Are You Blind?

“Seeing” isn’t easy in our fast-paced, self-focused society. Life goes by in a blur as we rush ahead from one task to the next.

I’m guilty of this. I’m a super-motivated-achiever type of personality, which can lend to blindness.

It has taken bumps in the road in order to force me to slow down. These bumps (deep hurts, miscarriages, illnesses, tragedies) have brought me a new awareness on life. An awareness that I needed because ultimately we’re all born with innate selfishness. Of course, the way we respond to the bumps of life will also determine our route—toward bitterness or betterment. I traveled bitterness highway for a season, luckily, God helped me find a detour back to betterment road.

What I have discovered along the way is that the hardships have produced an empathy and compassion inside of my heart that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. The pain I have experienced helped me recognize the pain in others and sympathize with them. My hardships gave me new sight.

The day my nephew, Levi, was diagnosed with a duplication syndrome, my sight was again, refocused. I became aware of the struggles and obstacles facing, not only a child with special needs, but also the family. I grew observant to those I came in contact with. My heart expanded, longing to celebrate the beauty of all our differences and how we are all uniquely fashioned by a God who does not make mistakes. My nephew might have MECP2 duplication syndrome, he might be non-verbal, and his development comes slow, but he is perfect. No one can take his place. The world needs Levi in it. The same way the world needs each one of us.

No one can replace you. You are uniquely crafted and designed by the hands of a loving God. Even if you do not believe in a Creator—to bad, He believes in You. He made you.

He made our beautifully diverse world with its beautifully diverse colors. Oh, how lovely it is.

Let’s open our eyes and SEE the wonder around us.

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Superhero Levi: A Book About Celebrating Differences and Disabilities

Superhero Levi teaches children about special needs and disabilities, emphasizing that all children are gifted and special no matter what their differences might be.

I wrote this children’s book based on my nephew, Levi Slenk. Superhero Levi is his story, told through his voice. Though Levi is actually non-verbal, his actions show his personality and through his mannerisms and noises, I hear his words. And so, I wrote them down, unfolding his world.

Now, I can share his story with you.

 

Hello, step closer, don’t be shy.
I’ll introduce myself; I’m Levi.
There is a secret you might not know.
I’m actually a superhero.

I climb mountains Mom calls the stairs.
It’s hard work getting way up there.
I reach the top feeling quite proud.
Mom claps her hands, cheering real loud.

Clearing my plate is no big feat.
I eat like a sturdy athlete.
But give me beans, I’ll put up a fight.
Every hero has a kryptonite.


Whenever I travel to various places,
I wear special shoes and ankle braces.
They help me stay strong and tall.
Because sometimes even heroes fall.

My hair cuts a wave like a surfing pro.
Adoring fans want to snap my photo.
I’m an expert with poses to strike.
My posts receive plenty of Likes.

 I grow my powers through exploration.
It helps me use my imagination.
Lickety-split, this bowl is a hat.
Only a hero could do that.

 
I brighten the house with toilet paper,
And destroy a book like a bold crusader.
From the fridge, I make water pour out.
Mom arrives with an impressed shout.

Bars or boards cannot hold me back.
I open my bed with a Judo attack.
Dad tries to fix it in a hustle.
But nothing restrains me and my muscles.

 
When it’s school time, I wait for the bus.
A lift scoops me up without any fuss.
It’s a short drive with pals at my side.
We’d rather not stop; come on let’s ride!

I trek the halls with my sweet set of wheels.
My school friends follow, hot on my heels.
Our teacher directs us as we go.
She helps us to learn; I love her so.

Superheroes have archenemies.
Mine is called Physical Therapy.
I escape it through devious schemes.
Feet dragging, tears, and pretending daydreams.

