Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Season of Joy

One of the greatest gifts of grief is the awe in feeling joy. I feel joyful...and I cannot believe it! Though I held out hope that God really would heal my broken heart...I'm amazed that He really, really did it...that He's doing it as I write this...and that He will continue to do it.

With the birth of our savior fast approaching, the world is rejoicing...yet I believe my joy this year is sweeter than ever because God has granted me the most precious gift of grief.

Joy to the world! (Thanks, God.)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Once again, ashamed and embarrassed, I bawled my way through another visit with the good Dr. S. Each time I see this man, I PROMISE myself it will be different. I give myself pep talks. I pray. I breathe deeply. There is something about visiting this man that “triggers” a grief buried…waaaay down deep.

I see Dr. S. a few times a year. He treats my recurring trigger finger. (I should be thrilled with how easily I am getting off…diabetes for over 30 years and my only complication is trigger finger.) Yes, TRIGGER finger…perfect name. But first, the history...

Before finding the sweet, godly Dr. S who explained "how God designed my hand,” I visited a masochist. Note, I have been around needles for over 30 years...with few tears and virtually no anxiety. Enter Dr. I'm-Too-Busy. You see, the way you treat trigger finger initially is with cortisone shots. Somewhat painful…but when the area is numbed prior to the injection, no BIG deal. My first "hand doctor" turned out to be Dr. I'm-Too-Busy. Our encounter scarred me. His office was appointment was an hour behind the man skipped the numbing portion of the appointment (to shave off five whole minutes). I didn’t see it coming....I thought he was giving me the numbing shot…NO. He gave the real deal sans ANYTHING to take off the edge. He literally brought me to my knees. I walked away feeling completely violated...and just the tiniest bit afraid of needles.

Blessedly, I found Dr. S. He is so gentle and kind...visiting him used to cause me little anxiety. And then Chuck died. Somehow the two events are intertwined. I can no longer bear to get injected...not without a major axiety attack. I’ve not been able to go to Dr. S without a complete breakdown. Yesterday's visit left me in tears...POST appointment...meaning THERE WAS NO PAIN...the appointment was need for tears. TWO hours I cried. I find that hilarious...and odd...come on! It's not that big a deal. I think it has something to do with 1) being nervous about a medical situation; 2) knowing that I am at the mercy of someone else’s gentleness or lack thereof ; 3) being scared and NOT having Chuck to comfort me; 4) thinking that there's no way Jesus is gonna show up to comfort me for such a RIDICULOUSLY simple procedure; 5) realizing how TINY this situation is compared to the ones Chuck faced DAILY (for well over a year). I am just undone…humiliated, embarrassed, scared, alone…ashamed of my weakness...which leads me right to God's lap.

God brings me home during these breakdowns. These little episodes are reminders...reminders to cry...reminders to run to God...reminders to give my pain and my grief to Him. Yes, He has brought merciful healing, but there is buried pain...awaiting a safe time to come up...pain that I can pretend does not exist...that I can ignore for months at a time...until God brings them remind me that "time does NOT heal all wounds...God does." There are still lingering doubts and fears that God wants me to offer him...and He patiently waits until I'm ready. He gives me these ridiculous experiences (that make me laugh right through my tears) and whispers, "Yes...I know, Jan. I know how you feel about Chuck's time in the hospital. I know. I know you doubt my mercy. And when you're ready, I'll show you that I LOVED HIM MORE THAN YOU DID. Yes, I did. But before you can really know that, you've got to walk through all this doubt and sorrow. You have got to share these doubts...take them out, dust them off, and present them to me. So, each time you feel vulnerable and afraid, I am giving you the chance to remember your untapped pain. And each time you tap in...give it to me. We'll reach the bottom. And I will give you beauty for ashes. I promise."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Coming On Again!

If you are a runner, you know what it is to get that bless-ed second wind! The term "coming on again" for you may mean...alright, I can do this...I can finish! I think it means something similar for anyone, runner or not, who finds themselves weary...thinking they can't quite continue...or finds the race has changed mid-course. "I want to run another way, but God, I don't know how." get a hint...enough to get you to the next step.

My all-time favorite singer/song-writer is releasing his album "Coming On Again" this Friday, December 12. If you are in the area, I hope you can make it! Concert starts at 7:oo at Cibolo Creek Community Church in Fair Oaks Ranch. This album is a celebration of Greg's return to the race! In his own words:

I’m a prodigal…A son who took for granted what he had been given and threw it all away. My far country journey led me to alcoholism, losing my job, and nearly losing my family. Rock bottom for me was sitting in an emergency room with heroin addicts and homeless people realizing that this trip to rehab was my last chance. For me this was my Pig Pen moment…I realized that in my father’s house was life, hope, and blessing and so I started the long journey home. This journey for me was aided by love and friendship and a community of faith that cheered me on. Upon arriving I was free again. This album represents the songs of this journey from brokenness to awakening to celebration. For all of those who are coming home again…this album is for you. I hope you enjoy what you listen to and that it can in some small way make a change to your life. On another note, I am the Music Director out at a place called Cibolo Creek Community Church in Fair Oaks Ranch, TX. Come out and see us if you ever have a chance.

Get a sneak peak here at

Sunday, November 30, 2008

As Deep Calls to Deep...

Ah, the Texas Panhandle. To the untrained eye, it can appear barren. To those initiated in its splendor, the land is full of life and promise. Once I drove through Abilene, the sky opened it does once the trees and hills fully disappear. Sky and land for as far as you can see. Truly, I feel I can breathe easier. The land speaks to something in my soul...something that lies dormant until I reach the plains.

Oddly enough, driving back to San Antonio opened a new sensation for me. As the hills and trees came into view, I felt warmly enveloped rather than suffocated. Is is possible to have TWO homes?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

God's Work...

I just spent an evening with my Needy Widows' group, a name affectionately bestowed upon us by one of the older kids. We are a contingency of young widows, having met under the gentle care of Paul Loring. When our meetings came to an end, we wanted MORE. So we meet monthly for dinner. As I sat around the dinner table, I felt like I had come home. These women, though they barely know me, know my battle. We've all fought it...are fighting it...and we're moving ahead...shield of faith protecting our hearts. There's a great deal of "knowing" in that...fighting the same battle. It's the kind of knowing that connects you at your very core.

Arriving late, I was awed by the sight before me: a table around which sat women who had endured the most agonizing loss of their lives. There they sat, laughing, joy radiating from their faces. I never could have envisioned this scene...but God could and did. I was overwhelmed with love and pride. Sometimes it takes courage to FEEL joy in the face of great pain. (Yes, this revelation makes me admire Chuck even more.)

God is healing us. Oh, there's still plenty of work to do...but He has been faithful. Can't wait for next month's gathering!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And just like that...

I'm ready to move forward. Who knows what made today different...the day to open the curtains and let the light cleanse me. I CLEANED MY DESK AT WORK.

It has been in a state of disrepair for quite some time...and for just as long, I could not muster the energy...the desire...the heart to do anything about it. "My cubicle" never really became mine. It was new to me about the time Chuck went into the hospital. I don't remember if I moved my stuff to my new place or if my work-mate, Amy did. Who knows? In any case, since that time (about two years) I have dutifully shown up to work...I've shown up there...but only out of sheer will. I've piled stuff...tried to keep it somewhat trash thrown about. But let's face it...I could have cared less about the state of my cubicle. I barely cared about the state of my life. I lacked any form of motivation. Today, it found me. I cleaned my desk. I organized it. I threw away over a year's worth of the form hastily jotted notes (since my memory has been shot)...notes to pay my phone bill, notes to call my grandma...notes to organize my finances. Many of you have noted my SHARPIE system. My memory got so bad that a sharpie was my only hope of remembering really important things. Sharpie to the back of the every time. But I digress...Today was the day!

Next...who knows? But it looks promising.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Life Anyway

What does one do when a birthday approaches at a MOST inopportune a time when relationships are stretching, changing, a time when life is so unsteady? What does one do? Play opossum? Hide? Proceed with caution? I tried to coast--hoping to go relatively unnoticed. After all, it's just a day. Right? I mean really; it's just a day. Right??

As is appropriate, life happened all about me...despite my desire for time to stand still. Life, in all its robust messiness, swept me up whether I wanted it to or not. I was LAVISHED with love: phone calls, cards, face book notes, FLOWERS, birthday songs, hugs, kisses, and a gluten-free cake. I was also enveloped in heartache. Ahhh life.

This was another "first". Chuck has always proceeded me in birthdays. He'd turn 30; I'd turn 30. He did not turn 38. I did. What ya gonna do?

I thank God for my BEAUTIFUL, messy, abundant life. I thank God for my 38 years of LIFE. I thank God for Chuck's 37 years of LIFE. I thank God for His call on my life...for this path of grief. I thank God for what He has done; what He is doing; and what He will do. I thank God.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Praise from a Broken Heart

I stayed for worship at church Sunday morning...after trying to walk out three times. One time I was half-way to my car. I can't even tell you what pulled me back into the building. As Chuck would gleefully remind me during times like these, "Jan, no one is fighting with you. This is kinda between you and you."

It's been over a month since I've had a heart open to God and his healing. I'm bitter right now...looking at what I do not have...what I've lost...what I will never have again. It's a place that makes Satan dance and spin...he's so thrilled. Some of the most healing words I've heard during this time are, "God does not blame you for feeling like this." The same sweet soul who uttered this also reminded me that praise out of a place like this is MOST sweet. So on Sunday, with a heart that felt far...that felt that God had failed me and left me all alone, I worshipped Him. I sang my heart out, in utter defiance of what my heart was screaming. I raised my hands and worshipped...I sang for God because deep down...I know. I know the truth.

