A Year of Smiles – Day 270

Reason to SMILE #270: BEING MISSED

“Mrs. Karen, I came down here to see you!”IMG_8104

One of my kids who moved up to the youth department this year made a special visit downstairs to the children’s ministry to see me. As she gave me a hug, she said, “I miss you.”

Oh, what sweet music to my ears! And what a heart-swelling SMILE!

Sorry, Youth Minister. Those kids I sent upstairs to you in August will always be mine! ūüėČ

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A Year of Smiles – Day 231

Reason to SMILE #231: FELLOWSHIP

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An Italian plumber with a proclivity for heroism, a teenage wizard¬†marginalized because of the events of his past, a bird with severe anger issues, a¬†wrestling phenom with a superiority complex, a sneaky little pig¬†plagued with¬†kleptomania and a wrestling personality using his fame to spread the message of Jesus –¬†what a diverse group¬†of characters!¬†And they’re all welcome at the dinner table of a seven-year-old boy…

True fellowship as seen through the eyes of a child – a SMILE worth finding, fostering and following.

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 195

Reason to SMILE #195: SWEET TEA…NOT JUST A REFRESHING DRINK 

Me: How did you get dirt on your forehead?

Son: I don’t know. I don’t remember falling on the ground.

Me: Well, it’s time for a bath.

Son: No, I got it….

Then he sticks his finger in his sweet tea and rubs it on his forehead!
ūüė≥

So, how do you react to the shenanigans of a six year old boy? You handle it the best you can at the time then write it all down so you can embarrass him with it – oops! – I mean SMILE about it six years later!

A Year of Smiles – Day 169

Reason to SMILE #169: SUPERMAN

“I’m Superman,” my dad declared. “Didn’t you know that?”

“No, you’re not!” my siblings and I all protested.

“I am! I can lift this car with one hand,” Dad claimed.

We all responded with cheers to see our dad prove he was indeed Superman.

“Ok, here goes.” Without hesitation, Dad continued, “Wanna see me do it again?”

We protested again, “You didn’t do anything!”

With a grin on his face, Dad explained, “I did it so fast you couldn’t see me!”

He may not have lifted our car but there has never been any doubt in my mind that my dad is Superman. There’s no better dad and I’m grateful for him. He is my biggest fan and I can always depend on him for support, for help, for wise advice and for prayer. 

I’m blessed to have such a good father in my life, someone I can look up to, follow in his footsteps and trust to always love and accept me. You may not be able to say the same – at least not about an earthly father.  But you do have a Heavenly Father who is always good. He loves you and will always be there for you. He will never let you down or disappoint you. He’s even better than Superman! ūüėČ

Cape or no cape – my dad always makes me SMILE and I know it’s because he’s following the example of the greatest Father of all!

Psalm 68:5 (ESV) Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

James 1:17 (ESV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

1 John 3:1 (NIV) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

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A Year of Smiles – Day 149

philosopher -smiley-thinkingReason to SMILE #149: MEMORIES

Some bring sadness –

Remembering loved ones we can no¬†longer hug, call up for a chat or hear them say “I love you”;

Recalling fun times with friends who were once trusted and close but somehow became distant, wondering what went wrong and dealing with the hurt that still lingers from their rejection;

Agonizing over broken relationships, lost loves that resulted in broken hearts;

Fixating on bad decisions, regrets of the past and wallowing in the ever abundant¬†“what ifs”…

 

Some bring pride –

Reminiscing over accomplishments in your life, the good choices you’ve made and how far you’ve come;

Celebrating milestones in the lives of your children or loved ones;

Memorializing the sacrifices of those who fought bravely for the freedoms you enjoy…

 

Some bring joy –

Remembering the laughter shared with family and friends;

Thinking back on¬†the new experiences and discoveries made on your life’s journey;

Holding dear the love given and received;

Recalling the moments of fun, silliness, sheer enjoyment, complete safety, satisfaction in who you were when nothing was holding you back or weighing you down…

 

No matter the emotion evoked by them, our memories¬†are¬†a part of who we are. Whether regret or¬†delight, pain or joy, each moment in our lives has led us to where we are today.¬† I’m grateful for the miraculous minds that¬†God has given us that allow us to¬†remember so many things – even the darkest of memories.¬†¬†You see, my memories may not all be good but I can still SMILE knowing the past is the past, God forgives and comforts, and¬†today is a new opportunity to make better choices and even better memories.

