About Me

South Africa
My husband, Brett and I live in beautiful South Africa and have been blessed with the most precious family. We have 2 very beautiful and brave daughters, Tianna and Angelee and a very precious little boy called Zac who touched our hearts forever in his 1 day here on earth. We never would have imagined that we would have to live this side of Heaven without our sweet boy who was born with half a heart, but every day Jesus carries us through and is teaching us more than ever how to live, laugh and love fully. A year and a half later, our faithful Great Restorer graciously blessed us once again with another son ... our beloved Gabriel ... a ray of sunshine in all our lives! This blog has been a place where I have been able to journal my journey through loss, hope and choosing to live a life rich in love.

Blog Archive

30 November 2011

You've got Mail: from Mommy

Hello my darling boy. Your Mommy, Daddy and sisters have been missing you so much so I had to write today. I am sitting in the rocking chair that I had dreamed of nursing you from, ready to share my heart and thoughts with you today. It's more for my healing than yours I know, but somehow it brings me great comfort to share these things with you. My heart KNOWS that your heart is fully healed and that you know only pure peace and joy, but this side of Heaven, my broken heart is taking a little more time to find complete wholeness. I can tell you that Jesus is so lovingly and carefully taking His time to mend each broken piece back together. Each day my heart knows a little more healing and even if this heart of mine bears the marks of having been pieced back together, I wouldn't swop it back to how it was before for anything. It now resembles the masterful hands of my Creator having attended to me personally after having met and released a cherished gift in my life. You. 
Lately He has been showing me beautiful glimpses of Eternal truths that bring me such joy and comfort. To know that I have one child spared from this broken world's sorrows is a great gift. In fact my boy ... you are teaching all of us as your family such amazing truths about Jesus and our eternal inheritance with Him. How privileged you are to be with Him in fullness. On a funny note, I had a good giggle thinking about how at least I know for sure that you will always get mommy's letters without any delays, seeing as there is no lost or delayed mail in Heaven ;0) I can just picture you being rocked in your beautiful Heavenly nursery being read a letter from your mommy today. That makes me smile. 
Today is a perfect day to write to you, because today 2 months ago I got to meet you face to face. My love boy, it was such a beautiful day for us as your family. The tears run down my cheeks as I remember it. Everything about our time with you was so peaceful and filled with joy. Though I weep, I smile in my heart because no matter how short that time was, it was FULL and your Daddy and I will carry through this lifetime the sweetness and joy of those memories. We have a little boy that we are going to spend eternity getting to know!!! I like to picture the fun you are going to have with your 2 big sisters who talk about you so much. We all sit and dream together what you must be experiencing. Wow ... you are going to be the one to show us all around our Heavenly home one day. Such sweet anticipation for us while we wait my darling! A friend had a word for me at your baby shower before we ever knew how short your time would be with us, that you would be the wise one in our family. She said that although you may be the smallest, there is such wisdom that you will impart to each of us. How true this is! Already you are teaching us about the deep things of our amazing God. In fact, I remember being taken aback when I first held you in my arms because, though I could not understand it at the time, there was just something about you that told my heart that you were destined for great things in Heaven. There was such a seriousness about your sweet little face. I could see such wisdom locked away in your beautiful eyes. My boy, I feel privileged to know that my precious Saviour is using my own child to reveal Himself and some of the "hidden mysteries" to me. I am one proud momma (not that you understand pride in Heaven! hee hee. It's just one of those things a mommy carries in her heart for each of her children. What can I say - your mommy is a work in progress ;0).
We set up the Christmas tree last night. We chose blue and silver as the main colours in your honour! Aunty Niqui gave me a special decoration that takes pride of place (oops ... there's that word again!) at the top of the advent calendar. It has all our names written on it, including yours.
I can't even imagine the buzz in Heaven as you get ready to celebrate your first Christmas there!!! There must be BIG party plans in operation for Jesus' birthday ;0) While we try wrapping our heads around enjoying this Christmas Season without you in our home, I will allow myself to find things to rejoice about, because to think of you is to know that there is the hope of forever because of the most precious gift Jesus gave us. Salvation. So my sweet boy, know that your family thinks and celebrates you with grateful hearts. You are always remembered and cherished. Jesus is using your story to encourage many broken hearts.   I will be forever thankful for that. I have met so many other brave mommies whose little ones may already be your friends. How gracious of Jesus to encourage me with these special people and have you surrounded by sweet little friends showing you all around the best gardens ever! I can just imagine the jungle gyms!!! Thank goodness I don't ever have to worry about you falling and hurting something ;0) Your life reminds Mommy each day to let every day count for eternity!
Please ask Jesus to kiss that little nose again for mommy xxx
All my love for always xoxox
Ps - You must smile when you look at how well your sisters are doing. Their love for you is so pure. Can you hear them giggling hysterically from the other room? I better go check on them! 

