When my second daughter was born with Down syndrome, she challenged what I viewed as perfect, worthy, important, and valuable in life. I had received her as a broken baby, only to quickly recognize that I was the broken one. The treasures I have discovered along the way are not found in strength, performance, eloquence, character or confidence. They are found in brokenness, where beauty is found unexpectedly as a result of God’s love and compassion transforming my life.

I am a writer and speaker, and in this blog I write about finding beauty in brokenness with gritty honesty and openness. I tackle issues about faith, parenting, special needs, adoption, and confessions related to these topics. What you find here is sometimes raw. But it’s real, because life is messy, and broken, and beautiful.

On the other hand, I dream of writing fiction and winning a Newberry medal. Hey, we all have dreams.

Andy and EllenBesides being a writer, my most important roles are within my family. My husband, Andy, really is my better half and I don’t mind admitting to it. He’s a real man of integrity. I respect and admire him greatly as he works with people and difficult situations, I wish I was more like him.  He’s a pastor, so I guess that makes me the pastor’s wife, but please know that I am a broken person with much need of grace. I’m not the typical pastor’s wife so you won’t see me as the leader of every children’s ministry or women’s ministry, I don’t play the piano, and I can’t sing (I wish I could). Instead, I teach Zumba.

Family photoWe have 3 girls. Ellie, our oldest, is a talented little artist and one of the most accepting and compassionate  human beings I know. Nichole is our youngest, she has Down syndrome, and she is a rascal. Then there is Nina, our middle child, who joined our family through international adoption; she has cerebral palsy and severe trauma. I never thought I would end up being the mom of a child with a disability, let alone two of them! Nevertheless, now disability defines our family and our church. Most days I love it!

You want to know one of the biggest passions that developed out of the children I have? To see the church embrace people with disabilities. Not out of pity or out of service, but out of a genuine understanding, acceptance, and celebration of their life. My oldest daughter says the passion I have towards this effort is my, “job from God,” I believe that too.

A few months ago I founded Disability Matters, an organization that seeks to encourage every church to embrace disability.

As a speaker, I address topics of faith, disability, and adoption. I also help churches figure out steps they can take to become more disability friendly. I really do love my job!

I am a Latin girl, born and raised in Mexico City. I moved to the United States when I was 17 years old, and thankfully I was already bilingual. English has become my first language. I don’t think I have an accent, but there are some words that give me trouble, because of the many vowel sounds and combinations in the English language. On the other hand, I can roll my Rs like a champion, can you?

Now that you are here, I would LOVE to connect with you.

you are enough book coverSign up to receive email updates and a free copy of my ebook, “You Are Enough,” a compilation of posts about disability, parenting, adoption, and a God who changes lives, and it is free! I gathered the best posts from this blog and put them together in an easy ebook format for you. In these pages I offer hope and encouragement for the realness of life. You cannot buy this ebook, the only way to get it is to subscribe to my email list. So go ahead, sign up now!

I’m so glad you’re here!



  1. says


    Your blog looks great! Keep up the good work! I love these two pics of your family – and your hair looks so good (I say that with a little Christian envy ‘cuz I have problems getting mine to look good :-)

    So glad I got to know you a little before you moved…hope you can go to Michigan for the Breathe Conference in October! I’ll try to check in and do the writing prompt with you each week….

    Blessings to you and your precious family,


    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Oh Robyn you are great! And I am planning on coming, it is in my calendar and Andy knows he will have to be in charge of the kids!

  2. says

    I love this new site (and your other blog). The pics are great too. I need a good long sit down at Starbucks to bust out a writing prompt. So good for the soul. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Thanks for stopping by Heather, I hope you do join the writing prompt! We are all learning together as we go :)

  3. Cathy says

    Thank you for inviting me to this site. Love looking at the photos and hearing about you and your family. You are a gifted writer Ellen. I am retired now but still sub occasionally in ele. resource and reading classrooms.


  4. Lisa Freeman says

    Hi Ellen! I lost your phone number from my phone. I’d love to catch up with you again now that the kids are back in school. Hope you are all doing well. Take care!

  5. Beth Carrell says


    I went to school with your husband and got to your blog from Facebook. I just wanted to tell you that I was deeply, deeply touched to read your post about your beautiful child with down syndrome. She is absolutely beautiful. What a gift all of your children are and please, keep spreading awareness that all children deserve a right to live and to be loved. May God bless you and your family today and every day.



    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Thank you Beth, for taking the time to leave a comment here. And yes, I love to share the beauty of my child. She might be “differetn” in some ways, but her life is beautiful and we are so in love with her. :)

  6. says

    Ellen, It was so nice to meet you at the Breathe Conference. I read some of your bio to my wife, who also grew up in Mexico City and moved to the States when she was seventeen. Her mother is from the US and went to Mexico for a semester of foreign studies and came back 25 years later!

