About the Author

Angie is the proud wife of Todd Smith of Selah, and the blessed mommy to Abby, Ellie, Kate, Charlotte, and Audrey Caroline, who passed away the day she was born, April 7th, 2008. Angie was inspired to write Audrey's story, and began the blog www.audreycaroline.blogspot.com in honor of her. You...

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  1. Angie, watching the video, my heart broke for you and Ann for the unbelievably difficult shadow moments you’ve both had to experience. Even though I haven’t had such difficult shadow moments, I especially appreciated the beautiful and powerful video. I’m still teary-eyed.

    And I appreciated that Ann asked the hard questions in Chapter 5, the questions which gave her message more impact. After the questions, I love her answers (definitely seeds in this journey of gratitude): “Above the clouds, light never stops shining….Who would ever know the greater graces of comfort and perseverance, mercy and forgiveness, patience and courage, if no shadows fell over a life?….When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn’t all become gift?….suffering nourishes grace, and pain and joy are arteries of the same heart – and mourning and dancing are but movements in His unfinished symphony of beauty….All is grace….God is always good and I am always loved. Everything is eucharisteo.”

    I’ll be praying for everyone who requests prayer here.

  2. Ang, my heart is still with you, always with you.

    My shadow moment? My health. My health has never been good, calm, or easy to handle. I have had 19 surgeries. In the fall of 2009 I missed my first semester of college because of SIX brain surgeries, a blood clot, staph meningitis, and staph pneumonia between August and November. I have epilepsy, my thyroid removed for tumors, steel in my back from scoliosis, terrible asthma, I’m allergic to basically everything outside. Something on my body ALWAYS hurts. I think I’ve spent probably at least the past two years struggling in dealing with anger I’m harboring, anger I don’t always admit to, because my life just seems so unfair. Like just when I think things have calmed down, I get a new problem. The DAY before I was leaving for college this semester, I got diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, which is a really unattractive issue that freezes the muscles on one side of your face. What college student wants to have to deal with that surrounded by strangers? I get so angry sometimes, even when people try to say encouraging things to me like “God never gives you more than what you can handle.” and I just want to say I REALLY wish He didn’t think I could handle so much. I’m overweight, because of my lack of thyroid the only way I’m going to lose weight is through exercise, and I can’t seem to get healthy enough to exercise! I try to remind myself that hey, at least I’m alive, because that’s true – I AM grateful that I have a life to live. But I’m just tired, and hurt, and angry, and am praying that God will help me find the strength not to be those things anymore…

    • Mallory, I am so sorry for your struggles. I pray for you that as time goes by that He will comfort you and bring you His Shalom. I pray that He will help you to see His purposes in a way that makes sense to you. I pray for significant healing. Blessings to you.

      • Mallory,
        That “saying” is not biblical. I wish people would quit using it. The bible talks about him always giving us a way out of temptation, not that he gives us bad things to “handle”. Plus, I can’t “handle” anything without Him, anyway.
        We can bear each other’s burdens, and bring them to the Lord. THAT’S biblical.
        Thanks for sharing your struggle. I will be praying for you this week.

        • Thank you, Colleen. I don’t know how many times I’ve said and/or written those words …. That is NOT Biblical. God NEVER said He won’t give us more than we can handle. I hate those words. I’ve been told them so many times over the past three years …. three years that I’ve been living without the love of my life for over 27 years. Three years to raise my 6 children by myself because he died suddenly at the age of 47. Forty seven! I know for a fact that God can, indeed, give me way more than I can bear. But, with His love, His strength, His comfort and His constant presence, I’m still here. And I can still find thankfulness in my life.
          Thanks for letting me vent.
          🙂

    • I am sad reading this. Have never had as much as you…but have been thru seasons where I had no relief from pain, could not get off the couch due to the pain, and all those around me eventually just smiled faintly and I could feel their judgment. Will be praying for you! Such a season of unrest, disappointment, fierce anger that pleas of prayers aren’t answered…I remember those days. I pray this seasons ends soon!

    • A friend of mine who has been through long difficult battle with her husband’s health (and they were just recently told there is nothing they can do for him – their youngest is just under 2) – She once responded to that comment as “God DOES give you more than you can handle – because only then can we fully rely on HIM because we don’t have the strength to handle it. Mallory – may our Lord’s strength and presence be with you!
      Wendy

      • Chuck Swindoll said once: God never gives more than you AND HE can handle TOGETHER. That saying puts it in perspective for me. Praying for you ladies, May He give you the moment by moment grace that you need to face life and its challenges with Him.

