Strength for the Climb

My blog is a personal journey of the blessings I have been entrusted with and the strength I have been given to make the climb. I invite you to follow along as I write about faith, family, and Down syndrome.

Thank you for believing in me.

“Thank you for believing in me.”

I have been an educator since the fall of 2003 and I’ve come to realize that we teachers get the privilege of being “Chief Encouragers” to our students, to inspire them to their highest potential.  I asked my college students, “Have you ever heard anyone reflect about a teacher they had and complained that he/she believed in them so much, it made them want to give up?”

“No.  It should be our mission to cultivate an environment that believes in each other, that encourages one another to work hard, be responsible, and rise to the challenge.  That is what changes lives.  And the world.”

When we got Jack’s diagnosis, fear and doubt filled my mind, clouding my ability to see that I was equipped for this role of being his mom.  My thoughts wandered to all the things that were going to be difficult and hard. An overwhelming amount of grief set in, realizing what I had planned was not going to be and my uncertainty paralyzed me from believing and knowing how strong I was. 

 *photo by Jana Wick 

*photo by Jana Wick 

But you believed in me, our family, and Jack and because of that, your words became the truth that I replayed in my head. 

“Congratulations, he is perfect.”   

 “Jack will bring joy to your family like you’ve never experienced.  Congratulations on God’s gift to you.”

 “I love him so much already.  He is perfectly made in God’s image and I look forward to the many special times together as our families create and make memories!!! Jack is a beautiful blessing to us all. We love you all so much! Xoxo”

 "Baby Jack is loved beyond measure & has brought so many blessings to our family in these first few days already!!! I love you sweet sister of mine - YoU are AmAzINg!!!"

Each word I read over and over, especially when I didn’t believe in myself, you believed in me.  Those words were the truth I needed to hear in that moment, and it helped pick me up off the floor when I didn’t think I could, and it gave me hope.    

With tears, I looked down at this precious boy with almond shaped eyes, and he said, “Believe in me.”

And that’s exactly what we did. We decided that we would not let a label define him.  We would not let a diagnosis determine his life path.  We were certain we would not let the world decide who he was going to be. 

We would let the name Jack identify who he is.

We believe in our son.

 *photo by KaitlynC Photography 

*photo by KaitlynC Photography 

So, each day we strive to hold him to high expectations.  We challenge him and discipline him.  We provide opportunities and an environment for him to grow and thrive.  Isn’t that the best environment for us all? 

 *photo by KaitlynC Photography

*photo by KaitlynC Photography

When I am tempted with the easy decision to rescue him from something difficult, I’m sending the message that I don’t believe in him.  Realizing that much of it is my own feelings and I am again reminded, it’s not about me, but essential for growth.  As I already knew, but sometimes forget, change is difficult.   But we choose to let him go, to learn, to grow, to fail, to get back up again, and to fly.  We allow ourselves the vulnerable space to trust that there are people (like his amazing teachers, therapists, and classmates that have a heart of gold and drawn to rock stars like him) that join us on this mission to help him live his best life.  Ultimately, him being the best teacher to all of us.  Thanks, Jack. 

 *photo by KaitlynC Photography

*photo by KaitlynC Photography

I recently heard in a podcast that if we are looking for an excuse, the world will give it to you. 

We don’t want an excuse for Jack or our family, we want what everyone wants in life…to be seen, heard, valued, and respected and that takes responsibility on both our parts. 

Because of your support and belief in us along with responding to His calling, we chose to pour encouraging words into a letter to a new family in March of 2014, with the delivery of our 1st Jack’s Basket.  And yesterday, I had the pleasure of delivering our 500th basket to a beautiful, precious, baby girl who is absolutely perfect.  A masterpiece, created in His image to do great things.  As I walked down the hall of the hospital I was so emotional trying to grasp that 500 babies have been honored, celebrated, and encouraged on this new journey.  Each time I deliver a basket, I remember those feelings I felt when I had Jack and it’s an opportunity to encourage another family with the truth. 

“You’ve been chosen for this gift, and your baby will change you for the better.  I promise you.  You can do this.”

 *photo by KaitlynC Photography

*photo by KaitlynC Photography

Because of your belief in me, lives have been changed.  A story is different.  A baby is celebrated, and welcomed into the world.  Parents have been congratulated and given hope.  Thank you. 

As we embark on this Christmas holiday may we realize the wonderful miracle of an unexpected pregnancy, delivered in a stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes, the birth of the Son of God.  Because of your belief in Him, may your heart experience peace knowing your future is all a part of a perfect plan He has for you.  May your life be an encouragement to those around you, bringing life and belief in a Savior that has come to save the world. 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours. 

Thank you for believing in me,

Carissa and family  

 *photo by Jana Wick 

*photo by Jana Wick