3 Ways to Love Your Teen Today

Jax and Sara

On our last sailing adventure Drew & I had the pleasure of hosting a marriage & family therapist.  I picked her brain like I Iwas a patient in her office and she was gracious enough to comply.  While we were enjoying the wind in our hair at the bow of the boat,    she referenced that some parenting is common sense. 21st century parents have too often gotten away from some basics that connect us to our teenagers.  I would say the 3 tips I will offer today would fall in the “common sense” category.  However, if you’re like me, life can get hectic and it’s easy for the basics to take a backseat in exchange for activities that on the surface are deemed important.  Activities like sports, school and hanging out with friends are critical for development.  They help to create a well rounded teenagers.  However, if you and your teen are so busy you don’t ever get a change to connect, then you’re both too busy! Here are 3 things you can do today to show your teen you love them and desire to connect with them.

  1. Give Your Teen a Hug:  This may sound odd, especially to the parent that naturally gives lots of hugs.  So I’ll be the parent in the back of the room raising her hand to say, I forget to hug my teenagers sometimes.  I actually had to make it a personal goal to initiate a hug with my teens at least once a week.  This is embarrassing to admit, but if you can relate then know you’re not alone. Initially some of my kids didn’t fully welcome the affection.  However, given time they are all open to my hugs and do a ton of hug-initialing! 
  2. Sit Down to Dinner as a Family: By now this may not come as a surprise to you, but I had to make this a goal too.  We had gotten away from family dinners. Once I began to have multiple drivers and each kid in an extracurricular activity, dinner was often on the go. Between picking up from soccer and dropping off to piano, we’d often hit a drive thru or grab what was left of the counter for family members to eat as they arrived home.  I started small, with one night a week as designated family dinner night.  We’d all sit down.  We’d do a conversation starter. And, we’d eat TOGETHER.  Last week we were able to eat together 4 times Monday thru Friday.  That’s still rare, but it shows progress!
  3. Take your Teen Out to Lunch: Pick them up from school & have a lunch date. If that won’t work, stop into a Starbucks for an after school treat.  Do something out of the ordinary from your regular routine to let them know you value them and you want to spend one on one time with them!  Make sure you sit down together and have some conversation questions ready to go. They may not be very chatty at first, but if you continue to make this a practice, they will open up.

I could keep going, but these suggestions are a great place for your to begin. Teenagers want to be loved, heard and valued by their parents.  Parents desire the same from their teenagers. These 3 suggestions are an excellent way to reconnect with your teen and show them how much you love and value them. 

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    Staying Connected with Your Teenager


    Drew and I have 4 kids. Half of them are middle-age teenagers and the other half made it through to the other side and are officially twenty-somethings.  The baby, toddler and elementary years were physically exhausting. The tween and teen years are best described as mentally exhausting.  I’ve found that as parents, Drew and I have to be proactive with communication.  In the younger years they depended on Drew and I predominately for all their learning and understanding. Once the double digits begian they utilize their friends and social media to gather information and education. As parents we quickly recognized the need to be proactive with our efforts to keep the lines of communication healthy and open. 

    One of the ways that helps us accomplish that is with monthly lunch or dinner dates with our teenagers one on one.  That means once a month Drew will pick up one of our kids during their school lunch hour and take them out to lunch.  I do the same thing.  I can in full confidence tell you we each do this at least once a month because we’ve both made it an individual goal for ourselves and we are both a part of a goal group that makes sure we actually do it.

    It may sound weird to make it a goal to take your kid out to lunch. You may be thinking, what kind of parent has to make time with their kid a box to check off?  In my 47 years circling the sun, one thing I’ve realized is that when humans get busy the people they most often cancel on are the ones they love the most because those are the people that tend to offer them the most grace. The next thing you know months have gone by and you haven’t connected with your teen, UNLESS you are intentional.

    Recently during a lunch date with my 17 year old son conversation was running dry.  He wasn’t initiating any talking points and the few I brought up were turning into a bit of a quarrel.  That’s when I remembered a list of questions my dad had made a copy of and I’d screenshot with my phone.  I thought, well, I’ll ask one question from the list and see how it goes.  It wound up sparking a great conversation.  When we finished that question my son asked me for another one.  That went on until we’d discussed all the questions on the page.

