Grandma found at Chets

When I was asked to share this particular story, my knee-jerk reaction was to wave it away, not because the story is anything less than truly amazing, but because this is not the type of thing I usually do. In the past, I’ve tended to be very personal with my faith and only recently am I truly beginning to grasp how important it is to share this aspect of life. After some thought (and much-needed encouragement by the ladies in my bible study), I felt this was something I was being led to share.

My husband and I are relatively new to Jacksonville and Chets Creek – we moved here last July for my husband’s job, away from, quite literally, everyone we knew. Up until November, I worked outside of the home as well, but we then made the decision for me to stay home with our two children (3 and 1) hoping it would help with some of the challenges of being in a new area. We weren’t truly “connected” at Chets until January when we joined a Life Group and I decided to sign up for a Women’s Bible Study. I decided I was going to sign up for one long before I decided *which* one (admittedly, one of my primary reasons was to get more connected with women outside of my Life Group). Despite always wanting to do a Beth Moore study, I was inexplicably led to select Fingerprints of God by Jennifer Rothschild, along with 7 other ladies.


Throughout the first month of study, we discussed God’s individual touch on our lives as well as how He uses extraordinary and individualized means to make Himself known (Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc). So here we came, to our fourth meeting as a group. We were discussing feeling God’s touch with gratitude and exploring the barriers that we have to thankfulness/gratitude. One thing that I have struggled with very much since our relocation has been social media. I see pictures of our nieces with my parents-in-law and instead of thinking, “Wow, this is so cool that we live in a day and age where we have a privilege to be a part of that remotely,” I find myself thinking, “Awww, I miss all of that. I wish our kids could see family more often…” (Cue the pity party.)  

I shared this with the ladies in my group. I shared how my biggest hurt in my heart is for my kids. I shared about my sorrow in taking them away from family who loves them dearly. I tearfully shared my feelings about how they are missing out on those treasured grandparent relationships. Just thinking about it always makes me an emotional mess so sharing it with the group was a big deal for me.  

Thankfully, there was a tissue box nearby. The ladies with me were tearful, too, and sought to comfort me. Then, Jennifer, the woman sitting next to me, said, “I can be a surrogate Grandma.” There were head nods all around in agreement. For me, this was indeed touching, but I had no idea what to say. So, knowing myself, I would have been likely to think, “Aww, how sweet! Ok, well, I’ll see you next Tuesday!” and not end up following through on anything. When it comes to social situations, I tend to be all talk and no game. Just as I was about to retreat, Jennifer said something that stopped me in my tracks, “By the way, my grandma name is Nonni.”

All guise of holding it together went out the window as I tearfully explained that my mom is Nonny.  

Neither of us have ever known another Nonni/y and were shocked at this revelation. We hugged for who knows how long as the tissues made their way around the table, and she kept whispering in my ear, “This is God,” and “God is good.” It’s as if God had used her revelation of being Nonni to snap me out of whatever funk I was trying to dive into. God used her to say, “Pay attention! This is Me! You need to follow through on this!”

I am very happy to report that the first time we got together, my children immediately took to Jennifer. It has been a blessing for my children and I to get to know Jennifer. I am so thankful that God brought us together and for this beautiful example of His personal touch on my life.  




I feel so thankful that God allowed me to be a witness to His work in this circumstance. God really showed His compassion to Sydney through Jennifer and how kind He is to allow the rest of us to witness His work so individually and specifically just as we were all studying how God touches our lives. It was as if He lovingly and gently said, “Yes ladies, what you are studying is true and I will demonstrate it to you right now!” That special moment in class, while Sydney and Jennifer were hugging, I looked down at my study guide where we left off and I read what I had written earlier in the week to ask the ladies – “Who does God send to touch us?” ~ Eve Huntly

IMG_3179I am so thankful to our Lord for bringing Sydney and I together. My mother, Velma, passed away at the age of 58. She was beautiful, loving, friendly and generous. She loved the Lord, served others and she impacted my life abundantly! My daughters were very young at her passing and I was heartbroken they wouldn’t get to grow up knowing their Grandma. I needed to honor the precious wisdom and love my mother shared. God is so GOOD and has given me multiple ways to honor my mother and serve Him by serving others. I am so blessed by this opportunity to visit with Sydney’s precious children…what joy fills my heart!  ~ Jennifer Hackenberry



IMG_3099{This post was written by Sydney Frank. Sydney is a wife and mommy of two, Aria (3 years) and Brand (18 months).  She and high-school-sweetheart-now-husband, Ryan (married almost 6 years) are new transplants to Jacksonville, originally from Minnesota.  She is slowly adjusting to becoming a stay-at-home mom and spends most of her time trying to keep up with her kiddos, fueled mainly by coffee and the all-so-rare nap.}

If you’re ready to get connected with other Chets women, join us for our Summer Bible Study on Monday nights from 7:00 – 9:00pm beginning on May 16th. Register here and invite your friends. Pass on the details using the Facebook Event.

5 thoughts on “Grandma found at Chets

  1. All of us back in Minnesota have prayed fervently that Syd and Ryan would connect with coworkers, neighbors and a church. Wow- be careful what you pray for! Although it seems that each new friendship is another “root” that reaches deep and anchors this precious family to Jacksonville, we are so grateful for the love and kindness this new Florida family had shown to them! Nonny

  2. Such a beautiful blessing that our God has bestowed on you two and your precious children. Our God is awesome!! Praise Him for His compassion and love. Thank you for sharing this with us. Diana Bartolec

  3. Amazing grace! This is truly God at work with His gentle touch! Thank you for sharing Sydney! Our Bible Study was eye-opening to His love!

  4. Jennifer has always had a strong compassionate heart for children. Thank for the way you work to bring together our passions with others and bringing joy.

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