Lisa Leonard Designs

a spark of bravery

June 21st | david, thoughts

Since David is about to turn 10 years old {gasp!} I’ve been reflecting on how his life has changed and molded me and made me more brave.

I remember a sunny Saturday when David was a baby. Steve and I {although we had no money} decided to splurge and go to Baja Fresh for lunch. I gathered diapers and food for David’s diaper bag while Steve strapped him into his car seat and off we went. When we arrived, Steve went up to order while I found a highchair for David and grabbed a table for us. While I was getting organized, I saw two boys, about 8 and 10 years old laughing and pointing to David. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could tell they had noticed his small hand with only two fingers and they were making fun of him.

My cheeks flushed bright red and my heart shattered into a thousand pieces. I wanted to climb under the table and hide. I wanted to grab David and run far far away where no one would ever be mean to him. I wanted to protect him from a life where the kids at school who would call him names and not include him in their recess activities. Instead, I sat there motionless while shame threatened to swallow me whole.

And then a spark of bravery ignited somewhere inside me. No. No. NO NO NO! I am not ashamed of my son. Yes, he only has two fingers on his left hand. Yes, he is different. But he is amazing and he is mine.

My first instinct was to go over and grab those kids by the collars of their tee shirts and scream at them. “How dare you laugh at my son!” I wanted to say. “You are awful, terrible kids!” But in my heart I knew. They didn’t understand David. They had probably never seen a baby with seven fingers. They were scared–so they tried to be cool.

Slowly, I unstrapped David from his carseat and carried him over to where the boys were sitting with their parents. I could see the looks of terror on their faces. They thought they were about to be in big trouble. But instead, I calmly said, “Hi, I’m Lisa, and this is my son David. I saw you notice him and I wondered if I could answer any questions for you.” They looked back at me with blank expressions. But the parents were incredibly kind. They asked how old David was, if he was healthy and thanked me for coming over to say hi.

I walked back to our table with my head held high and my chin quivering. It was one of the bravest and scariest things I had ever done. But I learned something about myself I hadn’t known when we left the house just a few minutes earlier. I wasn’t powerless. David was awesome–just the way he was, and I didn’t have to sit by and let shame swallow me up. I could stand up, I could be brave. And I thought maybe, just maybe I could change the world, one little conversation at a time.

279 Responses

  1. Janie says:

    Wow, I have tears in my eyes! What a gift David is, to show you real bravery. Happy Birthday fella! <3

    • Breanne says:

      Wow- thanks for sharing your beautiful story and being a strong, brave, and loving mother!

    • amy says:

      wish i could be that brave sometimes, i deal with cruel comments and looks for my son too. God, help us all to love our children just as you made them. good job, lisa

  2. Linda L says:

    Kids can be so cruel Lisa – you are awesome! – that was a courageous thing to do and David is such a lucky boy to have you as his beautiful Mum. You are lucky to have each other:-) xL

  3. Caroline says:

    So beautiful Lisa and so brave….and showing him, even in his very limited understanding that you are proud of him and he has nothing to be ashamed of! (I speak as a person with a small hand with missing fingers myself!).

  4. kelleyn says:

    Tears are rolling down my face! How terriable to have to go through this. So sorry!

  5. simplyblythe says:

    what a powerful moment.
    david is a lucky one.

  6. Priscila says:

    Wow.
    1- what a sweet picture!
    2 – I pray I can be half as brave as you were that day. I’m inspired to act braver!
    3 – what presence of spirt you had that day! Beautiful. Beautiful reaction, beautiful attitude, beautiful mama and child.

  7. Lisa says:

    I have five boys and I have one that has downs right in the middle of the group. I always taught my boys that instead of point and whisper, to ask the person something about them in a polite manner. Kids need to learn and with out that they giggle and point. I’ll never forget that day my son was about 6 and we were in line at the DMV and someone in front of us in line had this terrible looking face that even made me wince. My son politely asked him how that happened. The man smiled and told him not to play in front of trains. He happily told my son all about it and we laughed and chatted in line. You did great !! My personal opinion was always that kids that are different are here on earth to teach the rest of us these things. Hugs, Lisa

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for sharing this. This is exactly how I feel and how I respond also. My oldest is in a wheelchair and I try to make all looks a teaching moment. I also share with my younger ones how to talk to and to respond to people who might be different or who might stare. “One conversation at a time!”

    • Krys72599 says:

      Lisa, I admire your way of teaching and how wonderful of that man to be so kind and patient with your son. He had an opportunity to interact ABOUT his disfigurement in a dignified manner, rather than facing comments or looks that made him sad or defensive. I’m sure he considered your teaching, and your son, a gift that day!

  8. I have chills and tears as I read this beautiful story! Thank you for sharing Lisa! You and your beautiful family are without a doubt, igniting many, many others to be brave by your examples and indeed changing the world one little conversation at a time. Happy Birthday to sweet David!

  9. Kristen says:

    What a great act of bravery, and just what a lot of kids need – to be educated. It is heart warming to read about David and see his sweet smile in the pictures you post. It certainly seems that David knows how lucky he is. God bless!

  10. Southern Gal says:

    Beautiful – you and David and this event that shaped you from the beginning.

  11. Meghan Hall says:

    very courageous and I admire you for your strength- your love for your son (allof your boys including Steve) is so boldly displayed throughout your blog- thank you for sharing

  12. Diana says:

    What a beautiful story! Your son is blessed to have such a precious mama. Happy birthday David!!!

  13. Aida says:

    Happy birthday David you beautiful GIFT from God. Thank you Lisa for your bravery and for sharing with all of us.

  14. Michelle says:

    I am so proud of you and how you made the effort to get up, take David with you, and walk over to those boys and parents. Way to go, Lisa!!! David is a precious gift from God and I love to hear and see the LOVE you pour out on your sweet son! Happy Birthday, David! :-)

  15. Cristy says:

    what a beautiful story! thank you so much for sharing!

  16. Kristen says:

    Wow. Happy Birthday David. And thank you Lisa, for showing us we can all change the world! :-)

  17. sheri says:

    how awesome – David is one lucky little boy to have you as a mama. Happy happy Birthday little one :)

  18. Nadir@StitchSense says:

    Wow Lisa, you have moved me to tears this morning. Thank you for sharing this story & not being afraid to take a stand for your family. David is an amazing boy & you’re a wonderful mother to him. Thank you for your bravery, its helped me become a little braver today just when I needed to hear this. Blessings to you & yours!

  19. paige says:

    tears…

    & you are changing the world my friend, in so many ways.
    not only are YOU the amazing mama the lord chose for david, he has equipped you & will continue to be david’s advocate and his unconditionally loving mom.

    & you are changing the world through your business. your heart for the world. your generosity. your transparency.

    you are changing the world, many”one things” at a time way!

  20. E says:

    Thanks for being so open and honest–what a tough thing to do but so admirable! That’s the amazing thing about a spark…it starts off small, but huge forests have burned because of them. God bless!

  21. what a beautiful response. beautiful. your love for your children shines so brightly. they are awesome boys and have an awesome mama! blessings.

  22. jeannett says:

    someday i’ll be brave too.
    hugs and love.

  23. jennifer says:

    amazing.

  24. Ros says:

    You are very brave and David is such a sweet sweet boy!!
    10, wow…he is growing up so fast!
    Your story reminded me of something that happened about 11 years ago. My now 13 year old asperger son was probably close to 2 and we were at a (big box) store. He was overwhelmed (lights, sounds, sights, people, smells) and by the time we were in the checkout line he was DONE. Crying and what seemed like a tantrum, but because there are no outward signs that anything is different about him, a lady said, “if he were mine, i’d take him right out of here and beat his @$$!”
    As politely as i could, i said, “Then it’s a good thing he is MINE to love.”
    I don’t know if she would have understood if i explained to her what i was dealing with, and I may have not been so nice had i said more. ;-)

  25. LT says:

    What a wonderful story! I’m 34 weeks pregnant with my first, and I hope to be a brave and loving mama like you!