    • Precious Mallory— 19 surgeries is so much pain, so much cost, so much loss during years when kids run and play and blow bubbles. I think of all the people in the Gospels coming to Jesus and HE keeps asking “What do you want?” And we hear your answer that you want the Strength not to live angry and hurt. Not to be that anymore. You want to be His, alive in Him. I’m so struck that you didn’t ask for it all to go away. So, like the friends in Mark 2 who lowered the paralytic on the cot into the Face of Jesus, I drop through the roof a name I don’t know with a haunting story that so touches this mom’s heart. Keep making Mallory alive in you, Dear God, a little bit more than she already IS. The girl who starts her comment reaching out to another and ends her comment with faith to ask for 2 Cor 12: 9-10. You’re a precious girl, Mallory! Praying for you this week. Fan the beautiful flame of her faith, Oh God! 2 Tim 1:6.

    • Mallory – I understand, to some degree, brain surgeries. I found out last summer that I had a brain tumor and needed brain surgery as soon as possible, and I had no idea at all that that news was ever coming! But 19 surgeries?! My gosh I can’t even imagine. I hope so hard that you are doing better now, and that college will be better than you can even imagine. Praying for you!

    • Praying for you Mallory….praying praying praying. I have never had nearly the pain you have gone through, but I have walked the long road of chronic pain. I am praying for you now that God will just let you know how much He loves you.

  3. My darkest moment has been the road after the abortion I had as a teenager. At the time, it seemed like the best decison possible. As the years rolled on it proved to be the deepest wound that I am still burdened with. I am now married (have been for 3 years) and am 30 years old. I still struggle with the thought of pregnancy, I can barely function around someone who is pregnant, and I am consumed by thoughts regarding…well…the whole thing. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly causes the most hurt, but after 12 years of struggling with this I just wish God would show me how I can move on, how this can somehow be redeemed, and how I can heal.

    My husband wants a child and thinks that I do not. In reality, I just struggle with taking the steps toward starting a family after what my past includes. I’m terrified I will never feel comfortable enough to take the next step. I feel like I will always feel this way and quite frankly I can’t find God most days. I don’t know where He is in all of this. I don’t know if He would even bless me with a child at this point and I’m afraid to find out.

    Hopefully this makes sense….

    • Danielle, God has already forgiven you. If you will take the step to forgive yourself – joy will once again be yours. I will be praying that you can trust in God’s truth spoken over you and for you. I will be praying that you let go of the past and live today where God is waiting to bless you. I will be praying you can trust He is good all of the time and He is right here, right now, waiting to pull you through this – one moment at a time. He has not forgotten you and will NEVER leave you. Please don’t blame God for your past. Please don’t blame Him for how you feel now. Feelings can not drive our lives – faith must. We walk by faith. Praying for you now.

    • Hugs to you Danielle. I don’t know if it would be something you are interested in, but I volunteered briefly with the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Austin and discovered that there are support groups specifically designed to help women to process the pain, trauma, guilt and grief associated with abortion. So many women today suffer from this terrible pain. Please pray about whether you could bring yourself to go to a post abortion support group. I pray that whether you go or not, you would know of His forgiveness deep, deep in your heart and that He would totally set you free from this act you committed when you were a child.

    • {{{Danielle}}} You precious sister! I know you probably have heard and it is typed in the replies here, but I will say it again. Forgive yourself! Receive His forgiveness. The enemy has you bound and deceived. You are not some VIP sinner, this is his lie. You are ‘just a girl’ doing the best she can and your Father has nothing but mercy and compassion for you.

      This might seem like ‘tough love’ but when we are commanded to forgive others we have to obey right? Well, you are an “other” you must forgive yourself! To not is sin. Repent for the bitterness you have against yourself. Let Him wash you and cleanse you from the guilt.

      I highly recommend praying and asking the Lord where you might find some help. I discern you are dealing with a whole passel of evil spirits that want nothing more than for you to be ‘crippled’ with fear and guilt the rest of your life. Spirits of guilt, self-hatred, self-bitterness, self-resentment, self-rejection, fear and so many more can come with a trauma like this. There is hope, you can be delivered and free! I know, I have experienced this freedom. You can go and live with joy and no fear in your heart. There is healing available, you may not ever forget, but the pain can be healed.

