Posted in focus on faith, need a laugh?

We Laugh Here

IMG_1003The first thing people see as they enter my home, besides me that is, is the framed photo of Nancy. Nancy’s afro draws the first curious glance but the tiny caption which calls visitors to lean in close is what gets the laugh: Nancy always had thick ankles, but no one really noticed.  

Originally a Thank You card from a friend, “Nancy” so encapsulated the quirky sense of humour I enjoy, I had it framed and hung it strategically across from our front door. Why? I want people to know we laugh here. 

And just in case they miss Nancy, there are two more hints in the guest bathroom. Directly across from the throne is a pristine starched white hand towel — the kind nobody ever actually dries their hands on. On it are these words: I’m afraid there is no PMS and this is my personality. This was a gift from a sister years ago and I’ve always wondered if she was trying to tell me something. Ah well, if the shoe fits….

And finally, when the guest washes up, there is the colourful metalwork plaque behind the faucet: Mirror, mirror on the wall…what the heck happened?! 

We laugh here! And I want people to know it.

What about God? The Word? Our faith? Do people know we are believers when they come to our home. They’d have to be blind and deaf to miss it! The place is littered with Bibles, Christian books, framed Scripture. I think it is important to let people know I am a Christ follower. But before they get scared that I will beat them over the head with my faith, I want them to know, we laugh here.

Not everybody does, you know. Laugh, that is.

We have been in homes where they don’t. We have had people come to our home and thank us for the laughter. Some confide that they rarely laugh at their home. They wish they did, they add wistfully.

I’ve met many believers who talk about the joy of the Lord but they forgot to send the memo to their face.

George McDonald says: It is the Heart that is not yet sure of its God that is afraid to laugh in His presence.

Not everybody is born with a sense of humour. I wasn’t. Just ask my sister, 10 years my senior. She shared briefly about our family of origin at my Birthday Bash last Spring and finished with this: Connie was a beautiful little girl with her wavy blond hair and blue eyes. But she wasn’t happy. Mmm-hmm, she was an unhappy child…. Then she sat down. She wasn’t kidding. I thought it was hilarious! And I am really glad she set the record straight because, obviously something changed!

I am so glad God taught me how to laugh. It involved following Him into some real suffering and challenges. But I am thrilled to report that the things that made me the maddest, that frustrated me the most, and that scared the p_ _p right out of me are the very stories I have been telling audiences for years. And we laugh. I laugh so hard I can barely get to the punch line!

Still not convinced? Here’s what the Bible says:

A feast is prepared for laughter,
and wine makes life happy,
and money is the answer for everything. Ecclesiastes 10:19

Words to live by…grin.

If your home is laugh-starved, ask God to help you set a new tone. Just follow Him, one laugh at a time. Laughter is attractive. It’s contagious. It’s healing and comforting. It releases tension. It’s a gift from God and it guarantees that when you grow up,  you’ll have wrinkles in all the right places.

Posted in need a laugh?, tips for speakers

7 Compelling Reasons you need Laughter at your next Outreach Event

IMG_3324Did Jesus laugh? We know Jesus wept. The shortest verse in the bible says so. But there is no corresponding verse to John 11:35 that says, “Jesus laughed.” Or even grinned!

What then are to make of the fact that there are hundreds of biblical references to joy? Do joyful people laugh? You bet they do. And it’s contagious. Because I have made people laugh at hundreds of events since 1999, I have seen what laughter can bring to a group.

The typical checklist for what we want at an event includes prayer, sound biblical teaching, practical help for Christian living, encouragement, inspiration, and lots of chocolate. Here are seven compelling reasons why we need to add one more thing to our next Christian women’s outreach event checklist: guaranteed laughs.

  1. Laughter is inviting: You want people to come to your event. And you want people to come back next time. The primary purpose for most Christian events is to connect people to Jesus and to your Christian community. A guaranteed good time is a strong invitation.
  2. Laughter is attractive: Our best Christian witness is a happy life. Most people want to be happy. If they see the joy we have and the way we share that joy – often, but not always, in the form of laughter – then they want it too. (Note: a “happy life” is not free of tragedy, loss, betrayal or suffering. It is a life characterized by the joy of the Lord in the midst of difficulties and challenges)
  3. Laughter is the best medicine: A good laugh makes you feel better. Laughter might not cure what ails you but it certainly puts it out of your mind for a while. There is so much pain and suffering in real life, people need to get relief that doesn’t destroy their liver!
  4. Laughter is the “spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down”: Real healing often means we have to deal with our “stuff.” In order to help people, they need to be made aware of nasty things like selfishness, greed, jealousy, pride, in a word, sin. Tough love is easier to swallow if it is coated with a little sugar!
  5. Shared laughter builds trust: It is much easier to trust a friend than a stranger. People never laugh with their enemies but with their friends. A roomful of laughing people feels a lot friendlier to someone who might have come in the door hesitantly.
  6. Laughter builds bridges: People who might otherwise think they have nothing in common with “church people” can see that the Christian life can be rich and meaningful and joyful.
  7. Laughter can signal a new beginning: there will be people in every crowd who literally have not laughed since their most recent tragedy. I have often had people thank me after a hilarious talk with words like this: “You made me laugh. I didn’t realize how badly I needed that. I haven’t laughed since I lost my husband (child/mother/marriage) three weeks (months/years) ago. For the first time, I think there might be hope that I can live again.” The irony is, every single time this happens to me, it makes me cry! But they are tears of sympathy and joy.

