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 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!

For Girls

Communicating with Adults: How Hard Can It Be?

Communication. Ugh! Let me tell you, when I was younger, communication was not my strongest attribute. Why? Because I felt like I didn’t have anything important to say. I was afraid to speak in front of a group of people and one on one with certain individuals other than my friends. I didn’t want them to think I was stupid or find out I had flaws.

Talking with adults was the hardest. Adults are just that—adults. How are they going to help me with anything? They don’t know anything about me. They’re not interested in anything I have to say. They’re only interested in adult stuff. They don’t understand anything I’m going through.

As the mother of two girls and wife of a youth pastor turned senior pastor, I can honestly say, adults do care. We are interested. We want the best for you. We want to know more about you and help you with anything. Because, I know it’s hard to imagine but, we, at one time, were teenagers and we know being a teenager is hard. It may have been a different time with different things going on in the world, but it was still hard.

Just like teenagers, it can be difficult for adults to communicate. Sometimes it’s not the best scenario when adults and teenagers communicate, but why is that?

Have you ever talked to someone about something important and they looked uninterested or yawned while you were talking? Or they rolled their eyes when they disagreed? Or they seemed to ignore you by looking at their phone or looking away instead of looking at you like they were interested while you spoke? How did that make you feel? Body language and facial expressions can be a HUGE form of communication. We use our bodies to communicate when we don’t even know. How we stand, our facial expressions, and even our eyes communicate to others how we feel.  A lot of times watching someone’s body language isn’t the most inviting and it makes you want to run away from the entire conversation.

As teenagers, it seems so easy to talk with friends about anything—clothes, hair, make-up, boys, school, music, social media, movies, Netflix. There’s so much out there to discuss. But when it comes to communicating with adults, well, that’s a whole new ballgame. Or is it? We like some of those things too.

One of the big things to know about adults is that we are just like you, but with more experience. That’s why it’s nice to know you can talk with an adult because, more than likely, they’ve had an experience just like you or they know of someone who has. Adults can give great advice; just give them a chance.

When you have a problem and you look to an adult for the answer, it lets them know you trust them. When you communicate with a person for the first time, it may be hard to let go of some things that are personal. But as you continue to communicate and start getting to know that person, it becomes easier to let go and just talk.

The greatest man that walked on this earth, who became a teenager, an adult, and experienced so much should be the first person to go to with your successes, failures, needs, wants, and so much more. He is with you all the time and He knows you. His name is Jesus and He is the greatest communicator and listener of all time. But you know what? He has prepared someone to be there for you when you need it. It could be Mom, Dad, Sunday School teacher, Youth Pastor, or even the Youth Pastor’s spouse. If you don’t know who it is, pray and ask God to reveal that person to you. Pray for courage to talk to them. Who knows, the person God has prepared, that adult you thought you would never talk to, might turn out to be your greatest encourager and blessing.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

 

 

For Adults, For Girls

The Lies Girls Believe

In an anti-moralistic world, the lies our girls hear and believe are abundant. Our friends at D6 recently invited Shine-recommended author Dannah Gresh to join a podcast and share about some of the lies girls believe.

Many of the lies girls believe about their self-worth and confidence are shaped by social media, which girls can spend up to 9 hours a day looking at. Dannah encourages moms to “take the mask off of social media” and remind girls that social media isn’t always real life.

Listen to the rest of the podcast with Dannah here.

For Girls

You Are Fearfully Made

by Jen Thomsen

My life is far perfect. I’m shorter than anyone else and my eyes are bad. My sister is extremely intelligent, and compared to her I’m “the dumb one.” At school, I get free lunch because my family is poor, and everyone knows it. I dress differently than everyone else because of my parent’s religious beliefs. My family has moved so much, I don’t have any friends. Plus, since we moved from the north to the south and then back again, my accent sounds really strange. No one understands me.

Any of that sound familiar? That was my life when I was a teenager… until someone told me something that rocked my world.

