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sign of the times

I didn’t stay up late last night and watch the election or keep checking the computer for the results. Instead I went to bed early. Not because I didn’t care, but because I did care. I have a very strong feeling about where we are today. It’s the same feeling I had last night and all the nights before that.

Everything’s going to be okay, even if it’s not okay.

I believe that. I have to. I’ve learned to. Sometimes things happen in life that don’t seem to make sense, and they’re scary, because you don’t know what the future holds. But God has a plan bigger than the one I can see and I have to trust Him.

It might get worse before it gets better though. My family can attest to that. But in the end, we are where we are for a reason, and someday – maybe not in this lifetime, or even this side of heaven – we’ll see things in a different light. I believe that too.

And in the meantime, though the world seems dark and scary... there are rays of hope that bring a smile back to our faces and renew our faith in mankind. This story is about one of those rays of hope...

Dolly called and talked with me last week.

She’s gonna be here this Saturday doing a concert in our barn for Indy and her friends. Well, not Dolly exactly. But Indiana’s Dolly is. It’s the person on tv that our little girl admires and loves most. Just like Joey loved her hero Dolly...

Her name is Rachel.

In 1996, she had a baby with special needs, like we have. Only Rachel’s daughter Leah was deaf. So Rachel learned sign language. To teach it to her baby, so they could communicate. Little did she know, it was going to change their lives, and ours.

Fast-forward twenty years or so and here we are. Leah is grown. In college now, and the sign language that she and her mama learned is still how they communicate to each other. That, and also how they communicate with us, and thousands of other parents and children all around the world. Rachel’s story is amazing. If you time, you can read about it HERE... and even more of it HERE. The quick version is that, not long after Rachel and Leah learned sign language, they started teaching to others. Then they, along with Rachel’s husband and sister and nephew, made a TV show and started teaching it to strangers.

We first learned about Signing Time from our neighbor’s Gabe and Mandy. Their little girl Scout started watching Rachel’s videos and was ‘talking’ to her mama and daddy with her hands soon after.

So when Indiana was born, Mandy told Joey about Baby Signing Time and gave us a copy so we could teach Indy. Joey started playing the videos for our little one when she was just over a year old. In no time, Indy was signing “more” and “please” to us. We were stunned. We knew it would be a year or more before Indy would be able to say real words to us, so when she started signing, we were so proud and excited. But not as excited as Indiana was. She came alive when she watched the videos. They weren’t just entertainment, they were connection. Connection to her mama and daddy and to the world around her.

For the next year, Joey continued teaching Indy to sign. She taught her in a rocker at bedtime, on her potty seat in the mornings, in hotel rooms and tourbuses and in the end, Joey continued teaching her from her hospital bed.

If you had asked Joey, she would have told you that it was Rachel who was teaching Indy sign language, and she (and I) were just going over the words with Indy that she was already learning. First it was a few words, then dozens, and then hundreds. Learning ASL was Indiana’s favorite thing to do. It still is. Just yesterday morning, I sat on the carpet beside her bookshelf and asked her to pick what book she wanted me to read to her before heading to school, and she didn’t pick a book. Instead, she picked a pack of cards, full of signs. She would rather learn, than be read to. What a gift that is.

Which brings me to Dolly, I mean Rachel.

A couple weeks ago, out of the blue... I received an email from Rachel. Though we’d read all about her story and had the videos, we of course didn’t know her or her family. In the email I received, Rachel said she’d been hearing from people that Indy was watching her videos and so she had gone online and started reading about us and following our story. And like her story had moved us, “our story moved her,” she said. And she said she wanted come to Tennessee and do something for Indy and her friends. And so, this Saturday night... that’s going to happen. Indy doesn’t know anything about it. Rachel and her family are flying in tomorrow evening and on Friday afternoon, she and Leah are going to come to Indy’s school and do a little performance for all the kids at High Hopes. And then on Saturday eve at 5:30, they’re going to do a longer performance in our barn/concert hall for Indy and a lot other kids and their parents. And our neighbor Gabe and some other folks are filming the show and they're even going to live-stream it, so folks all around the country can watch if they’d like to. Proceeds from the live-stream are going to help the Loey’s-Dietz Syndrome Foundation... the organization that does research to helps kids like Scout who need all the help they can get. You can learn more about the live-stream HERE.

I can’t begin to tell you what this would mean to Joey if she was here. To see the barn that was where we did our concerts, filled with kids singing along with songs from Signing Time... and Scout and Indy in the front row. I can imagine the big smile on Joey’s face and the tears in her eyes, just knowing that this family who has already done so much for ours, wants to do more.

And so, yes Dolly is coming. Indy’s Dolly is coming.

Shhhh... don’t tell her. It’s going to be a surprise...



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