Just recently, I came across my diary that I wrote in during my 3rd and 4th grade years.
I was so excited to flip through the pages and be reminded of all of my sweet childhood memories. Instead of a light-hearted childlike biography, I found it to be sad and difficult to read. I expressed a great deal of hate, insecurity, and hopelessness. I don’t remember feeling that way. I knew about Jesus and was even raised in the church, but clearly, He was not who I was depending on for meaning and value.
I don’t think it’s coincidental that I found this diary just weeks before I would be leading an AWANA group of girls at this very same age. I know now how God’s fingers weave their way through our stories, and this felt significant to me.
When Shari and I met to plan the year, we both felt passionate about infusing God’s love into their stories; giving them eyes to see Jesus in both the joys and the challenges. It’s normal for churched kids to know all the right answers about faith and salvation, but for them to connect these truths to their stories is a different thing all together.
So, we gave them blank books to fill with their own stories, and already God is opening hearts. We’ve talked about losing pets, being adopted, getting a new guinea pig, and grieving the loss of a baby brother. All are significant pieces to their stories and part of God’s passionate pursuit of them.
We’re exposing them to stories; women who have been brave for Jesus, hoping to inspire them to find their own path of trust and dependence. We’re finding a lot of joy in each other and talking about how our lives purposefully intersect (or sometimes get knotted up like our room filled with yarn).
It’s an important time in their lives to learn how to know and rest in the love that Jesus has for them, and to see His hand in each of their beautiful stories.
Written by Carissa Kapsalis, T&T Girls Director