For Adults

Busy, Busy, Busy

by Diana Bryant

If you talked to a dozen women today, no matter their age or occupation, I can guarantee one word would come up in every conversation – BUSY. Young mothers, career women, retired grandmothers, church volunteers, and even young teens who go to school, play sports, and take dance lessons give the same answer. “Busy!” is the common reply to the question, “How are you?”

As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children many things. From the mundane – how to brush their teeth – to the eternally significant – how to recognize right and wrong. We discover early on that some things are taught by instruction and some things are caught by daily observing our lives in the privacy of our own homes and in public before others.

“Busy” is not in itself a bad thing. Persistent idleness is not good stewardship of our time, resources, or abilities. But neither is the “busyness” that saps our joy, skews our priorities, and causes us to place more emphasis on the superficial than the significant.
What are your children learning from your mastery – or slavery – to your schedule?

Consider these opposing messages:

  1. We teach our children the importance of learning God’s Word, of reading their Bibles. Do they see you modeling that? If our busy day keeps us from God’s Word, regardless of what parents and Sunday School teachers have said, we are teaching, “It’s not that important, there are other things that really need to be done.” Priorities are caught, and when they don’t match our spoken words, children will notice and draw their own conclusions.
  2. We work hard to make our daughters understand that their value comes from who they ARE, a child of God, not what they can DO. When we have a relentless schedule, involve ourselves with too many commitments, and use an inordinate amount of our energy to make every event we are involved in as perfect as we can get it, we are really teaching our daughters that our successes and accomplishments define our self worth. If we are constantly talking about how busy we are, wearing that phrase as a badge of honor, it speaks loudly to girls who desperately want to be valuable in this world.
  3. Are we using our busy schedules to avoid something else? Are there issues in our relationships that need to be dealt with? Perhaps making sure every minute is filled with some kind of activity gives us the excuse we need to sweep those concerns under the rug? Busyness can become addictive, but real connections with our families and friends cannot thrive without the time and attention they need. “You can always talk to me!” won’t ring true with our daughters if they can’t find a time that we are available and not distracted by activity.

These words are easy, but dealing with this issue in real life is not. Being needed, appreciated, and admired feels good. The lure of being sought after feeds our self-esteem. But seeking God’s direction for our schedules is more reliable than doing things just because we want to – or feel like we have to. Our relationship with God cannot be nurtured by busyness – even if we are busy with good things.

Think about these things as you consider your priorities in scheduling and modeling time management for your daughters and other young women in your life:

  • Remember that there are seasons in life. There may be a particular activity or cause you really want to be involved in, but waiting until a different season in your life may be better for everyone. Important causes will still be there long after your window of everyday influence in your daughter’s life closes.
  • Understand the difference between a good work ethic and being a workaholic. One glorifies God, the other glorifies ourselves.
  • If you are feeling burdened, harried, frustrated, and exhausted by your schedule, honestly ask God if you are following His leading or your own. This requires honesty on our part, but God has promised wisdom when we ask. Take Him up on that promise!

Check out our companion blog post for girls: So Much to Do, So Little Time

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).

For Girls

Battling the Image Beast

By Beth Bryant

Today’s “artificial” culture, preoccupied with outer beauty, aesthetic, and trying to make things look better than they generally are, can be pretty tough to navigate.

And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with paying attention to the outside, scripture warns against focusing too much on outward appearances. We have to know what we’re dealing with. Two of the main areas of image obsession currently plaguing adolescent girls are physical appearance and social media.

Beauty and the Image Beast

It’s hard to battle the image beast when there are so many voices telling us to feed it.

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

Here, two truths are revealed: Humans tend to see the outside, and God sees our hearts. Often, when we look in the mirror, we have more negative thoughts than positive. We spend a lot of time comparing the reflective glass version of ourselves to other individuals, from models on magazines to the girls at school. These physical comparisons make it nearly impossible for us to have a healthy view of ourselves.
Outside pressures from advertisements, celebrities, shows, movies, social media, or even from trying to win affirmation from people at school or guys can all tempt us to make outer beauty our focus. Again, there’s nothing wrong with a new outfit, a manicure, or haircut. But it is of utmost importance to make our heart the focus—what God sees, and where true beauty lies!

…the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:3-4

All the best that physical appearance has to offer can’t compete with the beauty of holiness. Real beauty is not dependent on image—real beauty comes from a gentle and quiet spirit that honors, obeys, and worships God.

Give to the Lord the glory due His name; Bring an offering and come before Him. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! 1 Chronicles 16:29

Social Media and the Façade

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

While Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and other social media platforms have done good things, like increase our connection to friends and family far away and give us new outlets for self expression, one of the downsides is revealed in our natural human tendency for competition. Selfish pride motivates girls and women of all ages to try to present something that appears better than reality.

Filters can be fun, but it’s important to remember that edited images do not represent reality. When we see women who appear to be perfect on social media, remember that images rarely—if ever—tell the whole truth. When we feel a compulsion to edit and layer every single photo we post with filters just to create an “acceptable” image, maybe it’s time to take a step back.

Social Media Use Is Best When….

  1. We honor God with it. Post wisely, follow others wisely, and apply the principles found in scripture to your social media activity.
  2. We avoid the pride and comparison pitfalls. Don’t post to brag or self-promote. Don’t allow envy or comparisons to creep in when you see posts.
  3. We realize that it’s not usually the most honest picture. Remember that images are photoshopped and the person posting the photo took tons of pictures to get just the right shot. People mostly only post the good and leave out the bad, so social media doesn’t show the whole picture.
  4. We use it with moderation. Like many good thing, excessive use of social media can lead to image obsession and causes us to lose our focus on what’s most important—who we are inside.

Remember, it’s okay to care about how you look on the outside. Scripture warns against focusing too much on outward appearances. Jesus doesn’t mince words. What’s inside is most important.

Bonus! Check out this handy list of tips for battling the image beast.

For Adults, For Girls

The eXit Strategy

By Rachel Bryant

The eXit strategy is a pre-planned strategy that gives teens a way out of uncomfortable or unsafe situations without the fear of being made fun of for wanting to leave.

So what’s the plan?

If a teen is at a friend’s house, a party, or anywhere else, and wisely decides, for whatever reason, that she needs to not be there anymore, this prearranged agreement can help her exit the uncomfortable situation. When the teen realizes she needs to leave, she sends a text with a pre-planned code to a parent or trusted adult. This can be one word, number, or even just one letter (example: X).

When the parent or adult receives the “code word” text, they immediately call the teen and tell them there is an emergency at home and that the teen either needs to come home now or the adult will come get her right now.

Once the teen is safe at home, the parent or adult allows the teen some time to think over the situation. After a period of time, such as the next morning, the adult and teen sit down together to discuss the situation calmly. They discuss what happened, the teen’s good decision to leave the uncomfortable situation, and how to make good choices in the future.

And how does the plan work?

In order for this strategy to be effective, both you and the teen must commit to stick to the plan. When you and the teen discuss this strategy beforehand, you both must make agreements:

Parent/Adult Agrees To:

  • Quickly call teen back with “emergency”
  • Don’t ask questions on the phone
  • Be calm when you pick them up or when they arrive home
  • Validate the teen’s decision to use the exit strategy and text an adult
  • Give teen time to think about situation and be ready to listen calmly during discussion

Teen Agrees To:

  • Text adult as soon as you feel uncomfortable
  • Answer your phone when they call back
  • Listen and be honest during discussion
  • Think about ways to better handle or avoid similar situations in the future

For a printable version of this, check out the Resources page.