Can We Get Your Vote for
My Beloved and My Friend?

by Hal | 3/30/2015 | 0 comments

Our book on marriage, My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses, is in the running for the Christian Small Publishers “Book of the Year” Award. This award is based on votes from publishers, booksellers, readers – anyone interested in promoting books from independent Christian publishers – and…
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March 16th, 2015

Coming of Age: What Would You Say To A Young New Adult?

by Hal | 0 comments

In our family, we believe it’s helpful to set a particular time in a young man’s life to begin transitioning him to adult roles. We talked about our reasons here, and explained who we involve in that formal time of recognition, here. (link)

Coming of Age 3 - pinterest

 

We want to impress on the young man that these new expectations and opportunities he will be experiencing are common to all men, not just the notions of his parents. It’s powerful to hear wisdom from many people, not just Mom and Dad, and it’s especially powerful when you hear the truth your parents have spoken being repeated in different words from a whole community.

The ceremony can take whatever form suits your sense of propriety and style. Some families have adopted symbolic rituals much like conferring knighthood on a squire, with the traditional accolade with a long sword which is them presented to the young man. (Historically, knighthood was sometimes conferred by the monarch approaching the candidate and sounding boxing his ears. We don’t recommend this practice!) Others have long periods of preparation and study with their sons memorizing passages of Scripture or catechisms, preparing a speech or message to deliver at the ceremony.

We use a less elaborate form, focusing on words of welcome, exhortation, and encouragement to the young man. In our ceremony, we invite several men of significance to the boy’s life to prepare short presentations about what it means to be a man. These will each focus on a character trait, some wisdom which the speaker has learned; we encourage the men we invite to think, “What do you wish you had known when you were 13?”

Coming of Age 3 - FB

We also encourage the men to bring an inexpensive item as an object lesson to illustrate their point. This can be a lot of fun for all concerned. Some examples we’ve seen:

= A man should be visionary, looking to the road ahead, and seeking insight where he doesn’t see it himself. The gift was a small pair of binoculars, a way for a hunter to see his quarry far off; in the same way, a man should seek ways and counselors to help him understand what lies ahead.

= A man’s gifts and skills can be used constructively, to build and to beautify useful objects. The same skills can be abused, though, and turned into destructive ends. The gift was an antique carpenter’s plane from a relative’s collection of handmade tools.

= A man should be prepared for all kinds of situations. The gift was a folding multi-tool, as an example of an easily-carried solution for many unexpected needs.

In our family, the culminating presentation is always given by Hal, encouraging our son to be a faithful student of God’s word, looking to the Bible for God’s wisdom and direction in every part of life. The gift here is a leather-bound study Bible of the sort both parents have used for years. This actually is a follow up to an earlier gift – when each of our children has learned to read, we celebrated that achievement with a large-print presentation Bible of their own. The inexpensive Bible we give then recognizes that young children can be pretty careless with their belongings; by the time they’re 13, usually the old Bible is pretty worn, and a high-quality replacement has double meaning to them!

Next: Who Should Speak To The Next Young Man?

Your friends,Hal and Melanie SugarLoaf Web (c)2009
Hal & Melanie

March 9th, 2015

Coming of Age: The Value of Ceremony

by Hal | 0 comments

People often ask if we’d describe what we do for a coming-of-age ceremony with our boys. Surely with six boys we’ve done something of the sort … and the answer would be, “Yes, indeed!”

Coming of Age Ceremonies

You’ve probably heard of the Jewish “Bar Mitzvah” tradition – where a Jewish boy is officially welcomed to adult status in the synagogue and the community. The term means “Son of the Law” so technically, it’s the person who’s the “bar mitzvah,” not the ceremony. But at that time, the young man is invited to play a part in the synagogue meetings, counts as one of the men for the minyan or synagogue quorum, and is responsible for his own faithfulness towards God.

