FamilyLife This Week®

Just Plain Fun

with Dave Stone, Nelda Hawkins, Ted Cunningham, Tim Hawkins | May 7, 2022
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Families experience a closer connection when they laugh together. Keeping things light with Ted Cunningham, Dave Stone, and mother-son duo, Nelda and Tim Hawkins.

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Families experience a closer connection when they laugh together. Keeping things light with Ted Cunningham, Dave Stone, and mother-son duo, Nelda and Tim Hawkins.

  • Michelle Hill

    Radio has been ingrained in Michelle for most of her life. This love for radio has taken her to various radio stations and ministries in places like Chicago, Alaska and other snow covered terrains like her hometown in north central Iowa. In 2005 she landed on staff with Cru/FamilyLife®. While at FamilyLife she has overseen the expansion of FamilyLife Today® internationally, assisted with the creation of Passport2Identity™-Womanhood and is now the host of FamilyLife This Week®. For the last 15+ years Michelle has been mentoring young women and is passionate about helping them find their identity in God. She also has a fascination for snowflakes and the color yellow. Michelle makes her home in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Families experience a closer connection when they laugh together. Keeping things light with Ted Cunningham, Dave Stone, and mother-son duo, Nelda and Tim Hawkins.

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Just Plain Fun

With Dave Stone, Nelda Hawkins, T...more
May 07, 2022
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Michelle: You know, there are some parallels between being married and being a singer; but Ted Cunningham says you've got to remember: “You're not a soloist.”

Ted: Every marriage is a duet. Whenever I see a couple in love, and having fun together in public, it's a field trip: I take my kids over to them, and I just get a brief interview of them. I want my kids to hear: “Why are you two enjoying…” Well, then, they'll give you a list—you know, pages.

Michelle: We're going to help you keep your marriage on key—because you never know who's listening to your harmonies—on this edition of FamilyLife This Week. Stay tuned.

Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. We all know that couple or that family that seems to have it all together: they seem to laugh a lot and smile, and they look like they genuinely enjoy each other. Relationships are a lot of work, and we're going to talk about how to put a smile on your spouse's face today on FamilyLife This Week.

A while back, Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine were discussing this topic with Ted Cunningham on FamilyLife Today®. Ted has made it his mission in life to be studying how to put some fun into our relationships. He's written several books on it; he speaks all over the country and the world; and he and his family live in Branson. He's the pastor of the coolest church ever, because on the property of the church is a roller coaster. Anyway, Ted talks with Dennis and Bob about something that he calls the FLY Principle—F-L-Y.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Dennis: I want you to share with our listeners your FLY Principle. That's just a good way to start the broadcast: F-L-Y.

Ted: “Fun Loving You.” And we have a Fun Loving You list that we keep on each other, and it's a couple pages long. We got this, years ago, from Gary Smalley's Honor List. He keeps an Honor List of Norma Smalley—it's about four pages of all the reasons why she is valuable. He told me, whenever they get in an argument or conflict, he pulls that list out to remind himself of her value.

Again, the goal is not to pull that list out after a conflict or fight and be like, “I can't believe I ever said that!”—[Laughter]—right?—or “That's not true anymore.”

So Amy and I, because we enjoy life together—so this is Ecclesiastes 9:7-9. I love the Book of Ecclesiastes—Chapter 1: “Life is hard”; Chapter 12: “Then you die,”—I mean, these are the bookends of Ecclesiastes.

Bob: Yes.

Ted: And a lot of people avoid it, thinking, “….dark, pessimistic book”; but I love the nugget in the middle of Ecclesiastes—that I just don't hear a lot of pastors preaching on or teachers teaching on—and it's Ecclesiastes 9:7-9—it says this: “Eat your food with gladness. Drink your wine with a joyful heart, for now God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white. Anoint your head with oil,”—so it's speaking of joy, and festivity, and enjoying life.

