Again, I'm not saying that there aren't tough issues. There are tough issues today, and we have to face that fact. But in the midst of it, isn't there a chance that we could just dance a little or sing a little?
Yeah. Make it better. Well, that's Jim Burns offering a word of encouragement about the importance of having some fun in life to reflect that joy that you have in Christ. And we're going to help you slow down and improve your connection with God and others today on Focus on the Family. Thanks for joining us. I'm John Fuller and your host is Focus President and author, Jim Daly. That's a pretty big promise, John. It is. I'm going to help you slow down and improve your relationship with the Lord.
I'd sign up for that. Well, here we are. Hey, you know, one thing is true. Sometimes we get so busy that we're into the doing and we forget about just really living. And I think the Lord's created this life for enjoyment too, not just the tasks of life. You know, we we need to enjoy ourselves while we're here. We get one shot at life.
Right. And then we're moving on to eternity. And, you know, like the psalmist says, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. And I am so looking forward to our discussion today because I think you're right, John. We're going to come away with a heart of wisdom.
Yeah. And I need the refreshment, Jim. Just the other weekend, it was Sunday afternoon and I was thinking, what a great Saturday this has been. I'm so glad we have tomorrow, Sunday together. And we didn't because I had spent the whole weekend so busy.
So I really do hope we can slow down. Enjoy Jim Burns. He's the president of Homeward. He's written a number of books, including the one that will form the foundation for today's conversation, Have Serious Fun and 12 Other Principles to Make Each Day Count.
And of course, you can get a copy of the book from us here. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word family. We're stopped by the show notes for the link. Jim, welcome to Focus on the Family. It is so good to be with you.
And it's been a while. I just love being with you and I love what Focus does. So great to be with you. You know, the title of your book, I'm thinking about that because I heard of somebody who sits on the edge of their bed every morning, says, OK, Lord, here I am reporting for duty. And, you know, I thought, well, that's a great way to start the day. But, you know, ending the day and thinking, OK, did today count for you, Lord? What a great thing to think about, really. Well, it is a great thing to think about. And the fact is, is that sometimes at night, it's better to say, Lord, you know, what did we do today? And I'm always amazed sometimes at night when I say that I'm amazed at what comes up. And maybe it's a conversation, just a quick conversation, or maybe it was a bit of fun that I had. And it's not anything big and grandiose. Sometimes it's the little things that make the big differences.
I would say most of the time it's the little things because the big things come along every so often. Right. Yeah, that's good. Hey, listen, our children, I know you know this, have a way of causing us to do some self-examination. Isn't that true? And I think your daughter, Heidi, caused you to question if you were having enough fun in your life. What a great thing for your kid to ask you.
Are you having enough fun in your life? Well, she sort of said that. It was she implied it. Was that after you reprimanded her for something? Oh, I was reprimanding her all the time at that age.
I think she was 16. So, you know, that was just one big reprimand. Hey, Dad, you're not having enough fun in your life like me. Yeah, but you know what happened on that was Kathy and I were doing bills. I never liked doing bills.
If I have money or not money, I don't like doing bills. Kathy and I are just looking at each other and we're frustrated. And all of a sudden Miss Heidi comes bounding in and she's kind of bouncing. And she had just been babysitting our friend Scott and Anita and their kids. And she said, Scott and Anita are the best parents. They are the most fun people. Their kids are the best. Their dog's the best.
You know, they're amazing. But they told me something that I never knew. You were their youth pastor, Dad. And when you were their youth pastor, they said that you and Mom were fun and funny. And then she just stopped.
She didn't say what happened. It was more or less just like you were fun and funny. Yeah. Are you the same people?
We sort of looked at each other on several levels. The next day I realized, you know what, I need to be a person who has more fun in life. Not that I wasn't fun at times, but literally, you know, the Bible even talks about this. You know, a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit, it zaps your life. Yes.
And that's a modern version. But the truth of the matter is, you know, too many times we focus on the negative and we focus on the pressure and the work and we don't stop and have fun. And sometimes we just simply need to hold back and say, wait, let's play together.
When I got my Ph.D., I was doing my dissertation on traits of a healthy family. And one of the traits was play. Yeah. And play builds memories. Play sometimes opens up a closed spirit in a family.
And so I believe that when you pray together, you stay together. But I also believe that when you play together, I think you have to be intentional about that, even during the tough times. Yeah, I know. I agree.
You know, I look at you and the times I've known you for 20 years and I've always seen you as a rather playful, fun person. So, yeah, but at home. Yeah. But then I have to pay the bills. Exactly. So I was paying the bills.
