Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

Greetings to all! I am sending this message from my buddy's house. We all had to get the heck out of dodge due to Hurricane Gustav! I sent my family to Houston and I am about 30 miles north of my house. We have huge oak trees in front of our house and the hurricane is going to pass almost right over us. I just wanted to ask everyone to please pray for all of us here in Louisiana, for our saftey and that the damage that Gustav brings in minimal. The storm is coming through tomorrow around 8:00pm. As soon as the power is back up and we have assessed the damages I will let you all know how we are doing. Also, please pray for Dude, he had his tonsils out last Thursday and poor thing is not feeling well, spent 9 hours in the car yesterday, and got very little sleep. Thanks for all the prayers in advance and will update you again soon. Much Love, The Cantrells

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We are still here

Greetings to all! If anyone is still out there checking We are still here. I ask for prayers I have been in a very difficult spot in my grief. I wrote a blog yesterday but i believe it might come across the wrong way so i did not post it and I am really praying about how God wants to relay what is in my heart. If yall are still out there, its coming, please please please pray for Ali and me, its been rough. Blog coming soon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What Words Do You Hear?

John 21: 14-17
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." (Jesus) said to him, "Feed my sheep.

Greetings to all! Well before I get into what feel like God is putting on my heart today I wanted to take a second just to thank all of you for your continued prayerful support of our family. We are very much leaning into it right now and want you all to know that it is truly working. We are hanging in there, fighting the good fight, and trying our best to love each other with all that we have and are. I shared a story with Ali that one of the readers had emailed me about a real connection her five year old daughter has with Baby Cate and immediately Ali burst into tears, I was like OH GREAT, Good job Charlie!, but actually she said, that is her high point of the day! We share high points a dinner every night with our kiddos and that precious story help lighten the load of grief for Ali, so thank you all very much for you stories of how God is still using our sweet Cate to move in your lives.

As I sat in Mass today listening to the reading I was very moved by how gentle our God is. Here is Jesus sitting, I would imagine almost face to face with Simon Peter, the same Simon Peter who had denied Him publicly three times just days earlier. The same Simon Peter who not only denied him, but was no where to be seen, at least not openly anyway during Jesus’ crucifixion. This had been one of Jesus’ closest Apostles during His whole public ministry and Peter just bailed that sinking ship as quickly as He could. Jesus, in the most loving gentle way calls Peter back into relationship with Him. But, notice how Jesus does it. It is not forceful, it is not derogatory, it is not degrading, or humiliating, in fact all Jesus does is ask Him a series of questions.

Well, let’s be honest, Jesus asks the SAME question three times, “Simon, son of John, Do you love me?” Did you really hear that? Read that again and allow those words to sink into your heart. “Do you love me?” I love it! There are a million questions that Jesus could of asked, like; What in the Hell where you thinking? Do I mean that little to you? Are you that chicken? Do you feel bad about that decision? Are you sorry? But Jesus doesn’t, because those questions never entered his mind or heart, Jesus KNEW how much Peter was hurting, how ashamed and sorrowful he felt, He knew that those questions would not empower Peter, but cripple him. So what does Jesus ask Him, “Do you love me?” You can almost hear the gentle and healing words filling your ears and overflowing your heart. Our God does not get caught up in the past for He looks to what lies ahead for us, just to steal St. Paul’s words and as the Psalmist says in Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on the faithful.

Now thinking about those powerful words I have to be honest when I fail miserably as a husband and father. When I selfishly choose my way over God's way to serve my wife and children or when I run from the commitment I have made to be a husband and a father, those are not the words I hear. Especially in this time of mourning often it is easier to just worry about me, then to worry about Ali, Ella, and Dude and sometimes that is what I choose to do to be honest and the words that I hear are not, “Charlie, son of Chuck, do you love?” The questions I get usually start with YOU and the followed by one of these adjectives idiot, moron, loser, self-absorbed jerk, and then end with one of these questions, are you happy now?
Do you really feel good about that? Is that what “holy” dad’s do?