    We are the family that has 12 children. 8 adopted. 2 sibling groups of 4. 4,4, and 4. My wife warmly refers to them as the original recipe, crispy, and extra crispy.

    I could go on quite a while about our story but maybe another time.

    Again, it was good to connect with you!


    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Jerry, it was so great to connect with you! I see you have a blog as well, I will have to stop by. What did your wife thinking about moving at 17? It was hard for me! And I would love to know more about your adoption stories, have you blogged about those?

  7. LUCIANO says

    I am looking forward to meeting you this weekend in the Great Wolf Lodge WI. Are we going to have many planned activities or is it going to be mostly unscheduled?

  8. Sheila says

    Hey sweet Friend! We love seeing and hearing about your family! I miss you! Hope your birthday was a blessed one. Loving you!

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Thanks Sheila, hope your birthday was great too! I got to celebrate wit my entire family, so that was really nice. Hope you are all doing well, we miss your family!

  9. Jessica says

    I stumbled upon a picture that had your website at the bottom of the photo. The picture caught my eye because the little girl looked identical to my little girl, Ava. Same hair, body build, facial features, glasses, and braces. Even Ava and the family was convinced it was Ava. It is the picture of her putting on braces. Amazing blog, story, and encouragement you are to many people. May God continue to bless you and your family!

  10. Korin says

    I stumbled upon your site through Facebook as someone had shared your post “I See You”, I read it and it describes me in a lot of ways!! I have a 4 year old son who was born blind and has many medical conditions and is developmentally delayed. It most definitely takes special people to be the parents of such amazing children. I would not change my life the way it is for anything in this world. God has blessed us with these little angels for a reason. I will continue to follow you on here!!! God bless!

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Korin, thank you for sharing about your son. And yes, my kids with special needs are a blessing in my life. Amazing how God has used them to change my heart.

  11. Linda says

    Ellen, I found a like to your blog on Facebook and enjoyed reading your post about being a pastor’s wife who sometimes doesn’t feel like going to church. I’m sorry you’ve felt that way but, I can certainly understand! My husband of 26 years is also a pastor and we have three boys. Our youngest, Nathan, has Down Syndrome. He is 16 now (his brothers 18, and 21) I’ve gone through some difficult times in the last few years and I’m so proud to say our church has loved me well. (we’ve been in other places of ministry where I couldn’t say that) They have let me take the time I’ve need away from responsibilities at church. They have shown real concern for me as a person during this time. (Physical problems, leading to depression/anxiety) I’m so proud of them and can say how thankful I am to be in this place of ministry during my difficult days. I pray you find even one of two ladies who can love you for you, no matter how you are doing.
    So glad I found your blog. I plan to look around some more. Thanks for blessing me with your writings.


    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Hello Linda, so glad you found me here, and thank you so much for reaching out! You certainly understand as a pastor’s wife and as a special needs mom :)

  12. says

    Hi Ellen: So glad you love to write. I am thankful for the internet today. I have met so many wonderful women who impact our worlds with their words. I write as well, but struggle to carve out the time to do what I enjoy most.

    God bless you as you share your heart with us.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Sharon, glad we can connect here! I stopped by your blog and I loved the message of hope and redemption you share! Dealing with our past and allowing God to heal us is life changing!

  13. says

    Beautiful baby, beautiful mommy and beautiful blog. No, I can’t roll my R’s. Can you speak with a sweet southern belle accent? (Haha neither can I despite being one).

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      No I can’t! But I can do Italian, Spanish, and Mexican accents really well 😉 Being around people from the south really makes the fact that English is my second language stand out more, because sometimes I have a hard time understanding the accent! And they talk so fast! :)

      Although, I do consider English my first language now. I dream in English, I write in English, read in English. My Spanish is getting rusty.

  14. says

    Wow. A friend shared a link to your blog on facebook and that is how I found you. This is amazing! I haven’t found many blogs for special needs parents that see it the way you do, or the way I do. I have four children, two of them (both the boys) have autism and other special needs. I love how you talk about the treasures you find in raising children with disabilities–that is exactly why I named my blog, Treasures In The Dust–trials embraced, joy discovered. I can’t wait to join in some writing prompts and to have time to read through your posts!

  15. says

    I have just had my beautiful daughter Ariel who has Down Syndrome. We are planning to blog our journey too. So glad to have found your site and I am looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      So glad you made it here! Please keep me posted, I would love to stop by and know more about your journey!

  16. says

    Loved your most recent article about special needs kids. I am a mom of 6, wife, daughter, sister friend and many more things.

    My husband and I have two bio boys and 4 adopted children from China. I have written a book about our lives (up to now) and about each of the kids adoptions. We adopted at 3, 12, 6 , and 12. They are now 16, 22,15, and 19. Our biological boys teach english in China and help run an orphanage in Fujian, respectively.
    Do you ever feature new books on your sight that are faith based? Just wanted to inquire and see if you had any interest in my memoir. If you do I would love to send you a copy and see what you think of it–
    Chinese Take Out : An Adoption Memoir (Tate 2014)

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Sheila, I do feature authors and their books through author guest posts. Send me an email!

