Do You Know What’s Happening in Your Teen’s Dating Life

Original article was featured on

Photo Credit to FamilyShare

Photo Credit to FamilyShare

Did you know individuals ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence? The statistics are staggering when it comes to teen dating violence and it is being swept under the rug not because parents and educators don’t care, but because they do not know what they are battling. Many times, when teen relationships are rocky, parents just see this as a sign of their teen’s immaturity or theatrical tendencies. Violence is not even on the radar for consideration. But what is so frightening is that many teens are being abused by their partner and yet only 6 percent ever tell anyone.

Physical Abuse is probably the most obvious form of abuse but it is not the only type of abuse that a teen can experience. Anyone can be the victim of emotional, sexual and digital abuse as well. These are just a few signs to look for if you think your son or daughter might be in a relationship with an abuser. Just remember, not all signs will be drastic. Over time, the abusive partner might become more aggressive and even braver in his/her dominance in the relationship. Power and control are the two things that they are seeking.

Signs to look for in your teen’s relationship

  1.  Isolation

Many times, in an abusive relationship, the abuser will want to dominate the time of the victim. It is common for your teen to want to spend time with their significant other, especially while the relationship is new. The concern arises when the teen victim cannot be alone without the insistent badgering of the significant other. When not with them, the abusive partner is texting them, calling or using social media to keep “tabs” on them.

Your job as the parent is to set healthy boundaries in their time together. Instead of your teen seeing their partner every day, allow them to pick one week day to hang out (go to youth group together on Wednesday nights) and one weekend night to go on a group date. Other days help your teen focus on their personal interest and desires. The goal is for them to form healthy individual opinions and interests.


2. Change in personality

Teenagers are moody so parents need to assess this sign carefully. If your teen is usually carefree and upbeat, but is now very reserved, quiet or nervous, this could be a warning sign. In cases like this, the abuser usually will blame his/her partner for how they are responding. Over time, the victim realizes that as long as they are quiet or agree to everything, the abuser won’t start arguments. In order to keep the peace, the teen victim will drastically change their personality to avoid confrontations with their boyfriend/girlfriend. The abuser has blamed their violent actions on the victim for so long, the teen victim begins to believe it is their fault.

As parents, we need to raise emotionally healthy children that understand that they are never responsible for the negative emotions or outbursts of others. In times when they do deal with such negative behaviors, they will recognize that it is not normal or acceptable.


3. Unexplained bruises or injuries

Usually before physical abuse begins, the teen victim has already suffered some emotional abuse and has been isolated from family and friends. The bruises and injuries may not be as noticeable because he/she will cover them up or make up excuses to how they got them. As parents, we need to explain to our teens that an abuser doesn’t have to leave a bruise or break a bone to be physically violent. Grabbing an arm or the victim’s face to get “their attention” is just as unacceptable. Be on the lookout for other signs of abuse. Physical force is usually accompanied by other forms of emotional, sexual or digital abuse.

I cannot begin to write an exhaustive list of things parents need to be aware of when their teen begins to date. I can tell you that you must be diligent and alert. Open communication with your teen could be lifesaving. So many times, abuse in teen relationships could be stopped if we, as parents, knew what we were looking for.

More importantly, as the parent, it is not only our duty to protect our teenagers, but also set and demonstrate what a healthy relationship is. The best place to start is in your own personal relationships.

Weekend DIY: Pallet Wood Coat Rack


It’s the weekend!!!!! Don’t know how your week has gone, but I welcomed Friday with open arms. As much as I enjoy freelancing I sometimes need to take a break from the computer and the deadlines and tear stuff apart!   I won’t say DIY is my speciality but it is slowly turning into my therapy!

For a while now, I have thought about sharing with you the less serious side of my life. I am not as poetic and profound as I might come across. I also wasn’t too sure if you cared to see what I  do when I’m not writing?  But I can tell you writing this post was a blast! If nothing else, I might start sharing my DIYs just for the sake of sharing!

I don’t know about you, but I HEART Pinterest. I am always pinning really cool DIY projects but don’t seem to ever get around to them. Well, not today. With the help of my husband, I finally started and successfully finished my first DIY project using pallets.