      I will be praying for you all this week. If you feel so led and would like I would be humbled and honored to pray with you or for you very specifically, if you want to contact me, please do NOT hesitate. I am going to gently ‘yell’ now 😉 YOU ARE FORGIVEN . . . YOU ARE LOVED . . . YOU ARE PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT . . . YOU ARE ‘JUST A GIRL’ WHO DOES NOT NEED TO HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT . . . YOUR FATHER LONGS FOR YOU TO RECEIVE HIS LOVE! Okay, done now. Please, please feel free to contact me if you feel I could help in any way!

    • Can I just say, no degree of what we’ve done in the past is beyond His grace. And we’ve all done something and I wouldn’t be surprised for God to show you some crazy grace-Love. We all deserve second chances….and most importantly, He’s our biggest fan cheering us back into HIs arms. If you haven’t already, forgive yourself and see what God has in store to redeem what’s been lost, in more ways than one.

    • You will seek Me and find Me when you seek me with all your heart. -Jeremiah 29:13.

      I attended a workshop on intimacy with God and the speaker taught us that one of the biggest roadblocks to feeling God’s presence in our life is carrying unforgiveness. Because He is a God of Forgiveness and redemption, if we refuse to forgive, it blocks the path for our communion with Him. It seems in your case the person who you have not forgiven is yourself and if I may gently suggest, perhaps that is why God seems far away. If you have asked God for forgiveness then He has already forgiven you through the blood of Jesus. Your job, not an easy one but your job nonetheless, is to lay that grief and pain and guilt at the cross and then WALK AWAY from it. DO NOT pick it back up. Jesus took all our guilt on that day at Calvary so that we can live victoriously, NOT in shame or guilt. Accepting His great gift of redemption is how we honor Him AND free ourselves to be the person God made us to be. So sweet sister, I will be praying for you to accept these words in the spirit of love in which they are given, and let the glory of God’s plan of redemption sink into your very soul. AMEN

    • Danielle –
      Oh sweet, tender child of God. He loves you and wants to heal your wound. I too had an abortion when I was 20. I just shoved it in a box on a shelf until I was 30. Things started bubbling up and I was a mess. God lead me to a bible study where I found out first I can be forgiven and second, that I had a wound that needed healing. Jesus is so gentle and loving

      I want to encourage you to find help. There are some very solid Biblical bible studies that you can go through to get to a point of accepting God’s forgiveness and healing. I would start with the local crisis pregnancy center. Also, you can google post abortion help and find several good sites.

      Here are a few that helped me:
      OptionLine pregnancy centers have access to a post abortion study that is amazing. It is the one I went through. Call them (24/7) to see if they offer anything in your area. http://www.optionline.org

      Healing Hearts has real counselors who can meet with you OR you can do a study online with a real counselor http://www.healinghearts.org/index.php

      Forgiven and Set Free is a fantastic study by Linda Cochrane http://www.amazon.com/Forgiven-Set-Free-Post-Abortion-Bible/dp/080105723X
      It is very biblical and helps walk you through steps of grief, forgiveness and healing.

      Danielle – there is hope to get through this. Jesus wants to walk through this with you. I will be praying for you.

    • Danielle, I don’t know if anyone has responded to you about grief therapy or more specifically grieving your abortion. I picked up a book by Stormie O’Martian and she had a chapter in it that might be of very great help to you: Lord I Want to be Whole workbook and journal. I know there are places of walking through to healing at churches and I would pray that God leads you to one of these. Stormie tells of how she was told to name the aborted babies, and that was healing. God bless you!

      • Dearest Danielle:

        “No pit is so deep that the love of Jesus is not deeper still.” Corrie Ten Boom He does not want you to stay in that pit of shame, but to walk in his amazing grace and forgiveness. His love is far greater than anything we could do.

    • You are FORGIVEN!!!!! Just want you to know that no matter what! Try to forgive yourself. You are precious!!! Grace…we are all forgiven by God’s Grace. None of us can do this on our own. God bless you! I’ll be praying for you.

      Here is one of my favorite Bible verses….Romans 8:38-39 (Nothing can separate you from God’s love)
      38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    • Danielle,

      You may want to consider looking into Rachel’s Vineyard. It’s an organization that works with post-abortive women–it’s Roman Catholic–and it has a very good reputation. I’m not sure of your religious denomination, but please seek out the guidance of a leader in your community (pray first). Sometimes we need to hear from someone else that we are forgiven, someone “with skin.”:) I know where you are right now, and I know where you’ve been–but I know it can get better. It is very, very hard, and it takes along time, but with God all things are possible. I will be praying for you.

