Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Everyday Can Be My Birthday

Everyday Can Be My Birthday 

© 2009, Chantelle Henderson

Target gift card - $50.00
Cash - $150.00
Pajama Pants - $12.00
Candle - $13.00
Movie Theater gift card - $10.00
Picture Frame - $19.99
Amy Grant Concert Tickets - $107.00
Picture Frame - $11.99
Workout Pants - $21.00
A New Blackberry Curve Phone - $199.00

My oldest son “dropping by” for a visit and deciding he wanted to stay and spend the whole evening with us all as a family – PRICELESS

My youngest son giving me a handwritten card with “I LOVE YOU MOM.” “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!” with his last week’s allowance of $5.00 taped to it – PRICELESS

My husband, knowing I am on Weight Watchers coming home and lighting candles, not on a cake, but on a healthy fruit tray – PRICELESS

Seeing my brother smile and laugh and giving him a BIG bear hug and a big sugar on the cheek - PRICELESS

My best friend calling and singing “Happy Birthday” to me on the phone and sending me a Hoops And Yo Yo E-Card (MY FAVORITE) – PRICELESS

Tickets given to me to see my niece’s (almost 16) last performance at the Gwinnett Performance Art Center as the lead in The Little Mermaid and never missing any performance since she started on that same stage at age 3. (She’s moving to New York on a full scholarship in June from ABT – The American Ballet Theatre) – PRICELESS

Taking my oldest son back home and talking to him about life for an hour – heart to heart – tears to tears- mother to son - PRICELESS

Over 100 Birthday Wishes From Facebook Friends & Emails – PRICELESS

Today, I probably got more material possessions than I have ever gotten for any Birthday. I can honestly say that even if I didn’t get one of those things listed above with a price tag, the “PRICELESS” gifts would have been enough to complete my 38th birthday. It was again, that today, I was reminded of why eternal perspective is such a beautiful view. The candle will burn out. The Picture Frame can break. The Blackberry phone will be traded up in a few months. The gift cards and cash will be used to buy some things I’ve been wanting. The workout pants will hopefully end up being too big one day. The Amy Grant concert will begin and be over within a couple hours.

Having my Christopher come over and stay and hang out and having the four of us together as a family touches my heart in ways I cannot begin to express. Our mother-son time alone together, including hugs, tears, and prayer is a moment that will reap an eternal harvest. Tears are filling my eyes just writing about it.

The fact that my husband remembered that I am trying to get my body into shape and brought home fruit platter instead of cake AND putting candles on the fruit tray was just another reminder that I am married to someone who is attentive to my needs. His thoughtfulness blew me away. He did admit that us watching Fireproof together last night made him more aware of those things that may seem “small” to him but will mean the world to his wife may have had something to do with it :o)

Seeing my niece as Ariel in The Little Mermaid and being able to watch her evolve over the years in her gift of dance, and learning that I have to start coming to the realization that they are moving in June; having the time to weep in the empty auditorium with my best friend and her sister so I could grieve that chapter of sharing that part of her journey allowed me to release a waterfall of salty tears that I’ve been holding in. It was like watching the little girl I never had evolve from this tiny 3 year old being swallowed up by the stage into this amazing young woman of beauty and grace is something I needed to do. It cleansed my heart of denial so there is now room to start appreciating every minute I have left while they’re still here instead of not spending time with them. My denial is something that I so desperately needed to come out of so I could break through the walls of self preservation that have kept me at a distance. 15 years is a long time. I just have to trust that the Lord that brought us together will enable and continue to hold our sisterhood together.

To go to drop Chris off at his grandparents and seeing my brother and this amazing, beautiful, new countenance he possesses and the smile I remember from childhood, which had faded over the years, now back is a moment I thought I’d never see, but I did. He’s happy! I get to see him living life once again!

Some people are blessed to have 2 or 3 people remember their birthday. But from near and far I had over 100 Birthday wishes on Facebook alone from friends who took the time to think of me and send me well wishes. Helen Keller said, "So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good." Today, I realized how very true her insight on the subject is. I’m blessed beyond measure with people in my life who care enough to say a quick, “Hello.” Or “Happy Birthday”. How many people don’t have that? I have every reason and then some to agree with Helen Keller, that yes indeed, “Life is good.”

