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For Girls

Does God Care about You?

By: Karah Grooms

Eblast paragraph: Karah Grooms challenges you to ask yourself, “Does God care about me?”

Does God Care About Me?
            One day while at college, I was listening, or at least trying to listen, to a chapel speaker preach. My mind was filled with all kinds of distractions, and I allowed them to overtake my mind for most of the sermon. I was going through a particularly hard time in my life. I was battling hopelessness, loneliness, and depression. Chapel was honestly the last place that I wanted to be.

1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” I had heard that passage many times before. The speaker paused after reading it, looked up, and said, “Do you know that?” I leaned in. “Do you know that He cares for you?” he said. It woke me and pulled me out of my thoughts. “Do I know that God cares for me?” I asked myself.

God loves you more than anyone in this finite world ever could. He created you intentionally and purposefully in your mother’s womb. He sent his Beloved Son to die a sinner’s death on a cross for you. He cares for you.

During the time in which we are living, it is easy to isolate ourselves. We think no one cares about us or what we are going through. It’s easy to pretend we’re okay and hide, quite literally, behind a mask. It’s easy to hold onto our pain, regret, struggles, and sins.

The beginning of verse 6 says we have to humble ourselves. Holding onto all of our burdens is an issue of pride. Holding onto all our problems and not giving them to God says we are strong enough to fight these battles alone. Or even that God is not big enough to fight our battles. The truth is God is a big God, and nothing is too heavy for Him.

Verse 6 refers to “the mighty hand of God.” The verse is referencing God’s mighty hand saving His people, the Israelites from Egypt. God’s hand is still mighty, and if He can bring a whole people group out of bondage thousands of years ago, then He can handle your burdens. Christ calls you to cast your sins on Him because He cares for you (verse. 7). You can bring all of your sin, all of your hurt, all of your day-to-day struggles to Him. He is a big God, and nothing is too heavy for Him to carry.

 Today, I pray that you can turn from yourself and turn to God, giving Him all you are carrying because He cares for you.

For Adults, For Girls

Intentional Relationships

By: Hannah Gorrell

This season of life has lasted much longer than any of us hoped or expected. We are endlessly separated from our friends and loved ones in one sense or another. Sometimes we only see our friends through screens or plexiglass. It feels like one of the loneliest times in history. We are challenged to find new ways to interact and form relationships. That may even be what led you to be reading this blog.

As human beings, we are made for relationships. God told Adam it was not good for him to be alone, so God made a companion. We should resist the temptation to take the easier route, shying away from relationships. My prayer is that we find new ways to be intentional in our friendships. Intentionality will enrich our love for those people even more. We may do this by writing letters to friends far away or making phone calls to our grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

I want to encourage you to set aside some time every day to do these things. Make it a time to express yourself but also a time to relax. The relationships you need to work on are not far away. Make sure to spend time with those in your household. Honor your father and mother and those who take care of you. Remember, your siblings are your companions for life.

Commit to reaching out to a different friend or loved one every day this week. You will be surprised when you not only lift their spirits, but they also raise yours.

For Girls

Worth the Wait

By: Becky Gwartney

I sat nervously in the car, folding a piece of paper over and over again that I held in my hands. The ride seemed to be taking forever as we drove back to college from a church service a few hours away. Weeks before, my chauffeur for the night had told me he loved me. I was hesitant to get that serious since I had just ended a 5-year relationship before dating him, and I knew he hadn’t been separated from his previous girlfriend for very long. I was skeptical, and I was afraid of making the wrong decision.

I had made plenty of those in my life! In fact, I traveled out of state to attend a Christian college trying to get away from the mistakes I had made. I needed a fresh start, and attending college near my home was not the place to do it. No more choosing the wrong path, and no more choosing the wrong guy. This was my time to choose well.

I had had many boyfriends in the past. All of them were “good guys”, but not all of them were good for me. Some of them claimed to know God and love Him, but few lived that out. I was tired of playing games and wasting time. Now, as a college student, I was ready to wait as long as it took to find Mr. Right.

Was this him, the guy sitting beside me in the car? He had “checked every box” on the list I had made before I would even consider dating someone else. I knew I had set high standards. I wasn’t about to make a mistake again…with my heart or with my life. With peace in my heart and a nudge from God, I knew He was orchestrating every moment and the feelings swelling inside of me.

