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Friday, September 11, 2009


"I have found that most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
~ Abraham Lincoln

Over the years I’ve been involved in more ministries than I can count. To indulge those who ask me to share more about myself, here's a brief ministry resumé:

I’ve assisted teachers and I’ve taught Bible. Preached for ladies’ worship at the jail and led singing for worship all over. Done silly drama and sacred drama. I’ve spoken before groups large and small. Served as church leader and church go-fer. I’ve cooked and cleaned, served food to the homeless and Bill Gothard alike. I’ve done crisis counseling, and spent hours wherever people simply need a listening ear.

I’ve prayed alone through the night, led prayer before City Hall and a banquet hall, and prayed when heading up a prayer chain or one-on-one any place.

Lately, I do a whole lot of writing—here and around the blogsphere in chunks, on Facebook and Twitter in nibbles, in manuscripts with word counts to make publishing types cringe.

But in the last year, I’ve hit upon a ministry I take everywhere, all the time. I call it smile ministry.

If I can make eye contact with a person, they’ll receive a smile, and maybe a bright "Hi!" If I can hold eye contact for any length of time, I’ll do my best to elicit a return smile. No one is off limits. I smile at familiar people and strangers, small children, elderly people, harried people, unhurried people, hoodlum types, giggly teen girls, and even men who might return a leer (the rare one who does is quickly discouraged).

It’s amazing how many people don’t make eye contact. We walk through the world accustomed to taking little note of one another. Some people appear socially destitute enough for me to suspect that being overlooked is their norm. I persist with these souls, perhaps offering conversation, until I get them to really see me and understand that I see them. It may be the only validation from another human being they receive for who knows how long.

The smile is genuine—regardless of my mood—for the worth of each human being compels me to set aside any contrary feelings and offer Christ’s light.

"You are the light of the world... let your light shine before men,
that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

I admit to bad moods. I also have little tolerance for them, and grow weary of them quickly enough to shut them down when they sneak up on me.

Usually. But if I get downright depressed I withdraw, lest I inflict my misery on others.

Withdrawal wasn't an option when I abnormally found myself in that condition on a recent Sunday morning. My habit upon entering church is to locate and warmly hug as many people as care to be hugged, then go sing my heart out in praise. On that Sunday morning, I snuck into my pew, then consoled myself with the knowledge that God is still in heaven and worthy of my praise. No problem.

Until I faced a song that wasn’t about praise, but about me: "It is Well With My Soul."

I don't care to sing words I don’t feel. Keeping silent through the first verse convicted me deeply. What could EVER be so bad that it obscures God’s abundant blessings to the point one cannot say, "It is Well With My Soul"?

The only answer I could muster was to sing the chorus, from the heart:
It is well with my soul.
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And when I finished, the words matched my feelings.

Your questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. I love that song, always have. I too, am a hugger, as soon as I get to church, must hug everyone. I love you dear.

  2. Smile ministry, yes! Isn't it interesting to see how you can actually see surprise on some faces when you smile at them? I loved reading your minsitry history. So you nibble on Twitter, huh? I keep debating, I just really don't want it to be a time suck.

    Thanks for smiling on, for exuding the JOY and LIGHT of CHRIST.
    ~ Wendy

  3. Thanks for sharing a bit more about you, Anne!!

    Isn't it amazing how God can take an old familiar song and still make it minister to us. His ability to touch us just when we need it most is so awesome!

  4. I smiled at an elderly man once and he told me to stop that, he said it was a sign of weakness. I still laugh about that. ;)

    I also love the quote 'If you want to be happy, just be' Cant remember the source.

  5. Oh the Lord knew how to reach you. Wasn't the author of "It is well" suffering over the loss of his family as he wrote that song? Literally "over" as he floated over the location their ship had gone down.

    Smile ministry. That really works. In any language. Keep smilin'

  6. Denise, I can hardly wait to hug you.

    Wendy, you speak as someone engaged in smile ministry. Yes, I do enjoy seeing the surprise.

    Eileen, He ALWAYS knows what we need. And I'm glad to share. I try to keep a balance between letting people get to know me and making this more about HIM.

    T. Anne, if smiling is a sign of weakness, why does it give me so much energy? And I googled that quote. It's attributed to Leo Tolstoy.

    Doug, the Lord never ceases to sneak up on me with a "gotcha!" Here's a little about the song.

    Horatio Spafford wrote "It is Well With My Soul" as his ship passed the point where all four of his daughters were lost in a shipreck which his wife survived. The peace of God overshadowed his sorrow, and thus the opening verse of the song:

    When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    when sorrows ilke sea billows roll—
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

  7. What a delightful post, reminding us that God's light can shine through us just in a smile! My mother lives in a nursing home. Much of my ministry there is for her, yet the pats on the shoulders, the "Hello, Mrs. ... " or "Hi, Mr. ..." , the hugs, the picking up of a shoe that has fallen off, or any little time spent with these precious folks, no matter what condition they are in really makes a day...not only for them but for me!
    I want to thank you for giving this ministry a 'name'! Smile Ministry! I love it!
    ~ linda

  8. Love the smile ministry!!! I've felt led over the past few months to look for opportunities to bless others when I'm out and about-whether it be in friendly conversation - complimenting them or asking them about themselves, or allowing them to check out in front of me at the grocery store. It becomes quite addictive! Now I find them when I interract with someone, I seek out the beautiful and verbalize it. Granted, I'd rather comment on

    their inside beauty - but it's kind of hard with strangers. :-) I love feeling God leading me in these brief interractions. I feel so blessed by Him.

    Praying your weekend is FULL of opportunities to take lots of LONG drinks of HIM. :-)

  9. Linda, we used to visit the kids' Granny in a nursing home 2-4 times a week. The very presence of children lit up the faces of the residents. If the kids stopped and smiled, and exchanged a touch, I think it made their whole day. Absolutely amazing how powerful small gestures can be. God will surely bless you richly for the love you extend as you visit your mother.

    Amy Jo, I'm good at the smiling. I have to work more on being in less of a hurry so I take time to listen more often. And you ARE blessed. The great thing about love is that you are blessed in giving it away. And those drinks of living waters? Lots of drinks, and even if few are long, I've been getting them all day long. :-) backatcha!

  10. Anne, I truly appreciate your kind comments... I can feel your smile across the Internet. I have something to show you because your encouragement has meant so much to me. Let me know if it doesn't work for you.

  11. TUC, you are a delight. I did watch this video. I don't remember ever seeing a child with more beautiful eyes than Summer Rain. My tears started slowly, and came in full force at "first smile." I'm honored that you've shared this with me.

  12. I know what you mean about "smile ministry".
    I try to be extra cheerful and smiley in the checkout line at the grocery store. The cashier and the bagger are on their feet all day, and often have to deal with people who have also had a long day and sometimes crabby. Yes, I also try to smile at the people who are shopping. Here is a smile for you :-)

  13. Beautiful blog, and beautiful words! Thanks for visiting my site the other day. :D

  14. Thank you for visiting, Marty. I'm honored to have you stop in. I very much enjoyed your site as well. :D

    May the Lord bless and direct your travels, on the internet and elsewhere.


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