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Focus on the Family Magazine - December 2023/January 2024

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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JERRY B. JENKINS:<br />

FAITH, FICTION<br />

AND THE POWER<br />

OF STORY<br />

Helping Families Thrive in Christ<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong><br />

QUESTIONS<br />

THAT LEAD<br />

TO JESUS<br />

SAFETY VIOLATION ZONE copy in this z<strong>on</strong>e not safe per trim variance (.25 inch).<br />

BEYOND THEIR<br />

WISH LISTS<br />

Encourage your kids to serve o<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

this Christmas<br />

page 12


Canadian families need hope<br />

so <strong>the</strong>y d<strong>on</strong>’t give up!<br />

“<br />

The messages my<br />

children are receiving<br />

at school and from friends<br />

c<strong>on</strong>flict with what<br />

we’re teaching <strong>the</strong>m<br />

from <strong>the</strong> Bible.<br />

how do I help <strong>the</strong>m<br />

rec<strong>on</strong>cile <strong>the</strong>se<br />

differences?<br />

”<br />

“<br />

I’m<br />

feeling torn<br />

between raising my children and<br />

caring for my aging parent.<br />

how do I do this well?<br />

”<br />

“<br />

How can I c<strong>on</strong>nect<br />

with my adult children<br />

“<br />

We<br />

just had our first child<br />

and I’m not sure how<br />

I can cope right now,<br />

it all feels so overwhelming. ”<br />

who have walked away<br />

from <strong>the</strong>ir faith?<br />

”<br />

You can bring <strong>the</strong>m <strong>the</strong> practical, biblically based<br />

support <strong>the</strong>y need to move forward and thrive.<br />

You can d<strong>on</strong>ate today!<br />

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

or call 1.800.661.9800<br />

Y o u r gift will make a di f f e r e nc e for fa m i l i e s<br />

t h i s christ m a s and in <strong>the</strong> Yea r ahea d!


12<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong><br />

table of c<strong>on</strong>tents<br />

28<br />

SHANNON ASSOCIATES - KIRK DOUPONCE / ADOBE STOCK - TWINS DESIGN STUDIO / KARLA ALCAZAR / ISTOCK - ALONZODESIGN<br />

in every issue<br />

4 LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT<br />

5 MINISTRY SPOTLIGHT<br />

6 OFF THE SHELF<br />

8 HACKS & FACTS<br />

18 ADULT KIDS<br />

41 MEMORY VERSE<br />

44 GRANDPARENTING<br />

46 MY THRIVING FAMILY<br />

kids & teens<br />

12 BEYOND THEIR WISH LISTS<br />

Encourage your kids to serve<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs this Christmas<br />

by Kay Wills Wyma<br />

17 ‘MOM, WHAT DOES<br />

NONBINARY MEAN?’<br />

by Adam Holz<br />

37<br />

25<br />

couples<br />

20 CHRISTMAS WITH<br />

THE IN-LAWS<br />

8 expert tips to help you<br />

and your spouse navigate<br />

extended family differences<br />

by Cara Plett<br />

25 12 GIFTS YOU SHOULD<br />

NEVER GIVE YOUR SPOUSE<br />

by Kat Bittner<br />

faith &<br />

inspirati<strong>on</strong><br />

28 FAITH, FICTION AND<br />

THE POWER OF STORY<br />

Changing lives <strong>on</strong>e<br />

novel at a time<br />

by Jerry B. Jenkins<br />

33 QUESTIONS THAT LEAD<br />

TO JESUS<br />

The what, why and<br />

w<strong>on</strong>dering approach<br />

to evangelism<br />

by Andy Bannister<br />

37 AN ADVENT JOURNEY<br />

Discovering God’s hope,<br />

peace, joy and love through<br />

Scripture<br />

by <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada<br />

42 MOVIE MESSAGES: FROZEN<br />

Seek and find worldviews<br />

while having fun as a family<br />

by Plugged In staff<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 3


LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT<br />

4<br />

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 />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

IN THE BERAN HOUSEHOLD,<br />

we take Christmas very seriously. My wife,<br />

Susan, and I have a list of family traditi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

that we still do even though our daughters<br />

are teenagers. We love that this time of<br />

year gives us a great opportunity to make<br />

lasting memories for our family.<br />

But we never want to lose sight of <strong>the</strong><br />

real reas<strong>on</strong> for <strong>the</strong> seas<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Christmas is not about buying <strong>the</strong> perfect present or skiing<br />

snowy slopes or enjoying hot chocolate by <strong>the</strong> fire—though those<br />

are enjoyable! Christmas is about celebrating <strong>the</strong> ultimate gift God<br />

has given us: Jesus Christ.<br />

Susan and I are intenti<strong>on</strong>al about keeping Christ at <strong>the</strong> centre<br />

of our Christmas celebrati<strong>on</strong>s, and I pray that you’ll find encouragement<br />

in <strong>the</strong> pages of this issue to do <strong>the</strong> same. One of <strong>the</strong> best<br />

ways to do this is through an Advent devoti<strong>on</strong>al. Advent begins<br />

four Sundays before Christmas <strong>on</strong> Dec. 3, and <strong>on</strong> page 37, you’ll<br />

see <strong>the</strong> first few days of our free Advent devoti<strong>on</strong>al download, An<br />

Advent Journey. Instead of stopping at Christmas, though, this PDF<br />

provides you with four full weeks (28 days) of scriptural reflecti<strong>on</strong><br />

to help you put Christ at <strong>the</strong> forefr<strong>on</strong>t of your mind. You can<br />

download <strong>the</strong> full devoti<strong>on</strong>al at <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/Advent.<br />

And remember if you need help, we’re just a click, email<br />

and ph<strong>on</strong>e call away. I invite you to visit our website at<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca, email us at info@fotf.ca or call our team<br />

at 1.800.661.9800. Whatever you’re going through this Christmas<br />

and New Year seas<strong>on</strong>, we are here for you.<br />

Blessings,<br />

Jean-Paul Beran<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong><br />

focusing <strong>on</strong><br />

Christ this<br />

Christmas<br />

JOSH YONG<br />

president<br />

Jim Daly<br />

focus canada<br />

president<br />

Jean-Paul Beran<br />

chief operating<br />

o ffi c e r<br />

Ken Windebank<br />

chief marketing<br />

& c<strong>on</strong>tent officer<br />

Tim Sawer<br />

publisher<br />

Jennifer Arthur<br />

media publishing<br />

director<br />

Kevin Shirin<br />

c<strong>on</strong>tributing editors<br />

Vance Fry<br />

Marianne Hering<br />

Jennifer L<strong>on</strong>as<br />

Jeff Masching<br />

cover<br />

Drazen Zigic<br />

editorial director<br />

Sheila Seifert<br />

Thank you!<br />

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

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

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

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

<strong>Magazine</strong>.<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> magazine <strong>December</strong> <strong>2023</strong> / <strong>January</strong><br />

<strong>2024</strong>, Vol. 8, No. 6 ISSN 2471-5921, © <strong>2023</strong> <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>. All rights reserved. Published by <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

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To notify us of an address change or to c<strong>on</strong>tact <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g><br />

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19946 80A Ave, Langley, BC, V2Y 0J8; info@fotf.ca<br />

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

from <strong>the</strong> Holy Bible, English Standard Versi<strong>on</strong> ® (ESV ® ).<br />

Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry<br />

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Printed in Canada.<br />

managing editor<br />

Andrea Gutierrez<br />

copy chief<br />

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associate editors<br />

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Amy Van Veen


HELPING YOUR FAMILY THRIVE<br />

MINISTRY<br />

spotlight<br />

Highlighting <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong> many<br />

ministries of <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong><br />

Canada<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada’s Clergy Care<br />

Network celebrates 20 years!<br />

Back in <strong>the</strong> early 2000s, a taskforce was formed by <strong>the</strong><br />

Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>Family</strong> Canada and several denominati<strong>on</strong>s. The goal was<br />

to find a way to provide clergy with an<strong>on</strong>ymous, c<strong>on</strong>fidential<br />

support so <strong>the</strong>y could get <strong>the</strong> help <strong>the</strong>y need for <strong>the</strong><br />

pers<strong>on</strong>al and ministry issues <strong>the</strong>y were facing. Being a pastor<br />

is a rewarding experience, but many often feel al<strong>on</strong>e in<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir leadership. They may be hesitant to go to <strong>the</strong>ir denominati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

leaders for help or <strong>the</strong>y may be isolated in a rural<br />

locati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

In 2003, <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> Canada established <strong>the</strong><br />

Clergy Care Network (CCN), offering a safe place for ministry<br />

leaders and <strong>the</strong>ir family to get help.<br />

Initially it began as a ph<strong>on</strong>e-in counselling line<br />

(1.888.5.CLERGY) staffed by professi<strong>on</strong>al counsellors with<br />

ministry experience. In 2009, <strong>the</strong> counselling line opened up<br />

to general calls from any<strong>on</strong>e who needed a <strong>on</strong>e-time ph<strong>on</strong>e<br />

c<strong>on</strong>sultati<strong>on</strong>. Today clergy-related calls make up 10% to 12%<br />

of <strong>the</strong> total call volume.<br />

Typical call topics include issues like depressi<strong>on</strong>, anxiety,<br />

staff c<strong>on</strong>flict, burnout, ministry transiti<strong>on</strong> and family issues.<br />

Now, 20 years later, we c<strong>on</strong>tinue to partner with several<br />

denominati<strong>on</strong>s, but our free counselling is available<br />

to pastors, missi<strong>on</strong>aries and family members, regardless of<br />

denominati<strong>on</strong>al affiliati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

In additi<strong>on</strong> to <strong>the</strong> ph<strong>on</strong>e counselling, <strong>the</strong>re is also a website<br />

filled with articles and relevant resources for pastors<br />

(ClergyCare.ca) and a m<strong>on</strong>thly e-newsletter (<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong><br />

Pastors).<br />

Every<strong>on</strong>e needs support from time to time, and pastors<br />

are no different. They have work pressures, pers<strong>on</strong>al challenges<br />

and family issues like <strong>the</strong> rest of us, and by providing<br />

a safe place for <strong>the</strong>m to make a c<strong>on</strong>fidential call, we are<br />

equipping <strong>the</strong>m to be healthy individuals, healthy spouses,<br />

healthy parents and healthy leaders.<br />

Learn more about this initiative for clergy<br />

and <strong>the</strong>ir families.<br />

ClergyCare.ca<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 5


OFF THE SHELF<br />

FIND THESE BOOKS<br />

AND MORE AT<br />

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

fun for<br />

<strong>the</strong> whole<br />

family<br />

BOARD BOOKS<br />

The Tiny Truths Bible<br />

for Little Ones<br />

by Joanna Rivard<br />

and Tim Penner<br />

Turtle Finds His Talent<br />

by Lucille Williams<br />

OFF THE<br />

SHELF<br />

Christian reads<br />

for <strong>the</strong> family<br />

BY SHEILA SEIFERT<br />

AS A CHILD, I read a historical<br />

novel about Ca<strong>the</strong>rine <strong>the</strong><br />

Great, who didn’t do what she<br />

wanted to do and did what was<br />

right for her adopted country.<br />

Her sacrificial love later helped<br />

me understand <strong>the</strong> magnitude<br />

of what Jesus had sacrificed<br />

for me. In <strong>the</strong> same way,<br />

ficti<strong>on</strong> entertains, but sometimes<br />

it also dem<strong>on</strong>strates<br />

faith principles in <strong>the</strong> lives of<br />

its characters. Here are two<br />

authors who strive to impart<br />

God’s truths in <strong>the</strong>ir fun-toread<br />

middle-grade books:<br />

“D.L. Moody is quoted as saying, ‘If I could relive<br />

my life, I would devote my entire ministry to<br />

reaching children for God.’ Today’s child, more<br />

than ever, needs clear biblical foundati<strong>on</strong>s to<br />

build up<strong>on</strong>—al<strong>on</strong>g with enough comedy and<br />

entertainment to hold <strong>the</strong>ir attenti<strong>on</strong>. These are<br />

my goals in writing ‘The Magnificent Mulligans’<br />

book series—<strong>the</strong> adventures of eight bro<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

and sisters working toge<strong>the</strong>r to run <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

family’s wild animal park . . . as told by <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

pet chimpanzee.”<br />

—Bill Myers, bestselling author<br />

“Though Bro<strong>the</strong>r Andrew looked and acted differently<br />

than my character, I loosely based <strong>the</strong> Bible<br />

smuggler in my book Big Risks in Russia <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

life of this Dutch missi<strong>on</strong>ary. I also had cousins<br />

who smuggled Bibles in <strong>the</strong> 1980s. They gave me<br />

details about how guards took apart cars and <strong>the</strong>n<br />

left <strong>the</strong>m. Reality is different than ficti<strong>on</strong>, but my<br />

hope is that this story will inspire o<strong>the</strong>rs to bravely<br />

follow Jesus and be willing to risk for o<strong>the</strong>rs in<br />

need. Bro<strong>the</strong>r Andrew died while I was writing this<br />

book, but <strong>the</strong> faith legacy of what he did lives <strong>on</strong>.”<br />

—Marianne Hering, award-winning author<br />

PICTURE BOOKS<br />

Otter B Friendly<br />

Book No. 12 in <strong>the</strong><br />

“Otter B” series<br />

by Pamela Kennedy<br />

and Anne Kennedy Brady<br />

Since <strong>the</strong> Baby Came<br />

by Kathleen L<strong>on</strong>g Bostrom<br />

KIDS BOOKS<br />

Smoke in <strong>the</strong> Air!<br />

Book No. 3 in<br />

“The Magnificent<br />

Mulligans” series<br />

by Bill Myers<br />

Big Risks in Russia<br />

Book No. 31 in<br />

“The Imaginati<strong>on</strong> Stati<strong>on</strong>” series<br />

by Marianne Hering<br />

YA NOVELS<br />

The Sec<strong>on</strong>d Storm<br />

Book No. 4 in <strong>the</strong><br />

“High Water” series<br />

by Tim Shoemaker<br />

Heart of Bel<strong>on</strong>ging<br />

Book No. 6 in <strong>the</strong><br />

“Riverbend Friends” series<br />

by C.J. Darlingt<strong>on</strong><br />

BOOKS FOR ADULTS<br />

Elisabeth Elliot: A Life<br />

by Lucy S.R. Austen<br />

The Woman from Lydia<br />

by Angela Hunt<br />

GOOD PHOTO - BECKY KYLE<br />

6<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


kids &<br />

teens<br />

“I AIM TO CREATE AN<br />

OTHERS-CENTERED<br />

ATMOSPHERE IN OUR<br />

HOME, AN ENVIRONMENT<br />

OF GIVING AND SERVICE<br />

DURING THE HOLIDAYS.<br />

WHEN OUR EYES ARE<br />

FOCUSED ELSEWHERE,<br />

THERE’S A LOT LESS<br />

TIME AND ENERGY TO<br />

FOCUS ON WHAT WE’RE<br />

GETTING THIS YEAR.”<br />

—KAY WILLS WYMA, PAGE 12<br />

ADOBE STOCK - JULIASUDNITSKAYA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 7


