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April 29, 2020 2:00 am
Jim Daly has a discussion with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar who offers his expert insights on the coronavirus pandemic.
Then Sarah Mackenzie, author of The Read-Aloud Family, explains how parents can strengthen their relationships with their children by reading books together as a family.
Podcast users, find today's related broadcast resources here: https://dbx.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/connecting-with-your-kids-through-reading
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With all that's happening in the world you may be looking for ways to both entertain and encourage your family. We like to help you do just that by giving you a four week free trial of the adventures in Odyssey club you can find our catalog of nearly 900 adventures in Odyssey programs. These exciting episodes are a great way to keep your family connected to God's truth as you navigate through significant and unexpected changes to your normal day-to-day life. So go to a I/O club.org and get started on your free trial of the adventures in Odyssey club welcome to Focus on the Family with your host focus president and Dr. Jim Daly I'm John Fuller and for the first portion of our special broadcast date privileged to speak with US Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Lazar, John. It really is an honor to have Sec. Hayes are with us by phone for just a few minutes as we talk about issues surrounding the antivirus pandemic. He's been in this post since 2018 and has also served at HHS from 2001 to 2007 so he knows the place he has a huge responsibility. And of course this is such a critical healthcare crisis as secretary Lazar thank you so much for making time to speak with us here Focus on the Family while delighted to be with you and your listeners. Again, thank you so much. Let me ask you so often HHS the agency that you run Health and Human Services it's a sprawling agency. What's the budget and what your mission yet so we have a $1.4 trillion budget that trillion with 8P. Our mission is to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans know we are the largest cabinet department on the face of the earth if we were a nation, we would be the six largest country on the planet after the US, China, Japan, Germany and France that the only time I'm happy to be behind France. What is government spending. Yeah, it's amazing. It is so large and most people don't realize that and what you come into do every day.
Well we touch every American life every single day.
So we run Medicare and Medicaid, and, of course, also Obama care is in their we have the Food and Drug Administration would regulate drugs cosmetic tobacco so one out of every four consumer dollars spent in the United date, we have the National Institutes of Health, the largest biomedical research institution on the planet. We have the Centers for Disease Control and prevention of the world's premier epidemiological disease detective organization.
We run our our social welfare programs.
So, foster care, something Focus on the Family courses work with often than is so important about all of our traditional welfare programs that you will know of. We we just are integrated and everything run our chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear countermeasures program for preparedness and response years we have been very significant national security and number eight merge of the management function so really just across the board a a mammoth department that touches everyone every day.
It's amazing and I wanted to take that picture. Thank you for doing it because I don't think most Americans realize how big HHS truly is. You mention foster care before we get to the covert situation.
Let me touch on the question. I'd love to ask you something. I thought about quickly being a former foster child myself these foster kids that are aging out in this environment.
Has anybody paid attention to what can happen to these kids that are turning 18 and the check stops, and the foster family there time there is over because there's no more dollars. Has anybody there at HHS are you looking at that what we might do. I know were bailing out small businesses were doing lots for rightfully. For those economic reasons. Take care of small businesses like that.
But what about these kids that are aging out yet it really important one. We've been focused on what comes up in a couple of different contexts, though, let's say you have a foster kid who is aged out and what they the one lucky ones, and they've been able to go off to college I write will they don't have a home family and so if that college is now shut down.
You could have a kid who was in a dormitory live in a good light was one of our success stories and now is homeless and so what we done with work glycolic Department of Education and out of our administration on children and families and we work to highlight this issue for colleges that the keep dorms open and allow these kids. They there are not cast out into homelessness. We reached out to all of our public welfare foster care agency.
Say we need you to reach out to the kids of aged out get connected to them, get them and to support programs.
Don't forget about them because they're gonna be for those who aren't often college if they had a job they might now be unemployed. They might be greater connection. They don't have that family home early to reach back to the Lynn Johnson are children and families has been very focused on this effort, and really working to protect the get well and is terrific.
