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Focus on the Family Magazine - June/July 2021

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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Canada

Helping Families Thrive in Christ

JUNE / JULY 2021

TIM & DEMI-LEIGH TEBOW:

United in

Joined

Love

M in istry

THE FATHER

YOUR KIDS NEED

HELP YOUR KIDS

LOVE PEOPLE OF

EVERY COLOR


June / July

Contents

Couples

Faith & Inspiration

Kids & Teens

Bringing Biblical Truth

to a Broken Culture

video series

We live in a society that’s often at odds with biblical truth, and it’s not always

clear how to share the gospel in a way that’s meaningful to others around us.

Like many people, you may be wondering How can I make a difference?

Join renowned Bible teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan for

a free, five-part video series that helps answer that question! Ray

will take you back to the first century to look at how the apostle

Paul shared God’s truth in the midst of a pagan culture.

11 TREASURE YOUR

SPOUSE’S DIFFERENCES

A marriage insight

from Dr. Greg Smalley

12 TIM AND DEMI-LEIGH

TEBOW: UNITED IN LOVE

AND JOINED IN MINISTRY

Compassion for kids with special

needs brought them together and

shapes their outreach as a couple

by Benjamin Hawkins

17 FINDING MY HUSBAND’S

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP

I had to get out of the way to

see how he was already

discipling our kids

by Deb Weakly

18 SEVEN WAYS TO IMPROVE

YOUR MARRIAGE

Boot these bad habits for

better communication

by Jill Savage

21 CHOOSING REDEMPTION

OVER SELF-SUFFICIENCY

A spiritual insight from ong>Focusong>

on the Family leadership

by Mike Bossert

22 A PERSONAL TOUCH FOR

FAMILIES IN SEARCH OF ANSWERS

Family help specialists serve on the

ministry’s front lines, providing a

listening ear and timely assistance

by Scott Johnson

26 THE RELUCTANT DAD

A father finds reassurance that

children are always a blessing

by Thomas Jeffries

28 AN ONLINE WORLD OF

COUNTERFEIT CHRISTIANITY

Are you teaching your kids to

recognize false gospels?

by Alisa Childers

31 GOING OFF SCRIPT

A parenting insight

from Alex Kendrick

32 HELP YOUR KIDS LOVE

PEOPLE OF EVERY COLOR

Route 316 is a road map for

developing racial sensitivity and

appreciation for other cultures

by Dr. David D. Ireland

37 THE FATHER YOUR KIDS NEED

Dads matter. So how can you make

a lasting difference in your children’s

lives?

by Ed Tandy McGlasson

41 A NEW DREAM JOB:

SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS

Is there really a path to online

fame and easy money?

by Adam R. Holz

44 THE SHOE RULE

Stumbling over sneakers led to

a lesson about responsibility

by Chris Brack

You can play a vital role in sharing the love of Christ with others.

Let Ray show you how!

SIGN UP TODAY!

ong>Focusong>OnTheFamily.ca/BrokenCulture

FLAFFY / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

In Every

Issue

4 A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT

5 HACKS & FACTS

46 MY THRIVING FAMILY

June / July 2021 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 3


A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT

Bob Cheatley is interim

president of ong>Focusong> on the

Family Canada

looking

ahead to

summer

THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR

is just around the corner and while we are

hopeful for a summer filled with more normalcy

than last year, many of us are still

feeling the weight of pandemic restrictions.

Whether it’s continued physical separation

from family, needing to build social distancing

into your plans, or struggling to find new

ways of spending time with your kids, we

want to help.

On pages 5-6, you’ll find staycation ideas

to make time at home memorable with

your children. On pages 8-9, you’ll read real advice from

real parents on how your kids can stay connected with their

grandparents and extended family—even when they live far

apart.

If you’re looking for new ways to dive deeper into tough

topics with your children, there are two valuable articles I

encourage you to read. The first is “An online world of counterfeit

Christianity” on page 28 that will guide you as you

empower your children to recognize false gospels in the

world around them. And on page 32, Dr. David D. Ireland

provides parents with a roadmap for developing racial sensitivity

and appreciation for other cultures in the article “Help

your kids love people of every color.”

For couples, you can learn seven bad habits to leave

behind in order to improve communication in your marriage

(page 18) and be inspired by Tim and Demi-Leigh Tebows’

shared mission of outreach (page 12).

Finally, if you’re one of the many families finding the burden

of the last year too much to bear, you can flip to page 22

to read about how ong>Focusong> on the Family offers personalized

help to those who call our office.

If you’d like to receive prayer over the phone or you want

to book a free one-time phone counselling consultation, I

encourage you to contact our care team at 1.800.661.9800

Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT. I pray you and your

family experience God’s hope, peace and joy as we head into

this summer season.

SHANNON-MAY PHOTOGRAPHY

president Jim Daly

chief operating officer Ken Windebank

publisher Steve Johnson

focus canada interim president Bob Cheatley

editorial director Sheila Seifert

managing editor Andrea Gutierrez

copy chief Scott DeNicola

contributing editors Ginger Kolbaba, Vance

Fry, Jennifer Lonas, Thomas Jeffries,

Marianne Hering and Jeff Masching

art director Brian Mellema

designer Anneka Jack

cover © @timtebow and @demitebow

media publishing director Kevin Shirin

editorial assistant Kat Bittner

print production Gail Wise

circulation Sandy Grivy

Thank you!

ong>Focusong> on the Family provides this magazine and

other resources through the generosity of friends

like you. ong>Focusong>OnTheFamily.ca/Donate

For a subscription, go to ong>Focusong>OnTheFamily.ca/

Magazine.

ong>Focusong> on the Family magazine June /July 2021, Vol. 6,

No. 3 ISSN 2471-5921, © 2021 ong>Focusong> on the Family. All

rights reserved. Published by ong>Focusong> on the Family, a

nonprofit organization recognized for tax-deductible

giving by the federal government. ong>Focusong> on the Family

is a federally registered trademark of ong>Focusong> on the

Family.

To notify us of an address change or to contact ong>Focusong>

on the Family: 800-232-6459; 8605 Explorer Dr.,

Colorado Springs, CO 80920-1051;

HELP@focusonthefamily.com.

Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are

from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version ® (ESV ® ).

Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry

of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text

Edition: 2016.

IMPORTANT NOTICE! By submitting letters and other

materials, you agree 1) they become the property of

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on the Family, its assigns and licensees, have been

granted the nonexclusive right to use and/or

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Send author submissions to

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Printed in the U.S.A. Paper manufactured by a mill that

practices sustainable forestry.

back cover: Pixel-Shot / Stock.adobe.com;

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Hacks & Facts

CLEVER IDEAS FOR SMARTER PARENTING

creating a camping

experience

When life gets hectic, my husband and I seek experiences with

our kids that help us take a step back and focus on at least one

important area, such as building family relationships.

So one summer we set up a tent in the backyard and spent

the evening stargazing. As we lay under the starlit sky, we

shared stories and memories. We learned more about each

other’s likes, dislikes and opinions.

For weeks after that night, my daughter expressed how much

fun she had. The experience provided time away from the

stressors of life and let us focus on being present with our kids.

—Autumn Shaffer

Bob Cheatley

4 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY June / July 2021

June / July 2021 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 5


HACKS & FACTS / STAYCATION

PICK A PARENT / HACKS & FACTS

Weekday

Fun

OUR STAYCATION ACTIVITIES

HAVE INCLUDED THE

FOLLOWING:

MONDAY MOVE DAY:

Enjoying an active outing, such

as swimming, skating, bowling

or tennis.

TUESDAY TREAT DAY:

Indulging in giant bowls of ice

cream with all the toppings or

going to the nail salon for manicures

and pedicures. (We have

three girls.)

Backyard Staycation

Our family set up a staycation in our backyard, complete with

tent, grill and entertainment: cornhole, Frisbee, croquet, wading

pool and sprinkler. Each of the kids contributed activity

ideas, such as water-balloon fights, scavenger hunts, tag football

and crafts that included making slime or origami.

My husband and I suggested outdoor movie nights with

popcorn, virtual tours of museums and educational venues

such as the Smithsonian, the Statue of Liberty, the Houston

Zoo, NASA and, of course, Disney World.

I realized our staycation had been a success when several

days later, my husband overheard our kids talking about the

fun time they had with all of us “doing stuff” together. Mission

accomplished!

—Nancy Koenig

‘Mommy Do!’

When our daughter wanted only

me to help her, I found it flattering,

like I was doing a good job in

this tricky mom business. But the

tables often turned, and then she

wanted only Daddy. We decided

on a firm approach that seemed

tough at first but actually worked

well. When my husband offered

to help her get dressed and she

demanded “Mommy do!” he would

calmly tell her that he was going to

help her, and that the family wasn’t

going to leave on our outing until

he finished. I kept to the same plan,

and our daughter learned not only

that we meant what we said, but

also that both of us were equally

able to lend her a hand. As with

many toddler battles, consistency

won out.

WEDNESDAY WALK DAY:

Exploring a local city near us or

finding a family-friendly trail to

hike.

—Julia Springman

THURSDAY TRY

NEW THINGS DAY:

Trying new foods, new recipes

or a new exhibit at the museum

or the zoo.

FRIDAY FISH DAY:

Traveling to the nearest waterway

to picnic and fish. On cold

weather days, we have been

known to hunt for bargains by

going shopping and snagging

some great sales.

—Noelle Copeland

Circle the globe with ong>Focusong>

on the Family’s free adventure

kit. ong>Focusong>OnTheFamily.

ca/WorldExplorers

Leader

for a Day

My wife and I gave our

three kids ownership of

planning a staycation

week. The leader for each

day would choose an

activity that we would do

together as a family. The

leader would also choose

what we’d make for dinner

and pick a restaurant to

order takeout for lunch.

We declared Saturday

to be the day we visited

a local park. We rented a

pontoon boat and spent

our time on the lake swimming,

relaxing and soaking

up the sun. Sunday was

our Sabbath. We attended

church together and then

had alone time to rest and

refresh our spirits.

MONKEY BUSINESS / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

© BONNINSTUDIO / STOCKSY UNITED

The Daddy

Storybook

To help my almost 3-year-old

daughter calm her emotions when

her daddy left for the day, we

created a storybook about how

Daddy loved her but sometimes

had to leave. It reminded her that

he would be back, and they would

have more special times together. It

also reassured her that it was OK to

miss him while he was gone.

