Sakura – Cherry Blossom Worship

Ecclesiastes 3:11 New Life Version (NLV)

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has put thoughts of the forever in man’s mind, yet man cannot understand the work God has done from the beginning to the end.

Cherry blossoms or Sakura are fundamental to Japanese culture.  Every year, sometime in April the trees will bloom for less than 2 weeks.  Japanese people see the cherry blossom as a metaphor for human existence. They are powerful, beautiful, but also short-lived.  Within 2 weeks of blooming the tree will be bare of all the flowers. The blossoms having fallen to the ground. While short-lived and somewhat tragic, cherry blossoms remind us to pay attention.  To look at the beauty around us and to fully appreciate it for the time we have it, no matter how short lived.

The cherry blossom also symbolizes renewal.  Even though the blooming season for the blossoms is very short, you can be certain that they will bloom again the following year, bringing another short explosion of beauty.

Cherry blossoms remind us that God puts beauty into the world around us.  Sometimes that beauty is present for a long time, but sometimes that beauty is short-lived and fleeting.  It’s impossible to fully know the road God has set for us, but the cherry blossom is a reminder to appreciate the beauty along the way.

Let us close with prayer.

Dear God,

Sometimes the path you have set for us is difficult and full of challenges.  In hard times remind us of the fleeting beauty of the Sakura. Allow the beauty of the moment and the hope for the future fill our lives and make travelling the path a little easier.  Help us to show others the beauty in everyday life and give us the strength to believe that if today isn’t beautiful, then the beauty is yet to come. This we pray in your name.

Amen

I Am Awesome

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

– Proverbs 31:25

We tend to wear many different clothes (or hats).  You are a student, a daughter, a friend, a CGITer, etc.  You play so many different roles and have so many different jobs.  And these things make our lives crazy!  And sometimes that craziness gets to be too much to handle.  But you are so much more than the hats you wear.  You are an incredibly made, totally unique, inspiring person.

Anima Series Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWi5iXnguTU 

It’s easy it is to lose our smiles and forget to laugh at the craziness of our lives.  You’re not alone. You’re doing this so much better than you think you are. God has entrusted you with your life, your loved ones, your unique challenges because you are perfectly equipped for it all.  You don’t have to be happy all the time, but hopefully you can look back on everyday and find that one thing that made you glad to be alive.  Not smiling for a day, or two or even three isn’t the end of the world, but always remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that the darkness isn’t forever.

Just don’t lose your smile.  Remember that you are AWESOME!!

Let us pray,

Dear God,

Help us to find the good in every day.  We don’t always remember to look for the light at the end of the tunnel, and sometimes we may need other to help light the path along the way.  Thank you for reminding us that we each have special gifts and that we are each awesome in our own way.  We pray that you walk beside us in the dark, and rejoice with us in the light.  Please help us to never lose our smiles!

Amen

The Emperor’s Seed

Scripture: Luke 8:16

No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.

Story:

There was once an Emperor from China who had no children and needed to choose a successor.

Thousands of children from across the kingdom came to the palace and were surprised when the Emperor exclaimed that he was going to choose one of them.  He gave them all a seed.  They were to go home to their villages, plant the seed in a pot and tend it for a year.  When they return in a year, the Emperor would judge their efforts and choose his successor.

There was a boy named Ling who received his seed and returned to his village.

His mother helped him to choose a pot and put some soil into it.

Ling watered his pot every day.

Once a week, the children of the village would get together to compare their plants.  After a few weeks, there were signs of life in all but Ling’s pot.

The weeks passed and Ling continued to water his pot every day.

After a few months, the pots really came to life.  Some had trees starting to grow, some had flowers and some had leafy shrubs.  Poor old Ling still had nothing growing in his pot, leading the other children to make fun of him.

Ling continued to water his pot every day.

A year passed and it was time to return to the palace to show what had grown and decide on the new heir.

Ling was anxious as his pot still showed no signs of life.  “What if they punish me?  They won’t know that I’ve watered it every day, they’ll think that I’m lazy.”

His mother looked him in the eye and explained that whatever the consequences were, he had to return and show the Emperor his barren pot.

Ling and the other children entered the palace gates.  By now, some of the plants were looking magnificent and the children were wondering which one the Emperor would choose.

Ling was embarrassed as other children looked at his lifeless pot and scoffed.

The Emperor came out and started to make his way through the crowd, looking at the many impressive trees, shrubs and flowers that were on display.  The boys all puffed their chests out and tried to look as regal as possible, hoping that they would be chosen as the heir to the empire.

Then the Emperor came to Ling.  He looked at the pot then he looked at Ling.

“What happened here?”  He asked.

“I watered the pot every day, but nothing ever grew.”  Ling muttered nervously.

Then he grumbled something to himself and moved on.

After a few hours, the Emperor finally finished his assessment.

