On the Fourth Week of Advent…

Hello sweet mini-women!!

How are you today? Excited to be out of school? Happily playing with presents? Full of sugar and candy? (I love stockings!!)

Well, we are coming to the end of our Advent series and I have so enjoyed reading your comments!! It makes my heart happy to see our Tribelet encourage each other and pray for one another. And I love getting to know each of you a little better. Congratulations Esmeralda on the new baby!!!

So, Christmas has come and gone. The presents are unwrapped, the decorations are being stored. The tree is coming down. The let down has begun. The party is over.

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Or is it…

We’ve spent the last month talking about how Advent celebrates Jesus’ arrival. His coming to earth. Jesus was born! Now what? Well that’s the best part!! Here is the amazing thing about Christmas, because Jesus came to earth… We are no longer alone. He is with us.

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
    She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
    which means ‘God is with us.'”    

Matthew 1:23

When you are sitting by yourself at the lunch table-Jesus is with you.

When your parents are fighting-He is with you.

When your friend is acting weird and you don’t know what to do-He is with you.

When your siblings are acting crazy…or annoying…or just plain mean-He is with you.

When friends and family are in the hospital-Jesus is with you.

When you are doing your chores-He is with you.

You are not alone. Ever. Jesus-the God of the Universe-is with you!!! He is there to help you and His Spirit to guide you and comfort you. How amazing is that???

And that’s what the fourth week of Advent celebrates. The Love and Presence of our Savior. That is who Jesus is. Our Savior. He rescued us from darkness. And restored our ability to connect with God, our Heavenly Father.

The fact that Jesus is with you doesn’t necessarily mean that EVERYTHING will be okay. Life still hurts. Hard things happen. BUT what it means is that YOU will be okay no matter what happens because Jesus is with you. Immanuel came to Earth.

So the next time you are doing something hard or scary, remind yourself, “Jesus is with me. I am not alone.”

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In your Talking to God journal, take a minute and think about this past month. When was a time that you know Jesus was with you. What was happening? Write it out and then thank Him for being with you. For me, it was last night when I was mopping up gallons of water from a leaky faucet. Instead of going to pieces, I just thanked Jesus over and over for being with me. And for giving me the grace to clean up the mess with a good attitude. It might seem silly, but man did it help.

The Good News is that Jesus came to earth so that we could have a relationship with God. A deep, meaningful and powerful relationship. And the best way to develop that relationship is through prayer. So in January, we are going to talk about it. The nuts and bolts and the why’s and the hows of prayer. (Thank you Alexis for being brave and asking for suggestions on how to pray!)

So that’s the plan for January.

And as we look towards this coming year, we want to hear from you!!!

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What topics do you want to talk about in the new year?

In the comment section let us know: What do you want to talk about? Learn about? How do you want to grow in 2018?

This blog is for you mini-women. I can’t wait to see what you suggest!

Love, love love,

Leslie

P. S. We will have a mini makers in January!! So get your creative juices flowing and start creating. Hannah will give more details next week on where to email your art and when the mini-makers post will be. We just wanted to give you a heads up:) If you aren’t sure what mini-makers is…click HERE

P.P.S. We just updated the Welcome to the Tribelet page and added a new get to know you question. Go check it out:)

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On the Third Week of Advent

Girls, Christmas is only 5 days away!  Can you even stand to wait?  I know I can’t!  I love this time of year.

Last week we talked about John the Baptist and repentance, about making our hearts ready for Jesus.

This week we’ve got a different character to talk about, and she’s about as important to the Christmas story as you can get – Mary.

Mary and Baby Jesus

There is no Christmas story without her!

Well, ok there would be a Christmas story, I know God would have found another way to send His son to earth, but how good and wonderful that Mary said YES?

She said yes, knowing that this was going to be difficult story to tell.  Telling her mother, her friends, most importantly her fiancé Joseph that she was pregnant and not just with any baby but the Lord Himself?

