Blog

For Adults

Dealing With the Storms

by Rachel Bryant

If you could go back and give your teenage self some advice, what would it be? I have been asked that question many times.

My first thought is always something along the lines of don’t sweat the small stuff. That basically defines the things that felt like “my life is over” as a teenager but weren’t all that serious. Remember that questionable haircut?  Then I remind myself at that time in my life, it wasn’t “small stuff.” I wonder if when I’m 20 years older than I am now, I’ll still have the same feelings if someone asks me about my advice to my middle-aged self? (Ouch, middle-aged! Ugh!) Despite how situations or disasters feel 20 years down the road, in the here and now, they are real!

Whether our own children or those we have influence over, our girls are dealing with real storms of life. Do you remember your tween/teen years?! Those storms were real to you then, and today’s girls are dealing with so much more than we ever did! We all are dealing with storms of life and crisis moments, but as “grown-ups,” we have more experience dealing with them and navigate through them a little smoother (or so we like to think!).

In recent months, all of us have experienced unprecedented “crisis-mode” situations. Yours probably looked different from mine, which looked different from hers, hers, and hers, but we can all agree that this has not been normal! We are trying to keep our heads above water while at the same time presenting to our girls and those around us how we, as Christians, deal with a crisis.  

When you learn CPR, you’re taught to “look, listen, and feel” to determine if someone is breathing. Using this same mantra, we can find our source of strength and peace in crisis or storm, and we can show others how to find it as well.

Look – Look to God! Simple as that. Read His Word noticing all the times He promises peace and shelter in the time of storm. During storms, increase how much time you spend in the Scripture. Focus on Scriptures about His protection, His peace, His love, whatever it is you need at that time. Search the Scriptures, use commentaries to focus on one subject, listen to praise music or hymns, do everything you can to keep your focus on God.

Listen – Listen to God! I suppose you can listen to someone you aren’t talking to, but that seems more like eavesdropping. Talk to God and listen to His response. Tell Him everything and anything you are thinking about, worried about, wondering about, etc. He knows already, but He longs for us to talk to Him. “Praying without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is the constant and open line of communication with our Father. As we pour out our hearts to Him, He will give us His peace and speak truth and love back to us.

Feel – Feel His peace! This is a tricky one. The Bible warns us that the “heart is deceitful” (Jeremiah 17:9), so we know our feelings are not always the best barometer of truth. However, when we lean into Him and have His peace, it is evident in those around us. This includes the girls we are trying to help as they navigate their storms. We know as believers that ultimately, this world is not our home. That takes the “scary” power from this world and the dominions at work here. We also know God promises He is with us and will watch over us (Genesis 28:15) and promises to work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), though sometimes that looks different than what we think. If we yield to the Lord’s plans, we can have His peace, no matter the storm.

Challenge: You can also use the idea of “look, listen, and feel” to see how our girls deal with their crises.  

Look at them—see how they are acting and reacting to life. Sometimes it’s the little signs we have to pick up on to realize they are in a crisis. Help them assess situations, answer questions, problem-solve, most importantly, point them to God.

Listen to them—sometimes just let them talk, ask questions (open-ended) and really listen to them. Ask follow-up questions. Ask about all various aspects of their life. Make it conversational. Be careful not to sound like an interrogation. Doing activities together provides great talk-time without it feeling like an interview.

Feel for them—have sympathy (or empathy) for the storms they are experiencing. It may not seem like a big deal to you. But if it is important to them, make it important to you. Offer advice carefully and thoughtfully. But most of all, remind them they are loved, by you and by God.

For Girls

Remaining Calm in the Storm

by Rachel Bryant

Have you ever been outside and suddenly caught in a huge thunderstorm? My family was on vacation, walking around in a downtown area, when a scary thunderstorm suddenly started out of nowhere. In the deluge of rain, thunder clapping, and lightning flashing, my whole family ran down the sidewalk trying to find shelter. As we were crossing a street, my youngest cousin couldn’t take it anymore. She stopped in the middle of the crosswalk, planted her feet, and started crying and screaming, refusing to move! We all felt the same way but had to keep moving to find refuge from the storm.

