We’ve made it to the sixth month of what may have been the most unusual year of our lives! Normally, time of year, I would be telling you how to get ready for camp, but a lot of summer camps have either delayed their start day or closed entirely for the year. I know many of you live in areas where there are safety concerns, and please know that you are being prayed for. So, what can we do for the month of June?
That’s right. Many libraries and bookstores are opening back up, and Amazon’s book shipping isn’t so delayed anymore. You may have a library, bookstore, restaurant, or school near you that offers a summer reading program, where you’ll get a prize for reading a certain amount of books this summer. (Don’t gloss over this if you’re an adult now- while a lot of programs are for kids and teens, some summer reading includes adults, too!)
So instead of a summer vacation, we invite you to take a “bookation” and explore new lands through the written word.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3
Our Top 5 Reading Suggestions
After entering the book giveaway above, and then scrolling down to see G4C’s upcoming book, you may be wondering how else to fill your summer reading list. Here are a few suggestions:
First of all, we’d highly recommend looking for Christian books. They come in all types of genres, but unlike other books, they will better remind you of God, the Ultimate Author. Bookstores and libraries have sections set up just for Christian books. And if you order books online, it’s easy to search for Christian genres. The number one Christian book that we’d recommend above all others happens to also be the world’s number one bestseller: The Bible! We challenge you to read a little bit of that book every day this summer.
Need more book ideas? We have a whole Teen Reading List here. We’d love to update this page with your favorite books, so let us know what we should add!
Remember that not all reading has to be done in the form of books. Most of our books are available on Kindle as ebooks, and there are a ton of great blogs out there too. Naturally, we’d recommend reading our blog posts, but we know there are a lot of great blogs out there. Look through Pinterest for blog suggestions on topics you like.
And of course, don’t forget magazines! Here are a few of our past issues of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine that you can order. These ones feature an interview with an author, so you can get even more reading suggestions while getting behind-the-scenes info about the creation of each book!
Reading is great. But it’s a good idea to balance it with a well-rounded lifestyle. Here are a few FREE programs I’ve been using lately, including my invite links so you can join me!
I’m walking my way to some fantastic prizes! Sweatcoin is an app that counts your steps, which you get paid for. Use your sweatcoins to buy some cool rewards. Start using Sweatcoin today!
Do you like shopping? I bet you’d like it even better if it cost less money! Use Ibotta and you can get rebates on your purchases in most popular stores. Some items you can even get for free! Sign up for Ibotta.
Girlz 4 Christ’s new book, Girls Who Change the World, released on October 1st. Christian news company theDove included a feature with Girlz 4 Christ’s editor and publisher about her work with co-writing this book. Check out the video clip, and then check out the book!
Many of you have loved our recent interview with Overcomer’s movie star, Aryn Wright-Thompson. But we’ve had the privilege of interviewing dozens of amazing young women over the years, and for the first time ever on October 1st, you’ll be able to have these role models all in one place.
Maybe you’ve been inspired by Bethany Hamilton’s new documentary, Unstoppable. Or you love reading books by teen authors. Or you’ve found inspiration with the younger members of the Duck Dynasty crew like Sadie Robertson, John Luke Robertson, and Mary Kate Robertson. In Girlz 4 Christ’s new book, Girls Who Change the World, you’ll find interviews and profiles of people like these and so many more! There are even girls who are making an impact in their everyday lives all across the globe. Of course, there will be tips for how you can change the world, too!
Girls Who Change the Worldis available October 1st, but you can get a sneak peek in the Fall 2019 issue of Girlz 4 Christ Magazine. You can also preorder a Kindle copy from Amazon. (Print copies will be available for preorder soon!)
Are you involved in a sport or other team? Is there one that you want to join? Imagine showing up on the first day of tryouts. You have your choice of seats, because no one else is there yet. You get a little nervous, and check the paperwork to make sure you’re in the right place. You are. Eventually, the coach shows up. No one else does. You’re the only person on your team.
What would you do? Stay? Quit? Encourage the discouraged coach?
Hannah Scott is in this situation in the movie Overcomer. Her cross country coach, John Harrison, isn’t thrilled that he had to give up basketball and instead coach his least favorite sport, which no one else seems to be interested in either. He’s more frustrated when he finds out that Hannah has asthma, which may jeopardize her ability to place in competitions.
