Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wood and Nails

Greetings to all. I just want to start out by thanking everyone, especially our family and friends, who are in our everyday life, not to exclude all you readers in far away lands, but in a way fortunately you only have to read my words of messiness and don’t have to be knee deep in them. Ali and I hit a big wall Saturday evening and it was not a pretty experience and that is putting it lightly. Close friends and family were around and unfortunately they got dragged into the middle of our chaotic grief explosion. Though it actually ended with what will be a fruitful outcome, for the people left in our wake my heart hurts and all I can say to them is, “I ask your forgiveness?” As I met with my counselor last Friday we talked about the messiness and chaos of my life right now. A metaphor came to me to be able to put into words what I feel like and I wanted to share it with you all.

As Hurricane Gustav approached South Louisiana one of my brothers and I shipped our families off to other states and decided to ride out the storm with another close brother of ours and his family. We all stayed at one of their houses for the storm because there were not any big trees threatening to fall and crush the house we were sheltered in. In front of his house, his cousin is in the process of building his home right now and on the side of his new house he is building a large wooden outdoor storage shed. It was all framed up with two by fours but no walls and no roof were put on yet. It was the skeleton of what was to become a really nice outdoor storage shed. My brothers and I looked at the shed and shook our heads because we knew the storm was coming and that there was a really good chance that the frame of this soon to be really nice shed was probably not going to make it through the storm. As the storm’s eye approached us the winds began to blow like nothing I have ever experienced in my adult life. The walls of the house were making cracking noises the cars outside where actually shaking from side to side. I walked to the window and saw that in fact the shed had been blown completely down, not a single board was left standing. It was a pile of jumbled lumber, some broken, some not, nails sticking out everywhere, simply, it was a mess.

I told my counselor that the shed represented my life. I finally felt like I had a vision of where God was leading me and my family long term. I had a great marriage with a wonderful wife, we were setting our eyes on the future. We were about to start a new decade of our lives truly moving into a more “adult” time. We had three beautiful children with plans for one or two more down the road. I was no longer in full time youth ministry so I was being able to spend a lot more time with my family. I was in a job that I not only enjoyed but financially we were doing ok for the first time. I had the best friends a guy could ask for and this group of guys was really moving in a direction of life long friendships.

Our building was getting framed up, the plans were being laid out and we had a skeleton of a great life framed up, knowing that we would continue to add on to it as the years went on. Well, my little family experienced its own hurricane and it has blown our little studded up shed completely down. Ali and I found ourselves standing over the splintered plans, dreams, and visions just starring in disbelief, anger, and sadness. We keep walking around it wondering, “what do we do now?” We don’t have any tools, energy, or expertise to even begin rebuilding, at least not right now. We get so angry that everything that we had worked to build has been lost, we get angry because we really liked that shed and what it was going to become. We could see ourselves in 20 years playing with our grandkids in that shed and now we are realizing that we are going to have build a new and different one.

When people come around to help us take nails out of the boards so we can stack them to get a new plan, we don’t know how to act sometimes. We are so angry that we are even having to do this that we turn on each other and/or whoever is there to help. We know it’s not right, we just can’t control it at times. It is scary to think that the people who want to help the most and who aren’t afraid to come in to the danger zone of broken boards and sharp nails poking out everywhere are the ones who often get the brunt of our anger, through little or no fault of their own. Lately I fear that eventually people will just stop coming around to help us because it is just too messy and too big of a project. The foundation is still there is just hard to see right now because it is covered up with debris from a storm that we never saw coming and had no time to prepare for.

There will come a time in the future, hopefully nearer than farther that we will begin to rebuild this little shed we call our lives. Our vision and our plans will have to be different than they were before. Maybe this time instead of a wooden building we will rebuild a nice strong metal building that will be able to withstand storms that comes our way. I ask that you all, especially those who have shown up to help us in the rebuilding effort be patient with us. We truly and whole heartedly ask forgiveness for the messiness of our life right now, it just is what it is, but I thank you for your continued perseverance and patience. We will rebuild and we will be stronger with God’s grace, strength, and forgiveness. Much Love, The Cantrell’s


kati said...

the little framed up shed was actually next to the house that survived the storm. that might be a great place to take a little shelter... thinking of you guys as always...

Anonymous said...

"forgiveness is the fragrance of the flower that still holds fast to the heel that crushed it."

praying for the Lord to fill you with his peace as you continue to walk through the debris of the storm. you will rebuild, slowly but surely. and you will be stronger because of it. your heart will still hurt but you will find a way to live, because God has a wonderful future for you guys..filled with hope and joy!

much love to you all!!
ben, maria, and girls

Anonymous said...

Sorry I haven't posted in a while...please know that y'all remain in my daily thoughts & prayers! Hugs to all :)

Anonymous said...

