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Holding on to God When You Feel Like Giving Up

Holding on to God When You Feel Like Giving Up

Popular blogger Rachel Wojo recounts how God has faithfully helped her endure a series of heart-breaking events, offering hope and encouragement to listeners struggling with hurt, confusion and their faith as a result of life's tragedies.

Opening:

John Fuller: No one wants to begin a journey with a detour, and no one anticipates tragedy along the way. But today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, we’ll hear about one mom’s unexpected and unwanted experience with suffering and how that shaped her faith.

Excerpt:

Rachel Wojo: My prayer for Taylor has changed in that I stopped asking God, “Why?” I stopped asking God why because I realized I don’t want to know why. I may not understand why. But God, reveal Yourself to me. So my prayers went from, “God, why?” to “God, will You please show me how You’re working in this situation?” For me, many years, spending time with God was a check-off on the to-do list. And I finally began to understand that He wants so much more than giving us an answer to our prayers. He wants to give us Himself.

End of Excerpt

Jim Daly: That is so well said. You know sometimes life is overwhelming, and if I could say, even for us Christians if we’re honest because we anticipate and expect our circumstances to go well, maybe even perfectly – to be easy, for us to be comfortable and be filled with the blessings of God. That’s what the quid pro quo equation could be in your mind. Especially if you’re trying to do your best and to love the Lord with all your heart. Somehow we think we deserve an exemption from pain and from suffering, for struggles and tragedy. But that’s not what the Bible teaches. Jesus very clearly warned us that this life will be filled with troubles and pain. And we don’t understand it all. We’re on this side of heaven. Some people may very much disagree with me, but I have seen enough of it. I have suffered enough of it as an orphan child. We can’t understand it all. We can’t explain it all. But as we’re going to hear from our guest today, God does have a purpose and a plan in this for our lives. And if we can see that and see that very clearly and trust the Lord regardless of our circumstances, somehow He can weave that into making you a stronger person and most importantly, stronger for Him.

John: Yeah, and that guest is Rachel Wojo. And we heard from her in the opening comment. She’s a Bible teacher, an author, a blogger with a passion to help people to know God more intimately, and to do so through prayer and Bible study. Rachel is married to Matt. They have seven children. And she’s written a very, very powerful book. It’s going to form the foundation of our conversation today. It’s called, One More Step: Finding Strength When You Feel Like Giving Up.

Body:

Jim: Rachel, welcome to Focus on the Family.

Rachel: Thank you so much for having me.

Jim: I am so looking forward to this discussion. That sounds odd given that it’s a bunch of tragedy that you’re gonna talk to us about and how you found God or remained with God in it. But I think this is one of the core things that we as the believing community – us that believe in Jesus Christ, we have got to get a better center point when it comes to what it is we really believe about our God and how much He loves us. And I know your story is going to demonstrate that. But the fact is you’ve had a rough road in life. In your book, you document the devastating collapse of your first marriage because of your husband’s infidelity and his loss of faith in God. As a result, you became a single mom for a while to your daughter. And we really wanna focus our conversation today on the story of Taylor and the many difficulties you’ve both experienced from day one. Can you share Taylor’s story with us?

Rachel: Taylor was born emergency C-section – my first child. And I really had no – you know, as a first time mom, you just don’t know about pregnancy. You think things are normal because you’re pregnant. And Taylor was born emergency C-section. She was in the hospital for four days. She was completely purple when she was born, and no one could really explain all of the details surrounding that. But we left the hospital with our little baby. And we were excited and happy. She was breathing on her own and looked very, very sweet and very normal for a newborn, and we were just excited.

Jim: So she came around…

Rachel: She did.

Jim: …After the bad Apgar score, which of course is the score the doctors gave her baby when it’s born. But it was 0, right?

Rachel: It was 0.

Jim: Because she was so oxygen deprived.

Rachel: She was. And we didn’t know the journey that was about to unfold. You know, it turned out that we battled with her eating. She just had a lot of struggle – couldn’t nurse her, had to bottle feed her, went through all types of formulas – I know there are many parents out there who can relate to all of this – went through many types of formulas. It was a science to feeding her. She really could only drink a little at a time. She had to be burped.

Jim: She had swallowing issues.

Rachel: She had swallowing issues. She would – you know, had eventually what was diagnosed as esophageal reflux where her muscle just did not close and she would lose everything that she just ate, you know, and you’re starting at ground zero again. So it was a challenge.

