Beauty For Ashes


In less than an hour Jerry Meyer, our father, grandfather (Papa), uncle, best friend,  loyal co-worker, and good man lost his home along with almost everything he owned. 

In the early evening of September 12th, 2020, a fire consumed Jerry's home.  Jerry has some insurance, but it will not cover all he has lost.   We all want to help him in some way.  Some people have helped dig through the ashes, others have brought food and water, some have helped get Red Cross emergency donations, some have given their shoulders to cry on, and many have prayed.  Now that the cleanup is near finishing up, we all want to continue to do what little we can to help support Jerry in rebuilding his life.  We want to show Jerry that there is hope.  We want him to know in his heart that beauty can come from ashes.


Jerry lived alone in his home at 39355 Pourroy Ave on the outskirts of Temecula, CA .  He has worked hard all his life. In his early years he was a licensed journeyman plumber and worked in a plumbing business with his brother-in-law.  In mid-life he started and ran a successful carpet cleaning company that operated in the South Los Angeles and Orange County area. For the most recent 17 years Jerry has worked as a school bus driver for the Temecula School District, and the last 8 years he also served as a bus driver for the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians.

He had just received out-of-state visitors at his home when the fire started.  His family from Seattle, his daughter, Tammy , his grandson, Joshua, and a family friend, Vicki had arrived to stay and visit him for a few days.  


There was a short period of confusion when Jerry and his guests began to smell smoke.  Not knowing where it was coming from, they each began to look around.  The realization came fast. The fire had started outside the home and was quickly beginning to overtake the house.  The family moved fast.  Jerry attempted to put out the fire with the garden hose, but it had grown too quickly.  Tammy assisted Vicki out of the house, but could only get her to the stairs.  They paused and Tammy called 911.  Joshua and a neighbor, Carol, assisted in helping Vicki move along quicker.  Jerry, realizing that Vicki needed further help to get out of harm's way,  ran to get a wheelchair out of his RV that was parked next to the home.  The house fire had already spread and the RV was also on fire.  Jerry got the wheelchair to Vicki and they all moved as fast as they could down the long driveway and out to the street.  By now the entire home, the RV, and the nearby cars were all being consumed by the flames.  The whole area was engulfed in toxic black smoke.


The house was well-involved with flames when the Temecula Fire Department arrived.  One fire fighter suffered heat exhaustion and was taken by ambulance to the hospital for evaluation. 


Jerry's family and friends, including all four of his children, helped to sift through the ashes for cherished belongings.  An item Jerry had prayed he would find was a small, gold locket he kept that had belonged to his only sister.  Smaller than the size of a penny, and with the fire having turned everything to charred wood and ashes, there was no realistic thought that it would be found.   Every indication was that hope was lost.  Then, Jerry's son, Tom spotted something attached to a chain.  It was the locket! Inside the locket, as if encased in a fireproof vault safe from all heat and flame, were the two tiny photos of Jerry and his sister Cathy.  The photos were completely unharmed.  A clear message that hope is never lost.


We have each thought about that one thing we would grab if our homes caught fire.  Jerry grabbed a wheelchair, and yet he still got his one thing.

There is hope.  There is beauty for ashes.

What does beauty for ashes mean?

God loved us so much He says He can give us beauty for ashes according to Isaiah 61:3 that says, “to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”  God says He will take away the wounded/unhappy/pain parts of our lives and make it beautiful.


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Keith Heitzman 
Edmonds, WA

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