Saturday, May 31, 2008

Finally...I have figured out how to post my FAVORITE musician's site so that you can link right to it...check him out:

  • Greg Coplen Music
  • Friday, May 30, 2008

    Okay...back to deep sorrow and deep loneliness...which makes last night's episode even more precious.

    Here I am...feeling completely isolated and alone...deep loneliness...the kind that doesn't get filled up by being with people...the kind that is persistent no matter where I am or who I'm with...and the thought occurred to me...I'm in the pains of labor. I remember this feeling when Chuck died...thinking, "I trust this...I trust this path. I trust this pain. I trust what is happening. I trust God to use this for good." I thank God for these moments of hold wait for the joy that arrives once labor is complete.

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    This evening brought a moment of pure joy...utter contentment...I told Shea, "I want to capture this moment in my heart...photograph it somehow for my emotional library...file it under utter bliss."

    We were at swim practice. Deliciously chubby K was in her bikini...she's 3 and the baby-fat won't stay much longer. She was playing in the baby pool...jumping in, getting out...jumping in, getting out...never tiring of the repetition. When she'd get out and walk, she'd put her left hand on her hip...always the left hand...always on the hip.

    My heart just swelled with the sights, sounds, the breeze...and the company...Shea and the could I ask for more?

    Wednesday, May 28, 2008

    It's rare these days...but it happens...and I luxuriate in it. I'm in a denial blanket...warm, cozy, and content. It's hard to explain...but I could swear that I'm going home to Chuck after work. I have that same old happy feeling...daydreaming about him...looking forward to the end of the day. It's strange...but I'll take it for what it's worth...and I'll enjoy the daydreaming and the warm fuzzies. It's like a reprieve. As ever, I'm in awe of how God designs us and heals us...or simply gives us time to catch our breath.

    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    Could he have been any more adorable????

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    Last night was a PERFECT tribute to our friend, Toast. None of us (the group that went together) realized that counselors were already there for staff training...ahh, staff training...those were the days! The memorial was basically set up like an awards night...complete with unit songs and a campfire ceremony. It was so fitting for Toast because while it was a memorial to him, it motivated and inspired the counselors to embrace the wonder of TLC. What a joy!

    Okay, here are my favorite Toast stories from the evening:

    1.) When he went to college, Toast talked all of his professors into keeping his grades a secret from him. Toast saved all of his report cards and put them in an enveloped labeled: "To be opened July 17, 2008"...that being his 36th birthday. His parents found the envelope among his possessions. It remains seald.

    2.) One summer at camp, a very upset boy took off running from the group that Toast was with. Toast, being a marathoner, took off without skipping a beat. He caught up to the kid, without even glancing at the boy, he ran past him. Toast ran quite a ways in front of the boy, then made a wide sweeping arch, which the boy followed. Toast ran back towards the group, with the boy following him. He led him back to the fold without uttering a single word.

    3.) He loved worms (I happen to have this in common with Toast!)

    4.) If you ever received a hand-written note from Toast, it was most likely on the back of a bill or some scrap of paper...and his writing was miniscule...utilizing every tiny bit of space.

    I feel so fortunate to have known such an amazingly unique man. His time was short...but oh so well spent.

    Friday, May 23, 2008

    Okay, so it is not getting the best reviews...but I loved and savored EVERY MOMENT of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It was typical Indie...which is just what I was looking for. True fans of the smart/wry/courageous professor in action will enjoy.

    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    It recently occurred to me that not everyone knows about Toast's memorial service. It is this Sunday at TLC amphitheater, 6:47 sharp.

    I'm curious how this will go...for Toast's family...for my heart. I wonder how this will be since it has been several months since Toast died. If I recall properly...and I think I do...several months in to the grieving thing your heart and nerves are raw. The warm, cozy blanket of denial is please pray for Toast's family. May this be a JOYOUS occasion. May it be even more special...receiving love and comfort after several months of missing their special guy.

    Let's go toast TOAST!

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Dump duh duh duuuh, dump duh duuuh...ONE MORE DAY. In Chuck-Picciuti fashion, I have taken tomorrow off. Tonight I fly to Dallas to see THE MOVIE with the whole Picciuti crew. I feel like I should take a candle...or something to represent Chuck. Then I remember, he is in my heart...I take him everywhere I go.

