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Living With Healthy Grief

Learn how to deal with the grief that comes from the death of a loved one or from divorce. It includes the stages of grief and provides teens with ideas on how to walk through the process of grief after a loss.

Megan never thought she would have to deal with death, at least not at this age. Her older sister Linda was a picture of health and vitality — until her car collided with a semi on the way back to college, and she was killed instantly. Extremely popular and intelligent, Linda seemed almost invincible to 16-year-old Megan.

On the flip side, Tony wasn’t surprised when he received word that his dad had died after struggling for five years with lung cancer. He’d seen his dad endure chemotherapy, radiation treatment, hospitals, tests, tests and more tests. In the end, his dad’s death seemed almost inevitable.

Whether we’re like Megan or Tony, none of us knows exactly how death will touch our lives until it does. We all know that facing death can’t be avoided. In a single year, more than 2.4 million people die in the United States.National Vital Statistics Reports, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006. We see deaths everywhere. Some of them are staged. In fact, by the time the average child leaves elementary school, he will have witnessed 8,000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence on TV.Aletha C. Huston et al, Big World, Small Screen: The Role of Television in American Society (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), p. 54. On the other hand, some of the scenes are real. The horror on the faces of Columbine High School students caught on camera as they fled their school in April 1999 will be etched in our minds for years to come. Those situations may be rare, but they do happen, and they happen to real teens. Another way teens see death in their world is through suicide. More than 33,000 Americans took their own lives in 2006.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006. It’s likely that you know of someone who has either attempted or committed suicide.

Grieving: A Painful But Necessary Process

Though people are living longer, society hasn’t (and will never) come up with a way to eliminate death. And where death exists, sadness tugs at our hearts. You probably wouldn’t be reading this right now if you hadn’t experienced some type of loss — the death of a loved one or pet, an injury, a dream that seems unattainable now or your parents’ divorce. Losses come in all shapes and sizes. You may not be responsible for the loss at all, but it doesn’t change the fact that you hurt.

In Matthew 5:4, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Mourning doesn’t just happen at funerals. It can happen whenever we face a loss no matter what it is. Some people don’t mourn because it’s too painful. We were initially created for a world without sadness, so we try our best to dodge it whenever possible. But mourning is a process that helps us deal with our sadness. It’s healthy, even though it’s difficult. If you’re a guy, you may be feeling pressure from others to be strong and not let your emotions show. In reality, the hurt is still there whether you face it or not. When you choose to avoid it or bury it inside, it doesn’t help. As painful as they may be, emotional wounds need to be exposed to Jesus Christ so He can heal them. He accepts us with our sadness, wants to comfort us and promises He will.

If we hide the pain, we’ll pay a price, and if we bury the pain, it will often bury us. We might be consumed with resentment that surfaces when we least expect it. We might avoid others so we don’t have to be reminded of our own losses. We might turn to alcohol, drugs or sex as a way to numb our pain. Or we might get angry because it feels safer than sadness. But we can be sure that if we don’t face the loss, we won’t experience lasting comfort.

There is a better way.

Grieving is invaluable, and it’s a skill that can be used throughout your life in many situations. If you understand how to grieve now, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary heartache down the road.

Tasks of Grief

You may have heard someone say that grief has different stages and that we have to walk through each stage to “get past the pain.” Talking about stages of grief can be helpful for understanding our reactions, as long as we don’t view those stages too rigidly. They don’t always follow a specific progression; grieving people don’t say, “I’m in stage one now, and I’m just about ready to step into the next stage.” Stages can blend. Sometimes you might skip back and forth between them. For that reason it may be more helpful to view them as four “grief tasks” to work through, rather than four consecutive stages:J. William Worden PhD, Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner (New York: Springer Publishing Company, 2009).

Task 1Accept the reality of the loss.

When you first hear about a loss, you may experience shock or denial. You might think, No! This couldn’t have happened; it just doesn’t make sense! It may take a few weeks for your mind to catch up with reality. Difficulty sleeping, a change in appetite or a strong desire to be with others may show up at this point in your life. In extreme cases, people may experience delusions as they wait for their loved one to return. This was how Queen Victoria responded after the death of Prince Albert. At times she spoke to him in the palace and had his clothes laid out ready to be worn. That may sound bizarre, but people often do similar things in more subtle ways. For instance, you might deny how much the loss hurts, saying, “I can always find another friend,” or, “My parents were fighting a lot with each other; the divorce is probably for the best.” Though these denials may temporarily deaden the pain, having a clear picture of what you’ve lost will help you move to the second task.

