Know what I noticed today? That my smile that I always saw as so imperfect is infectious! My joy shows through!! When I laugh, I laugh from my soul … and the JOY that God fills me with, radiates! Learning to love my “crooked” smile and I will continue to post pics showing my JOY. It is part of who I really am…that growing itch that I will no longer try to keep contained! Warts and all. Blessed!!

Message from my mother: “the fear of human opinion disables.; trusting in God protects you from that. Be AUTHENTIC, let everyone know that you are there / here and everywhere! You are my sunshine your smile brings JOY to us! Proverbs 29:29 (MSG).

Many times in life we allow self doubt to hold us back. I remember all the times in my life that people have criticized my laugh as bring too loud. Too boisterous. Too attention getting. Just plain old too much.

As a child my mother used to ask me to tone it down a notch. Some friends asked me to lower my voice…

My response to my mother used to be, I can’t help it. Its laughter…it comes from inside and EXPLODES! Explodes right up out of me.

As a teenager, I tried to curtail my enthusiasm. Forcing myself to practice the dainty laughter of girlfriends whose giggles I thought cute (I wont name them). I wanted to emulate you, be cute in my laughter…but it wasn’t me.

The older I get the less aware I am of the boisterous nature of my laughter. The more People tell me jokes to see if they are actually funny. A comedian friend has tried material out on me…knowing that if I laugh… They “did” their job! I was once asked if I would be willing to attend a show and simply enjoy a performance… Because the comedian said my laughter was addictive and illicit a joining response!

But even with all that, as I look through my pictures those of me smiling are few and far between. Anyone looking at me would think that I am a serious person rather than the goofy-quirky individual my friends know me to be.

And its all based on perception. Perception of the perceived failings and imperfections caused by a momentary blink of the eye occurrence.

When I was a child I had an accident. I fell while stepping out of a van unto the sidewalk while wearing a long dress. An accident. Either a loved one mistakenly stepped on the train of the skirt, or accident prone me got tangled in the skirt as I stepped down. Either way, the results are the same.

I fell. Face first. Into the sidewalk. Off out of a van. Into cement. Landed teeth crushing under me. Lip bleeding. Teeth shattering. Jaw hurting. Dentist visit to pull those teeth that had no remedy… Loss of 8 teeth. Simultaneously.

Baby teeth at least.

But they grew in skewed… And my dentist suggested waiting till all my adult teeth grew in before “fixing” my smile.

I have spent years covering my smile with my hand, not taking smily pictures, hiking up my long skirts as I walk, or wearing short skirts to avoid potential falls.

But God made me a joyful person.

And my grown up self is taking back EVERYTHING the enemy has tried to take from me…I reclaim my smile. I will reclaim it in pictures. I will reclaim all of my JOY. Recognizing it for what it is.

A gift from God.