This song undid me..."Heal my heart and make it clean. Open up my eyes to the things unseen. Show me how to love like you have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am for your kingdom cause, as I go from nothing to eternity."

A note, Hosanna is an exclamation, originally an appeal to God for deliverance, used in praise of Christ. I did not know this as I sang my heart my soul was soothed by the I unkowingly cried out for deliverance.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Four Laugh out Loud Movie Moments





Tied for 5th were scenes from Moonstruck and Raising Arizona...some go rent the moveis and see for yourself!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My Fellow American

Yes, even at the ages of 34 and 37, my sister and I CANNOT believe we get to do grown-up stuff like vote. She called me all giddy after she had done her civic duty..."I voted...tee hee." I'm so glad she called me first...cause I had the SAME call someone and giggle...but thought that would be ridiculous. So, for the rest of the day we have referred to each other as "my fellow American."

What is it about voting? I get a bit teary...and my chest just swells with the privilege of it all. I thank GOD I am an American...and old enough to vote...and there's someone else out there who gets how very, very cool it is to participate in something so HUGE.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It is Finished

Can a Christian do anything to become more acceptable to God? If you were to look into my heart, you'd have to answer...YES...striving and yearning and practicing spiritual disciplines WILL make a Christian (or at least this Christian) more acceptable. Alas, that is a lie that, by the grace of God, I am starting to really see...starting. It is a truth that is contrary to my very being...I am a pleaser. My significance has been built upon gaining the approval of others. I have always been a good girl, a good daughter, a good wife...good, good, is a part of who I am. Who am I if I'm not "good"?

I have heard time and time again that I can do nothing to make God love me more...heard it...tried to accept it...but I never believed it. Who knows how God works...but this was the morning. This was the morning I would read the words and know they are true. I am borrowing this from Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee: Christ said "It is finished." He did not say "It is almost finished, and if you live a perfect life, you and I together might make you acceptable."

First time in my life, I relaxed and breathed in acceptance...acceptance unearned by my goodness. I made a list of all the good things I do. In one column I put "things I do to please God" and in the other I put "things I do for love". The only thing that distinguishes the two list is my heart. From the outside, both lists of activities look "good." It all boils down to my heart...the heart God has shaped and molded from my birth. Does it not make sense that he would have us serve and love a hurting world in ways that are ways that pour out of us...that he pours out of us?

So now what? Not sure. I'm giving my "heartless" list a rest...just stopping those activities and working from a place of love.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Life Simplified

Today is the last day of my two-week business trip. Though I've missed my family and my dog, I'm sad my time here is ending. My life has been amazingly simple the past two weeks:

my work is challenging BUT of a single purpose (even my time card for the past two weeks will be EASY to complete = committee meetings)
my wardrobe is simplified
someone cleans up after me
someone feeds me
someone handles all the bills
most of what I need is within walking distance
Basically, I've know what to do, where to go, who's in charge...everything simplified!

Makes me wonder about having a single purpose upon arriving home. Did Jesus feel this sense of simplicity? I'm sure he did. Though his work was challenging, his purpose was always clear. He knew that he knew that he knew God would provide for all of his needs. He knew what to say yes to, what to say no to, what to include, what to cut out, who to speak to, who to walk away all boiled down to glorifying his daddio.

Is it possible to live this simply in Christ? Is it? Side note, my time with God has diminished...since all my needs have been neatly handled...hmmm. I try to throw out a cursory prayer from time to time...just to check in...just cause I know he'd like to hear from me. But I've definitely pulled away...basking in my false sense of security.

Now I'm rambling...time to go home.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Content to be Discontent?

Okay, so I'm in Florida for a two-week business trip. One week down, one more to go. We are staying at a LOVELY hotel which, if in the right room, overlooks the mighty St. John River. It makes the San Antonio River look like a puddle. In any case, last week my room was situated so that I had a speck-like view of the river with a full-view of two bridges. (The bridge views are nothing to balk at - they light up at night and everything). ALL week long I really tried to like my room...really. I thought it was a great opportunity to work on the discipline of contentment (especially when just around the corner were rooms with BETTER views). Do I really need a better view? I mean come on! My company pays for me to be on this GREAT two-week trip to stay in a hotel that I could not afford without months and months (and months) of saving. Why not just bask in the beauty of this amazing GIFT??? CAUSE...just around the corner lies the promised land....

My boss-man, who so gets my quirky spiritual struggles, suggested I wait until after a reasonable time (after check-out hours) to see if I could get a room change. That way, if the room change was good to go, it was meant to be. Still, I cringed at this because what if there was no room available? It's soooo much easier to make things happen than to put faith in...well, in ANYTHING other than my ability to get things done...a little something I picked up when Chuck was in the hospital. Yes, though I use it infrequently, I have learned how to fight for and get things that are important to me. (My mother would be SO proud). I must remember to use my new-found skill for good and not for evil. I digress. As you may have guessed, a FULL-RIVER VIEW was available. And might I say...THIS ROOM ROCKS. River AND a view of...count them...THREE beautiful bridges. Content schmontent...I'm stinkin' delirious with JOY. So much for spiritual discipline!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You Can't Hava the Mango

I am currently enjoying a two-week business trip to Florida. Upon bragging the last two mornings about how God has granted me "the gift of sleep," I am up with a case of I-can't-sleeps. Though this rarely happens to me, I have learned that 99% of the time it is a call to pray OR act upon a leading from the holy spirit. Well, I tried the praying. "God, who needs prayer?" A name came to mind and I prayed my heart sleep. I was also inspired to write a here it is. In obedience, I crawled out of here goes.

Chuck and I often discussed reliance on false good it felt to have something to hold that seemed lasting...if only because it was present every day (money, car, job, marriage). I find it disheartening that I am longing for some good ol' false security...something that I can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch daily that gives me an idea of how my life will play out. Something that is "constant"...a husband, a child, a friend, a plan. You see my dilemma...all that I set my heart on to fill my need for for stability is fragile.

If I just knew where I was supposed to live; who I was supposed to live with; what I was supposed to accomplish in life...THEN I would feel I could relax a bit. Yeah, yeah...I know. Granted, when you are married with kids, life takes on a comfy routine...a false sense of security. Realistically, folks doing life with others are no more granted security than those doing life alone...alone but waiting for a comfy routine to share with someone. Heaven forbid that false sense fail us; a spouse gets sick; we lose a job, or worse, a child...we feel like that these disruptions are NOT supposed to happen, and if they do then something is seriously wrong and we rush to create a new sense of security...something else not meant to last.

Why the struggle? Read the's what we do. We are SNL's Mango...the longing for and reaching out...then poutily turning away..."You can't hava the Mango." Thankfully, God knows our struggles and loves us all the more for them.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Clean, Frothy Fun

I would like to start reading for fun has been YEARS. I read (blessedly) every day at work. At some point, I lost my ability to get lost in escape. Now I read tons of non-fiction. That's all good and well. But I'd really like to STOP all the thinking and processing new information. I want to get lose myself!

Can you help? Here's the deal, I want LIGHT yet clean. Is that available anymore? Is anybody putting out funny, clean material? Please give me hope. I've used my sweet friend, Dawn, as a springboard: I will try "Austenland" by Shannon Hale. She has likened it to "a cup of hot chocolate." It is "clean, frothy fun". That's what I'm looking for!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Good for What Ails You

My sweet friend recently posted something that inspires her to "hang in there!" It reminded me of my old standby. This little ditty got me through long days at the hospital; long nights of missing Chuck; long runs while training for my half-marathon...anything that requires movement forward when all you want to do is QUIT. Yeah, firm believer in scripture...but sometimes you need something...that makes you giggle...that can be applied to any and every situation.

As a bonus, this clip is a perfect illustration of the relationship that I shared with Chuck. See if you can figure out who is who.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Blessedly Broken

I have been so wrong...and the Lord has been so patient. He has put people in my life who have stepped in and spoken out, especially this past week. (It's been yucky, and humbling...and just what the Doctor ordered). So, what does one do when on has been convicted of giving in to "the dark side"...of playing lies on a repeating cycle over and over? I did the obvious...started with a pity party (no one one knows what it's's harder for me...). Note, this is Satan's FAVORITE form o' torture...get someone to turn on themselves...dig themselves into a hole...and most importantly, ISOLATE themselves from those who love them and can speak TRUTH.

So, I'm waiting...cause I give. I give up trying to make myself better. I give up trying to do this grieving thing well. I give up trying to be a good example. I give up all of the things I put so much confidence in...things that bring me a feeling of worth. I will wait until I believe the truth...nothing I do could ever make me more acceptable or more pleasing to Christ (hard pill to swallow). He loves me as is...adores me as is...sings over me...daydreams about me...makes breath-taking sunsets for me cause He knows how much I like them. Why is it so hard to just sit and be adored? I will not do my best to figure this out...I'll just try to sit....

Friday, October 10, 2008


Lookie! I think I figured out how to do this. Yippee! Okay, now for the task at hand.

1. My mother carried me in her womb for an extra month...okay, three extra weeks. This may explain why I crave safety...don't want to leave areas of warmth and comfort.

