A Year of Smiles – Day 295

Reason to SMILE #295: WHEN GOD SHOWS UP FOR COFFEE

coffee mug

And God said, “Hmm. That mug needs a little something extra.”

How beautiful is that! The sun peered through my kitchen window and hit my coffee mug in the perfect spot. For someone who doesn’t enjoy mornings, I was able to find my SMILE much faster when this caught my eye. And this definitely made my morning a bit – well – brighter!

I’ve said it many times before and I’m sure I’ll say it many times to come. The smallest things can make the biggest difference. And God must agree. Why else would He have sent this sparkling SMILE my way?

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A Year of Smiles – Day 288

Reason to SMILE #288: CAMPFIRES 


There’s nothing like sitting around a campfire watching the flames dance and the embers glow to calm the nerves and ease a troubled mind. Tonight’s crisp air begged for the warmth of a fire. My husband obliged and I’m glad he did.

I needed to hear the cheerful crackle of the flames. I needed to gaze into the fire’s soothing glow. I needed to feel my burdens float away with the ashes as they drifted through the air and disappeared into the night.

Sigh. 

What a relaxing SMILE!

There is one thing that could’ve made it better, though…

Marshmallows! If I’d only had marshmallows! 😉

A Year of Smiles – Day 262

Reason to SMILE #262: TODAY

Adobe Spark

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!

A Year of Smiles – Day 252 and 253

I’ve fallen behind again on my SMILES so here’s another double feature.

Adobe Spark (10)REASON TO SMILE #252: LUNCH IN THE PARK

My weekday lunchtime is often non-existent. Typically, I run through a drive thru close to my office and eat my lunch at my desk. Sometimes, however, I need a break from the computer screen and the noise of the office. On days like this, I eat my lunch at the park. Unfortunately, I don’t always get the chance to find a quiet place of escape but when I do, no matter how short the break, I always find a SMILE. It’s nice to have a quiet place to reflect or decompress when the stresses of work or co-workers are stealing your SMILE. It’s even better when some of that peaceful time is spent talking with a friend which brings me to…

REASON TO SMILE #253: PHONE CALLS

I’m really not much of a conversationalist. I listen well but don’t always know the right things to say. So phone calls for me are usually one-side or extremely short. But let the phone conversation be with my sister or a trusted friend and that’s a different story altogether. When I don’t feel like I need to impress, like I can express my true feelings and say anything that comes to mind without being judged, those are the phone calls I love. Phone calls filled with laughter, silliness, transparency, reminiscing, and maybe a few tears from time to time, always leave me with a SMILE.

A Year of Smiles – Day 216

Reason to SMILE #216: SECURITY

“Ma’am, how am I supposed to know that you weren’t actually trying to brake in to this house?” asked the police officer.

At least, that’s what I imagined he would ask after he arrived at my parents’ house finding me on the front porch while the security alarm wailed. You see, I had only gone to pick up my child who was probably two or three at the time. I knew my parents had taken him out for a while and they hadn’t made it back home. I also knew I would get to their house before they did and I would have to wait on them. I should have waited in the car. Instead, I decided to sit on their front porch.

As I made my way onto the porch, I noticed my parents’ cat looking out of a large picture window. So, I did what any normal person would do. I walked up to the window, bent down to get a closer look, said, “Hello, Cali,” and gently tapped the window at the vicinity of the cat’s face.

Do you know those signs at the pet store that say, “Do not tap glass”? That also applies to any window anywhere through which animals are staring at you from the other side. Just don’t do it. Ever.

As soon as I tapped the glass – and I mean, I barely touched it – the alarm began to blast. I froze. What was I going to do? My parents weren’t home, yet, and I couldn’t get into the house to turn the alarm off. All I could do was sit there listening to the alarm and imagining what I was going to tell the police when they pulled up in the yard.

Fortunately, my parents returned home shortly thereafter and the police were never dispatched. As my parents were unlocking the house, I began explaining how I set off the alarm. “I didn’t know what I was going to do if the police arrived. I didn’t know how I was going to prove my relationship to you and that I belonged here.”

