Friday, December 20, 2013

Reactive Attachment Disorder: A Visit With Natalie (Part 5)

Deep breath.

I no longer had to wonder how the parent of a service man feels when his child returns home from battle....or how the parent of a missionary who is ministering oceans away reacts when she sees her child for the first time after months of separation.  When the door opened, I was living it.

"Hey mom," she said.

Your first inclination might be to take that simple greeting for granted.  However, those two words hold an entire story.  Natalie's story completely entwined with me.  And it is remarkable.

This teenage girl who was once an orphan, who has been pushed to and pulled from four different treatment centers over the course of a single year, who has been placed on and off all sorts of medications to ultimately be taken off of it all....the girl who has been made to dissect feelings she couldn't possibly understand, who was asked to dredge up a past she cannot remember....the one forced to confront anger she never intended, and to deal with actions she regrets with every fiber of her being...this teenager who hated me and sought ways to hurt facing me for the first time in eight months was comfortable enough to simply greet me with:  "Hey mom".

The words symbolized home.  They are two words typical, run of the mill, ordinary teenagers use every single day when greeting their moms.  The words are normal.  They are indicative of a fresh start.

My arms opened for a hug:  "Hey Natalie."

She met me half way.  The hug was mutual, not one-sided.

We were given the great room couches to use for our visit.  A beautifully decorated Christmas tree adorned the front window, lights seeming to twinkle with joy for this occasion.  Lydia quickly pulled out her phone to share pictures and video from home.  The pictures of Hope and Charlie helped bring all the tales from home to life.  We laughed.

When was the last time I had seen Natalie laugh?  I couldn't remember.  But it didn't matter.  Here she was, seated beside me, tickled about the funny stories we never would've had if Hope and Charlie were not part of our lives.  Hope and Charlie, the two little ones in our lives who have no words, who have sensory disorders, and who both bear an extra chromosome.  Isn't it funny?  Two who are thought to bring no tangible value to the world are the very ones who brought our family back together that day on a sofa in Missouri.

For a split second, as I sat there, I actually felt the awe and majesty of ONE who sees ahead and provides. Of ONE who knew the adversity Natalie would face when she was still in her birth mother's womb, and in turn, the ONE who saw the trauma our entire family would encounter years after she became part of our own family through adoption.  Only the Masterful Creator of all things would think to use the least of the world...ones like Hope and heal and to restore.

After nearly four hours, when we were standing near the Christmas tree preparing to say our goodbyes, Natalie turned to me.  Chappy and Lydia were still speaking with Mrs. Debbie who had just given us a complete tour of the cozy home that is currently providing therapy and education for 20 teenage girls.  This was a blip in time meant only for Natalie and me.  A blip in time wrapped up as a gift especially for me.  It was appropriate we were near the tree, as if the Almighty Himself planned the whole thing.

She didn't look at the floor and she didn't mumble her words.  Natalie looked directly into my eyes when she spoke:

"If you had not found this place and sent me here, I would be dead.  I had made up my mind that I couldn't live with the pain anymore.  I was going to take my life.  I was going to do it."

Peace washed over me, cleansing me from all doubt and guilt.

"I'm getting better every day.  I'm going to have a good life, I promise I am."

Our goodbyes were full of tears.   But when Lydia, Chappy, and I climbed back into the SUV, returned Natalie's wave, and turned to head back to the hotel, our hearts were full of hope.

The miracle of Christmas is of a Father, who so driven by love for the children who rejected Him, left the comforts of home to enter a foreign place to rescue them.  to love them.  to know them.

The miracle of Christmas for me this year was in my leaving the comforts of home to go to Natalie, the one who had rejected me.  Twelve years ago, I went to her in the foreign land of Russia.  Two weeks ago, I went to her in Missouri.  On this day, she accepted me as her mom.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." 

