How to Tell Your Friend or Daughter You're Concerned

We've talked about many areas of dating violence in the last week.

But what if you're worried about someone you know? How do you talk to them about it? It's definitely a tricky thing. Whether you're an parent or a friend of a teen, today we have resources for you.

I had a college girl write out for me why she thinks it's important for adults to listen about dating abuse. Here are her words:

"When I was 17, my mother told me that my friend's boyfriend “looked like a serial killer.” He looked a little different and sometimes his smile creeped me out, but my friend was “happy” (a term I once used loosely). My mother kept referring to that boy with questioning reservation, because she truly believed her sense of something being wrong. I didn't notice anything different. My friend was thoroughly obsessed with her boyfriend, and I didn't think that was weird. I have never had a boyfriend, perhaps that was normal. I didn't know anything at 17, because I had never truly been through anything, but my mother had been through it all and she could sense it.

My friend's boyfriend was abusive, and took her away from all her friends. Her parents didn't know until he shoved his arm through a glass door to stop her from leaving; her parents didn't know until the damage was already done. I didn't know until she told me, because at 17, I knew nothing.

There were tons of adults around my friend during this relationship, and all claimed to have “sensed something” before it was confirmed. I'm sure these adults simply didn't know that the girl was a little too obsessed with her boyfriend, maybe they didn't realize that she was cut off from family, and that that was totally normal for an abusive boyfriend to isolate her. As soon as the adults found out, action was taken. She was immediately relocated, a restraining order was placed, and her ex-boyfriend was given psychiatric help.

I could not have offered help like this, because at 17 all I could do was tell an adult, or another professional. She needed adults to intervene.  I often regret not having the confidence to fight for my friend, but there is nothing that can be done now but to help the healing process. Domestic Violence is not something that any teenager can deal with alone."

Well spoken. Now I'll refer you to some already well written articles of advice. If you'll take the time to click on these links, some good direction is offered for how you can approach your friend.

How to Tell a Friend You're Worried About Their Relationship by Michelle Hainer from

How to Help a Friend from the website. Another helpful article from them, knowing when to tell an adult or not, is FOR TEENS.

What if you're a mom or dad, and you see some things you don't feel good about in your teen's relationship? The website offers some good advice in A Letter to Parents.

Here are warning signs listed for parents to watch for: (excerpt from

A common characteristic of unhealthy and abusive relationships is the control that the abusive partner seeks to maintain in the relationship. This includes telling someone what to wear, where they can go, who they can hang out with, calling them names, humiliating them in front of others. Over time, the isolation from one's social network increases, as the abuser insists on spending time "just the two of us," and threatens to leave or cause harm if things do not go the way they want, "You must not love me." Creating this isolation and dissolution of one's social supports (loss of friends, disconnectedness from family) are hallmarks of controlling behaviors. In addition, abusers often monitor cell phones and emails, and for example, may threaten harm if the response to a text message is not instant. Parents are rarely aware of such controlling tactics as these occur insidiously over time, and an adolescent may themselves not recognize the controlling, possessive behaviors as unhealthy. "They must love me because they just want to spend time with me."

While the following non-specific warning signs could indicate other concerning things such as depression or drug use, these should also raise a red flag for parents and adult caregivers about the possibility of an unhealthy relationship:

    * no longer hanging out with his/her circle of friends
    * wearing the same clothing
    * distracted when spoken to
    * constantly checking cell phone, gets extremely upset when asked to turn phone off
    * withdrawn, quieter than usual
    * angry, irritable when asked how they are doing
    * making excuses for their boyfriend/girlfriend
    * showering immediately after getting home
    * unexplained scratches or bruises

For a free, downloadable, VERY helpful resource, take a look at the booklet for parents. 


Another True Story

I know none of us like to think about Dating Violence, and the possibility of it happening.  And that is the reason to talk about it during this Awareness Month.

Because it does happen. 

I'm grateful to my friend for being willing to share her personal story with you. 

"Over 15 years ago, what now seems like a lifetime ago, I found myself in an abusive relationship. I didn’t realize until long after I’d gotten out, that there were so many levels of abuse – it’s not just physical abuse, but also emotional, mental & sexual. Most people who know me now, can’t believe I was ever in an abusive relationship – I’m strong, independent, outgoing, don’t have a problem setting boundaries with my friends & family, I was raised by great parents with a relatively normal childhood (divorced parents, but hey, that’s not really abnormal). Yet, more than 15 years ago, I found myself looking in the mirror at a gigantic black eye wondering how in the world I let that happen?

