Counting OnGrace

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oh Me Of Little Faith

Oh Me Of Little Faith
©2010, Chantelle Henderson

This week I’ve felt “bluer” than I have in quite some time. I’ll be honest and say I’ve actually done nothing but lay in bed on some days, unable to mentally pull myself from the warmth and false security of my favorite pastel-colored flowered down comforter and pillows. For the first time in a long time there are several things going on in my life which I have absolutely no control over and I find myself not trusting that Heavenly Daddy knows best. I know what I want. But is it what He wants for me? I’m taken to the scripture that is written on the tablet of my heart from Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” I often feel that I don’t ask Him for very much for myself. Quite often if you were to sit with me in my prayer closet you would find that the pleading and cries of my heart are for my friends, family, countries, and even strangers. But it’s when I ask for myself and I’m the one who has to wait instead of the person on the receiving the end of what I hope to be an answered prayer for them, it’s extremely frustrating, and depressing.

This morning as I was drinking my coffee the Lord spoke softly to me and said, “Chantelle, you’re frustrated, and angry, and depressed because you are not trusting Me. And the bottom line is that these things you are desiring are becoming an idol in your heart because you are giving them so much more energy and thought than you have Me.” OUCH! How in the world can my desires become an idol? I mean that is such a strong mental & heart image that I find nearly impossible to even begin to consider. All the days of my life I long for there only to be one idol in my life, the object of all my affections, everything I have and everything I am and that is The Lover Of My Soul, Jesus Christ, The One in Who’s image I was created, God, and my comforter, The Holy Spirit. Our idol(s) in life are those things we worship, at times not even realizing it. It’s what we cling to when all hope is lost. It’s what we ultimately believe will heal our sick bodies, comfort us when we are comfortless, gives us hope that everything is going to be ok. It’s our security and belief that if we lost everything else, our idol will hold us up. For some people it’s not even religion. It’s a spouse, job, money, a friend or relationship. Maybe even a parent or pastor. Whatever our idol is, we need to be sure it can do for us what nothing or no one else can when the rubber meets the road.

In shame I repented not only for not trusting Him and what He knows is best for me, but for exalting my dreams, desires, and future hopes above His infinite wisdom and knowledge. He knows the end from the beginning and who am I that I should believe that I know what’s best for my life. If you’ve followed my writings for any amount of time, you know that besides Psalm 27, Psalm 23 is one of the main scriptures in God’s word that reminds me that it’s not His intention that I be confused, uncertain, doubtful, or afraid. Psalm 23 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) “The LORD is my shepherd there is nothing I lack. He lets me lie down in green pastures He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life He leads me along the right paths for His name's sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies You anoint my head with oil my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD as long as I live.” There it is. The Lord is my Shepherd (Shepherds were, and are, those who tend, feed, and guard flocks of sheep-that’s me!) His rod and His staff (His rod protects me and His staff guides and comforts me.) I now understand the scripture that I’ve taken for granted and really haven’t had to walk out in a while.

James 1:5-8. I love The Message version. “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.”

How foolish I've been in my absence of  recognizing that it’s been a while since I’ve been under some pressure-I mean REAL pressure to see if what I speak and tell others is what I truly believe. I need some patience. I need to see my true colors-not Him because He already knows, but for ME. I need to know the true condition of my heart because it can be so deceiving-much more deceptive than an enemy (the devil) we give too much credit to anyway.

I so wish I can share the mass of issues I am facing in my life right now, but I will remain silent until it all works together for good. I want to show myself and the world that no matter what the outcome the only glory to be gained is that which is given to my Heavenly Daddy. It’s during those situations involving things, people, & situations, and decisions to be made that I remember the scripture where Moses is speaking to the Israelites.  Exodus 14:13-14 (New American Standard Bible) “But Moses said to the people before the sea was divided, " Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent." And so He says to me. “Chantelle, stop being afraid. Just sit still and watch what I am going to do for you. The trial which you are under right now, you won’t have to deal with again. I’ll fight this battle as long as you remain still and silent in anticipation of my future plans for you." The battle of my mind, my unbelief, and my fear, and insecurities of the unknown are my own to conquer and I must choose to place all of it under the name of Jesus which is the Name above ALL names.
In the high and lofty station of my Christianity I always get knocked down few notches when I remember the occasion in the Bible where there was a storm raging and the disciples were freaking out with a capital F. Jesus is chillin’, asleep, and totally not even caring about this storm that threatened to tip the boat over (it was already filling up with water) only for the sea to swallow them all alive. That’s me right now. There’s a storm raging all around me and I’m freaking out. And Jesus is not moved by this “storm” in my life because He knows the outcome of it all.

