I took a much-needed break from life in general to attend the SAGE Girls Ministry Simplicity conference with the girls in our youth group. I don't know how it is for girls in other churches, but the girls (and guys) at our church are overly scheduled, overly busy, and overly stressed. This conference couldn't have come at a better time.
Their theme, as stated on their website, is Simplicity: Freedom from Chaos. The verse for the weekend was 1 Corinthians 7:29 (The Message): "I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don't complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things, your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out."
They kicked off the weekend with a list of 10 things every girl should know, followed by a concert by their Sage all-girl band. The vocals were fantastic, and the instrumentals were good, too. We headed back home where the girls spent the night together, then we went back in the morning.
Apart from the focus on the Lord and making him a priority in their lives, the conference stressed something so important to these girls: time management. They had a funny skit first thing Saturday morning, which was done in a talk-show format. The first guest was an overscheduled girl who was involved in everything. She wanted to experience it all, so she committed herself to more things than she could truly handle, which left her with little time to sleep, have friends, or spend time with God. The next guest was the exact opposite in that she was downright lazy. She did nothing with her time except waste it, mostly with sleeping.
The point of all that was not to go to extremes. We all need to have balance in life, which means working to our potentials, but not overdoing it. They really made a point of letting the girls know that committing themselves to too many things is actually not good. (What a refreshing change from the idea that they need as many activities as possible to list on their college applications!)
Besides simplifying their activities to allow for what's truly important, they were given advice on how to simplify their wardrobes so they don't waste time trying to find stuff to wear. They saw a fashion show that stressed modesty, and were given tips on how to make new outfits out of what they already have. The point was that they don't need to run out and buy new outfits all the time, which just leads to closet clutter and more morning confusion.
Of course, a girls' weekend wouldn't be complete without mention of boys. The women of Sage were wonderfully open in admitting mistakes they made in younger dating lives. One was date-raped, one had sex before marriage, another made her boyfriend her everything, which left her devastated when they broke up. They pointed out to the girls that only God can leave them fulfilled. The Lord wants to be #1 in their lives, and that's where they need to put him. No guy can ever take God's place, and if the Lord is truly #1, they'll have an easier time maintaining their purity, as well.
This opened the floor with my girls later in the weekend to talk about dating relationships. I advised our girls (these were the older high schoolers I was chatting with at the time) to listen to their friends and families when it comes to dating. If the people who are closest to them and love them the most don't like their boyfriends, they should listen. They can save themselves a world of heartache if they pay attention to what their loved ones are saying because they're usually able to see something that the person in the relationship is blind to.
The adult sponsors were also ministered to this weekend. We attended classes just for us. We discussed the serious issues facing many teens today, media influences (we were encouraged to spend time each week checking out the things that they're watching and listening to, such as MTV *shudder*), and given resources to help us out in ministry. I look forward to checking out some of the books and websites mentioned to us. I was also encouraged in obedience to the Lord's will. The testimony of one of the ministry leaders was quite inspiring.
If you have a teenage daughter or work with teen girls, I highly recommend you check out SAGE Girls Ministry. Our girls had a great time, and they were talking enthusiastically all weekend about what they'd learned. They also stated that they came back feeling refreshed in their walks with the Lord. That's always a good thing.