Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jacob William Cantrell

Greetings to all!

Well, #4 entered the world last night! Jacob William Cantrell entered the world weighing in at 8lbs 11oz and 20in long. Mom and Jacob are doing great! Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers, God Bless you all!!!! I uploaded some pictures to my flickr account. If you would like to check it out go to www.flickr.com/photos/cantrellkids We love and appreciate all you have contined to pray for our little famly!

Much Love,
The Cantrells

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jacob's Echo

Greetings to all! Well we just finished up with the second Echocardiogram and the doctor has said from what she can see Jacobs little heart has no major anomalies and for Ali to go and enjoy the rest of her pregnancy!!!! Praise God, Praise God, Praise God! Work is crazy so I can’t write more but I will have a more detailed update here tomorrow. Thank You Thank You Thank You for all of you prayers!

Prayers Today

Greetings to all! Just a reminder that today is Jacob's cardiologist appointment. We will get the hospital between 1:30-2:00. I will update the blog this afternoon once we are all finished. Thank you for your continued faithfulness to our little family!

Much Love,
The Cantrells

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jacob's Echocardiogram

Greetings to all! Wow, the emotion that today has brought was a little more than we expected to be honest. We went in today for an echocardiogram of Jacob's little heart with the cardiologist, Cate's old doctor. As I drove into the parking lot there was the eerie feeling of nostalgia and fear. I missed having a car seat in the backseat of my truck with a little girl in it and at the same time I was faced with the fear of the possibility of having to do this all over again with Jacob. As Ali's van pulled into the parking lot I could tell that she had been crying. She got out and as we starting walking towards the building I asked her, "you doing ok?" and right then she fell apart in my arms. We stood in the parking lot of a hospital holding each other as we had done so many times before and my heart once again felt so helpless. The only words I could muster to pray were, "Jesus, we trust in you" and then to hold my wife close to me as her motherly heart relived so many painful experiences that it had endured over the past two and half years. I asked her if we could pray, to which she said yes. We stood in the parking of the hospital once again, asking for protection, peace, and healing. Then just as we had walked out of the hospital the day Cate died, we walked into another one today, hand in hand.

Ali laid down on the bed and the doctor came in to begin in the echo. It was as though all of time hung in the balance as the computer screen became black and white with movement and small little Jacob's body parts coming in and out of focus. Then the four little chambers of Jacob's heart came in to view and it was go time. It felt like this was going to be the deciding moment that would determine what the next few months and possibly years to come would be like. As I stood peering over the doctors shoulder with my hand on Ali's leg I felt like I knew a little more this time about what I was looking for and what questions needed to be asked. The doctor was able to look at all the chambers and the size of each one. She was able to see the blood flow in and out of the heart. She then started looking for the aortic arch which felt like it took her about five years to find and just built anxiety in the room that could be cut with a knife. It seemed like the exam took hours when in all actuality it probably took twenty to thirty minutes.

The doctor then explained to us that from what she could see the heart was growing and developing as it should be and that he had a strong heart beat. She explained to us that this procedure due to the baby size and the fact that he was in utero could not possibly see everything. She also said that she was not able to see the entire aortic arch or the entirety of the artery itself, SO, we are having to scheduling ANOTHER, echo at an LSU hospital in order for her to be able to look at his heart on a bigger machine. I asked if we should be freaking out and not sleeping over this second appointment and she said no, that if she had been able to see major issues that we would be going today. She also told us due to the fact that the heart performs differently outside mommy's tummy because right now mommy is breathing for the baby, that we would have to bring him back after he was born for her to look at him again.

