Thursday, February 27, 2014

Through Many Trials - by AHG Patriot Sarah Peterson



Dear Friends,

AHG Girl Blogger, Sarah Peterson tackles the subject of the usefulness of Trials in sharpening our walk with Christ.  With wisdom beyond her years, Sarah shares her thoughts and I pray you will share this important message with a special girl in your life!

Trials. Not a fun word. Not something we like going through. and sometimes we don't expect them.


This last weekend we were at Faith Baptist Bible College for their annual high school basketball tournament. I was very excited. Last year our team went down and won the whole thing! We lost four of our starters last year, so I knew that this year at the tournament would be harder.

But I didn't think it would be this hard.

The first three games were pool play to determine our ranking for the fourth game on Saturday. We lost all three pool play games. On Saturday we would play for seventh out of eight teams.

Talk about a trial.

I don't like trials. Never have. Thing is, I learned so much this basketball tournament. Not only about basketball, but also about myself, my attitude, my character and my walk with God. Trials do help us learn. Funny...God uses trials to teach us things that we may not have learned otherwise. Would I have looked at my attitude if we had won every game? Probably not, because my attitude would have been great. But instead I had to learn to love the other players on and off the court when they killed us. I had to keep my head up high for the younger girls when I really just wanted to go into the locker room and pout. I had to honor God with my thoughts when I honestly was feeling defeated. Saturday night I got home and I was tired. Mentally and emotionally. But looking back a few days later, I think that we had the best tournament yet. Yes we got crushed, but we bonded as a team. We lost together. We learned together. We encouraged each other together.

God uses trials. Why?

1) they push us out of our comfort zone. I wasn't comfortable losing. Honestly I wasn't used to it. The past few years we have only lost about six games. But losing made me think that winning isn't everything. Character is. If we won but had a horrible attitude, we might as well have lost. Wins and medals will fade, but who you are as a person never will.

2) they reveal what we need to work on. Not only did I learn tons of things that I need to work on in basketball (better passes, hustling more, having patience, etc.) but also about myself off the court. I get in to the habit of having an attitude of defeat. I feel like I have to be perfect and when I'm not I feel defeated. I learned that I can't have that attitude. If you're in a hole and life throws dirt your way, shake it off, stomp it down and step up.

3) they show us that we need to turn to God. When life is going good I get into the habit of forgetting God. I get content. Comfortable. God has to sometimes throw a trial into our lives to remind us who is truly in control. Lesson from that? Don't wait for a trial to put God first. Make Him a priority when things are going great as well as horrible.

Trials aren't fun. But you know what? If we let God have His way and if we are teachable, we come out better than before. That tournament changed me as a person and as a basketball player. So are trials bad?

No.

Not if you let them change you into more of an image of Christ. God doesn't bring trials in our lives to knock us down, but so that through Him we can learn to rise up better than before.

Well said Sarah!

Until Next Time,

Patti

 
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds 
                                                                                                                               James 1: 1-3

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Twerker, the Witch and the Wedding - the 2014 Grammys

Sounds like a parody of CS Lewis' masterpiece to you?  Me too, but unfortunately the joke was not on The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe but the Christian worldview upon which the novel was based.   And that "joke" that parody, was led by women who were raised in Christian homes and now reside in the world of Hollywood.

You guessed it, the Grammys are on my mind and my heart.  I have waited weeks to let the unrest in my soul dissipate but to no avail.  I have prayed that God take this pain from me if it is His will.  Apparently it is not, the message remains in my soul.  In obedience, I write.

Did I watch the Grammys?  I did not, but I have seen enough video clips to be thankful I did not tune in.  Do I sometimes watch these Hollywood tributes? Yes, I do.  I believe recognizing the cultural climate of our society is something I must do to be an effective leader of a ministry for girls.  And, at times, I prayerfully enter into media targeted to youth that I prefer not to have to see or hear.  I know and you know that our girls are exposed to it everyday and if they are not personally exposed, their friends, their schoolmates and their generation are sure to have heard or seen the latest assault on purity.

The Grammys - from Beyonce's inappropriate attire and moves, to Katy Perry's witchy persona being burned  at the stake while demon- like entities dance in celebration, to Queen Latifah's recent "ordination" to perform "marriages"- the whole charade seemed like a vile missile whose target was anything pure, righteous and holy.

