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Book Review: Into the Deep

The message of Into The Deep could be summarized in this quote:

 

“Following Jesus doesn’t guarantee sunny skies and smooth sailing.”

 

Into the Deep, written by Lauren Gaskill, is not just well written, organized, strongly themed, and easy to follow. It’s a new approach to Christian living–or if not new, better. Gaskill’s book divides between two crucial parts of the faith journey: choosing to trust in Jesus, and choosing to live for Jesus.

 

The part about choosing to live for Jesus really spoke to me.

 

Where I live, stories about “how God turned me around” and “how God changed my life” run rampant. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with a testimony of how one got saved, sometimes leaning on this perspective of Christianity limits us.

 

The truth is, Christianity isn’t just a quick fix to solve our depression, relationship problems, and selfishness. Christianity isn’t just that part where God lifted you up when you hit rock bottom. Christianity is living with God every day–swimming with Jesus–even when the skies aren’t sunny and the sailing isn’t smooth.

 

It is those parts of our journey, Lauren says, that truly deepen our faith. Deep waters require deep faith.

 

I can’t describe how this book strengthened and encouraged me, but I would definitely give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars and I’m looking forward to sharing it with my friends. Whether you’re in a dark time or looking to deepen your faith, this book is for you.

 

This book is not a checklist of “do this, do that and you’re set!” Rather, it’s something to lean on–a source of strength. A reminder that you’re not alone, and God is there, because that message is always true.

 

Written and reviewed by Priscilla Doran

 

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Three Surefire Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

It’s January.

It’s cold.

It’s raining.

(At least it is here at Girlz 4 Christ headquarters in the beautiful PNW.)

Let’s face it–for many of us, January is the month where we find ourselves in a bit of a mood slump. We say goodbye to the beauty and magic of the holiday season, and welcome in a month of…nothingness. If you’re like me, January seems to stretch on endlessly, with NOTHING fun on the horizon.

But I’m here to say…let’s change that! Let’s plan something fun for the weekend that will give us something to look forward to and help us beat the winter blues.

 

1.) Spa Day In!

Who doesn’t love a good manicure, pedicure, or facial? Even if you’re on a budget, you can easily recreate a relaxing spa experience in the comfort of your own home. Invite a few of your best girlfriends or make the day all about you! Either way, you’ll find yourself feeling recharged and refreshed.

Find a soothing, spa-like instrumental playlist online, and light a candle or two before giving yourself–and maybe a friend or two–the works. Trying to save money? There are plenty of recipes online for inventive and inexpensive face masks that you can make with a few basic ingredients found in your kitchen. Even the simplest brand of lotion can feel positively luxurious if you spread it on while giving your hands a mini-massage.

If you’re feeling really fancy, break out a robe and slippers and read a new book or magazine while you let your mask set or your polish dry. Make a day of it by brewing a pot of herbal tea or making a jug of fruit-flavored spa water. You could even buy a few healthy snacks (think fresh fruits, trail mix, or veggie sticks and hummus) to munch on in between treatments.

Most of all, focus on relaxing and recharging–it’s important for your inner beauty as well as for your outside appearance.

 

2.) Cooking Competition

It’s tough to shy away from a challenge…especially one that promises to yield delicious results! Grab a friend or two and set a timer–may the best dish win! There are several different challenges you can participate in, or you could come up with one of your own!

  • Grocery Store Showdown: If you’re looking for a good reason to get out of the house, then this one is for you! Head to the closest grocery store and give yourself a set amount of time in which you can shop for ingredients for your meal, then throw in a twist. Maybe you can only buy ingredients that start with a certain letter. Maybe you can only shop in the even-numbered aisles (or vice versa). Or set a budget: no more than $10–or $20 if you’re feeling generous! Then race back home and set another timer before you start cooking. Ready, set, GO!
  • Pantry Powwow: This time, there’s no trip to the grocery store to help you out. Everything in your pantry is fair game…but that’s it. Missing a key ingredient? You’ll have to improvise! Make sure to set a tight time limit to heighten the tension.
  • Mystery Ingredients: Invite your friends and ask each of them to each bring a “secret ingredient” (make sure you have one too!) then put them all together and unveil them, like on a TV cooking show. Divide into teams, work together, or go mono e mono. May the best chef win.

