The Funeral Home That Refused to Bury Jake

brit gar and jake 2You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy (Psalm 30:11).

The lobby in the funeral home was elegantly furnished with rich marble floors, deep mahogany furnishings and crystal lamps. Exquisite artwork embellished three walls and a mirror the size of Rhode Island adorned the other. With nowhere else to look, I caught a glance of my legs under the table in the waiting room. My right foot danced a silent jitterbug as my left foot bounced up and down underneath it.

Finally, the door opened. “Christy. Right this way, please,” the director called as he motioned me to follow.

He opened the door to another room and offered his condolences. After I was seated, he gently slid some paperwork across the conference table where we were sitting and asked me to fill out some paperwork. Most of it was retrieved from memory except for the insurance information. I had recently received a form at work in my benefits update that included additional coverage for dependent burial expenses. I was thankful that at least that was one less thing I had to worry about. I told the director that the information was at my office, but since I hadn’t been to work in days, I gave him the number of the human resources manager at Local Oklahoma, the bank where I worked. He advised me he would give her a call and would be right back.

After he left, I began visually designing Jake’s memorial program. I already knew what picture I would use for the obituary.

The morning of the accident, John, who was my fiancé at the time, came to pick me up for my high school reunion picnic. I just had a roll of film developed and was anxious to show John a picture of Jake that I loved.

“Look at this picture of Jake,” I said handing the picture to John.

Brittany was sandwiched between Jake and Garrett reading their favorite book, Words of Wisdom for Little Folks, while they looked for the ladybugs hidden throughout the illustrations in the story. Besides being an enchanting snapshot of family unity, the reason I loved this picture so much was because of Jake’s smile. Something about that picture pierced my heart.

“Isn’t it the cutest picture you have even seen of him?”

“Yes, babe. Really cute.”

“He looks like an angel. I’m surprised there’s not a halo over his head.”

“He sure does.” John said fishing for his keys. “It’s ten after ten. We don’t want to be late.”

Although I knew my treasured photo of Jake was the obvious choice, I began to mentally struggle with whether or not it was appropriate. It was taken right after bath time and he wasn’t wearing a shirt. I wanted his obituary to minister to those who read it and bring honor to his life.

I found myself wishing I had a studio picture of him. I knew he was only a toddler, but he should have clothes on. Maybe if I had it cropped just right, it wouldn’t be noticeable.

Eventually, I became aware that the director was taking a little longer than I thought necessary to obtain my insurance information. My fingers stroked back and forth on the textured upholstery fabric of the chair, tingling my fingers.

Finally, the door opened again, but something in the director’s stance communicated bad news. “I contacted your employer,” he began. “But your insurance doesn’t cover dependents.”

My heart sank to my feet.

“I’m sorry. You’ll have to make other arrangements for the funeral expenses.”

Other arrangements? How was I going to take care of expenses of that magnitude? I stood in disbelief and shock. Not knowing what else to do, I assured the director that I would take care of it somehow.

Outside of the funeral home, I simply threw my hands up in the air and exclaimed, “God, you’re going to have to help me! I can’t do this!”

Some prayers God has no choice but to answer immediately. Later that day, the bank president heard about the accident. Filled with concern, he called Human Resources to find out if I had coverage. When the director advised that I did not, his command came without hesitation, “Take care of the funeral expenses.”

When she delivered the good news to me, all I could do was cry in amazement.

Everything from his plot, grave marker, video for the funeral and custom memorial programs I had made at a local print shop were covered. In addition, my co-workers also took up a collection to take care of other expenses I incurred. My God supplied all of my needs. He covered me with his wings and under his refuge, I found shelter.

When Jake’s obituary was published, he looked absolutely beautiful.

The obituary read, Jacob Isaiah, “Jake”, our Forerunner, was ushered into Sierra, “The Presence of God,” on June 13, 1998. Jake’s purpose in life was fulfilled but the testimony of his life will be forever on our lips to proclaim the goodness of God and His loving mercy.

I’ll never forget how I felt as I showed John the photo that morning before we left for the picnic, ten minutes after ten. Something about him radiated newness.

It wasn’t until after I received the accident report that I understood why his picture pierced my heart so deeply. The report indicated that the collision occurred at 10:10 am. That’s why his face appeared angelic to me…because at that very moment, he really was wearing a halo. At that moment, the very hand of Jesus extended out of the heavens, and Jake declared, “See ya later guys, I’m outta here!”