 

 

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A Year of Smiles – Day 140

Reason to SMILE #140: WATERMELON SHIRTS

My older son was shopping in preparation for his summer internship as a youth minister’s assistant. His new position requires a different type of wardrobe than his usual gym shorts and “T”s. ¬†As he was shopping, my son texted me to let me know what bargains he’d found and to ask my opinion on certain items. One of those items was this:

Here is our conversation about this “interesting” piece of clothing:

Apparently, I do not know what is cool anymore. Fortunately, the store did not have his size in that lovely T-shirt. However, they did have his size in the button up shirt.

So, Monday morning, my firstborn will be strutting through the doors of First Baptist Church sporting this watermelon shirt


and a pair of watermelon-colored dress shorts to match.

That’s my boy! And I wouldn’t want him to be any different. He makes my heart SMILE! And I know God is going to use him to bring SMILES to everyone he meets this summer – especially if he’s wearing that watermelon shirt!

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A Year of Smiles – Day 137

hear-no-speak-no-see-no.pngReason to SMILE #137: HIDE ‘N SEEK

It was dark. The yard was lit only by the corner street lights.  Shadows fell from every tree and structure on the property.  It was the perfect conditions for a game of hide and seek!

My family and several of our cousins were visiting my Nana.  All of us kids were bored and were looking for something fun to do.  Hide and seek won the majority vote so outside we all went.

Finding good hiding spots was never a problem for me. I was small and wiry.¬† I did, however, because of my muscle disorder, have a¬†problem¬†getting to the base before “It” caught me.¬†¬†So, that night,¬†one of my older cousins picked me up,¬†put me on his shoulders and¬†said, “We’re going to be a team.”

You need to know something about this cousin of mine.  He was about six feet tall and skinny as a rail.  With me on his shoulders, we were a whopping 8 feet tall conglomerate that needed a place to hide.  That was a problem.

The seeker, or “It”,¬†began counting.¬† My siblings and cousins scattered to different hiding places all over the darkened yard.¬†¬†My cousin, with me on his shoulders, was¬†standing in the middle of the yard with no place to go.¬† Finally, he¬†turned toward the corner of the yard and saw that the street light post was casting a long shadow into my grandmother’s yard.¬† He ran to the shadow and positioned us squarely withi its borders¬†then told me to be very quiet.

“It” finished counting and took off around the house searching for the hiders.¬† One by one, the hiders were either found or had made their way back to base.¬† Meanwhile, my cousin and I¬†were standing in the middle of the yard covered only by the shadow of the street light post. ¬†“It” ran past us several times but never discovered our presence. Finally, the seeker gave up.¬†¬†We stepped out of the shadow and we¬†were declared the winners!

Now that was an awesome game of hide and seek!  We were standing right out in the open but no one was able to find us.  In the shadow of the light post, we were hidden.  We were shielded from being caught and were able to walk away victorious.

Life can feel like a game of hide and seek.  There are so many things seeking our attention, seeking to control us, seeking to detour us, seeking to destroy us.  We search for a place to hide from these dangers but our earthly resources can only protect for so long.  Eventually, we are found.  Fears overtake us; doubts consume us; negativity overwhelms us.

But there is a place where we can find rest from this¬†soul-threatening game of hide and seek.¬† There is¬†a shelter where we can find peace in the midst of our¬†storms.¬† There is a refuge where we can find comfort¬†during life’s toughest trials.¬† This hiding place is in the¬†presence of¬†our Heavenly Father.

Psalm 91:1¬†says, “He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”¬†¬†Aren’t you glad we have a great, big God that casts an even bigger shadow in which we can find refuge and protection from¬†the one who is¬†seeking¬†to¬†devour our lives?¬† I certainly am and knowing that my Heavenly Father¬†has everything in His control allows me to find peace even when life gets rough.

Oh, one more thing – you can’t stand in a shadow unless you are near¬†the object that is casting the shadow.¬† This goes for God’s shadow, too.¬†¬†You can’t stand in God’s protective shadow¬†unless you get close to Him.¬† But I promise.¬† The closer you get to Him, the greater your SMILE will be.

 

 

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A Year of Smiles – Day 135

Reason to SMILE #135: LULLABIES

‚ÄúMom, I‚Äôm not tired,‚ÄĚ said my younger son. ‚ÄúWill you sing me a nighty-night-emoticonlullaby? But sing it quiet, I don‚Äôt want brother to hear.‚ÄĚ

What mom can resist a request to sing her little boy to sleep? Besides, this meant he’d be asleep in no time at all…..

