That Time When Anita Renfroe Took The Happiness Dare

September 6, 2016 | 26 comments

When I wrote The Happiness Dare, it was a way to say, “Look what I discovered! I can’t keep this is a secret!”

As the author of that long letter, I was super excited.

But I was super scared, too.

I had this fear, early on in the writing — a fear that I’m going to confess to you. I was afraid no one would open that book on happiness. I mean, I figured you would, because you’re my people, my friends, my long-time readers. My goodness, how I adore you! But I wasn’t so sure whether anyone else would dare to open the pages.

Even as I was writing the last chapters of the book, I feared that people would fall into two camps:

1 – “I’m already happy and don’t need to read a book about happiness.”

2 – “I’m worn out, sad, and weak — and happiness is too far out of reach.”

If you’ve read The Happiness Dare, you know how vulnerable the emotion of happiness is. You understand why my book opens with these four words: “This book scares me.”

So, two days before the book released, I flopped down on my couch, with my hands folded in my lap, and stared up at the ceiling, waiting for the familiar feelings of fear to return. Fears about sales, marketing, Amazon rankings, and all the other things that authors feel anxious about.

But the funniest thing happened. Those feelings of panic that I had felt early on while writing? They didn’t return that morning. I kept sitting there, waiting for a wave of fear, but it simply didn’t come. Instead, I heard these words in my spirit: “Wait for the surprises.” It was like a whisper from God.

Yeah, I had a marketing plan, a radio strategy, talking points, podcasts, and a series of pretty images ready to share with you on Pinterest. But it seemed that God was saying He had something more to show me than what was on my neatly bulleted list. He had surprises outside of my plans.

One of those surprises came when I made a new friend.

Her name is Anita.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 8.58.03 AM

Anita had read my post over at Ann Voskamp’s blog, and she tweeted about it. And then she tweeted me. A few hours later, she asked me to give her a call.

Anita was one of those surprises. Through her, God was answering questions that had rolled around in my mind for months:

Dare I release a book about happiness in times like these? Dare I encourage people to seek happiness in such a tumultuous age?

Yes, I did dare.

And, Anita Renfroe took that dare.

I’m guessing you know Anita. She’s a Christian comedian. Masses of people have laughed over her William Tell version of everything a Mom says. Anita is the kind of person who says what everyone else is thinking, but are too afraid to say out loud. 🙂

Anita is a Dare Taker. And quite honestly, she was taking her own happiness dare long before I wrote this book. She’s a “purveyor of fine joy.”

Anita and I got together over FaceTime last week, and recorded a video that I’m so excited to share with you today! We recorded two segments: one for (in)courage that I’m sharing with you right here! We recorded another session that will be broadcast on her talk show tonight.

On the video, we talk about the need for joy breaks, the bravery of happiness, and why cake for breakfast is the best choice.

“You get to wake up every day and choose hilarity or insanity. And I’m going to pick hilarity every time,” Anita tells me. “My life has been a long-term Happiness Dare. … You put to words what I have experienced.”


You can watch our 15-minute video below. (Email subscribers may need to click here.)

I’m so grateful for Anita and others like her. I’m grateful for our new friendship and the God-Surprise of having her in my life.

Here are three things that Anita is teaching me today:

1 – In the video, Anita teaches us that happiness is the bravest choice of all. It’s so easy to give in to the tide of cynicism. Happiness is a hard choice to make, but it’s always worth it.

2 – By reaching out to me, Anita teaches a valuable lesson about reaching back to help others who are trying to make their way. Anita has been tremendously successful in reaching the masses with her ministry. Sometimes, people who make it big don’t have a lot of time for lesser-known people just starting out. But Anita made time for me, because she believed in my message. That’s a gift.

3 – My agent, Bill Jensen, recently wrote these words: “Serve Jesus and others and leave it at that. If you get a following keep doing the same thing.” That’s the way Anita leads her ministry, and that’s the way I want to lead mine.


Book Giveaway

What did you learn from Anita today? Share in the comments. I’ll randomly select from the commenters and send one winner a signed copy of The Happiness Dare. (Share this post on social media to enter your name in the drawing multiple times. Just let me know where you shared! I will draw a winner on Friday and contact the winner by email. I’ll also post the winner’s first name and last initial right here!)

UPDATE: LYNN M. is the winner of the book!

Related Resources

Anita’s Talk Show,

Anita’s website,

My book, The Happiness Dare, on Amazon

Anita and I are both “Doers.” What’s your happiness style? Find out by clicking here.


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Hey Tell His Story crew! It is a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there!

Our featured writer this week is Kylie Howell. For those of us (all of us!) who have had prayers go seemingly unanswered, these words will be an encouraging reminder for your heart. Find Kylie here.

