“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
-Dr. Suess, The Lorax

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Smiles and Kisses

I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling to me than sharing smiles and kisses with kids.  Seriously. 

Smiles and kisses don’t care what language you speak, your age, gender or skin color.  They don’t require a degree or specialized training.  Previous experience isn’t even necessary.    
The coolest thing about smiles and kisses are how simple, yet wonderfully powerful they are.
They are free.  They never run out.  And they bring joy to the giver and the recipient. 
I adore making little kids smile, especially if it’s a challenge.  I will go to great lengths to accomplish a shared smile.  No shame or loss of dignity will stop me, as I make ridiculous faces and play endless matches of peek-a-boo.  Though no words may be spoken, a smile speaks volumes.  It’s the outward expression from the depths of one’s soul.  I’m not referring to a cordial smile, but a real smile.  The difference is felt as a heart-connection is made during a real shared smile.
Giving kisses, for me, is a magical transference of love and affection from my being to the child’s.  That may sound overly dramatic, but I believe it.  I have experienced it time and time again.  A high-five is nice, and a hug is quite personal, but a kiss is something special.  It says that I find great value in you, and I willingly give up all my personal space to show you that I mean it.    
When I’ve gone to Haiti, I bet you can guess what I’ve spent a lot of time doing.  This is what I’ve witnessed there that has stirred my heart to share smiles and kisses:
Beautiful brown babies.  Every. Single. One.  (Note: I consider my 17 year old my “baby,” so I use the word “babies” in a very broad sense.) 
Loneliness.  Homesick.  Missing momma or papa.    
Hearts scarred from abandonment or neglect.
Souls aching from being hungry for love and affection, which is even more painful than the torture of malnutrition to their bodies.   
Confusion.  Just too little to understand.  Reality that is too hard to comprehend, regardless of age.
Need for assurance and encouragement.
A willingness to forget about a dismal current circumstance in order to embrace a moment of happiness.

As His child, Jesus has filled my heart with love.  In turn, I have been able to pour that same love into these children I’ve been blessed to spend time with……namely through smiles and kisses.  Abundant and true.  Just like my Lord’s love – abundant and true – because it IS my Lord’s love I’m sharing.  Real love comes from Him, and only Him.  I am just a clay pot that He has created, shaped, and poured His love in to.  What a waste it would be to hoard that love.  The real joy comes from pouring out that love into others. 

1 John 4:16-21 has taught me this:
God is love.  Love is the proof that God is in you. 
Perfect love drives out fear. 
We can only love because He first loved us. 
You can’t hate other people if you truly love God. 
God commands that anyone who loves Him must love others. 

LOVE.  It’s a heavenly thing. 
For me, smiles and kisses are my love language.  In sharing them, I have fullness of joy.  Seriously.      

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