7 Ways to Help Your Teen Heal from a Broken Heart

7 Ways to Help Your Teen Heal from a Broken Heart

7 Ways to Help Your Teen Heal from a Broken Heart

 

Do you remember which song you had on repeat when you were grieving over your first heart break? Was it one song or a whole album? Lollol! Ugh! Heart breaks are the worst! How do you help your teen in one of the most challenging times of their teen life and still feel sane?

7 Ways to Help Your Teen Heal from a Broken Heart

Now I know most adults would throw themselves out of any room and screech their car down the street once ONE emotional teen walks through the door but if we don’t address their heart issues then someone else will.

That person will have access to their heart, their mind, and eventually whatever else they want.

We are called as parents or anyone who has a teen in their life to be what they need in these moments. These are the moments that count. These are the moments that will either affirm or deny your love for them in their world.

They want to be noticed and they want to know someone cares.

What if I already messed up?

You may be reading this and thinking to yourself, “Man, I really messed this one up. I completely ignore my teen and XYZ happened or is happening.” The key here is to communicate your mistake to them. Apologize for it and move in a healthy direction to help them through this time.

We all go through stuff and have gone through stuff especially with heart break. Isn’t it easier when people help guide you through it? Help support you? I’m sure we all have that one person we turn to during these times. Teenagers are no different. They need someone and that someone can be you.

The advantage to have gone through this stage is we have the gift of knowledge and understanding we can pass down to our teens.

There is life on the other side of this tunnel of grief. However, if we don’t help teens realize this then often times they will never know that life does go on. This lie seeks to isolate our teens and most often has dire consequences.

Here are some steps to help you and your beloved teen along with this journey:

1) Acknowledge it-

There’s nothing worse than walking around your house bleeding and no one cares to notice. Adults tend to think that by ignoring the issue tihs will help it go away when in actuality it will stay around longer if not addressed.

The enemy would love nothing more than to isolate your teen with their feelings with no truth to help separate fact from fiction.

Example:

Lie: “They don’t love you. No one will ever love you.”

Truth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Explain: Even if they feel like no one in the whole world loves them then they must know there is a God in heaven Who does. This must be their foundation and biblical truth for life.

If you don’t acknowledge their hurt, speak truth to their life, then they are left to their own devices and there has been so much tragedy in this.

What if they don’t believe in Jesus Christ?

Still speak God’s truth to them. We never know what kind of spiritual seeds we are planting. God’s truth is ALWAYS God’s truth.

“It is the same with my word. I will send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” (Isa. 55:11)

Acknowledge the hurt, talk about it, and help them heal. For tips on how to talk to your teen, click here.

2) Affirm their feelings-

I remember I had a friend tell their sibling they weren’t in love when their sibling had just finished telling them they were. One thing we don’t want to do is deny their feelings. It’s so easy from our end to say, “You don’t know what love is!” or “It’s just puppy love!” However, it’s denying what they feel which is true to them in that moment.

It is not our job to tell them how to feel but it is part of our job to help them process those feelings they do have.

By denying their feelings, we are reinforcing feelings of being misunderstood.

Teens need to feel understood and it’s okay to be in that heartbroken space with them. Affirm their feelings, apologize for the heart break they are going through, and proceed with wisdom.

3) Let them talk about it-

Sometimes we just want them to forget about it and move on because it’s easy, for us. How many times has that helped us when we were grieving? Heartbreak is a hard process to go through and we never know what kind of dance it will have us performing.

Part of healing is talking, so let them.

Help them process what they are feeling by listening to what they are saying.

Combat lies with truth, encourage, give suggestions, pray, and wash them with scripture. We will only know what’s going on in their mind but listening to them talk. If we silence them every time they open their mouth, we are not acknowledging them or affirming. We are simply ignoring.

4) Distract them-

There is balance in this process too which of course calls for God’s wisdom. We want to affirm, acknowledge, let them talk it out, but we also want to make sure it doesn’t become their WHOLE world because it is not healthy.

How do I know when to step in?

If you find them listening to the same album 30 times in the last 24 hours, are completely 7 Ways to Help Your Teen Heal from a Broken Heartobsessing over it by circling conversation when you’ve provided sound advice, won’t stop calling or trying to get in touch with their ex, take action.

Shut off the music, take away their phone, open the curtains, let fresh air in, and change their environment. Ask them to take a walk with you outside, take them to go get some ice cream, or go watch a funny movie.

The point is to get them out of this heartbroken world and get them focused on something else.

They may fight you on it or scream that you don’t understand. However, you are still the parent and authority in their life. Calmly remind them of their place, your love for them, but also your responsibility over their overall health including mental.

Sometimes a strong word will help bring them back into focus as long as it is done with love and respect.

Distraction is important in showing them how there is life outside of their circumstances. There are still good things even though their heart is breaking. Help them think about the future by dreaming and setting goals. Click here to learn how to help them rock out some goals this year.

5) Let them cry-

Just a heads up, you may end up taking that walk, eating that ice cream, or watching that movie when out of nowhere tears start to well up in their eyes.

Let them cry!

Be proactive and bring tissues with you. Remember, this is a grieving process and everything may seem fine one second and the next second they are sobbing on your lap. It’s okay! I rather they cry than a numb emotionless teen anyway because it means they are processing and healing.

Healing doesn’t always look pretty but it’s so necessary.

Again, there is always a healthy balance we will look for. If your teen has been crying for days on end, this is not healthy. Go back to praying, washing them in the word, and distraction. Ask your community to help you pray because sometimes it can feel too much.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)

One thing we have and can be assured of, is access to the heavenly authorities. God WILL supply everything we need. Just ask.

6) Pray for them-

There is power in prayer! The beautiful mystery behind the power of prayer always leaves me in awe but shows true in many circumstances.

The reality is we are fighting an enemy who wants our teenagers and the younger generation taken out.

We are called not just as parents but also as co-heirs in Christ, warriors for our brothers and sisters in Christ (yes this includes our teens and the younger generation), and as God’s ambassadors to fight in the spiritual realm.

Prayer is our weapon. Use it consistently and confidently!