27 November 2011

To the Guardian of our Hearts

I think it is safe to say that this week was a week of facing the anger phase head on in the grief process for me. I have to giggle when I think about how elaborately decorated my hubby and girls crowns are going to be when they get to Heaven one day, with all of the mood swings they have seen me go through with the pregnancy and all the hormones since. Yikes!!! Shiny crowns indeed. :0)
It's weird how those grief stages sneak up on you. One minute I am doing ok and then the next minute I am hit with so many different emotions so randomly. I picked up a book on dealing with loss that I was given to read. A few pages into it I wanted to throw it clean across the room because all of a sudden I realised once again that I am "that" mom having to figure out how to deal with living here without my little boy and also having to learn how to help my daughters process and heal from all this loss! In that split second I got really mad!!! I don't want my daughters to be heart broken!!! I don't want to watch them cry for their brother and ask me questions that I cannot answer. (I am seriously considering hunting down one of those Greek restaurants where you are allowed to smash plates ... LOTS of plates!). And then it happens ... peace rushes in like a gentle wave while the anger recedes as the Lord comforts my heart with the truth that He is the Guardian of my daughters tender little hearts and to confirm it, He opens my eyes to the sweet moments of what I do have this side of Heaven ... the privilege of being mommy to two of the bravest little girls I know, who even in the midst of the pain can show me how to laugh and smile as I watch them grow and listen to their laughter and banter.
Tianna and Angelee, you two little treasure girls are a gift from God to me. He has used you over and over to shape my heart & character and to experience the healing touch of our Awesome God. I know that your little brother sees and smiles when the Father allows him to glimpse you playing ... even as daddy and I count ourselves privileged to raise you and watch you grow. Oh how we love you!
And Father God ... thank you for facing each of the crazy emotions (and my reactions to them) with me and for guiding me with love and such tenderness. Even in the anger You do not condemn, instead you reach out and extend grace and love. Each day You find ways of showing me that You are the Guardian of our hearts. Thank you for giving me the most wonderful husband who is a pillar of strength with a heart fixed on You. Your Presence is so evident in our everyday lives ... You dwell with us and are seeing us through. Thank you for getting me through week 8. 
Love Janni xxx

25 November 2011

Zac's Garden and some "Phrasing" Issues ;0)

A few days after Zac's 'graduation' (I just simply can never get myself to type the words 'died' because my heart knows full well that my little boy is full of life, currently and forever very much alive in Heaven awaiting the day that the rest of his family will join him) we had to start planning his memorial service. It was the lowest time of my life. I could not muster any emotional resolve to plan my son's funeral. I had planned for him to LIVE, not die. I could not even think straight past the pain in my heart and the constant longing for my my little boy, to have to think what songs I wanted sung or order of service felt too overwhelming. Grief is so surreal and weird in those early days. I could not focus on anything for the first month. Conversations were so hard for me because all my senses felt over sensitive and raw. I couldn't follow long conversations without wanting to withdraw to a quiet place. Noise was overbearing to my senses. It's like your body shuts itself down to the bare basics to force you to slow down and process. Anyway - back to my point ... I said to my hubby that he could arrange whatever was on his heart to do for Zac's service as long as it didn't feel like a funeral. In fact, I did not even want the words "funeral" or "memorial service" worded in the invitation. We decided to call it his "celebration of life" service and  on the day, it actually became his birthday party. (Gosh - I never knew I had so many "phrasing" issues?!). I know that this may seem strange to some as we all grieve differently, but words are very important to me. I wanted everything about that day to be about his life, not death. Every second he spent with us was such a gift and we wanted that celebrated. 
One of the beautiful ideas my precious hubby had was, instead of people sending us bunches of flowers, to rather bring a living plant that we could plant in our garden as a living garden of remembrance for Zac. It has actually become such a healing balm to my heart over these last few weeks. We finally planted our beautiful roses and flowers. I find myself pottering around my garden every day, pinching off the dead leaves or pruning back the old flowers to make space for new growth. To see the new buds and branches growing brings such joy and peace to my heart. It all shouts out LIFE! Lord have mercy should any of those roses die!!! I think I might just become frantic - hee hee. So here is a peak at our garden so far. 
On one of our early trips to the nursery to pick out special roses, my big girl fell in love with the sent of one of the red roses and she picked it to plant for her little brother. It just bloomed for her last week, which made us both smile.   
This is one of my favorites. I picked it as it is named after Zac's second name. It's called a King David rose. How beautiful is that colour!!!
Seeing as this is a rose garden, what would a rose garden be without a rose bird bath. My precious handsomeness bought this for me last week. (You can spot Tianna's red rose behind it). 
My garden wasn't complete without a beautiful tall Standard Rose. The white reminds me of the sweet innocence of my little boy. I often tease the girls by saying that at least one of my children will never be given a time out or discipline ;0) Hee hee. They think it is so unfair that he gets away with so much! Too cute. Don't you just love the heart shaped hands. I want to put bird seeds in there to feed our friendly little visitors.
This beautiful blue hydrangea arrived today as a gift from a precious friend. It made my heart sing, as I have been hunting for a bold blue flower for Zac's garden. I planted it as soon as I found a spare minute. Isn't it gorgeous!
We are also working on connecting a beautiful fountain that will sit right in front of our porch. I can't wait to show you when it is finally done! My heart is smiling just looking at all these beautiful pictures. I hope they make you smile too and inspire you to start digging around in your garden. Happy weekend sweet friends.
All my love xoxox

