For Girls

Does God Care about You?

By: Karah Grooms

Eblast paragraph: Karah Grooms challenges you to ask yourself, “Does God care about me?”

Does God Care About Me?
            One day while at college, I was listening, or at least trying to listen, to a chapel speaker preach. My mind was filled with all kinds of distractions, and I allowed them to overtake my mind for most of the sermon. I was going through a particularly hard time in my life. I was battling hopelessness, loneliness, and depression. Chapel was honestly the last place that I wanted to be.

1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” I had heard that passage many times before. The speaker paused after reading it, looked up, and said, “Do you know that?” I leaned in. “Do you know that He cares for you?” he said. It woke me and pulled me out of my thoughts. “Do I know that God cares for me?” I asked myself.

God loves you more than anyone in this finite world ever could. He created you intentionally and purposefully in your mother’s womb. He sent his Beloved Son to die a sinner’s death on a cross for you. He cares for you.

During the time in which we are living, it is easy to isolate ourselves. We think no one cares about us or what we are going through. It’s easy to pretend we’re okay and hide, quite literally, behind a mask. It’s easy to hold onto our pain, regret, struggles, and sins.

The beginning of verse 6 says we have to humble ourselves. Holding onto all of our burdens is an issue of pride. Holding onto all our problems and not giving them to God says we are strong enough to fight these battles alone. Or even that God is not big enough to fight our battles. The truth is God is a big God, and nothing is too heavy for Him.

Verse 6 refers to “the mighty hand of God.” The verse is referencing God’s mighty hand saving His people, the Israelites from Egypt. God’s hand is still mighty, and if He can bring a whole people group out of bondage thousands of years ago, then He can handle your burdens. Christ calls you to cast your sins on Him because He cares for you (verse. 7). You can bring all of your sin, all of your hurt, all of your day-to-day struggles to Him. He is a big God, and nothing is too heavy for Him to carry.

 Today, I pray that you can turn from yourself and turn to God, giving Him all you are carrying because He cares for you.

For Adults, For Girls

Intentional Relationships

By: Hannah Gorrell

This season of life has lasted much longer than any of us hoped or expected. We are endlessly separated from our friends and loved ones in one sense or another. Sometimes we only see our friends through screens or plexiglass. It feels like one of the loneliest times in history. We are challenged to find new ways to interact and form relationships. That may even be what led you to be reading this blog.

As human beings, we are made for relationships. God told Adam it was not good for him to be alone, so God made a companion. We should resist the temptation to take the easier route, shying away from relationships. My prayer is that we find new ways to be intentional in our friendships. Intentionality will enrich our love for those people even more. We may do this by writing letters to friends far away or making phone calls to our grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

I want to encourage you to set aside some time every day to do these things. Make it a time to express yourself but also a time to relax. The relationships you need to work on are not far away. Make sure to spend time with those in your household. Honor your father and mother and those who take care of you. Remember, your siblings are your companions for life.

Commit to reaching out to a different friend or loved one every day this week. You will be surprised when you not only lift their spirits, but they also raise yours.

For Girls

Worth the Wait

By: Becky Gwartney

I sat nervously in the car, folding a piece of paper over and over again that I held in my hands. The ride seemed to be taking forever as we drove back to college from a church service a few hours away. Weeks before, my chauffeur for the night had told me he loved me. I was hesitant to get that serious since I had just ended a 5-year relationship before dating him, and I knew he hadn’t been separated from his previous girlfriend for very long. I was skeptical, and I was afraid of making the wrong decision.

I had made plenty of those in my life! In fact, I traveled out of state to attend a Christian college trying to get away from the mistakes I had made. I needed a fresh start, and attending college near my home was not the place to do it. No more choosing the wrong path, and no more choosing the wrong guy. This was my time to choose well.

I had had many boyfriends in the past. All of them were “good guys”, but not all of them were good for me. Some of them claimed to know God and love Him, but few lived that out. I was tired of playing games and wasting time. Now, as a college student, I was ready to wait as long as it took to find Mr. Right.

