There are a myriad of things I could say about this song, and about this young man, my Championson.

Mike and I knew this kid was special on the day he was born. He entered the world and caught the attention of the labor and delivery team. In the background we heard people saying, “Listen to his cry! He is so peaceful!” and “That is the most peaceful sound I’ve ever heard from a newborn.”
We immediately knew that his name was aptly chosen, and he truly has always been Jeffrey Michael, “Divine Peace, who is Like the Lord.”

Before he was born, and while in the womb, Mike was already praying specific prayers over his son. These prayers developed through the years, continuing daily until Mike’s passing.

Together we prayed:

Heavenly Father,
Send Your angels to watch over us and protect us.
Please give J. Michael
A Healthy Body,
A Happy Heart,
A Teachable Spirit,
A Love for Worship,
A Peaceful Soul,
Patience and Understanding of the world around him.
Give him the Wisdom to know what is right
And the Courage to do it.
Please help him stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves,
And to walk in the Light of Your Son.
J. Michael, You are Safe.
You are Loved.
And It’s in Jesus’ Name we pray,

A Happy Heart, and a teachable spirit.

That was a phrase that our friends Thomas and Shelby Bose prayed over their sons and that our friends Jeff and Shannon Scott and Mike and I grabbed onto for our own children. Out of the myriad of things I wish I could say about this young man and the writing of this song, I absolutely have to zone in on those two words that have become ingrained in the essence of who he is:

Happy. Teachable.

I’ve watched Jeffrey live with a happy heart, and CHOOSE it on purpose when it has been hard. But this year brought the direct hit — a would-be faith assault — and with that hit came the opportunity to collapse into angst and despair. Any “normal 12-year-old” would have, or so it seems. Surely he “had the right to!” Right?

When Mike was taken to the hospital, the kids were staying with close friends. I received this text from my dear friend Stephanie:

“i asked jm before bed if he was worried…thinking i could offer words of comfort if so…his response: ‘no.’ *very confidently* ‘no…i know there’s little chance he will make it out of this. but…i don’t believe in chance…i believe in God.'”

Throughout the hospital days and nights, he prayed for his father with that strong belief. But his dad died anyway. I had no idea what kind of challenge this would become to not only hold my own faith intact, but also that of my children.

This, friends, is where the years and years of choosing “happy hearts and teachable spirits” was set on grand display! And I watched something miraculous rise out of my kids. BECAUSE IT WAS ALREADY PART OF WHO THEY HAD BECOME!

A few weeks after Mike’s earthly departure, J. Michael responded to my nightly question of “How is your heart?” a little differently.

I’ll never forget his words:

“Mom, at first I thought I’d be mad at God for allowing this. I mean, I’m twelve and Sadie is eight. [pause] But then, I realized something; it’s good that if this had to happen anyway that it did happen when I’m twelve and Sadie is eight. If we were older, you would be going through this all alone. But now, you have us.”

These are only a few of SO MANY moments such as these. And it’s not fake. These kids are the real deal; I’m not able to make this happen on my own! An eternal perspective has been sewn into these two God-followers, and they well up with faith and determination that bring hope front-and-center, when I would imagine that they should be rebelling and falling apart.

After Christmas, our friends Mabyn and Daniel [Mabyn is the artist who has flooded our lives with such amazing photos!] gave Jeffrey his first ukulele. On the first day of playing his first uke, he wrote his FIRST-EVER song to start the year, “Smile Away the Tears.”

He had cried with me a few days before that when he told me, “I know God is doing something, but I keep asking Him to make up for this. He has to make up for this, Mom.”

“Me too, J. Michael. Me too. And I believe that He will. He would not have allowed this for nothing. We can keep asking, and rising. That’s what we can do.”

That raw thought and emotion found its way out of his heart and into his song, and it’s probably the line that got to me the most!

So… I share all of this with you to let you know that to “smile away the tears” does NOT mean to fake a happiness that will cause a mental collapse down the road. It does NOT mean to imagine that it’s all okay, ignoring the chaos and sorrow that must be handled and overcome.

What is DOES mean is this: Finding a Happy Heart is choosing to discipline the will, to intentionally place the mind in the seat of HOPE, and then to keep on walking out daily steps of life with a trust that God is up to something bigger than you. Living with a teachable spirit is providing God your soul-canvas on which to watch His miracles become.

So this song is calling us all to “Happy hearts and teachable spirits!”

Because “something big IS going on” and it’s “something nobody could have ever done.”
Thank you, Jeffrey Michael, for providing this incredible song in your darkest night.
You are a Champion.


Full Song Lyrics

Smile Away the Tears

Losing a part of you can be very hard
Something that was right here now is too far
It’s breaking, I’m shaking, I’m burning from the inside
Going through the worst pain makes me realize

That something big is going on
Something nobody could’ve ever done
But I know that I am not alone
And it sure does make me feel strong

To smile away the tears
Smile away the tears

Don’t let sadness become part of you
It may be temporary but it shouldn’t ever be you
You feel like giving up your entire life
But I hope that these words help you realize

That something great is happening
Something you could’ve never seen
And I know that He’ll make it up to you
So here is something to get you through

Smile away the tears
Smile away the tears
Smile away the tears
Smile away the tears

Smile away the tears
Smile away the tears
Smile away the tears
(When you’re shakin’, when you’re breakin’)
Smile away the tears
(Keep your head up, gettin’ better)
Smile away the tears
(When you’re shakin’, when you’re breakin’)
Smile away the tears
(Keep your head up, gettin’ better)
Smile away the tears
(When you’re shakin’, when you’re breakin’)
Smile away the tears
(Keep your head up)

For This Reason I Kneel (I Surrender)
Hold Me Together