For Girls

Thorn In The Flesh

By: Debbie Driscoll

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Many of us suffer from having a thorn in our flesh, just like the Apostle Paul did in 2 Corinthians 12. For some of us, this thorn could be a bad relationship that we are dealing with, for others it could be a physical weakness, yet for others it could be an issue of personal sin. Whatever the struggle, thorns are never fun to live with. They are annoying and, most of the time, quite painful.

Nobody likes to have thorns in their flesh. I remember getting one stuck in the palm of my hand not that long ago. Immediately, all I could think of or wanted to do was getting that thorn out of my skin. I did not care how, I just wanted it out! I started looking around for tweezers and needles, and, once I found them, I used them to poke at my skin, with the hopes of getting that little intruder out of my body. Of course, in my impatience and desire to get rid of the pain at all costs, I ended up causing more damage (and pain) to myself by using my non-disinfected instruments too hastily and without caution. Not only did I fail to take out the thorn, but I managed to create a deep wound in my hand that took several days to heal.

Don’t we do this in our walk with God, too? So often, when we get a “thorn in the flesh,” we start poking at it, trying to remove the source of pain with our own strength. However, just as Paul teaches, sometimes God allows thorns in our flesh in order to use them to mold our character. It is in those moments of discomfort that God reminds us of His sufficient grace in our lives. Thus, when a moment of weakness arises, may we refuse to rely on our own strength, and instead allow God’s strength to sustain us and His abounding grace to take care of us in our pain. 

For Girls

Riding to Victory

By: Brittany Hernandez

A couple months ago my husband and I bought bikes. I totally got a purple mom bike with a basket. Its pretty much amazing. I try to at least 4-5 times through out the week go on an evening bike ride ALONE!

I like to take 30-60 min and ride around town and listen to some worship music and just pray. At first it was a little difficult. Those hills were killing my legs. To be honest I was not enjoying it but I knew I needed the time alone, and I was getting a work out in.

What I have started to notice is those hills getting a little easier to climb, and noticed that when I continue to peddle downhill I build up momentum for the next hill. This may sound silly to you, but the other night as I was ridding I felt like God was showing me a picture of life. There are always hills to climb. Some small, some a little bit larger. But at some point you start to go back down. How true is that in life.

Sometimes we have battles and mountains we have to climb. Sometimes we are down low in the valley trying to get up the mountain but the pain is so much to endure it seems impossible. But, the more we peruse and keep pushing upward and the more consistent we stay in the word and prayer the more momentum we have when we have to climb. I don’t know where you are at right now. I don’t know if you are just getting started or have been peddling like crazy. I do know you have to start somewhere and stay disciplined. But with hard work and the determination to life a life of victory and truth you can do it.

So if you are trying to peddle out of the valley up the hill and you are tired, keep pushing. Do not give up. Greater is He! It is worth the climb and the pain of the ride. When the ride is over, there is victory.

For Adults

Riding To Victory

By: Brittany Hernandez

A couple months ago my husband and I bought bikes. I totally got a purple mom bike with a basket. Its pretty much amazing. I try to at least 4-5 times through out the week go on an evening bike ride ALONE!

I like to take 30-60 min and ride around town and listen to some worship music and just pray. At first it was a little difficult. Those hills were killing my legs. To be honest I was not enjoying it but I knew I needed the time alone, and I was getting a work out in.

What I have started to notice is those hills getting a little easier to climb, and noticed that when I continue to peddle downhill I build up momentum for the next hill. This may sound silly to you, but the other night as I was ridding I felt like God was showing me a picture of life. There are always hills to climb. Some small, some a little bit larger. But at some point you start to go back down. How true is that in life.

Sometimes we have battles and mountains we have to climb. Sometimes we are down low in the valley trying to get up the mountain but the pain is so much to endure it seems impossible. But, the more we peruse and keep pushing upward and the more consistent we stay in the word and prayer the more momentum we have when we have to climb. I don’t know where you are at right now. I don’t know if you are just getting started or have been peddling like crazy. I do know you have to start somewhere and stay disciplined. But with hard work and the determination to life a life of victory and truth you can do it.

