By Rosemary Horvath
So when a sister suggested a book was in order, the retired pastor of Clare Congregational United Church of Christ acted.
“Soothe Your Soul: Meditations to Help You Through Life’s Painful Moments” was published by Abbot Press, a division of Writer’s Digest.
“It was like putting together a puzzle,” Vredeveld said of organizing her observations and meditations she had collected for years woven out of tribulations she personally confronted.
She speaks freely of the loss she experienced over the death of the youngest of her three daughters, Sheri Joy, in 2001, who dies at age 28 from ovarian cancer. The book is dedicated to her memory.
“The Blue Heron drawing on the cover represents my daughter. The pencil drawings in the book were done by the daughter of my oldest daughter Julie, my granddaughter. She is 22 and just graduated from college. She was the same little girl who stood by me 12 years ago.”
Vredeveld said people dealing with life’s painful transitions are drawn to her book. Coping with death isn’t confined with losing a loved one. Devastation can come from a job loss or chronic illness.
“Any change that requires adjustment in life,” Vredeveld added. She and husband Ronald live in Clare. He retired as chaplain for people with developmental disabilities in three counties. They lived in different places around the country before moving to Mount Pleasant in 1979. Both are from the Grand Rapids area.
Vredeveld graduated from Central Michigan University in 1983 and became a private voice teacher. She was called to seminary while attending Immanuel Lutheran Church in Mount Pleasant. She studied at Chicago Theological Seminary and was ordained as a United Church of Christ miniter at the church in Clare on Dec. 5, 1993.
“I had been a church musician for many years and had gone through a period of real trauma in my life,” she reflected. A product of a conservative fundamentalist church background, she was the youngest of 10 children and reared in an environment where women had limited choices beyond married life.
Her decision to become a minister met resistance at first but her family, particularly her father, came
o support her decision.
“I was 50 at my ordination. All the family attended. I had all the people of the church and my parents lay hands on my head. My father said I don’t believe in female ministers but I believe in you.”
Vredeveld said she was the surprise twin born after her sister. “I’ve been surprising my family ever since,” she said jokingly but admitting she has always felt “the runt of the litter. I didn’t give myself enough credit for my gifts.” She said her one core belief is “within our core we each are all children of God.”
Vredeveld may write another book. “I am just relieved to have this book out. There are a lot of stories that are inspirations so I am not closing the door on that prospect.” “Soothe Your Soul: Meditations to Help You Through Life’s Painful Moments” is available in hard-cover and softcover and may be found online through amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com or abbottpress.com. It will soon be available in bookstores and as an e-book.