Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dr. B (Part 3)

Dr. B. spent only a few minutes describing his thoughts on Down Syndrome, but Chappy and I have spent days discussing those memorable moments.

The doctor's cowboy hat now in hiding, Dr. B. the grandfather to Seth, a little boy bearing an extra chromosome, softly spoke: "I have spent countless hours considering how Down Syndrome fits into Evolutionary thought" , hand now on chin and eyes looking away as if trying to recall specific hypotheses he had drafted in a mental list now tucked away, he explained: "according to Evolution, only the strong survive....and obviously, since Down Syndrome has been among us for many, many years, there must be a reason."

Chappy and I wanted to interrupt this larger-than-life man, to debate Evolution vs Creationism; however, we bit our tongues and listened intently as he continuted:

"I have actually written about this very subject; in fact, one of the most read articles I have ever written concerned Evolution and Down Syndrome. While I am still unsure on the subject, the best I can figure is that Nature itself somehow knows there is a significant need of love for all humanity. Our survival depends on it. In my opinion, individuals with Down Syndrome exhibit the purest form of love in the world, so Nature routinely selects human beings with Down Syndrome to survive because the human race needs them. There was a time when I was part of the group that believed children pre-diagnosed in the womb with Down Syndrome should be aborted, but I don't believe that way anymore. I now believe it is the duty of doctors to tell expectant moms not only the risks associated with raising a child with Down Syndrome, but also the benefits and rewards. I now see they have a purpose."

Enter beautiful young wife number ? pulling at Dr. B.'s sleeve. Her brief glance our way revealed what she was secretly thinking: Chappy and I did not measure up on her "who's who" list. Suddenly the soft man who had gently opened his heart to us for a few moments to share his innermost thoughts on a subject that had not only impacted his beloved grandson, Seth, but had obviously turned his own Evolutionary teachings upside down in such a way, without realizing it, he was desperately attempting to hammer a round peg into a square hole..... this man suddenly morphed into Dr. Cowboy again right before our eyes.

"It was nice talking to you"...."enjoy your evening." And our conversation ended. We were dismissed. Chappy and I felt like poor settlers, who upon entering an old western town after months of traveling in a covered wagon, had been given a few moments with Clint Eastwood, the sheriff of the town, before being sent on our way to find lesser "like folk" to associate with. Dr. Cowboy had more important matters to attend to, and our social status had been aptly measured and had come up a bit short.

As Chappy and I walked through the Frist Museum later that evening, viewing artwork crafted by the infamous masters over a hundred years ago, we thought of Dr. Cowboy. Both of us shed a few tears for him that evening while surrounded by slightly intoxicated partiers dressed in ballroom gowns and tuxedos, giggling out loud from the buzz the alcohol provided. Each masterpiece from the renowned collection of art was miraculous in itself to behold. How a mere mortal can create such intricate works of art from paint and brush never ceases to amaze me. Mortals. Men. Each long deceased. Each amounting to a pile of dust beneath a marked gravestone. Eternity decided.

The irony hit me. On a chilly evening in October, hundreds of the Middle TN elite gathered at the highly anticipated Frist Gala to view valuable artwork that was masterfully crafted over one hundred years ago by men who are now dead.....and to my knowledge, it did not dawn on one party-goer that evening that all the fame, fortune, education and prestige in the world does not matter when death comes. And we are all dying.

If I had the chance to say anything to Dr. B., it would be this:

Like the artists of old, our God is quite creative. In fact, to draw Chappy and me closer to Himself, He allowed us the privilege of becoming parents to a little imperfect girl on September 14, 2005. Through Hope's life, He has taught two sinful, selfish creatures volumes about His love, patience, compassion, and forebearance. In the last five years, it has been as if God has taken a key and unlocked our hearts. Before Hopey, the truth is, we didn't know love at all.

