Down Syndrome: A Blessing Not A Burden

CBS recently came out with a story with the headline: "What kind of society do you want to live in?”: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing. The article talks about how there has been a significant drop in the number of children born with Down syndrome in Iceland due to abortion. I have been incredibly saddened to read about this and the tragedy that is occurring in Iceland.  With the advances in prenatal testing, this is becoming more and more common all over the world.

How did we get here and what  kind of world do we live in where the most vulnerable of our society is stripped of the most basic human right, which is life itself! How have we come so far as a culture from understanding the true value and purpose of these individuals? I can’t even begin to imagine a world without Down syndrome, what a sad, sad world that would be! These children bring so much joy and happiness to life. Down Syndrome is a blessing, not a burden and it's about time we change our mindset. What if instead of saying “I’m sorry” to a parent who just received a diagnosis, instead we said “congratulations!” This would change perceptions and save lives! 

Over time, we have become a selfish society that does not cherish or protect the life of its most vulnerable members. Children with Down syndrome are specifically targeted through prenatal testing and are aborted and disregarded as worthless. If a prenatal test shows that a child has Down syndrome, parents are encouraged by their doctors to terminate the pregnancy. They are seen as a burden instead of a blessing right from the beginning. THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE. It’s time that we get to know the beauty these children possess instead of judging them based on what we think their lives will be like. So often parents are blind sided into focusing on all the things that can go wrong or the things they think they will be missing out on with a child with Down syndrome, instead of focusing on what they will be gaining: a precious child who was fearfully and wonderfully made. 

"So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them.” Genesis 1:27

Each one of us is a child of God. From the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, we all uphold dignity because God created us and loves us —all of us and those with a disability are no different. I have had the privilege of knowing and loving many people with Down syndrome and other disabilities and they are the most amazing and beautiful people I have ever known, each one a unique gift to our world. 

According to society's standards, a person's dignity is defined by their individual successes and advances. But I am here to tell you that a person's dignity is not defined by what they are going to accomplish throughout their lifetime, but rather by God’s love for the person they are.  Every one of us is unique and has something different to offer the world, including those with Down syndrome. The common misconception is that because a child has a disability, they are unintelligent or not capable, but that is so far from the truth. They are fully capable when given the chance and it is up to us to give them that chance of life, to flourish and grow to be all that God created them to be. 

I know the love and happiness that those with Down syndrome bring to life because I have experienced it first hand. They inspire me on a daily basis to be a better person and they have brought me indescribable joy. So much so, that I want everyone in the world to experience that same happiness and love. Their lives are worth living just as much as any one of us. We must give them that chance at life. 

We owe it to all those who have Down syndrome to stand up and protect their right to life,  because if we don't then who will? The change starts NOW, with each one of us. We can  be the change, we can educate people on the beauty of every single person with Down syndrome instead of focusing on what the world perceives to be a burden.  If only parents knew the joy and happiness their child could bring to the world or the tremendous blessing that the child will be to their family. No prenatal test can show you that. I am not saying it will be easy, because life never is, but it will certainly be worth it. I can guarantee that these precious children will capture your heart, forever change your life, make you a better person and fill your life with laughter and love. 

Patience In Waiting

PATIENCE.

This has always been something I have struggled with. It is hard to be patient today when we are living in a world where we can pretty much have whatever we want at the touch of a button. But just because we can have something right when we want it, doesn't necessarily mean that it is what's best for us or that we should have it.

Nothing worth having comes easily. Working hard for something or waiting for something that is just right and perfect instead of settling for second best is always going to be more worthwhile.

Luke 13:20 says, “The kingdom of God is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened."

Patience is a lot like baking cookies. They start out as a small piece of uncooked dough, but with time, they grow into bigger round cookies.


You see when you bake cookies you have to put them in the oven for about 15 minutes. You could take them out early after 5 minutes, but they wouldn't be done. They would not be what they are designed to be. They would be mushy and fall apart in your hand. But if you carefully follow the instructions and wait until the cookies are ready, when you take them out they will be baked to perfection, and taste way better than if you left them in for only 5 minutes.

WE ARE THE COOKIE!
We can rush and push things in our lives that we think should happen when we want it to happen. We can do things our own way, instead of waiting on God, but we may not necessarily be ready for what God is trying to give us at that particular time. We could be patient and wait for God to act in our lives instead of forcing things ourselves.