I love verse 9!—it says: “I don't have to trade all of that joy, and festivity, and enjoying life when I get married; I don't have to trade it in. I can do both,” because Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all your meaningless days that God has given you under the sun.”

When I go to churches that don't have open Bibles, I always misquote that verse on purpose. I'll say, after I read verses 7 and 8—I’ll go, “Now, look at verse 9 [speaking slowly]: ‘Endure life with your wife all your miserable days.’” [Laughter] And I'll get, “Umm. That's good; that's good.” And I'll get, “Amen!” [Laughter] And I'll have to say, “That's not what it says!—but that's what we think it should say.”

We make the decision to enjoy life together in the midst of the grind, so we've compiled a list. I have one: all of the reasons why it's fun loving Amy Cunningham. She has a list: all the reasons why it is fun loving Ted Cunningham; because again, these are decisions we make in the grind. I can't get out of the grind, but the blessing is: “I get to make decisions, every day, in it.”

Dennis: So give us a couple of your/a couple of yours that are on your FLY list.

Ted: Okay; so the first seven/eight years of marriage frustrated me like crazy!—not anymore. I told her—I said: “Amy, listen, there's just not a lot of adventure left for men in the world anymore. Let me find my own parking space. I just want to find my own parking space!” I said, “When we pull into the mall—I don't know why God designed it this way—but when you even look at a spot, it automatically disqualifies that spot/I can't park there. I'm not allowed to park there. I have to go find my own spot!”

And she used to, in years when we were plugged into one another as the source of life, she’d look at me and be like: “You stubborn, stubborn man! Why can't you just go with this good spot that I showed you?” I’d pull 20 spaces down: “No, I pulled into the…” [Laughter]

Now, what she does—and I love this—[Laughter]—I pull 20 spaces down; and she leans over and she starts massaging my bicep. See, we’re enjoying this! And she'll look at me and she'll say [whispering into his ear], “You did this all by yourself!” [Laughter] And I'll say, “I sure did!” [Laughter]

And what I caught her doing last year—she knows those Andes® candy mints—I mean, I can eat boxes of those at a time; they're not good for me.

Bob: The chocolate with the green in the middle?

Ted: The chocolate with the green in the middle: they’re so fantastic! And I caught her in the parking lot—she had a bag of them in her purse; she keeps them there, now, for when I do something good; okay?—[Laughter]—and she pulled one out, and she handed it to me. While I'm unwrapping it, I realize, “My wife just gave me a treat”; right?

Bob: Yes.

Ted: “She is rewarding my good behavior.”

Bob: You do this with kids and dogs; don't you? [Laughter]

Ted: Yes, but we just—we laugh about that—things that a lot of couples get stuck with. Whatever it is—in the car, at home, parenting styles/I mean, all that—we have stories with all of it, but we just take a—and when we find a new frustration—

I love doing this with couples in counseling: “Hey, write down five things that are fun, just the two of you together, that you just really enjoy.” When a couple is stuck in the grind—

Bob: —they’re going, “I can’t think of anything!

Ted: “I can't think of one!”

Bob: Right.

Ted: “Write down one! Now, just one thing that you just—every time you think about it, when it comes to him—you laugh,” or “…it puts a smile on your face.”

Well, when a couple is stuck, they can't think of any. All you have to do—just to tell them and to show them that they can—is to say, “Well, write down something about your kid that brings a smile to your face.” Well, then, they'll give you a list; you know, pages long.

I’ve found it easier to start with: “Write down something that's just frustrating and has been your entire marriage with your husband,” or “…with your wife.” And then they can start the list. I have more fun, pastoral counseling with this, where you just start at number one on the list; and you help them make decisions: how to enjoy that frustration and that irritation.

Dennis: —and kind of relearn it!

Ted: Yes.

Dennis: Because the grind will suck the life out of you.

Ted: That’s right!

Dennis: You ran across a couple in Arizona, who had a t-shirt called—was it “The Mudders”?

Bob: “The Tough Mudders.”

Dennis: “Tough Mudders”?

