SMILES in Times of Crisis

SMILES in Times of Crisis - Are you finding it hard to stay positive in these troubling times? Here are a few ideas to help you keep smiling. |

So, you’re stuck in quarantine. Or should I say shelter-in-place? You’re kids are home – all day, every day – and they’re getting on your last nerve. You’re running out of your favorite snacks, places to hide from the kiddos and reasons not to choke the life out of your spouse. You don’t know how much more of this you can take.

But the news updates are turning from bad to worse. Grocery shelves are being emptied faster than they can be stocked. Fear is running rampant turning the world upside down and there is no hint of when this thing is all going to end.

What are we supposed to do in times like these?

I have a few ideas:

1. Limit your social media intake.

It’s a given that our news feeds will be filled with information about the pandemic. We need that. But we’ll also find posts feeding our fears, condemning our leadership and encouraging panic. We don’t need that. Limiting your time on social media can help keep your emotions and your mood in check. Don’t worry. There are plenty of other things to do with your time. Play games with the kids. Take a walk. Read a book. Binge watch your favorite television show. Learn a new language. Be creative.

2. When you are on social media, make your posts positive.

Be a light in these dark times. We’ve all had our fill of reasons to panic, reasons to cry and reasons to lose hope. We need to see the silver lining. We need laughter. We need goofiness. We need fun. Be the positive message that brightens someone’s news feed.

3. Listen to your leaders.

Stay home. When you have to go out, observe social distancing rules. Wash your hands often. Be smart.

I know this is killing all you extroverts out there (Introverts like me are pretty much okay with it!) but there is a reason we have been asked to stay home and stay away from each other. It’s not an overreaction. It is a necessity and when all this is over, you’ll be very grateful you listened to the mandates.

4. Count your blessings.

Sure, you need a break from the kids. You’re dying for an iced mocha latte and all you have is decaf store brand coffee because it was all that was left at the grocery store. But let’s put this into perspective. You are home with your family, healthy and safe. So many others are not. So many others are putting themselves and their families at risk to care for those who are suffering. You have a lot to be thankful for.

5. Pray.

What better way to spend your free time – talking to the source of all Joy, to the only One who knows our needs and who can meet each and every one of them. Talk to God about your stir-craziness. Talk to him about your frustrations with your kids. Tell Him about your fears. Pray for those who are sick. Pray for the medical professionals who are caring for them. Pray for provisions, for a cure, for healing. Pray for all those who are making decisions. Pray for the families who have lost loved ones. Just Pray!

And last but certainly not least…

6. Keep SMILING.

The SMILE is a very powerful thing. Never underestimate what it can do for you and for others.

Remember, there’s nothing in the social distancing mandate that prevents you from sharing a SMILE! Keep spreading those SMILES – it’s in these times that we truly need them.


A Year of Smiles – Day 282

Reason to SMILE #282: VISITORS 

You know that moment when the doorbell rings and you open the door to see the smiling face of an old friend you haven’t seen in what seems like forever? Or when you walk through the grocery store and bump into an old college roommate? What about when you walk into the church welcome center and find your former pastor and his wife chatting away with church members as if time had never passed and they had never said “Goodbye”? 

The latter was my situation this past Sunday and oh, what a wonderful surprise! It was such a blessing to see my pastor and his wife again. They have only been gone for about six months now but I have to tell you, it seems like a lifetime. And although we were only able to visit for a few moments, it was just enough time to stock up on hugs, prayers and SMILES.

Visiting with those you hold dear but aren’t able to see often is a precious gift that comes with so many SMILES. Though tears may come when your time together is over, nothing can compare to the happiness found in the moments you share together.

A Year of Smiles – Day 262

Reason to SMILE #262: TODAY

Adobe Spark

This IS the day the Lord has made – yes, even THIS day. And all the days He made before it have prepared you for today. All the moments of gladness, moments of struggle, moments of doubt, moments of triumph and moments of sorrow that have filled your previous days have built the foundation of strength that will see you through this day.

This IS the day the Lord has made and HE will not allow you to live this day alone.  HE plans to spend it with you. HE intends to experience every moment by your side.  You can walk through this day with confidence for there is nothing in this day that will take it’s Maker by surprise.

Yes, this IS the day the Lord has made.  No matter what it holds, joy or sadness, healing or pain, celebration or mourning, THIS day is God’s gift to you.  And in this great gift, you can REJOICE and be glad!

A Year of Smiles – Day 240 and 241

IMG_8489I’m a day behind on my SMILES so today I’m throwing two your way. They’re short and sweet and offer no meaningful reflection whatsoever. Are you ready?