Task 2Work through to the pain of grief.

When the truth finally hits you, it’s not as though you’ll wake up from a dream and find everything back to normal. In fact, as time goes on, you’ll become aware of how this loss will change your life forever. Not only are you likely to feel the deep sense of hurt, but there may be strong anger toward another person, yourself or even God. These emotions can be intensified on certain dates such as your brother’s first birthday after his death, your parent’s wedding anniversary after a divorce, or the anniversary of the loss itself. Recognizing and allowing yourself to feel the pain is an honest reaction that can eventually help you to heal.

Task 3Accept your world with the loss.

Once you’ve faced the despair, with time and God’s help, you will increasingly be able to accept the loss and realize that life goes on. You may have had your identity wrapped up in the person or relationship that has been lost. Understanding that you still have an identity apart from what has been lost is necessary to move ahead. Acceptance isn’t about trying to block the loss out of your mind. Instead, it’s about realizing that the loss will change your world, and that you’re still meant to have a whole and healthy life in this new and different world. You’ll have the ability to focus on future living once you’re able to say goodbye with your heart to the things or people you’ve lost.

Task 4Have a place for your memories, but move on with life.

In some ways this is a continuation of Task 3. Here you are able to take specific, concrete steps to go on with your life in this new world. Memories and sadness remain, but there’s a new strength to move on. In this stage you may be able to look back at how you’ve grown from the entire ordeal, and you may even reach out to others who are hurting. In Joshua 1:2, God tells Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River.” Joshua already knew Moses was dead — that was obvious! But God was giving Joshua the opportunity to move forward with the plans God had for him. If we choose to stay stuck in grief and loss forever, we’ll never know how God could have used us.

How Can I Grieve?

OK, so you understand that dealing with your grief and pain is sometimes a long road, and that you may have to walk the same section of it several times before healing starts to happen. But that doesn’t sound very encouraging, does it? Fortunately, there are some specific things you can do while you’re walking that road. And while no single action is the key to everyone’s walk of grief, some of these suggestions may help you.

1. Identify what you’ve lost.

It sounds easy enough: “My sister was killed,” or “My horse died,” or “My parents divorced.” But try to go deeper than that. Besides the obvious loss, what are you going to have to live without? Are you losing a friend? Are you losing a source of stability? Are you losing an encourager? Sometimes writing down your losses can allow you to come back later and see how the relationship impacted you.

2. Touch your pain.

You can identify all your losses in your brain, but true grieving requires you to use your heart. A funeral service might help you to focus on your hurt, but when it’s over, the sadness will still be there. To continue working through your pain, you might write a letter to the person who died. It’s obviously not for that person’s benefit, but it may help you to review what you appreciated most about him or her. Or you could visit that person’s grave site and speak your heart. Often, the closer you were to the person you lost, the more you’ll hurt. Making a scrapbook can also help you sift through tangible reminders of the person. You may experience memories that aren’t enjoyable, but for healing to happen, the hurts and fears connected with a critical parent or hostile peer should be felt just as much as the positive memories.

3. Tell your story.

Although other people may experience the same loss, your story is unique. Feeling the emotions helps, but conveying them to others can bring even deeper healing. Right after the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999, students and school personnel were encouraged to talk to people about their feelings. Through tears and words, they shared their experiences — not so much to aid the police investigation but to help in their own recovery. Talking to a parent, counselor, minister, youth worker or friend can validate your emotions. Even sharing your experience with a trusted friend or adult in a letter may open the door for loved ones to talk with you about your grief. And once you’ve told your story, you’ll probably need to retell it. You’ll find that each time, your heart will heal a bit more.

4. Deal with your regrets.

If only I hadn’t gone to basketball practice that day, I could’ve kept my sister from the accident! If I hadn’t been thinking about myself, I could’ve stayed up with Dad and been with him when he died! Your mind may race with thoughts like these, trying to figure out how you could have kept death or loss from happening. Most of the time, our regrets come out of unreasonable expectations of ourselves. We review the event in our minds and come to the inaccurate conclusion that we could have made a difference. You need to realize that those feelings will be there. Many times people wish that they had died instead of the other person. This survivor’s guilt creates a sorrow over having survived when someone else died or was injured.