I felt overwhelmed with the goodness of my Heavenly Papa today. There has never been a March 16th since I’ve known of my adoption that I’ve not thought of my birth mother. I wonder how she’s doing – if she thinks of me – knows that because of the Lord, I have lived and Lord willing, continue to live a thriving, happy, life on this side of eternity. All because she chose to give me life. This is the one day out of the year where there’s a woman somewhere out there that I’ve never met before is in the forefront of my mind and I can almost feel my heart beat with hers. It reminds me that I am here, for such a time as this. Her selfless sacrifice is not something that you can put a price tag on. If you or I met her and asked her how much it cost, I would submit to you that she wouldn’t even begin to have the ability to describe, because it is something that mere human words cannot express.

What a blessed woman I am indeed. I can honestly say that had I not received one material possession, this would still be THE BEST birthday I’ve ever had. I think as I get older, the things of the world do grow dimmer and dimmer, and those things that matter – that are eternal - is what touches the depths of my soul and causes my inner man – my spirit – to overflow with a new appreciation for life, love, health, friends, and family.

There’s actually a gospel song that’s been playing over and over in my head since getting out of bed. I woke up with it leaping in my spirit. I don’t know why it was this particular song because it’s been forever since I last heard it. The main chorus is, “When I look back over my life And I think things over I can truly say that I've been blessed. I've got a testimony.” God has brought me through so much in my 38 years on this earth. When I do look back over my life and think of all He’s brought me through, I fall on my knees in worship and thanksgiving, knowing that were it not for His grace and mercy, it’s no telling where I would be.

How very true that life is so fragile. That we are here today and gone tomorrow. Our life is but a vapor, a wisp of smoke – here today and gone tomorrow. It has taken me 38 years to see the pure beauty in the authentic celebration of the true meaning of what we call Birthdays. It’s not the material and monetary gifts. It’s the gifts found in the hug of your 16 year old son, the thoughtfulness of your best friend and husband. It’s found in the messages left on this crazy networking website called Facebook and email with well wishes from friends from different ages and stages of your life. The gift is found in the handwritten card of your 9 year old son with his weekly allowance of $5.00 taped to it. The true meaning is found in the smile of a brother who is beaming after years of seeing empty eyes and no emotion. It’s found in watching the grace and beauty of a 15 year old niece dancing so gracefully in a packed out performing arts production of The Little Mermaid. It is found in the time spent thanking God for a woman I’ve never met who gave me life. I have so much to be thankful for. And even as I type this, I am realizing that the perspective I have today is one that I should wish to have everyday – not just on my birthday.

Your birthday could be days, weeks, or months away, but I challenge you to pause for a minute today and behold the eternal, lasting, precious blessings in life that we take for granted. Material things are fleeting. They don’t last. But these other gifts are what I will now call eternal gifts of the heart. They are things I hope to remember until I take my last breath. I pray that I won’t ever forget the way that I felt today. Yes, today, March 16th, is my birthday, but I want to live life as if everyday were.

May Heavenly Daddy bless you as you are on the journey of this thing we call life.



Provoking Each Other

Provoking Each Other

©2008, Chantelle Henderson

Ok folks. A dear brother in the Lord posted a note last night about spiritual gifts. Alot of us took it and most weren't surprised at the results, myself included. As I laid in bed sick today I had to ask myself, what am I REALLY doing with those gifts? Just because someone gives you one, doesn't mean you have to open it. Although that's rarely the case, it is possible. So as I was pondering on my God given gifts I had to come to the realization that many of them are still "unopened". I prayed and I asked, "Why?" Why do we have these incredible gifts and not use them. With a broken and contrite spirit I realized that oftentimes we use our gifts for our own benefit rather than that of others. OUCH! I know. I know. Some of you can't relate, but this is to the people who can.

I sat in repentance when a song I heard for the first time yesterday came to mind. It's called Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath. WOW!!! That's all I gotta say about that song. It described perfectly how, as Christians, we go through life fellowshipping and building relationships with those who are deemed "safe", or not life suckers. While there's a time and a place for making sure relationships are healthy and not of a co-dependent nature, I'm talking about ministering to those who are lost and broken. For example. I know that a major part of my calling is to minister to women. That's great. It's easy when I'm preaching or teaching to those who are within the four walls of the church. But lately the Lord's been dealing with me ALOT about going to minister to those that I use to work with in the adult entertainment industry. It's so easy to stay in our comfort zones, but when we have to go out into the real battlefield, why is it that we leave our gifts wrapped and unopened. I really hope I'm making sense. Sometimes it's so hard to put on paper what is written on the tablet of my heart. If we have his eyes to see the world around us the way He does, we'd realize how very much the world around us needs the gifts inside of us, just like we needed others' gifts to bring us to the place we are in Christ. May I stop forgetting what it was like on the "other side."