In many aspects it felt like one of Cate's doctor's appointments, good news tempered with the reality of the fragility of life. So once again we are laying our trust and hope at the feet of Christ. There was NO BAD NEWS today, but when you so wanting so badly to hear, "everything looks great, go enjoy the rest of your pregnancy," and you don't, it does take some of the wind out your sails, you know? I want to thank everyone for the out pouring of prays for Jacob, Ali, and I in the days leading up to today and today. We ask that you continue to be vigilant in intercession for Jacob and our little family. Our next appointment will be on Wednesday August 19th as far as we know. If anything changes we will let you know.
Much Love, The Cantrells

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Cate Sized Hole

Greetings to all! As yesterday had gotten closer and closer my feelings have been a mixed bag of tricks. It is extremely hard to believe that it has been a full year since our precious Cate left this earthly life and began her eternal one. Our little family has been on the ride of its life over the past 365 days. There were truly days where I did not know if we would make it through as a family and then there have been days that I cannot imagine how much more I can love my wife and children and I know that they are an essential part of my healing.

As I drove to Thibodaux, Louisiana the other morning for work there was a true feeling of freedom and even a true sense of happiness. These two feelings are not ones that I have had in quite a while so I began to explore them by simply asking God why I was feeling like this. It just had come out of no where so I was not really sure what was initiating the sudden onset of a joyful experience. The words, “You’ve made it” came to my heart, oh, yes, the sweet words that I have wanted and needed to hear. Is all well? No, not completely. Do I not miss Cate dearly? All the time! But I truly feel like with yesterday brought a true sense of freedom from that “first year.” I feel like as I look at my family I realize that we are not the same Cantrell’s we were a year ago, but I like some of the new aspects that I see in who we are as a family unit. I enjoy that I truly try to say yes to my kids more than no, not in the spoiling sense of “things” they may want but when they ask to do puzzles, swing, or play chase in the backyard. I enjoy that after struggling, clawing, fighting, crying and yelling, that Ali and I are beginning to come to a new place in our marriage that we have never been before, a place of deep honest mutual love and understanding.

One of the greatest joys that Ali and I have experienced over the past year is the love and resiliency of Ella and Dude. They have had their little worlds turn upside down and yet they continue to amaze me at the joy they possess and how loving they are! Ali and I were sitting outside the other day watching the two of them play on the slip-n-slide in our backyard when we realized that it was a year ago that we were playing in the backyard with Cate and we took the pictures of her in the pool with the kids and the ones of her sitting in the bumbo seat with food all over precious little face. I told Ali that the thing that I feel like is the largest testimony for me of who our family is, is who our children are today even with all they have been through over the past year. During the summer I speak at a series of Catholic youth conferences that are held around the country. I spoke at the first one two weeks ago and my family got to come with me, WHAT A BLESSING!!! After the weekend the coordinator of the conference called me on the Monday morning just to tell me how special our children are and the way that they love is so special. That phone call was such a confirmation for Ali and I from God that we are “ok” that our kids are “ok” and that with all the heartache over the loss of Cate that Ella and Dude have experienced that God has filled their little hearts with love.

Yesterday on the anniversary of Cate’s passing we did the same thing we did on the day Cate died, we celebrated our family. We all loaded up in the truck and went to our favorite local flower shop where the kids picked out the balloons and flowers that they wanted to give to Cate. After leaving the flowers shop we went to the cemetery to “Cate’s sign” where we released the balloons and gave her the flowers that the kids had picked out for her. The sweetest thing happened while we were there, Ella had gotten back in the truck because she was hot and Dude was wondering around looking at other people’s signs and Ali and I stood there having a quiet cry. I hollered at Dude that it was time to go he ran over to us, stopped in front of Cate’s sign, blew her a kiss and continued on the way to the truck. Wow, the tears just streamed down my face and my heart hurt for that little boy, but I was so proud of him for still loving on his sister!

We have made it through this year as a family and we will remain a family. As we prepare for our new arrival in November we know that Cate is still and always will be an active member of our family, in fact, Ella is so excited because now there will be three girls, Mommy, Ella, and Cate and three boys, Daddy, Dude, and Baby Boy Cantrell #2! We want to thank all of you who have and continue to lift our little family up in prayer, we would not be where we are today if it were not for those prayers and still need them alot. All of your cards, letters, gifts, and emails that you all have sent over the past year have reminded us of how loved and supported we were and are and you will never know how much that has meant to us.