I know her and she's doing a terrific job for you. It's all right, let's move to the covert situation you're on the task force, of course. Picture what that is like your are you meeting everyday still and what is their tension and we know what to believe in the media anymore because it's all over the board but straight from your mouth, what is going on and what is that like every day for you.I want to believe in the media anymore which is very little thought in terms of our interactions. It these are all the leaders across our government and we meet almost daily basis and under the leadership of the vice president and the president.
We review the latest epidemiological data. So basically, the state of the disease. What were seeing both in the US and abroad, and then we review key issues that require policy level determination. We get reports from our FEMA administrator on especially the status of supplies being pushed out the state ours procurement and securing of additional supplies and our work on testing and it's a very collegial setting. We've all worked together for a long time about half the members of the task force are my direct reports by leaders so we all work extremely well and professionally. Together, and were all working just to not just to make the president and vice president successful in the most importantly to help the American people keep them safe but also get them back to work when this started. I can remember now seven weeks ago eight weeks ago. You know when many of the states began to shelter in place. It felt like there was no anxiety and you could hear that the press briefings etc. course.
Gov. Cuomo is certainly adding to that anxiety with his desperation about the ventilators and things like that. Other governors jumped in, etc. so there seem to be somewhat of a panic about what are we gonna do and what will. How will this impact is coated 19. How is it going to impact us now that were moving through it.
What is your sense of the future is that more optimistic now are we less concerned about a catastrophic impact, a member we are thinking 240,000 potential deaths from coated 19. How are you feeling today will I would say that were feeling a great deal of optimism and confidence in part because of the tremendous work, the president and vice president of done leading us through this collaboration with our nation's governors and the harnessing of the entire massive power. The private sector here in the United States it out. A lot of the governors of learned a lot. They have become health experts they've learned about the public health labs and weight, they didn't know they've learned about their health system. The capacities there things they didn't know they learn how many ventilators they have, which they didn't know at the beginning and what we done.
We have actually managed to keep the disease burden in the United States within our healthcare capacity and if you go back and you look at what we talked about in January when we were first getting going when there were just thousands of cases in China when they're working out less than 10 cases here in the United States.
We said the number one goal is to delay and flatten the curve of this disease because of coming to America. There's no way to stop that. But to do so in a way that keeps it within our healthcare capacity, and that is what the president has done that is what our governors have done that is what this tremendous team across the task force had done it out the presence talk about this in America we are not aware of a case where an individual had to die because the ventilator wasn't available for them.
Markable achievement you know what a good place right now in the sense that the cases are going down. Fatalities are going down. We we saw a lot of people are suffering but we seem to be on the backside of this curve and very consistent with what we see in other countries is now these final moments when we just moved to the reopening issues and I think again I want to just be Joe citizen here in your watching the news, flipping through the stations there's two parts to this really one is my goodness. I mean, can we not get behind the positive nature of what's been accomplished what you just said. I guess it's impossible in our political environment so split that we can't rally for America, which is so sad, and I'd love your thoughts on that, and secondly the reopening and what were going to see in the near future and what are the good things and the pitfalls if I could hit all those yeah unfortunately, we do see the nation of this public health emergency.
We need to be coming together not coming apart as a result of that, so I do hope people remember were still in that and we need to put our politics aside, the president is committed reopening this economy and that's where the guidance that he's put out really help the community by community basis to do so in a way that they get back. People need to get out of their house they need to be only get back to work. This economy is the function and so opening up America again is what the president is called for. I think you'd be a lot may I'm very optimistic in May that the communities where it makes them people getting back to more of a sense of normalcy and people feeling just a lot better more optimistic about the future and the ability of us to carry out with that how you see the cover 19 virus expiring or what is being talked about at the highest levels about what they anticipate it will do the scientist well it's very hard to make predictions about an emerging infectious disease, especially one like this that is so devilish with its asymptomatic transmission, it makes it extremely hard to contain. But if we continue to see that the declining number of cases in totality.
It is quite possible that we would see resurgence in the fall.
If this molecule tends to be fairly heat sensitive as we think it is. But that gives us extra month as extra months to continue enhancing our healthcare capacity to drive the whole of government approach that I'm trying to lead to get the vaccines and therapeutics as fast as humanly possible to ensure that we have supplies that we sold all of that the American public should be feeling good that their government across state, local, federal level is making sure we are exceptionally prepared for the fall. In the event that we see resurgence, but also were driving towards vaccines and therapeutics is quickly as humanly possible. With every dollar in every power of the American public and private sector to make it happen. That is so good and were great.
