Jenna Nicole Henderson went to be with Jesus on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. She was born on April 30, 1986, in Louisville, Kentucky. On Sept. 15, 2012, she married Scott Henderson in Lexington, Kentucky, and they resided in Batesville, Indiana.
As a teenager, Jenna had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer twice and went into complete remission both times. During her treatments at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Jenna began dreaming of caring for pediatric cancer patients. Almost simultaneously, Jenna became involved in the ministry of Young Life in high school, where she began following Jesus.
After graduating Dixie High School in 2004, she attended and received her nursing degree from the University of Kentucky. Realizing her dream, Jenna worked for Cincinnati Children's Hospital as a pediatric nurse in the CBDI Clinic, providing care for children battling cancer. Known also for loving beautiful things, Jenna began capturing images for her small business JennaNicolePhotography.com.
Jenna was gifted at seeing the beauty in everyone she met. She viewed it as a privilege to pray for and share her faith with family, high school students, co-leaders, oncology patients, coworkers, and friends. Innumerable people consider themselves indebted to Jenna for faithfully demonstrating the gospel and know Jesus intimately by her words and example.
Because her most momentous decision was to follow Jesus, Jenna committed her life to sharing the gospel in the same venue where she first heard it, by volunteering as a Young Life leader. For over 13 years, Jenna walked in the lives of high school students as she proclaimed the grace of Jesus, to which she dearly clung. Watch Her Young Life Story
why distressed roots?
It wasn't until I was 27 when I first met—and eventually started dating—Jenna. She was my first serious relationship. She was the one I had been searching for.
A woman who was sweet, who was beautiful, who would make an incredible wife, an incredible mother. Someone who loved Kentucky basketball and who loved the ministry of Young Life. Most importantly, one who loved the Lord more than she would ever love me. Two years later in 2012, we were married with nothing but time set before us.
Four years later, the structure of my life crumbled to pieces. The woman who I had dreamt spending my entire life with was gone, snatched by death from a disease that all too many have been affected by. My hopes, plans, and dreams erased in an instant.
Why her Lord? Why now? She Loved you with her every breath...
Where O Lord, are you? Where is your comfort? Where are your promises?
My Wife - gone. My family hopes - gone. Our shared mission together- gone.
Nothing seems to matter anymore. There is nothing left to seek...
How can I believe and trust what feels like complete abandonment?
What now? What next?
So I kept digging. I kept listening. I kept resting in the Scriptures. My roots grew deeper and I found peace in His Promises. I discovered that He is still good and that He is in control. The Lord is still healing my heart, but I have grown more rooted in Him. For in Him, I have found true joy the world will never be able to offer. Through Him, and only through Him, I have found a purpose and a mission for the time I have left here on this Earth, and I can look forward with excitement as He restores all that has been broken. ForJesus conquered death and invites us to do the same.
This friends,is why I chose the name Distressed Roots.
I found myself in a state of great sorrow. Exposed to raw, irreversible suffering, anxiety, and despair. I found myself distressed. A word that describes the outcome of something that has gone through great chaos, great pain. It was a feeling I was not familiar with, but it was a word I heard often. To Jenna, distressed meant beauty, and character. To her, something that was distressed gained more value. In our house, you don't have to look far to see how much she loved items that showed signs of wear and tear. I would always joke with her that the best gift I could ever find for her was most likely sitting outside, weathered, and free.
But it wasn't just about the beauty and character to her, it was much deeper than that. She saw a depth to it that many miss. Jenna recognized that our lives mirror something distressed. That we have a heart that is broken, worn, battered, and rebellious at times. To most, it should be thrown out. Tossed aside. Yet, God chooses to redeem us. Simply put, God sees our scars, our bad choices, our selfish hearts—and if we are willing—turns it into something new and beautiful. Pure and radiant. Us in distress is something that God can take and make it more valuable on the other side.
My life's foundation was being tested. I had so many doubts and questions about my faith that I had to make a choice. I could choose to be bitter and angry and toss my beliefs aside. Or, I could dig through His promises and seek out examples of others who had faced their own trials and suffering. I chose (yes, it was a choice) to read through Scripture and search. The foundation of my life had to be Jesus, not Jenna. If it was the other way around, there was no hope to find.
As I continued searching, it felt like my roots were nowhere near a source of water. It seemed like nothing I read made anything feel any better. My heart ached, and my soul lamented. It turns out though, in times of drought, roots must grow deeper in search of a source for life. Even crazier, and just recently discovered, is that roots actually listen for vibrations of water to find their nourishment. "Be still. Listen. Continue to rest in Me. For I am in control and will lead you through this."
how can i keep going?
When Jenna passed away, my life had shattered. Pieces of my life that were once whole and good were broken and uncertain.
I wrestled with thoughts about leaving the very mission Jenna and I set out to do together; Young Life. As my heart and my mind battled each other, and as I questioned what was next, it did not take long to start seeing the bigger picture.
Watch a small part of my story and see how God used others to impact my heart, and ultimately my decision.