No. And you know what? I am more of that person. And Kathy and I have tried to be like that. And yet at the same time, what we found was that was one of the phrases that I wanted to teach my kids later on is have serious fun. So I think that I think there's some phrases in my life that I wanted to start passing on. And, you know, I'm at an age now where I'm starting to think about legacy, and that's a phrase that I want to teach my children.
And I want others to say, no, you have to be intentional about having fun. And I love that. But, you know, there are serious things that happen in life. I know you received a cancer diagnosis a few years ago. You had surgery and I believe everything's cleared up.
How did facing that diagnosis change your perspective? Well, I was facing the potential of death. I mean, you can take an aspirin. You change when that happens.
Exactly. I mean, you can take an aspirin if that happens. But the doctor said, come this afternoon, bring your wife.
That's never good news. And I ended up being at the City of Hope, where, you know, well, in Los Angeles, you know, right near where you would have lived at one time. And I was there in the night before surgery. I woke up in the middle of night and I wrote down 13 phrases that I wanted to pass to my kids. I never thought about writing a book and I never thought about speaking on it. I just thought, what are the phrases that have helped me? I wasn't raised in a Christian home. I was raised in a dysfunctional family. And Kathy and I, at that point, had been married 37 years.
It's now 47 years. But, you know, we'd been married a long time and we were going to make it. But what were those phrases? And so have serious fun was kind of at the top.
I wanted my kids to have serious fun, but there were other phrases that were important, too. And it was when I was facing, you know, death. Now, I don't think I thought I was going to die.
My mother-in-law did. She said to Kathy, you know, you and Jim have had a great life. You've been married for a long time.
Playing for the future? Right. So if Jim dies, you can still get married to somebody else and have a good life.
I mean, you've got to love the mother-in-law, right? But for me, I thought, no, these are important things. And so facing my mortality, I came up with some thoughts that I had kind of been living by, that I wanted to at least get to my kids and grandkids.
The Bible talks about generation to generation. I thought, you know what? This is my legacy.
I'm going to hand this to them. What were those? I mean, you journaled them if I read the book correctly. So you journaled those and you talked to, actually, you spoke to an audience, if I remember. Yeah, what happened was I had told somebody about it, and I ended up speaking to about two thousand pastors. And when I was done with the talk, which was just me telling my story, they came back on and said, you know, we're going to not take the next workshop for a minute, but we're going to just do Q&A, because these pastors apparently identified with what I was talking about, some of these principles. And once the principles came out, people just wanted me to speak on it more and more and more. And so it became kind of what I would call my life message. And my life message wasn't just have serious fun, but it was these phrases that have been so meaningful to me. And I've interacted with them and I think they're scriptural and I think they've been what's helped me get to where I am, not that I sure am the perfect one. And we'll uncover some of those as we go. But you do self-confess that you fell into that busy-ness trap.
How many people live there? I mean, I'm just coming off the road after like three weeks. So I've been a little tired, too. So it applies even when you have the knowledge of making sure you have some balance. Sometimes you're just out of whack and you can't control it that well. Speak to that realization for yourself that, man, I am in the busy trap. Well, I've had to make course corrections all my life. You know, you drift. And once you kind of drift, I would drift toward busy-ness and I would drift towards my work. And what I had to realize was family was more important than work for me. And yet I wasn't always living that way. And there were times when I was busy that I would have to come home and I'd be thinking to myself, am I only giving my wife, am I only giving my kids my emotional scraps? Let's be honest.
When I'm at work, I'm not giving people my emotional scraps as much. But I would come home and somebody said to me and it was actually prophetic. It was when I graduated from seminary.
So it's been a long time. But he said, hey, I've got this phrase for you. You didn't make it to the graduation. If the devil can't make you bad, he'll make you busy. That was prophetic for me because the devil wasn't going to put me in the arms of somebody of another woman or wasn't going to be able to do the embezzlement things or all that. But what he was going to do was get me so busy that I would miss the most important things. And I had to learn to say no to good things to say yes to the most important things, which is so good. That happened with me.
I mean, I was traveling so much at one point. I remember when my boys were younger and I did something called the dad's report card. So every time the kids got a report card every quarter, I did a dad's report card. Am I spending enough time with you was one of the seven elements that I had in my report card. I remember Troy, my youngest said, I think you have a C for that.
And I was like, wow, he was probably seventh grader. And I went, OK, so we need to change some things. I remember redoing my whole schedule for the next seven, eight years up till this summer.
You know, not traveling between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Now, not everybody has that flexibility. I get that. But find a way to get that grade corrected.