Thank you to all who have ordered The Loyalty Lock from Lydia.  She is giving a portion of the proceeds to the therapeutic boarding school where Natalie is residing.  The school is wanting to build a gym for their 20 female residents, and Lydia is determined to help make that happen.  To order your Loyalty Lock, visit:  They are $14.99 with a flat $2.00 shipping:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Reactive Attachment Disorder: A Visit With Natalie (Part 4)

Walking through the doors of the market was like taking a step back in time.  A bell, attached to the top of the door, actually rang when we entered.  I couldn't help but think of ZuZu Bailey when I heard it:  "Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings."  I needed an angel.

Lydia and I came out of the restroom all washed up and ready to complete the final leg of our journey.  I observed the inventory belonging to this roadside market plunked down on a country road in the middle of nowhere.  It was sparse indicating the place was not accustomed to entertaining large numbers of visitors. The windows in the front of the store nearly reached from the floor to the ceiling, and a fair haired girl with ringlet curls who looked to be three years old pressed her face onto the panes, leaving the print of her nose and mouth behind.  Each time she would pull her face away, she giggled with abandon at the piece of herself left behind on the glass.

She tugged on the shirt of an older gentleman who remained close by her side, even though she could have safely inhabited the entire store with no fear or worries.  Pointing at the disappearing prints, she shined:  "Look Papaw!  It's me on the window!"

He was so kind to her,  patiently standing beside her, laughing out loud along with her.

Near the cash register, stood a woman I guessed to be the girl's mother.  I hadn't noticed her before, but quickly put two and two together and surmised the old gentleman was also her father.  Our eyes met.

"You doin' alright today?"  she asked.

"Yes", then dipping my head toward the window:  "I guess with all this snow and ice, you guys are really feeling the Christmas spirit!"

The twenty something year old, wearing natural beauty in the place of makeup with her hair pulled up into a simple high ponytail said:  "Yep", then looking to the little girl, "especially her."

The one called Papaw was now holding his granddaughter's hand while she carefully hopped from window sill to window sill.  It was her game, and he was happily playing it with a broad smile across his face.

"We don't have much, but we got love.  And that's all that matters this time of year", she continued with a smile.  I could tell she was proud to be the momma of that little giggling bundle of energy.

Then Papaw looked up and spoke to me for the first time.  He had been so in tune to the girl with the ringlet curls, I was unsure he even knew I was nearby.  The dark leathery skin belonging to the man at the center of his granddaughter's affection displayed lines around his eyes proving he had spent many days smiling.  His eyes, though, were deceiving.  They were as blue and as young as those belonging to a teenage boy:

"That's all that matters ANY time of year."

The white haired grandfather then turned back to the frolicking angel.  At the counter, his daughter turned to pour herself another cup of coffee.  And I opened the door, again heard the bell ring, and left.

Chappy had been sitting out in the car waiting.  The car felt warm and comfortable.  The butterflies in my stomach were gone.

When we entered the gates of the "Wings Of Faith Academy", I thought to myself:  "We have love, and that's all that matters."

Chappy parked the car, turned to Lydia and me and announced:  "We are finally here girls.  Let's go have a great visit with Nat-Nat!"

The next thing you know, I was standing on a covered porch, Chappy and Lydia behind me, ringing a doorbell.

The door opened slightly, and we were immediately knocked back by sounds of screaming girls and clapping hands.  At first I couldn't make out what they were saying, probably because I was so surprised by the sound.  But then it became clear:  "We are so proud of you Natalie!  Have a great visit with your family!"

The door continued to open until she appeared.  It was Natalie.

(continued tomorrow)----Thank you to all who have ordered The Loyalty Lock from Lydia.  She is giving a portion of the proceeds to the therapeutic boarding school where Natalie is residing.  The school is wanting to build a gym for their 20 female residents, and Lydia is determined to help make that happen.  To order your Loyalty Lock, visit:  They are $14.99 with a flat $2.00 shipping:


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Reactive Attachment Disorder: A Visit With Natalie (Part 3)

Snow flakes seemed to dance through the air to the Downhere Christmas melody playing on the radio.   So I turned my thoughts to Him.  To the King who gave up His throne for me.  And I wondered about the season called "Christmas" and the adopted Christ child, Jesus.  It was very solemn in the car.  By this time Lydia was nodding in and out of sleep while Chappy focused on following the winding country road that would soon lead to Natalie.  Neither noticed when God wrapped His big arms around me, tenderly tilted my head back onto his chest, and encouraged my mind to once again, take a journey:

"You know, Father, when Joseph adopted Jesus, he didn't get a baby with a lot of problems.  He became the Father of YOUR Son, who by the way, was literally perfect!"