After listening to the Gospel today I got to thinking, who am I listening to? That is not what I hear when I turn my back on Jesus. Ah, yes, what a perfect opportunity for the evil one to kick you while you are down, so you stay down, but what does our God do when we are down? He comes oh so gently to bring us back in to the fold and He does it with the most compassionate and understanding demeanor. How blessed we are to have a God who loves us like that and who runs to meet us, like the prodigal father. In those times that we turn our back on our God, our spouse, our children, our family, our friends and those sharp words of condemnation come flying at our face may we take refuge in the shadow of His wing and listen very carefully for the beautiful words, “Charlie, Do you love me?” You can fill your name in there where mine is, I don’t think God would ask you that question with my name in it that would just be a little awkward. It would be like my grandmother who, bless her heart, could not remember my name so she could just call me random cousins and/or uncles until she go it right. Anyway, may we all keep praying for that we can be gentle with ourselves as God is gentle with us. Much Love, The Cantrells

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Follow His Steps

Matthew 10: 16-19
A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Greetings to all! I heard these words and the priest’s homily today and it got me thinking about this whole grieving process. It is not quick and it is not easy by any means. This past Saturday and Sunday were particular rough on Ali. She came back inside Sunday afternoon after having some quiet time outside and she began to apologize for the way that she had been acting and proceeded to tell me how much she appreciated me. I stopped her, mainly because they were all vicious lies, just kidding, and said, Baby, you do not need to apologize, I do not need you to “be” anywhere or “do” anything else.

One of the difficult aspects of grief is that you want to hurry it up, get through it, and get over it. There are a lot of books out there on grief, there are a lot of support groups for those people who are going through the grief process, and there are a lot of ministry groups for people going through loss. Now, do not take me the wrong way, I believe that all of these are good in their own right. But I know for me that I am often tempted to “do” something, rather than “be” something. We live in a world that has the cure for everything, the ten steps to this, the five steps to that, and all of them require us, “doing” something. So often I find myself doing these things, following these steps and at the end I still feel like the young man in the Gospel, still looking. I think that is the case for faith that we often find ourselves in. Our world has become so “climb the corporate ladder” oriented that we begin to place those ideas on to all aspects of our life, even our faith, or in the case of Ali and I the journey of grief.

The young man in the Gospel today wants to know what he can “do” to gain eternal life. Jesus’ final words to the young man are, “Then come, follow me.” I think that we can get everything backwards so often. I think that if we can start by following Jesus, all the “to do’s” will come in to clear view. I think that if we can put all of our books down that are telling us how to live our lives and start just spending time with our God then we will know with confidence what book we need to pick up. If we can simplify our lives of the multitude of ministries that we can get ourselves so wrapped up in that we forget why we are doing in them in the first place and start to really looking to our Creator, then we can begin to realize what ministries will best fit us, ministries where our gifts and talents will be best utilized, and/or what specific needs we have in our lives, i.e. grief support groups, for Ali and I. There was this reporter that once asked Mother Theresa of Calcutta, “What do you do in Adoration?” Regarding the time she spent before the Eucharist. She simply answered, “I look at Him, and He looks at me.” And I do not know what you think, but I think she sure was on the right path.

(Ok…Ali’s Sidebar commentary….
After reading Charlie’s analogy on the “young man,” I realized that I never notice Jesus’ final invitation to …come follow me. I have always hung on to…”go, sell all of your possession and give to the poor.” Um, excuse me…my bank account is not padded and I often feel like I am the “poor,” not to mention I am TOTALLY vain and even in my “poor-ness” I still like to buy shoes. But to follow Jesus in the day in and day outs is do-able (most days). If I can march in my payless pumps and still follow Jesus, then I guess I will turn my attention to “being” with Jesus in this grief and to stop trying to “do & accomplish” the next stage of this process. Pray for us, as we pray in thanksgiving for you, that we can “be” with Jesus and rest in His grace. love to you all, Ali )