He stood in front of the children and congratulated them on their efforts.

“Clearly, some of you desperately want to be Emperor and would do anything to make that happen, but there is one boy that I would like to point out as he has come to me with nothing.  Ling, come here please.”

“Oh no,” thought Ling.  He slowly sauntered to the front of the group, holding his barren pot.

The Emperor held up the pot for all to see and the other children laughed.  Then the Emperor continued, “A year ago, I gave you all a seed.  I told you to go away, plant the seed and return with your plant.  The seeds that I gave you all were boiled until they were no longer viable and wouldn’t grow, but I see before me thousands of plants and only one barren pot.  Integrity and courage are more important values for leadership than proud displays, so Ling here will be my heir.”

Prayer:

God, help us to live each day with integrity.  Remind us that while doing the right thing might be hard, it is also important.  Help us to find the courage to be honest with you, ourselves and those around us.  This we pray in His name, Amen.

I Wish You Enough

Everybody wants happiness, nobody wants pain, but you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.

– Unknown

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Trust is hard.  It’s not something that is easily given and we normally consider it something that needs to be earned.  While it makes sense not to trust certain people, we do trust others without much thought.

Who are some people you SHOULDN’T trust?

Who are some people you SHOULD trust?

God is one of those people that we should be willing to trust.  But that isn’t always easy.  Sometimes life sucks, or challenges are thrown at us.  Friends move away, people die and the world seems to be a very unfriendly place.  During those time it can be hard to trust God.  After all, why would He allow such things to happen?  Why would He make friends move away, or let people die?  It gets to be really hard to trust in God when those things happen.

I want to share with you a short poem that helps me remember that there is a purpose behind everything.  Even when it hurts, or it’s challenging, or we wish more than anything that it hadn’t happened.

“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Goodbye.”

– Bob Perks

Remember that the day wouldn’t seem so beautiful if it didn’t follow the night.  A candle wouldn’t seem as bright if it wasn’t surrounded by darkness.  Sometimes those scary things, or the sad things allow us to see the joy and happiness and beauty that life can give.

God gave all of us free will.  He gave us the ability to think and to make our own choices.  With that freewill comes responsibility.  The world will throw the dark at us, so it is up to us to be the light for each other.  When someone is scared, be the candle that illuminates the darkness, when someone is sad, be the comfort they need.  And trust that God will provide the light and good.  Trust in Him that while the present may be dark and scary, He will show us light in the future that will seem all the brighter for having walked through the darkness.

Let us pray,

God, thank you for walking with us through the darkness.  For holding our hand when things get scary and for ensuring that we are surrounded by people who are willing to be Your light in the world.  Help us to be that light for others and to remember that when we are in our own darkness that there is light coming and that it will be beautiful.  Thank you for giving us enough.

Amen

Purpose Study

I’m including some program ideas.  Please feel free to add to them, or delete them as is applicable to your group.  Some of the ideas I have used with various groups, some are new ones (to me) that I haven’t tested out yet.  Many of these ideas have been developed over the years of researching for my own CGIT group.   I don’t claim them to be original ideas, many of you may have used the same or similar activities yourselves.

One of our basic rules in CGIT is, “What happens in CGIT stays in CGIT”.  We remind the girls that they may be honest with the group and that we won’t be sharing their thoughts and feelings with others.  Of course, if there is a disclosure of some kind that needs to be dealt with, we do that.  It’s more to ensure that the girls aren’t going back and sharing others personal ideas/thoughts with people outside of the group.

We try to use at least three different versions of the Bible when we are looking at the Scriptures.  This encourages us to look at the different language and talk about how the times of the Bible were different from now and how different interpretations/wording may influence our thinking.

Please remember that the most important thing is to listen to the girls and follow their lead.  This is an opportunity to see where the girls are in understanding our four-fold purpose.  You may end up in a totally different place than you anticipated, or you may end up where you planned but through a totally different route.

Cherish Health

There are many different aspects of “Cherish Health”. As CGIT we need to look at our physical health, mental/spiritual health, and emotional health.  These are all interrelated.  It is possible to study each individually or to combine them together.  I will often focus on one aspect of our health each year.  Bringing the others into the discussions, but maintaining one as the main focus.  Over the past few years, we have also included the health of the earth in our discussions.  Recognizing that if the earth is not healthy, we can’t be totally healthy either. 

Physical Health – Think of your body as a temple

Scripture:  1 Corinthians 6: 12 – 20, focusing on 19

Start the session with the girls writing down how they feel about themselves.  Ensure that they know they will not be handing anything in, and that they don’t need to share if they don’t wish to.  It is important that they know they are in a safe environment where they can be honest with themselves.

Ask them what they are:

      1. Really happy with,
      2. Satisfied with,
      3. Don’t really care about.

Are there things that they would change if they could?

Are there things that they would like to change, but don’t feel that they can?

