Keep smiling

“Why can’t I smile?” This is the question I asked my doctor late last year thinking she would have a medical explanation. I supposed that the reason was just facial muscles or something.

When doing tests on me early in the process, she discovered I was not able to properly raise my eyebrows due to cranial nerves that control my forehead being impaired. I’d try to raise them but they wouldn’t go up, just kind of flickered up and down like a person doing google eyes at someone. It was one of the first indications she had that there was a problem…..a big problem.

Months into my challenging journey, I literally couldn’t smile. I looked like an exhausted four-year-old at Disneyland who’s had enough of pictures and is just smiling with their teeth and not their whole face. I couldn’t smile because…

A smile comes from within. It’s not something intense suffering produces. I couldn’t! Yes, I could show my teeth but my eyes stayed hollow and the sparkle was gone.

I thought maybe, just maybe my smile muscles weren’t working and my doctor needed to know this but really it was my emotional muscles that were broken. Not physical.

On some of my most difficult TBI days, my beautiful daughter would walk through the room and flash me her dazzling smile, lighting up my soul with rays of hope.

She said nothing.

But she smiled!

Her smile cheered me on. It was her way of saying “I love you mom, keep fighting, you’re doing good!”

Those smiles cost nothing but were everything to me.

They reflected God’s love.

I knew then, I was indeed going to be okay. I could feel His smile through her.

In a world of frowns…we as believers in Jesus can smile. It’s a powerful way of witnessing as to where our joy comes from. Our joy comes not from outward circumstances but from knowing His love, hope and peace.

A few months ago, I told the receptionist at my doctor’s office how much I appreciate her sweet smile every time I’m being checked in. It gives me something to look forward to and she has such a sweetness in her face that makes me smile back and fills my day with hopeful gladness.

Every time I see a stranger I give them a smile…and you know what? They always smile back and then the room fills with an atmosphere of light, love and happiness.

I don’t remember when I didn’t feel pain in my head and it’s not easy to keep smiling, but I still force myself to smile, through the pain. I smile so my family feels happier. I smile because God is so good. I smile because I’m grateful and learning to find happiness in the little things. I smile because I’m happy!

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing today, smile and spread the light, joy and happiness of God to everyone you meet. It just may happen to be the only smile they receive today. It could be they needed that smile more than you can ever possibly know.

My beautiful girl flashing her sweet smile

A Time To Heal

About one year ago, I went to an eye specialist because of the extreme light sensitivity and pressure in my eyes. After examining my eyes and conducting numerous tests he concluded they were healthy but I was in need of special lenses for the glare and light sensitivities. He also told me from his experience with brain injury that it would take a “long time” for my brain to heal. He said this with big eyes to add emphasis to his words.

I could only think at that moment, “I hope he’s wrong!” I didn’t get it. I didn’t want to get it.

Who has time to heal nowadays? I certainly don’t. There’s too much to do with four kids, a home to run, and every day life with all it’s constant demands. Having an impatient nature and a type A personality wasn’t helping matters either. Yet….

The brain heals slowly.

I’ve dedicated hours of researching and reading information about brain injury and the time required for it to heal. Most doctors say 12-24 months but did my brain get that memo? Some may take years upon years to heal like Jennifer Barrick who is still healing 10 years after her horrible car wreck. She has made huge progress but still requires lots of TLC and therapy for her injury. Also, Michelle Munt from the UK who is still healing three years after her accident that required airlifting to the Royal London Hospital in England, with a serious injury most people don’t recover from. She still suffers from many symptoms daily.

No two brain injuries are like. Because of the complexity of the human brain and the fine tuning required for the neurons to heal, some will heal faster than others.

It’s seems to me in our fast paced society that we AREN’T accustomed to allowing our bodies time to heal. We want bandaids and quick shots of this or that.

The beauty of God’s word says there is a season and a TIME for every purpose under the sun….later it says A Time To Heal. God wants us to know that He has created us fearfully and wonderfully in His own image. We are His works of art, and His masterpiece. Our bodies are beautifully designed to heal. Healing is a gift to us. God says in His word, there IS a time to heal. Sadly, we don’t want to take the time to heal because we don’t want healing to take time.

Some brain inuries may take decades to heal or even a lifetime. Some may only heal to a point.

I struggle with thoughts like, “Am I going to heal? Will I be back to my old self again? I will never be the same.”

I have to give it over to God constantly. It’s too hard to try to glimpse into my perceived scenarios of the future. I must take one day at a time. When I give my worries over to the Lord, it gives me a sense of peace. I can envision a cardboard sign with each and every fear I feel written on it, sitting at the foot of the cross where Jesus calls me to cast my burdens.

Trusting in God’s perfect timing is my hope.

Psalm 31:15 says; My times are in thy hand..

That verse is so freeing to me because my healing and the time my body needs to heal aren’t up to me, but to God. There are plenty of things I can do to enhance my healing but really, it’s in His hands. He wants me to work at eating right, rest, get loads of sunshine, take my supplements, keep my appointments, etc. But actually, He is the one blessing those means which my body is using to recover. He wants me to trust Him and rest in His perfect timing for my brain to heal.

Will my family and friends be around after I’m healed? Some will. Some have already drifted away. Yet Jesus will be here because He will stay by my side during the process and be faithful to complete in me the good work He’s already begun. I’m trusting as far as timing goes that my times and healing are all in His magnificent and wonderful hands.