Good morning! Davalynn Spencer here, laughing out loud in Colorado at Jeanette Levellie’s gift of giggles. Honestly, it’s more like guffaws, and I’m left with the deep sense that this author has taken to heart the old proverb: A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.
Welcome, Jeanette. Please tell us about your latest book that clearly has you in stitches. I mean print. Better yet, give us the back-cover copy to The Heart of Humor: Sixty Helpings of Hilarity to Nourish Your Soul (Elk Lake Publishing).
Clean laugh-out-loud stories accompanied by comical drawings by a professional animator, humor quotes, and fun articles to help you lighten up your life and find hilarity in unlikely places. Each of the sixty chapters ends with an inspirational Christian thought from the author.
Did anything in particular inspire you to write this book?
I’d been writing humor columns for a Christian magazine for five years and had many on file. I’d noticed that in the fourteen years I’d been writing a humor/inspirational column in my local newspaper, the comment I received most often was that people appreciated the humor in my writing. So I decided to compile my best funny stories into a book. After researching and writing articles about the benefits of humor and compiling lists of humor quotes and the best funny movies, The Heart of Humor was born. In the second edition (July 2018), we’ve added eight more cartoons in addition to the fifteen we had in the first edition and a new cover, which has a laughing redhead who looks suspiciously like me!
Clearly, you have a knack for handling surprises with humor. What surprised you most during the research for or writing of this book?
I was amazed at the studies that prove how laughter helps you get and stay healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It even helps increase your tolerance for pain and aids in losing weight!
Oh boy, sign me up for that last fringe benefit.
As the author, what do you want to see readers glean from this book?
I want to add more laughter to the world. Our lives are stressful and busy. If I can help people find the humor in everyday situations that might otherwise tempt them to despair, I’ve lightened their load a bit. I’ve fulfilled the Lord’s instruction to “bear one another’s burdens” in a fun way.
What a fresh perspective on an often-used scripture. Does this aid in recognizing how God uses the book’s message in your own life?
Believe it or not, I am prone to depression. Writing The Heart of Humor and presenting the material at speaking venues has helped me fight worry and add more laughter to my own life.
You know first-hand the power of what you’re presenting. Personal experience is hard to beat. Are there other tactics you used for sharing Christ in this book?
I tie in each story—no matter how silly—to a biblical or spiritual application. As an example, one of my chapters is about how I planted my first garden all wrong, and the funny outcome. I ended by encouraging readers to “read the directions,” the Word of God. I think the Lord is present in every aspect of our lives, if we look for his hand.
Do you have pet themes you return to again and again in your writing?
God’s bottomless, astounding, delightful grace. Because I need his grace every minute, and I believe we have a difficult time receiving it, I find I write about it a lot. And humor. I seem to have a gift for finding the funny in unlikely situations. I love to tell on myself: all the ditzy doings God gets me out of and what he teaches me through them.
How has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?
Many times the Lord uses my own writing to convict me that I’m being a hypocrite (condemning myself when I encourage readers to forgive themselves). He also shows me how dependent I am on him for every word, every sentence, each little and big success. When I first felt the call to write I told him, “This is what I want to do with my life.” His gentle voice in my heart answered, “You can’t do it alone.” That has proven true again and again—his Holy Spirit to inspire me to write words that I’m not smart enough to come up with on my own; brothers and sisters to help me learn how to improve my writing, and all the open doors for publication can be nothing but his favor.
What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
It’s a real job, it’s not easy, and we don’t make a lot of money doing it. We do it because it’s a gift we want to give back to the Lord for his glory and to help others know him and believe his love for them.
With that great focus in mind, are you involved in other ministries as well?
I am a public speaker for many different kinds of settings, including ladies’ clubs, civic organizations, and church groups. I love to talk about God’s grace and my own testimony of going from darkness to light as a teenager, as well as spread laughter to those I speak to. I am also a trained vocalist and often include a song or two with my messages.
Nearly everyone struggles with time management in our busy 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined enough to meet your deadlines?
I pray and ask the Lord to go before me and guide me. I tell him that I have this list I need to finish, but if he has a different plan, I give him permission to change my plans (that’s challenging!). I write all my goals down. People that write out their goals are 90% more likely to achieve them, if what I’ve read is true! Sometimes I even assign numbers to my list of things to accomplish, so if I only have time for a few, I get the top priorities done first. I’ve also learned to say “no” graciously. Saying “no” to something good can mean saying “yes” to the best plan.
I like that perspective on saying no—a difficult word for many of us to fit into our vocabulary.
In your years as an author and reader, do you have any special memories associated with libraries?
I remember my mom taking my brother and me to the library from the time I was about five. I loved the smell of the books and was excited to pick out some to take home. The higher the stack of books, the happier I was. When I started to read, it opened up the world to me and I’ve never stopped learning and growing from good literature. Well-written books are dear friends. I read to both of my own children from their infancy on, and they are both avid readers now. All our grandchildren are library fans as well!
Do you have—or make—time for hobbies, activities or passions outside of writing?
Watching old black and white movies with my husband, spending time with my grandkids, spoiling my three cats, traveling, and finding ways to avoid housework.
Perfect! Before we go, tell us about your next project.
Hello, Beautiful! Finally Love Yourself Just as You Are is a women’s devotional journal that focuses on finding our worth and value from the Lord’s perspective. My co-author, Beth Gormong, and I share our sometimes painful/always hopeful journeys to find lasting beauty in the eye of the beholder: God. Each chapter of this forty-day soul makeover contains an encouraging personal story from our lives, a scripture, and a journaling prompt. Three chapters end with a coloring page. Readers learn the secrets of seeing themselves through love’s viewpoint and how to shake off feelings of inadequacy. They are challenged to finally find the courage to look in the mirror and say, “Hello, Beautiful!”
Thank you, Jeanette.
For more about humorist Jeanette Levellie and her uplifting books, visit Jeanette’s website and blog.
Until next time, may all that you read be uplifting.