Focus on the Family Magazine - August/September 2020

It can be a struggle to raise a family while balancing your work life, social life and relationships. Focus on the Family magazine is here to help! Each complimentary issue delivers fresh, practical Biblical guidance on family and life topics. Every issue comes packed with relevant advice to build up your kids, strengthen your marriage, navigate entertainment and culture, and handle common challenges you may face in your marriage and parenting journeys. Plus you'll find seasonal advice ranging from back-to-school activities to date night tips for you and your spouse.

It can be a struggle to raise a family while balancing your work life, social life and relationships. Focus on the Family magazine is here to help! Each complimentary issue delivers fresh, practical Biblical guidance on family and life topics.

Every issue comes packed with relevant advice to build up your kids, strengthen your marriage, navigate entertainment and culture, and handle common challenges you may face in your marriage and parenting journeys. Plus you'll find seasonal advice ranging from back-to-school activities to date night tips for you and your spouse.


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Helping Families Thrive in Christ<br />

AUG / SEP <strong>2020</strong><br />

Canada<br />



WORLD<br />

DANIEL<br />

HUERTA<br />

Author<br />

Seven<br />

Traits of<br />

Effective<br />

Parenting<br />

pg. 29

Raising a family today<br />

can be difficult<br />

The new reality parents are facing of working<br />

from home while trying to teach <strong>the</strong>ir children<br />

can be overwhelming. Trying to care for aging<br />

parents while protecting <strong>the</strong>m from an unseen<br />

virus can be daunting. Building <strong>the</strong> faith of<br />

your family while church and Sunday school<br />

are virtual can be difficult.<br />

That’s why <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada is<br />

here to help families with articles, broadcasts,<br />

downloadable activities, media streaming and<br />

more. We want to equip families to not just<br />

make it through <strong>the</strong>se times but to thrive in<br />

<strong>the</strong> midst of <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

Will you d<strong>on</strong>ate today so families can c<strong>on</strong>tinue to have<br />

access to <strong>the</strong> support <strong>the</strong>y need <strong>the</strong>se days?<br />


visit focus<strong>on</strong><strong>the</strong>family.ca/give<br />

call 1.800.661.9800<br />

mail 19946 80a ave, langley, bc v2y 0j8

<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong><br />

19<br />

Couples<br />



Try this fun idea for c<strong>on</strong>necting<br />

with your spouse<br />

by Jared Hottenstein<br />



Your decisi<strong>on</strong>s now can help you<br />

prepare for future crises<br />

by Carol Kent<br />


How many years does it take a<br />

husband to replace a light fixture<br />

for his wife?<br />

by Jay Payleitner<br />

Faith & Inspirati<strong>on</strong><br />


Helping kids stand with God in a<br />

shifting culture<br />

by David Benham with Jas<strong>on</strong> Benham<br />


Your little <strong>on</strong>es need you . . .<br />

and you need time with Him<br />

by Melissa Spoelstra<br />


Empowering teen girls to live out<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir faith and embrace <strong>the</strong>ir identity<br />

as children of God<br />

by Scott Johns<strong>on</strong><br />

Kids & Teens<br />



A flexible mindset can make a big<br />

difference in how we resp<strong>on</strong>d to<br />

challenges<br />

by Daniel P. Huerta<br />


Nurturing our kids in <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

God-given talents<br />

by Shelia Erwin<br />

37 ENTER YOUR<br />


How to stay c<strong>on</strong>nected with your<br />

grandkids as <strong>the</strong>y grow<br />

by Marie Isom<br />

37<br />

In Every Issue<br />


<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 3


Terence Rolst<strong>on</strong> is<br />

president of <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Family</strong> Canada<br />

turning to God<br />

in times of crisis<br />


and I hope and pray your family has been<br />

able to enjoy it – even if it has looked different<br />

than o<strong>the</strong>r years.<br />

One positive outcome I have noticed in<br />

this ever-changing world we’re living in is<br />

families spending more meaningful time<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r. Without <strong>the</strong> distracti<strong>on</strong> of busyness,<br />

many of us are taking this unique<br />

opportunity to slow down and invest in <strong>the</strong><br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ships we often take for granted.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> new school year starts, I hope you can c<strong>on</strong>tinue to<br />

do that, but I also hope you can look for ways to invest in<br />

that o<strong>the</strong>r relati<strong>on</strong>ship we can also overlook – our<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ship with our Heavenly Fa<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

In times of crisis, chaos and uncertainty, God desires us<br />

to turn to him, take refuge in him and find rest in his presence.<br />

These are precious gifts our Fa<strong>the</strong>r delights to give his<br />

children, but many of us struggle with accepting <strong>the</strong>m as<br />

enough. We think we need to process our stress and anxiety<br />

<strong>on</strong> our own, ei<strong>the</strong>r by trying to push it aside or by distracting<br />

ourselves with things that never really bring us peace.<br />

In this digital magazine, you’ll find articles to help you<br />

face crises with Christ’s strength, not your own. Whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

it’s navigating storms as a couple, helping your kids stand<br />

firm in a shifting culture or carving out time in your day to<br />

spend time with God, you’ll find biblical advice to guide you<br />

through <strong>the</strong> external and internal struggles so many of us<br />

are facing right now.<br />

From all of us at <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada, our c<strong>on</strong>tinued<br />

prayers are for <strong>the</strong> safety of you and your family, and<br />

that you would all take <strong>the</strong> time to cherish <strong>the</strong> gifts of peace<br />

and rest our Heavenly Fa<strong>the</strong>r is glad to give us.<br />

president Jim Daly<br />

chief operating officer Ken Windebank<br />

publisher Steve Johns<strong>on</strong><br />

focus canada president Terence Rolst<strong>on</strong><br />

editorial director Sheila Seifert<br />

managing editor Andrea Gutierrez<br />

copy chief Scott DeNicola<br />

c<strong>on</strong>tributing editors Ginger Kolbaba,<br />

Michael Ridgeway, Vance Fry, Marianne<br />

Hering, Thomas Jeffries, Jennifer L<strong>on</strong>as<br />

and Jeff Masching<br />

art director Brian Mellema<br />

designer Anneka Jack<br />

cover Sarah Kenney<br />

media publishing director Kevin Shirin<br />

editorial assistant Kat Bittner<br />

circulati<strong>on</strong> Sandy Grivy<br />

Thank you!<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> provides this magazine and<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r resources through <strong>the</strong> generosity of friends<br />

like you. <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/d<strong>on</strong>ate<br />

For a subscripti<strong>on</strong>, go to <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/<br />

magazine.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> magazine April/May <strong>2020</strong>, Vol. 5,<br />

No. 2 ISSN 2471-5921, © <strong>2020</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>.<br />

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Scripture quotati<strong>on</strong>s, unless o<strong>the</strong>rwise indicated, are<br />

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Terence Rolst<strong>on</strong><br />


4<br />


<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Hacks & Facts<br />


<strong>Family</strong>-Friendly<br />

Picture Books<br />

Take a look at this list of family-friendly<br />

picture books that you can read with<br />

your children. Then check out <strong>the</strong><br />

reviews for <strong>the</strong>se 10 books at<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/PictureBooks.<br />


<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 5


Helping Kids Start <strong>the</strong><br />

School Day Right<br />

Here’s what I do to get my 5- and 6-year-old out<br />

<strong>the</strong> door for school <strong>on</strong> time:<br />

• We pick out <strong>the</strong>ir clo<strong>the</strong>s <strong>the</strong> night before,<br />

including socks, shoes and jackets.<br />

• We pack <strong>the</strong>ir backpacks and set <strong>the</strong>m by <strong>the</strong><br />

door. This includes ga<strong>the</strong>ring permissi<strong>on</strong> slips<br />

and homework <strong>the</strong> night before.<br />

• We establish a set bedtime routine. A good<br />

night’s sleep is essential for my kids.<br />

• I often put <strong>on</strong> lively Christian music to help<br />

<strong>the</strong>m get into a more energetic beat, especially<br />

<strong>on</strong> dark or dreary mornings.<br />

• I avoid nagging my kids out <strong>the</strong> door. If we run<br />

late, we adjust <strong>the</strong> schedule for <strong>the</strong> next day to<br />

give us more time.<br />

—Rose Thoman<br />

Our <strong>Family</strong>’s Weekly<br />

Activity Calendar<br />

On Sunday evenings before <strong>the</strong> busy week<br />

begins, I sit down and enter my s<strong>on</strong>’s activities<br />

into a calendar template I created <strong>on</strong> my<br />

computer. I include important school and<br />

transportati<strong>on</strong> reminders, appointments and<br />

after-school activities. Since I use <strong>the</strong> same<br />

template each week, <strong>the</strong>re is a minimal amount<br />

of new informati<strong>on</strong> I need to add <strong>on</strong> a weekly<br />

basis, and I can update <strong>the</strong> original file if we<br />

have l<strong>on</strong>ger-term schedule changes.<br />

After creating <strong>the</strong> new calendar, I take a few<br />

minutes to discuss it with my husband and my<br />

s<strong>on</strong>, and <strong>the</strong>n I post it <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> door to our garage.<br />

This way every<strong>on</strong>e can see <strong>the</strong> calendar and<br />

anticipate our schedule for <strong>the</strong> upcoming week.<br />

—Kimberly Wells<br />


6<br />


<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong>


Learning From One Ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

We talk with our young daughter about how kids may learn things<br />

at different stages of <strong>the</strong>ir lives. While classmates may be her same<br />

age, <strong>the</strong>y may have already learned things that she hasn’t learned<br />

yet, and vice versa. This understanding has helped her interacti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

with o<strong>the</strong>r kids. Instead of getting frustrated with a classmate, she<br />

seeks to support that student’s learning. If a friend is struggling to<br />

share, we encourage her to spend time problem-solving with that<br />

classmate. (“Why d<strong>on</strong>’t I take a turn after you’re d<strong>on</strong>e with that?”)<br />

When it comes to social interacti<strong>on</strong>s, this “maybe he hasn’t<br />

learned that yet” perspective helps our daughter not to get so<br />

upset if some<strong>on</strong>e is rude. She understands that maybe that child<br />

hasn’t been taught proper manners yet. And when our daughter<br />

gets frustrated with herself, we encourage her to look to a friend<br />

who might be able to guide her.<br />

—Emily Yang<br />

‘Give Me Five’<br />

Sometimes our kids’ emoti<strong>on</strong>s get <strong>the</strong><br />

best of <strong>the</strong>m, and <strong>the</strong>y have trouble<br />

calming down. Maybe <strong>the</strong>y aren’t sure<br />

why <strong>the</strong>y are feeling <strong>the</strong> way <strong>the</strong>y do,<br />

so <strong>the</strong>y express <strong>the</strong>mselves in negative<br />

ways. Try asking your child to “Give<br />

me five” by counting backward from<br />

five. This allows your child to take a<br />

short mental break from <strong>the</strong> intensity<br />

of <strong>the</strong> moment. We’ve discovered<br />

that when you give a child a little time<br />

to calm down, you also give him or her<br />

a moment to express what is going <strong>on</strong><br />

inside.<br />

—Elizabeth Sullivan<br />

Setting Expectati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

for a New Routine<br />

When I was a first-grade teacher, I discovered a technique that<br />

noticeably improved my students’ behavior: training sessi<strong>on</strong>s. So I<br />

used <strong>the</strong>m to raise my own s<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

As my boys faced <strong>the</strong> back-to-school changes, I set aside a<br />

period of time to intenti<strong>on</strong>ally train <strong>the</strong>m in how I expected <strong>the</strong>m<br />

to behave for a specific activity, such as doing homework or cleaning<br />

up after an afterno<strong>on</strong> snack.<br />

During <strong>the</strong>se training sessi<strong>on</strong>s, I would instruct my kids <strong>on</strong><br />

what <strong>the</strong>y should and should not do during each activity. I was<br />

very specific. I also clearly stated c<strong>on</strong>sequences for avoiding <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

resp<strong>on</strong>sibilities or not following rules. Then we would practice <strong>the</strong><br />

right behavior over and over. (Kids love this part! They get to act<br />

out <strong>the</strong> good behavior.)<br />

For two weeks I would diligently supervise to make sure <strong>the</strong>y<br />

were behaving as trained. Finally, our schedule was set and ran<br />

smoothly.<br />

—Katie Ely<br />

A Colorful<br />

Classroom<br />

Before <strong>the</strong> start of <strong>the</strong> school year, I<br />

gave each of my children a blank piece<br />

of paper and three blue cray<strong>on</strong>s, al<strong>on</strong>g<br />

with instructi<strong>on</strong>s to create a beautiful<br />

picture. They so<strong>on</strong> requested different<br />

cray<strong>on</strong>s, since just <strong>on</strong>e color made<br />

<strong>the</strong> pictures “too boring.” So we talked<br />

about how a variety of colors could<br />

make a picture beautiful. This simple<br />

less<strong>on</strong> helped <strong>the</strong>m see <strong>the</strong> potential<br />

beauty and benefit in <strong>the</strong> cultural<br />

diversity of <strong>the</strong>ir new classmates.<br />

—Marybeth Mitcham<br />

<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 7


Hand-Me-Down Fashi<strong>on</strong> Show<br />

I’ve always enjoyed <strong>the</strong> change of seas<strong>on</strong>s, with <strong>on</strong>e excepti<strong>on</strong>: <strong>the</strong> task<br />

of sorting clo<strong>the</strong>s from <strong>the</strong> totes taken out of storage and emptied <strong>on</strong>to<br />

<strong>the</strong> sofa. I would ask my daughters to try <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> hand-me-down clo<strong>the</strong>s,<br />

but <strong>the</strong>y disliked this time-c<strong>on</strong>suming chore.<br />

Then I had an idea: “How would you like to have a fashi<strong>on</strong> show?”<br />

