Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Is In The Books!

What an AWESOME 2011 we have had in Girls Ministry at FBC Cleveland! It has been non-stop fun, non-stop discipleship, non-stop for His glory! Just as it should be! I've said it before and I'll shout it again, y'all just don't realize a fraction of how blessed we are! We have some of the BEST Adult leaders I've seen anywhere and I tell you the fun, the ministry, the teaching, the growing, the fellowship...it couldn't happen unless god-fearing ladies like the ones we have sacrificed their time and energy to pour in our girls! They LOVE you and they have an overwhelming, deep desire to see you grow in your walk with Christ and in your obedience and love for Him. Yes, we are blessed!

This year we have gone through FOUR awesome topics through our middle school and high school 411 events. We've delved into God's Word to learn about how to be more obedient in our Time Management, Speech, Attitude, and in having a Teachable Spirit. In addition, each 411 the girls enjoyed fellowship and craft time too! We've made "to-do" list plaques, flower bracelets, framed calendars, and tie-knot blankets for our nursing home friends!

Plus more! We took 43 lady leaders and girls to Nashville for a Girls Leadership Retreat (which we are heading to again February 2012 - Sign-up Now!). We had TWO Mother/Daughter Relationship-Building events, one in which we simulcasted Vicki Courtney, author of 5 Conversations to Have with Your Daughter which was awesome! And also hosted Sarah Bragg, author of Body. Beauty. Boys, who spoke on growing better communication skills during these adolescent years. Another huge adventure was our first Girls Ministry State-side Mission Trip. We took 30 girls to Athens, GA to help out Classic City Community Church, a church plant that is rockin' it in Athens! We handed out invitations to worship at CCCC at the UGA football game, planted flowers and panted the youth room, and also fed the homeless with the PB & J Ministry! It was a life changing weekend for many of our girls!

Also we have had three service days! Over 200 hours spent sewing curtains for the Haiti Mission Home, loving on girls at the TN Baptist Children's Home, and hugging our elderly friends at area Nursing Homes! It's been awesome watching our FBC girls focus on others and deepen their understanding on what it means to place Christ and others before themselves. In addition (and not included in those hours) MANY of our girls volunteered with the Pure In Heart Girls Conference sponsored by our FBC Children's Ministry! I love that our girls love to serve!

We finished this year in style with a Christmas Party at the YMCA. From enjoying "Tacos in a Bag" to our 3rd Annual Clothes & Accessories DIG, the girls had a blast! They also decorated cookies, wrapped presents, and made Christmas cards for our next day Nursing Home visits where we brought Christmas cheer, carols, crafts and games to our elderly friends. Check out our Girls Ministry Facebook Album for lots of picture fun!

Whew! Indeed, it's been an awesome year (and this is just a brief re-cap)! Awe-some in that we have been overwhelmed and "in awe" of our Lord and Savior. He has provided greatly, showered blessings unwaveringly, and I believe received great honor and glory in it all. All of this just makes me SO excited for 2012 and I hope you are just as excited!

Below is our 2012 Spring Calendar! I encourage you to stay connected through our Girls Ministry Facebook Page too!
See you in 2012!

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Guest Blogger: Megan Simpson on Having a Teachable Spirit!

Hi Girls!

Our last 411 of 2011 was on having a "Teachable" spirit, using Mary Kassian's book, "Girls Gone Wise and in a World Gone Wild". Mrs. Tammy Holt spoke to our Middle School Girls and Mrs. Megan Simpson spoke to our High School Girls! Quite honestly, I feel as this is one of the most vital characteristics a woman (of any age) can have. If you have a teachable spirit then you are able to grow in your walk with the Lord and well, in life in general. It's the prideful, stubborn, arrogant ones that will never reap the growth and fruit that is available if they will just open themselves to learning from God's Word, from godly mentors, and hearing and applying "tough love" sometimes. I asked Megan Simpson (who also teaches our Senior girls Sunday School and is our youth pastor, Derek Simpson's wife) to be our guest blogger this week! I LOVE the practical advice she gives here on what it means to have a teachable spirit and how to seek after one!

Thank you, Megan!

"It was such a privilege to be able to speak at the last 411. I appreciate all of you who took time out of your busy schedules to come fellowship with one another, learn from God’s word, and make some blankets for people in nursing homes! Suzanne does such a great job putting these events together, and I am glad that you are taking advantage of them!

I love God’s word and what it has to say to us about having a teachable heart. Proverbs has so much to say about being a wise woman! When it comes to teachability, a wise woman is eager to grow, and welcomes correction and training! A foolish woman thinks she knows it all and resists change. Proverbs 1 describes three people who refuse to be wise: the Simple, the Fool, and the Scoffer. I deeply desire to be a wise woman, and if you do too, it is important that we recognize tendencies in ourselves that are characteristic of these unwise individuals, and transform our minds and lives to line up with what God’s will is for our lives!

