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April 30, 2012

Baby cardinal
Yesterday after church I took Mollie for a walk around our yard and practically stepped on this baby cardinal (technically a fledgling). Daddy Cardinal was keeping a close eye on me as I snapped this photo of Brooksyne holding the baby bird. * 

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"The Blessing Of Laughter"

"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy" (Job 8:21). Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:2) "A time to weep and a time to laugh" (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

SuspendersFor many years now I (Stephen) have customarily worn suspenders. In my case they're not so much a fashion accent but instead serve a practical purpose. Jere, a friend of mine and fellow suspender-wearer, told me of a time when an old Mennonite fellow saw him and informed him he was Biblically dressed based on Ecclesiastes 4:9,10.

The other day in the course of our chaplain visitation an employee asked me a question: "Why were the suspenders arrested?" Initially I couldn't tell what in the world she might mean. I shook my head, "I don't know. Why?" She looked up with a smile and answered, "For holding up the pants." Well, that sure brought on a good round of laughter!

Baby laughingOne of the great blessings in life is laughter. We begin to laugh at a very early age. One of the maturing milestones parents anticipate is their baby's first smile and then their verbal laughter, often accompanied by giggles. Today I share a couple of links to videos of babies laughing which rouses the joy in all of us, no matter the age. I considered how therapeutic this pleasurable sound would be in the room of a patient in a nursing home. Just hearing the joyous sound of laughter, especially that of a baby, is uplifting to any downcast or lonely heart.

"A time to laugh." Aren't you glad the Lord gave us the blessing of laughter? There's a lot to be serious about and plenty of opportunities for weeping. I've wept at times, but I've had far more occasions to laugh.

I feel laughter is designed by God as a great stress reducer. The verbal expression for inward joy is first referenced in the Bible surrounding the events of Isaac's birth.  In fact his name means "laughter."

Billy Sunday said, "God likes a little humor, as is evidenced by the fact that he made the monkeys, the parrot—and some of you people."

Jesus with childOne of my favorite pictures of our Lord shows Him laughing as He embraces the little children. I recall many years ago a man in our church who came to the Lord out of a drug background. He was quite intense and rather somber about the things of the Lord. In a conversation I had with him he made it clear that he was offended at the very notion that Jesus would have ever laughed.

While it's true, there isn't a specific verse stating that Jesus laughed, it can be assumed in the setting where "He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them" (Mark 10:16)? Would you prefer to picture Him with a scowl, frown or emotionless expression?

The New Testament has few references to laughter but commonly teaches the attitude of joy, which is often expressed in laughter and a smile.

Today I encourage you to be thankful for the God-given blessing of laughter. Make use of it often, for the Scriptures remind us that there is "a time to laugh." And I really hope you will have some good laughs today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man
Daily prayer: Father, the day to day living can be so challenging and easily drain us of the pleasures in life if we're not careful. We thank you for our family and friends who pull us away from that mindset and add laughter to our lives, as well as the unexpected events that make us laugh at ourselves. Would you bring heartfelt laughter to the hearts of our readers today as they go about their daily duties. May they hear laughter and may they make laughter, verbally, and in their hearts. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.

Over the years I've had a number of humorous moments related to my suspenders. Five years ago we were at the INS in Philadelphia where Ester attained her American citizenship. Due to security we were searched upon entering the building and had to do the usual emptying of pockets, removing watches, and laying items on the conveyor belt for inspection. When I went through security the magnetic detector beeped so I was sent through again, this time without my suspenders, which had metal clips. At the time I had taken off about fifteen pounds so the suspenders were pretty important. I passed the inspection the second time through and quickly picked up my suspenders with the intention of securing them to my pants.

Due to the orders being incessantly shouted by the security, "Stay to the right, Keep the line moving, Sir, move over here, don't hold up the line," I got quite flustered as I was being pushed through the crowded line and was unable to get them back on. In the maddening process my pants started to fall down!  With one hand on my suspenders and the other holding up my britches I was having big time troubles.

Brooksyne, who was already through the line at this time, caught sight of me and rather than being a compassionate wife she burst into uncontrollable laughter. She tells me my face was beet red as I was trying to work through my dilemma. I explained my situation to the security man and he responded with a dry smile, "I sure hope this doesn't make me have to do my job" (referring to arresting me for "indecent exposure.") Well, I eventually was able to get out of the line and put myself back together. But Brooksyne had quite a time getting control of herself as she kept replaying that scene in her mind while we sat in the large room with about 100 others waiting during the immigration process. This humorous incident brought some distraction and lightheartedness to an intense setting where there is so much security, rules, and regulations.

Sherbert Brooksyne
Brooksyne had some fun last week as she combined spring colors in her attire. Some of the ladies at the workplace asked her if she was trying to make a fashion statement with her choice of "sherbet" colors.  She needed only lime green to make it a Rainbow Sherbet Look so one of the workers volunteered the finishing touch; a rather silly looking green headband. Brooksyne went along for fun and I snapped the shot.

Bunny and Peg O'Hare
Friday afternoon we had lunch at "The Country Cafe" at the Green Dragon Farmer's Market and caught up with our long-time friends, Bunny and Peg O'Hare.  Bunny continues to serve as a lead chaplain with Transport for Christ.  Some friends of ours run the Country Cafe and we can always count on a fine Lancaster County meal there.

Donegal Creek walk 4/29/12
Yesterday afternoon our Donegal Creek walk was busy with another family joining us; grandparents walking alongside their very active grandchildren on a beautiful spring day.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Today's message concerning laughter brought to mind a time of joy and laughter:

"Let Them Be Little"   "Let 'em cry, let 'em giggle, Let 'em sleep in the middle..." The first time I heard this song was at the wedding of Adrienne, the oldest daughter Pat and Charlotte Mallery, the very first couple whose wedding I officiated over 30 years ago. 

As is customary they played a song at the reception for the bride and her father. I had never heard it before, but it sure brought tears to my eyes as I stood beside Brooksyne and Ester and watched the bride's father affectionately embrace his newly married daughter. The song is called "Let Them Be Little" and upon reflection I could once again see the parents bring baby Adrienne to our church 20 years earlier when she was a very tiny new-born crowned with carrot red hair!

Later Pat stopped by our table to greet us and thanked us for coming. We reminisced about just how fast life goes by and how quickly our children grow. I know most all of you can identify.

This is the original audio version by Lonestar which I prefer and the one played at Adrienne's wedding. Video

This version is a video made by parents with photos showing the progression of their baby. Very well done!

"Babies Laughing"  Video  Here's another one with a custom made table for quadruplets and a "hamming it up" Dad. Video  I dare you to watch these videos and not laugh!

"The Joy Of The Lord Is My Strength"  Video  Twila Paris  I suppose I should have a serious song up as well!

Donegal Creek walk 4/29/12
Along our walk yesterday afternoon we passed these heifers who ran over to greet us along Donegal Creek.  There's something very funny about watching cows run! This brings to mind another video that may bring you a smile or even a laugh! Jazz for cows

* Someone will inevitably write us concerning picking up the baby bird. See here.

a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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