mothering spiritual

The God's Girls Revolution: Be a Part of It

9:16 AMHeather

They jumped out of the car and stormed the house before I could even turn off the engine. With squeals and shouts and the high pitch frenzy that is unique to a group of preteen girls. All talking at once, they went through their normal routine, introducing the new girls to the flow of things at our little gatherings.

Or not so little, actually. Because my living room was packed with girls cramming onto every piece of furniture and occupying every bit of floor space available.

Honestly, I started this journey, hosting a group of my daughter's peers, rather on a whim. As my daughter was nearing her fifth grade year and wrapping up elementary school, I wanted her and her friends to benefit from the informal tradition from previous fifth grade girls. It seemed that for a few years, a mom or two would initiate and host a biweekly gathering of their fifth grade girls, calling it God's Girls. I'm not sure who started it, but it was a simple attempt to ground the girls in their friendships and faith prior to starting middle school.

I loved the idea. I remember well the angst of moving into middle school. Complicated for me by an out-of-state move. It's such a strange time in life, to be straddling the world of pretend play and barbie dolls and the world of make-up and puberty. I can recall how confusing it all was to me, transforming from a little girl into a young lady.

If I had had a grown-up who had intentionally set aside regular time to invest and guide and love on me and my friends, I know I would have eaten that up.

So, I thought I should step up for my girl. I've never considered preteen girls to be my "passion" or my calling, but my daughter certainly is. And she has been fortunate to grow up in a class chock full of incredible girls from strong families. Her peer group is exceptional. 

That was how God's Girls sorta fell to me in that summer before fifth grade. I asked my friend Tracy to come for lunch, as she had co-led the class of girls before me. Tracy offered her insights and their approach and processes. Their group was small and she led with another mom from that grade.

When I contemplated the best approach for my daughter's grade, I knew that I couldn't contain it to a small size nor did I want to do so. I wanted everyone to be welcome. I had no idea how many would come? But I jumped out there, picked the dates, and created the fliers. I tried to spread the word informally, outside of the school perimeters, and asked the other moms to do the same for me.

And that was my start with God's Girls. I did it because I wanted it to happen and I thought I could manage hosting and attempting to teach those sweet girls for a year. Just to give them a head start for their middle school journey.

But what I intended and what has happened are two very different things. 

I reworked a Bible study I had written and taught, thinking I would "dummy" it down from an audience of women to a group of preteen girls. I wasn't sure how well it would be received or if they would even be interested enough to show up.

Here is what happened.

From the very first gathering in the fall of 2014, my living room was full. Those girls were engaged and enthusiastic and hungry. They were starving for the Word of God and for a greater understanding of who Jesus was. I had thought I might have to convince them to be interested in things of faith. What I never saw coming was that their desire would far exceed my expectations. They were chatty and open and transparent. They were thrilled to gather together, completely comfortable asking hard questions, and far more intelligent and engaged in the whole experience than I could have hoped.

So, yeah, not much "dumbing" down required.

In fact, their questions as we went through our study of Esther were so mind blowing and sincere that decided I needed to chunk the curriculum for the spring and simply guide them through finding the answers to their very big questions. 

The group grew in size. Month after month. While I knew these girls had, for the most part, been together since kindergarten, they seemed to embrace the new girls from their school. Anytime I went up to the school for any reason, I was greeted warmly by a swarm of girls, hugging me, and asking with anticipation, "Is it God's Girls week this week?!"

I expected to drag along a small group who might show up. But they were carrying me on their waves of enthusiasm. 

After we wrapped up our study of Esther in the fall, I used a small box for the girls to submit anonymous questions. These girls didn't want to be spoon fed, as I had anticipated. They were ready for some meat to chew on. I took the questions and tried to teach them how to dig for answers in their own Bibles. I don't want to give them the answers. I want to give them the wisdom to find the answers on their own. We looked at concordances and used online resources. And week after week, the girls asked more and more hard questions. Their interest in spiritual matters would put most adults to shame. 

In fact, when I tossed some of their questions to my brother-in-law who is an associate pastor, he asked, "Are you sure these girls are ten?" 

I went in thinking, "Well, I want my girl to have this thing. So I'll just do it."

It didn't take long for me to be awed by the privilege and honor to be welcomed so warmly into their world. That these girls would share their heartaches and questions and joys and doubts with me, without any pretenses.

One of the moms said it best when she said, "This thing that's been created is something special."

Special indeed. And then, the shocking question that melted me completely.