  26. aubrey says:

    amazing. thanks for sharing this.

  27. Kelly says:

    I’ve been following your blog for quite awhile and I’m sure if you go back and look at one of David’s birthday posts you’ll see a comment from me about my oldest boy sharing a birthday with yours. They’ll both be 10 this year. Our journeys through motherhood have been very different and I can only hope that I have been an example of strength & bravery for my boys that you are for yours. Thanks for sharing this story!

  28. Well now I’m crying. :)

    SUCH a beautiful story, and you guys are amazing. Since bringing our girls home, I’ve had the opportunity to share a bit about Down syndrome with people who have questions. I always share with an optimistic attitude in hopes that people will see my daughters for who they are, and not just for how they’re different.

    You are such an inspiration. Love and miss you guys!

  29. You’re making me cry! You are a super-wonderful mom. Good on ya for being brave. I suspect you did those kids an awful lot of good.
    `FringeGirl

  30. Deborah Annn says:

    Beautiful and made me cry.

  31. anne says:

    My cousin was severely mentally retarded, and I had many experiences with her where we would cause a scene and I would have to deal with the reactions of others. If she started laughing about something, she would get almost hysterical with laughter if someone didn’t tell her to stop soon enough. Well, that would lead to her full-on wetting her pants, and still laughing. Once when we were both 16, this happened when we were at a store. When the pee hit the floor, people around us were freaking out. Amber was as big as me, and when she got into her “zone,” she would plant herself, and there was no way to move her along. “Come on, let’s go to the bathroom,” I would plead, but if she didn’t want to move, that was that. On this day, I felt like I would cry, but instead, I ended up laughing with her. I turned to our onlookers and said, “Could you go get us some paper towels?”

  32. Geneva says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure you wouldn’t change anything about David and the way he has changed your life. God doesn’t make mistakes. David is exactly the way God made Him. :) Thanks for sharing.

  33. Lennie says:

    That is amazing! That is exactualy what I wanted you to say you did! Those two boys will always remember that conversation and will someday realize the bravery that you exuded when you approached them that day. Great for you to concur your fear and be an advocate for your precious child. Great post!

  34. Julie says:

    Happy Birthday David!!!!

    This is a wonderful post. I was reading blogs from my bed before I got up to feed my littles and read your post. It served as a beautiful way to start my morning. So brave of you as a new mom to approach that family. You are an inspiration to all families.

  35. holly says:

    I am so glad you did this. there have been times when i wanted to take an opportunity to show my children someone who is different and let them see how although they are different, they are still people who love and get hurt feelings too. you see my children have never realized it, but their cousin is different, and has very unusual hands and facial features. to them she is just her and that’s the way she has always been. alothough it took so much courage for you to do it, you know what a gift you gave that family by showing them in a non threatening way that he is perfect just the way he is.

  36. Kelly Sauer says:

    Wow. I am crying. Wow.

  37. Miriam Prantner says:

    Love this story. Love your reaction, and how fortunate David is to have YOU as his mother.

  38. JAG says:

    Wow, what a wonderful, inspirational way to start my day! Thank you for sharing your story. I so enjoy your blog!

  39. Lisa, you are my hero. What a *perfect* way to redeem an ugly moment. Love you so much! Enjoy a wonderful summer with your precious, awesome boys!

  40. sheri anderson says:

    People can be very unkind when they see someone that looks different than they do. I guess they are afraid of what they don’t understand. God has blessed you and your family with a precious gift and your son will bring happiness and joy to all who know him!

  41. Zee says:

    What an inspiration!

  42. Debbie Karp says:

    I have tears in my eyes as I read your posting. That was an incredibly brave thing for you to have done, David sure is lucky to have you as his mom. Just as you are so fortunate to have your wonderful son. Many blessings to your family. Thanks for sharing your story, everyone is going through something and you never know who you may touch by sharing something about yourself. Thank you!

  43. Kelly says:

    A powerful moment, indeed! What an amazing young man that you have and a wonderful mother that you are!

  44. Krysta says:

    And that is why God made you his mama. Awesome story. I bet you changed those two boys more than you’ll ever know.

  45. kate says:

    A friend linked your post today and I stopped by to see what it was about. I am now in tears. Our daughter, Jillian, home just 6 months from China, was born without a right hand. I am still learning to navigate life as a mom of a beautiful, smart, (OH SO) funny little girl…with a visible difference. Mostly children have just been curious…and we are all good with that…but we did have one incident where some older boys actually followed us out from gymnastics class pointing and laughing. I was not prepared for it and I have to say I DID cry all the way home…but I am working on that too…so, like you, I can be brave. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  46. WOW…this is a beautiful post. SO SWEET!

  47. Jo-Anna says:

    What a fantastic and brave story! You gave me chills! We are the voices for our kids – you did an amazing thing for yourself, David and those 2 boys that day.
    Jo-Anna

  48. Emmy Blakely says:

    You are amazing. I am continually so blessed by you. You have changed the world, and you make everyone around you better people for having known you. Thank you for blessing my day with this story. XOXO

  49. Karen Carr says:

    beautiful story! Let’s hope your act of bravery taught those boys that everyone is unique & to be more accepting. I am sure they didn’t forget you & in this crazy world, with all this bullying, I think you may have made 2 less bullys. Thank you for sharing & happy birthday!

  50. Mandy says:

    As an adoptive mama to a boy with a special need, I feel the hurt you felt in your heart that day! I have my little speached prepared whenever the time comes that he is questioned for his difference! I will remember this post as well!! Thanks for sharing your heart!

  51. Laurie Young says:

    What an awesome story and what an awesome mama.
    This was good for all of us to hear.
    God bless you all.

  52. Tina says:

    Thank you for sharing, Lisa, and reminding me that we all have a voice & can make a difference. Happy birthday, David.

  53. Lisa, you are an inspiration. It’s amazing what can happen when one chooses to be brave. Thank you for sharing this real and raw moment.

  54. Amanda says:

    Thsnkful for your heart to share this story!

  55. Ramona says:

    So inspiring! I’m a bit fiery when it comes to my family, I have no children, but lots of rescued dogs, nieces and nephews! I’m all about family and the tightness of the unit! We are the goofballs in every crowd and usually make spectacles of ourselves. I applaud your quick thinking, hopefully those children learned a lesson that will stick with them, as well a you did on how to handle a nerve wracking situation! p.s. you made me cry a little! :)

  56. Linda says:

    Way to go Lisa! That is what we all have to do educate people. My son has CF and I work so hard to keep his lungs in decent shape. And when I see beautiful kids with perfect lungs and smoking it kills me. Only if my Ben had those lungs that they have and have no idea what they are doing to them by smoking. I have to confront them. So far 3 people have stopped smoking because I said something to them. Guess that is what moms are all about. Proud of you Lisa.

  57. Jana says:

    I love this story. I have two boys, ages 6 & 4 and we were recently at the pool swimming and there was a handicapped boy there as well. Naturally my kids started asking me why the boy looked different, why he made noises instead of talking, etc. I answered as honestly as I could explaining that everyone is different and some people struggle to talk or walk, etc. The mom of the boy overheard me and did just as you did. She swam over to us with her son and introduced him to my boys. She explained to them why he makes the noises and what he was trying to say. I remember thinking it was so brave of her and I gave her so much credit explaining her child to mine. Her explanations were all my kids needed and they were happy to swim and play with this boy who was just a little different than them. I appreciated her teaching me, and my boys, a lesson that day. Kudos to you for doing the same for David. He is truly a special boy!

