Miyerkules, Hulyo 27, 2011

Remembering "Clarisse Bead Jewelry"

Clarissa loves putting accessories on her paintings.

When my husband took Clarissa and me on a shopping trip
to Price Smart in 2002, he bought her a bead starter kit. It
had a variety of colorful glass beads, elastic strings, pins,
crowns and locks. Making bracelets will be good for her motor
skills, I thought. When we got home, we excitedly rushed
to our bedroom and opened the transparent plastic orga-
nizer, checking out the colorful beads we had just purchased.

Clarissa and I quickly learned to make a bracelet and a pair
of earrings. People praised our work and it inspired us to
make more. We started displaying them in my boutique in
Greenhills Theater Mall and they sold like the proverbial
“hot cakes.”

Eventually, I developed more sophisticated bracelets and
left the simple bracelets for Clarissa to do. My men’s clothing
boutique evolved into a bead jewelry store. I started
traveling abroad to find sources for more beads. By God’s
grace, my business grew and my bracelets were being sold
abroad. My store prospered and I knew that it was God
blessing me.

The story about how our bead jewelry business
had come about was featured in newspapers and local
magazines. We received invitations to guest on prime time
TV shows. Because of Clarissa, more and more people got
to know of my creations, and the abundant financial blessings
Remembering Clarisse Beads
from our business enabled me to get out of credit card
debt. Simply by wearing the bracelets, I find I am given
opportunities to share a beautiful story about a special
child who showed me a special talent and helped me get out
of debt.

Clarissa loves wearing necklaces and rings.
I hate to think that some might say all this happened
because Clarissa brought “luck” to me. God is the source of
our blessings, not Clarissa. He is our ultimate provider. The
Bible says we are to “put [our] hope in God, who richly
provides us with everything for our enjoyment,” 1 Timothy
6:17. I believe God blessed my business because He wanted
to use our story to inspire other people.

Clarissa and I no longer make bead jewelry but perhaps she never forgets those days when we would bond together through making bracelets.  I guess, this is the reason why she always puts accessories in her art works.

Thank you Lord for blessing us through our daughter Clarissa.

Lunes, Hulyo 25, 2011


Children spell love with the letters T-I-M-E, and the more time you spend with your child, the more he or she will feel loved. Most of us parents prefer doing what we want to do to doing what our children want to do. With Clarissa, I learned to give up what I loved to do most — doing business.
When I quit working, I realized that it was the best
decision I’d ever made for my family. For a while I thought that home-schooling her would mean letting go of all my dreams, but God helped me see beyond that. I discovered a certain kind of joy that I could never experience from doing business.
Investing time for our child entails sacrifice,
but God rewards us for every effort we make for our

We must view time as an investment. Since children with
special needs require more patience and attention, we are
to make them our priority over our work and our activities.
Quality time means giving your child undivided attention.
It doesn’t mean just sitting beside each other on the couch
and watching television together, although there
may be times when you do just that. It means looking at
each other, and talking. It means taking your child for a
walk in the park or going out to eat together. Your undivided
attention is a powerful communication of love.

Since deciding to pull Clarissa out of school and tutor her myself,
I have been learning how to spend quality time with her. I
now spend the time teaching her, playing,
taking a walk with her in the park, and many times praying
with her. I give her my undivided attention. When it’s time
for me to do my chores or attend Bible study and Praying
Wife sessions at church, I take her with me. She also helps
me do the groceries so even grocery-shopping has become
a learning experience for her.

Bathing Clarissa is also one way of spending quality time
together. Taking a shower with her has always been fun; it’s
also my way of teaching her how to bathe properly. Eating
meals together is her favorite activity. She loves to eat with
me, and I often take her out for lunch or have a special
snack with her every Friday. Friday is often our movie day
too. We go to the movies just by ourselves and we love to
eat popcorn while watching.

Of course, our favorite activity is painting. I realized that
Clarissa enjoys painting with me because
she has all my attention and we interact closely. It’s
amazing how she understands the enjoyment of our time
together. It’s also humbling that she is the better artist!

This is not like me. I used to be so busy with work; just “hanging out” and doing nothing was not “my kind of thing.” I was a businesswoman! I loved helping to provide for my family. But when I came
to know the Lord, He changed me and transformed my life. And through my daughter Clarissa, He taught me many lessons on how to live and enjoy life.

Biyernes, Hulyo 22, 2011

Philippine Daily Inquirer
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The special child as a special blessing
by Rowena C. Burgos