 

3.) Make it Bookish

Gather a group of friends who enjoy reading and read the same book. When you’re done,  meet together and discuss the story. Sound too much like a book club? Add an element of the extraordinary by challenging everyone to come dressed as their favorite character. When you meet, prepare a meal or snack mentioned in the book–or get creative and come up with your own menu! You could even try your hand at an activity described in the story. If there’s a movie version of the book, turn it into a movie night complete with PJ’s and popcorn. Below are a few books that Girlz 4 Christ suggests:

  • Porch Swing Girl, by Taylor Bennett (Contemporary Christian YA with a summery setting on the beach in Hawaii!)
  • Roomsby James L. Rubart (A breakout speculative Christian fiction novel with a BIG twist at the end.)
  • The Tethered World by Heather L. L. Fitzgerald (A book–the first in a series–filled with fantasy and flights of fancy, all written from a Christian worldview.)

 

We hope one of these ideas sparked something in you…here’s to surviving the rest of the winter with NO MORE boring weekends! Have any more ideas to add to this list? Drop them in the comments.

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More with Marjorie Jackson

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Three-time young author Marjorie Jackson recently released The Devoted Life, a devotional journal that she both wrote and illustrated. Hopefully, you’ve had the chance to read her interview in the Winter 2019 issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. We had a few more questions to ask Marjorie, so here’s a little more insight into her life:

Q: Many of our readers want to know more about the process of becoming an author. Tell us about your experience.

My experience of becoming an author and landing a publishing deal is such an only-God kind of story that I can’t really explain much of how it actually happened. The Lord literally opened doors and put me in contact with the right people in ways that I could not have done on my own. I give Him full credit for this opportunity, and I am so, so grateful.

I have always loved creative writing (note the distinction—I can’t stand technical, research writing!). The cliché “practice makes perfect” holds true, and while my writing is far from perfect, I’ve grown up journaling, writing creative short stories, little devotional blurbs, and imagining ways to share God’s Word in an engaging, simplified manner to people my age. It’s been a passion of mine for a while. That would be my best advice: find those passions that God has given you and then do something about them. Use your talents to get behind whatever message God is putting on your heart. I don’t know what that looks like in your life, but in mine, that has looked like using my love of written, verbal, and visual communication to share God’s Word with my peers—let God get all the glory in that. A surrendered “yes” to the Lord’s plans for your life will often lead you towards places and opportunities you’d never imagine!

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Q: You seem to have such a positive outlook on life. Your Instagram is full of you smiling in just about any situation! Why?

While I am a firm believer that social media is not a great gauge of knowing what someone’s life is actually like (it is, after all, just a highlight reel), I would attribute the positivity and joy in my life to the fact that there is always hope. Even when life throws unexpected disappointments or challenges our way, as it often does, we have innumerable blessings to count as we reflect on who Christ is, the people He has strategically positioned in our lives, and the favor He has resting upon us. One of my favorite passages of Scripture to cling to is Psalm 16. As the psalm talks about, I want my confidence and any good in my life to be rooted in God—anything or anyone else is too shaky and fickle to put full trust in. Also, I fill my life with a lot of laughter and surround myself with a lot of fun, spontaneous, positive people. Life is too short to be down for too long. 🙂

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Read more in Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. Click here to snag a free subscription!

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12 Christmas Gifts You Won’t Find in a Department Store

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a partridge in a pear tree?!

What a gift! Obviously, after spending all of their money on leaping lords, swimming swans, and golden rings, the singer’s true love ran out of ideas. Or money. Or both. After all, how hard is it to catch a bird and stick it in a tree?

All joking aside, it’s hard to find that special something for that special someone during the holidays. Somehow, even four-story department stores seem to be bereft of that perfect gift. Which is why we’re here with twelve of our OWN gift ideas–there’s sure to be something that will spark your gift-giving creativity. (And we can guarantee that there aren’t any birds, milkmaids, or leaping lords involved)

 

1. Date Night in a Box

Treat your parents or another couple you know to a ready-made date-night, complete with tickets to a show or a restaurant gift card, a sheet of fun couples’ conversations starters, a box of chocolates, and a coupon for free babysitting while they’re out on the town!