Mark 4:37-41 (Amplified) “….a furious storm of wind of hurricane proportions] arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled. But He Himself was in the stern of the boat, asleep on the leather cushion; and they awoke Him and said to Him, Master, do You not care that we are perishing? And He arose and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, Hush now! Be still (muzzled)! And the wind ceased (sank to rest as if exhausted by its beating) and there was immediately a great calm (a perfect peacefulness). He said to them, Why are you so timid and fearful? How is it that you have no faith (no firmly relying trust)? And they were filled with great awe and feared exceedingly and said one to another, Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey Him?”

There you have it.....what I am considering a storm, I'm beginning to shift my misplaced faith and consider it another opportunity to see Him shine in and through my life and show that as always, HE IS FAITHFUL. I think I’m going to go and climb in my own boat now and try to sleep in the midst of my storm. 

I suppose I will end with this. Number one, I am so glad that He’s given me a gift of expression through my journaling/blogging, even if it’s only because I need to be reminded and encouraged myself, although I do hope it blesses other people. We may be in the middle of a storm, but all it takes is jut ONE word from the Master, Jesus Christ, and our circumstances must fall in line with what He commands.  
Thanks for reading.


The Necessary Thing

The Necessary Thing
© 2006 Chantelle Thomas-Henderson

Luke 10:38-42 (NASB)
38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.
39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word.
40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me."
41 But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;
42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
I’m sure many of us are familiar with this passage of scripture.  You have two women.  One who is working to get something done that needed to get done and one who has chosen to sit at the Master’s feet.  Mary or Martha?  Most of us go between the two extremes in our daily living although I would venture to say that most of us tend to be Marthas.  We’re always trying to get things accomplished because somehow we’ve convinced ourselves that if we don’t do it, no one else will.  Or maybe you think you’re the only one that can do the job the way it needs to be done.  Or how about this one?  If I do this, it will make them like me and give me some sense of importance and/or belonging.  I will be honest enough with you today and tell you that only recently have I come to realize that other people will do it, other people can do it better than me, and I can give you a 110% and you will still find fault with it.  I’ve realized that only one thing is necessary and that is to sit at the Master’s feet.  Notice that he didn’t say Mary chose the desirable or the convenient thing, but he said it is the needful, necessary thing.
Let me ask you a question.  Why are you doing all that you’re doing anyway?  Is it because of the expectations of others?  Is it out of true desire?  Is it to fill some sort of emptiness, or is it because it is leading you along the path of your divine destiny?  I submit to you that if it is not the latter, you need to re-evaluate those things I call “time eaters” and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what you need to lay aside.  For some of us, even if a direct opportunity that lines up with our life’s purpose were to present itself, we’re so busy doing other things that either we won’t have the time or you’ll do it but be so overcommitted and burned out with other things that it will be nearly impossible to do it with 100% effort.  Did you know that life was not meant to be lived in a constant state of chaos?  Is there always drama in your life?  You may say, “Well, Chantelle, this all sounds good but I’m a single mom and if I don’t do it, it really won’t get done.”  Or you may say, “Well, I’m sorry, but if I left it up to my husband to help out with housework it will never get done.  It would look like a war zone.”  I want to show you, through the word of God that there is only ONE NECESSARY THING.  I believe that by the end of this you’ll realize that out of that one thing, everything else will fall into place without you having a nervous breakdown!  We’re not meant to live in a constant state of being burnt out – stressed – angry and upset because we’ve chosen to try to be superwoman!  Come with me to the 23rd Psalm.
Psalm 23:1-6
1THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack.
2He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters.
3He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake.
4Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.
5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.
6Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.
Close your eyes and try to think of a time that this passage could have described what you were experiencing.  What was different then?  As I was reading this passage and thinking about it in terms of what I’m speaking about today I found myself laughing because I realized that this passage is usually heard during funerals.  But I strongly believe that this is something we were meant to walk in NOW.  Jesus is our shepherd NOW.  How many know that in spit of the obstacles or challenges we are facing right now in our life, we can experience those still waters and paths of righteousness NOW.  “Well, what about the valley?”, you ask.  Notice that it says that we go through the valley of the shadow of death.  We don’t stay there!  And secondly, we don’t have to fear evil because His rod of protection and his staff that guides us is our comfort.  “What about my enemies?”.  Woman of God, let me tell you something right here and right now, enemies are our pathway to our divine destiny.  They are the launching pad of our ability to see what we’re really made of.  The word of God in this passage says that He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.  Don’t worry about it now because the people that are hating you today will be asking you to pray for them tomorrow.  The folks that are making fun of you today and calling you a radical or a crazy person, will be the same ones that will be standing there and see God’s goodness operating in your life and He’ll do it in such a way that they will know that it was God’s favor that got you through.  He will perform his word and set a table before you in their presence.  He will bless you right in front of them – not for your own glory but for His and His alone.  This is something more recently that I’ve had to really learn to walk in and praise God, while I haven’t perfected it, I’m getting better. 
Let’s look at something else from our original text.  Just a little sidebar while we’re on the subject of enemies.  While I don’t believe Martha and Mary were enemies for one second I did notice in verse 40 that Martha was not very happy with Ms. Mary.  She was so worked up to the point that she went to Jesus and wanted him to do something about Mary’s lack of participation in helping her.  Ladies, we must be very careful when we are serving and doing, that we do not judge another sister who may look like she’s not doing her part because for all you know, she could be in that season of restoration and refreshing.  Don’t you look at what someone else is or isn’t doing and decide that she’s not doing her part.  You have no idea what she’s going through.  You see, Mary was doing the necessary thing but to Martha, it appeared that she was slacking.  Jesus set her straight though.  It boiled down to choices.  Martha chose to get dinner ready.  Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus.  In most of the translations I read it was worded that she “chose” or “had chosen”.  One even states, “She has discovered.”  Let’s face it, so long as we keep doing all that we’re doing, no one is going to say, “Oh, Chantelle, why don’t you take a break?”  YOU HAVE TO MAKE A CHOICE!  No one else is going to make it for you.  I used to be a consultant with a business called Quiet Places.  Our mission was to “Provide women the education and resources to create quiet hearts, homes, and minds.”  I do want to ask you a few questions that I would ask women when I would make a presentation.  I was often amazed when I asked these questions to women, some who worked outside the home, others who were stay at home moms, some married, some single.  Some with children, others without.  I always found a common thread – They are not doing the necessary thing.  They’re not taking time to sit at the Master’s feet.  They’re not taking time out to stop doing and just be.  Let me ask you the same questions and see what the response is here.  You may want to write them down so you can go back later and really seek the Lord to help you with answering these:
1.        Would you classify your life as simple?
2.        Do you have more than 10 things on your do do list?
3.        Did you schedule quiet time today?
4.        Have you exercised this week?
5.        Did you burn a candle this week?
6.        Have you enjoyed a relaxing bath this week – ALONE!  No kids or husband interrupting.
7.        Have you journaled this week?
8.        Have you read a book this month?
9.        Are you anxious or stressed out about any upcoming events?

