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.