  4. Amy Carmichael said once, “There is no pit so deep, that God is not deeper still.” I think this daily giving thanks, this laying the foundations, this choosing to see, is part of what makes the fall into that pit bearable. Because, as we make the habit daily to give thanks for the small things – it trains our heart to look for Him in all things.

    And we are all in process somewhere. Praying we will be further along today than we were yesterday, “Thanksgiving always proceeds the miracle.” And who wouldn’t like to get to the miracle.

  5. This chapter has matched so closely with all the conversations my husband and I are having. God is love = God wills the good for us. Even those things that don’t make sense or hurt – His good for us is in them. I have posted many things about this very thing this week that I pray will help others be set free from the burden of those dark places.

    Through the things we have each experienced – God is using them to sanctify us. To draw us closer to Him and to refine us even more. It is through the hard things – the ones none of us would ask for or choose that we will grow the most.

    If everything was so simple and we didn’t endure the trials and suffering would we really cry out to Jesus? Would we really seek Him with all full hearts and minds? Would there be a need to thank Him for sustaining us through everything? Would there be a need to find the small things in life to thank Him for if everything was always easy?

    As a woman who has endure much pain in life and now mothers 7 adopted children who have endure much pain – I know personally the goodness of God. I know the power of His love, mercy and grace. It is there even when I mess up and forget to be thankful. It is there even when I forget to be soft and slow to answer. Because God never changes no matter what I do or they do. God never changes no matter how unfaithful I am. He is there. Perfectly there loving me. Now that is more than enough reason to be thankful.

    So even when life wants to consume me and the enemy tries to steal my joy – that is what I remember and that in the moment leading up to Jesus dying on the cross – He thought of me.

    Angie what you said is so true and I pray others having to deal with deep hurts like yours is able to hear what you said – He understands your pain and will carry it and you if you let Him. Running away won’t change your circumstances. Running to Him will change you!

    God bless you all!
    In His amazing grace,
    Jill

  6. Angie, I just want to give you a gigantic hug and then sit on the couch and cry with you over a cafe mocha. I love the words you used to describe your experience and finding thanks in it all. Perfect and tangible. The world is so broken, and I feel as though I am often surrounded by the brokenness…my own, within my own family, and just about every phone call, email, and text I seem to be getting lately. But God is STILL GOOD. Sometimes it takes a deep breath, a pause in the peanut butter aisle at the grocery store, and a whispered thanks through eyes threatening to spill.
    Along with Ann’s book, I’m also reading Radical by David Platt…yesterday this question kicked. my. butt…because even though I look to God in the bigs, I’m still woefully behind on looking to him on the littles:
    “Would you say that your life is marked right now by desparation for the Spirit of God?”
    Desparation??? That’s heavy. When my boy lies on an operating table having his heart corrected by surgeons behind sanitized masks. Yes. When my tiny daughter seizes and shakes? Definately. When the baby inside lives with Jesus instead of me? No doubt. But in the everyday? In the diapers and dirty floors and yes, even the blogging? Desparation?!? You’d think I would have learned by now.
    Love love loving this series…loving Ann’s words…loving your hearts on display.
    ::hugs from my end of the country over my own coffee::

  7. My dark moment came with my daughters divorce, in 09. She’d been married 7 years, had a 4 year old and 3 month old sons, had caught “him” cheating, lying, etc and forgiven him twice. But one day he said he was done and wanted to be with another mans wife. My daughter and her children moved out of the brand new house built for them, and he moved his new girlfriend into that very house, waited til the divorces were final, they married, and moved in her children. Lots of confusion for my 4 year old grandson. As a mother to see your child and grandchildren so hurt, it was almost unbareable. The reason: SIN. It was a dark moment for me because “he” became so close to our family and at least acted like he loved us and wanted to be a part of our family…but then SIN. But my daughter. She is amazing. She is an awesome mom and is moving on so bravely after being hurt so deeply. She is a singer and song writer and God is giving her songs, some I hope may help someone else going through this all to familiar trial. I’m finally able to thank God for my former son in law because without him I would never have had my 2 incredible grandsons. I pray that he will find his way back to God, and I KNOW, there is a great bright restoring light after this darkness in my family’s life. My daughter will be restored above and beyond what she had because she has chosen to cling to God and trust him for her life. I’m still working on the “forgivness” part cos I know I HAVE to, because God has been so faithful in forgiving me. It is coming slowly. Again, I thank God for this “season” in our lives that we thought would never come to this, but has, and in these to precious boys, there is great EUCHARISTEO! I pray for them daily that they will learn to be thankful and be able to withstand the temptations of sin. Thank you for your prayers, may you each be richly blessed. I love Anns book and it is helping me more than I can say through this time in my life. May God bless you all and may the lists “grow” on.

