This is my Body

26 Apr, 2012

For years my mom has heard the cruel judgments of callous men when she viewed her face in a mirror or photograph. I’ve been praying that God would silence those words and reveal to my mom how He views her – how I view her.

Her journey of grace has come to a beautiful place of acceptance. When she heard that her church was hosting an art show with the theme of Overcoming, she asked me to help write her story and take a new portrait.

It was my pleasure to participate with her.

~ Chad Estes
Starry Night Media

My father was an alcoholic my entire childhood. My mother had health issues her whole life.

When her doctors told us she was dying of pancreatic cancer my father broke down and asked God to heal my mom; in turn dad promised God that he would stop drinking. God healed mom and he also took away the alcoholism. Dad never drank again. My mom lived until she was 88 years old.

I grew up too fast and had to be the adult to my parents.

As an adult I’ve learned to be a child of God’s.

My two sisters died at childbirth and I was raised as a lonely, only child.

Yet I have lifelong sisters that walk this life’s journey with me and talk with me on the phone every day.

My boyfriend and I were in a head-on collision in his Volkswagen Beetle in the summer of 1963. I broke my wrist and we both broke our noses.

 He married me the following summer and we’ve been together nearly 48 years.

I was diagnosed with diabetes at age 13 and had daily injections of insulin. Because of the diabetes my doctor was concerned about my health if I ever got pregnant.

After my first son was born my insulin level changed and I went down from injections to daily pills. During my next pregnancy I became hypoglycemic, the reverse of diabetes, and when my second son was born my insulin leveled out to normal. I have been free from diabetes for over 40 years.

The death of dreams and financial strain brought a crisis to our seven-year marriage.

It was through this dark time that we turned to God for his guidance. We have never looked back and His dreams have become our dreams.

We wanted to adopt a baby girl, but this was not fulfilled the way we thought it would be.

Instead our home has been open to many kids through the years who needed a place to live and to heal.

I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma brain tumor when I was 41. I lost the hearing to my left ear, some facial paralysis, eye trouble, loss of balance, and short term memory problems, and short term memory problems (Ha!). Though I was so glad my life was spared my heart was broken by the rejection I received from the doctors I worked for, as they wouldn’t let me come back to work because of my facial paralysis.

Yet a whole new area of ministry opened up for me with other people who were recovering from brain tumors themselves.

I had separate surgeries to remove my gall bladder and appendix. I also had a full hysterectomy.

My son told me this was an expensive way to lose a couple of extra pounds.

A couple of years after the brain tumor I was in a serious car wreck that left me with five broken ribs and a broken scapula, a broken neck and a serious brain concussion.

Again, the fact that my life was spared was nothing short of a miracle.

I’ve had two back surgeries, a plate added to my wrist, resection of the occipital nerve in my neck, and more doctors’ office visits and MRIs than I’d like to remember.

Though I’ve had to deal with many kinds of pain and disappointment, I’ve learned not to live as a victim.

My last hospital visit, in January 2012, was for a risky, four-level neck surgery needed to repair vertebrae C3-C7.

This freed me from 24 years of constant pressure headaches brought on from my brain tumor surgery. I am excited for what tomorrow will bring. 

My body, though broken, is beautiful.

I am an overcomer!

~ Judi Estes

Pinging is currently not allowed18 Responses

  1. amyjo says:

    Ah, one of the most beautiful women I know!

  2. Glenn says:

    Beautiful inside and out!

  3. GaryG says:

    Bro…what an amazing story of a beautiful woman!

  4. Buffy says:

    This is powerful, beautiful and touched me deeply. Thank you Judi and Chad for sharing.

  5. Ken M says:

    Such a gorgeous woman with a beautiful story. Nice work Chad.

  6. Angela says:

    Beautiful, inside and out!

  7. Marty says:

    Brings tears to my eyes to realize all that Judi has endured. Such a precious woman! She has been an incredible blessing to me and mine and I am so thankful that she is free from the pain of so many years. God is good!

  8. Carmilla says:

    Thank you for posting this, Chad and Judi. It brought tears to my eyes too. You are an inspiration, Judi! And you're an example of what I read today–a good steward of pain. On to life and new adventures! Much love to you all!

  9. Britiney says:

    Oh, Judi. You are so beautiful. I count myself among the lucky ones to receive your love throughout the years. I always felt like you loved me like I was your daughter. And it was always such a privilege. Love you so much!! xoxo

  10. Judi Estes says:

    Thank you all for your kind words. I have avoided cameras since the brain surgery because in my spirit & heart I never have had facial paralysis. But when I have seen pictures or worse yet, videos, I have had to face what everyone else has seen. Sadly in my avoidance of pictures it has meant there are few pictures of me in the last 24 years. Which means there are few pics of me with my 6 precious grandkids which saddens my heart. When I saw the new show would be "Overcome" I knew I needed to participate but how does a non-artist do that? If they are blessed like I am to have a son that is a fantastic writer as well as talented photographer they ask him to take a picture & write a story for them. Chad offered to take a side profile of me. I told him "No" I wanted it face on as I didn't want to hide anymore. What I hadn't anticipated was that having the neck surgery freed a lot of the tension & pressure that was part of the facial paralysis. Even the neurosurgeon is amazed at this outcome. Of course I know the real reason my face is more symmetrical is because the Lord loves to take our hurts & turn them into joy. Judi

    • Sally Preston says:

      Judi, not only are you beautiful on the outside, but your heart and Spirit and are so beautiful! That is what people are so drawn too, not mention your gentleness and grace. If people can't see that, their loss…..

    • Lauri says:

      Your compassion and courage equal your beauty. Thank you for living a life out loud of faith, hope, and love. I love you forever.

  11. Quincy and Deborah says:

    What a beautiful story – what a beautiful lady – we're so blessed to have you in our lives!

  12. Alice says:

    Jude all that you have gone through has made you such a beautiful , compassionate woman. I know after all of our surgeries and crisis your voice is always filled with hope. You are growing more beautiful each day. Chad thanks for capturing this lady.

  13. wordhaver says:

    What an amazing trail of tears harvested in such a depth of joy and LIFE! God bless you, Judi. And Chad, this is simply one of the best things you've written – and the photo! What a witness of grace spread over the brokenness of a lifetime. :o)

  14. Mary says:

    OH my beautiful Judi, you have an awesome story and amazing journey !!! It brings back so very many
    memories of our high school years, good memories, you were a wonderful friend and still are. I truly
    never saw what you saw ……the picture warms my heart and makes me cry happy tears for you and Dean.
    Thank you so much for sending me your "overcome" story.
    Love you, Mary

  15. I don't truly know what I expected as I read the story, this woman who had been through so much and think she was not beautiful, so I read every line and braced myself…and burst into tears. What a beautiful woman with such soulful eyes!!!! Thank you for sharing her with me. She touched my very soul.

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