Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Having Fun with Your Parent

I'm writing an article today about having fun with your teen. As a mom of teens, and someone who works with teens (and LOVE it!) this doesn't seem like a hard subject.

I love to hang out with my girls, and my son. I like to horseback ride with Melissa. I like to go out to eat with Ryan. I love to talk with Leslie.

But fun stuff? Maybe that's different than just hanging out.

Is it making cookies? Watching a movie? Hiking? Going through old pictures? Shopping? Playing ping pong, cards, or Deal or No Deal? Is it having a special night or day reserved just for fun?

What is fun for you? What is one thing you'd like to do with your parent (or parents) that would be fun to you?

I'd love to hear your opinion. In fact, I might even quote you in the article, and your opinion would help lots of other parents out there trying to figure out how to connect and have a great time.

Have I mentioned that you girls rock? You do.


Got Wisdom?

(Tricia Goyer with her new puppy, Jake at basketball game)

I'm so excited! Just yesterday I finished writing the second 1/2 of my book for teen girls: My Life, Unscripted.

Yes, you are one of the first to get a sneak peek. Do you like the cover?

One COOL this is that dozens of teens worked with me, answering questions for the book. We talked about many things, and one of them was WISDOM.

Have you every known someome super-smart that didn't make wise choices? Yeah, me too. The fast is the wisdom doesn't come from school books like Chemistry and Algebra, but rather from THE BOOK ... The Bible.

Knowledge is head knowledge about facts and figures. Wisdom is understanding God's perspective on things and allowing Him to work in your mind and heart. Here is what some of my teen friends had to say about it. They're very WISE :-)

Wisdom is not just being smart, it the ability to evaluate choices and help other evaluate theirs. I find wisdom when I am alone in my room listening to God, I find wisdom when I am talking to my friends, and I find wisdom in the Bible hidden within verses.
Sarah, Minnesota, 15

The only place I know to find true wisdom is God. A lot of older people I know also have some wisdom, but they've got it from God. Wisdom is incredibly hard to define I think. Its not the same is knowledge, which is knowing facts. Wisdom is more like, knowing the important things, the things that will last.
Katy, Ohio, 17

Wisdom is godliness and knowing what the right thing is and doing it. I find it from the Bible, what God gives to me. I also find it in certain people, like my mom and others who I believe have wisdom.
Miranda, Georgia, 16

His Word has wise advice for everything.
Shelby, Iowa, 15

So what do you think? Where do you find wisdom? What is one WISE thing God has shown you lately???

Now, here's the scoop on the book:
Using the metaphor of screenwriting, My Life, Unscripted explores relationships in every teenage girl’s life—with herself, her friends and enemies, her parents, guys, and with God.

Real-life scripts, screenwriting terms, and timely topics, make this an interesting read for teen girls as they delve into their own inner struggles and outward relationships. They’ll also learn the importance of “scripting” their own responses BEFORE challenging life-situations arise. By contrasting real-life with TV or movies, teens will understand they don’t have to get caught up in the drama. They also don’t have to face situations as they arise, but rather they can think about, pray about, and consider how to face these situations before the scene begins.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What would You Do with an Extra $1,500?

So, what would you do?

Save it for college?
Buy your first car (obviously used)?
Paint your cat?

No, that’s not a typo; I actually suggested taking your kitty in for a paint job.

Last week a friend sent me an e-mail featuring photos of freshly painted felines. Apparently people pay up to $1,500 for such beautification treatments—a process that must be repeated every three months as Fluffy’s hair grows. Some of the photos were kind of cool (for example the piano-playing cat, painted with a keyboard motif). Others were just creepy.

Two things immediately came to mind as I laughed over the photos.
1) I can’t picture a cat sitting still for such a process.
2) If I had an extra $1,500 to blow I can think of many things that I might spend it on, and none of those choices involve our cats (sorry Lucia and Princess).

In several of the photo the proud owner posed stroking or cradling his or her pet. A few even dressed and/or painted themselves to match. Now that’s taking pet loving to the extreme. For a moment I felt irritated, seeing the whole thing as a ridiculous waste of money. With so many in need, couldn’t those men and women, who obviously had extra, use that $1,500 to benefit a charity, a struggling family member, or a single mom with three kids?

