By Lynn Cowell
Many of us are experiencing it, but in so many different ways.
Some are preparing their lessons to homeschool. Others are shopping for the supplies on the public school list. The private school is hosting their ice cream social. And a few of you like me are dorm shopping and moving your kids to their school.
No matter what back-to-school looks like, we can all do one thing to help our kids prepare for their school days.
Teach them to start their day right.
When I stopped homeschooling my kids (my son was a middle schooler and my daughters in elementary), my heart started to ache because I no longer had the free time to teach them Jesus’ truths like I once did. For a least a year I simmered, thinking that was just the way it was.
Then I got the idea for what I called “Breakfast and the Bible”. I had my kids all come to breakfast at the same time, even though they left for school at different times. It only lasted 10 minutes, but these moments together allowed us to connect with each other and with Jesus before the rush of the day. When they were really small, I read them devotions. When my girls were in middle and high school, I wrote “Devotions for a Revolutionary Year” for us to use.
This school year, my kids will begin their day at three different colleges, but I am still encouraging them to start their day in God’s word using Proverbs 31 Ministries First5 app. This new app is actually an alarm clock on their phones. All they need to do is set their alarms each day in the app. Then, when their phone goes off in the morning, there is God’s word. First thing. They can simply lay in bed for a couple of minutes and start their day with Jesus in His Word.
Although I have taught my kids the power of opening God’s word for themselves each and every day, we all know this is a hard disciple to create. With the First 5 app, it couldn’t be any easier.
Even better, we can talk about the content together because we can each be reading the same thing each day.
Give it a try – Breakfast & the Bible. Gather your tribe a few minutes earlier than last school year or share the app together. It’s a beautiful way to grow closer to God and closer to each other!
2014 Summer Reading List for Tween & Teen Girls
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series – Douglas Adams
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle – Avi
Peter and the Starcatchers series – Dave Barry
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Diary of a Teenage Girl series – Melody Carlson
Forget the Corsage: Life Starts Now – Ginger Ciminello
His Revolutionary Love – Lynn Cowell
James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dahl
Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption – Katie J. Davis
God Girl: Becoming the Woman You’re Meant to Be – Hayley DiMarco
Perfectly Unique: Praising God from Head to Foot – Annie F. Downs
Speak Love: Making Your Words Matter – Annie F. Downs
Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships – Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh
Graceful (For Young Women): Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life – Emily P. Freeman
Stardust – Neil Gaiman
I, Coriander – Sally Gardner
Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell
Christy Miller series – Robin Jones Gunn
Katie Weldon series – Robin Jones Gunn
Redwall series – Brian Jacques
Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – and Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes – Jennifer Dukes Lee
The Mandie series – Lois Gladys Leppard
Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
It’s Not About Me Teen Edition – Max Lucado
Anne of Green Gables series – L.M. Montgomery
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH – Robert C. O’Brien
Wonder – R. J. Palacio
Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson
The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin
Holes – Louis Sachar
Dinner with the Smileys: One Military Family, One Year of Heroes, and Lessons for a Lifetime – Sarah Smiley
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
Lord of the Rings series – J.R.R. Tolkien
Flipped – Windelen Van Draanen
The Little House series – Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls – Valorie Schaefer
The Care and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls – Cara Natterson
click on the link below for a printable list:
2014 Summer Reading List for Tween & Teen Girls
By Lynn Cowell
My heart breaks as I watch my girls struggle. Navigating the waters of school, some days the storms of rejection slam against their hearts.
Often, I feel like I’m in the tsunami with them. Memories of my own turbulent teen years are not far gone, painful remembrances come to the surface: wanting the crowd’s acceptance, wishing for a boy’s affection.
Yet my girls’ struggles also bring thankfulness to my heart. Thankfulness for amazing friends God sent to teach me His truth. I remember a woman who helped me discover no man, be it a dad, boyfriend or even a husband one day, could fill the love-gap in my heart. Only Jesus can fill what He created.
I’m thankful God has placed me here, in my daughters’ lives, to share with them this same truth. When Jesus showed me He was the only one who can fill the emptiness of my heart, He didn’t just give that truth for me! Jesus gave me this truth so I can pass His radical love on to other moms, others girls and my kids and hopefully grandkids too!
What is one truth God has revealed to you which you can pass on to your children, your children’s children or young people in your world? You don’t have to know the whole Bible. Just one thing. He died for you? He loves you no matter what?