But she – we made it through that first year. And we knew she had some developmental delays. You know, things were a little slow as far as maybe her sitting on her own – those first year milestones of standing up or walking, but fairly normal. And anything that we would question, the pediatrician would say, “You know, she was oxygen deprived at birth. We don’t know how that’s affected her brain. And so we just have to wait and see how all of this plays out.” And we continued to just do the best we could.

At age three is when Taylor’s father and I separated. And so it became very difficult. Even more difficult, I realized that there were significant verbal delays. And I began to seek developmental assistance with pediatricians and as well as, you know, any type of educational delays and development. So we pursued a verbal – you know, she would only say a couple of words at age three. And some folks out there again will say, “Well, that’s fairly normal for some children,” you know?

Jim: Like, don’t be alarmed?

Rachel: Yeah, but I knew in my heart that there was more. I just didn’t know how to figure it all out. And about a year later we actually were sitting on the floor one day. And Taylor knew how to get dressed. And she knew how to get undressed as well. And I said, “Taylor, you need to put your socks on. It’s time to go.” And I walked away and came back to her. And she was still sitting there. And you know, like most three-year-olds, you think – your first thought is just, you know, “She’s being obstinate and stubborn.” And I got down and I looked at her in the eyes and I said, “Taylor, you need to put your socks on. We need to go. Put them on.” I walked away and came back. And at this point, I realized as I looked into her face, she looked at the sock – she did not know how to put her socks on anymore.

Jim: She had forgotten?

Rachel: She had forgotten what to do. And so we made it through that moment, but I just remember that gut feeling of something more is wrong. This is not developmental delay. There’s something more wrong. And so it took about a year before we received her diagnosis of Mucopolysaccharidosis.

Jim: MPS.

Rachel: MPS. MPS is a lysosomal storage disease. So it is genetic. Both parents must have the same recessive traits. And when they do, essentially, you’re missing the enzyme that is necessary to break down all of the long-chain sugar molecules that you ingest. So when you eat food, your food is broken down into long-chain sugar molecules, and then the body chemically reduces those molecules. It’s – you know, results in a byproduct. And everybody’s metabolism works through all of that.

With MPS, you’re missing an enzyme that’s necessary. So in order to actually process those byproducts, it doesn’t happen when a child has MPS. Therefore they have neurological damage as a result. The byproducts attach themselves to the nerves and destroy the nerve system gradually. And so her forgetting to put her socks on was our first indication that was happening.

Jim: And again, people – putting this into context, you’re right in the middle of the separation pending divorce and all this is going on. And you’re going to carry that through as a single parent mom until you meet Matt. But eventually, you got the diagnosis?

Rachel: It was a journey, as most diagnoses are. They don’t immediately know what is wrong. But we did get the diagnosis, and it put everything into perspective, y’know?

Jim: Yeah.

Rachel: Now when they tell you the average lifespan is 10 to 15 years and your daughter is four years old, it rocks your world big time. You think about the priority of every day and the quality of life every day and just making the most of every single day.

Jim: Yeah, when Taylor was five – and this is the part of your book that I just – it almost sunk me, emotionally, because it was so touching. When she was 5 – I mean, I’m tearing up now as we start to talk about it – you had Michael, your second child. And this is with Matt, your second husband. What did Taylor say when he was born?

Rachel: She was so sweet. She stood by his little hospital crib at the hospital and said, “This is Michael. I’m a big sister.” And we had bought her the little shirt, you know, ‘I’m a big sister.’ And she was just, in that moment, cognitive of the fact of who she was and who he was. And it’s one of those moments that I just held in my heart because it would be not long after that that she would forget how to talk completely.

Jim: I mean, that was, you said, her last full sentence?

Rachel: It was her last full sentence as far as I can remember. There were other times where she would say a word or two. Her last actual word that I can remember her saying was ‘ice cream.’ You know, that’s pretty important – ice cream, I think.

(LAUGHTER)

Jim: But I – the heart of a child and the fact that she could no longer speak after that.

Rachel: It was very difficult. And she could sing like a little bird.

John: Hm.

Rachel: She knew hundreds of Sunday School songs because we had these CDs and cassettes that she would listen to all the time. So it was a comfort to me that even when she could no longer speak, she could sing. There is a story that I tell in the book about how she sang “Jesus Loves Me” all the way through long after she had forgotten how to speak words. And it was just one of those moments where you’re, like, God is still in control. It’s still in her heart.

Jim: Before we leave from this part of the story, how is Taylor – what’s happening?

