For Girls

Mental Health

By: Caitlin Hayes

Mental health is a topic familiar to many of us. Maybe you yourself or someone you know deals with depression and/or anxiety. The more that life goes on, the more depression and anxiety seem to exist in people. It is important to remember that there are two classifications: clinical and situational.

Clinical depression/anxiety is when your brain chemistry is such that you physically and emotionally cannot control your depression/anxiety. This often requires medications and therapies to properly manage the condition.

Situational depression is when a certain situation in life produces a mindset of depression causing anxiety or nerves. The good thing is that there is an approach to combat this type of mental illness and it is so super easy! The one downfall to mental health is that it makes us focus on our problems and our lives and we tend to forget about others.

Someone once told me when I was in a time of deep situational depression that I needed to stop focusing on myself and look at how I could help others. It sounded harsh, but I knew the person telling me this truly cared about me and was not trying to minimize what I was going through. They were trying to help me realize that the world goes on and there are others around me in whom I needed to invest my time and energy.

I took this advice and started to looking for ways to help others. I found a few younger girls in my family and church to mentor and try to encourage. I began to volunteer more at church in the nursey and with the children.

Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (ESV). I encourage you to read all of Philippians 2. I challenge you, if you are struggling and cannot seem to get out of a rut, find places where you can serve and give your time. It will not take long for you to see an improvement!

For Girls

You Can Do Hard Things

By: Callie Milling

Did you know that most scholars believe Mary was between 12-14 years old when she was pregnant with Jesus and married Joseph? Can you imagine, not only becoming a mom, but becoming a mom to the savior of the world at such a young age? When the angel told her about the Lord’s plans for her, she simply replied, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). In other words, she told the angel that she was a servant of the Lord and would do whatever He asked of her. What an amazing attitude to have. Mary could have easily refused to do it or she could have done it with a bad attitude, but instead she said yes with a willing spirit. After the angel left I’m sure she sat down and thought about all the adversity she would face. She likely knew it would be a hard road. She didn’t know what it would look like to give birth to the son of God and she didn’t know how her fiance would react to this news. Despite all of the unknowns that lay ahead of her, she was faithful and willing to do what the Lord asked of her even though it was going to be really hard.

Mary was young when she was tasked with carrying the Son of God and raising Him up. Despite her age, God knew that she was the right girl for one of the most important roles in the redemption story. He didn’t see her and think, “Oh, well Mary is too young to do anything important for me. She doesn’t know enough yet. She doesn’t have what it takes. She’s not old enough to serve me yet.” No! Instead, He saw Mary and might have thought, “What a faithful young woman. I love her and I have a purpose for her. She is old enough to make a difference for me.” 

God thinks the same thing of you. He loves you and He has a purpose for you at twelve, thirteen, seventeen, or whatever age you may be. He doesn’t think you’re too young, He thinks you’re just right for the task at hand. So, what is God asking you to do that you feel you aren’t capable of doing? Are you wanting to lead a bible study but feel like you’re not old enough to lead a group of girls? Are you wanting to start a club at school but don’t feel qualified enough? I don’t know what the Lord is asking of you. I do know that you are valuable and that God can use you at any age. You are never too young to serve God.

You can do hard things, no matter your age. God has a plan for your life, and wants to use your talents and your life to honor him. You don’t have to wait until you’re in college, married, or get that job to do hard things for the Lord. God wants to use you now. You are capable of taking on challenging things. Your age is no excuse. If you are a believer, then God requires obedience of you, no matter how old you are. 

In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul tells Timothy that he shouldn’t let anyone look down on him because of his age, but rather to set an example for other believers. Even at a young age, you can live a life that points people to Jesus. Why culture might doubt you or see you as immature, Jesus sees you as someone who can be bold for the cause of Christ. If you allow Jesus to work in your life and to reign as savior, then you can go forward with confidence knowing you have a purpose to live out. 

I know so many women who wish they would have served Jesus more faithfully as a teenager. Many of them feel like they wasted opportunities. They believed the lie that they weren’t old enough to make a difference. They wish they would have used their younger years to do things that they no longer can because they now have families, jobs, and other responsibilities that tie them down. One day you will be an adult and you will get to experience all the wonderful things that come along with adulthood, but right now you are a teenager and you get to live the years that so many women wish they could do over. Use your teenage years wisely–use them for the Lord. Don’t let them waste away because you think you’re too young. You can have an eternal impact on this world, no matter what your age is. Be bold, be faithful, and do hard things for the Lord!