Perhaps, Dr. B, Almighty God is the "Who" you refer to as "Nature" and/or "Evolution". Maybe it is He who perfectly created little Seth and placed him into your life, because His love for you is so magnificently grand He wanted to draw you close to Himself. Each time Seth holds your hand tightly with his pudgy fingers, could it be God is reaching out to touch you through that hand? And each time you sacrifice your pride in order to stoop and help Seth do something that comes easy for most children, could it be that God is receiving floods of glory from your simple act of choosing humility? Could it be that His plans are far grander than "Nature"; and could it be that He is a master painter who is intricately brushing every detail upon this great big canvas we have called Time and the Universe?

The truth is that God will go to any length to make sure we have every opportunity to attain eternal life....even to the point of leaving glory behind to be born a man in order to wonderfully become the supreme sacrifice which became a requirement the day sin entered the earth. Oh, what an awesome God we serve! And best of all, His Way is so simple a child can understand it. God is God, and we are not. We need only trust Him the way a child trusts His parents to care for him. What a plan! What a Savior!

"Have you ever in your life commanded the morning or caused the dawn to know its place? Have you entered the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Have you understood the expanse of the Earth....where is the dwelling of light? Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or have you seen the storehouses of the hail? Where is the way that the light is divided or the east wind scattered on the earth? Has the rain a father or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb has come the ice and the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?" Job 38

"Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever humbles himself as a child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:3-4

Friday, November 26, 2010

emergency update about Carlene (from LYDIA)

My mom just heard from Mrs. Marianne Fick and got some very bad news about Carlene. The Fillmore family is in Russia adopting the cutest little girl named Tatiana (think they are going to call her Anna) who also has Down Syndrome. The person in charge who is helping them with their adoption gave them an update on Carlene. Carlene is 5 years old and should have already been sent to the institution to die, but the baby orphanage agreed to keep her because a family had said they would come and get her. Something happened and that family couldn't adopt Carlene, but the lady in charge of adoptions in Russia hasn't told the orphanage yet. In secret she has been hoping another family will decide to come rescue her. It has been almost 6 months, so very very soon she is going to have to tell the truth...that no family is coming to rescue Carlene...when that happens Carlene will be put in an institution...and it will be very soon. Once she is in the institution, she will never be loved on again and I think my heart is breaking. Please please please give some money to help Carlene as soon as possible. If her adoption was payed for, there would be a line of wonderful families who would go to Russia to get her. If you want to give money to save Carlene's life, just go to This is an emergency!!!!! God made Carlene because he wanted her to be a light to the world and she needs to be set free so she can be his light. We need to set his little light free so she can shine!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hey Blogger World, It Is Lydia Again.

*****It is Thanksgiving time again, and I asked my mom if I could use her blog to share what is on my heart.

*****Last year alot of you might remember that with God's help I raised $30,000 for a little orphan girl with Down Syndrome. Her name is Darya and she came home to be with her brand new family last month in Florida! The Fick family! And I love them!

*****Raising that much money for an orphan has put alot of pressure on me. Kind of confusing, right? Well I have spent my days wondering if I can raise the money again this year to save the little girl we are trying to help as our Christmas project. Her name is Carlene and I put her picture at the top of this page. Carlene lives in an orphanage in the Ukraine and she has Down Syndrome. She is 5 years old and I have been afraid to let her down. The truth is I have been afraid to let God down too.

*****My family is doing the same kind of things as last year. We are doing bake sales and babysitting. But this year I have doubted a whole lot. I realized today I am doubting myself and God too. The Bible says God can do anything, but I have been thinking He can't really use me to raise that much money again because last year was a miracle. And if I don't raise the money, then Carlene will end up suffering and it will be partly my fault. I am struggling with putting my faith in God and letting Him be in control....I am sure everyone has struggled with the same thing, or will at some point.

*****Tonight my mom was cooking for Thanksgiving and I tried really hard to explain to her how I am feeling. I have been trying to explain it to her for days, but I just couldn't put it in words. I cried because I couldn't explain my feelings to her. Finally tonight she understood and I think you all need to understand too. It is ok for me to doubt God, because He understands. God is measuring my heart and all He is looking for is people who are willing to have faith. He is in control of Carlene's life and loves her more than we can imagine.

