A Year of Smiles – Day 179

Reason to SMILE #179: PEANUT BUTTER FILLED PRETZELS 

They’re bite-sized pretzel pillows filled with delicious and creamy peanut butter. I was first introduced to them on Father’s Day. “There has to be something salty with all those sweet donuts,” the breakfast organizer said.

We wound up with plenty of the tasty treats leftover so I took some home. Now, I can’t get enough of them. They are the perfect snack when I want something to eat but don’t really know what I want.

The problem is they’re addictive. I can’t stop at just three or four. I’m weak – a slave to their charms because they make my tastebuds SMILE. I cannot resist such deliciousness.

Nom. Nom. Nom…. Oh, please come take these things from me! ūüėČ

A Year of Smiles – Day 178

smiley-singing-loudReason to SMILE #178: SINGING LIKE NO ONE IS LISTENING

There’s nothing like singing at the top of your lungs while driving down the road to work to help you find your SMILE.

Sometimes a few minutes of unashamedly belting out the lyrics to a favorite song is all it takes to drown out the cares of this world.¬† By the time I arrived at work today, my singing session had successfully fulfilled it’s purpose and I was indeed SMILING.

I’m fairly certain I made a few other drivers on the road SMILE, as well.¬† Although, they were most likely smiling for a completely different reason! ūüėČ

 

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Soapboxes and Servants

I’m revisiting one of my posts from several years ago. ¬†It seems God wanted to remind me of its message today. ¬†Perhaps there’s another who needs to hear this message, as well.


Sometimes I stand on my soapbox.  Sometimes I climb even further and sit on my high horse.  I like it from up there.  I can see much more clearly in that position.  I can think without the distractions of the opinions of others.  I can make my declarations without interruption from those standing below.  I can feel satisfied and proud of myself for standing up, for saying what I believe, for spreading the message of truth and what is right (at least, what I think is truth and what I think is right).

Yes, I can stand on my soapbox and sit on my high horse¬†because it‚Äôs the¬†easy thing to do.¬† In fact, we all¬†can¬†do what is easy.¬† It’s the difficult¬†that¬†gives us problems.¬† It’s those things we know we should do, such as¬†walking in the steps of¬†Jesus, that we find so hard.¬†¬†For¬†His steps may lead us to the houses of sinners or¬†require us to¬†love the unlovable.¬†¬†Jesus’ steps may direct us to wash the feet of our brothers and sisters in Christ, to¬†serve¬†our neighbors¬†or to forgive our enemies.¬† The steps of Jesus may even¬†require us to rethink our¬†definitions of truth and¬†re-evaluate what we believe is right.

Certainly, to follow in our Savior‚Äôs steps is¬†no easy task but¬†I can’t help but think that¬†we¬†make it¬†harder¬†than it should be.¬†¬†You see, it‚Äôs tough to be a servant from the lofty heights on which we choose to stand.¬† And it‚Äôs difficult to share our Savior‚Äôs love while clinging to the reigns of our pride.¬† It appears it would be easier to follow in the steps of Jesus if we were a bit closer to the ground.

Oh, Lord, forgive me for climbing atop my soapbox and for mounting that high horse in times when You want me to deny myself, swallow my pride and simply serve others.  I want to follow in your steps.  So make me a servant, dear Lord.  May my words and my actions exalt only You.  Amen.


Mark 10:45 (NIV) For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Philippians 2:5-7 (NIV) 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Mark 9:35¬†(ESV)¬†And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‚ÄúIf anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.‚ÄĚ

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

A Year of Smiles – Day 177

Reason to SMILE #177: A HOT PINK HANDBAG

I don’t know what came over me.¬† I was browsing through smiley-with-handbagthe¬†oodles of purses at a local department store and there it was.¬† I had to have it.¬† Now, I would normally gravitate toward the safe¬†and boring colors, like brown or¬†black, but I was¬†drawn to the pink¬†handbag.¬† Pink!¬† I don’t do pink.¬† At least, I didn’t until now.

I have come to the conclusion that¬†I am going through a mid-life crisis.¬† I’m buying clothes and accessories in colors I normally wouldn’t wear.¬† I’m wearing lipstick which I’ve rarely ever done.¬† I’m painting my toenails orange, for Pete’s sake!¬† It’s either a crisis or… hmmm… I don’t know what else it could be.

So, if you see me dressed in chartreuse polka dots¬†while toting my hot pink handbag, just SMILE.¬† I’m sure I’ll be¬†back to¬†my normal self in no time unless…

…this could be me not caring what anyone else thinks, choosing things that make me SMILE and¬†allowing my true self to¬†finally¬†shine.¬† Yeah.¬† That sounds much better than “mid-life crisis”, don’t you think?¬† ūüėČ

 

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A Year of Smiles – Day 176

Reason to SMILE #176: GRACE

John 3:16 (NIV) For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.


God’s grace is not restricted to those who are powerful, those who are rich, those who come from the right neighborhood or those who behave a certain way.  God’s grace is freely given to ALL who believe.