We want to commit today to following our God in this grief process as well as every aspect of our life. I know that He will lead all of us down the road that will have lasting results. I know that it may not be a quick fix, but it will be a lasting one. I know that if there is a book to read or a group to join that He will put it on our hearts strongly that this is where we belong. When I was talking to my buddy who is giving me some guidance on writing our book, he said, “Instead of putting our energy in a lot of different directions, let’s find a good direction, and put a lot of energy into that one. I like that idea, I’ve got a wonderful Counselor in Christ, I am going to put a lot of energy into Him and I know that He will lead me in the right direction. I pray that we all stop trying to climb the corporate ladder of faith and start listening to the CEO’s directions because they seem pretty clear to me, “Come follow me.” Much Love, The Cantrells

P.S. We uploaded some new picutres of Ella and Dude and their first day of school as well as our trip to The Games of Acadiana to check them out go to

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A One Winged Butterfly

Greetings to All! As I sit at our breakfast table on this lazy Sunday morning listening to the kids play their imaginary games my heart is a little heavy, not bad just a little. Ali had said this morning that the past few days had been tough on her. I could tell that something was bothering her, but I tend to think that I have done something to upset, offend, or bother her instead of remembering that we lost our daughter less than two months ago. It’s that whole “movie thing” that I live in. This week was A LOT better than last week, it just seemed to go a little smoother. We had another milestone, the 13th came and left pretty quietly. It’s hard to believe that it has already been two months since Cate’s surgery and the heart wrenching grace-filled days that followed.

Our pediatrician called last week with the results of Cate's autopsy. This kind of brought back up a lot of memories and emotions. There is a series of the questions you ask yourself when you lose a child. Did I do enough? Did I make the right decisions? Is there more that I could have done? These questions haunt the recesses of your mind and heart. In those dark moments of grief they seem to come up more poignantly. Of course these were the questions that I did not want to ask, but I knew that I had to. Dr. Mark went on to explain that everything surgically look great, and that he had even called a profusionist friend of his to ask about how they continue to give the heart oxygen during surgery because he wanted to more fully understand this process of Cate’s surgery. After the surgery the surgeon told us himself, that he was unhappy with the amount of “clamp time” that they had to do in order to get Cate’s heart surgically corrected. Dr. Mark went on to say that he truly believes that it was the amount of clamp time that was the downfall of Cate’s heart. He said that he truly believes that the right side of Cate’s heart died that day of surgery.

I asked him why we did not see the complexities of Cate’s heart before and were there any procedures that we could have done before the surgery that would have enable us to see the complexity of Cate’s heart. If Cate’s heart was SO complex why was she not having “Tet spells?” This is where babies turn blue because of the lack of oxygen in their blood. He said, Charlie, I don’t know why Cate appeared to everyone to be so healthy. Even, the night before her surgery we went to Dr. Mark’s house so that he could give her a “once over” to make sure she was ready for surgery. He thoroughly checked her out and told Ali, “She looks great, yall go have that surgery and come on back home.” He said that after reading the autopsy he just can’t understand how Cate was not much sicker that she appeared to be to everyone.

Although it is difficult losing a child, Cate was such a joy. Our memories are filled with joyful moments of laughter and love. She was truly our most joyful baby, all of our children are joyful, but Cate was just different as a baby. The memories that we have are ones of a smiling, healthy, beautiful baby girl and for that I am so grateful. We did not have to watch our child suffer for seven months, we got to watch her live life to the very fullest a seven month old can. I smile even as I type this just thinking of Cate’s joyful presence. This is what I miss the most and what pains my heart to tears at time. I remember one night in the hospital, at Texas Children’s, as I sat at her bedside crying my eyes out, one of the profusionist left his machine and came and sat beside me and just put his hand on my leg. He just sat there, he did not say a word, he just sat there with me. As I went to walk out of the room he put his hand on my shoulder and he said, “I lost my son fourteen years ago, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. She will be with you forever whether you leave here with her or without her.” How true those words are, I do feel that she is always with me. As I have told you all before I feel her presence very strongly at mass. The other day I was at mass and I quickly noticed that her presence was not there with me. I know that may sound a little crazy but I was very aware that her sweet spirit was not around. As soon as I noticed that she was not there with me, I heard her voice in my heart say, “Sorry dad, God has me working on something right now, see you soon.” And sure enough the next time I was at mass, she was back there with me. It was really a very neat experience.