2. Recycled, Upcycled, or Vintage

Sometimes a trip to the thrift store can be even more fruitful than a trip to the North Pole itself. If you’re searching for a unique piece of home decor or a quirky, one-of-a-kind fashion accessory, antique or thrift stores might be your answer. Be creative and see everything for what it could be–maybe that cracked teacup won’t ever hold a drop of water again, but it could make a great planter for a succulent plant!

3. Gifts That Keep Giving

Purchase a magazine subscription, or splurge on a “subscription box” that suits the recipient’s tastes. Maybe they’re a foodie and would appreciate new inspiration from either a cooking mag or “foodie box” filled with unique snacks and treats from around the world. Maybe they want to grow in their faith and would appreciate a subscription to a faith-based magazine (G4C might fit the bill!) or a box filled with items that would inspire them in their walk with God.

4. Coupon Book

It’s one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give…and it’s free! Create a booklet of coupons–give your mom certificates for neck or shoulder massages, offer your brother a free room cleaning, or guarantee Dad you’ll help him get the Christmas decorations stored back in the attic–no grumbling! Your coupon booklets can be as small or as extensive as you want, and you can get creative with hand lettering or a word processor to create a gift that perfectly fits its recipient.

5. Movie Night in a Box

Who doesn’t love a trip to the movies? But instead of giving someone a gift card to the local theater, gift them a box filled with everything they need for the perfect at-home movie night. You can go simple, with just a DVD, bag of popcorn, and movie candy or you can make it more elaborate with cozy blankets and movie-related merchandise.

6. Write Now

Find a fill-in-the-blank book that you can use to tell your BFF how much you appreciate her, compile a binder of your family’s favorite secret recipes, or pen a poem to tell someone how much you appreciate them. Few things are as powerful as the written word…put it to good use this Christmas and watch as your carefully penned sentiments touch the hearts of those around you

7. Spa in a Jar

Gift your mom, sister, aunt, or girlfriends with the ultimate spa-day-in-a-jar. Stuff a wide-mouth mason jar with nail polish, a face mask, mini bottles of soap and lotion, bath bombs, and anything else that speaks spa–don’t forget a gourmet truffle for recipients to munch on while they’re pampering themselves.

8. Sports Star

Surprise your sports-loving pals with a piece of their favorite team’s merchandise (shirt, cap, poster, etc.) AND make their day with an invitation to an at-home tailgate the next time their team’s game is broadcasted on TV. When it’s party time, offer a few plates of snacks, plenty of comfy seats, and an opportunity for the two of you (and even others!) to bond over sports…let’s hope you both root for the same team! 😉

9. Christmas!

While it might seem strange, Christmas decorations can sometimes make the perfect gift for that Christmas-loving friend of yours. Fill a box with fun and quirky ornaments for them to hang on the tree next year, or gift them that adorable Christmas mug they’ve been eying…you can never have too much holiday cheer!

10. Study Buddy

Make sure your friends are well-prepared to go back to school after the holiday with a school survival kit complete with novelty erasers, a notebook or planner with a cute cover, study snacks, and (if applicable) a coupon for a study session. Make going back to school after Christmas vacation just that much more bearable 😉

11. Encourage a Hobby

A new set of drawing pencils, a colorful skein of yarn, or anything else that will get someone’s creative juices flowing are always appreciated. Know someone who’s on the hunt for a new hobby to pursue or an unusual art form to try? Get them a DIY kit that will teach them the basics of needle felting, paper quilling, or bead making.

12. YOU

Sometimes the best gift you can offer others is simply yourself! Make a promise to spend time with someone special–offer to pack a picnic, plan a girls’ day out, or take your younger siblings to the water park. So many gifts can get broken, eaten, or lost under a bed, but memories of good times spent with a special person will never fade.

 

Do you have any more ideas for creative and heartfelt gifts? If so, drop them in the comments!

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Summer Cover Reveal with Teen Author Taylor Bennett

If you follow us on Instagram, you know that we planned a cover reveal for the Summer 2018 issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine this past weekend. While we always enjoy cover reveals, this one was extra special because the covergirl herself got to reveal this one!

First time editor Jessica Lippe met author Taylor Bennett. Notice our incredibly fashionable Hawaiian garb!