First of all, challenge your kids to give you the grade. Yeah. And actually, it's amazing when, you know, the best people who can give us that grade would be our kids and our spouse.
Yeah. And when we hear that, they're probably telling some truth, even though we may not feel it or we want to get defensive on it. And when we do that and what you did, you made a course correction when you made that course correction, Jim, that's changing the trajectory of your family and not even realizing it was a small course correction, but it changed the trajectory of your family when it created a value perspective for him. Because I remember a couple of years later, I had a really busy March and I apologized.
I'm sorry, I'm not home as much this month as I want to be said, oh, that's OK. Summer's right around the corner. So it gave him a mechanism to modulate his emotions. And he was busy in school and he knew summer was coming.
And that meant camping together and being together. And that's a good thing. You have a special notepad, I think, that sits on your desk. I've never been able to do that. I don't know.
Maybe it's my ADD nature. I don't know. But there alongside your desk, you have three big letters on it. It says AWE. So what is that?
A period, W period, E period. It's actually yellowed now. It's a post.
That's showing our age, but it's still there. Yeah, I wrote it a long time ago. And it stands for affection, warmth and encouragement. And what I wanted to do and I just wrote this one day. I mean, it was not some big thing, but I wrote it and I wanted to shower my wife and my kids with affection.
I wanted to shower them with warmth and I wanted to shower them with encouragement. And, you know, there's a study out of UCLA that says it takes eight to 10 meaningful touches a day for someone to thrive thinking about infection. But then I realized, wait, I can do that on a different level, too. I could do that with my wife. I could do that with my kids differently than I would do it at work. But I keep it on my desk for that reason that I want to show people affection.
You can do that with words. I want to show people warmth. My mom was like that. My dad was an alcoholic.
My mom was a really warm person. My friends would come by. Is Jim here?
No, he's playing basketball down at the gym. Well, can I come in and hang out with you? That's my mom. So she showed warmth. And so what I realized was that my circumstance might not change, but I could still show warmth to my family and to friends. And then encouragement, you know, is that great theologian Mark Twain who said, I can live, you know, two months on one good compliment. And what I realized was that I need to be the top cheerleader for my wife.
I need to be the top cheerleader for my kids. How do you do that, Jim, in a way that's sincere expressions of affection and emotion and that a boy, that a girl? Well, last week, Kathy and I were gone for a couple of days.
We were in a wonderful place called Cambria. And I decided I would take on just I just wrote 50 reasons why I was thankful for her. Yeah, that's good. I know.
I got some points on that, too. I'll just tell you guys I did. But I wrote that. And you know what?
It was at a time when I was kind of really maybe a little bugged because I wanted to stay, you know, four nights and she only wanted to stay three nights, you know, see what I'm saying. So I was a familiar conversation. And but I wrote that.
And you know what? It didn't change the circumstance, but it changed me. And so when I gave that to Kathy, I wasn't expecting anything in return. But I went, wow, this was really meaningful to her.
And I mean, honestly, I typed it out on my computer and I went to the place where we were staying and I said, can I, you know, can I print this? And I handed it to her. And as she looked at those, I could see that her face changed. And I really had a ministry to her. But you know what?
It was more important. I'd already done the ministry toward me by doing that. I was partly thinking, you know what? I need to practice some around here.
If we're going to be on this trip, let's practice some. And I think I think you do it intentionally. You speak to the listener, you know, where he or she is going through a tough time and it's difficult to laugh. Yeah, it's difficult to have a light spirit because there's hard things happening. And maybe the differentiator is the person that's always in that kind of gloomy mood definitely needs to reconsider that. But just having bad circumstances, sometimes it's hard to just pick yourself up. And I don't think you always just fake it till you make it type of thing. But the truth is, and I mention this in the book where I talk about your circumstance may not change, but your attitude can change.
But the way you get there, I'm going to tell you a story. Joni Erickson-Tada, who I love and I know you love her, and she's an amazing woman at 19. She became paralyzed and she's been confined to a wheelchair. What people don't know sometimes is she's lived with a huge amount of pain and a lot of difficulty. One day I was on the other side of the mic and I was interviewing her, I had a radio show.
You're the pro, I was like junior varsity. But I had Joni come in and she comes rolling in, I knew she'd had a particularly tough week. And I just put all my notes aside and I said, Joni, how do you manage? And she had a long pause.
Jon, you know that in radio this is not a good thing, right? Her pause was like 20 seconds. And then she looked up and she said, you know, Jim, the Bible says, give thanks in all things and in all circumstances, for this is the will of God. And then she said, and that's become my reflex reaction. And I said, Joni, tell me about the reflex reaction. Honestly, I had a tear. She must have just touched my soul. I had a tear coming down my cheek and I said, tell me about reflex reaction.
