I’ve often heard it asserted that there’s no way a Christian should ever be depressed, and that if you are, it’s a sinful state of mind and you need to repent. Is this true? Or is it just one of many conditions of life we experience, and in which we can live and walk to the glory of God?
Funny, I never hear anyone ask, “How can you be a happy Christian in this world, and not be in sin? In a wicked, troubled world like this – I mean, how could you be right to be content and happy?” Of course we don’t ask that. So why do we ask it – or worse, just assert it to be so – about depression?
It seems to me we haven’t taken seriously the many conditions the Scriptures show godly men and women going through. They are described as everything from “cast down” to “crushed”; distressed, grieved, lowly, broken-hearted, mourning and sorrowful, undone and “Woe is me!” – it sounds like an experience of some sort of depression is pretty common among people who know the Lord.
Depression’s causes are likewise numerous: deferred hopes and ambitions; situations that never get better; heart-crushing problems that turn into lengthy trials that just won’t ever go away; severe mental or physical strains that tax our humanity and health, robbing us of sleep and sapping our strength. But sometimes, we can just get depressed because God is at work in our lives, humbling us and sanctifying us.
None of us wants to stay depressed. How do you pull out? The longer a time of depression goes on, the more earnest we become to find a way out, and sometimes that earnestness turns into a desperation that goes looking in the wrong places. Some turn to isolation; some turn to bed; some turn to alcohol or drugs; some turn to people instead of isolation (too many people); some turn to sex; some turn away from God. Some turn to God.
How will you, in a time of depression, make the correct turn? Here are a few proposals that I know have helped others. Not a comprehensive to-do list, because I know that the last thing you feel capable of when depressed is something to do. You yearn more to be delivered or rescued! I’ve found that, on the track of these ideas, the Lord has rescued many.
Because the key is Him – turning to Him. If you’re embittered at Him, letting anger get a foothold in your heart because you’re depressed, you’re not going to turn to Him. So you won’t find the powerful Deliverer you need. Calm yourself with the realization, “My anger at Him does not solve anything; it alienates me from Him and keeps me from trusting the One who can help me.” If you do get angry with Him, you always take it back in repentance later anyway, right? So what’s the point? Know that, while I don’t understand at all now what He is doing, a big step one is to not turn bitterly away from the God that I must cling to for help at this time.
2. Believe That God’s Plan of Suffering to Make You Christ-like is a Good Thing
When suffering stuns us, pause and face that biblically evident fact again: God’s plan is to make me like Christ, and that will include suffering, just as it did in His life. You and I have no conception of how much suffering it takes to transform us to only be even a little like Christ.
3. Don’t Settle for Any Single Answer
Depression begs and screams for an answer. The depressed heart yearns for something to solve the problem. And that makes you susceptible to hastily grasp an answer and settle too easily, thinking “That’s it! This is why I’m down.” Be patient. Go ahead and grab it – but keep looking. Take each idea that seems to be The Answer prayerfully before the Lord and ask for wisdom, to see if it’s really as helpful as it sounds. For instance, a change of diet or exercise may make a difference – but you also may need to address that strained relationship you haven’t made efforts to reconcile. Or, maybe you have taken those steps, but ignored some sin in your life that you know in your heart is to blame. The point is, our quest to find one specific cause might not help; it may be several features of life simultaneously.
4. If You Need Household Help, Humble Yourself and Call Out for It
Too many homeschool moms simply bear too much of the load themselves at home while other family members aren’t taking part in the work. Make sure your child training includes having your children learn to serve others, taking on a fair share of the work load. Identify chores or tasks that would take a load off you and get children to do them; even graciously ask your husband if there are areas he would take on for you, if that’s a possibility.
5. Find New Ways to Serve
This may sound like the contradiction of the previous point, but the remedies to depression can be both remarkable and unexpected. Being overwhelmed with too much to do can be part of the cause (draining you) but likewise, being too wrapped up in your own world and not serving others can also be part of the cause (leaving us dissatisfied with life that seems empty). One of the best benefits of being freed up from some household tasks (by having others do more of a part) is, it can free you up to minister to others in fresh and satisfying ways. Maybe delivering meals to that elderly family; making time to be mentored by that older woman (or being a mentor); or participating in some church ministry team.
6. Wallow in the Word — Nourish, Don’t Just Read or Study
We sometimes find ourselves in a spiritually weak or low condition because we have tended to limit our diet of the Word too much; and we often focus only on the points we like or prefer. We overdose on certain truths in the Word while others are totally neglected.
