Shameless Grief

Many of us in the Grief Community have encountered times in which we have felt as if we have the Bubonic Plague. We have noticed the avoidance by those we once considered to be friends. Perhaps, even family members began to distance themselves from us. As a result, we may begin to question: ‘Why me?’; ‘God, don’t you love me?’; ‘What’s wrong with me?’. This can be especially trying if we are of the belief that if we are good, if we do all the ‘right’ things, we will prosper in this life. At such a time, anger may grip our souls. We tell ourselves that we did everything right, yet tragedy hit anyway. We did everything we believed we were suppose to do, yet… our child died, we became ill with an incurable illness, we were viciously attacked and raped. We may vacillate between feelings of shame, fear, personal degradation and feelings of anger, blaming God, hate. Our countenance drops, our head droops, we feel a physical weight upon our shoulders as we take on a burden of shame.

How do we rise above this unending whirlpool, this relentless cycle of disgrace and debasement?

Guilt says: ‘I did a bad thing’. Shame says: ‘I am a bad person’.

Back in the 80’s when I designed a shame reduction program for a woman’s center, I would often remind folks that God gave us just enough shame to not walk to the store while naked. God is not in the business of shaming people. Tragedy does not strike for the purpose of humiliating us. Shame does have its rightful place, it does belong to bad people. Those who are perpetrators of rape, abuse, murder, etc., rightfully should feel shame. Yet, often times, they do not for such behaviour is often boastful. Those that commit such crimes reject any feelings of shame and, as a result, their shame is often transferred and then lodged in their victim.

Sadly, such feelings of shame for the innocent victims of tragedy are often perpetuated in churches. Folks who have been traumatized by grief will often seek out comfort in their church community, only to be met with some who believe they have brought this tragedy upon themselves. Most assuredly, Job met up with such ‘comforters’. Job’s comforters were convinced that he had done something wrong, something that so angered God, that all his great heartache and loss was the result. They were the first in line to grab a shovel of shame and start piling it upon Job. Thankfully, Job ‘kept the Faith’. Many, however, do not. Often, those who have been subjected to tragedy and great grief, will begin to blame God in order to unload their feelings of shame… a shame that is unfounded. The shame actually belongs to those who boast of their own ‘good-fortune’ in escaping any tragedy in their lives. What they fail to understand is that it ‘rains on the just and the unjust’ (MT. 5:45).

We live in a fallen world. Why some seem to have a very blessed life, while others’ lives seem to be absorbed with misfortune, is unknown. What we do know, if we believe God and not man, is that it does not go unnoticed by Him. He repeatedly promises us in His Word that we shall be comforted (Lam. 3:46-52; PS. 9:9; PS. 46:1; PS. 119:48-52; J. 14:27; MT. 5:4; 2 Cor. 1:3; J. 16:20; PS. 27:13-14; Job 5:11; Heb. 13:5; Rev. 21:4; PS. 119:71; IS. 54:4; IS. 35:3-6; etc.) Is God a liar?

We need to shake off the reproach of shame shoveled upon us by others. We are not less than others because the road we travel is more encumbered. We are not at fault because tragedy came knocking on our door. God is not to blame either. Don’t internalize the judgement of others. Condemnation that others may heap upon us is not from God (J. 3:17; Rom. 8:1-39). There is no shame in suffering.

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y
Articles on WordPress.com: https://wordpress.com/posts/bereavedparentsblog.wordpress.com.

Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134

Advertisements

Let’s Take a Closer Look (2)

We left off with (1) in Acts 16:6-7. Moving on :).

In Acts 16:9, we read that Paul had a vision of a man pleading with Paul to come to Macedonia to which Paul immediately responded (vs. 10). God still gives His people visions today (Joel 2:28). It is necessary that we always test the spirits as we are admonished to do in 1 John 4:1, but to deny that God still gives His children visions is UN-Biblical. When we jump ahead to Acts 16:16, we see a clear example of what it means to ‘test the spirits’ and to discern.

While in prayer, Paul was confronted with a young woman who was possessed with a spirit of divination and was used by others for financial gain as a fortune-teller. This is important to take note of because many are often swayed by the appeal in the grief community to embrace psychics, which is a similar evil spirit. ‘There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer (a method of divination through alleged communication with the dead; black art. – Dictionary.com). For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD.’ (Deut 18:10-12).

Such may appear as ‘an angel of light’. They may actually speak truthful things on the surface, but discernment is essential. Per SpiritHome.com, there are 5 basic things to be aware of in discernment and testing the spirits:

  1. it is governed by love, for if it is not, it’s worthless (1 Corinthians 13:1-3);
  2. it centers us onto Jesus the Christ and Lord (1 Cor 12:3), and His good news;
  3. it directs us to Scripture, not away from it (Isaiah 8:19, 20);
  4. it builds up the church and its members (Ephesians 4:11-12), giving it power, wisdom, character, boldness, and unity.
  5. it helps create in us a love of righteousness, a heightened sense of sin, and a turning away from known evil.