I have witnessed dozens of teens over the years be set free from addictions, past hurts, sexual sin, cutting, suicidal thoughts, and many other issues that plague our teens and the younger generation today through prayer.

Prayer is vital not just for broken hearts but for any type of brokenness.

Pray! Pray! Pray some more!

7) Remind them of who they are-

Broken hearts are a blow to one’s pride and identity. Teens can make the other person their world and when their world is no longer there they feel incomplete and empty. They question their self-worth, appearance, and who they are. It is here we must remind them of God’s truth.

Their identity comes first in Christ.

This is easier for those teens who do have a relationship with Christ. However, if your teen does not have a relationship with Christ don’t be afraid to point them to Him.

“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)

Our job, not just as parents or whatever title you hold in a teen’s life, is to point them to Jesus Christ. There they will find new life, new hope, strength, and purpose. As a youth leader, I remember when I would try to use my own “wisdom” to help teens deal with issues only to realize the only words that hold significant life changing weight are the ones found in the bible.

So, remind them of who they are and WHOSE they are.

I pray these steps can help you in supporting your teen overcome a broken heart. Broken hearts are no fun for anyone but it is a time where you and your teen can connect or reconnect both with each other and with God. Pour your love into them and even when it feels as if you’re running on empty remember your God will supply all your needs.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philip. 4:19)

Just ask!

 

Baskets of Blessings,

Nina D.

Salt & Light Linkup

7 Ways to Help Your Teen Rock Their Goals This Year

 

7 Ways to Help Your Teen Rock Their Goals This Year

My daughter recently told me a few of her classmates were bragging about their GPA being, 0.8. I almost fell over! She said, “They literally don’t try and want their GPA to be as bad as it can be.” This really made me so sad. It left me wondering, “Why are they giving up on themselves?” Then the most telling question, “Does anyone care about them?”

I remember being a rebellious high school student, mean, angry, and with no vision for my future. I also remember those very few people who tried to speak life into me. A teacher who said, “One day I will see your name in lights!”, a college cheerleading trainer who was the first one to talk to me about going to college and gave me a glimmer of hope, and a cheerleading parent who showed me love regardless of being a pregnant teen.

Even though my life at the time couldn’t get past the immense darkness it was in, I often reflect on those very few people who chose to see more than I could.

Who are you speaking life to?

Or are you doing what everyone else does and reaffirming the negative in a teenager’s life? It’s easy to speak whatever everyone else sees but it takes God’s heart and eyes to see what He sees. “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

Can we be the eyes and mouth of God by speaking life into those teens around us?

Could you be the one voice that creates a sea of voices affirming and speaking life into a teen? Could you be the one voice that will give a teen a glimmer of hope? Your voice can be the voice of God.

Now, let’s get to goals! I’ve done lots of research in marketing recently. I’ve both noticed and heard anyone who is successful has goals in place. You can research it for yourself and you will see goals are an ingredient to success.Goals gives teenagers focus, it gives them direction, and it gives them a blueprint to achieve what God has in store for them. Helping the teen in your life set and reach some goals helps produce HOPE.

Hope is often a product of dreams lived out!

Here are a few tips to help you and your teen both find and achieve goals this year. Yes, I said you and your teen because they will need direction and you never know what you can uncover for yourself:

#1: Pray

Unfortunately, people forget the power of prayer. Your voice and their voice aimed heavenward to the One Who knows exactly what He has for their life is not only wise it’s vital.

Knowing what God wants for their life requires prayer from both you and them.

It gives you insight on how to pray for them but it can also give you affirmation even if you think a certain plan or goal is crazy. God doesn’t work the way we do all the time. Sometimes, it looks more upside down than right-side up. It’s understanding His plan is greater whether we agree or disagree.

Prayer gives strength, wisdom, direction, you name it, prayer provides it. When we create a habit of prayer, they will in turn be trained and learn how to do the same.

#2: Write it down

Write those goals down! Goals, dreams, ideas, scriptures, anything the Lord brings to mind. I’m currently using a “Cultivate What Matters” goal planner myself which helps break everything down. You can find it here. Do it along with your teen and maybe help undercover any dreams you may have!

Keeping a record of goals can help keep a record of growth.

Bring them to art museums if they are an artist. Bring them to college fairs and talk to college recruiters about possible careers. My daughter had no idea what she wanted to do for the rest of her life (it can be difficult for them at this age to think about their whole life) but after talking to a few recruiters she got a pretty good idea of possible career choices and it got her excited.

#3: Be excited!

Excitement means hope, hope brings life. Hope is lost amongst this generation. They are walking around like zombies dead in their insecurities and negative opinions from others. They need life. Excitement helps bring the blood flowing through their dreams again.

The reality is with Jesus we ALWAYS have renewed life which brings hope. He is the very definition of hope. It’s a gift and promise from God. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer.29:11)

Even if you have lost hope, whether in your teen years or in your life in general, then let this be a reminder to you too. Hope is timeless and eternal. It’s offered not just for your teen but for you also.

Teens feed off what is found in their home. If you have no reason to hope, they don’t either.

Get excited about their future and get excited about your future. They have purpose just like you have purpose. I have found many adults are bitter towards the younger generation because of what they themselves couldn’t achieve. Are you alive? Are you breathing? Every breath is a second chance to go for God’s will in your life! Link arms with your teen and get to it!

#4: Build community

We cannot do this life alone.

No, you did not come into this world alone. I’m pretty sure there were doctors, nurse, staff, your Mom, etc. Even if your Mom or Dad left you at a young age, someone still had to take care of you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have survived as a baby. This is not to discredit any hurt you have experienced growing up but to show we cannot live this life alone. This includes your teenager.

Connect with people at your church, college mentors, people in the careers they want, or whoever God puts in your path. Teens need to know people have their back, people believe in them, and they are heard and supported.

I’ve been in the presence where teens have had life spoken into them and the results are miraculous. They not only blossom but in turn they become the voice of life of which life is spoken. I have had many experiences where both my daughter and the teens I have worked with have spoken life back into me. I can’t tell how sweet those words have been.

