Phil Callaway is certain that laughter and a sense of gratitude are the keys to overcoming the stresses of everyday life. He shares how the Lord reminded him of that lesson through the extreme stress of his wife’s serious illness and subsequent remarkable recovery.
friends. What do you thankful for today? Everyday? Let’s set our default to Thanksgiving. It’s a choice that changes those around us and changes us to joy grows best in the soil of Thanksgiving. Welcome to the focus on the family broadcast. Helping families thrive. Today’s guest, Phil Calloway, is a Canadian humorist and author, and I know you’re going to be blessed by his presentation today as he challenges us to be joyful despite our circumstances. Phil, host of daily radio feature in podcast called Laugh Again that airs across North America, the United Kingdom and even in Africa, He’s on authored several books on Embracing the Brighter Side of Life, including his latest Laugh Like a Kid again. And even though film makes it a habit to be joyful, his life is not perfect as you’re about to hear. Here’s Phil Calloway speaking at the Park Church in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, on today’s focus on the family. We love to laugh, but we gotta face it. Laughter can be hard to find. Some of you know that all of us to one degree or another know that, and it’s sadly Christians are not always the most joy filled people. I know that’s a shock to some of you, but I remember sitting in church Is the boy looking around? If the adults who look some of them like prunes and thinking to myself I don’t think I want to spend eternity with these people. You know what Some of them anyway we sang a song Did you ever see this? I’ve got the joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my heart Down in my heart she they had to keep asking because they got and find it how good it is to be in a church filled with joy. But you know, I did. I thought that the joyful Christian was an oxymoron, like, you know, jumble, shrimp and airline food. And and Microsoft works that kind of thing. But thank God I saw incredible joy in my parents. Despite all they’ve been through, my mom could be a very funny girl. I was a thin child. I was so skinny. I I was swimming in Lake one summer in a dog came out to fetch me three times, but my mom should say to me Son should say Philip should say he beat up that way you’re harder to kidnap. You know, she could be funny, I think. For Mom, laughter was a windshield wiper. It didn’t stop the rain, but it allowed her to keep going. She survived an abuse of child who had a horribly abusive childhood, five miscarriages. Her first son died in her arms at nine months. My mom suffered from deep depression, as you might expect, but a kid doesn’t know that in those days we didn’t know about the D word. She was just sick. That’s all I knew. And so I got into comedy to cheer my mama up. I would bounce into the bedroom. I’d make funny faces. I’d say funny things. Anything to coax a smile. If I got it right, she would laugh. She would crawl out of bed, go to the kitchen and make me breakfast. It was my first paying gig. Itwas there a friend and I found a way of getting a skunk into my neighbor’s trunk. My neighbour was a good man. He did not deserve this. But we had found this skunk and there it was in the middle of the road and just lying like that, and we thought certainly had still served some purpose. So we found a way of getting it into a bag and into our neighbor’s. My neighbor’s truck, You know, nobody locked anything in those days, so it was an easy thing to do. We watched on a Saturday morning from behind some shrubs as that man came out of his house with his wife and his two Children, one of each. They had a beautiful family thing going. Life was going well for them, I think, and he was my Sunday school teacher. Did I mention that? I don’t think I did. And he played the accordion and also carried a beeper, which I always thought was optimistic for an accordion player to think that someone might call him. But that’s besides the point. You’re a beautiful wife and his two Children. They got into that car and they took off and they only got about 60 ft, I reckon, and they came squeaking to a halt and there was conversation in the car. I think she was blaming him for the smell. I don’t know what was happening. He got out of that car, open that trunk and we watched our Sunday school teacher completely lose his mind. It was a wonderful thing to see happen. This man’s land that lead. He kicked that bumper. He began using words he had not taught us in Sunday school, and it’s taken me years to have perspective on this. But I started to realise that for every single one of us in this room, there comes along a time when a skunk gets in to our trunk. Am I right? A time when something comes along that we definitely would not have chosen. But what is it that separates those who resigned from those who rejoice? Those who slammed that lead and kick that bumper and curse from those who are able to find a little joy there? Perhaps years later? What is it? I hope you want to know. Today I want to give you four secrets of a skunk buster. Four secrets that are absolutely essential to living life with joy. Are you ready? Many of you are taking notes. Not a single one of you is taking notes. Four Secrets that are absolutely essential to sanity, success and significance in turbulent, changing times for things that every kid knows and every adult needs to be reminded of. Are you ready? Here we go. Point number one Say it with me. The world is full of capt I but we don’t need to sit on why I read in a UK newspaper. Ah, Most fascinating Storey. A girl had brought a hamster to the vet. It hadn’t moved in three days. It would