When my second daughter was born with Down syndrome, she challenged what I viewed as perfect, worthy, important, and valuable in life. I had wrongfully received her as a broken baby because of my own ableism and negative disability attitudes, only to quickly recognize that I was the broken one. The treasures I have discovered along the way remind me that our value is not found in our strength, performance, eloquence, or achievements.
In this blog I write with gritty honesty and openness on issues of faith, disability, parenting, and adoption. Once in a while I even write confessions related to these topics. What you will find here is sometimes raw, but it’s real, because my life is messy, and broken, and beautiful.
I was the Parenting Editor at The Mighty. I’ve also written for the Huffington Post, Charisma Magazine, Focus on the Family, Momsense, Kid’s Nation Magazine, Irresistible Church blog, LifeWay’s ParentLife blog and magazine, and other publications. I’m was the Disability Ministry columnists for Group and the Special Needs Parenting columnist for ParentLife. I’m a contributing writer to the book, Gifts 2: How People With Down Syndrome Enrich the World, the SpiritLed Women’s Bible, and Jot That Down: Encouraging Essays for New Writers.
On the other hand, I dream of writing fiction and one day winning a Newberry medal. We all have dreams, right? I am currently querying agents with my middle grade novel. Keeping my fingers crossed.
I am an avid reader and if I can’t read, then I listen to books on tape.
I’m also a national speaker and present on issues of faith, disability, parenting, and adoption. I speak at churches, women’s groups, women’s conferences, ministry conferences, small groups, schools and retreats.
I often present on The 5 Stages of disability attitudes. If you want your church to start a disability ministry, or if your church is already doing disability ministry, make sure to listen to this presentation.
I host a podcast with my best friend, Erin, it’s called: Unexceptional Moms: Hope and Encouragement for Special Needs Parents. We are on iTunes, and Spotify, and Stitcher. You should stop by and listen to one of our shows. Consistency is not what we are known for, but we have great conversations around parenting disabled kids.
Besides being a writer and speaker, my most important roles are within my family. My husband, Andy, really is my better half and I don’t mind admitting to it. I wish I was more like him. He was a pastor for 13 years before pursuing a career as a Licensed Professional Counselor. So for 13 years I was a pastor’s wife, but please know that I am a broken person with much need of grace. I never played the piano and I can’t sing. Instead, I teach Zumba.
We have three girls, and two of them are disabled. I never thought I would end up being the mom of a child with a disability, let alone two of them. Nevertheless, in many ways disability defines our family and this is our “normal.”
I founded Disability Matters, an organization with the mission to encourage every church to embrace disability and the vision to see disability as an organic part of every church. The organization is transitioning, as I am nondisabled and feel strongly that disabled people should lead the efforts regarding disability within the church.
Through Disability Matters, I travel across the US speaking at churches and conferences providing training, awareness, coaching, consultations, and teaching about the 5 Stages of disability attitudes. I basically help churches understand why disability matters within the church (from a Biblical perspective) as well as help identify the steps needed to become disability friendly.
I used to host The Accessible Church Podcast. While there are many great interviews, as I have grown as an ally, I stepped away from the podcast to allow actually disabled individuals to take the space that rightfully belongs to them.
I’m Latina, born and raised in Mexico City, which makes me a Chilanga. My abuelo made me fall in love with his magical city of Guanajuato, which I also consider home since I did live in the state for five years. I moved to the United States when I was 17 and thankfully I was already bilingual. However, assimilation did a number on me, and I am still “recovering” from what it took away from me. One thing it took away is my accent, because I worked so hard to not sounds Mexican. This was a result of lots of teasing and “performance requests.” I have memories of crying on the floor of my college dorm trying to get my vowels just right. I hate that I felt I had to sound a certain way in order to fit in. So now, a middle age woman, I am trying to figure out what it means to be fully me. My Mexican side and my American side.