Rachel: Taylor is 20 years old, so she has exceeded the lifespan of 10 to 15 years. God has blessed us richly. She is not on oxygen. She’s still eating food by mouth. She is still walking with assistance. I think those are all things we all take for granted every single day.

Jim: Yeah.

Rachel: The last visit that we had to the pediatrician, just to put everything in perspective – she has lost a lot of weight. Her neurological condition is severe to the point to where it’s questionable if she would survive any type of surgery to have a feeding tube or anything of that nature. So Taylor’s pediatrician gave me his personal cell phone number and said, “If you need anything at all, call me.” So she’s very fragile. Um, you never know what God wants to do. You know, I could be sitting here saying she’s very fragile and she could live 10 more years. We just don’t know. But from a medical perspective, one would think that she does not have a lot of time left on this earth.

Jim: Well, again, I see your mom’s heart all over your face and your concern. And it is in God’s hands, isn’t it?

Rachel: It absolutely is.

Jim: And that’s something you have learned.

Rachel: He has done so much through Taylor’s life that I can’t believe that everything He has orchestrated to this point would not also include Him orchestrating every moment of the end of her life. And I think it is such a privilege to be able to walk with someone as they exit this earth and enter heaven. Like, what a privilege He has given to us.

Jim: What about the impact on the other kids? How do they respond to that? You’re speaking to many families right now that may have physical challenges with one of their kids or a parent. What have you observed in their ability to absorb this in the context of their faith and say, “Okay, where’s God in this Mommy? How come Taylor suffers?”

Rachel: We’ve had tough times. I will not hide the fact that our children have had nightmares. You know, they’ve seen Taylor experienced seizures, and they want to know what that means and why does God allow her to suffer. You know, they don’t shirk the tough questions, just like adults don’t. They don’t overlook it.

Jim: I mean, they’re living it.

Rachel: Exactly. But it’s crazy how you cannot out-give God. And I don’t mean from a financial perspective. I mean, when you completely devote your emotional and mental capacities to the Lord, how He uses that. And you even get to see it in your children. For instance, we – every year since Taylor’s diagnosis we’ve hosted a regional gathering for families in the area who have Taylor’s disease. And our children have embraced this. They don’t know anything different, you know? They’ve grown up with her being sick. And so it’s just a part of life to them. Taking care of her is a part of life to them. My 6-year-old was pushing her through the hospital on Monday. And it’s just normal to her taking care of her sister. She doesn’t think a lot about it. But it has given them an awareness for people who are suffering that I could never instill in them.

Jim: Yeah.

Rachel: I could never do that. God has given them a gift and an eye for people who need help. And so they just naturally open doors, hold doors open, see a need and fill it. It’s a very natural part of who they are, and it’s such a blessing to see that. They embrace this gathering, and they really love to be a part of it. You know, they make signs. The boys set up 120 tables and chairs for all of these families coming to this event. And it’s really cool to see how God just uses the disease to draw them to Him and to start to share their love for Jesus in a unique way.

John: Well Rachel Wojo is our guest today on Focus on the Family. And she’s describing the challenges of trusting God while caring for a daughter with a degenerative disease. And this seems like an appropriate message as we observe Sanctity of Human Life Week. And you can learn more about Rachel in her book, One More Step: Finding Strength When You Feel Like Giving Up. We have that available along with an audio copy of today’s program at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or call 1-800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY to learn more.

Jim: Rachel, um, that practical application of scripture – I mean, you have leaned into the Lord throughout the whole discussion. And in your book, One More Step, you talk about that. Psalm 88 meant a lot to you. Why, and what comfort would you give to the person listening who’s going through their valley, their shadow – what would you say to them about Psalm 88?

Rachel: You know, in Christian school you don’t learn Psalm 88. You learn the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork. You know, you learn praise the Lord in the heavens. Praise Him in the heights. Praise Him all you creatures. But you don’t really – I didn’t, at least, learn that the Psalms are actually full of sad songs as well. You know, there aren’t just pray songs in there. There are some serious, sad songs in the Bible.

And David just poured out his heart in Psalm 88 and asks, “Why God? Why?” You know, the entire Psalm just really spoke to me at a time when I needed to know that it was okay to sing a sad song to God, that it was okay to go to God with my sorrow because I think so many of us believe that we have to have our act all together before we start praying. You know, we can’t just go to God and say, “I’m anguished. This is what’s wrong. This is – you know, how could You do this?” And just pour out our hearts to Him. And for me, Psalm 88 just really solidified that it’s okay to tell God that we’re hurting, and it’s a good thing, actually, to go to Him in honesty because it is only when we are honest that He can begin the healing process.

