HOLIDAYS AND SEASONS

June 7, 2017

 

EXCERPTS FROM THE EDITOR’S MESSAGE
BREVARD TCF NEWSLETTERS
HOLIDAYS AND SEASONS
2014
BY
VICKIE VAN ANTWERP

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is coming soon and we will honor those lost in the many wars our nation has fought. If you grew up during the Vietnam War you may know someone that fell during that long war. In order not to forget, small towns all over the country will conduct parades and services for our fallen heroes.

In our world, as bereaved parents, Memorial Day does not come once a year but every day as we remember and honor our children. Our services may be of the heart but they are just as real and important to us as any large scale celebration could ever be.

As the years pass our daily services might change, but they remain grounded in the love we have for our sons and daughters. They remain a “parent’s tribute” to the one that could light up our life with joy and make us smile in the darkest times.

We celebrate their lives every time we mention their name, help another in honor of them, light a candle to show their light still shines, arrange their picture on the wall or hold something dear that was dear to them, close to our heart.

We will always try to keep our child’s memory alive. It is a vital part of our grief journey. It satisfies that innate need to finish out the life our child never got to live.

 

Independence Day

Another holiday is approaching and for a grieving parent it is usually full of dread. July 4th is full of family activities and you might find yourself wanting to go and hide somewhere until it is over. It is supposed to be a celebration of freedom, but you might not feel very free from your grief.

Like most holidays the anticipation is usually worse than the day itself. The thought of facing another holiday without your child is just too heavy a burden to carry. Something you need to know is; you don’t have to celebrate the holiday if you don’t want to. You don’t have to make preparations, get together with family and friends and force yourself to join in the festivities. If you do not feel up to a big celebration than do something else. Yes, do something totally different, but do not stay home alone.

Go on a day trip that will be full of sights and sounds. Hit ever ice cream parlor between here and Hickory or if your passion is chocolate make it candy stores and indulge. Go hiking, horse-back riding, or visit a zoo. Take in movies all-day-long.

You decide what will bring you some pleasure and don’t let guilt creep in and steal it away. You need to take care of yourself and finding a diversion from your grief for one day, can be a good thing. Go, enjoy the 4th of July.

 

New Season

Another season is approaching which has proven to be another grief trigger for most. It is a sign of moving forward into another season that is full of clean fresh scents and sights sparked by the beauty of nature. It is also a reminder that we move into a new season without our child, and we may wonder if it will ever be different. Will we ever heal from trauma that left us shattered and torn?

We are told by the experts and those who have never experienced our loss that time will heal our pain. They fail to mention that the memoires we carry with us will always bring our grief to the surface. That is why the things we call triggers; birthdays, death dates, holidays, special vacations, graduations, etc. take us back to when our child lived, reminding us that they are not here.

So how can time heal when our memories will forever follow us into the future? We will always see our child yesterday, today and tomorrow.

I came across an article online that seems to open the door to the acceptance that time is not a healer, it helps us to grieve our way, in our time and unapologetic. Here is a sample:

“To say that time does not heal allows a person to reconcile herself to the longevity of the grieving process. It relieves her from the burden of having to observe any arbitrary deadlines for the aching.”   Impatient With Grief, Today’s Christian Woman by Jean Polluck Michel.

 

 Thanksgiving

“May your today be better than your yesterday.” That quote could have been written by a bereaved parent. We often wonder if our tomorrow will ever be better than today.

Thanksgiving is less then a month away and for some, it will be one of those “firsts”. For those who are new to this grief journey, know that the anticipation is worse than the actual holiday.

Some of us are not feeling very thankful for anything, the pain is too harsh, too disabling, too distracting from anything good.

If we look deep enough in our hearts we can draw out the memories that our child left behind and find that we are thankful for something. We find good wholesome memories tucked away that cause our hearts to swell with love and admiration for our child. I guess we do have something to be thankful for. Our child lived and that brought endless memories because as long as we live-they live.

Share your Thanksgiving with someone if you can and you will find a blessing in giving that will soften your sorrow.

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When the Dust Settles

July 3, 2016

Find this Kindle Single at Amazon. When the Dust Settles

Christian fiction that embraces the every day trials of family life with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Novelette size for a great lunch time break.

 

 

 


Devotion: The Vine

May 15, 2016

 

Devotion

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. KJV John 15:5

 

 

My son cut down five tall walnut trees and built a rail fence around a section of our backyard. He left the bark; giving the fence a rustic look. Not long after the fence was up we noticed new growth on some of the posts. One in particular has at least ten new branches growing. The walnut tree obviously had so much sap in its core that it has caused new life to spring forth, even though the tree itself is dead. Think about that. Isn’t that how the Lord has set us to live in Him. His grace courses through our being; through our veins and arteries to our very soul. It is that life giving substance (grace) that causes us live in HIM, though we are dead. ( I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live John 11:25). The grace is there. We do not have to earn it or work for it. It will carry us through life and keep us connected to Him as if we are a new growth of His love.

