i am rhonel

This blog shares my sacred journey through tragedy.  I was called for audacious hope whilst grieving a living loss.  And I had to choose – will I be better or bitter? 

I have told this story many times since it happened. And every time I am newly overwhelmed by the emotions; the harsh truths; the confusion and the pain of that day. It is as if it is burned into my mind, a movie I can select and recall in infinite detail.  I am sure that it is a subjective recollection, as my experience of the day is filtered through my eyes as a mother. She was only three years old, my beautiful daughter, Juneldè. And this is the story of the day she drowned. 13 January 2013.

It was a Sunday and we were driving back from church. It was the start of the new year and we were happy to see our friends. We wanted all to catch up some more and decided to meet up for a barbeque later at our house. It was a casual affair and some of the older kids wanted to swim.  The men opened the pool; rolling up the heavy solid cover. The fire was lighted and the kids were playing in the shallow end of the pool. Us mommies were sitting on the patio, keeping an eye on the children.  I was asking questions about ballet classes, as I planned to enroll Juneldè the coming week. Soon Juneldè was standing next to me, shivering from cold, pronouncing her hunger. I took her inside, gave her some pre-lunch snacks and dressed her warmly.

Time passed through easy conversation with treasured friends. In the meantime Juneldè has decided that she wanted to change back into swimming clothes to join her friends again in the pool. I helped her into a dry set, kissed her and laughed with her. Soon the food was ready and we all moved inside.

My eyes fell upon the open pool, feeling restless, contemplating whether we should put back the cover. It was however a tedious task and the men wanted to cool of in the pool after lunch.  At that moment I made the worst decision of my life, I decided that I will sit at the table in a spot where I am sure I can keep an eye on the pool. I kept quiet about the unrest I felt. Juneldè came to get a piece of sausage from me; she sat next to her friend and was chatting away. She came to me again, asking if I would wash her hands.  I saw she still had some sausage left over in her hand, and promised to help her soonest she finished her food…

That was the last time I heard her voice calling me mommy. The last time I saw her wide open smile.

She went back sitting next to her friend again. I smiled with endearment at her animated ways. I looked down, I looked up and engaged in conversation. I looked down again and dished up more food. I looked up…And she was gone.

I was immediately irrationally concerned. My eyes fell on the open pool and I felt cemented to my seat. My head reprimanded my overreaction. My heart telling a different story. I asked my husband: “Where is Juneldè?”  At exactly the same time he uttered the same question.  I asked him to look in the pool. The urgency in my voice surprised me, but propelled him from his seat.  I didn’t understand my angst, as I could see the tranquil pool from where I sat.  My husband walked slowly towards the pool, until he reached the deep end corner. He exclaimed: “O no” in a tone of voice I have never heard from him before.

He jumped into the water and our miniature maltese started barking hysterically.

We can never be sure, but from collaboration we estimate that it was only two minutes since we last saw her until she was found.  Two minutes too long, two minutes too late. Two minutes that changed everything.

I wrote this following  piece at the fourth year anniversary of that day.  It touches on the subject of time. The clock that is ticking down our seconds, moments, our hours and years of everyday borrowed time:

Time has a way of not asking permission before moving on…4 Years, 4 YEARS! How can it be? Years filled with tears, pain, anguish, anger, grief; so much grief. Also years filled with healing, hope, grace and love, so much love. I am forever changed by that day, that moment your dead body was lifted out of the water. I am no more. And yet I have become so much more…My voice have become softer, my determination to speak out quieter. This life is so fragile, our souls so easily wounded, yet our Spirits are strong, resilient and utterly connected to Him who gave us life. I cry for what happened to you and our family that day, 4 years ago. Yet I praise Him for granting us more time with you. Your body is broken, but your essence fills our house! We live on borrowed time…4 years…4 YEARS!


I see wisdom in my eyes.  I see the hurt and suffering of the past more than four years.  I see the depth of the lessons learned and the loss of innocence it once held.  I see a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend.  I see frailty and sadness.  I see strength and perseverance.  I see audacious hope, resilient faith and unconditional love.  I see the brokenness of being human.  I see the vulnerability of motherhood.  I see imperfection.  I see the perfection in being imperfect.  I see a story of healing through desperate tears.  I see a strong believe in tomorrow, even though life shakes every foundation of today.  I see me…I AM RHONEL

I see mee

Last week I was speaking at a ladies event on the topic of Hope. Such an important, fragile, personal word. If someone was to ask you now to explain hope to them what would you say?

