When Heather Avis began to pursue motherhood, she had no idea it would find her three times, all through adoption. She had no idea she would have two children with Down syndrome and a child with a different color skin than hers. When Heather pursued motherhood, she had no idea she was pursuing the role of advocate, or as she likes to say, ‘shouter of worth’. Heather and I connected over broken hearts on a bus in Israel. As our friendship has unfolded it has been my pleasure to watch Heather not only step into her role as a mother but to watch her shout her kids worth for all the world to hear and in so doing, showing the world how God loves all the different people in it. Heather’s advocacy is creating spaces in this world, kingdom minded spaces, where everyone can belong. It’s a grace to welcome Heather to the farm’s front porch today…
have learned so much from my kids over the years as I’ve stepped into spaces I didn’t know existed.
And the longer I linger in these spaces, the more I’ve been exposed to the injustices people such as my kids are expected to live with.
And the more exposure I have to these injustices, the more determined I am to be an advocate for change, to shout the worth of my children and others who continue to be seen as less worthy based on their ability or the color of their skin.
Once, during a podcast interview, I was asked if I had always been an advocate or if I had character traits that naturally led me to advocacy.
Before the interviewer asked the question, I hadn’t thought about it much. When I look back on my childhood, I can see I always had a heart for the underdog.
I believe this is because I often felt like an underdog myself.
Maybe it’s because I’m a middle child (and all the middle children nodded their heads), or maybe it’s because I’m an Enneagram Two (and all the Enneagram Twos nodded their heads).
But I really do believe that God was preparing me, even in childhood, to be a shouter of worth with a voice loud enough to step up onto a platform when needed.
It seems to me that advocacy is something very few people actually seek out, as was the case for me.
Being an advocate is almost always emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausting. It’s a heck of a lot easier to live within our bubbles—where everyone looks and thinks and acts like us—than it is to burst those bubbles.
But do you know what happens when you live inside a bubble? It blurs your vision on everything outside the bubble.
In other words, you can’t see straight.
And if our view of people who are different from us is blurry, then our view of God is blurry as well.
As a middle-class physically and intellectually abled white woman, I was born into a pretty sweet little bubble.
It wasn’t until I took some trips outside the United States in my younger years and then later adopted Macyn, Truly, and August that I could recognize I’d been living in a bubble at all.
Once I could see the world a little more clearly, once I saw how the systems that had worked just fine for me didn’t work for my kids and so many others, I could no longer sit comfortably in silence.
And that’s how and when I became an advocate.
No, we rarely go looking for advocacy; rather she comes popping our bubbles and pounding on our door, and given the reality of our circumstances, we gladly let her in.
It’s only when our circumstances do not require advocacy that we get to decide whether we want to be an advocate.
And that ability to choose advocacy is a privilege—a privilege I once possessed, before kids with Down syndrome or dark skin entered my life.
Before Macyn, Truly, and August, when I saw certain injustices happening in the world, I could choose to raise my voice in opposition, or I could choose to remain quiet.
But now that these three babes are in my life, there’s no question what my response will be when a person or a system treats my kids as less than fully worthy—I am going to advocate for them by shouting their worth at the top of my lungs.
Jesus was the greatest advocate and shouter of worth to ever live. He entered the systems in place during His time on earth, and He said, “Nuh-uh! This is not going to work, friends.” (This exact wording may not be found in the Bible.)
His radical love of the underdog had all the system makers seething (remember the Pharisees?). He taught some pretty out-there stuff, such as love your enemy; forgive unconditionally; leave the many to save the one; people outside your ethnicity/gender/culture are your equals—these were, and let’s be honest, still are, radical ideas.
And He spent the majority of His ministry life on earth with the people who did not fit or even have access to the systems in place—women, people with leprosy, those who were differently abled, and so many other outcasts of society.
Jesus was radically pro-underdog. He was and is the greatest shouter of worth.
So if we love Jesus, if we are familiar with His work on earth, then we can no longer say we don’t know. Because we know.
And if we know, then we have the great privilege of choosing to step boldly into our roles as advocates for others.
As people who love Jesus and strive to be more like Him, none of us get to sit this one out.
Advocacy is not only for those of us born into a privileged space; it is for everyone. Even if you are among those who need others to shout your worth, there is someone sitting behind you who needs you to shout theirs.
Just imagine, then, a whole world of people who love radically, who live a lifestyle of looking beyond their bubbles to see who’s left out, who scoot over to make some room, who shout at the top of their lungs, I see your worth!
You are worthy of life!
Worthy of a place to live!
Worthy of an education!
Worthy of a job!
Worthy of our love!
Worthy of our forgiveness!
Worthy of our positive assumptions!
When we use our voices to shout the worth of others, it drowns out all the other voices, and the world hears just one thing—the love of Jesus!
Narrative shifter, author and mama to three adopted kids—two with Down Syndrome—Heather Avis has made it her mission to introduce the world to the unique gifts of those pushed to the edges of society. She and her husband run, The Lucky Few, a social advocacy brand with an emphasis on shifting the Down syndrome narrative.
In her newest book, Scoot Over and Make Some Room Heather tells hilarious stories of her growing kids—spontaneous dance parties, forgotten pants, and navigating the challenges and joys of parenthood. She shares heartbreaking moments when her kids were denied a place at the table and when she had to fight for their voices to be heard. It is a part inspiring narrative and part encouraging challenge for us all to listen and learn from those we’re prone to ignore.
This book is an invitation to a table where space is unlimited, and every voice can be heard. Because Heather has learned when you open your life to the wild beauty of every unique individual, you’ll discover your own colorful soul and the extraordinary, abundant heart of God.
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]