Note: Danielle is the brunette. Jamiee is the blonde.
After moving into our new home, one of the “hidden treasures” my husband (Rony) found while he was unpacking was a DVD to the Christmas production he, and his first wife (Jaimee) wrote called “Enchanted.” Jaimee was the star reindeer who left the North Pole in search of the “true meaning of Christmas.” It only took hearing her laugh one time before I was intrigued by what I was watching. In that same moment, my heart was also flooded with sadness as I realized that I had forgotten what Jaimee sounded like and how much I deeply missed my friend. Tears welled up in my eyes as my husband squeezed my hand. I felt slightly uncomfortable with what I was feeling. It’s a strange feeling…your husband consoling you for the loss of your best friend, his first wife. Anyone who knows our story would see how this experience could be weird, yet completely honest as well.
In that moment, as my husband comforted me, our hearts and minds were in the same place, reminiscing some of our favorite memories with Jaimee. I met Jaimee for the first time in college when she walked into our room announcing herself as my new “roomie.” She was full of energy, passion, and life. I was so excited to become friends. Her love for the Lord and faith inspired me deeply. Her muffin joke and snort-filled laughter would always make us both giggle even more. We loved talking about real matters of the heart, Jesus Christ, and of course our future husbands! Our friendship was divinely orchestrated by Jesus. Watching her fall in love with her husband was a beautiful example of true love. On her wedding day, I stood by her side as Maid of Honor, elated as she said “I do” to the man of her dreams, Rony Renfrow III.
It was a hot August day in 2010 that grief and heartache invaded my heart in the most intrusive way. “She’s gone home to be with Jesus, Danielle.” I always thought the Lord would have healed her broken body on earth or that she would have been the oldest living person with Cystic Fibrosis. She was one of God’s greatest warriors and lived her life to glorify Him in everything.
Just hours after her passing, Rony wrote a beautiful article on her journey home to Heaven: “We don’t understand why after all this God chose to still take Jaimee home.
We know that we see things through a mist and one day will know fully. Perhaps it was to bring us together as a family, to lead us to depend on one another and learn to love each other more than we could have ever naturally known how. Perhaps it was to rid us of our preoccupation with the useless things in life and teach us how to lean and trust on God alone…to shift our focus on what really matters and therefore truly live – the way she did when she would sing “take my life and let it be Yours!” Perhaps it was to bring light and life to the people caring for her in the hospital. Perhaps it was so we could rest in the fact that everything had been attempted and Jaimee’s wishes had been fulfilled, and that with the situation perfectly in hand, He was choosing to take her home. Perhaps it’s so we could have the chance and the time to say goodbye.
All we know is that Jaimee believed in and was surrendered to her purpose, awake or asleep, and that she would go home when that purpose would be fulfilled. Be in a week or in 30 years, she was fine with whichever. And today, after pushing the limits of medicine and of the unbelievable, she has finally gone home, her heart sealed for the courts above.”
Grief and peace. It’s hard to think about how these two emotions go hand in hand. I do not understand how we are able to experience a depth of grief, yet at the same time, an abundance of peace. It only takes one moment for grief to enter into a person’s life. A single moment can altar everything and fast forward us into a grave of undesirable heartache. The depth of one’s grief is never fully expected, nor is it something one can be prepared for. The best way to plow through grief is by choosing to trust the Lord, the Prince of Peace, who floods our hearts with an abundance of serenity. Although, we may encounter questions of who, what, when, where, and why, without any answers, grief causes us to discover why we need God. In the midst of our grief, God gives us supernatural peace to come face to face with Him, as we choose to fully put our faith in all that He says He is, and all that He says He does. Truthfully, in such a time of heartache, peace does not make sense, but there is something about God given peace that births hope and healing. As Rony became saturated in God’s peace, facing the depth of his grief, God began to do a powerful healing in his heart and life.
Shortly after Jaimee died, I began praying for Rony’s future wife. I wondered if her and I would be friends! I knew Rony was a total heart throb! Rony’s love and passion for Jesus, his good looks, and his incredibly huge heart would be desirable for any woman. I knew that someday he would find his bride,when the time was right. So, I prayed for him and his future wife. I prayed for the Lord to speak to her heart and open her heart up to Rony and his story. I prayed that she would be understanding that Jaimee’s family would forever be part of Rony’s life, and Jaimee’s influence in Rony’s life helped make him who he is today. Mostly, I prayed for divine healing over Rony’s heart and an unspeakable joy to invade his life. I believed for God to make all things new in his heart.
It was the end of May 2012, I was attending a funeral for a mutual friend and Rony was leading worship. I walked up to my friend, Rony, and hugged him. Some people say that it was the most awkward hug because it lasted way too long for two “friends,” but this was a moment that changed everything for us both. We both look back to that moment as the day the Lord awakened our love and unveiled our eyes for one another. It was hardly a surprise how quickly we fell in love. It was only five months later that we vowed our love to one another!! As I think on all the Lord has done, I am left speechless at how God paints his story within our stories. Jaimee and I used to talk about my future husband and she would tell me how she is praying for someone just like Rony, a man after God’s heart who is passionately in love with Him and reaching those who do not know Him! It is so weird to think about that now.
I believe that what we have experienced is one of the most beautiful examples of God’s redemption and healing! Rony fell in love with the love of his life, Jaimee. She was everything to him and he has never loved anyone like he loves her. She was the perfect woman that he planned and dreamed about the rest of his life with. She was his best friend, ministry partner and lover. When Jaimee went to Heaven his heart broke and his life drastically changed. He even said at times that he would never marry again. He had only one person to turn to with his questions, heartache, and disappointment…Jesus, the One who was painting his story. It was in this time of fully trusting God that Rony experienced the true miracle of divine healing. In order for him to fullylove me as his wife, God had to mend every hole, tear, and rip in his heart before he could fully love me. Rony will tell me that he has never loved anyone like he loves me. Of course, that
statement does not make much sense when you consider the life and death of his first bride, but God’s ability to heal the broken hearted is profoundly perfect.
The reason that I believe Rony loves me with his whole heart, as the woman of his dreams, is because God made all things new in him. God is the Redeemer in every story of our lives. There is always hope. God does not and has not forgotten all that is lost and broken. There is nothing God cannot recreate, repaint, or revive in your life.
So, this is Danielle and she is beautiful.
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