It is tempting to close our eyes, ears and minds to the latest production the mainstream media has for us, but how can we?  We have to engage our kids and talk about God's plan while helping them build an armor of protection.   We need to know about the topics of which they have knowledge and we need to talk about them.  How do we do this?  Through consistent conversations and bringing God's relevant Word into the dialogue and God loving behaviors that we model.

As you and your daughter listen to a song, watch a TV show, or attend a concert, talk about the values that are being presented and celebrated. "How does this song depict love? What does this TV show assume about marriage? How does this artist demonstrate purity?” Only through the power of His Word and consistent prayer can any of us repel the missiles that are being produced and launched daily by much of today's media. 

Meanwhile I continue to pray for Hollywood's elite so that the love of Christ and His righteousness may bring light and joy to their lives.  I hope you will join me.

To learn great techniques on how to lead from the heart on even tough subjects like this, consider joining me at the  2014 National Leadership Conference - we have alot to talk about!

Phew!  It is done.  Thanks for listening.

Until next time,
Patti

Teach these commandments.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Deuteronomy 6:7

Friday, December 20, 2013

That Quiet Night when Mankind was Forever Changed

Dear Friends,

In just a few short days, tens of millions of people from around the world will once again celebrate the birth of the long awaited and prophesied Christ Child - the babe born of poor, unmarried parents in an animal's manger in a world filled with confusion, fear and violence.

I am always in awe of the magnificent tapestry of God's love for mankind as told by the Holy Scriptures.  The details of the Scripture are rife with symbolism and intricacies that only the Divine could weave.

Recently I came across an insight on the conception and birth of Christ that was new to me but maybe not new to you, so please bear with me as it stands repeating. 

The Christmas story, as told in Luke Chapters 1 and 2, contains the details of the birth of Christ in a consecutive order.  This is different than the other books renditions, perhaps because it better fit the storytelling style of Luke, a physician.  Luke speaks of  the role of Gabriel in announcing Mary's condition, his attempt to calm Mary's fear and dismay, and his explanation of other miraculous births, citing the pregnancy of Mary's aging barren cousin Elizabeth.   Immediately upon Gabriel's departure, Mary goes to the hills to find her cousin, Elizabeth, whose hideaway protected her from the talk of the village.  Mary needed to see for herself that the elderly Elizabeth was indeed pregnant.  And, upon seeing Mary, Elizabeth feels her baby "leap with joy" at the presence of the Messiah in Mary's womb.  Even in utero, according to Luke 1:41-44, Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist, knew Him.  Mary was just told of her condition, the babe was barely grown enough to cause a bulging belly, yet His cousin, six months formed in his mother's womb "lept with joy!"

The tapestry of Scripture unfolds in a most unusual way with the most miraculous story of the pregnancy  of Mary, followed by a trek to an unknown town with many denying the Christ child access to shelter, even before His birth.  Joseph and the laboring Mary were left with no other option then to give birth to the King of Kings in a stable.  Animals surrounded the young family and their feeding trough served as the bed for the Prince of Peace.  And despite this quiet, unheralded birth of the Savior of all mankind, the heavens took part and shone a star of a most unusual proportion to guide both the poorest of poor and the richest of rich to the Stable, if they would only follow it and believe.

Today, in world not so unlike the world of Jesus - confusion, fear and violence abound- Jesus' quiet invitation to follow Him is available to all - the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich and all of those who are weak and heavy laden.  He loves us all and loves us enough not to force a relationship but to invite  us to a relationship with Him, so that we can understand the Father who sent Him. 

Will you accept His invitation once again?  Will you renew your relationship with Christ this Christmas season and find the peace that will only come from Him?

I rest my soul in His hands and wish you the most blessed of Christmas seasons.

With love and peace and until next time
,
Patti

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sarah's Top Ten Songs of the Season!



Dear Friends,

Well, here we are! Only 12 more days until Christmas 2013 :) I love this time of year for many reasons, but one of the top reasons is because of the music. I absolutely love Christmas songs (if it wouldn't annoy my family, I would probably play them all year long!). I wanted to put together my top 12 Christmas songs (in no particular order) to share with you all so here ya go! :)

#1 Hairy Christmas (performed by Willie Robertson and Luke Bryan)

I saw this on the CMA Country Christmas and was laughing so hard I could barely breath. This was such a fun song! The fact that Willie from Duck Dynasty sings it is just an added bonus :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQQPVqnlXog

#2 Carol of the Bells (by Pentatonix)

