Tag Archives: Laughter

Our 10th Anniversary! New Year’s Eve 2015

Our wedding on New Year's Eve 2005.
Our wedding on New Year’s Eve 2005.

Wendy and I were married on New Year’s Eve 2005 at a gala wedding on the ballroom floor of the Temple for Performing Arts in Des Moines. New Year’s Eve will forever be a special evening for the two of us. This year we celebrated our 10th Anniversary at home surrounded by wonderful friends, many of whom were there with us on that memorable evening a decade ago.

Our anniversary celebration actually started earlier in the week on Tuesday. We’d spent the day in Des Moines hitting the after Christmas sales and found a lot of good stuff to make our home even more festive next year. By late afternoon we were worn out from shopping and ready for an evening out. We met Kev and Beck at Juniper Moon, a relatively new wine bar in Des Moines, for a pre-dinner cocktail. It’s a wonderful place. It was packed and a bit noisy for my hearing-impaired ears, but we definitely enjoyed ourselves.

New Year's 2015 - 1

We had dinner at Django, one of our favorites in Des Moines. Wendy’s cousin, Kris, has been managing Django for several months and it was great to see him. He treated us to a little anniversary gift, which was very nice of him. As always, it was great to hang out with Kev and Beck.

We celebrated our anniversary and New Year’s Eve, itself, at our house. Friends brought appetizers to share and Wendy knocked herself out making her own plethora of amazing desserts. People arrived around 8:00 and the evening was spent just as we like it: good food, good drink, and good conversation. There was  plenty of laughter and love to go ’round. At midnight we had the countdown and let fly with a ton of party poppers (that we still had from our wedding night!). People slowly filtered out. Kevin and Linda got the Party Hardy badge of honor for being the final guests to leave. Of course, they had the shortest commute as they left sometime after 2:30 a.m.

Wendy and start 2016 thankful for a wonderful decade together surrounded by wonderful family and friends. And, the best is yet to come!!

Theme from the Photos

2013 08 19 VW Pizza Night Collage Most often we look at and contemplate photos one by one. One of the things I’ve come to realize over time, however, is that when I import a large batch of photos and rifle through them, I often catch a theme from the event that one single photo doesn’t quite convey.

Last night three generations of my family gathered at my folks’ house for an evening of pizza. We did nothing more than have some pizza together and sit around the table and talk for a couple of hours. As I looked through the photos this morning I realized how many of the photos were of my family members smiling and laughing.

I know plenty of people who have never experienced this kind of love and laughter at a family gathering. The theme that arose from all of my photos last night was a reminder to be grateful and to enjoy these moments.

 

We Could All Do With a Little More Laughter

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 21

And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me. Genesis 21:6 (NLT)

Laughter is contagious, as the saying goes, and it is good medicine.

The other night at rehearsal we were doing the first run through of the entire show from top to bottom. The first run through is always rough and it can be a difficult rehearsal to get through. The show’s designer, who had not been around for rehearsal, came in to watch the entire rehearsal and immediately began to laugh. It was amazing to me to watch how an audience of one changed the dynamic of the whole rehearsal. Actors began to come alive and to take their performances to another level. The laughter of one person changed the attitude and aptitude of so many.

This isn’t unusual. In our community we have individuals who have loud, contagious laughs. Though the veteran actors in our community theatre can’t see the audience when the house lights are out, they immediately know when one of our “big laugh” people are in the house. When it happens, everyone rejoices back stage. Laughter is contagious and when one person is obviously having a good time it warms the rest of the audience up and gives silent permission for them to enjoy it as well. If one of the big laugh audience members are in the house, it’s going to be a good show.

I love that Isaac’s name means “he laughs” and that Sarah memorialized her joy and laughter with her son’s name. We could all do with a little more laughter.  It’s good medicine for the everyday heartaches of life.

 

Chapter-a-Day Hebrews 10

Inside the church built by brothers Marcus and...
Inside the church built by brothers Marcus and William Brims, Mareeba, ca. 1904 (Photo credit: State Library of Queensland, Australia)

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. Hebrews 10:24 (NLT)

Over the past several months I’ve sat in church on Sunday mornings and carefully observed more than ever before. I’ve watched. I’ve questioned. I’ve worshipped. I’ve listened. I’ve prayed. I’ve contemplated. I’ve ruminated…So often church becomes about programming, but I think it’s really about people.

So often church becomes about pulling many people in, but I think it’s really about sending people out.

So often church takes itself way too seriously. Yesterday I was reminded in the sermon that God has feelings so He can feel hurt and pain and disappointment, and rejection. While I wholeheartedly agree, I sat and contemplated that God must also then feel levity, joy, happiness, laughter, silliness, and even giddiness. If what we believe is true, then there is more than sufficient reason for smiles, laughter, and celebration. I think church needs a greater sense of humor.

