When You Find That on Your Husband’s Phone

by Hal and Melanie Young | 5/19/2015 | 0 comments

It’s the conference season, so we’re all over the place speaking and talking to people. It’s an honor to hear their stories and to be invited into their lives. It’s also heartbreaking, sometimes. We think the hardest part is talking to those whose marriages are in trouble. The grief is palpable. They look broken, injured,…
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April 27th, 2015

Hope When You Feel Like a Homemaking Failure

by Hal and Melanie Young | 0 comments

Maybe I’m just a fail-sore (as my kids say), but there are days I don’t want to think about homemaking. Days I don’t want to even be at home in my house.

I remember reading The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer (Francis Schaeffer’s wife – and if you don’t know who he is, you ought to find out!) when I was a young married. It gave me a vision of homemaking as a ministry to my family. I wanted my home to be lovely, nurturing, inspiring – a homey home! 

Enter reality. We’ve had a few challenges. Cancer. Sick Children. Surgeries. Job issues. Business start-ups. Moves. Chronic illness. You name it, we’ve pretty much had it. Result? The house has suffered. A lot.

Then we started traveling to speak. Once we traveled a huge circle route around the U.S. Temperatures ranged from the thirties to the hundred and tens! We spoke at conferences and churches and camped. You can see where this is going. We got home with all our clothes dirty – winter and summer, dressy and grungy! For all of us! Can you imagine??


That’s been pretty hard for me to cope with. A messy house annoys me. It stresses me. It makes me feel like a failure. I’m beginning to learn a few important things, though.

Beating myself up until I’m grumpy and ill-tempered is counterproductive. No one is motivated by snide remarks and especially not children!

The children will remember the love and joy in our house far more than they will how neat – or not – it was. Really, holding the baby or reading to my young children or heart to hearts with the teens will do more to make our house homey than all the housework in the world.

That said, how do I get it done?

When I feel overwhelmed, I need to just start somewhere and get something clean. When even a small area is orderly, it gives me hope and makes it easier to do more!

When the children are overwhelmed, it helps to break it down into doable chunks. They’re a lot like me. It’s a lot easier to pick up 10 books, then 9 books, then 8 books, etc, then it is to face a big jumbled up room.

Many hands make light work. When you’re facing a tough situation, it helps sometimes to work together. It passes the time and keeps everyone’s spirits up.

Music or an audiobook can make the work more fun. Videos, though, just don’t work in my house. Our guys are too easily captivated even to fold clothes while watching something.

Ultimately, I’ve just got to lean into the crazy, as my friend, Rachael Carman says. Our lives don’t look like they’re going to get calmer any time soon, so I’ve just got to learn how to have a homey home in the midst of the chaos of life. That means letting go of my unrealistic Pinterest perfect expectations and figuring out what matters to us.

We’ll pick up and get caught up, but I don’t want to forget the things that matter the most of all to us: a Christ-centered home and lots of laughter and love. Chores and housework, cooking and cleaning, decorating and organizing are all important. But, they’re only one part of making a house a home. It’s the heart that matters. That’s why we’ve got to let go of the guilt, stress, and anger. Our families need an orderly home, but they need a happy mama even more!

So with you in this,Melanie Young Blues Tiny


 Find out more about the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle at our links here and here! Or, head on over to their site first and once you’ve bought, come back to sign up for either Boyhood Boot Camp or Marriage Retreat Online free!



April 26th, 2015

Not Just Tacos – Wow!

by Hal and Melanie Young | 0 comments


Not Just TacosA few months ago, our friend Shirley Solis gave us a copy of her new book, Not Just Tacos: A Journey into the World of Authentic Latin American Cuisine. I have pretty high standards for cookbooks. We have many of them, but just a few that we go to again and again: The Joy of Cooking, Mennonite Country-Style Recipes, our own Christ-Centered Christmas and We Gather Together. Not Just Tacos definitely measures up!

This is more than just a fantastic cookbook, full of delicious, authentic recipes from the Spanish-speaking countries of our hemisphere–it’s a travelogue, unit study, and guidebook to this fascinating part of the world!

Just as you might expect from a homeschool mom and the owner of Lifetime Books, this book is chock full of geography and culture, as well as recipes from 22 different countries! The photography is amazing, the instructions are clear and understandable. You could make a year’s worth of lessons out of this book, studying a new country every week or two and cooking an authentic meal for each one. Honestly, you are going to love this one!

AND YOU CAN GET IT FREE!! That’s right, free!

It’s just one of the wonderful resources available in this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, available just today and tomorrow!

Included in the Bundle, you’ll find our new book on marriage, My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses — winner of the 2015 Christian Small Publisher’s Book of the Year!

AND if you buy through our link, we’ll give you your choice of our popular Boyhood Boot Camp, a four-session webinar series for parents of boys up to nine or so,

Boot Camp Boyhood Pinnable

or Marriage Retreat Online, the only marriage retreat you don’t need a baby sitter for — it’s a webinar series, too!

Marriage Retreat Online Poster


All you have to do is click through to purchase the incredible Ultimate Homemaking Bundle through our site, here, and then come back and click here to let us know which webinar series you want! 

So, let’s see … You get Not Just Tacos, worth $9.99 in eBook, My Beloved and My Friend, worth $9.99 in eBook, one of our webinars worth at least $32 … and there you have over $50 of value, and the whole bundle costs only $29.97!

It’s only the beginning of what you get, too…. over $1000 worth of resources… Continue reading »

April 24th, 2015

Get One of Our Webinars Free — and Other Great Homemaking Resources for Only 30 Cents Each!

by Hal and Melanie Young | 0 comments

I remember several years ago when we were brainstorming what to ask in the annual survey North Carolinians for Home Education asked at our annual conference.

Hal said, “Let’s ask what causes the most stress for homeschool moms. Is it teaching math? Or struggling learners? Or worries about high school? Or what?”

Melanie stared at him until he said, “What is wrong with you?”

“What stresses homeschool moms? It’s the house, Hal! No survey needed!”

Homemaking isn’t easy. It’s really not easy when you are trying to run a school and nurture a family at the same time. Now add in a home business, like many of us, and that dream of a beautiful, welcoming, restful home threatens to turn into a nightmare.

And that’s why our friends Erin and Stephanie created the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle… because as rewarding as it is, homemaking is hard work and it doesn’t always come easily.

I can’t wait to tell you all about it! We like it so much, we’re going to give you a HUGE bonus just to help you tip the scales in favor of getting it…

To help you nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships with proven, simple, and effective tools that really give you a boost as a homemaker – help, inspiration, tips, encouragement, resources at your fingertips… Continue reading »

March 30th, 2015

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

by Hal | 0 comments

Cover - MBMFOur 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 we’d love to get your support!

Here’s how you can help:

2015 CSPA vote 21. Sign in on the voting page HERE


2. Scroll down to the Family and Relationships category – or CLICK HERE - and find My Beloved and My Friend (it’s at the bottom of the category)


3.  Click on the button to make your selection, then


4.  Scroll to the bottom (or CLICK HERE) and click to SUBMIT VOTES


But don’t delay – voting ends March 31! And thank you for your support!

Do you have a friend who could use a boost in their marriage? Do you have adult children who  could use a well-rounded, Biblical vision of what to look for and what they can build into a relationship? Maybe you wouldn’t mind some encouragement and perspective for yourself! My Beloved and My Friend – How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses is available in paperback, audiobook, and downloadable ebook and mp3 formats, too!

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. Continue reading »

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 »

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