We think there’s some value to this. Psychologists Joseph and Claudia Allen, in their book Escaping the Endless Adolescence, relate that many in their field are saying that the time of adolescence now continues into the early thirties, and “Twenty-five is the new fifteen.” Sadly, the level of maturity we used to see in teenagers is all that is expected of twenty-somethings today. (<–Click to tweet this!)

We thought it made better sense to call our sons to step up for more adult responsibility rather than settle back for an extended childhood mentality. Where the Bible speaks about “youth” and “youthfulness,” it often describes adult roles in the same context – the giant Goliath was a warrior from his youth, men are encouraged to rejoice in the wife of one’s youth, God blesses the children of one’s youth, and a missionary pastor in a pagan culture – Timothy – is counseled to not let anyone look down on his youthfulness. Being youthful doesn’t have to mean being childish and irresponsible (though there are examples of that in Scripture, too), but apparently Biblical youthfulness is a time which extends well into young adulthood.

So when our sons turn 13, we hold a ceremonial welcome to young adulthood, and throw a celebration alongside. Just like the bar mitzvah tradition, it’s a time both serious and joyful. However, as Christians we are not under law, but under grace, and since we hope that our sons are growing in the knowledge and experience of God’s grace, we call our celebration a “Bar Chanon”, or “Son of Grace” ceremony.

In keeping with that recognition of grace, not law, we have to interject here that there is no commandment to have such an observance. The Bible mentions at times that there are milestones in life and suggests that at some time, a young man should be respected as an adult and able to take on adult responsibility. But whether you observe this transition in a formal way, or choose to ignore it as an occasion, you’re at liberty – if you decide to do something to mark the occasion, you can include all kinds of things in your celebration.

NEXT: Who We Invite

Yours,Hal and Melanie SugarLoaf Web (c)2009

Hal & Melanie 


Do you have a pre-teen son? Are you looking forward to the teen years … with fear and dismay?

Or do you have a vision for something more than a sullen, rebellious, hormone-driven slacker?

You might enjoy our workshop, Skipping Adolescence! We don’t accept the conventional idea that all teenagers are simply doomed to be trouble at home and brainless abroad. This workshop session talks about creating and building a new vision for young adulthood – from recognizing the transition from childhood to something more, to dealing with low expectations, cultivating a standard of excellence, and drawing out the young man in your teenaged son. Order below and download it today!

 

March 6th, 2015

Man Food: Pig Picking Cake

by Hal and Melanie Young | 0 comments

This is a super-fast, super-yummy, super-easy fancy cake. It’s called a Pig Picking Cake (or Pig Pickin’) because this is the dessert traditionally served at a Pig Picking here in Eastern North Carolina. A Pig Picking is a huge outdoor party where the main attraction is a whole pit-cooked pig (or one cooked in a cooker made out of a huge iron pipe or barrel cut in half and hinged to make the biggest grill you’ve ever seen.).

The meat is pulled off and seasoned with a peppery vinegar sauce. We eat slaw, boiled potatoes, Brunswick Stew (a spicy, tomatoey stew with veggies, chicken and pork), and corn sticks (cornbread fried in long narrow stick-shapes) or hush puppies with it. Fried chicken and fried pork skins are sometimes served, too. Sweet tea is de rigueur. Sweet tea so sweet hummingbirds will choose it over the flowers.

RRM Pig Picking Cake

For dessert, you’ll often find Pig Picking Cake. It’s a citrusy, light-tasting dessert that is just perfect after barbecue. Honestly, you’ll love it and so will your guys. Here’s how to do it:

Pig Picking Cake

1 yellow cake mix

1 15oz can of mandarin oranges, don’t drain them

4 eggs

1/2 cup oil (I’ll bet coconut oil would be yummy in this. I think I’ll try it next time!)

