Letter From Heaven

Letter From Heaven

You know I wouldn’t want you to cry, that I always hated to see you sad. I want you to think of me and smile, to cherish what we had. I know it’s been hard, almost too much to bear. But if you would look with your heart and not your eyes, you would see that I’ve been right there. Those nights that you were crying, when you thought no one could hear. I was right beside you, wiping away every tear. When you feel all alone, when you are in despair. Take comfort in knowing, I’ll always be there. I might not be there in body, but I promise that I’m near. My spirit has never left you, you don’t have to fear. Please know I want you happy, cause you were made to smile. You didn’t hear me say it because it was never goodbye, just see you in a little while.

Joni Grief to Life

Deciding Pain Away

Deciding Pain Away

So many well intentioned people will give you advice based on the thought that you can simply make a choice to not grieve. As someone who has been walking a painful road for almost 6 years, let me tell you, we really do wish it was that easy.

Can you choose happiness? Yes, I believe you can. That being said though; I can wake up in the morning and choose to be happy, but that does not make the pain go away. The cause of the pain, the root of the emotions, is still there.

You must walk through it.

Now, how long does it take? That’s just it; it is different for everyone. Loss and the journey to healing is so very personal. We all deal in our own way. Some don’t deal at all and therefore, their path is going look very different from someone who is feeling their way through.

So please, for the love of God, don’t try to rush someone through their pain. Love them. Show compassion. Be there. They will find their way to healing.

Lastly, healing doesn’t mean the void is gone. It means that they have finally learned to live. They have finally come to a place of acceptance of the pain and can move forward, hopefully, using it as the fuel that drives them to live a life full of purpose.

“Pain, you just have to ride it out, hope it goes away on its own, Hope that the wound that caused it heals. There are no solutions, no easy answers, you just have to breathe deep and wait for it to subside. Most of the time pain can be managed but sometimes, the pain gets you where you least expect it. Hits way below the belt and doesn’t let up. Pain, you just have to fight through, Because the truth is you can’t out run it. And life always makes more.” Meredith Grey

Power in Being Real

Power in Being Real

Awhile back I had finally worked up the nerve to watch one of the sermons Jonathan preached. I knew shortly after turning it on that it was something I needed to hear. My counselor once said that God knew back then what messages to speak through Jonathan, what people needed to hear. This one was all about being yourself, being real. He spoke about how God truly does create each one of us unique and with purpose. Jonathan used an analogy of how people always want to be someone like else. Like him wanting to have the gifting of teaching and knowing the Bible inside and out, like others he knew. Or, someone wanting to be like him and having the gift of being a great musician. If we are always looking to be more like someone else, we are missing out on doing the work God has for us to do. Much like a machine having many parts that need to perform a specific function in order for the machine to properly work as a whole, we as individuals are needed to use our own special gifting in order for His plan to come to pass. We are all pieces of the puzzle that are put together to do God’s work. My husband was far from perfect and he was the first person to admit that. However, he was courageous enough to often make public the mistakes he made. In that honesty, people’s lives were touched. People felt free to be themselves and know that no one is perfect. You don’t have to live in the shame that was your past. You aren’t defined by the mistakes you make. God can clean up and heal the mistakes we’ve made. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need him right?

I am reminded of the following Bible verse: 1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God…

In the darkness lies guilt and shame. The light brings grace and mercy. The light brings forgiveness and freedom.

I am still traveling through this painful path called grief. But, being able to share Jonathan’s words and stories makes me feel good. His life on this side of heaven meant something. And the revelation that his life can continue to touch others long after his eternal journey in heaven began, gives me hope, even if for now it’s just a glimmer. We may not be able to see him. We may not be able to hear his voice. But I assure you that he is not gone. And as much as I would trade anything to have him here with me now, I am honored to be able to keep his memory and powerful testimony alive until I’m with him on the other side. So, that is what I choose to do.

Be confident in yourself and who you were made to be. Know who you are, own it and be proud to be unique. Don’t hide, put on a mask or play a role. Be the same person Monday -Saturday as the the person who walks into the church building on Sunday. When you are real, others can be touched by your imperfect life and journey.

