From Dishes to Snow, by Kathy Howard
Losing your husband and children is perhaps the greatest tragedy a wife and mother can ever suffer, even if she’s a Christian. In her novel From Dishes to Snow, Kathy Howard gives me an idea of just how difficult recovery is. Her protagonist, Bayne Harris, blames herself for the deaths of her husband Micah and her nine year old twins, Jaime and Paige. She was the one driving, the one who made the mistake at the wheel. She doesn’t blame God for what happened, but even knowing He’s with her, the pain is just too much to bear.
Frustrated with the do-gooders in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia, who just won’t leave her alone, Bayne decides her only option is to get away. She sets her sights on a lonely red cabin on View Top Mountain, where people are few. Surely everyone will leave her alone, and she can wallow in peace. Besides, she thinks, she doesn’t deserve to be around other people. She doesn’t deserve happiness.
But God doesn’t always give us what we deserve.
Almost immediately, Bayne encounters new people who help her to see past her pain. When she tells her first new acquaintance, Wren Jordan, that her mother named her Bayne because it rhymes with pain, Wren nicknames her Bay so that she won’t have to constantly hear her mother’s bitterness every time her name is called. Bay goes on to meet other godly people, such as the elderly Theodore and Bertha Sue Milfred who live next door, and Wren’s daughter Sam. Slowly, Bay begins to appreciate how these sweet neighbors see God in everything, from dishes to snow.
But healing isn’t easy. Even here, away from home, Bay still has to live with the memories of her happy past and the tragic moment that ended it. Every bird makes her think of Micah, and making brownies reminds her of how the twins liked icing on theirs. And while Bay has never blamed God for Micah’s and Jaime’s deaths, because they enter heaven instantly, she’s angry that Paige had to suffer without Bay to comfort her before she passed. The memories are awful, but even greater is God’s reminder that He was with Paige, and He’s still with Bay right now.
This is Howard’s first book, and I have to admit, sometimes the writing is a little stiff, especially the dialogue. And sometimes there’s a bit more explanation than is necessary. If Bay has her hands on her hips while she’s talking to Wren about which Christmas tree she wants, we know her mind is made up. No further explanations necessary. What's more, I think some of the characters are a bit too good to be true. Wren and the Milfreds seem almost too perfect, and as we know, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). The best characters are not perfect, because it means they're just like real people. Bay seems real, and that's good since it's a first person narrative, but some of the others don't.
Regardless, From Dishes to Snow really is a beautiful story about God leading this woman from pain to Joy. As the snow falls, refreshing the earth, her heart is refreshed as well by knowing that God is in control, and that he has plans to give her a future and a hope.