But that’s the least of Hannah’s struggles. She’s new to this Christian school, and her home life is a stark contrast from her rich classmates. She lives with her grandmother, who’s told her that both of her drug-addicted parents died long ago.
But this one-person cross country team may be the life change that both Hannah and Coach Harrison need.
*2020 Update: You can read interviews with the cast of Kendrick Brothers movies, including actresses from Overcomer, War Room, and Courageous, in our book: Girls Who Change the World, available now!*
Kendrick Brothers Do It Again
Which of these films have you seen before?
Facing the Giants
All of these movies were made by the Kendrick Brothers, pastors who decided to expand their ministry with the silver screen. If you haven’t seen them all yet, order them online or check them out at your library this summer. That way, you can be all caught up before Ovecomer hits theaters on August 23rd.
Alex, Stephen, and Shannon Kendrick are the filmmaking Kendrick Brothers, based in Albany, Georgia. For OVERCOMER, Alex co-wrote, directed, and plays the role of Coach John Harrison. Stephen co-wrote and produced the movie. (He also has an onscreen cameo similar to War Room.) Shannon serves as the movie’s executive producer. They are excited to release their sixth movie.
The Kendrick Brothers exist to honor Jesus Christ and make His truth and love known among the nations through movies, books, curriculum, and speaking. By prayerfully blending engaging stories with doctrinal integrity, the Kendricks seek to encourage and inspire viewers and readers with resources that impact their spiritual lives and strengthen their families and personal relationships.
The Kendrick Brothers enjoy including little things to watch out for in their movies. Be on the lookout for these:
A favorite breakfast cereal for many of their movie characters is Coney Bombs. Who eats Coney Bombs in this movie? Can you figure out what real-life cereal it’s based on?
Alex Kendrick is the brother that gets the most screen time. He’s played a major role in every Kendrick Brothers movie, plus other Christian movies like Moms Night Out and The Lost Medallion. However, Stephen has made cameos in the last two films as well as Fireproof. Can you find him in War Room and Overcomer? (Hint: he seems to like competitions.)
Speaking of competitions, do any of the other teams seem familiar? Perhaps a school from Facing the Giants?
Many of the cars don’t have license plates. That’s because it appears that they were recently purchased, and still have the dealership plate. Where were they bought from? You might know if you’ve seen their first movie, Flywheel.
Can you find any other Easter Eggs or references to other movies as you watch Overcomer? Let us know and we’ll share your findings on our social media!
Aryn Wright-Thompson is an honor-roll student, a leader in her community, and studies piano and dance: ballet, jazz, tap, acro, and lyrical. Aryn also plays volleyball, basketball, and softball. Aryn has also participated in pageants including the Miss N.C.’s Little Miss program and the Black Miss North Carolina Organization. Overcomer is her debut film.
We had the opportunity to ask Aryn about her role as Hannah Scott in Overcomer, and we’re excited to share the inside scoop with you about her acting, her life, and her walk with God.
*2020 Update: You can read even more about Aryn Wright-Thompson and other actresses, athletes, and amazing Christian girls in our book, Girls Who Change the World!*
Have you done any acting or theater before Overcomer?
Yes, a little. I had done some regional NASCAR commercials, and extra work. I was an extra on the Three Stooges movie. That was a lot of fun because I was younger and there was a lot of playing outside and a big cafeteria scene where I got to sit next to my brother and eat and be silly all day. Jennifer Hudson took the time to talk to me that day. Still a highlight of my life…lol!
I have done both school and community theatre. I really enjoyed both.
How did you get involved with the Kendrick Brothers film?
My agent sent over the audition request. I read the sides that were sent and loved that. I taped the audition at home and made my dad cry.
What did a day on set look like?
Every day we would have devos as a group of all the cast & crew at between 7 and 8. Someone would pray and give a motivational or inspirational speech during breakfast. That was my favorite part of the day. Then I’d go to wardrobe, then hair and makeup. Sometimes I’d meet with Ms. Beth, the acting coach, to review my scenes. A lot of times Ms. Shari would talk with me or pray with me. We’d shoot some, have lunch. Shoot some more, then have dinner. There could be another wardrobe, hair or makeup change in there somewhere. We were also fortunate enough to have different churches volunteer to either cook or bring us all dinner to set! We’d eat, fellowship and then head home. Usually about 7 or 8 for me.
Your character is a runner, but do you do any sports?