Depending on how you answered these questions, you need to do some re-adjusting.  Maybe learn how to say “NO”.  You may have to relinquish some control.  Remember, only One thing is NEEDFUL.  And that is to sit at His feet.  When was the last time you told Jesus how much you loved Him?  How grateful you are that He saved your soul?  How you haven’t forgotten what He’s brought you through?  Better yet, when was the last time you sat, alone in quiet and solitude and just listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit?  When was the last time you just sat, with the Bible and meditated on the Word of God – no phones, no kids running around or tugging at you?  A few weeks ago I had to think about this myself.  I was in Sunday school class and I can’t even give you the message for the day.  I just remember one thing.  We were discussing the busyness of life.  How we go to work and give 100% or we go to church and give it our all.  Yet we give our husbands, our children, God – even ourselves – just the leftovers.  What a sad but true thought? 
“Yeah, right Chantelle.  This all sounds good, but you don’t understand the reality”.  No I do.  I do understand the reality.  Reality is that you’ve got a million things to do.  Reality is also that there is ONLY ONE YOU!!!!  If you are not taking the time to sit as his feet – to seek His face – to do that ONE NEEDFUL THING – none of the other stuff even matters. 
Let me give you what I believe is the key to making wise choices.  An expert in religious law asked Jesus the question in Luke 10, “What do you have to do to inherit everlasting life”.  Jesus’ answer had nothing to do with how many boards you served on, or if Sister Sassy complimented you on a job well done, or even on how well you sang. Your gifts and talents come from Him anyway so He ain’t impressed – that’s another sermon though.  Anyhow, His reply is found in:
Luke 10:27 –28
27And he replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
28And Jesus said to him, You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live [enjoy active, blessed, endless life in the kingdom of God].
Notice the order here.  1.  Love God  2.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  This tells me that we have to know how to love ourselves before loving others.  How can we love ourselves if we’re not even taking time to take care of ourselves?  We often try to give to others when we ourselves are empty.  Don’t you see?  We must sit at His feet and be filled before we can pour into others.  Be honest with yourself.  
In Matthew 14:13 After Jesus received news of John The Baptist being beheaded, it states that, “As soon as Jesus heard the news, he went off by himself in a boat to a remote area to be alone.”  In vs. 23 after he’s fed the 5,000 men, not to mention women & children, with the five loaves and two fish it’s written that, “Afterward he went up into the hills by himself to pray.  Night fell while he was there alone.”  If you keep reading you’ll also realize that these moments or times of solitude and being alone seldom lasted for any lengthy period of time because there was always a need somewhere.  The important thing, however, to see in these texts is that He took the time to go and be alone [with His Father].  And this is where we fall short.  We just keep going and going and going like we’re the energizer bunny, but before we know it, we’ve not stopped to take time out and our batteries wear out until there is nothing left to give.  Jesus instructs his disciples to follow his example.  Look at:
Mark 6:31-32
31And He said to them, [As for you] come away by yourselves to a deserted place, and rest a while--for many were [continually] coming and going, and they had not even leisure enough to eat.
32And they went away in a boat to a solitary place by themselves.
Let me tell you that I believe Jesus knew, and could identify with both Martha and Mary.  He was our example.  If He had to take time out what makes us think we need anything less?  In vs. 32 He does not hesitate to give us the reality of life – that people will constantly be tugging at you and wanting you do things.  The beauty of it all is that we have been given a choice.  There will be plenty of opportunity for being a Martha but you must choose to make time to be a Mary.
Let me end with this.  I’ve given each of you a list of the questions I asked earlier.  I want you to take the time to do that necessary thing – to sit at His feet.  Be honest with Him.  He already knows anyway.  Ask Him for wisdom.  Tell Him that you’re tired.  Ask Him to shut doors that you’re no longer to walk through.  If there are things you need to say no to or to step down from, ask Him to even now, begin to prepare the hearts of those over those areas or tasks.  Allow His Holy Spirit to speak to you about some things you may need to cut out.  For a lot of us, like it was – like it is, for me – you’ll have to relinquish some control.  I promise you, the world will not end if someone else is in charge.  As I was preparing for this the Holy Spirit reminded me that some of us have been sitting for too long.  It’s time for some of you to start serving so Martha is freed up to sit at His feet for a while.  Be willing to let go of some things if He instructs you to do so and be willing to take on some things if He is leading you in that direction.  The world needs both Martha and Mary.  In the midst of cleaning your house, or serving on this committee, or singing in the choir, or working yet another night of overtime – remember that only one thing is needful.  Just one.  That is to sit at His feet – that place of submitting your will, your schedule, your agenda – that place of laying it all down – just to hear Him speak a word that can refresh, restore, and rejuvenate your very life. 

