Tag Archives: love

A Wonderful Life

After cancer, after death, after a bottomless pit of grief, it really can be a wonderful life.

I have been silent for a while because my life has shifted again. This time for better. I laugh, I love, I work, I play and really truly live.

At 43 I thought my life was done, I knew I would continue to breathe in and out and keep moving through my existence, but I really thought that was it. My partner had died, my kids dad was gone, I was alone, scared, and sad.

So what caused the change?

For the first 8 months I was a train wreck. Pure and simple. It was just hard, I survived hour to hour, day to day. Then I had to face the reality, he wasn’t coming back, I really was in this alone. Kids grow up and move on, as they should, and in a few short years it would be me and the cat. So I had to ask myself the big questions, face the reality head on and get help.

The big questions were answerless. No answer to why my husband died of cancer and the rat bag down the road gets to live forever. No answer to what my life would look like now. No answer to why I felt picked on by God and why He decided to destroy my family. But I had to move forward regardless. Answers or not. I decided to let the questions go. To stop demanding “why” because it was draining me of life. That’s not what Paul would have wanted. I chose to step into a new world and trust that God knew my footsteps before I took them. And you know what? He did.

Beyond that I stopped shutting the world out and began once again to accept love and friendship around me. From my kids, family, friends, and a church family that demanded nothing of me but encouraged me endlessly to bask in grace and believe solidly that God who truly loved me offered new mercies daily. I believe my faith grew up a lot. Now I just know that I know He loves and cares for me. Despite circumstances. My reciprocation of that love is not always without doubt or fear, but it’s there.

I desperately needed comrades for the journey, and I usually needed them in the middle of the night. So I looked online for women, brave women, who had lost and had begun to live again. Their stories, their inspiration, and even their sadness helped me. I was done with pity, I needed real grit and real guts, these women had it.  I wasn’t alone in this; others survived this wreck, so maybe I could too. Some practical sites that helped in some very, very, very dark moments were as follows.

http://www.onefitwidow.com/

http://www.widowschristianplace.com/

http://www.secondfirsts.com/

https://anewseason.net/

Sometimes just reading helped, but through these sites I found new friends from all over the world and we pushed each other along. I am forever grateful.

There is one more reason for happiness, one more joy in my life that is new. I felt a whisper deep inside to keep my heart open and to believe that I could once more experience the greatest gift one person can give another… love. The odds weren’t good. Then 44, 3 kids, and a whole lot of complication to offer, I didn’t like my chances. But God doesn’t gamble, it was all there in His plan, a man that loves me and I love him. Not a secondary kind of love, not someone else’s leftovers, but a man I daydream about, can’t wait to be with and have to pinch myself sometimes to remember it’s all true. I feel adored, honoured, and embraced. I really thought those days were over, it is the greatest gift I could ever receive. He is wonderful and I love him deeply.

Of course I still have moments and ache because my kids lost a good dad, but I also know that goodness and life are true things and not just theoretical concepts. Life can turn around, hearts can heal and love can be felt again.

It really, truly is a wonderful life.

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A New Pair of Shoes

new shoes

Girls like shoes. Girls like new shoes…and clothes and well you know everything!

I am a girl and I like them too, but I don’t like shopping. That’s a dilemma. You can’t get new if you don’t go out to get new. (Yes I know you can shop online but that doesn’t fit the analogy…just go with it).

Recently I have lost weight, no not from grief, that’s how I gained most of it, I ate my feelings. Over and over, there were a lot of feelings! I was frumpy, unfit and unhappy. I made a very conscious decision to change all that and am glad to say its’ working. So I have a pile of fat clothes and a dwindling amount of things that actually fit properly. But I hate shopping.

So I can stay in my fat clothes, or make the effort to get new ones.   I face a few of these dilemmas nowadays.   Buying new clothes is not a big dilemma but what I sell and what I keep, do I move house, what church I attend now, how do I parent alone…all have been big questions for me, but they are all figured out the same way. By asking myself “what is the best thing in order to keep moving forward. “

The fact is I need a whole new wardrobe. My clothes had to change to a new size, a no-more-husband-size, its different now. But my shoes still fit, my feet didn’t get fat! So do I need new shoes too?

New clothes need new shoes to match. A new life needs a new attitude. The old things just don’t match anymore. It’s not the same. I cannot move forward holding onto the past. Is my husband only in my past, no! He will forever occupy a room in my heart; he will forever be my kids’ dad and if there is ever anyone new to love in my life they will need to accept that. But my life is different now. If I keep looking backwards I can’t see where I am going, I trip and I fall.

I need to look to happiness, to love, to life, to a future. I need new things that fit my new life.

