About Me

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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 (13) and Angelee (10) 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. Last year our faithful Great Restorer graciously blessed us once again with another son ... our beloved Gabriel. We are all so in love with him! "Love in Action" is our journey as a family to love the way Jesus is teaching us to love and live.

About the Journey

Life is certainly a remarkable adventure! You just never quite know what's around that next corner! I am a 36 year old wife and mommy to 4 amazing children. When I started this blog a few years ago I had no idea just how much I would learn about the depths of God's love in the years ahead! Back then I was a mommy of two little girls. In September 2011 we were given the greatest privilege to become proud parents to a very special little boy called Zac, our "lion heart". We were entrusted to carry him in pregnancy in an amazing walk of faith, because he would only be ours this side of Heaven for 21 and a half hours after birth. Our precious heart baby has taught us more about the reality of Heaven and the truly important matters of the heart in his short journey in our lives than a lifespan of living could have taught us. He continues to be our pointer to Jesus in remarkable ways. "Love in Action" has become our incredible journey through grief to live lives filled with grace, strength, increasing joy and purpose as we continue to heal and grow in God's amazing love as a family. Just a few weeks ago we welcomed our second son, Gabriel into this amazing big-wide-world-of-wonder! We are overcome with joy as the Great Restorer is faithfully at work in our lives! Please come and join me on my adventure. I'm one of those people who wears my heart on my sleeve. I'm a firm believer of living my life out in the open as I continue to pursue a life lived in truth and freedom. I am exploring the depths of God's personal love for us, and I have to say that life is far more colourful lived in His love. I would like to live my life having experienced rich friendships - both new and old and most certainly having loved and laughed my way through most of it. I welcome you to share your thoughts and comments with me. At the end of each blog entry, click on "comments" to add your thoughts. I can't wait to hear from you! Here's to life God's way ... RICH and FULL in Jesus Christ's overflowing love for us!

30 December 2011

And then there was you

Exactly 3 months ago today you were born. I held you in my arms and knew such relief. I had no idea that my time with you would be so short. My heart knew only overwhelming love for you and faith that defies fear. I now see what a gift that faith was. It allowed me to be fully present with peace, instead of fear and panic for the time that we were given with you. It was pure joy to finally see you and hold you in our arms. I remember stroking your sweet little nose and kissing you over and over again and looking up into the smiling eyes of your courageous Daddy. My boy - I know that you are so proud of your Daddy - the way he fought for you and stood fearlessly in faith, believing for your best. Both Daddy and I miss you so much. Not a day goes by that we don't think about you and miss you with all our hearts. Your sisters talk to mommy about you so much. We all have a debate on about who will get to see you in Heaven first ;0) Whoever it will be ... they will have so many hugs and kisses to give to you from the rest of us. We also all have different ideas on what colour eyes you have. Daddy is convinced that they are blue. I can't wait to see when we finally meet again. 
Daddy built us a fountain in your honour for our garden, so that as we sit outside and listen to the running water, we remember you with such love in our hearts. He worked so hard on it and it brings us so much joy to look at. It makes me wonder what beautiful gardens Jesus carries you through in Heaven. I'm sure they are breathtaking.
As I took a few minutes to water the garden we planted in your remembrance, my heart dropped to discover the pure white standard rose we planted in the middle had broken in half by the wind today. It was just too much for me. I broke down and sobbed. It was such a picture of what I mourned for today ... a beautiful, pure life with so much budding potential and beauty taken so swiftly before it had been given time to even bloom into it's fullness. I cried for every milestone I will miss seeing you reach. I cried for the loss of raising and loving you and for all the dreams that we had for you in our every day life. I cried and cried and cried. And now, Jesus comes once again to whisper truth to my grieving heart. While I miss your presence with us here on earth, you are blooming into the fullness of your destiny in Heaven. You are experiencing what pure love is like. Your life still has such significant impact here on earth as your story has been a beautiful beacon pointing so many people to true heart peace - the person of Jesus Christ. While I cry for the loss of our dreams with you, Jesus gently reminds me that you are living and alive and just a little bit further along the journey from the rest of your family. Heaven isn't as far away as it used to seem to me. You have shown me how close it is.
I know you know it, but I want to tell you again today how much we love you. Sending you all my hugs and kisses as I go to sleep with a heart comforted by the same God who watches over you for me.
 Love Mommy xxx 

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27 December 2011

3 months and a Christmas milestone later ...