    I recommend not only making regular one on one time with your teenagers, but also asking these questions at least once a year.  I found them from an article Tom Elliff wrote.  I can’t locate the online link. However, the questions are below:

    1. How do you feel we are getting along together?
    2. What are some things I could do to improve our relationship?
    3. Do you believe I really care about you as a person or just how you behave?
    4. Have I ever made a promise to you that I didn’t keep?
    5. Do you feel that I respect you?  Do you respect me?
    6. Is there something you’d enjoy doing with me?
    7. Is there a secret you are keeping from me for fear that I may love you less?
    8. What can I do to show you I want to be more like Jesus?
    9. Is there something I do that annoys or embarrasses you?
    10. How can I best express how much I love you & I’m honored to be your parent?
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      Simplified Holiday Decor

      When we moved into our tiny 900 square foot house 4 years ago I had to do a lot of downsizing to make everything fit comfortably in our cozy little home.  Holiday decor was not exempt from our purging.  I’ve never been a huge themed decorator, but there is one holiday I did go all out for in comparison to other celebrations:  Christmas!   In an effort to still make the house feel very festive, but with limited storage, I got creative.  Here are 5 TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR HOME FEEL CHRISTMAS READY without taking up too much space when it’s stored away for the other 11 months of the year!

      1. Use live evergreen branches from the woods.  In our home we don’t have a mantle, so each winter I head out to the backyard and cut off a pine tree limb. I  use it to hang our stockings from.

      2. While I’m out amidst the woods I grab a few more green branches, spray paint the leaves gold and stick them in a vase to spread more Christmas cheer about the house. So far zero dollars have been spent and it’s very festive!

      3. I seem to always have an extra strand of lights laying around, adding them to my corner of potted plants makes our everyday plants FESTIVE!

      4. Have a tapered candle in your junk drawer?  If not, they’ll only set you back about a $1 each.  If you soak then in hot  water for about 10 minutes that will soften then up enough to be able to make little cuts into the sides of the candle, create a  Christmas tree look-alike. 

      5. In our kitchen we have a scroll of butcher’s paper.  With a red and green marker put to paper to create some holly,voila,  you’ve created yet another holiday decoration!

      BONUS: Take a stroll around your home.  Perhaps you have some items that can be repurposed for the holiday.  I did that with a plaid pillow and blanket I found in my boys’ rooms.  Placing the throw on the chair next to our stockings and suddenly that plaid pillow now looks very merry.

      That’s it. Look around your home, or outside in your yard, and gather items that when put together can double as jovial holiday decor.  It’s that simple!  You’ve got this.


      Holiday sara Anthony
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        Urban Outfitter DIY Planter Dupe

        DIY Urban Outfitter Dupe

        I have a very simple, yet very rewards DIY for you today.  It’s SO SIMPLE, in fact,  I created it from my car! All it requires are 3 items found at the dollar store or, likely, items you already have on hand.

        1. Glue

        2. Spray Paint

        3. 4 Foam Rings

        With these items you’ll be creating a modern planter inspired by a pot found at Urban Outfitter, but for a fraction of the price. I was so excited to try this project out, I began gluing the foam pieces together from my car after leaving the Dollar Tree with my supplies.

        First I spread a line of glue around the top of one of the foam rings and added another foam ring on top of it. I did this until it was the height of an average pot a plant may come in.  In my case, I used 4 rings.  Two tips to keep in mind:  allow the glue to dry fully before beginning to paint.  Secondly, I recommend lining up the seams with each foam piece, so the backside is consistent.  Wait until the glue has fully dried.  I waited 24 hours. Actually, I waited a few weeks, but that’s only because I forgot about the project and had moved on to other things. It’s obviously not necessary to wait THAT long. It was good and dry though, and ready for spray paint.  I used a white spray paint I had leftover in our garage. Voila it was done and ready for a plant!

        Planter items
        Urban Planter

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          Morning Routine Bible Study Suggestions

          bible study

          “Let me get this straight, you use a Bible study curriculum, but you don’t attend a Bible study?” My mom was perplexed when she asked me if I ever incorporated any study material in my morning routine.  It’s funny how we can have a limited framework on how something can be utilized and it isn’t until someone questions it we realize it doesn’t have to be that way. Such was the case with my mother and how she viewed Bible Study curriculum.  She assumed they could only be used in a church group where you gather weekly to watch the correlating videos and discuss the daily lessons from your individual study the week prior.

          My schedule has rarely allowed for weekly Bible studies, but it doesn’t mean I have to opt out of learning from the well written curriculum.  The weekly video series can be rented in a bundle or individually.  You can easily watch them in the comfort of your own home, by yourself. And that’s what I have done.  Along the way I’ve picked up a few favorites I want to share with you in case you are interested in a closer look on a topic or book of the Bible.