Then a startling thought hit me between the eyes—one of those “Do not judge lest you be judged” moments. What do I do when I have extra cash (not that I do very often)? Give it to charity? Send it to a family in need? Drop extra into the offering bag at church? Sometimes. But more often I treat myself to a book at Barnes and Noble, set it aside for something that I want, or opt for the larger mocha at Starbucks. I guess you can consider these my extremely toned-down versions of painting the cat.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying that it’s wrong to give ourselves a treat once in awhile, or to do something a little frivolous if we can afford it. We all need a lift now and then—a fun gift “to me, from me.” The question is what do we do with our extra funds most of the time? How do we manage our money overall, whether we have a lot or a little?

So now, what would you do if you had $1,500? No guilt if you still say, “I’d buy a car.” But what if you HAD to spend it on someone else? Now there’s a thought! Who would you help? I’d love to hear your responses.

Have a blessed day,

Sunday, February 25, 2007

On grief

Spoiler Warning - I'm going to talk a little about Bridge to Terabithia so
if you don't know this story and don't want the movie spoiled, I give you fair
warning. You can always come back and read this later:-)

I had a conversation with my seven year old daughter about death yesterday. She really wants to go see Bridge to Terabithia because the trailers are great, and good marketing works. It's a Disney movie and so they've been promoting it between episodes of her favorite show - Hannah Montana.

I read Katherine Paterson's book back when I was a kid. And while I read hundreds of books, this one stuck with me simply because of what happens in this story. Even now I remember feeling incredibly sad when (Warning!! Spoiler ahead! Stop reading if you don't want to know!!!) Leslie dies. It's a great book, but very sad and very realistic. The book was written after the author's own son lost his best friend when he was a kid.

I decided that little piece of information was important for my daughter to know. I didn't want to shock her with that. Not at her age. She's experienced two deaths. One was a little puppy we had bought just a month earlier. The death was unexpected and difficult for us all. It prompted a lot of questions about death and we talked candidly with them. We buried the dog in the backyard to help them with the finality of it. Just a few months later, her grandfather (my dad) died rather suddenly from advanced cancer. She wasn't particularly close with this grandfather, but it was still hard for a little while. Especially when we took our kids up to say their good-byes.

But in movies, especially kid's movies, happy endings tend to prevail. And that's not always how life works. Now, she's thinking about whether she even wants to go see the movie now.

When I was nineteen, a close friend of mine was killed in a car accident. Her name was Lara. Even now, fifteen years later, I think of her often. I still send her parents a Christmas card each Christmas to let them know I haven't forgotten her. Lara was a Christian. She was actually pretty influential to my own salvation and thankfully I was able to share the joy of that before she died. I know she's in heaven with Jesus. But I still miss her.

While I think dealing with grief as Christians is different, it is still grief. It still hurts. And we need to talk to each other. Whether it is grief from a death or something else, the healthiest thing we can do is find someone we can just talk to. Share with. I find that one of the ways I deal with the loss of my father is just to talk about it sometimes. In a blog, or with my husband as I point out something my dad would have liked. With Lara, I write to her parents, or share her story with others. Keeping things inside isn't ever good for us. Telling God of our hurts and our sorrows is just as important. He grieves along with us. As a parent, when my kids hurt - I hurt. And I can only imagine how much more God's perfect love aches for us when we carry sorrows.

I don't really mean to make this a downer post. But just as I know there are many who are enjoying this beautiful day, there are others who are sad and hurting. Talk to God. Talk to a friend. Share what is inside.

Lord, please bring comfort to those who are sad today. Help them to know you are near and that you grieve alongside them. Amen

Friday, February 23, 2007

Random Prayers

Have you ever found yourself praying for someone you don't even know? I awoke at 3:00am last night and found myself impressed to pray for someone I have never even met. I know who this person is, but have never met them. I was praying for Britney Spears. Doesn't that seem random? Even though it seems random to me, I think that God thinks otherwise. As I prayed for her, I wondered if anyone else in the world was praying for her. She seems all alone. This is a girl who is crying out for hope. She cries out for someone to help her. I couldn't help but realize that God is the only Someone who can help her and give her hope. Over the years, she has dabbled in different religions searching for something to give her significance. I pray that she finds what she has been searching for in Jesus Christ. Sometimes it takes someone hitting rock bottom before they realize their need for Christ.

