Sunday, January 27, 2008

Laying low as of late. I will be out of town this upcoming week, so few posts if any.

This morning I heard a beautiful and startling message about following God...he continually calls us foward. We must leave what is behind us, whether good or bad, and move ahead. Once Moses had died, God let Joshua know, "Hey, Moses is gone. You're the man now. Take these people and cross over to the promised land. Let's go...chop, chop."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

This is an exerpt from a blog entry that a friend sent me. There is so much wisdom in this young father's words. His son has leukemia. I've changed the name of the boy. What a beautiful reminder of the gift of grief.

Another thing that this means is that reality strikes our family again.

I say "reality" because it's funny how you can almost forget everything that has happened over the last year, that Tom has cancer, in the normalcy of life. Then you have an appointment like today and the harsh truth of reality comes back - leukemia still rules the day. So today, and days like this, are in some ways a grieving process at least for mommy and daddy. We grieve about little things - that we can't play on the playland at Chick-Filet; that Tom has some minor social awkwardness around kids because he hasn't been around alot of them; that we can't make real plans with friends without saying, "If everything is okay." And frankly, grieving isn't fun. It is, however, good.

Not to compare our struggles to that of Job, but it is interesting that for 7 days Job's friends came to him and sat in silence to grieve with him. That became a lasting tradition throughout Judaism, and is known as sitting shi'vah (from "shi'vah" meaning "seven.") It's a period when people come and visit with the person that is grieving but don't say anything (maybe God knows that we have the propensity to say stupid things during times of loss). I think that's a little comforting today because I believe God likes the mourning process. I think he likes it for many reasons such as:

Mourning is the way we reconcile the fact that our dreams for our lives may not square with God's dream for our lives.

Mourning is the process of coming to grips with God's sovereignty in the universe.

Mourning is a reminder of hope, even in the midst of loss.

But I like this one best today: Mourning is perhaps the truest expression of authenticity. And I think God values authenticity more than He values right answers, screwed on smiles, and perfectly Christian people.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sometimes all it takes is a tiny black dot on a clean sheet of paper to bring everything into focus. I visited with a grief counselor today, and she was incredibly helpful-asking all the right questions. She reminded me that Chuck's life was not limited to his death. That whole sheet of paper represented Chuck's life. The tiny dot was his death...his 15 months in the hospital and its happened once and then it was done. My life has become centered on that tiny dot-that moment in time that is overshadowing what was...what truly was Chuck's life. I praise God for this ray of hope. If that dot was Chuck's agony...perhaps my agony can be but a dot as well. Perhaps there will be more. I know God promises that...I know this is just a season...sometimes it just takes...well, you get it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

They way I see God is coming to the fore front of the battle for my tenderness. There's a war waging...will I become bitter or will I become meek? When I let go, I drift toward bitter. When I stop "renewing my mind," I fall. Truly, it is a daily battle to TRUST God. Here's a little example:

A few days after our anniversary, I took off my wedding ring. I was not ready to take it off, but I did anyway. My thinking..."I will never feel ready to take it off, so I might as well get this over with." I went two days without it, and tried to tough it out. My sweet friend, T, reminded me-"You have permission to wear it, Jan. The pain you are feeling right now-that gives you the right to wear that ring." Also-there's the whole issue of trusting that God WILL bring me to a point of healing...that he WILL bring me to a place where I can take off the ring and feel like I can breathe. Just not yet.

So-still not so much trusting God...still taking matters into my own hands...and might even be viewing him as a bit of an someone out to get me. The danger being this, I have become BLIND to him despite his workings. I saw miracle after miracle while Chuck was hospitalized, yet I failed to see God. I failed to see his provision for me. I failed to see how he tenderly prepared me for what was coming. Much like the Isrealites who walked between two freakin walls of water and failed to see God, I have become BLIND to HIM. My prayer is for new see God in the midst of Chuck's hospital stay.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Far be it for me to mess up a perfectly good Chuck story with facts...just know the man is in the clear. There may have been some confusion about his warrant...details, details.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Yesterday I received a warrant for Chuck's arrest. Classic. Apparently he has a few unpaid speeding tickets (that he hoped I wouldn't find out about...stinker). Oh, and his licence has been suspended.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

This weekend has been a huge blessing. I spent Saturday hauling limbs, driving a big ol' pickup truck, and dismantling equipment...ahh demolition. Is demolition a spiritual gift? Anything that involves tearing down or clearing land makes my spirit come alive! About 30 people showed up to help our dear friends begin clearing land for their new CAMP!

