By Jody Bennett

Overcoming incredible odds

Hannah Vaugh Stetzer
Hannah Vaugh Stetzer with her husband Brandon.

I read a news story the other day about a woman who was born with a rare disease that means her body is full of cysts. When she was born, doctors damaged her facial nerves removing cysts "by the handful" from her face. Now Hannah Vaugh Stetzer is unable to close her eyes or mouth.

Yet this remarkable woman is now 28, married and runs a blog called Feeding Tube Fitness. She has had a feeding tube and a breathing tube since birth.

Her parents had been advised to abort her, predicting that if Hannah survived, she wouldn't be able to walk or talk. However, her folks ignored doctors and she has defied medics by flourishing, changing her tube independently as a teenager and brushing off cruel comments from strangers.

'I am ridiculously confident in myself. I think and know I am beautiful, I like my body, I know I'm smart and I have a lot to offer the world.

'I also have an amazing husband, Brandon, and tribe of people who shower me with love daily and I'm very grateful.'

Hannah met Brandon, 29, online in January 2016 and the couple married in September 2017.

Last year she challenged herself to start exercising every day. Now she's "healthier, happier, more active, more disciplined and way more grateful."

Wow! Next time my kids complain about their looks or their tough breaks, I'm going to get them to read this chick's blog!

Although the newspaper article had not mentioned the words faith, Christian, God, church or religious, I finished the article and thought, "I bet she's a believer!" And sure enough I found a bio that read 'Explorer, dog lover, voracious reader, amateur gardener. Continually seeking laughter, Jesus, and honesty.'

How did I know? Because her incredibly positive outlook in spite of her disabilities mirrors that of other Christians like Joni Eareckson Tada, Lizzie Velásquez and Nick Vujicic, who see purpose in their lives and have done meaningful things despite their physical limitations. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, they look outward to help others and be a force for good in the world.

That attitude is not human, it is supernatural, and comes from the Holy Spirit of God living within them.

Feeding Tube Fitness
Hannah shows off her muscles on her Feeding Tube Fitness blog.
Feeding Tube Fitness
Hannah shows off her muscles on her Feeding Tube Fitness blog.

Hannah's happiness is not bound up in her circumstances, but in her conviction that God has a purpose in her being the way she is and a unique destiny for her to fulfil. That gives her the courage to stare down nasty comments and rude stares, and to tackle challenges that might seem impossible with her condition.

Besides this internal fortitude to cope with life, their faith also gives these inspiring Christians hope for an eternal future where their physical limitations will be no more and they will enjoy the wholeness they have dreamed of. This hard life is just boot camp for an eternity of endless rewards. That perspective gives them the fight they need to push through.

Those three things: a deep sense of belonging and being loved, a purpose for living, and an eternal perspective – are the keys to success and happiness in life regardless of your circumstances; and each is available freely to all through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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