I (editor Jessica Lippe) first met Taylor Bennett through Facebook, but when I learned she lived less than two hours away from me, I knew we needed to meet in person. That happened last month when I did a live interview with Taylor. Since then, her debut novel Porch Swing Girl was released. With that came a book release party planned for this past weekend. I happened to be planning a weekend retreat just north of her hometown, so I confirmed it for the same weekend so that I could stop by Taylor’s party on the way home.

Porch Swing Girl released this month. Check out our review in the next issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine!

Taylor Bennett is a published author at the ripe old age of 17, and has a contract to write two more books. I felt that her story was inspirational enough to share with girls all around the world, which is why she was chosen as the summer 2018 covergirl of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. I also asked our assistant editor and cover designer, Lily Garay, if we could make the cover a priority so that it could be completed last week before I left on my trip.

Jessica and Taylor revealing the Summer 2018 issue at the Porch Swing Girl release party.

Upon arriving at Taylor’s church the day of her book release party, we enjoyed the Hawaiian decorations and food that matched the setting of Porch Swing Girl. Taylor Bennett was busy signing books for all the guests, but we did get the opportunity for a quick chat. I handed her an envelope, which when opened revealed a frame with the Girlz 4 Christ Summer 2018 cover.

I hope you check out Taylor Bennett’s interview and more in the next edition of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine, which releases in just one month! If you aren’t subscribed yet, what are you waiting for? Get a free digital subscription by clicking here.

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CONTEST! The Rebellion and Your Summer Reading List

It’s May! This is my favorite month of the year for so many reasons. The weather warms up to the perfect temperature for hiking, camping, and adventuring. Flowers bloom, sun shines, schools wrap up their year, and my birthday is celebrated, too! This year, May seems extra special because there are so many great books releasing for Christian girls.

We are super excited to give you a plethora of ideas for your summer reading list in the next issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. (If you haven’t done so yet, snag a free subscription!) But if you want to get a jumpstart, here are some new books to read this month:

  • Girl Defined ministry leaders and authors Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird just released their second book, Love Defined, about having thr right heart to pursue godly relationships with boys.
  • Seventeen-year-old Taylor Bennett is a newly minted author with the publishing of her novel Porch Swing Girl, about a girl who’s trapped on an island with another girl with a secret.
  • Later this month, you’ll start hearing more about soul surfer Bethany Hamilton’s new film Unstoppable, as well as her inspirational companion photo book Be Unstoppable.
  • And next week, Livy Jarmusch is dropping her newest installation in her Tales or Tarsurella series, The Rebellion.

Livy Jarmusch is a twenty-something author, singer, and songwriter. She enjoys crafting YA fiction that is pure, lovely, inspirational, and of course, entertaining! When she’s not writing, you can usually find her playing guitar, blogging, drinking peppermint tea, connecting with new friends, planning her next trip to Disney, or pinning images of Europe and Golden Retriever Puppies. Come connect at http://www.livylynnblog.com.

The Rebellion is the sequel to The Coronation. Need to catch up in the series? Author Livy Lynn Jarmusch has offered to autograph a copy of The Coronation to the winner of this contest. There are several ways you can enter, and entries will only take a few seconds of your time.

Click here to enter the giveaway!

What books are you most excited to read this month?

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Spring 2018 is Here!

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Spring has sprung! That means a new exciting issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine has arrived!

Here are just a sample of what you’ll find:

-Exclusive interview with Sadie Robertson about how to live fearless

-Practical ways to live out your faith, in areas like finances, workouts, and dreams

-A puzzle-in-a-story that could win you a prize!

-Redesigned interior! Enjoy the new layout

Not a Girlz 4 Christ subscriber? If you sign up now, you’ll immediately receive a digital copy in your email once you confirm! And subscriptions are 100% FREE! Click here to subscribe.

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Singles Awareness Day? They Were Single Too!

I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day, a holiday known for excluding singles while couples display lovey-dovey acts. I myself am single. No husband, no boyfriend. But this Valentine’s Day, I don’t feel alone. Maybe it’s because I know a lot of other single people now. They’re right in the Bible.

