Monday, November 16, 2009


"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)

"I love my life. I love my house. I love my people."

Unfortunately, Wendy Ann's seemingly euphoric state was short-lived. As I turned the corner to enter our foyer, I unwittingly stepped on her tail. Justifiably agitated, she skedaddled. Taken by surprise, I screamed. A sweet moment of contentment rudely interrupted for both of us.

Wendy Ann joined our family the week we moved from North Carolina to Michigan. Eight-weeks old, a disproportionately large head, and an elongated set of whiskers, it's quite possible Wendy wasn't the brightest kitten in the litter. What she lacks between her black, pointy ears, however, she makes up for in entertainment.

The day we set out in tandem on our 800-mile drive north, my husband, our daughter, and Wendy Ann led the way in our SUV. I followed in a second vehicle with our son, dog, and a second cat. We weren't on the road an hour when my husband motioned that I should stop at an approaching exit.

"The cat's been crying since we left Charlotte. Meg is so worried about the cat that she began crying shortly after Wendy started. In a few minutes, I'm joining them!" my haggard-looking spouse lamented as he walked up to my vehicle.

Laugh! Better yet, laugh out loud!

According to modern-day stress management research:
  • Laughter reduces our level of stress hormones which results in a stronger immune system.
  • A good belly laugh exercises our diaphragm, contracts our abs, and works out our shoulders; all which leave our muscles more relaxed. Our heart even gets a good workout!
  • Laughter is a great distraction that takes the focus away from our anger, guilt, stress, and negative emotions.
  • Humor provides a more lighthearted perspective and helps us view events as opportunities.
  • Laughter is contagious. Bringing more laughter into our lives helps others around us lighten up as well.
Solomon recorded similar insights almost 3,000 years ago in the Old Testament book of Proverbs. He wrote, "A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." (Proverbs 15:13)

Did I mention the reason my husband tended a mournful kitten and weepy daughter was because I nursed our injured dog? The day before we left Charlotte, as the last boxes were loaded on our moving van, our cocker spaniel literally "blew out her knee." A quick trip to the animal hospital, we were told to restrict her activity and get her to a veterinarian in Michigan as soon as possible for knee surgery.

Allow me to translate "restrict activity." Throughout our 800-mile drive and for the next four weeks, I coaxed and carried 27 pounds of gentle disposition outdoors numerous times a day and monitored as our cocker "did her business."

Dear friend, good, bad, or indifferent, things happen. And, yes, we need to exercise thoughtfulness and sound judgment. Let's just not forget to throw in some laughter along the way. Wisdom, mixed with a hearty dose of cheerful spirit, goes a long way to improving our health. We're a lot more fun to be around; and in the long run, we're able to do more good.

As I finished this post, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. Turning toward the front door, I saw Wendy Ann once again resting on our foyer rug. Dreamy-eyed, she lay spread-out, on her back, her long tail extended, savoring her peaceful surroundings.

"Dumb cat," I thought with a chuckle.

Let's lighten up and live!

Blessings, dear friend.
Faithfully Following

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