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Managing Your Family's Summer Schedule

Original Air Date 05/02/2014

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Dr. Greg and Mrs. Erin Smalley offer helpful suggestions for organizing your family’s summer schedule so you can avoid the common pitfalls of last minute planning and unmet expectations.

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Episode Transcript



Man: Summertime just seems so hard, you know, between summer jobs, church camp and sports, we just never spend any time together as a family.

Woman #1: Summer is our down time. We don't want to fill up the calendar with activities every day. We go to the park or the pool and that's enough.

Woman #2: If it were up to my kids, they'd spend the entire summer playing and watching TV. No way! I don't want them to forget everything they learned this year, so we're looking for educational activities.

End of Teaser

John Fuller: Well those are some very different perspectives about how families can spend the time together this summer and if may be that your plan resembles one of those. Maybe your effort is to keep the kids busy and occupied or to maybe chill out and relax a bit more. How do you agree as a family about spending time together on vacation and during the summer? You're gonna hear more about that on today's "Focus on the family," with Focus president and author, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, those comments reflect what a lot of parents are feeling right now. They may have a love-hate relationship with summer vacation, because soon the kids are gonna have all of this free time and they don't know what to do with it. Parents may panic because we're not sure what to do with them for the next two to three months.

And Jean and I, you know, we plan ahead. We build in a lot of vacation time and go fishin' with the boys at night. I mean, those are the things we like to do. But here's the good news for you. There's lots of stuff you can do to make the most of your summer as a family. For example, we've got a great resource from our Thriving Family team that will help you do that this summer.

John: And Thriving Family is our magazine and website where we have practical upbeat help and this month we've got a free World Explorers' download for you and your kids, so you can learn all about different countries and customs and food and even how to pray for the people who live there. Details about that World Explorers download and other resources for your family at

Jim: Speaking of resources, John, we are thrilled to have Dr. Greg Smalley and his wife, Erin working with us here at Focus on the Family. They head up our marriage ministry and help everyone here think through important topics for husbands and wives. Here's a recent conversation we had with them in the studio.


Jim: My impression of the Smalley family vacation, now this goes back to you dad. (Laughter)

Dr. Greg Smalley: Well, we're gonna talk camping now.

Jim: In fact, he used to talk about camping as planned chaos. I mean, I don't know what that's all about, but I loved his stories and you were one of the kids in that family obviously. So, what was that like?

Greg: He had a head injury, so he didn't really (Laughter) know what he was sayin' most of the time.

Jim: What was the Smalley family vacation like?

Greg: It literally was loadin' up in the camper and goin' off to some remote spot and havin' fun, getting' into all kinds of trouble. One time [I] remember we drove by this what looked like a natural waterslide. And (Laughter)--

Jim: A natural waterslide.

Greg: --this river goin' down, so he says, "Hey, I want to get a picture of you, Greg." I was probably 14, 13, somewhere in there. And he goes, "I'm gonna stand here and you're gonna slide down with all those smooth mossy rock[s]." But which led by the way, to a waterfall. (Laughter) So, he said, "But you'll stop and it's real easy." And he showed me and so, he goes, "So come on." And I went, "This is not gonna work." He's like, "Nah, trust me." You know, "I know what I'm talkin' about."

And so, I slid down this rock and go (Sound of phfft), just like gone; I was gone, right over the waterfall. (Laughter) And he's snappin' pictures and I'm gone. (Laughter) And my mom charged him like a[n] angry (Laughter) mama bear, you know, 'cause I mean--

Jim: (Laughing) She saw you go right over--

Greg: --this is that serious.

Jim: --the waterfall.

Greg: I even hit a rock and my back and I floated to the bottom of this pool.

Jim and John: Oh, no.

Greg: And I mean, obviously it worked out. (Laughter)

Erin Smalley: No.

John: It wasn't fatal.

Erin: Somewhat.

Greg: You know, I can't--

Jim: I feel much better (Laughter) about my fathering right now.

