on the family
Girl Talk— Christian Artists Sound off
Calcium 5 Tips to
Singing of Hope
Blanca Reyes Tells Her Story
Moo Juice Goes Legit Five tips for dressing up your milk
by Christine Venzon
Does drinking milk have the same ranking in your book as dusting the miniblinds? If so, you’re not alone! Fewer than one in five teens receives the suggested three servings of dairy foods a day. Determine to change your thinking about milk. It’s a drink that can be interesting, fun and even . . . cool! Look what you can do with the stuff: Color your world. Ever get the urge to play with your food but feel too grown up to make gravy smiles in your mashed potatoes? A plain glass of milk and a set of food colors might be the answer. Make an artistic statement: Show the world you’re in a blue mood or that you feel pretty in pink. If you have an eye for design, try color-coordinating milk with the rest of the meal.
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Flavor of the month. Create your own line of international flavors. Explore the baking aisle for extracts and flavorings. Add one-fourth teaspoon of vanilla, almond, maple, strawberry, caramel or root beer. A sprinkle of instant coffee powder makes milk a more adult beverage (especially if drunk from a travel mug on the way to school). Hot and spicy. Cocoa goes Caribbean with a sprinkle of allspice, while nutmeg brings a touch of Thai. If mint’s your thing, add a few drops of mint extract. Whip up a frenzy. Why drink milk when you can have a frappe? In a blender, combine equal parts milk and water with a few ice cubes. Add instant cocoa powder, malt powder or strawberry drink mix to taste. Then let ’er rip until thick and frothy. Replace the water with fresh fruit for a low-fat smoothie.
Let ’em eat cereal. The cereal aisle has exploded with all kinds of intriguing, tasty choices. A check of the Nutrition Facts panel on the box can weed out the sugar mills. For instance, one serving of plain oat rings, such as Cheerios, has a single gram of sugar. Those rainbow-hued, fruitflavored rings have about 12 grams; that’s the equivalent of three teaspoons. Same deal with plain and sugarfrosted cornflakes. If you’re not ready to take the health food route all the way, get a plain cereal and sprinkle with sugar to taste. You’re still likely to use less than three spoonfuls. Drink It! The bottom line is, drinking milk is something nice you can do for yourself. Hey, it’s better for you than a new CD or another pair of shoes. And drinking milk will have a more long-lasting affect. f Christine Venzon lives and drinks milk in Eunice, La. 13
Group 1 Crew singer Blanca Reyes talks about surviving sexual abuse and life with the band.
Just Hop 16
briomag.com â€˘ april 2007
lanca Reyes has a message to share: Dream big. She and the other members of Group 1 Crew (Manwell Reyes and Pablo Villatoro) want you to know that no matter where you’ve come from or what kind of past you’ve had, you can accomplish your goals. Blanca is living proof of that. She grew up in a broken home and suffered sexual abuse, but it’s only made this 21-year-old and her message stronger. “When you’re stuck in the world or you’ve gone through so much, you don’t get that ability to dream big and to think that you can make it,” she says. “Our band came from a place just like our listeners’; the only difference is that we have a microphone now, and we’re blessed to get to speak to them.”
Family History Blanca grew up with her mother and brother. She never saw her father or had a relationship with him until she was older. In fact, it was her father who became the first Christian in her family. He invited Blanca to a play at a local church, where Blanca felt God speak to her, telling her she needed to use her voice for Him. “I made the decision, and I’ve never looked back!” Blanca says. “I just kept going forward and it’s really changing my family now when they see the benefits that I’m reaping because of my faithfulness with God.”