Since Cate’s death butterflies have been a real connection to Cate for Ali. People who lose children or loved ones will often have something that reveals the love one’s presence or a connection of some sort. For Ali’s family their connection to Phil, the brother that she lost, is dimes and rainbows. We have jars full of dimes and their car ashtrays are full of dimes. It’s just a connection that they have with him. For Ali and Cate, its butterflies. Ali and I were talking on the balcony the other night about my conversation with Dr. Mark. I was relaying the information that Dr. Mark had given me and I was specifically telling her about how Dr. Mark said that he believed that the right side of Cate’s heart had most likely died the day of surgery. She smiled and said you know what? “I was talking to one of my students today and a butterfly went fluttering by. I was telling her how butterflies were very special to me. The student then responded, ‘You know Ms. Cantrell, a butterfly can live for 12- 14 days with only one wing.’” Now, we don’t know if this is actually true or not, and if its not, don’t tell us, per Ali’s request. It’s just another connection to our sweet Cate and the beautiful reality that her life and the grace filled days that followed her surgery. Her short yet beautiful life touched our family and so many others so deeply, just as butterflies can brighten our day with beauty and grace as they flutter by us for a brief moment.

Thank you all for your continued prayers, cards, and support. They are so very appreciated Ali and I were talking just the other night about how blessed we feel by those people who have not forgotten about us, now that the “hype” of Baby Cate is over, so again thank you. A prayer request, we are beginning the process of getting the blogs turned into a book because of the overwhelming request we have had. This is much more emotional for me than I had anticipated. Going back and re-reading the blogs during those days is difficult, but I want to do it while they are fresh on my mind. Please pray for good discernment of what goes in and what does not go in and that we find a publisher that is a perfect fit for us. Also, after re-reading the blogs from when we were in Houston, I want to thank you for interpreting my jiber jabber at times, WOW, there was some terrible grammatical things going on there. And last but not least if you still are wanting a Baby Cate prayer card but have not wanted to ask, go ahead, ask! It honors us to know that you want to pray for our family and to ask our precious Cate to pray for you. So again, if you want one just drop me your mailing address to . You all really do mean the world to us and we appreciate you staying with us, Please keep praying for us! Much Love, The Cantrells

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Taking the Underwear Off Our Head

Matthew 18:1-5
The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

Greetings to all! This was part of the Gospel reading today at Mass and it is one that I have heard countless times over the years. What typically happens when I am very familiar with a particular Gospel reading is that my mind immediately goes to, yeah yeah, yeah, be innocent, be pure, be simple I know this old dog and pony show. And sure enough the priest went on in his homily to say that yes we are supposed to be innocent like little children and I was like see, I have heard this one before, but then, he through a curve ball at me. He said we also need to be dependent and trust in our Heavenly Father, just as children are dependent and trust of their earthly parents.