*****I want God to do another miracle and raise $20,000 for Carlene to be adopted. I can't stand to think about her being stuck in an orphanage every day of her life. She is five years old like my sister Hope and has been without a family all those years. Pretty soon she will be put in an institution with different kinds of people who scream all day and are unhappy. They will be strangers to her and she will be very afraid. The workers will probably tie her to her bed and not feed her very much because they are poor. She will be hungry and alone. When I think of Carlene, I think of Hope and how I would feel if that was her in that institution. That is what makes me cry so much. I don't want her to wake up one morning and be in a scary place. I want her to have a family.

*****I am not perfect, no one is, and I have thought that me doubting God would mean the money would not be raised to save Carlene this year. I thought my faith was too weak. But it isn't. God only needs a little bit of faith to do big things, and I am praying he will use this letter to all of you to make your hearts love Carlene like He has mine. Just like He did with Darya last year. And look at Darya's life now. She is the princess in her family and they love her so much. My family is going to visit Darya next month in Florida and I cannot wait to hold her. She is God's miracle girl.

*****More than 1,000 people read my mom's blog every week. If every person who reads this gives $20 then Carlene will have enough money to get a family for Christmas. My family is already going to raise $1,000 from our bake sales and babysitting. If you want to give money this year, just go to: and do it online:)

*****Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. That is what we can all do this Thanksgiving. We can let our lights shine all the way to the Ukraine and save the life of a little girl with Down Syndrome who is waiting on her family to come get her. And God will be glorified.
I love you all even though I don't know you. You all helped save Darya last year and I think we will save Carlene this year. Have you ever really thought about it like that? We are saving lives.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dr. B. (Part 2)

The Frist Gala is no oridinary soiree, and Chappy and I were honored when chosen to be one of several couples to represent Chappy's employer (UBS) at the event. While this year's sit-down dinner kicked-off the world renowned "Birth of Impressionism", showcasing several pieces of art from Musee d'Orsay, the real show to most attendees is rubbing elbows with the "Who's Who" list of Nashville's rich and famous.....a virtual Southern-Style red carpet. Dr. B., well-known in Nashville circles, was propped against a tall table, elbows planted firmly with drink in hand, when Chappy first noticed him.

