“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
I love this quote from a Winnie the Pooh book. For me it summarizes what it is to have a friend but not just that but also what it is to be a friend. To have someone who just being with can reassure you but also remembering to be that supportive hand for someone else.
Friendship can be amazing, there are people in our lives we can’t imagine being without; those friends who encourage us, who we can share dreams and fears with, who we share our success and disappointments with and those with who we laugh with until our sides hurt, tears fall down our cheeks and we can’t catch our breath.
I have friends I can’t remember not knowing, they have just always been there; friends from school and uni; people I met in different jobs as well as new more recent friendships. Friendship doesn’t just happen by itself; yes you may feel the instant connection with someone and “click” with them as a friend but it takes, time and effort to grow friendship. Do you make enough time for friends in your life? Do you prioritize spending time with each other, having fun, sharing experiences and supporting each other?
Friendships don’t always last and that’s okay; maybe you just don’t see each other as much anymore, maybe you have different interests now and just don’t seem to have as much in common and I am sure we have all experienced when friends let us down but can I encourage you not to give up on friendships.
At this time of year, for many of you finishing school or college, there will be lots of changes in your lives as friends find themselves heading down different paths. Friends you may have spent six hours a day with, five days a week for the past five or seven years you may not see every day any more but staying in touch via Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat etc. has made it so much easier to stay a part of each other’s lives and adventures. It’s so easy now to share experiences and to feel connected to each other despite distance and I urge you to invest time not only in new friendships with people you meet in this next exciting phase of your life but also to remember to nurture and build existing friendships and be a support to each other.
So as you look to the future, pray for new and continued friendships; that distance will not be a barrier to strengthening friendships and that you will continue to be like Pooh and Piglet, a comfort and support for each other.
It has been pretty hectic here in GBHQ the past few months. I know GB sessions for this year finished a while ago but it has been a busy time of preparation and planning for everything for next year, from competitions and events to training and the excitement of celebrating 125 years of Girls’ Brigade over the coming session.
Meetings with new GEMS district reps are also taking place over the next few weeks and I am looking forward to meeting your representatives and chatting about the plans for GEMS this coming session – make sure you keep an eye out for more details closer to the time.
We will be sharing more details for the coming year on Facebook and Instagram, so if you haven’t already make sure you ‘LIKE’ GBNI GEMS Facebook page and follow us on Instagram- girlsbrigadenorthernireland to stay connected, after all you don’t want to miss anything!
In the meantime, I just wanted to share one of my fav songs I have been playing a lot recently. What are your favourites? Let us know via Facebook, Instagram or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I couple of years ago I made the decision that I wanted to get fit and healthy. For anyone that knows me, I am a complete exercise addict! Spin class, circuits, TRX, boxing, you name it I will do it…. I have also developed a bit of an obsession with taking on ultimate challenges too; Tough Mudder, 12 hours & 36 hours training with SAS. Over the last few years in doing all of these activities I have learnt that it takes will power, determination, physical strength and mental endurance to succeed.
In looking back at everything I have done over the last few years there is nothing that challenges, frustrates, annoys and scares me more than running! LOL! It is my absolute nemesis! You are all probably thinking, but look at everything she has done… 36 hours with the SAS and you don’t want to run a mile! YES… give me 2 weeks with the SAS rather than run a mile and trust me when I say the SAS is the toughest of the lot!
Every challenge I have embraced, overcome and completed over the last few years has given me such endurance, will power and determination that I would have completely questioned and doubted that I had before. This year I was ask to do a leg of the marathon in a friends relay team. At the start I was hesitant, to say the least, however I agreed and decided it was time to face by biggest enemy and work on my running!
It took a while to get going and it takes every ounce of strength to complete every run. As I sit here writing this I am delighted to be able to say I have completed my leg of the marathon, Runher Coastal 5K and as of last night the Lisburn 10K! If you had told me this was where I was going 6 months ago I would have laughed in your face! Between you and me, please don’t tell anyone, but I am actually quite enjoying it !
