At the end of my first year of BLAZE, I turned to my darling group of middle school girls and asked them what they had learned.
One girl responded and said, “In BLAZE I learned that God loves us no matter what; that no matter what we do, He will still forgive and love us.”
I nearly cried.
This truth is one which I believe to be among the central messages of BLAZE: nothing that you do can make God love you any more or any less.
I was filled with joy to hear this eighth grader reflect on her year of BLAZE by sharing this reality in her own words. She had really understood it. She heard Jesus calling her the beloved and she had come to believe a truth which will be foundational as she moves forward in her walk with the Lord.
You see, middle school is a time of self-doubt. Ask anyone to reflect upon their time in middle school and they will probably describe a detestable period of life plagued with awkwardness, bullying, rejection and uncertainty. Girls spend most of their time - whether they know it or not - grappling with their identity, figuring out what they believe, and discovering who their real friends are.
This is where BLAZE comes in.
BLAZE provides girls with the tools they need to hear who God is calling them to be over and above all of the other voices coming their way. BLAZE builds a foundation from which they can continue to grow.
And what I have been more surprised by than anything in my time working with these seventh and eighth grade girls is that middle schoolers desire to build this foundation. They are teeming with questions and thoughts and they want more than anything to ask and be heard. Every Wednesday, they look up at me with eager, attentive eyes ready to learn and respond. Sure, these girls have to attend BLAZE, but I was shocked to find out that these girls want to attend BLAZE. They want to learn about who Jesus is.
Last week, Lisa Brenninkmeyer shared a beautiful overview about what Blaze is and how the Blaze Leader's Guide can be used. But, there is so much more to BLAZE than just a Leader's Guide. BLAZE is a versatile program with a wide variety of components that can be used in nearly any context.
Here is a brief explanation of the different aspects of BLAZE which we are so unbelievably excited to share with you in August:
1. A Leader's Guide: The Blaze Leader's Guide is a twenty-lesson course designed specifically for seventh and eighth grade girls. With this book, women will have the ideal resource to lead middle school girls to a deeper relationship with Christ. Each lesson compares the lies of this world with the truth found in Scripture. As the girls are introduced to the Bible in relevant and fresh ways, they will grow in their ability to hear the voice of Jesus Christ telling them how loved and beautiful they are. They'll receive powerful tools to help them distinguish between truth and lies, and will be stronger young women as a result. This book is used in conjunction with “The BLAZE Kit,” described below, however it is not directly related to any other component of BLAZE.
2. Between You and Me: Mother-Daughter Conversations: This is a 40-day devotional for mothers and daughters to read together. Each day compares a lie of our secular culture with the truth found in Scripture. The daily reflection, opportunity to journal, discussion questions and prayer prompts will springboard the mother/daughter relationship to a new level of honesty and intimacy. If you want to share your faith with your daughter but could use some help with the words, this book is tailor made for you. The Mother-Daughter devotional can be used beautifully alongside the other components of BLAZE, but it can also be used completely on its own.
3. The Discovering My Purpose Bible Study: This six-session Bible study is designed for middle school girls. This resource opens girls' eyes to their unique purpose, gifts, and God's love. It includes the Blaze Middle School Spiritual Gifts Inventory, a fabulous tool to help girls discern where God is calling them to be world-changers. Discovering My Purpose can be used individually or in a group setting. Again, this study can be used alongside the other components of BLAZE and can also be used completely on its own.
4. The BLAZE Kit: This box of fun contains all of the supplies that you need to use the Blaze Leader's Guide curriculum. This includes, lesson-based take-home gifts, Truth vs. Lie Cards, Icebreaker supplies, packaging supplies and a Prayer Journal! Kits can be purchased for one girl or for five girls.
5. The Prayer Journal: This introduction to journaling as a form of prayer is a part of “The BLAZE Kit” but it can also be purchased a la carte on our website. This journal is a guide for middle school girls to use as they begin to learn how to pray through journaling. Each page of the Prayer Journal contains a Bible verse and the acronym, “ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.” The girls will have space to write down prayers in each of these sections. This product is wonderful for girls whether or not they are using any other component of BLAZE. Here girls will learn how to share their thoughts and feelings with God by writing out their prayers of each day.
We also have two BLAZE retreat guides on the way so stay tuned!
I have spent the past year watching Jesus use BLAZE to transform the hearts and lives of middle school girls by giving them the freedom that comes with understanding His love and grace.
I am now overjoyed to hand BLAZE over to you. It is not the answer to all of the problems plaguing young girls today, but I believe that it is an ordained tool which the Lord will use to move mountains in the lives of your daughters.
The most important thing to remember is this: BLAZE is not the Savior. We are not the Savior. You are not the Savior. And, this is good news because my friends, Jesus is the Savior!
And so, I pray that you may receive this new program with open arms, readily accepting this gift while simultaneously holding onto it loosely in an attempt to let Jesus step in to do the real work.
We hold you and your middle school girls in our hearts and we can't wait to walk alongside you during this most important season of life.