Teenage Triple Whammy: Shaving, Braces, and Muscles

This month, our oldest son graduates from 8th grade which means he’s headed to high school lickety-split. The transition from middle school to high school is a game changer.

While he certainly has bigger challenges ahead of him, right now our teenager is increasingly aware of his appearance. He went from couldn’t care less to self-conscious almost overnight. His awareness of girls and the desire to play high school football motivate this new emphasis on grooming and physical stature.

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Boys hit puberty at different rates. As they head into high school, many boys outweigh their mamas and some are taller than their fathers. Voices are dropping right and left and chubby, youthful faces are morphing into more mature visages.

In our house, physical appearance challenges can be narrowed down to the teenage boy triple whammy—shaving, braces, and muscles.

Tips for Teenagers on Shaving, Braces, and Muscles


Shaving is a rite of passage. However, talking about facial hair, shaving, and basic grooming can be awkward for your teenage son.

  • Don’t turn a “first shave” into a “first baby steps” moment. We failed at this. Making a video of your son’s first shave for future rehearsal dinner material will not go over well with your teenager. Trust me on this one.
  • Help keep his medicine cabinet and gym bag stocked. Make sure all your son’s grooming needs are in full supply and accessible. If it’s not in plain sight, my son won’t use it so, I help by making sure items like shaving cream, a clean razor, hair gel, deodorant, and, yes, toothpaste are all within arms reach.


Despite the fact that most teens spend time in braces, they feel as if they are the only brace-face that ever lived. Closed-mouth smiles, larger mouth guards for sports, and the annoying broken bracket syndrome are all side effects of wearing braces. Our biggest challenge is keeping a growing teenage boy with braces fed. We’ve upped our game by getting creative in the kitchen and adding a variety of whole food snacks that are soft and healthy.

Our favorite “Braces Friendly” recipes:


For teenage boys who still haven’t had the inevitable growth spurt, telling them it’s coming will fall on deaf ears. While I would love to have the problem of being too skinny, for a teenage boy it’s an epic discouragement. We encourage healthy ways to beef up his muscles by providing balanced snacks and meals with lots of good protein.

Our son’s favorite protein packed meals:

What advice do you have to offer on guiding our sons through these teenage years?


When He’s Pulling Away…


I can’t tell you how many pictures I’ve taken, or how many images I’ve captured of my son throughout the years. But this shot–this picture right here–this one grabs me.

This one hurts.

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The sweet boy pictured here has his whole life before him; plenty of dreams, hopes, and all the desires of his precious heart wrapped-up within his small, tweenage frame. They’re right there, just beneath the surface…

And I wish I knew what they were.

I know that sounds strange–odd even–but this kid of mine? This amazing boy God’s given me to raise…he’s pulling away. I feel it. I see it. I hear it in the way he talks, in the alone time he seeks, and the nature of our conversations.

He’s growing up…and I don’t know how to handle it.

I can’t tell you how hard that is to admit, or how much I struggle with this newfound reality, but I am struggling. The mama he used to run towards for hugs and kisses, Band-Aids and bedtime stories is slowly being pushed aside. He’s becoming more independent. He’s forming his own ideas and opinions. My son’s got a voice all his own and everything about him is indeed, changing.

Oh, how I used to know this kid inside and out—his likes and dislikes. This was the child who never left my side…the baby who always snuggled, and always smiled. This young man was once the little boy who’d planned on becoming a fireman, loved the color blue, and whose favorite pastime included anything (and everything) having to do with cars…and trains…and dirt.

It doesn’t seem like that long ago.

But those cars are gone. The trains have all been donated. And the stuffed animals that once graced his bed, held firmly within his toddler grip, are no longer.

You know, I can’t quite pinpoint when this transition took place or why it’s hit me especially hard this summer, but it has. God’s preparing my son for what lies ahead.

And He’s working on me too.

I’ve realized that I’ve got to adapt. I’ve got to begin to let go–to let him fly–little by little. I have to encourage my son’s independence and relinquish my attempts for the control I so desperately want to possess. I need to give him more space, just as I need to speak (a little bit) less and listen more.

