Twelve Months of Quality Mother-Daughter Time

By Emily Miller

This New Year, instead of making resolutions that you feel guilty about not keeping after the first couple months, make goals for you and your daughter to spend more time together. This can get a little difficult if you and your daughter are both really busy. If you plan ahead and are both willing to be a little flexible with your schedules, however, it can be easy to come up with a list of fun, cheap activities that both of you will enjoy and bond over. The following is lists of monthly activities that I have come up with that are great for any age group.  

EmilyipcJanuary-Sledding, hot cocoa and story time:

If you live in an area that gets snow, pick a day after a fresh snowfall, bundle up, grab a sled, and head for the nearest hill in your area. Afterward, warm up by the fire with hot coco and a good story. You can just stick with the hot coco and story if it is raining. If you happen to be lucky enough to live somewhere that is warm this winter, make cold drinks, grab a blanket, and have story time outside.

February-Homemade Valentines:

For younger girls you can easily do cut out hearts and have them color away. For your older girls, it may be nice to go pick out some nicer valentine themed paper and make scrapbook valentines.

March-Go get manicures/pedicures:

There is nothing that can make a little girl feel more like a princess than getting her nails done. It can also be a great time for you and your older daughter to talk and catch up.

April-Spring Clean your home:

While this may not seem like a fun thing to do at first, you and your daughters can make cleaning fun and bond over it. It is also a great time to teach your girls how to be good stewards of the home, especial in the future when they are married.

May-Go on a nature walk:

Go on a walk through the park or your neighborhood and appreciate the beauty God brings forth in springtime.

June-Have tea:

As spring starts to melt into summer, you and you daughter can dress up, make tea and cookies, and have teatime outside.

July-Picnic in the park:

On a day where you and your daughter need to get out of the house, you can make some sandwiches and go out to the park. If you have daughters of various age groups, try to go to a park with a playground so your younger daughters can play while you and your older daughters can talk.

August-Make a slip n’ slide”

If you have a tarp, dish soap, and a hose out back, then you have a slip n’ slide. This is a great activity to do in those dog days of summer before your girls have to go back to school.

 September-Have a Disney Movie marathon:

As the leaves start to turn and the air becomes cold and bitter, you and your daughter can pick a weekend to cuddle up together and watch Disney movies.

October-Make fall goodies:

For your older daughters, you could make something like caramel apples together. For younger girls, you can opt. for something a little less messy and sticky, like pumpkin cookies.

November-Take doughnuts to policeman/fireman:

What better way for you and your daughter to show your thanks to public servicemen and women than by bringing them doughnuts.

December-Volunteer/make boxes for Operation Christmas Child:

For the Christmas season, you and your daughters give to those less fortunate by volunteering at a nursing home or homeless shelter. If you really don’t have time to go and volunteer, you and your daughters could go to the dollar store and put together a couple boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

 

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Designed to Thrive

By Erin Bishop

As a young girl I had a poor self image. I spent an enormous amount of effort trying on new identities hoping that something would take root and I would feel like I belonged.

My quest for the right identity, acceptance and security started around the age of twelve. What began as the need for the approved brand of clothing and shoes turned into needing to have a boyfriend to be “cool”, which turned into the experimentation of smoking, drinking and boys.

That young girl grew into an insecure young woman still searching for something or someone to fill the emptiness in her heart. I spent most evenings at the bar drinking my paychecks and I was going nowhere, fast.

At twenty-one I became pregnant. I was unmarried, scared and in a state of shock that “this” was my life. I got married for the wrong reasons and soon found myself in the midst of a nightmare life that you would only hear about on a tabloid talk show.

When the doctor handed me a beautiful, 8 pound 10 ounce baby girl (I named her Grace-not realizing the magnitude of her name) my life changed forever.

For the safety of my new baby and mine, I divorced my husband and began making a new life for us. After a few years I met a wonderful man who married me and became Grace’s daddy.

A couple of years into my second marriage I began a relationship with the God I had pushed away for so many years. Jesus became my Savior and that emptiness in my heart disappeared. I felt fulfilled and like I belonged.

I started reading the Bible and as a family we began attending church. One day I came across Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” That verse perfectly illustrated the feelings I couldn’t describe about my experiences. I knew there had to be a purpose or that something good would come out of my life.

The more I studied God’s Word and grew in my relationship with Him, the stirring in my heart to minister to teen girls grew stronger. I wanted to spare as many girls from the pain and suffering I experienced by sharing God’s love and perfect plan for their lives with them.