pe briomag.com • april 2007
by Ashley Boyer
Blanca says by living out her beliefs, her mom is able to see God through her. “My mom, she has faith, and seeing her daughter really living her life to the fullest and being happy speaks volumes about the God I serve,” she says. “I pray for my family all the time, and I know that God is gonna do amazing things.” Though Blanca says she was never a bad child and never got into drugs or alcohol, she was really lonely. “Coming from a nonChristian home, I dealt with problems on my own. A big thing in my family was never dealing with problems. Everything was always pushed aside and hidden, so it would just build up inside of me, and it wasn’t until I got saved that I really let all those things go and was able to move on and give God my all,” she says. Although she’s now a member of Group 1 Crew, Blanca was close to a record deal when she was 14. She’d been working on a demo tape and had a meeting scheduled with the president of a record label in Florida. The meeting was scheduled for Sept. 11, 2001, and when the World Trade Centers fell, the meeting was cancelled. Blanca never heard back from the label. “[It] was a good thing because I wasn’t saved at the time,” she says. “I’m glad everything kind of moved along in God’s direction rather than that direction.” Fast-forward a few years. Blanca has become a Christian and is a junior in high school. She starts attending a Bible study for musicians, where she meets the other members of Group 1 Crew. Blanca starts per-
forming with the guys, and they have her sing on their albums. “I stuck around and became part of the group,” she says.
The Best Lesson Now that she has a platform through music to speak to girls her own age, Blanca says she’s
blessed to share her heart. Part of her story is the forgiveness that she’s learned through sexual abuse from a family member in her past. Blanca says that because she didn’t grow up in a Christian family, she felt very alone and didn’t have anyone to talk to about the abuse. She blamed herself for what had happened, telling herself that the abuse was OK. Once she became a Christian, Blanca learned how to be set free from the pain of her abuse. “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is how to forgive people and not have a hard heart,” she says. But learning to forgive hasn’t been an easy lesson for her. She says it’s easy to get caught up in how bad life is and start blaming people for the pain they’ve caused, especially when it comes to abuse. “But when you really decide to forgive and give it to God, you’ll experience the best freedom in the world,” she says. “Being able to forgive has been the hardest but also the best les-
Open Doors Blanca has been singing professionally since she was 14 but says God surprised her when He opened the door to join Group 1 Crew. “I’m at a place where God is in complete control. Not only am I at the place with my music that I’ve always wanted to be, but I know it’s not because of what I’ve done; it’s because of the One who has opened the door for me,” Blanca explains.
Blanca says she loves spring! “Being able to put on a T-shirt and flip-flops and go outside—I just love that!” she says. A few of her other favorites include cheesecake with strawberries, the book of Esther in the Bible, Proverbs 31:30, shopping in New York City and listening to Israel Houghton and the New Breed’s Another Level worship album.
She describes Group 1 Crew’s sound as soulful hip-hop. “It has the hip-hop element because of the guys and the rapping, but there’s so much soul and life in it,” she says. One of Blanca’s favorite songs on the album is “Can’t Go On.” She says the lyrics talk about being heavy-burdened but knowing God can help. “You realize that without Him you can’t go on, and because He’s there you’re able to go through so much. [The song] is asking God to make us more like Him.” Blanca says that being the only girl in the band has its perks. She gets the front seat when the band travels as well as her own hotel room. The guys are always looking out for her, but Blanca admits she misses girl talk! “Even though those are my two buddies,” she explains, “it’s just not the same as having a girl on the road with me, so it’s lonely sometimes.” Blanca has a close relationship with her mom, so she calls her when she needs a listening ear. She also has a group of girl friends whom she calls to discuss struggles and be held accountable. During the past few months Group 1 Crew has been busy recording their album, performing and filming a music video in New York City. “We had a blast, and the video looks like it’s gonna come out awesome!” Blanca says. Good thing she stuck around! f
son I’ve ever learned.” How did she finally deal with her abuse and start the forgiveness process? Blanca says it was from talking with her pastor. He was able to see the situation clearly and offer wise advice. Sexual abuse is a serious matter and often requires confronting the problem and then getting professional help. It’s important to remember that the only way to heal from sexual abuse it to address it by talking with a parent or trusted adult. These individuals will also know what steps need to be taken to ensure that the perpetrator is called into account for his actions. Blanca’s advice to girls who are dealing with sexual abuse is to know it’s not their fault. “It’s not right, God does not intend that for you, it’s not God trying to teach you a lesson, it’s none of that. Totally depend on God, and He is there—you’re never alone!”
Blanca briomag.com • april 2007
Not Just a
It’s time to talk about porn. by Rachel A. V. Zoller
briomag.com • april 2007
My life changed forever when I was 21. I’d been curious for years to see what the big deal was about pornography. One afternoon in my empty apartment, I decided to just look around the Internet. After all, I told myself, this is something guys struggle with, so it’s not like I’ll get hooked or anything. The instant that first image popped up, I knew I was addicted. And I was a Christian.
