Archive for October, 2010

October 28, 2010

Beyond Measure…the missing chapter.

When I wrote Without A Word, the completed manuscript was well over 100,000 words.  Yikes.  Thank God for editors.  What follows here is one of the deleted chapters.  I had a struggle letting this one go but eventually realized that my mother was woven so perfectly throughout the overall story.

But here it is…the missing chapter!

April 19, 2001- Today is my mom and dad’s anniversary.  They’ve been married 32 years and they’re still going strong, thank God.  I don’t know what I would do without my mom.  She keeps on giving and giving some more.  She’s so selfless. How does she do it?  Her joy is abundant and peace radiates from her.  Please protect her and keep her Lord. You know I fear losing her – she’s the only one who seems to understand me (except for You of course). I want to be an encouragement to her like she is to me–like she is to all of us.  She’s so amazing with the kids – especially Hunter.  I love the way he looks at her–if she wasn’t my mother I would be jealous of his love for her…

She was just eighteen and fresh out of high school when she had me.  Certainly she never pondered over what her life might become as a result of bringing me into the world.  My mom and dad were just trying to make ends meet.  They were trying to raise my brother Jack and I while growing up themselves for heaven’s sake.  It must have been so trying, and yet the struggles she faced as a young mother of two were nothing compared to the ordeal of being Hunter’s grandma.

I have so many memories of my mother, none more precious than watching her love my son.   This love was a love that everyone could see and feel when they were around my mother and Hunter. When they were together, the warmth of that love would emanate from them.  I learned how to be a better mom by observing my mother care for and be a grandmother to my three children.

During the most devastating time of our family’s journey she stood strong and confident for all of us, even though I knew she wanted to crumble.

One distinct memory of my mother I hold dear to my heart and will never forget was when Hunter was just three years old. He was really sick and struggling so much we thought for sure he was going to die.  His breathing was very shallow and we had done everything we knew to do for him at the time.  In order to monitor his breathing, my mother and I took turns holding Hunter throughout the night.  It was a long night, but we did it together and Hunter ended up going into the hospital by ambulance early the next morning.  I’ll never forget that night with my mom.  We cried, prayed, and even sang to Hunter all night long.

We did all of this together. There was no taking turns so that one of us could rest, we put our efforts toward comforting Hunter together so he would be able to feel two times a mother’s love. I believe that night we were all getting something we desperately needed from each other.

My mom is an amazing woman.  The love and friendship we share is a result of walking through heartbreak and suffering and enduring the unthinkable together.  Had we not surrendered our lives to a purpose beyond ourselves we might not be as close as we are today.

She’s my best friend.  She’s the one who knows me better than anyone else and loves me anyway.  My mother is the one who comes when I call, for whatever reason… no matter what.  She stands in the gap… no matter how wide and deep and treacherous the gap may be.   Her prayers are most fervent on my behalf and she’s always praying.  Always.  I don’t ever have to ask her to pray for our family and me because I know she’s praying.  And she’s not only praying-she’s rallying the troops to pray too.  Because she gets it.  It’s crystal clear to her that we can’t do this alone, that she and my dad can’t carry the burden for us… we need help.  We need prayer warriors bending the knee for our entire family.  We need the troops to rally, and she’s not afraid to ask-she’ll do anything to take care of her family.

I’ll never forget an experience with my mother during a typical service at our church one Sunday morning.  Occasionally at our services the senior pastor would ask those of us in the congregation to raise our hands if we had any pressing needs that required prayer.  People seated nearby would then gather around and lay their hands on the one requesting prayer. Once he was sure those desiring to be prayed for had the necessary support, our pastor would then pray.  The prayer services are very biblical, but coming from a traditional Catholic background the whole laying on of hands concept was intimidating.  Moving your hands (or any part of your body for that matter) at all during a church service was not something we were accustomed to.  So even though my son struggled to breathe every single day of his life and I had every reason (and then some) to raise my hand for prayer, I didn’t.  Pride.