Following are the lyrics to the song by Brandon Heath. If you have a way to listen to the full song on Itunes or myspace or whatever, I highly encourage you to do so.

Give Me Your Eyes

Looked down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the house tonight
Touched down on the cold black tile
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breath in the familiar shock
Of confusion and chaos
All those people going somewhere?
Why have I never cared?

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten

Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide whats underneath
Theres a man just to her right
Black suit and a bright red tie
Too ashamed to tell his wife
Hes out of work
Hes buying time
all those people going somewhere?
Why have I never cared?


Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten

Ive Been there a million times
A couple of million eyes
just move and pass me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
Well I want a second glance
So give me a second chance
To see the way you see the people all alone


©2007, Chantelle Henderson

Ok, so it's taken me all day to bring myself to the point where I could actually type this blog….Why?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  

You see I spent the better part of an hour typing it up earlier and you guessed it…..lost it!  Wiped out….finito….gone….adios….can't find and can't recover.  All things considered I handled it very well.  I didn't cry, scream, punch or kick anything.  Maybe I'm finally learning that there's no point to doing any of that when there's absolutely nothing I can do to bring it back.  My wonderful husband reminded me of the story about an author who was 75% done with writing his novel and the housekeeper threw it away by accident.  Well, that put things into perspective for me.  My issue was just a little blog.  As Ryan continued telling me this story which at the time didn't make me feel any better, the novel (the second one that he had to start all over with again) was a best seller and even better than the first one.  So with the stroke of my hands over the keyboard I hope to have the same blogging mojo I did with the first one.  

Of course I can't talk about the beautiful clouds in the sky, the birds, or the beautiful trees that I did in the first one because now it's night outside and I can't see diddly squat.  That's southern for nothing.  

The whole thing was about my son, Chris, who just came back from youth camp.  He was gone all week and came back a grown man, full of God's fire and having had a week of seeing God's hand at work in and through his life as well as those of his peers.  As I was sleeping earlier today, the Lord graciously took me back 20 years ago when I went to youth camp every year with my church's youth group.  It was called Centrifuge and when we went it was always at Mobile College in Mobile, Alabama.  It was a week of worship, teambuilding with your peers, quiet time devotions, and fun and games.  

The one thing I always loved about Centrifuge was the fact that for just a week, there was no color, no social class, or cliques.  We were all just a bunch of teenagers facing the same issues and challenges in life.  We were all there for various reasons.  For some it was to deepen our relationship with the Lord.  Others had parents who sent them there hoping it would give them a new direction in life.  And still there were some who just loved the social aspect of it.  No matter what brought us to Centrifuge, we all ended up on common ground – a young person searching for answers to life's often hard knock teenage life.  

As I reflected back on these summers,  one of my most precious memories always occurred on the last night of camp.  Not because we were going home, but because it felt like coming home.  Coming home to purpose and destiny.  Why?  Because it was brokenness in it's purest form.  It was truth pouring forth from the broken cracks of abuse of every kind, abandonment, neglect, rejection, and pain.  It was just our youth group which consisted of about 30 kids.  Everyone would just share what the Lord did that week and before it was over everyone was crying tears of healing and restoration.  There was a cleansing that would take place and you never wanted it to go away. The seed that was sown those three years in Centrifuge have yielded an unspeakable harvest of strength and hope when things have gotten tough for me over the years.  Here was our typical schedule:

Typical schedule

Though Centrifuge camps vary slightly at each location due to differences in personnel and available facilities, a typical day at Centrifuge would include:

Time Event
7:00 a.m. Breakfast
8:00 a.m. Quiet Time
8:30 a.m. Student Recreation
10:15 a.m. A.M. Show
11:00 a.m. Student Bible Study
12:00 p.m. Lunch
1:20 p.m. Track Time A
2:30p.m. Track Time B
3:20 p.m. Free time
5:00 p.m. Dinner
6:30 p.m. Worship
8:00 p.m. Church-group devotion
9:30 p.m. Night life
10:15 p.m. Free time
11:00 p.m. In rooms
11:30 p.m. Lights out