Tonight is another one of those nights where the tears do not want to stop falling. Everything inside of me feels so broken that I wonder how I will ever feel whole again. I feel like I am permanently negotiating a million different emotions in a day. There are moments where hope is so clear that I can glimpse a perspective more beautiful than my brokenness would dare for me to believe, but then there comes a moment like this afternoon that knocks my breathe away ... my daughters taking turns at falling into my arms in floods of tears at the injustice of such a short lifespan for their little brother. How do I take their pain away? Or the moment where I cried with my sister today as I realized that I could never again hold the beautiful blue and green quilt that she lovingly made for Zac, because the day that he died I could not bare for him to be taken away from me without being wrapped up in something warm that was woven in love and prayers, made with faith in the promise of hope. More than anything I want him in my arms in that quilt right now. Then there is the pain that I see in my precious husbands eyes as he misses his treasured son after having bonded so deeply with him when he was in my womb and then eventually holding his little boy, only to have to release him before being given the privilege of watching him grow up before our earthly eyes. EVERYTHING reminds me of the pain our family has endured. Watching my daughters and nieces open their Christmas presents, but realizing constantly that one of our darlings will always be missing. Hanging up the Christmas stockings, but not having one to fill for Zac. Sitting around the table to eat Christmas lunch, but only having a candle to light in Zac's remembrance. Watching my little niece and nephews reach their milestones and knowing that I will never be able to boast about Zac's growth and developing personality. How on earth does everything else carry on as normal when the pain is so real and devastating to us? Having to accept that we will never be the same again as a family is so hard. Do I know that God will bring beauty from these ashes? Absolutely. But right now I just want to kick and scream that we have these ashes to deal with. The only thing that brings my heart peace is looking at this life from an Eternal perspective. That is the place that I keep going back to when I feel like I do today. I lift my eyes to the One from where my help comes from. I look to the One who knows how to bring us through even as He holds my son in His arms. When I look up, I see that glimmer of hope again and find the courage to keep growing in my faith and trust in Him. I am not going to pretend for one second that this is an easy journey. It is so very hard to understand and make peace with. I still fail to understand why we have been entrusted with this story, but I do not fail to trust and believe that God is good and that He is loving us through all this heartache. 
So often I feel an unspoken pressure to have it all sorted though and look like we are back to normal, moving forward - looking brave to anyone who might look on. Nobody particularly expects this of us - it is more the voice of the accuser who would love to bring maximum devastation from our pain. I know better than to think for one second that any of what we have gone through is God's doing. What we have walked through is the result of a broken and fallen world. This brokenness is what drew Jesus to come and live a sacrificial life so that He can offer us the gift and hope of Eternal life. Everything that I am going through right now makes that so much clearer to me. While I am so saddened by this chapter of our story, I know that there is still a beautiful picture and many precious memories and gifts that we have been given too. It's choosing to mindful of that in the pain.
While I wish that this was a light hearted after-Christmas post, it's more of a real from-the-heart account of where we are at. We are so grateful for the love and support of family and friends who have walked this part of the journey with us. Having my sister here to brave our first Christmas after Zac is so brave on their part and so much appreciated even as I tackle my highs and lows. I know that with time we will grow through these first really intense months. It's just one step at a time.
With love from a very honest and hurting, yet somehow healing Jan xxx 

