Focus on the Family Magazine - April/May 2022

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

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

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

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Helping Families Thrive in Christ<br />

APRIL / MAY / MAY 2019 <strong>2022</strong><br />

Canada<br />

Is <strong>the</strong> Truth<br />

True for<br />

Every<strong>on</strong>e?<br />

Teach your kids that<br />

God’s truths are<br />

uncompromising<br />

Faces<br />

of Foster<br />

Care<br />


C<strong>on</strong>quering<br />

<strong>the</strong> Mountain<br />

with Jim Daly<br />

PAGE 29<br />

Arguments<br />

d<strong>on</strong>’t have to<br />

tear you apart

How to Resp<strong>on</strong>d<br />

When Your Kids Ask Tough<br />

Questi<strong>on</strong>s About God<br />

video series<br />

——<br />

In a world that’s moving away from biblical truth, our children are going to<br />

face challenging questi<strong>on</strong>s from o<strong>the</strong>rs who doubt <strong>the</strong> Christian faith.<br />

And as <strong>the</strong>y grow, our kids will likely have some hard questi<strong>on</strong>s of <strong>the</strong>ir own.<br />

It’s more important than ever to show our kids that <strong>the</strong>ir faith can withstand<br />

scrutiny and that <strong>the</strong>re are sound answers to <strong>the</strong>ir questi<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

Join in this FREE, six-part video series with<br />

apologetics author Natasha Crain and learn how<br />

to draw out your kids’ doubts and questi<strong>on</strong>s and<br />

provide <strong>the</strong>m with satisfying, biblical answers.<br />



APRIL / MAY<br />

C<strong>on</strong>tents<br />

Couples<br />

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

Kids & Teens<br />




A marriage insight from Jenny<br />

Nanninga<br />



C<strong>on</strong>flict can lead you toward a<br />

deeper marriage c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong><br />

by Nicole Unice<br />

17 3 PRAYERS TO PRAY<br />


Enrich your relati<strong>on</strong>ship<br />

by praying as a couple<br />

by Dean Ridings<br />


Understanding my husband’s<br />

hobbies brought us closer toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

by Sabrina McD<strong>on</strong>ald<br />

21 A WAY FORWARD<br />

A spiritual insight from <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

<strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> leadership<br />

by Dr. Daniel Huerta<br />


Show Christ’s love by building<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ships with neighbors<br />

who d<strong>on</strong>’t think like you<br />

by Prest<strong>on</strong> Ulmer<br />


The Stier family’s journey from body<br />

builders to bold evangelists<br />

by Benjamin Hawkins<br />


Snapshots of five kids who grew<br />

up in <strong>the</strong> foster care system<br />

compiled by Dr. Sharen Ford<br />


Even fearless kids can feel<br />

anxiety about something<br />

by Manndi DeBoef<br />


A parenting insight from<br />

Quinnise Pettway<br />

38 ‘IS THE TRUTH<br />


Teach your kids that God’s<br />

truths are uncompromising<br />

by Elizabeth Urbanowicz<br />


My daughter Annie and I faced<br />

our fears and b<strong>on</strong>ded<br />

by Dr. Greg Smalley<br />


Laurentz’s mind was flourishing<br />

even before I recognized it<br />

by Elsa Kok Colopy<br />

In Every<br />

Issue<br />


5 HACKS & FACTS<br />

12 MEDIA<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 3


Jean-Paul Beran is<br />

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

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada.<br />

IN THIS ISSUE of <strong>the</strong> magazine, we have<br />

stories from five people who have g<strong>on</strong>e through<br />

<strong>the</strong> foster care system—including our friend<br />

Jim Daly, president of <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> in<br />

<strong>the</strong> U.S. and host of <strong>the</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong><br />

Broadcast (turn to page 30 to read more).<br />

In light of <strong>the</strong>se stories, I want to introduce<br />

you to Aar<strong>on</strong> and Kveta, a couple in Vancouver,<br />

BC, who have faithfully followed God’s call <strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>ir lives to become foster parents.<br />

Even in <strong>the</strong> early stages of <strong>the</strong>ir relati<strong>on</strong>ship,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y both agreed <strong>the</strong>y wanted to be open to<br />

what God wanted <strong>the</strong>ir family to look like and<br />

how it would come to be. Even though nei<strong>the</strong>r of <strong>the</strong>m were intimately<br />

familiar with fostering and adopti<strong>on</strong>, <strong>the</strong>y didn’t want to close a door if<br />

God wanted to open it for <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

When Aar<strong>on</strong> went to a c<strong>on</strong>ference put <strong>on</strong> by a social worker who shared<br />

<strong>the</strong> need for foster parents, he came home and told Kveta <strong>the</strong>y might need<br />

to c<strong>on</strong>sider this.<br />

“When some<strong>on</strong>e tells you about how many children are in your city<br />

that need a home, and here you’ve been kind of waiting and w<strong>on</strong>dering<br />

what God was doing with that l<strong>on</strong>ging,” Kveta explains, “we were just like,<br />

maybe this is why he had laid this <strong>on</strong> our heart.”<br />

When people find out Aar<strong>on</strong> and Kveta are foster parents, <strong>on</strong>e thing<br />

<strong>the</strong>y hear often is, “I could never do that because we wouldn’t be able to<br />

give a child back.”<br />

As Aar<strong>on</strong> explains: “We have to remind ourselves over and over again—<br />

it’s not about us. For us to say we’re not going to enter into this area of<br />

brokenness because we d<strong>on</strong>’t want to have heartache, well, somebody<br />

has to take care of this child. Somebody has to be <strong>the</strong>re to do that and so<br />

I think we know as Christians that life isn’t supposed to be easy in every<br />

regard. There is a lot of dying to ourselves.”<br />

They both look forward to <strong>the</strong> day when providing stability through<br />

fostering, for as l<strong>on</strong>g a time as a child needs, is no l<strong>on</strong>ger a rarity, but<br />

ra<strong>the</strong>r normative, especially within <strong>the</strong> church. You can watch <strong>the</strong>ir story<br />

at <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/Aar<strong>on</strong>AndKveta.<br />

Fostering and adopti<strong>on</strong> are big decisi<strong>on</strong>s that come with a lot of resp<strong>on</strong>sibility,<br />

but we encourage you to pray and ask God for wisdom if this is <strong>the</strong><br />

journey for you. Visit WaitingToBel<strong>on</strong>g.ca to learn about our ministry for<br />

foster and adoptive families in Canada.<br />

Jean-Paul Beran<br />

What is God<br />

calling you to?<br />


president Jim Daly<br />

chief operating officer Ken Windebank<br />

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

focus canada president Jean-Paul Beran<br />

editorial director Sheila Seifert<br />

managing editor Andrea Gutierrez<br />

copy chief Scott DeNicola<br />

c<strong>on</strong>tributing editors Karen Scalf Bouchard,<br />

Vance Fry, Marianne Hering, Thomas<br />

Jeffries, Ginger Kolbaba, Jennifer L<strong>on</strong>as<br />

and Jeff Masching<br />

art director Brian Mellema<br />

designer Anneka Jack<br />

cover Ka<strong>the</strong>rine Marie Photography<br />

media publishing director Kevin Shirin<br />

editorial assistant Kat Bittner<br />

print producti<strong>on</strong> Gail Wise<br />

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

Thank you!<br />

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

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

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

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<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> magazine <strong>April</strong>/<strong>May</strong> <strong>2022</strong>, Vol. 7,<br />

No. 2 ISSN 2471-5921, © <strong>2022</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>. All<br />

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4<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>

Hacks & Facts<br />


spring flowers<br />


My kids and I enjoy surprising our neighbors with a basket<br />

of spring flowers a few days before Easter. We include<br />

a little note about God’s promise of new life that is coming<br />

so<strong>on</strong>. The flowers often come from our own garden, and<br />

it’s special for my kids to feel like <strong>the</strong>y’re sharing some of<br />

our blessings with o<strong>the</strong>rs.<br />

—Emily Yang<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 5




To help <strong>the</strong> meaning of Christ’s resurrecti<strong>on</strong><br />

come alive for our family, we head to <strong>the</strong> drivethru<br />

of our kids’ favorite fast-food restaurant.<br />

When we pull up to <strong>the</strong> payment window, we<br />

not <strong>on</strong>ly pay for our food but also for <strong>the</strong> people<br />

behind us. Then as we head home, we talk about<br />

how Jesus paid our debt.<br />

For <strong>the</strong> younger kids, we have doughnuts<br />

and doughnut holes for <strong>on</strong>e weekend breakfast<br />

before Easter. As I read through <strong>the</strong> Resurrecti<strong>on</strong><br />

story, our kids form an empty tomb by stacking a<br />

doughnut hole <strong>on</strong> a doughnut. When I read <strong>the</strong><br />

part about <strong>the</strong> st<strong>on</strong>e being rolled away, every<strong>on</strong>e<br />

eats <strong>the</strong> doughnut hole. Then we talk about <strong>the</strong><br />

Resurrecti<strong>on</strong> as we finish our breakfast.<br />

—Jared Hottenstein<br />

DIY Easter playset<br />

When my daughter was a toddler, I<br />

wanted to bring <strong>the</strong> Easter story alive in a<br />

way that she could understand. I repurposed<br />

<strong>the</strong> Nativity figurines to be Jesus,<br />

Mary Magdalene, His disciples and <strong>the</strong><br />

angel at <strong>the</strong> tomb. I found o<strong>the</strong>r figurines<br />

to become Roman guards, P<strong>on</strong>tius Pilate<br />

and Barabbas. I wanted to make sure all<br />

my children knew about how Christ was<br />

sacrificed in our place. I fashi<strong>on</strong>ed a small<br />

cross and spray-painted an old toy case<br />

shaped like a cave to use for Christ’s grave.<br />

Then we found a st<strong>on</strong>e in <strong>the</strong> yard to “roll<br />

away.” And I love when I catch my children<br />

playing with <strong>the</strong> set even when it’s<br />

not Easter.<br />

—Elizabeth James<br />

“nailing” our sins to a cross<br />

During <strong>the</strong> Easter seas<strong>on</strong>, we talk with our children about sin—<br />

what it does to us and how it harms our relati<strong>on</strong>ship with God.<br />

We discuss why sin deserves punishment. Then we take a cross<br />

that we made from two-by-fours and set it in <strong>the</strong> living room.<br />

We each write <strong>on</strong> pieces of paper <strong>the</strong> sins we’ve d<strong>on</strong>e. Then<br />

we let our kids “nail” <strong>the</strong>m to <strong>the</strong> cross with tape or thumbtacks.<br />

Afterward, each pers<strong>on</strong> receives a blank piece of paper<br />

representing a clean slate. It really helps our children understand<br />

how Jesus took away our sins.<br />

—Brooke Grangard<br />

6<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>


a hallelujah hiatus<br />

Before Easter week, we have our children<br />

write <strong>the</strong> word hallelujah <strong>on</strong> a piece of<br />

paper. We put <strong>the</strong> papers into a box and<br />

all shout “hallelujah” as loud as we can<br />

while <strong>the</strong> lid inches closed. We bury<br />

<strong>the</strong> box in <strong>the</strong> snow or hide it in <strong>the</strong><br />

basement. As so<strong>on</strong> as <strong>the</strong> box is closed,<br />

that word is off-limits until Resurrecti<strong>on</strong><br />

Sunday, even if it comes up in a s<strong>on</strong>g at<br />

church. On Easter Sunday, we open <strong>the</strong><br />

box and let <strong>the</strong> “hallelujah” out, yelling it<br />

as loud as we can. This traditi<strong>on</strong> has been<br />

a fun way to help our kids feel <strong>the</strong> joy of<br />

<strong>the</strong> Resurrecti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

—Christie Thomas<br />

care basket<br />

During Easter week, <strong>on</strong>e of my daughter’s<br />

friends was bedridden while recovering from<br />

surgery. The girl’s family had little time for Easter<br />

preparati<strong>on</strong>s. Our family realized God had<br />

provided an opportunity for us to dem<strong>on</strong>strate<br />

His love, and we talked about what we could do.<br />

My daughter asked if we could fill an Easter<br />

basket with homemade bread and cookies. She<br />

also suggested that we buy activity books for<br />

her friend. My s<strong>on</strong> d<strong>on</strong>ated <strong>the</strong> basket he had<br />

received <strong>the</strong> previous year, and we included informati<strong>on</strong><br />

to livestream our church’s Easter service.<br />

While preparing <strong>the</strong> items for <strong>the</strong> basket, we<br />

prayed for God’s blessings for <strong>the</strong>ir family and<br />

asked that our gift would be well received as tangible<br />

evidence of His love.<br />

We felt that God h<strong>on</strong>ored our prayer, blessing<br />

two families that Easter week—ours in sharing His<br />

love, <strong>the</strong>irs in receiving it.<br />

—Nancy Koenig<br />



I explained to our children that when I was<br />

younger, we used <strong>on</strong>ly real eggs for an Easter<br />

egg hunt. They were boiled and dyed, hidden<br />

and hunted. Because many of our senior citizen<br />

friends can’t eat candy, we made a little egg<br />

carrier out of sturdy paper and staples, added<br />

some fake grass and placed a dyed Easter egg<br />

in it. Then our kids visited several seniors who<br />

lived al<strong>on</strong>e and gave <strong>the</strong>m <strong>the</strong>ir basket al<strong>on</strong>g<br />

with a homemade card. We also included an<br />

invitati<strong>on</strong> and an offer for a ride to church <strong>on</strong><br />

Easter to celebrate <strong>the</strong> Resurrecti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

—D<strong>on</strong>na J. Wright



Our family recently participated in our church’s workday. At first, our girls weren’t<br />

thrilled about going, but <strong>on</strong>ce <strong>the</strong>y began helping with <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>rs, <strong>the</strong>ir hearts<br />

were transformed. They weeded flower beds, waxed cabinets, washed windows<br />

and cleaned baseboards all with a happy heart. We were exhausted by <strong>the</strong> end<br />

of <strong>the</strong> day, yet <strong>the</strong> ride home was filled with satisfacti<strong>on</strong>. My 9-year-old daughter<br />

told me, “It made me feel joy when I was helping o<strong>the</strong>rs.” While finding joy wasn’t<br />

our motive, it was a natural outcome of working toge<strong>the</strong>r with our church.<br />

