Focus resources helped this family grow closer through open and honest dialogue
Carolyn’s connection to Focus on the Family Canada is closer than most; her mother-in-law works with Focus. “I kind of married into the family,” she jokes, adding that after she and her husband, Jason, had their first child, her relationship with Focus “took off exponentially.”
Since that time, Carolyn has enjoyed a wide range of Focus resources, but especially the Focus on the Family magazine for its rich array of articles on marriage and parenting. “Your magazine covers the whole spectrum. There are always amazing articles full of wisdom,” she says. “Throughout the years, I’ve found them to be so helpful. They focus on what matters most and on the tools to actually make it happen in real life. I don’t find them to be preachy. I find them to be compassionate. Life isn’t always an easy journey, and we’re all in this together, so I’ve appreciated learning from others.”
For Carolyn, the magazine has been a faithful companion wherever she goes. “Because I’m a busy mom in a busy household, the article format is perfect when I’m on the go. It travels with me on school runs and to appointments, so whenever I have a free minute, I can read an article. It’s accessible and provides a gentle reminder of the most important things.”
There’s one devotional from Adventures in Odyssey that’s a particular favourite with Carolyn’s kids. Her 9-year-old son explains:
“My brother and I are really loving Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions. We did one last night about David and Goliath,” he recalls with excitement. “First it has a ‘Mealtime Prayer’ that you pray before you eat. Then it has an ‘Appetizer’ that is a fun question or activity. After that, it has a ‘Main Course’ that is an object or lesson to chew on. After that, we have ‘Table Talk,’ which is questions to spark interesting discussions. Finally, it has ‘Vitamins and Minerals,’ which is a creative way to thank God for your time together or a reminder that God provides all we need!”
Carolyn appreciates the many ways Focus resources have helped bring her family closer together. “From the standpoint of equipping us with tools that will help to engage our kids, that is number one,” she stresses.
Along with reading God’s Word each day, Carolyn values the importance of godly and Christ-centred material, which she has found through Focus. “The more we have our minds focused on those things that are good and pleasing and perfect according to him, the more we have navigated along our individual journeys of sanctification,” she explains. “It opens the doors for conversation with our kids that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”
Looking back on her own upbringing, Carolyn is especially grateful for how Focus resources have helped her and Jason create a more open family environment. “If you could take a snapshot of our life and family today versus where we started when we were introduced,” she recalls, “the depth of conversation now cannot compare. To see what we’ve been able to create that is more of what God has designed in terms of a marriage and a family relationship. We are definitely closer as a family than we would have been otherwise and are a leap away from what I grew up with as a child.”
“I often wonder how my childhood would have been different if I had the resources that my kids have from Focus. If I had access to them as a child, I probably could have avoided a lot of heartache,” Carolyn reflects. “My husband and I often remark about our 9-year-old and especially our 7-year-old, the things they know at their age. We surely did not know to the level that they do and understand at their young ages.”
Carolyn and Jason have found Adventures in Odyssey particularly helpful for engaging important topics with their two boys. They have a lot of family discussions that stem from the real-life scenarios portrayed in these fun audio adventures. “We spend endless hours listening to them, either at home or in the car,” says Carolyn with a smile.
“I have tried to create more open dialogue in our family, in the hope that when my kids are in a sticky situation, they can come to me for advice, as opposed to where I made a wrong choice because I felt that I could not be open and honest about a situation I was facing.”
Carolyn has seen that approach bear fruit as she continues to rely on resources from Focus. “My 9-year-old has recently gone through a book, A Boy’s Guide to Making Really Good Choices,” she explains, recalling the good conversations they shared over the book. “He really enjoyed walking through the lessons each day and learning how the Bible connects to our day-to-day experience, what God is saying to us in the Bible about our choices. To see the growth and his understanding from this particular book, he would say ‘Here’s why we do this or why we don’t do this.’ It has been quite powerful.”
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