A Little Girl Died Today

There is a little girl named Annie Golden who died today.   She was a beautiful soul with a smile that could light up a room.   She died because she didn’t get a heart transplant. She died because she was not thought “worthy” enough to even be put on the list. Annie had Down syndrome.   This cognitive disability would prevent her from even being put on the transplant list.   My heart absolutely breaks for the family of this girl.

Little Annie Golden

You see, I have a little girl with Down syndrome.   She turned 6 months old yesterday.   My little girl’s name is Joy.   She is the youngest of my four children.   The last 6 months have changed my life in so many ways.

My journey started as most parents who have any child with special needs. It started out with ignorance. Like most people, I had been around people with special needs, but I’d never been a parent of a child with special needs, nor did I have a close family member with special needs to know and love.

So, in the beginning when my precious girl was born, I was ignorant. I only knew what I had been told by the culture at large. I only knew fear. Fear for the future. Fear of what others would think.   I had fear of my life being over or completely re-directed.   Fear that my child would be nothing more than a despised member of society by the culture at large.

LIES!! These were all lies!

After 6 months, I CANNOT adequately express how much joy, love, and hope my little Joy has brought into my life and the lives of the people around her. She is every bit as valuable as any of my other children.   In fact, I often feel sorry for my other three children because anyone who meets Joy is such a fool about her.   She is full of life!   She is full of love!   SHE IS A GIFT!   She is just how God wanted her to be. I wouldn’t change anything about my little girl. As a dad I would do whatever is in my power to help her if she was sick. I would try to move mountains to get her a heart if she needed it.

I was ignorant about how wonderful my daughter would be. I was also ignorant to a heinous evil that is going on towards people with Down syndrome.

They are being MURDERED!   They are being systematically eliminated by those who are called to protect life. It seems one of the main enemies of little children like mine are the very doctors who take an oath to protect and to save lives.

The reality is that the blood tests performed in a woman’s pregnancy are solely done so that the mother can choose to terminate her baby, and 90% of the time they do in the case of Down syndrome. So many times my wife and I have heard stories from parents of children with Down syndrome that their doctors actually advised an abortion or presented it as an option when they did not present it as an option before the test.   It is obvious that these children are not deemed “worthy” by the medical community as a whole.

Back to little Annie…she died this morning. It seems that the deciding factor to her being able to get a heart transplant was her cognitive ability. Did she have other factors? I am sure she did.   Anyone who needs a heart transplant will have some other factors, but once again, it seems the deciding factor was her IQ.

So now it seems an IQ test is needed for who lives and who dies. If you can score high enough on a standardized test then you are valuable enough to be given a chance at life. This is sick and it is wrong.

This is an actual CIVIL RIGHTS issue.   People with Down syndrome did not choose Down syndrome. It is part of their DNA. Where are the parades of people crying out that the murder of innocent children with disabilities be stopped?   Where is the outrage over little ANNIE?

What is valuable?

American Culture values net worth, IQ, and sex appeal. The God I serve values something different.   Here is what He says.

“1 Corinthians 13:1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”


My daughter may never have the highest score on the ACT. Little Annie may have never won the Spelling Bee, but I can promise you that my daughter and thousands of other children and adults like her with DS have been given an extra dose of what God says is most important: LOVE!!   I propose to you that just maybe those whom the culture is murdering are the ones we NEED THE MOST




This morning I had one of those frustrating and eye opening moments as I dropped my son off for school.  As I approached the school there was a small SUV in front of me that dropped off a precious little blonde haired girl excited to start her day.   She waved back to her mother and blew her a kiss.  It just so happened that this car was going the same direction as me.   I followed this car for about 5-6 miles.   As I followed this busy mom I became so frustrated I was literally SCREAMING at her from inside my truck.  Not once, not twice, but three times this mom ran across the center line of traffic and halfway into the lane of oncoming traffic before she would quickly correct her course.   One of these times she came very close to hitting an oncoming truck.  Even after this near brush with death the woman continued her erratic driving.  I was so tempted to follow her to where she was going and remind her that her little daughter and possibly husband needed her and she needed to stop looking at her phone and pay attention to the road!  I abstained from giving this woman a tongue-lashing.  I have all too often done the same thing.  My wife has gently scolded me as she reminds me that one glance at my phone could end my life.   This morning’s encounter reminded me that life is frail but so many other things have been reminding me of the same truth today.

