Saturday, December 30, 2017

Chapter 2017

© 2017 Chantelle Henderson

What a year! 
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. These nine (thanks to #topnine2017) add up to be so many more-countless. Each of these are paragraphs of Chapters from the book of 2017 of my life. 
These aren’t just pictures.  Each one tells a story that describe the vicissitudes of a life marked by unwanted endings and welcomed beginnings. You see, captured in these remarkable and sometimes heartbreaking masterpieces are stories that reveal a daughter losing her earthly father and hero only 3 months prior to 2017.  She was grief-stricken and there was no escaping the worst pain and world-shattering seasons of her 46 year life.   There is the photograph that makes my heart smile because a bond grew stronger and stronger that took my mother from being just my mom to being one of my very best friends.  Among these 9 photos is proof of the fruit of an entirely new season of life and marriage as our youngest son left for college.  We found ourselves being empty nesters for the first time in 20 years.  Strangely enough, as for that whole empty nester deal, we are having a blast-more fun now than ever!  One snapshot captures a marked history of brokenness, hurt, pain, and anguish to a miraculous reconciliation of things I thought would always remain broken, never to be whole again.  It’s proof that with an open and forgiving heart, and communication with honor and respect, anything is possible.  One photo represents me doing things I never saw myself doing in great and amazing ways, but that same photo is also one of humility and discovering characteristics about myself and getting honest about some issues and conditions of my heart that I needed to confront.  I faced some not-so-good obstacles that if I was willing to compromise by even one little inch, it would have catapulted me into a million miles in the wrong direction.  One of my favorites is the black and white in the top middle.  It speaks volumes of a tired and worn out woman who has had enough.  She is tired.  She is restless.  She has nothing left to give.  Her well was empty.  There were days she felt like giving up and checking out because reality was often too much to bear.  But that same woman survived and overcame.  She didn’t give up and she discovered more than ever that the possibilities were endless and that with Jesus, coffee, her Bible, a pen, and paper you're never too old to begin again, start fresh, dream, and walk in your purpose.
2018 IS GOING TO BE DIFFERENT. 
I am determined to know Him and make Him known. I know I will fall short and have to reach out for His amazing grace which He so quickly bestows upon me simply because I am His-a child of God, a daughter of the King. 
My “word” for 2018 is “ABIDE”- to rest in His word and promises found in it. It means so much more than just resting, but resting in Him-obtaining that soul rest that can only be found by leaning into and wholly trusting Him. It means that no matter what, I am kept and can be found under the shadow of His wings. It means being patient with others and myself as I learn to trust that He’s always been faithful and that will never change. It means that I must recognize and acknowledge and accept that He is a jealous God who will have no other Gods before Him and that all other idols in my life must be shattered and reduced to dust. It means remaining still and knowing that He is God, and that when He says, “Go.” it is then that perhaps and specifically abiding must take place, lest I fall into my own understanding which has proven time and again to be a lying vanity and provides a temporal and false comfort that I may as well count as loss. It means being steadfast and immovable as He prunes and molds and shapes me to be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend-even in the discomfort and pain at times that accompanies the process. 
Lastly, I wanted to share these memories with you because it served as a reminder that sometimes when you thought you were losing something, you were actually being rescued. Count it all joy when you face various trials and tribulations; both which I found to be ever present in 2017. I re-gained eternal perspective when I realized that I never want to lose myself-my soul trying to gain worldly success and the approval of man. Those things are of no eternal value and are fleeting. 
I am praying for every one of you to have a blessed, prosperous, healthy, exciting, loving, and joy-filled 2018, spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, and socially. 
All my love, CH

John 15:5
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”


Friday, December 22, 2017

Shipwrecked

©2017 Chantelle Henderson

Before you read the excerpt from “How To Survive A Shipwreck” by Jonathan Martin, I wanted to share my personal thoughts on it; not just my thoughts but my heart.  The words from the book brought me comfort and peace many times after my father’s homegoing in September of 2016 - too many times to count.  I would (and still do) just close my eyes and look at the word picture the author painted.
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This is my own commentary and what came to me personally.  Your journey may look a little different although I think there are some truths in here that would apply to us all who grieve:
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During our grief journeys we face the truths of this excerpt from “How To Survive A Shipwreck.  If we grieve, we have indeed paid a very high and precious price of grief in exchange for our tears, groaning, wailing, yearning, longing, begging, praying, and pleading for things to be different; for things to be the way they were before the enormous, life altering, earth shattering storm that made us feel like all hope was lost. The cost can feel too high to pay time and time again, but we have to pay it nonetheless because life didn’t give us a choice. It offered us no chance of sparing immeasurable pain and grief. We cannot un-ring the bells of loss that shattered our heart into what feels like a million pieces. That person, that relationship, seeing our dreams and hopes for the marriage that fell apart-that miscarriage or abortion, the infidelity or abuse, the cancer, being blindsided by the unexpected death of a loved one...it all comes at a cost to our being, even at times feeling like our very soul. Life as we know it no longer exists. It will never be the same again. The part that drives many of us to anger is that it all happened completely and utterly against all and any will we possessed. No matter how much we are overtaken by the harsh waves in the ocean of loss, we find a way to come back up for air and grasp for whatever it is that keeps us from drowning. We reach for pieces of the wreckage that almost took us under, never to return, to stay afloat. One thing is for certain. WE WILL make it back to shore. And it is there that our journey of grief will truly begin because we are no longer at the mercy of the storm. We survived it. Now the storm is at the mercy of us. ~ CTH

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How To Survive A Shipwreck
©2016 Jonathan Martin

