About Me

My photo
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 (15) and Angelee (12) 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. 3 years ago our faithful Great Restorer graciously blessed us once again with another son ... our beloved Gabriel ... a ray of sunshine in all our lives! "Love in Action" is our journey as a family to love the way Jesus is teaching us to love and live.

Blog Archive

30 March 2012

My most heartfelt post about the purpose of Zac's life.

Hello darling boy.
Well today is your 6 months anniversary and I have been looking forward to writing this letter to you. It is a very significant letter from mommy and daddy, coming to terms with where you are and where we are. As your mommy and daddy, we never get tired of talking about you and remembering every little detail of each moment that Father God gave us with you. It is our joy to share your story with others and tell what an amazing gift you have been to each of us. So here I am one again, a proud mommy, looking back at my very handsome little boy. Each photo makes me smile. Boyzie, you really are such a little cutie. Oh-so-serious with such wise little eyes. What wise things you have to teach us little love.
(That was your first peep at mommy. Melted my heart!) 
 (Daddy's favourite photo of his heart-peace baby boy.)
(Just too darling for words!)
As mommy and daddy are finding acceptance and peace in your story, Father God is teaching us that what was too-short a time frame for us, He will enlarge and expand. For the first time today, mommy found the words to explain to your little sisters, who miss you so much, just how special and important God's calling on your life has been. It may have been short, but it is radically impacting lives even today. When the pain threatens to be all too much, I let the Lord remind me of something the doctor told us the day before we drove home from Cape Town.
Dr. G. is a highly respected Doctor who is given the opportunity to lecture gynaecologists and is referred to deliver complex pregnancies. He was God picked for your delivery. At conferences where serious heart defects are explored, doctors are most often taught to highly recommend abortion to the parents. (Your PE doctor also told us about this). It is their understanding that this will save the parents so much pain, stress and exorbitant costs, especially as in a case as severe as what your heart was, where they all collaborated and expressed that no surgery would be able to save your life. Well my boy, this precious doctor sat across from us with tears in his eyes when we gave him a photo of you and expressed our thanks to him for being such a special part of our journey. He looked at your photo surrounded by your family and told us something that unveiled to us the impact of your life. He told us that whenever he would have to lecture other gynaecologists about heart defect cases, or walk alongside other parents with severe cases where the infant is expected to die, he would show your picture. He said he would tell of how precious your life was and how much love and joy was experienced even though it was only 22 hours. The whole team at your birth saw and experienced it.  He said that what he had seen over your birth and death had showed him how very worth it your life had been, no matter how short the time was. It was nothing short of sacred and special. In fact, I still hear from  your precious nicu nurse who cared for you right until the end. You forever touched her heart too. My boy,  they all saw in that hospital how much love and joy was poured out because of the gift of your life. So sweet boy, if your mission was to impact a doctors heart who will now encourage other  doctors and parents to take the risk to go full term and in the process be forever changed by the precious children God has entrusted them with, then my boy, your mission was so well fulfilled. You demonstrated that what God gives is absolutely life-bearing and heart-changing, even in death. The truth is that you are still leaving an impact.
You have the privilege of seeing it all now in full. On this side, we are still learning. Thank you precious love for being as brave as you were to give us each hour that you did. We are so much richer for it. When I look in your eyes, I see how you had your eyes already fixed on Jesus. He sustained you long enough to allow us to lavish you with all our love. I know that your heart knows full well how much we delight in you. On this 6 month milestone I am choosing to fix my eyes on my beautiful Jesus, just as you do, and draw my strength from Him and to praise Him for entrusting us with your life and story. My boy, your family is healing and allowing Jesus to fire up our hearts to make as big a difference with our long lives as you did with your short life.
This Mommy ...
This proud Daddy ...
And your beautiful big sisters ...
are forever thankful that we get to call you "son" and "brother". We rejoice that you are forever a part of our story and our lives. You have changed us for the better in so many ways. Today we are rejoicing over the gift of your beautiful life lived so well! We love you will all our hearts. Instead of tears, today there is a fire burning deep within us. A passion to love and live significant lives for the One who gives such good gifts. You are one of those good gifts my boy. We are forever thankful.
All our love,
Mommy and Daddy

29 March 2012

Sucker punched!

