Wordless Wednesday, He lives on

This is my Dad, Leonard Hoke, Sr. in the 1960’s.

It was 14 years ago today that my Dad went home

to be with JESUS, forever! ¬†ūüôā



I miss him… but will see him someday

because my heart belongs to Jesus, too!


You can click here for another post with a little history about him.

And here, too!



Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday



It Was a Friday


Good Friday, 1997:

We’d just arrived at our hotel with 180+ teenagers in tow. It was the Ohio Youth convention that we’d looked forward to for months. Chilly was the speaker & a bunch of our students were involved in a detailed illustrated sermon that very evening. Chilly had just been to the front desk to get everyones’ room keys when he pulled me aside with a weird look on his face.

“Netta, Courtney is in the hospital. She has pneumonia.”

“That’s not funny, Chilly.”

“I’m NOT kidding, Netta. She’s really, really sick.”

Through teary eyes  we began searching for someone who would be willing to drive the 5 hrs back to Youngstown with me. No takers. Chilly was calm but going insane on the inside. He wanted more than anything to drive back. But he was the speaker and we decided that he would drive back right after the service.

I wasn’t waiting around. I got in my green minivan and began the drive home. Praying. Praying like never before!¬† Thankfully, my cell phone, which hadn’t worked when we were driving the 5 hours away from little Courtney, started working (cell phones were pretty new back then). Our doctor was a trusted friend and attended the same church we did. I spoke many times to her during that drive. She gave me very little detail… and rightly so.¬† At some point I was told that they were preparing to life-flight her to Akron Children’s Hospital. I really don’t know when I learned that part of it. I just needed to be with her!

Amazingly, the 5 hours went quickly. I’d like to say that I drove the speed limit, but I have no idea. As I sprinted into the ICU room where my baby girl¬† was lying, I couldn’t stop the tears. Our little one year old was only wearing a diaper and was covered in tubes and wires. The most startling thing, however, was the deep cave in her chest that came with every breath. Dr. Anne Stover gently told me that she was struggling to breath and needed to be moved to Children’s hospital. She was going by ambulance. Our dear friends were standing there, too. Mary said I could ride to Akron with them.

“Thank you, Mary. But I’m going with Courtney!¬† I just drove 5 hours. I will not leave her side!!!”

Every nurse & doctor in the place abruptly and swiftly told me, “Oh NO. That is NOT allowed!”

“YES!¬† I’m going with her!”

Thank you, Jesus, for Dr. Stover. She knew me. She spoke softly to the others in the room and before I knew it I was riding in an ambulance, next to my seriously ill little Courtney. I held my breath as I waited for each of her’s. Praying & remaining calm, I realized that at any moment the situation could turn and I’d have to sit helplessly as the medics worked. I prayed. and Prayed. That “peace from Jesus that doesn’t make any sense to your mind, but total sense to your heart” held me tightly.

Meanwhile, Chilly and the 180+ teenagers were also praying, and calling everyone they knew. As they prepared to go on stage and minister to 4000+ teenagers, their thoughts were with Courtney. But God honored their faithfulness. Back stage, my husband was on his face, begging God for healing. Then he stood, went out & delivered a powerful & creative message of Jesus’s love. Hundreds of students committed their lives to JESUS that night!¬† Then Chilly got in a van & two of those students drove through the night to the hospital in Akron.

In the early morning, Chilly burst into Courtney’s ICU room and told me that he’s prayed all the way there, and that God told him we would taking Courtney home!¬† Since I was a tired mess, he sent me to the waiting room where our precious & loyal friend, Mary, hugged and encouraged me. Chilly’s next few moments were not as encouraging. The nurse, apparently surprised by his calmness, pulled him aside.

“Mr. Chilton, I don’t think you understand the seriousness of your daughter’s illness. It’ VERY, very serious. You need to prepare yourself for the worst.”

“No, on my drive here God assured me that we would take Courtney home.”

“Sir, really. You need to face the reality of the situation and be prepared for what may come.”

That was Friday.


Jump ahead to EASTER MORNING 1997:

Our oldest daughter, Mariah, attended Easter morning services with our friends who graciously kept her that weekend. Chilly and I waited in the hospital…. waited for that final word. And then it came….