So if you are trying to peddle out of the valley up the hill and you are tired, keep pushing. Do not give up. Greater is He! It is worth the climb and the pain of the ride. When the ride is over, there is victory.

For Adults

The Promises of God

Promises can be found all over the place!  Ads on television promise everything from to beautiful white teeth to cars that parallel park themselves. Pill bottles promise you’ll lose 20 pounds or have more energy. Sometimes your children promise “I’ll feed him and walk him and clean up after him!” when a new puppy is in question. If you think back over your life, memories of promises broken stick with you much longer than promises kept. We expect promises to be kept, and when they aren’t it causes disappointment and discouragement. Proverbs 13:12 tells us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick”.

Christmas reminds us of the biggest, best promise kept! The promise of a Savior and the hope of eternal life with the God who created us. Talk about hope! Because that’s what promises really are – a reason to hope. Those promises, all that hope, is found throughout scripture. The Bible is full of hope for our everyday lives, hope for our future, hope for answers to our dilemmas and wisdom to navigate our lives.

Knowing and recognizing the kept promises of God can be a great thing to share with your daughter. Look for opportunities to point out how God provides, and when He keeps His promises.  Talk about the promises, use them to reassure, quote them to encourage, and refer to them when there are decisions to be made.  To do this, you have to know the promises and recognize them yourself.  Maybe you could make it a point in your devotional time this coming year to search out, memorize, and meditate on God’s promises. Perhaps you’ll want to list them, and note examples from your own life experiences of God’s faithfulness.  Then look for opportunities to share those with your daughter.  Help her see that they apply to her too, if she’s a child of God. Help her to recognize God working in her life.

Seeing God’s faithfulness should also make us more careful with our own promises.  If you promise to pray for someone, pray, maybe stopping right where you are to bring their need to the Lord. If you promise someone an answer “soon”, figure it out and give them their answer. If you make a promise to your children that you are then not able to keep, explain why and offer an alternative solution. Since we know kids learn by what they see in our lives everyday, help them learn trust and respect by keeping your word. Try not to make promises to your kids that you can’t be sure you can keep, perhaps telling them you will “do your best”. When your daughter experiences a broken promise from a friend, a boy, or a teacher, talk to her about resilience, forgiveness, and learning how to how to deal with disappointment.

This Christmas, undoubtedly there will be some “promises kept” and some “hope deferred” in all those packages under the tree, but let’s make sure to emphasize as much as we can the incredible promise God kept on that first Christmas!

For Girls

The Promises of God

“I promise!”

Have you ever been told this? Imagine needing help with something pretty big, then your best friend promises to help you. Great, right? Imagine if it took her 4 days to help you. Depending on what you needed help with, that could be hard to wait that long. You might start wondering if your friend really was going to help you. You might start thinking she’s forgotten about you. You might be tempted to just try to do it by yourself or come up with another solution.

This is what the children of Israel felt like. They had been told they were the chosen people of God. Since God’s covenant with Abraham, they waited for God to fulfill his promise of salvation. They didn’t really know how he was going to save them, but he had promised, so they were waiting. However, it didn’t take 4 days, 4 weeks or 4 years. In fact, there was a gap of 400 years where they didn’t even hear from God. It’s understandable that they started questioning things. Then one night, God’s promise was fulfilled with the birth of Jesus, the hope and salvation of the world.

The best news about this? That promise of salvation continues today and is available to us! What’s more, God has given us His Word where he makes many more promises to us. And God is good enough and powerful enough to be able to keep those promises. Having faith that God will keep His promises offers great hope, peace, and assurance to us as we navigate this life.