  58. kecia says:

    such a sweet story. been there so many times with Tucker- the heartbreak, the stares, the pitying looks of parents with normal children, etc. thanks for sharing,

    kecia

  59. Nicole says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. You are an inspiration to mommies out there. Happy birthday to your wonderful son!

  60. Maria Gomez says:

    You are brave!!!! Every day when a I see pictures of your son I admire you…and bles syou and your family..you are an inspiration for me!!!! Thanks god for have found your blog..I’m a latin mom..I’m read your blog every day and tried to write in my regular english..but i feel so happy to participate with my comments.

  61. Christy says:

    I am touched. You not only gave yourself power, you gave both of those boys a gift that they will never forget. The gift of acceptance! Thank you for being so strong and sharing some love. We need so much more of this kind of teaching!!!

  62. Lisa McGriff says:

    Tears… I’ve been where you are but in a different way. My oldest daughter has trichotillomania and for the majority of her 25 years of life she has had some–none-fuzz-spots– shaved… You see she has uncontrollable (at times) urges to pull her hair out. Middle school was a nightmare. She is strong, she is successful, she is mine, and I am proud of her. Hair, its just hair, thats what I tell myself, it could be so so much worse. She is now a pediatric cardiac intensive care nurse, what she was put through in school did not defeat her, it made her who she is. A strong-successful-Christian woman. Love you Lisa, thank you for posting this today!

  63. Pam L. says:

    What a wonderful story and brave momma! I hope this incident impacted these boys lives and changed the way they see people. Thanks for sharing!

  64. Karen says:

    Another one with tears here. What a beautiful story and what a beautiful lesson those boys would have learnt that day. It is easy to judge from a distance but when you get up close and see that its a real person, who is beautiful in their own special way every thing changes. Thank you for sharing your beautiful little man with us. I am humbled by your amazingness.

  65. melanie sunukjian says:

    Precious. Thank you for sharing, Lisa.

  66. karen says:

    Thanks so much for sharing, Lisa You and your sweet family are so inspiring. :)

  67. Liz McNeil says:

    Simply awesome!!!

  68. Emily says:

    Simply beautiful!

  69. Kellie says:

    I am the mama of three boys and I work so hard to make them embrace differences they encounter. I want them to be informed and sensitive.

    I applaud your bravery! Love that picture…what a cutie.

  70. Teresa says:

    Lisa,
    How blessed you are to have David and Matthias both! But how blessed they are to have you as their Mama! I’ve always known you are an amazing woman. . . this was one more reminder why I know that. . . xo

  71. Amy Hunt says:

    Yes! The power of a conversation! None are wasted!

    To remember that moment when you were carried by grace is a gift.

    Hugs, friend.

  72. debra says:

    Lisa, thank you for sharing your story! I also have a special needs child which I fear much of the same. You set a great example of what many paents can do to shed positive light on the lives of these special little people. Our children are blessings God has entrusted us to care for and learn from. It’s amazing how they can teach us something new each day. God Bless you, your family, and that handsome little man!

  73. Cheryl says:

    What an inspiring way to handle this. Happy birthday David!

  74. steph nelsen says:

    wow! tears in the eyes. you are a wonderful mother and person and your family is lucky to have you. we are all lucky to read this blog!

  75. Marina D-K says:

    What a beautiful story of bravery! Thank you ago much for sharing

  76. kristen says:

    David is a blessing! (that photo is just the sweetest!) And YOU are a blessing to him. You turned that moment into something good. I’ll bet those boys never laughed at someone who looked different again.

  77. tara says:

    Tears in my eyes. And THAT is why God let you be David’s mama.

  78. Rebecca says:

    What an amazing story and a true testament to the amazing mother that you are. God knew you would do right by this child. What a blessing.

  79. Rose-Anne says:

    Oh this just sent chills down my spine. What an amazing mama you are. And what amazing grace you extended to those kids. I don’t think I would have been so strong and brave in your shoes. Your son is so very lucky to have you. You are an inspiration.

  80. Heather says:

    Yay for you and how lucky is your son to have you in his life!!! Unfortunately I can relate. My daughter had a very large hemangioma in the middle of her forehead and we got the most terrible looks from people. I did the very same thing with some of the kids but I couldn’t get over the fact that grown adults would be so cruel. They knew better. I grew a lot as a person because of it. On the flip side, many adults would approach me with stories about someone they knew who had a hemangioma and the success story around it. Now when I see someone who is going through the same journey I did I approach them with a big heart and kindness that I know I needed when I was going through it.

  81. Melesa Garrison says:

    I’ve had such a great morning with a walk and devotional time before work. The morning was topped off with a story about a courageous , godly woman, showing her child how much she loves him ;) God has blessed you abundantly with two beautiful boys and a husband that stands beside you, but he has blessed you with something else because he has given you so much more than some people could handle. You are one special lady and are a wonderful example for your children and those around you! God Bless and Happy Birthday to David :)

  82. Kassie says:

    I’m crying!
    Sigh… kids are so hard and it really terrifies me as mama.
    So amazing that you were able to be brave and do that!
    David will need that a lot from his mama and God knew you could do it!

  83. that is the sweetest post I have read in a long time. I have tears in my eyes. thank you for sharing that amazing story with us all! David is such a beautiful child inside and out….he must have gotten that from his momma ;)

  84. debbie says:

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful story and your beautiful son with us.

  85. ZeMarmotte says:

    That’s a powerful story! I’ve got tears on my chicks but my heart is full of gratitude and joy for you and your lovely family.

    You were really brave and I don’t know if I would have been able to do the same. Congratulations. That was the perfect thing to do.

    Thanks for sharing the love that you have all together with your family. It is good to the heart.

  86. Araceli Hager says:

    so glad I read your blog this morning. I learned something. i learned part of being a mother is being brave. wow. i will wear my brave heart necklace now as a reminder of that and this story you shared today. thank you

  87. That’s rad! Gave me chills…

  88. melody says:

    I cannot see the screen through my tears. This was beautiful. Our God never gives us anything we cannot handle you just didn’t know you had that bravery and compassion in you until then!

    Much love,
    Melody

  89. Oh my goodness I am totally crying right now. What a great story! Beautiful.

    ~Angela~

  90. Megan says:

    Abraham Lincoln allegedly said once: “I do not like that man; I must get to know him better”- I think of this every time a first impression threatens to cloud my judgement. Good for you, mama.

  91. Dionna says:

    What a classy way to handle an otherwise hurtful moment.

  92. Laura M. says:

    one word. Inspirational. (okay 2 words)… Awesome!

  93. Lindsay says:

    What a lovely, strong mama you are!

  94. christy says:

    Happy 10th birthday David!

    I had tears rolling down my cheeks, could barely finish reading. What a touching, honest moment. Thank you for sharing.

  95. Robyn says:

    This is powerful! Praise God from whom all bravery flows. :)

  96. Molly says:

    Go girl! I’m so glad you were strong and loving, not angry and retaliating! My husband was recently minimizing my recycling efforts. I said and believe…’I can’t change the world, but I can still do something’! If everyone shed positive energy and behaviors, this world WOULD be changed. David is lucky to have you for a mom! God bless.

  97. Andrea says:

    Wow! Just WOW!
    Courage is truly doing something afraid! All mothers are courageous … in many ways.
    I will be courageous for my sons today, because of you.
    Blessings

  98. Andrea says:

    Lisa, that is a great story. Your restraint and gracious kindness probably taught those little boys more than a scolding ever could have…thank you for that. It would have been so tempting to be angry with them (I would have!). They will look back and remember when they are older, I am sure, and they will continue to learn from that moment.

    Your David is just precious.

  99. Caitlin says:

    Beautiful post, Lisa. This one has me in tears. What a perfect way to react to the situation that probably made a difference in the ways those boys looked at those that were different from themselves. You are so right; your David is awesome and you are certainly an awesome mama!

