A Fond Farewell

Oh, precious Mini-Women.

This is Nancy.

When I started Tween You and Me 10 years ago, I had no idea how many tween girls like you would meet here and comment and share and pray and laugh and have blog parties. I don’t actually know how many, but it’s been a LOT. Some have graduated from high school – gone to college – some are even married! That means the tween years really do pass, and I hope the Tween You and Me blog helped make those years – and yours – easier and more fun and, most important of all, more God-filled. We have talked about everything from bullying to those absurd little creep boys. From keeping a Talking To God journal to dealing with friendship flubs. From celebrating Advent to observing Lent. From making friends with our own bodies to dealing with our siblings (and we don’t know which is harder!). God has been right in the middle of all of it – the doubts and the faith, the questions and the answers, the prayers and the celebrations.

caricature of signingNow it’s time to say good-bye to the blog, and each one of us who has been part of it on the posting end – Asher (who has grown up here!), Hannah and Leslie – is going to take a turn giving you some parting words to send you on your way. After all, that’s what we’ve always done, isn’t it?

Asher … Some advice on school

My advice would be to find balance. Yes, grades are important, but so is meeting people, doing extracurriculars and actually getting something out of your education. In middle school I tended to say in my comfort zone – focusing on getting good grades and my existing friend group. Now that I’m a sophomore, I’ve learned that branching out is important. It’s really helped me widen my perspective of life, and taught me my second piece of advice …

final AsherMost things don’t matter. As they’re happening to you, moments seem huge – failing that math test is the end of the world and noting is more mortifying than messing up when you try debate for the first time. Truth is, most things won’t bother you ten days … ten years from now, so don’t be afraid to give things a shot and save your energy for what truly matters. Things that aren’t temporary. You, people and what you believe in.

And practically, when your busy school life begins to overwhelm you, breaking things down helps. Study by chapter, not by textbook, at a time. Makes lists of your priorities. Plan, putting short term and long term goals into action.

As always, take care. Love, Asher.

Friendship Farewell Post

Hi, Mini-Women- it’s Hannah!

It has been my HONOR to speak to you about all sorts of topics over the past year. I will miss your cheerful responses and conversations, but I know you have all the knowledge you need to grow into amazing your women. In fact, I’d say you’re already there!

You’ve shown us what it means to be a true friend, with your sweet advice and promises to pray for each other. That will carry you far in life. I hope we’ve shown you that if you turn to Jesus and what He said, you won’t go wrong when it comes to making friends, keeping friends and being there for those friends. Find your tribe and be loving to them. Find girls who will remind you to turn to the Ultimate Friend when your life looks cloudy and gray. We have all friends here for a little while, but those friends will last a lifetime.

Oh, and as far as our Mini Makers, I will say – keep creating! You girls are seriously fantastic. And loved. Every. Single. One of you.

kindhearted

It’s Leslie here,

I’ve been thinking about you mini-women this past week and what I want to share as we say goodbye to the blog What I wish someone would have told me what I was your age. And this is where I landed. My hope is that you would be mini-women who learn to love well. Who love God and love all people. And love them well. That’s what we are called to do. Just love. Do small things with great love regardless of the outcome. Keep loving. And when your spirit runs out, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with His love. To the brim. Overflowing, He never runs out. There is always more. It’s not about doing it right or being perfect. Just love.

Ask God to teach you about his love. For you, your family, your friends, the world. He will show you. His love never fails. It’s perfect. And even better, his love for you will never change. He loved you so much, He sent Jesus so you could know him. And the Holy Spirit so you can connect with him. Nothing you do or say, or don’t do or don’t say can ever separate you from His love. He is always there. Ready to listen. With arms wide open.

Good things, like this blog, end. That’s part of the rhythm of life. Seasons change, people change, life changes, But God and his love for you do not and will not change. So keep getting to know Him. Love Him. And no matter what comes your way, you will more than okay.

Jeremiah

If you want to write in your Talking to God Journal, maybe you can tell God some of your favorite memories from your time spent here on the blog. And we do hope you’ll continue your habit of writing to God as often as you can. We still do!

