Celebrating Motherhood: The Pilafas Story

Michelle and her husband, Gary, capture a family picture with their sons Jonathan, Joshua, AJ, and Caleb this past Christmas. When thinking about their journey, Michelle says, "When our newborn son was placed in my arms, I did not know that the years ahead would include hardship and disability for two of the boys. I would watch stitch after stitch being dropped in my knitted world where well-intended expectations were torn out and replaced with God's sovereign will."
AJ, Joshua, Caleb, and Jonathan enjoying the beach on vacation. The brothers have bonded and grown each other in ways only God could have orchestrated. Michelle says, "The scope and witness of my children's lives have reached deeper than I would ever have imagined in their young years. Their brothers have learned a depth of compassion, support, and loyalty that is immeasurable."
The Pilafas boys all participate in the annual Penguin Project performance—coming together as actors and mentor—putting their incredible abilities on display!
Joshua and AJ have tackled their challenges head on, becoming incredible young men. Michelle looks back on their growth saying, "As these boys have grown to men, I continue to walk with them on their journey, now helping with shaving rather than tying shoes."
The Pilafas family embodies joy and grace. Michelle reflects saying, "I delight that all His children are fearfully and wonderfully made and celebrate the future and purpose He has created for exceptional children in His plan."

The Knitter’s Daughter

A story of motherhood by Michelle Pilafas

My mother was an incredible knitter. She could take two long needles, a skein of yarn, and with skillful hands, birth creations to warm bodies, decorate teddy bears, and adorn Christmas trees. Although I did not acquire this artisan gene from my mother, I am encouraged that my heavenly Father is the Master Knitter, fearfully and wonderfully creating all His children as His image bearers. 

We have been blessed with four amazing sons when doctors told us we would have none. With the birth of our first son, it was evident God had a different plan for our family. When our newborn son was placed in my arms, I did not know that the years ahead would include hardship and disability for two of the boys. I would watch stitch after stitch being dropped in my knitted world where well-intended expectations were torn out and replaced with God’s sovereign will.

I am further down my motherhood journey now and can look back and treasure God’s design in our family story. With my special needs sons, I have celebrated the joys of medals won through Special Olympics, tuxes adorned for proms, Broadway musicals performed, and even a Homecoming crown coronation. As these boys have grown to men, I continue to walk with them on their journey, now helping with shaving rather than tying shoes. I experience the waves of milestones and disappointments—excited for graduations, yet remiss as friends leave for college and work that will not be realized in their plan. I earnestly pray for God’s revelation and provision for our children’s future, knowing He is the author of their lives promising to prosper them long after I return home to Him.

Although this life is much different than I had imagined, God has replaced my limited hopes with His far-reaching dreams. The scope and witness of my children’s lives have reached deeper than I would ever have imagined in their young years. Their brothers have learned a depth of compassion, support, and loyalty that is immeasurable. The people I have met in the “knitting circle” of life who are experiencing similar situations have created a close, supportive, and inclusive community. As these families go through their journeys together, our church has been a foundation of love and inclusion—lifting the spirits of all special needs families by being a radically inclusive and loving church.

I wait with anticipation and watch with faith and hope as My Father through Christ continues to craft the story of my family. My heart and eyes look to Him as row after row, day after day, He continues His handiwork. I delight that all His children are fearfully and wonderfully made and celebrate the future and purpose He has created for exceptional children in His plan.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10


Michelle and her family are involved in Special Friends and Section 106B.

Celebrate Mom at Willow Creek this weekend, May 12/13! Learn more here.

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