  100. Cindy Brooks says:

    That’s a wonderful story. You not only changed your life, but you changed the life of those two boys. They’ll never forget that day and you taught them a valuable life lesson.

  101. Rebecca says:

    Beautiful!

  102. Allison says:

    That is the sweetest story and I just read it to my two little girls.
    He is so so sweet and precious!!

  103. Cindy says:

    That is such a great thing to do. I wish more people would do things like this. It would definitely help me parent my son not to stare at or judge people who are different than he is. I’m glad the parents were so nice to you and hopefully they were able to use that as a teaching moment for their kids.

  104. Christy says:

    Kids can be so unkind sometimes. I’m so glad that you showed them in such a positive way that being kind and discussing our differences is a much better way. If everyone one was the same, life would be boring and we wouldn’t have such wonderful and distinct people in the world.

  105. mary. says:

    thank you, lisa! beautifully written and very encouraging!

  106. Marie says:

    Children follow our example, embracing an opportunity to share information and demonstrate kindness modeled a new approach to uncertainty. Hopefully these young boys are now young men who recall your lesson and will one day model similar lessons for their children. One small act ripples through many lives creating something beautiful.

  107. Bre Thomas says:

    Beautifully said. Happy Birthday to your special blessing!

  108. Erika says:

    I love your blog and this morning your entry today was so moving it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for your honesty and sharing your beautiful story of courage with us. I also believe that we can change the world one conversation at a time.

  109. gretchen says:

    WOW just WOW!!!! I am speechless. This is one of the most poweeful and beautiful things I have ever read.

  110. I am crying now….
    Hugs from across the ocean,
    You are the change we want to see in the world….
    Katrien.

  111. Wow Lisa! This post made me so emotional. I do not have children with special needs, but I worked with young adults with special needs and had similar situations. I felt similar, however I cannot imagine how much more magnified your emotions were with your son. You did the right thing, and were very brave to do so! I am sure your willingness to speak with those boys helped mold the way they looked at other children with varied abilities. Thank you!

  112. Stephanie says:

    Wow. that is all i have to say. wow.

  113. Danielle says:

    What a brave momma you are Lisa! David is truly special to have you in his life and you did the right thing with those kids. D is so lucky to have you!

  114. Patti says:

    I am crying as I type this little message….Thankyou for sharing this. Whoever reads this cannot help but be touched. All I can think is how incredibly blessed David is to have you for his mama…and how incredibly blessed you are to be his mama. :)

  115. Noelle White says:

    Beautiful Lisa….Just read it to my husband and we are sitting here with tears rolling down our cheeks. You are such an inspiration!

  116. Amber Hudson says:

    Lisa,

    Have no doubt, my sister, that you are changing the world–one conversation at a time. Your grace-filled response will have a far greater impact than if you had “gone on the attack” or than if you had retreated. Who knows how those children were impacted by that moment?! Maybe in heaven we’ll get to find out :-)

  117. Debbie says:

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder to not be ashamed of our child’s differences, and instead use that as an opportunity to engage the world to change for the better.

    I am touched by your story. I understand this feeling so well. Thank you for the encouragement I needed today.

  118. Randi says:

    this brings tears to my eyes. That is brave and you did it in such a loving manner. When I get riled up and hurt over autism-things, I get defensive. I need to take a note from your card of love. Thank you!

  119. Jo says:

    Wow Lisa, what a great approach. You taught those boys a lesson in compassion and understanding that their parents obviously hadn’t. By meeting it head on you take the power out of their hands.

  120. lauren says:

    Thank you for sharing this! We are going to soon bring our little girl home from Ethiopia. She was born with just 3 fingers on one hand and 4 1/2 on the other. The fingers she has are webbed. She also missing some toes and some are webbed as well. She is precious and perfect and we love her to pieces. I know she is going to teach me so much about courage and love and bravery. My biggest fear has been others teasing her. Now I know just how to respond. Thank you.

  121. Caroline says:

    You made me cry! What a powerful story, thank you for sharing. Your son is very precious.

  122. Ang says:

    Thank you for sharing! He is one very handsome boy inside and out and he has one amazing family.

  123. Vicki says:

    Lisa–you are one of my heroes. Way to turn that moment into a positive one, and one that those boys will probably never forget. Who knows what your bravery sparked in those boy’s lives?

  124. Kristin Smith says:

    God chose the perfect mama for sweet David. I think that one of the most challenging parts of being a parent of a special needs child is not always the day to day care (although that can be involved) but helping many of the people world see the beauty that your child has to offer. David is a very sweet and loving child and I feel blessed to have met him.

  125. G says:

    That, my dear, is love.

  126. Beth says:

    We are not defined by our packaging… or at least that’s what I try to remind myself and those around me. Your son? Case in point. The wrapping paper can change, but the contents doesn’t and David is your gift. And the Lord didn’t send the wrong child to the wrong parents, and the gift He sent is 100% the child He knew David would be. There’s a certainty and assurance in knowing the Lord always knew what your family would be and who would make it complete.

    Thanks to a shout out from Shanon (from LosAl) on FB, I wandered over to read this and it made my day!

  127. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this story. May we all be brave for all of the beautiful children in this world.

  128. Lisa, you are so awesome. And wise. So, so wise. I could relate to your first two instincts (fear and anger) but was inspired by your final reaction.

  129. Nicole says:

    Your beautiful story of bravery brought goosebumps and tears and inspiration to be a light and a help to others, and to instill that in my own children.

  130. Colleen says:

    Whether our kids are ordinary or have disabilities other children seem to not care. I am a Mother who is trying to raise a daughter who cares and be sensitive towards other. She is almost 13 and does care! She has friends who don’t include her because she does not gossip or speak badly about the homeless man on the street. I would rather her be without friends than be fake. To all those mothers out their who don’t teach you children right from wrong shame on you. You go LISA!!!

  131. that was brave and beautiful!
    thank you for sharing!
    tara

  132. Alina says:

    Beautiful, brought tears to my eyes!

  133. Linda P says:

    As a parent of a child who was born physically different, I completely understand how they make us courageous on their behalf. I think I am a much stronger person and parent because of it. Kudos to you for the gentle, caring action you took that day!

  134. Marti says:

    I am crying. Your story was beautiful, and your son is blessed to have such strong parents. What a wonderful example you were to your own son, and to those two boys who didn’t understand. And I am hoping the parents of those children will take the extra time to explain that everyone is different, and some people have more physical challenges than others, but inside we are all the same.

  135. monica m says:

    Lisa, you and your family are beautiful, wonderful and amazingly kind. I am so glad to be getting to know you all.

  136. Liz W says:

    My 5 year old daughter lost her eye this year to cancer. Despite having a prosthetic eye, she had complications from surgery and her eye does not open. Nearly every single day, a child asks her or myself what happened. I have always taken an approach similar to what you did, though it takes bravery every time. Now, my daughter politely and succinctly answers the questions. While your son may not have all his fingers and my daughter my not have both her eyes, I believe that they are perfectly whole, just the way they are. Much love to you, Lisa, and your son.

  137. Julie says:

    Wow Lisa, so brave. So much love. I pray that you will always have this strength and more.

  138. It’s been a while since I outright wept at a blog post. This one just got me right in the solar plexis. YES you are brave. YES he is wonderful. YES I am so glad you wrote this word of hope and encouragement down for all of us to ponder and remember as we face whatever it is that scares us. Just wonderful. Thank you so much.

  139. michelle says:

    so beautifully brave – & gracious!!!

  140. hey, lisa. thank you!
    always incredibly blessed by your family through this blog.
    hooray for bravery, and HOORAY for david!
    i am learning to be brave, too. my son has autism, so lots of opportunities to follow your example. which happens to be the example of christ. praising jesus for y’all today, friend! xo

  141. Kelly C. says:

    Beautiful story, Lisa. Thank you for sharing such a special moment. You always inspire me to be a better person!