On June 24, 2008 a Cate sized hole was left in the heart of our family and though she will never be replaced, God has poured a whole lot of love and grace into such a broken place. We have not done it perfectly by any means, but there is such a joy in my heart to know that we have done it together. Our family is stronger, our family is more loving, our family understands that God never abandoned us through this process and we remain a family journeying in hope. Thank you God for Cate’s life, for her love, and thank you Cate for all the prayers that your innocent little mouth has whispered into the ear of the Father for your family here on earth. We love you and miss you kid and we can’t wait to see you soon!

Much Love,
The Cantrells

Friday, April 3, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Greetings to all!! Well, we are back in the saddle guys and gals and you all may be thinking I am talking about the blog, well that too, but one week ago today I found out that little Cantrell number four has made its entrance into the world, that’s right, Ali is PREGNANT!!!!!!!!!! Ok, I will give you a minute to go get some tissue if you need to gather yourself. You read it right the first time, the Cantrell’s are having another baby!!!!!! Wow, is right, as the words “there is something I need to tell you” came out of Ali’s mouth last Friday night as we sat waiting on friends to meet us, the absolute last ones that I thought would follow would be, “I’m pregnant.” I was expecting, our electric bill was real high, the cats pooped on your favorite shirt, dude ate your favorite shirt. As the words I’m pregnant rolled off of her tongue, I felt all the blood leave my face, I took a long sip of the cold beer that sat in front of me, still not sure if it was mine, and said, Wow, I am so excited, not really meaning that at all, I just didn’t know what else to say at that very moment. And then she followed it by and you can’t say anything to our friends yet, WHAT!!!! Ok, now I have to act like everything is normal when my head is spinning around on my shoulders. Women, that is so typical of you all to do something like that in public that way we can’t freak out and then say, and oh yeah, we can’t talk about it. You are such interesting creatures.

We went to the doctor on Monday for an ultrasound. I saw the little blob on the screen and immediately saw the little beating heart, WOW, what a miracle uh, 8 weeks old and I am watching its little heart beat on a black and white screen. I told Ali that it couldn’t be mine, it looks nothing like me. I asked the nurse if she could print me out a picture to carry around in my truck to remind me that my wife is PREGNANT, and yes we know how it happens, apparently we just like how it happens, especially in February, now that three of our four children will have November birthdays. New rule in the Cantrell house, in February mom or dad moves out, for the MONTH. We met with Dr. Rose and she said that everything looks good right now and that the chances of us having another heart baby are low, but around twenty weeks she wants us to go see a Cardiologist for her to look at Baby Cantrell’s heart, so we need you guys again to be praying for a healthy heart please!

We told Ella and Dude last night, they screamed and hollered at the dinner table. Ella laughed hysterically but you could tell it was with a twinge of nervousness. She quickly proclaimed that it was a boy, we reminded her that we did not know yet what God had given us, but daddy was really hoping it was a PUPPY. This morning Ella wanted to bring the ultrasounds picture with her to school to show everyone her new sibling. Can you picture that a bunch of pre-k’ers huddled around an ultrasound picture of a Uterus trying to figure out what it is! We had not even gotten off our street before she had told someone that, “Mommy has a baby in her tummy!” and when the lady who was opening the doors in the carpool line opened the door, there was Ella standing up tall, holding the picture declaring loudly that, her mommy was pregnant. I am sure by this afternoon our small town will be buzzing with, “Did you hear, the Cantrell’s are pregnant!”

Is there fear? YES, there is fear, but I cannot and do not want to let that fear run my life. I write this blog almost two years to the day that we found out when Ali was pregnant for Cate that we might lose her in Utero and that there was something developmentally not right. The past two years have been a long road for this little family. Is this a little sooner than I would have liked to welcome another child into our family, maybe, but, maybe it is the perfect time. Maybe as we begin to close the chapter of mind numbing pain from the loss of Cate, God can open the next chapter of fruitful love in the life of the Cantrell’s. I am ready to get back in the saddle of love and new life, I am ready to welcome this baby knowing that its big sister Cate has her hand on its every move. As I sat on the back step the other night crying to Cate, telling her that I didn’t know if I was ready to move on and that I was scared of the possibilities of this baby have heart problems to and asking her, “Cate, please pray for me, but pray and watch over your new little brother or sister.” I kid you not, in my heart of hearts I heard her snicker at me and say “Dad, I am so sure! I am not going anywhere, your not “moving on” and stop worrying I am already on it” and I had a vision of her rolling her eyes! It was AWESOME, I love that little girl.