For the topping/filling:

1/2 pint heavy whipping cream (okay, you can get 8oz of whipped topping, if you must)

1 can crushed pineapple, don’t drain this, either

1 small box of vanilla pudding mix, the instant kind

Dump the cake mix, mandarin oranges (oranges, juice or syrup and all), the eggs, and oil in a bowl and mix well. Spread in three buttered round 8″ or 9″ cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees until a straw stuck in the top comes out pretty clean. Baked goods are usually about done when you can smell them cooking. :-)  Invert onto a plate, then invert again until top up on a plate. Let cool completely.

Whip the whipping cream (or defrost the whipped topping, but really you ought to try it with real whipped cream!). Mix the pineapple (juice and all) with the pudding mix until well mixed and beginning to thicken. Fold the whipped cream (or stuff in a tub) together with the pudding until it is one color. Spread about a fourth on the top of one layer of cake, top with another layer and repeat, top with another layer and the rest of the topping. Slice and serve. SO delicious!

This is a great dessert after any heavy meal or for a summer treat. Enjoy!

Your friends,Hal and Melanie SugarLoaf Web (c)2009

Hal & Melanie

 

March 4th, 2015

Save on Hotels with Christian Hospitality Networks

by Hal and Melanie Young | 0 comments

We travel a lot. No, really, a LOT. As authors and speakers, we’re on the road more months than we’re home now.

We used to picture speakers as those glamorous people who flew in to the conference, stayed in the nicest rooms, and had everything taken care of. Then we became speakers. We didn’t want to leave our children behind while we flew around the country. We weren’t willing to lose our own children while helping other people to do a better job raising theirs.

Conferences, though, just aren’t going to pay for a speaker’s whole family to come, so that meant we had to make it work on our own. Forget flying, we’d drive. And driving meant a lot more time in travel. And that meant lodging along the way. Lodging we had to pay for.

Frugal Travel Christian Hospitality

Hotel rooms every night will eat up your budget pretty quickly, so we had to find an alternative. In the summer, we could throw our tents and sleeping bags in the cargo trailer and camp, but that doesn’t work so well in Indiana, Iowa, and North Dakota in March (where we’ll be this month!). Just no. This Southern blood is too thin for that.

Instead, we stay with other believers. We’re members of a couple of Christian hospitality networks that help us find families willing to host us for a night. Continue reading »

February 25th, 2015

Being a Boy Mom or Boy Dad!

by Hal | 0 comments

People sometimes ask how we came to write and speak about raising boys. The answer is easy – we have six of them.

“Six boys!” the people at the checkout line say in mock horror. “Yes!” we say, and smile warmly. “Well, better you than me,” they conclude, shaking their heads. To be fair, not everyone reacts this way. Some cultures seem to place a special value on sons, like our Kenyan-born obstetrician, or the Hispanic families we meet at the store. We hear them counting quietly under their breath — “ … cuatro — cinco — seis niños!” and when Melanie turns around and confirms, “Sí, seis niños!” — nearly the total of her Spanish vocabulary — there are smiles all around.

Boys Boyhood Boot Camp Is It Them or Is It Me

Too often, though, we hear the negative wisecracks from our fellow Americans, and far too often, from our fellow Christians. We have a few snappy comebacks of our own if someone is remarkably crude, but usually we try to answer with grace and cheerfulness. We defend our decision to have a large family and we especially express our happiness to be the parents of many sons. The world pities us, but God says He has blessed us. Why, in the Old Testament God gave Heman fourteen sons to exalt him (1 Chronicles 25:5). We stand up to the world’s attitudes and smart remarks with confidence.

But back at home, privately, we admit to ourselves it’s not always rosy. The jokes sometimes have an element of truth to them. Yes, teenaged boys can put away a startling amount of groceries. Young boys can be downright destructive. They tend to be noisy at any age. They seem utterly unconcerned with personal hygiene. The dog has a longer attention span for schoolwork. Worse, they seem to come forth at birth with a chip on their shoulder. They are combative, aggressive, arrogant. They seem obsessed with power — whether powerful machines, powerful weapons, or personal power they can exert over people and things. They love to build things but have a perverse delight in tearing them down, and if fire and explosion come into the mix, surely boy-nirvana is close at hand. The older bullies the younger; the younger schemes to entrap the older; the middle son plays two ends against the middle for the joy of ratting out both of them. The youngest are like bantam roosters, strutting and   posturing; they grow into wild bulls, crushing china, furniture, and family members without even noticing the havoc in their wake.

