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adaption, dying well, elder care, family caregiving, ingenuity, literary, Lynn Byk, Mister B, op-ed, winter

The Pinch

Lynn Byk, Author
Mister B:  Living with a 98-Year-Old Rocket Scientist

Mister B had been vying for the certificate of blindness since he’d turned 96, seven years prior. His January hobby was to study and search the IRS Publication 17 each year, and he’d done his own taxes until age 100.

When Joe saw that his taxes were getting adjusted by the taxing authorities two years in a row, he decided this meant that he was no longer capable of understanding how to report them.

Last month, at 103-years of age, my father-in-law finally received a certificate of blindness from his eye doctor. It was in answer to another of his badgering requests so that he could file it with his 2020 taxes.

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Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

I fished out this portion of our joint memoir for whomever reads this blog. You can tell that he is not only going blind at this juncture, but deaf as well.

We’ve had a fun spin this morning getting all the things done on Mister B’s list. He turns suddenly to applaud our execution of a morning to-do list, “Wow! You solved all my problems in an hour and we still have time for books!” I turn the wheels towards the library looking at the wide empty soccer park of stark, winter grass and note, “Where are the geese, Mr. B?”

“The heat?”

“No, the GEESE.”

“Where’s the beef? Oh, you’re trying to be funny.”

“No, the GEESE! In the park!” I flutter my arms and point.

“A treat? You don’t have to overreact like that.”

In the library, he forgets that he’s already picked up the federal tax forms, so he makes his way over to pick up a couple more.

On the way home, he taps his tax documents and spouts, “Hey, I think we should get a deduction for my blindness. Can you look into that for me?”

“You aren’t exactly blind, Mr. B. You’ve been reading for the last hour.”

“Well, I know,” he admits, “but there has to be some sort of stepped up percentage, some standard you can find out about, and you know I am blind in the one eye and I have this mascular deterioration too.”

I about lose it with the “mascular deterioration” and am pursing my lips, trying to hide my amusement, when he says, “You know, if I could get another $1,200 off my taxes, you and me could go out to Ted’s Montana Grill!” He wraps his hand in the crook of my elbow and snuggles up.

“Now you’re thinking, Mr. B., but really, you’ve already made my day.”

This week’s events prove there’s nothing more sure than death and taxes as the wheels of life moved ’round us.

My dear man breathed his final breath–to our complete shock. We were not ready to let go. Undulating lost feelings, an empty house, and reflections that he won’t be needing the bananas, oxygen, and pills this week were felt among currents moving side-by-side in streams of wonder recognizing the Lord’s compassion for him and for us as things occurred, and arching overall was a desperate hope of glory.

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Photo by Sohel Patel on Pexels.com

Mister B, Joe, had managed to pick out every corner of every walnut shell in his New England basket. He’d managed to rock a rut in the new carpet.  He’d managed to entertain his hospice caregivers for nine months with stories. He’d outlived all of his siblings and far-flung relatives. We’d managed to capture his DNA and confirm all the suspicions about his Baltic sea coastal father’s origin and the soul of his Polish mama with a Norwegian slice of pie.

Then, he simply disappeared.  We saw no vapor, no shudder, heard no heave. He was breathing deeply in sleep, he took six shallow breaths, and suddenly he breathed no more.

The day after, wandering through the hall, I peered into his empty bedroom. “Where are you, Mister B?”

A while later, as my husband and I clomped up the stairs bringing tax boxes from the basement–for our ongoing life, I saw Mister B’s script from his doctor lying on top. Damn.  He’ll not get this last pleasure! The irony of it,  although his tax deduction came through, finally. I muse, my chest tightens, and I stomp on the top step because Joe can’t enjoy this poetry having simultaneously shaken hands with death.