Reason to SMILE #240: NEW CLOTHES

I’m attending a wedding this weekend. Oh, weddings! (I shared that SMILE with you on Day 174.) Unfortunately, I don’t have the wardrobe for a wedding. So, what does that mean? New clothes! Yay! It’s nice to have something new to wear every now and then, isn’t it? It’s even nicer when the new clothes get the approval of the hubby. WooHoo! Now that makes me SMILE.

The only bad thing about new clothes is having to go shopping. Though I once loved it, I now see shopping as simply another chore. Ugh! But, have no fear. There can even be SMILES in dreaded shopping trips especially when I find…

Reason to SMILE #241: A BARGAIN!

And this trip did not disappoint. Not only did I find something appropriate for a wedding, I got a great deal. Can you say “clearance”? I walked out of the department store with two lovely blouses and one very cute dress for only $30. You better believe that made me SMILE!

New clothes and a bargain – simple little SMILES yet taken for granted by so many.

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me the luxury of buying new clothes when needed. And thank you for multiplying my little bit of funds into a great blessing!

Okay. Okay. I was wrong. There’s always something meaningful in every SMILE.

A Year of Smiles – Day 201

Reason to SMILE #201 – BLESSINGS

The rhythmic beat of drums and the blues-y sound of a bass guitar filled the air as a room of kids chanted “Bless-ed, bless-ed, bless-ed, bless-ed, bless-ed.”  We were singing a song about the Beatitudes found in Matthew chapter 5.  It’s actually a rap and when I first heard the song, I thought, “Wow! What a cool way to learn the Beatitudes!” After six weeks of trying to teach the song to these kids, I have come to the conclusion that my group was not meant to rap – no matter how much I wanted them to! Oh, well.

The Beatitudes are excellent Bible verses to read and even memorize. These verses talk about blessings. And who doesn’t like blessings? We ask God for them all the time, don’t we? Lord, bless this food.  Lord, bless our home. Lord, bless this business venture.  Lord, bless me. We pronounce blessings on others, too. What do you say when you hear someone sneeze? God bless you. And how do you respond when you find out someone is sick or when someone has gotten hurt? Aw, bless his heart. Yes, we like blessings.  However, our idea of blessings is not really the Lord’s idea of blessings.

God doesn’t hand out blessings like Santa handing out toys. If you read Scripture carefully, you’ll find that the blessings and promises of God usually come with a proviso. Read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1 -12, for instance. Some of the blessings you will find in these verses of Scripture are comfort, mercy, seeing God, being called a child of God and the kingdom of Heaven. Those all sound great. I’ll take those blessings, please! It doesn’t quite work like that. Jesus tells us in these verses that these blessings belong to those who live and act a certain way, to those who are faithful followers of God. Take a look:

³Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

It’s obvious from these verses that God doesn’t regard blessings as we do. God is more concerned with our lasting growth as a person than He is with our instant gratification. Again, He’s not Santa freely handing out candy canes at the mall or a genie in a bottle waiting to give you three wishes. There has to be some responsibility on our part. If we want to be blessed, we have to live the life worthy of blessings. And when we do, verse 12 tells us that even if we are insulted or persecuted for it, we can “Rejoice and be glad” a/k/a we can SMILE (KJV = KJ’s Version) for “great is your reward in heaven”!


A Year of Smiles – Day 191

Reason to SMILE #191: MERCY

I messed up. There’s no other way of looking at it. I completely blew it. I’ve worked for weeks to get a project completed. I’ve coordinated with several different parties from all over the United States, fought with overnight couriers, manipulated schedules and pretty much performed everything short of miracles so all could be finalized today.  Then I had to go and throw all that hard work away with one bad decision. Ugh! I may have played a huge role in completing this project but I’ve also single handedly thrown a huge kink in it’s culmination.

It has not been a good day. Fortunately, I have an understanding boss who did not even flinch with the news of my screw up. Instead, he helped me to meet enough of the requirements of the project today which will allow me time to fix my blunder in the next day or two. It’s humbling when you expect/deserve a negative reaction or speech filled with disappointment but you actually receive a helping hand and sympathetic gesture of forgiveness.

That’s a lot like God. No matter how many times we mess up, He isn’t waiting to give us a tongue lashing or strike us down with a lightning bolt. Instead, He’s waiting to forgive us with open arms. Yes, there may be consequences for our bad choices. We do have to learn from our mistakes. But God shows us mercy by withholding what we truly deserve, separation from Him because of our sins, and giving us what we do not deserve, grace and forgiveness.

I have no idea how my blunder is going to work out. It may be fine and I will be able to SMILE and thank God for the blessing. Or it may be the opposite and I may find myself cleaning up an ugly mess. Though definitely more difficult, I will still be able to SMILE realizing that I have been given an opportunity to learn from my mistake. (Did I mention how hard it will be to find that SMILE?) No matter the outcome, I am thankful for the reminder of the great mercy God shows to me every day of my life.