Sacred Holidays

Christmas is and always has been my favorite time of year. My Neenee’s famous line was, “When are we getting together again?” We would have been together from 8 am to 2 pm on Christmas Eve, she’d ask her question and we would go home to change clothes and go straight back over at 4 that day until we were almost falling asleep and went home.

Fast forward my life a few years. I am married and we share our holiday time between two families, friends, and we have two toddlers. Let’s just say, when you’re 19 and you wake up from a nap to watch White Christmas while gorging on homemade Christmas candy leisurely, it’s a little different than this season. (ha!) But, I’m committed to my faith and family and soul to make Christmas a time of renewal and joy and traditions like it was for me growing up, not just a hurried blur.

Enter our new friend Becky. Several years ago, she had enough of the holiday overwhelm and desperately wanted to connect with Christ during the holidays, not become more distant from Him. Holiday after holiday she found herself caught up in the chaos of the holidays, some parts were so wonderful and some, well, not so wonderful. After talking to lots of her friends, Becky realized she wasn't the only one that felt distracted or distant from God when celebrating His birth (Christmas/Advent) or His death and resurrection (Easter/Lent).

Sacred Holidays started in the fall of 2014 with a simple vision of equipping women with a Bible study to connect them to the heart of God during Advent (Christmas).

The purpose is still the same, just expanded:  

“We desire to connect the heart of women, men, teens, and families to the heart of God during peak seasons of their lives-- the holidays they celebrate. We offer Bible studies during Advent and Lent, and free resources all throughout the year on our blog and for our email subscribers.”

We want to introduce you to Becky and this resource, because as mentors, holidays are a time for extended reflection with our families and community. We CAN both live that AND model that for those we mentor. Also, Becca and I were given the lovely opportunity to write for their teen advent Bible study this year!

EVEN BETTER... Who wants a 10% OFF code? Because, we wrote for the Sacred Holiday's Advent (Christmas) study, He Is: The Attributes of God for Teen Girls (but remember they have options for women, families, and men too)! Go to to check out the shop and use code THEPERCH to get 10% OFF your total order.

All of their studies this year focus on attributes of God, so this would be AMAZING for you to do with those you mentor and your entire family. We will be doing this study and posting what we are learning and would love for you to join us!! Use the hashtag #perchadvent Advent begins November 27th, so don’t delay in getting your copy of this fantastic resource! - Amy

Fall Fun with your Community

Can I tell you guys a secret? Fall is my favorite time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I find deep joy in each and every season, but there’s just something magical about fall!! A crisp chill in the air. Football. Flannels. Bonfires. Chai Lattes. Hayrides. Thanksgiving. ALLTHEPUMPKINTHINGS.

The fun thing is I don’t think I’m alone in this love for fall. Wondering how to make the most of Fall and the people the Lord has placed in your life? Look no further! Here are some ideas to help you not only enjoy all the fall things, but to do so in the context of community--

Fall Treats with a Twist

We know Christmas cookie swaps, but why not have a fall one?! Invite a small group of friends or people you’re discipling over to your house (or any willing host home). Task everyone with baking their favorite fall treat to bring to the party and bring it in an unidentifiable bag. Once there, have everyone place their treat in a centralized location. You can mix and mingle till everyone arrives (maybe sip on some hot apple cider simmering in a crockpot or homemade PSLs?). Then once everyone is there, let the cookie fun begin! Have everyone crowd around the treats and play a game to guess who brought which treat. This will help girls remember each other’s name and get to know each other a little better. Once you finish this, everyone can load up their plate with delicious fall treats to enjoy there and/or to save for later!

Bake to Bless

My mom worked at Southern Living cookbook/magazine for a few years. Since then she has used the passion and skills she gleaned there to bless people around her. Watching her bake pies and cakes and cookies and all the goodies for the sole purpose of giving them away to those in need used to frustrate me because I couldn’t enjoy them for myself. Now that I’m a little more mature (emphasis on the little), I see the great value and beauty in this.

This fall grab a group of ladies, bust out the aprons and mixers and pumpkin puree and whip up a loaf of chocolate chip pumpkin bread or apple pie or pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or whatever you find on Pinterest. Then pick someone to bless! This could be anyone from a neighbor or a friend you’ve been praying for opportunities to minister to, a widow from your church, someone that just had a baby…the opportunities are endless! As your baking together, take time to pray for the recipient. Then load up and take the baked goodies to the person!

Flannel Swap

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been to a scarf swap? **Raises both hands** Don’t get me wrong, I love a good scarf. But this fall, let’s mix things up! Flannel button ups are all the rage -You can layer them, tie them around your waist or just wear them plain buttoned up.