Yes! My parents have always kept us busy and active. Dance has been a constant in my life. I’m a competitive dancer and tap is my favorite style of dance. I have also played softball, basketball, volleyball and been a cheerleader. I also enjoy competing in pageants. I have participated in several North Carolina pageants.
How did you balance acting with school or your other commitments?
To be honest, it has always been a challenge because I live in North Carolina and I have often had to travel for opportunities. My mom would work with the schools and my teachers so that I wouldn’t fall behind and I have had to attend Saturday school a few times to make up missed time. I am very serious about my education and school work, so I always take every opportunity to work on assignments so that they’re on time.
How are you and your character Hannah alike?
I think that we are alike in the sense that we are both unsure. I had not always been sure of myself or my purpose. Spending time getting to know God and the love he as for me and all of us has given me the confidence to follow my dreams and I know who I am in Christ. That’s a big deal.
In real life, what’s something you’ve been working on accomplishing or overcoming lately?
Hmmmm…lately I think it’s been body image. Social media is such a big influence on the world. It seems the expectation is perfection. That’s not realistic and actual. I think it’s ridiculous. I’m definitely overcoming looking at myself from the view of the expectations of other people. God made me exactly the way he intended to, Who am I or anyone else to second guess that? As far as accomplishments, I’m working on being a professional at doing my own hair, there’s a lot to it!
Now that filming is wrapped up and the movie’s almost out, do you have any plans or hopes for a next project?
Ultimately, whatever God has for me..I’ll do it and give Him my best. I would love to continue acting and telling stories! I have another project I’ve been cast in called Don’t You Tell A Soul. I’m super excited about it because it’s a period piece. I get to play a young lady in the 1940s. I have always wanted to do that. I also plan on going to college and maybe becoming an attorney one day.
Did you have a favorite scene or moment on set?
Every day was my favorite. If I could redo last summer all over again I would. Maybe my favorite day was the first day because everything was new to me. I was a little nervous, but after completing that first day I knew I could do this. I also LOVED getting to spend so much time with all of the Kendrick kids! That was so much fun.
Last question: how much did you REALLY have to run for the movie?
LOL! A lot! Probably an average of 3 miles a day, and when we were filming most of the distance running scenes probably about 7 miles a day. But the girls that were in all of those scenes with me are actual runners. They kept me going and encouraged. The crew was amazing in helping us get through those scenes.
When John Smith crashed through the ice on a frozen lake near St. Louis, he was trapped for 15 minutes, and after he was rescued he had no pulse for 43 minutes. The ER physician called his mother in so she could say her final goodbye. She prayed instead and that’s when a miracle happened…John came back to life.
John Smith was probably like a lot of the boys in your eighth grade class. He played basketball. He played video games. He hung out with his friends. Although he was abandoned as a baby in Guatemala, he was adopted into a loving Christian family in Missouri.
January 19th, 2015 started out as just an ordinary Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. To celebrate the day off of school, John and his two friends (both named Josh) decided to play on a frozen lake. After taking a selfie and running around… CRACK! The ice wasn’t as thick as they thought. Suddenly, the three boys found themselves in a cold lake with no means of escape.
When the emergency team responded, they found one Josh had managed to pull himself out of the water, and the other Josh was treading while trying to keep hold of an ice sheet. But John was nowhere to be seen. Since he had sunk underwater long before the rescuers arrived, they were prepared for the worst. As fireman Tommy Shine searched through the water, he heard a voice say “Go back!” He retraced the area he’d just searched and, sure enough, found John. Tommy Shine later tried to figure out who called out to him to go back, but no one on his team had said anything during that time. It was divine guidance that could have only come from God. Especially unusual since Tommy didn’t even believe in God!
It was a miraculous rescue, but it was only the start to a chain of miracles. The lifeless John had been submerged for 15 minutes- no breathing, no pulse. Yet the rescue team still did everything they could as they transported him to the hospital. He was considered dead for an hour by the time Joyce, his mom, was able to see him. After crying loudly, she shouted, “Holy Spirit…breathe life back into my son!”
No one expected John to make a full recovery. He was unlikely to even make it through the night, and if he did, he would have severe brain damage. But sixteen days and two hospitals later, John headed home as the healthy boy he’d always been. Prayer does work, and miracles do happen.
As you’ll see in the movie, God wasn’t present only in John’s hospital room. His story made waves around his community. The classmates at his school gathered for prayer, and people came to his church to do the same. The prayer vigils were just as important as the prayers spoken at his bedside.