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    TWO MORE DAYS...I know this is odd...but I am filled with so much anticipatory joy over viewing my HERO in action once again that I weep...yes weep...every time I see the trailer. ( I have so got to get a life...preferably one in which Indiana Jones is my husband or some such thing.)

    Monday, May 19, 2008

    p.s. A work friend (and former Lions Camp counselor it turns out) rode in the ADA Tour de Cure this weekend. While it was for the American Diabetes Association (yeah), he rode for Chuck. He just brought me his number..."I ride for Chuck Picciuti." He rode 80 miles, and thought of Chuck ever pedal of the way.

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    The very first Chuck Picciuti Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence was bestowed upon a young man this past Saturday. I wish I had a photo...forgot my camera of all things. Chuck's high school buddies came up with this really nifty scholarship...custom made to fit a student like Chuck...meaning C-average...with high marks in "making an impact" in the drama department at Taft. As fate would have it, Chuck was only allowed to perform in one play during his Taft days...his grades made him ineligible for the remainder! Thus, he was very involved back stage...surely some of the happiest moments of his high school career.

    A big thanks to the Taft crew!

    Shea, Greg, and the kids came for the presentation. It was very low-key...jeans sort of event. K dressed up in a princess dress, however, for her Uncle Chuck. We walked up and down the halls of Taft and imagined Chuck there as a high school "student." We went into the auditorium and looked at the stage...all very sweet reminders of Chuck. C, already an accomplished comedian/actress in her own right, informed me she wants to do drama when she gets to high school.

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    I thank GOD for rescuing me from myself. Truly, his spirit guides me more and more. I don't know about you, but I can be my own worse tendency is to isolate, isolate, isolate. This time, before getting too far off track, God urged me to GET HELP. Here's the deal...I am becoming crazy-hermit-paint-splattered-woman...complete with a daily list of painting goals to achieve...Friday finish the dining room...Saturday do the kitchen and living room...Sunday do touch-ups. It is never-ending. I've been telling myself..."Just work hard. Come home each evening...paint. You can do can do this." While this is true...I can do the painting, I am losing my mind. What God has been whispering is this, "You need people. You need company. You are losing yourself in this crazy isolation thing that you do."

    Thus, I have reached out to friends (miracle in and of itself)...for company of all things. Help with painting would be lovely...but the MAIN thing is that I need folks. I thank GOD for pulling me back before I did too much damage to myself. If you knew my history, you'd realize what a miracle this is. I praise GOD for speaking to me...I praise God for helping me to listen.

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    This will most likely be a sappy ode to Chuck...just missing him and feeling so incredibly grateful for the life we shared...and so utterly sad that it has ended.

    This is what happened today...due to the prevalence of intimate conversations taking place everywhere via mobile phone, I overheard a couple of "married" exchanges. They saddened me. I wanted to shout, "MARRIAGE IS WASTED ON YOU!!!!" There was a lack of tenderness and affection that made me so very, very angry.

    Here you have a woman who was nuts for her husband, who's voice dripped with affection each time she spoke to's gone. What's worse is that in it's place are a bunch of dispassionate couples...doing life it's a chore. These people are "MURDERERS OF LOVE" (thank you Dan in Real Life).

    I remember the first time Chuck's hand brushed mine. He was helping me set up for camp-out...we were loading bags of ice in the back of a van, and his hand touched mine. My skin tingled...there was a current of energy that passed from him to me...and that was just the beginning. That energy grew with time...every time he walked (and later rolled) into a room, my heart beat a little faster. Friends may recall that we were almost always touching...holding hands...hand on leg or some such show of affection. In fact, we often caught flack for our public displays of adoration.

    Chuck was my absolute favorite person in the world...and I never quite got over the thrill of him liking me back. I always thought he was the coolest, cleverest, wittiest, funniest person in the world AND HE CHOSE ME!!

    Each phone call...each reunion after being apart was a thrill. As I would await his pickup from the airport...I would get giddy with excitement. Don't get me wrong...the man could dance on my last nerve...but that was the exception to the rule. I was so utterly blessed to have lived and played house with my best favorite husband.