The relationship started in a bar - both of us liquored up and then hooking up. I was newly divorced, only 23 years old and looking for my “knight in shining armor.” For this story, we’ll call my abuser “The Knight” – even though he was FAR from what we all picture as little girls. The Knight & I started our relationship off with booze & sex – great foundation, huh? We partied together a lot and partying always led to The Knight getting jealous because some guy looked at me sideways. Oddly enough, it was always MY fault if a guy looked at me and always ended up with me having to convince The Knight that I wasn’t cheating on him. For about a year, there was no physical violence, only constant accusations of infidelity on my part (I found out later, he was the one cheating – quite enthusiastically at that!).

Then one cold, January night at the bar, a long-time male friend dared to buy me a drink AND put his arm on my shoulder. The Knight’s jealously grew and grew that evening until finally we had to leave the bar. At one point, after yelling at me for what seemed like an eternity, The Knight pulled the car over, dragged me out of the backseat and threw me into a very cold, very hard snow bank. Then he pulled me up and threw me down again. This happened several times until his friend pulled him off me and I was able to crawl back into the car. At this point, I didn’t know if I’d survive until morning. I couldn’t make sense of what had just happened. No one had ever physically manhandled me like that! I was hoping and praying that The Knight’s friend would somehow calm him down and everything would be ok. When we got to our apartment, I raced upstairs and hid in my small son’s bedroom (note that my son was not at home). Unfortunately, The Knight’s friend turned his back on me as before long, I was being dragged out of the bedroom, was picked up by the waistband of my pants and the back of my shirt and was tossed across the kitchen to land on my face and slide into the cupboards. I literally saw stars and didn’t move for what seems like an eternity. I was petrified. Something must have snapped in The Knight at that moment because he gently picked me up and carried me to bed. He started crying and begging me to forgive him and to never make him do that again… Yes, he was telling me it was MY fault that he’d done what he did.

We were together for nearly 3 years and The Knight would never admit that he abused me, always saying that it wasn’t abuse because he never actually hit me. No, he didn’t hit me with his fist, I’ll agree to that, but throwing one’s partner 10 feet in the air, throwing that same partner repeatedly into a snow bank, constantly berating one’s partner, constantly accusing your partner of infidelity and demanding to know where they are every moment, or holding a shotgun to your partner’s head while they’re begging for mercy, are ALL forms of abuse.

Only after seeking help from the local domestic violence shelter’s support group was I able to see that I really WAS being abused and that it was NEVER my fault. HE was the one who was damaged. HE was the one at fault. It took me a very long time to recover emotionally and even longer to forgive The Knight."

5 things from her story:

1. He was jealous when guys looked at her AND it was her fault that they looked at her.
2. No physical abuse for a year, just constant accusations of her infidelity.
3. Yelled at her. Physical abuse began.
4. He cried and begged forgiveness as he said "please don't ever make me do that again" (still her fault)
5. He never admitted he abused her, since it wasn't a fist/hit (though he tossed her across the room, etc).

This friend is currently happily married and recovered from those dark days. Thanks to God and to friends, and to the grace that helped her walk out of a bad situation, and into forgiveness and true life, she is living a completely different life now. She says if her story can help one person out of the pain she went through, it is worth it.

The picture that she recommends using to see if you are in an abusive relationship is this Violence Wheel. You can see it and more information about it at


True Story- He Was Perfect, And Secretly Abusive

photo credit:
This true story I am sharing with permission, in my own words based on what a friend shared with me about her high school experience.

She grew up in a Christian home and went to private Christian school. This story happened a few years ago. This beautiful is girl now in her twenties and married to a great guy who truly loves her.

In high school, she started out in a dating relationship with a guy who seemed perfect. He was the football star, won the Christian awards at school, chosen for Homecoming court, everyone liked him. Including the adults in her life. In fact, he was "approved" to date.

She was surrounded by her loving family, good friends and many good adults, in a private Christian school, yet found herself in an abusive dating relationship in high school. It can happen anywhere.

Later she found he had a bit of a past that made him lacking in how to have a healthy relationship. She found herself dating Mr. Perfect, but hearing things like "Wear this, do that, you're too skinny, or ugly...Be glad you're with me because no one else would want to be with you." He became controlling and possessive. 

At first there was verbal abuse as described above, then some physical things began (throwing and breaking items). Being forced sexually occurred also.

She didn't tell anyone for a long time. She thought something was wrong with her, that she was a terrible person. Everyone liked him. 