Ted: “The Tough Mudders”; yes. We were having dinner, as a family, at a restaurant. I just saw this—I'd say middle-aged couple—and he was wrapping himself up with bandages. [Laughter] They just looked worn out and a mess, but they were laughing and having fun.

I kind of live by this principle, out of the Song of Solomon, that every marriage is a duet in need of great backup singers; so I'm constantly wanting to get—

Bob: Say that again: “Every marriage…”

Ted: This works well in Branson, Missouri—Country Music Capital of the World.

Dennis: Oh, yes; it will!

Ted: “Every marriage is a duet”—right?—

Bob: Right.

Ted: —singing, back and forth as husband and wife—“in need of great backup singers.” The backup singers are the daughters of Jerusalem in The Song of Solomon. And every time you read them in the Song of Solomon, they’re advocates for marriage, not just a spouse. I think this is a big problem we have today, especially with in-laws. We have too many mothers-in-law/fathers-in-law that are backing up their child and not the marriage.

Whenever I see a couple in love, and having fun together in public, it's a field trip: I take my kids over to them, and I just get a brief interview of them. I want my kids to hear, “Why are you two enjoying…”

Well, our family watched this couple having a ball, from across the restaurant. I finally went up to them and said—and I couldn't see the Tough Mudder shirt on them at the time—I knew they were kind of matching in what they were wearing. I just went up to them and said—like I do a lot—and said: “Man! You guys are having a ball together! You guys are laughing together/having fun! What in the world's going on? Why are you having so much fun?”

And he said, “We just finished the Tough Mudder.” Now, if a listener doesn't know what the Tough Mudder is, it's kind of like a mini-marathon, but with all these crazy events. You get shocked with a little electrocution-type thing. [Laughter] You go down through water, and under barbed wire, and over fences. And this couple said: “It was the worst thing we've ever done in our married life. [Laughter] We're in pain; we both were concerned we wouldn't be able to make a living next week.” I mean, this is how rough this thing is. “And now, we're sitting here.” [Laughter] And they probably went for weeks or months off of that one morning in Gilbert, Arizona, outside of Phoenix, enjoying life together, and the stories they have with that.

I just think the sadness for me today is watching couples just living in that frustration, and the bitterness, and that anger; and they don't understand that they can decide their way out of that.


Michelle: Well, that's part of a conversation that Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine had with Ted Cunningham. You know, as we think about putting some fun in our relationships, sometimes it's about choosing to believe the best and, maybe, thinking twice about what we say. As Ted pointed out: sometimes, we need to make light of our spouse’s quirks and not allow those quirks to become a source of irritation.

Okay; so we just looked at how to add fun into your marriage. Let's take a look at how to add some fun into your family. Dave Stone has spent some time thinking on this, and recently he talked with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine in the FamilyLife® Studios about the importance of teaching our kids and keeping fun in the conversation.

Dave is Senior Pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky; and he and his wife have three children. He believes that one of the most practical ways to spread the gospel is through moms and dads, who model a genuine faith to their kids. That model—he learned from his dad—here's Dave with a memory.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Dave: My dad always made traveling fun. He might be driving—and then, come off of an exit on the interstate someplace—he'd say, “Honey, the car sure is acting funny.” I would say, “What?” My brother and I would look at each other; and he’d say, “I can't control where it's going!” And he would slowly start making turns and, all of a sudden, we would end up right in a Dairy Queen® restaurant parking lot. [Laughter] And we loved it! And so, after that, whenever he would say: “Honey, I don't know what's going on with the car. I can't control where it's going!” We would start squealing, “Yes! Dairy Queen; Dairy Queen!” [Laughter] He made it fun.

Spontaneity is a spice of life that I think a lot of families are missing out on. In John 10, Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life and that you might have it to the fullest,”—or—“…have it more abundantly.” I believe that Christians should be having more fun than anyone else in the entire world. Our future is settled; our past is forgiven; and that should radically change the way we approach life.