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21 December 2011

Seeing the Glimmer of Joy

It's been a little quiet over at my blog these last few days ... just in a reflective head space I guess. We have also been hard at work getting our home ready for my precious sister, brother in law, nieces and extended family who are arriving for the Christmas holidays. Roll on Friday ;0) I love the thought of squeezing an extra 6 people into our humble home. It just makes me miss my precious Mommy Darling who usually comes home from the US for Christmas - but we were spoilt to have 2 visits with her during the year. My dad, Brett's folks and siblings are all away on well deserved holidays after a really full year.  
The girls slept out at their Granny and Poppi last night, so hubby and I took the gap to go out for dinner and a movie. We watched New Years Eve. I sobbed watching the shots of the newborn babies in the hospital nurseries, just being reminded again how much I miss Zac and how I so wish it could have been different. After the movie, I bumped into a friend who told me of another mommy who had just lost her 2 year old son that morning. A little boy we had all been praying for in church on Sunday. I wanted to crumple to the ground and just sob and scream at the injustice of such a fallen and broken world ... knowing the raw pain that this precious mother and father are enduring right now - a pain I wish nobody would ever have to face, yet far too many parents do. When I came home I couldn't help but feel down wondering if our lives will always be marked with a quiet, unspoken sadness. We have become one of those families who can relate to others who have also lost children. It brings tears to my eyes that this is a part of my daughters life stories. How different I wish it could have been for them. While we have definitely found the God given ability to laugh as a family, there are so often moments that bring me back to the fact that my little family will always have the story of having faced loss at it's rawest. I woke up this morning and allowed myself the time to really take stock of what we have just walked through. I went right back to the beginning ...
I will never forget the look of sheer rejoicing on Brett's face when I discovered on the 7th of February that I was pregnant with the child that we had prayed so long for. God's timing was just an added gift that we could announce it to our eldest daughter on her 10th birthday the very next day was so unforgettably special. She had prayed for a brother for years. Right from day 1 Brett knew that I was pregnant with his son. I bought a little babygrow to give him on the day we would find out the sex just in case it was in fact a little boy. This photo makes me want to cry at the memory of our joy. We had just walked out of our appointment with the girls after cheering so loud for the entire waiting room area to hear! We were all smiles. We were going to have a little boy! The girls had a baby brother!!! 
Brett's smile says it all. That smile sums up our entire experience with Zac ... pure joy. That is what I will always remember when I think back on my pregnancy with Zac. We only knew hope and love for this treasured son. When we found out at 30 weeks that he had some sort of radical heart defect that they could not fully label at the time, faith like I have never experienced before rose in our hearts. This was a gift from God to us, because instead of grieving over perceived worst case scenario's ... God gave us heart peace through faith to enjoy every moment with Zac in my womb. Looking back at those weeks of praying and trusting for a miracle, I see now that the miracle that God did was in our hearts. Even at Zac's birth, instead of tension and fear ... our hearts were garrisoned in hope and joy. This allowed us to make every moment with him precious and a memory that will last a lifetime for Brett and I. Even the Doctors present kept saying how joyous his birth was even though they were all preparing for the worst case. That sweet little boy only saw his mommy, daddy and sisters smiling and rejoicing over him and doting on him with love unspeakable. It was only in his last moments that he felt his mommy's tears mingled with deep love falling over him as we sang and prayed over him. Even then ... peace Himself stood in the room upholding Brett and I so that Zac's passing into glory was bathed in glory. This is what a God of love does. He makes Himself present in the highs and deepest lows of our journey through life. This is the only reason why I have hope and peace in my pain, because every day He is present. That is the gift of who Jesus is. He has never been a God to stand far off to those who will call on His name. It is purely because we called on His name that we can look back over this year and see His fingerprints all over our lives as He walked us through moment by moment. Even now He adds to my perspective when I take the time to look into His eyes and bare my heart to Him. He shows me glimmers of deep joy even in the pain.
I woke up this morning wondering if our story will always be one of sadness, but as I have been typing this, perspective like a ray of hope and beauty has come shining through to me that our story with Zac is not just one of sadness and loss. It is in fact one of celebration and life. This little boy took us as a family to the deepest place we have ever walked with Jesus. One of hope and trust. He showed us how to see Jesus and the eternal hope that we have because of His love. He showed us how passionately and deeply we can love each other when our hearts are centered on the Person of Love - Jesus. My sweet little boy is teaching me that time is so precious and not to waste it, but to treasure the relationships in our lives. To move beyond hurt, anger and resentments and to love purposefully with all our hearts. Our time with Zac here on earth was far too short, but his impact continues to inspire hope and truth in our lives. This baby boy continues to draw us to Jesus where we find love and hope. I may not like how painful this walk is at times (and it is really hard), but it is certainly not in vain. Zac has taught me what comfort and compassion looks like. He has shown me how many broken hearted people there are and to tell his story so that they can also meet the only Healer of the broken hearted. Nobody can take away the pain of losing a child except for Jesus. To come in our brokenness and sit at his feet is to behold the feet of the One who was well acquainted with suffering and pain and willingly walked that road to offer us hope and heart healing and the most important gift of eternal life with Him. Faith is not always getting everything you want or looking like you have it all together. Faith is living a life surrendered in trust and allowing Jesus to help us to live in wholeness, purposefully fulfilling our destiny with amazing adventures along the way. We don't always get what we want or expect in life, but when we place our faith in Jesus Christ ... we get more. We get Love Himself willing to lead us personally through our journey here on earth into an eternity that is more beautiful than anything we could hope or dream of. 
Today I am thanking God that even though I ache so deeply for what I dreamed of sharing here on earth with Zac, I continue to receive life changing gifts from a little boy who delights in seeing his family live for eternal significance ... lives that acknowledge abundant life and joy. He wants our lives to speak of hope and life ... not just sorrow and pain. Somehow, that gives me good reason to look for things to smile over and throw my head back and laugh. It's a process of healing, but today I see that glimmer of joy more clearly and I choose to smile.
All my love as always xxx
Janine 


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14 December 2011

The God who Sees

I just read such a beautiful verse!

