LOL is probably the most overused, underwhelming texting lingo of our day. And the funny thing is, it hardly ever really means “laughing out loud.” Most often, it means, “I found that mildly amusing. One corner of my mouth went up just a tad and I might have even let out a little snicker.”

Then there is ROTFL – is that even right? Rolling on the floor laughing – but of course nobody is actually rolling on the floor. This just means that the person is highly amused and probably let out one solid “Ha!”, but I would bet they didn't even LOL, for real.

So that’s my question: When was the last time you laughed out loud? Laughed so hard that you cried? Couldn’t fall asleep because every time you thought about whatever made you laugh, you laughed all over again?

Recently, a couple of episodes of Friends made me LOL. The one where they all go on vacation to the beach and the humidity makes Monica’s hair frizzy. With each scene her hair gets increasingly frizzier, the rest of the gang cracks jokes, and by the end of the show (she is probably wearing a wig) she looks like Bozo the clown. I laughed so hard I cried. Or, (click to view)“The One where Joey speaks French.” My hubby and I were both crying over that one. Or my absolute favorite, “The One with Joey on The Pyramid game show.” It’s like there’s a switch in the deepest part of our psyches that can move us from laughter to tears and back again, like the switch on a railroad that sends the train on a different track. And I don’t know what happens, or the science behind it, but laughing that hard is cleansing on a very deep level. Refreshing release. It feels so good to laugh.

Nothing beats the “I can’t breathe” kind of laughter. And a close second is hearing someone you love laugh that hard. Recently I was on the phone with my sister, Kari, and she told me to check out some funny postings from a mutual facebook friend. Here’s what I read:

"I don't want to make anyone jealous but....I can still fit into the earrings I wore in high school!" Bahaha!

"Oh I'm sorry...did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?" Bahahaha!

"Welcome to Hollister, would you like a gas mask and a flashlight?"

“Sunglasses: allowing you to stare at people without getting caught. It's like Facebook in real life!"

Kari had already read these quotes, but she didn’t want to end our call because it was so much fun hearing me laugh out loud.

And is there any sound more divine than hearing your children belly laugh? It is irrelevant whether or not you find the object of their laughter worthy – hearing or seeing others laugh is contagious and immensely enjoyable.

Makes me wonder if God laughs? I usually think of Him in more serious terms: Loving, Holy, Sovereign, All-powerful, and rightly so. But Laughing? Does He really laugh? I think He does, and I think He loves to hear His children LOL. One of my favorite paintings of Christ is one where his head is thrown back, and he's laughing out loud. The gospels describe Jesus as being "full of joy," and great with children. And we know that anyone that is great with kids has to have a sense of humor.

This Christmas, some friends and I took our children Christmas caroling at a nursing home. After visiting a couple of the residents in their rooms and serenading them with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” my friend and I overheard this conversation in the hall between two six-year-old children in our group:

“How long do you think before all these people die?”

“I don’t know, maybe two years?”

“Yeah, probably two years.”

Before Christmas, my husband, Bernie, and I did a little shopping. We made our purchases and then headed out to the parking lot. Next stop: lunch. I stood by the passenger door of our silver Toyota Sienna, waiting for Bernie to unlock the door. I tried the handle a couple of times, listening for the “click” of the locks and wondering what was taking him so long. I finally looked through the passenger side window to give him a “what’s the hold-up?” gesture, and there he was – two cars over, laughing his head off in the driver’s seat. I joined him, in our minivan and in laughter, because life is more fun if you can laugh at yourself.

Laughter is the best medicine. Isn’t that what Reader’s Digest has been saying all these years? Their humor column, now called, “Life’s Funny That Way,” is the first thing I turn to when I pick up a copy in the doctor’s office waiting room. I’m sure that the articles, Instant Ways to Energize Your Life, and Inspiring Love Stories are very good, but I only have a few minutes, and I need to laugh. These are from the Feb. 2012 issue (read while waiting for my daughter at the orthodontist’s office.)

I finally convinced my mother that it was a good idea for her to learn to text. Her first message to me? “Whereisthespacebar?” –Cindy Roden, Dallesport, Washington

After one glance at my updated driver’s license photo, I said the first thing that came to mind: “Ugghhh!”

“What’s wrong?” the DMV clerk asked.

“I look ancient in this picture.”

“Well look at the bright side: In five years, you’ll love it.” –Andrea Raiter, Milford, MA

The topic for my third-grade class was genetics. Smiling broadly, I pointed to my dimples and asked, “What trait do you think I passed on to my children?”

One student called out “Wrinkles!”– Lynn Gragg, Woodbury, Tennessee

And what about the times we laugh inappropriately at certain happenings? Like the YouTube video of the woman who fell into a mall fountain because she was texting? I watched that video over and over, laughing harder with each viewing. I laugh when people trip. I laugh when my husband can’t get the leash on our puppy – she’s biting him, he’s yelling, “Stop biting me!!” and I’m laughing out loud. Does this make me a bad person? Sometimes something strikes me as funny, and I don’t really know why. Like this picture I found:

I wouldn’t have use for a book like this, and I can’t think of anyone I’d like to punch in the face, but it still made me laugh. Out loud.

If you’re like me, you could probably use a little more laughter in your life. So find a show that makes you laugh; spend time with people that make you laugh; make someone LOL.

A couple more, because it’s hard to stop:

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the heck she is.” ~Ellen DeGeneres

Me: "Every time I look at this table, there is more and more C-R-A-P on it..."
My 6-yr old, about 5 seconds later: "Why don't you just say crap?"

"Wow, that's a nice lookin' pair of crocs." said no one ever.