I had one of those profound moments today in the middle of doing some month end reports. I was plugging away at my reports, whilst listening to the girls in the background. Tianna (my eldest) was helping Angelee do some homework worksheets. (How I got the girls to do homework in the holidays is another story all together ;0) - hee hee). I was so struck by how encouraging and patient she was with her little sister. She would sweetly explain what to do when her little sis got stuck and she kept cheering her on every time she got something right. There was no irritation or frustration. They were actually having so much fun together doing homework?! Shocking, right! My heart swelled with mama pride at the new light I saw my big girl in. She has such a beautiful way of teaching little children. Then a thought sucker punched me. I used to be like that when I was a child, but somewhere along the line of growing up and becoming a responsible, busy adult I learned how to worry. I learned how to loose the sweetness of a fun-filled moment by becoming irritable or frustrated. My eyes opened to how tired I become because of the pace of my life at times. I rush around the kids doing so much "stuff" as a homemaker. Homework isn't always fun for me. As I listened to how easily Angelee was responding to her big sisters praise, patience and encouragement I realised how sweet this time should and could be. How had I learned how to worry and stress so much? It is actually a thief! A sweet-memory-making thief!
No wonder Jesus spoke so strongly against worry. How many verses in the Bible talk about worry, anxiety and fear? There are so many! All of a sudden it hit home for me today. Worry steals from you and tries to change who you are. It steals the simple joys out of so many sweet memories that could be made, because we become so busy stressing about the "cares of this world". I am so thankful that God is so committed to molding and shaping my life and for revealing areas of continual growth for me to still bloom and blossom in. I love the ways that He reveals truth to my heart ... so often through my precious children.
Thank you Tianna (my "little bear") for helping mommy see today that in worrying about the small stuff, I am most probably going to be missing out on a darn good memory! Your patient and playful example showed me what Jesus meant when He said "Be anxious for nothing ...". There are such sweet and beautiful memories waiting to be made even in our every day living at home and I for one am going to keep choosing and learning how not to let worry steal from me anymore.
All my love xxx
Janine 

28 March 2012

Allowing Him to Redeem (an account of where my heart is 6 months later)

Mommy, if you are reading this (and I know you are) I am writing this while munching red big korn bites :0) Just thought I would let you know that, coz I know it would make you smile ;0)
Okay, that was a total side note, but random as per my random personality - hee hee. (Besides - anything to make my mama smile). :0) Now on to today's post.
Lately, I hear from or talk to many people who themselves are negotiating grief. It always touches my heart deeply to hear from others who have or are experiencing the journey of loss. It has become a big part of my journey to share my heart about our life with and since Zac's "graduation" and it means so much to me when others share their stories with me too. We learn and draw strength from one another, even if our stories are different. This is also a big reason why I continue to choose to journal through the range of different emotions I tackle in this healing process. A big part of grief is the fact that it is so foreign to us! I have come to learn that we all grieve differently, but in it all we can't escape the different phases that grief will take us through. Talking about it helps us to realise we are "normal" and not alone. The more conversations I have these days, the more I see how many hurting people there are out there. Everybody has a story. Everybody has negotiated highs and lows. As always, I want this to be a place where people can draw encouragement, no matter how dark the storm looks in their life. Going through the storm, even when it turns out worse than you ever dreamed can still turn to reveal a bright new dawn. Of course when you are negotiating the intense pain of loss and disappointment you could never imagine how things could possibly ever get better, but if you are willing to take the depth of your pain and aches to the One who is renowned for walking on water in storms, there will come a moment when  all of a sudden you will look up and see that you are past the worst and looking into something beautiful that reveals redemption. This doesn't mean that you aren't going to hurt anymore. I think it needs to be said often that grief isn't about "getting over" somebody or something significant you have lost. As a believer, your heart will always rejoice to know that the one you love is in absolute glory, but your humanity will ache the separation for while you have to wait for that grand day of reunion. It's okay to admit to the pain of that missing. It continually amazes me how we expect people to move on so fast. There is so much in loss to negotiate. To rush through it will never allow you to heal completely. That pain will resurface. If you are hurting and have felt compelled to "move on", I really want to encourage you to take the time that you need to allow the Lord to help you to work through your pain. He is not afraid of your "whys", but while you ask him those tough questions, allow Him the opportunity to comfort and soothe your heart. We don't always hear what we want to hear, but I recon that's because some things are just too big for us to possibly contain or understand. Reading the last 5 chapters of Job in the Amplified Bible this morning really soothed my heart today to hear what God had to say after all Job and his friends had tried to reason out from the previous 37 chapters in trying to understand God. It was beautiful for me to see how God unveiled just a glimpse of His awesomeness to Job, and then goes on to reveal that ancient enemy the devil, only to draw him back to a moment of heart truth and then radical redemption. I think I am going to re read these 5 chapters over and over for a while. There is so much in there to comfort a hurting heart. He gives Job a glimpse of perspective of His magnitude so huge that Job could barely take it all in. I love then how God looks at his so-called "wise" friend and corrects him so sternly for not representing Him well in his counsel to Job. A lesson well learned to all of us to never think we have got all figured out!
Back to my previous thoughts (shew I'm telling you, this grief brain takes me all over the place! Oh for the day when I can concentrate again!!!) I wrote all the above and am unveiling where my heart & mind is today to somehow speak hope to any hurting heart today. No pat sayings can ease the pain of a hurting heart.To be absolutely honest, in those first 3 months after Zac passed, anytime somebody told me that my baby was safely in the arms of Jesus ... or when someone would say how the angels or other loved ones who have passed before us were all doting on him would be so painful for me. I knew he was there safely, but quite frankly, I wanted him in my aching arms. My heart rejoiced for him being with the Lord, but my soul ached with a pain beyond words. Everything in my heart, body and soul wanted to be with my child. When people would pray that God would turn everything for the good, my walls would go up. I could not ever imagine how dawn could possibly rise again in the midst of such deep pain. But day by day He has given our family grace to come through each day. It may feel like one tiny shard at a time that He is re-piecing, but every day His healing continues. He has walked through every emotion with me. Every bit of sadness. Every bit of anger. Every bit of confusion. Every bit of  despair and He has loved me. He has loved me deeply in every one of those moments. That is the hope that I want to convey to you today. The God of perfect love reaches out and meets us at every turn in the road. In fact, that same loving God carries us when we just can't take another step. He sends precious ones to wipe away our tears, or even better - to cry and laugh with us. He speaks a word of hope at key moments in our journey and He gives a peace when there shouldn't be any. This is the hope I want to share today.
This Friday will be 6 months. I can tell you with full confidence that He is negotiating every bit of the pain with me and allowing me to glimpse the beauty of dawn. Some days are way harder than others, but there is ALWAYS grace for each moment. I wish with all my heart that I was raising Zac, but in it all, God's love has held me so close. I have never been closer to His heartbeat than these 8 months since we first discovered  Zac's heart-peace story. My friend Amy, who also has a darling little girl growing up in Heaven with Zac, has often expressed to me how with this tremendous pain comes a gift of His presence that is more magnificent than any words could describe. She too has encountered His love at her greatest hour of heart break. She too has allowed Him to piece her heart back together. What a joy and reassurance to see people allowing the Great I Am to redeem the lost and broken things within.  
So friend, whatever you are feeling today or working through, be honest with Him through it all and allow Him to redeem. He can redeem the hardest moments of our lives into something that reflects life, beauty and hope. He is doing this day by day in my life, through all the tears and all ;0) If He can do it for me, He will surely do it in and for you too.  
All my love xxx
Janine

