This used to be my mom’s favorite saying. She believed it all of her life, but never as much as she did after the birth of my brother, Curtis. When she was pregnant with him, she was unknowingly exposed to German Measles, thus affecting him with Rubella Syndrome.

Curtis was unfortunate to acquire all of the accompanying diagnosis; he had a severe hearing impairment, congenital heart disease, an intellectual disability, an odd head shape (like a smooshed pear,) a cleft lip and palate, autism and was legally blind with crossed eyes that wiggled back and forth. (Additionally, when he was a teen, he developed schizophrenia, but that’s for another story…)

Because I was only 4 when he was born, I thought he was the cutest thing in the world! He was my BROTHER, after all. I delighted in feeding him formula through an eye dropper, trying to quell his kitten like hunger cries. I loved to rock him in the rocking chair, all bundled up and warm. He was a delight to me!

Curtis’s life in our family was as amazing as mine. Loving, adventurous, interesting, and accepting. Anywhere we went, I would explain to quizzical stares that he was born like that and he might look different, but inside he was the same as everyone else. In fact, he had an amazing sense of humor and would laugh at anything! He loved to eat peaches and watch Sesame Street. As I extoled my brother’s virtues, I could see their stares soften with understanding and acceptance.

The “gawking” role was reversed when I was a parent, and this moment is etched into my mind. Francis and I were at the zoo. He must have been about four years old because I remember pushing his sister, Dinora, in a stroller. Nearing a pen of vastly ugly pigs snorting mud, Francis exclaimed, “Look, mom! One of the animals got out of the cage.” I looked over and saw a horrified mother with a toddler in a stroller. A disfigured toddler, with a gaping mouth like Curtis used to have. And the child was snorting bubbles and drool. Taken aback and horrified by what Francis said, I took his hand and we walked over to the stroller. I smiled at the mom and told her what beautiful eyes her child had! I asked her if it would be okay if we touched him, and Francis and I leaned over and gently rubbed the child’s chubby little hands, which opened and closed in excitement. “He really seems to be enjoying the zoo!” I said, as we parted, smiling knowing little smiles at each other.

I then took Francis aside and explained that God makes all types of children, and “God don’t make junk!” His observational comment was an innocent one, (especially because he is legally blind,) but it provided an opportunity for a valuable lesson.

Every mother wants to be proud of her child, and to have others share in her positive feelings. Every child is a joy! Imagine yourself in the mother of a disabled child’s shoes. Have empathy for that mom. Join in her admiration of her child, and maybe you will also internalize the concept that “God don’t make junk!”


For more stories about Curtis’ childhood and our adventurous family, please, read my book. Here is a link:


The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane


Comments on: "“God Don’t Make Junk”" (50)

  1. Jackie Saulmon Ramirez said:

    No, God don’t make no junk! Precious indeed!

  2. God does not make junk.Amen

  3. Awesome. I think a lot of people want to approach others with disabilities, but are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. Bless your family!

  4. As a veteran teacher of 20 years, I admit to being pretty jaded. Every year, teachers get bombarded with “touching” stories about kids with disabilities or about people overcoming the odds. Our school district, our principals, our departments all give us photocopied stories and articles. I have to say though, that when your posts appear in my mailbox, I ALWAYS set aside time to read them and I usually end up at my desk blubbering like an idiot. They connect with the part of me that made me become a teacher in the first place.

    After reading this post, I was particularly moved and thought “I’ve got to read that book.” I thought I had purchased it before, but found out I hadn’t. So I bought it from iTunes, and tomorrow, while they’re explaining policies and procedures that I’ve heard 20 times before, I’ll be reading your book on my iPad. Thanks.

  5. I wish all of the women that had abortions realized this.

  6. It certainly was brave of you to approach that mom! I’m glad you were able to do that for her- and for Francis.

  7. Although God certainly does not make junk, it seems that we people have done a pretty good job of it.

  8. What a wonderful story. And yes, I too have used that phrase on more than one occasion. Too bad more people don’t know that about themselves.

  9. Everyone who adopts from China travels through Guangzhou to get the child’s immigrant visa. We met scores of families with children with a wide, wide variety of special needs. During our visits we talked of victory and hope for these kids. It takes a special kind of parent to voluntarily take on a special needs child. And sometimes the special need is not so obvious. God’s graciousness certainly is important for just the mental survival of those parents.

    Parenting is never easy. Children are complex. The world seeks to destroy our kids. Whenever I see a parent with a special needs child, I see a parent who is a hero.

    • I appreciate everything you say. In my family’s situation, however, we have had the experience of support and understanding for all 5 of my kiddos. Our world has not destroyed them, but has wonderfully accepted and encouraged them to be the great young adults and children that they are. We are soooooo lucky!

