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Remembering John Mark Stallings

I look at news on the Internet every day and am angry, frustrated and saddened that I missed this story.

On August 2, 2008, John Mark Stallings died. He was the son of former Alabama head coach Gene Stallings. John also had Down Syndrome and lived 46 years.

I thought of John recently when it was announced that Sarah Palin’s youngest child had Down Syndrome. So, curious to see what John was up to these days, I googled him.

If only our country weren’t so obsessed with TomKat, Brangelina, Lindsay Lohan’s sexual proclivities or other mundane non-news items, maybe I wouldn’t have missed this.

I never met John, but seeing him on television brought tears to my eyes. I’ll never forget the commercial where it shows him making a bracelet for Coach Stallings (though I’m 35, I don’t feel comfortable referring to the coach as “Gene”).

As I ponder John, it makes me think that God uses the most unlikely people to touch our lives and inspire us. Yes, we live in a sin-filled world, but God does not make mistakes. While some advocate the aborting of Down Syndrome children, God was able to use John to touch lives. Sometimes I think that those with mental disabilities know far more than what we give them credit for. Perhaps somewhere in their mind, in a place where none of us can ever detect, God has conversations with them and whispers that they are part of His plan to bring joy and encouragement to the lives of those who so desperately need it.

May the Lord bless you, John. I look forward someday in heaven to finally getting to meet you.

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