Are there things that they’d like to change, but can’t and are having a hard time coping with it?  

Does anyone have ideas to help us cope with these things?

Remind them to look at:  (add any others)

  • hair       
  • teeth          
  • complexion         
  • weight      
  • nails          
  • height           
  • posture      
  • nutrition          
  • amount of sleep            
  • physical exercise        
  • ability to express oneself
  • feelings of self-worth              
  • how I cope with stress          
  • choice of friends

Ask if anyone is willing to share their thoughts, be willing to share some of yours.

  • Start with the positives, then work on what they don’t like, but finish with ideas to help change things.  We might not be able to change everything, like our height, but maybe we can help each other to look at being short as a good thing (or being tall).  What are the advantages?

Ensure that everyone has some things they are happy about before you move on.

After sitting for a while I like to get up and move, and often will use a song.  Put “Your left hand in”, works well here, as does “We are one in the Spirit”, or “Grab another Hand”. Or try a community massage, where everyone stands in a circle, facing one direction and massages the shoulders of the person in front of them.  Remember that not everyone likes to touch or be touched by someone they don’t know. 

Mental/Spiritual Health – Still thinking of your body as a temple

Scripture:  Philippians 4: 4-9

I like to start with giving a brief history of Paul and his visit to Philippi, the friendship that developed between Paul and the church of the Philippians. Paul writes this while being imprisoned in Rome about 10 years after his visit.  Paul is trying to encourage the people of Philippi to grow in their faith in God despite his own current circumstances.

Read the scripture together, from at least 2 different translations.  Ask the girls to jot down the virtues that are listed.  Then ask them to think of their opposites.  Talk about which words they use most often to describe themselves, why are those the ones that they use.

Virtues: (I’ve listed some of the different words that appear in various translations)

  • True
  • Just
  • Honest
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Honourable
  • Noble
  • Right

Talk about which words we should use to describe ourselves (ie:  the positive ones)

What stops us from using them?  Encourage the girls to talk about each other and other people using only positive virtues.  Stress that virtues are positive.  Make it a challenge.  See how many can go through the day at school/work only talking about the virtues of other people.

Make a collage of pictures or words cut out of magazines or newspapers showing examples of these virtues.  Or, have the girls draw a picture.  Use any combination of the above idea.  The girls could work individually or as a group.

Another activity is to have the girls draw a large circle with spokes (think bike wheel but not that many spokes!, 5 is good.)  You could also draw the wheel ahead of time and either complete it individually or as a group.

In the centre of the circle, write an action that describes a virtue you or someone else has exhibited.

In one section write some words or short phrases about that action.  (Thoughts)

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Emotional Health – Matthew 6:  25 – 34

So often our health is affected by how we are dealing with stress, we need to adopt healthy ways to reduce our stress.  In this passage we aren’t being told to be reckless and thoughtless.   Instead we are being told that God is aware of our needs and that we will be looked after.  God has given us life, so we need to trust that God will also give us what we need to live our lives to our full potential.  Verse 33 tells us that God will provide everything we need.  In verse 34 we are being told to live one day at a time, tomorrow will come whether or not we worry about it. 

With the girls read the passage over, again, from a couple of different translations.

Talk about the two different types of stress:  positive and negative

Positive stress can be challenging, exciting, making life interesting and fun.  This type of stress with give you a “natural” high.

Negative stress can be feeling unable to cope, frustrated, even being in a “high risk” situation.  Stress that is negative may affect you both physically and emotionally.

Physically:  muscle tension, headache, pounding or racing heart, queasy stomach, fatigue

Emotionally:  inability to concentrate, irritability, feeling wiped out/exhausted

Invite a guest speaker in to talk to the girls about various forms of relaxation:  exercise, yoga, mediation, ……

Encourage them to “live for the moment”.  When you are worried about all you need to do, tell yourself to stop and just enjoy the moment you have in front of you.  “Take time to smell the roses”.

Concentrate on your tense muscles.  Massage the spot if you can, or ask a friend to, but make sure you return the favour.  Take deep, slow breaths, open and close your fists, rotate your ankles, stretch.

Talk about stress reducers that we have available to ourselves.

  • Regular exercise
  • Eat well-balanced meals
  • Plan your time
  • Say “no” when you need to
  • Talk to someone
  • Laugh
  • Have faith in our Creator
  • Develop a good support system
  • Regular rest
  • Mediate
  • Learn how to express your anger or frustration effectively
  • Choose an activity to do just because you enjoy it, not because you have to do it
  • Break your problem into small, manageable pieces – tackle one at a time

There are many others that the girls may come up with on their own.

As a group play a silly game, sing a silly song, just have some fun and laughter for a few minutes (or longer!)