I still vividly remember 9 years ago walking into church the morning of the 13th of January 2013. The theme for that morning’s message was audacious hope. Little did I know how much I would need that message to land in my heart and carry me into the painful near future. That fateful afternoon Juneldè drowned in our pool. And thus my journey of hope began.

Initially my hope was desperate. As I walked up and down the ER hall I saw a cross with the words Faith Hope Love. Faith on the left, Love to the right and Hope written above. As I looked up at the cross and read the word Hope I realised the importance of its position. Because Hope will always ask of me to keep looking up. Towards Him. Hope becomes fragile and invisible when we look around and looses it’s audacity when we focus on circumstantial evidence to support it.

The Bible is full of verses of hope. Of which Hebrews 11:1 one of my favourites: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” The Cambridge dictionary explains substance as the “most important part of something”. Thus hope is one of the most important parts of our faith. Wow!

I have learned that hope is not always a feeling but always a choice. It is a deeper knowing in spite of. I have learned that hope is not my responsibility alone but a gift from the Spirit within. I have learned to not limit my hope to one area of my life but to be bold in hope. Hope is truly audacious and limitless.

In Jeremiah 29:11 it says: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future”.

I have learned that a very important ingredient of Hope is trust. To trust His plans, His provision, His Love, and the future that He provides.

Trust in Hope always…

I s

This year…well, it’s been one for the books! Maybe it fits more into the horror section of my library, or even the psychological thriller genre. But definitely a very memorable story. And through it all I’ve been fighting, to not give up, to not give in, to be resilient and have grit. To smile in perseverance and be strong for my family. To rise above and find the power within. I’ve put up a good fight. But alas it was not sustainable. Because I’ve been trying to do it all on my own…

As the news came of the surgery I have to undergo in December I wasn’t prepared for the emotional waves that came with it. The finality of the word hysterectomy. Yes, it is a private matter but I have to share it by its name in order for it to make sense in this writing. You see, I was holding on to steadfast hope of another baby. And if I am being honest, a blonde baby girl. And as I am coming to terms with letting go of this dream the loss and grief for Juneldè’s altered reality came crashing down in full force. I wasn’t prepared for this. The two doesn’t relate at all does it? How do I make sense of my teary emotional disposition? But it all felt like finally giving up…My head and heart miles apart and my gut stuck in silent action mode. Ticking of the long list of “to do’s”. I cannot even pray, my spirit finally so defeated that words fail. I am weak, and in self-loathing I forget to apply the self-kindness and grace that I advocate in coaching.

Questions overwhelm in its determined mental loop. What if this is the wrong decision? What if I take away God’s ability to perform a miracle? What if by allowing this surgery I actually finally am giving up? Giving up on hope, on faith…

Giving up…

Suddenly the words struck me in its power. GIVING – in order to give you have to let go first. Letting go of the things you are holding on to. In my case control. I had to open my tight fist and allow the questions and emotions to flow. Flow freely to Him. Because giving is also sharing. Sharing my fears, doubts, hurt and pain. Sharing my weaknesses and challenges. My deepest shadows. Yes, emotional healing starts by giving.

UP…And when I finally gave and opened my hand I could let go. When sharing my messy humanness I had to remember to give it UP. Not to others around me but to Him who is strong when I am weak. Who is sovereign, in control, solid, awesome, powerful, wise. My protector and healer.

And so I GAVE UP…The floodgates opened and peace rained on me. ‘Don’t be afraid’ – these words appear in the Bible 366 times. One reminder for every day and 1 extra for the day you need to hear it twice. I haven’t utilised my 366 reminders fully this year, so I have some extra for every day left of 2020. And therefore in the giving up, I give over…My understanding I give over to Him. My fears I give over to Him. My grief and pain and concerns and tears I give it over to Him. My failures – HIS. My angst – HIS. My worries – HIS. I will not be afraid!

I pray that you too will give up. Open your tight fist and raise your head to focus on Him. Don’t be afraid…

My hand covers her abdomen almost entirely from right to left, and my heart breaks yet again seeing new scars…As so many times before as soon as she comes from theatre and out of the recovery room my first instinct is to see the wounds, knowing that they will ultimately morph into new scars. As if by seeing them it confirms that it is done. I gave permission for her to be cut open and I wonder if she can truly understand. Understand that as always the only motivation is that of pure love. Love for her driving the need to ensure better quality of life. And then the hope that this would have been the right decision…The momentum of faith pushing us forwards, always, to keep on fighting. Not giving up. 

It is done…Surgery went well, scars the proof of the most difficult of decisions we as parents have to make. To put your child under the knife. To trust a fellow human with your whole heart. My daughter so vulnerable and I cannot even be there to tell them about her. To make sure that they understand that this is not just a patient, a case. But my everything…

Almost three hours sitting alone in front of the recovery room. A thick electrical door keeping me out and isolated from the answers I so crave. How is she? And then finally I hear that familiar angry cry of her coming out of anesthetic. Spontaneous tears of deep relieve find their way from my eyes to my cheeks. Dripping on my clothes. They are giving me away, exposing my mask of so called control and calm. Tears reminding me of my humanness.

My thoughts find their way to another Father who gave permission for His Son to be given over to humans. He however knew that these humans didn’t know His Son. Didn’t care for Him or understood His calling. Yet this Father was also pushed by Love. Love forcing him to permit deep wounds and ultimately evidential scars on His only Son. His son was hanged on a cross and He couldn’t interfere. His only Hope that His son truly understood that all of this was driven by Love. A Hope for a new tomorrow. For true quality of life for all His children and ultimately the Faith that these scars will be the proof. The proof that It is Done.

I do believe that one day Juneldè’s broken body will be fully restored and that on this earth these scars will continue to remind me of Love. Love enabling me to keep on making the difficult decisions on her behalf. Believing that she knows that I will always have her best interest at heart and the invisible thread of intuitive knowledge binding us my barometer to trust my gut even when it means more wounds and scars.

I am a fallible sinful human and therefore a fallible sinful mom. Yet in my deepest soul my spirit reminds me that agape Love is the gift that propels all difficult decisions. If I as a mother yearn for her to know that Love is the only motivation how much more does our heavenly Father crave that surrender. The surrender of not seeking answers but rather stepping into complete trust. The scars on His son the reminder that It is done. 

I am…Two words after which we declare our identity. Yet our language contradicts and weakens us as we say things like “I am sick”, or “I am depressed”, or “I am sad”, or “I am fat…weak…overwhelmed”.

We also tell our own kids things like: “You are naughty…being stupid…too much…too emotional” (with the best intentions).

However what this does is it immediately makes a declaration of eternal value over something that is fleeting, bound to and in time. And our mind attaches meaning and beliefs to this and files it in the My Identity folder. And that is why change is so incredibly difficult, because if I am naughty, how then can I also be good? Or if I am fat how dare I loose weight. If I am depressed, then how can I laugh and be joyful? And subsequently we self-sabotage because the greatest job of our mind is to protect us from insanity – we need to survive. This powerful vehicle, our mind, has no distinguishing power. It can only act on what it is told. And what then is more insane than to act in dissonance to what is already filed in the My Identity folder? Therein lies our biggest struggle…

I am Rhonel – my name means that I am strong and mighty. Juneldè’s name means that she is a shining witness to the glory of the Kingdom of God. Juvan’s name declares that God is gracious, merciful and good. And Julius is our warrior, trailblazer and frontrunner. How amazing to know that every time we call someone on their name we declare something over them and confirms their identity. Do you know the meaning of your name?

During coaching I often journey with coachees on language and how we use it and how it makes us feel. If we say instead “I feel sad”…or “I feel depressed”…or “I feel sick” it affirms that this is actionable, timely and small. It is processed completely differently than when we say I Am…When we change our language to “I feel…” our mind perceives this as something that can be acknowledged and immediately feel empowered to do something about. Because as you journey with what is in your My identity folder your mind picks up on these feelings and find that it is in contrast with the I am. Immediately a subconscious process starts where you, powerful soulful wise, YOU, redirects and moves back to the true north authenticity of your I am.

Our children will only benefit if we start today by telling them about who they are. “You are good, respectful, calm, joyous, kind, light, infectious with your being…”This becomes their identity and they absorb these messages so easily as their My Identity folder is still almost empty and susceptible to being filled up. And when needed to discipline rather say ‘I can see that you feel angry, frustrated, sad, confused. I see your tears and kicking and screaming but this is not who you ARE. How can I help you deal with these feelings to get back to the joyful, calm, happy YOU? This behavior is in contrast with who you are…’

A mouthful, I know. Easy? Not at all. Worth it? For sure!