not eat. It would not drink. It was just leaning up against the side of the cage. Stuck there. What to do? She took the hamster to the vet. Turns out the vet opened the cage and pulled that Hampshire out. It was fine. It walked around and around on the table, kind of wobbling. She stopped it and she reached into the answer’s mouth and she pulled out. Ah, Fridge magnet. Ah, fridge magnet. Back home. This hamster had been out on leave for a few minutes, had been on the kitchen floor and scarfed up a fridge magnet, then spent three days stuck to the side of the cage due to its magnetic personality. Well, the hamster is fine now. I’m happy to report, but you know, I got thinking about that and I thought, you know, that’s me lately. That’s me. I You have been swallowing the wrong things. Have you? Where is your focus? Where is Are you feeding on the wrong stuff? Bad news and gloom and doom or the whatsoever things of scripture Things that are pure and lovely and a good report. Excellent. Praiseworthy. Are we thinking on those things lately? I gotta tell you, I have been noticing all that’s wrong and I have started whining. I know that surprises you, but we cancelled more than 100 speaking events well past that many during Covidien. When it all started, someone said to me Right away, man, Stay safe. And I said, Hey, thanks. I get it. But what I want to do during this, however long it lasts two state Thankful He said How? I said by going and looking for stuff I’m thankful for. Can we do this? Yeah. In April of that first year, I said to my wife, Honey, I am thankful for my car. We just got 43 days to the gallon. I’m thankful I was able to go into a bank with a mask on and not get arrested. Isn’t that cool? Tell your grandchildren that one day radical gratitude is the great secret to a contagious, joy filled life. First, Thessalonians says this. Rejoice. Always pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ. Jesus, What a verse! What a truth. Radical gratitude Is that you? I young when our kids were small. My wife, Ramona, was tested for Huntington’s disease. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. It’s fatal. It’s genetic. It’s hereditary. So three of her siblings had it at the time. We found out on Valentine’s Day, after 10 months of waiting for the results of the simple blood test that she did not have it. It was the happiest day of my life, but before long, things took a turn for the worst. I was in my office one day, and I was working on a marriage magazine article, and I just written up the line. My visa card is missing, but the thief is spending less than my wife, so we haven’t reported it yet, and the phone rang. It was not funny at all. It was Ramon on the lion, saying, Honey, help me. I don’t know what day it is I don’t know where I am. The phone went dead. I took off running for home. I found our three kids in the kitchen making their own breakfast in a stainless steel bowl, and they looked up at me and Steven, our eldest, said, Daddy, is Mama going to die? I didn’t know I knew all about Ramona. She moved in next door to me back in 10th grade, and I made it my life. Bible verse to love my neighbour us myself. She is the second best thing in life. It’s ever happened to me apart from my relationship with Jesus Christ, but I came into our living room. She was unconscious on the floor, lying in a pool of blood, large gash in her legs. She just had the first seizure of her life on the first of many, many, many to come. Some of you are in a similar spot. You don’t know the way ahead. Three words changed me overtime. Three simple words. You see, I was a comedian, but laughter vanished and bitterness took its place. On one Thanksgiving day. I was trying to think of stuff I was grateful for. I could not think of one single thing with the things the things that were going on. Ramona was down to Â£90. People didn’t recognise or some of the people in our town having seizures every half an hour grand mal seizures. I finally got everybody into the bed and I was asleep, too, and and suddenly there was a little kid in our room. It was one of our Children, thankfully. But Jeff tapped me on the shoulder, woke me up to inform me that he could not sleep. And I had to be up in about three hours anyway, so I took him across the hall. I talked to me and I said, Jeff, I want you to think of some things you’re glad about. This little kid looks up at me says Dad, you start Daddy, you start three words. I thought of those versus that. We just went over. Rejoice, Always pray continually Give thanks. In all circumstances, all circumstances, I thought if the person who wrote that was in prison like he was, I could do this to and I started on my thankful list. What are you thankful for? This morning I am bank for for someone to thank. Above all, I think I’m thankful for the dark. It’s the only time I can see the stars. I’m thankful that I get to make breakfast now. Ramona sleeps in a little bit more often, so we find ourselves eating cake and ice cream for breakfast occasionally, but is contained the four basic food groups sugar, eggs, artificial flavouring and cholesterol. Yes, I’m thankful for three wonderful Children who surround us with laughter and energy and mischief in love. And I think I’ll go to sleep now like all of them are. Don’t get me wrong, I still wind. Sometimes I am most accomplished at it. I went into the bathroom with my socks on and the floor was wet, and now my socks are wet. My head is too choppy to shove into the Pringles chip container, so I have to help the container. My seedless watermelon last summer had a seat in it. In Sacramento, California, women of Faith Event, a weekend event was oversold by 1500 seats, which is a wee bit of a problem if you’re organising