 

Prayer:

Father God thank you for your life giving grace that sustains us in your kingdom and is always sufficient enough.

(c) 2016


YOU CAN’T SEE HEAVEN FROM HERE

May 7, 2016

It has been nine years since my husband and I lost our youngest child. Nine years and soon it will be ten. I remember thinking years ago, “I don’t know where he is.” The thought pierced through my brain over and over again reflective of the agony my soul was feeling. The pain and sorrow was so great that my mind was just fog, floating freely where my logical thoughts used to be. Hearing those words repeating in my head just added to my torment.

I knew in my heart that my son was saved. I knew the word said that to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord. I knew Craig had given his life to the Lord and yet, I could not see where he was. I could not see heaven from where I stood.

For a newly bereaved parent you can’t go through a day without wondering where your child is and what he is doing? If you are a believer you imagine your child happy and fulfilled, surrounded by the loving arms of the Lord. You can see it- in your imagination. Sometimes that is not good enough. Sometimes, you need assurance that what you imagine, what you believe, is true. You are placed at a point in your life when your faith is tested beyond breaking. Believe and stand by it or doubt and suffer from it.

It does not seem fair that when you are at your lowest point in your life, your faith is tested so greatly. You are weak, you can barely get up in the morning, you want to be with your child and for many parents, you want to die. How in the world are you going to face this test when you have no strength?

I kept telling myself, “He is fine, he is with the Lord and He is the happiest he has ever been.” It helped to repeat those words, but I still could not see Heaven from here. I needed to experience that with my five senses. I needed to know beyond a doubt. I needed the Lord to show me.

I am not alone in my feelings. I have meant many Christians that have experienced the same wonder, the same agony. It does not mean we are not strong Christians. It does not mean that our faith is less than it should be. It means we are suffering, we still love the Lord and still believe in His promises, and our faith is being tested beyond our wildest dreams. Many people will experience loss but few will truly know the sting of death and the victory. It is not a place that any parent wants to go. It is not a place you can ever imagine until you are there.

There comes a time when pain is so overwhelming that you can no longer feel. Imagine a physical pain in one part of your body. It overcomes your whole countenance. You struggle with the agony of the pain and don’t realize that in the midst of your pain, your other body parts are numb; they don’t exist because the pain is too intense to allow any affection for the rest of your body. This is how your spirit feels when it lies in agony. You don’t feel the sun on your cheek or a gentle hand on your shoulder. You can’t receive the words of encouragement from loved ones or the soft voice of God in your heart. Oh, He is there and so are you, but pain has taken over and all you can do is cry out, My God, My God Why hast thou forsaken me. I don’t say that with any disrespect toward my Lord. No one has ever suffered as greatly as Him. We can’t embrace His suffering but what we find in our lives is that it sometimes feels like abandonment, and we just can’t see Heaven from here.

 

(c) 2016


HE LEFT HIS FIRST LOVE

May 7, 2016

HPIM0834You have heard the scripture, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” NIV Rev 2:4

The Lord is speaking to the church of Ephesus, but long before this revelation, was a man who left his first love and the result brought destruction to his life and everything around him.

When Adam was created by Elohim and placed in the garden he developed a relationship with the Father that we can hardly imagine. He walked every day with the living God. They talked and listened to one another. God taught Adam what he needed to know.

Elohim saw that Adam needed a helper so He created Eve. At this point Adam had already named the animals and gotten to know them. There was no cycle of life. No survival of the fittest. Each being lived in harmony with all of creation. All was as God intended it to be.

Adam and Eve seemed to hit it off pretty well. Adam felt a closeness to Eve that is mentioned in Gen. 2:23. He describes Eve as the bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. You really can’t get much closer than that.

You know the rest of the story; Eve found her way to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and was tempted by the serpent. The bible doesn’t say much about what lead up to this event. We know that God gave the pair free will to decide for themselves what they will do. Just as the angels in heaven had the choice to decide who they would follow, so did Adam and Eve.

No sin had been committed before the pair ate from the tree; however, something took place for them to follow the sinful path that they did. Look at the story and it makes sense when you factor in the moving away from God to other pleasures. For Eve it was what the serpent offered her; wisdom, knowledge and power. Remember, she was a help mate to Adam. She was second in charge, not first.

