What Does 2018 Hold? I don’t know about you, but 2017 felt like a rough year. Although the start of a new year in reality means nothing more than having to get a new calendar, it still feels like the new date brings a new hope. Of course, only God knows what our future holds. But He doesn’t want us to just kick back and wait around for things to happen. He created us to be actively involved in our surroundings. That’s why goals are so important for our existence. Do you have any goals for this coming year? Although I don’t know what the future holds, I know who holds my future. I also know what this issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine has in store for you. We hope that these pages will help you celebrate a very holiday-packed season and get you on track to set goals that you can work toward this coming year. Happy 2018!
In This Issue Godly Girlz ............................................. 3 Goals ...................................................... 3 NOT the Most Wonderful Time of the Year? ......................................................6 He Picked Me .........................................8 Girlz in Action ......................................... 10 The Sonflowerz .................................... 10 Start Strong in the New Year ................ 14 Beautiful Girlz ......................................... 17 Keeping Warm this Winter ................... 17 SPIES .................................................... 18 Fun 4 Girlz ............................................... 20 The Missing Piece ................................. 20 G4C Book Club .....................................24 Lie vs Truth ...........................................26 Extra! Extra!..........................................28
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Can I be perfectly honest? Christmas isn’t my favorite holiday. As much as I enjoy peppermint flavored things and listening to the Trans Siberian Orchestra’s Carol of the Bells on a loop, I don’t spend the entire year counting down the days until December 25th. I’m not a fan of suspense, so having to stare at presents I’m not allowed to open for weeks is absolute torture. When I was a kid, my parents would put our presents under the tree before Christmas. During the night I’d I sneak downstairs, open the presents, view the contents, and then rewrap them and return them to the tree. My mom caught on and began keeping presents in the closet, but that did absolutely nothing to deter my efforts. When she wasn’t around I’d sneak into her closet, locate the
gifts, and commence with the same routine of opening, peeking, and rewrapping. I’m also not a huge fan of winter in general, so maybe I’d like Christmas more if I lived in the southern hemisphere, where the holiday falls during the summer. As it stands, however, the shorter days, colder weather, and the sugar rush-crash cycle of near-constant Christmas treats (I’m a teacher and my students and their families do a wonderful job of fattening me up over the holidays!) makes me eager for the warmer weather and longer days of Spring. As I’ve reflected on why “presents” happen at Christmas, I realized that the tension of knowing you’re getting a gift, but not knowing exactly what kind of gift it will be,
gives me a small taste of what God’s people felt prior to Jesus being born. You see, they’d been promised a Savior. A gift of salvation. But they didn’t know exactly what it would look like. God gave them prophecies, but many didn’t know exactly how these prophecies would unfold. They were made to wait. To anticipate. To hold fast to the promise. To hope. So, the thing I dislike about Christmas is the very thing that makes it special and profound. Even the cold, dark winter days teach me to celebrate that the Light of the World came into the world to get rid of all darkness forever. It teaches me to anticipate the day when He returns to put an end to all the sin in this world for good. I don’t think I can finish writing an article about Christmas without bringing up the holiday I look forward to year-round: Easter! Easter is my holiday. The bright colors of Spring peeking their heads out from the earth! The sunshine and warm breeze breaking through the cold! The hope-filled festivities! The deviled eggs and casseroles served at Easter brunch! I look forward
to it all year long! Without winter, though, I wouldn’t fully appreciate spring. Without the significance of the events surrounding Christmas, Easter would mean nothing. And Christmas is, most importantly, a celebration of not only that which has come, but that which is coming again. I can deal with claustrophobic coats and the prediabetes temptations to celebrate what God started when that tiny little baby was born to a virgin and placed in a manger. So, while I have certain preferences about the particulars surrounding each holiday, I know that my heart must recognize the significance of both holidays and how they are intertwined. The holidays are both only one day, but their purpose should apply to our lives all year round.
