Wednesday, January 28, 2009

girls & self-esteem

today i ran across this article:

and while i agree with the author, for me, as a woman and a youth worker, there's a piece that is neglected.

the author says at the end:

"As we spend time with our kids, we should teach what "self-esteem" truly means and what it doesn't mean. Our girls don't need to try to measure up to an impossible standard that the world has created. We need to remind our girls that God doesn't care about outward appearance- he cares about the heart (I Sam. 16:7). Students need to be careful who they are listening to, what they are watching, and ultimately, what they believe. And it's up to us to help them do that.

In addition, we must help them understand that everybody has problems; it is how we deal with them that makes or breaks us. Low self-esteem is a reality for far too many girls, but they need to be lovingly reminded that everybody faces problems in life. If teenagers learn to handle their problems responsibly, they will soon see that their quality of life drastically improves. If they don't, they can make matters worse. Self-destruction will never be the solution for low self-esteem."

the neglected bit is what kind of culture do we create in our ministries for our girls? as women, what do we model for them? the highlighted bit in the quote above touches on it, but i want to unpack that a little. what i mean by this is:
  • are girls of all shapes and sizes given the opportunity to be up front? whether it's for games, student leadership roles, reading Scripture or whatever?
  • are there women leaders of all ages, shapes and sizes working with the girls in your group?
  • as women leaders, are we talking about this diet, that diet or negatively about our own bodies in front of the girls? or do we talk about nutrition or the things we do like about our bodies?
  • when we compliment girls, are we complimenting their appearance more than their character? or do we notice and compliment their character most?
creating opportunities for girls to serve is important and does help their self-esteem. but they also need us to create ministries that celebrate all girls no matter their appearance, personality or intellect. the world tells girls continuously that they must be smart, thin and gorgeous. but having our youth ministries be places where none of that matters, where girls are loved just as they are, will help girls hear and understand the whisper of God that says "you are my beautiful creation that i love!"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

7th grade girls & relationships

this year i'm working with a small group of 7th grade girls. our group has grown to 16--fortunately, i have 2 co-leaders. as we're approaching february and valentine's day, i wanted to do a series on relationships--friendships and romantic ones both. to get started i pulled some questions from ys's middle school talksheets books and came up with a questionnaire to learn what my girls thinking is around these relationships. here are a few interesting observations:
  • the majority of the girls feel like they can be good friends and would like more friends (11 of 13 and 9 of 13 respectively)
  • only 2 felt their parents should have a say in their choice of friends. 7 were firmly against it and 4 weren't sure.
  • the majority of the girls feel their friends really care about them, like to hang out with them for who they are, and are fun to be with. (11 of 13 on all 3)
  • on the other hand, 11 of 13 think their friends may talk about them behind their backs.
  • all 13 girls believe that guys and girls can be best friends.
  • all 13 girls believe it is okay to date non-christians.
  • 10 of 13 girls think middle school isn't too young to start dating and 7 think middle schoolers can be in love.
there were 4 questions that were situational and the girls had to decide if it was no big deal, a big deal, or it could go either way (maybe). here's the breakdown.
  • you're at a party and people start playing games involving kissing: 6 no big deal; 4 big deal; 3 maybe.
  • you're close friends with a member of the opposite sex and you start liking that person: 7 no big deal; 3 big deal; 3 maybe.
  • you're asked out by a member of the opposite sex: 11 no big deal; 2 big deal (no maybe's here!)
  • you're home alone after school when a close friend of the opposite sex stops by to hang out: 1 no big deal; 7 big deal; 5 maybe.
we're going to have some great discussions over the next few weeks!

52 books: #4 part 1

book 4: plan b further thoughts on faith by anne lamott. 2005, riverhead books. 320 pages.

it's a bummer in a way to be only 4 weeks into this book a week experiment and have fallen slightly behind schedule. i've read 15 of the 24 chapters and likely i'll finish up tomorrow night.
but being a bit behind my self-imposed schedule is worth it. i love reading ms. lamott's writing. she uses words as both music and paint. there is rhythm and rich imagery in her words and i just enjoy taking my time with them. and then there are the thin places. places that her writing touches my soul in ways for which i have no words of my own, only tears. some are joyful tears and some are tears of deep grieving which need to be released.

i'll write more about my overall impressions of the book when i'm finished, but for now, here are a couple favorite quotes:

"when God is going to do something wonderful, He or She always starts with a hardship; when God is going to do something amazing; He or She always starts with an impossibility."

