Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 78 – Five Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter REVIEW

In this episode, we review Vicki Courtney’s book Five Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter. This great resource covers some of the tough but necessary conversations we must have with the young women in our families.

Here are those conversations:

  1. Don’t let culture define you. We must help our daughters define beauty from God’s standards.
  2. Guard your heart. We must help our daughters discern which voices should shape their views, thoughts and beliefs. Parents need to be good listeners and provide a safe place as we help them reflect these issues.
  3. Respect you body and your sexuality. We need to be committed to having age-appropriate conversations with our daughters about the issues surrounding sex. (Check out our Episode 71 – Let’s Talk about Sex for more thoughts on this conversation.)
  4. Realize childhood is only for a season. We need to help our daughters imagine a healthy adult future for themselves.
  5. Know that you are who you have been becoming. We need to help our daughters take inventory of where they are on their path so they can continue heading to the future that God wants for them. Proverbs 31 is a good tool to use in these times of reflection.

We encourage you to start and/or continue these conversations with your daughters. Until next time, Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 77 – What To Do With Disagreeable Opinions

If you live with other humans, you are going to have conflict. In this episode, Mark and Randell discuss some approaches to making conflict a positive in your family’s story. If you missed our last episode – ITN Episode 76: Personality Profiles, Reaction Scales, and Emotion Grids – make sure to go back and check it out. (We reference it a ton in this episode!)

Here’s some things we shared that have really worked for us: 

  • MODEL RIGHT BEHAVIOR. We’ve got to model how to handle and respond to conflict if we expect our kids to do the same.
  • FIND THE ROOT. Conflict comes from somewhere. We need to take the time and make space to find out what the underlying issues are.
  • SET BOUNDARIES. Set the ground rules on what is and isn’t okay in a conflict.
  • CREATE A CULTURE OF GRACE. True grace forgives but it stands up for truth. It demands right things. It values people over problems. It doesn’t leave anyone behind. 

Remember, conflict isn’t bad – unhealthy and unresolved conflict is bad – but healthy conflict creates change and makes us better. Until next time, Be Abnormal.

A Great Resource for Your Spiritual Journey

On our most recent episode of the Is That Normal? Podcast, we talked about personality profiles and how they impact our relationships. (If you missed it check out Episode 76 – Personality Profiles, Reaction Scales, and Emotion Grids).

If you want to dig deeper into some of these concepts, we’d really recommend Cron and Stabile’s The Road Back to You. This book highlights the details of the Enneagram framework but from a solidly Christian viewpoint. In each chapter it discusses the spiritual side of each personality type as well as gives suggestions for spiritual transformation.

Of all the research we’ve done on personalities, I believe this book offers the best instruction on how our particular makeup effects our spiritual and emotional health, as well as gives very practical ideas on how to head towards health in those areas.

Until next time, Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 76 – Personality Profiles, Reaction Scales, and Emotion Grids

Living together with other humans is tough. We see things differently. We do things differently. In this episode we explored some of the reasons why understanding ours and others personality types can help us navigate some of those conflict points better.

There are numerous tools for determining your personality type. We looked at two – the Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram. You learn more about each of them as well as take a test here:

Myers-Briggs at and Enneagram at

Some suggestions we made for parents were:

  • Have your family take the test. Spend some time going over it together and discussion the potential for conflict.
  • Learn language to communicate better. We discussed evaluating our emotional reactions versus the severity of the offense.
  • Help your children build their strengths
  • Guide your family to minimize conflicts by looking for ways to offer grace.
  • Enjoy the diversity!

Until next time, Be Abnormal!

Finding Stories that Teach Us

As a follow up to our most recent episode – ITN #75: Lighting Fires and Leaking Buckets – I wanted to highlight another great podcast.

Out of the Ordinary Books with Lisa-Jo Baker and Christie Purifoy highlight books and authors in each episode that help us on our journey as parents, followers, and humans. They totally get the idea that the right stories can help us find our own place in the story of God and life. Go check them out and be Out-of-the-Ordinary!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 75 – Lighting Fires and Leaking Buckets

As another school year gets under way, parents are praying for the success of their children. In this episode, Mark and Randell talk about some of the ways parents and significant adults can help foster an environment that helps students truly enjoy learning.

If we realize that education is more about lighting a fire than filling a bucket, we will have gone a long way in starting that environment. And interestingly enough, parental involvement is the number one contributing factor to the success of children’s education. Here are some practical ways to get involved:

  • Ask good questions about their education
  • Teach them to ask good questions about their education
  • Readily provide engaging materials such as “live” books, field guides, art supplies, and cookbooks
  • Manufacture margin in to their schedule in order for them to have time to get bored and curious

Lastly, we want to encourage you to enjoy the process with your children and find voices that help you keep moving forward. One of the voices that we mentioned in the episode is Sally Clarkson. She is a parent, author, podcaster, and blogger who speaks of the joy of leading your children to enjoy learning. We read an excerpt out of her book Awaking Wonder in this episode.

So spend some time learning with your kids this week, ask some good questions, and Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 74 – Raising Stranger Teens!

