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Lilly accepts Jesus into heart

March 3, 2014

By Jim Edminson, Editor

Eight-year-old Lilly closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and begins to recite, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

For Lilly, these words are especially meaningful. Only weeks earlier she had prayed asking Jesus to come into her heart, and memorizing scripture has since become part of her daily routine.

“Miss Judy helps me study the Bible,” Lilly says with a southern sweetness akin to mountain honey. Judy Blanton is one of four houseparents – two husband/wife teams – who serve the children at Truett Home in Hayesville. “Miss Judy told me that when you ask Jesus to come into your heart, He just walks right on in. It’s that simple.”

Lilly was paralyzed from the neck down in a head-on collision that killed her 25-year-old mother on a North Carolina highway near the Tennessee state line. Lilly was five years old.

Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) president Michael C. Blackwell and chief operating officer Keith Henry are involved with every child’s intake. But when asked by Cherokee County Department of Social Services to help Lilly, everyone from houseparent to president weighed in, and all agreed that even though Lilly’s case was extreme, they wanted to help the little girl.

“We are so proud of our Truett Home staff,” Henry says, “They took a heroic step of faith and with servant hearts expressed their strong desire to become part of Lilly’s life.”

Lilly has been in and out of hospitals for long periods of time since the accident. Her condition is precarious. She depends on a ventilator and 24-hour nursing care. Soon after coming to Truett Home, Lilly developed pneumonia and was taken away for another hospital stay.

“I was standing with the girls at the window watching them load Lilly into the ambulance, when one of the girls cried out, ‘She’s not ready, Miss Judy. We need to pray.’

“Somehow, she knew Lilly wasn’t ready for Heaven. So, we came back into the living room and all knelt and prayed for Lilly,” Blanton recalls.

“We all have had a deep concern for Lilly’s salvation,” Blanton’s husband Walter says. “But it was Barbara’s husband Bo who came one morning and asked to speak with Lilly.”

Barbara Ford is the case manager/supervisor at Truett Home. Her husband is pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Murphy.

“Bo and I went to Lilly’s room, and Bo shared with Lilly how she could accept Christ as her Savior,” Walter Blanton remembers. “She prayed and asked Jesus to save her.”

Lilly says that she sees how God uses all the people in her life to help – nurses, Miss Judy and everyone at Truett Home.

Walter Blanton says, “People might think it would be a burden to care for Lilly, but it has been a blessing. She is an angel.”

Bright pinks and rich purples are Lilly’s favorite colors. The walls of her room are painted pink. A poster of Disney Princesses hangs near the foot of her medical bed. A picture of her mother is hung on the wall where she can see it from wherever she is in the room.

“My momma had to go to Heaven,” Lilly says, “but I was okay. I’ll go to Heaven one day and see her, and I’ll be able to play again.”

Over her bed where her head lies, there is a scripture reference taped to the ceiling. Lilly says it is her favorite memory verse – Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

When asked if she thought she was brave, Lilly paused and then said, “I don’t know. I don’t feel brave sometimes. But people call me brave.”

Lilly is homeschooled through the county school system and is at a third grade level. She loves Judy Blume books and has begun a new series. She likes being with the other girls in the cottage spending time painting fingernails.

Lilly’s stay at Truett Home is not long term. Her doctors trust that she can gain more mobility and hope that Lilly’s health will become more stable. A specialized care facility in Pennsylvania may be just what Lilly will need to reach these goals.

“Every girl that comes into our care is special, and Lilly is no exception,” Judy Blanton says. “We love her and entrust her care to the Lord. God knows best and we trust Him. It is amazing when you think of it – she came to know Jesus here.”

“You can never fully know the mind of God,” BCH president Blackwell says, “You can only be willing to be used to accomplish His will. We are thankful to have played our role, and we all have been richly blessed to become part of Lilly’s bigger family.”

You can help make hope possible for children like Lilly by making a gift to Baptist Children's Homes. Please give online at to help immediately.