A Year of Smiles РDay 223

Reason to SMILE #223: THE HAPPINESS OF OTHERS

Do any of you ever post things on your favorite social media site then constantly check to see how many likes you have or if anyone has commented? 

Any of you? 

Ever?

No? 

Yeah, me neither. 

Uhm, excuse me a moment. I need to go check something. ūüėČ

While I was randomly scrolling through Facebook today – I wasn’t checking on yesterday’s blog post or anything like that! – I came across one of those friendship videos that an old college friend shared. I paused my scrolling long enough to watch the slide show of pictures from his life, pictures of his wife and child, vacation fun and other memories that I’m sure meant very much to him. Each picture showed my friend and his family smiling and truly enjoying their lives together. And by time the little video had reached its end, I realized I was smiling, too. It was nice to see my friend’s joy. I couldn’t help but SMILE!

You know, this whole being part of the human race thing really does have its perks. We have each other to walk with through life, to help carry our burdens, to cry with. We also have each other to share in our joys, to celebrate our triumphs, to have fun together and to help us find a SMILE.

You see, it’s all part of God’s design. I have no doubt that you and I were made to make each other SMILE!

Romans 12:15 (NIV) Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 (NIV) If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

A Year of Smiles – Day 221

Reason to SMILE #221: POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE

noun

‚ÄĘ splendid celebration with ceremony and fuss

Tonight at Kids Central (the children’s ministry at my church), we celebrated the promotion of six of my kids to the youth department (The City). Each year, I make a huge deal out of this rite of passage by making the rising sixth graders wear graduation caps (made from construction paper and yarn), donning them with honors (a beaded necklace with a plastic graduation cap pendant) and having them march from the children’s hall up to the youth area to the sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance.” The kids think I’m crazy! I think it’s fun.


Why not make a fuss over the promotion of these kids? It’s a big deal, especially to these 6th graders. For the past year, they’ve been itching to hit The City. They had reached the top of the pecking order in the children’s department. They’d been the top dogs, the leaders, and were beginning to feel a little out of place. To these kids, they are no longer kids and they’re ready to be considered a young adult.

I see it a bit differently! In my eyes, they’re still kids. Being in the youth group doesn’t change that. They’ll always be my kids and I’m going to miss them at Kids Central. That’s why I make such a big deal of their promotion. I’m proud of them. I’m proud of what they’ve learned in their time at Kids Central. I’m proud of their growth – personal, social and spiritual. And I know that The City will be a little brighter now that some of my kids are a part of it.

Okay. Now I’m making myself cry!

I can’t stop these kids from growing and I can’t keep them at Kids Central no matter how much I want to. Though I hate to see them go, I will continue to usher them into the youth group with all the pomp and circumstance they deserve. And I will SMILE as I watch them march down the hall knowing that God has great things in store for these kids.

I’ll also SMILE knowing what’s waiting on these new youth group members once they walk through The City doors: a clobbering with pool noodles, an attack with silly string, an assault of noise makers and all the fun stuff that comes with welcoming the newbies!

A Year of Smiles – Day 220

Reason to SMILE #220: ENERGY BOOSTS


What refuels your tank? What inspires you and keeps you going? What encourages you when you’ve lost your moxie? What gives you that extra oomph to get you through the home stretch?

Good friends?

Inspirational quotes?

Cute little memes?

Prayer?

God’s Word?

Great! Those are all fantastic. Keep seeking that encouragement!

Now. What brings you down? What stops you in your tracks? What makes you stumble? What snuffs out that flame within?

Negative people?

Bad days?

Disappointment?

Criticism?

Struggles?

What if, instead of allowing these things to bring us down, we converted all that negativity into fuel for our fires? What if we took everything meant to stop us and harnessed its power and energy to push us even further toward our goals?

What if? Negativity is thrown at us everyday. We have a choice to either allow it to bring us down, stifle our growth and rob us of our joy or to let it strengthen our resolve, affirm our callings and broaden our SMILES. 

Energy siphon? Or energy boost? Which one will you choose?

