I’ve been reflecting today on our youngest son’s birth. He turned seven today, and while he is happily playing with his new Legos and Buzz Lightyear gear, I’m struck by how normal Zane is in so many ways. He loves to play, roughhouse, read books, swim, run around at the park, and eating fruit. He blends into a crowd of kids pretty well. He is pretty strong. He talks a lot about Star Wars (Legos) and can beat me in boxing on the Wii. Zane’s life is pretty routine by most accounts.
His start in life wasn’t easy, nor usual. Born at 26 weeks, weighing just over two pounds, he spent his first days in neonatal intensive care. Somehow his tiny body pushed through that challenge, and he went on to an orphanage in eastern Russia. We met him when he was eight months, and brought him into our family shortly after that.
God has also used that boy to teach us much about Himself, and about ourselves. And while I don’t know much about the circumstances surrounding his birth seven years ago, or his first seven months of life, I’m really glad I’ve been part of the past six years, three months.
As you probably know, Focus on the Family is here to come alongside families like yours with relevance and grace at each stage of the journey. We support families as they seek to teach their children about God and His beautiful design for the family, protect themselves from the harmful influences of culture, and equip themselves to make a greater difference in the lives of those around them.
As we often say on-air, we’re here to help. With practical resources – like our 1-800 Family Help line, counseling, and Websites – we’re committed to providing trustworthy, biblical guidance and support.
Of course, one aspect of our outreach involves radio, and it has been a true privilege to work on the daily Focus program for most of my tenure here at the ministry. And some of the greatest joy is in hearing from folks who have been touched by our work. We receive a significant number of comments every day about our radio programming, much of it quite encouraging and touching. Let me share just one story that we just received:
Over twenty-five years ago, I began listening to your radio program at the recommendation of a mentor and friend. As a result, I’ve been touched by many of your guests over the years. I just wanted to take a moment to thank Focus for all of your wise counsel. In this day and age when it’s often difficult to see evidence of godly families, be assured that many of us in your listening audience are living testimonies that all of your prayer, hard work, and perseverance has paid off. I praise the Lord for the outstanding ministry of Focus on the Family!
We are grateful that God uses our work to impact lives, and I’m wondering if YOU have a story to tell? Leave a comment below and let others know how these broadcasts have made a difference in your life.
Also, I’d ask that you take a few minutes to answer our broadcast survey. Your answers to eight quick questions will help us evaluate and improve our programming. Here’s the link to that survey.
Thanks in advance for your feedback!
As I walked back toward my desk I heard two co-workers talking.
“Alright, I’ll get the tickets.”
When they saw me, one of them asked, “Do you want to come?”
“I’d love to go, but the timing won’t work. Can I take a rain check?”
They are planning on going up to Denver to see a Colorado Rockies baseball game.I didn’t ask, but it seemed to be a guys-only time.
And, as I write this, another co-worker is off on a two-day motorcycle jaunt. Seven or eight guys, roaring down the road, enjoying quality “guy time.”
I’ll admit I’m a bit envious. Things at work and home right now are just too busy for such a getaway. But why does the appeal of heading off for a night or two with some friends sound so appealing? What is it about the “guys-only getaway” that resonates so much with so many men?
It seems that men are quite often “pack animals,” bound together through common circumstances and activities. We gravitate toward “doing stuff” together in such a way that we have some space for decompression and some honest conversations. We don’t usually get together for tea, nor are we drawn toward formal events for such sharing. No, we look for the fishing trip, the baseball game, going to the races, or for me, the annual hunting trip with “the guys.”
Personally, I really enjoy “guy time” away from routine work and family responsibilities. It usually brings about some good, refreshing change-of-pace thinking. It is renewing. And the opportunity to share adrenaline as we hike the woods is something that, as a man, I anticipate and enjoy. There’s also a quality to my thought-life that results from spending time traveling and having a little space. I usually come home from such trips recharged and with renewed energy.
The masculine soul needs the wild, the adventurous, the shared male experience. Recently the Wall Street Journal had a blog entry about this subject of male getaways. I thought it was pretty interesting – and rather accurate.
