Participants: Cheri Peters (Host), Cheryl McGuinnes
Series Code: CLR
Program Code: CLR00037A
00:09 Welcome to celebrate life in recovery.
00:11 I'm Cheri your host.
00:12 Today a want to introduce you to a friend of mine who
00:15 changed the way I look at forgiveness and healing.
00:17 Come join us and I pray that it changes you to.
00:47 This is my favorite part of the show, well actually I
00:50 always say that in the second half.
00:53 But we are going to do the second half the first half.
00:55 Does that may sense to anybody?
00:56 We are going to start out with the interview
00:58 right from the beginning.
00:59 I have a friend of mine here Cheryl McGuinness.
01:01 Cheryl I just want to say, I have been wanting you
01:04 on the show since we started.
01:05 Really - yeah.
01:07 Because you blessed me you've changed my life.
01:09 I'm excited to be here, I really am.
01:11 I have in my recovery, I work with a lot of people at
01:16 risk, a lot of people dealing with some heavy issues.
01:19 Coming out of drug addition, sex addiction and
01:22 dysfunctional homes, and all that kind of stuff.
01:24 And I'm so focused on that usually that I don't think
01:27 that there are people dealing with issues that
01:30 aren't from necessarily for most backgrounds.
01:32 But they get hit just as hard but in a whole different way.
01:35 So I would just like to who are you, not who are
01:39 you from when you got hit, but who are you, who were
01:42 you before all that happened?
01:43 Well, thank you for recognizing that Cheri, because so
01:46 many people, think that I am just
01:48 somebody since September eleventh, and I'm not
01:52 I'm a full person.
01:53 I started long ago, being a full person.
01:57 So thanks for the opportunity to share.
01:58 I've a regular family, I have three sisters we fight
02:05 like cats and dogs.
02:06 And I grew up in this Italian, Catholic home and it is
02:11 just normal stuff.
02:13 I met my husband when I was sixteen years old.
02:16 And we were high school sweethearts and fell in love.
02:21 Went to the junior prom.
02:22 He asked me to the senior prom actually just two days before.
02:25 What was he like?
02:27 In high school, I mean, what was he like?
02:30 Quiet-I bet that he was adorable?
02:31 He was adorable, he was quiet, he was shy.
02:34 He was athletic, had regular friends, you know there was-
02:42 Were you guys Christian then?
02:44 I came to know the Lord when I was thirteen years old.
02:48 And he was born and raised a Catholic.
02:51 We dated and fell in love and got married.
03:01 He entered the Navy and pursued that,
03:05 and was doing very well.
03:07 He was a top gun fighter pilot, kind of that dreamy
03:12 like woo Hoo, wow!
03:15 I can see that women were going like, oh how fun was that!
03:17 And you guys had some kids.
03:20 Yeah, I had two children-a boy and a girl perfect.
03:23 Jennifer and Tommy great, you know, I had one of each.
03:26 They didn't gang up on a us and I went through all the
03:30 normal stuff.
03:31 I had a career of my own, I was a manager in human
03:35 resources for a large company.
03:37 Lived away from my family were I was born and raised.
03:43 Moved away with him, started my career,
03:47 and he pursued his career.
03:49 Raised a couple of children and had all the struggles
03:53 that a family raising a young family brings.
03:58 Would you do, how do you afford to live on one income.
04:02 Well, you don't, you're used to a duel income and all
04:05 the challenges that come from having a dual income.
04:10 Raising children, my children were in daycare.
04:13 I'm almost embarrassed to say that they were in daycare
04:16 longer than I really would like to admit.
04:20 But they were there for hours, what were we to do?
04:23 You know we needed two incomes to live.
04:25 Which is really no different than it is today, but that
04:28 brings a whole set of challenges.
04:29 So what you are saying, we love each other we had a
04:32 normal life, just a normal life.
04:36 Normal struggles, on normal life living.
04:39 One day he is at work, you are doing a Bible study.
04:50 Yeah, I was doing a Bible study, doing my devotions
04:55 like I did every day.