Greg: -- can't go to a water park now without breaking out into anxiety (Laughter). But I'll tell you, we had so much fun and disasters would always happen and he always used to say, "Hey, don't worry. In a couple weeks, we will all be so bonded and this will be so funny." And I hate that he was right. I mean, in so many ways as my brother and my sister and I, as our family, as we talk about these times--

Jim: It's probably--

Greg: --of chaos you take …

Jim: --what you talk about.

Greg: It is. Those were the times that we had so much fun and so, I think that was a big part of what bonded our family together. In the moment, it wasn't good.

Jim: Yeah, I'm sure.

Greg: It was afterwards.

Jim: Erin, what was your family experience like? What did you do as a child, as a teenager?

Erin: We would get in the car and go on car trips, so like--

Jim: Just to go somewhere.

Erin: --well, often we'd go to California which was always great fun with my dad driving, who tends to be a little bit on the (Laughing) what would you say, short-tempered side. So, I just remember sitting in the backseat going, whoa, what's goin' on. We're on L.A. freeways tryin' to weave in and out of--

Greg: Traffic.

Erin: --the traffic and it was definitely chaos.

Jim: And did he ever say, "Hey, what are you doin' back there? And don't do that?"

Erin: Oh, there were some probably choice words that came out. (Laughter)

Jim: You probably figured out. How many siblings do you have?

Erin: I just have an older brother.

Jim: Okay, so you would fight during a time like that?

Erin: Oh, gosh, we fought horribly--

Greg: Oh, they'd throw down.

Erin: --horribly.

Jim: I did last year camping with Trent and Troy. They had gotten so far under my skin, 'cause they were on each other like two brothers would be.

Greg: Oh.

Erin: Yes.

Jim: And I was saying, "Listen, if you guys don't straighten up, the moment I get this trailer back to Colorado Springs, I am selling this and we are never going camping again," Rrh, rrh, rrh. (Laughter) And they're lookin' at me like, "What happened to dad?"

Erin: (Laughing) I know.

Jim: A screw has come loose on his radiator. But now we laugh about it, like you said, Greg. I mean--

Greg: Yeah.

Jim: --we go back. John, did you have those experiences growin' --

John: Oh, no--

Jim: --up in Wisconsin?

John: -- never with your boys. Only (Laughter) we actually were a camping--

Greg: Jim is not allowed, John.

John: --family, too and we brought that in. We have camped every year but one as a family. And I never send my kids down waterfalls like (Laughter) Gary did.

Greg: Where were you--

Erin: You're not Gary Smalley.

Greg: --to talk to my dad. You could've--

John: Well, we have had--

Greg: --you could've saved me pain.

John: --yeah, we have had plenty of great moments. And I would say that vacation times for us, the default is, "Let's go camping." The challenge we have, Jim, is, let's make time to go camping. Let's make time to go out as a family and enjoy each other.

Jim: Well, that gets to the point, because so often as parents and parents that are interested in their children's academic career, we're on it during school year. How can we help with the project? What do you need from us? Gettin' the school, extra-curricular activities. We've got it all planned out. We're lookin' at their homework assignments. We're helpin 'em with their algebra. We're doing all those things. Then we get to summer and it seems like we kinda say, "Okay, free time." And that's not a good thing. You almost have to bring that same kind of tenacity to say, what do we want to accomplish as a family this summer? Is that fair?

Greg: Absolutely. I think you absolutely have to be intentional to decide as a family, how do we want to use our summer? We will ask our kids, at the end of the summer when you look back, what are some things that would've needed to have happened that would make this such a fun summer for you, to make this a 10 for you? And then we just we just listen.

Jim: What are some of those responses? That's interesting; that's a good question.

Erin: You know, sometimes it's, you know, these big glamorous trips that may or may not happen, usually maybe not. But you know, just the typical things like, I remember last summer it was that we go putt-putt golfing as a family. I mean, that's pretty easy.

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: That's just up the freeway.

Jim: You could find a coupon for that.

Erin: Yeah. And you know, (Laughter) no kidding. And there's indoor putt-putt golfing at the mall, you know (Laughter), so a rainy day, perfect activity. But you know, we have time to relax, that we can watch movies as a family. I know Garrison is always big on, you know, this whole series of a movie. I can't remember (Laughter) what that was called even.