  8. My dark moment right now? That I am deepest sadness. My heart is broken in million pieces. by so many loves one in my life. One of them is totally my fault and I haven’t been able to get out of this feeling of rejection. I still believe in God and I am still having my hope on Him. Always waiting for the day that I will wake up HAPPY and full of His Joy. I am still married,but, soon to get divorce after 15 yrs. I have a 10 yrs old boy. I feel like he is the only thing I have real in this life. Please pray for me. I am reading your book, reading the bible, and seeking God everyday. I been a christian woman all my life. With ups and down.

    • Vanessa,

      My heart goes out to you and your broken heart. It seems you might need someone close to you — a sister in the Lord — to help you through this sadness. I hope that you have a church that you call home, and that you would consider finding someone that you could share your heart with, and receive counsel and wisdom from for your journey through this divorce, the struggles with your son, and all else. You’re on the right track being in the Word and seeking God everyday, that’s for sure. I will pray for you, sister, and trust along with you for someone who can come along with you as you struggle to find that joy in the Lord in spite of — or even as a result of — your circumstances. I love what Ann said in this past chapter, that “God is always good, and I am always loved. ” It’s something to hold onto!

  9. Angie, I have read your book…more than once. And I’ve cried every time, but in watching this video I wept for you as if it was the first time I knew of the darkness you were given to endure. And how precious your relationship with Jesus is by the way you shared how you cried out to Him that night.

    Ann, I thank you for reliving that time of darkness in your life with Levi for us today. There are times in our lives that memory evokes such emotion…as if the incident was happening all over again…and I know this was one of those times for you. I’m experiencing new joy in finding His gifts in so many small ways. Thank you, Ann, for reminding me that these daily disciplines of counting gifts, saying thank you, are preparation for times ahead when it is His presence that I’ll be thanking Him for.

    Jess, thank you for your empathy…your kind eyes…your quiet voice…I see Jesus in each of those qualities. And seeing them in you makes me hungry to be that kind of person for others.

    Thank the three of you for listening, reading and praying.

  10. We have had many ‘dark’ moments. Not just gray, but pitch black at times. I have six precious babies in heaven, each with their own amazing story of Gods faithfulness to me, even in the darkness when I could not see His face. One of the ‘moment’s with one of these six babies was so dark, the fact that I am still functioning and loving God today is nothing short of a display of His infinite mercy! I was ready to run and never come back to this God who would let this happen AGAIN! Nine years later and four more children and I want to shout from the rooftops His faithfulness!

    Probably the darkest times have been over the past 10 years while learning to live and parent eight other children while our eldest, a prodigal (at the time) ran further and further from God. This is not the forum to go into the depth of pain and devastation that has been done in our family over the past ten years. The times when dying seemed much easier than enduring. Times when I would be physically sick, vomitting from the trauma done. The countless phone calls that made us go weak in the knees. The heartache in some of these children as they had wrestle with understanding things this adult still can’t wrap her mind around.

    BUT! Let me assure you that He is faithful, He has carried us, our marriage is stronger than it ever was and by His mercy was hedged from the enemy’s touch. We cleaved to each other, thanks to His mercy. Our children are doing so amazingly well and have healed and forgiven, but the greatest news of it all . . . is just this week in a very dramatic way our son (and his wife) have come home to the Lord! They have been delivered of so much ‘stuff’ and if you could have heard their voices from one day to the next you would never, ever doubt the power of God again in your life! I have not seen their faces yet, but I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that they look like entirely different people! Each night on the phone my husband and I would shake our heads and weep! Who are these kids we were just talking too? Is this even possible? Isn’t this what we have been praying for all these years? Why are we so surprised at how glorious it is???