The Simple person is uninformed. She likes not having to think about serious things. She lacks sense, and doesn’t clearly understand the consequences of her actions. In Proverbs 14:15 the Bible says that she fails to give thought to her steps. She is simply content to stay where she is at, and does not have any motivation to grow or become wise. If she is not careful this kind of person can quickly become a fool. The Bible depicts the Fool as being someone who is unconcerned and opinionated. Her way is right in her own eyes. She despises instructions, especially from parents and authority figures. She is complacent. If she is not careful, she could quickly become a Scoffer. A Scoffer is proud and arrogant. She is her own god. She doesn’t care what wise people say, and hates those who say she’s wrong.

Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” This verse gives us two very practical principles of what a wise woman looks like. The first is that we must have a right view of God so that we can have a right view of ourselves. This needs to be our starting place when approaching the subject of teachability. Knowing who God is, and fearing Him is our appropriate response. Mary Kassian in her book Girls Gone Wise says, “The fear of God is a heart-pounding, knee-trembling, spine-tingling, shuddering recognition that God is infinitely more good, powerful, and important that I.” If we desire to grow in wisdom, we must obey and follow him because he is the ultimate source of wisdom. As a woman wanting to be wise, be determined to learn His ways. Eagerly study the Word! Meditate on it day and night. During sermons and other Bible teachings have a pen and notebook ready to take notes! Be intentional, and not complacent about growing in wisdom and knowledge of the Lord!

The second principle we can see from this verse is that because fools despise wisdom and instruction, if we want to be wise we will welcome and love wisdom and instruction. We must be willing to humble ourselves, listen, and seek out advice from others. As young women, seek out the advice of your parents, teachers, and wiser, older people who are in a different life stage than you. Surround yourselves with godly older women who love you and will help you grow. Seek out your Sunday school teacher or another godly mentor, and do life with them. Learn from the failure of others. Don’t be quick to give advice, and think you know it all. It is always better to err on the side of not saying something, rather than constantly running your mouth! Give special attention to people who are willing to make a special effort to lovingly correct you.

Having a teachable heart is something that we all have to work at, yet I think it is one of the most critical mindsets that will help us to turn from our simple, foolish ways to becoming wise. We must humble ourselves, and determine that we will be women who fear the Lord and love wisdom and instruction!"

Check out more 411 picture fun on our Girls Ministry Facebook page!

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Ashley Heald, Guest Blogger: The Girls Ministry Service Day

On October 29th, 2011 we went to the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home in Chattanooga, Tennessee to minister to girls who live in foster homes. We set up different tables of activities such as cookie making, journal making, ornament making, and fingernail painting to keep us busy while we talked. When the girls got there, we mingled throughout the tables and got to know each other over sparkly cookie gel and orange fingernail paint. The girls were just as friendly as we were, and we all had a great time together. It wasn't long before it was time to leave, so we said our good-bye's and packed up.

I think the biggest thing we all learned was that kids who live in foster homes are just like us but need a little more love, and they shouldn't be treated any differently. In the end, we made a lot of friends, and I hope everyone had as much fun as I did.

- Ashley Heald, 11th grader

Check out more pictures from the Girls Ministry Service Day on our Girls Ministry Facebook Page!

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

As You Are Going...2011 Girls Missions Retreat Part 3, Final Post

Hello! Hello!

I sure hope you have enjoyed this blog series and hopefully have been able to feel like you were apart of the weekend in a small way! It really was such a sweet time with our girls and proved yet again what can happen when girls get together, worship together, learn together, serve together, and fellowship together. Simply put, it’s just a different vibe and a lot more freedom to just be themselves rather than with the distraction of boys.

In the Part 1 and Part 2 of this series I’ve shared a lot about the growing that we did throughout the weekend through the messages that were brought by some pretty amazing women. In this post I want to tell you about the serving, sharing and loving that we did. Also, I am excited to share a few testimonials from girls that went!

Friday Night after our pizza party and message from Carla Sibley, the girls got right to work! Saturday we were planning to hand out informational ink pens and business card size invitations for Athens patrons to join us for church on Sunday at Classic City Community Church, the church plant we had come to serve. The girls stuffed all the cards up in the pens on Friday night and sorted them in to 4 groups. We were planning to hand out over 1300 pens/invitations and we did just that!

