Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fresh Cut Grass

Greetings to all. I do not even know where to start this morning. My heart is so cluttered with emotions that it is difficult to sort them all out because it is almost that they bleed into each other. When I asked myself, “What are you feeling today?” Nothing comes up, but that is not the case at all. The truth is I am feeling so much that I find myself just staring off into space wondering when this will all end.

We had a little get away weekend with the family this past weekend and it was nice to not be in the house but as we drove home yesterday afternoon Ali and I got into a “discussion.” It was not a fight, because it is a “discussion” that we have had numerous times over the course of our courtship and marriage, and it usually ends the same way ever time, her sad, me aggravated, but not with each other per say.

I had not cut the grass in over a week and my yard was starting to look like a hay field, so I decided to cut the grass when we got home. Cutting the grass is also a defense mechanism of mine, just to let you in a little secret about Charlie. Being an only child, a boy, and the “man” of the house when I was a kid one of my only duties was to cut the grass. We had this big Magnolia tree in our front yard, which by the way in my opinion Magnolia trees are from the devil because their leaves are so big and thick you cannot cut them with a lawn mower because they are still everywhere in the yard after being cut. Anyway, I used to rack the yard before cutting it, that way I did not have chopped up Magnolia leaves everywhere. Then I would cut the grass, edge the driveway and sidewalks and then sweep up. If I was really feeling dysfunctional I would weed the flowerbed or just completely dig it up, because I was going to “plant a new one.” Why are you telling me your grass cutting techniques, you might be asking yourself? Well, its because when I was a kid, the yard was the only thing I could control. I could not control my parents, I could not control my mother’s drinking, I could not control the creditors calling the house, but I could control the yard. There was an added bonus, it made everything on the outside look nice, symbolic? Completely!

Even to this day when my heart, my family, or my life feels out of control I will cut my grass. When I get finished I will sit in my backyard and look down the lines that I cut and relish in the beauty of order. The order of the lines that I made back and forth as I lined up the wheels of the lawn mower just right. Yesterday I had a little curve to my cutting technique which made me feel like I had some dimension, almost like a hill, in my backyard. After relishing in the fictitious order of my life for a while I went inside where Ali was in the process of bathing the kids. She was pulling them out of the tub and so I sat on the floor and dried there little bodies off and put them in their night clothes. They scurried off down stairs for their night time snack and Ali and I chatted up stairs for a minute while she folded clothes and put them away. She began to share about how overwhelmed she was with school starting this week and being the teacher who people felt the need to tata, for all you non-Louisianans "tata" means to comfort, or people who felt the need to compare some loss in their life to what we are going through. She just wept hard in my arms as I held her. We finished up our conversation and I went downstairs to find the kids contently watching their night time movie so I walked out backdoor and sat on the back step, where I do most of my thinking. I began crying because my heart was so heavy for my wife and kids, my shoulders are tired from bearing as much as I can of their load, but in that moment I prayed that I could take more and at the same time I prayed that God could begin to alleviate some of this heartache. I know that He will, but right now it is just so difficult. In the middle of my crying and praying, Dude swings open the backdoor and puts his arms around my neck and kisses me. He looked at me and asked, Dad, why are you crying? I told him that, “I just miss Cate, buddy” a phrase that they use often. Ella was not far behind him they both came and wrapped their little arms around my neck and hugged me as I cried and then Ella got in Dude’s way so he slapped her in the face and my prayer time was over and I had to then play daddy Doctor.

It is difficult times in the Cantrell house right now, for everyone. Your words of support are encouraging and your prayer is needed. If it looks like at times we are doing so well, it is only because our grass has just been cut if you know what I mean. So, please as I know you are, remain with us. I ask specifically that you pray for Ali as she begins this new school year. I ask that you pray for Ella as she begins Pre-K this year at her new school. I ask that you pray for Dude that as he starts his new school year, without Cate or Ella that it be a good one for him. Finally I ask that you pray for me, that I have the strength and wisdom to continue to carry and guide my family through this difficult time and not just have freshly cut grass. Much Love, The Cantrells

I had to come back and tell you all that after I wrote this blog I opened my facebook account and I kid you not this bible verse was in my inbox, coincidence, I think not!

He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. ... You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'" (2 Chronicles 20:15,17)


they call me the boss said...

Still praying for you all. My husband has the same love of grass cutting and I understand it a little more now.

Ramsey Days said...

I check your blog often, and think of your family several times during the day.

Know that there are so many prayers out there for you all - and many people thinking of your wonderful family.

Lila Lambert said...

