Sunday, December 30, 2007

I am with the Picciuti clan for our Christmas time. It has been a DELIGHTFUL trip thus far. I plan on staying here until the first.

God has slooooowly been revealing a new truth to me. I am not ready to grieve Chuck's death. Me in all my wisdom assumed that dealing with Chuck's death should be #1 on the ol' agenda. Come's HUGE. How can that not be my #1 issue?

Alas, it's our "hospital time" that needs to be healed. Who'd a thunk? (I know, probably everybody but me!) This revelation both thrills and troubles me. I am relieved to know that I'm not crazy...that the reason my memories of Chuck center around the hospital is because I have unfinished business there. I never had time to catch my breath much less deal with all the sorrow and heartache of slowly losing the man I loved. Please pray as I enter this new stage of grief. Pray for courage as I face painful memories...questions of why...anger...pray I move toward peace and away from bitter resentment.

I feel as if I have a basic understanding of how to grieve Chuck's death...but how in the world do I grieve "a period" or "a series of events"? I know God will show me when I am ready...just as he revealed my need to let go of Chuck's death for a while and face the pain of his sufferings.

In an odd way, I feel refreshed and encouraged.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Since August 20, 2007, this blog has become an honest look at a frail human struggling to accept the love of a perfect God all the while grieving the loss of her soul mate...her delight...her true companion.

Currently I am struggling with my view of can so easily become warped...especially when I'm out of the word. I fall back into old patterns of thought..."Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2.

Thankfully, sometimes God rescues me from myself. I was praying for spiritual protection for a friend this morning, and the thought came to me to pray for my spiritual protection...which led to a time of confession...and boy did the truth come out...truth I had been hiding from myself. My view of God had become that of an who says he loves you but whose actions defy that profession. And there it was. No wonder I have been so depressed! I am feeling abandoned.

This is why it is VITAL that we write God's word on our hearts. The following verse came quickly: He will never leave nor forsake me...from "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

Ah faith...the Bible gives an excellent definition: "Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 12:1. I am a bit blind these days...but I HOPE God is here. I hope that he loves me. I hope that he is with me. I hope he tucks me in each night. I hope he kisses my cheek each morning. I hope he is thrilled every time I walk in the room. I hope he is wiping away my tears. I hope he is holding me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Slight Jan Picciuti

First of all, I LOVE the movie "Juno." I saw it yesterday. The main character is a delight. However, my heart was broken over the marriage of two of the characters.

My rant concerns disposable marriages. I know, it has become the way of the world. I know. It still breaks my heart. Don't get me wrong, I KNOW what it like to realize the person you married has changed...that he or she has not delivered on the happy quotient...that he or she can bring out the worst in you...that you do not like who you have become within the marriage. I know because I was married and WE ALL GO THROUGH THAT, especially if we've been in it for a while.

Here's the deal...marriage is to make you make you loving. It is the very training ground for LOVE. It is where we learn to be just the tiniest bit self-less. It is a vast which we plant seeds of kindness...pull the weeds of selfishness...sometimes wait through the drought of dissatisfaction...and eventually reap a harvest. It is not easy. At times it may not be, at times it WILL NOT BE HAPPY. God did not intend for marriage to be "it"...the source of your joy and fulfillment. If you trust God with your when you are displeased, dissatisfied, love...your heart will be filled with affection for your spouse. God will deliver on this! Maybe not today...keep watering...reach out in kindness. Your heart will overflow with affection.

I love marriage. I love God's design for teaching us how to treat others with gentleness.

Rant over.
Today is much better. I awoke with a grateful heart...always a good sign. It's funny looking back over my "baaaaaaaaad day." I feel like a brat. It takes a bit of work to be surrounded by sweet reminders of how much God loves me...and still be lost in a funk.

The Cs were so very, very good to me Christmas eve and Christmas day. I was surrounded by love, hugs, sweet gifts, hugs, fun, and hugs.

S made so many neat gifts for me...several of them cool pictures of Chuck. My favorite one is the only picture that exists of Chuck, me, and K. K is about one. She is sitting on Chuck's lap and I am leaning in close to Chuck...of course. The three of us are holding hands...a jumble of intertwined fingers...too cute.

S also had my favorite verse framed on funky paper:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My sadness and grief have found their sad today. Once again, I figured out how to get through Christmas, and I pushed through...leaving God behind as I did not like his ways. (Round and round I go...much like the Isrealites in the book of Judges...I feel I know a better way so I unwittingly turn away from God; I crash and burn and realize I've left God behind; I turn back to God and he lovingly embraces me; after a while I feel confident and start to think I can do it better and turn away from God...round and round I go!)

I miss Chuck. My heart is broken. I am mad that I have to turn to God...because I'm angry with him...and what's worse than having to turn to the one you are mad at to ask for their stinkin help????

So...I begin my morning with the realization of my turning isolation from God and his anger...crying to God and reaching out to him but being mad at him at the same time..."stupid God."

I called Shea for help with prayer...but she wanted me to start. Here was my part, "Why are you leaving me here? This hurts. I know enough to know this is where you want me...but I don't like this." Hmmm...great opening, huh?

Shea did the stuff I did not realize I still needed to do...she asked for comfort from God...she asked him to bring me peace.

I find it hard to ask for something that seems so impossible...especially from the one who has left me in the pit o' sorrow!

So, I thank God for Shea...for the push to ask for the impossible...for the push to turn to my loving Father who wants to hold me while I cry...even as I beat him on the chest to tell him how much I hate him...he just lets me beat until I'm exhausted. Then he holds me close while I bury my face in his chest and cry.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

This is me, the C kiddos, and "the memory candle" on Christmas Eve. I've kept the candle lit all day today...lovely way to keep Chuck present during the festivities!

Last night at dinner K sweetly commented, as only a three-year-old can, "Uncle Chuck is not in the hospital anymore." At first I winced...that sort of honesty is typically skirted these days. G quickly came to the rescue and we all smiled at the thought of where Chuck is and what he is doing. We are all certain that Jesus has questioned Chuck...more than once..."So how many times are you going to make the same crack about my age????"

G supposes that a more probable conversation went something like this:

Chuck: "Jesus, really, just tell me one more time how old you are and I'll stop asking. Really. Just one more old are you this year?"

Jesus, after thinking it over for a second. "Really, Chuck? This will really be the last time?"

Chuck: "Yeeeeeessss. I promise."

Jesus: "Alriiiiiight...I'm 2007, give or take."

Chuck, after a pregnant pause. "So Jesus, how old are you this year?"

Monday, December 24, 2007

This year I am keenly aware of the difference between the two types of Christmases that we celebrate.

I have loooong been a fan of secular Christmas. Being a bit of a dreamer, I relish the magical fun of Santa...surrounding myself in make-believe...suspending disbelief...ahhh. But this year there is no magic. The secular Christmas reminds me of what I am missing...the songs are all about fun, family, being together with the ones you love. The problem with it is that it all ends...come 10 a.m. Christmas morning the magic is gone...dormant for another year.

Everything surrounding the Christmas that celebrates the birth of Christ (yes, by a few months) is full of hope...hope that does not end. At this time, I am clinging to the carols that celebrate the birth of Jesus...the wonder of such love!

Here are a few phrases from my faves...words of hope:

"O Come All Ye Faithful"
O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,

"Silent Night"
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee to-night.

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing"
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Risen with healing in his wings,
Light and life to all he brings,

"Away in a Manger"
Be near me Lord Jesus,
I ask thee to stay.
Close by me forever,
And love my I pray.

Bless all the dear children,
In thy tender care.
And take them to heaven,
To be with thee there.

"Joy to the World"
No more let sins and sorrows grow,

"Oh Holy Night" MY FAVORITE!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

As Christmas approaches this year, I find myself drawn to Mary and Joseph. I've watched "The Nativity Story" several times, and am touched by their love story. (I have a bit of a crush on Joseph.) You get glimpses of the gentle souls that raised Jesus. One of my favorite scenes is when Joseph falls asleep, exhausted from the trek to Bethlehem. His feet are dirty and bloody. Mary oh so gently washes as not to wake him...talking to her baby about the great man that will be his father...foreshadowing the loving act Jesus will bestow upon the ones he loves.

I also love the scene when Mary and Joseph are sitting by a campfire. They haven't really talked about what's going on...her unexplained pregnancy...the fact that he decides to marry her anyway. She knows he changed his mind about "divorcing her" or accusing her of adultery because of a visit from an angel. She asks him what the angel told him.

"To not be afraid...that you have conceived from the holy spirit."

"Are you afraid?" she asks.

"Yes. Yes I am," he smiles does she...happy to have a co-conspirator in this crazy scheme of God's.

This song is a bit long...but oh so worth it. "Breathe of Heaven...hold me forever near me...lighten my darkness...pour over me your holiness...."

Friday, December 21, 2007

While grieving Chuck, I never know what I'm gonna get. Each morning I wake up and it's a surprise. This morning I was blessed with memories long ago buried. (Currently my memories of Chuck revolve around our time in the hospital. I am trying to accept it as part of my journey...but how I long for happy memories of our life together before the hospital.)

