Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Lord of the Flies" vs. "Lord of the Universe"

A few days ago, I left the girls and babes home with Chappy and took Caleb to get a hair cut. While he went in to Great Clips, I remained in the car for some alone time with a book. A beautiful day with a cool breeze, I rolled my windows down, curled my feet up under me, and began to read.
"Are you serious?" came a very loud man's voice. Startled by the booming sound, I jerked up and looked around to find a man standing near the front side of my car.
"Hi, how are you?" I asked, not knowing what he was talking about and not thinking about the magnetic signs posted to my van doors.
"Are you serious....are 92% of all babies with Down Syndrome aborted every year?" he repeated.
I closed my book, sat up straight and answered: "Actually, sir, the rate has increased. Due to earlier genetic testing among pregnant women, the percentage is now 94%."
"I just can't believe that. People who have Down Syndrome are like angels....they are so loving and kind. It is a shame, I tell you, this is a real shame".... he replied to me while looking closely at Hopey's picture on the car magnet. His voice cracked when he spoke and I quickly noted his sincere concern.
He shook his head and walked away to join his wife in the parked car waiting for him, and they drove away.
Ironically, when the stranger approached my car, I was finishing the book: "Lord of the Flies". Caleb's English class is reading it, and since I have never read the book, I decided to read along with his class so I could discuss the book with Caleb.
"Lord of the Flies" is a brutal book about young boys who are stranded on an island during a great war. At first, they are excited about the adventure a deserted island might afford them; however over time, the majority of the boys become savage-like and do unspeakable harm to one another. The author, through his intricate work of fiction, powerfully shows the debase character of all men....sin nature in it's purest, animalistic form.
I fell in love with the character, Piggy, in the book. Perfectly imperfect, Piggy is a bit overweight, cannot see without his glasses, and frequently wrestles with asthma. He is murdered in the book---a group of boys hate him because of his weaknesses---and so they kill him. I cried when Piggy died. It is only a book, I know, but I cried.
94% of all babies with Down Syndrome are aborted in the United States every year.
Approximately 60,000 unborn babies a year are murdered simply because they are not perfect.
I also cry as I type those statistics. Unlike a fictional tale about an imperfect boy named Piggy, the statistics represent real flesh and blood. Life. Little Hopes and Little Charlies.
"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside; then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, Oh God---You're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration---what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before You, the days of my life all prepared before I had even lived one day."
Psalm 139 (The Message)

Sunday, September 26, 2010


In addition to a football game, parent-teacher conferences, mountains of homework, violin lessons, guitar lessons, therapy for Charlie, a son running for Freshman Class President, and a State Senate Campaign to run.....
What do head lice, volunteer painters, and Malawi Africa have in common? The Hollis family week.

The Hollis family has had its first case, ever, of head
lice.....and it was a doozy! Natalie later reported she had heard people at school talking about lice, but did not know what it was until it found her. And boy, did it find her. After two days of picking through her hair with a fine toothed comb, washing everyone's hair in lice shampoo, and then washing every stitch of bed linens, towels, and clothing in the hottest water available on our machine, the nasty little critters are officially gone.

You would think head lice would be enough to deal with in a week, but Charlie didn't seem to get the memo. He awoke on Thursday morning with snot plastered from the tip top of his red hair clear down to his belly button. It was like green glue. I placed him, screaming, into a warm tub full of bubbles....the stuff would not budge. I had to use my fingernails to scrape off every square inch of the stuff while he wailed and cried, producing more and more of the goopy substance....not a pretty picture.

Not to be outdone by Charlie and Natalie, Lydia wandered into my room in the early morning hours Friday, leaned over my body, shook me and announced she didn't feel good through a very stuffed up nose that sounded a bit too much like Donald Duck. Before rolling over, telling her to get back into bed, and falling back asleep....I happened to look up at her face (which was right over mine) and notice her eyes looked funny. I willed myself to get out of the bed to take her temperature: 102.8.

In three days, Lydia somehow managed to go through 5 boxes of tissue and an entire case of orange Gatorade while Charlie painted my couch, floors and walls with the green goo that continued to flow from his nose. As of the writing of this post, it is still flowing, however a bit less.

Saturday morning, Chappy, Caleb, and Natalie packed up to do some volunteer work for Best Buddies of TN. Along with other volunteers, some disabled and others not, they painted the hallways of a high school in Antioch while I stayed home to manage the sick ward. They came home with the funniest stories and several new "special" friends. They got the biggest kick out of a guy named "Phillip" who continually marched the halls telling everyone how to paint while being fussed at by a female friend who would tell him to "get back to work"....following her orders, he would rush back to paint for a few minutes, but then put his paint brush down to "boss" happened over and over and over again. Caleb has laughed and laughed about it.

