The Secret Was in Her Smile

I came across a picture years ago of a Christian woman living in a refugee camp in Myanmar (formerly Burma).

She was squatting on a dirt floor; the walls of her home empty canvas rice bags. Few possessions and no adornment could be seen.

But amid the squalor, the picture captured something else—her radiant smile.


An unknown sister a world away showed me where true contentment lies. #contentment, #Christ, #perspective, #joy


You could see in her eyes the pure joy she lived.

Where was it coming from? Surely from nothing seen.

I know her stooped back must ache, the struggle with cleanliness and the lack of necessities a constant reality.

Yet, here she was looking beyond her circumstances to the joy she found in Christ Jesus—and communicating to me that all is well.




Glasses of Negativity


You see, it wasn’t that long ago I used to wake up wearing glasses of negativity and despaired over my unmet needs: no light from a switch, no water from a faucet, no vacuum (is that a need?), and no car of my own.


Blessings, it seemed, were few.


Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. James 4:3


How often do we lament our daily trials, yet overlook our many blessings?


How often do we allow our physical state of affairs to dictate our spiritual response?


I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was guiding me through a set of life circumstances especially tailored for my personal growth and dependence on Him.


Without these hardships, would I have grown to rely on God alone?


Without these difficulties, would I have been content to stay as I was?


And aren’t hardships relative, anyway? I mean, I may have dirt on my floor, but her floor IS dirt.

If she can smile—how dare I not?



We want to live a happy Christian life. But our negative perspective gets in the way. How do others worse off than we smile at hardships? #perspective, #Christ, #joy, #contentment



I’ve since repented from the squalor of my ungrateful attitude and awoke to the simple fact that no “thing” can take the place of the peace God gives.

No “thing” is worth my salvation.



For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Matthew 16:26



This woman was showing me with her smile that Christ is her white linen tablecloth; He is her cherry wood cabinets and state-of-the-art range. He is her hardwood floors and decorated walls. (Christ is the beauty we desire to behold.)



She was showing me with her smile the secret of a contented life.



The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant. Psalm. 25:14



Trickle at My Kitchen Sink


My physical circumstances have changed somewhat since I looked upon that picture: I drive an old truck (thank you, God), use solar and oil lamps in my desert cabin (thank you, God), and have a gravity-feed water faucet that gives me a fat trickle at my kitchen sink (thank you again, God).

And although I still don’t have a vacuum nor the power to run it (a reality of off-grid living), instead of bemoaning my sorry existence, I’ve learned to smile as I squat on my rug with dustpan and broom to sweep the ever-present dirt that is there.


God’s Spirit is like that—giving you the power to change your heart even when your reality stays the same.


God revealed to me a secret in my dear sister’s smile—that contentment lies not in the façade of an ideal home, but in the spiritual foundation of my heart, which is Christ.


Oh, dear sisters, may we all come to the place where we can squat on a dirt floor and praise God!





Abiding in the Vine,

~ Gleniece 



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The post “The Secret Was in Her Smile” was first published on Desert Rain.

Lone poppy photo credit: Craig Sunter,  Survivor ! via photopin (license)

Additional photo credit: Eyeglasses via photopin (license)

About Gleniece

Writer/Editor at Desert Rain and Desert Rain Editing. Happy wife, homeschool mom, Bible study-er. Lover of wine and chocolate. Ever thankful for the gift that is Christ.

If you enjoyed this, please share or connect.


  1. Susan says

    Gleniece, I just loved this post! How true is this?!—that contentment lies not in the façade of an ideal home, but in the spiritual foundation of my heart, which is Christ.
    I find contentment is a constant struggle for me, It’s not so much my physical desires, but more so the constant struggles I deal with that cause me to grumble and be unthankful. Thank you for sharing a lovely post and reminder of finding joy in Christ alone.

    • Gleniece says

      Hello, Susan. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. When I find myself slipping into a discontented attitude I must quickly pray for strength to overcome it. Because yes, it’s so easy to allow burdens or things we wish were different to weigh us down. But God knows our needs and will provide just the right thing at the right time. Thank you for visiting me today.