27 March 2012

Remembering Granny

Today would have been my precious Granny's 90th birthday. She made it just past her 89th birthday so this is her first birthday in Heaven. Now that's a thought! I can just imagine the music that she is surely dancing to even as  type this. That's my Granny - always part of the fun wherever it's happening. She LOVED dancing! Now she gets to dance without any inhibitions or restrictions in her body. Her zest for life and her love for people always spoke to my heart. Granny prayed for more people than we as her family will ever know. I remember so many nights falling asleep hearing her praying over her family before she would fall asleep. Even when she was at the worst of her pain towards the end, I would hear her praying in her room for her family. She was an intercessor. Now she prays with the saint in Heaven with a strong, healthy body and is cheering us on from those great big heavenly grandstands. She had a naughty little sparkle in her eye that often made me laugh. And her sweet tooth!!! Because of her I always have a stash of sweeties in my handbag - just the way she always had :0)


Ahhh my Granny, I miss you. You were fesity, generous, humorous and loving all wrapped up in one. I can't wait to see your garden in Heaven one day my Gran. You always had the greenest fingers around. Thank goodness you passed that on to mommy who is teaching me and Niqui. I know I don't even have to ask you today to give my Zacie a big cuddle. I'm sure you are in his heavenly nursery all the time ;0) Funny how you waited sooooo long for your first great grandson. Zac was the first little baby boy our side of the family and he is the one you get to watch growing up! Amazing. Makes me smile to know that he has all his great grandparents up there doting on him. I think I might just haul out my scrabble board and try play a game with the girls in your honour. I hope we get our spelling right! You were always a great stickler for correct spelling. After all, you did learn your dictionary off by heart! (I will never understand that one my Gran! Seriously?! How many hours of your life that must have taken up. You make me smile).
So my sweet Granny ... know that you are in our hearts today as we remember the sweet fragrance of a life lived well. You continue to inspire me. I'm asking Jesus to give you a birthday kiss straight from my heart.
All my love,
Nini xxx

