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4<br />

quick & easy<br />

breakfast<br />

recipes<br />

LAUREN<br />



redefining<br />

beautiful<br />

Battle<br />

of the<br />

sexes<br />

page 26<br />

Spiritual<br />

Rhythms<br />


WITH GOD<br />


<strong>Brio</strong>Magazine.ca<br />

08<br />

Journaling<br />

* PRAYER<br />





August September 2020<br />


10<br />

faith<br />


Where Do You Run?<br />



Accepting God’s gift and living<br />

in freedom<br />


Women in the Word—Deborah<br />


Women in the Word—Tabitha<br />

relationships<br />


AND LOVE<br />

Contributing to a healthy<br />

family dynamic during the<br />

school year<br />

on the cover<br />


Spending time with God,<br />

even when life is busy<br />


Don’t wait to invest in true<br />

friendships<br />




Insights into the bro code and how<br />

it affects the guys you know<br />

real life<br />

18 BE INSPIRED:<br />


Paralympian Marissa Arndt<br />

Retzlaff talks judo, faith and<br />

overcoming the odds<br />



Following Jesus’ commands<br />

to ditch pride, love God and<br />

serve others<br />


Lauren Scruggs Kennedy finds<br />

purpose in helping girls embrace<br />

their own beauty<br />


Tips to minimize stress in your<br />

new school year<br />


Lindsey Moser, Second<br />

Lieutenant, United States<br />

Air Force<br />


Being honest with God and<br />

ourselves about our struggles<br />

health & beauty<br />


Can you talk about swallowing<br />

pills and body image?<br />


Choosing foods that energize<br />

and fuel you for success<br />


entertainment<br />


Are you missing face-to-face<br />

connection in a screen-to-screen<br />

world?<br />


What about Dua Lipa and<br />

“Never Have I Ever”?<br />

just for fun<br />



Organize<br />


Endurance<br />

34 QUIZ: WHAT’S YOUR<br />


68 QUICK & EASY<br />



Coloring <strong>pages</strong><br />


Featuring the artistic talent<br />

of <strong>Brio</strong> readers like you<br />

let’s talk<br />



74 ASK BRIO<br />

Get answers to real-life questions<br />

39<br />




letters<br />

Follow us on<br />

Instagram!<br />

40<br />

@<strong>Brio</strong>Magazine<br />

Want to sign up a<br />

friend for <strong>Brio</strong>?<br />

<strong>Brio</strong>Magazine.ca<br />

It’s hard to believe that summer is already coming to a close. It<br />

seems like “just the other day” you were finishing classes at home.<br />

And wasn’t it “just the other day” that springtime was blooming<br />

while the world shut down to shelter in place? How about “just<br />

the other day” when we all welcomed 2020 with no thought of<br />

coronavirus or social distancing? How quickly life has changed<br />

around us.<br />

I hope you’ve found opportunities to reconnect with those<br />

you love. And I hope the warmth of summer has brought you<br />

some comfort.<br />

Now that a new school year is right around the corner, you may<br />

be wondering what classrooms and calendars will look like. Will<br />

you have to chat with friends from behind a mask? Maybe you<br />

changed schools, or you opted to home-school for a season. Or<br />

maybe the whole spring 2020 experience confirmed for you and<br />

your parents that a little personal space during the work week is a<br />

good thing. Whatever the uncertainties this fall, we can all expect<br />

change to be inevitable. So, we hold to the hope that as we make<br />

our plans, God will direct our steps (Proverbs 16:9).<br />

“Just the other day,” before COVID-19 came to our country, the<br />

<strong>Brio</strong> team was already developing the mag you’re now holding. We<br />

were talking about strengthening your body with better breakfasts<br />

(page 10). We were editing articles about pursuing grace and peace<br />

(page 48), creating calm (page 51) and running to God in times<br />

of trouble (page 24). Our goal was to create content that would<br />

strengthen you—spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally and<br />

socially. And now, here we are. We’re cheering for you as you take<br />

yet another courageous step into the unknown.<br />

Whatever this back-to-school season might look like for you,<br />

we’re praying that “the God of hope [will] fill you with all joy and<br />

peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may<br />

abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).<br />

Pam<br />

You are beautifully designed for a unique purpose and desperately loved by a faithful Savior. Here<br />

at <strong>Brio</strong> you belong to a community that will encourage you to own your faith, be confident in your<br />

body and discover who you are as a child of God. As you navigate these years, know that you are not<br />

alone. We’re here to listen, to speak truth, to offer hope. So, let’s talk about the issues that matter to<br />

you. Remember, you are God’s good work created with a purpose and loved beyond measure.<br />



letters<br />

Enjoying Summer Smoothies<br />

Dear <strong>Brio</strong>, I loved the article “Summer<br />

Smoothies” by Bethany Hamilton (June/July<br />

2020)! I would love to see more healthy and<br />

delicious recipes in the upcoming issues.<br />

—Lillian, California<br />

Inspired by Michelle Carter<br />

Dear <strong>Brio</strong>, I was really glad to read your article about goldmedal<br />

