Don’t Forget to Play

by Dena Dyer @DenaJDyer

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22 NLT

Carey, my husband of 25 years, is a comedian—in both the best and worst sense of the word. He makes me laugh so hard I snort; this is a good quality. However, he also has favorite jokes he has repeated—ad nauseum—for two decades.

Two. Decades.

For instance, if one of us is eating a Caesar salad, this man of mine can’t help himself from grinning and quipping, “This salad is so good, I could et tu” (as in “Et tu, Brute?”). See how funny that isn’t? I do appreciate a good joke, but not when it’s repeated hundreds (maybe even thousands!) of times.

That said, I am grateful for a mate with a sense of humor. Laughter keeps us bonded in fun ways. It has also provided us with countless, priceless memories. (Even doctors say laughter is good for your body. It increases blood and oxygen flow and even works your abdominal muscles. Score!)

While pondering this topic, my friends and I came up with some ideas about ways to keep the laughs coming in a relationship:

–Play miniature golf, arcade games, or bocce ball (or just do some old-fashioned bowling).

–Do a “Goodwill” date. Each of you takes $20 and finds the other person an outfit. Then you both must wear what the other picked out while you go to dinner.

–Send each other funny memes, texts, videos, or gifs.

–Play pranks on each other (but ONLY if you know the other person is okay with it. Some people hate to be pranked!)

–Buy your partner a funny gift. For Valentine’s Day last year, I got Carey chattering teeth. He loved them and keeps them in his office!

–Be spontaneous once in a while…and not just in the bedroom. Take a road trip with no map—just drive and see where you end up.

–Watch funny movies, comedy specials, or favorite sitcoms together.

–Try not to take yourselves too seriously.

–Tease one another…up to a point. Have a code word or “look” when things get to be too personal or annoying, so you don’t upset the other person.

–Buy “googly eyes” or other fun cheap items and put them in strange places.  Jackson, my 15-year old, put a pair of stick-on eyes on our coffee maker, and it makes me smile every morning.

Truly, laughter lightens the heaviest load. In fact, Proverbs 17:22 (NLT) says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” God designed us to benefit from laughter! It’s like medicine to the soul. Both Carey and I are in ministry jobs, and we sometimes come home burdened. It’s a real blessing to have a fun atmosphere around the house.

Our sons are young adults now, but when we do sit around the dinner table, it’s a lively place, full of puns and wordplay. I hope the boys will continue to bring laughter into their own homes when they marry and have kids. I also think they’ve learned that it’s dangerous to go too far when you’re ribbing a family member. It’s all good fun, until someone gets hurt–so it’s wise to know when to quit.

And while it can be infuriating at times that Carey is young-at-heart, I wouldn’t trade his optimism and good humor for anything. I can tend towards negative thoughts and worrying. If left to my own devices, I’d probably drown my sorrows in tortilla chips and the latest sad movie too often, and he is good about pulling me out of my seriousness when I need it.

So I’ll quote him to end my encouragement to you about playing together: getting older is inevitable; growing up isn’t.

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Don’t Forget to Play – encouragement from @DenaJDyer on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: This article was adapted from Dena and Carey’s book, Love at First Fight: 52 Story-Based Meditations for Married Couples (Barbour). Dena Dyer is the author or co-author of ten books for women and hundreds of articles in magazines, newspapers, and websites. She lives in Texas with Carey and their sons Jordan and Jackson. She loves bargain shopping, decorating, and traveling. Find her on Instagram and Facebook, or at her website.

Join the conversation: What do you do to keep humor in your relationships?

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Strength in Laughter

by Sheri Schofield

Times are tough. People are living with uncertainty about many things, including finances. I’m seeing more and more cars and truck with dents in them that the owners can’t afford to fix. People are struggling.

Just today, I saw a white truck with a dented door. At the center of the dent, the owner had painted a foot-long silhouette of a jogger plastered in a spread-eagle position on the door, as though he had run into it.

I laughed. Here was someone who chose to make a joke out of the damage to his truck, who chose humor over anger, and then shared the joke with others.

During American wars, the soldiers chose to joke about their struggles. Abraham Lincoln himself tried to find humor during the dark days of the Civil War, just as the troops did. Bob Hope was brought out to our troops during WWII and in later conflicts to tell jokes and lift the spirits of our soldiers.

Humor has been our way of coping with difficulties for a long, long time. It is a solidly Biblical tool given to us by our Creator to aid us in times of stress and sorrow.

Proverbs 17:22 tells us, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (NIV).

