one open heart

I am learning one open heart can change the world.

On a sunny Sunday morning last year, we arrived at church a few minutes early. David slowly climbed the steps, one at a time, while holding my hand. Once inside he pulled away from me, wanting to explore the sanctuary before the service began. I set down my bag and followed closely behind him. I had no idea what was about to happen.


David lives life inside a body that doesn’t cooperate. Because of his disability, he is very small, has only two fingers on his left hand and is non-verbal. David can’t speak with words but he has much to say. He communicates through gestures, physical touch and heart connection. As he moved around the room he ran his hand over the smooth wood of the church pew, weaving in and out of the narrow space. Then he crossed the aisle and made his way over to a woman sitting by herself. She was in her late thirties, had a kind face and a gentle presence.

We’d never met but that didn’t stop David from approaching her. As he got closer, the woman looked up and smiled at him. Once beside her, David turned around and backed up to her—it’s his way of asking to be held.

“He wants to sit on your lap.” I explained. “He can sit next to you if you prefer.”

“No,” she said, “I’d love to hold him.” She carefully lifted him onto her lap.

He tenderly wrapped his arms around her neck and laid his head against her shoulder.

“Is this okay?” I asked, anxious to be considerate of her space “Would you like me to move him?”

She looked up at me with tears in her eyes.

“My mom was diagnosed with cancer a couple days ago.” she said in a quiet voice. “I just needed a hug so badly. He knew exactly what I needed.”

I bent down beside them and touched her knee softly as she and David embraced. It was a holy moment of connection that soothed a hurting heart.

In that moment he gave her love, changing her world.

So often I rush around, trying to take care of people, trying to serve, trying to be good enough, trying to prove myself.

David doesn’t worry about these things. He is present in the moment. He is fully himself, unconcerned with what others think.

David’s simple act of love brought hope and beauty to this woman’s day.

He saw her and without pause met her exactly where she was.

It wasn’t accidental.

It wasn’t complicated.

It was David’s open heart that created a beautiful connection.

Maybe it’s not only grand, heroic actions that change the world.

Maybe it’s the quiet moments, when, in humility and brokenness we meet each other right where we are.

We offer hope and love.

We are present to witness another person’s pain and offer soothing grace.

When we stop rushing, stop trying, stop proving, we can be fully present in the moment.

We can be fully ourselves and open our hearts to each other.

David is showing me one open heart can change the world.


  1. Your comment about David not worrying about things, that he was always present n the moment. He was fully himself, he didn’t care what others think. This perfectly described our Jason. Sadly we lost Jason a month ago succumbing to his genetic problems. We had him for 45 years and was blindsided that one day his body would collapse around him. Hug your little David before he slips away.

  2. Beautiful! As the mother of a sweet 45 yr old daughter with Down Syndrome I can relate to the uniqueness of our children. I’m always inspired how their hearts are so humble and completely open to love. Thanks for sharing this moment!!

  3. I love reading your stories about David because he reminds me so much of our son, Scotty. Scotty is 30 and has CDLS. David could be his twin with their cute, infectious grin. Scotty is also non-verbal but he speaks volumes. Everyone knows him and loves him. He will climb on your lap, give you a hug and be on his way. Can’t imagine him any other way. I know you are special and David is a very fortunate young man to have you as his mom.

  4. I have never replied to any thing I read unless it was going directly back to the person who sent it to me but, your story that you shared about your son is one of the most inspiring thing that I have. Ever read. You definitely have a very special gift from god. David was sent to you for a reason. I have a feeling that your family needed him as much as he needed all of you. God bless you all and cherish every day that he is with you. He will teach you just as much as you teach him!! ?

  5. People with Downs Syndrome have been said to be the happiest people in the world. Our family has been so blessed. God chose her to be our daughter when she was 2 years old. We accepted without looking back, yet having no idea what the future would hold. 16 years later, she has brought happiness where ever people are receiving of her presence. She has remained mostly non-verbal. This past Valentine Day, she gave me the greatest gift. After my 9 year old said, “I love you mom”, my non-verbal imitator, said, “I love you mom”. I ask myself, why am I the one so blessed to be Selena’s mother.

  6. Thank you for your beautiful post. One of my best friends is Tami, a 50 year old woman with an extra chromosome. To me it makes her extra special. Others say she “Suffers” from Down’s Syndrome. She is filled with so much love, joy and happiness it just kind of ozzes out of her. Like David, she feels things that the rest of us seem to be too busy to catch. God bless the David’s and Tami’s in the world,! We so desperately need them.