#5: Start making progress

Progress always helps build and maintain excitement which leads to more hope.

Help them start knocking off some small goals so they can see they are indeed attainable. Point out growth whenever you see it because it’s most likely they won’t. Remember, we are fighting a nasty devil who seeks to keep them imprisoned with beliefs systems like “not good enough”.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:11-12)

Remember who your enemy is, the devil NOT your teenager.

#6: Revisit

Sometimes they are goals that seem unattainable at one level but may be more attainable at another. For instance, let’s say your teenager wants to get a job but struggles with anxiety and feels like they will never be able to hold down a job. Find a Christian counselor or trusted Pastor who can help them deal and be on the path of healing with anxiety.

Helping them find a counselor and deal with issues in the safety and comfort of your home will help set a stable foundation for their future.

Also, working with them during this healing and restoration process will help them see some “unattainable” goals become more real for the taking. This simply means you don’t have to wait for them to be more mentally stable in order to revisit this goal. You can talk to a manager ahead of time and just have a conversation with them about your teen’s struggles and then set up a meeting later with them and your teen just to talk. No pressure! This way they can see and experience the work life without the stress of performing just yet. Maybe take a tour, talk to some workers, the possibilities are endless!

Revisiting goals helps them understand just because it may not be a possibility now doesn’t mean it can’t be later.

#7: Reward

Now I may have a few naysayers jump in here but hear me out. Rewards are from God. Yes, they are Godly! When we are obedient, when we work hard, God blesses, rewards, and loves on us. Can we do the same for our teen?

It doesn’t have to be a brand-new car (although it can be) or hundreds of dollars thrown at their feet (if this is you…please adopt me…loll!). It can be as simple as a movie date with them, a day ski trip with the church, or a book they’ve always wanted to read. Again, the possibilities are endless. Maybe an ice cream cone after the meeting with the manager.

It’s okay to reward your teen.

Some believe teens MUST go through torture or harsh discipline so they can “learn”. They will “learn” alright but not what you’re expecting them to. God is a good God and He wants us to experience some of the amazing things He has created. Like apple pie! Can I get an amen someone?!

Think about it. You work, you get rewarded with money (I know it may not always be the amount you want but somehow you get rewarded). There are several examples of how God rewarded His people in the Word of God. Research it if you feel otherwise. I’m not talking about prosperity gospel either.

Praise God for the Holy Spirit to let us know when our heart is off balance in this area.

I pray you hear what I’m saying. Sometimes a reward can even be a hug, a kiss (remember with the hugs and kisses I’m talking about appropriate, healthy, and Godly affection not sexual abuse), or just affirmation for who they are. A simple, “Good job!” can speak volumes. Surely, we can offer them that. If you can’t, really visit the reason why.

I pray these tips help you and your teen live life the way God intended. Not just wasting away or giving up but leaning into Him and allowing Him to refresh, renew, bring life, resurrect, and connect.

What teen can you speak life into?

Ask God to open your eyes both physically and spiritually to not only see them but speak prophetic words over them. It doesn’t have to be weird either. Just normal conversation about the talents and gifts you see in them or if God has something unique to say to them. Help spread the seeds that can blossom into something beautiful. You never know how you can help save a life.

Make sure to check out:

6 Tips to Help You Talk with Your Teen

How to Survive the Teenage Years: 6 Practical Ways to Help Parents

facebook.com/groups/saltandlightgroup

Baskets of Blessings,

Nina D.

7 Gift Ideas to Help You Shop for Your Teen this Holiday Season

7 Gift Ideas to Help You Shop for Your Teen this Holiday Season

One of the biggest questions I get from my family is, “What does my teenage daughter want as far as Christmas gifts?” Since she’s become a teenager, I’m sure many of you can relate, the gift purgatory has risen to great heights waiting in closets and floors to be re-gifted the following year to whoever is “blessed” enough to get them.

She is a toss-up of “I’m too old for that” with a dash of “I want the cute little gifts the littles get because it brings out the 5-year-old in me” kind of gift receiver. How can anyone possibly understand what to buy for a teenager without feeling the bland seemingly non-sentimental gift of a gift certificate but also avoiding the remorse of your gift you really thought they would loveeeee possibly being re-gifted next year?

Now, you may also be wondering where has the meaning of Christmas gone and how come they can’t just be happy with you get them because gifts shouldn’t be the focus anyway?

Well, I’m going to challenge you to step back from yourself for a minute and take them into consideration. I hear what you are saying but wouldn’t you want them to truly light up and actually love the gift you get them?

Think about yourself for a second. You know you have received your fair share of “I can’t believe they got me this” moments. For instance, one year in the first year of my marriage I was going through a major conflict with my in-laws (we were living with them…I know I know…mistake number one!) and Christmas rolls around where I put my best face forward and tried to put any signs of duress underneath the Christmas tree skirt. However, it didn’t stay there for long. My husband gives me my first gift and at the time I didn’t know it was him who got it for me because we did a Secret Santa.

I opened up the package only to find a book called, “Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense.” I was mortified. To me it was a big finger pointing in my direction basically saying I was the problem.

Now this book ended up being a really good book (when I finally read it two years later). However, let’s just say it was wrong timing especially in front of the very in-laws whom I was having issues with. I felt sort of better when I found out it was my hubby who bought it but the damage was done and Christmas was ruined that year. I’m sure we may all have a story like this or have witnessed this happen.

All of this to say, when you get gifts that don’t suit you at all you or speak to a place of hurt you end up completely feeling misunderstood, sometimes to the point of being insulted. With teenagers, this is a commonplace thing because they deal with it in many areas of their life.

Why enforce this feeling that seeks to isolate them more from the gift giver instead of what I hope we all want and that is to bring them closer?

Yes, Christmas should focus on the true meaning of Who our Lord and Savior is but if gift giving is a part of your Christmas celebration then why not do it with the intention of giving something they truly want and love. Especially because with gift giving there happens to be all the other emotional connection we may never have thought of, like feeling misunderstood, ignored, or favoritism to siblings, etc.