KIDS & TEENS / CHRISTMAS SECRETS<br />

HACKS & FACTS<br />

SHHH!<br />

Like most kids, our 8-year-old<br />

daughter enjoys receiving gifts,<br />

but Addie loves being <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> giving<br />

end to watch <strong>the</strong> reacti<strong>on</strong> from<br />

whomever is receiving her gift. To<br />

help keep her gifts a surprise, we<br />

tell her, “Remember, it’s our secret”<br />

(with a wink). She and her dad have<br />

become great at pulling surprises.<br />

My husband has a way of making<br />

gift giving feel like being a part of a<br />

super-secret missi<strong>on</strong>. The anticipati<strong>on</strong><br />

helps Addie keep quiet and wait<br />

for <strong>the</strong> big reveal!<br />

—Lisa Johns<strong>on</strong><br />

Peter Rabbit<br />

keeps a secret<br />

When we purchased a new guitar<br />

for my s<strong>on</strong> for Christmas, I explained<br />

to our 4-year-old daughter that <strong>the</strong><br />

gift needed to be kept a secret. She<br />

c<strong>on</strong>fessed that it would be difficult<br />

to keep quiet about <strong>the</strong> surprise. I<br />

told her she could share <strong>the</strong> secret<br />

with Peter Rabbit, her favorite plush<br />

toy—but <strong>on</strong>ly if she thought she<br />

could trust him to keep <strong>the</strong> surprise.<br />

It was so sweet to watch her cuddle<br />

Peter in her lap, put her mouth<br />

up to his ear and whisper her secret.<br />

Throughout <strong>the</strong> next few weeks,<br />

I’d see her c<strong>on</strong>tinue whispering to<br />

Peter. She told me she was reminding<br />

him not to ruin <strong>the</strong> surprise.<br />

Come Christmas morning, she<br />

had to have Peter in attendance<br />

when <strong>the</strong> surprise was revealed. My<br />

daughter hugged Peter and told him<br />

how proud she was that he’d kept<br />

<strong>the</strong> secret.<br />

—Jami Thornsberry<br />

Gift Idea<br />

FROM FOCUS ON<br />

THE FAMILY<br />

Written by Pamela<br />

Kennedy and Anne<br />

Kennedy Brady, Otter<br />

B Joyful is <strong>the</strong> seventh<br />

in a series of children’s books that<br />

teach young children basic biblical<br />

values. Also get Otter B <strong>the</strong><br />

stuffed animal!<br />

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

OtterB<br />

ILLUSTRATIONX - SAMY LOWE / ADOBE STOCK - YULIIA<br />

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FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


CHRISTMAS SECRETS / KIDS & TEENS<br />

under wraps<br />

Our kids d<strong>on</strong>’t shake or squeeze <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

gifts to try and discover <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>tents.<br />

Instead, our family started a fun variati<strong>on</strong><br />

of gift giving that has become<br />

a Christmas traditi<strong>on</strong>. I assign a special<br />

wrapping paper for each child’s<br />

gifts. What’s <strong>the</strong> catch? The kids d<strong>on</strong>’t<br />

know which gift wrapping bel<strong>on</strong>gs to<br />

<strong>the</strong>m, and I d<strong>on</strong>’t put names <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

gifts because my husband and I know<br />

whose are whose. The kids always<br />

enjoy discovering which wrapping<br />

paper we chose for <strong>the</strong>m and what’s<br />

inside each package.<br />

—Shelly Snead<br />

color coded<br />

Gift Idea<br />

FROM FOCUS ON THE FAMILY<br />

DANGER ON A SILENT NIGHT<br />

by Marianne Hering and Nancy I. Sanders<br />

Danger <strong>on</strong> a Silent Night is <strong>the</strong> 12th<br />

book in “The Imaginati<strong>on</strong> Stati<strong>on</strong>”<br />

series, in which children are taught<br />

biblical less<strong>on</strong>s through familiar stories.<br />

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

One unique way we helped our kids keep a Christmas gift as a<br />

surprise was by creating a secret code. We assigned each family<br />

member a color, and any time we needed to talk about Christmas<br />

gifts or plans, we’d use <strong>the</strong> color code instead of names. For<br />

example, “Green needs to go buy Red’s gift” instead of “Mom<br />

needs to go buy Dad’s gift.” This way, <strong>the</strong> kids couldn’t accidentally<br />

slip up and reveal any surprises.<br />

—Spencer York<br />

HACKS & FACTS<br />

Gift Idea<br />

ILLUSTRATIONX - SAMY LOWE / UNSPLASH - JOANNA-KOSINSKA<br />

A FREE GIFT<br />

FOR TEEN GIRLS!<br />

This magazine is filled<br />

with godly advice, Bible<br />

readings, fashi<strong>on</strong> tips,<br />

quizzes and more to<br />

help young women build <strong>the</strong>ir life<br />

<strong>on</strong> faith!<br />

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

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 9


KIDS & TEENS / CHRISTMAS STORY<br />

HACKS & FACTS<br />

an interactive<br />

Nativity<br />

I have multiple Nativity sets, which<br />

I allow my kids to incorporate into<br />

playtime. Using dinosaurs, acti<strong>on</strong><br />

figures and toy cars, <strong>the</strong> kids take<br />

baby Jesus <strong>on</strong> all kinds<br />

of adventures!<br />

—Elizabeth James<br />

let your light shine<br />

At Christmas, our family ga<strong>the</strong>rs in a small, dark room in our house and discusses<br />

how <strong>the</strong> world was living in darkness. As we recount <strong>the</strong> story of Jesus’<br />

birth, we pass out candles and light <strong>the</strong>m so <strong>the</strong>y illuminate <strong>the</strong> room. Then<br />

we talk about how Jesus came as <strong>the</strong> Light of <strong>the</strong> World.<br />

an almost accurate story<br />

—Alyssa Pruitt<br />

One Christmas, I wrote down <strong>the</strong> Christmas story as told by my children. I put<br />

it <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> inside of our Christmas cards for every<strong>on</strong>e to read. Here is <strong>the</strong> last bit<br />

to give you a sample of how my children have begun to know <strong>the</strong> story.<br />

• J<strong>on</strong>athan (5): Then wise men came and gave gifts for <strong>the</strong> baby Jesus Christ.<br />

• Sarah (7): No, it wasn’t “Christ” yet. Just “Jesus.”<br />

I plan to do this every year so I can see how <strong>the</strong>y mature in <strong>the</strong>ir understanding<br />

of <strong>the</strong> Nativity and its significance to our faith.<br />

—Jesse Neve<br />

A STABLE<br />

LESSON<br />

One Christmas, I took my kids to<br />

a local farm where we saw many<br />

sheep and o<strong>the</strong>r animals. The kids<br />

observed <strong>the</strong> sounds and smells<br />

while we discussed Jesus coming<br />

from heaven to be born in a stable—<br />

lying in a feeding trough while surrounded<br />

by farm animals. It was such<br />

a simple, profound activity.<br />

—Courtney Roberts<br />

back to<br />

Bethlehem<br />

I call <strong>on</strong>e of our<br />

Christmas traditi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

“Back to Bethlehem.”<br />

On Christmas Eve,<br />

we take an imaginary<br />

adventure to<br />

Bethlehem, just before<br />

Jesus was born. We<br />

sit <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> floor for<br />

a candlelit, Middle<br />

Eastern-style meal.<br />

We even dress in<br />

period-appropriate<br />

clothing with sheets<br />

for tunics and homemade<br />

headdresses. I<br />

usually serve simple<br />

foods such as hummus,<br />

rice, grapes, olives and<br />

pita bread.<br />

During dinner we<br />

discuss why Jesus<br />

came—that He arrived<br />

in Bethlehem <strong>on</strong> God’s<br />

missi<strong>on</strong> to save humankind<br />

from our sins. It’s<br />

been a huge success,<br />

and every year <strong>the</strong>y ask<br />

me if we can do “<strong>the</strong><br />

special meal” again.<br />

—Christina Johns<strong>on</strong><br />

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LOVING CHURCH / KIDS & TEENS<br />

HACKS & FACTS<br />

INVITATION TO CELEBRATE<br />

We made Sunday a special day for our family by making a list of people we wanted to invite to church. On<br />

Saturdays we’d visit a family member or two from <strong>the</strong> list and invite <strong>the</strong>m to our church. We started out inviting<br />

extended family members, but so<strong>on</strong> extended <strong>the</strong> invite to friends, as well.<br />

Then, early Sunday morning, we’d all get toge<strong>the</strong>r for breakfast doughnuts. After church, we’d enjoy lunch<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r. This let <strong>the</strong> children see that church is more than what <strong>the</strong>y see as a boring service <strong>on</strong> Sunday. It can be<br />

a whole weekend celebrati<strong>on</strong> with family and friends.<br />

—Angela Pratt<br />

ADOBE STOCK - KRAKENIMAGES<br />

value of volunteering<br />

We discovered that volunteering in children’s ministry with<br />

our kids gave <strong>the</strong>m a better attitude about attending church.<br />

My husband and I were involved in preschool children’s ministry,<br />

and our kids helped so that we could minister toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

as a family.<br />

But when our kids seemed unmotivated or exhausted, we<br />

let <strong>the</strong>m have a worship day instead. Releasing <strong>the</strong>m from<br />

a sense of duty took <strong>the</strong> pressure off, which taught <strong>the</strong>m<br />

that our relati<strong>on</strong>ship with Christ and <strong>on</strong>e ano<strong>the</strong>r was more<br />

important than <strong>the</strong>ir obligati<strong>on</strong> to serve.<br />

—D<strong>on</strong>na Elizabeth Love<br />

making friends<br />

Our daughters love going to church. One<br />

way that we’ve unintenti<strong>on</strong>ally—but effectively—cultivated<br />

this enthusiasm is by pursuing<br />

friendships with o<strong>the</strong>r families from church,<br />

especially families with young children. We<br />

meet with <strong>the</strong>m for dinners, park dates or afterno<strong>on</strong>s<br />

in each o<strong>the</strong>r’s houses. This has grown a<br />

love for our church family so much so that our<br />

girls are genuinely excited to be with every<strong>on</strong>e<br />

when we ga<strong>the</strong>r <strong>on</strong> Sundays.<br />

—Amber Bulk<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 11


KIDS & TEENS / SERVICE<br />

BEYOND<br />

THEIR<br />

WISH LISTS<br />

Encourage your<br />

kids to serve o<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

this Christmas<br />

BY KAY WILLS WYMA<br />

ILLUSTRATIONS BY ORIOL VIDALOR<br />

WHEN WE WERE KIDS, my sister and I knew that <strong>the</strong><br />

Christmas seas<strong>on</strong> had arrived when <strong>the</strong> Sears catalog came sliding<br />

through <strong>the</strong> mail slot. Oh, <strong>the</strong> excitement and <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>templati<strong>on</strong> to<br />

come! We’d sit for hours <strong>on</strong> our shag-carpeted floor, flipping pages<br />

and clipping items to arrange <strong>on</strong> our gift lists, new versi<strong>on</strong>s of which<br />

were promptly handed to our mo<strong>the</strong>r. Come Christmas Eve, we fully<br />

expected to find <strong>the</strong> goods beneath <strong>the</strong> tree, hidden in bright boxes<br />

with bows. So, in our home, <strong>the</strong> arrival of Christmas was proclaimed<br />

with wish lists and store catalogs.<br />

Sure, we celebrated <strong>the</strong> true reas<strong>on</strong> for <strong>the</strong> seas<strong>on</strong>. In school programs<br />

we dressed in white and announced in accidental harm<strong>on</strong>y <strong>the</strong><br />

arrival of <strong>the</strong> King. But I can’t deny that, for me, <strong>the</strong> holiday was all<br />

about <strong>the</strong> gifts. Correcti<strong>on</strong>: all about receiving gifts.<br />

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Sign kids up<br />

as a gift for<br />

Christmas!<br />

Club members get instant<br />

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Eyes focused elsewhere<br />

Today, I watch my kids walking <strong>the</strong> same road. Can you blame<br />

<strong>the</strong>m? Children throughout <strong>the</strong> generati<strong>on</strong>s have delighted in <strong>the</strong><br />

mystery and excitement of Christmas gifts. And <strong>the</strong>n <strong>the</strong>re is <strong>the</strong><br />

truth that Christmas is absolutely about gifts, or more accurately,<br />

<strong>the</strong> gift. The gift that cost <strong>the</strong> Giver everything—<strong>the</strong> gift of a Savior.<br />

And so I find myself torn between <strong>the</strong> childhood joy of Christmas<br />

and a desire to celebrate <strong>the</strong> seas<strong>on</strong> in a way that reflects our<br />

family’s faith and values.<br />

It seems that Christmas moves us toward competing behaviors.<br />

On <strong>on</strong>e side, we praise God for <strong>the</strong> birth of our Savior. On <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

side we . . . scramble. And shop. And delight in all <strong>the</strong> loot. Around<br />

our house, <strong>the</strong> moods <strong>on</strong> Christmas Day are often directly dependent<br />

<strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> perfecti<strong>on</strong> of <strong>the</strong> gifts received. Those gifts are talked<br />

about at school and with friends for weeks <strong>on</strong> end. How many c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

begin with, “What did you get for Christmas?”<br />

I want my kids to experience more of <strong>the</strong> truth behind<br />

Christmas so our family can be freed from <strong>the</strong> culture’s traditi<strong>on</strong><br />

of making it about ourselves and <strong>the</strong> things we accumulate. I want<br />