2. I narrowly escaped being "scraped off" my mother's ovary. They thought I was comments please.

3. I love, love, love to have my feet tickled.

4. My favorite activity as a young 'un was watching my dad clean fish. Ewww.

5. My aunt gave me a personalized book when I was five. You know, the ones in which they use your name and the names of your friends and your very address? It was about a friendly alligator who lived at the zoo in my town and later became a famous rock star (my town had no rock stadiums). I believed that it was all true, and desperately tried to recall all the adventures that this alligator and I had had...because certainly it HAD to have was in print after all. I still have the book.

6. When I was four, I thought that heaven was on my friend, Kevin's, know...heaven/'s easy to get confused. Nonetheless, when my granddad died, I used to look for him on the roof of Kevin's house.

7. Through seemingly tragic events (me contracting type 1 diabetes - a traumatic experience for my family, and Chuck contracting cancer and later scoliosis/kyphosis - a traumatic experience for his family) God created a match made in heaven...bringing us from opposite ends of the one location...Texas Lions Camp. Truly an example of God making ALL things work together for good...GREAT good.

Ummm, I'm not sure how to link to someone else's blog! So you get off free!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Lifter of My Head

Praise God...he loves me in my self-pitying state. He is so personal that he actually used LAUGHTER (one of my favorite things in the world) to reach into my heart and give it a squeeze. Up til yesterday, I was FULLY convinced that 1) God was displeased with me, 2) God was "disciplining me" (which I viewed as outright PUNISHMENT) and 3) God was a big bully just waiting for me to mess up so he could whack me. I know...where do I come up with this stuff?

Yes, all lies...but when you believe a lie...when it checks in keenly with the reality of your life, you need something BIG to shake you loose. For me, it was laughter. Long story short, my sweet friend asked me why I thought God would punish me...what had I done that deserved I laid it all out. When I was done, she asked, "What else?" When I said, "That's it," she just burst into laughter. Here I had just poured out my darkest fears...reasons why Chuck may have been taken from me...why Chuck had to suffer...and I was crying pretty hard...feeling full of shame...and SHE LAUGHED. That did the trick (few things are as glorious as moving from gut-wrenching sobs to laughter). It's like the laughter slapped some sense into me.

Then G said, "Oh Jan. You've been so deceived." Satan had actually taken the love that others had showered on me and twisted it around in my heart so that I viewed my leaning on others as a turning away from God...a reason for his "discipline" which was looking an awful lot like PUNISHMENT.

Then she prayed over me...and for THE FIRST TIME in a long time, I knew...I knew God adored me...that he could be trusted...that he was personal enough to come to me through laughter. HE IS THE LIFTER OF MY HEAD. He loves me and every move He makes comes from a place of love.

I clung to Proverbs 3:5-6 when Chuck was in the hospital...a way to face all of the uncertainty, "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." Problem with me is "my own understanding" gets carried away sometimes. As he reminded me in the hospital "Do NOT trust what you matter what the doctors say...look to in not lean on your understanding of this situation because this situation is BIGGER than you and is more precious than you can know or can see right TRUST IN ME."

Now, for the wisdom (ha) to accept love and blessing. I think I have a touch of survivor's remorse. I don't want to move into blessing...I want to suffer, suffer, suffer. I don't want to accept a whole lot of joy since Chuck is gone. Note, this is completely twisted since Chuck is blessed and happy beyond belief. Part of me feels like "I've had the best life imaginable...the best husband I'm just gonna coast to the end."

Would Chuck want that? Oh no! Does God want that? Uh, nope. Do any of my loved ones want that? No. Do I really want that? (Hmmm it's safer...and I'm all for safety!) It's also selfish. I've been leaning so hard on my own sturdy understanding, that it's difficult to free fall into God's plan.

All this to say...God has been FAITHFUL in my wanderings...He has loved me each step I've taken away from Him...He is the lifter of my head: "But you are a shield around me, O Lord: you bestow glory on me and lift up my head." Psalm 3:3

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Edie's Take on October 7, 2008

Just look! This is Edie's post from yesterday. Thanks for praying for her and her kids...this is a clear reminder that God is faithful.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I woke up in the middle of the night with that hymn "Grace, grace, God's grace . . ." in my head and it made me contemplate grace. I can't even begin to imagine where I would be today without God's grace. It is by God's grace that He gave me His strength, His courage, His patient endurance, and His joy these last 12 months. I am eternally grateful for God's sweet provision in my life and I never want to be the person I was before - God has "grown" me in such an amazingly perfect way for ME. I want my life (ALL of my life) to be a testimony of who God is and the tender mercy He shows His children.

Our day was perfect (except that A's phone broke!) We played in the pool, floated down the lazy river numerous times, sat by the pool and napped by the pool. The resort is beautiful with tall palm trees and the sky was an amazing shade of blue today! The kids made a music video - but I can't upload any pictures until I get home tomorrow - so make sure you check back for pictures. I can't thank each of you enough for your faithfulness in lifting us up in prayer. We can really feel your prayers.

Monday, October 06, 2008

I Interrupt this Pity Party for a Brief Announcement

Please remember Edie in prayer tomorrow (Oct. 7). It is the one-year anniversary of her sweetie's death. She and her three kiddos are on vacation, doing something special and FUN...which is fitting. Pray that all four of them wake up tomorrow morning with hearts overflowing with joy. Dear Lord, I pray that you send them gentle reminders of your love...that you surprise them with laughter, LOTS of laughter...that you comfort their hearts and wipe their tears. May tomorrow bring this dear family WONDERFUL moments and memories that leave them breathless...from all the giggling.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I Am Waiting...

God is picking on me...and I'm not okay with it. I AM MAD. Something weird and painful is going on...has been going on for the past three weeks...and I'm starting to put the pieces together. I AM NOT OKAY WITH THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS IN MY LIFE. I have been an obedient daughter...doing the hard stuff. God said, "be kind to Chuck even though he's left you" I was kind. Yeah, God restored our marriage...then took my HUSBAND ANYWAY. "Give me Chuck"...I gave him Chuck. "Sell your house"...I sold my house. "Give up your chance to have Chuck's baby" (long story...) but I gave that up, too. He asks, I give, he asks, I give...WHAT GIVES?

Here's my thinking...HE OWES ME BIG TIME...I feel like I'm in the type of marriage with God where I give, give, give and He takes, takes, takes...and then He has the nerve to ask for more.'s a lie...but BROTHER does it seem like the truth.

I know...I'm under attack BIG time because God is exposing new truths to me concerning my significance...apart from meeting certain standards and apart from being accepted by others. He's exposing new truths to me as I learn to listen to him in new ways. Thanks to my small group, I've been introduced to the discipline of fasting. God put it on my heart to take one day a week for fasting and prayer. It's been incredibly powerful. Never have I hungered so much for God.

In light of all this growth, I went to see "Fireproof." (It's a powerful movie that will change lives and save marriages...but that's beside the point.) It opened some painful wounds in me...filling me with thoughts like, "HEY PUNK...WHERE' MY HAPPY ENDING? YOU ROBBED ME GOD...YOU BIG BULLY...THINK YOUR SO TOUGH PICKING ON THE OBEDIENT GIRL? LET'S SEE WHAT ELSE SHE'LL GIVE UP...SUCKER."

Uh, so here I am...mad but hopeful. A wise friend reminded me...I haven't even gotten to the blessing yet...and not to lose faith that GOD IS FAITHFUL. So, I'm waiting...not so much peacefully, as the person in the song is...but rather angrily...expecting the best OR ELSE.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Pick Me Ups

I've been a bit Chuck would say, "I feel schlumpy." However, there have been some priceless moments of utter joy this past week...compliments of the Coplen kids:

1) Kilian whispering "I love you" in my ear.
2) Kilian running into my arms...snuggling against me...then kissing me on the cheek...twice for good measure.
3) Kilian asking, "Will you play with me?"
4) Celis running and jumping in my arms...which is getting a bit harder these days...she's pushing her uncle Chuck's weight!
5) Celis playing me "a little something" on her new violin.
6) Kyser, noticing that I was leaving, taking time away from his friend to come say goodbye and I love you....

These are the sorts of blessings that keep me going.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yes, Grief CAN Be That Quirky...

Went to see a movie tonight. (Fireproof gets 4 out of 5 stars.) I went to our favorite theater. They replaced the ticket kiosks that Chuck soooo loved. He's always comment, "I don't know why people stand in line when they can just come back here...". His beloved kiosks are gone...replaced with something sleeker. I can no longer run my fingers over the buttons that his fingers used to touch...not that I'd do that...that's just weird. Nonetheless, I burst into tears. Luckily, it's allergy, uh, no one noticed.

How Could I Forget??

I spent Friday evening with two adorable kids...AND cable! I'm a recovered addict, and the last thing you want to do with me is leave me unguarded with over 300 channels!

It has been about a year since I've had cable...and something unspeakable has happened. I HAD FORGOTTEN THAT I NEED TO DILIGENTLY FIGHT MY EVER INCREASING FINE LINES. I do not know how it happened...probably like anything else...over time, I just forgot. I stopped buying wrinkle cream and nighttime moisturizers. Well thank God for cable and that commercial with Andy McDowell proclaiming that I, too, could decrease the signs of aging. Whew...that was a close one...I had started viewing beauty from a different of character and joy. How very foolish.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Study in Contrast

I adore my nephew, Kyser, and my niece, Celis. They are great kids...they are good people...they're funny, kind, and they genuinely like each other. Clearly, their parents have done a REMARKABLE job.

We went to a concert last Sunday...and I was struck by the difference in the two. The pictures pretty much say it all. Kyser is sweet and reserved. (Given the right set of circumstances, he's a mad man.) Celis is a party waiting to happen....

