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

31 January 2012

Dear Zac ... How is it going Up There?

Dear Zac,
4 months my little love. Exactly 4 months since you gazed into mommy's eyes and then Heaven engulfed you. While I never want to re-live the intense pain and shock of having to let you go, I so wish I could be back in the moment with you looking into my eyes. It was the most sacred moment I have ever experienced. One moment you were looking deep into my heart and the next you were looking into the eyes of Jesus. Somewhere in my heart I knew Father God was giving me a gift in that moment -  a last look to treasure till our eyes lock onto each other again in Heaven. These are the gifts that come only through great pain. There is such a Holy presence of God when we are given the opportunity of seeing someone we love step into eternity with Jesus. Just allowing myself to think back to those moments brings so many emotions that I have no words to express. You know in full and see with even greater clarity than I will for a long time still to come. You now see everything through God's perspective. That gives me strength as I work through the hard moments and allow myself to remember our time together. Today I need to look back on that day. There is healing in facing my pain and choosing to see the gifts. That day will always be the most intense moments of my life, weighted with the very presence of God bearing witness to such a sacred moment. This is the hope that we have in Christ alone. With the floods of pain, comes the very person and essence of Grace to hold and guide us through the deep waters of grief. Somehow He doesn't allow those waters to overcome us. He carries us through. My boy, that is the only way that mommy can handle the grief and longing. It is by letting go and allowing Jesus to carry me, your daddy and little sisters.
My heart tells me that you smile when Jesus tells you how we are doing. You know that we are going to come through. I don't always know how that is possible, but my heart assures me of that truth when I hurt the most. (Sometimes I am convinced we swapped hearts that day - it sure feels like half my heart disappeared the day I kissed you goodbye). But, you and I both know that Jesus is so faithful in tending to our hearts with love and truth to assure us of where you are and that the very reminder of your life points us to Him and urges us to point others to the One who holds you securely in His arms. The same God who gave you a whole heart in Heaven is healing our hearts here on earth. Because of you a story is being told about the faithfulness of a loving God who tends to the broken hearted. That will always be our story to tell, because Jesus has used your very presence in our lives to teach us many deep truths about His love. It is our priceless treasure to have you as our son. The scars we carry in our hearts are a beautiful reminder of a God with whom nothing is impossible. He is the mender of all brokenness. We wear these scars with honor, because when we see what only God could possibly piece back together, we see His fingerprints all over our lives.  
While I know that we are in a process of healing, I also have to tell you how much we ache for you. Grief is hard my boy, and I am glad that you have been spared of ever having to face it. My missing you is a constant reminder to see the privilege of every moment raising your sisters. It's not always easy trying to see clearly through grief. Some days are really hard on all of us. Grief makes us emotional (Oh my word! You must be so proud of how your daddy handles all 3 of us emotional girls!). Sometimes I feel overwhelmed having to learn how to guide your sisters through their pain and still help them cope with school and growing up, when I myself am trying to see through the fog of pain. Again - His grace meets me. Again, your presence has changed forever the way I now parent. Walking into a room I have just cleaned to discover it covered in blankets, pillows and almost everything else your sisters could possibly make a fort out of is now OK. In fact - its a prized memory. Before I would have been frustrated with more work to do. Now I see the gift of a childhood memory that I can witness being lived out in front of me. Your sisters will give you high fives for making mommy lighten up over the small stuff ;0)
Today I am wondering what songs are being sung to you in your Heavenly nursery. I'm sure the singing would take my breathe away. I know you are swaddled in Divine love and that Jesus is faithfully passing on all those kisses mommy keeps sending your way.  
Daddy is busy reading bedtime stories to your sisters. I wonder if Jesus sometimes lets you peek in? That makes me smile. Mommy better go kiss those girls goodnight. I love you my sweet boy.
Love mommy xxx

28 January 2012

A "Living Boquet"