<strong>the</strong>m to genuinely celebrate and worship—and yet still enjoy <strong>the</strong><br />

gifts <strong>the</strong>y receive in remembrance of <strong>the</strong> gift of <strong>the</strong> Savior. To do<br />

so, I aim to create an o<strong>the</strong>rs-centered atmosphere in our home, an<br />

envir<strong>on</strong>ment of giving and service during <strong>the</strong> holidays. When our<br />

eyes are focused elsewhere, <strong>the</strong>re’s a lot less time and energy to<br />

focus <strong>on</strong> what we’re getting this year.<br />

Sign up today at<br />

App.AdventuresInOdyssey.com<br />

or call<br />

1.844.622.9448<br />

Baby steps to an<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs-centered mindset<br />

I couldn’t help but think about my days scouring <strong>the</strong> Sears catalog<br />

when I recently saw my s<strong>on</strong> doing <strong>the</strong> same thing through a newspaper<br />

flyer. Checking it all out, he had marked with a highlighter a<br />

number of things he wanted for Christmas.<br />

“What are you up to?” I asked in <strong>the</strong> way parents do—already<br />

knowing <strong>the</strong> answer.<br />

“Oh, I just thought I’d show you a few things I want.”<br />

I looked at his choices. Nothing wr<strong>on</strong>g with any of <strong>the</strong>m. “Did<br />

you see anything for your sister?”<br />

“No.” Pause. “I was just looking for me.”<br />

Well, at least he was being h<strong>on</strong>est. Often, I’m probably doing<br />

ADOBE STOCK - TWINS DESIGN STUDIO


SERVICE / KIDS & TEENS<br />

Not (Just) About Me<br />

Ideas for encouraging<br />

a spirit of giving<br />

Give when you get. Encourage your kids<br />

to give away a toy every time a new <strong>on</strong>e is<br />

received, or brainstorm how to “pay-forward”<br />

favors from friends and neighbors. As your<br />

kids make <strong>the</strong>ir wish lists for Christmas, have<br />

<strong>the</strong>m also make a “Give List”—a list of items<br />

<strong>the</strong>y plan to make, d<strong>on</strong>ate or buy for friends<br />

and neighbors in need.<br />

<strong>the</strong> same thing—looking out for me. But throughout <strong>the</strong> year—<br />

and especially as <strong>the</strong> catalogs and commercialism of Christmas<br />

arrive—I’m learning that <strong>the</strong>re are opportunities to nudge our<br />

kids toward having an attitude and an awareness of blessing o<strong>the</strong>rs.<br />

One year, I actually took my kids’ wish lists and purchased<br />

and wrapped a few of <strong>the</strong> coveted items. I <strong>the</strong>n encouraged <strong>the</strong>m<br />

to give those packages to some<strong>on</strong>e in need, some<strong>on</strong>e who would<br />

be thrilled to receive <strong>the</strong>se things. It’s not something I’d try often,<br />

but for <strong>on</strong>ce I wanted my kids to recognize how giving away <strong>the</strong><br />

gift <strong>the</strong>y wanted is quite a profound act.<br />

The delight of unexpected kindness<br />

Here’s a fun family meeting idea: With your kids, c<strong>on</strong>sider for a<br />

moment who in your circle of acquaintances has had a hard year.<br />

Has some<strong>on</strong>e lost a job or a loved <strong>on</strong>e? Or are <strong>the</strong>y simply al<strong>on</strong>e?<br />

Neighbors, close friends, some<strong>on</strong>e from school—whoever <strong>the</strong><br />

individuals are, keep <strong>the</strong>m in mind as you head to <strong>the</strong> store for<br />

<strong>on</strong>e of your Christmas shopping outings. As a family, wrap and<br />

label <strong>the</strong> gifts, and deliver <strong>the</strong>m as Christmas approaches. I have<br />

friends who, <strong>on</strong> Christmas Eve, deliver gifts an<strong>on</strong>ymously. They<br />

park a few houses away with <strong>the</strong>ir lights off and send swift and<br />

speedy family members to place <strong>the</strong> gifts <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> stoop. Then <strong>the</strong>y<br />

ring <strong>the</strong> bell and run.<br />

Talk <strong>the</strong> walk. So many of life’s less<strong>on</strong>s are<br />

caught, not taught. Have you modeled a<br />

heart of generosity? In your c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

around <strong>the</strong> home, and in your family prayers,<br />

help your kids “catch” positive language that<br />

reflects your family’s desire to give and help<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs.<br />

Think outside <strong>the</strong> box. Not every Christmas<br />

gift has to come wrapped in pretty paper<br />

or include a gift card. Encourage your kids<br />

to think of how <strong>the</strong>y can use <strong>the</strong>ir time and<br />

skills to give to o<strong>the</strong>rs. Is <strong>the</strong>re a neighbor<br />

who needs help with yard work or snow<br />

removal? Is <strong>the</strong>re a friend at church who<br />

would love to learn how to ice skate or play<br />

chess? Can teens babysit for a busy couple<br />

who have just welcomed a child into <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

home?<br />

Make it a team effort. Spending family time<br />

meeting o<strong>the</strong>rs’ needs by way of service<br />

projects or ministries helps your kids realize<br />

how much <strong>the</strong>y really have. It also creates<br />

healthy patterns of “o<strong>the</strong>rs-mindedness.” As<br />

your kids grow older, church ministries and<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r service opportunities will seem less<br />

intimidating because giving will have always<br />

been a part of your family culture.<br />

—Kate Motaung<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 15


KIDS & TEENS / SERVICE<br />

The pen is mightier . . .<br />

Sometimes <strong>the</strong> most effective way to bless some<strong>on</strong>e is<br />

pretty simple. Culture has trained us to believe that blessings<br />

arrive in pretty boxes accompanied by gift receipts.<br />

But time and commitment to a relati<strong>on</strong>ship are often <strong>the</strong><br />

better gift.<br />

A friend inspired me recently through her dedicati<strong>on</strong> to<br />

a passing art form: <strong>the</strong> handwritten note. She sits with her<br />

children and pulls <strong>the</strong>m out of texting mode for an evening,<br />

encouraging <strong>the</strong>m to do what our grandparents did—simply<br />

write a letter about stuff. If you want to do <strong>the</strong> same,<br />

you can have your kids write about <strong>the</strong> simple things—<br />

that recent math test, a funny story, <strong>the</strong> friends <strong>the</strong>y hang<br />

out with, what <strong>the</strong>y’re worried or excited about. One of<br />

<strong>the</strong> sweetest by-products of this o<strong>the</strong>rs-centered, outside<strong>the</strong>ir-comfort-z<strong>on</strong>e<br />

exercise is creativity. Encourage your<br />

children to use skills learned in school to bless o<strong>the</strong>rs,<br />

especially those in <strong>the</strong>ir lives who may feel forgotten. And<br />

though Christmas is a great time to begin this exercise, it’s<br />

best if <strong>the</strong> gift is <strong>on</strong>e of an <strong>on</strong>going commitment. Christmas<br />

letters in July? Why not?<br />

A multitude of opportunities<br />

There are countless “o<strong>the</strong>rs-centered” activities at our fingertips.<br />

We d<strong>on</strong>’t have to look far to find a homeless shelter<br />

needing supplies or a soup kitchen needing hands or a<br />

food bank needing shelf stockers. There are children who<br />

need warm clo<strong>the</strong>s, neighbors who need help or friendship.<br />

Have we slowed down enough to know? Have we trained<br />

our kids to look outside <strong>the</strong>mselves to see?<br />

I often try to c<strong>on</strong>nect an o<strong>the</strong>rs-centered worldview with<br />

<strong>the</strong> positive effects it has <strong>on</strong> us. So, after my family and I<br />

give our time or our resources, I ask <strong>the</strong> questi<strong>on</strong>, “How<br />

does it feel?” When d<strong>on</strong>e <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> sly, without getting something<br />

in return, <strong>the</strong> pure act of giving jolts even <strong>the</strong> jaded.<br />

One year, my family made a trip to <strong>the</strong> dollar store,<br />

where we all pooled our m<strong>on</strong>ey to buy coloring books<br />

requested by a local organizati<strong>on</strong> that provided disadvantaged<br />

kids with wrapped gifts.<br />

My kids raced to <strong>the</strong> back of <strong>the</strong> store where <strong>the</strong> books<br />

resided. They perused all <strong>the</strong> opti<strong>on</strong>s, loading our cart with<br />

a variety of books for girls and a separate stack for boys. As<br />

<strong>the</strong>y worked, it struck <strong>the</strong>m that each of <strong>the</strong>se books would<br />

be some child’s Christmas gift.<br />

THE PEACE PROJECT: A 30-DAY<br />

EXPERIMENT PRACTICING THANK-<br />

FULNESS, KINDNESS AND MERCY<br />

by Kay Wills Wyma<br />

This 30-day experiment invites you to experience<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>al peace through <strong>the</strong> outward practices of<br />

thankfulness, kindness and mercy. In <strong>the</strong>se hopeful<br />

pages, Kay encourages us to see o<strong>the</strong>rs—as well<br />

as ourselves—not as obstacles but as people of<br />

great worth.<br />

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

“Is this all <strong>the</strong>se kids are getting for Christmas?” <strong>on</strong>e child<br />

asked.<br />

“I d<strong>on</strong>’t know, swee<strong>the</strong>art. I do know that each kid will at<br />

least get to open something.”<br />

The o<strong>the</strong>rs p<strong>on</strong>dered this. “We have to get <strong>the</strong>m markers,<br />

too,” <strong>on</strong>e said.<br />

I watched and soaked in <strong>the</strong> moment. As we drove away, my<br />

passenger-seat child floated some music my way: “You know,<br />

Mom. I really d<strong>on</strong>’t need anything for Christmas.”<br />

“What do you mean?” I asked.<br />

“Well . . . it’s just . . . I d<strong>on</strong>’t need anything.”<br />

I didn’t press him. We both understood. Faced with <strong>the</strong> fact<br />

that lots of kids would be thrilled to get a coloring book and<br />

markers—items my kids might c<strong>on</strong>sider peripheral—it made<br />

<strong>the</strong> hoped-for iPad a bit less desirable.<br />

My husband, J<strong>on</strong>, and I never want our kids to feel guilty<br />

about receiving gifts during this joy-filled seas<strong>on</strong>. We want<br />

<strong>the</strong>m to freely enjoy <strong>the</strong> gifts <strong>the</strong>y get in <strong>the</strong> same way that<br />

our heavenly Fa<strong>the</strong>r wants us to enjoy <strong>the</strong> w<strong>on</strong>derful and<br />

amazing gifts bestowed <strong>on</strong> us. But my hope and prayer are<br />

that remembering o<strong>the</strong>rs this seas<strong>on</strong> and meeting needs will<br />

move <strong>the</strong> hearts and minds of my kids. What I hope <strong>the</strong>y’ll<br />

gain is a clear recogniti<strong>on</strong> of <strong>the</strong> greatest gift ever given.<br />

Kay Wills Wyma is <strong>the</strong> author of The Peace Project: A 30-day experiment<br />

practicing thankfulness, kindness and mercy.<br />

This article was first published in <strong>the</strong> <strong>December</strong> 2012 editi<strong>on</strong> of Thriving<br />

<strong>Family</strong> magazine. © 2012 Kay Wills Wyma. All rights reserved. Used with<br />

permissi<strong>on</strong>.<br />

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DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


MEDIA / KIDS & TEENS<br />

UPCOMING REVIEWS<br />

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

visit PluggedIn.com, <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>’s<br />

media review and discernment website.<br />

‘MOM, WHAT DOES<br />

NONBINARY MEAN?’<br />

BY ADAM HOLZ<br />

MAYBE YOUR KIDS haven’t asked about LGBT issues<br />

yet. But given our current cultural climate, <strong>the</strong> topic may<br />

come up so<strong>on</strong>er than later.<br />

The mainstream entertainment world has embraced a<br />

pro-LGBT worldview. Those ideas increasingly permeate<br />

kids’ entertainment, whe<strong>the</strong>r it’s <strong>the</strong> n<strong>on</strong>binary character in<br />

Pixar’s Elemental, pro-trans messaging in Spider-Man: Across<br />

<strong>the</strong> Spider-Verse or <strong>the</strong> robot Nightshade in “Transformers:<br />

EarthSpark,” who goes by <strong>the</strong>y/<strong>the</strong>m pr<strong>on</strong>ouns. It’s getting<br />

hard to find children’s programming that’s not pushing<br />

<strong>the</strong>se messages.<br />

So how should parents resp<strong>on</strong>d?<br />

First, even if we prefer to avoid <strong>the</strong>se topics, <strong>the</strong> mainstream<br />

culture is infusing <strong>the</strong>m into everything we watch. So,<br />

instead of having a singular “talk,” we need to have <strong>on</strong>going,<br />

age-appropriate c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

These c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s involve teaching what Scripture says<br />

about God’s purpose and intent for sexuality. There, we see<br />

that God designed sex as a good and beautiful gift, but <strong>on</strong>e<br />

intended for expressi<strong>on</strong> in marriage between a man and a<br />

woman.<br />

As far as entertainment goes, we’ll likely say no to many<br />

products preaching an unbiblical worldview. That said,<br />

some examples could create opportunities to practice thinking<br />

critically and biblically by asking basic questi<strong>on</strong>s: What<br />

is <strong>the</strong> message here? How does that line up with Scripture?<br />

What ideas do <strong>the</strong>y want viewers to embrace?<br />

These w<strong>on</strong>’t always be easy c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s. But initiating<br />

