A Year of Smiles – Day 222

Reason to SMILE #222: SHARING A SMILE WITH ME (Yes, me!)


Wow! I’ve made it to Day 222! That’s a whole lotta SMILES. Only 143 to go! I’m having so much fun sharing with you everyday but…

Lately, I’ve been thinking how unfair this relationship between you and me really is. And it’s time I got this off my chest. Day in and day out, I give and I give. I offer you the best SMILES I can and what do you give in return? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. 

<Insert awkward silence here.>

Hahaha! I’m only kidding!! I love sharing my SMILES with you. Bu-ut… 

I really would love to hear from you once in a while. Let me know what makes you SMILE. What turns the corners of your mouth toward the sky? What makes you happy? What delights your soul?

I know there’s a list forming in your mind right now so c’mon! Make me SMILE today. I want to hear from you. Remember, your SMILE can make a huge difference in the life of another. Don’t hold back. Let the whole world see!

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 174

Reason to SMILE #174: WEDDINGS

 

Blissful and elegant,

A charming delight,

Eagerly enters

The beauty in white.

 

Dapper and dashing,

A fear-stricken mess,

Anxiously awaits

The groom at his best.

 

Shiny and lighthearted,

A roomful of grins,

Respectfully dotes

Their fam’ly and friends.

 

The scene is a wonder

Where time has no end.

When two become one,

A new life begins.

 

But is it the picture

We place on the wall?

Is it as perfect

As our minds recall?

 

Last time I checked,

A wedding takes work.

One day of magic

Leaves dad in the lurch.

 

And on the blessed day

Not one thing is right –

Not flowers, not cake,

Not dresses, not lights.

 

The Moms are both frantic;

Dads sink in defeat.

The flower girl’s mad

And stomping her feet.

 

The bridesmaids are fighting;

The groomsmen don’t care.

The bride’s feet are cold;

The groom is… nowhere!

 

So many emotions

In such a short time.

So many mishaps

To thwart groom and bride.

 

So what’s the big hubbub?

Why all of the fuss?

Is it all worth it

To turn me to us?

 

Despite all the chaos,

There’s one thing that’s true:

It’s worth any price

To hear said, “I do.”

 

“I do take my lover

To be by my side

I promise to stay

Our love will abide.

 

“I will fight to uphold

This most sacred vow

And when times are rough

We’ll make it… somehow.”

 

And when your days married

Have turned into years,

You’ll look back and smile

(Perhaps shed some tears)

 

On all of the folly

Of your special day

And thank God for blessing

Your life anyway!



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A Year of Smiles – Day 124

Reason to SMILE #124: THE BIG PICTURE


“I’m not going to speak at that church unless he says that it’s preaching!”

These are the words I heard a female seminary student say after being asked to speak at another student’s church.

“She can come speak but I’m not going to call it preaching.”

And these are the words of the male seminary student who gave the invitation to speak to the female student.

The female student felt a call from God on her life to preach. The male student firmly believed women were forbidden by God to preach. They were at odds with each other and neither would back down from their positions….

I just wanted to smack them both.  I couldn’t understand the problem.  I wanted to sit them both down and tell them to get over themselves.  Obviously, the guy valued the communication skills of his friend and trusted that she would bring a prayerfully guided and biblically sound message to his church.  (That sure sounds like preaching to me.)  On the other hand, if the young lady truly believed God wanted to speak through her, why turn down an opportunity to share His message just because it wasn’t called “preaching”?

It’s easy to get caught up in the things that really don’t matter.  We often think we’re standing on our principles and defending what is right. We plant our feet firmly and close our ears to any opposing opinions.  We are right and that’s all we need (or want) to know.  If only we’d take just a few steps back from the situation, we might see that in the grand scheme of things, our “important matter” is pretty insignificant.

Focusing on the big picture is challenging.  The devil likes to preoccupy our time with the little things and when we take his bait, we end up missing great opportunities for growth, for progress, for peace and for SMILES.  There’s little time for joy when you’re constantly fighting battles.

The next time you find yourself preparing for battle – worrying with an issue at work, proving a point to your opposition, ensuring that you get your way – ask yourself if it’s worth it.  Is it worth your peace of mind?  Is it going to help or hurt in the long run?  Is it worth the time that could be spent on something of greater importance?  If not, move on, fix your gaze on the big picture and SMILE.

