meet mary. my cousin. oh, this child...i know her too well. :) if i ever need a 'laugher' to model for me, i call mary. she is the BEST laugher model...ever. period. all i have to say is, "alright...laugh." and this is what i get! she makes my job way too easy.
when you look at these pictures you just have to smile...smiling is contagious. it gets in our hearts and eventually in our soul. a smile can produce something quite bigger than itself. if we watch closely a tiny burst of joy might sneak out.
after jeremy and i got married we moved to florida for a year. he interned at a fabulous church and i taught second grade at the biggest elementary school on the face of the earth. (i was the 12th second grade teacher...yeah...12th.) i was beginning to get run down and tired of the same ole shenanigans. my joy had deflated. i began to go through various books in the new testament when i came across the popular fruits of the spirit in galatians. always been a big fan of the fruits, but never really stopped to ponder on them for more than about 60 seconds. i sat there and read them over and over and over. love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. these were are the things my heart longed for. so, i devised a plan to write each word on a note card, put them in my bathroom, and hang one up on my mirror everyday. if 'patience' was up on my mirror for the day, then i would try to exert patience in everything i did. pretty simple...right???
the day that 'self control' came up in the rotation God decided to have a sense of humor. i had this precious, sweet little girl who loved to hoard food in her desk. it was always such a joy to find all the goodies that had been rotting in there for weeks. :) fridays was always clean-out-your-desk- day and we were all busy throwing away old papers, putting pencils in the right place, and so on. as i was doing my desk check i came across this girl's desk and it was still a complete disaster. i was so frustrated and started ripping papers, books, and crayons from the side compartment. one of the books was wedged in there pretty tightly so, me, in all my strength, pulled with all my might. and as the book came free so did a very old carton of chocolate milk. it flew into the air and splattered all over the right side of my face and shoulder. you could have heard a pin drop. as i was standing there in front of 24 second graders with lumpy milk all over me; i thought of the word. the word on my mirror. self control. at that very moment i had a choice. a choice to lose it. or a choice to follow the word. amazingly enough...i chose the latter. i calmly walked into the little bathroom in my room, got a paper towel, and removed the sour milk from my face. when i came out all 48 eyes were on me. i walked over to the girl, helped her clean up the mess, and we moved on with our day.
now, i'm not saying that i'm perfect. i fail all the time at my 'self control' lessons. but, if we could all just remember the words on the mirror...i think we would have more joy. joy like these two beautiful pictures of mary. the kind of joy that just plain knocks you over because you can't contain it anymore. contagious joy. we can all be happy at times, but true joy comes from only one source...Jesus. :)