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 December 2012

Happy New Year

Just sending out lots of love as you get ready to greet 2013! May you look ahead with expectation of God's goodness, grace and favour to greet you in your daily walk through this New Year ahead. Receive all the love He has in His heart for you daily as you take on each day with purpose. Sending you all so much love!
Love Janine xxx

20 December 2012

Christmas 'Love-in-Action'

Lately a certain word keeps popping up in conversations when we discuss our current generation. That word is "entitlement". I don't know if it is relevant to every nation, but we are certainly seeing that in our youth in this Country. There is a sense of "the world owes me". Many of the moms I chat to recognize the same pressures with their kids at school. Our children expect so much stuff so much of the time! Things we waited for until we were in our 20's, most kids feel entitled to. I remember how normal it was to only really expect special presents on special occasions. My parents always showed and told us how much they loved us and loved to surprise us with new clothes and gifts every now and then ... but we certainly never needed gifts to show us just how loved we were. These days, every outing to the shop ends with "Please can I have ... ". Obviously this stands out more at Christmas time. The expectation is just rediculous. I still laughed the other day as my children wrote out their lists to Santa (Yip! They still absolutely love the whole idea of Santa, even though they know the whole story). I walked in half way through their lists. Without even reading them I mentioned "You do know that 'Santa' only gives toys and books etc ... NOT cellphones or laptops." With that, I noticed BOTH my girls crossing out certain parts of their lists. Did I mention my girls are 11 and 8! When we talked it over, they mentioned how EVERYBODY in their classes have cellphones and laptops of their own. A slight exaggeration, but yet true for many kids their age.  While it's up to each parent to decide when their child is ready for the responsibility that comes with that technology, for right now we are quite happy to share our computers and phones with our kids as we guide them how to use it safely. It just weighs in on my heart how much our kids in general feel entitled to and expect. As my girls are growing older, I find myself needing God's wisdom more and more. They do live in a different world than my hubby and I grew up in, yet certain values and character is formed in teaching them to wait for certain privileges. It's a delicate balance for sure.
So with all that playing on my mind, today we had the opportunity without words and lectures to show our daughters just how blessed they are. (I don't know about you other mommies ... but I have to reign myself in not to lecture my kids!!! Yikes! That's an area I'm trying to grow in.) A friend of ours organized a morning to bless the children from an orphanage in our area. In our African culture, more so than the opening of toys or gifts, the new clothes that they get to wear on Christmas Day is one of the biggest highlights, and even better is the gift of being able to choose for themselves what they would like to wear. With this in mind, these special friends of ours organize each year to take these precious children out just before Christmas to meet at a shopping centre and walk around with a chaperone to shop with them for the clothes of their choice to a certain amount of money and then share a meal where they get to choose for themselves at a restaurant what they would like to eat or drink. To most of our kids, this is just a normal "given" in our culture, but this is a rare gift to many other children who are always given second hand clothing or already-provided food options at their Christmas parties. To see the joy and appreciation on their faces is enough to change your perspective for life. What blessed me the most was to see my daughters THRIVE in showing love-in-action to the precious little lady that was entrusted into our care for the morning. Without any prepping, my youngest daughter slipped her hand into this little girls hand and off the three of them pranced through the shopping mall.
My eldest helped her find the right sizes for all the things she liked. It came so naturally to them to love her and receive her as a special new friend. There was such a natural ease and love shared between them, despite their different cultures or upbringing. They simply "got each other" as little girls and the banter between them really touched my heart deeply. This is something I love about my country. We truly are a rainbow nation where our different colours simply makes us shine brighter when we come together as the equals that we are.
After a successful shopping mission we all sat down to an early lunch. What an impact it made on my daughters to see for themselves that not everyone has the privilege to eat out all the time. I think it really hit home that just the opportunity to choose what they would like to order is in fact a privilege! Watching my girls play with their new friend and experience for themselves God's love-in-action is a heart lesson they will hopefully never forget. It never required any lectures or speeches. Love always brings change when it has been demonstrated from a pure heart. Today I'm not too sure who was blessed more. Those precious children who went home with bags of new clothes and shoes or us who had our hearts changed with fresh perspective of gratitude. As the Bible teaches ... it truly is "more blessed to give than to receive."
As a family we are deeply impacted by how the simplicity of just a little bit of time given to somebody else in need can fill and bless our own hearts and remind us of all the many things we can be so thankful for. This little girl has blessed our hearts SO MUCH today. 
All my love xxx