Olympian Michelle Carter (June/July 2020). Seeing<br />

how God used her weight and height for her benefit was<br />

really uplifting. I like how her body type was used to help her<br />

accomplish such an important achievement.<br />

—Isabella, Nevada<br />

feed<br />

n to unfollow<br />

deciding whether to unfollow<br />

one, I pause to consider the<br />

s why I am doing so. The<br />

m line is that I want to bring<br />

it of the Spirit into my life—<br />

oy, peace, patience, kindness,<br />

ess, faithfulness, gentleness<br />

lf-control (Galatians 5:22-23).<br />

t’s obvious that someone isn’t<br />

ying those traits through his or<br />

sts, then it’s an easy unfollow.<br />

it’s not that obvious, here are a<br />

her questions to consider:<br />

this person’s posts consistently<br />

ative?<br />

e I found myself comparing<br />

life to this person’s life?<br />

mparison isn’t healthy, whether<br />

uggle with envy or I feel that<br />

better than someone else.)<br />

this person’s posts stress me<br />

?<br />

e answer is “yes” to any of<br />

questions, then that’s a pretty<br />

reason to consider unfollowing<br />

r her.<br />

what if someone’s posts are<br />

noying? I admit that I’ve<br />

owed people because I felt they<br />

d too often. I’ve also unfollowed<br />

We’d love to<br />

hear from you!<br />

Email us at<br />

askbrio@briomagazine.com<br />

with the subject line<br />

“letters to the editor.”<br />

Anger and Apologies<br />

Dear <strong>Brio</strong>, My favorite article in the June/July<br />

2020 magazine was “When Emotions Run High.”<br />

This article helped me figure out how I should<br />

handle my anger and apologize. It also gave me<br />

some helpful tips on how to apologize sincerely.<br />

—Ellie, Ohio<br />

More from <strong>Brio</strong>’s featured authors.<br />


A Healthy Social Media<br />

Feed<br />

Dear <strong>Brio</strong>, I really enjoyed the article<br />

in the June/July 2020 magazine<br />

about creating a healthy social media<br />

feed (“When to Unfollow”). I recently<br />

got Instagram, and I’ve already had<br />

issues with negativity coming through<br />

my feed. This article really helped.<br />

—Brooke, Rhode Island<br />

Jessie Minassian<br />

PAGE 26<br />

Jonathan McKee<br />

PAGE 14<br />

Jamie Ivey<br />

PAGE 36<br />

These books and more can be found at<br />

FocusOnTheFamily.ca/store<br />


It’s time to plan for the<br />

upcoming school year!<br />

Purchase a planner, calendar<br />

or bullet journal to keep track of<br />

events and deadlines. Be sure<br />

to add the following details:<br />

• holidays and birthdays<br />

• school breaks<br />

• assignment due dates<br />

• test dates<br />

• club and activity meetings<br />


Lighten your load by cleaning out your backpack.<br />

Organize your locker so that everything is easy to find.<br />

Create a homework space where you can work<br />

without distractions.<br />

List three activities, classes or<br />

hobbies that you’d like to try<br />

this semester.<br />

What do you want your life to look like at the end of this school year?<br />

Consider ways you’d like to grow and goals you’d like to accomplish.<br />

Create a step-by-step plan to reach those goals, and write those steps<br />

in your planner.<br />

Mark your first day of school.<br />

International Youth Day is Wednesday, Aug. 12.<br />

Monday, Aug. 24, is National Waffle Day.<br />

What other dates are you recognizing this month?<br />

Megan Alms is a freelance writer from Indianapolis.<br />




As your schedule grows busier, what habits, goals and values<br />

do you want to be sure to keep in focus?<br />

Reach out to your community.<br />

List three ways you can serve those around you.<br />

List three ways you can allow your friends<br />

to support you.<br />

Seek God’s guidance as<br />

you organize your time.<br />

Ask God to show you<br />

opportunities for rest.<br />

List three people you<br />

can pray for this month.<br />

Commit to a day of rest<br />

and relaxation each week.<br />

Take a quick break after<br />

every hour spent on<br />

homework.<br />

Create space at the end of<br />

each day for a pause from<br />

all forms of screen time.<br />

Labor Day is Monday, Sept. 7.<br />

Sunday, Sept. 13, is National Grandparents’ Day.<br />

The first day of fall is Tuesday, Sept. 22.<br />

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day.<br />

What other dates are you recognizing this month?<br />

8<br />



Megan Alms is a freelance writer from Indianapolis.

ask the doctor<br />


DEAR DOCTOR: I have trouble<br />

taking pills. I only take them if I<br />

absolutely have to, but most of<br />

the time, I can’t swallow them.<br />

Am I doing something wrong?<br />

DEAR DOCTOR: I try to lose weight by going to the gym and exercising<br />

and lowering my sugar intake, but I just seem to be fatter than other<br />

girls. What should I do?<br />

The first thing I would recommend is that you be kind to yourself. Resist the<br />

temptation to compare yourself to others because healthy looks different on<br />

every individual body.<br />

Remember that during puberty your body is changing in shape. It’s normal<br />

to gain weight at this age and stage, so please focus on fitness—not fatness.<br />

That means eating healthy foods and being active regularly. Pause each day to<br />

appreciate your healthy body and how it functions. Then to help you learn new<br />

skills, consider participating in sports and pursuing hobbies.<br />

It’s always good to celebrate what you like about your body. How you choose<br />

to see yourself (your body image) will impact your confidence and self-respect.<br />