It’s true. My son is pulling away. He’s desiring more freedom. He’s right smack in the middle of finding himself and his place in this world.

And I have to let him–whether I want to or not.

 Are you struggling with this too, friend? Has your son started pulling away…transforming into the young man God’s created him to be? Here’s what you can do:

Breathe. Our boys are changing into young men and it’s not an easy process for any of us. It’s a delicate balance. There’s a lot of emotion involved. Understand their need for more space. Listen to their hearts (when they choose to share). Allow them to breathe.

Adapt. I wasn’t informed how heart-wrenching this would be or how much I’d long for the days of old, but it is, and we must adapt. We need to embrace this new stage; try and relate to what they’re going through, and be there for them throughout this phase and beyond.

Trust. This metamorphosis (of sorts) is just the beginning. I know there’s a lot more to come and I know it’s going to be a struggle. This mama heart of mine may just break (in half) along the way. Even so, I’m going to ask God for help. I’m going to seek His counsel, pray (a lot), and trust in Him. Always.


Jenny-SulpizioJenny Lee Sulpizio is a wife to one, mom of three, and daughter of the most-high King, who tends to share (and possibly overshare) all things mama-related. To learn more about Jenny or to visit her blog, Mom on a Mission, head over to www.jennyleesulpizio.com

On This Day

Deborah.  Sarah.  Susan.  Hannah.  Abigail.

This list could be the names of your neighbors or the women on the snack rotation at school.  Prevalent first names that don’t decry importance or scream “look at me”.  What if I told you that these are the first names of women who changed history, yet you will probably never find their name penned in a history book.

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On July 4, 1776, 238 years ago, this great nation set out to define freedom for itself declaring its independence from Great Britain. Signed by fifty-six men, the  Declaration of Independence was penned and scripted from their passion and heartfelt desire “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” and for those beliefs they risked their own lives and walked the tenuous tightrope of treason.

Those same men whose weathered hands held quills daubed in ink to pen what would be our one of our nation’s most important historical documents were once cradled against a mother’s chest.  The very same hair which was covered by powdered wigs was also trimmed and saved by a mother’s caring hand.  The values and deep-seated beliefs that drove these men to throw off the bonds of tyranny and forge ahead into an unknown wilderness–the very bravery to stand and declare ‘Give me liberty or give me death,” knowing full well the mere utterance would be their last, was instilled and taught by the women who carried their weight in their womb and birthed them into a world without such freedoms.  

Could their mothers have known that the swell of their stomach carried the men that would one day change the world?  As they chased their chubby toddler legs and fit them for their first pair of breeches did their mothers wonder what their sons would be when they grew?  

think their mothers did wonder and I think that just like we do, they prayed for their sons.  

I’m sure they prayed for protection because the boys of the summer of 1776 probably got into mischief just like the boys of 2014 minus the internet and cars.  I wonder if they prayed for their sons to change the world or if they prayed to just make it through the next day.  I bet there were a few prayers of “Lord, how do I deal with his stubborn will?”  One would have to pray like that if your son would be the one to stare down the opposition, to draw a line in the sand and say, “Here and no further.”  

So today, on this celebratory day, I want to encourage you, mama.  Your prayers, your instruction, your patience, your love, can and will change the world.  Yours may not be the name googled so a blogger can write her post, but I promise, the name that was searched for will stand testament to your determination and dedication to raising your son.  Your prayers will be answered, not necessarily how you think they will be, but perhaps in even a greater way.  

So this Fourth of July, this our nation’s birthday, let’s resolve to continue to pray for our boys.  To take the stubborn will that makes us crazy, the determination that makes us want to beat our heads against the wall, the outgoing attitudes that make us cry and take it instead to the One who holds us, our boys, and our nation in His hands.  

Let’s join the ranks of the mothers from the past whose prayers on bended knee no doubt shaped the world we now enjoy.  

