What I Needed to Hear {and Read} as a Young Girl

My lovely nieces Faith and Felicity, GEMS Girls Club attendees as well as Sparkle and SHINE brightly readers. Sparkle is written for girls ages 6-8, and SHINE brightly is written for girls ages 9-14. These magazines are used as curriculum for GEMS clubs, but are also available by subscription. Read to learn more and also find out how you can win a free yearlong subscription to one of these two magazines! {Photos by Amber VanderVennen.}

My lovely nieces Faith and Felicity, GEMS Girls Club attendees as well as Sparkle and SHINE brightly readers. Sparkle is written for girls ages 6-8, and SHINE brightly is written for girls ages 9-14. These magazines are used as curriculum for GEMS clubs, but are also available by subscription. Read to learn more and also find out how you can win a free yearlong subscription to one of these two magazines! {Photos by Amber VanderVennen.}

I spent many years attending GEMS club {Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior}, right up through seventh grade.

So when the managing editor for Sparkle and SHINE brightly, publications of GEMS Girls Club International, asked me to write a review of the magazines, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity.

Now, I have to be honest. I get a little scared thinking about the young girl I was during those years I attended GEMS. I mean, I was the child who grew up hoping to become Belle from Beauty and the Beast, but had to wear deodorant to kindergarten. I underwent so many appliances to straighten my teeth, the government could have built a bridge across the Mississippi River with all the recycled metal.

And so on and so forth. I felt awkward; I felt insecure.

So when I got Sparkle and SHINE brightly in the mail to read and review, I took a deep breath before opening one up. “What are these going to say? How will I be taken back to those years that were supposed to be a little more carefree and a little less worrying if I would ever be cool?”

I like that it has fun stories and crafts. It helps me better understand myself as a person, because some of the issues have quizzes. The magazine helps my relationship with Jesus because the theme verse for this year is “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” We should choose truth because He wants us to, and that truth is found in the Bible. {Felicity, SHINE brightly reader}

I like that it has fun stories and crafts. It helps me better understand myself as a person, because some of the issues have quizzes. The magazine helps my relationship with Jesus because the theme verse for this year is “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” We should choose truth because He wants us to, and that truth is found in the Bible. {Felicity, SHINE brightly reader}

But as I read, I realized a lot hasn’t changed for young girls since I was one.

Girls still worry about stuff, some of the same stuff I did when I was younger. Girls still need to hear and read stuff, some of the same stuff I did when I was younger too:

I needed to hear that my purpose was not to try to become somebody else. I needed to be encouraged to think about who God made me to be as a unique person. I needed to be spurred on to think about what I like to do and how I could use that as an act of worship. I needed to be cheered on towards a personal relationship with God.

I also needed to start learning about the greater story happening outside of my own. I needed to be drawn out from my worries and insecurities rooted in self-absorption and begin to look at what was happening beyond my own little world. I needed to know God was working to redeem and restore the entire, big, broken world around me. I needed to view the invitation to be a part of that work.

I needed to know that beyond having a personal relationship with Christ, we also have a communal relationship with God through our congregations and friendships. I needed to take the focus off of myself and put it on the greater God that puts my own life and problems into perspective.

Really, a lot of the same stuff I need to hear today, but spoken to exactly who I was, exactly where I was as a young girl. And I love how these magazines do just that.

I loved reading through three issues of each magazine and seeing articles about personal development, caring friendships, helping refugees, and using small love to do great things. I loved how they encouraged young girls to get out their Bibles and ask questions like, “What is God up to in this story?” and “How does this story point to Jesus?” and “How does this story help you tell your story?”

And as I read, especially transitioning from Sparkle {6-8 years} to SHINE brightly {9-14 years}, I also realized so much has changed for young girls since I was one.

I was young too once, but not during a time where all of life was broadcast in pictures and statuses. Not during a time where the pressures of being cool or the bullying followed you home from the playground and hallways. Not during a time where girls’ schedules were more overloaded with coordinated activities than with time to simply be a young girl.

So as childhood and girlhood changes from what it used to be, it’s great to see these magazines addressing those changes and being relatable for what our precious girls face today. Whether it’s handling technology and social media, learning to become organized when their schedules feel crazy, handling friendships, and becoming servant leaders.

I like that there are crafts sometimes. I like the jokes. Also, the “Find the Differences” activities between two pictures. The magazine helps me be a better friend toward others because there are a lot of articles with lessons in them. This magazine helps my relationship with Jesus because there are lessons with questions. We learned in the Rahab lesson that God has a plan for everybody, even if others don’t accept them. {Faith, Sparkle reader}

I like that there are crafts sometimes. I like the jokes. Also, the “Find the Differences” activities between two pictures. The magazine helps me be a better friend toward others because there are a lot of articles with lessons in them. This magazine helps my relationship with Jesus because there are lessons with questions. We learned in the Rahab lesson that God has a plan for everybody, even if others don’t accept them. {Faith, Sparkle reader}

So if you’re wondering if I would recommend you subscribe to these magazines for your girls, the answer is yes.

I have not yet parented a girl ages 6-14. But these are definitely magazines I would consider adding as a part of my Parenting Village when the time comes. Another resource that would support my daughter as I did my best to point her to Christ. Another resource that would not only address the personal insecurities she may face as a young girl, but would also encourage her to recognize the gifts she has to offer as an act of worship to God and His redemptive work in this world. 

Another resource that would encourage her to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly” with God. {Micah 6:8}

And here’s the best part: I get to offer a FREE SUBSCRIPTION to one of these magazines as a giveaway today!

If you don't already, go and "like" my Facebook Page, and comment on this blog post. In your comment, tag one other friend and I will add both of your names to the drawing. One lucky winner, whose name I will draw tomorrow, will get to choose between a one year subscription to Sparkle or SHINE brightly. 

Even if your daughter{s} already attend GEMS clubs and receive the magazines, you can enter the drawing and give the subscription to someone else as a gift. Is there a neighbor, friend, or relative who might be encouraged by these magazines?

Enter to win today, and tomorrow, “may the odds be ever in your favor.”

 

Grace and Peace,
Kendra

 

P.S. If you want to learn more about these magazines or about GEMS clubs, check out their website and Facebook pages:

Subscribe to SHINE brightly or Sparkle magazine

GEMS website

Sparkle and SHINE brightly Facebook Page

GEMS Facebook Page