"the usual things helped: some distance, prayer, chocolate."

"if regular people spotted your hidden, angry inside self, they'd draw back when they saw you coming. they would see you for what you are--human, flawed, more nuts than had been hoped--and they would probably not want to hire or date you."

"everyone has been having a hard time with life this year; not with all of it, just the waking hours."

"in fact, i'd like to skip ahead to the resurrection vision of one of the kids in our sunday school, who drew a picture of the easter bunny outside the tomb: everlasting life and a basket full of chocolates. now you're talking."

"age has given me what i was looking for my entire life--it has given me me."

Monday, January 19, 2009

52 books: #3

book 3: waiter rant by steve dublanica aka the waiter. 2008, harper collins. 302 pages.

a co-worker bought this book and i borrowed it from him. it's a book i'd joked about writing when i was a server and worked in the restaurant industry. actually, since my table-waiting days, i've always said that if i ever had one sermon to preach in 'big church', it would be about how church people (not all, but a frighteningly large percentage) walk right out of sunday morning church just to generate hell on earth for those unfortunate servers stuck working the sunday lunch shift. the post-church crowd is known worldwide (i've waited tables in a dozen states plus canada) for being the highest-maintenance, lowest-tipping crowd you ever encounter. not to mention the messiest. but i digress.

this is one of the many food service industry truisms the waiter hits on in his book. while the main storyline certainly revolves around him, the anecdotes on his customers and what happens in restaurant life is spot on. anyone who ever worked in food service will identify with and appreciate this book. and anyone who hasn't but either a) thinks they can be a chef or other food service guru, b) has had a high number of 'bad' service encounters or c) just finds other subcultures of our society interesting will also find this to be a good read.

and for those of you, dear readers, who have found yourself in group b above, the problem might not be your servers. please cut straight to appendix a: how to be a good customer. yes, i said it. the better customer you are, the better service you'll get.

next up: plan b: further thoughts on faith

52 books: #2

book 2: shoe addicts annonymous by beth harbison. 2007, st. martin's press. 327 pages.

this book was a christmas present that i think was meant as a subtle hint--as in if there is such a thing as a shoe addicts anonymous, i should begin attending meetings immediately. seriously, i have shoe issues. currently in my living room i can see 22 pairs of shoes. that doesn't include all the ones behind the couch and in the closet. but i digress.

this is a fun, chick-lit read. centered around four women who, for various reasons, can no longer afford their shoe addictions. they form a meeting based on a mutual shoe size to trade shoes and feed their never ending compulsion for fabulous new shoes. along the way the four who began as strangers find friendship, find more of their identity beyond the shoes, and solve a mystery along the way. and i have to say, that for a self-confessed shoe addict like myself, the ending has the ultimate dream job.

while this little book won't win any literary awards, it's a nice, enjoyable read at the end of a stressful day.

next up: waiter rant

52 books: #1

book 1: she's come undone by wally lamb. 1992 simon & schuster, inc. 465 pages.

this book was a gift from my friend brandi. she's a huge fan of wally lamb's writing. when i told her i hadn't read any of his books, she promptly bought me a copy of this one. at first, i felt like i was rubbernecking at an accident site. i kept reading with a feeling of dread. i could almost hear the type of music played in movies every time something bad or sad happens. ultimately, i ended up being mesmerized by this book. the story of a woman's unbelievably tragic childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, she's come undone's heroine somehow captivates you with her humor and pathos and you just keep reading in hopes something good happens for her.

and regardless of what happens to her, (no spoilers here) lamb's storytelling is engaging enough to keep the pages turning--in my case fairly rapidly--until the end.

next up: shoe addicts annonymous.

52 books-an idea

i'm a book girl. i love to read, i love books. if i'm feeling blue or bored or lonely, a trip to b&n or borders is usually a good pick me up.

but lately, i've been doing more reading that isn't just for work. it's just for me. in the first 2 1/2 weeks of the year, i've read 3 books, which makes me wonder, can i read a book a week? and books that aren't for work?

well, i don't know until i try so i've decided to give it a go. i'll post thoughts about what i've read and a preview of what's next up. here goes...