This morning I was greeted with a GREAT memory...the Christmas before Chuck and I got married. Fourteen years ago, I was home in Spearman...getting ready to tie the knot with Chuck! I just remember how giddy I felt the whole time. That Christmas was magical because I was preparing to spend "the rest of my life" with the man of my dreams. What a beautiful snap shop...that giddyness is seeping back into my heart as I remember. Oh, this feels so good! For this joyous and deliriously happy memory...long forgotten, I praise God!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I am so proud of Chuck...for so many reasons. Last night I was reminded of a precious gift that he gave to some very dear boys. Chuck and I belonged to the same small group for 7 years. It just happened to be filled with boys. We have watched in awe as Jacob, Marcus, Hunter, Grant, Paul J, David, Travis, Josh and Luke have grown into some of the best Texas Hold Em players in the state (thank you very much Chuck).

Four of "our boys" are well on their way to becoming men, so they came to see Chuck the night he died. Initially I agonized over the decision, but God assured me, "Chuck has one more lesson to share." It was beautiful to watch.

Just last night Lois (mom of H and G) told me that Chuck was the boys' first encounter with death...and it was a good one. What an honor! They saw that death is not scary. They saw and joined in the celebration at the memorial service and commented on how fun it happy. How cool is that? The rest of their lives will be shaped by this encounter with death.

Jacob humbled us all with his words. Aparently Chuck taught him more than poker. One evening the Zapatas were at our home. Chuck and Jacob were alone...and Chuck mentioned to him, "Everyone dies, Jacob. But not everyone lives." Jacob, too, will hold onto that for the rest of his life.

Is there any greater lesson on life? How to live so that when death comes, celebration is in order.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I think the time has come to share the traditional Chuck-and-Jan Christmas greeting. I warn you though, once you start using it, it could be hard to revert back to "Merry Christmas!" This may lead to some awkward social situations.

But first, the story. About eight years ago, Chuck and I were on our way to a Christmas party at the Kuennings. Between our homes was the friendly, neighborhood, adult video store. A man can tearing out of the parking lot onto the access road and cut right in front of us. I muttered, "Jerk," under my breath but quickly realized how un-holiday-spirited my comment was. It was Christmas time. So I rolled down my window, waved, and shouted, "Merry Christmas! Enjoy the porn!"

Thus, our annual holiday greeting.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My all-purpose verse = Romans 12:12

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

I think that just about covers every contingency!

Friday, December 14, 2007

God and I came to blows last night..."You could have prevented this! I am soooooooo MAD at you. Why? Why leave me like this? Why? YOU COULD HAVE STOPPED THIS." Lots of tears...lots of expressing myself...lots of uncovered anger. Whew.

God's blessings are new every morning....

I had some "issues"...some fears of being disciplined by God. Did I do something wrong? I have gone through such a long period of "suffering"...three and half years of faithfulness met with struggle, struggle, struggle. Did I do something wrong? (Often...a misunderstanding of who God is can lead to such damage...such heartache...and know that Satan LOVES this...taking a bit of truth and twisting it just so that it separates us from God.)

I was gently reminded...NO, God is not disciplining me...he is not punishing me...he is in the process of using my painful journey to bless me.

A question was raised to me this morning...why would all of this happen to me OTHER than to build my character? (that answer was not allowed) I could not come up with anything...and the idea was presented...HEY, this pain in your life...Chuck's suffering and death...they are because WE LIVE IN A FALLEN WORLD. We live in a mean, bitter, broken, battered, crushing, heartless fallen world. We are not at home yet...we are foreigners. If I am to be mad...Satan is my target. My suffering is the result of living in this fallen world...that I often try to call home. BUT WAIT...God makes ALL things work together for good. That's the hope he offers. He allows the junk...he does not cause breaks his heart. While we live here, we will have trouble...but he will USE it for good. Rather than let evil rule absolutely...God uses Satan's handywork to bring blessing and hope.

In my up and down whirlwind of emotions..."God is sooo mean to me...God is so good to me...God has turned his back to me...God has taken tender, loving care of me..." it was amusing and reassuing to "hear" myself in Lamentations 3. Read it. It's even better if you hear it. To hear it, go here and enter Lamentations 3:

Lamentations 3:1-40
1 I am the man who has seen affliction
by the rod of his wrath.

2 He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;

3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.

4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.

5 He has besieged me and surrounded me
with bitterness and hardship.

6 He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.

7 He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
he has weighed me down with chains.

8 Even when I call out or cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer.

9 He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
he has made my paths crooked.

10 Like a bear lying in wait,
like a lion in hiding,

11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me
and left me without help.

12 He drew his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.

13 He pierced my heart
with arrows from his quiver.

14 I became the laughingstock of all my people;
they mock me in song all day long.

15 He has filled me with bitter herbs
and sated me with gall.

16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.

17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.

18 So I say, "My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the LORD."

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.

20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.

21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence,
for the LORD has laid it on him.

29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.

30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.

31 For men are not cast off
by the Lord forever.

32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.

33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to the children of men.

34 To crush underfoot
all prisoners in the land,

35 to deny a man his rights
before the Most High,

36 to deprive a man of justice—
would not the Lord see such things?

37 Who can speak and have it happen
if the Lord has not decreed it?

38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that both calamities and good things come?

39 Why should any living man complain
when punished for his sins?

40 Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the LORD.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Funny, funny, funny (not ha ha) how things sneak up on you. All day long I have been agitated...frustrated...dissatisfied...unable to focus. I keep asking myself, "What is it? What's wrong?"

I'm sad. That's it.

I did not realize that I have been trying to be happy. I DON'T WANT TO BE HAPPY. I've been trying to make the most of Christmas. I DON'T WANT TO MAKE THE MOST OF CHRISTMAS. I do not want to do Christmas without Chuck. I am MAD that I will have to...cause Christmas is coming...and Chuck is gone. There's no way around this.
I got an email of sweet encouragement from a friend who had just watched the video celebrating Chuck's of course, I had to rewatch.

Wow, I was completely overwhelmed with the reminder of the love and support from all of you. I should live the rest of my days in continual gratefulness...of course, I often get in the way of that. Look what you did! Look. Thank you...words far too inadequate to express my heart. I will never be able to thank you enough for what you did and continue to do for Chuck and me. My heart feels as if it will burst with joy and sadness all at once. Wow, what a beautiful life. What amazing friends. What incredible love.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I feel like I need a p.s. with the last post. Anger is not the enemy...bitterness is the enemy. In fact, all the previous "grief emails" have been on the "gift" of anger. However, not dealing with anger in an honest manner leads to all sorts o' bitterness.
First of all, thank you for all the kind words! Please know how they soothe me.

Okay, today's "grief email" 73 for those keeping track...still cracks me up that the days are on bitterness. Oi. I thought I'd share it as the words are healing and wise. (I do not want to become bitter! It is my personal belief that bitterness keeps a wound open and painful...but how to heal it??? Ah, that is my stay gentle and open.)

Anger Can Lead to Bitterness
Day 73

Your perspective on people and life can become poisoned by bitterness. Bitterness never makes things right, never satisfies your heart, and will always block your journey through grief. See bitterness as your enemy and flee from it.

Dr. Tim Clinton says, "Resentment is anger with a history. And bitterness? A lot of people become bitter over life's issues. It's often said that when you're dealing with hardship and hurt in your life, and great pain, you can either become bitter or you can become better. Challenge yourself always to let God do a work through you so you can become stronger and more effective."

The history that bitterness dwells on is like a stack of IOUs of what you think people should have done and how situations should have worked out. The only way to be free is to tear up the IOUs and let the bitterness go.

Bitterness prevents you from being able to receive God's free gift of grace.

"See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled" (Hebrews 12:15 NASB).

Lord Jesus, remove the poison of bitterness from my life, and let me see Your good work in this situation. Amen.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I survived...and pictures are coming. I haven't posted yet because I'm not sure how to explain the event...I reckon I'll just take you through the run.

First of all, my suspicions have been validated, I am NOT a real poser! Before the race even started I had a melt down and started crying. I couldn't find the porta potty! Thankfully after many phone calls with Shea in which each of us kept moving through the crowd, "Where are you?...under the flag? I don't see you. Stop moving! I can't find you if you keep moving," Shea found me, gave me a hug, and tried to encourage me. She was in her element, looking like a kid on Christmas morning. Her comment on the "energy" surrounding the marathon was, "Isn't this great? This is what you've trained for. This is what it's all about!" And my silent response was, "I may have made the biggest mistake of my life. Dear Lord deliver me from this hell." However, I managed a "Yeah, this is great."

After a final hug for luck, Shea left me to continue my quest for the porta potties, which I successfully found near the starting line. Now that is something everyone should experience at least once...the looooong line, the dropping of the dignity and hygiene as runners, male and female, link arms in their goal to lighten the load before the pounding begins.

I have read somewhere, "Hope is asking God for rain. Faith is brining an umbrella." Well I had hoped for cool weather...and had some friends praying for it. Alas, I did not expect a positive answer to the uh, I wasn't fully prepared for the cold rain that ensued throughout the run. Blessedly I brought a hoodie with me. By the end of the race, the hoodie was about 5 pounds heavier. Nonetheless, it kept my hands and arms warm for most of the race.

The started out beautifully. I felt really good...nice cool weather...even pace...lovely scenery. "My group" turned out to be the speed, I was not the fastest. Those people can really move it! They walked and wiggled, I ran and trudged.