  • Hammer
  • Sander (optional)
  • Drill (maybe not a must but definitely makes life easier)
  • Paint (I used chalk paint simply because I had it already on hand)
  • Block letter (I purchased from Wal-Mart for less than $2.00)
  • Nails (or use wood  glue to secure the letter on the pallet)
  • Brass coat hooks (also from Wal-Mart and under $3.00)


Before you even start, look at this video from I wish I had found this blogger sooner.  I had no idea how hard pallets were to disassemble. Geez! We broke several of the boards trying to tear it apart, but that was okay. It gave the final project a little something extra. I was going for distressed.

Remove the nails and try to save them so you can reuse them in a minute. After we decided which boards we were putting together, we laid them in the pattern we wanted and then my husband secured the individual pieces of wood with scrap pieces of the pallet. This acted as a brace of sorts for the back. While my husband was cutting and securing the boards, I painted the letter I purchased from Wal-mart. ( I had the easy job!)

As I said earlier, I was going for more of a distressed look, so we didn’t sand nor paint the wood. After the pieces were secured, I used finishing nails to tack the block letter to the front of the board. My husband then used his drill to secure the brass coat hooks I had purchased. (He doesn’t trust me with his man tools!) A little hanging wire, two nails  and one  leveler, we had our DIY Pallet Coat Rack. Total cost was around $5.00 plus tax.

pallet 2

That was fun! What do yo do in your spare time? I would love to see some of your projects. If you are interested in sharing on the blog, contact me!

4 Things Your Kids Need to See You Do in Your Marriage

The original post was featured at Familyshare and can viewed by clicking the link.

kid looking at parents

I am an advocate of a two parent home largely because I was not part of one. My mother and father divorced when I was little and my mother did not remarry. I don’t blame her for choosing to stay single after my father. She dealt with a lot of emotional abuse that would last her a lifetime. In some sense, I believe she wanted to protect us from another potentially “bad” relationship.

I could write a book just on the effects of divorce on children alone, but this isn’t the article. I am simply sharing some history about my own family because I feel that I missed out on some valuable lessons about positive relationships. Now, many years later, with a family of my own, I am aware of my own family dynamics. My husband and I work hard in our marriage for one another, but we also allow our children to see the good, the bad and the ugly.

Many of my friends have told me they have never seen their parents fight nor have they overheard decisions on family financial matters being made. At one time, I thought that was how I would handle my own family matters, but it just didn’t work for us. My husband and I want our children to be aware of what it takes to actually make a marriage work day-to-day I want them to understand it’s not always about the glass slipper, but the daily grind.

Here is a list of things I personally think kids need to see us doing, as couples, in our marriages. What would you add to the list?

1. Pray

For me, this one was the hardest. Religion might have been woven in my childhood somewhere, but I don’t ever recall praying as a family. Prayer was always addressed as something you did in your personal time with God. So praying together as a couple and as a family was a little odd at first. (Not for the kids but for us) Desiring our family to have a prayer time together, we started at dinner with my husband leading. Slowly, the kids started praying around the table. Now, it’s not uncommon for the kids to see us, as a couple, praying over the smallest matters. Before big decisions are made, the kids know it will be prayed about.

If you want your kids to have a desire for God, they need to see a genuine desire for Him from you. And I can tell you first hand that it can do wonders for your marriage when you share such intimate times.

2. Make decisions

Children should see their parents consulting one another before making decisions, be they big or small. There is nothing wrong with a couple disagreeing on what the best decision for the family might be. The point for your children is not to see who wins. The point is to show them that even in times when you disagree, you can find a compromise. Allowing your children to see you making decisions TOGETHER will not only show them how to be a decision maker but a team player. Decision making should never be one-sided.

3. Fight

Yes, it’s truly OK for your children to see you at a time where you just don’t like one another very much. But I do not mean physical confrontation or angry outbursts where you are directing profanity or insults toward your partner. THAT IS NEVER ACCEPTABLE. But your kids won’t be in therapy if they see mom and dad disagree either. In fact, fighting is a chance to let your kids see how to handle conflict respectfully and maturely.

