I am mummy to a boy, and all that that entails (slug, snails and puppy dogs tails - Sam really does love slugs and pointing at dogs!). But if I do have a future daughter then there is one thing that I would love for her to be a part of, and that I want to share with all you mum's of teenage daughters out there.
It is called Shine. It is a weekend conference run by Urban Saints for young women to grow in their faith and identity. It provides that vital "girl only" space that is so important for young women to feel comfortable exploring who they are in Christ.
I am sure some people are a bit sceptical about the benefits of having a "girls only" conference - surely they can learn the same things on a normal youth weekend?! But girls face unique challenges as they grow up in the world at the moment - in the media, in schools and in families they are constantly bombarded with expectations and images of what they should be like. And no matter how much you argue that this is the same for boys, it is not nearly as bad!!! This affects self-esteem, self-doubt and leaves girls unclear about their identity, believing they are not good enough.
After having the amazing opportunity to serve as a "Shine Angel" a couple of years ago, I saw the awesome transformation that God can make in the lives of these young girls who attend. The testimonies of girls on the website also ring true about the life-changing affect that getting closer to Jesus and seeing themselves through his loving eyes can make.
The values of Shine are that every girls would see themselves through Christ's eyes - as loved, pure, strong and the daughter of a king. They achieve this through fun and interesting activities - media, art, drama and dance streams that all link in to a common theme - and giving opportunities for the girls to meet with God and respond to His love for them. There are seminars on different topics based around age that give girls an opportunity to explore issues that are affecting them in their own worlds as well as plenty of chances to let of steam and have some fun!
I think the other unique thing about the conference is the "Shine Angels" - older Christian Women who come along to encourage, pray with and journey with these young girls and serve them during their time there. Much more than being leaders, they are examples and show the young women what they can become if they accept those truths.
I am returning this year after a year off for having my son (yes it is pretty tiring work bringing a child into this world so I did allow myself a little breathing space...), but am so excited to be a part of the journey this year for a new group of girls. Hopefully, when my future daughter is old enough, these young girls will be able to be the examples and encouragers and will have found their identity in Christ so that they can show my daughter how much she is loved.