I walked outside to tend to my beautiful rose garden and look at this beautiful outpouring of love from my Heavenly Father.
12 beautiful white roses all off one main stem. I love this rose bush. It's my "Antique Silk" rosebush and it reminds me of the purity of my sweet little boy. In the first few weeks of grieving  I was so heart-broken at the thought of being robbed of spending a lifetime on this earth with my little love. Then, in His gentle grace God slowly began to show me some of Zac's amazing treasures, one of the biggest being that he has been privileged that he will never have to taste the repercussions of sin in his life. He was born into a room filled with love and met by the person of Love Himself who sustained him long enough to fill his heart with our love, and more so, to allow our hearts to soak up all of his sweetness before it was time to live in his Heavenly home. He has and always will know the purity of a life unstained by sin or regret. What a privilege and a beautiful reminder to me as I now live my life, to choose God daily. To choose to live a life of no regrets. To choose to daily accept His gift of grace and righteousness. This little boy of mine continues to teach his mommy so much about Jesus. He gets to be held by Christ Himself , and the same arms that hold him and coo over him as a little baby in Heaven are the same arms that enfold and soothe my heart with such tenderness. Those are the same hands causing beauty to grow around me, offering me a "living bouquet" in my garden just to whisper - "I love you".
I know that there are many hurting people that read this blog. Maybe when you look at these flowers it will represent something different to you, but in it, may you see the arms of such a loving Jesus offering you His living outpouring of love, tenderness and encouragement as He whispers to your heart today the words that all of us need to hear over and over again ... "I love you". While we all have to choose daily to receive the gift of His righteousness, maybe this bouquet is your reminder that though you may see all your faults or failures ... when He looks at you, He sees you pure and beautiful through His grace ... just like these beautiful white roses. He sees grace and beauty when He looks at you. 
These beautiful 12 roses feels like a love gift given to soothe my heart with a special "Jesus Kiss". May you feel that kiss on your heart today in every flower you see.
All my love xxx

25 January 2012

Favourite Quotes

Two quotes I read lately that I love:

"Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message."
Malcolm Muggeridge

Keep your eyes and ears open today for little ways that God may be speaking to you. For me this week, it was through a flock of mixed birds landing on my lawn to feed. I have a big old tree that hangs over my gate and every afternoon at around 6:30 the sounds from that tree come alive. I have been gazing out on that big old tree for weeks wondering which shy but noisy little creatures are living in there. Then on Monday, unexpectedly as I was sitting on the porch chatting on the phone all these mixed little birds flew out from under that tree and settled in to feast on the bread crumbs I had scattered earlier in the day. They splashed in the bird bath that we faithfully fill, yet have never yet seen a bird make use of and these little birds put on the most beautiful show for me as I sat there with tears threatening to pour once again, taking in the simple wonder of having God treat me to one of my wanderings and heart's desire. He said so much to my heart in that precious moment. 

Here's the next quote:

"Life is an empty canvas. Others may colour or shade it, but God's hand holds the brush that paints the picture of your life."

No matter what you are negotiating today, I want to encourage you that there is a Master Creator painting the most beautiful picture. While you may not be able to see it yet, one day you will stand back in wonder at the beauty revealed.

All my love,
Janine xxx

24 January 2012

When the tears roll down ...

