us about your new children's book: Be
Kind, Be Friendly, Be Thankful. Why did you write it?
Like many dads, I’ve told my kids animal stories hoping they would
fall asleep. So I've had lots of practice. The book was written for
a California company that markets to 4-H Clubs and to the U.S. Army.
The CEO bumped into my writing somewhere so he called asking me to
write a children’s book.
is it about?
book is about two best friends who must say goodbye for a time and
the lessons they learn.
do you think it's a timely book?
I don’t think we’ve ever had more children saying goodbye than
we do nowadays. With the break up of families and job changes and
the distances we travel, it’s a harsh reality. I wanted to write
something that would teach children how to turn even this into joy.
Were you expecting it to be gobbled up by the military as it has
Ha! I was expecting this about as much as I expected my high
school sweetheart to marry me. She did. This was much less a
surprise, but a nice one too.
did they learn about it, and what makes it so desirable for them?
I guess military families are taxed to the max when it comes to
saying goodbye, so a book like this is geared to help them through
are your hopes for this book?
hope the book sparks something deep within children. A longing for a
better place and a thankful heart.
do you share the hope of God through its pages?
commissioned to do something like this, I view it as a sacred trust.
It's much like speaking to corporations. I am at all moments aware
that I am a Christian, but for me to get preachy is
counter-productive in every way. I would love to write “Jesus
loves you! If you need to know more, call my home number,” in
large letters across several pages, but the military wouldn’t be
buying them if I did. Instead, I wrote about three things children
need to do when tough times come, and the final one is to be
thankful. A prerequisite to being thankful is to have someone to
thank and I pray the kids will find Him.
other books do you have on the horizon?
(Random House) is the story of the last five
years of our lives. The subtitle is “Hope and hilarity for a
sandwiched generation.” Our house has been home to my aging
parents who have Alzheimer’s and three teenagers. So the journey
has been wild, and as with my other books, I’d like people to
experience the joy I have, despite the challenges life hurls our
is your overall philosophy as a speaker and author?
want to use my gifts to point others Home.
are your goals in life and how do you find yourself achieving them?
goals in life are to walk close to Jesus, to build a strong
marriage, love my kids and perform meaningful work. And I’d like
to golf this afternoon if it weren’t so darn cold. Every single
plan I’ve ever had has been too small. I never would have planned
to be the author of two dozen books or be able to share the gospel
with millions of people on radio. I'm more into figuring out what
God would like to do right now and hitching my tiny wagon to His.
God's ways are not our ways, so I'm just learning to be faithful and
to do the next thing. I've been blessed beyond belief to be able to
do something I got in trouble for back in school: making others
laugh. If I can be doing that 70 years from now, I will be very
happy and very, very old.
What are some of your highlight memories as a speaker/author?
Speaking in the States and smacking my water bottle off the
platform. It splashed all over three rows of ladies. I said,
“Whoops, my water broke.” They laughed for three minutes. Last
week I spoke in Ottawa and realized that my 18-year-old tough,
hockey-playing son sat through all five gigs and one of them was 90
minutes. I asked him why. He said, “I just like to see the
response.” The kids have traveled with me through the years and
they always create highlights. Last weekend a woman and her husband
came up to me after I spoke and said, “We heard you speak 4 years
ago and came to Christ. We’ve been attending church ever since.”
If you could bottle their smiles and sell them, you’d be as rich
as Bill Gates. It’s pretty tough to top that.
it’s the way I’m wired, I guess. God gave me the gift of a
warped mind. I just see things from a strange point of view. I
visited my mother in the hospital yesterday and noticed that the
first objects I encountered were three candy machines, a chip
dispenser, and a Coke machine. They were a little out place, don’t
you think? Like a puppy at church. But you can even find humor in a
hospital if you look.
do you desire to make people laugh?
wish I knew. It just happens. I grew up without television, so I had
to come up with my own violence, and my own sitcoms. In second grade
I noticed that the class laughed at me but the teacher didn’t. I
should have known good things were in store. At first I thought my
teachers liked me because they would let all the others go but keep
me there. I spent hours with my head on the desk completely bored. I
think the art of boredom is lost on us in a noisy, wired culture.
Writers and comedians need it to work on material.
there days when it's difficult?
on days that end with “y”.
do you keep at it?
what I do because I see the joy it brings to others and because I
believe it is the call of God on my life. To paraphrase the runner
Eric Liddell, “When I speak, I feel His pleasure.” That’s why
I speak 100 times a year. Yes, I get tired and much of my writing
has been about things I’m trying to practice. Like slowing down,
and learning to trust when your wife has Epilepsy and Huntington’s
Disease is in your family. These things give you more compassion for
others and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to encourage them
How do you seek to share God through humor?
who laugh are willing to listen to what you have to say when you get
serious. I was speaking to 500 ladies in Niagara Falls (not in the
falls but at the Sheraton by the falls) and a man came in and sat at
the back taking notes. He told me he was in the bar band for the
hotel, had heard the laughter and wanted to see why people were
laughing. He had written down every Scripture reference I’d used
and said, “I’ve been far from God and I’m coming home
today.” Psalm 26 talks about what happened when God freed the
children of Israel from captivity. It said, “Our mouths were
filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was
said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for
them.” These are troubled times and people who see our joy often
want to know why.
did you learn about Jesus Christ, and what does He mean to you
accepted Jesus Christ when I was knee high to a Doberman. I think my
brother told me I was going to hell, so I told my mom and she fixed
both of us. I grew up in a home where God was honored, where my
parents were real followers of Jesus whose lives matched their words. No
atheist has ever been able to explain my mother’s life, so I’ll
stick by my mother’s God. He has given me strength when I’m
weak, joy when I should feel only sorrow, and an abiding peace that
hasn’t gone away. I can’t tell you this without smiling,
because I’m so thankful that a holy God loves the likes of me.
It’s the greatest punch line in all of history.
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