A Walk on the Simple Side

First of all, I want to thank all the WONDERFUL people who helped me move into my apartment. Cory, Darrin, Troy, and Clara helped me move not once, but TWICE. On the day of the official move we had two BIG trailers, one small trailer, and a ton o' utility vehicles. It took us less than two hours...not too shabby. I think my favorite part of the move (aside from being surrounded by people who love me) was that my apartment was filled with kids playing.

It's been three weeks since the move, and I must say, I'm very content here. Granted, I'm still not unpacked AND I'm starting to see that I still have waaaay too much stuff. I'm embracing the idea of living more simply...the fewer the possessions, the less bother.

THANK YOU all you kind souls for making my transition to this new life one of JOY.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In Praise of the Unwashed

I slept in late this morning...too late to wash my hair...I had 14.32 minutes to walk my dog, get dressed, and leave. That left me with two powder or hat. I went with the hat. To make myself feel the tiniest better about my lack of hygiene, I built my wardrobe around the hat...kind of had a flapper feel to the whole look. Well, I've had a bazillion compliments on my "appearance" today...and I've giggled (to myself) each time...knowing the awful truth. That, folks, is what we call negative reinforcement.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reunited...and it feels SOOOOO good!

No thanks to Axel (in Mexico City), I am connected to the internet. Blessedly the Dormans came to fix my armoir (damaged in the move). Troy threw in the internet connection for FREE. (So nooo, I was not able to do it on my own...but feel oh so happy God brought Brooke and Troy by...Brooke to commiserate and Troy to do the computer-techie thing.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Internet, Baby!

I have lived without Internet for two weeks now. can be done. (Oh, it's not pretty, but it is possible.) I'm getting hooked up today. This is the FIRST time I've done the whole installation thing on my own. This type of thing (techno-babbly stuff) intimidates me to no end...and I lived with a computer-geek, so I never ever had to face my computer phobia. Chuck always encouraged me to "just try to mess it can' can't mess it up so much that it can't be fixed." Still, I live with the fear of pushing a button that will blow the whole thing apart!

I cracked myself up by talking to Chuck through the entire process. Sometimes I talk to Jesus...sometimes I talk to Chuck...depending on the situation. All three of us are giddily proud of me...I pushed buttons with abandon...nothing exploded...and by the end of the day, I will be connected!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Submission vs. Suppression

Dang! I was really hoping for a light post this time! Alas, I tend to write what God puts on my's a deep season.

So many of you have called and emailed, offering support during this time of battle (lies vs. truth)...thank you. You have been a strong reminder of who is in charge (not me, whew) and my responsibility to "take every thought captive and submit it to Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). Just a note on taking thoughts captive, this whole ordeal with "suddenly" experiencing all this guilt is a reminder that suppression of thoughts and submission of thoughts are two totally different things. I've come to know the worst thing you can do, concerning a painful thought, is hide it...bury it...believe me, it will return to haunt you! But confessing the FULL thought to God lets you work through the lies in your thinking. Each time I had a twinge of guilt about Chuck, I would tell myself, "Jan, that is ridiculous. Just stop it. You know you loved him. You did the best you could with the knowledge you had." While this sounds good and turned out to be pretty disastrous...dismissing thoughts like that. I rejected them in my own worldy wisdom (mistake!) I did not give any consideration to the foolishness coming out of my heart. Alas, this foolishness needed to come into the light. This would be more in line with taking every thought captive and submitting it to Christ: "God, I think I made a mistake with Chuck. I think I should have fought harder. I should have given him more time before giving up. Is this true? Should I have fought harder? What do you think? Speak to me about this, Lord. Are these thoughts founded in truth?"

One more note on "guilt"...guilt always leads to death. It is one of Satan's GREAT tools. It leads to separation from God. It leads to shame. It leads to isolation. Conviction leads to repentance...and to a new beginning.

I KNOW my recent feelings about Chuck are based in lies...which have lead to feelings of guilt. I thank God for those of you who speak TRUTH into my life...I thank God for his will set me free.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Some Spiritual Surgery

I'm still recovering from my Saturday night hauntings...I find my mind drifting not only to the dreams, but to Chuck's actual suffering. I am greatly encouraged though. Know this..."The word is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul from spirit; joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attidtudes of man." (Hebrews 4:12) In this case, I take GREAT comfort in the word...which is dividing lies (I could have changed the outcome...I let Chuck down) from truth (God did an amazing work in Chuck and in me and in everyone involved...out of love...and Chuck's death was written before he took his first breath...AND EVERYTHING God does is for the good of his children). Whew.

As ever, I am amazed at the healing how God walks me (and all who call on him) through each step. I am encouraged by this new phase...because it will uncover hidden hurts and lies and replace them with truth, gentleness, and love. Not too shabby.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Not Funny, Not Funny...Yet.

Whew. ROUGH morning...very rough. I had horrible nightmares about Chuck...the kind that linger. I woke up crying in the middle of one of up, drank some water, prayed...and went back to sleep. BIG mistake because the second dream was worse than the first...the theme was me failing Chuck which lead to great inability to take good care of him. In one dream he got to come home (yea), but because I did not take very good care of him, he got really sick...I felt so responsible...causing him so much misery. So I woke up with this burden...I had failed my husband. I had failed him...I had failed him. I somehow make it to church after trying to drown my sorrows in Kix cereal (three bowls) face the four and five-year-olds...with images of Chuck in misery haunting me. New system started at church...we're I needed to check in for my attendance. My leader, Faith, was showing me what to do...entered my phone number and up pops...yep, Chuck's name. CHUCK'S NAME. Faith saw the name too, and immediately went to comfort me...too late...I was a woman on the edge and this pushed me right over. I cried...and so did Faith...poor thing. I felt bad for her...such an incredibly awkward situation. She did great. You know, sometimes the very best thing to do for someone who is heartbroken is cry with them. The situation called for tears, and she delivered...and she assured me I would laugh about it later...and I'm close...but soooooooooooo not funny yet.

After church I called my spiritual voice of reason...and cried some more...and Shea wisely pointed out that God is bringing something new to the surface. He's gentle that way...presents our hurts to us when we are ready to deal with them. Apparently somebody has been carrying around some false guilt. Ooops. It may be time for me to honestly look at what happened when Chuck died...honestly dissect it...honestly look at my actions and know...I did the best I could. I did. I did the most gentle thing I could do for the man I loved more than anything in this world. I did. It's easy to write these's another thing to believe them for know I did all I could do. I did. (The repetition is for my convince myself...not working so much as of yet.)

That amazingly gentle with those who are hurting. It is time to face what I did not even know I had hidden. Please pray for wisdom and discernment as I go through this new stage of grieving.

It's hard to remember...but oh so true...that everything that happens in my life comes out of what am I afraid of? At this point (at all points)...everything rides on hope now...everything rides on faith somehow.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

How Ya Like Me Now?

Yep, I have succumb to the pressures to UPDATE! Funny, as my small group has committed to memorizing Romans which "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world..." is proclaimed! Sanctification,'s a long road!
You'll note though...I have SIMPLIFIED.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Home Sweet Home!

I love my new place. More than that, I love all the people who helped me get settled in my new place. Details's better than I had imagined (and I had imagined a pretty sweet, little abode!)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

PITIFUL Negotiator!

I am joyously announcing to all...I am officially DEBT FREE!!! Got a little story for ya (Ags). In April, I received notification of a student loan...not bad in comparison to some of the horror stories I've heard about student loans...but a significantly painful amount nonetheless. Outraged...because I knew good and well that I did not have a student loan out, I sent a certified letter stating that I would not pay said loan as I had no knowledge of said loan (thank you very much, Mr. Dave Ramsey). Well, a month and a half later, I received supporting documentation showing my signature...plain as day...staring back at me from a loan I took out with my sweetie. (See those of you who do not handle the MUST stay up on these things!) Mortified and convicted of the fact that I did indeed owe a wad o' cash, I waited for the sale of my home to see if I could negotiate a lower debt (again, thank you Mr. Dave Ramsey). Alas, I am a pitiful negotiator!!! Do NOT send me in for a hostage crisis.

Here's how my negotiating went down, after the preliminaries of who I am and what my account is:

Me: "Can you help me reduce this debt? I just sold my house, and I'd really like to wipe this out completely...right now." (I know...not too bad so far...)

Maria: "What amount do you think is fair?" Yeah, if you know me, you know this is where I plummeted...

Me: "I am not asking for fair, because fair is paying the full amount. I am asking for mercy." (Then I threw out a number...WHICH SHE ACCEPTED...PRAISE GOD. Immediately, I thought, "Doh, what if I had given an even lower number????")

I know my sis, Christy (my financial guru) is proud...and I'm certain her brother is, too (no, not you, Tony)!

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Real Deal

Here's the real deal. I'm done medicating my pain through the sacrifice of deliciously plump, green acorns. I have been hiding at the Wylies...eating tons of chips...drinking tons of soda...abandoning any form of physical activity (other than stepping on green acorns)...and waiting. I think I'm going through an empty nest sort of thing...sans the kids leaving is me leaving home. This realization all came about during lunch with a DEAR childhood friend. Reimer, as we always called Jennifer, was here visiting, and we met for lunch. She mentioned how sorry she was about what happened to Chuck...that one always throws me for a loop. How do I respond? I still don't know how I feel about what happened to Chuck. I may never fully know this side of heaven...what it all meant. But I do know this...loving Chuck as he struggled through those long days and encouraging Chuck as he died was the GREATEST honor of my life, coming only second to the honor of being Chuck's wife. I cannot express how unworthy I feel to have received this precious calling. what? I feel a bit calling is mission complete. To be honest, I really don't want a new calling. I would prefer to live out the rest of my days in obscurity...kind of isolating myself...awaiting my ultimate call home. Alas, my life is not my own...I was purchased with the blood of Christ. My life is not mine to hide away.