In vs. 17, we find this young woman making truthful statements: “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” She continued making this statement ‘for many days’. So, this woman was not blatantly lying, she was not acting in a fashion that most would consider ‘evil’, yet when Paul finally became annoyed, he ‘turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.’ (vs. 18). Thankfully, God has blessed His children with such authority in the name of Jesus Christ.

Example…

One day when I was in my late 20’s (the early 80’s), my then husband was acting in a manner which was making me uncomfortable. He was not being abusive, but rather acting in a persuasive manner which an on-looker would most likely see no harm. Yet, discernment was setting off those quiet little alarms within my spirit. I had been attending to some menial tasks as he was speaking, but then I suddenly stopped cold in what I had been doing. I turned to him and stated: ‘Spirit of fear’. Suddenly, it was as if my husband had been thrown backwards against the kitchen wall and became glued to it. Any fear of him, or the spirit of fear within him, had no control over me. God had taken over the situation and had moved in His authority calling out and naming the spirit of fear that had been controlling my husband. I was not led to cast it out, as Paul had been with that young woman, but simply to ‘name it’ and shine a light on it. Any time after that, whenever that spirit would once again possess my husband, he would stand with his back against a wall and it became clearly recognizable.

Paul had discerned the spirit of divination in this young woman, cast it out in the authority of Jesus name, and the woman was set free. However, those who were profiting off her fortune-telling, became irate because they now stood to lose their source of income. (vs. 19). They seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace, the center of town, and brought them to the existing worldly authorities. Obviously, there were more evil spirits at play. The magistrates then ‘freaked out’ and tore off their clothes, commanded they be beaten, threw them into prison…the ‘inner’ prison, and had their feet fastened in stocks.(vs. 22-24).

The word “stocks,” with us, denotes a machine made of two pieces of timber between which the feet of criminals are placed, and in which they are thus made secure. The account here does not imply necessarily that they were secured precisely in this way, but that they were fastened or secured by the feet, probably by cords, to a piece or beam of wood, so that they could not escape. It is probable that the legs of the prisoners were bound to large pieces of wood which not only encumbered them, but which were so placed as to extend their feet to a considerable distance. In this condition it might be necessary for them to lie on their backs; and if this, as is probable, was on the cold ground, after their severe scourging, their sufferings must have been very great. Yet in the midst of this they sang praises to God. – Barnes’ Notes

By setting that woman free of her demonic possession, an avalanche of evil fell upon Paul and Silas. Upon reading this, my natural man would most likely be deterred from confronting and casting out any such evil spirits. However, these men knew and trusted their Saviour. Paul & Silas began praying and singing Hymns to God, and others were listening. (vs. 25). That’s when God stepped in :). An earthquake suddenly occurred and all the doors of the prison were opened and everyone’s, not just those of Paul & Silas, but everyone’s chains were loosed. (vs. 26). This frightened the ‘keeper of the prison’ so, that he almost killed himself. (vs. 27). But Paul then assured him that although they had been set free from their chains, they made no attempt to escape and were all still there. (vs. 28). That jailer’s soul was saved that night. Not only his, but his entire family believed and were baptized. (vs. 29-34).

Paul & Silas had suffered greatly. Yet, because of their endurance and unwavering Faith, an entire family came to know Jesus the Christ and were thus given eternal life. What happens next is important, however, I will have to continue when led to do so.

f3154860ce4dec636d0da4260d802533.jpg

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y
Articles on WordPress.com: https://wordpress.com/posts/bereavedparentsblog.wordpress.com.

Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134

The Cover-Up of the Cover-Up

As a side note, I first want to apologize to folks who have read my articles which have been published by The Mighty for not responding to their comments. I was unable to view them. I have tried to resolve the issue on a few occasions, but without any success. Apparently, I have been unable to view them because of the browser I use. However, though my responses may be delayed, I will periodically use the browser I discovered this evening which allows me access. I am a ‘tech dunce’ and the first to admit it. 🙂

Because I was finally able to read those comments, I realized something new in my grieving process. Over the years, I often wore a mask because it seemed easier than answering questions and feeling I had to explain my grief. What I hadn’t realized is that in doing so, I also began to wear a mask to the ‘man in the mirror’.

I wrote my first brief article in July 2016 after I had set up my Facebook site: ‘Hope in Jesus for the Bereaved Parent’. I then wrote another, then another, and by December I had written my Book. Although I had desired to somehow have my son’s poems published, I never thought that I would one day write a book as the pathway for doing so. Since its publication in February 2017, I have continued to write articles. Writing became a personal ‘therapeutic tool’ for me. Having lived most of my life in silence because of the layers of abuse I have encountered, it is not easy for me to talk with others about things. When a victim of abuse has had multiple threats of more violence if we dare to break the silence, we learn to bury things very deeply within. We learn not to get angry, not to cry, not to expose our abuser. We walk on eggshells and one small crunch could open the gates of hell upon us. We eventually become accustomed to such a life as if it is ‘normal’. In the thesis I had written in Grad School, I drew the analogy of domestic violence and the Stockholm Syndrome. Today, this has become much more known and understood.

