"Mom, why don't people understand our lives?", she asked.
"They haven't walked in our shoes....so to expect others to understand us is unfair."
Such began a discussion at midnight in the middle of a king size bed in Rosemary Beach last week.
Lydia and I were "blessed" with the task of getting Hopey to sleep, which was proving difficult since Poppy had fed her a huge piece of chocolate cake while we were out earlier that evening.
When we walked in the door, my dad had asked: "Hey, guess who REALLY likes chocolate cake?"
And then I was promptly met by a laughing little munchkin who's face was covered in chocolate icing....even her teeth were coated in the stuff. I knew it was going to be a long night. And I was right.
Lights were out and all was quiet except for Hopey who continued to jump up and down on the bed even after we had made our best effort to "tuck her in" with cozy blankets dozens of times already....just when we thought we had her settled, we'd hurry to pretend to be asleep with the desire that she decide to join us....she may have an extra chromosome, but she ain't that easy to fool. She caught onto our game and made up her own rules. How many times did I silently curse at my daddy when Hopey would throw back the covers, leap to her feet, bounce up and down with giggles and then land right onto my tummy (or head)? I lost count.
What I hadn't anticipated was how we were just about to have an appointment with our Father in the middle of that king size bed turned trampoline.
Lydia continued: "No, mom, what I mean is why can't people see things the way we do? Everybody thinks they have the answers to our problems, but they don't even have a clue. They're just all selfish. Most people who offer us advice about Natalie haven't even adopted a kid themselves." (ouch!)
My answer to her possibly surprised me as much as it did Lydia: "We are just as selfish as those people are....every single one of them....and just as judgmental too."
Those big eyes. Lydia can never hide her true thoughts or feelings, because those puddles of brown betray her every single time. This evening offered no exception. The moonlight burst through the vertical blinds and landed right onto those eyes as Lydia shot up in the bed and used them to accuse me:
"Are you kidding me? WE are selfish? WE have adopted two kids and take care of two little ones with Down syndrome every single day of our lives, but WE are selfish? Mom, WE don't even have a life! How in the world can you say WE are selfish?"
I answered with a question: "Who are you comparing us to?"
And boy, did she ever have a list. I didn't have a clue she knew so much about so many people. Teenagers watch and take everything in, because my 14 year old rattled off a list of moms who routinely get manicures, host parties, and travel....of dads who play weekly rounds of golf, drive sports cars, and throw back beer like it's water in an effort to appear younger than their middle age....of families who have plenty of money but never reach out to help the poor, the widow, or the orphan....of friends who care most about popularity and of churches filled with hypocrites.
This time, the shock was in my eyes. Had I raised Lydia to believe our lifestyle somehow made us more holy than others?
So I asked her: "If right now, a reliable person were to make you this offer: 'Lydia, I will save 50 orphans if you will give up everything you have....those orphans will never want for anything again...they will be loved and provided for until their death...but with the condition that you give up your family, all of your belongings, your home, and all conveniences to live in a trailer alone for the rest of your life....and with the condition that no one could ever know the sacrifice you made'....would you do it? With the absolute 100% guarantee of saving those 50 orphans?"
Her eyes betrayed her again. Oh, how I love those eyes:
"Ummmmm, yes, of course I would do it." Her voice was so soft and pure. I can still hear the words escape from her mouth.
I turned to her, in the dark....with Hopey still jumping up and down like a caffeine drugged little bouncing bean....and I matter-of-factly said: "I wouldn't. In fact, I wouldn't do it to save 500 orphans....or even 5000 orphans. Heck, Lydia, I am ashamed to say I wouldn't do it to save every orphan on the planet."
She didn't even look at me, but instead fiddled with her fingers when she asked: "Why?"
"Because I am selfish; I am terribly rotten and selfish...that's why", I answered.
She immediately replied: "Me too. I didn't mean it when I said I'd save them, Mom. I am horrible. I wouldn't give my life up to save the orphans either. But why?"
And then it was time for God's appointment with us. Thankfully, I was ready for it even though it wasn't on my schedule for the evening.
"Because, Lydia, we are human and we live in a fallen world", I answered, "and that is the reason we need a Savior."
