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Survivor's Guilt

This is dedicated to Keith M. Tomlin’s family and the Pinecrest Timber Company.

I want to take a moment to speak into the topic of Survivor’s Guilt, a mental condition that occurs when a person believes they have done something wrong by surviving a traumatic or tragic event when others did not, often feeling self-guilt.

But first, let me introduce you to Pinecrest Timber Company.

They are a “high production logging contractor with multiple crews - Purchaser of tracts with at least 20 acres in Sussex, Surry, PG, IOW, Southampton, Dinwiddie, Greensville, Brunswick counties and the city of Suffolk in VA, and Gates/Hertford and Northampton Counties in NC"

Pinecrest Timber is a very successful logging chipping contractor located in Southeastern Virginia. Pinecrest has an outstanding leadership team which includes eight Everett family members. To quote the founder, “We are a family based Christian based organization.” Pinecrest is an industry leader with very innovative and forward thinking ideals. Its employees are its most valuable asset and as such are highly trained and skilled in modern safe industry leading practices and procedures. Employees are rewarded by industry leading salaries and benefits. Pinecrest was recently named the Outstanding Logger of The Year for 2016 by the Virginia Forestry Association!

There has been a few sudden deaths within this company. In the past week, they’ve experienced another one. But, I am here to tell you that this did not take God by surprise.

Guilt, defined as a verb, is making (someone) feel guilty, especially in order to induce them to do something. Guilt is not an emotion given by God. I learned this term called dirty pain. Guilt is a dirty pain emotion. We have thoughts of guilt that then turn into emotional weights that become chains around our hearts for something we most likely had no control of changing, yet we feel responsible in some way for not doing something. The humanity moments in our lives tend to carry over, and over time, it starts to bury us emotionally. How can we give God glory for the “after story” if we are buried under the guilt of the “what if” story?

What do you do when another loved one, co-worker, or friend is gone? How do you move on? Where is God in all of this? Am I next? I didn’t even get to say goodbye? What about their family? These are just a few of the thoughts many have pondered in the last week.

Let’s take a moment to pause. 🙏🏼

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not put this kind of guilt on yourselves. Even if these thoughts are a part of our humanity, I have learned the longer you ponder them the longer your recovery time. Our thought life is critical to our heart life. What you choose to override those thoughts with is a moment by moment decision. For some, it can be too overwhelming, so they choose a quick fix like alcohol, weed, porn, over-working, or constantly on social media. Even helping others can be a distraction from your own thoughts. How do you escape? I am here to tell you…It’s Jesus!!!

I know this might seem preachy, but please hear me out. Looking back at my sudden death experience, if I had not run to church to praise my way through the grief in the early days, I don’t know where I would be. The praise filled my mind with truth, encouragement, joy, and motivation. The list could go on and on. It’s a kingdom tool.

“To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Isaiah 61:3 NKJV

This passage breaks down the emotional feelings with an INSTEAD choice that leads to healing. You can choose to allow the spirit of mourning to linger or accept the oil of joy as your portion. You can choose to see the beauty over the ashes. You can choose to put on the spirit of heaviness or the garment of praise. Pinecrest Timber, this verse is for you!! It’s about the oaks of righteousness. You have been planted as a generational family business and you have an opportunity to continue to show that Jesus will get the glory no matter your Pinecrest story.

If you are having a hard time seeing the good, pray and ask the Father to show you what He sees. It’s called an eternal perspective. He can do it. He’s done it for me.

Is this easy? NO! Is this possible?

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’”

Mark 9:23 NKJV

“Jesus said to him, ‘What do you mean “if”? If you are able to believe, all things are possible to the believer.’”

Mark 9:23 TPT

Below is a sermon Pastor Steven Furtick preached recently at Elevation Church on this very passage. It’s very powerful:

I want to encourage you today. There is another way instead of wallowing in the grief of your present circumstance or in survivor’s guilt for being left behind. This phrase has really helped me:

Leverage the Grief

Leverage has the following meanings: 1. to use as borrowed capital for (an investment), expecting the profits made to be greater than the interest payable (ex. without clear legal title to their assets, they own property that cannot be leveraged as collateral for loans); use (something) to maximum advantage (ex. the organization needs to leverage its key resources).

Use something (this moment) to maximize your advantage!!


The organization needs to leverage its key resources….again, wow!

Pinecrest what are your key resources?


You are the breakthrough for each other. Grieving together makes everything better. Together you walk through the grief. Together you check on each other. Together you continue to build your business with righteousness and excellence. Together you leverage the grief and keep on going.

Your feelings are real. This loss hit hard and it hurts. Take time to remember Keith’s life which impacted so many. What can you carry on that Keith M. Tomlin exemplified? This is the kind of kingdom carrying that matters and is life giving. There is a legacy story to be told here. I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

Pinecrest Timber, keep up the good work!! It’s working and God is watching.

The passage below mentions a shattered heart right in the middle of praising:

“Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! How beautiful it is when we sing our praises to the beautiful God, for praise makes you lovely before him and brings him great delight! Yahweh builds up Jerusalem; he gathers up the outcasts and brings them home. He heals the wounds of every shattered heart. He sets his stars in place, calling them all by their names. How great is our God! There’s absolutely nothing his power cannot accomplish, and he has infinite understanding of everything. Sing out with songs of thanksgiving to the Lord! Let’s sing our praises with melodies overflowing!”

Psalms 147:1-5, 7 TPT

If I could put a challenge out to you today, please read this very chapter every day for 30 days. Not only will it change your mood, it might actually change your life. For, when you start speaking His words over you something happens on the inside of you.

I asked a co-worker of Pinecrest for a few words. This is what she said: “When I think of Keith, I think he had two loves. He loved his family and he loved his work family. His wife and boys were his world and he was a loving and devoted father. His love for his job, work ethic, and dedication to our company was unmatched. He was all in, in every way, kind of guy. That’s the kind of guy you want by your side. His shoes are unfillable, but he would want us to go on and continue to thrive as a company that he had worked so hard to help build.”

He was loved, plain and simple, and he knew where he belonged and what gave him purpose. Keith was living the good life, and now we have an opportunity as a community to extend our hearts to his wife and boys. This is loving people forward. Survivor’s guilt has no chance when we love deeply (as a community) with open hands. Thank you, Jesus, for this last line, it rhymes and therefore I know it was sent from the Divine.

Welp, I hope you have enjoyed this week’s Sending and Mending Survivor’s Guilt edition.

Until next time,

Stay tender.

Connect to the Mender

Be a sender.

P.S. I have a new single out called “Sinking Sand”. This song was inspired after my grandmother passed last year. It might not sound like it, but it’s my interpretation of her receiving a kiss on the hand when she crossed over into eternity and met Jesus. I’m very hopefully that same moment happened for Keith too.

Sinking Sand:

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