In fact, the only time I ever knew Joe to stomp his own foot was the night before he died.  The pain in his chest was “biting” he said.  “Biting” just like his mother’s description of her lung cancer to him the last time he saw her. Throwing out his groans through the house, his howls, his stomps, and finally, his whimpers broke our hearts.  We called the hospice repeatedly and received directions for morphine. And, finally, he slept snoring roundly.

The thing is, so many beautiful things occur between birth, taxes, and death.

Joe’s fortitude happened.

“Old age isn’t for the faint of heart,” he’d say. Indefatigable, Mister B found patience for the long hours of silence which deafness handed to him, meekness at his failing strength to stand and walk.  Interest in the many varieties of soup he downed when his esophagus stopped working. “Why is this happening?  Why can’t the doctor fix it? What kind of credentials makes her a doctor?” Then, acceptance.

His humor shined with polish.

When he needed a handy cherry-red walker near the end, he often grinned grasping the handles toot-tooting like a childish train engineer. He mostly kept his own counsel and his own secrets. Only what benefited his audience escaped his lips.  He’d launch into some political opinion, then, “Why do I care? It won’t matter to me. The world is your oyster now.” And, “thank you”, “I’m so lucky”, and “I appreciate ya” up to his last night. Sometimes he’d list the accolades of his doting valet of a son to me. “I couldn’t have done any better,” he’d say. Other times he’d wonder if my husband cared that he was dating me or that I had two husbands.

Wonder happened.

He was still curious about things he thought he saw or heard, and those conversations could become sheer fantasy of reason or extreme frustrations trying to explain to him that his experience was not logical.

He started uumming over his food and singing.

Patience and humility happened.

His itching and face cancers reminded me of the misery of Job covered in boils. We’d slather Mister B’s head and torso with medicated cream.

Sacred respect happened.

He stopped mocking our dinner prayers and bowed his head every evening, closing his eyes, respectfully. I ached to know it was more than that, but I never will this side of the resurrection. Many times he thought he had to get up to go to work.  It was only right that he should work and share the household burden. Maybe he could get some kind of job…

If you’re one who’s feeling the pinch of a parent’s age and what that might mean, if you’re curious about how a family could learn to love again, and if you’d at least like to consider the value of caring for your elderly parent, I hope you’ll pick up our memoir, MISTER B: LIVING WITH A 98-YEAR-OLD ROCKET SCIENTIST.  I was a most resistant upwardly mobile child, and I was wooed.

It does take two.  Both sides had to budge. Both sides had to be open to learn respect. He led the way by deferring to us, “You kids take this over.  Why do I need it?  I’ve lived my life.” Or, “You decide. I trust you.”

My husband says his father had become someone he’d never known prior to these final years. Tears have rolled wetting his face many times this week. “Thank you, Dad, for loving me, for teaching me how to live this life.” These were his last intimate words to his father.

But if it’s true that the amount of tears shed relates to the amount of love you hold in your heart for one who’s passed, it’s also true that living in the wonder of Mister B’s company, I became a vastly different person during these past six and a half years.

My takeaways:

  1. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  (Galatians 6:9)
  2. All of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Peter 3:8)
  3. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not extinguish the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5: 17-19)
  4. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)
  5. Math, accuracy, and facts are intrinsic to a good long life. You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 25:15)

Mister B stacked 1

breath of joy, greeting cards, Kathy Joy, literary, Taxes, Money, Law, winter

Poetry Tax

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Photo by Mateusz Dach on Pexels.com
By Kathy Joy
Author of Breath of Joy Gift Books

If I were stranded on a remote island in the middle of the deep blue sea and given only two choices on which to survive – words or numbers – I’d choose words.

Words can paint poetry.

Words sail over an aching heart, whispering strength.

Words bolster up the discouraged; they call armies into battle.

Words inside of prayers have the power to storm the very gates of heaven.

Words form apologies, mend fences, bring loved ones back into the fold.

Words, words, words.

I’ll call my little dot in the sea The Island of Poems.

Numbers?

Yeah, not so much.