One of my favorite parts was the "sign" that followed me throughout. This one couple kept popping at various points with a sign that read, "This seemed like such a good idea in September." No words had ever rung so true.

I tried to embrace everything as it unfurled...not really knowing what to expect. I did not expect the pain nor did I expect the power of whispered words from fellow runners..."Come on. Just a little further," words that were repulsive coming from the crowd of on-lookers, but full of hope and promise when spoken from fellow participants. I did not expect it to be an act of worship.... The best definition I've heard for worship is "the soul's response to God anytime you are truly aware of the heavenly Father." Was I ever aware...I thanked him over and over for my body, my strong legs, my healthy lungs...then I became keenly aware of their limitations.

I cried throughout...I know, no big surprise there. However, when a girl ran by with "In memory of my dad," printed on the back of her shirt...I started hyperventilating.

The run got painful around mile 11. So many muscles were cramping...I have no idea what was hurting...but WOW! The following became my mantra..."Run with and not grow weary...walk and not faint...." The more painful it got, the more I cried as I repeated the phrases...hoping they were true. THEN I SAW SHEA AND KAM. They appeared right when I started the run-until-the pain-gets-too-much...walk-a-few-steps portion. I kept trying to run...but the pounding and cramping hurt unbelievably. The more it hurt, the more I thought of Chuck and his many battles with pain. I was no Chuck Picciuti! Shea appeared once more right near the end. I started really crying then...which lead to some more hyperventilation. I could see the finish...and Shea had to get behind the barricade. This is when God sent angels in the form of runners to whisper in my ear..."Come on. We're almost there...."

I finished! It took 3 hours and 13 minutes. And then I hyperventilated.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Tomorrow is the BIG day. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. Greg, Shea and I drove in yesterday. Upon seeing the Dallas skyline, I burst into tears...that was unexpected. So much emotion tied to this town...who'd a thunk...Dallas of all places.

After getting our race packets, we headed over to Baylor Specialty. I told Shea and Greg, "Let's just drive there. If I cry too much, or get too sad, we'll leave." Upon seeing the neighborhood...the familiar building, I was filled with fond I rushed inside. Talk about God's timing...ALL of the wound-care staff was there...including Dr. D. (That happens rarely! Okay, so I did not see Michelle or Betty...but still). It was great to hug everyone, tell them "THANK YOU," and just take in the place that brought such healing to Chuck (and me.)

Someone shared this verse with me for my run:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1).

It calls to mind many being that Chuck is in my cloud of witnesses...he'll be cheering! Another is that God has marked out my path...and I am to run run with perseverance...trusting in the path before me!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"Brave" by Nichole Nordeman is one of my FAVORITE songs..."you make me want to be brave." In any case, I heard it on the radio this morning and was struck by a lyric I had never caught before...

But if you believe in me,
that changes everything.

What an amazing and beautiful and TRUE concept. Yes, I believe in God. But here's the clincher...HE BELIEVES IN ME...and it's true, that changes everything. That blows my mind! He, creator of the universe, believes in me. How do I know that I can get through this time of pain? Because God believes in me. How can I trust that my heart, though crushed under the weight of grief, will come out on the other side bigger and stronger? Because God believes in me; he believes in Mom and Dad; he believes in Christy and Tony; he believes in all of us who were close to Chuck. That changes everything.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

This Sunday is the BIG day...marathon day. I cannot believe how excited I am about it. My history with participating in sporting events involves DREAD. So this is a lovely and welcome change!

The White Rock Marathon allows you to "run for a cause." My cause, technically, is sanity...but I listed it under "for Chuck." This is my entry. I HOPE they take note, or honor it in some way. That would be waaaay cool.

I am running in memory of my husband, Chuck Picciuti. He fought a courageous battle for 15 months. At the young age of 37, he died.

He spent 9 months of his fight at Baylor Specialty where he won the hearts of all his care takers. Though Chuck suffered great physical agony, he never complained. He encouraged and inspired all who knew him. His humor brought comfort and delight to many. His nurses adored him for his generous spirit. His doctors were awed by his determination and resiliency. Chuck lived every moment of his short life, encouraging the rest of us to follow suit.

Chuck was a force to be reckoned with. He was my hero. I run for him.

Monday, December 03, 2007

This year, more than ever, I find great comfort and joy in the birth of Jesus. One of my favorite Christmas songs is "Mary Did You Know?" (best sung with a sultry female my humble opinion) And the answer way. No way did she know what she was getting into when she said yes! All she knew was that God called her and he could be trusted. As she watched her baby boy grow into a man who was she endured his torture, begging for God to let them trade places...and as she stayed with him through his death...most likely standing right where he could see she could offer her love by being present...not turning away from his pain. She had no idea...but she knew God...she knew she could trust what was much as she could not fathom its purpose, she knew.

(For your viewing pleasure, I am offering two versions of the song...same singer different illustrations. The version that truly captures my intent is the second...but it is VERY graphic...R rated. Thus, I am offering a PG version in option 1.)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Yesterday was fantabulous all the way around! Ross, Tod, Roland and I met with Stephen at TLC. Stephen gave us some great direction for what camp needs. This lead to THE THREE MEMORIAL IDEAS. Yipppee! I am so excited and can't wait for you to see them. It will be soon.

Later we had our annual camp Christmas party. Last year everyone came to Dallas so Chuck could be a part of it. He was still a part of it this year. His presence was felt everywhere yesterday. Quite obviously...the day began with CAMP. Then we went to his favorite restaurant for lunch. Someone brought pecan logs for all the adults (a story I did not even know until yesterday...Chuck apparently thought a Stucky's pecan log was the "ultimate gift" pass back and forth among friends). We played "Outburst," one of Chuck's faves. I received a gift fitting of the unique Christmas greeting Chuck and I used...the greeting needs some explanation...for another day. Then there was the picture of Chuck and Eloise...Paul found it recently. Chuck and Eloise...both living it up in Heaven now...are all giggly. Eloise is reaching out across the table to touch...or punch him. I'm certain Chuck just said something hilarious...and inappropriate.

It was a GREAT beginning for the month of December.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Oh that I may "overflow with hope." Romans 15:13 reads "May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." It's a comfort to me to know that hope is not a state I reach in my own strength. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that will pour the good stuff out in me. Whew. I'm I cling to the promises in God's word. I often find that I do not feel the things scripture declares..."peace that passes understanding," "overflowing with hope," etc. It is in these times faith stands in the gap...I know God's promises are true and will come to pass. I cling to truth and wait for my feelings to catch up.

On to a totally different topic...I just got a card from my piano teacher. Could you not just die? Before I even need it, God prompts these wonderful people from my CHILDHOOD to reach out to me. His timing is perfect...because voila...this morning I got a big dose of encouragement! I feel so blessed to have been raised in a small town. I feel so blessed that the very folks who raised me (my community) are continuing to guide and encourage me. THANK YOU GOD! I love you Spearman. I love you!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Okay Chuck's high school crew has set up THE PERFECT scholarship in his honor. It will be awarded to a deserving drama student. As you can well imagine, setting up a scholarship in Chuck's honor is a little tricky. A) Chuck did not like school. B) He was lucky to keep a C average. C) College? Eh...maybe. (God love him.)

So Cory, Darrin, Jamie, Tony (any others?) brainstormed some ideas for the scholarship. The recipient should be a drama student. In Cory's words, it should go to someone who is "not necessarily the best actor or actress, but the person who contributed the most to the overall betterment of the department." What Chuck added...wherever he went...was an element of humor. Chuck bettered everything he was a part of because he brought levity.

Okay, so now what to call it? It MUST be in keeping with Chuck's personality. Cory, a fellow "Simpsons" fan, suggested...

"Chuck Picciuti Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence."

Genius...pure genius. I KNOW Chuck would heartily approve...he'd laugh...he'd nod...he'd drum his fingers together and declare, "Eeeexcellent!"

To get the back story on the episode from which the title was plucked, check out:,_Can_You_Spare_Two_Dimes%3F

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

At Grief Share last night we went over "the top twenty lessons of grief." This is not a Biblical list, but rather a sampling of lessons from fellow grievers:

#20 God uses suffering for good. As is noted with Jesus' crucifixion, very good things (eternal life/victory over death) come out of very bad things.

#19 Life was always out of control. Though we think we make the schedules and we determine our paths...they are all susceptible to God's revision.

#18 Delusions of strength will hurt us. "Self-sufficiency is a terrible place to be." If we "act" as if we are fine when we are not, we do more harm than good. It is not by our strength that we are healed anyway. As Paul notes in Romans 12:10, it is in our weaknesses that we are strong. (Only when we come to the of our own strength do we experience real strength...God's strength.)

#17 Enlisting help helps us heal. If I we keep to ourselves...we get stuck with our own thoughts...nothing new filters in. In sharing with others, we get input and fresh perspectives.

#16 Pray, pray, pray. This is the time to get real with God. Cry out to him. Yell at him. Not only can he handle our anger and pain, he can cover us with unimaginable comfort and peace.

#15 Let go of the spotlight. Initially we need help and are quite dependent upon others. However, we are not to rely on continued help. At some point, we must do the work...figure out the Internet, educate ourselves concerning finances. It takes work to grow.