If you want to make a comment and continue the conversation with your friends here a little while longer, the blog will remain up for two more weeks (until September 26). So why not share the most important thing you’re learned from being part of Tween You and Me?

Blessings, Mini-Women,

Nancy

Asher

Hannah

Leslie

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Women of the Bible-Esther

Hey Tribelet – Asher here! How are you all?

Today I’ll be talking about Esther, one of my favorite characters of the Bible for part 3 of our ‘Women of the Bible’ series.

Esther started from the bottom of the pile. She was an orphan, cared for by her uncle, Mordecai. On top of that, she was a Jew – a race that was looked down upon at the time.

I wonder if Esther had big dreams for her life. Today, many of us can hope to become an athlete, veterinarian, detective… But most girls back in Esther’s time had a much more limited future: their main destiny was to marry someone of a similar social standing.

Even if she did have big dreams, I doubt Esther expected much more.

Unexpectedly, king Xerxes, the most powerful guy in town, picks her to be his wife. Her life is totally changed. From a dirt-floored house to a palace. From girl next door to having all eyes on her. From being able to talk to Mordecai casually to not being able to speak to the king unless he summoned her.

Soon Esther finds out that the king’s right hand man, Hanan, has passed an order for all Jews to be killed. Her people. Mordecai begs her to ask the king for mercy. But the king doesn’t summon her. By approaching him she could die.

Mordecai, I’m sure, is aware of this – but he continues to encourage Esther to speak up:

12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (NIV)

He tells Esther to make the most of her power. Her voice, her royal position, her race – everything God placed in her life was an opportunity – to speak out for the oppressed Jews.

Esther replies:

“I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.” (MSG)

I find it interesting that Esther’s feelings don’t come up in the Bible. We never find out whether she feared approaching the king or not.

Bravery isn’t the absence of fear. It’s doing the right thing even if you are scared to death.

By focusing on how Esther takes action instead, we can see the importance of bravery. Regardless of how she felt, Esther chose to do what counted.

“If I die, I’ll die.” She also accepts the fact that things might not go her way. She knows she can’t do anything about the result of the situation, but God will take care of her eternity.

I don’t know about you, but to me, that is true bravery.

In the comments, we’d love to know:

We may not have opportunities as “significant” at Esther’s lives right now, but what do you have that you can make a difference with? Maybe you’re in the same class as someone who is lonely. You could still try to do what you can and be by their side. Perhaps you’re great on the piano, and could offer to play at the old folks home in your town.

Also… what holds you back from taking action? Maybe you’re afraid your friends will abandon you if you start spending too much time with the lonely kid. Perhaps you get stage fright and performing on the piano is out of your comfort zone. Do share if you’re comfortable – there’s no shame in weakness!

Personally, I can make a difference by supporting family members going through tough times. The sacrifice of time, comfort and energy that takes holds me back sometimes, but I’m working on it.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

Take care,

Asher

The Miracles of Jesus – Part 3

John 5 4

Hey Tribelet! Asher here. How are your summer vacations going? I guess yours have started already – I’ve still got a few more days of school to go. School can be a pain sometimes, but it definitely doesn’t compare to today’s miracle…

…Imagine being paralyzed for thirty eight years.

That’s pretty hard, right? I certainly can’t imagine that – I think it’s safe to say 38 years is over 3 times greater than your ages!

Unfortunately, that was reality for the man in John 5.

3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. [4] [b] 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

John 5.a

He was “invalid”, surrounded by fellow “invalids” who had been rejected from society by no fault of their own.

He couldn’t move, not even a couple of inches to the pool, his only hope of healing.

This man was completely helpless.

Thankfully, Jesus sees him and his struggle. There must have been hundreds of disabled people by the pool, but He knew exactly what this particular “invalid” was going through.

8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

Physically, it’s remarkable that Jesus was able to heal this man. But what strikes me even more is the way he did so. He didn’t do everything for the “invalid” – no, Jesus gave him a choice.

He asked: do you want healing?

Okay. This is how you heal, and I will give you the power to do it.

Now that you’re healed, start a new life.

This is an interesting insight to how Jesus healing works – it’s a two way street. Praying “please help me ace this test” and doing nothing else about it doesn’t quite cut it. God will help us, but we need to be determined to improve, trusting to follow His instructions and willing to live differently.