I turned <strong>on</strong> music, and <strong>the</strong>y put <strong>on</strong> outfits for <strong>the</strong> coming seas<strong>on</strong> to<br />

model <strong>the</strong>m for <strong>the</strong> rest of us. I announced: “Ladies and gentlemen,<br />

today we have Emily, looking absolutely fabulous in a stylish sundress<br />

from our spring collecti<strong>on</strong>.” Emily twirled as I applauded.<br />

Then ano<strong>the</strong>r daughter came out from a back room. “Here comes<br />

Madis<strong>on</strong>, all ready for a fun day at <strong>the</strong> beach in this multicolored <strong>on</strong>epiece<br />

swimsuit.” She giggled, spun around and put a hand <strong>on</strong> her hip.<br />

My idea worked beautifully.<br />

—Sheri Zeck<br />


8<br />


<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong>


Outfit Organizer<br />

To streamline our morning routine, I bought a hanging<br />

clo<strong>the</strong>s organizer for my 7-year-old s<strong>on</strong>. It’s<br />

<strong>the</strong> kind with <strong>on</strong>e pocket for each day of <strong>the</strong> week.<br />

Whenever I fold our laundry, I have my s<strong>on</strong> choose an<br />

outfit to put in each pocket of <strong>the</strong> organizer, including<br />

socks and underwear. This allows him to choose<br />

his own outfits without adding any extra time to our<br />

busy mornings.<br />

—Diane Stark<br />

Beat-<strong>the</strong>-Clock Challenge<br />

Getting my kids moving and out <strong>the</strong> door can be a<br />

real struggle. Ei<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>y get distracted by something<br />

more interesting or simply move at a snail’s pace. So<br />

we turn everything into a game of Beat <strong>the</strong> Clock.<br />

When it’s time for <strong>the</strong> kids to put <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir socks, I<br />

announce that <strong>the</strong>y have 20 sec<strong>on</strong>ds to get <strong>the</strong>m <strong>on</strong>.<br />

When <strong>the</strong>y need <strong>the</strong>ir coats, I announce <strong>the</strong>y have 15<br />

sec<strong>on</strong>ds to put <strong>the</strong>m <strong>on</strong>. This gives <strong>the</strong>m a challenge,<br />

which <strong>the</strong>y love, and it helps <strong>the</strong>m focus <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> task<br />

at hand: getting ready and out <strong>the</strong> door. They are so<br />

excited to try to beat <strong>the</strong> clock that <strong>the</strong>y d<strong>on</strong>’t get distracted.<br />

Not to menti<strong>on</strong>, <strong>the</strong>y have a whole lot of fun<br />

while <strong>the</strong>y’re getting ready!<br />

—Alicia Gorski<br />

Dressed for <strong>the</strong> Wea<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Toddlers love to make choices for <strong>the</strong>mselves, so my<br />

husband and I made little signs out of c<strong>on</strong>structi<strong>on</strong><br />

paper with wea<strong>the</strong>r pictures <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>m (a sun, raindrops,<br />

wind and snowflakes) and hung <strong>the</strong>m inside<br />

our children’s closet. We organized <strong>the</strong>ir clothing in<br />

groups under each sign. It was fun for our children to<br />

“match” <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r outside to <strong>the</strong> correct picture so<br />

<strong>the</strong>y could select wea<strong>the</strong>r-friendly items from a variety<br />

of appropriate choices.<br />

—Courtney Roberts<br />

Clothing-Choice Checklist<br />

I was thrilled <strong>on</strong>ce my children were able to dress<br />

<strong>the</strong>mselves. However, <strong>the</strong>y often dressed in clothing<br />

that didn’t match or wasn’t in good enough shape to<br />

wear outside <strong>the</strong> house. So I decided to train <strong>the</strong>m<br />

how to dress appropriately.<br />

I made a simple checklist and taped it <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> back<br />

of <strong>the</strong>ir bedroom door. On <strong>the</strong> list, I gave <strong>the</strong>m three<br />

guidelines for getting dressed:<br />

• What is <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r today?<br />

• What are we doing today?<br />

• Do <strong>the</strong> colors and patterns match?<br />

These three simple questi<strong>on</strong>s not <strong>on</strong>ly allowed<br />

<strong>the</strong>m to select <strong>the</strong>ir clo<strong>the</strong>s <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir own but also<br />

guided <strong>the</strong>ir decisi<strong>on</strong>s. If <strong>the</strong>ir choices were still inappropriate,<br />

I was able to help <strong>the</strong>m see why by using<br />

<strong>the</strong> checklist.<br />

—Jenny Nanninga<br />

Becky, <strong>the</strong> Wea<strong>the</strong>r Doll<br />

I played “school” with my daughter and her dolls,<br />

teaching my girls about wea<strong>the</strong>r and which types<br />

of clo<strong>the</strong>s were suitable. I made it funny, having <strong>on</strong>e<br />

of <strong>the</strong> dolls, “Becky,” get all <strong>the</strong> answers wr<strong>on</strong>g in a<br />

silly way. Then I suggested that my daughter could<br />

be Becky’s wea<strong>the</strong>r buddy, “teaching” her to dress<br />

appropriately for <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r each day.<br />

We started each morning by bringing Becky to <strong>the</strong><br />

window, as well as looking at <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>rmometer. I’d<br />

ask, “Which kinds of clo<strong>the</strong>s do you and Becky need<br />

to wear today? Remember, you’re <strong>the</strong> teacher.”<br />

My daughter took her role as teacher very seriously.<br />

From <strong>the</strong>n <strong>on</strong>, she—and Becky—dressed appropriately<br />

for <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

—Lisa Grey<br />

Wardrobe Workarounds<br />

For <strong>the</strong> umpteenth time that week, my 6-year-old<br />

daughter and I clashed over what she was wearing.<br />

I wanted her to wear <strong>the</strong> outfit I’d picked out, a cute<br />

<strong>on</strong>e from her nana. She wanted to wear head-to-toe<br />

pink, in different shades.<br />

Going forward, I let her choose am<strong>on</strong>g items I’d<br />

handpicked for her. This routine has helped alleviate<br />

<strong>the</strong> clothing arguments and has helped us both learn<br />

to compromise.<br />

—Christie Kern<br />

<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 9



Check out PluggedIn.ca to get<br />

<strong>the</strong> latest reviews <strong>on</strong> movies,<br />

books, video games, TV shows<br />

and more!<br />



SOLDIER”<br />

Parents may want to know if<br />

<strong>the</strong> new Disney+ series is a<br />

good choice for young viewers.<br />

Scheduled release: <strong>August</strong><br />

My kids and <strong>the</strong>ir friends keep talking about TikTok.<br />

What is it, and what do I need to know as a parent?<br />

TikTok is a popular app that allows users to post short<br />

smartph<strong>on</strong>e videos <strong>on</strong>line. Overall, TikTok feels like<br />

YouTube with a very short attenti<strong>on</strong> span. The videos can<br />

feature almost anything—anything that will grab users’ attenti<strong>on</strong>,<br />

that is. In o<strong>the</strong>r words, it’s an expressive digital medium that tweens<br />

and teens (and plenty of adults, too) use to broadcast silly antics.<br />

But it’s not all silly, and <strong>the</strong>re are some real issues parents need to<br />

know about. Usage guidelines prohibit graphic, violent, risky, sexually<br />

explicit or hateful c<strong>on</strong>tent. But those rules are pretty loose.<br />

Profanity? No ban <strong>on</strong> that. And many users post videos that are suggestive<br />

while avoiding explicit images.<br />

The app <strong>the</strong>oretically prohibits users under 13, but that’s a guideline<br />

many underage users ignore. Young users could potentially find<br />

<strong>the</strong>mselves in c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s with adults <strong>the</strong>y d<strong>on</strong>’t know via <strong>the</strong><br />

app’s comment feature. TikTok has also become a go-to destinati<strong>on</strong><br />

for risky video challenges.<br />

On a more philosophical level, TikTok is all about grabbing attenti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Videos practically scream, “Look at me!” This is true of social<br />

media in general, but TikTok feels custom-made to encourage narcissism.<br />

It’s easy to burn a lot of time watching inane videos, and<br />

TikTok offers many ways for kids to drift into trouble if parents aren’t<br />

engaged with what <strong>the</strong>y’re watching and posting.<br />

—Adam Holz, director of Plugged In<br />

WONDER WOMAN 1984<br />

What can families expect as Diana and<br />

Steve rekindle <strong>the</strong>ir relati<strong>on</strong>ship?<br />

Scheduled release: Aug. 14<br />

CYBERPUNK 2077<br />

Will this first-pers<strong>on</strong> shooter’s “n<strong>on</strong>lethal”<br />

opti<strong>on</strong> make it a worthy additi<strong>on</strong> to your<br />

teen’s video game collecti<strong>on</strong>?<br />

Scheduled release: Sept. 17<br />


10<br />


<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

Couples<br />

DIY holiday<br />

try this fun idea for<br />

c<strong>on</strong>necting with your<br />

spouse<br />

HOLIDAYS OFFER <strong>the</strong> perfect<br />

excuse for a date night, so expanding<br />

my list of holidays gives me an abundance<br />

of opportunities to spend<br />

unique moments with my wife.<br />

A quick internet search yields<br />

a lengthy list of fun holidays that<br />

provides an excuse for frequent celebrati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

For example, <strong>on</strong> Aug. 6,<br />

Internati<strong>on</strong>al Root Beer Float Day,<br />

we enjoyed a quick date <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> fr<strong>on</strong>t<br />

porch, talking over a root beer float.<br />

There was nothing romantic about<br />

our c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>, but we did use two<br />

straws in a single mug, just like <strong>the</strong>y<br />

do in <strong>the</strong> movies.<br />

Here are more <strong>the</strong>mes for upcoming<br />

potential dates: Nati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

S’mores Day, Aug. 10; Eat Outside<br />

Day, Aug. 31; Nati<strong>on</strong>al Cheeseburger<br />

Day, Sept. 18; Miniature Golf Day,<br />

Sept. 21. And d<strong>on</strong>’t forget Sept. 19,<br />

Internati<strong>on</strong>al Talk Like a Pirate Day.<br />

Aaaarrrggghhh!<br />

If date nights are <strong>on</strong>ly something<br />

you do <strong>on</strong> holidays, why not add<br />

some new <strong>on</strong>es to your calendar?<br />

—Jared Hottenstein<br />

Take <strong>the</strong> challenge<br />

Check <strong>the</strong> internet for a list of nati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

holidays and plan a date around a<br />

<strong>the</strong>me that looks fun (or tasty) to you<br />

and your spouse. Ask each o<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>se<br />

questi<strong>on</strong>s while <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> date or shortly<br />

<strong>the</strong>reafter:<br />

• What was your favorite holiday that<br />

we’ve celebrated as a couple? What<br />

made it memorable?<br />

• How can we add more celebrati<strong>on</strong>s to<br />

our marriage and family life?<br />

• If our anniversary were a holiday,<br />

what would our <strong>the</strong>me be? •<br />


<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 11


12<br />


<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong>





STORMS<br />

Your decisi<strong>on</strong>s now can help<br />

you prepare for future crises<br />




WAS UNTHINKABLE! The fr<strong>on</strong>t page of <strong>the</strong><br />

Orlando Sentinel showcased a familiar face—our s<strong>on</strong>,<br />

Jas<strong>on</strong>’s. But in our wildest imaginati<strong>on</strong>, we could never<br />

have c<strong>on</strong>ceived of this headline: “Blemish for Navy<br />

Officer—Murder Charge in Orlando Shooting.”<br />

My husband, Gene, and I had been awakened in <strong>the</strong><br />

middle of <strong>the</strong> night with <strong>the</strong> news that Jas<strong>on</strong>, a U.S.<br />

Naval Academy graduate with an impeccable record,<br />

had shot and killed his wife’s first husband.<br />

For several m<strong>on</strong>ths after Jas<strong>on</strong>’s arrest for this heinous<br />

crime, I had trouble going about simple daily<br />

tasks, and Gene and I had strained communicati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

We were a Christian couple who had raised an <strong>on</strong>ly<br />

child. He had been a good kid with a heart to serve<br />

God and his country. How could this horrific crime<br />

have happened?<br />

Our marriage faced new challenges. Our distress<br />

over Jas<strong>on</strong> left us short-tempered, and we sometimes<br />

allowed little disagreements to escalate into full-blown<br />

arguments. And <strong>the</strong> issue of m<strong>on</strong>ey suddenly became<br />

an ever-present source of tensi<strong>on</strong>: Where would <strong>the</strong><br />

funds for a good attorney come from? How would we<br />

make a living and still be tirelessly available to Jas<strong>on</strong>?<br />

Should we c<strong>on</strong>tinue to minister in light of our s<strong>on</strong>’s<br />

acti<strong>on</strong>s? (We were in full-time Christian ministry;<br />

speaking and writing provided our <strong>on</strong>ly income.)<br />

An awkwardness over physical intimacy also overshadowed<br />

our time toge<strong>the</strong>r. I couldn’t think about<br />

pleasure when my s<strong>on</strong> was in jail facing <strong>the</strong> death<br />

penalty. Gene, <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r hand, believed if we ever<br />

needed that physical closeness, it was now.<br />

Following such devastating news and with a strain<br />

<strong>on</strong> our relati<strong>on</strong>ship, we didn’t know how we could<br />

make good decisi<strong>on</strong>s when we could barely brea<strong>the</strong> or<br />

think, let al<strong>on</strong>e talk to each o<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