My articles were quickly unaccepted by many sites. The moderators objected to my form of expression of my grief. They demanded that I speak directly with others, but I could only do so on rare occasions. I felt once again I was being silenced if I could not conform to their ‘rules’. This resulted in additional wounding for me. Writing as I do afforded me a buffer. If not for this outlet that I simply stumbled upon, I would still be sitting in silence. The very thought of that prison causes the tears to flow even now as I type this. I write and I write and I write because I can’t go back there. I have vented, I have cried, I have wailed in my writings. I have, at times, ripped my soul to shreds in doing so. Removing an outer mask that we wear to the outside is easier than removing the mask within that hides things within ourselves from ourselves.

Though often it has torn me raw to attempt to express this indescribable pain, it has taught me a lot personally about myself. I have often read what I have written in review, and in doing so have discovered another layer that had been hidden by the mask within.

I’d like to encourage others to use whatever God-given talent or ability you have been given. Whether it be writing, painting, singing, photography, making ‘gifs’, etc., don’t waste it. It may seem challenging at the onset, you may run across critics and those who want to control your expression, but don’t give up. Do it as unto the Lord and do it for yourself. We do not heal in silence and suppression. The pain is like a cancer which we must surgically remove, layer by layer. To allow it to fester benefits no one, including yourself. I have often been on the verge of quitting, and there are times I actually have. I’ve shut down my site and yelled at God: “I can’t do this anymore!”. But I sort of made this ‘deal’, this ‘arrangement’, with Him. I had told Him when I began that if only one person seems to be benefiting, I won’t quit. So, whenever I think I have reached that point of no return, sure enough there is always one who tells me that something I have written has somehow benefited them. That is all the fodder I need to continue on.

You, whoever you are, have a gift. All do. Please don’t bury your talent, you’ve been given it for a purpose. Others need what you have to offer. It has been uniquely designed for you and only you can use it in the manner in which it was designed. You will, most likely, encounter resistance and possibly stumble from discouragement. But know that it’s all part of the process. If your desire is to give Glory to God in all that you do, He will be faithful to guide your steps.

Proverbs 3:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin’ My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer’s Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man’s Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya’ Know
‘Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That’s Why I Want You To
Know

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

I’ve Been A Victim Of A Selfish
Kind Of Love
It’s Time That I Realize
That There Are Some With No
Home, Not A Nickel To Loan
Could It Be Really Me,
Pretending That They’re Not
Alone?

A Widow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody’s Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
(Washed-Out Dream)
They Follow The Pattern Of
The Wind, Ya’ See
Cause They Got No Place
To Be
That’s Why I’m Starting With
Me

(Michael Jackson)

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y
Articles on WordPress.com: https://wordpress.com/posts/bereavedparentsblog.wordpress.com.

Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134

 

The Hollowness of Happiness

A young woman recently said to me: “I am happier in my life than you have ever been in yours”. It was stated to me in a spirit of meanness to taunt me. Though on some level it rang a sound of truth, in essence it had shallow roots. I wept in my solitude, but not for reasons one might think.

In my years of youth, ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ was a commonly heard idiom. It was often countered with yet another idiom: ‘The grass is always greener on the other side’. Both bring to mind the Scripture in 2 Corinthians 10: “12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” 

When this young woman had made this comment to me, it set in motion the ‘wheels’ in my little mind. I began to think back on my life as a whole. Had I ever been truly happy in my life? Most assuredly, on the surface my life has been filled with much abuse and tragedy which I cannot deny. There have most definitely been times when I succumbed to ‘pity parties’, licking my wounds in a shallow pool of self-pity. However, ‘wound licking’ is a natural response to injury. If an animal is wounded, it will lick its wounds to aid healing. Yet, there are some risks involved in them doing so. Wound licking is beneficial, but too much licking can be harmful. In the Gospel of Luke (16:19-31), we find that even the dogs came to lick the sores of Lazarus, the poor beggar.

Luke 16:(ESV)

25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.

Truly, happiness in this life is not all that it is cracked up to be. Even Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, was ‘well acquainted with grief’. He was a ‘man of sorrows’, rejected and despised by others (IS. 53:3). Because of such sorrows, He was held in low esteem by others. I have experienced times in which others have treated me as if I had the Bubonic Plague. The loss of a child will often produce such an experience. Because happiness is often elevated to the status of an idol which some pursue at all costs, the sorrow of such deep grief often causes some to flee. There is an Italian saying: “Stai lontano da me,porti sfortuna” which means ‘get away from me, you’re bad luck’ essentially.

Yet, I have known times in my life of great Joy that transcends any feelings of happiness. Holding my newborn child in my arms for the first time definitely ranks among the highest. As I began to ponder this young woman’s statement, I was reminded of such times. Yes, I have known times of great sorrow that are inexpressible. But I have also known times of great Joy that are equally inexpressible. None compare, however, with those mountain-top moments I have had in the Joy of the Lord. Times when laughter consumed me in His presence uncontrollably. The apostles had such experiences, as well. In Acts 2:13, folks concluded that the Apostles had had too much wine to drink. Even today, those that have had such moments of utter Joy in the Lord are mocked and often condemned as heretics. My only response to such is: “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”.