While there, I was blessed with THE VERY FIRST COUP FEATHER FROM TEXAS LIONS CAMP. Rand brought the tradition to life when his friend, Gary, approached him with the idea. The coup feather represents great courage, great heart, great perseverance. When Gary first mentioned the feather to Rand, the response was something like, "Great idea! But I can't quite visualize it . Can you make one for me?" Tah-dah. Rand has held on to it for all these years, and it is every bit as cool and holy as you would think.

The best part of the story is that Rand was going to tie it in the tree at Chuck's memorial service. He has always kept it in the same place. Alas, when it came time for the service, it was not in its place. So Rand made one for the tree at camp. A few days later - there it was - same place as always. Rand says God blinded him to it, because it should come home with me. I feel honored and humbled to say the least.

But wait - the day did not end there. Upon making it back to town I rushed to the Kuennings to show them the feather. Nicole has been working on the memorial service book for me; putting together all of your notes, arranging them just so. It is finished! And guess what-the timing was perfect. (That God and his timing!) She wanted to give it to me earlier, and earlier would have been...too early. She gave it when I could look at it and giggle at the words that many of you wrote. The last entry is a killer though. It is precious in its heart-felt simplicity. Our nephew Kyser wrote: "Dear Aunt Jan, I loved Uncle Chuck so much!"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I have started car pooling this week. WHAT A BLESSING! Again, God's we set the car pool up before Christmas to start on Jan. 7. Who knew that I would be at one of my lowest points...that I would be having trouble getting out of bed? Voila - car pool gives me a push out of bed...keeps me at work a bit longer (good - as I still struggle with full days) AND gives me company every morning and every evening???? GOD KNEW. He is so good to me.

Here is my "daily" prayer...don't always remember to do sorta daily. It is incredibly powerful and often makes me cry-with relief and assurance. It is MOST beautiful when declared out loud. This is from "The Bondage Breaker" by Neil T. Anderson:

Dear heavenly Father, I praise You and honor You as my Lord. You are in control of all things. I thank You that You are always with me and will never leave me nor forsake me. You are the only all-powerful and only wise God. You are kind and loving in all Your ways. I love You and thank You that I am united with Christ and spiritually alive in Him. I choose not to love the world or the things in the world, and I crucify the flesh and all its passions.

Thank you for the life that I now have in Christ. I ask you to fill me with the Holy Spirit so I may say no to sin and yes to You. I declare my total dependence upon You and I take a stand against Satan and all his lying ways. I choose to believe the truth of God's word despite what my feelings say. I refuse to be discouraged; You are the God of all hope. Nothing is too difficult for You. I am confident that You will supply all my needs as I seek to live according to Your Word. I thank You that I can be content and live a responsible life through Christ who strengthens me.

I now take my stand against Satan and command him and all his evil spirits to depart from me. I choose to put on the full armor of God so I may be able to stand firm against all the devil's schemes. I submit my body as a living sacrifice to God and I choose to renew my mind by the living Word of God. By doing so I will be able to prove that the will of God is good, acceptable, and perfect for me. In the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It's day 100 of my grief...according to my daily emails. Ha. In any case, today's message is especially meaningful to me as it deals with who God IS and not who I create him to be. God is good. Period. Here is a copy of the message:

Doubting God's Goodness
Day 100

Is God truly good? What does it mean to you personally that God is good?

Dr. Larry Crabb says, "When you see a child suffer, when the doctor says certain things to you, you really wonder if God is good.

"'God, where are You? If You're good, then it seems to me that things should work out like this-,' and I impose my definition of good on God. And I say, 'This is what the word good means: It means that I won't get cancer again. It means my wife won't die prematurely. It means my kids will be healthy and make enough money to pay the bills.'

"When I look at God and say, 'You're not cooperating with my definition of good, the natural consequence is not trust, not worship. It's idolatry. I'm going to find some other god that agrees with my definition of good. Satan comes along and basically says, 'I'll arrange for what you want.' And you'll have certain pleasures for a season, and then it'll be awful."