But we made it through <strong>the</strong> ordeal. What helped us<br />

was that we’d put in place good marriage practices<br />

before <strong>the</strong> crisis hit. Dealing with <strong>the</strong> unexpected was<br />

easier because we made “pre-decisi<strong>on</strong>s” as a couple.<br />

These kinds of choices helped us and can help o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

couples navigate <strong>the</strong> hard places in <strong>the</strong>ir relati<strong>on</strong>ship<br />

and build a str<strong>on</strong>ger marriage in preparati<strong>on</strong> for <strong>the</strong><br />

times when life turns upside down.<br />

Here’s how Gene and I use pre-decisi<strong>on</strong>-making to<br />

help us do “<strong>the</strong> next right thing” in our marriage. >>><br />

<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 13


Important pre-decisi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

Unexpected marriage trials might<br />

include dealing with sudden financial<br />

pressures, figuring out how to<br />

restructure your lives to meet <strong>the</strong><br />

needs of a child with special needs,<br />

facing a health crisis, understanding<br />

<strong>the</strong> gender c<strong>on</strong>fusi<strong>on</strong> of your teenager,<br />

caring for <strong>the</strong> needs of an aging<br />

parent, figuring out next steps with a<br />

drug-addicted child, coping with <strong>the</strong><br />

l<strong>on</strong>g-term effects of a bad accident<br />

and much more.<br />

Gene and I made a list of five principles<br />

we’re committed to live by no<br />

matter how intense our pers<strong>on</strong>al<br />

challenges become. After our s<strong>on</strong> was<br />

arrested, we didn’t want to overthink<br />

simple decisi<strong>on</strong>s, and we certainly<br />

didn’t want to start overreacting to<br />

<strong>the</strong> multiple unwanted interrupti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

our s<strong>on</strong>’s incarcerati<strong>on</strong> brought into<br />

our lives. The following pre-decisi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

made our marriage healthier, bolstered<br />

our intimacy and reaffirmed<br />

<strong>the</strong> teamwork our journey required.<br />

I will seek, h<strong>on</strong>or and respect <strong>the</strong><br />

advice of my spouse.<br />

That meant listening to each o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

more than talking loudly and giving<br />

str<strong>on</strong>gly worded instructi<strong>on</strong> to each<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r. We committed to not turning<br />

away from each o<strong>the</strong>r (emoti<strong>on</strong>ally<br />

or physically) just because our<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>al challenge was hard. We<br />

developed a team mentality and<br />

vowed to value all input from each<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r before making final decisi<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

We put Romans 12:10 to work in<br />

our relati<strong>on</strong>ship: “Love <strong>on</strong>e ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

with bro<strong>the</strong>rly affecti<strong>on</strong>. Outdo <strong>on</strong>e<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r in showing h<strong>on</strong>or.”<br />

Prior to Jas<strong>on</strong>’s arrest, I had made<br />

a point of being as open and transparent<br />

with people as possible. But<br />

now a choice had to be made. Gene<br />

suggested that I listen and ask questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

of o<strong>the</strong>rs about <strong>the</strong>ir lives,<br />

ra<strong>the</strong>r than immediately sharing our<br />

turmoil. At first it felt like I was being<br />

dish<strong>on</strong>est by withholding informati<strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> horrible situati<strong>on</strong> we<br />

were going through. But after I listened<br />

to Gene’s advice and put it<br />

into practice, I realized it was <strong>the</strong><br />

wisest choice.<br />

Instead of our friends feeling awkward<br />

while sharing <strong>the</strong>ir stories,<br />

which to <strong>the</strong>m might have seemed<br />

like minor issues compared to our<br />

story, people were able to speak<br />

openly about <strong>the</strong>ir hard journeys,<br />

and we could pray with <strong>the</strong>m for<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir needs without overwhelming<br />

<strong>the</strong>m with our own crisis.<br />

I will serve my spouse sacrificially.<br />

Galatians 5:13 says, “Through love<br />

serve <strong>on</strong>e ano<strong>the</strong>r.” When our s<strong>on</strong><br />

was first arrested, it took time to<br />

explain to relatives and friends what<br />

had happened. Amid multiple allegati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

of past abuse involving Jas<strong>on</strong>’s<br />

young stepdaughters and his wife’s<br />

ex-husband, he had made a horrible<br />

decisi<strong>on</strong>. My friends were grieving<br />

with us, but <strong>the</strong> communicati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

were emoti<strong>on</strong>ally and physically<br />

exhausting. Gene knew I was unable<br />

to handle all <strong>the</strong> people who cared<br />

about us—so he took care of those<br />

calls day after day and week after<br />

week. And every morning he made<br />

coffee and delivered it to my bedside,<br />

often without words, placing a<br />

14<br />


<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong>


hand <strong>on</strong> my arm, or rubbing my feet<br />

with tender compassi<strong>on</strong>. He served<br />

me l<strong>on</strong>g before I figured out how I<br />

needed to serve him.<br />

I will practice automatic forgiveness.<br />

Gene and I acknowledged that <strong>on</strong>e<br />

of us is no more perfect than <strong>the</strong><br />

o<strong>the</strong>r, and we would automatically<br />

forgive our spouse’s unwise words,<br />

weaknesses, emoti<strong>on</strong>al flare-ups<br />

and errors in judgment, whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

or not we were under stress. We<br />

reviewed Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind<br />

to <strong>on</strong>e ano<strong>the</strong>r, tenderhearted, forgiving<br />

<strong>on</strong>e ano<strong>the</strong>r, as God in Christ<br />

forgave you.”<br />

I married a man who likes to<br />

live in a clutter-free envir<strong>on</strong>ment.<br />

Throughout our marriage we’ve both<br />

worked at keeping our home organized.<br />

However, I didn’t keep my side<br />

of our bedroom closet neat. It was<br />

overcrowded and messy.<br />

One m<strong>on</strong>th after our s<strong>on</strong>’s arrest,<br />

we were both in <strong>the</strong> walk-in closet<br />

when Gene blurted out in a loud<br />

voice, “I d<strong>on</strong>’t understand why you<br />

can’t give clothing away that you<br />

haven’t worn in <strong>the</strong> past year!” I blew<br />

up with an unkind resp<strong>on</strong>se, and a<br />

verbal battle ensued. Moments later,<br />

Gene said, “I’m sorry; will you forgive<br />

me? I’m not really mad about <strong>the</strong><br />

closet, and I’m certainly not angry<br />

with you.” That day we eventually fell<br />

into each o<strong>the</strong>r’s arms and wept, recognizing<br />

that our feelings about Jas<strong>on</strong><br />

were c<strong>on</strong>tributing to c<strong>on</strong>flicts.<br />

Toge<strong>the</strong>r we agreed that <strong>the</strong> b<strong>on</strong>d<br />

of love we shared was str<strong>on</strong>ger than<br />

our momentary bursts of temper—<br />

and we would choose forgiveness<br />

immediately and repeatedly. Author<br />

and radio co-host Elisa Morgan<br />

writes: “Forgiveness usually isn’t a<br />

<strong>on</strong>e-time experience. It’s an <strong>on</strong>going<br />

process. You have to work at it.” She’s<br />

right! It isn’t easy—but it’s worth it!<br />

I will c<strong>on</strong>trol my t<strong>on</strong>gue.<br />

One of my most vivid memories<br />

from my growing-up years involved<br />

my family having dinner in <strong>the</strong><br />

home of friends from church. One<br />

day I was in <strong>the</strong> kitchen helping<br />

several adults with final meal preparati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

Mrs. Johns<strong>on</strong>,* <strong>the</strong> hostess,<br />

was wearing a short-sleeved dress<br />

and was dripping with perspirati<strong>on</strong><br />

at <strong>the</strong> stove. As she reached for<br />

a spatula, Mr. Johns<strong>on</strong> grasped <strong>the</strong><br />

loose flesh under her arm and jiggled<br />

it back and forth. “I think it’s<br />

time for us to work <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> battle of<br />

<strong>the</strong> bulge,” he said.<br />

Mrs. Johns<strong>on</strong>’s face turned red.<br />

She was obviously deeply hurt by<br />

his insensitive comment. My parents<br />

looked embarrassed, said <strong>the</strong>y<br />

needed to check <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir kids and<br />

left <strong>the</strong> kitchen. From that point <strong>on</strong>,<br />

I knew that <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong> most important<br />

issues for me when I married would<br />

be my husband’s loyalty—I wanted a<br />

spouse who would not put me down<br />

with unkind words, ei<strong>the</strong>r in public<br />

or in private.<br />

Before our words could get us into<br />

all kinds of trouble, Gene and I made<br />

<strong>the</strong>se choices:<br />

• To use positive, uplifting, kind and<br />

encouraging words.<br />

• To be first to admit when you’re<br />

wr<strong>on</strong>g and be first to apologize. >>><br />


Hear Carol Kent discuss her<br />

emoti<strong>on</strong>al struggles and <strong>the</strong><br />

spiritual less<strong>on</strong>s she learned during<br />

a horrific crisis in her family life.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/Radio<br />

<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 15

The<br />

Hope<br />

Restored<br />

marriage counselling<br />

retreat<br />

A biblically based program<br />

to restore and rebuild<br />

your marriage<br />

• To think first, ra<strong>the</strong>r than lashing<br />

out in anger.<br />

Just before Gene and I got married,<br />

my fa<strong>the</strong>r reminded us of an<br />

important Scripture, Ephesians<br />

4:29: “Let no corrupting talk come<br />

out of your mouths, but <strong>on</strong>ly such<br />

as is good for building up, as fits <strong>the</strong><br />

occasi<strong>on</strong>, that it may give grace to<br />

those who hear.”<br />

I will seek God’s will and make<br />

decisi<strong>on</strong>s quickly following<br />

reas<strong>on</strong>able c<strong>on</strong>siderati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

I found decisi<strong>on</strong>-making difficult<br />

when it came to our crisis with an<br />

incarcerated s<strong>on</strong>. The questi<strong>on</strong>s surrounding<br />

our finances, our ministry<br />

efforts and our housing situati<strong>on</strong><br />

were overwhelming.<br />

We discovered that when we regularly<br />

spent time with <strong>the</strong> Lord—al<strong>on</strong>e<br />

and toge<strong>the</strong>r—Scripture passages we<br />

were reading helped to c<strong>on</strong>firm our<br />

decisi<strong>on</strong>s. We discussed <strong>the</strong> opti<strong>on</strong>s,<br />

shared what we believed God was<br />

nudging us to do, and <strong>the</strong>n made <strong>the</strong><br />

next important choice, without looking<br />

back. This mode of operating<br />

amid challenging times was freeing<br />

and empowering. We sought God’s<br />

leading—through His Word, through<br />

prayer, through rati<strong>on</strong>al discussi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

with each o<strong>the</strong>r—and we committed<br />

to doing <strong>the</strong> next right thing as<br />

quickly as possible.<br />

Empowering choices<br />

On <strong>the</strong> day of Jas<strong>on</strong>’s c<strong>on</strong>victi<strong>on</strong><br />

and sentencing, <strong>the</strong> news media<br />

descended <strong>on</strong> us. Cameras and<br />

microph<strong>on</strong>es were thrust in our<br />

faces—and we left <strong>the</strong> courthouse as<br />

quickly as we could walk out to <strong>the</strong><br />

privacy of our car. That night, all we<br />

could do was hug each o<strong>the</strong>r and cry.<br />

No words could express <strong>the</strong> pain in<br />

our hearts.<br />

As week followed week, we found<br />

solace in holding each o<strong>the</strong>r. One<br />

day Gene looked at me tenderly<br />

and said, “I couldn’t do this without<br />

you. The journey is too hard.” We<br />

were learning step by step and day<br />

by day that we could survive, and<br />

maybe even learn how to thrive if<br />

we stayed committed to being “in<br />

this toge<strong>the</strong>r.” We determined that<br />

we would learn how to laugh again<br />

and that we would be intenti<strong>on</strong>al<br />

about thanking God for opportunities<br />

to encourage o<strong>the</strong>r couples even<br />

though our own situati<strong>on</strong> wasn’t<br />

ideal. As a couple, we verbalized<br />

our commitment to build a str<strong>on</strong>ger<br />

marriage—and now we make daily<br />

choices to reaffirm that decisi<strong>on</strong>. •<br />

Carol Kent is a c<strong>on</strong>ference speaker and <strong>the</strong><br />

author or co-author of more than 20 books,<br />

including Staying Power: Building a str<strong>on</strong>ger<br />

marriage when life sends its worst.<br />

*some names have been changed.<br />

Call us today<br />

to find out more<br />

1.833.999.HOPE (4673)<br />

HopeRestoredCanada.ca<br />

ARE YOU PRE-<br />


Read <strong>the</strong>se statements<br />

aloud. Discuss with your<br />

spouse how well you put<br />

<strong>the</strong>se statements into<br />

acti<strong>on</strong> as a couple.<br />

• We value and respect advice from each o<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

• We serve each o<strong>the</strong>r sacrificially.<br />

• We forgive quickly when offended.<br />

• We think before we speak.<br />

• We ask God for guidance in our<br />



finding<br />

my inner<br />

handyman<br />

How many years does it<br />

take a husband to replace<br />

a light fixture for his wife?<br />



OUR HOUSE WAS 20<br />

YEARS OLD when we moved in,<br />

but in good shape overall. Yet some<br />

things weren’t our style. The wallpaper.<br />

The kitchen cabinets. And <strong>the</strong> blue<br />

toilet in <strong>the</strong> kids’ bathroom. But it<br />

flushed and didn’t leak. We could live<br />

with it.<br />

There was <strong>on</strong>e project my wife,<br />

Rita, wanted me to tackle immediately:<br />

<strong>the</strong> massive fluorescent<br />

light fixture over <strong>the</strong> kitchen island.<br />

Pers<strong>on</strong>ally, I liked how it illuminated<br />

<strong>the</strong> entire room. Rita called that fixture<br />

<strong>the</strong> “surgery lights” and rarely<br />

allowed it to be turned <strong>on</strong>.<br />

I heard her complaints. I validated<br />

her desires. And yet I said, “OK,<br />

when <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong> bulbs burns out,<br />

we’ll replace <strong>the</strong> whole thing.”<br />

Well, apparently some fluorescent<br />

bulbs last forever. Especially when<br />

electricity never flows through <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