Last on the list, Chappy and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. We went to dinner at a favorite restaurant (Sperry's) and then caught a Michael McDonald concert while the big kids did some babysitting. McDonald performed some of his favorites with the Nashville Symphony, and it was fantastic! After all these years, he's still got it!
To top off the week, Chappy and I gathered the kids together and announced what our anniversary gift was going to be to one another. To celebrate 14 years of marriage, we have joined some close friends in building an orphanage/school on land that will be used to grow sugar cane in Malawi Africa (the sugar cane will be sold and used to help sustain the orphange). The orphange will house 50 homeless children, and the construction will begin early in November!!! I wish I could bottle up and send my joy to each of you. Our family is absolutely beside ourselves about this ongoing project, called "Project Pure Religion"....and cannot wait until our first journey to Malawi.
Head lice? High fevers? Snotty-nosed babies? Cleaning house like a wild woman? Yep, that was my week....there couldn't be a better week, however, to end with a HUGE surprise! Plenty of details about "Project Pure Religion" will definitely follow....

James 1:27:
"Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the Godless world."
(The Message)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What the Gospel Demands

My "Spiritual Comfort Zone" is easy to it comes....ORPHANS!!!

In addition, I have a passion to be a part of the special needs community because of my little "special ones" love them, accept them, and be a friend to them.

Last November, most of you will recall, our daughter Lydia (with help from her brother and sister, Caleb and Natalie, and some dear neighbor friends) raised close to a whopping $30,000.00 in seven days last Thanksgiving so our family could travel to the Ukraine to adopt a little orphan girl who has Down Syndrome. Can you begin to imagine just how much this was IN OUR COMFORT ZONE? It met both of our "Spiritual Comfort Zone" criteria....orphan and special needs.

We began to plan our trip, gather our documents, and spread the word. Then God, in his "way", halted everything. Chappy, ten years my senior, had aged out of the program. In order to make the adoption work, I would have had to enter the Ukraine under false pretenses....stating I was a single woman seeking adoption. Deal Breaker!!!

Soon after learning our adoption of Darya was not going to go through, our family learned that Hope was (and is) again having major issues with her heart. The "Love Balloon" (aneurysm) within her heart continues to grow and change it's shape. As a result, her prognosis is uncertain and our staying within the confines of the United States "just in case" suddenly became vitally important to us for Hope's sake.

We forwarded the money Lydia had raised for Darya's adoption to Reece's Rainbow to be used for another family to become her adoptive family. Without delay, the Fick family stepped forward; and remarkably, the only thing that had been preventing their adopting was money. God used Lydia and her faith to raise the money, but chose the Fick family to be the recipients of the honor of raising little Darya. Today, her adoption was finalized. Praise the Lord!!!

We could clearly see God's hand in all of this....and decided the issue was "timing", but felt certain God would send another child our way to adopt since all of our homestudy paperwork is complete.


Then, on a trip to the beach in June, Chappy and I quite randomly learn of our current Senator, Jack Johnson's, proposed bill (SB2517). If that bill had passed, educators in TN would have had the right to physically restrain and LOCK special education students, mentally/physically disabled students, in isolation rooms at school! Outraged doesn't adequately describe my feelings on this issue.

Chappy laughed: "The only way to change that kind of thinking in the TN Legislature is if you replace Jack Johnson and speak up for all the special needs kids."

I thought about his words for several minutes and then replied: "I'll do it!"

"Are you kidding me?" he asked.

"No, I don't think so." was my answer.

Forty days until the election, and I am running for State Senator, District 23.

OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE!!!! (Ok, I am screaming that to both the reader and God!)

OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE!!! (screaming again, just in case He didn't hear me the first time)

God put the brakes on our journey to the Ukraine so fast he left our heads spinning. We tried to fanangle and bedangle and do whatever we could do to get to the Ukraine to adopt Darya, but God just kept saying "no"and the rules just would not change (poor Chappy, no matter how hard he tried, could not take those two "too many" years off of his life).

On this State Senate race, God keeps saying: "Yes, Yes, Yes!" and I keep asking Him "Why, Why, Why aren't you stopping me?"

In my search for answers (and assurance), I have completed the book "Radical", and watched the above video this morning (and other videos on the same "Radical" topic) by David Platt. I received my answer; actually I already knew the answer, but wanted God to pound it in my head a few times. His Word? "Follow Me Out Of Your Comfort Zone!"

