I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Smallest Voice Can Have the Greatest Impact

Good morning, readers! Lisa here bringing you a public awareness post instead of a traditional Ponderers post.

Our Ponderer friends will recognize this sweet guy’s smiling face. For those of you who may be new to the MBT Ponderers blog, this little guy is Ollie, the nephew of our very own Melissa Tagg

We have been praying for Ollie (and his parents, Amy and Chip) since the day we learned he had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

Despite his special abilities & challenging health issues, he has brought a lot of joy and delight to his family... and those of us who never tire of Aunt Melissa's Ollie stories and YouTube videos.

This past Saturday I spent a beautiful sunny day inside our local Holiday Inn attending a six-hour training for my day job in early childhood education. As someone who works with children on a regular basis, I understand the importance of being a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Kurt Kondrich, a husband, dad, former police officer, and an early intervention specialist, directed the first session, Meet Chloe’s Dad—The Importance of Early Intervention. Instead of boring the room with facts and statistics, he made his presentation personal by sharing his story. Kurt’s youngest child Chloe was born with Down Syndrome. Through early intervention, Chloe has overcome many challenges that accompany her special abilities such as reading by the age of 3, attending a full inclusion classroom, and meeting with political officials, community members and major sports personalities for her small voice to be heard.

Today is World Down Syndrome Day. The 21st signifies the extra chromosome people with Down’s Syndrome possess. (And Melissa told me Ollie is 21 months old today!)

Fifteen years ago, my niece was born prematurely due to prenatal complications and special abilities. Through the years Lilly has taught our family what being special truly means. She ministers to people with her unconditional love and ability to encourage others. Her sweetness hasn’t been soured by the cynicism of life. I simply can't imagine not having her in our lives. Naturally we'd prefer she didn't have the physical and medical issues that limit her. God knew what He was doing when He gave her the parents she has. They are her voices when she can't speak for herself. 

This isn't a typical MBT Ponderers post, but writers yearn for their voices to be heard. Imagine if no one could hear us? Then what? Wouldn't we want someone to speak up for us? 

These are just three children of thousands upon thousands whose voices can easily be drowned out. Our words and our actions need to be their loudspeakers. If we partner with our friends who have special abilities, then we can be their voice and advocate on their behalf. And the smallest voices can have the greatest impact. After all, God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called. 

Your Turn: Has your life been blessed by a child or adult with special abilities? How can you help be a voice?

Lisa Jordan


  1. This is probably one of my all-time favorite posts on the MBT Ponderers -- if not my favorite.
    When I found out about my surprise pregnancy at 41, I wrestled with the very real possibility that our unborn child might have Down Syndrome. That idea wasn't going to change our decision to embrace the pregnancy. Several years later, as I wrote a book for late-in-life moms (or Mommies-Come-Lately), I dealt with the concern many older moms face about the higher risk of birth defects, especially Down Syndrome. Two women -- and one dad -- shared their stories about their children being born with DS in my book. Hearing how blessed they were by their children so, so encouraged me. They didn't see their children as mistakes but as tremendous reasons to be thankful to God.

  2. Beth, I love your comment about those parents not seeing their children as mistakes.

    When Kurt shared his story about Chloe, he said so many people asked if he was going to sue because the doctors told them Chloe was perfect. He said why would he sue when the doctors were absolutely right--Chloe was perfect.

    For us, Lilly is perfect. For Melissa, Amy, & Chip, Ollie is perfect. God's perfect timing...God's perfect parents.

  3. Oh, tears! I love Ollie...and Lilly through you, Lisa...and now Chloe by extension.

    You know, when Ollie was born with his multiple heart defects and DS, I did have a couple people make such ignorant comments about the extra challenges he faces. And I had probably a dozen snide responses whirl through my head. But later I realized, probably these people have simply never had the joy of really knowing someone as miraculously amazing as Ollie...or Lilly or Chloe. They're stuck in decades-old assumptions. And I needed to just let it go.

    I love that when Amy and Chip look at Ollie, they don't first see his DS or his heart issues or his trach or the scar on his chest...they see their son.

    And isn't that how God looks at us? He doesn't see our weaknesses or issues first...he sees us, his beloved children...to whom he gave purpose simply by creating us.