Was this him, the guy sitting beside me in the car? He had “checked every box” on the list I had made before I would even consider dating someone else. I knew I had set high standards. I wasn’t about to make a mistake again…with my heart or with my life. With peace in my heart and a nudge from God, I knew He was orchestrating every moment and the feelings swelling inside of me.

A songbird at heart, I decided to sing the words instead of speaking them—I love you. I honestly love you. As the words in my heart finally escaped my lips, he pulled the car to the side of the road, eyes full of tears and a huge smile on his face. He knew, then, I felt the same as he had for weeks.

Was all the heartache I had been through worth the wait? Definitely! Was being picky worth the ridicule from my friends who thought I was ridiculous? You bet! Was it wise to wait for the man God had for me? Positively! Had God answered my prayers and given me the man of my dreams? Absolutely!

I never had to keep searching, taking chances, plucking off the rose petals… “He loves me. He loves me not.” But more than that, I knew this man of God was the man God had chosen for me, and he would love me until death parts us. Now, 42 years later, we are still living out the love story God wrote for us, and it’s beautiful. Won’t you let Him write yours too? The man He has for you is worth the wait!!!

For Girls

Present in the Present

by Hannah Goucher

As Christians, we often view God’s will as something off in the distant future. We fantasize about the things we will do for God then, often forgetting He is working in the here and now. We must not think of God’s will for our lives as something we are waiting to do, but rather as something happening in the present. One may ask, “How can we do God’s will in the present?” We do this by loving God and being obedient to Him. This is the very thing God calls all Christians to do. It is not something in the distance we’re striving to attain. Instead, it is daily dying to ourselves and our fleshly desires, then choosing to walk in the Spirit.

If we want to do those big things for God, we must be willing to be obedient in the small things of everyday life. Luke 16:10a says, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.” I often find myself wanting to do big things for God. But if I’m not willing to be obedient in the small stuff, I won’t be obedient in the big.

What are the things we can know about God’s will?

1. It is not distant or a mystery.
We can be sure of the things God has called us to do right now. We can also be sure they will be the same in the future.

2. It requires obedience from the believer.
We must be obedient to what God has called us to do now in order to do big things for Him in the future. (How beautiful it is that He allows us to be a part of that!)

3. There is mercy and grace when we disobey and repent.
We can rest and be encouraged that God does not leave us when we fall short and make mistakes. He is faithful and just to forgive, helping us along the way.

What are some ways we can be obedient in the small things?

  1. Choosing not to gossip and changing the conversation when the topic arises.
  2. Being a friend to someone in need when you’d rather go hang out with your friends.
  3. Putting in the work for your homework/test rather than slacking.
  4. Helping your friends through drama rather than adding fuel to the fire.

Dear Lord, thank You that Your will is not something unattainable but present in the here and now. Help us be obedient in the small things and rely on You to do big things.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen

For Girls

Priorities

by Melinda Walker

Going into the new year, people make many resolutions and do not keep them past the first week. People want to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, and so on. 2020 has been an emotional roller coaster full of stress, heartache, anxiety, confusion, sadness, but for some happiness, joy, and excitement. When you look back at 2020, what were your plans and resolutions going into that year? How did they change? What were your priorities?

Entering 2021, what do you want to see? What are your priorities for this year? As a teenager, there are so many things that you can set your mind on at the beginning of the year and then forget about because of other events in your life. No matter what happens in your life, there is always someone who should be a constant, a priority, in your life. And that is Jesus Christ. Jesus should be your priority every day.

There are 3 simple steps to help keep Him a priority in your life.

  1. Go to Him every day in the word. In other words, read your Bible, get a study guide, or devotional to help.
  2. Be active in your church and youth group. If you do not have a youth group, start one.
  3. Turn all of your worries, cares, crazy thoughts, and concerns over to Him.