Jim: That’s so good for people to hear. You know, being a mom of a special needs child – now she’s 20, Taylor – what have you learned about forgiveness? You mentioned that in the book. And I want people to hear this. What have you encountered that has required you to be forgiving toward others?

Rachel: I think that one of the hardest places where I had to learn about forgiveness was in how people treated Taylor. As a special needs child, people don’t always understand – she looked very normal and looked very high functioning – bouncy, beautiful pigtails and just sweet and kind to everybody and all over the place. And some people didn’t realize that she was as mentally disabled as she was at certain stages. So they were mean to her. You know, they just didn’t respond well to her and actually said hateful things to her at times.

One lady I remember specifically parking her grocery cart right beside mine. And Taylor was sitting in the top seat. And immediately – I hadn’t turned my back for two seconds and Taylor reached over and grabbed the woman’s bread right off the top of the cart, squeezing it, you know, as tight as she could.

Jim: Well, it’s nice and soft.

(LAUGHTER)

Rachel: Yes! Who doesn’t want to touch soft bread?

Jim: That’s right!

Rachel: And the woman looked at her and said, “How could you do this? I just picked up” – you know, she really just went off on Taylor. And I stood there. I was so shocked for a moment I couldn’t say anything. And eventually, I collected myself enough to say she doesn’t understand what she’s doing. You know, I’m sorry that she did this. I’ll take the bread to the manager. If you could just get yourself new bread – you know, and there were many occasions like that. You know, one time I remember her grabbing a little girl’s pizza right out of her hand. You know, she’s just very tactile.

Jim: And everybody is thinking that’s just bad behavior rather than she’s not cognitive.

Rachel: Many times. And even – you know, children are more forgiving than the parents often. But it was difficult. I had to learn how to have a heart for people even when they didn’t see what was right in front of them.

Jim: Because of that experience and your ability to learn that forgiveness, what happens to a person – and there’s going to be many listening right now, we might be two of them, John – that struggle in areas of forgiveness? What happens when we don’t forgive?

Rachel: Well, not forgiving – I realized, you know, all of these little incidents that Taylor encountered, I would carry them like an albatross around my neck. And they actually wound up weighing me down. Holding those grudges and not forgiving people didn’t do anything to those people. I was the one who was suffering as a result of holding on to those unforgiving issues so tightly.

Jim: Hm. You know, we have covered a lot of ground about what the Lord has brought you through and your family. And I’m thinking of the person who’s heard this. And they’re wishing that they could have that attitude, that they could have that understanding, that they could have that faithfulness to trust the Lord even in their valley. But they’re struggling. And I’ve got to press you to say what would you say to them, and how would you encourage them? That if you had to wrap it up in a comment, in one pithy statement, someone who’s suffering for whatever reason and standing in front of you saying, “Help me. I see what God has done in your life, but help me” – what would you say?

Rachel: One of the statements that I hold onto dearly is God wants to do so much more than change our situation. He wants to change our hearts. And so when we take a close look at ourselves and say to the Lord, “Okay God. I want You to change my heart.” How often do we pray that, right? Oh, we pray, “Will You please work in this situation? Will You please change this circumstance?” You know, we pray for those things to be changed and for God to divinely change all of those issues. But when we realize that God wants to change our heart more than anything and give us a heart like Him, then that is when we have the courage and the strength to take one more step, and then one more step. And that is how we move forward and find the strength when we feel like giving up.

Jim: Rachel, what I hear in that is a commitment to His word. I mean, you talked about how much you memorized His Word, how much the Word flowed through you and how critical that is, whether it’s Psalms or Matthew or John or Genesis or wherever it might be. The fact that you know the Word and you’re committed to the relationship with God.

Rachel: I believe that church is important. Groups are important. Small groups, study groups – all of that is important. But I think that through my own journey, what I learned the most is that it is a personal relationship with God.

If someone wrote you a love letter, would you leave it on the shelf and never read it? And God has given us His Word, and it’s so very precious, and I honestly cannot wait to open it up every day because I need it so desperately. I need to hear from Him so desperately. And I just would encourage folks to get into His Word like you’ve never done before, even if you feel like you don’t understand what you’re reading, even if you feel like it’s not making sense, God’s Word always provides.

Closing:

Jim: I mean, that is it. And so many people will say that sounds too simple or they won’t even pick it up and try. But I hope you do. If you’re in that spot where life is tough, start with God’s Word.

