Make Smiling Your Favorite

Over the holidays, we enjoyed one of our favorite movies, Elf. There’s a scene that always makes me chuckle.

The department manager sees Buddy’s big grin and asks, “Why are you smiling?”

“Smiling is my favorite,” he says with joy.

The department manager scowls, “Make work your favorite. Work is your new favorite!”

Work is certainly important. I happen to be in a very busy time at work right now, which has prevented much else, including writing my blog. Sorry.

As I’m working, whether it be for my job or at home, my face appears pretty serious. After all, I’m an introvert, so I’m all about the internal processing. With an unsmiling face, I’m usually working things out in my mind or even just recharging. It has nothing to do with what or who’s around me.

Now I know we don’t just walk around smiling all the time. That would be exhausting! Okay, it seems like some people do this, and they’re awesome! But I would be wiped out.

But I realize this can be a problem…forgetting to smile. And though family tops the priority list, I’ve noticed it missing at home.

41 - smiling

As I’m recovering from a long day at work, or mentally checking my to-do list, or sorting through laundry, I’ve got that serious grimace face.

So one random day, I tracked the number of times I caught myself smiling. It was six. Six, people! So not good. I’m hoping I just missed some.

I even noticed once when I gave encouragement, “Hey, you did a really good job of…,” I still remained straight-faced. Hmmm.

It got me thinking. When my kids are not with me, and picture their Mom, what does that picture in their head look like? Am I smiling in that picture? If not, this was definitely worth changing.

I remembered a company that uses unconventional methods to measure their business success. The customer service team measures success by number of smiles. Not the number they give…they measure success by the number of smiles received. How appropriate!

I decided to try this approach at home. Track the number of smiles I receive from my kiddos. If I didn’t get many, I would purposely smile at them…even for no reason whatsoever.

Being a mom feels like being a servant at times, am I right? With little gratitude along the way. Our brain is constantly processing all we need to do, and we sometimes forget what our faces look like while thinking. Or at least I do.

Reminding myself to be like Jesus, I imagine he always has a smile for children. And one way we can serve God is by serving our children. Doing it with a smile makes such a difference.


     “Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart,
and good news gives health to the bones.” 
                                       Proverbs 15:30


So I started smiling as often as possible, while doing chores, answering the kids’ requests, getting dinner made…

What an improvement smiling made. Not only with them, but also in my own perception of the day.

I’ve even found that a smile can make the difference between a command and a request, resulting in acceptance versus rejection. In fact, I took this a step further by combining a smile with super positive and unexpected words.

Here’s my new trick. When I want to get my kids’ attention, I say with a big smile on my face, “Beautiful faces!”

They turn, and beam up at me. I ask for a favor. It could be to pick up their puzzle pieces, or put away their breakfast dishes. So far, I keep getting the response I’m looking for – immediate action with no complaints.

I see the difference a smile can make. And it’s the lasting impression I want in my kids’ memories when they think of me.

Today, I asked my toddler, “When is your Mom happiest?”

He answered, “She smiles when she says, ‘Beautiful faces.’” Yes!

A constant smile for my greatest treasures (my kids) is a smile worth seeking.

Today, make smiling your favorite. 🙂

Time Should Be Wasted

Time is a precious thing. There’s never enough of it.

I manage life like each passing minute needs to be tackled. Gotcha! I knock it to the ground, clutch it in my sweaty hands, ground it together with the other minutes I snatched, and hope I can get a full ½ hour to vacuum and mop the kitchen floor until it gleams like an ice sculpture.

Not buying the gleaming floor? Yeah, I just want to remove the crumbs I keep picking up with my bare feet. Ick!

I took some extra time from work while school was out. I dreamed up all the things I could get done.

40 - waste time

The house would be neat and tidy for full consecutive days because I would have time to keep up with it. Did I really think that?

I’d place wonderful new meals on the table. Everyone would come running, take a whiff of delicious aromas, and mumble ‘Thank you, Mama’ while stuffing their faces. But they like ham and cheese sandwiches.

The laundry would be completely caught up, folded, and put away. With just one or two things added to the basket each day, I could forgo the next load of wash for at least a week. Yeah, I’m still laughing at this one, too.

I realized I wouldn’t get these wishes for Christmas. But I did have extra time. What could I cross off the to-do list? What could I catch up on? What sense of accomplishment could I achieve? How best to use this extra time?

Waste it.

Yes, you heard that from me. Just like many of you, a woman who never has enough time to get things done. And when she finally has a little extra, she wants to waste it? Yep!

I wasted a couple hours watching APL’s River Monsters with my older son. We both found the episodes on eels and sawfish interesting. It was finally some down time from the decibel levels of play, and I got to witness his brain at work as we wondered about the things we saw.

I wasted more time looking through old home decor magazines. Even though I saw them before, I still enjoyed the eye candy. And now I get to treat a friend to them next.

I took my time on a new project: designing a desk for my son. I hand washed the plastic drawers I bought at a garage sale last summer, removing the old sticky labels with Goo Gone. I used the lazy action to visualize my design and work through how best to execute it.

There’s so much I should be doing. Catch up on the Shutterfly albums I’ve neglected. I’m over a year behind right now – ugh! Figure out why some of the basement lights aren’t working. Look for more recipes to try with the family. Find ways to promote my blog.

But I didn’t feel like it. In the words of a friend of mine that very week, “I have a huge case of the, I don’t wanna’s.” I felt the same, and I think I know why.

Rest is a basic need. It’s next to air, water, and food at the base of Maslow’s hierarchical triangle of fundamental needs.

Without doubt, our Father knows how important it is.


     “In vain you rise early and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep
to those He loves.”
 
                                       Psalm 127:2


I get two things from this verse. First, that when we live a life with God, He will give us rest when we need it. And second, that we should take it. He’s giving it to us for good reason.

It’s not just physical rest that we need. Possibly even more important in today’s technology-driven world is the mental rest we all need. Our brains need the down time.

Time to let our thoughts wander, work out problems, or dream of new things. Time to connect with Him to make sure we stay on track. Time to connect with our loved ones to make them feel what they are..the most important part of our lives.

Even time to do nothing.

Or what seems like nothing, but is actually something.

Like write out a pretend check to the wildlife store to buy two cute little bear cubs and take them home to raise myself. Their idea, not mine. Thank goodness they’re already potty trained. 🙂

And then build a nest of fur and grass with a fuzzy green blanket to put my little bear cubs down for a nap like they asked. Bummer! It was only a pretend nap.

What seems like wasting time to us is the time our kids treasure most.

It’s back to the grind now, where I’m snatching time to get things done in the midst of work, school, and everyday routine. So now’s my chance to waste some of it.

In fact, I think the bear cubs need some air. We’ll surface from the den and slide down the driveway a bit. Then I’ll waste some time frying up some salmon from the river. Good thing they like Goldfish crackers!

How will you waste time this year?

Listening to Heartbeats

Falling short of the loving, though not perfect, parent my kids deserve does not express how much I realize what a gift He’s given me. Because they truly are a gift.

Here’s a look-back at my discoveries in 2015 from looking a little closer in the rear-view mirror and listening a little closer to my heart.

2015 Heartbeats List_FINAL

Which is your favorite?

Hands Free Mama

Letting Go...To Grasp What Really Matters

Butterfly Heart

life in progress

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