A lot of Reasons to Smile

As luck would have it, my first afternoon duty of February was scheduled for another rainy day.  As the clouds rolled in and spewed thousands of rain drops, I shook my head.  “Seriously?” I thought to myself.  As the wind began to pound against my large classroom windows, it seemed to scream, “Let me in!”  Monitoring the car line would not be fun that afternoon.

My thoughts were interrupted by a smiling girl standing in front of me.  She had a question about the assignment on which the students were working.  “I am glad that someone is smiling on such a rainy day,” I said while looking at the work she had completed.  Her response startled me a bit.  “Life is a gift.  We should smile.”  She continued to smile and stared at me.  For a moment, I forgot who the adult was in this situation. God really does speak through children sometimes.  I smiled back, considered her response for a few seconds, and then continued to look at her notebook.

Her words resonated with me the rest of the day.  I could think of lots of things to frown about, but her simple words were painted with truth.  I of all people should know that life is a gift, and that fact alone was worthy of a smile.  In a way, it seemed that God was using this student to remind me of what I had clearly forgotten.

We are told in James 4:14 that “…you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears.”  In other words, we are not promised any number of days, and our time on Earth is short.  Therefore, we should live each day praising God for our many blessings and enjoy every moment that we can.  As tough as things may seem sometimes, we always have something for which to be thankful.

There is a great Oprah Winfrey quote that I sometimes think about: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.  If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”  There is much truth in Oprah’s words.  If we focus our efforts on being thankful for God’s gifts, our hearts will be slowly filled, but if we focus on what we don’t have, we will always want more.

Sometimes I feel like I am constantly standing in the rain, and I don’t just mean during afternoon duty.  It is easy to focus on the rain and the things that make me frown – what I don’t have, specifically, my daughter.  However, as Isabelle so clearly reminded me months ago, after the rain, there are often rainbows.

The book of James points out that our time here on Earth is limited.  Not only was I not guaranteed any number of days with Isabelle, I too am not guaranteed any number of days.  Instead of dwelling on the rain and what I don’t have, I should choose to be thankful for what I do have, because God will then fill my heart with a joy that can only come from Him.

So this week, I am thankful for my wonderful family, for a supportive and faith-filled husband, for my daughter who prays for her parents from heaven, for a mom who calls just to check in, for a job that I enjoy, for friends who let me vent and challenge me to grow in faith, for a comfortable and clean home, for delicious food, for the exercise class that I love attending with my mother-in-law, for the highly entertaining conversation that I had with a colleague, for the meeting about a student that reminded me how lucky I was growing up, for the strength and motivation God gave me to grade 27 essays (only 85 to go!), for the fact that my husband arrived home safely, for my health, for the ability to practice my faith freely when so many people on our planet cannot, and most of all, for the gift of life!

Those are a lot of reasons to smile.

What are you thankful for today?

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