As Christians, are we really having fun?—are we enjoying life?—are we refreshed by it? I think that Christian families should be so refreshing to be around that people say: “What is it about them? There's something distinctive.”

Bob: How can you purpose that your home is going to be a home of faith, and love, and laughter, and joy?

Dave: Well, there are some intentional steps I think that we can take. I think that that security is bedrock for a kid's faith and, also, for their feeling like: “Man, family is where it's at!” They need to know that there are safety and security there.

My junior year of high school, at the end of the year, I ran for senior class president. I will never forget—because that's a very awkward time in your adolescence—you're, you know, throwing yourself out there: “Will you be rejected or accepted by your peers?” But I'll never forget—even more exciting, to me, than the announcement at the end of that day—was getting off of the school bus and walking about 200 yards toward my home and seeing, in the distance, this huge poster on our front door—it was in my mom's handwriting. It just said this—it said: “Win or lose, we love you.” [Laughter]

What they were trying to communicate to an awkward adolescent was: “Regardless of how you might be seen by your peers; regardless of what your school decides today, within these four walls, you are loved and you are accepted.” That's what every kid needs! Every kid needs to know that: “I am important and of value in my parents’ eyes.”

I think some of the ways that we do that are through three different times that God gives each one of us with our kids: travel time with our kids;—

Dennis: Yes.

Dave: —we have dinner time with our kids; and we have bedtime with our kids. Travel time—being the shuttle service to and from school—wherever it might be/their hobbies. Those are the times when we have opportunity to encourage them, to lift their spirits up, and to let them know that we're praying for them for the day. Those are times when, in the car, we can take advantage of the fact that—maybe they're looking different directions/they're doing some different things—but we can pour into their lives.

You know, Deuteronomy 6 talks about that; you know? “Impress these commands on your kids”—it talks about—“as you walk.” Well, we don't walk very much with our families, but we do drive a whole lot with them; so take advantage of that travel time.


Michelle: That's Dave Stone with a great encouragement about travel time. Seriously, have you ever thought about maybe confiscating your kids’ smart phones or devices, when you're traveling together, so that you can really have a conversation and talk and have fun?

Hey, we need to take a break! But when we come back, Dave Stone has some more encouragement on how to really plug into our children. Stay tuned.

[Radio Station Spot Break]

Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. Hey, we've been talking to Dave Stone about how important it is to build that relationship with our kids: build a fun relationship and build an encourager relationship. He just talked about travel time, and he has two more points to hit. Here's a continuing conversation that Dave Stone had with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Dave: The second time is that of dinner time. Dr. Catherine Snow from Harvard did a study, where she followed 65 families around. And in that time of eight years, she came away, and she said, “Of more value than playtime, and of more value than even their education, is that of the family dinner time.”

Bob: Wow.

Dave: That's the hour of power. And so we have to take advantage of that time. It’s a time for teaching; it's a time for encouragement; it's a time of teaching them to listen and put the spotlight on somebody else.

Dennis: Share about the Talking Bowl. You actually had an event called the Talking Bowl.

Dave: Yes; yes.

Dennis: I wish I'd heard about this idea [earlier]; I really like this.

Dave: Well, it's pretty simple. There are a lot of things you can do at dinner time; I know a lot of families are looking for ideas. One thing—like the Talking Bowl—you put a bowl in the middle of your table, and you fill it up with a variety of different questions: “What's your greatest fear?” “What do you hope to do five years from now?” “What are some challenges that you face with your peer group right now?” You put all these different questions in there, and then they pull those out; and you just go around the table.

We used to do a lot of role playing; so we would say—based upon the age of our children—we would put them on the spot and say: “Okay; you're invited to a party at school, Savannah. Now, at the party, you get there; and somebody offers you a beer. What's your response going to be?” And then, the rest of the family dives in the action; and we play the role of everybody at the party. And so now, she's going to make a decision. I mean, they got to be really good actors and actresses, laying it on pretty thick. [Laughter]

Dennis: But you use that as a time to build value and to teach biblical truth, practically, around the issues they're facing in everyday life.