Well, here we go again, back in the saddle of welcoming children into the world of the Cantrell’s. We need you guys, I know you all have been praying even though we have not been writing and you will never know how encouraging it is to get comments on the blogs just saying that you are still here and still praying even though we haven’t written in months. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Please add this new Baby Cantrell to your list and we will keep you up to date as we journey through this pregnancy and as we prepare our hearts to meet this new son or daughter and welcome them joyfully into our little family. God bless you all and thank you for the prayers.

Much Love,

The Cantrells

Monday, March 23, 2009

Raffle Tickets

Greetings to All!

I had a question asked in the comments of the last blog about the Healing
House. Yes, you can still buy tickets through me. Make the checks payable
to the Healing House and you can mail them to me at:

Charlie Cantrell
P.O. Box 52978
Lafayette, La 70505

Once I receive your check I will send your ticket stubs with
a Big Ole Louisiana Thank You from Dude and Ella personally.
Thanks again to all who have bought raffle tickets so far,
wow, you guys blow me away!!!!!! The Healing House truly is
such a blessing to our children so for yall to support it you
are directly supporting Dude and Ella and other kiddos who have
losted love ones.

Much Love,

Charlie

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Healing House/Ella and Dude

Greetings to All!

I know its been a while, please pray for our little family as we continue to trudge through the muck and mud of grief, we appreciate yall, sorry its been a while since we have written, just not much to say right now, hang with us, we love you. Below is a little request if you are interested.

I hope this note finds you all well! As all of you know this year has been a challenging one for our little family. One of the things that has brought our family, especially Ella and Dude, hope and comfort over the past few months is the Healing House. The Healing House is a non-profit organization that helps children to go through the grieving process who have lost siblings or a close loved one with other children who unfortunately find themselves in the same situation.

Ella and Dude attend a group session every other Thursday night where they have group time with a social worker for a while and then they have "free play" for a while. While the kids are in the back having their time, the parents can be a part of a group that goes on simultaneously in the front. The Healing House provides all of its services for FREE, everything they do for us and our family, they never ask for a single penny, what a GIFT to our children and to us, who so often don't know how to find the words to comfort them, during these challenging times.

The Healing House in conjunction with a Golf Tournament here in Lafayette is having a raffle. The Healing House receives 100% of the proceeds from the tickets that it sells to go towards continuing the wondering and necessary services that it provides. The Grand Prize of the raffle is $5000 and the tickets are $10.00 a piece. I know that many of you live out of state, but I will mail your ticket stubs once I receive your check. Here is the other great thing, you make the check out directly to the Healing House and therefore it is tax deductible. I ask you to please consider supporting this extremely important organization that is so important and necessary to our little family and our kids.

If you choose to support the Healing House and the services they provide to us please shoot me an email with the number of tickets you would like to purchase so that I can get the necessary number of books from the Healing House and if I could ask that you send your checks as soon as possible, but by the end of next week at the absolute latest so that I can get them turned in to the Healing House. Please do not forget to make your checks payable to the Healing House and mail them to me at the address below my name.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU from the bottom of our little family's heart.

Please feel free to forward this on to anyone who knows our little family and who has followed our family's journey.

Much Love,
Charlie, Ali, Ella, Dude, and Baby Cate
P.O. Box 52978
Lafayette, LA 70505

Monday, January 19, 2009

Embracing the "new" me

“... pay close attention to the times that God calls you away from the valley and invites you to tiptoe quietly back into the light. It is still there, waiting for you.”