—Katie T. Kennedy<br />

enjoy <strong>the</strong> wow<br />

<strong>the</strong> flip side<br />

My daughter can become sulky when life seems<br />

dull. Many days after school, she would ask if<br />

she could go play at a friend’s house or visit a<br />

restaurant or store. So <strong>on</strong> days when we planned<br />

to hang out as a family at home, we used <strong>the</strong><br />

phrase, “Enjoy <strong>the</strong> wow that’s happening now,”<br />

to gently remind her that joy is always at hand—<br />

even in <strong>the</strong> ordinary. While it took some practice,<br />

now she can find and savor her own fun. For<br />

example, she can recruit her bro<strong>the</strong>rs to play a<br />

giant game of “<strong>the</strong> floor is lava” in <strong>the</strong> backyard.<br />

She now knows that real joy is not something<br />

“out <strong>the</strong>re” that we chase after. Instead, it’s<br />

something we carry with us.<br />

—Elizabeth James<br />

Our family began something that we call “flip it.”<br />

For each negative thought we acknowledge, we<br />

accept <strong>the</strong> emoti<strong>on</strong>s that go with it, but <strong>the</strong>n<br />

flip it to say why we are blessed. For example,<br />

my daughter would say, “I d<strong>on</strong>’t get to go to<br />

school.” We would flip this thought and turn it<br />

into a reas<strong>on</strong> we were blessed: “Not going to<br />

school is hard and makes you sad, but it means<br />

we are safe, healthy and get to spend extra time<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r.” After some time, she began flipping<br />

her own thoughts and seemed to understand<br />

that it is OK to be sad or upset, but that even<br />

in <strong>the</strong> hardest times we can find ways we are<br />

blessed.<br />

—Autumn Shaffer<br />


8<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>


praise playlist<br />

“Dad, can you play that s<strong>on</strong>g?” my<br />

9-year-old daughter asked as we<br />

hopped in <strong>the</strong> car.<br />

“Which <strong>on</strong>e?” I asked.<br />

“The <strong>on</strong>e from church,” she answered.<br />

I turned back and looked at her. “Of<br />

course!” I played <strong>the</strong> s<strong>on</strong>g from my<br />

playlist, and we all sang our hearts out<br />

in joy to King Jesus.<br />

For 30 days straight, I chose a new<br />

s<strong>on</strong>g that praised Jesus. I found lists of<br />

praise s<strong>on</strong>gs <strong>on</strong> social media posts.<br />

I also searched YouTube and asked our<br />

youth pastors what <strong>the</strong>y listen to.<br />

My children quickly moved bey<strong>on</strong>d<br />

merely gravitating to praise music; <strong>the</strong>y<br />

began needing it. They played Christian<br />

music in <strong>the</strong> afterno<strong>on</strong>s around <strong>the</strong><br />

house. And <strong>the</strong> s<strong>on</strong>gs comforted my<br />

daughter as she listened quietly while<br />

lying in bed. It was a dream fulfilled to<br />

hear my children calling <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> name of<br />

<strong>the</strong> Lord.<br />

—Michael B. Kopans<br />

drawing God’s good gifts<br />

We recently cultivated joy in our home by creating a mural of<br />

God’s good gifts.<br />

After discussing James 1:17 (NIrV), I wrote “Every good and perfect<br />

gift is from God” <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> top of <strong>the</strong> poster, and we hung it in<br />

<strong>the</strong> hallway.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> end of each day, we ga<strong>the</strong>red around <strong>the</strong> mural, and each<br />

pers<strong>on</strong> illustrated <strong>on</strong>e gift from <strong>the</strong> day. Some drawings were as<br />

simple as a sunrise or a flower. We took a few minutes to talk about<br />

<strong>the</strong> simple, powerful ways our loving God gives us His joy.<br />

—Stacey Pardoe<br />

“ JOY IS<br />

deep, cheerful<br />

c<strong>on</strong>tentment. . . .<br />


<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Parents’ Guide<br />

to <strong>the</strong> Spiritual Growth of Children<br />

”<br />



PRAYER<br />

My kids know that our dog will be<br />

waiting for <strong>the</strong>m when <strong>the</strong>y come<br />

home from school. He is always<br />

overjoyed to see <strong>the</strong>m. His joy<br />

comes from his relati<strong>on</strong>ship with<br />

our family, and not from <strong>the</strong> day’s<br />

happenings while we were away<br />

from home.<br />

With that picture of joy in <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

minds, I encouraged my kids to<br />

start our bedtime prayers with what<br />

I call a “puppy-dog” prayer—that is,<br />

to begin with all <strong>the</strong> ways <strong>the</strong>y are<br />

joyful. This has become a reminder<br />

to greet God joyfully and thank Him<br />

for who He is and what He’s d<strong>on</strong>e<br />

for us.<br />

—Jared Hottenstein<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 9


discussi<strong>on</strong>-starter photos<br />

I’ve found that flipping through a photo album with my kids sparks<br />

great c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s. The often awkward or goofy photos of our<br />

younger years prompt lots of questi<strong>on</strong>s from my kids, and I turn<br />

those questi<strong>on</strong>s into stories that I share about different stages of<br />

my life. I can handle my kids laughing at some of my awkward<br />

teen year photos if it helps me talk with my kids about peer pressure<br />

and fitting in. The photos are discussi<strong>on</strong> starters. My kids<br />

d<strong>on</strong>’t ever feel like our c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> is scripted or unnatural.<br />

—Jared Hottenstein<br />

moving blues<br />

Earlier this year, some family friends moved away. My daughter<br />

was best friends with <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong>ir children, so I knew it would be<br />

hard <strong>on</strong> her. For a while, she stood str<strong>on</strong>g and pretended as if it<br />

didn’t bo<strong>the</strong>r her. Finally, <strong>on</strong>e night when I was tucking her in, I<br />

told her that I was feeling sad about <strong>the</strong> move. She looked at me,<br />

and her eyes filled with tears as she admitted her own grief about<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir move. By leading <strong>the</strong> way in showing my own vulnerability,<br />

I gave my daughter a safe opening to do <strong>the</strong> same, and it paved<br />

<strong>the</strong> way for a healing c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> about change.<br />

—Elizabeth James<br />

well-timed<br />

c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

My husband’s approach to<br />

encouraging deep c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

with our daughter is to do a focused<br />

activity of interest with her. From<br />

<strong>the</strong>re, <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> usually<br />

blossoms naturally. When my<br />

husband carves out time to take<br />

her fishing, our daughter bubbles<br />

over with words. This has proven<br />

very helpful in streng<strong>the</strong>ning <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ship.<br />

Bedtime can also be a great time<br />

for me to foster c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s. As a<br />

family we share why we are thankful,<br />

and sometimes those statements<br />

can lead to deeper discussi<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

With a few well-timed questi<strong>on</strong>s or<br />

comments, our daughter can be<br />

very reflective in <strong>the</strong> evenings, so<br />

I use this time as an opportunity to<br />

rec<strong>on</strong>nect with her.<br />

—Lisa Johns<strong>on</strong><br />

‘CAN WE TALK?’<br />

Deep c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s at our house often<br />

start with an apology: “I’m sorry I hurt<br />

your feelings,” or “I didn’t resp<strong>on</strong>d to you<br />

well earlier. Will you give me ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

chance? I want to hear what you have to<br />

say.” Then, when my child trusts enough<br />

to open up, I’ll hear a soft, late-night<br />

knock <strong>on</strong> my bedroom door followed<br />

by, “Mom, are you awake. Can we talk?”<br />

Then I’ll hold back <strong>the</strong> temptati<strong>on</strong> to<br />

pour out all my mo<strong>the</strong>rly wisdom, and<br />

I’ll just listen.<br />

—Jennifer Henn<br />


10<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>



In our family of book lovers, our goto<br />

c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> starter goes bey<strong>on</strong>d<br />

“What are you reading?” to “Tell me<br />

about <strong>the</strong> hero or <strong>the</strong> villain. Why do<br />

you like or dislike that character?” My<br />

husband and I get a glimpse at our<br />

kids’ favorite ficti<strong>on</strong>al characters and<br />

also learn what pers<strong>on</strong>ality traits our<br />

kids admire.<br />

—Julia Springman<br />

reflecti<strong>on</strong><br />

questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />


c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> cues<br />

I use two questi<strong>on</strong>s to get great c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s rolling with my<br />

kids: “If you could make our family rules, what would <strong>the</strong>y be?”<br />

and “What is something you’re happy you get to have?”<br />

I always find out something interesting in my kids’ answers.<br />

—Laura Schwier<br />

use your words<br />

When my kids were younger, I started intenti<strong>on</strong>ally verbalizing<br />

my feelings. For example, if I heard a loud noise, I would say, “Oh!<br />

That loud noise scared me.” Or when our family endured hardship,<br />

I openly expressed my feelings of heartbreak. After a while, I<br />

noticed my oldest started voicing his feelings more. The more we<br />

talked about feelings, <strong>the</strong> more my s<strong>on</strong> realized that he was safe<br />

to open up and tell me about situati<strong>on</strong>s in which he was scared<br />

or frustrated or sad. As we talked about <strong>the</strong>se challenges, we<br />

discussed <strong>the</strong> best ways for him to handle his emoti<strong>on</strong>s. I am able<br />

to help guide my s<strong>on</strong> in a way that is more productive because we<br />

can discuss feelings openly.<br />

—Niki Poland<br />

Every day, my husband, daughter<br />

and I ask each o<strong>the</strong>r two questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

so we can c<strong>on</strong>nect and learn<br />

more about each o<strong>the</strong>r’s life. The<br />

first questi<strong>on</strong> has worked well at<br />

our dinner table to encourage<br />

c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>: “What are you<br />

GLAD about today?” This is a<br />

little acr<strong>on</strong>ym we developed, so<br />

my daughter starts things out by<br />

sharing something she is Grateful<br />

for from that day; something she<br />

Learned; something she Achieved;<br />

and something that made her<br />

feel Delighted. The answers<br />

have often evoked laughter and<br />

curiosity as my husband and I ask<br />

follow-up questi<strong>on</strong>s to deepen <strong>the</strong><br />

c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>. And <strong>the</strong>n it’s our turn<br />

to answer <strong>the</strong> same questi<strong>on</strong>.<br />

The sec<strong>on</strong>d questi<strong>on</strong> c<strong>on</strong>cerns<br />

faith: “How were you like Jesus to<br />

some<strong>on</strong>e today?” This prompts my<br />

daughter to reflect <strong>on</strong> her day to<br />

c<strong>on</strong>sider <strong>the</strong> opportunities she had<br />

to be kind, forgiving or inclusive to<br />

some<strong>on</strong>e in need.<br />

—Colleen Lasky<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 11




For reviews of <strong>the</strong>se and o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

titles, visit PluggedIn.com, <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

<strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>’s media review and<br />

discernment website.<br />


Series creator Dallas Jenkins explores<br />

how Jesus’ rising fame rankles political<br />

and religious leaders.<br />

Scheduled release: Spring <strong>2022</strong><br />



Will Marvel’s latest sequel be a mindbending<br />

trip into mysticism?<br />

Scheduled release: <strong>May</strong> 6<br />



Can <strong>the</strong>se superpowered pets<br />

keep <strong>the</strong> potty humor to a<br />

minimum?<br />

Scheduled release: <strong>May</strong> 20<br />

Are <strong>the</strong>re any worthwhile movies<br />

about kids in foster care?<br />

Surprisingly, Hollywood has produced a number of<br />

films that have great things to say about both foster care<br />

and <strong>the</strong> closely related subject of adopti<strong>on</strong>. Here are a<br />

handful worth c<strong>on</strong>sidering:<br />


This beloved 1985 two-part, G-rated miniseries<br />

brings <strong>the</strong> equally beloved book series by Lucy Maud<br />

M<strong>on</strong>tgomery to life. Fiery-haired Anne Shirley mistakenly<br />

ends up in <strong>the</strong> care of two elderly siblings <strong>on</strong> Prince<br />

Edward Island in Canada, and nothing is ever <strong>the</strong> same<br />

for any of <strong>the</strong>m again.<br />


This PG-13 drama tells <strong>the</strong> story of troubled, homeless<br />

teen Michael Oher, who’s taken in by a family who<br />

could hardly be more different. The care and love of<br />

Leigh Anne Tuohy (played by Sandra Bullock) transforms<br />

Michael’s life and ultimately c<strong>on</strong>tributes to his<br />

first-round selecti<strong>on</strong> by <strong>the</strong> Baltimore Ravens in <strong>the</strong><br />

2009 NFL draft.<br />

ANNIE<br />

This musical tale of yet ano<strong>the</strong>r red-headed orphan has<br />

captivated audiences in multiple movies since its<br />

1977 Broadway debut. In it, a precocious little girl<br />

named Annie wins <strong>the</strong> heart of hard-driving businessman<br />

Daddy Warbucks.<br />


Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne star in this poignant,<br />

realistic film about a couple who adopt three siblings<br />

through <strong>the</strong> foster care system. Note, however,<br />

said “realism” also involves a lot of language woven<br />

into an o<strong>the</strong>rwise beautiful story, which means<br />

Instant <strong>Family</strong> w<strong>on</strong>’t be for all families.<br />

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


12<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>

Couples<br />

shared<br />

playlists<br />

and podcasts<br />

A marriage insight<br />

from Jenny Nanninga<br />


have managed to stay c<strong>on</strong>nected through<br />

intenti<strong>on</strong>ally sharing our interests. Scott is<br />

an autobody repairman. This allows him<br />

to listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts<br />

while working. Similarly, I often listen to<br />

podcasts while washing dishes or cleaning<br />

house (with <strong>on</strong>ly <strong>on</strong>e earbud in to be <strong>on</strong><br />

alert for <strong>the</strong> needs of our five children).<br />

Because of this, we began recommending<br />

resources to each o<strong>the</strong>r. I’d hear an<br />

excellent presentati<strong>on</strong> <strong>on</strong> home schooling<br />

and tell my husband about it. Then he’d<br />

check it out for himself. Or he might hear a<br />

good serm<strong>on</strong> and share it with me.<br />

In our brief moments after <strong>the</strong> children<br />

are asleep, we often discuss what we’ve<br />

heard. This activity opens avenues for discussi<strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>on</strong> topics ranging from politics<br />

to child-rearing to missi<strong>on</strong>aries to <strong>the</strong>ology<br />

to exercise. We typically d<strong>on</strong>’t have<br />

<strong>the</strong> time to listen toge<strong>the</strong>r, but by listening<br />

at separate times and <strong>the</strong>n coming<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r to talk, we can get to <strong>the</strong> heart of<br />

<strong>the</strong> matter quickly. And doing this creates<br />

a str<strong>on</strong>g b<strong>on</strong>d between us mentally and<br />

intellectually. •<br />

Scott and Jenny<br />

Nanninga<br />


Jenny and Scott Nanninga home-school <strong>the</strong>ir fi v e<br />

daughters. When <strong>the</strong>y aren’t taking care of <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

garden, chickens, bunnies and cats, <strong>the</strong>y can be<br />

found adventuring in nature as a family.<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 13