I am constantly amazed at what a roller coaster ride grief is. Today has been a strong day. I woke up early to have an invigorating walk on the beach with friends. By 8:30 I was booked in for a deluxe pedicure from a friend. So fun to have bright pink toenails ;0) I came home and lay on a garden chair outside soaking up some Summer sunshine and started reading a beautiful book by Max Lucado that I am LOVING ... it's called "Facing your Giants". Seriously ... that man has the most beautiful gift in expression. His words paint such vivid pictures which make God's truths so real and understandable. 
I had a good afternoon with the girls doing homework, playing games and ending off with a precious devotional reading together. Now tonight as my little girls are tucked into bed and my hubby is relaxing, I sit here in my rocking chair in what should have been Zac's room and I feel drawn to close my eyes and imagine what it would be like to have my little boy in my arms as I rock him to sleep. The missing is so strong tonight. I just want to sit here and remember every tiny detail about my precious son. I want to imagine how much he has grown and how his little features have developed. It hurts to have to wait to see how he has blossomed in Heaven. 
I kept some of my special little outfits and blankets that were lovingly chosen for this precious little boy that we had so longed for. I want to pull them all out and hold them just to remember, but to look at them will  make the pain worse today. It breaks my heart that I won't ever be able to take any photo's of him wearing those sweet outfits. I remember the giddiness that I felt when I picked out so many of those precious little things, just beside myself that we were having another little darling. I had no idea how much this little boy would change each of our hearts forever. We fell head over heels in love with him from the day that we found out I was pregnant. This time last year I was just about to find out that I was pregnant. I would do anything to go back in time and have those precious months carrying him all over again, just to feel him and know his closeness again. We knew such joy. Now to not have him with us now just feels so wrong. It's an emptiness that I could never describe. I ache over the wrongness of it all. 
When we were told in Cape Town that Zac did have a serious heart defect and that they weren't sure anything could be done for him, I remember flying home on the airplane with tears streaming down my face imagining myself sitting in this rocking chair with no baby to take home. I remember vividly choosing in that moment to choose life and heart peace. I did not want my little boy to absorb anything but peace, faith, hope and love coming from his mommy and daddy. Now I sit here in this chair and absorb the reality of the picture that played through my mind that day. It is now my reality and now is our time to cry and grieve for the loss of the dearest little boy that we would have done anything to have the privilege to raise. I have no regrets for the way we believed and guarded our hearts during the remainder of our pregnancy. It allowed us to love even deeper and it gave our Zac the gift of seeing that he was nothing but our greatest joy and delight as his mom, dad and sisters. I so wish it had all turned out differently. I just have to keep drawing on the fact that he now lives in the most abundant life and love and a day will come when we will share in that with him.
So for tonight, I am going to let the tears pour. I am going to remember everything I can about my sweet boy and then I am going to allow the grace filled comfort of my Loving Saviour to wrap around my heart and give me renewed strength to face another day tomorrow to tackle all the highs and lows that will come with it. I know that He is redeeming and restoring and also that it is a process of healing.
Forever carried by His grace,