Finally, the mental health area. That's the other prong of what's been happening in the Focus on the Family of counselors we have 7 million listeners to the program and we seen that uptick with counseling lines across the country like depression and anxiety calls to one hotline the rep like 900%. What about the mental health aspect of what's happening what you're right, we are seeing tremendous mental health impacts. And that's just your regular citizens are spending a lot of time at home there lacking the social interaction is so healthy for individuals. I think were seeing actually lower resurgence of family connectedness which is which is a positive aspect of mental health but were lacking along the community, neighborhood and workplace engagement and for so many people there now on Lloyd are facing the economic stresses of all of that, even if the president works that provide economic recovery monies to them, but then you got healthcare workers are heroes on the Johnson to be dealing with the mental health issues for healthcare workers, especially in the New York Metro area for some time to come and describe the for a lot of it's like working in a war zone and would have to be dealing with the caring for these healthcare workers, which includes all the way of janitors, stalkers and all the nurses and doctors and administrators for a long time.
Sec. Cesar finally let me just ask you your speaking to a predominantly Christian audience of Focus on the Family you are a man of faith. How does your faith sustain you and this time I mean, it's always good to talk to people at the cutting edge of government or business who believe in Jesus but how are you seeing faith and reality come together here well II try to keep to a rule of prayer. I try to get a Bible open on my desk and I try every day to read from the book of Psalms and I try to read from an Old Testament book right now that I try to read from a bit each day to keep that connectedness, but it's hard.
You know, not being able to go to church. Nothing for me him and Eastern Orthodox Christians not being able to take communion for me. An important part of my faith is exit the communal aspect of being part of the faith. Me know just talking to my priest yesterday about how hard this is for me to not not be able to go to church not to receive sacrament and do not have that sense of community.
It's it's hard for all of us and I find it very hard and obviously will continue to work on my direct relationship with God through prayer, but I do miss the communal aspect of a great deal and millions of Americans do as well including assets is standard practice for us in our evangelical church but I guess the point is you know God was good for Abraham Lincoln in a crisis and there's much written about Abraham Lincoln's dependence upon God through the Civil War.
We've referred to this as a war and I'm grateful to many in the cabinet that we know who are faithful Christians who also rely on God and the situation so thank you for your faith. Thank you for your leadership at HHS, Mr. Sec., and thank you for this time.
Thank you for you and your listener prayers. They make a difference in mean a lot to count on them. I know people will be praying for you. God bless you Sec. Alex Lazar in this initial addition of Focus on the Family and we hope you continue praying for him and his family during these rather difficult times, and certainly with the virus shut down. We have a lot of help for you and your family. I just checked the link in the episode notes and now for the remainder of our time together today. We'd like to offer some practical help for you parents and we know that many of you are struggling with the really difficult aspect of this crisis. That is the disruption to your children's schedule there at home now and I want to offer some ideas for really connecting with them in special ways through books and reading. Not long ago Jim Daly and I discussed family reading time was Sarah McKenzie and she's a mom of six kids and wrote the book the read aloud family making meaningful and lasting connections with your kids and let me mention this is an abridged version of our conversation and you can watch the full broadcast with Sarah on her YouTube channel.
Just search for Focus on the Family.
Let's go ahead and hear that broadcast is Jim welcome Sarah Sarah welcome to focus on things.
So much for having me and now how did you get started in this I mean thinking okay reading aloud to my kids will be a good thing when my oldest three of six kids and my oldest is now 16 was one I stumbled across Jim's releases. The read aloud handbook at a friend's house and that was the first time I went introduced to this idea that reading, we'll just read aloud to our kids so that they can reach themselves like you, we let your kids when they can't read, and then once they're able to read and start reading on their own preferred the first book that really opened my eyes to the fact that reading aloud has a value outside of you even said he can change the world. But here's the thing, and everything the time that we read a story we get to step in as she was somebody else and walk a mile in their shoes if we think about this with our kids. We want to prepare them for the world and give them God's heart for the world and help them see that everybody else in the world is an image of God has this beautiful story. If we are able to read story after story after story with our kids. We give them so much practice walking a mile in the shoes of someone else that when they are grown and they're getting hung that plays on my memory Highway you to never ever in that crazy story sitting on the street corner you think that person is tired of dying story and we give our kids the opportunity to reach out and take compassionate way by giving them practice walking in the shoes of others for miles.