Arguments<br />

D<strong>on</strong>’t Have to<br />

Tear You Apart<br />

C<strong>on</strong>fl ict can lead you toward<br />

a deeper marriage c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong><br />



MY HUSBAND AND I knew we<br />

were too upset for a c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>—but<br />

we had it anyway. What started as a<br />

tense volley of <strong>on</strong>e-liners devolved into<br />

a yelling match and <strong>the</strong>n <strong>the</strong> ice-cold<br />

silence that often follows our heated<br />

exchanges. By <strong>the</strong> end of <strong>the</strong> evening,<br />

we were both exhausted from <strong>the</strong> tensi<strong>on</strong><br />

and frustrated by our inability to<br />

communicate.<br />

I wish I could say this exchange<br />

happened ages ago. But it didn’t. It<br />

happened last year.<br />

I’ve spent most of my adult life<br />

engaging in <strong>the</strong> dynamics of relati<strong>on</strong>ships—what<br />

works, what doesn’t<br />

and how we move past <strong>the</strong> hurt into<br />

places of vulnerability, c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong><br />

and love. Though I’m a “professi<strong>on</strong>al”<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ship pers<strong>on</strong>, I still find myself<br />

in frustrating situati<strong>on</strong>s with my<br />

husband in which we both feel misunderstood,<br />

unseen and disrespected.<br />

But what made this c<strong>on</strong>flict different<br />

from o<strong>the</strong>rs in <strong>the</strong> past is that we<br />

allowed it to lead us toward, ra<strong>the</strong>r<br />

than away from, deeper places of c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong><br />

and love.<br />

Most of us have experienced<br />

moments of c<strong>on</strong>flict. We try to communicate<br />

our needs or desires to each<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r and end up feeling misunderstood,<br />

or even worse, dismissed. Our<br />

natural reacti<strong>on</strong> is to blow up, shut up<br />

or give up. But <strong>the</strong>re is ano<strong>the</strong>r way. It’s<br />

not about never having a disagreement<br />

or c<strong>on</strong>flict with your spouse; it’s about<br />

what you do after it happens.<br />

Growing closer<br />

after <strong>the</strong> fight<br />

The moment after <strong>the</strong> irritated, raised<br />

voices or cold silence is when we recognize<br />

that we’ve misunderstood each<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r. What we do next is an opportunity<br />

to ei<strong>the</strong>r let <strong>the</strong> argument drive<br />

us apart or bring us toge<strong>the</strong>r. To grow<br />

closer through c<strong>on</strong>flict, we need some<br />

new tools in our relati<strong>on</strong>ship toolbox.<br />

According to Dr. John Gottman,<br />

a marriage <strong>the</strong>rapist, author and<br />

researcher, <strong>on</strong>ly 30% of problems that<br />

couples face are solvable. Perhaps<br />

that’s why we rarely focus <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> real,<br />

unsolvable problem when we argue.<br />

I might feel frustrated because my<br />

spouse always seems to be <strong>on</strong> his cellph<strong>on</strong>e<br />

when we’re talking. But <strong>the</strong><br />

14<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>


problem isn’t necessarily <strong>the</strong> ph<strong>on</strong>e;<br />

it’s <strong>the</strong> fact that I feel disregarded when<br />

I want to c<strong>on</strong>nect with him.<br />

The majority of <strong>the</strong> problems couples<br />

fight about have to do with our<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>alities, wiring or c<strong>on</strong>flicting values.<br />

When we fight, many of us see <strong>on</strong>ly<br />

what is in fr<strong>on</strong>t of us without asking <strong>the</strong><br />

deeper questi<strong>on</strong>s about what is really<br />

upsetting us. Next time you argue with<br />

your spouse, allow curiosity to help you<br />

understand what <strong>the</strong> real problem is.<br />

Curiosity helped me understand that<br />

if my spouse is scrolling <strong>on</strong> his ph<strong>on</strong>e<br />

when I’m trying to talk with him, I interpret<br />

his lack of undivided attenti<strong>on</strong> as a<br />

lack of interest in me. That’s <strong>the</strong> primary<br />

problem. The cellph<strong>on</strong>e is sec<strong>on</strong>dary.<br />

percepti<strong>on</strong>s and interpretati<strong>on</strong>s, we get<br />

in touch with our actual hurts, desires<br />

and l<strong>on</strong>gings. And that is <strong>the</strong> place<br />

where intimacy can grow.<br />

Moving past behaviors<br />

Fighting about behaviors often keeps<br />

us from addressing more vulnerable<br />

issues of desire and need. But breakthrough<br />

moments happen when we’re<br />

willing to move past <strong>the</strong> behaviors into<br />

deeper c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s. Only <strong>the</strong>n can<br />

we open ourselves to each o<strong>the</strong>r with<br />

vulnerability and courage.<br />

For instance, I <strong>on</strong>ce worked with a<br />

couple named Debbie and Mike,* who<br />

were dealing with behavior issues. They<br />

squabbled over weekend plans, social<br />

When we’re curious about our time with o<strong>the</strong>r couples and parenting. >>><br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 15


But bey<strong>on</strong>d <strong>the</strong> behaviors, Debbie was<br />

frustrated that Mike tended to dismiss<br />

her ideas and <strong>the</strong>n resp<strong>on</strong>d defensively<br />

when she tried to bring it up. Mike was<br />

frustrated that Debbie tended to withdraw<br />

and go silent whenever he wanted<br />

to “have it out.”<br />

To move past <strong>the</strong> behavior, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

needed to have deeper c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

about how <strong>the</strong>ir behavior, such<br />

as squabbling over weekend plans,<br />

led to feelings of frustrati<strong>on</strong> and disappointment,<br />

and how each pers<strong>on</strong><br />

was interpreting those feelings. These<br />

moments would happen <strong>on</strong>ly when<br />

Mike (or Debbie) could h<strong>on</strong>estly say,<br />

“When we talked about weekend plans,<br />

I felt frustrated that you walked away.<br />

I interpreted that to mean that you<br />

didn’t care or didn’t want to spend time<br />

with me. Can you help me understand<br />

your perspective?”<br />

C<strong>on</strong>necting through<br />

compromise<br />

C<strong>on</strong>flict feels most threatening when<br />

we lose c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>. When we disagree<br />

and <strong>the</strong>n distance from each o<strong>the</strong>r, fear<br />

and insecurity rise to <strong>the</strong> surface. We<br />

tend to protect ourselves by blaming,<br />

guarding or acquiescing without really<br />

working through <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>flict. But when<br />

we maintain c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>, we are often<br />

able to compromise <strong>on</strong> behaviors to<br />

unite with love.<br />

Closer c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> happens when<br />

we let down our guard and validate <strong>the</strong><br />

o<strong>the</strong>r’s experience. This doesn’t necessarily<br />

mean apologizing, although<br />

sometimes it does. Validating means<br />

seeking to understand <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r pers<strong>on</strong>’s<br />

perspective and choose empathy<br />

that says, “I can see how you would feel<br />

that way” or “Now that I hear your side,<br />

I can see how that would be difficult/<br />

frustrating/disappointing.” Validati<strong>on</strong><br />

is <strong>the</strong> willingness to leave our corner<br />

and say, “I’m open to viewing this<br />

differently.”<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r way we move from defensiveness<br />

toward c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> is by<br />

c<strong>on</strong>veying commitment. C<strong>on</strong>veying<br />

commitment can be as simple as saying,<br />

“I’m <strong>on</strong> your team” or “I’m committed<br />

to us, and I want to work through this.”<br />

When we c<strong>on</strong>vey commitment, we<br />

soo<strong>the</strong> any fears (even irrati<strong>on</strong>al <strong>on</strong>es)<br />

<strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r pers<strong>on</strong> may have about c<strong>on</strong>flict<br />

fracturing <strong>the</strong> relati<strong>on</strong>ship.<br />

Compromise without c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong><br />

feels like losing. Compromise with<br />

c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong> feels like love. This kind of<br />

intimacy happens when we choose to<br />

seek understanding, move past behaviors<br />

and stay c<strong>on</strong>nected even amid<br />

c<strong>on</strong>flict. When we’re c<strong>on</strong>nected, c<strong>on</strong>flict<br />

becomes less scary and love grows<br />

deeper, <strong>on</strong>e c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> at a time. •<br />

*Names and details changed for c<strong>on</strong>fidentiality<br />

Nicole Unice is an author, pastor, leadership<br />

coach and podcast host who helps people<br />

learn how to love <strong>on</strong>e ano<strong>the</strong>r. Her latest<br />

book, The Miracle Moment, guides readers to<br />

transform c<strong>on</strong>flict into c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong>.

Enrich your relati<strong>on</strong>ship by praying as a couple | BY DEAN RIDINGS<br />


DRIVE HOME from a road trip to Oreg<strong>on</strong>. My<br />

wife, Kim, our four kids, and I were packed into our<br />

stati<strong>on</strong> wag<strong>on</strong>, complete with luggage in our rooftop<br />

carrier. Coming out of <strong>the</strong> California mountains, we<br />

passed a semitruck.<br />

So<strong>on</strong> after, a huge sandstorm swept over us. I<br />

couldn’t see ahead or behind us. I slowed <strong>the</strong> car to<br />

a crawl, aware that <strong>the</strong> 18-wheeler wasn’t far behind<br />

us. Trying to keep our own fears in check, Kim and I<br />

worked to calm our panicked kids.<br />

Most memorably, my wife and I cried out to God<br />

for help.<br />

If you’re like me, <strong>the</strong> most natural times to pray<br />

with your spouse are in times of crisis: when you get<br />

a late-night ph<strong>on</strong>e call, doctor’s diagnosis or sudden<br />

urge to say, “Jesus, take <strong>the</strong> wheel!”<br />

But praying toge<strong>the</strong>r can be so much more than that.<br />

Christian couples find greater joy in <strong>the</strong>ir relati<strong>on</strong>ship<br />

with God and each o<strong>the</strong>r when <strong>the</strong>y intenti<strong>on</strong>ally take<br />

time to pray toge<strong>the</strong>r. As Kim and I have made this a<br />

regular practice, we’ve been better able to see each<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r’s hearts, gently realize our own flaws, receive<br />

and extend forgiveness, and grow in intimacy.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> process, we’ve discovered three important,<br />

biblically based prayers to pray toge<strong>the</strong>r:<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 17


“Lord, help<br />

us to seek<br />

You first”<br />

WE BELIEVE that a couple’s most important prayer is to ask God to<br />

help <strong>the</strong>m seek Him first and foremost, individually and as a couple.<br />

Kim and I start by thanking God for our marriage and each o<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

We ask <strong>the</strong> Lord to show us how to h<strong>on</strong>or each o<strong>the</strong>r as individuals<br />

uniquely created in His image. We also ask God to help each of us<br />

thrive in an abiding relati<strong>on</strong>ship with Him.<br />

Then we adapt Paul’s prayers for early church believers. Paul’s<br />

words provide a w<strong>on</strong>derful template for praying that God would give<br />

our spouse wisdom and revelati<strong>on</strong> so our spouse might know Him<br />

better (Ephesians 1:17), that he or she would be filled to <strong>the</strong> measure<br />

of <strong>the</strong> fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19), that good works would<br />

bear fruit as our spouse grows in <strong>the</strong> knowledge of God (Colossians<br />

1:10), and much more.<br />

Finally, in light of challenges of <strong>the</strong> week ahead, we always ask<br />

God to help us cast our cares <strong>on</strong> Him (1 Peter 5:7).<br />

“Lord, we pray<br />

for our family”<br />

IF YOU’RE A PARENT, praying for your children’s<br />

well-being is probably sec<strong>on</strong>d nature. The following<br />

topics and verses can help direct those prayers:<br />

• Kim and I pray for our children’s pers<strong>on</strong>al relati<strong>on</strong>ships<br />

with God through Jesus Christ. Keeping<br />

in mind Joshua’s call to “choose this day whom you<br />

will serve,” we declare as he did, “As for me and my<br />

house, we will serve <strong>the</strong> Lord” (Joshua 24:15).<br />

• We also pray that God would be at <strong>the</strong> center<br />

of our children’s lives. This leads us to think about<br />

what’s going <strong>on</strong> in <strong>the</strong>ir world—at home, school<br />

or work. We also talk to God about our children’s<br />

friends and acquaintances, especially those who<br />

have influence <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir lives.<br />

• Finally, we adapt <strong>the</strong> words found in Deuter<strong>on</strong>omy<br />

6:5-9. In <strong>the</strong>se verses, Moses encourages parents<br />

to impress God’s commandments <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> hearts of<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir children all throughout <strong>the</strong> day: sitting at home,<br />

walking al<strong>on</strong>g <strong>the</strong> road, preparing for bed and rising<br />

in <strong>the</strong> morning. This Scripture feels as relevant today<br />

as it did when it was written. We ask God to help us<br />

live out <strong>the</strong>se words before our children.<br />

In additi<strong>on</strong> to praying for our kids, we pray<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r for our extended families. The idea of<br />

embracing each o<strong>the</strong>r’s extended families is so<br />

important that, whenever I officiate a wedding,<br />

I remind people of Ruth’s beautiful words in Ruth<br />

1:16: “Your people shall be my people.” Ruth made<br />

this promise to her mo<strong>the</strong>r-in-law; how much more<br />

important it is for a bride and groom to embrace<br />

each o<strong>the</strong>r’s extended families.<br />

As you pray for <strong>the</strong> salvati<strong>on</strong> and spiritual growth<br />

of members of your extended families, you’ll draw<br />

closer toge<strong>the</strong>r as a couple as well.<br />

18<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>

Take our<br />

FREE<br />

marriage<br />

assessment<br />

“Lord, show us<br />

how to love our<br />

neighbors”<br />


MENTS are to love God and love<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs (Mat<strong>the</strong>w 22:37-39). Praying<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r for your community is a<br />

w<strong>on</strong>derful way to put <strong>the</strong>se commandments<br />

in acti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Kim and I pray for <strong>the</strong> lost and hurting<br />

in our community, and as <strong>the</strong> Lord<br />

leads, we invite <strong>the</strong>m into our home<br />

(Luke 14:13-14).<br />

We also pray as we walk through<br />

our neighborhood, letting each<br />

house remind us of <strong>the</strong> precious lives<br />

within. When we aren’t aware of specific<br />

needs am<strong>on</strong>g our neighbors, we<br />

pray for <strong>the</strong>ir spiritual health, physical<br />

well-being and <strong>the</strong>ir relati<strong>on</strong>ships with<br />

Jesus and each o<strong>the</strong>r. And when God<br />

brings a Bible passage to mind, we<br />

base our prayers <strong>on</strong> it.<br />

Finally, we keep <strong>the</strong> names of our<br />

immediate neighbors written <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

inside of <strong>on</strong>e of our cabinet doors.<br />

Every time we welcome new neighbors<br />

with fresh-baked goodies, we add <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

names to <strong>the</strong> list. The more we reach<br />

out to our neighbors in <strong>the</strong> day to day,<br />

<strong>the</strong> more <strong>the</strong>y share <strong>the</strong>ir lives with<br />

us, which helps us pray specifically for<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir needs.<br />

