Missy Robertson: And so when I was 31 weeks gestation is when we found out that she was going to be born with at least a cleft lip - we couldn’t tell anything inside the mouth at that time - and we were shocked. So first we had to deal with the initial shock of the situation because we knew nothing about it. We knew nothing about this condition. And, of course, the first question is - why?
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: Missy Robertson joins us today along with her husband Jase. And they’re going to be sharing about their family and about the journey that God has had for them. Uh, it’s a medical journey and a lot of trust along the way. You’ll hear about it today on Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: John, what a great time we had with Jase and Missy last time. If you missed it, get the download, get the CD, whatever you need to do. It was fun and, uh, also encouraging, especially for those that are going through some difficulty. Uh, Missy has written this wonderful bookBlessed, Blessed... Blessed!
And I love the byline.The Untold Story Of Our Family’s Fight To Love Hard, Stay Strong And Keep The Faith When Life Can’t Be Fixed. And how many of you are in that spot right now - where you don’t have the answers, you can’t figure it out, and God is really whispering, trust me, trust me? And that’s what we’re going to get to today. Uh, we want to wrap around you. We want to be there for you. That’s what Focus on the Family is. We are a resource center. We have counselors who can help you for free. You can call us if you’re struggling. Let us know where we can help you right now, get some perspective - some biblical perspective - and help you in your pain. And one of the ways is to introduce you to this wonderful resourceBlessed, Blessed... Blessed! that will be a blessing to you.
John: Mhm. And we’re a call away. Our number is 800-232-6459. Uh, you can find the book and other helps at focusonthefamily.com/radio.
John: And Jase and Missy Robertson are probably best known for their appearances on theDuck DynastyTV show on A&E. They’ve been married somewhere between 25 and 30 years. We really didn’t nailed that down last time.
John: They have three children though. We did...
Jim: Don’t start that fight again.
John: We did confirm three children. And, uh, we got approximate ages of the kids as well.
Jim: Jase and Missy, welcome back.
Missy: Thank you. It’s 27 years, by the way.
Jase Robertson: Twenty-seven glorious years.
Jim: I thought you were going to say 28 but - (laughter).
Missy: We’re in our 28th year.
Jim: OK, good.
Missy: That’s when we get confusing.
Jim: Well, and it’s so fun. And I love your vulnerability. I mean, that’s where people attach. You know, so often, in the church - and, Missy, you grew up a pastor’s daughter. And, of course, with your dad Phil making his conversion, Jase, you saw change. And we tend - and this is what you and your family don’t do. We tend, in the Christian community, to kind of, uh, cover up...
Missy: Oh, yeah.
Jim: ...Rather than be real...
Missy: Oh, yeah.
Jim: ...Be authentic and share our pain, whereas - where people attach, right?
Jim: That’s what people attach to is you’re like me. You guys are famous people now, but you’re so down to Earth. How have you kept that perspective to know that you’re still just one of the folks, you’re no different, you’re not better? It just pours out of you that I’m just like you, don’t lift me up any higher.
Jase: I think what happened was when I was a teenager, uh, and made my decision, you know, to follow Christ, my parents just opened their home for anybody who would listen.
Jase: And constantly, they were sharing Jesus with people. We were baptizing people in the river. And, you know - and when I met Missy, our foundation was built on, I think, I said the words I want to go to heaven and help other people get there. And if you want to help me go and help our friends, you know, let’s - we may be a great partnership. And we did. And so we did that in our home. Our kids saw that. I think when you’re in people’s lives, and you have people in your home, and you’re eating a meal, and then all of a sudden, they start talking about their problems or whatever, and we’re showing them the answer, which is Jesus, I think you just become open, honest, blunt peoplebecause you were not raised that way...
Jase: ...At all.
Jase: But you became that way from getting into people’s lives. And now even in her life now, you know, she owns a jewelry company that employs women who have been victims of sex trafficking or sexual abuse and all these types of things.
Jim: That’s great.
Jase: And so, you know, she’s getting into people’s lives. And, you know, we discuss it, and we have them over, and we share Jesus. We do the same thing, but it’s about sitting down as a family, getting into people’s lives, and then your kids are seeing that going on.
Missy: That was just a daily thing...