As God would have it, I am currently involved in a worship ministry for four and five-year-olds...teaching them how to DANCE, LEAP, SING, AND PRAY before God. Can you imagine a better gig? (Okay, admittedly not for everyone...but it hits that cheerleader/camp counselor thing RIGHT smack dab in the sweet spot.) It's like a weekly pep-rally...much like David's leaping and dancing before the Lord. In any case, one of the songs we've learned has held me captive for weeks: "Here is my life, Lord. You can use me to show the world you care."

So, though I cannot imagine a higher calling than the one fulfilled with my precious Chuck, I am timidly stepping out in faith...I will open my heart...I will stay involved with the world...I pray I am used...well.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Green Acorns ABOUND

Because I am incredibly emotional...filled with joy and grief...I've decided to ditch what is going on in my life right now for something more relevant...GREEN ACORNS. My favorite time of year is fast approaching. I love fall for too many reasons to detail...alas, my greatest joy of fall is GREEN ACORNS.

I discovered this delight as a freshman at A&M. I was walking across campus to class, when I spotted a beautifully green...plump...inviting acorn. It called out to me...and I answered. With one decisive step upon this deliciously ripe nut, my life forever changed. There is NOTHING quite as satisfying as popping a ripe green acorn under foot...nothing. Granted, you must be in proper shoe attire...flip flops do not allow for that POP that feels soooooo gratifying.

All this to say, I am staying with friends who have a driveway littered with GREEN ACORNS. It has been hard for me to focus on anything else, as they call to me night and day...speaking of, I hear one now....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Things I Would NEVER Do

There are some lines that should never be crossed cause once traversed, there ain’t no turning back. I know this because I may have trounced upon such a line or two from time to time…and I have learned my lesson. That being said, there are some things that I simply would NEVER do.

I would never allow the closing of the home that I had shared with my sweetie to fall dangerously close to the first anniversary of his death. That would be ludicrous, especially since one can be a bit tender during such a time…one might be prone to irrational behavior. Were I to do something like that, I might spread myself too thin emotionally. If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s my personal boundaries…when to say when…when to be gentle with myself because I have fully accepted the fact that I am a mere human…with frailties and such. So I would NEVER do that. But for fun, let’s just say that maybe I did cross that line; I would certainly NEVER follow it up by volunteering to keep my sister’s kids for a surprise anniversary get away that her sweetie had planned for her. I mean, come on…volunteer for something like that? As in say, “Hey, I can do this…let me help.” Cause had I signed up for something like that, it could potentially cut my time to get out of the house short by TWO days. That would be utterly ridiculous. For grins though, let’s say that I had given in to that lie that I am a bit stronger and more capable than the average slob, so I had actually done all of the above…then I would NEVER try to accomplish “work” during such an insane time. I would take at least a day or two off. Cause had I tried to do work during such an insane time, I might actually find myself running impetuously out of the building toward home to try a last-ditch effort to sand a burn mark out of the cultured marble in the bathroom…since I had foolishly burned a candle too low…since my mind had been on a zillion other things. Of course, the only reason I might find myself rushing off to try such a mad-cap idea would be because I was trying to decompress at work by googling odds and ends…such as removing burn marks…and then received a phone call about the final walk through being in a few hours…and since I had been playing mom (voluntarily) had not been able to get to the house until this very moment to take care of the burn mark that had been plaguing my sleep…NO WAY would I have run home to try out the remedy (successfully)…right smack dab in the middle of the work day. I would NEVER do that.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Just Jan

I love it when God brings everything full-circle. For example, the name of my blog. I agonized over what to call it...seriously...for a very long time. The history of my blog is that my dearest Janet showed me how to blog a YEAR prior to my actually doing it...and for that entire year I tried to come up with a name. Then on a whim, I decided to jump in the day before Chuck's surgery. It provided a quick, easy way for me to communicate en mass. Never could I ever have dreamed how God would use times as a life-line!

So, back to the name...Just Jan...I'm there. It really is just me. It is sinking in...the packing...the organizing...the phone calls...all done by just me for just me to start a new life with just me (Chuck in my heart...but you get it.)

Currently I am spent...probably a combo of the air mattress and the constant packing, sorting, storing. I don't remember what life was like when I had moments of NOT PREPARING TO MOVE...when I actually had time to just sit. After Friday (closing date), I may freak out a bit...culture shock...nothing to do.

In any I come world...just Jan.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Roughing It

I am down to my last two nights in this home of ours. All of the BIG items have been carried away and stored (thank you Darrin, Cory, Tod, Troy, and CLARA). All I have left in the house is an air mattress, the computer, the TV (sad, but "necessity") and some clothes. I tend to have separation anxiety whether is over a loved-one OR a loved-thing. To help with this, I thought I'd separate from our home in stages...thus the brilliant idea to rough it the last few nights. As is common, I didn't think the whole thing through. It is MUCH tougher living without a refrigerator than I realized it would be. I keep popping in at my sister's, "Feed me, Shea!" Her kids look at me like I'm insane...they best get used to their aunt's unconventional ways of walking through this life...we've got a long road ahead of us.

Nonetheless, the sadness is starting to set in. I sat in what used to be "the blue room" last night and cried with Chuck. That was our room o' comfort while we lived here together. He went through about 9 months of extreme pain and constant weariness prior to the surgery. Every day after work, we'd retreat to the blue room to watch movies or whatever he had recorded on the DVR. We ate popcorn, drank soda, and basked in each other's company. Dang, I'm crying again.

So, two more nights here...then off to a new beginning...a new life. Chuck is permanently implanted in my heart, so he's coming, too! I know he's getting a kick out of watching me do all this stuff...handling all the business of selling our home. I know he's proud. I know he's not surprised, as he always believed in me.

Please keep my heart in your prayers...courage and joy for this final leap into the new way of life to which God has called me.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Celebrating Chuck

Thanks again everyone. You made the 20th truly GREAT. (You'll note my photos are missing due to technical difficulties...)

View this montage created at One True Media
I Celebrated Chuck 8/20/08

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thank You!

I KNOW many of you prayed yesterday. I should not be shocked and amazed, but I am...not that you prayed, but that God was so faithful in granting our requests. The day was so full of sweetness and fun...of course a few tears...I'm still me after all. So thank you for covering me in prayer. Like usual, God gave me a day above and beyond anything I could have hoped for or imagined.

My morning began at 6:30 with a knock at the door. Standing outside were five smiling faces (with a hint of will-she-be-mad worry...too cute). My sister invited my small group over for coffee and prayer. I was, because I just woke up, but two, because I was overwhelmed with their thoughtfulness.

I spent most of the day with my sister and her family...Barnes and Noble story time; lunch (with Cel alone...she's a sushi fan, too); HAIRCUTS; then the campfire.

My camp friends and I created a time capsule for New Year's Eve 1999. We vowed to open it at the passing of the first one of us...I could strangle Chuck for being first. It was filled with photos, various t-shirts, ticket stubs, and a list of memories. It didn't take long for us to figure out that the next time we open it, we need to have actually WRITTEN OUT THE our minds, they are a aging. Next step, we will all contribute two articles of memorabilia and write out a couple of stories to seal until the next passing. I assured everyone that no one else will die...EVER.

OH, and the photos you sent...cherry on top. THANK YOU. Thank you for celebrating Chuck with me. I feel so loved...and honored...and grateful.

Photos to come.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This Day ROCKED!

It is stinkin' 11:26 and I'm still awake. Alas, this day has rocked from beginning to end. I know many, many, many of you covered me in prayer...mission accomplished. This day was filled with joy and fun...and a few tender tears. Thanks to those who sent pics...too much fun...all grins from ear to ear, I was. If you don't mind, I want to post them. Ross may create something for the FixUpChuck website, too.

In any case, I will details the days events at a more reasonable hour. Thank you everyone for such a BLESSED day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Grief Uncensored

Since Friday evening, I’ve had a constant ache…that has grown with each passing moment. Unexpectedly, FRIDAY was hard…as was SATURDAY…as was today. No, not the anniversary dates, so quite unexpected. It took me a while on Friday to figure out what was creeping in…it was the last FRIDAY that Chuck was conscious and that we spoke…it was the last SATURDAY that I kissed him on the cheek…it was the last SUNDAY that I spent with him.

It’s been a while since the ache has been so constant. I had forgotten how hard it is to breathe…to move…to act…to function. Facing the matter head on, I decided to do some “laundry room time,” thus facing my actual pain…in the hope of alleviating some of the sting. I gathered my supplies = candle, Chuck’s wedding ring, toilet paper…as I am currently out of Kleenex. I set the timer for 15 minutes, took a deep breath, then closed the laundry room door.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly and violently my tears come…and that sound that is so utterly torn that escapes from my lips surprises me still. “Is that me? Is that sound coming from me?” I started to talk out loud…and soon found myself censoring myself…censoring my grief. Thoughts such as “Lean on God, Jan...” or “Cry to Jesus…” or worse, “This is all for a purpose.” How ludicrous…I took a stand….I would NOT censor myself…not for me and certainly not for God. He didn’t want my weak attempts to be strong. It wouldn’t fool him anyway. What he wants…all he ever really wants…is the real deal.

