Author and speaker Lynne Rienstra has spent a lifetime encouraging her audience to take steps of faith toward God. But it was single moment with her daughter that inspired her to create a Bible study for mothers and their daughters, ages 6-12, called "You Grow, Girl!"
"It started with my daughter, Anneka, when she was seven years old," said Rienstra as she recalled standing in the living room that day. "She put her arms around my waist and I put my arms around her shoulders. As she lifted her face toward me, I knew I was looking beyond the face of my beautiful little girl. Her face was a flower — a lovely picture of a tiny rosebud opening up to the world, to me and to life in general. That memory inspired me to think about creating a tool to help other girls and mothers grow."
Using the metaphor of gardening, the study is a fun, interactive tool to help moms share spiritual truths with their daughters. The goal of the You Grow, Girl! Ministry, explained Rienstra, is to "plant" participants in the soil of God’s word and "water" them with prayer so they learn how to thrive in the sun of God’s love. As a result, mothers and daughters hopefully will grow deeper in their love for God, and for each other — putting down relational roots to see them through the teen years.
Volunteer Kara Sugg is one of many who are helping behind the scenes by formatting the study guide and getting it ready to print.
"I am hoping that this experience will help my daughter and me to grow closer to each other and to God," said Sugg, who will attend with her 6-year-old daughter, Abby. "This is a unique opportunity to spend some one-on-one time together each week and learn more about her and help her to learn her identity in Christ."
Volunteer Amy Lanclos, who also helped edit and will teach large group sessions, echoed those sentiments.
"I want them to know the peace and stability of Christ," said Lanclos, who is concerned about her daughters, Emily Anne, age 8, and Mary Hannah, age 6, growing up in a world full of unrest and insecurity.
The study will be used to launch a multi-generational girls’ ministry of the same name at Rienstra’s home church, Trinity Presbyterian, beginning Jan. 31.
In preparation for the seven-week Bible study, moms are invited to come and get a feel for what the program is about in a presentation, "Dare to Shelter: Building a Greenhouse for Your Daughter," from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31, at Trinity Presbyterian Church. At the session, mothers will learn how to build a spiritual greenhouse for their daughters, how to "prepare the soil" of their daughters’ hearts through prayer and how to create a long-term vision for their daughters’ growth in grace. Moms can also purchase the "You Grow, Girl!" Bible study.
The "You Grow, Girl!" program kicks off on Feb. 7 with both mothers and daughters; participants will begin to connect with others in newly-formed girls’ growth groups designed to help them process what they have learned. The Bible study will culminate with a garden party on April 4 where moms and daughters can get dressed up and enjoy tea, decorate their tables with the flowering plants that the girls planted earlier and share testimonies of what God has grown in their lives. Afterwards, the girls will transplant their flowers into a home garden or plant them together in a small victory garden on the church’s grounds.
Rienstra specifically recruited older women she calls the "Master Gardeners" who had a concern for the rising generation and wanted to be type of woman described by the Apostle Paul, who gave older women a charge to train the younger women to live wisely and be pure (Titus 2:3-5).
She said she hopes to connect girls with their moms during crucial years before they develop into teens.
"The enemy delights in seeing women and girls bound up by the lies of performance and perfectionism," Rienstra said. "It’s time for us to rise up as daughters of freedom — sure of our identity in Christ and able to walk in the full liberty of the gospel. You Grow, Girl! is a first step toward that goal."
Rienstra, a teacher at Faith Academy, has also written a series of Bible studies for women and girls. She hopes to share them in the future, including Princess of Promise and Princess Warrior — studies for middle and high school girls.
Rienstra was born in Arkansas and later moved to New England, where she spent her summers swimming in the cold Atlantic waters near Boston. She attended Smith College, where she majored in English and education. Rienstra enjoys reviving her high school French and studying voice. Her experiences as pastor’s wife, mother, English teacher and businesswoman combine to help her relate to people on a variety of life paths. She travels across the country to speak at conferences and retreats and has spent time abroad in such diverse places as Korea, France, Kenya and Slovakia. Nine years ago, she and her family left Cape Cod to serve their third church, Trinity Presbyterian Church, in Covington. She and her husband, Rob, have two children – Jake, 18 and Anneka, 16.
To register for "You Grow, Girl," call Rienstra at 770-784-1760 or Sugg at 678-342-6624. The registration is $25, which also covers the Bible study workbook. Scholarships are available. Trinity Presbyterian Church is located at 11171 Highway 278 in Covington.