Do you know the story of the disciples in the boat during a big storm? (Read Mark 4:35–41) Basically, they were in the middle of a storm that could overturn their boat and kill them. They were terrified! They probably wanted to cry and scream too. But Jesus was there! He commanded the storm, “Peace, be still,” and instantly, the storm calmed. Amazing!

During the storms in our life, which sometimes feel terrifying, wouldn’t this be nice?! Jesus may not literally be in our boat and may not always make our storms disappear instantly, but He has given us His power to make it through the storms and remain calm.

When I am dealing with crises or storms of life, I try to focus on the Scriptures and God’s truths. I want to give you two of the most helpful Scriptures for me. What are some Scriptures you cling to? If you don’t know any, start reading His Word, and He will show you some, I promise!

2 Timothy 1:7: “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” reminds me first and foremost that God does not want us to give in to our fears. He doesn’t want them to control us. Having a “spirit of fear” indicates more than just a fleeting worry but feels more like a “dwelling” on the fears. This is so easy to do – you know how this feels – always running the fears and worries through our minds, a constant play-by-play of the dreaded “what ifs” of all the bad possibilities.

Stop! God did not create us to be in constant worry and fear! But the last part of this verse is super helpful in these spiraling out of control fearful thoughts – God gave us a sound mind! God gave us the mind to be rational and reasonable and put a stop to the thoughts from the Devil of the fears that he loves to pound us with. This sound mind gives us the ability to say, “Stop!”

So then, if we can get ourselves to stop the fear and worries, then what? That’s where my second verse comes in. Philippians 4:8: Finally, “Sisters,” whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Once you can put a stop to the crisis-mode thinking, fill your thoughts with these things.

Sometimes I focus on just the first one – what. is. true. When you are in a storm of life, it can be hard to find things that are “honorable” or “lovely,” so focus on the truth, which comes from God. If you can’t find any other good truth in life, here’s one: the God of the universe loves YOU and wants to help you through this crisis!

Putting this formula together, we can stop the spirit of fear in its tracks and then use our sound mind to focus our thoughts on truth. This clarity allows us to think through the crisis in front of us and remain calm to determine what needs to be done. Our storm may not immediately calm as it did for the disciples, but we can clearly see how to find refuge. Ultimately, our shelter is in God, and He will help you and offer His peace during your storm, whatever it is.

Challenge: If you are new to Bible reading, or even if you have read it “all your life,” – read through the book of Psalms. The men who wrote the Psalms were going through crises and storms. But they were praising God for the peace He offers and that He is always our refuge, a shelter in the time of storm!

For Girls, Uncategorized

Always Growing

In Matthew 7, we are cautioned to observe the fruits grown by all people. Matthew writes we should beware of those who come graciously disguised but are deceitful having intentions to harm. We should know these imposters, he says, based on their fruit.

This concept seems abstract, but it is true, every person has a fruitful life in some way. Thankfully, we do not have fruit growing from our arms and legs. Instead, Jesus uses this analogy to explain that our lives show the products (fruits) of our decisions. For example, those who practice their sport for hours and hours may produce winning scores for their teams. Thus, the fruit they bear from their hard work would be a win.

Interestingly, the passage never suggests that our lives bear no fruit, but only that our fruit is either good or bad. This challenges us to always be aware of what we grow and cultivate with our time, thoughts, and actions.

John 15 gives further explanation reminding us that we, as branches, are to be rooted in the Vine, who is Jesus. It’s interesting to note the trunk nor vine is where the fruit grows. Instead the trunk feeds and supports the branches. John tells us when we rely on Jesus, the True Vine, we will bear much good fruit. Others will know this by observing our fruit. Combining these parables reminds us we are to practice what we wish to bear. This practice requires us to be rooted in the One we want to resemble, our True Vine, Jesus Christ.

For Girls

Making Good Choices

by Diana Bryant

Have you ever thought about how many decisions you make each day? It starts with “do I get up when my alarm goes off or hit snooze?” Then you decide what to wear, how to do your hair, what to eat for breakfast. It continues throughout the day. Many decisions have no real significant consequences, but other choices can have much farther reaching effects. You know what happens when you choose to watch one more episode of your favorite show instead of studying for your math test. But do you realize what it can mean to your future when you choose one group of friends over another? Or when you choose to make time each day to read your Bible?