At the end of the book, we printed

a picture of her father on felt (using

iron-on transfer paper) so she could

remove the “Daddy doll” and carry it

with her. This book helped her have

a connection to her daddy when he

was gone so that transitions away

from him became easier.

—Autumn Shaffer

Prayers for Papa

“When’s Daddy coming home?” That was the question my daughter

asked every night. She viewed her dad as being more fun than Mom

(especially with story time and bear hugs), but my husband worked

night shifts so she missed his presence at bedtime.

I showed my daughter how to talk to God and pray for Daddy. We

prayed nightly for the Lord to guide him in his work and to bless him

and bring him home safely.

The Mommy-Only Fan Club

—Angela Pratt

Our 15-month-old son quickly became a member of the Mommy-

Only Fan Club. He rarely wanted to hang out with Dad, and I couldn’t

complete any task without him wanting to be nearby or in my arms.

I gained freedom by finding a few special things he loves to do and

reserving them for Daddy-only time. For instance, my husband carries

my son around, “flying” him like a superhero.

—Jacqueline Sullivan

6

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021

—Rob Chagdes

June / July 2021 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 7


HACKS & FACTS / ACROSS THE MILES

ACROSS THE MILES / HACKS & FACTS

Digital Family

Game Night

Every Sunday evening, my family has a videoconference

game night with my brother and his

family. We take turns picking the game of the week,

choosing ones like Outburst, Pictionary or bingo

because they don’t have items that need to be passed

around. If the game requires dice, such as Yahtzee,

we utilize a dice app and screen-share so everyone

can see what is rolled. Even though the miles

separate us, this once-a-week get-together keeps us

connected. We look forward to it, and my girls count

the days until the next one.

—Elisabeth Ramon

LONG-DISTANCE CONNECTIONS

‘Happy Birthday’ Videos

Prior to my son’s second birthday, my parents

and siblings created short birthday videos. One of

my brothers sang a dramatic rendition of “Happy

Birthday.” Another brother included his dog in the

video he recorded. (Our son loves puppies!) My sister

and her husband sang a duet with silly costumes, and

my mom incorporated a birthday clip from our son’s

favorite TV show. My son asked to watch each video

several times throughout that week.

Coordinated

Copycatting

My family and I share activities with long-distance

relatives by agreeing to do the same activity at the

same time. For example, we prepare the same recipe

on a designated date or plant tomato seeds on the

same warm spring day. While doing the activity at

home, we know our relatives are doing the same

thing.

I ask my kids such questions as, “Which one of your

cousins will enjoy the recipe the most?” or “Do you

think your auntie’s tomato plant is blossoming?” Now

we can write or talk about our shared experiences.

Phone Call

Read-Alongs

—Whitney Sanchez

—Christina Nunes

My mom and I went through our personal libraries to

find books we both own. Now when my parents call,

the kids pick out a book from these selections, and

Grandpa or Grandma can read it to them. They tell

the children when to turn the page and comment on

the pictures like when they’re snuggled together in

an easy chair.

—Melinda Schaefer

MICHAEL PETTIGREW / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

SUKJAI PHOTO / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

A Toddler Name Game

To help our young daughter learn her relatives’ names,

we look at our family photo wall and play the Name

Game. We say someone’s name and point to his or

her picture. It’s very simple, but for toddlers, it’s loads

of fun. Now, when we video chat or visit, she knows

exactly who everyone is.

The Nana and

Grandpa Book

—Sara Kennedy

When our three sons were little, their grandparents

could afford to visit only once a year, so they took

lots of pictures. After one visit, they put their favorite

pics into a little photo book as a gift to our boys. They

added captions like “Nana and Grandpa are eating ice

cream with us. Yum!”

The Nana and Grandpa Book was our sons’ most

requested picture book at bedtime. Even the toddler

could “read” it aloud. It kept the memories we shared

fresh in their minds until the next visit.

Long-Distance

Dinner Dates

—LeeAnne McCoy as told to Teresa Olive

My children stay connected with their grandparents,

aunts, uncles and cousins through a video call over

dinner. I call one of the families, and the children

enjoy a visit with relatives while they eat. The cousins

show each other their toys, pets, new clothes and

anything else that comes to mind. The kids feel

comfortable enough to sing, dance and do other

silly antics to entertain one another. Now it’s less

awkward when the children get together for a holiday

or a vacation.

—Meg Ronin as told to Donna Tanksley

Virtual ‘Firsts’

To make out-of-town grandparents feel closer to our

children, we use video calling to allow them to be

involved in our kids’ “firsts”—such as the loss of a first

tooth or the first day of kindergarten. If grandparents

send our children a gift, our kids know they will wait

to open them during a video call. This gives them

practice learning to say, “Thank you.”

—Suzanne Gosselin

8

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021

June / July 2021 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 9


HACKS & FACTS / EMOTIONS

Feelings Into Words

Couples

Here are some questions I have used to help

my children put words to their emotions:

I used one of these questions

only after my kids had settled

down, but as they got the

hang of it, the questions could

also help in the heat of the

moment.

—Jim Still-Pepper

‘I’m Angry Now’

When our son, Jonathan, was 3, he would get so

angry when things didn’t go his way that his face

would turn bright red, and he would resort to

punching or kicking anyone or anything around him.

My husband and I taught him to use his words instead

and say, “I’m angry now.” We also let him know

that punching or yelling into a pillow was a more

appropriate way to express his anger. When he was

a little older, we hung a punching bag in the garage

when he had an urge to express his emotions in a

physical way.

—Jesse Neve

To learn more

about helping

kids handle their

emotions, go to

ong>Focusong>OnTheFamily.

ca/EmotionsChart.

The average 2- to 4-yearold

has at least one

brief tantrum a day.

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information, July 2020

The Six-Second Hug

One of my favorite cures for toddler tantrums is what

we call the six-second hug. I like to get down to my

3-year-old daughter’s level, make eye contact with

her, place my hand on her heart and ask her to take a

deep breath. Usually at that point, she is calm enough

for me to embrace her. I hold her in my arms until I

can physically feel her body relax. Then I’ll ask her to

try using her words to tell me what’s going on.

One evening my daughter was playing with her

toys and didn’t want to stop to get in the bath. She

was not happy with Mama! I scooped her up in my

arms, asked her to take a deep breath, and then cuddled

her in a six-second hug. I explained that the toys

would still be there for her in the morning, and that

bath time is fun, too. She gave out two little sniffs, and

then a positive “OK.”

—Brooke Burns

FOTF CREDIT / ANNEKA TK JACK

JEN LINTS PHOTOGRAPHY

treasure your

spouse’s differences

A marriage insight from Dr. Greg Smalley

MY FAMILY AND I went on a road

trip. I was driving, and my wife, Erin, was

next to me. I was thinking, Everything is

so nice. I’m with my family. We’re enjoying

the beauty of God’s creation around us

and don’t need to say anything. I was completely

content.

“Is something wrong?” Erin asked.

“You’re not saying anything.”

That took me by surprise. She thought

I was upset because we weren’t taking the

time to connect.

Nothing was wrong. Our communication

styles were different. But our

differences, even in communication, can

be good for our relationship.

To help when our differences irritate

me, I wrote a list of what I loved about my

wife. I thought about her personality, her

character and some of the ways we differ.

Now if we have communication misfires,

I can pull out that list and be reminded

that God created Erin as a wonderful person

with unique qualities. When I choose

to value those differences, I am better able

to talk about my irritations with an open

heart. •

Dr. Greg Smalley is the vice president of Marriage

and Family Formation at ong>Focusong> on the Family and the

author of 20 books. His most recent is Reconnected:

Moving from roommates to soulmates in marriage,

co-authored with his wife, Erin.

Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife, Erin

10

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021

June / July 2021 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 11


COUPLES / MINISTRY IN MARRIAGE

MINISTRY IN MARRIAGE / COUPLES

Tim and Demi-Leigh Tebow:

United in

Love and

Joined in

Ministry

Compassion for kids with

special needs brought

them together and shapes

their outreach as a couple

BY BENJAMIN HAWKINS

(PATTERN) STEPHANIE ZIEBER / STOCK.ADOBE.COM; © HANRI HUMAN OF @HANRIHUMANWEDDING

ONLY WEEKS AFTER

THEIR WEDDING, former

minor-league baseball outfielder

and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow

shined the shoes of young men with

special needs in Albania. And his

new wife, the 2017 Miss Universe

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, helped

young ladies apply their makeup.

The newlyweds tied the knot Jan.

20, 2020, in Demi’s homeland of

South Africa, and then celebrated

the occasion with an exotic trip to

the Maldive Islands. From there they

made their way to Albania in early

February—but not for an extended

honeymoon. Instead, they shined

shoes, applied makeup and danced

through the evening during Night to

Shine, a global event created by the

Tim Tebow Foundation to make people

who have disabilities feel like

kings and queens at a unique prom

night.

Afterward, the Tebows launched

the event in Paris and Rome before

heading back to the United States

to celebrate Night to Shine events

along the Eastern Seaboard.

“It was such a special way to start

our marriage,” Tim says.

A love

story begins

Demi’s sister, Franje, was born with

an underdeveloped cerebellum. As

Miss Universe, Demi often spoke

to the media about her sister and

about her love for people with special

needs. Tim heard their story and

invited Franje, Demi and their family

to the first-ever Night to Shine event

in South Africa.

Unfortunately, Franje was unable

to attend due to her health. But her

parents volunteered as chaperones,

and Demi communicated with Tim

to help arrange the evening.

Even after that Night to Shine

event came and went, its impact on

Tim and Demi lasted. Their phone

calls and messages continued. Even

before they met in person a few

months later, their conversations

drifted to matters of the heart.

“Look below the surface,” Tim says.

“When people look at me and Demi,

they say, ‘Well, he’s been an athlete.

She’s been in pageants.’ Do you

know how many times in the first

three months we talked about football

or baseball or pageants? I don’t

know if it came up.”

What drew the couple together

wasn’t their accomplishments but

rather their faith and their passion

to help those who are often marginalized.

Tim says, “God really paved

the way in our hearts, before we ever

met, to have that really big link with

special needs in our relationship.”


God broke

m yheart


Tim’s compassion for others began

more than a decade before he met

his wife. “God broke my heart when

I was 15,” he says.