When you’re down, you definitely don’t just need short devotions – that is, little Bible snippets (often verses out of context). But you may not need intensive, in-depth Bible study either! You’re just not mentally up to that. Here is something you do need: every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Try soaking in long portions of Scripture. Find everything you possibly can for your faith to grasp onto; to find it, I suggest you devour the Word in great volume. Read long sections without studying them – just hose yourself down in the Word. You’ll find truths, perspectives, insights, and help you have ignored for a long time.
7. Get Outside!
This won’t be for everybody (there are people who don’t enjoy the great outdoors much … Ok, I don’t understand those people). You may like it more than you think, if you get out into it. You don’t need to walk a trail, explore a cave or get on a surfboard – just find a pretty nearby park, maybe even a spot on your own property, to sit outside and rest. Enjoy God’s gifts. Charles Spurgeon said “Next to our need for the Word of God is a need to feel a blast of cold air in your face off the lake.”
This is so different than the shallowness of “I need a vacation!” No – you don’t need a long break. You need regular breaks.
There’s a lot more to be said on this subject than this brief post can provide. Seek help from the body of Christ – your church. There are sure to be others there who have been through depression, and God comforts each of us in our afflictions, 2 Corinthians 1 says, “so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
Dennis Gundersen is president & owner of Grace & Truth Books, a publisher of 75 Christian titles including many reprints of children’s books from past centuries. He is author of two books: Your Child’s Profession of Faith and Courtship & Dating: So What’s the Difference?, and served as pastor of two Tulsa churches from 1984-2009. Dennis is a frequently sought-after speaker for church conferences, men’s retreats, and homeschool conventions. He and his wife Naomi have been married for 40 years and have four adult sons.]]>
Scroll down for our Independence Day gift for you!
Is it even okay for a Christian to celebrate Independence Day? We’ve heard Christians arguing that we should not because the American Revolution was a rebellion. Is that true? That’s certainly the way King George saw it, but that’s not what the Christians of the day thought. They argued that since the signing of the Magna Charta, Britain had been a nation ruled by laws, not a man. King George had violated those laws that even he was subject to, that he had broken his side of the governing covenant and the Colonies were free to leave. They believed they were loyal to a higher authority than King George.
We would love to share our Independence Day Celebration Guide with you! It has the documents, songs, verses, and recipes you need to celebrate with your family in a way that you can feel good about! Sign up for our encouraging newsletter below and we’ll take you right there!]]>
1. Go outside. Turn off the devices and get moving. You’ll feel better, have more fun and be more imaginative, children of mine!
2. Somersaults. The secret to somersaults is to tuck your chin. Tell them, “Tuck your chin right down on your chest. Now, close your mouth. Roll, baby, roll!” It’s easy and fun and hard to hurt yourself if you just tuck your head down.
3. Sprinkler fun. Put on old clothes or swimsuits, set up a sprinkler and run over and through it!
4. Popsicles. If you must, make them yourself, but every child ought to try those old-fashioned straight-line cheapo ones. They’re just fun.
5. Play Pretend. We used to climb in the old bass boat under my grandfather’s carport and pretend we were customs agents, explorers, fishermen, ferry operators, wildlife agents, and more.
6. Bike-riding. If you can’t afford bikes, check out yard sales, craigslist, and thrift stores.
7. Build forts in the hedges. Keep some old sheets on hand for this kind of thing. I remember how much fun it was to find a tree or hedge that had a secret open place on the inside. Take some treats in there and have a picnic or rubberband guns and have a war!
8. Climb a tree. The world looks different from up there. Take a book in your back pocket and you can really go on an adventure.
9. Build a treehouse. You can do a lot with scrap lumber, a hammer, and some long nails.
10. Have an imaginary battle. Be the Secret Service and hunt down a ring of counterfeiters. Pretend you’re George Washington and fight the Redcoats.
11. Pick berries. Some of our earliest memories are picking strawberries and blueberries and popping them straight into our mouths. Of course, the bigger kids and parents can pick to take home!
12. Draw your own comic book.
13. Make rubberband guns. Or, order some rubberband machine guns and have an epic battle.
14. Go swimming. Or, learn to swim. Every single member of your family should learn how to swim. It’s a safety issue. If they’re too young, they need to wear a life jacket around water. Here’s a podcast of ours that may help.
15. Go fishing.
16. Make a movie. Friends of Hal’s mom invite all the cousins over in the summer and they make an epic movie. Once they bought two old satellite dishes and put them together to make a flying saucer.