Missy: ...That the boys saw growing up.
Jim: Yeah. And we ended last time so wonderfully because you, Jase, mentioned, Mia, and she was born with a cleft palate and a cleft lip. And, uh, you even talked about how it was more severe at birth than you had even realized...
Jase: Oh, yeah.
Jim: ...Even looking at the ultrasound that you were getting. But the phrase that caught me - you said, we learned so much through this. Mia has taught us so much. Let’s pick up there because we’re talking about what we teach our kids.
Jim: Was this hard for you to open your heart, as the parent, the one who engages and is the teacher and you have the word? You’ve got it right next to your elbow right now under your duck calls, by the way. But, uh - but...
Missy: But any...
Jim: ...It’s beautiful to hear that. But how did Mia, in her situation, her physical disability, how did that begin to teach you something?
Missy: Any parent would agree with that statement that has gone through with something hard with their child, whether it’s physical, whether it’s mental, whether it’s-- whatever that difficulty or challenge is. That parent is gonna say that child’s teaching me so much more. We had just not had a child until number three came along to do that for us. And so when people say, how come - how is she so grounded? How is she so self-assured? Which, I think there’s a lot of factors, and I think a lot of it has to do with the closetight knitfamily that she has. And she had a lot of support with her cousins. She had a lot of support with her grandparents and aunts and uncles who treated her the same. They didn’t care what she looked like. They didn’t put her in a box. And that really spoke a lot to her, I think. But because - I want to say, well, because that’s all she’s ever known.
But there are other children born with cleft lip and palate that’s all they’ve ever known, but they don’t have that confidence. And that’s what we hear when we go to our medical team in Dallas. Like, she’s just - she stands out. She’s an example. She conquered this challenge when no other child has done this yet. And so I don’t really know because I’m maybe too close to this situation, other than it is the family and the faith that we have. We were not devastated by this. We were shocked. We might have even used the word devastated. But true devastation, that did not stop our family. It did not kill our family. It did not kill our spirit. Our faith is there. Our faith was there at the time. And we knew we were going to get through it. We just didn’t know how.
Jim: Right, and you ask questions.
Missy: So - and we had to struggle through the how part.
Jase: I mean, for me, with my two boys, I always - the reason we always would come together when I sensed something was wrong, it was more of a spiritual warfare. I felt like, here’s the evil and trying to tempt my kids into things that are not good for them that they’ll suffer consequences for the rest of their life. So to me, I’m a fighter. I’m like, you know, I’m immediately gonna go to them. You know, I’m fighting for my kids. Because I feel like that was coming from the evil influence. Well, then in my daughter’s case, I felt like it was more of a physical thing. And, you know, I think the evil one does the same thing. You know, he puts you through pain and...
Jim: Oh, yeah.
Jase: So it was a totally different dynamic. And, uh, what I wasn’t prepared for is - and I think what the world doesn’t really know about kids with cleft lip and palate - these are surgeries they do are brutal. They are all about suffering. You know, when you think what you do with your mouth, I mean, you eat, you breathe...
Jase: ...You speak. So now let’s go in here and cut more ways than you can imagine and pull tissue. Well, the recovery time over each one of these surgeries, it’s just gruesome. I mean, here’s me. I consider myself one of the toughest people on the planet whether that was in my mind or not. Seeing my daughter go through that, I was like putty. I cried more, I think, after the first surgery. I mean, I had to leave one time because I thought I was going to hit a doctor because they were just - they were trying to form fit her for a palate - because she didn’t have one...
Jase: ...So she could eat. But they were being so rough with her.
Jase: And I was having to watch this.
Missy: She was 17 days old at this point.
Jase: And Missy got so mad at me because I left. She’s like, why would you leave when I need you the most? And I said, because I was fixing to hit the doctor right between the eyes. That - I kept thinking, you know...
Jim: Isn’t that interesting?
Jase: ...I’m going to hit this guy. I said, then I’m going to wind up in jail. I got to get out of here. You know, I was just so - and so then I went out to the parking lot, oh, and I just cried like a baby. I was like, this is...
Jim: Because the pain your child was going through.
Jase: Oh, it’s just - and she was choking, you know.