Do you know someone that needs prayer right now? It doesn’t necessarily have to be for a life-threatening issue; God hears all prayers and knows that each request is important to us. Take a break from reading- yes, right now!- and pray for a family member, friend, or someone in your community.
Need an idea for something to pray about? How about that Breakthrough would change lives! Here are a few other things you can do to help with that:
You can reserve your ticket right now! If your local theater doesn’t have showtimes for Breakthrough, ask what it would take to get the movie to your town.
Bring some people to see the movie in theaters. You can get discounts on group tickets, so this may be something you want to coordinate with your church, youth ministry, or other group.
Even non-Christian friends might be interested to see the movie for its cast of stars or basketball player-turned-producer Stephen Curry. Invite some people to the movies and then pick a restaurant, coffee shop, or ice cream parlor near the theater to chat afterward.
Visit breakthroughmovie.com to find out more about the movie. You can also access some “share tools”, that include printable prayer cards as well as images you can post on your social media.
Allow the message of the movie to affect your life. And keep on praying.
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!
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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!)
Earlier this year, I came up with an idea I thought would revolutionize Christian television production. Along the same vein of The Office and Parks and Recreation, we needed to shine a light on the world of ministry through a mockumentary of those front-line workers. I created characters, ministry jobs, and early versions of a script. Unfortunately, while writing is my forte, I do not have an in with anyone working in Hollywood.
Little did I know that, around the same time, a new mockumentary-style Christian series was in the works. I admit it might even be better than my show idea. Hitting the Breaks premiered last month. I watched it on Pure Flix and am hyped to tell you about it.
In case you forget why this mostly-normal Christian family ended up in an anything-but-normal Colorado Rockies town, just listen to the theme song. The title sequence begins with the opening sequence of Cars 3. (That’s also the same scene as the final race of the first Cars movie, but I digress…) Without giving away too much of the setup of the show (or the Pixar Cars franchise), there’s an accident on the racetrack. This forces driver Randy into a midlife crisis of early retirement and moving his family cross-country to his recently inherited hotel, which is where we first meet them in the pilot episode.
The Wilcox family walks into The Serenity Inn, their new home in Colorado. Oh no! What happened to the Wi-fi and cell service? I guess it lacks those features to make what otherwise looks like a just-built hotel set seem old and dilapidated. They never get those services, so I guess they won’t be able to read this review. Or watch their own show.
When it comes to the topic of finances, this modern-day Petticoat Junction is mysterious . Why did Randy’s father die and leave his estate conveniently at the same time that Randy also flirted with death and needed a place to move to? Why is Randy concerned about money when he has free housing and presumably a professional athlete’s savings account? How can a hotel that never has a paying guest afford to keep on a maid? (Although this does explain why she never does any work- there’s no one to clean up after!) How can Randy quickly get hooked up with an endorsement deal when he wants several thousand dollars, but can’t drop a hundred bucks to replace a falling-apart floor rug that everyone complains about? And the most mysterious of all: why are Christian films notoriously low-budget, but Hitting the Breaks is actually a good show?
Speaking of Christianity, this is an original series created by and available exclusively through the Christian entertainment company, Pure Flix. But don’t expect the characters to awkwardly pause the story line to give their testimony. Instead you’ll see the Wilcox family and some of their friends living out their life with Christ through Bible studies, church events, reading, and prayer. For them, Christianity isn’t a separate part of their lives that they focus on for two minutes but ignore the remainder of the episode. It’s how they live their whole lives. That’s a good takeaway for all of us.
But although there are mysteries and faith themes, Hitting the Breaksis a comedy. You’ll be reminded of that every four seconds when the laugh track goes off. Sometimes it gets so cheesy that you’ll want to grab tortilla chips and make some nachos. The characters even acknowledge this a handful of times while breaking the fourth wall.
Randy Wilcox is played by that ever-present actor in nearly every Christian movie, David A.R. White. Instead of his typical portrayal of a pastor or an Amish man, David branches out in this show as a retired race car driver. The word “retired” might be a bit harsh, since he’s only middle-aged with daughters still in school. But what can you do if you have a family full of women who convince you that your line of work might be dangerous after your last race ended in smoke and shambles?
