Last day of conference today. While it has been extremely hard at times I am SO glad I came. Being with people has helped me immensely. I have truly been riding on people’s prayers and God’s grace. There’s NO WAY in the natural I would be able to even come here, let alone sing, lift my hands and praise and worship God. It’s by God’s Grace and mercy and people’s prayers for me this is even happening. The speakers have all been excellent and the presence of God has been awesome. I have cried a fair bit. I am totally aware that I have nothing to give God. Really. I have no money, at this moment I can’t even say I have a house as it’s in probate. I have no job, I have my little dogs and my possessions and while I love my dogs (a ridiculous amount) possessions mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. And I got so upset about what God could actually do with me ( I knew what He could do with John and I…) and how He could use me and then the worship team sang a song “If you can use anything Lord, you can use me.” I don’t know how but I pray God will still use me in some way. It’s not easy to love Him or trust Him at the minute but I still do. And no He hasn’t given me a specific word yet, and part of me is a little sad and scared about that, but part of me is ok. Even if He doesn’t, what choice do I have but to trust Him. Really? He has done so much in my life, consistently. I still have MASSIVE character flaws which I worry about, I worry they will disqualify me from what He’s called me to do. I have ALWAYS wanted to be used by God and that has not changed. And if you had told me a month ago I would be talking like this I would have laughed in your face. I hope it lasts when I go home. I pray it does but I know grief is a weird thing and can throw you about so I’m trying to keep grounded too. But I’m doing my best to hold on. I’m grateful I came, I’m grateful for the ministry of Victory Outreach International, I’m grateful for my Pastors and leaders, I’m grateful for everything God has done in my life up until this point. 

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

‭‭Habakkuk‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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Here in LA at my churches 50th year anniversary conference. Had lots of time to think about things. And I have been thinking about how even though yes I have questioned God fiercely and deeply regarding why John died and how God could let it happen, and yes it has been a quieter relationship with Him than before John died, because I haven’t known what to say to God. But there are still things that are UNDENIABLE regarding John’s life and my life that cannot be or should be ignored.

 In 2003 John was a drug dealer and addict, he was heavily in debt to very serious people due to his gambling addiction, and found himself at an impasses regarding one of his debts, he was on £3,000 worth of cocaine a week and people were coming for him to get money he didn’t have. He was stood alone in the butcher shop he worked in and he heard the audible voice of God tell him he needed to get out of the life he was in. He rang his mum and she told him to come home. She reached out to a friend to see if she could get him in a rehab, and her friend knew of a church that ran a recovery programme for drug addicts in Manchester. It was the Victory Outreach Mens Recovery Home. The next day John was literally smuggled with a blanket over his head in case any one recognised him into the men’s recovery  and was the start of a new journey for him. They told him if he reached out to God in prayer he would have no withdrawal symptoms and sure enough he prayed and had NO withdrawal symptoms. He put his trust in God in the men’s home and God softened his heart. When you read the letters he wrote to his mum from that time you can see the change happen in the words he writes. He apologises to his family for all he put them through, he starts to want to see other people’s lives change. He experiences the provision of God and he longs to be a blessing to other people so that God can be involved in their lives too. When he graduated the men’s home he started doing just that. Blessing people so that they would be open to God in their lives. I met John in 2008 over the internet. He picked me at first cause I only live 40 mins away! When he told me his testimony I knew I had found someone as serious about God as I was. I had read some Christian biographies like Jackie Pullinger and also Nicky Cruz (I was totally unaware of how close Nicky Cruz was to Victory Outreach at that point, having never heard of them before). And I loved that John was a person God had radically changed. We dated for 3 months, I had UNDENIABLE words from God confirming our relationship. After 3 months dating we were engaged and 6 months after that we were married. When I first married John he still had street debts that he was paying off. My mum had passed away a few years before so I had her inheritance, so before we were married, so that we could have a clean slate I paid off his remaining street debt, and put down the deposit for our house. It was a miracle that we got a mortgage as John and ripped off so many banks due to his gambling addiction, he knew God was involved and providing for us. He believed he was blessed to be a blessing, and from the moment we were married he was just that, a blessing to many far and wide. Many people can testify about how God used John to bless them. He was the most amazing giver. He gave ALL the time. He hated to see people  (ESPECIALLY people with children) go without. And he worked SO hard so that he could earn enough money to be able to give away as much as he could. Being an amazing salesman in the meat industry enabled him to earn well, and he was able to give, food, money and pay for resources for people. And I loved it. I loved the kind generous heart God had given him. Many times I found him on the edge of the bed in the middle of the night crying over people who had little or who were in some kind of need. UNDENIABLY God had changed John’s life from gambling for money to get more and more, to earning money to give it away. 