The truth is, life is really a series of choices and consequences.  All choices have outcomes, ranging from insignificant to life changing. Choices can complicate your life or make it easier. Choices can affect your health and your relationships, and some choices can have spiritual and eternal significance.

How do we grow in our ability to make good choices? What guidelines can we use to make the best choices more often?

**Be intentional about spending time in God’s Word. Every day, even if it’s only a few verses a day. The principles and wisdom in Scripture will take root and make good choices easier to recognize. Packed full of wisdom, the book of Proverbs tells us that God wants us to delight in truth and knowledge. Reading a Proverb each day will go a long way towards building up a storehouse of wisdom to help you make good choices.

**Learn to think past the present choice to the probable outcome of the choice. “If I choose to go where friends want me to go, will it be a good environment, or can I imagine problems that might come up?” “If I send this text, what reaction will it cause when it’s read?” “How will I feel if my parents or others find out about this possible action?”

**Learn from other godly examples in your life. Watch their lives and habits, pay attention to how they spend their time. See the choices they make. Ask for their advice when you’re not sure which way to go. Believe it or not, your Mom, Sunday school teacher, and even your Grandma has made some of the very same choices that give you trouble. They’ve learned a thing or two by the outcomes of their choices.  They would be glad to share some of that wisdom with you. You might even hear some good stories!

**Learn the difference between choices that only seem important—like which pair of jeans to buy, and choices that really are important—like choosing friends who encourage you and help you grow instead of causing you to go in directions you know are not right. Give more thought to making decisions that have bigger consequences than the choices that are not as significant.

**Make your own choices, don’t be manipulated or forced to make decisions based on pressure from someone else. Many times, uncomfortable feelings of pressure from someone is an indication you need to think twice or seek advice.

**Learn from choices you make—both good and bad, and apply those lessons to situations you find yourself in. Remember how certain choices made you feel. Think about how decisions you’ve made affected your life. You’ll notice good choices most often result in better relationships, better health, less trouble and drama in your life, and more progress in whatever you happen to be working toward.

Proverbs 3:13-14 says, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom and the one who gets understanding. For the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold”. You’ll be making choices all your life. Learn now to make good ones!

For Adults, Uncategorized

Helping Our Girls Make Good Choices

by Diana Bryant

We make dozens of choices each day. Usually the first one is whether to get up when the alarm goes off or hit the snooze button. It continues from there. What will I wear today? Will I curl my hair or just pull it back in a ponytail? What do I want for breakfast? These are, in the whole scheme of things, minor choices we habitually make by the time we’re adults.

Our girls face not only these minor decisions, but many others with far more substantial consequences every day. In truth, they face a lot of choices we never had to make. Temptation and pitfalls come packaged very differently these days and can look far more attractive than we remember. Our culture has become adept at making good look evil and evil look good, as Scripture warned would happen. How can we help our girls learn to make good choices?

*Above all else, be intentional in encouraging your teen to cultivate their relationship with God and realize their worth as His child. Be creative in teaching them to read Scripture—read with them, provide relevant devotional helps, expose them to good teaching, take them to events that can strengthen their walk with God. Make sure they have opportunities to learn God’s Word and its principles from sources and events that will capture their attention. Provide opportunities to see and hear good role models with true messages, whether it be teachers, musicians, or speakers. The more familiar they are with truth, the quicker they can learn to apply it to choices they make. The more confident they are in their relationship with God, the more likely they will be to make their own decisions.

* While the phrase “because I said so”, has certainly been used for years, I’m not sure it’s helpful. Talk through why you have made certain choices as they occur, explaining the “why” or “why not” of an issue. Talk through the thought process, the principles involved, and even the potential outcome of either side of the choice. If it’s a choice you’ve had to make, explain how you arrived at that result. Maybe even ask her opinion and be willing to listen to her thoughts.

*Make certain you are not just laying down rules, but teaching biblical principles governing the guidelines you establish. Children can obey without ever understanding the principles involved. Simply demanding obedience without teaching principles won’t work forever.

