ERIN and SOPHIE added two more "baby steps" for you to try.
ERIN: The baby step I am sharing is that I have started to make small goals. The goals help me not do something I do way to much. And I reward my self at the end so that I want to complete the next goal.
SOPHIA: 1. not thinking to big 2.whenever i feel like talking back to my parents i just breath in and out 3.not thinking like ummm others are better than me i give them nice comments and then they give me even nicer ones!
THEN you gave us the PERFECT verses to read and write about in our Talking To God Journals:
ALYSSA: 1 Corinthians 6:19 which is "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;" and my Alyssanslation is, "Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in us. So technically, we belong to God. We need to take care of ourselves." Think about it, if your body says 'I like healthy things' and you say 'I like te sweet stuff' that's basically saying, 'I want it my way.' Now, we can't help the temptations. We can help whether or not we give in
ASHER: My destination is Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
It helps me to stop comparing myself to others and relax because I know God knows how I'll end up, because, really, there's nobody else I'd rather take the reins! Also, I really like John 21:25 as well: "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." It's not a very well-known verse, but I like it because it shows Jesus was always helping others and what a great legacy he left behind for us to follow. –
JOSIE: One verse I'm using is Ephesians 4:26.
SOPHIE: Ephesians 4:26
SO ...(1) thank you for being there for each other and sharing what you know and
... (2) choose one of those VERSES or one of those BABY STEPS to try between now and Tuesday, December 22. If you want to comment, tell us one thing being part of the Tween You and Me blog community that helps you in your life as a Mini-Woman.
Blessings, blessings, blessings,
Hellooooo, Mini-Women! I love HALLE BELLE'S calendar, don't you? I hope you're all using the squares on yours for the things we talk about in each post. I think by Christmas Day you're going to be surprised by what you see there about yourself.
It SOUNDS like you're making progress! AMANDA, ALYSSA, EVE, KAYLEE & SARA all checked in with the baby steps they're taking to make that U-Turn that needs to be made. (If you have NO idea what I'm even talking about, just click here for a quick review. You can just pick up where we are any time, but sometimes it's nice to know what's going on, right?)
One of the "baby steps" you really seemed to like is what AMANDA suggested. She says: "A small step I have made in my life is I have started a jar of "hearts". It's a jar where I put verses from the Bible that I like and that cheer me up. And then whenever I'm sad or mad or lonely or anything I just reach in to the jar, grab a couple of the inspiring verses and read them!! It's really helping me a lot! "
I can see how that would help us as we try to make U-Turns -- you know, repent, which means change direction -- to get us out of those places we're trapped in. We could write down verses that remind us, hold us up, make us strong and look at them when we realize (and we will) that we're going back to the same old stuff we wanted to turn away from. I like it!
Absolutely make a Heart Jar if you want. I'm going to suggest, though, that for the Advent season we're in, we simply write those verses in the squares on our calendars. That way they're in front of us all at once.
Because here's the thing: we aren't going to be able to make those U-Turns on our own. The whole third week of Advent is about asking God to stir up His Holy Spirit in us so that we WANT to make the changes, we WANT to be free, we WANT to be able to celebrate no longer being slaves to our own grumpiness and rudeness and video-game-ness.
SO ... having verses from God Himself where we can easily see them, and reading them when we find ourselves all locked up again, is one of the ways we can keep growing. It won't be another, "I was doing good for a while and then I got lazy." Or, "I was doing that every day and then I just kind of forgot."
Need some suggestions?
* If you're having trouble NOT talking back to your parents, you'll want Deuteronomy 5:16
* If you're so jealous of the stuff your friends have you can hardly stand it, make Deuteronomy 5:21 your own.
* Swearing when you get really frustrated? Matthew 5:34 is your go-to verse.
* Should worrying about, well, everything, be your thing, give Philippians 4:6 a shot.
* Putting people down with your words instead of building them up? Write down James 3:5.
* Chowing down on too much junk food? There's nothing more helpful than I Corinthians 6:19.
* Complaining 24/7? Ephesians 4:29 is all ABOUT that.
Here's your charge: On the calendar you've created for Advent in your Talking to God Journal, write a Bible verse that will help you stick with that U-Turn (just the "address," not the whole verse) in each of these squares: December 15, December 16, December 17. You might need someone to help you find them, but that's a good thing. It will get a conversation going that will not only keep you u-turning, but will let someone else know you're really trying.
Here's another challenge: write out those verses in your Talking to God Journal so you don't have to hunt for them in your Bible every time you want to read them again.