Jase:And I was like, she’s uncomfortable. So you magnify that, you know, hundreds of times that we saw her go through that until, all of sudden, it starts hitting home. And then every time we would go there, you would have to hand your child off. Because now she’s fine, you know, after she goes through the surgery, and she recovers, and she’s doing great, until the next one.
Jim: Right, then the same thing.
Jase: Well, then we learned something. It is so hard to hand your child, like, physically off, even though you know this is what’s best. You’re thinking about all this what’s fixed to happen. So that’s when you start thinking about God. You start thinking about what he did through Jesus. And you’re like, all of a sudden, you’re seeing some spiritual enlightenment to this in your life. But this is what’s best. And then you start looking at your life and thinking, why am I complaining? Well, I mean, you know, what he did was...
Jase: ...Was - yeah.
Jim: I mean, what’s catching me is that idea of the great physician. That’s what we call him, right? And how, as parents particularly - we’re all parents of teenagers right here and 20-somethings for you two. But you - in essence, you’re handing your children to the Lord, the great physician...
Jase: That’s it.
Jim: ...To say work in their hearts, repair the damage. It’s hard to do.
Missy: It is not easy to, like he said, hand your child over that - right at that moment. It’s not like she was just in a big car accident or had some trauma happen where you’re saying, hurry, hurry, get to her. You’re like, OK. You’re ready. OK, are you ready, Mia? Yes, I am. I’m ready. I mean, like, this is strange.
Jim: How many surgeries did she have to go through?
Missy: Well, there’s a lot of procedures, but she’s had eight...
Jase: Major surgeries.
Missy: ...Major surgeries.
Jim: And that all occurred in the first how many years of her life?
Missy: The first 11...
Jim: Eleven years...
Missy: ...Years of her life.
Jim: ...Over an 11-year span having to have surgeries.
Jase: But her last surgery at 11 was - I mean, they broke her jaw on purpose. They moved it. They’re cutting things you shouldn’t be...
Jim: I mean...
Jase: ...You know...
Jim: ...Partly using hip bone...
Jim: No, no, no, that was the one before. But even that...
Missy: It takes the whole body. And, you know, again, in the book, there’s so much medical information about how you can find what’s best for your child. But that’s part of it - is understanding that God’s leading you to the right place at the right time. And you’re praying over that. So - um, which we feel like He did. He led us to the right team. And that’s - we have confidence in them.
Jim: You haven’t beat anybody up, right, Jase?
Jase: No, but I felt like you have to get into the details to really underst- I mean, because it’s so brutal (unintelligible)...
Jim: Oh, yeah, I can feel that father’s heart. You’re...
Jase: It is brutal.
Jim: I hear you. You want to step up and defend your child.
John: Well, we’re talking today on Focus on the Family with Jase and Missy Robertson. And the details, as Jase mentioned, are in the book by Missy calledBlessed, Blessed... Blessed!The subtitle isThe Untold Story Of Our Family’s Fight To Love Hard, Stay Strong And Keep The Faith When Life Can’t Be Fixed. Uh, that might be you right now struggling to, uh, to stay close to God. And whatever circumstances you’re dealing with, give us a call if we can be of assistance to you along the way. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. Or, uh, get a copy of Missy’s book and look for help, encouragement, inspiration at focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Jim: Let me pick up with the last surgery because in your book you called that, uh - well, you mentioned how God used that to speak to your hearts in a unique way. What happened? What was the setup?
Missy: The last surgery she had is called a distraction surgery. And the year before, when she had the bone graft, uh, they told us that this was a possibility. The distraction later was a possibility. But if you are a mom like me - I can handle one thing at a time when it comes to something like this - I don’t want to look 12 years down the road. So when we took her at 17 days old, they’re trying to lay out her next 18 years. I don’t want to hear that. I can’t handle that. I want to hear what do I do today? And what do I do before you need to see us back the next time?
Jim: Just give me that.
Missy: Just give me that.
Jim: See, I tend to...
Missy: Because I’m living day to day.
Jim: ...Look only to the future. Just give me the future. I don’t want to deal with now...
Jase: Well, I wanted to hear the whole thing.
Missy: Yeah, not me because, as a mom - and moms - most moms will understand - you have to deal with the daily care of this child.