Greg: It doesn't matter; we will watch it, yeah.

Erin: Yeah.

Greg: Everybody has to matter. I think that's the point. So, if you can get them to identify some things. But beyond things, activities, what we try to do is to talk about what are the big kind of vision things? Like, you know, what about rest? What about something spiritual? I mean, we'll ask 'em and then see what they have.

Greg: And then what's fun is, that it culminates with, we will pick a word as a family. What's the word of the summer?

Jim: Ouch. (Laughter)

John: Yeah, in your case.

Greg: Yeah, in mine, yeah with the--

Erin: Yes. (Laughter)

Greg: --how not to die.

Erin: It was--

Greg: Save me.

Erin: --to try to stay alive.

Greg: Yeah, save me.

Jim: Stay alive.

Greg: Yeah.

Jim: Two words.

Erin: Live till 18.

Greg: So we just asked our kids, you know, let's come up with a word for this summer. And what they came up with was "refreshing"--

Jim: Ah.

Greg: --that we want to be refreshed. You know, again it's just like everybody else, it's been a long year. Been goin', workin' hard, doin' all these things.

Erin: Uh-hm.

Greg: You know, I think, as a matter of fact, if you want to have a great summer, I think two words that you have to figure out is, one is "rest." I love that there's a verse in Psalm 62:1, that says, "Truly my soul finds rest in God." So, it's almost like, how are we gonna rest, recover, rejuvenate from a hard year? And then the other one though is "life-giving activity."

I think there's things that we need to do to where we're literally, we're at rest. We're at peace. We're not goin' and blowin'. But then we've gotta discover some things that will bring Iife.

So, for example, I said of my son, "What really when you do it, not just gives you energy, but just makes you so excited and thrilling?" And he said, "Dad, when you take me up into the mountains of Colorado and we go fishing." Well, there you go. So, he needs rest, but we need to have these moments, right, where we're doing things that are gonna bring us life."

Jim: But getting back to that, you gotta plan that activity--

Greg: You do.

Jim: --because as adults, unfortunately, the world still spins and we still have obligations during summer. We don't get summer vacation.

Greg: John Fuller and I have a really hard boss.

Jim: Yeah. (Laughter) But we need to keep going. But in that, we need to take those vacation times and make those memories and hopefully, you can do that as a family.

Greg: Yeah. Talk about it. I mean, that's--

Jim: Yeah.

Greg: --the point. Don't just let the summer happen with a Yogi Bear, if you don't, you know, what was his quote? If you don't …

Erin: Know where you're going.

Jim: Yogi Bear.

John: Yogi Bear or Yogi Berra? (Laughter)

Erin: Well, that's the first time I saw it, I thought it was Yogi Bear. (Laughter)

John: They're both noted for their quotes. I--

Erin: Yes.

John: --just don't remember …

Erin: Basically, if you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up somewhere else.

John: That sounds like a Yogi Berra, I think. (Laughter)

Jim: Great wisdom.

John: I think, yeah, Jim, you mentioned this earlier. We plan out everything. We go so intentionally and then the summer comes and we have like a day to do all of this. And that's what you're saying, is we can't do that.

Greg: Be intentional.

Jim: Well, now--

Greg: Talk it through as a family.

Jim: --I've gotta bring in the other element. At the top of the show, we played the nice mom there who was sayin', yeah, we've got some academic--

John: Oh, yes, educational.

Jim: --challenges and things we want the kids to do in the year. Now I don't know how that goes down at your house, but for me, the boys, when we tell 'em, you know, you got three book assignments this summer, "What?!"

John: Oh, dear.

Jim: What?!

Greg: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah, you got a tough school you go to. You got three book [assignments]. "What?! It's summer vacation." So, we've gotta build that time. Now the good news is for us, they like to read. So, eventually they get there. But it usually is a difficult thing during the summer for the kids to stay on track, to stay in the groove.

Greg: They've been controlled for nine months. Everything's been so structured out. They've been runnin'. We need to have those academic activities also, but imagine though for that child, who has now the opportunity to talk about, hey, if these other five things happen over the summer, this is gonna be such a win for me. And that's where you introduce okay, and you've got this assignment. I mean, you can talk that through as a family.

