Reason to SMILE #350 – Christmas Edition: The NATIVITY

A blanket of white velvet covered the earth as snow gently drifted in the brisk night sky. Houses, adorned with twinkling lights and shiny bows, were aglow with a brightness exceeded only by the umbrella of shimmering stars overhead. The lullaby of carolers took wing on the gentle breezes of winter, filling the air with a song accompanied by the jingle of bells, the whistle of winds and …

… the shrill of a screaming choir angel being chased around the classroom by a shepherd carrying what seemed to be Joseph’s mustache and beard while a clean-shaven Joseph was following closely behind.

Leaping from her chair (and back into reality), Mrs. Jennings scrambled to rescue the angel in distress only to be stopped short by a whining wise man as he tugged at his collar and struggled to keep his crown atop his head.  Switching gears from rescue heroine to seamstress, Mrs. Jennings attempted alterations on the magi’s royal robe which she found to be wet along the hem line. Examining a little further, Mrs. Jennings, now detective, found a trail of water leading all the way to the stable where Mary sat whimpering as she held baby Jesus by one arm over a puddle of water on the floor. Swabbing the stable floor, Mrs. Jennings longed for the peaceful winter night of her earlier daydream but reassured herself that practice for the first grade Christmas pageant couldn’t get any worse.

Then it happened. A loud crash echoed through the classroom and the little town of Bethlehem was at last silent. Mrs. Jennings slowly turned to find a choir angel, a shepherd and a clean-shaven Joseph with heads held low and a pile of broken ceramics at their feet. The teacher’s heart sank as she realized that the reckless trio had broken her grandmother’s nativity set, now a precious heirloom. Mrs. Jennings approached the rubble and her students shuffled to take their seats. As she picked up the pieces, she quietly began to speak.

“When I was a little girl, my family and I would spend Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house. I loved Christmas Eve at Grandma’s. She always baked Christmas cookies and played Christmas music. We had a wonderful time but my favorite part of Christmas Eve was the time just before opening our presents. Grandma would gather everyone around this nativity set. She only displayed the stable stall filled with all the animals and the empty manger until Christmas Eve. As we gathered around, Grandma would tell us the story of Jesus’ birth and display the other pieces of the nativity set as she went along. Like these pieces,” Mrs. Jennings said as she held up a damaged Joseph and Mary.

“Joseph and Mary traveled a very long way to get to Bethlehem and when they arrived, there was no room for them in the inn. The innkeeper led Mary and Joseph to the stable stall because he knew Mary needed a warm place to stay. You see, Mary was going to have a baby.” Mrs. Jennings carefully placed Mary and Joseph in the stable and picked up one of the shepherds.

“That same night shepherds were in the fields watching their sheep and an angel of the Lord appeared to them.” Mrs. Jennings searched for the angel amidst the broken pieces. “The angel told the shepherds that a baby was born in Bethlehem and this baby was the Savior. The shepherds quickly left their sheep and found the Baby Jesus exactly where the angel had said – wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in the manger.” Mrs. Jennings placed the Baby Jesus in the manger and continued, “The shepherds worshipped the Baby Jesus because he was no ordinary baby. Jesus was and is the Son of God. Just as the angels proclaimed, Jesus is our Savior. He came to forgive us for our wrongdoing, and misbehavior,” added Mrs. Jennings slyly. “God wants us to someday live forever with Him in heaven but because of our sin, we can’t enter heaven. So God sent his only Son as a baby to grow up in our world and to show us His love by dying to pay the punishment for our sins and rising from the grave to give us hope. Jesus is God’s gift to us and all we have to do to receive this gift is believe.”

Mrs. Jennings smiled as she remembered her grandmother’s ending to the Christmas Eve story, “As Grandma placed the complete Nativity Set on the fireplace mantel, she would always say, ‘One day, I’m going to celebrate Christmas in Heaven, are you?’ ”

With this question, Mrs. Jennings looked up from the priceless Nativity Set to see a precious miracle. As she was telling of the Savior’s birth, her students had made their way to their places in the stable stall.  The choir of angels began to sing the soft lullaby of “Away in a Manger”. Shepherds knelt quietly in the presence of their Savior as wise men gathered with gifts in the background. Joseph, with full beard and mustache, stood proudly by Mary who lovingly wrapped the Baby Jesus in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger.