*As hard as it is to watch sometimes, natural consequences of poor choices can be a great teacher. Be available to talk about where things went wrong and how things could go differently next time. Applaud good choices. Giving girls freedom to make choices while still under your care gives you the opportunity to be a safety net but allows them to learn from mistakes.

*Staying informed and familiar with social media, apps, and platforms will go a long way to helping you communicate with your teen. It’s hard to give reliable advice and direction when you have no clue what choices girls are facing when it comes to new and flashy devices and entertainment. It seems impossible to stay up-to-date or even understand some trends, but it’s very important to try.

*Help your teen see what her choices are in each situation. She may see only one or two ways to solve her dilemma, but you have the experience to point out other options. Help her play out the consequences of each possible choice, weighing pros and cons.  

*Pray, pray, pray! Ask for wisdom and discernment for them, ask the Lord to create in them hearts that seek Him and His favor. So many decisions our girls face must come down to wanting to please God more than pleasing their friends. The desire to obey God must be stronger than the pressure from other persistent elements in our culture. Pray for wisdom for yourself to know how to model these things for your girls and for creative ways to communicate these truths to them. Pray for the ability to model good choices, and for wisdom to know when to share consequences you’ve experienced due to poor choices. Just pray! It’s your best offense and strongest defense!

For Girls

S.U.D.s

You may be asking yourself “what is S.U.Ds?” S.U.Ds stands for Seemingly Unimportant Decisions. My very intelligent mom/Sunday school teacher taught a lesson on this one time. This lesson was something that not only impacted my life, but also the lives of others who were in that class.

 S.U.Ds are those choices we make in our daily life that seem to not be a major deal, but over time, these small choices end up snowballing and can have major, long-term impacts on our life. Some examples of S.U.Ds are:

  • I will skip church tonight because I would rather hang out with a friend/play a sport/just don’t feel like going.
  •  I will go to this party I shouldn’t go to because I am in control, I will be fine, and I can resist temptation.
  •  I will lie about what I did so I don’t get into trouble. These examples may seem silly, but that is the point.

The seemingly unimportant decisions we make will have consequences. Skipping church once can make you start to think skipping church more and more often is okay, and then you eventually quit. Going to parties that may have things you should not be around can make you fall into temptation and you can fall away or hurt your testimony. Lying to get out of trouble may seem like a benefit at first because you get out of a punishment, but then you find yourself lying more and becoming more deceptive.

Proverbs 2:11-13 says, “Discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech, who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness” (ESV). I know this seems excessive, but it is so true, small decisions can make big impacts on our lives. The book of Proverbs has always been my favorite book of the Bible because it gives great wisdom on how to make good choices in life.


Caitlin Hayes is from Columbus, Ohio. She has a Masters of Science in Psychology from Tiffin University. Caitlin has spent many years at her church teaching all ages in Sunday School and youth group and is the nursery leader for her church. She gives her time to missions and has worked as a facilitator for Impulse International Missions for the past nine years. Caitlin is passionate about youth and helps them learn how to find who they are in Christ. In her free time, she likes to travel, watch documentaries, and spend time with her two awesome nephews.

For Adults

Building Relationships with a Younger Generation

by Ana Batts

Something happened to me when I hit my 30’s. My “littles” started elementary school. My middle schoolers started high school. Gone were the days of playgroups and ready-made relationships that formed while we watched our toddlers play.

 Suddenly building new relationships got hard.

That’s when I realized it. I was a tween. Too old to be “cool” (I don’t think that is even the word anymore) but not exactly middle age. After spending the last 10 years working to build relationships across generational lines with older women, it is time to shift my focus to something that seems much more daunting. Building relationships with a younger generation.

But where do you start?

  1. Be willing to be uncomfortable.

How is it that younger people can be so intimidating? All of the insecurities of high school seem to be flooding back. What if they don’t like me? What if I sound like an idiot? What if I look ridiculous? The reality is new relationships feel awkward. You will say the wrong thing. You will do the wrong thing. You will look ridiculous. Learn to listen well and apologize quickly. Time together is the best way to get beyond the awkward.