Jim: Hm.

Erin: Uh-hm. And usually what I do for the summer is, I take them to Barnes & Noble and we go and they get to pick out one of those thick, you know, little assignment books that, you know, has all the worksheets in it. And they get to pick out which one they're gonna do for the summer, for their grade.

Greg: I've already picked mine out. I'm ready to go.

Jim: That's good.

Erin: But then they have the freedom. I'm like, you know what, you have to do this many pages in the next week and they get to decide when they do it.

Jim: I was laughing.

Erin: But it has to be done.

Jim: Last summer I think, I think it was Troy and he got Moby Dick assigned--

John: Oh, my goodness.

Jim: --for the summer. (Laughter)

Greg: Such a read.

Jim: I thought that was a little steep. What is that, 1,100 pages? So, he wasn't too happy about that.

John: Man, you've gotta break somethin' that down to an activity a day is--

Jim: Especially 'cause that's sixth grade.

John: --30 pages or something. Yeah.

Greg: See and I think as we do these things, really the whole reason why we have that conversation with our kids is to try to really be clear on everyone's expectations. That's the problem. We don't talk about these things.

As a matter of fact, I realized, last summer, one of the things that I realized about myself is that, it had been a long year, a hard year and going into the summer, I had built up so many expectations about this family camp that we were going to. And I think in my mind, I wasn't even aware of this, but in my mind, this was going to compensate for the whole year that had been so hard and we're gonna have this amazing family time. As a matter of fact, in my mind, I could see us all sitting around the fire pit, you know, outside with the lightning bugs and singin' songs and doing the S'mores and all those things.

Okay, the very first morning, so we're now, as a family we're at this family camp. And Erin and I are going to speak, and so, we had just eaten breakfast as a family. (Chuckling) And as we're walkin' across the road to where we're supposed to speak, our teenage daughter who was 16 at the time, just goes … announces, she goes, "Hey, I'm tired of you people." (Laughter) "I need a break. I don't want to be around you guys. (Laughter) I don't even know why I came." I got so mad at her.

Erin: You so shut down. I mean--

Greg: I did.

Erin: --literally, I'm like, we've gotta speak in about five minutes. Do you think--

Greg: I'm not speakin'!

Erin: --you could pull it together?

Greg: Ah.

Erin: But it was; it was that you had this expectation of what this was gonna look like, 'cause I was dumbfounded by his response because I'm like, where is this comin' from? This is, you know, just how things go sometimes.

Jim: Yeah.

Greg: It wasn't part of the plan. It was not in my mind.

Erin: I mean, it just revealed that you had these high lofty expectations of this time together.

John: Hm.

Erin: And it became an issue.

Greg: It did. But I'll tell you what. She and I, we sat silently, my daughter and I, in this room. She wouldn't talk to me. I wouldn't talk to her. And I'm thinking--

Jim: Oh, no.

Greg: I have to stand up in a matter of, you know, 10, 15 minutes and talk about how to work through conflict. (Laughter) And I did not want to talk to her. And finally I said, "Honey, come here." And I said, "Here's what's goin' on for me." I said, "I really have built this up that we're gonna have this amazing time as a family. And so, by you saying that, it dashed all of that. But that's my stuff. Let's talk about what's realistic. We don't have to be together 24/7," you know. And we worked that out. That's the point. Why we want to talk is to be intentional, to think through, what do we want to accomplish, but also to try to get at, are there expectations that maybe we need to think through?

Jim: So, the clear thing that you're saying over and over again is communication.

Greg: Yeah. You have to talk.

Jim: That's key.

John: And we'll have some suggestions on how you can keep that conversation going, along with some summer activities that you can do as a family, when you stop by

Jim: And you know, those are great points and I'm sure a lot of people like to visit the website to see how to manage that. Let's also talk about the teen years in this regard. And you touched on that with your daughter, but how does a parent stay on top of their game to make sure that you're no longer relating to that teenager like an 8-year-old? I mean, you gotta find things and activities for them during the summer that appeal to them. How do you do that?

