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I was born with a cleft palate in which I had no nose, no upper palate, no upper lip, and breathing and heart problems. My cleft palate and other complications were so severe that the doctors did not think I would live much longer. The hospital could not figure out a way to get nutrition into me and I was rapidly losing weight. After three weeks, though my doctor was considered the best plastic surgeon in America at the time, he felt my body was too weak to survive surgery, and he told my mother to take me home so I could die in my own home. My mom knew God had a plan for me on this earth, so she took me home to care for me. She had already had years of nursing experience as a pediatric nurse. In fact, she had already cared for many children who had cleft palates. For three months she discovered creative ways to feed me and build up my strength. Finally, she took me back to the hospital and demanded that the doctors operate on me. This began the series of twenty-six surgeries over the next fifteen years.

For the first three years of my life, I mostly lived in the hospital. From age four to fifteen, I spent every summer and sometimes other times during the year in the hospital.  I was often on special liquid diets and was restricted in my activities. I had hearing problems in which the doctors thought I might become deaf later in life. I endured speech therapy for eleven years.  Even though these physical problems were challenging, the most difficult trial were the verbal wounds I received every day at school. I was constantly teased.  Most days I was stared at, laughed at, and called various unpleasant names like “Dog Face” and “Ugly.” I felt completely judged and rejected for my appearance, especially by boys.  I longed for someone to give me a chance to know my heart and see that I was not really a rejectable person. I heard these lies so many times that I started to believe that I was ugly, rejectable, and could not be loved by men.


By the grace of God, I became a believer in Christ at fifteen years old through a friend at my high school. Though my mother was a Christian, she never really talked about her faith. When my friend talked to me, it was the first time that I learned that I am a sinner who needed to ask for Christ’s forgiveness which came through his death on the cross. It was that night that I prayed and asked Jesus into my heart to forgive my sins, become my Lord and Savior, and give me eternal life. Shortly after that, my friend took me to her youth group, and I heard the pastor teach on Psalm 139.  Being an extrovert, I got excited when I heard that God would be with me everywhere I go. Knowing that God is always paying attention, hearing my prayers, and willing to help me through any struggle was so encouraging for me. At times, I struggled with loneliness. Knowing that Jesus fully understood me and was there to care for me was so assuring.

Everything was great that night at youth group until the pastor began to teach on Psalm 139:13-14. “For You created my inmost being.  You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.”  My first thought was, Me, fearfully and wonderfully made!  Come on!  No way!  Years later, even as a mature Christian, I believed that when God made me, I was a mistake.

When I was in my 30’s, the Lord set me free of the lies that I was ugly, rejectable, and unlovable. He healed the wounds of past rejections and emotional scars. He brought me out of bondage and into the truth that I am made in His image, thus I am beautiful, valuable, and lovable. I was filled with joy and confidence as I learned what it meant to be a daughter of the King, the bride of Christ, a temple of the Lord, and His ambassador.

After years of serving with Cru as a youth worker and then missionary in Asia, in 2005, the Lord called me to begin a women’s ministry called Crown of Beauty International to share my testimony and God’s healing message to women around the world. After four years of speaking at conferences, the Lord led me to write Crown of Beauty, a Twelve Week Bible Study to help women find freedom in Christ. Please click on Crown of Beauty International to learn all the amazing ways God is transforming women’s lives around the world through this ministry.

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