For Girls

Seeing Our Godly Mentor

By: Jenna Altom

I remember the days! The day that pimple popped up on my face to ruin all of the special pictures. The day the boy I thought might be the one broke my heart. The day I was betrayed by one of my best friends. The stress of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life after graduation. The day I chose the college to attend and then the major. The list of memories and big life changes could go on and on!

Becoming an adult happened so fast! We change and experience so much in a few short years. If I could go back to those years with the knowledge I have now, there are things I would have done differently. Now I would know not to cry so long over that boy. I would know that one day when I look back at those pictures, I won’t even notice the pimple because I was having a KILLER good hair day! I would know that, at 38 years old, I still don’t know what career I want…and that is okay!

Here are some other things I have learned.

1. Find godly mentors.

As I look back on those years of fast growth, I can see women that God placed in my life as mentors who invested in me and helped guide me through those seasons. I realize now how valuable those women were in my growing up years. As you are growing, learning, and navigating these seasons of fast changes and growth, I encourage you to seek godly women to encourage and pray with you. Even now, God puts women in my life to teach me and help carry my burdens. My Mom has consistently been the number one gal that God has used to teach me. Never underestimate your mom’s knowledge. If you look closely, you will also discover godly women in the church who can speak wisdom into your experiences.

The Bible speaks many times about one generation teaching the next. Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.”

2. Be a godly mentor.

You don’t have to be “old” to be a mentor. As we walk together in life, we are to lift each other up and encourage each other. It is a part of worship and being the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). At 38 I’m blessed to have both parents alive. I have a friend in her 20s who has lost both parents. My younger friend can understand the loss of a parent and can minister to someone experiencing the loss of a parent better than I can. Or you might have an experience that some might consider “trivial”. But to the young woman needing someone to understand her, your wisdom is priceless!

3. Jesus is our ultimate mentor.

In every season and every change, God has given me wise women, but do you know who was my Solid Rock, my Constant, my Everything through each season? Jesus, of course! Other women and moms are invaluable, but the One available 24/7, the One who listened and saw my heart when I couldn’t bring myself to say my thoughts out loud, the One Who was there before I ever took a breath…Jesus! Always there, always listening, always loving! Always Jesus! Turn to Him and trust Him in every season. Our ultimate goal is to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

For now, we travel the journey of life together, pointing those around us toward Him.

            “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20)

For Girls

Contentment is a Choice

By: Autumn Elliott Shuck

These days, social media is at the center of most of our lives. It is easy to get sucked into being fascinated and even obsessed with what influencers and our peers post online. The danger of this is that it can lead us to wish we had what they had or looked the way they looked. We will never be content with our lives if we constantly compare ourselves to others and strive to look better or be better. It is important to remember that, as believers, our greatest desire should be to be like Christ. Contentment can only be found in the Lord and being thankful for what he has given us and how he created all of us to be unique individuals. 1 Timothy 6:6 tells us that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” 

On the flip side of this is what we portray to the world.  We have a responsibility to reflect contentment in Christ to a world that is hurting and searching for something to fill a void in their life. Everything we post is an opportunity to show that life in Christ is what we really need.  He alone can provide real contentment and happiness.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

Matthew 6:25

For Girls

What’s A Girl To Do?

By: Rachel Bryant, RN

What is one of your most prized possessions? Maybe your phone? Your gaming system? Your favorite sweater that looks so cute on you? If you have something that is important to you, you take care of it, don’t you? Well, in that same thought, YOU are important! Because of that, you should take care of yourself. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out what that actually means though. You get all kinds of advice from the internet, your friends, etc. So, what’s girl to do? Let’s go back to the basics.

Here are 5 basic health tips (that although we know, we sometimes struggle to actually do):

#1: Get the proper amount of sleep! This may seem boring, but it’s number one because it is sooo important. Your body, especially as a teenager, needs lots of sleep. Sleep is important to help your body and brain grow and develop. Sleep helps your body recover from all the busyness of your school day, afterschool programs, homework, part-time job, and all your other activities. Even though you enjoy staying up talking to your friends or binging social media videos, your body needs time to relax and de-stress. Sleep is great for this! Finally, sleep helps your body fight off all those germs you are exposed to daily so you can avoid being sick.

#2: Eat right! Now I love pizza, chips, French fries, and ice cream as much as the next girl, but those need to be special snacks on occasion and not your everyday menu. Make sure you are getting the right amount of calories (not too many, not too little) but work on spreading those out between carbs, proteins, vegetables, fruits, and then the occasional sweet treat. In addition to eating the right things, it is important to hydrate! Now I know you love your iced coffee or your sweet tea, but you need to drink water for hydration. Water is not only good for hydration; it is good for your kidney function, aids in digestion, is good for your skin, and the list goes on and on. You can have that iced coffee in the morning to get you going or in the afternoon as a pick-me-up, but then water is your best friend!