Unless, of course, you are a numbers person. If you’re a numbers person, then you would be in your zen, surrounded by facts and figures, numbers and percentages.

That island is called The Island of Numbers.

I think you Island of Numbers dwellers are amazing and a little bit mysterious. Because, why you’d want to crunch numbers all day – particularly, somebody else’s numbers – is beyond my scope of imagination.

But I’m so glad you belong on that island, because we, the taxpayers, need you.

We need you to rescue us from our fear of numbers.

And our fear of the Unknown.

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Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

This past year, a new thing was launched–a thing called the Internet Sales Tax, and honestly, it’s got me a little wigged out. Consumers don’t think they need poetry and books the way they need technology, clothing and appliances. When authors and poets make so little on a book as it is, I find it intimidating to navigate the calculations and reports that might be required to justify what I already know to be a valid, consumable necessity.

It feels counter-intuitive, like showing up for battle unarmed.

We authors may as well call it the Poetry Tax.

There was a time, way back, when I warmed up to numbers as potential allies; friends, even.

It was in college, during a class in Math 101. The professor said it this way: “A math equation is beautiful, in the same way, a poem is beautiful.”

He had me at poetry. I leaned forward. I started taking notes.

All because of his many references to words, I passed that course and lived to tell about it. I remember in my notebook, I started lining up numbers in stanzas, or sometimes in free verse. The affinity to words actually helped me form an alliance with a required math course.

Numbers aren’t so scary when they flow like a well-metered poem.

In my book, Breath of Joy! Winter Whispers, there’s an entire page devoted to tax preparation:

“When the holiday table morphs into the dreaded paper melee of annual accounting…and an advisor singing the music that paying higher taxes is not all bad, for retirement payouts are based on them.”

My editor was so jazzed about putting a positive spin on tax season.

Taxes and tax preparation, in my estimation, have forevermore been a necessary evil in the throes of winter.

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But she was relentless. “We need this phase of wintertime,” she insisted. “It’s part of the season.”

Turns out, she was right. Readers often point out this page as “a refreshing look at a gloomy task”, and “a reminder to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s”, a reference to Matthew 22:21.

However, as I approach my own season of retirement, I’m beginning to see at least one of the benefits of gathering in all the papers, the receipts, the records.

Accuracy will ensure my future; integrity will protect me and also my children.

It’s not always about the amount of the return, or the date it hits your bank account, or how you might spend the proceeds.

It’s really about the annual passage from a messy pile of papers to a tidy result that’s beautiful – like a poem.

Please visit the link to see my newly-launched book, “Breath of Joy! Winter Whispers in the greeting card version. Or, check out the hardcover coffee table book version here.

This blog, Coffee with Kathy, was reprinted by permission of the author. We appreciate Kathy Joy’s support of www.booksforbondinghearts.com/shop, timely gifts for all seasons.

Faith, Soothing Rain, Taxes, Money, Law, Tonya Jewel Blessing, winter

A Clear Conscience

By Tonya Jewel Blessing  
christonyablessing@gmail.com

My recent novel, The Melody of the Mulberries, set in Appalachia in the late 1920s, includes a continued racial and legal dilemma from the first story in the Big Creek series. At that time, and until the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of Loving v. Virginia, it was against the law for people of different skin colors to marry. The characters in my story are forced to make the difficult decision of obeying or disobeying the law.Interracial Marriage Date Map by State

I won’t give away what happens in The Melody of the Mulberries, but the situation addressed certainly gives food for thought, and it runs into another issue that is often difficult to obey.

PAYING TAXES

I often have a bad attitude about income taxes. A couple of years ago, I prepared the information, sent it off to the accountant, and then received a coupon of sorts which I mailed to the I.R.S. with the additional taxes owed.

I then realized when reviewing the income tax return that I’d made a mistake.

To correct the mistake meant paying additional tax preparation fees and also additional money owed to the government.

