God Smile

Definition of “God Smile”:

My good friend and preacher’s wife Dana told me about what she likes to call “God smiles.” She explained that a God smile is a small blessing from God, such as the closest parking space being available when it’s raining outside, or finding an item in the first place we look. A God smile is something small God does for us, just to remind us He cares.

My Own Experience with God’s Smile:

I recently had a one-on-one meeting with a friend to try to mend our friendship, as we had both unintentionally done things which had hurt each other. The meeting went very well, but I was really tense after leaving, with the stress of the situation finally coming to the surface.

Before I go on, you must know that my family enjoys watching American Idol together, so after the season finale, my husband and I sat down together and chose our favorite American Idol Season 7 songs to download from I-Tunes, keeping in mind our daughter’s favorites as we made our selections. We then burnt 80 minutes worth of American Idol songs, in order by artist, to a CD and placed it in our jeep.

Fast forward to right after my meeting . . . I was very emotional; I felt tense, relieved, and stressed all at the same time. Our American Idol CD had been playing on shuffle in the car on the way to the meeting. On the way home, a Brooke White (my favorite contestant) song came on, and I listened to it, still tense. Then another Brooke White song came on. Then another; each Brooke White song came on, in a row, until I was calm and relaxed, mellowed by her music. After each of her songs had played, the CD randomly went to other artists, continuing the shuffle. By that time, I was relaxed enough to enjoy the other artists’ music, and to praise God for helping the meeting to go as well as I had been hoping. God knew that as I was leaving my meeting I needed Brooke White’s music to help relax me, and He delivered!

I had laughed at Dana as she told me about God smiles, and I didn’t really understand what she meant until I experienced it for myself afterwards. I now keep my heart open to God smiles every day, and I enjoy the small blessings He freely gives when I allow myself to be open to Him. Now when God smiles at me, I try to pass it on by doing something nice for someone else, just to show them God and I care.

By Davonne Parks

Skills for Serving

Summer is finally here! School’s out, and now you can do all the fun activities summer has in store for you–family vacations, amusement parks, camp, etc. You have probably spent hours planning what you are going to do with all your free time. When planning your summer, did you plan time for God? Are you going to use your time for Him this summer? Even though you may not have a car or your driver’s license, or money, you can still make time for God’s work. As stated in last month’s issue, God has made you unique. Each one of you has your own special talents. Don’t let them waste away over the summer. Use this time to build on what God has given you, to grow in Christ, and to glorify Him. Let’s look at some of the things you can do to pierce your heart for Christ.

God made us in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27). Since God made us in His image, He did not make a mistake in creating us. Each and every one of us is special and unique. God has given us different personalities, looks, and skills. Some of us are more outgoing, while others like to work “behind the scenes” to get things done. Some are good teachers, while others are more creative do-ers. God made us different so we can better serve Him. If everyone was out knocking on doors to introduce people to Christ, who would be visiting the sick or making meals for the shut-ins? We each need to take a look at our self to determine our likes/dislikes, skills, and limitations. Jesus shows us the importance of this when he shares the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. (In this parable, talents refer to money.) This parable is about a man who gave his servants talents (money). To one, he gave five; to another, he gave two; and to the third, he gave one. The two servants who received five and two talents each doubled what they received. However, the servant with the one talent buried his money so he would not lose it. He didn’t try to do anything with it. When the master came back, he was pleased with the first two servants because they put forth the effort to do something with what they were given. The man was very upset with the third servant. He was so angry that he took the talent from him and gave it to the first servant.

We each have something we like to do and/or are good at. What is it that you like to do? I’m sure there are some out there who think they don’t have anything to contribute. This is NOT TRUE! Remember, God made you in His image. He didn’t put you here to do nothing. It is time to take an inventory of yourself. List the things you like to do and the things you are good at. Do you like to talk on the phone? The next time you pick up the phone to call a friend, why not call someone who is sick or shut in. They would love to hear from someone, even if it is for only 5 or 10 minutes. Do you like to shop? Next time you go shopping, ask that girl that nobody talks to to go with you. You could make a huge difference in her life. Do you like to draw or make things? Sunday School teachers would love the extra help in preparing crafts for their classes. The sick would appreciate a card, as well. Do you like to go to the movies or the park? There are plenty of moms who could use a break. Why not ask them if you can take their child(ren) to the park or to a movie. Or better yet, stay with them at their home so the mom can run errands or just get away for a couple hours. These are just a few ideas. There are plenty more that you can do. You just need to think of what it is you can do and who you can help. It may be hard at first to make a phone call or ask if you can help someone. It is often equally hard for that other person to accept your help. So be patient with them. Keep trying. Let them know that by accepting your help, they are allowing you to serve. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 25:34-36: “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison and ye came unto me.”