We talked for more than an hour....Hopey never stopped bouncing the entire time....Lydia and I in awe of what redemption truly means. Both of us grateful for a Creator who saw ahead and provided for us....and for a Father who loves us even though we are terribly rotten and selfish. We wrote this song about that gift of redemption; hope you like it:
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Two weeks ago, just before Natalie was to be transferred to the Residential Treatment Center in Illinois, we spent 13 hours in a studio recording 3 songs. Two of them were "for" Natalie. One of them an original song. Probably our way of coping.
One of the videos was shot in an alley clothed in waste. Graffiti was scribbled on the walls in remembrance of those who had entered the solitude of the place. Isn't it ironic? Every human being wants to be heard, even if the words are randomly spray painted in a remote alley where no one will ever see them.
Underneath a black metal stair case sat a single chair....oddly, it was all alone. It didn't fit in. Who would sit in this alley? Surrounded by trash? With nostrils taking in the stomach wrenching stench of food that had missed the nearby receptacles and had instead been aimlessly thrown out to rot on the ground? Who? And more important....why?
61 steps away.
That's all it would take. 61 steps.
Just get up from the chair and walk 61 steps....take one step at a time to find you are:
61 steps from the pulsing heart of a small town alive and bustling with functioning people....fathers who go to work every morning in order to provide food and shelter for their children, mothers who take their daughters to ballet practice each week, sons who play on the soccer team, aunts who sing in the local church choir, grandparents who have saved an inheritance to leave to their heirs, neighbors who are catching up on their front porches, and friends who will meet for dinner at a local restaurant that evening.
61 steps away. And yet, there is this lone single chair.
Natalie is in the chair. Life is going on all around her, only 61 steps away....but she is paralyzed in the chair.
Natalie and Chappy did not talk on the plane ride to Illinois. He said they both sat in silence as they anticipated what was ahead of them. Chappy in fear of rejection yet again....and Natalie feeling lost and alone. Her parting words to Chappy last weekend as he left her behind in a city that was spitting snow:
Chappy: "Nat, do you care at all about our family?"
Chappy: "Do you think you'll ever be ready to live at home with us again?"
61 steps away....but she sits in the chair, surrounding herself with the garbage that is the lies of the enemy who has told her she is not worthy to be loved....a place where she believes she belongs.
Isaiah Chapter 61....and the first verse:
"The Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the oppressed....and to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners"
Here is the video...the song is about rising above your circumstances....see if you can find the chair:
Friday, March 15, 2013
I guess I can see how some would view me that way. How some might even feel compelled to tell me they view me that way. I don't think the lady in the salon ever considered that I have been feeling the exact same way about "me". It is so terribly ironic. Really. Hey "friend", newsflash: I hate me too!
Be honest for a moment. How many mothers have you known who have sent their children away to residential treatment centers? How many mothers do you know who are unable to help their own children? I am the only one I know of.
But as always, in my weakness, God shows up strong and faithful. After being completely humiliated in the salon for what was probably only 3 or 4 minutes (but seemed like much longer), I turned to the lady sitting next to me. Picture this: my hair was covered in foils from highlights while her head was covered in red hair coloring....both of us obviously a sight to see....and I said in a whisper: "I am so sorry you had to hear that."
What else could I say? The truth was, I wanted to find the nearest hole and crawl into it. And I am certain she knew how I felt.
But she turned to me with her sopping wet hair and said: "For what it's worth, you handled that beautifully....I don't know that I would've sat and allowed someone to berate me that way." And then she struck up a conversation with me. She actually offered a hand of friendship to me.
I told her about our family and all we are going through right now....mentioning how difficult life has become. I cried. She cried. I began to shake with sobs.
She asked: "Do you believe in coincidences?" I answered: "No, I don't." She asked: "So you believe God is involved in everything?" I answered simply as I wiped tear after tear after tear from my eyes: "Yes."
Then she said the most profound thing: "What are the chances that today you would be seated by a momma who also has two special needs children?"
And there was God.
He wasn't in the form of a cloud. He wasn't in the form of a pillar of fire. He was wearing a smock with His hair covered in red dye in the form of a momma who has two special needs children. Oh, how He loves me. And oh, how he ministered to my broken heart through that precious lady.
Natalie leaves for a treatment center in the morning. She is actually excited about it because she sees it as being one step closer to getting back to Russia....she still says she hates me and cannot help her feelings....and believes all of her despair would disappear if she could re-enter the orphanage she came from. Her plan? To get the treatment center to see things her way.