Kristin is a music teacher, speaker, writer, and comic. You can visit her at Kristinweberonline.com
He One thing that I have been asking God to do for the past few years is to show Himself to me in all situations. I love when the Lord gives me a moment to pause after something has occurred, to laugh at how it relates directly to the Gospel. When I was younger, I would hear a lot of people that I looked up to do it. They would talk about cooking dinner or packing boxes or seeing a bunny, something so mundane, and relate it back to a message. I remember talking to God and saying, “I want my faith to look like that.” I want it to invade my life. I want it to be infiltrate everything I do. I want to love You so much, Jesus, that I can’t help but think of you ALL throughout my day.
Now, I wouldn’t say that I have completely arrived. Quite honestly, sometimes I choose not to think about Jesus at all, whether it be out of anger, bitterness, laziness or selfishness. But as I grow older, the more I see Jesus in everything. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to take the time to share a mundane, but completely joy-filled story relating to just that. The other day, my fiancé Alex and I went to a wonderful little place called Taylor’s Orchards. We went to pick blackberries and peaches, because what’s better than fresh fruit in the summertime, amirite? And it wasn’t until later when this cutie little photographer was sending me the pictures of this extravaganza that I realized GIRLZ4CHRIST.ORG
something. Some of those blackberries were ugly. Some had been eaten by insects, some were dried out, some were too small, some were oddly colored. And we were roaming around, picking the ones that were perfection to us, while leaving the other faulty ones behind. If I were to ask myself which berry I wanted to be, I would pick the ones that got placed in that blue container. But if were to be honest with myself, I know that I am the faulty one. I know that I am the berry that the insects have been picking on and is
oddly colored. I am the berry that has experienced life, while also experiencing imperfect conditions, leaving me… well.. flawed. But Jesus picked me. Do you see the beauty in that? Jesus… picked… me. Thank you, Jesus. “Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead” -Jesus Paid it All, composed by Alex Nifong Written by Kaylin Smith
Make memory verse cards out of the below pictures and scripture For we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 HCSB
For we are God’s workmanship, created by Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 HCSB But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 NASB GIRLZ4CHRIST.ORG
SONFLOWERZ Elissa and Becca are more than just sisters. Since they were teens, they have recorded and performed as The Sonflowerz, a musical group committed to inspiring people to live for Christ all over the world. Their albums such as “All Over the World” and “By Faith” are complemented with their devotionals that can be found in their book Made to Shine. As we head into a new year, The Sonflowerz Elissa Leander Tipps and Becca Leander Nicholson gave us some insight on their new goals, new projects, and new steps in life!
What are some goals that the two of you have? Becca: I have a daily goal of reading through the Bible, in a year, but daily step-by-step using the app "Bible In One Year"! Elissa: One of my goals is to learn to cook more healthy, tasty meals. Some of the members in my family are picky eaters, so though it can be difficult I am up for the challenge! What winter activities do you enjoy? Becca: I love to take walks when it's cold outside while sipping a warm drink! Elissa: Same here. My favorite warm drink is hot tea, but I also really enjoy apple cider and hot chocolate during the Holidays! For me, I love Christmas shopping and making gifts for my family. I love to make ornaments using family photos. What can we expect from you in 2018? Becca: I'm having my first baby in March! Elissa: Yeah, it's amazing to be a mom now! That is a huge undertaking and it's growing my heart so much. You can expect new songs to come from all of the new experiences that arise with having a family. We are also writing a new book for teen girls about the awesome identity we have in Christ. That has been so much fun as we dig deeper in the Bible for the truth about who we are. It's been life-changing for me to understand that I am a daughter of the King. How loved we are by Him! What are the upsides and downsides to working with family? Becca: There are tons of upsides. I know my family well, so our communication is strong and we can sense what each other is feeling. That helps so much when it comes to working with a team. Another upside is shared experiences, and seeing things from a similar perspective. Elissa: We definitely love working together! Becca and I have very different personalities. I like to poke fun at how organized she is, because I'm not as good at keeping things straight, but our differences really do make us stronger together. GIRLZ4CHRIST.ORG
Who else is in your family? Becca: My husband, parents, nephews and brother-in-law! Elissa: Our family has been growing! Now I have two little boys under the age of three.
