Tuesday, November 15, 2011


From Susan Hillis:

"I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them …[They] shall be a name of joy before all the nations...who shall hear of all the good that I do for them;" (Jer 32:42, 33:9)

From Eeyore to Big Joy!
Last night we all sat around the table with friends, celebrating our daughter Katya's birthday.  In keeping with our family tradition, we got to tell Katya -- whom we adopted 13 years ago at age 10... what we like about her. Once again, I was amazed at the transformational power the Lord has in one life, as I saw the change from who Katya used to be, to whom she has become. "Eeyore" has become "Big Joy,"--and it took years.

9 'Goods' and 1 'Bad'
Katya's nickname when we adopted her was Eeyore. She was, simply, sad, gloomy, and despondent much of the time.  I will always remember the 10 kids sitting around the table, each with a small scrap of paper and a pencil.  "I want you guys to write one word -- either write 'good' or 'bad' as the answer to my question," I said. "Here's the question:  'When you grow up, do you think your life will be good or bad?'"

As everyone shared their answers, I heard 9 'goods' and one 'bad.'  Our dear Eeyore, in keeping with her namesake, felt doomed to a bad life.  "Katya, why do you think your life will be bad, sweetie?"  She answered, looking down resignedly, "because school is so hard, and I think it will be too hard for me to ever finish and get a job that will make enough for me to take care of myself."

"I Know the Plans I Have for You..."
That story helped me see that she needed God's truth to replace the lies she was believing about who He is in her life.  That very year is the one we began to choose one verse for the year, have the kids write it and draw their own picture to illustrate it, and hang it all over our kitchen cabinets so that we would be reminded to pray and talk with them about the things God wants to do for us.  Katya's verse that year was Jeremiah 29:11 "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for goodness and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope."

And Katya began to change. About 3 years later on one of her birthdays, as we listened to all the reasons her family members like her, we noted a common theme:  "I like you because your eyes turn upside down like crescent moons when you smile."  "I like you because you are so giggly."  "I like you because you are happy and fun to play with."  And we realized that Eeyore needed a new name;  she had become Big Joy.  Within several days Katya remarked to me, "Mommy, I have been thinking about all those things the family said about me on my birthday and about why i have changed so much.....I think the reason is that I began to believe that that verse you have been praying for me is true."

"I Like You Because...."
So last night, all these years later, it is evident that the change was enduring -- family and friends are still saying the same things about her joy. 
"Katya, I like you because when we have issues in our family [all families have issues, you know], you just come over and hang out and laugh and smile and cheer us all up." 
"I like you because you have a way of bringing peace into tense situations, just by your smile and cheerfulness."
"I like you," says our Nicaraguan friend Alex who speaks only a little English, "because you are always making jokes in English that I can't even understand, but you still makes me laugh."
"I like you because you are fun to play putt-putt with."

All the Good
So, as we reflect on the past year, we see "all the good" the Lord has done for her.  She completed her cosmetology training and is working as a hair dresser in a local salon;  she developed wonderful independence during her 4 months in London with our friend Bek; and she recently surprised us when she came home, chuckling, rubbing her wet shorts from her college and career fellowship one night.  "I decided to be re-baptized tonight;  tonight it just meant more to me, because I really understood what I was doing, and I just wanted it [my faith] to be my own decision." 

We still have an Eeyore or two in our family, and for you readers who do as well, may we have eyes of faith to see, even now, all see "all the good" that the Lord promises them and us.  It will, indeed, bring us joy.

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