“The first things overboard when your ship wrecked were all the reasons you ever had for sailing. And when the life you knew is a life you know no longer, and the ship that took you on a thousand adventures before can no longer even keep you afloat, you are right to wonder if there is anything left worth having.
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While the sails were ripping and the boards splitting, you heard the sound of your spirit dying. And then came what might be the worst discovery: You didn’t die — not really. You walked away from the accident.
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The experience of loss may have altered your taste buds forever. But it hardly killed them.
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You watched dreams you cradled in your arms with the strength of all your tenderness descend into the sea. All that animated you, all that moved you before, could move you forward in the world no longer. The water filled your mouth and your nostrils, and you choked at the taste of it. But when the grief or the guilt or the loss recedes into the night and your soul sets sail again, you still dream — despite yourself.
~
In whatever remains in you that wants to create, to make, to birth something new, in whatever corner that longs for some kind of resurrection on the other side of death, something divine quietly snaps, fires, clicks, flickers. This ache is God’s fingerprint.  This is the liberating, terrifying discovery of life on the other side of the shipwreck. That while you are a creature — humble, dependent, small, in need of love and food and Shelter — you didn’t need anything else as much as you thought you did. That the things you knew would kill you don’t actually kill you. That the fire in you the sea should have drowned out, burns within you yet, if you do not let yourself smother it (and maybe even if you do). So much of the world you have known is no more. But if there is any truth in any of this at all, the shipwreck that threatened to destroy you utterly may be the thing that saves you yet. It may not drown you; it may transfigure you.”


Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Persistence Of M

©2017 Chantelle Henderson
I think some of you will pass out because this isn’t an essay.  I believe it’s probably going to be the shortest post I’ve ever written but the message is so powerful it needs to be shared.

Ok, so I'll TRY to make this quick.

This is for anyone who invites people to church & it seems like the person is just like, "Yeah, whatever".

Let me tell you a story.

That was me for the past 7 months. Long story short, before I lost my job of almost and only 3 months one of the managers would come to me, usually on Fridays, every week like clockwork and ever so gently invited me and Ry to go to church with him. He wasn't pushy in the least bit, always gentle, and pure in spirit. Over time I shared some things that explained why I had no interest. Well, wouldn't you know that after I lost my job something told me to text him and JUST GO. So I texted the manager and said, "Okay. We'll just TRY IT OUT". With much hesitation and skepticism, we showed up. That was last week. I can undoubtedly recognize that it was the beginning of the Lord turning my stony heart into a heart of flesh. This week I couldn't wait! I went with great expectation and yes, even excitement. As I stood there hands lifted up, totally immersed and in awe of how HE worked it all out I wept tears of healing, restoration, grace, hope, joy, and love. I looked at my ex co-worker-now friend, with tears running down my face and whispered, "Thank You." I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that he never ever stopped reaching out to me.
Picture Taken Outside Our 1st Night There
I'm just saying all this for those of you who have been praying and inviting and reaching out to people with seemingly no response or someone responds with an "I'm not interested" attitude. Week after week for nearly 3 months my coworker gently nudged and encouraged me and was patient enough to respect that I wasn't ready and that I truthfully had no desire whatsoever. Now we love our church and are planning on joining when they hold their first membership class in late November. Keep inviting. Again, keep encouraging. Keep praying. Keep loving. Who knows, one day that person’s heart shifts and what seemed was a hopeless situation became a life-changing, eternal treasure.
Thank you M. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Made For Battle

© 2017 Chantelle Henderson

Women of God it’s time to rise up! We were made for battle! Don’t ever forget that the enemy wants you merely existing and not thriving in your calling. In fact the word says he desires to sift us as wheat. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy - Spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially, and in your relationships. We are meant for amazing things. He will use people, your jobs, and yes, even your seasons of blessings. He will use anything or anyone to bring you down in the areas above. But GREATER IS HE WHO IS IN YOU THAN HE WHO IS IN THE WORLD.
Use your tool, the word of God. Read as much or as little at a time. Don’t feel dumb or silly for it not making since at first. Ask the Lord to help you understand what you’re reading and I believe your heart, mind, body, and spirit will show you truth after truth. Again, all it takes is one good scripture to bring the enemy of our soul down. Then we have the power of prayer and speaking what HE says about us and our loved ones. The good news is that He - Father God shows up no matter where you are in life. He never ever, ever leaves us or forsakes us. When the enemy hears daughters of the King pray and sing praise and worship Him a shift occurs in the Heavenlies. Remember, one good scripture is all you need to take the enemy out!
If you’re stuck in a relationship, here’s a way to make it clear, “Be able to discern your Judas from your Peter. Peter had a bad day. Judas had a bad heart. Peter, you restore; Judas you release.” - Unknown. You May have to release some people but you are a warrior princess. You are a survivor. You were made for battle! And the truth is that you will probably have to release some folks because they cannot go where the Lord is taking you.
Lastly, don't forget to put on the full armor of God.  He's given you everything you will ever need to clothe yourself for battle.  He has given you everything you will ever need to be victorious.  I am putting two versions of Ephesians 6:10-17.  One is in the Amplified version of the Bible and the other is in the New Living translation.  It breaks it down for you and expands on what happens when you go to war against the enemy of your soul.  YOU WERE BORN TO WIN!  YOU ARE VICTORIOUS!  A MIGHTY WARRIOR!  YOU ARE A DAUGHTER OF DESTINY!  YOU WILL WIN!
New Living Translation
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Amplifed Version:
In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might.  Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news].  Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

***Art Work Credit Goes To IIse Kleyn***


Friday, March 3, 2017

Grief


©2017 Chantelle Henderson

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