Blog

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.

For Adults

Conversations With Daughter/Mentee

If you have ever attended the first day of class in church camp or a women’s retreat of any kind you are familiar with ice breakers. These are activities you either love or hate. As an event planner I can tell you these aren’t on the schedule to fill time. They allow people to connect with something fun or silly before the serious heart-to-heart stuff happens. I’d like to challenge you to have sort of an ice breaker conversation with the special girls in your life.

One of the things we stress to moms and youth leaders at our Shine conferences is the importance of ongoing conversations. We also stress the value of creating a safe place for girls to communicate. Girls face unimaginable circumstances nearly everyday and we want them to feel comfortable coming to you with their questions and concerns and not simply relying on the internet or their peers.

Here are five questions I pray will open the door for greater conversations between you and your girls.

  • If you were given $100,000 to spend on anyone except yourself; how would you spend it?
  • What is one of your favorite memories involving our family?
  • If you could ask God a question right now and get an immediate answer, what would you ask?
  • If you could change something in the world, what would you change?
  • If you could be an eyewitness to any story in the Bible, what would you choose?

While these questions seem generic on the surface with thought and prayer you will have the opportunity to have meaningful chats about things like stewardship, social change, evangelism, and faith. Conversations are vital for maintaining a healthy relationship. Never forget questions, silly or serious, can open the door for some incredible teachable moments.

For Girls

The Battle Is The Lord’s

by Claire Ryan

The battle is the Lord’s.

This line plays over and over in my head, like a song on repeat. It gives me the extra push I need to make it through the day. It calms my wandering heart whenever I am confused. It soothes my restless spirit in the midst of fear. With an assertive breath, I can breathe in His power and His confidence; for my strength alone is weakness.

The idea of a battle is intriguing to me. I pride myself keeping up to date on all the action movies, books, or television shows. It’s not good unless someone is thrown into a perilous, life or death situation or bleeding. If someone isn’t getting head-butted or roundhouse kicked, you can count me out.

My imagination is fairly extensive, so it doesn’t take much for me to imagine myself as an elfin warrior, leading my troops into battle. Or a Jedi in training, seeking advice from Master Yoda. I’m the fiercest soldier and the bravest trainee. There isn’t a fight I face that can’t be overcome with the heart of a champion.

However, not all conflicts look the same. Sometimes, real life battles are a whole different fight altogether. And when they stand in my face, challenging my bravery, I often cower back in reluctance and fear, frantically searching for someone else to see my desperation and come to my aid.

Throughout the day, I think often of the Lord and His mysterious ways. I don’t understand how He works, or why He chooses to work the way He does; but I don’t have to know. If my finite mind could comprehend the infinite God, then He would cease to be so infinite. At school, there are times I am paralyzed with anxiety. On the outside, I appear calm, collected. But on the inside, I am battling fear, worry, stress, confusion, and loneliness. I am going toe to toe with the devil and his crafty words; the way he bends them to make me believe a certain way is terrifying. He knows my weakest points, using them to his advantage and my downfall.

My mind flashes back to a conversation I had with Pawpaw one morning, during our daily coffee talks. We had discussed my family and how they were all doing. Pawpaw had spread before me a blanket of wisdom that I would later share with my sisters. I begin packing up to leave, sliding my backpack around my shoulders, grabbing my coffee cup with one hand, and slipping my phone in my back pocket with the other.

I am on the verge of turning to face Pawpaw, planning to give him a hug and a light kiss on the cheek when…

“Here’s your sword.” He states simply.

Time seems to stand still, the already quiet house becoming suddenly quieter, as if the air itself had ceased moving. I turn slowly, a sudden peace filling my agitated mind.

Pawpaw’s arm is outstretched towards me, his hand firmly grasping my Bible. I wasn’t going to forget it; it goes with me every day. But Pawpaw’s matter-of-fact statement gave me such assurance in that moment. It brought me back to what was truly important in this life.

I smile up at him. Then, without a word, I take my sword.

Ephesians 6:13-17: “Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

There’s no telling what we may face in “the evil day.” A body weak from sickness, a blinding headache, hidden secrets, frustrating co-workers, strict time crunches, a lost loved one, a hurting child, disturbing news, terrible bosses, negativity, or a fearful countenance. It is easy for these moments to become overwhelming, to become too much for us to bare. That’s why it’s so important to wake up each morning and take up the whole armor of God. We fasten our Truth belt, slide on the Righteous breastplate, shod our feet with the Gospel of Peace, firmly grasp our shield of Faith, protect our minds with the Salvation helmet, and boldly wield the Spirit’s sword; that we may be able to withstand that evil day.

For the battle is the Lord’s.

Claire lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee. She is in her third-year teaching and currently teaches 7th grade English. She is the assistant women’s basketball coach at Welch College. Her hobbies include reading, writing, athletics, and time spent with family and friends. Coffee is her go-to and donuts are one of the major food groups. And, as always, ROLL TIDE!

For Girls

Communicating with Adults: How Hard Can It Be?

