About the Author

Nancy Jo has published with Random House, Readers Digest and Guideposts. She loves family, spinach smoothies and writing about her imperfect life.

Recent Posts

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. My youth ministers in middle and high school led me to truly know the Lord. I am forever thankful for their gifts of love and service to young people. I pray my boys will find the Lord through us as parents and other role models in the church.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      It sounds like you are a great mom and role model. Keep praying for your boys.

  2. iam sogreatful to you my own mum died when i needed her direction most iwas only a young man at 13years she died age 42 years i miss her so much even today iam56 years of age in a nursinhhome/ hostel a baptist run home as grow older my own family donot come to visitme the family broke up about 6 months aftershe died. but gyGODS GRACE TO ME A SINNER IAM LOVED THELORD JESus is mysaviour so thank you somuch for your emal to me love to you my email adress is gregl@tadaust.org.au

    • Greg, may the love of Jesus surround you like a blanket today. May you sense His great peace… remember who you are in His eyes: a beloved son of the King.

    • Blessings to you Greg. I will be praying for you in a special way today. Wear your crown proudly!

  3. OH Nancy Jo! It was wonderful to “meet” your precious daughter here… and now she is dancing with Jesus just as she always rightly saw herself: as a daughter of the King, adorned with crown and beautiful dress.

    As per your question, I believe that it was the amazing leaders at a summer camp that I went to. They had Jesus… and it showed… and I wanted what they had. I am so thankful to them for I grew up in a very liberal church and I would have never known about Jesus except for them.

    • Hi Kristen,

      What a wonderful gift of faith your leaders gave to you. The crown of God’s love now glistens in your life.

  4. Sarah inspires me so much…Thanks for sharing your beautiful story.
    To has led me to the Lord was my NaNa. We would read the bible every morning when I was a child. I started to go astray once I became a young adult. But I appreciate that darkness I went through because now I can see the light.

    • Hi Tati,

      Even the smallest glimmer of God’s light is brighter than the darkness. keep standing in the light!!!!

  5. What a beautiful life you have shared with us….I bet Sarah is dancing in heaven with my special Down Syndrome brother-in-law, Greg. He was such a special “prince”. He was with us for 56 years. He taught all of us so much about life. He, too, had Jesus in his heart. I could tell you many stories and blessings about him.

    I came to know Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord when I was 16. I had been in and out of different churches and thought I was a Christian, but I wasn’t. My Grandma was a preacher’s wife (My Grandpa died shortly before I was born.) who was very close to me and such a good example. My Sunday School teachers, the Krug’s, were such an influence on me, too….pointing me in the right direction to Christ. I’m now a pastor’s wife myself and try to be the Christ-like example He would have me be to others.

    Thank you for this giveaway. I would love to enjoy your book, Small Mercies!!!!

    • Hi Beckey,
      Your Downs syndrome brother in law, “Greg”, sounds like he wore his crown proudly. What a gift he was to you and your entire family.

  6. My Sunday School teachers led me to know the Lord as my Saviour… but tragedy led me to love Him as my Lord and Saviour and to truly surrender to him. Your daughter reminds me of an actress in a TV show awhile back. She was beautiful inside and out… a true princess. I love that she felt so much love that she did feel like a princess, because as a child of the King of Kings… she is !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Hi Bonnie Jean,

      Sometimes tragedy leads us to the Lord is ways that we never expected. I’m glad your faith is strong. Like Sarah, you are a child of the king of kings!

  7. Definitely, my mom and Dad were most instrumental in me finding my prince and Lord.

    Precious story shared. THank you.

    • Hi Lucy,
      Your comment reminded me of Psalm 139, verse 7;

      “Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?”

      God has been with you always.

  8. I led to Christ by a friend over 20 years ago. But my husband is the one who led me to the Lord of true love. I have found such an example of Christ’s love for me in my husband. It has been through him that I found that God is a loving father and is patient & faithful….I have been so blessed to have those characteristics in my husband that have pointed me to my Lord and true love!.