I let the statement settle, making my point.

No answer came, so I considered poor Joseph. His heart must have turned flips when the angel said:  'Joseph, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child growing within her was conceived by God....oh, and by the way, He's the promised Messiah.'

AND regardless of the angel's warning to not be afraid, I think it is safe to bet he was very afraid!  Although he grew up well versed in scripture and knew God had spoken to Noah, to Moses, and to Elijah.....the simple carpenter could have never, in his wildest dreams, expected to get a personal call from God.  But there it was.  The Messiah, the long awaited One, would be Joseph's adopted son.    

Hmmmm.  Did Joseph immediately attach to Jesus?  Did he pick the Savior up from the manger, cradle Him in his arms and say:  "My son!"  or did he simply look down upon his tiny face and think:  "You are God's son."

How does one, after all, connect with the Son of God?  What am I asking?  Of course Joseph connected with One who is perfect love, right?  OR....were there issues?

Well at first, when Jesus was just a toddler, things had to be blissful.  Joseph teaching the little fella' to manage His first steps, playing games like peek-a-boo with Him, and encouraging Him to speak His first words:  "Da-Da...go ahead and say it Jesus....I'm your Da-Da".

Oh, well, that might have been awkward. Joseph, knowing the Creator of the Universe sees and hears everything.  He must have felt uncomfortable asking God's son to call him "Da-Da".

(Pause) Why had I never contemplated Jesus' adoption before?

And when did Mary and Joseph tell Jesus He was God's Son?  Surely they did when He was old enough to understand.  How did that earth-saving knowledge impact the relationship between Joseph and Jesus?

Adoption isn't perfect in the very best scenario, so why do I spend time dissecting what I should have done or could have done....when the truth of the matter is I have done my best?  I'm not perfect, so I fit in right with Joseph.

God didn't look for a perfect man to be Jesus' adopted father, because there is no perfect man.  Likewise, God wasn't looking for a perfect mother for Natalie, because there is no perfect female.  In fact, God's proof that He is NOT looking for perfection is the Christmas story.  If human beings were perfect, there would have been no need for the virgin birth.

My head still resting back on Father's chest, He finally spoke with a question:  "Joseph believed.  Do you believe?"

"Do I believe?  I want to believe with everything in my being, Lord.  But I am so afraid.  You know, I have been praying eight years for you to heal Hope's heart, but You haven't.  And you have given neither Hope nor Charlie the ability to talk...and on top of that, they both battle extreme sensory issues.  They are trying so hard to fit into this world You created, but every single day is a monumental struggle for them. People stare at them, feel uncomfortable around them, and reject them.  And it makes my heart hurt so bad.  Then there is Natalie.  I didn't even see Reactive Attachment Disorder coming at me until it had run completely over me. One day my daughter was Natalie, and then the next day she was someone I didn't even recognize.  She was abandoned as a baby, and now she must feel like I have abandoned her too. How can a fifteen year old girl comprehend all she's going through?  Yes, I am doing my best....but my best right now is....."

The car stopped?  When had I dozed off?  I didn't remember feeling sleepy.

"Everybody out.  We are about 20 minutes away and this is the last pit stop before we enter the gates of the Wings Of Faith Academy,"  Chappy said as he unbuckled his seat belt.

I followed his lead, stepped out into the bitter cold, and walked  toward a tiny market alongside a desolate road. There wasn't a car in the parking lot, and not even a single car passed by on the road in front of the market.  Little did I know my chat with God was setting me up for this moment....

