Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Face of Faith

Four-year-old Hayden Emmanuel Hitchcock died in a tragic accident recently and more than one community is mourning the loss. Heartache and prayer for the Hitchcock and Parke families were the immediate responses, and then came also the questions.

Why, God? Help us to understand Your plan in this too-soon death.

Please, Lord, overwhelm this family with Your mercy and love. Help us to help them.

Tears filled my husband’s eyes as he read the newspaper report, which included a wonderful photo of the happy boy’s grinning face. The morning of the funeral, RJ told me, “I cannot get that child’s face out of my mind.”

Along with hundreds of others, I witnessed on January 8, 2014, how a close-knit and faith-filled family handles unimaginable grief with dignity, unity, and a composure that only a true trust in God can bring. And I heard a grandmother ask, “Will you ever forget that face?” Everyone in the sanctuary was challenged to contemplate their own relationship with the Jesus little Hayden knew and loved. And I doubt seriously most of us will ever again hear his favorite song, “Oceans (When My Feet Fail)” without remembering “that face” and a mighty-mite of a boy who could do one-arm pushups and cheer for LSU with all his might.

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We receive some comfort in knowing our community’s littlest “Captain America” is now playing (and probably fishing) in heaven.

The steadfast faith, love and strength we watched that day will encourage those who attended forever.

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Pickle Prayers

Three-year-old Jesse Suits was not happy on one particular Sunday as he followed his pregnant mother and four siblings in through our church’s rear entrance doors. He cried, clinging to his mom’s skirt, and definitely did not want to go into his Sunday School classroom.

I had KidCheck Security duty that morning, so it was easy to offer a hand.

“Come with me, Jesse. Will you help me this morning? We need to check the other children into their classes.”

Those tear-filled eyes brightened just a little as he looked up and said, “Uh-huh, I’ll help you.”

As I lifted him onto the stool at the check-in station’s computer, I promised him a story. He wiped his cheeks and cracked a smile.

And the story began…”Once upon a time there was a huge bear in the woods who had lost his family. He’d searched and searched, but he couldn’t find them. Eventually he became very hungry, and his stomach GROWLED, so he stopped for a pathside snack of blackberries and a sip of water from the nearby stream…”

“Hey,” the little man interrupted. “Do bears like pickles?”

His question caught me off-guard, but since I was making up this story anyway, I followed Jesse’s line of questioning.

“Of course, bears like pickles. Do you like pickles?

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a child’s face light up quite the way Jesse’s did when he blurted out, “Oh, I love pickles. Do you have any pickles for me to eat now?”

And thus began our special new friendship centered on his love for pickles.

A few Wednesday nights later, when I substituted as teacher for his Sonbeams’ class, only he and four-year-old Logan were in attendance. So I thought, “Field trip time!” I asked their mothers’ permission to take them pickle shopping at the nearby Sweetbay Supermarket.

What fun we had, as the two boys selected a jar each of their favorite pickles, along with a soda and some chips. This field trip was one I’ll never forget.

Since that time, my husband RJ and I have created a “pickle stash” so Jesse will always have a jar of his favorites on hand.

Several Sundays ago, Jesse saw me in the hallway after church (Plant City Church of God). He stopped, put his hand on his hip, and grinned. “Did you bring my pickles today?”

“You bet I did, Jesse. Stay right there while I get them out of my office.”

By the time I’d returned, his family was gathered near the rear entrance. I bent down to show Jesse the new jar and asked, “Hey, will you do me a big favor? Will you say a prayer for me every time you eat a pickle?

His response and sweet smile were instant. “Pickle prayers!”

And he made my day and melted my heart as I thought, “Can you imagine how many prayers he might say for me?”

Pickle prayers from Jesse…I am counting on our listening God.

Jesse and his Suits family love pickles!

Jesse and his Suits family love pickles!

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