Adam had a life before Eve. He had a relationship with Elohim yet; he left his first love and focused on Eve. In Gen 2:24 it says that because the woman was taken from man he shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife. That is exactly what Adam did however; he put Eve above his father. He did more than just cling to Eve; he made her his first love and turned away from his Lord.

When Eve offered Adam the fruit the bible does not record any objection from Adam. He took it and put it to his mouth and ate of the fruit knowing he was going against his God. He appeared to do it without any hesitation. He followed Eve when he was supposed to lead. He got his priorities out of order. There is a saying; God first, then family and country. Sounds about right except Adam did not do that, and so we find ourselves living in a world full of sin and destruction.

When Adam was told not to eat of the tree he was told why. The Lord told him he would surely die. The Hebrew word for die is (matoth) which means to die, kill or execute. Interesting that the word can mean execute because that is what happened. Adam’s SIN executed the spirit within Adam. Adam was a living soul but he had a spirit. When he died his spirit left him. What happened at this point? He no longer had a spirit or glorified body. He had a fleshly body; one that was as corrupt as the sin that defiled it. Everything changed. No longer could he walk in the garden with his Lord, but he could no longer live in a place made for perfected man.

God is a spirit and we are told the only way to communicate with Him is through the spirit. “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” NIV John 4:24

Adam would learn the hard way how to find his way back to God. He would suffer the consequences of his sin in a harsh way. He left his first love and now he was dead and all the earth was cursed because of his and Eve’s actions. Makes you wonder if they didn’t look up at the stars at night and talk about what they had done and reminisce about the garden. Adam did not die until eight generations of descendants were born. He was 930 years old. Imagine the stories he passed down to his offspring which included; Seth, Enoch, and Methuselah, the oldest recorded human in the bible and the grandfather of Noah. Methuselah died the year the flood happened. Firsthand accounts of the beginning of creation were made all the way down to the flood. You have to ask how could the world become so corrupt when the first man lived through eight generations, a man who walked with God and knew Him? Perhaps, seeing the decay in the generations was felt horrifically by Adam since he knew it was because of him that man was born with a nature to sin.

Eve is not exempt from the whole issue of death and corruption. In fact, she sinned before Adam. If Adam had left his first love, Elohim, then Eve must have done the same. What caused her to be enticed by the serpent and to be drawn to the tree in the first place? The pair had a spirit, they had a perfect body and they were void of a nature to sin, yet they did. They had one thing that existed with the angels and that was free will.

One third of heaven decided they would follow Lucifer instead of El Shaddai. No one knows exactly what that number was but any number was too many. It is a mystery how it all came together, but sin entered heaven and then it entered the world. It was in the garden because the serpent was there. It was confined to the tree of knowledge of good and evil, yet Eve found it and pursued it. She did just what the angels did as she was tempted by the master of sin. She went looking for answers, she went looking for something she did not have or thought she did not have. She went looking for perhaps, independence from God. She had a motive and she had a will and the serpent used them both against her. She had already placed something above God whether it was Adam or self, she left her first love as well as Adam did.

Once God is no longer first in your life, you face temptations that you never thought were possible. Your focus changes, your will becomes more lustful instead of His desires. This is usually where we start out in life. Moving forward from salvation toward making God your first love is what we do as a new born-again Christian. It is the spirit drawing us toward Him and placing Him always before our face.

Adam and Eve began their lives with God as their first love and they went forward into the darkness of sin and laid out the path for the rest of mankind.

Praise our Lord God Almighty that He did not give up on us. He made a way when we didn’t deserve it. He loved us so. He gave the sacrifice for us so we could walk in the garden with Him once again. He came to us in the flesh; in a miserable world of vile, gross and disgusting sin, and let it fall on his shoulders so we can be with Him. He made the way because our sacrifice could not touch it. There was nothing we could do to correct the mess we were in.

There is only one thing for us to do now. Make Him our first love, forever. If you want to be with Him after this life, you need to make Him first in this one.

 

(c) 2016


Emotional Range-Separation From Land etc.

November 30, 2015

Potomac Park Camp 1946

July 25th

EMOTIONAL RANGE-SEPARATION FROM LAND ETC.

 

If you know something about conditions in your local church you can’t help if you hit on it. I’d rather not know a thing. Some will come and say, “Did you know so and so?”