Although Tim was born in the

Philippines to missionary parents,

Pam and Bob, his family moved back

to the United States when he was

3 years old. He didn’t return to the

Philippines until he was 15, when he

went on his first mission trip to the

country.

In a remote jungle, he met

Sherwin, a young boy born with a

deformity. “His feet were on backward,”

Tim says, “and his village

12

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021

June / July 2021 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 13


COUPLES / MINISTRY IN MARRIAGE

looked at him as cursed and insignificant.”

But before leaving the

island, Tim and two of his friends led

Sherwin to faith, showing him the

hope and purpose he had in Christ.

“Since that time,” Tim says, “I knew

a big calling in my life was to fight for

people who couldn’t fight for themselves.”

Indeed, Tim has returned to

the region many times to share the

Gospel, and he started the Tebow

CURE Hospital in Davao City there to

help boys and girls like Sherwin find

hope and healing. He’s also partnered

with his father’s organization, the

Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association,

to care for orphans in the area.

Ignited a

passion

Demi’s love for people with disabilities

began with the birth of her sister,

but her passion for helping others

received a jolt when she was nearly

kidnapped in 2017.

Driving to an event around 5:30

p.m. in Johannesburg, South Africa,

Demi noticed five men approaching

her car as she was stopped at a traffic

light, sandwiched between other

vehicles. The men surrounded her

car. Three were armed, and one of

them pointed a gun toward her head.

“It was traumatizing and totally

(PATTERN) STEPHANIE ZIEBER / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

terrifying,” Demi says, yet she didn’t

lose her cool under pressure. As

she saw the men approaching, she

unbuckled her seat belt, put her car

into neutral, pulled up the emergency

brake and got out of the car.

“Just take everything,” she said,

backing away from the vehicle.

But before she could get far, one of

the men grabbed her.

“Get in,” he said as he tried to force

her back into the car. “You’re going

with us.”

But resolved to fight, Demi

punched her assailant in the throat,

giving her a chance to flee.

“I was running up a big avenue in

6-inch heels and a beautiful dress,

with my hair and makeup all done

because I was on my way to an official

event as Miss South Africa,”

Demi recalls. “I passed about 30 to

40 car windows.” Not a single person

got out to help her.

Finally, a 19-year-old girl came to

her aid.

Demi says that reaction from

onlookers was probably more traumatizing

than being carjacked.

“I didn’t want to be one of the 30 to

40 cars that shut away and turned a

blind eye,” Demi says. “I [wanted] to

be that girl who opened her car door

and helped me.”

The trauma of that day inspired

Demi to keep helping people. In

particular, it ignited her desire to

fight for the helpless victims of

human trafficking. Tim has long

shared Demi’s concern for trafficked

victims.

“We believe human trafficking is

one of the greatest forms of evil in

the world today,” Tim says. >>>

The

Hope

Restored

marriage counselling

retreat

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1.833.999.HOPE (4673)

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14

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021


COUPLES / MINISTRY IN MARRIAGE

EXPECTATIONS / COUPLES

Intentionality

is key

As a couple with such deep passions

and large dreams, Tim and

Demi admit their need to keep their

faith and relationship a priority. For

this, they agree, intentionality

is key. “I think both of us are very

intentional with most of the things

that we choose to do in life,” Tim

says. They’re intentional about

prayer and Bible study. At times

they’ve sharpened each other’s

evangelism skills through role-play,

and they enjoy reading devotional

books together.

“That’s one of the things I love

[about Tim],” Demi says. “Reading

TIM TEBOW'S NEW

BOOK FOR CHILDREN

WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

devotions or books with him sparks

great conversations. . . . In your

everyday life, it’s so easy just to talk

about the things that have happened

instead of looking for that intentional

conversation.”

Also, Tim adds, they try to create

“moments and memories.” They plan

special times together—date nights,

days on the beach, trips to a concert.

Recalling one of these memories,

Demi shares how they turned

a speaking engagement into a

mini-getaway. They spent an extra

day in Savannah, Georgia, and

Charleston, South Carolina, places

where Demi had never been before.

“We made a great trip of it.”

And in Savannah, they couldn’t

help but stop in at a local coffee

TIM TEBOW GAVE A TEARFUL GOODBYE, Nov.

20, 2019, to his old dog Bronco, who had stayed by

his side since 2010. “One of the toughest goodbyes,”

Tim wrote in an Instagram post. “Wanted to make a

special tribute to the sweetest boy ever—thank you

for all the joy you brought and all the memories.”

Earlier this year, Tim shared another tribute to his

faithful dog that will bring joy to many children and

their families. Tim’s first children’s book, Bronco and

Friends: A Party to Remember, was released in January.

“What inspired me,” Tim says, “were thousands of kids

who are shamed, who are literally thrown out on the

street, who nobody wants because they’re born different,

because they look different, because they

have special needs.”

shop, Bitty & Beau’s, which is

devoted to a cause they both love

deeply—namely, celebrating and

supporting people with intellectual

and developmental difficulties.

How could they pass it up? After all,

at a Night to Shine event two years

earlier, their mutual concern for children

with special diagnoses brought

them together in the first place.

“It’s important to have a common

purpose,” Tim says, “to have deeper

goals that make you tick.” And this

passion to help people who are marginalized

or misunderstood has fed

their love for each other since the

day they met. •

Benjamin Hawkins is a freelance writer and

associate editor of The Pathway, the news

journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Find A Party to Remember

at ong>Focusong>OnTheFamily.ca/

Store.

The book shares the story of Bronco, a puppy with

a problem. Bronco is invited to a party but can’t

find a puzzle piece he was supposed to bring. As he

searches for it, he meets friends with their own problems,

including a flightless bird, a goat with allergies

and a blundering bunny. They help Bronco find his

puzzle piece and arrive at the party, surprised to discover

they’re the guests of honor.

Tebow says he hopes children who read the book

“realize that they’re loved, they’re special and . . . they

were made on purpose.”

“They’re not a mistake,” he adds. “They’re created in

love, for love, by love—and God has a great plan for

their lives.”

—BH

(PATTERN) STEPHANIE ZIEBER / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

© JOVO JOVANOVIC / STOCKSY UNITED

finding my

husband’s

spiritual

leadership

I had to get out of

the way to see how

he was already

discipling our kids

BY DEB WEAKLY

LISTEN NOW!

Deb Weakly and others offer

parenting insights as they

discuss the unique challenges of

motherhood.

ong>Focusong>OnTheFamily.ca/Radio

BEFORE BECOMING A

CHRISTIAN, I made some big

mistakes, and I was terrified my children

would do the same. Desperate

to become the perfect parent and

pop out little disciples for Jesus, I

read a lot of books in search of the

right formula.

In the process, I saw areas where

I was failing. I also became convinced

there were areas in which my husband,

Randy, wasn’t leading the way

he should. I would then proceed to

tell him what I thought he should

be doing to lead our family. (As you

can imagine, these discussions were

about as welcome as a porcupine at

a balloon toss.)

Thankfully, God began showing

me that my husband was doing a

great job as the spiritual leader of

our home. Randy took us to church

each Sunday and faithfully tithed.

Many weekends he and our kids

helped single moms and widows,

and he prayed with us at mealtimes

and before bed. In other words, my

husband was leading us his way,

not mine.

That’s when I finally got out of his

way and let him lead.

In addition, I began praying for

my husband and asking God how

I could become a better helper. God

answered this prayer by inspiring

me with fun ideas. I found simple

devotions that I printed and put in

a jar with candy. After dinner, we

each enjoyed a piece of candy while

Randy read a devotion he drew from

the jar. I also began cooking a big

breakfast on Sunday mornings that

set the stage for a fun Bible-reading

time. Randy would use different

voices to make the Bible come alive.

The kids loved it and began loving

the Word of God through it.

When I stopped fussing at Randy,

he began to lead more confidently.

While my criticism had caused him

to feel defeated, my support allowed

him to step more fully into his calling

as a godly father. It also opened

the way for us to create the Christcentered

home we both wanted. •

Deb Weakly is a co-founder of Help Club

for Moms and is a contributing writer for the

organization’s book series.

16

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021

June / July 2021 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 17


COUPLES / COMMUNICATION

COMMUNICATION / COUPLES

7 ways to

bad habit

Boot these bad

habits for better

communication

BY JILL SAVAGE

THE GAMES WERE STILL SIT-

TING THERE. As I was cleaning up

after a family gathering, I had put a couple

of board games on the bottom step of the

staircase. I assumed my husband would

put them away on one of his many trips

upstairs.

Except he didn’t. I almost made a snide

comment that he was blind and I was the

only one who ever saw things on the stairs.

Except I didn’t. Instead, as he was once

again heading upstairs, I said, “Honey,

would you please grab those games and

put them away?”

“Yep,” he responded. Then he tucked the

games under his arm.

It hasn’t always been that way—starting

to say something one way and then catching

myself and replacing those words with

something better. In marriage, our thinking,

our assumptions and how we talk to

our spouses can make a little misunderstanding

a big problem.

Mark and I have tried to stop the unhealthy

communication patterns that hurt

our relationship and have replaced them

with relational patterns that strengthen

our marriage. You can, too. Here are seven

areas that we can work on improving daily:

bad habit

a hint or complaint

WHEN we give our spouse hints about tasks we

want them to do, it’s as though we’re scared to

ask for what we want. When we complain, it’s a

negative way to convey what we desire. Hinting

and complaining are not forms of healthy communication.

They require the other person to be

a mind reader.

Healthier habit: I caught myself before I

started hinting or complaining about the games

on the stairs and chose healthier communication.

I voiced what I needed. Clearly. Kindly. And

without attitude.

bad habit

false meaning

TOO OFTEN spouses assign meaning—the

wrong meaning—to a

partner’s actions. In my old way of

thinking, I would have concluded

that Mark was intentionally ignoring

the games on the stairs and therefore

ignoring my needs. The truth was that

he had other thoughts on his mind

and didn’t even see the games. Once

I asked him to take them upstairs, he

was happy to do so.

Mark used to wrongly assign meaning

to my emotional steadiness

because I rarely cry or have emotional

ups and downs. He told himself that

I was strong and independent and I

didn’t need him. That wasn’t true, but

his perception didn’t change until we

were able to explore those thoughts in

marriage counseling.

Healthier habit: Believe the best

about your spouse. I now give Mark the

benefit of the doubt and don’t interpret

his action as a slight against me.