I have been told more than once, if elected, I will be placed on every committee that no one else wants to touch...and will be given a basement closet to set up as my office. Afterall, I am completely "non-establishment" as a write-in candidate, right? That alone will supposedly earn me some "hate". Imagine being told this a few too many times....sound like fun??? Not really. But I am reminded again: "Follow Me!"

All the more reason to stay on my knees....RADICALLY in love with my Creator, my Savior, and my Lord! Trusting Him. Faithing Him. And following Him. Winning or losing this election just doesn't matter. I am a winner because of the cross! And by the are you!

Friday, September 17, 2010

A One Week Snapshot:

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Natalie:

Natalie: "Mom, some girl socked me right in the eye on the school bus today".

Me: "Oh my word, you have a bruise! Did you do something to provoke the little girl? Were you arguing?"

Natalie: "No mom, I was just being her friend, and then she punched me. I never saw it coming."

Me: "Mr. Principal, I don't know what happened, but Natalie was punched on the bus and says she wasn't fighting or arguing with the girl that punched her."

Principal to Natalie: "Natalie, did you do anything to provoke the girl who hit you?"

Natalie: "No, I was just being her friend."

Principal to girl: "Did you punch Natalie in the eye?"

Girl: "Yes."

Principal to girl: "Why would you do that?"

Girl: "She was flipping me with silly bands."

Principal to Natalie: "Did you flip her with silly bands?"

Natalie: "Yes, but I thought she liked the game."

Me to Natalie: "Couldn't you read the girl's face and tell she wasn't enjoying being flipped with silly bands?"

Natalie: "Can you teach me how to read faces so I don't get punched again, because I only know how to read books."

Charlie and an extra chromosome:

Lydia, Charlie, and I meet some good friends for lunch this week. Charlie was sleepy after playing all morning and had a full tummy, so I decided to let him sit in a stroller while I enjoyed visiting with our friends (hoping little red-head would take a nap). After a while, I noticed he wasn't sleeping but seemed content to play with his hands. It wasn't until I put him in his carseat that I noticed at some point during lunch he had reached into his diaper, pulled out a "poo poo ball" and rolled it up into his hand to squish. Content? Yep.....content and playing with a "poo ball" during lunch. I am sure there are LISTS of health codes against that!!!

Hope, an extra chromosome and a heart defect:

I picked Hope up from preschool today and learned she had not wanted to eat any food or drink any liquids all day no matter how much the teachers attempted to coax her. In addition, her teachers said she plopped herself on the ground during playground time and wouldn't play. After hearing the report, I scooped the little bundle up and made a quick stop by McDonald's for some famous french fries to tempt the hungry one to eat. McDonald's always works, but not today. Upon entering the house, I quickly turned on Elmo and wrapped her up in a blanket to cuddle on the couch. Hope not only shunned McDonald's, but she also shunned her favorite red monster. My sweet girl has no words yet, so she is unable to communicate her feelings to me.....therefore, I am left to fret and worry...which I have done since 12:30 this afternoon. "Could it be her heart?" I fear. "No, she is probably catching a cold or something", I quickly decide, but then am quickly checked by my own heart and emotions: "What if?" This will be another sleepless night......

Life with Special Needs Kids can be summed up with four words:
1. Never
2. A
3. Dull
4. Moment

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In my quest to read classic novels this year, I have just completed "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte. The book is a rare gem loaded with colorful characters that rivet the reader and give cause to consider several relevant spiritual matters. I cheered for Jane, an orphan, throughout the entire book, yet my mind was thrown into a tug-of-war as I found myself wanting her to remain true to her faith while at the same time desiring her to have a taste of real living.

I came away with this:

If I had been placed in Jane's poisition, I am certain I would never have achieved the level of integrity that she maintained. Her love for "right" transcended her every action, word, and deed though emotionally, she often struggled. Jane's very nature was to stand up and speak out; however, she learned, through much practice, to honor God with her actions through love, humility, servanthood, patience, kindness, and self-control.

Unlike the great Jane Eyre, I am not a heroic fictional character. Truthfully, I have more faults than could possibly be listed on a blog page, and too often, my emotional struggle leads to sin. My worst struggle? selfishness. Daily, I have to consciously slaughter the evil enemy of "It's All About Me" and remind myself that I am but a tool to be used by the Almighty to help others....a servant. Most often, the enemy wins and I fail.

