Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Charlie Brown's Kids; "Good Grief"

By Shelly Burke, Editor

When Bev Prucha’s husband died she had just turned 34 years old, and was left to raise two small children (ages 2 ½ and 4 ½) by herself. After his death she received invitations to join support groups for widows, but found that most of the ladies attending were much older and didn’t have children at home—children who needed help to cope with the death of a parent.

Bev and two other young widows decided to start a support group for their children. They got the necessary training about death, grief, and grieving, and in January of 1985 Charlie Brown’s Kids met for the first time. Bev says “Charlie Brown’s Kids is for kids affected by the trauma of losing a parent. At that time (during the early 1980’s) there was nothing for younger kids who were trying to cope with that loss. Kids who attend their first meeting of Charlie Brown’s Kids often say how relieved they are when they find someone to talk to, someone who has been through the same trauma, and someone who understands their thoughts and feelings.”

Charlie Brown’s Kids meetings take place every two weeks, and are designed for children age 3-18 (kids are divided into groups by age). During the meetings, led by adults, attendees discuss a topic, hear a relevant story, and express their feelings by writing, drawing, or another activity. Bev recommends kids attending for a full year, and many stay for several years, finding, Bev explains, “a new normal. New beginnings.” (See meeting information at the end of this article.)

Children who lose a parent are at a higher risk for mental health problems (including depression and entering into destructive relationships) during adolescence or young adult- hood, making it very important for them to learn to deal with their grief in constructive and healthy ways. The name “Charlie Brown’s Kids” reflects the purpose of the group; Bev says, “We kept tossing out names but couldn’t find the right one, until someone mentioned Charlie Brown, and how he always says ‘good grief.’ We want to guide these kids through their grief in a “good” way, not a destructive way.”

In 1999 Charlie Brown’s Kids joined with several other organizations to offer HUGS (Helping us Grieve Successfully) Camp, described by Bev as “An all day Charlie Brown’s Kids meeting,” held at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo (see more information at the end of this article). The HUGS website describes the day like this:

Youth are divided into four age groups to be able to more effectively assist them with the grieving process. Adults attending will gain ideas and learn skills to help themselves and their children through the grieving process, as well as attaining additional adult support.

Groups are led by professionals skilled in working with individuals that are grieving. Mental health professionals are also available to address individual concerns.

The theme for the 2011 Day Camp is “Exploring the Circle of Life – Jungle Journey.” Activities are based on the struggles each of us experience throughout our journey through grief. We will explore how adults and children grieve differently.”

Bev’s children are now grown. Bev ends our talk by saying, “When we started Charlie Brown’s Kids there were just three families involved. I had no clue that it would grow so large, and no idea that it would last this long.”

Charlie Brown’s Kids is a non-profit organization, and can always use monetary donations. Volunteers (people with grief experience are preferred) are needed to lead groups, and board members are also needed. For more information go to http://www.charliebrownskids.org/ .

Charlie Brown’s Kids Meetings are held at Sheridan Lutheran Church (6955 Old Cheney Rd in Lincoln, NE) on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month from 6pm to 8pm. Bring your own brown bag supper. Please call ahead; call (402) 483-1845 or contact Bev at bev@charliebrownskids.org.

HUGS Camp is for children and teens, age 5 and up, and their families. The twelfth annual grief camp will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2011, from 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, 1222 S 27nd Street. For more information contact: Kathryn Burklund, Committee Chair, Lincoln Parks and Recreation at (402) 441-4900 or go to http://www.hugscamp.org./

Monday, May 30, 2011

Behind the Scenes at the Wayne Herald--How the Nebraska Family Times is Printed

I'm always interested in what goes on "behind the scenes." In May, Tracy (who writes for the paper and helps me deliver it sometimes) and I got to the Wayne Herald while the paper was still being printed. Al Pippitt, the Press Foreman who has worked for the Wayne Herald for 35 years, showed us how he made plates (like negatives) of each page of the paper and inserted them in the press so the paper could be printed. He made adjustments on the press throughout the process to make the words darker, lighter, or clearer. On one end of the press was a large roll of blank newsprint, and as the paper went through the pages were printed. It was fascinating to watch the paper get printed, cut, and folded. Here are some photos of the process. Thanks, Al, for showing us the press and answering all of our questions! 
The paper "starts" at the far end of the press and is completed by the time it gets to the closest part of the press.

Al Pippitt sets up one of the page plates.

A partially printed page--a colored page--goes through the press.

A partially printed page.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Heaven is for Real
(This review appeared in the May issue of the Nebraska Family Times. If you would like a FREE sample copy, call (402) 993-2467 or e-mail shelly@shellyburke.net.)

By Megan Stromberg

If you’re like me, you believed heaven is for real, even before picking up this book. But, much like our sinful human nature, I want to “see” to believe.

Without giving away too much of the story, I’ll share with you some details of Heaven is for Real. At the center of the story is the Burpo family, from Imperial, NE. Their son Colton underwent a surgery at the young age of 3. Months later, as his family still dealt with the after-effects of the illness and other family challenges, he began to share tidbits of what happened while he was in surgery. The elements, they realized, were things that he should have no way of knowing. His father, a pastor, was floored by the depth of Colton’s revelations.

The book of Revelation is referenced frequently throughout Heaven is For Real. I’ve studied Revelation in several small group Bible Studies and on my own before, but this book made me want to revisit it. Throughout the book several other Bible passages are referenced to explain Colton’s disclosures. As a believer, I found myself grabbing my Bible to read many of the passages.

The book is much more than a compilation of the Burpo’s ordeal and Colton’s stories. It is a challenge to all adults – especially parents – to revisit our “childlike faith.”

Skeptics might argue that Colton’s father put these ideas in his head, or maybe even pushed them to help promote the book. I have to admit, there were times as I read that I questioned whether the events really happened. But after finishing the story in three short sittings, I have chosen to cling to the faith that continues to bring me back to God’s Word daily and that led me to Heaven is For Real.

I hope Heaven is For Real challenges you to consider your own beliefs, to search God’s Word for a better understanding of what He promises us in eternal life, and gives you hope that a loved one who was so broken physically or emotionally when they passed from this earth has been restored in heaven.

Because for me, HEAVEN IS FOR REAL. Thank you Colton for sharing those details through your child-like faith and for encouraging me in my own journey. Thank you Burpo family for baring your souls to your challenges and tragedies. May God bless you all in your journey.

And may God bless you – readers – in your discovery of His amazing power.

Megan Stromberg lives in Columbus, NE, with her husband and their five children.