Communication. Ugh! Let me tell you, when I was younger, communication was not my strongest attribute. Why? Because I felt like I didn’t have anything important to say. I was afraid to speak in front of a group of people and one on one with certain individuals other than my friends. I didn’t want them to think I was stupid or find out I had flaws.

Talking with adults was the hardest. Adults are just that—adults. How are they going to help me with anything? They don’t know anything about me. They’re not interested in anything I have to say. They’re only interested in adult stuff. They don’t understand anything I’m going through.

As the mother of two girls and wife of a youth pastor turned senior pastor, I can honestly say, adults do care. We are interested. We want the best for you. We want to know more about you and help you with anything. Because, I know it’s hard to imagine but, we, at one time, were teenagers and we know being a teenager is hard. It may have been a different time with different things going on in the world, but it was still hard.

Just like teenagers, it can be difficult for adults to communicate. Sometimes it’s not the best scenario when adults and teenagers communicate, but why is that?

Have you ever talked to someone about something important and they looked uninterested or yawned while you were talking? Or they rolled their eyes when they disagreed? Or they seemed to ignore you by looking at their phone or looking away instead of looking at you like they were interested while you spoke? How did that make you feel? Body language and facial expressions can be a HUGE form of communication. We use our bodies to communicate when we don’t even know. How we stand, our facial expressions, and even our eyes communicate to others how we feel.  A lot of times watching someone’s body language isn’t the most inviting and it makes you want to run away from the entire conversation.

As teenagers, it seems so easy to talk with friends about anything—clothes, hair, make-up, boys, school, music, social media, movies, Netflix. There’s so much out there to discuss. But when it comes to communicating with adults, well, that’s a whole new ballgame. Or is it? We like some of those things too.

One of the big things to know about adults is that we are just like you, but with more experience. That’s why it’s nice to know you can talk with an adult because, more than likely, they’ve had an experience just like you or they know of someone who has. Adults can give great advice; just give them a chance.

When you have a problem and you look to an adult for the answer, it lets them know you trust them. When you communicate with a person for the first time, it may be hard to let go of some things that are personal. But as you continue to communicate and start getting to know that person, it becomes easier to let go and just talk.

The greatest man that walked on this earth, who became a teenager, an adult, and experienced so much should be the first person to go to with your successes, failures, needs, wants, and so much more. He is with you all the time and He knows you. His name is Jesus and He is the greatest communicator and listener of all time. But you know what? He has prepared someone to be there for you when you need it. It could be Mom, Dad, Sunday School teacher, Youth Pastor, or even the Youth Pastor’s spouse. If you don’t know who it is, pray and ask God to reveal that person to you. Pray for courage to talk to them. Who knows, the person God has prepared, that adult you thought you would never talk to, might turn out to be your greatest encourager and blessing.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

 

 

For Adults

Creating an Atmosphere of Communication

Part 1:  Prepare to communicate
Part 2:  Take steps to real communication

A frustrated teenager and a defeated parent lean against opposite sides of a door after a series of verbal volleys ranging from sharp sarcasm to angry insults. Perhaps it’s not even an argument but rather the absence of communication altogether. Devices, friends, or lack of things in common conspire to drive wedges between parents and teens until one looks at the other and feels like she doesn’t even know her anymore.

Communication shouldn’t be that difficult, right? We’ve all been talking for nearly as long as we’ve been alive. Unfortunately, real communication is about much more than saying a few words that are heard by another person. True communication requires intentional effort from everyone involved. It is a willingness to hear and understand as much as to be heard.

Multiple studies confirm that healthy parent/child communication reduces risky behavior in teenagers, also enhancing self-esteem and academic performance. Pair this with Scriptures instruction to “talk” with our children (Deuteronomy 6) and to “instruct” them (Proverbs 1:8) in the way they should go. It seems obvious we need a renewed commitment to communicate in a healthy way.  One that values each other and moves us into a more fruitful relationship where both parent and child feel heard and understood.

Prepare to Communicate

  1. Study her culture.
  2. Learn her language.
  3. Make time a priority.

There are some steps both parent and child can take to prepare for more effective communication. Too often when it comes to important conversations, making difficult decisions, or sharing personal feelings, we take the approach that says, “I’ll just let it happen. This communication stuff should just be allowed to come organically anyway, right?” Wrong. Unfortunately, if we don’t take time to prepare, it’s possible (if not likely) that real and meaningful communication will never happen.

So how do we go about preparing to communicate with someone a generation removed who knows and has witnessed most of our weaknesses and has recently determined parents know very little of consequence to her life? First, study her culture.

We often don’t realize the barriers created between us and our fellow man when there is a cultural divide. We all have a tendency to see things only from our own point of view.

This is also true between generations. There are references, concepts, and even commonly accepted truths from our youth that are now dated, questioned, or downright confusing. To prepare ourselves for communication with our children, we should know the world in which they live. Do you know the musicians she likes to listen to? Do you know about the latest app and why they use it? If not, take some time to learn about your child’s world. It can go along way when your child sees you make an effort to understand and not expect all communication to be done on your terms.