Behind the Scenes I grew up in a Christ-centered home and gave my life to Jesus when I was 3 or 4. I memorized a lot of Scripture, read my Bible and talked with God about everything. Well, almost everything. The summer I turned 3, I was molested by a couple I trusted. They made it seem that it was my fault and that I’d get in trouble if I told anyone. I felt dirty and guilty but decided to push the memories as far away as possible. But they kept coming back. The shame I felt only fueled my feeling of worthlessness before God. Although I turned to Him for many things in my life, I found I couldn’t approach Him with this secret. It felt unforgivable to me, and I was afraid to be honest with God or anyone else about this. When middle school hit, my identity in Christ crumbled under the weight of my guilt. So I began cutting, thinking it was fine to “cope” that way. For the next 10 years, I continued to “cope” rather than crying out to God. Will I Ever Overcome? That first day I surfed for porn, I knew I shouldn’t do it again. I hated what I did and how I had misused God’s gift of sexuality. But I went back. I kept returning to those sites more and more frequently and even began planning my day around having an online encounter. And as time passed, I searched for harder material to get the same rush. I was consumed by guilt but felt powerless to stop. Two years into my addiction, I got the courage to confess my sin to my roommate, Hilda. I despised being bound by guilt from harboring this secret sin, and I decided that I was willing to be exposed in shame if that’s what it took to free me
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from pornography. Hilda spent hours talking with me about my struggles and praying for me. She began to regularly ask where I’d been online. It was so difficult being honest with her, and it still took another two years—and the involvement of a Christian counselor—before I was completely free from porn. Sound Familiar? What about you? Brio & Beyond receives numerous letters and e-mails from teen girls who are caught in pornography and express feelings of shame and loneliness. They share their fear that they’re a freak for having gotten addicted to something that “only guys struggle with.” You’re not alone! No matter how you got into pornography, you’re not the only girl stumbling. And you don’t have to keep stumbling! If you’re ready to get out of porn, talk to a trusted Christian woman. Be honest about your struggles and don’t make light of your involvement with pornography. Ask her to pray with you as you confess this area of your life to God. If you don’t think you can tell her yourself what you’re going through, show her this article and ask her to get back with you about it. Secrecy will only make it harder to break this addiction. While it’s not necessary to tell everyone about your sins, it is important to find the support of Christian females who can hold you accountable and help you find a Christian counselor who deals with intimacy disorders. And it’s vital that you work with a therapist. Christian counselor Joann Condie, who specializes in treating people with these kinds of struggles, explained in a Focus on the Family broadcast that simply stopping the behavior is a kind of “sin-management approach.” It manages the problem; it doesn’t get rid of it. Joann explains that it’s necessary “to address the thinking that’s behind the behavior. And then underneath that thinking, there are damaged emotions. If those are ignored and neglected, only part of the battle is done. And beneath all of that is a strong spiritual component that has to be addressed as well.”