That got my mind thinking about Ella, Dude, and yes even Cate. Although Ella believes, at the ripe old age of four that she is capable of doing just about everything on her own, unbenouced to herself she cannot. She still needs someone to cook her food, put her to bed at a reasonable hour, which last night was a daddy night, so they got to stay up later watching cartoons and eating sugar candy because mommy was not home. Dude, needs some one to help him put his Spiderman undies back on, that boy can get them off faster than lighting and usually in places that I would prefer him keep them on his little body, like my mother-in-law’s front yard where he decided it was a good place to pee because he saw the dog peeing in the front yard. Cate needed someone to change her poopy diapers and to hold her bottle while she ate. All three of them are and were dependent on their mommy and daddy to take care of their everyday needs. They have complete trust that if they are hungry, they will be feed. If they can’t get their underwear off their head and back on their bottoms, that there will be someone there to help them. If their leotard is stuck on their face that mommy or daddy knows the trick to get it off. They place all of the trust in us and for the most part we don’t let them down, because we love them, we care for them, and we want the best for them and underwear stuck on their face in their Nana’s front yard is not necessarily the best for them or the son-in-law, which happens to be me.

After that train of thought had left the station, I was reminded of the scripture verse Matthew 6:30, “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you.” In these troubling times that we find ourselves this is where our dependence and trust must rise to the top of our hearts. We must willingly and frequently fling ourselves into the loving and guiding hands of our Heavenly Father. Those times when life feels like it pulls our underpants over our face and we can’t see and we can’t get them off, God is right there trying to help us to get them off and so often we, like my four year daughter, just keep telling Him, “No, I can do it myself,” and He patiently asks, “Will you let me help?”

I spoke to a good buddy of mine on the phone this morning and he asked the question, “What is the one thing that you feel like is pulling you through this time?” I said, well, it’s actually two things. First, it’s Daily Mass and the Eucharist, as often as I can get there. When I am going to daily Mass and receiving the Eucharist things stay in perspective and I feel as though I have the strength to continue on. When life gets “busy” and I “can’t” make it to Mass, is when I start losing hope and losing my focus of who is really guiding me through this. I start thinking “I” have to get the underwear off my head myself, instead of just trusting and accepting the help that God is trying to give me. Secondly, I continue to invite God into these emotions and moments of real heartache. Over the past year I have begun to work on some inner healing prayer with my spiritual director. The premise of this type of prayer is that attached to every memory is an emotion and as time goes on whenever that memory is triggered you experience that emotion again. Through inner healing prayer you invite or ask God to take you back into your heart and into certain memories where you felt like He wasn’t there and to show you that He was in fact there. This process allows those old memories and emotions associated with those memories to begin to be healed and you do not have to continue living out of the past hurts. I know this may sound a little crazy and I was skeptical at first big time, but God has really rocked my heart over the past year and given me a lot of freedom. So, what I told my buddy was either I invite God in now and let Him reveal Himself to me and show me that He is here with me or I am going to live the next twenty years out of abandonment, hurt, and anger, because I think, “God didn’t show up.”

What I am getting at is the more that we can depend on God and trust that He will show up, the more that we can live freely and enjoy our lives that He gives us here on earth. Have you ever just sat and watched little kids play? They have no worries, you know why? Because they ultimately trust that they are being watched, guarded, and protected by the eye of their parents or people that their parents know and trust. My prayer is that during this process of grieving that we as a family can continue to learn to depend and trust that God is going to be with us, comforting us, guiding us, and ultimately healing us, even if we can’t get our underwear off our head, He knows the trick. I ask that you pray that our dependence and trust might increase, that we stop looking to ourselves or to things of this world and start looking to our Heavenly Father who knows exactly what we need. Much Love, The Cantrells

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dirt Filled Nails

Greetings to all! Ok guys I wish today I had some pretty flowery words to give you all, but I don’t. I just wanted to share my heart and where it finds itself over the past week. I have not written lately because honestly the messiness of grief has just overcome me and I have found it difficult to put into words or have the energy to sit down and write a blog, not to mention work got kind of crazy at the end of last week.