John 5 2

So, for this example, if you were willing to put effort into the test, listening to God by not cheating in it and being committed to studying hard next time, results may look a little different.

Now you might think, well, I’m not blind or lame or paralyzed. I don’t need healing. But the truth is, we are all as helpless as the “invalid” man in other ways. By ourselves, us humans are weak. We have physical, emotional and intellectual limits. We set out to finish that project, go over and talk to the new girl, run that half marathon – and end up failing to do so because we’re not strong enough to do it alone.

We need Jesus to perform mini-miracles for us every day, whether that’s giving us the strength to swim the final lap, or not give in and stand up for something you believe in.

So Jesus performed a miracle for the man, and he was well and walking again. Was all well?

Not quite.

The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”

12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

John 5 1

The man faced difficulties immediately after being healed – he was opposed by the Jewish leaders, who were very picky about religious traditions. Since the Bible says to rest on the Sabbath (Sunday), they thought Jesus was violating the commandment by doing work and healing the man.

There are several things to unpack here…

Firstly, Jesus’ open-minded character stands out here. Unlike the Jewish leaders, he wasn’t too caught up in the details and ‘rules’ of religion, because He understood that faith was more about having a heart focused on loving God and others. He wasn’t just going to pass a hurting man by because it was Sunday. He had compassion for the man, and knew that healing him was best thing to do.

John 5 5

Secondly, the man acknowledged Jesus. He followed His instructions to pick up his mat, even though it was against the preferences of the Jewish leaders, and even told them about Jesus. He recognized that Jesus knew what was best for him, and that without Him, he would still be helpless.

And finally, not all was happily ever after. Yes, the man was healed – that’s awesome! But his difficulties didn’t end there. He was immediately questioned by society. Unfortunately, that’s reality – there are always going to be hardships. Relying on God is not a one-off thing.

We’ll always need Him.

So let’s continue our journey acknowledging our weaknesses. Following what God guides us to do, even if we’re not sure about it. And learning each time we make progress, changing the way walk.

John 5 3

In the comments, feel free to let us know what stuck out to you in today’s miracle. (You can read more about it in John 5:1-23). What did you find most interesting?
I’d also love to know what situations you feel helpless in. Do you rely on God in these situations, and how could He help you to improve?

Personally, I feel helpless when I try to support friends who are struggling and it doesn’t seem like their situation is improving. I could definitely rely on God more by praying about this. I hope He can help me improve by making me a wiser and more uplifting friend!

Until next time,

Take care.

Asher

Fighting With Yourself

Hi Tribelet! Asher here. Firstly, I’m sorry for being less active on the blog this month. My exam season has been pretty hectic, but luckily the worst of it’s over now! I’m so glad to be back.

I’m absolutely loving the guest posts and Mini-Makers entries this month – you are all so creative and supportive of each other!

Today, I’ll be contributing my own two cents, discussing the internal battles we all face.

Who’s your worst enemy?

Although I’ve seen my fair share of nasty people, I must admit that I am my own worst enemy. I often fail to do what I know it’s right. It’s a constant cycle of deciding to do what God wants, relying on my own strength, failing to put it into action and feeling like a loser for falling short.

One of the disciples, Paul, has similar thoughts:

“I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.”

(Romans 7:18-20, MSG)

Every day, we fight these internal battles of choosing what God wants or what we want. It’s tough when you want to go over to that girl sitting alone, but you don’t want to be laughed at by your classmates, either.

As Paul says, this isn’t the case of not knowing what is right. We have a pretty good gut instinct of that, thanks to the Bible and the Holy Spirit. It’s the case of fighting to do what is right. But that’s easier said than done: doing what we want is easier, it’s in our comfort zone, more attractive…

If you’re tired of fighting, you’re not alone. Here are a few things you can try:

– Realize you’re not struggling alone – God is fighting for you! Since we’re imperfect humans, if we rely on our own strength, we’ll only end up feeling weak and burnt out. Let’s rely on God instead.

– Get into the habit of praying when your temptation comes up, whether that be a second packet of chips or a chance to cheat in a test. This will help you focus on what is right.

