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.
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!