Heaven’s Gain {Project Hope}

When I lost my mom to cancer I was angry at God. How could a loving, perfect God take her away? Why would He? In that moment, in my little 10 year old heart, I shut Him out. I decided then and there that there couldn’t be a God. That He didn’t exist.

But all that left me with was a God shaped hole in my heart that only He could fill.

What I didn’t know back then was that He never promised that life was going to be easy….. He only promised that He would be there for us, in the midst of the hard. In the midst of the heartache and suffering. It has taken me many, many years to understand that comfort. To allow Him in. To know that His heart breaks even more than mine. And that out of the these ashes He will make beauty.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Romans 8:28

Jenifer-105

Project Hope started out as way in which I could embrace beauty from the ashes of what I experienced as a child. A way in which I could be a blessing to another family. What I didn’t realize when I started was that God was going to introduce me to one of the most beautiful people I will ever meet.

He was going to show me, once again, how a relationship with Jesus can get you through any trial. Any circumstance. And not only “get you through” but with peace- unspeakable peace, strength-unshakable strength and with joy- unending joy. He is the source of that. He is the reason why when people met Jenifer they saw something different. They were drawn to her. What they really saw was the Jesus in her.

I hope that you can see that in these images. That this is His beauty in the midst of heartache and loss and pain and grief. I am a broken vessel hoping that these images, that Jen’s message, will touch your heart. I want these images to be a gift. To Sofia & Logan. To Arnel. And also to you. I want you to see what true faith looks like. What it means to fight the fight. Finish the race. I want you to hear Jen’s heart.

It’s Easter coming up this weekend. A time when we celebrate what Jesus did for us. And I know in the very depth of my heart that Jenifer would have wanted you to hear this message. May your heart be open to believing….. Jesus died for You. For YOU. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. He chose death so that you might live. The bible says all you have to do is believe it and say it and you will have everlasting life.

It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”
Romans 10:9 The Message

I am so comforted to know that this is not our home. That while I am heartbroken to have lost Jenifer here on this earth, I know that it is really not goodbye. That I will see her again. My heart is comforted in the thought that she is with my mom, oh the stories they can share. I miss them both terribly.

Jenifer always told me- “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain”
Philippians 1:21-23

Our loss is indeed heaven’s gain.

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears…He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
Psalm 18: 6, 16

Krystal - what an amazing gift you gave to this family and to me to see the love in the heartbreak of everyday

Linda Z - Sweet, Sara. Denise was telling me about this project. What a beautiful journey you had the privilege of documenting. Thanks you for sharing Jenifer’s life and hope.

Thank you for sharing more of your story, too. “To allow Him in. To know that His heart breaks even more than mine. And that out of the these ashes He will make beauty.” I’ve been through such a struggle with my health the past 4 years, and now I am facing a breast biopsy in the days to come. Sometimes I feel like God has abandoned me, but your words remind me that His heart breaks for me and I need to let him in. Thanks you, friend. 🙂

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