Thursday, June 21, 2012


Lots of you know me (Susan Hillis) from the conferences and Facebook and email messages we share.  But few of you know my husband...  

To Contribute

I remember it as though it was yesterday.  Brian and I were sitting in our living room in our little farm house on Farrington Road in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and a dear friend Annie from his UNC Master's Degree program was visiting us. At that time, we did not share a common faith, and she had many questions.  Like this one, for example, "So, Brian, how does your faith affect your goals in life?"
Brian, without batting an eye, replies something to this effect, "My goal in life is to contribute."
Annie asks, confused, "To contribute?...what do you mean, 'to contribute?'"
"I mean I want to contribute to making life better for my wife and for our children."
I had no idea during those brief moments the extremes of sacrificial service and unconditional love my unassuming and humble husband was prepared to give.  But now I do, and I want to tell you a little about it.  And about what it sometimes leads to.  I want to tell you because some of you share that goal of Brian's.  I will end this short post showing you some of what happened because Brian made that decision way back then....and stuck to in, day out.

To Sacrifice

After loving numbers so much (though we are polar opposites on every personality inventory, at least we have a love of numbers in common!) that he passed all parts of the CPA exam on the first try, Brian went to work for a high-powered accounting firm.  

Over time as we sensed the Lord calling us to adopt (many children!), it was clear that it would take a full time parent to be available in order for the adoption to bring them fully into our family, not merely into our surname.  In talking and praying, we felt we would have more net time together as a family with me working full time than with the long hours that accounting work requires, so Brian cut back to part time at first (after adopting Anya and Alex and adding them to our other two, Cristi and Trevor!), and then totally quit working with the accounting firm after we adopted the next time.  

Gone were those interesting challenges and professional rewards, to be replaced by normal things parents do every day, like play with kids, tutor them, run car pool, take 10 different kids to 10 different activities every week....harp lessons, piano lessons, soccer practice, baseball practice, softball practice, art lessons, flute lessons, dancing lessons, wrestling practice -- and last but not least, to talk with them about God and life and relationships and forgiveness and hope...and lizards and frogs and oaks and seahorses and drought and physics and Bach and Monet.  Brian chose to respond to a higher calling than his professional one -- the call of the Lord for our family.  And boy, did he ever 'contribute!'

A Son's Words -  Alex and Sasha
So several days ago on Father's Day, two of our adopted sons (and in fact all of our kids through either letters, texts, or calls) said thank you to Brian.  

Our artist son Sasha communicated a lot while writing a little, in a short text from Alaska:

Happy Father's Day, dad.  I wish you a great day, and want to thank you for living your life in obedience to God's will, like that of Noah who lived a God-loving and fearing life, living by example, leading his family towards God's love, His truth and mercy, no matter how big and problematic circumstances might have been.

Our son Alex, who, with Trevor, is doing a Summer Leadership Project in Florida, wrote Brian a long letter.  Here are a few excerpts:

Today is Father's Day.  A day set aside to remind us how great and amazing fathers are to us...  Dad, I know you care little for a lot of sentimental praise, so I will limit my words of praise by saying I have known many fine fathers, and have read about many great men, yet I can truthfully say I am so blessed and so thankful that I am your son.  There are several reasons why I am glad you are my father. First you made my years of childhood and youth a period of life delightful.  I have really enjoyed just learning and watching you, how you have loved all the kids.,,,even on days when some of them treat you like crap.  ...I don't know how you loved all of us with unconditional love, but thank you.  You have been the best example to me of who Jesus Christ is.  I can't even imagine how wonderful God is, because you are so good.  If you are that great, God is just awesome.  Thank you again.  Second I want to thank you for helping me understand what it means to be a man.  ..what I am sure of is that if I am half the man you are, I will be grateful and happy.  You are truly a blessing in my life....I would not trade you for the world.  I love you!...Lastly I want to thank you for teaching me about God.  .... My relationship with God is so much closer because I can see through you the kind of man you can become, and I want that.  ....Well dad, I told you this was going to be short, but it came out of my heart and I meant every word....Thank you so much for sacrificing your life for me.  I hope one day I can sacrifice my life for you.  I love you!  Happy Father's Day.
My prayer for you dear reader
So now, I pray that that you, dear one who is reading this and who have adopted children or fostered them or who will someday adopt or foster children, or who perhaps are loving these or any other children in sacrificial and unconditional ways, will receive the heart-full gift of words on one of the Father's Days or Mother's Days down the road.  Words better than any present.  The unspeakable reward that becomes the present that makes you cry.


  1. Tears.... What a gift! God is faithful!

  2. This was an AMAZING gift! I hope it encouraged you when you read it! It is impossible when they are young to know who we have been entrusted with! Treasures...absolute treasures...the boys and their daddy!

  3. Thank you for sharing this Susan! So beautiful and encouraging. :)
    Your family is a gift!!

  4. Hey sweet friend! Thank YOU for reading and commenting! I so long for moms and dads at your stage to hear testimonies of impact of your obedience!!! Hey can you message me your sweet sisterinlaws phone number? Would love to talk with her! Hugs and kisses, beautful beloved! Xoxo

  5. Hey sweet friend! Thank YOU for reading and commenting! I so long for moms and dads at your stage to hear testimonies of impact of your obedience!!! Hey can you message me your sweet sisterinlaws phone number? Would love to talk with her! Hugs and kisses, beautful beloved! Xoxo