To give a bit of brief history, I am a mom with five children, and for those of you who don't know me yet, my children are my life. You can most often find me donned in worn-out jeans and a simple tshirt while sporting barefeet so I can crawl around on the floor with the little ones on a moment's notice, join my pre-teen gals in an impromptu dance around the house to Michael Buble's "Haven't Met You Yet" or the all time best hits of "Abba", and still be ready to take time to shoot a couple of baskets on the driveway with Caleb (taking his corrective criticism with a smile on my face, of course). Like most doting husbands, Chappy loves to see me dressed up, because over the years it has become a rare occurrence as our family has grown. So, on the evening of the Frist Gala, I crammed my bare feet into high heels and quickly noted that twinkle in my hubby's eyes. Well, suffices to say, that adoring twinkle was quickly replaced by the serious glare of a man on a mission when my husband noted Dr. B.'s presence at the Gala. He went from Casanova to Jason Bourne in 2 seconds flat....from holding my hand on a leisurely stroll while viewing masterpieces of artwork by Monet and Manet to dragging me in my high heels through throngs of Nashvillians in a mere blink.
"I'm wearing heels, honey", I managed to grit through a toothy smile while being pulled hurriedly through the main hallway. The entire time my mind was reeling as I conjured how I would break my fall with my right arm (since hubby had my left one) I would at the same time make sure my skirt did not fly up over my head showcasing the pair of "Spanx" I was wearing to hold all my flab tightly in place....and how if I pulled hard enough I might manage to yank free from Chappy's death grip so he wouldn't continue to mercilessly drag me along behind him without noticing I was flat on my rump.
Still pressing forward, Chappy answered me loud enough for anyone interested to hear: "I see Dr. B. over there at a table and no one is talking to him right now."
Roledexing....roledexing....then I remembered him....Dr. B. More motivated now, I forgot about my heels and and my "Spanx" for the time being and put my game face on to join Chappy on his mission.
Clint-Eastwood Cowboy types typically do not wear monkey suits, but as Chappy and I came to a screeching halt at Dr. B.'s table, it seemed more like we had arrived at a saloon bar from an old Western movie. Just as we arrived, cowboy threw back a sip of his drink, let the glass hit the table with a clunk, and looked up at us with piercing eyes. He obviously had no clue who we were and I am sure was wondering why we were out of breath.
It was the perfect moment for cowboy doctor to tip his imaginary hat and ask: "What can I do for you folks?" but instead, he said nothing. He just looked at us until Chappy broke the awkward silence:
"Dr. B., I am Chappy Hollis and this is my wife Melanie....since you have seen thousands of patients in your career, I am sure you will not remember us, but five years ago....." and Chappy recanted the story. Hope's story.
I stood by Chappy's side as he used his hands to reel the cowboy in to the story. The inflection in his voice would change from a fast paced stormy rush of words to a soft patter when he would speak of his little Hopey and all the struggles she has been through in her short life. A sentimental fool in love with his imperfect daughter, tears rolled from his eyes when he spoke about how God perfectly formed Hope to teach us about a deeper level of His love we would have never known without her being born into our family....Chappy unashamedly let tears drop, one by one, onto the table top without seeming to notice.
Every once in a while, I would allow my eyes to dart across the table to see how receptive Dr. Cowboy was to the see if "Chappy Bourne On A Mission" was stealing away too much of the Doc's weekend social time or if he had magically become engaged in the tale of a love that has overcome many obstacles. However, the majority of the time I blocked out the hustle of the elite dressed in ballroom garb, the endless chatter about vacation homes and job promotions, to intently look at my husband's face and listen to him pour out his heart about little Hope and about the Creator of the Universe who doesn't make mistakes. The Purest form of love oozed from his lips, and from my perspective, fell onto the ears of a prominent man who was already calculating his response.
Chappy finished: "Do you remember when you told us that our paths would cross again in the future, and how we would have a mutual understanding in that moment of we would both know what others have no clue about..... that we are indeed uniquely blessed beyond measure to have your grandson, Seth and our daughter, Hope in our lives?"
"This may surprise you, but I do remember; in fact, I remember the appointment well", he responded with a sort of chuckle while nodding his head and swirling the drink he held with both of his hands. Head still dipped down, his eyes shot up at Chappy when he smuggly announced: "But my perspective about how God fits into this is far different than yours."
To be continued......

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dr. B. (Part 1)

Pregnant with Hope, I learned quickly that doctors' visits were eerily equal to withdrawals from my spiritual bank account. To remedy, Chappy and I would attempt to make spiritual deposits by digging into God's Word days before, reminding ourselves of His unfailing promises. The news was too often grim and so it seemed the enemy would literally extend his long pointed claws deep into my soul to gut and steal away every ounce of hope he could find in my body. Dejected and dismayed, it was common to see my head hung low and tears streaming when I would climb into the minivan for the ride home. Chappy would often hold my hand in complete it a squeeze every now and then as if to say: "I wish I could make this better."

But this doctor's visit was different.....enter Dr. B:

It was a sunny day and all the regular doctors were out on the day I met Dr. B. The way he glided into the room with his shoulders straight, head held high, and nod of the head, it was evident immediately that I was not his first patient. Portraying the confidence of a leather-skinned cowboy proudly wearing calloused hands born through years of handling rough rope and wide-eyed cattle, this was definitely not Dr. B.'s first rodeo. It seemed equally evident that Dr. Cowboy would rather be anywhere else than in the examining room with me.

After a brief introduction, explaining he was filling in for the high risk doctors I was accustomed to seeing on my frequent visits to Vanderbilt Hospital, he leaned against the counter and began flipping through my file. I suppose he was wearing bifocals of some sort, because his glasses were hanging precariously onto the end of his nose, and as he would flip the pages, he would glance up to look at me every few seconds over the top of the glasses before looking down to begin flipping and reading again. Closing the chart with a loud thud between his large hands, he finally asked:

"What in the world are you doing here?"