A songbird at heart, I decided to sing the words instead of speaking them—I love you. I honestly love you. As the words in my heart finally escaped my lips, he pulled the car to the side of the road, eyes full of tears and a huge smile on his face. He knew, then, I felt the same as he had for weeks.

Was all the heartache I had been through worth the wait? Definitely! Was being picky worth the ridicule from my friends who thought I was ridiculous? You bet! Was it wise to wait for the man God had for me? Positively! Had God answered my prayers and given me the man of my dreams? Absolutely!

I never had to keep searching, taking chances, plucking off the rose petals… “He loves me. He loves me not.” But more than that, I knew this man of God was the man God had chosen for me, and he would love me until death parts us. Now, 42 years later, we are still living out the love story God wrote for us, and it’s beautiful. Won’t you let Him write yours too? The man He has for you is worth the wait!!!

For Adults, Uncategorized

A Love Affair of the Greatest Kind

By: Becky Gwartney

In the most recent blog, Becky Gwartney asks a simple question, “How is your love relationship with God?”

When my husband and I were dating, we couldn’t find enough time to be together. We lived in different states for a couple of months before our wedding, and I waited by the phone to answer his call each night. I longed to hear his voice, to hear the events of his day, and to hear of his love for me. No matter the time it took from my schedule or the cost (back when long-distance was a big deal financially), it was worth it to take the time to share my life and dreams with him.  Love does that to you! 

When you love someone, you want to spend time with them, get to know them, and value those moments together. The same is true in our relationship with God. Getting to know Him is vital, spending time with Him is crucial, and moments together should be treasured. We all know this in our hearts because something is missing when HE isn’t included in our lives.

So, during this month of love, let’s examine ourselves. How is your love relationship with God? Do you arrange your schedule each day to make sure you spend quality time with Him? Do you prioritize the things of God over the things of the world? Are you passionate about knowing Him and making Him known?

Maybe some of you are experiencing a crisis of the heart. Perhaps you’re too busy, overworked, or unable to unplug from an electronic society. How do you get out of a spiritual funk? Here are a couple of “no brainers”:

BE IN THE WORD!

God’s Word is not junk mail that is delivered to our mailbox or inbox.  It’s a message that is vital for our existence and God’s purpose for our lives. Second Timothy 3:17 tells us that, through the Word, we are put together and shaped for the tasks God has for us.  We may have been handed down the greatest of legacies, be shaped for God’s purpose, and be willing to serve, but if we lack His Word in our hearts, we aren’t “all in” with Him.

Whatever it takes for you to get into His Word and be intimate with Him, do it. The word intimacy means “into me see”.  I love that! God looks at us and knows us, but we can look at Him and know Him too! What a beautiful gift we’ve been offered, but to create that intimacy with God and become passionate about Him, we must see into Him and His heart through His Word.  Another way we can do that is through…

PRAYER

Psalm 55:17 says, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.”  You can’t be intimate with someone you don’t talk to. But, how do we pray so that we connect intimately with our Heavenly Father? It’s a two-way street—we talk, and we listen. We may be really good about the talking aspect, taking our “list of things to do” to God, but do we listen to His voice speaking to us? He wants a deeper relationship with you. He wants you to hear His heart and His thoughts. He wants you to reveal your deepest desires. And, if we set aside the time to be quiet enough (even quieting our thoughts), He will speak—through His Spirit, through the Bible, through friends, through circumstances, or through a gentle “knowing” that settles in our hearts.

These simple truths are nothing new and probably nothing new to you. Simple truths, simple steps, simple measures to take, but, oh, what benefits we reap when we do them! A love affair of the greatest kind is yours for the taking. Are you ready and willing to do your part?

For Girls

Present in the Present

by Hannah Goucher

As Christians, we often view God’s will as something off in the distant future. We fantasize about the things we will do for God then, often forgetting He is working in the here and now. We must not think of God’s will for our lives as something we are waiting to do, but rather as something happening in the present. One may ask, “How can we do God’s will in the present?” We do this by loving God and being obedient to Him. This is the very thing God calls all Christians to do. It is not something in the distance we’re striving to attain. Instead, it is daily dying to ourselves and our fleshly desires, then choosing to walk in the Spirit.