How have your lives changed since starting The Sonflowerz? Has this affected your music?
Becca: Made To Shine - I love to hear the crowd sing this anthem and really take it to heart - you were made to shine His glory.
Becca: We started this band at a young age, and have since seen God do so many things through it. Taking us to places we never thought we'd go, and serving in various ways. Being open to what God has, and stepping out in faith, has made me more courageous and grounded at the same time.
Elissa: Okay, I have to echo Becca because Made To Shine is my favorite song to perform as well. It's the most amazing thing when the crowd joins in.
Elissa: Like Becca said, the band has taken us so many places. El Salvador stands out to me as a favorite. We played our music for kids at Compassion International
What is your favorite song to perform?
Elissa (left) and Becca(right) performing at a concert
schools. As kids danced and sang, my life was impacted by such joy in the midst of poverty. I have been changed by the people we have met on the road- seeing people from all different walks of life that love Jesus! Tell us something about your career that nobody told you about ahead of time. Becca: It takes a lot of work that's not glamorous! Hours of calling up people at venues and introducing myself, long nights of traveling by car or plane, practicing songs again and again. But if you don't practice, you won't have the confidence to do it on a stage. Elissa: Nobody told me that my passion would change again and again as I matured and grew as an artist. I started out wanting to sing songs that I had written, but that evolved into wanting to impact lives, which led me to speaking and even writing a book. My heart expanded in ways I didn't know were possible when I first started out.
What does your writing process look like (for both books and music)? Becca: For our book, we each wrote several chapters and let each other edit those chapters, which really helped refine the thought. It's similar when writing a song. It starts with a lyric or melody, and develops from there as we discuss the theme that's emerging. What do we want to say, above everything else? Are there any particular Bible verses or stories that inspire you? Becca: The book of Esther! Even though the name of God is never mentioned in this book, He is involved in the detail and work to save Israel. In a similar way, sometimes we can wonder where God is working in our lives. What is He doing? Does He see me? Yet, God has a purpose and is always working - sometimes behind the scenes. I love that Esther came from a humble, ordinary upbringing with its own challenges (being an orphan), but she allowed God to use her. It's not about what we can bring to God, but surrendering to Him. Esther was all in. Elissa: I am inspired by 2 Timothy 1:7 â&#x20AC;&#x153;For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and selfdiscipline.â&#x20AC;? Often times I need to remember that God has given us power, love and a sound mind to accomplish His will. I'm not doing this Christian life on my own - I have His Spirit inside of me. When fear arises as I try to do something new, or face an obstacle, I must remember that He is greater. I don't have to shrink back in timidity, but I can be bold.
Integrating Health and Spirit Are you part of a network of healthy SPIES? You don’t even have to go undercover. SPIES stands for different aspects of health: Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Social. Last issue we learned ways to integrate spiritual and physical health. Now, we have 18 smart challenges for 2018. How about integrating your spiritual and intellectual health for the new year? Try adding one or more of these activities. 1. Get into a daily Bible reading habit. 2. Take a class about a Biblical topic. You could find these at a church, at a Christian college, or even online. 3. Practice mindfulness. 4. Write about a spiritual topic that’s important to you. (Share it with us by emailing Girlz4Christ@yahoo.com, and we may include it in a future issue!) 5. Lead a Bible study. 6. Memorize scripture. Challenge yourself to recite a chapter, or even an entire book! 7. Check out what kinds of classes your church offers beyond the main service and youth group.