In all honesty, I waffled back and forth for a couple days about correcting the information. I am not sure what that says about my character but since the amount was trivial it didn’t seem worth my effort, the efforts of our ministry bookkeeper, or the efforts of our already extremely busy accountant.

THEN, during my personal time with God, I read Romans 13.

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Photo by Artem on Pexels.com

“Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.” (Romans 13:7 NLT)

The passage begins by discussing the importance of submitting to governing authorities. Authority comes from God, and that those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

Romans 13:2 goes a step further in saying that those who rebel against authority are rebelling against what God instituted. Romans 13:4 (NLT) states, “The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course, you should be afraid for they have the power to punish you.”

As I continued my study in Romans, the following verse gave clear direction about my tax dilemma, “Pay your taxes, too…” (Romans 13:6 NLT). I sent the corrected information to the accountant, and the return was amended, and additional money paid.

For the record, I don’t believe in blind obedience. I don’t believe in following an institution that doesn’t follow God, but I do believe God puts people in all types of authority (family, church, communities, politics), and, as a Christian, I am mandated by God to recognize authority, pray for those in authority and to be respectful and honoring of those in leadership.

As a gentle reminder, it is very important to file taxes on time!

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/what-are-the-benefits-of-filing-and-paying-my-taxes-on-time-irs-options-can-help

 Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers about the importance of timely filing and paying their taxes, and that there are several options available to help people having trouble paying.

For those who need it, here is a list of Free Tax Preparation Software.

Taxpayers should file on time, even if they can’t pay the full amount due. Then, they should pay the rest as soon as they can. Remember, the sooner paid, the less owed.

Benefits

  • Avoid added interest and penalties.
  • Avoid losing future refunds. Part or all of any refund is first used to pay any back taxes owed.
  • Safeguard credit. If the IRS files a tax lien against a taxpayer, it could affect credit scores and make it harder to get a loan.

a) When is it okay to break the law?

b) In the times in which we live, what circumstances might we face where that decision would need to be made?

c) If we suffer for obeying authorities, will the Lord show Himself faithful to us?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
New, 2019! Book Two, The Melody of the Mulberries sends sixteen-year-old Coral Ashby in search of a Charleston prisoner. Charlie is being held for crimes committed against her family. Her family is not happy about this adventure, and Ernest is faced with dilemmas of the heart and duty.
Soothing Rain, thema, Tonya Jewel Blessing

Racism, an Author’s Thoughts

Tonya Jewel Blessing
Big Creek Appalachian Series
Soothing Rain, Discussion Starter

Racism is a Belief in the Superiority of One Race Over Another

Modern variants of racism are often based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples. . .

Big Creek Audio Libraries Ebook
Big Creek Appalachian Series Book Two: THE MELODY OF THE MULBERRIES BOOK LAUNCH TOUR

Racism is a difficult topic to address. I live in a country (South Africa) were racism is openly displayed. Discrimination is deeply rooted, and even encouraged. The encouragement, for the most part, however, comes from an unusual source. A corrupt government system that steals from people of all races controls the masses by pitting them against each other. When unfair government practices are exposed, false leaders deflect their corruptness by blaming different ethnicities. Wounds of the past aren’t healed because it benefits deceptive leaders to keep picking at the scab of racism.

Years ago, when I worked as a schoolteacher, I was troubled by a pre-teen boy who used the term “racism” repeatedly to justify bad grades, unwise choices, and naughty behavior. Racism exists all over the world, but to call something racism because it’s a convenient excuse diminishes the struggle and antagonism faced by so many.

Chris and I recently attended a dinner party. A young woman in attendance obviously had an agenda in mind for the evening. The topic of racism was brought to the table repeatedly. The woman had strong convictions about what racism looked like and shared several stories about how her friends had experienced injustices. When a disagreement about the subject came to light, she informed the group that people of a certain age couldn’t truly understand racism. The woman discounted that the small group present were seasoned Christians who had dedicated their lives to serving the poor in body, soul, or spirit without regard for race.