Then she didn't know how to break up. And began to be afraid to be alone with him. 

Her mom began to know something was wrong, though she would've never guessed what it actually was. No one would. But her mom felt something, and began asking questions. One night her mom heard him over the phone in the background freaking out and breaking stuff. She moved her to another school.

When she finally later confessed the two year ordeal to her family, terrified to tell because she thought it was her fault, her family was obviously completely devastated. They felt incredibly guilty as parents for not seeing. But they loved their daughter and never saw it as her fault. They helped each other restore back to healthy, healed outlooks and lives.

Now, in her own words today she shares some wisdom gained from this experience, that she'd like to share with girls and those who love them. 

"The main point is just to watch out for the kind of men that want to control every bit of your life. It starts out small: For example, a controlling man may start telling you what to wear, what to listen to, watch, and where to go. Then it may get to the point where he might control who you spend your time with. Like me, you may be only allowed to spend time with him. My ex-boyfriend eventually starting making me believe that my friends and family didn't have my best interests at heart, and told me that he was the only one who knew how to take care of me. He would threaten to leave or embarrass me if I spent too much time with other people, or if I wanted to do the different things I enjoyed.

With the control came lots of verbal abuse. I was told I was stupid, ugly, and worthless all the time. Unfortunately, I was already very insecure going into the relationship so it was easier for me to believe all of the hurtful things he would say. I became very depressed and unmotivated to do anything anymore. My world just became this guy who treated me terribly, and I believed I deserved a relationship like this because I didn't know my worth.

I would encourage women to be very cautious when picking a man to be in their lives. For the safety of your heart the dating process should be taken slowly. Also, make sure you have trustworthy family and friends close by; they may see things you don't at first. Love can sometimes be very blind when you are infatuated with another. If you find yourself losing relationships and the things you once loved doing due to the man in your life, you may not be in a very healthy relationship. Don't date someone to find yourself, you have to be confident in who you are going into this. We are daughters of God and we need to be patient and wait for the kind of godly man that wants to encourage us and bring us closer to God and all of the beautiful things in life. I know it was extremely hard to break my relationship off; I was very afraid of what he may do. I was very blessed to have my family and friends by my side to help me break the relationship off, and help me see my worth so I wasn't tempted to go back to him. I would encourage young women in this situation to go to someone they can trust to help them break it off and counsel with them about unhealthy relationships. We are beautiful inside and out and we should be cared for and protected."


Loving Relationships...

Happy Valentines Day!

Today let's take a peek at some healthy traits that are in the best kind of relationships- healthy ones. 

This is taken from Please take a look at their very helpful website!

In a healthy relationship:

•Your partner respects you and your individuality. 
•You are both open and honest.
•Your partner supports you and your choices even when they disagree with you.
•Both of you have equal say and respected boundaries. 
•Your partner understands that you need to study or hang out with friends or family. 
•You can communicate your feelings without being afraid of negative consequences. 
•Both of you feel safe being open and honest. 

A good partner is not excessively jealous and does not make you feel guilty when you spend time with family and friends. A good partner also compliments you, encourages you to achieve your goals and does not resent your accomplishments. 


Can Your BF Pass this Quiz?

Stop Teen Abuse Credit: Carey Hope
"He's so dreamy, so nice, so thoughtful."

Then over time, he begins to do some things that make you a little uncomfortable, but maybe, you think, it's just a bad day? You find yourself thinking, "Maybe I did something wrong to cause it? Surely that won't be normal."

You find yourself explaining him to people...

"It's kinda sweet, he always wants to know where I am and who I'm with. He really cares... kinda romantic!"

"He just doesn't like my friends that much, I mean, he likes them I guess, but he'd rather not hang out with them. That's ok.... I guess."

Do you ever wonder about some things your boyfriend does? Is it normal?

There are a couple of great websites to help answer that question.

One is This website is FULL of info, resources, quizzes, help for teens and parents, and even a text-in peer advocate line.