But then my mom came to service with us and she was so bold… she raised her hand.  Sure enough all these people moved in to place their hands on her and I was standing right next to her and so I placed my hand on her shoulder… and then our pastor prayed.  After watching my mother move and behave with such courage that day, things changed.  We were both in tears when prayer was over and I leaned over and whispered to my mom.  “I can’t believe you raised your hand.  I’m so proud of you.”  And she looked at me and said “Jill, I’ll do anything for Hunter, anything.”  And she did, she always did. And she still does.

I don’t deserve to have her in my life and yet she’s my mom, my cheerleader, and the one I talk to everyday about everything and anything.

She didn’t have to leave her six-figure job when Hunter got sick… but she did.  She didn’t have to take care of Hunter as often as she did so that I could get some rest… but she did… gladly.  I want to be more like her.  I want to pour out my life for the sake of others the way she does.  I want to have a generous heart that lives to encourage people and give in abundance… a heart like my mom’s.  I want to spend my life for the sake of making someone else’s day a little better–because that’s what she does, everyday.  When I’m in line at the McDonald’s drive thru I want to buy lunch for the strangers behind me or bless the worker with a huge smile–because that’s what my mom does.  All the time.  I want to spread joy too and see things most people miss because they’re too busy.  I want to listen… really listen with my ears and my heart… like she does.

She doesn’t just care about her family, she cares about people, strangers… people she doesn’t even know.  Her compassion spreads to everyone who crosses her path or that needs her prayer.   People notice her smile and the passion and joy that radiate from her.  This is not just a trait a daughter sees in a wonderful mother, it’s obvious to all that know her.  And as strange as it may be in these self-absorbed times, people that don’t even know her sense the way she sincerely cares about them when their lives touch.  They see that she’s different.

My daughter Erin said something to me not too long ago that captures the kind of woman my mom is.  “Mom, I hope this doesn’t make you feel bad or anything but I love Grammie as much as I love you.”   Erin loves my mother.  They have such a close bond that I wouldn’t doubt it if Erin told my mother her deepest secrets, secrets she hasn’t even shared with me.  Grammie is trustworthy and faithful and yet she’s not perfect.  No one is.  Her weaknesses and imperfections are just another opportunity for her to display a trust in the Lord that makes you want to run to Him for everything.

She’s a control freak, or type A personality, and in many ways so am I.  She’s meticulously professional, writes everything down and knows her schedule but I’m not organized like that.  I’m getting much better but she’ll be the first one to tell you that I need help.  In fact she’s the first one to call me out on any area in my life that needs some adjusting–in other words, she’s not afraid to get in my face when I need it.  And sometimes (more often than I’d like to admit) I need to be told the truth–in love of course. We’re a lot alike and yet very different but what we do have in common makes all the difference.

We both love Jesus and desire to love Him more.  If we talk and He’s not part of our conversation, there’s something seriously wrong.  We’ll often call each other with a “God-story” or share a specific scripture either one of us needs to hear at just the right time.  I feel blessed beyond measure.  I know how awesome God is because He blessed me with a mother who is a teacher, best friend, and sister in Christ.

Our relationship and close friendship hasn’t always been so incredible.  Not because of anything my mother has done however. I joined a sorority as a college freshman, need I say more.  Although I was a put-together-mess, she loved me anyway and so did my dad, even though he didn’t always show it.  I don’t know if I would’ve been as patient and loving as they were.  As rocky as the road I chose to travel down grew, the more grace my mother extended.  And then I met Jim.

Somehow in the midst of it all, she was able to extend more grace and more love.  How did she do it?  The strain on the relationships in our family as a result of Jim’s choices, my weaknesses and Hunter’s sickness was evident at times. And though my mother and father had their own issues to wrestle with, they’re still married and the way our culture continues to move, that’s huge.

