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


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!

For Girls

A Journey of Obedience

By: Hannah Goucher

The minute I returned from my ETEAM trip to Japan in 2017, I knew God was calling me to be a missionary. Before this trip, I had an interest in missions but no inclination to go as a missionary. Once I sat down on the flight back to the United States, I knew that mission work was something to which God was calling me. I surrendered. From then on, I was ready to go wherever God called me. Or so I thought.

I began to study missions at Welch College in the fall of 2017, and received copious amounts of instruction, wisdom, and guidance that I will truly cherish for the rest of my life. I was fully prepared to use the things I learned and was so excited to head to the mission field as soon as possible. During my senior year, though, I let many events get in the way of being obedient to God’s calling. Some were big and some small, but either way I allowed myself to put my wants and supposed “needs” in the place of the perfect will of God. I wrestled for quite a bit of time, questioning if I was doing the right thing. In my heart I knew I was heading on a path of disobedience. Don’t get me wrong, the things I wanted to do instead of going straight to the mission field were not bad. I just began to say, “Maybe later?” when God was saying, “Now.”

I will never forget the day I decided to be obedient. I was a counselor at a teen summer camp. That night, after many nights of feeling confused in trying to go my own way, I felt the peace that comes from surrendering your will to the God Whose ways are always good.

Soon I will be returning to Japan as an intern missionary solely through the grace and goodness of God. One verse that has stuck with me throughout this journey is Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” Though it seems easy for us to establish our own plans and ideas, may we all seek to surrender to the perfect will of God.

For Girls

Learning to Love Laundry

By: Rachel Violanti

Laundry. Dishes. Cleaning. Did you roll your eyes when you read at least one of those? I would have a few years ago, but then I met Dawn Elliott. One of our first interactions was her “momming” me, telling me to be careful not to fall off a ladder I was using. I thought that was odd because I obviously knew not to fall off the ladder. But what I would come to learn is that she has a heart for young people, and I had so much to learn from her.

I vividly remember complaining to her that I had double the laundry to do now that I am married. She reminded me that I have a husband I love, and we both have clothes to wear. She reminded me of Galatians 5:13, which says: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” That verse doesn’t say to serve one another and grumble about it or serve one another with resentment. Serve one another humbly in love. I don’t have to do laundry; I get to do laundry. Is this always my attitude? No. However, it warms my heart to think I have women in the faith who have been through the same stages of life that will keep me accountable.

This attitude of service works both ways in our marriage. Neither spouse is perfect, but we strive to serve each other humbly in love. If you think, “I’m not married; this isn’t for me.” Think again. When a friend asks for help cleaning her house when you just sat down to watch a movie, going to her house is to serve her humbly in love. This mindset can apply to all our relationships. The best example we have is Jesus – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) Jesus served us humbly in love when He died in our place. Now it is our turn to emulate the characteristics of Jesus to others.

For Girls

Apples of Gold

by: Destinee Payne

There are things we can do to guard ourselves against speaking with iniquity. Our tongue is compared to forest fire and deadly poison in James 3. We need to be in the habit of professing God’s word and having reverence in our speech to guard against speaking with iniquity. We need to profess our Jesus on our lips. We need to be in the habit of telling of the great things God has done and giving Him the glory.

Proverbs 25:11 states “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” I love this verse! I can just imagine a setting of a beautiful apple orchard where all the trees are silver, the ground is silver, and the sky is silver. There on the trees are beautiful golden apples that stand out perfectly! How beautiful is it for a young woman to speak of her precious Creator.

Younger girls, as well as women, feel it is cheesy or corny to talk about God and praise Him with joy. It’s almost uncomfortable to express our faithfulness to God in daily conversation. This isn’t just with non-believers, it is even among fellow believers. I ask those of you who are older to encourage younger women by speaking about God with them. Ask them what they have seen God doing in their lives. Tell them what you have seen God doing in yours. Praise Him together.

I challenge you younger women to express praise to God verbally. If you’re having a great day, say it with your lips, “God is good!” We might often think that, but saying it is much more forward. Aren’t we scared of that? Read scripture out loud. Praise God by reading the Psalms of David. David was not ashamed, and he spoke often of praising his God. Psalms 9:1 says “I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” This should be the song of our own lips. There are many other verses like this in Psalms. I challenge you to go to a quiet place and proclaim them out loud.

If we push ourselves to be in the habit of praising God with our lips and sharing our reverence for His holiness with others, we guard ourselves

against speaking out of place. We are not perfect and will not always be successful. However, I believe that if we have apples of gold constantly on our lips, it makes it very difficult for the worm to find its way in.

Ask yourself, “How often do I speak of my Jesus?” It’s easy to talk about the things we love like our friends, our hobbies, or other things. If we love Jesus so much, shouldn’t we be talking about Him? How often do you converse with others about your Creator? I challenge you as I challenge myself to use our tongues, not to start fires, but to praise our God.