Beauty from ashes

Aug 29

Beauty from ashes

When we were on vacation, we sat on the balcony and watched a storm roll in from the ocean.  If you’ve never done this, I highly recommend it.  It is a majestic experience.

When the storm hit, we scurried around.  We brought dry things inside and moved the furniture away from the rain.  We prepared for the storm, just as we are now preparing for my surgery and the impact it will have on my family.  We are doing our own version of scurrying; we are anticipating what is to come.

Trepidation.  Awe.  Excitement.  Anticipation.  Fear.  Wonder.  This is me and G, experiencing the storm together:

These are many of the same emotions that I am feeling as we approach surgery.  We are gearing up our lives, home, and hearts for the surgery.  We’re praying, we’re planning, we’re preparing.  Life changes for us on Thursday; Brad and I leave in the wee hours for the hospital, and the girls will wake up with SuperGramma.  We can do this.  We will do this.  God will be glorified in this.

I am reminded that after the storm, every thing is fresh and new.  Stunning, even.  After the storm.  The storm has to happen to get to the beauty.  And the beauty is so. worth. it.  I am reminded of the verse that talks about beauty from ashes.  The storm reveals a new beauty in the earth.  The surgery reveals a new hope for my life on this earth.

This is us, after the storm:


Isn’t it beautiful?

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives 
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor 
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, 
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes, 
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning, 
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

–Isaiah 61:1-3



  1. Ginny /

    Peace to you and yours… my prayers. Ginny (from Canada)

  2. And one day we will look back and say, “Remember the storm in 2012?” because it will be over, everything will be beautiful again and we will see the world with more appreciative eyes, because we weathered the storm………..with God’s help.

  3. Julie /

    Well written and how very true…thanks for sharing and for the pics…we are all behind you 100% and then some. Thinking of you often but tomorrow all day 🙂 Good luck Jen…many prayers coming your way! If anyone can weather the storm it is you with the good Lord behind you. You are an awesome team!


  4. suenitz /

    Oh Jen. I am in awe of you! I have this plaque on my kitchen sink window. It has the fruits from the Holy Spirit on it from the following verse:

    The Fruit of the Spirit
    By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23

    You possess all these gifts. I have felt through all your posts, especially this one, the Holy Spirit working in your life. You possess all the tools you will need and after you are all healed you will be so thankful for the experience. I know that from your perspective it is not about you but about everyone else around you. You have inspired, strengthened and shown love in everything you have done and everyone you have touched. For the next few weeks allow this time to be about you. Let everyone take care of you and when you are alone, close your eyes and feel the peace and love of God. I can guarantee you this. He has big plans for you.

  5. Kim Rourke /

    “They” say that half the battle is in one’s attitude. I say, you have this battle WON! Our whole school will be raising you up in prayer tomorrow!

  6. Rebecca /

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful family pictures. You are in my thoughts often and tomorrow I will send my thoughts to you all day. You inspire me with every post. By the way, you are gorgeous – inside and out! Sister on!

  7. Angela /

    Jen, praying over you!! May the surgeon know exactly what to cut, and what margins are needed to make you cancer-FREE. May your recovery be quick. May your rest be deep and life-giving. May your pain be managed well. May your girls be kept so busy and feel so loved that they do not miss you terribly – may it be more of a “Gramma camp” than anything – and may they have stories of adventure to delight you each time you talk!! May Brad feel peace during this time; may it draw you even closer. Sending love and healing to Rozz – praying over her not only as a Survivor but a caregiver – and the rest of your family, and you, Jen. I’ll send hugs from Michigan for the last time in awhile – starting tomorrow it will be hand squeezes and gentle high fives. Soldier on, brave girl! You have been given an amazing opportunity to be The Light of God to all you encounter. Even in Darkness your Light cannot be extinguished, for the One who gives the Light has already won the battle and can not be defeated. Hugs/Hand squeezes from Michigan!

  8. Kristen /

    You can do this! We will be praying BIG for you, your family, and your doctors tomorrow and all the days to come. Now go in there and rock this out so you can start enjoying all the sunny days after the storm passes! Much love to you from NC!

  9. Your beauty and faith shine so lovingly through your words. You are an inspiration for all of us. Praying for you, dear Jen!

  10. Wow. Best of luck and sending some mighty prayers your way! You will overcome this and be even stronger. Jen

  11. Can you say ” What a Stunning Family Photo ” !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Priceless ~ Really ~ Jen, you are so beautiful ~ You are an extremely Striking Woman ~ Inside & Out !!!!! Prayers & Peace, as you enter the next phase of your journey 🙂

  12. Lyndsay /

    Praying so hard for you and your beautiful family. You will be in my thoughts on Thursday and the days to follow, as you recover. You will beat this. There is NO doubt. Love from, Ontario, Canada

  13. Annie /

    Wow, what a storm you and your family have been weathering! It’s so wonderful that you’ve been able to set anchor for a while and enjoy family time relaxing at the beach. Jen, with your attitude, fortitude and grace you’ll come through with bright rays of sunshine and crystal clear waters! As you navigate this next voyage, GOD is with you, so stay calm and follow Captain and crews orders. You have many shipmates anxiously willing to pray, help, and pamper you. Brad, Maren and Greta will sail through with big help from SuperGramma, so concentrate on YOU becoming CANCER FREE. We love you! Aunt Annie

  14. Dave Schreier /

    Praying, praying, praying. Thursday will be dedicated to you in prayer.

  15. The picture you open with, really spoke to me. And the story that comes with it is simply mindblowing. I wish you a beautiful after-storm time, with the same fait that speaks from your pictures and words.