<strong>the</strong>m shows our kids that we’re not afraid to talk about LGBT<br />

issues, and that we’re willing to discuss <strong>the</strong>m with truth and<br />

grace from a biblical perspective.<br />

WONKA<br />

What adventures<br />

await a young<br />

Willy before<br />

opening his<br />

famous chocolate<br />

factory?<br />

SCHEDULED RELEASE:<br />

DEC. 15<br />

AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM<br />

Will Arthur find a way to save Atlantis from an<br />

ancient power?<br />

SCHEDULED RELEASE: DEC. 20<br />

MIGRATION<br />

Can a family of ducks<br />

find <strong>the</strong>ir way from<br />

New England to<br />

<strong>the</strong> Bahamas?<br />

SCHEDULED RELEASE:<br />

DEC. 22<br />

IMDB<br />

Adam Holz is <strong>the</strong> director of Plugged In. He and his wife, Jennifer, have<br />

three children.<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 17


KIDS & TEENS / ADULT KIDS<br />

no more ‘drill<br />

sergeant’ mom<br />

Relating to our<br />

children as adults<br />

BY GRACE ASSANTE<br />

WHILE I WAS VISITING<br />

my s<strong>on</strong>’s family, my s<strong>on</strong> proudly<br />

pointed out <strong>the</strong> schedule he’d<br />

created for his two preschool<br />

children. He had mapped out<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir daily routine <strong>on</strong> a whiteboard<br />

and mounted it <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

dining room wall. Blocks of time<br />

for meals, play, reading and rest<br />

were clearly and colorfully displayed.<br />

My s<strong>on</strong> added stickers and pictures<br />

so his children could anticipate what<br />

was next, even without an adult’s<br />

assistance.<br />

As I gazed at <strong>the</strong> board, my s<strong>on</strong><br />

asked, “What do you think, Mom?”<br />

I could have offered a resp<strong>on</strong>se he<br />

would have appreciated:<br />

“I can see you really worked hard <strong>on</strong><br />

that schedule.”<br />

“Please make a daily schedule for<br />

me! Grandma needs it, too.”<br />

But sadly, I didn’t say <strong>the</strong>se things.<br />

Instead, I said something like this:<br />

“You know, your kids are too young for<br />

a schedule. They just need to play.”<br />

My s<strong>on</strong>’s expressi<strong>on</strong> registered<br />

disappointment and annoyance. I<br />

immediately realized my blunder. I<br />

had not <strong>on</strong>ly overstepped a boundary;<br />

I had missed an opportunity to<br />

express love and support for him as<br />

a fa<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

My criticism also revealed my<br />

need for c<strong>on</strong>trol. When my children<br />

were young, I set <strong>the</strong> bedtime schedule,<br />

arranged playdates, planned and<br />

prepared <strong>the</strong> meals and read to <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

Every<strong>on</strong>e looked to me to plan <strong>the</strong><br />

day. Now, my s<strong>on</strong> had stepped up as a<br />

dad to help his wife by planning daily<br />

activities for <strong>the</strong>ir small children. But<br />

my “drill sergeant Mom” tendencies<br />

resurfaced with a knee-jerk reacti<strong>on</strong> to<br />

any<strong>on</strong>e making a plan except me.<br />

I apologized, and he forgave me, but<br />

I regretted not supporting his efforts<br />

as a fa<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Learning to relate to our children as<br />

adults and parents can be challenging.<br />

It can also be tempting to critique <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

plans and efforts.<br />

I often wish some<strong>on</strong>e had shared<br />

this parenting advice with me:<br />

• As your children grow, start letting<br />

go of <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>trols and allow <strong>the</strong>m to<br />

make <strong>the</strong>ir own decisi<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

• Relax and let your adult children<br />

implement <strong>the</strong>ir plans without critique<br />

or criticism.<br />

• Look for opportunities to affirm and<br />

support your adult children.<br />

One of <strong>the</strong> greatest rewards of having<br />

adult kids is watching <strong>the</strong>m make<br />

healthy, life-giving decisi<strong>on</strong>s for<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir own families. D<strong>on</strong>’t miss out <strong>on</strong><br />

opportunities to experience this joy! •<br />

Grace Assante loves stories of redempti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Her devoti<strong>on</strong>s and articles have appeared<br />

in various publicati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

ILLUSTRATIONX - SAMY LOWE<br />

18<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


couples<br />

“THANKS BE TO<br />

GOD FOR HIS<br />

INEXPRESSIBLE<br />

GIFT!”<br />

—2 CORINTHIANS 9:15<br />

ADOBE STOCK - PIXEL-SHOT<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 19


couples / IN-LAWS<br />

Christmas with <strong>the</strong> in-laws<br />

8 expert tips to help you and your spouse<br />

navigate extended family differences<br />

BY CARA PLETT<br />

FOR 11 MONTHS out of <strong>the</strong> year it can<br />

be tough enough to navigate two sets of in-laws,<br />

each with <strong>the</strong>ir own rules, be <strong>the</strong>y strict or lax;<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir own inside jokes, be <strong>the</strong>y dry or daffy;<br />

and <strong>the</strong>ir own set of manners, be <strong>the</strong>y poor or<br />

pristine.<br />

Now add to <strong>the</strong> agenda bright lights, seas<strong>on</strong>al<br />

soundtracks, deep-rooted traditi<strong>on</strong>s, family photos<br />

and heightened emoti<strong>on</strong>s—that’s right, it’s<br />

Christmas!<br />

Perhaps in your family, Christmas celebrati<strong>on</strong><br />

is a simple, solemn, dimly lit meal <strong>on</strong> Christmas<br />

Eve. The whirring of classical holiday hymns <strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> record player sets <strong>the</strong> serene mood—even<br />

before <strong>the</strong> tryptophan kicks in.<br />

Now what about your spouse’s parents? Get<br />

set for a three-day weekend packed with gingerbread-house-building<br />

competiti<strong>on</strong>s, Christmas<br />

cracker explosi<strong>on</strong>s and a PJ-all-day dress code.<br />

And as for background tunes? Alvin and <strong>the</strong><br />

Chipmunks blare through <strong>the</strong> surround sound.<br />

Before you turn into <strong>the</strong> Scrooge of your<br />

brood, though, d<strong>on</strong>’t forget that you’re an in-law<br />

too! How does your spouse’s family enjoy spending<br />

<strong>the</strong> holidays with you? What must <strong>the</strong>y think<br />

when you whip out that elf suit for Mr. Bobbles,<br />

<strong>the</strong> family cat?<br />

Whoever you are and whomever you’re celebrating<br />

with, read <strong>on</strong> for expert tips <strong>on</strong> how to<br />

have a happy family holiday!<br />

20<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


IN-LAWS / couples<br />

Holiday how-tos for<br />

happy in-laws and you<br />

Every family is different, and those differences<br />

become especially apparent during <strong>the</strong> holidays.<br />

As Christians we know that <strong>the</strong> true reas<strong>on</strong> for<br />

<strong>the</strong> seas<strong>on</strong> is <strong>the</strong> gift of our Lord Jesus Christ, and<br />

what better reas<strong>on</strong> to make this Christmas <strong>on</strong>e of<br />

peace and family unity?<br />

But how do you do that? Here are eight tips<br />

from people who know how to get your holiday<br />

off to a good start:<br />

ISTOCK - SHIRONOSOV, ELENAMEDVEDEVA<br />

1<br />

Who, when, where?<br />

Mike* and Leah* were caught between<br />

two sets of in-laws—both local, both<br />

huge Christmas celebrators. To be fair,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y made <strong>the</strong> decisi<strong>on</strong> as a couple to<br />

spend Christmas Eve with Leah’s parents<br />

and Christmas Day with Mike’s,<br />

with <strong>the</strong> plan to alternate every year.<br />

But when Mike’s parents found out,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y had ano<strong>the</strong>r idea. They suggested<br />

spreading <strong>the</strong> Christmas cheer (and<br />

food) out a bit so every<strong>on</strong>e could have<br />

a more relaxed holiday. And that’s <strong>the</strong><br />

year <strong>the</strong> couple celebrated Christmas<br />

<strong>on</strong> Dec. 14 with Mike’s side! After<br />

all, <strong>the</strong> holiday is about celebrating<br />

Christ’s birth, not about celebrating<br />

Dec. 25.<br />

Can you perfectly please every<strong>on</strong>e,<br />

every year for every holiday? Probably<br />

not. But you can work toward a balanced<br />

and fair holiday with a heart for<br />

h<strong>on</strong>ouring your extended family, while<br />

not neglecting to create special memories<br />

and moments with your spouse<br />

and kids. In <strong>the</strong> book Complete Guide<br />

to <strong>the</strong> First Five Years of Marriage,<br />

Wilfred Wooten writes, “C<strong>on</strong>sider how<br />

your parents and o<strong>the</strong>r relatives may<br />

wish to have you involved. Perhaps<br />

a Christmas Eve service toge<strong>the</strong>r is<br />

important to <strong>the</strong> wife’s parents, while<br />

Christmas dinner is central to <strong>the</strong> husband’s.<br />

Try to be open to <strong>the</strong> desires of<br />

family members—but not c<strong>on</strong>trolled<br />

by <strong>the</strong>m.”<br />

Festivities involve<br />

2<br />

food, so d<strong>on</strong>’t be rude<br />

“Cooking for large groups of people<br />

takes quite a bit of planning, energy<br />

and resources,” marriage and family<br />

<strong>the</strong>rapist Diana Bigham points out.<br />

“Offer to help cook to lighten <strong>the</strong> burden<br />

or pitch in <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> food expense.<br />

Always help clean up after meals and<br />

any time <strong>the</strong>re is a mess (especially if<br />

it was made by your child).”<br />

D<strong>on</strong>’t be a picky eater or drinker,<br />

ei<strong>the</strong>r. You think green bean casserole<br />

is soppy and fattening, but to<br />

<strong>the</strong>m it’s a favourite family traditi<strong>on</strong>—<br />

even if it is a soppy, fattening <strong>on</strong>e! If<br />

you must have your green salad, how<br />

about offering to provide it? Who<br />

knows? It may become traditi<strong>on</strong> for<br />

you to provide <strong>the</strong> fresh greens at all<br />

family get-toge<strong>the</strong>rs.<br />

Traditi<strong>on</strong>s: Yours, mine<br />

3<br />

and ours<br />

“Balance <strong>the</strong> development of your own<br />

traditi<strong>on</strong>s with those of <strong>the</strong> homes<br />

you came from,” suggests Wooten.<br />

And why not start some shared traditi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

every<strong>on</strong>e can enjoy? For <strong>on</strong>e<br />

family, two traditi<strong>on</strong>al turkey dinners<br />

within two days was simply too<br />

much of a good thing. So, with <strong>on</strong>e<br />

side of <strong>the</strong> in-laws, this family opted<br />

for a new “traditi<strong>on</strong>al” dinner—a<br />

Ukrainian Christmas meal. Bring <strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> perogies, farmer’s sausage and<br />

cabbage rolls!<br />

Discuss with your spouse what traditi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

you’d like to establish as a<br />

couple and as your own family. “It<br />

may be a lot easier for you and your<br />

spouse to change what you want<br />

for <strong>the</strong> holidays than for parents<br />

to adjust what’s been important to<br />

<strong>the</strong>m for many years,” writes Wooten.<br />

But that doesn’t mean that parents<br />

can’t be flexible, right? Maybe waking<br />

up for homemade cinnam<strong>on</strong> buns<br />

and reading <strong>the</strong> biblical account of<br />

Christ’s birth with your spouse and<br />

kids would be your ideal Christmas<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 21


couples / IN-LAWS<br />

morning. If so, your in-laws can<br />

kindly wait until lunchtime to celebrate<br />

with you.<br />

4<br />

Manners make a<br />

difference<br />

Social graces put a smile <strong>on</strong> family<br />

faces—and Bigham knows it: “Saying<br />

‘please’ and ‘thank you’ really goes<br />

a l<strong>on</strong>g way. Expressing appreciati<strong>on</strong><br />

and gratitude really helps to make<br />

<strong>the</strong> envir<strong>on</strong>ment more friendly and<br />

caring.”<br />

Also, you can’t go wr<strong>on</strong>g with compliments—as<br />

l<strong>on</strong>g as <strong>the</strong>y are sincere.<br />

Is your mo<strong>the</strong>r-in-law a talented<br />

tablescaper? Break <strong>the</strong> ice by letting<br />

her know you appreciate <strong>the</strong> effort<br />

she puts into making <strong>the</strong> holidays<br />

beautiful—and ask her for some tips!<br />

5<br />

Sharing your spouse<br />

Get a little jealous when your wife<br />

spends time catching up and joking<br />

around with her siblings ra<strong>the</strong>r than<br />

cozying up to you by <strong>the</strong> fire? “Sharing<br />

isn’t just a less<strong>on</strong> for children,” says<br />

Bigham. “Allow your spouse to spend<br />

time with <strong>the</strong> people [he or she] grew<br />

up with and d<strong>on</strong>’t expect <strong>the</strong>m to <strong>on</strong>ly<br />

be with you <strong>the</strong> whole time. This helps<br />

<strong>the</strong>m rec<strong>on</strong>nect and perhaps even<br />

work out issues that may be affecting<br />

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

Who’s your number<br />

6<br />

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

“Show your spouse that he or she is<br />

number <strong>on</strong>e in your eyes,” suggests<br />

Romie Hurley, licensed professi<strong>on</strong>al<br />

counsellor. This means that in <strong>the</strong><br />

debate over your husband’s turkey<br />

carving skills versus your bro<strong>the</strong>r-inlaw-who-can-do-no-wr<strong>on</strong>g’s<br />

carving,<br />

you shower support and respect <strong>on</strong><br />

your gobbler-slicing virtuoso.<br />

Be careful, though. As you ally with<br />

your spouse, d<strong>on</strong>’t make <strong>the</strong> holidays<br />

an “us vs. <strong>the</strong>m” family feud.<br />

Instead, focus <strong>on</strong> unity with your<br />

extended family whenever possible.<br />

This allied attitude begins even before<br />

you receive your first holiday hug<br />

from your mom-in-law. Do you ever<br />

complain about your in-laws to your<br />

spouse? In keeping with <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>me to<br />

keep your spouse first <strong>on</strong> your proverbial<br />

Christmas list, Hurley encourages<br />

you to “remember that you’re loving<br />

your spouse by h<strong>on</strong>ouring his or her<br />

parents,” at all times.<br />

In-laws who aren’t<br />

7<br />

into your faith<br />

So, <strong>the</strong>re’s a 10-foot inflatable Santa<br />

<strong>on</strong> your in-law’s fr<strong>on</strong>t lawn. And <strong>on</strong><br />