"Behold, the Lord's eye is upon those who fear Him (who revere and worship Him with awe), who wait for Him and hope in His mercy and loving-kindness."
Psalm 33:18
This verse speaks so deeply to my heart, because as I look back over the last few months since we first heard Zac's heart diagnosis and all the highs and lows that followed, one thing that I can say for certain is that all along I have known that His eye has been upon us as a family. As I stop to reflect today, I remember the lengths that the Lord went to, to show us His amazing attention to detail to express His love and Presence to us in every moment that we have faced. He raised up an army of believers to stand with us as a family, who encouraged us and loved us through what should have been the hardest time. Every day leading up to Zac's birth was supernaturally protected in "heart peace" because He had His eye on us, sending so many to love us and pray us through each day.
He went before us in arranging a safe place for Zac's birth, far away from home, with a team of doctors and nurses who gave us and our son the most supportive care. Looking back, I know that it was purely the favour of the Lord that we were given the time we had with Zac without him being kept away from us in the NICU all the time. It was the favour of the Lord that He never experienced pain or cardiac arrest even with such a defected heart. He simply breathed one moment and was with the Lord in the next. Not one gasping breath ... nor a trace of pain or strain on his precious little face ... all in the arms of his mommy with his daddy singing and praying over him. It is a gift I will always praise my Heavenly Father for. In that very moment, I knew His presence like I have never known before. It was the most sacred moment I have ever experienced. His eye was upon us in our hardest moment. 
After his passing, He had already arranged the most peaceful & secluded place tucked away in the mountains, looking out onto the sea as a place to grieve that first week after His passing.The fact that He orchestrated everything to take place in Cape Town was a gift to us in hindsight. For us personally, He knew that it would be too painful for us to constantly be reminded of the same landmarks etc. Our time in Cape Town was a time where I came to understand what it meant to be "hidden in the cleft of the rock". His attention to detail in this regard was like a balm to my hurting heart. 
In coming home, His compassion flooded towards us with love like I have never experienced through so many people pouring out words of comfort, meals, messages, flowers for Zac's garden, phone calls and just so many amazing other ways. A friend took me out to tea in a beautiful nursery which was a quiet and safe place for me to wander around. Others have just sat and cried with me and allowed me to talk about my sweet boy - such a precious gift to a grieving parent. All of these moments express to me that my Father's eye is upon me.
Once I got back home to P.E. His favour once again flowed over me as He made a way for my precious mom to be flown over from the U.S. to be with me in time for Zac's celebration service. Having her and my sister with me gave me strength to face one of my hardest days. His grace carried us through that day. I remember clearly looking out into the sky when we released 100 balloons to celebrate our sweet boy and sensing His eye looking upon us. A friend later sent me this picture of that moment. The first thing that struck me was the heart shaped cloud and then my husband pointed out that if you look closely at the top right of the cloud, it has the shape of an eye in it.
God is always in the details. While this may not speak to anyone else, this speaks volumes to my hubby and I. It shows us that He sees and He knows. He is with us in our journey. God does this for all who will look to Him. He delights to express His love to us in personal ways to show us His presence with us.
These last 2 days again, He has shown me once again how He sees the small details of my life and cares. I shared how blessed I was a few weeks ago when a surprise book was sent to me. It was a God-send at the perfect time. Well yesterday was another moment like that. I went looking for some roses to put in my house (for some reason it is a comfort to my heart to have living flowers in the home that makes me smile when I look at them). I couldn't find any at the shops. At the end of the afternoon my doorbell rang with a delivery from a dear friend ... an exquisite bunch of flowers.
What spoke so deeply to my heart is that these flowers (the roses and pin-cushion protea's) became my favourites to have in my garden of remembrance of Zac. This wasn't something that I had told anyone, just something I had pondered upon when walking around the nursery in the days after his passing. That the Lord is so mindful of that to place it on a friends heart to surprise me with takes my breath away. He sees and He knows. He also knows how much I love surprises. This came on a totally random day - no big milestone ... just a day of really missing my boy. My Jesus sent me flowers through a friend.
Again today He showed me His care by surprising me with another gift. A beautiful hamper of so many of my favourite goodies. Just a little surprise from another friend. 
She had handpicked things that were our favourites to go into this hamper. For me it was just another kiss from my King to show me once again that He sees and He knows. 
So much of this may seem random to some, but to me it is a clear picture of how He demonstrates His love in action. He is concerned with the little details of our hearts, because it shows us just how big His love for us really is. The God of the universe sees straight into our hearts and if we are willing to hope in His unfailing love ... we will see His eye upon us in the most unexpected and extraordinary ways.
All my love xxx
Janine

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13 December 2011

Hope for the Hurting (beautiful books & blogs that have really helped me)