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Happy Mother’s Day! If you are a mom, God bless you…you live a life of service, sacrifice, and love.

    This day is near and dear to my heart…seventeen years ago, I spoke to my mother for the last time on Mother’s Day. God blessed me in allowing my final conversation with her to be filled with love and appreciation. (She died three days later…unexpectedly….) Having had quite the tumultuous relationship with her, a phone call ending pleasantly was not a this one got me through years of angst over wishing I had been kinder to my precious mom. (Again, that good to me.)

    None of my "grown-up" friends knew her. (ALL of my childhood friends did, as she was sorta everyone's mom...the one who hauled us EVERYWHERE!) She died before my grown-up friendships formed…and that has always saddened me. (I feel like Chuck got a good idea of what Mom was like through living with me...knowing Shea, Kelli, and loving my grandma so much.) My mom was something else!

    Rather than telling you what a fantastically amazing woman she was, I thought I’d share some of my favorite memories.

    Her name was Hester Sue. (I always wanted to have a daugther so I could name her Hester...I just love that name.) As is common in the panhandle…syllables get elongated and shortened in odd ways…thus, her name became “Hairsue.” Well okay, only Dad called her that…but I just LOVED it.

    She and dad mugged every morning in the kitchen before he left for work (ewwwww). Not a sweet kiss on the cheek…a BIG, passionate display for all of us to gross out over.

    Mom was a hairdresser (but gave up the profession to be a stay-at-home-mom)…every morning until I was in fourth grade, she would brush and fix my hair.

    She always freshened up before dad got home: brushed her hair, applied makeup.

    When she discovered that I had diabetes (I was 6), she researched and found THE BEST doctor in TX, who happened to be in Galveston…a mere 12-hour drive away. Twice a year she took me to see him.

    Her laugh was boisterous. Sometimes she’d get so carried away with laughing that she would cry uncontrollably.

    We did summer track. Most kids took the bus. Mom hauled me, Shea, and my friend Ginger all over the panhandle in her station wagon. We’d have to get up at 4 or 5 to get to some track meets. She’d make a bed in the back of the wagon, and put us in…then drive us to our destination…snacks in hand…and sit all day in the SUN.

    She was a GREAT cheerleader and coach. We had a basketball goal in the front and she’d do drills with us. She was the LOUDEST one in the stands at all the games…and heaven help any coach that did not play her daughters enough.

    She loved her daddy. He died when she was 25ish. It changed her...saddened and deepened her in a way that even a five-year-old could see.

    One of my favorite moment’s with my mom involved a car drive home from Amarillo. It was just the two of us. When we were about 45 minutes away from home, she rolled down the windows and blasted the music…and we sang at the top of our lungs.

    For some odd reason, the fact that she went all out for Halloween touches me…perhaps it’s because it’s not really a holiday…and the effort was for the sheer joy of getting into the season? I just remember her hanging up our scary paper witch on our big picture window…it had movable arms and legs so she’d position it just so then run out the front door to look at her work. We (Kelli, Shea, and I) would sit and watch her work…taking orders…move the leg up…move her arm down. We had one of those plug-in jack-o-lanterns, too. Once everything was in place…we would all run outside and gaze at the glory of the spooks on our picture window…

    This was her reaction upon seeing a beautiful sunset...or something striking in nature, "Oh my God...would you look at that? Look at it! Kids...just look at that. John, oh my...would you look at that. Is it not amazing???? Look at that. Wow, just look at that." (We of course were all rolling our eyes..."WE SEE IT, MOM!!!!!!!!")

    Mom lives on in each of her daughters. She lives in Kelli’s take charge abilities and tireless energy. Kelli makes things happen and takes care of everyone. She lives in Shea’s devotion to children and in her dedication to her family. She lives in my loyalty, courage, and exuberant responses to nature’s beauty. How many times did Chuck have to say, "Yes, Jan. I see it."