Missy: You have to deal with the three-hour feedings - every three hours, taking that palate out, washing it, putting it back in. I’m like, she eats eight times a day. That was overwhelming to me.
Missy: So those were the things that I had to get through. So I can’t look at the next 18 years. It’s too much. So when, in 2014, when she had the bone graft, we were getting ready for pre-op and a mother comes to me, of course, recognizes me from the show and says that her son is there to have the distraction surgery. And I said, oh, I think we’re going to have to have that in about a year. And she turned her phone around and she said, well, here’s a picture of him. And he had what’s called a halo. And that’s - it’s, uh, medically screwed into the child’s skull. And it wraps around their head to hold because they break the jaw, rebuild it and have to stabilize it. So when I saw that, it kind of, you know, made me (gasp) take a breath.
Missy: And I said how is he doing? And she said, terrible. He cries all the time. He won’t go to school. I can’t get him to eat. And she just starts crying. Well, then I just start panicking. I’m like, OK, I- I- I can’t handle this right now. I’m preparing for a bone graft, which is what we’ve been told for the last 10 years of her life was the biggie.
Missy: So if this is the biggie, what’s that?
Missy: So I start to become a little overwhelmed and a little anxious. And at that moment, the doctor comes and says, we’re ready for you. And I was like, oh, OK, OK, thank you. I mean, it’s almost like a saving grace. But I still can see the picture of that child from that mom’s phone. And she was beside herself. I don’t know what to do. And at that moment, I couldn’t help her. I was in my own trauma. I couldn’t help her. But all I could think of for that next year was, I don’t want that. I don’t want my child to go through that. What can I do? And I just started praying, praying, praying, praying. And I - at that time, I sang on our praise team at church. And I just went to them. I said we got to pray about this. We - I don’t want this to happen. We’re going to pray this is not going to happen.
So we get there, um, 10 months, 11 months later for our yearly exam. And I - and we have to drive over there and spend the night. So in the hotel the night before, I just pray, God, whatever it is, let me deal with it. Because I don’t know what he’s going to say tomorrow. I’m praying that we - she doesn’t have to have this. But if she does, I got to - I have to deal with it. So we walk in. And we walk in and he says, I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is she has to have the distraction surgery. OK. The good news is I’ve invented a new procedure where she does not have to have the halo. It’s done all internally.
Missy: What (laughter)?
Jim: Yeah, that’s called an answer to prayer.
Missy: It wasn’t exactly what I was praying for, but God had a better way. And so I called Jase. I’m like, you’re not gonna believe this. You’re not gonna believe this. And so what - this internal device is molded to her mouth, and it is controlled electronically. This is how they figured it out. He showed me the computer screen, everything. I’m like, what? And it’s in the book, I have pictures of it in the book. And Jase says - of course, Jase was like, how many has he done?
Jim: Yeah, right (laughter).
Jim: That’s a good question.
Missy: OK, here was the answer...
John: I invented - yeah.
Missy: I said, one.
Jim: Oh, my goodness.
Missy: And he said, one. He’s done one. I said, Babe, it’s worth it. This is worth it. And so that was a huge pivotal moment for us. Again, we had to trust that this doctor knew what he was doing. But, to me, it was worth it because she did not have to go into intensive care for a week to get that halo screwed into her skull.
Jim: Yeah, yeah.
Jase: And if you could see this...
Missy: And another week on the other end.
Jase: ...You would appreciate what we’re saying. It just looks...
Missy: It’s a cage...
Jim: I’ve seen it.
Missy: ...On their head.
Jase: It’s just brutal...
Missy: And so even if for no other reason, parents who are listening right now may not even know that this is - has been invented.
Missy: They need to know this. So the Craniofacial Institute - International Craniofacial Institute of Dallas, look it up.
Missy: Because Dr. Jennakove worked with a medical device company and came up with it.
Jase: It’s awesome.
Missy: And it was - it was hard.
Jim: And it worked out for Mia.
Missy: It was still very...
Missy: ...Very difficult.
Jim: Number two - patient two, it went well...
Jim: ...For you.
Jase: Yeah, but we thought, you know, maybe our prayers changed history and helped this doctor...
Missy: That’s right.
Jase: ...Come up with this idea. And, you know...
