Hi DL021! I would like to be the first to add what I'm thankful for...
I have a lot to be thankful to God for this Thanksgiving:
1) I survived the first few years of life, despite the life-threatening complications of my craniofacial deformities (Treacher Collins syndrome) that necessitated tracheostomies and tube feeding and a very long hospitalisation. When I was born, no one expected me to live very long--much less a productive life. In fact I was to be institutionalised if I did survive.
2) My "Forever Family" at home; I am part of a large family of about 10 siblings, all adopted by a pair of loving, dedicated parents who devoted themselves to caring for children who came with challenges (me included) and whom nobody else wanted. I am close to every one of them, especially Mom (and Dad until the day he died in 1995). My family all pitched in to help care for me when I first came into their home, and they still follow my adventures here in London!
3) My doctors, who throughout my life from birth, rebuilt my entire face from scratch, where there was hardly a face there at birth. Also, the two great children's hospitals where all my work was done: St. Louis Children's Hospital (St. Louis, MO
) and James W. Riley Hospital for Children (Indianapolis, IN
). I have had 20-30 surgeries, and those doctors were real artists at rebuilding my face from nothing.
4) My churches (the one I attend at home in the USA) and the one I attend in London--their prayers and deep friendships support me all the way. They help me grow in my Christian faith, which has helped me through all of life's challenges. Here in London, I attend the American Church in London--the one church in London that really welcomed me as one of their own and encouraged me to use my musical talents.
5) My great opportunity to study at King's College London so I can someday devote my future medical career to research into craniofacial development and craniofacial anomalies. I have already begun doing research at Guy's Hospital in their craniofacial department, and I am currently applying for a PhD course in craniofacial research. I even have my first research paper pending publication!
6) A wonderful group of ladies here in London, who have become my "surrogate mothers" and have taken me under their wing. And all the other close friends I have made here in London. Thanks to the generosity of one of my new (remaining anonymous) friends, I am able to go home this Christmas. God has brought many people into my life here in London in this last year!
7) The artistic and musical talents with which I have been blessed--playing the piano (almost all my life), the guitar, and teaching myself the violin--and drawing and sketching (anatomy, etc). I also appreciate being able to share my talents with others--at home and here in England.
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)