A Year of Smiles – Day 206


“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! 😉 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…


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 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.

And….They Died

To my four year old, our short road trip seemed to be taking forever.  He was anxious and ready to get out of the car.  Trying to make the time pass a little more quickly, I suggested that we tell stories.  I began the story.  Big brother continued our creative tale and then it was little brother’s turn to finish.  Without hesitation, he exclaimed, “And…they died!”  It was obvious that our story telling was not improving his mood but we laughed and asked him to tell us another story.  He did and you’ll never guess how it ended.  OK, you probably will – “And….they died.”

I was reminded of this funny (but a bit disturbing) story telling as I watched a Bible video with my church kids.  The video told the story of Ananias and Sapphira from Acts chapter 5.  Remember those two?  This husband and wife sold some land then gave a portion of their earnings to the church.  What a great thing to do!  But instead of telling the truth about their earnings, they lied to Peter telling him that they were giving all that they made from the sale and not just a portion.  Guess what the result of their sin, lying to God, was.  Yep, you guessed it – “And….they died!”  They dropped dead on the spot.

You should have seen the faces of my kids as they watched Ananias drop dead after telling a lie.  Their little jaws fell to the floor.  Then after Sapphira came on the scene, told the same lie and died, their jaws hit the floor again.  It was amazing to see the wheels churning in their minds and to hear all the questions that arose from this story of sin and consequences.   Could I really die if I tell a lie?  What if no one knows I lied?  What an awesome opportunity it was to share just how serious God takes sin and to emphasize that even when we think we’ve gotten away with something, God knows because God looks at our hearts.

It’s all about our character.  How are you seen by others?  Who are you truly – on the inside?  Are you that “good” person who’s just like everyone else?  Everyone lies a little; everyone cheats, right?  Are you that person who no one trusts, someone who is constantly deceptive and only looks out for yourself?  Or are you that person who seeks to live out your life to honor and glorify God, someone who displays the fruit of the spirit every day and in every situation?  You see, as Christians, our character matters because our character should be a reflection of God’s character.

“Look!” you say, “I understand this whole godly character thing but I’m not going to die if I tell a lie.”  Maybe not.  God constantly offers mercy and forgiveness.  But what about your testimony to others?  What about the trust that others have in you?  The more you willingly sin, the less of an impact your testimony will have, the less the world will trust you and the less the world will trust in the God you represent. What could be worse than the death of a Christian’s testimony and character?

Not long after our Bible lesson, a mom came to pick up her little ones.  Her sweet daughter immediately fessed up to a lie she had told that morning.  It was a lie her mom never would have discovered but she knew she had to confess and ask forgiveness.  That, my friends, is godly character.  What about you?  Do you need to “fess up” to God and start working on your character?  Or are you satisfied to know that the end of your story, the story of your testimony and character, just might be “and.…they died”?