However, in order to have faith in God’s promises, you have to know God’s promises. The best way to know the promises of God is to read His Word. Studying the Scripture allows you to remind yourself of all the ways the Lord has promised to take care of us.  For example, He promises to always be with us (Deuteronomy 31:8); He promises to have plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11); He promises peace beyond understanding (John 14:27); He promises to hear our prayers (1 John 5:14); He promises to work things for our good (Romans 8:28); and He promises us salvation (1 John 1:9).  There are literally thousands more promises in the Bible! When you read the Bible (which hopefully you are doing every day!), make a note, underline, highlight, or star every time you read a promise from God. This helps you when you are struggling and need to remind yourself of who God is or what He has promised. You can also keep a list somewhere of all the times God fulfills His promises to you personally. Sometimes it is a promise in the Bible made to all Christians, or sometimes it is something He has done for you personally. Making a list helps you to remember how good God is, especially in the difficult times. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel often erected a monument or alter in the place where God had rescued them or done something for them. They did this so that they would have a reminder and they would tell their children about it so that they would know too (Joshua 4:21-24).

Knowing, studying, and remembering the promises of God offers us the help we need. We don’t have to worry if God has forgotten us and we don’t have to try to do it on our own. Like we are reminded at Christmas when God kept His promise to bring a Savior, we can know that God will continue to keep His promises today!

For Girls

Grateful

By: Jennifer Thomsen

Thanksgiving is a good time to be reminded we should be thankful. We have much to be thankful for, but sometimes we just don’t have an attitude of gratitude. Teen years are hard, and other girls can be mean.

First Samuel 1 and 2 tells the story of Hannah. Hannah desperately wanted a baby. She went to the temple and pleaded with God. Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk. After talking to Hannah, Eli told Hannah to go in peace, that God would grant her request. God gave Hannah a son, whom she named Samuel.

In Chapter 2, we find Hannah praising God for His goodness. This happens right before she left young Samuel to serve at the temple with Eli. I admit, my heart would have been breaking to know what was about to happen. Yet, Hannah kept a thankful spirit.

Here are some important lessons we can learn from Hannah: she spent time with God. When she had a problem, she took it to God. She let God see her for who she truly was. Hannah didn’t try to hide her emotions; she left it all on the altar. Hannah believed God would answer her prayers, and she put her faith and trust completely in Him.

Since thankfulness is taught throughout the Bible, here are a few suggestions to help us be more thankful.

  • For each day in November, list one thing you are thankful for.
  • Keep a gratitude journal for a year. List several things each day for which you are thankful. Number your list, so at the end of the year, you can see how many reasons you have to be thankful. Your list should contain things both big and small.  
  • Have a thankful jar. Use any container you like and fill it with craft sticks on which you have written things you are thankful for. When you are not feeling thankful, pull a stick and remember God’s blessings.

God wants us to have an attitude of thankfulness. In Luke 17: 11-19, we find the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers. While ten lepers were healed, only one returned to thank Jesus for his healing. I wonder how many times I have been one of the nine who forgot to thank God.

For Adults

Gratitude

By: Jennifer Thomsen

November is known as the month for giving thanks. But if we can be grateful for one month, why don’t we maintain an attitude of gratitude year-round? How can we help our girls if we aren’t maintaining a grateful spirit ourselves? We will always encounter times in our lives when bad things happen, and we just don’t feel like being thankful. We can do some things before hard times hit to help us stay thankful.

We can learn a lot from Hannah in 1 Samuel 1-2. In chapter 1, we see a very distraught Hannah. Hannah wanted a baby more than anything. She did the only thing she knew to do; she went to the temple and pleaded with God. I’m not sure if few people were praying in the temple, or if it was her profound burden and emotions that made Eli think she was drunk. Eli told her to go in peace, that God would grant her request. And He did.

Chapter 2 starts with a prayer from Hannah. She proclaimed God’s goodness for 11 verses. Hannah praised God right before leaving her young son, her answer to prayer, at the Temple to serve with Eli. As a mom, my heart would have been breaking to know what was about to happen. I would be a hot mess! Not Hannah. She was thankful and took time to express her thankfulness to God.

From Hannah, we learn some simple lessons about gratitude that we can apply to our lives and teach our girls. Hannah spent time with God. When she had a problem, she took it to God. She let God see her for who she truly was. Hannah didn’t try to hide her emotions; she left it all on the altar. Hannah believed God would answer her prayers, and she put her faith and trust completely in Him.