Will we always get it right? No, but that’s okay because at least we can walk away knowing we tried our best and didn’t come at it half-heartedly. Here are just a few gift ideas to help you in this process:

1) Wish lists

Yes, it’s that simple. Just ask them what they want. I will have my daughter give me a list of what she wants and I get the control of picking what I’m going to give her.

Tip: Get what’s on the list, including the brand name, and not something that is similar to the item but less expensive. Otherwise, it might end up in the purgatory pile. Either get exactly what it is or not at all.

Now you may be worrying about your budget and the challenge to afford big ticket items. If that’s the case, then give them a dollar amount. For instance, give them notice ahead of time that they have a $50 limit so they aren’t surprised or disappointed when you look over their list and ask them to change it.

Also, remind them different products and wish items cost different amounts. This way if their sibling got 5 things and they only got 1 thing but they all add up to the same amount then they can’t upset thinking the other sibling is favored. Remind them because most teens haven’t started shopping yet so they might not understand this concept.

Companies like Amazon.com give customers the option to set up wish lists so people can buy from there. I’ve seen so many articles on how this is frowned upon but really? There are a lot of other things to worry about in this world and if this can help you then why not?! Who doesn’t love a wish list? Also, remind them to make sure their Amazon.com or another website wish list is up to date so you don’t get something they already have but left it on the wish list.

2) Gift certificates

Now I know gift certificates may seem really impersonal but when used correctly they are pretty awesome.

Tip: Wait until they want something to use it. Don’t force them to use it because they have it. At this point, almost all gift certificates don’t have an expiration date, unless otherwise stated, so it can be a real-life saver when something does pop up.

I know they get a bad rep but they can definitely be a great gift for teens. A lot of the times teens have been keeping their eye on something all year and with the help of a gift certificate along with money they may have been saving they can finally get whatever that item is.

Ask them where they shop or what are their favorite stores are (sometimes they have a favorite store but it might be out of their budget so they don’t shop there but it doesn’t mean they don’t want to) and get one from there.

If you want to make it more personal, ask them to send you a picture with the gift they chose so you can take part in the excitement of it or offer to take them to the store to go buy it.

If you are lead while at the store, you can chip in for tax or add something else to the cart. Gift certificates don’t have to be impersonal. These are definitely ways to help keep it personal.

3) Experiences

Teens are often so bogged down with homework and other school activities they may not get a chance to go out and enjoy themselves. People in general are pulling away from materialistic items and are now more focused on having experiences.

By giving them an experience, you can be rest assured it’s something that will help add to their character and growth as a person.

Tip: Of course, this should be healthy, Godly, and appropriate experiences. You want to add to their life not take away or possibly traumatize them (strip clubs, drug driven raves or concerts, etc., be present and do research so you know what you are agreeing to…unfortunately, some people do think some of these things are a “passage” into adulthood or think it’s cool to help them take part in these things…stop it!).

For instance, we happen to live about 40 minutes from NYC and from the time my daughter was 7 years old tickets to a Broadway Show has been either a Christmas or birthday gift. Either her grandparents or my husband and I will keep an ear out for one that interests and then go buy tickets. It’s one of our favorite gifts because it’s something we can experience together and we have memories for a lifetime.

This will look differently for everyone because we all have our different interests.

Maybe a rock concert, sports event, or specific vacation they’ve always wanted. Also, we will usually get a babysitter for the littles and take our teenager out for one on one time with Broadway shows or something that’s not as appropriate for the little ones.

Everyone’s situation is different financially or otherwise but ask God for a way to make something special for your teen happen this year in the form of an experience.

This also helps initiate conversation about your teen’s interests. When they know you are interested in what they like, it helps build a bridge from their world to yours.

4) Activities

This is kind of similar to experiences except that you might not necessarily be a part of it directly or it’s something that runs an extended period of time like sports or a dance class.

For example, this past year we asked people to get our middle daughter either clothes or a donation to a summer baking camp for her birthday. People responded enthusiastically and were more than willing to donate. We ended up only paying for half of the camp and the response we got from our middle daughter was so sweet. It was something she could look forward to and it was awesome to witness how friends and family members were genuinely excited to help her experience one of her favorite activities. This can be the same with teenagers.

Activities, especially when there are a number of kids, can get expensive.

Maybe they are really into science and always wanted to go to a summer camp or college hosted specialized event. They might be into makeup and would love to go to a makeup enthusiast trade show or pay for makeup classes at a makeup studio.

It will help get them out into the world. They can get a better idea of their skills and interests while also opening up opportunities for their future. Also, they can add these experiences to their resumes when they first start working giving them an upper hand into the work force.

5) Food gift certificates

Who doesn’t love to eat?! Teens are definitely known to be foodies (people who love to eat…I connect with them in this way…loll!). We know they eat like every fifteen minutes. Even with those teens who don’t seem to eat at all, they can still be pretty particular about what they consume. Sushi gets to be expensive! Plus, vegan and healthy eating are on the rise especially with millennials so maybe a gift certificate to their favorite health food store would help either their parent’s or their own wallet.

Getting them gift certificates to Starbucks or to their favorite restaurant is definitely one way to their heart.

For generations, eating together has been a way to connect with one another. Use it as an opportunity to connect with them. Offer to pick them up and take them out to eat or for a latte.

Tip: I would offer to hang out with JUST them for now because sometimes it’s good to have separate time alone without a bunch of friends tagging along. It gives them the opportunity to open and talk about issues they may feel too self-conscious about or may not trust their friends fully to do it around them. [Again, this is to build a foundation for healthy, Godly, and appropriate friendship with the teen in your life]

Connecting with you on this level will help add to their community and support system of people they trust if they feel like they have no one to talk to which can be another gift in itself.

Food is just the means to get together. Hopefully, the gain is not just in the pounds from an amazing meal but a fullness in community and Christ driven conversation.

6) Personalize something

Now I know you may be thinking this may end up being one of the items that end up in the closet somewhere but I’ve noticed when a gift is given that has either been hand-made or personalized in some way it’s the presentation that matters. This means an explanation of how it was made and why it was made a certain way is important.

Stories behind personalized items gives it significance and a reason to make it special.

