Operation Dignity

Operation Dignity I’m excited to announce a service effort that we (meaning me plus a whole host of amazing women here in Georgia) are undertaking. From the day that I started Smiling by Faith, I knew that I wanted to use it to help people, particularly women who may not find it all that easy to smile in the midst of their circumstances. Just over a year later, I am coordinating my first blog-affiliated project. With the help of a huge and diverse group of women (mothers, daughters, wives, singles, students, educators, professionals, business owners, retirees, etc), Smiling by Faith will be coordinating the collection and distribution of personal products to women in shelters around Georgia. So far, we have confirmed shelters in three major cities in the state and we are waiting to hear back from several more. We will officially launch our drive on March 1st and will continue throughout the month of April. We will package and deliver products through May 1st. We hope to make a huge impact on the lives of women who are currently homeless, displaced, or transitioning through our donations of pads, tampons, panty liners, panties, and bras. Please stay tuned for how you can help us help others!

I Remember You…

Hello, beautiful people! I ran across a jewel yesterday that I wanted to share. I’m not sure how it never stuck out to me before. In Philippians 1:3, Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi and told them “I thank my God every time I remember you.” As I read it my heart melted! How sweet is that? Certainly, he had a fondness and love for the Philippians to feel such joy and gratitude at their memory.

This led me to think about people who have made lasting impacts on my life that cause me to praise God for the mere thought of them. Then, I wondered if anyone felt the same of me. I charge myself to be more deliberate in my interactions with everyone that I interact with…I want to sow seeds of praise and gratitude simply through being who God has called me to be and living laced with love, service, and compassion for everyone.

What will you do to be sure that thoughts of you will be joyous for the people in your life?

Keep Smiling,

SBF 🙂

No Rest for the Weary

There is so much destruction in the world. It makes perfect sense that whenever I catch up on worldly news, it’s saturated with negative images. I know that mainstream media isn’t always pleasant, but it can be downright depressing.

As I caught up today, I read about an 8-year old boy being shot down at no fault (obviously…he was 8) of his own. Through the frustration, my spirit stirred and that voice inside said to me, “You won’t always SEE the good, but you can always BE the good.” That’s when it hit me…isn’t that what it means to smile by faith? To not give in to discouragement. To trust God even when things don’t look so cheery.

That ministered to me in a major way. It was a timely reminder that I can always do my part. It only takes one person to facilitate change. One person called, equipped, willing, and committed. So, hear I am…doing what I was called to do. Posting this blog. Hoping to encourage someone. Preparing for my next group of students. Making a short list of things that I’m going to do to make a positive difference in someone’s life TODAY…TOMORROW…AND EVERY DAY AFTER THAT.

Won’t you join me in this effort?

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. – Galatians 6:9 (KJV)

Keep Smiling,

🙂 SBF

Is God Bored?

I started this blog in 2013 because I was losing my mind. I called it therapy…and it was. I thought it was necessary for my healing. I really, really thought that.

Today, looking back, I realize the only thing truly necessary for healing was to decide that I was fine. I had to look forward. Reshape my mindset. Position myself for the life that I wanted. So I did.

I promised myself that in 2014, I would live a more positive life. I would trust God and His promises. That sustained me. (Y’all do know His grace is still sufficient in 2015, right?) In fact, my 2014 positivity resolution is the only one that I’ve ever kept.

In 2015, I am challenging myself more. I know that God wants me to continue to trust Him. I will. Likewise, I will continue to marvel at His power and the favor that He shows me. However, this year I resolve to continuously tap into the power that He has given me.

There is more to this relationship thing than love. There is work. There is give and take. There is sacrifice. There is overflow. It is a two-way street.

For so long, I’ve been conditioned to believe that God doesn’t need me. I’ve been taught that He’s just fine without me. I challenge that today. If He didn’t need me, why would He have created me? Does God have that much time to waste? Either He is bored or I am purposed…purposed AND powerful actually. My vote is for the latter. Jeremiah 29:11 backs me up on this.

I’m pretty geeked about that.

Happy New Year to those of you still hanging in there with me…or to those who’ve just found me!

🙂 Keep Smiling,

SBF

The Alabaster Box…

Smiling By Faith

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, there came unto Him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on His head, as He sat at meat. (Matthew 26:6-7, KJV)

Jesus is everywhere. I try to make a conscious effort of recognizing His presence and ushering myself closer to Him through worship. I believe this is why one of my favorite worship songs began to speak to me in a different way lately. In CeCe Winans’s song, The Alabaster Box, she sings the following lyrics:

And though she spoke no words

Everything she said was heard

As she poured her love for the Master

From her box of alabaster.

Those words stirred something in my spirit that led me to look a little deeper into the story of Mary’s alabaster box. I had questions about its meaning…its significance…its…

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Knock, Knock…Who’s There?

I’ve said before that I believe people give the devil too much credit. We act as if he is all-knowing. He isn’t. We act as if he is all-powerful. Not true. We act as if he can be everywhere doing everything to everyone. Nope. What he can do is infest our minds and try to create barriers between us and God. He can distract us from our tasks and make us question our purpose. He can distort our perception of the truth and plant seeds of doubt that take root in our minds and cause us to make a mess of our own lives.

