For Girls

Through the Fog

By: Claire Ryan

One morning, when I still lived with my grandparents, I woke up to a thick layer of fog. Pawpaw pointed outside.

“You’ll need to be extra careful today.” He said

I nodded and sat across from Pawpaw. Sometimes we’d sit quietly, sometimes we’d converse. But he always sent me off to work with a prayer.

“When we pray, we don’t inform You of anything You don’t already know.” Pawpaw said gently. “You already know about the fog.”

Immediately, my throat tightened and I got that growing pressure behind my eyes that can only mean one thing: the waterworks were knocking at the door.

Lord, You know about the fog.

Figuratively speaking, if I have come across one layer of fog in my life, I’ve barreled through hundreds more. Sometimes, it’s so thick, I can hardly see my feet hitting the ground in front of me. A head on collision occurs, and I’m left feeling broken, bruised, lonely, and forgotten.

This fog can appear in several different forms: the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, fear, a broken heart, a lonely spirit, self-doubt, bullying, a secret sin, etc. My fog is most often ‘worry’; but as the staircase rises higher, it can become as condoning as ‘fear.’

How do I get past this break-up? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why don’t they like me? I’m fat, I’ll stop eating. No one cares about me. I am worthless. I should just give up.

These are questions and thoughts that penetrate the mind and continue to enforce the false belief that we lead meaningless lives in a meaningless world where no one cares.

The fog thickens.

Too often, I attempt to force myself through this unforgiving fog. A natural instinct is to hurry out of it as fast as I can, using my own strength.

This is not what the Lord has called us to. I imagine Him looking down at me with overwhelming love and grace saying, “What are you doing, child? Don’t you know that I am your eyesight? I cause the blind to see. Is it not enough that I be your strength? My power is made perfect in your weakness.” With an undying, incomprehensible love, He proclaims, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Oh, but being still is hard; especially when I find myself in the fog.

What does it mean to be still? Consider the beginning verses of Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, a very presenthelp in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” (vs 1-3). Though the fog becomes too thick for us to breathe, though we can’t see daylight on the other side, though our hearts are heavy with sorrow, though our joy be threatened by this life. Being still in the presence of our Lord means that although we find ourselves in the midst of all of life’s frantic activity, we stand firm and still, trusting that the God of all comfort has gone before us. We should not fear, we should not cower, we should not run and hide.

“Know that I am God.” In this, He is loudly proclaiming, “I am omniscient! Omnipotent! Omnipresent! I am Love, I am Justice, and I am undefiled! I am strong enough to carry your burdens, holy enough to pay for your sins, and merciful enough to forgive your humanity! I. Am. God. You can know this; you can trust me!”

Wow. The Great I Am says all of that to me and to you.

Whatever it is in your fog, it cannot stand against the love of our Savior. Fear has no place, heartbreak self-destructs, and death cannot prevail. Despite our poor vision and the fact we can’t see what’s coming next, we are not alone. Take a breath, slow your walk, and take it one step at a time.

Most importantly: be still.

Because He already knows about the fog.

For Girls

Suicide Survivor

By: Sarah Sargent

Suicide and self-harm are more than just a topic for a popular Netflix show. For this Shine blog, I decided to do a Q & A with a suicide attempt survivor. Because if statistics are right, you or at least one of your closest five friends has self-harmed in the last twelve months.

Ashley is in her mid 20’s and just recently graduated with her degree in childhood education. When she was in high school, she attempted to take her life. God intervened and made a miraculous change in her life. Now she is an advocate for mental health issues and warrior for Jesus Christ.  

What have you learned from surviving a suicide attempt?

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. It was such a dark place and I felt so alone. Immediately after, my family took me to church. I met people who loved me with no expectations. They loved me because God’s love lived in and poured out of them. Through them I learned God loved me.

What’s one thing you would tell a teen girl that was struggling with suicidal thoughts?

The biggest thing I would say is seek help immediately. I know you feel so alone, and it feels so dark. You may feel like you’ll be judged because of your thoughts but the reality is there is hope. There is an end to that, and you just have to seek help to find that hope.

To girls struggling with anxiety, stress, depression and loneliness, where can she look in the Bible for people struggling and comfort?

Elijah, Job, Naomi and David are a few. I think you first should understand that struggling with these mental illnesses doesn’t mean you are a bad Christian. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). There is a difference in being depressed and not having joy. I can be depressed but still have joy, because I have Jesus and He comforts me.

If they have concerns about a friend or family member’s safety, what should they do?