The snow gently fell outside the first grade classroom window as the sweet serenade of little voices filled the air. Mrs. Jennings smiled through her tears and quietly thanked God for the long winter nights of Christmas pageant practice.


The Case Against Worry

The Case Against Worry - Why there just isn’t need for it |
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 139:1-18

Desolate Sanctuary

Desolate Sanctuary - One last prayer changed her life forever... |

She sat alone in the back of a quiet sanctuary. It was her spot. She would sneak in the back every Sunday just after the morning service began. She’d listen as the songs were sung and the sermon was preached and then slip out during the invitation – a quick “pick me up” for the week.

The problem is it never worked.

For some time now, her heart has been hurting. She’s been walking through life as if in a fog – a fog that would never lift. She’s been searching for answers, for an escape from the shadows that smothered her hopes and dreams. She’s been longing for an end to her desolation but hasn’t been able to find it.

As far as she was concerned, there was only one way out – only one way to end her burdens and suffering. She knew the darkness, the sadness, the dreariness of her life was a result of her own choices. She had thrown away her dreams. She had caused her own misery. Only she could end the pain.

She made her way to the back pew of the church one last time. Tears were streaming down her face as the pastor invited the congregation to pray. She had not prayed in years but she wanted to pray one last time. The weight of her burdens was so heavy she almost couldn’t stand. She struggled to her feet and made her way to the altar. She didn’t know what to say but as her tears drenched the altar, her heart began to plead with the Father:

“Lord, bring your favor to this desolate sanctuary.

Lord, shine your light into this darkened tomb.

Lord, pour your spirit on this tattered and broken temple.

Lord, may your presence fill this life anew.”

She thought this would be her last prayer so she held nothing back. She poured out her soul and laid the broken pieces of her life before the Lord. She cried out in anger, in desperation, in brokenness. She expected nothing but in the midst of her tears, she found everything. The Father that she had walked away from so many years before was waiting for her with arms open wide. He picked up her broken pieces and opened her eyes to the hope that only He can give. He wiped away her tears, picked her up and filled her with the light of His Love.

One last prayer changed her life forever.

What about you? Are you living in a fog, in the shadow of your regrets? Do you feel like your life is a desolate wasteland? Are you haunted by the choices of your past? Are you pursuing things of this world, things that are leading you away from the Giver of abundant life? Are you ready to give up?

It’s time. Give it up today. Take it to our Heavenly Father and give it all to Him. You may have walked away. You may have made all the wrong choices but you do not have to remain in desolation. He is waiting for you with open arms. He wants to restore you. He wants to take the broken pieces of your life and make them into something beyond your wildest dreams. He wants to heal your soul and love on you today. Don’t wait any longer! Go ahead and Pray!


Reason to SMILE #17: Forgiveness

Reason to SMILE #17: Forgiveness - Has something been stealing your joy? You might just need a little bit of this. |

My husband often kicks his feet during the night. It can be quite annoying. My husband isn’t bothered by it. He sleeps like a baby but many nights it keeps me wide awake.

You see, falling asleep at night does not come easy for me. There are times when I can’t turn off my thoughts and I lie awake going over everything that happened during the day, listing everything I need to do the next day, coming up with ideas for blog posts (haven’t been very successful with this one lately!) and praying. After what seems like an eternity, I’ll finally drift off to sleep. Then…

Whack! I get kicked by my husband.

Seriously! The other night, he actually kicked me! And every few minutes, he did it again. I tried to be understanding. I gently pushed his legs further away from me. It made no difference. The kicks kept coming. I asked him to turn over thinking he would kick the other direction but no-ooo! He began to kick backwards. Ultimately, I could take it no longer and when he kicked me again for the umpteenth time, I kicked him right back! But wouldn’t you know it. My husband wasn’t phased a bit. It sure made me feel better, though! 😉

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t react like I did?