Here are a few gentle nudges the Holy Spirit has given me.  Last night me healthy 38-year-old brother had a major surgery removing part of his colon.  The doctor said he would be in the hospital for at least two weeks with a very difficult recovery ensuing.   This morning I picked up the local paper and it had a picture of an awful wreck that killed a local man in my community.  Kenny Chesney’s song, “Don’t Blink” was on the radio this morning as I was driving to work.  All of these incidents remind me of the frail existence I take for granted most days.

The Bible tells us over and over again that life is short, frail, and fleeting.   The Bible describes the brevity of life as a blade of grass, a flower, and a vapor.  It is here one minute and gone the next.  This series of events in my life led me to the question as I was driving to work this morning, “If I died today would I be satisfied with the life that I’ve lived?”  The basic answer I came up with was, “yes and no.”  Yes, I am very satisfied! I am thankful for the job I have.  I am blessed with the best family and friends a person could ask for.  And, no, there are so many moments I am wasting and so many people I need to help and encourage.

I simply enjoy life.  I hurt…I go through trouble…I face people that do not like me, but when I take a step back and look at all my blessings it is vital to just stop, thank God, and enjoy life.


1)  Time does not stop nor does it slow down. 

2)  Our health is more fragile than we think it is.

3)  Death is coming to every one of us sooner than we think it is.


I want to make my life count, as I am sure you do as well.  I want to challenge you for one week to do 4 things that busyness has prevented you from doing.

1)   HUG AND KISS YOUR SPOUSE (If you have one) FOR 1 FULL MINUTE EACH DAY – No, not the peck on the cheek or the quick hug as you are running out the door.  Take a solid minute…a whole minute…just wrap yourself up in their embrace and with all that you can, remind them that you deeply love them.


3)   HAVE MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS WITH THE MOST MEANINGFUL PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE.  Most parents are so busy taking their children places they never take the time to stop and look their children in the eyes and just talk with them.  Would you take 5 minutes of your time today to talk to them…no phone…no distractions…just them and you.

4)   PRAY FOR 10 SOLID MINUTES.  No phone.  No Internet.  No Ipad.  No prayer sheet.   Take 10 minutes.  Sit in His presence.  Listen.  Talk.  This will radically change your life.

Do these 4 things for a week and I will promise you they will enrich your life. Water-Glass

The Horror Of Having A Child With Down Syndrome

Horror!  That is quite a word.   It is a word that makes me think back to when I was a kid and saw my first Dracula movie.  I was so scared that I had nightmares for weeks (Now vampires sparkle but that is a blog for another day).  Horror is a terrifying word and yet when people think about their supposedly healthy child being born with the condition of Down syndrome (DS) the word Horror comes to mind.  It is almost like a death sentence.   This is not what you expected.  This is not what you had hoped for.   So much to learn…so much to do…so much to think about.

Since our daughter Joy was born with DS everyone one asks me, “How are you and Charyl?”  “How is Joy?”

I have to be completely honest with you.  I am not going to hold back the bitter truth…

Joy has been the most delightful child I could imagine!

Here are some real horrors we have experienced with our little Joy

THE HORROR OF SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT – Joy is now 11 weeks old and she has slept through the night since we brought her home.  Our other children have not been sleepers.  We went almost a solid year without a good nights sleep with our twin girls.  Joy’s awesome sleeping schedule has allowed Charyl and I to be able to quickly adjust to the needs of a family of 6.

