by Debbie Browne

On July 3rd, I woke up with the left side of my face swollen. So, I thought. However, by the time I met family for breakfast, it felt like I had Novocain after extensive dental surgery.

For years, I’ve dealt with high blood pressure. I was shocked to realize I probably had a stroke, as my reflection … my usual symmetrical smile … was growing to became anti-symmetric.

I grabbed my purse to head to the ER where I was to enjoy a fun 4th of July with family.

Soon the doctor shared, “You haven’t experienced a stroke; but, you do have Bell’s palsy.”

I have what? She continued, “It is a temporary paralysis which effects one side of your face. It should go away within 3 weeks up to a year and a half.”

A year and a half of an awkward smile? I don’t think so … it’s now been 4 months.

The condition of being disfigured is humbling. It’s forced me to rely more on Jesus and to have compassion for those who face noticeable physical differences every day.

It has liberated me to learn to smile with my heart.

But, the biggest lesson occurred last night when I least expected one to come.

Balancing trick or treaters, watching the World Series, and working on the final details of the first Butterfly Bash fundraiser in Austin was a stretch for me to keep mentally focused on the priorities at hand.

Ring, ring, ring! Knock, knock, knock! Indication that something awaited me on the other side of the door; a herd of kids demanding candy.

I held the huge bowl out in front of me and watched the candy piranhas feast. Yet, one little girl stood out in the crowd.

She stood motionless in a pretty little pink princess dress staring a hole through me with no expression.

No doubt she spotted my crooked smile.

Her fixation was chilling. I broke her trace with a crooked smile.

The moment was as if none of the others were around us as she spoke words from her little heart, “You are so beautiful.” I replied with a confused look as she said again, “No, you really are beautiful.”

I almost dropped the candy bowl as I realized God just winked at me when I least expected Him to by using this little angel to speak directly to my insecurities.

Not knowing her name or having the opportunity to ever see her again, I realized as she slowly walked away to join the others … she was the angel I needed during this time of healing.

As I watched her slowly walk away to join her friends, she turned to confirm her words with a gentle smile.

Isn’t it so like God to give us what we need – but only when we really need it?
Whatever challenge you’re facing today expect Him to use others and total strangers to show His love.

Then, pay it forward by allowing Him to be His wink to others, too.

You never know how that moment, which money can’t buy, can change someone else’s thoughts about their day and insecurities.


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