THE PODCAST

So…I did a thing!

I finally started my podcast! The audio is pretty awful 😂 but I’m working on that.

Follow on Spotify at AlltheThingsJoni Podcast

The Why Returns

All these years later, I still can’t watch videos of him. I’m so thankful to have them, but it still hurts too badly. I was looking for something on my YouTube and just had to click on this one. I couldn’t listen through to the end, but wanted to share it.
So many emotions come to the surface as I let it take me back to that time, however briefly. The biggest one is the heartbreak that little girl has endured. Her Daddy was her person and they were as tight as a dad and daughter could be.
I stopped asking, the why question a long time ago. I came to realize that I will just never know the answer to that on this side of heaven. But today, as I watched this briefly, that question hit my heart again like a ton of bricks.
Why did my kids lose their dad at such young ages? Their lives have been so incredibly hard as a result. Why did they get robbed of having that man in their lives? They needed him. They still need him.
I remind myself again that I just won’t know that answer and let myself feel the heartbreak and anger. I will again give those feelings over to God and ask Him to bring peace to my heart.
Just needed to let it out a little bit today.

Jonathan & Brenna

Coming to the End of Yourself

I have been going through it. I know many of you have as well. It is a new, challenging, and scary time we are now living in, without the normal struggles that each of us face.
I have let the weight of my troubles, fears, and worries take me to a dark place. It was never my intention as I’ve always always tried to dig deep, despite my circumstances, and fight my way through. I became tired. I am tired. Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Exhausted. Drained. Empty. No energy left to fight, regardless of wanting to. No longer able to choose my way out of feeling bad. Not even enough energy to reach out and tell someone how difficult things had become.
It had all just become TOO. MUCH.
That is a scary place to find yourself in. Thankfully, God used someone to speak some things to and over me that I desperately needed to hear.
That being said; my troubles haven’t disappeared and there are still things I’m terribly worried about. I still feel much like I described above. But, words of encouragement and truth spoken over me created a spark of hope. Now, I can hold onto that spark and add a little bit of fuel. Hope says, get ready because there is about to be a fire. **God has more to show me about that so I’ll leave it at that, for now.
Fear is a liar. It can be so difficult to have faith for what you can’t yet see, especially in the middle of the storms, but God has you. Speak those things that are not as though they are. Bury God’s Word and promises in your heart and declare them over yourself, in His name.
And PLEASE. ⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️⚠️ If you are struggling. If you are feeling alone. If you are feeling hopeless. If you feel like you have no fight left. PLEASE. Tell someone. Don’t allow fear of any kind to keep you from reaching out to someone. There is NO place that is too far to come back from. There is NO hole too deep to climb out of. There is NO such thing as too dark for light to come through. There is NO place too hidden for God to find you.

Fear says, I will lose everything. Hope says, I will always have enough. Fear says, look at the risk. Hope says, look at the reward. Fear says, it will never work out. Hope says, God works all things together for my good. Fear says, this will ruin my life. Hope says, God can renew and restore. Fear says, I must protect the future. Hope says, God is preparing my future, and nothing can stop Him from giving it to me. Fear says, don’t take another step! Hope says, take your next step of faith. Fear says what if we get hurt. Hope says, what if I can heal a hurt. Fear says, I will be on my own. Hope says God will never leave me alone. Fear says the worst is sure to happen. Hope says, God’s best is on the way. Look past your disaster.
-Jud Wilhite

Reality of Grief

For the last 6.5 years I have had one main purpose; making sure my kids were okay.

Making sure they have everything they need, a nice place to live, helping them through all of the hard times that they have had to face, without their Dad.

Trying to keep everything afloat on my own. Struggling through my own grief, mostly in silence, trying to put a positive spin on everything when I just wanted to scream, “this is horrible and so unfair!”

Trying to make ends meet so they didn’t feel or see the difference, financially, of how different and difficult it is to go from two incomes to one.

