Seven Strategies for Raising Teenagers

It’s official! This morning I became the unprepared but grateful mom of four (yes, that’s 4!) teenagers. My youngest turned 13 today, and my oldest won’t be 20 until June 20. 


I’ve vowed to milk this next 2 months for all the sympathy I can get. :)

One would think that by now I’d have something profound to say about raising teenagers. I don’t. But, I am going to take a stab at passing on a few tips I’ve learned. 

To manage those teen years, you must first of all understand the 

Dichotomy of Teens

An attribute of all teenagers is their dichotomy. You are not imagining things. Your teenager’s behavior IS contradictory, changing from one moment to the next. They are 

  • slobs yet at times obsessive in their tidiness
  • fiercely independent yet incredibly needy
  • lovable but aloof
  • talkative yet strangely silent
  • love sleep but never want to go to bed
  • sure of themselves yet deep-down insecure

It’s nothing you have or haven’t done. It’s part of balancing that delicate stage between childhood and adulthood. Yet it can be unnerving as you try to be a part of your teen’s life.

But take heart, my dear Parent. God gave this child to you because you are the best parent for him. You are the parent he needs.

Strategies To Be an Effective Parent of a Teenager

What I’ve learned…

(1) Never quit praying: This is a difficult time for your child as she tries to discover who she is and what is next. She desperately needs your prayers and needs to KNOW you pray for her. 

(2) Offer increased freedom: Teenagers need freedom to explore and develop their own value system while still under the umbrella of parental guidance. They must take ownership of their faith. Be supportive as they ask those tough questions.

(3) Establish a few firm boundaries: Teenagers want freedom but still need boundaries. As your teen gets older, the rules should focus increasingly around safety and being respectful of the family and others. It’s okay to have a curfew, to be privy to his social media activity, and to require faithful church attendance. But don’t micromanage his life. Give teens space and let them fail. Just be sure to be there to pick them up.

(4) Be flexible: Flexibility with teenagers is important. For example, prom night may be an exception to the curfew rule. If your child has earned your trust, respect that by allowing more freedom. 

(5) Don’t take offense: Your teen will lash out or roll eyes or give you the cold shoulder at times. Address the disrespect issue but don’t overreact. 

(6) Expect participation in the family: Do expect your teenager to attend family events unless there is a good excuse. She still is and always will be a member of your family and have family obligations. Also, encouraging family time further strengthens a forever bond. 

(7) Join your teen’s world a bit: I swore off text messaging, until I realized my teens would actually answer a text. Now it has become an important way of keeping in touch. (Not replacing togetherness, but enhancing communication.)

Raising my teenagers hasn’t been without tears and heartache, and I’m certain there will be more of each. But thanks be to our gracious God, there has also been great joy. 

Through the Lord’s strength and guidance you too can discover the blessing of those teen years. 

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NLT)

Reflection: What tip(s) for raising teenagers have you found the most helpful? What suggestion(s) did I miss? 


Happy 13th birthday, Joey! Your compassion and loving nature fill our lives with joy. We love you! 

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Yours in grace ≈


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Posted in Family, mothers, Parenting, Relationship, Struggles

How To Live as a Redeemed Child

Easter Sunday has once again come and gone. The cross is empty. The passion complete. The Lord is risen!


He is risen indeed, alleluia! 

Now what? How do we live in the aftermath of the resurrection? What does it look like to live as a redeemed child? 

Maybe it’s easier to point to what it doesn’t look like. A redeemed life is not perfect. It is not without trouble. It is not without failure. And one redeemed should not be boastful. 

Living a redeemed live looks like

  • love,
  • joy,
  • contentment,
  • patience,  
  • kindness
  • goodness,
  • faithfulness, 
  • gentleness,
  • and self-control.

It is about living a life of worship to the Lord.

And a redeemed life should not be one lived in silence. [←Tweet this.]

The Lord’s faithfulness and goodness should be proclaimed boldly to all the world. His unending love and grace must be shouted from the mountaintops. 

Why do we keep such good news to ourselves? What are we afraid of? 

Hesitate no longer. In the aftermath of the your resurrection celebration, live as the redeemed child you are.

Declare His glory and majesty to all who have ears to hear. 

 “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD proclaim that He has redeemed them from the hand of the foe and has gathered them from the lands—from the east and the west, from the north and the south.” (Psalm 107:1-3)
Reflection: Do you find yourself a bold herald of the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ or a timid recipient of His grace? 
Linking up again this year with Ann Voskamp’s 2014 Joy Dare. Find the linkup at A Holy Experience. Beginning where I left off in 2013. What a blessing! #2735–2755, read the entire list by clicking here.
  • Hearing the words: “I’m sorry, Mom, for being ornery.”; Rachel’s everpresent hopefulness, even when sick; Truly, the privilege of mothering
  •  A doctor who appreciates her patient; Classic adventures like The Gammage Cup; Full moon shining through the tree tops
  • Purple flowers dotting the yard; Teachers genuinely appreciative of my daughter’s presence in their class; A little bit better
  • End of a long day; Communing at the Lord’s table with my daughter for only the second time; Beginning of the youth re-enactment of the Lord’s Passion at church
  • A safe prairie burn; The crackling of the fire and its echo in the timber; Dying eggs with the kids, this year having fun experimenting with some natural dyes
  • Making (and eating) Resurrection Rolls and doing Resurrection Eggs with the kids; Getting in a little gardening; Clothes drying in the wind
  • Jesus Christ’s defeat of death thru His resurrection; Incredibly moving early morning Easter service by our youth; Spring peepers singing in the night