I’ve learned that his behavior is rarely a

reaction to what I think is obvious (like

games sitting on the bottom step).

my way

AS HUMANS, we naturally think our way is the right

way, so we tend to impose it on others. We want

our spouses to think and do things the way we do.

However, they see the world through a different lens,

and make decisions and conclusions differently.

This is why God says, “The two shall become one

flesh” (Matthew 19:5). He knows that two perspectives

from two different ways of thinking bring more

balance. He knows we’re better when we respect

each other and work together.

Healthier habit: I’ve had to stop thinking of my

husband’s way of doing things as “wrong” and consider

it an alternate way of doing things. I’ve also

had to resist the urge to make my way the only way.

I started this transition with how we load the dishwasher.

Sure, maybe I fit in three more dishes if it’s

loaded my way, but efficiency isn’t worth the strain

on my marriage.

bad habit

sarcasm

THE GOAL of sarcasm is to offer a put-down in

a socially acceptable way so we don’t have to be

truthful about what we’re thinking or feeling. It’s a

way to communicate indirectly rather than directly,

to protect ourselves from the pain that comes with

vulnerability.

Healthier habit: I now try to communicate my

thoughts, hurts or pain kindly and directly to Mark

and allow myself to be vulnerable. >>>

18

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021

June / July 2021 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 19


COUPLES / COMMUNICATION

bad habit

Faith & Inspiration

bad habit

reactive listening

MOST OF US could stand to improve our listening skills.

Sometimes we take our turn as the listener only to continue

arguing or defending our ideas. This knee-jerk

reaction doesn’t create a safe place for sharing openly

or help our spouses feel heard. It moves us too quickly

from dialogue to debate.

Healthier habit: I listen to understand. Rather than

offering my thoughts right away, I reflect on Mark’s comment

with, “What I hear you saying is ______________.

Is that right?” I’ve learned I don’t have to agree with

Mark to let him know I’ve heard him. Not only does this

keep our conversation from eroding into an argument,

but it also deepens our intimacy if we let our spouses

know we’ve heard their hearts and their concerns before

ever sharing ours.

bad habit

tone and body language

TOO OFTEN we put our spouses on defense simply by

how we say something. This primes the pump for conflict

that doesn’t need to happen. Our tone of voice

can convey disgust, disrespect, indifference, contempt,

rejection or dismissal. It’s a passive-aggressive way to

communicate. The same thing happens with a long sigh,

rolling our eyes or crossing our arms.

Healthier habit: I try to remain aware of the intentional

and unintentional messages I send through my

tone and body language. When I take a couple of deep

breaths before responding and remember my husband’s

tender heart, my responses are kinder and more respectful.

Sometimes it’s easier to be kind when I hold my

husband’s hand before talking.

the silent

treatment

PUNISHMENT, control and

manipulation have no place in

a healthy marriage. The silent

treatment is a form of all three. We

do this by withholding emotional

intimacy and connection. It’s an

underhanded way to inflict pain

on someone who has caused us

pain.

Healthier habit: Forgive. This

is initially between me and God.

When I choose to forgive, I put the

hurt in God’s hands and let it go.

Then if I feel the need to address

the problem with my husband, I

can talk to him with a humble heart,

sharing how he has hurt me. •

Jill Savage is an author, speaker and marriage

coach. She and her husband, Mark, are the

authors of No More Perfect Marriages.

LISTEN NOW!

Get helpful insights as Mark and

Jill Savage openly discuss their

marital struggles and how you can

avoid making the same mistakes.

ong>Focusong>OnTheFamily.ca/Radio

CREDIT TK

CREDIT TOMERTU TK / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

choosing redemption

over self-sufficiency

A spiritual insight from ong>Focusong>

on the Family leadership

BY MIKE BOSSERT

I’LL NEVER FORGET

HOW GOD DREW ME TO

HIMSELF. You see, I grew up as a

people pleaser. The church I attended

as a teen was works based, which fit

my task-oriented personality well.

I’d heard the Gospel—that Jesus

had paid for my failures with His

life (John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8)—

but it hadn’t resonated with me. My

life in high school revolved around

sports, and I planned to attend a

Division 1 college on scholarship.

I didn’t want to follow God at that

time because I thought I would lose

my identity. So I chose to do life

without Jesus.

But God broke through my selfsufficiency

when I encountered the

Gospel again in Romans 5:7-8: “One

will scarcely die for a righteous

person—though perhaps for a good

person one would dare even to die—

but God shows his love for us in that

while we were still sinners, Christ

died for us.”

From these verses, I began to

understand what Christ’s death and,

more importantly, His resurrection

meant. That’s when I committed to

following Jesus. What I thought

I would have to give up was nothing

compared to what God had given

up in sending His Son to die for

me. Then I learned that God didn’t

want to change how He’d made me

but would use me—my talents and

gifts—for His purposes.

This eye-opening moment happened

many years ago. And while

God did begin to change me, it didn’t

happen in the way I’d anticipated.

My honest desire to please God grew,

and my actions soon stemmed from

that desire—not from a works-based

checklist.

Remembering my testimony helps

refresh my faith and lead me back to

what is important: my relationship

with God and my ongoing desire to

live according to His plan.

Do you need to be refreshed

today? Think about the moment

you chose to become a follower of

Christ. •

Mike Bossert is the executive director of the

Relationship Services division at ong>Focusong> on

the Family. Learn more about Relationship

Services and their team of Family Help

Specialists on page 22.

20

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021

June / July 2021 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 21


FAITH & INSPIRATION / MINISTRY HIGHLIGHT

Encounters

WITH

Jesus

22

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

Jaycie, Family Help Specialst

A perso n al touch

FOR FAMILIES

IN SEARCH OF

ANSWERS

June / July 2021

Family help

specialists serve on

the ministry’s front

lines, providing a

listening ear and

timely assistance

to hurting families

BY SCOTT JOHNSON

PHOTOS BY ANNEKA JACK

Tim, Family Help Specialst

Perla, Family Help Specialst

(PHONE) ANGIZZZ / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

“WE WERE STUNNED to

learn of a heartbreaking situation

involving our son. We weren’t sure

where to turn.”

That’s how Carrie describes the

desperate circumstances she and her

husband were facing that led her to

call ong>Focusong> on the Family for help.

“The woman who spoke with me

was caring and compassionate,”

Carrie says. “She listened attentively

and reassured me that we’re not

alone; other families find themselves

walking the same path we’re now on.”

The ong>Focusong> staff member recommended

several resources and made

arrangements to send them. “The

wonderful lady . . . helped set up

a return call with one of [ong>Focusong> on

the Family’s] counselors,” Carrie

explains. “Finally, she prayed a

heartfelt, loving prayer for us that

calmed my soul. I can’t describe

the relief I felt after that phone

conversation.

ong>Focusong> on the Family provided a

service we never dreamed we would

need.”

Carrie’s story is just one of thousands

that play out every month in

ong>Focusong> on the Family’s Relationship

Services Department. The staff

member who spoke with Carrie is

part of a dedicated team whose job

title says it all: family help specialists.

CREDIT TK

Building relationships

When ong>Focusong> on the Family’s radio

broadcast launched in 1977, it

quickly became apparent that there

was a huge need for follow-up interaction

with the audience. Listeners

who heard a trusted, compassionate

voice over the airwaves contacted

the ministry with their own questions

and prayer requests. Letters

and phone calls began pouring in.

Over the years, various types of

internet communication have supplemented

the letters and phone

calls. But the ministry has always

desired to be more than just a radio

program or words on a page or

screen. ong>Focusong> on the Family’s connection

with our audience is a

two-way street.

Mike Bossert, executive director of

Relationship Services, says there’s a

common characteristic among the

department’s staff members. “They

have pastoral hearts,” Mike explains.

While most of the ministry’s family

help specialists aren’t pastors, he

says that they all “have a passion

and compassion to care for those

who are hurting and in need of a

comforting encounter.”

The department name—Relationship

Services—summarizes the

mission. “We serve a relational God,”

Mike says. “Our team wants others

to know and understand the comfort

provided by and through the

Holy Spirit. So, our specialists work

to build relationships with all who

contact ong>Focusong>—even if it’s just a onetime

encounter.”

Handling it all

The ministry’s family help specialists

constantly prepare for the wide

range of questions that come their

way. Any given phone call, email

or other contact could be a simple

request for information about the

book featured on the broadcast or

Immerse yourself in

creatively imagined

backstories of the early

followers of Christ!

Journey to first century

Galilee with a novel that

builds on the drama of

the critically acclaimed

TV series.

order online at

shop.focusonthefamily.ca

or call 1.800.661.9800


FAITH & INSPIRATION / MINISTRY HIGHLIGHT

FaiThtraIninG

fun

for kids! ^

a desperate plea from someone

whose life just shattered. Maybe it’s

a mom struggling with a toddler’s

tantrums; a man reeling from a terminal

diagnosis who needs prayer;

a marriage rocked by infidelity; a

young person feeling hopeless and

wondering if there’s any reason to

keep living. The list goes on and on.

Of course, handling all of this

isn’t easy; listening to others’ pain

takes a toll on the human heart.

That’s one reason why the ministry’s

Counseling Department works

closely with the family help specialists

to develop healthy methods of

processing difficult conversations.

For example, a licensed counselor

conducts a debriefing session for

any staffer who interacts with someone

contemplating suicide. Such

callers are routed to counselors as

quickly as possible, and proactive

follow-up care is provided for the

ong>Focusong> employee.

A heart for others

Each day—and each contact—is

unique for family help specialists.

But it’s easy to see why, from the very

earliest days of ong>Focusong>, the organization’s

leadership has often said that

FAMILY HELP SPECIALISTS

TheRightReso urces

I enjoy calls from young parents

looking for resources—I love problemsolving.

I am always amazed that

ong>Focusong> has an article or broadcast for

almost any topic, so finding just the

right resource, praying with them, and

equipping them with all we can offer

feels to me like a job well done.

—Jenifer

Relationship Services is “the heart of

the ministry.”

That servant’s heart shines

brightly for families like Carrie’s. As

she puts it: “While we are still struggling

with the matter concerning

our son, we’ve been so encouraged

by the knowledge that ong>Focusong> was

available and willing to help us at a

very dark time in our lives. We will

always be grateful, and we pray that

God will continue to bless everyone

who works in your wonderful

ministry.” •

Scott Johnson is a senior writer in the Ministry

Values division at ong>Focusong> on the Family.