And yeah, you've got a podcast that is really popular. Millions of people listening to your podcast. Why is this idea of reading aloud to your family and your kids particularly wise at catching hold. There's a couple things going on. I think one is that when we think that powerful impactful things we can do with our kids feel big like we need to do something giant to make that happen. But what is truly that we don't even have to relight every day. If you were to read aloud say 10 minutes every other day with your kids.
That's 35 minutes over a week and half an hour is right. Not nice. That's 30 hours over the course of the year.
We did this year over here at the drop in a bucket roll over time if we started I relieve ourselves of the burden or the pressure that he needs to be this big amazing thing every night at seven exactly when you're typing when you're sick or whatever.
We just think we tried to hit it for a small pockets of time. Most days, but would that look like relieve the theft that big burden and the other thing though I think is just like in all the other parts of parenting make a lasting impact. The things that really transform our relationships with our kids see the results of them right away if it's not you sit down and you read the lion the witch and the wardrobe, and your kids pop up in the suddenly more virtuous usually have in my home and a lot of times look like we think it said you know the kids are sitting on the couch in their hitting each other with their toes and I'm threatening kids on pain of death. They are on their own style and she does that. Because this could be real frustration prepared is trying and is more systematic about their approach how to they relax when you tickle your son is five years old is bouncing off the walls reading the story and what you end up doing so often is getting upset Johnny Comeau your sit down listener mommy or daddy and they're going check out check out the more we make it a confrontational thing.
You pretty much lost the game already. Yeah anything more than invitation. I think dictation to enjoy time together. One of the things it's helpful to remember the story is important as powerful as the story is actually as impactful as a child feeling like my parent wants to spend time with me to pick those things up at an early age to talk about more the benefits of reading aloud to kids where some of the things that as they grow that they express these children that have been read to. Yes, we know that reading elaborate kids who cannot read yet that is reading aloud is the number one thing we can do to help them be successful in school so when it comes to your young kids.
There's nothing better you can do and there's actually some really interesting research that shows that you can put your kids in really high-end private schools or paper to drink really reading aloud with your kids every day will make a bigger impact than either lasting and it's cheaper and when your kids were younger you read the wonderful Wizard of Oz. Now I gotta say we've got to think about the spiritual context of this but we can apply great spiritual truths from secular stories like that, you know, the fact that the lines all about courage and the tin man about hard wisdom and all those good things that are biblical truths. How do we connect those dots for our kids and what happened in your particular case with Wizard of Oz. Yes, I was reading Wizard of Oz wonderful Wizard of Oz of my kids, which is I think so much more delightful than the movie. The movie really scared me to get realize was how much of an opportunity that would provide us to have these great conversations so we get to the part in the back where the Kingwood men and the scarecrow are debating about what's more important, either a brain or a heart and so I stopped reading and I look at my girls and say okay what you think is more important. A brain or heart is my firstborn go-getter daughter even thinking that course you need to learn how we love God and how how would you know debating when we keep going and we read about lion who needs courage. We realize any of these things overwrite another way to nurture our intellect as a gift from God. We need to nurture our ability to have others which is a gift from God.
We need to have the courage to face our fears, which is also a gift from God. Now that I would had that conversation with my five and seven-year-old at the dinner table.
If I didn't have the story to lead and one thing is true.
I mean, for the parents that might be feeling. We don't want to share that kind of story doesn't have direct connection to the Scripture. Something like that you can really find virtues virtue from the Lord.