2.   Find a common space

Relationships require a common interest and shared space to grow. When you spend time with someone from a different generation, you will often find you aren’t as different as you think. A shared space can be a hobby, background, or interest. Do you love to cook? Travel? Read? Take awesome photos? Use those interests to build your relationship. If you can’t find a common interest, then get out of your comfort zone and ask them for a recommendation. You might find something new that you really love.

3.   Know your biases.

Okay, you probably can’t know all of your biases, but you need to know that you have them. We all do. Each of us come into relationships with our own set of pre-judgements, our own baggage. In other words, each of us comes to a relationship with biases for and against people, age groups, and ideas. Those biases are often based on our personal preferences.
I don’t do middle schoolers.
High schoolers are lazy.
College students aren’t serious about digging into the Word. They aren’t serious about anything.

Each of these statements reveal a personal bias that shapes the way we think toward the younger generation. They often reveal more about us than it does about them. Expectations can ruin relationships. Biases can build walls that make relationship impossible. Be aware of your biases and be willing to change the way you think about those in your life.

4.   Be genuinely interested and truly present.

Remember that having a relationship is the point. It is easy to get so focused on being able to influence those in our circles that we miss the relationship. Be available. Be genuine. Listen a lot. Don’t look at the younger generation as only a ministry, but as a relationship.

I want to guide all those in my life toward the Savior, but without a genuine relationship, that will never be a possibility. Will you join me?

For Girls

5 Tips from Teens

by Lainey and Ansley Batts

  Building friends in youth group or at school is great, but what about building friendships with the older women in our church or community? It can be an intimidating experience, so intimidating that most of the time we just avoid it. Here are some tips that can make building relationships with older women much easier.

1. You have to actually talk to them. Older women aren’t so different than teen girls. They have different interests and personalities. Some are super outgoing, and some are super shy. Just being in the same room with them isn’t enough to build a relationship. Taking the initiative and starting up a conversation is the first step to building a relationship.

2. Listen too. It is often hard to see the women in our lives as more than moms, grandmothers, teachers, or coaches, but they are real people. Ask them about their lives. You may find out some surprising things that they have experienced.

3. Know that they will mess up. We all make mistakes. When they mess up don’t write them out of your life. If they hurt your feelings, or say something uncaring, talk to them. Face the problem. Maybe you won’t have a super close relationship in the future but talking about it means you will be able to have a relationship.

4. Be willing to teach. Be willing to learn. Teaching an older woman about something you love is a great way to build your relationship. Or maybe you are interested in learning something new? Ask an older woman in your life to teach you. You may not find a hobby you love, but it will help you build your relationship.

5. It is worth it. Putting in the work to build relationships with older women is worth it. Older women have been there. They can share wisdom from their experience and that wisdom can help you avoid problems in the future. Learning to build relationships across the generations is a great life skill and makes life so much more enjoyable. It can be really intimidating, but in the end, it is so worth it.

Lainey and Ansley Batts loved attending Shine! Nashville 2019. Lainey is 15 and spends her days reading tons of books and catching Pokemon. Ansley is 13 and spends her free time studying classical ballet at the Centennial Performing Arts Studio in Nashville.

For Girls

Serving Your Season

“Faithfully Serve the Season God Has Placed You In.”

While quarantine has been a time of struggle for some, it has been a time of reflection and consistency for me. I heard the title quote above in a sermon not long ago, and since then it has completely transformed my mindset—especially during this quarantine season.

One of my favorite Bible characters is Joseph. That guy went through the pit (literally), and through it all, sought and trusted the Lord. I’ve always found it encouraging to read his story because you can really see God’s hand over his entire life. However, as Joseph was experiencing the various scenarios, he probably felt doubt creep in. Perhaps he wondered why God was taking so long to fulfill his calling and desires he had dreamed about as a boy. Even though he couldn’t understand why, he trusted that God was his deliverer. He faithfully served from the prison to the palace. In the end, God used the situations Joseph went through to shape him into who he needed to be to serve a nation, forgive his brothers, and ultimately bring a whole lot of glory to the Lord!