Yours in grace ≈


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Posted in Multitude Mondays, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Redemption

Mended By the Blood of Jesus

There is a wooden welcome sign that hangs in my kitchen. But several times over the many years I’ve owned it, it lay broken on the floor.

This wooden plaque had been created with infinite care. Human hands spent hours lovingly working the intricate scroll work.  I couldn’t toss it out, no matter how broken. So with a little glue and a lot of careful attention, it continues to hold a prominent place in my kitchen. Welcome_Jesusblood-

Shattered and Broken

We also have been created with infinite care. God lovingly spoke you and me into existence in a breath. And we are intricately created in His likeness. Yet we often lay crumpled in a heap of brokenness like that little sign. 

A shattered and broken item can be difficult to mend. And we are often quick to throw it out. But thank God He doesn’t shy away from the challenge. In fact He embraced our brokenness on the cross. 


If we turn to God, He won’t throw us out, ever. No matter in how many pieces our lives lay shattered, the Lord sweeps them up and painstakingly puts them back together. But not with any over-the-counter adhesive. 

God mends us with the very blood of His Son as the glue. [←Tweet this] And He does it in a manner that makes us far more beautiful then before.

Today, on Good Friday, I can’t help but think of Jesus’ bloodied and battered body hanging on the cross. Jesus Christ allowed His body to be broken so that by His blood you and I are made whole again. [←Tweet this.]

What a terrible, yet wonderful picture to carry into Easter Sunday when we are welcomed into wholeness with the Lord! 

“This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many…” (Mark 14:24)

Reflection: Have you ever mended a special item? Why did you choose to repair it instead of throw it away? How does mending it reflect the cross? 

I’m back this week, linking with Lisa-Jo and 5 minute Friday where a crowd writes uninhibited for 5 minutes (or a few more) on a given topic. It is a wonderful exercise in letting the words flow. Click the button (icon) to check out more posts or consider linking up yourself. Today’s word is: “Glue.”

Five Minute Friday

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Posted in 5 Minute Friday, Easter, Hope, Jesus Christ

Book Review: A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert {and Giveaway}

Don’t miss the Giveaway at the bottom of the post!

I rarely find time to read Christian fiction, but I refuse to miss one of Iowa author Katie Ganshert’s novels. Katie weaves real-life circumstances with biblical truths to create believable and compelling story lines.

A Broken Kind of Beautiful

In her latest novel, A Broken Kind of Beautiful (released April 15), Katie explores many themes through her characters, such as forgiveness, beauty, brokenness, trust, love, and commitment. But it’s the truth of God’s redemption that shines most brightly in this captivating read. I ended the book eagerly wanting more. 

A Broken Kind of Beautiful

In A Broken Kind of Beautiful we follow Ivy Clark, who went from being a rejected and abandoned little girl to a drop-dead gorgeous model at age 14. As a teenager in a fast-paced glamorous world, Ivy learns to use her beauty to her advantage and vows to never be hurt again.

But years later, as a 24 year old, Ivy begins to realize skin-deep beauty is not the kind that lasts. Her world turns upside down, and she grows desperate to right it.  

This desperation forces Ivy to face her painful past once again. She winds up living with Marilyn Olsen, a stepmother she never wanted, and working alongside Davis Knight, a man she doesn’t understand.

Although, I sympathized with Ivy’s plight, it was in the characters of Marilyn, Davis, and his blind sister, Sara, where I noticed reflections of my own life. Each of their struggles, in some sense, parallel those of ours as we strive to make sense of our walk in this broken world. 

As the story unfolds, readers are drawn into Ivy’s emptiness, Davis’ guilt, Marilyn’s heartache, and Sara’s loss. And we see glimpses of our own efforts to trust, forgive, and surrender control. 

A (Our) Story of Redemption

Katie Ganshert masterfully weaves the plot line of A Broken Kind of Beautiful, with veins of God’s truth and grace intersecting with human failings. Through her characters, she wrestles with the tough life issues we all face and gently draws us into a deeper understanding and acceptance of the depth of God’s love and forgiveness. 

But most captivating in this novel is the way Katie gently unwraps and exposes the gift found in brokenness: the beauty of redemption. His love for us rings true in this verse Sara pens for Ivy:

 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)

Jesus Christ bought redemption for us all through His shed blood. But if we’re honest, it’s through our brokenness that we finally become open to the Lord’s redemptive work in our lives. [←Tweet this.]