          First allow me to emphasize that if you have a tendency to begin a Bible study, but rarely finish it or while doing a group study you find yourself having to cram 3 lessons in on your drive to class, I’m here to help. I can totally relate.  Speaking from personal experience, the problem is you’re doing an advanced move.  If you really want to become consistent with a daily Bible study you must first get really good at showing up at the same time every day.  I talk in detail about that here.  May I simply recommend starting small.  Get really good at only 10 mins a day.  The 10 minutes includes: prayer, thanksgiving and Bible reading.  That’s it.  You’re training your body to show up at the same time everyday. Essentially you are creating a habit that will stick.  I’ve found Jesus Calling to be an excellent resource for this habit training.  Once you are consistently showing up at the same time each day you’re ready for a more advanced move, a Bible study.

          The following are a few favorite Bible Studies of mine.

          Made for This by Jennie Allen:  It’s a 40 day study to help you to discover &  live out your God given purpose. The beauty of studying on your own is you can take it at a slower pace if you prefer. Jennie does an excellent job of walking you through practical steps for discovering your strengths and how you can use your talents and skills to bless others. She beautifully incorporates scripture to better understand how God put you on the plant with your contributions in mind.


          Entrusted by Beth Moore.  Once you know your giftings Entrusted is a great study to follow up with.  We’ve been entrusted with God given gifts & talents that you’ll discover in Made for More.  Entrusted gives you the why and the confidence to share the gospel using your unique talents.


          Armor Of God by Priscilla Shirer.  I’m not quite done with this one, but it’s too good not to include. I’m learning so much about the armor of God mentioned in Ephesians 6:10-19.  I feel more aware of why we need a “shield of faith” and “belt of truth”.  I also highly appreciate how Priscilla begins most lessons with an application from her own life.  She’s an excellent teacher.  


          That should keep you busy for a while.  If you have any further questions or recommendations for studies you think I’d like, let me know.

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            Why Shop Secondhand

            Shop Secondhand

            I’m not ashamed to admit it.  I love to shop secondhand.  I’m also a huge bargain hunter. And I love a good name brand.  If it’s a good deal and a brand I enjoy, the love goes deeper. For example, I love Spanx faux leather leggings, but I don’t love the $98 price tag.  I shop on Poshmark for gently used  Spanx and save a lot of money!  

            My sister Carrie could very well be labeled an expert thrifter.  She finds the best deals and is always dressed to the nines.  She recently texted me her reasons for secondhand shopping at her local thrift shop and I can’t help but to share them with you.  It’s just too good to keep to myself.

            1. The thrill of the hunt! I can’t argue with this one.  It IS so fun to hunt for a good deal.  This will not sell everyone, so I’ll continue.
            2. It saves money.  This is a reason in and of itself.  It truly does save so much money.
            3. It’s good for the environment.  Less clothes in the landfill is always a plus.
            4. You have the option to be creative with a cheap “canvas”.  Always wanted to try to tie dye? A $3 plain white tee from Goodwill is the way to go.

            These next two made me laugh:

            1. If you look at enough dresses, it’s resistance training for your arms. {My sister makes a great point here.}
            2. If you walk around enough you get your steps in for the day. {I think it’s safe to say thrifting is healthy!}

            If you’ll please excuse me, I”m going to call my sister and see if she wants to go thrifting.

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              I Spray Painted My Window.

              I spray painted my window

              When we first began making design decisions for the house we currently live in, we had no intention of calling it home for our family. We were just going to flip it.  The 900 square foot size of the space automatically places it in a price range for resale.  We purchased windows taking that into consideration. I loved the size of the living room window and it outweighed the disappointing tan color it came in.  Also, and more weighty,  the price for the quality was a selling point.

              When we decided we may want to call that little house home afterall, the windows were trimmed and set.  I’ve wanted to change the windows for the last 4 years we’ve lived here.  It is still not a priority.  However, I did uncover a quick fix and finally got up the courage to try it out.  I spray painted my window trim!

              Wash window

              Step 1: First things first, clean the window frame.  I found that mine had collected dust and needed a quick scrub before putting any paint on it. It’s also smart to have a well ventilated area.  Spray paint is a strong smell.

              Step 2: Using painters tape, mark off the glass and trim around the window.  Be very particular about this step. 

              Tape window

              Step 3: Using plastic masking film that clings to the window and tape it off, you don’t have to be as particular with this as long as you cover the glass fully. Also use the cling along the outer edge of the window frame and extend it far because spray paint has a significant overspray.  