She says, well, I've just done it for so long that it's become my reflex reaction. And here was a woman who her circumstance didn't change, a lot of pain, a lot of issues in life. But she had chosen joy in the midst of tough circumstances. Did this mean that she was always going to have joy?
No, no. There were moments when she had to be in deep pain and was just trying to get by. But it was that reflex reaction. So what I'm saying is, just like we do in work or we do in other things, can we have reflex reactions that cause us joy in the midst of tough circumstances? And I think that's where people are successful. And you know what's important there is that she's choosing that direction. She's saying, I'm not going to be captive to my circumstance, although she's a quadriplegic. But in her heart, she's saying, I'm going to choose aspirationally to love the Lord, to thank him for what's happened and to keep moving forward. And she epitomizes that. She is an amazing person.
Right. And you know, today, this morning, I had a little time in the morning and I write down every morning, I do acts, adoration, confession, Thanksgiving, and supplication. I write in my little journal. And today I wrote down 20 reasons why I was thankful. I actually mentioned both of your names and I mentioned Focus on the Family. You don't get mentioned every day. I just want you to know that right now.
I'm going to buy your lunch. But I wrote those downs and none of my circumstances changed, but it actually improved my attitude. It was practicing thank therapy. Well, that's what people do over and over again. Do that today. Repeat it tomorrow. Do it for the next 60 years. Some of your circumstances may not change, but your attitude is going to change for the better. And that's what I wanted to get across to my children, especially, you know, when I started writing down some of the phrases that were helping me. Well, and I think we can be easily agitated in the modern culture because of, again, social media and other access to information.
And we just stay agitated all the time. The person that cuts you off on the road, which happened to me yesterday, I decide, you know, what am I going to do? If it was me, I'm sorry.
Yeah, no, it wasn't you. Listen, you have a quote by Vivian Green. I don't know if you know it off the top of your head, but I'll read it. And because I loved it, my heart really resonated with this.
She said, Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain. Man, I so associate and affiliate with that. I look up at that poster.
It's a poster that I have, you know, that I frame. It's very important. Learn to dance in the rain.
Learn to dance in the rain. And again, I'm not saying that there aren't tough issues. There are tough issues today, and we have to face that fact. But in the midst of it, isn't there a chance that we could just dance a little or sing a little?
Yeah. Make it better. I think the challenge, though, Jim, someone's going to hear that that's in a particular spot in their life. It's hard. It's difficult.
And they're going, forget you guys. You don't know what I'm living in. I think we do, because both of us had really difficult childhoods. We came up from the gutter. And there is something you should be able to learn from those circumstances, and that is how to dance when it's not going well. I think the Lord smiles, because he knows he's got your heart when you're able to give him thanks and to glorify him in the midst of something not so good. You're right.
I'm seeing that right now with my wife. Kathy, she was at City of Hope in the summer with cancer, breast cancer. And what's so interesting about Kathy, and she's just gone through the radiation, and she's doing good, and they're working on the medication and all that, but it drew her closer to God.
So sometimes our pain and our hurt, it didn't take away her cancer, but it really did draw her close to God. She's such a rock, if you would. And the Scripture talks about building your house on the rock or on the sand.
If you build your house on sand, the rain and wind are going to come whether you have a rock or a sand. Now, she has her house on the rock, and so it's bending a little bit, but it's focusing her in great ways. And guess what she's doing? She's investing more time with the Lord. She's investing more time with our kids. She's investing more time with our grandkids. She's investing more time with me.
And that's a good thing. Shima, as you're speaking, I'm smiling because I'm thinking back to a season, just reflecting on your daughter wondering where the fun went. I think some of the fun for us went out the door with my kids because it doesn't rain a lot here in Colorado, but literally there were rainstorms when my kids couldn't wait to go out and play because it was just fun. And I think I've lost a little bit. I think I've found some encouragement just from what you guys are sharing from your own lives and from illustrations like Vivian Green's quote. Right, and even in the empty nest phase, sometimes people say it's not fun.
To quote Billy Crystal from City Slickers, it's not exactly a Christian movie, but he said when I get to this age I'm just going to be walking around the mall looking for the best soft yogurt and mumbling when are the kids going to call, when are the kids going to call. And I laugh because in a certain stage or phase you can do that instead of going, hey, let's go have a blast. We have more freedom than we ever have as a couple or whatever, so let's enjoy that time. Instead we sometimes fill it up with wrong stuff. Yeah, that's so true. You say that attitude and discipline are keys to making the most of every day.