For instance, if you make a t-shirt blanket let them know it can be held onto for college so when they are homesick they have a piece of home and fond memories to hold onto. If it’s a mug with their name on it, make sure you add a personal message like, “I pray the warmth of this drink will remind you of my love for you!”

Tell them how special they are and all the POSITIVE thoughts you thought about them while making it. It’s something they will definitely reflect on later.

A photo album with fun memories, a journal bible signed by her friends and family, an ornament dedicated to them, anything with hand writing or personalized with their name makes it unique to them. Therefore, it will be less likely they will want to get rid of it.

7) Jesus inspired-

This is something I will always add on top of whatever else I buy. By adding something Jesus inspired, it gives me a chance to point back to Christ especially during this season. It may not be something they necessarily want but you never know when it will come in handy. Usually, I choose something in the form of a book with a theme directed to what I believe my daughter is dealing with at the time.

I firmly believe in finding items to help speak life and God’s truth into them through the voices and motivation behind the Christ inspired creators.

This could also be in the form of Christian summer camps, journal bible, going to a concert of their favorite Christian band, iTunes gift card dedicated specifically for a worship album, or a seminar with their favorite Christian speakers. This may be a good time to invite one or two friends to join in the experience.

Pray about it and allow God lead you to the right gift even if it doesn’t make sense to you. He works in mysterious ways.

Regardless of how you choose to add Christ to the gifts under the tree, I pray it will be a blessing to your home and produce seeds that will multiply a hundredfold.

 

I pray this helps you on your journey for finding a special gift for your teen and that you will find an amazing gift for them. It’s seems easier with the littles because usually they enjoy whatever it is you give them but we can’t give up on our older ones. We must remember teens are going through a lot more than we sometimes know and it may not be about the gift at all but the feeling behind it or the hidden message the enemy is trying to add to the wrapping.

Again, are we always going to get it right? No, but at least we know we tried and we can always ask how to make it better for the next time.

Let them know you are learning who they are because it is the first time you are parenting them specifically and who they are in this season of their life. They are important and you want them to genuinely enjoy what’s bought for them. Ask for and in return show grace in the process of it all.

Baskets of Blessings,

Nina D.

 

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8 Things NOT to do to Your Teen this Holiday Season

Thanksgiving and Christmas are here and I’m sure there are many family events to be had if they haven’t happened already. They can either bring extreme amounts of joy as the family gathers or extreme anxiety depending on history. Either way, there are some definite “not to dos” when it comes to interacting with your teenager around family members and friends.

I remember being a teen and either having these things happen to me or watching it happen to my friends. Even now in my adulthood, I’ve witnessed countless interactions between parent and child that set my teeth on edge. It’s hard to watch the shoulders of a teenager slump and their spirit be destroyed in a matter of seconds just by the power of someone’s words.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Prov. 18:21)

I want you and your family to eat good fruits. To be a representation of Christ’s love and affirmation to everyone who is a witness regardless if they agree or not. Be prepared to defend your family and your choices as a parent especially if you didn’t grow up Christian. Stand confident on what you decide as a family and the way you all treat each other. Remember, your teenager was also made in the image of Christ. People aren’t just watching, heaven is too.

Here are some things NOT to do when visiting with family and friends while interacting with your teenager (this just doesn’t have to be for the holidays either but also in general)

1) Embarrass them-

Now I know a lot of families like to joke around and roast each other. Our family is definitely one of those. I’m not saying not to have a good time but be aware of the direction the conversation is going and take cues from your teenager. One of the many signs you are embarrassing them is when they say, “Stop.”

Plain and simple.

Apologize and then shift the conversation. Embarrassing them may seem like a fun way to get attention but you are losing your teen’s trust. We are called to protect them and this includes their ability to feel comfortable and safe in your presence including when there’s an audience. They have many vulnerabilities, let’s not point them out. The enemy is already doing that on a full time basis.

2) Name call-

Aside from terms of endearment, calling your teenager names is completely unacceptable. Again, they were made in the image of Christ and even when YOU have messed up a thousand times God still calls you by your identity in Him not by the shadows of your mistakes. We are called to do the same.

It’s not only abusive but it sets the tone for how they think of themselves. I remember being at a birthday party my daughter was invited to and a father of one of the teens there proceeded to call her, “Sasquatch and Big Foot” and talked about her weight. Immediately, she looked at me embarrassed and told him to stop. If that didn’t stop him, my death stare definitely did. We wonder why so many teens are dying from eating disorders, severe depression, etc.

Words are powerful. It can either save them from the pit or push them deeper into it.

Also, don’t be afraid to speak up for a teen. I have zero shame setting someone straight and defending a teen. Adults usually won’t listen to a teen but when confronted with truth from another parent or adult they may feel the heat from an unsupportive audience and hopefully change their tone.

3) Talk bad about them-

This may seem like name calling but this includes having conversations with relatives about how badly they are doing or what you don’t like about them. It could be about their school grades, how they act just like their father, the new boyfriend you don’t like, or their friends. Everything negatively attached to them is a reflection of who they are or who you think they are. They will take offense.

Even if you think they are not listening, I promise you they are.

I don’t care if they are in another room playing video games, headphones on with a hoodie pulled over, or outside with cousins. The enemy has a strategic way of allowing dishonoring talk to enter into your teenager’s ears. Either they were already listening or the “perfect” moment happens when they catch your words, and they will be crushed.

Your teen needs to overhear you talking great and amazing things about them.

There’s something about the idea of “overhearing” someone talk amazing things about you behind your back that makes their words feel more genuine. They will walk around with a straighter back. Confidence is often shown in posture.

We all need support and a place to vent our frustrations but we need to set a special time for that. In a coffeehouse, your best friend’s home, a phone call while they are at school, the point is to set a time where you know they will not be around and the threat of them hearing isn’t there.

4) Put them in uncomfortable positions-

Now with the holidays, you may be staying over at a family’s or friend’s house due to distance or tradition. Listen to your teenager and make the call especially when something seems off. Even if it feels awkward, find the best means to communicate you and your family’s wishes for accommodations. For instance, I always feel better writing so I will either write or email if I’m feeling uncomfortable with a certain detail.