17. Dig a hole.
18. Make real lemonade. All you need: lemons, sugar, and water.
19. Make a matchbox town out of a pile of dirt.
20. Design a house. Use pinestraw to lay out the walls.
21. Build a model railroad.
22. Shelter. Build a shelter out of umbrellas or tarps and sit outside while it’s raining. You can put a rock in the corner of a tarp and tie a string around it outside the tarp, then use the string to hang the tarp from trees or fences. (Cheaper alternative, but won’t last – plastic tablecloths from the dollar store.)
23. Eat watermelon. This is especially wonderful served on a dock while you stand in the Lake. No worries about the juice!
24. Build a catapult.
25. Build a dinosaur out of paper mache’. Then write a script and make a movie about him.
26. Learn the constellations.
27. Camp in the backyard.
28. Grow something. Tomatoes or bell peppers are easy.
29. Sleep under the stars in a hammock or sleeping bag.
30. Wash the car.
31. Wax the car.
32. Teach the dog to fetch.
33. Make paper airplanes.
34. Run races.
35. Have swimming races.
36. Play board games.
37.Make homemade ice cream.
38. Invent a board game.
39. Repaint your own bed room.
40. Learn a new craft. Last year, our boys learned how to make chain mail with these kits.
41. Build a boat. This is not as hard as it sounds. We’ve built four boats!
42. Make up a crazy story about something in your yard. Maybe that mud puddle is really a giant footprint!
43. Gather lightning bugs.
44. Shoot off fireworks or firecrackers. Of course, this isn’t legal everywhere. Obey the law. Only kids old enough to do this safely should try this one. Younger kids can do poppers and string fire-crackers.
45. Finger paint.
46. Play hide and go seek.
47. Eat lunch outside.
48. Learn to grill.
49. Build a dam across a stream. Take it down when you’re done.
50. Learn more about God. Read your Bible. Read a great book like Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Learn some hymns or songs. Ask your parents and grandparents about how they became Christians.
51. Put up a tire swing.
52. Go rock hunting.
53. Go wildflower hunting.
54. Start an insect collection.
55. Hatch a brood of chickens. Your cooperative extension agent will often provide the incubators and the eggs, and take the baby chickens back when you’re done.
56. Build a shed.
57. Listen to a great audiobook while you fold clothes and make your mama happy.
58. Pretend your house is a spaceship or Noah’s ark. This works best in the rain.
59. Build a fire. Try to do it with a magnifying glass first. Or, try rubbing two sticks together (this is way easier with a bow-type arrangement). Clearly, younger kids need supervision and older ones, wisdom.
60. Make S’mores.
61. Roast a hotdog on a stick.
62. Choose an ambitious reading project. The whole Lord of the Rings series. The whole New Testament. Read a whole series of something. Read every book in the library by your favorite author.
63.Be the chef. Cook all three meals for your family. My kids can do this by nine or ten, really anyone ought to be able to by 11 or 12. Older kids can do something more ambitious – cook a new recipe from scratch or try a new ethnic food.
64. Omelets. Kids that can make good omelets get invited to cook a lot. This is a good thing for a growing, hungry boy who wants protein!
65. Make gas. Put a few inches of vinegar in the bottom of a two liter and quickly add baking soda and stretch a balloon across the top. Shake it up and watch the balloon inflate. This is why you burp when you take an antacid.
66. Turn a box into a house. If you see a big box by the side of the road, grab it and cut side-ways H’s to make windows that close. Use crayons to draw bushes and flowers on the outside. Give it to a preschooler or toddler to play in.
67. Learn how to sword fight. You can start with sticks (make sure they aren’t sharp), or make your own from wood or foam, but for best results, use training swords.
68. Have a water balloon fight.
69. Play horseshoes.
70. Lay on the couch and look up at the ceiling. Imagine what it would be like to walk on the ceiling. For some reason, we did this a lot as kids.
71. Build a bird feeder and try to identify the birds that come.
72. Build a scratching post for your cat from scrap wood and carpet.
73. Learn to knit or crochet. There are lots of instructional videos online.
74. Have a tea party.
75. Write a short story. Who knows, it might one day become a book or even a series of books like the Promised Land series. Hope started it by writing a short story about what it was like to be a slave in ancient Egypt when she was 13.
76. Learn to play spades, hearts, or another card game.
77. Learn about heraldry and make up a coat of arms for your family.
78. Take up wood-burning. Make a gift for someone, a treasure box for yourself, or burn your new coat of arms. Here’s a kit you can start with.