A lot of water is under the bridge after 20 years.  At times it seemed the water threatened to cover the bridge(s) with rivers of hurt, disappointment, and shattered dreams and overtake me, but the Lord's hand remained steady and true and was always there when the water level was rising.  He never ever has even come close to letting me drown.  All this to say that  I stood in the kitchen a couple days ago hearing my son share the same experience in his week away at youth camp but with even more challenges than the kids of our day had to face.  Now you have cutters, internet pornography addictions, drugs readily available on any given day, and a myriad of other challenges.  If I were ever aware of God's faithfulness to the generations it was at that very moment.  His Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  

My prayer for my son and all the youth of this generation is that they would prophesy.  That they will speak healing and blind eyes will be opened and deaf people will hear.  That they will hunger and thirst for righteousness and will be filled.  I thank God that seed was planted in the fertile soil of the hearts of the youth this week at camp that will have an eternal harvest that will go on even beyond my children's children.  But right now, I get to see joy everlasting in the life of a boy, my son, who stands in awe and amazement at the God he serves as never before. 

Hungry For Some Hazel Gourmet Food

Let's Go Out For Some Hazel!
©2007, Chantelle Thomas-Henderson

Let me "set the table" for you of today's Thanksgiving dinner.  I'm here in Florida with my family and there are the aromas floating around in the air that I long to smell knowing that I will typically only have that privilege twice, maybe three times a year if I'm really lucky.  The two occasions -  Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Just this past year, I discovered that for my birthday I could tell mom I want our holiday dinner as my birthday present.  What I am referring to thus far, is mom's cooking.  And so it goes….as we sat down at the dinner table I'm staring at all my favorite foods, mom's made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese, her one-of-a-kind dressing, lima beans, gravy….you name it, it was there. 

Now let me explain mom's cooking.  It is truly one of her God-given gifts.  Let me put it into perspective for you.  You know how you have different types of food?  There's Mexican, Italian, French and so on and so forth.  Well….mom's food is in a category of its own.  I call it Hazel.  For example, "Honey, instead of going out to dinner for Mexican tonight, can we go out for Hazel?".  Her cooking can make taste buds you didn't even know existed come to life and dance the best flavor waltz among anything else you've ever tasted, even in the most expensive restaurants around the world.  As you may be aware by now, I cannot articulate just how unique and amazing it is, because she's truly in a league of her own.  Just ask anyone that's had some of her food.  They leave, just like many others in the past, trying to convince her to open her own catering business or restaurant, but mom – well, she'll just roll her eyes and say a quick, "Nah". 

So imagine me sitting there, my mouth watering and longing for one of only 3 opportunities I'll get this year to partake and then realizing that for me, I could only LOOK at all of it with the exception of the turkey!  Why?  Well, first let me rephrase it.  It's not that I could not partake of all of it, but I would not.  I'm on a nutrition program that would have been blown to pieces had I eaten the food before me today.  Now, at Christmas and my Birthday, Lord willing, I should be able to eat all of it in small portions, but that hope provided very little comfort today when I was sitting there struggling to decide if my health, fitness, and weight loss goals were more important to me than having "Hazel".  In the end, I literally got 1 teaspoon of each of the mac and cheese and the dressing.  It was sooooooo good.  Surely, it must have been a sight to see me take a barely-there portion and cut it into even smaller portions.  I don't know if you could even consider it a portion – more like a po.  There wasn't enough to be able to add the rtions.  Even I can see the humor in that now.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to just say, "Forget it!  I'll eat today and start over tomorrow."  I would have only been deceiving myself and my heart and mind both knew it.  So there I sat and ate turkey…..lots and lots of turkey, and drank my water……lots and lots of water.  After a while, the food was no longer the focus of my attention.  It was my family and our time of sharing and interacting with one another.  Before I knew it, I was satisfied and full without having to compromise my newfound food discipline.  The prize ahead of me, the prize of being physically healthy and in good shape was more important to me than that immediate gratification I could have had if I'd delved into the pool of mom's beautifully prepared Thanksgiving meal.

