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Live Laugh and Be Blessed Live Laugh and Be Blessed
Finding humour and holiness in everyday moments

Anne Bryan Smollin
ISBN 9781893732988 (1893732983)
Ave Maria Press, 2006
£7.99

Category: Devotional

In an age of terror and unreason, in amongst the twisted thorns of heavy theology and even heavier gunfire, this book shines like a ray of sunlight, restoring faith, resetting priorities, renewing hope.

The cover alone is enough brighten your day: whimsical and lighthearted — and as you start to turn the pages, the lightheartedness becomes infectious. I dare anyone to read this book and resist a smile.

Anne Bryan Smollin is a nun, a nun who clearly knows how to have fun, how to appreciate God's gifts to his children. I've never met her, but in my mind, after reading this book, I picture her throwing open the curtains to her room at the crack of dawn and, come rain or shine, laughing at the sheer exuberance of a God who loves to bless his people. She writes,

If only we could learn to live each moment and find joy in it. The next time it begins to snow, put on your coat and boots and stand still for a moment and let the snow cover you. Stand in awe that no two snowflakes are the same. The next time you pass a park, pull over and sit for a moment and watch the children play. Stay there until you find yourself laughing as hard as they are. The next time you are caught in a traffic jam, decide that it is a gift to yourself. No one knows where you are. We have few private moments and when we get one we miss it. So it is my hope that you will enjoy these stories and use them to live the moment.
(From the Introduction, p.11)

It's clear that this ability to see the lighter side of life doesn't stem from being disconnected with reality. On the contrary, Sister Anne has faced her own dark times and is well aware that — as per the title of chapter 6 — "Life is not a bowl of cherries" but, she maintains, nor is it "a stack of pits". Every day, she says, we have a choice about how we face that day: with misery or with joy; and the attitude we choose impacts not only on our own lives but on those around us.

The book is peppered with short snippets of wisdom and anecdotes to illustrate the points being made, along with quotes from the Bible and the author's own photographs inbetween the chapters. The final chapter, "The Challenge: Joy, Laughter, Humour", sums it all up with a rapid — just two pages — overview of joy, laughter and humour in the Bible: this attitude isn't simply the way it should be but a radical call to a different, positive outlook on life with all its ups and downs.

You'll finish the book all too soon — but never mind; you can always go back through it again. Buy a copy for yourself, and one to give away.

Phil Groom, June 2006

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.

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