Now, I think I’ll run this thought past my wife. I’m pretty sure she’s going to agree that these male bonding times bring some benefit to our relationship. And I know she favors my hunting activities – especially if that helps fill the deep freeze and cut down on our food bills.
I’ll invite you to participate in a new survey of Focus on the Family radio listeners. We’ll ask some questions about your listening habits and things you like – and don’t like. Help us out – take ten minutes and give us some honest feedback. The survey is here.
The junk mail started arriving about two years ago. I promptly threw it out, without even opening it. I’m not sorry. In fact, I’m offended. And yet, it still comes monthly.
For context: It was only a few years ago that I decided that I’m now qualified as a “middle aged” man. Yes, I “decided.”
If you think about it, there’s really no commonly accepted definition of just when “middle age” begins for a person. Is it in your 40s? Maybe. 50s? Probably not, at least for most folks…because that’s when the dreaded, offensive junk mail starts coming.
Unable to find a consensus on how to define middle aged, I determined that I was about there, as I had a child in college. That seemed reasonable, and I’ve since told many friends that, with that family marker achieved, they’d arrived at “middle aged.”
Any way, as I had really just started to settle into “middle age” only a few years ago, it was really hard to start receiving solicitations to join the AARP. I mean, really. I’ve only just begun the middle years, did they have to start pushing me toward “senior” status? And the benefits of joining – discounted hotel rooms, prescriptions and eye glasses…why, that’s hardly enough to entice me to enter my “golden years.” Then there’s the association’s agenda, which reflects values that are decidedly different than mine. That’s a huge reason I’ve never, ever join that august group.
So I’ll keep putting that mail from AARP into the recycle bin, and enjoy my middle aged years longer. A lot longer, like another 12 years…since our six year-old son will be home for at least another 10-12 years.
Okay, rant over.
Now, maybe you’re identifying with my plight, er, decision, to stay middle aged for a while. Maybe you can’t fathom being in this stage of life (just wait, it’ll happen all-too-quickly). Or perhaps you’ve entered a season of being an “empty nester” – no kids at home. Just the two of you. For those who are getting close to the empty nest, here’s an enjoyable Focus on the Family conversation with two knowledgeable ladies about the pros and cons of such a season, and solid advice about how to prepare for and make the time fulfilling and rewarding.
The week we’ve had some great Focus radio programming!
Marriage: Greg and Erin Smalley compared the early years of their marriage to the ancient Israelites’ experience in the book of Exodus — wandering through the wilderness and dreaming of the Promised Land. The Smalleys say it felt like they would never achieve the marriage of their dreams; that they were “stuck” in a seemingly endless cycle of unhealthy conflict. What most couples do to stay in the wilderness:
“We stop doing the things that we should be doing. We start doing things that are probably unhealthy for our marriages, and all of a sudden, we feel stuck … and we don’t know what to do.”
Parenting, Life and Faith: Art Linkletter’s book Kids Say the Darndest Things is one of the best-selling titles of all time, and his interviews with young children have entertained millions. Listen in as we pay tribute to the entertainment icon who passed away last week, with some great laughs as Linkletter shares more of the hilarious things kids said on his hit TV show House Party. The program takes a serious turn as Linkletter talks about his daughter’s suicide and describes how that tragic event helped take his life and personal ministry in a different direction. Through it all, he kept perspective:
“Living a happy, productive, long life calls for the ability to laugh at yourself a little … If you can laugh at the world and laugh at yourself, it [helps take] away the hurts.”
Meaning In Life: Monday we aired a message from Don Coble, who described his former life as a hardened military man who was addicted to work and alcoholism, and explained how he was transformed by God’s love and grace.
“Thank you so much for your ministry at Plugged In. My husband and I are very particular about what we let our four children see. We have found that even though a movie may have a PG or PG-13 rating, many of these films may be just as unsuitable as R-rated ones. Vice-versa, a (very) few R-rated movies, if seen with our guidance, may be more suitable than some PG or PG-13 works. (These are films we would only see with our oldest child, and typically only those dealing with war). We generally check with Plugged In before we see any movie, and that has served us well. From a family who greatly appreciates what you are doing, please stay the course! In an age where innocence is on the line every day, thank you for helping us fight the battle for the sake of Christ and our children.”
Thanks for allowing us to be part of your family!