04:56 One day my phone rang, and Tom was at work
05:01 like he usually is.
05:02 He had left the military, went into the airlines,
05:04 worked for American Airlines.
05:06 I took the kids to school, was out on my back deck doing my
05:12 homework for my Bible study that I was in at the time.
05:15 And I thought well, the phones ringing,
05:18 I ran in to answer it.
05:20 It was a friend asking to speak with, Tom.
05:23 I said he isn't home, he is on a trip.
05:25 He kept me on the phone, and that was kind of strange
05:29 because you know usually it's he isn't home he's on a trip,
05:32 I'll tell him you called.
05:33 But he kept me on the phone and we kind of
05:36 went back and forth.
05:37 And he said to you know what's going on in the world?
05:40 And I thought-what is he talking about.
05:42 To think I'm just sitting here eating bon bons, watching
05:45 TV all day long?
05:47 And I said no.
05:49 And he said well, a plane has been hijacked.
05:51 I thought what, where this is America planes don't get
05:55 hijacked here in America.
05:57 That kind of happens in other parts of the world
06:00 but not here.
06:01 After he told me that I found my television.
06:06 You went and turned on the TV?
06:07 Yeah, and I'm trying to find all the buttons to turn the
06:09 TV on with this thing to see what is going on.
06:12 All of a sudden I saw these images on television.
06:17 I'm thinking, this can't be Tom wouldn't
06:20 be involved with this.
06:21 I can't imagine that.
06:23 And before you know it, things got so crazy in my house.
06:27 People out of the blue, my neighbors, friends, people
06:32 from church, just started appearing at my house.
06:36 I'm thinking, what are you doing here,
06:38 what are you doing?
06:39 And you want to scream and say this has
06:43 nothing to do with us.
06:45 I had no idea what people were doing and I thought how
06:47 bizarre that everybody showing up at my house.
06:49 Because my husband certainly isn't involved with this.
06:53 But then my phone started ringing off the hook.
06:57 My children were calling me from school to find
07:01 out if dad was okay.
07:03 I started calling his pager, his cell phone.
07:08 All the emergency crew tracking numbers that he had left
07:11 with me in case something ever happened.
07:13 And I start calling all these things right!
07:16 Right, No responses.
07:18 No responses, what's going on, I can usually get him
07:20 And there was no response American airlines
07:25 had me on hold.
07:26 Then all of a sudden I saw the black car pull up to the
07:32 end of my driveway.
07:33 And I thought this can't be happening.
07:37 And I kind of put my hands up to say no - - stop.
07:42 Don't go, if I don't look at this black car,
07:47 maybe it's not really happening.
07:48 But three men got out of the car, and one of them was
07:52 the chief pilot from American airlines.
07:54 And he came up to my door and knocked, he came in.
07:59 I'm saying just go away, go away.
08:02 But he didn't so he came in.
08:04 I would just, I could just feel that sense of wanting to
08:07 scream, everybody stopped this is not my life, this is
08:11 not happening to us.
08:12 In my mind, and I think audibly I was screaming.
08:18 And just this isn't it.
08:20 But he didn't go away, he came in, he sat down.
08:23 I remember looking at him do you have something to say.
08:29 Even he was speechless as to how to say what
08:34 he had to deliver.
08:35 How to I tell her?
08:36 I was almost rude.
08:39 When I was saying do you have something to say to me?
08:42 It's like who are you sitting in my living room to, do
08:44 you have something to say to me.
08:45 He was like, you know, because there was these people
08:50 all around me.
08:51 And I'm thinking what can he possibly have to say to me.
08:54 I don't even know this man, He was pilot from
08:56 American Airlines.
08:58 He came in, and he said flight eleven,
09:00 your husband was on flight eleven.
09:02 It was flown into the World Trade Center, it was
09:07 hijacked, crashed and there were no survivors.
09:10 And I just started screaming hysterically.
09:14 There was another man, he was the pastor of my church.
09:17 Just holding me, hold me and I was just beating on
09:21 him, no, no, no.
09:23 God please don't call him home, don't call him home.