Jacob Isaiah Ennis – As I stared at his obituary, my eyes glazed over to the point that everything was a blur. That’s when it hit me. It was acceptable that he was not wearing a shirt. His lack of attire was intentional. He was clothed in joy.

jake and me collage
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31 Responses to The Funeral Home That Refused to Bury Jake

  1. Debbie June 16, 2009 at 6:15 am #

    I am so touched by your story of Jake and your testimony for the love and care from God. Bless you dear sister in Christ. What a reassuring message about trusting Christ during the most challenging of days and how much he loves each of us.
    Love, Debbie

  2. Tyler Freeny June 16, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    Wiping the tears away!!! What an incredible testimony to how much our Father loves us. He is so faithful, even in the little things. God has given you an amazing gift…thank you for sharing it with all of us!

  3. Lori Briggs June 16, 2009 at 8:03 am #

    Wow! Words can’t express or do justice to the emotions that went through me throughout your story. WOW!

  4. Andi Hawkins June 16, 2009 at 8:09 am #

    I just love you. It was so good to see you last weekend. Total blessing.

    Great picture. Beautiful boy.

  5. Nancy West June 16, 2009 at 8:11 am #

    The joy Jake radiates in the picture makes him a precious ambassador of God’s tender loving care. I can’t wait to meet Jake in Heaven!

  6. Eva Juliuson June 16, 2009 at 8:25 am #

    I can’t wait to meet Jake! I can tell his young short life has had an eternal impact on you (& many, many others including me-even though I haven’t met him!)

    I am continually amazed at how intertwined our lives are…and the things we have in common. My youngest son who just moved out happens to be named Jake. The greatest thing we have in common is knowing we are covered by God…and share His love!

    Keep writing about all the wonderful things our Loving Father does!

    Love you,
    Eva

  7. Cynthia Gary June 16, 2009 at 8:27 am #

    Your testimony is such a blessing. It really puts us on notice as to wether we truly trust God and believe in his Grace and goodness. This message has so humbled my heart and made me realize even more how precious life is. Hope to see you again soon!

  8. Debbie Myers June 16, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    I also am looking forward to meeting Jake and telling him what a blessing his mother is to so many people. Your testimony has touched many lives including mine. I thank God for you and am glad you choose to help others with your words.

  9. Grace Clawson June 16, 2009 at 11:18 am #

    Christy your testimony about how God held you in His arms during your son’s passing really touched my heart.Your son was a beutiful boy.We miss you at the bible study.This week Mike and I are going to a church conference on Thursday night.
    I also want to let know that my son and his wife had a beautiful healthy boy on Friday Night June 12th at 6:50.He doen’t show any signs of health problems.The ultrasound of the baby showed a tumor on one of his lung’s lower lobes.We are all believing that he is healedThey named him Dominic Christopher. My son was able to be there and help to deliver the baby.He is on Rest and Relaxation until the 25th.
    I thought you needed to hear something positive.

  10. Barbara Spillman June 16, 2009 at 11:33 am #

    Christy, what a wonderful story portraying God’s unconditional love for us in His provision and care for us in those times we need Him the most. He does give us beauty for ashes.
    Jake is a beautiful child and his face glows with the love of Jesus, and I know he is one of God’s special angels of joy.
    I’m looking forward to meeting him someday.
    God has done a beautiful work in you in the midst of your sorrow. Thank you for being willing to share your poignant
    story; it won’t be forgotten. It will bring others hope in their
    time of sadness. You are a beautiful woman of God!

  11. Kimberly McGee June 16, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    God’s timing is amazing! Charles and I just met the beautiful girl sitting in between Garrett and Jake–Brittany–when we saw you just yesterday. And how great it was to see you again. Yes, Jake is clothed in joy and the picture is just perfect! The testimony is even more amazing. We love you and I am sure the testimony of the Lord being Jehovah Jireh–the Lord our Provider–will bless millions that read it for years to come. What a testament to the Lord and Jake for many generations to come!!!

  12. Kathryn Chandler June 16, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    What a beautiful story. God is so good. How he turns tragedy into such love. I could not even imagine the pain you feel every day for your loss, or the emptiness you have for Jake, but I can the love you have felt from God. That is the most wonderful feeling ever.

    I miss seeing you!

