Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy

By Barbara Johnson

Going through a rough time? Barbara Johnson lets you in on the secret that “Pain is inevitable but misery is optional”. Her book “Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy” comes out of four devastating experiences that equip Johnson with the credentials to help others work through their own pain.

There are parts in the book that made me wonder how anyone could survive through the tragedies, and parts that made me smile. It is a book that makes one feel.

Johnson first takes the reader through her own experiences – her husband’s near fatal accident and slow recovery from debilitating injuries, followed by the loss of one son in Vietnam and another son to a drunk driver, plus a third son declaring he is gay and Johnson herself being diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes – all within seven years, She is candid about how each experience affected her, the emotions she had to process and the depression she went through.

The book moves into Johnson’s Spatula ministry to help others move through tragedy into joy with stories, anecdotes, poems, quotes and Bible verses. Given Johnson’s reputation as a humorist, I expected to laugh more as I read the book. I also did not expect the book to center as much on her third son being gay and helping Christian parents through the realization that their child is a homosexual.

Johnson’s book offers a lot of encouragement and help to those who need to find joy in their lives, let go of circumstances over which they have no control, and helps to find ways to give those circumstances to God.

The book also made me realize that one person’s tragedy is not another’s. Each person has their own set of circumstances and their own level of tolerance and unconditional love. The loss of two sons would tear me apart much more than a child being gay. I would jump for joy that he is still alive for me to love.


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