ANNOUNCING THE TWEEN YOU AND ME
Friday, January 27 2012
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
More details to come in
upcoming blog posts.
SAVE THE DATE!!!
Good morning, Mini-Women! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebration. Even if there may have been "hiccups" in places, I know there were moments of sheer bliss -- and I think that's exactly how our Lord wants us to feel about his birthday.
What I like is that Christmas isn't just a day but a whole season of the church year. Unfortunately, back at the time of the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church had become so corrupt in so many ways that those protesting its sad state felt a need to get rid of a lot of things that were part of worshiping and understanding our Lord Christ, but which had become twisted and misused. (BTW, that Catholic Church was very different from today's Roman Catholic Church, which has made some very godly changes). Observing the seasons of the church year was one of those thgns that got tossed-- but more and more Christians are studying the ancient practices and realizing how important they were and still are. Even if you don't attend what's called a liturgical church -- Episcopal or Lutheran, for example -- the seasons of the church year still belong to you as a Christian. You get to celebrate Christmas for 12 days, not just one.
The other thing that happened to thinking of Christmas as a season was that society sort of took charge of the whole holiday and turned a lot of the focus to the gifts. Trust me, I like the presents, too -- giving them even more than getting them, really. But when the world around us says it's all about opening packages one morning, what difference do the twelve days that follow it really make? Even if we received a pile of gifts every day for a dozen days, believe it or not, that would lose some of its specialness by about day five.
What, then, are the Twelve Days of Christmas really about? I sort of think of it as enjoying the baby after he's born. When my little granddaughter Maeryn was born last January, (see pic above) we prepared with such joy during my daughter's pregnancy, and the day Maeryn came into the world, we were just thrilled. But we didn't say, "Okay, that's done. What's next? A day off for Martin Luther King's birthday? Valentine's Day? Presidents' weekend?" With Maeryn's birth came the wonder of watching her grow and of forming a bond with her and loving her so she would know she had an important place in our hearts and in the world.
We all just celebrated the birth of the Most Important Baby in the world. Now it's time to enjoy Jesus! Our lives are different because he was born -- way different than they would have been without him. That's a gift we get to share, all the time. The Twelve Days of Christmas can get us started. Twelve days is about how long it takes to form a new habit. So what I'm thinking is that we can use this season that seems to be a secret from most people to form the Jesus-giving habit.
What does that look like?
For me it's going to be giving someone something each of the days until January 6 (when we'll talk about ANOTHER very important celebration). Yesterday, I gave a really good friend of mine a signed copy of my latest book for grown-ups -- a part of me that I can share with her. Today I'm going to call another old friend I haven't talked to in a long, long time. Tomorrow my husband and I are doing dinner for a couple who have lost a lot of their joy. Thursday I'm shopping for the perfect calendar for my husband, which I do every year. Friday I'm going to babysit with my grandbaby so her mom and dad can go out to a movie. The list will go on through January 5. I'll be pouring out love and hopefully helping people to remember that they are worthy and important and have a purpose here.
Sure, we should do that every day. Instead of thinking of it as a "should", I think of it as a really good habit that I can form during these twelve important days. As the first Protestants said, no day is more holy than another -- but any day is holy that is devoted to God, even in some small way,
If you want to post, will you share some small things you can give during these Days of Christmas? Remember, they don't have to be material gifts, although they can be. Is it time to go through your old stuff and give some of it away as you make room for the new things you were given for Christmas? Gifts of consideration are perfect, especially for those family members we've been working on getting along with better. Gifts of your time are some of the best you can give, especially to that younger sibling or cousin you're always putting off because you don't WANT to play Barbies or watch Tangled for the fiftieth time. I think the ultimate gift is love -- so a note, a hug, a whisper, "I really, really love you, Dad, even when you yell at me" -- can carry someone all the way through to Valentine's Day.
I can't wait to see what your giving hearts come up with. Meanwhile, know that my gift to you is my continued devotion to writing books and blogs and holding events just for you. Just for you, my mini-women.