    I am so touched by this story, I just want to share it with everyone I know. What a beauty she was. Thank you for this…

    • Hello FredaD,

      I’m so glad your husband has been an example of Christ’s Love! What a gift the Lord has given you. I’m so glad you were touched by the story.

  9. I grew up in the church, but I didn’t have that deep, full relationship until our youngest child was born two months premature and with a host of medical problems. I didn’t trust the Lord fully, until I had to. Having Him carry me through was the only way I could survive. Thank you for your beautiful story of your beautiful daughter!

    • Diana,

      Trust is a lesson that can only be learned in times of uncertainty. I sense you have learned that lesson well. Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. I have always known about the Lord, but it wasn’t until my son was born premature with a lot of medical issues that I really grew to trust in the Lord completely. I had always known Him, but at that point, I really truly loved and had complete faith in Him. — very similar to the poster above me. What a wonderful story you shared.

    • Stefanie,
      As mothers, one of the hardest things we can do is surrender our precious children to God. You have done that well. Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. My mama…her life is truly a wonderful testimony to God’s faithfulness, love, and all…and has God’s fingerprints all over it!!!

    • Malory,

      Your “Mama” Sounds like one cool lady. Through her, you saw the “Fingerprints of God…”

  12. Nancy Jo,
    I heard you speak at a Women’s Advent Brunch hosted by Community of Christ Redeemer some years ago. You shook me up when you told your story. You shook because of your love, your celebration of your daughter’s life, your ability to let go of your dreams. I find the letting go to be tremendously difficult. After that day, I left my much- loved job as a nurse and became a homeschool, at-home 100% mom. The days are long, the years are short. My disabled son is one month from leaving for college. I don’t know whether to thank you for shaking me that day or not. I still find it hard to let go of dreams. It leaves a kind of rawness.
    But I do appreciate that not too far away from where I live, is a mom, celebrating the gift of life. I aim for that. I am challenged by that. I know that the rawness of real life struggles can be isolating and it is a comfort to know that I am not alone, here in Minnesota. Thanks!

    • Hi Beth,

      I remember that retreat!!! Thanks for remembering me. I wanted to encourage you. It’s always hard to let go of dreams. But you’ve learned, as so many believers have, that God’s greatest blessings are often hidden in the soil of surrender. You are not alone.

  13. The children’s minister who shared a flannel graph story explaining salvation and God’s Great Love for me. I was 8 yrs. old and my heart knew that I was hearing the truth. God is AMAZING!

  14. Originally, my parents. And now, my husband as he continues to love me in the midst of my mess – it is an amazing feeling to experience unconditional love!

  15. I grew up as a Christian, but I really truly began to rely on Christ and know Him when my 3 yr old son with Down syndrome was unexpectedly diagnosed with an exceedingly rare and terminal disease. He lived in the PICU for four months before going home to Jesus. During that time and over the past 19 months since losing him, we have clung to God as never before. This is where I really discovered who He is and how He can can save me over and over again.

    • My dear Meghan,

      Your grief is still so fresh. And you must miss your precious son dearly!
      You said that you have “Clung” to God as never before. Yes, that’s what grieving moms do…We grab hold of our faith and hold on as best we can. Keep holding on. My prayers will be with you in the days ahead.

  16. i’ve known the Lord all my life and finding my true identity in Him as a daughter-loved and cherished – came through reading Brennan Manning’s books – specifically “Abba’s Child”.

  17. Nancy Jo,

    Thank you sooo very very much for sharing your precious daughter here with us. She inspires me to be a better believer.

    As far back as I can remember I was always a Christian..went to church & all. Did not act like a Christian in public, though. In 2009 my hubby and I were in church on a Wednesday night & something the preacher-Richard Thomason-said hit me and my hubby and I walked over to his house, read scripture & then I decided to get baptised-a second time for me. This time I was completely immersed in water.

    Since then my faith has grown & I’m a more active Christian–showing it daily!

    • Hi Beth,

      The waters of Baptism are powerful indeed. Blessings to you as you grow in faith. Your crown is shimmering!