Throwing the football or trying to practice baseball when it was obvious that the person that should be doing those things just wasn’t there.

Attending school functions and faking a smile when it was painfully obvious that their Dad wasn’t there.

Struggling through homework when I couldn’t even do math for myself in school, knowing that their Dad would have been able to help.

Dropping them off at practice when I saw the Dads walking to the field to stay with their kids.

Talking through times when they lost interest in things or gave up on things that were just too hard because he wasn’t there.

Scrolling through FB to see the Daddy Daughter dance pictures or the sports awards pictures. Seeing the heart warming videos of parents returning home from service to see their kids who missed their parent so much while they were gone, wanting to lose it, knowing my kids won’t ever see their Dad again.

Night after night of sleepless nights, followed by mornings when none of us could even hear the alarm go off.

Injuries, ER visits, sicknesses, birthdays, holidays…. Every single day there is something that he is missing, something they were going through and just wanted their Dad.

Answering questions about people leaving their lives, after they had already lost so much, with some generic answer that made it sound okay.

I could go on and on.

But, at the end of the day, it’s not okay. There is nothing okay about two young kids having to grow up without their Dad.

Nothing.

It’s shitty.

It’s unfair.

It’s so incredibly heart wrenching.

I found some old videos last night.

There were videos of the kids from before 6/19/2012. They were so happy. Pure joy, innocent laughter; they were just normal and happy kids.

There were videos from shortly after 6/19/2012. There were smiles and laughter, but it wasn’t the same. I heard two little voices, making me painfully aware of just how young they were when it happened. They were trying so hard to be normal, to just be kids. But behind those smiles and laughs, I could see and hear the pain they tried to hide.

There were videos that were a taken a couple of years later. They were much more serious and somber; those little voices and brave laughs were no longer there.

Then I realized that I don’t have any recent videos. The struggles over the last several years have been so hard and so intense that not only do most people not even know about, but made me wonder if we would ever be okay. There wasn’t much happiness to capture.

We have just been trying to get by.

Just trying to survive.

Then, tonight I was hit with such a raw and real picture of all that I just described. It just hit me all at once. It was like 6.5 years of grieving and pain was being felt, out of nowhere, almost as if for the first time.

I have lived every single bit of this with these two, every single day. I have dealt with my own grief and the struggles that come with being the adult left to take care of these two people. But, although I have walked through the hard times with them, I had to be the strong one. I had to make it okay. Or at least try to, the best I knew how; all the while feeling that I was always falling short. But, I hadn’t truly allowed myself to feel the hurt that a Mom feels when they see their kids hurting. That changed, truly out of nowhere, in a moment.

All of the sudden I am sobbing uncontrollably, trying to explain to them what I was feeling, what I just attempted to describe above. I could hardly talk through the trembling in my voice, blowing my nose, and trying with everything to get the tears to stop.

You know what they did?

They hugged their Mom and just kept telling me that it was okay. They wiped my tears and told me not to cry for them. They said that they were okay.

How did those two little heart broken children grow up so fast?

Now, 16 & 18, they were taking care of their Mom and saying whatever necessary to make it okay.

Here is what I realize…

There is nothing okay about what the three of us have had to endure since 6/19/2012.

We have been through hell and back.

We have struggled through things that no one else will ever truly know or understand.

Life doesn’t look the same for us as it does for others and people can judge what it might look like to them all they want, but at the end of the day…

We are okay.

We have survived what could have broken us.

We will be better, more loving, more compassionate, and stronger people because of it.

We are going to make it.

And lastly:

I have to believe that there are still great things in store for us and that we can still find joy and happiness in this life that has dealt us an extremely hard hand.

And….

Despite all the hurt and all the pain…

This is not where or how our story will end.

Love doesn’t end. Not even death can break the strong bond of true love. We may be missing an integral piece, but we are and always will be family.

