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For Girls

Beginning With Him

By: Destinee Payne

This Christmas time of the year is always exciting. There are wonderful festivities and school parties. There are cozy decorations and Christmas music. The gift exchanges make us wonder what gift we will receive. And don’t forget about the Christmas break from school that does not seem long enough!

With all these things going on, it is easy to go beyond the gift wrapping. We get wrapped up in ourselves! When we are constantly thinking about the things we want as gifts and the plans we make for Christmas fun, we can forget what we are grateful for. If we are not careful, we can forget the special gift that has already been given to us through Jesus Christ.

While on breaks like Christmas, we need to be careful not to take a break from our walk with our Savior. When our schedules change and we get more chances to sleep in and relax, it becomes easier to neglect our quiet time with God. We can fall out of a daily routine of reading the Bible, which will stunt our spiritual growth if we let it happen for too long.

Psalm 19:7-10: “The instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing one’s life; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise. The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad…The ordinances of the Lord are….more desirable than gold.”

When we are strong in our daily reading and prayer with the Lord how strong we can become in Him! How joyful we will become! This is the time of the year to be especially grateful to God for all that He has done, especially in sending His Son.

Psalm 63:7: “You have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”

I pray that you carry the joy of the Lord with you this year. I challenge you to not let the distractions of special seasons in life stunt your walk and daily time with Him. If you do not have a routine of spending time in the Word daily, I pray that you begin today! If you don’t know how, talk to a mature Christian woman who can help you!

For Girls

Where God Leads

By: Ruby Crowe

When I was seven years old my parents, two younger sisters and I moved to southern Japan. We had lived on the Northern island of Hokkaido since I was a baby, but we were moving to the outskirts of Tokyo. I attended a Japanese preschool since I was 3 years old and my parents planned on putting me in an English speaking Christian school for my elementary years. But I saw my neighborhood kids walking to school everyday and told my parents I wanted to know my neighbors and have Japanese friends. The next month I went to the school where nobody spoke English and I didn’t look like anybody there with my blond hair and brown eyes. Slowly I learned the language and tried to fit in.

But only two years later it was time to move back home to North Carolina. My whole family missed Japan so much, but once I looked around I realized that God had put us in the right place. The school I went to was so different from the school in Tokyo. . In Japan the teachers and rules were very strict and nobody talked about Christianity. But in America my third grade teacher shared her testimony in class! She had been a missionary kid in Africa! I lived there from second to fourth grade. I also made some close friends that I still keep in touch with today.

But when I was ten we moved to Columbus, Ohio to follow my dad’s job as a Chick-fil-A owner. It was hard moving again and it took me a while to make friends and of course I missed my old home and friends very much. But God did something amazing by moving us to Ohio. We quickly learned that Columbus, Ohio has a very large Japanese population in America. My parents started teaching ESL at our church and we became very connected to the Japanese community. At the end of the first  year we moved about 15 minutes away from where we lived. Moving 15 minutes was easier than moving from another country, but then Covid came.

            It was hard making friends during COVID in a sixth grade only school, where everybody already had friends. I got very lonely, then my parents considered an option we never had considered before: homeschooling. We thought and prayed about it and everyone felt very clearly that this was what God wanted us to do. So my two sisters and I looked for a co-op we could join so we could meet some new people. A co-op is where a bunch of homeschoolers get together and do fun things or learn. We found one that had exactly three spots open, it was a theater group. Everyone was so welcoming and nice it didn’t take long for all the new people to make friends. We love it so much we decided to do it again this year.

I love how we can trace back through the events of our lives and God is always putting us exactly where we are supposed to be. So I know it’s hard to think it in the middle of a difficult moment, but I challenge you to look back on your life. You will find that God has been there the whole time and He’s helping you with each step, move and change in your life!

For Adults, Uncategorized

The Right Direction

By: Alicia Crowe

I often find myself asking the question, “Am I doing this right? Am I being the wife, mother, friend, neighbor that God is wanting me to be?” Those questions come from a deep desire to honor God with who I am, what I value, and where I put my time. However, I think the question shows that I have a misguided expectation of what is “right.” We are not able to trust our right, right? That can lead to a dangerous place of defining right with pride and perfectionism, trying to measure up, and a legalistic comparison. This is the world system of striving to keep well thought out plans instead of surrendering to His way. Surrendering is a state of being whereas the obedience driven me is usually about doing to prove that I am right.