Dave: And if you don't do that, then their first experience will be when, all of a sudden, they're cold cocked—and they're in a setting where, “I have to make this decision!” I'd rather have them factor through it, think through it, pray through it—and have some examples of what their brothers and sisters have said and mom and Dad have said—rather than, all of a sudden, being caught off guard.

Bob: You talk about drive time and dinner time. The third time is bedtime. What was the bedtime ritual like at your house?

Dave: Well, for me, growing up, it was a time that, now, looking back, I realize how significant it was in my life; because with regularity, my mom or my dad—one or the other—would pray with me at night. A very common thread that I would hear from my parents, as they would pray for me, would be, “Oh, Lord, I cannot wait to see how You're going to use Dave to Your glory.” As a result of that, I would fall asleep at night, not wondering if God could use me, but wondering how he might use me.

You know, my experience has been that your children are more likely to open up to you at bedtime than any other time—and the reason being—the lights are out; they’re in a secure environment. I could tell you, time and time again, when my wife said: “I'm going to go up. I'm going to go pray with Sadie,” or “I'm going to go pray with Savannah.” And I’d say, “Okay; I'll be right here”; and she said, “I’ll be right back down.” Instead of coming back down three minutes later, it’s forty minutes later. [Laughter] She walks into the kitchen, where I am, and she's squinting her eyes; because she's been in this dark bedroom for 30 or 40 minutes. And I'll say, “Where have you been?!” And she'll just say: “You know what? They opened up.

Dennis: Yes.

Dave: “They wanted to talk.”


Michelle: That was Dave Stone sharing about how important it is to build into our children and build that strong family unit. Did you catch what one of those important ingredients is? Well, it's fun—F-U-N—fun. If you'd like to hear more from Dave Stone, go to our website,; that’s

Well, as we've been talking about today, an important piece of making our family work is fun. To model this fun for us, we're going to lean into a mother and son, who found the balance between fun and discipline. A while back, Tim Hawkins stopped by the FamilyLife Studios to talk with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine.

Tim is one of the most in-demand comedians in the country. He's very funny; and after the show, you just might want to check him out on YouTube, because I guarantee there will be some belly laughs involved. Anyway, Dennis and Bob surprised Tim by having his mom introduce him on national radio. When I say surprised, he had no idea that his mom had been listening to him talking about her for the last five minutes. Here's Tim's mom, Nelda.

[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]

Nelda: [via telephone] I would just like to introduce you to my son, Tim Hawkins, who didn't have the snot beat out of him near enough. [Laughter]

Tim: That line right there—that line puts you in a better home—[Laughter]—that/you just saved yourself, Mom. [Laughter]

Dennis: What was he like, growing up, Nelda?

Nelda: Well, I was thinking about this a while ago; and I thought: “I wish I had known, when he was little, that I was going to be in this position today; because I could have used this as a threat: [Laughter] ‘Someday, I'll be on the radio, and I'll be able to tell what you did, as a child!’”

He actually, as a child, wasn't so funny and so entertaining at home, I think, as he was with his friends and in the classroom.

Tim: Well, now, that's the beauty of it—I used to get in trouble for what I get paid for now—so life is sweet.

Nelda: Yes; that/that's probably true. We have friends in our church—a couple of teacher friends—who like to tell me, now, that he's more successful at what he does: “At least, he's gainfully employed at doing this.” And they like to tell me that he practiced his craft in their classroom.

Bob: But did you have any idea?—if I had come to you when little Timmy was in the third [grade]—and did you call him Timmy, by the way?

Nelda: Yes; we did.

Tim: I only allow her and you, Bob, to call me Timmy. Let's get that out of the way. [Laughter] Don't let it happen again. Dennis, if you do, I'm coming over the table. [Laughter]

Dennis: Okay; okay. I'll call you Timothy.

Tim: Okay.