If we want to do those big things for God, we must be willing to be obedient in the small things of everyday life. Luke 16:10a says, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.” I often find myself wanting to do big things for God. But if I’m not willing to be obedient in the small stuff, I won’t be obedient in the big.

What are the things we can know about God’s will?

1. It is not distant or a mystery.
We can be sure of the things God has called us to do right now. We can also be sure they will be the same in the future.

2. It requires obedience from the believer.
We must be obedient to what God has called us to do now in order to do big things for Him in the future. (How beautiful it is that He allows us to be a part of that!)

3. There is mercy and grace when we disobey and repent.
We can rest and be encouraged that God does not leave us when we fall short and make mistakes. He is faithful and just to forgive, helping us along the way.

What are some ways we can be obedient in the small things?

  1. Choosing not to gossip and changing the conversation when the topic arises.
  2. Being a friend to someone in need when you’d rather go hang out with your friends.
  3. Putting in the work for your homework/test rather than slacking.
  4. Helping your friends through drama rather than adding fuel to the fire.

Dear Lord, thank You that Your will is not something unattainable but present in the here and now. Help us be obedient in the small things and rely on You to do big things.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

For Adults

Fighting Your Battles

by Melinda Walker

There are many issues we face as an adult and as a parent. Sometimes they come all at once, and we don’t know how to handle them, making us vulnerable. Given the task of separating our battles into two categories, major and minor, could you? How would you determine if they were major or minor?

Being an adult is not always the easiest. My 24-year-old daughter has a “big girl job” and lives in a different state but will tell you she does not enjoy adulting. It’s hard! It doesn’t get any easier as you get older. Jobs, family, church, school, technology, health issues, anything can affect us negatively at some point. We often feel we are in a constant battle. Do you ever wonder if some of these battles are even worth it? Do we need to be in this battle?

There are times that we don’t back down from a battle because we let pride get in the way. We rush into a decision instead of thinking it through and then make the wrong decision. Did we want to prove a point or make a statement? Proverbs 16:18 (NLT) says, “Pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall.” 

Over the years, I have learned from some wise men and women to pick my battles. At my workplace, I have to decide which problems to battle and which ones to let go and let God handle. For example, at times, I receive emails that upset me. After reading them, I would like to fire back in a “nasty-gram.” But I have learned to push away from the computer, walk around for a bit, and pray; then I can think about the email. Maybe I can get more information regarding the reason for the email. I usually realize my “nasty-gram” wouldn’t help the situation and would probably make it worse. I have also learned that sometimes the person on the other end doesn’t always have all the facts. They are speaking from what they know or have heard. They might need to be educated on the subject or hear another side of the story, or they are having a bad day and fighting battles of their own. The fact is, God needs to be involved in all of your battles, large or small.

Whatever battle you are facing, major or minor, the only real way to handle any battle is to involve God in all of them. Some battles require immediate action, knowing God is there to help you fight, some you may be able to push aside for a while and fight another day. Others you can just give to God and walk away, knowing He is in control and will take care of the whole situation.

We have come through a year of fighting many battles, some more than others. Know that in 2021, God is with you through each one, major or minor. He promises to see you through. “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NLT).

Through this New Year, I pray that you allow God to help you through all of your battles and relieve any stress or anxiety that comes with the fight. He is there for you and wants to fight your battles if you let Him.

For Girls

Priorities

by Melinda Walker

Going into the new year, people make many resolutions and do not keep them past the first week. People want to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, and so on. 2020 has been an emotional roller coaster full of stress, heartache, anxiety, confusion, sadness, but for some happiness, joy, and excitement. When you look back at 2020, what were your plans and resolutions going into that year? How did they change? What were your priorities?

Entering 2021, what do you want to see? What are your priorities for this year? As a teenager, there are so many things that you can set your mind on at the beginning of the year and then forget about because of other events in your life. No matter what happens in your life, there is always someone who should be a constant, a priority, in your life. And that is Jesus Christ. Jesus should be your priority every day.

There are 3 simple steps to help keep Him a priority in your life.