You can find the right things to lift up this is what God is trying to connect here for us that when things I sell will not about stories is that the truth is the truth of God street is everywhere, whether or not the author of the book realizes it or this story overtly pointing out the truth is still the truth is, you can search for. You can search for God's hand in story at the end here. I want to get some recommendations age-appropriate recommendation for this is kind of like plugged in our movie review with you for books for appropriate ages. So 03. What books would you read aloud to these kids you want to look for books that have our repetitive theater, three live repetition and another thing to keep in mind is, it is sometimes preferable to have just a few favorite books at that age, then, is to have a huge stack of never-ending sell one of the books I really love for 0 to 3 is anything by Sandra Boynton is really find the going to bed. Bucket the giant Gymboree is a fantastic book by Helen Ikenberry and Julia Donaldson.
It it's newer baseline those books. I'm pretty sure you want a book that has not very much talks but invites are there to three-year-old into a story. The biggest thing we want to remember for 0 to 3 is that we want them to connect books with warm family memories so it's not that important if you're not reading everything above in every single page.
It's important that your child learns that books the light that's good for 747 that's really find there are a gazillion pictures like that are so wonderful my fairy favorites are this Dragon on a books by Tommy DiPaola, Tommy Cappelli has written what an artist just amazing right art where you can you know it's his before he see his name so iconic. Also, Chris Sandy's and has written some really funny rhyming picture about my favorites is the circus ship and his artwork really adds to the stories that you feel like you can read the book, you can start this pictures a little longer than necessary.
The most important thing with 47 just to remember that teaching our kids to read for themselves is not actually more important than continuing to read aloud, we don't want to value teaching and the skill of reading over continuing to want to think this is not a reading example but one things we would do the dinner table when our boys are young we did rhyming games give me all the work you come up with time. Quite a few times. Great work, but then also we would put sentences together with each start story. Once upon a time there was a bear to the next person and we go around the table and create our own story that's confronted that's really fun and it ties stories to delight and write humor and enjoyment. We had so much fun and laughter of the whole bit 0347 William postage on the websites of the driving.
I don't have to worry about writing it down 8 to 12. What would you recommend secretly or not really my favorite age group to read aloud why whether they exhibit that you like the stories written for 8 to 12-year-olds are some of the most hand that the kind of books and a lot of us will look back on when we think, what turned story safety most of the chapter oftentimes books in this age group pointed this age group and it's also the age when most of us stop reading targets because everything on their own inflection point.
The really important time to continue reading some of my absolute favorites are those written by EB White which we know of starlets Brad and Stuart Little my very favorite and his is the trumpet of the Swan. Probably one of the most influential children's book writers of his time firmly all the softballs here comes the fastball teens with these guys that are you reading by themselves in writing a lot of homework how we keep them engaged with pleasure reading. Okay the first thing is you can't just stick your team down and start like you made them into a project which no teen is going to respond well to write a really good basic again go back to is audiobooks pop in the car, something like the language the word or the Hobbit or the Fellowship of the Ring something where you are. Your team will have a hard time not listening getting wrapped up in it, but they don't feel like it seemed like a family experience. One of the things I have found with reading with my teens to be just amazing is that these stories offer as a way to talk about things that are happening in our culture in the world in the news in a way that feels safe and comfortable to talk about and opens up like a gateway to some really good conversations we can talk about these things that feel very relevant. Hard to talk about. Maybe this topic. I don't really want to bring up but I know that we should talk about stories oftentimes lend themselves well to this conversation. Take your advice sir. This is been so much fun. And what a wonderful reminder of reading aloud to children the importance of it and the benefits which are there, it's been terrific having you with us like so much.
Thank you so much for having me some really great ideas to rich enforced extended time at home with your children and I think you'd agree that there's a lot of creativity and what's her head sure there are some other screen free ways to keep your kids occupied that we want to make you aware of Focus on the Family is extending the free trial membership to our adventures in Odyssey club. It's now a 30 day membership no credit card required were very excited that over 66,000 people have signed up just in the past couple weeks and with the membership. You can stream every episode over 800 of them of this popular children's radio drama and find some special bonus content as well learn more about that answer is great book to read aloud family when you're at our website. If you can please make a donation to this ministry, as we continue working to encourage your family during stressful times and if you can make a donation today will send a copy of the read aloud family is our way of saying thank you joint adventures in Odyssey club get serious book and find other great resources for your family.
All links in the episode show notes or call 800 K word on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we once more help you and Your Family Dr. in Christ