God doesn’t put any testing or proving on us unless we are qualified; built up in the faith. He has first given us the word to do something with it. If not accepted-truth-something in our nature will deteriorate and be destroyed. I know what God is doing with me. I like to know a little bit about this strange being or personality. I am a trinity. I am more than that. We react continually to the thought processes. I have a mind and I must think right thoughts. Think on these things. For as a man thinketh in his heart-so is he. God makes his approach through it. Study to show thyself approved-apply yourself. Jesus dealt with the emotional side of people mostly.  The general approach is to the heart where they lived. In the four gospels He continually deals with love, hatred, jealousy, (make a study of that). Man is an emotional creature and out of order. I have an intellectual life which He is dealing with and an emotional. Power to say you will become the whole determining factor.

I don’t know which day or hour I was saved or where, but in interim of several months. I don’t make patterns, everyone is different. You are either a saint or a sinner. There has to come a place of real decision. You have had to give individually your assent. Our lives are reckoned according to our wills and spirits before God. God judges us by the choices we make continually-we may know yards of truth and not know at all. Therefore knowledge was not enough to qualify him in the realm of heaven. The thief on the cross-got as far as paradise, that’s all. The thief had not had time to build up and qualify; making him capable for that fellowship God would have with him in heaven. God speaks about an abundant entrance. Only the applying of the blood will never qualify you.

God can take an individual and so work upon him without destroying his individuality or personality; he becomes a living miracle. Some have an emotional temperament, others stoical. You can’t judge people whether they are expansive in their emotional by that, it is no price on spirituality at all. Some can get blessed in their emotional range, doesn’t mean that they are holier than all. Some people get blessed so they shout, sing and dance, no sign you are spiritual. God doesn’t care how much you can get blessed at all. He looks right past that, He knows that I not the measuring rod-where you live and what you are, it is lower than this, it is in here, down several inches below-in my heart where I have made choices and decisions for Him.

Here I am Lord-yes Lord. We are not living on how much I know about Jesus, but it is in the YES LORD!

Don’t be confused and robbed, don’t get it confused with the emotional-the emotional is only the effect because you had an experience. Will you be obedient to the thing I’ll ask you to do? Faith-command, launch out into the deep. The Lord has a miracle for you and you are still standing there reasoning with Him. Peter reasoning with Him; “I fished there all night, etc.” Natural man first, then that which I spiritual. Faith can only exercise where everything in the natural is out of reason. We try every last thing before faith. He has a right to shift that boat. Don’t stay by the shore. It involves a process of separation. Separated from the people-already in the boat. (It is a )marvelous place to get out with the Lord in a little boat even though it tips. Be thankful; just stay in that little boat. For a little while you can detect some people on the shore. That is grass. All flesh is grass.

Later on…? Certain flowers were grass. When that boat gets out far enough and you say all flesh is grass—that is a separation. I believe in the fellowship, by and by God lets me know they are human too. Separations may be even from the legitimate human relations. He is getting us ready for the miracle.

Heavenly, beautiful visitation will involve just those that are in the boat. Where are you taking me-out in the deep? You rest in the negation; in your will and obedience, in your surrendered will. Separation begins with a child of God when coming out of the world. Move in disciple fellowship.

Multitude-believers-disciples-apostles.

If you wish to be a disciple do thus and so; another separation. If you will come into a disciple relationship you have to separate from legitimate things. You already hate the world, flesh and the devil. Here is something else. That which would mar and hinder the effulgence of the light. If you walk with God He is going to separate you more and more.

Five years ago you were different, you can’t do them now-anything that blurs or hinders or mars; you turn-hate it, but for what it will do… You don’t hate your father and mother because of what they are to you, but because of what they can do to hinder your best for God.

More and more of a separation as you go on, deflected Jesus from the cross. If it deflects, hate it, anything. Separation from people, world, nature, things, principles, persons, whole set-up, hate it, reject it, separate from it. Move out into an entirely new atmosphere, go out into the deep. I determine and you determine how deep you want to go by what, by how far you are separated. Just as far as you go deeper it will get. What will determine it-just how far I am separated. Just as deep as I want to go.

*Brazen laver not measured-you determine it all.

The net is livelihood.  It threw your life right overboard. Nature. Holding on with your fingers. You say you have to be practical. Blessed opportunities, developments you never dreamed of, took you all this time to get them. Had enough for all fishes. Something to give to all. More abundant, exceedingly more than we can ask or think.

*The Brazen Laver is second of two objects located in the Tabernacle’s Outer Court. It represents baptism. (Looks like a cup used to wash the hands)


Grief Like No Other

July 21, 2014

There will come a time in everyone’s life that they will loose someone they love. It is the cycle of life, uncontrollable and probably the hardest thing that most people will ever experience. Grief is not talked about in society because it makes people feel bad. It is something that happens but society does not want to acknowledge its lasting affect. The terms, “move-on, get-over-it” are echoed from friends, family and employers. It is even being addressed by the psychiatric community in some cases as “mental illness”.