The Old Vs. The New

The Old Vs. The New
© January 2008

Ezekiel 36:26 (Amplified Bible)

A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

My old heart says, "I'm too tired."

My new heart says, "You make me lay down in green pastures.  You lead me beside the still and restful waters.

My old heart says, "I'm about to tell her off!"

My new heart says, "Pray for your enemies."

My old heart says, "I'm too deep in despair.  I can't go on.  I just want to die."

My new heart says, "You shall live and not die.  Though weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning.  The joy of the Lord is my strength."

My old heart says, "I can make my own decisions.  I don't need anyone else's help or advice."

My new heart says, "There's wisdom in council and that I should not and cannot forsake fellowship with my brothers and sisters in the Lord."

My old heart says, "I can get away with it.  God understands."

My new heart says, "Show me how to be Holy even as you are Holy, Lord."

My old heart says, "The way it is is the way it's always going to be."

My new heart says, "You know your plans for me, Daddy, to give me a future and a hope."




Real Men Remove Noodles

Real Men Remove Noodles
© 2008 Chantelle Henderson

"Husbands love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, to make her holy, cleansing her in the washing of the water by the Word." Esphesians 5:25-26

What does this scripture have to do with real men and noodles?  I'm glad you asked.  Let me tell you!  After my extremely relaxing week in North Carolina where I managed to get sicker and sicker with bronchitis, I came home still exhausted.  All I did there was slept and wrote a little bit.  I sat in quietness surrounded by trees, wind chimes, an outdoor fire, and nature in its fullness.  My days there were filled with several servings of hot tea with lemons and Mamma Rempfers scrambled eggs, along with some meal replacement shakes.  I didn't have an appetite for much of anything else.  I actually drove back home a day earlier because I knew I needed to get home in my own bed and start healing physically.  I drove straight up 85 South 6 and a half hours without stopping once.  I never knew driving at night could be so peaceful.  I loved it so much that I've decided that all future road trips will be taken overnight.  As I pulled in my driveway at four am hacking, coughing and physically exhausted, I was greeted by one Mr. Ryan Henderson in shorts, dress shoes a t shirt and his robe.what a funny sight that was!  Ha!  His first words to me were,"I love you.  I missed you.  I'm so glad my baby's back home."  He held on tight for dear life as we stood there in the driveway clinging to one another under the stars.  It was one of those romantic movie-like scenes.  The moment was completely interrupted when I broke out into another coughing fit.  Somehow Ryan sensed my physical weakness and immediately ordered me to bed.  He set up the Vicks humidifier, the Mucinex DM, and hot tea and lemon on my nightstand.  Keep in mind, the man had to get up at 6:30 to get ready for work.  He asked if I needed anything else and by that time I was drifting off to sleep.  I woke up Saturday in worse condition.  I could barely even walk.  I'm sure I was a sight to behold as I entered in to the carpet of Kaiser's urgent care center.  I had on the same thing I wore to bed.  It was a flannel pair of Nick & Nora babushka pajama bottoms, pink houseslippers, and a t-shirt with a box in my puffs plus.  My hair was disheveled and I'm sure folks were wondering if I meant to go to the local rehab center instead of the urgent care center for the physically ill.  I did not care.  I felt fortunate to have been able to get out of bed and muster the strength to get in a car and go.  I asked the kind lady at the desk how long the wait would be.  OH!!!  Let me interject here that if you are ever waiting in a waiting room of the doctor or a hospital (because I've been the front desk person), please always approach with a humble attitude without any demands , frustration, or attitude.  It's much less irritating to the person trying to control the patient flow and actually encourages them to try and get you back quicker, rather than at a snail's pace.Okexcuse me while I carefully step down and try not to trip on the soap box steps while coming down.  When I asked her about the wait time, she replied that it would be at least an hour.

