April Snow Showers Bring....

     My mom reminds me quite often that when she brought me home from the hospital on April 6th, 1972, that it was snowing. Forty six years later and it's still snowing in April. Almost 50 years and the weather is just as unpredictable as it was in the 70's. I guess the increase in technology gives us this notion that we should be able to predict the weather, since we have an app for that and everything else under the sun.

     And if we do have an app for everything, will someone please direct me to the parenting app? 'Cause I can't seem to lay my hands on it, and it needs to start telling my kids what to do so I can take a nap. Seriously, kids don't need us telling them what to do anymore. This isn't the 70's, or the 60's, 50's or 40's. At this point, Apple should be able to claim about 30 million kids as dependents on their taxes, right? So why can't they aggravate Siri into making dinner? Why can't Youtube teach them how to clean the toilet and empty the litter box? Shouldn't Snapchat feel morally obligated to instill values into my kids since they spend more time with them than me?

     Surely that group at Instagram can find a savvy way to compel kids to not bully each other and to esteem others higher than themselves. And I am most confident that Netflix can give them at least 13 reasons to live honorable and worthwhile lives, if for no other reason than to be future customers. And let's not forget the Twitterati and the wealth of compassion that they impart 24 hours a day. 

     Now that I've had time to consider it, maybe my kids need me after all. Maybe technology doesn't have all the answers. Where does that leave me? I guess I'm in the same position mom was in 1972 when she brought me home from the hospital in the snow. It's still snowing in April, babies are still being born to real mommies and real daddies and it's harder than ever to raise a child into a loving, caring, compassionate man or woman who can contribute to the good of society.

     This truth makes it incumbent on us dads and moms to esteem our spouses, to honor and defend Biblical truths, and to re-assume the role of being the primary influence in our kid's lives. The crud that tech is feeding them is garbage in light of morality. Peers raising peers is a guaranteed path to destruction. And the damage doesn't show until it's too late. Parents, we may diverge on rearing methods, but let us agree that no one and no thing will ever be able to fill our shoes as the best leaders for our kids. And if and when we come up short, let's not rely on Google for the answers, but find somebody that's been where we are and ask for some help.

     Find a mentor or be a mentor. The art of raising children has been taught by grandmas and grandpas for thousands of years. And I think they've done a better job than Facebook. 

Rural America: Old Fashioned? Maybe.
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  As I look around the great metropolis that is Martinsville and Henry County, I realize that there's a stark fact that binds us with much of the rest of these United States. We're pretty old fashioned! 

     Now to some that may seem derogatory. But on the contrary, I like the way things have been in the past. Years past have an allure, nostalgia we often call it, we remember when life seemed to be less complicated.

     Simplicity is elusive these days for many people. Between the two working parents and the three kids in four sports, the speed at which life is lived can be overwhelming. But, as we venture further into the countryside, beyond subdivisions and strip malls, time slows down. We see things as they have been: old farmhouses, barns, country stores. It appears they have always been there and always will be there.

      We have a tradition of going to the Ayers-Kreh Christmas tree farm in Patrick County each year and cutting our own tree. To prove my point, time stands still at the Cristmas tree farm. I've been going there for 30 or so years. I can stand on the hill, facing west, with the cold breeze stinging my face, and remember being 13 years old in the same place. I'm sure the personnel and the equipment have changed, but I don't see it. I'm just a kid looking for the perfect tree, 30 + years later.

     I happen to live on Highway 58 and often see the vehicles passing by with their perfect tree strapped to the roof or hanging out of the bed of the truck. Maybe they are living out the same tradition that I am with my family. Maybe they are starting a new tradition. Now many of our more urban friends and family may find the idea of hunting and killing your own tree preposterous.

     Drinking hot chocolate on a cold December Saturday, they say? At a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, they quip? That just sounds old-fashioned. Well, maybe it is. But, don't knock it til you've tried it. You may discover that you've got a little nostalgia in you, too!

Zachary BradyComment
Sweet Sixteen: A Parent's Nightmare
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     So, Mom and Dad, your baby is all grown up and ready to start driving. It's the double-edged sword of parenthood. We want to give them responsibility but we're afraid of their ability to handle it.

     On the one hand, we think of all the time it will save us taking them all over creation. On the other, we remember every bonehead decision they've made for the past sixteen or so years. 

     It's daunting to give them a 3,000 pound hammer and tell them to have it. We dread the thought of the phone call in the middle of the night. My mom was the unfortunate recipient of one of those calls. I wasn't the driver, but I was riding with a young driver who made just one mistake.

     When it comes to cars and new drivers, it takes just one mistake to change lives, or even end them. Thank the Lord we both recovered and are still alive today. It wasn't fun at the time, but it gave me a great lesson for my children and for my customers and their children when they begin driving. Below I'll list some tidbits to help you as you begin the journey with your teen driver.

1. Remember that everyone has the potential to make mistakes. Expecting perfection from your teen is unrealistic and will make a stress-filled time more stressful.

2. Teach your child to drive. Don't rely on driver training courses to do it for you. If you've been driving for 15 or 20 years or more, you have the goods to teach them. Plus, it can be a bonding time for you.

3. If you don't feel qualified to teach them, ask a family member or family friend that you trust. I know mom's tend to be overly anxious, and rightfully so. If you just don't want to, then don't. A teen that dreads driving will not be fun to work with. And there seems to be a trend of teenagers who are putting off obtaining their license, which on some level, can be putting off growing up.

4. Use a third party like a police officer or insurance agent to scare the snot out of them. Sometimes we can convey the seriousness of the privilege in a way that backs up your own threats and gives you a scapegoat for the bag guy. We don't mind at all. 

5. Continue to teach them even after they begin driving on their own. Take on the role of coach and head cheerleader to encourage them when they do well and direct them when they stumble. 

6. Finally, in everything you do, whether it be teaching or coaching, cheering or correcting, do it with love. They get beat up enough by the world. We as parents should always be a safe harbour, a place of refuge when they need somewhere to go. And they will always need somewhere to go.

     One final thought. I always suggest that parents have a "beater" car for their teen to learn on. It softens the blow if they do put a scratch or ding on it. And if you don't have to carry full coverage on the vehicle they are driving, it will save you a ton of money. Trust the insurance guy, because he sees the sad faces of parents getting their first bill after Bobby or Susie has been added to the policy:- (

Zachary Brady