– Prepare. You could make a list of potential temptations in your prayer journal, and then think of a solution for each one. For example, if you struggle with getting distracted doing homework, you could plan to put away your phone and work in the same room as your dad to stay more focused.

– Get support from someone you trust, maybe your best friend, your mom or your youth group leader, and check in with them often. They’ll be able to help keep you accountable, encouraging you to go and talk to the lonely girl and speak up about God.

– Forgive yourself. It can be easily to fall down that slippery slope of being hard on yourself, but please remember that we all struggle with sin. After all, Paul, who was considered as one of the most faithful disciples did as well! God has already forgiven you and is waiting for you to get up and fight again.

Let’s do our best to see temptation as an opportunity for God to lift us up, not something that pulls us down.

We’d love to know: What temptations are in your life right now? How are you going to fight against them? We’ll be praying for you all!

Stay strong,

Asher

Feeling Overwhelmed?

Mini-Women!! I totally glitched. I am so sorry this post is late. On Monday and Tuesday I thought-I need to put the post up on Wednesday. And then Wednesday came and went…Poof. No posty the bloggy. I apologize. Funnily enough, this week Esmerelda wrote a post for us about what to do when you feel overwhelmed by life.  I can certainly relate to that. And I’m not even in school with all the end of year wrapping up that goes on. Once again, sorry this is late.

Hi everyone, Esmeralda here. I’m really excited to be writing this for all of you. I love this blog and have been here for about a year now! It has been a huge blessing to me and I hope that it is a blessing to you, too.

I’m going to be talking about being overwhelmed.

I’m sure it is a feeling that everyone is familiar with. Overwhelmed with school, homework, chores, babysitting, the lists go on and on. Especially with the school year ending now. Sometimes I just want to throw myself across my bed and scream.

flowers 

The good news-is that, I have some tips for you, these are all things that help me when I’m overwhelmed:

  1. Write lists of what you have to do, breaking everything down helps it not seem like so much. 
  2. Pray, pray that God would give you the strength, patience and help that you need to get through everything.
  3. Go for a walk or run if you can. It really helps to clear your head.
  4. Write in your talking-to-God journal, just write all about how hard it is to get everything done in time, etc.

I hope that this post is helpful to all of you. I will be praying that all of you are able to be at peace and not be overwhelmed.

Thanks for reading this.

-Esmeralda

So what has you feeling overwhelmed at the moment? Feel free to share in the comment box. So we can be praying for each other.

And don’t forget-It’s Mini-Maker’s May. Send your creative submissions to tribeletelder@gmail.com so we can share them with the TRIBELET. And if you still don’t understand what mini-makers is all about-click here

Love, Love, Love,

Leslie

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Strength in the Lord

Hello everyone!!  It is Kaelyn here and this is my first ever post on this blog!!  I am honored to be able to do this and I today I am talking about the strength God gives us.  

It is something we all want to have whether it is to stand up to a bully, face your fears, or doing what is right in hard circumstances. God knows our fears, doubts, and worries. He cares about every single one of them and He even knows every hair on our heads. That is a lot,when you think about it!! In Luke 12:6 it says,” Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.” That is a lot of love and, if He can see five sparrows,  how much does He see us? He sees us as His daughters, His beloved, and His princesses. He sees us as His children.  

luke-12-6-7

With this worth in ourselves, we can have courage.   What does courage mean? I looked up the meaning of courage and this is what I found.  

Courage

  1. The ability to do something that frightens one
  2. Strength in the face of pain and grief  

I also noticed something else in these definitions, the word strength. Being the kind of girl I am, I looked up the meaning of the word strength as well.  

Strength

  1. The quality or state of being strong, in particular  
  2. A good or attribute of quality or attribute of a person or thing 

We then may start to think,” I am not strong, and I am scared as well. ” We can change that by becoming stronger. We get stronger physically by working out and lifting weights.  We can get stronger spiritually by reading the Bible, praying, and being in a community of strong believers.  