Why am I now enjoying running? Every time I go for a run all I can think about is running the race… and Hebrews 12v1 comes to mind, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” Every time I go for a for a run I am constantly looking back over my journey with God, how I have grown in Him and look at all the ups and downs of the route He is leading me on. Everyone’s race is completely unique with all sort of knocks and joys along the way. Running the race with God is never easy, but we know our hope at the end of our race is an eternity with Him, Philippians 3v14 “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us”
Over the last few months I have been on quite a journey in my walk/run with God. My race with God is the same in overcoming all my challenges. There are many obstacles, ups and downs along the way but to run the race that God has for each of us takes will power, determination, strength and endurance and I know that it’s God power at work within me that helps me overcome every challenge, learn more about Him and His love for me and has helped me understand more of who God has made me to be for His plans and purposes.
What does your race look like? Take some time to stop look back at all the up and downs and take in how much God has been with you, teaching and guiding you. Then look forward and know that He has only the best planned for you, the eternal reward is worth it all and He is with you every step of the way!
n 1858, a Boston Sunday School teacher named Kimball began visiting one of his students at a shoe shop where he worked as a clerk. Eventually, he led him to Christ. The student’s name was D.L. Moody. Twenty one years later Moody, now an evangelist, visited London and a great spiritual awakening took place. F.B. Meyer, a local pastor, went to hear and his life was changed. Meyer went to USA to preach and in one of his meetings a student named J. Wilbur Chapman got saved. Chapman became active in YMCA, where he met and discipled a former baseball player called Billy Sunday. Sunday became a great evangelist and in one of his Crusades in Charlotte, a group of businessmen came to Christ. A year later those business-men decided that their city would run a mission event. They invited Mordecai Hamm to speak. After three weeks Hamm left town, discouraged because he’d only had one convert a 12 year old boy called Billy Graham.
It all started with a Sunday School teacher.
It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life particularly in the lead up to displays and the colossal amount of work to be done – display items prepared, badges to be ordered, prizes to be bought, girls to be kept motivated, and this is just with regard to GB life! Life is just busy. Anyone could be forgiven for thinking ‘Is this all worth it?’ The answer is of course YES!!! Let me encourage you, each and every week you are making a huge impact on your girls.
We may get discouraged thinking that we can’t seem to get girls motivated to be excited about competitions or the events you may want them to attend. However, it is so important not to lose sight of the fact that week after week your girls are choosing to come along to be a part of your GB family. That is what each and every company is to so many girls, family. More and more, Girls’ Brigade is some girls only connection to hear about Jesus. Week after week you have an amazing opportunity to invest in your girls and more importantly to share the Gospel with them. You may not see the fruit of what you are teaching them this side of Heaven but one thing you can be sure of is you are making a lasting difference.
I finish with the encouraging words found in 1 Corinthians 15:57-58.
“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless”. (NLT)
For Billy Graham, it all started with a Sunday School teacher. That Sunday school teacher probably never dreamt in a million years the impact his sharing the Gospel would have in extending the Kingdom of God.
So, for you as a GB leader, can I encourage you, your boldness in sharing faith and the Gospel, you have no idea the impact you are having on the Kingdom of God especially in light of the verse above where He promises that nothing we ever do for Him is useless.
My prayer for all you Captains, Officers and leaders as you finish this session is that you will rest in His presence and will have fresh encounters with your Saviour that will overflow into your girls’ lives in the next session.
I am not much of a runner, actually I hate it, but I have recently signed up to do a 5k mud run in September in memory of my husband’s granny who recently passed away with cancer. I have made a very slow start at going out for an occasional run, well more jog really! I will walk for a few minutes then run a few then walk a few more and so on until I reach home again.
I think life is much the same and as a Christian you have moments of real joy and adrenalin when following God is amazing and life is good, everything is going well, you feel connected to God and you feel His presence in every situation. But then you go so fast you start to burn out a little and you start to slow down, you don’t connect so much and you lose momentum to pick up your Bible or go to church. You go through life for a while and then something sparks and you need God, so you seek Him again and you reconnect and that hope and security comes back again and you pick up your Bible and things run along nicely.
I knew that as I start running more frequently, my pace will get better, I will run for longer and I will become much stronger but I need to have courage to step forward and trust that I can do this and do it well.
