Friday, March 3, 2017

Grief


©2017 Chantelle Henderson

Friends, today I will share about grief-my personal journey of grief; how it comes out of nowhere, even on your most joy-filled days.  Just some quick background.  For two weeks I've been journaling, reading, and studying far beyond the norm because I made a "simple" request [prayer] to hunger and thirst for righteousness more and more.  When you ask Him for anything, in faith, be prepared for Him to answer you in whatever way HE sees fit.  After my prayer, my desires were diverted from my usual daily routine and distractions to things of eternal value. 
As the hymn goes, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."  It's true.  Without all this other "stuff" to distract me, I have gotten refocused and re-gained eternal perspective. 
I digress.
It was during a moment of pause and reflection this afternoon that I began to think about Heaven and that ultimately led me to think back on cherished memories shared with my daddy.  I remembered things such as him surprising me on my 16th birthday by showing up at school and checking me out for the day so I could go and get my drivers license, or the obvious and overwhelming pride he showed when I graduated at the top of my class in Business College as a single mother.  I recalled the exact moment on my wedding day when I was in the bride room with my matrons of honor and he slowly entered the room. In an instant I looked up and pierced into his eyes and beheld a father's pure love and adoration for his "little girl".  I also sensed a trace of sadness on his part because it was time for him to let me go to be joined with the new man in my life.  I even laughed out loud in the midst of my tears when I could hear him asking me, as we were arm and arm, preparing to walk down the aisle, if I was sure I wanted to go through with the wedding because if I didn't he had a car waiting. 
Memory after memory after memory flooded my heart and my mind today.  I could not have stopped them if I wanted to, but that's the strange thing about grief.  I didn't want to stop thinking about a handful out of thousands of moments shared with the man who was my hero, my confidant, a best friend, and faithful companion. 
It's now been 5 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days.  Grief is not as constant of a companion as it has been these past few months, but it still shows up unannounced just the same.  It needs no invitation.  And once it has arrived it will stay until its work is done.  Sometimes it's ten minutes and at other times can linger for days.  Regardless of how short or long the visitation, my Heavenly Father says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."  I can testify that His words are true as I sit here, salty tears streaming down my face, accompanied by deep pain and sorrow, that His Spirit is indeed comforting me, covering me, and engulfing me.  Even amidst the grief I rejoice in knowing that daddy is in his eternal home in Heaven. 
I am grateful for the 45 years I had on this side of eternity with him.  In these paragraphs I only shared stories about me and him but I could write endlessly about my daddy and how he was with others.  Family and friends could flood you with their own stories.  We would both, no doubt, paint a picture of a man who could be described as "Jesus with skin on" to so many people.  It sets a fire ablaze in me to strive to do the same by carrying on his legacy which can be summed up in Matthew 35:35-36,   “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." 
So you see, grief is not a bad word and it's not some horrible monster.  Grief can bring with it a gift of remembrance which can evolve into a devotion and eagerness to honor your lost loved one in ways you may have forgotten; especially when that means being Jesus with skin on to those you come in contact with.
Today I am thankful for both grief and the promise of comfort that followed.
#grief #death #loss #comfort #mourn #healing #eternity #eternalperspective #jesuswithskinon #hunger #thirst #Righteousness #daddysgirl #dancewithmyfather #butterflykisses


Monday, March 30, 2015

My New Normal

My New Normal
© 2015 Chantelle Henderson

We’ve all had them.  Times and moments when our rose colored glasses were shattered by a phone call, a conversation, a new lesson learned.  Maybe it was the sudden loss of a loved one, or when you thought that one person you didn’t think was capable of hurting or betraying you did just that.  Maybe it was an unfaithful spouse, a job loss, or a divorce.  One thing is for sure.  Life will never be the same as it was. It’s the kind of news that renders you speechless and it seems as if time stood still, you’re frozen in it, while everything and everyone else kept moving.  But not you.


Over the past few months, that’s been me.  I am not at liberty to go into detail right now with specifics but I’m hoping and praying this post will help many understand they are not alone.

Approximately four or five months ago I received news, news that wasn’t life-ending, but definitely life-changing.  I knew in an instant that life as I’d known it for 43 years was going to be different now and there was absolutely, positively NOTHING I could do but pray about it.  Because it involved a person, I knew the only thing I could do was love them…..unconditionally and without judgment.  What I learned that day challenged everything I thought to be true or believed on many levels; mostly spiritually.

