Her Name is JoJo

Her name is JoJo.  She is my hero.  Though born with lagniappe, “a little something extra” – Trisomy 21, more commonly known as Down syndrome, she has never known the meaning of the words “can’t do”. She never will. While unexpected, Down syndrome is not a disease. And it not a disabler.

JoJo is my almost birthday buddy (some 52 years apart) and owns a large part of my heart. Actually she shares that with her brother, Phillip, who, in my unbiased opinion, is one of the finest big brothers I have ever known. His story is one for another day.

When JoJo arrived on the scene on June 22, 2007, Steve and I knew her family through (surprise) the Music Ministry at FBC Jackson.  We were speaking friends with Allison and Andy, nothing more. “Involved” and “engaged” really under state their involvement in life – full-time professionals, time invested in Boy Scouts, Sanctuary Choir, orchestra, Worship Band, doing arranging, occasionally playing hand bells. Busy. You name it – they do nothing with half a heart. They give it everything, and that is ever more true when it comes to their kids. And, in what their kids do for others.

JoJo’s arrival created some new opportunities. Some things, especially early on were on JoJo’s timetable. The good news in that for me was that God apparently had Steve and me in the plan. From the first time I held her maybe a week after she was born, I was smitten. JoJo did not need me, but I sure needed her.

Things started with us keeping JoJo (and soon after Phillip with her – he liked the idea of hanging out here on Sunday nights) so Allison and Andy could go to church and get out a little since the nursery was not yet an option. Were we ever entertained! Phillip helped. Steve’s Mom loved to sit and hold her . Even Lucy, our Boston Terrier (who now JoJo keeps at arm’s length because Lucy plays too hard) would protect her. It was amazing. It was fun. It was love – pure and simple.

JoEllen taught me many things.  We read (I know “Goodnight Moon” by heart), watch movies (also know all the lines to “Toy Story 2”) and play Barbie’s. We count and sing our ABC’s and play electronic games (she is MUCH better at that than me – and she plays the same games Phillip does and with as much gusto). We swim and swing and hang out. Some days, I take her to school and even have kept her at times when she was not able to go. She is tough – manages her space, understands boundaries, and likes, with me anyway, to negotiate. She certainly gives me more choices of things she likes to eat – unlike her brother who is pretty tied to pepperoni pizza and Dr. Pepper – JoJo eats veggies and chicken and hot dogs and pretty much whatever we are having. And she taught me, again, about unconditional love. She truly was part of my emotional healing after my breast cancer experience.  I shall be forever thankful that God allowed her and her family into our lives.

She will be starting a new school this fall. It will be an adventure. There will be adjustments. But she will make friends and she will be successful. And she will continue to give from her heart. Jesus called all the little children to come to Him. God honors her and her gifts to us for now and in the future. She will be my hero and a hero to others for her entire life.

Matthew 18:10 NIV

See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.


Again, We Ask Why?

As I think back on those “I know where I was when I heard about it” events in my life, I realize the list has really grown. The earliest – the death of President John F. Kennedy. I was a third grader at Wiggins Elementary. They came in and told us about it. I remember Daddy explaining to us as we watched the funeral on our black and white TV how this was a sad but historical moment that would long be remembered. How right he was.

There was a gap in events after that, at least for me. I have a vague recollection of the launch pad fire of Apollo 1. I absolutely experienced the excitement of the moon landing of Apollo 11. I watched and held my breath with the entire nation as Apollo 13 slingshot itself around the moon using the  lunar module as a lift boat. I watched in horror as Challenger exploded at lift-off, the Oklahoma City federal building blew up, Columbia exploded on re-entry, and the events of 9-11. In the background of all these were Vietnam (was at Ole Miss when that ended after such tragic loss), the Cold War, and the various actions still underway in the Middle East. And then yesterday. Boston. Patriots Day. Sum the tragedy of that event up in the death of an 8-year-old who had just run out to hug his dad as he crossed the finish line. My prayers are with them all. How grateful, again, I am for first responders and people on the street who heroically put their lives on the line to help save the lives of others. But again, we ask why?

I think sometimes it odd that I never asked why when diagnosed with cancer, but these so negative events (please note that all the ones I listed above are not negative!) like Boston designed to incite fear  – I cannot help myself – I just ask why.

I become angry at the jumpy media so wanting to have the first scoop report stuff that simply is not true and they show photos and videos just to sensationalize the events.  Just get out-of-the-way and left people work and try to find the source as well as care for the wounded without being trampled on.  I am particularly offended by the “leakers” – the ones not authorized to comment on a situation but do it anyway. I hate fear-mongers. Hate. Strong word. It is what it is.

I pray today for Boston, for those who are recovering, for their families, for those who have worked non-stop since this started to deal with criminal and medical issues.  I say to my family and friends that I love you, because you just don’t know when you or I may be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I pray for the souls of those responsible that they would experience remorse and would seek the One True God. Boston is on my list of places I tentatively plan to go again this summer (baseball of course) as is Atlanta and South Dakota and New Mexico and I refuse to be afraid.

Ask why? If you have to. But. Don’t let fear win.

Psalm 34:4 – I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Silence of Saturday

Holy Saturday

Throughout the day I have thought often of what it must have been like on that Silent Saturday. The final week of Jesus’ life before the crucifixion had been more than full. The stress experienced by His followers during His arrest, trial, scourging, and death is unimaginable and frankly, did not come close to what Our Lord experienced. And yet, Jesus knew, that after than silent Saturday, He would rise from the dead. But His followers, those who loved Him and were in His inner circle, did not understand it. Oh, they had been taught that, but like us, they thought and reasoned as man thinks and reasons and hear as men hear. Oh to hear with God’s ears.

I am often frustrated at the arguments of Biblical (and not so Biblical) scholars concerning things like how long was Jesus really in the tomb? How did the calendar work then versus now? All of that. The point is Jesus died. His followers, though most hid or denied Him during the worst hours of His earth life, were hurting. Grieving. Lost. Separated. They did not understand the stillness was the waiting for His Resurrection.

On that morning of the first day of the week when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found it  empty, she was past consolation. Bad enough Jesus had died a criminal death and now, in her mind, His body had been taken away.

Look at John 20:11-16. Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

In her sorrow she just did not see. She was overwhelmed by the silence and stillness of Saturday added to the horror of the days before. And then He called her name.

Jesus called her name. Jesus calls our name. Our response to Him matters. Jesus paid it all – everything we owe. But we have to respond to Him when He calls our name.

Sunday is coming. Listen. Jesus is calling.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Godliness

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Godliness

This blog belongs to Joel Ainsworth, Community Pastor of the Church at Canebay in South Carolina. Joel is also my nephew-in-law, married to my niece Emily for almost ten years. They are wonderful people (not just saying that because they are kin!!) And they are so God-focused.  Their faith is strong. Their hearts are loving and giving. They want what God wants for them as individuals and as a family. The latest post is an update on their adoption journey.  They are examples of how to “wait on the Lord”. Pray with me for them as they continue this journey.

I think about Abraham as recorded in Hebrews 11. Hebrews recorded that “he went not knowing where he was going.” I see that sort of faith in these two.  It encourages me to watch them. You will be encouraged, too.