Why does society view grief as if it does not exist? Is it because it occurs every day? Something that happens that often must not be so bad, or in the least can be resolved in a short period of time. Perhaps, that is the problem. Society does not want to recognize that which can have a life long affect on the emotions and being of a person. The best way to deal with sorrow is to push it aside and pretend it does not exist. Put on your happy face and go about your business each day and you can even convince yourself that grief can be put to sleep.

There are different types of grief. We can be prepared for the death of a loved one through a long term illness or an elderly parent or grandparent. We can feel that death is a relief to the sufferer and “let them go”. No matter how we accept the death of a loved one, nothing prepares us for a life without them.

Website boards are full of memorials left for loved ones. Poems are written every day in memory of someone dear. The perspective that a person can quench their grief by ignoring it has been proven wrong many times over. The shelves are full of self-help books on releasing grief.

There are circumstances that can complicate grief. Sudden death and even the manner of death can cause extraordinary pain. Murder in particular has elements associated with it that most people never have to deal with such as, an arrest and trial that can take many months and even years to be settled. Hearing gruesome details of a loved ones demise can ring forever in a persons’ head. Nightmares of horrible crime scenes are a reality for victim’s families.

Grief like no other comes by way of loosing a child. It does not even need to be mentioned that the loss of child is beyond any comprehension for a parent. No one wants to think or talk about it, but that is not realistic.
According to the National MCH Child Death Review the mortality rate in 2006 for children under the age of 19 was over 530,000. In addition, most people under the age of 50 that die leave a parent behind. Does it matter how old a child is? Ask a grieving parent that lost their child at any age and the answer is no.

There is a shearing pain that rips through the heart when a parent is given the news about the death of their child. The soul just screams a blatant NO, and from that moment that parent is never the same person.

No program, no medicine, no therapy can cure a grieving parent. They are forever bereaved parents. People like to fix things. Family members and friends might think they need to do something that will cheer-up a grieving parent. Part of it is because they too grieve and they do not want to see their loved one so hurt. Time changes that in many cases and intolerance sets in. Complaints are heard from those closest to the situation like; “Grieving parents talk about their child too much, They have too many pictures displayed in their home, and They never got rid of things and erected a shrine.”

The question is when is the right time to put away a beloved child? When is it right for a parent to move on and remove all signs that their child ever lived? When should a parent stop talking about their child because it makes other people uncomfortable?

Try asking these questions instead; why does a grieving parent keep their child’s things where they can see them? Why does a parent talk about their child so much? Why did that grieving parent create a memorial garden for their child? The answer is simple-love.
For a grieving parent their child’s life continues in their heart. As long as that child remains there, he is still alive. It brings great joy to a parent to hear their child’s name spoken. Why? It means that they are not forgotten. The greatest fear is that their child will be forgotten by family and friends. Monuments are built to great men- that is ok. Monuments are built to honor people-that is ok. Monuments are built to remember-that is ok, but let a grieving parent build the same for their child, and something is wrong with them.

Describing the loss of a child is an impossible task because there are no words for it. The pain will be with a parent the rest of their life. They have lost a part of their life and living even one more day is a challenge. Everything becomes before and after their child. When they look at a picture they date it before or after. Moving into a new year is another year without them. Many thoughts in their daily lives bring them back to their child. It can not be avoided. It is not something that try to do, it just happens. It may become less as years roll away, but it never goes away. Professionals treat grieving parents for depression and post traumatic stress syndrome. It may be adequate to label the symptoms of grief in such a way, but it does not cure it.

The best thing someone can do for a grieving parent is to let them know they remember their child. Call them on the holidays; call them on birthdays and yes, the death anniversary. Give them pictures and relate memories that you have of their child. Donate to a charity in their child’s name. Most important, hug them, love them and cry with them.

Self help organizations have proven to be beneficial for grieving parents. One organization is the Compassionate Friends. It is a worldwide organization that started in the 1960s in England when a chaplain introduced two grieving families. It has since grown to include 50 chapters in the world and over 600 chapters in the United States. Other organizations are Healing Hearts for Bereaved Parents, Share Organization and Miss Foundation.

It is hard enough for a parent to loose a child, but when family and friends avoid them because they do not know how to handle the grief, it adds another loss to their already broken heart.

Grief Watch: Support Croup Listing
http://www.griefwatch.com/support_groups.htm

The Compassionate Friends
http://www.tcfofbrevardnc.org/tcf/home.htm

The National MCH Center for Child Death Review
http://www.childdeathreview.org/nationalchildmortalitydata.htm

(c) 2014 Vickie Van Antwerp