(AND JUJUBEAR, SINCE YOU ALREADY RECEIVED A PRIZE, WOULD YOU MIND IF SQUIRRELGIRL ALSO RECEIVED A ONE?)
EACH OF YOU WILL NEED TO EMAIL ME AND TELL ME WHAT BOOK YOU'D LIKE TO RECEIVE AS YOUR PRIZE.
I'M MOSTLY OUT OF ALL THINGS LILY RIGHT NOW, BUT I HAVE ALL THE SOPHIE TITLES, BOOKS 3 & 4 OF LUCY, BODY TALK, THE SKIN YOU'RE IN, EVERYBODY TELLS ME TO BE MYSELF, THAT IS SO ME, AND DEAR NANCY
JENNA T,& SQUIRRELGIRL I NEED YOUR ADDRESSES, SENT FROM YOUR MOM OR DAD'S EMAIL. I HAVE EVERYONE ELSE'S.
ALL OF YOU MINI-WOMEN ARE WINNERS!
Good morning, Mini-Women! Are you getting excited about Christmas Day? You have reason to be, and not just because of the mysterious packages under the tree and the food you never get to eat any other time. One of the BEST reasons for celebrating the birth of our Lord Christ is that Jesus made it so we don't have to do a lot of things that, quite frankly, can make the rest of the year pretty much stink.
Because Jesus came, you don't have to:
A. WORRY. About anything, really, because God takes even better care of you than God does the birds of the air or the lilies of the field. (The first person to post the chapter and verse for THIS passage wins the book of her choice. We'll have lots of winners this time.)
B. JUDGE OTHER PEOPLE, which tends to take up a lot of our time and cause all kinds of issues with friends and non-friends and even family. (what's the verse for that one?)
C. DO EVERYTHING ON YOUR OWN, since basically all you have to do to receive the good things of God is ask, seek, and knock. (Got that verse address?)
D. FIGURE OUT WHO'S TELLING YOU THE TRUTH ABOUT GOD AND WHO'S NOT, since you'll be able to tell by someone's "fruit" whether that person really knows God. (Verse?) If someone is kind and forgiving and honest and loving like Jesus, that's a person you can rely on.
If we remember that Jesus coming to be with us as God's son takes a HUGE burden off of us, that makes it even more important that we celebrate. It's like breathing a big ol' sigh of RELIEF because we don't have to go around all worried and picking people apart and being totally suspicious of who might be trying to lead us the wrong way. No WONDER we bake enough cookies to fill us up for the whole entire year -- and spend all our allowance buying gifts for everybody -- and feel a certain sense of wonder when we gaze at the lights on the tree or the flames of the Christmas Eve candles or the sparkle in the little kids' eyes. We celebrate Christ's birthday, because Christ makes us free.
If you want to post:
(1) be the first to give the correct chapter and verse for A, B, C, or D. Even if someone posts all four at once and is right, I'll still take the first to get A right AND the next person who gets B right, etc. There will be four winners today. (Is that confusing enough?)
(2) tell us which of those four things you are the HAPPIEST that you don't have to do any more -- worry, judge, figure it all out yourself, or try to discern who to trust about God
(3) share with us your fave part of celebrating the freedom of Christ.
Merry Christmas, my mini women. Merry Christmas.
She has already posted the right answer -- Matthew 6:20
reported that the treasure she's going to store up is
Listen to how beautifully she put it:
"I want to be kind to everyone. Not just in school, but also at home and even places like the mall. Jesus was kind to everyone. I want to be as kind as he was."
YOOMIN, please email me at email@example.com and tell me which book you would like for me to send you.
Can't wait to hear from ALL of you!
Good morning, Mini-Women! First order of business on this Fourth Sunday in Advent -- the winner of last week's contest is NIKITA (in England!) She was the first to identify where the verses came from. So, NIKITA, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know which book you would like to receive. Then we'll talk about the prize from the LAST contest you won! For those of you who gave the right answers but weren't quite as quick as NIKITA (yikes -- she was fast, wasnt she, SNAPPY and AMELIA?!) or didn't have a chance to participate, get your antennae up because there is another contest woven into this post.
