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Unsung Hero: How Our Mother Made a Difference

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
April 22, 2024 7:42 am

Unsung Hero: How Our Mother Made a Difference

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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I pray that this film encourages marriages that are struggling.

They see a struggle and they see a couple coming together in struggle. I pray that it encourages families to band together. Well, today our guests on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly are three siblings who've had very successful Christian music careers. Rebecca St. James has had a long solo career and she's now a co-host of a new Focus on the Family podcast called Practice Makes Parent. Her brothers Luke and Joel Smallbone have enjoyed great success as the group for King and Country and together they're going to be sharing with us today their family's incredible story of moving from Australia to the U.S. Your host is Focus President Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us. John, great job introducing our guests. They have a great movie coming out. I saw it at a retreat that we did with Focus on the Family. Their mom and dad were up at that retreat and it was great to get the inside scoop on the kids so I've got laundry.

I've got dirty laundry on everybody. Did they tell you which was their favorite? Of course it was Rebecca. Yes, she is number one as you told me off air. She is number one.

Well, she's the first born. They need that reinforcement but we're looking forward to a great conversation. That movie is going to come out April 26th, Unsung Hero. You need to go see it. If this were a movie Focus on the Family was going to make, it would be the one because it's such an uplifting movie about family and we're going to talk about it today. We are and we have a lot of details for you on our website. We've got the trailer. We've got resources for your family. Our big message is this is a terrific film and April 26th is actually being dubbed Focus on the Family Day.

Now I'm not sure who's dubbing it but it's a big deal so learn more in the show notes. We've got all the details there for you. Rebecca, Joe, Luke, welcome to the program. Thank you.

Thanks for having us, man. I'm looking forward to this. I did talk to your mom and dad extensively.

I took very copious notes. There will be a big reveal at the end here. Got some questions? You said something that really embarrassed your dad.

No, you can believe most of what they said. First of all, let me just thank you, Rebecca, for joining Dr. Danny Huerta and our parenting podcast. Are you enjoying that? It's such a joy because this is my space.

My husband and I have a 10-year-old, a 5-year-old, and a 3-year-old. So, I mean, I've got this expert, this doctor in counseling and family. Yeah, you're living the dream. And I get to ask him questions and experts questions every week and it really is impairing my parenting. So I love it.

It's just a special space. We're going to throw so much stuff at people listening and viewing today on YouTube because one of the great things we've just done is to create age and stage content and people can go and sign up for that. And what's great is we age your records so we know how old your kids are next year and five years from now so we can send you content for that age and stage of your life. And that's kind of what you're experiencing being that co-host.

So people need to dial into that. You'll get details. All the details are at the website. How old were the three of you when your mom and dad decided to move to the U.S.? Fourteen, seven, five. Is that right? Seven.

Fourteen, seven, five. Okay, so what were your feelings? I mean, so many of us in the U.S. were very transient with jobs. You know, you moved from California to Colorado or wherever. What was it like being a child of your age at that time leaving your country and coming to the U.S.? I mean, I remember it so well.

We were saying goodbye to school friends and saying we were moving to America for two years. We're now, what, 30 some years? Yeah, 30 years. 30 years. Yeah, so initially just two years. In the film, that was your mom's kind of putting the line down, right? Let's do this for two years.

Yeah, we'll try it out, see how it goes. But my friends were so jealous because they were like, oh, you're going to the country of Disneyland. That's all they could think of is Disneyland. It is true. One facet of the U.S., but it was a grand adventure. It really was. And I mean, so much of the movie Unsung Hero is so true. Like there's a there's a scene where, you know, and Joel directed and starred in it.

So he did some really heavy lifting on this. And Luke produced and was super involved, too. My husband was. I have a cameo in it. It seems like a family affair. Cubby was second unit director.

OK. Rebecca's husband. Yeah, that's awesome. And you played your dad.

True story. Yeah, we'll come back to that in a minute. Yeah. So anyway, in that regard, we'll get into the movie and unfold that. But first, I want to talk about you playing your dad. Was that a little weird?

The short answer is yes. I mean, I've said this in front of him, but we've dubbed it a very expensive therapy session. Well, now we're getting to it. Now we're getting to it. But think about it in all seriousness.

What do you do when when you have these experiences and you need to sort of go back and relive them even on behalf of someone you love? So I in the past, I feel like I've been pretty lazy with our parents story because while Rebecca was 14 when we moved, like we just said, I was seven. Luke was five. It was just this adventure. We didn't we weren't leaving school.

