Filled with hope and encouragement, this book is sure to become a favorite of many women who long for a sense of joy in the midst of everyday struggles. In classic Barbara Johnson style, these hilarious pages will show you how to put life's trials into heavenly perspective. She hopes you will find encouragement through your difficulties, renewal for your spiritual doldrums, and laughter when you think you'll never laugh again. Similar in nature to her best-selling title Humor Me, this delightful look at heaven reveals it as a place that will be not only without pain, but will actually be fun!
Jokes, stories, cartoons and Barbara's famous one-liners make this another joy-filled book that all her fans will love.
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|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.40(d)|
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Laughter from Heaven
By BARBARA JOHNSON
W Publishing GroupCopyright © 2007 Barbara Johnson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneMay the Joybells of Heaven Ding-Dong in Your Heart Today
Smile! It kills time between disasters
Ever since I was diagnosed three years ago with a malignant brain tumor, friends who haven't seen me for a while gush, "Oh, Barb! How are you doing? I've been thinking of you and praying for you and wondering how you're getting along."
The question comes so frequently, I try to keep track of my various adventures and calamities so I can provide a quick answer. I always try to make these reports cheerful, but then, sometimes humor is a matter of perspective. For example, when I was asked to speak at an annual gathering of my medical professional friends last spring, I gave them this rundown of one of my more memorable weeks:
Sunday was Mother's Day, so I took a day off from disasters. It was a beautiful day, and we had just been notified that my book Humor Me had hit the bestseller list. My husband, Bill, and I settled in that evening to watch a favorite John Wayne movie, and even though Bill had already seen it so many times he knew all the words by heart, we enjoyed it all over again. We were content believing that, except for the brain tumor, all was well in our world.
On Monday, I fell and broke both arms.
On Tuesday, while I was hospitalized, my doctor told me I would be there awhile and then have to move to a rehab facility for several weeks until I regained the use of my arms.
The next day brought the hardest news of all: Bill got the results of some medical tests. The doctor told us he had cancer and only a short time left to live. In fact, he died seven weeks later. During recent years when Bill and I had both battled several health issues, one of our friends joked that we seemed to be "racing each other to heaven." Bill's diagnosis would carry him to the finish line well ahead of me.
So although my week had started off with a pleasant Mother's Day, it had quickly deteriorated, and by Thursday, when I was wondering what else could possibly happen ... my front tooth fell out!
Hearing that, the audience laughed.
Isn't that amazing? After that awful list of disasters, they laughed to hear that my tooth fell out. Frankly, I laughed too. It just shows that calamities and humor are both a matter of perspective. Ordinarily, having your tooth fall out would be a terrible thing, even when it's a tooth that's been broken and repeatedly fixed like that one was.
But it was terrible, because it fell out while I was hospitalized with my two broken arms, and since my arms were immobilized, I couldn't reach up to take the tooth out of my mouth. The call button to summon the nurse was just out of reach. And I couldn't yell for help, because I was afraid if I opened my mouth, I'd swallow the tooth! So that thing rattled around in my mouth for what seemed like an hour until someone finally arrived to retrieve it.
Laughing While We Can
It was annoying to have the tooth go AWOL. One of the few things I had left to do was chat with my family and friends who visited my hospital room. But now I looked like someone on a hillbilly comedy show and talked like thom-one with a thpeeth impethiment. Yes, it was frustrating. But compared with the overwhelming disasters that had filled the rest of my week, complaining about having a tooth fall out seemed downright funny!
One of my friends added to the poignant laughter when she sent me a note nicknaming me "Jobella" in honor of my tormented Old Testament counterpart. She wrote:
You and Job ... have so much in common ... henceforth You will be called JOBELLA!
On Friday, fearful of what new calamity the next moment might bring, I tried not to do anything but breathe and pray (not that I could do much more than that with two broken arms!). Fortunately, the only thing that happened was that all my clothes disappeared out of my hospital room closet. I never did find them, but whatever happened to them, I just hope they're in a better place. By then Bill was tied up with doctor appointments and unable to bring me things from home, so one of my friends hurried over with an armload of her own outfits.
