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Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Beautiful Life

Last week I had something shake my world. It was so heartbreaking that I couldn’t even talk about it. Through my tears and prayers, God blessed me to open my eyes and heart and consider a different perspective.

With the advancement in medical technology, limb differences or other conditions are often discovered before birth. Doctors offer abortion as an option for limb different children, and some parents choose that option. When I heard this, I became so upset. Reflecting on my own life and scars made the situation personal to me.

While I realize the experience I’m about to share is not the same, I’d like to share it anyway because of the lessons learned.

A few years ago, my family and I welcomed a kitten into our home. We all instantly fell in love with Rex. He captivated us with his loving nature. And then one day, something horrible happened. He started having seizures. We immediately took him to his doctor and received medication to help him. It worked for a while, but the seizures intensified. When they occurred, I cowardly left my husband to deal with them. One night, however, Rex was so bad that we didn’t think he would survive. The seizures happened one after another. My family was asleep and I sat with him. I started to leave him, but then I remembered what my daddy had always told me. “Be there for people when they need you.” Rex needed me. So I knelt by his side, petted him, and talked him through it.

He survived the violent attacks, but his body was so weak. We had to feed him with a syringe. He couldn’t walk and was dazed by it all. One day I walked into the room and found him lying in his litter box with his eyes closed. So I began to talk to him. It looked as if he had decided to give up. I begged and pleaded for him to get up and fight his way back to me. And he did. It took him several attempts to get up, but he managed. Then he staggered out of the box and went to his food and ate a few bites. He showed me another degree of strength.

The worst, however, was not over. Once he regained his awareness, he didn’t remember us and attacked us. He growled and hissed when we walked by him. We were advised to have him put down. And I remembered how hard he fought to live. How could I possibly take the life that fought so hard to live? When we refused that option, he was given a new medication that helped him. Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.

He survived the trauma, but not without scars. Sometimes we are blessed with scars to remind us of the trauma we survived. For Rex, it is brain damage. He doesn’t want us to pet him, nor play very often. He only eats a certain food, and usually hides or stares into the distance. But every once in awhile, it’s as if he remembers us and allows us to love him. For us that’s enough. He is safe and well. And we love him unconditionally.
My kids wanted him to have a Zippy book so he could learn to celebrate his difference. 

He is not normal, nor will he ever be. Nevertheless, I can’t hate him or turn my back on him because he’s different. He can’t help what happened to him. The doctors couldn’t explain the reason. Sometimes God gives us a miracle to remind us of His greatness. Whether it’s a kitten with brain damage or someone with limb differences, God uses them to teach us. 

All of my limbs are affected. The Amniotic Bands attacked me in my mom’s womb. I have the scars to remind me of the trauma. For whatever reason, God blessed me to survive. He knew my struggles would be many, and yet He blessed me with the beautiful gift of life.

Every day, I’m so grateful for His mercy.

No one willingly chooses hardships. We all want the easy button. As a little girl, I prayed every single night for new hands and a life without scars.  That wasn’t God’s purpose for me. His plan for me and my life was so much greater than to simply be unscarred.

While this might not be the life I wanted for myself, it is better than I could have ever imagined. Through my hardships, I have learned how to live—not just exist. My personal experiences have touched others and inspired so many people—with and without limb differences.

My life is not just about me! I’m perfectly imperfect. If given the choice, I would keep my scars and all of the hardships they bring me every day because my suffering cannot be compared to my joy.  

At the end of the day, I’m so thankful for my beautiful life. My husband of 16 years adores me and spoils me rotten, and my children brighten my life. Not only do I get to write children’s books about celebrating our differences, but I get to share them with children and help them along their journey. People from all over the world have befriended me. And my family loves me unconditionally. As I go through my life, I can’t find anything that is missing. Each and every part is filled with tremendous love. Is there anything greater than love? 

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra