When the Doctor Says Down Syndrome

About 8 years ago my husband and I were in Walmart, and we passed a young couple with the cutest little girl in their cart. Her blonde pigtails bobbed as she looked up at me with her blue, almond shaped eyes. I could tell as soon as she looked at me that she had Down syndrome. 

The first thoughts that went through my head were, “Oh my goodness, she is so cute,” and then my mind went to, “I hope we don’t ever have a kid with Down syndrome."

My son, Jackson, was born probably 2 years after I saw that little girl. 

He was 3 months old when we found out he had Down syndrome, and it changed our world. (You can read a little bit more about that here.) 

I don’t think I would be making assumptions if I said that people have probably had the same thoughts I had 8 years ago when they see us with Jackson. 

I've seen people look at us with pity. 

I’ve seen people look at us as the wheels were turning in their heads, probably trying to figure out what I did wrong while I was pregnant that we had a child born with special needs. Wondering what sins we committed to be given a disabled child. 

I am sure that people asked themselves something similar to what Jesus’ disciples asked him, "who sinned, this child or his parents, that he was born with Down syndrome?”

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How Jesus Did Friendship

Your best friend—that person you tell everything to, the person included in all your plans.  When you get the job you hoped for, she celebrates with you. When you absolutely must talk it out, she stays on the phone all night with you. When tragedy strikes, she cries with you. 

Your inner circle—those women who have been part of your life for many years. You’ve raised children together. You’ve road tripped together. You’ve buried a parent or planned a wedding together. 

An acquaintance— someone you once worked with, the lady you sit by in church, or the high school classmate you rarely see but always say hi to. The PTA president at your kid’s school.

To me, relationships are like the rings that tell the age of a tree—small circles then larger circles extending outward. At the core, you find the BFF. The circle closest to you are those you do life with, the inner circle. In the outer rings lie a multitude of friendly acquaintances. 

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How to Resist Temptation

Temptation: The Beautiful Fraud

When I was young and heard stories of the devil, I saw him as depicted in all the childhood books. He was hideously ugly and donned a red suit with horns and a pitchfork. 

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that the devil comes in the prettiest packages that appeal to all of our earthly desires.

Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? 

I have. And it was captivating. The moment was unexpected, unforgettable. He took my hand and pulled me in. Our bodies kept time with the music—swaying, turning, spinning. The room lit just enough to follow with my eyes the structure of his face and the contour of his frame. The smell of sweet seduction surrounded us.  His whispers enticing me, appealing to every sensation. Promises of gratification and fulfillment, alluring and blinding.  We danced. I thought the song would never end.  

Do you know this man I speak of? Have you met him?  Maybe you are with him now.

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Why Does God Allow Pain?

"But the day of my trial would come,
Like an earthquake to my beliefs.
And the doubts I could not outrun,
Brought me to my knees.

And I thought I was done,
And I almost gave up.
When my whole world was crashing down.
Now I can't shake this truth,
After all I've been through somehow,
Lord, I believe in You more now"
- More Now, Carrollton

We have all been through something that has made us feel that way. We have all experienced something in life that has shaken our faith completely and made us fall to our knees asking why. 

When I was probably 4 months pregnant, I remember standing in the shower and being overwhelmed with the need to pray for my son to not have Down syndrome. It just hit me out of the blue. “God, please. Please don’t let this baby have Down syndrome.” 

Then I remember I felt like that sounded pretty rude, so I quickly followed it up with, “Not that there’s anything wrong with people who have Down syndrome, they’re wonderful people, but just….please don’t let my baby have Down syndrome.” I didn’t pray for my baby to not have Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, or any other kind of genetic disorder. Down syndrome was the only thing that even crossed my mind. I’m a worrier, so I just brushed it off as me dwelling and tried to go along my merry way.

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Daring to Pray Bold Prayers- Healing and Restoration (aka Getting Your Jesus Cape Back)

You may be familiar with Stella and how she got her groove back. It’s the story of a successful black woman in her forties who finds love in the islands after a friend encourages her to “get back out there, date, have some fun.” Stella sets her sights on a younger man then soon realizes the need for balance between love, companionship, and responsibility in life.

While Stella found her groove in a guy, I found mine in Jesus. This is a story of healing and restoration, of how Jennie got her Jesus cape.   

In 2013 a tragedy devastated my left arm. The arm, as it was affectionately known, was completely useless. I could not move it, could not use it. I could see it there. I could feel its existence, but I could not do anything with it. My left hand was rendered useless as well. I could not move a single finger, make a fist, grip, or pinch. It was like the power to my left arm had been shut off. I wondered if maybe it would be paralyzed, be lifeless forever. 