21 January 2012

Wearing my Heart on my Sleeve

I haven't really been in a blogging head space lately. I have so many feelings, but few words to put it all into. There are no pictures today and quite honestly, I don't even know what is going to come out as I write. That's kind of how I write. I put my fingers to the keyboard and wait to see what comes out. I've come to accept that I am actually quite a "let's just jump into the deep end and I'm sure I'll figure out how to swim" kinda-gal - at least with writing that is. That's how I roll peeps, so if you are brave enough to read on, I'm impressed by your courage ;0)
On a whole, there a lot more really good days these days. That in itself seems like a huge miracle to me, because almost 4 months ago I never thought I would ever be able to feel anything but intense missing, longing and pain. Mixed into the good days are often moments though, that bring me back to the stark reminder of life in the here-and-now without my little boy in my arms. Those moments never cease to take me by surprise. It's like I never see them coming. They aren't necessarily big things. In fact, it's usually quite the opposite. For me, it is the small random things ... the look on one of my children's faces when we walk past a tiny baby. They go from totally happy to sad without a word needing to be said. I get how they feel, because I often feel the same way. This week, I had a few of those moments. A big one for me was having to fill out an information form for each of my girls for their class teachers. I have filled out this same form every year for the last 5 years, but this time it sucker-punched me. Each questionnaire had an ordinary question that completely stymied me. The question: "how many children do you have" and their placement "eldest, youngest or .....................".  I totally did not know what to write, without having to write an essay to explain. Do I write "2" simply because the school will only ever meet 2 of my children or do I write 3, because that is my reality, but then if I write 3 how do I place Angelee? She isn't my youngest anymore, yet in life here on earth she is. See what I mean!!! So complicated!!! It takes me back to the place of having to work through my feelings of loss over and over again. 
Walking through the shops this week a lady walked behind me and suddenly called out, "Zac". I froze and turned on instinct as if expecting to find my little boy, and then reality hit me as I watched this stranger reaching out to her little boy called Zac. It took all of me to not crumple to the floor and sob my eyes out, but I had my girls with me and thankfully they hadn't heard or seen the exchange. 
I am coming to accept that grief is complicated and tricky. It's unpredictable and not always within your control. How you  respond to it is, but it's one of those things that you can't always be prepared for how you are going to feel. You think you are in one place one day, and then you realise that you have so many more twists and turns in the road to negotiate. Quite frankly, it's a big stinker!!!!!!!! I may have found a quiet acceptance over Zac's story, but I will never like it as long as I live on this round, green little place called earth. Quite frankly, it just makes me determined to live my life more invested in making each of my days count for something bigger than the mundane, mingled together with a real longing for Heaven too. I could never understand Paul's statement that to live is Christ, but to die is gain. I always kind of felt a little scared of moving on from earth and all I know and love, but now I look at life here on earth with a much greater heavenly perspective. I want the way I live here to have lasting impact in my eternity with Christ, the way my little boy has. That pull within my heart urges me to grieve honestly, but not to be swallowed up in the pain. That, dear friends is a moment by moment choice because the temptation to stay overwhelmed by grief is so very strong some days. 
In many areas I can sense that I have navigated another bend in the journey and the road is a little lighter in some ways. I can finally read articles about working through grief with kids without falling to pieces emotionally. It still breaks my heart that my darling girls have had to walk this road. I can only handle reading books and articles lightly at my own pace (with the help and insight of an amazing child psychologist - you know who you are and you know how much I love you - hugs xoxox). Having to read everything that different people suggest to me is just too overwhelming. God knows what I can absorb as I work through all of this. I do sense His amazing healing and comfort all the time. There is not a day that goes by where I do not feel Him present and attending the hearts of my family. I finally 'get' / understand the blessing in mourning when Jesus says "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted". The blessing is that God Himself comforts us in a way that no book, words etc ever could. He is so sensitive and tender with our hearts and always intentional in showing His comfort so personally to each person as an individual. I find it quite interesting to see how each of us grieve differently and at different stages as a family and yet His comfort meets each of us where we are at. Only the Lord could have revealed the "blessing" within mourning to me. If anybody else had of quoted me that verse in the first stages of grief, I would not have been able to grasp it yet and it would have just added to the hurt. I was too raw and the pain too intense to accept that there could be any kind of blessing at all in the pain of loosing a child. All I wanted was my little boy. Not any promise like "God works all things for the good. This was obviously for the best, somehow. Just wait and see." Both Brett and I have both had many conversations with people along those lines and it took a lot to graciously hold back and see it from the heart that it was intended which was to comfort. We get that it is really awkward to know what to say to grieving parents, but a gentle insight here is that truths like these can only be revealed from the Lord, for only He can see the heart of a hurting parent and knows when ones heart can actually bare those promises without the searing pain. I am slowly beginning to glimpse some of those truths, but it is still bittersweet. As a mother it will never "feel" like all things have worked together for my good in this regard, but my heart trusts my Father with this journey we are walking. Faith isn't about how we "feel". I've come to see that Jesus can handle my outbursts as I negotiate my feelings. These outbursts don't push Him away from  me. In fact, as I tackle them with Him, He is drawing me closer and closer because He knows my heart and trust in Him. To any hurting person reading this, know that you can be completely real with your emotions with God as you work through your pain. I have come to see that the cost has been very great, but His grace is still greater and that is what I open my heart to every single day. His grace is what carries me. 
Ok, for a post that began with I only have "few words", ummmm, I think maybe I just found about a thousand or so more to express my heart ;0) Seriously, if you have read all this without skim reading you deserve a medal!!!!! hee hee
Oohh, and I just found a picture for this post from Google images.
I guess it's destined to be called "wearing my heart on my sleeve". My hubby can never get why I live so openly through this blog. I guess it's because I'd rather be honest than live life wearing a mask. I'm a work in progress in the Potters hands. By living in the truth, flaws and all - it's a slap in the devils face to remind him that he has no claim on me or the pain I have encountered. The Potter is patiently working out my flaws! One day He alone will get all the victory! Yay Jesus!!! My heart is so much for us daughters of God to lower our masks and show the beauty of being molded more and more into His image. Another post for another time. 
To those of you who actually read this stuff (it seriously amazes me that anyone would want to read any of this stuff I write) thank you for sticking with me through this journey. I have had the precious opportunity of meeting some of you, and so many of you have been such a great encouragement to me. To those of you that I have never met and yet you write and share your heart with me ... you will never know how much it has meant to me.
Today, as always, I am sending you all my love!!!!!
Janine xxx