8. Attend a Christian conference or seminar. 9. Take notes at church. 10. Pray for wisdom. 11. Read a few books from the Christian section of the bookstore or library. 12. Get a mentor. 13. Learn about apologetics: how to answer questions about your belief. 14. Research ministries that you could get involved in. 15. Keep a journal of your written prayers. 16. Study hard, whether you’re learning about math or language or science or art or any other subject. God was the one that put all these into motion, after all! 17. Create an art project that reminds you of a verse, a Bible lesson, or one of God’s promises. 18. Share what you’ve learned with others! Next in SPIES, we’ll explore how to integrate spiritual health with emotional and social health. If you have a tip on how to do this, e-mail Girlz4Christ@yahoo.com
I was 17. To all my friends my life looked perfect. I had everything a girl could ever want, including a Christian family, a boyfriend, and a lakeside backyard. My friends loved that lake.
prayed or sang, and were influences to raise their hands to Him? How come some people had dreams even, or visions, some heard His voice? What had they done to get tangible confirmations or gifts?
Every Sunday during the summer my youth group would head to my house. Dad would grill burgers while we had water fights and swim races. After lunch we had watermelon eating contests until we were all too full to move. Our group got so big dad started making me pitch in to pay for the food. I was the legend during summer and people loved me.
I was bothered that I had never experienced a place where I could honestly tell someone "I felt God," or "I heard God speak," or even "I know this is what He wants me to do.”
My boyfriend was the sweetest guy in church. Harry was tall and dark, with short curls so tight they could fit on a doll. At 19, he was no longer a "youth" member; but that didn't keep him away from us. He always seemed to have a smile playing his lips, but he knew when it was time to be serious and his arms never failed to be open to me when I was scared or troubled. I looked up to him so much, he was never "too mature" for my questions, no matter how simple. He never made me feel dumb or ignorant. I could talk to him about anything... Except this time. From the outside my life was perfect, but on the inside, I was a bowl of chicken noodle soup. You see, I was unaware of my place in God. It was something that had been plaguing me for a while. How do you know what God wants? How come everyone else seemed to know? How come others had "awesome" bible studies or get togethers where they "felt the Holy Spirit." Where they felt that "God was in their very midst.” How come some people cried as they
I was distressed over this. It made me feel like I a bad relationship with Him. I felt like God couldn’t care less about me and didn’t find it important to reveal Himself to me. A seed of bitterness planted itself in me, and I became religious, “If I’m not good enough through grace, I’m going to earn it on top.” I worked so hard to earn that recognition, serving everywhere I could and doing anything I could, but all these “works” just left me stressed and burnt out. Eventually August rolled around, and one evening Harry came to visit. “K.C., you’re so tired.” I looked up from my work with a smile, “Thanks for your concern Harry.” He sat in the chair, fidgeting. “I feel like we’ve grown apart, and I hate it.” He glanced up at the clock, then back at me, “I love you. You’re amazing, beautiful, skilled in so many ways, and the most cheerful girl I have ever met, but something happened to you, and it seems that cheerfulness is forced.” He rose from his chair GIRLZ4CHRIST.ORG
and knelt before me. He took my hands into his own. “Tell me what’s on your heart dearest. Please, I want to help you.”
“That’s what I’m saying. You pulled back from me. How can we continue this relationship when you hardly have time to talk to me?”
“It’s nothing.” I said, a tad irritated.
“I’m just trying to have a ministry.” I shot back, putting aside my work. He was too distracting. “I know, and I admire you for it! You’ve put your whole self into it this last year. But honey, if we have a future you need to let me in. We are called to have a ministry together.”
This was not the first time he tried to prompt me to talk to him, but I felt it a personal matter. With a sigh of resignation, he released my hands and I resumed my work. “I got my letter.” For once I looked up at him. “Your letter?” “The one from the college.” My hands stilled, “College?” “The Bible College in California, I told you about it, didn’t you hear?” “I must not have, what did the letter say?” “I got a scholarship.” The world came crashing down. Cries of denial and rejection rose to my tongue, but none were uttered. A thousand of thoughts filled my mind as I processed this information. Only a small, horse whispered escaped my lips, “College?” He wasn’t going to wait forever. In fact, he had waited long enough. Bible College was not nicknamed Bridal College for nothing. I only knew two or three people who had come back without a partner.