So often church becomes about catch-phrases, gimmicks and marketing, but I think it’s very simply about love. When I read the verse above from today’s chapter, I thought it an apt mission statement for the church. If we’re not motivating people to active love, I think we’re missing the mark.

 

They Laughed!

Black and white photograph of a Neumann U87 mi...
Image via Wikipedia

A couple of weeks ago we invited a group of friends and theatre people over for dinner and to do a table reading of my script. I set up a microphone and recorded the reading. This past Saturday I was driving back to Pella from Des Moines in the remnants of a blizzard. It was slow going and I decided to pull up the recording and listen to the recorded reading for the first time.

At first, I listened carefully to the lines and obsessed about the nit-picky issues. There were the things that stuck out to me that needed to be cleaned up or fixed. There were a few inconsistencies that needed to be ironed out. But, then something happened as I drove slowly down highway 163 through the driving snow and listened. The honest reactions of my friends began to pique my interest. I was struck by the half-suppressed giggles of the readers who were hearing the script for the first time. The longer I listened, my heart was warmed in the midst of the cold snowstorm by hearing the loud guffaws in the comedic moments and the screams of dismay when the end of the first act left them in an unexpected cliffhanger.

Sometimes I think I’m crazy. I’m a business consultant in the middle of frickin’ Iowa writing a script about a small rural town. The Censor who lives in my head has regular field days with me…

  • “Who do you think you are?”
  • “Even if it is good. Nobody’ll read it.”
  • “You have no connections. Just stick it in the drawer and forget about it.”
  • “Who’s going to like a play about small town Iowa?”

Hearing the giggles, gasps and guffaws in the background of the recording, I smiled and not so politely told my Censor to be quiet. That was no laugh track on the recording. My friends actually laughed when they read it.

Maybe I’m not so crazy after all.

2011 Christmas in Denver with the Halls

Apologies to those who’ve wondered where my chapter-a-day posts were since late last week. I took a few days off to celebrate Christmas with Wendy and her family in Denver. Wendy’s sister, Becky, was kind enough to host us all for the second straight year. We even got to meet Court, the new man in her life. His folks even joined us for brunch on Sunday morning.

Madison’s boyfriend, Kevin, drove up from Mt. Pleasant on Thursday and spent the night here in Pella so we could leave early on Friday. We stopped in Des Moines to pick-up Taylor. It was a long drive, but we enjoyed some great conversation and made it to Denver in the early evening.

Saturday morning was spent shopping with Kevin and the girls. Taylor helped me pick out a few birthday gifts for Wendy, utilizing those skills she’s been honing at her job at J. Crew. Madison and Kevin worked on some gifts for Kevin’s niece and nephew while Madison shopped for some work clothes.

Wendy’s sister, Becky, was a wonderful hostess and we enjoyed hanging out all afternoon and evening. We ate a lot and laughed a lot. Food and conversation were the order of the weekend. I enjoyed coffee and conversation with Wendy’s dad both Saturday and Sunday morning. Taylor got up to join the two of us “morning people” on Sunday morning which was wonderful.

The family gathered around my iPad on Sunday to Skype with Wendy’s brother, Josh who is serving as a dentist in the Army in Germany. It was fun to watch everyone gathered around to visit with Josh who was half a world away. As a Christmas gift to the family, Josh talked his girlfriend into stepping into the camera so everyone could see her.

Taylor brought a party game called Quelf along for the weekend. On Saturday night the five of us played in the hotel room. On Sunday, we made Wendy’s siblings play with us. It’s sort of a zany mash up of trivial pursuit, charades, and truth or dare. We had a lot of fun playing together.

I drove Madison back to Colorado Spings on Monday morning. It was fun to see where she goes to school, to see the house where she lives and to meet her landlord. After a business lunch in Englewood, I headed back to the hotel to pick up Wendy, Taylor and Kevin to begin the trek home. Wendy had been watching the radar and told me that we could expect to drive through snow, ice and rain all the way home as a huge storm front moved north into Nebraska and Iowa. We were extremely thankful as the front seemed to miraculously stay just south of the interstate. At one point the radar showed that it was snowing right where we were, but we didn’t experience one snow flake or rain drop the entire way home. We arrived home in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

We had a ball and enjoyed the time with family.

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Summer Night; Backyard Dinner

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After a wet, cold spring followed by a week or two in the proverbial oven, we’ve had precious few opportunities to enjoy being outside. The weather this weekend was perfect, and we decided to take advantage of it!