    I just want to encourage you that while it may take a long time, (our ordeal lasted ten, long agonizing years) He is faithful and true to His Word. And yes, He is good, and He does all things well. We can give thanks in the dark because we know that our faithful God really does work all things for our good! He really, really does. You may have years of not understanding, years of darkness, but He is true to His word and He is the same, yesterday, today and forever!

    Here is the link to one of the, Lord willing, many to come glorifying God for what He has done for us!
    http://shelookethwell.blogspot.com/2011/02/he-has-come-home.html

    Relentlessly Pursuing

    Michelle

    • Thank you Michelle….I too have one who’s always further and further away from God and some days it seems such a long expanse. But I know I too was the one further away and how He brought to the end of myself to begin with Him. You’ve encouraged me, as now a Mother, I watch a daughter go a distance which seems further than I did…but to know it can turn around in the blink of an eye, a phone call, a transformation, a transfiguring on the mount of Calvary. And for more than 11 years, I hold the Hope of it coming.

    • Michelle, I am thanking God with you for this the most wonderful blessing. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness, that even when we have just a mustard seed of faith and vast quantities of doubt and unbelief, you answer our prayers and are faithful. I am overjoyed for you and with my mustard seed am excited about the day when my own prayers will be answered and my husband will come to know Jesus. Thank you for being a blessing to me in sharing this story and increasing my own hope. x

  11. We were worshipping to this song as a family and I had a picture of 1000s of us women singing this song, some of us in the pitch black darkness . . . and some of on the other side of that darkness . . . but all of us declaring HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!

    I can only imagine in the heavenlies the enemy fleeing! The wars won in the heavenlies as we sing His praises in the darkness. Makes me think of Jehosaphat in 2 Chron. 20 and the great victory the Lord gave them as the went to war singing His praises.

    We can lift each other up as we praise and declare His goodness, for many are doing so out of sheer obedience and brave act of faith. I encourage you to do it no matter where you are!

    Sing with me . . . How Great is Our God!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZFN8TBfgNU

  12. Seed: “without God’s Word as a lens, the world warps…….”

    Water/Bloom: “God is always good and I am always loved.”

    I cannot believe how much comfort that phrase has literally brought to my heart. Thank you so much. 🙂
    karen

  13. Seed: To embrace what is hard
    Water: To be disciplined and find personal freedom through thanksgiving 
    Growth: In continuing in the process while trusting in His plan–to see HIM in and through EVERYthing

  14. this book was given to me by a coworker and i’m enjoying every minute of reading it. I do believe that God puts us thru some hardships but He has a purpose for it and He is Good. i lost my mom 25 yesrs ago and since i became a christian i understand there was a purpose for that and now that i have kids i give thanks even for the littlest accompishments the do, even if they seem smal in everyone else’s eyes. Thansk for the book

  15. Twenty years ago our 23-year-old son was killed in a car accident – so I resonate with those very hard moments of shock and grief. God has done so much healing over these years – and I can accept this as part of His plan. My faith was affirmed by the conclusions Ann came to about God’s continuing love and the fact that His grace can transfigure those painful experiences. Thank you – all three of you – for your openness and sharing – rich blessings for my heart – and my thankfulness list!

  16. The end of a long relationship because it was not what I thought God wanted for me, the stillbirth of my first child at full term, the extreme premature birth of my granddaughter, the abuse of one family member at the hands of another–these are all dark moments. I can turn to God in dark moments, but it is in the everyday, ho-hum existance that I take him for granted. This book has helped me to begin to see God in every moment and to celebrate with eucharisteo that He cares about it all!!

  17. I am beginning my gift list in hard eucharisteo. Our life was branded on March 5, 2009 in an ER when our son was diagnosed with diabetes. So many questions, not many answers. You’re right. You don’t get a warning that today will be the day when your faith will be tested and you will not have answers for your child. I wish I had already had the daily practice, the discipline of seeing God’s goodness all around me. Because when you are thrust into the moment of hard eucharisteo, you will need the hard discipline to give thanks. I am learning it now and it is helping.

  18. My husband and I have been going through a very dark time for the past year and a half. We have lost four pregnancies in a row and want nothing more than a healthy baby. Looking for thanksgiving has been so difficult when it happens over and over again. You do start to ask yourself, “What have I done wrong? Why are we being punished?” I do believe that out of this dark will come grace and blessing that aren’t even imaginable to us at the moment, but it is a daily struggle right now. Looking for the small things and beginning my list has been most helpful this past week. Thank you, ladies, for sharing your stories and encouragement.