09:28 Just screaming that out hysterically.
09:32 You know, what is really interesting to me is that I
09:36 can't imagine coming up with the next thought.
09:39 Do you know what I mean?
09:40 It's like everything is ripped from me, what is the next
09:44 thought, what is the next breath, what do I do next?.
09:46 All I can think about it was after I caught my breath.
09:51 At that moment was my children.
09:54 Oh my gosh, my children, they are seeing this, they're
09:57 going to hear this.
09:59 So I quickly realized that I had to go tell my children
10:04 the same news that I had just heard.
10:07 And I thought how am I going to say, this,
10:10 what am I going to say.
10:11 So some dear friends drove me to their school right away.
10:15 My children-how old were they at this time?
10:18 They were fourteen and sixteen years old.
10:20 Tommy was fourteen, and he came into the principals
10:23 office first and then Jennifer.
10:26 They knew by the look on my face that I had horrible
10:30 news to share.
10:32 And I held them how we cried in just shock.
10:37 You know, we just melted and held each other.
10:41 And all I can say is Jesus will take care of us.
10:45 I didn't know how, I didn't know what we needed,
10:49 but all I can think of that moment is God
10:52 would take care of us.
10:53 Because of your faith was there just a
10:56 sense of knowing that?
10:57 Or were you just saying that to comfort them,
10:59 do you know?
11:00 No, that was the only thing in this whole world
11:02 that you knew- yeah that I knew.
11:05 Because when everything was ripped away the way
11:08 that it was, and I was a strong woman,
11:11 fairly strong and confident, secure.
11:14 I could take care situations I could take care of life.
11:20 But at that moment there was nothing that I could in
11:26 this world-would you pull from the strength I have,
11:29 because I was unprepared for this.
11:31 Yes, there was no strength, there was nothing in this
11:34 world that could possibly help except God was going to
11:39 have take care of us.
11:41 That is all that I could say to my children.
11:42 When you guys, because I'm sure they left with you,
11:47 yes, we left, we left.
11:49 And you know every single time you turn around, I mean,
11:54 I can't even imagine you being able to turn the TV on, and
11:57 turn around without somebody there trying to help.
12:01 I would still just want to scream, and now I can even
12:07 take this in, I don't want to take this in.
12:09 What happened, what was the next few days,
12:13 few weeks, few months.
12:14 In many ways it was a blur, our house filled with people.
12:20 There was things that were flooding, there were flowers,
12:24 my house, it was packed with flowers.
12:27 They just kept coming with flowers and fruit baskets.
12:30 People kept coming by that I didn't even know.
12:33 Television and cameras crews were at the end of my driveway.
12:37 They put up blockades on my street to keep the police
12:40 and the camera crews out.
12:42 It was such a scene that I was trying to protect my
12:49 children not even knowing what was going on.
12:52 You know, I forgot all about that because Tom, being the
12:57 pilot, I bet there were crews everywhere.
12:58 Somebody wanting to know, what you think, what you're
13:03 going through in no one in that first thing.
13:05 Tom was a very quiet man, didn't like any attention at
13:10 all, in fact, he would say if you're using my name for
13:16 God's glory okay do it, but beyond that I would be
13:18 really mad at you now, if you are talking about me.
13:20 For any other reason then bring glory to God.
13:24 He was a very quiet man.
13:25 So when you said that it was hard, I mean, even doing
13:31 normal things, getting up feeding your kids.
13:33 How did you start to stand up again?
13:38 How did that normal stuff start to happen?
13:42 You know, it didn't turn normal for a couple years
13:45 after, and it was a very slow arduous process of
13:50 healing that happened after.
13:52 It started, with I think, accepting help from people.
13:57 Being able to say please help.
14:03 Because you know, the natural process of us protecting
14:07 ourselves, if I don't accept it, if I don't hear you,
14:10 if I don't let you speak then maybe it
14:11 doesn't have to happen.
14:13 Maybe I can make it somehow not happen it will just go
14:15 away, go away a want to be normal again.
14:18 I want my life normal again.
