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The value of a child’s smile

July 20, 2017

So often I am accused of being “too busy”. I have tried to communicate that there is never a time that I am “too busy” for anyone, yet I choose to “be busy”. I speak of sitting around and watching soaps and eating bon bons but I have yet to experience that very un-stimulating time consumption.

I truly do believe that God planted my feet in this corner of the world for a purpose and I choose to fully commit to it. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t whine and complain about it (ask my husband who has to hear me audibly voice my frustrations with this calling). As Jacob did, I wrestle and argue with God every single day and He often is very quiet at those junctions. I figure at those moments He has just about had enough of me and is trying to decide whether to knock me down with a lightening bolt, a 70 mile an hour flat line wind, or the gas from my pit bull. I get it. I am difficult. I am not smiling through the 11 hour work days onto the additional time of the outreaches and events feeling like there is nothing better to do. There is: a beach, a chair and a beverage that whets my whistle at the sunset.

So that is where God and I end our days. At the beginning of the day, before my feet his the floor I offer prayers of thanks for another day and ask Him to put my hands, feet and heart to work for His purpose. I am eager, I am willing and I am feeling able. That’s at 5am. Then 7:30am comes and I am feeling that I’m too old for these shoes and need to inquire about the retirement plan.

This brings me to last night.

Or to 11 years ago.

Eleven years ago I decided to act on a need I had become aware of. I heard of too many kids here in our corner of the world who were not able to be treated to a birthday party that celebrated their wonderful existence and being. There would be no possible way to celebrate each and every one of their Birthdays, however, we could celebrate their “UnBirthday”!!! Every one of us has 1 birthday and 364 “UnBirthdays”. We should be celebrating life each and every day of the year!

I want you to know that last night we celebrated the 11th Annual Hope and Friendship UnBirthday Party and once again it truly was that. It was each and every one of our UnBirthdays and NOT one of our Birthdays. ELEVEN YEARS of that coincidence makes it truly not a coincidence in my notebook.

Partnering with Calvary Church in Lemont for each and all of the celebrations has been a true treat and blessing. The kids are treated to food, cake/cupcakes, games, crafts, a Kid’s Shop (where they get to make their own “goodie bag” of personal need and fun items donated by YOU), and for the past 6 years they also have enjoyed the gift of a bouncy activity. Last night was a bouncy obstacle course that was almost worn out from kids running from one end to the other, laughing, bouncing, climbing, and enjoying the bejeebers out of it. The smiles were ear to ear and from beginning to end the whole night long.

Inside custom bracelets were being made, faces and arms were being painted, kids were “shopping” for goodies, food was being enjoyed, cupcakes were being decorated, superhero masks were being made and attention, love and compassion was being poured out from all of us “bigger kids” who were blessed to be present on this night. We were able to be privileged to hear the laughter, receive the “thank you’s” and see the smiles. Oh what a privilege it was to see the smiles.  Oh what a blessing it is to have persons who donate food, items and funds, toward this outreach to make those smiles appear.

When I arrived home 15 ½ hours from the time I left home in the morning I was not feeling frustrated, irritated, overworked or underpaid after having put in a full day of work at two jobs and then onto this event to cap the day off.  Rather I was being blessed to be given the overtime pay of 20+ kid’s smiles who were so excited to be celebrated on this special night. I drove some of the kids home and knew that a few were going back to unsettled homes with financial, emotional or physical trials hanging heavy over the heads of their parents and though I can not change that situation, for one night I could change the disposition and spirit of a child who needed to feel loved and celebrated, and that is what we did.

So the next time I hear someone refer to me as “too busy” I will not be insulted, I will be reminded that I am not here to occupy my time with anything but smiles. If I we can put our hands, feet and hearts to task on creating outreaches and events that put smiles on the faces on children and adults who are in deep and painful chapters of their lives, than isn’t that better than any other way we can consume an hour or a few hours of our day? After another night of seeing those priceless “smile” paychecks I will say a definite YES and I look forward to the next opportunity to do it again.

Visit or email me for more opportunities to put your hands, feet and hearts to work and be paid plentifully in smiles!!!!

Wishing you peace, love and smiles,

Terri O’Neill-Borders





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