  13. Karol Crow June 16, 2009 at 2:29 pm #

    On November 13, 1984 our son, Ryan, died at 9 months old. I remember sharing with you, Christy, about how the warm presence of God was with us. We didn’t know anyone at that time who’d gone through the loss of a child, and had no support from others. But God gave us breath, and strength, and rest. He showed us how to encourage our little girl, Kelly; to protect her faith in the loving Father. Jesus spoke truth to those who were grieving, crying for Jesus not to go, as He prepared to leave the Earth to go to Heaven….”Now is your time of grief, but you will see Me again, and we will rejoice, and no one will take away our joy.” This scripture is on Ryan’s marker, and comforts us everytime we see it.

  14. Gaye June 16, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    I love how your story speaks of God’s amazing peace and comfort, which strengthened your unshakeable faith in Him as He healed you and delivered you from a mother’s greatest nightmare. I hope this story ministers to other mothers who have lost a child to see that His WORD IS TRUE and we can completely TRUST in Him. So many Christians are left devastated this ferocious blow from the enemy, yet so few hang onto His every Word.as their anchor, which replaces our grief with acceptance and trust and yes…even joy in our greater knowledge of Him. ” And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” We would never desire to walk through a tragedy like this and would always want our children intact with us, but we must TRUST that God loves us and our children and His ways are just and true. So many grieiving parents cannot believe that this understanding and peace that you possess could also be theirs. Lord, touch their hearts and open their spiritual eyes and ears as they receive Christy’s Word of testimony. Thank you!

  15. Christy Johnson June 16, 2009 at 3:52 pm #

    Amen, Gaye. God gives all us supernatural grace which is the power to endure, the power to overcome and walk in peace. I know this same grace is available to all of us, we just HAVE to take it , never let it go, and stay in the secret place, the shelter of the most High!

    Thanks to all of you for your words of encouragement. It means a lot to me that Jake’s story is still touching hearts!

  16. Marta Ruffin June 16, 2009 at 9:09 pm #

    As I write, I can’t stop the tears from falling. This beautiful, heart wrenching story immediately took me back to the departure of my dear sister, Evelyn, last June. She was the one that always checked on her 5 siblings, and, had just called to check on our youngest sister who was recovering from surgery, when she was ushered, without warning, into Heaven to be with the Lord. It has been a year now, & I thank God for the almost 60 years God gave her. She is up there with your little Jake. God knows which flower to pick, at which time. My bright future with God & all of the children of God, definitely, out shine the hurt, pain & loss that i felt when she was plucked. God is healing & restoring me daily. LET THE REDEEMED OF THE LORD SAY SO!!!!!!!!

  17. Joy Coddington June 16, 2009 at 9:45 pm #

    Christy ~

    You testimony at the Survive and Thrive Single Moms Conference was so awesome! As I read this today about Jake and how God provided for you, was amazing! Bless you sweet Sister in Christ! You are a wonderful speaker and christian woman.

    xoxo Joy

  18. Sarah Simpson June 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm #

    Christy-What a precious little boy you have waiting for you in heaven! He is absolutely adorable. It is definatley God’s grace, love, and mercy that have sustained you and I know God receives your praises for that because you are such a dynamic witness and the joy and love of God eminate from you.

  19. barbara Mansfield June 17, 2009 at 2:29 pm #

    Hey Christy, this story was very inspiring as I recall when this event occurred. Garrett was in my class at the time and Mela and I went to the hospital to visit him. You were there and I remember thinking what a woman of courage as you stood tall, thin and beautiful as ever…just glowing. Even though you had one child in the hospital and another whose life had transitioned you were strong. That touched me and I have never forgotten it, cause it’s only thru God, you could have glowed as you did. Thanks for sharing, our faith is made stronger because of your testimony.

  20. Christy Johnson June 17, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

    It is only because of HIM that any of us can operate in faith and grace! He gets all the glory for my story!

  21. LaVila June 17, 2009 at 3:09 pm #

    Hi Christy,
    I hadn’t heard you speak about the funeral expenses. We had a similar experience with God’s provision when my kidney was removed. But the thing that hit me the most today was the 10:10 timing. If we ever forget that God is able to do abundantly above all we ask or think, we can let our minds zero in on His amazing timing in the past and let our faith be lifted high. God is so good and faithful. It is making tears in my eyes to think of how great He is.