14:19 That's what we wanted, but realizing that what wasn't
14:24 going to happen, and hitting rock bottom.
14:27 I don't believe I hit rock bottom when I
14:30 first heard the news.
14:31 I believe I hit rock bottom a few weeks after.
14:35 I would imagine that you just went into shock when
14:37 you heard the news, the shock I cannot feel my skin,
14:41 don't feel that it's white right now, don't ask me
14:42 to think, because I don't even if I can remember
14:45 how to think right now.
14:46 That is exactly right.
14:48 It wasn't until I hit rock bottom that
14:52 healing really could help.
14:53 And you know you think with all the images on TV,
14:57 and all the talk of September eleventh, and everything
15:00 that happened after, in the wake after, I didn't hit
15:04 rock bottom for weeks if not months.
15:07 What was rock bottom, and what you mean by that?
15:10 You know, I think it was different for me and my
15:13 children, when we each hit rock-bottom.
15:17 And I think for me realizing and dealing with the
15:23 pain of losing a loved one, and what
15:25 they may have gone through.
15:27 When those final moments, thinking through that
15:30 for me was rock-bottom.
15:32 It had nothing else to do except to know the
15:36 final moments of Tom's life.
15:39 What happened was he had a lot of pain, thinking
15:43 through what might have happened in the cockpit
15:45 was my rock-bottom for me.
15:47 I believe that it was different for
15:49 my son and my daughter.
15:50 How was it for them?
15:52 It was hard, it was very hard.
15:54 For different reasons, my son needed his dad to be his
16:01 role model and love him the way that a man does and teach
16:06 him all those manly things.
16:08 All of a sudden, Tommy found himself with people saying
16:12 to him oh you're the new man of the house.
16:14 You are the man of the house and he is fourteen years
16:16 old and he was thinking my dad just started to teach me
16:19 about how to do things and then he is gone.
16:24 Then Tommy felt the weight of how to
16:27 take care of me.
16:28 And I was going through the struggle of I don't want you
16:30 take care of me Tommy, I want to you to live your life.
16:32 A watch to be a child- Be a child.
16:35 Don't feel like you need to take care of everything.
16:37 You know, on top of that, because I am trying to figure
16:42 out how you are pulling all of this together.
16:44 How you are trying to not let them grow up too fast and
16:47 have all this stuff happening around you.
16:49 Because people didn't let you guys go.
16:52 I mean, you were not let go for a second.
16:55 No we weren't, really for me, although it was a
16:59 public tragedy, the public actually embraced us
17:04 as a family and loved us.
17:06 And really, we opened up our heart.
17:10 In many ways to be almost sucked up to the love
17:14 of the nation and the compassion of the nation
17:16 that poured into us.
17:18 So you literally felt that coming back.
17:22 I really did, once I can slowly stand up.
17:27 And it was an up-and-down thing, it wasn't an okay
17:30 I'm standing up. I'm Good.
17:31 It was a long process, very long process for healing.
17:36 To me how it is you get the normal every day things,
17:43 getting up making breakfast, and just doing that routine
17:46 thing, them going back to school.
17:47 I mean all that, I can't imagine any of that happening.
17:52 How do you say okay, now we're going to get up and eat.
17:57 I had to develop a routine, and it's what worked for me.
18:04 Because I really didn't have anybody helping me to say do
18:11 this to that do this.
18:12 But I had to develop a routine that worked, so that when
18:16 I open my eyes in the morning.
18:17 I would get up in the very first thing I would say was,
18:20 Thank you God for a new day.
18:22 Thank you God for helping me through last night, because I
18:25 would have cried myself to sleep.
18:27 And when I woke up, and the night was over, it was
18:30 like thank you God it's another new day, and even if
18:33 there were clouds in the sky I would think.
18:35 Thank you God for a new day.
18:37 And then I would make my bed so I wouldn't crawl
18:41 back into my bed.
18:42 And I would stay out of my bed.
18:45 Literally force yourself on not going back to bed today.
18:49 Right, I would get up and would wake up my children.