And that makes for a truly broken kind of beautiful. 

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

 You can purchase Katie’s latest novel at or any of your favorite booksellers. 

And now for a fun giveaway! I love Katie’s books so much I want to give you a chance to read them for yourselves. Just follow the Rafflecopter prompts below for a chance to win Katie’s first two novels, Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows. (Read my review of Wildflowers from Winter by clicking here.) 

Wildflowers from WinterWishing on Willows










a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, Katie is hosting a A Broken Kind of Beautiful Facebook Webcast Party on April 21st, from 6-7pm (CST). Click here to see the Facebook invite. The fun includes 6 prize packages.

Disclosure: I received an Advanced Reader Copy from the author, but was not required to write a positive review.

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Posted in Book review, Brokenness, giveaway, Redemption

A Life You Don’t Want To Miss {Savor Revisited}

This year I set out to savor my days. To embrace and delight in each gift of a new sunrise. 


Imperfect Progress

But it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day (focusing on limitations, monotony, and tough circumstances) and begin to just get by. Going about the days with little passion and purpose.

This isn’t the way any of us are supposed to live. And this isn’t how I purposed to live my life this year. 

In my January 2014 post where I shared more about my One Word, I wrote: “Days unfold. Beckoning, bidding us awake to live a life of glory. A life created with the very breath of God.”

“A life created with the very breath of God. Each of us, in existence because God chose us to be! His very breath made it so. And more compelling, we are made in His image!

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Surely that makes our lives something to behold. Something to embrace with awe and use for His glory. 

Yet how many of us live as something to behold? How many of us live like God-breathed heirs to a King? How many of us are savoring our days and using them to honor that King? 

Savor Forward

Admittedly, savoring each day has not come easy for me. I am not doing it perfectly. There are days I rather wish didn’t exist and others I mindlessly walk through, intent instead on the next one.  

As I reflect back on my progress since declaring 2014 a year to savor, I find I resort to this passionless walk more when I’m stressed, overtired, or have isolated myself from others. So I came up with several specific action items to put in place: 

  1. Get rest – in other words, go to bed!
  2. Fill up with God through His Word and prayer (every day!) as well as worship and song 
  3. Stay connected – relationships enliven our soul
  4. Intentionally record items of  gratitude, each and every day. (Sometimes this is really difficult, but it is critical for refocusing.) 

We aren’t honoring our Creator if we live as if we already have one foot in the grave and are just waiting to fall in the rest of the way. We aren’t honoring Abba Father when we are content to wait out our earthly days with little more intention than a worker ant or bee, mindlessly gathering enough sustenance to just get by each day. 

A Life to Live

No, as long as we have breath, we are to live with passion and purpose, to bring glory to our Lord! [←Tweet this!] To embrace and savor the whole of being alive. To look for ways to bring glory to the Father. 


As Ken Davis poignantly points out in his inspiring video clip: “God isn’t through with you yet. This life is not a waiting room for death.” [←Tweet this.]

So join me: Get out there and savor this life!

To that purpose, I’ll leave you to absorb one of my favorite Psalms, which can’t help but inspire: 

Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.
You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds,
God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.
You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing. (Psalm 65)

Reflections: How are you doing on living with passion and purpose in 2014? If you did chose One Word for this year, has it helped you stay focused?

Linking up again this year with Ann Voskamp’s 2014 Joy Dare. Find the linkup at A Holy Experience. Beginning where I left off in 2013. What a blessing! #2714–2734, read the entire list by clicking here.

  • Joey engaging Rach with basketball–his love and patience for her is a treasure (so grateful this can be said of all my boys); Afternoon hike in a gorgeous preserve with hubby; First butterfly of the year
  • Mom and Dad back from their winter home and close by again; Promise of being reunited with our loved ones for all eternity; Silhouette of geese in the morning light
  • Windows open in the house; Four kittens to enjoy, all different colors; Being told nice things about my boy’s character
  • Finally planting our fledgling weeping willow in its permanent spot; Rach “helping” me dig up parsnips–maybe I’ll make a gardener out of her yet; The moon in the daytime sky–something special about seeing it then
  • Flies in the house (really–it means warmer weather!); Imparting truth and hope into the lives of others; Dan’s fast trip home for Rach’s Confirmation & Zach’s play
  • Vivid lightening show; Hugs from nieces and nephews–grateful to be in their lives; Crazy antics of the youngest and oldest when they get together
  • Rachel’s confirmation of her faith in the Lord and celebrating with many family and friends. Green grass (overnight); Rach’s “drive” to share love


I’m also linking up with Circles of Faith as we revisit our One Words for 2014. 

Yours in grace ≈


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Posted in Blessings, Daily Living, Multitude Mondays, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, One Word

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Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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Inspiring Quotes

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” — Martin Luther King, Jr

One Word 2014

One Word 2014

One Word 2013

One Word 2013