    You are a blessing. The best is yet to come.
    Love you,
    LaVila

  22. Jan Dowlearn June 17, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    Christy,
    I remember that class reunion. I remember the whispers that followed the announcement that this tragedy had happened to you and your family. How could this be? These things happen to others..not to people we love and care about. Those of us that continued with the class reunion that year, carried a bit of guilt with us for having a good time while knowing full well the grief you were dealing with. Ever since then, our class reunions are a reminder to me of your loss as it usually falls on Jake’s anniversary. I know it’s in the back of your mind, but I never can see the sadness in your eyes as I watch you from across the room and check to see how you are coping. I absolutely love seeing you enjoy yourself and I know Jake does too! His passing has put you on a path that has been life changing for you..and also for everyone that you come in contact with! Jake is proud of you. I’m proud of you. God is proud of you as well.
    Christy, you ARE Inspiration!
    Jan

  23. Darla Muralt June 17, 2009 at 11:53 pm #

    Christy,

    When I first brought up your devotion, I had to just stop and gaze upon the precious faces of all your dear children. And of course Jake’s cherub features drew my attention. I honestly could not take my eyes off of his joyous sweet little self.
    My heart pained at the thought of what I would be reading about. And than as you so often do you stirred me up to remember to rejoice in Jake’s precious life and how his story continues to reach out for the Glory of our dear Lord. Out of all the pain you his Mama have endured, you still continue to draw living water and offer others a drink from the cup of hope. I once read “We recieve hope from the God of goodness in people. God has deposited much good in you my beautiful sister Christy. I cannot wait to hug his sweet little self one day myself.
    Much love and gratitude for ALWAYS sharing your heart. ox darla

  24. Laurie Wilson June 18, 2009 at 5:23 pm #

    Christy,
    Jan’s words to you above say it eloquently. I’m still wiping away the tears that you’ve both made appear. ; )

    Your story of Jake is something I cannot fathom enduring.

    What I do know is: God gives us each strength to endure the hard or tragic trials unique to each of our lives. When we open ourselves fully to His guidance, along that path He transforms our aching heartbreak into a Light, helping lead a dark, hurting world back to Him. He makes us significant for His glory.

    Your story is powerful testimony to God’s healing. Thank you for sharing it through your writing gift.

    Jake has a very cool MomMe. You were blessed with one other, and I’ll be sooooo happy to watch you play together again one day.

    Blessings,
    Laurie
    (MomMe to Alex, Marijah, Tashana…… and Kevin, Shannon and Sheelin. Sister in Christ to you.)

  25. Will & Tee June 19, 2009 at 6:00 pm #

    Christy, Jake’s story is a wonderful testimony to God’s greatness. He truely is our Provider. Thanks for sharing it.
    Blessings

  26. Rosie Fisher October 30, 2009 at 2:01 am #

    Christy, It is wonderful to know that we can know that God loves his children. That He would never leave them or forsake them and when a child leaves this earth, God directs them straight to heaven into His arms. And its hard to understand why children go tragically but God who is all grace and all loving touches a mothers heart with peace. I pray that God will show you His heaven through a dream or vision. May God continue to Bless you and your family with His LOVE and shower you with His gold dust. God Bless you and your family.

  27. ashlei merriman April 18, 2010 at 9:31 pm #

    I am deeply touched by your story of jake.I know it must hard to tell your story to high school students that is how i heard yours im a senior at del city and i was in tears when u spoke with all the courage it reminded me of my friend who who was killed by a drunk driver in november of 2008 so almost two years ago and i dont think i would be able to do what u do. the Lord has truly blessed your life in many ways keep up what your doing it does help high school students to come to reality.

  28. Holly June 13, 2016 at 8:44 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing this! God has blessed you with such an amazing outlook which in turn blesses others!

    • Christy Johnson June 13, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

      Thank you Holly. I believe He has. It’s like a 3 D picture. I used to only see a maze of dots, but when you look beyond….you see the beauty.

  29. Debbie Evans June 13, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

    I remember visiting you and your oldest son in the hospital. It was a glorious moment that I have not forgotten. Jake was adorable and what a wondrous reunion it will be to see his precious face again. Until then a wonder testimony.

    Blessing,

    Debbie

    • Christy Johnson June 13, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

      Yes Debbie it was a day I’ll never forget! One day in his presence is better than several thousand since!

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