A Year of Smiles – Day 281

Reason to SMILE #281: SMARTIES

It’s funny the things we remember from our childhoods. I remember chasing my brothers around the house with a plastic baseball bat and getting stuck on the monkey bars because a snake had decided to crawl under me and hold me hostage. I also remember piling into a little Ford Fiesta, along with the seven other members of my family, to go to church every Sunday. And at this church was a pastor who would carry gumballs around in his suit coat pocket. All of the kids knew it and as soon as the service was over, we’d excitedly make our way to the pastor to get a piece of gum. What an impression this pastor made! With the simple gift of a piece of gum every Sunday, this pastor showed us kids how important we were to the church family.

At the church I attend now, we also have a smartiesman who is making a lasting impression on the lives of children. He is affectionately known as the “Candy Man” and the kids are always seeking him out. They all know that each Sunday he hands out Smarties and they love it! He has a big heart and loves to see the SMILE on the face of each child as he hands him or her a piece of candy. It may seem like a small gesture but I know the impact it has on these kids and the love they receive with each pack of Smarties will last a lifetime.

Oh! And each Sunday, the Candy Man makes sure I receive a pack of Smarties, as well. He walks up beside me, reaches for my hand and secretly sneaks me the candy. “You may be the Children’s Director but you’re just as little as they are. So you get a piece of candy, too!” Makes me SMILE every time.


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 131

Reason to SMILE #131: LITE-BRITES

“Why do we go to church?” asked the Sunday School teacher.

Quickly, the children in the class responded with the usual answers one would expect to hear:File May 11, 11 14 51 PM

“To learn about God”,

“To learn about the Bible”,

“To worship God”.

“Now, tell me,” said the teacher. “Why do you go to church?”

An unusual silence fell over the students.  A few brave students finally spoke the revealing truth:

“To have fun”,

“Because mom and dad makes me”.

Then another child raised his voice, “We go to church so God can make us a Lite-Brite!”

Laughter erupted in the Sunday School classroom.  Little did these students know how right that little boy was!


As a child, I would play with my Lite-Brite for hours creating pictures full of brilliantly colored lights.  When each picture was finished, I would turn out all the lights leaving only the Lite-Brite to shine.  To my delight, flecks of colored light pierced through the darkness and illuminated my room.

This child’s toy is actually the perfect picture of what God’s Church should be to the world.  With the uniqueness of each member, all come together to create the brilliant colors of light that shine out into a darkened world.  The combination of our individual lights forms the shining pictures of God’s Love, His Truth and His Salvation that drive away the shadows of loneliness, deception and death.

Imagine the brilliantly beaming SMILES when God’s children join together to shine out like a Lite-Brite for all the world to see!

Christians, Assemble!

Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25 – A lot of us are quite familiar with this verse.  We often hear it quoted when folks are talking of church attendance and fellowship with other believers.  But we hear it most, I think, when we are being chastised for being a slacker and skipping out on church!  As an argument for faithful church attendance, though, this verse is a good one (it is God’s Word, after all) but have you ever taken a look at verse 24?  I think if you do, you’ll see church attendance or regular fellowship with your church family in a brand new light.

To be honest, I had no clue what was in verse 24 until I came across it in my daily Bible reading.  Maybe you’re like me and right about now, you’re reaching for your Bible to take a look.  Well, here’s what it says,

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds… 

I know what you’re thinking and I can hear that confused tone in your voice as you are slowly saying, “And????”

Exactly!  The phrase “let us consider how” in verse 24 clues us in that the author is about to explain something and that we must keep reading if we want to partake of the knowledge to follow.  That leads us to verse 25.

So, read verses 24 and 25 together:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Wow!  These two verses definitely don’t need to be separated.  Let us consider why.  (Do you like what I did there? – It’s an indicator to keep reading!)

At first glance, verse 25 appears to be a reprimand.  It seems that there were some among the Hebrew believers who had made a habit of playing hooky.  It’s obvious the writer did not approve for he clearly pointed out the fault.  But when verses 24 and 25 are read together as one thought, it becomes clear that the writer is doing much more than scolding.  He is revealing the great role that meeting together plays in the life of the body of Christ.