As she held them up for me to see, I mused, "Gee, some of these things look sorta familiar. Where did you get them?"
"You gave 'em to me years ago, Barb. They're your hand-me-downs!" my friend explained. "I've been trying to lose weight so I can wear them, but I think the Lord'll return before that happens. So you might as well have them back."
Heaven, My Happy Preoccupation
Now, maybe you're wondering how this kind of beginning could possibly introduce a supposedly humorous book by someone who's been called the "Queen of Encouragement." OK, I admit it's a rather roundabout way of getting to the point. But if you know anything about my story, you know I've been through some pretty difficult problems, and you also know that I credit the Lord and laughter with pulling me through. In this little book, I hope to help you see that by focusing on the glorious joy awaiting us in heaven, we can learn to laugh again when life storms sweep through our heart and dump us on the rocky shore, beaten and bedraggled.
Even in the harshest life storm, the death of a loved one (a situation I'm very familiar with, having lost two sons and, most recently, my husband), I've clung to the silver lining of the storm clouds that have turned my life upside down. That silver lining is God's promise of heaven and all its glory. How reassuring to know that our departed loved ones are there, happy and healthy and enjoying all the amenities that come with living next door to God.
While we can't help but grieve our loss, I've found that as I've said, "good-bye for now," my heartache is eased when I May the Joybells of Heaven Ding-Dong in Your Heart Today 5 focus on the joy and laughter I know they're all sharing around the throne of God.
So, in this book, I've pulled together some of the touching stories, funny quips, and hilarious cartoons that have helped me laugh again when I think of family and friends who have gone on ahead to heaven. And the things I share here encourage me to hang on when the going gets tough, knowing I'll soon be there, too, rejoicing around the throne of God.
These little gems have been sent to me by friends, and whenever no source is given here, I don't know the original writer. But I'm grateful to the witty persons who created them, and as I chuckle over each little joke or smile at a heart-touching thought, I like to think of Bill and our boys looking over my shoulder, reading the words along with me, and sending down laughter from heaven to jump-start my own giggles.
When you feel grief knocking at the door of your heart, I hope the funnies in this little book remind you that your dear loved ones in heaven are now rejoicing, laughing, and maybe even livin' it up with Jesus. Laughter won't mend your broken heart, but it will help ease the pain. It can make a difference in your life-a difference for the better.
A One-Way Ticket to Glory
Remembering that I've got a one-way ticket to heaven for my eternal life, I find the strength to handle anything this life can throw at me. It's all a matter of perspective.
I wish I could be there to wrap my arms around you and tell you I care. But since that's not possible, let's pretend we're wrapped up together in God's wonderful comfort blanket of love, sharing a laugh over these heavenly little gems, and as one of my friends suggested, letting the joybells of heaven ding-dong in our heart today.
* * *
I love the way a friend closed a recent letter to me. She wrote: "Until He comes or until I go!"
* * *
Joni Eareckson Tada tells of an eighty-year-old friend who says she is eagerly anticipating heaven but hopes to "stay around for Jesus' return" because, as she told Joni, "I never like to miss a good party."
* * *
The Bible says when Christ returns and takes us with Him to heaven, it's gonna be one fast ride. This is how one clever artist depicted our speedy departure from earth:
In a moment ... in the twinkling of an eye.... 1 Corinthians 15:52
* * *
We should not arrive at death's door all prim and proper in a pretty and well-preserved body. Instead we ought to arrive breathlessly, skidding broadside through the pearly gates, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW! What a ride!"
* * *
Always read books that will make you look good if you die in the middle of one of them.
* * *
Have you ever felt that even though you're taking things "one day at a time," it's about twenty-four hours more than you can take?
* * *
Patient: Doctor, I have a serious memory problem. I can't remember anything!
Doctor: When did you start noticing this problem?
