When I had to choose a name for my publishing company, I knew I wanted something fun – something that meant something special to me. Jelly Bean Jar Publications is in honor of my dad. My precious dad passed away just over 7 years ago, and for the first few months after his passing, I sat and stared at the wall. I had no idea how to move past it. He was my hero, and the very reason that I am a Christian. He breathed truth into my heart from the time I was a tiny girl. He gave me his love of words, his love of learning, his love of justice and truth. He was my lifesaver in a world of crazy.
Truthfully, the summer following his passing had been one of those life instances that had spun me on my ear and served to be a time of self questioning and doubt. Pain has a way of driving us into the deepest throes of our minds, searching desperately for something steadfast and secure to latch onto. Of course, when we get our pulse back to normal, the room stops spinning, and every soul and heart-file has been rifled through, we realize that God has been sitting there the entire time, waiting to set us back on our feet and turn us in a new direction.
As usual, He waited for my heart to open to Him. It’s always the heart, isn’t it?
When I my dad passed away, I stopped living too, because I felt so entirely burned out and emotionally numb. I did nothing at all for about four months. Finally, one night, words with which my dad had filled my soul, shattered the silent deadness of my heart. That experience was incredible. Everyone was sleeping because it was 1:15 a.m., but I knew that I had to write. As I sat down at my laptop, tears flowed, and I felt my heart tremble as memories flooded my heart with a rush of bittersweetness.
The words poured themselves onto the page through my fingers, and as I sat there in the silence, I felt the pain, suppressed for all of those weeks, release like a dam breaking in my soul. I felt myself starting to process. The pain was welcome. It meant that I was still alive. My heart was still beating. I was still me. I could feel my heart spinning like a compass needle looking for true North. The magnet of my spirit looking for the truth of His love.
My dad loved jelly beans. I have so many memories of his glass jar, filled with his favorite flavors, sitting on his bookshelf. Countless times, he helped me with my homework, each problem followed by a black jellybean. When he passed away, I inherited his jelly bean jar. Countless times, I have imagined him opening it and sharing our special treat. Countless times, I have imagined him sitting on a chair at my elbow, reading over my shoulder, or commenting on an illustration that he especially liked. Countless times, I have wiped tears as I have written about some of his favorite characters in history – the very characters that he introduced to me so many years ago.
My writing has been therapeutic – a way for me to process and heal. There is absolutely no way for me to take credit for any of this work, though. These books are God’s – never mine. I hope they bring as much joy to you as they have brought peace to me.
Side note: One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Isaiah 6, and verse 1 carries special significance. “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD.” The prophet Isaiah was writing this chapter soon after the beloved and esteemed King Uzziah had passed on. How often do we see the LORD more clearly and with more understanding for who He truly is than after we loose someone we have placed in high esteem? This simple verse stands out as a landmark in my life. God is indeed the Father to the fatherless.