God led our family to Japan and then back to the states again after 10 years with FWB Missions. It was a journey in faith and surrender especially the last 6 years stateside. He brought us right up to “Little Japan” in Columbus, Ohio through the vehicle of Chick-Fil-A and with it a revival in my familiar role as missionary and teacher. After jumping into our new life in our 11th home and our 8th school, God got my attention. Before Covid and online/hybrid public school, God was stirring in Josh and me to re-evaluate how we were loving and leading our children. I was entering a scary place of pouring all my time into doing what I thought was right and realizing God wanted me to rest in Him and serve my family. This had been my constant struggle of humbling myself under the mighty hand of God during our time in Japan when serving others took priority over my own family. God wanted me to rest in His plan and homeschool all four kids! Rest and homeschool together; is that even possible? We had done public and private schools in both countries, and I thought that teaching my own children would not allow me the freedom to continue to teach ESL and Bible classes which had been meeting in my home during the last few years. I gave those “ministries” over to Him and focused on our first year of homeschool instead. God tenderly showed me (again) that He would lead me in the paths of what is right for His name.

We are on our second year of homeschooling and God is teaching ME so much as I serve my family first during this season of life. Amazingly, God has reopened opportunities for our whole family to serve with the Japanese community here and this year we are ALL involved in leading and teaching in the ESL group. Josh is the new director, and I am teaching while my children jump in and serve for special events. We are serving together!  God doesn’t ask us to get our plans right and do it on our own. We loosely hold our plans and can cling to Him. Then, we get to do it with Him. He leads each of us and our families along His steps! This verse brings such peace, “A man’s heart deviseth his way but the Lord directeth his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Remember:

  • You can trust God! He is perfect therefore His ways are perfect. Psalm 18:30
  • When you seek God and humble yourself under His loving hand, He will show you where to step. 1 Peter 5:6
  • He is so loving and gently leads us with young. Isaiah 40:11
  • He is with you each moment and in that frightening next move. Isaiah 41:10

Whatever you are facing right now with big or little daily decisions concerning what is right for you/your family, during a transition, a lost dream, a ministry shift, a family crisis, education/job decisions, remember not to ask God, “Am I doing this right?”  Consider asking, “Am I trusting You in this? Am I surrendering my good-intentioned but greatly lacking plans to Your perfect will?”

Oh, what freedom there comes when we realize we can be confident God is leading us to His abundant and joy filled paths of righteousness through Christ by His Spirit in our many roles. Christ died for our sins so that in Him we might be made right with God!  We have nothing to prove. Surrender to His love and let Him lead you!

Spend some time praying and listening to what God is telling you. Listen to the gentle Shepherd’s voice and expect a big adventure with Him as you take the first step of faith today!

  • Call out His characteristics (good, holy, perfect, loving, faithful, powerful, all knowing) and adore Him!
  • Recognize, apologize for, and release control of your plans made in your own strength.
  • Look back and remember how He led you before and thank Him!
  • Ask Him to help you listen to His voice in this next step.
For Girls

Fruit of the Spirit

By: Hannah Gorrell

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit. These attributes pertain to one fruit. He does not say the “fruits are” but the” fruit is.” The work of the Spirit in us is alive, active, and ever growing. As the fruit bearer, a Spirit bearer, we should be careful in all opportunities. We present the Spirit of God to others by being loving, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and full of self-control.

Love is a big, heavy word. This word is overused and abused. We have learned love to be a strong feeling of like. Its opposite, hate, as a strong feeling of dislike. Paul shows us what love really is. His definition reveals that love is not just like. It is a decision or action to be completely selfless. To be patient, kind, longsuffering, and never failing requires an intentional heart. One must be drained of self and focus only on the benefit of the other, the one they love. Hate is not the opposite of love; selfishness is.

Father, help us show Your love to others as we seek to develop the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. May we represent You well in all opportunities.

For Adults

What Do You Want For Christmas?