Having felt subtle pressure from the medical community many times about our choosing NOT to abort little Hopey because of her extra chromosome and heart defect, my husband was a bit edgy with doctors in general. In response, he nearly rose out of his chair as his voice boomed to the arrogant Dr. Cowboy:

"What do you mean....'what in the world are we doing here?" His tone was full of sarcasm.

Dr. B., catching on very quickly to Chappy's response, stood straight, waved his hand and answered with a smile: "No, no, no. You have taken me the wrong way. When I asked what your wife was doing here, I meant that the high risk clinic typically sees mothers who are at high risk during their pregnancies...high blood pressure, sugar, etc. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your wife; she is very healthy. In your case, it is your baby that is at risk."

From there, Dr. B. went on to explain how he could view hundreds of ultra-sounds of babies with Trisomy 21 and every one would be born unique. Markers that are seen in the womb do not signify developmental milestones a baby with Down Syndrome will achieve or not achieve. And then he reached for his wallet.

"I don't ever share this with patients, but I am going to show you something" he mumbled as he dug into his pocket to pull the wallet from his pants. He then proceeded to open it and flip through colorful pictures of a family he was obviously proud of. Looking up with a sort of smirk, Dr. B. lost his cowboy persona and began to speak to us as if we were his dear old friends:

"I know grandparents are not supposed to have favorites, but I have a favorite grandson." Pointing to a sweet little face, he gently whispered: "His name is Seth."

It only took a quick glance for Chappy and me to realize that Seth had been blessed with an extra chromosome. We all smiled. Chappy and I teared up, but nothing more was said for a few moments.

Dr. B. slapped his wallet closed and shoved it back into his pocket, leaned back on the familiar counter again with folded arms, and with great sincerity he spoke these words that Chappy and I have remembered for over 5 years:

"You don't know it yet, but you are in for one of the greatest blessings of your lives. The little baby you are carrying will teach you about a love you have never experienced before. She will love you unconditionally. If our paths ever cross in the future, we might share some words or even a glance, but on that day, we will both know that you understand what I am telling you today is true....that indeed, you little girl is one of the greatest blessings of your life."

Chappy and I left the hospital with a deposit in our spiritual bank account after that appointment with Dr. B. It was a few weeks ago, over five years later, that our paths crossed with him again at the Frist Gala in downtown Nashville. What transpired between us will amaze you....God, truly, works in mysterious ways.

(to be continued)

Monday, November 8, 2010

He Takes My Breath Away

A few weeks ago, Chappy's office manager gave us tickets to attend the Frist Gala. Chappy dressed up in his penguin suit...I made my best effort to get gussied up for the event...and we prepared to leave our children behind for a fancy evening out on the town.
Caleb, our 16 year old (and the oldest of the kiddos), stood up when I entered the great room where he was watching a football game.
His exact words are etched on my memory and will never be forgotten: "My mom is gorgeous." As I caught my breath and willed tears to not come forth from my eyes, he stood and took three gigantic steps across the great room floor, bent down to give me a delicate hug, and then pulled away to just look at me with a smile.
Determined not to cry, I grinned for a moment, then as Chappy walked into the room, Caleb followed with a: "You guys have fun!" and took his place in front of the TV again....back into football.
I could not speak for thirty minutes. I knew if I said a word I would weep like a baby and end up looking like a raccoon for the evening. Chappy was so busy trying to get us to the Gala on time, he didn't notice how quiet I was. Finally, I gained my composure enough to say: "You are never going to believe what happened tonight before you came out of the bedroom." Chappy's reply: "Hmmm....what happened?" as he continued to speed down I-65.
My voice cracked as I told him: "When I walked into the great room tonight, Caleb stood up and said: 'my mom is gorgeous'". As I recanted Caleb's words to Chappy, all the tears I had been holding back came gushing.
Laughter from Chappy. I gave him a sideways glance through my blubbering and swiping of tears. More laughter from Chappy. Very out loud laughing!
"Why are you laughing?" I asked, still half crying but with a bit of an edge to my normally somewhat sweet southern accent as I rifled through my purse for a spare tissue.
"I am laughing because I know Caleb is going to be incapable of doing anything wrong in your eyes for a very very long time dear." Then he smirked....that kind of look Chappy gives when he realizes something has happened to make me very happy.
Of course he was right. In my 42 years of life, it is quite possible sweeter words have never been spoken to me than those coming from my sixteen year old, 6 foot tall, athletic boy who is dangerously close to becoming a man. On October 7th, 1994, a seven pound, three ounce little boy with big brown eyes took my breath away. Sixteen years later, he is still taking my breath away.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

LOVE This Time Of Year

Our family chooses to celebrate the holidays by raising money to help an orphan each year. Instead of buying gifts for one another, we find creative ways to earn money to help a child in need. This is a time we look forward to with great anticipation.