#14 To heal, begin serving others. We are to share the comfort we've received. Our ability to serve will grow as we heal. However, we must grieve first. Do not put our grief on hold. Above all else, help others depend on God.

#13 Grief exposes our beliefs. It reveals any gaps between what we say we believe and what we really believe.

#12 The Bible is essential for healing. Scripture tells the truth about life and death. Without the truth of the Bible, we fall into the thinking of the world...thinking that leads to self and to separation from God.

#11 Grief teaches us what is important. It can lead to positive changes; like spending more time and energy on the people we love. However, it is a reminder that only what's done for Christ will last...all else fades whether in months, years, decades, or centuries...all else will fade.

#10 Knowing why will not take away pain. Really there an adequate answer? No, of course not.

#9 Ease back into church. For some, church is a painful reminder of our losses, especially if a funeral was held there. For some, church was a partnered event with sentimental strings. Go slowly if you need to. Go for worship...then leave. Go late and get there for the message. No rush.

#8 Our thinking and behavior affects our feelings. We can get stuck with "good" lies, such as "I am more deserving of a marriage than them;" "It's okay for me to be demanding and selfish;" "I deserve to be bitter and angry." These "good" lies justify bad behavior. We must tell ourselves the truth. (See #12!)

#7 Our joy will return. Deep sorrow expands our capacity for joy.

#6 Grief isn't our biggest problem. What is grief but the collision of a troublesome experience (death) with our character defects. (We are a fallen people in a fallen world.) If the grief was taken away...the character defects would remain. What a wonderful time to look inward and have God heal our defects of character.

#5 God is good. After all, he took care of our sin issue for us. Our greatest need is not for happiness, but for reconciliation with God. God is the one who has himself entered into the suffering and brokenness of the human condition; the one who has borne death for things like our spiritual problems. For instance, he covers the fact that we take refuge in the wrong places...that we try to do things our own way...that we hurt others.

#4 Time does not heal all wounds. Time alone can mute the pain, but it will not heal it. Only God can heal a broken heart. Without God, we may have some relief from the pain, but we will never have healing.

#3 God uses suffering to help us grow. God will take us where we do not want to go to do in us what we are unable to do in ourselves. As noted in John 15:2, "for every branch that bears fruit, he prunes (ouch) so that it will bear more fruit."

#2 Joy and pain can coexist. We want out of pain. However, the pain of death never goes away completely. Pain will exist. Our memories will be bitter sweet. For the rest of our time on earth, our moments of joy will be seasoned with pain. However, our pain can be seasoned with joy! As Jesus said in John 16:33 "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

#1 God is sovereign (in control). The same God that planned Christ' death planned our loved ones' deaths. We are not victims of circumstance. We must accept the contingencies of the "if only's" as part of God's plan and purpose. (If only he had surgery. If only she had NOT had surgery. If only the doctors had... If only I had been more attentiive, more aware, more....) Everything is filtered through God's love for us...for our good and for his glory.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I am suddenly, and unexpectedly, overjoyed with the thought that the marathon is TWO WEEKS AWAY. It is on Dec. 9...and just looking at the calendar I feel giddy. I've not written about my training because it has been dreadfully disappointing. I had FOUR WEEKS...yes FOUR...of bad runs. While there's nothing quite as exhilarating as a good run, there's nothing quite as disheartening as a bad one...and FOUR WEEKS? I cannot tell you the number of times I called Shea in the past two weeks, "I don't think I can do this. Even my short runs are going poorly. Perhaps it is wise to quit? Should I quit? I'm going to quit. It's not that big a deal, just quit? I'm quitting."

Nonetheless, I kept plodding away...seriously...PLODDING, and was finally rewarded. Here I was, two weeks away, facing my longest run (2 hours and 30 minutes). I was supposed to run Saturday...but I kept putting it off "due to weather." (Yeah, whatever.) I finally did it last night...and it went GREAT. Not only did the run go well...I am FULLY convinced I can do this now. I ran at least 10 miles (that would be at a 15 minute/mile pace...I'm a bit faster than ...but not much!) My full distance will only be 13.1 miles. I can do this!
This is my ode to Ecclesiastes. Yes, yes, I adore the book. I've heard a couple of theories on the was a man going through a mid-life was a man questioning life after the death of someone dear. Whatever the case, it is a book of grief and loss...and all the questions that ensue.

I mentioned earlier that God is using my grief to pull me close. God's view of grief is so very different from the world' is a time of beauty and reflection:

Ecclesiastes 7: 2-4:

2 It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.

3 Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.

4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kelli, Madison, and Hadley left Saturday. Before Kelli left she made sure my house was painted, cleaned, and that my Christmas tree was up! She and the kids were such a blessing. I cried and cried once they left.

I remembered this time to pour out my heart to tell him where it hurt, and how much it hurt. I wonder if this inclination will ever become second nature? I do know this, God is using my grief to pull me teach me more of his show me the truth of his word.

I am thankful that God took great care in providing just what I needed to not only survive the holiday without Chuck, but joyfully participate in the festivities.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! I am feeling particularly blessed...because today was perfection. Don't know about you guys, but I was pretty apprehensive about the first holiday without Chuck. However, God granted me a day of joy, love, fun...reminders of all that I have to be thankful for.

The day began with PERFECT running weather. Then it was off to the Coplens for food and family. Afterwards, we took the kids to the church for games. Our church hosted a children's home group...and it felt just like camp...lots of running, laughing, playing. I had forgotten how much fun it is to play like that! We rounded off the day with the movie "Enchanted."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Go see "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium"! Granted, I had excellent company for the movie, but nonetheless...GO. It is infused with "Chuck-isms." I will not give them away...and I'm certain you will spot them...ESPECIALLY the cameo appearance by one dearly loved actor.

I must comment on how much fun I had with my nieces and nephews. My sisters are raising such NEAT kids! They are all clever, thoughtful, fun...and have the Crawford SUPER dry sense of humor.

I thank God for the DELIGHTFUL children in my life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I went to my grief share group last night and got a shot in the arm. Whew. The one point that really stuck with me was to WAIT FOR HEALING. This pain is a test point in my faith. Do I wait for him to take me through this (years of sorrow), or do I take matters into my own hands to bring about some instant relief? Do I become self-reliant...self-sufficient? My flesh cries for instant relief...instant gratification. I praise God that he has set in my heart the truth that HE can be trusted. He brought us all through so much with Chuck. He rescued Chuck at just the right time. I KNOW God is faithful. So I guess I'll just kick back and wait (Ha! Easier said than done)...and praise God along the way.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Three rays of sunshine arrived last night...thank you God! My sister, Kelli, and her two kids, Madison and Hadley, came to stay for the holiday. It is a JOY (in the midst of this depression) to have them here. Talk about timing...that God knows what he's doing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Oh the woes of being a "good girl." I am depressed, and I actually had to get permission before I just let go. Funny, I've been a believer for years...but I still don't get the grace least not down in my bones. I am still trying to earn points for good behavior. I reckon this will take the rest of my life...I know God is changing me, changing my heart, but OH SO SLOOOOOWLY.

So here's my struggle on top of being depressed. I still work under the "good girl" which I am rewarded for good behavior and punished for bad behavior. In my economy, being depressed is bad, bad, bad. It is turning my back on God. Yep...nothing further from the truth...I'm telling you, me and Satan are walking much closer these days than I'd like. He whispers to me day and night...and I believe. So PLEASE pray concerning truth...and discernment.

In any case, I was depressed for days and spent all my energy trying to fight it...when God swooped in with what I needed. I needed truth from scripture. DEPRESSION IS PART OF GRIEVING. It is part of God's design for healing.

Then I was reminded of the book of Ecclesiaties. It has always been one of my favorites...I appreciate the honest search of a broken heart...questions that lead to truth. My friend said I sounded just like the author of Ecclesiaties..."Why does any of this matter? Why should I get close to people if they're just going to die? Everyone is going to leave why, why, why get comfortable? Why believe that I can be happy again when it will all just end with sorrow? Why? Why? Why? It is ALL MEANINGLESS. LIFE IS MEANINGLESS." Yep, I'm living Ecclesiates.

But I digress...I still have a hard time believing that I can do nothing that will make God love me less...nor can I do anything to make him love me more. He loves me, end of story. I am the apple of his eye whether I like it or not! (And being a proud one...I do NOT like receiving anything that I have not earned. It chaps my hide to be on the receiving end of kindness when I have done nothing to earn it or worse, prove myself shamefully unworthy due to bad behavior!) Alas, I can do NOTHING to change God's outpouring of grace towards me.

So, what I'm trying to say in all this jumping from topic to topic is BROTHER, AM I DEPRESSED! (Clearly, inablity to focus is a sign of depression!!!) No, I don't stay in bed...but perhaps I should try it. I tend to fight all my natural instincts. I want to just stop...stop moving, stop breathing, stop everything. I want to cease to exist. Pooooof...I'm gone...all traces of me disappear....I never even existed. My pain never existed. Too does not work that way. Note to self...this is where I'm supposed to be. God wants me here...and I will not deviate until we're done with this portion of grieving. (Thus far, this is my LEAST favorite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Friday, November 16, 2007

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

This was a rough week...but things are perking up. I was in a pretty deep funk...feeling everything was hopeless...wanting to just stay in bed. Classic. Thank you those who have been praying for me...ESPECIALLY those who have prayed against spiritual attacks. It has been pretty ugly, and I was too weak to even pray for myself...too depressed. I got stuck in "for rest of my life" syndrom rather than "today." SO THANK YOU, for being strong when I was weak.