God not only loves the "no names", but also the famous. I think that sometimes we think that a famous person has a huge community of friends surrounding them at all times. I wonder if it is the opposite. I think that sometimes God asks a "no name" person like myself and you to intercede on their behalf because they have no one else who will.

Who can you be praying for that needs a Savior? Today, everytime you hear a news report on Britney, pray for her. Let's join together to win more for the Lord.

Sarah Bragg

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

When God Goes Beyond our Prayers

I’m rushing to write this post, having just returned from teaching at a writer’s conference.

One of my biggest fears when I teach is that nobody will show up for my workshop (or, in this case, workshops—I taught two over this past weekend). Before leaving for the conference on Friday evening I sent up a desperate prayer, “God, please don’t let my fear come true. It hasn’t yet, but there’s always a first time. And it did happen to Laura last year” (the ironic thing is that she was teaching on overcoming rejection) “I’m not going to say that I won’t be able to handle it if I have to face an empty classroom. If You allow it then You obviously think I can handle it, or need to handle it for some reason. The truth is that I don’t want to face that humiliation. I don’t want to have to tell my fellow teachers, family and friends ‘Nobody came.’ I feel like I did too much preparation and solicited the prayers of too many friends to have that happen. I hope you agree, God. So please just send a few people to each workshop. If even one person shows up, I’ll be satisfied, trusting that he or she was sent by You.”

I zipped my tote bag, feeling a sense of peace that God would send me at least one student for each class that I’d eagerly prepared to teach.

On Friday night my friend Carol—who I was co-teaching one workshop with—and I waited for registrants to arrive in our assigned classroom, for “Writing Dynamic Devotions.” One woman walked in and took the handouts that we’d set out.

“Thank You, God,” I whispered. He had officially answered my prayer.

Then another woman walked through the door. Then another. A man strolled in, followed by two more ladies. By the time we started, the room was filled! We had to set up more chairs. We actually ran out of handouts!

I reveled in the joy of teaching to a “packed house.” More than that, I rejoiced in God’s choice to not answer my prayer for one or two students. Instead He surpassed my expectations and filled the room.

I’m not sure if God was trying to teach me to trust Him for more, or if this simply stood as a reminder that sometimes He gives us what we deep down want and maybe even need but are afraid to ask for. After a difficult few months, I needed a lift. The amazing turnout definitely provided that!

The next day I taught “Writing for Today’s Teen” and only four people showed up. Still I thanked God. For one thing, again He sent students my way. Once more He surpassed my prayer for “one or two.” More than that though, I remembered the night before, when He blew away.

Today, take a moment to thank God for those times when He didn’t only answer your prayer, but want far beyond it! What might He have in store for you today?

Blessings on your day,

Monday, February 19, 2007

Real Devo: Dirty by Jenn Joshua, RT Staff Writer

Dirty. . .
By Jenn Joshua, RT Staff Writer

Have you ever wondered how it’s possible to be ‘different’ from the rest of the world? Well, me too! A few months ago especially, I was haunted by James 1:27 where it says, “This is pure and undefiled religion: to keep yourself unspotted from the world”. What exactly did unspotted mean? Did the term refer to inward things, outward, or both? And once it was defined, how was it to apply to my daily life? (And what entertainment would I have to give up if it were true?!)

God tells us that He looks our hearts – we’re called to be different INSIDE – what spills from us when we’re ‘nudged’ should be totally different from what spills when unbelievers are ‘nudged’. I’m not saying that what’s inside is the only thing that matters – that we can dress like whatever, live like whatever, talk like whatever – but rather that if what’s inside is ‘true, noble, right, and pure’, what spills from us should be just that! As Amy Carmichael put it, “A cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill a single bitter drop”.

It’s been said that if you put a frog in a saucepan of tepid water and set it on the stove to boil, it won’t jump out because the temperature change is so gradual – it doesn’t even notice – it just sits there ‘til it boils to death. (By the way, this might be a good experiment for biology class, but otherwise it’s not really recommended!)

I think we sometimes get so steeped in the culture that we don’t realize we’re slowly being boiled alive – that the music, the movies, the books and magazines we feed our minds are beginning to have a subtle effect on us...