I try my hardest to not talk about Juneldè as BEING disabled. No, she has challenges because she cannot YET speak, eat, walk, laugh…However she is a child of God, she is my and so many other people’s inspiration. She is loved, she brings joy and wisdom and insight. She lifts the veil between body, soul and spirit that I so often get tangled within.

And then there is the One, the great I AM. If you struggle to declutter your My Identity folder – return to his word and fill this folder with the truths of who He says You are. Daily affirmations should become as important as brushing your teeth and presencing a worthy daily habit in order to connect with your feelings before they get wrongly file in the My identity folder.

I am Rhonel, I am who he says I am.

And so are YOU…

**Should this piece prompt you to make 2020 the year for stepping into your true I Am however you realise it’s a conquest easier faced with someone by your side, you are welcome to contact me. As adults our My Identity folder is so filled to the brim that we need to first journey with the unpacking of this folder before we can fill it up with truths and positive declarations. I would be honored to be your coach.

May these songs bless you on your journey!


There is a Cherokee story about two wolves, and it serves as a great metaphor for life’s challenges.  The story goes like this:

“One evening an old Cherokee wise was telling his grandson about the battle that is constantly going on inside of people. He said: “My son, there is a battle raging inside of us between two wolves.  The one is good and the other is bad.  Bad wolf represents anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is good.  It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked:  “Which wolf wins?”

The answer was simply: “The one you feed”.

Even though I have come across this tale 9 years ago during my Master’s studies, and I often use it during coaching, my recent journey with weight loss shifted my focus again towards this wisdom.  I have in the past year got rid of (not lost as I’m not planning to find it again) almost 30kg’s, and it’s been quite and emotional journey to get here.  I’ve been very much confronted with the way in which I literally fed my bad wolf.  I have always struggled with weight, a constant up and down battle.  However after Juneldè’s accident I needed overeating as a survival tool and didn’t want to give proper attention to the root cause.  Eating became my way of coping.  And my weight ballooned as a result.  Bad wolf kept on appearing in my life, with an array of messages.  “You’re not a good mother” he said. “Look at other people’s lives, why do they have the fairy tale” he constantly repeated.  And jealousy and envy found a home.  Anger, grief, guilt, fear, self-doubt, anxiety…O, how familiar they became.  And every time they would make me physically turn to  the comfort I found in food.  I was actively feeding this wolf, making him stronger.  I believed his lies,  bought into it.  If only he was so upfront and in my face with these messages as it now seems when I repeat them. However, I have found bad wolf to be a bit of a chameleon.  He knows me so well and manages to be subtle in his hunger and drive to grow.  But I have made a choice to start the difficult journey of starving this wolf.  When self-doubt reared I would counter it with compliments toward myself.  I would repeat my strengths and repeat verses in the Bible that reiterates who I am in Him.  It was so difficult not to indulge and eat and satisfy the constant emotional hunger inside of me.  I had to start believing that I too deserve to be healthy, happy and have a full life.  Somewhere, somehow bad wolf convinced me that I am not good enough.  Not good enough for my husband, not good enough for my kids, not good enough a friend, not good enough in facing my challenges, not good enough as a coach.  Even as I write this I still feel exposed, vulnerable and scared.  What will others think if I share these thoughts? I wanted to hide away and not be seen, however by overeating I created the exact opposite effect.  My weight gain made me stand out instead and confirmed the messaging  within myself that “I am weak” and that  “I don’t have self control”.

When I chose to alter my ability to overeat I had to finally face of the bad wolf and acknowledge his potential to destroy.  I needed good wolf to help me fight and put self-love and kindness into practice.  Bad wolf would accuse and good wolf would counter.  I focused on my own strengths and wisdom.  I wrote these down and affirmed them daily.  I chose to focus on that which I appreciate about myself and affirm these.  Did you know that for every negative comment, either from outside or from within yourself, you need 5 positives in order to counter that 1 negative (Gottman & Levenson).  In other words when bad wolf said “You’re not good enough”, I needed to reply with: “No, that’s not true.  I am a child of God (1), created in His image (2).  I am more than enough (3).  I am a good wife (4). I am a good mother (5).”  And slowly but surely I started noticing a change within myself.  I was less focused on what is not and more on what is.  My anxiety subsided and my mental and emotional hunger became less and less.  As I started to believe in my own worth and value, and treat myself with kindness and gentleness, I saw an instinctive drive towards healthier choices.