      • I did not mean to diminish your experience in any way – I apologize for coming across that way. I am more in the mindset of teenage girls and the temptations that surround them.

        We have had the same support and acceptance for our kids too. But it is never easy – no one said it would be! But it has great blessings and rewards too. I hate to think how it would be if our family did not come to be the way it is today!

        Thanks for a great post!

  10. Just want to tell you that I love your post! I am not able to comment on your post because now WordPress is having me log in for every comment. Bummer. I am trying to figure out how I can get this back to the way it is. Until then, I won’t be able to comment or even Like your posts but know that I do!


  11. Thank you for sharing this beautiful thought and life experience.

  12. Wow, I learned a lot from this story. It’s sometimes hard to see beyond the disabilities. With this blog, you’ve helped many see beyond them.

  13. I’ve nominated you for the Very Inspiring Bog Award! Details here: http://wp.me/p3amLP-50
    Thanks for sharing!

  14. I only wish little kids would have this kind of compassion for those that are just a little different.

  15. What a beautiful and touching story. You handled things beautifully! This definitely was a teaching moment for all. I have to agree, “God don’t make no junk.”

  16. This is beautiful! Many, many years ago when we shared the photo of our soon-to-arrive future daughter with her cleft lip and gaping grin, an elderly lady said, “Why would you adopt a child like that? Don’t you want a baby that’s perfect?” I replied that there are guarantees of perfect birth children: our son had club feet and our daughter had a red birthmark on her forehead. This baby has already been born and needs a family, and that is why we want to adopt her. All this lady needed was to be taught. Her heart instantly warmed to our new daughter, and she became one of her staunchest supporters and admirers! At 73 she proved that you can teach an old person new tricks!

    • Thank you for sharing. It is so true that people can accept differences if they are taught. I wish all of children could be taught…what a much more accepting world that would be!

  17. What a beautiful post! It’s a lesson to me to be more friendly to those with disabled children. Bless you! 🙂

  18. Your story reminded me of what happened when my son was a baby. He was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. He was only four months old when they started the surgeries. Not long after one, we were visiting my grandmother in a nursing facility. One of the residents took a look at Joseph and yelled (very loudly) “What did you do to him?”

    • Comments like that are heart breaking when they happen, even though the person didn’t know any better. Francis’ eyes wiggle back and forth (nystagmus) due to his vision impairment. People said all kinds of crazy things to him when he was little because of it. One day he actually told me he wished he could see them wiggling himself so he could figure out what was so interesting about him!

  19. How wonderful, the way you made that a special moment for both your family and theirs. When my older son was small but already using a wheelchair, I had to endure the comments of many people who asked intrusive questions or wanted to give me all kinds of “helpful” advice. When my younger son was in grade school, his autism prompted him to have meltdowns. People made a lot of wrong assumptions and said some hurtful things. It really is mainly ignorance and a lack of respect for privacy and boundaries. I have met people who have experience with children like mine, and the support and compassion are true blessings.

  20. So true! Beautiful story!

  21. Truly Wonderful…. I love this – what courage and love you must have!

  22. Wonderful story, and thought-provoking too. I’ve never known if it’s ‘ok’ to approach people and ask questions. It’s easier to pretend to not see and then discuss with my kids at home. You words make me want to be more brave. Beautiful post!

    • It IS easier to look away. I try not to. I try to smile when I do look. I do this in the general public with adults with disabilities as well. I will always smile and say something nonchalant. Without exception, I get a smile back.

  23. Thank you for this beautiful story! I was moved to tears, and am now following your blog. Thank you for following mine.

  24. I’m glad you shared this story!
    Here’s to Your Health

  25. This story really touched me! I have so much respect for families with such challenges and how they turn them around.

  26. What a wonderful post! Thank you.

  27. […] ‘Every child is a joy! Imagine yourself in the mother of a disabled child’s shoes. Have empathy for that mom. Join in her admiration of her child, and maybe you will also internalize the concept that “God don’t make junk!” […]

  28. This is a beautiful story with a lovely message. I have shared it on my blog in the post ‘How inclusive are you?’ http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-jH

  29. Beautiful story and great lesson. I love your title too; it is one I will remember!

  30. Thanks for your visit and for liking my blog which lead me here to this beautiful story. I found it very touching and loving that you approached the mother with your son. Compassion, care, and sensitivity are important lessons to teach our children.

  31. If only more people would teach their kids the same thing. There is still so much ignorance out there, and I can only hope that posts like this will help teach the world to be more accepting of differences.

  32. The wonderful thing about children’s exclamations when they see something different is that generally, it is void of that harsh judgment and it is me who cringes at my daughter’s non – filter. She only knows curiosity, and I wish it was easier to allow them that. I think you handled that situation wonderfully.

  33. What a beautiful story. Every child is precious. Thanks for sharing this very moving story.

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