For example, have you ever done the Queen Anne’s Lace flower experiment? You know, the one where you slit the stem of the flower, and put each side in a different glass of food coloring? In a matter of days, the flower is two different colors. The change is subtle at first – the color creeps up the stalk and gently fills each bud – then suddenly, with a burst of color, there you have it! Half blue, half red... plain and bold for everyone to see!

If we’re feeding ourselves filthy things – or even just mildly dirty things – it’s still eventually going to show, no matter what we do. Maybe it won’t evidence itself in flaming colors, but it’ll be there and people will see it.

“Therefore, my friend, be diligent that you may be found in peace – without spot, and blameless.” 2 Peter 3:16

Jenn is a senior in high school whose love of writing is surpassed only by her
love of working with kids. After her graduation in the spring, it is her
plan to work at an inner-city kid’s camp, followed by an internship at a local
children’s home.

Prayin' for my children

If any of you girls have mothers who pray for you, let me tell you. It's something we mamas do every day.

I love to go through my Bible and see verses I've underlined with dates next to them that mean something to me. I can go back and see how God was SO faithful--even when I thought FOR SURE He'd forgotten.
Of my three children, Katie's the hard-headed one. Stubborn. Tough. Independent.

Katie, now 22, played almost every sport in high school. I'm not athletic. I remember getting nervous as she'd step up to the plate playing fastpitch softball. Her coach had her switch from being a right-handed hitter to a left-handed hitter. Becoming a switch hitter gave her an extra couple of steps toward first base. Sometimes she'd have two strikes on her and swap to the other side of the plate. Ahhhhh. I'd sit on the bleachers and whisper, "For by Thee Katie can run upon a troop; And by my God Katie can leap over a wall. Help her, God." (from Ps 18)

Or, as she'd be crouched in the blocks getting ready to sprint at a track meet. I'd say, "He makes Katie's feet like hinds' feet, and sets her upon high places. He trains her hands for battle...Help her run even though her knees hurt. Prepare Katie for battle." (also from Ps 18)
I remember how she pulled away from us at about 18. How she wanted to do things her way. Live life her way. A deep wide distance developed between us. Days went by and we didn't talk. I wondered if we'd ever talk again--the kind of real talking with someone you know and love.
But God's in the business of healing hurts and reconciling people. And He restored us.
Katie married in May of 2006.
Somebody got word to me she was crying before she went down the aisle.
Katie? Crying? Nervous? No way.
I quickly prayed, "God, help her. Be her Strength."
When I saw this picture of her, I got really close and stared. I couldn't believe my tough, stubborn, hard-headed daughter was crying. But there she is, hanging onto her daddy--sort of stuck in that moment before you let go and grow up.
God never forgets those whispered prayers. Even when we doubt, even when our faith is tiny, He still hears. He brings the perfect answer when His time is right.
Anybody need some prayers today?

Sunday, February 18, 2007


I resisted involvement in MySpace, even though numerous Christian authors said that this was a viable way to get in touch with the younger generation. There was just too much "weirdness" associated with the site. And I'm not much into the cyber-world anyway.
So when I was introduced to ShoutLife , I wasn't much interested. You know, I'd have to make a profile page and upload a picture and all that complicated stuff. So my college-age assistant said she'd do it.
I hemmed. I hawed. She said it was a Christian site. Just come look over her shoulder and she'd show me all the neat people on it.
I saw some musical groups I recognized and some fellow authors, so I said, go ahead. Do it!
For an old granny like me that was stepping off into places no granny named Donita K Paul had gone before.
Okay . . . two, maybe three, weeks later--I'm hooked! I love it. I love looking at the faces and sending up arrow prayers for some of the photos where the expressions just break my heart. I'm a sucker for any animal picture that is posted instead of the member's face. I love looking at the background behind the member's face. What is that on the wall? A cupie doll collection? Some of the pictures are downright funny and others are sad.
I love reading the profile blurbs. Do people realize how much they reveal of themselves when they say, "I'm me, don't knock it."
I ask myself questions. Why does this 13 year old girl think she needs to look like a seductress? Why does this boy want to look tough?
Do you belong to MySpace or ShoutLife? I found I am being introduced to teens in a way I haven't been since I taught school and I missed the association. What do you think of these communities?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Give me an "N"! *\o/*

What does the word "nurture" mean to you?

