Tuesday, February 28, 2012


From Susan Hillis:

One of my favorite parts of today was the collect call I received at 7:30 this morning from the Clayton County Jail. It was my daughter, who calls me almost daily. She had an amazing testimony to share with me, but wait, I am getting ahead of myself! Let me give you some background....

My Hefty List
As a mom of 10 kids there were many 'what if's' that I considered from time to time when they were young, in moments of anxiety. What if one of my children grows up to make those kinds of choices that land someone in jail;  what if one of them makes the kind of choices that lead to a serious infectious disease like hepatitis C, or what if one of them makes the choices that lead to a teen pregnancy? My 'what if's' formed a pretty hefty list.  (There were many other 'what if's that never occurred to me in my wildest imagination, which I have indeed faced, but that will be the story for another post).  My insightful husband would comment from time to time, when I allowed words to grant expression to my worries, "Sweetie, I would much rather have a prodigal than an older brother." While given those two options, I agreed, however, my real preference was simply that we raise 10 disciples.

I Focused My Energies on Loving Her
Well, one of my 'what if's' did in fact come to pass.  And I, ever bent or Rescue and Hope and Restoration, have stood in awe to see the gracious Hand of God reaching out and touching my dear sweet young adult child as she walks into danger! This daughter (who had RAD characteristics growing up) has lived in various Atlanta hotels and been in and out of jail five times over the past two years. She is in again right now, this time for violating probation. Deeply hurt before we adopted her at age 10, the combination of counseling, all the love we could give, faith, and careful attention to school environment, just were not enough to bring her into full healing and wholeness. But they were enough to connect us so deeply that she knows, even now, that we continue to be her family.  In fact we were just planning last night which of us will go visit her at the jail this week. The Lord was also so tender, to connect her deeply to Himself during her 8 years in our home before she decided she was in love with a homeless young man in downtown Atlanta and would be living with him. When every attempt of mine to push her away from him ended up pushing her away from me instead, I determined to place my energies and focus rather on loving her, keeping the relationship, praying for her, and encouraging her to walk into the future God has for her.

So, from the Jail, we have these wild conversations several times a week.  Right after she went in this time, we sent her a Bible through Barnes and Noble (jails have a nice system for allowing this!), and she was delighted.  Soon I was hearing stories like this:  "Mommy, I have lots of people reading my Bible; I read it an hour at 4 in the morning when they get us up for breakfast and I read it an hour after lunch. Hey mommy, can you send my friend T.... a Bible just like mine so that we can study it together? Her prison number is xxxxxxx." (And in the background of my mind I almost chuckle as I am hearing John Valjean from Les Miserable belting out the famous measures from "Who am I?.....Two-four-six-0-one.") And I wonder, what kind of hearts may be hiding inside those bodes down at that jail.....

The Voice in the Vent
So here is my story from my talk with my daughter this morning: 

"Mommy, I am thinking of leaving my boyfriend when I get out of jail." 
Surprised, I say, "Oh, sweetie, I think that would really help you walk towards putting God first in your life, and using the talents He has given you.  You have such an amazing gift of mercy and service.  What has caused you to think of leaving your boyfriend?"
She replies, "Mommy, I have met a boy here through the vent (this is how guys and girls talk to each other - through the heating vents!) He is a strong believer and he reads his Bible every day like I do and we are talking about what we are reading. I told him my mommy and daddy want me to like a different boy who is following God and who doesn't live in a hotel and who has a job and who will take care of me. Well, mommy, he said, 'I think your mama is right and I agree with her. When you get out I think you should decide now that you are not going to go back with him.'"  Inside, I thank the Lord for putting this wonderful voice speaking truth, into her life.

I then tell her about the Andy Stanley talk I listened to yesterday on how much Jesus cares that we use our talents - that it doesn't really matter to Him whether we feel like we have a lot of talents or a few; it only matters that we use the ones He has given us. And I read her Matthew 25, the Parable of the Talents.  After I finished, I mentioned I expected some hard meetings at work and asked her to pray for me before we said goodbye.  Her prayer went something like this, "Lord Jesus, thank you for mommy and thank you that You are going to help give her wisdom today in her mind and in her words. I pray she will feel You helping her with her meetings and she will be able to have peace. Thank you for the food you give us and for how much we have, when so many people have so little. Amen."

And do you know what?  The Lord did for me today just what she asked of Him. I seem to have lost my fear of the 'what if's.'


  1. What an encouraging story! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you so much, Jenny. The story encouraged me so much...glad it did the same for you!

  3. Love your story for this day... thanks so much for sharing it with us!!!

    1. Dear Debby - it is so nice to see a note from a friend we have known so long, and who knows our children well! Isn't it amazing how much we receive when we get out of our comfort zone? I loved her sweet prayer...most of all, the gratitude part when she is sitting there in jail.

  4. Susan, so insightful, especially about the talent for our children and ourselves. Thank you.

  5. Jack- what a treat to have a comment from you, too!!!! Thank you so much for the encouragement!