Once you do these things, the struggles will seem far less. Am I saying your struggles will be gone? Absolutely not! Some days can get pretty bad. (God never said that Christian lives are perfect.) But when you continually prioritize keeping Jesus in your life EVERY DAY, those struggles do not seem as bad. Why? You are leaning on and giving it all to Him. Matthew 6:33 (NLT) says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

Life is a struggle, especially with all the chaos of the pandemic and politics. Make Jesus a priority in your life. He will help you with whatever you are dealing with every day.

For Girls

Conflict: Sailing Through the Storm

by Beth Bryant

God’s Word is filled with Scriptures that show us conflict (AKA drama) —handled both the right and wrong way. In fact, one parable Jesus taught in Matthew 18:23-34 represents both kinds of conflict management.

A king wanted to settle accounts with a servant who owed him what would amount to millions of dollars. The servant could never pay off this immense debt and begged for mercy so he and his whole family wouldn’t be sold as slaves. The king felt compassion and canceled the debt of the servant in full. Later in the day, the same servant came upon another who owed him hundreds of dollars. He grabbed him and choked him saying, “Pay what you owe!” He refused mercy and had that servant put into debtor’s prison.

Other servants of the king saw what had happened and told their master. The king sent for him, irate at his lack of empathy, handed him over to the prison until he repaid his entire debt. Jesus ended the story saying, “That is what my Father in heaven will do to you if each of you does not sincerely forgive other believers” (verse 35).

The very same person shown compassion over a much greater debt showed very little compassion over a much smaller debt. We can be quick to throw stones here, but God’s girls must confess that often we are not quick to show compassion when someone’s offended us.

No matter how much we hate conflict, it’s always going to exist because conflict has its roots in human nature’s pride and selfishness. In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul reminds believers that terrible actions come from our sinful, human nature, or works of the flesh. “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factionsand envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Drama Remedy 1

It’s impossible to avoid all forms of drama, so God’s girls need to learn how to deal with it in a healthy, God-honoring way. In the same chapter of Galatians (5:22-23), the fruit of the Spirit are the character qualities Paul suggests God’s girls should utilize inhandling conflict. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

When we constantly involve ourselves in conflict, we aren’t displaying the fruits of the Spirit—the qualities or “markers” showing a real, growing ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­relationship with Jesus Christ. When the fruit of the Spirit isn’t being produced in our lives, then nothing else will be quite right. We reap the wrong kinds of qualities and behaviors and become frustrated and dissatisfied, which only adds fuel to the fires of conflict in our lives.

Drama Remedy 2

Note the circumstances in which you’re most likely to initiate or engage in conflict so you can practice prevention. These are some common drama scenarios:

  • When I’m not getting the attention I need from parents, friends, or others
  • When my hormones are crazy
  • When I feel like I’ve been hurt or disrespected by someone
  • When I start feeling bored
  • When I’m under a lot of stress
  • When I’m not getting enough sleep

Sometimes it seems like conflict is easier to ignore than to resolve. We might be tempted to pretend like nothing’s going on. Or we might react in a defensive way and retaliate. Either way, God is pretty serious about making things right. So serious, in fact that in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells His followers conflict with others affects our worship—it comes between us and God (Matthew 5:24).

Drama Remedy 3:

Resolve conflict by putting away our pride to make peace. Drama doesn’t often resolve unless both parties humble themselves, listen to each other, admit to any wrong-doing (even if unintentional), seek forgiveness, and grant grace and forgiveness.

Practical tips for navigating the rocky waters of conflict:

  1. Choose your closest friends carefully. Some people are drama magnets. Be friends, but don’t make the drama magnets your go-to BFF.
  2. Stay away from cliques, groups, or squads. Conflict always ruminates somewhere in a closed or exclusive group of friends. Do your best to mingle. Change up whom you sit with at lunch every so often. Hang out with different people.
  3. Be the same person across the board. You are much more likely to see less conflict
    when people know you present the same “face” to all and don’t play favorites.
  4. Read God’s Word. Spend time in prayer. Learn what it means to grow in Christ and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit. This way, when conflict pops up, you’ll be much more in tune with God. He can reveal the best way to handle the issue(s) and display the right attitude as you trust in Him.
  5. Commit to a gossip-free mouth! Don’t let anything untrue, unkind, or unsure of be said about another person. If it can’t be said in their presence, forget about saying it to anyone else.
  6. Bring a mediator. When you find yourself in a sticky conflict that might be difficult to resolve, try to find someone both of you trust to mediate and help you resolve the conflict. A third-party, godly adult, teacher, or pastor are always good options.
  7. Manage stress in healthy ways and get enough sleep!  Stress puts our emotions on edge and we’re more likely to lash out at someone. Well-rested people can think more clearly to avoid conflict AND manage it more wisely.
  8. Realize it’s just not worth it. Your teen-girl’s brain may not be able to foresee the stress and pain caused by stirring up drama over an offense. When something starts a conflict, work it out as peaceably as possible before it turns ugly and you do or say something you’ll regret.
For Girls

A Christian’s Approach to Race

by Caitlyn Hayes

Recently I was having a conversation with someone about all the things going on in our world, and they said, “Have you noticed that we know how adults feel about race, but no one has asked kids and teens what their experiences are?” That stuck with me because we always encourage teenagers to learn about life and how to handle it. However, when tough times come, we do not ask them about their experience or point of view.

While many teens do not see division based solely on skin color today, there still are cases in the world where young people experience racism. Recently, I sat down with two girls who dealt with racism at school. They have been called names and targeted by other students all because of the color of their skin.

As young, strong, Christian women, I asked them how racism has impacted them. To sum up their answers, it has been a constant punch in the gut over something they have no control over. This made me think of 1 Corinthians 15:49: “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (ESV).  Each person has been made by the same Creator in His image.

When we focus on our differences and allow them to divide us, that is all there will be: division. However, if we adopt the old saying “W.W.J.D.” (What would Jesus do), we would see more of God’s children coming together and spreading the gospel. We would be examples of the true, open love and grace of Jesus Christ. When you or one of your friends is being picked on, remember to Whom you belong. Remind them, and yourself, that people do not define you! You are defined by who you are in Him!

For Girls

Remaining Calm in the Storm

by Rachel Bryant

Have you ever been outside and suddenly caught in a huge thunderstorm? My family was on vacation, walking around in a downtown area, when a scary thunderstorm suddenly started out of nowhere. In the deluge of rain, thunder clapping, and lightning flashing, my whole family ran down the sidewalk trying to find shelter. As we were crossing a street, my youngest cousin couldn’t take it anymore. She stopped in the middle of the crosswalk, planted her feet, and started crying and screaming, refusing to move! We all felt the same way but had to keep moving to find refuge from the storm.

Do you know the story of the disciples in the boat during a big storm? (Read Mark 4:35–41) Basically, they were in the middle of a storm that could overturn their boat and kill them. They were terrified! They probably wanted to cry and scream too. But Jesus was there! He commanded the storm, “Peace, be still,” and instantly, the storm calmed. Amazing!

During the storms in our life, which sometimes feel terrifying, wouldn’t this be nice?! Jesus may not literally be in our boat and may not always make our storms disappear instantly, but He has given us His power to make it through the storms and remain calm.

When I am dealing with crises or storms of life, I try to focus on the Scriptures and God’s truths. I want to give you two of the most helpful Scriptures for me. What are some Scriptures you cling to? If you don’t know any, start reading His Word, and He will show you some, I promise!

2 Timothy 1:7: “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” reminds me first and foremost that God does not want us to give in to our fears. He doesn’t want them to control us. Having a “spirit of fear” indicates more than just a fleeting worry but feels more like a “dwelling” on the fears. This is so easy to do – you know how this feels – always running the fears and worries through our minds, a constant play-by-play of the dreaded “what ifs” of all the bad possibilities.

Stop! God did not create us to be in constant worry and fear! But the last part of this verse is super helpful in these spiraling out of control fearful thoughts – God gave us a sound mind! God gave us the mind to be rational and reasonable and put a stop to the thoughts from the Devil of the fears that he loves to pound us with. This sound mind gives us the ability to say, “Stop!”