Philippines - A few hours after MALU TIONGSON-Ortiz gave birth to Clarissa in 1987, a pediatrician told her that the child had Down Syndrome. Her physical features such as low-set and deformed ears, slanted eyes, small nose, low nasal bridge and straight crease on her palm, all pointed to such a conclusion, the doctor said.
Down Syndrome, also called Trisomy 21, is a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays in the way a child develops, both mentally and physically. The condition was discovered by Dr. John Langdon Down, after whom it has been named.
Ortiz wished the doctor was mistaken. "I questioned God over and over. Why me, Lord? What have I done to deserve this?" She then asked a doctor to do a battery of tests on Clarissa. A week later, the results confirmed Clarissa's condition. "It was a relief in a way because I realized I had to start somewhere," Ortiz says.
Ortiz now strongly believes "God had a purpose for her in our lives."
The youngest in a brood of three, Clarissa is multi-handicapped. She was diagnosed to have moderate to severe mental retardation due to her inability to hear. Her left ear is severely to profoundly deaf, while her right ear is moderately to severely deaf. She is unable to speak.
She was also born with a left leg that is two inches shorter than her right leg, causing her hip to hurt when walking for a long time. Her muscles and ligaments in her left foot have stiffened permanently in a tiptoe position.
According to a psychiatrist, Clarissa's mood swings and occasional bursts of rage are due to a condition called bipolar (a mood disorder).
Despite Clarissa's condition, her mother has learned many lessons from her. "While I was teaching her ABC's and 123's, she was teaching me the greater things in life-unconditional love, patience, perseverance, contentment and simplicity," Ortiz says. "Because of her, I was drawn closer to God. She is one of God's greatest gifts to our family."

After Clarissa finished Special Education, she started homeschooling in 2005. "She progressed a lot. She's exposed to regular and special needs kids of all ages. The regular kids, in turn, learn how to deal with children with special needs. It works both ways," Ortiz says. "Through homeschooling, I discovered her talent in visual arts."
Clarissa's subjects are her mother, father and two brothers, Carlo, who's working for a car company, and Paulo, a law student. "Drawing has been her way of communicating with us," Ortiz says.
Her oil pastels and acrylic paintings feature people with big ears and open mouths. "That's her way of expressing she can't speak or hear," Ortiz says.
Sign language, "scrapbooking," independent living and "more adult" activities like going to the grocery are now part of Clarissa's homeschooling. But what she loves most are watching concerts and plays, aerobics, ballroom dancing and walking in the park.
For Ortiz, homeschooling is an investment for Clarissa's future. "We surely do not want to spend the rest of our lives with an ill-mannered, selfish, skill-less, unhappy, disabled adult. I may not be with Clarissa all her life so I do not want her to become a burden to her siblings. Homeschooling has made me realize that I am the best teacher for her."
There are numerous benefits for home-educated children with special needs, Ortiz adds. "My daughter learned at her own pace and her needs were met properly. She also has the opportunity for successful learning experiences which motivate her to keep on trying when she encounters difficult concepts," she says. "We were able to instill our own personal and spiritual values into our teaching. Our time was flexible and there was no wasted learning time. Instruction was individualized. She had quantity time with our family and less time spent away from home."
Book launch

Ortiz, an interior designer, has stopped working to be a full-time mom. A board member of the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, she does family and spiritual counseling. At times, she accepts design projects and teaches art classes with friends Emy Dee and Marissa Yang.
Ortiz's book, "Embracing God's Purpose for My Special Child," was launched at the Manila International Book Fair in Mall of Asia.
Published by OMF Literature Inc., the book features Clarissa and other inspirational stories of parents with special children, "biblical parenting," adolescence and sexuality, medical and health issues and planning for special children.
"Special children are like angels sent by God to us for a special mission. Clarissa is God's instrument for me and Claro to mold our characters and make us better people. Through her, God taught me to be the mom I never thought I could ever be," Ortiz says.
For more info on the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, call Malu Tiongson-Ortiz at 0917-8966258; e-mail clarissebeads@yahoo.com.

Clarissa Meets Jesus

Jesus called the children and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."  Luke 18:16

How do we know if our children with special needs know the Lord?  I often wondered how I can teach my daughter Clarissa about God.  Because it is our ultimate responsibility to bring our children to the Lord, they need to hear about "the Good News"--- that Jesus died on the cross for all.

But how can parents teach a child with Down syndrome?  And, in Clarissa's case, a daughter who happens to be severely to profoundly hearing impaired?  Elizabeth George, author of "A Mom after God's own Heart," says we should read to our children the stories about Jesus, His miracles, His teachings, His birth, His death and Resurrection.  I have read Bible stories to Clarissa many times and led her to the prayer of salvation.  Whether she understands these things fully or not, I felt that I need to do this constantly and then leave the result to God.

I also taught Clarissa to pray and to develop the habit.  It started when my husband Claro would always remind us to pray before meals.  Since then, praying before meals has become a habit of hers.  Also, when I get on my knees to pray at night, Clarissa will automatically face me and put her hands together, bow her head and join me in prayer.  At the end of our prayer, she makes the lip action of "Amen."

Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

 If you are not sure if your child has Jesus in her heart, you may lead your child to this simple prayer:

     "Lord Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner and I need you.  Forgive me for sinning against you.  I now surrender my life and open my heart and invite you to come and be my Lord and Savior.  Teach me to follow You and obey You.  Thank you for the gift of eternal life.  Amen.  

How do I know if Clarissa has Jesus in her heart?  When Clarissa started making portraits in acrylic last year (2010), many people were amazed to see that her paintings are somewhat similar to our Lord Jesus Christ.  Could it be that my daughter can see Jesus?  Whether she does or not, I have peace that Jesus lives in her heart.