Christmas morning your spouse’s<br />

parents show video footage to <strong>the</strong><br />

kids of Santa (or Grandpa in a Santa<br />

suit) putting presents under <strong>the</strong> tree.<br />

They point to half-eaten cookies and<br />

“magic” red glitter scattered around<br />

<strong>the</strong> fireplace.<br />

You want your kids to love Christ<br />

more than Kris Kringle, so what do<br />

you do? In Complete Guide to <strong>the</strong> First<br />

Five Years of Marriage, Dr. Phillip J.<br />

Swihart writes, “Enjoying <strong>the</strong> family<br />

event is possible, even if you follow it<br />

with a reminder to <strong>the</strong> children about<br />

<strong>the</strong> real meaning of <strong>the</strong> holiday.” You<br />

could also ask your in-laws if it’d be<br />

OK for you to say grace before meals.<br />

8<br />

Joining in <strong>the</strong> joviality<br />

You’re spending time with your<br />

in-laws not just so your spouse can<br />

be with his family, but so you can be a<br />

part of his family! That’s why Bigham<br />

says, “Participate. Not sure how?<br />

Talk with your spouse about helping<br />

include you in <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

and activities. You are now a part of<br />

your spouse’s family and <strong>the</strong>y want<br />

to get to know you. Being uninvolved<br />

looks unfavourable, though perhaps<br />

unintenti<strong>on</strong>ally.”<br />

To add a bit of low-pressure fun,<br />

come prepared with puzzles, movies<br />

or board games to play with <strong>the</strong> whole<br />

family. Just make sure your round of<br />

Dutch Blitz doesn’t get too competitive—unless<br />

every<strong>on</strong>e is into that sort<br />

of thing.<br />

*Names changed to protect privacy<br />

Cara Plett is an in-house writer for <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong><br />

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

© 2014 <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> (Canada)<br />

Associati<strong>on</strong>. All rights reserved.<br />

ISTOCK - SHIRONOSOV, ELENAMEDVEDEVA<br />

22<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


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1<br />

Any present<br />

from your spouse<br />

that you are now<br />

regifting<br />

CHRISTMAS LISTS / COUPLES<br />

3<br />

Dummies how-to manuals<br />

for projects your spouse recently<br />

has had troubles with or that you<br />

want your spouse to do<br />

4<br />

Candles with a<br />

scent that your<br />

spouse despises<br />

5<br />

The white<br />

elephant gift from<br />

last year’s office<br />

Christmas party<br />

2<br />

Furniture from<br />

your neighbor’s<br />

yard sale<br />

6<br />

Alphabetized<br />

volumes of Bible<br />

devoti<strong>on</strong>s that your<br />

spouse needs<br />

to hear<br />

12 Gifts<br />

You Should Never<br />

Give Your Spouse<br />

BY KAT BITTNER<br />

ILLUSTRATIONS BY KARLA ALCAZAR<br />

7<br />

Last-minute,<br />

handmade<br />

coup<strong>on</strong>s for<br />

free hugs<br />

8<br />

Cookbooks with<br />

a title that starts<br />

Worst Cook<br />

9<br />

Your grandfa<strong>the</strong>r’s<br />

relic and now rusty<br />

woodworking tools<br />

12<br />

Hand-sewn<br />

garments made<br />

from burlap<br />

10<br />

Jewelry engraved<br />

with “property of”<br />

some<strong>on</strong>e else’s<br />

name<br />

11<br />

A spruce tree to plant<br />

in memory of a loved <strong>on</strong>e<br />

when you live in a tropical<br />

climate, or a palm tree in a<br />

temperate z<strong>on</strong>e<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 25


COUPLES / CHRISTMAS LISTS<br />

1<br />

Sharing exactly how<br />

your spouse has<br />

been a blessing to<br />

you during <strong>the</strong> year<br />

12 Gifts<br />

Your Spouse Will<br />

Love<br />

3<br />

Showing<br />

appreciati<strong>on</strong> for<br />

your spouse’s<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>al goals<br />

2<br />

Gifting a journal with a few<br />

filled-in pages, expressing<br />

your love for your spouse<br />

4<br />

Reminding your spouse of<br />

his or her worth in God’s<br />

eyes and as a partner in<br />

your marriage<br />

5<br />

Participating<br />

al<strong>on</strong>gside your<br />

spouse in an<br />

activity or hobby<br />

he or she enjoys,<br />

even if it’s not<br />

your favorite<br />

6<br />

Leaving<br />

encouraging<br />

notes for your<br />

spouse to find<br />

or sending little<br />

texts to surprise<br />

him or her<br />

during <strong>the</strong> day<br />

7<br />

Completing<br />

mundane tasks<br />

for your spouse,<br />

<strong>on</strong>es that he<br />

or she usually<br />

handles<br />

8<br />

Offering<br />

thoughtful<br />

gifts that show<br />

you truly<br />

know your<br />

spouse<br />

10<br />

Regularly finding<br />

ways to speak well<br />

of your spouse in<br />

fr<strong>on</strong>t of o<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

11<br />

Recounting f<strong>on</strong>d<br />

memories from<br />

your early years as<br />

a couple<br />

9<br />

Slowing down<br />

to listen to and<br />

support your<br />

spouse’s dreams<br />

12<br />

Giving your spouse<br />

a written prayer<br />

about him or her<br />

that is pers<strong>on</strong>al<br />

and pleasing<br />

26<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


faith &<br />

inspirati<strong>on</strong><br />

STOCKSY - YAROSLAV DANYLCHENKO<br />

“NOVELS ALLOW READERS<br />

TO GRAPPLE WITH MEANING,<br />

PURPOSE AND MORALITY TO<br />

AN EXTENT THAT ISN’T POSSIBLE<br />

THROUGH MOST OTHER MEDIUMS.”<br />

—JERRY B. JENKINS, PAGE 28<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 27


FAITH & INSPIRATION / STORYTELLING<br />

FAITH, FICTION<br />

AND THE<br />

POWER OF STORY<br />

Changing lives<br />

<strong>on</strong>e novel at a time<br />

BY JERRY B. JENKINS<br />

ILLUSTRATIONS BY KIRK DOUPONCE<br />

CREDIT TK<br />

28<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


STORYTELLING / FAITH & INSPIRATION<br />

THE CHOSEN: AND I<br />

WILL GIVE YOU REST<br />

by Jerry B. Jenkins<br />

Based <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> third seas<strong>on</strong> of <strong>the</strong> TV<br />

series “The Chosen,” this novel c<strong>on</strong>tinues<br />

to follow <strong>the</strong> ministry of Jesus.<br />

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

CREDIT ADOBE TK<br />

STOCK - JAMES THEW<br />

WHEN I WAS A CHILD, my parents read to me<br />

every night before bed, expanding my imaginati<strong>on</strong> and<br />

developing in me a love for reading—even before I was old<br />

enough to go to school. By first grade, I was reading at a<br />

fourth-grade level, and <strong>the</strong> joke in our family was that in college,<br />

I was still reading at a fourth-grade level.<br />

But seriously, what that bedtime reading instilled in me<br />

was a sense of w<strong>on</strong>der and curiosity that remains to this day.<br />

It exposed me to varied cultures, time periods and perspectives,<br />

enlarging my understanding of <strong>the</strong> world. I became<br />

a lifel<strong>on</strong>g learner, following my late mo<strong>the</strong>r’s c<strong>on</strong>victing<br />

example. Into her 80s, she was still not <strong>on</strong>ly a piano teacher<br />

but a piano student as well.<br />

So <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong> reas<strong>on</strong>s I believe ficti<strong>on</strong> is important is that<br />

it offers readers access to <strong>the</strong> same sense of w<strong>on</strong>der I felt as<br />

a child. Ano<strong>the</strong>r reas<strong>on</strong> is that it helps us c<strong>on</strong>nect with o<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

<strong>on</strong> a deeper level. When we read a novel, we in essence<br />

c<strong>on</strong>tract, or agree, with <strong>the</strong> author to temporarily suspend<br />

disbelief and enter <strong>the</strong> world and <strong>the</strong> scenarios he or she<br />

has created. We c<strong>on</strong>nect with fictitious characters viscerally,<br />

empathizing with <strong>the</strong>ir struggles and feeling <strong>the</strong>ir pain and<br />

joy. Ficti<strong>on</strong> has <strong>the</strong> power to build bridges between people,<br />

even those vastly different from <strong>on</strong>e ano<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Access to w<strong>on</strong>der<br />

Writing ficti<strong>on</strong> has allowed me to rub shoulders with some<br />

of <strong>the</strong> great novelists of our day, including many who ply<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir trade in <strong>the</strong> general market as opposed to <strong>the</strong> inspirati<strong>on</strong>al,<br />

where I’m most known (primarily for my “Left<br />

Behind” series and “The Chosen” series). I’ve found that<br />

many of my colleagues enjoy, as I do, hearing from fans who<br />

say things like, “Reading your novel changed my life.”<br />

I’m not entirely sure what that means to a general-market<br />

novelist, but my readers are often more specific. They’ll<br />

menti<strong>on</strong> moving from darkness to light, or even from death<br />

to life. They’ll tell me <strong>the</strong>y came to faith after reading something<br />

I created. Imagine impacting o<strong>the</strong>rs in a way so<br />

meaningful and transformative.<br />

One reader said that a prodigal s<strong>on</strong> came back to his faith<br />

after reading <strong>the</strong> first “Left Behind” title. He told his parents<br />

he was going to buy copies for <strong>the</strong> sketchy friends he’d been<br />

running with, but before he could, he died in a car wreck.<br />

His parents told us <strong>the</strong>y bought books for those friends who<br />

attended <strong>the</strong> funeral, and that several came to faith in Christ<br />

after reading <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

Ano<strong>the</strong>r letter was from a man in his 90s who said his<br />

eyes were so weak that he had to read Left Behind with a<br />

magnifying glass. He came to trust Christ for salvati<strong>on</strong> “not<br />

because of what I saw through <strong>the</strong> glass but what I saw<br />

through my heart.”<br />

Such letters trump any bestseller list or royalty check!<br />

A new writing adventure<br />

That ministry through words is partly why I was h<strong>on</strong>ored to<br />

be asked to hand-pick three Christian authors to write novels<br />

for <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong> that would help readers think<br />

deeply about modern issues from a biblical worldview. I<br />

chose three of my favorite writer friends, all of whom are<br />

celebrated novelists with stellar reputati<strong>on</strong>s for <strong>the</strong>ir abilities<br />

to move readers’ hearts and minds. Angela Hunt, Tamera<br />

Alexander and Chris Fabry exceeded even my greatest hopes,<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 29


FAITH & INSPIRATION / STORYTELLING<br />

each producing a page-turning read that digs<br />

deep into a c<strong>on</strong>temporary issue embodied in a<br />

compelling story.<br />

Their novels examine real-world situati<strong>on</strong>s: a<br />

family reeling from <strong>the</strong> specter of suicide, a couple<br />

facing <strong>the</strong> perils of infidelity and <strong>the</strong> challenge<br />

of a loved <strong>on</strong>e’s battle with dementia. As tough<br />

and raw as <strong>the</strong>se issues can be, in <strong>the</strong> hands of<br />

gifted authors, <strong>the</strong> stories motivate readers to<br />

cheer for struggling characters and imagine how<br />

<strong>the</strong>y can overcome battles in <strong>the</strong>ir own lives.<br />

It was a privilege to come al<strong>on</strong>gside and work<br />

with Chris, Angela and Tamera, colleagues who<br />

agree that stories well told allow us to explore<br />

<strong>the</strong> paramount questi<strong>on</strong>s of life in engaging and<br />

accessible ways. Novels allow readers to grapple<br />

with meaning, purpose and morality to an extent<br />

that isn’t possible through most o<strong>the</strong>r mediums.<br />

Ficti<strong>on</strong> has <strong>the</strong> power to transport us bey<strong>on</strong>d<br />

our rati<strong>on</strong>al minds into our hearts and souls. It<br />

can touch us in deeply pers<strong>on</strong>al ways, helping us<br />

answer <strong>the</strong> questi<strong>on</strong>s that matter most.<br />

Why I write<br />

I started my career as a journalist but so<strong>on</strong><br />

discovered a passi<strong>on</strong> for telling my own stories,<br />

creating my own characters and worlds.<br />

Through ficti<strong>on</strong> I can travel to distant lands,<br />

explore different cultures and meet people from<br />

all walks of life.<br />

Of course, writing ficti<strong>on</strong> is not without its challenges.<br />

In fact, creating believable characters<br />

and engaging plots can be grueling. But for me,<br />

<strong>the</strong> rewards have far outweighed <strong>the</strong> challenges.<br />

Writing ficti<strong>on</strong> has been a source of joy and fulfillment,<br />

allowing me to explore my faith and share<br />

it with o<strong>the</strong>rs.<br />

As a novelist, I feel h<strong>on</strong>ored to be a part of this<br />

traditi<strong>on</strong> and am eternally grateful for <strong>the</strong> privilege<br />

of sharing my stories with <strong>the</strong> world.<br />

Jerry B. Jenkins is <strong>the</strong> author of more than 200 books,<br />

including 21 New York Times bestsellers. His titles have<br />

sold more than 73 milli<strong>on</strong> copies. He’s chair of <strong>the</strong><br />

Creative Writing major at Colorado Christian University<br />

and a member of <strong>the</strong> Colorado Authors’ Hall of Fame.<br />

He and his wife have three grown s<strong>on</strong>s (including Dallas<br />

Jenkins, creator, director and co-writer of “The Chosen”<br />

TV series) and eight grandchildren.<br />

INTRODUCING<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY’S<br />

NEW FICTION<br />

LINEUP OF THOUGHT-<br />

PROVOKING NOVELS<br />

From Angela Hunt about<br />

What a Wave Must Be:<br />

When I began working with Jerry Jenkins <strong>on</strong> adult ficti<strong>on</strong><br />

for <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong>, I had an idea that was<br />

a little far out, even for me. But I wrote <strong>the</strong> story anyway,<br />

Jerry went through it, and we handed it in . . . and<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> rightly told me that it wasn’t what <strong>the</strong>y had in<br />

mind. I’d written a story that addressed several social<br />

issues, and <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> wanted a story that was, well, more<br />

focused <strong>on</strong> <strong>on</strong>e issue.<br />

Some an<strong>on</strong>ymous writer <strong>on</strong>ce said, “If you want to<br />

write about war, write about <strong>on</strong>e man’s war.” I wanted<br />

to write about suicide, so I decided to write about <strong>the</strong><br />

suicide of <strong>on</strong>e man to help readers see how suicide can<br />

affect every<strong>on</strong>e in a family for generati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