Start today!<br />

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

/MarriageAssessment<br />

Now it’s your turn<br />

In case you’re w<strong>on</strong>dering, my family and I made it safely through <strong>the</strong> sandstorm. It<br />

took a while for <strong>the</strong> trembling to stop—but you can imagine how grateful to God<br />

we were as we settled into our hotel room that night.<br />

There’s ano<strong>the</strong>r reas<strong>on</strong> I share this story. Like driving through a sandstorm, praying<br />

with your spouse can feel unfamiliar, challenging, even scary.<br />

Let me encourage you to give it a go anyway.<br />

Scripture tells us that when we pray toge<strong>the</strong>r, God is present, He cares, and He<br />

hears and answers our prayers. What’s more, <strong>the</strong> prayers you say with your spouse<br />

can draw you both closer to God’s heart and to each o<strong>the</strong>r. •<br />

Dean Ridings is a pastor and <strong>the</strong> director of biblical counseling at Calvary Worship Center in Colorado<br />

Springs, Colorado. He’s <strong>the</strong> author of Walking and Talking With God: A simple way to pray every day.


fishing for c<strong>on</strong>necti<strong>on</strong><br />

Understanding my husband’s<br />

hobbies brought us closer toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />



little can prepare stepfamilies for<br />

<strong>the</strong> blended journey. Surprises are<br />

standard. So successful remarriages<br />

require adaptability. For me, this<br />

learning curve first appeared in <strong>the</strong><br />

form of my husband’s interests—<br />

hunting and fishing.<br />

Robbie is a 21st-century Daniel<br />

Bo<strong>on</strong>e. There’s not an animal he can’t<br />

kill, skin and fry up for dinner. I had<br />

never been around an outdoorsman,<br />

and I so<strong>on</strong> realized I was a fish out of<br />

water.<br />

While watching a fishing show<br />

(something Robbie mysteriously finds<br />

entertaining), an angler explained he<br />

was “ripping <strong>the</strong> Rat-L-Trap out of <strong>the</strong><br />

co<strong>on</strong>tails.” My brow crinkled and head<br />

cocked. It sounded like English but<br />

made no sense.<br />

A new language<br />

Outdoorsman talk was a new dialect<br />

of <strong>the</strong> English language for me.<br />

Pers<strong>on</strong>ally, I like reading, writing and<br />

crafting, and I d<strong>on</strong>’t like sweating. So<br />

learning an “outdoorsy” lingo and lifestyle<br />

wasn’t my idea of fun. But I did<br />

know I loved this man, and if being<br />

closer to him meant giving up a little<br />

comfort, I felt <strong>the</strong> extra work was<br />

worth it.<br />

I started my new educati<strong>on</strong> by asking<br />

lots of questi<strong>on</strong>s. “What’s a Shakey<br />

Jighead? What’s a Whopper Plopper?<br />

How does a deer rut?”<br />

At times, learning <strong>the</strong> jarg<strong>on</strong> was<br />

exhausting, and I often felt stupid.<br />

Robbie was c<strong>on</strong>fused by my ignorance,<br />

thinking every<strong>on</strong>e knew <strong>the</strong>se terms.<br />

But in order to communicate, fellowship<br />

and encourage this man, I had to<br />

learn his mysterious language. And<br />

so<strong>on</strong> he even enjoyed imparting his<br />

knowledge to me, an eager listener.<br />

Speaking his language<br />

Eventually, I organized a fishing trip for<br />

our anniversary. Robbie teemed with<br />

pride when I caught a 6-pound trout.<br />

I’ve never seen him more in love.<br />

Now, years later, I’m still not outdoorsy.<br />

I d<strong>on</strong>’t anticipate deer seas<strong>on</strong><br />

or practice duck calls. I’ve gained new<br />

experiences, though, including shooting<br />

guns at <strong>the</strong> range and reloading<br />

ammo. But <strong>the</strong> greatest gain is <strong>the</strong> ability<br />

to talk to my husband about what<br />

he loves, and best of all, catch that penetrating<br />

glimmer in his eyes when I<br />

join him <strong>on</strong> his adventures. •<br />

Sabrina McD<strong>on</strong>ald is <strong>the</strong> author of Write God<br />

In Deeper: Journal your way to a richer faith.<br />


20<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>

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

a way forward<br />

A spiritual insight from <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> leadership<br />



AS A THERAPIST, I’ve encountered<br />

people who find it difficult to<br />

break <strong>the</strong>ir own destructive patterns.<br />

They’re used to behaving <strong>on</strong>e way, and<br />

<strong>the</strong>y c<strong>on</strong>tinue those habits, despite<br />

receiving an invitati<strong>on</strong> to wholeness.<br />

One young woman told me she was<br />

comfortable with what she knew and<br />

did not see herself being able to change.<br />

Perhaps we all have a tendency to do<br />

that, to c<strong>on</strong>tinue doing things <strong>the</strong> way<br />

we’ve always d<strong>on</strong>e <strong>the</strong>m, even though<br />

<strong>the</strong> results are not what we want. But<br />

1 Peter 1:13-25 presents a way forward<br />

for Christians who want to move toward<br />

healthier patterns of living. Because<br />

our acti<strong>on</strong>s follow our thoughts, Peter<br />

encourages us to prepare our minds.<br />

Then he tells us to c<strong>on</strong>sciously set<br />

our hope in Christ Jesus, not in our circumstances<br />

or <strong>the</strong> people around us.<br />

The goal is to be holy through <strong>the</strong> holiness<br />

of Christ. Here are a few questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

to ask yourself:<br />

Is my life governed by <strong>the</strong><br />

directi<strong>on</strong> of <strong>the</strong> Holy Spirit?<br />

(Psalm 105:4; John 15)<br />

Do I take <strong>the</strong> time to prepare<br />

my mind to dem<strong>on</strong>strate godly<br />

acti<strong>on</strong>s each week?<br />

(Colossians 3:16)<br />

Do I work to au<strong>the</strong>ntically<br />

love o<strong>the</strong>rs in <strong>the</strong> day to day?<br />

Am I life-affirming to o<strong>the</strong>rs?<br />

(John 7:38)<br />

The point is to view life in light of<br />

God’s truth, which we find in His Word.<br />

Bible reading helps us take a l<strong>on</strong>g-term<br />

view of what God can do—in our decisi<strong>on</strong>s,<br />

directi<strong>on</strong>s and relati<strong>on</strong>ships.<br />

So, to live in a way that allows me<br />

to adjust and c<strong>on</strong>tinue to abide in<br />

Christ’s holiness, I spend time in<br />

God’s Word and trust <strong>the</strong> Holy Spirit<br />

to equip me for every good work He’s<br />

prepared for me (2 Timothy 3:16-17).<br />

Jesus said in John 15:5, “Apart from<br />

me you can do nothing.” The path<br />

forward may not be comfortable or<br />

familiar, but it leads to wholeness and<br />

purpose in Jesus every day. •<br />

Dr. Daniel Huerta is <strong>the</strong> vice president of<br />

Parenting and Youth at <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>.<br />

He is a psychologist, a licensed clinical social<br />

worker and <strong>the</strong> author of 7 Traits of Effective<br />

Parenting.<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 21


scrappy<br />

hospitality<br />

Show Christ’s<br />

love by building<br />

relati<strong>on</strong>ships with<br />

neighbors who<br />

d<strong>on</strong>’t think like you<br />





ARE DESIGNED to encourage<br />

friendship. We live in <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

Our driveway is a cement canvas for<br />

budding chalk artists, and our 4-foot<br />

backyard fence allows jumping chihuahuas<br />

to greet energetic poodles. The<br />

kids play toge<strong>the</strong>r, running between<br />

yards and entering each o<strong>the</strong>r’s<br />

homes as if <strong>the</strong>y were <strong>the</strong>ir own. The<br />

neighborhood pool has become <strong>the</strong><br />

impromptu social ga<strong>the</strong>ring for introverts<br />

and extroverts alike. The problem<br />

is, no real relati<strong>on</strong>ships form by just<br />

talking about sports and <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Not l<strong>on</strong>g after moving to this neighborhood,<br />

my wife, Lisa, and I were<br />

invited to a neighbor’s house for dinner.<br />

We were pretty sure <strong>the</strong> family wasn’t<br />

Christian. Everything went well until,<br />

Brian, <strong>the</strong> fa<strong>the</strong>r of <strong>the</strong> family, asked<br />

who I voted for in <strong>the</strong> last electi<strong>on</strong>.<br />

“Who did I vote for?” I stalled. I<br />

wanted to answer in a way that showed<br />

Brian <strong>the</strong> love of Christ, whe<strong>the</strong>r we<br />

voted <strong>the</strong> same or differently. After<br />

explaining my reas<strong>on</strong>ing, I eventually<br />

told him.<br />

He smiled. “I voted for <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r guy.”<br />

Our c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> c<strong>on</strong>tinued, and<br />

we talked about <strong>the</strong> why behind our<br />

electi<strong>on</strong> choices. At <strong>the</strong> core, we both<br />

wanted what was good for <strong>the</strong> people<br />

in our country. Since <strong>the</strong>n, Brian and<br />

I have had many meals toge<strong>the</strong>r and<br />

many c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

Granted, not all relati<strong>on</strong>ships go<br />

this way. So when faced with people<br />

who believe differently from us—politically,<br />

socially, spiritually—I now<br />

apply four principles to show <strong>the</strong>m<br />

Christ’s light and love.<br />

22<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>


Respect<br />

I do my best to treat every pers<strong>on</strong> I<br />

talk to with dignity, remembering that<br />

he or she is made in God’s image. As<br />

<strong>the</strong> apostle Paul said, “Let your reas<strong>on</strong>ableness<br />

be known to every<strong>on</strong>e”<br />

(Philippians 4:5).<br />

Showing o<strong>the</strong>rs respect allows people<br />

to be vulnerable without feeling<br />

judged. And if anything shuts down a<br />

c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>, it’s when some<strong>on</strong>e feels<br />

c<strong>on</strong>demned or judged.<br />

Lisa and I c<strong>on</strong>sider inviting neighbors<br />

into our home to be an act of<br />

“scrappy hospitality.” Recently, my wife<br />

hosted a ga<strong>the</strong>ring at our house. One<br />

of <strong>the</strong> neighbors c<strong>on</strong>fessed how she<br />

was drunk <strong>the</strong> previous night and was<br />

still experiencing a hangover. Her kids<br />

were playing with ours in <strong>the</strong> driveway<br />

while she was talking about her<br />

half-remembered evening. Lisa asked<br />

her if she was doing OK and if we could<br />

help with anything.<br />

“No,” she said, and <strong>the</strong>n admitted,<br />

“my grandparents and parents are in<br />

<strong>the</strong> hospital with COVID. I think I’m<br />

having trouble processing that.” This<br />

was no time to c<strong>on</strong>demn her behavior.<br />

Our friend needed gentle support that<br />

made her feel respected and heard.<br />

Investment<br />

Lisa and I are c<strong>on</strong>vinced that <strong>the</strong>re is<br />

something sacred about our driveway<br />

because some of <strong>the</strong> most important<br />

people sit <strong>the</strong>re. When our children are<br />

playing with neighborhood kids, we<br />

invite o<strong>the</strong>r parents over. This is where<br />

we keep c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s going. We check<br />

<strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> status of <strong>the</strong>ir job, upcoming<br />

weddings or anything else that’s<br />

pressing to <strong>the</strong>m. The playing children<br />

are a welcome distracti<strong>on</strong>. Watching<br />

<strong>the</strong>m <strong>on</strong> scooters brings levity to some<br />

of <strong>the</strong> most important topics.<br />

Short, quick interacti<strong>on</strong>s do not<br />

build trust. L<strong>on</strong>g, intenti<strong>on</strong>al c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

do. And some of <strong>the</strong> best ways<br />

to initiate relati<strong>on</strong>ships are as simple<br />

as walking around <strong>the</strong> neighborhood<br />

or sitting in <strong>the</strong> bleachers during soccer<br />

practice. If we put our ph<strong>on</strong>es away<br />

and give people more than a hand<br />

wave, our relati<strong>on</strong>ships are better able<br />

to withstand disagreements.<br />

Vulnerability<br />

After I pulled into <strong>the</strong> garage from a<br />

four-day work trip, <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong> neighbor’s<br />

kids opened <strong>the</strong> door from<br />

inside my house to greet me before<br />

my own children did. >>><br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 23


Amy Lively explains how to cultivate<br />

community and share <strong>the</strong> love of<br />

Christ with your neighbors.<br />

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

“Hi, Mr. Prest<strong>on</strong>,” she said.<br />

“Hi, Ava! Thanks for holding <strong>the</strong> door<br />

open for me.”<br />

Ava’s family members aren’t<br />

Christians. One of <strong>the</strong> best ways we<br />

can rebuild <strong>the</strong> impressi<strong>on</strong> Ava’s parents<br />

have of Jesus is by welcoming<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir children as He would.<br />

I’m grateful Jesus has a special place<br />

in His heart for children because children<br />

d<strong>on</strong>’t judge <strong>the</strong> cleanliness of<br />

our houses. If anything, <strong>the</strong>y judge <strong>the</strong><br />

openness of our homes.<br />

Interest<br />

Years ago, when my family and I first<br />

moved to Denver, I was talking with<br />

<strong>on</strong>e of our neighbors who was walking<br />

his dog. But really, I wasn’t all that<br />

interested in what he did for a living.<br />

Like an overzealous church planter,<br />

I couldn’t wait to tell him that we were<br />

starting a local faith community.<br />

“So what do you do?” he finally asked.<br />

“We moved here to start a church,”<br />

I told him.<br />

His eyes glazed over. “A church?” He<br />

gave a light tug <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> leash to indicate<br />

to his resting dog that <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong><br />

was over. It was time to leave.<br />

I’ve replayed that exchange numerous<br />

times in my head. Every time, I’m<br />

reminded that I was so excited to talk<br />

about myself that it kept me from getting<br />

to know him better.<br />

People can tell when we are generally<br />

interested in <strong>the</strong>m. To seem more interested<br />

in people, we have to be more<br />

interested in <strong>the</strong>m. To seem curious, we<br />

have to be curious. To look as if we’re<br />

listening, we have to actually listen.<br />

One of <strong>the</strong> ways to keep neighbors<br />

in <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> is resisting <strong>the</strong><br />

temptati<strong>on</strong> to talk about ourselves too<br />

much or give unsolicited opini<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