God has given you treasures from His Word, glimpses into His heart. He has entrusted those to you not just for your benefit, but also for the benefit of your family and those in your sphere of influence. No matter how much or how little you may know.
Have you begun to understand God’s forgiveness? Teach your child the process of working through a grudge. Have you experienced the Lord’s healing? Come alongside those in your life as they mend. Has God lifted your spirits? Share that with another who’s in despair.
Deuteronomy 4:9 tells us “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
We have opportunity and influence in the lives of our children and others. Let’s not take for granted all the Lord has done in our lives. Instead, let’s be intentional to pass on the good things the Lord has accomplished so our children will be encouraged to trust Him for the things to come in their lives.
Pray this prayer asking the Lord for His help:
Dear Lord, help me be intentional today to share with my children and those in my life all of the truth You have set to work in my life. Let me take advantage of the message You have given me and pass Your Word on to the next generation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
In the next 24 hours, look for an opportunity to share with your child, or someone you love, one truth the Lord has made real in your life. When you connect a teaching to a story, it helps stick in the heart of your listener!
Looking for a way you can connect to your girl and learn about God’s radical love together? His Revolutionary Love: Jesus’ Radical Pursuit of You by Lynn Cowell is for girls ages 13-18. It is a great study for moms and girls to bond over!
You can intentionally share God’s truth with a young woman each day when you give her a copy of Devotions for a Revolutionary Year.
Join us at Whatever Girls Live
By Lynn Cowell
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV)
“You expect her to have the faith of a 44 year old when she’s only 14!”
Ouch. My husband hit the nail on the head. I want our children to grasp hold of our faith, yet it is hard to know how to do this in a way they can receive. I often make the mistake of wanting our kids to understand and act on my faith like I do but, like my husband reminded me, they’re only teenagers.
Life is busy and time seems short. I want to make the most of the precious moments I have as a mom, yet not preach every time I open my mouth.
So how can we pour truth into our children’s hearts in a gentle flow and not like a fire hose? God’s Word gives the answer: weave His truths into everyday life when sitting, walking, laying down and getting up. Any moment can become a teachable moment. Here are some ideas that work for me:
Share what God’s doing in your own life
One of my favorite things to do is sit with my girls and listen about their day. Even better is when we catch up over a special treat. Last Friday we made it a milkshake from our favorite restaurant.
When I give my children my undivided attention to hear about their day, it opens a door to talk about mine. I try to specifically tell what God is doing in my life or teaching me. In this way, I’m not really teaching but sharing, which seems to go over well!
Read God’s Word together
Each morning as my girls eat breakfast, I read to them from a daily devotional book. This works great since I have a captive audience!
Lead a small group with their friends
Every other Wednesday, Madi and five of her sophomore girlfriends come over for a Bible study together. This is a wonderful way to teach my daughter and those in her life about Jesus’ crazy love for them, as well as being in touch with the ins and outs of teen life.
“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” God’s wisdom is so perfect for us when it comes to investing His truth into our kid’s lives. When sharing God’s Word with our family, let’s capture the everyday moments and look for creative ways to make each one a teachable one.
Dear Lord, open my eyes to see opportunities that are right before me each day to share Your truth. I want this overflow to become a natural part of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Visit Lynn’s blog for a free resource on starting important conversations. Just click on “freebies”!
Click here for your free leadership guide to His Revolutionary Love and well as other free resources. Starting a group might be just the thing to put a smile on your face as well as your girl’s.
By Lynn Cowell
Do You Hear Him?
With a very busy day ahead of me, a dark cloud of stress hung overhead. Having written my “to-do” list, I asked the Holy Spirit to help me hear His timeline so I could get it all done!
Tackling number one, I felt a nudge on my heart, “Start with worshipping Me.” I don’t really have time for that, Lord! But peace came as I made a decision to start the day right.
Setting my list aside, I turned on worship music in my living room. As I listened to scriptures woven throughout the lyrics, I saw again how His Word was exactly what I needed to start my day.
This year, I am purposing to listen. Dictionary.com defines listen as: to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing.
To listen, I have to be focused on hearing, purposefully and selectively, because what I hear has the power to change to me.
Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (ESV)
When I hear God’s Word, set to music or taught, my faith grows. I need, then, to put myself in a place where I can hear (not just read silently) God’s Word. I’ve begun to look for new ways to hear Scripture.
One of those ways is reading the Bible out loud. This has a few great benefits. I stay awake (a serious consideration when it’s early in the morning or late at night!). Side note: the other day my daughter asked me if I shouldn’t start praying with my eyes oopen because I tend to fall asleep…even on my knees!) When reading God’s word outloud, anyone who hears me also gets to hear God’s Word! And my faith is built.