“Mr. & Mrs. Chilton, you may take Courtney home!¬† We’re amazed at how her situation has drasticlly¬† improved.”


On Friday, near death.¬† On EASTER… ALIVE & going HOME!!!!


Any & EVERY time I think of this miracle my heart bursts with JOY and THANKFULNESS!  OH, THANK YOU, JESUS!
Your death, on that Good Friday so long ago, brought life & healing!  THANK YOU, JESUS!

That was 15 years ago.



Courtney is no longer a baby. She’s a gorgeous 16 yr old who has her own beautiful relationship with Jesus. Now today, Good Friday, we’re facing another need for healing. She’s experienced strange symptoms and has had several tests already. Nothing is known yet. The next course of action requires specialist. We’re grateful for doctors, and God has always provided us with wonderful, trust-worthy medical professionals. But we’re praying for another MIRACLE! You may be facing a difficult situation, too. Jesus is BIGGER! GREATER! ABLE to do more than we can think or imagine!

Some of you who are reading this actually remember when the Easter miracle of 1997 took place. You were at that convention, or hospital, or you’re the one who drove the late-night van, or you may even the doctor. (Hi Anne.)¬† We know that God can do anything! Let this true story remind you of God’s true story of FORGIVENESS & GRACE; of His GREATNESS!¬† We serve a RISEN SAVIOR!¬† Let’s tell people! Let’s live with that JOY and HOPE that only JESUS gives!




She’s Strong. I’m Thankful. Let’s eat Cake!

My Mom, Martha, at 1 year old

Seventy year ago today my Grandma gave birth to a little baby girl… my Mom. My Grandparents, Orville & Luretta Bay, were living in Texas for a short time while my Grandpa worked for the Federal Argricultural Department. These two people had graduated from college, married given birth to their oldest, my Uncle Marvin, and now to my Mom.¬† All this occurred during the second part of the Great Depression.¬† So amazing.

Also, this little baby girl was born less than ONE MONTH after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the US into the second World War. Can you imagine what my Grandparents must’ve been thinking about the world their daughter would grow up in? Hmm. She did grow up, in small-town-USA in southern Colorado with her parents. She watched them work hard, follow God’s leading and continually stand up for what was right. She became like them.

Her free time was spent caring for the zillions of stinky turkey’s they raised, farming & doing other chores, as well as gardening, canning, cooking, sewing and all the other domestic stills expected of the rural girls in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

My Mom has always been “the good girl.” In fact, she’d never stepped foot in courtroom until a few months ago due to a traffic accident; in high school & college she followed the rules. She has always been someone you can trust.¬† If she says she’ll do it… you can count on it.

(from Betty Crocker cookbook 1960)

She was a stay- home mom that took us to everything, supported us and enjoyed living life with us. I never remember feeling like a burden to her or an annoyance (although I’m quite sure I was! ha!) When my brother & I grew up she went back to school and added degrees to her resume. Because working full-time was now her story.

As time went on, she cared for my sweet but aging Grandpa in her home during his final years; and over lapping those years her life drastically changed when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. She remained faithful and courageous during the long battle & eventual loss of both of the men in her life.  Her faith in Jesus never waviered.

(Mom at Chase's Birthday Party a couple of years ago)

Today, my Mom, Martha, celebrates her 70th year. She’s not sitting at home, or traveling the world. She’s diligently working at her full-time job in the accounting department of the local power company. Trustworthy, hard-working, dependable and strong- she lives these qualities. Qualities that I admire and want to pass on to my children.

Mom, I love you!¬† Happy Birthday! Thank you for living strong!¬† (and we’re gunna have an awesome Birthday Cake when we see you in a few weeks!)



(I come from a long line of strong, admirable people!)

The Year 2011

I sat down this morning with my journals from 2011 and the zillions of pictures I’d taken this year & began to cry. Another year. Another 365 days filled with God being exactly who He claims to be. Another year of seeing people give their lives totally over to Jesus; seeing my family grow in every area; watching friends move away because God’s¬† called them elseswhere, and getting to better know those people He’s put right around me. Another endless list of reasons to praise Jesus!¬† Oh, I love Him so much! I can’t put it into words… I can only strive to live it out every day in every way!