A verse that has helped me a lot when I am afraid, is 2 Timothy 1:7.

 spirit of love

In another translation, it says , power and love and of sound mind.  When we have fear, we are not sound of mind. God can give us courage and we can do that by saying, ” I do not have a spirit of fear. I have a spirit of power, love, and self-control.” The awesome thing is, God is always there with us, we have worth,  and we are growing spiritually every day. He gives us the courage and the strength to move mountains. If that mountain is what is happening in our family situation, school situation, or anything at all. God is there and He gives the strength to move mountains with faith.

matt 17-20

Nothing is impossible with God, and with Him we can find the courage to do anything.  We can find the courage to stand up to that bully, to do the right thing when everyone isn’t,  and to face our fears.

In the comments, we are here if you want to  let us know where you need courage and strength in your life.  We will be praying for you and we can do this together. For me at times, I need courage to share the light of Jesus.  You are not alone and we are in this together. Also, if you want to say where God has given you courage, we all love to hear that too!!
In our Talking to God Journals this week, let’s ask God to give us the courage  to do what is right, to stand strong, and to have what we need through whatever situation we go through.   

This is Kaelyn and I will see you next time!!  🙂

Ok Mini-Women-you may have noticed a little something different today. We had a guest blogger!!!  Kaelyn has been a part of the TRIBELET for years now and we wanted to give her the opportunity to share a post. We are calling this is MINI-MAKER MAY and we want to hear from you! We thought it would be fun to make May a showcase of the many talented mini-women who are part of our TRIBELET. Send your art, poems, writing, photography…however you want to express your creativity and we will showcase it here on the blog this month. Just email it to tribeletelder@gmail.com. Find out more about mini-makers here.

 

Journey to Myself

Hello, Mini-Women. I LOVE being here for a visit! Thank you, Leslie, Hannah and Asher for having me. It’s sort of like coming home, you know?

The reason for that? Because this is a place where everyone can simply be who she is without feeling afraid that someone’s going to say, “You are so weird,” or “Did God miss blessing you with the cool stick?” Here you can just do you.

Even here, though, it’s sometimes hard to know exactly who we are. So hard that I wrote a whole book on that topic, called Everybody Tells Me To Be Myself But I Don’t Know Who I Am. (Possibly the longest title ever) We can all get there, but it’s a process, a journey. It takes as much time for us to discover who God made us to be as it does for us to physically become who we’ll be as adults. Just looking at the pictures I’ve shared here of me growing up proves that, right?

The difference is that our bodies sort of grow by themselves. We don’t have to focus on how long our legs are going to get or what shape our noses are going to take (although I spent my middle school years wishing I COULD do something about my schnozz!) When it comes to our inner selves, however, it seems like the choices never end. Should I be more outgoing? Should I figure out when to shut up? Should I be more creative? Should I try to act like I’m smart and maybe I’ll fool people? Should I laugh more? Laugh less? Laugh louder? Laugh without snorting?

I’m still on that journey of discovering exactly who God made me to be, I think because it continues as long as we’re on earth. But I have learned this about the process: the word “SHOULD” needs to be erased from our vocabulary when it comes to being authentic. Perhaps if I take you through my tween journey to myself I can show you what that looks like.

I was about nine years old when I started to think about who I was.

age 9

Up until then I was pretty much on automatic pilot, but in fourth grade the questions started. SHOULD I be playing outside when what I really wanted to do was read 24/7? I actually had nothing against being outdoors, as long as I could take a book with me. (I always wanted to read on the limb of a tree like Louisa May Alcott did as a kid, but it was really uncomfortable. She must have had bigger trees.) SHOULD I try to beat Douglas Ledbetter in math grades, when what I really wanted to spend time on was the stories I invented in my head? I tried being outdoorsy and becoming a whiz at fractions, but it made me seriously anxious. I think that’s when I started biting my fingernails. What if I hadn’t finally decided that I was a reader and a creator of stories, and not an athlete or the next Einstein? I probably wouldn’t be writing this post for you right now.

When I turned ten, it seemed like friendships got a lot harder.

age 10

SHOULD I spend all my time with my BFF (because if I didn’t, she would give me the silent treatment for days) or make friends with a lot of different people (which I was figuring out I was kind of good at.)SHOULD I take up my whole recess time in a tornado of girl drama, or hang out with people who loved to giggle (and snort!) as much as I did? What if I’d chosen to limit myself to one main friend and talked about everybody else behind their backs? I might never have grown out of it – and then I DEFINITELY wouldn’t be writing this post for you. And I sure wouldn’t have written Girl Politics.