Coincidentally, I was also in a car crash shortly before Hitting the Breakspremiered. (I’m not a race car driver; I just share the road with people who think that a red light means “keep going!”) I even got the same lingering injury as Randy: a shoulder in so much pain that I couldn’t raise my arm. But since Randy’s arm was instantly cured by falling off a roof, I am definitely jumping off a building now. If anything goes wrong, I’ll just send my hospital bill to the production company. (Not everything you see on TV is meant to be impressionable, kids!)
Charlie Wilcox is Randy’s wife. Actress Andrea Logan White is also the real-life wife of David A.R. White. In Christian film world, that means it’s okay for the couple to share a bed unlike the sitcom couples of the 50s, and kiss each other without pulling Kirk Cameron’s stand-in stunt from Fireproof. Yay for realism!
Delancey Wilcox is the oldest daughter of Randy and Charlie. Since she’s a teen, the writers gave her typical teen traits like being obsessed with boys and shampoo. Wait, shampoo? Is that a legit obsession? I started working on this teen magazine (that you should subscribe to) as I was aging out of my own teen years. All this time I guess I forgot to include a much-desired magazine section dedicated to shampoo. If you’re a teen girl with a shampoo obsession, please leave a comment at the end of this post. I need your help with an upcoming article.
Darcy Wilcox is basically a female version of Brick Heck from ABC’s The Middle. Book brainiac, youngest child, remembers everything, socially awkward… you get the picture. I almost expected her to repeat words in a whisper. Maybe they’re saving that for season two.
Other Characters abound in this Rocky Mountain town. A fan favorite is Sky, a vegan-restaurant-owning/ motorcycle-riding/ friends-with-everyone twentysomething who knows the rest of the townsfolk are unusual without realizing that she’s a different kind of offbeat as well. The bumbling cop Bernie makes Barney Fife look like a SWAT Team agent. Then there are two old guys who continually wear bunny costumes. It’s weird how quickly you get used to that.
Let’s not forget the special guest stars! There’s Alyson Stoner, and Morgan Fairchild, and Carrot Top, and IS THAT TIM TEBOW? LET’S FREAK OUT LIKE EVERY CHARACTER DID IN THE SEASON FINALE!
Joking aside for a moment, you probably know that there are fewer and fewer sitcoms airing that the whole family can enjoy. Two of the three family-friendly shows I alluded to above (The Andy Griffith Show and Petticoat Junction, which also has episodes available to stream on Pure Flix) were first filmed in black and white. The other mention, The Middle, is in its final season as television networks turn to edgier shows with more shock value. I’m glad that Pure Flix is stepping up to fill this widening gap. We need more shows that are funny, entertaining, and hold to God-honoring, family-friendly values.
Maybe you’ve seen her when you tuned into some episodes of Duck Dynasty. Maybe you were appealed by her fashion lines with Roma Boots, Wild Blue, and Sherri Hill. Maybe you watchedI’m Not Ashamed or God’s Not Dead 2. Maybe you read one of her “Live Original” books. No matter how you found out about Sadie Robertson, now you can see her live at Winter Jam 2017. Sadie called up Girlz 4 Christ’s editor Jessica Lippe before she started preparing for a Winter Jam show that night in Jacksonville, Florida.
Sadie Robertson in God’s Not Dead 2
G4C: What do you speak about on the Winter Jam tour?
Sadie: This year at Winter Jam, I’m bringing a modern-day twist to David and Goliath story. Nowadays we need the message of the challenge. I think it’s great for me as a 19-year-old speaking to a lot of teens. It’s good to be in that situation that I feel serves God. I’m excited about doing that.
G4C: How do you prioritize time with God in your busy schedule?
Sadie: Well, God IS my busy schedule. I feel like I would not have this schedule without God. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why I should be able to do this or how I got this opportunity besides it being God. So, I think with that, everything has to be done in His name. Everything has to be done in prayer. Everything has to be brought to Him. It’s just been great because I don’t think anything can get too busy for Him.
G4C: Do you see yourself continuing as a speaker, or are there other career prospects you’re interested in?
Sadie: I would love to continue as a speaker. That’s my passion and that’s where I feel like God is really leading me right now as the best way that I could glorify His kingdom. I hope to continue on in that. But if God opens a different door and says, “hey, I need you here”, then of course I would have to follow because I’ve got all my trust in Him. So I guess we’ll see, but I do love speaking!
G4C: Who’s the most original person on tour with you?
Sadie: Probably Britt Nicole. She is awesome. She’s just as powerful backstage as she is onstage, and I really respect her for that.
Britt Nicole is joining Sadie Robertson at Winter Jam!