Let me explain to you right now that my husband is the hardest working man I know.  He does whatever is necessary to be a man of integrity and his reputation precedes him.  I am truly honored to be his wife.  Saturdays and Sundays are his "chill" days and I'm sure the last thing he wanted to do was sit with me for an hour or more coughing, blowing mucus out my nose and sweating.  But he acted like he would not want to be anywhere else.  He pulled me close to him, told me to lay my head on his shoulders and just rest.  He kept asking if I needed anything and eventually admitted that he was hungry and wanted to go to Chick If Lay and pick something up.  He recommended that I get a bowl of their chicken noodle soup. I declined because of this low carb eating program I've been on since November.  He says, "I tell you what.  Why don't I get the soup for you and just take out the noodles."  Too tired to go back and forth with him on the matter I agreed.  He was gone for a bit and returned with bags and drinks in hand.  He even got me a cup of hot water with five slices of lemon
..AHHHHHHHHHHH.  True to his word he pulled out the soup and began to remove one noodle at a time.  I know it sounds corny but that very moment in our marriage will always be one of my most memorable.  It immediately brought to mind the scripture found in Ephesians 5 that I referenced at the beginning of this blog.  It commands husbands to love his wife as Christ loves the church and give Himself for her.  Here he was on his day off, choosing to sit with me in a wiating room and picking the noodles out my soup.  I looked into his beautiful green eyes and said, "WOW!.  Thank you honey."  He reached over, cupped my cheek in his hand and said, "Anything for you booooooks.Anything."  (Boooooks is his nick name for me).  To him it was no big deal at all.  To me it was him loving me, His Bride, as Christ does His church.  He saw beyond my germs, outer appearance, and weakness and he chose to be my covering and my protector.  Ryan always takes his Bible with him so once we got to a room and waited for the doctor, we sat toghether reading Psalms and Proverbs together.  He was washing me with the water of the word which is the best medicine of all.  The doctor came in and gave me a diagnosis of bronchities and Ryan asked more questions than I did.  He spoke for me when I couldn't speak for myself.  Once we were done the doctor sent my perscriptions to the pharmacy.  When we arrived there were probably ten people waiting in front of us.  I told Ryan to go and sit down while I waited, and he wasn't going to have it.  He insisted that he stand there in my stead and that I go and sit.  I can go on and on about all the things he did for me that day.  Once we arrived home, he drew me a bath and tucked me into bed.  He said to call him if I needed anything.  Lord knows I must have called him for hot water and other comfort items at least a million times.  Not once did I sense a hint of frustration or that I was being a burden to him.  He was truly laying His life down for me that day putting his own wants and desires aside to minister to me in my time of illness.  God, I love this man.  How blessed I am to say that I have found the 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 love.  So what does this all boil down to.  Simply this.  I'm sure all of you have heard the term or seen the bumper sticker that says, "REAL MEN LOVE JESUS".  Well, now I think I've found my own.  "REAL MEN REMOVE NOODLES".  To me they both say the same thing.  :o)

Love and Peace

Tears In A Bottle

Tears In A Bottle
© 2008 Chantelle Henderson

Psalm 56:8 (New Living Translation)
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

WOW! Just when you think life is butter, you find out there's more churning to do. First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who emailed or posted comments regarding my last blog about being a bi-polar Christian. Your outpouring of love and support and prayers have amazed me beyond belief! So thank you so very very much.