I feel as thought I have been struggling to keep my head above the water lately. I feel like there is a true and real battle raging in and for my heart. I am not giving in by any means, but at the moment I feel like my fingernails are full of dirt as I do my best to cling to hill the of the cross. Last week was probably the hardest week so far in this journey of grieving. There were two days that I sat at my desk and cried for most of the day. I cried over the fact that I miss Cate so much and I cried over the fact that I have REALLY been stinking it up as a husband and a father. I had my guys group last Thursday evening, which I have every other Thursday night. It is a sacred time for me and the men that sit at that table are sacred to my heart. They are they one’s that no me inside and out and have my back no matter how ugly life gets. We get together and play cards and whenever someone is ready to talk about what is going on in their heart we all just put our cards down and listen. We had been playing for a while when out of the blue one of my brothers just flat out asked me, “Ok, Charlie, seriously, How are you really doing brother?” I lost it right there, the tears came streaming down my face and I just shared with them for what felt like thirty minutes all the miseries that my heart is experiencing right now and they just listened, no one offered advice, no one tried to compare my suffering to what they are going through, the biggest brother, who sits at our table got up came behind me and wrapped his big burly arm around my neck tightly and just said, We love you man, and we are here for you. They then talked about how they didn’t know how I was doing it and didn’t know how they could do it if they were in my situation. Those where all nice words and good to hear but the truth is I feel like I am sucking it up big time right now and my heart is breaking even more because of it. I always try to do whatever I do the best I can and attempt to be great in whatever situation life brings my way. This particular situation just feels so much bigger than me. It feels at times and at the same time most of the time like I can’t even breathe because I feel like such am stinking things us so bad and I do not even know where to start to stop stinking it up.

As some of you may have heard Steven Curtis Chapman, a very popular Christian musician, lost his 5 year old daughter Maria in May in a very tragic accident. He and his wife were on Good Morning America the other day and a friend sent me a link to the interview. Although our situations are totally different and I have no idea what they are going through I saw a similarity in the way that he and his wife are handling their loss to how Ali and I are handling it. He seemed to be the strength, the one directing his family in Hope while in the public eye and his wife Mary Beth was so honest and beautiful and said, “I don’t care whose lives are touched or whose lives are changed by this story, at the heart of a Mom, I want Maria back.” These words just struck me to the very core and confirmed even more concretely that Ali’s heart just wants Cate back and there is nothing that I can do, nothing I can write, nothing on this earth that will change this. I have been so short with Ali lately, it doesn’t matter what she does, I get frustrated and yet I too feel like I can’t do anything right either. I find myself being very selfish, instead of generous, impatient, instead of patient, and harsh, instead of gentle. Then when I am finished being all of these things, usually within a period of five minutes I am frustrated with myself because of it, but it feels almost impossible to be anything else.

As interview went on they talked to Steven and Mary Beth’s three older children and their oldest Emily said, “Grief is this windy road I feel like sometimes you turn a corner and you’ve got a straight away and its beautiful and then you can turn a corner at the end of that straight away and its thunderstorms and mountains and it can be hard and even within the same day.” I think that young lady is wise beyond her years I feel like our lives right now are like those road signs that you see in the mountains that have a wavy line with an arrow on the top pointing up. I just feel like there are a lot of corners that we must go through before we get to where that arrow is point, up. Right now it does not feel like there are many straight aways and that is what I am finding that very difficult. There just seems to be no rest for the weary… right now. The other night was a particularly rough night for all of us and I found myself as I was putting the kids to bed lying in bed with Dude and I called Ella over to come lay down with us. I proceeded to apologize and to ask there forgiveness for the brunt that they often bear because we can quickly take out our anger on them. I explained that mommy and daddy were just having a hard time right now and that it was not in anyway their fault and that we were very sorry for the times that we treated them unfairly, to which Ella said, awe dad, we love yall, can I go get back in my bed NOW! Kids! Even last night we were over at the in-laws having dinner to celebrate family birthdays and after a while I just had enough and I felt like if I stayed any longer I was going to unleash a fury of words that would not have benefited anyone so what did I do in all my wisdom? Walked out of the door and walked home.