79. Play in the rain. Put on old clothes and play outside when it is really pouring rain. So much fun. Don’t track mud in the house, though.
80. Bake a cake, make cookies, or make some other snack for the family.
81. Make a train out of laundry baskets. Pretend it’s taking you somewhere amazing.
82. Make a salt dough map or sculpture. Use two parts flour to one part salt and one part water.
83. Fold paper boats and test them out.
84. Hang a sheet over your bed and pretend it’s a stagecoach.
85. Have a shooting contest with foam dart guns or rubberband guns. Targets make this much more fun.
86. Freeze ripe bananas for fast, healthy popsicles.
87. Pick flowers and make a bouquet for your mom.
88. Make a tin can telephone with old cans and string.
89. Learn to play an instrument. One of our sons taught himself to play the guitar with free online videos.
90. Take the dog for a walk. He’s just as bored as you are.
91. Bathe the dog. Do it outside with the hose so you both get wet.
92. Make up a new sport. Grab a ball, make some rules, have fun.
93. Explore the crawl space under the house.
94. Learn to refinish furniture. Start with something out of the garage or that you pick up on the side of the road or at a thrift store.
95. Learn wood-carving. Make a whistle or flute from a piece of bamboo.
96. Polish your mom’s silver. Listening to an audiobook while you do it will make it more fun.
97. Make helmets out of milk jugs. Cut the handle part out and paint to make a helmet. Pretend you are in the Roman Army.
98. Step up to adulthood. Learn how to do something real – change the oil in the car, do the laundry, make your bed, change a tire, repair a leaky sink.
99. Do a play or talent show for your grandparents. Memorize a poem, sing a song, show a painting, play an instrument. Or, write a play for yourself and your siblings.
100. Make a card or write a letter for your grandparents or a far-away relative. Making someone else happy is a great way to make yourself happy.
101. Keep a journal. We have a journal kept by one of our ancestors over a hundred years ago. We’ve loved learning about what life was like in their time. Record your memories for your children’s children.
Can you add to the list? Did we forget anything?
We hope you’ll have a wonderfully creative, productive, and memorable summer!
Join our newsletter for more great ideas and resources for making Biblical family life practical!
Hal & Melanie
A reader asks, “When do you step in when boys are wrestling? My 10 & 8 year old boys are constantly in some form of a challenge on the trampoline, in the yard, on the lake, in the house, etc.”
The way boys are always wrestling can be pretty frustrating, especially for moms. It’s hard to know if or when to step in and if you don’t, it seems like it often ends in someone angry or in tears. It’s important for boys to learn to be comfortable roughhousing with other boys and testing their strength against one another. Having physical courage is an important part of being a man and being comfortable in the role of protector. How do you keep it safe and healthy, though?
Our rules are pretty simple. For one, you don’t wrestle in the living room or kitchen. I would like to have a few nice things when they’ve all left home! The kitchen, on the other hand, is just too dangerous with boiling water, hot grease, and sharp things lurking around.
The other rule is that if anyone says, “Stop!” or “Knock it off!” it must stop immediately or you are a bully and we discipline quite firmly for being a bully.
We explain it to them like this: When fighter pilots are training, when they are doing war games, for example, if anyone broadcasts, “Knock it off!” they immediately disengage and separate. That means there is some danger or some other reason that they need to stop for everyone’s safety.
In the same way, wrestling is a war game; it is practice combat. Because it’s practice — You certainly have no intention of hurting your brother, at least, you’d better not! — there’s got to be a way to call it off if someone is getting hurt or needs to stop. If you can’t keep this rule of mock combat, then you aren’t mature enough for war games and you won’t be allowed to wrestle.
This works well for toy sword play, rubberband guns, any kind of play that involves pretend fighting. We believe that mock combat is appropriate for boys to play because one of their God-given roles is to be the protector of their family, and if needed, their community and nation. This is just an easy way to keep it healthy between brothers.
Hal & Melanie
For more on how to help boys turn their natural aggression to righteous purposes, plus lots more on raising boys, check out our award-winning book, Raising Real Men!]]>
The girl looked puzzled. Melanie pointed to her ring. “Oh no, I’m not married! That’s a purity ring.”
“Then you need to move it to the other hand!” Melanie said, “If a guy sees it, he’s going to think you are taken and never even try to get to know you.”
“But, I don’t want him to talk to me! I want him to talk to my father first!” the lovely young woman asserted.
“I don’t think you understand,” Melanie gently stated. “If he thinks you’re taken, he won’t talk to your father, either. In fact, he’s unlikely to approach your dad before he has gotten to know you well enough to know you are a good possibility for the future.”