So, what is that role?  Look back at verse 24.

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds… 

The family of God should be building each other up and encouraging one another, so much so that it compels each one of its members to go out and do the same for others.  How can we do this?  Where and when does or should this take place?  First and foremost, this should be happening in our church.

Now, I’m curious. Why do you go to church?  Come on, you know you have a list of reasons.  Most of us faithful church attenders do and we’re always ready to rattle these reasons off as soon as we are questioned.  Do these sound familiar?

I go to church to worship God.

I go to learn more about God.

I go to grow in my relationship with God. 

I go to church to spend time with other believers.

I go because the Bible tells us to gather together with other Christians.

Well, I’m a member of the finance committee, a Sunday School teacher, the children’s minister (wink, wink), etc., so I’m expected to be there.

But have you ever stopped to think that when you step into that church building or wherever your local body of believers meets, your purpose for being there is to encourage those around you?  That all that you say and do while you are together should be lifting up fellow believers so that when you leave each other, those brothers or sisters in Christ can walk away feeling blessed and encouraged and compelled to share that love with others?

Imagine if we all had this purpose in mind as we ready ourselves for church on Sunday mornings.  Forget the committee meetings, the Sunday School lessons and the choir specials.  Yes, yes, these are important, too, but what if the first thing on our minds was finding that person who’s had a rough week (we know who they are – we’ve seen their Facebook posts!) and giving them a great, big hug, praying with them and letting them know that we’re there for them.  What if we focused our attention on the person sitting beside us in our Sunday School class and the problems they may be secretly facing?  What if our first thought as we walked into the sanctuary was, “Is there anyone sitting alone today?”  And what if we made a beeline to that person so we could sit with her and make her feel welcome?  I just wonder what a difference it would make.

What if we changed our thinking about why we go to church?  What if our sole purpose was to love on each other, to encourage one another, to pray for one another, to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds”?  Imagine the smiles, the burdens lifted, the lives changed. Imagine the sound of the people of God saying, “It was good to be in the House of The Lord today!”  How pleasing to the Heavenly Father that would be!!  And there, my friends, is your worship.  There is your fellowship with God.  There is your spiritual growth.  Loving as God loved, following in the steps of Christ – what better way to worship our Heavenly Father!

So, what are your plans for this Sunday?  Are you ready to make a difference in the lives of your brothers and sisters in Christ?  Are you ready to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds”?  Well, I don’t know about you but I sure am!

Plan B

I’m a “Plan A” kind of person.  I spend hours, days, weeks and more preparing, organizing and lining up every detail so that Plan A will come off without a hitch.  After all, Plan A is the best plan so why settle for anything less?  And just as one of my college friends recently posted on his Facebook wall, I simply don’t have time to develop a Plan B.  But the reality is there are times when Plan B is necessary like when the church is hosting a Family Fun Night filled with all kinds of outdoor activities for the kids and the weatherman is calling for rain. That is exactly where I found myself the other day.

What were we going to do?  The bouncy houses had already been reserved.  The cotton candy, popcorn and snow cone machines were ready to go and the children were anticipating a fun evening outdoors.  But the weather radar was filled with green, yellow and red blobs and those blobs were heading our way.  I had an indoor game that we could play that would involve children, youth and adults.  And the cotton candy, popcorn and snow cones would be just as good inside as they would outside but Plan A – that is what I wanted to do.  I prayed for God to hold back the rains, at least until after our fun night.  I refused to look at the radar even though our youth minister kept giving me updates.  I simply did not want to go to Plan B but God had other plans.  Those colorful blobs from the radar stayed their course and the rains did come.

So, we played the craziest, most chaotic game we could play in a church dining hall and we ate snow cones, popcorn and cotton candy.  Though the evening began with a little disappointment, it ended with excitement, exhaustion and even a bit of amazement.  Plan B worked and we all had a great time.  How do I know?  It was the hug I received at the end of the night just before a little boy was leaving and the words that made Plan B all worthwhile – “Bye, Ms. Karen.  I had fun with you tonight.”  Yeah.  I’m thinking my Plan B was God’s Plan A all along!