If you want to take the quiz to see if you are in a healthy relationship, click here: Healthy Relationship Quiz

Another great source- Here is a checklist from


Sometimes it can be almost impossible to look at your relationship objectively. But if you’re concerned that your partner is abusive, your instincts are probably right. Go through our dating abuse checklist and see if your partner has said or done any of the things below. Can you answer agree with some or many of the statements below? If so, it’s time to think about getting help and getting out.
  • My partner teases me in ways that hurt my feelings.
  • My partner calls me mean names like "stupid" or "fat" or “worthless”.
  • My partner acts jealous of the time I spend with friends, family, or people I’m in class with.
  • My partner gets angry about the clothes I wear or how I style my hair or they try to control how I look.
  • My partner checks up on me by calling, driving by my house, or getting someone else to call/drive by my house.
  • My partner always wants to know who I talk to on the phone or who I’ve texted.
  • My partner says it’s my fault when they have a bad day or are in a bad mood.
  • My partner throws or destroys things when angry.
  • My partner hits walls, drives dangerously, or does other things that scare me.
  • My partner drinks excessively or uses drugs.
  • My partner insists that I drink or use drugs whenever they do.
  • My partner often accuses me of cheating or of being into other people.
  • My partner doesn’t respect my privacy (he/she reads my email, goes through my personal things, demands access to my desk/locker, insists on seeing my text message history).
  • My partner has threatened to hurt me.
  • My partner has threatened to commit suicide if I leave.
  • My partner has intentionally hit, kicked, slapped, punched, or otherwise hurt me.
  • My partner has given me visible bruises, welts, or cuts.
  • My partner forces me to go further sexually than I want to.
  • My partner is mean to me in front of other people, but sweet, kind, and apologetic when we’re alone.
  • My friends have told me they worry about me because of my partner/ think my partner is abusive.

Talk to a parent or adult today. Get someone else's opinion. Be honest with them. You deserve to be treated with respect.

You can call or text this Hotline- 24 hours a day. Seven days a week.

Text "loveis" to 77054. Or call 1-866-331-9474


Lucille Ball Said It All

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." ~ Lucille Ball

Good news is, I believe change can be made.

But as Lucille said, it has to be faced first.

February is National Dating Violence Awareness Month.

And it's an ugly topic. Not fun to write about. Why do I do it anyway?

Because the first time I brought this topic up with girls, not even thinking they needed it, not even knowing for a fact that it was an issue in their world, two girls told me afterwards they had relationships they needed to get out of, before things got worse. I was floored. And each year since, I know of at least one more similar story, just from my little world. That's why this is a must every yearThere are signs before anything ever gets physical. Do you know what they are?

Awareness is a must. Education works.

A very good definition of what dating violence is, comes from an Oklahoma government website.  "Dating violence is the use of harassing, controlling, and/or abusive behavior to maintain power and control over a partner in a romantic relationship. It can take the form of emotional/verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, stalking, or a combination of abusive behaviors. Anyone can be a victim of dating violence regardless of age, race, or gender. Teens are particularly vulnerable to dating violence due to their young age and inexperience with romantic relationships." 

In my state, the statistics are much higher than the national average according to this news story and statistics from the YMCA, Oklahoma Ranks High on Dating Violence. Three times the national average for Oklahoma high school freshmen! Not good.

So one purpose this month is to educate on healthy and unhealthy relationship signs

There are some great resources from organizations on the Internet. Please check out

Discussion Starters: Take opportunity to talk through daily things that come up in relationships that your kids see. What do you think of that? Do you think she's treating him well? Do you think he's respecting her? Would you put up with that from someone?

That way we can casually talk about healthy relationship qualities with our kids, when it's not them involved, so they aren't defensive.


How to Help Your Teen Have Healthy Relationships-Pt. 1

February is  National Teen Dating Violence Awareness  Month. 

(Keep reading!!)

It could be easy to brush it off and think "Oh, thank goodness that doesn't apply to anyone I know!" But I beg  you to read on, if not for yourself, than to be educated,  for the sake of all the people you know and influence.

Dating violence sounds extreme, and it can be. And we would hope rare. But it does happen. 

However, there are many smaller signs leading up to potential violence that our kids need to recognize. I have found that smaller signs of pretty unhealthy behavior is alarmingly common. It may not be a physical abuse yet, but it's a sign of potential trouble down the road. 

We need to put some standards out there of what should be expected and what's not acceptable in dating relationships.

My eyes have been opened after discussing this topic among girls.  After going over warning signs of potentially dangerous relationships, I've heard, " boyfriend kind of does that...." (some of the more stalker type stuff).  I've heard of girls covering bruises with makeup. I've had girls recognize that their boyfriends were just controlling, but when they found out that's not normal, they reconsidered the relationship and got out. 

Unfortunately dating abuse does happen. And it doesn't have to be physical. Being treated in a very controlling way, taking you from family and friends, demanding to know where you are and who you're with 24 hours a day, are all signs of a danger zone ahead.  

Then there are just unhealthy relationships that may not be dangerous, but just aren't good.

