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.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Random thought...

I recently saw my FAVORITE movie of all time...Rushmore. It is the funniest movie ever. I remember the first time Chuck and I saw was so funny I wouldn't laugh...I was afraid I'd miss something. When it was over, we just looked at each other and broke into peals of laughter..."That was GREAT! Let's watch it again." In any case, WATCH IT. Max Fischer is Chuck.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I am so very, very homesick. Here I sit in my own house just longing for home. Shea came over for a movie. As it ended, I started crying, telling her how homesick I was feeling.

"Homesick for what? For me?" she asks.

"Yes. And for Chuck. How can this be my home anymore?" Cry, cry, cry, "What do I do, Shea?"

In that calm, soothing voice she has, she said, "Well, it's night, Jan. And you know how things always seem worse at night. You will not sit here crying in despair, dwelling on your sadness. You will get in the Word. You will talk to God or write to him. I can't make this better. You can't make this better. No one can make this better for you. Only God can make this better." (Where does she get this stuff???)

We also decided I should follow the four B's = Bible, bubble bath, Bailey, bed.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Okay...a funny yet poignant side note. I've been making phone calls at work to change beneficiary info...stuff like that. You know how when you want to avoid the fact that you are not pregnant but have simply gained a little weight...yet someone KEEPS bringing it up? Well, I keep getting asked the same bitter-sweet question by financial institutions. "Are you married?" The first time I was asked, the answer was an automatic, "Yes." Followed by an awkward, "Uh, well, kinda. Umm, he died. So, I mean no. Yeah, I guess no. I am not married." Funny? I find it "freakin' hilarious." Chuck would have found it humorous, and we would have joked about it ad nauseum for years to come.
I woke up this morning feeling week and a bit confused. I had dreamed about Chuck...and it seems that I dreamed all night with little rest. I've been dreaming about him all week, which I find unusual. When Mom died, I never dreamed about her. I wanted to dream about her because I wanted to be with her again, experience her again. Yet nothing. With Chuck, I've dreamed of him every night this week. The dreams are kinda the same...he's dying but something miraculous happens...he'll sit up and start time he was raised from the dead. Last night's dream was different in that he had definitely died...but I kept waiting for him to come back.

In any case, when I woke up I thought...I need a verse on God's faithfulness for today...I need to remember he is always good to his word. Alas, as is often the case between me and God, he had other plans for me. My dear friends Bob-O and Sue sent me the PERFECT verse. "Jesus wept." (John 11:35). I'm including the devotional they sent that goes along with the verse. It has become even more beautiful and comforting to me that I ever could have imagined:

He Weeps With Us
Jesus . . . weeps. He sits between Mary and Martha, puts an arm around each and sobs. . . .
He weeps with them.
He weeps for them.
He weeps with you.
He weeps for you.
He weeps so we will know: Mourning is not disbelieving. Flooded eyes don't represent a faithless heart. A person can enter a cemetery Jesus-certain of life after death and still have a Twin Tower crater in the heart. Christ did. He wept, and he knew he was ten minutes from seeing a living Lazarus!
And his tears give you permission to shed your own. Grief does not mean you don't trust; it simply means you can't stand the thought of another day without the Lazarus of your life. If Jesus gave the love, he understands the tears. So grieve, but don't grieve like those who don't know the rest of this story.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Prayer request as I'm grieving: protection from spiritual attacks (guilt, shame, regret).

I am actually starting to process our 15 months in the hospital. I knew I would have to deal with it eventually...and now is the time! Pray I lean on God and his word rather than my own view of and understanding of things..."Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path." (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I am claiming a verse a day...or the same verse multiple days. In any case, I pick a verse...memorize it...say it over and over throughout the day...especially when I get overwhelmed and weepy. Today I am claiming Isaiah 41:10. "Don't be afraid, for I am with you." AMEN.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Guess what? I made it through yesterday...true to his word, God did not give me too much to handle...definitely more than is comfortable though.