Greg: Well, I think again, what are we trying to accomplish with our teenagers as parents? We're trying to teach them to be independent, to be able to think things through, to make good decisions. And so, we have to decide those things as well, during the summer. How do we foster some more independence? You know, if I want my teens around me all the time and we're doin' family stuff all the time, that's probably not realistic.

And so, again, what we do is, we'll sit down with our teens and we'll say, "Hey, here are some things that we want to see happen over the summer. What about you?" And you know, "Hey, I wanted to go on this mission trip." Or "I want to go with my friend. They're goin' on a vacation and they've invited me and I want to go with them." I think we have to figure out a way to include all of those things.

Jim: Hm.

Greg: And the only way that you can do that is to be intentional, to sit down and have the conversation and just say, "What would make a great summer for you?" This year I told my daughter, Murphy, who's 17, that we have to have a time every week to where we are just doing something as a family. That's not optional. But Dad, I got my friends and da, da, you know. I get that and I love that you have friends and I want you to invest in those friendships. But we as a family, are going to do something every week. And we can figure this out and whether it's bowling or whatever. And she is doing those things. (Laughter) I mean, she's consented. She said--

Erin: But--

Greg: --yes, I will do that.

Erin: --yeah, but the good news is that she knows what our expectation is--

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: --'cause our expectations matter, too. I mean, it's everybody; it's the entire family and there's expectations that, you know, especially around the summer homework and keeping academically strong during the summer. They're not gonna be super excited about that, but it's a requirement. And that has to be included in the mix, too. We're gonna honor what you're desiring, but you have to honor what we're desiring, as well.

We have a fire pit out on our deck that overlooks Pikes Peak. And it's my favorite spot. That's a place we can gather, not to discuss rules or to administrate our family, but simply as a place to know and be known. In other words, when we gather around the fire pit, this is just to talk. And I think we need to do that every day.

Jim: Hm.

Greg: And so, we need to have something to where we can take a pause and just connect. And again, for you, maybe it's around the dinner table. So, there's a daily pause, which is one.

Erin: Uh-hm. And then the next one is a weekly escape. You know, kind of just a family night, somewhere where you're going, something you're doing together to really just laugh and enjoy each other.

I know, we were driving down the road the other day and we were talkin' about this and Garrison said, "Hey, they have there's free movies, you know, over at the mall area." And he went last year with a friend, but I want us to do that this summer together. You know, so something simple, bowling, putt-putt golfing, the movies, goin' for a hike, you know, just something together that you're gonna laugh and you're gonna enjoy each other.

Greg: Yeah, once a week, family night. But you're getting out of the house, so the pause every day is there in your home. You can go for a walk. But the weekly sort of escape is to get out of the house. But then I think the last one, you have to figure out an adventure. There is something so much fun getting back to what we talked about in the beginning, about going camping, you know, drivin' 'em to the mountains.

Jim: Some big adventure.

Greg: Some big adventure, maybe it's a mission trip, well, it doesn't matter. As a family, what is going to be our adventure?

Jim: Hm.

Greg: Man, what that does to the family, the bond and to bring life. So, I think if you don't know what to do this summer, what if you just focused on those three things, just a kinda daily pause, a weekly escape and then some sort of adventure, you're gonna have a great summer.

Jim: Yeah, and it's a good time to, again, we want to budget the summer. That's another theme I'm hearing, to budget your summer time. But can I ask ya, as a mom, Erin, is it hard to go nine months scheduled and you know, on top of everything, being engaged and then you have to flip a switch as mom. And so, okay, now we can relax. Some moms will struggle with that. It's hard to do and you've got to be mindful of it.

Erin: Yes and especially knowing your temperament going into the summer. What is the struggle gonna be? And for me, I have learned that being all, you know, spontaneous and just fun doesn't work.

Greg: No.

Erin: It doesn't work for me. It doesn't work for the kids.

Greg: It'll wear them right out.

Erin: And so, typically, I'll have a certain part of the day that is structured. Usually it's in the morning. Now I really want to emphasize, too, that we still have to get our work done before we play. And so, typically, we'll get the work done.