So why is the grace we choose to show limited to only a select few?

Knowing that I am loved, forgiven and accepted by God no matter my past, no matter my mistakes and no matter my proclivity for messing up, is the greatest SMILE of all.

Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Matthew 7:1-2 (ESV) Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.


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A Year of Smiles – Day 175

Reason to SMILE #175: BARE FEET

The first thing I do when I get home is take feet-42939_640off my shoes.¬† Not because I’m worried about my carpet or anything – I live with three males so that¬†concern went out the window years ago.¬† No, I take off my shoes because I’d much rather go without them.¬† Who needs shoes when the feet God gave us are perfectly adequate!

Don’t get me wrong.¬† I’m no wild child longing to run rampant through the great outdoors barefoot and carefree.¬† Not me at all!¬† I love a cute pair of shoes but the older I get, the more I just want to be comfortable.¬† So off the shoes go when I hit my bedroom door.

The funny thing about¬†my longing to¬†unshod my feet is that¬†I have just the opposite desire for¬†my kids at church.¬† One of our rules is to keep your shoes on your feet.¬† What they don’t know is that all afternoon on Wednesdays, I’m usually running around the church¬†barefoot as I’m¬†preparing for our evening activities.¬† Pretty unfair, isn’t it?¬† No.¬† You try being in¬†the same¬†room with thirty kids who have just been playing out in the heat for twenty minutes and have all decided to kick off their sweaty, smelly¬†shoes.¬†Thus, the rule!

I wear my shoes¬†because society dictates.¬† And because my feet need protection!¬† I live in the South and I’d be suffering from third degree burns in the summer if I tried to walk on the asphalt with just my bare feet.¬† And speaking of the South…

What prompted this post today was all of the shoes I¬†see lying in the road.¬† Everywhere I go, I find that someone has lost a shoe.¬† Not both shoes just one!¬† How do you lose a shoe when you’re driving down the road?¬†¬†Does this happen other places?¬† Well, all I can say is that the South must be full of SMILING people free of their shoes and society’s restraints…¬†at least¬†they’re free of one shoe anyway!¬† ūüėČ

A Year of Smiles – Day 174

Reason to SMILE #174: WEDDINGS

 

Blissful and elegant,

A charming delight,

Eagerly enters

The beauty in white.

 

Dapper and dashing,

A fear-stricken mess,

Anxiously awaits

The groom at his best.

 

Shiny and lighthearted,

A roomful of grins,

Respectfully dotes

Their fam’ly and friends.

 

The scene is a wonder

Where time has no end.

When two become one,

A new life begins.

 

But is it the picture

We place on the wall?

Is it as perfect

As our minds recall?

 

Last time I checked,

A wedding takes work.

One day of magic

Leaves dad in the lurch.

 

And on the blessed day

Not one thing is right –

Not flowers, not cake,

Not dresses, not lights.

 

The Moms are both frantic;

Dads sink in defeat.

The flower girl’s mad

And stomping her feet.

 

The bridesmaids are fighting;

The groomsmen don’t care.

The bride’s feet are cold;

The groom is… nowhere!

 

So many emotions

In such a short time.

So many mishaps

To thwart groom and bride.

 

So what’s the big hubbub?

Why all of the fuss?

Is it all worth it

To turn me to us?

 

Despite all the chaos,

There’s one thing that’s true:

It’s worth any price

To hear said, “I do.”

 

“I do take my lover

To be by my side

I promise to stay

Our love will abide.

 

“I will fight to uphold

This most sacred vow

And when times are rough

We’ll make it… somehow.”

 

And when your days married

Have turned into years,

You’ll look back and smile

(Perhaps shed some tears)

 

On all of the folly

Of your special day

And thank God for blessing

Your life anyway!



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A Year of Smiles – Day 173

Reason to SMILE #173: NICKNAMES

I have this fear.¬† It overtakes me when I check my Facebook notifications and find that one of my college friends has commented on a post or tagged me in a picture.¬†¬†Oh no! I wonder… ¬†I almost cringe as I click¬†to navigate to the post.¬†¬†With hands covering my eyes, I peek through slightly spread fingers as the picture or¬†comment appears.¬† Whew! She didn’t call me by my nickname this time!¬†

I had some of the best friends in college.¬† We had so Hello_my_name_is_sticker.svgmuch fun, shared lots of laughter, supported¬†one another, gave nicknames to each other.¬† Wait. ¬†Let me rephrase that.¬† They gave one to me!¬† From the first day I walked into my dorm, one of¬†the first friends that I met¬†decided¬†I¬†reminded her of a Precious Moments figure.¬† This prompted her to begin calling me¬†“Pookie”.¬† And it spread!¬† By the time I graduated, the name had stuck.¬† I will forever be “Pookie”¬†to my college buddies.¬†¬†And¬†yes, they still call me by that name today…on Facebook…where the whole world can see!

Oh, but I¬†wouldn’t have it any other way!¬† I love to hear my college friends call me “Pookie”.¬† It reminds me that I am¬†loved and it takes me back to some of the best days of my life.

