You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so this woman begins and ends with AMAZING!
Today is LAUNCH DAY for precious, Courtney Westlake’s new (sure-to-be-a-best-seller) book, A Different Beautiful. A MUST READ for you and all of your friends! A glorious story of courage sure to inspire you in countless ways. Order NOW, read it and then, tell me how much you loved it! It’s my honor and privilege to share my friend with you.
When my daughter was first born, I thought they just needed to wipe her off.
At first glance, she seemed to be covered with a thick coating of white, causing confusion and panic with the medical staff in the room. It soon became clear that the towel the nurse was using to clean her wouldn’t alleviate anyone’s concerns.
Because the white covering was her skin.
Our daughter Brenna (our second child and sister to our now 6-year-old son Connor) was born in 2011 with a very severe, very rare genetic skin condition called Harlequin Ichthyosis (har-le-kwin ick-thee-oh-sis).
This severe disorder means that Brenna’s body has trouble with things like regulating her body temperature – she can’t even sweat – and keeping bacteria out, so she can get skin infections easily. It also means that her body produces skin about ten times too fast, leaving her with very dry, peeling skin that looks like a sunburn all over her body.
Brenna’s condition affects our lives very profoundly every day and has caused the last four years to be filled with surgeries, doctor and therapy appointments, and illness. But my husband, Evan, and I have never questioned why – we have believed from the very beginning in God’s plan for Brenna’s life.
We are often asked what is “wrong” with Brenna, with her skin or her face. But to be wrong is to be mistaken… and I don’t believe that mistakes happen with our awesome God.
When Brenna was just a few days old, critically ill in the neonatal intensive care unit, a family member came to us and said: “I haven’t talked to God in years… but I’ve been praying for Brenna.”
It was in that moment that I was first assured that God had an extraordinary purpose for her life and that he was bringing his children closer to him through our daughter and working through her to reach the hearts of others.
And, as I soon discovered, God was also working through me, by giving me the courage to stand up and say that my daughter is not wrong, she is beautiful.
God has given us the courage to find the beauty in this life, not the tragedy. We believe whole-heartedly that Brenna was given to us uniquely and beautifully created by God, not that she was given to us broken.
Within this, we are learning every day how to discover the beauty in the different and the unexpected. Where society often mocks different, we have found God’s beautiful creation in our differences and are learning to glorify his awesomeness through our distinct personalities, talents, and yes, appearances.
Though Brenna’s skin has been a defining piece of her life and will continue to be so throughout her life, it is not the only piece of her life.
Naturally, there will always be stares from other people about her unique appearance, but I hope that Brenna and Connor will both have many opportunities to see that how they act, how they treat others and who they are as God’s beloved children are all so much more important than what they look like.
As we learn to appreciate and to celebrate our differences – our own and each other’s – it also serves as a great reminder that the God who created each of us with unique purpose and talents also created us with a likeness in his image.
We are different, and we are the same – none of us perfect, but formed purposely by a perfect Creator. And there is nothing wrong about that.
Courtney Westlake is the author of A Different Beautiful, which releasing August 1. She lives in Illinois with her husband Evan and two children, Connor and Brenna. After Brenna was born with a severe skin disorder, Courtney began chronicling family life and experiences raising a child with physical differences and special needs on her blog. Her writing has been published on sites such as the Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day and Yahoo Parenting. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.