    • Gwen,
      I remember having those same thoughts and crying out such deep longing as you are experiencing now. God is near to you and your hurting heart. He is attentive to your prayers for a child and your yearnings and hurt. Cling to Him and keep pouring out your heart before the Lord. he is a secure refuge. I pray for his tangible grace and daily nearness to you…and for the fulfillment of this longing and dream. may he be glorified. Keep believing~A

    • Gwen,
      I hurt with you for your loss. I’m praying for you this week – for the healing rain of joy in your soul as you search each day and write down His love gifts. I’m so glad you are on ‘the hunt for beauty’ with us.
      My husband and I were given infertility. (http://knittedintheheart.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/the-hunt/) The pain in that has been both real and deep. It has been a process, but I can testify that God will carry you and your husband through this. God does grieve with us in our loss and our pain. He does and will turn our sorrows/grief into joy.

      • Cherie, thank you for your prayers. I am sorry to hear of your diagnosis and will be praying for you both as well.

  19. We can “lose it all” but the one thing we cannot lose — will never lose — is His Presence. When loss comes that blessed truth makes gratitude for that grace alone all the more profound. Knowing He is in all our other moments builds confidence and trust to know He Is. We are not forsaken. Not left to suffer alone. If that is all I have to be thankful for, that is invaluable grace-gift enough. His goodness, love, mercy, grace, and compassion fail not and is sometimes our only comfort. And that makes His comfort inexpressibly wonder-full.

  20. The hard Eucharisteo. For me it was the hardest when I learned that my ex-husband had betrayed me and married the other woman two months later. God was SO there and I felt His presence. At the time it was very difficult, but as I look at what everyone else has to deal with, it was really easy looking back. At the time I couldn’t eat. I really do thank God for what I had to go through. I know I would never be reading this book had I not been desperate for Him. I am praying for you all as I read your comments!

    Much love,
    Angie from Michigan

  21. I have a friend who is walking through a very dark time of sickness and hospitals and surgeries and overwhelming bills and debt and more..she’s only in her early 20s. She is in the hospital at this moment–had been for the past 2 weeks. Please pray for Jessica for healing and grace and favor and help. Pray for her heart rate to return to normal so that she can be dismissed from the hospital. Thank you ~A

  22. This weekend I have been longing for home in a very real and deep way. Ironically, I am back living in my childhood home, and although the wallpaper is the same from my childhood, I am lonely, seeking refuge.

    I knew all weekend that the tears would come when I allowed them. I kept repeating over and over, “Eucharisteo always proceeds the miracle.” I know if I can identify God’s grace and cloak of love in my life, give thanks for it, that the joy will come.

    I have had many darker times in my life, but in some ways this is harder – God’s calling me back to a city and “home” that feels distant. As I wept this noon, I recognized God’s gift in allowing us to physically weep and shed tears, gave thanks for the ability to cry and grieve, and hold fast to the knowledge that joy will come.

    Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

    • Janice,

      As I read your comment, I instantly imagined the sweet scent of the air as the sun comes out just after a rainstorm. I think it’s like that when we are able to really weep before the Lord. He sees your tears and holds each one dear. I love the image Ann gave of the sun always shining above the clouds.

      God is indeed our refuge and strength!

  23. I am enjoying these sessions with you Jess, Angie & Ann. I agree with another person’s comment about you all having the sweetest spirits and smiles… it comes through. Just knowing and hearing of others’ struggles and reliance on Him through the struggles, strengthens and affirms my faith. God, who carries us when burdened, cares deeply for us and weeps when we weep and rejoices when we rejoice is definitely worthy of our praise through ALL our circumstances. He is Faithful! Enjoying this so much. Thank you!

  24. I know and have a true relationship with God. At 24, on the day my first son was born prematurely hooked to a ventilator, tubes, monitors and we were told he wouldn’t make it, I could have had a “gratitude journal,” but I certainly did not understand “eucharisteo” and I had not accepted Jesus as my savior. Why and how we are blessed with a 25 year old healthy son today whose best friend is Jesus is beyond a miracle. In the past month he has detached his retina and had surgery, has not regained his vision in that eye, but he has life…..there is EUCHARISTEO!!! To another end, dear out of state friends have a son Eric that I ask you to join in prayer that you have so graciously agreed to…..they are in day 52 of his coma, due to an accident, with trach and feeding tube, going through the “storming” process. They are learning about the power of prayer, God’s will, and to seek Him first and foremost. A copy of One Thousand Gifts is on the way to Eric’s Mom….I pray that she’s ready.

