{laughter} let them see your joy this week

IMG_2058Sitting in the condo on a family get away last summer I was in an enormously pregnant. We were on a 3,000 mile adventure in my last trimester in the dead of the southern summer heat wave. Misery and fear mixed with a heavy dose of anxiety was getting the best of me. Doesn't fear have a way of robbing us of all joy! I had the option of staying behind but I just couldn't imagine missing the moments...so there I sat in our hot, packed out minivan.

We had settled in to the living room all piled around on couches one night when my guys started looking up yo momma jokes. Y'all know where those go. They are a close runner-up to awkward family photos when it comes to laughter and tears.

The 3 boys huddled around dad and they began to search for the one that would get us rollin. That is all it took to move me from miserable to hysterical. It was dumb...yo momma's so skinny that she swallowed a meatball and people thought she was pregnant!

Then it happened. My oldest boy looked over and said, "Momma - I don't remember the last time you laughed this hard!" Tears streamed down my face for 2 valuable reasons.

1. Those jokes were so funny (especially after midnight) that I could not snap out of uncontrollable laughing/crying. Isnt that the best? I was shouting with laughter, crying my eyes out, and begging them to stop reading.

Being in a room full of light hearts is healing. There is a time for mourning and sadness but friends we can't stay camped out there. It's almost as if the tears fall because its been so long since we've given in to joy. I have friends that regularly cry every time they laugh. I think those souls are the fullest. Our kids need us to be present enough to pick up on their humor, to take interest in their stories, and for heaven's sake laugh at them and with them!

2. Going through the daily motions and not pausing to engage with our family creates a survival team, not a together team. I've short-changed my kids by not letting them see/hear me laugh regularly. I love that it matters to them. Looking back when years have long past I want them to tell stories of Momma dying of laughter with huge tears of happy streaming down her face.

But please don't worry if they have seen me in the valley...they absolutely have. I am confident that they will be better husbands and fathers because of the hard days they've endured with Momma. I would love for them to know how to handle those valley tears with compassion. The echos of mountain top laughter is what I hope they wont forget.

That night went down in the Howell memory books. My heart needed joy to win on that road trip and maybe yours needs to win today. As school begins and new fears make their way to the surface, lets invite joy into these brand new days and watch as fear leaves the room!