Again, racism is a difficult topic to address. Opinions about what racism looks like seem wide and varied.

Everyone needs to hear about God’s great love.  The Bible tells us that whosoever calls upon the name of Jesus will be saved. Jesus’ ministry was not limited by someone’s color of skin, economic background, religious understanding, or anything else for that matter. According to Scripture, Jesus touched the lives of those who crossed His path and were interested in hearing His truth.

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 It isn’t racist to be curious and learn about other people. It also isn’t racist to create dialog and understanding among different ethnicities. Those type of encounters should endear us to one another and create a platform for reflecting the love of Christ. 

Christmas time, and every season for that matter, should be about Jesus – living for Jesus, serving Jesus, and sharing His Good News for hope on earth and eternal salvation.

Uncategorized

The Primary Way a Fan Can Help

Hi, […] I can’t tell you the wonder that your book brought to me.  Thank you, thank you.  I would like to buy several copies.  How do I go about doing that so that you would benefit the most?  Thank you again for the sunshine you brought to us. – Love, Nettie

One of our popular authors at Capture Books received this message and then quickly sent a note to the agent, “When I answer her, I should say I’ll benefit the most from selling the books to her – outright — is that correct?”

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This is a common question and dilemma for young authors. On one hand, you make more money off of the books you have in stock because you have removed the middle-man by selling them yourself. So, what would you do?

Well, let’s look at it another way.

If she buys directly from you, the author, you will have to

  • purchase a mailer for the book ($4-7) then
  • mail the book to them ($4-13)
  • make it look professional with a nice label, packing and tape. ($2-4)

How much will all of this cost you?

You incur double the shipping expenses if you mail books out again from your local post office because you’ve already purchased and shipped these books to yourself once.

Also, shipping them out again will cause you to have to replenish your personal stock sooner.

Not only that, but if you pay handling fees, you are wasting money by misusing the books you’ve sent to yourself.

Unless you are visiting someone in person, and you hand over several books in the process of a visit, shipping from your own home stock of books is not your best value. It is almost always best to use the books received at your home base for author appearances at events, stores, retreats, and occasional visits with people who ask for your book over lunch. Autograph parties and targeted promotional events or handouts for targeted charity events or clubs will diminish your personal stock of books quickly enough if you are doing your own publicity.  This is what you should be doing with your personal stock of books, author friend.

So, to answer the question posed by the eager fan to our author, the best way to benefit your grassroots reputation and movement of books in the wider market is to ask the fan to order from Barnes & Noble or from her own favorite independent bookshop.  Why?

It makes the store manager aware of your book. It has to pass through several hands before the bookstore clerk hands it over to our new fan, who ordered it.  See how many people have been introduced to it then? 

  1. the manager, (even if it is just listed as a book that was ordered on a sales sheet)
  2. the intake clerk who places the order, and
  3. the box clerk in the back who receives the order.

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And, you will influence a whole new store to consider shelving/stocking your book!  (Free publicity). Wait. Do I need to shout that out again? FREE PUBLICITY. Any business owner gets it.


If your new fan calls a bookstore, neither of you nor your fan have to pay shipping (Let her know this). Costs of shipping typically falls on a bookstore as their expense. You will still make your regular brick ‘n mortar bookstore money $1-3 per book, but you won’t have to do the work, or buy a shipping box and label, spend gas to mail it, and valuable time.

Primarily, it is the free publicity that you are after here. When someone wants to help you out, either ask them to ask for your book at their local library, or ask them to order the book from a store or both.

Ordering from an online source, such as Christianbooks.com is another way to establish a grass roots interest, however, these secondary online sites do not stock your book, and so they simply place an order with the supplier for the purchaser, and do not see the book itself since it is not handled by them.

It is the grassroots call for your book that makes thoseteam-motivation-teamwork-together-53958 controlling your book’s future, sit up and take notice.

Once you begin to experience the high costs of regular advertising, you will see the wisdom in this advice.