              Step 4: It’s time to spray!  I used Rustoleum black satin.  Be careful not to get too close, that causes drips.  Use long sweeping motions taking periodic breaks to shake the can.

              Spray paint window


              Step 5: Once the entire window frame is sprayed, let the paint set for a few minutes, but not long.  You don’t want the paint to adhere to the tape and pull away from the window frame when the tape is pulled off.

              THAT”S IT.  It’s that simple.

              A few things to note: 

              • Spray painting your windows negates the warranty.  
              • If you miss a spot, spray some paint into the spray paint  lid and use a small paint brush to fill in any missing areas.
              • Overspray comes off easily from glass with a razor blade  edge. 
              • Overspray does not come off easily from furniture & walls, be sure to use plenty of drop cloths!


              Living room


              I spray painted my window
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                Let’s Dare to Dream

                Let's Dare to Dream

                There is a part of me that really enjoys predictability. Simplicity. Consistency. Control. There’s this another part of me that craves adventure. Spontaneity. Uncertainty. However the predictable side largely outweighs the adventure side. Like, by a landslide.  I”m married to Drew, an adventure seeker.  Not the kind that jumps out of planes or descends cliffs.  He’s riskiness takes the form of purchasing homes with holes in the roof large enough for a vulture to swoop in and make a nest in the bathroom shower.  That was the case of the abandoned house we restored and currently call home. He also discovers new passions, like sailing, and in no time gets his captain’s license and helps run a nonprofit for sailing adventures. 

                I’ve learned a lot from Drew.  When we decided to learn to sail I watched him check the many classes off the list necessary to label him a captain.  I took note as he didn’t talk about doing it.  He just did it.  He’s literally a dreamer AND a doer.  

                I feel like I’m more calculated with my attempts to accomplish dreams.  I like to think long and hard.  Then I prefer to do just enough research to become overwhelmed and follow that up by calculating all the ways my idea will fail.  I often talk myself out of a potential ambition before it’s even left my head. Another favorite, I throw in the towel when the first obstacle presents itself.

                As I’ve paid attention to my tendencies, I’ve begun to push past the feelings of wanting to quit when it gets hard or scary or overwhelming.  I still don’t have much to show for my efforts, but that brings me to another thing I’ve learned.  Nothing is wasted.  Not the mistakes.  Not the progress. So much can be accomplished through the learning process.  It’s rarely fast.  It’s always hard.  And always worth the effort. 

                Part of my learning process is to absorb information through Audible.  There are 4 books I’d recommend when it comes to carving out your personal dreams.

                DREAM BIG: Author Bob Goff gives practical dreaming tips sprinkled with very adventurous stories from his own life.  If i’m not careful I can begin to want to be Bob the way he talks about his grandiose ambitions and carefree outlook on life. This book quickly made its way to the top of my must read.

                BIG MAGIC: I’m seeing a theme here when it comes to dreams, it’s a BIG deal.  Elizabeth Gilbert walks you through her discoveries when it comes to seeking big ambitions.  I talk more about it here.

                TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE: This book is an Audible exclusive by Mel Robbins.  She interviews 4 people about their personal obstacles when it comes to what holds them back in life.  In her life-coaching style she tackles real time questions people have as they work to improve themselves.

                MADE FOR THIS: This book is more of a daily application style book.  It’s the only one I didn’t listen to.  I read it as a part of my daily morning routine.  It walks you through discovering your strengths and weaknesses by looking at your life from childhood all the way to where you currently stand. Author Jennie Allen has a way of weaving truths found in the Bible to help you discover what you were put on earth to accomplish.  

                BONUS: This is a YouTube sermon I first found about 5 years ago that totally changed my perspective.  It’s titled RESOLUTION by Andy Stanley.  In his ever so talented way, he helps you uncover how to discover your passions and practical next steps to take action.

                Let’s keep dreaming and then not hesitate to put action to those ambitions.  I promise I will.  Join me?  If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of all this may, I recommend clicking on the box below this post.  It gives you step by step instructions on how to set up some accountability in your life so that 5 years from now you’re not sitting on the same dream with nothing to show for it.