What astounded us is that we had the exact same conversation twice more within a week or so. One young lady even confided that if a guy hit on her in Wal-Mart that she’d hold up the hand with the purity ring on it as if to say, “Taken!” and the young man would walk off.
We asked her, “If the forward guys think it’s an engagement ring or wedding band and leave you alone because of it, what makes you think nice Christian guys won’t?”
It also surprised us that in all three conversations, the father or mother listening in, once they understood the issue, immediately responded, “Move the ring to the other hand!”
Strangely, all three ladies were reluctant. One said, “But, I promised you!” Her mother responded, “It’s okay to wear it on the other hand, honestly!” It’s like the girls believed that if they moved it to the other hand, they weren’t pure any more. Nonsense!
Parents, we need to adjust our advice to the age of our children. Sometimes the advice we gave them at thirteen, like “Don’t think about marriage! Don’t ask yourself if those around you would be good mates,” doesn’t necessarily apply at 23. Both guys and girls in their twenties have told us they are struggling to feel free to pursue/be open to a mate when they’ve been told again and again not to, even though it is now time! We need to encourage them!
To our single female friends: Honorable guys look for things like rings because in our culture, a ring on your left ring finger says you are promised to someone else. And no, he won’t know it’s a purity ring. Not when you are old enough to be married.
It’s not unmaidenly to be clearly single! Or to be friendly. In fact, most young men we talk to as we speak around the country say that they look to see if a young woman seems interested in what they say or smiles when they see them. A girl that seems friendly is a good candidate for friendship. And most guys want to know a girl before they decide to pursue her. So, Don’t Shut the Door Too Soon. Definitely not at the first glance at your hand!
Why not wear the ring on the other hand?
Hal & Melanie
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My son (18) has been sneaking and stealing food for YEARS. If it’s there, he will take it. If I make cookies or brownies, he will help himself with no regard for others. If my husband gives me chocolate for Valentine’s Day, he will steal it. If there are dinner left-overs he will help himself to as much as he wants of them for lunch the next day with no regard for what his sisters will eat.
He seems to have an entitlement mentality that he somehow deserves it and should have preference. He doesn’t seem to care that he’s taking food out of a family member’s mouth or depriving them of a treat or leaving them with nothing to eat.
I have tried all sorts of discipline. I have tried to appeal to his heart. I have taken him to God’s Word. I have tried having fruits and veggies available, but I can not afford to allow unlimited access to snacks.
We’ve gotten to a place where I have to count out the cookies when I make them and tell each person exactly how many they may have, and still he will take more and then deny it. The stealing is often compounded by lying. This has been a battle for years, and I am concerned about sending him out into the world without having experienced victory in this area. Thanks!”
We see several issues here.
First, he’s hurting those he says he loves, so he needs to be held accountable. It needs to cost him. Every once in a while, someone around here will eat something I was saving or that someone else was. My reaction, especially with young men this age is, “Okay, get in the car and go buy some more. You know that wasn’t yours. Yes, you pay for it. Buy a little extra, too, as an apology.” And hand them their keys and hold the door open. That pretty much cures it.
Also, his sin needs to be rebuked. When he gets back, I’d say, “You know, eating that when it didn’t belong to you was unkind. We’re supposed to “count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3) It’s also stealing and the Word says, “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) As a young man who claims to be a believer, you ought not to be doing things like that.”
And stop there. You don’t need to be the Holy Spirit. Just bring the Word to your son’s mind and let the Holy Spirit work. Don’t let this become a battle between you and him. Keep your temper.
Lastly, he may just not be getting enough to eat. Boys that age eat a LOT. If you guys eat a lot of low fat foods, especially, he may not be getting the raw calories he needs. Our son who is an athlete eats six scrambled eggs for a snack — and you can see his ribs!
Of course, that’s no excuse for sin, but there’s no need to tempt him unduly, either. Have some protein/fat foods that he can eat freely available to him. Eggs, cheese, milk, nuts are good options.
This parenting thing is tough, no doubt about that, but it’s really tough when you have an almost ready to be independent adult acting like a child. You’ve got to hit the balance between being as iron sharpens iron, rebuking them when they need it, and respecting the fact that they are almost old enough to just walk away. You just can’t treat them like children, even when they act like it! It’s a balance that can have a profitable result in their lives, though, when you get it right, so it’s worth the battle.