I am giddy about my date with Celis this evening. It feels good to be giddy. Celis could not be a better choice for an outing. We are dressing up, going out for dinner, and then off to a play. She is so much fun...growing into a very cool young lady (sorry Shea...I mean she is still a precious little girl.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Responsible journalism lesson to me...I included the verse from Deuteronomy but failed to explain that I was using God's definition of life rather than ours. Sorry if I caused undue stress.

Life = "to love the LORD your God; to walk in his ways; and to keep his commands, decrees and laws."

Death = "to turn your heart away from God; to be disobedient; to be drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Here's the deal. I'm about done with this mourning business. All of a sudden, I cannot stand to see the "grieving" literature, the sympathy cards, the memorial stuff, pictures of Chuck, his clothes...all reminders of my current state are repulsive to me. I want to run and hide. I want to escape this "death" business. I am clinging to the verse..."Choose life" from Deuteronomy 30:19. I don't know if I'm running away from death, running toward life, or just trying to escape the helplessness that accompanies grief. In any case, I'm tired and I want to quit. However, God has set before me life and death...though it seems easier to choose death...just for today I will choose life. Each day I will tell myself, "Just for today, choose life."

Deuteronomy 30:15-20.
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My "birthday weekend" was fantastic. G, Turn, and Min arrived Friday. I quickly introduced them to Brindles, best ice cream shop in the world. In our short three-day visit, we made two ice cream runs.

The girls did so much to help me! They painted some rooms, set up my computer (I am a mess when it comes to technology. Turn was able to hook up my printer, sound system, AND get all of the wires out of the way. Whew! My office area actually looks like a office), completed some probate paperwork, helped me start my will, gave me lots of hugs, shared tons of memories, and let me cry my eyes out any time I wanted.

Saturday night the Spearman crew plus Shea, Mindy, Laura, Nicole, and Christie went to Welfare Cafe for a birthday dinner. Nicole found a gluten-free BIRTHDAY CAKE was available!!!! It was a lovely ending (or mid-way point) to a great weekend.
I had a BEAUTIFUL weekend full of laughter, tears, laughter, food, laughter, work, laughter...all bound up in love. Thus far, today has been a glorious day...truly a gift from God.

I feel like I'm entering a new stage of the grieving process. Chuck's ring, which I wear around my neck, is now on a longer chain. It started right at my throat; moved down to the base of my neck, and is now right over my heart. Also, I took down the huge picture of the two of us...the one I moved from hospital room to hospital room. I found myself unable to move forward with the two of us staring at me all the time...pulling me backwards. And FINALLY, I've moved to a place where I do talk to Chuck...and think that he just might be watching over me. Initally, I felt he was rapturously staring into the face of Jesus...uninterested in what was going on with me. Don't know why...just felt that way. Now I feel like he's cheering me on. When we were driving home from my birthday party Saturday night, we saw a shooting star. Nicole said, "Look! Chuck's saying hi," and I knew it was true.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My Spearman crew is here to, each other, my birthday. These are friends I've known since the age of five...if not a teeny bit sooner for those who went to my church. Ginger (G), Jennifer (Turn), and Mindy (Min) are spending the weekend painting parts of my house, and G is helping me with probate stuff. As God would have, she specializes in estate and probate (thank you God). In any case, once again God has sent me angels to do for me what I am too weak or tired (emotionally, mentally, spiritually) to do for myself.

We've already had a blast...cheeks hurting from too much laughing...and it's only Saturday morning.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Wow. Currently there is a lot going on. Joyously, last night I met with "Chuck's Champions" to discuss memorial ideas. I must say, part of the process is really hard for me...discussing a memorial...a reminder that Chuck is no longer with me (a bit's all about me). However, part of the process is sheer joy! I feel giddy about what is happening...before my very have set a lovely vision before me. I must confess, on my own, I could think of nothing to memorialize Chuck...nothing would be big enough or grand enough or special enough to expres my love for him. This sort of thing is sooooooo outside of my realm. Because of that, I am so grateful for those of you who have cast a vision for me. Thank you! Because of you, I can envision ways to share Chuck with camp...and to do something wonderful for the place that brought him so much much life! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

We need some help with "fleshing out" some of the ideas...specifically center stage. If any of you has any special memories of Chuck and center stage, please post them here OR post them on the Fix Up Chuck website OR email them to me. We are looking for specifics on how Chuck used center stage to bring joy...or share joy, or about how much he loved center stage...anything center stage related will help.

Enough for now...but know a lot of exciting things are happening at this time...including ideas for a scholarship given to a drama student at Taft...lots of stuff ahead! I'll post specifics later.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The White Rock marathon is a month away! Training is going okay. I've had a hard time jumping back in upon arriving home from Florida. I'm up to an hour for my short runs and 2:15 for my long runs. I do not use an Ipod or anything like that. Nonetheless, music plays through my mind as I "run", a term I use loosely as many people could out-walk me with the pace I keep. In any case, this was today's playlist: "How Great is Our God," and "C is for Cookie." Yep...C is for Cookie...about 45 minutes worth. Often the song that plays in my mind is the one I hear first thing in the morning on K-LOVE. The "C is for Cookie" must have been a treat from God. C is for cookie, that's good enough for me.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Now hear this...death is WRONG! Whew. It felt so good to have that "secret" I've been holding validated last night at grief share. Death was not part of God's original design...that is why our hearts break...why we feel robbed...why our souls cry out in anguish...death is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Sadly, death is the cost of defying our perfect God..."for the wages of sin is death." Thankfully, death has been defeated...we just have to go through it to get to the other side...hold onto Jesus and JUMP through to the life God intended all along...pure love, pure hope, pure joy, pure LIFE.

Monday, November 05, 2007

What if? What if all you hoped for could really happen? Chuck challenged me early in our marriage to believe in a happy ending. I was afraid he was going to die and leave me alone. This wasn't some prophetic the time I was worried everyone I loved was going to die and leave me alone....Worse, I was worried I would be caught unaware when someone I loved was taken from me. I was still grieving my mom's death...Mom died so unexpectedly. I promised myself to never become so complacent that I let someone slip out of my grasp again. Whatever it took, I would be prepared for the next one...the next time....

Chuck encouraged me to believe...and believe I did. Crazy how life works. Yes Chuck was taken too soon for my taste, but in reading through my blog, I see the hope there...all the way through...I believed in our happy ending. I still believe in our happy ending. I am so very, very grateful for that. I cannot begin to imagine how hard this journey would have been without HOPE. I thank God for giving me that hope. I thank God for changing my heart...changing my life...letting me live with great expectation (no small feat for my frightened heart).

I write this because my friend, Paul, brought up a great question on Sunday. What if everything you've read or heard about God, heaven, and the afterlife is true? More than that, what if everything you've heard about God's love is true? What if you really are the apple of his eye? What if all he really wants is to give to you? What if he really is the ultimate parent...what if he really can teach you to love gentler? What if he really can change you? What if he really is the way to freedom from addiction, shame, abuse? What if he really can give you a life of peace even in the amidst great suffering and pain? What if?

Friday, November 02, 2007

I'm happy to say...I'm glad to report...I am HOME. Not only that, I feel pleased and thanks for the prayers. Bailey was overjoyed to see me...which thrilled me to no end. I was afraid she would have forgotten me. Ah, the devotion of a good dog.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

It's time to go home. Someone asked me today if I was excited...hard to say. This is my "first" buisness trip...and my "first" return home from a business trip. Please pray for strength. Upon arriving to Jacksonville, I burst into phone call "home" necessary. Know this, Chuck is still my home so I am feeling a bit homeless. Is there a reason to go back? I search my heart for a reason to go on...everyone lives for something or someone. As much as I love my sister; as much as I love my nieces and nephews...these do not fulfill my "purpose" criteria. These do not inspire as Chuck did. These do not relieve the ache. The only thing that spurs me on and gives me a sense of purpose is God. Yes this is a comfort...because there is someone to hope in...someone to push me forward when I just want to quit. But it is a shocking revelation to me. There was once a time...oh, wait! This reminds me of a Chuck story...

Our pastor was telling the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). The part that struck me was when Jesus tells Martha, "You are worried about many things, but only one thing is necessary...". So after service Chuck and I rush up to Paul. (This was during my seeking stage...not quite buying the Jesus thing, but looking into him very seriously.) Our conversation went something like this:

Jan: "Paul, what is it? What's the ONE thing?"
Paul: "Jan, everyone has to figure that one out for themselves."
Chuck: looking at me as if I had grown horns. "Basketball,"
Paul: shakes his head and walks away

In any case, never would I have dreamed that GOD was my one. Yet here I am...facing the futility of my future without Chuck...finding little motivation in anything...knowing that "the one thing" that gets me out of bed in the morning is God. He gets me out and reminds me that I have a hope and a future.

Monday, October 29, 2007

We survived "The World's Largest Cocktail Party" by leaving town! Saturday was the Florida vs. Georgia game...thus Lynn, Brooke, and I went to historic St. Augustine.