Last year, Lydia (along with her big brother and sister) raised nearly $30,000.00. The majority of that money was used to bring Darya home from the Ukraine to live with her new family (the Fick family) in Florida, and the remainder is being used to bring Evangeline home from a Russian orphanage to live with her new family in TN (the Hook family). Both Darya and Evangeline have Down Syndrome, and both are treasured by their forever families.

This year, we will once again set up bake sales, offer babysitting services, and rake leaves to raise money for the little angel girl we have chosen this year: her name is Carlene, she too has Down Syndrome, and she is living in a Russian orphanage. Unlike other orphans, an orphan with Down Syndrome is routinely placed in a mental institution, tied to a bed, and left to die following his/her fifth birthday. Carlene is five.

I have put together a book to help raise money for Carlene, and it can be viewed by clicking her adorable picture on the sidebar. Every cent of profit earned from the sale of the book will go to Carlene's adoption fund. If you purchase this book, or if you go straight to the website and make a direct donation to Carlene, you are literally paying a ransom for her. Without our help, she will likely die very soon. Overwhelming statistical data shows orphan children placed in mental institutions only last a few months before going home to be with Jesus. Tied to a bed and never held or touched again, their death is a tortuous one. Carlene deserves a chance at life, don't you think?

The book is full of photos of orphans who are available right now on the Reece's Rainbow site. I have introduced the book as a ten day project for families to enjoy together over the holidays. Full of yummy recipes, the idea is that a meal will be cooked each day in honor of the child that is listed on the recipe page. Gathered together around a table, an empty chair will be used to symbolize the child who has never known the joy of eating a family meal. Prayers are said for the child and orphan awareness enters the minds of all those gathered around. It is so easy to be thankful for what we have when we become mindful of what others are lacking.

In scripture, Jesus fed the multitudes while He taught them about His way. It is my hope that families will hear from the Lord as they make this ten day project a priority during the season we are entering....the time of year when our Savior came to earth and adopted us, orphans as we once were. He wiped away the sin from our lives....never noticed our disabilities and failures.... He then took us by the hand and asked: "Won't you be mine?" I praise the Lord for His invitation to all who will come to Him!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thank You!!!

Tomorrow is November 2nd....Election Day! I am thrilled my campaign efforts end tomorrow, because I am exhausted from the hoop-lah!

I want to sincerely thank each of you for sticking by my side while I have waded through this uncharted, often storm laden, water. In running for State Senate as a write in candidate, I believe I have somewhat successfully taken a stand for not only Hope and Charlie, but for every special needs individual in the state of TN. Channel 5 and The Tennessean Newspaper were kind to run stories on my efforts and have helped me get the message out about restraint and isolation practices in our state. Hopefully I can be a part of a movement for more favorable legislation toward the special education students in the near future.

I will not be victorious in the eyes of many tomorrow when the announcement is made that Jack Johnson has been elected for a 2nd term, but in my eyes, I am a huge winner. Scared out of my mind, I managed to step out of my comfort zone to speak out for those who cannot speak up for themselves. I have been made fun of, heckled at, and chided by many....but through it all, I have kept the faith and have found the strength to stand.

Thank you again for being the truest of friends. You could have turned away and decided that politics was not of interest to you....but you didn't. May the Lord use this experience to draw us all closer to Him. May we come away more bold, and radical for the cause of Christ! It is all about eternity and standing before Him worn out, ragged, and disheveled, knowing we gave it all.

Sincere Love And Warm Hugs To You This Evening!