Saturday, July 26, 2008


Seth mentioned to me the other day that he had received an e-mail about his ten-year high school reunion. Of course, he isn't going. The Gators have a big football game that week-end, and Seth doesn't have a problem with divided loyalties. His loyalties are orange and blue, all the way!

Last week, I noticed that some women were blogging about what they were doing ten years ago. I thought about Seth's high school graduation and all the other things that were going on that summer.

I also decided to think of ten things going on in my life ten years ago. Here's my list. Feel free to list ten things going on in your life ten years ago under the comment section or write a post of your own with your ten things! I thought it would be fun to share.


1. Seth graduated from high school.

2. Ethan played golf. And played golf. And played golf.

3. We took Seth to orientation at UF while Ethan stayed in Mobile with family to play in a golf tournament. I recall Jim got a speeding ticket on the trip, taking us to Gainesville "the old way!"

4. Seth said good-bye to his faithful, or should I say unfaithful, jeep.

and hello to a new Honda.

5. Ethan and I brought a new puppy home from Mobile. We called Jim and told him we were bringing home a surprise. I probably wouldn't suggest you surprise your husband like that. However, Jim will agree that it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Here is our Bayley Marie as a puppy. Her eyes aren't blue. They're brown like her mother's...that would be me.

6. We went out in the boat, where I'm sure I acquired many of the wrinkles that I wear today.

7. I can guarantee you that I was on a diet. Just like nine years ago. And eight years ago. And seven years ago. And............

8. We were definitely going to the beach a lot. I know, because I wanted to do everything one more time before Seth went to school. Here, I also acquired wrinkles.

9. We shopped. Made lists. Shopped some more. Made more lists. Seth was the first person to go to school away from home. We took him to Gainesville, moved him in and shopped some more!

10. And the one thing that I wish I had been doing, I wasn't. I wasn't trusting God. I wasn't seeking Him.

You're probably saying, "What a strange thing to say." But I figured, if you went through all of the other nine things going on in my life ten years ago, you at least deserved to know the truth.

I have many, many regrets in my life. But that one, by far, is the greatest.

For a long time after Ethan was hurt, I carried around a lot of guilt and shame. Not for what Ethan had done. But for what I had done. Running away from God. Not seeking the truth.

I was in a huge pit. I knew I was struggling. I knew I was stuck. As gracious as God had been to me since Ethan's accident, all I could feel was complete sadness. After all God had given me, I just felt total loss. I couldn't allow myself to ever be happy again. To enjoy the gifts God had given me. Especially the most amazing gift, of having Ethan given back to us.

I read Beth Moore's book, Get Out of the Pit. I attended her simulcast about getting out of the pit. About freedom. I had done Bible studies. I tried to be thankful. I tried to worship. But nothing helped.

So just like David did in his Psalms, I cried out to God. I asked Him to please tell me what is wrong with me? What is holding me back? What is keeping me from the joy and the peace He had promised?

Well, just like with David, He heard and He answered.

And I didn't like what He had to say. He showed me that I liked being in my pit. It felt right. Like it was where I belonged. He showed me that I had decorated my pit with memories of all my failures. Everything wrong I had ever done as a mother. I had placed Post-Its all throughout my mind with notes to myself. Notes telling me that my not trusting God had led to Ethan's poor choices. Notes that reminded me that the child He had entrusted me with, I had hurt. I had let down. I saw that punishing myself somehow made me feel better. How could I be happy? How could I experience joy? How could I when my child had lost so much?

So, I told Him I thought I would just stay where I was. If being free meant leaving my guilt behind, I would just stay in bondage. To me, letting it go meant saying that what had happened to Ethan didn't matter. And it did. More than I could ever say. Instead of wearing a badge of honor, I proudly displayed my badge of dishonor.

That lasted a couple of days. A couple of miserable, tear-soaked-pillow days. The truth sets us free. And He had given me the truth. Staying where I was, was no longer an option. But, I had become attached to the shame. It was a part of me. Just like a vine grows deep into the trunk of a tree, my shame had grown into me. I had earned it. It was a banner I had hung over myself.

And then I did it. Crouching down on the floor, in a corner of my bedroom, I gave up. I didn't ask Him to help me to get out the pit. I asked Him to help me to want to get out of the pit. I asked Him to help me to want to be free of it all.

And do you know what? The freedom came before the desire. It came in asking for the desire. I can't explain it. Somehow the guilt and shame were gone.

Oh yes. I have regrets. I always will. I haven't forgotton my mistakes. I don't pretend like I'm not hurt. I don't pretend like I wouldn't love to have the chance to do it all over again. I won't tell you that as I looked back at these pictures of Ethan, that I didn't fight back a few tears. God has heard me say, "I want my baby back" so many times, that He probably looks at me like a proud daddy and says, "That Cheri. She sure knows how to be persistent."

Can I explain how He took it away? I can't. How do you explain grace? The grace we sometimes show each other, maybe. His grace, impossible.

I think Henri Nouwen describes what happened to me, better than I can. From his book, Turn My Mourning Into Dancing:

"When our gratitude for the past is only partial, our hope for the future can likewise never be full. But our submitting to God's pruning work will not ultimately leave us sad, but hopeful for what can happen in us and through us. Harvestime will bring its own blessings. I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us to say, "Everything is grace." As long as we remain resentful about things we wish had not happened, about relationships that we wish had turned out differently, mistakes we wish we had not made, part of our heart remains isolated, unable to bear fruit in the new life ahead of us. It is a way we hold part of ourselves from God." (emphasis mine)

That's what I had done. I had held part of myself from God. The part I hated. The part that hurt Ethan. And I don't ever want to do it again.

So I say, "Everything is grace. There's nothing in my past or my future that isn't covered by His grace."

The Redeemer has done what He came to do. He has redeemed.


  1. I have said this many times and I will say it again . . . you need to write a book. This is one of your best for it sums up our walk with HIM . . . It's all about HIS Grace HIM allowing us to share that grace with others. Love you and Have a great week.

  2. All I can say is WOW!!! Thank you for sharing your heart - you are a testimony to what a great God we have. Love, SF

  3. This post blessed me today, as it often does. Love you~