Is it covering the basics? I'm fed. I'm warm. I have a roof over my head. There you go, I'm nurtured.

Really? No, not really.

Nurting is going beyond the basics. When someone or something is nurtured, it fosters growth.

One way to nurture yourself is to nurture your dreams. Are you growing your dreams, tending to them, asking God to water them and help them sprout? Nurturing your dreams means that you do two things:

1. You protect your dreams

2. You pursue your dreams

There will be dreambusters every step of the way in your journey. Sometimes that is people who run you down, or tell you that you can't possibly succeed. It may even be someone really important in your life.

It's tough when you want to dream and no one seems to believe in you. But I discovered a long time ago that God believes in me. I was created by him. He breathed life into me, and he knows what my life can look like as I listen to him and follow his leading.

If someone had come to me as a teen and said that I could dream, I wouldn't have believed them. Life was sticky, icky and hard. Today I would love to be able to sit next to my once 15-year-old self and whisper, "dream, baby, dream." I would encourage that young girl to believe in the powerful words found in the Bible, instead of labels stuck on her life like rag-tag post-it notes. Those promises aren't just for the old me--they are for you too.

Another dreambuster is letting relationships in your life that don't line up with your dream. If a guy says he loves you, but asks for anything that could delay or destroy your dream, he's a dreambuster. If he's into you and not into God--dreambuster!

Remember the story of Joseph? A lady tried to mess up his dream and he literally ripped away from her, leaving his nice robe hanging in her hand. He recognized a dreambuster. She still tried to mess up his life and his dreams, but he stayed focused. He knew who to trust with his dreams. He placed them in God's hands.

He showed us that you nurture your dream as you pursue it. Sometimes dreams seem impossible because they are so HUGE!

And yet most dreams are accomplished one step at a time. Like a beautiful mosiac, little things, little acts of courage, little steps of faith, all combine to create the larger picture.

Pursuing your dreams might involve waiting. Most good things take time. You can nurture your dream by growing in strength and character while you wait and take those baby steps, so when it arrives you're ready to assume both the privilege and responsibility.

So, give me an "N"! And begin to nurture his dreams for your life. *\o/*
Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you. . . Jeremiah 1:5a (The Message)

Suzie Eller

Real Teen Faith

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Valentine's Gift

It's Valentine's Day, that holiday I used to call "the darkest day of the year". I was always on the short end of the stick when it came to love and romance. I was never one of those girls that had flowers and balloons delivered to school. (If you are one of those girls, don't tell me about it.) Well, to be brutally honest, I never even had a boyfriend in high school - or college. And you have to remember that I didn't even know God in high school so I had no religious convictions whatsoever and I still couldn't get a date. For anything.

But before you feel sorry for me, you've got to know that I look back on all of that and I am...grateful. After all, what felt horrible at the time, was an effective strategy in keeping my heart for my future husband. Not having those relationships kept me from making big mistakes. So while I don't have any of those happy "dating" memories, I also don't have any sorrow or regrets. And that's a good thing. Sometimes it's easy to get lost in the here and now, and forget that God is at work behind the scenes, shaping our lives for some future time.

But since most of you are still in that waiting time, I have a special gift for ya'll. I get a lot of mail from girls who have read the Becoming Beka series and want more books. Unfortunately, the publishing world can be very, very slow. So I have spent the last six months writing a novel that I am going to give away for free! Yeah, I know, it's insane. It started out as an experimental project and turned out to be a blast to write.

Totally Unfamous is a blog-book. That means it will release on a blog platform a little at a time, but it is still a complete novel. Oh, and it's written completely in poetry. Yes, you read that right. That's how Lucy wanted it written and since it's her book, how could I argue? Lucy (Beka's younger sister from the Beka series), is now seventeen and is a senior in high school and Totally Unfamous is her story. I posted the first four pages of Lucy's story today, and each day there will be more up there to read.

Could you help me spread the word? If you like the story and think you know others would like it as well, you can use the graphic button above to link the Totally Unfamous page to your own blog or website.

You can also find me over at ShoutLife, a new Christian online community.

