Hello, Mini-Women! It is SO good to be back with you -- I was away so long I was going into mini-woman withdrawal. Although I have to say, our vacation was AWESOME. Beach time. Daughter time. Granddaughter time. Husband time. Research time . . . Yeah, I'm kind of always gathering stuff for new books.
And new stuff for you. I thought so much about all the scary things you're facing as school starts again, especially for those of you going into middle school. So what do you say we get to it?
First of all, your list of the things you're worried about in this new school year was almost as long as the Florida coast. Here are just SOME of the concerns you shared while I was gone:
* mean teachers (BABBLING BROOKE has already discovered one, unfortunately)
* opening your locker (I STILL have trouble with combination locks)
* failing a class, like math (and parents not understanding how hard it is)
* doing horrible in P.E. because it's reportedly harder (I always had that fear, even in college, for Pete's sake.) Swimming class seems to rank high among those fears
* dealing with mean boys left over from last year (and it seems like they multiply over the summer or something)
* being the only girl in your class (yikes!)
*not having friends
* taking standardized tests (especially as a homeschooler)
* not fitting in because you don't dress "cool" or don't text
* losing the popularity you had in elementary school
* not knowing where your classes are and not having enough time to get to them
* having tons of homework
* going into youth group
* being bossed by older kids
* dealing with boy drama
But not only do you have fears -- you also have some good advice. KATE (S) says to ignore the horror stories and keep an open mind. And pray. JESUS LUVER emphasizes that "We do need to pray for each other!" BLAK SOX points out that "Even people who look like they got it all together can be terribly lost." Some of the most encouraging posts have been from those of you who have had your first day or your first week and are finding it's not so bad after all, this junior high thing, and that you might even like it. Who'd have thought THAT 2 weeks ago, right?
Maybe even more important than the advice is knowing that nobody here on the blog is going to make fun of your fears. No one will say, "Are you serious? Why are you even THINKING about that?!" This is a safe place and we all know we can express our doubts and the things we're anxious about without worrying whether someone's going to snort and call us wusses. As SNAPPY says, "Although other people might, we faith girls would never ever ever ever ever never tease you." (I think that about covers it)
Of course the BEST thing about this open family that we have here on Tween You and Me, is that we always - eventually, after we've vented about how horrible the problem is! -- turn to God for the truth about what we're facing. God says one thing about fear in the Bible -- and God says it 365 times (yes, someone actually counted): "Do not be afraid."
Uh-huh. That's easy for God to say. God doesn't have to start middle school with that list of scary stuff dangling overhead. And how are you supposed to just "Not be afraid" anyway? I don't know about you, but I don't have a fear icon that I can just click on to make it disappear.
Actually, God isn't saying, "Don't be afraid of lockers and mean teachers and big tests in the first place." God isn't telling you that if you had total faith, you wouldn't have butterflies (bats, eagles) flying around in your stomach and sweat seeping out of your palms. God IS saying, "There is no need to STAY afraid because I will be with you the whole time." In fact, pretty much those exact words came out of Jesus's mouth before he ascended into heaven: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20, NIV)
Terrified that you're going to have mean teachers? God's going to be there with you in the classroom. God has some courage for you if you have a question and Mr. Man up at the front of the classroom looks like he might snatch you bald-headed if you ask it. God will give you the smile to flash if Mrs. Meanness looks like she's having a bad day (like, EVERY day)
Certain you're going to flunk math or drown in swim class? God's there, too. Ask God to help you ask for a tutor, even though you're convinced that kid that sits next to you will call you a loser. Pray for the wisdom to know when to say, "I am never going to be the female Michael Phelps."
Know you can't handle the mean kids? Who can, really? God's there to help you be you, since you are the only one you can really "handle." God's also there to nudge you when it's appropriate to go to an adult and say, "The swearing and pushing and the name-calling are getting out of hand. I can't learn in this atmosphere."
There isn't a situation you've listed that God can't make a difference in. Your job is (1) to understand that what you're feeling is perfectly normal, because this is a time of major change in your life; (2) to know you don't have to stay afraid and (3) to reach out for God at any time you feel those great bald eagles flapping their wings in your stomach.
That takes practice, and here's a good way to start. Besides, I think we need a CONTEST right now, don't you? Everyone who can find TEN (10) places in the Bible where God/Jesus says something that means "Do not be afraid." (sometimes it's "Fear not," or "Be anxious for nothing") will win a copy of the NEW edition of The Beauty Book when it's released in March, with new features and more quizzes and all kinds of fresh, fun stuff. (By the way, don't you love that with 365 statements of "Do not be afraid" in the Bible, there's one for every day of the year?) If you want to enter the contest, please EMAIL me your answers at email@example.com. Don't post your answers as a comment here, okay?
Speaking of posting comments, I have a few REMINDERS:
(1) If you have a prayer request, try not to give too many details about the person you want prayer for. We need to be really careful about respecting people's privacy. "Please pray for my aunt who is sick," is much more respectful than, "Please pray for my aunt who has had three operations on her heart and is about to have another one and she isn't a believer and she has four little kids,. etc, etc," See what I mean? If you're a newcomer to the blog, you probably didn't know that, so no worries. Just keep this in mind from now on and you're good to go.
(2) Try really hard to stay on the topic. I know you love to chat with each other, but remember that every comment goes through my email inbox, which sometimes fills up to over 300 emails a day! I read them all because I don't want to miss something important -- and whew, that takes a ton of time! Thanks for understanding.
Now -- back to school fears. I'd like to take one category of your fears each time I post for the next few weeks and offer some practical advice and some specific ways to determine what God might want you to do when the going gets rough. Friday we'll start with Hard Subjects. Some study tips, ways to keep from getting behind, even some approaches to talking to Mom and Dad instead of waiting until you walk in with a sure-to-get-you-grounded-for-life grade. I'll be back Friday, and I hope you will too.
Oh, and if you'd like to post a comment (how can you stay on the topic if I don't give you one, right?) tell us what subject is the hardest for you and why. You may give each other specific advice on how to handle that subject if something has worked for you. Rather than, "You just need to study harder in history," we'd like to hear something like, "I make a timeline using different colored markers when I'm studying for a history test," or "I set the facts to tunes I know." (And let's avoid the term, "I suck" since that can be offensive to some people. No need to apologize if you already have; I know you meant no harm.
Okay -- here we go. Yeah, it's good to be back! (By the way, I used the picture above just because it's hard to remember when life was as simple as it is for Baby Maeryn!)