When you stop to consider how many hours all of us have left, it’s not many.  We all consider how precious time is, but Jenni Kufahl understood the importance of the minutes.  She was diagnosed with cancer as a young mother with a hard-working husband, coach and seven amazing children.

During this time, she is going to face the victories and the defeats of this horrible disease. She will be engaged with per children and husband, minister to her siblings and parents and beat cancer, then have it come back in a way that would change everything.

Thanks to a special commitment made by her mother as one of her last wishes, Deani chose to carry the banner for Jenni’s story.  She and her husband, John Merrell executive produced the inspiring film documentary JOY IN THE MORNING.  But this would only be the beginning leading into a book of a family touched by the Heavenly Father. Deani would not rest until all of this was completed in His time.

Jenni’s loving parent narrate her story in an amazing journey covering the last two years of her life.  Her brothers and sister’s inspiring words of hope bring a family to their knees filled with hope as their relationship to the Christ helps them cope during the worst of times.

Most impressive are the heartfelt words of Heath and their children as they reflect on a selfless wife and loyal mother who changed all their lives.  What makes this story different from all the families who go to war against any form of cancer?  Everyone copes differently, works to create hope, and focuses on bringing comfort where it is needed most.

Jenni’s story is different because of a deep-seated resolve toward life and eternity.  She decided to move into a world, where moments mattered. Literally, when she was close to her life being over, a sense of urgency prompted her to even share with the medical team, the importance of knowing Jesus Christ as their Savior. Her relentless passion toward sharing the gospel filled with courage and gallantry in the face of life being over.

Taking a leap off a diving board takes faith, but Jenni took a bungee jump off the bridge of eternity and embraced the fears, spread her arms into her lasting destiny. She did this with such beauty, elegance and grace, the world around her stopped.  We have not been the same since her life and like Paul, she broke the chains of life into a loving God’s arms.

As the filmmaking team led by Heather Olive, my lifelong friend and first-time directorial debut, she was able to capture the essence of this story. Heather understood the family, was a co-teacher with Heath at Christian Heritage Academy and had become a close friend with Jenni.  She knew the pain, her family’s closeness and drove all of us closer to the heart of God in the process.

An exciting book is being written that further extends to tell the story and Deani is responsible for this deeper dive into JOY IN THE MORNING.  When Deani asked me to step in as a writer, we needed a larger team.  Award winning musician and producer, Stephanie Musser spent four months with her providing the footprint for the book. Then, as I began writing the book, my own father passed away unexpectedly from leukemia.

Dealing with grief is hard enough, but when you see the authenticity of this family, the power of losing someone, shut me down.  For several months, I had trouble even writing about loss.  This is when I personally began to uncover the reality this entire family had dealt with for so long.

Considering the children, their age at the time when their mother transitioned and how young they were, only God could have provided for Heath and his family in this way. No matter how young or how old you are, Johnny Merrell a pastor in Tulsa and one of Jenni’s brothers said, “Hope hurts” and these words bury into our soul.

Jeff Moore worked alongside of Heather and I on the editing as we carefully placed these hours of interviews into the award-winning documentary film. What an amazing team of experts, an amazing family and experience is now available to purchase.

Count the hours and you will see there is not much time left.  What are you doing with the moments?  How are you making time for your whole family?  Have you allowed any conflict or separation to invade and destroy your family dynamics?  Do you have unresolved situations or are you serving God in unity.

Treasure your time, make it matter and learn from the author and perfecter of our faith through the eyes of an ordinary woman, who lives extraordinary in the face against death.  If Jenni could speak to you today, this story will reflect her convictions which are worth following because they teach us about how we can have joy, inside of our own mournings.

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