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Lessons I Learned From My Parents: Later I learned they were biblical

When I think of my parents, a few select memories always come to mind.

My earliest memory is of living in a trailer in Leesville, going to a beach, and being surrounded by my parents’ long-haired hippy friends and rock music. I recall my dad’s green truck, our tiny dog Georgie, and honeybuns. The honeybun was always the half my dad saved for me while he was at work. 

I remember in elementary school wishing so badly that my mom would be a room-mom, one of those ladies who spent their free time organizing and coordinating class activities. How cool it would have been to see my mom at school!

I remember in junior high my mom driving my friends and me all over town—to the mall, to slumber parties, to school events, to church, and to an Expose concert. Even though my mom drove us everywhere, we surely couldn’t be seen with my mom, so she always walked behind us. I still feel awful about this, but come on, I was 13!  

I remember in high school fighting with my dad about curfew, not understanding why at 15 I had to be home at 11:00. Surely he knew all the fun happened later than that; what if I missed something?   

 As a child I thought my parents were the best. As a teenager I thought they were ridiculous. Now as an adult I’m pretty sure my parents are genius, right up there with Einstein!

I have lived 43 years in the presence of my parents and realize they have become a reminder of how I am to live my life since accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. So much of what they have taught and modeled is rooted in the word of God. They may not even realize this. 

These are lessons learned from my parents that later proved biblical:

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For Grievers Stuck in Their Grief: Do You Want to Be Healed?

Disclaimer: If you are in the early stages of grief, click away from this post. This post is for people who have been grieving for a long time and are stuck in their grief. 

Are you stuck?

Stuck in the pit? 

The pit of grief?

Oh fellow griever, it’s time. It’s time to move forward. Notice I didn’t say move on…. that’s not what we’re working toward here. We’re working toward forward movement. I want you to know joy again.

Read John 5: 1-9

This passage of scripture spoke to me like none other in my grief journey. God pulled the scales off my eyes as I was reading, and I thought, “THIS. This explains my responsibility in my becoming healed.

When we begin reading, we see that Jesus was back in Jerusalem and at the pool of Bethesda. We also learn that there were a lot of sick people by the pool. According to different studies, it was believed that an angel would stir (or trouble) the waters, and only the first person into the pool was healed.

At the time of the man’s encounter with Jesus, he had been lame for 38 years. That’s a long time, my friends. Now comes the interesting part. Let’s look at what Jesus says to him in verse 6:

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Uncertainty, Doubt, Shame, Guilt, and Bestie Texties

Bestie Texties:  I wasn't sure if this was a commonly used term or one I made up….until I googled the term and saw that “textie” is now used to describe people you text all the time, like besties. (Thanks, Urban Dictionary.  I was worried you would give me an inappropriate definition, but you kept it clean, win!)  For me, it describes the text messages I send to my close friends.  I usually refer to them as my “if I were to actually do status updates on Facebook, this is what it would be…”

Ironically enough, I am not one for public sharing on social media or online (this is a blog post, I know, but God has a good sense of humor…).  On the other hand, get me around a group of friends, or even new acquaintances, and if the occasion calls for it, I will happily tell my embarrassing stories, even the ones that I told myself I would NEVER tell because everyone doesn’t need to know every detail of my life.  Have some decency, Samantha!!!  But it never fails. I get around a group of people and the TMI stories eventually come out.

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How to Handle Your Curious Cravings

Curiosity killed the cat. While this isn't biblical, it sure fits nicely in the opening chapters of Genesis where Eve stumbles and falls and takes her husband down with her.  Moreover, there is much to learn from our Lord's wise warning in Genesis 2:17,

"You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die."  

Why do we feel the need to know? Better yet, why do we feel the right to be informed? How much heartache and misery we could be spared if we truly heeded God's warning

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Parenting a Teenage Boy: AKA Surviving the Terrible Teens

Fourteen is rough. So are fifteen and sixteen. Now that I think about it, thirteen should have been the clue--the clue that my son was changing. 

His dad had told me this would happen. "No, not Jacob," I thought. "He's so sweet. He's different." Well I was wrong. Jacob is not different. He is normal and just like most teenage boys I have encountered. 

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Failure isn't Fatal

I'd watched the Biggest Loser over the years but wasn't an avid fan. As I watched contestants sweat profusely, vomit, and pass out, I thought, "Man, that looks hard."

It is.

I thought maybe we'd ease into the workouts. I mean they had told us we were not just obese; we were MORBIDLY obese. Obese as we were, we were jumping into the deep end with the first workout.

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