13 January 2012

Walking in the Rain

Posts have been on the quieter side as I took a break from my emails and blogging with my family here for Christmas and New Year. I have so many beautiful pictures of a precious time together. Thankfully my sis was on the ball during our holiday, so you can check them out at her blog if you like. I guarantee that you will be blessed by her encouraging posts. (Hey - she's the best big sis ever, so I'm allowed to brag - hee hee). I also have to do a post soon about tackling my very first sewing project on the last day of holiday with my sis. Watch this space. 
This week has been all about settling back into family routine. Brett started back at work (I miss him!!!! But, we did sneak out to lunch before fetching the girls from school - oh how I love those "stolen moments". It keeps us feeling like newly weds (almost 15 years later). My big girl has slotted so well into her new grade 5 class and it blesses me to see her excited about the grade ahead. It has also been quite peaceful for me to watch my Leelee enter grade 1. I thought I might find it hard to let go, but I am just too aware that she is ready for this. It's her time to grow! I on the other side need to stop growing (if you know what I mean ;0) ... one too many choccies after supper throughout the holiday plus the extra pregnancy kilo's) so I made a exercise comeback. I walked into the gym only to discover that things change in a year ;0) Seriously ... it had a total overhaul!!! I felt quite lost! I eventually found the pool and have loved just easing this body back to a gentle pace of health and energy. Living by the coast is a blessing that sometimes I have taken too lightly. Not this Summer though! I am choosing to really embrace the joy of a life lived in Christ. Those joys come from keeping your eye's open for opportunities to grow, laugh and live in freedom. A dear friend had the guts to start walking with me while I was preggy last year and also when I came back broken. She has allowed me the grace to talk while we walk at slow and fast paces depending on my state of mind. We walked the beachfront yesterday and loved it so much that we came back this morning ... IN THE RAIN! I cannot tell you how blissful it was to walk in the gentle rain. It was so delightful and refreshing (thanks Ronche ... you are a hard core exercise buddy, come rain or shine. Mwah)!
It's been a good week venturing back into everyday-life as I find my new pace. I am all too aware at how quickly "stuff" can fill up my week before I have done the things that really matter for my heart and soul. So here is a really arb post just to say ... next time you feel like the everyday hum-drum is getting you stressed - go find a friend to take a walk in the rain with and simply laugh!!! It's such a great way to lift your heart in so many ways.
Sending you all my love,
Janine xxx

11 January 2012

Watching her bloom

Today was a big day for our family. We watched our little girl all of a sudden grow up in front of our eyes and enter big school with such peace and confidence. Our little Angelee is finally at big school with her protective big sis!
On the way to school ...
Talk about Daddy's little mini-me. I just LOVE this pic!
And I am also so jolly proud of my big girl for taking this photo for us. A photographer in the making!
Today my heart is rejoicing that I am given the privilege of watching these two beautiful daughters of ours bloom. My heart rejoices at the thought of what adventures lie in store for us as a family this year. Our precious Zac is our constant reminder to live each day finding the reason to celebrate. I am going to sleep with a smile on my face having watched my little girl rise to the occasion and tackle her first day so bravely. Well done my Leelee! 
All my love xxx

01 January 2012

Beauty Awaits

There is something so gracious about the start of a new year. It always feels like a clear slate. An opportunity for new beginnings. Sometimes it's the chance to start all over again, or maybe it is the moment of finally choosing to leave the past in the past and walking into the blessings of what 'now' entails. While it is a letting go, it is also an embracing of the beauty that awaits. For me, this year, it's the treasure of knowing that there is purpose and destiny of incredible adventures and memories to be explored in the days ahead. This is my little "Happy New Year" to you as you enter 2012. There is untold beauty to discover in Him this year as you do what you were made to do ... to walk with the One who has destiny written over each of our days. I am walking into this year with heart peace and beautiful expectancy, because I walk into this year with my King. I walk into this year with a deep sense of thanksgiving for the family that He has entrusted to me and also with a far greater appreciation for the opportunity to love deeply each day. 
All my love and prayers for blessing to you in your journeys of "love in action" this year. There are beautiful stories in the making for each of us.
All my Love
Janine xxx