This has become my monthly uniform. If you’re a reader, you’re familiar with it…
“THE CHEMO NINJA: CANCER ASSASSIN”
(Thanks to a friend who so kindly dressed me in the coolest shirt ever, which I sport for every single week 1 of each Chemo Round. Thank you very much, Sara Jambon!
But, one cannot be a Chemo Ninja if she doesn’t first practice the art of the PRAYER WARRIOR
It’s not through fancy moves as one would expect. My experience has involved much more unusual, Mr.Miagi-like lessons. Which, in my passion for 80’s pop culture, is rather fitting.
I want to jump right in like Ralph Macchio (aka: “Danielson“) and want God (being Mr.Miyagi in this analogy to just go straight to the big moves, teach me the BIG stuff that I want to know. I’ve got some pretty major things I’m tackling here,
Mr.Miyagi , I mean, God. Can’t you just strike a few bolts of lighting, or teach me how to rubs some miraculous clay over my body and poof, I’m healed and …”bada bing bada boom” I’m outta here! I mean, really, I still gotta be a normal mom and do the basics in al this? You’re not giving me some kinda ultra wham bam ninja moves right now? I feel ya, Ralph Macchio. I mean, what in the world does catching flies with chopsticks, wax on wax off, paint the fence, grumbling prayers through my 3 yr olds dinner table tantrums or losing my business when I wanted to do a family prayer time activity in the evening and everyone was either eating crayons, throwing crayons or jumping off the couch?! In other words, Mama wasn’t the image of peace that she was attempting to share with her kids in her “kid friendly peaceful coloring activity”. Kumbayah? Not so much. Mr.Miyagi would have never taken me as a student. I’d have been one of the punk “Cobra Kai” on the other team. At least I look like it sometimes when I randomly lose my business. 80% Marley-girl, 20% Cobra Kai team from Karate Kid. And it can happen at the drop of a hat. Yuck. Soooo…. I guess that explains why I’m under construction, much like the naïve, misguided, immature Danielson who had a lot of work to do. Mr. Myiagi had all the tools and knew just how to teach him. Just how to show him. And in just the right timing. God’s been throwing every tool in the book at me these days to get me through this whole chemo thing. I wanted to share a few with you all, since so many of you have shared quite a few of these tools with me.
Prayer: My Focus and Balance… Important to any Martial Art
The Invaluable resource of prayer. This is like the “go to”, centering source of power for any “Chemo Ninja” or “Prayer Warrior”. I must pray every morning, noon, and night, and any moment in between. It’s much like learning to balance for “Danieleson”.
Whenever I’m feeling “off”, as though I’ve lost my focus as to what I’m fighting for or even living for, then I know I’m not balanced. I’m not praying. I mean really, really praying. When I have those moments of “losing my business” at family prayer time or any time, really. I have to ask mysel , “Why am I really doing this? Is this for me, for the kids, or is it for God?” It should be for all of the above. But ultimately to serve God above all. And right now, it looks like its a flop. So, like in this picture above, in my mind, I can figuratively climb up on that log and refocus like Macchio, close my eyes for a sec and pray, giving it to God, saying,
“I’m messing this one up… again, God. I give you this moment. I need ya, Lord. Help”
It’s amazing, how, even if you have to do that, through gritted teeth during a heated moment, as I often do, swallowing pride, that God sends grace. Pronto!!
Prayer can happen in quiet moments, for me when I’m journaling (or even blogging) or just before the rest of the house wakes up. We can pray all throughout the day, any time, any place. Pray unceasingly! Whether its conversational prayer to God, or reciting prayers learned. We can so easily get distracted and say, “I don’t have time to pray”. Much like exercise, There’s always time. If it means praying while changing a diaper, doing the dishes, or riding in the car on your way to work, we can fit it in somehow.
The trick for me is that I’m totally ADD in prayer. I’m all over the map. I find it crazy hard to “quiet my mind”. I DO NOT have the mind of a ninja. Or the house of one. HA! My life is chaotic and so is my brain. So what to do about that? This is my personal technique:
1) I breathe in the Holy Spirit, exhale all my distractions and thoughts that aren’t of God, and recite “Jesus” over and over …and over… (sometimes ’til I fall asleep!… not a good one if you’re in public)
2) I Sing a Praise song… in my head if in public. If in my car… I’m belting it at the top of my lungs, y’all!!! Here’s links to two more goodies that I hadn’t shared before:
Singing works best for me, but it’s not for everyone. Running is another real brain clearer for me. Just me and the pavement….and God. What’s yours? Find it. Mr.Miyagi had his bonsai trees. What’s your bonsai?
When we can focus and give ourselves over to Him for even just a moment, He sends us the graces (FREE SHIPPING!) we need for whatever challenge, or blessings that has come our way, right away. Whether we feel it or not.
Sacraments: Nutrition for this Warrior
As I’d mentioned before, I am indeed Catholic. So for me, Sacraments are my food, my water, my oxygen. Danielson’s New York mama didn’t let him run out to the beach or to school without throwing an apple or Pop Tart or something at him for breakfast when he ran out the door covering that black eye, right? (What, too many Karate Kid references??)
We strongly believe in having our kids come with us to church. How else will they learn? Besides, they motivate me to go. We go as a family for sure, every Sunday, and as much as possible any other day that we can. It’s an opportunity that we are blessed to have in our country to practice our faith so freely and go to church any and every day. I forget that. I need to go more. I want to try more. We are blessed.