So my words took on uncensored truth as I cried out, “I don’t want to be strong, God. I want to be weak. And I want CHUCK to carry me. I want Chuck. I want Chuck. I want Chuck.” I sounded like the little girl who used to beg for her mom when dropped off with the babysitter. The babysitter was great…kind, sweet…but I did NOT want the babysitter. I wanted my MOM. And that’s how I felt about God in that instant. I DID NOT WANT TO BE CARRIED BY GOD…I wanted Chuck. I wanted to let go and let Chuck speak peace to me. I wanted Chuck to soothe me. I wanted CHUCK.

When is it that we learn to censor our grief? I am so grateful that God…in the midst of my wailing…whispered to me, “yes, yes, yes” rather than “it will be alright…don’t cry…shhhhhhh.”

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Whatever You're Doing...

Heard this song for the first time today. While the video is a bit cheezy...boy/girl stuff, my take on it was much deeper and a bit more profound (not to knock boy/girl stuff, of course). It reminded me of the beauty of this year. Truly, this year has been precious. While it was painful, it kept me on my knees constantly...if not on my face. It allowed me to see the very face of God...his tender care for the crushed in spirit. And it's allowed God to "fix" some of the broken areas of my life. These transformations could not have occured had it not been for the agony of losing my dearest, most precious Chuck. I learned for the first time in my life that I am not strong enough...that I am not smart enough...that I am not enough to make what happened to Chuck alright. Yet God did...can...and does. I've never known God as an intimate...until this year. I've never known for certain that I could trust him...until this year. I've never believed in beauty from ashes...until this year.

Whatever He is doing in my bigger than me. What a trip that He let's me be part of something larger than life.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Dropping of the Dignity

Last Saturday I took Kyser and Celis with me to a wedding reception. Going alone, where there was sure to be dancing and frolicking, I really wanted some accessories. It was in an open-air paviliion complete with a HUGE dance floor and a d.j. Now I took special care in getting ready for the event...eyeshadow and EVERYTHING.

We show up and things are slow, as is natural at the beginning of such events. The kids were bored stiff and I thought, okay, we'll eat our dinner then least it was a beautiful drive and we had fun in the car. BUT WAIT. The d.j. announced the first dance for the bride and groom...then the fun began...first song to last, Celis was on the dance floor. Kyser soon followed her...and then me. Not many ensued. Occasionally a few brave souls joined us especially for the chicken song, the hokey pokey, Y.M.C.A...the kids delighted in the lights, the music, the free reign over the dance floor. I delighted in THEM.

At one point I took a break, and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. That carefully applied makeup was G-O-N-E and I looked a mess...but happy. I took a wet paper towel and cleaned all the remaining makeup from my face...and hit the dance floor once more. At one point I thought, I'm that woman. And it was quite a surprise. Socially I am timid and shy...unsure of how to behave or interact with others...but with years of tutelage under the auspicious Chuck Picciuti, I've become a dropper of the dignity.

Back in the day, we had a discipline at Texas Lions Camp called “dropping your dignity.” Essentially, it was instilled in all counselors that the more you could achieve this state of disregard for your pride, the more delighted the kids would be. The more silly dances, the more goofy songs, the more wiggles and giggles, the better. This was all well and good for camp. It was perfectly acceptable…nay…commendable to achieve maximum lack o’ dignity at camp.

Enter, Chuck Picciuti. He brought this discipline into my very life. And it’s impact stays with me still. I couldn't help but smile as I thought of how Chuck would have joined us on the dance floor. Many of you have seen his classic wiggle in the chair routine...with long arms flying and fingers pointing in all directions. I take delight that I have become that woman...that I love being silly on the dance floor...that every time I do, Chuck is with me...that I have children in my life who (at this point) will encourage my silliness. (I know, the teen years are a coming.) For now, what a joy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Third night in a row I've dreamt of Chuck...all good dreams...all healthy Chuck. My mind must REALLY be working over-time trying to prepare itself. God's design is amazing and never ceases to amaze me. I'm looking forward to tonight's adventure.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fitful Sleep

Weird night o' "sleep" for me. God has graciously bestowed the gift of sleep upon his gentle servant. Alas, I had bizarro dreams all night. I'm certain that I'm processing the events of last August 20. To make matters worse, I've been reading last year's August posts...I'm not reading ahead...just keeping up with the dates. Sick? I can't seem to help myself...searching for clues, I guess.

In any case, last night I had a dream about Chuck. He was "my Chuck" i.e. before the hospital and even before he become wracked with constant pain. We were standing in the backyard of my childhood home. He was explaining to me that he was about to die and I was crying. "What am I supposed to do without you? Who will help me figure stuff out?" Now granted, it was a dream it may not make sense...but he told me, "You know. I'm just like my dad. I love to problem solve. That's why it's been so great being married to you." (Great compliment eh? ) "Just make sure that you don't pass up people because they have problems." Meaning? No idea. But they seemed like such wise words in my dream. That's what it left me with, a feeling of wisdom being passed from him to me...his final words of encouragement.

Then I had a sweet dream about my friend, Laura. We were at church and there was a time of prayer for married couples. I got down on my knees and rested my head on my seat. Then I started crying uncontrollably. Laura came over and put her arms around me...I couldn't respond for the longest because I was crying so hard...I couldn't hug back or speak. She sweetly whispered to me, "This is where I came to be." Again, dream words that don't necessarily make sense in the light of day...but they did in my dream. They struck a chord of sweet peace.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Chuck and Bernie

Bernie Mac has left the world of the dying and is playing with Chuck in the land of the living! I know Chuck could not be more thrilled as he was a HUGE fan. Sad for the world...happy for Chuck...and Bernie.
I've been so encouraged by the show of many hair cuts planned for the 20th. The Brinkerhoffs have come through once again. I work with Lee and he's letting it all go...beard and hair. So daily, I get to see his scruffiness. Makes me feel humbled and grateful that people would go to such lengths. "I'm not worthy!"

Okay, I've received tons of support concerning my tendency to hold on to Chuck as MINE. I tend to hold on to people and things with a death grip. Refreshinly, I learned in a finance class that the fist is the international sing of anger...when I hold onto things like that, it's out of fear and anger...not part of God's plan.

At times my heart does not register that Chuck was God's. I know it in my head...but there's no connect in my soul. So hearing that Chuck was not really mine doesn't help BUT hearing it in a new way does. My sweet friend Tiffany put it this way...and for some reason it struck home.

"I challenge you to cast out the lies in your life that anything that God gives you is yours. It is all his. The grief, the moments with Chuck. The love Chuck gave you, the love you gave him."

It's the idea that the LOVE we shared is God's. It's hard for me to accept that God owns the physical stuff...but I can easily accept the abstract things...LOVE. God is love. The amazing feelings and devotion Chuck and I shared were God' AMAZING gift to us. And yes, that helps me know that my very Chuck was his, too...a gift (that I really liked...and really wanted to keep!!)

Monday, August 04, 2008

He Makes Me Lie Down

God has been calling to me for weeks now. “Rest with me. Come spend some time. You are running on fumes. Let me breathe life into you. You are doing too much in your own strength. Rest." I have responded with never-ending to-do lists. I have kept myself busy with the computer or movies or babysitting or looking for apartments or going through boxes or selling stuff on Craigslist. You name it, I’ve used it to keep away from quiet rest…from God.

We just finished an amazing series at church on Psalm 23. It stands on its own as a beautiful, calming piece of poetry. When read or spoken aloud, it can soothe even the most anxious heart. Mindy read it a couple of times during our vigil with Chuck. It was so beautiful the first time she read it, I couldn't help but whisper, “Read it again.” I could have listened to it all night long. Here it is in all its perfection:

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

While the rhythm of the words alone creates comfort, learning the background behind the message brought me to my knees in awe of God's gentle, knowledgeable love for people. This knowledge , of what it is to shepherd a flock of sheep, has breathed new life into these precious lines. The study was extensive, so I shall highlight only the part that God used on me yesterday.

Sheep will NOT rest. They will NOT rest…they will go and go, or stand in the heat. They will stand in the heat til they pass out. Thus, a good shepherd MAKES his sheep lie down in cool places…like tall grass. MAKES them do this because they just refuse to do it on their own.

For weeks now I have "been out dealing with things way beyond my maturity level.” And I have been trying to do it cerebrally, with reason and information. (My default is always knowledge. If I am worried about something, I educate myself on the topic. This makes me feel safe…or at least gives me the illusion of control. Since Chuck’s death, I have taken FIVE classes on grief.) This is my very own stumbling block since 1) God uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and 2) God is so far beyond comprehension that all followers eventually come to the same point of submission...God, you are a mystery. You cannot be understood. No one can fathom the depths of your knowledge. And we let it go at that.

So for a while I had been running from a fear...and it slowly took up residence in my heart. The whole time God had been beckoning me to be still and rest in him...confide in him...cry to him...but that required a level of vulnerability that scared me. What if I couldn't recover from that level of brokenness? What if I couldn't get it together again? Slowly...a bitterness that shocked me made itself VERY present Sunday during worship. These things did not just pop into my brain...they sprang from my very heart...where they had been sitting and festering.