Hal & Melanie]]>
It’s pretty easy to feel despair today, but should that be our attitude as Christians? This is hardly the first time the church has lived under a hostile government. After all, the church first spread across the world under maniacs like Caligula and Nero. That’s not exactly what we want for our children, though.
My friend Laura posted a few verses that reminded me that we need to remember who’s in charge here.
” …..For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1
“Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above…..” John 19:11
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
” The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19
” Only I can tell you the future
before it even happens.
Everything I plan will come to pass,
for I do whatever I wish.” Isaiah 46:10
Our friends Fletch and Kendra of Homeschooling in Real Life often talk about the danger of hope-shifting – putting our trust in something other than Jesus Christ.
Our hope is not in good candidates. Our hope is not in the Constitution. Our hope is not in any political party.
God is still sovereign. He still loves His people. He has purpose even in trials that affect whole nations.
Our hope is in Jesus Christ.
With that in mind, what are we to do? Where do we go from here? We’re not sure what to tell you about voting, but we are sure about this: Our fate is in the hands of the sovereign God. The best thing we can do is pray.
Worried about the country? Pray.
Hear someone talking about Clinton and Trump? Pray.
See a campaign sign? Pray.
See political ads online? Pray.
Teaching your children about the Constitution? Pray.
“…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
That’s our hope. Our hope is in God. Really, that’s all the hope we need, isn’t it?
Hal & Melanie
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Guest Post by Davis Carman
On March 31, 2016, I watched the product-launch video for the new Tesla Model 3, the first mass-production vehicle from Tesla Motors and its founder Elon Musk. Within twenty-four hours, Tesla had taken 100,000 pre-orders for the car.
The company’s first all-electric vehicle was a high-priced, low-volume roadster that few people noticed. They then introduced the Model S several years ago, attracting a few more buyers. A recently launched high-end SUV is also available, designated as the Model X.
As a mechanical engineer and car enthusiast, I’ve followed Tesla with considerable interest. After watching the launch video, I decided it was time to schedule a test drive, which took place on Friday April 15, 2016. No surprise, I found it a much more enjoyable way to spend the day than working on my taxes.
It’s important to note that I took my two youngest sons with me, age twelve and fourteen. This is one of the advantages of homeschooling. They were anticipating the big day, and they were not disappointed. I do believe I earned a few Dad-of-the-Month kudos that day.
Let me cut to the chase: I was blown away. I was ready to be wowed, but the tour and test drive far exceeded my wildest expectations. Here is my review of this absolutely amazing vehicle.
What immediately struck me was the simplicity of the design. There is no complex mass of hoses, wires, belts, fans, pipes, and metal parts. The only compartment I found for a fluid was the windshield washer. The underside is a clean and flat piece of metal, which holds the batteries.
This is an all-electric vehicle, which means you will never run out of gas because you will never buy gas again. You simply plug it into an outlet at home each night and wake up to a fully charged battery the next morning. The Tesla Model 3 has a range of 215 miles. A twenty-minute stop at one of the fast-charging Tesla stations will charge your battery up to 80 percent full, just enough time to grab a quick meal. With more than 600 locations and 3600 Superchargers strategically placed throughout the United States, it is now possible to drive cross-country in a Tesla. By the way, you get free electricity at all Tesla charging stations for life. Sweet!
Not only will this vehicle never leak oil, but you will never again need an oil change. The electric motor doesn’t require lubrication. There is no radiator to fail, no timing belt to break, no tune-up every 20,000 miles. There is simply no scheduled maintenance required. It’s that awesome!
The key fob resembles the car. My boys liked that touch. A tap on the rear opens the trunk. A pat on the front opens the hood. Otherwise you just keep the keys in your pocket.
The rear trunk is more spacious than that of any vehicle I’ve ever seen and has a greater capacity than most SUVs. And because there’s no bulky engine, the front compartment doubles as extra trunk space.
You won’t find a typical grill on the front of a Tesla because the engine doesn’t require air flow for cooling. The body design of the front end emphasizes this fact. You also won’t find a gas cap messing up the clean lines of the body panels. But there’s got to be a place for the electric plug to attach somewhere, right? Yes. Tap the driver’s-side rear light, and it pops open, providing access to the electric plug—definitely a cool feature. In fact, I tapped it open and closed several times just for fun.
When you walk up to the car with keys in your pocket, the sleek and flush door handles pop out. This allows you to pull the door open and step into the seat. Once the door is closed, the handles pop back into place, restoring the car’s smooth, sleek look and again upping the cool factor.