(continued tomorrow)----Thank you to all who have ordered The Loyalty Lock from Lydia.  She is giving a portion of the proceeds to the therapeutic boarding school where Natalie is residing.  The school is wanting to build a gym for their 20 female residents, and Lydia is determined to help make that happen.  To order your Loyalty Lock, visit:  They are $14.99 with a flat $2.00 shipping:


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reactive Attachment Disorder: A Visit With Natalie (Part 2)

Fear.  He is a tormentor, isn't he?  A sort of invisible thief who cruelly swipes all security from his target only to replace it with a terror that literally chokes the freedom from life.

What a quandary.  The enemy of fear loomed heavily, yet there Lydia sat.  I wondered when she had mustered the strength. I questioned where her resolve had come from.  And I hoped she was preparing to face fear and to once and for all put the thief away, outside the bars of her heart.

While Lydia occupied a part of my mind, reflections of Natalie consumed the much larger part.  Oh, how my mind raced with thoughts of Natalie.

The first stop along my remembrance path was at a Russian orphanage when I saw Natalie for the first time. You know, it's funny.....I expected to be drawn to her that first moment.  Looking back on it, I believe I expected a bit of magic.  But the truth is, I wasn't drawn to her at all. Sure, I felt sympathy for her.  Who wouldn't? But I was taken aback by my lack of compassion.  

She entered the room whose light was gifted by bulbs topped with old dusty lampshades hanging from the ceiling and whatever trickle of sunlight could wiggle it's way through the heavy curtains donning the narrow windows.  Chappy and I had been seated upon a 1970's velour couch blossoming with burnt orange, mustard yellow, and muddy brown flowers.  By all accounts, it looked like a very ordinary room.  The walls were painted a hospital color of cream, the floors a laminate grayish brown, and a few toys were lying around alongside a child sized table.  The most noticeable quality was the overwhelming stench of cooked cabbage mixed with urine.  The scent made me queasy.

We were told this was the "adoption room" for new parents, a place set aside for the few lucky children who are being inspected by prospective families.  Natalie would enter the room for the first time this day. She had never seen the room in her three years at the Vidnoye baby orphanage, because she had never been lucky enough for a visit from a prospective family.  She had never had a visitor at all.  Until us.

"Chappy and Melanie, meet your new daughter, Natalia".  The little Russian girl wore a very bulky sweater stuffed beneath denim overalls.  The words of introduction came with a big smile from our beloved Susha, the translator who was with us every day during our three week stay in Russia.

The orphanage worker standing beside Natalie in the doorway gave her a nudge, spoke something in Russian, and called her Natash.

I turned to Susha:  "Is her name Natalia or Natash?"

"Oh, her given name is Natalia, but a common nickname is Natash", she answered.

"What do we call her?"

"Ha! Ha!  She is your daughter now, so you may call her anything you want!"

Chappy and I giggled along with Susha, but this was a bit much for me.  The orphanage was proving to be a quite horrible, and this little girl looked very much like a boy.  In fact, our driver (Vitali) asked if we wanted to inspect her to make sure she was a girl.

"Uhm, no, I think we will just trust that she is a girl."

She walked gingerly up to Chappy, as if every step was a difficult one for her to take, and then she put her hand upon his knee. That was the first touch.  I can still see her little face looking up at him.  It was dirty, but not in the sense that most parents think of as dirty.  She was three years old and had never been bathed. Her face was really really dirty. Her hair had been shaved close to her head and the inside of her ears were black with something crusty. She kept her eyes focused on the floor, head down, until the orphanage worker left the room.  Once she heard the door close, she looked up at Chappy and spoke a single word very softly, almost in a whisper:  "Papa".

My heart literally leapt up into my throat as Chappy answered her with a bright smile:  "Yes, I am your papa."  I think I must have used my hand to shut my mouth; it had dropped wide open.  This was actually happening.