Some teens don't know this. We need to tell them. What's obvious to us may not be obvious to them. I'm happy to say some girls that learned these are bad signs broke up with guys. A little education can go a long way.

And sometimes it's the girls who are abusive, controlling or unhealthy. My first year of marriage we lived in an apartment under a violent couple. It was the cute little twenty something girl that beat her boyfriend. This definitely goes both ways. Guys need to be just as aware as girls do, what constitutes a healthy relationship.

January 31, 2012 President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation  that February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month. 

At the top this website, click on National Dating Violence Awareness Month, for a ton of good resources and more information (including quizzes and hotlines to text for help).

Throughout this month, I'll be writing on this topic. It will be sporadically placed throughout the month. I'll share a couple of real stories that girls have been willing to share. 

I beg you to push through the feeling of wanting to ignore this. Inform yourself. Watch for signs. Talk through this with your kids. 

People that act abusively need help and I hope will get it, but the girlfriend or boyfriend is not the one to help them. No matter how many times they apologize. If you find out someone you know faces any of the warning signs we'll talk about this month, SPEAK UP.  You have permission to get in their business. They honestly may not know some behaviors are not normal. You may save them.

The last day of this month, we are hosting a COMMUNITY TALK on this topic. A few different people will be sharing info, stories and resources. At the end, for those who can stay (and it's totally worth it!!) the Lifetime movie "Reviving Ophelia" will be shown. This fictional movie is a great visual and discussion starter of the topic of high school dating abuse. 

Feb. 28, 2013. 6:30pm. Believers Church 4705 S. Memorial. Females age 13 and up welcome.

And now, a video from


Yet Another Suicide. More Bullying.

For those of us in my city, a couple of days ago came the sad news of yet another suicide, this one at the I High in Coweta. There have been way too many in our city this year.

Some of the suicides this year have hinted at being results of possible bullying, some we will never know.

However, according to many students, parents and witnesses, this week's 9th grade boy appeared to have been a victim of sure bullying, according to this news report. We are so sorry and send prayers to his family and friends. For the full story, click on this link below, highlighted in blue.

But first, it gets worse. This seems to be an ongoing issue in this particular area. One girl from this same area came forward to tell about being a victim of intense bullying also. According to the news story, it sounds like parents have already been banding together in this area trying to take some action against an obvious problem. In this news link, a copy of one of the vicious notes left in this girl's locker is posted for all of us to see. It's important to look at it, though the news story cautions "Graphic Content". Please take a look.


Thank goodness the girl told someone, who thankfully told her parents. Unfortunately it looks like when the school did take some action, the perpetrators just changed victims. Unfortunately, the next victim took his life this week.

I have no idea which schools in our city take action and which say "kids will be kids", so I cannot comment to that.

But I do know that it's complex and terrible and needs some action. Snapping bra straps and tripping someone in the hallway may have been the problems years ago, but now there are some terrible actions being taken that are way beyond comprehension. The note in that news article is a perfect example of the brutality of some things happening today.

For adults to just say "kids will be kids" doesn't work anymore. Sometimes just telling a kid to "suck it up" doesn't work.

On the flip side, some schools are so stringent now, we end up with stories like this one in the news today about the 7 year old boy suspended from school for throwing a fake grenade. He said he was playing "Save the World" and threw the fake grenade to destroy evil and save the world. Pretty typical behavior for young boys. Surely schools can find a happy medium between this severity of action, and "kids will be kids". 

Please tell someone if you are being treated this way. Tell someone who cares.

Please tell someone if you know a friend is being treated this way. Even if your friend gets mad.

Use your schools anonymous tip line if you don't want to be known. If your school doesn't have one, ask them to set one up. 

Adults, take time to learn and listen, not to just brush off reports as kids being too sensitive. Stand up for them if something bad is happening to them. If you know something and don't want to be known, you use the anonymous tip line at the school too! It can be scary to confront- do it anonymously if you can't in person. 

People have gotten a little weary of the word bullying, I know. We can't call every conflict between individuals bullying, or we lessen the weight of true bullying. But what seems to be going on at this local school is true bullying- when a student receives a letter that says, "You stupid attention whore. Pigs like you deserve to get slaughtered. Just make everybody happier and die. JUST DIE." Perpetrators like this need to be found and punished. 

After the death this week, one mom started a Facebook Page called  Oklahoma Parent's Alliance Against Bullying. She posts some helpful tips for how to take action within the school system if your child is being bullied. 

OK Parents Alliance Against Bullying shared some good tips today.  Keep copies of every form of proof of harassment. Keep the notes, texts, emails, print out the IM's, social media, etc. 