WOW, how awesome is God to send you those words just when you needed to hear from Him...I am continuing to pray for each of you in a special way as you get back to the "business" of life...I don't know what else to do, but pray for all of you unceasingly. I feel so inadequate, but at the same time I know He is our All...

Anonymous said...

We continue to pray for your precious family. The Burroff's

johnrayperkins.com said...

Psalm 34:19

I ran across this Psalm yesterday at the Scrap Yard, as I was selling some old copper wire. Of all places to find God. It made me think of ya'll and of course I said a prayer for ya'll. That's why I called you yesterday, you've just been on my heart. I love you and your little family bro.

John Ray

Anonymous said...

We're still with you. Thank you for continuing to pour your heart out so that we know specifically how to pray.


Crystal said...

Funny you write about cutting grass. I actually passed yesterday while you were cutting grass. I had went to the grocery store. I could tell you had alot on your mind, so I prayed hard for God to keep you and your family safe and ease whatever your mind was worrying about. God Bless you and your family

God Bless
Crystal Judice

Anonymous said...

You are such an amazing writer and your symbolism never ceases to amaze me. I am so glad you are still blogging because somehow your words ALWAYS seem to fit in my life and be what I need to hear at that moment in time. Thank you God! I will pray for you Charlie that you have the strength to keep going. I will pray for Ali as the start of school approaches....may she get some sweet students! I will pray for Ella & Dude, that they be comforted during this time of adjustment. I pray that this time pass quickly and painlessly. Hold each other tightly during this journey. I am forever thankfu that you have been put into my life. Bless Baby Cate :)

Katie :)

Anonymous said...

What beautiful words! You guys will continue to be in my family's prayers. When I ask my kids who they want to pray for, they always say "Baby Cate's family." We're still with ya'll.

Anonymous said...

From one teacher to another - prayers for Ali. Prayers for the little ones, and prayers for you, Charlie. I'm the grass cutter in our family. No one bothers you when you're cutting grass.


christam said...

my heart aches just reading what y'all are going through. in the face of pain and loss, to see the faith and belief in another young family gives me hope for the world. i will pray for y'all with fervor. it is particularly neat to find someone else with my control driven lawn care "need."

maureen said...

my favorite line:
"They both came and wrapped their little arms around my neck and hugged me as I cried and then Ella got in Dude’s way so he slapped her in the face and my prayer time was over."

Anonymous said...

Now I think I understand Tommy more. Although his worries can't compare to yours....I always am amazed at how he seems to get "lost" in it. I kid you not...if you ever see a crazy man with a mower and weedeater at any of the busy Lafayette intersections where there is a grassy area...it is Tommy. He now mows....weeds and whatever else gardiners do for several homes on our street...picking up litter or whatever else is carelessly discarded by drivers in the process. He has often said it is his therapy and, having a similar past as you Charlie....maybe it is his way of controlling, also. Thanks for helping me to understand him a little more today.

I still am praying for you daily and, having never lost a child....I can't relate to your gut wrenching grief - I've only heard it described.

This has been a summer of tragedies and illness for so many of our friends. We just heard today of the father of one of Taylor's friends who died yesterday...so sad...and here we sit - feeling helpless but for prayer.

I want you to know that since Cate went in the hospital earlier in the summer I began praying in a different way...more sacrificial prayer and lots of visual prayer. Since her death I have established a little prayer area in our bedroom with the Blessed Mother as my focus. I've often envied those who claim to have such a devotion to her and I just never could feel it. I wouldn't say that I "feel" it just yet but I'm feeling "drawn"...and I know that God is working in this particular way in my life. Each day I sit, light a candle at the base of my Mary statue and just stare at her and visually offer all my intentions but especially you all to her. I know that my little prayer may be simple but I totally trust that she and her son will do "seemingly simple...yet mighty" things for you, Ali and the kids.

I know that Ali's first few days at work will be difficult - I will be praying especially for God to grace her with resiliency, strength, and the beauty of distraction, which she might need right now. I'll pray for the kids as well....getting into a school routine and meeting new friends will be good for them. And as for you, my friend, I pray that the grass continues to grow...allowing you this time to focus on Him....to escape...to pray...and yes, even to enjoy a small amount of control. I also pray that God allows you to continue to pour out your heart because getting all the "crap" out only makes more room for His love.

Reading your words...no one could ever doubt your love and devotion to your family - God will see you through this, Charlie...He's guiding you right now and you're going to be the better for it - that's the way He rolls. I love you.
Jane W

Anonymous said...