I've been excited to post this for a while. Today I want to share with you some books and blogs that have been a wonderful source of encouragement to me over the last few weeks since Zac's graduation. I am so thankful for those who have had the courage to share so openly about their journey and the pearls of wisdom that God has given to them through their experiences.
A few days after Zac passed, while I was still in absolute shock and just immersed in the pain of loss, a bloggy friend told me about this book that she had read that helped her so much after her precious 3 year old daughter became a Heavenly citizen :0) It is written by the parents of a 19 year old young man who passed away suddenly in an accident. It was such an encouragement to open my eyes to a more Heavenly perspective. These parents have such a real picture of where there son is and how Josiah is fulfilling his ultimate calling. The book is called "Have Heart" by Steve & Sarah Berger. They pastor a church in the US and have such a passion to minister to those who have loved ones who have gone to their Heavenly home. One thing that really shone out for me is how they negotiated moving past the "why" into rather choosing "what are you going to do through the circumstance?". In doing so, many have come to know the heart of the Saviour. 
Another book that really helped us was reading our daughters Colton's story from the Book "Heaven is for Real" written by his dad, Todd Burpo. It became such a sweet family time for us to read it in the evenings together. All of a sudden Heaven has become so real to them. It brought such peace to watch them grasp a beautiful revelation that their little brother is very much alive and living in fullness in Heaven. We absolutely loved this book. 
On a day that I was feeling particularly low, I was surprised to find a little parcel in my post box. Oh how I LOVE surprises!!! (I was always the kid who chose the 'lucky packet' because the suspense of finding out what was hidden inside far outweighed the cheap, nasty sweets that went with the 'surprise'! hee hee). My precious friend Adeye had sent me a book that has become an absolute treasure to me. The book is called "I will carry you" by Angie Smith. Angie walked through a similar story of being told midway through her pregnancy that her precious little baby girl, Audrey Caroline, was "incompatible with life" - the worst words any parent could ever hear! She opens up completely about how her, her husband and 3 other daughters walked through this journey. God graciously gave them precious hours with Audrey before she entered glory. Angie's testimony has ministered so deeply to me. I have subsequently spent hours reading through her blog, going back to her earliest posts on how she negotiated her walk through grief. Her blog, Bring the Rain is permeated with the presence of Jesus. To any mom who has little ones in Heaven, I highly recommend her book and blog! I just LOVE her honest heart. The Lord has recently blessed them with their 5th daughter ... beautiful Charlotte (I love that name - it is my precious Granny's name). 
The most recent book I just finished reading was originally written in the 1800's by a 25 year old woman called Marietta. At the age of 25 she was caught up in a vision  which lasted for 9 days. Her body lay unconscious during those 9 days, and suddenly woke up with full function when the Lord sent her back with an urgency to record what she had witnessed. She herself, went home to be with the Lord a few months later in the very way and at the exact time that the Lord told her she would. She wrote the book just after her vision, and it has been handed down from generation to generation since, but the difficult language (having being written 150 years earlier) made it difficult to understand. A couple called Dennis & Nolene Prince were so impacted by this book which was given to them after having lost a 4 month baby, followed by a stillborn baby girl 17 months later. God used Marietta's story to bring such healing to their hearts as God graciously showed Marrietta amazing details about babies in Heaven who had died in the womb or after birth. She has a whole chapter dedicated on what the Lord showed her about babies in Heaven. They were so impacted by her book that they took 3 years to rewrite her original book into language that the everyday person can understand, keeping it as much as possible to the original text. It has been a healing balm to my heart and is a book that I will re-read time and time again. It has also given me such an eternal perspective of Heaven and Hell and a renewed passion and urgency for the lost to be found in God's love. 
Another blog that I happened to bump into (thank you Jesus) a month or so ago is written by Kirsten Petermann called "Team Ewan". Last year she and her hubby also watched her 2 week old baby boy enter Glory, after bravely enduring a heart defect. I am so grateful that she decided to write about her journey so honestly. There is so much that she has shared that I can really relate to. Her and her hubby are getting ready to welcome Ewan's little sister into this world soon. It is so precious to see the Almighty's hand of healing and restoration over their lives as a family. They are a testimony to me of how God walks closely to the broken hearted.
There are many more books and blogs that I would like to continue to share which I will save for another post soon. I do however want to give a shout out to a friend I met via my blog and facebook who has been an incredible encouragement to me. Debbi and her hubby live in Cape Town and also have a precious son, Nathan, in Heaven whom I'm quite sure has become a good friend of Zac. Her and her hubby have used their story to encourage many people who have walked this painful road of infant loss to offer hope and encouragement through their foundation called "Live in Hope Foundation". I am so blessed by their hearts of compassion. They are allowing their story to bring wholeness and hope to many others. Debbi, if you happen to read this, thank you for all the encouraging messages you have sent me this year.
Sending each of you much love today. My heart is so overwhelmed at how many of you have walked with me and encouraged us as a family this year. How I wish I could squeeze all of you into my house for a cup of tea and give each of you a HUGE big hug for the prayers, support and encouragement you have sent my way. 
All my love as always xxx
Janine