No matter how many times we mess up or how often we return to the things we shouldn’t be doing, God never repays our sins with what is deserved. Instead, He is patient with us. He shows us love and mercy. He offers us grace. And when we’re ready to admit our wrongs and throw down our sins, He showers us with His forgiveness.

Let me tell you, folks. There’s nothing like the Joy that comes with God’s forgiveness!! If you haven’t experienced it, you really ought to give it a shot. 🙂

By the way, the day after I kicked my husband, I decided to fess up. I told him about his restless legs and my frustration over his incessant kicking. He apologized and asked if I had gone to sleep in the living room.

“Absolutely not!” I replied. “I just kicked you back!”

I’ve never heard my husband laugh so hard.

Well, at least he got a SMILE out of the whole ordeal. <SIGH>

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Psalm 103:10-13 He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.

Reflections, Observations and Questions – What I’ve Learned from COVID-19

Reflections, Observations and Questions - What I’ve Learned from COVID-19 |

The end of shelter-in-place mandates is drawing near. Soon, the restless natives will be released into the wild. I want to jump for joy but…

Is it time? Are we safe? Will things ever get back to “normal”? Do we even want things to get back to normal?

There’s a lot to consider.

And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing these last few weeks – considering the world’s issues, pondering over the colossal chaos caused by a microscopic virus, contemplating the historical significance of this period in time and examining the effects this pandemic has had on me personally.

It’s probably safe to say we’ve all been doing a little bit of soul searching of late. I don’t know how your reflection has been going but mine has led to several surprising (and some not so surprising) revelations. I like to call them my “Coronalations”.

Are you ready for this? 😉

Coronalation No. 1 – I touch my face entirely too much.


Coronalation No. 2 – I really do like the idea of social distancing.

Six feet away, folks. Don’t come any closer. Do not – I repeat – do NOT let my Smile deceive you. I will throw something at you! 😉 (Haha! Just kidding!… not really.)

Coronalation No. 3 – I was right!!

My child, who has always begged to be homeschooled, has, during his mandatory distance learning, done exactly what I thought he’d do if I had granted his request to be homeschooled – absolutely nothing.

He did pass all of his courses, though. Barely.

Coronalation No. 4 – No matter how much quarantine time you give me, I will never get the laundry done – or the sweeping, or the dusting, or the …

To be fair, though, I am an essential worker so I haven’t been confined to my home 24-7. But you’d think I could at least get something done on the weekends! (More blog posts, perhaps??)

Coronalation No. 5 – Even this introvert gets a little stir crazy sometimes.

We all need a change of scenery every now and then. But I’m a rule follower so I have stayed at home. In fact, I will continue to stay at home even though my governor has given the go ahead to mix and mingle (at a safe distance, of course – like that’s going to happen!). I choose to keep spreading SMILES – not germs.

Coronalation No. 6 – I take my hairstylist for granted.

I haven’t had a haircut since December. I actually missed an appointment in February because I overslept. And right about now, I’m pretty sure I could claim that cash reward Daddy Warbucks issued for finding Little Orphan Annie’s long lost Momma! Hands down. Ain’t nobody gonna question me when I say she’s mine! You think I’m kidding…

Coronalation No. 7 – Some of us humans are ridiculously stubborn.

It’s kinda entertaining watching grown folks stomp their feet, stick out their tongues and scream, “You’re not the boss of me!!”

But, c’mon. At some point, we have to remember that there are a lot of young folks watching how we handle ourselves during these times. What are we teaching them?

Now that’s something to think about…

Coronalation No. 8 – And most of us humans are easily swayed.

Yep. We will believe anything. ANYTHING.

Like the Bible says, “All we, like sheep…” Baaaaa!

Coronalation No. 9 – I’m not sure I like being “essential”.

First of all, I am not one of the heroes risking their lives everyday to care for those who are sick. I would never compare my work to anything that these amazing humans are doing for the world.