Through a series of events, orchestrated completely by God, I founded a ministry for teen girls and their moms in 2009. “The Whatever Girls” (based on Philippians 4:8) are intentional moms and intentional daughters. We exist to empower girls to choose God’s best for their lives by exemplifying the pillars of Philippians 4:8: “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy”.

I wanted my daughter and her friends to approach their teen years in the spirit of Ecclesiastes 4:12: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” The teen years do not have to be dreadful and filled with drama and peer- pressure. Jesus came “so that we would have life and have it to the full”- to thrive.

Since 2009, our group of mothers and daughters meet regularly to talk about God’s Word and the things our girls are going through, like peer pressure, drama, their identity in Christ, modesty and purity, boys and more.

The Whatever Girls ministry is growing by leaps and bounds. In the last year we have formed a team of over twenty writers and speakers, hold community events, have developed a strong online community, and are working with moms across the country to start their own Whatever Girls groups. We are launching Online Bible Studies January 27 and are hosting our first conference, Whatever Girls Live this April in Spokane, Washington.

Just as Jesus promises abundance, He warns us that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy(John 10:10). This week alone the enemy has been working overtime to discourage me into quitting just about everything. From the hard drive of my year-old computer crashing-taking with it all my important ministry documents including the book I’m writing, to doubts about my worth as a woman, wife and mother, to concerns about a loved one’s health. I could let these tactics defeat me, but instead I cling to this Truth in God’s Word: “…that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

As I look back over the years I see how intentionally God has designed my life and ordered my steps. I look to the future with anticipation because I know in Him, I will thrive.

This post was inspired by Casting Crowns new album “Thrive” available January 28th. Learn more about what it means to Thrive HERE

 

Thank you to Casting Crowns, Provident Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment for the invitation to take part in the promoting of your new album- it’s wonderful!

The Struggle

By Lynn Cowell

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV)

“Why can’t we just get past this?”

The agitation in my voice revealed the frustration in my heart. I just wanted to fix this relationship problem and move on to happy. My mind and heart were weary from the extended battle.

I’m a fixer at heart, especially when it comes to my kids. When I see one of them hurting or needing help, I want to make it better.Forget your cleats? I’ll run them to school. Overwhelmed by a test? Let me help you study. Don’t understand the instructions? We can figure them out together.

Since I don’t like to see my children struggle, I imagine God as our heavenly parent feeling the same way about us. Unlike me, rather than trying to help us avoid struggles, God understands they are often for our good.  As James 1:2-4 says trials can be precisely the thing that makes us grow into maturity.

Too often when it comes to my kids, it initially seems kinder to step in and relieve the pressure. Yet more than once I have overstepped my bounds and done more harm than good. My help stunted them from gaining a new skill or needed attribute.

As hard as it has been, as they have grown older I’m standing back when my children wrestle a bit in order to allow them to fully mature. Handling troubles with teachers, working out schedules and doing their own laundry have been areas where my kids have learned responsibility on their own.

Their struggle reminds me of the butterfly, wiggling this way and that until it is able to shed its cocoon. The fight allows the butterfly to gain the strength it needs to eventually spread its wings and soar once free of the cocoon. If the cocoon is split by hand, the emerging butterfly won’t survive long.

Jesus in His wisdom knows we need the strength that can be gained from struggles we face as adults as well. Struggles to display love in our relationships, to trust Him with our kids’ futures or His provision when finances are tight. Our part during life’s battles is to lean into these struggles,  getting every ounce of learning and maturing. We may think of maturing as a stage a teen goes through, but in the original Greek language this passage was written in maturing means “perfect or finished” while complete means “whole”. God uses difficult times to push us to become more like Him. When life flows smoothly, we might have what it takes to get by on our own. But when it is difficult, it is our reminder to run to the One who has the power we need to respond to life His way. As we do, we will grow in our faith and level of perseverance, which prepares us for the nextstruggle. All the while, we are growing more like Him.

Scripture strengthens our resolve and fills in the overwhelming places as we trust God for the strength we need. Instead of begging to be let out of the trial, we can pray to grow in the trial. Recently I felt misunderstood and frustrated with someone I love. Opening my Bible, I asked the Lord to help me know how to respond when I wanted to be angry. The first verse I read after that prayer was Ephesians 5:1, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” He could not have been clearer!

Scripture tells us when we look at our trials as an instrument of training and learn from them, we will come out mature and complete. We’ll be stronger than we were before—ready for all that He has ahead for us.

Lynn’s books, “His Revolutionary Love” and “Devotions for a Revolutionary Year” help to prepare teen girls for their time of flying, which is just around the corner! For a free leadership guide, click here.