To read the rest of the story visit: Superhero Levi

Superhero Levi: A Children’s Book About Disabilities and Differences

It is important for all children to be taught at an early age about the beauty of differences. When we look around at our highly diverse world, we see many differences: differences in appearance, differences in language, differences in physical movement, differences in customs. These differences are wonderful. However, when children are not taught how to receive and celebrate differences, they might respond in a shy or negative manner when they encounter someone unlike them. I find this to be true when children encounter another child or adult with disabilities. Instead of engaging in a conversation, they might simply stare or avoid eye contact. By teaching our children about special needs and disabilities, we promote a healthy and beautiful interpretation of the word “different” for all people are wonderfully made and gifted.

Superhero Levi is a story based on my nephew, Levi Slenk, who has MECP2 duplication syndrome. In a first-person narrative, the reader joins Levi in his struggles and victories that are different from those another child his age might face. Though he has to work hard, he never gives up. No matter what life may throw, he knows he can take it because he’s a superhero.

This book teaches children about special needs and disabilities through a viewpoint that they can comprehend: a superhero that embarks on a life adventure, encountering obstacles and triumphs. This story can be used in a home or classroom to teach children about disabilities and to encourage all children to press on no matter what difficulties they might face in school or in life.

Superhero Levi is now officially available for purchase on amazon.com as a paperback and Kindle book.

On Release Weekend (July 20-22) 10% of each book sale will be given to Heartwood School, in Lansing, MI. Levi attends this school. Heartwood School badly needs a new playground that will better accommodate their students with special needs.

SHOP NOW

Celebrating Milestones and Miracles

Miracles still happen. I know it. I’ve seen it. My nephew is walking proof.

As a baby, Levi was diagnosed with a rare disorder MECP2 Duplication Syndrome, which causes  intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, speech abnormalities, seizures, low muscle tone, etc. The doctors didn’t know what milestones Levi would be able to accomplish.  Would he ever sit without support, crawl, play with toys, ever eat on his own, ever speak, ever walk?

At first, his little arms and legs were flimsy like wet noddles. Without a miracle, he wasn’t going to meet these developmental milestones. But…Oh Yes…BUT… we knew and believed in a wonderful, awesome God who could strengthen Levi’s muscles. AND HE DID. As Levi’s parents worked with Levi, as physical therapists worked with Levi, as occupational therapists worked with Levi, as his teachers, and day care workers worked with him, God moved through their helpful hands. Levi’s body grew stronger and stronger. And now…He sits. He crawls. He lifts a fork. He plays with his toys. He flips the pages of books. He communicates with his hands and noises. He walks, all by himself!

The Main Man, Levi.

To celebrate these accomplishments, Levi’s parents held a big party on Saturday. The amount of friends and family who flooded their lawn and barn moved me. The joy we all shared as we watched Levi stroll around was contagious.

Levi’s Therapists and Friends Along With Levi’s Mother and My Sister, Carmen (Second From the Right).
Levi and His Teacher
Bounce Houses and Outdoor Activities
Guests Inside the Barn
Face Painting
Levi and friend, Scott, from school
Friend, Emma, Showed her Support
My sister, Carmen, and Levi’s friend, Sirius
Levi’s Buddy, Cohen, and His Parents Came to Show Their Support.
Way to go, Levi. Keeping beating those odds.

Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 Thank you to Everyone for Their Prayers and Support.

 

Fashioned Perfect

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I wrote this poem in honor of my nephew, Levi.

Fashioned Perfect

You are fashioned and formed
In a seamless, perfect way
I see no syndrome
I see no flaw
I know you are perfect
Fashioned by the hands of a loving God

He sees you as perfect
Whole, without blemish
Beauty on the out and beauty within
No syndrome could ever fade or dim

You are whole, you are perfect
Eyes alight that greet the day
A smile that makes the troubles fade
With strength unmatched
You defeat the odds
Your life shines as an example
That nothing, no nothing is impossible

My love, you are perfect
Whole in every way
Fashioned and formed
Seamless always

Levi might have MECP2 Duplication Syndrome, but it doesn’t define him. In the same way that God has fashioned him perfect, God has also fashioned you perfect. You have been formed by the hands of a loving God.