I get it. If I were in Natalie's shoes, I might feel the exact same way. None of us "fit in" in this world. We all are looking to fill that missing piece within us....the piece that can only truly be filled when things are finally made right one day...when we are in the presence of our Lord and Savior.
In my brokenness....and in Natalie's brokenness...I know it sounds a bit strange, but I believe we are where the Father wants us. Perhaps He has placed us both on this journey. And one thing we certainly do have in common right now: we are equally desperate for Him!
Through this, I am learning how the Lord feels when we reject Him. And I'll tell you, it doesn't feel good at all to be rejected by your child. It is the most painful experience of my life.
Through this, I believe Natalie is seeking answers....and Jeremiah 29:13 promises "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart."
Please continue to pray for Natalie.....specifically pray that she will recognize God when He meets her there. I truly wish He would show up in a burning bush or in a thundering voice....just so she wouldn't miss Him....but who knows how He will show up to her? My prayer is only that she will "see".
"One thing I do know....I was blind, but now I see!" (John 9:25)
Thursday, March 7, 2013
"I hate you all and wish I had never met any of you!"
"Why didn't you leave me in Russia? That's where I was meant to be! When you adopted me, you stole me from my birth family!"
"I will kill myself if you keep me here! Just wait, you'll find me dead one morning....then you'll regret that you didn't listen to me!"
"I'm going to hurt Hope and Charlie....I'm that dangerous, Mom! You better send me back to Russia or you're going to regret it!"
All of these words have been spoken by Natalie. All are cries from a very broken girl. Wanting to be loved, but scared to accept love. Desperate to give love, but afraid to be vulnerable.
It wasn't always this way. Up until the age of 12, Natalie was very typical....happy, funny, silly, and care-free. She had a spark in her eyes....life in her eyes.
But then Natalie turns 12.....Enter our Arch Nemesis....I call it a demon from Hell:
Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)
RAD is caused when children are not nurtured during the first years of their lives. Often the disorder doesn't show up until a child reaches the age of puberty. That is the case with our Nat-Nat. But when it does rear its ugly head, it takes over the psyche like a tidal wave of destruction....with the sole purpose of wiping out everything in it's path....including the one it possesses.
Know this: It is absolute abuse to institutionalize a baby/child. But our world allows it every single day. Pro-lifers, need to quit patting themselves on the back and wake up! Most of us aren't really pro-life at all....simply put, we are anti-abortionists at best. To be pro-life would mean we would be fighting just as hard for those precious lives who have been locked away in institutions.
Today, my daughter is living in a hell that was forced upon her by a political system, a system of convenience.....And it makes me furious!!! I am watching the consequences of a system that is anti-Christ through the life of my 14 year old daughter.
How can we sit in our comfortable church pews week after week getting filled up on scripture when there are teenagers in our town who are cutting themselves, plotting their suicides, and managing their pain with drugs? millions of children being held captive in orphanages that are filled with abuse and neglect? thousands of children being sold into sex slavery each year? How can we know about the abuse of the least of these and do nothing? say nothing? For crying out loud, what would Jesus want us to do?
This world is upside down....we should be outraged by a system that leaves our most vulnerable in institutions.....we should be aghast that those children will grow up having to endure mental illnesses because they weren't nurtured.....we should be full of shame knowing that we spend more time deciding what type of coffee we'll drink than on the literal destruction of children. Pro-life? Really?
The picture above is of Chappy baptizing Lydia and Natalie....ON THAT DAY, NATALIE MADE A PLEDGE TO HER SAVIOR! I'm holding onto it.
We are working diligently to get Natalie to a treatment center that specializes in Reactive Attachment Disorders. If you want to honor Natalie, watch Lydia's two videos and spread the word....be a part of saving the lives of 5 orphans in honor of her. We need 700,000 views which is a near impossibility....but those lives are worth it:
"It is important to realize that we adopt not because we are rescuers. No. We adopt because we are the rescued!" ~David Platt
Friday, March 1, 2013
Lydia is attempting to do what most call "IMPOSSIBLE". She needs 700,000 views on her official music videos and will use the money earned through YouTube monetization to save 5 orphans who have special needs. By watching the video above, you are helping make that happen. The only cost is your time.
You can be a hero to 5 little angels....just spread the word.
For more information, check out: http://www.reecesrainbow.org/lydiahollis