  1. Go to Him every day in the word. In other words, read your Bible, get a study guide, or devotional to help.
  2. Be active in your church and youth group. If you do not have a youth group, start one.
  3. Turn all of your worries, cares, crazy thoughts, and concerns over to Him.

Once you do these things, the struggles will seem far less. Am I saying your struggles will be gone? Absolutely not! Some days can get pretty bad. (God never said that Christian lives are perfect.) But when you continually prioritize keeping Jesus in your life EVERY DAY, those struggles do not seem as bad. Why? You are leaning on and giving it all to Him. Matthew 6:33 (NLT) says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

Life is a struggle, especially with all the chaos of the pandemic and politics. Make Jesus a priority in your life. He will help you with whatever you are dealing with every day.

For Girls

Conflict: Sailing Through the Storm

by Beth Bryant

God’s Word is filled with Scriptures that show us conflict (AKA drama) —handled both the right and wrong way. In fact, one parable Jesus taught in Matthew 18:23-34 represents both kinds of conflict management.

A king wanted to settle accounts with a servant who owed him what would amount to millions of dollars. The servant could never pay off this immense debt and begged for mercy so he and his whole family wouldn’t be sold as slaves. The king felt compassion and canceled the debt of the servant in full. Later in the day, the same servant came upon another who owed him hundreds of dollars. He grabbed him and choked him saying, “Pay what you owe!” He refused mercy and had that servant put into debtor’s prison.

Other servants of the king saw what had happened and told their master. The king sent for him, irate at his lack of empathy, handed him over to the prison until he repaid his entire debt. Jesus ended the story saying, “That is what my Father in heaven will do to you if each of you does not sincerely forgive other believers” (verse 35).

The very same person shown compassion over a much greater debt showed very little compassion over a much smaller debt. We can be quick to throw stones here, but God’s girls must confess that often we are not quick to show compassion when someone’s offended us.

No matter how much we hate conflict, it’s always going to exist because conflict has its roots in human nature’s pride and selfishness. In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul reminds believers that terrible actions come from our sinful, human nature, or works of the flesh. “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factionsand envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Drama Remedy 1

It’s impossible to avoid all forms of drama, so God’s girls need to learn how to deal with it in a healthy, God-honoring way. In the same chapter of Galatians (5:22-23), the fruit of the Spirit are the character qualities Paul suggests God’s girls should utilize inhandling conflict. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

When we constantly involve ourselves in conflict, we aren’t displaying the fruits of the Spirit—the qualities or “markers” showing a real, growing ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­relationship with Jesus Christ. When the fruit of the Spirit isn’t being produced in our lives, then nothing else will be quite right. We reap the wrong kinds of qualities and behaviors and become frustrated and dissatisfied, which only adds fuel to the fires of conflict in our lives.

Drama Remedy 2

Note the circumstances in which you’re most likely to initiate or engage in conflict so you can practice prevention. These are some common drama scenarios:

  • When I’m not getting the attention I need from parents, friends, or others
  • When my hormones are crazy
  • When I feel like I’ve been hurt or disrespected by someone
  • When I start feeling bored
  • When I’m under a lot of stress
  • When I’m not getting enough sleep

Sometimes it seems like conflict is easier to ignore than to resolve. We might be tempted to pretend like nothing’s going on. Or we might react in a defensive way and retaliate. Either way, God is pretty serious about making things right. So serious, in fact that in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells His followers conflict with others affects our worship—it comes between us and God (Matthew 5:24).

Drama Remedy 3:

Resolve conflict by putting away our pride to make peace. Drama doesn’t often resolve unless both parties humble themselves, listen to each other, admit to any wrong-doing (even if unintentional), seek forgiveness, and grant grace and forgiveness.

