Ashes to Grace: Embracing Brokenness Instead of Rejecting It


Ashes to Grace: Embracing Brokenness Instead of Rejecting It

"We drove back our long lane, surrounded by corn fields, and as the house came into view, I said to Javan, “What!? is that white smoke coming out of the upstairs windows above the kitchen!?" I was practically out of the vehicle before it was stopped and went racing in the walk!!"

     Meet Janeen Zimmerman, the better half of Javan and the proud mother of four amazing children, 3 boys and 1 girl, ranging from 15 to 6 years old. She's all about immersing herself in the wonders of the great outdoors and finding joy in God's artistic creations. Sunrises and sunsets? They're her go-to moments of pure bliss.

     After chatting with Janeen, I discovered she is not your ordinary school mom, as she takes a daily drive in the drivers seat of a school bus for her children's school! Every day is an adventure as she hears the exciting tales from the school children and finds enjoyment in making sure her big yellow bus is clean and ready for the school run!

"Homemaking is not one of my strong points, however after 18 years I'm learning to enjoy parts of it. Sewing makes my blood pulse heavily and I think I may be coming to terms that sewing may simply not be for me!"

     Feeling things in life deeply has given her a positive trait of having a heart to reach out to people but also has a negative trait of dealing with anxiety and depression at times, but chooses to focus on the positive in life and being an encouragement to others.

 "August 20, dawned bright, hot, and beautiful!! Beings we were host and hostess at church that Sunday, Saturdays I spent getting everything situated, my pretty dishes from my Grandma all set out on the sink, tables all set and fresh beautiful flowers on the table!! Hubby and I had a very relaxing morning, sitting and chatting and drinking Messy Bun coffee in a clean house that’s only this clean when you are host family. We left for church and as I walked out the walk, I whispered a prayer that my time bake oven would turn on at 9:30 for my ham and filling rollups and sour cream mashed potatoes!

At the church services that morning we had a wonderful sermon on being still… how the dew can’t settle on the grass at night if it’s windy… so we need to be still so God can settle on our lives!!

We left church early to get things situated before our 20 invited guests show up. On the way home I remember making the comment to Javan, "That this is when you sure hope to smell food when you walk in the door." We drove back our long lane, surrounded by corn fields, and as the house came into view, I said to Javan, “What!? is that white smoke coming out of the upstairs windows above the kitchen!?" I was practically out of the vehicle before it was stopped and went racing in the walk!! (In my mind I was thinking that something cooked over and we will open things up and air it out!!) I was met with white billowing smoke that nearly knocked me over!!! The oven and pantry were fully engulfed in crackling roaring flames…(A sound I don’t know will ever leave me)  I plopped my Bible, zipped in its case, down on the sink and by that time Javan came in and said, “We need to get out of here!!"  My thoughts were but, but, but…. However, I knew we needed to go!! He called 911 and shortly after that, the windows busted out in the kitchen! We have central air so everything was tight, but as soon as I opened that front door it got oxygen, and it went wild!! As we stood there waiting for the firemen to show up, I was thinking about my food I spent hours on… and thinking this has to be a bad dream!!! My company is soon coming!!! It didn’t take them long to get the fire out as it was just contained to the kitchen!! But the smoke damage was severe through out…

Shortly after the fire was out, a fireman came out carrying my Bible and asked, "Who's is this?" I said, "It’s mine!!" He was holding it open and said it was laying open like this on the counter!! My heart raced as I looked at it, my Bible case, journal, and contents were all burned and gone, although the edges charred, this Bible withstood the fire!!  It was laying open to John 16 & 17 and the verse that immediately stood out to me was; John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you that in me ye might have peace, In this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!!"               


Oh the comfort those words have been to me on this wild journey in the 10 weeks since the fire that took away our home and 95% of our belongings, however we were able to save most of our clothes and photo albums. Cause of the fire was something connected to the electrical wires behind the oven. After living in a camper for 2 weeks, we currently are in a rental nearby while our new house is being built. We are excited to move back to our normal location, hopefully by January!  

  My encouragement is God does care!! No matter what storm you are facing, He cares, He loves you and He will provide the strength you need!! We can have His peace if we allow it to reign in our hearts and mind!! Does this mean our lives will always look and feel peaceful?? No, no it doesn’t. Houses burn and bad, scary things unfortunately happen because we have not reached our eternal home!! But God’s never changing love and steady faithfulness is with us every step of the way!! To God be all glory, praise and honor!!! Do I do this perfectly?? No, I do not!! I fail because I am human, but it’s ok, because we than continue too see our need for a perfect God!!

"It is our imperfections that point us to the power of God! And even if we crack, we do not remain shattered! By God’s Grace, He places our broken pieces back together, further demonstrating His Power!! Let us embrace our brokenness instead of rejecting it, knowing the Gospel is proclaimed when we do! May we see our suffering as opportunity to show case the Power of God!!" 

     Janeen and family love the Messy Bun coffee, however, didn't get to try the other kinds before they burned in the fire. She's excited to try the Revive & Thrive as she knows she needs a strong cup of coffee to help her through her days!

  • Sharla Halteman

    I am sorry for your loss. Thankyou for taking time to share your story! God bless your little family.

  • MM

    I’m so sorry for the loss that you experienced in the fire, and for all the inconvenience, but what an incredible message the Lord left for you as you walk through this very difficult situation!

  • Lisa Martin

    I enjoyed reading your experience when the fire happened. Of course, it made me cry, because I could relate to so much of it! As I watched our house go up in smoke, I thought of all the painting I had done hours before. It’s a lot of loss in a short time.
    I’m so thankful that you are experiencing God’s goodness through it all.

  • Lorene Yoder

    Thank you for sharing. Bless
    your heart! One thing that
    is a blessing as well is that
    no one got hurt. I love your

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