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Annie’s Journal

Written by Annie Warner Donnelly

Let’s think about this: I may not have been born in the same country as you were. I may not be able to speak your native language. I may not have learned about your culture yet. My hopes and dreams may be different from yours. But, when I smile at you, and you smile at me, a connection is formed between us.

According to Ron Gutman’s book called, Smile: The Astonishing Power of a Simple Act:

“Researchers have used 3-D ultrasound imaging to capture vivid pictures in which babies appear to smile in their mother’s womb. Interestingly, smiling is one of the first facial expressions we learn to control.

 When babies are born, they first smile in their sleep … When they’re just over a month old, they actually learn to consciously smile. Learning how to smile is accepted today as a developmental milestone in children. This was first observed in 1872.

Even blind babies smile in response to the sound of the human voice! By three months of age, babies learn they can inspire smiles in others by looking at them. Shortly thereafter, they begin to engage in one of the first childhood games they initiate: the smiling exchange game.

As noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, a ‘smiling exchange’ occurs when a baby smiles at someone in order to get that person to smile back, and when the person smiles back, the baby smiles again.”

As our children, teenagers and young adults go to school, we can only imagine the challenges they are facing. Family members may be dealing with: the loss of a job or income; difficulty meeting financial obligations or essential needs; the death of a family member, friend or colleague; feelings of loneliness or isolation; emotional distress; physical health problems; challenges in personal relationships with members of their household; or serious thoughts of suicide. How can smiles make a difference in such challenging circumstances?

 Let’s remember this: smiles have a way of defusing tension. They help to break down barriers and foster trust. They are an outward sign of a positive outlook inside of us. Smiles are usually followed by kind words and actions. Smiles are a visible sign of a peace-seeking personality.

Mark Lauren, an elite Special Operations physical trainer says: “You only get good at what you do.” The value of a smile should never be underestimated. Smiles come from a loving heart. Whether we admit it or not, we all benefit from the love and comfort that exists within the person who chooses to get good at sharing a smile.

What wonderful things must babies be thinking to smile in their sleep, and to want to play the smiling exchange game with us from such an early age?

 Here’s an idea: Let’s continue to play the smiling exchange game with those around us. Every loving gesture counts. How God must love us to have created us with the ability to share this simple act of love with Him, and with those around us! Amen.

Rosie’s Devotions by Rosemary Hagedorn

Following the Leader

I have an entire collection of Walt Disney classic movies on VHS videotape that either I purchased or were given to me as gifts. All my children and grandchildren have enjoyed watching them over the years. But technology changes, and a VHS player has become obsolete. Today, there is a variety of ways to watch old classics, so I am in the process of getting rid of some of these old cassette tapes.

The other day, I decided to watch Peter Pan before putting the tape into the bag with the others. There is a part in the movie where the Lost Boys are singing the following song:

Following the leader, the leader, the leader,

We’re following the leader wherever he may go.

       – Oliver Wallace, Ted Sears, and Winston Hibler

This made me question, Who am I following?

In today’s society, there are hundreds of voices on the television and the Internet that scream out, “Follow me!” They promise weight loss if we wear this or take that pill. There are gadgets that stop pain or perform many other so-called miracles, if we only follow the advertiser’s commands. I admit that I’m one of those gullible people who has given in to the demands of some of these advertisements on the television.

Christians profess to be followers of Jesus, their Leader, their Saviour, their Helper, and their Shepherd.

We are sheep.

Matthew 9:36 – And what pity He felt for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know what to do or where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. (TLB)

The Shepherd is Jesus.

John 10:11 – I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (TLB)

The sheep follow the shepherd.

John 10:27 – My sheep recognize my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (TLB)

Sometimes, when we give in to false promises or we go astray, Jesus promises to leave the other ninety-nine sheep in order to bring us back into His fold.

Matthew 12:11-12a – This was his answer: “If you had just one sheep, and it fell into a well on the Sabbath, would you work to rescue it that day? Of course you would. And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep!” (TLB)

Who are you following?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, Shepherd of our souls and minds, direct our paths, and be with us as we discern the real from the unreal. Forgive our straying and our listening to empty promises. Help us to follow You in mind, body, and spirit. Amen.

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