Worse than my sexual assault or molestation; worse than the betrayal of a confidant I'd experienced or death of a loved one, this news drew me to my knees and ever since that day I have been crying out to God to know His truth.  Sure.  I know what I’ve been taught since I was 9.  I know what I’d read in the news and seen on TV, but the reality of it is in my home and I had some decisions to make.

I had to go back to square one.  In fact, let me paint this picture for you. It usually takes me 3-4 weeks to read a book.  This situation not only drove me to my knees and to God’s word.  It had me so consumed that I wanted to KNOW. I had to KNOW the truth.  Not what I’ve been hearing all these years, but THE TRUTH from the Truth-giver.  I read 4 books in two weeks and watched over 4 hours of film documentaries.  To be honest with you, I had an information overload breakdown.  You know what that is, don’t you?  It's like a computer that has too many programs going all at once and finally it crashes because it was just too much.  I was reading and doing all this research and it was different than what I’d been taught [in the church], some of it was strong opinions I’d formed myself over the years, and what I’d experienced.  One thing is for sure, it knocked down my preconceived walls of how I thought I would ever handle the situation.  One day in the midst of all my researching, praying, seeking God’s truth, reading, and watching, my husband Ry called me on his lunch break and I just broke down crying……the ugly, sobbing, wailing cry.  Before he even asked what was wrong he wanted to know if I wanted him to leave work.  I told him no.  By the time I finally calmed down I was able to tell him how overwhelmed I was with all my research through these books, documentaries, blogs, and articles.  His response?, “Chantelle.  Stop it!”  At first I was taken off guard.  What did he mean by stop it.  Doesn’t he know I have to have answers now because our lives can’t go back to the way it was and we had to discover how we were supposed to live now that we’d received the news.  He continued on, “Seriously, I’ve been waiting for you to snap over all this.  Put the books and documentaries down.  Stop eating up all this information like a starving person who hasn’t eaten for days.”  Then he said something that changed the entire trajectory of how I would view it from that day on.  “God is not going to leave or forsake you or this other person.  You’ve been going and doing and digging.  Have you thought that maybe you just need to be still and know that He is God and He knows EXACTLY what’s taking place?”  I let out a huge sigh of relief and exhaled all the confusion.  I relinquished control at that moment.  The only frustrating thing about it is that I was halfway through my fourth book and I wanted to finish it so badly, but I promised the husband I would lay it all down for at least three days.

I did learn one valuable lesson; everybody has an opinion and you can clearly separate the ones based on love verses the ones based on hatred, arrogance, and self-righteous individuals or institutions.

I wish I could say three turned into five and then a week and then a month.  But no…….On midnight of the 3rd full day, I picked up my book and started digging into all my resources again.  But this time it was different. I was not as desperate.  It was night and day.  What happened? The relief came from a scripture, one of my top 10 for sure.

Matthew 22:36-39 {Holeman Christian Standard Bible}
“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”   He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

What?  Why was He taking me to this scripture?  It became the launching pad for all my research.  I was looking at it from a selfish standpoint.  How am I going to fix this?  Is it right?  Is it wrong?  Should I encourage it?  Should I, should I, should I?  I was so consumed with finding concrete answers that I forgot that if I simply looked at it from the stand point of loving God and loving others, that my motives were pure, and my heart was clean. I could just sit at His feet to gain strength, wisdom, but most important for me, peace.

So while I know that one thing has happened in my life that for sure makes it crystal clear that I can’t go back to what was, but need to now focus on what lies ahead.  You know what I’m about to share now.  I never go wrong in this scripture when I KNOW I don’t have all the answers or all figured out.

Philippians 3:12-16 {The Message Bible}
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.  So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.


I don’t have all the answers and for certain have not arrived, but I’m striving and reaching out for Christ.  God is slowly but surely clearing the blurred lines that drove me to darn near insanity trying to figure this thing out in the beginning.

This I do know; even after the news that brings the truth that life as we knew it before the occurrence is over, we must still move forward.  Don’t get stuck and believe the lie that just because something ended, the new beginning won’t bring even more joy, and purpose and love.