#3: Exercise! This may seem obvious that exercise is important to your health. We all know that exercising is good for healthy weight management and building muscle, but it has several other benefits as well. Exercise is great for the mind – it gives you time to think through things, get some clarity away from the busyness of life, and basically increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Exercise also helps you relax and makes you feel good. I know sometimes it does not seem like it feels good, but exercise causes your body to release endorphins and endorphins make you feel good.

#4: Limit screen time and social media! This one is more geared toward your mental health, but still so important. Pull yourself away from the screen (game, tv, movies, laptop, etc.) and get outside, play a board game, talk to people, go for a walk (see #3), learn a new skill, or clean your room (it probably needs it). Limiting social media allows you to be present in the world around you. This can help you get some perspective on things. Remember what you see online may not be accurate or even true but getting out and seeing things and talking to people for yourself can really help ground you. It also helps you grow and develop skills you need for life.

#5: Wait! We know the Bible tells us that sex is supposed to be between a man and woman in the covenant of marriage. However, sometimes we forget God has good reasons for telling us to wait. He knows it is the healthy thing for us. Sex outside of marriage can create mental health struggles like feelings of inadequacy, hurt feelings, loneliness, shame, or regret. Physically, it is not healthy to have multiple sexual partners. This puts you at risk for infections, cancer, and unplanned pregnancy (no matter what you think you are doing to avoid those things). This includes all kinds of sexual behaviors! Practice self-control and demand it from others.

Bonus: Spend time with God!! This tip for spiritual health is the most important tip I can give you. No matter what else you do, your spiritual health is paramount! Make a priority of reading your Bible everyday – the more you read it, the more it sinks in. Hiding God’s Word in your heart can help you in lots of situations you encounter. When something happens or you’re struggling with something, He can bring a verse or story to your mind to help you deal with it. You should also make every effort to attend church on Sunday mornings so you can hear the Word of God preached.  Sometimes it is hard on your own to read and then understand the Bible but listening to a preacher who has studied the Word can help with that. Finally, spend time with Christian friends. In has been proven, you become like those that you hang out with. Make sure your friends are helping you grow closer to God and not pulling you away.

For Girls

Identity in Christ

By: Rachel Munsey Jackson

When I was born, my parents knew within hours that I was very ill. My kidneys were covered with cysts and I was in kidney failure at birth! Fast forward seven years and I could barely walk through the grocery store. Thankfully, I wasn’t really aware of how sick I was because I had always lived with the symptoms. My dad donated me a kidney when I was seven years old. That was the time I realized just how sick I had been my whole life because I felt better for the first time. I was placed on a laundry list of medicines that I still take and will take forever. Naturally, my health became a large part of my identity. 

It’s an interesting study in humanity to observe in what earthly things people find their identity – hobbies, politics, fandoms, and even chronic illnesses to name a few. My own identity is shaped by earthly things too. I am a cat lady, kidney transplant recipient, and most recently, hopeful adoptive mama. While reflecting on my childhood experience for this blog post, I asked myself how I handled chronic illness as a child. The main thing that came to mind was that my identity was found in Christ. There were other things too. I was a little sister and a singer. I cherished my baby dolls. But had I lost my family, stopped singing, or ditched dolls for monster trucks, I would have still found my identity in Jesus Christ because I knew He loves me.

Matthew 6:33 says, “…seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” In life, nothing is guaranteed except for Christ. Life will throw you curveballs, even when you are young. Earthly things can be a part of your identity, but don’t let those things be your identity. Our likes are fleeting, hobbies come and go, and even relationships and health aren’t forever. The only thing that is eternal is Christ. Seek first His Kingdom. Plant your identity firmly in Him and face those curveballs life throws. 

For Girls

He is Able

By: Catherine Blades

How often do I limit God? As I wrote this question down, the words seemed to scream at me. Our God is almighty. He is awesome and powerful. I know this; yet, I choose to make Him powerless. I wrote that question down after I read this quote by Oswald Chambers:

“God can do nothing until I recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, allowing Him to do what is impossible.” 

When I was in school, the most frequent question I got was, “What are your plans?” If you’re a student or recent graduate, you know this question. What do you want to be when you grow up? Our dreams start out big. We want to build amazing architecture around the world, be an olympic gymnast, famous baseball player, big time farmer, skilled nurse, talented doctor, etc. But as we grow up our plans begin to shrink, becoming more practical. 