By the time I turned twelve, boys had entered the scene – for every other girl in the seventh grade except me.

age 12

I was faced with the dilemma: SHOULD I pretend I had a crush on some kid just so I’d have something to talk about at the lunch table, or just have fun with the people –girls AND boys – in my youth group who didn’t care if I was “going out” with someone. (I always wondered where we were going to “go” without cars and money …) SHOULD I beg my mother to let me grow my hair long like everybody else who wanted to look like Cher, or concentrate on the confirmation class where some of the stuff I didn’t understand about God was being explained? What if I’d opted for boyfriends (as if I could have gotten one) and hippie hair instead of discovering that I could actually pray? On my own. Without anybody telling me what I should (there it is again) say. I sure wouldn’t be here suggesting topics for your Talking To God Journal, because I wouldn’t have one myself.

Speaking of that journal, if you want to write in yours, why not talk to God about the SHOULDS you find yourself believing. Are they really you – or are they just what everybody says you SHOULD buy into?

If you want to comment, will you share one of your SHOULDS? I’ll go first. I’ll go first. At this point on my journey to myself, I’ve found myself asking SHOULD I write more books, or retire like most people do at my age? What if I decide I’m done? I’ve pretty much determined that God isn’t saying that yet. SO here I am with you … and loving it. Thank you for letting me be part of YOUR journey.

now

Blessings,

Nancy Rue

Identity: Asher’s Journey + Tips

Hi, Tribelet! It’s Asher here, and this week we’re continuing on a topic very near and dear to my heart – identity.

Imagine this…

As you walk down the hallway at school, you recognise almost everyone by what they’re known for. The girl carrying a huge cello? She’s amazing in orchestra. The guy who grins as you walk past? The class clown. The kid with hair almost as messy as her half-open backpack? She’s the best writer in your class.Identity 1

It seems like they’ve got themselves figured out already. All you have is a whirlwind of questions.

What about me? Who am I?

Are you familiar with those questions? With my not-so-great grades, friend group made up of misfits and lack of ‘defining qualities’, I struggled with them a lot in as a tween. I felt lost and inadequate next to my peers, who seemed to have found their talents already.

Things started to turn around when I taught at Vacation Bible School for the first time. Working with the kids was so rewarding – I began to realise that I could make a positive difference with the gifts I have. At school, I started working harder and smarter, which resulted in my grades climbing. I also discovered some things I enjoyed doing, like drawing and participating in this blog (I’ve been on it since 2015!).

In the next couple of years, my grades improved a lot – I became “the straight-A girl” to most of my classmates. That was exactly the recognition I craved before! But you know what? I didn’t feel any more significant for my improved achievements. If anything, it opened the door to a whole new set of insecurities – What will people think if I fail? How can I keep up my standard? What if I can’t… what am I then? I began putting my identity in grades.

Fast forward to now.

I still struggle with putting my identity in achievements and what others think, but I like to think I’m improving. Looking at things in a long-term perspective helps – if I do badly in a quiz, it won’t affect my future much at all, and it’s better that I fail and learn earlier than when it’s too late. I don’t know much more about who I am, but I’m learning.

I recently encountered a new question:

‘Do you think you are important?’ my Bible study teacher asked.

What would your answer be?

To God, we’re all important. You probably know that already, but believing it is key.

As Romans 12:3 (MSG) says: “The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.”

Next time you feel incompetent, take a minute to remember what God has done for you. He clearly cares a whole lot about you! So do try to see yourself as He sees you – His beloved child, regardless of how significant you or others think you are.

So, what steps should you take if you’re struggling with your identity? Here are a few things that worked for me:

Don’t…

* Compare yourself to others – it’s toxic! Head over to my “Body Image: Comparison” post if you’d like to know more…

* Be afraid to talk – one mistake I made in my early middle school years was not sharing my thoughts with family/friends. In hindsight, talking about identity questions really does help – your loved ones have probably encountered the same problems before!