Dinner reminded me of the temptations we face in life.  As Christians we think that if the temptation is not right in front of us, then we'll never be tempted.  WRONG!  To a certain extent, it is somewhat true. That's why the Word says to we are supposed to go the opposite direction of our sin.  It says to resist the enemy and he will flee.  Eventually, however, you will come face to face with whatever it is that your temptation may be.  Therein is the challenge of choosing what is right or giving in to what is wrong….sin.  For me, it's been somewhat a breeze to follow my new nutrition plan because the temptation, simply put, was not there- not right in front of my face anyway.  There was a battle of thoughts of things I would eat if I could.  I just did my best to stay away from weaknesses such as Starbucks, Wendy's, Chili's, etc.  (I'm amazed at how much more money I have now as a result of that too!)  Just like the alcoholic entertains visions of sitting at the bar with their choice of drink, or the sex addict envisioning painted up and airbrushed centerfolds, no matter how much I stayed away from my places of weakness, I thought about the juicy double cheeseburger or the classic nachos with extra sour cream from Chili's but decided not to.  When faced with "Hazel" tonight I felt like David coming face to face with Goliath.  My sling, the promise I have that I can do all things through Christ and the stone was my final decision to not give in to my temptation.  Before I knew it, Goliath was down for the count – conquered, finished, done….for now anyway.  It's a step by step, day by day process that I am learning to complete one day at a time.  I'm not foolish enough to believe that another Goliath will not manifest itself again.

For you…I don't know what you goals and visions are – what your weaknesses and temptations are – the Goliaths you must face.  If you allow me to encourage you, even if for a moment, I can tell you that with the sling of His word and the stone of your choice between good and evil, because of Christ, you are MORE THAN A CONQUEROR!

Side note:  My mammas cooking is not evil or of the devil.  It's strictly used as the subject because for me, during this change in eating habits, it was not going to be healthy.  That's a whole other blog, though.  You know… if  something is misused or abused, even though in and of itself is something good, can become and object of stumbling.  For me right now, it's food.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving….remember that we should give thanks everyday, not just once a year.

Psalm 106:1 - Amplified

PRAISE THE Lord! (Hallelujah!) O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!


How Forgiveness Taught Me To Love Them

© January 2008, Chantelle Henderson

You may want to sit down….this is a long one (as if others aren't)  Never since I can recall have I ever heard so many people say that 2007 was the worst year of their life and that they were ready for it to be over.  In listening I heard voices of hope that 2008 will bring better things.  While I don't think it's necessarily the year of this or that, I do believe there are seasons.  And that being said, I think 2007 brought a season of major shifting in every area of life for many, including yours truly.  In looking back, however, it was "the best of times and the worst of times".  I never understood that saying until having had to walk it out this year.  In my 37 years of being on this earth, I've experienced a lot of things that are nearly unspeakable, but thank God for His unfailing love which has made me more than a conqueror over the results of those things. 

This will be perhaps the most transparent blog I've yet to write.  It will unveil things not shared until now, but the more people I share it with, the more I realize that other people need to hear so they will not believe the enemy when he lies and tells them they are alone and that no one cares, and the various other twisted untruths he speaks hoping you will hear his voice over the voice of God.  Where do I begin?  Gosh!  I know that I can look at this thing now and whether by my choice or by force, realize I went through some crap, but I'm victorious because of God's grace which is more than sufficient - always has been always will be.  Some of these things I brought about because of poor choices, and others I wouldn't have wished on my worst enemy!  I'll start with February….

For about a year, I'd been on medication for Fibromyalgia.  Around April, because of my own lack of wisdom, I took myself off the medication without seeking medical advice first.  Well that did a doozie on me!  In going off the medication so rapidly, it threw me off balance physically as well as emotionally.  I would not call what I experienced a nervous breakdown, because I was still very much aware of what was going on around me, but I knew that if I didn't get help, I would certainly be headed in that direction.  Things from my past that I though I'd dealt with and received healing for found their way back into my mind, and because I did not guard my heart, entered there also. 

Here I was, living the life most people can only dream about.  I have a wonderful husband, two amazing boys, my dream house, the minivan, and the stay-at-home job I'd longed for.  I had nice, material possessions, friends, and favor.  You name it, I had everything I could and possibly hoped for and then some.  Inside, I was dying.  I'd basically gained the whole world and lost my soul for lack of better words.  Why?  Because my desire for revenge over the ones that misused their authority while I was growing up, and even as an adult began to take root in the soil of my heart and before I knew it began to be consumed by unforgiveness.  That unforgiveness grew and grew until I found myself, by choice, in a place of complete and total isolation - trusting NO ONE - always looking for an arterial motive.  In that isolation, I wouldn't take phone calls, go out, nothing.  I just wanted to be left alone.  I was completely alone, but somehow was comforted by that.  And that is exactly where the enemy wanted me.  Looking back, I thought that if those who knew and loved me could see and hear the result of my unforgiveness they wouldn't understand and would even judge me.  The devil is such a liar.  Those people, are the very vessels God used to bring me out of my "funk". 

