Unapologetically Me

Unapologetically Me

I love this so much!

I remember a time when my Mom said, stop apologizing! I said, what do you mean??

She told me that I apologized for everything, all the time, even for things that I shouldn’t. What’s crazy is that I didn’t even realize I was doing that. I became so accustomed to saying I’m sorry that it basically became a habit.

I’m what I like to call a “recovering people pleaser.”

I’ve spent most of my life trying to make other people happy, a lot of times at the expense of my own happiness. What I realized is that, in striving to be everything to everyone, I forgot about me. I was like a chameleon, changing (sometimes moment by moment) to adapt to who I was around; just being who they needed at the time. Well, you do that for long enough and you can wake up one day with the realization that you don’t even know who you really are.

Losing one of my identities only complicated this further. I was Jonathan’s wife. So, when I lost him, I really lost my sense of self. For almost 6 years now, I’ve been on a journey of grief, only parenting grieving kids, trying to maintain a household by myself, navigating my way through changed relationships, deconstructing (and reconstructing) my faith, and trying to learn to live again.

One of the biggest things I’ve had to face is seeing myself for who I really am. I realized that I felt my worth was all about what I did for others.

I was Jonathan’s wife

I am Chase and Brenna’s Mom

I am a daughter, a sibling, an aunt, a friend

I am still all of those things and they are important, but above all else, I’m Joni.

I am not what has happened to me

I am not who I used to be

I am not the mistakes I have made

I am not who others think I am

I am not invisible or anonymous

I am not what I look like

I am not what I do

So many of us practically kill ourselves trying to be something or someone else. Desperately and tirelessly attempting to fulfill this imaginary list of qualities or capabilities that we think will make us feel loved or happy. And then we have to spend a ridiculous amount of time tearing through the layers of unrealistic pressures and expectations we have put on ourselves. It’s exhausting. I know because it’s what I have done.

I am the daughter of the most high God, who created me in His image. He doesn’t make mistakes. He formed me with His very hands. He loves me. He created me completely unique, down to my fingertips. So why shouldn’t that be good enough for me??

I am… ENOUGH

Be unapologetically YOU ♥️

The Next Chapter

The Next Chapter

There are things that I need to do and things I need to finish in order to move forward into the next chapter of my life. I’ve been working hard at this.

One of the most important things that I need to do is proving to be extremely difficult. I need to finish the book that I started several years ago.

Most people would assume (after hearing I’m writing a book) that the idea came to me after losing my husband. I actually felt led to write a book two years prior. I wrote, off and on, up until I got to the point of writing about our accident.

You see, my husband and I went through a lot of trials throughout our marriage; many of which could have ended it. But, we never gave up in each other. That, to me, is a story worth telling; a testimony.

What sort of testimony did I have now?

Here I am, almost 6 years later.

My story isn’t at all what I thought it would be originally. But, I definitely have a story to tell. It’s just a different one.

I have struggled in trying to understand why I haven’t been able to finish, but I think I know now. Finishing the book might just mean the literal finishing of the chapters of the life I once knew. I know in my heart that this could be a very important part of my allowing myself to move forward. As much as I want and need that, the truth is that I’m scared. I want to let go of the the pain, but there is a part of me that holds on out of fear of letting go of him.

I actually wrote on the subject of letting go awhile back. It couldn’t be more relevant than it is now. You can read that post here: Letting Go

I’m going to do this.

I need to do this.

Wish me luck, my blog family.

xoxo Joni

Never Stop Looking for Rainbows 🌈♥️🌈♥️🌈

Never Stop Looking for Rainbows 🌈♥️🌈♥️🌈

I was hurt. Bandages around my wrist. Bruises on my face and all over my body. Still had pieces of glass that hadn’t been removed from my skin. Broken leg. An undiscovered pool of blood from broken blood vessels in my leg, which later developed into compartment syndrome. Two surgeries to follow.

There I stood, with our two young children, staring at a casket that would be lowered into the ground. The worst feeling of the whole experience hit me at that moment. It was time to walk away. We would leave him there. 15 years together, battling things that some will never experience, and I have to leave him now. After all we had been through.

I will never forget what it felt like to turn and be led to the car that would take us away from him. I would try to describe it, but there are no words in the dictionary that could adequately define it.

Then…

I see a friend of ours running toward the car, yelling my name and trying to get my attention. I heard, you have to get out, look up! I made my way outside of the vehicle and I see a line of people as far as I can see, all looking up. I look up. I can’t believe my eyes. There was the most beautiful double rainbow I had ever seen. It hasn’t been raining. Weather did not call for something like this. But, it wasn’t just a double rainbow. There was a perfect rainbow circle around the sun.

Ever since then, on significant days, I have seen rainbows. Too many to mention them all, but these stick out the most in my mind:

My son’s first baseball game without his Dad. My daughter’s birthday. My first trip with the kids without him. What would have been my 15th wedding anniversary.

You may call them coincidences. I do not. There is no way that anyone on earth could convince me that the very worst moment in my life that coincided with a moment of pure hope like that, is anything short of a miraculous sign from God. There’s no way.

I was reminded of this today as I stood in the pouring rain, getting drenched, looking for a rainbow. I didn’t see one. I felt silly coming in all soaking wet, but thought… I will always look for the rainbows. 🌈

When the rainbow is hidden;

When it seems that light doesn’t exist.

When you can’t remember or don’t believe in the promises anymore.

Hold on.

Don’t let go.

Refuse to give up.

Even when they aren’t there, I’m still going to look up. Even in the storms, through the pouring rain, when we can’t see light or the rainbow… there is always hope. Don’t ever stop looking.

Joni ♥️ Grief to Life

A RAINBOW = A PROMISE FROM GOD

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