Bob: When little Timmy/when little Timmy was in the second grade, did you have any idea that: “He's a pretty funny little boy! I bet he might grow up and be a comedian someday”?

Nelda: No; because I think we thought everybody's kids acted that way. We lived a pretty sheltered life, I think, in this Midwest bubble that we live in. No; I don't think so.

You know, you all have children; right? If they had come to you and said, “We want to be a comedian and play guitar for a living,” would that have been real impressive? [Laughter]

Bob: We would have said, “Get a real job!”—it’s what we’d have said. [Laughter]

Nelda: You know, you think, “I don't think so.”

Tim: Well, this is the same woman—you're talking about—she had the most creative disciplinary techniques. We were in the grocery store—I've never seen a better one!—to keep us mindful and behaving right, she would sing. If we got out of hand, she'd start singing—

Bob: —like real loud?

Tim: —at the top of her lungs.

Dennis: Was that/was that punishment?

Nelda: It was!

Tim: It was worse than punishment!—and it worked! It was practical.

Bob: The embarrassment factor would shut you down immediately.

Nelda: Uh-huh; yes.

Dennis: Your hair is curly today. Is this the cause of it? [Laughter]

Tim: It's the cause. [Laughter] She's more—she should be on a stage; not me. I don't—I'm just—I feel guilty being here right now. [Laughter]

Dennis: Well, Nelda, what is your favorite thing about your son as we finish introducing him to our audience here?

Nelda: Oh, my favorite thing about him is his humility; and you're not going to see a whole lot of that today, but he is so humble—

Dennis: We haven't seen much of it; no. [Laughter]

Nelda: No; you won't—you won't see that.

Tim: I am the most humble person I've ever seen. [Laughter]

Bob: Amazingly humble. [Laughter]

Tim: I got humility coming out of my ears! I wish more people had my kind of humility; you know what I’m saying?

Nelda: —his kind of humility! But he's a devoted father, and husband, and son. We just think that he's probably the most gifted, talented human being that we know.

Dennis: There you go.

Nelda: And he just happens to be our son.

Dennis: There you go. Well, Nelda, I want to thank you. I want to thank you for listening to FamilyLife Today—that was encouraging—first of all, that you listen to Bob and me on the Bott Radio Network, there in St Louis.

Nelda: I do!

Tim: Mom, I want to appreciate you taking time out of your Everybody Loves Raymond marathon you're probably watching, and helping us out here. [Laughter] Now, go back to your room and lock the door; okay? I'll call you when we're done. [Laughter]

Nelda: You're more than welcome, Tim. [Laughter]

Tim: I love you, Mom.

Nelda: I love you too.


Michelle: And that was Nelda Hawkins and her son, Tim Hawkins. And I'm so glad that he didn't get the snot beat out of him as often as she said, if she had known who he was going to grow up to be. But anyway, that is just a fun interaction. Now we know where Tim gets his funny bone—obviously, is from his mom—“Like mother; like son,” I guess you could say.

Anyway, I hope you've been encouraged to find some fun in your relationships today.

Of course, you can go to our website,'s for the entire interview with Tim Hawkins; also, Dave Stone and Ted Cunningham.

Okay; so we know that social media is great; right? I mean, it's how I stay connected to my friends; it’s how I stay connected to you. I get ideas for decorating/ideas for making food; but there is a part of my online world—and maybe yours, too—that stirs discontent in my heart. It's a fine line between needing and wanting, and we're going to talk about that line next time on FamilyLife This Week. I hope you can join us for that.

Hey, thanks for listening! I value you as a good friend, so thanks for taking time out of your day and spending it with me.

I want to also thank the president of FamilyLife, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you!” to our engineer today, Keith Lynch. Thanks to our producers, Marques Holt and Bruce Goff. Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.

Our program is a production of FamilyLife Today, and our mission is to effectively develop godly families who change the world one home at a time.

I'm Michelle Hill, inviting you to join us again next time for another edition of FamilyLife This Week.


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