Today I will write about our last, but not least, child Jessica Warren Hollis. When Jessica was born we had considered the 3 child maximum, but never really seriously wanted to stop at three. Andra was great at having children and taking care of them so we knew we could have more and be responsible to raise them as we should. Really we just wanted God’s Will in the whole thing and one more child fit His plan and we were, and are thankful for the extra joy Jessica brought into our home. As you have read in my other blogs Jessica had some pretty big shoes to fill with those who had come before her. So, instead of filling them, she put on a new pair and her originality started blessing us as she grew from a funny little child who made up dances (and performed them all) and made the funniest faces that have us still amazed to this day. From time to time Anda and I would look at each other after a “Jessica moment” and just laugh and say how much joy she added to our lives. Once again, Andra took the lead with the girls, because she was so good at it and Jessica took on the wonderful grace that only God can give to a young lady. That grace is even so much more evident today as Jessica raises her blessing, called Leeland. Leeland also has the funny personality and funny faces, and is as sharp as a tack. Since Jessica was the baby of the children I could relate to her easily in that I was also the baby and I wanted her to know she was going to get our full raising and support and not shortcut her in any area because we had already parented the others and we were tired. Nope, we experienced it all to the max with Jessica and we are blessed because of the journey. On this journey I had a little girl who played baseball with a boys team, and not only baseball, but she played shortstop. She had the best arm on the team and really caused the other players to play harder so they wouldn’t be outdone by a girl. Jessica was a natural athlete and her arm muscles were “cut” and developed when she was 2 years old. It was fun to watch her compete and naturally do things, and amazed us, and others. In the midst of doing something very strenuous and challenging she would look up with that wonderful grin and show it was just a game and it was fun. She played girls basketball on the middle school team at Hillcrest Middle School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and I remember in one game one of the bigger girls
popped her in the nose. She came to the bench and looked in obvious pain and I gave her our family signal (thumbs up) which meant, “You stay in there and tough it out.” She went back on the court and turned around and came back to the bench with blood pouring out of her nose and looked up at me and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “I can’t help this.” Other parents in the stands probably thought me to be a task master parent, but in reality I knew Jessica was tough and that she could play no matter what the obstacles. Her blood spurting out of her nose stopped her play though, and then when it stopped she went back in. That’s Jessica. She started as a Freshman at a new school when we moved to North Carolina, and in reality we were just glad she made the team coming into the area brand new. We went to the first game and out came the starting five and one of them was Jessica!! I couldn’t hardly get through the gym door after that night because my head was swelled up so much with pride for my “baby girl.” She continued to show great athletic ability and the track coach asked her to try out for the track team as a sprinter. She went out and ran the 100 meters in street clothes and ran fast enough to be our top sprinter and so we got to watch her run and it was so much fun. I remember her running the 400 meter run (one lap around the track) and standing at the end of the race as she made the last turn into the homestretch. She had not trained to run this race, but they needed her to, so she ran it. She was doing great and I yelled out to her, “‘C’mon Jess, you can do it!” To which she responded by ducking her head and running even harder and finished with a great time. Probably the most impacting thing Jess ever did in front of me, her dad, was when we moved to Alexandria, Alabama. She had started all three years in North Carolina on her basketball team, and with her Senior year coming up we accepted a call to come back to Alabama. Bad timing for anybody, but she took it in stride. We went in to get her signed up for school and the coach had heard about her basketball skills and he came to the counselors office and told Jessica how much he was looking forward to her playing on the team. He asked Jessica what position she played and she said, “a 2 guard, or wing.’ The coach said he needed a point guard and wondered if she would be willing to learn and play that position. To which she replied, “sure.” So she came into a totally different school her senior year and a totally different position and led their team in steals and led them to defeat a cross town rival that they hadn’t beaten in years. That’s our Jessica. Literally, one in a billion. One time I was in our great room in our home in North Carolina, and in walked Jessica with a guitar. She had self taught herself guitar and she said, “Hey dad, you want to hear a song I wrote?” To which I replied, “sure.” She proceeded to play and sing a well crafted song and left me speechless, but not so speechless to keep me from saying, “awesome!” Her music ability is so natural and effortless because God blessed her with a great heart, a wonderful warm voice, and a great ability to sing harmonies better than anyone I know. Her love for Jesus is so evident when she sings, and her desire to live for Christ just blows me away again and again. In fact, she is so much that way that it is almost a burden at times and the enemy tries to keep her from being as confident as she needs to be in God’s power. Her humble spirit is refreshing to see as Jessica always wants to give her best for her Heavenly Father and that driving force in her life is a strong witness in the world in which we live. I wish more young ladies would take time to learn from Jessica about what it means to be a well rounded spiritual woman of faith. Her husband, Caleb Hollis came to me after asking Jess
to marry him and said he would do whatever it takes to allow Jessica to continue to sing for Jesus and he has done just that and more. Together they lead worship at their new church in Knoxville, Tennesse and that church knows they have added some special people. But I believe the best is yet to come for Jessica. Seeing God’s wonderful guiding hand on her life and the enthusiasm she has in living life to the fullest is going to come back to her in blessings in the days ahead. She will see her child or children continue to grow in the Lord and live a life of excitement that will impact even more people than Jessica has impacted and that will be her “living legacy.” In John 5 Mary, mother of Jesus had asked Jesus to help them supply wine for a wedding in Cana. 5 She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.” 6 Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus ordered the servants, “Fill the pots with water.” And they filled them to the brim. 8 “Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host,” Jesus said, and they did. 9 When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn’t know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, 10 “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!” 11 This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him. She believed so much in Jesus that she told the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. A modern day miracle occurred as Jesus turned the water into wine before their eyes. I believe Jessica is the kind of servant who does whatever Jesus tells her to and I believe she will see many miracles performed by her Lord through her life. Miracles of changed lives and hope for others like never before. Jessica Warren Hollis, God’s blessing to not only her mother and I, but to the world….. Thumbs up Jessica and stay in the game. You are doing great!!
The Pilgrimage continues….