From Susan Hillis:
Now that our kids are growing up and only 3 are still living at home, it is uncommon for me to talk with all my 6 daughters in 1 day! This past week I had this privilege! What was striking was the Lord's power in keeping our connections close in spite of many relational ups and downs that our family and your family and every family has! And I saw inner beauty and God's tender love as I listened to their stories, and I feel so proud of and thankful for who they are!
Lana was the first to call home- collect again, three times that day, from the Clayton County Jail. "Mommy, you have GOT to read Psalm 143 and be praying it. [I understood her to mean it was especially for her...if you have time please read it and pray for her and the other 3 friends of hers in jail who asked her to write their names on the blog her mama writes on and ask people to pray for them by name; Lana, Angela and family, Tabitha, Shy].. Oh, and there is an emergency with my other friend. My friend J. wants you to call her boyfriend S. and ask him to have her mama visit her in the jail at once-- it is an emergency!" So I end up having a wonderful conversation with him about praying for Lana and his girlfriend. What struck me was his gratitude. "You cannot imagine how much I worried about her. I will call her mama right now!"
Then on Lana's next call, she asks, "Mama, I have a question. Two of my friends here are afraid they are gonna take their babies away while they are in jail; isn't it true they have to give their permission?" After empathizing with their pain, I explain that it depends on whether their parental rights are legally terminated. Lana replies, "Mama, their rights are terminated they said, because they have been working in prostitution. They are so sad. I told them, 'don't worry so much about someone adopting your children. My parents adopted me and it was the best thing that ever happened to me in my whole life." This is the daugther whose manifestations of reactive attachment disorder were often heartbreaking. She is salt and light in that jail. She asks you pray she keeps God first in her life when she is OUT of jail, not only when she is IN jail!
Cristi is second- Cristi calls while I am on the phone with Lana; I put them both on speaker phone and these sisters can hear each other's voices for the first time in months since Lana went to jail. Cristi is excited about the gift she and her husband Andrew are expecting from God... their sweet little daughter, and figures out a way to send Lana a baby picture while she is in jail. We get to pray together before saying goodbye. Cristi and I also are discussing Cristi's participation in two "wave-of-the-future" ministries: "Ukraine without Orphans," and "Russia without Orphans." I tell her once again, "Did you know you are my HERO?!!!" Cristi replies, "Yes mom, you tell me that all the time!"
|Cristi, pregnant with her first baby.|
Anya is next - "Mommy, I have to tell you what happened after I called you yesterday crying and you prayed for me." [She had been sitting in a van, bored and with nothing to do, expecting to be there all day while her husband and his work crew were doing a roof job.] We had prayed the Lord would somehow surprise her with something meaningful to do with her time that day. "Mommy, the lady we are working for is a surgeon who hurt her back so she can't work right now. She came out and talked with me and asked me, "Do you know if you would go to heaven if you died tomorrow?" It told her, "Yes, I know because my mommy and daddy taught me; I have received Jesus into my heart and trust Him to save me, and try to live my life close to Him and for Him." Well Mommy, I figured she must be worried about this so I asked her the same question. She said, "You know, I don't know." So Mommy, I helped her figure it out." What is striking about this story is the gifted and talented surgeon was talking with my sweet daughter who has severe learning difficulties; and my gifted and talented daughter was talking with the hurt surgeon who has severe spiritual difficulties. They both ended up being a huge blessing to each other. Anya ends our call saying, "And Mommy, she may want to adopt and I told her she should talk with you about that. I knew you would help her for sure!"
Then Katya and and I connect - Katya, who works part time and is an amazing hair dresser, had disappeared for the afternoon and I wondered where she had gone. "Mom, I am working on cleaning the hearth at the old house [the one we lost in the Atlanta flood 2 1/2 years ago. We hope to be moving back in soon!] because the dirt from the river is just ground into it." Katya has been doing this for days without talking about it, an unobserved act of service. I say, "Katya, did you realize you are doing exactly what Jesus talks about in John 13-- serving in ways that most people don't think are important?" She is helping in so many ways--visiting Lana, helping with my mom, serving at the old house.... She is aaamaaaazzzzing!
|Katya, left, with Lana, Masha and her daughter, Susan|
Ksusha calls from Texas - "Mommy, I will be flying home for a week on Friday night! I can't wait to see everybody. [Ksusha is 6 months pregnant.] I am feeling good and the doctor says the baby is doing fine! My doggie is so funny.. sometimes she lays her head on my tummy where the baby is!" When Ksusha gets home she says, "Mommy, I am so happy to be 18 and pregnant. I think it is ending up such a blessing for me! If I had not gotten pregnant I would have been in with the wrong crowd, going to wild parties and stuff. But now I am living with my second family, [the wonderful Kovacs!] in Austin and growing closer to the Lord. I really don't feel badly about my choice now because everyone makes bad choices sometimes. I am just focusing on living forward." Literally, those two words, "living forward" were hers. As for years I have tried to "parent forward," as my dear friend Beth says, it was exciting and shocking to hear my sweet daughter say this! Especially my formerly oppositional and rebellious daughter!
"Ksusha, did I ever talk with you about that idea, living forward, or parenting forward?"
"No, I don't think so; it is just how I want to live!"
"Ksusha, do you know I spend my life thinking about the topic of helping you all walk into your future in the Lord instead of living stuck in your past?! I am so excited to hear you use those two words!!!! Now I have a question for you. I am getting ready to speak at the Created for Care conference and I want to know what daddy and I did that was helpful."
"Mommy, the two best things you did were to insist we spend time doing fun things as a family 'all together' -- though I often complained about it, I just love it now that we did so much together. And the second thing was that you and daddy disciplined us, but were not really too strict. That's what I would say. Tell them not to be too strict, but that discipline is good. And to be sure to do things together as a family!"
Masha invites us over for supper - And last of all, I got to finish the day having supper with my sweet daughter Masha, and her kind-hearted and bright husband Josh, and my precious granddaughter Naomi! We are proud that Masha is in her last semester of college. I didn't know until we sat down the wonderful news that Masha shared, "Mom, we wanted to have you over to celebrate because Josh got a job! He starts Monday!" We had been praying as a family daily for God's provision in this way and this news MADE MY DAY!"
So I close this with two thoughts:
1. "I know of no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." III John 4 [pray it!]
2. For those struggling in your care for young or teen children now, be encouraged that you will make it and they will make it - and the Lord is able to preserve their sense of His care for them AND to preserve our relationships with each other! I believe that what He has done for us, He will do for you!