I had a friend that idolized her parent’s marriage. She never saw them fight or disagree. When she got married, she had distorted expectations of her spouse. It caused great tension and eventually led to a divorce.

4. Show affection

What is the greatest thing about fighting with your spouse? You get to make up! Number 3 and #4 go hand in hand but showing affections for your spouse is very important. You want your kids to understand that the desire for their significant other is vital and mutual. Don’t we all want our children to find someone who will love them and show them that they are loved?

I believe that children need to know that even after they are married, they still must pursue their spouse. Our children laugh and cover their eyes when they see my husband and I kiss, but there is a look of content on their faces too. They know we love each other because we show it not only in our speech, but our actions. Your kids might roll their eyes, tell you to get a room or utter TMI under their breath, but deep down you are providing a sense of security.

By letting your children see you in your day-to-day marriage, you are showing your children that your family is here to stay … through the good, the bad and the ugly.

Why Sadie Robertson Is Really Not the Best Teen Role Model

Sadie Robertson

My social media pages have seen a lot of #hashtags happening due to this #KylieJennerChallenge and apparently Sadie Robertson handled the challenge like the boss she is. I have tried to keep up with all the trending but honestly, I found myself quickly bored. I assumed all parents would be. Yet, blog after blog, I continue to see posts on the Sadie vs. Kylie issue. The latest article I read gave 8 solid reasons America needs more of Sadie and less of Kylie.

kylie jennerHonestly, the blog post bothered me. Besides the post pitting the two teens against one another, I found  the  reasons to be pro-Sadie unsound. All it really did was compare the worldly achievements and failures of both girls.  It is very obvious one of them is using their influence for the greater good, but are we really going to discredit Kylie for coming from a dysfunctional family or having a book flop? If so, then I will never have influence.

There is a definite lack of parental guidance in Jenner’s life. One episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians will prove my point. But let me say that I am not ready to give up on Jenner just yet. Kylie could be a great Kingdom catalyst if God moved in her life. How many more young teens could relate to a girl who was headed down a road of poor choices to only become a woman restored by God’s grace? Instead of comparing them, lets pray for them.

Regardless of the role model Kylie Jenner is, Sadie Robertson shouldn’t be placed on a pedestal either.

Before you boycott me for writing this, let me explain.  I am a Duck Dynasty fan and regardless of the title of this post, really do like Sadie. I admire how the young teen is using her influence to encourage teens. I find myself watching the videos she posts occasionally on Instagram. And yes, I do follow Sadie on IG. I watch her, her family and the choices she is making in the public eye and think to myself, “Oh I hope my little girl turns out like that.” Who wouldn’t want their child to be someone of godly influence?

I don’t want to be raising a “Kylie” but I also understand that I don’t need to point my preteen’s attention to Sadie. I need to point her to Christ.

Having role models for your children is not a bad thing, but I will caution you on putting too much emphasis on another human being. At the end of the day, Sadie puts her pants on just like everyone else, one leg at a time. So, here are my reasons why Sadie really isn’t your teens best role model:

  1. Sadie is flawed

At the end of the day, Sadie (and Kylie) is a sinner and will never be perfect. When we idolize a teen role model, we are setting ourselves up for failure because at the end of the day, Sadie is human.  At one time, Brittany Spears was pegged as the “poster child” for virginity. She told the world she wanted to wait to have sex to honor herself and God.  Yeah, remember how that turned out? Not only did she succumb to the temptation, but was outed by her ex-boyfriend on an ABC 20/20 interview. Thanks Justin.

I am not Brittany bashing or excusing her behavior. What I am doing is trying to prove my point. If our entire focus is based upon the choices of an earthly role model, we shouldn’t expect much from our children. Sadie can be someone girls look up to, but she should never be their focus.

We cannot expect perfection for an imperfect person.

This brings me to my next point….

2. Sadie is not our motivation

When we place girls like Sadie on a pedestal, we are creating an idol for our teens. Eventually, Sadie will mess up (big or small). It is our very sin nature to stumble. If our focus is on an earthly leader, we are in trouble. I see it in churches every day. The congregation idolizes the pastor, lifting him high about his station, and then he messes up. He loses his temper and acts unbecoming. Maybe it’s a deeper infraction and he has an extramarital affair. All of a sudden, because of the pastor’s shortcomings, the entire flock succumbs. Yes, we are called to lead by example but the focus has always meant to be on God, not man.  When bad things happen and our role models disappoint, we can still continue with the hope because we serve a great God and not man.