  142. p.s. LOVE that photo!

  143. Rachel Buchanan says:

    Lisa, you are so brave and I am so proud of you!!! My son has Autism and we have been in the same position. It takes so much courage to be nice when our hearts are hurting like that, but you did the right thing! You are an awesome mom! :)

  144. Melissa says:

    Lisa, such a wonderful story. God truly gives these awesome and special kids to special parents like you.
    I have been following your blog for a year or so now and love every morning – I live in Sydney Australia, that over my cuppa in the morning I get to catch up with all your adventures and see all your beautiful and inspiring posts about your family and gorgeous creations.

    Thank you for sharing your family and creativity with us.

    I know that you inspire me to be a better Mum to my kids and make the most of the gifts we are given.

    Enjoy your summer with the family and I look forward to reading all about your adventures xxx

  145. Destiny says:

    This is your best blog post of all time! It way, way surpasses even your best give-away…

    Happy Birthday, David! You make the world a better place just by being in it, and all without even knowing that you do. oxox!

  146. Angie says:

    What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing!!

  147. Susan says:

    Thanks for this awesome post! Thank you for sharing how to turn around shame into bravery – I think we have all been there in our own way and our own experience. So often there is fear & misunderstanding that is shown in teasing or outright bullying (I have worked with teenagers for 30 years). The story you shared showed such love and compassion for the strangers – you didn’t pour shame on them! You are a woman of strength, bravery, love and compassion! An amazing momma!

  148. Oh wow. You are on incredible Mum. David is a very, very lucky little cherub <3

  149. Jessica says:

    What a brave and sweet thing to do, Lisa! David is very blessed to have you, and I know you’re blessed to have him.

  150. Tricia says:

    Lisa, I’m in awe of you. You are so gracious, so kind, so full of love and beauty. I don’t know if I would’ve had the courage to react with such grace, especially in a situation that was riddled with such painful emotions. Those boys just didn’t realize what a blessing David is. To you, to this world, and to them. I’m betting David, and you, changed them forever. Happy birthday, David!

  151. What a great story! And a great way to handle it! :) Happy almost birthday to David!!!

  152. Jackie says:

    My cousins middle son has the same beautiful little hand as your big boy. Max is 6 and just started at big school. I have to say though that the first thing people notice about max is his big big heart, sounds like you and your son may have the same big hearts!!

  153. Lorena says:

    What an incredibly kind thing to do for those boys. I hope they remember it forever. I shared this story with my 6 yr old.

  154. Janet says:

    I’ll bet that family will never forget you or David, and since you’ve recorded it, David can see what an awesome, brave, loving mom he has. Nothing brings out the mama bear like her cub being threatened or made fun of. My cub has autism and he’s a whole lot different at 26 than he was as 2 but I was in another meeting today with people representing a state agency and 2 vendors to advocate for what he needs. And I was such a wall-flower before I was a mom and HAD to learn to speak up and out. Kudos to you.

  155. Melissa says:

    What a lovely story and what a fabulous way to neutralise the potential for hurt. Clever, kind and loving.

  156. Terri says:

    Amazing!!! I love your courage!!

  157. Diane J. says:

    God definitely placed David with the right parents. Your story brought me to tears. May God bless your family always. Happy 10th birthday wishes to David!!!!

  158. JulieS says:

    What a great story Lisa! I had tears in my eyes reading it. You are a great mom and I really enjoy reading your blog

  159. Beth says:

    amazing!

  160. Words cannot describe how amazing you are. I hope one day to be half the mom you are! What a blessing you are to your boys, and I’m sure that experience had a profound impact on those boys as well. It’s people like you that make this world so amazing! Thank you for your amazing example of love, bravery, motherhood, and every awesome word in the dictionary. In fact, we should probably invent a couple extra words to describe how amazing you are!

  161. Lisa says:

    There is nothing as so beautiful as a mothers unconditional love and devotion.
    I adore how you handled yourself. As a side note, I wonder if those boys kept that experience in their minds and in some way you placed them on a kinder path of life!

  162. Thank you for sharing this story because it’s encouraging and beautiful. David is a precious and amazing young man and you are BLESSED to be his mama!

  163. Angie says:

    Love this story, Lisa, & thanks for sharing. I’m so happy you’re David’s mom. God knew what he was doing when he put David in yours & Steve’s lives!

  164. Annette Deardurff says:

    Thank you for sharing your story – been there, done that! My daughter is 31 but when she was two she contracted a rare brain disease called Rasmussens chronic encephalitis – she was in wheelchair with nasogastric tube and I would have kids gravitate toward her in malls and the parents would come over and jerk them away like she was contagious! Tough to deal with ignorance and fear like that – she underwent right hemispherectomy at five years and after massive rehabilitation does pretty well – she dealt with exclusion and ridicule throughout school when I wasn’t there to protect her and that was tough on me too – what has carried me thru is Phillipians 4:13 “I can do all things thru Christ who gives me strength” May you and your precious son and your family be richly blessed!!

  165. liz r. says:

    Lisa, I am so moved by your straightforward, gracious nature. Thank you for sharing that story. Love the picture of David, too.

  166. Misty says:

    Wow I knew you were awesome and you just raised that level way up! I’m crying at my desk, for the pride of a new mom, the meanness of kids and the for it all. (I probably would have busted the kids.) Just…awesome…

  167. Sherri P eh says:

    You are a brave and awesome Mama Lisa! Thank you for sharing!! Happy Birthday to your sweet boy!

  168. V Grundy says:

    It is encouraging to read this. In today’s world so few are able to embrace life and live as you have with courage and love. Thank you for sharing that story and giving us inspiration.

  169. S says:

    beautiful. sounds like a story for Chicken soup for the Soul. Thanks for sharing.

  170. Jill says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this gut wrenching story. I, too, was moved to tears. I am thankful for you, for David, for your courage and for how God is using you in the big and small things. I adore your jewelry, love your heart and thank God for your voice in the blogging world.

  171. Denise says:

    WOW – That is such a remarkable story about bravery. (Tears running down cheek) ..And I applaud you for doing that…I am sure those boys will share that time over and over again as they get older… You are a special mom and God knows the special people that can handle special needs children… David seems to be a wonderful fun child – Happy Birthday David….

  172. Jennifer says:

    Lisa…I bought my first piece from you today (dewdrops necklace!) and then read this blog post and was left feeling even happier about my purchase. I’m a pediatric social worker, and am so often asked by families how they should respond to the stares, the questions and the judgements. I think you responded beautifully, and yes, it took courage, but I’m sure those two little boys will always remember that moment. You honoured your son and yourself as his mom- he’s a lucky boy to have you.

  173. Judy says:

    you have given me the inspiration I have needed. My lil guy doesn’t have the physical appearance of a disability, his disability is internal (mental abilities and behavioral abilities). We get the looks and stares and talks behind our back of “why aren’t they better parents!”, “can’t they control their child?”, etc. Having moved back to our home state and close to family it is even harder when it is family doing the above. They know but they don’t understand. You have given me the “Bravery” to stand up for my child. “He isn’t having bad day! This is his life situation. This is something he will have to deal with his ENTIRE life, if you can’t be understanding, accepting, caring, and helping, please understand why we can’t be involved anymore. Thank you Lisa and Thank You David!

  174. Jeannie says:

    This was such a beautiful example of true motherhood. You are so inspiring! I hope I would have the courage to do such a thing. I was reading this (with tears in my eyes) with my children sitting next to me and then talked with them about being kind at all times to those who look differently. Thank you for sharing this!

  175. Shawna says:

    You truly are an inspiration for so many families! I work in early intervention and it’s always grounding to read about the first-hand experience of parents. It helps to keep things in perspective. You are AMAZING and David is so lucky to have such a wonderful family!