I loved all your responses to Tuesday's post. AMELIA is now working on her attitude about going to relatives' houses at Christmas when she doesn't want to. JUJUBEAR is going to pray for that friend who's been threatening to un-friend her if she talks to some other girl, because JUJU has figured out that Friend is really sensitive and has some issues with jealousy. Now that's what I'm talkin' about. (And JUJUBEAR, you still need to get your mom or dad to send me your address so I can mail your book to you) ANDI's going to try to "be reconciled" in her "crazy friendships" -- and is praying that they won't just look at her like she's looney. Actually, ANDI, that sort of comes with doing the Jesus-thing sometimes. It seems "looney" to other people until they get it, you know? "Love your enemies" isn't exactly the first thing that comes to people's minds! MARY's working on "prayerfully working out differences" with two sisters who are "rather arumentative". And can I just say, MARY, that you express yourself beautifully? SNAPPY's going with #2 -- "go another round" -- and trying humbling herself and thinking about what her siblings think. How's that working out, SNAPPY? GRACE HEATHER (are you new to our group, GH? WELCOME!) is just going to try harder to not argue with her brother. I like the work "try" because that's really what Jesus is asking us to do. GH is also going to give "be reconciled" a go at the co-op with two girls who are "world-less fighting". I like that expression -- do you mind if I borrow it? (I'm always learning new things from you mini-women.) HALEY's asking God for patience with her brother (who has been driving her nuts lately) so she can walk that extra mile.
Here's what I"m thinking, mini-women. I'm thinking that even if you don't see the results of your efforts, like, immediately, something will be happening. You're acting like Jesus, and that is never wasted.
Here's the deal on that: We're pretty used to thinking that we should be rewarded on the spot for the good things we do. If you take a test and you know you did well, don't you want that paper back with the A+ on it right away? When you give your dad that cool Christmas present you made in school, don't you want him to tell you (twenty times at least) how much he loves it? And right now, isn't it WAY hard to wait another whole week for Christmas Day to get here? That's what we call "instant gratification." We want what we want and we want it right now.
Yeah, well, Jesus isn't about that. He says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where theives break in and steal." He's talking about the stuff we think we want RIGHT NOW, the things we think we DESERVE, the items we'll hang onto because they are OURS. We can be sort of like Frost, my granddog in the picture above, who even sleeps with his toys so the other dogs in the house won't get them. Seriously, who wants to be like a German shepherd?
But isn't it SO Jesus not to just say, "Here's what you shouldn't do" and let it go at that. He always tells us what he DOES want us to do, and here it is: "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven."
Heaven is obviously not here, not today. This is stuff we may not see any time soon -- and yet it's GOING to be there as we grow closer and closer to God. Not just when we die and go to heaven literally, but as we live our lives more and more like Jesus. We don't have to wait until we leave this earth to get the goodies our Lord promises us -- things like love and hope and meaning. But if we ARE going to have them, we're going to have to store them up.
(By the way, the first person to correctly tell the chapter and verse for "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven" AND respond to today's post AT THE SAME TIME will win the book of your choice.)
So what is it that we're supposed to "store up?" If you're going to survive on earth, you have to have money in the bank and food in the pantry and a roof over your. What do you have to have to live the life Jesus wants us to live?
That's what I would love for you to think about and comment on in these next few days. Here's an example to get you started:
One of the things that I try to "store up" is joy. It's really easy to get all depressed about how bad the world is. But I try to look for the God-joy. I find it when my baby granddaughter reaches out her arms for Nanny to pick her up. When my dogs put their heads in my lap and sigh. When my husband looks at me and says, "I love you, Nancy Rue," for no particular reason. When I take communion with my community of believers and sense the presence of our Lord Christ. When I read your posts and see how much you're growing.
