Beauty for ashes and other stuff

Our bible school runs on a 3 weeks on, one week off cycle. Since it is so intensive, it gives everyone (including our hard-working pastor) a little time to take a breather and squeeze in all those other things we never seem to find the time for. At the end of the 3 weeks of teaching, the bible school students are required to give a 3-minute talk on something that they had learned whilst school was in session.

Last night was one of those nights. I wanted to be faithful and do my part but there were a few moments whilst I was waiting my turn to share that I thought I might have to bow out. I was getting a bit teary-eyed and emotional. The topic we have been studying is something very familiar to me at the moment: dying to self and sacrificing everything to Jesus.

I managed to get up and share…and got some good feedback afterwards. A friend, Phyllis, said something that I noted down in my bible and thought I’d write down here. Phyllis has her own heavy burden to bear and at times it seems so unsurmountable. She was telling her husband all about it over the ‘phone (he is doing missionary work in Zambia) and he told her: “Phyllis, God isn’t trying to take something from you, he is trying to get something to you.”

That’s my quote of the week/month/year.  As hard as it is to lay Jenna at Jesus’ feet and keep surrendering my life to him, I can trust that he didn’t take her from me to rob me but to add something to my life. The form that that ‘something’ is going to take is not quite clear to me yet but I know that he is faithful. I truly believe that I will one day be able to say: “He gave me beauty for ashes….”

I went to the baby shower of our assistant pastor’s wife this morning. She is expecting a little girl – in fact there is a spate of little girls being born at our church lately.  I was doing fine until another friend took me to her car to give me a yard ornament that reminded her of Jenna – a little curly-haired girl sitting on a bench holding two rabbits. The tears started flowing – and the sweet hugs and smiles of my other friends made me even more weepy. I told them to stop being so sweet to me so I could stop crying but they said there was no need to apologise for my tears, they were glad to have me there (and impressed that I had even gone) and I could cry all I wanted to.

Once we started eating and opening presents it went better, and I can honestly say I had a good time.  I love my church family!

For those of you who are curious about the current status quo in my life:

I am missing Jenna more than ever and sometimes frustrated that I can’t remember the smallest details, such as which shoes she wore the last time we went to the Ribault monument. Silly to get so hung up on details, huh. I also get frustrated when I remember something she said or did the one moment, but then it eludes me again later – I am going to start to write things down because sadly, all I have is my memories.

I am turning into a sentimental fool, tempted to save the smallest things that have some kind of connection with Jenna. This morning, throwing away the empty saline bottle that I had been using with Jenna on our trip to South Africa was a concious decision. As household items are getting used up I catch myself thinking: “I bought this with Jenna the last time we were in Walmart…” Soon many things in this house will be things that no longer had anything to do with her and that saddens me. Every time I clean, I think to myself that I might be wiping away a stray, invisible fingerprint or vacuuming up a last little strand of her hair.

I am amazed at how much more time I have at my disposal nowadays. Jenna kept me busy! I am trying to play the piano more and hoping to get to the point where I can actually lead worship. Singing and playing together isn’t quite as difficult as it was before. I also want to study the bible more diligently and sadly, I still find myself spending too much time on the computer.

Tom, Jenna’s favorite ‘big fat cat’, has lucked out and is now a coddled pet. He is a link to Jenna, and I often give him the cuddles and hugs she would have given him if she were still here. Tom often strolls around the house, miaowing loudly as if he is looking for Jenna (or most likely just trying to go outside and fight with the other cats), which drives the hubby crazy. But he tolerates it with a sigh for my sake, precious man that he is.

I ‘lost it’ a little bit on Monday. The middle boy heard me crying and found me in the tv. room/Jenna’s playroom hugging one of her soft toys. He stood around, scratching my back in an attempt to soothe me and then went to remonstrate with his brothers: “What’s wrong with you guys? Can’t you hear mom is crying?”  It ended up with all 4 of us cuddling in my bed and talking about all the silly, funny, frustrating, exasperating, cute things Jenna used to do. It was a precious time with my 3 boys.

8 responses to “Beauty for ashes and other stuff

  1. As I read your post all I could think of was an old song (I think it’s old Southern Gospel) my dad used to sing with one of his quartets. If you know it I hope it brings you joy, if you don’t, call me and I’ll sing it to you! haha

    “Something beautiful, something good.
    All my confusion, He understood.
    All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife,
    but He made something beautiful of my life.”

    I’ll think of you every time I think of this song now. Still keeping your family in my prayers.
    In Christ –

  2. Big Hugs. I cannot imagine how difficult things are right now. I love that quote from Phyllis’ husband. How sweet and true. I can see beauty through your ashes already, sweetheart.

  3. Hello lovey. I have tears on my cheeks at the moment. I was fine til I read the last part about the boys. I still pray for you, dear sister.

    I know it’s not comparable, but the grief I’ve been through is similar concerning the details. I have so much ‘junk’ that was Keri’s. Trust me, it really is junk, but the point is that it was Keri’s – which is the reason I still have it almost 11 years later. I have every email and chat with Dan’l saved on 2 different computers. Every time I ride in my dad’s truck, I think to myself “Dan’l sat in this seat.” You’re not crazy or obsessive, it’s normal. The details do matter and are important.

    I wish I had words to give you that would help, but I’m afraid your healing is in the hands of Jesus – and His time. If it were up to me, I would mend your broken heart, or mine for that matter, but He makes everything beautiful in His time. I know sometimes the pain can be overwhelming and that’s the part I would spare you, but that’s also the part I’ve learned that Jesus uses to make you into His image. There’s no rush. Take your time. Take HIS timing.

  4. I’m crying with you today, Sumi. I too miss my Hannah so dreadfully. I too go in her room and cry some times. I find myself holding on to EVERYTHING I find that she made, including the crayoning on the walls. If Hannah were still with me, there are so many coloring pages I would have already tossed, and instead, I hoard them all.

    I went digging through the trash can in her room the other day, realizing she was the last person to touch all the trash in the basket. I dug, frantically searching for something, *anything* that could connect me with my Monkey.

    I once yelled at Brien because he wiped a Hannah handprint off the tv screen. He told me would couldn’t save them all, and it HURT.

    It’s now been 8 months and it doesn’t hurt with the searing intensity it once did. Keep your faith and your friends, as they will carry you through this.

    I hold you close to my heart and in my prayers. Many many HUGS to you.


  5. I know I don’t post very often but I think of you daily and pray for you too. ((((hugs))))

  6. Hey Sumi..thinking of you today and the painful road you are walking..(((((((HUGS))))))))) for you…I pray that you have many moments of cuddling in His embrace with Jenna..
    ~Love, Sita~

  7. Just stopping by to say hi.

    Love ya,


  8. donnamichelle

    I wish that my tears at the moment could somehow lessen your own. I wish I had words but for a change… I don’t.

    I am praying for you and thinking about you often.

    I asked about you the other day- was starting to worry a little because I noticed you hadn’t posted.

    Love you tons Sumi
    ***H U G***

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