Thursday, June 12, 2014

How A Gentle Tug On My Foot Gave Me Courage

My Uncle and Evie
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

“We will take him home and we will love him.”
Those were the words that my grandma told me my grandpa said to her when my uncle was born with Down Syndrome.  That was nearly 50 years ago when taking home your baby with Down Syndrome was not as “usual” as it is today. 

And love him they did…and still do.  We all do.
But why did my grandparents do that?  Why did they decide to break with status quo and take home a baby born with a genetic syndrome that would bring with it many, many serious complications like open heart surgeries and developmental delays?

Two reasons…Love and courage.
My grandpa was buried with a small black and white photo of him and Joel in the breast pocket of his shirt.

It probably comes as no surprise that, when my own baby was born, I immediately drew strength from the example that my grandparents had given me…
We will take her home and we will love her.
On the morning following Evie’s cancer diagnosis, while everyone else was still asleep, I was awoken by a short quick tug on my foot.  The hand had reached around my foot and the thumb of the hand had pressed firmly into the arch.  I turned as I sat up, but found no one else was awake.  That was impossible…I could still feel the place where the thumb had pressed; I could still feel the warmth of contact.

At first I was disappointed to have been awakened.  I was emotionally and physically exhausted.  However, I couldn’t fall back asleep so I got up and went down the hall to an alcove set up for visiting and using the computer.  I sat down and began to pray.  I felt peace, I felt strength and I felt courage the longer I prayed.
When I told my sister about the incident that had happened, her response was the same as mine. 

Grandpa woke me up.
It was his characteristic way of waking us up when we’d sleep at their trailer in northern Wisconsin.  Because my sister and I would sleep on the “table” after it had been collapsed down, my grandpa would wake us up when he was ready to make breakfast. 

He’d wake us by tugging on our feet. 
God took my memory of my grandpa, one of the most courageous men I have ever known, and stirred in me the desire to portray such courage to others.  God reminded me of his promise to go before us and prepare a way by tugging me awake there in that dark room on that dark day. 

Today is Grandpa’s birthday, and while he’s celebrating it in Heaven with Jesus, we still celebrate it here on earth with the memories of such a strong and courageous man.
Pray:  Lord, this world can be so frightening.  We know, though, that you are in control, that you are sovereign and just.  Help us to remember your promises in any way that you can~we tend to forget them when we are in a tough spot.  Amen.


  1. What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing and praise be to God for parents who didn't listen to the cultural expectation for special needs back in the day.

    1. Thank you, Lorna~indeed, I'm so glad that the world is FINALLY starting to recognize the beauty and potential for all of us!

  2. This was very touching - thank you for showing us how to see as God does.