Also, on the Oklahoma Dept of Education website, there is a lot of info on bullying, complete with official forms to fill out when reporting an incident. 

If your school doesn't respond effectively, move on up to the next level to report it again.

Meanwhile, let's stay busy with our own kids and all of those in our sphere of influence, being a good role model and teaching how to have character and be a good person. 

And I'll continue trying to grow Girls 101 Workshops and get them into schools, where one of the things we cover is issues like these. 


5 Things Story- Remembering Rita Laughlin

We are overdue for another 5 Things Story!

5 Things Stories are stories from women I interview. They answer the question "What are 5 things you're glad you did as a mom?" or in this case, "What are 5 things you're glad your mom did?"

Recently I had a getaway by myself for a week (unheard of, I know!) It was delicious. I went to see a long time friend that I rarely get to see, Christine. Chrissy, as I call her, is 2nd from the left in this childhood picture.

She is surrounded by her sisters Cecelia, Michelle and Lou Anne. We are highlighting their mom, Rita Laughlin.

Christine and I both used to live in Phoenix in the early 1990's, where we shared some FUN memories. She is high drama (the good kind), verbose, quick witted and is always game for whatever comes along. We've also known each other through some not-fun drama and difficult times. She inspires me with her faith that is SO real and very solid. She has one of the most inspiring relationships with God that I know.

I had just known her a short time when her mom passed away in 1992. I did get to meet her once. Christine tells such fun things that her mom did growing up. While I was enjoying my vacation at her house recently, spending time writing, I asked her if she would share a 5 Things story about her mom. So we sat down and I asked her to tell 5 things she's glad her mom did while raising her. Christine and her sisters grew up in Phoenix in the 1950's and 60's.

In her words:

1. The most important thing I think my mom did was to set an atmosphere in our home that God was real.  That He would meet us where we were. She taught us all how to pray. Saturday nights she would gather us all to pray. She was brought up Catholic. She understood talking directly to the Father. So she would gather us together to pray and ask God directly for what we needed, which was often food. My father left when I was very young. I never knew him. She taught us how to seek God, how He would care for us, and how He was real, in a very tangible way. That He could be referenced every day of week. She was baptized in the Holy Spirit when I was 14. She ran prayer meetings at our church (one of first women to do that). She gave us a strong understanding of who God was. That's the most valuable thing. Each of my sisters is still serving the Lord based on that heritage.

2. She taught us a strong sense of family, by what we did together, as in family activities. For holidays- she would go all out, with limited stuff we had. She sewed us each a new outfit for Easter. She put out every type of finery that she had to show us that God's days were to be handled in excellence. She made  treats that we weren't used to having. She went all out. At Christmas we would each get a present and some additional things. We were very low income but had no idea. We thought we had the finest of all, "most deluxe". She cared for us, cooked for us every day. We stood behind our chairs before dinner to pray then sat down. On special occasions in the spring, she would put the table outside and we would enjoy a dinner outside, just for a different fun atmosphere.

3. She read to us. A favorite memory is how she would put us to bed, then sit on stool in the hallway where my sisters and I in both bedrooms could see and hear her. There were 2 sisters in each of the 2 side by side bedrooms. She would read us the classics. (She didn't believe in TV per se). We would lay there in beds and just imagine all the words. She was gifted with language  skills and wit. It gave way to an understanding that imagination was everything. We believed we could do anything.

4. She emphasized eduacation. After we were grown, she went back to school for a degree, in her 50's, when she had more disposable income. She placed a huge emphasis on using all that God has given us to explore the world.

5. She gave us an appreciation for entertainment! On Saturday nights, it was big band music. She taught us to dance and sing. We had to come up with plays and skits to present to each other. My mother's father was a stage actor and her mother was a flapper. So she was into drama! I've come about it honestly! My sisters and I carried it on with our kids when  they were little. In fact I just had Misti perform a riverdance for me. (Her 30-something daughter) . She valued entertainment and arts. I see it in all of my sisters.

She had tremendous wit and intelligence...a brilliant woman, but she was also harsh at times and needed healing because she grew up in an orphanage for a time. My grandma, her mother, was super selfish- with the "star" situation she had going on. When my mom was young she contracted polio and her mom sent her to live in an orphanage for a few years. They did come get her a few years later.

She taught us community, responsibility for family, how we fit in. But the greatest thing - I would literally see her pray on her knees for food, and groceries would come. That was normal to me. Society back then did not have all we do now. Two parent families were normal, not our situation. People made fun but she provided a safe environment. We thought we lacked for nothing.

