Today is WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY and we celebrate it because we have been blessed with our son, James! James has Down Syndrome. He has the best personality; he is witty and fun. James just loves life and his family. God has taught us so much through him. He brings more joy to our family than we could ever imagine!
24 years ago, we did not know what life would be like with James. I remember praying and asking the Lord: “Can you help him to let me know what he needs, and can You help me make him happy?”
Well, God started answering that prayer in the next few months as we got to know our little guy. His sweet smiles and expressions of joy became so precious to us. Even before he had words, he was able to communicate to us what he needed. We learned to celebrate every milestone he gained because he had to work so hard for them.
I thought about my prayer this morning and remembered that moment when I held him, not sure of what the future would be like for him. I believe God answered my prayer to help make James happy above and beyond what I expected. But I realize now that even though I do all I can to make him not only happy but responsible, respectful, and kind as well, it is God who makes him so happy and full of joy. That joy is a reflection of who God is. God is full of joy and enjoys the moments. He celebrates every little thing and He sings over us with joy!
As I look back over the years, to those moments early on with our little guy I remember how full of questions we were and how afraid we were for his future, I am in awe of what God has done.
James enjoys life! He brings more joy to our home than we could ever have imagined. He loves his family. He enjoys his friends, experiences, church, volunteering, art classes, musical theatre classes, working out, playing basketball, WWE, helping at home, dancing and singing, digging in the dirt, and the daily trip to the Dollar Store to get his diet coke and chips more than anyone I know.
God has been so faithful to us on this journey. We are better because of James and how much he has taught us. We have learned to slow down and celebrate. We have learned how to be happy about small things. We have learned how to be better cheerleaders for each other. We have learned how to be generous with our words of affirmation for each other.
Several years ago, James asked Jesus to come into his heart and several years later he got baptized. It was such a sweet thing to see him respond to the Lord. Now, James wants everyone to know the Lord. He volunteers at church and puts invite cards together in little bundles so he can personally invite people to come to church everywhere he goes. There are several people that actually go to our church now because he invited them!
James also loves to pray. While listening at his door, I hear him pray out loud and say “God, it’s me, James.” He goes on to pray for his family and friends, and any concerns. He has simple faith and it is so sweet to hear him just talk to God.
We could never have imagined what this journey with James could have brought us, but it is good and we are grateful. It has been a journey of faith; of learning to trust that God would give us what we needed to raise our sweet son. It has also given us a more eternal perspective. James will not always have Down Syndrome. He will live in Heaven with a perfect mind and body. What we have seen on this earth in God’s display of His glory is just the beginning. May God give you a glimpse of joy and purpose on your journey today.