A Year of Smiles – Day 219

Reason to SMILE #219: A GOOD, SWIFT KICK 

… in the pants! 

Yep. There are times when it is completely necessary. Sometimes we get in a funk and can’t seem to find our way out. We begin wallowing in self-pity and despair over lost love, an unfavorable situation at work or a missed opportunity. The more we think of our unhappy circumstances, the more we whine and complain. And with each verse of our sob songs, we make ourselves and all those around us more and more miserable. Until… 

… someone decides to gives us a good, swift kick in the hiney or a smack on the back of the head. Sure. It may not always take a physical altercation to bring us out of our negativity and back to the land of abundant living but a kick sure does grab the attention! And when we’ve made it past a certain point in our little pity parties, it often takes something drastic to wake us up from our self-indulgent stupors.

Even more, it takes someone special to do the waking, kicking or rescuing. It takes someone willing to take us by the shoulders, look us in the eyes and tells us to get with it, to stop dwelling on our problems and start counting our blessings. It takes someone willing to risk a friendship or risk the backlash they may incur in order to help a friend find joy again.

We need lots of someones like that in our lives. We need to be those someones for others.

A good, swift kick in the pants most likely will not make us SMILE – at least not at first. But if it works, if it wakes us up from our stupor of negativity and self-pity, we’ll be grateful to the one who cared enough to do the kicking!

A Year of Smiles – Day 216

Reason to SMILE #216: SECURITY

“Ma’am, how am I supposed to know that you weren’t actually trying to brake in to this house?” asked the police officer.

At least, that’s what I imagined he would ask after he arrived at my parents’ house finding me on the front porch while the security alarm wailed. You see, I had only gone to pick up my child who was probably two or three at the time. I knew my parents had taken him out for a while and they hadn’t made it back home. I also knew I would get to their house before they did and I would have to wait on them. I should have waited in the car. Instead, I decided to sit on their front porch.

As I made my way onto the porch, I noticed my parents’ cat looking out of a large picture window. So, I did what any normal person would do. I walked up to the window, bent down to get a closer look, said, “Hello, Cali,” and gently tapped the window at the vicinity of the cat’s face.

Do you know those signs at the pet store that say, “Do not tap glass”? That also applies to any window anywhere through which animals are staring at you from the other side. Just don’t do it. Ever.

As soon as I tapped the glass – and I mean, I barely touched it – the alarm began to blast. I froze. What was I going to do? My parents weren’t home, yet, and I couldn’t get into the house to turn the alarm off. All I could do was sit there listening to the alarm and imagining what I was going to tell the police when they pulled up in the yard.

Fortunately, my parents returned home shortly thereafter and the police were never dispatched. As my parents were unlocking the house, I began explaining how I set off the alarm. “I didn’t know what I was going to do if the police arrived. I didn’t know how I was going to prove my relationship to you and that I belonged here.”

“Karen,” my mom replied as she opened the front door and pointed in the house to the wall directly in front of us, “Your picture is right there as you walk in the door. That’s all the proof they’d need.”

You know, one day we are all going to stand before an even greater authority than our fine men and women in blue. We are all going to stand before our Creator and the question of our belonging in His eternal home is going to be posed. What are you going to do? Are you going to rattle off examples of your good deeds, your acts of charity, your adherence to the Ten Commandments? Are you certain that you will even have a place in Heaven one day?

The Bible tells us that the only way to an eternal home with our Heavenly Father is by faith in His Son Jesus Christ. (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9John 14:6) The Bible also tells us that once we make the decision to become a follower of Jesus by admitting we are sinners and in need of salvation from an eternal death, believing Jesus is the only Son of God and He paid the price for our sins through death on a cross and resurrection from the grave, and confessing our sins and committing our lives to Him, then we can know for sure that we have an eternal home in heaven that no one can question or take away. (John 10:28-29; Romans 8:35-39) And on the day you stand before the throne of God and your belonging is questioned, you won’t have to wonder what you will say. Your Savior will step forward, point to your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and say, “Yes. she’s mine. See right there. That’s her name!”