Jim: You know, you never know.
Jase: ...It was just a better way - because these doctors are constantly looking for ways...
Jase: ...That are not as barbaric to help...
Jim: Oh, right.
Jase: ...These kids. It’s just brutal.
Jim: Let me ask you, as a parent though - and people are listening that are going to be going through different things right now. It may not be cleft palate and...
Jim: ...That, but it’s going to be something. And it may be a physical issue, or it could be a spiritual issue with their children. As the parents, describe that struggle with the Lord to say, God - we touched on it lightly last time - the why question. So where does why become faith? Rather than saying why God, why God, why God, just take us through that journey of yours really pointing us to greater hope.
Missy: It is a journey. But I will say that I don’t struggle with God in this anymore. I did at first. And I’m not even sure I would say it was a struggle. It was...
Jase: I think the first three months.
Missy: It was questioning.
Missy: It - yeah.
Jase: Yeah, the first three months...
Missy: We questioned a lot.
Jase: ...Was a struggle.
Missy: And I - you know, of any mom that has a child with a disability that came out of their body, you think, what did I do wrong? What...
Jim: You feel guilty.
Missy: Yes. Like, did I take a medication? Did I not do something right? And I don’t look at it ever as punishment for sin. That - we’re past that. We do not believe that at all. But I think, what did I do? Because that would - could have been a natural occurrence. But there was nothing in our past. There was nothing in what I did. And I realized, it’s just something that happened.
Jase: Yeah, I considered a personal evil attack. That’s in my mind
Jase: Because I think in your mind, you kind of got to justify something.
Jim: The why.
Jase: Yeah, and I’m like, OK, I’m - I know God is for me. You know, if God is for us, who can be against us. I know the evil one is against me. This is not good, so I’m going to consider this a personal attack. When I started looking at it like that, then I started thinking about verses like the spiritual weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. You know, I’m going to fight this with prayer and encouragement and love and perseverance. And then all these things I’m going to fight it with, that’s what I started seeing out of my daughter who just wowed me with how she’d...
Jim: I like that.
Jase: ...Come out of these surgeries. And that gets back to saying what we learn from our kids. I’m - me and her are basket cases, and our kid is like, oh, yeah, I’ll do it, you know, no big deal, or go into school and having people stare at her. And she’s like, eh, you know, they’ll get over it and all the little things she said. Now she’s noticing it a lot more because she’s a teenager.
Jase: And, uh, but I’m like, that’s normal. It’s going to be a struggle, but we’re, you know, we’re always going to go back to that foundation. I just think you get in these little moments, and you have those temptations come up and, you know, you might think, oh, why do I have to do this? And then you just remind yourself of the big picture. You’re like, God is going to use this...
Jase: ...For the greater good. And He does...
Missy: And He has.
Jase: ...In her life.
Jim: You know, let me illustrate something. You guys, uh, speak to it. Because I’m thinking of so many times in public where you see the strength of a dad. And it’s certainly true of a mom. It’s almost a given for a mom, which is what makes it so powerful when it comes from a dad. But a dad with a physically challenged, physically handicapped child, and you see that big arm of dad go around that child. And he draws that child into him, even though others are whispering under their breath, look at her look, or look at him, look at that. You hear it as the adult. You feel the eyes staring. And yet, a dad’s love is there. And how much that is like our heavenly Father...
Jim: ...That he does that for each one of us. I mean, if we saw...
Missy: And when you realize...
Jim: ...Our raw sin...
Jim: ...And who we are in reality...
Missy: What we learned through this was that - and it just underscored, but it really hit home with this whole journey with Mia is this life is not about me.
Jim: Yeah, that’s a hard lesson to learn.
Missy: And it is. But if you learn it, you realize you can find joy in all of this because God did not do this to us. The devil is the creator of evil. God allowed this to happen for some reason, and that’s where the whys come in. Did you forget about me God? Did you turn your head when her mouth was supposed to be forming, and you forgot because you were busy with the war in Iraq, you know, or whatever it was? You know, did you forget it? Am I not important to you?