The same thing can happen to our faith. I read verses that declare God’s greatness and I think, “How great is our God. I have nothing to be worried about.” Later, when faced with hard choices, those truths seem to slip my mind. God promises to never leave or forsake us, but when we have “real” obstacles our response is often what can ”I” do to overcome this. 

God doesn’t ask for perfection. He loves to take our weakness and make it His strength. Sometimes we ask God to work things out and are disappointed when He doesn’t answer like we thought He would. Did we ask God for something that only He could do, or something we thought He could manage?

Isaiah 55:8-9

 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  

 Ephesians 3:20 

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us to Him be the glory.”  

Someone once said that we should do something big enough that if God does not step in, we will fail. This is a nice quotation to have as a background on our phone or in a cute picture frame on the wall, but it is harder to live out than I’d like to admit. However, God calls us to be doers. 

I don’t know if you are in the same boat with me–afraid to step outside what’s comfortable. Maybe you are battling with a choice. The question I put to myself and to you is this, “What choice will show -beyond any doubt- that God was at work?” Are you tempted to choose the achievable? 

We have to remember that God is much wiser than we are. If He doesn’t establish your big plans, don’t be discouraged. God has not abandoned you. He simply asks that we trust Him to lead.  

What would happen if I stopped limiting God? The impossible becomes everyday possibilities.    

For Girls

Prioritize

By: Emily Faison

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever wanted? A new iPhone or tickets to a concert? For me, I couldn’t wait to have my own car.

In Sunday School, we spent a lot of time talking about everyday topics like money. We talked about budgeting, saving, and giving. These were easy to talk about, but harder to do! What helped me was figuring out a way to PRIORITIZE.

When I wanted to buy a car in high school, I started asking myself: Would I rather have this frappucino or car? A friend thought I was joking. Why was I comparing a frozen coffee drink to a car? It’s true that I would have to buy a LOT more frappucinos than I could ever slurp down to equal the cost of a car! But I started asking myself this question at every opportunity. Would I rather buy a new pair of jeans or a car? Would I rather add a milkshake to my Chick-Fil-A order or have a car?

Even though it feels silly to compare these tiny wants to a huge future goal, asking this question helps to visualize priorities and think about what is most important to you.

When I list out the things that I want to be able to do with my money—buy a car, pay for gas to fuel that car, give to missions, do fun activities with my friends—a new pair of jeans feels not so important.

Prioritizing how you spend your money does not mean giving up all fun things! Maybe you are saving for a fun goal, like those tickets to a concert with your friends. By making the choice to spend your money on a concert in a few months, you might choose not to go to the movies for a few weekends or choose not to buy new clothes for a while. 

Budgeting and saving your money can feel impossible when you want to say yes to everything. Prioritizing helped me realize that I wasn’t just saying, “No, I don’t want a frappucino,”…I was actually saying, “Something else is more important to me.”

Although it might seem like an odd Sunday School topic, like everything else in our lives, the way we earn and spend money should mirror our relationship with Jesus—sometimes it’s a matter of remembering what’s most important. PRIORITIZE.

For Girls

Summer Mission Programs

By: Khristi Shores

Adventure, excitement, friendships, challenges, training, learning, blessings, stretching, and growing. These terms apply to two summer programs:  ETEAM (mission team) and Truth and Peace (leadership program).

ETEAM is a three-week program open to young people entering their sophomore year of high school through their senior year graduation. Before each team leaves for their two-weeks of service, the students and their leaders will have a full week of training. This includes spiritual, cultural (for their specific place of service), learning a mime to perform, and songs to sing in the language where they will serve. Team leaders are adults that have had a thorough background check and were screened by the International Missions Department.

Truth and Peace is for freshmen through their high school graduation. It is excellent for spiritual training, self-discipline, time management, teamwork, service, and leadership skills. At the end of the training, the students will prepare and serve in many capacities during the National Association of Free Will Baptists, the annual denominational convention. It is also a time of meeting new friends that will last a lifetime.

My friend, Kyla Kivette, said her experiences, as a high school student, with ETEAM and Truth and Peace allowed her to visit three different countries and meet friends from around the world. ETEAM provided her with memorable experiences, such as eating horse in Kazakhstan and attending a Japanese tea ceremony. More importantly, it revealed the urgency of spreading the gospel. ETEAM allowed her to meet unbelievers with whom she still communicates today.

ETEAM taught Kyla that while comfort zones are great, nothing ever grows there. She gained lifelong mentors and friends.  She also has a desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus, whether in Saut-D’Eau, Haiti, or Nashville, Tennessee.