Talk about sleeping arrangements ahead of time so you can check in with your teenager to make sure they feel comfortable with them.

This way it’s not a surprise to anyone and they can communicate how they truly feel in the safety of your home without the fear of hurting someone’s feelings or being forced to stay somewhere they aren’t comfortable with. We are still called to protect them. Feel free to ask questions. Unfortunately, many sexual abuse cases have happened and are more common with family and family friends. You don’t want to continually put them in a compromising situation where they are accessible.

5) Forget them-

So many times, you will see a teenager standing awkwardly in the corner while adults are deep into conversation and younger siblings are playing with younger cousins. Include them in conversation. I’m blessed to have people in my teenager’s life who care and want to hear about her life. They make it a point to ask her questions, lead her into deep theological discussion, and help bring reflection into where she is at life. She has always been the older one with siblings and cousins so when a person goes out of their way to include her it is definitely noted.

Also, everyone’s situation is different but if you can don’t sit them at the kids table unless they have cousins their age who they can converse with or they are absolutely in love with younger kids in general. I’ve seen some teens who love taking care of the littles and want to be with them. Otherwise, include them in conversation. Allow the older generation to speak life into them. Allow them to be educated by healthy strong men and women. Again, these kinds of people may not exist in your family so you might want to keep them away but check in with your teen throughout any holiday event so they feel seen.

Never be afraid to ask your teen what they are comfortable with. They have opinions and they matter. Just because you had to deal with certain stuff doesn’t mean they have to also.

6) Threaten them with violence-

There have been many times where I’ve witnessed parents threaten violence on their teens during family events. I come from a cultural background where it’s like a badge of honor to do this. I’ve heard things like, “Talk one more time and I’ll punch you in the face…” “Do you want me to beat you in front of everyone?” I was in an abusive relationship where this type of language was used and it’s so hurtful and embarrassing. All eyes are on you waiting for something to happen. What kind of love is that?

God does not call us to mean, He calls us to be just.

Now I’m not saying, “Don’t discipline them.” I’m saying don’t abuse your power over someone you are supposed to love and protect.

When talking to my teen about these “not to dos”, she added, “not to threaten violence even if it’s just playing around.” You never know how the person is going to take it. As men and women of God, we want people to experience God’s peace in your presence. The world threatens them with enough violence.

7) Lose family dynamic-

Now people may or may not agree with me but I do believe in setting standards for your family especially with holidays and special events. Celebrating holidays helps create memories and bonding. I’m not opposed to other people coming to your home to experience a safe and Godly environment but I am opposed to allowing teenagers to celebrate outside the home away from their nuclear family. This is especially when teenagers start dating and they want to celebrate with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Unless your teenager is engaged, then there is no reason for them to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with someone who may just be around for a few months. Plus, you don’t know what they allow in their homes including Christians! Unfortunately, closed and locked bedrooms doors are common in homes with teenagers.

The reality this day and age is that parents aren’t always off and there are few opportunities for dinners together. Obviously, some parents do have to work during the holidays or some nuclear families are toxic and abusive. However, if you’re just allowing your son or daughter to celebrate somewhere else because “they’re a teenager” then you are robbing everyone of time that is quite limited and crucial in creating bonds that can last a lifetime.

8) Discipline them with an audience-

Anytime discipline happens, if at all possible, bring it outside of the audience at hand. Just like you don’t correct your spouse in front of people, it’s the same with your teenager.  The only exception I would say is if there is a severe show of disrespect and it needs to be corrected immediately like cursing out a family member at the dinner table.

Removing them from an audience will help ensure you have their undivided attention and your relationship with your teen won’t be compromised to the expectations of others.

Take them outside or into another room where you are able to have a conversation and correct them there. Use words like, “Help me understand…” and ask, “Why did you do that?” Sometimes we are so quick to shut teenagers down that we don’t give the opportunity to explain themselves. Let them vent, give them time with support, and if apologies are needed then seek it at a time where not everyone is present. Bring in only those who are necessary to bring in but creating drama where everyone is a witness will severely damage your relationship.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ (Matt. 18:15-16)

It should go without saying that beating, hitting, cursing at, threatening, is an unhealthy way to discipline your teenager. It will only add fuel to the fire and may be a reason why they are acting out to begin with.

They have to learn to express themselves without the threat of violence. Otherwise, their body will learn to respond from adrenaline rather than a place of calm and rationality. I’m speaking from the ghost of the teenager I was, where communication and violence were one in the same. Save your teenager from future job loss, divorce, and repeated offenses against your grandchildren by giving them the space to learn how to communicate now.

Obviously, these are not perfect, everyone’s situation is going to be unique but I pray these are guidelines you can step back and reflect on. Teenagers are people. They are the next generation. What are we passing on? What generational habits and curses do we want to stop? If we are not allowing our teenager to be a person, ask yourself why. If you need help, ask. Talk to your Youth Pastor, parents, teachers, and trusted people around you for advice and direction. Allow them to speak honestly without offense. It does take a village to raise a child and you have the ability and the resource in Jesus Christ to give them a great one.

I pray the Lord will protect you and your family as you figure out how to best create beautiful holiday memories with every member of your family including your amazing teen. In His Name, Jesus Christ, amen!

 

Baskets of Blessings,

Nina Daugherty

 

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6 Tips to Help You Talk with Your Teen


One of the many reoccurring issues I hear with parents are the “pains” and struggles on how to communicate with their teen. Whether it’s with big issues or just simply having a normal conversation, parents or any adult with a teen in their life feel like they can’t connect with this generation at all. The sad part is, people just stop trying. Teenagers end up for the most part getting ignored. Unfortunately, this leaves a whole generation getting lead by the wrong influences and desperate to be heard.

Now I have to say this because this is the internet and I don’t know who is reading this but this is in the context of having a healthy and appropriate relationship with teens.

Teens are in an interesting place and it’s what I call “teen purgatory”. They aren’t exactly a child anymore and many people don’t consider them an adult so people don’t know how to treat them.

Let me make it easy for you, treat them with the respect of an adult but with the filter of a child.