I took a deep breath, cleared my calendar and<br />

started over. The topic of suicide had occurred to me<br />

at <strong>the</strong> beginning of <strong>the</strong> project, but I think I shied away<br />

from <strong>the</strong> depth of grief involved. It’s not an easy subject<br />

to talk about, and yet it affects families every day.<br />

My husband is a youth pastor, and we have seen <strong>the</strong><br />

devastating effects of suicide <strong>on</strong> parents, children,<br />

grandparents and society as a whole. My husband has<br />

c<strong>on</strong>ducted more funerals of young people than he<br />

wants to count.<br />

Because I’d spent several m<strong>on</strong>ths writing a story<br />

that didn’t work, to save time I started with things I<br />

30<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


STORYTELLING / FAITH & INSPIRATION<br />

WHAT A WAVE MUST BE<br />

by Angela Hunt<br />

This novel explores how <strong>the</strong> hope<br />

and peace of Jesus can help<br />

in situati<strong>on</strong>s where people are<br />

thinking about suicide.<br />

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

knew—like <strong>the</strong> Airbnb we operate <strong>on</strong> our property, <strong>the</strong><br />

caboose in our fr<strong>on</strong>t yard and <strong>the</strong> grandchildren we adore.<br />

From that point <strong>on</strong>, it was a simple matter of putting myself<br />

in <strong>the</strong> grandmo<strong>the</strong>r’s heart and head and living <strong>the</strong> experience.<br />

Not easy, but oh so important.<br />

It is my hope and prayer that What a Wave Must Be—<strong>the</strong><br />

novel I was so reluctant to write—will save thousands of<br />

lives not <strong>on</strong>ly by stopping potential suicidal situati<strong>on</strong>s but<br />

also by dem<strong>on</strong>strating that in Jesus we can find hope and<br />

peace and answers.<br />

As for that o<strong>the</strong>r story? One of <strong>the</strong>se days I’ll pull it out<br />

and rewrite it. Until <strong>the</strong>n, it can sit <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> back burner and<br />

percolate. It was more important for me to write What a<br />

Wave Must Be.<br />

ADOBE STOCK - JAMES THEW<br />

A MILLION LITTLE CHOICES<br />

by Tamera Alexander<br />

Ficti<strong>on</strong>al characters from two different time<br />

periods help <strong>the</strong> reader explore <strong>the</strong> tenets<br />

of marriage and <strong>the</strong> heartbreak of infidelity.<br />

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

From Tamera Alexander about<br />

A Milli<strong>on</strong> Little Choices:<br />

The stories that have lived inside me <strong>the</strong> l<strong>on</strong>gest are often<br />

<strong>the</strong> most difficult to write, and A Milli<strong>on</strong> Little Choices was<br />

certainly that. Not <strong>on</strong>ly because of <strong>the</strong> subject matter—<br />

marriage and infidelity—but also because <strong>the</strong>se characters<br />

are so real to me and <strong>the</strong> settings so tangible that <strong>the</strong> first<br />

words <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> page often felt frustratingly inadequate and<br />

thin compared to <strong>the</strong> living, breathing movie inside of me.<br />

The story is about two women from different centuries<br />

who live in <strong>the</strong> same house and share strikingly<br />

similar journeys. The setting is Atlanta, where I was born<br />

and raised. Even <strong>the</strong> antebellum house depicted in <strong>the</strong><br />

dual-timeline story is pers<strong>on</strong>al.<br />

After youth group <strong>on</strong> Sunday nights, a bunch of us would<br />

often drive to Atlanta and sneak into an old, aband<strong>on</strong>ed,<br />

boarded-up antebellum home. We’d wander around with<br />

flashlights, brushing aside cobwebs and breathing in<br />

plumes of dust. It felt like walking through time to me, and<br />

I recall thinking about <strong>the</strong> people who’d lived in that house<br />

and w<strong>on</strong>dering what <strong>the</strong>ir lives had been like. Experiences<br />

like that are where my love of history took deeper root.<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 31


FAITH & INSPIRATION / STORYTELLING<br />

Yet <strong>the</strong> seed of that love wasfi r s tplanted when I was 9.<br />

On a trip to Germany.<br />

But before you think it was too glamorous a trip . . .<br />

<strong>the</strong>re were eight of us in a VW Bug. Times were different<br />

back <strong>the</strong>n. My mom, bro<strong>the</strong>r and grandmo<strong>the</strong>r sat<br />

in <strong>the</strong> back. My aunt and uncle were up fr<strong>on</strong>t, and <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

two babies were passed from lap to lap. And me? I sat<br />

in a cubbyhole in <strong>the</strong> back, fake-smoking little bubblegum<br />

cigarettes as we chugged around Germany,<br />

Switzerland and <strong>the</strong> Ne<strong>the</strong>rlands.<br />

It was when we toured a 12th-century castle <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

Rhine River that something happened. Feeling <strong>the</strong><br />

cold st<strong>on</strong>e wall beneath my hand as we descended into<br />

<strong>the</strong> belly of that castle changed me forever. Yet it wasn’t<br />

until nearly 35 years later that God revealed what He<br />

would eventually do with <strong>the</strong> seed He planted that day.<br />

His timing is always perfect.<br />

SAVING GRAYSON<br />

by Chris Fabry<br />

Discover <strong>the</strong> worth of a pers<strong>on</strong>,<br />

a life, regardless of what that<br />

pers<strong>on</strong> can no l<strong>on</strong>ger do.<br />

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

From Chris Fabry about<br />

Saving Grays<strong>on</strong>:<br />

Saving Grays<strong>on</strong> is my 84th published book, and in a<br />

lot of ways, it was <strong>the</strong> hardest book I’ve ever written.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> writing, I hit a wall and felt like I had missed<br />

<strong>the</strong> story and hadn’t d<strong>on</strong>e justice to Grays<strong>on</strong> and his<br />

battle with dementia.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> process, I realized that those around him<br />

couldn’t love <strong>the</strong> Grays<strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>y knew; <strong>the</strong>y had to love<br />

who Grays<strong>on</strong> is today. That made me ask, How do you<br />

love some<strong>on</strong>e well who can’t resp<strong>on</strong>d?<br />

This reminds me of <strong>on</strong>e of my favorite novels of<br />

all time, To Kill a Mockingbird. One of <strong>the</strong> central<br />

points Harper Lee made was that when you do something<br />

good for <strong>the</strong> simple reas<strong>on</strong> that it’s good, you<br />

d<strong>on</strong>’t expect a resp<strong>on</strong>se. The act is <strong>the</strong> reward. So as I<br />

wrote about Grays<strong>on</strong>, I wound up asking hard questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

about myself. Am I worth something because I<br />

can tell a good story? Do I have to achieve something<br />

to earn love? This is <strong>the</strong> most profound struggle for <strong>the</strong><br />

Christian. We can ei<strong>the</strong>r try to earn God’s love and forgiveness<br />

and mercy or receive it freely. That shift in my<br />

perspective unleashed <strong>the</strong> story for me and helped me<br />

complete <strong>the</strong> novel.<br />

ADOBE STOCK - JAMES THEW<br />

CREDIT TK<br />

32<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


EVANGELISM / FAITH & INSPIRATION<br />

ADOBE STOCK - DALU11<br />

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

lead to Jesus<br />

The what, why<br />

and w<strong>on</strong>dering<br />

approach<br />

to evangelism<br />

BY ANDY BANNISTER<br />

A FRIEND OF MINE, Nigel,<br />

<strong>on</strong>ce spent a week at a Christian c<strong>on</strong>ference.<br />

Midweek, he had to leave <strong>the</strong><br />

event for two days to play in a tennis<br />

tournament. He booked a cab to take<br />

him to <strong>the</strong> train stati<strong>on</strong>. As <strong>the</strong> cab<br />

pulled away from <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>venti<strong>on</strong> center,<br />

<strong>the</strong> driver asked Nigel what was happening<br />

<strong>the</strong>re.<br />

“A Christian c<strong>on</strong>ference,” Nigel replied.<br />

“Oh, you’re not <strong>on</strong>e of those religious<br />

types, are you?” grumbled <strong>the</strong> driver.<br />

Ra<strong>the</strong>r than letting that roadblock<br />

in <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> stump him, Nigel<br />

calmly replied, “What do you mean<br />

by that?”<br />

The cab driver resp<strong>on</strong>ded with a<br />

tirade about everything he hated about<br />

religi<strong>on</strong>, not <strong>the</strong> least of which was all<br />

<strong>the</strong> hypocrisy and moralism. Nigel quietly<br />

prayed as he listened, and <strong>the</strong>n<br />

asked ano<strong>the</strong>r questi<strong>on</strong> he felt <strong>the</strong><br />

Lord bring to mind: “Sir, have you ever<br />

heard of a man called Jesus?”<br />

“Of course I have!”<br />

“Well, it occurs to me that Jesus might<br />

agree with you about all <strong>the</strong> bad things<br />

in religi<strong>on</strong>. After all, He reserved His<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 33


FAITH & INSPIRATION / EVANGELISM<br />

fiercest words for <strong>the</strong> religious leaders<br />

of <strong>the</strong> day.” That comment led to a<br />

much more open c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> with<br />

<strong>the</strong> cab driver.<br />

Two days later, when <strong>the</strong> driver<br />

returned to take Nigel back to <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>ference,<br />

<strong>the</strong> ice had broken enough for<br />

Nigel to give him an evangelistic tract<br />

as <strong>the</strong>y parted, which <strong>the</strong> man said he<br />

would c<strong>on</strong>sider reading.<br />

What Nigel did in that c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong><br />

was to ask good questi<strong>on</strong>s. I want to<br />

suggest that questi<strong>on</strong>s are <strong>on</strong>e of <strong>the</strong><br />

most helpful tools we have in evangelism.<br />

And this isn’t some trendy, new<br />

idea. It goes right back to Jesus.<br />

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

Bible scholars say that Jesus asked<br />

307 questi<strong>on</strong>s in <strong>the</strong> Gospels and<br />

was asked 183 questi<strong>on</strong>s, though He<br />

answered less than 10 of <strong>the</strong>m directly.<br />

(Jesus preferred to answer a questi<strong>on</strong><br />

with a questi<strong>on</strong>.) The well-known story<br />

of <strong>the</strong> rich young ruler in Mark 10 is a<br />

great example.<br />

The young man came to Jesus and<br />

asked, “Good teacher, what must I do<br />

to inherit eternal life?”<br />

To which Jesus resp<strong>on</strong>ded, “Why do<br />

you call me good? No <strong>on</strong>e is good<br />

except God al<strong>on</strong>e” (verses 17-18).<br />

Why did Jesus resp<strong>on</strong>d with a<br />

questi<strong>on</strong>? Why didn’t He simply<br />

reply, “I’m <strong>the</strong> S<strong>on</strong> of God. Follow<br />

“That’s a<br />

great questi<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Tell me, why<br />

do you ask that?”<br />

Me,” or “Come al<strong>on</strong>g to <strong>the</strong> Alpha<br />

course that Peter and James are leading<br />

tomorrow at <strong>the</strong> First Baptist<br />

Synagogue of Capernaum”? Perhaps<br />

<strong>the</strong>re was a deeper issue in <strong>the</strong> young<br />

man’s life that Jesus first needed to<br />

address, and a questi<strong>on</strong> was <strong>the</strong> way<br />

to do so.<br />

Picture in your mind’s eye a n<strong>on</strong>-<br />

Christian friend. Maybe a work colleague,<br />

a classmate or a neighbor.<br />

Now, suppose you say to your friend,<br />

“Look, I know you d<strong>on</strong>’t believe in God,<br />

but just for a moment, imagine <strong>the</strong>re<br />

is a God and <strong>the</strong>re is a heaven. If <strong>the</strong>re<br />

were, what would you need to do to<br />

get <strong>the</strong>re?”<br />

How is your typical n<strong>on</strong>-Christian<br />

friend likely to reply? By far <strong>the</strong> most<br />

comm<strong>on</strong> answer is “Be a good pers<strong>on</strong>.”<br />

“Bible scholars<br />

say that Jesus asked<br />

307<br />

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

Gospels.”<br />

Many people think that if God exists<br />

and <strong>the</strong>re is an afterlife, <strong>the</strong>n you get<br />

to heaven by being a decent pers<strong>on</strong>—<br />

a good citizen who is kind to o<strong>the</strong>rs.<br />

Do all that, and God will welcome you<br />

into heaven. This is, in fact, <strong>the</strong> religious<br />

positi<strong>on</strong> most people take. And<br />

it’s <strong>the</strong> questi<strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> rich young ruler<br />

was asking Jesus: “You look like a<br />

good pers<strong>on</strong> who’s going to heaven—<br />

so how do I get <strong>the</strong>re?”<br />

When Jesus asked, “Why do you<br />

call me good?” He exposed <strong>the</strong> young<br />

man’s assumpti<strong>on</strong>.<br />

“Yes,” Jesus’ questi<strong>on</strong> says, “all good<br />

people will go to heaven. But here’s<br />

<strong>the</strong> problem: Only God is good, so<br />

<strong>on</strong>ly God gets to go.” Jesus’ questi<strong>on</strong><br />

also exposed <strong>the</strong> much deeper issue<br />

of m<strong>on</strong>ey in <strong>the</strong> young man’s life . . .<br />

STOCKSY - LAUREN LEE<br />

34<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


EVANGELISM / FAITH & INSPIRATION<br />

?<br />

STOCKSY - CLIQUE IMAGES<br />

KID QUESTIONS<br />

Here are some questi<strong>on</strong>s to ask<br />

your children when <strong>the</strong>y express<br />

doubts about <strong>the</strong>ir faith. Use <strong>the</strong>se<br />

questi<strong>on</strong>s to help your kids dig<br />

deeper into what <strong>the</strong>y know and<br />

what <strong>the</strong>y think <strong>the</strong>y know. There<br />

isn’t a <strong>on</strong>e-size-fits-all questi<strong>on</strong> to<br />

ask. Instead, use a variety of questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