Truth and Peace strengthened Kyla’s relationship with Christ, and taught her the importance of responsibility, time management, and habits. Kyla said, “Because of Truth and Peace, I engage in better habits as simple as making my bed every day and in solitude and the power of prayer.

“My summers as a high school student were not spent riding roller coasters at Disney World but serving at a food bank in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and painting a school in Nashville, Tennessee. To many, this might sound unappealing. But it taught me that leading is serving and reminded me that only what is done for Christ will last.”

For Girls

Summer Opportunities Are A Family Event

By: Lainey Batts

I just returned from my first E-TEAM trip, where we traveled to Spain. It was an incredible time that has transformed my perspective on missions and the Great Commission. But I never would have made it to Spain without the support of my family and friends. They encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try something different. E-TEAM is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Even if it means missing out on some things back home, it’s definitely worth it.

To parents and grandparents: “Uncle Neil” Gililand told us at E-TEAM training that he doesn’t struggle to find teens that want to go on summer mission trips. The struggle is finding parents and grandparents that will let their teens go. By sending your teen you are helping fulfill the Great Commission. You are helping open your teen’s eyes to the way God is working around the world. Three weeks may seem like a long time to send your teen somewhere else, but it is an important investment for the rest of their lives. Knowing that my parents and grandparents supported my decision to go gave me the freedom to completely commit to the E-TEAM experience.

To siblings and friends: For most teens, international travel is a completely new experience. That can make both students and friends nervous. Even if you are nervous, be encouraging. Be excited! God is doing great things through E-TEAM and other summer mission opportunities. Your friend or sibling is going to have unique experiences that will shape their life. Once they return home, ask good questions. Be ready to listen to their stories.

To everyone: Yes, you will miss your teen. But remember God is using this time to transform hearts and lives for His purpose. Pray for the students! Pray that their trips will have an impact on them for the rest of their lives. Pray that they will serve God and others well. Pray that they will grow in their faith. Let the students know you are praying for them. That’s a huge encouragement. It really makes a difference.

For Girls

What a Crazy Week

By: Hannah Gorrell

This has been the consensus of many or most of our weeks. Maybe even the last hundred weeks have felt ‘crazy’.

When feeling out of order or overwhelmed, it is easy to feel discouraged or passive towards the next day or week. Some of us may have even gone through something exceedingly difficult in the last week. Some may feel weary. Some may feel tired. While Proverbs 27:1 tells us not to boast about tomorrow, I pray that our tomorrows hold much hope and promise.

In a sense, our happiness makes us comfortable or excited for the next day. But it should not be our sole motivation. Christ’s love is still real, even when we are not ‘happy.’ We can still serve the Lord while feeling sad. Do not ignore what you are feeling. Please feel it fully. Just be reminded that you do not have to be happy to serve the Lord.

The psalmist reminds us that even though we walk through the valley, we will fear no evil. (Psalm 23) Recognize where you are in this season of life. Then stride towards the goal of serving Christ and others.

I get overwhelmed thinking about where I am in comparison to another person or based on how long I have been a Christian. Instead of comparing myself to others, I look inward to determine where I have plenty or what I lack.

We are all given different spiritual gifts. Some may have a handful of patience but lack bravery. Instead of being discouraged by comparison, be thoughtful and ask the Lord for help to be more like Him. This will allow us to use our gifts to serve Christ and others even in our crazy weeks.

For Girls

Doing the Right Thing

By: Lily Bryant

You never know when you will have to stick up for your faith; or more importantly, make a choice. About a year ago, when I was in seventh grade, I was forced to make a choice about how I was going to deal with a situation with my friends.

Every once in a while, I would hear one or two of my friends using the Lord’s name as a throw away phrase.  I would try to remind them not to, but of course it never lasted long. I tried to see it as an “oopsie,” because it’s awfully hard to not be influenced by others (especially when you hear some adults are also doing it, but that’s a story for another time). One day it felt like everybody around me was saying it all the time and I just didn’t know what to do. Later that night I decided to go to my mother for advice. She understood it was hard and encouraged me to stand up and do the right thing.

Doing the right thing can be hard, especially when it seems like everyone is doing the opposite. I knew God’s principles (especially His commandments) since I listen at church and read my Bible. I knew it wasn’t right to take the Lord’s name in vain in any way. I made sure I was being careful not to say those things or let those phrases get in my mind and come out of my mouth.

At the end of all this, I didn’t let myself be influenced by the others around me and I kept following the Word of God. Now, I am a stronger Christian and person because I didn’t give into the temptation to sin.  You can do it too – stick together God’s girls!  😊

This is Lily signing off!