C<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s are supposed to be how<br />

we c<strong>on</strong>tinue relati<strong>on</strong>ships, not how we<br />

end <strong>the</strong>m. Disagreements d<strong>on</strong>’t have<br />

to result in a break in <strong>the</strong> relati<strong>on</strong>ship,<br />

just a break in <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Perhaps <strong>on</strong>e of Jesus’ most intriguing<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>ality traits was that He asked<br />

questi<strong>on</strong>s. He was always listening to<br />

His Fa<strong>the</strong>r and to those around Him.<br />

My daughter Piper’s third grade<br />

teacher lives across <strong>the</strong> street from us.<br />

Her s<strong>on</strong>, James, is <strong>on</strong>e of Piper’s best<br />

friends. Although James and his family<br />

are not Christians, we have seen <strong>the</strong>m<br />

have an increasing interest in Jesus’<br />

way of living. The impromptu driveway<br />

talks, random dinner parties and intenti<strong>on</strong>al<br />

c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s have created a safe<br />

space for <strong>the</strong>m to explore Jesus. And<br />

whe<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>y ever think like us will not<br />

determine our commitment to <strong>the</strong>m. •<br />

Prest<strong>on</strong> Ulmer is <strong>the</strong> founder and director of <strong>the</strong><br />

Doubters’ Club, an organizati<strong>on</strong> that teaches<br />

people, regardless of <strong>the</strong>ir beliefs, to be kind to<br />

<strong>on</strong>e ano<strong>the</strong>r and pursue truth toge<strong>the</strong>r. He’s also<br />

<strong>the</strong> director of <strong>the</strong> Church Multiplicati<strong>on</strong> Network,<br />

<strong>the</strong> church planting arm of <strong>the</strong> Assemblies of<br />

God and <strong>the</strong> author of The Doubters’ Club.<br />

24<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>




The Stier family’s<br />

journey from<br />

body builders to<br />

bold evangelists<br />



Greg Stier<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 25

Greg and his mo<strong>the</strong>r<br />


YEARS OLD when he noticed an<br />

unfamiliar car pull up in fr<strong>on</strong>t of <strong>the</strong><br />

box-brick duplex his family rented in<br />

crime-ridden north Denver. He immediately<br />

called for his mo<strong>the</strong>r. Since<br />

gang members were known to hang<br />

out in <strong>the</strong> neighborhood, she’d warned<br />

him to watch out for strangers.<br />

But this time Greg recognized <strong>the</strong><br />

driver.<br />

“Ma, <strong>on</strong>e of my daddies is here,” he<br />

said. His mo<strong>the</strong>r, Shirley, stood at <strong>the</strong><br />

kitchen window, where she’d been<br />

washing dishes. A cigarette hung from<br />

her mouth.<br />

“Paul,” his mo<strong>the</strong>r growled. “That<br />

jerk!”<br />

Shirley’s husband had walked out<br />

<strong>on</strong> her and her two s<strong>on</strong>s <strong>on</strong>ly a few<br />

m<strong>on</strong>ths earlier. Paul was back now,<br />

looking to claim a tax return check.<br />

“Where’s <strong>the</strong> bat?” Shirley asked. In<br />

reply, Greg held up a small plastic bat<br />

that he often played with. Shirley had<br />

something else in mind. She reached<br />

behind <strong>the</strong> fr<strong>on</strong>t door, pulled out a<br />

Louisville Slugger and stormed out<br />

of <strong>the</strong> house, cursing and shouting at<br />

Paul. She shattered Paul’s windshield,<br />

knocked <strong>the</strong> side-view mirrors loose<br />

and left dents around <strong>the</strong> vehicle.<br />

Paul jumped out of <strong>the</strong> car to stop<br />

her, but he never stood a chance.<br />

Shirley bloodied him with <strong>the</strong> bat until<br />

he climbed back in his car and fled.<br />

“I remember thinking,” Greg says, “as<br />

she walked up that sidewalk with <strong>the</strong><br />

bloody, splintered bat, I will never disobey<br />

my mommy again.”<br />

A family of fighters<br />

His mo<strong>the</strong>r’s entire family was tough.<br />

Her five bro<strong>the</strong>rs were body building,<br />

street-fighting siblings, dubbed by <strong>the</strong><br />

Denver Mafia as “<strong>the</strong> crazy bro<strong>the</strong>rs.”<br />

Five-year-old Greg saw with his own<br />

eyes his family’s penchant for violence.<br />

Not <strong>on</strong>ly did his mo<strong>the</strong>r beat her husband<br />

with a bat, but his uncle Jack also<br />

spent time in jail for choking two cops<br />

who tried to arrest him, and his uncle<br />

Bob nearly beat a man to death.<br />

Greg, however, was different. Ra<strong>the</strong>r<br />

than fighting, he preferred to crawl<br />

under <strong>the</strong> kitchen sink or behind <strong>the</strong><br />

couch to read books. One Christmas,<br />

when Greg was <strong>on</strong>ly 6, his uncle Dave<br />

mocked him as a sissy by giving him a<br />

girl’s doll. When Greg reacted in anger,<br />

Uncle Dave applauded him.<br />

“Well,” he said, “maybe he’s <strong>on</strong>e of us<br />

after all.”<br />

“I was not a tough kid,” Greg admits,<br />

“and I didn’t know how I got into this<br />

family.”<br />

By <strong>the</strong> end of <strong>the</strong> decade that followed,<br />

that same family was barely<br />

recognizable. Greg watched how God<br />

transformed <strong>the</strong> lot of <strong>the</strong>m from a<br />

gang of lawbreaking street brawlers into<br />

a family filled with passi<strong>on</strong> for Jesus.<br />

“Take out <strong>the</strong> toughest guy”<br />

To win Greg’s family to Christ, God used<br />

<strong>the</strong> faithful witness of a tough Sou<strong>the</strong>rn<br />

preacher known in <strong>the</strong> community as<br />

Yankee. Born to a counterfeiting and<br />

bootlegging fa<strong>the</strong>r, Yankee came to faith<br />

in Christ at age 18, attended Bible college<br />

and eventually planted a church in<br />

<strong>the</strong> Denver suburb of Arvada. There he<br />

met a man who knew Greg’s family.<br />

This man dared Yankee to share<br />

<strong>the</strong> Gospel with <strong>the</strong>m, and Yankee<br />

accepted <strong>the</strong> challenge. He started<br />

with <strong>the</strong> toughest <strong>on</strong>e of all, and when<br />

Greg’s uncle Jack came to faith, <strong>the</strong><br />

o<strong>the</strong>r dominoes started to fall.<br />

“It was like a gang fight,” Greg says.<br />

“Take out <strong>the</strong> toughest guy, and every<strong>on</strong>e<br />

else gives in. . . . So, praise <strong>the</strong> Lord,<br />

<strong>the</strong> whole family came to Christ.”<br />

Greg himself accepted Jesus as his<br />

Savior at age 8, and as he matured<br />

as a believer, Yankee taught him<br />

how to share his faith with enthusiasm<br />

and preach serm<strong>on</strong>s that led <strong>the</strong><br />

lost to repentance. Later, Greg even<br />

26<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>


participated in preaching competiti<strong>on</strong>s<br />

through his Christian high school.<br />

In his latest book, Unlikely Fighter,<br />

Greg admits, “Having struggled all my<br />

life with feeling like a misfit in my own<br />

family, I had a burning desire for both<br />

peer acceptance and adult approval<br />

coursing through my veins. That was<br />

<strong>on</strong>e of my underlying drives behind<br />

. . . my desire to be an award-winning<br />

preacher and spiritual leader.”<br />

Greg wasn’t al<strong>on</strong>e in his evangelistic<br />

zeal. O<strong>the</strong>r members of his family<br />

earned a reputati<strong>on</strong> for sharing Christ<br />

without shame—and often with flare.<br />

For example, Greg’s bro<strong>the</strong>r, Doug,<br />

<strong>on</strong>ce pulled up his bicycle al<strong>on</strong>gside a<br />

car full of young men at <strong>the</strong> stoplight<br />

of a busy intersecti<strong>on</strong>. Doug began to<br />

share <strong>the</strong> Good News but couldn’t finish<br />

before <strong>the</strong> light turned green. So he<br />

grabbed hold of <strong>the</strong> car as it accelerated<br />

to nearly 40 miles an hour. Doug<br />

pedaled and preached as he held <strong>on</strong> to<br />

<strong>the</strong> car, not letting go until he finished<br />

his Gospel presentati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

When Greg heard what his older<br />

bro<strong>the</strong>r had d<strong>on</strong>e, he reprimanded<br />

him. “You could have been pulled<br />

under <strong>the</strong> tires and killed,” Greg said.<br />

Doug simply replied, “Those guys<br />

need to know Jesus.”<br />

On ano<strong>the</strong>r occasi<strong>on</strong>, Uncle Jack<br />

shared Christ with ano<strong>the</strong>r body<br />

builder at <strong>the</strong> gym. Jack hadn’t been<br />

a Christian very l<strong>on</strong>g, and he hadn’t<br />

quite overcome all of his rough-andtumble<br />

habits. As he shared <strong>the</strong> Gospel,<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r man began to jeer at him and<br />

interrupt <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

“I’m trying to tell this guy about <strong>the</strong><br />

love of Jesus,” Jack said. “Why d<strong>on</strong>’t<br />

you shut your stinking mouth?” If<br />

<strong>the</strong> man didn’t stop, Jack warned, he<br />

would take him down.<br />

When <strong>the</strong> heckler c<strong>on</strong>tinued to<br />

interrupt <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>, Jack made<br />

good <strong>on</strong> his threat. A powerful right<br />

hook sent <strong>the</strong> message that Jack wasn’t<br />

kidding around.<br />

“Jesus didn’t go around hitting people,”<br />

<strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r man protested.<br />

“Well, I ain’t Jesus,” he replied. “I’m<br />

Jack.”<br />

Greg's uncle Larry<br />

Greg's uncle Jack<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 27


And <strong>the</strong>n <strong>the</strong>re were two<br />

While most of Greg’s family members<br />

were transformed from <strong>the</strong> inside<br />

out, <strong>the</strong>re remained two holdouts who<br />

resisted <strong>the</strong> call to faith: Greg’s uncle<br />

Richard, who lived out of state, and his<br />

mo<strong>the</strong>r, Shirley.<br />

“My mom never thought God could<br />

forgive her,” Greg says. On many occasi<strong>on</strong>s,<br />

he recalls, his mo<strong>the</strong>r would cry<br />

when she looked at Greg.<br />

“I’m a bum,” she would say. “I’m<br />

nothing but a no-good bum.” When<br />

Greg was older, his grandmo<strong>the</strong>r<br />

revealed that his mo<strong>the</strong>r’s fits of rage<br />

and sadness grew from <strong>the</strong> shame of<br />

an unplanned pregnancy and that<br />

Shirley nearly had an aborti<strong>on</strong> before<br />

changing her mind. The child she carried<br />

was Greg, and <strong>the</strong> shame made<br />

her slow to turn to Christ.<br />

“He’d never accept me into His family,”<br />

Shirley told Greg. But her s<strong>on</strong><br />

refused to give up. One day, when Greg<br />

was 15 years old, he <strong>on</strong>ce more urged<br />

his mo<strong>the</strong>r to follow Christ and find<br />

forgiveness for her sins. After listening<br />

<strong>on</strong>ce again, she took a drag <strong>on</strong> her cigarette<br />

and looked off into <strong>the</strong> distance.<br />

At last she spoke: “I’m in.”<br />

That same year, Greg’s grandfa<strong>the</strong>r<br />

died, and his uncles encouraged Greg to<br />

preach <strong>the</strong> serm<strong>on</strong> at <strong>the</strong> funeral. They<br />

all wanted his uncle Richard—<strong>the</strong> family’s<br />

last remaining holdout—to hear<br />

<strong>the</strong> Gospel, and <strong>the</strong>y knew Greg could<br />

share it better than any<strong>on</strong>e in <strong>the</strong> family.<br />

Standing in fr<strong>on</strong>t of some 500 guests<br />

at <strong>the</strong> funeral, Greg proclaimed <strong>the</strong><br />

message of salvati<strong>on</strong>. He spoke for half<br />

an hour, and when he called <strong>on</strong> those<br />

ga<strong>the</strong>red to turn to Christ, many did.<br />

But Uncle Richard was unc<strong>on</strong>vinced,<br />

arms folded, staring at Greg and shaking<br />

his head. He refused <strong>the</strong> call of<br />

Christ that day, though God used Greg<br />

to lead Uncle Richard to faith 12 years<br />

later as his uncle was dying of cancer.<br />

Even as Uncle Richard remained<br />

unmoved, Greg Stier discovered his<br />

true calling in life during those 30 minutes<br />

in <strong>the</strong> pulpit.<br />

A new family trait<br />

From that point <strong>on</strong>, Greg never hesitated<br />

to share his faith. “If you found<br />

<strong>the</strong> cure to cancer and everybody had<br />

cancer,” he asks, “why wouldn’t you<br />

tell everybody?”<br />

Yankee and o<strong>the</strong>rs taught him that<br />

sin and its c<strong>on</strong>sequences were as bad<br />

as, or worse than, cancer, and <strong>the</strong>y<br />

instilled in him a sense of evangelistic<br />

urgency. He had seen for himself how<br />

Christ could transform an entire family,<br />

and it stirred up his passi<strong>on</strong> for <strong>the</strong> lost.<br />

