A SMILE is worth a thousand words

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Thatta girl, Minnie Mouse, smile! Smile! Smile away.

Whether everything always seems quite so hunky-dory, or not, whether Mickey’s in trouble or not,  Minnie still pulls herself together and stands hopefully and blissfully smiling away.  Why?  Because just the very twinge of hope that happens when you take that tiny effort to smile, gives both yourself and others a sense of peace that it’s gonna be okay.  It sure makes ol’ Mickey feel relief to see her smiling, and an extra boost to keep going on whatever mission he’s got planned with his crew to solve their latest conundrum.  And I’m quite sure that this little cutie pie, Minnie, feels a little more like her ol’ self after a good deep breath and a little flash of that grin we all love and know.  What is it about that little old smile?

It’s just a cartoon.

I know this.

I haven’t completely lost my mind. 😉

But, she kinda reminds me of myself sometimes.  Yet, I’m neither a cartoon… or a mouse.

For me, I’m wife and mother of 5, trying her darndest too kick cancer’s butt for the second time… yet somehow today,  I relate to Minnie Mouse.  Go figure.

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My smile can be my best weapon, and sometimes thwarts me.  No matter how incredible or horrible I’m feeling, I guarantee you, I’ll have a smile on my face.  My eyes may not be very twinkly when I’m really in some pain, but I always feel like smiling.  It’s just a thing.  It’s genuine.  But can be pretty confusing to docs in an ER, surgeons post op, nurses taking care of me, or even mere acquaintances that see me and say “I was gonna ask how you’re feeling, but you seem to be feeling much better, I guess, right?”  The smile is confusing.   I just love people.  When I see people, it’s like social morphine.  It warms my heart and I’m happy to see them.  Even nurses and doctors whom I’ve never met.  Hence… I smile.

I inherited an incredibly large smile.  I have teeth for days.  Not like a shark or anything, although sometimes one might want to start linking me to a great white once my molars start making their presence known quite visibly when I laugh!  And, mind you,  it’s always a good day when I spend it laughing.  Laughter, I always believe is the best medicine (and exercise).  Side Note: The laughing exercise plan is something I can definitely stick to more than the regular 5 days a week gym plan.  I’m all over it a good 7 times a week multiple times a day, if not all day.  Great for the abs!  And if it causes you to laugh so hard you snort a drink out through your nose, then score! Now you’ve cleared your sinuses, too! Win -Win!   …  Now with this whole gargantuan-grin situation comes a unique ability to smile or laugh in most situations. Whether appropriate or not. You kinda have to.  With teeth this size, it’s more comfortable to expose them than to just keep em in all day.  It’s actually exhausting.  Ha!

No seriously.  I grew up laughing a lot with my family.  Finding the positive in most situations,  and no matter how tough times every got (and we definitely have seen our share of some very rocky roads),  we found reason to and comfort in our smile.  Sometimes not in that very moment.  Sometimes, the graces to see the silver lining came later.  But they always came.

Praise God, though,  that that Big Guy upstairs  has blessed me to find much to grin about, even now.   Even in our toughest moments, when we’re digging for every last source of GRIT and strength we can rally, we can look at one another and say, “THANK YOU THAT WE HAVE EACH OTHER TO KEEP US STRONG.  TOGETHER, WE’RE DOING THIS THING.”

And that, my friends, can make me smile at the end of some of my very toughest days.

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Right now,  I must admit,  my treatment has felt harder than it’s felt in a very, very long time.  It’s wearing on me physically, and been very taxing on my immune system.  By adding these extra 4 rounds after my initial 6 rounds for this current diagnosis,  it’s as though I ran a full marathon, got to the end and they moved the finish line up another 20 miles saying, “Just keep running, Mama, you can totally do this!”  To say the least, my body started hitting a wall a little ways back, and my energy for the most basic things has been pretty low.

My kids can see it,  and I can see how it’s affecting them as they watch their Mommy get sick more often and tired on most days.  You’d never know it, because they, like their mama, have a generally happy face and love to laugh, and every chance they get to enjoy and live life they do.  But periodically, especially as of late, it takes just the slightest thing to make them break.  It may happen at school or at a store, who knows. Emotions are unpredictable like that.(Happened randomly for my 12 year old at school while taking photo booth pics in the cafeteria.  It was over something silly, but it was just the straw that made my toughest nut crack, and crack she did. Much to my poor girl’s dismay).  Each of them are having their moments.  To much surprise for those around them, as they seem like every other kid, until they crack.  And why wouldn’t they?  It’s been an incredibly long haul.  They’ve seen their long blonde haired mama, in good health since August 2014.   I gotta give it to my kiddos, and to that AMAZING HUBBIE of mine,  because they are giving this crazy life of ours everything they’ve got and are heads above the rest in learning how to love and show love unconditionally in ways that most their age couldn’t imagine.

