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!  😉

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”. 😉  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 165

Reason to SMILE #165: BLUE FROSTING 

The Scene: Snack Room on a Wednesday night at church

The Snack: Sugar cookies shaped like surfboards

The Group: Six year old boys and girls

The Instructions: Decorate your own surfboard cookie with frosting and sprinkles. DON’T PLAY WITH THE FROSTING!

That one kid: 


His response: “What? Don’t judge me!”

How could I not SMILE at a blue faced little boy enjoying such a yummy mess?

A Year of Smiles – Day 164

Reason to SMILE #164: SUMMERTIME 


Summertime, summertime, sum-sum-summertime

Summertime, summertime, sum-sum-summertime

Summerti-i-me

(Summertime Summertime by The Jamies)

Yay! It’s summer! No more school. No more hurried schedules. Time for vacations, afternoons at the pool, picnics, walks on the beach, summer rain showers, evenings outside by the grill and…

Water Wednesdays!

Each summer, I plan special activities for the kids at my church all centered around water games. I love it! There’s nothing like hearing kids scream after getting bombed with a water balloon or squirted with a water gun or doused with ice cold water. Oh, what fun! And the kids love it, too! 😉

Summertime – when the sunshine is generous, the fun is abounding and the SMILES are endless.

What summertime activity makes you SMILE?

A Year of Smiles – Day 163

Reason to SMILE #163: THE 5 SECOND RULE


I was cooking.

Yes, I was cooking.

This has been a year for cooking for me.  I’ve cooked more this year than I’ve ever cooked in my life! It’s strange since the cooking in my house is usually done by someone other than me. But I’ll let you in on a secret.

Are you ready?

Come close because I can’t speak this too loudly…

I really do enjoy cooking!

It’s relaxing and it gives me a sense of accomplishment. Who knew!

I digress.

Tonight, I was bagging a few unneeded cobs of corn to put in the freezer. One slipped from my hand and fell to the kitchen floor. I immediately picked it up and just did catch myself trying to put it in the bag with all the rest. Ewww! I couldn’t help but laugh at myself, though, for the only thing going through my mind at the time was the voice of one of my church kids screaming, “Five second rule!”

It’s times like these when I know I’ve been in children’s ministry entirely too long! But what can I do? It’s my calling and it makes me SMILE – but not when it almost ruins my supper!!

A Year of Smiles – Day 158

Reason to SMILE #158: WINNING NUMBERS

55The number of children who attended Vacation Bible School at our church this year.

The number of lives we were able to pour into and connect with.

The number of families represented and opportunities for outreach and prayer.

 

10The number of Bibles given to children who did not own a copy of the Word of God until this week.

The number of hearts that will be opened by the promises of the Heavenly Father and the truth of His Word.

The number of homes that will be illuminated by the message of God’s love.

 

6The number of children who made decisions for God.

The number of lives that will forever be changed by the life-altering truth of the Gospel.

The number of faces glowing because of the victory found in following Jesus.

 

These are the numbers God placed before me and my church.  He asked us to care for, to invest in, to love on and to lift up not only 55 children but also the families they represent.  He asked us to deliver His Word to 10 children who will carry God’s message to their homes and communities.  He asked us to be faithful to share His message of love and salvation and entrusted us with 6 beautiful children to nurture and lead along their journeys of following Jesus.

55 children, 10 Bibles, 6 decisions for God and countless SMILES – what more could a VBS director ask for?

A Year of Smiles – Day 157

Reason to SMILE #157: TACO SALAD

4:29 PM.  I’m preparing for the third night of Vacation Bible School at my church.  I have an hour before the night begins so I’m pretty busy.  My phone whistles.  “On no!” I think. “Please don’t let it be someone who can’t make it.”

I pick up my phone and am pleasantly surprised to see that it’s my older son who is currently away for the summer interning at a church in North Georgia.  He has this question for me:

text 1Several things begin to run through my mind:

What a horrible mom I am for sending my kid off on his own without teaching him how to cook!

How am I supposed to get everything I need to do done in the little time I have and teach my kid how to cook at the same time?

And how in the world am I supposed to teach this kid to cook via text message?

Over the next few minutes, my son and I text back and forth while I go about prepping for VBS Night Three.  From how much meat is needed to browning the meat to heating up the black beans, I give the instructions as succinctly as I can and I say a quick prayer for safety.  Lord, please don’t let him burn down the Youth Minister’s house!

6:59 PM.  VBS was running smoothly.  I decide to find out how the cooking went.  So, I send my son another text:

text 2    taxo salad

He did good!  He made his momma SMILE.

I may have been busy when that text was sent to me this afternoon but it made no difference.  My son needed me and I was going to do everything I could to help – even if it meant giving a cooking lesson by text!