“That beats the purpose.” I muttered under my breath. “What’d you say?” “I said, ‘That beats the purpose.’” I snapped. Standing up, I began to clean, trying to keep my feelings in check. The red in my face made it hard. “What purpose?” “THE purpose Harry,” I cried finally, “I want to feel something, hear something. I want to know!” Tears began to fall and I gave up. “It’s hopeless, I’m hopeless. Why am I not good enough? A year! I had done everything possible for a year and still nothing. WHY hadn’t God showed Himself to me?” If Harry had been anyone else, my emotions would have driven him crazy and he would have retreated until I was logical again. But being himself, he did the opposite. With open arms he allowed me to weep until I felt able to speak. “Why are you going.” I whispered into his shirt, now damp with my tears.
“But you… and me... What about...” “The opportunity. Church history, hermeneutics. I’ll meet so many amazing teachers and I’ll learn so much. This is an GIRLZ4CHRIST.ORG
opportunity to get to know the Lord like I never could be able to otherwise.” He exhaled as though a great burden lay on his heart. “And, I know this is where God has me to go next.” Tears flooded my eyes with a fresh flow. “How?” I choked, “How come you know? How come I never know?”
“How did you do that?” I was slightly confused at this point, but was enjoyed recalling our story. “I had you over with the youth group as much as possible.” “What did you find out?” “You were awesome and you were available.”
“What do you mean?” He asked, concern lining his voice. “Why does everyone know what they need to do? Why do they know Him, feel Him, hear Him, experience Him? When I don’t get anything. I’ve been working so hard to earn it. So hard to be worthy of something. I can never earn salvation, I know, Jesus did that for me. But I thought He also died so we could know Him. How come I don’t know Him? How come I’m so empty? I don’t feel anything. I’m so tired Harry, I’m just so tired.” A few minutes passed in silence as I regained some of my wits. “K.C. Where did we meet?” This was not a question for himself, he knew where. “At church. When your family moved from Wisconsin.” A sweet warmth filled me as I remembered that day years ago. “Laurel invited you to the lake. You helped dad make burgers and I couldn’t keep my eyes off you.” “What happened after that?” “I tried to get to know you more, to see if you were even an option.”
“What did you do after that?” I got it. He wanted me to retell the whole story, so I would. “I didn’t, you did. You asked dad if we could pursue a relationship. He said yes. After that we spent a lot of time together. We talked about everything under the sun and got to know each other really well.” “Don’t you see? How we got to know each other? We spent time together. We talked. I invited you. You invited me.” “And?” “And,” he pulled back to see my face, “Why do you think God is any different? Like me, He invites you to talk to Him. He wants to spend time with you. He wants you to read His love letter to you.” I watched him, mystified. “What if you started to knit me socks? What if you donated $1000 to India in my name? What if you went to every event I ever hosted, but we never talked, would you know me? Would I know you?” “No..”
“K.C. He wants to know you. He’s not holding Himself at a distance from you. He’s holding His hand, He’s reaching out to you. He loves you. For goodness sake, He DIED for you!” Emotion was written all over his face as he spoke. He was sensitive to my feelings, and he understood my distress. “But you’re looking for something that God is not. He’s not physical. You won’t ‘feel’ Him. You won’t hear Him. He’s beyond that. Listen to Him with your heart. That’s where He’s speaking. “Love is not a feeling. You can feel pitiful, but you can still love. And guess what? He is Love. You will not feel Him, and that’s not bad. It doesn’t prove anything. He loves you the same way He loves everyone else. Trust me, that love is nothing to frown at. “Get to know God. As you do you will learn more about His point of view, where He is and how to find Him. And you will learn what His will is.” I tried to process this. Of course, this was not the first time I’ve heard these things, but I could say I’d never heard them in this light before.