Here to

Help You

Whether it’s a big or small question,

our team is ready to help by

phone, email or even a physical letter!

Every day our team provides

recommendations for resources,

listens and prays for those going

through a difficult time, points people

to online articles or downloads,

and connects those in need of further

help with our counseling team.

Our frontline team works with

every department to stay up to

date on new resources, events, free

offers and more so they can get you

the best answer to your question.

This team is a hub of knowledge

and they are eager to help everyone

who contacts the ministry—and if

they don’t know the answer, they’ll

make sure to find out.

When you contact ong>Focusong> on the

Family Canada, we want you to

have the best experience possible.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our

team today!

^

24

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021

True Encouragement

I wanted to work at ong>Focusong> on the Family

because I enjoy serving others, and

I love, love, love praying for people!

Recently a gentleman called and when

I said my name he replied, “Natalie, you

may not remember me, but I remember

you. I just want to say thank you for

praying for me a few months ago—you

have no idea how much it helped me.”

That call really encouraged me.

—Natalie

Genuine Concern

One special young lady found us when

she searched the internet for counseling

help for an unplanned pregnancy.

She felt torn between the father of the

baby (who wanted her to abort) and

the reality that there was a life growing

inside her. I was able to share about

the love of Christ, and then looked up

a pregnancy center in her city that she

agreed to visit after speaking with one

of our counselors. She said she felt like

she called a caring place with people

who were genuinely concerned about

her and her baby’s well-being.

—Tami

CREDIT TK

Connect With Us

If you want to speak with our team at ong>Focusong> on

the Family Canada, call 1-800-661-9800

weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time,

or email questions@fotf.ca.

AGES

8-12

TEEN

GIRLS

AGES

3-7

Subscribe to our kids’ magazines at

Shop.ong>Focusong>OnTheFamily.ca/Magazines

or call 1.800.661.9800


FAITH & INSPIRATION / FATHERHOOD

FATHERHOOD / FAITH & INSPIRATION

“ Behol d , children are a heritage from the Lord,

the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows

in the hand of a warrior are the children of

one


s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his

q u i ve r w i th the m !

the reluctant dad

A father finds reassurance that

children are always a blessing

BY THOMAS JEFFRIES

WE CAN DO THIS. We’ll figure

it out.

At least that’s how Greg tried to

reassure himself when he learned

that his wife, Fonda, was expecting

their third child. But facing reality,

Greg was worried. How would

they handle raising three kids in a

two-bedroom apartment?

Once little Henry arrived, Greg

couldn’t deny that his son was a gift

from God. Sure, finances were tight,

but life was good for the next several

months, maybe a year . . . until

it wasn’t. That’s when Fonda realized

she was pregnant again, and this

time Greg panicked.

Terrified

Greg and Fonda were married at

age 20 in Greg’s mother’s backyard.

Their reception was a potluck. They

were extremely broke, Greg says, and

extremely proud of how inexpensive

the wedding was.

The couple worked multiple jobs,

ate lots of ramen, and every morning

Fonda prayed that the car would not

only start but also keep running. The

thought of having children terrified

them.

“We were so broke that pregnancy

was a real fear,” Greg says. “Our parents

would remind us what a bad

idea having kids would be.”

The couple waited six years to

have their first, followed closely by

their second. Greg got a better job,

but it didn’t make their apartment

any larger.

Disheartened

If Fonda’s third pregnancy was a surprise,

the fourth was a bombshell.

“Kid No. 4 was Greg’s breaking

point,” Fonda says. “It’s not that he

didn’t want her. It was the influence

of our culture—one boy, one girl, no

more kids—and the negativity from

both our parents, combined with the

sky-high cost of living.”

Greg’s idea of the right way to

© ROB AND JULIA CAMPBELL / STOCKSY UNITED

provide for his family wasn’t panning

out, and he felt like a failure. He

knows it sounds bizarre—his family

had food and shelter and the basic

necessities of life, but it still wasn’t

enough. Expecting a fourth child, he

felt like they had entirely blown it.

Greg needed someone who could

relate—or at least listen—to his

anguish. Someone other than Fonda.

He recalled that ong>Focusong> on the Family

offered a complimentary counseling

consultation, so he slipped off on his

own to place the call.

“I cried on the phone to a man

I will never meet,” Greg says. “I

expressed my shame at not being

able to provide what I considered

to be a minimum standard for my

children.”

The counselor’s name was Geremy,

and he was taken aback by Greg’s

remorse. Greg, Geremy insisted, was

a success by almost any standard.

Maybe he didn’t enroll his kids in

every sport or buy them all the latest

gear, but he showered them with

affection and availability. Isn’t that

what every child remembers long

after batteries are dead and gadgets

discarded?

“[Geremy] said, ‘The first thing you

need to realize is that kids are always

a blessing. Always. They’re gifts from

God.’ And the second thing he said

was, ‘Kids value relationships, not

stuff.’ ”

Encouraged

Greg already knew, already believed,

everything Geremy said, but hearing

it out loud made all the difference.

His kids were loved and cared for.

The couple’s choice to welcome each

new blessing would not doom them

to a life of poverty.

Geremy encouraged Greg to post

verses around their home highlighting

God’s promises about offspring,

and to list the things they treasured

about each child. He assured Greg

that the problem wasn’t with him,

but with a culture that says 1.9

children is ideal, and anything

more than three is What were you

thinking?

Greg told Fonda what Geremy said,

and two burdens were lifted that day.

” —Psalm 127:3-5 WE'RE HERE TO HELP

The counselor also planted the idea

of relocating to someplace with

more affordable housing. The couple

left California when their fourth was

a toddler; by the time No. 5 arrived,

they’d purchased their first house.

That’s right. Greg and Fonda

stopped listening to what the culture

says about the size of their

family. They now have seven blessings—four

boys and three girls—and

remain open to more. Greg describes

life in their home as organized chaos

and constant mayhem, yet it’s also a

lot of fun, and no one is ever lonely.

“We tell our kids that they are our

special treasure from God,” Greg

says. “Our home is filled with joy.” •

If you’re struggling as a parent,

ong>Focusong> on the Family Canada

offers a one-time, complimentary

consultation from one of our

registered counselors. Call 1-800-

661-9800 weekdays between 8 a.m.

and 4 p.m. Pacific time.

26

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021

June / July 2021 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 27


FAITH & INSPIRATION / DISCERNMENT

DISCERNMENT / FAITH & INSPIRATION

an online world

of counterfeit

Christianity

Are you teaching your kids

to recognize false gospels?

BY ALISA CHILDERS

ILLUSTRATIONS BY MATT CHINWORTH

WHEN MY DAUGHTER

WAS BORN, it seemed as if I

spent all of my intellectual energy

learning how to keep this new

human alive. I worried about poisoning

her with BPAs or corrupting

her brand-new digestive tract with

honey or shellfish. There seemed to

be danger everywhere. And then she

became mobile. From glass-topped

tables to uncovered light sockets,

there was no end to the threats.

But the parenting challenges were

just beginning. Just as there were

pitfalls to her physical health, spiritual

dangers lurked around every

corner. As she grew and interacted

with our culture through media and

the internet, my husband and I witnessed

the many ways in which the

ideas of our culture run contrary to

our Christian worldview.

Sometimes these messages even

come from Christian sources. One

day I found my sweet 7-year-old

daughter sitting cross-legged on

the living room floor with her eyes

closed, index fingers pinched against

her thumbs, and chanting, “Omm.”

Turns out a teacher at her

Christian school had introduced

students to Transcendental

Meditation, which I learned the

administration had not approved.

The incident reminded me again

how easily our kids absorb the ideas

around them without stopping to

think about whether those beliefs

are true.

Progress?

As parents, we must be ever vigilant

to identify the messages being

marketed to our children, especially

in matters of spirituality. In fact,

Christians have always had to watch

out for false teachings.

For centuries, counterfeit versions

of Christianity have risen up

to compete for the loyalty of Christ

followers. From the “circumcision

party” (Galatians 2:12) to Gnosticism

to Arianism, Christians have had

to “contend for the faith that was

once for all delivered to the saints”

(Jude 3). Christians have always had

to prepare their children to interact

with the erroneous ideas of their

time. Now it’s our turn.

There’s a growing movement

within the church that is leading

many Christians away from biblical

beliefs. This “progressive” Christianity

views the Bible as primarily a human

book rather than the inspired and

authoritative Word of God. It seduces

believers with notions of tolerance,

love and a toned-down Jesus who

would never question your sexual

ethics or challenge you to deny yourself.

Justification by faith in the

saving work of Christ is replaced

with activism and social justice.

Are your kids just one click away

from a world of false gospels? Here are

four ways to help build their immunity

against progressive Christianity:

1. Don’t let YouTube

disciple your kids.

My kids wait with breathless excitement

for their favorite YouTube celebs

to “drop” their new videos each week.

They look up to, admire and sometimes

even imitate these celebrities.

But many social media stars

preach a false gospel. The Good

Mythical Morning YouTube channel

made headlines when the creators

recorded their “deconstruction

stories” for their Ear Biscuits podcast.

Their testimonies of leaving

Christianity for a type of “hopeful

agnosticism” sent shock waves of

doubt through Christian youth

groups. Kids who admired the comedy

duo now questioned their own

beliefs. Like many others, YouTubers

Rhett and Link went through a progressive

Christianity phase before

exiting the faith.

I understand heroes. When I was a

kid, I wore my American-flag leotard

and ran around the backyard smiling

and waving because I wanted

to be Mary Lou Retton in the 1984

Olympics. But I never had constant

online access to my hero. And if I

had a question about life, I asked my

parents. They were the “experts” I

called on to help me navigate everything

from homework to friends to

faith to sex. They discipled me well.

Today, we have to be even more

vigilant as parents. Stay involved in

your kids’ lives. Do your homework

and be willing to help them find the

answers to their questions. If we

don’t disciple our kids, YouTube is

there to do the job.

2. Expose your

kids to bad ideas.

I’m not suggesting we ban everything

that can’t be found on

Christian TV. No, rather than shielding

our kids from the outside world,

we must teach them to navigate it.

This means allowing exposure to

age-appropriate ideas and worldviews

that don’t line up with our

own. I drill into my kids’ heads that

everything they take in from media—

especially when it’s marketed as

“Christian”—should pass through

their discernment filters. And we

discuss bad ideas together. I ask my

kids, “What is the worldview of this

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FAITH & INSPIRATION / DISCERNMENT

Kids & Teens

show?” “What specific message are

they communicating today?” “What

assumptions do they make about

morality?” and “How do these ideas

line up with Scripture?”