And those women–their sons were named George Washington, William Prescott, Paul Revere, and Patrick Henry…

How To Grow Spiritually By Doing Nothing

The trials came one by one, sneaking up on me, the proverbial optimist. It was clear to me that God wanted my attention. Job loss, medical issues, family estrangements, betrayal of friends, misunderstandings–they all began to pile up, knocking me down from the mountaintop headlong into a long and deep valley.

For years.

I hung onto my faith for dear life, believing that of course, “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” but the dawn was sure taking its sweet time.

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Was I missing something?

Was there a lesson that God was trying to teach me that I just was not getting? Did I need some major refinement and this was the only way?

I questioned God. Often.

The trials continued. I did grow in my faith both as a woman and a mother.

No major convictions rose to the surface that I felt I needed to deal with. So what in the world was going on here, God? Because every time I peek out the window the shards of light are not breaking through!

Darkness still.

And then a wise friend said something to me that took away all that anxiety. “If God wants to teach you something, Amber, He isn’t going to make it hard for you to figure out.”

Hmmm…that makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? God isn’t going to waste His time or mine with mysteries or veiled understandings. He wasn’t playing a game with me that I needed to try and determine what it was much less the rules and how to win. He has given me everything I need for life and Godliness.

I came away from that conversation with this verse rising to my mind:

“Be still and know that I am God…” Psalm 46:10a

How about you, Mom? Are you in a rut spiritually because of your trials? Like me, have you floundered about trying to sort it all out and become so focused on the “lesson” or “growth” you needed so you can escape it all that you may be missing the point entirely?

Sometimes, difficult circumstances are opportunities for God to prove His faithfulness.

Sometimes, we don’t need to figure it out or even make it about us, at all. I think that’s what Job might tell us.

Sometimes we grow in our faith by doing nothing but being still.

So I’m working on resting, which seems counter-productive, I know. Still, God’s ways are higher than mine and I’m growing in my faith by resting in Him. I don’t always have to be busy doing something to mature as a believer. Right now, it’s more about knowing than doing.

And in the peacefulness of letting my questions go, I’m finding that the light has been there all along, illuminating Christ before me and bringing the dawn.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

Study Questions:
1. Is there something that you keep trying to figure out in your life that you can release to the Lord?
2. What is the biggest obstacle in your life that prevents you from slowing down and being still before God?
3. What can you do today to “know” that He is God? If you are stuck, pray about it!

A Mother’s Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I know that you are God. Help me to be still and to have the assurance in my heart and mind that You are with me. Help me in my difficult circumstances to rest in You and to allow you to prove Your faithfulness to me instead of trying to figure it all out on my own. Thank you, God! In Jesus Name, Amen!

Amber lives in Southern California with her husband and 3 boisterous sons under the age of 6. She writes about faith and family from the perspective of a work-at-home mom, Hollywood producer and writer. You can follow her God-sized dream journey and their “Testoster-Home” at www.motherofknights.com.

How to Trust God

Today’s post is just a quick note from my heart to yours…


I really want to tell you it’s all going to be OK.

Truly, I want to look you in the eyes, maybe across a nice cup of coffee, and say, “my friend, God has your heart in his hands. He’s got this, He can take your truth, and He’s going to love you through whatever comes.”

I could say that, but for it to make a difference, you’d have to believe it was true, and you’d have to trust that God’s definition of “OK” is the best one for you.

God's definition of OK


So much of our experience of God, of life, depends on what we choose to believe is true.

It’s more than just important that we believe God at his word, it’s without a doubt the most important decision we’ll ever make. Why? Because that one decision—to say, “I believe you, God, even when my circumstances tell me something different”— is the foundation of every other decision we’ll make. It’s the decision that will make us or break us when the storms of life hit.

So today, as you face another day filled with the challenges and demands of motherhood, pray that God will give you the faith you need to trust him at his word. If you struggle to believe the Bible really applies to you, ask him to give you eyes to see it alive and active in your life. And if your current circumstances are threatening to completely overwhelm you, do what I do, and write out the truth on sticky notes and stick them all over your house ;)

God can make whatever you’re dealing with OK. Believe it.