Broken Glass(es)

Broken Glass(es)

I did something today, something very simple, that actually holds great significance. I ordered new glasses. Big deal right? Yes. Yes it is.

I had my yearly eye appointment to get my contacts. I wore my glasses there because I was actually totally out of my contacts. While I was there they had me read the chart with my glasses on first. That didn’t go so well! The doctor said, how old are theses glasses? I hesitated but replied, “9 or 10 years old.” He didn’t ask why but said, “wow that is surprising, especially since your prescription has gotten so much worse.” I quickly changed the subject, we finished the exam and then I went back into the main room to talk to the ladies about ordering my contacts. One of them pointed toward a section of glasses and told me that insurance would pay for two pair of glasses in that area. I didn’t say much but humored her leading and looked through the glasses, finding something wrong with each of them. I finally gave in and let her choose the ones she said would be perfect for me. I then sat down across from her as she was processing my order. At this point I am wearing contacts that the doctor gave me. I look over and see my glasses sitting there. The lenses are so scratched up I don’t know how I saw out of them at all. One side of the glasses would close in but the other side would not because of my famous superglue repair jobs.

Get to the point already Joni! 😂😉

The reason I hadn’t replaced those glasses is because I was wearing them the day that my husband and I were in that horrible accident that claimed his life. The craziest thing is that they were one of only a few things that made it out of that vehicle with me.

I remember going off the road and hitting the ditch, closing my eyes and bracing for impact, and then…the scene before me as I opened my eyes. This isn’t the post to spend too much time describing that scene but I will say, because it’s relevant, I saw destruction. I saw a seemingly endless amount of broken glass, among other things. I look to my left and sure enough, there beside me I see those glasses, surrounded by destruction but just sitting there.

So, I hadn’t realized it but I have held on to them for that reason. I couldn’t let go of them. Until now. What may seem small to most was huge for me.

I don’t let go of Jonathan because I let go of those broken glasses that I found amidst that broken glass. I hold him in my heart, forever. As I continue to pick up the broken pieces of my heart and allow God to piece them back together, he is with me. I’m moving forward, without leaving him behind.

And guess what?!! My vision is improved….

The Pain is Worth the Cost

The Pain is Worth the Cost

The pain of losing a spouse and watching your kids grieve the loss of their parent, brings a sorrow that I can’t quite put into words. It’s unlike any feeling I could’ve ever even imagined.

It is said that “it” gets better in time. Just give it time. Time heals all wounds. As well meaning as the one saying these things might be, it’s just not true.

“It” doesn’t get better and it most certainly doesn’t go away. But, you do learn to live with it. It becomes a part of you. Just as the person you grieve leaves an unexplainable void in your heart and life, the impact they had while living leaves an imprint in who you are. As you carry the pain that their loss leaves, you also carry them with you.

Deep grief is the price you pay for deep love. It is always worth the cost.

The Pieces Don’t Fit Anymore

The Pieces Don’t Fit Anymore

When you don’t fit where you used to, you grieve that like any other loss. But, if you don’t fit anymore, you don’t. Move forward. We aren’t supposed to have to fight for a place in people’s lives.

I was talking to one of my long time friends today and we were talking about regret or being able to go back and take certain things back. I told her that every little bit of our lives along the way, bad and good, make up where and who we are today.

When you feel like you don’t fit where you used to, it can take you to a really low place. It hurts! The thing to remember is; it’s not your fault, don’t stay there. Move forward knowing that God will place you where you fit, perfectly.

A Split Second

A Split Second

For those of you that have lost someone… Do you ever have moments where it hits you, out of nowhere, like a ton of bricks?? I do and it’s a terrible feeling. There are actually lots of mornings that begin that way for me.

The worst is what just happened to me. I was sitting in my car, waiting on my son to get his hair cut. I’m busy working on something on my home but I still notice people coming and going around me. I see someone out the corner of my eye and I happen to look up. My heart stopped. Or at least it felt like it. The man was walking toward my car, his head tilted down with a hat on. I had. Second where I thought it was Jonathan. I really thought it was him. Obviously had I not been caught off guard, I would have had the presence of mind to quickly know it wasn’t him! He looked up and that reality struck me. Ugh. He’s gone.

That might not make a lot of sense but, for a split second, things looked different.