  17. Rachel Wilson says

    Hi Ellen, What a blessing to find this blog! I am a pastors wife and Mum to two autistic little beauties, looking forward to reading more : ), Rachel x

  18. says

    Hi Ms Ellen, I came to know your blog while reading Charisma Magazine online. In fact before reading your blogs/articles I was feeling down and discouraged having difficulties in raising my youngest son, who is a special needs child (down syndrome) age 11.
    But after reading your articles, I felt so lifted up and encouraged, in which you shared your life so honestly, openly and positively in raising special needs children. You are such a great inspiration and encouragement and I salute you. May God ‘s richest blessing be upon you and your family.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment! Blessing to you in Malaysia!

  19. JT says

    Ellen, i dont know what to say, i am so deeply touched by your story and the strength you have displayed which no doubt is God’s strength, you are a remarkable person and if there were more people like you this world would be a better place, god bless you and your family, best wishes from Australia, JT

  20. says

    thank you for your post about the church is forgetting us… your words have been on my heart for some time… I have a daughter with suspected mitochondrial disease… and I am looking to connect with other parents with kids with chronic conditions in a chirstian setting…. but have found it much more difficult than I would have ever thought…leadig me to believe I cannot be the only mom seeking this type of support and realizing when I look around the congregations I have been visiting that it looks vastly different than even my child’s preschool class where 2-3 kids out of 15-18 had special needs. with autism rates growing and 50% of children today sufferinf from a chronic ilness… these families and children have to be somewhere…just not in church :(

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      No, not in the church. This is a big passion of mine, and I am working on something, with some people. We need to advocate in the church too, and help people see the value of ALL life. Thanks for your comment, and keep posted, news is coming 😉

  21. Jason Wong says

    Hey Ellen,

    Good stuff. Keep it up!

    Me and my wife are both pastors and a few months ago, our lives changed forever. Our dear second son was diagnosed with CDH in the womb. After birth, he was in the ICU for 6 weeks and then in the respiratory ward till he was 4 months old. We’ve just brought him home a couple weeks ago and boy what a time of depending on absolute grace for all the transitions.
    There were so many complications and we understand the possible implications on how his growth and childhood might be affected. Yet we have a good God. We’ve seen one miracle happen already. He had a large hole in his heart and was scheduled for an open heart surgery but it has disappeared and his heart functions are normal! He’s still on a pressure breathing machine at home 24hours a day. Others could ask all the ‘whys’ as to why his heart is miraculously healed but why is his lungs still so underdeveloped.
    To us, we have decided to as you put it, fiercely love this boy even before this birth. We’ve been encouraged by your life and family. It helps and keeps us going and going and going.

    Bless you!

    The Wongs (Malaysia)

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Jason, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment, I am so sorry it took me so long to reply. It is interesting, isn’t it, that when God heals an are of our lives instead of being thankful and celebrating, others can ask, “Why not heal more?” We rob ourselves from the opportunity to see miracles. how is your son doing now? I am praying!

  22. selena says

    I can’t tell you how happy I am that I found your blog. You.
    I find myself struggling through the fears and the obvious day to day challenges.
    I’m a mother of two. One eight year old girl who is a strike of lightening but when it comes to her brother she’s a gentle angel. Nurturing and loving. Kannin is our rascal☺ he’s a seven year old with epilepsy. He’s our little gift. I’ve had many dreams where he’s talking, running, aware. But I couldn’t picture life any different. Just like you. I’m not the same person as I was. In fact he’s still teaching me. Well in all they both are.

  23. says

    Hi Ellen,

    I am also the Mom of a child with special needs and a writer, who blogs about how my son has changed my life. He is an amazing little boy, and you are so right. When I found out he had autism, I felt he was broken, only to find out that I was the one broken and he was sent by God to heal me! He has changed my life completely and opened up my eyes to what is possible and to the beauty all around me. We are also a Christian family and my church has embraced Michael and accepts him unconditionally. He just did his First Communion! :) Your post made me cry and laugh and see myself in every word! Thank you for sharing it. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Ellen Stumbo says

      Joanne, it sounds like we have a lot in common! So glad you stopped by and thanks for taking the time to write. :) I will check out your blog!

  24. says


    I, like so many others, are encouraged by your honesty. Thank you for being one that charges the way for me as I begin to process how special needs may affect our life. We have essentially two sets of twins under the age of 3. Life is busy and then we just found out at the Mayo Clinic our oldest adopted son has Epilepsy. I am in the middle of processing what this could mean in our journey of life. I feel like the father of a son having seizures in Mark, “I believe…Help my unbelief.” Anyway, I just signed up for your free ebook and I look forward to the late night moments in my day when I can begin reading through it! God bless!


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