I also shifted my focus from what is wrong with Juneldè towards what is special and unique about her.  I would repeat these qualities to her and to myself.  My gratitude for her life and her being became more important than fixing her injury.  I found a release of hope and faith and an openness to the here and now.  Whenever a negative thought or comment arose I used gratitude to alter my focus.  I used my fingers as a guide, for example right through the day I would focus on 5 things I am grateful for.  I tried to not repeat the same things throughout the day.  (This is called the 5 Finger Gratitude model, should you wish to get access to a template of this model please comment with your email and I’ll be sure to send it).


As you are reading this you might ask yourself which wolf do you feed?  Do you feed good wolf with happiness, joy, humility, unity, harmony and love.  Or do you feed bad wolf with harsh words towards yourself, or others, with judgement and anger, self-loathing and comparison. What small changes can you put in place today to make good wolf stronger?  Always remember that good wolf flourishes on a diet of kindness, gentleness and gratitude.


Please share the ways in which good wolf and bad wolf show up in your life?

In the still of the night, when only the noise of my thoughts keep me awake, I find myself asking this question: Where are you God?

In hindsight it is a better question than Where is God? But in that moment I very much resemble my four year old toddler with my pity party for one. Because this question, even though authentic, is also very much attention seeking. As if God would play hide and seek with me.

When Julius was retrenched the reality of it all came crashing down in waves. As the end of July drew near the disconnect between my spirit, body and soul became more pronounced. My spirit knew that it will all be okay, and that God wasn’t caught unawares by this closing door. However the insecurity of where to next and the maelstrom created by our breadwinner being without a future income tested body and soul. Anxiety was bubbling to the surface of my already delicately balanced control. All while having to make almost impossible medical decisions regarding Juneldè.

Even though I thought He was quiet truthfully He was planning our future all while teaching me to trust Him fully, wholly and completely.

During this time I received a phone call from a friend sharing that God woke her early one morning to tell us that He hasn’t forgotten about us. This message was balm to my weary soul but again my toddler state of mind challenged Him; why doesn’t He tell me himself? She also shared some other messages and asked me to test it first. I didn’t need to however because it was almost word for word a conversation Julius and I had about fighting our giants. And just the following day another friend knocked on the door with a basket readily prepared for communion. We prayed for Juneldè and drenched her in anointing oil whilst Father confirmed the exact same message that He surely wanted me to hear. He has not forgotten us. This didn’t catch him unawares…And slowly but surely I started seeing Him calm our storm. The waves subsided and the wind obeyed His voice.

The following Sunday special prayer warriors whom have been praying for us continuously came to visit. It was the first time that we have personally met and over chocolate cake and coffee a sweet communion between His children happened. They prayed for His word over us and shared Matthew 6: 25-34 & Matthew 8:5-13 as the Spirit shared with them.  The message was clear: He will never forsake us and we must hold on to the promise of healing for Juneldè.

Just the next day Julius had his first interview for what ended up being the wide open door that only God could have opened and let us walk through. Julius started on the 2nd of September in this new role and truly I can testify that God is always on time and His plans always divine. Without being retrenched and subsequently a strict Restraint of Trade lifted from Julius’s contractual obligation with his previous employers, he would not have been able to take on this new position. Truly, my lesson in trust hit home…

There once was a young boy growing up in an atheist household. But he had something different in His heart and was actively seeking God. His dad grew more and more frustrated with his son’s growing faith and decided to make placards all over the house. It read: God is nowhere. But to his astonishment his son just became more steadfast and bold in His faith. The dad one day threw up his hands in frustration and asked his son how it is possible that he now believes even more than before? Confused the son replied: It’s because of all these placards you put up dad. It says: God is now here.


It is in the space between now and here that we rekindle our trust in Him. It is in this space that our faith is restored and our hope renewed. In this space we bow our knees and quiet our busy minds, doubts and fears. It is in this space that retrenchment, suffering, pain, weariness, cerebral palsy, near drowning, financial burdens and grief evaporates. It is in this space that we grow boldly.  This space is called faith…

Where are you God?

“I am Now Here my child…Always with you…”

Can you hear His soft whisper?