something. So they began to get volunteers to phone all of the women coming and apologise on behalf of just what had taken place, and we want to get everybody in. And so we’re going to move in smaller chairs and you’ll be sitting some of you very close to the platform, and we’re sorry. But one hour into that weekend meeting, people were upset. The complaints began to arrive. And so they asked the next speaker if she would mind just apologising again on behalf of the organisers. And she said they would that she would. Some of you know who this lady is? Her name is Johnny Erickson. Tada. I’ve been blessed to spend time with her on two occasions. What an amazing girl. She was paralysed. For those of you who don’t know in a diving accident in Chesapeake Bay when she was 16 years of age, her life forever changed. But all over the world, she is known for her joy and for her gratitude, Despite what has happened to her. She got up in front of these ladies. She was wheeled up there, and she said this. I understand some of you aren’t comfortable sitting in the seats you’re sitting in tonight. Well, neither am I. And I’ve been in mind for more than 40 years. Then, smiling her beautiful smile, she said, I have thousands of friends who would give anything to sit where you are sitting, if just for tonight. Many of those women said that was a pivotal moment in their lives when they changed from bitterness to gratitude. What Aguel, Johnny Friends? What do you thankful for today? Everyday? Let’s set our default to Thanksgiving. It’s a choice that changes those around us and changes us to joy grows best in the soil of Thanksgiving. The world is full of cat die, but we don’t need to sit on. One second point is don’t jump from the train when you’re in a tunnel. Every kid knows this right? But sometimes we adults seem to forget. This means different things to different people here. I know it makes me think of my marriage. A recent study shows that you can live four years longer by staying Mary. I mentioned that at a marriage of him and the guy came up to me. He would look pretty, pretty sour, you know, like the guy that was sucking the buttons. He said, Yeah, that four years longer thing he said. I I disagree. I think it just seems longer, he said. That’s just four more years of misery. I said, Well, that’s up to you, man. He said, How long you’ve been married? I think it was 35 years at that time for us. I said, 35 years he said, In a row, Yeah, it’s possible, he said. How I said all of God’s grace, God’s grace don’t jump makes me think of the disunity I’m seeing in so many relationships and families. Right now, my prayer for you is that you would love one another as I have loved you. Those of the words of Jesus, We can do this despite the things we disagree about, Let’s come together over him. Above all, we are to be known by our love. Ramona’s seizures continued. She was not doing well. I had a man say to me, called himself a Christian, he said. Calloway community said some advice, he said, to put her in a home and get on with life. That was what comes from a culture that we’re in a throwaway culture. It was broken, we don’t fix it. But we began to pray and Ramona, I got to tell you, is doing unbelievably well. That’s a long storey in itself. But thanks to doctors in the healing power of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, she’s doing so well. But I look back and wonder what it would have been like had I followed that guy’s advice. Contrast that advice with my brother in law, Bill and Jim, Brothers in law. They were my heroes in life, and it’s simple why these guys have nursed their wives through decades of Huntington’s disease. When they didn’t know them, they were there. Miriam, my wife’s eldest sister, was down to she well. She just was doing very poorly. But she was visiting a doctor in Vancouver, and he said Miriam were stand 25 years with Huntington’s. Your attitude is amazing, he said. We can understand that you’re only showing 50% of the symptoms associate with Huntington’s. We think your belief in a higher power might have helped to, and Miriam started to laugh, she said. That would be God, she said. Doc, life is falling apart of the edges, but not at the core right at the core. I know that I’m loved by God. I’m promised eternal joys of heaven. And I have a husband who loves me Children who love me too. And I have a beautiful fridge magnet. It says, Lord, if you can’t make me thin, make my friends look fat. You know something? Nurses in the care centre she was in told us When we’re discouraged, we go And we talked to Miriam. She was down to Â£40 at the end. Women were showing up to see her to be encouraged. How is that possible? How is it? It’s the joy of the Lord that was so evident in her life and the hope of heaven, where all her question marks would be straightened in the exclamation points. See what’s going on. Ah, young man was on a flight where turbulence was terrible. People were screaming and praying. I’ve been twice on flights like that. Don’t want to do it again. But beside this man, a little girl was there. Her feet were curled up on her. Neither she was reading a book. Amid all the terrible turbulence, the adults scared to death yet worry and fear, seemed to have no place in her thoughts. So this play this plane eventually lands. Thankfully, the pale passenger sitting there stand these passengers and this man leaned over the girl. He said that Storm was horrible. She nodded her head. Yeah, but But you didn’t seem afraid. How come she smiled at him? She said, My dad is the pilot, and he’s taking me home. Storms, I suspect one has entered your life recently, darkening their horizon, tossing you around. Do you feel like running, my friend? Would you focus on this? We have a pilot who has never once missed a runway. He sustains all things, says Hebrews. 