Bull by the Horns!

I am doing well.

16 months into this journey I know I am a different person to what I was. I now feel a determination to get on with life. To take the preverbal bull by the horns, dig my heels in and live. Oops mixed metaphors! But one was not enough!

I don‘t want to think about death all the time, I get it already!! I know grief and I just don’t want to look at it anymore. I know I will still have moments; I’m not naive to that. But the doom and gloom has to end. I’m giving it immediate notice, it needs to move out, its role has ceased.

Instead, I can look to living well and begin to make decisions that bring hope for the future. I will always, always love my Paul, no question there. Indisputable.  But I think even he will be glad to gaze down from Heaven and think “Thank God woman, just get the heck on with it!” I knew him, I know how he thought. Just not sure if you can say “heck” from actual Heaven??

If something scares me I just need to do it afraid from now on. I believe strongly that God has my back, I will be OK. He is my backstop, nothing gets by Him. I also know myself and know I’ll stuff something up. I am over emotional at times, read situations more sensitively than I ought and discouragement can chase me. Maybe I should just let those things through to the Keeper.

I will take the bull by the horns, stare that sucker in the eye and bullrefuse to let him run me down. I have absolutely no idea whatsoever what the actual future holds, really none, but I am going to live it anyway.

I am going to live it well, no bull.


Honouring Paul

Sometimes grief has nowhere to go, nowhere to hide and no solace to be found. Sometimes I’m just homesick for a place I cannot go. I am not a mess in tears, I am not falling to pieces, I just have an ache. I miss him, I miss us, I miss him being dad. Every minute filled with a memory, a regret or a longing. A hundred thoughts one minute and then a single thought of holding his hand the next.

Today he is gone 15months, tomorrow is his birthday, he would have been 43, and in 4 days it’s Father’s day. A week to honour him, a week to look Heavenward and try and feel his smile shining back down. The ache has me a little stuck in my emotions, a little spent, a little not quite knowing if I’ll cope to open the floodgates again.

So in order to get my thoughts, my love, out and unstuck I will share my honour of Paul with you. 

  • I honour you my love for loving me above everyone else on the entire planet
  • For finding grace in the midst of pain
  • For loving your kids more than your own life
  • For always, always wanting the best for your family
  • For never ever calling me fat! Even when I was!
  • For working out my love language before I knew it
  • For tirelessly seeking Gods best for us all
  • For holding me
  • For being my best friend, my soul mate, my confidant
  • For convincing me two are better than one, then proving it
  • For being open, honest and real with me, even when it hurt
  • For being a spunk, more and more every year
  • For battling bravely for 18 months through pain and fear
  • For believing in me more than I do myself
  • For all the beautiful moments I cannot share here
  • For waiting, for showing purity in an impure world
  • For giving up on arguing and trying to kiss me when I was still mad
  • For being taller than me and loving my tallness
  • For believing I loved you and sharing your heart with me

And for so much more, but they are tonight’s thoughts.  I am lighter, and the ache is a little less. Honour is a good thing. Being thankful, even in the midst of loss, can free a burden, and put things right.

 He is gone from here, but honoured forever. 

Is 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you.” (Amplified Bible)


Single Parenthood – Grace in the Desert


I realize single parents have to do all the tasks; laundry, cleaning, shopping, endless running around after kids etc. But it’s not always those things that are the hardest. Of course sometimes the actual doing of these things is exhausting beyond belief but when rest finally finds you, recovery follows.

I am a widowed single parent. Something hard to understand until you’ve faced it personally, when you’re forced to stare in the face of circumstances and make them part of your life. Your own life, not someone else’s, not a movie you can watch and leave behind in the cinema, but yours. This is hard for me, I know I am a single parent logically, but in my heart I still find it hard to accept. All the responsibilities land on me, no one else, no Dad somewhere else, no consultation about anything. I have focused hard on coming to terms with my widowhood, and focused on trying to heal, but being a single mum adds another dimension.

The hardest part about being a single parent for me is not having a partner. Sounds obvious right? What that means to me is that there is no one else on the face of this earth that has the same vested interest, unconditional love, or do-whatever-it-takes energy towards my family as I do. No one to come alongside when I have had enough, no one that chooses not to just come and go in the kids’ lives as they please, because parents, well good parents, no matter the circumstances are always there for their kids. So when two becomes one there is just less and that just seems so unfair for the kids. That becomes part of the kids “loss” and the control freak in me just can’t handle not being able to change that.