And I’d say another thing is let us put Rachel’s book into your hands – One More Step. There’s so many wonderful, practical pieces of advice in there from experience, Rachel, that you have learned in the tough ways, and to lean in to God even when you’re in that desert. And I am so grateful to you for putting that down in a resource that people can read and embrace and understand God’s heart for them in an even stronger way. Thank you again for that transparency. And the way that you trust God and – man, for your future, I just pray God’s blessings for you in all the good ways. Even with some difficult things that still lie ahead.

Rachel: Yes, sir. And thank you so much for having me. You know, I poured out two years to write One More Step, and I – you know, folks don’t really know that I grew up in a wonderful home. But you know, I grew up in the state of West Virginia. It’s not exactly known for turning out authors.

(LAUGHTER)

Very low literacy rate. You know, when you look at Gideon or Moses, I relate so well to them because you know they say, “Well I’m not equipped. I’m not qualified.” You know, that’s exactly how I felt. But God put me on this journey. He gave me the ability and the context to write One More Step, and all along, my whole dream was just to really be able to help people get into God’s Word, get connected and feel like they too can keep going even when times are tough.

Jim: Wow. And that is such a sincere heart. So much better than a New York Times author, let me tell you.

John: Well that is a really powerful conversation we recorded with Rachel Wojo a while ago. And we so appreciated her insights and her vulnerability in sharing such a painful story with us. I need to let you know that Rachel and Matt’s daughter, Taylor passed away at the beginning of this month. And her life reached many for Christ and continues to spread the story of God’s love for all. And here at Focus, we’ve been praying for Rachel’s family and we encourage you to do the same.

And we do have copies of Rachel’s book here at Focus on the Family. We’ll send a complimentary copy if you can make a financial gift of any amount to Focus today. And you can do so when you call 800-A-FAMILY or donate at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Well coming up next time, you’ll hear about one couple’s near-death experience. And that had a significant impact on their marriage relationship.

Teaser:

Ryan Frederick: That eternal perspective came, but it took years to know that life is still short. And so we need to spend our moment doing eternal things and not just, you know, wasting it.

End of Teaser

Today's Guests

One More Step

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You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

The Spiritual Battle for Your Marriage

God designed marriage to reflect His love to the world; and because of this, the enemy wants to destroy God’s beautiful design. Based on his book, Defending Your Marriage, Dr. Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff share about the reality of spiritual warfare against marriages, and how to combat the enemy’s lies with the truth of God. Couples will be encouraged that they’re not alone in the fight for a godly marriage and better equipped to be a shining example for the world around them.

Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff Cropped

Dr. Tim and Mrs. Noreen Muehlhoff

Dr. Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University in La Mirada, California where he teaches classes in family communication, interpersonal communication, apologetics, gender, and conflict resolution.  Tim and his wife, Noreen, are both on staff with Biola’s Center for Marriage and Relationships  where he is a co-host of The Art of Relationship podcast. 

Defending Your Marriage

Is your marriage under attack? Sometimes it can feel like the world is trying to tear your marriage apart. Internal conflicts or external pressures might make you wonder if something sinister is going on. How can you tell if you’re facing spiritual opposition? And what can you do about it? Tim Muehlhoff provides a straightforward resource for protecting your marriage from the threats of the evil one. He looks at what Scripture says about spiritual warfare and how our everyday struggles have deeper spiritual realities. And he provides practical steps for guarding our marriages with the whole armor of God.

Effective Habits to Embrace in Parenting

To be an effective parent, you must be a leader in your child’s life, guiding with a gentle hand and setting a solid example. Dr. Randy Schroeder provides the insight you need to be a leader-parent. As he explores the foundational Rs—relationship, routines, responsibilities, and rules—you’ll better understand the role you play in your child’s life. You’ll learn great phrases to employ such as “Either/Or/You Decide” and “When You/Then You”. While there is no perfect parent, this nuts-and-bolts material will equip you to lead your child in a loving, confident manner.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder has spent more than four decades writing, counseling, speaking, and teaching. For nearly 25 years, he was Vice President of Student Personnel Services, Dean of Students, and a professor of pastoral counseling at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind. He’s also led a successful counseling practice helping individuals, couples, and families to thrive in their lives and relationships.

Cover image of Dr. Randall Schroeder's book "Simple Habits for Effective Parenting"

Simple Habits for Effective Parenting

Effective parenting is now within your grasp! With this inspiring how-to comprehensive book, achieve extraordinary results in raising a child to be self-assured, self-reliant, and responsible! You will be able to successfully lead and lovingly encourage your child toward a Godly life!