Inside, the car had so much room; it almost felt wrong. There’s no big, bulky transmission taking up space between the driver and passenger, and no driveshaft means there’s no hump in the floor in the back seat. The extra room makes the car extremely comfortable.
An all-glass roof blocks out 98 percent of the sun’s rays, yet you can see out just fine. When fully open, the sunroof creates the largest opening I’ve ever seen. I personally like sunroofs—the larger the better. You can easily adjust the size of the opening with the touchscreen control panel.
Speaking of controls, the heart of the technology is a massive seventeen-inch touchscreen control panel. I used the split-screen function to keep the wide-angle rearview camera on the bottom half and the GPS, power consumption, radio, or something else on the top half. The temperature controls are displayed on the extreme bottom of the screen for quick and easy adjustment. Navigating the screen was simple and intuitive for anyone who has ever used a smartphone app or tablet.
Unlike a conventional car, you don’t start a Tesla. Once you sit down, it’s ready to go. Just put a foot on the brake pedal and shift into gear. Then press the pedal and you’re off. There’s no sound, vibration, or feel of an engine revving. It’s quiet as a mouse. Also, the car doesn’t coast when you take your foot off the “gas” because of the regenerative brakes. That took a little getting used to, but it was easy and I quickly grew accustomed to the new normal. The car was poetry in motion as it silently, smoothly, and artfully moved us down the road.
Cruise control was a nice feature in its day, and today some cars are equipped with smart cruise, which causes the vehicle to automatically slow as it approaches a slower-moving car. Still others come with a lane-departure warning system that sounds a beep if you drift left or right. The new Tesla auto-pilot feature takes the next logical step. With a double click of the cruise control stick, the vehicle not only maintains a safe distance from all cars but also steers itself to stay in your current lane. When I signaled to move one lane to the left, the car automatically changed lanes, being sure to watch for any oncoming vehicles. The car stayed in the lane until I manually signaled left or right to tell it to change lanes again. After a period of time, the car will ask you to put your hands on the steering wheel to prove you’re still awake. If you fail to do so, the car will turn on its flashers and slow down until you retake the controls. I felt perfectly safe letting go of the steering wheel and allowing auto-pilot to move us down a crowded interstate.
Tesla vehicles come standard with all-wheel drive. It’s designed this way in order to connect smaller electric motors to all the wheels rather than one big one in the front or back. The result is astounding in terms of control and performance. Tesla doesn’t make a 4×4 truck yet, but if and when they do, I have no doubt it will immediately be the most reliable in that market.
This is the feature I was most eager to test. A really fast car today comes with 425-plus horsepower and can do 0-to-60 mph in just over five seconds. Faster cars, such as a high-end Porsche, can achieve this feat in just under four seconds. The Tesla Model S comes in three varieties. The 70D can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. The 90D can do it in 4.2 seconds. The P90D surpasses them all with a 0-to-60 acceleration time of just 3.1 seconds. With a flip of a switch on the control panel, I was able to shift into “ludicrous” acceleration mode and do this in a crazy 2.8 seconds, causing the blood to rush to the back of my brain. My sons said the G-forces they felt were stronger than on any roller coaster they’d been on. I can’t think of a faster car on the road today. By the way, the top-end speed is 155 mph, limited by the computer.
The Model S starts at $70,000 and can cost as much as $125,000, depending on battery range, acceleration, and other options. The new Model 3 is considerably more affordable, starting at $35,000. As a result, I fully expect to see many more Teslas on the road in the days ahead.
The Only Letdown
The only disappointment I felt was when we left the showroom and walked back to my well-loved, eight-cylinder, gas-guzzling, eighteen-year-old BMW. Even though I’ve taken good care of Zidgle (as I affectionately refer to him), he has multiple maintenance and repair issues that pull at my time, attention, and money. I stepped hard on the gas pedal as we left the parking lot, hoping to feel some pride in its abilities, only to be sorely let down. It sounded tough, but the acceleration forces didn’t phase me a bit. I already miss that dizzy sensation that came with the immediate torque and blistering speed afforded by the Tesla’s electric motor.
Personally, I believe this new vehicle is going to totally disrupt the automotive industry. Battery life already puts vehicles well in the 200- to 300-mile range. This will only increase as Tesla continues to develop battery technology. These vehicles are going to usher in a new era in which electric cars are commonplace. As of this writing, Tesla has received deposits for more than 400,000 units. Currently, the best-selling vehicles in the United States—the Ford F-150, Toyota Camry, and Honda Accord—each sells roughly 500,000 units per year. I fully expect the Tesla Model 3 to be the number-one-selling car in America by 2018.