We weren't leaving. You know, we weren't teenagers. And so I always saw this movie, Luke, similarly from a childlike perspective. But then when you go and you start rewrite as I'm a I'm roughly dad's age when he moved. And so you start looking at it from adult back.

Yeah. And all of a sudden you're not as lazy with his story anymore. You go, oh, my goodness, six kids, one on the way moved his wife over here.

No insurance loses his job, no car, no furniture, no way to get home, you know, and you just got like you start feeling yourself. So the the amount of empathy that it gave for him, like there is a there is a stake in the ground for me in our relationship. That was that production of unsung hero.

And I don't think I'll ever look at our journey or him in the same light. Yeah, no, it's and it comes out in the film. The film is so well done.

And I mean, it is a pro family film with all of its kind of quirks and turns. And but there was a lot of tension going on in the family with the move because you came over, as you said, your dad didn't have the job. He anticipated he was going to have the promises evaporated.

And he's got six kids, one on the way, no money coming in. I think one of the things that really struck me as awesome was the way people rallied around you. Made me feel kind of proud to be an American, actually, that there are good people here.

You found that in Nashville. Describe some of that, what those people did to help you guys as a family. I mean, man, we had, you know, just to give a little bit of context, Joel did a little bit. But, yeah, Dad brought a tour over to Australia.

It didn't go very well. We lost everything, right? Lost the house, lost the car, lost the life savings. And he gets a job offer to come to Nashville, Tennessee. He thinks it's a good idea to move his six kids. His wife is six months pregnant. And we come to America, we land, my dad loses that job, all right? So as you kind of described, we're in a state, right?

We're in a load of hurt. We were sleeping on beds made out of clothes. We didn't have any way for our little sister to be born in a hospital.

Didn't have a car. I wasn't always quite sure where the next meal was going to come from. And one of the things that was cool about just being a child in that process was we literally didn't know what else to do, other than just gather around in our furniture-less living room and just start praying for these essential things.

And you always hear in families, like if you want your family to follow in the footsteps of what you believe in following Jesus, there needs to be evidence of what that faith looks like in your family. And so for us, we would go around and we'd be like, God, need rent, and then to pay for rent. And all of a sudden, you would see rent show up. The local church would come and they would write us a check to cover our rent. We'd have new neighbors that we didn't even know. They would come and drop groceries on our doorstep. That became dear, dear, dear friends. The first Thanksgiving that we were here, someone gave us a car. And let me tell you, if you want foreigners to fall in love with Thanksgiving, just give them a car. They'll do that.

I'll make a note to myself. That's right. So we saw all these extraordinary things take place. And you're absolutely right. It was the local community that loved on us in a way that if it wasn't for the local community, the local church, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Well, it's interesting because that is what the church is supposed to be. And so often we're not stepping up in that way. And that's what the movie, again, inspires you to think of who's around you.

You know, who are the neighbors around you and who can you help? Well, I'd even take that a step further, Jim, and say I think the lens that we look at life through is family. Because what you don't see in the film and you might need to stop the podcast if we're spoiling too much for you. But what you don't see in the film is that you see the breadcrumbs of what we're all doing today. You know, raking leaves, mowing lawns, banding together, figuring out how to, as siblings, partner with each other. What you don't see is when you fast forward the better part of 30 years, A, us three sitting here now. But you see our youngest brother, General Managing, our oldest brother doing lighting and our brother Ben doing film work. And, you know, our little sister Libby designing our crest and our dad. Like you see our mum being the glue. You see us all continuing to live out through music and through the arts. But what it looks like to be a family, not always a functional one, but a family nonetheless that stays together.

I haven't met that perfect family yet, so this is awesome. I don't think it exists. Yeah, I didn't think so.

That's not the goal. But I so appreciate what you're saying and certainly it was modeled for you in that moment. You know, one thing that we want to mention, people can go to the website. One thing in the film that really caught me, just as an interesting thing, was the board I think your mum put up. The please and thank you board.

Please, Lord, could you answer this? Kind of what you were saying earlier about rent money or whatever it was. And then the thank you. That is a brilliant way to teach your kids your need and your thanksgiving to God for meeting that need. Well, I think what was so impressive about mum and dad that just blows my mind now is how honest and vulnerable and therefore courageous they were.

In sharing with us how down to the wire we were. I mean, to admit to your kids we've got dollars to our name, this is really challenging and we need to pray. That's very humbling for parents. But they were prepared to talk about the need because we could go to God together and we could come through this time together. And so I think there's a real power in that vulnerability and I look back now as a parent and go I don't know how they did what they did.