Get some ladies together and have everyone bring a general sized flannel, wrapped up and ready to swap. You can play this “Secret Santa” style where you draw numbers, unwrap and steal, or you can get creative in your method of swapping.

You could also assign each person coming a girl to buy a flannel for, giving her the girl’s size and favorite colors. Then each girl can buy a flannel for each other. Once you go to swap, girls can unwrap their present and then guess who bought for them. This can help girls practice generosity and thoughtfulness towards one another, helping to build community.

Pumpkin Crafternoon

If you’re anything like me, you don’t just love to eat allthepumpkinthings, but you also love to decorate with them! And if you’ve ever glimpsed at Pinterest during the fall, you’ve seen a zillon ideas for painting the cutest little pumpkins.

Invite your girls over, choose which design to paint, buy some cheap little pumpkins from the Dollar Story or Hobby Lobby and whatever other supplies needed and get your craft on! Check out this idea, this one, or this one! If you aren’t feeling the pumpkins, you can also create your own blanket scarves

Halloween Block Party

Halloween is one of those things you either love or you hate. But no matter what your feelings are about Halloween, it is a great time of year to get together with people!

Our church just started doing this thing during Halloween to help us live more missionally in our neighborhoods and I wanted to invite you to join in! Here’s how it works—since people are out and about on Halloween, trick-or-treating and what not, why not make the most of it and invite them to gather in one centralized location to get to know one another and build community?! That’s the heart of the Halloween Block Party!

So get together with your group of ladies and pick a home to host your block party. Think strategically and prayerfully. Once you’ve chosen a home and what day/time, make some invitations and give them out in your neighborhood. On the night of, set up some food, yard games, and prizes in the front yard and welcome all the neighbors that drop by! Pray for the Lord to make some new connections and begin some cool new relationships through this and step back and watch Him work!

These are just a few ideas that came to my mind that I wanted to share to help you build initial friendships and/or grow deeper with your community while also making the most of all the fun fall things! Feel free to mix and match any of these ideas or to recommend some of your own. I always love more ideas for how to enjoy every sweet moment of this glorious season! Happy Fall, y’all! - Mollie

Mollie Tyler is the Associate Student Minister at The Heights in Richardson, TX. She's been on staff since June 2014 and thanks God constantly for the opportunity to shepherd the flock of girls He has graciously entrusted to her! Some of Mollie’s favorite things are traveling, a good cup of coffee, baking, people, adventures, and seeing the Kingdom advance all around her.

Living Missionally through Volunteering

As Christians, we are called to make disciples of all nations. I believe that most of us are aware of this calling yet struggle to truly apply it in our daily lives. Mentoring Generation Z students can seem like a difficult and overwhelming task because they may have different interests and ways of communicating than you and I do. Yet, this can also be a great opportunity to demonstrate a mission-minded lifestyle, specifically in regards to volunteering.

When I was in high school, volunteering was a big deal, but not as much as the statistics show it is now! These stats for Generation Z say, “77% of Gen Z’s are either extremely or very interested in volunteering to gain work experience.” This statement both surprised and encouraged me. We often talk about how the next generation is so self-absorbed with “i-this” and “i-that”. Although that might be true in some cases, there is also a greater sense of belonging and desire to impact the world around them in tremendous ways! They are looking for ways to gain experience and be part of the world. They are more aware than ever of social injustice and willing to fight for their beliefs. So let’s cultivate this desire, passion, and interest when discipling students!

I believe that discipleship is about inviting people into life with Jesus. Too often when we think of the words “discipleship” or “mentoring” we think of sitting across the table from 1-3 people, Bibles open, cute journals at hand, and some fancy coffee close by. Discipleship can look like this, but this isn’t the only way to disciple someone. Think about it, how often did Jesus sit across the table from others and just talk to or teach them? He did instruct in this way, yes, but that wasn’t His only (or primary) means of communication and influence. The majority of the time when Jesus taught, it was when He was out and about with the crowds and His disciples. He used those daily life moments and conversations to teach by living missionally in recognition that He held the words of true life.

Looking at the way Jesus invited his first followers into discipleship with Him, we notice the famous phrase, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19) This invitation by Jesus is an example to us of how important it is to do life with others. It is an invitation to do the things He does and be about what He is about. Jesus led out by living in a way that demonstrates how we also can make disciples by inviting others in.

So what does this have to do with volunteering? Well, if students are looking for opportunities to serve and volunteer, then why don’t we invite them into those places where we are serving already! What a simple way to invite those you mentor into life by spending time serving alongside them and having gospel conversations while doing so!

Now, you might be saying, “But I don’t volunteer anywhere, so how can I invite my girls into discipleship and missional living by volunteering?” Great question! First off, you probably are volunteering your time just to be with these girls, so communicate that to them in a way that encourages them to find other girls to invest into. Encourage them to seek out places to volunteer, as you are leading by example and volunteering your time to be with them. Ask them to bring ideas back to your group and find a place to serve together! What a neat opportunity for a student to find something they are passionate about and then serve in that organization with a mentor like yourself!