Greg writes in Unlikely Fighter that<br />

it wasn’t just urgency that lit up his<br />

preaching. It was <strong>the</strong> surety that <strong>the</strong><br />

Gospel could change lives (as it did in<br />

his), change families (as it did in his),<br />

and change entire cities, as Greg seeks<br />

to do today through Dare 2 Share, a<br />

global ministry he started that mobilizes<br />

teenagers to share <strong>the</strong> Gospel<br />

around <strong>the</strong> world. Dare 2 Share equips<br />

youth leaders to build evangelism programs<br />

in <strong>the</strong>ir churches and train teens<br />

to share <strong>the</strong>ir faith with <strong>the</strong>ir peers.<br />

“Every teen everywhere” is <strong>the</strong> Dare 2<br />

Share motto that encourages Christian<br />

teens to share <strong>the</strong> Gospel with a friend.<br />

“We’ve trained milli<strong>on</strong>s of teenagers<br />

and youth leaders how to share <strong>the</strong><br />

Gospel,” Greg says, “how to build what<br />

we call a Gospel-advancing ministry,<br />

and to see <strong>the</strong>mselves as missi<strong>on</strong>aries<br />

<strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir campuses, with <strong>the</strong>ir classmates<br />

and teammates.”<br />

Perhaps Greg didn’t inherit his<br />

Uncle Jack’s natural grit and aggressi<strong>on</strong><br />

or his bro<strong>the</strong>r Doug’s fearlessness<br />

and intensity, but his flare for telling<br />

people about Jesus’ love is now a<br />

Spirit-inspired, family trait that Greg<br />

can call his own. •<br />

Benjamin Hawkins is a freelance writer and<br />

associate editor of The Pathway, <strong>the</strong> news<br />

journal of <strong>the</strong> Missouri Baptist C<strong>on</strong>venti<strong>on</strong>.<br />


Read <strong>the</strong> incredible story of how God transformed<br />

Greg Stier’s family of bullies to become bold<br />

witnesses to <strong>the</strong> power of <strong>the</strong> Gospel.<br />

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

28<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>


Faces of<br />

Foster Care<br />

Snapshots of fi ve kids who grew<br />

up in <strong>the</strong> foster care system<br />




Some kids need temporary care so<br />

<strong>the</strong>y can be returned to <strong>the</strong>ir biological<br />

parents. O<strong>the</strong>rs need to be adopted<br />

into forever homes. For some kids, a<br />

foster home is a loving refuge from a<br />

dangerous living situati<strong>on</strong>. For o<strong>the</strong>rs,<br />

it’s a c<strong>on</strong>fusing, scary experience<br />

that does little to reinforce feelings of<br />

acceptance or security.<br />

But many foster care stories have<br />

elements in comm<strong>on</strong>, too. A couple of<br />

things come to mind: 1) Fostering kids<br />

in need is typically “messy” because<br />

it involves fractured families, and 2)<br />

every child in foster care needs—and<br />

deserves—to be loved and valued as<br />

God’s child.<br />

The following stories were written by<br />

people who spent some of <strong>the</strong>ir childhoods<br />

in foster care. These stories are<br />

powerful reminders that foster care<br />

isn’t about an instituti<strong>on</strong>, but individuals.<br />

They also remind us that when<br />

good people care for hurting children<br />

for <strong>the</strong> right reas<strong>on</strong>s, precious lives are<br />

impacted—sometimes for eternity.>>><br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 29


Just Wanting<br />

a Home<br />


AFTER THE DEATH OF MY MOTHER and <strong>the</strong><br />

aband<strong>on</strong>ment of my stepfa<strong>the</strong>r, my older bro<strong>the</strong>r,<br />

Dave, found a family, <strong>the</strong> Reils, who would take in my<br />

siblings and me. While living with a family I didn’t<br />

know wasn’t my first choice, I took comfort in <strong>the</strong> fact<br />

that we wouldn’t be split up.<br />

The Reils had a simple routine. We ate cinnam<strong>on</strong><br />

and sugar <strong>on</strong> toast with instant hot chocolate for<br />

breakfast, every breakfast. In <strong>the</strong> evenings, <strong>the</strong> family<br />

would listen to <strong>the</strong> radio, talk and smoke.<br />

In <strong>on</strong>e of my initial visits with our social worker,<br />

she said, “Jimmy, Mr. Reil claims you tried to kill him.”<br />

“Me? But . . . I’m 10 years old! How?”<br />

She leaned forward, raised an eyebrow and said,<br />

“Mr. Reil claims you tried to push him off of a cliff.”<br />

We were living in <strong>the</strong> desert. There were no cliffs for<br />

miles. My heart started bumping in my chest.<br />

She explained that Mr. Reil was going senile and<br />

we had two opti<strong>on</strong>s: “We can keep you guys toge<strong>the</strong>r,<br />

and you can hunker down here until we find ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

soluti<strong>on</strong>. If so, I’ll do what I can to make sure Mr. Reil<br />

understands you d<strong>on</strong>’t mean him any harm. Or we<br />

can separate you and place you into <strong>the</strong> appropriate<br />

foster care homes for your respective ages.”<br />

I didn’t like <strong>the</strong> sound of ei<strong>the</strong>r of those opti<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

But I stayed.<br />

Life with <strong>the</strong> Reils never felt like home to me. I was<br />

thankful for a roof over my head, a place to ba<strong>the</strong> and<br />

food to eat. But I never felt settled. I certainly didn’t<br />

feel loved. I always felt like an undesirable guest.<br />

Jim Daly is <strong>the</strong> president of <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>. This story is<br />

adapted from his book Finding Home, a <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong><br />

publicati<strong>on</strong>. All rights reserved.<br />



Read Jim Daly's full story.<br />

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

30<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>



Dr. Sharen Ford shares ways to<br />

help children in foster care.<br />

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

Calling Them<br />

Mom and Dad<br />




TRICITY, and <strong>the</strong>re wasn’t enough food. The trailer<br />

where we lived wasn’t a safe space, and my parents<br />

struggled to care for me. When some<strong>on</strong>e gave my<br />

mo<strong>the</strong>r a lift from town back to our trailer, <strong>the</strong> dangerous<br />

c<strong>on</strong>diti<strong>on</strong>s in which we lived came to light—and<br />

<strong>the</strong> authorities stepped in.<br />

Kinship care<br />

For years, I bounced back and forth between my parents<br />

and foster care. When I was 3, my fa<strong>the</strong>r passed<br />

away. Three years later, my mo<strong>the</strong>r passed away, too.<br />

I moved into kinship care, which is care provided<br />

by relatives. My grandmo<strong>the</strong>r took me in, but when<br />

she had a stroke, I was moved into <strong>the</strong> home of<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r relative and <strong>the</strong>n ano<strong>the</strong>r and ano<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

The bouncing around c<strong>on</strong>tinued until I was 18 and<br />

aged out of <strong>the</strong> system.<br />

Foster families<br />

Sometimes I didn’t live with relatives, but with foster<br />

families. These experiences were <strong>the</strong> most meaningful<br />

to me. I felt safe. I knew <strong>the</strong>re was enough food.<br />

I had clean clo<strong>the</strong>s, a warm bed and people around<br />

me who made me feel secure.<br />

One of my favorite memories is sitting at <strong>the</strong><br />

counter in <strong>the</strong> kitchen of a new foster family as <strong>the</strong><br />

woman explained that I could call her and her husband<br />

Mom and Dad if I wanted to.<br />

Being able to call some<strong>on</strong>e Mom and Dad may<br />

seem like a simple thing, but those words mean that<br />

you are part of a family. That you are loved, wanted,<br />

cared for. That no matter what happens, you have<br />

some<strong>on</strong>e to go to.<br />

After I left that family, I never called any<strong>on</strong>e Mom<br />

or Dad again.<br />

Aging out<br />

When I aged out of <strong>the</strong> system, I went <strong>on</strong> to college<br />

and <strong>the</strong>n work. At first I floundered, but God found me,<br />

and I learned during those years when I felt so al<strong>on</strong>e<br />

that He was with me. And when I became a Christian,<br />

I discovered a huge network of church family.<br />

Today, my husband and I plan to adopt from foster<br />

care so we can be Mom and Dad to kids who<br />

need a safe, loving family. And we c<strong>on</strong>sistently pray<br />

for <strong>the</strong> thousands of o<strong>the</strong>r children and youth in <strong>the</strong><br />

system. >>><br />

Helen Richards<strong>on</strong> is <strong>the</strong> manager of Foster Care and Adopti<strong>on</strong><br />

at <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>. She is an advocate for kids in foster care.<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 31


Never<br />

Forgotten<br />


OUR MOTHER HAD PROMISED she would be<br />

back so<strong>on</strong>, but that felt like forever ago as my bro<strong>the</strong>r,<br />

Anth<strong>on</strong>y, and I lay <strong>on</strong> a pile of cardboard boxes in <strong>the</strong><br />

corner of an aband<strong>on</strong>ed apartment complex.<br />

Anth<strong>on</strong>y was 4, and I was 5. Food was hard to come<br />

by. Strangers came and went. O<strong>the</strong>rs milled around<br />

claiming <strong>the</strong>ir own spots.<br />

Protective care<br />

Sirens rang loud in <strong>the</strong> night. I was used to that, but<br />

<strong>the</strong>n beams of flashlights were everywhere. Two<br />

policemen found us. We spent <strong>the</strong> rest of <strong>the</strong> night<br />

sleeping ei<strong>the</strong>r in <strong>the</strong> back of <strong>the</strong>ir car or inside <strong>the</strong><br />

police stati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

I was scared. So was Anth<strong>on</strong>y. We had no idea what<br />

was going <strong>on</strong>. We wanted our mo<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Eventually, we were taken to a house where we<br />

weren’t allowed to hang out with <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r kids in <strong>the</strong><br />

home. Every night for two weeks, I sat <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> edge of<br />

my bed and wailed for my mo<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

On July 5, 2000, a social worker came to our temporary<br />

shelter and took us to our placement. My bro<strong>the</strong>r<br />

and I grabbed our trash bags of bel<strong>on</strong>gings. Anth<strong>on</strong>y<br />

and I went for a ride and were dropped off at <strong>the</strong> door<br />

of an unfamiliar house.<br />

My foster family<br />

Inside, we discovered a foster family that cared<br />

about us.<br />

Three years and a l<strong>on</strong>g custody battle later, Anth<strong>on</strong>y<br />

and I were given <strong>the</strong> right to stay in that home and<br />

become Moores. We were adopted <strong>on</strong> <strong>April</strong> 2, 2003,<br />

and it was <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong> best days of my life.<br />

In spite of all I experienced, I realize now that<br />

God never forgot about me or left me. He had a plan<br />

and purpose for my life, a plan and purpose that is<br />

still unfolding.<br />

Though it took me a few painful years to find healing,<br />

I am now 26 and married to my best friend and<br />

beautiful wife. We own our own home and are dog<br />

owners of <strong>the</strong> cutest goldendoodle.<br />

I thank God for all He has d<strong>on</strong>e and is doing in<br />

my life.<br />

I am blessed.<br />

Christopher Moore works in home renovati<strong>on</strong>s and with a<br />

church youth group.<br />


32<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>


Breaking<br />

<strong>the</strong> Cycle<br />



I VIVIDLY REMEMBER standing outside<br />

my foster home <strong>on</strong> a crisp autumn<br />

evening and hearing my caseworker<br />

say that I was “unadoptable” now<br />

because I had turned 12.<br />

I felt numb. The rustling leaves <strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> trees seemed to stop moving. The<br />

dirt driveway felt like it was crumbling<br />

beneath my feet.<br />

I was unwanted. Undesirable.<br />

Foster care<br />

Between ages 3 and 18, I was placed<br />

in 16 different homes. I grew up surrounded<br />

by social workers, lawyers,<br />

multiple foster parents and siblings. So<br />

many lives touched mine, yet I felt like<br />

no <strong>on</strong>e could relate to me.<br />

When <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r kids in middle<br />

school discovered I was just a “poor<br />

foster kid with no family,” <strong>the</strong> pain I felt<br />

drove me to act out in unhealthy ways.<br />

I turned to fighting, anorexia, drugs and<br />

abusive relati<strong>on</strong>ships with older men.<br />

At age 15, I found myself pregnant,<br />

al<strong>on</strong>e and afraid. When a clinic nurse<br />

encouraged me to have an aborti<strong>on</strong><br />

to “help my situati<strong>on</strong>,” I literally ran<br />

from <strong>the</strong> building. Covering my belly<br />

protectively with my arms as I ran,<br />

I promised my preborn child that<br />

I would love and protect him. His life<br />

wasn’t a surprise to God. My child was<br />

wanted and desired by our heavenly<br />

Fa<strong>the</strong>r and by me.<br />

Taking resp<strong>on</strong>sibility<br />

Raising my s<strong>on</strong> while going to high<br />

school and college was not easy. But<br />

I was determined to break <strong>the</strong> cycle of<br />

foster care in my biological family.<br />

I married my high school swee<strong>the</strong>art,<br />

and we had four additi<strong>on</strong>al children,<br />

<strong>the</strong> youngest of whom we adopted.<br />

My former caseworkers began to<br />

set up speaking engagements for me<br />

to share my story. Eventually I started<br />

teaching foster parenting classes.<br />

Through <strong>the</strong>se opportunities and<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs, I’ve been able to share what it<br />

means to be a foster child, foster and<br />

adoptive mo<strong>the</strong>r, and child of God.<br />

After all, my heavenly Fa<strong>the</strong>r adopted<br />

me and healed my fractured soul<br />

through His genuine love for me. >>><br />

Genevieve Traversy is a foster care family<br />

recruiter who helps people become foster<br />

parents. She founded a n<strong>on</strong>profit called Lean<br />

<strong>on</strong> Us to bring foster kids toge<strong>the</strong>r <strong>on</strong>ce a<br />

m<strong>on</strong>th for fun activities.<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 33


Learning<br />

<strong>the</strong> Language<br />

of <strong>Family</strong><br />


I WAS BORN IN CAMBODIA to an Italian<br />

American pianist and a Cambodian woman. My<br />

mo<strong>the</strong>r wanted nothing to do with me.<br />

While my fa<strong>the</strong>r was not rich, he was c<strong>on</strong>sidered a<br />

wealthy American in <strong>the</strong> eyes of <strong>the</strong> Cambodian people.<br />

But when I was 5, my fa<strong>the</strong>r got into an accident<br />

and lost his job at <strong>the</strong> hotel where he was employed.<br />

I was placed in two different orphanages before my<br />

fa<strong>the</strong>r and I moved to <strong>the</strong> United States.<br />

Everything new<br />

Once in <strong>the</strong> U.S., my fa<strong>the</strong>r and I stayed in a motel. He<br />

was abusive, so I was removed from his care. I was<br />

placed first into a transiti<strong>on</strong>al home and <strong>the</strong>n into a<br />

home with a Cambodian family.<br />

At this point, I was almost 6. Living in a home with<br />

running water and electricity was new to me. I also<br />

<strong>on</strong>ly spoke Khmer.<br />

The Cambodian couple already had three children.<br />

The county let <strong>the</strong>m take me in because <strong>the</strong>y spoke fluent<br />