“It all comes from knowing Him. You will know His will, and trusting Him, you will be led right where you need to be. “I know I’m called to go to Bible College because of the way it has all played out. I’ve been praying about it so much. God has closed door after door except this one. Bible College is wide open, and besides that admission is paid.” Once again, he looked into my eyes. I could see the honesty in his words.
“K.C. I love you, and if you let me I will always love you, but the desire of my heart is to go. And God has given it to me.” “Then you should go.” I sighed. As I lay my head to his chest and listened to his heartbeat I felt full. I felt happy. I can now define it as Peace. Peace that passes all understanding. Now I knew Harry was meant to go. I’m 22 now. Harry is back and we’re married, with a boy named Daniel. When I said “I do” a year ago, I had changed so much since that day Harry talked to me. I also understand that he went to college not only for himself, but God wanted some time with me. Those two years were spent getting to know the One I now love beyond words. There was no longer any comparison to others and no expectations. Each day, as I opened my Bible for yet another study, I came as an empty sinner, hungry to be filled by her Savior. Sure, not every single study reading was thrilling. There was the time I went through Ezekiel, but even that was pretty good. I began a prayer list and not only prayed for myself, but for close friends as well as strangers. I haven’t experienced any crazy revelations, or felt His presence in the room with me, but I know He’s always there. Maybe you think “I don’t truly know Him,” but I say I simply believe. Inspired by “Smell The Color 9” ~Chris Rice Libby May, Geoturtle.com
WHAT DID THE PROCESS OF CREATING THIS BOOK LOOK LIKE?
Creating this book was a labor of love! At first, I made a list of all the questions I had been asked by students over the years and mistakes I saw them make. From there, I separated them into topics and sections. After I had an outline, I made myself write every day. The initial draft was finished in April and I edited it over and over until mid-August. As far as printing an actual book, I pitched the idea and sent a few samples to a Christian publisher. They loved the idea, but didn't have room in their editorial calendar for 2017. I had a passion to get the book published, so I set out to figure out how to self-publish. After hours of internet searching, I found a good site to selfpublish on and went from there. WHAT PIECE OF DATING ADVICE PLAYED OUT IN YOUR OWN LIFE THAT LED TO MARRIAGE?
There are two main pieces of dating advice that helped in leading to my marriage. The first, and I discuss this in the book, is having a relationship with God. He will lead every relationship you have (romantic or not). The second is keeping in mind your future goals and sharpening the skills God has given you. During my dating years, my
relationship with God was my number one priority (and still is), and I kept focus on figuring out what He had for me; this kept me from being swayed no matter what dating relationship came along. Not giving myself to every dating relationship and staying focused on the call God had on my life helped me not get caught up in the emotional flurry that comes along with new dating relationships. WHEN YOU WERE A YOUNG WOMAN, HOW DID YOU KNOW WHEN YOU WERE READY TO DATE?
Two major factors that attributed to me feeling ready to date was the fact that my relationship with God was #1 in my life. The second was that I BELIEVED God's plan for relationships and marriage was the best. I had seen my classmates’ devastation when a romantic relationship involving sex ended. I knew the statistics about STDs and unwanted pregnancies. I realized that despite how much I may have thought a relationship would last, that having sex was for marriage only and stood firm in that truth. I see so many Christian girls that don't really believe God's way is best, and that always leads to compromise and regret. I state repeatedly in the book that not following God's plan comes at a cost and it was a price I wasn't going to pay. I hope any girl that reads the book finds it encouraging and that they realize that God's way really is the best.
THE RADICAL SIDE OF LOVE We’ve talked about Radical God Talk before. Now there’s a new book in the God Talk series. While Valentine’s Day reminds us of the romantic side of love, this book explores The Radical Side of Love. In fact, that’s what it’s titled! This is a different kind of devotional. On one page, you may find a passage from the Bible. On another, you’ll find a poem. On the next, you could pour your heart out in the blank spaces. If you’d like to read The Radical Side of Love or check out any other God Talk merch, check out RadicalGod.com.