God did not make a mistake in creating us. We have a purpose, and that purpose is to glorify Him in all that we do. Since God chose to create you in His image, shouldn’t you have faith in Him that you can make a difference?

Let us pray.
Dear God, my most gracious Heavenly Father. Thank you for making me who I am. Please help me to realize how precious I am to Your plan. Help me find my strengths so I can better serve You. Please give me the strength and courage to make time for You this summer, as well as all of my days. Thank you, dear Father, for loving me and trusting me to do the best I can with what You have given me.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

By Octavia Boling

The Greatest Day of My Life

I’ve always remembered that day like it was yesterday. I had been contemplating all week whether or not I was going to do it, and on Friday I had finally decided. I WAS GOING TO BE BAPTIZED! It was the last day of church camp, and I just felt like it was the right time. I felt like God had surrounded me with his loving hands. My mom was at camp with me and I was nervous about telling her. I’m not sure why I was, though. I first told my best friend that I wanted to get baptized, and she helped prepare me to talk to my mom. I then had to go and talk to the Director of that week he was also the preacher at my church. He asked me who I wanted to invite—I had become close to all of the other teens that week, so I told him that’s who I wanted to invite, plus some of the staff. I wanted to get baptized at night, because I have always loved the moon and the stars; they are just so beautiful.

After the activity that night, we were going to watch a slideshow with pictures on it from the week, but they were having technical difficulties. So my preacher told me to get all my friends to the pool and to go get changed. My excitement had been building all day and the moment was finally here. I couldn’t help but smile.

After I had changed, my mom and I walked up to the pool. All of my friends were lined up by the steps, and my preacher was waiting. He led me into the pool, and he asked me “Do you believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the redemption of your sins?”

“I do,” I replied.

“I now baptize you in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” He then dunked me under the water, and when I came up, I know I had a huge smile on my face. I was so happy. When I got out of the pool, I grabbed my towel and went over and hugged all of my friends. I had tears of joy in my eyes. When I got to one guy, he put a necklace with a cross made out of nails around my neck and then hugged me. I don’t know if he knows how much that meant to me, but I’ll always remember it. This was and will always be one of the greatest days of my life.

by Lizzy Morgan

Be Yourself

God made each and every one of us so beautiful and unique! How sad it is whenever we try to clone ourselves into what we think is the acceptable norm. The next time you go to the mall, or are in a large crowd, really look around you. Look at the women around you. What do you see? Overlook their shapes, and your preconceived ideas, and what magazines and Hollywood would have you think is normal, and look into their eyes. Look at their faces. Do you see their beauty? Now, look in the mirror. Look deeply into your own eyes. Do you see your own unique beauty?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, beauty is defined as “the quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality.” Wow! Who is our artist? God, of course! Psalm 139:14 says, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well” (NASV).

Beauty isn’t just on the surface, girls! It runs much deeper than that. God wants our light to shine from within us. That is where our true beauty lies. We must first be ourselves! Be who you are! That’s what makes you so special! The world would be so boring if we were all identical, and if we all had the same hobbies, personalities, hairstyles, likes, and dislikes! This summer, spend some quiet time by yourself and really figure out who you are. What do you like to do? What do you like to wear? How does your hair best compliment your face? Do you like to cook, read, play sports, ride horses, draw, paint, sew, do crafts, write, or do photography? Take the time to discover who you are! You will be a happier person and you will have better relationships because you took the time to discover yourself.

Girls, it’s not just our outward appearance that makes us pretty. It’s also what comes out of our mouths, from deep within our hearts. We cannot think evil thoughts or be jealous or envious, and then try to act like we are a good person. Matthew 12:34 says, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (NKJV). It is our actions, and the way we think. It is how we behave when no one else is around. It is our innermost thoughts that are known only to God and us.

When I was growing up, my mother always told me a wise old saying that she learned from her mother, and one that I also passed on to my daughter: “Pretty is as pretty does.” What exactly does that mean? You are only as pretty as you act! You can have a pretty face, gorgeous hair, and fancy clothes, but if you have a bad disposition, you become a very unattractive person! “Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NASV).

I have seen many outwardly beautiful girls and women who quickly became ugly to me because of their attitudes, actions, or the way they spoke. Likewise, others have not been as physically attractive, but because they lived their lives in accordance to God’s will, they were the most beautiful women I have ever met. Why? His light shines brightly in their lives, and they glow! Let it be known who you are from the inside out! Whenever you start to change who you are from your heart first, to be the young woman God wants you to be, you will glow with His love. Your face will radiate His love, and your beauty will shine through! “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:16 (NKJV).

Let us pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to be the young woman you want me to be. Let your light shine through me so that others can see your love through my life and by my example. Help me to be more tender hearted and loving, and to have a gentle spirit. Thank you for making me who I am. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

By Carol Gartman