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 for our 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.
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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.”