THE HORROR OF SNUGGLINESS – Apparently snuggliness is not a word but I am making it up because it so accurately describes Joy.  She is the cuddliest child imaginable.   I have nicknamed her “Snuggles.”  She is like having a little warmer full of love on your chest.  If you could somehow package love and hold it in your arms my little girl would be what you would come up with.

THE HORROR OF SUPER BIG SMILES, TONS OF BABY NOISES, AND PLAYFUL EXCITEMENT – I don’t want you to get the impression that Joy sleeps all the time or does not interact.  She loves to interact with everyone she comes in contact with.  She is very social.   She “talks” all the time.   She loves for her brother and sisters to talk with her and play with her.

I will not say that our experience with Joy is typical of all parents who have children with Downs.   Many children have open-heart surgery during the first few weeks of their life.  Some children with DS have many different health issues.  However, I will say that the joy found in parenting a child with DS seems to be unanimously wonderful across the board.  I have had the opportunity to meet a number of parents who have children with DS and all of them have such a deep love and appreciation for their child.

The only real horror of downs is the same horror I have for all of my children.

It is the horror of fear.

The horror of fear of the future that has not yet come and may never be.  Fear and worry are brothers from the same father, Satan.  They say that worry is a down payment on something that you may never need to pay for.

Fear is satanic in nature.   When we worry we are saying to God that we cannot trust Him with our future.   We cannot trust Him with our children.

2 Timothy 1:7 God didn’t give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful. He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love. It helps us control ourselves.

I cannot speak about what God has in the future for Joy, or any of my other children.   I can speak of what I know.  I know that God has been faithful to my family and I.  I know He WILL continue to be faithful.  Joy’s DS has just given us one more reason to trust our heavenly Father more, for that I am eternally grateful. IMG_3069 IMG_3244 IMG_2933


My wife is gloriously pregnant with our 4th child.   She is beautiful.   I love her round belly.  I love to put my hand on it and feel our little daughter moving inside.   I love the “pregnancy glow” that my wife shines about.   With each pregnancy we go through I am more grateful for the sacrifices my wife makes in order to bring children into the world


Each pregnancy has its difficulties.   It starts of with a few months of sickness.  Morning and evening spent nauseous and throwing up as her body adjusts to the new life forming within her.  Those first couple of months she is very tired and finds it hard to find the energy to do very much.  Next, her clothes stop fitting and she has to switch over to maternity clothing.  She then has a brief window during the second trimester that affords relative ease and enjoyment.   Then the 3rd trimester comes.   This is the hardest.  Her back hurts.  Her legs hurt.   It is very difficult to sleep at night and to get comfortable.  Her walk becomes a waddle.  Stairs and everyday movements become more restricted.   Bending over to pick something up becomes a challenge.  The closer she gets to the due date the more miserable it gets.   She goes through all this because she knows that the little life God is creating within her is worth the entire struggle.   I have found that through each pregnancy the most difficult effects for my wife to endure are not physical but emotional.   With each pregnancy I have seen her become discouraged by how others respond to her changing body.   This has really made me love her more because of her sacrifice.

Some things about middle school and high school I can remember pretty vividly.  These are some of the hardest times in life as you are self conscious about the way you look and how others perceive you.  Some kids are skinny and some are overweight.   Some are smart and some are jocks.   I don’t think any person makes it out of middle school undamaged.  We have all been ridiculed and hurt by the words of others.

Acne was particularly embarrassing to me.  I had a reoccurring large zit that would come up on the tip of my nose and it dominated my life and thoughts.   It didn’t help that my close friends would call me ‘Rudolph’ (thanks Carson J) and ridicule me about it.   I can remember not wanting to see anyone, not wanting to go to school for fear of embarrassment, and every time I spoke with someone I was sure that all they were thinking about was the large abnormality on my nose.   There was nothing I could do about my nose condition, but after a few days it would go away and life would be back to normal.

