Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Trigger number 2 in Valorie Burton's book is a smile. Now we're not talking the little "lift the corners of your mouth" grin. We are talking about the full out "open your mouth, show your teeth, and maybe even laugh" type smile.

I always thought of a smile as a symbol to the world that I WAS happy; I had somehow forgotten that my smile could also BRING happiness to someone else and cause it to be reflected back on me, thus helping actually make ME happy.

Now, I have to be honest here. I am normally a fairly happy person, but I must admit that there are days when I allow the dreariness of life, the negativity of others, and the circumstances of my daily experience to rule my mood. There are days at school when I am trying too hard to be the firm taskmaster, keeping my students under control, and ruling the classroom. It is hard for me to do that while smiling.

Sometimes a small group of students will act out and do something that is totally immature and I will feel that "look" coming to my face. You know the one I am talking about.... the one where the brow crinkles, the mouth is pinched, and sometimes the head is even tilted down so I can peer at the guilty culprit over the top rim of my glasses.

Then there are those days when I have a really great activity planned and the students really get into it: learning, enjoying it, and (unbelievable to some) being happy! At those times I have noticed that I smile- one of those great big smiles that even has a laugh with it. When that happens I am definitely happier!

Proverbs 17:22 says:

 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. 

Dried up bones? The imagery packed within that phrase is mighty! I certainly don't want to have dried up bones! I would much rather have a joyful heart, displayed within the smile on my face.  

On most days I can muster a little grin at least, a "Good morning," when I meet a student in the hall, and sometimes even a full out smile when one of those same students utters something they did not intend to be funny. 

But..... what about those times when we find it difficult to smile, difficult to be joyful and happy? Valorie suggests that we do the following: take a breath, smile, and then...... pray. Pray to God that he will help us remember that there is joy in life, that even from our stress and affliction we can grow and experience even more of God's love. Pray to God thanking him for blessings that he has given us. It really can work!

I am reminded of the evenings when I leave school after a particularly difficult day- I may feel beaten and bruised, I may not have been able to reach the students, I may even have received word of yet another meeting or duty that I needed to fulfill. Just when I feel at my worst- God can send me the comfort and strength that I need.

You see, I keep my car radio tuned to KLove. It never fails that on one of those "tough days", when I am at my very lowest, the perfect song will come on the radio and God will send me a reminder of his strength and love. When that music fills the air and God's love warms my heart, a smile will burst out on my face and I utter a, "Thank you Lord!" or even an "Amen."

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