I know my eternity is secure. What a SMILE that brings to my soul! What about you? Are you sure of your eternal home?

A Year of Smiles – Day 215

Reason to SMILE #215: SELF-CONTROL

They say,” Confession is good for the soul.” I don’t know who “they” are but I have to agree with them. So…

I have a confession and I’m afraid that once I reveal my transgression, you will no longer think the same of me. However, since I’m not sure how most of you think of me anyway (because rarely does anyone¬†ever comment on my blog posts), I suppose my revelation won’t make much difference – other than ease my conscience. So, ready or not, here goes.

Today, this little old man came into my office (My “day job” is¬†working for¬†an attorney.). He asked the receptionist for a copy of a deed that was prepared for him by the attorney. The receptionist asked if I could make a copy and I responded with, “I can do one better. I have the original recorded deed to give him.” Everything was hunky dory until I handed the deed to this old man. I watched as he examined it then looked right past me to the receptionist and said, “This is not the original.” She couldn’t help him. I could yet he choose to speak to her. I interrupted an explained that the document I handed to him was, indeed, the original. He argued to the receptionist¬†further.

After listening to his argument, I began to realize that by “original”, he meant¬†an old deed from 1949 that he gave¬†to the attorney¬†to help him prepare the most recent deed. “Ah!” I thought. “I can handle that.” I found what he was looking for and gave it to him. Again, I watched him inspect the 1949 deed and then compare it to the recent deed.

“This isn’t right,” he said as he looked up to me.¬†He was sitting.¬†I was standing beside him.¬†He¬†went on a few minutes about names of trustees on the ’49 deed and names on the 2017 deed.¬†“These don’t match,” he commented.

“I¬†assure you¬†the deed is correct,” I¬†replied getting quite agitated since I knew the attorney spent a great amount of time with this man¬†discovering which trustees from 1949 were still living and who the new trustees were¬†now.¬†Apparently,¬†this¬†ornery old man was the only living trustee¬†remaining of his little church. (Yes, a church – another reason¬†I feel so terrible.)

My assurance did not satisfy this man. He handed me the 2017 deed and then¬†pointed to the names on the 1949 deed.¬†He continued his objections about the names of the trustees becoming more gruff and condescending¬†with each argument Finally, he said, “You didn’t do what I asked you to do this morning.”

At this point, I knew that I was dealing with someone whose capacity for reason was miniscule, most¬†likely due to his age, I¬†believe (and I mean nothing negative¬†by that – it happens),¬†because he asked us to prepare that deed¬†and he had signed that deed two¬†weeks earlier.¬†Still, I¬†continued my attempt to explain that the recent deed prepared for him was exactly what he had requested. I couldn’t stop myself. This man was talking to me like I was an idiot and I was bound and determined to shut him down. (Yep. Right there. I am ashamed.)

Our argument ended with one final attempt to make this man understand. I pointed to the new deed to explain once again why the names did not match the ’49 deed.¬†He interrupted me with, “Don’t point at that deed. I just need you to do your job!”¬†I had had enough so I replied, ” I need¬†you to talk to the attorney. Make an appointment!” Then I walked away – an action I should have taken much, much earlier.

If you’ve actually read down to this point, you might be thinking, “Okay, KJ, what did you do that was so horrible? Anyone in your position would have been similarly aggravated and defensive, especially if he was treating you so poorly.”

Yes. I know but he was an old man. Time has affected his mind like it does to so many and¬†may some day do to me. I should have been understanding, calm and patient like I am with my kids at church. Instead, I only wanted to smack the condescending look off of his face and kick him out the door! He completely infuriated me. And…

I let him.

Maybe that’s the real reason¬†I feel so badly. I let the words and actions of another dictate not only my words and my actions but also¬†my emotions and my mental state. Rather than exhibiting some self-control,¬†I allowed this man’s ugly demeanor to take control. It was not my finest moments, folks. I certainly was not being a shining example of the love and patience my Heavenly Father shows me day in and day out. Sigh.