To her credit, Rita didn’t nag. But<br />

she did . . . remind. And I . . . delayed.<br />

I know I’m not a handyman. I dread<br />

any kind of leak or loose hinge. And<br />

I know something else: As so<strong>on</strong> as I<br />

complete <strong>on</strong>e project, Rita might have<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r <strong>on</strong>e lined up. It’s not like I can<br />

finish <strong>the</strong>se tasks and find rest.<br />

But I needed to do something<br />

about that huge light fixture. So for<br />

our wedding anniversary, I grabbed<br />

some brochures from <strong>the</strong> lighting<br />

supply store and folded <strong>the</strong>m<br />

inside a nice card. She opened <strong>the</strong><br />

card, saw <strong>the</strong> materials and thanked<br />

me profusely. Within days we had<br />

picked out light fixtures, and I found<br />

a w<strong>on</strong>derful electrician who helped<br />

us with installati<strong>on</strong>. He hauled away<br />

<strong>the</strong> old fluorescent m<strong>on</strong>strosity and<br />

patched everything up. All for less<br />

than I’d paid for more traditi<strong>on</strong>al<br />

anniversary presents in <strong>the</strong> past.<br />

There will always be things that<br />

need fixing—projects we need to get<br />

to so<strong>on</strong>er ra<strong>the</strong>r than later. A family<br />

does not tolerate an inoperable toilet<br />

for l<strong>on</strong>g.<br />

Even if you’re not a natural, it’s<br />

good to embrace your inner handyman,<br />

at least for <strong>the</strong> easy stuff. So<br />

clean <strong>the</strong> gutters. Plunge <strong>the</strong> toilet.<br />

Replace <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>rmostat. Wedge <strong>the</strong><br />

sliding door back <strong>on</strong> track.<br />

And <strong>the</strong>re are also things in your<br />

home that are not broken, but your<br />

wife wants changed. D<strong>on</strong>’t argue. D<strong>on</strong>’t<br />

debate. D<strong>on</strong>’t put <strong>the</strong>m off too l<strong>on</strong>g.<br />

If it’s <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> h<strong>on</strong>ey-do list, be a<br />

h<strong>on</strong>ey and do it. •<br />

Jay payleitner is a freelance Christian radio<br />

producer, speaker at men's events and author<br />

of 52 Things Wives Need From a Husband.<br />

<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 17

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Helping kids stand with<br />

God in a shifting culture<br />



<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 19




DIFFERENT from <strong>the</strong> <strong>on</strong>e we<br />

grew up in. When my bro<strong>the</strong>r, Jas<strong>on</strong>,<br />

and I were kids, my dad marched us<br />

out of <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>ater halfway through<br />

a movie. It was so embarrassing.<br />

But he’d had enough of <strong>the</strong> movie’s<br />

problematic c<strong>on</strong>tent. He even said<br />

something to <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>ater manager,<br />

who apologized and refunded our<br />

m<strong>on</strong>ey. Can you imagine that happening<br />

today?<br />

Fast forward to <strong>the</strong> world we live<br />

in, where our families now avoid <strong>the</strong><br />

local library during “Drag Queen Story<br />

Hour,” an event where cross-dressing<br />

men read stories to children. When<br />

we menti<strong>on</strong>ed our c<strong>on</strong>cerns to <strong>the</strong><br />

library manager, he ignored us. Word<br />

so<strong>on</strong> got out, and our family was<br />

publicly mocked by <strong>the</strong> local newspaper<br />

as bigoted and intolerant of <strong>the</strong><br />

library’s “display of diversity.”<br />

If you had told my bro<strong>the</strong>r and me<br />

all those years ago that we would be<br />

branded as bigots for saying drag<br />

queens shouldn’t be kids’ entertainment,<br />

we would have thought you<br />

were nuts. But times have changed.<br />

“The cost of biblical c<strong>on</strong>victi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

in c<strong>on</strong>temporary culture is growing<br />

steeper every day,” writes David Platt<br />

in Counter Culture. “We are not far<br />

removed from sharing more soberly<br />

in <strong>the</strong> sufferings of Christ.”<br />

As <strong>the</strong> roots of those costs c<strong>on</strong>tinue<br />

to become more apparent,<br />

how can we help our kids grow<br />

to stand str<strong>on</strong>g in <strong>the</strong> face of <strong>the</strong><br />

world’s intolerance?<br />

Be lovers of God’s Word<br />

Why is it that doing devoti<strong>on</strong>s as a<br />

family is often so difficult? The kids<br />

are too tired, have too much homework,<br />

or would ra<strong>the</strong>r do something<br />

else. Why is it such a battle?<br />

As parents, we need to better recognize<br />

how powerfully God’s Word<br />

works in <strong>the</strong> hearts and minds of our<br />

kids. To give our kids’ faith a fighting<br />

chance, we must prioritize family<br />

study of <strong>the</strong> truths God has given us.<br />

In our home, we have devoti<strong>on</strong><br />

time in <strong>the</strong> evenings, reading passages<br />

and talking about how <strong>the</strong>y<br />

address or are similar to challenges<br />

we face at school or in our relati<strong>on</strong>ships.<br />

We also include worship<br />

music, closing our eyes and reflecting<br />

<strong>on</strong> what we’ve heard in Scripture.<br />

We aim to eliminate distracti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

and let God’s truth permeate our<br />

hearts and our home. Most of all, we<br />

want a home life where whatever<br />

our kids have witnessed in culture,<br />

chances are good we’ll cover it by<br />

recognizing God’s perspective. We<br />

hope that <strong>the</strong>se moments we spend<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r talking about His Word will<br />

embolden our kids and streng<strong>the</strong>n<br />

<strong>the</strong>m in <strong>the</strong> difficult times.<br />

Embrace <strong>the</strong> struggle<br />

I remember sitting with our 10-yearold<br />

s<strong>on</strong> at <strong>the</strong> kitchen table, listening<br />

to him moan as he faced his math<br />

worksheet. Literally moaning and<br />

crying. The ag<strong>on</strong>y worried me a bit,<br />

although I supposed that he was<br />

just trying to get out of his homework.<br />

But I began to have doubts. Is<br />

this too difficult for him? I w<strong>on</strong>dered.<br />

Did our rough morning take a toll <strong>on</strong><br />

him? Could he be hungry or tired?<br />

Well, I was hungry and tired of<br />

hearing all his complaining over<br />

math, but we got through it. Then<br />

we packed up and headed outside to<br />

play. I really just wanted him to be<br />

happy, because it made me happy<br />

that he was happy!<br />

Yes, I recognize that our kids’<br />

happiness isn’t <strong>the</strong> goal—raising<br />

resilient and courageous children is.<br />

And training <strong>the</strong>m to walk through<br />

suffering is <strong>the</strong> key. We’ve learned<br />

this <strong>the</strong> hard way, as our kids often<br />

seemed ill-equipped to face hard<br />

times. But we thank God for His<br />

grace—because <strong>the</strong> Lord has d<strong>on</strong>e<br />

amazing things in our kids’ lives.<br />

Today we have a visi<strong>on</strong> for our<br />

kids to embrace <strong>the</strong> struggle and<br />

not avoid it. When our children go<br />

through hard times, and we guide<br />

<strong>the</strong>m in love, <strong>the</strong>y experience healing<br />

and growth that draw <strong>the</strong>m<br />

nearer to God and mature <strong>the</strong>m<br />

in <strong>the</strong>ir faith. My wife, Lori, commented<br />

<strong>on</strong> this: “If our kids are going<br />

to stand str<strong>on</strong>g in this dark world,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y must embrace <strong>the</strong> struggle. We<br />

cannot shrug away from suffering.<br />

Suffering is a tool that <strong>the</strong> Lord can<br />

use to streng<strong>the</strong>n us. It produces<br />

endurance, character and hope.”<br />

Hard times bring us to our knees<br />

and often bring us closer to God. Of<br />

course, we d<strong>on</strong>’t like to see our kids<br />

struggle. We d<strong>on</strong>’t like to struggle. Yet,<br />

it’s in <strong>the</strong> struggle that we flesh out<br />

our faith. Our kids desperately need<br />

<strong>the</strong>se encounters, not more things<br />

that make <strong>the</strong>m happy.<br />

The challenges are unavoidable.<br />

Will your kids be ready? Will <strong>the</strong>y<br />

stand when no <strong>on</strong>e is standing? Will<br />

<strong>the</strong>y know how to face adversity well?<br />

We must prepare our kids. When<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are small, <strong>the</strong>ir problems are<br />

small, but as we guide <strong>the</strong>m through<br />

<strong>the</strong>se trials, we equip <strong>the</strong>m with <strong>the</strong><br />

skills and traits <strong>the</strong>y need to face bigger<br />

struggles. It’s a beautiful cycle.<br />

Walking successfully through challenges<br />

gives kids <strong>the</strong> character <strong>the</strong>y<br />

need to overcome future battles—<br />

and that character produces hope<br />

and c<strong>on</strong>fidence.<br />

Keep an eternal<br />

perspective<br />

I recently asked my sister-in-law,<br />

Tori, how she and Jas<strong>on</strong> were training<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir kids to stand str<strong>on</strong>g amid<br />

challenges throughout <strong>the</strong> school<br />

year. She resp<strong>on</strong>ded that it was so<br />

helpful in <strong>the</strong>ir family to keep <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

20<br />


<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong>

focus <strong>on</strong> God’s kingdom, to keep an<br />

eternal perspective amid <strong>the</strong> trials of<br />

this earthly journey.<br />

“Life is short, but eternity is forever,”<br />

she said. “So in your heart and<br />

mind, have eternity always in view.<br />

I’ve seen how valuable this perspective<br />

is, not <strong>on</strong>ly for me pers<strong>on</strong>ally<br />

but also as a mo<strong>the</strong>r. Our kids have<br />

so much stuff tugging at <strong>the</strong>m—<strong>the</strong><br />

Instagram likes, popularity at school,<br />

athletic achievements, pressure<br />

to c<strong>on</strong>form. But this world, and all<br />

<strong>the</strong>se things that seem so important<br />

in <strong>the</strong>ir hearts, it’s all going to pass<br />

away.”<br />

With three teenagers and a 9-yearold,<br />

my bro<strong>the</strong>r and I are in <strong>the</strong> thick<br />

of parenting. And we’re determined<br />

to help our kids live with an eternal<br />

perspective. Life is short, but eternity<br />

is forever. We must help our kids<br />

keep <strong>the</strong> perspective that best helps<br />

<strong>the</strong>m stand str<strong>on</strong>g against a culture<br />

that is hostile to <strong>the</strong>ir faith.<br />

So create a family culture of<br />

dependence <strong>on</strong> God’s Word, discipleship<br />

and prayer. Commit to service,<br />

to helping and serving o<strong>the</strong>rs. Guide<br />

your kids toward humility and excellence<br />

in <strong>the</strong>ir talents and abilities,<br />

with <strong>the</strong> understanding that <strong>the</strong>se<br />

character traits have eternal benefits.<br />

Nothing this world offers compares<br />

to <strong>the</strong> glory of eternity. •<br />

David benham, al<strong>on</strong>g with his bro<strong>the</strong>r,<br />

Jas<strong>on</strong> benham, are <strong>the</strong> authors of Bold<br />

and Broken: Becoming <strong>the</strong> bridge between<br />

heaven and earth.<br />


Join twins David and Jas<strong>on</strong><br />

Benham as <strong>the</strong>y share more about<br />

family, faith and <strong>the</strong>ir time as<br />

professi<strong>on</strong>al baseball players.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/Radio<br />

<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 21


space for<br />

seeking God<br />

Your little <strong>on</strong>es need you . . .<br />

and you need time with Him<br />


MY DAY BEGAN DETERIORATING INTO CHAOS <strong>the</strong> moment I stepped out of bed. I had gotten up before<br />

<strong>the</strong> kids to try to c<strong>on</strong>nect with God, but <strong>the</strong> baby woke early, drawing me immediately into mo<strong>the</strong>r mode. After lunch, my little<br />

<strong>on</strong>es kept asking me for juice. My 4-year-old twins were taking turns messing with <strong>the</strong>ir older bro<strong>the</strong>r’s LEGO creati<strong>on</strong>. He<br />

loudly protested. An argument ensued, with <strong>the</strong> volume escalating as <strong>the</strong> twins vehemently defended <strong>the</strong> principle of sharing.<br />

And I was halfheartedly trying to keep <strong>the</strong> noise level down because <strong>the</strong> baby was asleep . . . for now.<br />