I received an email months ago from a dear friend who was to undergo surgery for cancer later that day. She spoke these words with a peaceful wisdom that comes both from life’s experience and a God fearing heart. Her encouragement and sweet invitation to tiptoe back to the light were initially met with resistance from my fortressed heart. In the months since Cate’s death, I have learned to guard my heart even more and to protect it at all cost. So, to step out “into the light” was much more than I desired to do. But the email stuck with me, and a day or so later another sweet woman gave me permission to ... fight for the happiness I deserve. And then I got it ... If I want to somehow start getting my life back together than I have to start embracing small steps to wholeness.

I will be the first to admit that the stages of grief are all consuming in moments and sometimes days. The stage of anger was and is one of my biggest struggles. I have unleashed my furry on a few dear friends, who thankfully still love me. My anger comes from a place of honesty and although it is somewhat uncomfortable it helps to continue the softening of my heart. They are small steps in a powerful direction, allowing me to not hold so tightly to my fears. Anger is not one of those “pretty feminine” attributes that I “do” well, but I am learning fast that it does have a place in a mother’s heart. And if you channel it well, anger can be both liberating and productive. And although I will admit that “angry Ali” is not an enjoyable place to be, (or enjoyable to be with) she does have a valid place in this process.

Yet through the anger, the months have unfolded, life has continued on, but the reality of Cate’s death remains the same. What I am learning is that there is no finish line on this journey. There is; however, an embracing of the “new” me and my “new” family. The marathon race we began with Cate’s surgery has continued on without her, and the load we carry now is more than we anticipated. I changed the day Cate died, we all did. Our family is not who we were seven months ago, and I don’t anticipate being “those people” again. We will continue to develop and grow, hopefully for the better. However a part of each one of us died that day. Along with grieving Cate, we also grieve that part in ourselves, which we buried with her.

Trust is harder to come by, and faith in God is often a decision, rather than a way of life. The “new” me hurts more often, cries more easily, and often ungraciously lashes out in anger. But the “new” me also take pleasure in great conversations and delights in hardy laughs. The “new” me has learned that evenings with grade school friends are some of my best treasures, and that my own children can give the most honest advice. The “new” me is learning that I find more solace in chocolate milk rather than wine, and new shoes take a back seat to worn-in boots.

The “new” me is learning that (if you allow yourself to listen) God shows up to comfort us when we least expect Him. A good friend invited me to attend a support group a while back for grieving parents of infants/babies. I felt much resistance to go. My heart felt filled with anger, not from her invitation, but from the sheer fact that by way of Cate’s death, I even needed to know about this support group. I didn’t want be counted among “them,” I wanted my baby girl back and to pretend that I never knew this group existed. Yet, when the group was over, there was a great sense of unity to be joined with others, who feel just as lost, confused, and left-behind. I felt a great sense of relief when others shared wisdom or expressed concerns that were similar to mine. One of the greatest gifts I received from the group is that I do not feel that I need to rush to complete Cate’s headstone. Her precious grave is still the humble concrete with fresh dirt. It brings me great comfort to “play” there many afternoons with the kiddos. We draw all over her grave with chalk and we blow bubbles. We walk ALL OVER the cemetery and the kids find comfort in bringing flowers to other graves that are “flowerless.” It does hurt my heart to know that an aspect of their innocence has been robbed by Cate’s death, and yet their resilience is inspiring, and hopeful. They continue to remind me that love abounds in our life, even when, and if it hurts.

So for now, I am embracing the “new” me. I embrace all that I have learned and will continue to learn on this journey. I embrace all of the hurts, loves, and new joys that we are experiencing through all of this. They are all incredible teachers. And I also embrace all the …peace that today offers… as I place one toe out of the valley and feel the light that waits to shine on us again.

All my love, Ali

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Beautifully Ugly

Greeting to all! As Ali and I were driving through Lafayette the other night heading home from a spontaneous date night this really attractive billboard caught my eye. On the bottom there was silhouettes of what appeared to be people in worship with hands raised and the silhouettes where outlined on the top with this really bright green color and the words Live Love Worship. As I drove to work the next morning that billboard popped back into my head and then scenes from worship events that I had been to over the years.. All the scenes were beautiful, the lighting was perfect, the stages were elaborately decorated, and the sound was done just right. All of this to create a perfect environment to worship our God.

