I love Jesus. And I love reading. That’s not new information though. Even if you don’t know me personally, I’m sure you worked out from the mentions of God, Pastor’s Kids, and letters so far on my blog, that I’m pretty keen on those things. So, you can imagine that I enjoy something that merges the two.
When I was little, my parents used to call me Matilda because I was always reading. I sort of took a ‘reading break’ when I was at University. I was doing so much academic reading there that I had forgotten how to read for pleasure. But since graduating, I’ve been trying to re-find my love for it. And, more importantly, I’ve been making conscious and intentional decisions to read books that point to God’s truths.
In my first blog post, Is There Anybody Out There, I talked about the feelings of loneliness and isolation felt by many Pastor’s Kids and young Christians. One tool that I have recently found to combat these feelings is by reading solid Christian books and blog posts, and watching online videos that are firmly grounded in God’s Word. Though, this is not to suggest that Christians can get by on just reading Christian books – no Christian book, no matter how good or solid it is, can take the place of reading God’s Word, the Bible. We need to be reading God’s Word every day and make sure that, as good and helpful as some Christian books can be, we don’t eclipse daily Bible reading in favour of reading other books. Other books are best read when read alongside the Bible. But that’s a conversation for another blog post.
As a young Christian woman, one ministry in particular that I have found most helpful over the last few months is Girl Defined ministries. Founded by sisters Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird in 2014, Girl Defined ministries seeks to “challenge, encourage, and open your eyes to God’s incredible design for womanhood” and “to help modern girls understand and live out God’s timeless truth for womanhood”. They explain “in a day and age when girls and women receive so many conflicting messages about their value, purpose, and identity, they desperately need to know that the only one who can define them is the One who created them” (all quotes taken from the Girl Defined website). Using blogs and online videos, Kristen and Bethany offer weekly support and encouragement to young women all around the world and are truly building up a warm and supportive sisterhood of Christian girls and women.
After being an avid watcher of their YouTube channel and eager reader of their blogs, I finally got my hands on a copy of their book Girl Defined: God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity. I read it last month, and I am so glad I did. I finished their book feeling empowered, encouraged, and supported. In fact, I felt less alone. It served as a reminder that there are others like me out there, who are striving to live for God and to serve Him with their whole selves, and who are struggling with the same seasons and worries as me. Through their book, and through their wider ministry, I have been able to connect with other Christian girls who share these same values, and sometimes share similar struggles.
Kristen and Bethany’s book tackles what it means to be a woman defined by God in a world that fights against such a definition, and what it means to aim to “hit God’s bull’s-eye”. They highlight the difference between the counterfeit femininity of modern day feminism and the true femininity that comes when we embrace our role as women in the way God intended. They compare the world’s standards of beauty alongside “beauty that doesn’t need a runway” (chapter 8). As well as talking about how we should relate to each other as women – as sisters in Christ – the book explores how to relate to the men in our lives – whether friends, fathers, brothers, spouses, or otherwise, and how to be a good and God-honouring wife and mother, exemplifying the characteristics of a Proverbs 31 woman. They also speak on the topic of singleness, highlighting that marriage and motherhood are not the benchmark of success, encouraging us to view singleness “as an extended blessing instead of a curse” (page 103). As a single young woman, I found their treatment of singleness, and particularly Bethany’s experiences from the standpoint of being a single woman in her twenties, extremely helpful and reassuring.
Kristen and Bethany examine God’s definition of success and how it differs from the world’s picture of a successful woman. They offer advice on how to be productive for God, explaining that everything in life takes on an eternal significance, calling us to be ambassadors – representatives – of God, because “if we don’t model Jesus to the lost world around us, who will?” (page 187). They challenge us to strive to “[create] a legacy that will not fade with time” (page 206). The girls offer guidance on what it means to surrender and “leave the choice” with God, stating “every Christian woman has to make a crucial choice. A choice to follow God instead of listening to the world” (page 76), and reminding us that “whichever path each of us [choose will] determine the course of the next several years – if not our entire lives” (page 59). We would do well to ensure that the path we choose to take is God-honouring one and God appointed one.
I believe that this is the kind of book that every Christian young woman needs to read. And so do plenty of other Christians. All you need to do is look at the endorsements for the book online and in the actual book itself to see the high opinion other Christian authors have of it and of Kristen and Bethany. Like one of my best friends says “it’s always a good sign when good writers recommend other good writers”.
I promise you that I will only ever recommend solid and biblical authors and speakers to you, and I can wholeheartedly back the ministry of Girl Defined. So, dear Christian young woman, please read Girl Defined. This book is a book that I want my sister to read, my younger cousins to read, my closest friends to read, and a book that I urge you, yes you, to read. Read the blog posts on their website, watch their YouTube videos. I strongly believe that it will encourage you, teach you, and be a useful and helpful resource in your own Christian walk.
Kristen and Bethany also have a brand new book coming out on May 1st. Love Defined: Embracing God’s Vision for Lasting Love and Satisfying Relationships will cover topics such as true love, purposeful relationships, sex, boundaries, and singleness. The book is available for pre-order now (I’ve already pre-ordered mine!), and if you pre-order by April 30th, there are a bunch of wonderful extras that you’ll be able to get your hands on free of charge. To find out more about the book and how to pre-order your copy and receive the bonuses go to: https://www.girldefined.com/lovedefined.