 

Beautiful Firsts

By Angie Ryg

She blows the candles out and the singing of Happy Birthday fades into the background as my mind goes back to the party when there was one candle on the top of a bear cake.  It wasn’t just a flat cake. I  pulled out all the stops for this party. It was a three dimensional cake with a yellow candle poking out of the top of the brown bear’s head – right next to the yellow bow made out of whipped frosting. Yellow is her favorite color.

Leah Birthday Cake

One candle.  With the blowing of one small breath, one year was complete.

A year that we could never get back.

It was full of beautiful firsts. First words, first steps, first smiles, and first tears.

Each first becoming a step into learning to let go.

And now there are thirteen candles. I am brought back to the present and the singing is getting louder. Now, I can actually hear the adding of CHA CHA CHA from the little brothers with the singing.  And she is still blowing out the candles. Each candle is a blowing out of another year. The completion of thirteen years.

There are still beautiful firsts. First club team. First text from a boy. First high school exam.

And each first is another step in learning to let go.

We are blessed to be able to blow out another candle year after year, but it is not promised to us. It is a gift of grace.

God is in control of each aspect of our lives. Not only the number of candles we will end up having, but what our lives will look like year to year.

Isaiah 40:7 says: The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it.

So we take joy in the blessings that He has given us and may we see each day with our precious daughters as just that – a gift He has given.

May we seek intentional times with our daughters. May we pray intentional prayers. May we live intentional lives knowing that they are watching.

And let’s join together in thanking God for each candle we get to blow out this year!

And for a wonderful intentional time with your daughter…consider going to the WHATEVER GIRLS LIVE EVENT!

 

 

10 Ways to Build Your Daughter’s Self-Esteem, Part Two

sarah - edited

So back in November, we started a two-part series and well . . . if you’re like me, you can’t remember last week. Click here to read the first half of this post...

6. Spend quality one-on-one time with her. I know this is a challenge. It’s a huge challenge for me and we don’t do this nearly enough. However, spending time together doing something fun strengthens your relationship and builds trust. We also communicate to her she is a person of value and someone you want to spend time with. Not to mention some pretty great conversations can take place when you are away from the distractions at home (i.e. siblings).

7. Share your own struggles with self-esteem. Vulnerability gives others a gateway into your heart. It also gives them a chance to exhale in relief knowing they aren’t the only ones. Your daughter can be greatly encouraged by your own past struggles because you made it through and lived to tell about it! One of my favorite C. S. Lewis quotes is “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .’ ” A camaraderie develops between people who have had similar experiences and your relationship with your daughter is no exception! Not to mention that when you are willing to be vulnerability and share parts of your heart, your daughter will get the message it’s safe for her to do the same.

8. Teach her who she is in His eyes. We live in a world where it’s tempting to allow “worldly stuff” to define who we are. Our academic performance. Job success. The perfect behavior of our children. How big our house is or what kind of car we drive or the size of our jeans. As we are told in Isaiah 40: 8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” In other words, nothing of this world lasts forever. Beauty, fame, money, success . . . It can all be taken from us in an instant and if we have placed our identity in these worldly things, who are we if they are lost? Our true identity comes from God and God alone – His word stands forever. Within His word we are told we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Beloved. Knit together in our mother’s womb. Daughters of the Most-High King. This is what she is – and you are, too.

9. Teach her how to change her thoughts. It’s a given we are going to have negative thoughts now and then. However, the difference between a pessimist and an optimist is the optimist won’t dwell on the negative and expect it to be the default setting. The optimist also understands how to change her “stinkin’ thinkin'” to one healthier, more positive thoughts. Teaching your daughter how to replace the enemy’s lies with His truth will equip her to shoot those stinky thoughts right on out of the water! For example, if she tells you “It’s no use studying for my biology quiz. I always fail them anyway,” then you can encourage her to replace this thought with the Philippians 4:13 words of “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Remember: if she reacts with an eye-roll, remind yourself His word is never void. It can be discouraging but keep at it – seeds are being planted!

10. Pray together. When we pray together, we are linked by His word and usually, a bond begins to develop. God desires for us to live in close community – why else would He say, “…where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20)? He wants us to gather in His name because He understands this is one way souls can become become entwined. Praying with your daughter is a wonderful way to find out what’s going on in her heart and will communicate you are a safe person she can trust.

Equipping your daughter to stand-strong on who He says she is is the greatest gift you give can give her – and it will last a lifetime and can never be taken away.

How do you build-up your daughter’s self-esteem?

 

 

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