A view into the life of a family who encountered a different future than expected, but has become all the richer for it.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Walmart Walk

After I picked up Victoria from Mom's Day Out yesterday, I thought we might have a few minutes to take a quick trip to Walmart to grab a few items I had on a small grocery list. I loaded Victoria into the van and we went just a mile or less down the road to our local Walmart. It is sad, but Victoria KNOWS when we are getting close to Walmart. She begins to grunt to make sure I know that she KNOWS we are close to "Wally-World." She expects me to turn into the entrance and if I don't, well ... she grunts in contempt that I'm passing up one of her favorite places to visit!

As I turned into the entrance of Walmart, I began to realize that I, in fact, didn't have time to get everything on my list and began to turn around in the parking lot, opting to visit Walmart the next day. Victoria realized that I was moving further away from the store entrance and began grunting in protest. I giggled after hearing her "voice" her opinion! I decided to just go in through the garden center and only get two of the items on my list since I needed to pick my other two girls up from school shortly. At least Victoria would be able to make a quick trip in to get "Walmart" out of her system!

I usually plop Victoria in the seat of a buggy so I can keep up with her easily in the store. She can walk VERY well now and could definitely handle walking all over that store, but there is no way I could get any shopping done. On this day, however, I decided since I only would get a few items from my list ... I thought I'd let her walk through the store with me, holding my hand. I've not ever done this before, mind you! Victoria was so giddy as she walked through the store with me! It was quite funny. She would laugh and run in place because she was so excited. She felt like such a "big girl." She waved at every single person that crossed our path and talked to almost every one of those folks. Of course, everyone laughed or smiled at how cute she was and waved back at her.

I remember when Victoria was a newborn. One of the things that I grieved over was the thought that we would now be a family that folks stare at when we walk into Walmart or some public place because we have a child that looks different. Yesterday, as we walked through Walmart, I felt such joy holding Victoria's hand. I felt proud to be her momma. I bubbled up inside seeing her bring smiles to those around her. And, I felt blessed. Blessed to know that God has given me and my family such a special gift.

With every passing day and every trip to a public place ... I come to treasure those moments. I think, "What in the world was I grieving over??" I now look forward to the times that Victoria gets special attention from strangers we meet. I realize that God uses those moments to minister to people around us. Not only can my "special" little girl bring smiles to passers by, but it gives me and my family an open door to show those around us a little of God's love.

I'm so thankful that God continues to disprove all the myths I had looming in my head about raising a child with special needs. And, I'm glad that anytime I have a bad day ... I can grab Victoria up and drive to Walmart to take a walk (without buying a single thing) ... and I'll feel better by the time we walk out the door to go home!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Buddy Walking with Victoria

What a beautiful day it was for a Buddy Walk at Hank Aaron Stadium with our precious little Victoria! There were hundreds of folks in attendance and we all walked in honor of someone special in our lives.

I remember being nervous about going to the Buddy Walk last year. It was the first time I had ever attended that event. It was also the first time I had been around so many folks with Down syndrome in my life. I think I was nervous about seeing what Victoria might grow up to be like. It was another event that caused me to remember that my child was not "normal" and that she, indeed, had special needs.

This year, however, I was excited to be a part of such a lovely event. God has really softened my heart towards special needs individuals and their families. I realize that all of us parents just want our kids to be accepted and loved. There was such a moving moment for me during this year's Buddy Walk. As we rounded the field ending our first lap and beginning on our second, there were volunteers that were lined up along the sidelines clapping and cheering on all of the walkers. I had signs that we held up that said, "Walking in honor of Victoria Jayne." The volunteers read the signs and cheered for Victoria. They said, "Yeah, Victoria! Go Victoria! Great job, Victoria!" I about lost it. I realized that they were doing what I pray that people will do for Victoria every day of her life. They were cheering her on and supporting her. What a powerful picture of acceptance! That is all the parent of a special needs child wants ... for their child to be loved, encouraged and embraced.

I cannot tell you the love I felt toward all the little Downs kids I saw. I just wanted to hug them all! And, on top of that ... I wanted to hug all of the parents and let them know how special they are to love their kids the way they do!

This is an interesting journey I'm on and I'm enjoying it more and more every day. I realize that I've changed in the process. In walking down this path of faith, God has given me an even greater desire to minister to those who find themselves in situations that they would've never dreamed up for themselves. Maybe they are not sure why they have been placed where they are, but friends, God has a wonderful plan! They may not always see the hope in that plan, but it IS there! And, my prayer is that all of us are brought closer into a "real" relationship with our Lord because of our journeys!

Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I KNOW the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope!'"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jesus Loves Me!

Victoria recently surprised Mark and me when we were eating lunch after church one Sunday. Mark was asking Elyssa and Natalie some of the things they learned in Sunday School. The "Bible Point" they were taught that day was that "God Loves Me." Mark quoted the "God Loves ..." part and wanted them to fill in the word, "Me." Well, as soon as Mark could get the words out of his mouth, Victoria blurted out (in her own way), "Me" and pointed to herself. I was blown away. I guess I didn't realize that she had learned that in her Sunday School class, too. We had never heard her say, "me" before so it was such a fun moment for us! You just never know what even your "special" little kids pick up! I felt so proud of her! She's a smart little cookie!

I recorded Victoria while I sang "Jesus Loves Me" the other day and wanted to share this cute video with you. If this doesn't bless your heart ... well, I don't know what will! (Also note her sign language of "Jesus" in the song.)