In the same way, when you connect with God more often, when you read His word and start living your life for Him, your knowledge of God will get better, you will trust in Him more and your personal relationship will be much stronger.
Life has many highs and lows, there will be difficult and challenging times ahead. God is walking and running beside you cheering you on every step of the way. Remember you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
I have recently found myself in the situation where I have been asked to pray out loud as part of a group. To be honest, this is not something that comes easily or naturally to me…my mouth goes dry, my heart starts racing and I feel anxious about making sure I use the right words and don’t repeat myself etc…
It can be hard to vocalise to God in front of others your thanks, worries and concerns. Maybe you are frightened of using the ‘wrong’ words or stumbling over sentences or just don’t like the idea of talking in front of others.
In the past, during prayer meetings, I would naturally have taken a back seat, I am happy for others to pray out for the group and for me to pray a silent prayer. There is nothing wrong with this. Not everyone will want to pray out loud, silent prayers are no less important than those for said out loud. God hears all our prayers said and unsaid.
Paul wrote in Phillippians 4 : 6-7 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’.
Prayer is a way of communicating with God, we pray to ask for help, to seek guidance and wisdom. To thank God for blessings, remember who God is and how amazing His love is for us, to develop our relationship with God and to simply spend time in His presence.
For me, prayer is when I feel closest to God, when I can pour out my thanks and worries to Him, a time when I know God is listening and I wait to hear His voice. When I was little, prayers were part of my bedtime routine. The prayers I said as a child were simple prayers but no less important. Prayer is a conversation between you and your Heavenly Father. It doesn’t have to be filled with big words, God is more interested in our hearts than in the eloquence of our words.
As an adult, when faced with worries and difficulties, I admit to often talking things over with friends and asking for their advice and input when really God should be the first place I turn. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, have you prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it? Often prayer is too low on our list of priorities when it should be right at the top.
We all have differences in how we pray, some people pray with eyes open, others closed, some kneeling, others sitting. For me, I often pray when I am alone in the car. I imagine He is seated right beside me and we are simply chatting, I ask for His help, thank Him for His love and blessings and enjoy time in His presence.
It can seem that our prayers can go unanswered sometimes, we think did God really hear that prayer about my problem, does He not care about how much this particular situation is worrying me? Is He listening? The truth is, God hears all our prayers. God is good, He asks us to trust Him and sometimes He asks us to wait. Prayers are answered in God’s time and to His will, not in how quickly we want to see what we think is the answer but we trust in His unfailing goodness and mercy, knowing that God is greater than anything and everything and that whatever happens that it is God’s plan and will.
In GBHQ, we are blessed with a prayer room and the chance to spend a little time at the start of our working day praying together. It is the opportunity to recommit each day to God, to thank Him for Girls’ Brigade and the amazing time we get sharing the gospel with so many girls each week. Maybe next time you are passing, you might like to call in and use the prayer room? Or perhaps you would like us to pray for you or your GB company. Just give us a call and let us know.
Wow, where did 2017 go? My mum used to say as you get older time goes so fast. Well my husband and I celebrated the big 6 0 last year, life seems to be flying past. For me, 2017, was a great year. As I said, I celebrated a big birthday, my two great nieces celebrated their 1st birthdays, just starting out in life, and I had the privilege of spending three weeks in the Rockies in Canada where I witnessed the awesome splendour of God’s creation.
I got my bus pass and it’s time for the bucket list to be drawn up! Time to do all the things that I want to do while I can. A time for new beginnings and new things!
The month of January can be dull. After celebrating Christmas and enjoying fun with family and friends, it seems uneventful. The weather can be severe, and it feels like our next salary seems to take forever to reach our bank account. For me it’s a special month, I committed my life to Christ 40 years ago on 1 January 1978. Each year I am challenged to look back to see how I have grown as a Christian over those years.
Do you make New Year resolutions? I don’t because I tend not to keep them. I have a little practical exercise for you, can I challenge you to write some resolutions down, and put them in an envelope, seal it, and open on 1 January 2019.