  2. Jennifer - The Deliberate Mom says

    Oooh, I love the sentiments in this post – and the photos are gorgeous. Thankfulness and contentment, they go hand-in-hand… I’m praying for that in the new year.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.

    • Gleniece says

      You’re quite welcome, Jennifer! I’m glad you liked this. I need to pray often for thankfulness and contentment because if I don’t, it’s far too easy to start grumbling.
      Thank you for hosting the #SHINEbloghop.
      I hope your day is lovely, too.

  3. Ruthie Gray says

    Man, that is one FAT trickle of water you’ve got there. I love everything about this post. Simple, yet stating a very deep truth. The verse in Psalms was a balm to my soul. I like your site and pics too.
    I’m so very glad you joined us for Tuesday Talk, friend! I’d love to learn more about your interesting life! Thanks for always being so supportive and the little Tweets and such. Would you mind leaving a link back to Tuesday Talk so you can be considered in the entry to be featured? You never know…:)

    • Gleniece says

      What a nice surprise to see you here, Ruthie. Thanks. Yep. That’s all the water that flows, but, hey, at least in not lugging it from a river somewhere on my back or having to walk five miles to get some. We really are blessed here.
      I’m glad you appreciated my post. That means a lot. I did add your Tuesday Talk button on my favorite link-ups page right after I linked up with you. Will that do?
      Thanks again for stopping by.

  4. jwiebel says

    Thank you for sharing with us at Sitting Among Friends on Wednesdays. Glad to connect with you. So often in our lives we measure our success or our faith or God’s faithfullness to us by our circumstances. I think it is because we have so much. We forget God doesn’t’ measure us by our success but solely by His love for us. Thank you for sharing, we are not our circumstances or current feelings about that but we are children of the great King.

    • Gleniece says

      You’re welcome, Jaime. I’m so glad we are not “our circumstances or our current feelings about that”, because I would always be a wreck if that were the case. But God has called us to something greater than this. Yes, so thankful we are children of the great King!
      I’m glad to have connected with you, too.
      Have a beautiful day.

  5. Laura Thomas says

    Thanks so much for sharing this powerful message. A beautiful secret. I’ll be counting my blessings as we begin this brand new year. Stopping by from Thought Provoking Thursday 🙂

    • Gleniece says

      Hello there, Laura. Yes, I’m counting mine, too.
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. You have a wonderful evening.

  6. inspiredbyjune says

    A lesson well learned, Gleniece! and such an inspiring post to share with all of us! I’m so glad I found you through the Grace & Truth link up today! Have a blessed week!

    • Gleniece says

      Thank you, June. I still have so much to learn (and sometimes I have to re-learn the same things for a while!), but God is faithful to finish the work He has started in me.
      I’m so glad you stopped by. I hope your week is blessed too!

  7. Maria from Collecting Moments says

    Such an inspirational post, Gleniece and one that truly puts life in perspective. It’s a great reminder that we should be grateful for the simple things in life, and not so much yearn for things we don’t need. Beautiful message, indeed. Thank you for sharing it on #Shinebloghop this week 🙂

    • Gleniece says

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Maria. Being grateful doesn’t come to us naturally (think Israelites!), but thanks be to God’s indwelling Spirit in us, all things are possible.
      Have a wonderful evening.

  8. tanya says

    Oh I wrote a comment and it didn’t seem to post, hope this does…I loved this post and being grateful for the small stuff is so very important in our walk with Christ. great post lady Gleniece

    • Gleniece says

      It didn’t post because I hadn’t moderated your sweet comment fast enough–I was in the middle of doing dishes with my fat trickle of water. It can be a slow, patience building chore. We all have them, don’t we?
      Thanks for sticking with me. 🙂

  9. tanya says

    I couldn’t agree with you any more lady Gleniece . It is such a struggle to just be content with what you have and live that dream life, when you come short of it you feel ‘less’ but thanks be toGod who gives us grace even in our ungrateful state!…I pray to live a more grateful life

    • Gleniece says

      You are so right, Tanya. God’s mercy is rich towards us when we repent. His mercy never fails.
      Thank you for dropping by. Love to you.