Acquainting our kids with bad ideas

will help them know how to stand

firm in the truth. When my 11-yearold

daughter and I saw Frozen II, she

leaned over after five minutes and

whispered, “Ugh. Pantheism?”

Celebrate these little victories and

continue to keep your guard up.

3. Give your kids a robust

view of Scripture.

Author Rachel Held Evans recalled

the simplistic view of Scripture

she grasped as a child, and the

subsequent disillusionment she

experienced as she matured. After

realizing the worldwide consequences

of the Flood in Genesis

and the horror of the Canaanite

conquest, she wrote, “If God was

supposed to be the hero of the story,

then why did God behave like a

villain?” This led her to see Scripture

not as God’s inspired and authoritative

Word, but as a primarily

human—and flawed—book.

How shocking it would be for a

teenager to read the account of

Noah’s ark for the first time after

spending years coloring cartoons

of happy animals in a giant floating

zoo. What if this narrative had been

taught in the context of God’s justice

and holiness, humanity’s rebellion

against God, and God’s righteous

indignation toward our sin? What if

we introduced our kids early on to

the biblical framework within which

to understand their own sinfulness

and need of redemption?

4. Teach your kids the

beauty of the Cross.

We live in a culture that constantly

preaches that humans are inherently

good. “Follow your heart,” we hear.

“Look inside yourself.” These clichés

may prop up a sense of human

autonomy, but they can’t explain the

LISTEN NOW!

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discusses the facts about Jesus

that your child needs to know.

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reality of human depravity. Many

have “followed their hearts” right

into the false gospel of a feelingsbased

approach to morality and

spirituality. Talk with your children

about tough concepts that are difficult

to comprehend but are crucial

to understanding the Gospel.

If children don’t understand how

deeply sinful they are—and how perfectly

holy God is—the idea that He

required the sacrifice of His Son to

reconcile humanity to himself would

seem horrific. Help your kids understand

Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross by

talking about our sinful nature and

God’s holiness. Jesus bore our sin

and died in our place. He conquered

death through His resurrection, and

we get to be free from sin’s hold on us.

Discipleship, discernment and an

early introduction of both false and

true doctrines help build our kids’

spiritual awareness of bad theology.

This ability to recognize falsehoods

will serve them well throughout

life, helping them avoid the empty

promises of today’s twisted offshoots

of Christianity. •

Alisa Childers is the author of Another Gospel?

A lifelong Christian seeks truth in response to

progressive Christianity. Formerly a member of

the music group ZOEgirl, Alisa is now a popular

speaker at Christian worldview conferences.

CREDIT TK

CREDIT TK

COOPER NEILL / STRINGER VIA GETTY IMAGES

going

off script

A parenting insight

from Alex Kendrick

WHEN MY KIDS WERE LITTLE, they

were enamored with how Daddy was on the big

screen and television. I set aside time to talk

to them, especially when they were younger,

about my roles because sometimes I was “married”

to someone else who was playing my wife

in the movie.

I explained what Daddy was doing: telling a

story that would cause people to think about

where they stood with the Lord and where they

stood in their marriage relationships. I made

sure they knew the role I was playing wasn’t

real, but the message was real. And then I didn’t

do anything in the movie that I wouldn’t have

done in real life. I honored my real-life marriage

by the way I portrayed married men.

But they also saw what I was doing at home.

They saw me when I was having my quiet time,

when I was praying with my wife and how we

prayed together as a family and at bedtime. They

had to see those actions as much as, or more

than, they saw me making movies. Through my

actions, they saw what was important to me. •

Alex Kendrick played Adam Mitchell in Courageous, a film

he wrote with his brother Stephen. This movie is scheduled

to be rereleased this year with additional scenes and a

surprise ending.

Alex with his son, Caleb, at

a movie premiere

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ADAPTABILITY / KIDS & TEENS

Route 316 is a road map for developing racial

sensitivity and appreciation for other cultures

BY DR. DAVID D. IRELAND

ILLUSTRATIONS BY BRIAN MELLEMA

HOW DO YOU TEACH

YOUR KIDS TO LOVE

PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT

RACES? This undertaking may

seem daunting given our nation’s

racial polarity. But it can be done

and done well.

After all, teaching your kids to

love racial diversity is like teaching

them other enduring values, such

as kindness, honesty and generosity.

It doesn’t “just happen,” but with

intentionality and time, you can get

to where you want to go.

This journey is kind of like going

on a road trip. Before you pack the

SUV and start driving, you map

the trip, pick interesting rest stops

along the way and talk about the fun

awaiting you at your destination.

Is it a lot of work? Yes. But the destination

is so worth it.

To develop culturally competent

kids, be intentional and plan a family

journey down something I like to

call Route 316, named in honor of

John 3:16.

Martin Luther referred to John 3:16

as “the heart of the Bible.” It was the

North Star to Nicodemus—a firstcentury

Jewish rabbi who had lost

his way in matters of faith. When

he came to Jesus under the canopy

of night in search of meaning, our

Savior said to him, “For God so loved

the world, that he gave his only Son,

that whoever believes in him should

not perish but have eternal life.”

This centerpiece of their conversation

proved pivotal. Nicodemus

gained a greater understanding of

how to live and love. He had a direction

for how to move forward.

If you want to help your children

develop into fully devoted followers

of Jesus who genuinely love all races

of people, plan a road trip down

Route 316. And to make sure the

experience is truly life-changing for

your family, apply these four easyto-follow

travel tips:

1. Recognize

God’s blessings

Racial, cultural and ethnic diversity

is God’s idea. It’s not an accident

that as human beings, we need to

tolerate differences and not isolate

our kids out of fear. Nor should we

hide behind the “I don’t see color”

false narrative or attempt to live

monoracial lives.

God is not color-blind. He sees

color. Jesus declared that God loved

the world. He intentionally designed

the world to showcase a diversity of

race, culture and ethnicity. This is

God’s preference, and it’s intentional.

John 3:16 is such a familiar verse

that we forget how Nicodemus must

have felt when introduced to it. The

typical first-century Jew was programmed

to think of God as loving

only Israel, since rabbis never taught

that God loved the world.

To introduce the concept that

God’s love included everybody everywhere

was revolutionary. Nicodemus

was being challenged. God’s love

was not exclusive, as Nicodemus

had been taught. God’s love was

inclusive.

Like Nicodemus, each of us

must widen our social circles to

include the spectrum of people God

includes in His family. This reality of

God’s love being generous enough

to embrace all of humankind was

introduced by Jesus. We have His

blessings when we embark on this

journey.

2. Make the journey fun

I grew up in a home that valued education.

My parents, especially my

mother, created an environment

where her four Ireland kids attached

a high price, heavy premium and

hefty prize to a good education.

When my daughter Danielle was

born, my wife, Marlinda, and I had a

tough time teaching her how to read.

I called Mom for some tips. After all,

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ADAPTABILITY / KIDS & TEENS

she was an educator specializing

in early childhood education, and

a senior consultant for the city of

New York, tasked with evaluating

the city’s preschool and early educational

programs.

Mom gave us a simple piece of

advice: “Dave, if you create an environment

where reading is fun,

Danielle will come to love and value

reading.”

I followed her suggestion. I began

reading to Danielle every night after

work, changing my voice inflections

to impersonate the characters in the

story. I laughed when they laughed,

mimicked crying when they cried

and rolled on the carpet when they

did a happy dance. In a short time,

my little girl started reading. Her

appetite for books became voracious.

The same thing happened when

her sister, Jessica, came along. By

making the process fun, a love of

books and learning was instilled in

our daughters’ hearts. Three decades

later, Danielle and Jessica still maintain

a healthy appetite for books.

My wife and I took the same

approach when it came to racial and

ethnic diversity. We taught our kids

that “different” isn’t bad—in fact,

it’s fun and interesting. Marlinda

and I established enjoyable, simple

rituals, such as eating at different

ethnic restaurants, frequently enjoying

the dishes of different cultures,

including Italian, Chinese, Jamaican,

Peruvian and others.

We read books to our kids about

different parts of the world—exploring

their cultures, habits, beliefs and

music. Then we went on social outings

to museums and theatrical

plays that showcased the contributions

that various cultures and racial

groups made to society. Today it’s

even possible to discover multicultural

experiences on the internet,

which you can explore together.

Give your children the gift of valuing

diversity by learning about other

cultures and ethnicities in a fun way.

It will help your family move forward

in your journey down Route 316.

3. Remember this is

also your journey

You may have heard that “the best

sermon is a lived sermon.” This is

one of my go-to statements. Sadly,

most of our verbal coaching with our

kids will fall on deaf ears without the

validation that modeling brings.

Right before a father tucked his

son into bed, the 7-year-old prayed

about school, and for his friends

and grandparents. But then he said,

“Dear God, I bet it is very hard for You

to love everybody in the whole world.

There are only four people in our

family, and I can never do it.”

What this boy craved was a

model—someone who could coach

him on how to live and love amid the

tensions of human relationships. To

teach your kids the value of diversity,

you must first value it. Until your

children see people of other races

join your social circle, valuing diversity

will remain a nebulous concept.

Just because we check yes to the

question “Do you love your neighbor

as yourself?” does not mean our lives

support that answer.

My children often heard me

speak on the phone with friends

from Australia, Germany and even

New Zealand. They flipped through

my passport showcasing the many

nations in which I had preached:

Israel, England, Spain, Zambia and

the United Arab Emirates, among

others. They even accompanied

Marlinda and me on mission trips to

other countries, such as Guatemala,

the Dominican Republic, Kenya

and more. And perhaps they have

overheard me pray one of Mother

Teresa’s favorite prayers: “May God

break my heart so completely that

the whole world falls in.”

God modeled His love for the

world by giving. In fact, He gave

His only begotten Son. Integrity is

the practice of doing the right thing

above knowing the right thing. It

calls for practical actions and not

professorial answers.

So don’t just tell your kids it’s

important to love people who are

different from you; show them.

Invite a family of another race to

your home for dinner. Have them

bring one of their cultural dishes. To

break the ice, openly admit you want

your family to grow cross-culturally.