430AB52E-8440-4B11-89DC-5BBFCA1F2678Vulnerable…That is how I feel. Raw and exposed without the energy for the socially acceptable layers of pretense. I stand in front of this group of ladies, each so wonderfully and perfectly made, and I know that I need to share honestly and authentically.  When I was asked to speak at this event I was still in that positive, beginning of the year, summer holiday mindset. I believed that 2019 will be my year of stability, serenity, you know, a year for ME just as I prayed for and claimed. A year of indulgence, rest and relaxation. But I also prayed for a year of growth. And I think this is why I now have the opportunity to share the deepest parts of me with this group of ladies. Because maybe our Savior is less concerned about the superficial layers of worldly pleasures and more involved in the dissonance needed for us to uncomfortably grow in faith. However I don’t feel strong enough, worthy enough.

I was once requested to not share so much about the pain and reality of our story when speaking at events because it upsets people. I then created a metaphor for our journey, still inspiring and serving a purpose. People enjoyed my speaking and relayed to the story. However I always felt uncomfortable afterwards, can I truly say that I allowed the emotional exposure needed to let the Spirit do the work. Or did my image, persona and ego stand in the way of His light shining through the brokenness of me?

When I started praying for the theme of this event, things were unraveling rapidly in our lives. Juneldè’s constant pain escalated to where she was screaming out  like a wounded animal for a good 16 hours of every day and night. Dispersed with moments of softer moaning. For months now we have been consulting with so many doctors, all unable to provide solutions. And defeated we had to yet again take her home in anguish. Job security was shaken as our breadwinner faces restructuring and possible redundancy of his position. How will we survive without this financial security Lord? Really this isn’t fair! And then an attempted highjacking/smash-and-grab (not sure what the true intent was) where I realise divine protection of Julius’s life is the testimony rather than the event. However, I am shaken to my core. I feel unstable, rocking, hiding, grabbing desperately to any escape – wine, sugar, books, series, movies. Moments of reprieve from this hurtful life.

But back to praying; Lord what do you want me to share with this group of your children? Tell them about the audaciousness of Hope and the vulnerability of Love, came the soft voice of His whisper to my soul…But God, I don’t think I can. I am so close to breaking and losing the tight control on my image! What do I know of Hope and Love? You know…He whispered softly. You know about audaciousness and vulnerability. Talk about that, because I need you broken. Your brokenness is where I truly shine.

Oh my Lord, I am not ready! Yet here I stand, sharing my unworthiness, uncleanliness, ugly humanity and sin. And He gently communicates His worth, purity and Godliness to every woman in this group.

My testimony is less important than my willingness to expose every part of my failing, human heart. This year has allowed me to sink even deeper into the dissonance between this world and His world. His world is eternal, our world is fragile, broken, exposed…The enemy wants us empty, alone, shriveled up in the believe of our isolation. We are however NOT alone…

I have hidden away between the four walls of my home, until even they felt too exposing. Too loud to the narrowness of my own will to fight, conquer and even just endure. Between the safe blankets of my bed I found a reprieve. Playing hide and seek with Him like Adam and Eve.

Yet, as I look into the eyes of His special children, I realise that the enemies’ master plan is to divide and conquer. Let us not put our own image before His message. Let us have the confidence to expose ourselves emotionally in order for others to embrace their fragility.

It is for this reason alone that He needs us vulnerable. Vulnerable enough for us to recognize our divine calling. My calling is not to show you how determination, a polished image and positivity outlives the hard times.

None of it is about me…It’s all about Him. I am willing to shed the comfort of my ego, competent superficial veneer and shallow understanding of love and hope. Cracked open to the core of me as it blends and become more of Him.  Will you allow me the opportunity to share our journey?

**If you want me to speak unfiltered and unpretentious at your next event or to your corporate group or team please contact me today.

Hope…a word we use with so much familiarity. In everyday language we almost diminish it to something out of our control, a chance happening. “I can only hope it works out”. Or “I hope you feel better soon”. I realise I too have started viewing hope as an intangible, a place that only a select few gets to visit.  Something I believe in, but remains out of my reach. And as time passed and hope became more and more unfamiliar the fear of a hopeless end remained the only reality.

