Down Syndrome Awareness Month | Joyful Mamas | Guest Blogger: Sarah Teed

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."  Psalm 139:13-16
"I was 37 when I found out I was pregnant with my third child, William.  Because I was older, I knew that I had an increased risk of having a child with Down Syndrome and prayed throughout my pregnancy for the health and safety of my baby.  When it came time to do the normal pre-natal testing for spina bifida and Down Syndrome at 16 weeks, I declined because I knew that I would not choose to abort the pregnancy if the results came back positive.  Thus, when Will was born at 37 weeks of pregnancy, I had no idea that he had Down Syndrome. It took our pediatrician about 4-5 weeks to make a firm diagnosis. When we received the news that genetic testing had determined that Will did have Down Syndrome, we went through a period of grief and mourning the death of the dreams and expectations that we had for him.  However, we had much to be thankful for in the midst of this difficult news – Will was very healthy and did not have the heart problems usually associated with Down Syndrome. We had lots of family and friends that loved, encouraged, supported, and prayed for us during that time of adjustment. They also continually reminded us that God had not made a mistake and that He would bless us through William.  God had placed William in our family and we knew in our hearts that he was a gift just as precious as our normal children and that God would give us the strength and grace we needed to love, parent, and provide for him – whatever his unique needs were.
Our lives were turned upside down at first while we adjusted to our new normal of a child with special needs. I unexpectedly had this new responsibility of accommodating Will’s out-of-town therapy needs for his developmental, physical, and speech delays while still parenting two other children, being a wife to a very busy husband, and taking care of a home.  However, our family soon adapted to our new routine and Will quickly became a beloved and meaningful part of our family and did everything we did from going out to eat, to church, to athletic events, and to Bible Study. Our new life had many challenges to overcome but much joy as well. Our family developed new priorities and God taught us much through William, and still does.  He helped us see that our worth, as God’s creation, is independent of any disabilities we might have and that we should not value people based on worldly standards. We are surrounded by a world that values physical beauty, athleticism, talent, and intellectual ability. If you do not possess these qualities, you are invisible and marginalized in our culture. William is none of these but he is happy, loving and funny in his own unique way and a tremendous joy and blessing to our family and community.  
William is now 19 years old and has an engaging personality, a great sense of humor, is very active, and never meets a stranger. He is energized by doing things and connecting with people and enjoys an activity the most if he can do it with someone else.  He loves the piano and all kinds of music and loves to dance. He also loves to swim, tube at the lake, ride bikes, play basketball, rake leaves, build chains with links, play cards and dominoes, and work puzzles. His grandmother adores him and loves for him to visit her on weekends where they enjoy going out to eat, going to church, and playing with links, cards and dominoes.  I can’t go anywhere in town without people coming up to Will to give him a hug and share a kind word. My elderly parents are in a local assisted living facility and Will’s daily visits are the highlight of their day! Will has his own unique personality just like the rest of us and it brings me so much joy every day to see how his fun and loving personality brightens the lives of those around him.  His smile, hugs, dancing, and excitement over making a very long chain, tubing behind the boat, and jumping off of the diving board, warm my heart with joy. You can make him happy by simply giving him a bottle of his favorite blue Gatorade to drink. He is unaffected by the cares and stresses of this world. There is much to be valued in, and learned from, his simple life with simple wants, needs and expectations.  
The most important thing any of us can do is to let God reveal His glory through our lives and gifts.  God never promised us that our lives in this fallen world would be easy and struggle free. He did, however, promise to be with us. (Psalm 23)  In the midst of our challenges and struggles, God calls us to respond in a Christ-like way that draws us and others closer to Him, matures our faith, and brings Him Glory and Honor.  Although I often fall short of this high calling, God has taught me much through William about trust, patience, obedience, and finding joy, in the midst of worldly imperfection. God has used Will to reveal himself to us and give us new insight into what really matters in life. Will has made our family, as well as the world around him, more loving, compassionate, kind, caring, patient, and selfless.  
Galatians 5:6(b) says The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” God has poured out His abundant love on Will through our family, friends, church, and community; and in return, God has poured out His love on us through Will.  While Will may be “disabled” by the world’s standards, he was created in God’s image and God is “able” to use William, with his disability, to bless others and teach us about God’s unconditional love, compassion, and patience. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Cor. 1:27
Will was fearfully and wonderfully made by God and all of his days were ordained by Him and written in His book before he was conceived. Psalm 139:13-16  I am eternally grateful to God for William and the joy it is to parent him and be loved by him.  I cannot imagine my life or family without Will and cherish and celebrate every day God gives me with him!"

Thank you so much for sharing Sarah. Your words and Will's story are so profound. So thankful for that!

To follow Sarah & Will, visit her Instagram & Twitter.

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