Friday, June 15, 2018

Unforgettable: That's What He Is

© 2018 Chantelle Henderson
Well, I just forgot Father’s Day is this Sunday. After I got through with my Target Meltdown a couple weeks ago I thought I was okay. I’m going down my feed today and see pictures of girls with their dads and while it touched my heart, made me smile, and gave me joy, it was also a stern reminder that my own Daddy is not here with me. Right now I’m so full of grief I can’t stand it. Why isn’t he here? Why can’t I touch him, hug him, give him butterfly kisses, and sit with him in deep conversation? I know life isn’t fair (whatever that means) but it can be outright cruel at times. That’s my dad up there, not here. Long before I had a husband and two boys, I had a Daddy. He was the first and only man in my life until I became a wife and mother. He was not perfect, but I could not have asked for better. It hurts. It is an ocean of grief (AGAIN) and I feel like I’m beginning to drown just when I found my footing once more. I know I sound selfish right now, because I am. I want him HERE. The loss of a father, especially one like mine, is a weight unlike any other I’ve ever experienced. THIS is when I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death-a literal death, but yet and still I will fear not for He, our Heavenly Papa, is with me

I trust You, God-right here in the brokenness of heart and a wounded spirit. I know You will keep Your promise that You are close to me. In my DENIAL, You have given me grace and mercy. In my ANGER, You have quieted my soul and steadied my heart. In my BARGAINING, You have reassured me that You are more than enough. In my DEPRESSION You have comforted me and hold each tear I cry in a bottle. And in my ACCEPTANCE, You have given me peace that passes all natural understanding. Lord, thank you for being so gracious to loan Daddy to us on this side of eternity for 71 years, 3 months, and 22 days. I have to admit that “I’m just jealous of the angels around the throne tonight.” as the song goes. R.I.H. Daddy.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Reflection: Blooming In Reverse

© 2018 Chantelle Henderson

***I do not have the artist's name to credit the last photo in this blog.  If you know, please let me know so I can give credit to the wonderful artist.***

This afternoon I set out to journal but as I started to write I reflected with such a heavy weight all that has happened from childhood until now. Something propelled me to look at what my younger self would say to my older self. It’s usually the opposite; what my older self would say to my younger self, but not today. l was blessed with a princess-like upbringing as a little girl. We lived in a cul-de-sac with only 7 or 8 other houses. There were a bunch of us kids, all in the same ages and stages of life. As I continued putting pen to paper the little girl in me had several things to say to the grown woman I have evolved into (and still evolving). Our school days were not made of video games (except Atari), the internet, facebook, and other social media. We had no cell phones, and texting. I never remember my parents pulling their hair out trying to go to here and there to keep up with an impossible pace to do things that don’t matter. If they did they hid it very well. They were very present and involved in what we did. It was a much easier, and dare I say, a much slower era and uncomplicated time back then as far as us kids were concerned? I had amazing parents, incredible friends, and so many memories of exactly what childhood should be like. 

As kids, our life brimmed over with kick the can, red light-green light, kickball, baseball, mother may I, The Walton’s, The Lawrence Welk Show (which my parents made us watch), Little House On The Prairie, and The Brady Bunch. Now we have a whole reality show franchise based on Real Housewives of any given city and none of them are even married. Those shows now allow the use of GD 20 times in their 60 minute piece of broadcasting pie. We have commercials that sexualize something as simple as a candy bar. New movies in the theater back then were so exciting! We only had Star Wars or Super Man to choose from, not 50 Shades Of Grey or The Purge. The nearly extinct rated G meant G, not bordering on PG or even PG-13. And let’s not forget NC-17 which is another way of saying soft porn.

By the time I was finished writing, it was not lost on me that the days of my bopping around in pretty dresses, shiny shoes, ruffled socks, and long pigtails are long gone. My younger self challenged me to remember that I get to choose. I get to choose what movies and TV shows I watch, what books I read, what music I listen to, and how long I spend on social media. No one is forcing me to do any of it. It’s my free will that allows me to make those choices. The little girl in me thought her dad would be here forever, that she could always glance from the 2nd story window and watch her daddy do yard work on a hot summer’s day. She assumed her mama would curl her thick and unmanageable hair and take her make-up and clothes shopping her whole life. But as I grew older so did my daddy who passed away less than 2 years ago, and my mama has aged so beautifully and gracefully with a stunning smile and fine silver hair. 

There’s no official sabbatical announcement or declaration of no TV or social media this time. Just taking it day by day.

There is certainly a balance to be discovered and I have to find it. In the past I have lived a Iife free of cliutter, mess, and having too many appointments on the calendar that were of no eternal consequence. I do know that the most joyful and most fulfilling soul rest seasons throughout my life, both mentally and spiritually, were always and continue to be the direct result of surrendersing my will in exchange for His, on my knees in prayer, seeking His face and reading Heavenly Papa’s love letters to me (the Bible). The fruit of a surrendered life is steadiness of heart, quietness of soul, rest, peace, and taking life at a much slower pace. I have just enough wisdom to know that living life ONE. DAY. AT. A. TIME. is the beginning of the journey back to a child like faith. I am grateful that today the innocent child in me took time to remind the broken, hurt, fragile, and tired older me that I might need to adjust my DVR to reflect less “reality” and more game shows and documentaries. I’m not going to try and save the world by telling people I hardly know they can call me 24/7, and I will most definitely stop rushing to answer the phone when it rings. I will not immediately look at text messages when that familiar ding interrupts the quiet environment I’m creating or at the very least, trying to. I am, in fact, going to start utilizing the silent, do not disturb, and airplane mode features. I don’t have to check social media everyday; it’s not going anywhere if I do go off the grid whether it’s for a day, a month, or even a year. I’m pretty sure I’ll survive.

