December 2013 – January 2014: Seriously? No.

I’m starting out serious because Christmas started serious for me this year. I have never seen Christmas quite this way before. So much was in need of rescue; Jesus came to save us, and I needed to see Him that way this year. 2 Corinthians 9:8 – “And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.”

We think compromise is reasonable. We think some loss is acceptable; we don’t expect 100% efficiency or faithfulness from people because we don’t want to be held to such a standard ourselves. And then a child speaks…and our cynicism defends itself. God is not stopped by the limits of people, even the “others” we have to interact with in our dogged pursuit of His will for us. Failure does not fit in His vocabulary regarding our future. That’s wonderful news! Or is it? Do we want victory, or just survival? Do we want our little dream because it’s comfortable, or do we want God’s dream because it’s uncomfortable? (sigh) Death to self. Not just sickness, or weakness, or silent passive-aggression, but death – final, complete, irreversible, no-refund, total commitment to God’s will, no matter the cost. Most of us go for what’s comfortable…most, but not all.

Oh, yeah. Jesus puts the “Man” in “Em-man-uel.”

“If it ain’t broke, you’re not tryin’.” – Red Green, home handyman from Opossum Lodge, Canada. And there is some truth to this. If you never risk, you have nothing to make your story worth hearing. No wounds means you haven’t defended someone in danger. No stories means…you haven’t really lived. Go break something oppressive; go get into some trouble with the local Pharisees; go dare, that others may dare more. Be bold, that others may have confidence who follow you.

And speaking of bold…Warning: bodily function humor is about to be used. Proceed at your own risk. I have three sons…and I’m a guy…and my wife laughs at the noises we all make, so if you’re “dainty”, proper, or don’t have any kids, or smell like lilacs after eating chili, maybe this won’t click with you; but for all the dads with poop under their fingernails, and moms whose sons make farting noises on their elbows, enjoy.

My wife and I lay in bed, lazily awaking to a snowy morning under a warm blanket, and wondering what to have for breakfast. We listened for noises of play from our children on the floor below, by which we can tell how many are awake and whether we can get them started on their morning chores. Instead of laughter, or grunting, or thumping, as usual, we heard what sounded like muted tuba practice…or maybe dragging a heavy chair across a tile floor underground…or an enhanced version of what happens when you squeeze the last few drops of honey out of the bottle. Somebody got a lot denser in a hurry, because they let out some serious air. We could almost feel the bed shake. We looked at each other…and burst into giggles. We caught our breath, looked at each other…and burst into giggles again. Yes, we are parents of boys. And we are not ashamed what makes us laugh…usually.

It reminded us of the episode that happened during our camping trip to Colorado this summer. We had set up camp after a very difficult trip over very rocky ground. Our kids passed the noisy time by counting the “ka-DUNKs” our heavy van made when it encountered the uneven ground. Rain had drenched our clothes and tent, and even though I finally got a fire started, and managed to keep it going in the rain, and even cooked hot dogs for supper (although our youngest ate half of them while we all cried and argued), we decided we couldn’t spend a night in a soaked tent under soaked sleeping bags and get any sleep. So we found an expensive tourist-trap hotel nearby after driving out the 4.5 miles of ka-DUNK trail to highway, and settled in for a comfortable sleep.

Early in the morning, I lay in bed reading, and my wife had just begun to open her eyes. ¬†We had begun to discuss our plan for the day, and sip some coffee when…BRRRRAMP! BRRRRRRRRAAAMMMP! Everyone woke suddenly surprised, in shock and awe at such a loud noise that seemed to come from inside our room. Slowly, it dawned on me that one of my sons had made these sounds all by himself, without really trying. I lost it, laughing to myself. But then my son realized HE was the origin of the noise and then his siblings did, too, and we all lost it, laughing out loud at the power of…digestive release, I guess. My wife summed it up by saying, “Well, morning has broken.” We all lost it again, collapsing into giggles, snorts, guffaws, and moans. I wonder what the other hotel guests thought we were doing. Maybe they complained about the air ducts, or the pipes, or the ground shifting, but let me tell you, the real event was far more…natural. Earthquakes happen all the time, right? Especially if you have boys.

Go borrow from your local library the Pixar Shorts DVD, and watch “Mini-Buzz” about a miniature Buzz Lightyear with a huge head and Jersey accent. See if you laugh at the forgotten toys left behind at Poultry Palace that came with the chicken version of a happy meal. A short list:

Tai-kwan-doe, the female deer dressed in the white robe and pants, whose left hoof is always raised so she can chop a pre-broken plastic board in half

Beef Stewardess, a female cow in a blazer and skirt, whose life-vest inflates

Bozo the Ninja clown…(snort)(silent shaking). I’m sorry, you’ll have to come up with your own description for this one.

Dee Jay Blue Jay, the bird in the headphones with a double-LP player on his lap

Funky Monk – think Friar Tuck meets Ice-T, dressed like a disco dude; says ” ‘sup.”

Steak-bot, who transforms from a steak into a robot, and battles the Vegetrons for dinner table dominance

Neptuna, member of the Mermaid Battle Squad, both beautiful and dangerous…to swallow, who leads the rejected toys in therapy sessions.

Pixar really should have released this one in theaters by itself. I would have paid to see it.

John Eldridge reminds me that the same God who has already planned the overcoming of man and Satan’s worse schemes is also the one who gave us laughter and the confidence to relax that laughter produces. Who better to relax than the Almighty? Who better to give us joy than Jesus? So give thanks for Christmas, enjoy fumigating the holiday pounds away with the young, and laugh because our Jesus laughs, too.

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