For Girls

The God of Our Emotions

By: Hannah Goucher

I’ve always been a very emotional person, even from a very young age. Watching sad movies or even Planet Earth always left me in tears.  I often allowed my emotions to get the best of me.

Fast forward to the present, and one can see the same struggle. Though not always due to sad movies, I often struggle with letting my emotions, disappointment, anxiety, and fear dictate or distort what I know to be true about God and His Word. As I grow in my relationship with the Father, though, I have learned that I cannot allow this to happen. ​

We, as Christians cannot allow our emotions to dictate and change what we know to be true about Who God is and what He has done. ​Our emotions are fleeting, and often contradict the very truth that comes from God’s Word. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (ESV). We must choose daily not to walk in the flesh, but to walk in the Spirit and allow Him to lead us. Do not allow your emotions to limit your understanding of Who God is and what He is doing. Rest in the fact that His truth is eternal and not based upon our fleeting feelings.

For Girls

As Is Custom

By Claire Ryan

School can be tough.

It’s September; the days are becoming shorter, the nights longer, the weather is starting to cool, and school is in full swing. I remember being in middle and high school; I wanted to fit in, to be liked. I would do just about anything to make people laugh. I enjoyed school, but mainly for hanging out with friends and the occasional time I spent reading for fun. I also remember the mid-semester blues.

Where I attended high school, there were not a ton of like-minded individuals; not many people who loved the Lord and lived to serve Him. Which is why I could hardly wait for each school day to end so I could get home to my family. Following Jesus can sometimes be scary or difficult, especially when the distractions of school, friends, or popularity can cause a lack of focus.

We all may be familiar with the story of Job. “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” (Job 1:1). He was described as “upright” and “blameless,” someone “who feared God.” Job did right in the eyes of the Lord. And God had so much trust in Job that He allowed Satan to reign horror down on the man’s life, knowing Job’s faith would not falter. Job lost everything, yet his allegiance remained with God.

How do we, in this fallen, treacherously sinful world, walk blameless and upright in Christ?

Consider Paul. A murderer-turned-forgiven through Christ. A feared Pharisee turned grace-covered Ambassador. “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.’” (Acts 17: 1-3)

Think about that phrase: “As was his custom.” Proclaiming Christ was what Paul was about; it was who he was. It was his traditional way of behaving. It occupied every action of his born-again life.

How do we walk blameless and upright in Christ?

When school gets challenging, tiring, or boring, or when we start to lose our focus, the Lord still has a plan for our daily lives: to be about Him and His business. To have our lives reflect His love in the way we live and treat others. To seek opportunities to grow in Him and share with others His daily mercies. It should simply be our custom to live in such a way.

Paul’s ministry changed the lives of thousands of individuals who chose to follow Christ in their day to day. Fruit was born of Paul’s labors. Fruit can be born of your faith, too.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul reminds us of his sufferings for the cause of Christ. He was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and faced countless other dangers. But because he planted his faith in Christ, he understood the worth behind his suffering.

Jesus is worthy of your time, your efforts, your service. He is worthy of your diligence in school, your respect for His name, and your love for His created people. He is worthy of your focus.

Yes, even when the days become shorter, the nights longer, and the weather cools. Even when school is in full swing and so many distractions are vying for your attention, seeking to separate you from Christ.

Just like Paul, be about the business of your Father in Heaven.

As is your custom.

For Girls

A Students Prayer by Thomas of Aquinas

Creator of all things, the true source of light and wisdom, the origin of all being, graciously let a ray of your light penetrate the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness in which I have been born, an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding, a retentive memory, and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning, direct the progress, and help in the completion. I ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

This prayer for a student was written by Thomas of Aquinas. I understand that this situation is true for many of us, as students in a classroom setting. I pray it is also true that even when we graduate into our careers that we are still students. I hope that we are always studying to be better family members, better disciples, better leaders, and better teachers to students of our own. Truly, we should recognize that we will always be students of some kind.
However, I know that many of us are still in the season of studying things like math and history and things of that sort, which may or may not be our favorite thing to study. I hope that we can keep Thomas Aquinas’ words in the front of our minds and we too pray that the Creator of these subjects helps us understand our work, and be steadfast, striving for excellence.

For Girls

10 Things to Help You Succeed in the New School Year

By: Anna Fox

  1. School is a big deal, but also not a big deal.

It matters because this is the building blocks of developing your character, work ethic, and education. However, your time in school does not define your entire life.

2. You will add or replace friends as you mature.

While you are to be kind to everyone, you don’t have to be friends with everyone. It is okay if everyone doesn’t like you. Do not ruin your life over a temporary friendship or desire.

3. Be picky in choosing your core friend group. Don’t settle.

You are in the process of developing your biblical worldview. Your core group of friends will influence your decisions need to have a similar worldview.

4. Plug in at your local church.

Your church family will continue to be your family even after you graduate high school. Get plugged in and serve. Attend more than youth events. You have an important role in your local church.

5. You are responsible for your actions and reactions.

While your feelings are valid and real, you alone are responsible for your actions and reactions. James tells us we should show respect, be slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to listen.

6. Talk it out.

Do not bottle your feelings. It is equally important to be discreet with whom you share your thoughts and feelings. Find a trusted adult, mature Christian woman to talk with. Find someone to disciple you.

7. Participate in family discipleship.

Family discipleship is important to your spiritual health and that of your family. Encourage your family to have spiritual talks and participate in them.

8. Develop your relationship with Christ.

Christ should be the center of everything you do. Your activities and lifestyle should reflect a biblical worldview. Spend dedicated time with Him studying and praying.

9. Get organized.

Organization is a key element in being efficient throughout life. This is a skill you will use in high school, college, and your career. Organization will help you complete homework on time, help around the house, and allow time for fun.

10. Enjoy this season.

Journal through this season. Trust me, you will enjoy reading your entries in a few years. Ecclesiastes 3 tell us there is a season for everything. A time to laugh and a time to cry.  This unique season of life won’t be like any other. Enjoy it and take it all in. It is okay to ask questions and lean on others. Have fun and remember it all.

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!