For arguments sake let’s say shared parenting is about 50/50. Now that I’m on my own, can I possibly become the 100% they need? I really don’t believe I can. My reality is that I became about 75%, give or take. Your normal 50 + everything extra you try to cover. But try as I might I can never be male, never be their Dad, never be all they need; I come up short, and very tired! So two things come to mind about figuring this out. Firstly I just need to accept the reality, it is what it is so for goodness sake I should take the pressure of myself and quit trying to be everything. Secondly, I have faith in God and He will need to help me accept the first thing and I need to trust Him to be there tangibly for my kids.

I have come to believe that Gods love for my kids is endless, fearless and pursuing. Even if they can’t see that yet. From the time they were but a twinkle in His eye He has loved them unconditionally and without hesitation, and will continue to do so forevermore. Gods position on that love does not move if they doubt or make a mistake, His desire is relationship with them not retribution, He is fearless. God is a pursuer, He never gives up on people, instead He waits for them to choose Him. He never forces, He actively waits, endlessly offering love, acceptance and grace.

When all seems hopeless, dry deserts, lost loves, battles lost, God offers us love, grace and repair. That’s one amazing Dad. Even if I tried my hardest every single minute of every single day I could not offer what He can, I can never ever be enough, it’s His design. I will believe in that design and hope my actions follow suit. I will trust that He is enough for my kids, enough for me; He is Father to the fatherless.

This is the way God put it:
“They found grace out in the desert,
these people who survived the killing.
Israel, out looking for a place to rest,
met God out looking for them!”
God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will.
Expect love, love, and more love!
And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again,
dear virgin Israel.
You’ll resume your singing,
grabbing tambourines and joining the dance.
You’ll go back to your old work of planting vineyards
on the Samaritan hillsides,
And sit back and enjoy the fruit—
oh, how you’ll enjoy those harvests!
The time’s coming when watchmen will call out
from the hilltops of Ephraim:
‘On your feet! Let’s go to Zion,
go to meet our God!’”
Jeremiah 31:2-6 (The Message Bible)


I am scared to live fully and abundantly.  What if I lose again? What if I am never the apple of someone’s eye again? What if no one else on this whole planet ever cares, really cares, if I am theirs? What if I love again and am not loved back. What if I can never again lend the strength of my heart to another just to see them smile back at me? What if I compare too much and kill something before it even gets a chance to breathe? What if I never feel the touch, the heartbeat, the breath of another again? What if all this is true? What then?

Love found after love lost must be an amazing thing. Quite a gift. I wander if the wrapping, the complications of the past, adds to the gift? Layers and layers of intricacies that add to how special that gift could be. The very things that once broke our heart becoming the things that binds together. Or is it just romantic fodder? I don’t know. I think about this sometimes and conclude that it would be easier to shut my heart down, never feel bad again, but I would never feel good again either. I have felt a whisper in my heart of late “Keep your heart open” over and over. I am trying, but an open heart can be a target for pain, rejection and disappointment, and I’m not sure how much courage I have left.

I’m so tired. It takes so much energy to keep going, to keep trying to find the joy in things. It’s worthwhile, but it can become tiring. I’m sure God would have me quit trying, and just be in order to stop worrying about all the “what ifs” I cannot control. To do that requires some contentment in current circumstances. Further acceptance of my lot, that’s the real dilemma. Current worries versus a new level of accepting my widowhood. What a choice! I know the latter is the only pathway to peace, it just really sucks, but it’s my new challenge and I’ll try.

I guess I should be grateful really, not everyone experiences love like I did. We could fight like there was no tomorrow (mostly because I’m a bit fiery), but my Paul loved me deeply, that’s what I miss. No one on this earth loves me like that. Everyone’s different, every relationship different, but today I miss being the apple of my Pauls eye. I miss being his best friend, his closest everything. I don’t know if it’s possible to have anything like that again, but if I did, it would be the greatest gift.


2012 Janene camera 541 - Copy


Moving Forward


Moving Forward

Wow, I can hardly believe I am writing those words. But my world is different now. Never will my life be the same, but it will be OK.

“One Fit Widow” describes the process as moving forward as opposed to moving on, I like that. (http://onefitwidow.com/marrying-a-widow/). I am not forgetting the man I shared 22 years with or moving on from who we were together, that would be impossible. I am however, choosing to have a future that he is not a physical part of. For me, that isn’t easy.

