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A Time to Laugh

I was reminded that it was again playing, laughing, and dancing time. My kids need to hear their mother’s belly laugh.

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With her wrinkled hand cupped over her mouth, her floral dress would shake as she giggled. My childhood memories of summer weeks spent at my grandmother’s meager Tennessee house are filled with the sound of her laughter and chicken fried crispy in an electric skillet.

She never took me to a theme park, and we didn’t frequent toy aisles. We never had kitchen dance parties, and she spent most of her time cooking and cleaning, but she had a silly streak. She was a storyteller, and her stories comedies. The memories now treasures.

Together on her rusted, metal porch glider, she named the ants that marched near us. Stories of Belinda and Oscar’s ant life made us howl with joy. And the bird on the telephone wire? She whistled and it whistled right back. In her own way, she played with me. She shared her delight and it became mine. She laughed, so I did too.

Now, grown up with a houseful of my own, I’m the family barometer, just as Grandma was.

My heart longs for childhoods filled with laughter, both theirs and mine. Giggles and silliness was always a part of who we are, until somewhere along the way, the seasons changed and I took a detour. Graciously, five-year-old authenticity shook me out of myself just in time.

She beamed about my scrambled eggs. I listened as my sweet Claire spoke precious words about me in a church Mother’s Day video, smiling at her familiar wiggle, and teary at her sincere love for this flawed momma. Then, when asked what makes me laugh, the sting of truth pierced my heart, jolted me to attention, and left guilt spilling wildly out.

“Mommy doesn’t laugh.”

Alongside embarrassment, anger swelled. Despite my sacrificing, I’d been called out. It had been a challenging year for our family, busied with the adoption of two children, and weighted with concern for a medically complex child. Sure, I was distracted at every level and bone weary, but my four kids left the house dressed in almost matching clothes, ate remotely healthy meals, and arrived nearly on time for appointments. Every ounce of myself was spent managing it all, but my little people were still having play time and play dates. Play wasn’t on my concern radar.

“Mommy doesn’t laugh.” It was a flashing yellow caution sign, demanding attention. After tallying excuses for my lack of laughter, still I was guilty as charged.

It was me that wasn’t having fun. Me who had forgotten how to play. My kids were laughing, my husband laughing, but me? Not so much. Blessed? Yes. Chuckling? Nope.

I claim that “play” was always high priority. Lots of space is left for creative, free play and day trip adventures. There isn’t an aquarium, museum, or state park that we haven’t paid admission for. But apparently still, I’d stopped laughing. Though I remembered wipes, snacks, and even toys, playfulness was left behind. No time, no energy, no heart for it. Truth laid vulnerable, Emily Freeman nailed me: “I realize that I am clenching my jaw, moving to the next thing like a chess player. I’ll make this move and then this will happen. I am in control of everything.”

Clearly, nary a snicker escapes clenched jaws, and planning play doesn’t equal playing.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us there is, “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Claire reminded me that it was again playing, laughing and dancing time. My kids need to hear their mother’s belly laugh.

Recollecting treasured Grandma moments, memorable play is mercifully simple, even for busy mommas. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to mean hours spent with Barbie and Ken, because I’m not so great at it. (After their Dream House is live-in ready, I’m over it.) Pinterest worthy PVC pipe backyard water obstacle courses aren’t required either.

They want me, the playful version. Me showing them that no matter what comes, laughing heals. Me unclenching my jaw and delighting in our life. Me being intentional about finding my giggle. Me YouTube-ing favorite comedians and reading funny novels. My kitchen dance parties while the sauce simmers, goofy faces, impromptu puddle jumping, and silly picture book character voices.

Claire loves me no matter the season I’m in, but I wasn’t laughing and she noticed. Sometimes we have to lead our hearts until our lives realign with our desires for them. Mothering still uses me up with its cooking, disciplining, cleaning, and appointments, but I get the giggles more often, and my family does too.

Some might even say I too am a storyteller with a silly streak.

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Rebecca Radicchi is a homeschooling, tea sipping, mother of four. Already moved well outside her comfort zone by motherhood, missions, orphan care and adoption, the Lord keeps taking new ground in her heart. Only able to offer a "yes" when the Lord calls, God's been blessing, refining and stretching her. With the hope that others might be encouraged, her humble response is to share the stories. You can find her recording the wonder, struggles and graces of everyday family life at La Dolce Vita and as a contributor at No Hands But Ours.

2 Comments
  • SimplySaidMom

    Sounds like precious, sweet-tasting memories. I have some of my own and they keep me company some nights when my heart is hoping for more. Thanks for sharing!

  • beautiful article Rebecca and something I need more of raising our four children as well. I can get so serious in the tasks that have to be done but I need to remember to plop myself down on the floor for some good old play time. They love it every time. Thank you for sharing!

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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A Time to Laugh

by Rebecca Radicchi time to read: 3 min
2