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 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.

A Year of Smiles – Day 176

Reason to SMILE #176: GRACE

John 3:16 (NIV) For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.


God’s grace is not restricted to those who are powerful, those who are rich, those who come from the right neighborhood or those who behave a certain way.  God’s grace is freely given to ALL who believe.

So why is the grace we choose to show limited to only a select few?

Knowing that I am loved, forgiven and accepted by God no matter my past, no matter my mistakes and no matter my proclivity for messing up, is the greatest SMILE of all.

Ephesians 2:8 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Matthew 7:1-2 (ESV) Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.


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A Year of Smiles – Day 169

Reason to SMILE #169: SUPERMAN

“I’m Superman,” my dad declared. “Didn’t you know that?”

“No, you’re not!” my siblings and I all protested.

“I am! I can lift this car with one hand,” Dad claimed.

We all responded with cheers to see our dad prove he was indeed Superman.

“Ok, here goes.” Without hesitation, Dad continued, “Wanna see me do it again?”

We protested again, “You didn’t do anything!”

With a grin on his face, Dad explained, “I did it so fast you couldn’t see me!”

He may not have lifted our car but there has never been any doubt in my mind that my dad is Superman. There’s no better dad and I’m grateful for him. He is my biggest fan and I can always depend on him for support, for help, for wise advice and for prayer. 

I’m blessed to have such a good father in my life, someone I can look up to, follow in his footsteps and trust to always love and accept me. You may not be able to say the same – at least not about an earthly father.  But you do have a Heavenly Father who is always good. He loves you and will always be there for you. He will never let you down or disappoint you. He’s even better than Superman! 😉

Cape or no cape – my dad always makes me SMILE and I know it’s because he’s following the example of the greatest Father of all!

Psalm 68:5 (ESV) Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

James 1:17 (ESV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

1 John 3:1 (NIV) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

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A Year of Smiles – Day 75

Reason to SMILE #75 – ONE SIZE FITS ALL

Imagine peering across a department store and spotting the cutest top you’ve ever seen.  You must possess it so you make a bee-line for it.  When you reach the rack from which it is hanging, you realize that the first shirt on the rack is too large.  You look for a smaller size but they all appear to be the same. Then you check the tags.  One Size Fits All.  Your heart is broken because you must accept that your wardrobe will never be complete.

This is the story of my life.  “One Size Fits All” does not fit me – ever.  And in no way does this sizing method make me smile.  Well… I take that back.  The hilarity of the whole concept actually does make me laugh. It’s ridiculous.  Who came up with this idea, anyway?

Despite my wardrobe woes, there is one thing that I am grateful uses the “One Size Fits facebook-romantic-smiley-with-heart-eyesAll” sizing method.  That is the Love of God.  Yes!  No matter who you are, no matter your shape, your weight, your height (or lack thereof), your sex, your color, God’s Love for you is a perfect fit.  You’ll never find it too small.  His love stretches to the farthest corners of creation to find you.  You’ll never find it binding.  His love frees us from the chains of sin allowing us to live life abundantly.  You’ll never find it too baggy.  His love nestles you in His strong arms keeping you safe and secure in His care.

God’s love is for you. God’s love is for me.  God’s love is for everyone.  One Size Fits All.  There’s no better reason to SMILE!

 

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A Year of Smiles – Day 45

love-smiley-with-heart-eyesReason to SMILE #45: LOVE, OF COURSE!

I found my Valentine twenty-one years ago.  Like in any new relationship, Valentine’s Day was everyday!  We called each other countless times a day, rushed to embrace like we hadn’t seen each other in weeks when it had only been hours, bought thoughtful gifts and even sent each other love letters (remember actually writing on a piece of paper? 😉 ).  Ah, young love.

Now that we’ve been married 19 of those 21 years, have raise one child to college years and are working on just getting the 2nd kid out of 6th grade (3 more months!), the pitter-pattering heartbeat of young love has pretty much fizzled.  It’s a good thing, too, because all that stuff we do to impress and secure that new love is exhausting!  Don’t get me wrong, folks.  I love my husband more today than I did 21 years ago and he’d say the same about me.  But after 21 years of faithfulness, of tackling life’s trials together and of learning to live as one, there’s no question of our love for each other.

Maybe you haven’t found your Valentine, yet.  Or maybe the one you thought was your Valentine turned out to be just the opposite.  Today, you need to know that you ARE loved.  You are loved by One who sees you as worthy of a gift far greater than any diamond necklace, fancy dinner or bouquet of flowers.  You are loved by Jesus.  He gave His own life so you could find forgiveness, acceptance, fulfillment, peace, joy and eternal salvation.  His love will satisfy the deepest longings of your heart when the love of this world has failed you.  Now that is a Love that will make you SMILE – if you let Him!