Practical tips for navigating the rocky waters of conflict:

  1. Choose your closest friends carefully. Some people are drama magnets. Be friends, but don’t make the drama magnets your go-to BFF.
  2. Stay away from cliques, groups, or squads. Conflict always ruminates somewhere in a closed or exclusive group of friends. Do your best to mingle. Change up whom you sit with at lunch every so often. Hang out with different people.
  3. Be the same person across the board. You are much more likely to see less conflict
    when people know you present the same “face” to all and don’t play favorites.
  4. Read God’s Word. Spend time in prayer. Learn what it means to grow in Christ and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit. This way, when conflict pops up, you’ll be much more in tune with God. He can reveal the best way to handle the issue(s) and display the right attitude as you trust in Him.
  5. Commit to a gossip-free mouth! Don’t let anything untrue, unkind, or unsure of be said about another person. If it can’t be said in their presence, forget about saying it to anyone else.
  6. Bring a mediator. When you find yourself in a sticky conflict that might be difficult to resolve, try to find someone both of you trust to mediate and help you resolve the conflict. A third-party, godly adult, teacher, or pastor are always good options.
  7. Manage stress in healthy ways and get enough sleep!  Stress puts our emotions on edge and we’re more likely to lash out at someone. Well-rested people can think more clearly to avoid conflict AND manage it more wisely.
  8. Realize it’s just not worth it. Your teen-girl’s brain may not be able to foresee the stress and pain caused by stirring up drama over an offense. When something starts a conflict, work it out as peaceably as possible before it turns ugly and you do or say something you’ll regret.
For Adults

Drama-Buster Tool Belt

by Beth Bryant

It’s often a struggle for moms, mentors, and youth workers to help their girls navigate the choppy waters of adolescent conflict (AKA drama). Here are a few tools for your drama-buster tool belt:

1. Be careful not to take your girl’s side in a conflict right away without investigating the facts. If possible, ask other involved parties what’s been going on. Believe it or not, even your precious God’s girl can be tempted to hyperbolize (what teen or pre-teen doesn’t??) a situation, fudge some details, or leave something out if she feels ashamed or fearful of punishment.

2. Once you know the facts, step in as a coach instead of a referee. Teach her what to do when a conflict arises. Help her process her steps and let her handle the situation while you support her. Obviously, if a situation becomes serious or dangerous more intervention is necessary. Let her handle what she can now so she can be confident in her abilities in the future.

3. It’s important to teach your girl biblical conflict resolution.  Go to the other person first, have a neutral third party to mediate if necessary, then follow up with stronger steps depending on the situation. God’s girls should speak the truth, but speak it with love, grace, and humility. Help her develop a plan for resolution and walk her through these steps.

4. Encourage her mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being as a preventive plan. Girls who have had proper nutrition, plenty of sleep, structure throughout the day, someone they trust with whom they can talk about their problems, and a strong relationship with Christ are much less likely to constantly be involved in conflict.

5. Give your girl a “time-out” when needed. Encourage her to take some alone or quiet time and enjoy a hobby or a movie. When she’s suffering from stress caused by conflict, enable her to lighten her load.

6. Help her understand conflict is not always a bad thing. God often uses conflicts, disagreements, and the broken people involved to grow His girls and further the Kingdom. Just look at the example of Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark. God knows we’re not perfect.

7. Model forgiveness and proper conflict resolution in your own life. Forgiveness is letting go of the need to adjudicate the person/offense and leaving it in the hands of a just God. Your girl will be much more equipped to handle what comes her way by watching you resolve conflict, make peace, and forgive.

For Girls

A Christian’s Approach to Race

by Caitlyn Hayes

Recently I was having a conversation with someone about all the things going on in our world, and they said, “Have you noticed that we know how adults feel about race, but no one has asked kids and teens what their experiences are?” That stuck with me because we always encourage teenagers to learn about life and how to handle it. However, when tough times come, we do not ask them about their experience or point of view.

While many teens do not see division based solely on skin color today, there still are cases in the world where young people experience racism. Recently, I sat down with two girls who dealt with racism at school. They have been called names and targeted by other students all because of the color of their skin.

As young, strong, Christian women, I asked them how racism has impacted them. To sum up their answers, it has been a constant punch in the gut over something they have no control over. This made me think of 1 Corinthians 15:49: “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (ESV).  Each person has been made by the same Creator in His image.

When we focus on our differences and allow them to divide us, that is all there will be: division. However, if we adopt the old saying “W.W.J.D.” (What would Jesus do), we would see more of God’s children coming together and spreading the gospel. We would be examples of the true, open love and grace of Jesus Christ. When you or one of your friends is being picked on, remember to Whom you belong. Remind them, and yourself, that people do not define you! You are defined by who you are in Him!