Maybe your treasure is love or honesty or patience. Perhaps you have LOTS of treasures. Whatever they are or however many you try to put in your spiritual bank, tell us all about it. In this last week before Christmas Day, when we tend to think a lot about what's under the tree for us in those mysterious packages, it's a good time to consider the treasures in heaven. Can't wait to hear what they are!
Good morning, Mini-Women! And a happy third week in Advent to you. The preparations at my house are in full swing. We put our tree up Saturday, and it looks like Maeryn thinks it's all for her. She has one ornament she's allowed to play with whenver she wants (although Guinness and Geneveve think they should get a turn with it as well). The rest she just gets to point to with her tiny, tiny finger. She even mimicks me when I say, "Pretty."
It's so fun getting ready for Christmas with her around, because it's like seeing the season for the first time again. I keep wondering, "What's she thinking when she see the lights ? What is it that makes her bounce when she hears the music? How is it that she seems to know this is a special time, when she's only 10 months old?
I gotta believe that's Jesus.
Seriously. You all know people who don't really get the true meaning of the celebration. AMELIA has talked about that in several posts, and SNAPPY mentioned it, too. You also know people who just can't focus on it because they're ill, or have recently lost people they love, and it doesn't feel like Christmas to them right now. ANDI commented about that.
What do we do for them? AMELIA and her family have already discovered that the "up-front" approach doesn't always work. And when you think about it, if your sister has just had an accident or your best friend isn't speaking to you, you aren't always ready to hear, "This is all part of God's plan. Just have faith." And YOU know it's true. For someone who isn't sure about that, it can actually be like a slap in the face when they're already hurting and someone says, "Don't feel that way!"
So what CAN you do help bring the Christmas goodness to them? Especially if they don't especially want to hear it?
Don't say it. Just do it.
In the Sermon on the Mount that we've been looking at, Jesus doesn't talk to us about how to TELL people things. He talks about what to DO for them. "Let your light shine before others," he says, "so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) And what better time than now?
So see if one of these instructions from Jesus might help some Christmas-less person you know:
1. "Be reconciled to your brother or sister." Whatever's going on with your siblings or your friends, do everything you can to work it out fairly and honestly. That means not just shrugging and giving up because they are ridiculous creatures who will never get it.
2. "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile." If the first round of trying to work it out doesn't get everybody in a better place, go another round. See how far you have to go in honesty and fairness to settle those differences. Think more about the other person's feelings than yours for a minute and see what happens. (this doesn't mean give in on things that you know are wrong -- it does mean try to understand where he or she is coming from)
3. "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Enough with the talking about them behind their backs and wishing something heavy would fall on them. Time to pray, even for those who turn away your Christian gifts, lips curled.
By the way, the first person to give the chapter and verse for each of those three passages will win the book of her choice. (Didn't I promise there would be another contest?)
AND, if you'd like to comment on this post, tell us which of those three things you could work on in the next few days to help someone who has lost Jesus-in-Christmas (or never had him in the first place) see your light shining and sense God. That person may not even know that's what's happening, but God will. You never know where it will go from there.
Tell us about it! Can't wait to hear!
She was FAST with those answers, wasn't she?
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
O Little Town of Bethlehem
We'll have another contest NEXT WEEK,
so check in Monday.
Meanwhile, keep making Peace!!!!
(p.s. Jujubear -- please email me and we'll decide which book you want me to send you as your prize -- email@example.com)
Good morning, Mini-Women! Happy 12th day of Advent -- which means 17 more days until Christmas (but who's counting?) The Christmas carols are playing EVERYWHERE, right? -- stores, restaurants, gas stations, TV commercials. Some of them (at least the ones on TV and radio) are new words to old tunes -- stuff like "Get a get a get a get a Garmin" played to "Carol of the Bells", and "Don't buy gifst here!" sung to "The Twelve Days of Christmas." I mean, really. It's as bad as when I was a kid and the boys would sing, "We three kings of Orient are, trying to smoke a rubber cigar." Yes, tween boys have always been absurd little creeps.
