Would you volunteer to help a foster or adoptive family?

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Mobilized volunteers make a difference. We cannot merely stand on the sidelines shouting words of affirmation or encouragement without taking action.

When I ask why someone wants to volunteer with our ministry, I tend to hear the same responses. Volunteering makes them feel good about serving others. It is a way to build upon their faith, or God called them to it. All of these are solid foundations on which many people decide to get involved. However, signing up to volunteer was just one part of the equation. I wanted to learn what kept people coming back time and time again to give of themselves. After years of working alongside countless volunteers, I’ve identified what I call the “volunteer line of sight” theory. To understand what this is, let me share two different times of my life that illustrate how I learned its importance.

Volunteer

In 1987 I decided to become a certified coach for the local Special Olympics chapter. When filling out my paperwork, I ignored all rational thought. My ambitious desire to help someone less fortunate resulted in me selecting the “no preference” option for the sport I wanted to coach. My “yes” was on the table. And nothing was going to stop me from becoming the best coach I could be. They asked me to assist the track and field coaches and work specifically with one athlete. I agreed to the assignment and was introduced shortly after that to Randy.

Randy was an intellectually disabled, 21-year-old athlete who I thought was very shy as he didn’t speak much. The truth was he didn’t speak at all. I clearly remember two things about that day as the head coach introduced us to each other. First was that Randy was non-verbal. This fact was not something I had much experience dealing with. I figured I would find a way to communicate. Second, he was a distance runner.

You would think that the non-verbal challenges he faced would have been my most challenging obstacle to overcome. Yet, it was not. It was the sport in which he was participating in. I am not a runner. Let me say that again. I am not a runner and certainly not a long-distance runner. It didn’t matter though, Randy needed me, right? Wrong. What I didn’t’ know was that God was about to lay the foundation for me to learn a vital lesson about volunteering. A lesson that would serve as a basis for so many areas of the ministry that He has blessed me to lead today.

The First Day Volunteering

The first day of training went something like this. Randy required an assistive start, which I discovered meant he needed help lining up for his race. Easy enough, I thought. So, when it was time, I helped him up to his starting block, reviewed the starting procedure with him, and then told him I would be just off to the side timing him and cheering him on. The race official began giving the commands, “Runners take your mark, get set, go”! Except Randy didn’t go. Randy’s execution of the race commands went as follows. He firmly planted his feet on runners, take your mark, assumed the runner’s stance on getting set, but on the word go, he stood up straight, watched the other runners take off, and then looked to the side for me.

It didn’t matter how loud I yelled “run,” or how emphatically I made large circles with my arms telling him to “Go, go, go!” he didn’t move. I had to wait for the race to finish and watched the runners lap him twice before I could go out to the starting block. I walked over to Randy and gave him some of the best coaching advice ever delivered. “Randy, when they say go, you have to run.” Genius, I know. As you might have guessed, start after start, the same thing would happen. Ready, set, go, lead to ready, set, stand up, and look for me.

Keep Your Eyes on Me

coach and runner next to each other on track

After several race starts, one of the seasoned coaches came to me and suggested that I go through the motions myself from the sideline so that Randy could take the cue from me on what to do. I guess it couldn’t hurt, and after several failed starts, I decided to try it. Lining him up for the last practice run for the day, I said to him, “Keep your eyes on me. I don’t want you to look at anything else but me and copy what I do.” I lined him up one last time, took myself to the inside track, and assumed the runner’s stance. However, when the word “go” was given, I began running on the inside. Much to my surprise, so did Randy.

Excited and filled with pride, I stopped running and started clapping and cheering him on, which was the wrong thing to do as he stopped with me. “No! Keep running!” I shouted and clapped. But he didn’t move unless I did. So I started running again and so did he. Despite his inability to tell me what he needed, it became clear that he needed to see me help keep him moving for the next 1500 meters and subsequently the next three months. Or did I need to see him to keep myself moving?

A New Journey

Fast forward 33 years later. My wife and I have been serving in the foster care and adoption world for close to 18 years. Over those years, we have seen many things. Our family has grown by 5, experienced many challenges, celebrated numerous victories, and cried through just as many losses.

We know the feelings that come with the phone calls late at night or in the very early morning hours, asking if we can take another child. And we understand the complexity of wrestling with your logical self that says, “We already have five kids in the home, we can’t take another one,” and your heart beating strong with emotion as it justifies “What’s one more?”

In addition, we have felt the anxiety of having enough space in the home, space in the car, adding another bed, sizes of clothing, and increased grocery bills. Pepper in the child’s trauma, behaviors, additional doctor visits, visitation, and caseworkers, and our stress levels reach levels higher than we ever felt possible. It can be crushing, overwhelming, and give us every reason to politely say, “No. We are sorry we cannot take one more, child.”

Paused and Prayed

But when we paused, prayed, and listened for God’s direction, there was no denying what we needed to do. By silencing our thoughts, we began to feel something stirring in our hearts, we heard it in our minds, and we were reminded that He would provide. Inevitably, we would always take just one more placement.

We needed so much, though, and didn’t know how we would make it work or where we were going to find the resources. Like Randy, we couldn’t tell people what we needed, and in fact, we often went to great lengths to appear as though we had it all under control. The truth was we were standing at the starting block, unable to move. Someone needed to see us and begin running on the sidelines with us. We were committed to the race but desperately needed a coach to help keep us going.

God Provided

grandma holding donation box

God provided as He always had and always will. Our volunteers (coaches) started showing up in so many different ways. They came as prayer warriors, meal makers, baby sitters, mentors, clothing donors, and home improvement people, to name a few. With all of them bringing their unique gift to the table so that we could say yes to just one more child. Each person is blessed with a servant’s heart and a desire to volunteer their time, talent, and energy into strengthening our family. But why? To get the answer, we didn’t need to look any further than the gospel.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things, God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 4:10-11

Mobilized volunteers make a difference. We cannot merely stand on the sidelines shouting words of affirmation or encouragement without taking action, it didn’t help Randy, and it isn’t going to help a family in need. We have to be willing to step into the needs of those around us so that they, too, can experience the love of Christ.

Volunteer Line of Sight

I have worked with many families and children over the years and have seen the most success when we respond to them through action. So many of us do not want to be a burden to others, and therefore, we never speak out about what we need. This is especially true for so many foster/adoptive families. Don’t let them stand alone at the start of the race on the track. Seek them out, befriend them, connect with them, and learn about their needs. This is where God wants us to be, in people’s lives where they need us most.

So what is the volunteer line of sight? It is that invisible line between the one needing help and the one who has something to give. We can choose to look away from those in need, or we can lock eyes with them and affirm that “I see you.” Conversely, the person in need locking eyes with the volunteer who so desperately wants to be obedient to God’s word and allow them to utilize their gifts through acts of service. Keeping looking for one another and recognizing that we all desire to be seen here on earth. Lock eyes, see what God is doing in one another, and remind each other that in those times of struggle, God never takes his eyes off of any of us.


Runners take your mark.

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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.

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.

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 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!