COLUMBIA — Nationally renowned Christian author Nancy Rue is to visit Columbia's Woodcrest Chapel this weekend to talk about what makes mothers and "tween" girls spiritually unique.
Known for her Christian novel series Faithgirlz, which covers topics such as body image, bullying and coming-of-age issues, Rue relates to tweens, or young girls, with talks about friendships and relationships with parents. She is currently on a book tour called "Beauty of Believing."
What: Nancy Rue's "Beauty of Belief" book tour stop
When: 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday; doors to open at 8:15 a.m.
Where: Woodcrest Chapel, 2201 W. Nifong Blvd.
Cost: Admission is $12 at the door; pre-registration online at faithgirlz.com is $10.
Rue's tour will kick off Mother's Day weekend with a visit to Columbia on Saturday.
This is the first tween girl event hosted at Woodcrest Chapel, and Karen Laughter, family life pastor at the church, said she is hoping for about 200 to 300 people. "I am seeing excitement of the event, especially for middle school girls," Laughter said.
Through her more than 130 novels, Rue demonstrates the best ways for tween girls to develop into Christian young women under today's pressures of body image, friendships, bullying and jealousy. "Old is getting younger. Girls are trying to get older, when they don't really know what it's all about," Rue said. "It's OK to be a little kid. You don't have to grow up."
The characters Lily, Sophia and Lucy all come under the umbrella of Faithgirlz. Although the characters are fictional, they experience concerns with body image, spiritual tests and friendship issues that tweens have today, Rue said. "Faithgirlz is a community. It has all the stuff girls love to have, like book bags, purses and bracelets," Rue said.
Rue said her relationship with her mother is her main inspiration for writing to tween girls. "I am writing everything she did not tell me. I grew up in the '60s and '70s, and times were a lot different. I want something different for them. I want to help find what is unique about the girls," Rue said.
Raised in a Christian community in Jacksonville, Fla., Rue never talked to her parents about growing up or the changes that took place in her body. Rue said her mother "was doing what all mothers did at that time. We didn't have conversations about my period or when to start shaving. My roommate in college actually taught me about sex."
Without any instructions or words of advice, Rue's mother handed her a razor blade and some shaving cream, saying, "I think it's time for you to shave." Rue said that awkward situations such as this still occur between young girls and their mothers. "Moms say, 'I don't know how to talk about those sort of issues with my daughter,'" Rue said.
Not only are Rue's novels written for tween girls, but they also focus on how mothers can communicate and talk about the different circumstances that occur on the playgrounds or at school. "Society is kind of scary. They’re dealing with things that I didn’t deal with as a child," Rue said of her readers. The Healing Fiction is another set of books written by Rue. "They're women books, just showing them it's all a process with God. It's a different level, but the same principles," Rue said. Similar to her tween novels, the characters in these adult fictions deal with the issues that many women deal with today, such as divorce.
Rue encourages tween girls to talk to their parents and older sisters. "It can become a discussion, and decisions can be made together," she said. Instead of dictating the type of clothes tweens choose to wear, Rue suggested that mothers can help find respectful and cute clothes. "This is a time to bring out the dads, too," Rue said, adding that fathers should explain how they saw and felt about girls at that age.
Laughter explained the positive affect that Rue's tour has had on girls today. "This population group (tween girls) has experienced a lot of pressure nowadays. So many girls are traumatized by the 'Mean Girls' type of situations, the drama of eating at the right lunch tables or wearing the right clothes."
Rue said support can come from both relationships and faith. "Friends are huge at this age. You have to have God-confidence. It's not all about you; it really comes from God," she said. Similar to self-confidence, Rue explained that God-confidence is believing in yourself when you follow God.
As a mother, Laughter said she definitely relates to the topics Rue discusses in her books and on tour and blames most of the explicit body images on the mass media. "I think it is more challenging because Facebook, cell phones and instant messaging have grown," Laughter said.
Rue also spoke about the negative images tween girls perceive from magazines. "When you pick up a teen magazine, pictures and ads say, 'Love your body.' But they are all the same ads with the same women. ... That girl represents only 1 percent of girls, but that's the image that they (tweens) see in that article. The younger you are, the more gullible you are; girls are very impressionable today."
For some parents, actress Lindsey Lohan and pop star Britney Spears do not portray the best role models. Rue thanks these celebrity icons because tweens have watched both of them suffer from breakdowns, and it shows their human side. Seeing them break under pressure, young girls will begin to wonder if all that glamour is really worth it, Rue said. Her advice to tweens: "You can be happy when they (celebrities) are not. (Their problems) can work for us instead of against us. I also hope that those girls can heal and live authentic lives."
As part of her speaking tour, Rue tries to meet each girl she encounters and say her name. "I try to make it an intimate classroom," she said. "I like to walk around and learn the new languages."
As an author for young girls, Rue stresses the impact of knowing the up-to-date words and slang of tweens today to relate to them in her novels. Rue explained that one reason she began the "Beauty of Belief" tour is because "the personal touch of meeting face to face was missing."
Along with mother-daughter giveaways, crafts and refreshments, each girl who attends Saturday will receive one free book with Rue's signature.