23 March 2012

Choosing Him

This morning as I rise up I am choosing joy. I am choosing to look into the face of the One who always speaks words of love, encouragement and truth. He is my hope and my refuge. He is the surety beneath my feet. He brings laughter and joy. He whispers words of assurance. It doesn't matter what else rages around me, when I lift my eyes to Him, I am reminded that He is greater! He is the Almighty. The Great I Am and He is bigger than anything else. He is love. He is peace and He places Himself in my world everyday. He has walked me through every high and low of my life and today is no exception. He faithfully reaches out in love to walk me through another day. Today has all the opportunity to be a good day, because He is in it with me. 
My Jesus, this is my little "thank you" to you for always being so present.
Love you ALWAYS xxx
Janine

21 March 2012

It's just one of those days

I found some photo's yesterday of some of my favourite things that I had for Zac. It brought so many memories back to me.
The outfit that I packed for him to come home from the hospital in.
The softest blankets that made me smile because they were clearly made for my little boy.
My favourite outfits chosen with love from my mom and sis when they were together in the US just as we found out about Zac's heart.
And the cutest socks and booties - all stuff that made his daddy, mommy and sisters delight at the reality of having a little boy added to our family.
When I look at these pictures, so many emotions flood my heart. Incredible loss of so much love that we wanted to lavish on this treasured little boy, but also joy when I remember how fully we anticipated and prepared for his presence in our family. Brett and I often catch ourselves saying how surreal it all really is. Our little Zac was always meant to be part of our family. We just never imagined that it would be such a short time span here on earth. My heart has found amazing peace knowing that he has not been stolen from me but awaits all of us to love him fully in heaven, but oh the missing while we wait!
At the end of this month it will be 6 months since our last cuddle and the truth for this mommy is that I will never stop missing this sweet treasured boy. He captured each of our hearts so completely. I am thankful for the joy, tenderness and love that the Lord so graciously gives us daily which lessens the sting of death, but the missing will always be a part of my walk. While we are definitely healing and we are stronger, our walk will always be different. I'm ok with that. I don't ever want to be a pretender. Grief hurts and it changes you - but that change isn't always for the worse. The change Zac brought to us was beautiful. He opened our hearts to love even deeper. I'm ok with the fact that I have changed. I certainly never want grief to define my life or love for Zac, but I also do have a different walk now. My eyes see life through different eyes. I anticipate the reality of Heaven in my every day living much more now than ever.
The things that still hurt are funny little things like, I only have a certain number of pictures of this precious son to look through. It is also a bitter sweet experience every time I part with many of the things that we bought or were given for him. Sad to let go, but precious to see someone getting to enjoy the blessings. It's what Zac would want. As I continue to negotiate the pain of loss, over and over the Father reminds me that it is well with my little one! He is growing and thriving and is eagerly learning much about his little family as he cheers us on from that great cloud of witnesses. What a precious thought. Still hurts though.
I write all my thoughts here about my journey through grieving not to make anybody feel sad, or sorry for me, but to share my heart with any other hurting person who may also be negotiating a loss or grief. It also is very much my reality. It is part of my life story. I am a mommy to 2 living little girls and also a little boy who lives now as a heavenly citizen and I miss him, and I also love being able to talk about him. While others don't get to see his reality in our lives, he is very much alive in our hearts and lives. It is important for me to be able to talk about him and share his story. His life is a beautiful story that has shaped us in many ways. Part of this story is sharing how closely Jesus walks us through pain and into joy. I have to be able to share the pain and the joy. They are intermingled. This walk is a long road. In society we don't want people to hurt. We want them to be able to "move on" because we love them and because we don't know what to do with or how to fix their pain. I am learning through my  journey that the Lord certainly helps us to move forward, but he doesn't expect us to forget or pretend that it doesn't hurt. He understands the pain of loss and is willing to walk us through it for the long haul. Being allowed to be honest about our good and our bad days enables far more healing. Being honest about the pain of loss is important. Something significant in your life has been forever changed. Making peace with this change is a process. Acknowledging and facing that pain leads to healing.
This is such a jumbled up post of so many different thoughts, but this is just a very real look at what a grieving mommy's heart looks like on certain days. I miss my little boy.
(Zac's first peep at the world)
It's just one of those days. If you are having one too, know that I am saying a prayer for your heart too today. There is One who knows how to hold you through each disappointment or loss you have encountered and He has a word of hope to place in your heart today. Today, for me, that word is that it's ok. Even on one of "those days", it's going to be ok. Knowing that allows me to open up my heart to cry any tears I want to cry and also to laugh at any old silly thing that tickles my heart too! Hope you know that too ... it's going to be ok!
All my love as always xxx
Janine 


