By Judy Nichols

May 15, 2016


A line from a song we sang in church Sunday has been running through my mind: "You use the weak to lead the strong." I immediately thought of the parent-child relationship as the perfect example. Our children teach us so much. Though I was thirty-four when my first child was born, I have to say I don’t think I was very grown-up at all before that. There is so much we do not know, so much about responsibility, about real love, about discipline, and about deferred gratification, and parenting our children teaches us these things.

I am especially cognizant of the weak leading the strong because of my grand-daughter Sophie. She has Childhood Apraxia of Speech which is a developmental disorder in which the brain fails to naturally control the muscles necessary for speech. Having Sophie in our family has changed us in so many ways.

Her mother, my daughter, expressed this so well in her recent blog post. Because of her apraxia, her inability to speak, "so much of who she was remained hidden. But, oh, how we loved her. Simply because she was. . . I never for a moment considered her value as more or less based upon her ability to communicate verbally. . . Our journey through the silent years has helped me to open my heart and look on others as persons of dignity and value, regardless of their differences. . . I have been made so much more aware that every person has a back story that I cannot see. There is no room for judgment."

Because of Sophie’s apraxia, we have seen the goodness in others. "Even though she began this school year with essentially no verbal abilities, Sophie made two new best friends almost immediately. They wanted to learn to talk with their hands so that they could communicate with her. More so, her entire class treats her with kindness and is protective of her. . . When Sophie was diagnosed and we knew we had years of expensive speech therapy ahead of us, our community banded together to raise money to help pay for Sophie’s speech. Tremendous goodness."

Sophie’s apraxia has given us glimpses of miracles. "When life follows an ordinary course, miracles are harder to see (though I firmly believe they ARE there). When life is full of difficult or even impossible circumstances, success feels miraculous. Each time Sophie gains a new sound or expresses new thoughts and feelings, I feel like I am seeing a miracle. . . Because of her struggles, nothing about Sophie ever feels ordinary, and each moment feels miraculous."

"Apraxia has challenged us to see obstacles as opportunities. We have met people who have poured into our daughter’s life, and into ours by extension. . . We have seen the generosity of those whom we do life with. . . We had the opportunity to learn American Sign Language. . . Sophie is able to attend preschool and work with wonderful teachers and therapists. . . I furthered my pursuit of writing. . . We have banded together as a family. We have faced this challenge head on. We have worked hard. We have fought for our daughter. We have loved fiercely. . . I have been driven deeper into my faith, closer to the God who loves me. Because of apraxia, we are all changed, every one of us who know and love Sophie. This obstacle has become our opportunity to rise above, to fight hard, to grow, to deepen our faith."

"I don’t know what your obstacles may be today. I don’t know what challenges you face as a parent, as a person, as a friend, a child, or a spouse. But I do know that if you choose Him, God will use those challenges to shape your life. . . I want you to be aware of a God who loves you and who wants what is best for you and for your family, no matter how big your obstacles seem or how challenging your trials are. We don’t mourn our difficulties with Sophie because they have made us who we are today, and I firmly believe that we are better for it."

If you would care to read the full blog post, it may be accessed at

© Judy Nichols 2016

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