There you have it. My confession of the day. I’m not proud of myself. My actions were certainly nothing to SMILE about but there’s always a gleam of hope. I know for certain I’ll be seeing this man, again. (He made an appointment! ūüėČ ) Next time, I’ll remember that¬†I¬†don’t have to give control¬†of my actions, my words and my emotions to others. God has given me a spirit of self-control. I simple have to remember to use it!

**But y’all seriously need to pray for me cause this man¬†really gets my goat! ūüėČ


2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”

I was reminded of this by Rae over at Real as the Streets. You should go check her out!

A Year of Smiles – Day 213

Reason to SMILE #213: YOU’VE GOT THIS!

This week¬†many of the children in my church begin another year of school. The first day of school is always a dreaded day in my household (actually, any school day is!) and I’m sure it’s the same for many other households. Of course, there are a variety of reasons to be anxious over the beginning of a new school year. For my kid, it’s merely that he doesn’t see the point of school! (Yep. Tell me how do you deal with that one! – – Please!) No matter the reason, I completely understand. I had a whole list of them myself. So, for all of you out there who may have kids hesitant to begin this new school year, here’s a SMILE to pass along:

You've Got This Adobe Spark

 

And¬†if you’re not a student, well, this SMILE is for you, too!¬†Remember, no matter what you are facing, God and You have got this!

A Year of Smiles – Day 211

Reason to SMILE #211: ROOTS

Worship services today look and sound very different from what they once were. Many traditions of yesteryear have been replaced with new forms of worship, new expressions of praise, new experiences through which God can speak to a new generation. I have absolutely no problem with these changes – as long as the unfiltered, undiluted Word of God is being preached and expressions of worship (i.e. the music, drama, etc.) are the result of sincere reverence for our Heavenly Father pointing hearts to Him alone. But…

There are times when I long for the great hymns of old. I long to sing those songs which remind me of my foundations of faith and take me back to the days when my faith was still new. I yearn to hear the organ and the grand piano play once again, to feel their majestic sounds shatter the empty spaces of the sanctuary, swelling to fill every nook of the room and envelope every member of the congregation. 

Talk about a worship experience!

Sometimes, getting back to our roots is a good thing. For me, singing “How Great Thou Art”, “When the Roll is Called up Yonder” and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” takes me to that place of remembrance and rejuvenation. For my parents, the songs may be “Holy, Holy, Holy”, “O Worship the King” and “In the Cross of Christ I Glory”. For my children in years to come, it won’t be hymns at all but “contemporary” worship songs like “What a Beautiful Name”, “Good, Good Father” and “O Come to the Altar”.

There will always be those songs or worship experiences from our pasts that remind us of the good old days and roots of our faith. Revisiting these songs from time to time can be a great reminder of where we began and how far we have come. It can also be an insightful indicator of where we should be headed. Even more, singing the songs that we hold dear can bring joy to a weary soul and a SMILE to the heaviest of hearts.

What worship songs bring a SMILE to your heart? What songs would you love to sing again?

A Year of Smiles – Day 206

Reason to SMILE #206: A FRIENDLY VOICE

“Hey, Pookie.¬†You got a minute?” said the voice on the phone.¬† It was one of my best friends from college.

Yes. Yes.¬†She called me “Pookie”.¬† She gave me that nickname the moment we met¬†(You can read more about that¬†back on¬†Day 173.) and she still calls me¬†“Pookie” today.¬†I wouldn’t have it any different!

My friend and I had been¬†commenting back and forth on Facebook¬†about my new hairdo (See Day 205). By the way, yesterday’s post about my new haircut has received the most traffic of all my daily smiles thus far.¬†Hmmm… If drastic changes is what it takes to get the views, I don’t know how I’m going to top that. Oooooo, maybe I’ll get a tattoo. Uhmm, Nope!¬†ūüėȬ†Anyway, my friend mentioned that she was going to send me a private message but the next thing¬†I knew,¬†my phone was ringing.¬†She decided to give me a call instead. And, boy,¬†am I¬†glad that she did.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard the voice of my dear friend.¬†The fault for¬†that¬†is no one’s but mine.¬†We were once¬†close in our college days.¬†She was a friend that I could have fun with, rely on, talk to,¬†receive advice from¬†– solicited or not! – and¬†be myself with.¬†Oh, and I loved to make her laugh because when she laughed, she held nothing back.¬†Her laugh was, and still is, big, bold and boisterous. (How’d you like that alliteration? Pretty awesome, huh!)¬†No one could replace my friend, Greta.¬†Nothing could¬†change our friendship.