 

Posted in need a laugh?, tips for speakers

Three Ways to Inject Laughter into your next Outreach Event

 IMG_1160We have all been to events that were so much fun we lingered later than we planned, laughed more than we expected, and left feeling glad we went even though hours earlier we had a hundred excuses why we should stay home.

Why did we have fun? It could have been a number of factors ranging from the logistics to the guest list to the program to the refreshments to how we felt in our new outfit. The common denominator if you were to poll the guests after the fact is probably something as simple as: “I had fun because it was fun – I laughed.”

Laughter brings a guaranteed return on the investment of time it takes to inject some humor into an event. If your guests laughed that is a pretty good indication that they had a good time and they will come to your next event. That is why I think it is so important for Christian event planners to make sure they include “laughter” on the checklist of things they need for their next outreach event.

We’ve all met fun-loving people – maybe you are one – who know how to have a good time and they bring laughter wherever they go. My sister Lisa is like that. The minute she walks in the door at a family get-together, she always announces: “I’m here! Let the fun begin!” And it does! She brings it with her in the form of games, contests, funny stories and family lore.

Sadly, my sister Lisa is not for hire. So let’s look at some sure-fire things you can do to include humor in your next outreach event.

  1. Personally invite fun-loving people to attend: You might even consider offering some of them scholarships or discounts! A board game that made me shriek with laughter with one group of friends felt like a funeral mass with a different group a week later. Obviously it wasn’t the game (or me!) that was funny it was the group of game players. Make an effort to find “gamers” who know how to have fun and pepper your audience with as many of these fun-loving people as you can. The value of what they have to give (shared laughter) is as important as what they can get by attending.
  2. Make sure at least one program personality is funny: It doesn’t matter whether it’s the emcee, a special guest who does fun music or sketch comedy, or the speaker as long as someone brings some levity from the platform. This is important because if it comes from the platform, it gives permission to the audience to relax and enjoy themselves. It sets a joyful, fun-loving tone for the whole event. This doesn’t mean there won’t be seriousness and even tears; just as you can set a tone for fun you can shift the tone into weightier concerns when the time is right.
  3. Include fun in your program: What about an un-fashion show? The more outlandish the outfit, the better. Or a demonstration of what not to do in home decor or home reno. Old standbys like skits, games, contests or short videos also work. Not every event needs these add-ons; because I am a comedic speaker, sometimes the program is simply “sweets and me”! They eat chocolate and laugh at my stories and go home happy. But maybe your next event doesn’t have a funny speaker and you still want people to laugh because you know laughter will help them relax and be more open to receiving whatever it is your wonderful speaker wants to impart. In that case, look for something people can either watch or participate in that will get them laughing. The Internet and fun-loving people you trust are your best resources.

One final thought for you to gnaw on: La Chapelle, a new church in Montreal Quebec, is attracting and winning people to Jesus by the hundreds. Last year they baptized 70 converts. Pastor David Pothier attributes their growth to their willingness to adapt their timeless message (the gospel) to a new methodology: “We are constantly driven and focused on reaching people. We do and think everything through that lens.” One of the items on a short list of essentials for Sunday Worship is humor. Pastor Pothier knows the value of shared laughter in building trust, breaking down barriers and establishing community. Humor is a valuable tool – don’t underestimate its importance.

 

Posted in need a laugh?

Need a laugh? Meet my sister Margy.

naughty dogMargy’s Facebook Post this Christmas:

The busy, “naughty pet” owner’s Christmas To Do List:

Friday: Finish wrapping gifts. Place gifts under tree. Prepare guest rooms. Dig kitten out of Christmas tree. Redecorate tree.

Saturday: Rewrap gifts destroyed by naughty pets. Laugh at silly antics of pets. Dig kitten out of Christmas tree. Redecorate tree. Shake dirt off tablecloth from kitty digging in poinsettias. Take stock of grocery needs.

Sunday: Rewrap gifts destroyed by naughty pets. Reprimand pets. Dig kitten out of Christmas tree. Redecorate tree. Shake kitten. Shake dirt off tablecloth from kitty digging in poinsettia. Get groceries. Buy more gift wrap. Buy more tape.

Monday: Rewrap gifts destroyed by naughty pets. Dig kitten out of Christmas tree. Redecorate tree. Shake dirt off tablecloth from kitty digging in poinsettias. Tie up naughty dogs. Lock kitten in kennel for 10 minutes. Prepare wife saver breakfast for Christmas morning.

Tuesday (Christmas Eve): Rewrap gifts destroyed by naughty pets. Dig kitten out of Christmas tree. Redecorate tree. Shake dirt off tablecloth from kitty digging in poinsettias. Yell at @#%!! pets. Place naughty dogs and kitten in kennel for 4 hours (oops forgot they were in there). Clean bathrooms. Welcome guests (who brought their dogs). Slip into bedroom and sneak a swig.

Wednesday CHRISTMAS DAY: Get up. Kick fallen Christmas tree ornaments across the room. Hand out gifts already unwrapped by pets. Drink cup of coffee with a healthy dose of “special creamer”. Have a laugh.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!