18 December 2012

Different thoughts on different things

I am trying to get a little more consistent with my updates. Even posting once a week is a good come back after all the busyness ;0) Being on holiday makes it so much easier.
Since my last post, last week we had our 32 week scan and our sweet boy is doing so very well. Doc is very happy with how my body is holding Mr. Gabe. No signs of early labour ... thank you Jesus! This truly is just another testimony to an Almighty God! Both my girls came prematurely (35 weeks and 33 weeks), but Zac amazed our doctors by coming near the end of my 37th week, so we are believing the same for our Gabriel. With those facts at hand, and me having to have a cesarean, my doctor has booked the date for Gabe's birth on the 24th January. We are very excited! Just 5 weeks and 2 days to go till we meet this little cutie pie. Just look at that adorable little face! I am so in love with this little guy. He keeps us giggling with all his busy antics. He LOVES it when his daddy speaks to him. Dad always gets a big kick in his face when he talks to his boy ;0) (Cute for now only hey Mr. Gabe!). It has been such a joy for me to see Brett and the girls delighting in this little man. I love how my hubby has so enjoyed the pregnancy. As much as he cannot wait to meet and hold Gabriel, he is so enjoying feeling all his responses in my womb. I continue to stand amazed at how special God has blessed this pregnancy to be. He has restored so much in our hearts and continues to heal our aches and loss with each new day.  
I can hardly believe that this time next week we will all be celebrating Christmas. My heart has been so tender for all the family members negotiating their first Christmas without their sweet children. The horror of the news of such a senseless shooting in Connecticut weighs in on all our hearts right now. I have also met some precious moms and dad's this year who have lost babies and children over the last year and my heart aches for all the milestones that they are grieving over and negotiating. This time last year for us was so very painful. I have always LOVED Christmas, but having to face that first Christmas without one of your children is so very painful. Yet here we stand as a family, a year and 3 months later and can honestly encourage from a place of deep certainty that God is faithful to grace any family through the deepest of loss. No it is not an easy path. Yes the ache of missing always lingers ... but His grace provides the ability to negotiate each new day with an unveiling hope. Some days are harder than others, but Brett and I still look at each other stunned by what we have walked through as a family, realising that God has brought us through something that could have destroyed us and yet we still stand with hope and increasing joy in our hearts. We have a deep love and respect for each other and our children and we hold on tighter to each other as a family because of Zac's forever-impact on our lives. Keeping and growing an eternal perspective has brought us this far. We have learned to see the treasures even in loss. This is one of my prayers for any parent or family member negotiating Christmas with the weight of loss bearing down on them ... that they would feel the true comfort of the Living God who sees, understands and is able to hold them close through every tear they shed. He will walk the entire journey with you. Every single step for as long as it takes. I know this for certain, because not for one moment has He ever left us alone to negotiate our loss. There have been many moments when He has been silent, but even in His silence He has been present with an outpouring of grace and love. 
On a totally different note now ... I would like to congratulate my parents-in-grace for a legacy of 42 years of marriage. They are a beautiful example of what a wonderful marriage can look like! They are forever on an adventure of some sort ... always encouraging and helping other families through their ministry Family Transformation ... and I love that 42 years later they are still laughing and cuddling and reminding us why marriage is so special. Mom and dad ... we love you and are so blessed by your amazing example.
Until my next post ... have a terrific Tuesday and enjoy your precious family this week running up to Christmas. Even with some of us having family far away ... there are so many special ways to show how much we care and appreciate each other. (Missing you mom ... can't wait to see you in a few more weeks!). 
Sending you all lots of love. 
Janine xxx

11 December 2012

Baking Fun with my Girls

I am so overjoyed to have the girls on school holidays, I could just do a happy dance right now!!! I love having them home around me (and being able to sleep in a little later!). It's been a big year with our sweet Angelee having completed her first grade in "big school" as well as our little bear really finding her feet in grade 5. Both my girls were premature at birth, so they have had to work extra hard in their schooling with extra OT and speech therapy lessons, so to read their reports yesterday has made this mommy's heart so proud of them. They don't have to earn top marks to impress me. It's their amazing attitude to be consistent in their hard work and positive attitudes that blesses me the most. Just seeing them find their feet and thrive in school is such a joy to my heart. 
So we decided to kick off the first week of holidays with a lazy day at home. The girls were in their pj's till almost 12pm and then it was time for a little baking. We decided on test trying my early-Christmas-pressie from hubby ... a dual food processor and baking machine. We found a Jamie Oliver orange zest, pecan topped chocolate brownie recipe and got stuck in! The house smelled amazing! And hubby got to come home for lunch to a yummy desert suprise.

Nothing like seeing those chocolaty baking smudges all over their faces and clothes after baking! You can never be too old to lick the baking bowl you know ;0) 
Today we are taking the girls with us to our 32 week scan. I can't wait to see how much this little guy has grown. I am so loving every minute of this slower pace!
I will keep you posted. Have a lovely lazy day if possible ... and if you HAVE TO work ... find a moment to have a lovely cuppa-something-yummy (with maybe a slice of something delicious) and just simply breathe in and out. You deserve a moment to yourself!
All my love xxx

08 December 2012

31 week baby bump, a baby shower & the heart of the Great Restorer!