22<br />


<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong>


As <strong>the</strong> afterno<strong>on</strong> wore <strong>on</strong>, I fled<br />

to my bedroom and closed <strong>the</strong><br />

door, trying to get a few minutes of<br />

peace. I moved toward a rug next<br />

to my bed and slipped <strong>on</strong>to my<br />

knees. Emoti<strong>on</strong>ally and spiritually,<br />

I was running <strong>on</strong> empty. I needed<br />

a moment to ga<strong>the</strong>r my thoughts,<br />

reflect and ask for God’s help with<br />

my role as a mo<strong>the</strong>r before I started<br />

preparing dinner.<br />

I had a solid five minutes to worship<br />

and recount some reas<strong>on</strong>s to<br />

be thankful, when <strong>the</strong> sound of <strong>the</strong><br />

doorknob turning distracted me.<br />

One of <strong>the</strong> twins had discovered my<br />

hideout. “Are you praying, Mommy?”<br />

my little <strong>on</strong>e asked.<br />

My child, full of giggles, began<br />

crawling <strong>on</strong> my back. Before I knew<br />

it, a full-<strong>on</strong> wrestling, playing, cuddling<br />

sessi<strong>on</strong> had begun.<br />

My attempt to get a break might<br />

seem like an epic fail; however, those<br />

few minutes helped me shift from<br />

frustrati<strong>on</strong> to appreciating <strong>the</strong> gift<br />

of mo<strong>the</strong>ring young <strong>on</strong>es. Yet I’ve<br />

noticed that taking time to renew<br />

myself can sometimes leave me<br />

feeling guilty.<br />

What’s peculiar about those<br />

feelings is that Jesus taught and<br />

modeled spiritual rhythms for His<br />

followers. Why wouldn’t I need <strong>the</strong>m,<br />

too? Jesus got away to be al<strong>on</strong>e<br />

with His Fa<strong>the</strong>r (Luke 5:16), and He<br />

taught His disciples how to pray<br />

(Mat<strong>the</strong>w 6:5-15). Jesus also showed<br />

that God’s Word addresses our daily<br />

c<strong>on</strong>cerns, often asking His followers,<br />

“Have you not read . . . ,” referring to<br />

<strong>the</strong> Scriptures (Mat<strong>the</strong>w 12:3,5; 19:4;<br />

and 22:31).<br />

Being like Jesus means caring for<br />

my soul through prayer and Bible<br />

reading. During those busy years of<br />

mo<strong>the</strong>ring my young children, I desperately<br />

needed spiritual rhythms,<br />

but during that stage of my life, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

seemed almost impossible to capture.<br />

Finding quiet time al<strong>on</strong>e with<br />

God often eludes me during seas<strong>on</strong>s<br />

when I am overwhelmed with<br />

resp<strong>on</strong>sibilities, but I’ve found it’s<br />

worth fighting for. Here are some<br />

ideas that helped me develop spiritual<br />

rhythms when my children were<br />

young.<br />

Give yourself permissi<strong>on</strong><br />

to pursue God<br />

Quiet, rest and reflecti<strong>on</strong> are God’s<br />

idea. Stop feeling bad for needing<br />

what <strong>the</strong> Lord says you need. When<br />

you change your mindset to elevate<br />

<strong>the</strong> value of soul care, you prioritize<br />

quiet times as a necessity ra<strong>the</strong>r<br />

than a luxury you d<strong>on</strong>’t deserve.<br />

Just as our vehicles need regular<br />

refueling, we moms need our spiritual<br />

gas tanks filled so we can face<br />

tantrums, meal prep, fights and booboos<br />

with patience and grace.<br />

Never stop starting<br />

Over <strong>the</strong> years, I have started many<br />

different programs and schedules for<br />

reading <strong>the</strong> Bible, praying and reflecting<br />

<strong>on</strong> God. I <strong>on</strong>ly followed through a<br />

fracti<strong>on</strong> of <strong>the</strong> time, and I seldom finished<br />

<strong>the</strong> programs or books.<br />

“Failing” can be so discouraging<br />

that I’m tempted to avoid setting<br />

goals. The thinking goes like this: If<br />

I d<strong>on</strong>’t make a plan to intenti<strong>on</strong>ally<br />

spend time with <strong>the</strong> Lord, <strong>the</strong>n I can’t<br />

fail if I d<strong>on</strong>’t do it.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> saying goes, when you aim<br />

for nothing, you hit it every time.<br />

But I realized that I persevere in<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r areas, even if I d<strong>on</strong>’t do it perfectly.<br />

For example, many times I<br />

have started exercise or healthy eating<br />

plans and failed. But did I stop<br />

pursuing health for my physical<br />

body? Of course not. So I’ve learned<br />

to persist. When <strong>on</strong>e scenario isn’t<br />

working out, I try something else<br />

until I find <strong>the</strong> rhythm that works<br />

with my schedule and lifestyle. >>><br />

“Being<br />

like Jesus<br />

means<br />

caring for<br />

my soul<br />

through<br />

prayer<br />

and Bible<br />

reading.”<br />

<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 23

Use quiet moments wisely<br />

Complicati<strong>on</strong> is <strong>the</strong> enemy of c<strong>on</strong>sistency. The<br />

more elaborate I made my plans to c<strong>on</strong>nect with<br />

<strong>the</strong> Lord, <strong>the</strong> more pr<strong>on</strong>e <strong>the</strong>y were to fail.<br />

If I managed to wake up before <strong>the</strong> kids, to get<br />

<strong>the</strong>m all down for an afterno<strong>on</strong> rest or to stay up a<br />

little later to c<strong>on</strong>nect with God, I sometimes found<br />

myself reverting to scrolling <strong>on</strong> social media,<br />

devouring a Netflix episode, paying bills or—my<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>al favorite—feasting <strong>on</strong> chocolate.<br />

There is a time and a place for those activities.<br />

But after you have fought for that quiet time, d<strong>on</strong>’t<br />

fritter it away. Spend it <strong>on</strong> things that will truly<br />

nourish your soul. Ask yourself this questi<strong>on</strong>,<br />

What activity will leave me feeling most c<strong>on</strong>nected<br />

with God when it’s over?<br />

For me <strong>the</strong> answer is usually reading Scripture,<br />

writing my prayers (because my mind wanders so<br />

easily), sitting quietly and counting my blessings<br />

or singing al<strong>on</strong>g to a worship s<strong>on</strong>g.<br />

Make a list of <strong>the</strong> ways you best c<strong>on</strong>nect with<br />

God and identify your favorites to help you get <strong>the</strong><br />

most out of your time spent <strong>on</strong> soul care.<br />

Celebrate progress, not perfecti<strong>on</strong><br />

No matter how simple I keep my spiritual rhythm<br />

plans, days will come when I will miss <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

Illness, business trips and even holidays can throw<br />

off my spiritual rhythms.<br />

When this happens to you, give yourself grace.<br />

Remember that if you planned to spend 10 minutes<br />

each day with God and you did it for <strong>on</strong>ly four out<br />

of seven days in <strong>the</strong> week, that is four more times<br />

than if you weren’t pursuing a quiet time at all.<br />

My oldest s<strong>on</strong> and <strong>the</strong> twins are now in college,<br />

and my “baby” is finishing high school. Nobody<br />

is fighting over LEGOs or asking me for juice anymore,<br />

but I still need my spiritual tank filled <strong>on</strong> a<br />

regular basis. Recently, my daughter recalled those<br />

times when she found me in my bedroom <strong>on</strong> my<br />

knees. It made an impact <strong>on</strong> her. She is now figuring<br />

out how to c<strong>on</strong>nect with God during her busy<br />

college routine. Pursuing quiet doesn’t have to be<br />

complicated or hyperspiritual, but it does require<br />

intenti<strong>on</strong>ally prioritizing spiritual rhythms. •<br />

melissa spoelstra is <strong>the</strong> author of Dare to Hope: Living<br />

intenti<strong>on</strong>ally in an unstable world.


for a new<br />

generati<strong>on</strong><br />

empowering teen<br />

girls to live out <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

faith and embrace<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir identity as<br />

children of god<br />




MAILBOX!”<br />

That’s Sarah, a girl in her early teens who’s probably<br />

a lot like some<strong>on</strong>e in your own life. She might<br />

remind you of your daughter or granddaughter.<br />

Maybe she wears her hair <strong>the</strong> same way your favorite<br />

niece does or laughs just like <strong>the</strong> girl who helps out<br />

at <strong>the</strong> church nursery.<br />

And like most girls her age, Sarah finds that life is . . .<br />

complicated. Sure, she has loving parents, a supportive<br />

church community and a solid biblical foundati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

But even with those positive influences, Sarah<br />

struggles with feelings of c<strong>on</strong>fusi<strong>on</strong>, of being misunderstood<br />

and unnoticed.<br />

The pings sounding from Sarah’s ph<strong>on</strong>e are c<strong>on</strong>stant<br />

reminders of new selfies her friends have posted.<br />

Some of <strong>the</strong> pics make Sarah feel uncomfortable, but if<br />

she doesn’t resp<strong>on</strong>d with “likes,” her friends may start<br />

unfollowing her.<br />

The drama doesn’t stop <strong>the</strong>re. Fresh into <strong>the</strong> new<br />

school year, Sarah already thinks she’s an outsider<br />

for not watching that edgy new show every<strong>on</strong>e else is<br />

raving about. And when she says that, for now, she’d<br />

like to hold off <strong>on</strong> dating? The girls resp<strong>on</strong>d as though<br />

Sarah’s plans are just plain laughable.<br />

But <strong>on</strong> this day, standing at <strong>the</strong> mailbox, Sarah is<br />

hoping to see something special inside. Something<br />

that always helps her feel c<strong>on</strong>nected and appreciated.<br />

There, mixed am<strong>on</strong>g <strong>the</strong> bills and junk mail,<br />

Sarah spots it. A magazine with a cover photo of a girl<br />

who looks . . . normal. Sarah rushes back to <strong>the</strong> house,<br />

clutching <strong>the</strong> newest editi<strong>on</strong> of Brio magazine.<br />

Finally—something to read from friends who<br />

understand. >>><br />

<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 25


“My teen daughter just loves your magazine<br />

and has grown in her Christian<br />

walk by reading Brio. As a parent, I<br />

really appreciate <strong>the</strong> fact that you<br />

d<strong>on</strong>’t shy away from <strong>the</strong> hard topics.<br />

. . . They are so relevant for today’s<br />

teens—especially for what <strong>the</strong>y deal<br />

with in public schools.”<br />

—Jenni<br />

The Christian life—with zest<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> originally launched Brio magazine<br />

for teen girls in March 1990. Brio is an Italian word<br />

meaning “vigor” and “vivacity.” The intent of <strong>the</strong> magazine<br />

has always been to inspire girls to daily live out<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir Christian faith with passi<strong>on</strong> and determinati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Brio was highly popular with readers and w<strong>on</strong> many<br />

industry awards throughout <strong>the</strong> 1990s and early 2000s.<br />

Unfortunately, following <strong>the</strong> ec<strong>on</strong>omic downturn of<br />

2008, <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> suspended publicati<strong>on</strong> in February 2009.<br />

Still, over <strong>the</strong> years it became clear that <strong>the</strong>re was a<br />

str<strong>on</strong>g interest in—and need for—<strong>the</strong> encouraging biblical<br />

message that Brio communicates to young women.<br />

The magazine relaunched in May 2017 and was<br />

redesigned in 2019 to better address <strong>the</strong> needs of<br />

today’s young teen. The current format is a 76-page,<br />

bim<strong>on</strong>thly publicati<strong>on</strong>, and each issue is an adventure.<br />

Readers come away with cultural insights, health and<br />

beauty tips, and a better understanding of how o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Christians are inspiring <strong>the</strong>ir generati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Brio wants to be a faith-based voice in a teen girl’s<br />

world that inspires hope and joy. Whe<strong>the</strong>r an article<br />

discusses body image, boys or social media, <strong>the</strong> team<br />

addresses <strong>the</strong>se relevant topics through a filter of <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

shared faith in Jesus.<br />

“Teens tell us <strong>the</strong>y love getting <strong>the</strong>ir magazine in <strong>the</strong><br />

mail and appreciate having a copy in hand to read<br />

and share,” says Pam Woody, Brio’s editorial director.<br />

“They enjoy <strong>the</strong> expanded versi<strong>on</strong> with room for notes,<br />

prayers, doodling and journaling.”<br />


“As a fa<strong>the</strong>r of three daughters, I can’t<br />

tell you how much I appreciate your<br />

magazine. I took my teen daughter<br />

out to lunch last week, and she<br />

spent <strong>the</strong> whole time talking about<br />

every subject your magazine covered.<br />

Most of it is stuff I d<strong>on</strong>’t know<br />

how to approach. It is a real source<br />

of encouragement for us.”<br />

—Greg<br />

Go to Brio<strong>Magazine</strong>.ca to find out<br />

more and subscribe.<br />

26<br />


<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong>


A new generati<strong>on</strong><br />

Some of <strong>the</strong> current Brio subscribers are sec<strong>on</strong>dgenerati<strong>on</strong><br />

readers: Their moms received <strong>the</strong> magazine<br />

when <strong>the</strong>y were teenagers and have embraced <strong>the</strong><br />

relaunched versi<strong>on</strong> for <strong>the</strong>ir daughters. But times<br />

have changed.<br />

“Teens now carry <strong>the</strong> world in <strong>the</strong>ir pockets through<br />

smartph<strong>on</strong>es, and <strong>the</strong>y’re c<strong>on</strong>stantly c<strong>on</strong>nected to <strong>the</strong><br />

world through social media,” Pam says. “Technology<br />

has already exposed <strong>the</strong>se girls to big issues and big<br />

questi<strong>on</strong>s, so we want to come al<strong>on</strong>gside <strong>the</strong>m with<br />

h<strong>on</strong>est and insightful resp<strong>on</strong>ses to <strong>the</strong> things <strong>the</strong>y face<br />

every day.”<br />

From <strong>the</strong> feedback Brio receives, <strong>the</strong> team knows<br />

that teen girls find <strong>the</strong>mselves living in an age that is<br />

defined by pop culture, influencers and social-media<br />

messaging. “I’m encouraged by <strong>the</strong> h<strong>on</strong>esty and faith of<br />

our readers,” Pam says. “They have a willingness<br />

to discuss <strong>the</strong> big issues of life. They have a hunger<br />

for truth. They want us to be real with <strong>the</strong>m—and in<br />

return I have hope <strong>the</strong>y will be real with <strong>the</strong>mselves<br />

and with God. I see <strong>the</strong>m growing to be str<strong>on</strong>g and<br />