Because the responsibility as a parent is so intense and you do feel fear. But God gave us a story. He gave us something to share. And I pray that this film encourages marriages that are struggling. They see a struggle and they see a couple coming together in struggle. I pray that it encourages families to band together, that it encourages faith that is struggling and lifts people up to where they can stand firm in their faith and be encouraged. You know, hidden within the word encourage is the word courage. And I pray that this film just lifts people up in courage, in faith and in family life.

That's good. That's Rebecca St. James talking about the movie produced by her brother Joel Smallbone and his brother Luke as well. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. We're highlighting that film because it is such a pro-family movie. It comes out this Friday. It's all about everything we're all about here at Focus on the Family. So yeah, check the trailer, check resources and plan now to see the movie Unsung Hero. And all the details are in the show notes or give us a call. 800, the letter A in the word family.

I'm going to get to you guys, but I do want to ask one more question about Rebecca. So you're 14 in the film. You get signed by Forefront at 15? Yeah, 15. 15 years old. You're in this, you know, what most would see is poverty situation with your parents not having a job, raking leaves. You get signed. The weight of that for you, what did that feel like as a 15 year old to feel like, okay, you got a check.

Nobody else is getting a check within the family. That had to be a bit of a weight. I think I was pretty tuned out to a lot of it. You know, dad was managing me. And so a lot of the money business side, I just handed that off. I didn't want to get distracted by that. I had given my gifts to God and said, I want you to use my life, Lord.

So, so lead me. So music was ministry to me. That was the reason I was doing it. So I really stayed out of the rest of it. I think at the time, I don't think I realized the way of being so young and doing music.

You know, I was 13 when I did my first tour, signed at 15 full time at 16. I remember very well just praying before everything, every songwriting session, every book that we began, you know, every part of every singing session show, because I knew my inadequacy. And that's been the through line, Jim. Honestly, I've known my inadequacy the whole time. And whether it's practice, make pain. Oh, thank you. But prayer is the lifeline for me. Humility that comes through. Because again, the other part of that being, you know, an artist at that age, it can mess with you. Yeah.

Christian, non-Christian. And we all know people that that kind of stardom really takes the real life out of people. I mean, the spiritual life out of people replaces it with materialism and, you know, kind of the things that aren't good. But you were able to hold on to who you are, which I think is remarkable.

Well, thank you. I mean, not not perfectly, but I think having my family, honestly, and my character says that at some point. She's like, if we can do this as a family, honoring God together, then I want to do this. And that's so true, because having the family to come back to you after, you know, doing a song at the Dove Awards at 16, you know, and doing all these things that I was doing, traveling the world and shows and a lot of pressure, doing it as a family. We were a team. We shared pressure.

And that helped me keep my sanity, honestly. And yet, here she, well, I was gonna say stands, but sits. Still faithful, still serving, still standing, allowing her brothers not only to step on the stage. When we first started as a band, we were her background vocalist. Joel was 12 when he started singing with me.

We have a picture of him being just so young. We cut our teeth literally watching her. So for King Country is a legacy band of her. And then also trusting us to tell, really, it's mom's story, but it's also Rebecca's story. This film is very much Rebecca's story.

And to tell it in a way that, you know, it wasn't an easy story for her to tell in some ways, or to trust, you know, with. But the beauty of that now, and even being able to verbalize this, it's pretty profound. Can I speak to one moment in the film that gets me every time? It's where Joel, as my dad, playing my dad, is speaking to my young self, my 16-year-old self.

And it's a very tense scene, and there's, you know, it's probably one of the more kind of stressful scenes in the movie. But he says, you know, in bringing it around full circle and resolving things, he resolves this very tense situation and conversation with an apology to me. And with just kindness and saying, I see you and I believe in you. And I just see Joel's heart for me. Like, we have a strong sibling relationship. We're a close family. And I just see love for me and respect for me and a very genuineness in his eyes playing on that camera, where he, my brother, is speaking through this role of my dad to my grown-up self and saying, I believe in you. And I lose it every time.

I mean, it's really powerful. Was that a fair depiction in the film of you and your dad kind of going at that moment? Definitely not at that time.

No, no. Dad was much more, like, gentle with my heart. I think the film depicts Dad, what he was feeling on the inside, externally. Because he was containing some of that. He was containing a lot of it.

And it really was that idea that, you know, he wasn't thinking of you as being a musician. And you were trying. You were blossoming. You were budding.

