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she knows her voice

she walked into the room without a single self-conscious thought. not a sole inhibition weighing her down, tempering her self. her soul. her voice. she walked right up to the keynote speaker with her inquisitive eyes and pure, tender heart. she stood. she watched. she waited. a little girl who follows her own voice. a voice of curiosity. of courage. a voice that tells her to be herself. unequivocally, unabashedly herself.

i watched her with pure delight. her three year old little body filled with a gentle grace and character that i may never have. may never hope to know. i marveled how a little girl could light up a room just by walking in it. could pull a grown man down by his hand to sit with her on the floor, without saying a single word. could sleep in my arms and minister to a deep place in my soul. fill an aching longing in my heart.

her name is nora, and her name means light.

and nora has downs syndrome.

not many of us will ever know the beauty of a heart like hers. the gift that she bears with her uninhibited, unvarnished self. not perfect, not pc, but her. undeniably, imperfectly, perfectly her. there have been so many times in my life i’ve struggled to find my voice. i wonder often, do i know my voice even yet? so many times i’ve felt it much better, wiser, and certainly easier to remain silent than risk the chance of failure. rejection. ridicule. when a story from my life was far more painful to tell than to just keep quiet. when fear of a present joy would cause others to judge or be mean. when i’ve posted a status only to delete it minutes later for fear: what would “they” think?

the bottom line is we’re all just scared. every one of us afraid of something and though perhaps silly to someone else, still very real to us.

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for me it’s always been judgment, rejection, or not being accepted or approved of that makes me quiet. that makes me delete a post or obsess about a comment i made in haste. it’s silly. i know it is. and yet, it remains. it is my silence. it is my story: breaking free of the identity i’ve misplaced in the perception and approval of others. knowing my value comes from Christ, and i run this race for an audience of One. it’s a lifelong journey of breaking free, and finding our voice.

what makes you fall silent? makes you believe your voice doesn’t matter? who or what makes you feel less than the woman God created you to be? i know somewhere in these words you connect because you’ve been there too. you’ve felt the loneliness. the longing. the desire to be seen and known. to matter.

the truth is we all struggle with the same darkness. the same fears. we are more alike than we are different, sharing similar roads of rejection, pain, bitter and broken hearts. it’s not if, but how. and when, and whom… and the truth is we are better together, and your voice matters. yes, your voice. her voice. the voices you love and the voices you love to hate – they both matter. your voice may be the one voice that changes everything for someone in your path. a life, perhaps, you may never know. your light and your darkness is what makes you, and the world needs them both. it’s what’s authentic and real and true. it is you.

yes, we may be different from nora. she may be different from us. but she has life to teach us. freedom to show us. this little girl can give us courage to find our voice and use it to love others well. in a broken world of hurt people hurting people, little nora is a light in the darkness. let us be light too.

i’m linking with jo ann fore today as part of a launch team of incredible women for her new book: “when a woman finds her voice.” i am inspired and encouraged holding her words of encouragement and hope in my hands. challenging us to live in the truth that our voice matters, knowing we are amongst many friends in our silence. will you, along with me, join jo ann on a journey “to be the type of woman willing to carry your pain and disappointment straight to Jesus, and wait for him while you immerse yourself in a purposeful life?” {excerpt from when a woman finds her voice}. you don’t want to miss this book or her story. it’s a powerful word, carefully crafted for a woman’s heart. your heart.

Jo Ann Fore


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{ 21 comments… add one }
  • teresa September 12, 2013, 9:32 pm

    Love your writing and your transparent heart.

    • Tammy September 13, 2013, 2:11 pm

      thank you teresa, i’m blessed to have you here.

  • Sarah Knepper September 12, 2013, 9:38 pm

    Tammy I love this! I wish I didn’t worry so much with what other people think of me. I wasted too much time doing that. Thank you for sharing your heart and the story of Nora, she sounds beautiful, raw and free. I want to be that too.


  • Ada September 13, 2013, 3:46 am

    So beautiful.
    I hate the regret of not doing something. Saying something. Singing something because of what “they” may think. And unfortunately I have that regret too often.
    Who would I be if I only worried about what He thought and no one else.
    Working on it.
    Thank you for the beautiful words. My heart needed this.

    • Tammy September 13, 2013, 2:12 pm

      thank you for sharing ada. who would we be, indeed… hugs to your sweet heart.

  • Victoria Mininger September 13, 2013, 1:38 pm

    A child shall lead them indeed! A Beautiful reminder that we are more alike than we think and that we are not truly alone in this journey of life. Thank you for sharing your heart and voice with us.

    • Tammy September 13, 2013, 2:16 pm

      let the children lead. love… thank YOU victoria!

  • Tina Evans September 13, 2013, 5:55 pm

    “for me it’s always been judgment, rejection, or not being accepted or approved of that makes me quiet. that makes me delete a post or obsess about a comment i made in haste. it’s silly. i know it is. and yet, it remains. it is my silence. -” What a powerful statement that I totally and completely agree with. I have this re-occurring theme in my head that constantly questions the things I have said and done. Beautiful story about your lovely daughter. May we all live like that one day.

    • Tammy September 14, 2013, 3:00 am

      thank you tina, i hope to live like her one day too. although she is not my daughter, i am honored to know her and her family.

  • Cheryl Lutz September 13, 2013, 6:32 pm


  • Michelle September 13, 2013, 10:09 pm

    This is incredible. I have a Nora as well, and perhaps the name spreads its meaning on the person or the meaning exalts itself through who God created the person to be, I cannot know. My Nora has flirted with leaving this world twice and I can tell you even in those dark times, where I felt as close to how God felt giving His son to a world who hated Him as I could, she lit the room with her mystifying spirit. I understand fully how we learn from these little people, and I am hungry for as many lessons as God has planned! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. You are amazing.

    • Tammy September 14, 2013, 3:03 am

      mmmmm, michelle. i would love to know your nora. i’m sure she has so much to teach. delight in her. let her light lead you. {hugs}

  • CJ September 14, 2013, 1:50 am

    I know that voice. Her name is Emma. She came to me when she was a few months past her first birthday. I could never begin to share half the lessons she has taught me or how desperately I needed those lessons.

    • Tammy September 14, 2013, 3:05 am

      how beautiful CJ. she is the light He has given you. How He knows what we need so much more than we… blessings to you & your sweet emma. {hugs}

  • Amanda Chance September 14, 2013, 4:07 am

    Wow , what an amazing post, thankyou for sharing Nora with me . The approval I fight for but cant seem to get close to is the approval of my spouse! Just tonight I learned I still crave his approval a lot! I need to only want to have the approval of one !

    • Tammy September 15, 2013, 2:41 am

      of course, we all do, amanda. praying for you to find your identity in an audience of One. and praying your husband’s heart will turn lovingly toward you as he sees you seek your fullness in Him.

  • Krista September 19, 2013, 4:32 am

    Isn’t this so true?? Sweetest, boldest Nora. Her beauty is even greater because of her freedom to love and live just as she is…. may we all watch carefully and learn!

  • JJ @ My Chicken Fried LIfe October 2, 2013, 7:19 pm

    Tammy –
    I’m not sure how your blog has gone unnoticed to me from the blog class! I’ve loved reading through your writing this afternoon.
    These words resonate with my spirit today. A sweet reminder that I am not alone as I continue to strive to have my confidence strongly rooted in My Creator instead seeking the approval of those around me.
    Looking forward to following along with your blogging journey!

    • Tammy October 2, 2013, 7:53 pm

      awe, thanks jj! i’m so happy to have you here. and just started following your blog as well. look forward to reading your posts!

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