God is our motivator

3. Sadie is not realistic

One of the first YouTube videos I ever watched of Sadie was her encouraging her followers to stop looking at everyone around them and be who they are. That was when I decided I liked her! Sadly, when the role model and their achievements become the focus or goal of our teen’s life they can forget that they are to be original. We don’t all look like Sadie nor have the family influence like she does. If I guess correctly, half of us will never write a best seller or be on DWTS. Sorry, it is true.

live original by Sadie

When our teens begin looking at young ladies like her, their goals can easily become unrealistic. Parents, we need to stress to our teens they need to be who God called them to be, not someone else. Sadie is doing her thing, influencing the world in the way God has gifted her. Let our teens do the same!

Ps. Sadie, keep rockin’ it sister!

It Mattered to that One: Raising Awareness of Sexually Exploited Women in Asia

Starfish badge I hate to admit but I had very little knowledge of the horrific bondage so many women were forced into around the world. Sure, I had heard the word “sex trafficking” but since it wasn’t in my backyard, I was able to push it aside and continue in my little bubble. Then, I began seeing clothing stores that partnered with organizations helping these women. By my purchase,  I would help fund a woman across the world to learn a skill that could inevitably change her entire life. Many of these boutiques are bringing awareness to women that are sexually exploited. In fact, they are becoming the voice of so many women that have had their voices silenced.

For the longest time, I stood from a distance and admired the women and organizations that had taken a stand. But I always had an excuse as to why I couldn’t do something. I justified to myself that the little monetary support I could raise would not even scratch the surface of this issue. I am the type of person that prefers to be hands-on in all of my projects and since I knew that I couldn’t drop everything and go,  I decided to do nothing.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Starfish Project, asking for me to join in their fundraising efforts. At first, I just closed the email, a million and one reasons going through my head as to why I couldn’t help. Then, I watched the video of the women that they were helping and my heart broke. You see, it is easy to justify why you can’t  help until you see the faces  of those that need the help.

I want to share with you the parable that was the final push to make me say, “I can do something.” starfish parable

One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.

Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.

The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”

I do ask that you take a moment after reading, pray how you can help and consider donating to the cause. The Starfish Image on the blog will lead you to the fundraising page.   Regardless of what you can do, it will matter to one.

What My Readers Made Me Realize

Go Make Disciples

I just wanted to share a little something with my readers this morning. As you have read, Heartskeeper was sponsored this month by Novi Creations to celebrate my 2 year spiritual birthday. As I am gathering names to send to the sponsor, I began looking over my blog stats. On the right side of my stat page there is a large map of the world that helps me see where my readers are viewing Heartskeeper. I could not help but smile as I saw the ENTIRE map light up with beautiful colors! As I ran the mouse over the map, I saw readers in India, Africa, Italy, Russia, Canada and of course the USA (to name a few). For those that don’t know this about me, my prayer has been for the longest that God allow me to be a missionary. I have not gotten that “go” light just yet to pack up the family but I realized this morning that I already am a missionary sharing God’s word with many across the globe. THANK YOU for helping me realize that God is at work and THANK YOU for reading! Stay tuned for the winner of the March giveaway!!

March: Birthday Celebrations and Giveaways



NOVI logo

The month of March is a very special month for me. Two years ago, I made a profession of faith and my life has drastically changed!  Each year, my family and I pick a day in March to celebrate my “spiritual birthday” which I have affectionately name He Got You Month.

For my spiritual birthday, in which I am now the Big 2, I wanted to celebrate with some cake and a giveaway from Novi Creations. Shauna Stockstill, the founder of Novi Creations and also a dear sweet friend, has so graciously offered to provide the March giveaway to one lucky subscriber.  You won’t want to miss this celebration!! Details will be coming to your inbox and social media pages very soon.  (Hey, did you really think I’d make it that easy on you!) Until then, take a moment and meet our sponsor!