Saturday was great fun! The girls got to see the beauty of North Campus at UGA, the excitement of a football Saturday in Athens and be a light in what can be a spiritually dark day. This was a game changing activity for most of our girls. While it seemed simple to hand out a pen and business card to pedestrians, it really took the girls out of their comfort zone. This turned out to be a great skill building activity for our girls on how to talk to people you don’t know. How to step out on faith and how to start a conversation with a stranger. A great first step to also sharing the Gospel.

Once the game started (and a quick photo session at the UGA arch!) we headed back to the house, ate lunch, and prepped for an afternoon of yard work, cleaning, and painting. We really wanted to bless Classic City Community Church and their brand new facility. The girls planted flowers, cleaned the porches, dusted, and painted the youth area in the house attic! Such a great time working together for His glory!

That night we definitely kicked back and enjoyed fellowship with one another. We ate well at Allen’s (a landmark restaurant in Athens) and ended the night with games, an ice cream party and some sweet share time from each of the girls. Open, honest, and at times tearful share times like this was made possible because, well, it was just the girls.

Sunday we packed up and headed to Clark Central High School to help set up for church and then to worship as well. With 30 extra hands available we were able to reorganized their entire storage room, restock all the chair info pouches in the auditorium, and clean all of the kids and infant toys. After an awesome service and message from Lee Mason, we headed for our last project: Athens PB & J Ministry.

The Athen’s PB & J Ministry project was awesome! The girls made PB & J sandwiches and we packed lunches for 100 people (including ourselves) full of lots of goodies. After eating a quick bite ourselves we headed to downtown Athens and mingled with other volunteers and many folks that were homeless. The girls heard lots of stories that I know will impact them and their future ministry. There were two great takeaways from this project. One, it took our girls out of their comfort zone again. They had to initiate conversation and be intentional. sweetest thing was seeing our girls initiate prayer with some of the homeless. No one told them to do this, they just saw the need and did it!. Second, it was amazing to see college students leading and running a ministry on their own. College students often get a bad rap for being lazy or into partying, but here our girls got to see students for Christ that were living it out passionately. Something you might not have expected from a secular University, but something that definitely exists and amongst a lot of students!

While I know this post has gotten a bit long, I still really want to share a couple testimonials from a few of the girls that went...

“I think for me it was just a reminder for the need of constant fellowship with other girl believers. God is really doing a great work in our youth group amongst the girls. It was a true blessing to experience the camaraderie amongst our girls. We really need godly girls in our lives and I'm truly blessed by every one on the trip. I love you all and would be delighted to do anything I can for you!” – Jami Gibson, 12th grader

"I learned how to dive deeper into His Word and do more than just read. It was incredible to see what God could do when us girls shared with each other in our debriefing session. That was probably one of the most eye-opening moments in my life. I loved learning from some of the older girls too. I will never forget that weekend! It was truly an amazing opportunity, and I am so thankful that you made it possible, Miss Suzanne.” – Mariah Voytik, 8th grader

“I learned a lot about the power of when daughters of The Lord come together and how powerful it is doing what he calls us to do. I am so proud of all the pens we handed out, it got me out of my comfort zone and it was rewarding Sunday at church. It also gave girls who didn't know each other the opportunity to start a lasting friendship and to build on friendships that already existed. I loved that weekend!!! :)” – Sara Morgan, 12th grader

"My favorite part of the mission trip was handing out pens because I got to see all of these people accept a card and maybe come to church. I also realized that you can be the youngest one there and still make a difference. If you have never been on a mission trip I would love for you to go on one because they are more fun than you think!!" - Carly Buckner, 6th grader
It's kinda hard to just write a few sentences... But I learned that God speaks through people in so many different situations. That was my first mission trip and it changed my life forever. I learned that our God is Forgiving and he wants us to trust Him through everything. I am so blessed to have an amazing mentor/chaplain in my life :) thanks Suzanne!” – Monica Patke, 12th grader

“The 53 hours shared on the girls retreat completely exceeded my expectations. Although the service projects were important, my main takeaways came from the messages. The message Friday evening from Suzanne’s college mentor, Carla Sibley, challenged us to dig deeply into God’s Word and to find a faithful follower and follow her. Choosing wisely, seeking Godly mentors and pursuing them, while giving them grace to make mistakes resounded with me. Personally, it was a bonus to spend time with and minister to my dear Iowa college friend, Lisa Mason and her family this weekend. Lisa clearly spoke the truth that apart from God we can do nothing. Her passion for Jesus and love for all of our girls was absolutely amazing. The worship service at Classic City Community Church was filled with passion and authenticity. Lee Mason preached a powerful message on the internal nature of holiness, to get the boundaries in our soul to rule our hearts. Indeed, grace is the dirt that the beautiful fruitful plants grow out of. Taking the Lord’s Supper with our girls ministry team was deeply meaningful and inaugural for some. Our team was exposed to UGA college students who worshipped with their lives and stepped out to make a difference. We all caught a vision of a higher calling to pursue… as we are going.” – Gina Allison, Sunday School teacher and one of the trip chaperones

I’d love for you to add a comment too! Whether you went on the trip and want to add a testimony or you didn’t get to go but have learned something from this series, I would love to hear from you!