  7. God bless you both. You show him the greatest love in taking him to church in the first place instead of using him as an excuse not to go at all. He obviously knows Gods love and so naturally shares it in the most beautiful of ways.

  8. In response to the question of why God allows innocent children to be born with handicaps and have to bear the burden of that… I once heard it said that maybe these children are placed here to teach us lessons. Lessons of love, compassion, courage.

  9. God created ANGELS on all shapes and sizes…. You beautiful song is one of GOD’S creations… YOU are blessed to be the one chosen to care for this gift…… SWEET STORY

  10. i too have a handicapped child who is all grown up now, but still wanders the church and looks for people to talk too. I always worried about her disturbing people, and I was never sure how they would react to her, so I tried to stay close by her to be able to whisk her away in an instant if I found someone who would not want to be ‘bothered’ by her. (In my church family’s defense, there has never been anyone who was not receptive to her). Late last year, she got very sick and was on life support and not expected to live. It was a trying and heart breaking time, but God was there through it all with us, and I was blessed with so many little stories of how my daughter, Gini touched their lives every week at church with her hugs and inquiries about how they were. Many told me that her hug was the only one they got each week, and how they looked forward to seeing her at church. As the mother, after spending years trying to keep her close by and not allow her to disturb other people, I learned a valuable lesson in letting go and letting Gini minister to those in need in her own unique way. I also learned that even the handicapped have unique gifts that God PS: Gini did survive her ordeal, and is making a good recovery now and looking forward to going back to church to see her ‘friends’.

  11. God knew what he was doing when he made children like David. They show unconditional love like God want us to do. God never makes a mistake.
    Let’s learn from David and those like him.

  12. We have a special needs young man in our family. He and his Dad people watch while his Mom shops. One day Alex got up and followed a young girl tapping her on the shoulder. His Dad explained he likes pretty girls but had never approached one. Alex wanted a hug and the girl obliged him. Dad apologized to which the girl replied “that is fine”. Alex was excited. It is people like her that make the rude ones bearable.

  13. I wanted to reread this post a couple of days ago, so I searched through the archives in vain. Then today, there it was on my facebook feed! I have been having a difficult time lately, and reading about David’s sweet spirit is inspiring. Blessings!

  14. This just came up on my facebook feed and I know it is not a coincidence. Thank you for sharing your experience. It was like a balm to my weary spirit after such an intense week this new yew.
    Blessings of peace and love.

  15. Absolutely the most touching thing I have ever read, and the tears just continue to roll down my cheeks! I feel truly Blessed to have read this and it has opened my eyes and heart to you both! Blessings to you both always!


  17. An awesome, touching story of a wonderful young boy and a special lady who needed his loving attention and touch! He had the instinct to know what she needed, and that is so inspiring! Thank God for the sensitivity of this child and the unbelievable need and acceptance from this woman! God bless you all! A great inspiring story! Thank you for allowing this contact!

  18. thank you, want one of your bands so badly and will get one soon, other things right now but love your stories and love David

  19. We call these beautiful children “special.” And they are special – they are ambassadors from God to a hurting, broken world to show God’s divine love for them through their expressions, although non-verbal, of love. How beautiful this is!

  20. You can never convince me that hugs are not a God given ministry. I have twins who are nonverbal in public. They are developmentally disabled and will probably never be above a 4th grade level. They give hugs and there are people at our church that look for them for a hug or a high five. I’ve had people tell me how much the look forward to a hug from them.

    1. I believe challenged children are given to us to teach us the meaning of compassion and true love for one another.


    2. I gave a little boy a home when he was five ,got him through the foster care ,he could not talk only scream ,could not walk ,came to me in a baby tee shirt and a diaper .he. Loves to hug,loves music and loves a ball .He is now fifty one ,but he is still a child .He can now talk in broken sentences ,and walk ,doesn’t take much to make him happy . His thing is he loves to sweep with a broom ,so he keeps the porch clean .I have had people ask me why did you take someone like him.when I took him I fell in love with him and all the children I took in always loved him .,my answer to the nurse that asked me why did you take him ,I said you know I may need him some day not knowing that I do today ,I walk with Two canes because I need Knee replacements ,but may not be able because of circulation. God knows what he is doing.He knew Bobby would be well taken care off..And I would need him one day .I gave birth to two children and have taken care of over Forty .My husband always had our own ball team .