13. No human wisdom or understanding or plan Constand against the Lord. That’s Proverbs 21 30 Isaiah 46. 10. My counsel shall stand and I will accomplish all my purpose. Heaven’s throne is occupied and all is well. So don’t jump. Stay committed to that spouse. That task those kids that drive you crazy. Your faithfulness may not seem like a big deal right now, but trust me, we’re all leaving footsteps. Everywhere we go, it’s up to us whether those footsteps will be worth following and God’s grace is there for you. If you have fallen away, if you have jumped. He’s catching you. He’s there. Don’t jump from the train when you’re in a tunnel. Third point Courage is fear that has said its prayers. Fear has gone rather viral recently. I think you’ve noticed that. But Jesus never said be of good fear, did he? But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. I love those words from Jesus. Shortly before he was, he was headed to the cross. You know, when I was a kid, I didn’t have much use for prayer. I don’t know about you. My mother taught me how to pray if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take it. I’m thinking, What am I going to die off? I’m four hardening of the arteries, kidney stones, osteoporosis. What on then? My older brother threatened to kill me in my prayers. Took on new urgency. And so it is in life, right? Courage is fear that has said its prayers. My mother would see a Gap T shirt coming and she knew what it stood for. God answers prayer and he does. And he uses us. Someone 26 2 says, what happened when Godfried. The captives are miles were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was set among the nations. The Lord has done great things for them. Your laugh this week could mean an incredible deal to someone you’re talking with. Go ahead. Courage is fear that has said its prayers. Finally, before I sit down live so the preacher won’t have to lie at your funeral. Yeah. Have you been to one of those funerals? You’re wondering who are they talking about? The guy in the casket. You would have loved my parents. My mama. I’ve told a little of her Storey. My dad was part Scotch and part club soda and tell. Jesus got ahold of his life and changed him. And he was such a man of integrity at both of their funerals. People told me they were people of integrity. They were the real deal. Four best selling authors told me that my mother that they never would have written one paragraph without my mother’s encouragement. They were those kind of people. They didn’t leave much behind them when they passed away. We have looked everywhere with shovels. Or did they? They left behind them. The example of two godly people who just love Jesus, love their kids enough to tell themselves, didn’t chase the stuff of Earth chase things that are eternal. And as a result, I am one very, very rich boy. This morning I turned 35 a few years ago. Talk my son Steven to bed. He looked at me, said, How old are you again? Dad, I said, I’m 35. He said, Wow, you’re half dead. He did. So I tucked him in, calmly went across the hallway and removed him from the wheel. Actually, I got thinking I can’t believe how fast life goes. And I I thought I’d better find out what I want on my tombstone. So I started looking. They’re funny ones out there. See, I told you I was sick. Is one Here lies an atheist, all dressed up. No place to go as I know what I want on my tombstone just wanted to say this. He found God’s grace too amazing to keep to himself. Each of us could live that way for God’s glory. Steven was five. We were headed past the graveyard on a Sunday afternoon. He pointed up the window. Ah, hole was dug in the ground in a pile of dirt beside it, he said. Dad, look, one got out and the more I laughed at those words, the more I hung onto them. Because that’s our ultimate reason for hope this morning and for great joy. That’s why we can laugh like a kid again. One got out. Jesus Christ has risen, my friend. He is the one that gives a strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. The one who got out I want to give you a blessing this morning from Romans 15 13 Just says this May the God of hope, failure with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. God bless you. Thank you very much. This has been so refreshing, and I really appreciate how Phil share scriptural truths and storeys that display his unique sense of humour. And I got to tell you that’s a great combination when you’re going through a terrible time and let me recommend that you follow up on this broadcast by getting a copy of Phil’s latest book, Laugh like a kid again, live without regret and leave footsteps worth following. It’s a collection of heartwarming short storeys rooted in God’s truth that will really encourage you, so get a copy from us here. It focus on the family, where the proceeds go right back into ministry, not into shareholders pockets. And we could send that out to you for a donation of any amount today. And if this broadcast has brought up some painful issues for you, please give us a call. Our friendly staff would be honoured to listen to your concerns, pray with you. And if it warrants, it will have one of our Karen Christian counsellors give you a call back for one time consultation. That’s a free service that we provide. Thanks to the generous donor community here. Focus on the family. Contribute as you can in request your copy of Laughed like a Kid again when you call 800. The letter A in the word family. Or follow the link in the show notes On behalf of Jim Daley and the entire team here, I’m John Fuller inviting you back next time as we want more help, you and your family thrive in Christ