This is my pastor and his wife and family. Are they not all so beautiful? I love this family and we have been so blessed by them and are so fortunate to partner with them in ministry at our church and in our community. They are just so special.
A lot of people look at a picture like that, though, and see a picture-perfect life. A happy family full of love and joy. Beautiful children and beautiful smiles.
And you know what? They are ALL of that.
But they are also no stranger to heartbreak and sadness.
You see, two years ago this past April, sweet Ashlyn was born (pictured above,held by her daddy). Unbeknownst to Pastor Troy and Shari, however, Ashlyn had Down Syndrome. They were understandably shocked and heart broken when they heard that diagnosis at her birth.
In the days, weeks and months following her birth, our church family watched our pastoral family struggle with tremendous pain and burden. They were vulnerable and real with us about how they were struggling. They were struggling to understand what God was up to. They were struggling watching Ashlyn struggling. They were struggling adjusting to a new kind of normal. And they did it all with grace and humility.
And, we all had the chance to fall in love with Ashlyn. This little girl, oh my! Not only is she such a miracle and blessing to her sweet mama and papa, but she is a blessing to our entire church. She is full of joy and one of the happiest 2 year olds you will ever encounter.
I remember crying when I first saw Ashlyn walking, realizing it didn’t come as easy for her and all she overcame to achieve that milestone. It’s something that can easily be taken for granted. But NOTHING is taken for granted where Ashlyn is concerned.
On the outside, it may seem like her whole life is a battle, a struggle. But in reality?
Her whole life is a celebration. She is just so, so beautiful. And when you look at her, and see her smile light up a room, you feel it. You can’t help but smile back and hold out your arms as she runs to you and gives you one of the best hugs ever.
Are you ready for this? Seriously, check out this cuteness.
Don’t you just want to crawl through that screen and give her a giant hug?
Last week, Pastor Troy posted a statistic on his blog that chilled me to the bone. Did you know that 90% of parents, when given the diagnosis of Down Syndrome in utero, choose abortion? 90%!!!
Let that sink in. It boggles the mind. I don’t even want to begin to imagine life without Ashlyn. I don’t want to imagine life without lots of Ashlyns. Beautiful children who bring such blessing and joy to everyone they meet.
So, in honor of Ashlyn, and Pastor Troy, Shari and Kyla (Ashlyn’s big sister), my family and I have decided to participate in Indiana’s 14th Annual Buddy Walk, to benefit Down Syndrome Indiana (DSI). I am so excited to honor Ashlyn by participating in this year’s Down Syndrome Indiana Buddy Walk and I invite you to be a part of it as well.
The Buddy Walk exists to promote acceptance, raise funds and enhance the position of the Down Syndrome community. Proceeds from the walk help fund Down Syndrome Indiana programs and services that help individuals with Down Syndrome and their families. I would love if you would consider supporting us financially and helping me to meet my goal to raise $500 for Down Syndrome Indiana.
Obviously, I have a personal connection for wanting to support DSI. I want to honor and support Ashlyn and her family. I want to help raise funds to support families affected by Down Syndrome. And the fact that I will be exercising to do it? Well, that’s just bonus.
I know some of my readers are in similar circumstances to our own, facing job loss and economic uncertainty and please do not feel obligated to give. I also know that there are those of you who are able to give generously and joyfully do so in many areas. Even if it’s $5, that is $5 more than DSI had yesterday, and every little bit helps.
All you need to do should you wish to donate is click here to go directly to my personal donation page. All donations made through the site are totally secure. I would also love to have you share this on Facebook and Twitter or e-mail this post to anyone who you think might want to support my family and DSI.
Please know that I commit to NEVER posting something on my blog that I do not fully support myself. I know this is not a typical post for me, but it is something that is close to my heart and you know, if you have been reading for very long, that I share my heart on this blog.
Have you ever walked/run in a benefit run? What was the cause?
Has your life been changed by a special needs child?