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11 December 2011

Dealing with Grief as a Christian

This week took me by surprise. It was intense and emotional in so many ways. It took me by surprise because I could not pin point why it should be such a difficult week. It just was. It's 10 weeks down the road and while I know the amazing comfort of the Lord each day leading me through ... it is none the less a journey of negotiating grief. Today I want to share openly about some of the tough aspects that I am facing as a Christian dealing with grief.
Something that pops up often lately are conversations or statements that lead me to wonder if it is wrong that I am still hurting. Someone stopped me in the shopping mall and said "So are you ok now?" with the rest of the conversation implying if we have "moved on" as a family. This is a conversation that has taken place as soon as 2 weeks from Zac's 'graduation". People are so desperate for you to "be ok". It comes from a place of their love for you to be whole, but it is awkward none the less. I do not know how to respond to a conversation like that, because honestly, no. I'm still very much hurting that I only got to love on my son for 1 day. I'm still missing him so much and having to face the rest of our family memories without him being with us. It hurts and it's hard. The premature death of a child, no matter how long you carried or knew them for is not something that you face, deal with and then move on from. The memory of that precious life is part of your heart forever. I do not ever want to move on passed my love for Zac. Although it is a very painful journey that we have walked, there are still magnificent memories that bring us great joy. Feeling sad that he left us so soon does not take away from the revelation that I have that my precious little boy is well and whole and living in fullness in Heaven, which is a great joy and comfort to me. My hurt and pain does not take away the love and trust that I have in my faithful Saviour who walked us through every moment of this hardship. It does not diminish the faith that I have in a God who is always good even when I do not understand. It simply means that I am a mommy who misses one of her children deeply and that's ok.
Some days I feel sad, because I miss my boy. That does not mean that I am depressed. I am just sad. I am simply just missing my boy. Also taking some time to pull back from what I usually used to do is part of the healing for me. It does not mean that I am never going to be as involved in things that I used to be. It's just being real with my Lord and giving Him the opportunity to restore wholeness to me before I am ready to pour out into others again. For me, it takes courage not to wear a mask or to pretend that everything is ok when I am hurting. I want to be authentic and honest in my journey. I know that my Saviour finds this pleasing - me being vulnerable with Him and allowing Him sole reign to mend the broken places. In allowing Him to work in me, I know that it is just another avenue that He can use in my life to speak hope and life to others. I want every part of my life to be a testimony to His Presence. Even the pain and the mending. I want others to see and know how close Jesus stands to the broken hearted. That nothing that we experience is in vain. 
I want to speak out about the harder aspects of grieving as a Christsian, because many have been hurt as they have grieved. I think that often times people don't know what to do with people who grieve. They don't know what to say or how to respond. This is understandable because death is so foreign to us. Many times people say hurtful things without meaning it, because they just want the grieving person to be "back to normal" because to see their pain hurts. There is also a very big fear in Christian circles that if someone experiences loss, they may loose their faith. Brett and I have found this a lot. People want to know where we stand theologically in the face of our loss. It is my experience that our journey has brought us even closer to the Lord even as we ask Him the tough questions. I experience His presence not only when in worship or reading the Word, but in this season of sitting and crying as  I expose the depths of my heart to Him. He meets me here and is perfecting my faith (Hebrews 12:2)
We are encouraged with the precious words in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that we do not grieve without hope, because there is a beautiful picture of Eternal life together in Christ. The passage ends off with the words ... "Therefore, comfort one another with these words". Our precious Jesus empathizes with all that we go through. Even though there is the beautiful bigger picture, He still understands that we hurt and long for those we have loved and had to let go of.  That is why He sends to us the Comforter to comfort us and walk us through to a place of healing and peace. "However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you (into close fellowship with you); but if I go away, I will send Him to you (to be in close fellowship with you)". (John 16:7 in the Amplified Bible). That kind of healing takes time and a precious walk with the Comforter. He is quite ok with that. It does not have to be a whirlwind. With each of us He takes the time we need and the time we offer Him to use. In the passage from 1 Thessalonians notice that Paul never said "do not grieve". He said "Do not grieve as those who have no hope". It's when our lives are taken over with a grief that refuses to be consoled and we cease to live that we loose perspective and become consumed in sorrow. This is different from being sad and missing our loved ones.
Even though it has been a tough week, it has been made so much more bearable with the love of my Comforter bringing me perspective and love in the midst of the hurt. Feeling the love of so many people around us has also helped us through this journey and will continue to.  There is beautiful hope in the journey, even though there is also sadness and pain. Acknowledging it is also acknowledging that Jesus walks us through the good and the hard times. This is what our beautiful Saviour has always promised, and He always keeps His promises.
If you are hurting today, please know that you can always write and that I would love to be praying for you too. I can testify to how prayer has carried us through each day.
Much love as always xxx
Janine

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07 December 2011

Fun with my Girls

My girls are both on holiday!!! I cannot tell you how relieved I am that the exams are all over, the girls have both passed and we have weeks of sleeping-in to look forward to! I am so proud of my beautiful daughters who have faced this year with incredible faith and courage. The fact that my eldest was able to not only face her first experience of exams, but excel at them too makes me want to fall at the feet of my faithful King and just weep. She had such a hard term last term with all the uncertainties in the pregnancy, that coming back to this term she had to work extra hard to pull through. It was such a huge faith journey for me to have to trust the Lord for wisdom in preparing her for exams and filling in the gaps where she battled last term, all whilst dealing with grief at it's rawest. Well ... this little warrior princess is a champion in my books! She really worked diligently, we prayed hard and now she is seeing how the Lord brought her through. I am so proud of her.
To celebrate, we took a walk around the Christmas shop and had fun snapping pics of our favourite decorations. (Please excuse the poor quality - taken with my phone camera).



