If there’s one thing that I can almost guarantee in 2008, it’s that you and I will encounter struggles in our marriage or family life. This is, after all, a fallen world. Things break. Relationships become strained. Misunderstandings happen. Sickness happens. Life gets messy. Even Jesus as He walked on this earth refused to sugar coat reality. He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).
During times of trial, it’s tempting to feel that you’re all alone. I know that feeling all too well. During much of my childhood and well into my college years there were days when I was convinced that my file must have blown off of God’s desk. I now know that He was at work behind the scenes “working all things together for good” even when I couldn’t see the big picture in the midst of the storm.
In fact, every day I come to work, I stand in awe at the way I continue to see God changing lives: Couples on the road to divorce, reconciled. Teens tempted to compromise their values, standing strong against the cultural tide. Orphans in neglected corners of the world finding forever families.
Which is why I’d like to encourage you today with the following letters. These are just a few of the more than 240,000 letters, emails, and phone calls our team received each month during 2007. As you eavesdrop in on their stories, I believe you’ll see that God is still in the business of transforming broken marriages and healing hearts.
There’s another reason I wanted to share these letters with you. You see, these stories are a byproduct of the generous financial support and the commitment to pray for us by thousands of friends who stand with us day after day. Join me in rejoicing in what God had done – and will continue to do – in 2008 as you partner with us.
If you’re new to Focus on the Family, perhaps you’ll get an idea of the host of resources we offer to help you with your journey. If there’s any way we can be of service to you this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
A Family Reunited: “Eleven years ago, I called Focus on the Family after my wife left me, taking our 18-month-old daughter with her. We were living overseas at the time, as I was in the military. Your counselor was very helpful and offered needed advice and encouragement. My wife and I were separated for almost two years – but after I survived a terrorist attack (through the grace of God!), we started talking and eventually reunited. It was great to be a family once again. My daughter is now 13 years old and I feel so blessed to watch her grow. I just wanted to say thanks for being there when we needed you.”
A Stone Tossed in a Still Pond: “Thanks to your ministry and to the merciful Lord, I have a wonderful marriage! If there is such a thing, we are very much a ‘Focus-on-the-Family family.’ Many times my sentences start with ‘Dr. Dobson says!’ After the birth of our first child, before leaving the hospital I was snuggling my baby while reading Dare to Discipline. Our vacation trips are now measured in Adventures in Odyssey albums, not miles. I don’t even want to imagine where my life, my marriage, and my family would be today if you hadn’t been there. Focus on the Family was the stone tossed on a still pond – and my family is one of the ripples from that stone. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being faithful to the call of God!”
Christ Has Used You to Spare My Family: “Thank you for providing so much information that has blessed my life. I am a 45-year-old mother of three, having been married for nearly 25 years. But admittedly it has been a challenging road. After only two years of marriage, my husband and I had reached a low point where we decided to get divorced. I believed I had tried all life had to offer, my life was crumbling around me, and I was in a deep, dark depression with nowhere to turn. I began to look for God . . . and found Him.
“Forty-eight hours before our divorce was to be finalized, my husband also accepted Jesus. Needless to say, two forgiven people should be able to forgive each other, and somehow we did. By God’s grace, our broken hearts were mended and His powerful love brought healing to our home. Over the years, Focus on the Family’s ministry has had a positive effect on us as we have grown in maturity and love for each other. I know that Christ has used you to spare my family, my marriage, and at times my sanity. Thank you.”
Confused, Embarrassed, Heavy Hearted . . . and now Relieved: “Thank you so much for all the great information you provided when I wrote to you recently. My 20-year-old son has been involved in homosexuality for nearly four years, but has recently rededicated his life to Christ and now wants to leave that lifestyle. I have been confused, embarrassed, ashamed and heavy hearted for so long. I was trying to guard our family’s Christian reputation, so much so that I did not seek help or share my burden with anyone but instead tried to carry it alone. Now, because of your web site, Love Won Out, I can get my son the help that he needs and desires. God is good and I thank Him for answering my prayers by directing me to Focus on the Family’s web site.”