24 November 2011

Thankful Thursday and it's Thanksgiving

I would so love to be in the U.S. today experiencing this special holiday. My mom is there (I miss you my precious Mommy Darling and love you so dearly). I always love hearing her reports back to me about the specialness of this day spent with loved ones (not to mention how much I am craving a piece of Pumkin Pie - tried it once and LOVED it - especially the memory of eating that slice with my mom and sis at a precious family get together). I love how it is a day to simply stop and give God the time to say "thank you". I reckon we should be doing this every day, yet somehow we so easily get swallowed up in the stresses of life that we don't always notice just how close He stands to each of us, reaching out and expressing His love to us. So today, even though I am not in the US, I am celebrating this day with a thankful heart for all that God has always been to me - the One who loves completely and faithfully journeys with me dad by day.

21 November 2011

I'm "that" woman ... Moody Musings on a Rainy Day

After a Saturday jam packed with so many "grief milestones" I have to say that I started the week on an emotional low. I had just negotiated my first baby shower after Zac's "graduation", a kiddies birthday party with mommy's who last saw me preggy and meeting the sweetest little baby boy, but watching my daughters pain written all over her face when holding him and having her cry later because neither her or her sister could understand why they cannot have their baby brother anymore. So many big questions to which I could not give all the answers to. It was just so much for my broken mommy's heart.
Everything about my weekend highlighted one fact loud and clear to me ... I'm "that" woman ... the one that I never ever thought I ever would be. The one that I always had such compassion for but could never really be able to say 'I know how you feel', because up until 7 weeks ago, I never would have ever understood how hard her walk would be. You know the person ... the one where it feels like everyone feels they have to walk very carefully around, because really, what can anyone say to these kinds of hardships. I totally felt like I had become "that" person that everyone looks at with sad eyes. Oh my gosh - I was having a good old pity party for myself, so mad that this has become "my reality" until the Lord gently started to show me the other side of my new role as 'grieving mom'.
He began to show me that, yes, I am "that" woman ... I am the one who has the privilege of having Jesus walk me personally through every minute of the day ... the one who knows that her faithful God has collected each tear that she has cried and will allow her to see the reward of an eternity spent with all her family together, with no more tears or sorrows. Yes, I am "that" woman ... the one who Jesus has blessed with the most precious family and friends who have been an amazing support. "That" woman that has made such precious connections with women from all walks of life who have written to me never having met me, to encourage and share similar journeys which strengthen my heart to know that I too will come through even as they have and are. As the week has progressed I am starting to see that I am blessed to be "that" woman ... because no matter what I will face in my life from here on in, I will never again have a fear of death because my Jesus has taught me through my precious little boy that death is not the end ... it is the entrance to life in it's fullest and most beautiful.
As I pondered these things I received a message from a new friend ... precious Val ... a lady who has many more years of experience than me, yet we have both encountered similar loss, though 40 years apart, but it has united our hearts ... and in her message I saw the privilege of being "that" woman who is given the gift of walking her child into the waiting, open arms of Love Himself who walks all who will give their hearts to Him, into the beautiful gates of Eternity. I got to do that with Zac, though so very early for my mother's-heart dreams, but I got to hold him as He entered the arms of the King of Glory. These things have a way of changing our lives forever and although the pain is unbearable at times, there are gifts in it too. The gift of seeing the love and compassion of our Saviour who understands our pain and understands that we do not see in full, which is why we ache so deeply, but who is patient enough to walk us through each day and grow in us a revelation of the bigger, beautiful picture.
So tonight I am going to sleep with a heart that has encountered deep loss, but even greater ... encountered profound "heart peace" and it is this heart peace that allows me to sleep soundly and even with a hint of a smile because I know that I am "that" woman who is always on the heart of God. Oh how I love you Jesus.
Love Janine xxx

