It is 3:00 a.m. and I was awakened with the urgency to write about my sister, Jami. She left this earth nineteen years ago today, in 1992.
Jami accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior at the age of twenty-seven on October 2, 1992. Her sons, Robert and Frankie, were only eight and four years old at the time.
It was a weekend I will never forget as God showed off His Love for Jami in miraculous ways. We were at a women’s retreat in the Santa Cruz mountains. Jesus wanted Jami there on that mountain top and told me to get her there. I told my sister she just had to come.
Jami was very good at hiding her deepest cries of her heart. The only one who ever heard them was God. She wrote to Him often in her journal. Upon meeting Jami, most people would see a very petite young woman who was a fighter and survivor. Rarely did anyone get to see her vulnerable side.
Jami had mastered the use of her survival skills after years of abuse as a little girl. She and I had never talked about our step father and all he had done to us. We both did pray and agree together that God would strike him dead. While, I was able to remove myself from abusive relationships as an adult, Jami’s adult life continued the pattern of abuse.
She wanted to die. Jami was so tired of the pain and suffering in her mind and heart. In reading her journal, she often wrote to God to give her strength for her sons. They were her purpose for staying alive. She loved them so much. Her writing was also filled with doubt that He heard her prayers. She had not seen His glory….yet.
God did not waste any time. It was a full registration for the retreat, as always. We expected to be rooming with two friends. BUT GOD… had other plans, of course! We ended up with a large 4-bed room, just for the two of us. A room alone, where Jami would be comfortable to share with me from her heart. A safe place where she could cry without being seen or heard. A room where we could have intimate sister time. It was a precious time of bonding and healing for us.
The first session of our retreat took place right after dinner. There were close to three hundred women there. Many tears were cried that evening; tears of suffering and tears of joy. Upon returning to our room, Jami had some questions.
Why is everyone crying? I hope they don’t expect me to cry! I don’t cry!
Jami, nobody expects you to cry, but it is a safe place to cry if you need a good cry. Many of these women are crying because they are hurting and they are crying out to God to help them. Others are crying because they are feeling the presence of God.
Well, I’m not crying..
Our homework for the evening was to find a Scripture and write it down on a 3×5 card. We did not know the purpose of this, but it was good time for Jami and I to discuss some of God’s promises in the Bible. I wrote down the Scripture given to me when I met Jesus at the same retreat the year before. Jami chose to write down the same Scripture on her card.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans for good, not for evil; plans for a future and hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
The next morning, everyone was excited to see how God would show up. Jami had no idea what to expect. One of the first things we did was take communion together. We were all asked to come to the front of the sanctuary, one row at a time, in rows of two. Jami had grabbed a seat in the very front row, next to our guest speaker.
I was seated behind her. One row of women would stand across from the other row of women, facing one another. My row was separated from Jami’s as we went forward at different times. One we were in place, we introduced ourselves and exchange our Scripture cards.
Jami’s voice was unmistakable. She called out across the sanctuary, waving her new card in the air. “Oh, my God! Cherie, you’re not gonna believe what I got!”
The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. Psalm 34:17
Jami cried. With joy. With hope. My sister had heard from the Lord.
So much more happened that weekend. Jesus had a very special gift for me as well. To wash my sister’s feet was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. We had never experienced an actual feet washing like what Jesus did for His Disciples.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:14-15
There was no way I could expect what happened during those next several minutes. God brought forgiveness and washed away a life of guilt as I cried and prayed while washing Jami’s feet. I mentioned how Jami would never show her vulnerability. Well, that second day, October 2nd, she was singing Suicidal Failure by Suicidal Tendencies.
While I’ve learned what forgiveness IS, This was her life anthem; she knew..she felt every word. I asked her if she could write out the lyrics for me. to be honest, I did not know why I asked her to do that. Later, the Lord showed me why. For now, in our little room, all alone…Jami was sharing the deepest things from her heart. After she wrote out the lyrics, she told me she no longer felt this way.
God’s hand touched Jami’s heart with His peace. More tears.
Sunday morning brought a renewed spirit and my dear sister was walking with the joy of the Lord in her. Everyone saw Jesus in her eyes. It was so obvious. Jami shared with the retreat leaders what Jesus had done in our room. We handed the lyrics to Lorraine, our ministry leader. Lorraine greeted all of us and opened the session with prayer.
Jami was called to the altar. There, she took the piece of paper, crumpled it up, then prayed over it, surrendering it to God. It was burned at the altar. Gone.
My sister left the mountain top so on fire for Jesus. Her life was changed that weekend with a blessed assurance she would not have to live with a tormented soul any longer. Over the next month, she brought her sons and husband to church and they went forward as a family as the pastor prayed over them. Jami could not stop telling of her experience on the mountain top.
One month later, I received the news that Jami did not survive a horrible car accident the night before. She was struck as she ran right out into traffic while attempting to catch a bus. Jami was still so very weak in her addiction and had been drinking heavily. God took her home swiftly, without further suffering. Jami was so fragile. That night, Jesus delivered her from all of her troubles.
There is nothing sweeter than knowing my precious sister is alive in the love of our Father’s arms. Jami is singing and worshipping nonstop. I truly believe that is her role in Heaven; one of the most glorious voices of all Angels.