So Happy Valentine's Day to each and every one of you. Even if you are by yourself today, remember that you are never alone, and that God always knows more than we do. You are God's precious Valentine today, and every day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Girls, God, and Skin Color

Jesus loves the little children, right? You know the song ... red, yellow, black, and white ... they are precious in His sight ... Sadly, we human beings still don't share such color-blind love. I recently bought a 7-minute film written and directed by a sixteen-year-old filmmaker, Kiri Davis, and produced by Media Matters. Be prepared. It's unforgettable.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Be My Valentine?

To me, Valentine’s Day is the like the annual set up for disappointment. I hated this holiday growing up because I never had a boyfriend on this holiday. In high school, people would have flowers and balloons delivered to the school. At the end of every class period, the office would call out a list of names who had gifts waiting for them in the gym. My name was never called. Every year, I was disappointed. My expectations weren’t met. My hopes were dashed. I always ended up feeling “less than” because I placed my value in what I was going to get. Since I never got anything, I always ended up feeling like I wasn’t valued.

I have realized that we have intrinsic value because we were created by God in His image (Genesis 1:27). Intrinsic means “by or in itself, rather than because of its associations.” That means that you have value apart from externals. You have value not because of your body, hair, face, friends, or what is said about you. You have value because you were created by God in His image. Things go wrong when you forget that truth. A lot of times, we get into relationships in order to feel valued. You wait for someone to give you value. You hold a cup up to every single person you see asking them to fill you up with value. Tell me I look pretty. Tell me you want me. Tell me you love me. Tell me you want to date me. Tell me you’ll call me. The truth is that you already matter. You already are valued. Psalm 43:8 says, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in Thee. Show me the way in which I should go for to You I lift up my soul.”

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I wanted to be God’s mouthpiece to tell you that He is crazy about you. You are valued by Someone who breathed you and this world into existence. When He speaks, the stars are put in the sky. When He speaks, mountains move. You have value apart from anything external. I hope that Wednesday isn’t a disappointment, and that you have a day where you see what God thinks about you.
You are loved,
Sarah Bragg

Saturday, February 10, 2007

When the Sand Runs Out

There's a Rascal Flatts song called "When the Sand Runs Out." The lyrics say:
I'm gonna stop looking back start moving on,
And learn how to face my fears.
Love with all of my heart make my mark.
I wanna leave something here.
Go out on a ledge without any net.
That's what I'm gonna be about.
Yeah I wanna be running when the sand runs out.

It's a great reminder to how many of us would like to live life. Just full force, taking risks, dreaming big, and not bound by fears. It reminds me of the verse found in 2 Timothy: 4:7
I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.

This week I went to the visitation of a former student of mine. Dustin was full of life, mischief, and fun. He was killed last week in a wreck. There were two nineteen year old boys in that truck. One walked away without a scratch. And Dustin was instantly killed. The entire town showed up for the visitation and the funeral. That's a great testimony to his friendship and his personality. But at the funeral I'm told they played the Rascal Flatts song.

At the visitation, I looked around at many of my former students. The church was overflowing with young people. I know some of them had to be thinking, "Had that been me, had MY life been snuffed out so quickly, would I be ready? Would I be proud of the legacy I left behind?"

We have no guarantee of tomorrow. If your life ended today, girls, would you go home with Christ?

And for those of you who are secure in your salvation, are you secure in the course you're on? Are you running hard for God? Are you living life to your fullest potential? Are you living fearlessly? Not as in "Hey, watch how long I can hold my hand over this open flame." But as in, "Hey, watch me go pursue the plans God has placed in my heart. Even though I don't know what I'm doing. Even though I'm scared. I'm running that race."

It is my sincere prayer that you know Christ as your Savior. And it is my heart's desire today that when our number is called, we will ride into Heaven totally worn out from a life NOT spent on cruise control.

Go out on a ledge without any net.
I wanna be running when the sand runs out.

Friday, February 09, 2007

so many ideas

My husband and I attended a youth leadership conference recently in Chattanooga, TN.

The ideas for a girls' ministry just keep coming to me. I'd like to post these thoughts and see if anybody has comments or other ideas.