I totally agree with that. But, again, how do you practice that in such a way that you can make it part of your natural attitude? Yeah, well, one of the phrases that has helped me is life has pain, so it's either the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. I was thinking, you guys, neither one of you said anything when I came into the studio, but I've been working out with weights, so I've got some pain of discipline, like I've got some soreness right here. You look really good. Thank you for calling me.
It's the duty of radio, right? But the pain of regret is right here. I'm holding my stomach here. And so I think that's the natural part. We have to have the pain of discipline, and that comes with our relationship with God, with our relationship with our family, with so many things, or we have the pain of regret.
And I think that plays into our attitude as well. I've needed to understand that I just can't write goals. I have great goals, and then I don't accomplish my goals. I've wanted to lose weight for so many years. I've learned I had to make habits around those goals. No Fritos. No, no, no.
That doesn't work. But the habits help me, once I do those habits and once they become a part of my life, then they help me with those goals, and that changes and helps my attitude. Yeah, that's good. In fact, you have an acronym, SMART, S-M-A-R-T. What are those five elements for? Well, it's setting goals. And I've been setting these goals in my – I've been a small group for 21 years, and we always have goals. And then I learned that they have to be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. And for the time-bound, what that means for me is that I need to have a time when I can really be held accountable with it.
I need accountability with some of these things. And when that happens and I do those and then I make habits out of those, that's when the goals look better and do better. And that even happened with me with weight recently, but it also helps me with my relationship with God.
It helps me with my relationship with my spouse, with my kids. Yeah, it definitely does. And I think right here at the end, that's the big question, Jim, for the people that – this may come a little more naturally. Maybe they have the gift of joyfulness, and then there's others that don't. It's just part of their makeup. They're down to business.
This life is hard, and I'm going to get through it. So speak to both of those people, one that may have a reservoir of joy. How do they not squash other people with their overwhelming joy?
And then on the other side, how to develop that reservoir? Well, joy is not happiness. And a lot of people have happiness because they told a big joke or they were outgoing or whatever. But joy, I think, comes from a relationship with Christ.
I really do. The people I know who have a relationship with Christ have a deeper sense of joy. And yes, there are people who are more optimistic.
I'm an optimist. But there are also people who are what I call – and by the way, you can look this up in the dictionary. They're called awfulizers. Awfulizers.
Awfulizers. Yeah. I mean, my husband's late from work again. He's probably having an affair. Our son is going to impregnate the entire class.
He's only in fifth grade. Those kind of people. Right.
That would be an awfulizer. Right. And those people have to make sure that they're not focusing just on the negative. The same way to get joy is to connect on a deeper relationship with God.
And I'm not trying to make that sound simplistic. I'm saying that God is the God of joy. And God is the God who gives us this happiness. And he wants us to have a life that is related to him. And when we're related to him, then I think there is a sense of joy.
And we don't have to be negative Nancy or negative Ned. It doesn't mean that it's always going to be positive. But we have to learn to have what I like to call positive adaptability. And that's going to be something that is life changing. It sure has been for me.
Yeah. It's about attitude. That's what you're really going after is attitude. Attitude is everything. Attitude in Christ, et cetera. But, again, your 13 elements, your 13 principles, have serious fun, attitudes, everything.
Find replenishing relationships. Set excellent goals and create workable habits. Glorify and enjoy God while serving him forever.
That's just, again, a few of them. And we'll post the 13 at the website if you let us do that. Absolutely. And, man, we'd like to get you a copy of Jim's book, Have Serious Fun, and 12 other principles to make each day count. And if you can make a gift to focus on the family, that would be a fun way to participate in ministry, because we're going to turn that right into saving a marriage, helping save the life of a baby.
Why not? So send a gift. And if you can do that monthly, that's great.
But a one-time gift is good as well. And we'll send you a copy of Jim's book as our way of saying thank you. It really is a great resource. And please smile when you give us a call at 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459.
We're stopped by the episode notes for all the details. Jim, thank you so much. This has been great.
It's kind of lightened my load a little bit today. All right. Well, thank you so much. Great to be with you. And thanks again for what you do. Well, we're so grateful that you could join us today for Focus on the Family. On behalf of Jim Daly and the rest of the team, plan to join us next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. My favorite thing about BRIO is that you can actually absorb stuff from it and learn. Reaching teen girls right where they're at with encouragement to grow in their faith. The stories in the BRIO magazine about other people that have gone through things way worse than I have is really inspiring and uplifting. Help your teen invite God into her everyday experience with BRIO magazine. Learn more at FocusOnTheFamily.com slash BRIO radio.
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