16 November 2011

His Message through Nature

Hubby is out for a movie night with his brother and the girls are tucked into bed after a busy day of studying for exams. I don't know who is swatting harder - my eldest or me ;-) I feel like I am getting my grade 4 education all over again! Not a bad thing I suppose, because I am finally learning those times tables of by heart! hee hee

As I write tonight the rain is falling. What a soothing and relaxing sound. There is nothing like being indoors with an opportunity to simply lie in bed and listen to the rain pouring. It is a cleansing sound. It makes my heart smile because we finally planted our rose garden for Zac last week and all this rain is exactly what my roses need. (I have to take a photo of our budding garden and post it soon.) I am so enjoying learning something new ... gardening. My precious Mommy Darling was here visiting me for Zac's celebration service when the roses started arriving. I have such beautiful memories of walking around the nursery, each picking out our favorites that we deemed worthy to be planted in this special garden of life. Before she flew back to the U.S. she taught me how to tend to them and I have to say how therapeutic I find walking around my garden and cutting off the dead bits to give new life to the plants. There is something so beautiful about seeing flowers bloom after having being carefully clipped back. Haven't we all read so many lessons on the growth that comes from pruning. I always cringe, because I know how painful pruning is ...  so no ... you are not going to have to read a post on pruning today ;0) 

2 weeks ago the girls and I sat for ages snipping off all the dead daisy flowers that had bloomed in Spring. When I looked at the bushes today, I noticed that they are budding all over again. The same for the rose bushes that were in full bloom when we bought and received them, but after snipping off the flowers that had bloomed they looked so empty for the last few weeks. Today as I sprayed them with some rose feed, I noticed all the new buds and I was overjoyed!!! The lady at the nursery told me today that they bloom in 6 week cycles. She had NO IDEA how significant that would be to me. As I mentioned yesterday, I am at the 6 week mark since Zac's graduation, and to see the promise of these new buds spoke so prophetically to my heart. Beauty WILL bloom, because the Creator of Heaven and earth is watching over our little family and lovingly tending to us to cause life, beauty and joy to bloom in each of us, no matter how hard some days may seem to be. 
This week the Lord has spoken so much to me through nature around me. I encourage you to keep your eyes and ears open to His beautiful messages of hope and endearment that He wants to share with you. I would love to hear how He has spoken into your heart and met you where you are at. May this be a comfortable place for you to share your stories too.