Mini-women, we talk about Mary today, about how pure and lovely and brave she was (and we’re right to do so) but I know at some point – she must have been SCARED.

Scared at what this would mean for her family, scared to give birth (she wasn’t much older than you girls!), scared when she thought, “I’m in charge of God’s son?!”

I believe Mary had lots of reasons to say no, but she bowed her head and said yes.

She had grace.  A lot of it.  And that’s our word for this week.

Grace

What comes to mind when you think of the word Grace?

A ballerina twirling?  An eagle flying high?  Or the Christian version of the word, meaning God’s gift of Jesus to cover our sins?  That last one is a whole lot of grace, for sure.

Well grace can also mean: calm under pressure.  A goalie who doesn’t panic when six girls from the other team are coming straight at her.  An archer who has to make a bullseye on her last shot, and her hands aren’t shaking.  A younger girl who is auditioning for a musical with all older girls, and her voice doesn’t shake when she sings her solo.

These are all times you can feel fear and pressure.

BUT.

Mary was more full of grace than fear.

She might have been frightened, but she reacted calmly instead, just asking the angel questions about the details of how this could happen, not IF it should happen.

I think Mary had already decided it should happen.  As soon as the angel asked.  She welcomed the chance to serve God in the way He thought best.

It was a decision that had a future of difficulties with it, but in that moment, she chose to trust that the Lord’s plan was best.  She reacted with grace when she could have chosen to panic.

 

Mini-women, you and I will never be visited by an angel who is asking us to carry the Savior of the World.  But that doesn’t mean the Lord won’t still allow awkward or difficult dilemmas in our lives that we have to react to.  Will we choose fear and anger and rudeness, or will we respond with grace?

In your Talking to God journals this week, ask God about the qualities He saw in Mary – and how He can bring about that same grace in your everyday life too!

In your comments below, tell us about a dilemma you have faced or will be facing soon.  How did/will you respond?  Remember, none of us are perfect, so if you didn’t react gracefully under pressure, you know there’s no judgment here!  We’re all just looking to do better next time!

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One thing I find interesting is that Mary didn’t let her hard circumstances affect her trust in God. It would have been easier for her to say yes if God had had asked her to do something easier. It would have been easier for her to keep trusting God if everyone honoured her for being pregnant with God’s son.

Even though what God asked Mary to do was a huge sacrifice and brought her a lot of shame and suffering, she said yes with grace and trusted Him anyway. Why? Because she knew that God would win in the end, no matter what trials she faced on earth. God promises that if we trust Him, we will be with Him forever and no longer suffer. So, next time you open the first page of your final exam or walk to the hospital where your grandma is staying or walk past the bully at school, hold on to that promise. Perhaps knowing that the difficulty you’re facing will end one day will make your fear a little less overwhelming, and your trust a little deeper.

Row of Lights

~Asher

 

I’m making it my goal this week to think more about Mary’s grace and character, and I hope you will too.  Love you girls!

 

Hannah

On the Second Week of Advent

Hey mini-women!  We’re well into the Christmas swing of things now, and I’m delighted to bring you the second week of Advent.

There’s a part of the Christmas story that often gets overlooked, mostly because it doesn’t directly involve the baby Jesus.  But it’s so beautifully important to the story!

I’m talking about a little family of two that was soon to become three.  No, not Mary and Joseph.

Zacharias and Elizabeth.

A bit before Mary got her life-changing visit from Gabriel, Zacharias got his own crazy visit from an angel who told him that his wife Elizabeth was pregnant and being that they were old enough to be your grandparents, he didn’t believe the angel at all!  But of course God doesn’t make mistakes, and He doesn’t send his angels with made-up stories, so Elizabeth WAS pregnant.

And who was this miracle baby?  John the Baptist!

See, God knew that sending His very own son was going to rock the world, and change our way of life forever, and He knew that the world would need prepared for this big transition, so He decided to send a messenger ahead of Jesus, to get the Israelites ready.

