“I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me” (Psalm 69:2).
My sweet friend, Charmé asked me several months ago to consider sharing how God has walked beside me through the past few years of my life. Just processing what has happened the past seven years feels overwhelming, but with God’s gentle, constant prompting and Charmé’s patience and encouragement, here are just a few snapshots of my life and that of my family with God’s handprint in everything!
My name is Jenny Yust. I grew up going to church and being introduced to the things of God and I definitely would have identified myself as a Christian. However, there were many parts of my life that did not reflect what God’s word says about a Christ follower. Thanks be to God that when I was 28 years old the Holy Spirit revealed my lack of true relationship with Jesus and everything changed in my life. He truly became Lord of my life, and I can’t even share all the ways that He has walked with me and talked with me every day of my life. Currently I am married to my precious husband of 31 years, Shon, and am blessed to have two adult children, Parker (who is headed to the Philippines to be a campus missionary) and Macy (who is a senior at Kansas State University and preparing to take the next step God has for her) and then my amazing 11-year-old, Zoey who is truly a daily joy in my life! God in his sovereignty is currently using me to teach Spanish at Mighty Oaks Enrichment Center, facilitate a Bible Study at Mighty Oaks for 3rd-6th graders, lead ladies Bible studies at my home church in Spring Hill, Kansas and run a ministry called Team Hally (teamhally.org). Today I would love to share with each of you why God called me to start a ministry called Team Hally.
Looking back at this summer the list is long of God’s goodness! This past summer our family has enjoyed a trip to Arizona and the beauty of the Grand Canyon, dessert trails, and beautiful caves, spearfishing in the Bahamas, helping with wheat harvest on the family farm, waterski tournaments around the state, one of the most epic fireworks displays we’ve ever had, giving Bibles to local church VBS programs and camps, and watching our 11-year-old participate in her first 4-H county fairs and barrel races. So many special memories and so much joy. “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
However, seven years ago our family had a very different summer than we expected. The summer of 2014 began much like this summer did with our family excited for waterskiing, harvest, swimming lessons, VBS, family vacations, time with friends, and the pool! Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” I’m so thankful that the secret things belong to the Lord because if He would have revealed what would happen from July 4-10, I’m not sure I could have survived!
As I reflect on that week as well as the weeks before, I now know that God was preparing our family to walk through the deepest waters we could have imagined at that time. That summer my husband Shon and I had four children, Parker-16, Macy-13, Hally-9, and Zoey-3. Our family loves to waterski and all of us even ski competitively. The hidden thing we didn’t know about was a rare amoeba that can enter into someone’s brain from the water. Our blond-haired, blue-eyed daughter Hally spent hours playing in the water at the waterski tournaments with her siblings and friends, but for some reason this rare amoeba got into Hally’s brain (without our knowledge!). One day Hally had a headache, the next day she was very sick with what I thought was a bad stomach virus, and the next day we were in the hospital very confused, and by the evening of July 8th, 2014, we were told that our daughter was brain dead.
Psalm 69:2 says, “I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.” Even as I write these words to you all today, tears are rolling down my cheeks, my throat is closing, my chest is tight, and the pain of those days wash over me again. HOWEVER, there is One who is closer than a brother, my anchor in the storm, and holds on to me no matter how the storm rages in my life and in my soul! In Psalm 23:4 David tells us that “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me;”. God showed me He was with me even when I was at the bottom of the valley through:
- a kind chaplain praying for Shon and I at the side of Hally’s bed
- friends and family making us meals
- neighbors driving us to the store when we were too grief-stricken to even drive
- our children who continued to laugh and live life
- God’s Word that revived my soul
- a sweet group of mamas of Hally’s friends who weekly prayed over me for months
- for a church family who allowed us to heal for as long as we needed
- and so much more!
I can’t even write down all the ways God showed me his love each moment and has continued to walk beside me, fill me up with Himself, comfort me, bring me back when I go astray, and teach me to number my days.
Truly as I couldn’t foresee the depth of the pain God would allow in my life; equally I couldn’t foresee how God could use the death of my daughter to show me how much He loves me and how He will provide each day exactly what I need as long as I seek Him first (Matthew 6:33). Soon after Hally went to heaven I felt lost, angry, and confused. I continued to read my Bible every day, journal to the Lord, seek wise counsel, and worship. However, to be honest I was struggling!
As God always does, He provided exactly the resource that gave my weary soul rest. When Hally died we were given over twenty books on grief. I prayed with my sister over the overwhelming stack of books and decided I would only keep the ones that contained Biblical advice and were based on Scripture. The book that I have now given to many who have gone through grief is called “The Book of Hope” by Nancy Guthrie. In addition, she has written a Bible study called “Holding on to Hope.” One of my dear friends walked through this study with me and truly God provided much healing and direction over the next year.
In addition, seeking God’s love and direction lit a fire in my soul to share the Gospel, to give God’s Word, to yearn for heaven, to have more grace and mercy on those around me, to realize the pain so many around me suffer when they lose loved ones, and to realize that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. But I (Jesus) came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). One of the many things the Lord has done with our family is to begin a ministry called Team Hally. Our ministry gives Bibles to local churches for VBS programs, camps, Sunday schools, individuals, mission trips, etc. God has given us opportunities to give Bibles all over the world and we have English, Spanish, and French Bibles. In the past six years we have given over 10,000 Bibles which truly overwhelms my soul! (Ephesians 3:20)
I would love to end this story with been there, done that and now there is no more grief in my life. Sadly, each of us knows that isn’t the truth on this earth. Ever since the first sin by Adam and Eve, we all live in a broken world. Our family has faced many hard things since 2014 but I have seen God never leave me or forsake me and I know He is good all the time! Whatever you might be facing today I want to encourage you that no matter what circumstances you face: “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and his goodness endures forever” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Concluding thoughts by Charmé While reading and rereading Jenny’s faith journey of her precious daughter, Hally, my heart is moved beyond words. Jenny’s faith, although severely tested, has proven to be unquenchable and transferable, as she demonstrates a genuine love for Jesus and others. I personally cannot grasp the depth of Jenny’s sorrow and grief with the loss of her beautiful daughter. I’ve been told by close friends who have lost a child, including, Jenny, that the pain is immeasurable. As Jenny gave me the final edits and photos, she shared with me, that it brought her great joy to reread her own testimony of God’s amazing love and provision. God is using Jenny’s testimony to touch the lives of many others who have experienced the journey of loss, especially of those who have experienced the death of a child, and close family members. As she stated in her story, the book that helped her walk through the darkest days is The Book of Hope, by Nancy Guthrie. I have included a link to the book and Nancy’s website. I hope that you will also take a moment to read more about Hally and her family through the website that is dedicated to their precious daughter. Team Hally: teamhally.org