A Year of Smiles – Day 220

Reason to SMILE #220: ENERGY BOOSTS


What refuels your tank? What inspires you and keeps you going? What encourages you when you’ve lost your moxie? What gives you that extra oomph to get you through the home stretch?

Good friends?

Inspirational quotes?

Cute little memes?

Prayer?

God’s Word?

Great! Those are all fantastic. Keep seeking that encouragement!

Now. What brings you down? What stops you in your tracks? What makes you stumble? What snuffs out that flame within?

Negative people?

Bad days?

Disappointment?

Criticism?

Struggles?

What if, instead of allowing these things to bring us down, we converted all that negativity into fuel for our fires? What if we took everything meant to stop us and harnessed its power and energy to push us even further toward our goals?

What if? Negativity is thrown at us everyday. We have a choice to either allow it to bring us down, stifle our growth and rob us of our joy or to let it strengthen our resolve, affirm our callings and broaden our SMILES. 

Energy siphon? Or energy boost? Which one will you choose?

A Year of Smiles – Day 219

Reason to SMILE #219: A GOOD, SWIFT KICK 

… in the pants! 

Yep. There are times when it is completely necessary. Sometimes we get in a funk and can’t seem to find our way out. We begin wallowing in self-pity and despair over lost love, an unfavorable situation at work or a missed opportunity. The more we think of our unhappy circumstances, the more we whine and complain. And with each verse of our sob songs, we make ourselves and all those around us more and more miserable. Until… 

… someone decides to gives us a good, swift kick in the hiney or a smack on the back of the head. Sure. It may not always take a physical altercation to bring us out of our negativity and back to the land of abundant living but a kick sure does grab the attention! And when we’ve made it past a certain point in our little pity parties, it often takes something drastic to wake us up from our self-indulgent stupors.

Even more, it takes someone special to do the waking, kicking or rescuing. It takes someone willing to take us by the shoulders, look us in the eyes and tells us to get with it, to stop dwelling on our problems and start counting our blessings. It takes someone willing to risk a friendship or risk the backlash they may incur in order to help a friend find joy again.

We need lots of someones like that in our lives. We need to be those someones for others.

A good, swift kick in the pants most likely will not make us SMILE – at least not at first. But if it works, if it wakes us up from our stupor of negativity and self-pity, we’ll be grateful to the one who cared enough to do the kicking!

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 151

Reason to SMILE #151: PRAYER

How often do you pray?  I find myself praying all the time.praying-hands-emoticon

“Lord, help me make it through this day.”

“Lord, please keep so-and-so safe.”

“Heal so-and-so quickly, Lord.”

“Thank you for all your blessings, Lord.”

“Ok, Lord, give me strength ’cause these kids are killin’ me!” 😉

The day to day conversations with God come pretty easy.  It’s like chatting with a friend or co-worker.  There’s merit to those little prayer snippets but I’m not sure this is truly what prayer is meant to be.

When was the last time you actually got down on your knees and spent hours in prayer with the Heavenly Father praising him for His blessings, casting your burdens at His feet, asking forgiveness for your transgressions and listening for His still, small voice to speak to your soul?  Now that doesn’t come so easy – at least not for me.  Often, I set out to spend time with God but weariness or busyness interrupts.   Oh, how it must make God feel when I can’t even make time to sit and talk with Him.

Right about now, you’re probably thinking that this doesn’t sound much like a SMILE.  Maybe not yet but hang on, folks.  I’m getting there.

I may not be the prayer warrior that I should be (God’s still working on me!) but I know without a doubt that there are mighty prayer warriors out there praying for me.  How do I know?  Because there’s no way I could have made it through some of the things I’ve been through without the prayers of loving friends and family.  And when I have a need, those prayer warriors – my mom, my dad, my pastor, my best friend, my church family – are there to pray me through whatever I am facing.  Now, to me, that’s worth a hundred SMILES and so much more!

 

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A Year of Smiles – Day 136

Reason to SMILE #136: PEP TALKS 


Have you ever had one of those days when everything seems to go wrong and no matter what you say or do, you can’t make it right?

Have you ever felt as if nothing you do is good enough? 

Have you ever believed yourself to be insignificant to the world around you?

I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve felt these things many times. In fact, today has been one of those difficult days that makes finding a SMILE a serious challenge. And if it weren’t for a little pep talk I received the other day from a friend, I’m not sure I would have even attempted this blog post.

I know I’m not the only one who has days like today so I am passing this pep talk on to you. No matter how bad the day, no matter how convinced you are that your life does not make a difference, remember that YOU ARE AWESOME and YOU ARE LOVED!

Click here for your pep talk!

Now, go share this SMILE with someone else who just might need to here those three small words: YOU ARE AWESOME!

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A Year of Smiles – Day 60

Reason to SMILE #60: BELIEVING IN YOURSELF

“I can’t!” I declared.