Khmer. They were supposed to teach me English.<br />

But as I began to learn English, I started losing my<br />

grasp of Khmer—and apparently my foster mo<strong>the</strong>r<br />

didn’t approve. I remember she wouldn’t let me<br />

watch Cinderella unless I asked to watch it in Khmer.<br />

She also wouldn’t let me go into <strong>the</strong> pool or play with<br />

certain things unless I spoke my request in Khmer.<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r rejecti<strong>on</strong><br />

I started acting out and throwing tantrums. I was<br />

told that if I misbehaved <strong>on</strong>e more time, I would<br />

have to leave.<br />

Eight m<strong>on</strong>ths after this placement, <strong>the</strong> couple told<br />

<strong>the</strong> county <strong>the</strong>y didn’t want me. Their rejecti<strong>on</strong> reinforced<br />

my fear that I was unworthy of love.<br />

I knew Jesus loved me and that God had sent Him<br />

to die in my place, but it wasn’t until I was older that<br />

I put my life in His hands.<br />

Shortly before my seventh birthday, I was adopted<br />

into a family that showed me unc<strong>on</strong>diti<strong>on</strong>al love.<br />

The day <strong>the</strong>y adopted me is <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong> most<br />

important days of my life. •<br />

Aruna Moore is currently beginning her adult life.<br />

Dr. Sharen Ford is a nati<strong>on</strong>ally recognized child welfare<br />

c<strong>on</strong>sultant and a retired manager from <strong>the</strong> Colorado<br />

Department of Human Services in <strong>the</strong> Divisi<strong>on</strong> of Child Welfare<br />

Services. She currently serves as <strong>the</strong> director for Foster Care and<br />

Adopti<strong>on</strong> at <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>.<br />


34<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>

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Even fearless kids can feel<br />

anxiety about something<br />


ONE SUNDAY after my youngest<br />

s<strong>on</strong>, Waylan, had said his nightly<br />

prayers, we talked about <strong>the</strong> adventure<br />

we’d just had biking <strong>the</strong> rocky terrain of<br />

<strong>the</strong> northwest hills of Arkansas. This had<br />

been a first-time experience for him.<br />

I told Waylan how proud I was of<br />

him for boldly trying something new.<br />

His rented bike had been a size too big,<br />

and he’d taken a couple of spills. But<br />

he’d always managed to get up, dust<br />

himself off and hit <strong>the</strong> trail with more<br />

gusto than before.<br />

A surprising answer<br />

Still thinking about his courage, I asked,<br />

“Is <strong>the</strong>re anything that scares you?”<br />

A shadow crossed his face. With a<br />

slight waver in his voice, Waylan said,<br />

“I’m afraid of being al<strong>on</strong>e.”<br />

His answer caught me off guard.<br />

Even after we talked about it, I<br />

couldn’t get his words out of my mind.<br />

When I was a child, my paternal<br />

grandfa<strong>the</strong>r passed away, followed by<br />

my paternal grandmo<strong>the</strong>r less than<br />

two years later. I became paralyzed<br />

by <strong>the</strong> thought that something bad<br />

would happen to my own parents. As<br />

an <strong>on</strong>ly child, <strong>the</strong> idea of being left<br />

al<strong>on</strong>e felt terrifying.<br />

Waylan’s fear res<strong>on</strong>ated with my fear<br />

at his age.<br />

Al<strong>on</strong>e no more<br />

When my s<strong>on</strong> recently decided to follow<br />

Jesus, my heart overflowed with joy<br />

at his decisi<strong>on</strong>. His newfound faith also<br />

made it easier to help Waylan with his<br />

fear of being al<strong>on</strong>e. Now when we talk,<br />

I can ask questi<strong>on</strong>s such as:<br />

• Does being a Christian mean everything<br />

will now go your way?<br />

• How might knowing Jesus help you<br />

through hard times?<br />

• How can dwelling <strong>on</strong> your fears keep<br />

you a pris<strong>on</strong>er to those fears?<br />

• Why is it important to acknowledge<br />

your fears—without obsessing over<br />

<strong>the</strong>m?<br />

• Why is it helpful to tell Jesus you’re<br />

scared when fears pop into your mind?<br />

• What Bible verse can you memorize<br />

when <strong>the</strong> fear of being al<strong>on</strong>e nags<br />

at you?<br />

As opportunities arise, I tell Waylan<br />

about fears I’ve had and how Jesus<br />

helped me through <strong>the</strong>m. I want my<br />

s<strong>on</strong> to see that God holds His children<br />

in <strong>the</strong> palm of His hand, and that He<br />

will carry us through whatever we face,<br />

no matter our situati<strong>on</strong>. •<br />

Manndi DeBoef works at <strong>the</strong> University of<br />

Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy<br />

and as a freelance writer. She writes about<br />

parenting, single parenthood, miscarriage, loss<br />

of a loved <strong>on</strong>e and starting over.<br />


36<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>

Kids & Teens<br />

knees and praise<br />

A parenting insight from<br />

Quinnise Pettway<br />


THE CONCLUDING porti<strong>on</strong> of<br />

my family’s nighttime routine includes<br />

prayer, which we call “knees,” and<br />

s<strong>on</strong>gs of praise and worship. My girls<br />

were taught from a young age how to<br />

pray and <strong>the</strong> importance of prayer.<br />

Once <strong>the</strong>ir baths are d<strong>on</strong>e and PJs<br />

are <strong>on</strong>, I often excitedly shout, “It’s<br />

time for knees.” Every<strong>on</strong>e knows to<br />

ga<strong>the</strong>r bedside in <strong>on</strong>e of my daughters’<br />

rooms. Each of us takes turns praying.<br />

After prayer, we sing three praise and<br />

worship s<strong>on</strong>gs.<br />

We are all involved in <strong>the</strong> s<strong>on</strong>g selecti<strong>on</strong><br />

process. We have two little <strong>on</strong>es,<br />

so most evenings, each <strong>on</strong>e picks a<br />

selecti<strong>on</strong>, and I choose <strong>the</strong> third. If <strong>the</strong><br />

s<strong>on</strong>g is a call and resp<strong>on</strong>se s<strong>on</strong>g or a<br />

s<strong>on</strong>g with a solo, <strong>the</strong> girls take pleasure<br />

in leading.<br />

We sing whe<strong>the</strong>r we feel like it or not.<br />

We firmly believe in <strong>the</strong> Scripture that<br />

reminds us to give thanks in everything.<br />

Whe<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong> day was rough or <strong>the</strong> day<br />

ran smoothly, I want my girls to know<br />

that God is worthy all <strong>the</strong> time—and<br />

our prayers, praise and worship c<strong>on</strong>nect<br />

us directly to our heavenly Fa<strong>the</strong>r. •<br />

Quinnise Pettway is a licensed professi<strong>on</strong>al<br />

counselor, blogger and book author.<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 37


‘is <strong>the</strong> truth true<br />

for every<strong>on</strong>e?’<br />

Teach your kids that God’s<br />

truths are uncompromising<br />



GRADE students had just finished<br />

practicing <strong>the</strong>ir weekly memory verse:<br />

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am <strong>the</strong> way, and<br />

<strong>the</strong> truth, and <strong>the</strong> life. No <strong>on</strong>e comes to<br />

<strong>the</strong> Fa<strong>the</strong>r except through me’ ” (John<br />

14:6). We had a few minutes before <strong>the</strong><br />

bell rang, so I wrote a questi<strong>on</strong> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

board: “Is <strong>the</strong> truth true for every<strong>on</strong>e?”<br />

I <strong>the</strong>n asked my students to write <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

answers <strong>on</strong> sticky notes and <strong>the</strong>n post<br />

<strong>the</strong>m <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> board below <strong>the</strong> questi<strong>on</strong>.<br />

I was sure that after memorizing<br />

John 14:6 all week, my students would<br />

answer this questi<strong>on</strong> with a resounding<br />

yes and clear explanati<strong>on</strong>. To my<br />

shock, more than three-quarters of my<br />

class had noted, “No, truth is different<br />

for different people.”<br />

This must be a mistake, I thought.<br />

Yet, in <strong>the</strong> weeks to come, as fall<br />

turned to winter and I dug deeper into<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir resp<strong>on</strong>ses, I realized that my<br />

students were not simply c<strong>on</strong>fused.<br />

These children had subtly absorbed<br />

<strong>the</strong> false belief that truth is subjective.<br />

Relative. I was passi<strong>on</strong>ately teaching<br />

<strong>the</strong>m God’s Word, but <strong>the</strong>ir misunderstandings<br />

left <strong>the</strong>m thinking that<br />

Jesus was <strong>the</strong> Way for some people, <strong>the</strong><br />

Truth for some people, and <strong>the</strong> Life for<br />

some people.<br />

I realized I had to be intenti<strong>on</strong>al<br />

about equipping my students to understand<br />

what biblical truth is, how to<br />

follow that truth with c<strong>on</strong>fidence and<br />

how to distinguish objective truth from<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>al preferences.<br />

Defining truth<br />

When you ask your kids, “What is<br />

truth?” <strong>the</strong>y may have trouble defining<br />

it. Some will say something to <strong>the</strong><br />

effect of, “We need to tell <strong>the</strong> truth.”<br />

H<strong>on</strong>esty is certainly important, but<br />

help your kids dive deeper.<br />

Philosophers traditi<strong>on</strong>ally define<br />

truth as that which corresp<strong>on</strong>ds with<br />

reality. Yet, that sentence has little<br />

meaning for a 4-year-old, 8-year-old<br />

or even a 12-year-old. Instead, simplify<br />

<strong>the</strong> definiti<strong>on</strong> by saying, “Truth is what<br />

is real.” Then help your kids by giving<br />

<strong>the</strong>m phrases that are ei<strong>the</strong>r true<br />

or false and pointing out that <strong>the</strong> true<br />

phrases dem<strong>on</strong>strate what is real.<br />

When working with kids 7 and<br />

under, I like to turn this into a game.<br />


38<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>


I start by presenting a number of<br />

sentences that represent what is<br />

real—statements like: “Saturday is a<br />

day of <strong>the</strong> week.” “My mom loves me.”<br />

“Kittens are a type of animal.” When I<br />

say <strong>the</strong>se true sentences, I have <strong>the</strong><br />

children jump up, throw <strong>the</strong>ir arms in<br />

<strong>the</strong> air, and shout, “True!”<br />

I <strong>the</strong>n mix in a few silly sentences<br />

that represent what is not real—statements<br />

like “Blapday is a day of <strong>the</strong><br />

week.” “It is always freezing cold in <strong>the</strong><br />

summer.” “Puppies run <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> ceiling.”<br />

When I say <strong>the</strong>se false sentences, I<br />

have <strong>the</strong> kids cross <strong>the</strong>ir arms in fr<strong>on</strong>t<br />

of <strong>the</strong>ir chests and shout, “Not true!”<br />

This simple and fun activity can help<br />

even 4-year-olds grasp that truth is<br />

what is real.<br />

Knowing and<br />

following truth<br />

Once children have a basic understanding<br />

of truth, <strong>the</strong> next step is<br />

helping <strong>the</strong>m understand that both<br />

knowing and following <strong>the</strong> truth are<br />

important. My favorite way to foster<br />

this understanding is through a treasure<br />

hunt using prizes such as candy,<br />

stickers or coins.<br />

I write out two or three different sets<br />

of directi<strong>on</strong>s for finding <strong>the</strong> prizes. One<br />

set of instructi<strong>on</strong>s is true, explaining<br />

where <strong>the</strong> prizes are hidden. The o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

sets of instructi<strong>on</strong>s are false, leading <strong>the</strong><br />

kids to places where <strong>the</strong>re is no prize.<br />

I begin <strong>the</strong> treasure hunt by<br />

announcing that somewhere in <strong>the</strong><br />

room I’ve hidden prizes and have<br />

written directi<strong>on</strong>s for finding <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

I explain that some of <strong>the</strong> directi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

are true, and I disclose where <strong>the</strong> treasure<br />

is hidden. The o<strong>the</strong>r directi<strong>on</strong>s,<br />

however, are not true; <strong>the</strong>y do not lead<br />

to a prize. I <strong>the</strong>n distribute <strong>the</strong> various<br />

instructi<strong>on</strong>s and let <strong>the</strong> kids follow<br />

<strong>the</strong>m. After <strong>the</strong> prizes are found, we<br />

debrief <strong>the</strong> treasure hunt toge<strong>the</strong>r. I ask<br />

questi<strong>on</strong>s to help <strong>the</strong>m see <strong>the</strong> importance<br />

of knowing and following <strong>the</strong><br />

truth, both in this activity and in life.<br />

Discerning<br />

objective truth<br />

After your children have a working<br />

definiti<strong>on</strong> of truth and understand <strong>the</strong><br />

importance of both knowing and following<br />

it, <strong>the</strong> final step is equipping<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 39

