Susan Jane King

Thriving with Jesus in life's ongoing challenges

Sharing the Gift of a Smile

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My grandson Landon and his infectious smile (Photo proof courtesy of Karen Goforth, Irresistible Portraits)

I took my 3-month-old grandson Landon to have his picture taken at Irresistible Portraits in Kannapolis, NC, yesterday. I watched as he smiled, cooed, laughed, and grinned at everyone he met. Before long, I noticed everyone else was smiling too. Landon spreads joy wherever he goes. He is such a happy baby. He gives others the gift of his smile.

A smile blesses others.

I take care of Landon on Mondays and Tuesdays while his parents work. After just two weeks, I have noticed how much lighter and happier I feel on those days. I laugh and smile more on those days than the other days of the week combined. Landon’s smiles have that effect. They’re big, joyous, and full of delight.

When we smile at others, they get the message that we notice and care about them. A smile can communicate love, acceptance, encouragement, and support—without any words. A smile tells someone else, “You matter.”

Scientists have also discovered that if someone receives a smile from somebody else, then they are more likely to start smiling themselves; all those smiles produce chemical changes in the brain that make us feel better. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile)

Of course, the Lord who made us knows all of this: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones” (Prov. 17:22, NASB).

A smile serves as a gift that can brighten someone else’s day. We can bless many lives if we choose to smile at others as we go about our day.

A smile blesses us.

Even making ourselves smile when we don’t feel like it releases endorphins (happy hormones) when our brains recognize the facial muscle patterns common to a smile. (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/7-benefits-smiling-and-laughing.html) In other words, deliberately choosing to smile can help us to feel happy when we’re upset. We can choose to move ourselves away from sorrow and toward happiness.

Having trouble faking a smile? “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face” (Prov. 15:13, NASB). If we would make our minds think about good things, then a smile is sure to follow. Philippians 4:8, NASB, tells us, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Choosing to be thankful generates smiles, too. Those kinds of thoughts will have us smiling in no time.

The smiles come from God.

I remember entering church many years ago with a heavy heart. I had allowed the world to get to me, and I was feeling discouraged and disheartened. When I entered the church doors, my pastor was standing there, and he smiled at me. In that moment, I sensed it wasn’t my pastor but Jesus who was smiling at me. The warmth of the Lord’s love filled my heart through that simple smile. I was both startled and comforted at the same time.

The smiles we give and the smiles we receive from others are sent by God to brighten the world in His name. He often uses smiles to lift His countenance upon us and shine His face upon us (Numbers 6:25-26).

We are told when we look to the Lord, our faces will be radiant (Psalm 34:5). He puts a smile on our face because He is our God (Psalm42:11). When we look at the Lord, we can’t help but smile . . . because He is smiling at us.

Question: What are some of your suggestions for sharing smiles with others? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Launching Our Arrows

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“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:4-5, NASB). Arrows are meant to be launched, shot into the bright open sky, aimed at a specific target. Like those arrows, our children stay in our quiver for a while, but the day eventually comes when they must shoot out into the world and make their mark, hitting a target and achieving a special purpose known only to God.

Many of my friends recently sent their children off to college for the first time. The social media were full of photos, advice, and reminiscing during this common rite of passage. Still other friends watched their young ones launch out to start a job or move to a new location. In the past few weeks, our family has been experiencing these sorts of transitions, as my son Patrick moved into the dorm to start his senior year in college and my daughter Emily moved away to begin graduate school.

I thought about those verses from Psalm 127 as my arrows launched. I watched them arc into the big blue sky, thrilled about the future God had for them, but still longing to hold onto them just a little while longer. Oh, the joys and struggles of being a parent!

As I thought about that Bible verse, I did a little research about arrows, and it was amazing to discover the picture God painted when He referred to our children as arrows.

Arrows have different appearances.

Feathers serve as the distinctive feature on most arrows. The feathers, or vanes, look different in size, color, and texture. In the same way, our children are distinctively different not only in their physical appearances, but also in their temperaments, abilities, and gifts. Each one of them is “fearfully and wonderfully made” by the divine Creator (Psalm 139:14, NASB), uniquely crafted by His hand (Eph. 2:10). Their unique construction is part of His plan.

Arrows have different flight patterns.

An arrow maker, or fletcher, carefully chooses the wood and feathers for his creation. At least 15 different types of wood were used in the earliest arrows. Lighter woods are used in long-range arrows, and heavier wood is utilized in short to mid-range arrows. In the same way, smaller feathers (vanes) are used for long-distance arrows, and larger ones are used for shorter distances. The Lord predetermines our flight pattern in life, where and when we will live and what we will do (Acts 17:26).

The feathers provide stability to the arrows, making them more aerodynamic, so they can fly straight to their intended target. Likewise, our children have different strengths that move them toward their destination.

Arrows have different purposes.

The head of each arrow accentuates that arrow’s purpose. Some arrowheads are constructed to pierce armor, while others are meant for hunting and providing food for the table. In the same way, the Lord forms each of our children to have a specific impact on the world. His plans and purposes for them are good, acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

I delight in seeing the Lord’s handiwork in my children. I’m grateful to have had such diverse arrows in my quiver. Yet, the Lord is the Archer, and He chooses when and where to launch my children, swift and sure to their intended target. As He continues to propel them forward, I can smile and agree with Psalm 127: Yes, I am blessed!

Question: How have you seen the Lord’s handiwork in your children or others around you? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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