If you listen to the ones they HAVEN'T messed up, though, there's one word that crops up in almost every one of them:
(a) "Sleep in heavenly peace."
(b) "O morning stars, together
Proclaim the holy birth!
And praises sing to God the King,
And peace to men (and mini-women) on earth."
(c) Hail! the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
(The first person to correctly name all three of those Christmas carols will win the book (by me) of her choice)
It's pretty obvious that Jesus came to bring peace, but you sure wouldn't know it in some households during Advent (not to mention at the mall, the post office, and even the rehearsal for the Sunday school Christmas pageant) And where is the LEAST amount of peace happening?
* DVNCING KW!N says it's with her mom, who is pretty frustrating right now.
* For HALEY, it's definitely her crazy-making brother
* FAITHGIRL's doing fine with family, but that girl in her computer and math classes is about to get on her last nerve.
If Jesus came to bring "peace on earth" -- how come our brothers won't leave us alone and the mean girls are getting away with all kinds of heinous-ness?
He actually gives us the answer in our next "Blessed are . . ."
"Blessed are the peaceMAKERS for they shall be called children of God." (Matthew 5:9, NRSV)
Wouldn't it be great if Jesus had said, "Blessed are the peace GETTERS?" I think we'd all love it if we could just sit back and enjoy the "peace on earth" the angels sang to the shepherds about that first Christmas.
Unfortunately they didn't say -- and neither did Jesus -- that because He was born, everything is going to go along slick and smooth. We know that's not true every day that we get out of bed! What he IS saying is that because of Him:
* peace is POSSIBLE
* we have the most important thing so we don't really HAVE to get so freaked out over little stuff like pesky brothers and rude girls who brag about their boyfriends (at 12! hello!)
* He will be there, in our hearts, to help us MAKE peace with the people who drive us nuts
What he ISN'T saying is:
* Blessed are the people who sit around waiting for everybody else to get their act together so things can be peaceful
* Blessed are the people who wish somebody would come in and fix it so there would be peace
* Blessed are those who whine but don't ever expect peace at the dinner table, the family van, or the computer classroom
We get that. But how do we MAKE peace, especially during this season of Advent when parents might be worried about money for Christmas, or people you love are sick (as so many of you have mentioned) and everybody's on edge about that, or you want Christmas to be more about Jesus's birthday but nobody else around you seems to see that?
I have some suggestions that come from a prayer we think was created by Francis of Assisi, which begins, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace". See how these sound to you.
(1) Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
(2) where there is injury, pardon;
(3) where there is doubt, faith;
(4) where there is despair, hope;
(5) where there is darkness, light;
(6) where there is sadness, joy;
(7) O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
(8) For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
I'm going to put YOU to work this time. If you'd like to post -- and get your name in next time's blog post by me -- pick at least ONE of those eight things and practice it with someone you're having trouble making peace with.
Here are some examples:
* If there are girls in your class or co-op who act like they hate each other, tell each one of them that you love her for a particular reason, like maybe she can always make people laugh, or she's great about sharing the treats her mom packs in her lunch, or she always stands up for people (or she has great dental hygiene!)
* If your brother hurts you by scribbling on your book report or lying to your mom about you, tell him your forgive him, even though you're angry about what he did
* If somebody in your family doesn't believe that Jesus really was (and is) the son of God, tell that person you're going to try to have enough faith for both of you
* If that relative who's sick seems to be giving up, tell him or her you're not going to stop hoping
See how it works? Pray about what you might do -- do it -- then tell us about it. I'll be posting again Monday so you have until then to give this a try. I'll be praying FOR you, and I'll be smiling, because I know from experience just how peace-making this can be!
Nancy Rue (Don't forget the Christmas song contest above!)
Good morning, Mini-Women! I'm back today because it sounds like we need all the help we can get with our siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, second cousins . . . and a few friends, too! We'll get back to that in a minute.