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They Were Single Too features eight chapters, each outlining a single person from the Bible and explains what we can learn from their lives. One of the chapters is about Anna. I remember when I first read her story in the book of Luke. I was working at a camp as a teen and was so excited about it, I texted the girls’ dean and asked if we could learn about her at that night’s Bible study. She liked that idea, but I learned even more from reading her profile in They Were Single Too. Author David M. Hoffeditz delves deeper into explaining what singleness and the lifestyles of these people meant in relation to their culture and time period, and how that can personally translate to my life today.

I would recommend They Were Single Too to singles of any age and circumstance. Maybe even married people should read it, because understanding each other diminishes the “us vs. them” mentality. Reading this book would be a great way to spend your Singles Awareness Day. Here are a few other Valentine-less ideas:

  • Watch a movie on PureFlix, which has a host of clean movies and shows in different genres. Whether you want a romantic flick or nothing of the sort, you’ll find something here. (You can even watch God’s Not Dead 2 before the next movie comes out!) Click here for a free month of PureFlix streaming!
  • Make a fun dinner and have some friends over.
  • Go shopping! Just because no one’s giving you a cheesy gift doesn’t mean you can’t treat yo’self. (And you can earn cash back when you shop online with Swagbucks!)
  • If you have a job, offer to cover an extra shift. You probably have a coworker who would love the night off for Valentine’s Day. You’ll make some extra money and be too busy to wallow in self-pity.
  • Listen to an audio sermon from your church or by another pastor. Since Valentine’s Day lines up with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent this year, it’s a good reminder to keep focused on loving God.

A copy of They Were Single Too was provided by Kregel Publications for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was made. Links may be from affiliates, which will help our ministry while offering positive deals for you. 

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She’s Got the Wrong Guy

A few weeks ago, I did a series of polls using Girlz 4 Christ’s Instagram stories. All of them were about relationships. Presumably, most of our Instagram followers would consider themselves Christians, so I asked questions surrounding that idea, from hotly-debated topics such as “Do you prefer dating or courting?”, to what I thought would be unanimous questions like “Would you ever consider dating a non-Christian?” I assumed just about everyone would vote “no” for that last question, but boy was I wrong!

Just as I was wrong about the poll results, some girls get caught up in the wrong relationship with the wrong guy. It may be because that guy’s not a Christian (which about 10% of our female Christian voters would at least entertain the idea of going out with a guy like this), or may be some other negative situation, like he’s controlling or encouraging you to get physical.

Then I got a copy of She’s Got the Wrong Guy.

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As it turns out, lots of Christian women get into a relationship with the wrong guy. This book lays out the facts, gives explanations for this phenomenon, and makes suggestions for how to avoid this. You’re a smart woman. You shouldn’t have to settle for less than what God wants for you.

 

Girlz 4 Christ is glad to be part of this book’s blog tour. We received a copy of this book to assist in our review, but all opinions are our own. 

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What’s Your Goal?

We all have goals. They’re a major driving factor that gets us through life. And here at Girlz 4 Christ, we not only want you to have goals, we want you to ACCOMPLISH them!

Have you ever wanted to do any of the following?

  • Read the Bible cover to cover.
  • Plan a trip to another continent.
  • Become a writer.
  • Get a straight-A report card.
  • Earn extra money.
  • Or anything that takes motivation and hard work?

If so, you’ve come to the right place! We’re excited to announce the theme for our Winter 2017/18 magazine issue: Going for the Goals!

We want you to help us design this issue so it can best help you reach your goals. Where is your stumbling block? Is it difficult to figure out what your goals really are? Is the day-to-day grind too much for you? Let us know what your goals are and how we can help you.

Girlz with Goalz

If you want to get a head start on your goals, we have the perfect eBook for you. Girlz with Goalz, our step-by-step workbook, can bring you from formulating your dreams to becoming a success! To celebrate our upcoming issue, we are giving this book away to everyone who makes any size of donation to the Girlz 4 Christ ministry. Just click here to safely give through PayPal, and we will send your downloadable Girlz with Goalz eBook to your email account.

You can also contribute to our GoFundMe fundraiser for a free eBook if you prefer.

PS: If your goal is to become a writer, we have an exciting way for you to do that! You can become a published writer by contributing an article to our “Going for the Goals” issue. E-mail G4Csubmissions@gmail.com for more information or to send your work in. (If you are a photographer or illustrator, you can contribute your work, too!)