A Year of Smiles – Day 155

wow-smiley-astonished-emoticonReason to SMILE #155: WHEN GOD “SHOWS UP”

Music was playing. Children and youth were on stage singing and dancing – oops! I mean performing worshipful motions to their songs – and the majority of the congregation was clapping along. The kids were on their fourth and last song and they were truly enjoying themselves as they praised God to “their kind of music”.  I was having a great time as I clapped, sang and watched our kids perform.  In fact, I was pretty pleased that everything was going so well.  Then, it happened…

Have you ever noticed that every now and then, God likes to stir things up a little?

This morning as our kids were singing about the victory God gives us when we choose to love and follow Him, a young man with autism was sitting with his parents in the congregation.  This young man loves music and well, he really did not have the best of views from his seat in the sanctuary.  He was wiggling and inching around in order to see what was happening on stage.  Finally, he decided to remedy the situation.  He got up and walked across the front of the sanctuary to another spot as daddy followed quickly behind him.

The music continued as this young man walked around the front of the sanctuary a bit as if dissatisfied with any view he tried.  Finally, he opted for the best view in the house – the stage.  He walked up onto center stage, turned around to face the congregation and began swaying and bouncing to the music.  Suddenly, the church was awakened.  Cheers erupted all over the sanctuary. Members stood to their feet and applauded as spirits all over the sanctuary were lifted by this young man’s actions.

Often I hear Christians declare after a great moving of God, “Yep. God showed up today.”  The funny thing is, though, God is always with us.  He’s promised that in His Word.  “I will never leave you,” He said.  Yet we say, “He showed up” as if He’s left us for a while and we’re surprised He thought to pay us a visit.  Maybe I have it all wrong but I find it strange that we are so surprised by the presence of God. Or maybe it’s not that strange at all.  Maybe our surprise comes because there’s been something in our lives (lack of obedience, broken fellowship, etc.) that has prevented us from sensing His presence… Just maybe.

God is always with us.  Sometimes, our sin keeps us from recognizing His presence and we need to restore our relationship with Him.  Sometimes, we need to stand on His promise and live our lives expecting to sense His presence and see His mighty works.  And sometimes, we need a young man who only wants to see what’s happening on the stage to open our eyes and remind us that God is always there!

Thank you, God, for stirring things up today by using this young man to remind me of your presence in my life.  And thank you, dear Noah,  for the SMILE!


Image by symbols-n-emoticons.com

A Year of Smiles – Day 154

Reason to SMILE #154: HELPING HANDSshake-my-hand-smiley

My “to do” list today was at least five yards long. I awoke dreading what I knew would be an exhausting day. I pulled the covers over my head hoping to go back to sleep and wake up again to find the overwhelming list was all a dream…

It wasn’t.

Regardless of my reluctance, I began my day and my list. Fortunately, I did not have to tackle my list alone. Today I was surrounded by many helping hands who gave up a Saturday to ready our church for Vacation Bible School. Though the list seemed at times to grow rather than shorten and time seemed to flitter away rather than linger, those helping hands worked tirelessly until feet were pained, backs were aching and eyes were heavy.  I was blessed today by their commitment, faithfulness and willingness to serve. They made up for my lack of drive and excitement and at the end of the long and wearisome day, all of their hard work had paid off and the church was finally ready.

I thank God for sending those wonderful helping hands today. They brought a SMILE not only to my face but also to my soul – my very tired and worn out soul!


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A Year of Smiles – Day 148

Reason to SMILE #148: ELVISelvis-presley-157007_960_720

The music echoed through the room drowning the voices of the tired Children’s Choir.  The usual spunk of these kids was overpowered by their timidity to learn a new song.  When the music ended, I made a few unsuccessful attempts to spark a little interest in the group.  Finally, I asked, “What does it mean when we sing ‘God is awesome’?”

“He’s great.”

“He’s big.”

“He’s a good God.”

Most of the children responded quickly.  However, I noticed one little boy who seemed to be pondering the question with great intensity.  After a few moments of deep thought, his face lit up as he proudly announced, ” ‘God is awesome’ means that God is like Elvis Presley!”

The workings of a child’s mind are amazing at times. That God and Elvis Presley would be equal in comparison is appalling to some.  However, the image of Elvis Presley, “The King,” is all this child knew that would describe the awesomeness of God.  To him, God is greater than great and bigger than big.  To him, God is like Elvis Presley.

Our God is an awesome God.  To some this means He is the greatest of all beings.  To others, this describes His goodness.  And to other, His awesomeness is beyond description. With our imperfect images of God, we grasp at understanding who He is. We gain a small sense of understanding as we relate God to things or people that we know. We cling to these limited revelations of this temporary life as we await the full and glorious revelation of all eternity.

How awesome is your God?  Can he captivate you with His love songs (His Word)? Can He cause you to shout when you enter His presence?  Do you swoon with His touch?  Does the mention of His name bring a SMILE to your heart and soul?

Is God the King of your life today?