Monday, March 23, 2015

"Listen to Your Mother"--Passions Combined

What do you do when some of your specific passions come together in one setting? For me, I have been doing a happy dance! Before I share the reason for my rejoicing, though, here's a bit of background...

I have always been passionate about writing. My first book attempt came in 5th grade with my pencil written story entitled "The Land of the Unicorns." I had high hopes of a published children's book with colorful and engaging illustrations and a wide audience of readers. My story never made it off of the notebook paper, but at least I was starting to dream! Since then the love for writing has only increased with each passing year. There is something so magical about carving out words and sentences with description and feeling, communicating my thoughts and passions through letters on a page and having the opportunity to connect with the hearts of readers, some of whom I will never meet face to face. Since beginning this blog and later publishing my book, I have been especially passionate about sharing our amazing journey in the world of "Holland" as we raise a child with special needs. It is my desire to create greater awareness concerning Down syndrome, to demonstrate the beauty and value of children who happen to carry an extra chromosome, and to share the goodness and faithfulness of my Savior every step of the way.

We will now move on to passion number two. I was very much one of the shy kids in my school growing up. I was soft-spoken and easily intimidated by my peers. When I enrolled in the required speech class during my junior year of high school, I did so with fear and trembling. When the time came for me to deliver my first speech, I walked up to the front with clammy hands and a pounding heart. However, as soon as I opened my mouth and the words began to form on my tongue, I found myself coming alive and made the shocking discovery that I absolutely love public speaking! That love evolved into a passion for theater in college, during which time I performed in three musicals and two stage plays. As an adult I have enjoyed various opportunities to preach, teach, and lead worship in a number of settings, and while I may still experience butterflies in the stomach at times, I love every moment of it!

So...back to my happy dance! In January I was introduced to an annual show called "Listen to Your Mother." To quote directly from their website, "The mission of each LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER production is to take the audience on a well-crafted journey that celebrates and validates mothering through giving voice to motherhood–in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor–in the form of original readings performed live on-stage by their authors" ( This year, shows will be held in 39 cities across the U.S. including Oklahoma City. Each live show is recorded and broadcast on the LTYMShow YouTube channel over the summer. My mother, also a passionate writer, and I were encouraged to submit a piece of original writing for the OKC show and wait to see what would happen. As soon as I learned about this event, something inside of me leaped and said "Yes! I want to do that!" I was thrilled when we were both invited to come and audition our pieces for an opportunity at landing a spot in the production. A few weeks ago we made the three hour drive to OKC on a beautiful sunny day for our 10 minute audition slots. It was worth every mile! (Of course we were sure to stop somewhere for a sweet treat before commencing our journey home). I was glowing later that night after receiving a phone call offering me a spot on the show and learning that my mom had received a similar call!

The next month will be very busy with multiple trips to OKC to meet with fellow cast members, rehearse the show, and culminate on the actual production day at Will Rogers Theater on April 26 at 2:30 p.m. I feel extremely humbled and honored to have this unique opportunity to join my voice with the voices of other mothers around the nation and share a little portion of my journey with an audience I would have never had the chance to touch otherwise. Getting to share this experience with my own mother makes it extra special!

To learn more about the Listen to Your Mother Show and this year's OKC cast, follow the link below:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

From Heaven's Eyes

This week I came across a startling article on entitled "7 Incredibly Shocking Quotes from Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger." As a white supremacist and a eugenicist, she was determined to purge society of those she referred to as "human weeds," and the "dead weight of human waste...human beings who never should have been born at all." She had a deep disdain for minority groups, especially African Americans, as well as those who were poor, those who had immigrated to America, those who had disabilities and those who had diseases. She was even quoted as saying, "We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro Population." The following quote sums up her main goal in founding Planned Parenthood. "Birth control is nothing more or less than...weeding out the unfit." Today, the money-making abortion giant has built its bloody empire off of this woman's evil ideals.

My heart was filled with grief as I went on to watch a short video attached the article. It shared statistically that, while African Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population, they account for 30% of abortions. Abortion is currently the leading cause of death in this precious community, greater than all other causes combined. As I sorrowed over these horrible realities, I though of my own son. While individuals with Down syndrome make up a very small percent of the overall population, the abortion statistics are sky high, with over 90% of women who receive a pre-natal diagnosis choosing to end the life of their child. All I could think was, "How many lives have been destroyed? How many destinies have been lost?" The numbers are staggering.

Later that same day Shawn and I attended an incredible community worship service called "Releasing the Sounds of Heaven." I was deeply impacted by a beautiful group of people who I didn't even know would be there. At least 17 young people, ranging in ages from young adulthood down to childhood gathered at the front, forming a small band and choir. Most of them were either African American or Native American. The most incredible thing is that they are all connected to the same family through adoption. An elderly Caucasian woman who has had these children on her heart since her childhood has adopted the majority of them, and her daughter has followed in her footsteps, adopting several herself. One of the lead singers introduced their group and shared that though they all came from broken backgrounds, they are not allowing that to hold them back, but are stepping into the plans and purposes of God in their lives. I later learned that they all get together a few times a week to spend time with each other and to worship Jesus through their original music. I found myself weeping as I looked at all these beautiful faces, each one created in the image of God, whose lives were not destroyed and whose destinies have not been lost. Their birth mothers chose to give them life, and some extraordinary families have seen the treasure in each child, taking them in as their own and raising them up to be world changers!

Once again, I think of my sweet son Benjamin, who just happens to carry an extra chromosome. There are those in the world who would see him as "defective" or "damaged." There are those who would even go so far as to say that he should have never been born. However, my son's life looks very different from Heaven's eyes. According to Ephesians 1:4, God "chose (Benjamin/insert your own name) in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight." There is something unique that my son brings to the world that no one else can bring. There is a portion of the heart of God that cannot be seen in anyone else than him. This is true of each and every life. Sadly there are many lives that never discover their God-given destinies, but this does not change the fact that each individual carries purpose, even from the womb. May we learn to recognize, honor and value each an every life through Heaven's eyes!

The picture below is a few years old now, but I believe it captures the beautiful reality of the grace on my son's life to connect with Heaven and the God Who loves him so much. Benjamin, may your life always resound with the testimony of the goodness, faithfulness, power, and eternal love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!