So don’t be swayed by images on social media that insist all girls should look a<br />

certain way.<br />

No body is perfect. Avoid being critical of your own body and never tease<br />

about someone else’s appearance. Replace negative comments that run<br />

through your mind with positive thoughts, focusing on your good qualities—your<br />

artistic talent, your sense of humor, your favorite body feature, your sensitivity<br />

toward others.<br />

Remember that we are all a work in progress. Love the body that you have.<br />

Keep it fit and healthy. Enjoy being you. You are a one and only, and there’s no<br />

need for comparison.<br />

Submit your own questions to askbrio@briomagazine.com<br />

with the subject line “Doctor.”<br />

You are not alone. Many people find<br />

it challenging to take pills, fearing they<br />

may choke on them or get them stuck<br />

in their throat. And seriously, some of<br />

the pills out there look gigantic!<br />

If it takes too long for you to swallow,<br />

pills that come in tablet form may start<br />

dissolving in your mouth. Using a pill<br />

splitter can reduce a large tablet to<br />

smaller pieces, making it easier for you<br />

to swallow.<br />

To help patients take pills, some<br />

medications are formulated as<br />

capsules. These are designed with a<br />

protective covering that is slippery,<br />

allowing the medicine to more easily<br />

slide down your throat.<br />

Try taking a drink of water and letting<br />

the capsule float on the liquid in your<br />

mouth. Then you can think more about<br />

swallowing the water than the pill. The<br />

goal is to simply let the pill “go along<br />

for the ride”—kind of like an inner tube<br />

floating down a river.<br />

A couple of final thoughts: Some<br />

medications may be available in liquid<br />

form and others are designed to melt<br />

in your mouth. Whenever your doctor<br />

writes a prescription for you, consider<br />

asking if one of these options may be<br />

available.<br />


Dr. Patricia Landry is a family doctor in Easley, South Carolina. She is a member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians<br />

Resource Council and has been a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians for more than 25 years.<br />

These are the opinions of one physician and not necessarily those of Focus on the Family. In similar cases you should consult your own physician.<br />