First, let's talk food! Looks like this season, "we shall be filled" with carbanara, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie (JESUS LUVER), punch with gingerale, pineapple juice, and vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet (thank you, LAURA -- I'm drooling all over my computer!) and huge Snicker Doodles. AMELIA likes hers with extra whipped cream and lots of maraschino cherries with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (because everything is better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). JESUS FREAK is gonna have a scrumptuous pretzel-Hersey-M&M thing (but no yams), while DVNCING KW!N will feast on Pizza Hut pizza (but definitely not soup) . For CATE it's her maw-maw's home made blackberry jam, to be eaten Christmas morning (we Southerners do like our jam, don't we, Cate?)
And it sounds like you're going to fill up with the desire to be better sisters, too, because you've all been praying. Just about everybody who posted her prayer had a brother in mind (except Laura who is an only child, who has brother-like issues with her dog; I totally get that) And I can see why -- we've got male siblings who mimick you and make you want to scream and cry . . . who act like they know everything and you don't know anything . . . who even hit. With all that going on, nobody can keep from blowing up and sulking without a lot of help from our Lord in the area of WANTING to do the Jesus thing. Keep praying, Mini-Women. It will make a difference.
Now -- on to our "Blessed are" for today -- and I warn you this one is going to seem impossible, but hang with me, okay?
Here we go: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matthew 5:8)
Pure. That's one of those Bible words that makes me go, "Uh-oh." It's right up there with "perfect" and "sinless" on the list of things I wouldn't use to describe myself. When you think about it, only babies like Maeryn can claim to be "pure". So if that's what it takes to see God, aren't all of us in trouble? Especially where our siblings and those troublesome relatives who are coming for Christmas are concerned?
I would agree with that except for the phrase "in heart". Jesus doesn't say "blessed are the pure." He says "blessed are the pure in heart", and I think that covers all of you, my mini-women. You wouldn't be here, posting such wonderful comments if your heart wasn't pure, way down there at its center, underneath all the stuff that has built up around it. I'm talking about comments like:
"I want this Christmas to be more Christianly."
"I try so hard, God, and I just need your strength."
"Please replace my need to blow up or go off and sulk with happiness that I'm blessed to have a sibling."
"Please give me the desire to forgive her when I think she is being a jerk."
No way you'd say any of that if the core of your heart, the heart God gave you, wasn't pure. I look at Baby Maeryn (doesn't she look like she's saying, "C'mon over and play with me, Nanny"?) and I see a heart that is still almost all pure (except when she pitches a fit because she wants to play with the shiny buttons on the stereo and her mom says no; I don't blame Mae --I like the shiny buttons on the stereo, too!) But no matter how well she's raised and how much she's loved, she's going to run into people and situations where it's going to be hard for her to behave like she's pure. YOU get that when you talk about wanting to smack brothers who make fun of you or dogs who drool on your fave pajamas. But unless Maeryn grows totally away from God, that pure core will always be there.
It's the same for you. Only ten, eleven, twelve years ago you were a baby, too, and there was barely an impure thing about you except your diapers. That wasn't that long ago. You couldn't have done anything in those few years to take away all the pure goodness you were born with. It's there, and when you're operating from that pure heart, you do see God -- even in your siblings and other sometimes-hard-to-get-along-with relatives.
So here's your "assignment" for today. See if you can squeeze it in between the Christmas shopping (or list-making!) and present-wrapping and tree-decorating -- as well as in the midst of the bickering and the arguing and the secret wishing that so-and-so's stocking would be filled with reindeer pooh. Concentrate on that difficult family member and see if you can work from the pure place in your heart (right where Jesus is hanging out) and see God in that person. Before you automatically say, "Not gonna happen," just give it a try. Remember, this is your pure place you're working from, so try to look at him or her the way God might. When you've found the tiniest trace of God, post your comment. Tell us what you saw and how that maybe changed things, even for just a minute.
Yeah, blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. I guess maybe my heart is purer than I thought, because I see God in you all every single day. Thank you for that gift.