She made us go after God- literally by walking to church and catechism, in Phoenix! The priest was like Jesus to us. I remember his booming voice as my eyes peeped over the eye level pew. I was terrified and mesmerized. At Catechism they showed slides about Jesus, and after each slide was a beep. Jesus walked on water... BEEP! I was enthralled.

I can't imagine raising 4 girls, the fighting, by myself, and trying to believe God for food. How she held onto our house is a miracle I'll never know.

She never let us know we were about to lose the house or anything, if we were. At one point, for a year or so, she went through a depression  or breakdown when I was young. I just remember the house was dark. Normal would be lots of light and music playing. It was a short period. .

I don't remember ever coming home without a great meal on table. She loved to cook. When we got to high school, she taught us to cook and we took over.

She was a great mother and to me a great role model. It's why I'm "old school" now. Once she did allow tv, it was old movies and Bonanza. She was super strict on what she allowed in the house. We couldn't bring magazines or any new found things, it was heresy (said with a chuckle). I think it was because she understood it was God that got her through and she wanted to honor Him. When we purchased a gift for her, 80% of the time it was something religious because it so important to her.

In my opinion my mom had a lot of shortcomings, but she did what she was supposed to do, which was raise us up in the fear of the Lord and give us an understanding of Him. She gave us family, trust, community, safety and responsibility.


The Nameless Woman by Lauren

jadyn noelle photography
I love to pass on work that other people produce. I especially love to pass on original words written by young girls and young ladies.

Today I have the super honor of sharing a story that a wonderful young lady recently wrote. Lauren is my daughter's roommate at college. You know how we parents pray for our kids friends as they grow up, hoping our children will find very quality relationships? Lauren is an above and beyond answer to those prayers. She is in real life as fun as she looks in this picture! Ultra quality, as you will soon see as you read her words. 

I love her focus on "the nameless woman" in this story, taken from the story in John 8 from the Bible. No one is nameless to God. Lauren imagined what the woman caught in adultery must have been thinking as she was extended grace from this amazing Man. 

The Nameless Woman

By Lauren Branz
Again, I found myself in the same place.
Once again, I felt such filth all over my body.
I lifted up my fingers to wipe away the tears from my eyes, but all I could see was the dirt under my fingernails and my mud-stained hands.
My body ached.
Ached with a stinging pain.
Ached from the broken heart that I owned and was trying so desperately to fix.
The ground underneath my body was hard and cold.
There were no blankets to warm me.
Nothing to melt the icy feeling that followed me wherever I put my feet.
All that was next to me was a man that did not belong to me.
A man that did not love me.
A man that wanted a twisted form of love from me.
He didn’t want me. Not me.
No man wanted me.
You see, I was what you would label “an adulterer”
Always taking things that did not belong to me.
Always looking for love in the wrong places.
It was a deadly cycle that I couldn’t figure out how to break.
I looked out of the makeshift window in the small clay home.
It was still dark, yet the sun was beginning to slowly burst out of the horizon.
The man next to me was beginning to stir.
His body reeked with a smell that I could only describe as spoiled food and wine.
I realized that I needed to leave this man quickly.
His wife would be home when the sun was out of hiding.
Although this was a lifestyle that I had become accustomed to,
I still didn’t want to be caught doing the very thing that I was the most ashamed of.
I began to sit up slowly and started to look for my worn-out sandals that were passed on to me from my mother.
They were right beside the enormous door and inside of a bucket.
I stood up and began to plan my quiet escape.
As I was picking up the sandals, I began to hear noises outside of the home.
Then the door began to slowly open.
I looked around for a place to run, but there was nowhere to run.
There was always nowhere to run.
A woman now stood in the doorway with a group of men behind her.
She walked in her home with a candle in her hands.
She looked right at me with fire in her eyes and yelled,
“This is the woman I was suspecting. The adulterer!”
The adulterer. Even I was beginning to forget my own name.
“Get out of this home!” One of the men yelled.
“How dare you think you could get away with this?” A second one said.
“You’re coming with us. No harlot in this town!” Another added.
The woman walked right up to me as her drunken husband began to wake up from the chaos.
“I hope you get what you deserve for seducing my husband,” she said as she spit on my face.
She then leaned down to comfort her repulsive husband.
“Who is this woman?” he said pointing at me. “I have never seen her before!” he slurred.
I looked at him, disgusted.
Once again, I was the nameless woman.
Was anyone willing to stand up for me?
Did I do this act by myself?
The wife began to whimper loudly.
“Pharisees, take her away!” She yelled to the men in the doorway.
The two men in the front came to me, and grabbed both of my arms forcefully.
They pushed me through the door as they began walking me through the town.
They were holding my arms so hard that I was beginning to not be able to feel them.
All I could feel was the sharp stones under my feet.
I remembered I never got the sandals from the bucket
Where were they taking me?
Was death my punishment?
There was a dark part of me that wished that it was.
At least I would be out of my misery.
I was beginning to see where they were taking me.
To the temple courts.
As they brought me into the temple, I realized there were hundreds of people there.
They were all listening to a man that I had never seen before that was standing in front of them all.
He was teaching them.
He stopped speaking when I came into the temple.
All of the people looked at me.
My pride was gone. Everything I had was gone.
I had never felt more defeated.
The men made me stand in front of the entire group.
All of their eyes were glued to me.
I looked down at my filthy feet to avoid their gaze.
“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
I felt as if the men didn’t like this teacher.
Like he was challenging their authority.
They hung on his every movement like they were trying to accuse him of something also.
Instead of answering them, this teacher bent down and starting writing in the dirt below him.
I thought that maybe the men had brought me to the wrong person.
Who was this curious man?
What was happening?
“Did you hear us, teacher?” one asked.
“What are you doing?’ another one chimed.
The questioning continued as he persistently wrote in the dirt.
After a long pause, he stood up and said these simple words,
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
My head shot up.
I couldn’t believe it.
Was this teacher crazy?
Everybody in the town knew who I was.
An adulterer.
I deserved a punishment.
I deserved to be put to death for the things that I had done.
I even knew that.
He looked at me for a moment with his soft gaze and bent down to write in the dirt again.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first.
Every single one of my accusers and criticizers fled.
This teacher gathered himself as he looked around the temple.
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” he said as he looked at me with his gentle eyes.
I looked around the temple.
No one was here to condemn me any more.
“No one, sir.” I spoke slowly.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” the teacher declared.
“Go now and leave your life of sin.”
He continued writing in the dirt.
I was speechless and shocked.
Whoever this man was,
Whatever this man was,
I wanted to know what he was teaching.