If you want to comment between now and Friday, share one of your verses IN YOUR OWN WORDS. So give the "address" (Luke 10:27, for example) and then your own Alyssa or Kaylee or Eve translation. Who knows, we might want to write YOUR suggestion on OUR calendars.
I'm proud of you, Mini-Women. Very proud.
Helloooo, Mini-Women! Today I'm wishing we could all gather around my Christmas tree (just put it up last night) and have mugs of hot chocolate and help each other out of our closets. Wouldn't that be fun?
But since we can't, let's do the next best thing. Let's share what we know so far:
The next logical step, of course, is to make that U-turn, change direction, head TOWARD God instead of away. But, um, how do we do that? Well, first of all, it's a very slow turn sometimes! It means being really, really patient with yourself. But it CAN be done. Some simple steps might help, as long as you remember that you'll have to keep taking them. Over and over.
↑ Talk to God about it every day in your Talking To God Journal. Even if it's just a sentence or two, keep bringing it up. Sort of the way you nag your parents for something you want, right?
↑ Ask a grown-up you trust to help you. That means (a) tell her what you want to do; (b) ask her to pray for you; (c) ask her for suggestions; (d) ask her to give you a signal if she sees you doing this thing you want to stop (she tugs her ear lobe when you start bossing your friends); (e) meet with her once a week to talk about how you're doing.
↑ Think of one tiny step you could take AWAY from the closet you don't want to be in. Take that step every day. For example:
If you want to stop being rude to your parents, tell each of them at least once a day how much you love them.
If you want to stop being grumpy with your mom and dad, apologize every single time you talk back to them.
If you want to stop envying other people, write down five things in your TTGJ every day that you're thankful for in your own life.
If you want to stop swearing when you get frustrated with absurd little creep boys, roll your eyes and walk away when they call you names.
If you want to break your video game addiction, set a timer for 30 minutes when you sit down to play and when it goes off, go do something else. Ask your mom or dad to help you enforce that.
If you want to stop getting distracted from schoolwork or Bible study or chores, promise yourself a reward when you finish your task (peanut butter on crackers always does it for me! so does reading a chapter of a book I'm into, or texting Miss Crystal!)
If you want to stop shutting down instead of listening, ask you mom to simply say, "Sophia, your eyes are glazing over. Are you with me?"
If you want to stop destroying others instead of building them up, write an encouraging note to the person you put down most often.
If you want to stop feeding your "temple" trash, ask your mom if you can have your own container of healthy snacks in the frig or snack drawer.
If you want to stop stressing out big time over your grades, ask someone to help you on your worst subject.
If you want to stop complaining, mark a plus sign on the palm of your right hand every time you say something positive and a minus sign on your left every time you complain. Compare at the end of the day. Challenge yourself to have an empty left hand.
that pesky thing you're repenting of. And if you want to comment between now and Tuesday (12/15), tell us what small step you're taking. If you take it, share what happened.
Come back for cocoa and more good talking on Tuesday. See you then, Mini-Women!
Hey, Mini-Women! You've started sharing your God-cries, which are exceptionally, well, exceptional! Here's what we have so far as we call to God to get us out of those closets we've been trapped in --
Set me free! I don't want to be in here! This place is heinous! Get me out! I'm scared! Unlock my closet. Help me look up! (instead of back into that eerie cupboard)
Keep those God-cries coming. I'll post them every time, okay?
Another person who cried out was a guy named John the Baptist. You remember him, right? He came crashing out of the wilderness in a very strange costume, eating locusts and wild honey (sounds pretty gross, yes?) and yelling for everybody to repent.
Sounds like a crazy person.
But he actually had good news. He said if people would repent they'd be ready for somebody who was coming after him who would save them from themselves with all their sins and bad stuff. That word "repent," though - that doesn't sound like good news. That sounds like "tell everybody what a dirty rotten sinner you are."
Today we're just going to focus on WHAT direction of ours needs changing. Then, on Friday, we'll talk about HOW to change it.
So, on your calendar in the squares for December 8, 9 and 10, write in one small wrong direction you may be going in.
Those might be things like: (the words to put in the squares are in purple)
! yelling at my siblings
! being irritable with my mom
! playing video games when I should be doing something else
! arguing with my dad
! envying other people's stuff
If you want to share them with us, you know it's safe to do that here. If not, you can still comment, and tell us what you know about John the Baptist. Impress us!