Or so it seems, some days.

Continue reading »

February 19th, 2015

Hey Mom! Watch This!

by Hal | 0 comments

RRM Boyhood Boot Camp TubingYoung men have a tremendous desire to try their strength and to be tested in return. This is integral to their competitive nature, but let’s take a look at how it impacts their interaction with the real world, not the contrived world of competitions.

Adults sometimes equate a desire for adventure with immaturity and recklessness. The Bible makes a distinction and so should we. Continue reading »

February 17th, 2015

When Should You Get Your Kids Their Driver’s License?

by Hal | 0 comments

Drivers License BlogWhen we were teenagers, we couldn’t wait to get our driver’s license. It was a step toward adulthood, and we were eager to have the independence that driving represented. All our friends felt the same way, and our parents encouraged it.

Recently, though, we’ve been hearing something which frankly surprised us.

We were listening to a discussion of homeschool graduates in their twenties, and one mentioned matter-of-factly that when he founded his own business in a city 800 miles from home, his father had to give him a ride to his new apartment because he didn’t have a driver’s license. And we’ve heard parents saying they really didn’t think their kids needed to drive “before they’re 18 or 20,” and some who hesitate to teach their daughters to drive at all.

We don’t think this is the norm in the homeschooling community. Most of the people we’ve talked with about it have followed the traditional course – their 15- and 16-year-olds took Driver’s Ed, got their learner’s permit, and their license followed. But this course of actively discouraging young drivers is new to us. Continue reading »

February 16th, 2015

Celebrate Presidents Day with a Free Download!

by Hal | 0 comments

Presidents Day Promo

Here’s a neat resource you can download for free and share with your sons in honor of Presidents Day — examples from the lives of great men who have led our country!

Several years before he became our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt and his friend Henry Cabot Lodge wrote a collection of stories to teach character and patriotism to children. Their book Hero Tales From American History was meant

“to tell in simple fashion the story of some Americans who knew how to live and how to die; who proved their truth by their endeavor; and who joined to the stern and manly qualities … the virtues of gentleness, of patriotism, and of lofty adherence to an ideal.”

For Presidents Day, why not take a new look at the lives of our presidents? Continue reading »

February 13th, 2015

A Question About Fifty Shades of Grey

by Hal and Melanie Young | 0 comments

This morning a friend asked, “Do you think I should watch Fifty Shades of Grey with my teen and talk about it?” 

We’re not as strict on media as some are. We think there’s some value in watching things you don’t agree with and analyzing and discussing them with your teens. Sometimes, though, there’s more harm than good in a media choice.

We speak about purity and internet porn and we just finished the manuscript for a book for single guys about these things. In our research, we found some pretty concerning things.

There’s a disturbing change going on in our culture. Internet porn has become a huge influencer of young men. Most (really almost all) boys are exposed to porn before they’re 18. That’s bad enough. Internet porn, though, provokes a dopamine cycle (affiliate) that tempts users to seek out more and worse things in order to get the same thrill. Because of that (and the sinfulness of man, of course), perversion is everywhere out there. 88% of porn contains physical aggression. It’s even reaching young people – 23% of girls and 39% of boys have viewed sexual bondage. (Covenant Eyes Porn Stats, affiliate link)

One sad effect of all this is that there is a big disconnect between what young men of marriageable age  think is a normal sexual relationship and what young women of that age do. The aggression, humiliation, and perversion of porn is affecting the expectations couples bring to marriage.

RRM Fifty Shades and Christian Parenting

Now, we’re being invited to watch a movie that glorifies aggression, bondage, humiliation, and pain in sexuality. Is that something a Christian should do? Continue reading »

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