Suggestions:

Games:

  • make snow angels
  • have a relay game
  • make “warm fuzzies”
  • play “statues”
  • play with modelling clay

Songs:  (from various CGIT songbooks)

  • “Who Stole My Chickens and My Hens”
  • “Don’t dump your junk in my backyard”
  • “One bottle of pop”
  • “The more we get together”
  • “Put your left foot in”

Seek Truth

There are many ways to “Seek Truth”.  One that our group enjoyed a few years ago was looking at Illusions.  We printed off a number of black line illusions free from the internet and looked at them.  We discussed how different people saw different images.  When we helped each other we were able to see the same things. 

For some of the images we only looked at them for about 10 seconds and then quickly jotted down what we saw.  We’d do this for a couple and then compare our perspectives.  Then continue with a few more.

Have the girls sit in pairs with one girl holding something like a cereal box or Kleenex box.  Have each girl describe what they see, and only what they see.  One may describe the Kleenex coming out the top of the box, one may see French words, a UPC code, manufacturer’s information, etc.

Point out that they were looking at the same thing, but “seeing” different things.  One was not right and the other wrong, just different.

We all see things from different perspectives and viewpoints.  That doesn’t make a difference. 

Ask the girls if they can come up with examples of when they’ve seen something differently than someone else.  Discuss how it is important to accept other’s viewpoints, and how we need to be willing to listen to others and our differing ideas.

Scriptures:  Exodus 20 & Matthew 22:  34 – 40

We also looked at these passages from various translations and how they were similar, and how they differed.  We talked about how different people interpret them in the world now. 

I also shared an old story I had with the girls about a man who dies and goes to Heaven where he meets St. Peter.  St. Peter tells him that before he is admitted to Heaven he has to complete an entrance exam.

This exam has only 3 questions: 

  1. What days of the week begin with the letter “T”?
  2. How many seconds are there in a year?
  3. What is God’s first name?

The man goes away and thinks for a while and returns ready to give St. Peter the answers.   Ask the girls for answers before you share the man’s answers.

  1. That would be “Today and Tomorrow”

St. Peter agrees with him although that wasn’t what he was really expecting.

       2. The answer is 12

St. Peter can’t see how he got that answer so he asks the man to explain.

The man replies, “January second, February second, March second, …….”

Again, St. Peter agrees that although that wasn’t what he was expecting, he’d accept the man’s answer as correct.

        3. God’s first name is “Andy”.

St. Peter is astonished and asks the man how he came up with that answer.  The man replies:  “From the song we use to sing in Sunday School.  “Andy he walks with me, Andy he talks with me, Andy he tells me I am his own……..”

Just because someone doesn’t see things the same way you do, or understand things the same, does not mean it’s wrong!!

We have also looked at ads on TV, in the newspaper, or magazines.  Reading newspaper or magazine articles that present different points of view on a topic are also a way to encourage the girls to try to “see things” differently and to “Seek Truth” about what is happening.

Also remember, that what we “See as Truth” today, may change as we grow and experience new and different things.  Our lives will determine our perspective.

There is always another point of view!

Know God

“Knowing God” is a concept many of us struggle with.  We have to rely on others interpretations of what happened many, many years ago in the Bible, as well as our own experiences in our individual faith journeys.   There are many ways to encourage our girls to “Know God”.  This is one part of the purpose where I seem to learn something new every year.  Be open to the girls ideas and listen to how they have come to “Know God”. 

  1. Choose a story from the Bible.  Read it from a number of different translations and discuss how they are similar/different, and how they relate to todays world.  One I like to use is the story of Peter and John in Acts 4: 1-14.  Focusing especially on verse 13.  The Good News version says:  “ They realized then that they had been companions of Jesus”.  How would the people have known this?  How did Peter and John act or talk that was different from the other people?   What did they do?  (They talked about Jesus without fear).  Peter and John were kind, and considerate, but also strong and fearless because of their faith.  The people in the crowd probably saw in them some of the same qualities that Jesus had.

How should we be acting in our daily lives so that others may know that we are Christians without us saying so?

  1. Look at the Christian symbols around us.  What do they mean?  Why do we    use them?  Are they still meaningful to us?  Design a new one that is meaningful to your group.  You may want to have some samples of Christian images with you.  Depending upon where you meet, there may or may not be some visible.
  2. Study the meaning of worship and what the different sections of a worship service are.  The “5 W’s”.  Who worships?  What is worship?  When do we worship?  Where do we worship?  Why do we worship?
  3. Visit other denominations and learn about their beliefs and practices.
  4. “If God Should Speak” This is a girl saying the Lord’s Prayer, and “God” answers her.  Using this dialogue can be quite thought provoking.  Either two leaders should read the parts, or a leader and a senior girl.  I have seen many different versions of this over the years, but my favourite part is still when God says:  “Praying is a dangerous thing.  You could wind up changed, you know.”
  5. Ask the girls about people they know, or know of who’s lives demonstrate a strong faith in God.  This could include historical people, as well as parents or grandparents, people in the community, teachers, etc.  I often share the story of Jean Vanier and the L’Arche communities that he has created.
  6. In a book called “Goof-Proof Skits” there is a skit called “All the Answers”.  This is about a girl, Brenda, looking at universities.  She is trying to decide where she should attend.  The girl starts to pray and God answers her.  Throughout their dialogue, God is telling Brenda how she should act, and God’s will for her and her life. 