 

Be sure to thank you new fan honestly and from the heart. Her eagerness to help you succeed is a personal display of willingness to help you in the future.

  1. Perhaps, in your return communication you can ask them to give you the name of an event planner or retreat co-ordinator for a speaking referral.
  2. Perhaps, after you have established a happy customer, you can follow up and ask for a book review on Amazon or Goodreads or the Nook or ChristianBooks.com.

ALWAYS appeal to your widest market opportunity.

 

 

 

Humor, ingenuity, Laura Bartnick, literary

Oh, What Extravagance To Laugh

Laura Bartnick, Publishing Partner, Capture Books
Welcome to the Shivoo: Creatives Mimicking the Creator

A shivoo is a boisterous load of fun! The maker culture understands good fun. There was, however, a century or two in church history where humor was considered sacrilegious.

Bad luck wedding pillowHistorically, if rectors or ministers wasted their parishioners’ time by telling jokes in the pulpit, they were sorely reprimanded or even discharged for desecrating a holy calling.

Maybe the governing bodies had a point. After all, there is no verse of Scripture that instructs good Christians to be silly or to laugh.

A doctrine of good humor may be difficult to pull out of Scripture by chapter and verse. But there are parallels in the extravagance of good humor compared with the extravagance of God’s rich tenderness for us.  For, God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 2:4-5). Don’t we know that life without laughter is a living death?  Life without God’s powerful rescue through His Son’s work is permanent death. Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children (1 John 3:1).  What loving parent doesn’t thoroughly enjoy the learning curves of a beloved child in speech, in toddling, in playing . . . pretending, and in the ongoing wonders of discovery?

These days, getting the laughter rolling in a spiritual education class and also in the pulpit enjoys an allotted time-frame.

It is counter-intuitive to look on the funny side of the events rather than the logical and just side of things. There’s a special form of intelligence to brandish the one-liners rather than the guilt. And, that’s what God did for us by sending a counter-intuitive way out of the punishment that He Himself instituted (death for sin). And, a counter-intuitive personal sacrifice (His beloved genetic Son’s life for ours’, the created ones) is what became the model and essence of all goodwill.

I’ve used a lot of silly words in my book’s essays for the purpose of lighting up some ideas being conveyed. Does this technique make it fall into the secular box for you rather than into the “sacred speech” box?

WHERE IS THE HUMOR?

Before we separate and relieve serious teaching and preaching of lightweight joking or wry and witty smart talk, we want to consider the importance that the Lord Himself puts on cultivating the fruits of the Spirit. Goodwill, love, kindness, graciousness, contentment, redemption, joy, all spring from the development of good humor.[i]

Humor is offered to us and experienced in the array of animals and animal antics we enjoy. Children also, whom God created, make us laugh in their innocence and also in their naughtiness, causing us to be less judgmental and less harsh. Christians are mandated to practice attributes of good humor. Besides this, God created Mark Lowry, Tim Hawkins, Chonda Pierce, Michael Junior, Ken DavisTaylor Mason,  Brad Stine, Rich Praytor, Thor Ramsey, Jeff Allen, and Aaron Wilburnwe can, therefore, absolutely conclude that humor is sacred to God.

Maybe the Lord assumed that human beings would not have to be supplied with chapter and verse to discover the importance of laughter. Instead, He taught us through His own creativity and example of creation so that we should pick up and ingest the ability to mimic His goodwill and good humor through personal experience and natural expression.

I love that God is an entertainer, and when we mimic Him, we become the best lil’ entertainers we can be ourselves. My fellow writer, Kathy Joy, is a humorist who couldn’t help but write me this note, “Glad to know Shiv-oo-lery isn’t dead!” after reading this book.  In The Melody of the Mulberries, historic author Tonya Jewel Blessing encompasses her story of a family’s search for forgiveness with the humor of discovering an aging, onery parrot in the Appalachian hills.