Huwebes, Hulyo 14, 2011

Keep Giving and God Will Keep Pouring

I have read the story "The Widow's Oil," written in 2 Kings 4:1-7 about a dozen times but after watching the video of Crown Financial Ministry and listening to the "Grapes & Giants" series of Elevation church, I learned so many insights, seeing the story from different perspectives.  We may associate this story with our finances but God also made me see it in from a different view.

Elisha asked the widow what she has and she said "Nothing... except a little oil!"  Sometimes, we think we don't have enough strength or patience to give to our child with special needs.  We are exhausted and discouraged when we see very little progress.  But as God miraculously poured oil to many jars from a single jar of oil to meet the needs of the widow, I realize that we need to keep believing that God will sustain us.  He multiplies the love we have for our children by blessing us with a special kind of joy, encouraging us to keep running the race and be that parent God has called us to be.

When I quit working to be a hands-on-Mom to Clarissa, I see the hand of God, constantly enabling me to  love unconditionally.  He gives me the power to overcome disappointment and discouragement.  As we keep giving love and patience to our children with special needs, God keeps pouring His grace upon us.  

To God be all the glory and praise!

Lunes, Hulyo 11, 2011

Foreword by Peter & Deonna Tanchi, CCF

How should parents respond to the reality that they have a
child with Down syndrome? What are the issues that they will
face and how do they raise their children to reach their full
potential so as to accomplish God’s purpose for their lives?
These are the questions that Malu so honestly addresses in
her book as she shares her own journey in having and raising
her daughter Clarissa, a young adult with Down syndrome.
Her firm faith in God and His promises gives this book a
refreshing and positive perspective on receiving and raising
a child with special needs. Instead of viewing these children
as “mistakes,” Malu repeatedly and convincingly communicates
that they are to be embraced as a special blessing from
God — given to special parents to accomplish His special
purposes. And the stories she shares throughout the book
about other families of children with Down syndrome bring
hope. Truly, as Malu shows through their experiences and
her own experiences, God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11 is
for all who will believe it. “For I know the plans I have for
you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity,
to give you a future and a hope,” (NASB).
It is for the above reasons that this is a “must read” book
for all families of children with Down syndrome. We believe it
will be helpful too to other parents of children with special needs,
and hope it will be widely read by all who share a parent’s
concern for young people challenged by disability.

Peter and Deonna Tan-Chi
Christ’s Commission Fellowship

Linggo, Hulyo 10, 2011

Blessing or Burden?

Collaborative paintings of Clarissa & Malu
24" x 32"  Medium: Acrylic
Some people think that having a child with special needs is a burden.  They require extra care, more medical expenses, special school, therapy... unconditional love, perseverance and a lot of patience.  This is true in a sense but I thank the Lord for helping me overcome this mindset.  Through Clarissa, He teaches me so many lessons in life that I will probably never learn any other way.  And because I've learned to be grateful to God, despite the difficulties of raising a child with Down syndrome, hearing impaired, mute, physically handicapped and bipolar, He has blessed us with a special gift, a gift that enables us to enjoy each other. The duty of being a hands-on-Mom has become more fun than ever because we both love to paint.

The joy Clarissa brings to me and my family far outweighs the burden and the hardships we experience in raising her.  She is certainly a blessing to us.

Thank you Lord for choosing me to be her Mom!

Sabado, Hulyo 9, 2011

Mommy Malu

I pulled out a picture of me from our trip to Fontana at Clark, Pampanga last year and asked my daughter, Clarissa, to draw the face while I do the rest of the body.  We both painted it and as always, I enhanced it, shaded it, highlighted it, and cleaned it.  So this is how Clarissa sees me... :-)

Like coffee and cream, we are an inseparable team.  I can't draw the way she does and she can't enhance it the way I do.  Thank you Lord for giving us a gift that we can use to bond with each other.  :-)

Huwebes, Hulyo 7, 2011


Last month, I received a text message from my daughter’s art teacher, Nick Calma, informing me that he cannot accommodate Clarissa in his art class indefinitely.  She has not had art class since the start of summer to give way to her teacher's students.  This saddened me and got me worried about my daughter’s career as an artist.

I am reminded about the blind man written in John 9:3 when Jesus replied, “…this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”  

Clarissa’s special gift in art is truly from God.  Through this talent, God’s work is displayed in her life, helping people believe that anything is possible with Him.  Therefore, God reminds me through the above verse that He will display His miracles in my daughter’s life.  Clarissa will continue to paint even if she has to stop attending art lessons.

Nevertheless, we are forever grateful to teacher Nick who had been very patient in teaching Clarissa.  Thank you for all the free lessons and the love and care you showed her.  She will miss you Teacher Nick!

Amazingly, God honed my gift also in painting as I try to teach my daughter and work with her at home.  Her work have improved dramatically!  God blessed her hands to make beautiful portraits and He blessed my hands to enhance her works, not for us to boast about our abilities for we recognize that God deserves the credit, but for us to tell the world what a wonderful and amazing God we have. 

To God be all the glory and praise!