to come al<strong>on</strong>gside your kids,<br />

pray for <strong>the</strong>m and help <strong>the</strong>m sort<br />

out <strong>the</strong>ir c<strong>on</strong>cerns biblically and<br />

without clichéd answers.<br />

WHAT QUESTIONS:<br />

• What do you mean by [that]?<br />

• What makes you think [that]?<br />

• What makes [that] important<br />

for you now?<br />

WHY QUESTIONS:<br />

• Why are you asking about [that]?<br />

• Why do you think [that]?<br />

• Why does [that] strike a chord<br />

with you?<br />

WONDER QUESTIONS:<br />

• Have you ever w<strong>on</strong>dered why<br />

God created us?<br />

• Have you ever w<strong>on</strong>dered why bad<br />

things happen to good people?<br />

• Have you ever w<strong>on</strong>dered why<br />

Jesus came to save us?<br />

—AB<br />

and hinted at an even bigger questi<strong>on</strong>:<br />

If <strong>on</strong>ly God is good, but <strong>the</strong> young man<br />

has seen that Jesus is good, who does<br />

that make Jesus?<br />

The power of questi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

By learning to ask good questi<strong>on</strong>s, we<br />

can create more natural c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>s<br />

with people about our faith in Christ.<br />

Asking questi<strong>on</strong>s helps us avoid reducing<br />

evangelism to sound bites (“If I just<br />

use <strong>the</strong> right formula, my friend will<br />

become a Christian”). Questi<strong>on</strong>s help<br />

reveal motives and assumpti<strong>on</strong>s—for<br />

example, when my faith is challenged,<br />

I’ll often say, “That’s a great questi<strong>on</strong>.<br />

Tell me, why do you ask that?”<br />

Questi<strong>on</strong>s also help <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r pers<strong>on</strong><br />

think. For example, if a friend says<br />

she’s an a<strong>the</strong>ist, you might reply, “That<br />

tells me what you d<strong>on</strong>’t believe, but<br />

what do you believe?”<br />

“Have you ever<br />

w<strong>on</strong>dered why God<br />

created us?”<br />

Over <strong>the</strong> years, I’ve found that I<br />

return to three types of questi<strong>on</strong>s time<br />

and time again. First, <strong>the</strong>re are what<br />

questi<strong>on</strong>s, which are great for teasing<br />

apart what somebody has said. When<br />

an a<strong>the</strong>ist friend recently remarked,<br />

“There’s no evidence for God,” I replied,<br />

“What do you mean by ‘evidence’? What<br />

would count as evidence for you?”<br />

Then <strong>the</strong>re are why questi<strong>on</strong>s, which<br />

are helpful for encouraging friends to<br />

explore <strong>the</strong> reas<strong>on</strong>s for <strong>the</strong>ir skepticism.<br />

So if a friend announces, “I d<strong>on</strong>’t<br />

believe in God,” you might resp<strong>on</strong>d,<br />

“That’s really interesting. I’d love to<br />

know why you think that.”<br />

And finally, <strong>the</strong>re are w<strong>on</strong>der questi<strong>on</strong>s,<br />

which are invaluable when<br />

talking with somebody who doesn’t<br />

object to or challenge what you<br />

believe but is just disinterested<br />

in spiritual things. Some years ago,<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 35


FAITH & INSPIRATION / EVANGELISM<br />

“Have you ever<br />

w<strong>on</strong>dered where<br />

human rights come<br />

from, if we’re just<br />

atoms and particles?”<br />

my friend John would announce,<br />

“I’m just not interested in God,”<br />

whenever <strong>the</strong> subject came up. That<br />

threw me for ages, until <strong>on</strong>e day I<br />

noticed an Amnesty Internati<strong>on</strong>al<br />

sticker <strong>on</strong> his H<strong>on</strong>da.<br />

“Have you ever w<strong>on</strong>dered where<br />

human rights come from, if we’re just<br />

atoms and particles?” I asked. That<br />

questi<strong>on</strong> opened up an opportunity to<br />

discuss how justice and dignity make<br />

sense <strong>on</strong>ly if humans are created in<br />

God’s image.<br />

Questi<strong>on</strong>s that<br />

lead to Jesus<br />

Sometimes <strong>the</strong> right questi<strong>on</strong> leads<br />

directly to Jesus. I was recently talking<br />

with a university student whose biggest<br />

obstacle to Christianity was <strong>the</strong> many<br />

examples of church leaders abusing<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir power for pers<strong>on</strong>al gain. How,<br />

she w<strong>on</strong>dered, could anybody take<br />

<strong>the</strong> church seriously when some of<br />

its leaders behaved like this?<br />

As I c<strong>on</strong>sidered how to resp<strong>on</strong>d, I<br />

realized that <strong>on</strong>ce again a questi<strong>on</strong> was<br />

appropriate. So I replied, “I share your<br />

disgust over this, because it’s totally<br />

anti<strong>the</strong>tical to how Jesus behaved.<br />

Have you ever heard <strong>the</strong> story of Jesus<br />

washing His disciples’ feet?”<br />

She hadn’t, so I read John 13 to<br />

her, and <strong>the</strong>n we chatted about how<br />

10<br />

%<br />

of Christians feel<br />

unequipped to share<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir faith<br />

—source: Jesus Film Project,<br />

A Cru Ministry, 2020<br />

countercultural His acti<strong>on</strong>s were.<br />

I also spoke about <strong>the</strong> Cross and how<br />

Jesus had ultimate power, and yet He<br />

laid it all down. Ra<strong>the</strong>r than victimizing<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs, Jesus became a victim to save us.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong> ended, <strong>the</strong> young<br />

woman asked for a copy of <strong>the</strong> Gospels<br />

so she could read more of Jesus’ story for<br />

herself. By God’s grace, <strong>the</strong> right questi<strong>on</strong><br />

had taken a hostile skeptic to <strong>the</strong><br />

point of being willing to give Jesus a<br />

more careful look.<br />

Andy Bannister is <strong>the</strong> director of <strong>the</strong> Solas<br />

Centre for Public Christianity, an evangelism<br />

and training ministry. He is also an adjunct<br />

professor at Wycliffe College at <strong>the</strong> University<br />

of Tor<strong>on</strong>to and an adjunct research fellow at<br />

Melbourne School of Theology in Australia.<br />

His latest book is How to Talk About Jesus<br />

Without Looking Like an Idiot.<br />

“Have you<br />

ever heard<br />

<strong>the</strong> story of<br />

Jesus washing<br />

His disciples’<br />

feet?”<br />

HOW TO TALK ABOUT<br />

JESUS WITHOUT<br />

LOOKING LIKE AN IDIOT<br />

by Andy Bannister<br />

Learn how to speak about your<br />

faith naturally in c<strong>on</strong>versati<strong>on</strong>.<br />

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

STOCKSY - STUDIO FIRMA<br />

36<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


ADVENT / FAITH & INSPIRATION<br />

ISTOCK - ALONZODESIGN<br />

an Advent<br />

journey<br />

Discovering God’s<br />

hope, peace, joy and<br />

love through Scripture<br />

BY FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

IN THE FOUR WEEKS leading up to Christmas,<br />

Christians around <strong>the</strong> world participate in Advent to prepare<br />

our hearts and minds for <strong>the</strong> celebrati<strong>on</strong> of our Saviour’s birth.<br />

Traditi<strong>on</strong>ally, each week focuses <strong>on</strong> a different <strong>the</strong>me: hope,<br />

peace, joy and love.<br />

This year, Advent begins <strong>on</strong> Sunday, Dec. 3, finishing three<br />

weeks later <strong>on</strong> Sunday, Dec. 24. However, we want to help<br />

you c<strong>on</strong>tinue your reflecti<strong>on</strong> for four full weeks—<strong>on</strong>e week for<br />

each <strong>the</strong>me—with a free Advent devoti<strong>on</strong>al calendar. In <strong>the</strong><br />

following pages, you’ll find <strong>the</strong> first few days’ devoti<strong>on</strong>s, but<br />

we encourage you to visit <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g>OnThe<strong>Family</strong>.ca/Advent to<br />

download <strong>the</strong> full PDF.<br />

May you be encouraged and inspired by <strong>the</strong> truths found in<br />

Scripture as you count down <strong>the</strong> days until Christmas!<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 37


FAITH & INSPIRATION / ADVENT<br />

A SAMPLE FROM AN ADVENT JOURNEY DEVOTIONAL<br />

Day 1<br />

WEEK ONE hope<br />

The first promise of a coming Saviour<br />

Scripture Genesis 3:14-15 | Romans 8:19-25<br />

ADVENT BEGINS WITH THE THEME OF HOPE. This isn’t <strong>the</strong> kind of hope that people most often<br />

speak of, a sense of wishful thinking, like “I hope I get that job” or “I hope I do well <strong>on</strong> my test.” Hope<br />

in <strong>the</strong> Scriptures means a c<strong>on</strong>fident expectati<strong>on</strong> based <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

character and promises of God, especially His promises to send<br />

a Saviour who will redeem His broken world and rule it with<br />

justice and mercy.<br />

Prayer<br />

God started giving <strong>the</strong>se promises from <strong>the</strong> very<br />

beginning, from right after Adam and Eve disobeyed Him. The<br />

God, Your faithfulness is<br />

woman received <strong>the</strong> first promise of hope from <strong>the</strong> Lord: She<br />

evident throughout all of<br />

history. Even from <strong>the</strong> first<br />

and her offspring would be eternal adversaries of <strong>the</strong> serpent<br />

moment when Adam and Eve<br />

and his offspring, until <strong>on</strong>e day in <strong>the</strong> distant future, <strong>on</strong>e of her<br />

sinned, You always had a<br />

descendants would crush <strong>the</strong> serpent’s head.<br />

plan to save us. Even when we<br />

This was <strong>the</strong> first promise of <strong>the</strong> coming Redeemer who<br />

stumble and fall today, we know<br />

would triumph over <strong>the</strong> devil and destroy his works, putting an<br />

You will keep Your word. In<br />

end to sin, suffering and death. God had planned all this before<br />

You, we put our hope and wait<br />

He ever created <strong>the</strong> universe. From this point <strong>on</strong>, He would<br />

patiently for all Your promises<br />

unfold that plan throughout history, revealing it <strong>on</strong>e promise<br />

to be fulfilled. Amen.<br />

at a time through His prophets and in His Word.<br />

Day 2<br />

The offspring of Abraham<br />

Scripture Genesis 22:15-18 | James 1:2-4<br />

MANY CENTURIES PASSED BEFORE GOD BEGAN to unfold<br />

His plan in more detail. The Lord called Abraham to leave his<br />

community and his people behind and emigrate to a new land,<br />

<strong>the</strong> land of Canaan, where God would be with him and bless<br />

him. As Abraham travelled around in Canaan, God gave him<br />

several promises about his future and sealed those promises<br />

with an oath and a solemn covenant cerem<strong>on</strong>y.<br />

CREDIT TK<br />

38<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


ADVENT / FAITH & INSPIRATION<br />

DOWNLOAD AT FOCUSONTHEFAMILY.CA/ADVENT<br />

After putting Abraham’s faith to a final and serious<br />

test, God assured him that his descendants would be more<br />

numerous than <strong>the</strong> stars in <strong>the</strong> sky and <strong>the</strong> sands <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong><br />

seashore. In additi<strong>on</strong>, <strong>on</strong>e of Abraham’s descendants would<br />

triumph over His enemies and all nati<strong>on</strong>s of <strong>the</strong> earth would be<br />

blessed through Him.<br />

This was now God’s sec<strong>on</strong>d great promise of redempti<strong>on</strong><br />

for <strong>the</strong> world and hope for humanity, more specific than<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>on</strong>e He had made to Eve in <strong>the</strong> beginning. Although <strong>the</strong><br />

fulfillment of this promise was still about 2,000 years away,<br />

<strong>the</strong> descendant to be born would be God’s chosen Redeemer.<br />

He would provide salvati<strong>on</strong> not just for Abraham’s physical<br />

descendants, but for people of every nati<strong>on</strong> who would trust<br />

Him, just as Abraham had d<strong>on</strong>e.<br />

Prayer<br />

Lord, You are a covenant God.<br />

Even when we walk through<br />

trials and challenges, when<br />

we feel like our faith is being<br />

tested, we hold <strong>on</strong> to <strong>the</strong> truth<br />

that You never forsake us.<br />

You are doing a new work in<br />

us and even when we d<strong>on</strong>’t<br />

understand, we will c<strong>on</strong>tinue<br />

to put our trust in <strong>the</strong> hope of<br />

Your faithfulness. Amen.<br />

Day 3<br />

A powerful prophet like Moses<br />

Scripture Deuter<strong>on</strong>omy 18:15-18 | John 1:14-18<br />

CREDIT TK<br />

TRUE TO GOD’S PROMISE, Abraham’s descendants began to multiply greatly, but <strong>the</strong>y were also<br />

enslaved in <strong>the</strong> land of Egypt. Yet <strong>the</strong> Lord had compassi<strong>on</strong> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir suffering and heard <strong>the</strong>ir cries for<br />

freedom. In time, He sent Moses to liberate His people from<br />

Egypt and bring <strong>the</strong>m into <strong>the</strong> land of Canaan, <strong>the</strong> land He had<br />

promised to <strong>the</strong>ir ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.<br />

This act of deliverance, known as <strong>the</strong> Exodus, is <strong>the</strong> central<br />

Prayer<br />

event in <strong>the</strong> history of <strong>the</strong> people of Israel. It was a spectacular<br />

dem<strong>on</strong>strati<strong>on</strong> of God’s power, and of <strong>the</strong> fact that He will<br />

Lord Jesus, You are <strong>the</strong> <strong>on</strong>ly<br />

way, <strong>the</strong> <strong>on</strong>ly path to freedom.<br />

never break His promises or aband<strong>on</strong> those <strong>on</strong> whom He has<br />

You came with grace and<br />

set His love. More than that, it pointed ahead to what would be<br />

truth for our salvati<strong>on</strong>. Even<br />

<strong>the</strong> central event in world history, when God would send His<br />

now, when we feel lost or<br />

S<strong>on</strong> to save His people from <strong>the</strong>ir sins.<br />

c<strong>on</strong>fused or uncertain, we can<br />

Just before <strong>the</strong> Israelites entered Canaan, Moses reminded<br />

look to You as our deliverer.<br />

<strong>the</strong>m of God’s faithfulness and urged <strong>the</strong>m to remain faithful<br />