If you need to find a counselor in your area, call Focus on the Family at (719) 531-3400 for a referral. Need to Clean House? Next, get rid of your access to porn! Put your computer in a public place, add filters or accountability software and limit your use of the computer to when others are around. Avoid music, movies, books, magazines and TV shows that cause you to stumble. Decide in your heart to “set before [your] eyes no vile thing” (Psalm 101:3), and do whatever it takes to keep your eyes and thoughts pure. For me, it meant eliminating Internet access, getting rid of the TV and even averting my eyes from the magazines displayed in grocery checkout lanes. There may be different adjustments you will need to take, but refuse to let your guard down! Looking back, I can see that I was convinced by Satan’s lies that pornography was the best that sexuality had to offer. As I worked with a Christian counselor, I began to understand the truth God gave us through the Bible and to allow His Word to heal me. Am I still tempted? Yes, but I also know that temptation isn’t sin. And as I walk in the truth and refuse to let secrecy reign in any area of my life, God is glorified. I’m not ashamed any longer of my years of sin. They’re proof of God’s loving kindness and that “he is mighty to save” (Zephaniah 3:17). I pray that God will transform you as you turn your secrets over to Him. God isn’t into sin management. He doesn’t simply want to clean up your sin; He wants to remove it! Will you surrender all the secrets of your life to Him right now? r Rachel A. V. Zoller is a piano teacher who has three doglike cats. She and her husband are youth leaders and live in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Beauty What is
Anyway? by Kimberly Rae Thigpen
Living Above the Lies part three of a four-part series 23
f all the guys, he’s the cutest. Every girl you know wishes he’d notice her. To get him to like you, you have to be the best-looking girl around. So what do you do? If you live in Bangladesh, you head for a cooking fire, find some coal and color all your teeth black. Um . . . what was that? One thing is the same all around the world: Girls want to be pretty. They just go about it different ways in different places. How do you define the word beautiful? Most of the girls in the world have been told what beautiful is. For some, beautiful is stretching your earlobes down to your shoulders. For others, it means slicing their faces or backs and then rubbing salt into the cuts so they bubble into designs. In some parts of Asia, girls smear bleach creams on their faces to make them look whiter. In Thailand, women stack gold rings around their necks more and more until their shoulders have squished down and their heads are stretched high above their bodies. Get this: A certain African group starts their beauty regime around age 20. First, they make a cut in the lower lip so that the lip can be pulled away from the
mouth enough to fit a little round clay piece in the hole. In time, the hole gets stretched, and bigger pieces of clay can be put in. I saw a picture of a girl biting into a piece of toast. But it wasn’t toast. It was a huge clay piece stretching her lower lip out! Without the piece in, her lower lip hangs down to the bottom of
her chin. She’s the most beautiful girl in her village. Strangely Pretty Unbelievable, isn’t it? You may be thinking, These people are crazy! Who would go through all that junk just to be pretty to her peers? It’s true that girls around the world do some pretty strange and even harmful stuff just to be beautiful. But let’s not say they’re crazy until we’ve looked at ourselves first. How many Americans have gotten skin cancer from toasting themselves to a crisp on the beach? How many women have
died from plastic surgery, being cut to change something they didn’t like about themselves? Think of it a different way. Imagine you’re a foreigner, and you want to know how to be beautiful in America. What would you find out? Paint your face with foundation until it’s all the same, even color. Then paint colors on top of that. If your eyelashes or fingernails aren’t long enough, you can buy fake ones to glue on yourself. If your figure is too big, you can buy underwear that will squish you in until you can hardly breathe. If you’re too small, you can buy a fake chest built into your bra. If you’re too pale, you can spray paint yourself to be darker. If you don’t like your hair, you can paint it, too! Change your eye color with contacts. Straighten your teeth by wiring them together. Fake face. Fake hair. Fake body. Fake smile. Fake anything you want; that’s how to be beautiful. briomag.com • april 2007
Attract Attention 1. Know who you are and be you. Don’t always fly from trend to trend, changing yourself to match whatever’s in. What style fits you? 2. Know whom you belong to. Are you following the crowd’s definition of what it takes to be beautiful or God’s? 3. Know your worth. Study Psalm 139. Confidence gives you a beautiful glow! 4. Know how much is enough. Natural is in. Caked-on is out. 5. Know the mystery of modesty. Challenges are attractive to guys. If you’re showing it all, you’re advertising your body, not accentuating your beauty.
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beautiful girl risked her life to save her people (Esther 4:11-16). Thousands of years later, way longer than anyone can remember her face, people still know about Esther’s beauty. Esther was a living example of Proverbs 31:30.
Kimberly Rae Thigpen from Douglasville, Ga., enjoys sampling weird foods in foreign countries.
There’s nothing wrong with making the effort to be beautiful in your culture. (Well, I don’t know about stretching your neck out or faking your chest size.) But don’t believe the world’s lie that that’s who you are. Be beautiful. But don’t make the “beautiful” of your culture what it’s all about. Be God’s definition of beautiful! It’s a lot easier than rubbing coal dust on your teeth. l
“Charm is deceptive, (Don’t trust popularity too much.) and beauty is fleeting; (If your worth is in your looks, your worth won’t last.) but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Girls who are sold out for God and His Word are truly beautiful!)
