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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.

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!