While you might pick up this book for wonderful entertainment, be warned it will stick the knife of conviction in your back when you least expect it. I dare say, there is not a female alive who could read this book and not compare herself to Jane and then desire to strive to be more like her.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hope's birthday began with a great big celebration with her pre-school buddies!

The cake was a big hit!

Hope LOVES all of her teachers
and friends at
Moore Elementary School!

Next it was time to go home and ride the battery operated motorcycle Caleb bought for her.....

And get a wagon ride from Lydia.....

Followed by dinner at her very favorite restaurant: "Macaroni Grille" (Perhaps the best Mac 'N Cheese in town!)

Then to top off the day.....plenty of lovin' from the fam:

Happy 5th Birthday to the sweetest girl in the whole world!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Five Years of Hope---words from Caleb, Lydia, and Natalie

Five years ago, I was in a hospital room delivering baby Hope. She and I both came dangerously close to death in those early morning hours; and following her birth, I was told I could expect to touch her and hold for only a few days....a month or two at most. How incredible it was to be told our baby was expected to die. Frightened beyond belief, I trembled each time I looked at Hope and hated myself for being afraid of my own flesh and blood. After a month in NICU, Chappy and I walked out the doors of Vanderbilt Hospital and took Hopey home; upon leaving, we were again warned she could die suddenly without warning: "Just be prepared" were the only words given to console. Throughout the terror-filled nights that followed, I chose to forgo sleep in order to watch my baby's every breath. I was determined to be by her side when she crossed into the heavenlies to meet her Creator, the Lover of her soul. Thinking back, I remember praying aloud with tears dropping from my face onto her bundled up sleeping body: "Lord, are you going to take her tonight? Please, won't You give me just one more day?" Ironically, I still pray that same prayer sometimes now....five years later. (Thank you so much, Lord, for five years!)

The first year of Hope's life marked the most difficult of my life; but finally, after seeing that Hope was determined to beat the odds, the doctors relieved me when they exclaimed: "Hope is obviously going to follow her own rules, so we aren't going to give you any further predictions about her life expectancy." (smile) That has proven to be Hopey's motto. For anyone who really knows our girl (Moore Elementary, I am especially talking to you).....she definitely marches to the beat of her very own drum. Ha! Ha! Head held high, that girl rallies those short little legs into high gear and marches (expecting everyone in her path to march too!)

Following a stomach surgery, eye surgery, three open-heart surgeries, and an aneurysm that continues to grow in Hope's heart, we find ourselves on the eve of celebrating our miracle girls' fifth birthday. My heart is full. I will post pictures of her birthday celebration tomorrow, but this evening, in anticipation of tomorrow, Caleb, Lydia, and Natalie have asked to honor Hope by sharing their hearts about baby sis:

From Caleb (big brother):


The light of my world.

The strongest person I know.

The most pure and innocent little heart ever created.

You are my girl; no one on earth will ever take your place in my heart.

The spot you hold with me is too special.

You are the primary reason I fight and do my best in all aspects of life.

It is hard for me to believe you are turning 5; you are and will always be,

my little "inspiration". Happy Birthday. I love you!

From Lydia:


You might have Down Syndrome, but you are a beautiful angel to me. If you had not come into my life, I am afraid I would have become a selfish person who was not humble at all. You have taught me so much, and you are just a little girl. It is amazing. I cannot describe how much I love you. It is truly something crazy. People may stare at you and make snappy comments from time to time, but those people just need someone like you in their lives. You could teach them about blessings. Truly Jesus didn't make a mistake when He made you. I am blessed to be called your sister, and I love you Hope! Happy Happy Birthday to you.

From Natalie:


Ever since you came into the world, you have been happy. I don't care if you have Down Syndrome, you are a sister who I adore. To me, there is nothing wrong with you. Without you, I don't know what my life would be. You are an angel. You are a blessing to me. I love you Hope with all of me!

And to close:
From a momma and daddy who happen to be madly and insanely in love with a feisty little green-eyed girl in pig-tails who has the brightest smile in spite of the extra-chromosome that makes life a bit difficult to manage: "You keep right on marching sweet girl! We will plan to celebrate number six, same time next year!"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Love never gives cares more for others than for self."

"Love doesn't want what it doesn't have."

"Love doesn't strut or have a swelled head; it doesn't force itself on others."

Love doesn't fly off the handle or keep score of the sins of others."

"Doesn't revel when others grovel"

"But takes pleasure in the flowering of truth."

"And it does trust God always."

"Love looks for the best and never looks back."

"Love keeps going....

to the end."

Have You Loved Someone Today????

(From: "The Message"---1 Corinthians 13)