Benefits of Breakfast<br />

Choosing foods that energize<br />

and fuel you for success<br />


As a child, one of my favorite ways to celebrate family birthdays<br />

was to turn our kitchen into an imaginary restaurant for breakfast. I<br />

enjoyed the creative process and added colors and embellishments<br />

to all that I did. Typically, I would try to persuade one of my two<br />

younger brothers to serve as a waiter for the meal. I still remember<br />

how making breakfast gave me a spark of joy and creativity.<br />


Food for focus<br />

Working with food provides opportunities<br />

to express ourselves, get creative<br />

and show love to those around us. In<br />

addition to self-expression, the foods<br />

we choose to eat will impact how we<br />

feel, act and focus throughout the<br />

day—and it all starts with breakfast.<br />

Just like a car needs gas to run,<br />

our body needs food to get moving.<br />

Have you ever noticed that the word<br />

breakfast breaks down into two words:<br />

“break” and “fast”? The word literally<br />

means to break the fast (or time<br />

without food) that your body has been<br />

in throughout the night. So, how do we<br />

best break that evening fast?<br />

Vegetables, fruits, whole grains,<br />

protein and healthy fats are all key<br />

food categories that help the body feel<br />

its best. So for breakfast, it’s good if we<br />

aim to include at least three of these<br />

five categories, with one of the categories<br />

being a vegetable or fruit. For<br />

example, one morning we may choose<br />

a whole grain, protein and a fruit. The<br />

next, we may decide to eat protein,<br />

veggies and healthy fats. Including all<br />

five categories in the same breakfast<br />

meal would be even better!<br />

If a food doesn’t fit into one of<br />

these “everyday” food categories, that<br />

doesn’t mean we can’t eat it. It just<br />

means that it’s probably not going to<br />

fuel us for success. Where “everyday”<br />

foods leave the body feeling energized,<br />

“sometimes” foods (doughnuts, sugary<br />

cereals, toaster pastries), can leave us<br />

feeling drained and tired.<br />

“Everyday” foods<br />

Making veggies, fruits, whole grains,<br />

protein and healthy fats a part of our<br />

morning routine can help fuel our body<br />

for the day. Here are a few examples of<br />

each category:<br />

Vegetables and fruits come in a<br />

variety of colors that provide different<br />

types of antioxidants to help the body<br />

function well. They also provide fiber,<br />

keep us hydrated with their highwater<br />

content and supply important<br />

vitamins and minerals.<br />

Whole grains provide long-lasting<br />

energy through complex carbs. Veggies<br />

and fruits pair well with whole grains<br />

such as oats, whole-grain bread, brown<br />

rice, quinoa or whole-grain cereals.<br />

Protein helps the body repair tissues<br />

and promotes a healthy metabolism.<br />

Protein can include eggs, seafood,<br />

meat, peanut butter or Greek yogurt.<br />

Healthy omega-3 fats are a type<br />

of unsaturated fat that promotes<br />

brain health and keeps skin, hair and<br />

nails strong. This includes almonds,<br />

walnuts, flaxseed or chia seeds.<br />

Other unsaturated fats, such as nut<br />

butters, fish, nuts and seeds, are<br />

going to benefit our body more than<br />

saturated fats that are found in foods<br />

such as cheese, butter, coconut oil<br />

and red meat. Our body needs both<br />

types of fat, but it’s best if we include<br />

unsaturated fats on our plate.<br />

Breakfast habits<br />

Now that you understand a few<br />

breakfast basics, you may be asking<br />

yourself, What if I don’t have time for<br />

breakfast? Or, What if I’m not hungry<br />

in the morning? I know it can be<br />

tough to wake up early enough to pull<br />

together breakfast, especially since it’s<br />

important to get a good night’s rest. It<br />

also can be challenging to know what<br />

foods are best for fueling your body<br />

from day to day. But planning ahead<br />

can help you avoid morning stress and<br />

make breakfast a habit. (Check out a<br />

few quick and easy breakfast recipes<br />

on page 68!)<br />

And remember, breakfast will look<br />

different for everyone. Maybe you<br />

prefer to drink your breakfast, so you<br />

choose to blend a balanced smoothie.<br />

Or maybe it’s most realistic for you to<br />

eat breakfast as a midmorning snack.<br />

Or maybe breakfast looks different for<br />

you in different seasons. However you<br />

decide to fuel your body, know that it<br />

has an impact on your day.<br />

Breakfast doesn’t have to be the<br />

focus of your day, but it can play a<br />

big role in helping you to focus for the<br />

day. And you might not remember the<br />

details of each meal, just like I don’t<br />

remember all the details of those<br />

birthday breakfast restaurants. But<br />

even if the food isn’t memorable, it<br />

can be impactful! So get creative, and<br />

start your day with a well-balanced<br />

breakfast, choosing foods that inspire<br />

you to live colorfully—energized and<br />

fueled for success.<br />

Amanda Moder is a registered, licensed<br />

dietitian, practicing in the Kansas City<br />

metro-area. She is also a dance instructor<br />

who performs professionally. She loves how<br />

balanced eating can help us be our best.<br />



Living<br />

in the<br />

Moment<br />

Are you missing<br />

face-to-face<br />

connection in a<br />

screen-to-screen<br />

world?<br />




Ashley had been looking forward to this day for weeks.<br />

Hanging out with her friends at the lake, then<br />

heading to her favorite pizza place for dinner, and<br />

then spending the evening by the pool and hot tub at her<br />

best friend, Christine’s, house. The perfect day!<br />

If only.<br />

Halfway through the day, Ashley began wondering why<br />

they even bothered coming to the lake. Everyone seemed<br />

more interested in taking perfect pictures of the moment<br />

rather than actually enjoying the moment.<br />

“Anyone wanna swim out to the diving raft?” Ashley asked.<br />

Silence.<br />

Everyone was buried in their phones.<br />

“Hey,” Ashley’s friend Megan said, “let’s grab a pic of us all<br />

here climbing on the rocks!” Everyone gathered together,<br />

and Megan took a group selfie.<br />

Click.<br />

“Wait, let me see.” Megan checked the pic, zooming in on<br />

herself. “No way. My arm fat is showing. Let’s take another<br />

one!”<br />

Click. Click. Click.<br />

She checked again. “OK, this one will work. I’m sending it<br />

