Dealing with Family Series – Ester
July 12, 2018
Dealing with family Series – Ester
Our First guest blogger is Ester Swanson, and here is her “story”.
The journey……..becoming torah observant.
I was the fourth child born to my parents and the first one born in this country. My parents
were from Canada and my father attended seminary in this country. Once he graduated from
seminary, it was just easier to find pastoral positions in this country, and so my family didn’t
return to live in Canada. My father felt strongly that post secondary christian education was
important and so the first three high school graduates were bundled off to christian colleges.
But by the mid to late seventies times had changed a great deal and my father decided that
wasn’t good enough – so he mandated that I attend a Bible School in Canada. At the time it
didn’t seem like a bad thing; I took classes like Old Testament Survey and New Testament
Survey and learned doctrines like dispensationalism. I only took 1 year of Bible School, but
that was pretty heavy indoctrination.
I met my husband when I was 20 years old and we were married when I was 21 and he was 24.
He was from a conservative lutheran background and I had been raised primarily in the
Evangelical Free Church. His faith upbringing was actually better than mine, although I didn’t
think so at the time! He wasn’t bogged down by teachings about “the rapture” and various
dispensations. By the time we got married the pre-trib, mid-trib and post-trib rapture theories
were rampant and were a regular conversation in every church we were involved in throughout
the years. We settled into a “nice” southern baptist church in the town we moved to in the mid
eighties, and we stayed with the southern baptist denomination until we moved to NY in 2012.
That was a very lengthy time of indoctrination into the “once saved, always saved” mindset.
That very mindset is one that lulls a believer into apathy, lethargy and sleep. The very structure
of a typical church service doesn’t incline a person to any real growth spiritually either. The
20-30 minute message was normally out of the New Testament and mostly designed to
reinforce a particular doctrinal stance of the church, or to expound on “grace” – but not to
really understand our Creator and His plan for us. At the time I thought I knew the Bible (I had
regular devotions and read through the Bible annually for years) – but, alas, in retrospect, I
didn’t know much at all. Dave and I were very active in the churches we attended. Both of us
are musically inclined and we were worship leaders for 15 years, Dave was also a deacon and I
taught various classes. When we moved from Illinois to New York, we left behind our very
identity and started a whole new life. It seemed like a good decision at the time, and I have no
doubt that YHWH was moving us to awaken us from the lethargy we were in, but it turned out
to be a very hard 5 years for us.
We came to be with family in a family-owned business. Our son and daughter-in-law had
come prior and were expecting our first grandchild, and we were all excited to be back
together again. Our daughter was finishing up college and would join us once she graduated.
We were all working for a family member, who wanted us here, but, unbeknownst to us, was
incredibly insecure about having us here and, in actuality, was resentful of us. We worked for
him for 5 seasons – 4 1/2 years. They were long, hard years. We lost our identity and our
freedom. We literally were slaves to the business. During the season (April through October)
we were at the beck and call of the business 24/7. We didn’t have the freedom to do anything
we wanted to do during that time frame. It wasn’t unusual to have to get up at 2 or 3 in the
morning to tend to an emergency, and then still work regular hours that next day. Our son was
also struggling mightily – he was in the same position as we were – he had lost his entire
identity and our employer was trying to break him down and re-shape him into the person he
wanted him to be. At the same time, our employer was going between the husband/wife
relationship of our son and his wife, denigrating our son to his wife and denigrating us, the inlaws,
to our daughter-in-law. After some time, our employer began to do the same thing with
my husband and me – trying to turn my husband against me. Each year became worse. We
can see all of this clearly in retrospect, but as we were going through it, we didn’t understand
what was happening.