  18. I am so thankful for my high school friends and Young Life leaders who invested in me so that I could discover the love of Jesus! Their caring has eternal consequences for me and hopefully for those whom my life touches now and in the future.

    • It sounds like their were many who invested in your faith. Blessings to you as your continue in your journey of faith!

  19. So many people dear to me had a part in leading me to the Lord of love. Family, friends, teachers. Their examples, prayers, and teaching all played a part in bringing me to my knees before my Loving Savior.

    • Rebekah,

      So many people lead you to the Lord of true love. That’s to be celebrated! Keep kneeling!!!!

  20. When I was 15, I met a woman whose day just seemed brighter every time she saw me.
    She introduced her son to Jesus, and he introduced me. She is now my motherinlaw, her son is my husband, and Jesus is my Lord.

    • Wow…
      The true love of God has been an anchor for your entire family. Your story is beautiful.

  21. Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your beautiful daughter and her story with all of us!! I started counseling a few months ago with a pastor’s wife at our church and she is helping me find the Lord of true love after going through a verbally abusive marriage. I have been a Christian for years but due to my life experiences I had never trully accepted God’s true love for me, always thinking I wasn’t good enough but thanks to this sweet sister’s counsel I am learning to see just how the Lord loves me just as I am.

    • Kristy, I was going to write almost the same thing. Mine would be a lovely christian counselor, who I went to for over a year and a half. She helped me come to understand that I matter to God and He loves me.

      • Hi Robin in New Jersey,

        During that year and a half, I imagine your counselor extended many gifts of affirmation and encouragement. Yes, you do matter. You are loved by the King of the Universe!

    • Kristy Lynn,

      I am so happy you have found a counselor who sees you as Christ sees you; a dazzling princess who is SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST GOOD ENOUGH!!!!! You are the child of a great king. Hold your head high. THe God of true love will be with you through all the days ahead.

  22. This is such an inspiring story…not just about how people who are not “normal” can teach us so much about faith and love but also about the whole concept of “good news, bad news, too soon to tell.” Life unfolds with so many unexpected disappointments, hurts, frustrations, road blocks, and then we are shown new paths, new joys, new growth. Sarah understood this naturally, flowing with life and not categorizing things as good events or bad events or not reaching expectations. She lived without expectations and clearly taught Nancy to flow more, to be more joyful in all and I want to learn that and to learn to see others for their hearts more and their surface appearances, opinons, tantrums, agendas, etc. less. And my own, seeing more my own heart instead of just the surface, so that God can guide me more like Sarah.
    Thanks, Nancy Jo, for sharing so we can grow and know Sarah’s wisdom.
    Marybeth

    • Maribeth,

      You said; “Life unfolds with so many unexpected disapointments, hurts, frustrations and roadblocks” How true that is. But the light of Christ is always brighter than the darkness of our uncertainty. Blessings to you walk on your light-filled path.

  23. I don’t know if I could name just one person! There have been so many amazing and influential people in my life beginning with my parents, my youth leaders, my YWAM mentors and friends, my husband, and the amazing women in my life today.

    • Hi Alisa,

      God has lined the path of your life with people of great faith. How grateful you must be. Blessings.

  24. Thanks for sharing your story with us this morning. I wish all our little girls could see themselves through Sarah’s eyes.
    My neighbor led me to the true love of Christ during an illness my husband was going through and couldn’t work. I had never met anyone in my entire life so loving, kind, and generous that didn’t expect anything in return. I knew she had something in her heart that I didn’t and I wanted it to! I began attending church with her and my life has never been the same since. To God be the glory!

    • Sounds like an incredible friend. I think God planted her where she could bear great fruit!

  25. Thanks for sharing your story with us this morning. I wish all our little girls could see themselves through Sarah’s eyes.
    My neighbor led me to the true love of Christ during an illness my husband was going through and couldn’t work. I had never met anyone in my entire life so loving, kind, and generous that didn’t expect anything in return. I knew she had something in her heart that I didn’t and I wanted it to! I began attending church with her and my life has never been the same since.