I am not sure where this particular blog is going, but for me it had to come out, as you know this is my therapy of sorts. I just ask that you continue to diligently pray for us as we continue to grieve the loss of Cate. I know that things will change and I know with confidence that God will heal our broken hearts. It is just the interim that is difficult. So with dirt filled nails that are clinging to foot of the cross we ask that you remain with us. Much Love, The Cantrells

I am attaching the link to the Chapman Family interview if you would like to check it out.
You will need to copy and paste this into your address bar at the top of you browser. Please keep the Chapman family in your prayers as well.

Also if anyone would still like a Baby Cate Prayer Card just let me know by emailing me at

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mountain Tops

Greetings to All! As I ate my lunch today I was reading the Mass readings for today and reflecting on the Gospel. Today’s Gospel is from Mt 17:1-9 in which Jesus goes up on the mountain with Peter, James, and John and before their very eyes he is transfigured into all of His Glory and Jesus is conversing with Moses and Elijah. What a sight this must have been for Peter, James and John? The joy they must have felt as right before their eyes they were seeing Jesus in His Glory, not to mention Moses and Elijah were there. It had to be a total confirmation of everything that Jesus had told them and of everything that they had truly placed their faith in. Peter was so excited he did not want to leave nor did he want anyone else to leave. He offered to build tents for all of them and they could stay on the mountain forever.

Isn’t that how we all feel so often? Having been involved with church ministry for a number of years now, I have often used this particular scripture passage while ministering to teenagers, especially after they come back from a retreat or conference. Explaining to them that whatever event they were on and however powerful it might have been, that we cannot stay on the mountain, that our life is not like that all the time. No matter how bad we want to stay on the mountain, although all of us would really like to, life just does not work like that for us either. I believe that God gives us all these mountain top experiences in order to show us His Glory and His Power, and Jesus is our perfect example, yet again and in the words of my wife, “That Jesus, He is so clever!” Jesus Himself shows us that we have the mountain top experiences and they are good and that it is necessary for us to hear from our Father in heaven that, We are His beloved Sons and Daughters, in whom He is well pleased. Isn’t awesome? That even Jesus needed to hear these words and have this experience in order that He might have the strength, courage, and perseverance to come down the mountain and to walk up the hill to Calvary.

For Ali and I our life together has been filled with many mountain top experiences, individually and together as a couple. God has done marvelous things in our lives to show us that we are His beloved Son and Daughter, in whom He is well pleased. There have been real moments where He has revealed Himself, His Power, His Beauty, and His Faithfulness to us and there is part of me that wonders if it is partly because He knew the mountain that we would have to climb with Cate and her death. I firmly believe that these experiences along with our faith are what continue to root us deeply into the heart of God right now. I would think that as Jesus walked the road to Calvary that those words, “This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” were echoing deep in His Sacred Heart. It was these words that enable him to get up again and again after he fell. Similarly, but on a MUCH smaller scale, I know that this is what is carrying Ali and me right now. We are reminded of the mountain top experiences in our lives where we have truly witnessed for ourselves the power of God before our very own eyes. Since Cate’s death when it is has been difficult and we have had trouble hearing God or being reminded of His faithfulness, We have had our own Simon, who helped Jesus carry his Cross, come into our lives and speak those words of the Father into our hearts that we cannot hear at that moment because the shouts of hurt, angry, and sadness get so loud at times.

I thank you Jesus for not staying on the mountain that day. I thank you for coming down and accepting the will of the Father so that we all might receive Salvation. I pray Lord that you will continue to remind Ali and I of the mountain tops in our lives as we walk in this valley of the shadow of Death. But even more than that I pray that we might not only see You on the mountain but that we might see You even clearer and even nearer as we walk in this valley. May we all follow Christ up the mountain and then follow Him all the way to Calvary. I love you Lord, help me to love you more. Much Love, The Cantrells

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)