Now I have something to tell you that will affect the rest of your life and how you view yourself, if you let it. This may not be the first time that you have heard this, but maybe you are in the place in your life where you can soak it up.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16 ESV)

You may be thinking, “Those are some really nice words, but so what?” Or you might even be thinking, “Well that’s nice, but you haven’t seen me. You have no clue what I look like.” Or maybe you are thinking I am writing to your gorgeous friends or classmates. No! I am talking to you.

It doesn’t matter what others have told you or even what you see in the mirror. God put in a lot of work to make you exactly who you are today. Before anyone saw or even knew about you, God put much thought into who you would become. You are not who you are by accident. You are who God wants you to be. This is an amazing truth. You were created exactly the way God wants you.

Teen girls can be so mean. They sometimes say things that are not true but have just enough truth that you start to believe them. Satan knows we struggle with our self-image, and he also plants thoughts and ideas into our heads that are false and untrue. We need to ignore these thoughts—no matter where they come from—and concentrate on how God feels about us.

We also must be careful not to use this beautiful truth as an excuse to do whatever we want to our bodies or to neglect them. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 3: 16-17: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” We need to take care of our bodies. We do this through healthy eating, exercise, and going to the doctor regularly. God has trusted us with our bodies, and we need to take care of them.

I hope you grasp this concept earlier in your life than I did. I heard this truth for the first time when I was 18. It took a lady headed to China to be a missionary to share this truth with me in a way that it took root in my life. But even though this is a truth I know deep down, I still need to be reminded that I am fearfully and wonderfully made every day.

Do I still have bad hair days? Absolutely. Do I sometimes make poor fashion choices? Um…guilty on that one too! Do I still dislike some things about myself? Sure. But I know God thinks I’m beautiful, and that is all that matters.

For Girls

A Girl’s Guide to Gratitude

Thanksgiving was just last week, but another holiday happened even more recently: Black Friday! Although Black Friday may on the surface be “the official start of holiday shopping,” let’s be honest—how many of those deal were we really trying to score for ourselves?

Maybe you didn’t participate in the Black Friday frenzy. But even if you didn’t go shopping, you might have been thinking about your Christmas wish list. Does Thanksgiving even matter? If we rush into a season of wish lists and shopping the day after, it sure doesn’t seem like it.

The truth is, even though Thanksgiving is just one day, being thankful is important all the time. It shapes the way we see people and things in our lives—having a grateful attitude can actually make us happier. (Check out Harvard Health and Psychology Today.) But our own happiness isn’t the only thing on the line. God also tells us to be thankful.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Sometimes it can be hard to feel thankful. One of the best ways to have a thankful attitude is to take the focus off yourself and look around you.

What people around you might be in need? Serving your community is a great way to see how other people around you live. A couple at my church started a ministry called Bright Spot, which takes meals to a local park on weekends to serve families that are tight on money. Bright Spot also regularly collects clothing and other items to hand out at the park. Ask your pastor or a leader at your church if there are any similar ministries connected to your church and find out if they have a way you can volunteer.

When you see how other people are in need, you begin to realize just how much you have! When you realize just how much you have, you can begin to think about how you can use what you have to bless others.

Being grateful helps you serve those around you and also makes the things in your life more special because you have a greater appreciation for them.

Another great way to feel thankful is to go through your room or your closet and see how much you can give away. Most of us own far more than we need, but we don’t even think about it. As you spend time deciding what to give away, you end up thinking about each individual item you own. Why do you have some of the things you have? Is that necklace special because someone gave it to you? Or maybe you have a souvenir you got on a special trip? Be thankful for the experiences and people those items represent! As you realize which things are actually important and special to you, you can remove the stuff that gets in the way. Not only can you give things away to people in need, but the things you choose to keep have meaning.

Of course, stuff you own shouldn’t be the only thing you are thankful for. That’s the focus of this blog today, but as you learn to be more grateful for the things you have, also start to think about how you can be grateful for less tangible areas of your life. Think about the ways your parents, other family members, friends, teachers, and others in your life support you every day. Appreciating the ways people bless you with their time or kindness is another way to boost your sense of gratitude.