This simply means watch what you say around them because they are still very much influenced and if you’re think they’re not listening, you’re wrong. They most definitely are!

The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.” (Psalm 119:130)

So, what do you do? Where do you start? Here are a few TEEN APPROVED tips (I checked with some teens in my life) to help get the conversation started and hopefully be the start of an amazing relationship with the teens around you:

1) Timing is everything.

When it comes to having a conversation with anyone, timing is everything. Usually I have found right after school is a great time to talk, right before bedtime, or in the car. If you are a friend, Youth Pastor or Youth Leader, then of course the times you meet will be the best or setting up a coffee date. The whens and the wheres are going to look different for everyone.

Keep an eye out and take note for when your teen seems the most open to talk. They are definitely those windows of opportunity so grab hold of them.

Also, be on the lookout for when it’s not a good time to talk. Now you may be thinking or feeling like, “Well that’s all the time!” and this may or may not be the case but the reality is everyone has off moments and we learn to steer clear of them. Teens are no different. Remember, it’s okay if there are times where your teen needs a moment. My own teen daughter will let me know, “Mom, now is not a good time…just give me a few minutes.” Give them that time but schedule a time for later so this doesn’t become a habit to just get you away.

2) Create space for communication.

In the world of technology and how it is today, we can all get lost in our phones or computers.

By creating a space for communication by eliminating distractions can help everyone focus in on each other and give each other space for natural conversation to ensue.

Even playing a board game together, is more effective than sitting with everyone on their phones. It allows everyone to get to know each other on a fun competitive level and creates memories for years to come.

Tip within a tip: Teens still love to play board games.

Another option is to have family meetings where everyone can come with their concerns and talk about what’s going on. This allows a safe sounding board where they feel comfortable in saying what’s been on their mind. For instance, in our house we have kids in all different stages so my teenager may feel neglected and this is the space where she can say so. This allows us to make it more of a point to include her or set aside more time for her during the week. I suggest a weekly family meeting because as time goes on they will experience the safety and trust in that space allowing them to open up more and more.

Tip within a tip: If you title sharing concerns as “prayer requests” I have found teens are more open to share because it supernaturally releases the burden into the hands of an Almighty King.

3) Give compliments or suggestions not insults.

Oftentimes as parents, we are so consumed with the “work” of parenting that we forget they are a person who has feelings and insecurities. Try having a conversation where you aren’t nit picking what they are doing or asking them about certain areas on their body they are having teen issues with. Who wants to have a conversation with someone who constantly points out what’s wrong with them?! I know I don’t! Allow them to come as they are and be free in your presence.

Tip within a tip: Suggest when they ask. For instance, if they are having skin issues, wait for them to come to you for help and then give them your advice.

Side Note: This doesn’t include situations that are a harm to them or others. Obviously, if you notice your teen hasn’t been eating or are severely depressed then we are called to step in and say something. As always, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.

Also, we can provide information without being rude.

For instance, if my daughter would attempt to walk out of the house with a see-through shirt on I would say, “If you want to wear that shirt, you need to put a tank top underneath it because I don’t know if you know this (give them the benefit of the doubt) but I can see through your shirt.” She honestly may not know. Sometimes even as a woman now, I may not know my shirt is see through unless it’s in a certain light. However, if our aim is to just insult, embarrass, or harass our teen, then we close the door to healthy communication.

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Rom. 12:10)

Also, compliment! One of the fastest way to a teen’s heart is to compliment. If you like their sneakers, say so. If you like the color of their hair, say so! They have so many insecurities that when you point out great things about them you can literally see them soften and lighten up around you. Fluff their feathers! The world is so busy trying to pluck them out.

4) Small things matter.

Big conversations happen through the small ones.

Adults want to avoid teenage “drama” at all costs. However, what people don’t realize is when they can trust you with their “drama” then they can trust you with more sensitive issues.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much..” (Luke 16:10)

Also, stop considering it drama. Think of it as little windows into their life that they are allowing you in to. Take advantage because if they notice you don’t care or are annoyed with it, they will close that door and move on.

5) Create a daily check-in.

With teenagers, the more consistent you are the more they believe you care. Now I know our first instinct is to say, “Well they should know I care! Don’t they see everything I do for them?!” Unfortunately, they may not. Teenagers are bullied in various degrees, hold tight to deep insecurities, and have to deal with the world telling them everything they are not. They can be so consumed with these things that it can be hard to see or experience the care you are providing to them.

All of this to say, check in with them every single day. Call, text, Facetime, sit down on their bed, and have a conversation. Even though technology can definitely have its negative attributes, there is an upside to it and that’s being able to communicate with your teen from pretty much anywhere. Whether it’s your lunch break, you are overseas, on the way home from work (obviously don’t text and drive), you can find or purposefully make a window where you can peer into your teenager’s heart and show them you are there.

6) Speak with respect and a filter.

Like I said in the beginning, you want to talk to your teen with respect yet with the filter of a child. Teens are to be treated with respect.

Ask yourself, “If I approached my boss, spouse, or best friend the way I approach my teen, would they be okay with the way I speak to them?”

If the answer is “NO”, then change the way you talk. Teens are no different.

Unfortunately, in many cultures talking down to your teen encourages respect and affirmation from other adults. At what cost?! Your teen diving deep into depression and drugs to heal from hurtful words from a source (YOU) that is supposed to love them unconditionally?

Another thing is that adults make the mistake of making crude sexually explicit jokes, cursing, or attempt to connect in all the wrong ways. This is where the filter of a child comes in. Don’t start dropping F-bombs while conversing with a teen because you think it’s cool. Talk to them like you would if Jesus was standing right next to you. The reality is they will cringe at your words and steer clear of awkward conversation at all costs.

Communication can make or break any relationship. It’s our duty and calling to work at it even if we never had the best example.

Our love for Jesus Christ and His work done on the cross eliminates all excuses for not having the right resource to do so.

He is our Ultimate Resource and when we ask for help, you better believe He will show up and show off in you and your teen’s life.

