(Previously submitted to Proverbs31.org)

Romans 5:3-4 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (NIV)

When I was a little girl, I was extremely shy. My parents were part of a small a cappella singing group, and the five families of that group would travel from town to town together while the adults performed in churches. Every once in a while, my mom would say how much she would like for me to join her on stage to sing. Just the thought of it would send me running away in tears! I couldn’t bear to imagine having all those people look at me! And now, here I am, a member of a famous family, speaking and singing all over the country. Isn’t it amazing what God can do?!

Now that I have my own little girl, Mia, who is twelve years old, I see so many things in her life that are far different from my own. She was born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate and has been through multiple facial surgeries. You might think that she would be pretty shy as well. You would be wrong. She is outgoing, social, loves to sing on stage and knows no strangers. Even with all of the physical suffering she has endured, she has a positive outlook on her life.

Last summer she underwent her seventh operation for her cleft. It was more extensive than we were previously told it would be, so we were all a little disappointed with having to go through another full-fledged recovery, especially when Mia’s middle-school session at Camp Ch-Yo-Ca, our local Christian youth camp, started that next week. However, on Day 5 of her recovery, she announced to me that she was feeling great and really wanted to go see her friends at camp. This concerned me because her face was still extremely swollen from surgery, so much so that she had two black eyes and still could not open her mouth much to talk.

I cautioned her, “Mia, since you are still very swollen, people are probably going to point at you, stare at you and probably whisper to each other.”

Mia cocked her head, looked at me and said, “It’s a Christian camp, People! Besides, I look a whole lot better than I did two days ago.”

Well, I couldn’t argue with her there. She obviously was prepared for what I was anticipating to be the horrors of Middle-School camp. I mean, we all remember Middle School, right? It’s bad enough when you’re completely healthy! As much as my protective instincts were fighting this, my heart could not deny her another missed day at one of her most beloved places on earth with her BFF’s. Yes, there was pointing. Yes, there was whispering. Yes, there was staring. But Mia never waivered and was determined to soak up every moment she could that night. I was certainly not as strong as she was that evening as I watched her in amazement from behind with tears streaming down my face.

The staff were astonished that she was there, too, and that she wanted to participate in as many of the activities that she physically could. One staff member that night said to me, “Man, that kid has character!”

Paul tells us in Romans that the way to have character starts with suffering. Well, great! I really didn’t want to go through hard times, Paul. Isn’t there any other way to get character? Something easy?

That’s not what Paul says. He says that suffering produces perseverance. I see that consistently with Mia. She doesn’t let her suffering take hold of her life. She pushes through, determined that her condition is not going to rob her of the good things in life. Obviously, she has to work a lot harder to accomplish some of those things, so she does.

That perseverance produces her character. One of the definitions of character are “qualities of honesty, courage and the like; integrity” (dictionary.com). Courage is undeniably one of Mia’s characteristics. She was fully aware of what other kids were going to think about her, but her desire to participate won out over her fear of other people.

And that character produces hope, the hope we find in Christ Jesus. That’s the hope he gave us when he died and rose from his grave three days later. We, too, can have a new body, one that will live eternally with our Father in heaven. It will be a body free from physical suffering, free from physical trauma, free from heartache and disappointment. Hope! We can all have it. And we can all share it.

Mia wrote a speech that she gives when she travels and makes appearances with her daddy and me. I’d like to share with you her last few lines:

I hope I can grow up spreading the love of Jesus to lots of people so they can go to heaven with us. My favorite verse is Psalm 46:10, which says, “Be still, and know that I am God!” I like this verse because whenever I feel sad or have struggles, I know that God is bigger than all of that. And He is bigger than any of your struggles, too. And don’t forget that.”

Ask someone today to tell you what one of your strongest positive characteristics are. Then ask them to share with you why they chose that one. Thank God for developing that characteristic in you and ask Him to use you to give hope to others.


Jessica Carr:

Mia is precious. And that she is surrounded with the love of a big family who loves God is a gift that cannot be priced!

May 09, 2016


I think that when people see Christ in us, they see beauty… regardless of the package! I always thought Mia was a beautiful little girl (and now young lady!). Her confidence will be admired by other girls and her virtue. That’s why we love your family so much!

Apr 06, 2016

Sherri P. Auvil-Doddek:

I have been praying for Mia since her last surgery. I was wondering how she was doing. I didn’t expect less than that she was doing outstanding. God is good and never fails us. It blesses my heart so much to see Mia loving Jesus like she does. It means something, it makes a difference. For any one out there that struggles with scars on their face, as I do, and struggles with low self esteem, they should watch a little bit of Miss Mia. :-) please let her know she has encouraged me, and I think she is amazing. God put something in that young lady that will touch so many hearts. . Keep right on smiling and doing what you do Mia.. Your a bright and shining star that God made perfect. Thank you for sharing your story. It means more than you think to folks. .I’ll keep praying for you, please pray for me as well. . God Bless you and your family. .

Apr 06, 2016


That is very good that she wasn’t scared of going to that camp and that she didn’t care if anybody stared or pointed at her and that all she cared about is playing in the activities that all her friends played in. I know that u wouldn’t have gone because I don’t like people poing at me. Please tell her that she is a very brave sweet girl. Love, Jacob.

Apr 04, 2016

Shama Dawson:

My husband and I are so inspired and impressed with Mia and your sweet family!! To this day I struggle with my insecurities and (until I lost a lot of weight) I let them hold me back. We should all take a page out of Mia’s book and persevere and put our faith in God!! Thank you so much for sharing your life and struggles with us!!

Mar 31, 2016

Ginger Baker:

I am 44 years old and was also born with a cleft lip and palate. I remember much of what Mia went through. I also missed a week at my “Christian” camp when I was 15 for surgery. That time it was a bone graft from my hip to my mouth. It was awful.

Keep being a positive influence. What an amazing soldier of God you are.
Keep smiling…

Mar 30, 2016

Pat Soto:

Dear Mia;

My name is Patty and I was born with a double cleft palate 56 years ago and as your mother states the good praises about you I want you to know to never worry about what other people think. It’s a waste of time and to fill your life with joy and friends. There are people out their that sometimes makes you feel different and I have to thank my mom for telling me not to spend wasted time on what others think. It’s such a simple statement with a lot of meaning.

Mia enjoy life and laugh!


Mar 30, 2016

Joey Hornick:

Thank you for sharing your family and faith with us! Your family is truly a blessing for everyone who has seen your shows. Your faith in our Lord and savior Jesus Christ has been a blessing to so many people all over this great country! I hope and pray for healing for Mia and your family! Thanks for all the laughs that we have enjoyed immensely!!

Mar 29, 2016

Sheila A. :

Mia is beautiful from the inside out! She is very lucky to have such inspirational parents & y’all are very lucky to have such a beautiful child. I find when children have parents who love Jesus, they have a lot of self confidence. No matter what life throws at them, they can just shrug it off & move on toward the goal God has for them.
God bless your family!

Mar 28, 2016


Missy this is for Mia please share this with her,
Mia you are such an inspiration to me,you are such a beautiful bright young lady.I have a walking issue and never wanted to go outside of my home,everyday I give thanks to God for letting me live and rejoice in his awesome presence.Keep shining and smiling and may God continue on blessing you.

Mar 28, 2016

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