We had brought her a few gifts and immediately began giving them to her.  We played together, laughed together, and made a connection.  When our time was up, the door opened to show the orphanage worker again. She showed no emotion whatsoever and did not speak a word.  She simply opened the door and stood, but her presence permeated the room.  In response, Natalie hastily transformed from a little girl into a solider of sorts.  She gently reached out and gave a dutiful hug to each of us, turned with head down, and marched out of the room.

I was astounded.  And at once, I was full of compassion for this child.

My mind then drifted to how my own feelings for Natalie grew over time.  I recalled our trip home to meet family members and friends, of our teaching her the English language, introducing her to different foods, and tucking her safely into her bed each night. I reminisced about her first splash in the swimming pool, her first glance at a Christmas tree, and the way she cuddled her first teddy bear.

Throughout the stream of memories, however, my accusers continued to invade.  Those are the ones who have, in one way or another, sent the message that I am a terrible mom for sending my daughter away, and that Natalie's issues arose because I had not loved her enough.  Their allegations rumbled as intensely as the butterflies in my stomach.  I considered my own failure and silently spoke to God:  "Forgive me for the times I fell short with Natalie.  Forgive me! For...give... me!"

My introspection meandered away from Russia and settled upon the time a teenage Natalie carved words deep into my dining room table.  She later admitted she had used a knife that day and hoped those words would forever remind me of how much she despised and hated me.  So as the car passed by the sleeping fields dotted with rolled up heaps of hay, I went back to the moment I rubbed my fingers over the jagged edges of the grooves she had left upon the once smooth surface of my dining table and demanded she explain why she had destroyed it. I saw the room, me standing on one side of the table and Natalie on the other with Lydia looking on, wide-eyed, from the hallway.  I remembered how angry I became when she seemed pleased with my exasperation, how I had swiftly grounded her for the behavior, and how she didn't seem to care. My accusers were correct in this instance.  I hadn't shown her love or mercy or grace.  What she saw that day, in her mother, was bitterness.

I then remembered how days later I found the same markings on an end table in the great room.  How when I turned to look at her with disbelief, she quickly said with a grin:  "Oh, that was an accident.  I must have been bearing down too hard with my pencil when I was doing my school work."

"You're going to test me, Natalie? Really?"  I thundered,  "You've made up a lie to see if I will give you a consequence for what you are calling an accident?"

She replied flatly:  "I'm not lying.  It was an accident this time."

I saw myself standing over the end table as I spoke to Natalie who was seated at the table in the kitchen: "The same deep groves with jagged edges, written haphazardly all across this table could not have been caused by your writing too heavily on your notebook paper.  This was caused by a knife or a screwdriver....what did you use? and why did you do it?....again?"

She answered with no emotion:  "I'm not lying.  It was an accident this time."

I knew it wasn't.  It was obvious it wasn't.  It was even obvious that Natalie knew her marks could not be misinterpreted.  So again, my daughter....the one who had been deeply wounded in an orphanage the first three years of her life...found no mercy and no grace from me.  Instead, I judged her and lengthened her time of being grounded.

These incidents were followed by so many others.  The incidents began to occur daily, carefully and strategically plotted and planned by a teenage girl who seemed ever determined to prove she would rather be an orphan than my daughter.  I recounted them all as the SUV rolled ever onward. I have recounted them, every single one, for months.  And as I think of them, the faces of those who have accused me pop into my head.  I see their looks of utter disgust.  I feel the cuts from their daggers of judgment.  And I lie down beneath them, rolled into a ball, and I cry out:  "You are all correct! I have not loved her deeply enough!"

A tear escaped my eye...and then another. I immediately brushed them away, making my best attempt to appear I was scratching a bothersome itch on my face so Chappy and Lydia wouldn't notice.

"Wow, how much further 'til we get there?"  I ask, pursuing a way to re-direct my thoughts to something else.  To anything else.

