A Year of Smiles – Day 216

Reason to SMILE #216: TRUTH

My SMILE today may seem a bit unusual and may not actually feel like a SMILE at all.  As I’ve been pondering recent events in our world, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a song I wrote many years ago.  My heart aches for our children and the world we have created for them.  My only solace is the Truth of God’s Word, the promises of His plan and surety of His control.  No matter what the situation around me, the foundation of God’s Truth on which I stand brings a peaceful SMILE to my soul.

I share the following with you in hopes that you will be inspired to make a difference in the world around you and to point the way to the TRUTH.


Fires burn across the land,

The smoke fills the skies.

Angry men shout out and scream;

Some break down and cry.

 

Children watch as people die;

They see the hate, the pain.

Their little eyes can’t believe

The suffering and the shame.

 

Is this the world we want to show our children?

Is this the place we want them to call home?

We tell them that we love them but don’t show them the same.

Is this the truth we want them to know?

 

I wrote these lyrics twenty-five years ago.  I was almost eighteen years old and had just watched news coverage of the Los Angeles Riots of 1992.  I was horrified as pictures of violence, hate, fear and desperation flashed before my eyes.  I was overwhelmed with uncertainty and fear even though I lived on the opposite side of the country.  I did not understand it all and I knew there were children and other young people trying to make sense of the chaos, as well.

I wondered what these children were learning from the situation.  What lessons about life were they gleaning?  Were they giving up all hope at that moment?  Was their innocence slipping away as disturbing images of humanity at its worst invaded their ideals of safety and security?  Were they resigning to believe that this was how life was supposed to be?  Were these children accepting the hate, violence and pride as their truth?

Now, twenty-five years later, we find ourselves seeing familiar images flash on our TV screens.  And I cannot help but wonder.  Where are those children who watched similar scenes so many years ago?  They are the adults of our world now.  Are they watching in horror as they did as a child?  Are they worried about their own children and the effect this situation will have on their young lives?  Are they outraged?  Are they scared?  Are they worried?  Or are they hitting the power button, shrugging their shoulders and walking away?  After all, that’s life.  That’s the truth of our existence and there’s nothing anyone can do about it….

Oh, my friends, there is hope.  We can redefine the truth that our world accepts today by pointing the way to THE TRUTH, Jesus Christ.  He is our only Way to healing, restoration and salvation.  He is our only Truth in the midst of the chaos and deception orchestrated by our enemy, the devil.  He is our only source of abundant Life, peace, hope and yes, SMILES.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV)

The road to Truth starts with Love.  Love starts with you and me.

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 214

Reason to SMILE #214: ROCK PAINTING

Yes. We’ve jumped on the bandwagon. But what a fun and inspirational bandwagon it is! Have you heard about these groups that are organizing to paint rocks, hide rocks and search for rocks in their communities? The idea is to gather up some rocks, decorate them with all sorts of designs, inspirational quotes, etc., hide them around town for people to find and while you’re hiding them, search for rocks other people have hidden. Oh, and if you find a rock, you’re supposed to re-hide it elsewhere. What a neat idea! This has kept many a family busy during the boring summer months. It has also motivated people to get out of their houses and to visit all kinds of local businesses, parks, places of worship and more.

Children everywhere are having mom check the pages of their local Facebook group for clues as to where the rocks are hidden and then pushing parents out the door to race to find these rocks. What joy these rocks are bringing to these kids! But on the flip side, some of these kids are experiencing extreme disappointment upon the discovery that the rock they were seeking has already been found! The good thing is there are many a conscious rock painters watching for posts about disappointed kids and are making it their mission to ensure these kids find a rock. It truly is awesome to watch!

Well, I’m done watching! Tonight, at Kids Central in Albany, GA, we painted about 35 rocks that will be hidden all over our community.  Take a look:

 

 

That’s 35 SMILES we’ll be sharing with our little world!! My only wish – to actually see the faces of the rock seekers who find these crazy rocks!

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 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! 😉)

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! 😜

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!!

A Year of Smiles – Day 202

Reason to SMILE #202: COMPLIMENTS

Please don’t think of me as shallow but…

I LOVE to receive compliments!

Yes. I do.

When I ready myself for the day and walk out the door thinking I look particularly well, it’s nice to hear that someone else agrees with my assessment. When I’ve worked diligently on a project or event and am feeling proud of my accomplishments, it’s great to hear a “well done” from others. Compliments make me feel good. And I would dare say that many of you out there enjoy receiving these words of admiration and praise just as much as I do (whether you admit it or not).

If that is true, I have to wonder…

Since we all like receiving compliments, why then is it so difficult for us to share compliments with others?

It only seems logical that if we desire to hear praise, we should learn to give praise to others. After all, the Bible does tell us to “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31). Of course, we shouldn’t spew out words of flattery hoping to receive a few in return. That’s certainly not what I’m saying here. But let’s face it, you reap what you sow and some of us struggle with sowing those seeds of encouragement and praise, especially us women.