I’ve had other nicknames¬†through the years.¬† Some were good:

“Kari-poo” – given to me by my¬†mom when I was very young,

“KJ” – given to me by¬†my dad¬†as I got older (My family and many friends still call me that today.) and

“Li’l Bit” – given to me by my youth director when I was a teenager.

Some of¬†the nicknames I’ve¬†been given were not so pleasant:

“Duck Walk” – given to¬†me as a child by¬†a bully on my bus (You can read that story¬†here.) and

“Copy Lady” – given to me by an entitled little man who didn’t know my name but saw me by the copier and thought it would be funny (It only happened once… If looks could kill!)

The bad come with the good but that’s life, isn’t it?¬† Thankfully, my life has been filled with¬†wonderfully good¬†friends and family who have found something so special in me that they have to give it a name. And even if¬†it embarrasses me a little, when I hear those special nicknames, I always¬†SMILE.

How about you?¬† Do you have a nickname that makes you SMILE?¬† Don’t be embarrassed.¬† Hey, I’ve already shared mine so we can be embarrassed together!

A Year of Smiles – Day 172

 

Reason to SMILE #172: A GIFT FROM A CHILD

Wednesdays, I think,¬†are my favorite day of the week because I get to have fun at Kids Central, the children’s ministry at my church.¬† Our biggest group of kids attend the mid-week activities and I love seeing each and every one of them.¬† Wednesday nights are jam-packed with music, skits, games, snacks, crafts¬†and, of course, Bible study.¬† It’s organized chaos at it’s finest.¬† Did I¬†mention¬†how fun it is?

Tonight was no different. A whole lotta¬†kids, a whole lotta¬†chaos and a whole lotta fun.¬† But my SMILE actually came before the evening activities¬†kicked off.¬† A sweet little girl, who had arrived¬†early,¬†walked up to¬†me with a package of sorts and said, “I made this for you.” Anytime this happens, I can’t help but SMILE but as I opened her precious gift, my heart soared.¬† Check it out:

Hover over¬†the pictures for a “translation”. ūüėČ ¬†There was a message on the inside of the main envelope (top right picture).¬† It¬†says, “I love you and God is awesome and Jesus is awesome and you are awesome too and I wish church is every day. Good bye.”

This is a SMILE worth treasuring!

 

A Year of Smiles – Day 171

Reason to SMILE #171: SIGNS

“It’s a sign,” I heard him say. ¬†He had made the decision to work away from home.¬† His current job was making him miserable. ¬†He needed a change but this change included more than beginning a new job. ¬†It also included a new city and a new home away from his family¬†– at least during the work week.

He set out to prepare for his move. ¬†He sold a few of his large possessions to build up some funds. ¬†He found his buyers fairly easy and he received the prices for which he asked. ¬†“It’s a sign,” he said that his decision was the right one.

Moving day arrived. ¬†Finding a place to stay was not as simple as finding buyers for his possessions but an apartment finally became available. ¬†He¬†approached the front door of his new abode and noticed the welcome mat. ¬†“Believe in your dreams,” it read.

“That has to be a sign,” he concluded.

Have you ever looked for signs to help you make a decision in life? ¬†Have you ever asked God to show you a sign when life’s decisions seemed too difficult? ¬†I certainly have. ¬†At times, when I’ve been at my most desperate, I’ve even asked God to simply tell me the choice I should make.¬†¬†“Spell it out for me, God. ¬†Write it on the wall or in the sky. ¬†A Post-it¬ģ note will even do.”

I’m still waiting on those Post-it notes.

I do believe that God gives us signs in life – signs of His presence, signs of His love, signs of His promises, even signs that lead us along life’s journey – but I’ve learned that His signs aren’t¬†always¬†the flashing neon¬†billboards that we desire.¬†¬†He’s usually¬†a bit more subtle. ¬†You see, God is all about developing our character,¬†growing our faith and building a relationship with us.¬†¬†He’d much rather we seek His direction and will for our lives¬†through the study of His Word, through prayer, through our fellowship with Him and through the wisdom of mature Christians He places in our lives.

God wants to guides us along life’s journey¬†but He won’t¬†force us to¬†follow Him.¬† We have the¬†power to choose. Unfortunately, we treat this gift of choice¬†as if it were a second-hand trinket found at a yard sale. Instead of relying on the truth of God’s Word or the answers found in our daily communion with God, we base our decisions and choices on our desires and feelings.¬†¬†Then wanting confirmation of our decisions, we pray for a¬†sign, anything that will substantiate our choices.¬†¬†We¬†discard our faith in God and we find ourselves making major life decisions based on¬†a message we read on a doormat.

Are you looking for a sign today?  Try spending time with your Heavenly Father.  Open up and read His Word.  Talk to Him and wait for His answer.  He will guide you if you choose to follow.

So, use that doormat for what it¬†was meant and remember this:¬†There’s no greater sign that you’re following God’s lead than the peace He puts in your¬†heart.¬† And a¬†peaceful heart¬†shows all over¬†your¬†face! ūüôā