“What if she pass away?” “ What if I loose a loved one, or  have to go through a similar journey of brain injury and living loss.?” This fear slowly infiltrated my every observation… I hooked onto every news article dealing with daily accidents, trauma and loss. Confirming my every fear. The hopelessness it evoked left me with angst and an urgency to flee. I just wanted to get away. Away from the realness of everyday. Away from pain and suffering. Away from deeper connections and full commitment to life. I sensed myself becoming a robotic participant in life without allowing the vulnerability that immersion in life brings.

This was not how I wanted to be in life. I longed for hope to truly become mine. And the only way I could find it was at the feet of the One who promises this to us. Does he not say that he has plans for me of good and not evil, of a future and a HOPE. And this HOPE He offers is truly endless. It has no boundaries, no limitations, no restrictions, no time. It is for now, today, tomorrow and ever and ever.

I rested in this knowledge. Slowly opening the hard shell of self-protection I found myself in. I now know that hope isn’t a place I can go and visit. It’s a state of being. Hope is full immersion of Love into your heart. Hope is vulnerable, hope is strong, hope is energising, hope is courageous and audacious.

I hope that Hope will truly also become your companion and friend. May your hope be endless and endlessly connected in Him who gifts this sacred ability.

I have been silenced by the chaos in my heart and mind. Struggling to explain the noise of my own helplessness and the inability to quiet the fear that overtakes. I see her regress even as we fight a little harder. I am conscious of the passing of time and the societal expectation of settling in, moving on; coming to grips with…Yet I cannot. My grief intensifies as the layers of denial is chipped away. An axe hammering into the steadfast vision of hope. Tired, fatigued and battle weary I remain. Questioning the purpose of that which is now ours. Where lies the boundary between special and ordinary as I seek more of the mundane and less of this specialness I could do without. Time refuses to stand still and the great divide becomes even greater. As her preteen body develops my chest constricts with impossible decisions. How do I decide. Do we ride this wave of hormonal flux or do we get ahead of the inevitable? Unsettled becomes her status quo; uneasiness choking my motherly intuition. I cannot explain, or share, or find the words to instill some insight into our normal. However I might swallow silent tears as I see her peers. My spirit understands but my soul is weary. I feel torn, divided, removed, disconnected. A strong force pulling me from the rhythms and familiarity of aging. Her development wholly unique, her progression a continuous dance taking us back and forth. The things most take for granted; sleeping, eating, socializing, bodily functions and facial expressions mock us yet remain out of reach. A constant quest refusing to be conquered. The line between mother and child is blurry, how do I distinguish between our identities if her very existence depends on my intuitive ability to sense her needs? 

A tug of war, a push and pull, a heaviness yet it all seems superficial. To fully connect with life again, to invest when it can all be taken away so easily, so quickly, so utterly? O God, I need you to teach me… To pull me back from this place of desperation. To separate my emotions from my being. And to connect to Your Being again. I want to reach out to you in the stillness, silence and solitude of the One that transcends, transforms and forgives. Shine your Light in this moment upon my uncertainties and doubts… I need you Lord. 

Nine years ago, early summer morning in front of our home, we sit hand in hand. As husband and wife we pray and then he says, just before starting the ignition of the car: “Are you ready to meet your new best friend?” Because we are on our way to the hospital to have our firsborn – Juneldè.

She was the tiniest bundle, weighing only 2.7kg at full term. I first heard her strong feisty cry, and as she was laid upon my chest, I greeted her. “Hi my angel”; midcry she stopped, opened her eyes and stared at me with a scew little baby smile. This moment was uniquely captured on a photograph that I will treasure forever.

Earlier this week as I am browsing the clothing rack of a chain store searching for the perfect outfit for our birthday girl to wear, a sweet sadness envelopes me. I wish she could join me so that we can argue about what she wants to wear and what I want her to wear instead. However now I carefully select garments that would be easy to dress her spastic body in, that will provide accessibility to the feeding tube, that will be soft around her sensory sensitive body but still be age appropriate and gorgeous. At the same time I am so grateful to still be able to have her in my life to shop for…Moments like these remain bittersweet, the contrast between what is, what could have been and what should have been recocheting like a pendulum in my heart and mind.

This morning with nine pink cupcakes alight with colorful candles, whilst singing happy birthday, we march into her room. With sincere joy and authentic pure happiness we envelop her in love. And in that moment the bitterness subsides and only the sweetness off grace remains.

Thank you God for allowing me to be her mother these past nine beautiful, turbulent; hopeful; faith-filled years.