Welcome back to the Is That Normal? Podcast. With the recent release of the Stranger Things Season 4 Trailer, we thought it was a good time to address why Mark chose to watch this series with his teenage kids and the impact that has had on helping them grow in their spiritual maturity.

Stranger Things has been a social phenomenon since the first season streamed on Netflix. It is well written, well produced, well acted and chock full of rad 1980s references. While it is a spiritual show of sorts, it definitely not from a Christian worldview. Here’s a few of the highlights of talking points that I found while watching it with my kids:

  • Teens are curious. If it’s going viral, kids are going to want to know more about it. Rather than just saying “No because I said so”, engage them in discussion about why it’s popular and if they should check it out.
  • Young people are looking for connection to something bigger than them. This fantastic story in a familiar settings makes them believe that there is something more to life.
  • Everyone needs a Savior. The foundation of the Stranger Things story is the basic struggle of good vs evil. In that struggle they make one of the common culture miscues, they make a group of teenagers the saviors of the story. The “believe in yourself” mentality is the opposite of the Christian truth that we can’t be enough on our own and we need Christ’s sacrifice. This storyline opens up great opportunity for discussion about faith with our teens and young adults.
  • Everything is spiritual. We are all created as eternal, spiritual beings in mortal bodies. This show points out that we are all looking for something more than this life offers. However, it offers a very scientific answer for what the “more” is. Again, this gives us a great opportunity to talk about the spiritual realities of an eternal God.

Overall, I’m not necessarily recommending Stranger Things, but I am recommending that you find out what your kids love, look for the spiritual talking points, and enjoy being with them while they do the things they love. Until next time, Be Abnormal.

Helping Your Kids Reflect Rather Than Pose

Yesterday should have been a podcast Tuesday.  However, with the busyness of camps and vacations and an unexpected quarantine, we are a little off schedule. 

We’ll return to our normally scheduled Is That Normal? Podcast schedule in a couple weeks. In the meantime, I’ve got a few thoughts and a challenge for you. 

In our Instagram society, it’s easy to run through life looking for the next cute post. Just take out your camera and point it at a young person and they are ready to pose! (I actually think I saw someone this week whose face was permanently frozen in their selfie face pose – you know the one, lips pursed, head tilted slightly down.)

But as we come out of the summer, I find this is a great time to reflect rather than pose. To take time and inventory the significant moments of the season. To record spiritual milestones. To cherish family bonding. To evaluate personal growth. And then to look to the future. To set goals for the next season. And finally to take some breaths. To watch some sunsets and enjoy the noises of summer nights. To rest in the moment. 

And parents it’s our job to model for our children and lead them to these habits. 

So here’s the challenge – buy some journals (Yes, real paper journals…and some cool pens!) and set aside some time for you and your family to reflect on their summer. And when you’re done, share highlights with each other over ice cream!

As you do this activity, May it lead you all closer to God and closer to each other. Until next time, Be Abnormal! 

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 73 – Making Moments!

We are so glad that you’ve connected with us today! We want to be a resource for parents navigating those tricky waters of raising kids all the way to adults. We’d love to hear from you. Visit our Facebook page, our Instagram account, our YouTube channel, our website at, or shoot us an email at

We all have those moments from our childhood that stand out to us. We as parents want to intentionally create those moments in a way to help our children grow up to love God and other people. Here are some ideas from the episode on how to foster those moments:

  • Make Space. It can be large vacations or adventures, but it could be a simple unstructured couple of hours spent playing games, talking or going for ice cream.
  • Be a good Asker and Listener. It is important to make space to hear our children’s heart. Check out Episode 5 on monitoring our children’s heart and Episode 11 for more ideas on being a good question asker.
  • Use These Moments for Discipleship. Jesus modeled discipleship via moments. We need to use these times to reinforce who God is and what He wants us to be like. A great resource for what those topics might be is Family Discipleship by Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin. You can also check out our Review Episode on that book.

We hope this has helped inspire you to make some great moments this summer. We would love to hear about your experiences. Take the time this season to Be Abnormal!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 72 – Making Siblings Best Friends!

In this episode we talk about the environment and practices that help foster close relationships between siblings. We used ideas and inspiration from Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends by Sarah, Stephen, and Grace Mally. We really recommend this resource as a read-together book for your family.

Here are some of the ideas we shared on how to help our children have close relationships with their siblings:

  • Challenge Attitudes. It is not common or encouraged to be close to your family or your siblings, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t best.
  • Create Shared Experiences. It is those with whom we share common history that often are those that most connect with us throughout life.
  • Have Mandatory Planned Family Times. Family Devotions. (Check out Episode 4 for some ideas). Shared Chores. Game Nights.
  • Model Friendship in your marriage and family relationships.

Some barriers to overcome are:

  • False Concepts
  • High Expectation of Family Members/Low Expectation of Self
  • Busyness
  • Bitterness

We know this process is not easy and will never be perfect – even best friends tend to fight! But we encourage you to do the hard and consistent hard work of fostering close relationships in your household.