Rock-a-bye baby-

“Shhh, Mom! Quieter!”

On the tree top-

“I‚Äôm thirsty”.

“Ok, baby, let‚Äôs go get a drink.”

<Out of bed and into the kitchen. Grab a drink; back to bed. Then, we sit until every last drop is slurped from the cup…slurp…slurp…>

“Are you done?”

“Wait. Almost.” <Slurp> “Okay.”

When the wind blows-

“Baby, you have to close your eyes.”

“I‚Äôm trying!”

The cradle will rock-

“Mom, I have to tell you something.”

“Ok, what is it?”

“My friend says he‚Äôs gonna beat me up.”

“That doesn‚Äôt sound like a very good friend; maybe you should stay away from him.”

“Don‚Äôt worry. I am!”

When the bow breaks-

“Mom, I want to stretch out my legs, can you move?”

“You are getting way too tall.”

“I AM allowed to grow, Mom!”

“Okay. Go to sleep now.”

The cradle will fall-

“Can I have a hug?”

”¬†Of course.”

<Hug, hug. Kiss, kiss. Nibble, nibble.>

“Mom! My ear is not food!”

And down will come baby-

“Be still and close your eyes.”

“Ok, ok!”

Cradle-

<Yaaaawn!>

<Yawn!>

And all.

<Zzzzzzzzzzzz>

 

Exhausting as it was, I miss the days I could sing lullabies to my babies.  But remembering those days always makes me SMILE!

You know, it would¬†really be nice to have a lullaby sung to me every now and then.¬† It’s too bad my husband can’t sing! ūüėČ

 

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A Year of Smiles – Day 134

Reason to SMILE #134: BEING A MOM


Top ten things I’ve learned from being a mom:

10. First steps, first time sitting up, first time on the potty, first birthday, first Christmas, first bike ride, first day of school, first good grade, first bad grade, first homerun, first real friend, first night away from home, first movie, first girlfriend, first date, first car, first dance, first day of college – your child’s life is filled with firsts. You don’t want to miss any of them. Take lots and lots of pictures. Then post them all over social media and embarrass the heck out of them! That’s one of the great joys of motherhood.

9. For the first 10 or so years of your child’s life, there is only one determining factor in choosing restaurants – the toy that is being offered in said restaurant’s kid’s meal. And here’s a side note to all the fast food joints out there: if you’ve run out of toys and you fail to tell the mom who is ordering the meal at the drive thru speaker, don’t be offended when she refuses the meal at the window and drives away. Remember, you’re not the one who has to go home with her kids!

8. There is a black hole somewhere in every household that sucks up socks, shoes, earbuds, phone chargers and remote controls. ¬†If only I could create some sort of device to detect these black holes, I’d be the richest mom on the planet!

7. When asking your kids to go search for all those missing items, detailed instructions on how to search must be given. Failure to give a step-by-step guide on what is required in a thorough search for a missing shoe results in the child walking to their bedroom door, glancing in for a moment and returning to you with a bewildered look while saying, “I can’t find it anywhere.”

6. “Because I said so” is a perfectly valid argument for the question “Why?”. Further, when your child refuses to give in and answers your argument again with “But why?”, your trump card will forever be, “Because I’m the mom, that’s why!”

5. Regardless of your resolve and any promise you ever made to yourself, you will at some point find yourself making awful sounds like “aahnn!” when you see your child reaching for the scissors or hot stove or attempting anything he or she shouldn’t be doing. ¬†After all, there is no better deterrent for bad behavior than sounding like a angry mother goose!

4. The words “I need” are code for “I know I can live without it but I really, really want it so I’m gonna bat my lashes, poke out my bottom lip and tell you I need it and pray extremely hard that you believe me even though it hasn’t worked the other 147 times I’ve tried it before.” ¬†Too bad, kid, I tried that one with my parents. Didn’t work with them either!

3. Hearing my own words spoken or seeing my own action emulated by my child can be either a blessing or a curse. They’re always watching and listening – even when you think they’re not! Those little boogers!

2. Although my job is to raise independent and responsible young men, actually letting them go out into the world and prove I’ve done that job is the most difficult thing for me (and probably any mom) to do. They’re still my babies!

1. Of the many things I’ve learned and am still learning from being a mom, the most important thing is that no matter how hard I try, I can never hold a candle to my mom. She’s the best mom around and I’m thankful God made her mine!

I love you, Mom!

And to all you moms out there, keep SMILING! ¬†We’re all in this thing together!! ¬†Happy Mother’s Day!

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