October is Down syndrome awareness month. A whole month dedicated to celebrating the special extra chromosome that Jack and 400,000 other people were born with!! Awareness...before having Jack I didn't realize how important the awareness piece was. When we got Jack's diagnosis at birth, my mind immediately thought of the challenges of having a child with Down syndrome and my own ignorance about what I thought life was going to be like. I frantically flipped through the books that ended up giving me outdated medical information and pictures of families...one with a mom wearing a corduroy jump suit and a kid with Down syndrome that had a terrible haircut. I was thinking...how am I suppose to relate? Is this our new life? And then the fog lifted and I started to talk and connect with people that were like us. I started to spend time with their children, realizing that their child was more like a typical child than what I perceived, seeing the joy and love their life brings to so many, that they are reading and writing, working and living independently, in activities, and thriving in society. Families were still going on vacations, living normal lives...and not wearing corduroy jump suits. :)
Also, now knowing that 90% of babies that are created just like Jack are terminated in utero, mostly out of fear of what they think it's going to be like, I can't help but share the beautiful things his life has given us so far. A mom wrote the feelings that are so close to my heart...please take a moment to read her article...
At Jack's dedication in June, I became so overwhelmed with tears of joy. We were standing in front of the congregation and I listened as Chris recited Joshua 1:9 to Jack and all those present. I watched as he looked into Jack's eyes intently sharing God's Word and our desire for his life. My eyes filled with tears. It was a beautiful thing.
So the title of this blog comes from a song by Gungor, Beautiful things.
Shortly after we committed to our role and responsibility as Jack's parents, some of our family and friends came up with us and shared in the promise to love and support us as we commit to raising him in a Godly home. The worship continued and although I have heard Beautiful Things many times, it was more powerful than ever that morning. The base drum was so loud and so moving that I just couldn't get my emotions together. But these weren't tears of sadness, they were tears of joy. Joy for the beautiful things that I have seen God provide through Jack's life.
You make beautiful things.
I have seen beautiful things in how this extra special chromosome has connected us with a supportive, loving, and amazing community of families that share in the joys and challenges of Down syndrome. I can not believe the love that I have even gotten from complete strangers. If it's a email message checking in, an encouraging comment or picture of their child, asking about appointments or therapies, or simply affirmation of feelings or thoughts that pass through my mind. We were just adopted into the best 'club' that we could ask for. They are all encouraging to me. This is a beautiful thing especially in the early days because you know they have had similar feelings as you and they are telling you how much a blessing your child will be. Everything that I listened to and trusted back then has shown true and I am grateful for their words. It really is true...the good moments have definitely outweighed the hard ones.
Could a garden come up from this ground?
I have never felt more love from our family and friends than in the past 6 months. It's amazing how much support we have received and excitement for what our path will look like in the future. I have seen relationships strengthened, encouragement and forgiveness expressed, and grace given. It's amazing how a 6lb 14oz baby with an extra chromosome can unite and put everything in perspective. We are surrounded by so many blessings in the people dear to us.
Hope is springing up from this old ground.
I find hope in the strength I get from my relationship with Christ. I have never been closer to God. It's a daily choice I have to make, allowing Him to have the control. I have to surrender my temptation to take control and rely on the promise that He has a much better plan for me. Sometimes I try to take the reigns back, but He quickly reminds me that He can handle it.
He is making me new.
I ask myself if I would have acknowledged many of these things as beautiful things before having Jack. I would like to think that I would, but honestly I don't think to this level and probably would have written them off as ordinary things. He is making me new. I truly have a better understanding of God's love and desire to guide His children. I have a new found purpose for my life, a deeper desire to be more like Him. To completely surrender my plans, to truly trust, and appreciate the many beautiful things that God has given me...including Jack's extra special chromosome.