Why Our Scars Matter (A Story about a Y)

August 23, 2013 | 19 comments

We had to cut down my favorite tree.

An ice storm last April ravaged my river birch, which we planted during first summer here on the farm. It had grown up tall, right alongside our girls, spreading its arms out over our front yard. Every spring, the tree donned her shimmering greenish-gold dress, twirling it in the spring breeze. Summer rustled up under her skirt in July, and then she quietly undressed herself every autumn to reveal her stark, cinnamon-colored skeleton.

But we had to cut her down. She was dying.

And there’s this scar in the front yard, a cut stump, reminding us what had to be cut away.

*  *  *  *  *

We have scars, too. Other people can’t always see all of our scars, the places where we’ve been hurt and the parts of us that have felt like they were ripped away.

Scars can have incredible power over us. They remind us that our pain was real, but even more, they remind us that we’ve healed. 

You can see some of my physical scars — like the one between my eyebrows where I bonked into the corner of a dresser playing hide and seek in the dark.

And you can see the faint outline of a Y-shaped scar on my left leg, a scar that I hope never disappears. I declined the insurance company’s offer to pay for plastic surgery. I wanted to keep the scar, because it reminded me of what I survived: a nearly head-on collision on a wintry morning in January 2009.

That morning, I was listening to a song about Yahweh by Chris Tomlin, just as the other car crossed the center line. In the ER, the doctors stitched up that wound, and it looked like a big “Y” on my leg. I felt like I’d been marked with the initial of Yahweh. 

Ever since that day, I see Ys everywhere. Margaret Feinberg might call that sort of persistent appearance a “sacred echo.” I see the sacred echo of Yahweh in the cracks of sidewalks, the contrails of airplanes in the sky, the way branches overlap, and the way arms look when lifted heavenward in praise.

Every so often, a little girl at my country church — Kayla Jenson — will bring me a Y stick, reminding us both that God is “before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

To me, the Ys point to Yahweh — and His habit of saturating the world with His glory.  It might seem a tad childish, to find Ys in places like the sky and the crack of a sidewalk. I suppose someone might call this wishful thinking or coincidence or pure nonsense, that a 41-year-old woman goes looking for Ys. Even more ridiculous, but just as true, is this: sometimes the Ys coming looking for us.

Every so often, that birch tree in the front yard would beckon. So I’d stretch out my legs on the grass, under her canopy, and look down to see the Y scar on my leg.

Scars are evidence that we’ve been alive on this earth. And so, I gasped with glory when, after that favorite tree of mine was cut down, I saw that deep inside, the tree bore this scar:

“When the world says no way, we say Yahweh.” ~ Bob Lenz


More of my Ys:


From my friend Shelly Miller:

From my friend Jessica Bolyard:


From my friend Cheryl Smith, a “Y” in the asphalt…



If you ever see a Y that you want to share with us, upload it to my Facebook page here. Happy Y-sighting! And happy weekend. 🙂


The song:



The Miracle on Highway 75
How To Answer Every Why
When the World Says No Way



by | August 23, 2013 | 19 comments


  1. Kelly

    This is simply incredible! I so identified with the scar on your leg. I have some numbness in my face as the result of brain surgery to remove a tumor. I have told many that I hope it always stays, it is a reminder of the goodness and mercy that my Lord showed me during my whole ordeal. He did more than I could ask or imagine. I simply love your “Y”s. Oh, how the Lord shows His grace and glory!!

  2. Nancy Kourmoulis

    Jennifer – Love this! I have always loved your Y “Yawheh” story. I constantly find those Y reminders ever since you shared. Thanks for always pointing to our amazing Father! Much love to you!

  3. Lynn Morrissey

    Jennifer, I love that your Y’s are Y’s of praise instead of WHY’S of complaint. And ever since I read your first mention of them, I’ve not thought of them in the same way. And I love what you said about scars–evidence of healing. I had forgotten about a very tiny scar that I have, because it is, in fact, so much healed that you can barely see it. I can’t explain it here, but it has to do with signifcant heartbreak in my life, and oh praise God. He really has healed me of that heartrending pain–so much so that I can barely even see the scar of its remembrance anymore. Our Yaweh is wonderful and faithful.