In November of 2013 we were preparing to go away for some much needed time off and our
son gave us hours of recordings on MP3s for the trip. He had been exploring all sorts of
“truther” topics and wanted us to listen to them. He also had us watch a video done by
Leonard Ulrich on the new world order and 911. I had always rejected the 911 conspiracy
theories under the firm, but misguided, belief that our government would never do anything to
hurt us! Watching that video was the beginning of my paradigm shift. It was so hard to
comprehend – sometimes I thought my head would explode. Among the MP3 recordings were
some by Rob Skiba about the nephilim and Genesis 6. I had read through the Bible annually
for years and years and somehow had never noted this section of scripture! I soon found out
that, due to the indoctrination of the church, I had selectively read the Bible and read over
things that didn’t compute with what I had been taught. I know I’m not alone in this behavior.
Another recording that shook us to the core was one by a former occultist about the very
holidays that Christians hold dear: Christmas and Easter. We were stunned. How could this
be? And, if this was true, how could we celebrate Christmas and Easter again? As we drove
back to NY in December, we talked about it – we had already purchased all of the gifts for that
Christmas, so we decided to go through with it as we tried to study it out further.
In the two years that followed, I began to seriously research history to try to either validate
what the church was teaching or what I had recently been exposed to. It was stunning – I
discovered the truth about Sabbath, about the feasts, about obedience to YHWH, about
paganism in the church – absolutely stunning. During this time we were unable to find a
“church” that we were comfortable in. In retrospect, I now understand that there is no church
anywhere, under current organized religion, that a person who wants to truly follow YHWH will
be comfortable in. In searching through the 119 Ministries map, I discovered Ana and Chad.
During that time we would get together to do bible study and talk. Many times we would
chase rabbit trails as well – but it was all good! They were a bright light in our dark lives. The
area that we lived and worked in has heavy demonic activity and several of us at that place of
employment were being pushed demonically. I finally broke the chains of the demonic
pushing in my life when we moved from the employer provided housing and into our own
house. I firmly believe that the employer is still being demonically pushed, as well as our soonto-be former daughter in law.
In late 2015 we broke ground on our house and during the winter of 2015-2016 we worked like
never before trying to get the house done enough so that we could live in it. We had a crew
come in to pour concrete, frame it, get it under roof and windows installed – – and then Dave
and I took over. We did everything else: electrical, plumbing, heating, drywall, flooring, etc. It
was a huge project for two almost retired people to do, but we did it! We cashed in all our
retirement money to build this house – it wasn’t a tremendous amount but it was all we had.
Building the house was not our idea – our employer thought we should do it and worked on us
until we agreed to do it. That being said, we agreed to it, and so our physical weariness
compounded. 2016 was our last year of employment there – it became truly unsufferable. We
also celebrated passover in 2016. Walking from organized religion to torah observance was,
for us, a very slow progress. It is such a paradigm shift that is has to take time just to keep
ones sanity in the process. We moved into our house (without a proper permit) Memorial
weekend, because we had to vacate the place we were living in and had no other place to go.
By this time the relationship between our son and his wife was done and we watched in
absolute horror as she chased men openly and defiantly. Our son was devastated. Our
relationship with our employer (my brother) went from bad to worse and even worse. All the
while, we worked our jobs and then tried to get our house project done, one job at a time. I
began attending a messianic church about 1 1/2 hours away from me on Sabbath and did that
for about 3 months. That was what I needed to complete the break from churchianity. We
were also meeting with a pastor and his wife in Corning who had come here to start a church.
We absolutely loved them – – but realized that they weren’t the answer either. We still love them
– – and we still get together with them from time to time, but only in a social context now. I
don’t know what YHWH has for our relationship with them, but I am certain there is something.
By the fall of 2016 our employer gave my husband an ultimatum, his job or his wife. He chose
me! I had already quit my job there – it was too much to take. So, there we were, trying to
follow YHWH, trying to understand what we were supposed to do, trying to complete a house,
and no income!
By the way, if any of you have noticed that your family members have zero tolerance for torah
observance and your walk…….you’re not alone! I no longer post anything on FB regarding my
walk because it causes too much anger. I have come to the place that I understand that this is
my walk – – and that’s what I need to do, walk it out.
It was about this time, or shortly thereafter, that we met Mike and CJ and we fellowshipped
with them for a time. Of all the groups that we have fellowshipped with during our trip out of
churchianity, this group is the one we are most fond of.