During the night of my own soul, when my husband slipped away from me into a deep depression that changed who he was, I turned to humor to find a way to cope with the tremendous loss. I exchanged letters with humor writers and learned their skills in order to write my own humor more effectively. I did not allow sorrow to drag me down, but chose laughter and joy instead. It is what saved me during those dark days.

Once, the Apostle Paul and Silas were having a difficult day in Philippi. They had been preaching the gospel of Jesus. When they cast demons out of a servant girl, her master was furious, for the girl had earned him a lot of money by telling people’s fortunes. So the owner incited a riot. The rulers of Philippi had Paul and Silas severely beaten and thrown into the darkest prison.

But the two Christians were not defeated! While they sat there in the darkness, they began to sing songs to God. The other prisoners heard them. Then God sent a great earthquake, opened the prison doors, and broke the chains off all the prisoners!

The jailer, knowing that he would be executed if the prisoners escaped, drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

The jailer cried out, “What must I do to be saved?”

Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!”

We now find our entire nation and, indeed the whole earth, battling a menacing foe: a pandemic. What can we do?

The answer remains the same as when Paul gave it over two thousand years ago: We must believe on Jesus – throw our trust on Him. After doing this, we can sing praises to God, laugh in the face of danger, lift each other up with humor and understanding, love one another joyfully, help those who are struggling, and stick together.  We can be generous with our smiles, for they can travel beyond social distancing to lift someone else up.

We can live in joyful trust in the One who loves us so much that he gave his one and only Son, Jesus, for us.

Joy dispels darkness. The joy of the Lord is our strength!

Who can you lift up today?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV

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Strength in Laughter – encouragement from Sheri Schofield on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

sheri schofieldAbout the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!

Read Sheri and her husband’s amazing story in One Step Ahead of the Devil: A Powerful Love Story. Thrust into national politics because of her husband’s work, Lissa McCloud struggles to save the life of the man she loves from those who are bent on his destruction. Based on true events, the reader is taken deep into the heart of national politics –all the way to Congress and the President of the United States.

Join the Conversation: What have you found to laugh about during these trying times?

Live, Love, Laugh, Snort

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

I convince myself I’m pretty mature. And then I see somebody run into a door while texting and it all suddenly becomes very clear. Because, let me tell you, I can laugh for a good twenty minutes. Mercilessly. Not just a little, under-the-breath chortle either. No, I’m talking about laughing so hard that no real sound comes out—just those weird, wheezy throat-squeaks. Then tears. Then snorting. That kind of laughter.

Videos of people stumbling? Don’t even get me started because I can laugh until I nearly pull something. Like a muscle or a spleen or whatever. Which, ironically, might mean that I fare worse than the people I’m watching stumble.

So now that I’ve owned up to my immature laughter, I might as well go ahead and confess that I also laugh at my own jokes. Uproariously. If I say something I think is funny and you don’t laugh, just be ready for me to repeat it with a rising level of volume and obnoxiousness. I have a lot of stamina. You will laugh.

We’re told that “a joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22, HCSB) and, not that we needed it to, but science backs it up. I’ve heard that joyful-hearted laughter can boost immunities, decrease pain, reduce heart disease and help with weight and sleeping issues. Wow, why aren’t we taking more of this medicine?

In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He kicked off His teaching with the Beatitudes, His beautiful list of “blesseds.” The word translated “blessed” here is from the Greek, makarios, and it means contented, blissful…happy. But then we look at those Beatitudes and see that “poor in spirit” and “mournful” top the list. It’s a list that takes us all the way to “persecuted.” I know it’s already clear that I’m not the best at deciding what should make us smile, but at first glance, this list doesn’t seem any too joy-inducing to me.

In His day, these words of Jesus were groundbreaking. He changed the way people thought about joy. And though it’s been studied from every direction since, the concept is still revolutionary. Outside of Christ, people generally understand happiness to be all wrapped up in their ability to do whatever they want, whenever they want. They think it’s mostly about having things and money and power. But Jesus taught from that mount—and by His life—that we’re called to think differently.

Makarios refers to a happiness that doesn’t depend on circumstances. The first two Beatitudes, “blessed are the poor in spirit” and “blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:3-4, ESV), usher us into this new way of thinking. It’s the gospel way of thinking. Real happiness doesn’t happen until we come to grips with the fact that our soul is utterly impoverished apart from Christ and until we deeply mourn over our sin. Embracing the gospel causes us to look at every single one of those Beatitudes in an entirely new light.