I know you will think you are breaking someone’s trust, but you should tell someone immediately. This is someone’s life. Someone you care about and love. It’s better to have them mad at you and get them help than to do nothing so you don’t hurt their feelings. Confronting them yourself may not be the best. However, telling an adult that could get them help could save their life.

“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
(Ashley’s favorite Bible verse)

For Girls

Church Family

Destinee Payne

Life can be tough. I remember many times as a young woman I asked God “Why?” Why would he allow such terrible things to happen? I wrestled with these questions as a teenager, but again and again God would reveal his presence and guidance in my life. I began to realize that I may not have all the answers, but God has equipped me with the things I need to make it through. Sin has entered the world and we may not understand God’s perfect plan, but we can have assurance in the fact that God will equip us with what we need to make it through.

For example, in my life,

Tragedies – church burning and pastor leaving

Love and support- we continued meeting

Everyone helped each other

Trust

Someone to Ask for advice

Support even now later in life

1 Corinthians 12: 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Romans 12:9-13 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient[c] in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given[d] to hospitality.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 11 Therefore [b]comfort each other and [c]edify one another, just as you also are doing.

People who have wisdom and love for you are the best to have for support

For Girls, Uncategorized

Lonely But Not Alone

By: Lainey and Ansley Batts

2020 was a lonely year. Social distancing and cancelled events meant building friendships was a challenge. It was a reminder that relationships take time and effort. We recognize all of this when we talk about growing friendships with the people around us, but those same principles apply when we talk about growing in our relationship with God and His word. So how do we grow in our relationship with God? How do we make His word familiar to us?

1.Build your Scripture Streak –

Make it a habit to read one verse (or more) every day. Keep a record of your reading streak. Most Bible apps will do this for you automatically! No one wants to break thier streaks on social media or games, so use that motivation to help you build your faith. Setting aside a specific time each day to read a verse can help you build the habit of studying scripture.

2. Get some good tools

Some passages of Scripture can be hard to understand so get some help. A good study Bible will have notes to help you understand what the verses mean. There are also great free online resources. Bible apps you can highlight passages of Scripture to help you remember what you are studying. But don’t get so caught up in the study helpers that you forget to read what the actual Bible says.

3. Plan an action step.

When you study a verse take time to consider how it applies in your life.

Does this verse challenge you do change your behavior? Does it encourage you? Is it something that you want to share with someone else? Writing out a verse on an index card and posting it where you will see it is a great want to keep it in your mind. Writing your action plan on the back of the card can help hold yourself accountable for applying the verse in your life.

4. Take time for prayer. Building a friendship takes time for talking and listening. Building a relationship with God is the same. Taking time to read His word. And taking time to share your heart with Him.

2020 may have been lonely but 2021 can be the year when we start building a relationship with the One who will always be with us.

For Girls

Always Growing

By: Hannah Gorrell

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 actually it is true that 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 will either be 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

Preparing For Battle

By: Casey Pontious

I was minding my own business putting laundry away when all of a sudden I felt the hit. Then another and another. I was taking on rapid fire and had nowhere to hide. Folded clothes in my hands were hardly shielding me. Nerf bullets came zooming at me from behind closet doors and under beds. With four boys in my house, I should know to always be prepared for anything. However, I was not prepared. 

That is a silly story, but it definitely relates to people of all ages. You see, there is a spiritual battle going on all around us. Some of us are armed, ready, and on alert while many others are “minding their own business” and ill prepared as I. 

A Nerf war is one thing, but a spiritual war is another. There is MUCH at stake in the spiritual world; eternity. We would never go into a Nerf war or a real war unarmed, not prepared, would we? So why do we go into battle, every day, spiritually not equipped for the war around us? 

I want to encourage you to study God’s Word. Ask a parent, pastor, or spiritual mentor to help equip you to study the Bible. It can certainly be intimidating, but with the right tools, you can confidently study the Word of God, grow in your relationship with Him, and prepare your heart and mind for the fiery darts of the devil. The Bible will provide encouragement, instruction, ways of protection, and much more. 

Listen, I know it can be intimidating. I also know that many of you have been in church for most of your life and don’t feel equipped to open the Bible and study it for yourself. Study it. Not just read it. Don’t miss that. Start now. Don’t wait. Your future self will thank you for investing in her. Never have I had a conversation with someone when they’ve said “man, I wish I had learned to study scripture later in life than I did.” But I’ve had dozens of conversations with men and women alike who regret not starting when they were young. Dig in. Ask for help. Look for tools to help you and someone to help teach you. You never know when a dart is coming your way!

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!