Because it’s so impossible to express this year in words, I’ll do it in pictures. Enjoy. And take time to Praise Jesus, specifically, for His faithfulness! (These pictures begin in January & go into the Spring)



(More to come…)



The Long Line, Part 1- Marie



History fascinates me. We’re connected to it. Much of our daily lives are a result of it.
Digging into history with my kids just delights me (although they’re not always as delighted, but close!.. sometimes.) As we’ve been reading about the Chilton family on the Mayflower, I’ve thought about my own heritage and wow…. I come from a long line of tough woman.

My Grandma, Marie Kissler Hoke, ¬†was a German born in Frank, Russia. ¬†(While hunting for her name a historical registry I found my own name¬†,along with all my aunts, uncles & brother & sister! Wild!) Grandma Marie defines determination & strength in a quiet, humble way. ¬†Here’s a little bit about her life.

Marie Kissler was conceived out of wedlock – obviously NOT her fault- during a time when children of unwed parents were shunned. ¬†Her biological father was completely out of the picture, but long before she was actually delivered into this world, her Mom married a very kind & loving man. Although this man, Henry, knew the truth of her beginnings, he lovingly treated my Grandma as though she were his own flesh & blood. Her own Mother, however, did not. Marie reminded her of painful past experiences & my Grandma suffered for it. Her Mom went so far as to mentioned several times within my Grandma’s earshot that she wished Marie had died instead of the other baby boy she’d lost when my Grandma Marie was very young. ¬†(Imagine that comment floating around in your head your entire childhood?)

Marie was a sickly little girl, and at age 7 she boarded a boat to ¬†America. Her parents hid her from ship personnel because she wasn’t well & they were afraid authorities would think her illness serious and send them all back to Russia. But she managed to make it into the country via Ellis Island. (I’ve found her parents & younger sister & brother’s names on the official registry, but Marie is not listed… unless she’s the one listed as Ann (her middle name). ¬†Her family spoke German at home but insisted that she learn English (it was considered an honor to be “American” and disgraceful to not learn the language. Seems reasonable to me.)

Her heart-breaking childhood ended abruptly. While she was still young, Grandma Marie became the bride of an arranged marriage to a man she didn’t love. Her new husband soon became violent. My Grandma & the seven children born to this union suffered the anger & physical violence of this man. When my Dad (who was the 2nd of 7 kids) was still young, Marie & her husband divorced. This was in the late 1930’s.. this DID NOT happen back then! ¬†Now my Grandma was even poorer than before and a single mom,in a time when that was not a common phrase.

At some point during her adult years she dedicated her life to Jesus and insisted on teaching her children what the Bible taught & taking them to church. Despite the never-ending difficulties of her life, Marie Ann Kissler Hoke did her best, dug in her heels and just did what she had to do.

When I a baby, Grandma Marie lived with my family for a season. Then her life took another disheartening turn – Alzheimer’s. She lived with us as long as it was safe, but eventually Grandma needed constant care. My Dad visited her very day. I saw her weekly. She didn’t usually know who I was, but her face would light up if we spoke of her brothers & sisters; her entire countenance brightened when we talked about Jesus! ¬†The nursing staff adored her. Her gentleness & quiet joy affected everyone in her life.

This lovely lady had very little circumstances in life to give her happiness, but she chose Jesus. She chose joy. He was her strength and the obvious reason for never becoming bitter & angry. I come from a long line of strong people with incredible examples to learn from … and I’m very grateful for my Grandma Marie.

Her earth suit is buried here… but the real Marie is with Jesus!

(Note: The telling of Marie’s story is based on my memories of ¬†her & the stories told by my Dad & Aunts and Uncles. if they, or my cousins, happen to read this post I welcome their additional comments or corrections.)

Another note: Our daughter, Mariah, is name after this strong & gentle woman, Grandma Marie. Our daughter, Courtney, shares Marie’s middle name, Ann, in her honor as well.