Facing Lies The world is lying to you about what is beautiful. The world is telling you to not accept yourself as God made you to be. The world says you can’t be beautiful if you’re just you. You can’t be pretty until you look like Barbie, like the girls on TV, like a model. Well, here’s the truth: Barbie is plastic, the girls on TV are going to get wrinkles and flabby thighs some day and the photos of models are PhotoShopped. When someone asked Cindy Crawford once what she thought about all the women who wished they could look like her, she responded that she wished she looked like Cindy Crawford! The biggest truth of all: You can be beautiful. And you can do it without plastic, without going broke and without spray paint. There’s a culture that has a definition of beauty different from any you’ll find
around you. It’s God’s culture, and you’ll find it in the Bible. God has a definition of beauty that will make a girl pretty in every culture in the world. It’s a beauty that radiates from the inside out, and it delights the eyes of God and the lives of the people it touches. Let’s look at one of the beautiful women in the Bible: Esther. The Bible says Esther did have beautiful looks, but she had some serious competition for the crown. What was it about her that was different, a difference that caught the king’s eye? Some unique things about Esther that made her beauty stand out: 1. She loved God. 2. She took advice from older people she trusted (Esther 2:20). 3. She wasn’t all about her looks. When all the other girls were going for the flashiest, most attention-getting clothes and jewelry, Esther shocked people by going for a simple, classic look (Esther 2:15). 4. She was smart. She thought about more than just the latest fashions. 5. She cared more about doing what was right than about being attractive and liked—or even being alive! This
Um . . . what was that? It’s pretty easy to see how strange other people’s ideas are but hard to see the ones we read about in magazines all the time. Am I saying trying to be beautiful in your culture is a sin? No. Am I saying it can be a sin? Yes.
Let’s give some serious thought to the Resurrection.
What If? Have you ever wondered how life would be different if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? If the first thing that comes to your mind is There’d be no spring break or chocolate bunnies, think again. The Bible actually talks about the “what if ’s” regarding the Resurrection. First Corinthians 15:13-19 tells us that if Christ wasn’t resurrected, everything we do is in vain.
A Bleak Future
If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we’d have no hope of eternal life with Him. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, our faith would be useless, and there would be no forgiveness for our sins. Just think: We’d have no reason to keep going to church or reading the Bible. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then all the Christian martyrs over the last 2,000 years died for a lie. If Jesus hasn’t conquered death, we’re all in big trouble. This means we’re all destined for an eternity in hell. Think about the millions of believers who have died trusting Jesus as their Savior. If Jesus hasn’t risen, every single one of them has perished. If in fact Jesus hasn’t risen from the dead, we’re a miserable people, because we have no promise of being raised from the dead ourselves.
Think About It
The resurrection of Jesus means that God the Father gave His approval to the claims and the works of Jesus. These claims would have been blasphemous if Jesus weren’t truly the Son of God. But the Resurrection authenticates Jesus and His teaching. The empty tomb should assure us forever that all the things Jesus taught were true. If Christ hasn’t risen from the dead, He wouldn’t be alive now, and we’d have no one to represent us before God.
briomag.com • april 2007
by Steve Russo
Ultimately, there would be no living person to live within us and give us power. Jesus’ resurrection guarantees both His promise to us and His authority to make that promise when He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
Count on It Your life can have meaning, your sins can be forgiven and you can live forever with Christ, because He’s alive! Have you accepted His resurrection as fact? Is He your Savior? He wants to be! In fact, you can seek forgiveness for your sins right now. Dear Jesus: I admit I’m a sinner. Will You forgive me for my sins? I want to place my trust in You. I believe You died for me, and I also believe You conquered death and are alive right now. I want to live for You, Jesus. Thank You for Your gift of eternal life. In Your name I pray, Amen
Grow On! If you prayed that prayer, you’ll want to talk with your pastor about being baptized and becoming discipled so you can grow deeper in your faith. Tell another Christian that you’re part of God’s family now, and ask him or her to pray for you. f Steve Russo is an internationally known speaker, author, drummer and host of the daily radio program Real Answers. He speaks to thousands of teens each year in school assemblies, churches and events.