19 March 2012

Makeover Monday with Mom

I just got to have my precious Mommy Darling spend a week with us in our home. Because she has been living in Virginia for the last 6 years, every visit is such a treasure! Once again, our time together was so full of beautiful memories. Times to chat and laugh and share hearts. How I love and appreciate the softness, love, generosity, joy and kindness that always shines through her. I am blessed to call her my mom and continue to learn so much from her generous heart and ways. Thanks for the precious memories this last week my Mommy Darling. You are always in my heart.
xxx


Before her stay, we have been hard at work giving the living areas a much needed makeover. As you will see in so many of my older pics, my lounge and dining room were done out in bright yellow and orange! Back in the day when we were first newly wed we thought this was so cool. 14 years later, we have been going crazy gazing into these bright walls! So hubby and I put our heads together to give our lounge, dining room and entrance hall a more elegant and "grown up" look. We've gone for earthy neutrals. I was so silly ... in all the excitement to finally repaint the walls, I forgot to take a "before shot". Maybe it's a good thing - thinking back on those old walls makes me giggle at our crazy brains! Funny how our tastes change hey ;0)
So here is precious mom and me and a few snaps of the new makeover. (It makes me smile to see her beautiful face in my make-over pics. Such a lovely memory). We still have curtains and blinds to hang and pictures to place on the walls, but I could not let another Monday pass without showing you the changes. Here goes ...
My beautiful Mommy Darling hanging out with me on the couch.
Let me tell you those green walls took me hours to paint! They are so high!!! It was good therapy for me though and I am loving the soothing factor of the green. Those walls are just begging for some family photo's now.
This is the view from the dining room into the lounge. The colour is actually a beautiful soft beach sand look (the same colour of the bay windows in the background). Don't quite know why it looks greyish in the photo? It is such a calm space now (used to be bright orange!!! What were we thinking?!) My Dad blessed us with the lovely dining room table and chairs a few years back. Such a blessing to have a piece of him in my home too. He lives quite a far way from me, so it's my every day little reminder of him in my home.
Even our Mr. Cosmo finds the lounge relaxing now ;0)
We followed the same soft colour through to the entrance hall and used the same cladding in the lounge on the back wall of the entrance hall. I just love it!
A close up of my handsome hubby, precious Mommy Darling and our new cladding.
As soon as the photos and curtains are up, I will repost again. What a joy and blessing to see our home evolving into a peaceful sanctuary. I truly am blessed and content.
BIG hugs and lots of love xxx
Janine

02 March 2012

A Treasured Keepsake

This week marked 5 months since we last cuddled our sweet boy. It kind of hit home hard this week. We just miss him so much. What touches my heart so deeply is how the Lord always knows the condition of our hearts and goes before us. On Zac's 5 month anniversary I arrived at the bible study group that I run in floods of tears. It was just one of those days where the tears came no matter what. The girls didn't know that it was the 5 month anniversary, yet the Lord used them to cheer me up in such a precious way. They had organized the most beautiful bouquet of flowers to surprise me with that day. Their love was such a soothing balm to my hurting heart and the fact that the Lord knew how I would feel on this anniversary and prompted them to buy me flowers was like a tender kiss from Jesus straight to my tender heart. 
Since then a feel like I have turned another corner. Yesterday, Brett, the girls and I flew to Joburg to be with my family for the weekend. My precious niece is turning 13. What makes it even more exciting is that my mom also flew in from the US yesterday! It was a big surprise for the birthday girl and for me to be with all my family again is so special. She also came baring a whole lot of gifts!!! Shew!!! Each of us have been soooo spoilt!!! In amongst all these surprises and belated birthday presents for me was a very special keepsake from my precious hubby. We had it made in the US by a company called "The Vintage Pearl". Take a look ...
It is SO SPECIAL to me, because it is so important to me that when people ask about my children, that they know that I am mommy to 3 amazingly precious children. My mom taught me years ago that the number 5 represents "grace" and to receive this gift on the 5th anniversary of Zac's birth and graduation means more to me than words can say, because it is my constant reminder that with God's grace our hearts are healing and joy will bloom. I can't help but smile. My God makes everything beautiful in its time. 
I write it so often on this blog, only because it is such a huge reality in my life, but once again I want to remind you that God sees and knows exactly where you are at and stands in the center of your world, reaching out to minister to your heart today. For me it was a bunch of flowers and a very special necklace on an important day to me. For you it will be specific to what He knows speaks to your heart. May you have eyes to see the immense ways that He wants to encourage and minister to your heart today. I am sending you so much love, even as my heart has received so much love this week.
All my love xxx
Janine