* Put your identity in the wrong places – you might be an amazing dancer, Miss Popular, or drop-dead gorgeous now, but all of those things could go away in a matter of seconds. Instead, focus on eternal qualities you have, such as how you’re always there for your friends.

Do…

* Write in your ‘Talking-To-God Journal’ – I wrote in it so much while I was struggling with who I was. It helped me get everything off my chest and keep things in a God-perspective. If you’ve journalled for a while, it’s also great to look back at old entries and see how you’ve progressed along your identity-journey, and how God came through for you in the past.

* Be okay with not knowing who you are – you are not alone! Many adults, let alone tweens, fully know their identity. God will help you learn more with time – for know, appreciate what you do know, and know that you are important.

* Come here for support – we’d be more than happy to pray for your requests, answer your questions and encourage you! Do stick around, we’re all in this identity-journey together.

If you’d like to comment, we’d love to know: What do you put your worth in? And please share your personal tips about identity struggles if you have any!

I hope you all have a blessed week!

Asher

Healthy Snacks

Hello, Mini-Women! It’s so good to be back for a visit. I’m loving this series Leslie and Hannah and Asher are doing with you, so when they asked me to talk to you about snacks (one of my favorite topics) I jumped right on it.

Healthy is the New Skinny

See if this sounds like you.

You just get back from a bike ride (a gymnastics class, a shopping trip, a leap frog competition … okay, maybe not that). You’re starving but it’s not time for dinner, so you check out what’s to eat. You decide on some cereal. That sounds healthy, right? Of course, when you look at the selection in the pantry, most of it looks boring (does anyone actually LIKE bran?) but there’s still some left of that kind with the colored marshmallows in it. As you head for the family room you promise yourself you won’t eat the whole box.

Lucky Charms

And actually you don’t. Because about halfway through whatever’s on TV, you ditch the few morsels that are left and curl into a ball on the couch. It seems weird. You’re kind of jittery, and you don’t even have the energy to grab the box from your little brother when he passes through and snatches it. You thought exercise was supposed to make you feel more energetic, but right now, you feel like a complete blob. When your mom calls that dinner’s ready, all you can say is, “Ug.”

Here’s the deal. You’re growing more in your tween years than in any other season of your life (except birth to 2 years old). Between that and the exercise you’re getting (you are, aren’t you?) you obviously need the right fuel. Not just anything you can get your hands on, but the real stuff your body needs for all the growing and changing it’s doing.

Amarise 1 of 3

So what’s the real stuff? That’s pretty simple. It’s the God-made stuff. If it basically happens naturally, it’s good for you. If it contains more than one ingredient you can’t even pronounce, it probably isn’t.

God-stuff:

Whole grains

Veggies

Fruits

Nuts

Dairy (or dairy substitutes like soy, almond or rice milk)

Meat and beans

Blueberries

Not God-stuff:

Soda (even diet; in fact, especially diet)

Artificial sweeteners (Stevia is okay, but not Equal or Splenda)

Any foods with sugar as the first ingredient on a package (yeah, that means the Chips Ahoy)

Crackers and chips containing partially hydrogenated oil (which even sounds disgusting)

Greasy fried foods (Yep, that includes French fries – in fact, most fast food)

Processed foods made with corn syrup (and most of them are)

Besides being nutritionally sound, this whole thing is Biblical.

God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” (Genesis 1:29)

AND

“Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat.” (Leviticus 11:2)

I’m not seeing Pop-Tarts and Hot Pockets in there, are you?

Even if your family doesn’t fix meals from the God-stuff list, making your own snacks can help. At first that may sound like you can only eat celery sticks and drink water, but there are a BUNCH of great possibilities if you use your imagination. Some of my faves:

· Those celery sticks … dipped in a little bit of peanut butter

· A bowl of berries in a pool of milk

· A sliced banana mixed with nuts

· A half an apple baked in the microwave for 30 seconds and sprinkled with cinnamon

food-3221908_960_720

Once in a while it’s fun to savor a treat that’s on the Not God-Stuff list. Having an ice cream cone or a Snickers bar now and then doesn’t mean you’re disobeying God! Trying to eat healthy snacks most of the time does mean you’re taking care of that awesome body God gave you, and it keeps you from turning into a couch potato — when there’s so much living to do. In your Talking To God Journal, write about why it might be hard for you to pass up the cookies and chips, even though you know other choices are healthier. God can help.