1. Start a leadership team to pray/read Bible/have coffee weekly with girls who'd like to lead others.

2. Have a one day event and invite girls from local high schools. This event might include the following things.

3. A female Christian gynecologist and a time for questions and answers.

4. A female Christian counselor.

5. An all-girl band to lead in praise and worship.

6. A hip-hop dance team to dance to Christian songs.

7. Decorate it for teenage girls--not your grandmother's covered dish--have the girls decorate.

8. Interesting way to teach "Who we are in Christ."

9. A video tape made up of high school boys answering questions on the things girls really want to know. Interview guys who say they know Christ. Ask them what they're looking for in life and in a dating relationhip.

10. No judging. All girls are welcome no matter what.

11. Have the girls plan the food.

12. The girls will make up fliers and invite their friends.
13. A female police officer to teach the signs of abusive relationships.

14. The goal? To show that there's a safe place to come and people who care.
15. Provide books that apply to teenage girls written by our blog writers. :-)
Thanks for reading this.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Our friend, Sarah

Sarah Sumpolec, one of the authors on Girls, God, and the Good Life, was on the Tyra Banks show in January. She was featured with several people who believed in wicca, satanism, and witchcraft. Sarah was interviewed because she practiced solitary witchcraft as a teen.

Later she found truth, and put away (burned) all of the things that once seemed like power to her. She found that knowing Christ took her down a road of destiny, instead of darkness.

As she shared her testimony on national TV, I sat in my living room and cheered her on. What I should have been doing is praying for my friend.

The backlash has been huge. I visited her website and the sheer amount of comments from those who believe in wicca and satanism has been overwhelming.

And yet Sarah continues to hold up the "light" of her faith as she responds with truth, with compassion, and with integrity. I was angry for her as I read some of the statements calling her a fraud or insisting that she was on the Tyra Banks show for publicity.

You see, I know Sarah. She's more than just a name to me. She's a friend. She's real. She's smart. She's incredibly funny. Most of all, she loves Jesus and it shows in her life, and in her writing, and in her relationships.

So, I'm asking you to join me today in praying for Sarah Sumpolec. Ask God to protect her, and to give her wisdom, but most of all to walk beside her as she speaks to new friends (and those who don't want to be friends) about an amazing God.

Prayer: Father I pray for Sarah today. I ask that you encourage her. I pray that you give her exactly the right words to say. I pray that she will celebrate with you the one or two or hundreds that respond to what she had to say, and allow you to influence their life and destiny. You never promised that when we spoke truth that it would always be positive. Lord, you showed us that truth might not be received by all, and yet you continued. Be with Sarah, wrap your arms around your beautiful daughter today, and may we be encouragers to her also. In your powerful and precious name. Amen

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Reach for the Stars!

(Tricia with her sister Lesley and nephew Tyler.)

Last night I talked with a group of teen moms, and I wish I'd had this quote that my sister sent to me this morning:

"When you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either."- Leo Burnett

I love that! It especially ties in to what I talked about: goal setting.

When I asked these young women about their goals, they had quite a few: to get a GED, to go to college, and to ge a good mom.

We talked about local schooling options, yet we also talked about the daily ends and out of life.

These young women have some of the same struggles we all do--losing their patience, yelling, and get plain wore out with all the things to be done in a day.

I shared a few things that helps me. Maybe they'll help you to:

1. Set goals. For me this changed at different times. When I was younger this meant cutting out cussing. It meant focusing on school work more than boys (which was hard to do!). It meant choosing to read my Bible before I picked up People Magazine.

It helped when I also THOUGHT through GOOD responses or a good plan of action. The more I think about it, the more my goals become my actions.

2. Seek accountability. I hate having to fess up with someone else that I've messed up. When I share a struggle with a friend, then I know she will ask about it, so I do better. A good friend is quick to tell me when I'm not following through!

3. Go to God. God forgives me when I mess up. God gives me wisdom to know the right thing to do. God gives me strength to follow through.

I go to God often because I often need HELP! I'm thankful there is not quota for approaching Him. God's there 24/7. Yes, even when it seems like life is just too tough, too overwhelming, too much work. He's there.

Now, doesn't this quote fit perfectly?

"When you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either."- Leo Burnett

So remember, reach for the stars . . . and the heavens where God is seated, ready to help.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Because it’s the Super Bowl

My husband admitted that he could care less who won the Super Bowl this year. Still, he bought a supply of chips, veggies and dip, and soda.

“Why did you buy so many snacks?” I asked as I rearranged the refrigerator to make room for the buy-one-get-one-free containers of dip.