As a mother now myself, I recognize the limitless sacrifices, selfless devotion, and faithful love my mom poured out for my younger brother and me all those years.  Her commitment to family was evident in her constant giving, loving discipline, and tender encouragement. I don’t know where I’d be or how I would have met the daunting challenges I faced if not for her example of what love and motherhood are all about.

I can’t wait to watch Hunter and my mother snuggle again someday and I can only imagine what he’ll say to her when he sees her again.  He loves her so much and so do I.

October 26, 2010

Without A Word – Book Club Question #2

QUESTION:

How do you feel now about sex before marriage/ living together, and what kind of discussions do you have with the kids about it?

This is such a great question.

Just the other day, Camryn (our 11 year old) had a physical exam.  She needed certain shots for school and there were some additional, optional vaccinations that were also discussed at the time.  One such vaccine (unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of it.  I think it was Gardasil) was introduced and enthusiastically encouraged during our doctor visit.

The following quote from an article in Time Magazine will help sum up what the doctor tried to explain to me.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently advised parents to have their middle-school-aged daughters vaccinated against a common sexually transmitted disease closely linked to cervical cancer.  But legislators in 10 states are seeking to go one step further and require vaccinations against the human papillomavirus (HPV) for all girls entering middle school.

HPV is an increasingly common sexually transmitted disease and one that scientists say is linked to 70% of all cases of cervical cancer. Gardasil, the first vaccine to fight cancer, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last June.”

After she very thoroughly explained HPV to me I told her that we were not interested in this type of vaccine right now.

She persisted…

I continued to hold my ground.

While all this back and forth was going on Camryn kept giving me the big eyes as if to say, “Mom, I thought I only had to get one shot today.” Before the Nurse Practitioner (who I really like by the way) finally gave up she graciously spoke some final words of encouragement.

“You know Jill, we need to be realistic here too.”

With that I responded, “Realistic as far as the world is concerned or how we believe our daughters can live according to what God has planned for their lives.”

So, to answer the question, “How do you feel about sex before marriage/living together, and what kind of discussions do you have with the kids about it?” I absolutely, unequivocally believe that God’s perfect plan for my two girls is abstinence until marriage. I also believe that living together is out of the question.  Jim is with me on all of this.


I don’t care what our culture says!

I don’t care what other kids are doing!


I think trusting in God for this is very realistic. In fact, I pray for my daughters regarding their purity almost daily, and not just their physical purity but their emotional, mental, and spiritual purity as well.

Make no mistake about it; I am keenly aware that my girls will have to choose to remain pure when pretty much no one but God is watching. As a parent I’m trying to pass my convictions on to my kids to protect and guide them through the many dangers they will face as they pass through time. Life can be a spiritual, intellectual, and emotional mine field at times and premarital sex can cause untold damage not just physically, but in these three other areas as well. I don’t have all the answers and they realize that, in fact that is why I need the Lord and His Word to guide me, and why I hope with all my heart that my girls follow Christ as well—because they won’t have all the answers either. But Jesus always will, and will forever be their answer just as He is mine.

I know that they will have to make these decisions on their own when the time comes—and I know the time will come. Realistically, I can hope they’ll trust in what they’ve learned about their Creator and His love, and not cave to the pressure they will face. It will be hard, there’s no doubt about it.

I have shared with Erin on a number of occasions how her father and I feel about all of this. I have discussed the truth about the decisions that I (we, Jim too) made before I (we) became a follower of Jesus.  I believe the truth will always set us free. Erin needed to know that I did not consider God’s perfect plan when I chose to move in with her dad.  But, this does not mean that she was ever unwanted in any way—ever.  God knit her together in my womb and at just the right time she was born.  God purposed before the creation of the world that He would redeem our choices through His Son, Jesus.  Because we are His children, He has redeemed our entire lives—past, present, and future.

This is awesome news.

As far as Camryn is concerned, she’s still young and not quite ready to talk about God’s beautiful plan for sex.

As always, we take one day at a time, trusting Him in all things—for everything.

Thank you for the great question Cindy.