Trouble is always around the corner. Thankfully, God goes ahead of us (Deuterony 31:8, Isaiah 45:2). He has fought and won the battle for our lives. If we lose, it is because we have chosen to do so. Next time trouble knocks at your door, ask yourself who has really delivered it there. Often we will find that we make the devil’s work a little bit easier by making choices that are outside of God’s will for our lives. This is not to say that hard times will not come. Some things are inevitable and are beyond our control. Fortunately, we serve a God who has the characteristics that Satan lacks. Our God is all-knowing. He is all-powerful. He is everywhere making every needed provision for every one of His children.

Be blessed, loves.

SBF 🙂

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Love

Today I rose with love on my mind. Not bad for a first thought. I found myself thinking about the nature of love. I almost resent the popularity of the word. Even those with the best intentions often use the word love without understanding that it is not at all a noun to be felt as in an emotion or a gift to be received…it is an action to be carried out with every breath, every thought, and every decision of your life.

Love doesn’t focus on how others can treat you better. Love doesn’t keep a record of how many times you’ve forgiven someone for hurting you. Love doesn’t make promises to change on this condition or that one. Love just does loving things because it can, it should, and because it. is. LOVE.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy, and I know all mysteries and all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

-1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Note: If you still just don’t get it, but you do believe that God IS Love…replace each occurrence of the word love, with God in the passage above. Maybe then, you’ll understand His call for us to show love.

Let It Shine

“Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” –Matthew 5:15-16 (KJV)

It’s an indescribable feeling, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I’ve heard it described as warm and fuzzy. Others say that it’s like fire shut up in their bones. To me, it’s like a song that my soul sings. It tingles and when I feel it, I have to move. I want to shout, but when it’s not appropriate, I just tap my feet. It makes me cry. It makes me smile. It fills me with joy…or maybe it just releases the joy that’s already inside. Sometimes, it even makes me sad. It always makes me grateful and a little more prayerful than before.

I first remember feeling it when I went with my Granny to teach night school and I had my first “student”…a 70 year old woman who wanted to learn to read. I feel it now when I give lunch money to a kid in the hallway that’s trying to avoid the cafeteria by pretending not to be hungry. I feel it when I stay after school an hour and a half past longer than I’d planned trying to tweak a lesson for my kids for the next day. I feel it when I hug somebody’s son or daughter and tell them that I love them and believe in them. I feel it when I text their parent to tell them that they just left my classroom from after school detention (can’t spare the rod).

I don’t just get the feeling at work, but that’s where it is strongest. I also feel it when I hold the door for elderly people even if it means waiting a while for them to catch up to it. I feel it when I send a card or say a prayer for a friend who is going through a storm. I hope to someday feel it when I read my own child a bedtime story or check under the bed for monsters.

I wish that everyone could feel “it.” I’m so grateful that I do. I’m grateful for its strength and its consistency. It reminds me every day that I am doing exactly what God has called me to do. It gives my past, present, and future so much more meaning. It is proof that my life is dedicated to something and someone larger than myself…something greater…something spiritual.

I believe that this feeling is a combination of love, service, compassion, and sacrifice. It is peace. It is light. It is God…and it is His son.

Many of you reading this have your own light. I pray that you shine boldly…not for your own glory, but for His. I also pray for any of you who have not yet learned to recognize the light that is within us all. Perhaps, you will be so courageous as to pray a simple and powerful prayer to invite God into your spiritual space and allow Him to have His way. Just say, “Use me, Lord.” Then, hold on tight. The world needs your light. The kingdom needs your light. YOU need your light.

Peace and blessings.

Keep smiling,

 

SBF 🙂

My Work…My Ministry

I teach. Summer vacation just ended. I’m back at work now teaching Anatomy & Physiology and Environmental Science to 175 diverse, opinionated, intelligent (each in a unique way) teenagers. I need a little coffee and a lot of Jesus every day to help me effectively teach these young minds.

I pray for my students, colleagues, administrators, my classroom, and myself regularly. Still, when my students have a bad day or get frustrated by something…I just want to pray WITH them, remind them about the love of Jesus, and share some scripture with them. However, I can’t.

The law says that Jesus can’t come up in my classroom. He isn’t welcome in the school building. No matter how many hearts He might touch or lives He might save, He must be a non-factor within the public school system.

Ha! Whomever wrote such a silly law never knew the power of my God! I don’t mention Jesus, but my students do. I don’t quote scripture, but when I ask them for their favorite quote or life motto…they quote scripture! I don’t pray aloud, but during that moment of silence after the pledge of allegiance…Jesus moves! I’m so grateful for these things, but there is something else about the challenge of “keeping Christ out of schools” that I have to shout about.

If I can’t speak about Jesus…I am left with no other option but to teach my students about Him through my actions! Through love, understanding, care, concern, service, encouragement, high standards, dedication, sacrifice, and patience…I model the love of Jesus for them. God wants us to keep Him at the center of all things and remember that nothing can separate us from His love. When faced with obstacles, we have to find a way to magnify Him as we work through them.

Anything that brings us closer to God is a good thing. In this case, I am grateful for the opportunity to use my work as my ministry in deeds and not just with words. Please pray with me that students and educators everywhere have a peaceful, loving, productive school year.

Keep Smiling,

SBF 🙂

P.S. Here is a snippet of one section of my bulletin board for this year. Inspired by a board that I saw on Pinterest, I’m hopeful that it will encourage positive choices and character-building among my students this year.

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