Shauna Stockstill Founder of NOVI Creations

Shauna Stockstill
Founder of NOVI Creations

I love second looks and second chances. I believe with proper care and nurture there is hope for everyone and everything. Too often life quietly passes by, waiting for someone to discover it’s potential.

Whether it is discarded materials or discarded people, we all need someone who is willing to look beyond the obvious and dare to see what could be. Someone who lingers when everyone else has walked away.

In my art and jewelry I am constantly trying to capture this vision. Whether repurposed or recycled, I try hard to capture and celebrates the uniqueness of each piece.

True value comes when we understand what it was once like to be discarded…

I was dead and of no value. But God, rich in mercy made me alive, new, full of life in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:1-9


When I read the story of  Novi Creations, I cannot help but think how it relates to all of our lives. So many of us are just looking for a second chance, waiting for someone to discover our potential.  When everyone else sees a discarded soul, the Designer sees beauty. Once we accept the free gift of salvation, our lives are repurposed for His calling. I am thankful my God lingered when everyone else walked away. Aren’t you?

What Are You Reading?


cat reading a book

My name is Sarah and I am a plant killer. You can give me the easiest plant in the world to maintain and I will find a way to murder it. # R.I.P Leafy.  Plants need sunlight and apparently they don’t do so well without this stuff called water. Simply put, plants need  sustenance.

People are the same way. We were not created to go long periods without having spiritual nourishment. Yet, with our busy schedules, we rarely find time to meditate on God’s word.  The lack of spiritual sustenance is causing spiritual malnutrition. Without God’s living word to pour out on our lives, we will slowly wither and will no longer bear the fruit we were intended to bear. After my most recent post, I realized there are a lot of believers that have substituted God’s living word for the world’s garbage. They are empty and their lives are reflecting that emptiness. They need to be “watered.”

Here’s  a few devotions that I have really enjoyed over the last few months. I wanted to share a few of them with you!

The Bible: This is a free app but the devotions have been spot on. I also like that you can set up a reminder on your phone. The studies will show your progress and you can share what you are reading with your friends. Currently, I am reading:

On Marriage: “Happily Ever After“: Devotions from Time of Grace



On Family: “Parenting” by Design Daily Devotional


Also, you might want to check out this app:

SheReadsTruth:  I downloaded the app on my cell phone for convenience but you can go directly to their website. Some of the plans are free while other devo plans may cost. They have some beautiful graphics on the site and occasionally will provide free downloads for screen savers. It’s worth the look!

Books I am currently reading:

pulling back the shades I picked up Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery’s “Pulling Back the Shades.” I am thinking of using the book as a study guide for a lady’s small group. Maybe even an online book discussion on Facebook?

What are you reading?  I would love to hear what  helps you in your daily walk.

Shades of Grey: Why Erotica Books like Fifty Shades of Grey Aren’t the Real Issue


50 shades of hay


Since the big debut of Fifty Shades of Grey, I have tried to wait it out in the background, wishing and hoping the moral debate and boycott of such books and films would just go away. I didn’t want to even talk about it or write about it because that would make me have to examine where I stand on the topic. I did not want to be branded as a hypocrite because so  many of my friends and I read romance novels; maybe not Fifty Shades, but I’ve been known to read some pretty spicy reading material.

My decision to write about this heated topic had little to do with the actual book, but an incident at my home the other day with my young preteen daughter. She got my kindle and was scrolling through my downloaded books. I was re-reading (like for the fourth time) one of the young adult romance novels I had purchased and it just so happened to be on the page of some heated sexual scene. From the kitchen, I heard my daughter ask, “Why are you reading this stuff? It’s gross!”  I was so embarrassed that she had read it and if I can admit, I was ashamed that she had “caught me.”

My husband and I try so hard to teach our children about staying pure, both in mind and body. Yet, if you look on my kindle, you would find novels that were based closely on the story line of Fifty Shades. I am drawn to books where the lead characters are troubled beautiful souls that need to be saved by a strong female figure. Sprinkle some drama to the story line and a whole lot of passionate love-making, and you have hooked me. How is that pure of mind?

