Photo for When You Need a Good Laugh Book

Taken from: When You Need a Good Laugh. Photography copyright © 2013 by Kevin Rivoli. Text copyright © 2013 by Phil Callaway. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon. www.harvesthousepublishers.com. Used by Permission.A friend has this on her voicemail: “I’m not available right now, but thanks for your call. I am making some changes in my life. Please leave a message. If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes.”

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of friendship as a spark plug for laughter. A recent study found that people rarely laugh alone but are six times as likely to laugh in the presence of another and thirty times more likely to laugh when in a group. Like a yawn,
laughter is contagious. You can get a chuckle from jokes and video clips on the Internet but not the powerful rib-tickling, knee-slapping, fall-over laughter you get when it bounces off others. What helps you laugh? For me it’s my kids, my marriage, even my dog.

I got a hamster for my son. It was a pretty good trade.

When our kids were small, we begged them to finish their peas. They became teenagers, and they finished their peas alright. They cleaned their plates. They cleaned our plates. They cleaned out the fridge, the pantry, the freezer—everything but the dishwasher. They wouldn’t touch that.

Ah, kids. We spend the first two years of their lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next sixteen telling them to sit down and be quiet. When they were small, we held them close and prayed they’d stop screaming and sleep through the night. Then they got to be teenagers, and we couldn’t wake them up. They were in the prime sleeping years of their lives. Our son Jeffery slept a world record consecutive twenty-three hours when he was fifteen. I said to my wife, Ramona, “That’s not sleeping. That’s a coma.”

When they were young, we put them in a grocery cart and wheeled them into the store. We tried to switch carts with others; they wouldn’t take our cart. Older people shuffled over and said, “You think things are bad now! You just wait. Soon they’re gonna wanna date and drive your car. Be worried. Be very worried.”

Then they shuffled off to the prune and bran flake aisle.

When the kids entered the teen years, those people were back. “It’s gonna get worse,” they threatened. “You just wait.”

I said, “No, I’m not gonna wait. I’m going to enjoy what I have now. Sure, I spend my days following teenagers around the house shutting lights off. I’ve spent my last fifteen birthdays pretending I like plaid ties and soap-on-a-rope. I carry pictures where my money used to be. But I’m not going to wait. Today is all I get, so I’ll make the most of it.”

Our daughter pasted the Bible verse “Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me” (Psalm 56:1) to her door when she was sixteen. Now she’s in her twenties and finally let a boy catch her. They were married one year ago.

Our son came in one night and said, “Mom, I’d like to bring in three girls, and you have to guess which one I’m going to marry.” Sure enough, he paraded three gorgeous girls into the living room. They conversed with my wife, and finally he said, “Okay, that’s enough. Guess, Mom. Which one is it?”

Ramona pointed at the one in the middle. “Her!”

“Wow, how did you know?”

She said, “I don’t like her.”

The truth is we love this gal. And now that they’re married, we love going to their house and doing things they used to do at our place. We flip lights on, leave the front door open when it’s minus twenty, and put an open jar of mayo on the counter and leave it there overnight. We let taps drip and replace their Michael Bublé CDs with something from Pat Boone—and crank it up. Best of all, we love to sit on their sofa…and neck.

Now we’re going to be grandparents! We don’t know when, but you never know.

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