When little children first learn how to read, what does their teacher make them do? Read out loud. Why? Hearing builds comprehension; it helps us understand the material better.
The same is true when it comes to reading God’s Word. “Faith comes by hearing.” Reading out loud helps build our comprehension of what Scripture is telling us, as well as our faith. This is good for us and our children!
We can read the Bible out loud to children or better yet, have them read to us! Even if just for a small pocket of time: on the way to school, after dinner, before bed, or coming home from sports practice.
Keep a Bible in the car, by your kitchen table, or near the TV. I once heard a great author say he grew up in a home with books everywhere. In every room, on every table, there was a book. It became a natural thing to just pick them up and see what each page held! Let’s do the same with God’s Word and make it easily accessible.
Hearing God’s Word is important. Let’s start listening today by turning on some praise music, reading Scripture out loud and listening to sermons. Our faith will begin building quickly!
Pray this prayer for help today: Lord, I need to build my faith for all that You have given me in this life. Holy Spirit, whisper to me, showing me pockets of time when I can hear Your Word for myself and for my children too. Amen
Do you need a resource to help a teen girl in your life build her faith through hearing God’s Word? Lynn Cowell’s new book Devotions for a Revolutionary Year – 365 Days of Jesus’ Radical Love for You can help you do just that! Short devotionals, only 2-3 minutes each, can go a long way in helping her learn God’s truth.
Sign up for Lynn’s FREE “7-day Faith Builder” – a week’s worth of free devotions to share with your daughter, or another girl you know, to help build her faith and confidence.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
-Psalm 139:13-18, NIV
Psalm 139 says that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It tells me that God formed me and wove me together in my mother’s womb even before she knew that she was going to have a child. He chose my green eyes and my frustrating eyebrows, which seem to have a mind of their own. He chose my dishwater hair color, my body type, and my height. Yet too often, I carelessly comment about how He formed me.
We are quick to criticize the size of our thighs, the length of our noses, and even the shape of our toes. The words fearfully and wonderfully express the gentleness and tenderness with which we were created. Have you ever held an infant before? Better yet, have you ever seen someone who is reluctant to hold a baby? It is generally not because they dislike babies but rather because they fear hurting them. They recognize that something so fragile requires tender care. God showed ultimate tenderness as He formed us. David wonders at God’s care when he says in Psalm 8:3, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place.”
Why mention the stars when talking about how God created us? Read it again. The universe is the work of God’s fingers! There is no part of us that was casually or thoughtlessly formed. If He perfectly placed flaming balls of gas and magma into the sky, what does that say about how He created you and me? He declares you to be His poema, His poem, His masterpiece. Not only that, but He continues to think on us even after He creates us! “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” (Psalm 139:17 NLT) God not only created you as the crown of His creation, but He thinks innumerable precious thoughts about you!
Why are we are so eager to criticize His creation? Check out God’s perspective in Isaiah 29:16. “You are confused. You think the clay is equal to the potter. You think that an object can tell the one who made it, ‘You didn’t make me.’ This is like a pot telling its maker, ‘You don’t know anything.’”
Often, I stand in front of my mirror and think, I know I’m supposed to like what I see, but God, You don’t really know anything about what it takes to be pretty. We play the role of clay talking back to our “Potter” on a daily basis.
Imagine I am an artist and I decide to paint the sunset. I set up my paints and stand out on my balcony to watch a beautiful Arizona sunset. I carefully select my colors and work for days to complete my masterpiece. On the fourth day of painting, I hear a voice. “Orange,” it says. At first, I don’t believe I hear it. I continue with the purple on my brush, but soon I can’t deny the sound. “Orange!” It’s coming from my canvas, complaining that I haven’t included enough orange in my masterpiece.
That would be quite a feat! As a writer, I acknowledge that my art does speak to me, but it’s never in the audible sense. The artist, not the art, has the final opinion on the finished product. Yet that’s exactly what we say to God on a regular basis. “I wish I was skinnier. I hate my chin. Why do I have so many stupid freckles? And why do my eyebrows hate me?” Ridiculous but true.
God chose you as dearly loved. He did not carelessly make you. He did not fling you from heaven to earth. He gently and wonderfully made you as His beautiful work of art. Step into the masterpiece you were created to be!
*Excerpted from Ginger’s new book, Forget the Corsage, available through Westbow Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
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