As far as the grieving process goes...I'm working through some redefinitions. For so long my purpose in life was for Chuck. My hope was hope was concrete...get Chuck home. So now what???? I know in my head what my hope is...but my "hoper" isn't quite feeling it. My "truster" isn't quite feeling it either. Thus, I'm working through...what am I good for now? Yes, feeling a bit sorry for myself. I know "the truth"...just not feeling it.

Yesterday at church I had a breakdown...singing "I Surrender All..." because I have...sorta. At the time of Chuck's death...I did surrender Chuck...trusting God with my whole heart. The problem with a living sacrifice (my heart) is that it keeps crawling off the alter! There's a difference in surrendering and feeling like something has been taken. I guess yesterday I felt robbed...bitter. That feeling is a clear reminder that I'm MAD and need to cry to God. That bitterness sneaks up on me...every time I look around at "happy people" and start to resent them their happiness...I know it's got me again. The only way I know through bitterness is to feel that cry those words I find so humiliating..."it's not fair!" So I confessed to God...I cried..."I miss Chuck. I didn't want him to die...HELP ME THROUGH THIS. It's not fair." (I cannot stand feeling that me it is such a sign of weakness...I cannot stand self-pity in myself. As a good friend of mine would prompt me...where does this pride come from? Oi.)

Even two months after his death, I still struggle with making Chuck an idol. It may be even more difficult he becomes somewhat saintly in my memory...his challenging traits drop away and I'm left with his endearing qualities...a gift. Chuck was my heart. When it comes to Chuck, I've always struggled with worshipping the creation rather than the Creator. As I'm working through redefinition of myself and my place...I'm also working through redefinition of my that the truth and my heart are in alignment. Thankfully the truth doesn't change. If only my fickle heart would follow suit!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I've fallen out of the loop! This is the first day I've had access to internet. Our business trip is going well...some highs...some lows.

Here are my brushes with fame. We are in Jacksonville at the Hyatt, and we are meeting in the luxury suites...oooh la la. The first two days of our arrival, all the ESPN guys...and some football team (yes, yes, I'm very into sports) were staying here. Apparently there was some big "Monday Night Football" shindig going on. Who knew? The place was over run with security guards.

Just last night I saw...but did not meet...Dick Hoyt of the amazing Team Hoyt. Chuck would be so disappointed in me. You all KNOW he would have rolled the two of us right up to Mr. Hoyt and introduced us as if it were the most obvious thing in the world to do. Forget the fact that Dick was speaking in front of a very large group, at a very fancy dinner, where everyone was dressed up. Chuck would have wheeled in...Chuck Taylors and all...and made himself right at home.

I'm so glad I was married to such a neat guy.

But more about Team Hoyt...just a beautiful thing. Dick's relationship with his son is the perfect illustration of God's relationship to us. Dick does for his son what his son is unable to do for himself...check this out...make sure you have kleenex:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

I'm sharing today's "Grief email." It cracks me up that my emails are numbered. I'm on day 19. "Day 19 of my grief." It sounds so official. (For those mathematicians out there...yes, it has been longer than 19 days...but I started the emails a month after Chuck's death...humor me.)

Today's post has to do with the hope a believer in Christ the midst of the sadness associated with losing someone to death. While it does not take away the pain and brings the promise of something beautiful!

It is biblical to grieve. It is necessary to grieve. You must not suppress your heartache and sorrow.

"Weep freely; share your anguish, your deep concern, but always with the joyful assurance that Jesus is with you. The Prince of Peace is with you, " said Dr. Bill Bright.

"There is nothing wrong with tears. You miss loved ones who have gone away. But you are not to weep as one who has no hope. Christians can still have joy even in the midst of sorrow. Everyone experiences tragedy, believers and nonbelievers alike. The difference is the believer has Christ with him."

At the graveside of his friend Lazarus, the Bible says that "Jesus wept" (John 11:35). He understands your tears.

Lord Jesus, You are my only hope. Teach me how to grieve. Amen
I'm off on a two-week work excursion. I will be in Jacksonville, Florida until November 2!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Wow! I was really mad...I look back at my last post and wonder at how God could love me so how he could shower such blessing on someone so caught up in their own aguish. I remember feeling that way about Chuck. We'd have an argument, and I would be really ugly...showing warts and all...and he would still think I was the most amazing, lovely creature in the universe. Unconditional love just blows me away.

At work I have scripture on index cards...sidenote...I LOVE index cards. Want to make me really happy? Give me a stack of index cards...unlined really floats my boat...colored? Forget about it. Okay, so I found one with the following reminder:

1. God is who he says he is.
2. God can do what he says he can do.
3. I am who God says I am.
4. I can do all things through Christ.
5. God's word is active and alive in me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I am currently having a lovers' quarrel with...well myself as Chuck loved to point out when we had spats. However this one is between me and God...but it took me a while to figure it out. The longer I walk with the Lord and the more intimate our relationship becomes, the more it reminds me of a marriage. Here's the deal...working backwards....

Saturday was an EXCELLENT day. I want to hold on to EXCELLENT and milk it for all its worth. After Saturday I wanted to feel good all the time...or at least for a long time. So Sunday I'm still clinging to the loveliness of the day before. Sadly, I'm realizing it is a short-lived-event. On Monday I start to realize...hey, I'm sick of this widow stuff. It hurts too much. It's too hard. It's only been 2 months and I am soooooooooo done with it! Done...done...done. As I tend to do when faced with...something big and ugly...I "drift". I turn dreamy...avoiding said ugliness. If it's between sadness, disappointment, grief or numbness...I take numb. Still though...I'm not making the connection with me, God, and my refusal to talk to him about my real feelings...the fear that I will never be happy again. If I don't say it...if I don't acknowledge's not real.

Now Tuesday rolls around and I'm feeling kinda blah...and I know something's not right. Still don't know what. I figure...this is part of grieving...up/down/up/down. In my mind I'm still trusting God...still feeling all kissy-huggy...still denying my true feelings.

Today rolls around and it hits me...I'm A-N-G-R-Y. All of a sudden, I realize it's time to tell him what's what. My list of complaints is a bit long: This gig sucks! Yes, yes, we suffer so we can comfort others. Great...I don't want to do that. Nooooo...I do NOT want to be the one who holds the hand of the new widow because...that SUCKS. No one wants that job. I certainly don't want it. NOR do I want the task of walking people through the release of a loved one to death. NOR do I want the task of helping people deal with the pain of watching a loved one suffer for an extended period. Basically I've been molded and primed to handle all the really CRAPPY heartaches in life. GREAT! That's just GREAT! I want a new assignment please and thank you.

Now as I'm telling God what a mistake he's made with my life's direction, he is already softening my heart...softening my views...showing me the beauty of my roll...the joy and honor in my calling.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My assignment for the week is to identify my "safe places." Chuck was my safe place...he was always for matter what. This leaning on people thing is HARD, HARD, HARD for me. I tend to be very black and white...God is my rock...God is...not people. In my mind, leaning on people equates to turning ever so slightly away from God. (This inadvertently protects me from the potential harm of trusting people.) However, a wise friend reminded me that God calls us to community. He uses our family and friends to give us the hugs, kisses, pats...the physical manifestations of his affection. My pockets of safety are already in place...people have openly been loving, loving, loving me. My task is to identify these havens and praise God for his provision.
I have so very much to share...but will do it in as not to overwhelm! First, God gave me the BEST day I have had in YEARS...yes years. I don't know where it came from...or what was different...but God gave me a day of pure joy.

Saturday did not begin as a day of joy...but you know God, making all things work together for good. I woke up I stayed in bed and watched a movie (Sense and o' the BEST). Once I perked up, I spent the afternoon with two of my best friends...and it was pure delight. Laura, Nicole, and I went to the mall...and it was just fun...I had no tears. Next we went to dinner. tears. Just in my time with in my love for in in, joy, joy. My heart needed a day like that. I'm sure I will cling to it in the sad days ahead.

As ever, I am in awe of God's tender, loving care for me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I found my phone...but in the meantime Janet reminded me of a "Chuckism." When something was OBVIOUSLY Chuck's fault...he'd yell "Jan!" as if I had caused the problem...always cracked me up.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I have misplaced my phone AGAIN. Oi. I've checked all the obvious places and will soon start looking in the most likely of places...the refrigerator and washing machine. Sorry for the inconvenience. Can I blame this on Chuck somehow???

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This is my Grief Share assignment for the day:

I am to make a list of the qualities and facets of Chuck that I miss. Aparently my loss is not isolated to one thing...and I am to grieve over each loss. Oi vey!

Here is my list
• my source of delight
• my companion
• my encourager
• my "entertainer"
• the one who shares my private jokes
• my inspiration
• the one who knows me so well
• my "tucker-inner" at bedtime
• the graviational force toward which I move as I sleep
• the shoulder on which I cry
• my comforter for when I'm sick
• the arms that embrace me
• the one whose hand I to cling to
• the one who always cheers me
• my BEST friend
• my pride and joy
• my favorite movie date
• my favorite dinner date
• my favorite traveling companion

This is just my starter list. I miss Chuck.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

There are many songs that speak peace to me...there are some that make me weep as they hit that spot that is broken...I love them all. There is one in particular that I listen to over and over. It deals with the issue of...would I have chosen differently? Sometimes it just feels so good to really wail; to cry over the pain Chuck endured; to cry over how lost I feel without my Chuck...and in the midst of the weeping to know...I am feel the comfort of a God who is my horizon and my hope.