2017 didn’t get any better – – our son left the area for a couple of months in spring to try to get
his head on – – our daughter-in-law spent the winter partying hard – – and we took care of our
grandchildren for the majority of that time. We had no income and our expenses continued to
go up with caring for littles. In May our son returned and moved in with us – and we continued
caring for the grandchildren at least 50% of the time. At that same time our daughter in law
moved a man into the marital house that our son was still paying for. Ouch! During this time
Dave worked hard on our house to try to finish it and I got a job so that we could meet our
monthly living expenses. We had no health insurance and our only income was what I could
make at my job. In August I was injured in what I believe was a physical demonic attack.
There is no other explanation for it. My husband watched the incident in complete disbelief
and I sustained a traumatic brain injury. Folks, if you believe that the adversary doesn’t care
about you waking up to YHWH and His ways for your lives, you are mistaken! He cares greatly!
As we have been slowly walking this out and discovering His truths, the attacks have
intensified – almost like labor pains! In 2017 we were determined to observe Sabbath and the
feasts. We did so, in some fashion or other – but certainly not perfectly! By November of 2017
the house was, for all intents and purposes, done and Dave was able to get a job. We’re a bit
old to be looking for work now, but YHWH is good and faithful, and our need is there! He has
been so faithful in seeing us through all of this – – he has helped me negotiate my hospital bills
down to about half of the original charges – and he is helping us pay those bills off. We are
very thankful. My brain injury has improved greatly, but there clearly is still some swelling.
Sometimes, when I turn my head, I get dizzy. I can walk fine – but going up and down the
stairs if I’m carrying anything can be a bit tricky. But – there was no brain bleed and that, in
itself, is something to praise YHWH for!
2018 is still being written………our son is in the process of becoming divorced from his wife.
There certainly has been trauma done to the little children caught in the drama of the last
couple of years and we are determined to be a “safe haven” for those little ones. But, we have
peace and joy in our lives – and our son has peace and joy!
So, what’s the family result for TO? Well, Dave and I are torah observant and our daughter
became torah observant as a result of watching us walk it out. She is blessed to live within 5
minutes of a wonderful messianic synagogue with a wonderful believing Rabbi. She is in a
serious relationship with a torah observant man and we are looking at a wedding within the
next year. Our son is not torah observant. His rough patch has been excruciatingly painful and
he is having a hard time with spiritual things. He is currently walking out traditional christianity
and is trying to draw closer to his creator. He has his own path to walk out, and right now, it
isn’t the same path that we are on. I would say that he is somewhere between the broad path
and the narrow path – but it is YHWH who has to open his eyes and ears and heart to the truth,
and I believe YHWH will do that.
What about my husband’s family? Well, there is no reception there. His mother is almost 98
years old and became so upset with us when we gave up pork that we haven’t broached
anything else with her. It’s been a couple of years and she can’t get past that! We live a 2 day
drive away from her, so we are never together for “traditional” holidays anyway, which makes
things much easier. I believe Dave has spoken to his only sibling about some of this, but there
hasn’t been any real reception.
What about the rest of my family? Well, I’m glad you asked! There are 6 siblings in my family
and out of the 6 of us, there are now two of us who are torah observant. My sister and her
husband became torah observant as we were “mid-stream” in the process. It’s been wonderful
having a family member on the same journey as us! Are the other siblings watching? Yep –
they sure are. Are they ready to leave the broad path……not yet……… Some are really angry
with us for doing this, but, some are watching us intently. That’s the whole point – – we all walk
it out in one way or another, and how we walk this out impacts those around us. Some will
watch and observe and eventually ask questions – some will outright reject what we are doing.
But, it is YHWH who draws people and who gives them eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to
receive. We are not here to be Torah Terrorists; our job is simply to walk this out to the best of
our ability, and, along the way, shed light in a very dark world.
Thank you Ester for sharing!
If you want to share your story let me know and we can include you in our series! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook Cannon Keepsakes