  26. A beautiful picture of what our relationship with God should be! We are all princesses with a Prince who loves us beyond measure. It must bring you much comfort to know your precious daughter understood His love on a deep heart level, and now she is dancing in His arms.
    It was a group of Jesus-lovers who showed me what the love of God meant, at a Bible camp when I was 11. I had never witnessed such joy and caring, coming from a home where God was never acknowledged. I knew I wanted what these people had, and readily gave my heart to Jesus. I slid away during my teens, but as a young wife and mother, struggling in a difficult marriage, a wise, warm pastor led me back into the arms of my Lord. His caring, discernment and leadership taught me so much about the life of faith. I will always be thankful for my “spiritual father”, Arnie, and his godly input into my life.

    • I like the image of a “Spiritual Father”….Sounds like Arnie was everything a good and godly father should be.

    • Kaitlin,

      I love how you mention “hand written” letters. A special note, written by an encouraging friend, is such a blessing, especially in these days of text messages and emails.

  27. My mom’s cousin with Down Syndrome, Philip, is in his 50s, still living at home with his mom who cares for him 24/7. She fought to keep him at home back when “retarded” children were often sent to institutions. He is such a joy to be around and she says they pray for each family unit in their extended family every morning. God lives at their house!

    Thank you for Sarah’s story. She is beautiful and it sounds like you had a full and blessed life with her.

    The person who led me into a relationship with the Lord is my aunt Patsy Mae. At the time, she was my uncle’s new wife and it was our first time to meet her. Others have also helped me grow in my relationship with the Lord, including my friend and long-time mentor, Binnie Stanislav, who was a co-teacher with her husband in Sunday school. They took us under their wing over 16 years ago. There are 5 couples from that class in full-time ministry now. What a great legacy!

    • Jenni,

      Philip sounds like an incredible servant of God. Oh how powerful his prayers must be!!! And what an amazing mother he has.

  28. Oh, how much I can learn from your Sarah. And she does, indeed, have a beautiful smile. I think my husband is the one who has taught me the love of our Lord the most. And I could write a book about why…

    • Laura,
      Sounds like you have an incredible husband. Why don’t you go ahead and write a book about him…or at least start journaling about the gifts he has given to you. Thanks for reading about Sarah.

  29. Although I have known the Lord for over 30 years, my firstborn, my son Corey, has continually pointed me back to simple faith. Corey has autism, and so the world is black and white, completely literal, for him. Whenever he is troubled, he prays; then he smiles, and believes that his prayer has been answered. And he never becomes troubled about that issue again, because God said He would answer Corey’s prayers.

    • Heather,

      I love the way that Corey simply prays and then believes, without any doubt, that his prayer is heard. What would the kingdom of God look like if everyone prayed in this way????

  30. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your eldest princess! It was beauty to enjoy as I am sure her life was!! I was led to the Lord by a lovely Jewish princess who believed that her messiah (and ours) had come and His name is Jesus!! I just needed to know how that could be since she was Jewish. She led me to the Bible and I realized I needed Him to be my savior too!!

    • Maria,
      Yes, GOd accomplishes his will in many unexpected ways. I’m so glad you were led to such a special friend. Sounds like her great faith has made a lasting impact in your life.

  31. Thank you for sharing your daughter’s story with us – what a beautiful example of not letting your limitations get you down! 🙂 I have known the Lord since I was very young, but it was the many encounters with many holy people, both loved ones and chance encounters, as well as 7 years of Catholic school, that cemented the fact that not only does my family love me, but God loves me, and I am His child.

  32. What a beautiful blessing! I grew up in church, but my husband has truly led me to the Lord in the last 2 years of our sweet marriage. September 1 will mark 5 years since we said “I do”, but I celebrate everyday what Jesus has done and continues to do in our lives.

    • Anna,
      God bless you and your wonderful husband. May Christ continue to lead you on a beautiful journey of faith.