When I’ve been too sick during this whole chemo thing, our pastor has been such a rock for us, that he got permission from the Archbishop to hold a private mass any Sunday that we’d need it for our family in our home. Our children assist in reading mass parts. It’s beautiful. Again, another blessing and gift. So much to be thankful for!
We go monthly as a fam and, in our cheesy little ways, call it “Pizza and Penance” (Wish we could claim it, but got it from a friend). We bring all the kids. Those that are old enough to go, do, those who can’t, just say some prayers in the pews while we go. After we celebrate with going out for pizza! It takes the gloom and doom or pressure out of it, and puts the celebration of forgiveness and God’s amazing love and mercy into it! Always feels good to take a load off of your chest, pray as a family and, “Hey!”, have an excuse to eat some pizza! Food for the belly, food for the soul. Key for the Ninja/Warrior work out. (Ok, maybe not the pizza?!)
3) Eucharistic Adoration
Aka: “Son-Bathing “in the adoration chapel , is another major fave for our fam, young and old. We are able to kneel, sit, stand, and just hang out before Jesus there in the Eucharist, held in the host, contained in the monstrance. Amazazazing, if you ask me. And so beautiful to watch my kids, look up in awe, saying their prayers. We plan to go for just 5 minutes, giving Jesus a “Holy High 5”, and say a prayer. If you’re too little, draw a picture for Jesus. If you’re older, write a prayer intention. As we leave, we stick them all (often way to many papers have been used) into the intention urn and carry on with our day. Sometimes we make it past our 5 minutes to a whopping 30…sometimes we’re barely their for 4. Either way, we’ve brought our family to feel the rays of Jesus’s supernatural graces, soaking them up so that we can do what we need to do from here on out. We could all use a little. Maybe some a little more than others. No names will be mentioned. 😉 Depends on the day. Oy vey.
My “Sacramentals” on Loan: My Ninja Weapon Arsenal
I will consider these my throwing stars, nunchucks, swords, and whatever other crazy ninja weapons one stealth master might have up his/her sleeve. I’ve been handed some of the most amazing sacramental over the past few months. Some for brief periods, some to stay with us throughout my cancer journey. We pray with them nightly and take precious care of them.
*I feel I must clarify for non-catholics reading. These sacramentals, much like statues of Mary, and the saints, are not idols of worship. Rather, these are sacramentals , holy symbolic icons serving as reminders of who have gone before us, what God has asked of us, and what we are called to do. They help us to focus our prayers, our prayers that ultimately lead to God, worshipping HIM and HIM alone.*
So here they are…..drumroll………..
Gifts for the Ninja in Training
We’ve been blessed with many care packages, some with cards and some anonymous that just show up on our porch. Thank you. Here’s a tribute to a few that we’ve put into our daily family routines.
1) My Armor: My Prayer Shawl
I’m not trying to brag here, but we have been so blessed by having handmade prayer shawls stitched and or knit by praying hands (as each stitch is made, a prayer is said for the receiver) for our family. We have enough now that each family member wraps themselves in a shawl as we do our family prayer time each night, including “Grammmie” (my mom) who is often here for nightly prayers. How cool is that?
Special Thanks to: Mimi Machado Paulus; Betty Visconi and her prayer Group; Laura Roycroft; Deacon Eddie Beckendorf; Pat Enk and The Carmelite Nuns; Mary Engelhardt and Mary Queen of Peace Parish; The Blitz Family
2) For a Sharp and Peaceful Mind of a Ninja: My Wall of Love & Encouragement!
A ninja’s mind is his/her sharpest skill. It is important that I be both peaceful and positive, prepared when going into any attack. Thus, I keep EVERY card and note that is sent our way in a central, key spot in our living room to flip through form time to time. Again, food for the mind, food for the soul.
3) Box of Wonder…
A Ninja/Warrior should be kept on her toes, ready for anything that may lurk around the next corner!
We call them “Saint-spirations”. An Anonymous, generous, lovely, crafty person, gave us this box of colored strips of paper, each with a different quote from a saint upon it. Brilliant! At night, the kids love the excitement of pulling a strip from the box, reading them aloud and we all reflect on what it means to us. It’s like “Saint-roulette”! There’s a risk factor of getting one you didn’t want God to be telling you that day, but you KNEW you needed to hear (God’s funny like that and I’m stubborn like that. That’s our finicky little relationship, like an old married couple, I guess.) or the excitement of hearing something really awesome! I’m all about taking risks. So this is right up my alley!
4) Box of Offerings…
It is important that any warrior travels lightly. In particular, the ninja, correct? Also, the prayer warrior must unload their heavy burdens be it thier own, or the burdens or concerns of others. (See how I’m makin’ this whole analogy work for me? ) Writing our petitions, offerings, or even our troubles and worries down onto paper and “casting them to the Lord” (Philippians 4:6-7), as we toss them into this box to later bring to one of our “Holy High 5s” at the chapel, has become another alternate during our family prayer time. Additionally, when YOU send me your petitions, I jot them down and toss them into this box (along with prayin over them daily, of course. Y’all keep me focused, man!) But knowing that we can cast them to the Lord (because He wants them) and start over (because we always can), feels so good!
5) Remember these Mantras of this Chemo Ninja/Cancer Assassin/ Prayer Warrior:
*Don’t Look forward. Don’t Look back. Stay Right Here….. We live in the present.
*God didn’t give us what we’re not ready for yet.
*If you can’t laugh at yourself or find something worth laughin about, then go back to bed and start over!
And of course…
*”DON’T WORRY ABOUT A THING, CUZ EVERY LITTLE THING….IS GONNA BE ALRIGHT!”-(Bob Marley)
and one last funny