Paul had reached a point in his life in which he could boldly proclaim:

“8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3). I believe because of this he was able to ‘rejoice in all things’. Though he suffered numerous beatings, imprisonments, and had a continuous ‘thorn in the flesh”, he simultaneously learned to be content no matter what circumstances he encountered (Phil. 4:11). He stated in Phil. 3:7 “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” Bluntly stated: ‘happiness is not a pissing contest’. Deeming it as such is quite shallow and hollow. Though I still do have my moments in which all Joy eludes me, I have learned to embrace: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21).

John 16: (VOICE)

21-22 In the same way that a woman labors in great pain during childbirth only to forget the intensity of the pain when she holds her child, when I return, your labored grief will also change into a joy that cannot be stolen.

Nehemiah 8:10

10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Another recently said to me that I am a very strong woman. No, not in the least. Left to myself, I have no strength left. What she is seeing is the strength of the Lord which sustains me for my life is hidden in Him. (Col. 3:1-4).

Image result for joy of the lord photo

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y
Articles on WordPress.com: https://wordpress.com/posts/bereavedparentsblog.wordpress.com.

Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134

 

 

 

 

 

Featured Article (#10)

My gratitude to the Lord and to The Mighty for featuring another article on their site. (((HUGS))): https://www.facebook.com/parentingonthemighty/posts/1334735326629471

https://themighty.com/2017/06/not-newly-bereaved-parent/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Parenting_Page

 

 

Optimistically Pessimistic

Truly, this walk of grief is filled with dichotomies and oxymorons. On one hand, we who grieve are a very ‘sorry bunch’. Some would even perceive us as morbid. We speak of death, not a very popular topic at parties. We think about death, a subject most try to avoid. Yes, death is a ‘downer’. After I buried my son, I purchased a grave site next to his for myself. I called my son’s earthly dad and let him know there was another available to which he responded that he was not interested because for him to purchase one he felt would ‘jinx’ him. I am stymied by such comments for they leave me silently swimming in a pool of bewilderment.

When every single person who has ever lived eventually dies (with few exceptions as Elijah), why is it a topic so many ignore? If we pretend that death does not exist, shall it cease to do so? When such an experience is inevitable for all, why do so few prepare for its journey? Death, for sure, is an unpopular subject. Yet, we who grieve for our children are faced with its reality daily. We know all too well of its cold and harsh existence. Such colors our world. Once upon a time, we gave it very little thought. We went about our lives as if it does not exist, too. Then, in a moment in time, it came knocking on our door. It violently forced its way into our home, into our lives. It became that undesirable house-guest which moved in and never left. It was neither welcomed nor embraced, yet it came to stay no matter how much we fought against it. Yes, to the onlooker, we are a gloomy pessimistic lot. We are viewed as ‘negative’, as if being ‘positive’ will negate death’s existence.

However, that is where Faith comes in for those of us who are Believers. Granted, our Faith has been tried in a fiery furnace. All that we once took for granted has been shaken down to the very foundation. We often have questioned just about everything we once thought we did not doubt. As Jacob, we have wrestled with God Himself. We have been stripped of all frivolities of Faith and have been left with the bare nuts and bolts. Though our house still exists, our earthly home does not. We come to understand that though in this world, we are no longer a part of it. We are transformed into creatures who seek another Kingdom. Idealism is replaced with reality; religion is replaced with relationship. Yes, we can resist such transfiguration. Nevertheless, we are faced with it and choose how we shall respond.

On this grief journey, we learn the true meaning of such things as: endurance, perseverance, character, and Hope (Romans 5:4; 2 Peter 1:6).  The way in which we embrace life has been forever altered. The more we kick against the goads, the more difficult the journey. As we begin to embrace eternal life, the more optimistic we become. Slowly, we begin to change our focus toward what awaits at the end of this journey. We come to understand the futility in this present existence, and slowly embrace that which awaits us which is eternal. Faith becomes the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Our citizenship in this world is traded in for our citizenship in Heaven (Philippians 3:20). As this metamorphosis has its way within, optimism takes root; finality is replaced with eternal longevity.

Easter embraces this transformation in a nutshell. It begins on Maundy Thursday and commences on Easter Sunday. We see how our Lord Jesus the Christ begins His overwhelming grief by sweating droplets of blood. He is then brutally scourged, whipped, mocked and seemingly deserted by all but a few. This culminates in the most  excruciatingly painful death on the Cross. All Hope seemingly has been dashed upon the rocks in the most violent of storms.

But the story, thankfully, doesn’t end there… it has only just begun. Christ is Resurrected; real Hope is established; death is forever conquered. Jesus endured for the Joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). He set for us the example of long-suffering, in more ways than one. His courage and forbearance made Him victorious. He was the Firstfruit of the overcomers. Triumphantly, He rose from the grave. Truly, the trumpets are sounded as all exuberantly rejoice and proclaim:

He lives!!! 

…And because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y
Articles on WordPress.com: https://wordpress.com/posts/bereavedparentsblog.wordpress.com.

Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134

Book: ‘Gifts from the Ashes’

http://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/bookdetail.php?PB_ISBN=9781498496728

Book Review (1):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

                        Contact: Jude Gibbs

                Website: https://www.facebook.com/Christiangrief/

 New Book Gives Hope to Readers

Uplifting to those who have traveled life encumbered by sorrow and grief 

MAITLAND, FL— Jude Gibbs’ new book Gifts from the Ashes ($29.99, paperback, 9781498496728; $9.99, eBook, 9781498496735) testifies to the truth that God is a God of redemption, and that He is very much alive and active in our daily lives and circumstances. Although this book centers on the grief journey the author has travelled after the loss of her beloved son, it also encompasses the grief she has had to embrace resulting from much abuse, rape, barrenness, and pregnancy loss.

Gibbs writes, “It is my Hope that by sharing my testimony of God’s humbling redemption, along with what He has revealed to me along the way, it will enable the reader to embrace the joy that is set before them which Jesus Himself embraced. It is my desire that God be glorified in all things.”

Jude Gibbs had once been a Pastor’s wife. For nearly a decade, she worked as a counselor for victims of abuse, rape, and incest. She was a board member of a Rape Crisis Center in a major city for three years. In addition, Jude has been a victim herself, and the mother of a victim. She has personally had four pregnancy losses and has had to bury her 20 year old son. She has also been an ordained minister since 2/12/06. Jude’s experience is both personal and professional. Readers can view her work at: https://wordpress.com/posts/bereavedparentsblog.wordpress.com and https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/.

Xulon Press, a division of Salem Media Group, is the world’s largest Christian self-publisher, with more than 12,000 titles published to date. Retailers may order Gifts from the Ashes through Ingram Book Company and/or Spring Arbor Book Distributors.

 

Book Review (2):

Gifts from the Ashes: Hope in Jesus for Bereaved Parents by Jude Gibbs

In a moment of infinite sadness, one would be blessed to read Gifts from the Ashes: Hope in Jesus for Bereaved Parents by Jude Gibbs. The book is an honest and emotional sharing of one bereaved mother’s testimony after the loss of her son. Among the stages of grief, she discovers gifts from God in the journey of mourning, the greatest of which is an ever-deepening faith in the healing and redemptive power of God.  As the author herself states:

“We never “move on” from our (deceased) children, (but) we move forward in the things of the Lord from “Glory to Glory” … and we take them (our children) with us as we do. Eventually, we do become grateful for all the Gifts we pick up along this (bereavement) journey. No, they will never replace our child in this current world. They do, however, bring us peace and cause us to go deeper with our Lord.”

Gifts from the Ashes is divided into three parts, each offering comfort and hope. The first section shares Gibbs’ story—the events of her son’s tragic death, her moments of uplift as she finds her gifts among the ashes, and the comfort and strength she finds in delving deeper into God’s Word. The heart of the book is a series of contemplative topics in which Gibbs offers her thoughts, advice, and solace for a number of situations and emotions that bereaved parents are likely to find themselves experiencing.  Lastly, a section of scripture presents the Lord’s biblical truths especially relevant for grieving parents.

In reading Gifts from the Ashes, one is washed in the Grace of God along with the author’s truth and love.

Xulon Press Editorial

 

Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Xulon Author Shares Stories of Loss, Grief, Abuse, and Finding Hope in God’s Strength

Jude Gibbs Inspires the Disheartened to Find Faith in the Shadows 

MAITLAND, FL— Within the pages of Jude Gibbs’ new book, Gifts from the Ashes: Hope in Jesus for Bereaved Parents, ($29.99, paperback, 9781498496728; $9.99, e-book, 9781498496735) readers will find the author’s journey through the grief that followed the loss of her son. An intimate portrait of Gibbs’ experiences, her book delves into the pain of not only the loss of her twenty-year-old son, but also the grief that has come from pregnancy loss, fertility issues, abuse, and rape.

“It is my hope that by sharing my testimony of God’s humbling redemption, along with what He has revealed to me along the way, it will enable the reader to embrace that joy that is set before them, which Jesus Himself embraced,” states the author. “It is my desire that God be glorified in all things.”

Jude Gibbs is an ordained minister who worked for nearly a decade as a counselor for victims of abuse, rape, and incest. She acted as a board member of a Rape Crisis Center in a major city for three years. Her personal experience as a survivor of abuse and the mother of a survivor gives her a unique perspective. Her four pregnancy losses, as well as the loss of her son, have inspired her to share God’s healing power.

Xulon Press, a division of Salem Media Group, is the world’s largest Christian self-publisher, with more than 12,000 titles published to date. Retailers may order Gifts from the Ashes: Hope in Jesus for Bereaved Parents through Ingram Book Company and/or Spring Arbor Book Distributors.

Xulon CBB Book Ad

(((HUGS)))

Let’s Take a Closer Look (1)

Last October, the Lord had laid it on my heart to take a closer look at the ‘dynamics’ behind a passage(s) in His Word. I have been waiting on Him to give me the ‘go-ahead’ in doing so.  This may be the 1st of many, or perhaps ‘one of a kind’, that is up to His bidding. Though I have focused usually on the grief of losing my son, I have recently felt called to dig deeper into God’s Word on other matters.