As I have seen my wife struggle as she gets dressed and looks at her ever-expanding belly in the mirror.  Little comments people make deject her.   Most people do not realize how they make her feel.   Most of us don’t think through how our words will make others feel.  People say things like, “You haven’t had that baby yet?”  “Are you having two again?”  “You still have HOW MANY months left?”  Most of the people that say these things are friends, family and well meaning loved ones.  Each time I hear someone say something like that to my wife it hurts me because I know she must feel like I did as a middle school kid facing ridicule.  Motherhood is a special calling that should be held in honor among all things.   I am so thankful for what my mother endured to give me life.   Most of us know someone right now who is pregnant.  As you think about moms and pregnant women let me offer a few suggestions when speaking to them.

Only say uplifting words to pregnant women.  If you cannot say anything nice then don’t say anything at all.  Here are some statements that would be appropriate: “You look great!”  “Congratulations.”  “Pregnancy looks so good on you.”  “I can’t wait to meet your new baby.”  “Is there anything you need?”  “Is there anything I can do to help you?”

Don’t say anything that might verify what the pregnant lady already feels about the way she looks. I listed a few of these above but here are a few more to watch out for: “That’s going to be a BIG baby!”  “Wide load coming through!”  “How you doing, Big Mama?”   Just a quick reminder even if you are being sarcastic…sarcasm almost always hurts.

Let’s do all we can to watch our words and be sensitive to those who give life.

1 Timothy 2:15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

The Wonder Of It All

Psalm 40:5 Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You.   If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count.

I love doing things with my children.  Usually it is hard for me to get the energy to do what I need to do as a dad, but when I do what I should I never regret it.   I often regret moments of selfishness when I do not spend the time I need with my little ones.   At the time of this writing my twin girls are age three.  For their third birthday we bought them little princess bicycles with streamers and training wheels.  They were so excited to get their bikes and wanted to ride them right away.  They often rode tricycles at their grandparent’s house so I thought the transition would be a breeze…I was wrong.  I have taken them out many times to teach them to ride.  Each time we tried we would all end up frustrated and crying.   They were fearful and could not figure out the braking process.   As soon as they would slowly inch forward they would cry out, “Daddy!  Daddy!”  Each time I took them out to try to ride they would discover something new.   They would inch a little further.  Yesterday we went for a ride and they took off like never before.  This bike riding adventure gives a clear illustration of the bigger picture in parenting.  We inch them along day by day and then one day (tears) they no longer need us to hold them up.  This is the goal and blessing of parenting.  I try to keep in my mind each day that these few brief years I have small children cannot be wasted.  Soon they will ride away and start their own families.

We have many responsibilities to our children but we do not go unpaid.  Each day, if we make ourselves available and aware, our children provide for us priceless treasures in themselves.  They laugh, smile, hug, love, learn, and shine with the wonder of life that we as parents often forget.  We get bogged down with stress, bills, deadlines and responsibilities.  Children are our treasures that ground us to the joy and wonder of life.   Don’t miss the treasures that they are offering you today.


A tripwire is a passive triggering mechanism. Typically, a wire or cord is attached to some device for detecting or reacting to physical movement.  Tripwires are frequently used in boobytraps, whereby a tug on the wire (or release of tension on it) will detonate the explosives.

Tripwires are almost invisible and usually when a soldier has discovered the wire it’s too late.   These tripwires have killed thousands in battle over the years.   I believe there are many tripwires that can be explosive in the home.   It is important for dads to recognize these tripwires in their own lives before it is too late and they do permanent damage to their children and wives.  It seems that so many people are damaged for life because of some wound their dad has inflicted upon their heart.  Daddy wounds can take a lifetime to heal and sometimes never do.   Here are 6 tripwires I believe all dad’s need to be careful not to cross


THE WORK WIRE – All me were made to work and a lazy man is really no man at all.   If we are honest something happens when we get a family.  We deeply love our children and our wife but coming home feels like a lot like work.  It is work.  The work of being a father and a husband is often more emotionally taxing than our actual job.   In order to avoid the stress of dealing with problems at home many men simply work longer hours and use work as their excuse not to come home.  Anyone who says that a stay at home mom does not work is crazy.  I know if I were a stay at home mom there would be many days I would be glad to deal the corporate workplace instead of whining, potty training, and 1000’s of “I’m Hungry’s” and “She won’t share’s.”  When you are tempted to work late remember that your time at home is short and your kid’s and wife desperately need you.  You may bring home a paycheck, but it is even more important that your bring yourself home to serve your family.