But¬†something did…

Me.

You see, near the end of my time at college, I made some choices that I knew were not the best choices for me.¬†The guilt over my behavior caused me to pull away from my friends, the friends who I knew would not approve of my choices, the friends¬†who would¬†look me in the eye and tell me I was wrong, the¬†true friends like Greta.¬†Ultimately, after college, I pulled away completely.¬†I didn’t feel as though I deserved such a wonderful friend or that my friend would look at me as the same¬†Pookie she once knew.

But Greta, my loving friend, wouldn’t let me go.¬†She has never once wavered in our friendship.¬†She has always been a friend who reaches out to me,¬†encourages me and prays for me. Her friendship has taught me a valuable¬†lesson which is this: we must¬†be careful¬†which¬†voices we choose¬†to heed¬†in our lives.¬†In my days of guilt and regret, I chose to listen to the¬†voice of Satan who¬†whispered lies¬†in my ear telling¬†me I was unworthy of my friends and¬†of¬†God’s mercy and forgiveness.¬†If I had only listened to the voice of the Heavenly Father, I would have heard serenades of love and¬†overtures of¬†forgiveness – by far, a much better listening experience!

My SMILE today came from hearing my friend’s voice – a voice that is faithful to lift me up when I am down, redirect me when I am astray and keep me company throughout life’s journey.¬†Do you have a voice like that in your life? Or are the¬†voices in your life¬†whispering lies of your unworthiness or incompetence? Stop listening to those lies. Tune your ear to the voice of the Father who is calling out, “I love you. I made you. You are priceless. I will forgive you. I will restore you. I have a plan for you and, child, my plan¬†is good.”

A Year of Smiles – Day 204

Reason to SMILE #204: MISTAKEN IDENTITY 

My husband, my younger son and I walk into a restaurant.

Sounds like the beginning of a good joke, doesn’t it? Keep reading. You’ll probably get a laugh. I certainly did!

We walk up to the counter but no cashier was in sight. While I survey the menu, my husband hands me some money (That’s always awesome!) and leaves me standing beside my son to wait for someone to take our order. 

Now, I have to interrupt my story to give you a bit of information pertinent to your understanding of what is to follow. My younger son has been taller than me for quite some time now. He’s 5’6″. I’m only 5′ – if I stand really tall. And since my older son is 5’10” or so, I’ll be looking up to everyone from now on. (But they still know who’s in charge! ūüėČ)

Anyway, there we are waiting at the counter – short mama and tall son. A few moments later, a young lady walks up to the register and begins to giggle. Immediately she addresses me. “When I saw you from over there, I thought you were his little sister,” she says while pointing to my son, “and I was going to ask if you wanted to wait til your dad got back to order.”

I now have a new best friend! ūüėú

I’ve always been the victim of mistaken identity. My small stature gives others the notion that I am younger than I actually am. When I was younger, I would get offended. For instance, in my first youth director job, I took a group of young people to a function being hosted by another local church. As we were waiting to enter the event, the youth director from the other church walked straight toward our group, stood right in front of me, looked over my head to my youth standing behind me and asked, “Okay. Where’s your leader?” Yeah. If I didn’t have to set a good example that night, somebody would’ve gotten a swift kick to his shin! 

Now, however, that my age is showing in my face, my hair and I suppose everywhere else, the cases of mistaken identity are few and far between. So, when they happen, I can’t help but SMILE. What woman wouldn’t love to be mistaken for someone much younger?!

By the way, I’ve begun to make a correlation between my boys’ heights and these recent cases of mistaken identity… 

Have I ever told you how much I love hanging out with my boys? Hehe!!