I am to begin in Acts 16. I would 1st like to say that Jesus the Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebs. 13:8). He simply does not change. He still speaks to His children through His Word and He still grants visions, dreams, and perhaps even a visit from His messengers, the Angels (Hebs. 13:2). You do not have to be a ‘David’ or ‘Jeremiah’ to receive such, for God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise (1 Cor. 1:27).

In Acts 16:6, we find Paul being forbidden to preach (in Asia). Now some would think that they are to preach the Gospel everywhere. Yet, we find here that the Spirit of God prohibited them from doing so in this instance. In vs. 7, it says that ‘they tried to go’…’but the Spirit did not permit them’. There is so much in these two verses alone, I may get no farther in this article.

Have you ever been stopped by God’s Spirit from doing something? I have, and it’s like running into a brick wall. LOL! I am not speaking here of being stopped from doing something ‘wrong’ as in sinning. On the surface, something may appear to be a very good endeavor. As in these verses, they were simply intending on preaching the Gospel somewhere yet God stopped them from doing so. Tilt! To our natural mind this would make no sense. We are about to do something good, something we are commanded elsewhere to do (Mark 16:15), yet God puts on the brakes. This is why I so often stress that we should never place God into a box. What may seem right unto a person, isn’t always the ‘right’ thing to do (Prov. 14:12).

Example…

In the early 70’s, my then husband was often unfaithful. One day, I had received a call from a young woman who was attempting to reach my husband. She had told me that her reason for calling was because her brother was on heroine and my husband had helped him. My husband had been a minister at the time so on the surface such a thing would not be unusual. Yet, something in my spirit told me that something was terribly wrong. After her call, I immediately called a sister in the Lord with whom I had developed a very close relationship. We frequently spoke and had fellowship together, and I also held women’s Bible studies in her home because it was in a central convenient location to which other women could travel.

When I called her, I relayed the details and the discomfort in my spirit. We prayed.

Later that evening, when my husband came home from work, I was sitting in one of our overstuffed orange chairs in the living room in silence. I wasn’t quite sure how to approach him in this matter. Very mildly mannered, I informed him of the call I had received. He was silent. Then, he asked that I pray for him. I had no hesitation in doing so. I loved my husband very much and if he wanted me to pray for him, most certainly I would do so. As I bowed my head, I ran into that ‘brick wall’. I tried to pray… I tried again… then again. But God would not allow me to pray. I had never had such a thing occur before. I had often prayed for many. What could possibly be wrong about praying for someone, especially my husband? Yet, no matter how hard I tried, I could not pray for him.

Finally, I raised my head and told my husband with much bewilderment that God would not allow me to pray for him. Instantly, my husband fell to the floor prostrate as he was screaming out to God for His Mercy and forgiveness. All I could do is remain still in that big overstuffed orange chair.

1 Timothy 5:22

Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

This was the beginning of an understanding I was about to receive. God requires obedience in all things. He is a wonderful Parent… the absolute best! Obedience unto Him is not grievous, though it may seem so at times. He is not about ‘rules and regulations’ nor lists of ‘Do’s & Don’ts’. God is Love and so whatever He requires of us stems from His great Love. We may not have understanding at any given time when He tells us to do or not to do something, but that is where Trust enters in. His ‘do’s & don’ts’ are not legalistic. They are gentle proddings for our benefit and are rooted in His great love for our benefit.

Example…

I once heard a missionary relay this story. There was a boy who was outside playing and he had climbed a tree. His father had walked outside and began speaking with his son. Suddenly, his dad startled the boy by yelling at him: Don’t Move!!! Thankfully, his son instantly obeyed though he could not understand why his dad had yelled at him when all he had been doing is playing in the tree and they had just been having such a pleasant conversation. Well, as it turned out, there was a poisonous snake that had also climbed that tree and was just inches away from that boy. If he had not immediately adhered to his father’s command, he would have been bitten and died.

This is how we are to obey our Heavenly Father.

Yes, at times, God may even tell us not to pray for someone:

Jeremiah 7:16

“Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you.”

I know this may be new to some folks. Many things are often taught in churches with the best of intentions, but they may lack understanding of God’s ways. I certainly have not cornered the market on God. I can only share with others what I have learned, often through difficulties brought on by myself. I would like to encourage all to seek God on your own in such matters.

Acts 17:11

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

If those Bereans were commended for questioning all of which they were taught by Paul, we also should do likewise no matter who is teaching God’s Word. We must trust our Lord to ‘lead us into all truth’ (John 16:13, 1 John 2:27).

Well, that’s about it for this article. Please pray for me if God leads you to do so.

Image result for boy in tree by snake photo

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y
Articles on WordPress.com: https://wordpress.com/posts/bereavedparentsblog.wordpress.com.

Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134

The First Hill of the Roller Coaster

Those of us riding this roller coaster of grief come to realize over time that the first hill we must climb at ‘trigger’ times is the biggest. Because I now have three anniversaries consecutively which I have to deal with, I’ve come to understand that once I get past that first hill, I have survived another year even though I still have a ways to go before I pull into the station.