Discuss how our faith affects our daily lives.

  • I’ve also used a rock, sponge, and some water.  In this activity, I compare how the Word of God won’t affect someone with a hard heart (stone), but can affect someone with the right heart (sponge).  Put the rock in the centre of the table and talk about how it represents someone with a hard heart.  Spray it with some water and discuss the changes.  The water just rolls off.  It will not soak in. 

Then place the sponge in the centre of the table.  Discuss what it looks like, and how it is to represent someone with an open heart.  Spray it with some water and point out how the water is soaked up.  Just like if we keep an open heart, we will to open to truly “Know God”.

Serve Others

Part of our Purpose is to “Serve Others”, but how do we serve others?  The groups I’ve been involved with have done so many things over the years that it’s hard to know where to start.  Years ago we had a “Babysitting Course” from the Red Cross, now we tend to do First Aid Training instead.  We have gone and helped at the Food Bank, studied Missionaries and how they have “served others”.  We’ve had baking nights where we bake cookies or muffins for community schools in our neighbourhood. 

The following are a few of the many scriptures I have used with “Serve Others”.  I like to emphasize that we are all one family and that we need to look after each other and help each other – this includes respecting the earth for future generations. 

John 15: 12 – 15  (Here Jesus tells us that we are no longer servants, but friends)

John 13:  34, 35  (Love one another)

Matthew 5:  14 – 16  (Don’t hide your light, let it shine)

This is a list of some of the activities we have taken on over the years to “Serve Others”.  It is by no means a finite list.  Each group adds to it, however, there are also many that we do every year.

Suggested Activities:

  • Present the Vesper Service in a Senior’s Complex or Nursing Home
  • Carol and visit at a hospital
  • Help out at teas at the Church or other locations
  • Offer free babysitting for Church events in the evenings
  • Collect food for the Food Bank
  • Gift wrapping – money went to the Food Bank
  • Secret Pals
  • Help clean up the Church or Church camp
  • Take part in Church services:  ushering, reading, greeting
  • Heart and Stroke walks/Cancer walks/etc
  • Adopt a Family at Christmas and provided them with Christmas meals and gifts
  • Pancake Supper – ours went to support a local eating disorder centre

Initiation Service

Today we join in the celebration of CGIT as we receive new members into the fellowship of the Canadian Girls in Training program. While doing this we take the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the fulfillment of our CGIT Purpose.

I would ask that all former members of CGIT stand and join us in repeating the CGIT Purpose:

As a Canadian Girl in Training,                                                                                                             Under the leadership of Jesus,                                                                                                             It is my purpose to                                                                                                                                 Cherish Health,                                                                                                                                     Seek Truth,                                                                                                                                             Know God,                                                                                                                                               Serve Others,                                                                                                                                         and thus with His help become the girl God would have me be.

We have ____ new members this year and I would like to introduce them:

___________________,  _______________,  __________________,  ___________________.

You have repeated the Purpose which governs us as Canadian Girls in Training. Are you willing to accept this Purpose and to make it your own by following it to the best of your ability?  If so, will you answer now, saying, “God helping me, this will be my Purpose.”

God helping me, this will be my Purpose.

As new members of ___________ CGIT, will you now tie your tie.

The CGIT tie is tied with a special 4 square knot. This knot symbolizes the 4 parts of the Purpose and is a reminder to all our members as we strive to live our lives as God would have us live.

As we Cherish Health, both physical and mental, we must remember what God wants for us. In the choices we make, the activities we choose, God is to be with us.

The best way we know to Seek Truth is through God’s Word. It is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. God must be central throughout our entire life.

As we seek to Know God we should set aside time for personal devotions, for prayer and study.  We must open ourselves to God and to the opportunities that God provides.

God presents us with many opportunities to Serve Others. We are called to reach out to God in faith and in love and to respond to the needs of others.

_____________ and __________, as Canadian Girls in Training, you are welcomed now to the CGIT Group at __________Church. You are also welcomed to the wide community of CGIT all across Canada.

The pin you receive is round, symbolizing a circle of friendship, of oneness of spirit. For this reason, groups often form a circle for opening and closing ceremonies. The pin also symbolizes the four-fold Purpose of CGIT which is to develop wholeness of life – physical, intellectual, social and spiritual.

