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.