Or, you can just start serving somewhere! That might be in the local school district, at your church in the children’s department, at a soup kitchen, or another non-profit close by. Start looking for times and spaces you can volunteer, and organizations that you are passionate about. Then invite others (like those you mentor) into that space with you!

As you serve with those you mentor, seek to have gospel conversations and encourage them to speak words of life to those they are serving. Use the time you have in the car driving to the church or organization to talk about what God is teaching you and pray for the time and people you are about to serve. Encourage your students to ask those they encounter about their lives and how they can pray for them. Challenge your students to share a memory verse with someone new they meet. Debrief after serving and ask them about the people they met and what God taught them. Ask them about how their view and understanding of who God is might have changed after serving today.

Knowing that Jesus used daily life moments and conversations to teach missional living, how can we join Him in His mission for all generations, including this one? - Morgan

Hello Friends! My name is Morgan Marshall, and I work at The Village Church. I love working with Middle School students (and my High School Young Life girls in this picture!) and seeing them grow in their understanding and love for our great God! I love black coffee, hiking mountains, cinnamon rolls, reading, and some good quality time with friends. I am excited to continue seeing the Lord work and move in our world, and desperately want to see the next generation changed because of Jesus. 

What I'm Reading: Ephesians

Ephesians 4:17-24

"Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."

My community and family have been reading Ephesians. A few Sundays ago, we looked at the passage above and asked:

“What does this teach us about God?”

“What does this teach us about mankind/ourselves?”

“Is there an example to follow for the way we live?”

Ephesians was written to the saints in Ephesus (Ephesians 1:1). When Paul says, “ must no longer walk as the Gentiles...alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” he is speaking to followers of Jesus. We cling to grace proclaiming, “it’s by grace I’ve been saved…” (Ephesians 2:8). But, then we live a life of “callous, hard hearts” that are not beating with thankfulness for grace but that function alienated from the rich life Jesus died to give us...functioning in our feeble performance that is fueled by a hard, callous heart.

I do this all the time. I didn’t think that I did. I would have read this passage like, “Whew, glad my heart is good.” But, the more I spend time in prayer I realize my need and that my heart is prone to wander even while I’m singing that lyric in church.

What stands out to me the most in this passage is the reason He gives them when telling them not to live like people who don’t know God: “But that is not the way you learned Christ.” I love that it isn’t: “But that is not the facts you know about God.” Or “But, that isn’t the list of things you should or shouldn’t do that you think make up your faith.” Paul says, “But, that is not the way you learned Christ.”

Our buddy JR Vassar recently said, “Imagine you were a dancer. Every day you go to the studio and practice steps over and over. You spend hours learning choreography with no music. For too long we have taught people the steps of Christianity but not how to listen to the beautiful music of God’s voice.” For me, I know the days I walk apart from the rich life God has, and it is because I’m functioning like someone who doesn’t know God. I have my steps down, but I’m not abiding...dwelling, listening, talking to Jesus continually. I want to not simply learn about Jesus, I want to learn Jesus.

Here are a few things I do to abide:

Acknowledging God wherever you are. Someone hurts your feelings. Immediately in your heart, “Lord, give me wisdom. Remind me her words do not define me. Strengthen my heart with truth.” You’re overwhelmed with your to- do list. Immediately in your heart, “Lord, calm my heart. I breathe in joy and breathe out anxious thoughts. I breathe in grace and breathe out a task-oriented life.” (I actually breathe and do that one out loud sometimes. One day my kids will write a book with all they’ve seen. ha!) You take a moment to enjoy a sunset. Immediately in your heart, “Lord, you are good. Thank you for making all things new- including me.”

Take several moments a day to be still. Whether you are in an office, home, commute...stillness is more about your attitude and heart posture than location. Now zoning out in the middle of a meeting at work is not what I’m advocating. But, you can carve a few mins at your desk or take a walk to your car. Make that time about praying in your heart- pray on the armor of God, tell Jesus about your day, ask the Holy Spirit to help you abide so you bear the fruit of the Spirit. Yes, a full day retreat is amazing, but don’t put off abiding and stillness until the timing and location are ideal and perfect.

Renew your mind. We are all prone to religion instead of relationship. We all spend hours doing choreography without music. Read your Bible. Don’t try to live the Christian life without Christ. Have a great book on your desk, coffee table, kitchen counter, etc and read a page or 2 whenever you have a free minute.

I loved sharing what I’ve been reading. Would love to hear what you’ve been reading! Or, did anything stand out to you in the Ephesians verses? - Amy