I wanted to take the time this morning to write about my sweet nephew Burke.
I remember it like it was yesterday….
I was getting ready for work that morning when my phone rang. It was my mom. It was 5:30am. When your mom calls at 5:30am you immediately begin to worry. I picked up the phone as she exclaimed, “He’s here! Your nephew, Burke, is here! He was born just a little while ago and looks great!”
My mom gave me all the stats on him. How much he weighs, how long he is.. you know, all those things you want to know when someone has a baby. We talk for a little bit about my sister, the labor, the delivery, and how she’s doing. Then, she lets me go so I can continue getting ready for the day.
I remember sitting there, excited for my sister, but sad at the same time. You see, we lived in the Dallas area at that time, and I so wanted to be in San Antonio. To see Burke, to hold him, to hug my sister, but I couldn’t. I immediately began thinking about when I could make the 5 hour drive to San Antonio.
That morning I floated on cloud 9 as I thought about my sister and the newest addition to our family. I couldn’t wait to see him! I couldn’t wait until it was time to take the kids to specials (PE, Art, Music) so that I could call and check up on everyone.
When I finally got to my phone, I noticed that I had a missed call and voicemail from my mom. I quickly listened to her message. It went something like.. “Call me as soon as you can. It’s about Burke.” I could tell by her voice that something was wrong… terribly wrong.
I immediately called her back. When she picked up the phone, I noticed her voice was shaky. Had she been crying? Mom explained that Burke had several indicators of Down Syndrome. She asked me to pray for him, for my sister and her husband, to send out a prayer request to everyone I knew. I stood there, my legs shaking, my heart quickening and my mind racing… How could this be? How could they have missed this? Why my sister? Why, God?
There comes a time in every one’s life where you question God. When you ask God.. why? Maybe even… How could YOU do this to ME? I began to pray like no other… I asked God to take this diagnosis away. Make him alright. Let it be a mistake.
An hour later, we knew for sure. My little nephew, Burke, has Down Syndrome. ‘
The tears fell. I could only imagine what my sister and her husband were going through. My heart broke. This was just the first of many times that day that I felt my heart breaking in two.
I thought about my sister and my heart broke for her, for the baby she dreamed of. When you are pregnant, you imagine what your baby will be like. No one ever imagines their baby being… different. In that instant, life changed… not just for my sister and her husband, but for my entire family.
Immediately, I fell in love. My perspective changed. I LOVED this little boy, and no matter the diagnosis, he would be no different to me. Thoughts immediately flooded my mind… thoughts I have no doubt that God placed there. Thoughts like.. “Every good and PERFECT gift comes from above.. James 1:17”, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…Jeremiah 29:11”
That afternoon I got to talk to my sister. I listened as she cried and cried. I remember her telling me that she worried about his future, but most of all, she worried about how other people would treat him. About how other KIDS would treat him. As a teacher, I understood. Kids are mean. Really mean. The thing is, when I think back to the children I’ve seen with special needs in the school system, and especially those with Down Syndrome, the children embrace them.. take care of them. Yes, they treat them differently, but not in a bad way. It’s almost like children know. Maybe God softens their heart for these children.
I remembered when I taught 4th grade in Coppell and we had a boy with Down Syndrome on our grade level. The kids LOVED him! They encouraged him to play soccer with them at recess, and they always made it so he could make a score during each game.
I shared these things with my sister and encouraged her as best I could. I’m sure it didn’t change anything at the time. When I hung up, I prayed.. not for Burke, not for my family, but for my sister. That God would help her to see the “good and perfect gift” he had blessed her with.
Burke’s daddy, Keith, started a blog so he could keep the family updated. If you have time, you can read about Burke from their point of view… Burke Burkington Burkenstock
Doesn’t my sister look great? Burke even waved good-bye! 🙂
A few weeks later, after things calmed down in their household, I was able to make the drive to come see my nephew for the first time.
Isn’t he a doll? Just being with him made me love him more. I wanted to hold him forever.
I remember at one point, Keith offered to watch Burke so my sister and I could go to lunch. I loved being there with her. It made me sad to know that I couldn’t be there to help her through this on a daily basis. That I couldn’t babysit or watch Burke grow.
After lunch, on my way back to my parent’s house, I was stuck at light. As I sat there, holding back the tears, I had a thought. Again.. God.. “Why can’t you live here?” My mind started racing. Could we move back? It would mean leaving my school of 8 years, my best friends, and the church we loved, but was it possible?
Later that night I talked to my husband as I ran the idea by him. He liked the idea. He had just received a promotion that involved traveling, but it also allowed him to work from home. Couldn’t he do that from anywhere? He decided he would run it by his boss that Monday. I prayed…for God’s will. If God had truly put that thought in my mind, then wouldn’t he allow it to all work out. After all, “.. we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Maybe, just maybe, being near my family was part of God’s purpose.
In the end, my hubby’s boss said it was fine, I turned in my resignation, we found an amazing home in San Antonio, and we moved on June 2nd.
Now, I get to babysit Burke…
My boys get to grow up with Burke. They absolutely adore him…
Life for our family has changed, but I have seen nothing but blessings. Burke coming into the world changed our lives forever, and I am so thankful for that. I have watched my sister and her husband become amazing parents. I am excited to see how God will use this little boy to change this world. I have no doubt that he will!
In just two short weeks, my family and I will be participating in the National Down Syndrome Buddy Walk. We would love for you to help us out by making a donation… maybe even just $5, to help out this amazing organization that helps children, like my nephew Burke. It would mean the world to us!
Click here to donate… Burke’s Best Buddies UPDATE… Thanks so much to everyone who donated!!! We LOVE you!!! Because of you, we ranked 2nd overall in fundraising! If you haven’t read it yet, you can read about our first Buddy Walk here.