The more I allowed my mind to journey into these various events and the feelings associated with them I began to think that my life does not even remotely resemble the beauty that flows out of those nights. Lately, I have felt so distant from God and whenever I pray it surely does not feel like any of these Spirit filled occasions. When I pray it feels dry and void of even words, believe it or not, but I continue to sludge through these valleys of prayer in search of refreshment. I began to wonder if I had not unknowingly conditioned myself to think that worship has to be “pretty,” that it must have the right “sound,” that it needs to be “inspired,” and have the perfect “words.” I thought to myself, that right now, my life and my prayer seems “ugly.” It doesn’t look like anything a “Good Christian’s” life “should” look like, even under the circumstances I find myself.

That day I stopped by one of my closest brother’s offices. Ironically, He runs a very successful ministry putting on nights of teaching and worship. His nights are always first class, they really create an environment which enables people to enter into worship through song, scripture, and the Eucharist. I felt like I could possibly be insulting what he is called to do but at the same time we are close enough that I felt like I could freely share these thoughts that had been flowing through my heart all day. I explained to him that as I was having these thoughts about worship the image of a bloodied crucified Christ kept coming into my heart and how “ugly” that scene must have been. He went on to say that we have to be authentic that our lives are not always as neat as a worship event. He shared a story with me about an encounter he had with an older prominent couple in the town that he works in. One of their children was having some personal struggles and ended up needing to get professional help and it had all been kept real hush hush. He ran into them at a gathering and asked them how they were doing, him knowing what was going on with their child, and they responded with some canned “good Christian” response and he thought to himself, “your lying to me.”

As a Christias we often feel that we have to hide behind our fig leaves just as Adam and Eve covered themselves out of their own embarrassment. These feelings are even more pronounced by the times that we live in when everything has to “look” perfect. I think even as a Church we have in someway begun to fall into the trap of thinking and unknowingly teaching that worship looks a certain way. Yet, if we are to really examine the Life of Christ, it didn’t look anything like that, it was real, it was raw, and the finale was one of the ugliest things that this world has ever seen, But guess what? That magnificent cross, was beautifully ugly, it was a physical embodiment of everything that had and would happen in this world. It was our Christ who willingly, honestly, and OPENLY took on the ugliness of this world and made the eternal statement, “you don’t have hide anymore.” I feel like He was saying to all of us, bring your ugliness to me, bring it out in the open, and I will make it beautiful. Unfortunately what happens is we try to hide our ugliness, dress up our ugliness, or just down right deny that it is even there, because if we are honest with ourselves we do not feel that our life is appropriate for the dressed up worship services that we attend or that our life is in and of itself worship.

Please understand what I am saying, I am in not in anyway putting down these incredible nights of worship, heck I love them as much as the guy. What I am saying is that worship is not a canned action. What I am saying is that worship is does not always feel good. What I am saying is that worship is not always pretty. Worship IS our life and I don’t know about you but my life is not always, not even most of the time, pretty and you know what, Christ’s life wasn’t either. His life was filled with rejection, disappointment, and in the world’s eyes, failure. The question that my heart asks is, why should I not feel like these valleys are worship? I had wondered the other day if the humanity of Christ thought to Himself as He hung on the Cross, “Father, I hope I am doing this right because this does not look like any Jewish sacrifice I have ever seen,” That is exactly how I feel right now. I feel like my prayer is often, God, I hope I am doing this right because this is not the kind of worship that I have experienced before. I desire a transformation to take place in my heart that will enable me to realize that my life is worship, the good, the bad, and yes, even the beautifully ugly.