Offering myself, yeah. And in the film, they did a good job depicting that moment where he says, okay, you know, I believe in you. And I think he was trying to be a protective dad, too, knowing that the music industry can pick, chew people up and spit them out.

And he didn't want that to happen. But the reality is, in you doing the podcast with Danny now, I mean, for a father to speak those words, I don't care if you're a musical family, a non-musical family, when a dad speaks that kind of blessing over his child. It's powerful. And if it's not there, it's also powerful in a bad way.

And I would even say this. You know, I've always said that our family is a functionally dysfunctional family. We just fight really hard for the first word, functional, you know. Because all families are dysfunctional. But I think if you can teach your kids, and this is actually really to us parents, if you can model forgiveness to your kids, you become a fortified family.

You can go through things. Because, man, at the end of the day, like, trouble awaits for all of us, right? Relationships, whether or not you're in business, you're in work, you're in family, like, you're going to hurt people.

But when you model forgiveness and when you teach people forgiveness, and I think that's what you're talking about in that scene, there was an apology, you become super powerful. Because if you can go through – relationships are always looking backwards, I think. But when you overcome struggle and you forgive, it actually breeds intimacy. It brings a closer relationship. And that intimacy can be in friendships. That can be in marriage, but that can be between father and son, mother, daughter, and vice versa.

And that's super, super powerful. It's one of my favorite scenes. Because if we as parents can teach and model forgiveness between us as spouses, and our kids pick up on that, sky's the limit for these children.

I so agree. You know, the other element there that you pick up in the film, and it's who you are in your real life. And it's just that – I think that humility to know that relationship matters. You know, so often people contact us here at Focus on the Family, because they've lost that relationship with their teen or their adult child. And when you get into it, you made behavior more important than heart.

And, you know, I get it. We all as parents want our kids to behave well, and that's a good outcome. But what's more critical is the heart, to have your child's heart. And your mom and dad, that's one of the great blessings of watching the film and knowing you guys personally. What a great job they did in developing your heart, so that you make not always perfect decisions, but you make solid, good decisions for one another.

Look at the way you're talking about each other. I think they really made space for conversation, always. You know, whether it was in the car, family conversations about deep things.

Open and honest. Yeah, or folding, washing, or doing chores together around the home. I think mom and dad, especially mom, was always available. And I found a picture, Luke, I think it's of you sitting on mom and dad's bed with mom folding, washing. It would have been while we were on the road. This was last year, actually.

Ouch, it was then, but no, a long time ago. Luke was probably an early teenager, and you're just sitting there talking to mom. I should send you that picture, but it's really powerful, because she was available in the craziness of having seven kids, road life, the crazy adventure that we were living, for conversation about the deeper things of life.

And if we, as parents, can be available for that, wow. I said this off air, but our mother, and I'm so glad that this film is really centered around her character, because my mom did all of the unseen things really, really well. My mom was not a perfect mother. There was many a times where she got frustrated and all these other things, but for the big- Seven kids.

That's right. But for the big moments, she knew when I needed her. And she was always taking very real side-by-side conversations, life things, and applying and teaching. And she taught me right from wrong. She taught me forgiveness.

She taught me fear of God. And for that, I think we're different. Well, I'm hearing that from all of you, and that's what makes the movie so special. I think, right here at the end, considering how your family has honored God through so much adversity, and then you think of these experiences and how they shaped your lives today and who you are today, and being successful.

I mean, everybody is going to look at you guys and go, wow, they are a real talented and successful family. How do you relate that to how God created you? Are you in the groove? Are you living your full life? Are there still things you want to do?

Or what's happening in your relationship with God now? What a good question. I mean, you're kind of at the top of the mountain. There is a- Yeah, it's a scary place to be. It doesn't feel like that. You get blown off. Yeah, it's a long way down.

Yeah. Well, I will say, just in a call for prayer, I would, you know, if you're listening to this, obviously, we would ask you to believe in the film, and if you feel moved, and I think you'll be entertained by it. I think you'll be encouraged by it.

But even more so, I just- one thing you can do, even if you can't show up in the theaters, is pray. We have faced a level of warfare in the last few months. I've not been acquainted with- Boy, that's really interesting. All of us. In my life. And it's kind of, yeah, it's across the board.

Family-wide. And I think part of it's growing pains. I think part of it is, there's a, you know, there's a very real battle going, an unseen battle going on. I think that pushes us, obviously, even on the mountaintop, if you will, that pushes us to lean not on our own understanding. That pushes us- has pushed us into each other.