This was amazing. I love acappella (when it's done right) and boy! do they do this one right!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vvkNWs7sQw

#3 O Holy Night (by Tenth Avenue North)

This is my favorite kind of Christmas song: a classic with a little bit of an added beat. I love Mike Donehey's voice and he did this song so well.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBygNgy8FKU

#4 O Come Emmanuel (by The Piano Guys)

I mean come on! The Piano Guys are amazing! This has to be my favorite version of this amazing song. It's so mysterious and serious, but in such a beautiful, breath-taking way. <3 br="">
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO7ySn-Swwc

#5 All I Want for Christmas (by Anthem Lights)

Of course I had to put an Anthem Lights song in here somewhere! I normally don't like this song, but I must say: Anthem Lights does it very well! (I may be biased just because I love them so much...:) )
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuVoodqPevo

#6 Joseph's Lullaby (by MercyMe)

I am on the verge of tears every time I hear this song. And for those of you who know me, I'm not a crier! This song is simply amazing: A very simple tune, but an amazing message :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7InZv8Zfs10

#7 Jingle Bell Rock (by The Newsboys)

These guys know how to have a good time! Best version of this song EVER! And believe me, I have heard many versions ;) If I ever want to get in a good mood, I play this :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mvSZYu-1Jk

#8 O Come All Ye Faithful (by Rush of Fools)

For one: The little kid at the beginning is adorable :) But this is another example of a band singing the song right! They don't change it up to much but just enough to keep it interesting. Love this one!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYqmV8GEodQ

#9 Mary Did You Know (by CeeLo Green)

No, I normally don't like CeeLo, and yes, some things in the video aren't completely correct. But! This, I have to say, is one of the more moving videos and performances I have ever seen/heard! Amazing <3 br="">
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1DZA_TdBBI

#10 The Night Before Christmas (by Brandon Heath)

This is another one of those songs that gets me every time. I dare you to have a dry eye after you listen to it. Such a powerful song....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTHu1PKNOLQ

#11 Do You Hear What I Hear (performed by Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Nettles)

If this isn't the most powerful rendition of the song you have ever heard, I don't know what is. They totally get into it and they hold nothing back!! (and they are basically two of the best singers ever!) I love this version :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2uTJl6JWXQ

#12 This is Christmas (by Kutless)

Ok, I lied. I did have a reason for numbering these songs. I purposely put this one at the end because this truly tells of the true meaning of Christmas. This is why we celebrate this holiday. Christmas is nothing without Christ <3 br="">
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EYVWFZ07-U


Well, I hope you enjoyed these 12 songs! I know I loved putting this together :) As much we love this holiday because of the food, family and friends, let's remember the true meaning of Christmas.
 
As Kutless says, "What is Christmas without Christ?"

Merry Christmas and God Bless,

Sarah

Thanks Sarah for this list and may the peace of the Christ Child envelope you now and throughout the New Year!

Patti



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

AHG Girl Blogger Sarah: Top Ten Tips for School Year



Once again the amazing Sarah has shared thoughts of great import to our members and their families.  Sarah it is hard to believe Senior Year is upon you!  May God bless you richly as you represent Him in all you do. To whom much is given, much is expected - our lives COUNT! 
We are proud to call you an American Heritage Girl!

Well, here it is: my senior year of high school. I'm sure many of you are starting school soon or have already started. I have learned so much in these past school years and I have also heard about some struggles of others. So here is a list of some things I have learned, some things others have learned and some things that maybe I haven't dealt with but that may help you. So without further ado, I present to you a list of school helps! (at least I hope they help you ;) )

#1 Keep God first. As much fun extra curricular activities are, make sure that they don't become your idols. Work hard and do your best. Have fun with them! But evaluate yourself: are you focusing on it more and putting it before the Lord and Your time with Him? Then it has become an idol. There are ways to keep God first: do a devo during sports, sing songs that point others to Christ in choir and make sure you are performing to the Lord in plays. Keep God a priority and He'll bless you in your activities.

#2 Don't fall to peer pressure. There are a lot of people who will be pushing you in a bunch of different ways: Do this! Don't do that! Stay here! Make sure you go! It can be hard to know exactly who to listen to. That's where parents and teachers come in. They are there to help you in academics but also socially. Don't be afraid to go to them, or another trusted adult, when you don't know who to listen to. And make sure you always turn to Christ and His word. If anything contradicts with His word, no matter who said it, turn and flee!!

