A Year of Smiles – Day 218


The evening service was over. I was looking forward to going home, propping my feet up and watching something on Netflix. It didn’t matter what. I only wished to vegge out for a while. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to happen as soon as I had hoped. You see, I had to make a stop before I could enjoy those desired moments of rest. I had one more item on my son’s school supplies list that I needed to purchase and it had to be done before tomorrow. Ugh!

As I made my way to the church exit, I was walking and talking with the student minister’s wife. Right as we were joined by the student minister, my phone rang. It was my husband wondering when I’d be home. I explained that I needed to stop at the store to pick up composition notebooks and suddenly the student minister’s face lit up. He motioned for me to wait and then he ran into his office. I told my husband I’d call him back. I had to see what was happening.

A few moments later, the student minister returned with two new composition notebooks in his hand! WooHoo! I didn’t have to make a stop before going home after all! What a blessing! My day ended with a SMILE…

… Of course, I was actually already SMILING.  Earlier in the afternoon, my older son returned home from his summer internship. And just before the evening service began, he stopped by to give me a great, big hug!

I’d say I’ve had a pretty good day!

A Year of Smiles – Day 217


What draws us to certain people, groups or organizations? Why do we feel at home in particular surroundings or atmospheres? What makes us feel connected to something or someone? 

I began to ask myself these questions as I stepped back to survey the finished bulletin board at my church this afternoon. Our congregation is beginning a study on life in the church and the connection church members have through Christ, Unity, Growth, Words, Service and Prayer. I’m excited for this study and I’m anxious to get back to the basics of what it means to be a functioning part of the body of Christ. As I finished the display, however, my thoughts moved to more than just the church member but to humanity as a whole.

It’s funny that this simple Connect the Dots themed bulletin board raised so many questions about our connections with each other. But the answer to all of these pervading questions is really just as simple as this basic children’s activity. What draws us to others? What makes us feel accepted? What gives us that connection? Love. The answer is simply love.

Colossians 3:13-14 (NIV) Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Love binds us all together. Love is the connection. And when you find that Love, you can’t help but SMILE.

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! 😉 ) 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! 😉

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 214


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 212

Reason to SMILE #212: BLANKETS (Lots and lots of blankets!)

I don’t know about you but I have a difficult time sleeping at night without a fan running in the room. The only problem with that is I tend to get cold. Since I can’t sleep without the noise, I simply pile on the blankets to stay warm. I have plenty – a hand-made quilt, a crocheted sunflower afghan, a soft and fuzzy throw and another sunflower blanket which seems to have run off to hide in my son’s room. (One might think that being adorned with sunflowers would safeguard my blanket from abduction by the male species in my household. One would be wrong. Sigh.)

Fortunately, my husband likes the noise of the fan at night, as well. He also enjoys the drop in temperature. In fact, he would adjust the thermostat to a “if there were moisture in the air, it’d be snowing” temperature, if our budget would allow it! Although he loves the colder temperature, he also likes to sleep under a nice, warm blanket, as well. To suit his taste, the blanket must be a heavier weight, though – which brings me to his favorite blanket right here.


I cannot stand this blanket although I really have no idea why. It has nothing to do with the colors or the design. I simply don’t like it. My disdain for this blanket is so great, I don’t even like for it to touch me or be covering me, at all. I have actually been awakened from a sound sleep when this blanket “accidentally” ended up covering part of my legs. Yeah. It’s strange. I know. I’m pretty sure a psychologist could draw some interesting conclusions from my aversion to this… thing!

As you might suspect, my husband thinks it’s hilarious. He teases me by brushing it across my face at night or intentionally throwing it over me when he pushes the covers aside to get out of bed. I don’t think it’s quite as funny, especially the brushing it on my face thing but that may be for another reason altogether. Have you seen The Mummy (1999) with those beetles that crawl all over a person and consume them? Yeah. Bugs and my husband’s blanket are pretty much tied for spot number one on my list of hated things.

Despite my dislike of his blanket, my husband sleeps nestled under this atrocity every night. I’ve learned to live with it – as long as it stays on his side of the bed! He has his blanket and I have mine. And when the fan is running, we can both sleep with a SMILE!

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 210

How to make a fast food drive thru worker SMILE:

Order another restaurant’s dipping sauce!

“Welcome to Chick-fil-a. Can I take your order?”

“I’ll have a number 1 with no pickles, a sweet tea, some honey mustard and Zax Sauce – uh, not Zax Sauce – uhm, you know what I mean.”

Laughter erupts through the speaker. “Yes – hahahaha – I do. – hahaha – Do you need anything else? – hahaha

“That’s it. Unless you wanna throw in a Big Zax Snack!” 😉

A Year of Smiles – Day 209

Reason to SMILE #209: SPIDERMAN


Spiderman, Spiderman,

Does whatever a spider can

Spins a web, any size,

Catches thieves just like flies

Look out!

Here comes the Spiderman.

Did you sing along with me? I bet you did!

We love Spiderman at my house. In fact, we recently went to see the new Spiderman movie and it was fantastic! My older son actually previewed it for me. He had to see it the day it premièred – in an IMAX theater. He is still away for the summer but he asked us to visit him this past weekend so we could all see the movie together. We, of course, said “yes” because the theater we were going to attend has reclining seats and large aisles divided by half walls. It is awesome! You don’t have to worry about anyone kicking the back of your seat or if you’re able to see over the person in front of you or even other people talking.  I now have no desire to see a movie in any other type of theater – ever. The experience was that good.

But, I digress. Back to the movie. As I said, my older son previewed it for me and prepped me for what I was about to see. No, he didn’t spoil the movie but he let me know if I was going to need Kleenex or not. You see, Marvel has a knack for making movies that at some point make me cry. Their superhero movies are amazing but oh my goodness, why do they have to be so intense? I suppose that’s why they’re “the highest-grossing film franchise of all time”, though. (Wikipedia.org)

Marvel movies aren’t the only movies that make me cry. Many, many, many movies do. In fact, just the trailers can cause me to well up with tears. If there is even a hint of sadness, I’m going to cry. It’s not easy being filled with so much empathy! My family thinks it is hilarious, though. My tears bring them great joy. Good family, huh? No. It is pretty funny. As soon as a sad scene begins, all three of my boys (husband and sons) turn their heads in tandem to see if I am crying. Then they laugh at me which makes me laugh. It’s become a family tradition! HA!

Again, back to Spiderman. “It’s a lighthearted movie,” my son told me. “I don’t think you’ll cry or anything.” He was wrong. I cried. My family laughed (big, big SMILES all around). And the tradition lives on.