My friend Jenny was a champion of faith, I must honor her…

My friend Jenny couldn’t move. Not anything. Not her hands, not her arms, she couldn’t wiggle her feet. She couldn’t bend her knees or her legs. She couldn’t move her arms. She could only turn her head. She couldn’t brush her hair the way she liked it. She couldn’t brush her teeth, she couldn’t blow her nose when she cried. My friend Jenny couldn’t bring a sip of water to her lips when she thirsted. My friend Jenny couldn’t DO anything!

So much was taken away from this woman at 35 years of age, mysteriously one day, within a 24 hour period, a virus of the spine and other mysteries that would leave her powerless -to move! From the neck down, completely paralyzed!  This all happened the same week I suddenly became stricken with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

From the beginning, the Lord was using Jenny in my life to keep things in perspective! So Jenny stayed close to my mind and heart as I prayed for her, and for my trifle trials, prayed for myself!

Our common ground? We were both moms, and ‘swim moms’ with kids swimming at the Y. God knit my heart to Jenny right from the start, and days moved on to months and months moved on to years . Our families went through huge crisis , emotional, financial, spiritual-but Jenny and her family – the crisis was extreme, (especially for Jenny!)

I would think of Jenny, pray for Jenny, and always be encouraged by Jenny and her commitment to ‘face each day with courage and hope in God’- her motivation – her girls, three beautiful daughters. And how she ‘cast her burdens ‘ continually to the Lord! She was always in communion with Him. She had the strongest spiritual arms ever!

Jenny was a witness to me. My eyes were open and I watched her ‘move’! It was her faith. It was her hope. It was her love.

Why do I share this story about my friend. Why do I expend energy in writing and wrestling with words in her honor? Because ultimately I am honoring a God who lived so abundant in her ! If you try to convince me there is no God because you can’t see Him- I will say,

“I am so sorry, because God can be seen by and through lives who are yielded and trusting in Him! God can be SEEN, if one opens their eyes!”

God opened my eyes to see one of His most beautiful diamonds, one of His most courageous champions!”
Wouldn’t you think there would be extreme amounts of bitterness and anger after  having survived this way for 5+years?!  None of that could be found in her! And an attitude of complaint? It was not found in her! She hoped and believed God even in the hardest and darkest times. Her cry went out to her Jesus – and I ‘saw’ with my own eyes, multiplied measures of ‘sufficient grace’ abounding in her!

God gave me this friend, because I was battling with hurt,and loss, and lack of faith, always ‘trying’ to let go, always ‘trying to forgive!’  I had suffered loss in my own life, but NOTHING compared to Jenny. I hadn’t suffered ANYTHING! Spending time with Jenny ignited my faith. And helped me ‘let go’ of the junk! If Jenny could, then I could too!

She Believed God and waited on His healing and held on to God, even though she couldn’t ‘hold on’ to anything!

When I began spending time with Jenny, it was like witnessing Ps. 18:“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield…”

Jenny couldn’t hold anything but she had a firm grasp on her shield of faith and her sword – her ears could hear: ‘I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.'” Gen. 15:1.  Jenny Believed God!

I have written many words in my hope to always resurrect in my mind all that I learned from my much needed friend. I needed Jenny.  In honor of my ‘champion’ friend, I share something I wrote while she lay in a hospital bed in Sept. of 2013. I would show up with my ‘baby Taylor’ in the hospital and we would sing praise and we would read God’s word together – and we were transformed together. God did amazing things…in me! Jenny was already there!

