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.