It is not God's intention to give us everything we want. Getting what we want is not the key to happiness, peace, or contentment. Since we cannot see the full picture and do not have all the facts, our judgment is skewed. God would not be God if He could not see all things and judge all situations for the ultimate good.

God's Word is absolute truth; don't let your doubts get in the way of His perfect plan.

"You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (Job 2:10).

Most Holy God, my limited view is getting in the way of truth. Even when I don't feel it, help me to know without a doubt Your goodness and faithfulness to me. Amen.

Monday, January 07, 2008

While babysitting my niece, I put her to bed with the story "Today I Feel Silly." For those of you NOT familiar, the heroine feels vastly different from day to day. "Today I feel silly...grumpy...cranky...happy...excited...quiet." Of course, each day is an all or nothing sorta situation...depending on the emotion. Either everything is fantastic or everything stinks. I kept thinking, "I feel ya, sister!" I had to laugh...not the first time a children's book has spoken truth to my soul. God designed me to feel all emotions with great intensity...a blessing and a curse. For this, I am thankful...or resentful? Depends on the day!

Speaking of emotions, I've been dealing with some painful ones...and a bit of resentment. My dear counselor and friend asks me from time to time, "Do we trust our emotions?" NO. NO. NO. We trust the truth of scripture.

So, as I was weeping to my counselor about "last Christmas," I was overcome with self-pity. Last Christmas was lovely. Chuck was off the ventilator; he was able to talk; his wounds were healing; he was doing well and we were FULL of hope...and dreams of returning to our home. Remembering that hope was too much for me. My hopeful heart had been broken by God's answer..."I'm taking him home with me now."

My view of last Christmas was clouded by what I no longer what I missed this year. I kept thinking what a fool I'd been to believe Chuck would come home to me. Are my feelings of betrayal and abandonment the truth about God? Nah. The truth is that God KNEW it was our last Christmas. Because of this, he sweetly prepared our time together. How loving is it that he filled our Christmas with HOPE, with Chuck's ability to talk, with the joy of dreaming of the days ahead? What a gift. What a God.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Hmmm, where to start? I've been completely uninspired to write as of late. Here are some of the thoughts rolling around in my head:

What do I do? Look at me! Surely God can use me. I've been through it...sharpened by pain...molded into a finely tuned care-taking-machine...ready to serve...sorta...I'm afraid! Here's the deal, I keep trying to figure out God's plan. I'm thinking, look - I'm single and willing...sorta. Surly God can use me somewhere special? (That's the deal...must be special...that's me playing God again. I just figure, if I had to go through all that PAIN, surely it's to put me in a situation where I will heal the world of all it's hurts...or some such amazing thing.) Oh, I don't know...I'm afraid to take a leap of faith...I want God to spell it out before I move an inch, "Jan, I want you to sell all that you have and go to India to serve the poor," or some such dramatic thing.

And what's more, THIS WAS NOT MY DREAM. Truly, my dream has always been to stay home, take care of my husband and kids. That's it. My dream. So here I am...a children of my own...soooooo not working out the way I had wanted.

Oddly enough, I am inspired by a story that Mel Brooks tells of Gene Wilder. Gene wanted desperately to be a serious actor. Can you imagine? As Mel explains, "God took one look at Gene and said, FUNNY." As it turns out, Gene is one of my all time favorites...sooooooo very, very funny. Surely God has taken a look at me and stamped me with some trait that will serve the world? I am trying to just look at where I am...what I I can help TODAY...right where I am. As is my way, I'm making this too hard. It's at times like this that I REALLY miss speak simplicity and truth to me...and to laugh at how ridiculously melo-dramatic I can be.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

From beginning to end, 2007 was the most amazing year of my life. It changed me, and my life will never be the same. I experienced extreme agony and divine ecstasy. I witnessed some of the greatest acts of strength, courage, love and devotion imaginable. Thank you for showing me love and showering me with kindness. And God? Please. I owe him so much. He's taken the brunt of my misplaced anger and sorrow...okay, he and Shea. I thank him for putting each of you in my life.

I awoke this morning with the question, "Well now what, God?" My hope for the new year is to be of be a vessel. I was reminded of "The prayer of St. Francis," which really says it best:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

The song "Something Beautiful" also captures my heart's desire: