Mills family house fire - March 8, 2009

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A sudden disaster, fraught with terrible loss and affliction, has struck our family again. Perhaps you saw the news on TV about a house fire in Tarkington, Texas on Sunday, March 8, 2009, at 3:00 p.m.
This was the home of Wiley and Debbie Mills. Debbie is my niece, daughter of my brother Sonny who died July, 20, 2008.

Debbie and Wiley's son, Bryan (SR), was working on his four-wheeler outside the double garage. His two sons, Little Bryan (JR), age 2-1/2, and Dylan (same name as the famous poet, pronounced "Dillon"), age 1-1/2, were playing inside the garage. Bryan saw the flash of fire instantaneously with an explosion. The boys screamed! Little Bryan ran out, shouting to his dad, "Bubba in there!"
Debbie and Emmalee (Bryan's wife and mother of the boys), alarmed by the explosion, flee from inside the house to the yard and see the garage consumed by fire.
Bryan dashed through the flames. He saw Dylan on the other side of the water heater which was in the corner at the back and out of the fire. He could not go any further -- tortured by the pain of his clothes burning. He yelled at Emmalee. She could safely rescue Dylan. Debbie called "911" for fire trucks and ambulance.

Wiley, who had been away on an errand, arrived. Not knowing how quickly the ambulance would come, put Emmalee and Dylan in his pickup and headed for town.
They met the ambulance on the way and transferred Emmalee and Dylan therein to continue the trip to the Cleveland Hospital.

Wiley returned to the house, which was totally in flames. Fire trucks had arrived.
Bryan was wearing shorts and received 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his right side, arm, leg, foot, and left lower leg. Wiley took him to the hospital in Cleveland. They sent him, by ambulance, to the Memorial Herman Hospital Burn Center in Houston, Texas, with facilities to treat 30% bodily burns.
The Cleveland Hospital staff called for Life Flight immediately to take little Dylan to a burn center in Shreveport, Louisiana. He had 3rd degree burns over 80 % of his body. Emmalee, her dad, an aunt and uncle traveled to Shreveport by car.

Jim Gerace, Dylan's other grandfather, is a Shriner. He was interviewed on TV Channel II where he stated emphatically the need for a burn center in Houston to replace the one in Galveston destroyed by Hurricane Ike. There are only four others in the U.S.A. You can see this news break on
On Monday, March 16, Bryan underwent skin graphing. They took skin from his left thigh and graphed from his right knee to his foot. He will need treatments during the next four weeks. He was anxious to be sent to Shreveport Hospital to be near Dylan and Emmalee. This wish was granted on March 25 when he was released from Memorial Herman -- but will continue treatments here.

Dylan is in critical but stable condition. He passed the 96-hour crisis, which meant he would survive. He wore a fireproof diaper and little rubber boots which were protect- tion from the fire. They took skin from the diaper area to send off to Boston, Mass. to begin growing skin for him. It takes 21-23 days. On March 10, they did a tracheotomy.

He will be hospitalized at least six months.

He was bandaged from head to toe; each tiny finger individually wrapped. His eyes were sutured to allow healing. My most urgent prayer to God was that Dylan would not be blind. The most exciting news thus far came on March 26 when they unstitched his eyes. He can see! They keep them taped most of the time. He watched cartoons on the 30th; "Tom & Jerry" on the 31st! His daily activities and progress can be seen on (enter "dylanmills).

During March, he had temporary pig skin graphs to sustain body fluids; was on a blood pressure machine and ventilator; pain medication; blood transfusions. They took skin from his stomach and bottom for graphs on his face. When his skin was returned from Boston on March 31st, it replaced the pig skin on his body and arms. He will spend four hours a day for seven days under a heat lamp. On April 2nd, they removed all bandages and put him under a warming lamp to dry his skin. He is surpassing the doctor's expectations with several surgeries.

Very soon, they will transfer him to the Shriner's Burn Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio for future care and treatment. As of this date, he is off the ventilator as his lungs are clear and doing well. His kidneys are fine. He is a little fighter and MANY prayers are being answered for this precious little one. Please keep praying!

The fire completely destroyed the two-story frame house. Only the furniture in the downstairs bedroom, furthest from the garage, was saved. Wiley and Debbie live out in the country away from fire hydrants. All available pumper trucks carrying water were called in from surrounding towns. It was too late to save anything, because the fire spread so quickly. Wiley has been building on this home in his spare time for several years. It was almost finished -- the upstairs was incomplete. They could not get fire insurance until it WAS completed. The home is a total loss, along with all their possessions.
Bryan, Emmalee and their two sons lived in the two upstairs bedrooms -- one was over the garage. They, too, lost all their possessions. More info can be seen at
Debbie, Wiley and their daughter, Tammi are living in a small travel trailer on their land.

Friends in the community are planning a benefit for the Mills families
APRIL 18, 2009
Pelican Junction
1307 S. Highway 146
located just north of the Fred Hartman Bridge
Baytown, TX 77520
A silent auction will begin at 10:00 a.m.
BBQ plates will be served from 11:00 a.m. 'till 4:00 p.m.
There will be live entertainment, car show, motorcycle rides, raffles, 50/50 pots, auctions

Blood donations are encouraged. You can donate in Dylan's name and he will receive credit.

A financial donation can be made in care of Dylan Mills Burn Fund at any CHASE Bank or WACHOVIA Bank location.

Consider this illustration from the booklet "The Assurance of Salvation" by Kurt De Hann:

A man was fishing on a quiet lake after dark. The air was still, and the moon was reflected perfectly in the water. After looking at it for a while, he whimsically cast his lure into the reflection The image shattered into a thousand pieces. Now, had the moon actually been broken? Of course not! The reflection had. He had only to look heavenward to assure himself that the moon was still there, shining in all of its beauty.

Likewise, the joy of a Christian's salvation can be shattered by unfortunate circumstances…The believer must look upward in faith to God and to the assurance of His Word to have his confidence restored.

"He is risen; He is not here"

(Matthew 28:6; Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6)

Every year of your life, around this season, you hear those unquestionable words. For about 15 years, I built interest centers in my church. I loved doing "Easter." I had large 4"x6" cards with the above letters all glittered in sparking silver sprinkles, and I strung the message across the center. Sometimes I'd build a cave from brown wrapping paper representing the empty tomb. Jack would take me deep into the woods and cut branches of blooming dogwood trees to beautify the area. I had permission from a wholesale florist to purchase lots of affordable large potted Easter lilies to add to my garden scene.

Every time I hear a pastor preach about the crucifixion, tears roll down my cheeks. We will never know the pain Jesus suffered for our sins. The thirty-nine lashes with the whip is intolerable for me. I grew up before "time outs." Every time we disobeyed our parents, we got a whipping, mostly with a leather belt. I can only remember one whipping, and I wasn't guilty! Of course, I didn't get caught for some times of disobedience. God knows about them all. Jesus suffered for ALL sinners: for the person who just stole a pencil and the one who robbed a bank. The one who told a lie and the one who committed an atrocious murder.

Jesus did not die so we could continue to sin; but that we'd have His power to resist sin.
Becoming a Christian does not put us in a sinless state. When we goof up, He allows us to confess; to sincerely promise to do better; and He forgives us.

Three times, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking God if this was the only way. "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." "Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done." "And (He) prayed the third time, saying the same words." (Matthew 26: 39, 42, 44). It WAS God's will; and Jesus was willing to obey. They had planned this before the world was created:

He knew the suffering He must endure. How much suffering could you endure? My cousin Eugene committed suicide because he could no longer endure the pain of his back injury. When I am in pain, I think of Jesus, and I know He suffered much more.

"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold , from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot; who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God" (I Peter 1:18-21).

From Tyndale's Living Bible: "God paid a ransom to save you from the impossible road to heaven which your fathers tried to take, and the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver, as you very well know. But He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose Him for this purpose long before the world began but only recently was He brought into public view, in these last days, as a blessing to you."

God did not save us to begin the Christian life -- He saved us to finish life as a Christian.
"Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen" (Jude 24,25).

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