God's Promises for the Heart
Jody Bennett Reichel
God's Promises for the Heart
by NancyLee Honey Marsh
Photos submitted by Jody Bennett Reichel and Lydia Inglett
"They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness."
Her heart smiled through her eyes. She realized a dream and fulfilled a very special promise. Bubbly Jody Bennett Reichel greeted me with a hug in her lovely Spanish Wells home, where we settled on the sofa with rescue “Shady” close beside us. Filled with excitement over her first book, Still Before the Dawn, Jody noted, “It’s filled with Bible verses, inspirational poems and lovely artwork, my tribute to God and my Mama, Jan Bennett.”
Animated, Jody credited her parents for instilling faith and strength in navigating life’s pathways. “Open heart, open home” was how I grew up in Jesup, Georgia. Our home was filled with those my parents helped. Sometimes when I returned from school, there would be a stranger indulging in our Charles Chips can. I introduced myself and mentioned politely I lived there,” she laughed.
“Daddy was a Dentist and Mama an excellent swim coach, who taught hundreds of students not only swimming, but also the importance of hard work, good sportsmanship and especially, goal setting. She inspired her students with a favorite poem she posted entitled “Ode to a Champion.” One of her proudest moments was a Gold Metal win by her student, David Larson, in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.”
Jody listened to her Mama’s advice, “There may be times when you feel unable to express yourself verbally; if so, write it down.”
“Mama gave me one of those Dear Diary books with a key. I started in grammar school, including poems for Mama. Later, as her mother struggled with cancer, she asked Jody repeatedly, “Honey, when you gonna get that book together?” Jody never knew her mother was a correspondent for the Atlanta Journal Constitution until after her death. “I always promised her, some day.”
She discovered Dear Heart, a Christian greeting card company, in the Piggy Wiggly, which she submitted God-inspired verses to. “Since they called me a writer, and my verses fit their agenda, (as long as I shortened them) it was a good match,” she said. In 2009 hundreds of cards hit the market, and Jody’s creations burst into the world. After the devastating loss of her mother in 2014, Jody clung to her promise to some day compile her work into a book. “I could not write fast enough—on slips of paper, napkins, notebooks, while walking, even biking and often in the dark!” she exclaimed. Many pre-dawn hours were embraced in prayer on her quiet screened porch, where she entered an abundance of thoughts into her journal. “I felt it was God’s work, not mine, and I kept most of it to myself. Finally it hit me. God awoke me repeatedly at 3:00 and 4:00 a.m., encouraging me to share these messages with others, but I was not sure how to spread the word.”
In 2010 she heard award winning publisher, Lydia Inglett, speak about Starbooks. Jody contacted Lydia, who reinforced her writings were profound enough for a book. “However, with the demands of card verses, framed writings for Harbour Town Lighthouse and the many personal challenges in our family and with several friends, my head was spinning too much to think about a book.” It was not until 2015 Jody told Rob, her husband of 33 years, “I’m ready. I felt the door opened, so I could fulfill my promise to Mama.”
Jody had over 120 pages of handwritten notes typed up and called Lydia who told her, “Keep going!” In September 2015, Jody held the advance copy of Still Before the Dawn. “I cried,” she admitted. “The cover depicting a turtle swimming in peaceful waters was Lydia’s idea. Understanding my desire to convey peace, comfort and hope, she suggested the symbolic turtle. Their eggs are laid before dawn, and new life finds its way to the sea.” Writing remains Jody’s life. Her imagination and pen are always aflame. As one who possesses the rare combination of delicacy and strength, surely another book is peeking through the dawn.
Goal: We have to pray big. Nothing is impossible with God’s help. Always write down what is on your heart.
Thankful for: The strength to put together Still Before the Dawn and that my 89-year-old daddy made it to the signing.
Another passion: Tennis! I worked hard to achieve my goals.” In high school she ranked No. 6 in Georgia, and was in the top 3 at Ole Miss.
God’s Blessings: “Amazing parents, Rob, who is the love of my life, our 4 wonderful children and 2 grandchildren.”
Still Before The Dawn is available in fine gift shops or online at www.Starbooks.biz (free shipping).