Our prayers continue for you and your family. The road you walk is a difficult one, but with God as your guide it is possible. God had a wonderful plan for all of you. He will never desert you and neither will we.
God Bless.....Batavia, IL

Anonymous said...

Our prayers continue for you and your family. The road you walk is a difficult one, but with God as your guide it is possible. God had a wonderful plan for all of you. He will never desert you and neither will we.
God Bless.....Batavia, IL

Anonymous said...

I too love to cut grass to escape. I didn't *learn* to cut grass until I was 36 years old. Being a woman I never needed too, my Dad, my brother, my husband always cut the grass. Then our family had some difficult times. So to keep from going crazy with worry and wanting to do some hard, physical labor to prove to God that I was *worthy* of his blessings, I cut the grass. I knew then as I know now I don't need to prove anything to God. I still cut the grass some, when I am antsy, worried of just want to help out my husband. I usually sit back and admire the results as well. Anyway, I just wanted to share that I too need that time to escape.
Heart Hugs and prayers, from another CHD parent.

Bonnie said...

I will continue to pray for your family as the new school year begins. My husband cuts grass also to get away and do his thinking where no one bothers him. We have Magnolia leaves also but they come from the neighbors tree. May God bless you and keep your family safe in his arms.


Anonymous said...

Hey Charlie,
My husband likes to cut the grass too...I always thought it was because that way when the kids were calling him he could just shake his head and say "Can't hear you! Go ask your Mom!" :)

Praying for you and yours,

Anonymous said...

My issues seem so insignificant sometimes when I am reading what you are dealing with and then I remember grief and suffering are still just grief and suffering no matter what they look like and that is why I still find so much comfort from your words. Yor remind me that I am not alone that someone knows how I feel (even if it's different) and that God is with all of us uniting us to Him through each other! I will continue to offer up my trials for your family!!
Teresa Clark

BreezieGirl said...

Praying regularly...

This was an excellent post, however difficult it may have been to write and as difficult as it truly is to experience.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. Thank you for teaching me a bit about vulnerability, true clinging to the cross prayers, emotion and intimacy that only "having lived it" can understand. You guys have my prayers. Your blog comes up in my daily reads. Thank you for continuing to allow us to be part of it. I can't help but think that one day I will need to fall back on these words in my own moments of true faithfilled and unexplainable love. (Please let me know when you are ready to put together your book. I'll be happy to fully activate your account and show you around if you want. I had held off as I didn't want you to be pressured by time. Thanks for sending Cate's card. You didn't need to take the time!) Good luck to your beloved this week. Starting school, a new year, and a new class is so hard!!!! From one teacher and mother to another, I send my love and prayers. Sara Boster

kellysuch said...

Not a day goes by that I don't think of each of you. Since Lesley text me to tell me Cate was in the hospital, I changed the way I prayed. I can absolutely say that I now have a close and personal relationship with God, one that I thought I had before, but now know that this is the real thing. God is with you, Charlie. He has his arms wrapped around your family, I just know it. All my love to Ali, as I'm preparing my classroom as well, and always thinking of her.
Kelly Such Stewart

Anonymous said...

Still praying for you guys.........looking forward to having Ella in our class.We love you all......Kim Hebert:)

Anonymous said...

Dearest Charlie & Ali,

I wish there were words to take away the pain but as lost and overwhelmed as you all feel sometimes, God is there carrying you all through this rough time. I can only imagine the void you all feel right now.
You all continue to be in our thoughts & prayers. The blog is AMAZING. My boss told me last week, she is reading your blog every day and it has increased her faith and has encouraged her to pray more. She said ya'll are amazing which you are!! I told her I wish she could just meet you all. God's love shines through in all of you. The way you and Ali are touching people in the blog and bringing them closer to God is a wonderful thing. Baby Cate's life has touched SO MANY people.
We love you all dearly and I know you will make it through this-God will make sure of that.

Much Love & God Bless,
Cathy & Bill

Bartas in Texas said...

I have chills. Spot on, Charlie. Spot on. I hate magnolia trees as well. I know they smell good, but they're a pain! I love your analogies and humbleness, every time you come before us. We laugh and cry with you. But it is only by the Lord's grace that we stand firm in battle with you and your family. We're loving you right where you're at.

all our love,
jeremy & courtney

Anonymous said...

hey cantrells
i think it is safe to say that everyone loves reading your blogs. seeing your heart. knowing that while God has been carrying you, it isn't an easy journey. And that is okay. Thanks for sharing so honestly with us and reminding us daily of life...it is what it is and we are called to walk with our eyes fixed on him...He doesn't promise a calm passage, but he promises a safe landing!

love you
maria and the fam