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Prayers On Their Pillows

At 13, Julia Straus was going through the usual growing pains of adolescence. But she made an unusual request of her mother, Celia, to write her a prayer.

"So I went down and wrote her a prayer at my computer," recalls Straus. "I continued to do so for a year, put them on her pillow."

The result is a new book, Prayers on My Pillow: Inspiration for Girls on the Threshold of Change. CBS News Correspondent Russ Mitchell reports for CBS This Morning.

"All the prayers are really encouraging," says Julia, who is now 16. "They didn't solve all the problems, but they really helped just to make the day better. They made me feel like I was connected to my mom in some way."

Straus' younger daughter, Emily, adds, "I really like them. I had actually asked for something specific, different from my sister, so that every day I would get a different prayer for the problem that I was having. It really helped meÂ…get through that problem and be able to face the next day with courage."

In the prayers, Straus tried to address such common experiences as going back to school:

"I pray I will be happy
To start another year
As summer ends and summer friends
Begin to disappear.
I pray I will be able
To handle what they ask
Of me in school and yet keep cool
When I can't do the task..."

Cover of the book

She also touches on such topics as peers, confusion, isolation, and communication with family and friends. "Just the common concerns of a young adolescent," she adds.

While the book addresses the concerns of teen-agers, it is also attracting the interest of their mothers.

"I think because there's a time in young teen-agers where any child-parent relationship goes through challenges," says Straus. These prayers are one way to reconnect the bond between girls and their mothers. And also, I think that mothers find it a nice way to communicate indirectly, to let their daughters know that they understand what they're going through."

Julia says she was surprised and gratified by how much her friends like the book.

"I didn't think other girls would like them," she explains. I'd show them to a couple of friends and Emily, and they really seemed to be universal. It was really surprising and nice."

For Emily, the most important message of the prayers is to believe in yourself.

"I think that when you read these prayers, you really know that you really can do anything," she says. "Whatever is bothering you, it will help you get throug whatever problem you're going through."

This winter, Prayers on My Pillow will be released as a CD, with celebrity mothers and daughters reading the prayers. Straus also continues to write prayers as she answers e-mail on her Web site.

Also, a Prayers on My Pillow calendar is coming out for the year 2001.

"As I go through this day, let me be strong.
Let me believe that I belong.
Let me build courage
To face down my fears
And replace them with faith
That I am worth all of my tears..."

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