Yet if we have to do this, then that’s my prayer.  That we come out stronger.

That we live and love and laugh all the way through this.

I my kids grow up to love deeper and with a strength like no other.

That we continue to cry when we need to,  be quiet when we need to, and SMILE and laugh till our gut hurts whenever  we possibly can, all the way through all of this.

Because it’s healthy.

And as for me, when  I can gather up any and every ounce of energy that I have,  I pray to pour it all into whatever big or tiny event I attend (my apologies, but lately I’m being pretty picky in my  choosing first and foremost those with hubbie and kids) and go out with gusto to seize that moment for all it’s worth.)  And do it all with one BIG FAT SMILE!

Why?

Not because my smile is EVER phony, or “put on”.

But because I find happiness in it.  It lifts my spirit to smile.  It makes me feel like “ME”.

Did you ever notice that when you smile, others smile back?  Boom! Another reason.

The gift that keeps on giving.

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Leaving you all with “SMILE” by NAT KING COLE (How I love his velvety voice!) that’s been stuck in my  head for the past 2 weeks…

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(click on pic above for YOU TUBE VIDEO OF “SMILE” by Nat King Cole)

God bless you all.  Keep praying, keep smiling, keep on trucking’ and …

...every little thing’s gonna be alright.

It’s just gotta be.

Cuz’ I know we’ve got one FIERCE GOD up there who’s all over this.

Much love,

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Someone’s Listening: Hearing God in the Quiet of My Thoughts, Prayers, and Writing…

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As much as I like to jibber-jabber, my deepest thoughts and ramblings always seem to come together best when I write it down.  Much of my writing is personal, between me and God.  Every now and then, I share what I write beyond my little bond with the Big Guy upstairs.

Lately, I’ve had a major case of writer’s block.

I’m not just talking about my posts here on my blog.  I mean a contagious case of writer’s block that spilled over into my prayer and journal time, too.  Quite honestly, my thoughts have been so scattered that I just haven’t known what to say.

So even I, a girl with a pretty big mouth, have been oddly quiet.  Each morning, I sneak down stairs (creeping to just the right spot on every other step to avoid the noisy steps that wake whole house) to read a morning devotional or two and follow it up with a good long silence, listening for God.

Now, there’s a difference between hearing and listening.  At least, this is the way I used to explain it when I taught elementary school.  When you hear, your voice is quiet, your ears are open and you can repeat back the sounds in the air.  But, when you listen…  not only is your mouth quiet and your ears open, but your mind is focused on what you’re hearing.  You’re actively engaged to the voices and sounds around you.

That’s the thing.  I’ve been praying an awful lot.  I’ve been talking less and wanting to hear  God; yet, I haven’t been engaged in what He really had to say.  My thoughts were still wandering into what could be, should be, and might be… and frankly, it’s kept me 100% distracted and deaf to anything He’s had to really tell me.

As many of you know, I’m an incredibly positive person, always looking for the silver lining and hoping to the joy and laughter to my kiddos and anyone else I meet.  I can turn into the Stewart Smalley (SNL character) of life.  I like it that way.

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Yet even Stewart Smalley has bad days.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that lately, I’ve been so scattered in my thoughts that I’ve morphed in and out of a schizophrenic hodge podge of SNL personalities.   Mostly on account of my being just plain TIRED.

I’ve been exhausted from the current chemo that I’m on (just completed round 4) and all of its side effects, generally wiped from still recovering physically from the last time I went through all of this, and emotionally wiped from the ups and downs of tests and scans and holding my breath, waiting for good reports.  Every time I seem to get a handle on combatting one physical challenge, it seems like a new side effect seems to be lurking around the corner in the next round.

(insert next SNL character change…)

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With each round, I’ve been putting all of my physical strength and focus in to staying involved with my kids,  throwing everything I’ve got into having fun with my family in all of our holiday traditions and celebrating,  being present to my friends who need a listening ear or friend to be there in support and prayers, and rally anyone and everyone to help in spreading HOPE, JOY, LOVE, & LAUGHTER through our non-profit: BUNA’S HOPE (Which I can’t wait to update you on.  It’s been incredible to watch the community rally, see over 100 “Buna Boxes” packed and sent out to families in need, and raise funds for further blessings!).