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A Year of Smiles – Day 97

Reason to SMILE #97: LETTING GO

The final “Amen” had been pronounced and the sanctuary was clearing. I sat down to collect my things when I heard a worried yet determined voice say, “Mom, I want you to ground me for nineteen days.” I looked up to answer this curious request as my little boy continued, “I’ve been holding on to something for two years.” As my mind compiled a list of all the things my child could possibly have done to cause such distress, I remembered the Pastor’s sermon illustration of the little boy with his hand caught in a vase because he would not let go of the penny he found inside. Though I did not know what was to follow this introduction to a confession, I did know that God had spoken to my son and my son had listened.

IMG_7729Further explanation revealed a deed which would not have troubled many, I think. My son told a lie to a classmate. He was even punished for the content of the lie; still, he had not admitted that he lied. He held the sin in his heart for two years, and although he had prayed for God’s forgiveness, the conscience of this seven year old would not be eased until mom assured him all was well.

Looking into the face of my little boy, I longed to cheer the apparent sadness that he was feeling as he realized his wrong. I longed to ease the familiar pain that guilt so mercilessly inflicts and I wondered how much greater the longing of our Heavenly Father must be to wipe away the guilt and shame of our transgressions and fill us with peace and joy.  While we cling to our destructive habits and self-serving choices in our search for happiness and contentment, our loving Father patiently waits to bless his children with abundant life and freedom – blessings which are so readily available to the one who is willing to loosen his grip on the world and simply let go.

Taking my hand, my little boy sighed in relief, “I’m glad I let that go!” And as we walked out of the sanctuary, another confession emerged. “Mom, do you know why I wanted to be grounded for just nineteen days?”

“No,” I replied.

“That’s when I get out of school, and I don’t want to be grounded during the summer.”

Hmmm.  I think I’ll let that go and save the lesson on “Facing the Consequences” for another day.

Do you need to let go of something today?  What are you waiting for?  The sooner you do, the sooner you feel that peaceful SMILE again.
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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 8

Reason to SMILE #8 – BABIES

baby-emoticon

Little fingers, little toes,

Little shoes, little clothes,

Infectious laughs, big, bright eyes,

First attempts at saying “Bye-Bye”,

 

Faces smeared with oatmeal goo,

Noses wrinkled at new food,

Kicking feet and waving arms

To the beat of a Mickey Mouse song.

 

Babies!  There’s no greater cure

For your troubles – that’s for sure.

Just a glimpse is all you need

For instant SMILES – guaranteed.

 

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A Year for Smiles – Day 2

Reason to SMILE #2: Banana Popsicles!

The year I turned 12, I had to have my appendix removed.  For those of you who’ve never experienced appendicitis, you must know that it is not enjoyable.  I was miserable!  Stomach pain and nausea kept me trekking to the bathroom so many times that I finally decided to stay there.  The last thing I remember before finding myself in the hospital was lying on the bathroom floor crying and wishing the pain would end.

I don’t recall much else of what happened before surgery.  What I do remember, though, is the hospital starving me after surgery.  At least that’s what my 12-year-old mind believed.  By day two, I wanted real food but the doctors only allowed broth and jello.  A kid can only stand so much broth!  But there was one thing that made my recovery much more bearable – Banana Popsicles.  I’m not sure if the hospital ran out of every other flavor, but the popsicles that were served to me were all banana flavored.  And I just so happened to like banana flavored popsicles.  Yummy!!

I have to admit that by the time I left the hospital, I had eaten so many banana popsicles I was actually tired of them.  And to this day, no one in my family can be admitted to the hospital for any reason without my mother or myself jokingly inquiring of the flavor of the hospital’s popsicle supply.  Even last night, after I received a text about my nephew in Wisconsin being moments away from an appendectomy, the first thing that came to mind and my encouraging words to him were, “It’s going to be alright!  And when it’s over, you’ll get to eat lots of Banana Popsicles!”

So today, on Day 2 of my Smiles in 2017, I smile about Banana Popsicles.  As a 12 year old recovering from surgery, these popsicles were my comfort.  They made me smile and the memory still makes me smile today.

What about you?  Are you going through something unexpected?  Are you facing a situation that has knocked you off your feet or derailed your plans?  My advice?  Grab a banana popsicle – or piece of chocolate or cup of coffee or handful of almonds (gotta throw something healthy in there!).  The littlest of things can often bring the greatest comfort.  No, your problems won’t disappear but I guarantee while you’re enjoying that popsicle, you’ll find 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!