Friday, April 23, 2010

Touching Hearts, Changing Lives.

Last night was the closing program for HeartLIFE, not just for the year, but in addition the program is coming to an end (in its current form, anyway).   It was a bittersweet evening!  I've been working with HeartLIFE for seven years and it has been a joy and delight, and a growing experience in so many ways.

HeartLIFE is a mentoring program for girls which was developed and written by my friend Denise.  Its purpose is to help girls grow to be Godly women, teaching them spiritual lessons and many life skills along the way.  A typical evening would consist of one-on-one time with teachers, a spiritual lesson, and a skill time. 

In the spiritual lessons, girls were taught truth from the Bible, encouraged to begin a relationship with Christ or grow stronger in Christ if they already know Him.  Often teachers would help girls develop Bible reading and study plans, and encourage them to memorize verses and keep journals - all in the interest of making their relationship with God something vibrant and growing.  

Various crafts and skills are taught throughout the year, not just for the sake of the craft, but to lay a foundation and then build on it.  An effort is made to teach some of the arts which are somewhat dying out, as well as helping them develop their skills in more 'popular' crafts; for example girls learn how to knit, crochet, and weave a basket, but they also get an opportunity scrapbook, paint,  cook and bake.  Some classes would put on a Tea or Shower, for another class or for mothers or for a pregnant teacher. In doing this, they learned how to inexpensively and creatively decorate and set tables, how to plan a menu and prepare the food, and how to serve their guests.

When a girl reached 11th grade, she had the option of becoming a Titus Teen, which means she was a helper in a class.  This gave her an opportunity to put into practice what she had been learning herself, as she worked with the girls, got to know them, taught them and loved them.

I love that in HeartLIFE a girl learns that it's okay for her to want to be a girl, growing into a woman.  So much of what our daughters hear from the culture around them is that girls and boys are not really different, and that they should prefer the same things that boys prefer. Nothing could be further from the truth.  God specifically created girls and boys with different interests and strengths, and in HeartLIFE we celebrate the difference and encourage girls to develop womanly skills which will benefit her all through her life.

One of the aspects of HeartLIFE that I have loved is that in practice, it has not just been about women mentoring girls.  Rather, the women themselves have been mentored and encouraged by each other and, at times, ministered to by the love and concern of the girls in their classes.  Relationships were built that were rewarding and meaningful.  I believe that the teachers will miss the monthly Leaders' meetings as well as the weekly meetings with the girls...I know I will!

HeartLIFE was not an easy ministry to carry out.   It required much commitment and time from the coordinator(s), teachers and helpers ... but it was the most worthwhile ministry with which I've ever been involved.  I'm so thankful for my friend's  obedient spirit and servant heart in following the Lord's leading in developing and overseeing this ministry for so many years.  Through it, she and many others have indeed been "touching hearts, changing lives".

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