Charlie and Ali,
There are so many people that wish that we could all take this pain away from your family and rebuild the "shed" for you. Last night I was in a bad mood and I listening to my Itunes and "you never let go" came on by Matt Redman. I downloaded it after Cate was laid to rest and everytime I hear it I think of you guys...there are some lyrics in the song that make me always feel better when I feel hopeless, stressed or sad and I want to share them with you: "And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on...a glorious light beyond all compare. And there will be an end to these troubles but until that day comes we’ll live to know You here on the earth"
I have faith and will keep praying that one day things will get easier for you guys and I too hope that this time is sooner rather than later...love you! Erin Dawson

Anonymous said...

we hurt with you. And while we know that doesn't mean we take the hurt away, we also hope you know in your hearts that we are walking in this darkness too...with hope that just around the next turn, we will see a horizon not far off...which encourages us to take just...one..more...step. In hope. We CLING with you. And again, we thank you. In the midst of what we are about to face (wed. 9am), we carry YOUR strength with us. we KNOW THAT WE KNOW THAT WE KNOW that God is using your weakness to carry US! There IS purpose. I promise to fulfill it in our lives and in our brokenness. We love you all.

I am in awe of the conversation i GOT to have with Ali on saturday. I am grateful to share a broken but LOVING moment with her/you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Charlie,
We will most likely never meet, but until the day comes that your shed is vacated due to yours and your family's departure to our Lords Palace I will continue to pray for structural support. As you continue to grieve and heal those of us far away will continue to lift you up in prayer and love. May God send His mercy to you like a hurricane and wash away/tear away the pain and desperation. JESUS I TRUST IN YOU! YSIC,Melanie

Anonymous said...

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

Always in our thoughts and prayers.

Love, Papa Jim and family

Lila Lambert said...

Charlie and Ali and family you have every right to be devastated, to feel that the most sacred and cherished thing in the world was torn from your life....how could you be any different at this time or for that matter ever be the same!!! I know that the only thing you want right now is to have Cate back, and that no consolation on this earth can ease the pain of such a loss....I just pray in the deep recesses of our being there rests our Lord and that He will show you The Way, it may be different from our plan, but His life was wretched with pain and suffering and He will direct our path...We wouldn't hurt so badly if Cate had not touched us so deeply. She was so special and changed us all for the better...we looked at her and saw Him....

Anonymous said...

Please know that we will always be here for you guys through anything. I will continue to pray for all of you. God Bless!!!

God BLess
Crystal JUdice

Anonymous said...

Charlie & Ali,

You know what is amazing about lumber and nails? You can start out thinking you will build a shed, the wind can knock the shed down, and you can re-use the same materials, with God's help, to create something even more grand! Since Chris & I volunteer with Habitat each Saturday, I can tell you first-hand that no matter the plans (for a house, for your life), there is always a little art along with the science since things never really go together like you planned...and that together with your friends and family, you can build community larger than you can imagine on your own...like a magnificent home, a church, or the kingdom.

I've got my tool belt ready...let me know if you need to borrow the nail puller, the hammer, or some bright, shiny nails to help construct what's next.

We love you more than you can imagine!

Claire said...

i just wanted to say that i love yall.
that's all :-)

Kristin Boudreaux said...

To rebuild what was blown away in an instant.....where do we even begin? We, too, keeping looking at our new construction plans for life and are confused most days.

Live and breathe the chaos of your blown down shed. The time for rebuilding will just happen upon you over time. One day you will step back, like I so often have, and wonder "How did that wall or roof even get there?" The living spirit of our precious daughters will give us the strength to continue to lift the heavy hammers.

Love to you, your beautiful wife & family,
Kristin & Bryan Boudreaux

Anonymous said...

I think sometimes, that the "shock" of the storm leaves us motionless...like a numb state...and the only thing to do is to "be" in that state.
That can look so messy and so confusing at times, and of course, the ripple effect hits everyone around us. You can't rebuild, because your arms are just hanging numb at your side...picking up a hammer is next to impossible. The beauty of it, is that people love you through it...God graces you through it. Asking for forgiveness is just a formality....it was granted before you even opened your mouth. We love you guys, we pray for you every day....keep persevering, He loves you like crazy!

Anonymous said...

praying that the Master Builder (who was indeed a carpenter on this earth too) will reveal a little of His plan to you soon.. to give you a little peace...His foundation is strong...rebuild on that

we love you...there is not a day that goes by when we don't think and pray for you guys

the bermans

Julie said...

Charlie, Ali, and family,
You are all still in my prayers daily. I pray for you to have strength, faith, hope, and courage in this time of pain. I know that our Father is with you.
Much love,
Julie Roy

Anonymous said...

fifteen thousand people. seriously.

Lila Lambert said...

Though the shed may come down....the One that the builders rejected has become the Cornerstone...and He holds fast

Anonymous said...

Hi Charlie and Allie,

Just wanted to let you know that you are always in my prayers. Today, is October 15, Remembering our babies day! Go to www.October15th.com. A picture of Cate is placed on my computer desk as a constant reminder that she is such a beautiful angel. Send me your email address when you can to jvdbank@centurytel.net. How home is always open to you and your family.

Bartas in Texas said...

Whether or not you realize it, God is truly working through you and your family. You shed so much light on us that it is evident that our Great God is building a 'master plan' within you. We don't expect perfectness now, or ever. We love you for coming to us in your brokenness and for being willing to share your lives and heartache with each of us. We're here for the long-haul. We have no where else to go.

all our love,
Courtney & Jeremy

And 154K, not 15K ;) ALL of us are here with you.

Unknown said...

Hey you! I'm not afraid to come around you and Ali...no way...and I have a great big hammer. Just sent you a message on facebook. Please read and then let me hear from you! Love love love!

Anonymous said...

We are here - are prayers are there with you.
Tricia and Nick