But this gal has been flip floppin’ back and forth, in my mind, through all the possibilities of what could be if maybe my treatment wasn’t working quite as well as we’d hoped for.  I’ve been bracing myself to handle any results from the next PET scan.

Frankly,  it’s left me feeling heavy hearted.  That usual “pep in my step” has only been around for my friends and family. For me, on my own,  I’ve been dragging my feet in my prayers like a real “Debbie Downer.”

(cue next of my sketch comedy personality switches)

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What a drag!

Even I’ve been rolling my eyes at my own inner voice.

So finally, as Advent began just recently,  I told my voice to “can it” as best as I could and remembered the difference between hearing  and  listening.   I’ve gotten pretty sick of hearing my Debbie Downer what if’s and was ready to engage in listening  to God’s voice instead.  And I’m pretty darn sure that God was relieved.   I haven’t exactly been a party!

It’s been time to put away the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s and engage in active, unceasing, prayer.   If I do say so myself,  I’m pretty good at battling all the physical stuff, putting my best foot forward and keeping my spirits up to enjoy my family and friends… but my spiritual battle techniques have needed a little work.  But whatever I’ve had to give, I’ve recently asked God to take (for what it’s worth) in an offering for whatever way He could bless me in return, however He wanted to do it.  It was time to live in the moment in prayer.

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The most reassuring part of it all, has been that I have had no doubt in my mind that I’ve not been alone in my prayers.

So we’ve prayed.

And we’ve listened.  

And we’ve prayed some more.

Well guess what!

SOMEONE’S BEEN LISTENING.

That same SOMEONE has been answering prayers, and just this week, it was time for me to  hear his answer.

On Monday morning I had a PET scan to see where we were with treatment.  Just a few weeks prior, I’d had a CT scan that showed some improvement  in my lungs and chest wall, but nothing yet in my liver.  Now, while in the middle of what has felt like my toughest round, physically and emotionally, I was scanned again.  So much has been riding on this scan for me.

Yesterday, on Tuesday, I got a text from my fave pirate oncologist and friend (Dr.Jay Saux) saying that there was “DRAMATIC POSITIVE CHANGE!!!”  

What?!?!  Are you kidding me?!  Not just a little change, but DRAMATIC!  This whole chemo thing isn’t just throwing a rock in the ocean.  We’re making waves!  We’re on the right path.  It’s making a difference.

I received the text while at a red light and stopped in shock, horns a blain’ behind me to start driving again.  I put the phone down and quickly found a parking lot to pull over and process what I just read.

He went on to say how incredibly happy he was for us and that this was clearly evidence of the power of our “midnight prayers around the Christmas tree! So don’t stop now.”  

No worries, Doc!  No way we’re stopping now.  Never!

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So there you have it.  After an forever long case of writer’s block, I’m back to pray, write , and ramble again.  in fact, my hubbie even gave me an early Christmas present of a brand spankin’ new laptop to keep my blog-journaling alive.  Even if I keep some of my rambling posts unpublished between me and God,  I’m sorting out my thoughts again.

Yet now, I’m pausing between monologues to actively listen and engage with God, giving every last paragraph, sentence and word to Him to sort out and edit.  I don’t think I really realized that He actually followed my blog.  He’s been reading and He’s been listening.  He’s actively engaged in my life and He knows every one of my deepest desires, concerns, and random jumbled plans to counter attack the what if scenarios in my brain.

He knows the physical and spiritual battle at hand and He’s already on top of it.

God’s sooooooo got this.

Sometimes I just need to be reminded when He sings those Marley songs in my ears… “Every little thing is gonna be alright.”   He means it.

No matter how many battles I have to fight, no matter how much longer our fight goes on, I have faith that we will WIN THE WAR.    I know it’s not even close to being over yet, but I just heard the pep talk that I needed to get back out on the battle field and

KICK THE HELL OUT OF CANCER’S BUTT! 

Cancer, you’ve gone and messed with the wrong girl.

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And just as we won our last war, we’re reinforcing that armor now.  Just as I gear up with healthy foods, medicines, oils, etc. as my armor and shield,

I’ll never put prayer down as my sword.

God bless you all and thank you for praying UNCEASINGLY with me.   Someone is listening.  Someone is answering. Someone is asking that we DON’T STOP NOW.

I can never THANK YOU enough.

#ForeverGrateful

#GodsGotThis

#IWillRise

#TakeThatCancer

#EveryLittleThingsGonnaBeAlright

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