Coming of Age: 4. Who Should Speak To The Next Young Man?

by Hal | 6/29/2015 | 0 comments

We have a tradition of a formal coming-of-age ceremony we call a “Bar Chanon.”  This can take all kinds of forms but centers on a serious call to embrace the next stage of life for the young man. We think it’s only natural for the young man to be welcomed into the community by the voices…
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June 24th, 2015

Coming of Age Ceremonies 3. 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

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 »

June 23rd, 2015

Coming of Age Ceremonies 2. Who We Invite

by Hal | 0 comments

We described the idea of a formal coming-of-age ceremony here. We’ve done this with all six of our sons, and in a few years we’ll consider how to celebrate our eldest daughter!

Coming of Age 2 - pinterest

One of the earliest questions to answer is the form the ceremony should take … and therefore, who to invite? Since we’re totally at liberty about this, we have both the freedom and the responsibility to consider this question for ourselves.

Many cultures around the world have initiation rituals. Frequently they are designed for the men of the family and tribe to take the young man (or groups of young men) away from the home community and conduct their ceremonies in a male-only environment. After all, the focus is on the transition from boyhood to manhood, and what is more natural than surrounding the young candidate with the men whose world he’s about to enter?

Some families we know make it more intimate, where Dad will take his son away for a one-on-one retreat. This can take widely different forms. One father we know works in upper levels of corporate management; for his sons, the event is a trip to an upscale, out-of-town hotel, much like the world he experiences in his work life. On this business trip, the only business is that of father and son. Another friend goes the opposite direction. This father takes his sons to a wilderness area where they camp, canoe, hike, and explore the natural world, between times of discussion and prayer. In their family, it’s like Jesus bringing His disciples out to a remote area for the same kind of intense fellowship between the Teacher, the disciple, and their God.

Coming of Age 2 - fb

We take a different approach. Although we also invite the men of our family and church to bring a message and welcome to the young man at the center, we make the event a family occasion, with all ages and generations eagerly welcomed. For us, it’s important to make a public profession of the new expectations being assumed by this young man, and the change in status we are now conferring. Though he’ll always be one of our “boys,” we won’t be referring to him along with the “little ones” and “kids.” We want others to hold him to account–and keep us accountable as well—and encourage him to embrace his new role, and everyone to recognize the change in status.

NEXT: What Do You Say To A Young New Adult?

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

May 19th, 2015

When You Find That on Your Husband’s Phone

by Hal and Melanie Young | 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, hurt.

Many of these stories start the same: A crying wife tells us she found out her husband was using porn. What comes next varies, but it usually ends with a marriage broken or in trouble. That’s no surprise, since porn use is adultery. Yes, it is. The Lord said in Matthew 5:27-28,  “You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” That’s not debatable, it’s not opinion, it’s the Word of God. Looking with lust is a sin against God, breaking one of the Ten Commandments, and it is a sin that attacks the very heart of your marriage.

So, what do you do? How do you respond if you find out your husband’s been watching porn?

When You Find That on Your Husbands Phone Pin

First, stop and pray. Take the time to remember that we are ALL sinners, every one. “For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It hurts. You feel betrayed. But, at the root, this is a sin against God like all others.

Read this. It’s called Porn and Your Husband and it’s from our friends at Covenant Eyes, the internet accountability people. They deal with this every day. This resource will help you to understand that your husband’s sin is not your fault, but that he’s going to need your help to get out of it and to restore your marriage. It’s a great road map to figuring out how to respond now and in the weeks to come.

Think through your goal. You’re probably furious. It’s understandable, that’s for sure, but James 1 tells us, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” If our anger doesn’t work righteousness, we’ve got to find another way to respond, something else to do, other than just lash out at our mate. It’s tempting to just walk (or run!) away, but, especially if you have children, you’ve got to think through the consequences. Here’s an Open Letter to Parents Considering Divorce we wrote that you might want to read. Ultimately, the goal should be repentance and restoration, but you can’t do that alone!

Speak the truth in love. You need to confront your husband with his sin. You may be tempted to scream and holler and throw things. Honestly, we would be, too. Back to that verse in James, though. Can’t do it. The Word of God tells us our anger won’t work. Instead, we suggest you approach him in sorrow and humility, “Honey, I really, really love you. That’s why this upsets me so much. I’ve found out that you are watching porn on the internet. The Lord says, “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” I am hurt and I feel betrayed. I’m worried about you, too. Adultery is one of the Ten Commandments. I don’t want you to be in sin against God. How can I help you stop this? I want to save our marriage!”

When Your Husband is Looking at That

Be prepared for lies, deception, and accusations. Sex is private anyway. Add in: “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil,” and you have a recipe for deceit. Suggest that if it’s not true, that you put some accountability on all the internet devices in the family so you can find out what is happening (It may actually be your child, even a young one. People are writing us about 7-9 year olds found on porn!) We use Covenant Eyes. You can try it for a month free if you use our link (Make that TWO MONTHS FREE if you sign up through our link by 6/21).  And really, whether or not you have a problem in the house, you need some accountability on the internet.

Let go of undeserved guilt and shrug off accusations. Hear us: This. Is. Not. Your. Fault. There is no excuse for sin. Even if you have sinned against your husband, that does not excuse his sin in any way. And you probably didn’t. Porn use causes a dopamine cycle addiction similar to that of a heroin addict or alcoholic. If you offer an alcoholic a delicious glass of milk, it’s not going to keep him from going for the liquor, no matter how satisfying and nutritious the milk is. He needs to repent so he can begin to enjoy what God has created for him to enjoy again.

Be as understanding as you can manage. Porn users can experience impotence and sexual dysfunction that can trash a guy’s self-esteem. He’s going to need a lot of encouragement to break this sin and addiction. That’s a LOT to ask for someone whose self-esteem has been trashed by the whole thing, too, but God can give us amazing grace. Ask Him for help. And know you have our utmost respect for fighting for your marriage!

Get help. Go to the pastors/elders of your church or ask an older, godly couple for help. Your husband needs accountability beyond you. If you don’t get help from the first people you approach, keep looking. Some people are dealing with their own sin and can’t help you. Find someone who can.

Have hope. We know couples that have beat this, even when it’s gone to physical adultery. With true repentence and a lot of love and forgiveness, it’s possible not just to get your marriage back, but to build a better one. Remember, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9) Jesus’ blood covers this, too. And He can “restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.”

Please, Lord, bring the sinner to repentance and give grace for forgiveness to their mate. Please restore this marriage.

Related Resources: For more on this difficult subject, plus lots of help on how to handle conflict and how to restore your marriage, get our book, My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses. It’s available in a His & Hers Special with an audiobook for the guy to listen to on the commute and a book for his wife to read in the bathroom. :-)

Your friends,Hal and Melanie Winter Full Cropped 

Hal & Melanie

Note: There are affiliate links in the post, but we recommended Covenant Eyes for years before they offered to bless us in this way.

 Get 60 days FREE of Covenant Eyes protection when you go there through our link by May 21st.

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 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


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