  16. Shelley Carter /

    Jen – what a beautiful post. Tomorrow morning, when I wake up, my iPhone is going to give me a “Pray pray pray” message so that I remember to pray for you and the surgery before my feet hit the ground. God is with you; He will be with you tomorrow; and He will watch over your family.

    I also want you to know that God is using you to bless other people, and has, in fact, used you to bless me even though we have never met. I had a late miscarriage last week (at 14 weeks) and in my sadness after finding out what had happened, I thought of you. I thought of your grace, your strength, and how God has carried you through your experience with cancer. I realized that God would (and is) doing the same thing for me and that I just needed to let Him have the control and trust in His plan for my life.. Thank you — you are a wonderful reminder of how we need to lean on God in the storms of life, and I’ve very thankful that I found your blog.

  17. Sue Brelsford /

    Continuity gives us roots, change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights……..

    – Pauline R. Kezer

    You are not traveling this road alone. Your journey has reminded many of us that the only thing that’s constant is change. We’re all stretching and growing and by that may our prayers and good thoughts help lift you up to that grand new height……CANCER FREE.

    The Neighbor

  18. Mary (Uncle George's sister) /

    Dear, Jen, I haved followed your blog right along and have been faithfully praying for you and your family. This post in particular touched me to respond for the first time. Everything is beautiful, Jen, starting with you.Your perseverance in faith and love of God is beautiful. Your journey is beautiful. Your hope is beautiful. Your inspiration to others is beautiful. Your trust in God for your future is beautiful. Your wifehood is beautiful. Your motherhood is beautiful. All the beauty around you and in your life and therefore extended to all of us is beautiful because of you and your beautiful soul. You sit humbly at His mercy and wait and accept and give thanks. You are beautiful to behold.

  19. Mary Anne fisher /

    I am so amazed by your strength, actually it’s your GRACE. I have been following your story for about a month and havent commented until now. Glennon sent me your way;) I love each and every post and how eloquently you write. Your words touch my heart and I just “get it”…each and every time I read your words.

    Please know that I am praying for you and your family to BE FREE! Your daughters and husband are so blessed to have you by their side…and my prayer is that you will have many, many more years to do so on this side of Heaven. You have faced this trial with as much grace as I have ever seen…and that is such a beautiful thing in itself. I cant wait to read your updates as you heal…and will rejoice when you let us know that you really are FREE…cancer free!

    Best, best wishes,


  20. Prayers are coming always!

  21. Melissa /

    I second what Angela said above. May God give you peace as you take this next step. Will be holding you and your family close in prayer!

  22. Your post is so powerful. Before a storm I often feel the static and smell wet, metallic air. You are in those same moments now. I hope you can take a few breaths and capture your feelings once during such a powerful transformation. I look forward to reading your words to understand the experience. You capture everything so well. You are so right about the beauty on the other side. Even the storm itself is beautiful. The magic of all the medical practioners, surgeons, nurses, and everyone who will be part of the cancer removal is like an army of God’s angel scouring your body. Just like the storm, washing away the unnecessary to leave you lighter and stronger afterwards.

  23. Laura C /

    You are every night in my heart and in my prayers. God will be with you every step of the way and will guide the hands and minds of the doctors and nurses that will perform the surgery. We will cheer you on and send all the positive energy we got. You can do this!! The storm will pass and you’ll see the beautiful reward at the end. Much much much love!

  24. Bonniebj /

    Your words speak volumes Jen – it’s as if the Lord is speaking through you. Tomorrow is your day and we’ll all be praying for you as the doctors preform their gifts. Praying peace over you as the day progresses and until you’re home at your Mom and Dads. Brad, Maren and Greta will do well as I believe a supernatural peace will cover you all during this next season. The Lord loves you with an all encompassing love!!!

  25. BethanyB. /

    The storms down here in the summer are quick, as you’ve seen. I hope your “storm” is just ask quick. 2012 and that’s it, that’s all cancer gets. I’ll be thinking of you all tomorrow, especially during our quick afternoon storm.

  26. There are so many people praying for you tomorrow!! We have been praying for you, through all of this.You are such an awesome example of Christs love and strength! We pray God will lead the hands that will work on you and give you comfort and peace. We miss you so much here in Iowa. God’s blessings to you and your whole family.
    North Liberty Mops Moms

  27. Will be thinking of you and your family tomorrow. Another step towards the peace after the storm.

  28. michelle /

    Jen. We have never met yet I feel as if I know you. Your dad was my company’s insurance broker & he told us your story. I immediately began following your blog. I look forward to reading. You have inspired me to be a better person & mother. Thank you! I want to wish you the best of luck tomorrow & the coming days. I will continue praying for you & your entire family. & support system. (((Hugs)))

  29. Very beautiful post! And the pictures are too:) I love the line you wrote:”the storm has to happen to get to the beauty.” That’s so true of difficult times in life and this “storm” in your life. Praying for peace in your heart and your continued trust in God to get you through this. Much love!!

  30. Jen, my prayers are with you and your family tomorrow.

  31. Jenn t /

    Many thoughts and swet wishes for you all day tomorrow jen! You got this. Virtual stranger hugs to you.

  32. I have tears filling my eyes from reading this post. I’ve been reading backwards over the past week, as I was vacationing on the other side of the country (at the beach!) with my family. The fabulous thing about reading backwards (the posts, not the words themselves) is seeing the answered prayers of safety and health and cancer-free body parts…. and then continuing to read and seeing the FAITH and TRUST that went *before* the prayers were answered. And that is incredibly awesome. Your story, Jen, is a testimony.