Sending you all so much love xxx

15 November 2011

A Little "6 week" Honesty

6 weeks and 3 days. It's funny how the days matter for some reason. I don't know why - they just do. A friend of mine told me yesterday that she had been told the 6th week is known to be a tough week in grieving for some reason. I have to agree. For me the permanence of life this side of Heaven without Zac has really hit home. The ache that it leaves in its wake has the tears easily flowing. 
I had plans to clean out the play room for the girls today, but after packing up the nursery and giving away bags of clothes and blankets that I had dreamed of seeing my sweet boy in, I just could not face it. Tears poured as I  had to come to a place of acceptance that I would never have photo's of Zac wrapped in some of the favorite outfits that had been so lovingly handpicked for him. The loss is profound.
Somehow, everything is a reminder of my loss right now. Going to my precious Leelee's school concert had me in tears knowing that I would never go to one of Zac's school concerts. After kissing the girls goodnight last night I heard them praying to Jesus - messages and kisses for Him to pass on to their baby brother. Oh my goodness, my mothers heart broke all over again, not only for the son I long to be raising, but for having to see and parent my girls through grieving the loss of the brother they prayed for so many years to have. What could ever prepare a mother to guide her remaining children through this?
I have decided to be really honest about my journey on my blog, because I believe that there are many people who may just bump into these posts, who like me are shocked and broken to find themselves walking down a similar path. God has graciously led me to a few blogs of precious daughters of the King who have also walked this road and it has helped me so much to find perspective in the pain. I want the Lord to use every bit of my life and my story, by being honest enough to share how He is meeting me even in the midst of the worst kind of pain I could fathom.
My hardest question right now is being asked "how are you?". Honestly ... I don't know how to reply. How much does the person really want to know? Do they really want to hear how hard it is, because the only honest answer comes with a whole lot of pain, and for me it's hard to have to rehash that pain over and over again. It's just a continual reminder of my new reality. 
With all this pouring through my mind I decided to go for a walk on the beach this morning to ponder and talk to the Lord about this unanticipated path that has become part of my story ... that of being a grieving mother. I have to say that I am still so shocked to find myself in this role. I never would have thought that this would be part of my story. The strangely comforting part is knowing that God knew and has sent Jesus to walk me through each day. As I walked and talked with Jesus on the beach I stumbled upon a heart shaped rock. I smiled, as just the week before I asked the Lord to help me spot a heart shaped stone to cheer my heart.
I carried it as I walked on, pondering how much more significant it would be to find a stone shaped in half of a heart. Not only did Zac have half a heart ... but since his 'graduation' I have to say that my heart feels just as broken. I shared my heart with Jesus, coming to a place of expressing my desire for Him to use Zac's story and create in us as his family, a testimony that will bring many broken hearted people to a place of heart healing in Him. Zac may have had half a heart, but his story is one of an Almighty God who brings wholeness to even the most broken of hearts. Just this morning my tears poured as I read a message from someone who had shared Zac's story while preaching to 6,000 people over seas. I wept with the privilege of realizing that Zac is still fulfilling his evangelical calling from Heaven every time his story is told. As I turned and walked back, the sunlight caught on a stone just washed in by the waves ... it was half a heart shaped stone! As I picked it up I saw the shape of a heart in the broken heart. I brought it home and painted it red.
As I held this stone in my hands, it was like holding the promise of God that even in the midst of my broken heart, He sees and knows and has poured out His love and His heart to make mine beat in the midst of pain even as He supernaturally kept Zac's heart beating through my pregnancy and for almost 22 hours on earth so that His Story could be told through Zac's story. God's love stands in the midst of my brokenness and brings peace and strength. 
I was asked on Saturday if I have healed. I looked at the person in absolute shock as my mind reeled - can you seriously ever completely heal from a broken heart from loosing one of your children this side of Heaven? While I cannot say that my heart is completely healed, I do know that Jesus has poured His love into my brokenness to sustain me. His love goes beyond understanding and somehow consoles what nothing else can. Somehow, His love is bigger than the fiercest agony of loss and yearning ... it supersedes the pain to allow me to know that I am not alone in this journey. He is walking it moment by moment with me and for that I am eternally thankful.
That dear friends is where I am at 6 weeks into this crazy journey through grief. It's a journey of choosing to lean into Him moment by moment. What I can say with certainty is that even when I cannot believe that it is humanly possible to live through this kind of pain ... HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT and His love carries me. 
All my love,

04 November 2011

5 Weeks Today

My Precious Zac,

5 weeks ago today you defied the odds and came into our world crying the sweetest cry that your mommy and daddy could ever hope to hear. The doctor's never thought that you would cry, but you showed them all my boy. Words like  "univentricular heart with a severe hypoplastic left ventricle syndrome"  followed by "major heart defect" ... "incompatible with life or corrective surgery" faded away as we finally got to meet you face to face. You were never anything but God's perfect gift to us my precious love boy.
As long as I live I will never forget the wonder of your birth. I will never forget drinking in the sight of you for the first time as I prayed, kissed, cuddled and sang to you while you gently cried in my arms. I would do anything to hold you in my arms right now.
Nothing could have given me more joy than seeing the bright glow of pure love that beamed from your daddy every moment that he was with you. The two of you shared the most incredible bond that still takes my breath away.

Your two big sisters miss you so very much. It makes mommy cry to see their pain at being separated from you this side of Heaven. I understand just how they feel and feel exactly the same way, but we all just keep reminding each other that one of these days we will all be back together as a family, lavishing all our love on you. I know you know this ... but you truly do have the bravest and most beautiful big sisters who absolutely adore you.
We hold onto the gift of every one of those 21 precious, joy, peace and intensely love-filled hours that we shared with you. You were so strong to give us all the time that you did. The doctors said that you were "incompatible with life", but my brave lion heart ... you were the very carrier of the life of God to all who have read your story or spent time with you. Your time with us, in and out of my womb, exuded the life and "heart peace" that came from the presence of God within you. Mommy and Daddy often say to each other that we would endure all the pain all over again just to have experienced the gift of your life. We love you our son. We know that Jesus is taking the best care of you. Please ask him to give you a special kiss on the nose from your mommy.

Love from mommy xoxox