I have found great encouragement in the song "Every Time I Breathe" by Big Daddy Weave...especially the first two stanzas:

I am sure all of heaven's heard me cry
As I tell You all the reasons why
This life is just too hard

But day by day
Without fail
I'm finding everything I need
And everything that You are
To me

Every time I breathe You seem a little bit closer
I never want to leave
I want to stay in Your warm embrace
Oh basking in the glory shining from Your face
And every time I get another glimpse of Your heart
I realize it's true
That You are so marvelous God
And I am so in love with You

Now how could I after knowing One so great
Respond to You in any way
That's less than all I have to give
But by Your grace I want to love You not with what
I say
But everyday
In a way that my life is lived

Every time I breathe You seem a little bit closer
I never want to leave
I want to stay in Your warm embrace
Oh basking in the glory shining from Your face
And every time I get another glimpse of Your heart
I realize it's true
That You are so marvelous God
And I am so in love with You

Wrapped in Your mercy I want to live and never leave
I am held by how humble
Yet overwhelmed by Your majesty
Captured by grace and now I'm finding
I am free
You are marvelous God
And knowing You is everything

Tuesday, September 04, 2007 the day wore on, the comfort of crying wore out! was a tough one. I was completely overwhelmed and started hearing "lies" in my head..."you can't do's too will never get over cannot handle what lies ahead....

A wise friend o' mine told me Satan does not go..."Oh poor Jan. I'll lay off her for a while. She's really having a hard time. I'll wait until she's feeling better to whisper lies. Poor thing really needs a break." Yep, I'm prime target #1 right now, so please pray for me to "take every thought captive and submit it to Christ."

Tonight at Bible study I had a "funny" thought. We were singing about surrendering everything to God...heart, life, hopes, dreams...everything. I thought, "Oh yeah I'll give it all to him. It's all broken right now!" I reckon that's the best place to be...completely broken before God.
I had a GREAT time with the Picciuti clan. We celebrated Christy's birthday...I believe this is 25 or something like that. She's so accomplished for someone so young! The whole group got together Sunday night and Monday morning.

I went to church with Mom and Dad...and the priest mentioned Chuck's name and prayed for him. It took me by surprise and touched my heart. It was a surprise to Mom, too, as she had given them Chuck's name a few weeks ago. I love how God times things just perfectly.

I missed Chuck...especially when Tony told Lindsey he'd give her "an uncle sandwich"...a joke Tony and Chuck shared. As you can tell, Lindsey doesn't quite get the meaning of "a knuckle sandwich"...thus the uncle sandwich. Clearly that makes more sense!

I'm pretty weepy...but in a good way. I feel comforted funny enough. If I get overwhelmed, I cry...feel release and a bit o' peace.

Bailey is an official family member. Wish us luck as we get used to each other.
My phone number will be changing to Chuck's number. As with most things concerning Chuck, there is a story behind the number...I'll be changing to 210-681-8715.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I was recently reminded that I have "done" death two ways. The first way was without God. Well, I started with God but quickly abandoned him. When my mother died, I hated and blamed God. I hated him for a looooong time. I was in absolute despair and could see no good in taking my mother...she was too young; I was too young. It was wrong, wrong, wrong. More than that; it was cruel, cruel, cruel. God was supposed to be loving, kind, gentle. What a bunch of lies. More than that, I thought that if I believed in God and lived a good life, my days would be happy and blessed. I believed that if someone loved me, they would never hurt me. Right? If someone loves you, they do everything within their power to please you. Well, God's all powerful so it seemed to me that I should NEVER be displeased. So quite obviously, God did not love me....he was not a loving God...he was senseless and cruel and it was ridiculous for me to follow him. So, I turned away. I turned to kind friends to help ease my broken heart. Of course, friends helped. (Even in my hatred of God, he lovingly sent me support.) However, I lost a few friends along the way...demanding more from them than they were able to give. I suffered for a long, long time...with a lot of hate in my heart.

This time I am doing death fully trusting God. Of the two...I take trusting God hands down. This time there is great peace and great comfort and a feeling of celebration in the midst of my sadness. I have a deep pain for my loss, but there is no despair. There is purpose and meaning to Chuck's death. There is joy in his trip home. God makes "everything beautiful in its own time." More than that, I understand true love now...that God loves me more than I can imagine. That he always does what is best for me; what is in my own best interest; what leads to greater love...even when I don't get it or can't see it. In addition, I know enough about "raising kids" to know that a parent does not live to please the child. The parent's duty is to loving bring up the child; disciplining, correcting, guiding and encouraging the child to maturity so that the child will have every opportunity for success.

If you are struggling with God, don't hold back. Let him have it. Fight hard...yell, scream, cry...use the "s" word and the "h" word...tell him he's stupid and you hate him...tell him how cruel he is...tell him how unfair all of this is. And when you are all fought out, let him comfort you. Let him show you how much he loves you. Shoot, you've already started a dialogue with all the still and know that he is God. I promise you this; he loves you more than you can imagine. "Taste and see the Lord is good."