However, I am considered essential because 9 months ago, I made the move to the banking world. The thing is my workplace is in a virus hotspot and our doors have not closed – not even once. Our customers appreciate it but it truly has been a bit stressful to say the least.

And to be completely honest, I have re-evaluated my career move e-ver-y day!

Coronalation No. 10 – I’m not ready for the world to resume.

I’ve enjoyed slow-paced living – not having to worry about the kid getting to school in the morning, very little traffic on the streets, less sirens howling through the air.

My heart has been overwhelmed watching folks band together to feed hungry children who were left without daily meals when the schools closed their doors. I’ve loved seeing quarantined moms and seamstresses handcrafting heaps of protective masks for medical personnel, nursing home residents and anyone else who is in need.

I’ve basked in the stillness and the quiet. And even though the uncertainty of this situation has overwhelmed and overcome from time to time, my faith has grown stronger.

Still, all of this makes me wonder…

Why does it take a crisis to bring us together? Why does it take loss to help us appreciate all that we have? Why does it take a threat to our way of life to make us reach out to one another, support one another and show our gratitude for one another? Why does it take fear to drive us back to our Heavenly Father, back to the One who is always waiting with open arms, back to the Source of hope, salvation, strength and peace?


I think I’d like to keep the speed of this world a little slower, the noise just a bit quieter and the distractions a great deal smaller. Maybe then, we’d have time for each other. Maybe then, we’d be a little more forgiving. Maybe then, we’d remember all of the many blessings God has given us. Maybe then, we’d find a little more peace.



I Guarantee It

I Guarantee It - Are you looking for something or someone you can always depend on? Look no further. |

Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for his mercies never end.

Lamentations 3:22 (CSB)

For the hurting and broken, His love brings healing.

For the depressed, His love brings hope.

For the grief-stricken, His love brings comfort.

For the overwhelmed, His love lightens the load.

For the wayward, His love disciplines.

For the lost and wandering, His love points the way back home.

For the returned prodigal, His love forgives and restores.

For the anxious and fearful, His love brings peace and calm.

No matter your situation or circumstances, you can always count on God’s faithful love to come to your rescue.

The rescue may not be as you had hoped.

It may come as a closed door or missed opportunity. It may come as a broken relationship or unfulfilled dream. But the love of the Heavenly Father for His child is still faithful.

Or the rescue may not be as grand as you had imagined.

It may come in a warm embrace or a hand to hold, in a casserole dish or a cup of coffee, in a phone call or in a prayer.

God gives His love in so many different ways.

So be encouraged, my friend. God’s love will always be there.

He will carry you today. He’ll be your strength, your comfort and your joy.

His faithful love will always come to your rescue.

The Hope of Christmas

The Hope of Christmas |


Unto us a Child is born,

unto us a Son is given,

and the government will be on His shoulders.

And He will be called

Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God,

Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace,


for He will save his people from their sins.


Isaiah‬ ‭9:6‬; Matthew‬ ‭1:21‬‬‬


May each of you enjoy the blessings of Christmas and find the Hope, Joy, Peace, Comfort and Love that is wrapped in the gift of God’s Son.

Merry Christmas!

The Interruption of God

The Interruption of God - Are you willing to say “Yes” to God’s plans for your life? |

She didn’t plan to abandon tradition.

She didn’t plan to be the subject of whispers in the market place.

She didn’t plan to cause her betrothed shame or humiliation.

She certainly didn’t plan to become the mother of God’s Son.

But God…

His plan would turn her life upside down.

His plan would stretch her faith beyond its limits.

His plan would bring her blessings, joy and honor.

His plan would save, not only her, but the entire world.


To the revelation of God’s plan for her life, Mary answered, “May it be done to me according to your word.”

And what a plan it was!

Now, imagine the difference in your life if you would only allow God’s plans to interrupt yours.

