More JOY in their arms, less FEAR of what a life with a child with a sparkly extra chromosome might look like.
More JOY in their hearts, less FEAR about what dreams those hearts might have to exchange for new ones when they let God do a work on the old.
More JOY in their lives, less life lived in FEAR.
For the last year, our team has had the honor of watching this beautiful family (who we now just call our “cousins”) boldly march forward and courageously run after the girl who lives life out loud.
Who seizes every moment.
Who makes the most of every day.
And this month, we’ve had the heart-melting privilege of watching from afar as two of them have traveled to China to reclaim hope for this girl who for too long has been called “orphan.”
Their joy in the journey to get their Joy in their arms has been one of the most humbling and inspiring parts of our year. The way this family has loved this girl that, until last week, they had never even met with abandon and abandoned FEAR to make her their own has had our team asking the hard questions ourselves.
Do we live so courageously?
Do we LOVE so outrageously?
Do we drop everything in the middle of a military move from one state to another to say YES to a God who opens doors where they were once shut and to embrace the “new” good life — while leaving behind the one that seemed pretty good in all its comfort already?
Do we live our lives with open hands and open hearts, out of our own minds so we can be all in HIS?
That’s the way this family lives … and the way the girl who now shares their last name lives every moment of her days.
Last week, Angela posted a video of Joy at a park in her province in China. This 8-year-old girl reveled in the animals and sea creatures she got to observe for the very first time in her life, and when she met a wolf, she couldn’t contain her intrigue and joy.
There, in the middle of the wolf exhibit, Joy carefully examined the wolf and his howl, and then, she bent down beside him in imitation and, with freedom and total abandon, joined in. (See the video on the Of Capes and Combat Boots Facebook feed.)
I beamed from my place at the computer where I watched this precious video Angela posted over and over again.
To see Joy in all her joy living life with such zest and vigor – FULLY PRESENT and FULLY PARTICIPATING in this one lone life she knows is a gift — it was freeing. It was invigorating. And it was convicting.
How many times have I been so inspired by God’s creation that I just wanted to join in but chose to refrain?
For fear of what people would think.
For fear of making a fool of myself in public.
For fear of embarrassing the children who are quickly coming to an age where they’re wondering if Mom is really cool. (No, babies. The answer is no.)
Watching Joy LIVE in the kind of freedom I only dream about unleashed something inside of me, and I found myself wishing I had the boldness to howl right along with the wolves, too.
But not everyone who watched this video felt this way.
After watching the video of Joy imitating wolves in a public arena, a few people alluded to the fact that they thought this display was sad and hard to watch.
Sad that Joy thought it was “okay” to act like this in public.
Sad that she didn’t know any better.
And I watched the same video again and this time felt sad, too.
But not for Joy.
For those of us so bound by the standards of the world that our spirits no longer know how to be FREE.
For those of us who’ve stopped living because we’re too busy POSTING and in a world of posting, EVERYONE can see everything we do.
We don’t need more Joys conforming to Michelle norms.
We need more Michelles embracing JOY’S.
To be free of the filters, free of social norms, free to dance like no one is watching and howl like the evening song will never end. To live life with the zest and vim and vigor without the shackles of the expectations of others wrapped around our ankles. That is FREEDOM! True freedom!
FIERCE, FEAR-LESS FREEDOM.
That’s what Joy teaches me.
More JOY, less fear.
Less fear of what people think.
Less fear of meeting the expectations of others.
Less fear of living up to a standard.
Less fear of doing this differently.
Less fear of not becoming “successful” by the world’s standards.
Less fear of living, REALLY LIVING, an exuberant, joy-filled, on-display-for-all-to-see kind of life.
More JOY in the journey. More JOY for the day. More carpe diem and less carpe HOLDEM and more living life out loud the way we have the freedom to live when our hope and our joy and our salvation are in Christ!
If our hope and identity are in Christ, shouldn’t we ALL live this free?
And yet, the Joys of the world reveling in this freedom are viewed as the “different” ones.
If we can just be honest, the world is not always kind to those who sparkle. Joy’s new mama has seen this again and again in China, where the stigma against those with sparkly extra chromosomes is so ingrained that she often had to protect Joy from the hurtful stares and comments of others.
I think maybe the world is so afraid of sparkle because it illuminates the dark places in our own perspective. It shines light where there’s darkness in our own lives and souls. And bringing into the light what was once comfortable in the dark is never fun or easy. So we dismiss it by making the sparkle strange. When in reality, God created ALL of us to sparkle.
God created all of us to be free.
He created all of us to shine.
He created ALL of us to live in FIERCE, FEARLESS JOY.
The way Joy lives her life each and every day.
On World Down Syndrome Day, may we ALL strive for more JOY, less FEAR.
Thank you, Joy and the Kreh family, for showing us how that’s done.
Want to celebrate that sparkly extra chromosome on World Down Syndrome Day? Join our team in wearing bright, fun or funky socks all day long. Feature your photos on social media using the hashtag #lotsofsocks and #morejoylessfear. And let others know that with Down syndrome, there’s nothing down about it. <3 Celebrate the BEAUTY in DIFFERENT.
Find out more information at https://worlddownsyndromeday.org/lots-of-socks.