Because our Creator’s good humor is modeled for all people by His common grace, potentially all people are able to pick up and mimic God in good humor, kindness, gentleness, forbearance, graciousness, joy and love. All the more then, Christians should open wide, be infilled with the Holy Spirit’s power and with access to the light of God’s written word, and spill it out like rain over others.

The Apostle Paul advocated for remaining in a state of joy at all times when he wrote his letter to the Philippians. In chapter four, verse 4 he states, “Rejoice in the LORD always, and again, I say rejoice!” Rejoice is the active voice of being full of joy. Paul’s mandate to those who are already full of love and knowledge? Hey! Put some notes of happiness into your hearts at all times because of Who the LORD is. Rejoice means “ACTIVATE JOY, PEOPLE! Recycle it. Again, now.”

And because we have confidence in the risen Savior––Who has promised us many benefits in eternal life––shouldn’t we mimic His ironic patience, entertaining goodness, and merriment in our every action and reaction? Proverbs 17:22 clearly equates a merry heart to good (and needed) medicine, using a spice of humor to describe the opposite. A broken spirit tends to dry up the bones.

PRAY FOR BUOYANCY

You cannot manufacture joy.  It is a divine gift that we must submit to, and one that we typically experience when we remain in the LORD’s fellowship. When David was severely disciplined for his theft, adultery, and murder, he repented and then prayed, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation!”[ii] If you lack joy, ask the LORD to open the eyes of your heart. These are a creative’s marching orders: find God’s good humor.

Find the exclamation point.

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Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

You may have already discovered, sometimes incredible amounts of creativity are required to produce buoyancy in conflict. What did the Puritans do without television and radio and cell phones? Maybe they had lively parties with debates, singing and playing instruments, logging uses for medicinal herbs, creating educational material, cooking for groups, planting, harvesting, reading, developing businesses, quilting, writing, storytelling, and reciting. I’m not sure if they danced, but many Christian communities do.

We learn from tragedy, epic or otherwise, but tragedy is a genre of literature—believe it or not— which is considered entertainment. One of the fruits of the Spirit is longsuffering.[i] How can anyone suffer for a long while without some fits of humor to prop them up? Humor is absolutely necessary to human survival, and that is why the Creator gave some to each of us.

Caught me by surprise! throw pillow
Caught me by Surprise! throw pillow LOOK what you did.

When I met my husband, I discovered one of the most delightful senses of humor ever to cross my landscape. I fell in love with him. Gratefully! I had been too serious for way too long. Recently, he told me an old story about how some hungry hospital staff used to steal left-over breakfast items, the “safe” ones, from the top of the trash barrel to eat during the morning break.  The aide, my husband, arrived to scavenge just after the coffee grounds had been tossed on top of a plate of bacon. What did he do? What any low paid, hungry man would do. He washed off the bacon and re-plated it. As he carried his cache into the lounge, a nurse spied him. “I hope you’re planning to share that?” she asked. He shared it. . . in all good humor. My husband confessed this story recently to the nurse Monument to Joy mug frontinitially involved for the purpose of sharing a laugh about the old days—for bonding. For human cheer. What a gracious gift God gives us when He brings us funny people, and stories of situations like that. Some light-hearted communication can bring us great joy.

I think God enjoys silly human jokes.

The end of the book of Jonah shows that God enjoys pulling out a practical joke, or poking a bit of His own irony at Jonah.

I see the humor in Job’s memoir, “Man is born for trouble as sparks fly upward.” The comment is so absolute and desperate and bland, I can’t help but smile.

Can humor haunt you, tag you, gag you when you are too serious? Can it open the shades and throw into a dark room the rays of light?

Yeah, it can for me, too.

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Laura Bartnick is the author of Welcome to the Shivoo! Creatives Mimicking the Creator. This blog post is a selection from it.

[i] Gal. 5:23.

[i] Gal. 5:23 New King James Version.

[ii] Ps. 51:12 New International Version.