Yes, ladies. We can be brutal to each other. Even when we don’t say a word, our silence speaks volumes. Our condescending glances and snooty little smirks convey plenty to those who are only looking for a smidgen of acceptance. We purposely withhold our encouragement from each other. But why?

Is it because of jealousy? Are we afraid to admit someone else may look better or may have achieved something greater? Do we have such a low self-image that we can’t give a simple compliment to another who is most likely suffering with the same low self-esteem?

It baffles me. 

Ladies, we need do better. It’s time to begin lifting up each other. It’s time to encourage one another. It’s time to spread the love we long for ourselves. Just think. Your kind words might brighten someone’s day. Even more, your thoughtfulness might be the key to helping a self-loathing individual see herself in a different light.

How powerful a simple compliment can be! It can lift the spirits, lighten a mood, foster friendships, correct our vision and provoke a multitude of SMILES. Go wield some of that power today!!

A Year of Smiles – Day 199

Reason to SMILE #199: BEING DIFFERENT 

All of my life, I’ve longed to be like everyone else. I’ve wanted to fit in, to be seen as an equal to my peers. I’ve dreamed of finding a place where I could feel at home and a group of people with which I could feel comfortable. I’ve dreamed of the day when I could walk into a building, see faces light up because of my presence and hear my name shouted across the room. Wait – that’s a TV show –

“Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your na-a-ame”

Bum bum bum

“And they’re always glad you ca-a-ame”

Sorry. I couldn’t resist. But wouldn’t it be nice?…

Rarely do I ever feel as though I fit in. Rarely have I ever found anyone with whom I could be myself and say what I think without fear of judgment. Never do I feel comfortable in a group, no matter how large or small. Rarely do I feel accepted for me, just me.

But I’ve learned a thing or two about acceptance and fitting in along my journey in life. You see, no matter how much I long to be the same as others or fit into a particular group, I simply wasn’t made for that. Neither were you. You and I were made to be different, to stand out from the crowd and to glorify God with our uniqueness.

Yep. I’m very different. Maybe even a bit weird. That’s okay because I wasn’t made to fit. And knowing God has a specific plan for all of my quirks and peculiarities is a wonderful reason to SMILE.

A Year of Smiles – Day 185

Reason to SMILE #185 – THE GOOD FIGHT

Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance, or the most abject submission; this is all we can expect – We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our own Country’s Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions – The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny meditated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.

George Washington (goodreads.com)

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Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

Thomas Paine (goodreads.com)

statue-of-liberty-1045266_640

[L]iberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.

John Adams (goodreads.com)

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A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.

Samuel Adams (goodreads.com)

Some things are worth fighting for.  I’m thankful that so many who have gone before me believed that to be true.  I’m equally as grateful that many more still today are continuing the Good Fight!

 

A Year of Smiles – Day 181

Reason to SMILE #181: MAKING OTHERS SMILE

Sometimes we forget the importance of sharing SMILES with those around us. We often seek SMILES for ourselves.  What is going to bring me joy?  What is going to brighten my day?  When we do this, however, we’re actually short changing ourselves. We’re settling for a diminished joy and telling ourselves that our SMILES are as good as it gets.

Well, I’ve got news for you. That joy we experience from doing things that make ourselves happy is nothing compared to the joy that comes when we make another person SMILE.  It’s a joy that makes no sense to a world focused on me, me, me but once experienced, you’ll never want to let it go.

Do you wanna kick your joy up a notch? Start spreading the SMILES.  It’s easy to do.  The needs of others are right at our fingertips.  Prayer requests and cries for help are all over social media.  Pick a need that you can meet and go be the hands and feets of Jesus.  Do for others as you would like done for you. 

Oh, and don’t wait around for a “Thank you”. I guarantee that the SMILE on the faces of those you choose to serve will be more than enough thanks.  And the joy you feel, well… you have to experience it for yourself to truly believe it. 

So what are you waiting for? Go spread some SMILES this weekend.

A Year of Smiles – Day 170

Reason to SMILE #170: WHEN SOMEONE THINKS OF YOU


“I have a ticket that I’m not using,” said the voice on the phone, “and I thought you might like to have it.”

It was early afternoon when my phone rang. My friend was returning home after being out of town and wanted only to rest when she arrived but she had a ticket for an event that she didn’t want to go to waste. She thought of me. Although I wasn’t able to attend, either, I was appreciative of the offer. She may not have realized it but her simple gesture made my day. 

It’s a wonderful feeling to know someone is thinking of you, isn’t it? Imagine if we all decided to let others know how often we think of them and pray for them. What a difference such a simple thing would make! We wouldn’t be able to count the SMILES!

Had anyone on your mind lately? Did you see a picture or hear a joke and think of a friend you haven’t spoken with in years? Did a name cross your mind out of the blue? Call that person. Send an email. Text a message. Whatever method of communication you choose, I know the person on the receiving end is sure to be SMILING.