“I love absolutely everything about Brio!<br />

Each m<strong>on</strong>th, my daughter and I get so<br />

excited to receive our copy. We plan a<br />

special time to read it toge<strong>the</strong>r. So many<br />

great ideas, stories and c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

that always come out of <strong>the</strong> pages!”<br />

—Christy<br />

passi<strong>on</strong>ate women who live countercultural to <strong>the</strong><br />

messages currently bombarding <strong>the</strong>m.”<br />

The Brio team wants each reader to know that she<br />

isn’t defined by social media and <strong>the</strong> cultural fads of<br />

<strong>the</strong> day. “She’s seen. Her questi<strong>on</strong>s are valid, her stresses<br />

understandable,” Pam says. “We want to encourage her<br />

to go easy <strong>on</strong> herself—body, soul and spirit. Perfecti<strong>on</strong><br />

is unattainable, and grace is so much more freeing than<br />

guilt. We want her to know that God created her with<br />

purpose and with a voice, and <strong>the</strong> Brio team is cheering<br />

for her as she finds that purpose and uses that voice.” •<br />

scott Johns<strong>on</strong> is a senior writer in <strong>the</strong> ministry Values divisi<strong>on</strong> at<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>.<br />

worthy.<br />

beautiful.<br />

enough.<br />

The Brio team recognizes that growing into womanhood<br />

is a great adventure. It’s also a journey filled with challenges<br />

and detrimental messages from <strong>the</strong> culture<br />

around us. That’s why each issue of Brio magazine<br />

includes this welcome statement for teen readers:<br />


You are beautifully designed for a unique purpose<br />

and desperately loved by a faithful Savior. Here at<br />

Brio you bel<strong>on</strong>g to a community that will encourage<br />

you to own your faith, be c<strong>on</strong>fident in your<br />

body and discover who you are as a child of God.<br />

As you navigate <strong>the</strong>se teen years, know that you<br />

are not al<strong>on</strong>e. We’re here to listen, to speak truth, to<br />

offer hope. So, let’s talk about <strong>the</strong> issues that matter<br />

to you. Remember, you are God’s good work created<br />

with a purpose and loved bey<strong>on</strong>d measure.<br />

You are worthy. You are beautiful. You are enough.<br />

<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 27

understands<br />

a teen girl’s world!<br />


76 pages of faith-building c<strong>on</strong>tent<br />

for teen girls <strong>on</strong> culture, body image,<br />

social media, relati<strong>on</strong>ships and more<br />

Truth-filled answers for tough<br />

issues teens face<br />

A fun design that teens will love<br />

Journal pages to capture thoughts,<br />

prayers and ideas!<br />

6<br />

issues<br />

a year<br />

Inspire teen girls to grow in <strong>the</strong>ir faith!<br />

order or renew <strong>on</strong>line at briomagazine.ca<br />

or call 1.800.661.9800

Kids & Teens<br />



A fl exible mindset can make a big<br />

difference in how we resp<strong>on</strong>d to challenges<br />



a woman told me over <strong>the</strong> ph<strong>on</strong>e. She was crying.<br />

I was <strong>on</strong> a counseling call with her, and she had<br />

locked herself in <strong>the</strong> bathroom because she was afraid<br />

she might hurt her children. Through <strong>the</strong> ph<strong>on</strong>e I<br />

could hear her kids calling for her and knocking <strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> door.<br />

As we talked, <strong>the</strong> mom revealed that she was<br />

exhausted and overwhelmed.<br />

My immediate goal was to help her calm down and<br />

regain perspective. But I knew that what this mom<br />

really needed were <strong>the</strong> skills to adapt to <strong>the</strong> many<br />

trying situati<strong>on</strong>s we face as parents.<br />

The ability to adapt is crucial for parents. It’s simply<br />

not possible to anticipate every stressful event and<br />

change that life can bring.<br />

After all, plans and people change. Relati<strong>on</strong>ships<br />

and expectati<strong>on</strong>s change. And that’s not even c<strong>on</strong>sidering<br />

earthshaking events that temporarily close<br />

schools, churches and businesses, wreaking havoc <strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> daily workings of family life.<br />

Yet we’re not helpless. We can grow in <strong>the</strong> art of adaptability.<br />

Let’s c<strong>on</strong>sider four qualities we can embrace that<br />

will help us develop as adaptable parents. >>><br />

<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 29


Practicing flexible thinking<br />

We have a couple of mottos in <strong>the</strong> Huerta house.<br />

When we face difficulties, we say, “There is always<br />

a soluti<strong>on</strong>.” And we frequently ask ourselves, “Is<br />

<strong>the</strong>re ano<strong>the</strong>r way to look at this?” Having a flexible<br />

mindset makes a big difference in how we<br />

resp<strong>on</strong>d to challenging circumstances.<br />

Imagine you’ve caught your child in a lie, and<br />

perhaps your child seems to be acting defiant, too.<br />

The easy thing to do—<strong>the</strong> inflexible thing—would<br />

be to focus <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> dish<strong>on</strong>esty and disrespect, and<br />

dispense some kind of c<strong>on</strong>sequence. But flexible<br />

thinking may lead you to a different approach.<br />

You might ask some questi<strong>on</strong>s about <strong>the</strong> circumstances<br />

that led to <strong>the</strong> dish<strong>on</strong>esty. What might<br />

your child have seen, heard or interpreted, whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

from you or from some<strong>on</strong>e else, that could possibly<br />

have motivated this lie? Is your s<strong>on</strong> struggling with<br />

a particular emoti<strong>on</strong>—fear, anxiety, frustrati<strong>on</strong> or<br />

anger—that might have played a role in shaping his<br />

behavior? Is your daughter afraid of telling <strong>the</strong> truth<br />

because she thinks it will get her into trouble?<br />

Flexibility is <strong>the</strong> ability to see things from multiple<br />

perspectives. It requires an open mind and a<br />

willingness to dig deeper. It’s about leaving room<br />

for imperfecti<strong>on</strong> in <strong>the</strong> midst of <strong>the</strong> pressures<br />

and disappointments of everyday life. It’s a skill<br />

that we all need to cultivate if we want to survive<br />

and thrive as parents in a world of adversity and<br />

unpredictability.<br />

Pausing to see<br />

<strong>the</strong> bigger picture<br />

Busy parents often get caught in a vicious cycle<br />

of stress and shortsightedness. Shortsightedness<br />

creates stress because as we focus too intently <strong>on</strong><br />

short-term problems, we can lose touch with <strong>the</strong><br />

rest of <strong>the</strong> world and heighten our sense of helplessness.<br />

Stress, in turn, can cause shortsightedness<br />

by magnifying our difficulties and making <strong>the</strong>m<br />

look bigger than <strong>the</strong>y really are. Under <strong>the</strong> influence<br />

of stress, problems swell to <strong>the</strong> point where we<br />

can no l<strong>on</strong>ger see bey<strong>on</strong>d <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

To break free from this cycle, we must strive to<br />

shift our thoughts toward <strong>the</strong> larger goals of family<br />

life. That starts by pausing to c<strong>on</strong>sider how we’re<br />

interpreting what is happening, and <strong>the</strong>n trying to<br />

see things from multiple perspectives.<br />

When we watch movies, we sometimes have to<br />

hit <strong>the</strong> pause butt<strong>on</strong> to think about what we’ve just<br />

seen, to process a c<strong>on</strong>fusing bit of dialogue or plot<br />

point. This is true in family life as well. Sometimes<br />

we need to hit <strong>the</strong> pause butt<strong>on</strong> l<strong>on</strong>g enough to get<br />

our bearings and think through our plan of acti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

When my kids were small, I often had to pause<br />

and recognize some basics about misbehavior. I<br />

had to remember that very little of what children<br />

do to misbehave is deliberately d<strong>on</strong>e to hurt<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir parents. They’re just resp<strong>on</strong>ding to <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

experiences in life as <strong>the</strong>y learn how to manage<br />

<strong>the</strong>mselves.<br />

30<br />


<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong>


I <strong>on</strong>ce counseled a mom who told me she was<br />

overwhelmed by daily life and was ready to be d<strong>on</strong>e<br />

being a mom. As we c<strong>on</strong>tinued meeting, she agreed<br />

that putting her reacti<strong>on</strong> <strong>on</strong> pause for a few minutes<br />

would be helpful in figuring out what to do<br />

and where to go mentally and emoti<strong>on</strong>ally.<br />

She began c<strong>on</strong>sistently taking time to pray, go<br />

for a walk and enjoy a good laugh. She even drew<br />

“pause butt<strong>on</strong>s” <strong>on</strong> sticky notes that she posted<br />

around her house and in her car as reminders, and<br />

she used <strong>the</strong>se moments of quiet to observe and<br />

gain perspective.<br />

As a result, she was able to listen more attentively<br />

to her children and resp<strong>on</strong>d with more patience.<br />

Pausing to see <strong>the</strong> big picture—and taking time<br />

to process what was o<strong>the</strong>rwise obscuring that picture—helped<br />

this mom fill her emoti<strong>on</strong>al reserves<br />

and become a more effective parent.<br />

Choosing a<br />

growth mindset<br />

A few years ago, Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset:<br />

The New Psychology of Success, described two<br />

important approaches to life challenges: <strong>the</strong><br />

growth mindset and <strong>the</strong> fixed mindset. Dweck<br />

describes <strong>the</strong> compelling scientific evidence for<br />

<strong>the</strong> importance of having and instilling a growth<br />

mindset in ourselves and our children.<br />

I’ll admit that I sometimes fall into a more fixed<br />

mindset in times of stress. I think, It is what it is. In<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r words, I succumb to <strong>the</strong> belief that I ei<strong>the</strong>r<br />

have <strong>the</strong> skills to deal with <strong>the</strong> issue at hand or I<br />

d<strong>on</strong>’t; my abilities can’t really change. This fixed perspective<br />

keeps me from seeing creative soluti<strong>on</strong>s or<br />

allowing myself space to experiment, change and<br />

grow. It stunts growth.<br />

In c<strong>on</strong>trast, a growth mindset sees life as an<br />

<strong>on</strong>going opportunity for change and pers<strong>on</strong>al<br />

development. A growth mindset encourages letting<br />

go of <strong>the</strong> pursuit of perfecti<strong>on</strong> and giving ourselves<br />

(and our children) room for experimentati<strong>on</strong>, failures,<br />

do-overs and restarts. In a growth mindset,<br />

grace toward ourselves and o<strong>the</strong>rs helps us adapt<br />

to human imperfecti<strong>on</strong>s. The grace inherent in a<br />

growth mindset also helps us maintain <strong>the</strong> perspective<br />

that raising kids is a journey of ups and downs.<br />

Letting go of <strong>the</strong> ideal and moving toward<br />

growth as a child of God is freeing. And God gives<br />

us so many opportunities to grow. He never said<br />

parents were going to start out with all of <strong>the</strong> necessary<br />

skills. He c<strong>on</strong>sistently says to trust in Him<br />

and c<strong>on</strong>nect with Him al<strong>on</strong>g <strong>the</strong> journey. Indeed,<br />

an open, growth-oriented mindset, founded <strong>on</strong><br />

trust in God, helps us adjust to <strong>the</strong> amazing life<br />

God has planned for us.<br />

Adjusting <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> fly<br />

Do you ever wish each child came with his or<br />

her own instructi<strong>on</strong> manual? That’s not <strong>the</strong> case,<br />

unfortunately. Indeed, your unique challenge is<br />

<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 31


that nobody <strong>on</strong> earth has ever raised your child<br />

before. No book or expert speaks directly to your<br />

child’s specific design.<br />

And that brings us to <strong>the</strong> final essential element<br />

of adaptability: a willingness to learn <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> job.<br />

In parenting, you are shaping ano<strong>the</strong>r human<br />

being while also being significantly shaped al<strong>on</strong>g<br />

<strong>the</strong> way. There are moments of growth for both<br />

you and your children. This growth includes<br />

learning about your own pers<strong>on</strong>ality, each child’s<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>ality, and specific triggers that tend to bring<br />

out good and bad parenting.<br />

There’s <strong>on</strong>ly <strong>on</strong>e way to meet <strong>the</strong>se challenges<br />

effectively: You have to stay in <strong>the</strong> game, even<br />

when things aren’t going right. Stick close to your<br />

children as you discover what makes <strong>the</strong>m tick<br />

and what gets <strong>the</strong>m moving in <strong>the</strong> directi<strong>on</strong> of<br />

learning and growth. Study <strong>the</strong>m to see patterns<br />

emerging. Some days, you may feel like throwing<br />

in <strong>the</strong> towel, but remember that <strong>the</strong> twists and<br />

turns of life keep you <strong>on</strong> your toes.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> meantime, accept your own imperfecti<strong>on</strong>s,<br />

seeing <strong>the</strong>m as inevitable opportunities for<br />

growth. Lean <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> Lord for strength and understanding.<br />

Take notes as you progress and learn<br />

from your mistakes.<br />

Finally, adjust your parenting strategies by using<br />

<strong>the</strong> knowledge you’ve acquired al<strong>on</strong>g <strong>the</strong> way and<br />

<strong>the</strong> wisdom you’ve gained from what God is doing<br />

in <strong>the</strong> lives of you and your children.<br />

If you do this, you will not <strong>on</strong>ly succeed at your<br />

task, but you’ll also be better able to set <strong>the</strong> kind of<br />

example that will encourage your children to grow<br />

spiritually. All you have to do is bring your imperfect<br />

self to <strong>the</strong> job and give everything you can give<br />

out of your imperfect best.<br />

You are, after all, <strong>the</strong> very best candidate for<br />

<strong>the</strong> job. •<br />

Daniel p. Huerta is <strong>the</strong> vice president of parenting and Youth<br />

at <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>. this article has been adapted from his<br />

book, Seven Traits of Effective Parenting.<br />

32<br />


<strong>August</strong> / september <strong>2020</strong>




Nurturing our kids in<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir god-given talents<br />