to you all now.”<br />

Everyone disappeared into their phones again.<br />

Open, save image, post, caption, tag, tag, tag, tag, hashtag,<br />

hashtag, share . . .<br />

Pizza was no different. Several friends all together with<br />

good music and great food, but no one was talking to each<br />

other. Sure, there was a bit of conversation, but Ashley<br />

noticed how everyone stayed buried in their phones.<br />

Two hours later, Ashley was lying on the floor of<br />

Christine’s bedroom while Christine scrolled through her<br />

Insta feed.<br />

“I can’t believe Taylor is going out with Kendra now,”<br />

Christine said. “What does he see in her?”<br />

“Hey, should we go outside and hang by the pool?” Ashley<br />

finally suggested.<br />

“Nah.” Christine said, not even looking up from her phone.<br />

“Pool’s boring. Hey, did you see the pic Megan posted of<br />

Brianna? Hilarious!”<br />

Eventually they both faded off to sleep . . . phones by<br />

their bedsides.<br />

It’s not like Ashley doesn’t like her phone. She uses her<br />

phone all the time. But Ashley sees her phone as a great<br />

way to connect with people outside the room, when it<br />

doesn’t interfere with people inside the room. ><br />








What about those screens?<br />

Ashley isn’t alone. A growing number<br />

of teenagers are becoming frustrated<br />

with exactly how much screens are<br />

beginning to distract them from<br />

what’s truly important. In fact,<br />

researchers recently asked teens their<br />

opinions about their own screen time.<br />

And this is what researchers found:<br />

• Nine in 10 teenagers view spending<br />

too much time online as a problem<br />

facing people their age, including<br />

60% who say it is a major problem.<br />

• 54% of teenagers think they<br />

actually spend too much time on<br />

their phone.<br />

• Almost 70% of teenagers surveyed<br />

admitted that they wished they<br />

could spend more time “socializing<br />

face to face” than online.<br />

Based on these findings, many<br />

teens seem to feel that devices<br />

designed to help us connect actually<br />

cause a disconnect. What about<br />

you? Do you ever find your screens<br />

disconnecting you from the people<br />

around you?<br />

Here are two habits you can<br />

practice to help you find fulfillment:<br />

Seek face-to-face connection in an<br />

otherwise screen-to-screen world.<br />

Whenever your friend or family<br />

member walks in the room, pause<br />

what you’re doing, and put your<br />

phone to the side, screen down. Many<br />

people your age actually enjoy faceto-face<br />

connections more than online<br />

ones, but they just don’t know how to<br />

keep their screens from getting in the<br />

way. The simple practice of putting<br />

your phone down or in your pocket<br />

helps you focus on the relationships<br />

that matter. It keeps you from<br />

ignoring the people in the room.<br />

rates have been spiking at unprecedented<br />

levels—ever since 2012 when<br />

the majority of young people began<br />

carrying smartphones. Most experts<br />

now see an indisputable link between<br />

screen time and depression. In fact,<br />

countless studies reveal that happiness<br />

and mental wellness are highest<br />

when young people spend no more<br />

than two hours of “extracurricular<br />

digital media use” each day, especially<br />

on social media. Would you agree that<br />

the more hours teens spend on their<br />

devices, the more their mental wellbeing<br />

could steadily decrease?<br />

Could you put your<br />

phone away?<br />

No, screens aren’t bad. But like<br />

many things, if and when we let<br />

them distract us from what and<br />

who are important in life, we’ll<br />

see the consequences—in our<br />

relationships and our mental health.<br />

It’s like the apostle Paul says in the<br />

New Testament: “ ‘I have the right<br />

to do anything,’ you say—but not<br />

everything is beneficial. ‘I have the<br />

right to do anything’—but I will not<br />

be mastered by anything”<br />

(1 Corinthians 6:12, NIV).<br />

Who wants to be enslaved to their<br />

phone?<br />

Not me.<br />

Not Ashley.<br />

And not the 70% of teens who<br />

would rather put their phones away<br />

and focus on the face-to-face connections<br />

in front of them.<br />

So, try it. Put your phone down and<br />

you just might be surprised by how<br />

fulfilling it is. After all, you really don’t<br />

need a phone to connect with the<br />

people right in front of you.<br />

Limit your screen time. Mental<br />

health experts are discovering that<br />

screen time matters big time! Here’s<br />

the simple reality: In the last decade,<br />

anxiety, depression and teen suicide<br />

Jonathan McKee is currently working with<br />

Focus on the Family’s Plugged In team. He’s<br />

also a sought after public speaker and the<br />

author of more than 20 books, including The<br />

Teen’s Guide to Social Media . . . & Mobile<br />

Devices.<br />


get plugged in<br />


Submit your own questions<br />

to askbrio@briomagazine.com<br />

with the subject line “Plugged In.”<br />

IMDB.COM<br />

DEAR PLUGGED IN: Some of my friends are watching<br />

the Netflix show “Never Have I Ever,” but I’m not<br />

sure it’s OK. What do you think about it?<br />

—Camila, Texas<br />

Great question. And your friends aren’t the only ones<br />

watching Netflix’s buzzy new teen show. This comedy-drama<br />

from creator Mindy Kaling (from “The Office” and “The<br />

Mindy Show”) focuses on Devi Vishwakumar, a 15-year-old<br />

Indian-American girl growing up in Southern California. And<br />

Devi’s got problems. You see, last year, her dad died—at<br />

school—which left her temporarily paralyzed. Now she’s<br />

mostly known as “the girl whose dad died at school and got<br />

paralyzed,” an image she’s hoping to shake by embracing a<br />

wild, partying lifestyle. It doesn’t help that her relationship<br />

with her mother isn’t great either.<br />

Then there are boys. Actually, there’s one that Devi’s really<br />

lusting after: Paxton Hall-Yoshida. She and her two besties<br />

(one of whom is same-sex attracted) constantly imagine<br />

hooking up with their crushes. Apart from some kissing, that<br />

hasn’t happened yet. But Devi is praying to her family’s Hindu<br />

gods that it does—soon. Toss in a lot of language and other<br />

risky choices, and “Never Have I Ever”—despite some sweet<br />

moments as Devi tries to work through her grief about her<br />

dad—has plenty of problems for teen viewers.<br />