First Thessalonians 5:16 -18 tells us to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything. This is nothing new. In the Old Testament, the concept of giving thanks is described over a hundred times, and thankfulness comes up 71 times in the New Testament. If thankfulness is so prevalent throughout the entire Word of God, shouldn’t we practice gratitude every day in our own lives?

Here are a few suggestions to start being more thankful:

  • For each day of November, list one thing for which you are thankful. This may be a something that continues after November ends.
  • One thing I started this year is a gratitude journal. I list several things a day I am thankful for. Make sure to number the list, so that at the end of the year, you can look back and see how many things you are thankful for. This list has so many possibilities. If I experience something new or extra fun, I list it. When I witness God at work in a situation, I write it down. Even everyday things I take for granted are listed, such as glasses, medicine, or even heat or air conditioning.

These suggestions will help you focus on things for which you are grateful, but what about when hard times come your way? Living with an everyday attitude of gratitude will help you, for sure, but several years ago my daughter gave me a present that helps remember good things when I’m just not feeling thankful. It’s a mason jar with craft sticks in it. My daughter started the collection by writing down things she saw in me for which she was thankful. I have added to the jar when I think of things. When I’m feeling blue, I just read as many craft sticks as needed to remind me I have so much to be thankful for. When we have the correct mind of thankfulness ourselves, we can teach and model for our students how they can also cultivate their own spirit of gratitude.

God likes for us to have an attitude of thankfulness. In Luke 17:11-19, we find the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers. What a remarkable and sad story. Ten lepers were healed, but only one returned to thank Jesus for being healed. I wonder how many times I have been one of the nine who forgot to thank God for something. My wish, both for myself and you, is that you not only remember to thank God for the big and small blessings, but that you help your girls start this practice at a young age.

For Girls

Searching for Good Friendship

By: Catherine Blades

Can I tell you a story? I want to tell you about a young girl who desperately sought a good friendship that would last. I’ll go ahead and spoil the surprise, this story is mine. Growing up I always noticed others and the close knit friends they seemed to have. I was a little jealous of their relationship. I prayed so many nights for God to send a good friend my way. It seemed like He didn’t hear or that it must be a very small matter compared to the great needs in the world. I desired a “best friend” so badly that I became friends with anyone who seemed to have anything in common with me. I never noticed until later the influence these friends would have on my character. Little by little, I picked up on their way of thinking, their speech, and their priorities.

It can be easy to find companions who are not committed to God. Someone once told me, “You are who you are around.” It’s so true! Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” God made us to desire friendship. Life can be tough, but God does not ask us to walk it alone. If we trust in Him fully He will give us travel buddies along the way. Good friends will keep us accountable to following God. I eventually found those friends in high school and in college. They have been a constant encouragement and have held me accountable to God’s Word.

Can I tell you something else? Even if you feel, as I did, that you don’t have any good close friends or never will find that best friend, you do have One. Christ is the greatest friend we could ever have. Exodus 33:11 describes how the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to a friend. If you look through Proverbs, it is filled with friendship! Proverbs 18:24 describes a friend that is closer than a brother. Christ is a friend that will never leave when things get hard, or gossip about your struggles. He’s a friend that you can always rely on. Friendship is important to God. My Prayer for you is that you would seek friendships that challenge you to grow closer to God. I hope you stop to consider the influence those closest to you have on your character. It took me a long time to realize how important this was, and now I am so thankful for my dear friends.      

For Adults

What Do I Strive to Be as a Parent?

By: Melinda Walker

Yesterday my dad had a stroke. I didn’t know how bad it was, I didn’t know his condition, I didn’t know anything. But I did know I needed to get there. Living almost 15 hours away from them makes it difficult.  I needed to be there for my dad, to actually see him, to receive all the information I so desperately needed, but I also needed to be there for my mom, to let her know she wasn’t alone, to help in any way I could.

My dad is a wonderful Christian man who never meets a stranger and loves children. He is the best father who has always been my encourager and my hero. My mom is a wonderful Christian woman, a prayer warrior, who always took care of my needs growing up and provided a great example of a Christian mom that I try to be daily. When God made her, He knew there wouldn’t be anyone else like her. She was and still is totally faithful to her husband, family, church, friends, country, and most importantly, God. She lives a busy life.