My son’s anniversary was 3/17, St. Patrick’s Day; my sister’s is 3/24; my Mom’s is on Easter. I find myself often being overwhelmed with all three at the onset, though I know there remains some other hills and curves I will yet have to ride out. However, the worst is now behind me.

Neither my eldest nor I travel anywhere for the few days leading up to St. Pat’s Day, nor on St. Pat’s Day itself anymore. Four years ago, my eldest son was driving to a store on St. Pat’s Day when suddenly an older gentleman who was driving in the opposite direction crossed over the center line and headed straight toward my son. He was able to swerve away quickly with only his side mirror being hit, but then this man crashed into the car behind him. When the police arrived at the scene of the accident, the officer that took my son’s statement was named Rodriguez.

Three years ago, on the eve of St. Pat’s Day, I had taken my daughter and her then fiance out for a very nice luncheon at a fine dining restaurant in the center of town to celebrate his birthday. As we parted and I entered onto the freeway to return home, I quickly maneuvered over to the passing lane of the four lane highway. There was heavy traffic with a number of trucks traveling at that time of day. Suddenly, I had a blowout. I had been driving for forty-seven years and my tires only had 23,000 miles on them, yet the tire had completely ripped away and within seconds I was driving on the rim. This was my first experience in all of those years of driving with a tire blowout. There was nowhere to pull over in the center so I had to cross over three lanes of traffic traveling at 70 MPH to have a place where I could pull off the road safely. I called my eldest who arrived on the scene to assist me within fifteen minutes. He put the spare tire on my vehicle and then accompanied me to a tire store to purchase a new tire. The man who waited on me was named Rodriguez.

Why is this significant? There are a few reasons. First, my son was killed on St. Patrick’s day. Secondly, he was killed in an auto accident. Thirdly, the young man that killed him was named Rodriguez.

I am not a superstitious person. I do believe, however, that:

Ephesians 6:12

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

As a result of these experiences two years in a row, both my son and myself felt it was wise to not venture out these past two years when approaching the anniversary of my son’s demise.

Last year was not significant. There was sorrow, pain, and tears shed but overall it was a fairly uneventful anniversary. This year, however, was very rough. The anticipation of anniversaries is always difficult. The countdown can begin as far as two months in advance. It usually starts off with some mild anxiety and just simple reminders that the day is approaching. By the time the anniversary is about one month away, the anxiety begins to increase and the ‘Grief Fog’ starts to float in. We find ourselves increasingly preoccupied and the ability to focus on tasks and remain attentive in a conversation gradually becomes more elusive. We may find ourselves asking someone with whom we are engaged with in a conversation to repeat what they just said because we momentarily drifted away. Often, we don’t know to where our minds drifted, nevertheless they did. Others around us may start to pick up on the fact that something is not quite ‘right’. We may begin to pull away from others at this time as a result. Memories are beginning to pop up, often unexpectedly. We may be functioning just fine on the surface, but internally not so much. Fear may begin to take hold of us as if something very bad is about to happen. It’s almost as if we are fearing that our child is going to die all over again and that we will once again be reliving that nightmare… and in many ways we do.

I have experienced different degrees of trauma throughout my life. Some of them were the result of abuse and rapes, others were due to physical injuries. I have also experienced the state of being in shock. None of those experiences, though quite overwhelming as they can be, compare with the trauma of losing my son. The degree of anguish and utter horror that grips our soul is simply indescribable. That deep wailing sound that many of us heard emitted from the depths of our soul we beforehand did not even know existed, is in a category all its own.

This anniversary was definitely harsh. I wailed not caring who could hear me or what they may have thought. I had two nightmares in a twelve hour period that terrified me, one had to do with driving a car and after someone cut in front of me, everything went totally black… yet I was still driving. I rarely ever have nightmares so to have two in such a brief period of time was very unnerving.

I do believe that we often will encounter spiritual battles. I have learned over time that when I am vulnerable and weakened at such times as birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc., the battle intensifies. I will try to prepare for such in advance as much as possible by taking more ‘me’ time. I have to be more conscientious regarding getting more rest, lightening my duties and responsibilities, watching what I eat and drinking more water, and forcing myself to get some sort of physical exercise if only taking more walks. I need to pray more, read the Scriptures more, and simply take care of me more.

My thoughts drifted to the story of Daniel in chapter 10:

“1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a message was revealed to Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar. The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision. In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”

Daniel was mourning and he was given a vision.

“7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground.”

All of Daniel’s strength was drained from him. All his companions distanced themselves from him. But then a marvelous thing happened, an Angel appeared.

“12 Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.””

Please take note of a couple of things. First, the Angel lets Daniel know that his prayers were heard the very first day he cried out to God for help. Secondly, because of the battles which were occurring in the Heavenly places ‘against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness‘, the Angel had been delayed three weeks.

So what is the message we can lay hold of in this passage? Simply, hold on… help is on the way.

Image result for hold on, help is on the way photo

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y
Articles on WordPress.com: https://wordpress.com/posts/bereavedparentsblog.wordpress.com.

Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134

 

The Undertow

***First, I want to warn folks who have lost their child or loved one from drowning that this may be sensitive material for you, so you may not want to read this.

Twice in my life, I have had near-drowning experiences. The first occurred at Virginia Beach when I was young and newly married. We had taken a month to tour the East Coast, stopping off at a number of beaches to body surf. It was the time of ‘longhairs’ and hippies. We had borrowed my then-husband’s parents’ van which we slept in. When it was time for a meal, we had a small burner we could use so we would open the back doors of the van and do our cooking wherever we found a parking spot on the street. We could do such things in those days without violating any laws.

On one day, while at Virginia Beach, we had spent most of the afternoon catching waves. What we didn’t realize is that the current had changed over the course of time that day. Sometimes, we would swim far out with a blown-up raft and sit and wait for that perfect wave. Other times, we would simply ride in a wave without a raft. Finally, without my raft, I caught a beauty of a wave. Swiftly, I swam to the perfect spot to catch it and I was thrilled that I had. I traveled for quite a distance before it took me into shore. However, once I arrived, a second wave quickly had formed and came crashing down upon me. As it did, the undertow of the wave I had ridden began to pull me back out to sea. As it dragged me along the sand violently ripping open my skin, which left a scar on my abdomen for decades, I was unable to surface. One wave was pushing my legs over my head, while the undertow was dragging me in the opposite direction.

Eventually, somehow, I did surface and as I looked up, an ambulance had arrived for another woman. The beach was closed immediately thereafter.

On a second occasion, we were attending a wedding in a park by a river. It was not a very large river, however, unbeknownst to us the water had been slowly rising as the day progressed as a result of the rains from the previous day. My attention was suddenly drawn to my good friend who was struggling to not be washed over the old stone wall barrier that crossed the river. I immediately jumped in to swim out to her. I was able to anchor myself as the current was increasingly becoming more furious, and yanked her back to safety. However, after she told me that her husband had already been washed over, I was then caught in the current and was washed over, as well. On the other side of this barrier was a small, but powerful, waterfall. I found myself tumbling around and around doing somersaults as if I was trapped in a washing machine. I was no longer able to determine what was up and what was down. Suddenly, I heard a very quiet voice that simply said: “Rest”. I immediately quit my struggling and allowed my body to go as limp as a well-cooked string of spaghetti. Upon doing so, I popped to the surface and was freed from the waterfall.

Upon surfacing and catching my breath, I then saw my friend’s husband, my foster daughter, and another young man I didn’t recognize… all of whom had climbed upon a huge boulder in the river. I quickly joined them and was surprised to find my husband there, too. We spent a few minutes shaking off the shock and fear of our experiences, then began to discuss how we were going to get off of that rock and up the cliff on the shore. Just as we all voiced in agreement that it would be great if we simply could get a hold of a rope to scale the side of the cliff, a young man appeared at the top and threw over a long thick rope. At this point, we were all smiling and thanking God. Somehow, we all did scale that cliff using that rope though none of us had ever done such a thing before.

Some folks wonder why I believe in God as I do. It’s pretty simple, actually. I have faced numerous situations throughout my life in which inexplicable events have taken place. How is it that I somehow surfaced from that undertow when another woman had to be rescued and hauled away in an ambulance? How is it that I heard that still small voice that simply said: “Rest”, and then upon doing so, safely surfaced once again? How is it that doctors and all the tests they performed determined I could not have children, yet in three totally unrelated locations with Christian folks who had no knowledge of the others, directly or indirectly told me I would…which I did? How is it that my son who died just happened to be named after Psalm 23:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

My son’s name is Roderick Stafford.

Honestly, I am hurting like hell at the moment. I feel physically ill and nauseous and want to go hide under a rock somewhere…any where. Yet, I know my God! He has always rescued me; He has always saved me when I was certain I would not survive. Why? I have no idea ‘Why me, Lord?’. But He has. Yet, I still have times of doubt. ‘Lord, help me overcome my unbelief.’

Psalm 119:171-173 (NCV)

171 Let me speak your praise,
    because you have taught me your demands.
172 Let me sing about your promises,
    because all your commands are fair.
173 Give me your helping hand,
    because I have chosen your commands.

So as I have my meltdown and the liar whispers in my ear that You will forsake me, that this time I am on my own… I will speak of your miracles of old to silence him, I shall resist him and he will flee. Why? Because my God is Great! My God is faithful! My God is Love! This undertow of pain that intends to draw me out to sea and drown me shall not,  for my God is Bigger and His will shall be done!

Image result for god is my refuge photo

(((HUGS)))  Jude Gibbs, Author of ‘Gifts from the Ashes’ available at:
http://www.directtextbook.com/isbn/9781498496728?geis=y
Articles on WordPress.com: https://wordpress.com/posts/bereavedparentsblog.wordpress.com.

Also, a Contributor on ‘The Mighty’: https://themighty.com/author/jude-gibbs/

Please help spread the Word. TY! (((HUGS)))

I am the author of this piece and using it without my written permission is against copyright law. Registration# TX 8-383-134