Think about in school when they give you a study guide before the final exam.  Or when your soccer coach has you run sprints before the big tournament.  How you practice the piano until your fingers cramp, to get ready for that big recital.  When something BIG is coming up, you know that sometimes we have to do hard, even painful work to get prepared.

Now, at first glance, we might think, “Having Jesus come to earth is not as stressful as my final exam or a piano recital!  In fact, Jesus is great news right?  Who needs to do hard, painful work to get ready for good news?”

Well ladies, that’s what the Second Week of Advent is all about.

Repent

Repentance.

Repenting of your sins and turning your life around to make room for Jesus is not always easy fun work.  In fact, it rarely is.

God knew that the Jews were not ready for Jesus and all of His teachings and they would need to do some serious heart-searching to root out any bad habits they had gotten into.  Like maybe thinking too judgmentally of others while not looking at themselves.  Or ignoring the poor and hoarding all the extra money they made instead of giving it away.  Things like that.

So John the Baptist was there to give out some ‘tough love’ and remind everyone that yes, the Messiah was coming and He’ll be here soon, so let’s turn our lives around and get ready for Him!

Let’s take those bad habits, like gossiping or being sarcastic or not listening to our parents and turn away from them, to Jesus-habits like complimenting a friend behind their back, giving an honest answer instead a sarcastic one, or doing what our parents tell us to do, the first time they ask.

Will these changes be easy?  Probably not.  Sadly, it can be totally our human nature to lose focus on Jesus.

But we’ve got to make room for Him in our hearts and our lives.  We have to be the one to start the process.  Jesus is a gentleman.  He won’t barge in unannounced or force His way into your heart.  He stands and knocks and waits for us to open the door.

Long Road

That’s why He chose to come as a little baby, and be born in a tiny stable, and didn’t seem to ask for much fanfare.  He came quietly and let John the Baptist announce it before He did, to give us the chance to get ready for Him.

Mini-women, we should always be looking for ways to make our hearts more open to Jesus habits.  But Christmas is a great time to remind us of this, to re-center, re-focus and get our hearts ready for that happy, happy Christmas morning.

In your Talking to God journals, ask God if there’s something that you’ve been holding on to too long, some bad habit that might make Christmas morning a little difficult to celebrate.  If you’ve been rude to a friend, or talked back to your parents, talk to God about it, ask for His forgiveness, and go to that person and apologize, so that you can be happy to wake up and celebrate Christmas with that person on December 25th.

In your comments below, if you’d like to share, let us know what might keep you from having a happy Christmas and what you can do to change it.  If there is something that is out of your control, you can tell us so we can pray about that for you!  But I want to know if there is some problem in your life that you CAN start to fix, and what steps you’re going to take to make it happen!

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I don’t know about you, but letting go of bad habits is really hard for me! One thing I’ve found helpful is replacing the bad habit with a better one instead of trying to completely get rid of it. For example, if you tend to get distracted surfing the net while you’re doing homework, you could try going to make a cup of tea (or maybe some hot cocoa during this Christmas season) instead when you feel tired of working. And of course, pray about it, especially when you’re feeling tempted to slip back into your old habit(s).

Advent Habits

Letting go of bad habits and developing Jesus-habits doesn’t have to be another difficult thing to add to your to-do-list. You might want to make it a little more fun by rewarding yourself with something you love (maybe Christmas cookies!) after trying your best not to be sarcastic to your mom or writing in your Talking-To-God-Journal more.

Also, don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up and say something snarky to your mom or forget to write in your Talking-To-God-Journal – developing Jesus-habits is about having a heart that’s devoted to Him, not keeping a perfect track record, and thankfully God is full of forgiveness!

 

Love you mini-women!  And I love getting our hearts ready to welcome Jesus! ~Hannah

On the First Week of Advent

Nativity

Hello Tribelet of lovely mini-women!!  How are you this beautiful day??? It’s nice and cozy where I am in Tennessee. Perfect for Christmas music and twinkle lights.  And a cup of something yummy. Can you believe it is December already? I felt like this year was taking forever and now, BOOM, it’s almost over.

