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.

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 71 – Let’s Talk About Sex!

Talking about sex with our kids is extremely important. Someone is going to help our children form their views on sex and sexuality, and as parents, we must be intentional if we want that someone to be us! God created sex, but Satan, sinful nature and society have warped the modern view of this sensitive issue. We must help our children to gain God’s view of sex.

In this episode we discuss the reasons we must talk to our kids about this topic. We address the earlier age of puberty and exposure to sexual content in our society, which forces us as parents to begin thinking about how to share our perspective earlier.

Some of the ideas we share on how to approach these discussions are:

  • Change our approach from confrontation to process. We don’t want to just have one factual conversation, but rather an ongoing series of discussions and reflections on the topics of sex, emotions, and relationships (and consequences) over time.
  • Be observant. Notice your children’s curiosities. Be aware of moments you can use to share truth. Ask questions and listen to gain perspective on where they need clarity.
  • Do some research. Make sure you are sharing a clear view of God’s design for sex and relationships. 1 Corinthians is a great place to start for finding the boundaries and lines. Hosea is another good resource to see how serious God takes sexual misconduct but also how gracious and redemptive He can be when we fail.

Parents continue to have the biggest influence on how their children view relationships. Let’s take the opportunity to help shape their perspective on this very important topic.

For Further Reading: Can’t Even…

For Episode 70: What To Do When Your Kids Come Back!, we used Anne Helen Petersen’s book Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation for some of our research.

This well-researched commentary opens a perspective-changing window into the challenges for the millennial generation. Written frankly by a millennial, it tells of some of the cultural and systemic factors that have led to the current generational situation. Petersen did a great job of peeling back the layers of older generation’s gripes and seeing some of the shared problems facing our society.

For those of us called to love and influence the next generations, this book offers insight into understanding the why’s behind the economic, relational, spiritual, emotional, and moral concerns – many of which might surprise you. May we continue to pursue understanding others that we might better offer love and truth to them!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 70 – What To Do When Your Kids Come Back!

While it’s not often what we had envisioned, it is a reality that more and more adult children are living at home longer or returning home for a period of time. In this episode we talk about some of the cultural factors that are causing this trend.

We also talk about some of the important questions that parents need to ask in those situations (These questions are modified from content from Fuller Youth Institute’s book Growing With):

  • Do they have a plan?
  • Is there an end date?
  • What will be their financial contribution?
  • What will be their household responsibilities?
  • Do they need to communicate when they’ll be out for dinner or coming home after a certain hour?
  • What are their boundaries?

At the end of the discussion, we need to realize that intentional communication and remembering the long term goal are extremely important. As always, we invite you to connect with us via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, our website, or email us at

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 69 – If You Just Tuned In!

In the world of ultimate optionality, we hope to be a consistent guide for parents of particularly teens and young adults. We started this podcast in order to have a platform to share important ideas and resources to help lead our children towards a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ while keeping our own sanity!

If you are new to our podcast, here are some ideas on great prior episodes to check out:

Listen to the episode for lots of other highlights of prior content and our heart for raising children to be Abnormal! Connect with us for upcoming episodes or to share your questions and feedback. You can do that through our Facebook Page, Instagram Account, YouTube Channel, or our website – You can also subscribe to our email list so you don’t miss a single episode! Until next time…Be Abnormal!!

Is That Normal? Podcast Episode 68 – Family Discipleship: A Book REVIEW

In this episode, we review Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin’s book Family Discipleship: Leading Your Home Through Time, Moments, & Milestones. We highly recommend this resource for parents who are wanting to be intentional about raising their family to follow Christ. We found the book to be a very practical guide on how to use the normal routines of life for passing on our faith in Jesus.

We cover how this book is:


The book is broken into simple chapters that suggest we organize a discipleship plan around:

  • MODELING. We have to start with our own relationship and response to Christ.
  • TIME: Using the natural rhythms of life to read God’s Word, pray, and serve with our families
  • MOMENTS: Watching and being ready for those teachable moments where we can share truth about God.
  • MILESTONES: Using those milestones and markers of life such as birthdays, holidays, and graduations to offer faith challenges.

We encourage you to check out this book and begin making a tangible discipleship plan for your family. You can also check out this recent sermon Mark shared at Calvary Chapel Church where he talks more about some of these concepts. We also invite you to connect with us. You can do that through our Facebook Page, Instagram Account, YouTube Channel, or our website – You can also subscribe to our email list so you don’t miss a single episode! Until next time…Be Abnormal!!