What follows is a heart that had roamed far from God...a heart that had become mired in self-pity and fear. The song that triggered this outburst dealt with how we will give everything to God. I lost my mind. My thoughts were thrown up toward the singers on stage (poor, unsuspecting targets). I shudder that my heart can be so filled with judgement, venom, and self-righteousness:

YOU STUPID don't have the first clue of what it is to really give up everything to God. With your raised hands and your happy worshipful faces. I'VE DONE IT. I HAVE GIVEN HIM EVERYTHING. STRIKE THAT. HE TOOK EVERYTHING that mattered to me. He took my very life and breath. He took my heart. EVERYTHING? You think you'd happily just give him everything?? And you, cute, pregnant DARE you sing about giving everything to God because YOU WOULDN'T. With your cute pregnant belly, and your loving husband...what do you know? Would you give up your "life"...your baby and husband? NOOOOOO. SO STOP with this ridiculous song BECAUSE YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS TO GIVE IT safe with your happy families...singing about how you would do something THAT I HAVE ALREADY DONE. Stupid happy people. I've just decided, you don't get to sing this song. Stupid in your your perfect your cute pregnancy states...stupid, stupid, stupid.

Yeah. During worship. Yeah. I could almost hear God's heart break. A line had been crossed and I had a choice to make. Continue in this state, or literally come to Jesus. Just like a kid who knows when she's gone too far and willingly surrenders to consequences, I was ready to lie down. And that's exactly what we did. After church I crawled into bed and spoke out loud to him...I poured out my fear and confessed my bitterness. I confessed my fear. I repented from the running. I confessed and repented until I was spent...then I listened. Almost immediately a verse popped into my head, Psalm 51:10. "Create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me."

He did and I slept. I slept for two hours. I'm still a bit shaken and weak, but God has provided a shepherd's table on which I can rest and regain my strength as he breathes new life into my weary soul.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Getting into the Spirit of Things...

I love that several of you have made your hair appointment for August 20. The more I think about that, the more I giggle. What a perfect way to celebrate A) Chuck's life and B) his homecoming.

"The date" is still a bit sketchy...I am learning to wait on the Lord. Actually, he is showing me the wisdom is waiting...and showing me that he is always on time...and is continually walking before me. Now he's showing me how to be still and follow his the BEST paths and the BEST places of rest...for me.

Case and point, I waited for an idea for how to honor the day. It came and BOY was it good! I have been agonizing over what to do for months...seriously, since about March. Lots of neat ideas, but nothing registered in my spirit. Nothing was right for me and nothing was right for Chuck. So I waited...and waited...and waited (not my strong suite...I tend to leap and then look back over my shoulder and consider what it is that I've gotten myself into!)

Okay, this is how the plan is unfolding...if you want to cutting or shaving until August 20. Please oh please take a before and after photo. Men--go to a barber for a cut and shave...ladies--salon of your choice. Then send me your pics! I cannot wait.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Okay, so I woke up this morning...and it was just another day...another gift. Thanks for all the ideas for ways to celebrate the month of August.

Mom came to the rescue with a gentle reminder. This is what happened to Chuck on August 20. First, he saw the face on the one who made him and heard, "Well done, Chuckito." Second, his body was pain free and STRONG (to match his spirit!) It was the BEST, most joyous day of his life. Thinking of Chuck's take on the day makes it a joy.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


I just got into work and noticed that today is July 31. Then I burst into tears...I'm so afraid for tomorrow. I'm so afraid of August. My fears...that I can't do it...that I can't face that month...that I cannot make it through another August 20. I want to yell...WAIT...just wait...please, let's linger here a bit longer in July.

This feeling so reminds me of the first time I used that word with such passion...with such pleading...with such desperation. I was about four-years-old, and was playing a GREAT new game at my Aunt Teresa's house. I had created it all by myself...and was playing it all by myself...and was quite pleased...with myself. I had just discovered that by standing straight and leaning forward, I could momentarily feel like I was flying...then I would catch myself before I fell too far forward. So I was experimenting with how far I could lean before catching myself...the farther, the more "fly" time. Then I got a BRILLIANT idea...I would stand on the porch and lean over the side...and uh, put my hands in my pockets.... Hey, I was four! I'm sure you know what happened next...busted chin first on the sidewalk below (but BOY the fly time was GREAT).

My aunt frantically rushed me to the ER, where I begged for a band-aid. "I just need a band aid...please...give me a band-aid." Then I see it...the needles...for deadening and stitching. 'WAIT...just wait...please...just wait." The nurse comes towards me with the needle and I am beside myself with begging..."Please, please, wait." Now I don't know why I thought waiting would help. It wasn't like it was going to hurt any less. It wasn't as if waiting would magically transport me out of the situation. But I was desperate for a chance to catch my breath before the searing was not granted. And I know my pleas for a delay in time will not occur. August comes tomorrow...with all its pain. Just as the stitches helped heal my body...holding onto Jesus and letting grief do its work in me will heal my soul. Still...I sure could use a little more time.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hair cuts for everyone! I have finally thought of a way to honor Chuck on the day of his entry to heaven...a hair cut. As many of you know, the man refused to cut his hair until he was home. Thus, he became an adorably scraggly looking fellow. I really wish I had thought to cut his hair upon his arrival to the pearly gates. Eh, what ya gonna do? In any case, I do hereby declare AUGUST 20 as national hair cut day. I will get mine done, and encourage you to schedule your appointment now for August 20. You fellas can even let your facial hair go for a few weeks, then visit a barber for a shave or something cool like that. Just a thought....

Sunday, July 27, 2008 tired...God...big God....lots of movement in my heart and tired...will write later. In the meantime...praising an amazingly personal God who knows me inside out...and provides surprises to bless my heart in ways only he can.

Friday, July 25, 2008

What happens to the boy who suddenly gets everything he's ever wanted? (Willie Wonka would say that he lives happily ever after.) My FAVORITE singer/song-writer has been sent to Nashville (my sister in tow) to produce an album. I am so stinkin proud I could burst. More than that, Greg is a conduit for the holy spirit...prolifically producing songs that touch my heart. Funny, I know his music, yet each time I hear a song, the spirit speaks something new into me. In any case...listen along.

p.s. My current favorite is "Can't Blame It on You." It is an ode to my sister. Greg has a POWERFUL life story...addiction, hope, failure, love, freedom....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

VICTORY! I believe the house has sold AND the dog-urine-collection project was a success. Amy Brinkerhoff, you are a genius. I doubted your crazy ladle technique but it worked like a charm!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wrap was a GREAT visit with Janet. We drove to Austin to see the bats last first time ever. (I am a HUGE fan of the bat...not sure why...I find them fascinating and quite adorable...but I think mice are cute too, so there you have it.) Upon seeing the last of the bats leave the bridge, I saw the FIRST star of evening. EVERY time that happens, I cannot help but do the whole, "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, wish I may, wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight." I pondered for a moment...small wish...big wish? Then I realized...I am so utterly contented and grateful for where I am...all I could manage was "more of the same, please."

Lately I feel awash in gratitude for the JOY in my life...thanks only to God. I know...I should be a mess...I should be miserable...I should have heart should be filled with venom and bitterness. When we sang in church today, "God can move a mountain," I wept because he CAN. He DID move a mountain in my life. He moved me! He moved me from utter loss to utter abundance. You must know, surley, you must know how much I adored my husband. You must know how losing him shattered my heart. You must know how his struggle in the hospital stripped me of every human comfort and left me raw and bleeding. Surely you must know. That I am standing; that I am functioning; that I have a life FILLED with joy and love...that I can receive love...and hope...that I can HOPE after such a devastating loss...surely you must know that is a GIFT to me from our God...the one who is MIGHTY to save...our God is mighty to save.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

All of you in the hill country area...if it has been a while (20 years for me) since you've gone tubing...put it on your TO DO LIST. Whew. Absolute heaven...blast...picturesque...lazy, lazy, lazy (in a great way). Alas, Janet and I did 4 hours, which may have been a bit much. I took my trusty sun-screen with me and held on to it for dear life during the whole time. I bought it yesterday morning and almost went through the whole bottle. I guess I can be a bit obsessive compulsive. NOT A SINGLE RED MARK, I'm proud to say. Alas, my eyes did not manage as well. I suspect that I actually burned that possible? Janet jokingly called it...the river blindness..."Ya got the river blindness, do ya?" I don't want to rip them from their sockets like I did yesterday, BUT they are still pretty sensitive to light.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My b.f.f. from college is coming to visit! Janet just finished a two-year-tour with the peace corp in Ecuador. Now, I met Chuck first...but got to know Janet well before knowing Chuck. Alas, I often think of Janet as a female version of Chuck...witty and too smart for her own good. She and Chuck become vicious rivals...vying for my laughter. Any time she came to visit, it was a score for me cause the two would put forth their best efforts...the prize being my peals of laughter.

I'm going to try to do a new-fangled link to Janet's post in which she explains Chuck's #1 weapon in the Chuck-Janet wars...
Just an update on urine collection...Friday is collection day (b/c I'm not working and can get it to the vet post haste). Amy Brinkerhoff has come through once again...a ladle. You use a of course...unless you have to do the job again!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Just a whole lot of nothing going on right now...which should be great. Alas transitioning from too much to do to too little to do can be jarring to the system.

My house has had TWELVE viewings. The folks who come in rate the house...and I must say that I get REALLY upset with any negative feedback. I want to tell these folks, "You are no longer welcome in my home...which I've lovingly prepared for your viewing...get out and never come back...and take your negative feedback with you!" Silly, I know.

It's only been a week...and I've even had an offer...waaaaaay too low though. Still, I'm starting to doubt this whole thing. "Really God? Is this what I'm supposed to do? Really? Are you sure? Then why is it hard???"