  176. Mary says:

    As a mom to a 12 year special needs son, I am so honestly inspired! If I am ever in this situation I hope I am as cool as you. Thanks so much for sharing. I needed that.

  177. kelli says:

    I cheered out loud when I read you walked over. David has a great mama. This is a beautiful piece about bravery, yes, but also about grace. You have a ton of it.

  178. Veronnica W. says:

    David is awesome. And so is his mama.

    Great job.

  179. april. says:

    this was wonderful to read.

    I am 7 months into being the mama to an amazing boy who has limb differences of all four limbs. Today was the first time I took him out in public in shorts and short sleeves. I felt very brave.

  180. Gigi says:

    Lisa! I’ve ordered several things from your website but had never read your blog until my friend Jeannie shared it with me tonight. I’m so glad! Now I know why I’m so drawn to your art. We have another thing in common–our boys!

    Thanks for sharing your story of bravery in introducing your son, David, to those boys. Your brave move helped close the gap for our children with unique designs.

    I have a son born with multiple physical issues. He’s missing the bones in his lower arms, his legs are fused crooked and bent at the knee and he wears a bone conductive hearing aid. His name is Gabe. He is 22 years old now. He is my own angel.

    Oh how we’ve learned lessons together along the way! He just wrote a book that might encourage you and your family. It’s title is “My Message is C.L.E.A.R. – Hope and Strength in the Face of Life’s Greatest Adversities.”

    Thanks for being courageous and for giving other moms the courage to do the same.

  181. Sarah says:

    Good for you. That is absolutely awesome. You are a strong mama.

  182. Oh Lisa-
    This is beautiful. My heart is aching and tears are streaming for you just imagining how that must have felt. You are so inspiring,and strong,and beautiful. David is SO blessed to have you as his fiercely loving and protective mama. Thanks so much for sharing this…and Happy Birthday precious David!!!

  183. maria says:

    Thank you, Lisa, for sharing this beautiful, brave story! We have all learned from you today, and it will not be wasted! God is awesome in the way He spreads His love thru His people!! I am so glad you listened to the right voice. You are my hero today!

  184. LOVD says:

    simply beautiful

  185. Jan C. says:

    “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

    Eleanor Roosevelt is one of my heroines. And now, I think, so are you.

  186. Ashley says:

    Wow! And I’m worried about a diagnosis we just received that is nothing comparted to that. That has been my biggest concern, others making fun of Connor for not being “dumb.”

  187. Charlotte says:

    The thing I remember when visiting David at the hospital when he was born, was how gorgeous he was! He had such a curly mop of hair. I am glad to hear you are doing well. Thank you for sharing your story, and setting an example we can all learn from!

  188. Valerie says:

    Bless you Lisa, you give me hope for all of us.

  189. Becky says:

    Tears are flowing. You ARE brave and set a wonderful example of how to handle a tough situation. Your son is an amazing, exciting, lovely gift from God.

  190. Tammy says:

    Oh gosh Lisa…This story really struck a cord with me. My son Jake was born with an extra thumb on his left hand, he was 2 months premature along with a slew of other things. The very FIRST time I went out with him alone I went to the mall I was standing in Crate and Barrel looking at pots and pans and a woman was standing next to me and Jake’s stroller. She looked down at Jake who was waving his hands around (he was only 4 months old) and she put her hands over her mouth and was like “OMG he has extra fingers! What the heck!” (Quite loudly)

    I almost died! I was so overcome with shame, embarrassment, shock…you name it….Then…something came over me and I looked at the women and then I looked down at Jake and I said “OMG…Where did that extra finger come from????”

    She looked at me realizing what she had just done and was mortified and walked away. I grab the stroller went right to my car and called my mom and cried for an hour. :( I was devastated. But that is when I also started to realize that not everyone realizes that not all kids are born typical and sometimes when they see something out of the typical range they aren’t quite sure how to react. Over the next few months when people would look at Jake’s hand I would come right out and tell them what it was how it can happen, how it’s not as rare as they may think. And by having done this is helped me a lot. It also made me realize how much I loved my son extra finger and all. :)

    It can be so difficult at times when your raising a “non-typical” child. But I really feel that it makes us so much stronger as individuals and it gives us some really amazing kids that change our lives. You sweet little David is so blessed to have you for a mom :) Thanks for sharing your story.

  191. [...] Leonard- A Spark of Bravery: “I could stand up, I could be brave. And I thought maybe, just maybe I could change the [...]

  192. Gretchen says:

    What a great story! I don’t think I would have been able to be that brave.

  193. Christine says:

    You are amazing! I was just looking at the post above and thinking it is so great that you take David everywhere–even on outings that can’t be the easiest. So many people would just stay home or leave the child who couldn’t ride a bike with a babysitter. The other day my kids passed a family of little people (I hope that is the current PC term!). I was so embarrassed that they seemed to be giggling a bit, but as we got past, they were talking about positive things. They were not laughing AT them, they thought they were cool–genuinely. But I had to have a discussion with them about how they have to do that in a better way because it sure looked like they were making fun of people instead of admiring them. So I guess that may be a possibility too–that the laughter is misinterpreted sometimes.

  194. Tammy C. says:

    Tears. So inspired by your story, thanks for sharing it.

  195. kim says:

    You are awesome Lisa Leonard!!! That brought tears to my eyes.

  196. Krys72599 says:

    Lisa, I needed this story today. I’ve been physically sick over what those boys did to that poor bus matron and I’ve been up on my soapbox about bullying for 24 hours now. I admit I blamed the parents to a degree. Thanks for the gentle reminder that I could be wrong! Thank you for sharing what started out so hurtful and turned into a blessed moment.

  197. Claudine says:

    Lisa.
    I cried as I read your post. I cried because you are Jesus with skin on. The grace you showed those boys and the courage you received from our Lord was Almighty. You have been given a gift to encourage, inspire, and ignite those that read your blog. I am blessed to be a follower. Thank you for your courage and inspiration.

  198. Amanda says:

    I have tears in my eyes from reading this, Lisa. That was so brave and I truly believe that it is moments like that that will change the world.

  199. sandee says:

    this made me think how I can be brave too…thank you.

  200. Jenny says:

    Oh Lisa, you did exactly the right thing, because not only did you learn something about yourself that day, you also taught those little boys a priceless lesson. Those who are not like us are people too, deserving our respect and kindness. I would guess that this event stuck with them. They are in their late teens now. Maybe they will have sons of their own in the next 5-10 years. Even if they never gave a second thought to what happened that day, someday they will and they will be better for it.

  201. Mela Kamin says:

    what a gift of words, wisdom, courage, grace and yes – a precious, awesome son – beautiful, Lisa – just beautiful

  202. Thank you for sharing this. You’re love for your child shows so much. The way you handled the situation also teaches him that he is so important. Tearing up from this moment of bravery and vowing to teach my kids to let what’s on the inside be more important than the outside.

    Jessie Lynn @Bloominthedetails

  203. We have a young man in our church with two fingers on one hand. Maybe it is thumb and finger, but he boldly shakes hands and I just love it. What I really love is that he is totally comfortable with his hand and I attribute it to his family and church family loving him, and the God who made him.

    Such a beautiful post. Thank you for being brave. <3

  204. Linda Horton Wayland, Michigan says:

    Happy Birthday, David. Thank you for sharing that heartfelt story. I had a younger brother that was mentally and physically challenged. He was smarter than the “professionals” gave him credit for.
    With the Holy Spirit as my guide, Billy accepted Jesus into his heart, and he is now in Heaven.

  205. Hazel Moon says:

    Good for you to be brave and face those taunts.

    We have a dear friend, Dick Joyce, who ministers here in the USA and most of the time in Latin America. He has two small fingers on his left hand. He plays the piano quite well and is a powerful preacher. In school, he was the class clown to help him overcome being different. He has lost two wives to cancer, but continues to preach and minister. Miracles occur at his meetings.
    His office is Global Impact, P.O. Box 994381, Redding, CA 96099

  206. So these two boys will now be about 18 and 20 years old, if my arithmetic is accurate.

    I’ll bet they still remember that day. But now they’re old enough to fully understand the grace you offered them that day.