For me it has been a hard slog of facing pain head on, staring its ugliness straight in the face and demanding it give me some life back.  To shift my Paul into a new, his own, room in my heart has been a very emotional journey. To accept his disease, his death, to feel abandoned by those same things, to feel I may have caused or contributed in some way to the cancer, maybe I could have done more, been more, tried harder, given my actual life for his…to accept these things was necessary. To face each one and come to some kind of conclusion in order to put things in place and be able to move on was crucial for me. Otherwise it’s like having a set of hurdles in my heart. Every time I came to one, it seemed insurmountable and stopped me in my tracks. Unable to move forward, path blocked, journey halted. So I had to dismantle the guilt and the grief. One misconception at a time, one solid guilt melting truth at a time. I had to clear the path of hurdles and begin to run again.

It’s not just about finding new love; I can’t control that, although I hope I am not alone forever. Its kids, work, church, social life, recreation; the way I do everything has had to change. I am a single parent who as to negotiate how to do these things now. No backups, just me.  I found that extremely scary at first, but I’m getting there and it’s OK.

To rediscover who I am on my own is important too. I have begun to see things solely through my own eyes again. Grateful for the person my Paul helped me to be, and for the love he gave me and his kids, but I have to make my own choices now, grow up and take all the responsibility. I really did like being married, that part is hard. Seasons can be hard.

Seasons, now that’s something. In the past week I have seen the same passage of scripture come at me from very unusual sources. School newsletters, emails, Facebook to name a few (because I forget the others!!) so I’m taking that as a sign and moving forward. I will accept that it’s OK for the seasons to change; it’s OK to move forward.

Never will my life be the same, but it will be OK.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 The Message

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

Don’t Cry Over Spilt Firewood!!

chopping-block-ax-split-wood-19414737Of course it’s “spilt milk” but I am fine at the mum type kitchen things, it’s the firewood that can bring me undone. It’s all that Mr fix-it stuff that my Mr Fix-it used to do, sure sometimes nagging was involved, but he did it. So now, with no Mr Fix-it and doggone it no one to nag (kids don’t count they seem to be able to block you out), I can just look at it, and be cold, or take a deep breath and get the heck on with it.

Wielding an axe overhead with such precision and accuracy I chopped those suckers into firewood that could burn itself…anyone believe me??? Anyone? Well it’s chopped, no actual injuries to speak of, and pretty it isn’t. But it fits in the fire place and it will burn. Most importantly though I didn’t actually cry. Nearly, but no tears, not a one. Maybe a little “what the hell happened to my life that took my wood chopper away?” type thought, but I did it.

This is new territory for sure, not quite sure what to call it, but its progress.

I don’t make any wild assumptions that I won’t succumb to fits of inadequacy in the future, but today I am OK. Today is all I have.

Decisions need to be made, things need to be fixed and like it or not life goes on, partner or not! So for today I will man up and do what needs to be done. Femininity intact, I will just have to do it my way.

But I won’t cry over the firewood.

Life and Other Sadness

I lost a friend this week, a beautiful lady, mum, wife, sister, and woman.  So much sadness. She was young; she has 2 gorgeous girls and family that are aching for her.  I get it. I know the sadness, I know that ache, the yearning for it not to be true, the disbelief, loss is hard.

When I heard the news I felt my heart resist, turn off, I didn’t want to feel the sadness, not again. But I have learnt something this week, I don’t need to be afraid of sadness, it won’t kill me, I can live this life, it won’t be the same, but it will be OK.

It means risk to keep my heart open; an open heart can be crushed so easily, to close it off makes more sense. To hide behind excuses of “well I need to protect my heart after such grief” or “it’s just not in my personality” may hold some truth but will only cause my heart walls to harden. It will shut out any potential for pure life that I have, so I won’t do that.

Life dishes up sadness sometimes. It also offers joy and love. God offers me the ultimate choice between life and death. He encourages me to choose life. It occurs to me that so much extreme sadness drains said life and erodes away the ability to choose. So many lives are cut short because there doesn’t seem like a choice exists anymore, there seems like only one way out…such a tragic illness.

So today I choose life, sadness and all. I will not be afraid of sadness, I will embrace it as part of my journey, part of the fabric of who I am knowing that God holds me close, whether in joy or sadness. Yesterday, today and forever I can count on that.

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