To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. xo Jennifer

by | September 6, 2016 | 26 comments


  1. Deborah Flora

    Your Hello Kitty robe makes me so happy! I love Hello Kitty still. 🙂

    Thank-you for your words on happy!

    • dukeslee

      I love Hello Kitty, too. I also have Hello Kitty jammies, Hello Kitty bath towel, Hello Kitty socks, and on it goes! 🙂

  2. Lorraine Maria

    I liked Anita’s thought that we can choose hilarity or insanity. Today I choose hilarity!

    • dukeslee

      And she is definitely hilarious! 🙂

  3. Annie

    Happiness does take courage, but it is so much better than the other choices. God wants us to be joyful–what better frame of mind to be in to share His word?

    • dukeslee

      So agreed, Annie!

  4. Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    What a fun conversation! I agree with Anita when she said that “happiness/joy reconnects us with hope”. I am really enjoying your book Jennifer and looking for ways to take “joy breaks” every day. 🙂

  5. Gayl Wright

    Happiness really is the bravest choice of all! Loved the conversation between you two! Blessings!

  6. Lisa Appelo @True and Faithful

    Insanity or hilarity? I love that quote. I so want my kids to see my laugh lines and not my serious frown face. Loved the conversation and those cute Hello Kitty jammies. 😀

  7. Angela Howard

    I love the emphasis on waking up everyday and making a choice. Beautiful!

  8. Karinda

    You need to take joy breaks.

  9. karen

    I’m SO “happy” for you! 🙂

  10. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Anita’s rendition of the WT Overture, was enough to keeping me happily laughing for a lifetime. She’s a gem. How lovely that God connected you two happy ladies, Jennifer. So grateful for this opportunity for you!

    • dukeslee

      Lynn! You won the copy of The Happiness Dare! I will FB you for your address. xo I know I have it somewhere here … but …

  11. Meghan Weyerbacher

    I can relate to the “over” doing it. I have never heard of her until now but certainly going to check our her podcast! You looked great on there, Jennifer!

  12. Anna Smit

    So loved reading what God spoke to you, to watch for the suprizes: what a fun God we serve and what an adventure faith truly is, isn’t it. I’ve never heard of Anita (but maybe because I don’t live in the States?), but it’s wonderful how she chose to reach out and encourage you.

    I love this advice you got: “Serve Jesus and others and leave it at that.” YES! Been learning that lately…and oh the freedom!

    I gave my sister your book for her birthday. She gravitates naturally toward happy, but life has been so very hard for her lately…praying this will be a super blessing to her…as it was to me.

  13. Eva Bridges

    Thanks for sharing this. Life has a way of beating the happiness out of us. And yet God I there holding out joy if we’ll only stop long enough to see it. I know I need to see it more often. I look forward to reading your book!

  14. Susan

    Laughter helps to reattach our HOPE. Priceless! #hopechangeseverything I am subscribing, Anita!!! Thank you Jennifer for letting us know about Anita’s online show!!!

  15. JViola79

    Loved this post! I have laughed so hard each time I was blessed to see Anita Renfroe at Women of Faith. So glad to have stopped here today as you both are sure to bring a smile to many faces!

  16. Julie Loos

    I have the choice to decide how my day will go. Insanity or hilarity. Perfect! I think that phrase alone will have me waking up with a chuckle and smile!
    The video was so much fun!
    You rocked those Hello Kitties;)

  17. Plaine

    I’ve heard many times before that “Happiness is a choice” direction, but I love the acknowledgment that sometimes it is a HARD choice. Thanks for letting us watch your time with Anita!

  18. Patricia Holbrook

    Oh, how I agree with you about Anita!! She is the real deal… months ago I reached out to her about my ministry’s first women’s conference (we live in the same area) and she agreed to sit down for coffee, where she shared precious information with me. Love her and she indeed is a “purveyor of fine joy.” Thank you, Jennifer. You are a beautiful soul!

  19. Rebecca

    So exciting to see your message spreading like wildfire! So much joy and excitement! God uses those things tucked deep in our hearts!

  20. Nancy Ruegg

    “Happiness is the bravest choice of all, but always worth it.” AMEN! That statement took me back to a time when hurt and discouragement threatened to drown me. Gratitude and praise were to my soul what exercise is for the body: strengthening and energizing. (I still struggled, but praise and worship helped greatly.) I share in your excitement and anticipation of new surprises yet to come, Jennifer, and the ministry God is expanding for you! Hip-hip hallelujah!

  21. Theresa Boedeker

    Surprises happen every day. Even when we don’t expect them. Excited about your surprise and cheering for you.

  22. Lyli Dunbar

    okay, I am finally sitting down to watch this today, and I am smiling from ear to ear that you are in your Hello Kitty PJs. Love you!



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