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.