  21. “This wasn’t accidental.” This I believe with my whole heart! Don’t underestimate YOUR part in this, either! He is able to be who he is because you are the perfect mother for him!

    1. That is so beautiful that David knew exactly who needed that hug. He is certainly a gift from GOD. David made her day and he also made mine just reading it. GOD Bless you sweet guy and GOD Bless you kind lady and hope your Mom gets better. Happy New Year and many Blessings. Thanks for putting this on Facebook. So so Beautiful.

  22. Lisa Leonard,
    I left a reply to Mikki Stooksbury above, regarding her comment to you. It’s right
    above this. Perhaps you can read it and know what I was going to write you?
    Your son sounds just like an Angel that I’d love to have near me when I’m feeling
    down and in need of a warm and gentle hug!! He sounds perfect!!

    God bless you and your sweet little boy! Thank you for posting your story and I
    fully intend on going back to your page/blog and reading any old posts that I can
    get my eyes on!!

    Wishing you and David a very Happy New Year!
    Carolyn Schmidt
    [email protected]

    1. Lisa Leonard,

      I feel the exact same way, David is definitely a gift from God!! What a special angel he is
      and knows just when someone needs a very special touch and a very special hug!!

      This was such a very touching story about a very special young man!!!! Who has a very
      special Mom!!! He is a gift!!

  23. Thank you for sharing . What a beautiful story and a beautiful little boy. It is amazing to see God at work. Truly you are blessed.

  24. Lisa –
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful moment. Please –
    Don’t ever downplay your strength, your service, your acceptance and love- all of these ensure that David can be the person he is meant to be.

  25. David reminds me so much of my grandson Austin who also has CdLS. He is 2 1/2 years old and both arms have limb differences (one digit on the right and two fused digits on the left) but when he hugs and snuggles his head in the nook of my neck, all my worries melt away.

  26. What a beautiful story. A friend who uses yoga to work with children with autism once said that these special children are here for a reason, to help us connect with a higher power. David knew what this woman needed and offered it unconditionally. Sharing this story will affect all who read it. In that way David is teaching us all to be in the moment and show compassion. Thank you for sharing.

  27. This is amazing. Reaching out to others where they are and meeting a need. You son has a gift from God and is a gift from God. May we all learn the simple kindnesses he shows. Meet others where they are and open our hearts.

    1. Today, this moment is all we have here. To lose even a minute is waste. When David gives himself over to the hands of the living God, he is used in a way to reach hearts, that God needs a human touch to reach, amen

    2. God gave her a wonderful son. We all need a hug once in awhile. I know as out of the blue I was so down taking care of my elderly parents that I ran into a long lost friend and she looked at me and said, “You need a hug.” I will never forget that and I am sure the woman that got a hug from David will never forget. God Bless you and David and David enjoy your Christmas.

  28. Just a great reminder how something so small can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Helps to remember to slow down and enjoy simple things in life instead of getting caught up in all the other stuff!

  29. So often we look outside toward others we see, we share in their sorrow when joy seems to flee; while there may be some in our own realm called home, whose anger and distance need only love shown.

    1. I cried a bit uncontrollably reading your story. I am going through a difficult time and almost felt this hug from your angel.
      God Bless you and sweet David.


    Mr. Sherman
    Of Sunday Mass
    Carried his daughter
    And the years did pass

    Up the steps
    And down the nave
    A sigh she gave

    She couldn’t talk
    She couldn’t sing
    Just gave a groan
    With the gold bell’s ring

    His buoyant burden
    His consoling cross
    Her sheath of skin
    As soft as moss

    But she had forty
    Limbs from brothers
    Sisters too
    There were ten others

    Who held her close
    And cradled her head
    While Mr. Sherman
    Received Christ’s Bread

    Then genuflect
    And up the nave
    Down the steps
    And to his grave

    No earthly King
    Will ever surpass
    Mr. Sherman
    Of Sunday Mass

    Mr. Sherman, his special needs daughter & their whole family taught me the truth of Christ’s love for all! Your little boy is a Saint.


  31. I wonder if all of us were so attuned to God’s leading, that we could change this difficult world through our words and actions? Let’s try to listen to Him more and see!! We’d have to get off our cell phones once in a while and observe others and their needs, wouldn’t we????