GOD'S TIMING IS ALWAYS PERFECT!

True patience is a virtue. Patience is the ability to have control over the impulses that occur when something disagreeable happens. Impatience is lack of self-control. This impatience can quickly grow into anger and irritability.  

How many of us lose our patience every once in a while? Some of us may even lose our patience on daily or hourly basis.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

We all have our weaknesses and we are all human and being patient isn't always easy. Waiting on God's timing can certainly test our patience as well as our faith.

Maybe you are waiting on a job, or waiting for your vocation to be revealed to you or maybe you are waiting for a future spouse to come into your life.

Whatever it may be, have patience with what you are waiting for, DON'T GIVE UP!

MAKE GOOD USE OF THIS TIME OF WAITING!

Time is a very important aspect of our lives. God gives us this time for a reason. It is a time to come to God and to grow deeper in love and trust. Do something for someone else during this time. Serve the poor, reach out to a friend in need, travel the world, chase your passions and listen to that still small voice inside your heart for His guidance. Discover all that God has created you to be and embrace this time to grow in patience, trust and humility.

Don't forget that God is working in all aspects of your life. In your mess, in your disappointment, your frustrations and even in your deepest heartache, He is there with you every step of the way.

Living a life of gratitude can be very helpful during this time of waiting. Instead of focusing on all the things you may want but don't have, focus on all that you do have and be grateful for all the ways that God has blessed your life. Don't worry so much about what's to come. If you  waste  your time  worrying  about the future, you may miss what God is putting in front of you in the present moment.

ST. FRANCIS DE SALES SAYS
"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset."

Every moment and every situation that you are faced with in your life is bringing you closer and closer to growing into the person that you were made to be.

THIS LIFE IS A JOURNEY TO HEAVEN.

Everything that happens to us on this Earth, amidst all the ups and downs, is to ultimately prepare us for our salvation. Even if you are confused and feel like you don't know what God's plan is, don't give up! Hope and trust that there is a plan, and a beautiful one at that!

The more joyful and peaceful you are during this time of waiting, the more fruitful the gift that God has in store for you will be. This gives purpose to your waiting and allows us to grow closer to God during this time.

Usually, we always want things to happen right away or in our own time, but we so easily forget that waiting on God's perfect timing is always going to be worth the wait. God's plans are always higher and better than our own.

God is incredibly patient about things eternal. Our angst, our impatience, our disappointments, and setbacks are in the light of eternity, pretty insignificant. Keeping our focus on Christ will help give us perspective. Whether it be in our prayer life, with our families, our ministry, or in the ordinary things of everyday life.

PADRE PIO SAYS
"I'm oppressed by the uncertainty of my future, but I cherish the lively hope of seeing my dreams fulfilled because the Lord cannot place thoughts and desires in a persons soul if He doesn't joyfully intend to fulfill them, to gratify these longings, which He has caused."  

DON'T LOSE HOPE!

God is always working to change your heart for the better through every situation. It's so easy to become hopeless during this time, but DON'T GIVE UP! God will never, ever give up on you and He will always provide. He loves you very much!

My prayer for you is that you may open your heart and allow yourself to be changed for the better and to use this time of waiting to grow deeper in faith and love.

Who Moved My Cheese?

Over the summer I was on vacation at the Outer Banks and while relaxing on the beach with my toes in the sand I picked up the book "Who Moved My Cheese?"  written by Spencer Johnson.  It was a simple but very profound book.The story is about 4 characters, 2 mice named Scurry and Sniff, and 2 people named Hem and Haw. They live in a maze and everyday they have to search the maze to find cheese to feed and nourish them. They quickly find the cheese station that has the cheese and every morning they follow the same routine of getting up and going through the maze to get the cheese. They did this for quite some time then one day they woke up and the cheese was gone. There was no more cheese. Instinctively, the mice Sniff and Scurry went around the maze searching for new cheese and quickly found a new cheese station with new cheese. Due to their human nature, Hem and Haw took a different path.

Hem was angry and said it was unfair that the cheese had moved and he refused to look for new cheese. He remained at the old cheese station while Haw eventually went out alone into the maze in search of new cheese.