The reason that I titled this message tears in a bottle is because over the last two days some events have unraveled that I never thought possible and the tears keep coming like a waterfall. And NO….IT'S NOT DEPRESSION :o)

Isn't it funny how sometimes you've struggled with something or someone for so long that letting go of that thing or person is inevitable? When it's someone you've known all your life and theirs, someone that you have a bond with like no other, and yet, you finally get to the point where you have to let go, for the peace of the other person and for yourself as well. I'm not just talking about an acquaintance or close friendship. I'm talking about a person who sticks closer than a brother, or that person you would lay your life down for – like a sister, a brother, a child, a parent – that kind of bond.

Oh….it would be so much easier for me to ignore the unhealthy situation and let things remain the same, but there's no growth in that for either one of us. It's a place called stuck and I personally don't like being there, much less building a tent and calling it home for a while. Last night and for the most part of today I have been sobbing. Pouring out my heart like water before the Lord on behalf of this situation – part of the tears from the aching pain in my heart of knowing I must let go, and part from the fact that it's come to what it has.

God gives us people, family, friends, etc. and I've always been told that the relationships (especially family – kids, wives, husbands) are God's gift to us, and what we do with those relationships is our gift back to Him. In realizing that every good and perfect gift comes from Him, we must also know that at any given moment, we may have to sacrifice by giving it back to Daddy. It's almost like Abraham and Isaac.

"After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here am I.' He said, 'Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you'." (Genesis 22:1-2)

If you think about Abraham and Isaac, you are talking ultimate obedience and sacrifice! Notice that He emphasized, "take your son, YOUR ONLY SON, whom you love". Not only can we see the magnitude of Abraham's sacrifice in his obedience to what God commanded him to do, but we also see the depth of his love for Isaac. As most of you know, Abraham did not have to go through with sacrificing his son. It was his choice to obey. But, because He was able to hear and discern the voice of His Heavenly Father he did not have to go through with it.

In this "letting go" of a relationship, it's much like Abraham and Isaac. He's emphasizing to me to take this person, this person who ONLY fills this place in my life, whom I love greatly, and offer them up to Him. And so that's where I am. Am I hoping that at the last minute an angel of the Lord will speak to me and tell me not to do it – that I don't have to go through with it? (Genesis 22:9-12). You better believe it! But it is by faith, and faith only, as was the case with Abraham, that for the first time in a very long I've really had to lay someone on the altar and "leave the results" up to God. I love this person so very much and were it not for the grace of God, I surely would not be able to do it. I must take comfort in knowing that He knows what He's doing, as well as the whys and the whens.

He has been the Sustainer of my soul – my Umbrella if you will, as the rains and thunderstorms of decisions that have had to be made poured down like buckets all at once. It's all happened so fast, but if I look back, He's been preparing my heart for such a time as this. I commit this person, this situation into His care because He does know the end from the beginning and there's nowhere that I or this other person can go that the Spirit of the Most High God, our Heavenly Daddy, Our Hope and Peace, cannot go with us.

I'm learning that I may never know why to some of life's hardest choices. I have to know and believe in my heart, by faith, that the God we serve is mighty and all knowing and that there is no thing or person that I will "sacrifice" were it not for His leading. It's in the comfort of obedience that I can enter into His rest over the situation.

Ironically, it's amazing that once the decision has been made, no matter how difficult, it's a relief. Finally, we can boil things down to some definites and pick up the pieces of what once was and begin to move on. No matter what, I do know that the shattering and aching of my broken heart will heal and that better days are ahead, but until I actually "feel" it, I will remain in my Daddy's loving arms, My Rock, My Shield, My Keeper, My Waymaker. Until the tears stop flowing, I take great comfort in His word that He knows all my sorrow and that He is collecting each and every tear – both now and in the future - in a bottle. And maybe, just maybe, one day, He will use the tears in that bottle to provide a river of healing for both of us to swim in.


Beautifully Broken

 ©2007, Chantelle Thomas-Henderson

Writing for me has always been a healing thing to do; something that gives me an outlet to express what my words often cannot. 

Many of you don’t know me personally and therefore wouldn’t know that I don’t care to talk on the phone.  It's one of my least favorite things to do.  But give me a pen and paper or a keyboard and monitor and my heart will open up to you in ways that I nor you thought possible.  You may see me writing blogs endlessly in the upcoming days and weeks.  So read and be blessed or bored  whichever one seems most applicable in your case.