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 1

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 2

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 2

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage - Part 2

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 2

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 2

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

Embracing Your Role as a Spouse

As a spouse, you have three roles to play—a friend, a partner, and a lover. On this one-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Pastor Kevin A. Thompson explores those different roles and challenges you to live them out by investing emotionally, physically, and mentally in your relationship. As friends, he suggests we learn to play and laugh together. As partners, he equips us with solid ways to handle conflict and communication. As lovers, he offers some thoughts on how to bring back the sizzle. He shares five keys to saving your marriage: humility, respect, mercy, communication, and resilience. You’ll be encouraged to intentionally invest in your marriage.

Headshot of Kevin Thompson

Pastor Kevin Thompson

Kevin A. Thompson (MDiv, Beeson Divinity School) is lead pastor at Community Bible Church, a growing multi-site church with four locations in western Arkansas. Every year he meets with nearly one hundred couples with a range of needs, from pre-marital counseling to navigating the most serious betrayals. A marriage and parenting conference speaker, he and his wife, Jenny, have two children and live in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He blogs at kevinathompson.com.

Cover image of Kevin Thompson's book "Friends, Partners & Lovers"

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

With engaging stories and clear, simple language, pastor Kevin Thompson shows how to live out three distinct roles in marraige. Using solid biblical principles, he helps you and your spouse grow your friendship, be supportive partners through the good times and the bad, and develop a healthy and satisfying sex life.

Cherishing Your Spouse Every Day

Do you love your spouse, or do you truly cherish them? Gary Thomas encourages couples to make a daily effort to go beyond the ‘duty’ of love, and combat the natural inclination to drift apart, by choosing to see the best in their spouse.

Mr. Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas is an international speaker and best-selling, award-winning author whose books include Married SexSacred Marriage and Sacred Parenting. He has also written numerous articles for several prominent national magazines. Gary and his wife, Lisa, reside in Texas and have three children. You can learn more about Gary by visiting his website, www.garythomas.com.

cherish front cover

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

“Most marriages survive by gritting teeth and holding on. But marriages can and will not only survive but thrive when husbands and wives learn to cherish one another.” Those are the powerful words of bestselling author Gary Thomas in his newest book–Cherish. And in a world desperate for marriage redemption, it is needed now more than ever. Thomas shows that although there are a countless number of marriages consisting of two people just going through the motions, there are real ways this pattern can be reversed: when husbands and wives learn to cherish one another in proven, loving, and everyday actions and words.

Sharing Your Faith with Grace and Purpose

You can confidently and lovingly share your faith—you just need to learn some new tactics to do so! In this Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, apologist Greg Koukl outlines the “Columbo” tactic of asking questions, the “self-defeating argument” tactic to find holes in your opponent’s arguments, and other specific methods for engaging in faith-building conversations with others. Greg pulls from his over 30 years of experience debating atheists and agnostics to help you share your faith with grace and truth.

Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

Tactics front cover

Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. In Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to artfully regain control of conversations, keeping them moving forward in constructive ways through thoughtful diplomacy. You’ll learn how to stop challengers in their tracks and how to turn the tables on questions or provocative statements. Most important, you’ll learn how to get people thinking about Jesus.

Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still “pedaling” away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.

Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 1

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 1

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

How a Former Abortion Doctor Became Pro-Life

As an abortion doctor at Planned Parenthood, Dr. Patti Giebink believed she was helping women. Later, she began reading scripture and God gradually changed her heart on the abortion issue. Patti tells the story of her long journey from abortion doctor to pro-life and encourages listeners to share the message of life with compassion.

Headshot image of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Patti Giebink

Mrs. Patti Giebink

Dr. Patti Giebink is an OB-GYN who serves on the board of the Alpha Center, a well-known pregnancy center located in Sioux Falls, S.D. She also travels intermittently to work in mission hospitals in Pakistan and other countries. After completing her medical training, Dr. Giebink worked for Planned Parenthood from 1995-1997, during which she was the only abortion-provider in the state of South Dakota. She eventually experienced a radical change of heart on the issue of abortion after receiving God’s grace, forgiveness, and love, and she is now a passionate advocate for the pro-life movement.

Cover image of the book "Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life"

Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life

Unexpected Choice is told from the perspective of a doctor who actually performed abortions through Planned Parenthood. The book chronicles her journey from being a pro-choice physician to someone speaking on behalf of the pro-life movement.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.