    Because with kids, everything we do is an example. Everything.

  207. Hi Lisa. Oh, my! The story of my life. I have the same fears as you regarding my daughter’s future. She has only 3 fingers in her right hand, and I have been through these moments of other kids staring at her. I get so, so mad, but then , like you, I come to the conclusion that they’re just kids. And that they dont understand. Thanks for sharing your story. Please feel free to take a look at my blog. There you’ll find my journey with my daughter. She is now only 18 months … so I guess I could learn a lot from your experiences. Thank you once again. God bless you!

  208. Mary Beth says:

    Lisa–this post meant so much to me. I was telling my husband about it later in the evening and I started tearing up as I told the story. You are such an inspiration to me every day! Sending love and hugs. Thank you for being you and for sharing yourself daily on the blog.

  209. Brigette says:

    Lisa, I have admired you from afar for so long. I love your jewelry. I love your pictures. And I REALLY love reading about your sweet family.Your love and bravery will be the wind beneath their wings. They are so lucky to have you. Blessings to you and your family!

  210. I just love you! sweet tears are running down my cheeks as you put me in aw once again. xoxo

  211. Anne says:

    I love how you gently set those boys straight….even though like any mom you wanted to grab them and yell at them. They will always remember that and with any luck…. pass on what they learned from it. Stay brave and keep up the good work.

  212. Diane says:

    Thank you for this post and sharing the heart of a brave and shameless love.

  213. Kristi says:

    This is so incredibly beautiful. I read it a few days ago and have been thinking of it ever since. Thank you for living out your love so beautifully.

  214. Lori Danelle says:

    Lisa, I’m crying. Not tears of sadness, or something like pity. I can’t even put a word to it. I can absolutely picture you in that situation & I guess I’m just really inspired by your bravery. Obviously, I haven’t face that circumstance, but I know those emotions. I think the decision you made that day has shaped who you are today & I believe we all can learn a lesson from you. We can sit silently and allow ourselves to be powerless, or we can stand up and not allow ourselves to be walked over or made feel small.

    I am so glad to know you.

    (Reminds me of the concept from “We Bought a Zoo”: 30 seconds of insane courage. :)

  215. Randall O. says:

    My daughter Emily has spina bifida and she is not really that different, but we get the stares because of the way she walks and looks and talks. I used to say things like “why don’t you take a picture or I would stare back at them with a scowl, but that was the protective father coming out of me. I have just let it go for years, but I think what you did was something that could actually make a huge impact on people. Thank you for sharing, I will try and show grace and love like you did.

  216. Jess says:

    Oh, Lisa, may God bless you and your beautiful family.

    I’m also wiping away tears after reading this story. Our little boy is 20 months old (I’m watching him on the monitor, stretching happily in his sleep) and I’ve already felt that cold fear and panic of wanting to protect him from everything bad in this world. How hard it is, being a Mama.

    I’m so glad and grateful that you spoke to those boys. Lord willing, the Holy Spirit worked through you and changed them for the better.

  217. Kathi Chaffee says:

    Dear Lisa, Your story brought tears to my eyes as well because it struck a familiar chord deep inside of me. My daughter, now 33 years old, was severely brain injured when she was 16. Her injury has left her unable to move or speak, or eat. However, it is obvious to all that she has complete understanding of what is going on around her, which means that she is aware of stares and rudeness. My husband and I made the decision early after her injury to not isolate her…so we take her everywhere. I have experienced the pain of stares and looks of fear and nervous giggles…but not just from little children…many times from adults! She is almost NEVER spoken to directly…I cannot imagine the feeling of loneliness to wake up one day and find that people are afraid to speak to you. I am NOT as brave as you are…I am usually just hurt and walk away. Once in a while, a child will ask…what happened?…only to be shushed and whisked away by a parent. I wish that I could tell these people to let their children ask…that they might learn something…and if asked in a kind way, most would take it as reaching out to someone less fortunate. Thank you for sharing your story. It was a blessing.

  218. Munish says:

    Dear Lisa,

    I am so thankful that you just let the courage shine that just fills your heart. Thank you for not being cowed by either of the scoundrels named cowardice or rage, but truly you exhibited there the spirit of sound mind, and not the spirits of fear or timidity or bestial rage. Thank you for letting the love of a mother shine forth in all resplendent courage. It isn’t a quality that is natural — but isn’t that what Christ is all about?

    I do echo Ashley: you do put me in awe. Thank you for sharing this for our encouragement and blessing us. :)

    We are all created in the image of God, and that Creator ever lives, and all His work is good.

  219. Cindy says:

    Very brave. Very beautiful. What a good mommy you are to your son.

  220. [...] A spark of bravery :: Lisa Leonard [...]

  221. Tami says:

    If you do not already make one, you should make a “brave” pendant to honor bravery for our kids. Bless you and your family, Tami

  222. Isn’t it amazing that we can be brave for our children when we may not have found that bravery for ourselves? Wonderful story.

  223. Amy says:

    Oh, I love this in a million ways. You are such a wonderful mother and David is so lucky to have such a brave advocate in his corner!

  224. Love this bravery. Breath-taking

  225. Rebecca says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this story. My daughter had an accident last summer (when she was three and a half) where four of her fingers on her left hand were amputated. They are now healed and she has adapted amazingly well–is writing left handed and is learning to play violin, bowing with her left hand. I struggle with the need to protect her from ignorant comments or reactions. Thank you for modeling how we make the world. I blogged about that very thing here:

    http://rebeccakuder.com/2011/07/24/ive-been-looking-so-long-at-my-pictures-of-you-that-i-almost-believe-that-theyre-real…/

  226. Aileen says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post! As my autistic son flails and yelps in public, it’s the stares of the children that bother me the most. I just want to look at the parents and say, “my child is minding his beeswax and yours is staring and laughing…who’s the socially inappropriate one here!”. My self-righteousness always kicks in before my grace giving. Instead of being defensive, I want others to see that I am proud of and thankful for my son. Happy birthday to your sweet boy!

    • Sherry says:

      I am always shocked by the gaping of adults! Some will even push their shopping buggies up and down the aisle several times to gawk at a happy, friendly boy that laughs unexpectedly. This post has given me courage to respond kindly. Why should a sour look deter my faith in a loving God?

  227. This story touches my heart. You showed great courage and love that day.

  228. Fiona says:

    Wow. Beautiful words. You made me cry xxx

  229. Annie says:

    Happy Birthday, David! And Lisa, thank you for stepping up and speaking (living) this good truth with such dignity & grace, to those boys in Baja Fresh & to our hearts.

  230. Robin Dance says:

    The most beautiful response of them all.

    A defining moment in your life, I know…and a lovely response to ignorance.

    xo

  231. Sheila says:

    Bless you, sweetheart, for being such a good example to your children and being brave to face those other children.

    My son is autistic with limited verbal ability and even though he doesn’t look differently than other children, he sure does act differently. It wasn’t a big deal when he was younger, but now that he’s approaching 5 he sticks out like a sore thumb when we’re out and about. Sometimes I want to scream at people who look at him, laugh at him, send me judgmental glances for his behavior. But God has blessed me with ability to hold my head up high and never make any excuses for my child.

    We are chosen by God to have this honorable responsibility of raising such special children. I really do believe this.

  232. Jennie DuBose says:

    David is lucky to have you as his Mom.

  233. Came over from Deidra’s.

    I have not faced a situation like yours, but having kids has made me more brave, too. I’ve had to confront doctors on their behalf, as well as teachers. I’m still not good at sticking up for myself, but I’ll do it for them all day long.