  4. Janet

    Jennifer –
    Lovely! Now I’m going to go through all of my pictures and find the ‘Y’s…. Thanks for reminding us about God’s presence ALWAYS!

  5. Karmen

    This made me say “Wow!” out loud and then immediately thank God. He is so faithful in his personal touch in each of our lives. Thank you for sharing that! I will forever be on the lookout for “y’s”. 🙂

  6. Teri Bristol

    What a sweet reminder that God is everywhere if we have eyes to see. Years ago, when an acquaintance was going through a difficult time she shared with me that she looked for crosses everywhere…in ceiling panels, sidewalk cracks etc… as a reminder that he was with her, Since then I have been on the lookout for crosses…it’s amazing what you find when you start looking! God is so good…. I love that your favorite tree had a special Y inside just for you!

  7. Shelly Miller

    I love the way you’ve made us all alert to seeing God everywhere. Thanks for sharing the photo I sent you. You are such an encouragement to me you know?

  8. S. Etole

    From the time I first read your “Y” story, I think of you when I see one.

  9. Nancy

    I had to actually giggle when I saw the grass “y’s”. God is so creative. 🙂 And has such wonderful ways to remind us of who He is and how much He loves us.

  10. Leah Adams

    Awww, now that just made me smile. God so cares about the seemingly ‘little things’, which, in fact, are not little at all. He loves to remind us of Himself and He is creative enough to do it in a thousand ways, including Ys. Blessings to you.

  11. Jillie

    “Scars are evidence that we’ve been alive on this earth”. I love that, Jennifer. I will always remember these words, and I will be sharing them with others.
    So glad you kept your “Y Wound” on your leg–such a sweet reminder, now, of God’s care over you in a terrible moment. And it is not foolish for a 41-year-young woman to seek out the “Y’s” on her life journey! Loved the photos, especially the Y in the tree stump!
    For me, it’s butterflies. (2 Cor. 5:17) His amazing redemption…the transformation and metamorphosis that follows!

  12. Chris Malkemes

    Hi. First of all I am glad I found you. Thank you for being you: A Y lover and sharer of Him who loves us with an everlasting love. I’ve never heard your Y story so it was fresh, raw and oh so real. I love His Name – Yahweh because of who He is and “those who know His Name will trust in Him (Ps 9:10). I’m reading Job right now and can’t wait until I get to the end. People see only the beginning and question God, “WHY?” and I read it straight through and say, “Thank You, Lord for the journey.” In the end Job really knew God as God revealed Himself so powerfully. If we have to capture the pain and hold on to the scars to know Him then so be it. I want to know the God of Joseph, the God of Moses and yes, the God of Job. I lay “self” on the alter and rise up and call Him blessed. The greatest answered prayer: “He must become more and I must become less.” In the less I find Him. In the less I lift up a yielded heart and caress the scars because He is real.

    Sorry. I went so long here. I needed your “story” right now, again. thank you.

  13. Mindy

    I love how God uses reminders like scars and Y’s to point us to Him. You write so beautifully…

  14. Being Woven

    Surely I will now be noticing “Y”s all around as He is all around. This is so fitting for me as I have been dealing with some old scars, some not quite gone and needing to be recalled and given to the Lord. He will take the burden and give me breath as I do. Thanks for this encouragement, Lisa.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  15. Jessica

    Jennifer, your story always resonates with me. I see Ys out and about now, too, breathing a prayer of gratitude for God’s goodness to us. My own silly hide-and-seek with God is hearts. He constantly places them in my path and yes, it seems a bit childish, but I think that’s kind of what He’s trying to do: get me to stop taking things so seriously and act a little more like a child! (Plus, the whole “faith like a child” thing…y’know.) Thanks so much for sharing your story. And I’m so glad you liked that picture. It was one of my favorites when I took it.

  16. Lea

    Oh, I loved this and will now be keeping my eyes “peeled” for Y’s. I love associations such as this. Very inspiring!


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