18:52 You know, the first time we worked together.
18:54 I remember you saying that to even to do your devotions.
18:57 I couldn't concentrate.
18:58 You know if you gave something to read to give me
19:02 comfort, I couldn't read it.
19:04 All I could do in the beginning was look at picture
19:06 books, the beautiful pictures and think wow this is
19:10 God's creation how beautiful it is.
19:12 I love nature to this day, I love nature.
19:15 It lifts me to be outdoors and seeing God's creation.
19:18 I would take long walks at the beach because it was
19:22 soothing and healing for me to be God's, in nature.
19:25 To me, that was God's creation and I am just that way
19:28 You know!
19:29 So if you were going to encourage someone right now,
19:33 that is struggling with that kind of thing, a death
19:35 of a loved one, especially your partner.
19:37 What would say, is get up every day, make your bed,
19:41 get outside.
19:43 You know from me getting outside, taking one step
19:46 and praising God through it.
19:47 I literally would say thank you God.
19:51 Did you ever get to the point to say God is
19:53 what is up with that.
19:54 Because there was a point, and I don't know if it,
19:56 I love God and He has blessed me through the horrendous
20:01 healing, but there was never a time
20:04 when you said what's up?
20:05 I did, no I did, I went through anger.
20:08 After I did after a point, step-by-step breath by breath
20:12 saying, God I can't breathe.
20:14 Because I would have these awful anxiety and panic
20:16 attacks, and I could just not breath after.
20:19 And I would be saying God fill me with breath,
20:24 because I can't breathe, you know.
20:25 And I as I healed a little bit.
20:28 I found some strength to go to the
20:30 World Trade Center's site.
20:32 But that wasn't until eight months after
20:34 the tragedy happened.
20:36 I had to be there, you know, what before that
20:41 I had no desire, did want to see it.
20:43 I don't want to see all that rubble.
20:45 No, I didn't, but eight months after I felt
20:48 this desire to go.
20:50 I went there the way that it all happened was.
20:55 It was kind of strange because my daughter saw that
21:00 I had all this anxiety inside of me and she said mom,
21:03 what are you nervous about?
21:04 Why are you bothered so much?
21:07 I said because Jennifer I do not know if I'm going to
21:10 relive in my mind all the things that I thought
21:13 I put behind me.
21:15 You know, the plane, what was happening to the people on
21:18 the ground, I didn't want to relive that again.
21:21 I didn't want to have a mental breakdown, and I thought,
21:24 I may be was going to.
21:25 I didn't want to fall apart.
21:26 I didn't want to, I mean, sometimes when you fall
21:28 part you don't know if you're going to come
21:29 back together again.
21:31 When you're reduced to dust particles, as I call it,
21:36 like will I really get stuck together, will my
21:40 heart be like put together again?
21:41 So Jennifer said mom, dad told me once that our body and
21:49 soul fit together like a hand in a glove.
21:51 And she said mom, dad said, when we die that our body
21:56 goes to the ground and then we're with Christ.
21:58 The other next conscious thought is I'm with God.
22:01 Exactly, so, she said mom when you go there know that
22:03 daddy is not there in whatever you see there.
22:06 So I took that and I thought okay, I can go.
22:10 When I was standing there, it was like this pit that
22:14 to me represented the evil of mankind.
22:16 It was the debris of the airplane, the dust of the,
22:20 of the building.
22:21 It was awful, and to me, it represented all the ugliness
22:25 and the sins of mankind.
22:28 But off on the hill, you may recall there was this metal
22:31 structure that was erected by the rescue workers.
22:33 And it was in the shape of a cross.
22:36 And as I'm looking in this pit I also saw to the side
22:40 this cross, and I thought to myself, that God here
22:47 I am at the foot of the cross.
22:49 Here I am Lord, what you want me to do?
22:53 I felt this rage and this anger inside of me.
22:57 It's like God, they murdered my husband,
22:59 my children don't have a dad now.
23:05 And I'm standing here in all this debris.
23:07 And I'm standing here into the ugliness and the evil,
23:09 to me, of all mankind.