    Thursday, May 08, 2008

    Hmmm, at the present moment I am preoccupied with painting my home in about eating an elephant. I have decided to attack this like my sister would...if she has a spare moment, she works on whatever current project she's got going on (three kids, a husband, a dog, a cat, a hamster, a job outside the home, and all)...not to mention my older sister who knocked out three rooms worth of painting when she came to visit me in November! I typically wait until I have a big CHUNK of time to attack...and really now, how often does that happen? Hmmm, that must be why so few of my "projects" get done. I thank God for all the people and events he's put in my path to teach me to work slowly...when I can...toward a goal and to stop my crazy kamikaze approaches...which rarely succeed and often leave me frustrated.

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    I loves me some Pastor Paul Shepphard!!!! This is me and THE MAN...he is my favorite radio pastor...on KDRY, AM 1100 at 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. His program is called Enduring Truth. He skillfully and delightfully presents truths from scripture...with honesty...real honesty...and in the immortal words of Fat Tony from the Simpsons...things are funny "cause they're true."

    Monday, May 05, 2008

    Happy Cinco de Mayo! The only song I could think of to celebrate was...pico de gallo!

    Saturday, May 03, 2008

    Whew! It's been one of the fruitful times when God has daily revealed new truths to I'm giddy and pooped. Where to start?

    Let's start with JOY. Someone will have to instruct me there scripture that supports the idea that great suffering and great sorrow provides for greater joy? That is what has happened in my life and my soul. My capacity for joy is so deep. I praise God and thank him for once again using my beloved to grow me...stretch me. Could Chuck have been any more of a blessing??? First he blessed my life in our marriage, then he blessed my life in his death...deepened my soul so that it could encompass more JOY. Atta boy, Chuck!

    Second...and third...God has been "speaking" to me about my house. For months I've gone back and forth with him and myself about the size and cost of my home. (My home is PRECIOUS. I love my is exactly the type of home I've always wanted.) Alas, the timing is not quite right. It is not my season for this home anymore. This is a GREAT home for a small family...for a husband and wife. It is too much for more ways than one! I am trying to live "well below my means." That's all but impossible with my mortgage...and repairs. Truly, God has "whispered" this to me many times over the months...and I have politely ignored the thoughts he has planted.

    So, I met with a financial advisor. One of the first things he said was, "Um, your mortgage is waaay too much of your income." Now, I realize this is just a comment. I realize I have choices...tons of them. Yet it confirmed my "uneducated" thoughts about the house...and God's previously-planted-ideas. So I sat in the car after my meeting and said, "Alright God. If I am to sell my house, you have GOT TO CONFIRM THIS IN MY SPIRIT. I MEAN IT HAS GOT TO BE CLEAR!"

    Later that same day, I looked at some tiny apartments...some that are a stone-throw away from Shea, Grego, and the kids. Seriously, I could walk and be there in 5 minutes. In any case, my spirits started to lift...I started to feel a bit giddy. The idea of selling 3/4 of my possessions...throwing off all that ties me down...sooo liberating! I felt the weight of the world begin to LIFT. I felt a sense of freedom and independence...a CLEAR answer to my prayer. Again, I should NOT be surprised when God speaks clearly to me...alas, it still amazes me. So, clear confirmation...sell the below my means....

    But wait, there's more to the story. So, I'm driving to work the next day, contemplating the BULK of cash I would get from selling my house...putting the money into savings. It would be a HUGE help. Then the thought came to me..."Hmmm, storing up treasures, huh?" And I thought, "What if in all this selling of my possessions, God asked me to give it all away and follow him???" Breathe easy, he is not asking me to do that. But he did ask me to consider the idea of someone in need. Which spurred my mind to think of folks I know that are in poverty. I KNOW OF NO ONE living in poverty...the type of poor that God asks us to care for. So I prayed, "God, show me the poor." INSTANTLY, a S.A.M.M.'s truck pulled up beside me. (S.A.M.M. is a ministry for the homeless). Talk about INSTANT answer to prayer...I had to laugh out loud.

    Okay, so here I am...about to jump out on faith! It's thrilling and scary. Someone once told me that living a life devoted to Christ is a big adventure. I'll say! So, I go back and forth...because I love my little home...I love my stuff. Let me just be brings me a degree of comfort. The idea of letting it all go, while scary, is THRILLING!


    Thursday, May 01, 2008

    Just for fun I am posting a couple of classic Chuck poses...first is of him being oh so suave and the second of him being oh so'll note where he is looking.