What do I strive to be as a parent? I have 2 daughters, 22 & 25 years old. When they were younger, my goal wasn’t to be their best friend. Instead, it was to raise them how God wanted me to raise them. My husband and I dedicated them to the Lord when they were babies and we made a promise to God to raise them in a Christian home, teach them about God and His love, and to let Him have control of their lives. Were we perfect parents? Of course not. Far from it!  But I knew each and every day they were His and He gave them to us for a purpose.

My parents instilled in me the value of teaching my children about the love of God. They cared for me, taught me about Jesus, took me to church every time the doors were open, and met all my needs (not wants) and that means the world to me. So, I’ve tried to do as my parents did. Hopefully my girls have been able to see His light shining through me just as I saw through my parents.

As I sit here with my dad, reminiscing of what both he and my mom did for me growing up, I can tell you that, in my eyes, they did exactly what God expected them to do. The Bible they read to me, my brother, and sister came to life each day they lived their lives as we were growing up and even more now. “Love the Lord your God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and with all thy strength” Mark 12:30 & “Love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:31. As they have shown me through their lives, I want my girls to see the same from me.

What do you strive to be as a parent? Who do you look to as an example and why? What will your children remember about you when they are grown? Do you live a life that is pleasing to Him and is it making an impact on your children’s lives? God doesn’t say we have to be perfect parents, we’re human. But we do need to always strive to be like Him. God gave us our children for a purpose. They need the example of good Christian parents to show them how God wants them to live…Totally faithful to Him.

Just as my parents took care of me as a child, now it’s my time to care for them when I am needed and to let them know that what they taught me as a child, is still deeply ingrained in me. Knowing that I still look to my God for healing, strength, comfort, and peace through this time can be a testament of their faithfulness to Him throughout my life.    

For Girls

Friends

By: Melinda Walker

One of my favorite songs when I was in high school (such a long time ago) was Michael W. Smith’s “Friends”. I was even able to sing it with one of my friends during our senior night for high school choir. The words of the chorus are:

“And friends are friends forever

If the Lord’s the Lord of them

And a friend will not say never

‘Cause the welcome will not end

Though it’s hard to let you go

In the Father’s hands we know

That a lifetime’s not too long

To live as friends”

I will have to admit, while I was in school, I had good friends and I, also, had bad friends. I still communicate with my good friends from time to time. But my other “friendships” faded once they found something or someone else better.

How do you decide who your friends are? Do you look at how pretty they are? What kind of car they drive? How much money they (or their parents) have? Or how popular they are?

How do you feel about your current friends? Do they really care about you? Do they lead you down a path that you don’t need to go? Or do they lift you up and keep you going on the right path as a Christian? Are they going to be your forever friend no matter where life takes you?

In this world there are people that lie, cheat, manipulate, steal, and do so many things that don’t match up with the Christian life. But yet, we still follow them and call them our friends. Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe God wants us to be kind and friendly to people, even those who do wrong. My daughters often called these friends “acquaintances” because they would talk to them during school and play sports with them, but never hung out with them because they did things that my girls didn’t agree with. And the “acquaintances” knew that, and for the most part, I think the “acquaintances” respected them for that. There has to be a line drawn so others can see that we, as Christians, don’t accept what they are doing and that we, as Christians, are different. How are you showing others you are different and that you love God if others don’t see you as any different than they are? 

I will admit, it’s hard to be different. And at times, it can be lonely. But God! He always provides us with what we need at the time we need it. If you feel lonely, God is always there for you. If you’re tired of being different, He can help you and encourage you. Proverbs 18:24 says “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”.  Never forget that God is there for you, whenever you need that friend to help you through everything in this life.

Let me encourage you, if you haven’t found that person yet, to pray for that friend who will stand by you, encourage & motivate you, be your friend through thick and thin, be your accountability partner, and love God and want to walk in His ways just like you. When you find that person, they will be your friend for a lifetime, no matter where God may lead you.