Go to and click on "Sunrise." (Sorry, still don't know how to put a song on this thing!) The lyrics are below.

Sunrise by Nichole Nordeman
If I had the chance
To go back again
Take a different road, bear a lighter load
Tell an easy story

I would walk away
With my yesterdays
And I would not trade what is broken for beauty only

Every valley
Every bitter chill
Made me ready to climb back up the hill And find that…

You are sunrise
You are blue skies
How would I know the morning
If I knew not midnight?

You’re my horizon
You’re the light of a new dawn
So thank you, thank you
That after the long night, you are sunrise

There’s a moment when
Faith caves in
There’s a time when every soul is certain God is gone

But every shadow is evidence of sun
And every tomorrow holds out hope for us
For every one of us


You alone will shine
You alone can resurrect this heart of mine


You are sunrise

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Through MUCH personal research, I have discovered the BEST words of comfort for me are, "There, there." My friend, Amy, uses them all the time at work...and they bring me such peace! I'll be crying, and she puts her arm around me, pats me on the shoulder and whispers, "There, there." Works like a charm!

Monday, October 08, 2007

In being with my friend, Mindy, this weekend, I discoverd that I have developed a few "grieving quirks." Apparently I have created a whole system of rules...not even realizing it. Some of the rules are thus:

1) I may watch old movies that Chuck and I have seen before, but I may not watch movies that are coming out now.
2) I may not watch any new episodes of TV series that Chuck liked and is now "missing." Sadly "The Office" is out....
3) I may not buy any nice new clothes. HOWEVER I may buy workout clothes.

This is just a sampling of "the rules." With Mindy's encouragement, I did bring myself to buy an adorable new hat! Baby steps....

Another quirk is that I've developed a pretty nasty case of separation anxiety. When it is time to leave anyone that I love, I am overcome with a "homesick" feeling. I cry pretty hard for a few minutes...then it passes. My nephew, Matthew, is going through the same thing with his momma, Christy. Mom says I should try throwing myself on the ground while writhing around a bit. Kicking and screaming are a plus if I really want to get someone's attention. Of course those observing me should completely ignore my behavior until it stops.

Friday, October 05, 2007

I went to my first Grief Share class last night. It was very helpful. It was also eye-opening...grief is felt deeply by ALL. You see, I was the only female AND the only one under the age of 60. Yep, me and a bunch of "mature" men crying our eyes out. It really touched me...the love these men felt for their wives and the pain they are experiencing in the absence of those women...some even years later. It was a reminder that we will all go through this at some point...and it hurts A LOT no matter where you are in life.

A point that keeps coming up is FAITH. The fact that faith does not make the pain any less. It simply sustains you through the pain. This is a quote from today's Grief email: "Knowing the Lord and His comfort does not take away the ache; instead, it supports you in the middle of the ache." Yep....

I love Chuck and am happy today (at this particular moment in the day)...happy to have been his wife...happy to have been his best friend...happy he chose me. I'm feeling all kinds of blessed this morning.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The surprise is ready!!!! Go to Fix Up Chuck.
Check out the sunset on the Fix Up Chuck webpage. That is what God gave us at the end of Chuck's memorial service. Once again, God overwhelms me with his faithfulness. I trusted him to take care of the memorial was almost held indoors due to a chance of rain. He whispered to me, "No, this must be at the ampi-theater." Though I was worried, I trusted him...and LOOK WHAT HE DID!
This morning I am overwhelmed with a flood of affection for Chuck. It feels WONDERFUL! I've realized (through some spiritual prompting) that the grieving and the mourning that I do for Chuck is a special part of our marriage. I am honoring my husband by letting him go. As is my way, I want to do it well. I want to make him proud. So I am committed to feeling ALL of my feelings; embracing ALL of this process; actually being patient with a process. I tend to want to rush, rush, rush...get to the finished product. Not this time.

The "surprise" for the Fix Up Chuck website is almost ready...any day now!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Okay...I may keep the blog...just easier than creating a new one...I'm into "easy" these days. It's a hard habit to break...I just won't be as "loyal" as when I kept it for my beloved.

Today Stacie's Allstate office donated TWO $500.00 checks (that's $1000 for the mathematically impaired) in honor of Chuck to the San Antonio Founder Lions Club. The money will go to the camp.
A funny twist in the marathon gig...the Houston marathon is closed so Shea and Greg will be unable to join me in my run. HOWEVER, the Dallas marathon is wide open. It is the course that goes RIGHT IN FRONT OF BAYLOR SPECIALTY HOSPITAL. Granted, it is a month earlier = December 9. I'll have to step up my training...but it's do-able. As my three-year-old niece, Kilian, said when her dad offered to help her get dressed, "I can do all things through Christ." Actually she said..."No thanks, Dad. I can do all things through Christ," but you get the picture.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

My Internet AND my phone are up and running. Yea.

Alright, I feel like things are winding down on the ol' blog. I don't need it so desperately these days. God used it to help me through the toughest (and most precious) days of my life. Oh, I'll still post from time to time, but just cause.

Thank you to everyone who used the blog to encourage and uplift me. I will still use it to post prayer requests and bits and pieces of my life. Perhaps I'll create a new one. Who knows?

Okay, latest news, I have officially signed up for the Houston HALF-marathon. It will be in January. Greg has had me on a training schedule for a month already. This should be interesting!

My new verse...the verse I will use for a while, is Isaiah 40:31:
"But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."

Monday, October 01, 2007

A friend directed me to Grief Share. I'd like to direct all of you to the web site as well. It can be found at Below is an example of a daily email that I will be receiving each day. If you are interested in help or encouragement, go to the site and sign up for their daily email. Today's posting was:

Grief is not an enemy or a sign of weakness. It is a sign of being human. Grief is the cost of loving someone.

Since grief comes to everyone, why do some people seem to work through it better than others?

“Some people think that going through the losses or crises of life are the exceptional times,” says Dr. H. Norman Wright.

“I see it differently. I see the times of calm as the exceptions. Life really is going through one loss after another, one crisis after another.

“Instead of avoiding talking about these times, let’s do our homework. When you know what to expect, you’re not thrown by them as much, and you’re going to be better able to recover.”

Join us each day for the next year as we walk with you on your journey through grief, strengthened and enabled through the Lord Jesus Christ.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Lord God, teach me to embrace my grief and not fight it, so that I may experience the true healing that comes from You. Amen.
Okay, I've alluded to something for the Fix Up Chuck site. Perhaps some clues are in order? You will be involved. It will be a way to motivate others. It will be FUN to create.

It's coming soon!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Still no phone nor Internet access at home...hopefully tomorrow. Sorry if you've been trying to reach me...I'm unreachable!

Friday, September 28, 2007

A reminder...check out the Fix Up Chuck website in early October. There will something new and exciting...something lasting....
I went to the Casting Crowns concert last night. Wow...once again God rescued me...and just in time. As you might have detected from yesterday's posts...I have NOT been doing well. It has very little to do with my current situation and EVERYTHING to do with my focus...I have taken my eyes off of Christ and set them on my perceived dreary future...with all its meaningless tasks. This happened I turned to grief books rather than I turned oh so slowly away from very, very slowly.

Please offer a prayer (or two or three) of behalf of my sister, Shea, who has put up with me during this time of torment and anguish. The girl has done all she could do...but of course nothing was good enough because nothing brought Chuck back or stopped my pain. Poor Shea! She noted my straying from truth days ago...and prayed fervently for me. Her prayers were answered...praise God.

Let me back up a bit. Before I share one of my moments of insanity, a quick lesson learned. The Word is living. The Bible is truth...this truth cannot be found in "sermons;" it cannot be found in self-help books on grieving; it cannot be found in the advice of well-meaning friends. If feel-good sayings cannot stand up under the broken-hearted questions of a grieving widow, they're useless. You've got to go to the Word...anything else will crumble when put under extreme stress. The Word is true...every every situation. The Word can hold up under the grief of a widow and offer hope, hope, hope.

So, I was listening to one of my favorite radio ministers. He's talking about Ruth. Ruth lost her husband; she had a door or two shut in her face; then she was rescued and was used to change the world, forever. (She's an ancestor of Christ). Okay, so the pastor tries to encourage those who have had doors closed in their faces. He notes that God uses those closed doors. Then the pastor says, "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion...". (Ahh...nice words. "Don't worry, everything will work out, because if He began a good work in you, and He won't stop until it's completed"...ahh...nice, nice sentiment.)

Okay, this sets me I call Shea to tell her how wrong, wrong, wrong this is! Following is my actually rant to Shea. This will show you what my sister has been up against as of late:

What in the world does that mean..."He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion"? There's no hope in that...NONE. You know why...just look at Chuck. Just look at what happened to him. All he wanted was to come home. What did God do...let him suffer in agony for months and months only to let him die before ever making it home. That's a "completed good work?" Really? Really? Would you honestly call that a "completed good work"? What's good about that? If that is an example of a completed good work, I want nothing to do with it. Nothing. There's no hope for me if that's an example of God bringing a "good work" to completion. I might as well give up right now. That's wrong...wrong...wrong. That cannot be what that scripture means. It cannot, cannot, cannot. (Daring Shea to correct it...explain it...but not really wanting her input, if you know what I mean.)