Today I am thanking the Lord for His faithfulness and goodness. I am praising Him for faithfully walking us through each day with peace and grace. I am thanking Him that there are many precious new memories to be made each day.
Sending you all a great big hug this Wednesday xoxox
Janine



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05 December 2011

I don't quite know what to title this one???

Today has been a really hard day for me. I feel taken aback by the waves of grief. Lately I feel like I have somehow been coping and seeing perspective again, but then a day like today arrives and reminds me that I am completely heart broken. I just want the tears to pour to somehow wash the pain and longing away. It's not a pain based on hopelessness or depression, just the sheer sadness of loss. It's the reality of Zac never being able to be in my arms until I see him again in Heaven. It's the sadness of realising that we will never all be together this side of Heaven for Christmases, birthdays and special occasions. In fact, it's more the intense sadness of just not being able to share every day life here on earth as a family all together. It's the confusion of why this ever happens to anyone?! I don't like to linger on the "why's" because I know that even if I did know "why", it wouldn't change my reality. I am just so broken to have to live in waiting to all be together again. I miss my little boy and ache when I see my little girls hurting every time they see a baby wrapped in a blue blanket. I never for one moment thought that this would be our story. I long for the day when it will never ever have to be anybody else's story either.
It's day's like today where I have to choose to come and sit quietly and allow Him to soothe my heart and mind with Truth and Peace because so many other thoughts are trying to over-ride His sweet, still voice. Thoughts like ... was it something I did wrong? Was it something I didn't get right? Did I not pray enough? Should I have done something more ... something different? If only I had done this ... or that?! I know that these questions do not hold the answers nor the truth, but the guilt phase of grief is very harsh in its judgments.
Then there is the pressure of trying to focus on meeting my hubby and the girls needs. People often suggest that the loss must at least be a bit easier having 2 other children. While I do thank God wholeheartedly for the privilege of having them to raise, it does not lesson the pain of having lost another child equally loved, anticipated and treasured. It is also an immense journey of faith for me to seek God's guidance in keeping it together and still functioning as a wife and mother when trying to deal with an immensely broken heart. Grief has taught me that it is not just about negotiating your feelings ... it has a physical effect on your body too, like your ability to cope with noise, stress or concentrate in conversations. Many people battle in the area of sleep. It's a continual leaning on God to keep strengthening me to get through the use-to-be easy, routine stuff. The things that I loved doing which came so easily to me, take a lot more out of me right now. I am learning how to tackle boundaries. Sometimes that is painful for me, because not being able to do what I used to do reminds me of the kind of loss I am still walking through and screams out my failure. It's one of those moments when I have to remind myself to choose wisely to not give heed to those thoughts, but rather to listen to the voice of Truth. A friend had to remind me yesterday to not take on something that would usually be so natural for me to handle. She was right. Some things are just too painful and raw for me right now. That makes me sad because I want to be further than I am right now ... not fearing my responses to certain situations. I know it will all come with time.
I find that just being around nature is soothing to my soul, so I went to work in Zac's garden to try and clear my mind and I was comforted by the beauty blooming even in the midst of my pain. It always speaks fresh hope to me. Take a look at some of the roses which have bloomed in my garden ...  



As I pour out my heart and allow Him to comfort me today, I am reminded once again that every day holds many moments of choice. Choices to believe the Truth of His love or choices to allow  unbelief or fear to cloud my judgment. Choices to draw near to Him and allow Him into the pain to heal and soothe, or choices to pull away and brood in anger or resentment. Choices to seek out His voice, or the choice to simply retreat and pull back. I don't always get it right, but when I do lift my eyes, I see Him ever-present ... always willing to meet me at my point of need ... ready to still my heart with His love. 
I love that God allows me to be real with Him. Often times as Christians we don't give ourselves permission to be honest about our pain or disappointment. We think that to have faith is to not acknowledge any hardship or weakness. This is so much more dangerous than letting it out and wrestling with God (think about the account of Jacob wrestling with God through the night. This didn't anger God, in fact God meets him right there and allows Jacob to get right up close and personal and have it out with Him.). I also love the personality of David in the Bible, and so does God because he is the one that God declares was a man after His own heart. Reading some of his conversations with God is so refreshing in the Psalms! He rants in anger, laments in sorrow, rejoices in exuberance, cries in despair ... but in it all ... he is sharing his every emotion and thought with God. He is letting God into every one of his highs and lows. It's when we keep our disappointments or anger all locked up inside that we are in the most dangerous place, because it doesn't disappear ... it grows! Eventually there comes a day or a moment when it all explodes out.
I've come to accept that I can get real with God about my highs and lows because He can totally take it ... and mostly because He is the only One who can take me through it! So though I am acknowledging my sorrow today, by lifting my eyes, I can also see that He is bringing me through. I still feel sad and I still ache and I will not pretend otherwise ... but I also have peace to know that the bigger picture is beautiful and the essence of His presence is ever-present with us as a family in helping us to find healing. 
These are my thoughts this Monday. 
All my love xxx
Janine