23:12 What do you want me to do God?
23:13 And I so clearly heard Him say to me,
23:16 I want you to forgive them.
23:18 And I thought God my life is a mess,
23:22 how can I forgive them?
23:23 He said, it's not easy to forgive them.
23:26 But don't forget Cheryl, my daughter.
23:29 I for gave you.
23:31 I went through pain and suffering for your sins.
23:36 I thought God, You know, You're right, You did, You died
23:41 for me and You took all my sins and You for gave me.
23:44 And if you are my Lord, I bow down and surrender my
23:48 life to You than how can I not forgive the terrorist?
23:53 For murdering and causing me and my children,
23:56 all this evil, and our nation.
23:58 But I wasn't to the nation part, yet it was personal.
24:02 It was like I need to get out of this place.
24:04 So I say God, I truly do surrender my life to you again,
24:12 and with every breath that I have, that You give to me,
24:16 I will serve You every day of my life.
24:19 If You will help me forgive the people, the men,
24:23 women, the country.
24:25 Whoever did this, if you will help me to forgive the
24:28 terrorists for what they did.
24:30 Then I will serve you because You are my Lord.
24:34 And I serve You and no matter what
24:36 happens here on earth.
24:38 No matter what people do to me, no matter what
24:41 brings me to my knees Lord, You are my Lord.
24:45 I was serve you with every breath You give to me
24:48 but help me to forgive the terrorists.
24:50 So let me just ask you now, because in that moment,
24:52 and I had those moments where God so present that saying
24:57 that you know He is going to do it.
24:59 You know that He is going to follow through, you know
25:01 that He is going to give you the ability and teach you
25:04 how to forgive.
25:05 With that process like because when you
25:06 walk away that moment.
25:07 You're saying, what was I saying.
25:08 I don't even know how to forgive, I don't have
25:10 that much, I'm not capable of doing that.
25:14 So how did God teach you?
25:17 God taught me moment by moment, day by day, that
25:24 as I lived, and as I prayed out to God every day.
25:29 Help me to forgive the terrorists for what they did.
25:32 Strengthen me Lord.
25:33 So you literally, and this is just for people that are
25:36 struggling with that are watching us Cheryl, they are
25:38 saying, You know what.
25:39 I've had different issues, I've had molest issues,
25:43 someone murdered my daughter, or I lost a child,
25:47 or I had an abortion, or whatever and forgiveness
25:50 is forgiveness, is forgiveness.
25:51 We are looking at your story, but I'm thinking
25:53 anybody that has to deal with forgiveness, you
25:56 are saying, say out loud.
25:58 I forgive the terrorists.
26:01 I forgive the person that raped or molested me.
26:04 I forgive and your saying say it out loud,
26:06 at first did you feel it?
26:08 Did you feel that?
26:10 No, no, I was afraid to say it at first.
26:13 I was afraid, and I think it was more
26:16 my anger and my fear.
26:20 Because you want somebody to pay first-yeah.
26:22 I did I really did it first.
26:25 It's like this isn't fair, this happened to me and
26:28 I am an innocent victim.
26:29 My children are innocent, why us?
26:32 You know what I'm going to jump in, because I'm going to
26:35 go ahead were going to take a break and come back.
26:37 I don't want to cut this process short, because the next
26:43 thing that you discovered about God and forgiveness
26:46 literally changed my life.
26:47 Change the way a look at things, change the way,
26:49 because I thought there's certain things in my life
26:53 that I just can't forgive.
26:54 In the first time I listened to Cheryl talk about what
26:59 happened to Tom, and what happened to the family.
27:01 I realize God stop me from ever say that again.
27:04 Forgiveness is something that God teaches us.
27:08 We are not capable in and of ourselves, but man
27:11 does it bring joy and healing into your life and
27:14 God knows that so.
27:15 Stay with us and we're are going to come back and
27:17 look at this whole thing about forgiveness.
27:18 Further stay with Cheryl on her journey, and just be
27:23 blessed, be blessed.
27:25 We will be right back!