DEAR PLUGGED IN: What do you think of Dua Lipa’s<br />

music?<br />

—Charlotte, Iowa<br />

I’m glad you asked about Dua Lipa. This rising British singer<br />

has been around for a couple of years, but she’s really broken<br />

through with her second album, Future Nostalgia.<br />

Plugged In has reviewed several of Dua’s songs and<br />

albums, and we’ve found a consistent tension between<br />

her positive and problematic messages. On the plus side,<br />

she frequently sings about trying to set healthy boundaries<br />

when romantic relationships get unhealthy. She’s willing<br />

to walk away from things when a guy treats her badly, and<br />

her self-esteem isn’t wrapped up in pleasing self-centered<br />

boyfriends. On her single “Don’t Start Now,” for instance, she<br />

says that she’s moved on from “the guy who tried to/Hurt me<br />

with the word ‘goodbye.’ ” Looking back, she now realizes that<br />

she’s “better on the other side.”<br />

But then we got to those problems I mentioned earlier.<br />

Sometimes she knows a relationship is bad news, but<br />

that self-awareness doesn’t stop her from making reckless<br />

choices. Still, it’s pretty clear that a big part of Dua’s<br />

approach to romance has to do with the physical aspect of<br />

her relationships. Her many sensual songs focus primarily on<br />

sex. On the track “Hallucinate,” for instance, she compares<br />

a guy’s effect on her to an addictive drug: “No, I could<br />

never have too much/I’ll breathe you in, forever and ever/<br />

Hallucinate.”<br />

At times, then, Dua Lipa strives to make good decisions.<br />

But more often, she embraces bad ones, ignoring long-term<br />

consequences and wise boundaries for the sake of an<br />

intense sensual feeling in the moment.<br />

Our team from Focus on the Family’s Plugged In<br />

media review and discernment website is eager to<br />

read your pop-culture questions. Find out what’s<br />

in movies, music, TV shows and books by visiting<br />

PluggedIn.ca .<br />




e inspired<br />

One Strong Woman<br />

Paralympian Marissa Arndt Retzlaff<br />

talks judo, faith and overcoming the odds<br />


Marissa leans in, greets her friend<br />

Priscilla and quietly whispers, “Sorry.”<br />

She grabs hold of Priscilla’s collar<br />

and tries to throw her to the ground!<br />

Priscilla grasps Marissa’s elbow,<br />

returns the “sorry” and attempts to<br />

sweep Marissa’s feet out from under<br />

her. No, it’s not a script for a bad TV<br />

show. It’s the true story of an international<br />

judo match between two blind<br />

friends.<br />

Twenty-seven-year-old Marissa<br />

Arndt Retzlaff may be blind, but her<br />

vision is clear. “I don’t want my story<br />

to be one of missed opportunities,”<br />

she says. So she takes her experience<br />

of being different and uses it as a<br />

strength, fueling her accomplishments<br />

through her faith in God. “We<br />

are stronger than we think,” she says.<br />

No doubt, this Paralympian from<br />

Wisconsin is one strong woman.<br />

No kid wants to be different<br />

As a 3-year-old, Marissa was diagnosed<br />

with retinitis pigmentosa, a<br />

disease that would slowly leave her<br />

with the ability to see only light and<br />

dark shadows. At first, Marissa admits<br />

it wasn’t so bad. She had night blindness<br />

and no peripheral vision; if she<br />

sat in the front row in class she could<br />

see well enough. She hid her disability<br />

from everyone but her closest friends.<br />

But by fourth grade things got more<br />

challenging. PE class in a new school<br />

was especially painful. There were no<br />

accommodations for her lack of side<br />

vision, so Marissa played baseball and<br />

volleyball without the ability to see<br />

the ball—until it hit her. “I broke more<br />

glasses than I could count,” she recalls.<br />

By sixth grade Marissa had tunnel<br />

vision. She could only see four letters<br />

on a page at a time. Just as classes got<br />

harder, her ability to read got slower.<br />

The less Marissa could see, the<br />

more she could hear kids’ cruel<br />

comments. Teasing that started in<br />

kindergarten with “four eyes” had<br />

escalated to “Marissa is as blind<br />

as a bat.” Middle school girls were<br />

particularly cruel. One terrible day<br />

on the seventh-grade field trip to a<br />

water park, a group of girls formed<br />

a circle around Marissa and pelted<br />

her with ice. Not too much later her<br />

best friend decided it was better to be<br />

popular than be friends with Marissa.<br />

Although Marissa knew she could be<br />

strong, she also knew she needed a<br />

friend to help her.<br />

Marissa’s friend and companion for<br />

taking her mind off the bullies came<br />

with dirty fur—an abandoned dog<br />

rescued by Marissa’s family. “Holly<br />

became my best friend. Even though<br />

Life Verse<br />

“Rejoice in hope,<br />

be patient in tribulation,<br />

be constant in prayer.”<br />

—Romans 12:12<br />

I hated school I could come home<br />

and love life because of her.” Marissa<br />

also loved to write music, stories<br />

and poetry. She would try to finish<br />

her schoolwork quickly so she could<br />

escape into writing. She found life in<br />

what she loved.<br />

Marissa also found life in the<br />

love of her family. Corey, Marissa’s<br />

older brother, constantly kept his<br />

protective eye on his little sister.<br />

Everyone knew Corey was watching<br />

out for Marissa, whether they were at<br />

school, riding in rodeos or on family<br />

camping trips. Marissa’s parents filled<br />

their lives with family time and all the<br />

special resources Marissa needed to<br />

be independent.<br />

Marissa’s parents also made sure<br />

Marissa spent summers at “blind<br />

camps” with other kids who could<br />

not see. At camp she made lifelong<br />

friends who understood her. Her<br />

camp friends were not only blind, but<br />

many of them also had cancer or had<br />

lost their sight because of terrible<br />

accidents. They all learned skills for<br />

living without their sight.<br />

One fabulous summer day at blind<br />

camp, when Marissa was 14 and<br />

her vision was down to a pinhole,<br />

Marissa’s world expanded with the<br />

introduction of several sports she<br />

could play, including judo. “I loved<br />

the feeling of being thrown and<br />

especially of throwing someone else.”<br />

Fearing that judo was dangerous,<br />

Marissa’s parents decided it should<br />

be a “camp-only” activity. ><br />



Newlyweds<br />

Marissa met Brady Retzlaff<br />