“For the Super Bowl.” Norm handed me a bag of baby carrots.

“But you said you weren’t rooting for either team this year.”

“I’m still going to watch the game.”


“It’s the Super Bowl.”

At church my friend Susan helped me solve the mystery. She had just wrapped up a discussion with her 15-year-old grandson about why a certain type of dip required “V cheese.” (“V cheese” apparently stands for Velveeta—I can’t decide if that’s a cute family code name for this pasteurized processed cheese-like substance, if I’m completely out of touch and “V cheese” is actually a common term, or if the idea of ingesting Velveeta grosses Susan out so much that she can’t even stand to say the word).

“So you guys are watching the Super Bowl today too?” I asked. I figured there could be no other reason behind the importance of dip details.

“Oh, of course,” Susan grinned. “Nobody cares who wins. It’s just an excuse to watch football and eat snacks.”

I should have known.

I’ll admit, later in the afternoon when I sank my hand into a bag of Doritos and cracked open a root beer, I felt rather thankful for the rare excuse to veg out and eat junk. Norm definitely deserved a time-out after finishing a paper and a test for his on-line class. My sons and I all battled a nasty flu bug last week. On top of that, 4-year-old Nathan had four shots on Friday. So we’d all earned a treat or two. It was a good day to kick back. I still can’t remember who won the game, and don’t really care. It was a relaxing Sunday afternoon and I’m glad we allowed ourselves to have it.

So I guess this year Super Bowl Sunday taught me something new. It wasn’t a lesson in teamwork, perseverance, or why football is so much more than grown men fighting over a ball. Instead it offered a reminder that in the busyness of life, sometimes we need a good excuse to sit down with family, friends, or both, break out the chips and soda, and relax. Who cares who is playing, who wins or loses, or who is performing the half-time show (was I hallucinating or was that Prince?). Sometimes it’s okay to enjoy an event for no other reason than “It’s the Super Bowl.” Spending an afternoon on the couch isn’t always a waste of valuable time. Sometimes it’s a chance to regroup together. It may involve eating all the wrong things, but isn’t that part of the fun?

Thank God for the opportunities that He provided this past weekend, for rest and relaxation, so you could start this week fresh, ready to face the craziness of life again.

Many blessings,

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The End in Mind

I have spent the past two evenings watching American Idol. I love the opening shows when people audition. There was an older man on the show last night who had a petition of hundreds of names pleading to be allowed to audition. The reason why he wanted to audition was because his wife of 20 years had come down with cancer. The fact that he wanted to audition brought her joy during her pain. Two days before the audition, she passed away. He was there to honor her. I sat on the couch crying!

Watching this man made me think about something. What if you found out that you had a terminal disease? How would your life change if you knew your days were limited? Your answer depends on your faith. If you have no faith, it might not matter what you do the next day. But if you have faith, you realize that there is more to life. You would live as if it mattered. You would live with a real sense of purpose.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” Hearing that, I can’t help but ask myself, “Do I really worship God or am I giving Him lip service?”

We are all worshippers. We all worship something. Whether you are a Christian or not. Worship is simply giving something or someone worth. Worship can be music, but it more than that. It’s a lifestyle.

John Piper said in his book, Desiring God, “The proper understanding o everything in life begins with God. No one will ever understand the necessity of conversion who does not know why God created us. He created us “in His image” so that we would image forth his glory in the world. We were made to be prisms refracting the light of God’s glory into all of life. Why God should want to give us a share in shining with is glory is a great mystery. Call it grace or mercy or love—it is an unspeakable wonder. Once we were not. Then we existed for the glory of God!”

Worship is about God’s glory. The only thing about me that worship involves is my obedience. Worship is not for my pleasure, but for God’s pleasure. That’s why I was created. That is my purpose in life. Worship is for God’s benefit, not mine.

I have been struck with my lack of thinking towards daily worship. I think about worship on Sunday’s. I think about worship off and on, but I sometimes lack the thoughts of worship in everything I do. My worship and adoration of Him is sometimes sporadic and honestly shallow. It seems like often it is about me rather than about Him. God has purposed us to bring Him pleasure.

Think about the days of your life and live with a sense of purpose. Think of ways today to worship God with wholehearted devotion.

Sarah Bragg