Many of you have been wondering where I've been.  Suffice it to say, I've been in the garden.  Let me explain to you what I mean when I say that.  In Mark 14:32-42 (bottom of this blog) we see a picture of Jesus at a pivotal point in His Ministry.  It's Jesus in the Garden Of Gethsemane.  Let me preface all this by saying I'm not Jesus and I don't claim to suffer even close to what He suffered for us.  However, He is my King and my Lord and He is our example for living  those of us who have chosen to accept Him.  That being said, I'll continue on.  The last week's events should have come as no great surprise for me, as I'd been studying this passage for the past 2 weeks.  It was like the Lord wanted me to dissect it and discover all I could.  It beckoned to me daily and rang in my ear like a sweet melody.  I tried my best to listen~to dig~to dance to every word in the passage not even realizing that it would serve as my encouragement in my own "Garden of Gethsemane" experience.  I'm not ready to give a lot of detail as to what drove me there.  I can say that I know I will come out on the other end of this thing, a healed and whole Child of The Most High God. 

If you look at one of the definitions of Garden Of Gethsemane it is defined as "a place or occasion of great mental or spiritual suffering".  It was a place that Jesus had to go to BEFORE He was crucified.  It's so easy to talk about crucifying our flesh, but do we really?  How foolish I've been to think I could crucify the flesh without passing through the garden FIRST!  If you look at where the garden was, it was an Olive grove.  Olive groves are a place of pressing  a place where the pressing of the olives bring forth oil.  Do you see where I'm going?  

I should have known a garden experience was coming because I was being pressed and crushed for weeks.  All I had to hold on to were the words of my Father and the faithful prayers of a few warrior princesses & my husband who I knew I could count on to intercede on my behalf.  I kept asking the Father to remove the cup of suffering that I’d been enduring so that should have been indicative that I was in the garden already, or at the very least, close to it. 

In Mark 14:32-42 Jesus said the same prayer over and over.  He would pray, check on the disciples, find disappointment, give correction and pray again. Then He would get up, go check on them a second time, get frustrated, and even gives them a mini-sermon reminding them that the “spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”  Then, a final and third time, He finds them sleeping yet again.  Can you imagine how He must have felt? He’s begging God to let this cup of suffering pass from Him and yet He knows that it is His life’s mission. It’s a piece of the puzzle that must be put in place for completion of the entire picture.  (That’s a different blog altogether) While He’s in the fight of His life, His inner circle peeps are counting sheep and catching Zzzzzz’s. So the next time you are in a crisis, perhaps the biggest one of your entire life and your closest friends or family are nowhere to be found remember that our own beloved Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in His greatest time of need, was let down by man.

I digress.  I'm just now starting to deal with issues that have plagued me for many, many years.  In the past I've just kept going  filling the void with any amount of things I would hide behind.  When I was younger, it was drugs and alcohol.  In my adult years it's been buying things, staying busy, doing ministry things.  I know………I know.  I hate to shatter your image of me, but I'm too tired to try to impress anyone right now.  I don't care about appearing "together" anymore. 

The truth of the matter is that I am broken.  Utterly broken and bare, before you and God.  I'm human and just like anyone else, have obstacles to overcome and giants to fight in my life.  Out of desperation I have cried out to the Lord much, much more than three times.  Now that I've put aside the things that I chose to use as substitutes for His grace (something, anything to fill the void and the hurt places), something broke.  Something changed and I'm learning to tap into that grace He's been trying to give me that I chose not to accept in the past.  This time, when I cried out, I realized that my situation was much like Paul's thorn in the flesh.  It's not going away this time and it's time to confront it  in and by His grace.  He also cried out three times to the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh and the Lord responded to him by saying MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU.  And so He says to us.  We've been crying out to the Lord to remove our pain and our suffering.  Remove the memories and the heartache.  Remove this cup…..ah, but at last His response to us is MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU.  Do I feel it yet?  Not so much.  Do I welcome it (the experience that causes this pain I'm feeling) with open arms?  Uh, NO!  If I'm lyin' I'm dyin'.  Do I wish it away?  Yep.  But He says to me, MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT.  So what is left for me to do?  Trust Him.  Take Him at His word.  Believe that if He's telling me that His grace is sufficient, that gives me hope that I will make it through this place of growth and pressing and suffering.