THE CHECKOUT WIRE – I have heard so many ridiculous excuses.  “I just don’t love the children’s mother any more.”  “Doesn’t God want me to be happy?”  “They are probably better off without me.”   Men use these and other reasons to check out on their families.  Real men stay.  They make it work.   They don’t abandon their children while pacifying their conscience with a monthly check.  Go to counseling.   Learn to forgive.  Get in a small group at a church where you can get support. But for heaven sake DON’T QUIT!


THE HOBBY WIRE – Fishing, hunting, golf, exercise and any other hobby that you may love are wonderful ways to enjoy life and relieve stress.   Be careful not to do them in excess.  If you are going to have hobbies make sure they are things you can do with your children.   Remember you will have time for hobbies when your children are gone.


THE VICARIOUS LIVING WIRE – If you are a dad you believe your children are special (If you don’t you should).   You believe your son is particularly gifted at sports and your daughter is the best dancer and pianist in the bunch.   I am glad you believe in your child.   You should offer them healthy support and encourage them to do and be their best.   But be careful not to push them to try to be something you want more than they do.  Don’t be the dad that curses the umpire out at the game.  Don’t be the dad that has a talk with or pay the little league coach to get your kid in the game.  Don’t be the dad that pushes your child to excel so much in their particular field that they no longer enjoy the joy of childhood.   Don’t try to make them the athlete, student, musician, or popular kid that you never were.  Let them be who God made them to be and love them for who they are, whether they make it to the big leagues or not.


THE GROUCH WIRE – Maybe you are with them but you don’t have fun with them.   You are so focused on them being perfect that you never take the time to laugh with them, tickle them, and play with them.   Leave work at work.   Turn of the TV and get off your phone.  Don’t take your stress out on your children.  I think we are all guilty of this one from time to time.


THE PORNOGRAPHY WIRE – This is one that is blowing up families everywhere.  Whether you are the good dad with the secret habit or the man who doesn’t try to hide this issue.  More families than ever are severely effected by the viral plague of pornography.   Pornography turns people into objects.   It turns your mind into an insatiable lust machine.   It makes your wife feel unloved and insufficient.  One result that may be most harmful is how it disturbs your children.  Your son’s will likely take on your dirty habit and not be able to see women as the treasure that God made them.  They will view young ladies as a object of their desire.   Pornography makes you awkward around your little daughter especially if her body is changing.  You cannot have your teenage daughter’s friend’s over without lusting after them and you cannot show affection towards your daughter as you should.   You become awkward hugging her and giving her the innocent affection that she needs and craves from her father.   If you can’t give it to her then she will find male attention somewhere.  She will probably find some hormone crazed teenage boy who will be glad to give her attention in all the wrong ways.  Your addiction could blow up her security for the rest of her life. trip-wire


Proverbs 4:1 Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, And give attention that you may gain understanding

            There are so many horrible examples of fatherhood today.  The Lord graciously blessed me with a God honoring dad.  Maybe you didn’t have a great dad, through this blog I want to share my dad with you.   You can learn from him as I have.

The past few days my parent’s have been visiting with us in celebration of my son’s 6th birthday.  It has been such a blessing to spend some time with mom and dad.   As I am often reflecting on fatherhood I wanted to share a few truths that my dad’s life has taught and continues to teach me.