Jim: Do the chores.

Erin: We'll do the chores.

Jim: Yep.

Erin: We'll do the academic stuff and whatever we need to get done, errands and then we can play.

Erin: You know, but then there's the flexibility of it. Maybe we have to do the fun in the morning and the--

Jim: Right.

Erin: --scheduled time in the afternoons.

Jim: It's not as rigid.

Erin: Right.

Greg: And I think the other thing, too that you have to plan for are [sic] the crises that will come up. You know, as we were laughin' about just inevitably camping, whatever, you know, problems are gonna happen. (Laughter) I think that as a family, we need to expect that things aren't always gonna work out. We were getting' ready one year to go on a summer vacation. And we were late, tryin' to get everybody in the car. Finally get 'em into the car.

I thought that I'd asked Erin to, you know, hey, we needed some fuel in the car. It helps. And on the way to the airport and there wasn't, so I was ticked. So, we're late to get to the airport and our car doesn't have any gas in it. And so, I drove into this gas station and I guess there was a big biker rally (Laughter) in our area.

Erin: A motorcycle rally, yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Erin: And they were pretty much everywhere.

Greg: Yeah, they looked hardcore,

Jim: Yeah.

Greg: You can have that visual in your mind.

Jim: You made no eye contact.

Greg: No, well (Laughter), I had to because as I pulled in, we had an SUV so it was, you know, up high. And I was just noticing this bike, this very beautiful bike. What I failed to notice was the little trailer on the back of this bike. And I bumped it with my car. This little bike, this bump, right over, falls flat.

John: Oh, my goodness.

Greg: And I mean, it looked like it was like several thousand pound[s]. And so, it was one of those moments where the kids are like, "Please drive off." (Laughter) And I'm looking at her like, "I could get away with this, but no, this is not right. We need to go [in]."

Erin: So, we locked him out of the car. (Laughter)

Greg: So, I had to go in to this convenience store and say, "Who owns that really nice red, you know, Harley out there? And of course, this big rough-lookin' dude, he's like, "Oh, that's mine. Why?" I said, "I may need some help picking it up off the ground." Oh, he flew off the [handle], oh man and just went after me and the lady's like, "I'm callin' the police.". But I tell you--

John: Oh, my.

Greg: --though, that's so as, you know, as I, you know, I got back, so we solved everything, gave him insurance and all that. But I remember drivin'. We're just talkin' about it. Okay, this is what happened.

Erin: Yep, yeah.

Greg: You never know when you're gonna make mistakes and …

Erin: But those are the things that we will go back to and laugh about as a family. And our kids will be like--

Greg: I don't.

Erin: --"Hey, remember dad, you know, said this and then the guy said that."

Greg: The Hell's Angels guy, remember went after dad.

Jim: I'm not sure if the biker's laughin' about it. (Laughter)

Greg: No.

Erin: Yeah, he didn't think it was so funny.

Greg: No, probably not.

Erin: Yeah.

Greg: But you have to expect problems are gonna happen. Let's manage this together as a family. When we're on a trip, don't get into conflict. When it happens, put it aside. Make a choice to go; we'll deal with that later. This is about us connecting and having fun. I mean, set that boundary.

Jim: Hey, as we end, there's something that we've got to talk about and that's the spiritual training during the summer. That's important and it's something again, that we try to do. The kids can find a little problem with that. It's kinda like reading Moby Dick. But we try to stick with that to say, we're gonna do kinda drip irrigation. We'll seed three or four Scriptures in the day, somethin' like that, just to keep that in front of you. And they've really responded pretty well. What do you do to keep the spiritual training in your home through the summer?

Greg: You know, for us, I think we really focus on that Deuteronomy 11:19, you know, "Teach them to your children, talking about when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. In other words, 'cause you know, with the warm weather, the fact that we can get out, I think it's the perfect time to do more of the informal talks and let's take a walk and let's talk about here we are up in the beautiful mountains. Let's talk about God. I think that, you know, VBS is great and we can do that.

Jim: Vacation Bible School.

