Brady Murray
May 13, 2024

Crystal Paine on Stewardship, Faith, and Advocating for a Child with Down Syndrome

Crystal Paine is a remarkable woman who wears many hats - she's a wife, mother of six, New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, and a passionate advocate for her son David, who has Down syndrome. Her journey is one of faith, love, and intentional living that has inspired countless people around the world.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Crystal on my podcast, Conquering Your Clownfish. Crystal shared her family's story of fostering and adopting David and how this experience has transformed their lives. Her insights on stewardship, faith, and advocating for a child with disabilities are profound and thought-provoking. 

Throughout our conversation, it became clear that these three areas are deeply interconnected in Crystal's life, each one supporting and enriching the others. Let's dive deeper into how Crystal's approach to stewardship has enabled her to provide well for her family, especially her son David.

Stewardship: Providing for Family Through Wise Financial Decisions

Crystal's commitment to financial stewardship has been a cornerstone of her ability to provide well for her family, especially her son David, who has Down syndrome. Growing up in a household that valued living debt-free and within one's means, Crystal learned early on the importance of making wise financial decisions. These lessons have guided her and her husband Jesse as they've built their life together.

One key way Crystal and Jesse have practiced good stewardship is by living simply and being intentional with their spending. By making small, daily choices to be frugal, they've been able to save money and allocate their resources towards their true priorities.

For Crystal and Jesse, one of those priorities has been creating a stable and nurturing home for their children, including David. When David first came into their lives as a foster child, he had significant medical needs that required frequent doctor's visits, therapies, and even surgeries. Because Crystal and Jesse had built a strong financial foundation, they were able to embrace the additional expenses of caring for David without added stress.

Their financial stability has allowed them to say "yes" to the things David needs to thrive, like high-quality medical care, specialized equipment, and consistent therapy. It has also given them the flexibility to be present for David in ways that would be difficult if they were living paycheck-to-paycheck. Crystal can take David to his many appointments without worrying about missing work, and Jesse was able to leave his law career to be more available for family needs.

But Crystal is quick to point out that providing well for a family isn't just about having enough money. It's also about investing time and energy into relationships and creating a home environment of love and support. Because Crystal and Jesse have been intentional about their financial choices, they have more bandwidth to pour into their children emotionally and be the kind of parents they want to be.

Ultimately, Crystal sees financial stewardship as a means to an end - and that end is generosity. By living simply and spending wisely, she and Jesse have been able to give generously not just to their own family but also to their community and the causes they care about. They view their resources not as something to be hoarded but as a tool to bless others and make a positive difference in the world.

In this way, Crystal's approach to stewardship is about so much more than just financial security. It's a way of living out her values and creating a life of purpose and impact. And it's a powerful example of how the choices we make with our money can ripple out to touch countless lives, starting with those closest to us.

Faith: Trusting in God's Plan

Crystal's journey of fostering and adopting David is a powerful testament to her deep faith and trust in God's plan. When she and her husband Jesse first began fostering, they did so with open hearts and a desire to provide love and stability to children in need. However, they had no intention of adopting.

But God had other plans. When the opportunity arose to adopt David, Crystal and Jesse found themselves at a crossroads. They could have easily said no, citing the many unknowns and challenges that lay ahead. But instead, they chose to listen to the stirring in their hearts, the sense that David was meant to be a part of their family forever.

This decision required a massive leap of faith. Adopting a child with special abilities meant stepping into a world of uncertainty, one filled with doctor's appointments, therapies, and potential lifelong care. It meant setting aside their own plans and expectations for what their family would look like and embracing a new, uncharted path.

For Crystal, this leap of faith was rooted in her deep belief that God's plans are always good, even when they don't make sense from a human perspective. She trusted that if God were calling them to adopt David, He would also equip them with the strength, wisdom, and resources they needed to care for him well.

That's not to say it has been an easy journey. Crystal candidly admits that there are moments when the weight of responsibility feels heavy when she worries about David's future and what it will mean for their family. In those moments, it's easy to get caught up in the "what-ifs" and worst-case scenarios.

But Crystal has learned to combat those fears by choosing to live in the present and trust God one day at a time. She recognizes that worrying about the future only robs her of the joy and beauty of the current moment. Instead of getting bogged down in hypotheticals, she focuses on loving David well today, celebrating his progress, and delighting in his unique personality.

This daily choice to trust God and live in the present is a profound act of faith. It requires surrendering control and acknowledging that while we can make our plans, it is ultimately God who directs our steps. By loosening her grip on her own expectations and timelines, Crystal has found freedom and peace, even amidst the challenges.

Moreover, Crystal's faith journey with David has taught her to view life's surprises not as interruptions but as divine interventions. She sees how God has used David to stretch her family in beautiful ways, teaching them profound lessons about love, acceptance, and what truly matters. Through David, they have experienced the joy of watching a child defy the odds, the privilege of being a voice for the vulnerable, and the gift of loving without limits.

Advocating: Seeing the Value in Every Person

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of Crystal's story is how fiercely she advocates for David and others with disabilities. Through David, the Paine family has learned to look beyond awkwardness and discomfort to see the inherent value in every human being.

Crystal shares how, initially, interacting with David felt awkward because he looked different and made interesting noises. But as they spent more time with him, they discovered his determination, joy, and ability to love unconditionally. Now, Crystal's children have become passionate advocates for people with disabilities, always excited to meet others with Down syndrome and eager to educate their peers.

The key, Crystal says, is to push through the awkwardness and keep showing up. Even if someone with a special ability doesn't make eye contact or verbally respond, they are still paying attention and bonding with you. By simply looking at them with love, saying hello, or complimenting their outfit, you can speak value into their life and show them that they matter.

Shifting Perspectives

Crystal's story is a beautiful reminder of the power we each hold to make a difference in this world. By being good stewards of our resources, trusting in a higher plan, and advocating for those who are often overlooked, we can create a society that celebrates the unique gifts of every individual.

So the next time you encounter someone with a special ability, challenge yourself to push through any discomfort and engage with them genuinely. Look into their eyes with love, speak value into their life, and be open to learning from them. Underneath the awkwardness, underneath the disability, exists a superpower – a special ability and it's up to us to take the time to discover it.

Let us all strive to live more intentionally, love more deeply, and advocate more fiercely for those around us. In doing so, we might just find that we need people with disabilities far more than they need us. They have the power to transform hearts, shift perspectives, and teach us what it means to truly love without limits.

Thank you for supporting Conquering Your Clownfish. If you are interested in learning more about us and what we do, please visit our website at 

If you would like to learn more about Crystal, please visit


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