So before I even get started, please let me start off by confessing something. I have never read Fifty Shades of Grey and I have justified that decision based on some loose moral perimeter I created to excuse my other reading choices.

In fact, if I had to guess, many of you have to do the same thing. [This] book or movie is “bad” but [this] book or movie is “okay.” For whatever reason, like many other women, I have excused my choice of books and movies because I don’t see them as the porn it is, but as innocent fantasy that allows me to escape what can be a very mundane life.

Fifty Shades of Grey is not the issue but the indicator of a bigger problem. The numbers don’t lie. When there are millions of women reading erotica books, it is proof that there is a blatant need women are not having fulfilled. Instead of demonizing the book and their authors and even the men in our lives, maybe we need to look within and see what’s missing.

To the Stay-at-home mom, it is time to look within and figure out why you feel the need to pull the escape latch from reality.

To the Single lady, it is time to look at what you are replacing in your life until the next chapter begins.

To the woman who has been married over two decades and is longing for a renewed sense of passion, it’s time to look at what‘s missing in your marriage.

To the Christian woman, it is time to look at what has become a potential stumbling block in your spiritual walk.

It is time, ladies, for ALL of us to look at the desire of our hearts. Eventually, Fifty Shades of Grey will be just another book that will collect dust on the shelf. In its place, another dozen or so books and movies will be published and advertised to women everywhere that desire passion, love and escape in their lives.

Demonizing Fifty Shades of Grey won’t change the real issue, but it will distract from the main problem, your heart.

I looked deep down on this and have come up with three reasons women (myself included) use romance novels to spice up their lives.  Have you struggled with any of these? I’d like to hear from you.

The 3 Shades of a Women’s heart:

  1. We all want to be desired and pursued.

Rather you are single, dating or married, all of us want to know that someone desires us. In the books or movies we are helplessly glued to, we usually see a character that is so consumed with the heroine that it is intoxicating. Who wouldn’t want that? Where we go wrong is that we don’t understand that being desired does not always constitute love. But if physical desire is all there is, it will eventually fade and you will be left trying to refill your emotional fuel tank. It took me a long time to realize that there is only one Man in my life that pursues me daily because He desires a relationship with me. In fact, He pursued me to the cross and died so that we could be together for eternity. That, ladies, is true love.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

2.  We all want to be needed.

Romance novels have capitalized on this particular desire of women. There is a reason good girls go for the bad boys. I use to tell people that if there was a loser in a 50 mile radius of me, I was attracted to them. I felt that it was my “duty” to save them from themselves. What usually started as a passionate relationship, turned to drama and heartache. Ladies, you can’t be their  one and all. It just doesn’t work that way. True change takes place from within a person’s heart with the help of a Savior, everything else up until that is just behavior modification.  You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

3.  We all want to escape.

Sometimes, our fantasies seem much better than our realities. My life is not full of romance and impromptu trips to exotic lands. I wish it were, but my husband and I have responsibilities and they come in the mail like clockwork! To say that romance can get dull when you have young children or a busy work schedule is an understatement. So when life isn’t making beautiful music, we tend to hit the escape latch and go into the world of fantasy. If it can help you rekindle some of your passion in the bedroom, is it really that bad? I’ll answer the question with another question. How would you like it if you found your husband looking at porn and his reasoning was because it helped him get out of his head? #1 on the list is probably flashing like the neon sign at Krispy Crème right about now! Do you feel desired?  When he is with you intimately, will you wonder who he is fantasying about?

Harvard (yes, the Harvard) did a study on the three reasons couples stay together and avoid divorce. Only 1 of 1,246 couples got a divorce if they did just three simple things together. I am extending the list to any woman, in any stage of life because honestly, regardless of what season we are in, what we seek in our heart is what we will seek in our everyday. The Harvard study concluded that praying together, discussing the Bible together and attending church together were the three essentials of all healthy relationships. Reading Fifty Shades of Grey didn’t make Harvard’s list. Sorry

Next time, when you are looking to feel desired, needed or to remember what is important, talk to God, seek fellowship with His people or open His word and read the sweetest love letters you will ever read.

You don’t need to feel ashamed about your struggle because it’s a real struggle that real women face. Let’s start talking about it and stop pointing the finger.