I pray these tips will help close the gap between you and the next generation. We are called to do community together and in my experience, I know teens are longing to have healthy loving examples of what it’s like to walk this Christian life out in love, family, and everyday life.

Be the person you needed when you were young to a teen in your life.

Baskets of Blessings,

Nina D.

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How to Survive the Teenage Years: 6 Practical Ways to Help Parents

 

I typed into the Google search bar, “How to survive te…” and waited to see what would pop up. Does anyone else do this? Anyway, I noticed amongst “How to survive terrorist attack, teething, terrible twos…” within the top 10 searches there was, “teenage years and teaching high school.” Wow! Right there with terrorist attacks and teething?! Clearly being a teen and dealing with a teen is a popular concern for many. However, it doesn’t have to be.

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds…” (James 3:17)

As someone who has worked with teenagers for 11 years as a volunteer (yes I did not get paid for this) at my church’s Youth Group and a Mom of a teenager for almost 4 years now, I can tell you that the teenage years can in fact not only be survivable but it can be enjoyable too. So how does one achieve such a mighty task? Here are a few practical ways to help you survive teenagehood (yes I made that word up unless it’s already in existence somewhere…loll!):

1) Get your mind right!

If you enter the teenage years trembling in your pants or with a negative outlook, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s like with ANYTHING! I remember a Youth Pastor exclaiming his woes when his then toddler would become a teenager. A Youth Pastor! I told him, “Out of all people, you have the skills already in dealing with teens. Take those skills and use it in your home!”

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philip. 4:8)

If you are already dreading the teen years and are looking at your blossoming child like a mosquito bite waiting to happen, then you will have a difficult time. Walk into this season with authority God gave you! Look at the teenage years in the face and say, “We are going to get through this together, we are going to not only love it but like it, AND we are going to have fun!”

Get your mind right!

2) Incorporate your village.

Yes, it takes a village to raise a child and I happen to love mine. Create a support system of people who will help speak life not just into you but also into your teen. There are both men and women in my teen’s life who are honorable and rooted in the Word of God to help listen and lead her. If you don’t like your village, change it, put boundaries, and ask God for guidance in all matters.

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Prov. 11:14)

Talk, discuss, and listen to what others have to say about what they see in your teen and how to help them. This is not a time to be offended but to open your heart and eyes to experience something you might not otherwise know.

A teenager needs many avenues to which she can run in case you are not available for whatever reason.

3) Prepare yourself or reinvent your teen skills.

It’s never too early to start loving your teen. Even before they hit the teen years, everything you do now will help set the foundation for when it comes. They will have to battle a lot of lies so this is necessary in setting them up early for success (for more info on what those lies sound like, click here).

What does that mean?

Talk to your kids now! Discipline your kids now! People think it’s cute when toddlers are cursing or twerking but then can’t handle it when they are a teen because it means something now. Well, it meant something back then too!

It created the space for sin to do what it does best, “hide” and then multiply.

I don’t have to worry about my daughter walking out the house with her shorts being too short or her stomach hanging out. Why? When she was five years old she had shorts under her dresses and I taught her how to layer her clothes. She’s one of the most fashionable people I know but she’s modest at the same time.

Is it too late for me?

Many parents of older teens ask this question and the answer depends on your situation meaning they may not be a part of your life in whatever aspect. However, I believe if your teen is still living under your house or if you have the option to be someone a teen in your influence needs, then the answer is NO! It’s not too late but it may require some work and that’s okay because they are worth it.

4) Give them purpose.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11)

They have purpose! Help them find it. Go to college fairs, volunteer at various events, send them to church youth retreats, set them up with people in your village in various careers to help answer questions, and talk about their interests.

Teens get in trouble because they have no sense of direction or purpose. Take them outside of their environment, especially if it’s a troubled neighborhood, and show them there’s a bigger world than they ever imagined!

When you give them space and opportunities to help them find their purpose, you give them reason to make Godly and wise decisions.

God HAS a plan for them. Help them find it and you’ll have a smoother teen year ride. For more tips on how to do this, click here.

5) Pay attention to their friends.

From the very beginning of your kids making friends until as long as necessary, filter, filter, filter! Every household is going to be different as far as how intimate your ministry with teens will be. In my house, I remember having to tell my daughter, “I’m in the ministry of teens but you come first so if I find someone to be a bad influence then I will not have them in my house.” This can look different to many people and some people may disagree with me. However, if a teen is in my house, wants to test my rules, become disrespectful, and cause disruption in my home and relationship with my daughter, then they are not welcomed. I have to release them to God and remember my home is my first ministry.

“Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Friends can be a tricky situation especially considering they are with them at school for a good amount of time. But, God! He will reveal, direct, show you, and guide everyone in ANY matter. So bring it before God, constantly, and ask for direction! This leads me to the final practical way of surviving the teen years.

6) Pray, pray, pray!

I can’t tell you how many times the Holy Spirit has lead me to save, know, and see things about my teen that are humanly impossible! One time I was napping, woke up, and was led to my Facebook where there were several articles posted about a certain TV series that was popular and causing quite a stir because of the graphic nature of suicide it was glamorizing. Holy Spirit was like, “Text her now!” I literally couldn’t text fast enough (she was at her father’s for the weekend) and ask her if she had seen this series. She replied, “Oh my gosh…that’s so crazy…I was literally going to press play right now!” I quickly told her I didn’t want her watching the series and she was amazed at how the Holy Spirit stepped right in to protect her. How amazing is that?!

Here’s the thing though, I know God’s voice and I know when He is speaking to me. How? I pray!

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Eph. 6:18)

Your teen is part of the Lord’s people so get to it!

Teenage years don’t have to be scary but you must be prepared. Here’s the other thing too, it doesn’t have to be regret either! Even if you’re in the throes of teenagehood right now and everything seems to be going all wrong, nothing is impossible with God. Maybe your teen is no longer a teen and has moved on, maybe you can have a conversation with them, get therapy together on mistakes made, or be the person you wanted to be to another teen in your life. He is still a God of miracles and He is still a God who resurrects! Every moment is a chance to make things better. We can do this!

Basket of Blessings,

Nina D.

 

 

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