  234. Sue says:

    Inspiring. I heard of a Mom with a handicapped boy at McDonalds who had kids making fun of him. She marched over to scold them, who were with their parents, but when she went to speak, she said, “Do you believe in God?” They said, “Yes.” “Do you pray before bed?” “Yes.” “Tonight, when you pray, I want you to thank God that you do not have to suffer the struggles in life that my son does.”

  235. Sherry says:

    Your response was truly brave, humble, and compassionate. I have challenged, with defiance, many eyes of the ones who stare, but your actions are a human touch in a hostile world. Thank you.

  236. Oh Lisa. Tears overflowing here. Love you friend.

  237. Amy Lin says:

    I look at the picture, and I immediately know that you live with CdLS. My nephew is 20 months old with CdLS, and I’m going to pass this page on over to my brother and SIL.

  238. Janelle Wind says:

    What a beautiful Mother you truly are and how blessed David is to have you cherish him. Thank you for sharing this story, I read it with tears running down my face. You are such an inspiration. Thank you xx

  239. Faith says:

    Thanks for sharing this! David has a wonderful mom! :) as a special education teacher I find that usually typically developing children don’t MEAN to be cruel..they just really do not understand (of course some children ARE bullies…usually from low self esteem issues or abuse in the home). I think what you did was the absolute best thing you could do…and hopefully those boys parents spoke to them and taught them about diversity! God bless you!!

  240. Joette says:

    Oh Lisa…my heart aches for you. To turn a negative into a wonderful positive..kudos to you, Oh Brave One!!!!! What a great mommy you are!!! :)

  241. Vicki Miller says:

    Lisa,
    You handled this beautifully… I have a story, but it’s from a different perspective and please don’t think I’m rude in sharing, but I just really felt led to share… Last summer we were on a family vacation… While at dinner one night with our oldest daughter, age 6, a family sat down behind us with a down syndrome boy/man I would guess between the age of 18-20… He had a few moments where he got loud, and my daughter turned around and looked at him… Once she realized he was different, she turned around a few more times… I looked up from the menu and realized this and explained it isn’t nice to stare and that he had DS and that it’s okay if he was getting loud and that he wasn’t upset, but excited… I was facing the father and son and the mother had her back to me and my husbands back was to them… I looked across our table at the father and realized he was VERY upset and thought my daughter was staring at him and he ranted a few nasty things until he saw what must have been a look of who knows what on my face and then he just shut down! I was beyond angry!!! How dare he judge my daughter for staring at his handicap son, mainly because she was 6 and she wasnt taunting him, but was just interested… Also because I have a 3 year old daughter with Cerebral Palsy who wasn’t with us that night and if the tables where turned, I would have smiled at the little 6 year old girl staring and just told her it was ok to say “hello” to my handicapped child and that they were just excited and that’s why they were being loud… I would never say that I know how this father feels because I don’t, but I do know that God has given us the children He knows we can be a blessing to and also be BLESSED by. After I got over my anger ( yes I’m guilty of bad behavior as well), I felt pity for this man… But thankfully his son didn’t notice and was happy as could be. I know we as parents need to teach our kids better behavior, but if we aren’t modeling it for them, then they will never learn. Also, my thought when I saw your new knotted necklace was this: It is the piece that ties all of us families with special needs children together. At my twins school (my daughter with CP attends preschool with her twin at a preschool that accommodates both handicap and non-handicap children), they try to match up parents of new students with current students families so they can be an encouragement to them on this new phase of their lives… This necklace would be the perfect gift for just this occasion to let them know they aren’t alone. A great symbol that joins all us parents of handicapped children together as one group. Your work is beautiful and thank you for sharing your stories with us. Vicki Miller

    • Lisa Leonard says:

      Thanks for sharing your story! I think we’re all on a journey–and maybe that gentleman was having an ‘off’ night. Who knows? And I love your insight into the ‘tie that binds’ necklace–so lovely! xx

  242. Alia Joy says:

    Lisa, I see the pictures of David on Instagram and each image radiates warmth and joy. You are a beautiful mama to this precious child. I love this post. Change the world one conversation at a time? Yup, you’re doing it. Lovely.

  243. Julie says:

    WOW thank you so much for your touching story!!! Brought tears to my eyes and I shared your story with my family and friends!!! I love what you stand for and your story should be published so that this nation can see that THIS IS HOW YOU TREAT CHILDREN; with defense, kindness and understanding!!!!

  244. [...] Leonard recently wrote a stirring post about being brave for her son. I encourage you to read her story here, and then come back to my blog. Don’t worry, the link will open up a new [...]

  245. Stephanie says:

    Absolutely loved this post. So BRAVE! And challenging. My word for this year is “BRAVE” and this post totally challenged me on a new level. I can imagine you walked out of that Baja Fresh as a new person ~ totally empowered and more in love with your son. You hit that one out of the park, girl! :)

  246. [...] Lisa Leonard Blog, June 21 Share this:EmailTwitterFacebookDiggStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. from → worth repeating ← Two (Big, Colorful) Reasons I Love My Job No comments yet [...]

  247. Maria Bryan says:

    All I can say right now is…you are phenomenal..and David is adorable.

    xoxo
    Maria

  248. [...] one, but one that stays with me. The author is the mother of a disabled child and I found her post “A spark of bravery” to be very moving. I feel it that it displays someone acting in humility as well as [...]

  249. erotic tube says:

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  250. ~ linda says:

    Reading this post in the (in)RL has brought me to my knees in one sense, Lisa, and up to a cheering stance in another. You are so beautifully right… “changing the world one little conversation at a time” with Christ as your’s and David’s banner held high in victory.
    “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
    Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
    For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
    And His resting place shall be glorious.” Isaiah 11:10
    Praising God, ~ linda

  251. kristie says:

    Thank you for sharing. What a kind, brave response. I love following you on Instagram and FB. You are inspiring. I love your dear family.

  252. Brilliant and wise response that I’m sure those boys nor their parents, will ever forget!

    I have a friend born the same way. His hand with only 2 fingers is on a very short arm to maybe his elbow. He is a grown man and let me tell you, that short arm with only 2 fingers never stopped him from doing anything! He is an avid cycler and rides sometimes 75-100 miles in a day! He built an attachment onto one side of the handle bars so he could ride. He raced for many years. He now owns his own mobile bike repair company and can whip out bike repairs so fast it will make your head spin. You would never know he only had those two fingers on a short arm the way he has chosen to live his life. Your son, too, will find his own way, his own passion, and nothing will stop him either. Because of your choices, your sweet son will grow up with his head held high, no shame.

  253. Pat says:

    You are such an inspiration and the world is blessed to have you.

    <3

  254. Becky Wimpy says:

    thank you for sharing this. Just beautiful & very brave! I am the mother of a son with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. I’ve had similar experiences & I had much rather to have the questions rather than the stares. Good for you.

  255. Diane says:

    tears… I felt this way when some kids at the park called my son weird cuz he didn’t talk.
    I felt this fear magnified when my daughter was born with craniosynostosis and her skull was misshapen. And then told she would need a surgery with an ear to ear incision over the top of her head.
    You are a god mom. Well done!

  256. elaine says:

    Standing ovation. What a super human, not just mom, full of compassion,kindness, understanding, love and forgiveness. Just like Jesus. What a wonderful example. Thank you for sharing your David with us.

  257. christi says:

    Hi, I loved reading this and way to walk up to the table. I have never done that and my son, Jimmy, is 6. He has down syndrome and also doesn’t have all his fingers. I barely notice the finger thing since he has down syndrome and that is what most people notice. That’s pretty awesome that you walked over there. I am so nervous about that because I feel like my emotions would take over and could go in any direction from anger to straight up sobbing from sharing my love for my son.

    Happy Spring!

  258. Julie says:

    You. Are. Simply. Amazing!

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