Our God is almighty. He is awesome and powerful. I know this; yet, I choose to make Him powerless. I wrote that question down after I read this quote by Oswald Chambers:

“God can do nothing until I recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, allowing Him to do what is impossible.” 

When I was in school, the most frequent question I got was, “What are your plans?” If you’re a student or recent graduate, you know this question. What do you want to be when you grow up? Our dreams start out big. We want to build amazing architecture around the world, be an olympic gymnast, famous baseball player, big time farmer, skilled nurse, talented doctor, etc. But as we grow up our plans begin to shrink, becoming more practical. 

The same thing can happen to our faith. I read verses that declare God’s greatness and I think, “How great is our God. I have nothing to be worried about.” Later, when faced with hard choices, those truths seem to slip my mind. God promises to never leave or forsake us, but when we have “real” obstacles our response is often what can ”I” do to overcome this. 

God doesn’t ask for perfection. He loves to take our weakness and make it His strength. Sometimes we ask God to work things out and are disappointed when He doesn’t answer like we thought He would. Did we ask God for something that only He could do, or something we thought He could manage?

Isaiah 55:8-9

 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  

 Ephesians 3:20 

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us to Him be the glory.”  

Someone once said that we should do something big enough that if God does not step in, we will fail. This is a nice quotation to have as a background on our phone or in a cute picture frame on the wall, but it is harder to live out than I’d like to admit. However, God calls us to be doers. 

I don’t know if you are in the same boat with me–afraid to step outside what’s comfortable. Maybe you are battling with a choice. The question I put to myself and to you is this, “What choice will show -beyond any doubt- that God was at work?” Are you tempted to choose the achievable? 

We have to remember that God is much wiser than we are. If He doesn’t establish your big plans, don’t be discouraged. God has not abandoned you. He simply asks that we trust Him to lead.  

What would happen if I stopped limiting God? The impossible becomes everyday possibilities.    

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.