Isn't it amazing how we can see the dynamics of Jesus' relationship to his disciples and then His inner circle?  I must admit that I have made jokes in the past about the whole "inner circle" thing, thinking that it almost had a negative connotation like a clique or something of that nature.  But now I've realized the significance and necessity of having an inner circle.  I have friends, acquaintances, and then there are three women that I consider to be my inner circle.  Actually one is a spiritual mother to me.  Then there's my best friend of 13 years and my sister.  Now it was one thing for me to say to my friends (or even those I would consider close friends) and acquaintances that I was having a rough time and to pray, but then there were the three that the closer I saw that I was getting to my garden, I had to take with me and say, "Pray for me.  Just stay here and keep watch with me."  They did everything humanly possible they could do, but there comes a time when it just HAD to be me and my Heavenly Daddy.  I couldn't call anyone on the phone or email anyone to go with me. 

May I interject here that there does come a point in your life when you will have your own garden that no human can go with you and it can ONLY be you and Him?  No human being, no matter how close they are, will be able to accompany you into your own Garden Of Gethsemane.  This last week was my place of pressing.  The place where I could no longer hide my emotional or spiritual nakedness.  There I knelt bear in my suffering, begging for the Father to take the cup away, but resolved in the fact that it would no longer be my will, but His and His alone.  Another thing that ministered to me so powerfully about this passage is Judas and Peter.  Jesus KNEW that one would deny Him and one would ultimately turn Him over to those that would kill Him  yet He loved them anyway.  He even took one of them to the garden with Him, Peter.  Granted, none of my three girls did not do either one of these things, but another friend did once I began opening up and I knew it was going to happen beforehand.  For months I knew that person would eventually betray me in some way, but I knew that in order to do what the Lord has called me to do, I will have my Judas' and my Peters.  Just as in the passage, no sooner had I gotten up from praying had my Judas arrived.  Did it come in the form of being handed over for murder to an enemy?  No.  But it manifested itself in the betrayal of a confidence.  How many times have we heard the following scripture quoted

Philippians 3:10-11 (Amplified)

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].

How easily it comes to quote scripture and say what you want to do or would do if given the chance?  It sounds so spiritual to say that we want to know Him.  That we want to become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him.  We're real good until we get to the part about sharing in His sufferings.  Everyone and anyone wants to know you in the power of your resurrection state, but what about the fellowship of your sufferings?  While passing through this earthly realm, keeping our eyes on the prize of the high calling, we will have plenty of things, situations, circumstances, and people that will afford us the ability to know Him in the fellowship of His suffering.  But will we recognize it as such?  Will we resent it?  Will we embrace it?

I was listening to Bishop T.D. Jakes talk about this subject (Jesus and the Garden) and he mentions something that I can say “AMEN!” to all day long.  He said [I’m paraphrasing] that the garden is a difficult place to be, because it's the middle and it's a place of uncertainty.  You know what's behind you because you've already been through it.  You know what's ahead of you because the Bible says we win because of Christ.  But the garden, it's the place where you are in the middle.  And many times we don't even see it coming.  That's where I was last week and to some degree still am.  I know what's behind me.  And I know that I win.  Where I am now though is the middle.  I'm tired and I'm spent.  He also says that the funny thing about the garden is that it's a beautiful place.  When we think of gardens we think of a place of beauty and butterflies, color, and glorious splendor.  Bishop Jakes said, "Isn't it amazing to have such an ugly problem in such a beautiful place?"  When you look at my life – when I look at my life, I've got so much to be thankful for.  An amazing husband, two beautiful, flourishing boys, all who love the Lord.  I have a great job, friends, and the best parents in the world.  Yet I have this ugly problem that I have to confront in the midst of a beautiful garden with the aforementioned blessings in my life. 

As I was just typing this the Lord just spoke to my heart and said, "Chantelle, the garden is also a place where things grow."  So that is something else I need to recognize about the garden experience.  It is a place where things grow.  May I not despise it!  And may you not despise your own garden.  Right now we're in the middle.  But WE WIN!!!  I win. You win.  We're in it now, but there will come a time that we'll be on the other side of this thing and can help someone else through the experience of theirs. 

I could go a while on this subject, but I will stop for now.  My blogging is serving a twofold purpose.  For me  it's a way of getting out my thoughts and putting what I'm feeling to paper.  And for you  even if it’s just one person  a word of encouragement to let you know that no matter where you find yourself, be it in the garden, or the crucifixion, or the state of resurrection where everything is glorious, when all is said and done while we are on the journey, WE WIN

I love the following passage in The Message Version of the Bible and it articulates beautifully my heart's cry in this season….

Phil 3:12-14 (The Message)

12-14I'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. 
Mark 14:32-42 (New Living Translation)

32 They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, "Sit here while I go and pray." 

33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 

34 He told them, "My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." 

35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 

36 "Abba, Father," he cried out, "everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine."

37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Couldn't you watch with me even one hour? 

38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak." 

39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn't keep their eyes open. And they didn't know what to say. 

41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, "Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Up, let's be going. Look, my betrayer is here!"