(Send her some love in the comment section- she is just emerging as a writer and went out on a limb letting me post this! Don't you agree she should continue writing?!! So good).


RA- Relational Aggression in Girls

Relational Aggression, or RA, is a fancy term for girls using relationships to mistreat each other- (silent treatment, exclusion, isolation, rumors, cliques, I won't be your friend if, etc).

Girls love to act, so role playing is a popular method of teaching. Even simple role playing at your house with your daughter is good prep work, to help her feel a little more ready to face things she (or he) may be facing at school.

In Girls 101 workshops, we role play using the MEAN GIRL, the TARGET, and the BYSTANDERS. We also talk about the feelings of each, motives of each and OPTIONS for girls to use if they find themselves in any of those roles.

I like to challenge girls to be SHE-ROS and to come to the defense of themselves AND others when they see people being mean. The world needs more She-ros who are brave enough to stand up for something!

Here are some tactics that your daughter can use:

TARGETS- (the one targeted by mean girl)

No matter how much you have to fake, respond in confidence. You are less likely to get picked on if you appear confident. Even if you have to go around the corner and break down when she's gone.

Look her in the eye. If you're too scared for that, look at her nose or the top of her head. It'll look like you're looking her in the eye.

It's okay to remove yourself from the situation. A simple confident "that's not true" or "stop it" followed by leaving is fine.

Use humor to diffuse the situation, if you can.

BYSTANDERS- (the ones who are around and observing, whether you're involved or not)

All girls will be bystanders at some point, and they actually have a lot of power. Typically, bystanders are afraid to say anything to stop the meanness, because they know they could then become the target of meanness too. But better to be brave and be a she-ro.

I teach having EMPATHY for the Target . Put yourself in her shoes. Would you want someone to help you? Then be brave and do something about it. Easier said than done, right? Well there are a few ways you can do something, even if you're not feeling super brave. Here are a few ideas:

Simply say something to the MG. "Hey lay off" or "Hey that's not true" or "What are you doing? Leave her alone".

Body language- just go stand by the target. They won't feel alone and now MG is looking at two people instead of one.

Go up to target and say "Hey let's go to class" and walk off with them- just help them get out of the situation.

All you bystanders band together and just walk off, taking the target with you, leaving Mean Girl by herself.

If it's a really bad situation, or ongoing, tell an adult.