October 25, 2010

Without A Word – Book Club Question #1

QUESTION:
for Erin & Camryn- What are the pro’s & con’s of being the daughters of celebrity parents especially since your Mom became a best selling author? And do you ENJOY watching football?

Erin…

“One of the “pro’s” about having celebrity parents is that we get to do special events with our mom and dad…like meeting other celebrities (Justin Beiber, American Idol contestants, President George W. Bush, the Jonas Brothers, Tim McGraw).  We also get to travel to different states with our parents, which is very exciting.”

“I think it’s very cool that my mother’s book is out and doing so great because we are able to share our story with so many people…and that’s awesome.”

“Some of the “con’s” that go along with having “celebrity parents” is when people interrupt us when we are out for dinner to ask my dad for an autograph. And when we are on vacation, people always recognize my dad so we can’t really ever get away.  It also bothers me a lot when people say negative things about my parents when they don’t even know them at all…that really upsets me.”

As far as football goes…I absolutely love watching football.  Even though the Buffalo Bills are not very good, I still “Billieve”.


Camryn…

“Since my mother’s book has been published, I’ve been able to travel to different places with my mom and dad like New York City.  Whenever my parents have a book signing, my sister and I get to sign books too and that’s very cool.”

“I agree with what Erin said too…because my parents know people we get to meet other celebrities…like Justin Beiber.”

Some of the things that are “con’s” of having celebrity parents would be that too many people crowd around my dad and that bothers me.

“I wasn’t alive when my daddy played football so I don’t really know about this question. I like watching football when the Bills score touchdowns.”

October 8, 2010

The New York Times Best Seller List…and me.

Jim and I had just landed in Pennsylvania when we got the news: Without A Word—How a Boy’s Unspoken Love Changed Everything, would debut at #18 on the New York Times Best Seller List!

Tears filled my eyes as our editor Jana shared the incredible news.  Barely two short weeks had passed since the national release of our memoir, and we had been honored with a spot on the prestigious Best Seller List—amazing.  My immediate response to this remarkable news was an overwhelming longing to hug my son, Hunter… the boy who never spoke a word.  My arms ached to cradle him and thank him for being such a willing vessel for the Lord.

Since that day, I’ve been wrestling with a lot of things.  I think sharing my journal from this morning will explain what I’m talking about.

October 5, 2010…

I’m not going to be a number watcher!  I’m not going to set myself up for all this non-sense.  It’s emotionally and mentally draining. Just fickle and worldly.  Lord, thank you for reminding me to fix my heart and affections on You alone.  Thank You for being sovereign over everything… including bestseller lists.

I have so much to learn.

Forgive me for my tendency to get caught up in what is temporal; in the futility of the literary world built on the shifting sand of marketing strategies, promotional efforts, and numbers games….

Thank You for revealing that which is in me that is not of You.

Thank You for being so incredibly patient, gracious, and gentle with my heart.

I’m Your girl.

There’s no doubt about it.

You won’t leave me to my own selfish pursuits.  Your grace stops me in my tracks.

Your passion for my all delivers me from the grave of pride.

Certainly, Your all consuming love draws this desperate daughter of Yours back to her knees.

It’s all for You Lord.

Without You, I’m empty and vulnerable to the enemy’s wicked ways and the worldly temptations trying to drown out Your voice as they clamor for my attention.

This will not lead to disappointment if I keep my passion and purpose solely on You and Your glory.

You are my satisfaction…

My joy, my hope, my future…

My everything.

Help me to live a life unhindered.

And just as my life and times are in Your capable hands, everything about, Without A Word, is in Your hands.  I have no claim or control on any of this.

It’s Yours.


So there you have it.

Pride.

It’s ugly and messy.  It eats away at your joy while it steals your gratitude and contentment.

Thankfully, God isn’t finished with me yet.

He continues to mold and shape me…

…and you.

Every single day that goes by we are a work in progress.  The clay that is our lives is being fashioned into an incredible reflection of God the Son by the Creator of all.

Hang in there…

And join me…

being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)