“Karen,” my mom replied as she opened the front door and pointed in the house to the wall directly in front of us, “Your picture is right there as you walk in the door. That’s all the proof they’d need.”

You know, one day we are all going to stand before an even greater authority than our fine men and women in blue. We are all going to stand before our Creator and the question of our belonging in His eternal home is going to be posed. What are you going to do? Are you going to rattle off examples of your good deeds, your acts of charity, your adherence to the Ten Commandments? Are you certain that you will even have a place in Heaven one day?

The Bible tells us that the only way to an eternal home with our Heavenly Father is by faith in His Son Jesus Christ. (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9John 14:6) The Bible also tells us that once we make the decision to become a follower of Jesus by admitting we are sinners and in need of salvation from an eternal death, believing Jesus is the only Son of God and He paid the price for our sins through death on a cross and resurrection from the grave, and confessing our sins and committing our lives to Him, then we can know for sure that we have an eternal home in heaven that no one can question or take away. (John 10:28-29; Romans 8:35-39) And on the day you stand before the throne of God and your belonging is questioned, you won’t have to wonder what you will say. Your Savior will step forward, point to your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and say, “Yes. she’s mine. See right there. That’s her name!”

I know my eternity is secure. What a SMILE that brings to my soul! What about you? Are you sure of your eternal home?

A Year of Smiles – Day 171

Reason to SMILE #171: SIGNS

“It’s a sign,” I heard him say.  He had made the decision to work away from home.  His current job was making him miserable.  He needed a change but this change included more than beginning a new job.  It also included a new city and a new home away from his family – at least during the work week.

He set out to prepare for his move.  He sold a few of his large possessions to build up some funds.  He found his buyers fairly easy and he received the prices for which he asked.  “It’s a sign,” he said that his decision was the right one.

Moving day arrived.  Finding a place to stay was not as simple as finding buyers for his possessions but an apartment finally became available.  He approached the front door of his new abode and noticed the welcome mat.  “Believe in your dreams,” it read.

“That has to be a sign,” he concluded.

Have you ever looked for signs to help you make a decision in life?  Have you ever asked God to show you a sign when life’s decisions seemed too difficult?  I certainly have.  At times, when I’ve been at my most desperate, I’ve even asked God to simply tell me the choice I should make.  “Spell it out for me, God.  Write it on the wall or in the sky.  A Post-it® note will even do.”

I’m still waiting on those Post-it notes.

I do believe that God gives us signs in life – signs of His presence, signs of His love, signs of His promises, even signs that lead us along life’s journey – but I’ve learned that His signs aren’t always the flashing neon billboards that we desire.  He’s usually a bit more subtle.  You see, God is all about developing our character, growing our faith and building a relationship with us.  He’d much rather we seek His direction and will for our lives through the study of His Word, through prayer, through our fellowship with Him and through the wisdom of mature Christians He places in our lives.

God wants to guides us along life’s journey but He won’t force us to follow Him.  We have the power to choose. Unfortunately, we treat this gift of choice as if it were a second-hand trinket found at a yard sale. Instead of relying on the truth of God’s Word or the answers found in our daily communion with God, we base our decisions and choices on our desires and feelings.  Then wanting confirmation of our decisions, we pray for a sign, anything that will substantiate our choices.  We discard our faith in God and we find ourselves making major life decisions based on a message we read on a doormat.

Are you looking for a sign today?  Try spending time with your Heavenly Father.  Open up and read His Word.  Talk to Him and wait for His answer.  He will guide you if you choose to follow.

So, use that doormat for what it was meant and remember this: There’s no greater sign that you’re following God’s lead than the peace He puts in your heart.  And a peaceful heart shows all over your face! 🙂

 

A Year of Smiles – Day 160

Reason to SMILE #160: LIGHTNING BUGS

It wasn’t until I saw them that I realized how much they make me SMILE.  They remind me of my childhood, of living out in the country, of camp meetings in the summer, of simpler times. So tonight, I sit in the wondrous beauty of God’s creation serenaded by the crickets and cicadas while watching the lightning bugs shine in the night…

…and I am SMILING. Oh, what peace!

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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