    Okay, off my soapbox. Absolutely beautiful post, Lisa. Thanks for honoring Ollie, Lilly, Chloe and all children with special abilities!

  4. Melissa, I love what you said about Amy and Chip seeing Ollie first as their sweet baby and not his DS or trach.

    I have to admit that I've expressed concern with my sister about Lilly's special abilities, but not to be ignorant. We simply know she will have medical issues and other challenges to face throughout her lifetime. However, God is doing amazing things with Lilly. She texts me, IMs me and reads!! That's a huge huge huge answer to prayer. And it's God's timing too.

    Thank you for letting me borrow Ollie for the day.

    ~And they are precious in His sight.~

  5. Oh yeah, Lisa, sorry, didn't mean expressing thoughts about the challenges themselves is ignorant...it was more the lack of understanding or sensitivity with which people said them. Obviously, Ollie will face challenges a lot of kids don't. But some people tend to talk about that as if it's a death sentence...instead, to me, seeing what Ollie has faced so far and what God has already brought him through gives me SUCH incredible joy.

    But I certainly didn't mean to make it sound like it's ignorant to acknowledge the challenges...hope I didn't come off as too prissy. :)

  6. Oh no, you weren't prissy at all!! And I do know what you mean about the death sentence thing. Decades ago when people with DS or other special needs were born, their care and life expectancy wasn't great, but thanks to awareness, advocacy, and the grace of God, they have wonderful opportunities.

    My biggest pet peeve on the planet is the misuse of the word retarded. Fries my bacon every time, especially when I see my Lilly is a lot smarter and kinder than those who use the word in such an ignorant way.

  7. Effective and important, Lisa--so well done. Sounds like a great training day. Yesterday I was just noticing again that at the gym where I usually exercise (not a true workout) nearly all of the cleaning staff has DS in the midst of "perfect bodies." It feels like a put down (I hope not) or they may get govt. employment subsidies--but I try to remember to pray peace and encouragement on these workers, sometimes praise them, and am blessed by their sweet spirits and nearly ever-present smiles. Thanks for your post.

  8. My friend's special son is Jonathan, who reads a ton of words and like the other DS children mentioned, brightens everyone's day. My special little boy has autism. I hope he keeps his sweet, sunny nature like the DS children have as he grows up and doesn't become cynical.

    Thanks for this wonderful post and awareness for the special people in our lives.

  9. You all are so wonderfully amazing to support these kiddos. Thank you for all the prayers and support you have shown our son!

  10. I've been blessed by friend who has a child with autism. I've watched the love, patience and faith her entire family has with him. It's amazing to see how far he's come. He's 17 and going to college. Way, way cool to see.
    My entire family has been blessed by him and watching how far God has brought him.
    Alena T.

  11. Ollie is so precious! My daughter is an Occupational Therapist who now devotes her life to helping kids like this.

    Glad our Ponderers blog can be a voice today!

  12. Lump in my throat and tears in my eyes after reading this post, Lisa. Thanks for sharing it. When I was in high school, I attended a youth group in which one of the young men had DS. I also have the privilege of watching children with special abilities each week when I take my oldest to occupational therapy. I'm so much more aware of the sweetness of the natures of the children who attend the clinic each week. I have enjoyed getting to know a few of them a little bit as they reach out with uninhibited smiles and questions. :)

    Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

  13. Great and beautiful post, Lisa. My nephew was born with spina bifida, and has faces many challenges. But he has never let his difficulties slow him down. He has a degree in psychology, drives his specially equipped van where he wants to go even in St. Louis, and is a joy to everyone around him.

  14. Lisa,
    What a beautiful post and thank you for deviating from the usual Ponderer schedule. We have all been blessed by Ollie's progress, he has become a big part of the Ponderer family, which makes us all a voice for this cause!

  15. One of my very dear friend's son has DS and I can tell you, you've never seen anyone who worships God so purely. One day his dad asked him what he was doing and Evav said that he was talking to God. His father asked him what he said, and Evan said: "God said, I died for you, you worship me." I never forgot that.

  16. Such a cute picture, Lisa! Thanks for sharing!