by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
Krista Smith knows first-hand the pain that divorce wreaks on those involved, especially children, so she decided to do something about it.
Smith, currently 10 years into her second marriage, with a blended family of four kids, has written a curriculum called “The Big D — Divorce Thru the Eyes of a Teen” that she reports is being used in over 200 churches in the U.S., Canada and South Africa.
She also created a board game called “The Slippery Slope: The Grief Cycle of Divorce” designed to help children, teens, and adults (there are versions for each) through the healing process.
“The Big D” and “The Slippery Slope” are both available at Bread of Life bookstore in Elk River, which will host a session to meet Smith on Saturday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Back in 1994, my life turned upside down when I experienced my own divorce,” said Smith. “My dreams were shattered and I started a long journey of healing. There is a lot of pain and loss, and the changes and adjustments are tough, especially on kids.
“As a mom, it was crucial to me that my own kids got the help they needed to give them the tools to live healthy lives and experience love that lasts a lifetime.”
“The Big D” and “Slippery Slope” both came from that passion and journey with her kids. To the best of her knowledge, this is the only curriculum available to help teens with their parents’ separation or divorce.
Smith, 46, who lives in Big Lake, has been Care Ministries Director at River of Life church in Elk River for the past 11 years.
Krista and her husband Jon founded Sonset Point Ministries in 2008 to help people heal from “the pain of loss and brokeness,” according to their web site (sonsetpointministries.com) mission statement. Her curriculum and game board are available there and the former is available on Amazon.com.
“We have experienced this painful journey and have discovered grace, peace and happiness again,” the statement continues. “When dreams are shattered, many choose to find wholeness through many worldly alternatives. Our passion is the share God’s perfect plan for healing for all members of the family.”
“The Big D” was written in 2007 and published last year by American Family Press.
“The curriculum is incredibly insightful, having been through this myself as a kid,” said Mike Metkowski, Student Ministries pastor at River of Life Church of Elk River. “There are so many basic things that kids can take home and apply to themselves. For instance, it talks about barriers. One kid last year was very angry toward on parent in particular. She was able to get over her anger and forgive that parent and starting talking to that parent again.”
“We find that kids stop defining themselves by what’s happened with their parents and start concentrating on their own futures,” said Robyn Besemann, who directs a ingle Parent Ministry at a church in Eugene, Ore. “She provides some phenomenal tools. The kids’ schoolwork gets better and their parents can’t believe how much more the kids are talking to them.”
The board game, created a year ago, has sold about 40 copies so far, she said. She is working on plans for marketing it with local bookstores, mass mailings, magazine ads, and at two conferences where she speaks and has a booth, Association of Marriage and Family Ministry, and American Association of Christian Counseling.
The board game’s 10-and-under version has frogs moving around a pond and the teen version has cars moving around a rollercoaster.
In each version of the game the players are taken through emotions of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, forgiveness, and acceptance. Dice are rolled and you get either a “feelings” card asking how a situation would make your feel, or an “action” card asking how would you handle a situation, or a “grace” card which the player can save to be excused from answering something too painful.