Much Love,
The Cantrells

Monday, January 5, 2009

Wise Men are Fools

Greetings to all! As we sat in Mass yesterday celebrating the feast of the Epiphany, in other words, the wise men’s arrival. I got to thinking about these so called wise men. Could you imagine if one your friends would say to you, “Look, I been doing a little research about this religion and from what I can tell they are all waiting on a king to arrive. I have been monitoring the stars through my looking device I invented and I found this star that was not there before. I have a feeling that if I follow that star it will lead us to this new king, wanna come?” There were three wise men, right? My question is who was the first one to see this star? And my second question is how on earth did he convince these other two fellas to go with him? There are a few things that I love about the wise men and I will elaborate on these each in a little detail.

First, angels did not appear to them singing Hallelujah and telling them to come over to Bethlehem the King is born. It was not some mind blowing spiritual experience that lead them to this newly born king. It was NATURE! I think a lot of times we can box God into such a small package as to not realize how much HIS creation all points to Him. Also, we continue to concrete ourselves in as our cities grow larger and so we get to experience less and less of His creation. I remember a few years back I had finished reading this book about men’s spirituality called, “Wild at Heart” by John Eldridge, it is an amazing book that truly continues to change my life, can you tell I highly recommend it? After reading the book I found out that John Eldridge and his team put on men’s retreats in Colorado and I decided that I wanted to go. I signed up for the retreat, bought a plane ticket and booked my rental car. The weekend was awesome, hands down one of the most powerful weekends thus far in my life, but do you know what was the most soul freeing experience of those four days was? The drive to retreat center believe it or not! I remember leaving the airport and the concrete jungle of Denver and the further and further I got into the mountains the more I felt my heart being freed. As I rounded this one corner traveling through the mountains, the whole landscape just opened up into the HUGE beautiful valley completely surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains. I literally pulled my car over onto the side of the rode, got out, walked to the edge of the side rail, and jumped off, ok, no I didn’t, that just added dramatic effect to the story. No, I just stood there and experienced all of God’s majesty, power, and beauty and I let His creation lead me into His heart at that moment. These wise men knew that God could use anything to lead people to Himself and so they followed His creation right to the feet of the King!

Secondly, can you imagine how crazy they looked to everyone they knew? In a day and age where we are probably more self conscious than society has ever been, can you imagine if you or I set out to follow a star because we thought it might lead us to a king? We are afraid to bow our heads in a restaurant to bless and thank our Heavenly Father for the meal He has sat before us, can you imagine if we were to do something radical like follow a star? These guys must have looked like complete and under fools to everyone they knew. We call them “wise men” NOW, but can you imagine the conversations about those fellas back in the day, “hey, you heard about Johnny, Danny, and Billy, they went looking for a king cause they saw a star! HAAHAHAHAHAHA what fools uh? But guess what? They found one! They not only found one, they found THE ONE! I think that the wise men present a challenge to us all to step out of our comfort zones in search of the King. I think that the wise men call ever single Christian out, by not what they said, but by what they did! They put everything on the line for this King and their actions present a very loud question to all of us, what are we willing to do to find the King? In the end, they were not fools, they went down in HISTORY as Wise men! That my friends is a legacy, wise men, in search of the King, that’s what I want to be and I don’t care how foolish I look!

My final thought on these wise men is that they may or may not have been Jewish. These guys could possibly have been the first Christians sorta of. Now, this is not a theological point so please don’t go to your priest, pastor, or whoever and tell them that I am calling the wise men the first Christians, I am not trying to make some new theological point, what I am saying is that Christ called everyone to Himself! And I think that these guys recognized something special about this child, something different. I think that is the reason they did not go back to Herod to tell him where they had found the child. The priest at Mass yesterday said that from the very beginning of Christ’s life even in the manger He was drawing people to Himself to adore Him. People from all walks of life from Sheppard to wise man from Jew to Gentile and from Sinner to Saint, He desires to bring us all to Himself! What an awesome thought that our God wants us ALL!

As we begin our Christmas Year, may we allow God to use His creation to draw us to Himself, may we not care what we look like to others as we follow Him, and finally may our hearts be filled with gratitude that our God wants us ALL!

Much Love,
The Cantrells