#3 Don't focus on guy/girl relationships. I have made it a point in my life to not date/court in High School. Why? Because in school you should be focused on school! Does that mean you can't get to know guys while in a group setting and even have friends who are guys? Of course not! I have a lot of guys who are my friends! I even went to a soccer game this past summer with my brother and two other guy friends to watch three of my other guy friends play! So you can be friends with guys. The kicker? You can't focus on them. One day I hope to get married, but it's not going to happen during high school, so why start looking? Focus on God and when the time is right He will reveal the right guy for you. Don't rush Him or try to do it yourself: dangerous things can happen. So while in high school keep your focus elsewhere.

#4 Keep distractions at bay. Facebook......tweeting.......instagram.......pintrest........iTunes.......there are a ton of distractions on (and off) the computer that can keep your from your studies and homework. I get distracted really easily (I've gotten sidetracked like five times just as I've written this...) so I have to really watch that I'm not on FB more than I'm actually studying. Set locks, punish yourself, turn the phone off or even go to a different area where there are less distractions. Anything to help you keep your mind on school and off a screen.

#5 Study long and hard. This is pretty self explanatory. You may need to miss some parties and such but in the end good grades pay off. 'Nuf said about that lol!

#6 Surround yourself with good friends. Are your friends keeping your from studying? Hurting you in any way? "Helping" you make wrong choices? Then the answer is this: get rid of them! Yes easier said than done. Everyone wants to be loved by someone. We all want friends! But make sure they are the ones that God wants for you. Keep God first (see #1 ;) ) and He will provide you with good friends. It may be hard and you may be a loner for a while, but standing with God alone is so much better than standing with the world surrounded.

#7 Do what you love. I love choir, so I do it. I love basketball, so I'm on the team. I love theatre, so I
act. Life is to short to do what others want you to do and not do what you love! Will you have to do some things that you don't like? For example: Math? Yes, yes you will. But have some fun in school! High school has been some of the best times of my life. Why? Because I'm with the people I love, learning about things I love, doing things I love and praising God through it all! I already know where I'm going to college and what I'm going to study. I'm getting my English major. Why? (can you guess ;) ) Because I love English!!!! Life is to short to not do what you love, so if God reveals to you what you love: Go for it with all your heart!! :)

#8 Have a good attitude. If you fail, smile and get back up. Enjoy the little things. Laugh often. Praise God. Dance like no one is watching. Have some fun :) God doesn't want us to go through life with a "this is so boring" attitude! Christianity is exciting, we are always learning about God, He is revealing the path He wants us to take, so embrace it! Smile and jump in!

#9 Keep going to church. I know as the school year gets busy it looks more and more appealing to have another day to sleep in. But Sunday is the most important day of the week. Why? You come together with other believers to learn about the most important Person of your life. I know what it is like to sleep in and not do my devos or to miss church. It makes me more tired. Why? I honestly don't know why I feel physically tired, but I know why I feel spiritually tired! It's because I didn't take time for the most important thing: taking the focus off myself and putting it on the Lord! When I miss church or my devos I feel worn out, I feel grumpy and I feel like biting people's heads off! Not literally....but metaphorically. We need that time at church and at personal devos to get our focus right for the week and for everyday. Don't take away your spiritual recharge because your physical feels run down. Keep God the priority.

And for my last "tip".....

(I may be repeating but I feel like this kind of sums it all together)

#10 Do everything for the glory of God. Life is fun, but life is hard. You will have good days and you will have bad ones. You will feel on top of the world one day and down in the dumps the next. Life is full of surprises. But there is one thing that never changes. God. He is always there for you. He is pushing for you, coaching you, picking you up when you're down, disciplining you and standing by you. Do everything for Him. He is why you are alive right now. Every breath you take is a gift from Him. He gave you life, so the least you can do is give your life back to Him. Do what He wants. It may not always be fun, but in the end it is worth it. Glorify Him in your sports, plays, concerts, friends, relationships, activities and school in general. Do everything for the glory of the Lord.

Have a great year everyone! And to us seniors: may this last year be one that we will never forget! Go get 'em, Class of 2014!

Until Next Time,
Patti

Friday, September 13, 2013

Reflection on the Life Cycle of a Ministry - the story of the American Heritage Girls


Woman Interrupted

In 1993, my life’s course changed and I became a “woman interrupted.”  God interrupted my life and called me to found a new organization for girls, the American Heritage Girls (AHG), as a response to the major changes in direction of the Girl Scouts USA.  His voice was clear as to the need for a God -honoring program that utilized some of the scout-type techniques that made the Girl Scouts an effective, transformative organization for generations of girls.