  33. I was raised Catholic and new about God at a very young age. This God, if you will, was one that caused me guilt and fear of Him in a very negative way. When I went through the process of Confirmation…my head swirled with questions. As my peers in high school began to experiment with things…so did I. I visited a Baptist church and gave my life to Christ. I began to be in the word. To pray, and to see them answered. God became good. I have walked away and returned to Him. His abundant and amazing love and grace has never failed me. To say I met my Loving Lord would still be inaccurate. I truly believe that over the last five years I have learned how deep and wide and truly beautiful God’s love is. My son, now five, was diagnosed with Autism at 26 months. My world crashed and my faith wavered in a new way. Now at age five, my son shows me my Lord’s love on a daily basis. Through his faith and love and hunger for his Lord. It is possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen God do in my 44 years on this earth. My son has been healed of so many of the crippling effects of Autism, not through my faith but his own. Truly El Shaddai and His blessing have been so much for more than enough. Thank you Jesus!

    • Dee Rex,

      Oh yes, I totally understand when you describe your son’s faith as “possibly the most beautiful thing” you have ever seen. You are a blessed mother and your son is God’s beloved prince.

  34. The one who led me to the Lord of Love was a little child, my first, who died in my womb because of my selfish, unregenerated heart. It was 1977. We were married. My husband was in law school and I just wasn’t ready to start a family. Abortion was legal, safe, and easy. No problem. Seven years went by with only momentary regret but no remorse. After the birth of my son and then just twenty months later, my daughter, I was overwhelmed with a depression I could not understand. I had everything I had wanted; two beautiful, healthy children, a husband who loved me, material comforts…and I was so miserable I wanted to die. We had started attending an Episcopal church after our son was about six months old and I decided I either needed to check into the local mental hospital or go see a priest. The priest was free so I decided to start there. The story gets longer but the bottom line is that the Holy Spirit entered my life during that initial meeting and gently led me to repentance and freedom from the pain of sin and separation from Jesus. The little one whose life we so easily dismissed did not die without purpose but eventually brought both of his parents to the foot of the cross.

    • Jemimah,

      THank you for sharing such a painfully beautiful story. I can hear (and feel) how much you loved the “little child who died in your womb.” I am especially grateful for the meeting you had with the priest. It sounds like he helped you begin a very deep, personal and long-lasting relationship with the Lord. You now wear the crown of God’s healing. Be at peace. Your “little child” is in the arms of your king.

  35. My camp counselor when I was 8. She was a 16 year old MK from Brazil, Faith Bailey.

    • Hi Debbie,

      Faith sounds like an incredible Camp counselor. What a blessing that your paths crossed!!!!

  36. Countless God-filled guides over the years have led me back to the Spring of His Love whenever I’ve wandered, and have shown me His heart for the weary and wounded. How gracious He is, and how often we forget that we are seated at His banqueting table, not merely servants. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Open your mouth wide and He will fill it!

  37. Thanks for sharing your daughter with us. What a lesson and a legacy. I know that you miss her. Donna

  38. Thank you for sharing this story with us. I have a son with Down Syndrome…and while he may lag behind in many areas of development, he leads the way in faith. He simply has no doubts about God. Sometimes, I wonder if he can see and hear angels because he has an uncanny way of knowing Biblical/spiritual things. Sometimes he is annoyed when it is time to leave church because he wants to stay until Jesus returns. He is a great reminder of the goodness of God.

  39. My deaf daughter. I had such a hard start with her, she came so early, she was very sick and a very difficult baby and we’ve had many issues over the past few years. Most days I feel like an awful mom. I wonder if I will ever do anything right and I pray and pray and then sometimes I just realize what a gift from God. He has a reason and He will get us through this season. My faith has become stronger from this blessing.

  40. mu best friend. he always encourages me to look beyond what’s visible and what we feel and to trust in God and how he sees us and how we need to see ourselves. great writing. loved it so true. I love her quote of having a pirfect life. what a mouthful!! blessed with that.

  41. Oh, Sarah’s story is pure joy and such an encouragement! She was beautiful and surely an angel. Thank you so much for sharing her story. It was reading “God is present in every mess, burden and blessing.” that truly spoke to my heart today as I struggle with a few things.

    My mother-in-law is such a strong example of living in God’s love and grace. She is humble, genuine, encouraging and truly a great mother-in-law. I”ve tried to model my role as a MIL on her example. I’d love to read the book!

