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 162

Reason to SMILE #162: CHANGE

I do not like this thing called change.

I do not like to feel so strange.

I do not like to try new things.

I do not like the fear it brings.

 

I would not like it even if

You sent it to me with a kiss.

I would not like it with a SMILE;

You can’t make me with your guile!

 

“Oh,” you say, “Change may be good

You should embrace it if you could.

Change may be just what you need.

You will like it. Try it and see.”

 

Yes, I know it may be time

To mute this stubbornness of mine.

Change may be just what I need

To find the SMILES that bring me peace.

 

Change – it’s a fact of life no matter how hard we try to ignore and resist it. Change can seem like the devil in disguise but if we give it a try, change can be the catalyst that pushes us toward the great and wondrous works that God has waiting for us.

Change – it may be hard but the SMILES you’ll find on the other side of it are worth every chance you dare to take.

P.S. I seemed to be channeling Dr. Seuss today but he always makes me SMILE. Hope you find a SMILE, too!

A Year of Smiles – Day 38

Reason to SMILE #38: YOU ARE ALIVE

this-heart-is-for-you

You are not a joke.

You are not a reject.

Your life is not a waste.

You are not an accident. 

 

For you were wonderfully made

by the God of all Creation. 

 

You have a purpose that is filled with hope.

You are precious in the Father’s eyes.

You are loved and wholly accepted.

You bring God joy for you are ALIVE

 

You are alive and you can SMILE today!

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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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A Year of Smiles – Day 11

Reason to SMILE #11: MORNINGS

sleepy-emoticon-yawning

Have you ever met a morning person?  No matter how early, a morning person is always cheerful and ready to meet the day with vim and vigor.  This person sings, “Hello” to everyone he or she encounters and bounces across the room like a child running off to play.  It truly is disgusting. 😉

As you may have guessed, I am NOT a morning person.  It takes me quite a while each day to get moving and when I do, I really do not mind if no one says, “Good morning” to me or even speaks to me at all.  The only things I desire in the morning are coffee and silence.

Regardless of my aversion to mornings, I am grateful for each one.  Mornings are a gift.  They offer each of us a fresh start, a new beginning.  Yesterday is, well, yesterday.  The mistakes we made, the hardships we faced, the messes we created, these are all in the past.  In fact, each day is like our own personal “do-over” granted to us by God Himself!  With each ray of sunlight that peeks over the horizon, God is saying, “Here you go.  Let’s try this again!” Now that ought to make us SMILE!

Oh, sure, the troubles from yesterday may still continue.  Hey, we made the mess; we have to clean it up.  But each new day gives us the opportunity to make better choices, to rid ourselves of bad habits, to repair broken relationships, to do whatever was left undone yesterday.  I may not be a morning person but I thank God for the mercies He gives to me with each new day.  And as I drink my coffee in silence this morning, I cannot help but SMILE at the endless possibilities this day has to offer.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV)  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Psalm 30:5 (NKJV)  For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 65:8 (NIV) The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.

 

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A Year of Smiles – Day 3

Reason to SMILE # 3 – COMMUNITY

Last night, powerful storms ripped through southwest Georgia.  Torrential rains gave the earth a good beating as high winds whipped through the treetops. Tornado watches turned into warnings and instructions for taking shelter blared from every phone in the house.  Facebook posts from friends and neighbors morphed from “It’s looking bad out there,” to “Power’s out”, “Tree’s on my front porch” and “I’m not usually scared during storms but this one…”.  It was an intense couple of hours.

The storm moved quickly and as the winds waned and the rains slowed, surveying the damage revealed that a tornado had indeed touched down.  Homes have been destroyed. Centuries-old oak trees have been uprooted. Cars have been demolished. Power has been knocked out.  The devastation is overwhelming.

As videos and pictures of the damage have begun to fill Facebook, there is one theme that prevails among all the comments – community.  People are asking, “Is there anything I can do to help?”.  Folks are picking up chainsaws and helping their neighbors dig out cars, remove trees from driveways and clear roads.  Strangers are checking on family members of Facebook friends that live elsewhere and cannot reach the ones they love. Community.

In times like these, we don’t think about smiling or happiness or joy.  But times like these give all of us the opportunity to provide a smile to those who need it most.  If you are in the area affected by last night’s storms, now is your chance to spread a little joy to those in need. If you can, get out there and help those whose lives have been wrecked. Show up with your chainsaw, or rake, or trash bags, or hammer and nails.  But whatever you take with you, don’t forget to show up with your SMILE.  Maybe, just maybe, you can help your neighbor find a smile of their own.

2017 – A Year for Smiles

Have you ever seen the Christmas movie about the extremely cheerful and hyperactive elf? It’s awesome and I love it! One of my favorite scenes is when a store manager asks the elf why he is smiling and the elf replies, “I just like to smile.  Smiling’s my favorite.”

Who doesn’t like to smile? Even more, who doesn’t like to see people smile? I love smiles. I love making people smile. Knowing that an encouraging word or kind gesture that I’ve shared brings a smile to someone’s face is a wonderful feeling.

It’s not always easy to find a smile, though. Troubles and sorrows overwhelm this world and reasons to smile are difficult to find. So, I’ve decided to find a reason to smile everyday this year and share those reasons with you. Maybe my reasons to Smile can help you find your Smile!

Day 1- New beginnings. Brushing off the old and starting over. Letting go of bad habits. Picking up the good ones. Knowing that the past is the past, living a better present and hoping for a brighter future. There is always Hope and that is most certainly a reason to SMILE! 😄

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!

Is This the Truth?

Fires burn across the land,

The smoke fills the skies.

Angry men shout out and scream;

Some break down and cry.

Children watch as people die;

They see the hate, the pain.

Their little eyes can’t believe

The suffering and the shame.

 

Is this the world we want to show our children?

Is this the place we want them to call home?

We tell them that we love them but don’t show them the same.

Is this the truth we want them to know?

 

I wrote these lyrics more than 20 years ago.  I was almost 18 years old and had just watched news coverage of the Los Angeles Riots of 1992.  I was horrified as pictures of violence, hate, fear and desperation flashed before my eyes.  I was overwhelmed with uncertainty and fear even though I lived on the opposite side of the country.  I did not understand it all and I knew there were children and other young people trying to make sense of the chaos, as well.

I wondered what these children were learning from the situation.  What lessons about life were they gleaning?  Were they giving up all hope at that moment?  Was their innocence slipping away as disturbing images of humanity at its worst invaded their ideals of safety and security?  Were they resigning to believe that this was how life was supposed to be?  Were these children accepting the hate, violence and pride as their truth?

Now, twenty-two years later, we find ourselves seeing familiar images flash on our TV screens.  And I cannot help but wonder.  Where are those children who watched similar scenes so many years ago?  They are the adults of our world now.  Are they watching in horror as they did as a child?  Are they worried about their own children and the effect this situation will have on their young lives?  Are they outraged?  Are they scared?  Are they worried?  Or are they hitting the power button, shrugging their shoulders and walking away?  After all, that’s life.  That’s the truth of our existence and there’s nothing anyone can do about it….

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV)

There is hope, dear friends.  We can redefine the truth that our world accepts today.  It starts with Love.  It starts with you and me.

Desolate Sanctuary

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 she would 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 has been walking through life as if in a fog that would never lift. She has been searching for answers, for an escape from the shadows that smothered her hopes and dreams. She has been longing for an end to her desolation but has not 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.

Are you living in darkness as if you are walking in a fog? 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 this 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! Pray!