I struggle with contentment. I am very goal oriented, and I am a planner. I have it all figured out in my head–where I want to be in so many years, what I want to achieve, and how I want to see the results of those plans now! I’m impatient, and I’ve learned that a lot of times I rely on my own strength and plans too much.

This summer, I had it all planned out, like no joke, May through August was pretty much set-up and booked in February. I had an idea of what was going to happen and was super excited about it.  BUT, let me tell you, COVID-19 did a number on me! I was looking forward to my plans (plans I felt were going to lead to new friendships, encouraging others, and bringing God glory), but God pushed the pause button. This left me feeling very much like, “Okay God, you have my attention. Please show me what I need to do to get my life going again.” And, during all these thoughts, do you know what I realized I needed to do? STOP GOING! I needed to stop worrying about the future. I needed to stop preparing and over-planning every aspect of every day, and instead faithfully serve in the season I’m planted in.

So, here’s what this looked like for me—I started waking up and spending the day with God (2-3 sermons a day sometimes). I started listening to podcasts, spending a few hours singing worship songs, going on long drives to talk to God, and the list doesn’t end there. I imagine this is more like how Adam spent his time in the Garden of Eden, and it was so refreshing to just be still and bask in the presence of the Lord. I so encourage y’all to do this! I also spent time with my family. I made new memories and learned new things about all of them.

As I intentionally focused on the “now” and what I could do with it, I began to see doors open and dreams resurface that I had pushed aside as “impossible.” My heart began to heal toward hurts and insecurities from my past. I learned to be kinder and more others oriented. I learned forgiveness and was given opportunities to show love. I’m not saying I’m at all perfect—I have a long way to go—but looking back I see that these small stepping stones look a lot like Joseph’s story. God is molding me. I don’t have to do any preparing on my future because God is doing that for me. All I must do is serve! All I must do is praise and worship, and God provides! What a freedom! 

Basically, what I’m saying is that God isn’t asking you to have it all figured out. He’s asking you to faithfully serve Him in everything you do in the season He has planted you in. And, through that, He’s going to use it for the good of His Kingdom! The phase of life you’re in may not look at all like what you wanted it to look like, but don’t lose hope! If you are seeking and striving to serve like Jesus, God will work and move through you!

I hope this can be an encouragement to you guys to look at your priorities and see if being a servant is one of them. It’s one of the biggest blessings we’ve been given, really.

__________________________________________________________________

Krista Lindsay is an upcoming junior at Welch College. She is from Red Bay, Alabama. As a business major, she has recently started the journey of entrepreneurship by launching her own online clothing store, Ellora Boutique, to help girls of all ages find modest boutique style clothing at an affordable price. Krista’s favorite thing to do is hang out with her friends or family, especially if they are eating Chick-fil-A or getting coffee. When she is not working at her local Loft or singing with Rejoice Ministry Team, Krista loves playing music, baking, going on outdoor adventures, and meeting new people. 

For Girls

Conversations With Mom/Mentor

Once upon a time is probably one of the greatest opening lines ever because it has endless possibilities. As a child nighttime stories were not just a ploy to stay awake longer, they were opportunities to learn about the world and the ones around us. That connection does not have to end with bedtime tales. All it requires is sitting down with your mom, grandma, aunt, or mentor and ask some fun questions.

I love asking these women in my life questions. Sometimes I ask silly one’s like, “If you could make any dessert healthy which would you choose?” But sometimes I ask them questions that I hope will offer wise advice to use in my life. Questions are a fantastic way to get to know someone and connect with them in ways you never thought possible.

Here are five questions I pray will open the door for connections between you and influential women in your life.

  • What did you and your friends do for fun when you were my age?
  • What is one of your most embarrassing moments?
  • If given the opportunity to do anything you want for a day, what would you do?
  • What is something God is teaching you right now?
  • What would you say to your 17-year-old self if you could call her on the phone today?

Have you ever thought about why movies, television, and books are a billion-dollar industry? It’s simple; everyone loves a good story. Asking questions that allow people to share a glimpse of their past or a bit of their truth is a wonderful way to learn their personal story. I can almost guarantee hearing their story will allow you to connect with them in a way you never expected and find ways to learn from them to better yourself.