For thirteen years prior to His calling, I served as an active volunteer in GSUSA, using my influence to share the Gospel with my Troop’s members in West Chester, Ohio.  When a choice had to be made as to whom I would serve, Abba Father was my clear choice. 

In retrospect, God had prepared me for the journey on which He had asked me to embark.  He had peppered me with leadership opportunities, instilled a love of country and youth in my heart, and gave me a mind that was inquisitive and determined.  I did not have the educational background, financial resources or experience to launch a nonprofit ministry, but God assured me He would provide all that I needed.

And so it began as so many new ventures begin.  A perceived community need - (God- honoring scout-type organization for girls) - sparked a founding idea and a vision of what could be.  The other founders around my kitchen table brought their program ideas for the new organization and, together, begin creating badge requirements and a skeleton of a program.  Passion ran high which produced quick results and American Heritage Girls was launched within 18 months of its conception.

Laurie Cullen, Patti Garibay - remaining founders
Many of the founders’ passion evaporated when roadblocks seemed to be everywhere.  Without systems and processes developed, issues arose daily.   The pipe dream became an albatross around the necks of the few that remained.  The mission of the new organization was contested.  “God- honoring” was too broad and did not clarify the intent of the mission and seemed to extend the tent too wide.  Confusion resulted, and theological challenges were posed daily. A mission change was needed.  As believers, the leadership team of this new organization knew that confusion does not come from the Father, but from the adversary.

After a prayer -filled Board retreat in the year 2000, five years after its founding, AHG made the bold step of proclaiming its program and goals as “Christ centered”- allowing Churches and private schools to use the program to extend their reach to youth.    Despite the difficulty in making this transfer, the calling on the hearts of the Board of Trustees proved to be ordained.  More people than ever before came forth to offer their talents in organizational management and training.  New ideas erupted from a more diverse community.  And all the while, we were learning.  God allowed us to make small mistakes -skinned knees rather than face plants- which taught us valuable lessons for the future.  We made critical adjustments and once again our faithful Father blessed those changes.  Passion was reignited and prayer was a consistent element of all gatherings of volunteers and girls.  Blessings of resources flowed to allow for paid staff. No longer was the operational unpaid staff simply friends or family members of the founder, but people whose lives had been transformed by God through the work of His ministry.  Christ was blessing our obedience.

The metamorphosis of the fledgling ministry became noticed by the public.   During this time we grew from 100 girls to 10,000 girls. Forty five percent membership increases continue to be the new norm, and attempting to keep ahead of the growth is AHG’s current “modus operandi”. 

Organizational structure is important to reevaluate during this season of AHG as is the management of cash flow.  Governance has changed from operational to policy driven and the Board of Trustees hail from across the nation as do the Troops AHG serves.  I am working diligently on succession planning and building a bench of talent for AHG to enter its third decade of “building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country.”

For me, challenges are no longer considered albatrosses, but opportunities for Him to grow me into the leader He knows I can be.  I have learned humility- that my worth and my ability come from Him alone and the importance of unceasing prayer.  I have learned that His plan is perfect and that He is faithful.  I have learned to open every door He provides in faith and expectation, as He brings His followers to serve AHG with diverse talents and giftings.

Daily I see His love pouring out on other women and men as they too enjoy His divine interruption and call to ministry.  And I, once a woman interrupted, am eternally grateful for God’s calling on my life and look forward to the future of American Heritage Girls and His eternally significant imprint on our nation’s daughters.

                  article published by Outcomes, the Magazine of the Christian Leadership Alliance, Fall, 2013 edition, to see the online version visit www.christianleadershipalliance.org/outcomes and it will be posted soon.



How has God used AHG to interrupt your life so that you could make an impact in the lives of girls?  Share your stories of growth and learning in the comment section of this Blog to be registered in today's birthday celebration contest.  One winner will be chosen to receive paid tuition to AHG’s 2014 National Leadership Conference June 26-28, 2014 in Washington D.C/Northern Virginia.  To learn more about the 2014 NLC, visit
www.ahgonline.org/2014nlc

Must be a currently registered AHG Adult Member to win. Winners will be chosen at random and announced next week via AHG’s Facebook Page.




Until Next Time,
Patti