I need new shoes to match the outfit.

“No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. And you don’t put your wine in cracked bottles.” Mat 9:17 (The Message)


Single Parenthood – Grace in the Desert

                                                   hand-pouring-sand

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)


Scared

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

 


My Cup Overflows

2 years and 7 months I have waited for this. To truly feel once again that my cup does indeed overflow. Full to overflowing, running over with honest to goodness love. It’s been a long time.

I used to muse to myself of the goodness, the love, and the absolute blessing I felt just being wife and mum to beautiful people. Ordinary people to the untrained eye, but with my well-honed mumma skills it was clear: they were beautiful indeed.

Then the tragedy.

Cancer stole my love.

My cup was empty.

My cup was broken.

Now to hear my children’s laughter, and have it warm my heart, to hear them talking to me, really talking to me and be able to engage, to once again find joy in simple things is beyond priceless. It’s pure gold.

My cup must be mending.

All the tears, all the determined searching for answers, all the willingness to face the pain head on, has done something. It has begun healing my cup, my heart. I cannot say that I have willed it from my own strength, because I had none, or discovered hidden reasons, because there are none. It was the God of all creation, who made the cup, who made my heart, He knew what it needed when it needed it and healing is the result.

I am sure that my grief is not completely over, because my life isn’t over, and for as long as I live I will hold love in my heart for my Paul. But I feel love and joy again, and I know that I know that’s a good sign. I can once again be full of love and blessing. Nothing grand so far, nothing the papers will write about, but I know it’s going to be OK. In my everydayness I can smile and have life overflow.

My cup overflows.


A piece of cake and red balloons

Image

It occurred to me, as things tend to do, that I write about the hard things much, much more than anything else. So today will be different.

Not that experiencing grief and being jolted into a new existence is a party accompanied by a piece of cake and red balloons! But I hope that as the numbness has long wore off and the shock of that reality has settled somewhat, I am able to see the brighter side of life once again. There can be things to look forward to again.

Grief is a robber. But like most robbers, they get caught eventually and hopefully you get your stuff back…not everything usually, but things are found again. To laugh and smile again, at anything, is priceless, I love to laugh. At first it’s accompanied by guilt, (how dare I laugh when someone suffered and died), but I must choose life and laughter is not only the best medicine, but it feels bloody good!

I am, of course, thankful for my wonderful kids, friends and family who have all been exceptional at loving me, not everyone has that. But also for the place I live, not the house but the town, the area, the community. I love it here, and if it wasn’t for Pauls pushing we wouldn’t be here. This is exactly where he wanted to be, where he left us, and it is home. I feel settled for the first time in years.

I am a control freak by nature (well probably from experience but today is about happy thoughts!), so change doesn’t always happen smoothly. I am trying to see change as a good thing, I can be and do whatever I like, new experiences, new job and maybe even new career. It’s not just a new chapter, but a whole new book “Janene – The Sequel” Oh gee that’s lame!! But you get the drift. This is one of those huge hurdles that appears more like a pole vault apparatus without the pole! To accept the possibility of moving on, alone, and that it’s Ok to do so.

I have been blessed I know. To have had the love of a good man, to know what that looks and feels like, is a gift. It’s a lovely thing to feel now that it doesn’t totally rip my heart out when I do; a gift I will have forever. It is a process of assimilating those feelings into a new part of my heart, Paul’s part of my heart.  Forever his, forever mine. As I do maybe my heart is freeing up for other things, other people…maybe.

So there is life in the old girl yet! Thank God! I wandered if I’d see the day. So maybe one day I will have that party with a piece of cake and red balloons…just maybe I will.


Joy to the Power of 3

Why is shared joy so much more enjoyable? Equally, why is shared pain easier to cope with? It doesn’t change the experience, the concert, the sporting event, but sharing something with someone special is different. And when you don’t… it makes the loneliness a bit more lonely.  Couples everywhere, good ones, bad ones, happy ones and not so happy ones.  Not begrudging, just missing the togetherness, the come along sidedness that comes with the knowing someone so intimately that they are an extension of yourself.

When you share joy it doesn’t just double, its like joy to the power of three. Your joy multiplied by your partners joy multiplied by the mutual joy! That’s a whole lot of joy.  I miss that. Other friends are great and help a lot, but at the end of the day, they go home partnered. I just go home.

It’s just one more thing to get used to I guess. Just another adjustment to make. I just loved being married. I really did and I grieve its loss. I love family. Thank God for the family and kids I do have.

So I will keep loving those around me, keep sharing their joy and maybe it will begin to multiply into something similar via one of those crazy maths equations!! I hope anyway, I’ll let you know.


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