! wanting to be better than everybody else
Helloooooo, New Women! I'm so sorry I couldn't post Friday -- this is your "make-up post" to finish up last week (the first week in Advent) -- we'll start on Week 2 tomorrow. You're always so patient.
Before we go on, let's welcome SOPHIA!!! We're so glad you've joined us and have jumped right in. This is the perfect time to get started with us -- but then, what ISN'T a good time for a new Mini-Woman to show up on Tween You and Me?
Your responses to what "closet" you find yourself locked in these days were awesome. Here's what you said ...
KAYLEE: always wishing and wanting to be better at things, like my family not fighting so much, getting along better
ASHLYN: trouble making choices about who to be friends with – who are the good, the bad, the real or the fake friends?
WENDY: scared of failure at school; also wondering if people think I’m stupid or immature
ASHER: trying to find my talents and how I can use them, because it seems as if everyone’s found theirs already and are cruising through life.
THIRZAH: wondering if I should try to be different when my friends decide they want something different and leave me out; sometimes my friends tell me that the reason was because they weren’t feeling well or something and it makes me feel as if they don’t want to be with me because I wasn’t born in America like they were.
ERIN: worrying about the future
JOSIE: “I’m in the worry about how others will think about me closet.”
ALYSSA: trying to keep everyone smiling and when people are feeling down I can’t help but ask what’s wrong even if it’s none of my business.
SOPHIA: I’m super insecure.
HALLE BELLE: wondering if people think I’m too authentic. Sometimes that makes me want to NOT be myself, which I know is NOT good for me.
GRACE: getting annoyed easily
I could feel your troubled spirits right over the Internet. None of wants to be in those closets. They're scary, confining places where it's hard to move and breathe. That is NOT the life our God wants for us. I know that for a fact.
God was so eager for us to be free that he sent his Son here to show us that we don't have to live in those tiny, smelly closets forever. And not only SHOW us, but unlock the doors. THAT is why we celebrate Christmas, and as we said in our last post, we can't really celebrate being set free if we don't even know we were locked up on the first place.
Here's the thing about a closet: If it's locked, you can't UNlock it from the inside. Trust me: we once had an Irish setter who jumped on the door of mine when I was in there and shut it ... and I was trapped. I almost went nuts until my husband hear me banging and yelling, "Let me out!!!"
God-in-Christ is always hanging around, waiting for you to go, "I'm sick of being in here! Please open the door!" Just say the word -- or should I say, the prayer -- and the key will turn. Then YOU can ...
* push it open a crack and peek out to see what it's like out there in freedom (other people are free so it must be
* poke your head through and see that it's safe to come out (nobody's waiting there to take you down because most of the fears are in your own head) * take a step, just one, and realize it's SO much better out there (you find yourself not caring what other people think all the time; you realize when other people treat you mean it's THEIR issue, not yours; somebody's there to help you with those hard school subjects)
* close the door behind you (who needs to worry about the future when you're not even 12 years old yet? who else can you be but yourself, really? who said you had to be responsible for absolutely everybody's happiness?)
I wish I could say that the moment you close the door you'll never go back into that closet again. I can't. You're going to want to run in there and hide from time to time. That's why God is always hanging out there. Just keep calling for God and eventually you'll wonder why you ever thought that closet was a place you needed to be.
Here's what to do:
Nancy Rue, whose one-word prayer right now is "THANKS!
OLIVIA MARYBETH SARA KAYLEE ASHER MEGGIEBEAR ALYSSA THIRZAH HALLEBELLE WENDY EVE JOSIE HADASSAH ELIZABETH NIMI
That's like our biggest group EVER -- and if you haven't commented saying you're in, PLEASE DO. We want your name on the list!
Now that you're here, let's talk about exactly what we're doing:
What IS Advent? This is the season of the church year just before Christmas that's set aside for preparation. That makes sense, right?
How is that different from getting ready for Christmas?
* Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, because he came to set us free from all the stuff that makes our lives miserable -- mostly ourselves! That is absolutely something to throw a party over, so naturally we buy and give gifts and bake goodies and decorate trees and sing the best songs of the whole year. It's awesome.
* Advent is the time to get OURSELVES ready to celebrate. It's the time to remember WHY it is that we're doing all this great stuff. If we're going to celebrate being SET FREE, we have to know that we're NOT FREE in the first place.
Huh? Okay, think of it this way.
* If you were locked in a big room with every cool thing you ever wanted in there, and a big old bed to lounge on and a frig full of food to eat, and somebody unlocked the door so you could come out ... you wouldn't be all that excited about it, right?