C H E C K<br />

O U T<br />

T H E<br />

You can try before<br />

you buy with a<br />


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<strong>the</strong>m to discern objective truths from<br />

subjective preferences.<br />

Objective truths are things that<br />

remain true no matter what we think,<br />

feel or believe about <strong>the</strong>m. Subjective<br />

preferences are individual likes and dislikes<br />

that differ from pers<strong>on</strong> to pers<strong>on</strong>.<br />

For example, I’m not a fan of chocolate.<br />

My mo<strong>the</strong>r, <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r hand, prefers<br />

chocolate over any o<strong>the</strong>r dessert.<br />

Our subjective preferences are different.<br />

However, those preferences cannot<br />

change <strong>the</strong> objective truth about<br />

whe<strong>the</strong>r a cookie c<strong>on</strong>tains chocolate<br />

chips. My mo<strong>the</strong>r’s internal feelings<br />

cannot magically make chocolate chips<br />

appear in a cookie. And my preferences<br />

cannot make chocolate chips disappear.<br />

Recognizing subjective<br />

preferences<br />

Baking cookies toge<strong>the</strong>r is a great way<br />

to help illustrate this c<strong>on</strong>cept. As we<br />

pause to enjoy our tasty creati<strong>on</strong>s, I ask,<br />

“What are some preferences about <strong>the</strong>se<br />

cookies that might change from pers<strong>on</strong><br />

to pers<strong>on</strong>?” After we come up with a list<br />

of preferences, I ask, “What are some<br />

truths about <strong>the</strong>se cookies that do not<br />

change no matter what some<strong>on</strong>e thinks,<br />

feels or believes about <strong>the</strong>m?” Even<br />

young children can pick up <strong>the</strong> difference<br />

between preferences and truths.<br />

After I got over my initial shock that<br />

autumn day in <strong>the</strong> classroom, I began<br />

introducing c<strong>on</strong>cepts about truth and<br />

worldview to my students. I was surprised<br />

to discover just how quickly<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir c<strong>on</strong>fusi<strong>on</strong> about truth was<br />

resolved. By <strong>the</strong> time <strong>the</strong> winter snow<br />

melted, my students had learned to<br />

think critically about truth, and I know<br />

it found its way into o<strong>the</strong>r areas of <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

lives. By <strong>the</strong> time we began preparing<br />

for Easter, my students understood<br />

that <strong>the</strong> Good News of Jesus’ resurrecti<strong>on</strong><br />

isn’t just a subjective preference.<br />

It’s a vital objective truth—<strong>on</strong>e that’s<br />

true for every<strong>on</strong>e. •<br />

Elizabeth Urbanowicz is <strong>the</strong> founder of<br />

Foundati<strong>on</strong> Worldview and develops curricula<br />

and discipleship resources for kids.<br />



Greg and his daughter<br />

Annie about to rappel<br />

down a 100-foot cliff<br />



My daughter Annie and I<br />

faced our fears and b<strong>on</strong>ded<br />




daughter, Annie, start to panic as she climbed<br />

higher up <strong>the</strong> mountain cliff. She’d d<strong>on</strong>e OK<br />

at first, but <strong>the</strong> height eventually became too<br />

much for her. Annie looked terrified as she<br />

hung by a rope against <strong>the</strong> steep rock face.<br />

My daughter was strapped into rappelling<br />

gear, and I was positi<strong>on</strong>ed under her, also<br />

clipped to a safety rope. O<strong>the</strong>r people in our<br />

group were above and below her <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> side<br />

of <strong>the</strong> cliff. The guides had warned us: Scaling<br />

<strong>the</strong> cliff was opti<strong>on</strong>al, but <strong>on</strong>ce you started<br />

you had no choice but to c<strong>on</strong>tinue to <strong>the</strong> top.<br />

As Annie began to cry, I tried to empathize<br />

while also pushing her to move forward.<br />

“H<strong>on</strong>, <strong>the</strong>re’s no choice,” I told her. “You<br />

have to keep going.”<br />

What happened that day and how Annie<br />

handled <strong>the</strong> situati<strong>on</strong> is something my daughter<br />

and I will never forget. Here we were in<br />

<strong>the</strong> middle of <strong>the</strong> wilderness, participating in<br />

an excursi<strong>on</strong> designed for dads and <strong>the</strong>ir kids<br />

to b<strong>on</strong>d. Embarking <strong>on</strong> this Adventures in<br />

Fa<strong>the</strong>rhood trip with my youngest child c<strong>on</strong>nected<br />

us in a way I hadn’t anticipated. In fact,<br />

<strong>the</strong> entire four-day, three-night hiking and<br />

camping experience was like b<strong>on</strong>ding <strong>on</strong> steroids<br />

(and I’m regretting <strong>the</strong> fact that some of<br />

my o<strong>the</strong>r children are now too old to share <strong>the</strong><br />

same adventure with me). >>><br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 41


Annie standing <strong>on</strong> an overlook as <strong>the</strong> group<br />

hiked to an alpine lake. The damaged tree in <strong>the</strong><br />

background is <strong>the</strong> result of a forest fire.<br />

Annie and Greg at <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

campsite posing in<br />

fr<strong>on</strong>t of <strong>the</strong> cliff <strong>the</strong>y<br />

c<strong>on</strong>quered toge<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Casting our<br />

cares <strong>on</strong> God<br />

For more than 30 years, Summit<br />

Adventure has been organizing <strong>the</strong>se<br />

trips in Nor<strong>the</strong>rn California to help<br />

dads c<strong>on</strong>nect with <strong>the</strong>ir kids and grow<br />

closer to God. After some practice<br />

hikes with Annie, I was still apprehensive<br />

about <strong>the</strong> whole trip. It was a new<br />

experience for me.<br />

But <strong>the</strong> shared adventure was<br />

already beginning, though I didn’t yet<br />

realize it. Since Annie was also anxious<br />

about <strong>the</strong> trip, we talked about<br />

1 Peter 5:6-7: “Humble yourselves,<br />

<strong>the</strong>refore, under <strong>the</strong> mighty hand of<br />

God so that at <strong>the</strong> proper time he may<br />

exalt you, casting all your anxieties <strong>on</strong><br />

him, because he cares for you.” Before<br />

we even set foot in California, we were<br />

discussing what it means to cast our<br />

cares <strong>on</strong> Jesus and trust that He has<br />

something good in store for us.<br />

On <strong>the</strong> first day of <strong>the</strong> trip, we<br />

strapped <strong>on</strong> our 50-pound backpacks,<br />

and Annie took off hiking at<br />

top speed.<br />

“Oh, this isn’t too bad,” she said as she<br />

trotted a mile straight up <strong>the</strong> mountain.<br />

Perhaps our fears were unfounded.<br />

When we reached our campsite and<br />

took off those heavy backpacks, it was<br />

<strong>the</strong> oddest sensati<strong>on</strong>. I felt like I was<br />

going to float into <strong>the</strong> sky. Annie felt<br />

<strong>the</strong> same.<br />

“It feels so light,” she said.<br />

That sensati<strong>on</strong> made me think about<br />

our burdens in life and <strong>the</strong> challenges<br />

we face, and how <strong>the</strong>y can feel like a<br />

loaded backpack. When it was just <strong>the</strong><br />

two of us at our campsite, we talked<br />

about that analogy.<br />

“What are <strong>the</strong> burdens that you carry,<br />

that I carry, and what would it look<br />

like to help each o<strong>the</strong>r and cast those<br />

burdens <strong>on</strong> God?” So<strong>on</strong> we were discussing<br />

Mat<strong>the</strong>w 11:28-30 and how<br />

God can take off our backpacks (burdens)<br />

and free us (feel light).<br />

Looking at<br />

<strong>the</strong> heavens<br />

Our deep c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s resumed each<br />

night as we lay beneath <strong>the</strong> stars in our<br />

sleeping bags. It was <strong>the</strong> perfect setting:<br />

no TV, no ph<strong>on</strong>es, no technology<br />

to distract us. We were in <strong>the</strong> middle of<br />

nowhere, and <strong>the</strong>re were no city lights<br />

to hinder our view of <strong>the</strong> stars. As we<br />

gazed toward <strong>the</strong> heavens, we spotted<br />


42<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>


Greg reading his blessing letter to<br />

Annie <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir last night of <strong>the</strong> trip.<br />

shooting stars and talked about life<br />

and faith.<br />

We recalled Psalm 8:3-4: “When I<br />

look at your heavens, <strong>the</strong> work of your<br />

fingers, <strong>the</strong> mo<strong>on</strong> and <strong>the</strong> stars, which<br />

you have set in place, what is man that<br />

you are mindful of him, and <strong>the</strong> s<strong>on</strong> of<br />

man that you care for him?”<br />

Toge<strong>the</strong>r we marveled at <strong>the</strong><br />

immensity of creati<strong>on</strong>, realizing how<br />

insignificant we are in comparis<strong>on</strong>. Yet<br />

God still knows <strong>the</strong> number of hairs <strong>on</strong><br />

our head (Luke 12:7).<br />

Facing challenges toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

So what happened to my daughter<br />

when she was suspended midway up<br />

a mountain cliff, panicked and afraid?<br />

She faced her fears, and I had <strong>the</strong> privilege<br />

of being <strong>the</strong>re to encourage her.<br />

“I’m not going to die. . . . I’m not<br />

going to die. . . .” she kept telling herself.<br />

She not <strong>on</strong>ly made it to <strong>the</strong> top of<br />

that cliff, but she was also able to rappel<br />

back down. It was an opportunity<br />

to remember God’s help in her time<br />

of need.<br />

Later that night we talked about<br />

Deuter<strong>on</strong>omy 31:6: “Be str<strong>on</strong>g and<br />

courageous. Do not fear or be in dread<br />

of <strong>the</strong>m, for it is <strong>the</strong> Lord your God<br />

who goes with you. He will not leave<br />

you or forsake you.” Though <strong>the</strong> words<br />

were for <strong>the</strong> Israelite leader Joshua in<br />

<strong>the</strong> Old Testament, <strong>the</strong>y encouraged<br />

Annie and me in our faith journeys.<br />

I told Annie, “If you could do that,<br />

you can face anything.”<br />

“Yeah,” she agreed. “That was a pretty<br />

big deal, and I did it.”<br />

A touching moment<br />

At <strong>the</strong> end of Adventures in Fa<strong>the</strong>rhood,<br />

each dad had a chance to speak a<br />

blessing over his child. Annie’s tears<br />

showed me that my message touched<br />

her. Here is part of what I wrote to<br />

Annie at <strong>the</strong> close of our adventure:<br />

I’m so proud of how you overcame your<br />

fears. I loved seeing your strength and<br />

courage. Watching you lower yourself<br />

over <strong>the</strong> cliffside was so inspirati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

to watch. . . . I love your adventurous<br />

spirit. I smiled when you asked if we<br />

could come back next year. •<br />

Dr. Greg Smalley serves as <strong>the</strong> vice president<br />

of Marriage at <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>. He is<br />

<strong>the</strong> author or co-author of more than 20<br />

books, including 9 Lies That Will Destroy Your<br />

Marriage: And <strong>the</strong> truths that will save it and<br />

set it free and Rec<strong>on</strong>nected: Moving from<br />

roommates to soulmates in your marriage.<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 43

NEW<br />

[NEW]<br />

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Children who have heard <strong>the</strong> Easter story many times will love this<br />

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fresh and unique less<strong>on</strong> that uses <strong>the</strong> biblical events of Easter to<br />

help kids understand <strong>the</strong> Beatitudes. As you ga<strong>the</strong>r your kids for a<br />

daily “picnic with Jesus,” you’ll explore part of <strong>the</strong> Easter story and<br />

a relevant beatitude from <strong>the</strong> Serm<strong>on</strong> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> Mount.<br />

Included in this less<strong>on</strong> are fun crafts, games and discussi<strong>on</strong>s that<br />

encourage kids to:<br />

• be meekly obedient<br />

• show mercy<br />

• be peacemakers<br />

• and choose righteousness<br />

Download <strong>the</strong> Easter less<strong>on</strong> for FREE at<br />


MY<br />



Laurentz’s mind was flourishing even before I recognized it<br />


ONE AFTERNOON I went over<br />

<strong>the</strong> letter A with my 5-year-old for what<br />

felt like <strong>the</strong> 37th time. We moved <strong>on</strong> to<br />

<strong>the</strong> letter B and <strong>the</strong>n returned to A.<br />

“What letter is this, Laurentz?” I asked.<br />

He looked at me with big brown eyes.<br />

No answer.<br />

“It’s an A, baby.”<br />

“A!” he said proudly.<br />

I smiled, but inside I was having a<br />

minor meltdown. He’s not getting it,<br />

I thought. Does he have a learning disability?<br />

Once he starts school in <strong>the</strong><br />

fall, will we need to look into special<br />

educati<strong>on</strong>?<br />

Laurentz had come to us from Haiti<br />

six m<strong>on</strong>ths earlier. He quickly learned<br />

to speak English but struggled with <strong>the</strong><br />

written word.<br />

I talked with a friend, and our doctor<br />

suggested resources for kids who learn<br />

a little differently. Then I read books<br />

with my boy until he was pale around<br />

<strong>the</strong> gills and I was equally exhausted.<br />

Over <strong>the</strong> next few m<strong>on</strong>ths, I c<strong>on</strong>tinued<br />

working with Laurentz. He, <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

o<strong>the</strong>r hand, preferred playing with his<br />

new sister, Savannah. We’d adopted<br />

Savannah at birth, and she was two<br />

years younger than Laurentz. At age<br />

3, she loved having a big bro<strong>the</strong>r and<br />

already knew <strong>the</strong> letters of <strong>the</strong> alphabet.<br />

That’s not to say <strong>the</strong>y didn’t fight<br />

passi<strong>on</strong>ately and often. But <strong>the</strong>y were<br />

always quick to patch things up. The<br />

two became inseparable—playing<br />

cards, building LEGO houses and imagining<br />

<strong>the</strong>mselves to be superheroes.<br />

One afterno<strong>on</strong>, Laurentz and<br />

Savannah were working <strong>on</strong> an alphabet<br />

puzzle, going over <strong>the</strong> letters in sings<strong>on</strong>g<br />

voices. I listened and watched in<br />

amazement as Laurentz spouted off <strong>the</strong><br />

full ABCs, pointing to each letter in turn.<br />

“Laurentz, we haven’t even g<strong>on</strong>e over<br />

some of those yet. How did you learn<br />

<strong>the</strong>m?”<br />

“I d<strong>on</strong>’t know. I just know <strong>the</strong>m.”<br />

The two ran off to tackle ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

adventure.<br />

Like <strong>the</strong> spring flowers coming into<br />

bloom outside our window, Laurentz’s<br />

brain was growing, and he was learning.<br />

Sometimes parents get worried or<br />

frustrated. Sometimes siblings fight as<br />

often as <strong>the</strong>y play. Sometimes children<br />

develop at <strong>the</strong>ir own pace, and sometimes<br />

<strong>the</strong>y need help learning a little<br />

differently—with a sister’s attenti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

And in all <strong>the</strong> love and chaos, young<br />

brains and spirits can and do flourish.<br />

Today Laurentz is in fourth grade and<br />

reads voraciously. •<br />

Elsa Kok Colopy is an author and speaker. She<br />

and her husband, Brian, are parents to eight<br />

children.<br />

APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 45


EASTER<br />

Joshua, 10, and James, 10<br />

Headed to Easter sunrise service!<br />

—Rosalynne from Tennessee<br />

Kyree, 6<br />

Wearing her special Easter dress from<br />

grandma.<br />

—Lydia from Colorado<br />

Charlie, 9 m<strong>on</strong>ths<br />

Our baby girl enjoys <strong>the</strong> Easter daffodils.<br />

—Becky from California<br />

Bella, 6, Kate, 3, and Gracie, 8<br />

Our girls are all dressed up and<br />

ready for Easter Sunday service!<br />

—Sarah from Ohio<br />

Your kids could be in <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> magazine!<br />

Email photos* of your child holding an Easter basket or your child<br />

playing an instrument. (Put “Easter Basket” or “Musical Instrument” in<br />

<strong>the</strong> subject line.)<br />

Send to: info@fotf.ca<br />

* Largest photo possible—professi<strong>on</strong>al photos not accepted<br />

46<br />


APRIL / MAY <strong>2022</strong>

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