Wendy and I have been working hard on our little house this year. Our attention was focused down at the lake for a few years and our cute little house was in need of some TLC both inside and out. We had the siding replaced on the upper floor, replace flooring on both the first and second floors, and I’ve slowly been trying to get the lawn and landscaping cleaned up.

The backyard hadn’t looked so good for years, and we decided to enjoy it with dinner on the patio. We invited the VLs over, threw some New York strips on the grill, baked up some potatoes and made garlic bread with homemade Italian bread. Then we opened up a bold Australian Shiraz that paired perfectly with the steak.

It was wonderful to eat, laugh and play on the patio. After dinner we pulled out the Nerf dart guns and the VL boys enjoyed running around the yard playing commando in their p.j.s

Great evening. Great food. Great friends. Great time.

Chapter-a-Day Jeremiah 48

Broken Piano
Image by quinet via Flickr

Lush Moab stripped
   of song and laughter.
 Jeremiah 48:33a (MSG)

As I read through Jeremiah’s epic prophesy against Moab this morning, I must confess my brain was a bit on auto pilot. After 48 chapters of prophecies against this country and that people, they all start to sound the same. “Idols crushed, blah, blah, blah. No hope at all yada, yada, yada.” But then I read verse 33 and it struck a chord in my heart.

No music. No laughter.

A few months ago, my daughter and I sat on the couch and watched a DVD of old family videos. It was fun to take a trip down memory lane, and the common theme that struck me as we watched was music, dancing and laughter. Like all families, we have had our own host of problems, issues, brokenness, tragedy and difficulties. What family doesn’t? But, we had a faithful God and we consistently had music, dancing, and laughter – and together they will see you through some long, dark valleys.

Moab had a lot of punishment heaped on them. Disaster, war, famine, exile, and death are terrible events for anyone to endure. Yet, for me, not one of them is as worse as their music being muted, and their laughter stolen.

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Crack Me Up

KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay rehearsal April 2010
Last night was the first of two dress rehearsals for KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay. The show opens on Thursday. Our friends Kevin and Becky came to the dress rehearsal since they will be out of town this weekend. The entire cast was glad they came. We needed an audience, even if it was a small one.

There is something that happens during the long nights of rehearsal. The jokes which seemed so fresh when you first read the script begin to taste stale as they come out of your mouth. You've said them so many times to an empty auditorium and felt the silence bounce off the back wall. You begin to wonder if the lines were ever funny, and then you begin to question whether anyone will laugh. There is a common statement made towards the end of the rehearsal process: "This show needs an audience" and it was certainly true of this show.

So, as our little audience began to chuckle and guffaw through the first Act last night, you could feel the energy of the entire cast lift. Things started to click. Everyone perked up. Spirits soared. And, everyone began to feel the humor of the show anew.

One of the things I pride myself in is the ability to remain focused on stage, and last night was a humbling moment. There is one line in the play that is so hilarious that it took a long time for Wendy to utter it without cracking up. In the tedium of the last few weeks that was not a problem. It felt so stale that we rolled right through the line without feeling so much as a twitch in our funny bones. Then last night we had an audience out there in the darkness laughing hysterically. The line which had felt so dead to us experienced a sudden resurrection. Wendy uttered the line. I broke concentration for a split second and cracked a tiny smile. Wendy saw the chink in my armor of concentration and proceeded to completely lose her composure. She broke into uncontrollable laughter, and I lost it too. It was like the old Carol Burnett show when Tim Conway had the cast in stitches or a Saturday Night Live sketch when the players can't hold it together.

It took a few lines fighting back the tears of laughter, but we got our groove back. Nevertheless, the rehearsal gave us all some new life as we get ready to perform this weekend. (By the way, there are tickets still available!)

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 133

Vwell_50th_four_kids4_LR How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! Psalm 133:1 (MSG)

Like most people raised in a house full of kids, I remember days of knock-down-drag-out fights with my siblings. My brothers were seven years older than me, five older than my sister. So, they generally couldn't get away with beating up on the "little ones" outright. Their attacks took a more sinister approach, such as asking me if I knew what a "Hertz Doughnut" was. When I responded "no" I was immediately punched by the offending brother who then asked "Hurt's, don't it?" as he cackled with glee. My sister was closer in age and the only girl. So, our fights were worse. One of her favorite things was to grab my wrists and dig her fingernails into my skin until they bled. It was not lost on me how much nicer she became immediately after she realized she was no longer large enough or strong enough to sit on me and hold me down! As for my sibling infractions, those records have been sealed 😉

How my mother made it through the madness, I'll never know. I know that I was responsible for many of those white hairs on her head. But, now we are grown and our parent's house is filled with laughter rather than the screams of rival children. It's a wonderful thing.

How sad that, for some families, the madness never ends.