* But if you were locked in a dark closet with no food or water or (yikes!) a bathroom, and somebody unlocked THAT door and let you out, you'd want to do the happy dance, eat something amazing and maybe even cry for joy. I mean, right?
We don't always realize it, but we spend a lot of our time sort of locked in a closet. We feel trapped by things like:
* wondering what other kids think of us * worrying about whether we're "good enough" * wanting what other people have * feeling like parents don't understand * being afraid we're going to fail * wishing our family got along better
The whole point of having Jesus in our lives is that we don't have to wonder and worry and want and be afraid and feel bad and wish things were different all the time. Jesus came to say, "Hey, hang out with me and I'll show you a happier, more loving way to live."
Do you see how that works? If there were no Christmas -- if Jesus hadn't come -- we would be pretty funky and sad 24/7. Since Jesus DID come, we have something to celebrate, which IS Christmas. And if we see how trapped we've been, that celebration is going to be even MORE special than it already is.
How do we prepare ourselves during Advent, then? We're going to do two things this week.
TODAY/WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY: We're going to figure out what closets we're locked into
FRIDAY/SATURDAY/SUNDAY/MONDAY: We're going to imagine what it would be like if Jesus came along and unlocked every single one of those doors (DON'T WORRY ABOUT THIS ONE YET -- I'LL POST INSTRUCTIONS FRIDAY)
So what do we do?
1. If you haven't made a December 1-24 calendar in your Talking To God Journal, do that first. You'll see ASHER'S at the top of this post, and here's HALLE BELLE'S. If you want yours included here on the blog, just take a picture of it and attach it to an email to me.
3. In your Talking to God Journal, write about those "closets." Tell God how bad it feels to be locked in there, how you wish you could get out and why it's hard to. Ask God to unlock the door. Then just close your journal and your eyes and rest with that for a minute or two. Don't try to change anything yet. Just be with it.
4. If you want to post a comment, tell us ONE of those "closets" that you feel locked into. I'll go first. Sometimes I feel like I'm trapped in trying to make sure EVERYBODY is happy, when that isn't really my job. I can never actually do it, so I feel guilty more than I need to. Yeah, I definitely need for God to unlock THAT door!
I can't wait to see what closets you discover, my mini-women.
Remember that the last word on our Close To God Alphabet was ZANY? We're going to practice that in the church season that runs from this coming Sunday, November 29, until Thursday December 24. It's called ADVENT.
The word "Advent" basically means, "the coming." You could say something like, "I don't know how we kept in touch with people before the advent of the cell phone."
In this case, Advent refers to the coming of Jesus. We celebrate that every year in the weeks before Christmas, when we celebrate his birth. If company is coming to your house for Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Years, your family probably does a lot to prepare, right? Even if nobody's going to visit, you all get ready for those holidays in your home, or you pack for a trip to visit someone else in theirs.
When we're in getting-ready-for-the-holidays mode, we sometimes forget that we also need to be preparing for Jesus to come, once again, as he does every year when the candles are lit and the beautiful Christmas songs are sung and the kids (including you!) take part in the Nativity scene.
We're not just talking about getting ready for the Christmas pageant or the candlelight service or the reading of the Gospel of Luke. We're talking about getting ready for Jesus himself, inside of us. With every Christmas, the opening up and letting him in gets wider and deeper.
If we do it on purpose.
Yeah, it doesn't just "happen" because Christmas is special. It happens because we take time to really think about what it all means, to us, as individual mini-women. Sounds kind of serious and somber, doesn't it?
This is the Tween You and Me Blog we're talking about here. Preparing for Jesus to come into us a little further should be awesome! I mean, really, how great is this? Why would we do it by walking around telling people they shouldn't write letters to Santa or sing about a red-nosed reindeer? Here on our blog, we're going to prepare with big ol' grins on our faces. We're going to do some fun activities. We're going to prepare in joy.
If you want to join us, tell us in a comment, "I'm in for Advent!" We won't add a lot of time-consuming stuff to this already busy time. What we do you'll be able to weave into the rest of your life. You'll see.
Next, open your Talking To God Journal out flat so you have two blank pages side by side. On that double page, create a calendar that goes from November 29 to December 24. Decorate it however you want to. The official church colors for Advent are purple and pink, but use whatever gives you joy. Of course, if you want you can take a picture of it and email it to me, and I will absolutely post it here on the blog.
I will post again on November 30. In the meantime, have an awesome Thanksgiving, U.S. girls. Those of you in Canada and Australia and all the other countries around the world, we give thanks for you too.