Let's back up the medication and fibromyalgia part.  Coming off the medication had such an effect on me that although IT WAS NOT a narcotic and I was not an addict, but the results of discontinuing it had the same effect on me as if I were a drug addict.  One night I was sitting in my living room and the enemy tried to convince me that this world would be a better place without me.  I just sat and wept and wept and wept.  The tears fell down my face just like water in a waterfall.  The crying would not stop and the emotional pain I felt from childhood scars overtook me until I was drowning in self pity.  Here I was, the Chantelle that people always came to for prayer, help, advice, hope, and I sat with none for myself.  The one thing I did have was the word of God which was written, not on paper, but on the tablet of my heart.  It was there that I began to speak the word over myself.  Psalm 37, 23, and Psalm 27.  I got up off the floor, went to my husband and told him what was going on.  He immediately called the doctor and before I knew it, I was carrying my bag into an inpatient treatment facility.  I'll never forget when the doors closed behind me and I had no way of getting out.  I remember sitting there and saying, all my years of drinking and even using drugs-I've been free from it for years, and here I am in a treatment facility because of medication I was taking to manage fibromyalgia.  Unbelievable!  I went to my room and there I met a young woman, about 18 years old, who was detoxing from drug use.  (A woman that I actually got to witness to!  Even the things the devil meant for evil, God turned it around and used it for His good.)  He always does.  How in the world did I ever get here?  I couldn't even speak because of my own shock.  I laid in bed that night staring at the ceiling, scared, lonely, and in disbelief.  How in the world did I go from teaching and preaching the word, to being an inpatient in the "crazy house"? (as I thought the time).  Little did I know that those 3 days would change my life - forever.  You see there were people there from 17 years old through their 60's and each and every one of them had a story to tell - most of them tragic.  For the first time in a long time, I recognized my own story.  I've told it a million times like it was nothing.  In reality, the pain was just as real to me in that facility as it was when I was growing up.  While the Lord provided healing and deliverance from those things and gave me a voice to share it as a testimony, I forgot to do one thing.  That was to forgive.  I had not forgiven the various people involved.  There's a scripture in the word:

 Mark 7:14-20 (New Living Translation):

14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. "All of you listen," he said, "and try to understand.
16 Let the person who has ears listen!"
15 It's not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart."
 17 Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used.
18 "Don't you understand either?" he asked. "Can't you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you?
19 Food doesn't go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer." (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God's eyes.)
 20 And then he added, "It is what comes from inside that defiles you."
You see, it's not what happened to me, what "entered into" me or what happened to me.  It is how I responded to those things [once I had knowledge of the word]. 

The "food" that entered in to me was ugly.  It was unfair.  It caused so much anguish and pain.  The Lord provided so much grace and love in healing me emotionally and physically from the effects of what happened but ultimately I made a choice not to forgive and defilement set in.  I was becoming bitter, non-trusting, and outright hard hearted.

So as I laid in this bed, this prison, both internally and externally, the Lord comforted me.  He surrounded me with songs of deliverance and the power of His word to get me through those 3 days while I was "detoxing" - physically and spiritually.  The first day I thought it was absolutely ridiculous that I was even there.  After all, I wasn't like these people, and then I realized that in a lot of ways I was.  I was hurting and broken and afraid.  I was FINALLY truly and utterly broken, bare and naked before God.  I couldn't run and I couldn't hide.  It was the darkest season of my soul - a defining moment in my life.  The second night the Lord finally had my attention.  He began to reveal to me the root of bitterness and the unforgiveness I had and how subtlety it had come in and taken root - how I'd watered it by pretending that I was ok and that I had moved on.  It was like the big elephant in the room that I kept ignoring.  During that same time, He spoke something that I will never forget.  Actually, 2 things.  The first one was that because I was finally in a place of complete brokenness and nakedness that He would begin to clothe me from the soles of my feet to the top of my head.  He would "rebuild" me, if you will.  Everything I thought I knew or thought I believed would be wiped clean and He would be my teacher.  He would show me what to wear.  He gave me this scripture:

Ephesians 6:10-17

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 I remember thinking at the time that it was interesting that that particular scripture started out with FINALLY.  It was like he was saying I FINALLY have your attention.  For all your trying to do it on your own, fix it on your own, desiring revenge, hiding behind masks that said I'm ok when I wasn't, FINALLY I have your attention.  You've been clothing yourself with a false sense of security, pretending that you were over the things you have yet to deal with.  FINALLY I can go into those hidden hurting places in the depths of your heart and begin to heal you to the point that you realize that you are not and never were fighting against flesh and blood, but against the enemy of your soul that desired to sift you as wheat and mess up your life and your calling.  FINALLY I will teach you how to clothe yourself with my full armor.  

It really sucks how I got to that point, but you know what?  I am so glad I did.  Be careful what you pray for because for months He had been preparing me for those three days and I didn't even know it.  I'd been praying that no matter what it took, no matter what, that I would learn to totally surrender to Him and His will for my life.  Those simple words I prayed, "whatever it takes".  Don't get me wrong.  He tried to deal with me with all this on many, many occasions, but I was too stubborn to listen.  So, I had to go to a place I'd never been - a place that I had no choice but to depend solely on Him and His Word.
By the 3rd day (isn't that interesting?) I was released.  I was released from the prison I'd held myself in for so long as well as the facility I was staying in.  I was released to be free from the burden of my past.  Second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, I am learning to walk in and choose to forgive those who have caused me pain, and also asking for forgiveness for the pain I have caused others. It's at the foot of the cross that there is no separation between the one who forgives and the one who needs forgiveness, for you see, we are one in the same.

Phil 3:10-14 (Amplified) sums up this time in my life:

 10[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]
    11That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].
    12Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.
    13I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
    14I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.
I don't have it all together YET, but one thing I am trying to do is forget what is behind me and press forward toward all that God has for me.

I have been forgiven much and I am asking Christ to show me how to love much.  If He can give Judas - the one He knew would betray Him a place of honor at the last supper - if He could wash Judas' feet, knowing that he would soon be a part of the reason He would be crucified, how can I not forgive those who have harmed me?  How can you not forgive those who have hurt you?  How can any of us not forgive?

Here is the easy English dictionary meaning of forgive:

forgive ~>mercy and do not remember sin /bad things.
forgive ~ (A) ~ show love and mercy and not remember bad things against someone; when God does not remember the wrong things that we do.
forgive ~ (A) ~ take away the results of sin .
forgive ~ (A) ~ when someone stops being angry with another person who has done bad things.
forgive ~ (B) ~ to show pity and not to remember bad things; to set free from wrong things that we do.

My prayer is that we all learn to walk in these practices - showing love and mercy, stop being angry with others who have wronged us - show those who have harmed us pity.  After all, there is nothing we can do in our own might and power that will bring true healing.  The Lord is our vindicator and those who have hurt us will have to answer to our Heavenly Daddy face to face for their actions.  Knowing that has brought me much comfort and I can honestly say that I've forgiven those who participated in things that hurt me, both physically and emotionally. I no longer desire revenge.  In surrendering ALL to the Lord I learned true freedom.  Walking in that freedom has taught me how to love my enemies and to pray for them.  Forgiveness taught me to love them.

Haver Cove

Haver Cove
© 2008 Chantelle Thomas-Henderson

Kick the can
mother may I red light green light- hide and seek riding bikes until sundown, sleepovers, swimming in our backyard pool, the parade all the kids in the neighborhood put together just because and an article with photos were printed in the local paper Pacman Jordache Jeans making home movies creating our own tents and castles Christmases made up of the stuff you see in Disney movies Broadway Baptist Church Bus picking me up on Sunday mornings visits with grandma Ruth and grandma Mary these are things from the place I grew up in Memphis, TN on Haver Cove.

I can remember the feel, the weather, the laughter, and the fun as if it were just yesterday. Haver Cove could, at best, be described as an upper middle class culde-sac full of working moms and dads and a whole bunch of kids that were alike in age. It was a melting pot of blacks and whites with life in common and there was no separation. If you'd tried to explain prejudices to me then, I would not have a clue as to what you were talking about. Haver Cove was magical. I remember daddy cutting the front lawn and I would be in trouble and on restriction for something. I would stand in front of the large window and "coded" my friends to go and talk to my dad to see if I could come out and play. By coded, I mean, all the kids had this agreement that if one of us wanted to go out to play and couldn't, we'd go to the window at the front of our house and motion or point to the door, or if our parents were outside, our parents. Without fail, it would always work. Those were the days you knew your neighbors. Haver Cove was like its' own little town, made up of 8 houses. No one was a stranger and your neighbor wasn't afraid to discipline your child if they got out of order. We probably coined the phrase it takes a village to raise a child long before Hillary Clinton ever thought of it.