If you want to make a comment, tell us what one item on the Not-God List you’re going to try to give up. We will cheer you on!

Blessings,

Nancy

Body Image: Comparison

Hi Tribelet!

It’s Asher here again, and today I’ll be bringing you the first post of our new series: Body Image! It’ll run for the rest of March – stay tuned for future posts from Hannah and Nancy.

Let’s dive in!

I don’t know about you, but one of my greatest struggles is comparing myself to others. She’s so much smarter than me. He’s more athletic than I’ll ever be. How come I can’t be a leader in church like she is? The same struggle certainly applies to body image.

In this day and age when we are bombarded with pictures of how we “should” look, whether it be on TV, billboards by the highway or on social media, it’s almost impossible not to notice how we don’t look like that “ideal” girl.

The thing is – that “perfect” girl doesn’t exist. No two people’s perceptions of beauty are the same. For example, in the States, where most of you come from, many people think it’s desirable to have tanned skin. But where I live in China, it’s the opposite – most people consider girls with lighter skin as prettier! There is no real definition for beauty. So why should it define you?

Girl in Mirror Sketch

One that I can be sure about, though, is having a godly character does make you beautiful. Make a mental list of people who are beautiful to you – maybe it’s your mom, who selflessly cares for you and your siblings, or your best friend, who’s always there to make you laugh, or your English teacher, who always compliments her students. It’s unlikely that all of the people on your list would be considered as conventionally gorgeous, but because of the way they treat others, they are beautiful to you.

Girls and Snacks

Okay, so physical beauty shouldn’t define us – having inner beauty is more important. Great! So, how do we stop comparing? Here are a few suggestions:

• Be accepting. God carefully designed you before you existed, and make you look the way you do for a reason. It may be hard, but try to acknowledge that God made you the way you are, imperfections and all. Instead of trying to look like someone else, learn to embrace the way you look!

Be Yourself

• Be busy. Of course, overworking yourself isn’t the idea here! But do invest your time in something you enjoy, whether that’s theatre club, writing in your Talking-To-God Journal, or just talking long bubble baths. You’ll find that your priorities will change quickly – worries about not looking pretty enough are soon replaced by thoughts about your new hobbies. As one of my classmates said, you can’t check if others’ grass is greener if you’re too busy watering your own.

Bubble Bath

• Be kind. We have so many harsh thoughts about our own bodies – my eyebrows aren’t thick enough, my stomach isn’t flat enough, I’m never going to look good enough – but we would never say such things to somebody else! If you struggle particularly with this, write a little contract, promising yourself that you will think and speak about your body as if it were a friend’s. And if you’re in the middle of picking out your flaws, challenge yourself to pick a feature you like for every “flaw”.

• Be careful. Do you fall into a black hole of comparing yourself to other girls when on Instagram? Tend to question your beauty when you’re with your dance class friends, who seem to only talk about makeup and diets? Feel ashamed of yourself when that guy in your Chemistry class picks on your glasses? Get out of these situations if you can! Delete the Instagram app on your phone. Find a new group of friends at dance class. Tell the Chemistry guy his teasing is crossing a line, and if he doesn’t listen, tell the teacher. Your confidence is something to be protected!

Social Media

• Be positive. Along the same lines of be careful, fill your life with things that are uplifting. Were you around during our ‘Whatever’ series? Yeah, the one about the verse “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” So, do choose environments, friends and websites which make you feel satisfied with yourself.

• Be prayerful. Write about your comparison troubles in your Talking-To-God Journal, and keep on reading the Bible regularly (or start a Bible-reading routine if you haven’t already). As you learn more about true inner beauty and just how much God loves you, the need to be pretty enough will fade away. What’s “pretty enough”, anyways? It doesn’t get much more beautiful than spending time with God.

Prayerful Girl

So, if you’d like to comment: how are you going to prevent comparing yourself to others this week? Will you try complimenting yourself, stop going on Instagram for a while or pray about it? Let us know! While you’re at it, share a feature about yourself that you love, physical or not. We know you’re beautiful already!

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Asher