So now I have a new normal.  Although, I don’t quite know if normal is the right word to use.  Because right now I still have so many questions and need so much wisdom that I’m beginning to see it may take a while and that’s okay.  That’s why I “cracked” before.  Because I thought I had to have all the answers NOW!  Well, I don’t.  I’m just taking it one day at a time, with my Bible, coffee, eyeglasses, hi-liters, and pens in hand.

I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from me on this is the near future.

If you are going through something insurmountable or earth-shattering right now that has shaken you to the core and punched you in the gut making you well aware that there is now a clear line between, “that was then”, and "because of that my life will never be the same”, be secure in the knowledge that it’s going to take time; perhaps longer than you thought it would (as is in my case).  Just make your love for Him and your love for your neighbor the foundation on which you build this new normal.

Just for extra measure, here’s one more scripture I am clinging on to that is a bullhorn for change and perhaps how we can be comforted by its words:

Isaiah 43:19 {English Standard Version}
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

He’s always doing a new thing in our lives.  With all seasons come change.  With some change, it comes with the truth that things as we knew before will never be the same again.  Keep going.  Keep moving ahead.   Don’t get paralyzed by the change; be strengthened and encouraged by it.  It may cause one of your deepest levels of pain and desperation, but out of it will surely come a much stronger, consistent, desperate seeking of His face and a hunger and thirst for righteousness that can and will only be found in His word.  This does not dismiss educating yourself with the many resources you may need on your journey in life as you know it after “it” occurred.  Just be careful not to be consumed with all of that, that you forget that your Faithful Father and Mighty King will lead and guide you into all truth.

Okay, one more scripture that’s helped.  This one is because we want to be spared pain.  We want our lives to remain in neat little packages and schedules that cannot be interrupted.  We don’t desire change because that would mean things would have to be rearranged and possibly uprooted altogether.  While on this personal journey myself right now, I remembered that there was a passage in scripture when the enemy asked Jesus to sift Peter as wheat and from what I can read The Lord didn't say no.  Rather, what he did pray was that Peter’s faith would not fail and that after he suffered the trial that he would turn back and strengthen others.  Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m thinking, “Dude, Jesus, why don’t you tell the enemy no on my behalf!!!!!!?!!!!!???”  It’s because Peter’s faith had to stand trial and be tested so PETER would know his level of faith and having endured the testing of the enemy would be able to turn around and encourage others in their faith.

I firmly believe that when we go through [especially] major changes in our lives that our faith is being tested, not for God, but for us; so that we will know that we can stand face-to-face, toe-to-toe with the devil and just by saying the name, “Jesus” we will have defeated the enemy.  It is then our job to encourage and strengthen others.

Luke 31-32 {English Standard Version}
“Simon, Simon, behold,Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.

Summing it up.  Love God.  Love others. Be still and know that He is God.  Be wise with what you allow into your ear gates and eye gates and know that none of it took Him by surprise.  He knew what was going to happen and just like seasons, when Winter 2015 ceased to exist, Spring 2015 entered.  There was an end to one and a beginning to another.  You can’t go back to winter, but you get to discover all the new and beautiful things about Spring. 

Hope this blesses even one person.  You know me.  If it’s in me, I gotta get it out.  I don’t write music or sing, so I write.  It may not be with eloquence of speech, fancy words, or proper grammar, but at least I got it out.

Love Endlessly,



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014-2015

Going into 2014 my word was "Intention"; something I hadn't had for years. Like a wandering two year old left alone in a field of nothingness, I'd wandered for four years without aim and definitely without......intention. I knew that if I was going to break out of the 5 foot 6 inch wall I'd built around myself I would have to become a person of intention. Summed up, it simply meant letting my yes be yes and my no be no. There would be no more grey areas. There were certain times I throughout the years that I would be intentional, but then I would lose steam. 