BOUNDLESS Speaks Boldly and Honestly: “I really enjoy Boundless and am encouraged by it. I’m a 19-year-old female college sophomore. When I was in junior high school I made the commitment to God that I would save my first kiss for marriage. Your articles are well supported with scripture and reinforced my resolve to guard my heart from sexual immorality. I really appreciate the way you speak boldly and honestly; people need to hear what you have to say. I look forward to new postings on Boundless and can’t wait to read them. Keep up the good work.
From Darkness to Light, From Nothing to Everything: “I became a Christian about five years ago at the age of 44, in large part due to Focus on the Family. At that point in my life, I had two young boys, a wonderful husband, a successful career, a beautiful home near the beach . . . you get the picture. ‘Who needs God, right?’ Somehow I discovered Christian radio and began listening to your broadcast during my commute. I was especially interested in Dr. Dobson’s programs on discipline and the strong-willed child – which not only describes our first born, but me and my entire side of the family!
“About that time I met another mom through our son’s Christian pre-school. That woman, now one of my dearest friends, reached out to our family. Meanwhile, I kept listening to your broadcasts and bought some of Dr. Dobson’s books. My life began to change, and 18 months later I accepted Christ. Now our whole family knows the Lord and is actively involved in an incredible church. So a thankful hug to Dr. Dobson and your entire staff for your vision and outreach. It’s difficult to get through to us ‘hard-headed, know-it-all, I’m-doing-very-well-thank-you’ types and bring us to the feet of Jesus. But you did just that: from darkness to light, from nothing to everything. We are forever grateful.”
It Was All Worth it to Have Such a Precious Child: “I appreciate Focus on the Family’s strong stance against abortion. Ten years ago, before I became a Christian, I was in a relationship with a man who had promised to marry me. I became pregnant unexpectedly. He insisted that I should have an abortion as he was ‘ready for a wife – but not a child.’ I was also pressured by relatives to abort the baby because I was supposedly ‘going to be an embarrassment to the family as well as to myself.’ I majored in biology and knew all about the various abortion processes, and from my childhood I’d been taught that life begins at conception.
“But I did not want to lose the man I thought I was going to marry. I was in agony over the situation and literally wanted to die. Well, I am writing to you today as a single mother of a beautiful daughter who will soon celebrate her tenth birthday! Although I sacrificed my ‘freedom,’ my ‘dream job,’ and even life with my daughter’s father (he would not accept my decision to forego an abortion and soon disappeared completely), it was all well worth it to have such a precious child. I cannot ever imagine life without my little girl. If I had to do it again, I would go through the pain, fear and abandonment all over just to have her! God is good indeed! That’s just one of many reasons why I value your ministry – you take a stand for what matters.”
FOF Changed the Way I Think and Vote: “The Focus on the Family broadcast just ended for today, and I felt compelled to tell you folks how much I enjoyed it. I was sitting at my desk working as I listened, crying right along with your guest as she gave her testimony. I have been listening to Focus on the Family by ‘default’ – your program just happened to come on each afternoon on the Christian radio station I have been listening to since rededicating my life to Jesus a couple of years ago. When I first started tuning in, as a self-confessed ‘born liberal’ I thought Dr. Dobson was the most right-wing extremist I had ever heard. But after two years of listening to your programs, I’ve come to appreciate him as a caring, loving Christian. Your compassion for everyone – born or unborn – has changed the way I think and vote. Thank you for your ministry and keep up the good work.”
I Wish I Had Learned About PluggedIn Sooner: “I heard about your PluggedIn web site today from listening to a local Christian radio station. I immediately wanted to check it out. Thank you for your many concise and helpful reviews of movies and television shows. Wow! I hadn’t realized how perverse, depraved, and utterly disgusting some of the movies I had considered seeing really are. I’m happy to keep my money and choose something worthy of the hard-earned cash in my wallet! Your reviews are detailed, thorough, honest and enlightening. As a Christian mom, I appreciate and applaud your Web site, not only for me and my husband, but for our two young children. I only wish I had learned about PluggedIn sooner!”