It all begins and ends with surrender. Once you’ve told Him, “Have Your way,”, He will guide, lead, and direct your path. Trust Him just as much during the storms as you would in the stillness of life. Close your eyes and envision a time that peace flooded your soul. It may be from childhood or from yesterday. It doesn’t matter. Whatever that thing or those things are, do more of it-a lot more. And if you don’t remember a time, ask the Lord to remind you of one. Life is too fleeting and short in light of eternity. Don’t spend another day doing things that don’t matter, that don’t add value to your quality of life, or are unhealthy for you spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically, or socially. He wants you free from all that’s holding you back. Give it a chance. Give HIM a chance. That’s coming from my 9 year old self (when I accepted the Lord as my Savior) and it’s coming from my 47 year old self. What have you got to lose, or better yet, think of all there is to gain.

Psalm 39:3-5
“My heart burned with a fire within me, and my thoughts eventually boiled over until they finally came rolling out of my mouth. “Lord, help me to know how fleeting my time on earth is. Help me to know how limited is my life and that I’m only here but for a moment more. What a brief time you’ve given me to live! Compared to you my lifetime is nothing at all! Nothing more than a puff of air, I’m gone so swiftly. So too are the grandest of men; they are nothing but a fleeting shadow!” Pause in his presence.”

Matthew 6:34

“Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Stupid Target! (Not What You Think)

© 2018 Chantelle Henderson

So yeah.  I was in Target, a.k.a. Purgatory, when I was browsing the isle headed to the register.  I look to my left and right there in big, bold letters was, “FATHER’S DAY JUNE 17TH”.  I quickly went to the next isle over because I remembered that I wanted to get my mom a “just because” card.  As I round the corner the entire damn end cap was filled with Father’s Day gifts and trinkets.  That’s where I saw this desk name plaque.  I began sobbing at the sight of it all.  Memories flooded my heart before I could catch my breath.  I just stood there crying and staring at this stupid plaque and then I felt foolish as I told myself to pull it together and put my big girl granny panties on.  The next thing I know Ry came around the corner and saw me.  He didn’t even ask what was wrong because he saw all the products yelling, “DAD!”.  He just stood there, hugged me tightly, let me cry, and got some tissues out of my purse and told me he was sorry.  He also noticed that I wasn’t staring at anything but this name plate.  “Get it.”, he says.  “What?  You don’t think it’s stupid?  I mean I can envision it on my desk with a picture of Daddy right behind it.”, I replied.  So, standing there, a blubbering idiot, I grabbed the plaque and placed it in the cart.  Then something strange happened.  My heart still felt like a boulder was wrapped around it.  I couldn’t figure out why until the notification popped up accompanied by a loud ding.  “20 DAD BIRTHDAY TOMORROW “.  (As in his birthday is tomorrow, Sunday, May 20).  I didn’t know if I was supposed to laugh or cry in that moment to be honest.  Turns out that the pop up popping up demanded more tears and more releasing the pain in the stupid Target isle!  I came completely unglued. 

I really miss him.  Never imagined life without him.  Everywhere I look I see him, his smile, hear his voice and laughter.  I keep thinking 1 year and 6 months I’d be further along on this grief journey, but in the depths of my soul I know I will be on this journey for as long as he is no longer existing with me on this side of eternity and until I see him again.  The bottom line is that I cannot, nor do I want to stop grieving.  It’s the price I pay for having an amazing Daddy.  It’s the price I pay for the love shared between us.  It’s the price I pay for every memory of being sheltered and protected fiercely by a man of honor, integrity, grace, acceptance, humility, and unimaginable love. 

He was not a perfect man.  But like us all, he was a sinner saved by grace.  His life was no different than the next person.  He had his thorn in the flesh.  But dad also lived in the ocean of God’s amazing grace.  He, Papa God, promises us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 

In closing, with tears welling up in my eyes, but thanksgiving on my lips I am encouraged in the knowledge that for those of us who grieve there is no pressure to “get it right” because there is no wrong or right when grief presents itself. 
Sometimes the grief is a raging storm that makes us feel tossed to and fro and at other times it is standing on the beach with toes in the sand, eyes closed, and head lifted up while the breeze blows your hair gently in the wind.  Just like seasons, times, and the weather we don’t have a say.  God doesn’t consult us or seek permission when the sun is supposed to be shining and 79° with a 0% chance of rain and what occurs is actually an unforeseen hail storm with a record setting low temperature for that particular day.  You were prepared for the sun-filled, zero rain, let’s-go-to-the-park kinda day but instead you’re standing in the aftermath of a horrible tornado that left irreversible damage.  So, on the days you feel stupid or inadequate or not strong because you are engulfed in grief, remember that no matter how much hope you put in the possibility of a sunny day, when a storm happens instead it is still beyond your control and all you can do is ride it out.  No matter what, may we feel blessed in spite of our grief.  Why?  Because for many people they had no dad.  They don’t have someone to miss. They don’t get the, “BEST. DAD. EVER.” plaque.  Yours’s may be BEST MOM EVER, BEST SISTER EVER, BEST CHILD EVER, BEST SURVIVOR EVER.  You get the picture.  We are blessed because we had something or someone to have grieved with the same measure to which we loved. 

By the way, I started writing this last night.  It’s officially daddy’s Birthday, May 20th.  Happy 2nd Birthday in Heaven.  I endlessly love you to infinity and beyond.