Today ________ and ________  receive their white lanyards, the symbol of a senior member of CGIT.  We remind you that as senior members, new adventures are coming your way. You will be called on even more for your creativity and talents. You will also be required to demonstrate your own special brand of kindness, thoughtfulness and good humour. Always remember that regardless of the situation, you and God together make a winning combination. It is important for you to accept the opportunities that come your way and to undertake them to the best of your ability.  As we recognize our own gifts and our own needs and act upon them, we continue to grow to become the girls God would have us be.

We also have a number of “Junior CGIT” girls that we would like to acknowledge.  These are girls who aren’t quite 12, but have expressed a desire to be a part of our group.  They have fantastic ideas and are certainly adding some life to our meetings.  They are:  _____________, ___________________, and ____________________.  We look forward to their continued growth as Christian girls and the enthusiasm they add to our group.     (These girls wear white shirts or middies, navy or black skirts, and black ribbons with the celluloid CGIT pin.)

We are a few among many Canadian Girls in Training who live in every part of Canada. We celebrate with all of these others as we begin our CGIT year. By following our CGIT Purpose and remembering to keep God and not ourselves central in our lives, we can indeed become the person God intends us to be.


The above Initiation service has been adapted by Heather Berriault from the CGIT Leaders Resource printed in 2001.

In our group we also like to acknowledge the girls receiving their white lanyards.  We traditionally hold our Initiation Service during our local church’s Sunday morning worship.  We then celebrate with the girls, their families and congregation with coffee (sometimes goodies!) after the service. 

We often have some of the senior girls reading parts of the Initiation service.  We do usually have a CGIT leader read the “promise” part of the service. 

Feel free to adapt this to “make it your own”.  Nothing is written in stone and personalizing it to your own situation is always best.  Hopefully this will give you a starting place.

Bell Let’s Talk Day – Worship

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

– Philippians 4:13

Does anyone know what’s important/special about today?

It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day

They are encouraging people to talk about mental health and their own struggles with mental health.

They are trying to remove the stigma associated with mental illness

Stigma is “a mark of disgrace on something”

Intro Questions/Prompts

What is mental illness or mental health?

Why might it be important to talk about?

Why does mental health have a stigma?

Do you have people in your life that you can turn to if things get tough?

What sorts of people can you talk to?

Kids Help Phone (1-800-669-6868)

What should you do if you are worried about the mental health and safety of a friend?

The Morning After

The morning after I killed myself, I woke up.

I made myself breakfast in bed. I added salt and pepper to my eggs and used my toast for a cheese and bacon sandwich. I squeezed a grapefruit into a juice glass. I scraped the ashes from the frying pan and rinsed the butter off the counter. I washed the dishes and folded the towels.

The morning after I killed myself, I fell in love. Not with the boy down the street or the middle school principal. Not with the everyday jogger or the grocer who always left the avocados out of the bag. I fell in love with my mother and the way she sat on the floor of my room holding each rock from my collection in her palms until they grew dark with sweat. I fell in love with my father down at the river as he placed my note into a bottle and sent it into the current. With my brother who once believed in unicorns but who now sat in his desk at school trying desperately to believe I still existed.

The morning after I killed myself, I walked the dog. I watched the way her tail twitched when a bird flew by or how her pace quickened at the sight of a cat. I saw the empty space in her eyes when she reached a stick and turned around to greet me so we could play catch but saw nothing but sky in my place. I stood by as strangers stroked her muzzle and she wilted beneath their touch like she did once for mine.

The morning after I killed myself, I went back to the neighbors’ yard where I left my footprints in concrete as a two year old and examined how they were already fading. I picked a few daylilies and pulled a few weeds and watched the elderly woman through her window as she read the paper with the news of my death. I saw her husband spit tobacco into the kitchen sink and bring her her daily medication.

The morning after I killed myself, I watched the sun come up. Each orange tree opened like a hand and the kid down the street pointed out a single red cloud to his mother.

The morning after I killed myself, I went back to that body in the morgue and tried to talk some sense into her. I told her about the avocados and the stepping stones, the river and her parents. I told her about the sunsets and the dog and the beach.

The morning after I killed myself, I tried to unkill myself, but couldn’t finish what I started.

– Meggie Royer

Wrap-up

There is beauty in everyday.  It’s in the simple things that we so often over look.

Chances are, we will all need help at some point in our lives.  And if we don’t need it, we will know someone who will.

By talking about mental health and illness we make it an “ok” thing to talk about.

By showing someone that you are open to talking, you might just save a life.

If people don’t have to worry about the stigma of reaching out for help hopefully they’ll do it more often.

Is there anything else people want to know?  Anything else we should talk about?

Closing Prayer

Let us pray,

Life isn’t always easy.  It can be scary and dark and sometimes we might need a little help to get through.  Help us to find the courage if that time comes, and to answer the calls of help from those around us.  Remind us that there is something beautiful in every day and that all you need to do is find that beauty.  Be with all those who are struggling with their own demons right now.  Help them to see that they are far from helpless and that they are so incredibly brave to keep fighting.  This we pray in Jesus name.