Then turn the conversation into

storytelling—the use of personal

stories that showcase your heart,

experiences and journey in various

seasons of life. Stories have a way of

leveling the playing field, knitting

hearts together, shortening social

distances and cushioning feelings of

awkwardness. >>>

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INTENTIONALITY / KIDS & TEENS

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4. Talk about

the destination

Traveling on Route 316 is about journeying

toward a destination. It speaks

of where you intend to be tomorrow.

The value of today includes its

effectiveness in preparing you for

tomorrow. When we don’t think about

our destination, we can arrive there

unprepared. For example, imagine

how foolish you’d feel if you arrived in

sunny Florida for Christmas vacation,

only to realize that all of your outfits

mirrored the wintry temperature of

your home in Minnesota.

Don’t laugh. I did that once. One

January, I had a weekend speaking

engagement in the Dominican

Republic. I was so thankful to get a

respite from frigid New Jersey that I

subconsciously packed only winter

clothes. For the next couple of days,

I looked completely out of place on

this sunny Caribbean island.

When we look at the future of

the United States, we see that it is

rapidly becoming brown. Census

projections for 2060 forecast a racial

composition of 55.7% people of

color (African American, Hispanic,

Asian, Pacific Islanders, Native

American and biracial people) and

44.3% white (non-Hispanic). In

2014, there were only 37.8% people

of color and 62.2% white people.

In other words, America for our

children and grandchildren will

look, feel and function differently

from the way it does now. To prepare

your kids for the diversity

of tomorrow’s America, we must

help them develop cross-cultural

confidence and competency today.

If your family embraces the full

significance of John 3:16, you will

be invited on a journey that forever

changes how you see God and the

world.

One of the greatest legacies you

can leave your children is the gift of

cross-cultural confidence and competency.

I promise that the journey

will transform not only their hopes

and goals but also the way they live

and love. •

Dr. David D. Ireland is the founder and lead

pastor of Christ Church, a multisite and

multiracial community in northern New Jersey

with a membership of 9,500 people spanning

more than 70 nationalities. He is a former

diversity consultant to the NBA and author

of numerous books, including One in Christ:

Bridging racial and cultural divides.

© ALISON WINTERROTH / STOCKSY UNITED; (PATTERN) FOTF / BRIAN MELLEMA

the father

your kids

need

Dads matter.

So how can you

make a lasting

difference in your

children’s lives?

BY ED TANDY MCGLASSON

DO YOU REMEMBER THE

MOMENT when you learned you

were going to be a father? I do.

My wife, Jill, and I had been married

for a short time when she came

to me with pure joy on her face. “I’m

pregnant!” she exclaimed.

Tears streamed down this tough

old football player’s face—not so old

back then—as we rejoiced together.

I thought about my birth father, Ed

Tandy, who’d heard those same

words from my mother, yet died

when his Navy fighter jet crashed a

month before I was born. He celebrated

the news with my mom, just

like Jill and I did, but he never had

the chance to father me.

Many men struggle as fathers

today, but not because we don’t love

our children. We struggle because

so many of us had no father in our

own lives, or we were raised by dads

who were never fathered themselves.

You matter, Dad—to both God and

your family. God wants to help you

become the father your children need.

Your capacity to love your children

increases the more you understand

and embrace God’s love for you. The

more love you receive from your

heavenly Father, the more you will

have to give as a man, husband and

parent. This became my goal: to recognize

that I was being fathered by

God so that I could then parent my

own children the same way.

So how do you raise your children

to be everything God calls them to

be? Here are a few suggestions:

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INTENTIONALITY / KIDS & TEENS

Powerful

Parenting

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Huerta explains seven

parenting traits that lead to

the best outcomes for kids.

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or call 1.800.661.9800

Use your words to

encourage your children

The words you speak to and about

your children can either build them

up or tear them down. Think about

all the things you said to your sons

and daughters this past week. How

many words were instructive or

encouraging? How many of them

were empowering words that started

with: “Do you know what Dad loves

about you?”

Model the person you

want your kids to become

You’ve probably heard the saying

“values are caught, not taught.” This

means that children often pick up

character values more from what

they see us do than from what we

tell them. This is especially true in

fathering: Your children are always

watching you. I’ve preached a lot

of sermons to my kids through the

years, yet the sermons that had the

greatest impact were usually the

ones I lived out in front of them. Our

children learn by imitating us.

Jesus lived the message He

preached. He didn’t instruct His followers

to do something He wouldn’t

do. In terms of parenting, the most

powerful example you can give your

children is being the man you are

right now—the man Christ is shaping

you to be.

© ERIN DRAGO / STCOSKY UNITED; (PATTERN) FOTF / BRIAN MELLEMA

© BRUCE AND REBECCA MEISSNER / STOCKSY UNITED; (PATTERN) FOTF / BRIAN MELLEMA

Show your kids how to

spend time with God

When my son Edward was about 3

years old, he came to my office door

during my quiet time.

“What are you doing, Dad?” he

asked.

“I’m spending time with God.”

Edward looked at me and asked,

“Can I spend time with you and God

too?” His question was both encouraging

and instructive. I discovered

how my private life affected my son.

Like most boys, Edward started out

wanting to be just like his dad.

I invited him into my office

and handed him one of my Bibles.

Edward watched me, and I started

reading quietly. In that moment I

was doing more to teach Edward

about seeking the Lord than my best

sermons ever did. If you can teach

your children to embrace God’s

Word, you can help pass that same

legacy through them and into the

lives of your grandchildren.

You might be thinking, That

sounds great, Ed, but my children

are grown now and don’t even go to

church anymore. What can I do? Let

me offer some encouragement: As

long as you’re alive, it is never too

late to be the father your kids need.

You can still be a blessing to them

no matter the state of your relationship.

I’ve seen 90-year-old fathers

reconnect with children who are

now in their 60s, healing years of

hurt and separation.

Be the kind of man you

want your daughter to

marry

The area where I needed God’s

fathering help most of all was with

my daughters. Jill and I have two

amazing girls who are just like their

mom, and they totally intimidated

me as a father. I played in the NFL

against the legendary Hall of Fame

defensive tackle known as “Mean Joe”

Greene, and he was a pushover compared

to my daughters.

Jill saw how I was struggling with

my girls, in part because I didn’t

know how to give them the affection

every daughter needs from her

dad. So she asked me a question:

“Would you like your daughters to

one day choose great men to be their

husbands?” Well, of course, that’s

what I wanted, yet I thought my role

was to be my daughters’ protector—

to chase away the bad apples.

But Jill saw things differently.

She encouraged me to become the

type of man I’d want my daughters

to marry—to be an example

for them as they developed their

own relationships and married.

Fathers want a son-in-law who will

honor and respect his daughter, so

I learned how to love my daughters

and show them the affection they

need and deserve.

Become a better father

Much like your relationship with

your wife, you don’t want bitterness

or resentment to develop between

you and your children. Many times

they won’t be open with you if there

is lingering unforgiveness. (Did you

have parents who apologized after

they hurt you? Most men I meet

never had a father who learned to

ask for forgiveness.)

After years of not knowing how to

heal my relationship with my oldest

daughter, Jessica, I began by saying,

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“I want to be a better father to you,

and I need your help with two issues.”

Then I asked her these questions: 1)

“What are the things I’ve done that

hurt you so I can ask your forgiveness?”

and 2) “What are some things

I could do to show you how much I

love you?”

You can do the same with your

daughter.

1) What are the things I’ve done that

hurt you? I want to know so I can ask

for forgiveness. Whatever your daughter

says in response to this question,

don’t argue, disagree or make excuses.

Your only goal in this moment is to

hear her heart. Buckle up and listen,

and then ask forgiveness for each

of the things she tells you. It might

take some time and a few attempts

if you’ve never done this before, but

it will transform the way you process

the pain and hurt that every family

has.

2) What are some things I could do

to show you how much I love you? As

you open your heart to your daughter,

she may begin to feel comfortable

enough to open her heart to you, too.

Write down what she says and put it

in your planner or phone. But listening

is only half the battle. You must

follow through on what she says.

These questions helped unlock my

relationships with all of my children,

and they can unlock your family’s

relationships, too.

Love your wife in

front of your kids

I didn’t have the greatest role models

when it came to marriage. When

I first married Jill, let’s just say that I

needed a lot of work in understanding

how to connect with my wife.

I came to understand the positive

influence that my regular date

nights with Jill had on all of our

children. They taught my sons to

pursue (and keep pursuing) the

women God would lead them

to one day. They watched me

romance my wife throughout their

younger years, and now I see them

romancing their own wives. Those

date nights also gave our daughters

an example of what they should

expect from future relationships.

Tune in to hear Aaron Sharp

encourage dads to parent using

godly principles.

ong>Focusong>OnTheFamily.ca/Radio

Discover the Father

you’ve always wanted

One Christmas as our family was

handing out presents around the

tree, I remember watching my children,

who are now parents to my

amazing grandkids. My heart was

overwhelmed with gratitude as I

thought back to more than 25 years

earlier. That’s when I discovered the

love and blessings of my heavenly

Father—things I never received from

my earthly dad.

With tears in my eyes, I prayed,

Father, thank You for becoming

the Father I lost before I was born.

Thank You for teaching me how to

receive from You like Your Son, Jesus,

did. In that moment, I knew that

God wanted the same thing not just

for me but for every father. Since

then it has been my goal to tell men

that God is the Father they have

always wanted. •

Ed Tandy McGlasson is the founder and

executive director of Blessing of the Father

Ministries. He is a pastor, bestselling author

and former lineman in the NFL. His newest

book is How to Become the Husband and

Father Your Family Needs.

© LAUREN LEE / STOCKSY UNITED; (PATTERN) FOTF / BRIAN MELLEMA

(TOP TO BOTTOM) P&G, ELNUR, ALEX, NEW AFRICA / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Is there really a path to online

fame and easy money?

BY ADAM R. HOLZ

5,498,341 views • June 1, 2021 2.5M

161 SHARE SAVE

LAST OCTOBER, young people

couldn’t get enough of Fleetwood

Mac’s song “Dreams.” The catchy

tune hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock

Digital Song Sales chart and was

averaging more than 1 million

streams each day.

What’s so unusual about this

chart-topping success is that

“Dreams” was released in 1977.

Why the sudden interest in a

song that came out decades before

streaming was possible? Was it part

of a soundtrack? Featured on a commercial

or popular TV show? No,

“Dreams” hit the charts after it was

included in a video by TikTok user

420doggface208, whose real name is

Nathan Apodaca.