Thank You for always being<br />

to <strong>the</strong> Lord. He told <strong>the</strong>m that in <strong>the</strong> future God would raise up<br />

<strong>the</strong>re to guide us through our<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r prophet like Moses for <strong>the</strong>m, from am<strong>on</strong>g <strong>the</strong>ir own<br />

own wilderness into Your<br />

people. This prophet would speak God’s very words to <strong>the</strong>m. In<br />

comforting presence. Amen.<br />

fact, He would be God’s Word Himself, Jesus <strong>the</strong> Messiah.<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 39


Anything in this .25inch z<strong>on</strong>e is not guaranteed safe from being trimmed off.<br />

Free PDF devoti<strong>on</strong>al:<br />

An Advent J<strong>on</strong>ey<br />

SAFETY VIOLATION ZONE copy in this z<strong>on</strong>e not safe per trim variance (.25 inch).<br />

Ad Title<br />

reflecti<strong>on</strong>s (28 in total) to help you and<br />

AD FPO<br />

Full Page<br />

TRIM: 7.75 x 10.5 inch<br />

D<strong>on</strong>’t miss out! Advent<br />

begins <strong>on</strong> Sunday, Dec. 3<br />

THIS FREE PDF ADVENT DEVOTIONAL<br />

provides four full weeks of scriptural<br />

your family prepare your hearts and minds<br />

for <strong>the</strong> birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.<br />

Inside, you’ll find Bible passages to read<br />

as a family, a daily devoti<strong>on</strong> to help you<br />

understand <strong>the</strong> deeper truths of Scripture,<br />

and prayers to help you recentre your heart<br />

<strong>on</strong> Jesus, <strong>the</strong> reas<strong>on</strong> for this seas<strong>on</strong>. Plus,<br />

you’ll find printable blank cards with each<br />

week’s <strong>the</strong>me to share with family, friends<br />

and neighbours!<br />

40<br />

Download your FREE Advent devoti<strong>on</strong>al today!<br />

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

EN


CREDIT THE CAT TK AGENCY - SHAUNA LYNN PANCZYSZYN<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 41


FAITH & INSPIRATION / MEDIA<br />

movie<br />

messages:<br />

Frozen<br />

Seek and find<br />

worldviews while<br />

having fun as a family<br />

THE ENTERTAINMENT<br />

INDUSTRY bombards us with obvious<br />

and subtle messages. But we often d<strong>on</strong>’t<br />

recognize <strong>the</strong>m as worldviews or notice<br />

how <strong>the</strong>y skew our thinking. To help you<br />

and your family identify varying worldviews<br />

in culture, play this game of<br />

Movie Messages while watching Frozen.<br />

Directi<strong>on</strong>s<br />

BY PLUGGED IN STAFF<br />

ILLUSTRATIONS BY<br />

HANNAH DAVIES<br />

1. Give every player a set of 10 worldview cards.<br />

(Additi<strong>on</strong>al sets can be found and printed at<br />

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

2. Watch Frozen until you reach an incident <strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong> game board. Then pause <strong>the</strong> movie.<br />

3. Each player chooses a card that matches<br />

<strong>the</strong> worldview identified in <strong>the</strong> movie and<br />

places it facedown. Then players turn over<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir cards to reveal <strong>the</strong>ir answers. (Find<br />

<strong>the</strong> answers in <strong>the</strong> Parents Guide to Movie<br />

Messages download.)<br />

4. The correct cards are removed from play. The<br />

cards deemed incorrect are returned to each<br />

player, and <strong>the</strong> movie c<strong>on</strong>tinues.<br />

5. This board game doesn’t cover every worldview<br />

in this movie. Players who have guessed<br />

wr<strong>on</strong>g can catch up by calling out <strong>the</strong> correct<br />

worldview, if it comes up again in <strong>the</strong> movie.<br />

(This can <strong>on</strong>ly be d<strong>on</strong>e with worldview cards<br />

that have been removed from play.)<br />

6. The first player to get rid of seven of his or<br />

her cards is <strong>the</strong> winner.<br />

Read Plugged In’s review of Frozen first<br />

to make sure it’s right for your family.<br />

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

KARMA<br />

is believed to be a good or<br />

bad force that affects you—<br />

ei<strong>the</strong>r now or in ano<strong>the</strong>r life—<br />

depending <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> good<br />

or bad you do today.<br />

MATERIALISM<br />

involves valuing stuff<br />

over people.<br />

PRAGMATISM<br />

says that <strong>the</strong> right<br />

decisi<strong>on</strong> depends <strong>on</strong><br />

what you get out of it.<br />

OCCULTISM<br />

includes supernatural<br />

events or “knowledge” that<br />

is hidden and paranormal.<br />

SELF-ACTUALIZATION<br />

is <strong>the</strong> belief that selfimprovement<br />

and<br />

self-satisfacti<strong>on</strong> are <strong>the</strong><br />

highest goals of individuals.<br />

BIOCENTRISM<br />

argues that humans are just<br />

<strong>on</strong>e of many animal species,<br />

not set apart in any way,<br />

morally speaking.<br />

FATALISM<br />

is <strong>the</strong> belief that <strong>the</strong>re’s no<br />

point in taking acti<strong>on</strong> because<br />

events are predetermined.<br />

MONARCHISM<br />

is <strong>the</strong> belief in a<br />

government ruled by a king<br />

or queen, who may claim<br />

divine right to rule.<br />

NATURALISM<br />

is <strong>the</strong> belief that <strong>the</strong> universe<br />

was created through natural<br />

causes, without a creator—<br />

no souls and no afterlife.<br />

SITUATIONAL ETHICS<br />

c<strong>on</strong>siders morality to be<br />

subjective depending <strong>on</strong><br />

circumstances. Lying might<br />

be wr<strong>on</strong>g in <strong>on</strong>e situati<strong>on</strong>,<br />

for instance, but just fine in<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

42<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong><br />

Note: For young children who aren’t ready to play this game, you can introduce <strong>the</strong>m to worldview<br />

training with a casual menti<strong>on</strong>, such as “That’s materialism. But we know that people are more<br />

important than stuff.”


EXPLORE FROZEN<br />

FOR ITS HIDDEN<br />

MESSAGES.<br />

1:15:45<br />

HANS REVEALS HIS<br />

TRUE NATURE—AND<br />

HIS TRUE MOTIVES.<br />

44:06<br />

SVEN URGES KRISTOFF TO HELP ANNA.<br />

38:47<br />

KRISTOFF SINGS<br />

“REINDEER ARE BETTER<br />

THAN PEOPLE.”<br />

31:10<br />

THE SONG “LET IT<br />

GO” BEGINS.<br />

15:50<br />

ELSA LOOKS AT A<br />

PAINTING OF HER FATHER.<br />

12:33<br />

THE DUKE OF WESELTON SCHEMES TO<br />

“EXPLOIT” ARENDELLE’S RICHES.<br />

CREDIT TK<br />

Additi<strong>on</strong>al worldview cards<br />

and our Parents Guide to<br />

Movie Messages can be found<br />

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

<strong>Magazine</strong>.<br />

5:53<br />

THE KING COMBS THROUGH<br />

RUNES IN A BOOK,<br />

HOPING TO SAVE ANNA.<br />

START


GRANDPARENTING / GIFTS FOR GRANDKIDS<br />

HACKS & FACTS<br />

ideas for your<br />

Advent gift<br />

bags<br />

• Write affirming letters to<br />

your grandkids.<br />

TINY TOKENS OF AFFECTION<br />

To keep in touch with distant grandchildren at Christmas, I send gifts for <strong>the</strong>m to<br />

open each day in <strong>December</strong>. It works like an Advent calendar with <strong>on</strong>e daily gift<br />

per family.<br />

I wrap inexpensive treats in tissue paper and tuck <strong>the</strong>m into a paper lunch sack.<br />

Then I fold <strong>the</strong> top, punch two holes and tie with a ribb<strong>on</strong>. I send things like an<br />

ornament from <strong>the</strong> dollar store, a few pieces of Christmas candy, craft items or<br />

hot chocolate packets.<br />

This traditi<strong>on</strong> started when our children were in college, and it has c<strong>on</strong>tinued<br />

now that our kids have kids of <strong>the</strong>ir own. We often get messages from <strong>the</strong><br />

grandkids telling us how much <strong>the</strong>y love a specific day’s gift. Even our adult<br />

grandchildren tell me <strong>the</strong>y look forward to <strong>the</strong> gift bags.<br />

—Kathy Nickers<strong>on</strong><br />

• Grandkids like to hear<br />

stories about what you<br />

did when you were a<br />

child. C<strong>on</strong>sider adding a<br />

story about a l<strong>on</strong>g-ago<br />

Christmas you loved.<br />

• Give grandchildren fancy<br />

writing utensils and prestamped<br />

postcards to tell<br />

you how <strong>the</strong>y enjoyed<br />

that day’s Advent gift or<br />

what <strong>the</strong>y did that day.<br />

• Include a prayer card that<br />

lets each grandchild see<br />

how you pray for him or<br />

her.<br />

• Send a copy of a photograph<br />

of an extended<br />

family member as a child<br />

and ask your grandkids to<br />

guess who it is.<br />

• Would you like to include<br />

<strong>the</strong> craft supplies so<br />

your grandkids can create<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir own paper<br />

Advent wreath? Print <strong>the</strong><br />

free directi<strong>on</strong>s and supply<br />

list to ga<strong>the</strong>r and send<br />

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

<strong>Magazine</strong>.<br />

STOCKSY - LAURA STOLFI<br />

44<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


GIFTS FOR GRANDKIDS / GRANDPARENTING<br />

LONG-<br />

DISTANCE<br />

COOKIE<br />

BAKE<br />

One year my oldest<br />

granddaughter organized<br />

a cookie bake.<br />

She mailed all <strong>the</strong><br />

extended families<br />

cookie mix, cookie<br />

cutters, icing and decorati<strong>on</strong>s.<br />

She included<br />

a note with a date and<br />

time for <strong>the</strong> group<br />

cookie-making<br />

sessi<strong>on</strong>. Through <strong>the</strong><br />

help of technology,<br />

<strong>the</strong> cousins and o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

family members talked,<br />

laughed and baked<br />

toge<strong>the</strong>r despite<br />

<strong>the</strong> distance.<br />

—Denise M. Greene<br />

HACKS & FACTS<br />

STOCKSY - JCHONG STUDIO<br />

DO YOU HAVE AN AMAZING<br />

GRANDPARENTING TIP<br />

ABOUT SUMMER FUN OR<br />

THE SANCTITY OF LIFE?<br />

Tell us about <strong>on</strong>e unique<br />

thing you did with your<br />

grandkids during <strong>the</strong> summer<br />

(that o<strong>the</strong>rs could also<br />

do) or a way you had fun<br />

teaching your grandkids<br />

about <strong>the</strong> value of life.<br />

Send your activity to us at<br />

info@fotf.ca and write “A<br />

Free Grandparenting Tip<br />

for <str<strong>on</strong>g>Focus</str<strong>on</strong>g> <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> <strong>Family</strong><br />

magazine” in <strong>the</strong> subject<br />

line. Remember to<br />

send your ph<strong>on</strong>e number<br />

and address with it so<br />

we can send you a copy of<br />

<strong>the</strong> magazine if your tip is<br />

published.<br />

pers<strong>on</strong>alized packaging<br />

Eleven of my grandkids live thousands of miles away. I usually buy <strong>the</strong>m<br />

gifts <strong>on</strong>line to save <strong>on</strong> postage, but <strong>the</strong>n I’d also pay for <strong>the</strong> overpriced<br />

gift bags offered by retailers. Several years ago, I sent a reusable cloth gift<br />

bag for each grandchild to my kids. These parents liked <strong>the</strong> bags since<br />

<strong>the</strong>y were l<strong>on</strong>g-lasting and didn’t require much storage space. They also<br />

reused <strong>the</strong>m to put <strong>the</strong>ir own kids’ Christmas and birthday presents in.<br />

The grands liked <strong>the</strong>m because each bag was his or her favorite color.<br />

This Christmas, I plan to decorate new cloth bags with each grand’s<br />

name <strong>on</strong> it. I’ll also add pictures of <strong>the</strong>ir favorite sports, animals and activities<br />

before passing <strong>the</strong>m al<strong>on</strong>g to <strong>the</strong>ir parents.<br />

—Teresa Olive<br />

Gift Idea<br />

NEW FROM FOCUS ON THE FAMILY<br />

HEART OF BELONGING<br />

by C.J. Darlingt<strong>on</strong><br />

If your grandkids are teen girls struggling<br />

with acceptance, let <strong>the</strong>m know<br />

about this newly released, sixth book<br />

in <strong>the</strong> “Riverbend Friends” series.<br />

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

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong> FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA 45


FAITH & INSPIRATION / MY THRIVING FAMILY<br />

Christmas spirit<br />

Our daughters can’t wait for Christmas!<br />

—Stephen and Stephanie from Georgia<br />

Anna, 6, and Elizabeth, 9<br />

A finishing touch completes our family<br />

Christmas tree. —Felix and Jocelyn from Ontario<br />

Mateo, 10, and Daniel, 13<br />

Our baby is awed by a rocking reindeer.<br />

—Clarissa from Ontario<br />

Asher, 6 m<strong>on</strong>ths<br />

Who needs mistletoe? Not our kids.<br />

—Kelly and Mike from Illinois<br />

Jacks<strong>on</strong>, 4, and Nora, 2<br />

SEND US<br />

YOUR PHOTOS!<br />

Email photos* of your child’s<br />

Christmas pageant or lost teeth.<br />

Put “Pageant” or “Toothless”<br />

in <strong>the</strong> subject line.<br />

info@fotf.ca<br />

* Largest photo possible. Professi<strong>on</strong>al photos are not accepted.<br />

ADOBE STOCK - TIERNEY, DUBOVA, ELENA_GARDER<br />

46<br />

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CANADA<br />

DEC <strong>2023</strong> / JAN <strong>2024</strong>


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time of year!<br />

Kids love to<br />

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Subscribe or renew <strong>on</strong>line at<br />

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New<br />

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