(continued tomorrow)----Thank you to all who have ordered The Loyalty Lock from Lydia.  She is giving a portion of the proceeds to the therapeutic boarding school where Natalie is residing.  The school is wanting to build a gym for their 20 female residents, and Lydia is determined to help make that happen.  To order your Loyalty Lock, visit:  They are $14.99 with a flat $2.00 shipping:



Monday, December 16, 2013

Reactive Attachment Disorder: A Visit With Natalie (Part 1)

We awoke to local news reports: "Freezing rain has left the roads covered in ice and has caused more than 30 automobile accidents within the first hour of the morning commute."  Really?  We've waited 8 months to see Natalie and this is how the day begins?  And then:  "Four to five inches of snow is expected later today and will fall fast.  If you are on the roads after 6pm, all bets are off."

As Lydia and I carefully gathered all of Natalie's Christmas gifts into a large rolling suitcase, Chappy stood nearby:  "Don't worry, we'll get there today.  We won't be able to visit with Nat as long as we planned, but we'll get there and we'll see her."  We zipped the bag, began rolling it toward the door.....and so our journey began.

We had a two hour drive ahead of us into a town with just a handful more than 1800 inhabitants according to the latest census.  We passed field after field blanketed in brand new cottony snow and glistening with ice. The two hour road trip brought back memories of another time and another place when Chappy and I made a two hour drive through ice and snow to visit a then three year old orphan called Natalia in Vidnoye Russia. I thought about the irony just before Chappy spoke it:  "Oh my gosh, Mel, this reminds me of our trip to that run down orphanage."  It was as if the Almighty planted the memory into our thoughts at the same moment. Surreal, yet perfect.

Our car ride was quiet for the most part, but sprinkled with bits of conversation about what we would say to Natalie or what we were expecting.  The last time we saw her, she hated us....hoped to never see us again....and was determined to take her life and to ruin ours.  Mental illness comes in many different forms. I can only speak of Natalie's. Hers showed itself as a character who was soft, gracious, and kind to those outside of our home, but as a cunning villain bent on utter destruction within our home.   Her mental illness held us hostage with a furor and sliced us deep with razor sharp words, daily plunging into our gut and bleeding us out.  The words and actions never come from the person, but from the disability.  Unfortunately, that knowledge does not protect wounded souls or broken hearts.

My mother in law asked me not to take Lydia on the trip, and about half way to our destination, I began to wonder if she was right.  She feared it would be too much for Lydia and worried about the consequences if the visit was not a good one.  When I had mentioned her grandmother's concern a month earlier, Lydia stood her ground with such strength and resolve:  "She's my sister.  I walked through the whole break down with you day in and day out.  I deserve to have this chance to see her for myself!"  And so here she was with us now, a fifteen years old tucked into the backseat of a rented SUV.  Her big chocolate brown eyes scanned the foreign landscape around her. I glanced back at her from time to time, trying to imagine what was going through her mind:

"Are you ok, Lydia?"

With a gentle nod and a bit of a shoulder shrug:  "Yeh, I'm great!"

The words of a typical teenager.  But I knew better, because I too battle the memory of what we endured those last months with Natalie.  Seeing her sister would be facing much more than the rejection.  For Lydia, a girl who has enough compassion to fill the deepest sea, this journey was about facing the enemy within Natalie who had stolen from her, lied to her, raged at her with the intensity of a wild fire, and even threatened to harm her while she slept.

On the one hand, she must have recalled the good times.....times when she and Natalie gently cradled their dolls as mothers, had tea at the imaginary royal table dressed as princesses, and of the hundreds of times they ran barefoot through the grass playing a never ending game of tag....giggling until tears streamed down their faces leaving trails of dirt as evidence of the great outdoors.  But on the other hand, were the memories just as real of one who became as frightening as a monster.  The one who caused her big brother to lock his bedroom door at night.  The one who caused Lydia to sleep on the floor next to my bedside every night.  The one who introduced fear into Lydia's world.