I was in Junior High and basketball was on the agenda for P.E.  My teacher knew I would not be able to run up and down the court but she wanted me to participate in some way.  She encouraged me to at least practice shooting the basketball.  Well, I had tried before and couldn’t do it.  What was the use in trying again?  I was only going to be humiliated by my failure.  I begged to be excused from the activity.  I cried and repeated over and over, “I can’t do it.  I just can’t!”

Unfortunately, my teacher was good friends with my parents who had instructed her not to give in to my “sob story” tactics.  Of course, my parents knew full well my physical limitations due to my muscle disorder but they never let me use it as an excuse.  I always had to try something first so a “Get Out of P.E. Free” card was never a possibility.  Aren’t parents awesome?  (They really are!  I just didn’t think so at the time.)

I was doomed to shooting basketball.  My teacher was lovingly relentless in her encouragement to keep trying.  “Never say you can’t,” she’d say, “because you can do it.”  I tried.  I failed.  I tried again. I failed.  I tried again and again and again each time failing miserably.  Soon, however, I discovered that my efforts were paying off.  The ball was going a little higher, a little further out and closer to the basket each time I made a shot.  My classmates began to join the teacher in her encouragement.  Never once did they laugh because I could not make the basket.  I kept trying.  Then one day, I shot the basketball and boom!  I did it.  I actually made it.  My classmates cheered.  My teacher hugged me and I learned to say, “I can.”

I’ll never forget the day when I made my first basket.  It was thrilling.  I actually did it but I wouldn’t have if it had not been for the encouragement of my parents, my teacher and my classmates.  It was their belief in me that led to my own belief in myself.  I won’t sit here and tell you that I have never said the words “I can’t” again but that personal triumph has made a lasting impact on how I approach challenges in my life.

You see, there are always going to be people who tell me that I can’t do something.  There will be those who look at my appearance, who know my physical limitations, who know the mistakes I’ve made and all of my shortcomings and they will shake their heads and say, “There’s just no way.”  If I join the naysayers, or allow their opinions of me to become my own, I’m defeated before I even get a chance to try.  I am guaranteeing my own failure because I can never succeed if I never try.  I must believe in myself.  Even more, I must believe in the One who made me who I am and who faithfully whispers in my ear, “Yes, my child, you can.”  thumbs-up-facebook-smiley-face

So, how do I keep believing in myself when others insist on discouraging me?  It’s simple.  When others look at me and say, “You can’t,” I remember my first successful basketball shot, look those naysayers straight in the eyes, SMILE and proudly say, “You just watch me!”

A Year of Smiles – Day 44

Reason to SMILE #44: GOING M.A.D.

I have a new goal in life: I WILL transform my Mondays into SMILES!

On Day 30, I issued a challenge of sorts to give Mondays the new purpose of spreading joy to those around you.  The challenge was mainly for my sake, I think, so today I have chosen to “Go M.A.D.”  Today and every Monday, I will Go Make A Difference in someone’s life.  Whether it’s through sending an encouraging email, making a phone call or buying lunch for someone behind me in the drive-thru line, I will find a way to bring a SMILE to someone other than myself.  And I’ll share those SMILES with you.

I want you to share your SMILES with me, as well.  So how ’bout it?  Will you take the flattering-emoticonchallenge to “Go M.A.D.” on these dreaded Mondays?  Remember, the more SMILES you give, the more SMILES you have.  It’s that simple.

I can’t wait to hear all about your Monday SMILES!

 

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A Year of Smiles – Day 15

Reason to SMILE #15: CHURCHboth-thumbs-up-smiley

What comes to mind when you hear the word “church”?  Are you filled with excitement when discussing church?  Do you look forward to each opportunity to worship with your church family?  Or do you groan at the thought of it and find every excuse to stay away?

For many, church has a negative connotation.  Whether these people were forced to go as a child or they’ve had a bad experience, there’s just something about church that rubs them the wrong way.  And if you get them talking about it, well, you might as well sit down.  That conversation is going to last a while.  Their reasons for disliking church will go on and on (and on and on and on 😉 ).

I must admit, though, that I understand those negative feelings.  I’ve been going to church all my life.  I’ve seen the bad and I’ve felt the hurt that drives away so many.  But I’ve also seen the good and have felt the love that reaches out to all of us.  I’ve discovered that for all of the reasons not to attend church, there are that many reasons, and more, in favor of going to church.  You simply have to adjust your focus.

Remember, the church is people and people are not perfect – none of us.  When we keep that in mind, it’s a whole lot easier to put away our list of reasons to stay away from church and start seeing the multitude of reason why going to church really can make us SMILE!

Psalm 122:1 (KJV)  I was glad when they said unto me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

 

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This IS the Day

Encouragement for the Downhearted

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!

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!