Oh, I almost forgot….

To my husband on this Valentine’s Day: You can skip the flowers and the jewelry.  (Seriously, they’re too expensive and we have bills to pay.)  A kiss on the cheek every morning is all I need from you to make me SMILE….  And a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  A Reese’s Peanut Butter cup would make me SMILE, too! 😉

It’s That Time, Again! Vacation Bible School

Of all the things I get to do as Children’s Minister at my church, Vacation Bible School is one of my favorites.  (Of course, I really do love it all.)  What a wonderfully chaotic experience!! I love everything about it, from the planning to the decorating to the music and the crafts.  Even clean up afterward can be fun – oh, yes, I said “fun”.  If you’ve never felt the release that comes from tearing down and cleaning out a whole children’s wing, you really should try it! But don’t forget to have your VBS music blaring in the background. 😉

We’ve already had VBS this summer.  Our kids went on a deep sea diving adventure to discover that God’s great love can reach us wherever we go.  It was a blast – no wait, that was last year’s theme (Standard Publishing’s Blast to the Past).  This year our entire program took place under the sea (a seemingly popular theme among VBS programs) and our kids and adult and youth volunteers loved every minute.

Each night we dove into the depths of the ocean and observed mysterious sea creatures all around us.

We swam through a swarm of jelly fish and discovered a sunken ship where we learned awesome truths from God’s Word.

We crafted our own under the sea creations in a seaweed-filled cavern.

And we learned to serve others in our very own yellow submarine.

Our diving excursions began with registration at the Dive Shop on Pelican Pier.

And each night, we began and ended at Celebration Reef where we filled the ocean depths with our praises to God.

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Whew! I’m tired just recapping our adventures!  Can you imagine what it was like with 58 children and almost as many youth and adults swimming around each night?  It was exhausting but wonderfully amazing at the same time.  Just seeing the expressions on each face, feeling the excitement in the air and knowing these kids were having fun learning about God’s love made all the effort, planning, decorating, hanging and re-hanging and then hanging blue table cloth again worth it.

Oh, but the best part was those three precious children who stood up to say they wanted to be a part of God’s family.  Yeah, that’s why I love VBS!

You Weren’t Made to Fit: A Letter to my “Square Peg”

Every day, I watch you struggle to find a place where you “fit”.  I see how much you long to be included, to feel at home somewhere, to feel accepted just as you are.  I feel your hurt when all the “Round Pegs” around you push you away because of your corners.  Oh, how I wish I could take away that hurt.  I wish I could make the world see the awesome kid that you are.

The bad news is I can’t.  I can’t change people.  I can only leave them in God’s hands.

But the good news is you’re going to be ok.  You see, you weren’t made to fit into the mold of this world.  God made you a “Square Peg” for a reason.  He molded you in His image and He has a purpose for those beautifully pronounced corners.  He has a job for you that only you can do – a job that requires your determination and resolve to go your own way, your imagination and creativity and your interesting perspective on life.

Knowing this won’t make life any easier, though.  You’ll still be teased. You’ll still hear ugly things that make you feel unimportant.  But when you are feeling down and you think there’s no place that you will ever “fit” or be accepted, just remember that God loves you just as you are, corners and all.  You will always “fit” perfectly in His great big arms.

How do I know this?  It’s simple.  I’m a Square Peg, too.  And, this Square Peg will always be here for you, ready to wipe away any tears, to polish up those awesome corners and to walk with you as you discover the great things God has planned for you.

“I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

The Case Against Worry

There is no where I go that God is not there. In my home, at my job, on the streets, in my car – He is there. No matter my situation, He is there. When I am enjoying life’s mountaintop, my God is there. When I am grieving in life’s valley, He is there. When I choose to walk away, He is there. I cannot outrun Him. I cannot hide from Him. I am never and will never be alone.

He knows my thoughts. He knows my words even before I speak. He knows my dreams. He knows my fears. He knows my prayers before I pray. He made me. He carefully and skillfully crafted together all that makes me, me. He knows me better than I know myself. I cannot fool God.

I am wonderfully made by the Master of all Creation. I am His masterpiece! I am constantly in the thoughts of the Lord of all the Universe. I am His treasured love!  I am held by the hands of the Mighty Protector and Defender. I am His precious child!

I have no need to worry!

Psalm 139