Patient: What problem?
* * *
Sad events in our lives here on earth make us long for that day in the "sweet by and by" when we meet our loved ones "on that beautiful shore," as the beautiful old hymn proclaims. The hope of heaven sustains us in our earthly struggles and pushes us closer to God. As Joni wrote:
Suffering hurries the heart homeward.
* * *
When Christians see "R.I.P" on a headstone, we don't think rest in peace, but rejoicing in paradise!
* * *
A nervous flyer asked his seatmate how he could be so calm while turbulence was tossing their plane around the sky. The seatmate smiled as he answered:
"If we go down, I go up!"
* * *
In all adversity, our worship of God is joyful, our life is hopeful, our future is secure. There is nothing we can lose on earth that can rob us of the treasures God has given us and will give us. -Anglican Digest
* * *
When things go wrong ... don't go with them!
* * *
Two things I have learned:
1. There is a God.
2. I am not Him.
* * *
Never borrow sorrow from tomorrow.
* * *
There will be no further crises this week. My schedule is already full.
* * *
There's a knock on Saint Peter's door. He looks out and sees a man standing there. Saint Peter is about to begin his interview when the man suddenly disappears.
A short time later there's another knock. Saint Peter gets the door, sees the man, opens his mouth to speak-and the man disappears again.
"Hey!" Saint Peter calls after him. "Are you playing games with me?"
"No-o-o-o-o!" the man's distant voice replies anxiously. "I'm in a hospital, and they keep trying to resuscitate me!"
* * *
A long life may not be good enough, but a good life is long enough. -Edward B. LeWinn, M.D.
* * *
Laugh often, long, and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. Laugh so much that you can be tracked through a day by the sound of your laughter.
* * *
This is a strange journey we walk, full of peaks and valleys. But since God is in both places, we walk unafraid.
* * *
Epitaph over a dentist's grave: He is filling his last cavity.
* * *
Bishop Fulton Sheen once went shopping at a department store. He got on an elevator at the fifth floor and pushed the button for the sixth. Before the doors closed, a woman rushed on, and as the elevator rose, she said, "I didn't want to go up. I wanted to go down."
She turned to Bishop Sheen and added, "I didn't think I could go wrong following you."
"Madam," replied the bishop, "I only take people up, not down."
* * *
A man had just undergone surgery, and as he came out of the anesthesia, he said, "Why are all the blinds drawn?"
"There's a big fire across the street," the nurse explained, "and we didn't want you to wake up and think the operation was a failure."
* * *
Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday-but not nearly enough.
* * *
When Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble," ... He wasn't kidding!
* * *
Warning! Humor may be hazardous to your depression.
One grieving mother wrote this note to me: "Yesterday was the pits-I felt forgotten, abandoned, cheated, and my health is so filled with pills that it is a wonder I can still crave a hot fudge sundae!"
* * *
You know about the Twelve-Step program. But have you heard about the One-Step method? Wham! "Get over it!"
* * *
If you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your faith, your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work, and do the very best you can, happiness will find you.
* * *
During a recent medical appointment, the nurse frowned, looking at a rash on my nose. "Hmm," she said, "looks like ..." (She named a terrible-sounding affliction.) Seeing my alarm (after all, I am a cancer survivor), the doctor smiled and patted my shoulder. "Relax, Barb. It's treatable."
I thought, Now that is what it means to give someone HOPE!
* * *
Each of us has a string of pearls in our hearts. These "pearls" are the beautiful moments we've experienced in our lives, moments that become memories and will uplift, enliven, gladden, soften, inspire, and guide us. There are plenty of baubles, bangles, and beads in life, but only a few gems. Close your eyes and see your string of pearls. Name the gems by name, by place, by experiences, by gifts of the Spirit. Whether or not you wear jewelry, always wear your spiritual string of pearls! -Cathy Feste
Excerpted from Laughter from Heaven by BARBARA JOHNSON Copyright © 2007 by Barbara Johnson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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