I loved reading your sweet comments to Mrs. Nancy. Isn’t she incredible? Her books are A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. and so is this Tribelet she has brought together. Don’t you worry, mini-ladies, she’ll be back as a guest blogger. We love her too much to let her go too far.

me and Gen

So we are going to be talking about Advent this month.  And how to celebrate it. From the comments, it looks like quite a few of you are familiar with the season of Advent. But just to get the whole Tribelet on the same page….

ADVENT: the season where we prepare our hearts for Christmas. And more importantly-Jesus coming to earth all those years ago. The word Advent actually means…coming.

Good news is coming

It’s kind of like a count down to Jesus’ birth, for the four weeks before Christmas. So that in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, with all the schoolwork, shopping and decorating, we don’t miss the big picture. That Christmas is really about celebrating the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, put on skin and came to earth. And each week, we will focus on a different part of the Story-God’s Story. Of why Jesus came to earth in the first place.

So for the first week of Advent, let’s focus on LIGHT.  Or more importantly LIGHT vs darkness.

light vs. darkness

Have you ever wondered why life is so hard? Why bad things happen? Or looked at what is happening in the world and thought what the heck is going on? Life can get a little depressing at times. And things can seem dark.

When I think about darkness, I always think about this verse.

“We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

You might read that and think, “Whoa, Leslie. That’s a little heavy.” And it is. The reality is our world is filled with darkness. Sin. Brokenness. Pain. And that is why Jesus came. We needed Him. To fight the battle for us.

Jesus explains it this way…

“I am the LIGHT of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the LIGHT of life.” John 8:12

Yesterday I just asked a friend, “What do you think it means that Jesus came to be light in the darkness?”

They responded -“He shines in my darkest moments.”

Isn’t that the truth?  This world can feel pretty dark. Sometimes my heart can feel a little dark. And knowing that Jesus has wrapped me in His LIGHT, makes me feel safe. And that everything is going to be ok.

The first week of Advent is all about LIGHT. Or more importantly LIGHT vs darkness.

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Jesus came to be a LIGHT in the darkness. And I don’t know about you but I’m so glad He did. We have all lived enough life to know there is darkness in the world. Also called evil. Hopefully your life has not been touched by it yet, but if you look around you can see it. Our world is broken. And full of pain. And that is why Jesus came. To give us HOPE and to fill us with His LIGHT.

This week, as you are preparing for Christmas, be on the lookout for different types of LIGHT. Maybe the ones on your Christmas tree or a candle or even the ugly florescent ones at the mall. Every time you notice a LIGHT, take a moment and thank Jesus for being the LIGHT of the WORLD. It is a simple way to stay focused on the Bigger Story of God’s love and faithfulness.

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In your Talking to God Journal-Take a moment and write a prayer asking God to prepare your heart for this season of Advent-that He would make Himself known to you in new ways.  I was thinking it might make things feel special if we light a candle whenever we write in our journals this month, But PLEASE ask your adult for permission first. Let’s not start any fires.

And in the comments section, share a favorite tradition that makes Christmas feel special to you. The goal is to get to know our TRIBELET and each other a little more.

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While most of us think of Christmas as a time of joy and celebration, some people are going through dark times this month. Before you jump into the whirlwind of Christmas list writing and gift shopping and wrapping, you might want to take a minute and think of people in your life that need some light this December. Maybe it’s the girl that’s bullied at school, the grandpa who lives next door who is spending Christmas alone this year, or your own family.

To help keep you in a giving mindset, you might like to write down a few kind things you could do for others this month on slips of paper. Maybe you could invite a friend to your church’s Christmas service, or bake cookies for your lonely neighbour or tell your bullied classmate God loves her. Then, you could put your slips of paper inside your advent calendar or a jar and pick one to do every day. What you might think is a “small” gesture can make a huge difference to others – knowing that someone loves them will bring Jesus’ light and hope to their day!

Love, Love, Love,

Leslie