I am 31 weeks preggy and in 7 more Fridays, our sweet Gabriel will be born! We could not be more excited!!!! I can't help but imagine what he is going to look like? Will he look a bit like his big brother or sisters? One thing is for sure ... this little one is STRONG and loves nothing better than to break some serious moves in his mommy's tummy. He is constantly stretching out and making his presence known. My whole bump changes shape constantly with his daily exercise routines :0) So much so that I catch people laughing at me watching from across the room! hee hee :) He is such a little entertainer already - constantly making his mom and dad giggle! Out of all 4 babies, I've never felt such strong moves! Someone recently wrote to me and shared that this is probably another one God's amazing ways to reassure my heart that this little boy is healthy and strong. Hubby joked the other day that maybe we should have named him Samson!!! But this little one is already living up to his name. Gabriel means "strong man of God" and strong he certainly is! Here's some pics of the growing belly. 3 weeks ago he was weighing 1.3kg's. I can't wait for my scan next week to see how much growing he has done.
2 weeks ago my beautiful big sis from Jozi arrived for the weekend. In the arvie we went over to visit my brother and sis-in-grace (our family doesn't have any 'in or out-laws' - hee hee). I arrived to a room filled with the beautiful friendly faces of so many precious friends. A few of my specials went to so much effort to arrange a precious baby shower to surprise me! I cannot tell you how loved I felt. Here are a few pics of this special day. (Some of the pics were taken on my cell phone, so please excuse the picture quality).
 I just LOVED the "boy oh boy" signs my sis-in-grace lovingly made for me. I have to find a spot to hang them in his room.
 Oh so yummy treats with the "Gabe cake" made with love from Granny. "Gab" said in stars "God's angel baby" :0) 
 Just look at these gorgeous cupcakes made by a precious friend!
 I can't tell you how much I am loving all the blue!!!
Did I mention how yummy they were :0) They even match my little bear's eyes ;0)
 My beautiful sister who always makes every effort to be at every meaningful moment in my life. I am one blessed little sis. She brought along the most beautiful card and pressies from my precious Mommy Darling who is coming out to meet her little "prince" super soon! HAPPY DANCE!!!!
(For some weird reason this photo WILL NOT cooperate, but I had to show you the stash of all my blessings! Just look how blessed I was!).
My beautiful Leelee, precious mom-in-grace and sweet niece Caylah
Something I have to add in here is to share God's amazing faithfulness. I made a promise to the Lord to always declare His goodness. Despite what we went through in our journey of loving and having to release our precious Zac, God continues to extend His amazing love to redeem even the most painful memories. While the ache still pushes through, God's grace is always so tangible to hold us close and redeem. I share this because God knows how to truly bring healing. Unbeknown to those who planned my baby shower, they did not realise that the very Saturday they picked for this special day, would be another redeemed memory for me. This specific Saturday I was 29 weeks pregnant. The very Saturday that I went for the foetal scan that revealed Zac's heart defects was the Saturday that I was 29 weeks pregnant. That Saturday began a journey that would change our lives forever. As the Lord highlighted this to me, I quietly felt Him whisper to my heart how He is able to replace such pain with renewed hope and joy. Only God. And let me remind you that He is no respecter of persons. He loves us all this deeply. My testimony will always be to anyone who finds their way onto this blog that He is able to redeem anything that you have gone through. The deepest of pain, disappointment and shame. His love and grace is steady and strong and ALWAYS walks the entire journey with us. It is my prayer today that you will find tangible encouragement in this. 
Back to my continued blessings ... we are finally getting stuck into setting out Gabe's little room. It's still a work in process, so I will only be able to post pics in January. I am excited to say that it has a blue wall :0) Something BIG to this mommy of all things pink for so long ;0) This week I washed all the precious presies I received. Take a look at these darling gifts of love lavished on our son!
 We are doing a jungle themed room for our little brave adventurer, so I was so blessed to be given so many jungle looking things. 
 I just LOVE all the bright happy colours for this child of laughter and joy. 
 How sweet is that lion and Dr. Seuss jumper!!!
 Surf shorts just like daddy ;0)
 LOVE this!!! And this mommy is head over heels in love with her baby Gabe. He makes me smile <3
OK ... I think I have pictured-you-out enough for one day. Thanks for all the love and support that always comes through from so many of you. It is such a delight for us to share our great joy with you after so many of you walked through our greatest heartache and have prayed and loved us so deeply. May your heart be uplifted and encouraged to visibly see the mighty hand of the Great Restorer. 
All my love as always,
Jan xxx