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01 December 2011

My Heart about this Blog and some Crafty Fun

Over the last few months, all my posts have been about anticipating meeting my precious baby boy and then my journey of negotiating grief. As I was seeking God's wisdom with regards to the purpose of this blog, I have been met with a strong conviction to keep blogging my walk at this time. For the time being I sense His heart is for me to share openly and honestly about the experience of outliving a child, as sadly, it is something that many others have and will also go through. My prayer is that this will be a place of encouragement for anyone hurting. While I do not have all of the answers, I do believe that even in the midst of "walking through the fire", so to speak, we are called to testify and that is my greatest hearts desire. To testify to the love and person of Jesus Christ, because it is Him alone who has given us as a family the ability to endure and find "heart peace" in the storm of loss and pain because of His priceless gift of Salvation which guarantees our forever with Him.
I count myself so privileged to be written messages from so many amazing women who have also walked or are walking this path. It is such a gift to have a person share such a sacred part of their walk through life with me. I find it so healing to hear how others are walking ahead of me or alongside me. Because death is so foreign to us, most of us do not know how we are supposed to grieve or what the new "normal" is meant to look or feel like. It is also so painful to those closest to us who see our pain but cannot fix it for us. We see it written all over people's faces ... the desire to comfort but not quite knowing what to say. Some jump straight in and share everything in their hearts. Others say nothing, probably trying to spare any pain. Sometimes that's ok as you don't want everyone being weird around you and feeling like you are the constant party pooper in the room, but sometimes it also hurts. I guess the environment you are in at the time dictates what would be appropriate.
The first few weeks of having to be around lots of people was so hard for me. The feeling of being watched so closely made me want to run a mile and hide until I could wake up from what felt like a surreal nightmare. Still now when a baby is in the same room as me, I can feel sad or curious eyes on me. I find that so hard! I just want to blend in like I did before. It is that little reminder that shouts out "it's different now".
  One aspect of having a child pass on before you, is having to move forward without feeling like you are able to talk about them as much as you would like to. It's not that anyone tells you not to, it's rather this unspoken thought you wrestle, not knowing how you will make those around you feel. It catches me so often! A friendly stranger or familiar face from a coffee shop I frequent will ask me how many children I have. I never know how much to say. As soon as I tell them I have 3 children, they ask how old they are and then somehow all the rest follows while I try talk past the lump in my throat. On the one hand it is so awkward to see their shock and sadness, but on the other hand, the proud mommy in me wants the world to know that I am a mommy to 3 amazing children ... 2 daughters and a son. My heart wants the world to know that I am mommy to a little boy too even if they can't meet him. This happened so much when I first got back from Cape Town and I would brave a coffee shop (woops - I think you are beginning to see how much time I spend in coffee shops ;0). The attendants who recognized me would come rushing over to find out where my baby was. Then my tears would choke me completely and just pour down my cheeks. It felt like everywhere I went I had to tell everyone. I never thought I could cry so much. I remember being in a pharmacy having my caeser cut checked because it got inflamed. The lady asked me how my baby was to which I broke down and just ran out of that pharmacy. Poor lady probably felt awful. Thank goodness my bestie was with me. She got my tablets so I could escape to the car. Now I want to speak about my boy, but wrestle with how that will make those around me feel. I don't want everyone to be sad around me, I just want to acknowledge how much I love my boy even though I only got to know him for such a short time.   
These are some of the reasons why I want to blog through this journey. I'm trusting that as the Lord leads me through the highs and lows of my journey, that by being honest about where I am at, others might find encouragement and strength in their journey to know that they are not alone in this sea of negotiating so many new emotions and questions. It's so weird ... sometimes I cannot really talk about how I'm doing, but the words all pour out when I sit down to blog. So in taking this route, I sense this is an avenue that my Jesus is bringing healing to me.
For those of you who have followed my blog prior to all the heartache of this year - thank you for sticking with me through all the "grief" blogs. I promise you that this is not going to turn into a sad, depressing blog ;0) That's the joy of walking this road with God. He gives us renewed joy even in pain. And laugh we shall continue to do dear friends.
So to end on a COMPLETELY different note ... here are some pic's of the teachers pressies I made today. (Excuse my random wanderings today ... I'm jumping all over the place).


A dear friend came over this morning and told me that I needed to express some creativity and she patiently showed me how to make these sweet little lids. Don't look too closely ... this was my first attempt at learning how to sew!!! And a blanket stitch too!!! Super fancy for me ;0) hee hee. Thanks Di for making me do something fun.
Sending you all a great big hug from me today xoxo
Janine

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