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Not to long ago, Lindsay Trezza from Just Love Prints posed a question on Facebook. She asked,
What advice would you give your middle school self?
I thought, well, I wrote a whole book to answer that one. But I thought, maybe I should seriously consider this question, shorten my answer from 100 pages … and give the world a peak into the Be Yourself Journal and the motivation behind it.
Being 11, 12, 13 and beyond is etched into my memory and heart in all sorts of ways. It is and was and will always be a difficult age. Some of us struggle more than others, but most of us do not realize how much our peers are experiencing the same growing pains. We tend to learn years later how we had more in common with our peers than not.
But at the same time, there is a beautiful innocence at this age. I remember the questions I had, the music and colors I was attracted to and the dreams I dreamt. As a teacher, I truly enjoyed teaching 9th grade the best. So much hope, purity and joy can be found in most children that age. I have a special place for them in my heart. The Be Yourself Journal is a gift to young girls that age. A tool to help them see the joy and light in their own life and a manual to help them navigate their growing relationship with the Lord. Plus, there are lots of added elements that make it fun and enjoyable.
If I could speak to my middle school self, I would say:
I know you don’t think you are beautiful, but, you are beautiful.
How many times have you heard, “you look just like your mom”? For some reason, you hate hearing it – because you don’t see it. But the truth is, other people do see it. And when you look at your mom, you see a beautiful woman. You might be jealous that her teeth are straighter than yours, but please – minor detail. You’ll get braces, chill with that. Every woman sees flaws in themselves. Happy women don’t focus on them. No matter how gorgeous a woman is, she loses her sight of that beauty when she begins to compare. Models bring themselves down by comparison. Not feeling pretty enough because of envying others will never bring joy and happiness. Know that you are “wonderfully made” and radiate a beauty only you can radiate.
Be grateful for all the little things.
I know you wish for things and pray for things and don’t see the answers you long for, BUT -that breath you just took – that was a gift from God. Thank Him for it. That beautiful Japanese Maple outside on your front lawn, thank God for it. When you’re walking to school and it’s not raining, that God for the nice weather and the time to just “be”. Take those moments to truly thank God for His creation. It doesn’t take much time to say, “Thank you God for ________”. Give God that time and attention. When you are grateful for the little things, joy becomes more common in life. Breathe and thank God he gave you life. I know you think it could be better – but a grateful heart focuses on the good. Gratitude will open the door for joy, peace and happiness.
The only thing you need to worry about is how much you are loving the people closest to you.
You worry about a lot of things. Padre Pio, a great saint, stated simply, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.” The Lord wants you to love – and that simply means, be kind and patient. Be kind and patient with your parents, your siblings, your teammates and your classmates. Mother Teresa once said if we want to bring peace to the world, we should go home and love our families. Give compliments every day. Tell your mom what food you enjoyed at dinner and tell her she did a great job making it! Find something to praise in each of your family members daily. For now, that is your God given mission – to love the people He has placed around you. All the other things that worry you – tell Jesus in a simple prayer. Say, “Dear Jesus I am upset and worried about ______” and then try your best to leave it in His hands. It’s not easy, but do your best. The Lord does not want you to occupy your mind with worries.
Speaking of loving your family, go color with your sister.
First of all, you have a sister – what a beautiful gift to be grateful for! She is a love and she’s six – I bet she has a coloring book. Ask her to color with you. Spend time with her and spend time coloring. Not only will you make your sister happy, you’ll learn to relax a little. Maybe. Try not to abort mission when she asks you to play a board game you hate. Remember, kind and patient – repeat that, “kind and patient”.
Don’t give up.
As your future self, I am happy to say, you do not need me to tell you this. Your perseverance in continuing to play sports when it seemed like “it wasn’t your bag”, your constant dreaming of life getting better and the way you hold onto your faith enables you to flourish, excel and achieve great things. You did this right. Encourage others to do the same.
Be generous with forgiveness
People are going to hurt your feelings. Some of those people are family members. Others are the “popular” students in school and athletes and teammates. Forgive them – even if they are not sorry. There will be times in life when you won’t have to be forgiving someone new or for a new thing every single day. Unfortunately, this time period of your life will make you feel like this is expected often. It’s not fair, but it is what it is. Forgiveness is not just your duty as a Christian, it is also a gift that frees up space in your heart for more joy. Grudges are heavy burdens- don’t carry them. Remember, Jesus forgave those who crucified Him . Ask Him for help when it is difficult. And be generous with forgiving yourself as well.
God made you on purpose and for a purpose.
You were created to fulfill a mission only you can fulfill. Every time you trust the Lord – even when you don’t understand “why???” – you get closer to seeing it. You have no idea right now how important, powerful and influential your example and witness to your faith is – it would blow your mind. Trust me, your effort to do God’s will and be the best version of yourself is not in vain.
When thinking about your life and how to “be yourself” remember: everyone is called to holiness, but our roads look different. We do not all go by the same path. We are called to love. We are called to bring God’s peacefulness to the world.
Dream about your future with hope and keep your heart open.”
Taken from the Saint Spotlight page featuring Saint Katharine Drexel
in the Be Yourself Journal
One day you will look back and see just how your blind obedience was the hand of God:
It’s okay to enjoy life! Embrace imagination, creativity and the talent of others!
Right now you probably have a few favorite songs, a celebrity crush and some dreams and goals. That is great! As long as those things don’t lead you to sin, enjoy! Smiling can be contagious, embrace the talent of others! The people that write the songs you enjoy, the tv shows that make you laugh and the clothes that you’d love to wear are using the talents that God has given them – celebrate it with them. There is more to life than that boy you want to have a crush on you. There is way more to life than feeling popular. Don’t let what you don’t have be a distraction to all that brings joy, peace and inspiration.
Need a letter for your daughter to read, consider Dear Beautiful Girl Trying to Find Herself
Not sure your daughter would journal, here’s some tips: How to Get Your Tech Loving Teen to Prayer Journal
Would you like to view the entire journal? Check it out at Be Yourself: A Journal for Catholic Girls ( scroll down and watch the video at the bottom of the page).
Consider giving the Be Yourself Journal as an Easter gift! Pair it with some fun and inspiring journal supplies. These products from DaySpring are a perfect addition!