Show More Love

I often wonder how different the world might be if we cared about people while they are here as much as we seem to once they aren’t anymore.

Think on that…

path OF peace

I heard a sermon that really resonated with me and I’m sharing the overall thought process here. The reason it resonated with me so much is because it is probably one of the biggest sources of struggle for me. If someone asks me what I want most in life, it’s not anything of material value. It’s peace.

Anyway, before reading this, stop and get in your mind:

What is the greatest source of stress in your life?

Think about that thing as you read through this.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Whatever brings you the most stress, will also usually determine how you seek out peace.

God will bring you peace, but it’s not always going to look the way you think it will.

First…

Surrender your expectation of perfection.

God promises us peace.

He doesn’t promise us ease or convenience.

Peace isn’t found in a place.

Peace isn’t found in a set of circumstances that is problem free.

Peace won’t be found in people.

The problem isn’t the problem! The problem isn’t what is causing you stress.

The enemy of your peace is your insistence on perfection!

It is impossible to experience peace when you are expecting perfection.

Psalm 23:4

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

He doesn’t deliver me from it, He meets me in it. He will guide us with the light in the valley. He didn’t take us out of the valley.

I’m at peace on the path.

Why?

Not because I’m not going through it, but because I’m not going through it alone. There is somebody with me that is greater than what is against me.

Think about this.

If peace comes from people, people can take it away. If peace comes from situations, situations can change and take it away.

The same person that you let steal your peace, is still that person. You can’t change people so you can’t let your peace depend on people.

I’ll have peace when _______________.

It’s not the path to peace. Because that means that the peace is far off, out there, somewhere.

Peace.

Stop waiting for it.

Start walking in it.

Watch the whole sermon here:

When Life Brings Hurt & Disappointment

When life isn’t working out the way you had hoped, disappointment and hurt can take over. That’s okay. Feel the disappointment, recognize and feel the hurt.

But then what?

How do you move past the pain?

You may start to feel like you can’t get past it, that you can’t deal with any more hurt. You may say to yourself, “I can’t do this.”

What I know personally, especially having gone through so much already, is that I can’t do it. I then remember that I’m not supposed to. It’s not my burden to carry because I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father. Instead of being mad at God for your situation, give it all over to Him. He loves you enough to take it on for you.

You might think, why is He doing this to me? First of all, He isn’t. He doesn’t cause our pain, but He does promise to be there with us to walk through it.

I actually heard a sermon the other day that offers another perspective as well, one that I hadn’t considered. He doesn’t cause the situations that bring us hurt. But, He may allow it. I had to stop and think on that for awhile.

It’s difficult to understand because we don’t know the end from the beginning like He does. He may allow something so that we turn to Him. He may allow something because there is something we need to learn or an area in which we need to grow. Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing. He may allow something, knowing that it’s all going to work out in the end, but it’s in His timing, His way.

So, when you are disappointed and hurt, when you don’t think you’re going to make it through the pain, when you don’t understand why things are happening the way they are…

Give it over to Him.

Take your hands off the situation, knowing it will all work out the way it’s supposed to. Don’t carry that burden. Be thankful that you have a loving Father that gave it all so that you don’t have to. That is called faith. Believe that He can and will carry you through. He will walk with you through it all, to the other side of it all.

I’m reminded of a horribly difficult time in my life, prior to my husband passing away. It was the time in my life that I learned what faith was really about. He taught me how to let things go, to Him.

I wrote about it last year and you can read that story here:

Letting Go

Although I write as I’m going through things, it is always my hope that it will help someone else. I truly hope that my sharing this does just that.

Joni 💗

Just Breathe

When life overwhelms you, when you are plagued by confusion and fear, just breathe. Regardless of how it feels, it will get better. It will be okay.

Waiting Through the Storm

Storms will always come. While we are in the storm, it can feel like it will never end.

Hold on.

The storm will end. Brighter days are surely ahead.