Here are a few suggestions:
To reach someone who does not know Christ – are we tempted to spend most of our time with fellow Christians? God commands us to be salt and light in the world; that will not happen if we spend all our time with believers. Reaching out feels scary, but when you take the risk, you will see God work through you in exciting ways.
To become a grateful person – do we awake in the morning thinking of all the things we have to do? Start meditating on one of God’s character traits the moment you wake. Think about how awesome God is, and your perspective on the day will change.
To spend more quality time with ???? (maybe husband, friends, family). Are we too busy to spend time with our families and friends? For those of you who will become wives and mothers in the future, learn when you are young to nurture relationships. Why don’t we all think of one person who deserves more of our time in 2018?
To say, ‘NO’ to something – too many demands, choices, too little time. Be careful how much you get involved with and learn to prioritize.
To pursue Christ with fresh vigour – do you sometimes feel as though your relationship with Christ is stale? I know I do! When it happens, pray King David’s prayer, ” Restore to me the joy of my salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. As this new year begins, resolve to recapture that joy.
So those are things we can do, but what about God?
Isaiah 43: 18-19 (The Message) says this, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new! It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”
God is always doing a new thing! Our part is to see and hear what God is doing and go with him. The new things God does are always exciting. As I said earlier if you feel a bit stale or mouldy, it’s time to ask God what he’s saying and go for it. Or you may need to get a new perspective on what God’s already doing. One thing is true – God’s timing and all his ways are perfect. If you, “Come near to God, and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8). And remember, Proverbs 3: 5-6 Pray this over your life – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
So as we all begin this New Year serving God in Girls’ Brigade, let it be a year of hopes and possibilities. They are yours for the taking. They are yours for the doing. Are you ready?
‘The wicked man flees though no-one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.’
Proverbs 28: 1
Lisa Bevere in her book ‘Lioness Arising’ describes the lioness as ‘a magnificent image of strength, passion and beauty…a force to be reckoned with.’ Her book reads, ‘Arise, God did not save you to tame you. Arise to a life of fierce passion, to a dangerous prayer, stunning power and teamed purpose.’
Do you feel unsettled, scared or overwhelmed? When we feel vulnerable like this it seems impossible to imagine ourselves as bold lions. Yet this passage tells us that if we are righteous, if we are faithful to God’s teachings, that we have the ability to be truly fearless! Fearless, not because God tucks us away from danger or because He shields us from failure, but rather we have the ability to be fearless and bold because we know God is in control and because with Him on our side we can achieve more than we imagine! We can be fearless because we know that as daughters of the King we have a place and a purpose in this world.
GBNI Executive Youth Rep & Officer 20th NI Joymount Presbyterian
I don’t know how long you’ve been involved in Girls’ Brigade – for me it has been nearly 20 years, but I am sure that some people reading this could double or even triple that figure!
When we first begin a project, join a new organisation or set up a new venture we usually do so with great energy, excitement and enthusiasm! However, as time goes on, no matter how much we love what we do and the organisations we are serving, we can grow weary. We can lose our vigour and passion for the things we once loved, we can fall into a monotonous routine rather than thinking creatively about how we can grow and develop our ministry, and we can become generally tired and weary. Phrases such as ‘what’s the point’, ‘sure that will do’ and ‘I’m too old for this’ become part of our regular vocabulary. We can begin to feel a little disheartened, thinking that all of our efforts over the years have been in vain and that we are having no real impact on the people around us or the girls we lead.
When I am feeling like this I am reminded of one of my favourite verses: ‘Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up!’ Galatians 6 v 9.
There are so many important truths in this verse and such valuable lessons that Paul wanted to reiterate to the people of Galatia:
1) Don’t give in and don’t give up! The Bible tells us not to grow weary when we are doing good. That may seem easier said than done but it is so important for us to remember that when we are working or volunteering we are also serving and glorifying God, and as a result we should be putting in 100% effort and giving him our best!
2) God’s timing is perfect. We’re only human and sometimes it is easy for us to grow impatient or frustrated when we feel like we are labouring tirelessly and not seeing any results. But this verse tells us that we will see the results and reap the rewards, in due season. God’s timing is always better than what we could plan ourselves.
