Buckteeth, Bushy Hair & Glasses: A Story for the Resilient


Life, it’s a funny thing, isn’t it? The way things ebb, flow, and eventually end up can sometimes be surprising to say the least! Yet solace comes when we realize that just because things may not work out exactly as we had planned, they are often working out exactly as they should. 
Allow me to provide you an example. 

Buckteeth, bushy hair and glasses, that was me at age eight. I was rambunctious around those who knew me, yet quiet around those who didn’t, and I quickly learned that books took me to places I only dreamt of going in my mind. 

By fifth grade, I was burning through pink-plastic diaries with secure, state-of-the-art locks made in China. And by sixth grade, I was writing poetry with glitter pens. By seventh grade, my hair was still bushy – but at least I was wearing braces and finally had contacts. Still no boyfriend or invitations to school dances, but I did have a self-authored book of poems and a growing collection of stapled-together, short-story mystery novels I’d written on notebook paper. 

Then, it happened! On my first day of high school, I strolled in with straight hair, un-braced teeth, and mascara. You can imagine my surprise when the news broke that I was apparently a hot commodity and had been nominated for homecoming court. I’d never been hot-anything – except for maybe hot-and-sweaty during a hot-and-humid Kentucky summer. 

The high school years continued, and though I loved the accolades I’d received from sports and other extra-curriculars, I couldn’t put my pen down. My most memorable achievement came when I received The Most Creative Writer award during my junior year. I’ll never forget the shock of my name being called loudly across the gymnasium speakers. 

College was next, and after six years, I received a couple pieces of paper with fancy lettering, and signatures – each one signifying I had finally been rendered capable of stringing together sentences in an acceptable fashion. It seemed my career path was off to a good start and shortly after, I began writing for Bridges. 

In 2012, my first article Happy Feet appeared in Bridges, Issue 32 (Summer/Fall.12), and since, my writings have been featured in more than 20 subsequent issues. 

In 2015, everything came to a screeching halt as our family entered a season of terminal illness. I had just discovered I was pregnant with our third child when Chad, my husband, began experiencing motor deficits. One year later, he was diagnosed with ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a death sentence by all medical standards. 

In August 2016, I felt a nudge to document this difficult path, and shortly after, I started the blog www.themessybeautiful.org. The goal: to highlight the good things happening amid tragedy. 

That first year the blog went viral, receiving most of its traffic from North America, Canada, Brazil, Europe, Australia and the Philippines. I wrote as I could muster the time and energy, gaining followers along the way. Then, after Chad’s death in late 2017, I took a writing hiatus. My children and I desperately needed time to travel and recover from what had been the equivalent of a natural disaster, and I’m glad we did. Unbeknownst to us, a global pandemic was right around the corner. 

Fast-forward to this past year. In January 2021, I took a leap and joined a community of writers that inevitably networked me with many of today’s bestselling authors and literary agents, particularly those in the genres of faith, science, spirituality, and self-help. My author website, www.lorijude.com, launched this past November, and I’ve recently stepped into the managing editor role here at Bridges Magazine. 

Today, I’m gleefully leaning into the writing life full-time, learning much, and saying Yes to all the right-brain, creative experiences I can muster. Over the years, many things have shifted, plummeted and not gone according to plan. But despite the transitions, the losses, and the gains, my soul has found solace. Inwardly, I know that things may not have worked out the way I had planned, but they are working out exactly the way they should. 

Turns out, life isn’t just funny, it’s a gift! And it’s true what they say – our lives really are storybooks. And I’m committed to sharing mine, both right here in beautiful Appalachia and far across the globe.