In Defense of Downs

With wide eyes, she sat there trying to digest the news her doctor had just delivered.
Her baby boy would probably be born with Down Syndrome.
At 22-years-old, she found herself in that cold, sterile hospital room racking her brain:
would she be adept at handling a child with a severe disability…
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I recently read a report, which sought to call attention to the issues with the new non-invasive prenatal screening tests for Down Syndrome and other conditions.
At the forefront of problems with these tests is the overselling of their accuracy.
This article led me to another regarding the invasive procedure, or amniocentesis, which allows doctors to analyze cells from amniotic fluid.
That article then lead me to countless others explaining that upwards of 90% of women who discover they’re pregnant with a fetus that tests positive for Down Syndrome abort.
There is debate over the exact accuracy of those statistics.
Irregardless, it is safe to say most women who find themselves in a position similar to that of the 22-year-old I mentioned choose to have an abortion.

I could launch into a pro-life, religious, personal, and political rant about abortion.
But instead, I want to tell you a story about a boy I had a standing date with
every Friday morning this past semester.
He is the world’s most handsome blonde haired, blue eyed three-year-old.
He gives the best hugs you’ll ever receive.
He also moves at the speed of light.
He comes alive at the sound of music,
And dances like no other.
His name is Fitts & he has Down Syndrome.
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One hour with him is the most compelling case that can be made regarding the intrinsic value of the lives of children with disabilities.
There is not a room Fitts enters that is not illuminated.
He daily challenges our cultural idea of “perfection,”
by proving that differences are beautiful, relatable, and real.
He is a constant reminder of the Gospel’s message of unconditional love.
His developmental milestones may look different,
but I assure you that I no more rejoiced over his increased use of sign language
than I will when my own child learns to read.
Fitts’ life splashes an array of color all over our dark world.
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As it turns out, that 22-year-old woman bravely chose to give her child life,
staring a sea of unknowns and fears in the face.
That woman was my hero, my mom,
and her “baby boy who would probably have Down Syndrome,”
was me.
Obviously the doctors were wrong on two accounts.

I won’t ever be able to articulate the deepest gratitude I have for her decision,
for the gift of this messy, joyous, painful, and abundant life.
Yet I am just as grateful for Fitts’ life, for Brett Hampton’s life, and for every other child like them.
Each and every one are invaluable and bring something to this world that we desperately need.
So may we forever celebrate the color, the richness, and the depth that their very existence holds.

Resources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gabe-lyons/raising-children-with-down-syndrome_b_1260307.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo0RNd8d1TY

A Newlywed’s Wisdom

993379_10202116248091915_510470575_nIf you would like to quickly stir up controversy, talk to an intergenerational group of people about the recent trend towards marrying at younger ages.
My best friend, Kayla Hoffman, is one of those ‘rebels’ who wed at the ‘ripe age of 20.’
In my opinion, she daily makes a compelling case for why age is often just a number,
when you have two people whose hearts and lives are surrendered to the Lord.
Kayla constantly amazes me with the wisdom she shares and I couldn’t help but pass along the conversation we had over text today:

“I see all of these articles online like “5 Steps to a Stronger Marriage” & “10 Ways To Make Your Relationship Last” that thousands of people have read and shared, including many Christians.

Being honest, going on dates, welcoming him/her home with a hug & kiss,
& giving him thoughtful gifts are all wonderful things and should probably be done in a relationship/marriage.
But why does someone have to tell you to do that before you realize you should?
According to our authority (God/Scripture),
we are to love our spouses like Christ loved us & the church. Which means ultimate sacrifice,
not just when things are pleasant & comfortable,
but also loving them through the pain & suffering.
In fact, it demands a willingness to go through pain & suffering FOR them.
Don’t you think if we viewed our relationships like the Bible tells us to,
there would be substantially less petty arguments/disagreements
& we certainly wouldn’t need an online list to help us have a lasting relationship?

So here’s all you need to know to have a healthy relationship:
Jesus.
Run to Him, turn to Him, lean on Him.
If you’re loving your spouse as Jesus has called you to,
you won’t need to be reminded to spend time with them or to do something that makes them feel special.
True love should flow out of you because it lives inside of you.
And only in Him will we find the strength & grace to love another as we should.”

See what I mean? She’s no rookie.

Her words resonated with me as I recalled similar articles I’ve recently read, including:
“10 Girls Christian Guys Shouldn’t Marry”
(which I obviously read to assure I wasn’t one such girl)
or “5 Qualities You Need In A Husband.”
In reality, the one commonality we all absolutely share is
We are sinners desperately in need of a Savior.

So I suppose we could carry on attempting to become marriage material, righting our relationships,
telling our significant other we love them 4.75 times a day,
and carving out an hour a day to really listen to one another.
Or we could admit that every “how to” guide in the world would fall short.
But the end of our strength is the beginning of God’s and in that surrender surfaces hope.
So may we stare at Jesus, be filled by Jesus, know our worth in Jesus,
and let love flow from Jesus.

We love because He first loved us.
(1 John 4:19)

When I Love Thee

5e51a1e70b44f1c6af69373e2eee87b4Not with doubting, but with assured consciousness, do I love Thee, Lord. Thou hast stricken my heart with Thy word, and I loved Thee. Yea also heaven and earth, and all that therein is, behold on every side they bid me love Thee; nor cease to say so unto all, that they may be without excuse. But more deeply wilt Thou have mercy on whom Thou wilt have mercy, and wilt have compassion on whom Thou hast had compassion else in deaf ears do the heaven and the earth speak Thy praises.

But what do I love, when I love Thee? not beauty of bodies, nor the fair harmony of time, nor the brightness of the light, so gladsome to our eyes, nor sweet melodies of varied songs, nor the fragrant smell of flowers, and ointments, and spices, not manna and honey, not limbs acceptable to embracements of flesh. None of these I love, when I love my God; and yet I love a kind of light, and melody, and fragrance, and meat, and embracement when I love my God, the light, melody, fragrance, meat, embracement of my inner man: where there shineth unto my soul what space cannot contain and there soundeth what time beareth not away, and there smelleth what breathing disperseth not, and there tasteth what eating diminisheth not, and there clingeth what satiety divorceth not. This is it which I love when I love my God

– The Confessions of Saint Augustine