So why is a grieving widow 6,000 miles away from home at a church conference (when she finds church incredibly difficult at the moment) where everyone is excited and praising God for 50 years of ministry. Because for 7 years, 7 months and 23 days when I woke up everyday I got to physically see how much God had changed John. It was an UNDENIABLE reality that he was no longer a gambling, drug dealing addict. He was a new creation. He had the most kindest generous heart I have ever seen. He thought and treated people with such compassion. And if it hadn’t of been for God using this ministry I would never have been married to him. I would never have had the awesome privilege to be his wife. So I am here, yes, it’s is overwhelmingly bitter sweet. Am I still grieving? oh yes possible more so, cause John was SO grateful God had used this ministry in his life, and it is UNDENIABLE to me. I wish he could be here to celebrate this, more than anything in all the world.  Part of me is representing him here, part of me is thanking God for using this ministry to changed John’s life, part of me is here to thank God for the people in this ministry He used to bring about change and development in John’s life. There are SO many people here that John looked up to and respected, and it is hard to see them if I’m honest, cause I know how much John loved and respected them and I just wish he was here. Part of me is here to acknowledge all that God did while we were married and to say thank you to Him for John and our marriage. (It breaks my heart to write that in the past tense) And part of me is desperate to hear from God about what I am to do now. 

These are some of the main UNDENIABLES, there are others. But I cannot ignore these. 

Please keep me in your prayers. I am grieving and have jet lag, not a good combination. I am doing my utter best to be strong and to try and enjoy myself. I know I have more than enough reason to not be strong but I don’t want to be a blubbering mess all the time. 

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Grateful to have made it to America, and for the hospitality shown to me. Currently Jet Lagging.. it 3am and I am wide awake after only have 4 hours sleep, after not sleeping for 24 hours while travelling. Woke up with this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach, was grateful when some girls from my church turned up to where I am staying, felt much better seeing them. Still got the feeling but I’m hoping it’s manageable. Had a very awkward moment yesterday where I introduced myself to someone I’d never met before and was like ‘Hi, I’m Vicky, nice to meet you.’ And then was totally thrown by what to say about myself…. like I would relate to people through either they might know John which they didn’t or that I did a ministry in church, but cause I haven’t been doing any ministry, I have nothing to say…. wow I didn’t realise how much identity that brought to me, obviously I am aware of the HUGE amount of identity John brought me and trying to navigate the loss of that is truly overwhelming, but I never saw this one coming. Now I’m like… who on earth am I? And what am I doing? It may just be jet lag but I feel terrible. I feel I am like a spare part. I definitely do not want to run back into ministry just for the sake of getting some identity I am aware of that, talk about wrong motives wow.. that would be awful. But also I can’t be in this limbo place forever… but I also can’t function properly yet either so….. head spinning. Body tired, mind awake. Gonna try and lie down maybe..

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Freaking out

Got admin to do with John’s business today, not looking forward to that… feeling very wobbly. Also off to California for 2 weeks with church tomorrow. Absolutely freaking out. Not sure I can do it. It feels so hard which is weird cause Ive been Ireland and Germany and Northern Ireland. Spoke at length with my bereavement counsellor about it yesterday and felt a bit better, but this morning my insides are going crazy. I don’t like it. I don’t want to be this anxious, I want to be ok. And I can’t seem to stop it. Grief is such a vile thing, so unpredictable and at times uncontrollable. Really not sure I can even do it. I really have to go now to as won’t be one time for the accountants and not even dressed… trying my hardest to get it together and its not working….. hoping this passes and I have a manageable day as I have loads to do in preparation for tomorrow.

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Little things… not so little

The thing about realising someone has died is that it is a process, it’s not like they die and you have the shock and then when that wears off you realise it, it takes time. A photo of John and I came up on Facebook and the angle of the camera meant you could really see his face and suddenly I realised that I would never feel the softness of his face again, and it’s so painful. The skin of his face and neck was so soft, like nothing I have ever felt. I remember when we were engaged, all I wanted to be able to do was put my face by his and kiss his neck. I tried to do it all the time when we were married, and he would only let me for a little bit, then shrug me off 🙂 it would be a fair estimation to say I’m in absolute pieces. There are moments where it’s so overwhelming, I feel I cannot take it. It’s 8:08am and how I’m going to face the rest of the day I have no idea. My heart is utterly broken. I loved John with everything in me, I loved every part of him. I totally adored him. Being without him is horrific, truly horrific.

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Woke up this morning, was ok, sorting my clothes out, cleaning my teeth, my little Yorkies were lying in the bed watching me so I lay down and cuddled them, brain switched to “Wonder what John would be doing now?” Cried so hard and so loud I was physically sick in bed 😞 Feel really rubbish now. Dogs scared too, but they have sat by me till I’ve calmed down, bless them, meant to be doing a lot today, feel like I can do none of it now, and the days a write off. Hopefully in a bit I will feel better and can carry on, but for now I feel exhausted and very sad. Grief is so unpredictable. 

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Feeling very strange. Really low and getting lower by the hour and I’m trying my hardest to fight it and nothing’s happening. Feel like I’m in sinking sand, it’s actually quiet frightening. I really don’t like it. I’ve never been like this before. I haven’t slept well for about 4 nights which might not be helping things, so am gonna take mild sleeping aid tonight, because I think if I’m tired I’m worse emotionally anyway so I’m hoping I sleep and will feel better…. mind you the time is 23:56 now…. we’ll I guess we will find out. 

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