when he came to work as an<br />

intern at her church in Colorado.<br />

They bonded over their work<br />

with kids and their love for the<br />

Green Bay Packers. Her friends<br />

looked up Brady online so they<br />

could tell Marissa what he<br />

looked like.<br />

They married in August 2019<br />

in Wisconsin, and then swam<br />

with manatees, dolphins and<br />

sea lions on their honeymoon<br />

in Mexico. Marissa and Brady<br />

now live in St. Louis, where he<br />

is finishing seminary and she is<br />

training for the Paralympics.<br />

Finding a new focus<br />

One day in high school Marissa found<br />

herself surrounded by a group of girls<br />

in the cafeteria. But these sophomores<br />

came with a different message than<br />

the water park posse: “High school<br />

is so much better if you participate<br />

in things.” Heeding their advice and<br />

the advice of her vision teacher (“You<br />

have to give a little to get a little”),<br />

Marissa took off—running track. She<br />

could see just enough to stay in her<br />

lane. Finally, she was part of a team.<br />

That same year Marissa got great<br />

news. She was going to receive a<br />

Seeing Eye dog. The bad news? She<br />

would have to master and use a white<br />

cane for two years before she could<br />

take possession of her dog. That put<br />

an end to any “disability hiding” she<br />

was still pulling off. It turned out to<br />

be a blessing she didn’t expect. The<br />

cane actually helped people understand<br />

she really couldn’t see.<br />

The summer before her senior year,<br />

Marissa spent a month in New Jersey<br />

learning how to care for and depend<br />

on her guide dog. The glorious day<br />

finally came: Marissa and her dog<br />

Fray stepped out into the world<br />

together.<br />

“Let me try!”<br />

With Fray constantly at her side,<br />

Marissa made the move to college<br />

to study interpersonal and organizational<br />

communication. She was<br />

now three hours from home. It was<br />

challenging and wonderful. Everyone<br />

wanted to meet Fray and Marissa.<br />

Even though her vision became a<br />

“shaky, blurry mess,” her life actually<br />

came into focus. She signed up for<br />

a wellness course in judo. And she<br />

found the rough and tumble activity<br />

made her so happy. When the course<br />

ended, she joined a local judo club.<br />

Judo is a Japanese martial art called<br />

“The Gentle Way.” In “The Gentle<br />

Way,” the judoka wins by throwing her<br />

opponent and then landing on her<br />

opponent’s back, pinning her, choking<br />

her or getting points from an “arm bar”<br />

(basically bending her opponent’s<br />

arm until it would break if the ref<br />

didn’t stop the play). Such a gentle<br />

way! No wonder Marissa and Priscilla<br />

regularly apologize to each other.<br />

Marissa has a gentle spirit, yet she<br />

is a fierce competitor. In fact, she<br />

fought sighted athletes for three years<br />

before she even heard about blind<br />

para judo. “There is a lot of respect<br />

in judo. Respecting your opponent,<br />

yourself, your sport. When you are on<br />

the mat, you are there to fight so you<br />

have to just be as tough as you can.”<br />

A deeper source<br />

Just as she was throwing herself into<br />

judo, Marissa threw herself into<br />

growing deep roots of faith. Early<br />

on in college a friend invited her to<br />

dinner and a Bible study. Although<br />

Marissa had been raised going to<br />

church, it was in a pastor’s living<br />

room that Marissa began to understand<br />

the God she had been talking to<br />

every night since she was a little girl.<br />

She began listening to and studying<br />

her Bible. By 2016, when she had<br />

earned her communication degree,<br />

she had also earned a double master’s<br />

in theology and deaconess studies.<br />

Making the most of every<br />

opportunity<br />

Although many things did not come<br />

easily to Marissa, she continues to<br />

challenge herself. While training<br />

to compete with the 2021 USA<br />

Paralympic Team in Tokyo, she is also<br />

pursuing her dream of becoming a<br />

hospital chaplain.<br />

“You have to have a good work ethic.<br />

. . . A lot of things take a lot of work,<br />

and you can’t just give up because<br />

you don’t get it. Not everything comes<br />

easy!”<br />

Being different and being bullied<br />

were challenging, but Marissa’s life<br />

and faith have given her a message<br />

she really wants young women to<br />

hear—whether they are struggling<br />

at school or striving to become the<br />

very best in the world at their sport.<br />

“Know that you are beautifully and<br />

wonderfully made by God, and you<br />

are so much stronger than you think!<br />

Don’t let your history be one of<br />

missed opportunities.”<br />

Gayleen Gardner is a Colorado native, author,<br />

playwright and master chocolate chip cookie<br />

baker. A mother to sons, she loves spending<br />

time with the amazing young women in her<br />

life, including her granddaughter, Olivia.<br />


TOP LEFT DOWN: Training at the<br />

U.S. Olympic Training Center (OTC) in<br />

Colorado Springs, Colorado / walking<br />

on the OTC campus / Marissa with Fray /<br />

horse riding at 14 / competing<br />




Spiritual Rhythms<br />

Spending time with God, even when life is busy<br />


Beep! Beep! Beep!<br />

I fumbled in the dark to snooze<br />

my alarm. Whose idea was it to start<br />

school at such a dreadful hour? I<br />

thought, returning to the warmth of my<br />

covers.<br />

Five minutes later, the alarm blared<br />

again. After several snoozes and my<br />

mom’s menacing call through the door,<br />

I dragged myself out of bed. I threw on<br />

an outfit, pulled my hair into a ponytail<br />

and grabbed a quick bite as I ran out<br />

the door to the school bus.<br />

Only after I climbed the steps into<br />

the warm bus did I realize that I had<br />

missed my morning devotions. Again.<br />

Too busy for God<br />

That scene was more than a decade<br />

ago, but I vividly remember the chaos—<br />

and the disappointment. Actually, I still<br />

have days like that. How about you?<br />

Even if you have good intentions to<br />

spend time with God, it’s easy to feel<br />

like you just don’t have time. Between<br />

early morning alarms, daily commutes<br />

to school and practice, after-school<br />

homework and activities, how’s a girl<br />

to get a few moments with God? Add<br />

to that the constant noise from your<br />

earbuds, your friends’ TikTok videos<br />