It's actually pushed us to purge things out that, you know, there's something about having a D-day of a date that's like, hey, you've got to get your house in order because, you know, this thing's coming. And then at the same time, Jim, John, what we've also seen is, man, just the goodness of God. Like, this is a story of miracles on screen.

But man, we could do a whole other podcast of miracles behind the screen. You know, it is a great film. We had the privilege of seeing it. And I think right there at the end, the way it portrays your mom, particularly- I'm a mom hero. My mom was my hero through a lot of, you know, instability. And my mom made the difference.

And I think- I think the film, love for your dad, creative guy and out there doing it. But mom seemed to be the rock. She held us together for sure.

And that's great. So many moms feel like they're unseen, an unsung hero. Well, and you know, this film is coming out right before Mother's Day. And so I think it is this moment in time for people listening to honor moms. Like, bring your mom to this film.

Oh, yeah. Like, honor her, thank her for what she does. It is a thankless task, I think, for a lot of moms to be momming. Being the only mom at the table.

I'll let you say that. So I just think, thank your mom. You know, like, make it a moment in time if you do go see the film, or even if you don't, to just bless your mom.

And say, all those times where you felt unseen, just know that you're a hero in my life. You've sewn into my life, and I'm thankful. Yeah. Joel, a last thought that the pressure that you're feeling in the last few months spiritually, you know, just the- a priest once said to me, you have to realize the battle you're in fighting for marriage is that Satan gets up every day and every marriage is a stench in his nostrils. Because it's the very image of God on earth. Oh, wow.

That he created the male and female, put his image into humanity, and that the two shall become one flesh. And every day, Satan is trying to destroy that union because of what it represents. Wow. There's a different way to look at it.

Yeah. Well, listen, you guys, thank you for being here with us. And we're looking forward to seeing it again.

Aw, thanks. We got the preview, but we're going to go out this Friday, April 26th, and take as many people as possible to see the film. It's a great film.

It is not a B-roll film. And I was really grateful for that. You guys did a great job. Didn't know you had that acting in you now.

He sure does. Hey, in all seriousness, on behalf of the three of us, you know, primarily musicians, it's one thing to listen to a three and a half minute song on your way to work. It's a whole other thing to sit down for an hour and 40 minutes and watch a film. So thank you for- just thank you for taking the time. And I love your byline in the film poster.

What was it on that? Yes. Let's grab that. Families not in the way, they are the way.

You guys proved that. And much to your mom and dad's credit, the family is the way. I think that's the nation's rally. We were going to just call the byline, focus on the family, but then we thought, ah! We should- That's where we take it.

Yeah, we wouldn't let you use it for the film. It's perfect. There's so much symmetry to there. Thanks again for being here and talking with us. Thank you. Thank you guys so much. Thank you. Appreciate it. Again, April 26th, this Friday, you can go to the theater and check your local listings.

I've always wanted to say that, John. Check your local listings for a theater near you. I'll do that. And we have a lot of resources online. Check our local website or focus on the family website. Our local website. We've got the trailer there. We've got a link over to Rebecca's podcast that she does with Dr. Danny Huerta, Practice Makes Parent.

We've got the please and thank you prayer download as a reminder for your family to start asking God for his help and then thanking him when he answers those prayers. All sorts of resources that tie into the film in various moments. We've talked about some of the tension points. There's a struggle with work. There's a struggle in the marriage because of the lack of work.

There's a struggle amongst the kids. We want to be there for you as a ministry. We've got so many resources. So the starting point is our website.

Check the program description for all the details. If you're in a point of need and want to give us a call, we have caring Christian counselors here. We can walk you through whatever you're going through.

We've been around for 47 years and we're here to help. 800, the letter A and the word family. Come out April 26th. We've dubbed it Family Day, but we'll make the whole weekend Family Day. Even better, we'll make the whole weekend focus on the family day. It fits.

The film, it fits. Thank you. That's a great promotion. We love that. I hope you love the movie when you see it Friday.

Again, it's called Unsung Hero. Be sure to check it out. Watch it with your family. Pick your mom as was suggested by Rebecca and thank you for joining us today for Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. It can be challenging to inspire your community to see life the way God sees it.

So what's the solution? Well on June 15th, Focus on the Family is hosting See Life 24 and no matter where you are or who you are, you can be a part of this free event with speakers like Ben and Kirsten Watson and real stories about choosing life. See Life 24 will inspire you to translate your faith into action. Register today at
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-22 08:07:01 / 2024-04-22 08:20:16 / 13

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