The Lord healed her completely on November 9, 2013 when He beckoned His bride, His ‘fair one’ to Rise up and come away into heaven. Jenny’s girls shared the love and faith of her mom on her memorial day, but beside that, NO Faith was shared on the day of her funeral. No one was aloud to share a song. No open mike was allowed…so… – it’s been two years. (You know I have written a book-full of letters), but I share a few thoughts that her life helped bring out in me:

“A river reaches places which its source never knows…

This was a thought in Oswald Chamber’s ‘My Utmost for His Highest’. How true it is.
He wrote on Sept. 6 about the ‘Far-Reaching Rivers of Life’ and started with the verse,
“He who believes in Me… out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

Oswald continued, “rivers reach places its source never knows. And Jesus said that, if we have received His fulness, ‘rivers of living water’ will flow out of us, reaching in blessing even ‘to the end of the earth’ (Acts 1:8) regardless of how small the visible effects of our lives may appear to be. We have nothing to do with the outflow – ‘This is the work of God, that you believe…’ John 6:29.”

I think of my dear friend Jenny, whom I have shared with you. At this time she lays alone on a hospital bed, unable to do anything in room 609 paralyzed from the neck down. O, but she BELIEVES God! Even in her moments of doubt, she believes deep down. “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.” Ps. 46:4,5.

This river of life in her, the Spirit of God that dwells in her, flows with full vigor even though her own body has none. I think of God’s word: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” 1 Cor. 6:19. This river has been a most powerful source and has sustained her these 51/2 years!

So I am reminded again of John 7:38, ‘This is the work of God that you believe’.  God is working and is working still, ‘this is the work of God that you believe!’

Jenny  BELIEVES God, (and I write all caps to emphasize that her faith is greater than the average person) and her life is ever -reaching in blessing, I believe beyond what we can know. ‘Regardless of how small the visible effects of our lives may appear to be…’, and to Jenny, there are no visible effects, in her body…

but there are visible effects in and through her and those she touches with her faith!  After she was in the hospital room for 3 1/2 weeks already, (and most of us would have been beside ourselves after 3 days), Jenny’s first words to me when I walked in the room were, “God is answering prayer.” (She didn’t offer any complaint after being stuck in a hospital bed for 3 1/2 weeks, not one!)

Yes, God is answering prayer! As the body of Christ prays, “O Lord God, give me more patience!” Perhaps God is quieting our impatient spirits when we think of our sister in Christ. Or, what about loneliness, when it creeps in and we want to fill it with other things instead of giving  God first place in our lives? This woman has suffered rejection from significant others, but God is her all and all. She is an example to us all in perseverance! Yes, this ‘river is reaching places which its source never knows’!

God has done an amazing work in this willing vessel. This river may be blocked at times by obstacles, but it just keeps on flowing with great perseverance with thoughts of truth, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Heb 13:5,6).

And as we pray and ‘remember Jenny’, God is doing a work of ‘believing in our hearts as well. God has given us an example of one who has no other choice than to keep her eyes on the Source. And there is healing and there are ‘far-reaching rivers developing and nourishing themselves in all our souls’ as we seek Him and believe Him for who He is.

Jenny is right, “God is answering prayer,” as she said. He is doing a work in each of our hearts – to believe Him! Perhaps we keep this child-like song close to our broken and discouraged hearts:

“I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me. Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see. Opens prison doors sets the captives free, I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me. Spring up O well, and fill my soul. Spring up O well, and make me whole, Spring up O well, and give to me, that life abundantly!” (Sept. 2013).

*    *    *    *

Jesus declared,“If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink and out of his innermost being shall gush forth torrents of living water.” (John 7:37,38)  Jenny came to Jesus continually! He was her constant companion in great loneliness and loss. And God answered her cries, He  filled her with the Holy Spirit, over and over again!  How  we need a filling of the ‘river whose streams make glad the city of God.’ (Psalm 46:4).

“We are thirsty Lord! Fill us, that we might have faith!” Even faith like my dear friend where it can be spoken that: “God is in the midst of her; She shall not be moved.”(Psalm 46:5)!(Exclamation point, mine!)

And she is with you now, Jesus. And SHE IS MOVING! Halleluiah! And for us here on this thorny earth- she is a witness STILL that we persevere in hope and grace!

Thank you Jenny. We will meet again one day!


Author: tonirypkema

Wife to 1, mother of 11, daughter of 1. "The most amazing woman in the world." -Jared (son)

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