The first place I got to put my intention into practice was a women's Bible study at our church. It was weekly for several weeks. I had to be intentional about going, showing up, and being present (participating) no matter how I felt. It meant saying no to my no. Little did I know that would be the birthing place for my next level of intention, allowing myself to FINALLY be planted, rooted, and grounded in a church. FOR ME, because of having to walk in intention about EVERYTHING, it meant no more "me-time" Wednesday nights at home. It meant being at church, fellowshipping, breaking bread, studying the word, and prayer with my brothers and sisters in Christ. If you know me then you would know what a miracle this truly is. The wall I'd built began to crumble to pieces as I became more and more intentional. Slowly I began to learn that another word for intentional was discipline. I became more disciplined than I had in years and the harvest it would yield was beyond 100 fold. My chains were breaking and I was being set free every single time I wanted to cancel plans but followed through anyway; every time I did want to stay in bed but got up for church anyway. I'm the one who got to walk away blessed and sharpened by another. Let me say, however, that it wasn't always easy.  I spent years bailing on plans, in isolation, safe in my own world. Especially between 2010-2014. I wasn't living at all. I was merely existing. There it is. The truth about my life as it had been until the beginning of 2014. 

I digress.  Our church began a building project and one of the hashtags that was created was ‪#‎heartforthehouse‬. For the first time in years, I could literally feel my stony heart becoming a heart of flesh and it melted away as I found joy, love, and compassion for the church once again. I TRULY had a heart for the house. We joined our beloved Brandon Assembly and it was family. We had ups, downs, and in-betweens, but always did life together, one for another. My heart was set ablaze once again with passion and purpose. 

Then came August 2014. For nearly four years all I did was kick and scream to leave Florida and return to Georgia and in the blink of an eye He gave me that desire of my heart. It wasn't even on our radar in August. By September 3rd we were officially Georgians again. I asked God to do one thing for me. I was so afraid of moving that I asked Him that if it was REALLY Him that He would allow me to take my hands off of the situation and show me an "ONLY GOD" moment in my life and He did. Every time I turned around during the transition from Florida to Georgia I could stand back and say, "ONLY GOD". If you take a look at my statuses from September 1-4th you will see exactly what I am talking about.
I learned so many things about myself, others, and God during my time in Florida. It was a dark time for me but I wouldn't recognize the brightest moments of my life as I do now were it not for our season there. One thing I learned was surrender. If I was going to continue to even survive, much less continue thriving in my intention, I had to surrender my dreams of moving back to Georgia to Him. It seems as if the moment I surrendered with pure hands and a clean heart, no hidden agenda or strings attached, Daddy said, "I'll take her back to Georgia now." Ry says that since moving back I've come back to life and quickly follows it up with, "I'm not joking." I suppose he's right. In my first month here I literally got out more than I did my entire four years in Florida, church included. That goes to show what a pitiful existence I was living. ONLY GOD in His infinite mercy brought me back. ONLY GOD. So 2014 was a year of intention and being true to the process of becoming a person of intention. 

2015?  My word is "BRAVE". 
I started to feel it around July 2014 and just sorta "tucked" it away, but as 2015 began to draw closer and closer what started out as a whisper has turned into a booming echo. I would be lying if I said I'm not dealing with a little bit of fear here. At first I was SUPER EXCITED. I envisioned myself as superwoman with a cape. I thought about being fierce and courageous and more bold for the causes and kingdom purposes that burn within me. But just as quickly as the excitement came, fear set in. Wait! Brave? What am I going to have to be brave about? Is something going to happen? I don't want to be brave. I don't want my word to be brave anymore. Then the Lord reminded me of Joshua 1:9, [Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”] You have to understand that generally speaking I'm not a person who is worrisome of fearful of much of anything. It's a two edged-sword at times. So this feeling of what is to come in 2015 is new to me but as I turn to His word to be comforted by His promises, I am reminded that He is with me wherever I go. And that whole strong and courageous thing isn't a suggestion. It's a command. Some people think having a "word for the year" is silly, and that's okay. But for me, it's always served as an anchor of sorts. When my soul is storm-tossed and confusion sets in and there's lack of direction I knew to be intentional and the year before that I knew to study the word "Grace". This year it's BRAVE. 

I pray, for you, that 2015 brings to you all that He has to give you and that you would make room to receive it and that when the challenging times come that you remember our blessed Savior also suffered everything we did and ever will. May you remember that you are never alone, believing that He will never leave you nor forsake you. I pray that you find him to be a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace; the Lover Of Your Soul & Lifter Of Your Head, a Mighty Fortess and Strong Tower, Your Healer and Provider, Your Source Of Strength, and your very Foundation. 

I pray Ephesians 3:14-19 over you. [For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.] 

YOU are so incredibly unique and valuable and loved endlessly. 

Now, May The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. [Numbers 6:24-26]