Amen

S’mores – Vespers

Kneel Always

Kneel always when you light a fire! 

Kneel reverently and thankful be

For God’s unfailing charity;

And on the ascending flame inspire

A little prayer, that shall upbear

The incense of your thankfulness

For this sweet grace

Of warmth and light!

For here again is sacrifice

For your delight!

Kneel always when you light a fire!

Kneel reverently and thankful be

For God’s unfailing charity.

Fire’s Burning (sung)

Fire’s burning                                                                                            

Fire’s burning                                                                                                

Draw nearer                                                                                                    

Draw nearer                                                                                                        

In the gloaming                                                                                                

In the gloaming                                                                                            

Come sing and be merry!

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

– Isaiah 41:10-13

“A man thinks he can fly, but he is afraid to jump.  A poor friend pushes him from behind.”  He looks up at me.  “A good friend jumps with.”

– Pierce Brown, Morning Star

One of my favourite things about camping is spending time by the campfire.  For me those few hours are when I get a chance to decompress and relax.  There’s also something hypnotizing about watching the flames, how can something so destructive look so beautiful?  In my family campfires generally include one of a few thing: marshmallows, bannock, or s’mores.  S’mores are by far my favourite campfire treat. 

They mean a lot to me.  They’re something I’ve been eating for as long as I can remember and when I eat them I can’t help but think about all of the trips I have taken with my family and the good times we’ve had while camping.  So being the well trained CGIT leader that I am I decided to write a vespers about s’mores. 

S’mores are made up of three very different components.  You have the graham wafers, marshmallow and chocolate.  Without any of these pieces you wouldn’t have a s’more.

Graham wafers: On it’s own the graham wafers are pretty boring.  There’s nothing terribly exciting about them.  They make a good base for other snacks and a good top for different ones but on their own?  They’re nothing spectacular.  That being said, in a s’more the graham wafers play a crucial role.  They hold everything together and keep our hands from getting mucky.  It’s like how our friends and family play a crucial role in our lives.  Like the graham wafers hold the marshmallow and chocolate, our support systems hold us up when things get tough.  All too often our support systems are the only things holding us together and keeping us from falling apart.  Like the graham wafers are necessary to make a complete s’more, our friends and family are necessary to make us complete too.

Marshmallow: Let’s be honest.  Marshmallows are pretty great.  Even on their own marshmallows are a treat and really yummy to eat.  They are also sticky, messy and squishy.  The marshmallow is you.  We are imperfect.  If you squeeze us too hard, or put too much pressure on us we tend to get sticky.  Our lives are often messy and not easily contained which is where our support system comes in.  When we start oozing everywhere we need those strong sides to pull us back together and hold us in.

Chocolate: You might be wondering what the chocolate represents.  The chocolate is God.  He is the treat at the centre of the s’more.  Like the chocolate, God has that melt in your mouth quality.  He fills all of the spaces left over and gives you a little burst of energy when you need it most.  Chocolate has been proven to help with heart health, work as a stimulant and has many other health benefits.  These are all qualities that God also does for us.  Having that chocolate at the centre of the s’more gives us something to look forward to and to hopefully want more of.

S’mores need all three of these things together to actually be s’mores.  Just like you need all three things to be a complete Christian.

One last thing, did you know that the word s’more is actually a combination of 2 words?  S’more combines “some more”  into a single word.  The story is that this is because you can’t eat just one and always want some more s’mores.  The same should hold try for your spiritual life as well.  You should always strive to have “some more”.  Some more faith, some more trust, some more belief.  Remember that God is always there for you and always willing to help you find that “some more” of whatever you need at that given time.

Song: Shake Another Hand

Let us pray,

God thank you for helping us to find the “some more” in every day.  We ask that you help us to remember that You and the people that surround us are a vital part of making us who we are.  Help us to remember that we are not along when life gets a bit sticky or messy.  All too often when things get tough we forget that we are surrounded by people who care about us and who want to help.  Be with us when that happens and please help to guide us back to your plan.

Amen

Spiritual Gardening – Worship

What three things does a plant need to grow and thrive? Water, sunlight, and soil, of course!

Spiritual Gardening Necessity #1: Soil

Plants need a good foundation of soil to start their growth. For Christians, our “soil,” our foundation, is Christ. Christ nurtures us and supports us. He gives us a place to extend our roots in safety.

Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

– John 15:4 (MSG)

Just like a plant needs nutrient rich soil to thrive, Christ gives his children every possible nutrient we would ever need: Peace, Love, Encouragement & Wisdom… and His supplies are unlimited.

Spiritual Gardening Necessity #2: Sunlight

What else do plants need to grow? Sunlight.

Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

– Psalm 119:105 (KJV)

The word of God is our sunlight. Plants grow towards the light. They long for the warmth and strength that only sunlight can give. As Christians, we should also lean towards the light, His Word, for guidance, and strength. It can give us warmth and comfort in times of struggle, and lead us on the clear path in times of doubt. The lessons are a source of many things we need in our Christian life.

Spiritual Gardening Necessity #3: Water

Last but not least, plants need water to sustain them. I like to think of that much-needed water as fellowship with fellow Christians. God didn’t intend for us to grow alone, but to be there to encourage each other in Christ.

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.  Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church[a] sins against me, how often should I forgive?  As many as seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times”.

– Matthew 18:20-22 (NIV)

We took pleasant counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company.

– Psalm 55:14 (MEV)

Fellow Christians are meant to come together, loving one another and supporting each other as we grow. Fellowship can be refreshing to a soul, just like water to a plant. It can help us perk up on a particularly draining day or quench a thirst. Water can be a vessel for the nutrients we need to grow.

Don’t Forget the Weeds

Now that we’ve talked about the essentials, don’t forget about the “weeds” that can sprout up in our gardens, both in real life and in our spiritual life. Weeds come in all shapes, colours, and sizes. Some weeds are easy to spot and pull, while other weeds, like wayward friends or feelings of bitterness and anger, can be hard to keep away.

Weeds choke plants, creating an atmosphere where growth can be impossible. Weeds work in our lives much the same way. They distract us from Christ as we pour all our vital nutrients into them instead of our Christian growth. Weeds can crush smaller, weaker plants easily.

So we need to strengthen ourselves with good soil (Christ), sunlight from above (His Word), and refreshing water (fellowship), so that we have strong roots that dig into our foundation, and a close connection to God.

Prayer

Let us pray,

Thank you for rain and snow come down from heaven and stay on the ground to water the earth.  They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer, and bread for the hungry.  It is the same with Your Word.  You send it out, and it always produces fruit.  It will accomplish all You want it to, and it will prosper everywhere You send it.

Amen

(adapted from Isaiah 55: 10-11)

Braiding – Morning Watch

*For this morning watch each participant will need to receive 3 different coloured pieces on yarn, long enough to braid into a bracelet or necklace.

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
– Albert Camus

Salutation to the Dawn:

Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth;
The glory of action;
The splendour of beauty;
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision;
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore to this day!

Such is the Salutation to the Dawn.

How closely have you looked at a piece of yarn?  If you look closely enough you’ll see that a single piece of yarn is made up of many strands woven together to make it strong.  On it’s own any one of those strands is easily broken, but together the yarn becomes much tougher. 

Now look at the three pieces of yarn that you were given.  Choose one of them.  This piece of yarn represents you.  All of the tiny strands that make up the strong yarn are the pieces that make up you.  Your love for music.  Your strength.  Your determination.  The sports you play.  Take a moment to think of what else makes up you?  What other tiny strands are woven together in order to create the strong young woman that you are?  This single piece of yarn is pretty strong.  Just like you, it takes a lot to break. 

Now choose your second piece of yarn.  This piece represents your support system.  Each tiny strand is someone in your life who you depend on.  Your mom.  Your dad.  Your friends.  The other people in your CGIT group.  Who else supports you?  When woven together your support system forms a strong bond that is waiting to catch you if you fall and to help you to stand back up.

Now finally look at the last piece of yarn.  This one is the hardest to define.  This piece represents your faith.  God’s love and support.  Your beliefs and your spirituality.  Take a minute to think about what this strand of yarn means to you.  What are some of the tiny strands that make up your faith? 

Each of these 3 pieces of yarn on their own are pretty tough.  It takes a lot to break them.  They’re strong, but they’re not indestructible.  Sort of like how each of us, on our own, are pretty strong.  That being said, under the right conditions and with the right amount of pressure, we can be broken.  When we’re on our own, when we’re a single piece of yarn, we’re not as strong as we could be.

But what happens to the yarn when you braid the three strands together?  When you weave those strands around each other you create something that is much stronger than any one piece of yarn is on it’s own.  As people we’re a bit like that yarn.  While we are strong on our own, we are even stronger when we weave our faith and our support system into what makes us us.   

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” 

– Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NKJV)

“I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”  

– Philippians 4:13

Let us pray,

God, help me to weave my pieces of yarn together.  I sometimes forget that I am not alone in this journey called life.  Help me to remember that when things get tough and it looks like I might break on my own, that You are always there for me and that you have provided me with an amazing support system of people around me.  Thank you for walking beside me, ready to catch me when I fall.    I ask that you help others to discover their support systems and encourage them on their way.  Thank you for being my rock and my support.    Amen.

*You are encouraged to braid your pieces of yarn together and to put them somewhere where you will be able to see them throughout the day (wrist, ankle, clothes).  Every time you see those different coloured pieces of yarn remember what they represent and that you are never alone in your quest.