Paul said in Philippians 2:5, “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus” (HCSB). I’m praying that I really will mature there—no stumbling. That I will think more like Jesus and look more like Jesus and be more like Jesus. I’m praying it will spill over into how I share His gospel and love on His people. And that He will be my joy. And that it will morph into all kinds of laughter. Even the wheezy-snorty kind.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,  that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30:11-12 NIV

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Live, love, laugh, snort—finding true joy – @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: What was your most recent laugh?

Laughter: No Prescription Required!

by Deb DeArmond @DebDeArmond

My husband and I love ice cream. And not just any ice cream, but the flavors Cherry Pecan for him and Cappuccino Chocolate Crunch for me. We visit our favorite local shop often. More often than my cardiologist might prefer, but I’ve not detailed my obsession to him or the frequency with which I indulge.

We have a “standing” order. A hot fudge sundae for each (!) with our specific favorite ice cream flavor. The kid at the drive-through, Ed, knows us well. I once informed him if he didn’t see us over the course of a week, she should call the police and report us missing. He laughed. So did we.

So, it was an interesting evening when Ed was off, and the young woman at the drive through was unaware of our VIP status. Ron placed our order as always. The reply was jarring: “I’m sorry, sir. We’re all out of Cappuccino Chocolate Crunch.”

This was new.

My husband looked at me with raised eyebrows. “So what do you want?”

I thought for a moment. “I have no ideas what flavors they carry other than our two. No clue.”

Without missing a beat, Ron turned to the menu board speaker. “That’s okay. We’ll wait.”

There was a long silence, followed with “I’m sorry sir. I don’t know what that means.”

I began to laugh. I think I snorted a little. Ron clarified. “We’ll have to come in and see what’s available.”

I laughed as we pulled around and parked. I laughed as I exited the car. I was still laughing and gasping for breath as we entered the building. My mother would have described it as “carrying on out of control.” She’d have been right.

It’s a small store. We could see the girl from the drive through window who looked at us like maniacs. It made me laugh harder. People gave us a wide berth.

“Cappuccino Chocolate Crunch?” asked the manager. I nodded. It was the best I could do in the moment. “I got ya covered.” He went to the freezer and grabbed a pre-pack take home gallon and popped the lid. Crisis averted.

Nothing makes me happier than a good chuckle, a guffaw or a hearty laugh as part of a faith-filled life. It’s a gift that can break the tension, create connection, and celebrate silliness.

The Bible makes it clear that God believes humor should be on the agenda as a healthy habit. Proverbs 17:22 NKJ says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine.” The words laugh and laughter are mentioned 200 times in the Bible.

Some of those times are not happy moments, such as the laugh of unbelief (Gen. 11-12, 15), the laughter of a fool (Eccl.7:6), and the laughter of derision (Prov. 1:24-26).

But the fourth type of laughter is a healthy expression which brings richness to our lives. Here are a few good examples of why God’s people should have a good laugh:

  • Lack of fear – “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25 NLT)
  • Happiness and connection – “Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.” (Romans 12:15 MSG)
  • Joy – “God will let you laugh again; you’ll raise the roof with shouts of joy.” (Job 8:21 MSG)
  • Relief – “Good people will watch and worship. They’ll laugh in relief.” (Psalm 52:6 MSG)
  • God is acting on our behalf – “When the righteous see God in action they’ll laugh, they’ll sing, they’ll laugh and sing for joy.” (Psalm 68:3 MSG)
  • Good fortune – “We laughed, we sang, we couldn’t believe our good fortune.” (Psalm 126:2 MSG)
  • It blesses God – Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.” (Psalm 100:2 MSG)

In other words, while life here on earth is sometimes no joke, laughter is appropriate, healthy, and pleasing to God. So, tune up those vocal chords and let loose a giggle or guffaw, a chortle or chuckle, a snicker, a snort or a shout. Let it fly and exclaim to the world the goodness of God!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 NIV

4 Types of Laughter—With No Prescription Required – @DebDeArmond on @AriseDaily (Click to Tweet)

DeArmond-29 copyAbout the authorDeb DeArmond is an expert in the fields of communication, relationship, and conflict resolution. A writer and professional speaker, Deb addresses topics related to the family and women. Her books include: Related by Chance, Family by ChoiceI Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last and Don’t Go to Bed Angry. Stay Up and Fight! Deb’s books help readers, whether engaged, newlywed, or long-time married, create the life God meant marriage and family to be. You can read more from Deb at Family Matters/Deb.

Join the conversation: When is the last time you had a good laugh? Please share so that we can laugh along with you!