March 4th, 2015
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.
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
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.
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
Young 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 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
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
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.
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 »
February 10th, 2015
The changeover to Obamacare was a tough one for us. Insurance through our small business became impossibly expensive – three times the cost of our mortgage! We checked into alternatives at the Marketplace, but we fell in the gap and healthcare there was impossibly expensive, too.
With trepidation, we decided to try one of the Christian healthcare sharing ministries. We had friends who loved them, but we had pre-existing conditions and were worried about going with something that didn’t cover those. Seeing no alternative, though, we joined Samaritan Ministries a year ago. At least we wouldn’t have to pay a fine for not having insurance. Samaritan members are exempt.
We were surprised by how satisfying it was to send our monthly share to another Christian family in need directly. Knowing where it was going and being able to send them encouragement and pray for them made it turned an obligation into a pleasure. It was great knowing that our money wasn’t paying for things we didn’t want to support, too. Unbelievably, two different months when claims were lower than usual, they reduced our share! Continue reading »
January 29th, 2015
It came up on Facebook again today. What do you do when you find your child has been sexting? It’s nauseating to even think about it, isn’t it? Awhile back, I was shocked when one of my friends told me she’d found a series of explicit texts on her son’s phone, but now we’re hearing about it all the time.
It’s way easier to head this stuff off beforehand than it is to pick up the pieces afterward, so let’s talk about how to address this with our kids.
When do you need to talk about it?
Continue reading »
January 13th, 2015
This year’s flu season is a doozy! Most of the families we know have had it and the rest are scared to death they are going to get it.
We’ve found that times of sickness can bring out the worst in everyone — OR they can be workshops of grace! How can you make it that way? How can you make memories and build unity instead of ending up all over everyone’s nerves? This week’s podcast is about just that. Listen here.
Hal & Melanie