In the middle of one rather chaotic gathering, as I attempted to keep the chatter to a minimum while I spoke, one of the girls asked loudly over the roar, "Miss Heather, how long are you going to do this?" 

Their fifth grade year was winding down. I thought the God's Girls meetings would, as well.

So I asked them, "How long would you want me to do this?"

They gushed and shouted, "All through middle school! Through high school! Through college!"

Then, "YES! Please! Can we keep meeting together next year?"

Sometimes, you find your place to serve quite intentionally, with much thought and debate and consideration.

And sometimes, your calling finds you and takes you completely by surprise.

That's what God's Girls has done. It's taken me completely by surprise. I've been asked by other moms at other schools if their girls can come, as well.

I've not been sure how to answer that. I never want to leave anyone out. But I also see the merit in these girls gathering with their school mates. I casually mentioned to one mom that I would walk her through starting her own group. It was a spontaneous thought.

But it's why I'm writing today.

It's what I'm eager to see happen, prayerfully asking God to throw open doors for other God's Girls groups. 

Because we live in an information age. We live in a culture that is capturing our kids with a barrage of images and news and videos in real time. We live in an oversexed, over information, over stimulated society. And if we aren't careful and deliberate, our voices might be drowned out by all the noise.

If we aren't careful, God's gentle promptings for our kids might go unnoticed. 

Now more than ever, we need to find ways to be heard by the next generation and to pass on our Biblical values in new and different ways. 

This is primarily the job of parents. We are responsible for the spiritual upbringing of our own kids. 

But we would be fools to not jump on the opportunities when children are hungry for more. We would be foolish to not seize these opportunities and pour into the next generation with as much truth and love as we can offer.

Our God's Girls group has grown so large that I needed a co-leader this year. And listen--for the record--none of it is my doing. I simply showed up and said, "Okay, I guess I can do this." The growth and the camaraderie and the transparency and the pure magic of these gatherings is because of God's goodness to pour out favor where someone just said yes.

And as I see these girls gather, and I see their hungry and eager hearts, I want to tell you a few things. 

First, don't fear for the leadership and potential of the next generation. They are smart and loving and thoughtful and savvy and eager to be led and taught and cherished. 

Second, don't ignore an opportunity. Just don't. As the teen years come and the world calls and their independence sets in, the possibility of being heard might diminish. NOW is the time to seize every chance we can to invest in our children and their peers. To help shape their outlook and their perspective and their worldview by continually bringing it all back to the Word of God as their guidebook. 

Third, it only takes your availability. Really, that's it. There is nothing special about me. I just said yes, picked some dates and said y'all come. Sometimes, the chatter is so loud and constant and even my "talking stick" technique does not stop them all from talking at once, even if they aren't holding the talking stick. But if nothing else happens, if they don't memorize the verses we are working on, or really hear the lesson, they have gathered in the name of Jesus where they were greeted warmly. 

On the Friday before last, we had our first gathering of their sixth grade year. And 17 girls filled up my living room. My heart clenched with the joy of it. That I just said, "why not?" And these girls have invited me into their worlds. I looked around and I saw world changers. I saw future doctors and lawyer and teachers and moms and missionaries. And I wondered of the ripple effects. I saw a glimpse of the massive potential outcomes.

When we put our yes into the hands of our very big God.

What if other moms took up the mantle and accepted the challenge? To just invite their daughter and her peers to come together? You don't have to be a Bible teacher. Or a teacher at all. In fact, I will hold your hand through every step of it. I will guide you on how to get started and I will supply you with all you need to do, even offering the lessons we are doing in our group. You can follow along. 

What if? Just what if a whole generation of young girls were caught at these moments of openness in their childhood and they were gathered to point them toward Jesus? It's not even complicated. It's just creating a community where they are centered on the Bible. It's being willing to let them ask hard questions and to share their concerns. It's loving on them and being loved on by them.

And it's unleashing them to go and do and to be world changers in their own little worlds. This year, our God's Girls aren't just working through a Bible study book. No, we are ramping it up a notch. Because they are capable of so much more. So we are tackling ideas on how to reach out to others. The girls are brainstorming and we are putting their ideas into action. First up, we are reaching out to a girl their age who has leukemia. 

I can't even imagine the collective power of these girls and what they might accomplish. If we, as their mentors, will simply say a yes.

A yes to gather them. A yes to listen. A yes to teach. A yes to empower and equip them to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their own middle schools.

That you would check your heart and dare to say yes. That the girls you know would be prayed over and then gathered. And then God would be invited in to direct and lead and change and transform.

It could be a God's Girls Revolution. Won't you be a part of it?

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