LOVE YOUR WIFE – My dad is not a typical romantic, in fact from a Hollywood prospective he is actually pretty terrible at romance.  However, my dad deeply loves my mother, she knows it and so does every one else.   Recently my mother has been through a physical ordeal with a botched surgery that almost killed her.   After over a month in the hospital she was able to go home.   Dad has been her nurse.  He has had to dress her wounds and help her in every way.   My mother also has many problems with her back and is not able to sleep on a flat mattress any longer.  She sleeps in a recliner.   I was talking to mom this weekend and we were discussing options for her to get a mattress that she may be able to sleep on.   I made the comment to her that I am sure dad misses having her warmth near him at night since they sleep in different rooms because of her back.   To that she said to me, “Oh, he doesn’t sleep in a different room.  Ever since I have come home from the hospital he sleeps beside me on the couch to make sure I am ok.”   Wow!  That is romance.  What a great lesson on teaching me how to love my wife.  I hope I can be like that one day.

SERVE YOUR FAMILY WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT – Being a dad is hard work.  Sometimes being a dad is no fun at all.  It means you park the car and run through the rain while you let everyone else off at the entrance.  It means you give up your jacket when someone in the family is cold.   It means you cut up your children’s food before you eat your own.   I have witnessed my dad selflessly give of himself and I can’t remember him ever complaining about it.   I can remember late one night when I as 18 or 19 and I acquired a flat tire.   I looked underneath my truck and I had no light and no way of changing the tire.   Who did I call?   Dad!   He’d been in bed for hours.  He came and helped me change my tire.  He smiled and told me he was sorry I had a flat.   He never complained.  I hope I can be like that one day.

BE INVOLVED – He watched “He-Man” with me, coached my little league teams (to multiple championships), took me camping, and took me to help him in the garden.   He took me fishing.   He took me to church.  He never missed a high school football or soccer game that I played in.   He even came and watched practice.   He was always the loudest one.   He had a nickname for me.   He called me “Tank.”  I can remember on cold nights in Florida during soccer season the crowd would be a dismal 20 people bundled up in blankets quietly cheering us on.   In the quite crowd I heard the loud voice of my dad, “KICK IT TANK!  GET EM TANK!   SCORE TANK!”  To be real honest it embarrassed me at the time.  Now with deep affection it brings tears to my eyes as I think about his voice.  Even today as a write this his support continues.  My dad and mom were supposed to leave on Monday morning of this week but they stayed another day because I am preaching a revival.   They stayed an extra day to hear me preach, to encourage me, to lift me up.   I hope I can be like that one day.

MODEL FAITH – I can remember many mornings waking up to find my dad on his knees praying (probably for my brothers and I) and reading his Bible.   Each week he calls me and prays with me over the phone.   He serves his church.   I don’t think he has ever met someone he didn’t like.  He seems to really think of others as more important than himself.   I hope I can be like that one day.


LAUGH A LOT – My dad told me when he was growing up his nickname was  “Sunshine.”   I’m guessing it’s because he’s always laughing and smiling.   My dad has a high-pitched laugh that we heard often in our home growing up.   He is a fun guy that little kids are drawn too.  My friends always loved my dad when I was a kid because he always took an interest in them.  We never had “inside” dogs growing up.  One way my dad thought would be an effective way to wake my brothers and I up was to throw a Dachshund on us in the morning and allow them to lick us awake…not pleasant, but he thought it was funny.   I hope I can be like that one day.

BE MORE – I never had the chance to meet my grandfather.  Apparently he was a brilliant man.  I never got to meet him because he was an alcoholic.  He had so many gifts but alcohol would rob my dad of the father he needed.  It would have been easy and natural for my dad and his brothers to go down the same path.  Alcoholic’s children often suffer the same fate as their parents.   The Grace of God, a loving mother, the prayers of a Godly wife, and a desire in my dad to be the dad he never had made him different.  I have never seen him drunk.  He has never abused me in a fit of rage.  He chose to be different.  He chose to be more!   I know his prayer for me is not that I become him but that I become all that God wants me to be.  My prayer for my son is not that he walks in my path but that he takes the next step as a follower of Christ and lover of people.     I hope I can be like that one day…

These are some things I am learning from my dad.   My mom is even better J I will write about her soon.   What are some things you have learned (good or bad) from your dad?