Being thankful helps us appreciate what we have, makes us kinder and more empathetic to those around us, and ultimately, makes us feel more joy because we are living with what God wants for us: a thankful heart.

For Girls

So Much to Do, So Little Time

by Rachel Bryant

Homework. Dance class. Soccer practice. Part-time job. Youth group activities. Piano lessons. After-school clubs. Hanging out with friends. Dinner with family. It’s enough to make any girl feel totally overwhelmed.

There are so many great opportunities out there to learn, to create, to grow… but how do you decide which ones are best? Sometimes we find ourselves trying to pursue every opportunity in front of us, but we just don’t have enough time—or energy. We end up exhausted, burned out, and not really enjoying any of it.

Honestly, finding a balance and prioritizing your life is an ongoing struggle, even as you grow up. The good news is, I’ve been dealing with it for longer, so I’ve got plenty of tips to help you figure out your priorities!

Tip 1: Whatever you do, put God first.

I know this sounds like the church answer and kind of a vague tip, but this is honestly the most important (that’s why it’s #1). The Bible tells us to “Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Putting God first puts the rest of our life in perspective and allows Him to help guide our life and choices. What does that actually look like in real life? Well, “have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3) means not putting all of our activities in front of God. I know it’s hard when maybe your team has games Sunday morning or you’d rather peruse Instagram instead of doing your personal devotions or Bible reading. It can be hard to stick with it, but when you read the Bible and spend consistent time with God in prayer, all other decisions you make will naturally be filtered through what God has to say. God promises us that if we “in all ways acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths” (Proverbs 3:6).

Tip 2: Try to be well-rounded.

Sometimes we find a hobby, sport, or other activity that we really like or are really good at and we commit to it 110%. While it’s great to find what you like, try to remember there are a whole lot of opportunities out there. Try new and different things—you never know what you might discover, and even if you end up not liking it and you don’t do it again, at least you tried something new. That helps make you a more flexible and well-rounded person, which can only help you as you grow into adulthood and make decisions about college, career, and life.

Tip 3: Don’t overcommit.

BONUS TIP: It’s okay to say “no” sometimes! Or simply, “not right now.” Like we talked about in Tip #2, it’s great to try a variety of new things, but that doesn’t mean you have to do them all at once. There are so many opportunities, but learning what you can handle and when it becomes too much is an important learning process. Pay attention to when you start to feel like everything is “too much”—feeling like you are overwhelmed and stressed can be signs. Remember, just because something is a good thing or a fun thing doesn’t mean you have to do it. There are so many good things out there, but it’s just not possible to do all of them, especially at the same time.

Tip 4: Listen to advice.

Sometimes it’s hard to realize when we’re maxed out. It seems like everything is important and fun, and we don’t want to miss out on anything. Once you add up all the things you have to do, like homework and school, and all the things you want to do, like hang out with friends, sometimes it seems like there’s nothing you can cut from your schedule. Talk to your parents, a trusted adult friend or relative, or youth group leader about your schedule. Listen to them if they tell you it’s too much. Listen to them if they suggest giving up something or postponing something. Ask for help prioritizing your activities and ask for advice. Hearing from a different perspective can prove helpful.

Tip 5: Somethings are non-negotiable.

Take care of yourself! Make sure you’re not sacrificing your health for all these activities. We’re talking the basics here: get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, drink lots of water, get some exercise. Make sure your school work is not being neglected; that is your job right now, so don’t let your education suffer. Make sure to spend time with family or friends just relaxing and not worrying about the next thing on your schedule. And finally, once again, make sure you make time for God. Go to church, go to youth group or Bible Study, and have your own personal Bible study time.

So much to do, so little time, right? Finding balance is not always easy, but figuring out your priorities allows you to “make the best use of your time” (Ephesians 5:16a).