and your favorite TV show. You may<br />

even struggle with feelings of failure<br />

because you’ve been taught to spend<br />

more time with God.<br />

Be encouraged—it doesn’t have to<br />

be that way. God doesn’t want us to<br />

meet with Him just to check something<br />

off a to-do list or to impress Him with<br />

our devotion. He wants us to get to<br />

know Him, love Him and find joy in Him<br />

(Psalm 16:11).<br />

Spiritual habits for busy girls<br />

There is no one-size-fits-all “quiet time”<br />

formula in the Bible because God<br />

created each of us one of a kind. Our<br />

time with Him isn’t limited to morning<br />

devotions. We can form our own<br />

spiritual habits that will create rhythms<br />

to help us enjoy time with God every<br />

day. Even when life is busy.<br />

One recent scientific study<br />

confirmed that individuals are more<br />

likely to stick with a new habit if it’s<br />

easy to do. So instead of trying to read<br />

three chapters of the Bible every day,<br />

you could start with reading just three<br />

verses a day. Become consistent with<br />

three verses, and over time you can<br />

add more to your readings.<br />

Here’s another idea to consider: Link<br />

your new spiritual habit to something<br />

you’re already doing. If it’s a part of<br />

your daily routine, you won’t have as<br />

much trouble remembering to do it.<br />

Here are some habits you may want<br />

to try:<br />

• Listen to a chapter of an audio Bible<br />

while you eat breakfast.<br />

• Enjoy some worship music on your<br />

way to school.<br />

• Pray for the people you see in the<br />

hallway as you walk to class.<br />

• Write a verse you want to memorize<br />

at the top of your weekly planner,<br />

then recite it each time you check<br />

your schedule.<br />

• Journal one or two sentences of<br />

gratitude before you get into bed.<br />

Create your spiritual rhythm<br />

Each of these recommendations is<br />

a spiritual habit—a practice we can<br />

repeat day after day to focus on God.<br />

When we stack these spiritual habits<br />

throughout our day, we develop<br />

spiritual rhythms in our life. So, no<br />

more waiting for the perfect time or<br />

place—let’s craft a spiritual rhythm!<br />

Step one. Start with one<br />

spiritual habit and practice it until<br />

it becomes an automatic part of your<br />

daily routine. Try to make it enjoyable<br />

by using colored pencils in your Bible<br />

or writing what you learn in a journal.<br />

Step two. Talk with God and a<br />

trusted adult about your spiritual<br />

habit. Tell God what you’re learning<br />

in your Bible reading or what you’re<br />

enjoying most about your new spiritual<br />

habit. Consider talking to a trusted<br />

adult about what’s working and what<br />

you might need to change.<br />

Step three. Stack your habits to<br />

develop a spiritual rhythm. After<br />

you master this first spiritual habit, add<br />

a second habit and then a third. Over<br />

time, you’ll develop a daily spiritual<br />

rhythm that is as unique as you are.<br />

The Bible assures us that God is<br />

available to us anytime, day or night:<br />

“You will seek me and find me, when you<br />

seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah<br />

29:13). So, whether you’re new to<br />

reading the Bible or you’ve grown up<br />

going to church, you can develop a<br />

spiritual rhythm that helps you get to<br />

know and love your Creator more.<br />

Asheritah Ciuciu is a bestselling author and<br />

speaker, wife to her high school sweetheart<br />

and mama to three spunky kiddos. Her<br />

passion is to help women enjoy God through<br />

creative Bible study habits.<br />


Developing<br />

spiritual habits<br />

There are a variety of spiritual habits<br />

to practice. Consider the following:<br />

Attend church regularly.<br />

Participate in a youth group.<br />

Fellowship with other believers.<br />

Serve in your community.<br />

Worship the Lord through<br />

music, dance, art, writing, etc.<br />

Read the Bible.<br />

Pray regularly.<br />

Memorize Scripture.<br />

Give thanks.<br />

Practice generosity.<br />

Share the Good News<br />

of the Gospel with others.<br />






Prayer Journal<br />

As you talk with God about all that’s in your heart, feel free to<br />

journal your prayers, doodle Scriptures and save lyrics or quotes<br />

that encourage or inspire you.<br />

Where Do You Run?<br />


Growing up, there were days when<br />

I wanted to hide under the covers<br />

until circumstances changed. Until<br />

the rumors died. Until I was older—or<br />

at least until the pimples on my face<br />

disappeared.<br />

Jesus affirms that we all will have<br />

trouble in this life (John 16:33). So, no<br />

matter our age, when circumstances<br />

change and times get difficult, the<br />

question remains the same. Where do<br />

we run?<br />

Oftentimes, instead of running to<br />

God with our problems, we try to run<br />

away from them. We seek comfort and<br />

refuge in everything but God. We run to<br />

the refrigerator, TV or social media to<br />

try to “escape.” But those temporary<br />

fixes are just that—temporary.<br />

Jesus tells us, in Matthew 11:28, to<br />

come to Him when we are weary and<br />

burdened. He will give us rest, and His<br />

comfort won’t be temporary. But first,<br />

we need to choose to run to Him.<br />

Let’s take a look at the psalmist<br />

David. In 1 Samuel 17, David volunteers<br />

to fight a large and strong Philistine<br />

champion named Goliath. Although<br />

David may not have known exactly<br />

how he was going to defeat the giant,<br />

he knew the God he served. God had<br />

already delivered him from a lion and<br />

a bear (verse 37), so David chose to<br />

remember God’s faithfulness and<br />

trusted Him despite the circumstances.<br />

You and I can do the same. As we<br />

face difficult situations in life, we can<br />

take comfort in verses like Psalm 18:2<br />

and Proverbs 18:10. When we run to<br />

God we are safe.<br />

Where do you feel the need for<br />

rescue? Jot down a few verses that<br />

speak into your situation, and then<br />

pause to reflect on God’s faithfulness<br />

in your life. Then, choose to run to<br />

Him.<br />

Kirstin Leigh is a Christian speaker, author,<br />

singer and screenwriter.<br />


Prayer Journal<br />

" The L ord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom<br />

I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."<br />

—Psalm 18:2<br />



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