    • Hi Crystal,

      Yes, sometimes it’s hard to see God in the messes and the burdens. But he is always closer than we think!

  42. My eyes are brimming with tears from this touching post. What a beautiful picture of what it looks like to truly embrace what God has intended for each one of us, to know how much we are loved an cherished by Him. Your daughters faith is beautiful, and what a blessed person she was to have a mom that loved and accepted her for who she was. I too am blessed to have a mom who has shown me Gods love, through her words and actions. I pray that I can show my children Gods love through my life, love and actions. Thank you for this inspirational post.

    • Hello Amber,

      You sound like you are well on your way to being a mom who shows God’s love through her “life,love, and actions.” I’m happy that the post touched you.

  43. I can think of 2 people who really helped me on the way to a personal relationship with Jesus – Carol, who said to me when I was a teenager: “When you have problems, have you thought of praying about it?” and Alex, who would pray every night and made me curious about the God who listened to her prayers.

  44. First off this post had me crying before I read it… my little sister (age 31) has Down’s and the love I have for her is the same as the love I have for my own kids. She also writes notes… I think my favorite is one my dad found in his bible… “this world is not my home.” Such plain and simple faith and truth. We try and make the gospel difficult sometimes to make ourselves sound wiser or more spiritual when really what we are called to is simple childlike faith.

    To answer the q and be entered in the giveaway… my dad did 🙂

    • Jessica,

      Well…Now you have ME tearing up. Oh…that note in your Dad’s Bible is so precious….”This world is not my home….” I will hold that little jewel of inspiration in my heart all day today!!!!!!

      P.S. My two grown daughters, Christina and Rachael, feel the same way that you do about their Downs syndrome sister. Love to you.

  45. My parents and my sister. Christian friends-like-family God blessed me with…For sure! And most of all, my daughter, who taught me what a parent’s love means…and how that goes for my heavenly Father!

  46. My counselor has shown me to true love of Jesus. I never knew it was possible to be so accepted until I encountered my Christian therapist.

  47. Beautiful and powerful story.
    I can’t wait to read your book.

    It’s hard to know who the “one” person was… in the past several years I’ve been blessed with amazing friends who have come to my life to lift me up and encourage me in my walk. My Dad and Mom lived a life of Faith and my Mom (even through horrendous pain) constantly sings praises to Him. I’m grateful for them all.

  48. Dear Nancy,
    I thank God so much for opening your eyes to see His beauty and His love for you and Sarah even in what the world might considered as troublesome situation. You and Sarah are indeed beautiful princesses, because the most Beautiful God created you two! As my youth and I have been chanting all summer “GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME!” 🙂 Your story simply brings me pure joy, thanks once again for sharing.

    The Lord of true love invited me back to Him through my father’s sickness in 2003. I accepted the invitation in the summer of 2004. Though my father is no longer physically with me, he forever lives in my heart. GOD is still GOOD, ALL THE TIME! (Even when I was still a lost child!) Your story especially excites me because I am planning to become a special education teacher in the future. I praise God for leading me here today.

    May God continue to bless you with an encouraging voice to inspire thousands,
    Yanyi from Boston.

  49. Gosh I miss her:( So happy to see your 2 other girls on Facebook though, that way I still can see a piece of her from time to time. I think of her often and all the joy she brought to my life. She lived with such great simplicity, enjoying each and every day- a reminder I know I often need. Thank you for carrying her story on, and allowing her to continue to be a blessing to so many lives, I really appreciate that you have.

    Blessings to you, TT and Rachel,
    Maranda

    • Maranda,

      Thank you for your kind words. You played such an incredible role in our lives through your friendship with Sarah- I sometimes just think back to you guys hanging out and cannot believe how much of a gift you were to our family. Your friendship seemed so normal- my little head didn’t think anything of it- but it is really rare to find such a selfless and loving kid who would truly take time to develop a friendship with someone with special needs. You will forever have such a special place in our hearts.

      Sending lots of love your way!
      Rachael