As I was watching my youngest son, Jeremy, play at the pool today in our apartment community with all the other kids, my mind went back to a time and place when I was his age. It took me back to Haver Cove. I sat and watched children of all races and ages play in the pool and make up unknown games. They ran around with reckless abandonment and the laughter echoed for minutes at a time. Jeremy bought this HUGE turtle float today and at one time there were five kids on it!!!! They would fall and get back on, take turns, and once again, laughter and joy would break out. It was simple. It was water and a plastic floating device. But to them it was probably the ship from Pirates Of The Caribbean, or the waterslide at Six Flags. In observation I sat and longed for a child like heart and outlook on life such as these that were within my eye's view. Over the years things have changed drastically. Kick the can has now been replaced by rushing kids to and from soccer, basketball, and baseball games that require an exhausting schedule. Pacman has been replaced by hours of Nintendo DS, WIIs, and Playstations. Forget having the "code" to melt your parents' heart. There's time outs and restricting them from their games for 15 minutes
hardly enough to make a difference most of the time.

Oh, how I wish I could give my kids Haver Cove. I can try as hard as I can, but that was a different day and time. Life was simpler then and the village raised the kids as it were.

One thing never changes and that is the purity and abandonment of the heart of a child. As a mother, I try to protect them from that being polluted, only to find that because of a bad mood, snapping at them, or being short of patience that I've not protected their child like innocence, but assisted in the erosion of its wholeness. I can't go back and undo it. As parents, none of us can. What we can do is share our "Haver Cove" experiences and remind them that we too were once children. It's our opportunity to share those things we can do to prolong their resilience. Those things that we went through in life that over time caused our childlike innocence to turn into adult, self-erected walls of protection.

I'm blessed among most in the relationships I have with both of my boys. One 16 (in a month) and the other 8. They've seen the worst of their mom and the best. I do all I can to protect their hearts, although often falling short. I desire so deeply to give them Haver Cove. I hope one day they will grow up to perceive their own childhood memories with such an enchanting and charming recollection as mine.

There was no particular reason for this blog. This was a just because blog
…….because I was reflecting on my princess-like childhood, and to remind myself that I want that for my own sons..that all moms and dads want that for their children.

I don't know if many of you have ever heard of or even been a fan of Christian Artist Steven Curtis Chapman. A parent's worst nightmare happened last week as his 5 year old daughter was killed in a freak car incident. Ironically, he wrote this song called Cinderella (see lyrics below) . It's a father's heart's cry (as well as a mother's, if not even more so) to realize that one day you're the child in Haver Cove and then your children are living in their own. Time goes by so fast and we need to realize that none of us are promised tomorrow, so we do our best TODAY, to put away the TVs, the phone calls, the Nintendos, and yes
.even the time outs…….and take the time to do all you can to give them their own sweet childhood memories that we as parents have it in our power to help them create.


She spins and she sways to whatever song plays,
Without a care in the world.
And I'm sittin' here wearin' the weight of the world on my shoulders.
It's been a long day and there's still work to do,
She's pulling at me saying "Dad I need you!
There's a ball at the castle and I've been invited and I need to practice my dancin'"

"Oh please, daddy, please!"
So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh I will dance with Cinderella
I don't wanna miss even one song,
Cuz all to soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

She says he's a nice guy and I'd be impressed
She wants to know if I'd approve of a dress
She says "Dad, the prom is just one week away,
And I need to practice my dancin'"

"Oh please, daddy, please!"
So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Ohh-oh ohh-oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't wanna miss even one song,
Cuz all to soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone
She will be gone.

Well, she came home today
With a ring on her hand
Just glowin' and tellin' us all they had planned
She says "Dad, the wedding's due six months away
And I need to practice my dancin'"

"Oh please, daddy please!"
So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Ohh-oh ohh-oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't wanna miss even one song,
(even one song)
Cuz all to soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone

All lyrics are property and copyright of their owners and provided for educational purposes only.