Duck Walk vs. Dog Face: The Battle for Self-Worth

Duck Walk vs. Dog Face: The Battle for Self-Worth - Are you struggling with self-esteem issues? Learn how to fight back against what the world says you are and stand firm in who God says you are. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.comThere she was, sitting with her face buried in her hands, tears trickling through her fingers and soft sobs evading her feeble attempt at concealment.  I looked on with mixed emotions.  I was frustrated with the boy who caused the tears, sympathetic of the girl who had been offended and completely overwhelmed by memories from my past.  The scene was all too familiar and it carried me back to my childhood, to a time when I was sitting where this child sat, a time that forever changed my view of who God made me to be.

I was there – completely broken, tears streaming down my face and spirit crushed because of someone’s careless words.  I still remember the hurt I felt as I heard that awful name spewing from the mouth of a teenage boy in front of the whole world, or so it seemed.  We were on the school bus but it might as well have been the whole world.  I was 9 years old.  I was different because of a physical disorder and all I wanted was to fit in, to be accepted, to be normal.   That day, this teenager’s laughter and mocking dashed any hopes I had of that happening.

I couldn’t contain my tears.  I couldn’t wait to get off of that bus.   I wanted to be at home.  I wanted my mom.  And my mom is just who I needed because the advice she gave me that day impacted my life in ways I could never have imagined.  I don’t remember everything my mom said that afternoon but I will never forget what she told me to do the next day on the school bus.  She told me to fight back, to retaliate the next time this teenager called me a name.  I was a tiny little thing and this boy was probably four times my size but my mom said to stand my ground.  It empowered me.

I know what you are thinking.  “Your mom actually told you to call that kid a name?”  Yes, she did and she even gave me the name to call him!  And being the good little girl that I was, I did exactly what my mom told me to do.  The very next afternoon, after I struggled up the bus steps and began walking down the aisle to my seat, I heard it.  The words “Duck Walk” pierced through the commotion of kids playing and talking and hit me square in the back of the head.  I turned, glared straight into the boy’s face and returned insult for insult.  “Dog Face!” I blurted.  He did not strike back.  Instead, he smiled, sat down and never called me “Duck Walk” again.

At age 9, I didn’t quite grasp the value of the lesson I learned that day or fully understand all that my mom was trying to teach me but today, I have come to cherish the priceless wisdom I gained from that experience.  My mom was reminding me of who I was that afternoon when she told me to fight back.  She was showing me that God does not make mistakes despite the opinions of the world and that I cannot let anyone tell me differently.  I cannot let anyone steal my joy, my happiness or my hopes.  That’s quite a lesson learned from simply calling a bully a “Dog Face”!

And so, I passed this lesson on to the girl who had been insulted, the girl who is picked on every day at school because she does not look like everyone else.  No, I did not tell her to call her bullies some silly name – I left that to her mom!  But I did tell her to stand her ground, to take pride in who God made her to be, to defy Satan in his attempts to steal her joy, and to hold her head up high.  God has a purpose for this precious girl and she’s going to be just fine.  She may not understand it now but one day she’ll be standing in my place passing on this pearl of wisdom to another little girl or little boy who needs to know that God’s Love is so much greater than any insult hurled by this world and that God does not make mistakes.

He Knew


“He set His face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51)

He knew His humanity was temporary.
He knew His Father’s plan.
He knew His perfect life would be tarnished by the imperfections of a world He had embraced.
Jesus knew His purpose, still He chose the path He knew would lead to death.

He was God.
He was man.
Heavenly purpose mingled with earthly fears.
He knew no sin, yet He knew love.
He knew sorrow.
He knew joy.
He knew pain.

“Let this cup pass from me, but not my will but Thine be done.” (Matthew 26:39)

Our Lord knew His journey on this earth would lead to humiliation, anguish, abandonment and death. Still He chose to die. With deliberate intention, He walked the path to the cross pausing only to accomplish the work of His Father in the lives of those He touched along the way.

His steps were not hurried.
His load was not carefree.
He knew His Father’s plan.
He set His face to go to Jerusalem.
He set His face to go to the cross.


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