So then, if we can get ourselves to stop the fear and worries, then what? That’s where my second verse comes in. Philippians 4:8: Finally, “Sisters,” whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Once you can put a stop to the crisis-mode thinking, fill your thoughts with these things.

Sometimes I focus on just the first one – what. is. true. When you are in a storm of life, it can be hard to find things that are “honorable” or “lovely,” so focus on the truth, which comes from God. If you can’t find any other good truth in life, here’s one: the God of the universe loves YOU and wants to help you through this crisis!

Putting this formula together, we can stop the spirit of fear in its tracks and then use our sound mind to focus our thoughts on truth. This clarity allows us to think through the crisis in front of us and remain calm to determine what needs to be done. Our storm may not immediately calm as it did for the disciples, but we can clearly see how to find refuge. Ultimately, our shelter is in God, and He will help you and offer His peace during your storm, whatever it is.

Challenge: If you are new to Bible reading, or even if you have read it “all your life,” – read through the book of Psalms. The men who wrote the Psalms were going through crises and storms. But they were praising God for the peace He offers and that He is always our refuge, a shelter in the time of storm!

For Girls, Uncategorized

Always Growing

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 it is true, 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 is either 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

Making Good Choices

by Diana Bryant

Have you ever thought about how many decisions you make each day? It starts with “do I get up when my alarm goes off or hit snooze?” Then you decide what to wear, how to do your hair, what to eat for breakfast. It continues throughout the day. Many decisions have no real significant consequences, but other choices can have much farther reaching effects. You know what happens when you choose to watch one more episode of your favorite show instead of studying for your math test. But do you realize what it can mean to your future when you choose one group of friends over another? Or when you choose to make time each day to read your Bible?

The truth is, life is really a series of choices and consequences.  All choices have outcomes, ranging from insignificant to life changing. Choices can complicate your life or make it easier. Choices can affect your health and your relationships, and some choices can have spiritual and eternal significance.

How do we grow in our ability to make good choices? What guidelines can we use to make the best choices more often?

**Be intentional about spending time in God’s Word. Every day, even if it’s only a few verses a day. The principles and wisdom in Scripture will take root and make good choices easier to recognize. Packed full of wisdom, the book of Proverbs tells us that God wants us to delight in truth and knowledge. Reading a Proverb each day will go a long way towards building up a storehouse of wisdom to help you make good choices.

**Learn to think past the present choice to the probable outcome of the choice. “If I choose to go where friends want me to go, will it be a good environment, or can I imagine problems that might come up?” “If I send this text, what reaction will it cause when it’s read?” “How will I feel if my parents or others find out about this possible action?”

**Learn from other godly examples in your life. Watch their lives and habits, pay attention to how they spend their time. See the choices they make. Ask for their advice when you’re not sure which way to go. Believe it or not, your Mom, Sunday school teacher, and even your Grandma has made some of the very same choices that give you trouble. They’ve learned a thing or two by the outcomes of their choices.  They would be glad to share some of that wisdom with you. You might even hear some good stories!

**Learn the difference between choices that only seem important—like which pair of jeans to buy, and choices that really are important—like choosing friends who encourage you and help you grow instead of causing you to go in directions you know are not right. Give more thought to making decisions that have bigger consequences than the choices that are not as significant.

**Make your own choices, don’t be manipulated or forced to make decisions based on pressure from someone else. Many times, uncomfortable feelings of pressure from someone is an indication you need to think twice or seek advice.

**Learn from choices you make—both good and bad, and apply those lessons to situations you find yourself in. Remember how certain choices made you feel. Think about how decisions you’ve made affected your life. You’ll notice good choices most often result in better relationships, better health, less trouble and drama in your life, and more progress in whatever you happen to be working toward.

Proverbs 3:13-14 says, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom and the one who gets understanding. For the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold”. You’ll be making choices all your life. Learn now to make good ones!