Originally, Haw was afraid to go out into the maze and look for new cheese. He didn't know it but he was still being  weighed down by his own fear of the future. I think this is us sometimes. When our lives change sometimes we are asked to let go and adapt to new or different  things that God is placing in front of us, but instead we hold on to past things. Haw wrote : "the quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese." This is much like Jesus teaches us in the scripture in Isaiah 43:18 -19, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth." It is only when we fully let go of the past that we are able to embrace what God has placed in our path right here and now in our present lives. The sooner we accept and adapt to that, the sooner we will feel God's peace and grace.

If we inhibit any type of fear, that can hold us back from our full potential and can hold us back from that new place that God is calling us to. It is all up us, whether or not we allow God to use that fear to mold us or if we let that fear control and cripple us. If you are experiencing fear, view that as God's way ofgiving you the tools to help you grow closer to Him and deeper in faith.

Haw didn't fully realize, but he was letting go and trusting in what was ahead of him even though he didn't know what exactly that was because he hoped in the goodness of the future. We must use this as an example in our own lives in trusting the Lord. If we truly trust in God's plan for our lives wholeheartedly and trust in His love for us then what must we fear? Even with all the unknowns in life and when our lives don't always turn out the way we planned, we have to remember that Christ has a special plan for every single one of us.  A plan that is going to lead us to the most fulfillment here on Earth while striving to get to Heaven. You see, change can be a scary thing but it can also be a very good thing if we let it be. It has great potential to shape us and help us grow into the best versions of ourselves.

After searching for a long while for new cheese, Haw began to get discouraged that he would never find the new cheese. This is much like us and our faith. Sometimes we get impatient or discouraged throughout the journey, when really if we keep our eyes centered on God, He will bring us to the point where we are supposed to be even if it is not what we thought it would be like. Maybe it will take more time than we thought or maybe we will have to take a different path that we didn't think we would have to. But in the end when we keep our eyes and our prayers centered on Christ we will be led to exactly where we are supposed to be.

Haw soon learned that when he embraced the change and didn't give up hope, it eventually lead him to something even better: more cheese!

This is symbolic to our own lives too, as we fear change maybe because we are comfortable with our current situations or because we fear that the change is going to be worse than what we had before or currently have now. When in reality, when things don't go our way, even if we suffer for a short period of time, God uses that to shape our hearts and  lead us to something even better and even greater than we can image.  

Because Haw took that step into the unknown with trust that he would be nourished with the cheese, he was! This is the story of our lives. All God asks of us is a willing heart, a heart to follow Him and to allow Him to do the rest. As long as we are faithful to Him, He will guide us on this path of fulfillment and happiness. If we keep our eyes on Christ, He will nourish us along the journey and we will always be lead to exactly where we are suppose to be.

◄Deuteronomy 31:8 says, "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

He may lead us to places we have never known before in ways we never thought we would experience, but we have to remember that it is always for our benefit and for our greater good.

Hem did not want to join Haw in going into the maze to find new cheese. He was comfortable with the old cheese and wanted that back.  His stubbornness and resistance to change, held him back from growing into  his full potential. I am just as guilty as the next person in being stubborn and sometimes holding onto things, but we do this, we are only human! We hold onto things or people that are familiar as security when really our trust and security should be placed in God and God alone.

Haw was out in the maze for a long while alone, searching for cheese. And then he finally found the new corridor with the new cheese! It was there all along, Haw just had to find it. This is God's beautiful story for our lives. Sometimes He is trying to show us something or reveal something to us but we are blind to it because we are so focused on something else or we are holding onto something in the past. But when we let go of the past and truly immerse ourselves in the blessings of the present, God can create miracles in our hearts.

Often times in life we are faced with things that can change that we have no control over. So what will you do when faced with change? Spencer Johnson writes, "Will you believe that change will harm you and resist it? Or will you believe that it will help you and embrace it? "It all depends on what you chose to believe." (page 65) Sometimes all we need is a little faith to BELIEVE!

In the end Haw finally finds what he had been searching for, the new cheese, but he found  it in a place where he wasn't originally looking. He allowed God to use his mistakes to change him to be better. If we allow it, God can use His transformative power to change our lives. He surprises us with blessings in places we sometimes don't suspect.  Change is a chance to grow and learn, a blessing in disguise that can lead you to the bigger and better plans that God has in store for you. ENJOY IT, and EMBRACE this ever changing adventure we call life :)