  32. We had a similar experience with my daughter, who has CP. She decided one day that she wanted to sit with an elderly gentleman who sat alone in the pew behind us each week. Each week she sat a little closer to him, until she was resting her head on his shoulder. The next week she rested her head and linked her arm through his. He couldn’t hold back the tears. It turns out that this man had a large family that used to attend church regularly together, but family issues and distance kept them apart now. Each week she had some loving little gesture for him, stroking his hand, touching his ear, patting his arm. One day when he looked over at her she grabbed his face and gave him a giant smackeroo, right on the lips! We sit in the front row and people behind us chuckled right out loud. He had a broken heart and she healed it. One day, while holding her in my arms, I just broke down crying and thanking God for such a beautiful blessing, a blessing named Ava.

  33. Yes all we need to do is slow down , take a deep breath and let a child guide us, they are very smart people and they show love in so many ways if we open up our Hearts and let Love in!
    Beautiful story kids are very Smart and have so much to give when it is. Needed the Most,

  34. Wow the things that a child can teach us if we were all only open to such a gift like David has of pure love for others.

  35. A friend once told me, Wendy, we are all broken, some people , like me, we are broken on the outside. Some people, like you, are broken on the inside.
    Sometimes, I think that those like David are far less broken than we know. They look at the rest of us without judgement and perhaps hear God more clearly than we do. Or, at least they don’t question when he calls them to be there for a broken soul.
    Obviously, David’s heart is open and pure and God does great things through him.
    Thank you for sharing this moment of healing with us.

  36. I just saw this entry posted on a local site “sam’s window”, a not for profit that helps us foster/adopt families. It has caught the attention of a few of us, and I would like to say thank you Lisa for sharing.
    As parents to all types of children it is a calm to hear other moms tell us, “it’s ok” to let our kids be their wonderful selves with no anxiety.
    I have looked into a purchase from you for our up coming adoption and since I have “seen” you all over the internet (Facebook, ads, Pinterest etc.). But I will say, this share on Facebook book means a lot.
    Thank you for sharing!

  37. I am so thankful that you and David allowed yourselves to be used as a blessing for this woman, and that she allowed herself to receive it. What a beautiful moment.

  38. Once after being in the hospital with a heart problem in which I most likely should have died my husband insisted we get my meds on the way home. I had not had my hair washed, only God knew what I really looked like. So I sat on the bench at the pharmacy wishing I were not there. Now hear me. A woman with her child in the seat of the cart was looking for something in an aisle before me. She let the child peruse the choices, and when the child made a choice, the mother accepted it and put it in the grocery cart. In that moment eternity opened before me. The smallest thing, the smallest interaction, is not missed by our Heavenly Father. There is no other way I can explain it. Just that small interaction, God was watching. And it meant everything to Him. And I learned so much from that one moment, than I have learned in many years of living. Even if we give a cup of water, He knows. I could have been being buried at that moment, but here I was witnessing an interaction in a second of time that meant everything to God. And I imagine, these seconds are to mean everything to us also. Once that moment is gone, it cannot be changed, and it will never happen again.

  39. This story touched my heart sometimes in our day to day lives we just need to stop and realize what is truly important in life Thank you for helping me remember what is really important in life God Bless you and your family

  40. What a beautiful boy and a beautiful heart. You are so very blessed as are all those who are blessed to meet David.

  41. Wow ! I just so happen to run across your rings on f.b. and went to your blog … this story just bless me so…. Just how your son lives in the moment is just what I want to do.. enjoy the art of life that God created for us to enjoy! … this is beautiful so glad I ran across this story! God Bless u!

  42. Thank you for sharing this. What a beautiful story. It’s wonderful how you give David the space to be himself.

  43. There are those that think God’s Heavenly creatures have wings, harps, and sit above us on clouds…if they read about your son’s life and the way he touches others lives, they will soon grow to realize that Angels have no set size, shape, or presence…I am thankful that your son Blessed the woman in church, and that his story being told Blessed my heart as well!

    1. Yes Ramona.I too believe it was Divine intervention. David knew exactly what the woman needed and went to her without reservation, What a true Blessing from above. Thank you Mo for sharing your story,

  44. Hi Lisa, I’m SO glad I came across your blog today, what a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing <3
    I'm also a CdLS mama (I blog about our life too) and I agree that open hearts really CAN change the world.
    Sending you greeting from across the pond.