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PS - Check out pictures from the entire weekend on our Girls Ministry Facebook Page!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

As You Are Going...2011 Girls Missions Retreat Part 2


Welcome to Part 2 in this three part series covering our Girls Missions Retreat this month! As mentioned in the previous post the theme and purpose of this weekend was to stir up an understanding of Life Ministry…a mentality of doing ministry “as you are going” rather than through planned events or programs. It’s a mentality of understanding that your walk with the Lord is just that: yours! You, and only you, are responsible for your spiritual growth, for being obedient to the Lord’s calling on you to pray, meditate on His scripture, to share the Gospel, to serve others, to love. No one can do these things for you, nor should you want them to, as these are reactions only you can have to knowing your personal Savior and Lord. However, you aren’t alone! There are so many people and resources available to help you on your journey…and this weekend’s retreat reflected on those!

In Part 1 of this series I introduced two women of faith (Carla Sibley & Lisa Mason) that joined us through the weekend and shared Biblical Truth and life application on this very subject. Click Here to learn more about them. Carla Sibley, my college mentor and the senior pastor's wife at Watkinsville First Baptist Church, spoke on the responsibility (and privilege) as children of God to be growing ourselves spiritually and challenged us in two areas:

1) Dive Deeply into Divine Depths

a. An integral part of growing is studying and knowing the Word of God and passing on His Word to others.

b. Scripture to check out: Deuteronomy 6:4, 1 Peter 2:2, Matthew 5:7 & 6:16, Isaiah 45

c. When reading God Word, go beyond just skimming the words and ask yourself three questions:

1) What are the facts? What is the author saying?

2) What do these facts mean? Write it in your own words.

3) How can I apply this to my life? Is there sin to avoid? A promise to claim? An example to follow? A command to act on? (SPEC).

2) Find a Faithful Follower and Follow her

a. Choose who you follow wisely. Use the word to prove her not the world. Don’t be distracted just by style, popularity, smooth words. Find someone that passionate about God’s Word and who is still growing herself. Make sure she is at least a couple “seasons of life” ahead of you.

b. Follow Hard. Get to it! Don’t assume that you have all the time in the world with this person. Don’t waste your time, you may only have her for a season. (**This is so true! I only sat at Carla’s feet for the few years I was in college. While I made sure to find a new mentor during different seasons, my time with Carla was fairly brief and I wanted to soak up as much of her wisdom as I could!)

c. Give Grace! Remember that you are not following a perfect person (there is no such thing!). Be ready to extend her grace when needed and not so quick to run. You will learn far more if you stick around and learn how she also handles her mistakes.

Saturday morning, Lisa Mason, who was Gina Allison’s college mentor and the Director of Women's Ministry at Classic City Community Church, spoke on serving and loving others as we are going. She shared that we don’t need to have special event planned or sign up for a mission trip in order to serve others and share the Gospel. There are PLENTY of opportunities right now, right where we are…as we are living life. She has three great questions:

1) Who are you touching as you are going?

2) Where are you stopping along your journey and why are you stopping?

3) How are you moving forward?

Lisa also spoke some great truth, reminding the girls that:

1) It doesn’t matter where you are doing as long as you go with Christ

2) God is more concerned about who you are on the inside as that will what is expressed on the outside.

3) It is not about what we do or don’t do, it’s about who He is in you. Are you glorifying God or not?

Lisa really drove it home with this final charge: As believers we are to honor Christ by growing spiritually, living authentically, and participating in His purposes. It’s a choice we make but if we don’t make it we can’t expect to know Christ deeper and be used by Him.

So thankful for these precious ladies that shared such applicable truths with us this weekend. Truths we ALL need to look toward and apply to our life every single day. If we take away anything from this weekend, remember this: YOU are responsible for your spiritual growth (ie: putting yourself in position to grow). This means being obedient and faithful to personal time in the Word and prayer, showing up for opportunities to grow like Sunday School, Youth Group, and other events, it’s sharing the Gospel, serving others, and it's putting yourself at the feet of people who are spiritually more mature and can pour into you…just as Paul mentored Timothy.

Who is your Paul? Will you pray this week about seeking a godly, older woman out to mentor you?

Check back later this week for Part 3 in this series. I’ll be recapping some of the activities and service projects we did as well as sharing some thoughts about the weekend from the girls that attended! Don’t forget pictures from the weekend are on our Girls Ministry Facebook Page!

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