Nathan is a social media influencer—someone

who posts videos

hoping to generate viral interest and

a large viewership. And for Nathan,

it’s working. His lighthearted videos

have amassed 6.6 million followers

and 88.8 million likes.

Big money

Those big numbers generate more

than just bragging rights. There’s big

money involved, too. It comes from

the platforms, as well as paid sponsorships

from companies looking to

leverage an influencer’s popularity.

The biggest influencer in 2019

was 9-year-old Ryan Kaji, the star

of YouTube’s most profitable channel,

Ryan’s World. His challenges, toy

reviews and pseudo-educational

videos have garnered 29 million subscribers

and a whopping 46 billion

views. Oh, and $26 million in 2019.

Not bad for a young guy who’s still in

elementary school.

Those sorts of numbers help

explain why “social media influencer”

and “YouTube star” have

become popular career aspirations

Whi ch

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Best Makup Brushes on a Budget

THE MAKEUP ARTIST • 103K views • 7 days ago

40

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021


KIDS & TEENS / PLUGGED IN

PLUGGED IN / KIDS & TEENS

for many young people. A Harris

Poll/LEGO survey of kids in the

U.S., Britain and China found that

29% of 8- to 12-year-olds want to

be YouTubers—three times as many

as want to be astronauts. Among

teens, 54% want to be social media

influencers.

It’s not hard to see where those

aspirational impulses might be coming

from. Popularity, influence and

money have been some of the main

building blocks of teens’ self-esteem

for a couple of generations now.

And when it comes to the role of

a social media influencer, those

elements have coalesced into something

many tweens and teens think

they could do, too. When they see

a youngster like Ryan playing with

toys and raking in millions, they

might easily think, I can do that.

Social climbing?

In years past, young people might

have been similarly infatuated with

the idea of becoming a rock star

or actress. But the odds stacked

against them were formidable and

obvious. Becoming a social media

influencer and raking in millions

seems more attainable. After all, the

only thing you need is a camera, a

pretty smile and a bit of viral luck,

right? Not so fast.

Marketing analyst Natalya

Saldanha understands that kids may

be drawn to the apparent ease of

achieving fame and mega-success

simply by opening toys, but reality is

something very different.

“The fact is most wannabe influencers

have as much a chance of walking

on the moon as they do of emulating

Ryan Kaji,” Natalya writes. “They’ll

be lucky, in fact, to earn as much as

someone working at a fast-food joint.”

Being a successful social media

influencer is all about one thing:

consumerism. It’s about identifying

and promoting products—at least,

if you want to get paid. In an article

titled “How Your Kid Can Become a

Social Media Influencer,” Shay Jiles

talked with DFWChild about how

she and her children promote their

Instagram channel. “Make sure you

are tagging your posts,” she noted,

“everything from the chips you are

eating to the shoes you are wearing,

so the brand picks it up and reposts

it. Then you have their followers saying,

‘Who are these people?’ ”

Practical concerns

for parents

Even if your child understands that

becoming a social media influencer

is much harder than it looks, there

are more practical concerns parents

need to be aware of.

First, personal security issues

remain a real concern. A successful

social media star by definition has

millions of eyeballs on him or her.

And though I’m sure, for instance,

that young Ryan’s parents have spent

a good deal of his fortune securing a

safe place to live, they have no idea

who is watching those videos or how

people are interacting with images

of their son. As a parent of kids in

that age range myself, I find that

more than a little unsettling.

There are also spiritual questions to ponder.

Even though a social media influencer is invariably

pushing a product, the product is ultimately

the person doing all that pushing. A lack of likes,

demeaning comments about appearance and criticism

in general are all a part of the deal here. For

a young person whose identity is increasingly

wrapped up in his or her online persona, the question

of how all that might shape his or her soul is a

serious one indeed.

It’s good for kids to dream about who they might

become and the kind of influence they hope to have

in our world. As parents we have a responsibility

to understand how social media is reshaping their

understanding of what that influence might look

like, and to respond with wisdom and discernment

as we help them navigate our changing times. •

Adam R. Holz is the director of Plugged In, ong>Focusong> on the Family’s

entertainment- and technology-review website for parents.

Influencer

UPCOMING

REVIEWS

For reviews of these and other

titles, visit PluggedIn.ca, ong>Focusong>

on the Family’s media review and

discernment website.

“RYAN’S MYSTERY PLAYDATE”

Social media influencer Ryan Kaji is back for a

fourth season of making new friends on Nick Jr.

Now streaming

CONFORMED OR

TRANSFORMED?

Maybe your kids have no desire to become internet

stars, but are they following social media influencers?

Here are important questions to dive into as a family:

• What social media voices do you pay attention to or follow?

• What makes those people attractive to you?

• What products are they trying to sell?

• What would you say your favorite influencers’ effect is on you?

• Do their videos make you want to buy certain things?

• Do they communicate the idea that you need to change something

about yourself to be acceptable?

Social media influencers may be a new thing in

the lives of tweens and teens. But the concept of

influence—of what values are shaping their hearts,

beliefs and convictions—goes back a great deal

further. In Romans 12:2, Paul wrote, “Do not be

conformed to this world, but be transformed by

the renewal of your mind.”

Paul understood that the world’s value system is

constantly squeezing and molding how we think

and what we consider to be most important. The

only antidote to that is focusing on biblical truth,

so that we might recognize and embrace “whatever

is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is

just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever

is commendable” (Philippians 4:8).

—ARH

© SWEENSHOTS & SHAYMONE / STOCKSY UNITED

Liked by AnotherInfluencer and others

(TOP TO BOTTOM) NICKELODEON; PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS; PARAMOUNT PICTURES

LUCA

Parents may want to know if Pixar’s tale of a young

boy and a sea monster may be too intense for little

ones.

Scheduled release: June 18

TOP GUN: MAVERICK

Will Tom Cruise’s return to the cockpit lead to

another surge of wannabe Navy pilots?

Scheduled release: July 2

42

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021

June / July 2021 FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 43


KIDS & TEENS / BOUNDARIES

the shoe rule

Stumbling over sneakers

led to a lesson about

responsibility

BY CHRIS BRACK

ong>Focusong> on

the Family

Canada

Broadcast

App

MY 5-YEAR-OLD SON,

THOMAS, RAN PAST ME on

his way to the stairs that led to his

room.

“Slow down,” I automatically called

as I finished folding a pair of jeans.

When I heard a thump followed by

a cry of pain, I hurried into the living

room.

“Are you OK?” I asked.

“I slipped on Michelle’s shoe,”

Thomas said, tears rolling down his

cheeks.

My husband and I have four kids,

but that day there were certainly

more than four pairs of shoes in the

living room. Our children had gotten

into the habit of kicking off their

footwear wherever they were. It

didn’t bother me when they were

younger, but it did now.

After talking with my husband,

we decided we needed to motivate

our children to pick up after themselves.

We wanted them to do what

was right, not just what was convenient

in the moment—starting with

their shoes.

A new plan

Our strategy was simple. Any shoe or

sock left behind belonged to me. So I

picked up shoes and socks throughout

the day and then gave my kids

an opportunity to earn them back.

When one child asked, “Where are

my tennis shoes?” I replied, “You left

them in the dining room. If you want

to dust the bookshelf, they can be

yours again.”

I was completely surprised when

this plan worked. After a few shoes

were paid for with chores, the footwear

miraculously found its way into

the proper place without my help.

And unexpectedly, our shoe experiment

branched out.

At the end of each night, I used

to pick up toys and take them to

our children’s rooms. But our kids

started to do that task on their own.

(I think they were afraid the shoe

rule might extend to their toys.)

Though I wish we’d started this

exercise when our children were

younger, I’m glad we began it when

we did. The shoe rule was the first

step in helping them realize why

short-term convenience isn’t always

the best answer to a problem.

A deeper understanding

As our children grew, the shoe rule

gave us a basis for having other conversations

with our kids. We used it

in our discussions about choosing

NEW AFRICA; BESTNERDLIFE / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

to do what was right in the areas of

personal responsibility and moral

decisions.

Was saying an unkind word when

they felt hurt the best action? Or was

holding their tongue better so as to

keep from hurting someone’s feelings

and learn self-control? Should

they cheat off of a friend’s paper or

get the grade they deserved, which

forced them to study harder?

Because my children had a tangible

example for understanding why they

were making decisions, they were better

able to think through outcomes.

They found that taking responsibility

not only for their material possessions

but also for their social actions was

difficult but important. And sometimes

doing what was right felt unfair,

such as when a sibling appeared to be

held to a different standard.

At those times, we talked about

Paul’s encouragement in Galatians

6:9: “Let us not grow weary of doing

good, for in due season we will reap, if

we do not give up.” With each choice

to do what was right, my children

learned that doing good was seldom

the most convenient path, but it had

rewards. Not saying an unkind word

kept friendships stronger. Not cheating

made them better students.

Over time, our kids began to

understand how their choices had

short-term and long-term consequences.

What started as a rule to get

our kids to put away their shoes grew

into a good example of how doing

right was a much better choice than

doing what was convenient. •

Chris Brack is a co-author of books for

children. Her most recent “The Imagination

Station” book is Refugees on the Run.

Looking for ways to build your

faith, strengthen your marriage

and become a better parent?

The ong>Focusong> on the Family

Canada app is here to provide

encouragement and practical

advice for whatever stage your

family is at.

To download the Apple

or Google app, visit

focusonthefamily.ca

/mobile

44

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021


KIDS & TEENS / MY THRIVING FAMILY

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Kristina, 5

Playtime on the beach includes

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—Joyce from California

Tessa, Izzy, Shay and Amelia

laugh together, lean on each

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friendship in the first two books

in the Riverbend Friends series:

Real, Not Perfect and Searching

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Recommended for ages 12-16.

Alexander, 3, Benjamin, 5, and Lindsey, 7

My kids have fun burying each other in

the sand.

—Rachel from Texas

Zion, 9 months

Experiencing the wonders of

sand for the first time!

—Alyssa from California

Your kids could be in ong>Focusong> on the Family magazine!

Email photos* of your child at the zoo, at the

aquarium or playing with a pet. (Put “Animal Friends”

in the subject line.)

Send to: info@fotf.ca

* Largest photo possible—professional photos not accepted

(PATTERN) STEPHANIE ZIEBER / STOCK.ADOBE.COM

46

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

June / July 2021

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