Greg: Vacation Bible School, you can tell, I did when I was younger. And I think all that's wonderful, but I think this is such a great time to be informal, when we're just sittin' around. Remember we said, take that little pause every day. Sit around the fire pit outside, whatever you have at your home. That's when you can just say, look at these beautiful mountains. Man, that reminds me of God and da .da, and then you get into it.

Jim: I love that and I think, I find that I think typically guys love that kind of teaching in action orientation, while you're takin' a hike. I was gonna ask Erin. Erin, do you feel that, that is as valuable as sitting down and doin' a devotion? I know Jean would probably err on the other say to say, "No, we need a good morning time together," or a good evening time together.

Erin: And that's what I would say, it's both. We're pretty intentional, too about kids going to camp and that seems to, you know, always be such a spiritual growing time. I know Murphy last year went to a camp and she literally worked. It was like a work crew. She worked for two solid weeks and she came home and she said, "I have never felt so close to God"--

John: Hm.

Erin: --through work.

Jim: Wow.

Erin: And you know, then I'll leave them a little list in the morning. You know, this is for our work time, our work before play. And part of that is, you know, get your Bible out and spend some time with God.

But also it's so important to have that informal time, you know, sitting out on the desk, looking at the stars and golly! Look at what God made! And you know, looking at Pikes Peak. It's majestic and that's what our God did. You know, and just taking those opportunities. So, it's both .


John: That's how we concluded our conversation with Erin and Greg Smalley on today's "Focus on the Family" and a really helpful reminder about being more intentional this summer.

Jim: Absolutely, John and how to create a healthy balance between taking care of our responsibilities and having fun together. Families can be so busy during the school year. Summertime is a great chance to relax and make some fun memories with your kids, even if you stay in town and simply spend more time playing in the backyard. We do that, board games, every other thing that you can do right there at home.

We hope the ideas we've shared today will help you form relationships within your family that last forever. Don't forget about the free download from our Thriving Family team and I'm sure you'll enjoy exploring the world together as a family.

John: Yeah, that World Explorer download is available, along with a CD or mp3 of our conversation today with the Smalleys. You'll find those and more helps at or call to learn more, 800-232-6459.

Jim: John, we've been talkin' a lot about family vacations today, but I've got a wonderful surprise for our listeners and that is Focus on the Family is going to celebrate its 40th anniversary and to do so, we're planning a four-night cruise to the Bahamas in 2017. And we're giving you plenty of time to mark it on your calendar and to prepare for this, because we'd love to have you and your family join us. Look for all those details at our website.

Finally, remember us financially is you could. At this time of year, it can be a little tough and it's not uncommon for us to see a bit of a slump when it comes to our budget. So, if you can send a gift today to help the work continue here at Focus on the Family, we would really appreciate it right now.

John: And our number again is 800- A -FAMILY or you can donate at .

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow for a powerful message from Anne Graham Lotz. She's Billy Graham's daughter and she talks about prayer.


Mrs. Anne Graham Lotz: When was the last time you prayed for America and prayed for her sin as though it were your own? But you and I need to take their sin on as our own and you know how we do that? Because we're all sinners, aren't we?

End of Excerpt

John: A timely reminder for the National Day of Prayer next time, as we once again, help you and your family thrive.

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Erin Smalley

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Erin Smalley serves as the Marriage Strategic Spokesperson for Focus on the Family's marriage ministry and develops content for the marriage department. In addition to her work at Focus, Smalley is a conference speaker. She presents with her husband, Dr. Greg Smalley, at marriage enrichment seminars where they guide husbands and wives in taking steps toward enjoying deeply satisfying marriages. She also speaks to women on faith, family and the importance of healthy friendships.


Greg Smalley

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Dr. Greg Smalley serves as the vice president of Marriage at Focus on the Family. In this role, he develops and oversees initiatives that prepare individuals for marriage, strengthen and nurture existing marriages and help couples in marital crises. Prior to joining Focus, Smalley worked for the Center for Relationship Enrichment at John Brown University and as President of the National Institute of Marriage. He is the author of 12 books including Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage, Fight Your Way to a Better Marriage and The DNA of Relationships.