(continued tomorrow)----Thank you to all who have ordered The Loyalty Lock from Lydia.  She is giving a portion of the proceeds to the therapeutic boarding school where Natalie is residing.  The school is wanting to build a gym for their 20 female residents, and Lydia is determined to help make that happen.  To order your Loyalty Lock, visit:  They are $14.99 with a flat $2.00 shipping:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Locking Your Loyalty In Prayer...For The Holidays

My name is Lydia.  I am 15 years old.  And I am wishing for a Christmas miracle. 

I recently created a special gift called "The Loyalty Lock".  It is a very pretty antiqued charm that comes with a 26" cord of black leather and a 40 day promise to pray written on what looks like a weathered piece of scroll.  I designed it so it would look good on both guys and girls.  If I sell 1800 Loyalty Locks in the next two weeks, I will be able to give $8,000.00 ($2,000 each) as a Christmas gift to 4 different and amazing organizations who support the special needs community:
1.  Best Buddies of Tennessee
2.  Reeces Rainbow
3.  The Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee
4.  The Therapeutic Boarding School where my sister currently resides

As a big sister to 2 little rays of sunshine who have Down syndrome, I am constantly looking for ways to get the word out about the special needs community.  About the value of these incredible individuals, about how they have unique qualities and gifts, and about how much they add to the world just by being a part of it.  That has been my goal, my mission, and my calling in life. 

But recently, my mission became much much larger. In addition to Hope and Charlie, I have another sister who is 15.  My parents adopted her when she was only 3 from a very abusive orphanage in Russia.  Throughout my entire life, she was my very best friend.  When Natalie turned 13, though, she began to suffer with lots of issues.  She started stealing, lying, harming herself and others, throwing tantrums, destroying property, and she also became extremely paranoid....she even started believing my family had stolen her from Russia.  There was a time when I thought I had lost my sister forever. 

My parents looked for help, but help was almost impossible to find.  My mom started talking about it and blogging about it and found out there were many other parents struggling with this same issue.  And like my family, those families were having a difficult time finding help.  My sister was finally diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder which is a good thing.  We were so happy for the diagnosis, because it meant she could finally receive help.  She is now in a therapeutic boarding school that is making a huge impact on her life.  She is making progress.  It is taking time, but she is getting better and better and better.  I even get to visit her next week.

This experience with Natalie has shown me that the special needs community reaches all the way to mental illnesses too.  These are people I didn't even know existed until my sister was diagosed with RAD.  There are thousands of teenagers who are just like Natalie, and those people need support and should never be forgotten or left out.  Ever.  So this is the newest part of my mission.  I want to help this therapeutic boarding school grow so more kids can get the help they need.

So, basically I need to sell 1800 Loyalty Locks in 2 weeks to meet my goal.  The Loyalty Lock makes a great stocking stuffer or Christmas gift, and since it comes with a 40 day promise to pray, it is a gift that hopefully produces lots of miracles.  Maybe even 1800 miracles!  Prayer does change things.  And God still works miracles.  So if you want to be a part of this Christmas miracle, go to and purchase yours today.  They are $14.99 each with a flat shipping rate of $2.00 (to make things simple).  My mom and I are shipping these things out of Franklin, TN every single day, so getting yours by Christmas will not be a problem if you order SOON!  

May you ALL have a wonderful Holiday season filled with Joy, Joy, and more Joy!!!  My Christmas wish is to give these organizations the $8,000.00 gift this year.  I'm expecting a Christmas Miracle!  Thank you for helping me be a small part of helping others!!!  

Lydia Hollis

(From Melanie Hollis (Mom):  Natalie continues to improve....we are so thankful for the hard work she is putting into getting better.  Her school work has especially improved by leaps and bounds which is allowing her to feel more confidence and better about herself.  Sometimes it is the little things.  We visit her next week and cannot wait to see her face to face.  We will be bringing loads of Christmas gifts with us for her to enjoy.  To all the moms who have contacted me about issues and struggles you are having at home with your own children...know I pray for you, I think of you, and I am here for you!  Thank you (as always) for all of your prayers and support for Natalie, Hope, and little Charlie-man!)