The yarn felt rougher than usual as she formed the beginning chain of a new crocheted hat. Her infant son Josiah was resting nearby. Jill stayed close to him because she was worried— worried for her son’s health and his future. Days after Josiah was born he was diagnosed with viral meningitis, which caused severe seizures called infantile spasms. If his condition continued, doctors told her, it could result in permanent brain damage that would affect him for the rest of his life.
Jill glanced over again at her baby boy now peacefully sleeping, connected to monitors and a tangle of wires and tubes. Needing something to distract her from the beeping and alarming sounds in their NICU room, she was glad she had brought her crochet. Her hands worked deftly. She didn’t have to watch her fingers. Never having used patterns, her creative mind invented intricate designs while her fingers skillfully turned and twisted the hook—making stitches and colors do exactly what they should. Jill wished that she had that sort of certainty for Josiah’s life.
The crochet wasn’t calming her as she had hoped. Noticing the time, Jill realized that one of her favorite Hope Channel programs, Let’s Pray, was currently airing. Jill had begun watching the show years ago at the suggestion of her mother, and over the years she had often watched Let’s Pray while crocheting. Recently she had been tuning in even more regularly to receive hope and comfort through Josiah’s illness. But tonight Jill had nearly forgotten and, besides, there was no television in the hospital room.
Being a regular Let’s Pray viewer though, Jill knew the hosts and remembered that the prayer team took prayer requests by phone, email, and social media. So even though she wasn’t watching the show that night, she got on the Let’s Pray Facebook page, and submitted her prayer request. It wasn’t long before Jill received many responses and reminders that miles away, in the Hope Channel studios, there were people praying for her. Other viewers on Facebook also joined in support of Jill through even more prayers.
Over the next few days, Jill’s hands continued working quickly, but more calmly. Peace was returning to her heart knowing that others were praying for her and that God was in control over her life and little Josiah’s.
Realizing that others might also need the same kind of comfort and hope that she was receiving from the Word of God through Hope Channel, Jill decided to turn her crochet business into a witnessing tool. Jill had started her crocheting home business four years before Josiah was born. It helped cover expenses and allowed her to be a stay-at-home mom for her daughter Maddie. The business was well established, and Jill was thankful that God had led her to start a business that allowed her to continue staying home to care of her sick baby. Now she was going to use her products to lead others to Hope Channel and to Christ.
With each order she mails, Jill includes a Hope Channel “leave behind” card. Jill believes her crocheted projects could be just the reminder someone needs of a loving God who hears and responds. One stitch at a time, Jill serves as a witness for Christ.
While this story was being written Jill’s husband Seth, who suffered from mental illness, took his life. Jill’s blog is a testimony of her faith and her desire to erase the stigma of mental illness. Here are excerpts from one of her entries. You may read more at maddiesmadhatters.com/lets-blog-about-it
Each night, as I close my eyes, I whisper to myself, “Another day I have survived.”
The loss of someone is palpable in your everyday experience. Everywhere I look, I see my husband. From grocery stores, to roads travelled, to food shared. I glance at my phone, waiting for a text from him that will never come.
We were apart when he passed away, but he always sent me texts, asking me how I was doing and how Jojo was doing. It was really hard being apart from him, but somehow just a text was enough. I found a note he left me two months earlier . . . He was tired of running, tired of fighting mental illness. He wanted peace. It wasn’t the right way, but for him, it was the answer. He left behind children that needed him. But for Seth, he couldn’t grasp that concept because he just was too broken.
This world is a hard place, trust me. In a year I have been through Josiah battling meningitis, then epilepsy, and now my husband. Yeah, this world is a hard place. But I will not stop singing God’s praises, that even amidst this nightmare, God still has provided. I have become close to Seth’s family and that in itself is a beautiful thing for me. Seth will live on through his children, and I will make sure to do all that Seth wanted to do to help others. I know, through this, God will have something good come out of it. He always does. For God is in the business of saving, not for this world but for eternity.