3) We will reap. As our Heavenly Father, God doesn’t want to keep anything from us or deprive us of returns on our work. When we are doing good, when we are loving others in order to serve Him, we will reap from those efforts!
So my encouragement to you for this next season in Girls’ Brigade is simply to keep going! It is our greatest privilege in life to be able to serve the King of Kings. Don’t lose heart, don’t give up & keep pressing on!
I’ve often heard people quote this beautifully worded maxim: pressure creates diamonds and fire refines gold. What a lovely sentiment and a positive outlook to have! When people say this, they are usually trying to comfort someone who is going through a particularly difficult or stressful time. They are making the point that sometimes we need to go through tough processes in order for something beautiful to be created at the other end of it. They are basically saying ‘don’t give up, keep going, because soon it will all have been worth it!’ And often, no matter how many times we are told that, or how deeply we believe that God is always faithful and that He will work the situation out, we struggle with trusting Him in difficult times.
As human beings I feel that it is hard enough to trust that God will answer our prayers the way that we want Him to. But what about trusting that God knows best even if He doesn’t work out a situation the way we expect? That is a whole new level of faith and trust! What if the pressure is just going to cause us to crack, and the fire is only going to burn? For three men in the bible, the latter was a very real possibility! Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were literally, rather than metaphorically, walking through the fire. In Daniel chapter 3 we find the story of these three heroic young Hebrew men and their unwavering faith in God. King Nebuchadnezzar had created a golden idol and had ordered that all of his subjects bow down and worship the statue when they heard the sound of horns, flutes and lyres. When the three friends (deciding that honouring God and His commandments was more important than their own lives) refused to do as he commanded, they faced being thrown into a fiery furnace! I think that the bravery shown by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they took their stand for God is inspirational! But what is even more impressive is their attitude when they were faced with the fire. Have a look at their response to the King’s judgement:
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.18 But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3 : 16 – 18
Those six words are just so poignant: But even if He does not. How amazing of an attitude is that to have? Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had such steadfast faith in the fact that God would deliver them from a blazing furnace, but also were willing to say that even if He did not, He is still good, He still reigns and they would still worship Him. Wow!
You might not be facing a cruel death, courtesy of a burning oven, but what is the blazing furnace that is in front of you, at the minute? Is it the pressure of exams and results, or the prospect of a broken family, or the temptations of peer pressure and negative influences? The typical ‘Christian’ advice for all of these situations is to pray, and I agree that prayer is the most important response! However, sometimes we are guilty of treating prayer like a vending machine. We put in a prayer and choose which outcome we would like to be given to us. We ask for A* grades, and for our parents’ marriage to be mended, and we put in continuous requests but are only happy when the answer is ‘yes’. If we put in our 70p and ask for a Yorkie, we are not happy when we get a Mars bar! Sometimes, I think if we are truly honest with ourselves, our love for God is far too often, conditional. We praise and exalt Him only when we are getting our way.
The challenge for all of us should be – can we apply those six little words to our attitude? Can we, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, put so much faith in our God, that we allow ourselves to trust His plan over our own? Can we pray for help in exams and that God would help us to achieve the grades we need but accept that, even if He does not, He is still good? Can we request the restoration of a marriage, knowing that God is capable of healing any relationship but accept that, even if He does not, He is still sovereign? Can we pray that God will protect us from the dangers of peer pressure from negative influences but accept that, even if He does not, He is still worthy of our thanks and praise?
It’s not an easy challenge (I am sure that it wasn’t easy for the three young Hebrews either) but it’s such an important one! We learn our example of love from our heavenly Father, and considering His love is never conditional and never changes based on our actions and choices, don’t we – even more so – owe it to Him to serve and love Him no matter what!
And here’s the amazing news. It’s not all doom and gloom. Yes, life is hard and we face pressures, trials and hardships. Just know, that while God doesn’t always prevent us from facing the furnace, He does walk with us through the fire!
25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”… So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Daniel 3 : 25 – 27
Our God reigns on high, He is in control of every situation, He knows the greatest outcome for your life and best of all, He has defeated darkness and death! If you put your trust in Him during the bad times and the good, you could be in no better hands!