You see how clever Satan is? You take a little bit of the Bible, twist it just so, and it can destroy your faith. The radio pastor did not use the verse "in context." No matter how much you trust fellow believers, READ THE WORD FROM THE BOOK FOR YOURSELF. The actual verse is about God saving people through Jesus. "The good work" is God's good work, i.e. our salvation. (Don't take my word for it. Phil. 1:6)

In any case, Shea knew I was believing lies...she knew I wanted no input from her, so she prayed. She prayed until God moved to bring light to my my weary soul....I thank God for such a faithful friend.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm just posting like crazy today! I have a few things to share...first touching, second funny and appropriate.

First, two nights ago I was hurting a lot. It was night time, Maegan was out of the house, it was time for bed, and I was missing Chuck soooo much. Bailey was sleeping on the tile floor. So I got a pillow and figured I'd just spend the night on the hard floor with her...wanted to ache in my body since my heart was aching so much. So I start talking to God out loud...telling him my heart is broken...and he promises to comfort the broken-hearted...please comfort me...wah, wah, wah. Wouldn't you know it, he showed up. Truly, I felt a sense of utter comfort and peace. I got up, and put myself in bed and slept peacefully through the night.

Okay second, my friend Janet sent me an email about Chuck. She wrote, "He didn't choose to leave you. If he weren't in freakin Heaven, he'd be miserable."
When it rains, it pours! I keep wondering, "Is this the way life has always been, and I just feel overwhelmed because Chuck is gone?" Yet, I think the answer is no...things don't usually all go splat at one time. my phone is out of commission (perhaps up and going by Sat??); my home Internet is out of commission (should be fixed this evening); my car door is broken...I cannot open it from inside...have to roll down the window...various house issues...rotted wood under the sink...with a continual leak that I can't seem to find...and can't figure out how to get the wood out without just tearing it apart...blah, blah, blah. I'm thinking my life is just too hard right now. Then I met a woman on Monday who just lost her husband in May...but she has several children. Yesterday I met a woman who lost her FIRST husband after 22 months of marriage; and the SECOND one after 25 months of marriage. I think I will COUNT MY BLESSINGS!!!! Beautiful home; beautiful friends; a job that I enjoy; a working car; plenty of food; a roommate who runs errands for me when I get overwhelmed; a sister who listens to me cry and cry and cry...the list goes on and on.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

October is my FAVORITE month, and it's just around the corner! Coincidentally, something wonderful will be happening throughout that month...hint, hint. Stay tuned as a surprise is being planned for the Fix Up Chuck website.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hi! I'm back home. Wow, what a trip. Lots to cover, but figured I'd stick to the most pressing part. I have officially entered the heart of the ANGRY portion of my grieving process. I find this absolutely hilarious as it did not hit full-on until Sunday Abilene of all places. Let me back up a bit...I passed the one-month-anniversary nicely. In fact I remember thinking, "Wow. This isn't so hard. Hmmm, perhaps I'm through the worst of it. This is not going to be nearly as bad as I thought..." Ha! Ha ha ha ha.

So Sunday rolls around, and I'm still feeling fine. Then I begin the drive home. Now my drive to Spearman was a new adventure for me...I went a way I have never gone before...through Amarillo to see all new. The drive home, however, was the SAME ONE CHUCK AND I HAVE TAKEN MANY TIMES. I felt his absence every MILE of the way. I cried from Spearman to Canadian to Childress (3 hours). I took a brief grief break from Childress to Abilene (2 hours). I stopped in Abilene to spend the night...crying while driving can be quite draining.

That night I pulled out one of my MANY grief books...and found a section on ANGER. Remember the "hate" phase I was going through? That has passed, blessedly, and I wish only good things for my previous targets. Turns out, that hate was misplaced anger. It is easier to hate someone than to admit that you are angry at the person who has died. I am pissed at Chuck Picciuti. Don't know about you, but our wedding vows came with fine print. There's that whole "for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part" stuff...the part that includes God. Then there's the extra part..."We will grow old together. We will be there for each other through every trial. We will comfort each other in our sadness. We will always be there for each other...always...always...always. We will never ever leave" part. Well here I am...still holding up my end of the bargain!

So upon reading my grief book, I am instructed to keep my cussing (not cursing) current. (The book defines cussing as expressing anger and frustration.) I am angry that he died. I cannot believe he left me alone to deal with all of this sadness without him! So all this stuff comes pouring out...stuff I did not realize I was diverting or trying to squash. Whew...I'm 30 minutes of ranting pissed.

I am not fully able to express my relief at knowing that I am ANGRY with him...and that this is not as easy as I thought it would be. Weird?

Okay, so I am angry. I am angry Chuck died. I am angry he left me to deal with this without him. But more than anything, I miss him horribly.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Alrighty Paul-smarty-pants-Brouse, I'm posting from the Pandhandle...take that. It is beautiful here. I had to pull over on the drive...the sunset went from perfect and beautiful to more I had to stop and just watch it until it was gone. Ahhh, the sky here is so BIG! I am trying to catch each sunrise and sunset while here. And the stars...forget about it.

This trip has done my heart good. I'm loving the weather. Dad and I are going to a football game tonight...can't wait!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bailey and I are hitting the road! We are driving up to Spearman to visit family and friends. I am thrilled with the idea of a road trip! It's been tooooo long. We leave today after work and drive to Abilene. Tomorrow we'll drive from Abilene to Spearman, with a brief stop in Amarillo to visit friends.

I will have a "new" home awaiting my return. Though I have been asked to not disclose my benefactors...I'm sharing the blessing. My entire house is being repainted...a delicious Tuscan theme. I cannot wait to get back!

If I have access to internet while away, I'll post some. If not, I'll post once I've returned home.

Monday, September 17, 2007

There are new pictures from the memorial service at the Fix Up Chuck website.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It had to happen sometime. I woke up this morning and it was a good 30 seconds before I remembered that Chuck was gone. It filled me with such hope and such sadness. A big part of me wants to stay...stay moving forward in life without my beloved. Part of me wants to stay in pain as long as Chuck and I are apart. Then there's the part of me that wants to rush, rush, rush through this excruciating part. This reminds me of the night when Chuck died...I had to keep telling myself, "Stay here...stay..stay" because I kept trying to grieve even though Chuck's chest was moving up and down, and I could feel his heart beating beneath my hand. It was a precious moment, and I kept trying to rush through it. This time in my life is precious, too...God is my very breath. How often does this happen? (Hopefully not too much!) God is using this extreme pain to draw me to him. So again, I have to whisper to myself, " moving rushing ahead...stay in this moment."

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mom and Dad are here! It's been great. We've gone through tons o' business stuff...lots o' tears in the process. It's painful to separate my life from Chuck's...his name off the deed; off my accounts; off of everything that was OURS...and now it is simply mine. So sad.

Okay, here is my plug for the Lions CLUB. Young uns...this is a GREAT, untapped resource. I have gone to two meetings and plan on joining. (I feel oh so close to Chuck at them...but wait, there's more....) Okay, here is what we, as a generation, are missing out on: a way to give back to our communities while celebrating our nation's history. The past two weeks, the speakers have been amazing...touching on issues that are in our own backyards. This week, an architect came to speak on building green. It was timely and relevant to our lives. In addition, these meetings are a GREAT way to carry on the traditions of our childhood. Remember elementary school? Singing "America, the Beautiful;" saying the pledge; having a prayer before absolutely every school activity? This is what you get at a Lions meeting. In addition, for you Lions Camp alumni, they work hard at helping everyone to DROP THEIR DIGNITY. Ahhh, remember that? In any case, if you are looking for a way to keep up with the needs in your community; if you want to leave your community better than you found it (thank you, Rand) then check out your local Lions Club.

Okay, off soap box. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

How am I doing? As a friend of mine once said of her aging parents, "Great for the state I'm in."

Seriously I hurt...I hurt a lot. But I have a great deal of confidence in God. Daily he is giving me everything I need to make it through. I am leaning on him with all that I have...simply because I am completely incapable of handling this one. Most of you know how I felt about Chuck...I absolutely adored the man. If he were a bit more removed from me, I could totally see myself trying to handle this on my is my way. However, this one is too big; it hurts too much; I simply cannot do it. So I praise God for this...the fact that every morning I have to reach out to him just to get out of bed. He faithfully picks me up and carries me through the day.

Once again, God has provided me with some timely tips...right as I'm moving into the good and angry portion of this grieving thing. Okay, so the tip I learned tonight involves the denial of feelings and how it prevents healing. God cannot heal what I do not reveal...hate for example. We all hate. However, as soon as we catch ourselves hating something, we say to ourselves, "Oh, it's wrong to hate...I shouldn't do that...blah, blah, blah." We immediately try to shut down our feelings. Essentially we are denying the hate that really is there. Here's the deal...we do hate, and God KNOWS we hate. Right now I'm hating some people and some things. Rather than playing the "Jan, you really shouldn't hate people" game, I'm gonna try the honesty game. I will be keeping a personal journal so I can confess all the anger, hate, gunk...reveal it all to God so he can heal me.