Besides the “unrealistic” regrets, there may be times when we really have blown it — we may wish we hadn’t said what we did or hadn’t acted in a certain manner. Talking with a parent or pastor can help you get a handle on the degree to which your regret is realistic. Tell God if there is something you wish you could’ve changed. If you need to confess something, God is available and ready to forgive you when you come to Him with a repentant heart.Huston, p. 54. Read God’s comforting words in 1 John 1:9.

5. Don’t bury your resentments.

People may not have always treated you in the best way. No one is perfect. At some time, parents, friends, siblings and teachers have all let you down. When a person who has hurt you dies, the feelings you’ve built up toward him or her can make the grieving process harder. Dealing with your hurt or anger is important so that the feelings can heal and not fester. The alternative is the resentment that develops when anger freezes inside us. Hebrews 12:15 tells us, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

You hurt yourself and others when you let bitterness grow. You may be afraid of your anger and not know what to do with it. You may use the anger as a shield to keep you from further hurt. But when you bottle up resentment, it spills into other areas of your life — including other relationships — without realizing it. We often let resentment build up because we think it shows a lack of respect to feel anger toward someone who has died. So we leave the other person on a pedestal and try to bury our emotions. But bitterness doesn’t help anyone. Sometimes the only way to let go of your anger is to give yourself permission to feel it and then let it out in a healthy way.

6. Take a break.

It takes time to work through loss. You’re not likely to do it in a moment. If grief hit us continually, we probably wouldn’t have the strength to deal with it. Think of it as waves in the ocean. There are moments of calm between the swells, and some of them are smaller than others. There will be times when it feels as though a wave has just smacked you down. The grief will be intense. But then there will be calm times when you can regain your strength and footing until the next experience of grief moves in. Setting aside specific times to write out your feelings can help you identify your grief. For instance, when your mind wanders from a math assignment, you can tell yourself that you need to be thinking about algebra at the moment and that there will be time to journal later. That way, you don’t have to deal with grief all the time, but you can consistently find blocks of time to face it.

7. Look forward.

In some ways, you may never get over the pain. The intense times of grief will get farther and farther apart, but you’ll have reoccurring memories that still bring sadness. Although mourning is healthy, at some point you must choose to move ahead. How long should you grieve? That’s a tough question, one that has no definite answer. It really depends on your experience and personality.

In Lamentations, Jeremiah does just what the title of his writings says — he laments:

I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.” I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” Lamentations 3:17-20

A paraphrased and condensed version might read like this: “Life stinks, and God, you made it that way!”

Boy, does Jeremiah get into his pain! But later on, there is a shift in his attitude: “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (Lamentations 3:21-22).

Jeremiah opened his heart in gut-wrenching fashion, but in this verse he makes a decision to look for the truth beyond his struggle. And it doesn’t just float into his head. He makes a choice to see how the nature of God affects his concern. Sometimes we look at it like a multiple-choice test:

a) I face the pain, or …

b) I look at truth beyond the pain.

But it’s not one or the other; we need to do both. Two more verses in the third chapter of Lamentations point to both parts of grieving: “For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love” (Lamentations 3:31-32).

After facing the sadness, it may be helpful to write out truths of encouragement to remind us of God’s compassion on a weekly or daily basis. No matter what the loss has been, you have a life ahead of you worth living!

Keep in Mind

Along the road of grief, many people fall into potholes because they can’t see clearly what’s up ahead. Remembering these few things will help you avoid getting stuck on your journey:

No two people grieve the same way.

Grief isn’t a cookie-cutter matter; people deal with loss differently. It’s important that you decide to grieve, but you don’t have to shed a certain number of tears. Parents, teachers, friends and others may have certain ideas about how you should grieve. Tell them that you appreciate their desire to see you work out the sadness, but without criticizing them, let them know how you need to grieve. Talk to them about the steps you’re taking to deal with your loss. In most cases, their greatest desire is to see you work through your emotions.

