A shift in perspective

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Don’t you love it when you get a slap on the head from God? That happened to me today.

I had one of those days at work that was mentally draining, filled with annoying emails — or, more accurately, an annoying person writing those emails — that literally had me pursing my mouth in frustration, shaking my head and laughing in disbelief.

And wouldn’t you know, at that moment, a song came on in my random Spotify shuffle and boldly proclaimed, “I choose joy!”

Long story — and long day — short, I had a choice to make. I could get bogged down in the negative, or I could choose joy. Ultimately, I chose to swallow my pride (although I can’t say I didn’t do it with a few eye rolls and heavy sighs).

I choose to love. I choose to do my best by each person I interact with. I choose to see their point. And I choose to move on.

God’s plan for you and me

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You know what? I love God.

Every morning, I start off my day with reading my Bible. Recently, I’ve been reading through the book of Jeremiah, and this morning I came to chapter 29.

I’m sure you’re all like, “Yeah, yeah, Jen, you’re going to go to verse 11.”

Yes — but only for some of it.

I read Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'”

Now, if you don’t mind, I’d just like to insert what I wrote down this morning after reading that:

So often, we read and quote Jeremiah 29:11 by itself — and for good reason, because it’s an amazing promise from God and a source of hope. But I know I failed to see it in context before. After reading through Jeremiah, the promise and hope found in verse 11 means so much more.

God had allowed the Israelites to be captured by the Babylonians because they had openly rebelled against Him. He offered them chance after chance to turn back to Him, but they refused and continued to disobey.

So, the Babylonians captured the Israelites and took them away from their city as captives.

But God still offered them hope.

Jeremiah 29:10, “This is what the Lord says: ‘You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.'”

He gave them the promise that they would be freed in 70 years. And not only that, He then told them (in verse 11) that He knew them and wanted to give them a good future. That’s beautiful.

Even now, we know that we’re going to go through some hard times, but God lets us know that He has ordered our steps. Even though we may not know how long it may take to be freed from the struggles or chains, He has promised us freedom and this good will, if we choose to follow Him.

But don’t stop there — verses 12 and 13 are so good too! Jeremiah 29:12-13 — “In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

Let me just say I had no idea I would absolutely need those words today — and let me tell you, I absolutely needed those words today.

But God knew.

And let me just say: Even if you find yourself in one of the worst storms you’ve faced, God still knows where you are.

More than that, He knows you.

He formed you for a purpose, and He won’t just leave you hanging.

No, if we choose to love Him and follow Him, He promises us a future filled with hope and good plans.

God isn’t the only one involved here, though. We have to make the choice to follow him. We, as humans, can choose to disregard His promises and follow our own paths, like the Israelites did in the verses above.

But know this: God doesn’t break His promises.

Just to see them smile…

Smirking Baby

Have you ever stopped to consider just how ridiculous we must look to little kids sometimes? I know I personally take my face contortions to another level in my attempts to make a baby smile, laugh, or just keep looking at me with those piercing baby eyes. I’ll make faces, blow up my cheeks, wiggle my eyebrows, crinkle my nose, show my teeth in a crazy smile, or simply smirk at them. And when that little munchkin smiles back, giggles at my silliness, or keeps looking at me with interest (or more probably confusion), I always feel a great sense of accomplishment. I love their unadulterated expressions and the fact that they don’t hide their joy.

Maybe I love it because I know that those babies aren’t judging me — they perceive somebody exuding joy and they, in turn, reciprocate that joy. And while it’s not exactly like they can choose to ignore the person smiling crazily at them as their mom holds them while in the grocery store line, it seems like they always choose to see the good in the person engaging with them. They don’t know if you’ve been having a miserable day, week, or year. They don’t know your life, accomplishments, or failures. But they do know that you’re smiling at them, and they (hopefully) acknowledge that. You smile, they smile. There is a beauty to their innocent joy and interaction with people and something so intriguing and contagious about those happy, smiling faces. Once that baby starts smiling back at you, it’s almost impossible to turn away and stop smiling at them.

So I guess the main point of this post is to say that, every now and then, a crazy smile is a great way to spread joy… You never know who could use a dose of it.

P.S. I dare you to Google Image Search “smiling baby faces,” or watch this video of babies laughing, and not smile. I couldn’t do it.