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                  My Favorite Way to Exercise


                  I’m going to let you in on a little something I discovered about three years ago.  First, a little background information. For many years I was a runner.  It was my sole mode of exercise.  I trained for races, was a part of a running club and ran 3-5 times a week. When my knees began giving me issues, I transitioned to group fitness classes at my local gym. I participated for a few years quite regularly.  I was consistently going 4-5 times a week.  I found myself bored with the classes. My solution was to have a friend join me. I figured I’d enjoy it much more with a friend.  I asked my gal-pal, Ashley, who was also a gym member, if she’d join me for a class or two each week.  She opted out with the reason that she was “very passionate about lifting weights” and would I care to join her instead? I could not say I was passionate about any type of exercise, so I opted to give her passion a try. The fitness class I hated the most was coming up, so I said I’d join her for lifting weights on that day.  That was 3 years ago.  I’ve been lifting weights with Ashley ever since.  I stuck with it for several reasons.  One, I was right, having a friend to workout with is motivational and way more fun. Ashley is a wealth of knowledge and taught me everything I now know. 

                  What I’m about to tell you regarding exercise goes beyond motivation and friendship though. Those are great. However, lifting weights transformed my body more than any other type of exercise! I wasn’t out to bulk up or enter bodybuilding contests. My desire was simply to stay in shape.  What I didn’t anticipate was the way my muscles would transform. I began to see definition in my back, shoulders and abs. I’d never had that before. Never.  I’m still not a body builder, but that was never the goal. I look healthy and strong. I feel great. And, I highly recommend lifting weights as an excellent form of exercise.  

                  Below is an example of how I  break up my muscle groups.  However, I mix things up every so often to keep my muscles confused. Ashley taught me muscle confusion aids in muscle develop!

                  Monday: Legs & Glutes

                  Tuesday: Shoulder & Back

                  Wednesday: Abs & Chest

                  Thursday: Legs again

                  Friday: Biceps & Triceps 

                  I still enjoy the cardio aspect of running & fitness classes, so Ashley and I usually end our workout with some type of cardio.  May I also suggest beginning and ending your workout with a good stretch.  Your 47 year old self will thank you one day!

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                    How Can I Help?

                    heart on the beach

                    I’m a 45 year old white female living in the USA. I have privileges not afforded a 45 year old black female also living in the USA.  That’s not to say I haven’t had hard times. It does mean my skin color hasn’t been a cause for any of my hardships.  

                    I’ve had the opportunity on several occasions to openly discuss racism and how it affects my black friends.  I’m not pretending to be an expert.  I’m certainly not attempting to be a voice to replace my black friends’ voices.  My intention is to come alongside them to unite our voices in an effort to bring change and healing. 

                    Here are 5 things you can do as a white person right now to help heal our country devastated by racism:

                    LISTEN: This seems like an easy one. However, it’s probably the hardest on the list. For some reason people are of the notion they have to 100% agree with everything a person says or believes in order to stand with them. In addition, amidst our social media culture, we also often feel the need to correct and offer a personal opinion. I’m asking you to JUST LISTEN. 

                    EXAMINE YOUR CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: Do all your friends believe like you? Think like you? Look (share the same skin color} like you?  Your perspective can quickly become very narrow if the above questions can all be answered with a “yes”. 

                    EDUCATE YOURSELF:  Education has always been a method to empower and enlighten ourselves.  Take the time to listen to podcasts, read books, and watch movies written/produced by black men and women.

                    Book: JUST MERCY

                    Blog Post: Lament for Ahmaud

                    Podcast: How to Be Anti-Racist

                    Documentary: 13th

                    PRAY: Division amidst the people God created was never His intent.  Pray for restoration.  Pray for healing.  Pray for God to open your eyes to ways you can be part of the solution.

                    TALK TO YOUR KIDS: If you’ve been around for any length of time, you know I’m a huge proponent of having hard uncomfortable conversations with your kids. This topic isn’t off limits.  Open dialogue about what you’re learning and how you can make changes as a family is a great dinner talking point.

                    BONUS POINT: Say something when one of your white friends makes a statement that hinders the work of reconciliation.  When you know better, you do better.  Pass it on.

                    In your enthusiasm to listen and learn, please keep the following in mind:  This topic may be a new conversation for you, but it’s been a life long discussion in conjunction with a lot of personal experiences for our African American friends.  Be polite.  Be patient.  Be grateful.  Teaching is exhausting.  

                    Finally, if any of the things you’ve read or heard lately {not just here} make you feel misunderstood or defensive I would encourage you to sit in that feeling.  It’s all a part of the learning & listening practice.

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                      I’m Sara Anthony. I love keeping things simple, working along side my husband, Drew, & raising our 4 kids. I've dedicated this space to sharing what I've learned about raising teenagers, simplifying our home and staying motivated through accountability.


                      Located in Southern Georgia