Second, learn the language. This is similar to the first point, but it is important enough to mention on its own. Sometimes communication breaks down because two parties simply don’t know how to translate. Be willing to put in the time to learn what your child is saying and not just how she is saying it. Of course she will say it differently. I’m sure you said things differently than your parents did too. The important thing is to listen and when you don’t understand, ask questions. Not only will this help you respond appropriately, but it will build trust.

Third, make time a priority. It’s easy to let everything outside of your family take precedence. Be sure to create opportunities to talk with one another. Schedule time on your calendar. Be intentional. Nothing will derail communication in a family more than family members who seemingly don’t have time for one another.

Once you’ve decided to invest in studying the culture, learning the language, and making time a priority, it’s time to implement a few strategies to get the words flowing and hopefully lead to some breakthroughs in your home.

 

Creating an Atmosphere of Communication: Part 2

Taking Steps to Real Communication

  1. Be honest and be yourself.
  2. Ask a lot of questions.
  3. Avoid majoring on minor issues.
  4. Say “yes” more.
  5. Take communication offline.

There are any number of relationship and parenting books available that will undoubtedly have great advice for how parents can better communicate with their children. The following list is not intended to be exhaustive, but it is intended to provide a few simple action steps toward better communication at home.

  1. Be Honest and Be Yourself. This may seem like a “no-brainer” but adult authority figures (parents included) often think they need to “have it all together” and “show no weakness” in front of their younger counterparts when, in fact, teenagers are especially drawn to people who tell them the truth and are honest with them. If you are reading this blog it is because you want to communicate more effectively with a teenager in your life. Tell them so. Let them know that you want to be better. Let them know they matter enough to you that you are going to put forth the effort to learn and evolve. This honesty can help establish the trust necessary for more open communication.
  2. Ask a Lot of Questions. Perhaps the best advice I can give to anyone who wants to get better at communication is to learn how to ask questions. Be genuinely interested in the lives of others and ask them about their opinions, feelings, and aspirations. Then you will have a lot more social capital in the future. Asking “What do you think?” invites your child into a conversation as a peer and demonstrates that you value them and their contribution to your home on a much deeper level. 
  1. Avoid Majoring on Minor Issues. This is perhaps the toughest of all the strategies on the list. We all have our preferences and as parents, it’s easy to think our children should fall into line with our desires and expectations. While this is true to some extent, we often take it too far and give a personal preference the same creedence as a biblical conviction. There is a reason Paul distinguished the behavior of the Gentiles and the Jews. Both were followers of Jesus, but there was room for diversity even within the body of Christ. If that was true for the early church, it should also be true in our families. Determine your core family values and convictions and do not waiver. But in all other things, be willing to show grace to your maturing child as he or she navigates the confusing waters of adolescence.
  1. Say ‘Yes’ More. Some of us have a tendency to default to respond “No” whenever our children ask to do something, go somewhere, ask someone to come over, etc. I am in no way advocating we become overly permissive and say “Yes” to every request, but I am suggesting we reflect on why we default to “No” so often and consider that perhaps we say “No” more than necessary or even helpful. If we’re honest, our default “No” often comes from our own impatience. Perhaps we’re tired, busy, or distracted (yes, parents deal with technology addiction too), and “No” is simply easier. If that’s the case, consider saying “Yes” more and you might just find more opportunities to engage your child in meaningful conversation.
  2. Take Communication Offline. There was a time as recently as 15-20 years ago where this suggestion would not have made the list. As consumption of media and the use of personal electronic devices has grown exponentially in recent years, it may be more important now than ever that we strategically and intentionally find ways to interact with our families offline. Technology in general and the Internet specifically has provided a number of real benefits and has even enhanced communication in many ways, but there are also ways in which it has made us far more distracted, less able to focus, and less invested in the lives of those closest to us. These tools provide the means for us to retreat into our own fortress of solitude where we click and swipe and interact with a world outside the four walls of our home and neglect the real people who we share our lives with every day.

My prayer is these suggestions for creating an atmosphere of communcication are helpful to you. Remember communication truly is more art than science. Even the best prepared and most empathetic parents will experience conflict and problems brought on by poor communication. When this happens, it is crucial we display a humble spirit.  Ask God for His favor in reconciling relationships and opening lines of communication.  Thus creating the types of relationships where both parent and child feel truly heard and understood.

 

 

For Adults

Identity in God, from A to Z

Here’s a fun list to help your daughters or students (and perhaps yourself!) realize how God defines His most valuable creations. Arranged by the alphabet, it will be easy to memorize these traits. Each attribute comes with scripture—TRUTH—to back it up.

So many messages we receive these days are based on celebrity opinions, social media’s whims, and emotions manipulated by TV and movies. God’s Word doesn’t change no matter how culture’s norms change and evolve.

This list can be printed as a PDF here, or you can download the image below to your phone or tablet. Work on memorizing the list together, send a letter and quality in a text message each day, talk about one each week—you’ll come up with creative ways to share these with girls under your influence, and perhaps find ways to encourage yourself at the same time!

A_to_Z_Identity_List