MEASURED IN SMILES By Lori A Alicea

Sticks and stones
May break my bones.

But words ????
 Will never cause me pain???
Will never break my heart???
Will never break me????
Will never hurt me???

One afternoon my husband and I were out riding our bicycles together when we stopped to look at this rock garden school children had personally grown. Hand painted stones with word-messages from a child’s imagination and decorated in their own colorful flair, a spring concert of sorts, where the music and song is played to your own interpretation.

Observing this garden of rocks, I was sadly reminded of the stones we all have thrown on occasion in a heated moment of hurt, hurling our words of opinions, words in defense against accusation or words to protect ourselves from pain. Our “volley of words” resembles a bully’s way of taking control by casting stones.

Sassy kids have all said it. Myself as a child included.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

How far from the truth this is.

At our child’s middle school graduation, I remember the commencement message like it was yesterday as it left an indelible mark. The speaker spoke on the power of words and the handprint they leave on a child’s heart.  Reminding us that words are “containers for life or death” and their lifetime impact over our children could be
“measured in smiles.”

The Commencement Speaker rewinds the movie of this graduation class to their first day of kindergarten when smiles were bright and endless. A simple world of cartoons and playgrounds, their joy was written all over their face in smiles.  Happiness abounds in their land of balloons and fireflies.  But sadly, it doesn’t take long when a child’s garden clutters from the sticks and stones of another’s negative words, crowding out their innocence and smiles.  Over the years of neglect and not weeding out the clutter, sticks and stones can overtake the garden of a middle school graduate and possibly an adult.
IMG_3159But hope is not lost.
hopeGardens grow and blossom with seeds sown in joy and kindness.
hope joy love be kindLove can thrive and brighten smiles in any garden, especially a garden of hurt and overgrown in sticks and stones.
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We are reminded that our words be gracious and sweet as honeycomb and pleasing in our Lord’s sight.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  Proverbs 16:24

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.  Psalm 19:24

Just the other day I received a text message, words sweetened in a child’s love causing a bright smile on this grandmother’s face. My seven year old granddaughter spelled out her itinerary for our weeks visit together, a list of ways she wanted to spend time with me.

This is my itinerary when you are here. I want us to make pancakes, biscuits and gravy, roast, chicken noodle soup.  I want to go to the park and on walks.  I want to cuddle with you.  Make books and read books.  I want to sleep with you and do make up together.  I love you.  Also, there’s one more thing.  I want to stay up with you and make cookies.
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 Next time you see a child whose smile is dimmed; his smile might be measured from the sticks and stones of his garden.

Come along side this child and speak words of peace, joy and kindness to him.
bee kindGenerously water his garden in love.

This child’s smile will shine bright again.
His garden will surely grow.

The season of spring has come upon us.
It’s time to weed out our garden’s clutter.

It’s time to clear our land of sticks and stones, those words that have kept our gardens from blooming.

3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heaven…

    a time to scatter stones… Ecclesiastes 3

It’s time to prepare our heart’s soil to receive good seeds, those words full of love, peace, joy and kindness to help our garden grow.
hope joy love be kindOh, that our joy be evident from the overflow of our heart.

Oh, that our peace, love and joy be
measured in smiles.
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