On the joyous end...I'm having a blast with the kids. Our relationships have deepened in such beautiful ways. I'm truly a part of their lives...of their family. Kilian told me the other day, "You're like my mommy." Mmmmm...does it get any better?

I am missing my Picciuti family too much. I have been dreaming of my niece Lindsey I sorta get to visit her.

On a funny note, I took Bailey to the vet and they were unable to get a urine sample. So guess what my homework is. I have a hard enough time collecting a urine sample from in the world will I get one from my DOG???

That's it...waiting for a handy-man to arrive...because my patch job on the ceiling did not pass muster.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen...we have a test...a few to be exact. This was an actual phrase I overheard in our "war" room..."looks like the b parameter is shifting. We need to pull it back." To which, Chuck would have said, "Well adjust the flux capacitor, for heaven's sakes."

The week was TOUGH but rewarding...not only do I work with amazing people...our clients aren't too shabby themselves. Seriously, I was blessed beyond belief. It is a GREAT encouragement to me to know that the children of "my state" are in such capable, loving, creative, silly (in the child-like-minded way) hands.

During the week, I was blessed with a new mentor...Victoria happens to be married to one of my favorite math guys. Alas, she is a widow. When she found out that I'm new to the widow thing, she made it her business to make time for me...just to share and chat.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Just a note...I will be falling off the face of the earth this week. It is my team's most exciting, exhausting, frustrating, exhilirating, head-banging, agony-enducing, thrilling week of the entire year. WE WILL BE CONSTRUCTING TESTS...which essentially means I will be 1) super busy and 2) too exhausted mentally to write...or call...or speak. (We reading people will be neck-deep in STATISTICS...can you believe it???)

Oh, and I've selected a realtor...home is going on the market!!!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

If you have never taken a 3-and-3/4-year-old to the movies, do yourself a HUGE favor and round one up! I took Kilian to see Wall-E today...and these were some of the perks. She climbed up into my lap and basically layed down...propping her head on the cushy arm rest. Her commentary was delightful...but the BEST was the trip to the bathroom. She is a "big girl," so she got her own stall. When she was done she beckoned me with "Aunt Janny, I need heeeeelp." When I opened the stall door, she was standing there stark naked...too hilarious...stark naked...something her uncle Chuck would have be it was one of his favorite "tricks" catch me off guard by showing up somewhere random...naked. (No, no...never in public...well, not really public so much as inappropriate.) This segues nicely into his TOP performance...we are driving all night...from Spearman to Dallas. I am at the wheel and he is talking to me about something...don't remember what...and he just waits. In retrospect, I have no idea how long he sat there stark naked before I glanced see him with that I AM SO PROUD OF MYSELF look on his face...and of course, I laughed until I cried.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Okay, so I'm looking through files of pictures on the computer and I come to one Chuck has titled...BEST PICTURE EVER...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

For the past two weeks, I have been a bit weepy...longing-for-Chuck weepy. Memories of him sneak up on me at odd times...on the way to the cafeteria...on the stairwell...walking to the copier...and the tears come. So basically, I'm walking around at work with tears either ready to spill...spilling...or, well, you get it. It's a busy time right now (work and home) and there are probably many contributing factors...but here's the deal. The year anniversary is fast approaching...and I don't want it to come. I find comfort in thinking, "a year ago Chuck was...". I do NOT want to get too far away from his living years...I want them to stay fresh. I do NOT want to say, "a year ago Chuck was dead and I was in agony."

I think the weather is a contributing was HOT when Chuck was here in the hospital. I remember keeping a pair of flip flops in my car for after work...I'd truck out through the HOT parking lot at work...slide on the comfy flip flops...rush to the hospital and PRAY for a spot under a tree...trek across the HOT parking lot...and up to my beloved. My body seems to be responding to the HOT weather by recycling these memories...and its not just the's smells. Each season seems to come with its own smells...its own signature...for me all of summer screams...Chuck's death is's coming.

So...while the anniversary is still a month and a half away, please start praying for this big transition. Please pray that I allow the pain to wash over me. Please pray that I weep freely...and reach for comfort from God and others. Pray for a way for me to commemorate the day....

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Okay, so selling our home is tougher than I, I still haven't even met with an agent. He's coming on Wednesday. It's the emotional move that's hurting my heart. I did not realize how attached I had become to my home...and most likely it's been the past 10 months that has cinched the deal. Our home...has brought me so much comfort. So much healing has transpired here. PLUS, moving out means moving on...moving forward toward a great big unknown. I loved my life with Chuck. I loved being Chuck's wife. While the idea of "total independence" is thrilling...I just want to be home with Chuck. Moving into an apartment as a single is such a big emotional leap. Of course, every time I check in with God I get a thumbs I'm moving forward....

Monday, June 30, 2008

The house...she is ready (sniffle...sniffle). The last "big push," as I've been calling it, is complete in LARGE part to some GREAT guys that I work with. Upon reading in my blog that I was going to sand and stain my door, Lee shows up the next day...hands me a black carrying case and says, "You'll need power tools..." too cool. Then he gives me step by step instrustions...which I followed...and the door is lovely. THANKS LEE.

Then, there's John. He brought his truck over Saturday and we were schooled in the fine art of collecting, hauling, and dumping mulch. Whew....

Finally, there's Bob-O. He replaced my fence boards, edged my yard, AND trimmed the hedges.

These are all such beautiful, God-loving men. I praise God that I am able to work with such men...heros...each of them.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

"The camp group" had a very special evening last night...we celebrated Laura's 40th. We met at a beautiful new hotel downtown...boarded a river cruise...had dinner ON THE BOAT...toasted Laura...who toasted those she loved. It was perfection. Later...up to the FANCY hotel was like an apartment...with a doorbell and everything. Nicole (with the help of Laura's family) made a slide show with classic Laura pics.

Here's the deal...Laura is...oh do you describe her??? She is a gentle healer with an impish smile...a good naturedly ornery risk taker with a heart of gold and unreknowned grace...but that really doesn't do her justice. WE ALL LOVE YOU, LAURA!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Well, the inevitable has happened. In preparing my home for that I can move into an that I do not need to be handy...I have become handy. I don't know when it happened. I don't know how it happened. But here I am...a full month into home repair projects...and I have accomplished the following:

  • priming and painting seven rooms in my house (including 2 ceiling areas...with walls up to 18 feet high...I did have some help with this...thank God)
  • sealing and repairing cracks in my ceiling
  • hanging brackets for valances made of wood
  • covering said valances with gorgeous fabric (purchased at a great price...thank you Hancock Fabrics)
  • hanging valances
  • removing front door handle for polishing
  • replacing front door handle (MUCH harder than removing)
  • repairing head on sprinkler system (NEVER again will I call for this simple, cheap minute and two dollars)

These projects are on the horizon for the weekend...if help is unavailable...I'm thoroughly prepared to take on:

  • repairing my fence (about 15 boards)
  • sanding and staining my front door

NOW...this may not sound like a big deal...but if you knew'd probably pass out from shock.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Something significant happened in my life yesterday...but I'm not sure how to explain what it was. It all happened as the result of a simple request given out of utter saddness, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening," he did. No, I did not hear his voice. He spoke into my spirit...he spoke scripture...and I'm still trying to understand exactly what the scripture means...oddly enough.

Yesterday was filled with tears from beginning to, well, to about 5:00...constant, steady flow. MY HEART MISSED CHUCK SO MUCH. It's weird...I have days like that...they sneak up and simply take my breath away...literally. I cannot express the sadness...sadness in all its purity. No frustration...simply sadness over the absence of my beloved. I felt like I did when I was four and my mom would drop me off with a baby-sitter. (I was one of those kids...the kind who would cry until they exhausted themselves...and simply passed the relief of the baby-sitter.) I tried napping...but Chuck's empty side of the bed kept calling to me. I ran my hand up and down his spot...the spot where he used to sleep beside me...and wept uncontrollably. Alas, I did not pass out from exhaustion...much to my dismay.

Here's the deal...VBS started last night, and I knew I had to face five-year-olds near the end of the day. My first thought...this is most likely part of a spiritual second thought was, "Ha Satan...I'm going anyway...take that!" Cause seriously, I was having hesitations...what if I have a melt down there? Then God the midst of a wing-dinger cry session..."out of this broken state, pour yourself out." I perked...I wanted to offer broken, shattered God...I wanted to give myself to service TO HIM... as a token of my love and appreciation to HIM. I do not know why the broken part was so important...but my spirit received direction to give from this place of intense sorrow.

Now this concept is counter-intuitive to me. I give out of abundance...doesn't a vessel need to be FULL in order to pour out from it??? In any endeavor like VBS, I psyche myself up...come up with a wealth of ideas for activities...prepare myself body, mind and soul. Yet God was calling me to give out of my broken emptiness....(I am a HARSH critic of the martyr-type person...always giving and wearing themselves this directive was given to an unlikely candidate. I tend to always worry about spreading myself too thin...I guard against such reckless behavior. Make no mistake, this odd directive...once acted upon...FILLED me with and rest.)

Last night was amazingly and surprisingly fun...and challenging. As you might expect from spending hours with a group of five-year-olds...there was narry a thought given to my sadness. But I was left with the question...what was the pouring myself out about? I did a google search...yes, a google search of scripture. I found a couple of references...all by Paul. I read the words but still didn't quite get them...what the heck is a drink offering anyway? (Philipians 2:17: But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.) I'm quite sure God will be revealing this to me in the days...months...years ahead.