Being a mechanical engineer and homeschooling advocate, I want to make two analogies that I think are appropriate. On the engineering front, comparing a Tesla to a conventional gasoline-powered car is like comparing a sixty-inch, flat-screen, Internet-enabled, high-definition television to a heavy 13-inch box with a fuzzy black-and-white picture and vacuum tubes.
Similarly, I would say that comparing home education to public schools is like comparing a Tesla to a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle. One of them employs archaic methods, is highly inefficient, and isn’t very exciting—but it’s what “everyone” drives. The other is simple, beautiful, high tech, and produces great results. Which one would you rather drive?
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
© 2016 Davis Carman
Davis Carman is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is also the author of four illustrated children’s books designed to instill a biblical worldview. Good Morning, God is based on Deuteronomy 6, A Light for My Path is an ABC book based on Psalm 119, and In the Beginning, is based on the Creation account in Genesis. His latest, Psalms to Know Early will be available the summer of 2016. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now!
You can find Davis’s blog here: www.homeschoolcastles.com
You can find Apologia here: www.apologia.com
It is really hard to face major life changes at that age. The emotional rollercoaster that comes with the hormonal changes of early puberty makes nearly all kids feel self-conscious and awkward. Most of them believe (at least now and then) that nobody likes them and nobody cares about them. (For help with this, click here.) The idea of having to find their way in a whole new social situation is terrifying to them. There are a few things you can do to help, though.
“You never would have let me do that,” he said, watching a younger sibling.
We had to admit, he had a point. When he was that age, we were new parents, full of theories but short on experience. He was Offspring 1.0, and parenting was still something of a beta-test experience.
Looking back now on more than 25 years (and eight kids) of being Mom and Dad, we realize there were several points where our parenting philosophy changed – and needed to!
We changed when we realized we weren’t doing it right. Eldest son wasn’t old enough to remember what he did get away with, as a toddler. We were Christians from the start but we wanted to explain everything to our little guy, as if he’d say, “Oh! I get it! Of course that’s what I should do!” And at a critical time, we moved to a community which took a very critical view of any kind of correction of a child. By the time he was three, he was so undisciplined he was nearly unmanageable. Our pastor very politely shared some Biblical advice about balanced, loving, but purposeful direction—and we found life was much smoother with our younger kids!
This can go either way. Sometimes you start off so permissive your children aren’t being trained at all; other times, you may be so rigidly disciplinarian that children feel little love and much repression at home. The Gen2 Study last year found that young adults who experienced consistent, loving discipline as children were more likely to have a strong relationship with their parents and continue in the faith as grownups than children of parents at either extreme.
We changed when our family changed. We were blessed with six boys, one after another, and our parenting style was very boy-directed – firm, direct, challenging as much as affirming. Then God sent us girls, and we found the emphatic directions we gave the boys (“Hey! Don’t touch that stove!”) often startled or frightened the sisters. We had to learn a more gentle approach to guide our more-compliant children (i.e. the girls).
We also realized as the family grew, we didn’t have the luxury of spending every minute focused on one or two very little children. To keep the house and family on track, we had to learn how to give the older kids an appropriate level of self-direction and responsibility; Mama can’t always jump up to respond to other children when she’s nursing a baby!
We changed as we grew in experience and maturity ourselves. People laugh about how uptight they were handling their first baby, and how relaxed they were with the third or fourth one. Is it because experienced parents don’t care any more? Or babies born later are less demanding? Are we like Jacob who showed ungodly favoritism toward his youngest sons Joseph and Benjamin – with sad results?
Or is it because being a parent becomes easier as you gain wisdom and perspective? Of course you parent your youngest child differently than you did the first one – that means you learned something along the way!
And very importantly, we changed when our children changed. A pre-schooler needs very clear direction and consistent consequences for disobedience. A 9- or 10-year-old needs a lot of guidance, and not much independence. But a teenager is in the transition from childhood to independent adulthood – as we’ve said, we consider our young teens as “adults, in training” – and we the parents need to change from control to advice. You don’t expect to boss your 25-year-old the same as your 5-year-old, do you? The change in relationship needs to happen over the teen years, not as a thunderclap on their eighteenth birthday.
Most parents with more than one child have probably heard that complaint – that younger siblings get away with things. Did we change our parenting style? Should we? You bet – with good reason!
Now, how do you carry out that change without causing anger and resentment in your kids? Listen to our podcast on this subject!
Hal & Melanie]]>