Life doesn’t stop for your pain.

Can you imagine how nice would it be if you could take a specific amount of time and grieve without having to worry about anything else in life? What if you could set your alarm clock for two years from now and know that whatever choices you make in that time won’t bear any consequences? It’s a nice thought, but it’s not reality. You still have to get along with your parents and friends, and yes, you even have homework, volleyball practice and maybe a part-time job. Choices you make during your time of grief will affect you either positively or negatively, just like they do when life is “normal” — so choose wisely!

Watch out for unhealthy affection.

When it comes to grief, words sometimes don’t help a whole lot. Job’s friends sat with him in silence for seven days because they saw how much he hurt (Job 2:13). Sometimes we just need to be close to someone else in silence with a hug or an arm around a shoulder. Ask family or friends for the closeness you need, but set boundaries. You could end up in a sexually compromising situation when all you really needed was someone to show you that he or she cares.

Old losses may still need to be mourned.

“That was a long time ago. It doesn’t affect me anymore. How could it? I barely remember it.” When you’re tempted to make these excuses, remember that it doesn’t matter how much time has passed since the loss. You still need to face it. Some people go to their graves with old hurts that they’ve never touched. Don’t make that mistake.

Understanding Death

When we’re young, it’s hard to imagine death affecting us. Cartoon characters get flattened on the road, but in the next frame they jump up ready for more. Unless we’ve had someone close to us die, it’s easy to think death happens only to older people. Until Christ comes back, though, death is here to stay. Without getting morbid, what does the Bible say about death?

The Bible Says …

  • Death came after sin entered the world (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:15). It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when death didn’t exist on this earth, but there was!
  • Death doesn’t respect anyone’s status. “For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others” (Psalm 49:10). No matter how much money you earn, you can’t take it with you! And there is going to be a day when each one of us dies.
  • Jesus has demolished the power of death.” … Our Savior, Christ Jesus … has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). If we ask Christ to forgive our sins and we receive Him into our hearts, we don’t have to fear death. We will live with Him forever!
  • You can receive the free gift of forgiveness and live with God when you die.“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The best way to know how to grieve someone else’s death is to make sure you’re ready for your own. Have you accepted God’s free gift? It’s not about being perfect or getting yourself cleaned up for God. It’s about knowing that you’ve blown it like everyone else, asking God to forgive you and asking Him to be your Savior and Lord. There aren’t any magic words; you just need to open your heart. If you’ve never asked Christ into your life, do it now. None of us is guaranteed another day!

If you have any questions about what it means to become a Christian, talk to someone who has already given his or her heart to Jesus, or call Focus on the Family at (800) A-FAMILY (232-6459). We would love to speak with you about this most important decision you’ll ever make.

The Bottom Line

No one can make you grieve; you have to decide if you will. The questions included here can help if you don’t want to bury your emotions. Think about them with your heart. God can give you the courage to face the pain. Talk with your parents, youth leader or pastor about your grief. If you feel stuck, it may also be helpful to speak with a counselor.

Questions to Think About

  • What have I lost in my life?
  • How will that loss affect me now? In the future?
  • What will I miss the most?
  • What anger do I have, if any?
  • Are there any other losses I’ve buried in the past?
  • What regrets do I have, if any? Are they realistic?
  • Do I need to forgive anyone for hurts I’ve experienced?
  • What specific actions can I take to grieve my loss in a constructive manner?
  • Have I been able to talk to people about my loss?
  • Are others willing to talk to me about my hurt?
  • When am I least willing to touch my sadness?
  • Have there been times I’ve thought about ending my life? (If you have, talk to your parents, a teacher or pastor about those feelings right away.)
  • Are there choices I need to put on hold until I work through my grief?
  • What do I need from other people? Have I asked them without demanding that they respond?
  • Does God care about my pain?
  • What have I learned from my grief?
  • What is God’s future for me?

Remember, grieving is never an easy process, but God is available to give you His comfort and peace. And in time, you will be able to move forward in His power.

All scripture quotations are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION NIV¬Copyright ¬©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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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 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 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Thank you for committing to pray for the pre-born!

Sign up below for your free seven-day prayer guide. This daily guide will help give direction to your prayers for the pro-life movement. We will be praying with you! 

Focus on the Family

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