For Girls

He Has Gone Before Me

By: Claire Ryan

There are times I sit outside on the back porch, simply to take in the beauty of creation. The sky is so blue, the grass so green, and the birds so talkative. They sing melodies back and forth, as if trying to outdo one another; each song is prettier than the last. Nature is alive.

Pawpaw and I enjoy watching the deer. A mom and her two babies like to roam the back woods, sometimes venturing out beyond the edge of the forest and into human territory. The babies are always curious, they enjoy frolicking into the unknown and experiencing the newness of life. However, when it comes to being out in the open, where there are no trees for coverage, they are somewhat timid. Their mother, perhaps, having taught them the dangers of exposure. Or, maybe, it’s an instinctive knowledge. The momma deer knows all too well what dangers they may face; so, taking charge, she leads the trot away from the forest. Her babies watch from further back, uncertain. Eventually, curiosity wins over and they join her, drawing strength from their mother’s courage. They trust her fully. If a problem arises, they believe she will protect them.

Trust. It isn’t always easy. It requires the giving up of control. When I stop and consider that, I am quickly reminded that nothing has ever truly been in my control in the first place. I have the freedom to make my own decisions, but God holds the gavel of my life.

Life can be really scary; the unknown, a daunting prospect. When I see those baby deer staring anxiously after their mother, sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror. I am tiptoeing on the edge of my forest, looking out into the large, open world. There are so many dangers out there; especially, as a Christian. Jesus tells us in John 16:33 we will face trials and tribulations in this life; however, He is our blessed hope! We can take heart, we can rest in Him, because He has overcome the world. Like that momma deer, going before her babies, bravely marching outside of their comfort zone, Jesus Himself takes me by the hand and leads me into the open fields. He will never abandon me, but protect me in His perfect way.

Deuteronomy 31:8: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

He has gone before me.

For Girls

Finding God’s Will For Your Life

By: Diana Bryant

Everybody loves a good mystery, right? Just not when you have decisions hanging over your head and can’t figure out the right move to make. Many times sincere Christian young people want to find God’s will for their lives but get hung up looking for answers. Let’s look at some basic principles and steps you can take, so decision making is a little less scary and intimidating

Principle #1: Realize life is a series of choices and consequences. The sooner you can grasp good choices result in good, beneficial, and helpful consequences, the better. Bad choices bring about tough consequences. Learning to think through possible outcomes of your decisions can go a long way toward deciding the right path to take.

Principle #2: Be assured God is not trying to trick you. He’s not making a game out of His will, hiding it, and watching to see if you figure it out. God loves you and wants His best for your life! He will provide answers when you sincerely seek them.

Principle #3: Decide early on you are committed to doing whatever His will turns out to be. God may lead in ways you never dreamed of, but rest assured, doing His will ensures a joyful, fulfilling future.

There are several practical steps you can take to find where God is leading. Consider these:

  • Sincerely seek God’s direction. Read and obey Scripture. God will speak to you through the work of the Holy Spirit, and direction will follow. Pray, expecting answers.
  • *When you’re unsure what the long-term answer or direction is, do the next right thing. If you’re in school, the right thing is to study, pay attention, and keep your grades up. When choosing a college to attend, the next right thing is to meet deadlines for applications and essays. If you have a job but aren’t sure about a career track, do your best where you are. Be on time, have the right attitude, and refine the skills you use on that particular job.
  • Notice your gifts and abilities. Work on developing those areas of your life. Make the most of the talents God has given you; He had a reason for giving them to you!
  • Notice circumstances in which frequently you find yourself. God may be preparing you for a specific role.
  • Listen to the guidance from older, godly friends, pastors, and teachers. Many times they see possibilities that you may not realize.
  • Consider known aspects of God’s will first when making a particular decision. There are many things we KNOW are God’s will, like honesty and compassion. Are there principles that apply to your decision, like honoring your parents or giving up things that are not necessarily wrong but keep you from doing better things? If so, use these guidelines to your decision.
  • Be well-rounded. We all have particular things we love to do, watch, and experience. When we obsess on one activity and exclude everything else, it’s not healthy and limits the chances of discovering other exciting possibilities.  

Thankfully, God has promised wisdom when we ask; therefore, you can make decisions with confidence. He has promised to lead and be with us every step of the way. That’s no mystery, and it’s a promise!

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 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 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.