Monotony to Monopoly
Sherry Bitler, Guest Writer
Happy is he whose hope is in the Lord his God (Psalm 146:5).
Laughter is a gift that leads me to a grateful heart, a joyful heart. Often laughter helps me see the fun in life or the silliness in our human condition. Fun is not just something we do; it is an attitude. We can enjoy it with friends, but it should start with our family, the people God has given us directly in our circle of influence. Laughter can help build relationships with people we really care about the most. A grateful, merry heart is good medicine.
Patsy Clairmont – an inspirational humor author writes: “I am convinced the Lord who created us in His own image laughs. I’m certain he meant for us to laugh sometimes until we cry as an emotional safety value. He knew life would pile up inside us and a sense of humor would help us to shovel our way out of the serious circumstances. At times laughter must be as sweet an offering to Him as tears and prayers.”
As a mom, do your children hear enough of your laughter to know that you have a grateful heart, that you are grateful for them? Are you teaching your children to use laughter as a means to calm their minds, a tool to build relationships, and a way to celebrate God’s love and gifts to us, a way to experience joy?
Life circumstances and responsibilities can feel overwhelming at times, but intentionally finding laughter can break its grip. I marvel at people who seem to be able to laugh at the everyday things that happen around them. They seem to sincerely enjoy this time on earth God has given them. They don’t allow themselves to take things more seriously than they should. Somehow, for many of us, we let the busyness of our schedules snuff out the laughter. I am thankful for the ‘laughter people’ God has put into my life. They encourage me to laugh more at myself. Even medical experts are discovering laughter can improve our health. Fun can be part of our legacy from one generation to another.
By nature, I am more on the serious side, so in our family, I had to intentionally plan laughter opportunities. Children love to laugh. They can laugh easily. When things seem too still or too serious, breaking out the Monopoly game can revive the atmosphere. In stressful moments consider responding with something silly. At the grocery store, when they are asking for the tenth time if we can get a candy bar, why not respond with “well, maybe we should just get a monkey instead” (I heard this idea from another parent). It throws your child off enough to momentarily forget their demand and get caught up in the silliness instead of their longing to buy something. We can have pet names for our children. We can pretend we are on wild adventures, maybe in faraway places. We can let them do crazy things – like ice cream for breakfast once in a while – and of course, blue pancakes (well, maybe send them to Grammie’s house for those). We can write silly notes on a blackboard or in their lunch boxes. Read silly books. Pretend. Make videos. Wear silly hats (Check out a costume department or even a Goodwill.) Sing loudly. When everyone has their pajamas on and ready for bed – announce a quick trip to a close-by ice cream store, Pajama Run! Write silly stories together, with each person adding a line or staring at each other until someone laughs out loud. If you have a special family night, try going through the alphabet – one night, everything will start with an A word, the next week a B-word – wear colors that begin with that letter or even costumes that start with that letter. Talk about all the things that make each of you laugh.
Laughter can also be painful – we must laugh WITH each other, never AT each other.
If someone is hurt by our laughter, it is not pleasing to God. Sometimes it seems our entire culture enjoys sarcasm. Someone is usually hurt by sarcasm – especially children who don’t really understand the concept. Be careful not to laugh at mistakes until you know the child will not take it personally and is ready to laugh at themselves. “Effective families are families who can laugh together, display affection, talk out problems, emphasize love, take part in church activities, set goals together, do chores together, work together in times of adversity and enjoy extended family.” (Source: Philip Kunz Study)
Be silly at least once a day. A grateful heart can laugh easily and is always fun to be around.
Dear Lord – help me to laugh. Help me to be intentional in bringing laughter into our home. May that laughter keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. May that laughter takes the sting out of a bad day. May that laughter helps me remember Your many blessings to me, especially unconditional love and new mercies every morning. May that laughter or even an intentional smile reminds my heart I am a daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. May I remember that You are writing the story of my day, and it is for my good as I grow in You and as I model Your love to our children and grandchildren.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sherry Bitler, founder of a local traditional Christian School, a home school cooperative school, and a summer program for children at a popular Christian Conference Center. She is a spiritual mother to hundreds of young women. Challenged by her daughter-in-law, she began writing a blog, The Grateful Grammie. She loves time with her husband of 47 years, their four children, their spouses, and twelve grandchildren. Sherry shares more about living with Multiple Sclerosis in the MARKINC, Help & Help Story: When MS is Your Constant Companion.
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