ONE MORNING IN 2014, my husband, Hank,<br />

and I were standing toge<strong>the</strong>r and looking out our hotel<br />

window at <strong>the</strong> Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It was <strong>on</strong>e of<br />

<strong>the</strong> big “worth it” moments for us as parents. That night<br />

we would walk <strong>the</strong> red carpet for <strong>the</strong> world premiere of<br />

our two s<strong>on</strong>s’ newest movie.<br />

I’m often asked how I resp<strong>on</strong>ded when Andy and J<strong>on</strong><br />

said <strong>the</strong>y believed God wanted <strong>the</strong>m to make movies.<br />

Well, I believed my boys, and I believed in <strong>the</strong>m. I also<br />

believed that God wanted me to be part of that process.<br />

As parents, we can easily become stressed and discouraged<br />

as we juggle <strong>the</strong> many tasks of raising kids,<br />

especially highly creative children. Yet I believe that God<br />

equips those He has called. When we help cultivate our<br />

children’s God-given gifts, He in turn equips <strong>the</strong>m for <strong>the</strong><br />

work He has in mind.<br />

Parent <strong>the</strong> children God gives you<br />

Early <strong>on</strong>, I saw some issues in my s<strong>on</strong>s’ temperaments<br />

that, if left unbridled, could someday rise up to destroy<br />

<strong>the</strong>m. They could show such ferocity at times, and in<br />

such different ways. I had believed that it was my job as<br />

a parent to tame <strong>the</strong>se wild stalli<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

But I began to recognize that <strong>the</strong>se traits were part<br />

of my s<strong>on</strong>s’ unique pers<strong>on</strong>alities, and if <strong>the</strong>y could be<br />

brought under <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>trol of God’s wisdom and directi<strong>on</strong>,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y would be <strong>the</strong> making of creative, passi<strong>on</strong>ate<br />

thoroughbreds. That doesn’t mean Hank and I avoided<br />

teaching discipline and resp<strong>on</strong>sibility, or helping our<br />

boys recognize sin and try to steer clear of it. But it did<br />

require a worldview adjustment, an understanding that<br />

some of our boys’ qualities didn’t need to be diminished<br />

but given directi<strong>on</strong>. >>><br />

<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 33


We asked God for wisdom, trusting<br />

Him that it would be given (James<br />

1:5). And God showed up, helping us<br />

direct our boys’ inner fire, guiding<br />

our parenting decisi<strong>on</strong>s to nurture<br />

curiosity, creativity and compassi<strong>on</strong><br />

without extinguishing <strong>the</strong>ir passi<strong>on</strong>.<br />

I was recently talking with J<strong>on</strong>,<br />

now a parent himself. I menti<strong>on</strong>ed<br />

that <strong>the</strong> character traits that I had to<br />

discipline him and his bro<strong>the</strong>r for—<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>on</strong>es that drove me crazy!—are<br />

<strong>the</strong> very traits that God is using in<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir lives in accomplishing His will.<br />

The Creator of all things can take<br />

our weaknesses and turn <strong>the</strong>m into<br />

strengths.<br />

Instead of asking why God made a<br />

child <strong>the</strong> way He did, ask Him, “What<br />

guidance and directi<strong>on</strong> do You have<br />

for this child?” Be thankful for how<br />

He has made your children, always<br />

seeking wisdom in how you can best<br />

equip <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

Grace through mistakes<br />

I was a creative child myself, which<br />

generally drove my mo<strong>the</strong>r up <strong>the</strong><br />

wall. When I was about 12 years<br />

old, I spent many hours painting a<br />

portrait of my mom while she was<br />

in <strong>the</strong> hospital. When she arrived<br />

home, I met her at <strong>the</strong> door with<br />

my gift, but she could <strong>on</strong>ly see <strong>the</strong><br />

oil paint all over her kitchen table.<br />

As a mom, I can understand her<br />

resp<strong>on</strong>se. How often do we look<br />

past those surges of childhood creativity<br />

and see <strong>on</strong>ly <strong>the</strong> mess, <strong>the</strong><br />

broken camera, <strong>the</strong> tools left out in<br />

<strong>the</strong> rain? In those moments with my<br />

s<strong>on</strong>s, I remembered <strong>the</strong> pain I felt<br />

over my mo<strong>the</strong>r’s lack of acknowledging<br />

my creative efforts. And I<br />

wanted to be better with my boys.<br />

Yet I also recognized that my<br />

mom taught me how to live a more<br />

disciplined, resp<strong>on</strong>sible life, to<br />

not let my creativity c<strong>on</strong>trol and<br />

c<strong>on</strong>sume me. And so <strong>the</strong>re is a balance<br />

here, between nurturing a<br />

child’s creative spirit and helping<br />

him or her understand that we must<br />

still operate within certain practicalities<br />

and resp<strong>on</strong>sibilities.<br />

As I encountered <strong>the</strong> mess and<br />

complicati<strong>on</strong>s of raising two creative<br />

boys, I stuck to a principle<br />

of first seeing things through my<br />

s<strong>on</strong>s’ eyes, not just my grown-up<br />

eyes. I wanted my boys to know<br />

that I treasured <strong>the</strong>ir unique, fiery<br />

spirits and creativity. One of <strong>the</strong><br />

most important things we all need<br />

to see is that we are unique creati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

of God who have been<br />

“fearfully and w<strong>on</strong>derfully made”<br />

(Psalm 139:14).<br />

Let your children know that God<br />

has a special plan for that uniqueness.<br />

Ask God to give <strong>the</strong>m a clear<br />

understanding of <strong>the</strong> work He<br />

designed <strong>the</strong>m to accomplish.<br />


34<br />


<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong>



Teach what you know;<br />

trust God for <strong>the</strong> rest<br />

Hank encouraged <strong>the</strong> boys to dream<br />

big, often teaching <strong>the</strong>m a key principle<br />

that would make <strong>the</strong> difference in<br />

everything <strong>the</strong>y tried to do. He called<br />

it “The Wow Factor.” If some<strong>on</strong>e sees<br />

your work and says, “That’s nice,”<br />

you’re not d<strong>on</strong>e. Go back and work<br />

some more until <strong>the</strong>y say, “Wow!”<br />

Our s<strong>on</strong>s’ journey into filmmaking<br />

began with Hank’s love for radio and<br />

televisi<strong>on</strong>. Hank worked at a Dallas<br />

TV stati<strong>on</strong> to help pay for seminary.<br />

After a year, <strong>the</strong> news director asked<br />

him to join <strong>the</strong>ir news team. Our<br />

s<strong>on</strong>s grew up thinking all fa<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

were <strong>on</strong> TV, and in <strong>the</strong>ir teen years,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y were allowed to work <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

dad’s set. They caught <strong>the</strong> same bug<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir fa<strong>the</strong>r had, working as cameramen<br />

for high school football<br />

games, editing video clips and learning<br />

to operate <strong>the</strong> machines in <strong>the</strong><br />

producti<strong>on</strong> booth. They branched<br />

out into making short films for Word<br />

of Life summer camps, using <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

maturing storytelling skills to integrate<br />

<strong>the</strong> Gospel message into every<br />

video that <strong>the</strong> campers took home.<br />

As <strong>the</strong>se projects and o<strong>the</strong>rs began<br />

to accumulate, <strong>the</strong>y learned that<br />

God could take limited resources<br />

and do mighty work.<br />

Step by step, God began to teach<br />

<strong>the</strong> boys how to make a movie. He<br />

did this by opening doors for projects<br />

that were just a little bit out of<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir existing skill set. As <strong>the</strong>y were<br />

willing to learn new skills, o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

assignments would come. Just as<br />

God was faithful to enable our s<strong>on</strong>s<br />

to do what He had called <strong>the</strong>m to<br />

do, He will do <strong>the</strong> same for your children,<br />

even if it doesn’t look anything<br />

like what you’ve expected or imagined<br />

as parents.<br />

At some point, <strong>the</strong> active role of<br />

parents starts to fade from this picture.<br />

But as God equips children<br />

to grow <strong>the</strong>ir skills, parents have<br />

a chance for a new role: to come<br />

al<strong>on</strong>gside <strong>the</strong>m and be <strong>the</strong>ir fans. We<br />

always waited to be asked into our<br />

s<strong>on</strong>s’ world of filmmaking, and when<br />

<strong>the</strong>y outgrew our ability to help, we<br />

stepped aside. Now we stand <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

sidelines and cheer <strong>the</strong>m <strong>on</strong>.<br />

Prepare <strong>the</strong>m for<br />

disappointment<br />

Following God’s plan doesn’t mean<br />

we get to pursue our dreams without<br />

failure and disappointment. When<br />

our boys were young, we taught<br />

<strong>the</strong>m that God has His plan, and<br />

even if it is different from our plan,<br />

we will submit to it. Yes, <strong>the</strong>re might<br />

be pain and disappointment and<br />

l<strong>on</strong>g periods of waiting, but we can<br />

thank Him for His wisdom and presence<br />

in <strong>the</strong> midst of <strong>the</strong> journey. >>><br />

<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 35


Follow Shelia Erwin’s story of<br />

raising two dreamers who became<br />

film producers.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/Radio<br />

Get <strong>the</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong><br />

Broadcast app today at<br />


He directs and instructs us by both<br />

giving and withholding.<br />

My s<strong>on</strong>s encountered a major<br />

obstacle and disappointment with<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir first big film. Everything was<br />

going great. The movie was finished.<br />

Then came <strong>the</strong> low point. They were<br />

told that because of <strong>the</strong> subject matter,<br />

no <strong>on</strong>e wanted to distribute<br />

<strong>the</strong> movie in <strong>the</strong>aters. Even though<br />

promises had been made, <strong>the</strong>y were<br />

told to just put it out <strong>on</strong> DVD and try<br />

to make <strong>the</strong>ir m<strong>on</strong>ey back.<br />

With this heartbreaking news,<br />

Andy and J<strong>on</strong> sought God’s directi<strong>on</strong><br />

in prayer. They decided that <strong>the</strong> Lord<br />

really did want this movie to be seen<br />

by a broader audience than a DVD<br />

format could offer. While Andy was<br />

editing <strong>the</strong> movie, J<strong>on</strong> set out to raise<br />

<strong>the</strong> $2 milli<strong>on</strong> needed to market and<br />

distribute <strong>the</strong> film.<br />

So we all prayed. Eventually, <strong>the</strong><br />

m<strong>on</strong>ey began to arrive. But God first<br />

had to take <strong>the</strong>m to <strong>the</strong> end of <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

human resources before He began<br />

to provide. And in October of 2012,<br />

October Baby opened nati<strong>on</strong>wide,<br />

breaking into <strong>the</strong> top 10 movies that<br />

first weekend, though it was <strong>on</strong>ly <strong>on</strong><br />

a limited number of screens.<br />

Parents, we need to start early in<br />

teaching our kids how to face disappointments,<br />

because <strong>the</strong>y are bound<br />

to encounter obstacles <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> way<br />

to <strong>the</strong>ir dreams. There will be times<br />

of heartache, times when <strong>the</strong>y d<strong>on</strong>’t<br />

get in <strong>the</strong> band or <strong>the</strong>ir artwork isn’t<br />

selected for an exhibiti<strong>on</strong>. Show<br />

<strong>the</strong>m how to keep trying, to keep<br />

improving, to c<strong>on</strong>tinue turning to<br />

God and trusting His guidance. So<br />

often God uses failure, and n<strong>on</strong>e of<br />

us ever know what He is planning.<br />

Only part of <strong>the</strong><br />

masterpiece<br />

“Instead of being soloists, can we<br />

become a symph<strong>on</strong>y?” Those<br />

were <strong>the</strong> words of my s<strong>on</strong> J<strong>on</strong> as<br />

he and his bro<strong>the</strong>r announced <strong>the</strong><br />

co-founding of <strong>the</strong>ir new movie studio,<br />

Kingdom Story Company. It was<br />

a reminder that I am <strong>on</strong>ly part of<br />

this masterpiece. Over <strong>the</strong> years, as<br />

I did what I could to c<strong>on</strong>tribute to<br />

my s<strong>on</strong>s’ journey, I had <strong>on</strong>ly been<br />

<strong>on</strong>e brush in <strong>the</strong> hand of a powerful<br />

God. I certainly hadn’t been <strong>the</strong> <strong>on</strong>ly<br />

brush. He had used many brushes.<br />

God had given my s<strong>on</strong>s His creative<br />

ambiti<strong>on</strong>. He had prepared<br />

<strong>the</strong>m for His dream for such a day<br />

as this, and that kingdom story has<br />

<strong>on</strong>ly just begun. •<br />

shelia erwin is <strong>the</strong> author of Raising Up<br />

Dreamers: Find and grow your child’s God-given<br />

talents, from which this article has been adapted.