  10. Elizabeth Meyers says

    Beautiful thoughts. I long to be like Paul and learn to be content in plenty or in need. I’m not there yet! But God’s not done with me yet.

    • Gleniece says

      Nor me, Elizabeth. I still struggle. But as we cast our cares upon our heavenly Father, our struggles become less me-centered. When things get especially difficult, I remember He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. I cling to that.
      Thank you for your kind words. It’s wonderful to have you visit me.

  11. Hannah Scarlett Smith says

    Beautiful words… I so want to have my heart shaped to be like that: joyful and thankful for all that I do have, content in all circumstances, and with eyes focused in the spiritual realm, rather than physical.

    • Gleniece says

      So true, Hannah. I know when I stop comparing my life with others, my eyes are opened to my true wealth: Christ.
      I’m glad you stopped by. Thank you.

  12. laura says

    Just look at your beautiful blue flowers in your header! I feel right at home here. And this?
    “This woman was showing me with her smile that Christ is her white linen tablecloth; He is her cherry wood cabinets and state-of-the-art range. He is her hardwood floors and decorated walls.”
    Oh, yes. He is the all in all. So grateful for this reminders to leave behind the STUFF today. Following this season of excess, I am needing this. Thank you.

    • Gleniece says

      What a joy to have you here, Laura.
      I’m so thankful God was right there waiting patiently for me to follow His lead. We, indeed, are blessed by a merciful and mighty God.
      Hope your evening is touched by the light of His love.

  13. holyvacationqueen says

    This is so beautiful. It really touches my heart. I’ve also learned through trials how our true home is in God, without which we’d surely be homeless even in a mansion. Your story of the refugee woman is simple and stunning. I recall visiting a shack of a woman in Tijuana..she was the happiest person I ever met. It was so striking to me coming from America. I’m so glad I stopped by. I’m visiting from Laura Boggess’ linkup..

    • Gleniece says

      Thank you, holyvacationqueen. May I call you Queen?
      Isn’t it amazing how those much worse off than we can find peace in their every day, yet we struggle having so much more?
      I’m so glad you stopped by, too. Thank you.
      Have a beautiful evening.

  14. Carrie says

    Oh yes, how easy it is to see all we do not have and forget all that He has given us – hope in Christ! I love how you wrote God tailored the circumstances specifically for you. What a Great God we have! Thank you for this reminder as we begin a new year!

    • Gleniece says

      Hello, Carrie. Thank you for your sweet comment.
      I sometimes struggle to stay positive in my disheveled world, but when I fix my gaze upon God and His truth, the struggle loosens its grip and the gratitude flows.
      Thank you for visiting me here.
      Have a blessed day.

  15. Raising Samuels says

    Amen! Too many times we do get negative, and forget to see the blessings all around us! Thanks so much for sharing with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you link up again this week 🙂

  16. Carol says

    Love this post! When we are attentive to God’s work in our life we can only give thanks! Your photos are beautiful and well chosen for this post. I am visiting from Word of God Speak. Blessings in this New Year!

    • Gleniece says

      Thank you for your kind words, Carol. Yes, even when the outside of our life is ugly, our inside can shine like jewels because of our faith in a holy God.
      Great to have you here! Hope to see you again.

  17. Karlene says

    Gleniece, I’ve been to Myanmar…more than once. I know that smile…and the emotions it brings on. Love the Burmese people and that they challenge me to live differently. Happy New Year!

    • Gleniece says

      So happy you stopped by, Karlene!
      Wow, what a blessing that must have been for you to witness their joy firsthand. It sure puts things into perspective for us here, doesn’t it?
      Thanks so much for your comment. Love to you.


  1. […] I was reading posts from last week’s linkup, enjoying them all, appreciating how God can speak to so many places in my own heart, from these wonderful bloggers who linkup here each week. The very next post I looked at was titled, “She Was Showing Me the Secret.” […]

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