  45. Lisa, Thank you for sharing this story. My three year-old son is severely disabled. Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand God’s purpose for his life. When I hear stories like this, it is encouraging. Also, I love how you handled it. You gave the woman the opportunity to say “no” to David pursuing her, but you didn’t limit your child. I hope I can do that one day too.

  46. Thank you for sharing your one open heart!!! David is providing LOVE in so many ways to so many people – even to people he doesn’t know!!!! My eyes fill with tears and could use a hug from David so far away on the east coast.

  47. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story! Your son is amazing!I You are a wonderful mother to him !Children that are loved reflected that love and kindness to others ! I read your posts often & I am always encouraged !God Bless You & your wonderful Family Lisa !

  48. I discovered your jewelry on Instagram and I LOVE your story behind the jewelry. I read your blogs often…thank you for sharing your beautiful boy with us. Tears are streaming.

  49. Lisa- This is a beautiful story. I have ALWAYS said that children like David do not have disabilities. It’s the rest of us that have the disabilities. David knows how to love unconditionally, how to beautifully communicate without speaking & how to sense what none of us can even understand It’s too bad that the rest of the human race doesn’t possess these very special qualities. He knows only love & spreads only love. How many of us can say that???

    You have a very special child but I know I don’t need to tell you that. I hope this special story you told of your son will inspire you to create a very special piece of jewelry that symbolizes this love!!!

    Merry Christmas to you & your beautiful family,

  50. Oh my…tears streaming down my cheeks. Your David is so very precious, in so many ways. You are one very lucky Mumma! ❤️

  51. Lisa – this is so touching. I truly hope I can be half the mother that you are. Your son is beautiful. His tender heart, despite all obstacles…a gift. I will cherish this stroy, thank you for sharing. Warmly, Joanne

  52. Dear Lisa,
    I’ve just gotten home from work and I’m having an afterschool snack…
    The chips got “stuck” as the lump formed in my throat while reading this.
    With tearful joy I thank you for sharing . In my personal life and professional life (SLP/special education), I have witnessed and felt those powerful ways that an open heart can communicate…no words needed. May God continue to bless your entire family!

  53. This is so sweet and brought a tear to my eyes. It reminded me of the video going around of the elderly gentleman and the young girl who made friends at the grocery store when she hugged him, when he needed it most. ( google it)
    Children know and can sense when people need love or a hug. It reminds us that there is a much higher power and being at work. It reminds us of the great human spirit and kindness and that there is love all around us, even when we doubt it.
    This is so great. Thank you for sharing

  54. you brought this hard hearted day to a full stop. I’ve struggled so much this year facing holidays without family. Thank you and thank David for bringing the true meaning back to me today. I <3 you both so very much. Blessings and much love to your entire family during this season and all year.

  55. Hi Lisa,
    I know you don’t know me, and I don’t really know you, but, I read your posts daily! David has a spirit of discernment to that I am certain. I love that his open heart has the ability to feel and offer love to those who need it most. David may have “disabilities” in the traditional sense, but, not many people I know, can be so open to realize others are hurting! Most people, sadly, do not take the time to care. For me, David is all the good in this world, when there is so much bad around us! Thank you for sharing this story about David in particular, it moved me beyond belief!! Blessings and hugs to you and your family!!!

    1. Thank you Mikki
      Yes, I agree he has a spirit of discernment. Such a beautiful soul–and it shines! Hugs to you. xx

    2. Mikki Stooksbury,
      I so agree with you on your post to Lisa Leonard about her son! I’m ashamed to
      admit or even say that this is the first time I’ve heard of her and her child and I’m
      so sad I’ve missed quite a bit on this subject. But perhaps in time I can go back
      and catch up on past posts and read them?

      For the past few years I’ve taken care of my sick husband; in 2015 he passed
      away and in Oct. of this year I moved to another state to be closer to my Sister
      since my health isn’t the best now. I sure could use David around here! <3 God
      bless him and his Mother! I too have tears dripping down my cheeks, can't help
      it~! Blessings and hugs to you Mikki and to David and his Mom!!

      1. God has given all of us the gift of compassion and many other gifts, but we don’t seem to have the ability to use them. Pray that you can give of yourself to others. As He said. “Remove the log from your eye.” Alexander of Westland MI [email protected]

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