By: Anna Fox

How many times have you asked your teen this question? We spend the holiday season focused on buying and wrapping gifts, baking, and making family memories. These are all wonderful things, but we often miss celebrating the best gift of all, Jesus, God in the flesh.

Jesus fulfilled the prophecy that many had been looking for. Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”.

            Read the names of Jesus again, He is our Counsellor, Father, Prince of Peace. He is worthy of all honor and praise. The best gift of all is not that Jesus was born but that he was born of a virgin, crucified, and raised again to give us the gift of eternal life. Jesus made it possible for us to have an intimate relationship with the Father. 

            What does your family Christmas season look like? Is it focused on the gifts, family time, and entertainment or is it Christ-centered? Does your Christmas season pull your family out of church, or does it bring you closer to your church family? What we prioritize will be what the next generation prioritizes.

            Making your Christmas Christ-centered doesn’t have to be boring and just reading Scripture, it is a lifestyle. Here are some ways to intertwine Christ into your Christmas season this year:

  1. Share your faith. Teach your family what it means to be always looking around you for people of peace. This means we have to have an intimate relationship with God to know when He is speaking and asking us to share our faith. Be an example to your teen by sharing your faith.
  2. Serve others. Find ways as a family to serve in your church and community. Serving as a family builds memories for a lifetime.
  3. Show love and compassion. The holidays can be a lonely time for some, and this is a way to help show your teen to be looking for people who are hurting that need to be loved on. As you are doing your holiday baking, invite your teen to help. Brainstorm together on who you could bless with a batch of cookies or cake.
  4. Stay devoted. Your relationship with Christ needs to remain solid and growing throughout the year. We can get busy during this season and let our relationship slide. We cannot lead our teens spiritually if we are not strong spiritually. We need to stay devoted in having spiritual conversations with our teens.

Make this Christmas season matter spiritually for your family. You only have a few Christmases left to influence your teen’s life. These can be precious memories that spiritually last a lifetime if we stay devoted and focused.

For Girls

What Do You Want For Christmas?

By: Caitlin York

It is without question that every December, I am asked what I want for Christmas. As the year comes to a close, we all look forward to the excitement of family time, sharing gifts with one another, and making memories. It is so easy to get wrapped up in preparing for a picture perfect holiday season, and miss the greatest gift of all. God in the flesh came to us. The King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Savior to all, was born in such a low, vulnerable, humble place. He had nothing, yet, He had everything because He had an intimate relationship with the Father.


We have access to this intimate relationship through our faith in Christ. That relationship is the reason we celebrate. When we think about what we want for Christmas, is it the new Apple device, or a new game, or new clothes, or some other product? Do you ever consider what spiritual products you are looking to receive throughout this season? I know that I get distracted with lists, events, and holiday fun. I often forget to think about what I want in my relationship with God, and what an impact it has had in my life.


Here are some practical goals to shift your focus through the Christmas season, and throughout the New Year:

  • Share your faith. As you gather with others, and participate in gift giving, think about ways that you can share the gospel message with those you care about. Seek and pray for opportunities around you where God is already at work. You could share the greatest gift of the season – salvation.
  • Serve others. The holidays can manifest selfish intentions. When you focus on looking the best, buying the best gifts, having the best decorations, posting the best pictures, and just being The Best – you put up barriers between yourself and others. In the same way that Christ gave his life to serving the Father, you should give your life to serving others in love.
  • Show love and compassion. Not everyone has a merry and happy holiday season. For some people, the holidays are sad, lonely, depressing, or hurtful. Spread the love and joy of Christ to others – but do it in a sensitive way which meets the emotional and spiritual needs of those you come across. This could open the door for God to work in their life.
  • Stay devoted. As the busy nature of the holiday comes, be intentional in your own relationship with God, and your church. This can make the difference in strengthening faith or withering faith. Don’t skip the opportunities to meet with other believers. Share the rich truths of this season with each other and sharpen one another. Wait and see the growth that comes.

Taking steps to meet these goals will shift the focus from physical to spiritual. When we have a spiritual focus, we find opportunities to bring God glory and expand the Kingdom of Heaven. That is the greatest gift of the season, and it should be exactly what we want for Christmas. 

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.