How to stay<br />

c<strong>on</strong>nected with<br />

your grandkids<br />

as <strong>the</strong>y grow<br />



<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 37



OPHELIA rummaged through<br />

<strong>the</strong> toy bin and held up two tattered<br />

superhero capes.<br />

“You wear <strong>the</strong> pink <strong>on</strong>e,” she<br />

instructed me and tried to place <strong>the</strong><br />

cape over my T-shirt. I scooped <strong>the</strong><br />

tiny 2-year-old into my arms, knowing<br />

what came next.<br />

She asked, “Should we dance or<br />

fly-a-sky, Grandma?”<br />

I was already scrolling through<br />

<strong>the</strong> playlist <strong>on</strong> my ph<strong>on</strong>e in search<br />

of <strong>the</strong> Mary Poppins s<strong>on</strong>g “Let’s Go<br />

Fly a Kite.”<br />

Within sec<strong>on</strong>ds, Ophie was<br />

squealing as we twirled around <strong>the</strong><br />

room. Dancing—a generous term<br />

for my awkward movements—is<br />

<strong>on</strong>e way I have c<strong>on</strong>nected with my<br />

youngest grandchild.<br />

Research by Oxford professor<br />

Ann Buchanan indicates that a<br />

high level of grandparent involvement,<br />

whatever <strong>the</strong> activity, greatly<br />

increases <strong>the</strong> overall well-being of<br />

grandchildren. In a study of more<br />

than 1,500 children, Buchanan<br />

found that kids who have more<br />

involved grandparents have fewer<br />

emoti<strong>on</strong>al and behavioral problems<br />

than kids who d<strong>on</strong>’t have a regular<br />

c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

So how can grandparents ensure a<br />

meaningful c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> when <strong>the</strong>y’re<br />

with <strong>the</strong>ir grandchildren? There’s no<br />

special grandparent glue, but we can<br />

choose to study our grandchildren,<br />

ask questi<strong>on</strong>s and be intenti<strong>on</strong>al<br />

about spending time with <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

Studying grandkids<br />

Each child is uniquely created<br />

in God’s image. Therefore, it’s<br />

important to watch for his emerging<br />

interests, talents and pers<strong>on</strong>ality<br />

traits. You also can observe whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

your grandchild is an extrovert or<br />

an introvert, a leader or a supporter.<br />

Finally, you can take note of his<br />

temperament.<br />

Look, also, for signs of how your<br />

grandchild expresses love to you<br />

and o<strong>the</strong>r family members. Does<br />

she enjoy spending time with you?<br />

Does she always want to bring you<br />

a gift? Does she like helping out in<br />

<strong>the</strong> kitchen or snuggling <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> sofa<br />

with a book? These observati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

from Dr. Gary Chapman’s research<br />

<strong>on</strong> love languages can give you ideas<br />

about how your grandchild is more<br />

likely to experience your love when<br />

you are toge<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

The goal of studying your grandchild<br />

is to find a way to c<strong>on</strong>nect that<br />

38<br />


<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong>


is meaningful to <strong>the</strong> child. The better<br />

we understand our grand-blessings,<br />

<strong>the</strong> str<strong>on</strong>ger <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Ask questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

When we interact with our grandkids,<br />

we should strive to ask questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

that reveal <strong>the</strong>ir heart. Nurture<br />

open-ended c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> instead<br />

of yes-or-no questi<strong>on</strong>s. Showing an<br />

interest in our grandkids as individuals<br />

helps create a safe place for <strong>the</strong>m<br />

to ask questi<strong>on</strong>s in return. These<br />

meaningful c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s are where<br />

genuine mentoring often takes place.<br />

GRANDPARENTS are far<br />

more likely to overcome adversity<br />

and become successful in school<br />

and life, says school psychologist<br />

Karyn Singley Blair, who has spent<br />

20 years working with children and<br />

adolescents. Blair identifies five<br />

stages of development for children.<br />

Understanding <strong>the</strong>se stages will help<br />

grandparents better relate to <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

grandchildren.<br />


Spend time<br />

Opportunity for c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> with our<br />

grandkids increases when we have Infants and toddlers:<br />

<strong>on</strong>e-<strong>on</strong>-<strong>on</strong>e time with <strong>the</strong>m, ra<strong>the</strong>r birth through 18 m<strong>on</strong>ths<br />

than engaging with multiple children<br />

at <strong>on</strong>ce. But if you have more life, c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> with a child is built<br />

During <strong>the</strong> first year and a half of<br />

grand-blessings than days in <strong>the</strong> mainly through physical c<strong>on</strong>tact<br />

week, and it isn’t possible to spend and meeting <strong>the</strong>ir primary needs<br />

time with each child individually, go so <strong>the</strong>y develop trust in you, Blair<br />

ahead and do activities in a group. says. Holding, feeding, reading<br />

But find moments to engage with to and playing with kids this age<br />

each grandchild so he knows you see builds familiarity and trust. Even at<br />

him as an individual. •<br />

this early stage, grandparents can<br />

study temperaments and emerging<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>alities. Most children up<br />

to 18 m<strong>on</strong>ths have a very limited<br />

vocabulary but will still voice <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

preferences when asked questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

such as “Do you want Grandpa to<br />

read Green Eggs and Ham or Good<br />

Good Fa<strong>the</strong>r ?” or “Would you ra<strong>the</strong>r<br />

color a picture or kick <strong>the</strong> soccer<br />

ball?” Their answers will begin to<br />

reveal <strong>the</strong>ir unique pers<strong>on</strong>alities.<br />

Early childhood:<br />

18 m<strong>on</strong>ths to 3 years<br />

At <strong>the</strong>se ages, grandchildren will<br />

desire to do things <strong>the</strong>mselves but<br />

will still need a lot of assistance.<br />

Establish a b<strong>on</strong>d through helping<br />

<strong>the</strong>m develop new skills. We learn a<br />

great deal about our grandchildren<br />

by patiently allowing <strong>the</strong>m to work<br />

al<strong>on</strong>gside us in simple tasks such as<br />

cooking, cleaning, doing yardwork<br />

and drying dishes. >>><br />



Although b<strong>on</strong>ding is easier when a grandparent is physically<br />

present, meaningful c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> with a grandchild can still<br />

happen over l<strong>on</strong>g distances. Tina Knowles and her husband,<br />

Jim, are new grandparents. “I think distance grandparenting<br />

will be <strong>the</strong> story of our lives,” Tina admits.<br />

She already uses FaceTime to read books to her grands<strong>on</strong> so<br />

her voice becomes familiar to him. They use an app called<br />

Tinybeans, which allows <strong>the</strong>ir daughters to share photos of<br />

<strong>the</strong> growing grandkids every day.<br />

Grandparent club<br />

Notice what your grandchildren are interested in and<br />

form a l<strong>on</strong>g-distance club related to that area of interest.<br />

For Nancy Casterline, it has been a book club. She sends<br />

books to her grandchildren, and after she and <strong>the</strong> kids read<br />

each book, <strong>the</strong>y discuss what <strong>the</strong>y’ve read. This can also<br />

be d<strong>on</strong>e with kids’ magazines.<br />

O<strong>the</strong>r grandparent clubs might focus <strong>on</strong> puzzles, kidfriendly<br />

recipes, exercise, Scripture memorizati<strong>on</strong> or<br />

drawing. You could also try a “word of <strong>the</strong> m<strong>on</strong>th” club,<br />

where participants can do anything creative with <strong>the</strong><br />

m<strong>on</strong>th’s word, such as drawing, writing or painting.<br />

O<strong>the</strong>r ideas for c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong><br />

The point is to create comm<strong>on</strong> experiences. Here are o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

ideas that grandparents have used to c<strong>on</strong>nect with l<strong>on</strong>gdistance<br />

grandkids:<br />

• Call individual grandchildren regularly.<br />

• Offer to have <strong>the</strong> grandchildren visit you.<br />

• Play <strong>on</strong>line games toge<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

• Create videos to send to each o<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 39


And keep noticing what makes<br />

your grandchildren unique! Are <strong>the</strong>y<br />

detail-oriented or big-picture? Do<br />

<strong>the</strong>y lose interest easily, or can <strong>the</strong>y<br />

follow directi<strong>on</strong>s for a while?<br />

When Lisa Hebbert noticed that<br />

her 2-year-old granddaughter loved<br />

to make messes, she began creating<br />

mud pies with her. They later<br />

moved into <strong>the</strong> kitchen, where <strong>the</strong>y<br />

exchanged mud for pudding and<br />

began creating real desserts toge<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Today, her granddaughter is a c<strong>on</strong>fident<br />

cook, and <strong>the</strong> two of <strong>the</strong>m<br />

enjoy watching cooking shows<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Preschool: ages 3 to 5<br />

Preschoolers love to play, and <strong>the</strong>y<br />

also start to imitate <strong>the</strong>ir caregivers.<br />

Since laughter c<strong>on</strong>nects <strong>the</strong> generati<strong>on</strong>s,<br />

be silly toge<strong>the</strong>r. Allow plenty<br />

of playtime, but also pay attenti<strong>on</strong> to<br />

what a child struggles with and what<br />

he is eager to learn. Ask how he feels<br />

when he’s learning things.<br />

When my granddaughter Caeris<br />

was 3, she became frustrated<br />

because she couldn’t catch a Frisbee,<br />

and she told me this made her sad.<br />

I purchased some Frisbee rings and<br />

we practiced, celebrating each catch<br />

with a silly victory dance. Now, at<br />

5, she loves to play Frisbee, and it<br />

has become <strong>on</strong>e of our c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

as we talk about not giving up just<br />

because something is hard.<br />

School age: ages 6 to 12<br />

School-age children are ready to<br />

learn how to be good citizens and<br />

become part of a bigger community.<br />

C<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> at this stage happens as<br />

a child starts to discover <strong>the</strong> world<br />

outside of his or her family.<br />

Hebbert and her granddaughter<br />

found comm<strong>on</strong> ground in looking<br />

for ways to bless o<strong>the</strong>rs—whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

creating May Day baskets to hang<br />

<strong>on</strong> neighbors’ doorknobs or earning<br />

m<strong>on</strong>ey for a charity. Hebbert built<br />

this c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> as she recognized<br />

her granddaughter’s generous heart<br />

and has helped her serve <strong>the</strong> community<br />

around her.<br />

This c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> comes from<br />


You can be a “rock star”<br />

grandparent! Listen to popular<br />

author Chrys Howard explain how.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/Radio<br />

understanding <strong>the</strong> child, and it may<br />

not always be a hobby or interest of<br />

your own. My 6-year-old grands<strong>on</strong><br />

is developing a real love for drawing.<br />

He c<strong>on</strong>stantly asks my husband and<br />

me to show him how to draw things.<br />

On my list of favorite things to do, I<br />

place drawing right above cleaning<br />

<strong>the</strong> bathroom. But to enter his world<br />

and create a b<strong>on</strong>d through something<br />

he enjoys, I’ve begun viewing<br />

drawing tutorials with him.<br />

Whe<strong>the</strong>r I’m sitting with him and<br />

helping with <strong>the</strong> tutorial or drawing<br />

al<strong>on</strong>gside him, we are building a<br />

c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>. That c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> gives<br />

me <strong>the</strong> opportunity to talk about<br />

being OK with making mistakes<br />

and encourage him to turn his mistakes<br />

into something even better.<br />

Mentoring is easier when we can use<br />

an area of our grandchild’s interest<br />

to nurture life less<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

Adolescent: ages 12 to 18<br />

As a grandparent, you know that a<br />

teen is looking to find his or her own<br />

identity and independence. Your<br />

grandchild may begin to pull away<br />

from family. Friends may become<br />

more important.<br />

To build and maintain c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong><br />

during this stage, be present but not<br />

pushy. Get to know your grandchild’s<br />

friends and teammates. Ask your<br />

grandchild about his dreams, values<br />

and beliefs. Building c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong><br />

means entering your grandchild’s<br />

world ra<strong>the</strong>r than forcing him into<br />

yours. •<br />

40<br />


<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong>


tea<br />

party<br />

Lillian, 4, Melody, 2, and Drew,<br />

4 m<strong>on</strong>ths<br />

tea for three!<br />

—Meghan from Ontario<br />

(Kids L to R): Tanner, 5, McKinsey, 9,<br />

Colin, 7, and Teagan Joy, 3<br />

Daddy loves playing tea party with his four<br />

children!<br />

—Allis<strong>on</strong> from Pennsylvania<br />

Kolby, 6 m<strong>on</strong>ths<br />

A first tea party that was great, down to<br />

<strong>the</strong> last plate.<br />

—Jayme from Colorado<br />

Your kids could be in <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> magazine!<br />

email photos* of your child going swimming or enjoying a family<br />

vacati<strong>on</strong>. (put “swimming” or “vacati<strong>on</strong> fun” in <strong>the</strong> subject line.)<br />

Send to: info@fotf.ca<br />

* Largest photo possible—professi<strong>on</strong>al photos not accepted<br />

42<br />


<strong>August</strong> / <strong>September</strong> <strong>2020</strong>

New Adventures<br />

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your kids solve 12 perplexing puzzles<br />

right al<strong>on</strong>gside <strong>the</strong>m with this audio<br />

collecti<strong>on</strong> of previously released<br />

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Equip kids to share <strong>the</strong> gospel<br />

through comic-strip adventures<br />

that are out of this world! They’ll<br />

join Kelvin <strong>on</strong> his missi<strong>on</strong> to an alien<br />

planet to tell <strong>the</strong> inhabitants about<br />

Christ. Ages 8+<br />

2 CDs • F01791D<br />

C<strong>on</strong>nie’s helping Jillian search for a<br />

career: a process of trial and error with<br />

some hilarious results! Meanwhile,<br />

Penny and Woot<strong>on</strong>’s plan to surprise<br />

Penny’s parents goes wildly awry.<br />

Ages 8+<br />

Order <strong>on</strong>line at Shop.<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca or call 1.800.661.9800

Shop with c<strong>on</strong>fidence<br />

at <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada<br />

Today <strong>the</strong>re are many ways to shop for<br />

faith‐building resources for your family. And<br />

yet, when you c<strong>on</strong>sider purchasing an item,<br />

<strong>the</strong> same questi<strong>on</strong>s resurface:<br />

Is <strong>the</strong> author offering a biblically based perspective?<br />

Would a counsellor c<strong>on</strong>sider it sound advice?<br />

Will <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>tent engage your kids?<br />

When you shop at <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong><br />

Canada, you can be sure about <strong>the</strong> resources<br />

we’re offering.<br />

We stand behind every item we sell, because<br />

each <strong>on</strong>e has been reviewed and approved<br />

by our staff for excellent c<strong>on</strong>tent that’s in<br />

line with God’s Word.<br />

Shop <strong>on</strong>line at Shop.<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca or shop by ph<strong>on</strong>e at 1.800.661.9800

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