Those were the questions I had. Like, we’re doing everything right. We’re raising our boys right. We’re, you know, we’re doing what we think is spiritually good for our family. Why did this happen? And then you realize this is not about me. This is not about me. It’s about shining a light on Jesus Christ. I can look back now 14 years later and look at Mia’s life and what she - her life has shown to all of the people in, not just American now, but the whole world through our show and through even that one episode ofDuck Dynasty. She has shone that light on Jesus Christ. It has been shone through our family.
Missy: And so - and we get that. You know, like how do you keep your kids grounded? Well, obviously, they’re grounded. How do you keep them spiritually based? Well, obviously, they’re spiritually based. So they’re seeing something in our family, and they’re asking, how did that happen? And so to understand that it’s Jesus Christ, it is not about us, none of this is going to matter when we get to heaven, but all of the people that we influence because this happened is going to be the - one of the reasons.
Jim: That is so well-stated. And that is the place we have to land today. And what I so appreciate about that, again, it doesn’t matter what you’re experiencing. But that perspective that it’s not about us, that it’s about glorifying the Lord in us, I love to say, even living as an orphaned kid, as I did as a little boy, that our testimonies don’t belong to us. They belong to the Lord. He bought them for a price. And his comment is will you walk it for me? And I love what I hear about Mia. And she’s saying, yes, Mom, yes, Dad, yes, God, I’ll walk this for you.
Missy: Well, our mantra verse is Romans 5:3 through 5. We rejoice in our sufferings because suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance produces character. And character produces hope. She is a living example of Paul’s words there. Because of that suffering, she - perseverance was all through that book and not because of me. That’s her perseverance.
Jim: And it’s beautiful.
Missy: And her character is...
Jim: And that’s the challenge for us that live in a materialistic world with a lot of stuff within our grasp. That’s the lesson. It’s not about the good things. It’s about our character and the tough things. And, man, you have brought it. And Mia is not here. I wish she were here, so I’d give her a big hug. But do that for me...
Jase: Yeah, she’s in school.
Jim: ...And for all of us at Focus.
Missy: Well, she’s become our own author now.
Jim: (Laughter) OK.
Missy: So she’s got a whole series of...
Missy: ...Books coming out next year.
Jim: Well, we’ll have to have her here.
Missy: So you’ll have to have her, yup.
Jase: She’s writing her own books now.
Jim: Well, that would be wonderful. Jase and Missy Robertson - of course,Duck Dynasty. You know, actually, I’ve got to tell you - I know Willie might be upset - but whenever I watch the show, you’re my hero because I say that brother’s got the best head on his shoulders. He’s the cool one. He’s the one that’s thinking. So that may cause a little trouble back home, but you are kind of the straight guy.
Jase: You must have a high intellect.
Jim: Well, you bring just this common wisdom to the show, to the chaos that’s going on. And, Missy, thank you for your mama’s heart. It’s just - it’s come across so beautifully. Thank you for representing women so well and what God does through a strong woman.
Missy: Thank you.
Jim: Thank you for being with us.
Missy: Thank you for having us.
Jase: Well, thank y’all for focusing on the family.
Jim: There you have it.
John: It’s been so great to hear how God has brought your family through so much and how Mia is shining now. So thanks for being here and thank you to our listeners. We here at Focus on the Family know life isn’t always easy. That’s one of the recurring themes in these broadcasts. Your family may be going through a very difficult time right now. Please know that we’re here for you, we have caring Christian counselors who can spend some time with you, listen and pray and offer some trusted advice. And it may be that you’re not going through a hard time right now, you’re in a pretty good spot. If that’s the case, then please let me ask you to support the ministry here. The work we do is your work as we reach out around the world offering hope and encouragement and your prayer and financial support allow us to answer moms and dads questions, to be a voice for the voiceless, to strengthen families like yours and no amount is too small. So please, partner with us today.
In fact, donate generously to Focus today and we’ll send a copy of Missy’s book, Blessed, Blessed, Blessed! as our way of saying thank you and putting this wonderful resource into your hands. To donate and find out more about Blessed, Blessed, Blessed! stop by focusonthefamily.com/radio and while you’re there also look for a link to the conference we’ve mentioned, Evangelicals for Life. Now that started today and we’re live streaming some of the speakers and you can check that out on the site or give us a call, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. 800-232-6459.
On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire Focus on the Family team, join us again as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.