When you are in the midst of adversity it is so hard to be thankful for what you are going through. This post marks 30 years from my first surgery to my last. Looking back, I never dreamed that being born with a cleft lip would someday be something I would openly share with the world, let alone thank God for. I see now how my journey can be both educational and inspirational and that is why I am taking a break from my usual art and design topics to transparently celebrate the beauty of being different.
This happy chubby lil thing is me, blissfully unaware of my cleft lip and lovin’ life! Though my parents were surprised at my birth with my malformation, they loved me completely and bravely took on caring for my special needs. Today, birth defects are seen in an ultra sound and mothers are often encouraged to kill these babies. What these mothers are not told is that every child is a heritage from the Lord and perfect in His eyes! I am so thankful that I was given the chance to live! I want my life to prove the value of a child with a birth defect.
I know that at times it was very hard on my parents. The financial burden of a normal child is hard enough on the average american family, but having a little girl who needed multiple surgeries, visits to specialists, and major dental work put quite a strain on them. Putting their baby through all the intense treatments was emotionally hard for them as well. However they saw me as: “A gift from God that we’re so proud of “- lyrics from a song my parents made up and sang to me my whole life.
From an early age I was a take-charge and very nurturing child (my siblings might say I was bossy). God also wired me to be an artist; I spent countless hours creating things, painting, and drawing. These attributes were the building blocks of the women I am today. After earning my bachelor’s degree in Commercial Art, I spent six years passionately teaching art to children of all ages. I taught at two christian schools, a homeschool co-op, and held classes in my home studio, which challenged me to combine my love of art with my love of children. My art was always something that gave me purpose and helped heal the part of me that no surgery could.
In a society where a girl’s appearance seems to determine her worth, I continue to struggle to believe that God made me the way I am on purpose and calls me a masterpiece.
The mean names and comments when I started school made me realize for the first time that I was different from the other kids. I still vividly remember a boy in second grade laughing at me and asking, “What’s wrong with your face?” The deep hurt I felt over the behavior of these bullies (who were not only children, but often adults) caused me to become an extreme people pleaser. It took many heartaches for me to realize that a true friend loves you for who you are and not for what you can do for them. As I continue to heal inside and out I am thankful for these lessons. I am learning to use my pain to identify with and to love other hurting people.
My sweet and talented husband encouraged me to write this post and share my story with you. With our little farm as a backdrop, Michael took these recent shots celebrating the completion of my final surgery. I feel so blessed for my wonderful husband and my two little princesses. I am thankful that God loved me and made me, ME!
For the first time I feel beautiful!