  25. My first shadow moment was when my teen-aged son died in an accident… I was a baby Christian in a place of darkness without an understanding of grace. And like a babe, God held me close to the breast – heartbeat to heartbeat – drowning out the assault of what ifs and if only’s playing through my mind.

    My second shadow moment was six years later when my husband of twenty years died of a rare cancer. Once again I found myself in a place of darkness, but this time I wasn’t afraid… it was a warm, safe place… and I found rest in the shadow of His wing.

    And that is how I now view a shadow moment… a covering of protection from the on-slaught of a warped world… a soft wing laid over in a blanket of grace. Even being told I had breast cancer 17 months ago – there was no fear of the unknown because God’s word said in Isaiah 42:16, “I will lead [Susan] by ways [she] has not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide [her]; I will turn darkness into light before [her] and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake [her].”

    “…but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” By. every. word. I cling to the promises that pull me out of the darkness to soar on wings of grace.

    • Given my comments from chapter 3 that you graciously responded to, you probably understand that I needed this chapter very much. Somewhere, I needed to know Ann wrestled with the big, hard stuff too, in this simple act of listing the gifts from God. The Spirit of God used her words in this chapter, as well as the video and Angie’s post, to reassure me of His goodness, His plan, His trustworthiness. In many ways, with my own shadows, the clouds parted a little and the light shone through.

      God continues to use your words, too, Susan, as an encouragement to me. Oh, how we need each other as the Body of Christ. You are precious, and a living testament to His grace, His “ugly-beauty” of transfiguration. I am praying for you tonight. May He continue to give you His peace and the assurance of His tender care.

    • December Rose,

      It was humbling to read your post. Those are three of my greatest fears I honestly dont know how to get through those without giving up. Your faith is a testiment to the love of Jesus. Your post has given me a lot to think about. Thank you for your bravery and honesty. I will be praying for total healing for you.

      Margaret

  26. Thank you Ang and Ann for sharing about the hard eucharisteo. Angie, it was your blog I found first and your book I read first. Then I found Ann’s blog and now have been blessed to read her book.
    As I grieved our infertility, I found it helpful to read about other women that have walked the hard times. It wasn’t helpful to me when some friends made unhelpful remarks, some even left me alone in my grief. So, thank you for pointing me back to God and encouraging me to find Him – to find His goodness even in the midst of my darkest days.

  27. “Take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness.” (pg 100)
    When I share my testimony of God’s faithfulness in the midst of deep pain, only then am I able to transform it into joy. Naming the pain, giving voice to the hurts, allows me to delve deep into the mystery of God’s omnipresence in my life. “To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it.” (pg 53) Is there meaning and value in my son’s death? Perhaps I can’t see that – but there is meaning and value in my son’s life. Even twenty years later, I am able to provide comfort, give encouragement, and share the reason for my hope to someone who feels hopeless… I once was blind but now I see… I once was empty but now fulfilled.

  28. My heart is so full. Thank you, Ann, Angie, and Jessica. I wish the whole church — every believer everywhere — could gather with you on that couch, hear this word (I mean REALLY HEAR this word), and embrace the truth so beautifully expressed in this chapter. God is good, and EVERYTHING He gives is a gift. I know I’ve said this before, and I’ll probably say it again, because my cup is so full, and who can keep it from spilling out? So many things you’ve written we lived and learned in the aftermath of our son’s near drowning, but this book, this amazing, poetic, exquisite book and its profoundly simple eucharisteo have taken the truths etched deep in our souls and taught them to walk, to run, to dance.

    When Jacob was in a coma and medical experts gave him no hope of ever waking up, God whispered into my agony, “Keep your eyes open, because I am doing something beautiful.” So I watched. (And ranted.) I watched. (And whined.) I kicked and squirmed and recoiled from the pressure of the pruning shears, but I watched. And I saw brokenness transfigured into beauty. Not the beauty I wanted — the quick fix, the painless healing — but a far greater beauty. The vine pruned. The gold refined. The clay remolded. The beauty, as Ann puts it, of dark transfigured to light — not only in my life, but in the lives of all those who entered our story and became a part of it.

    With each new chapter I read (I’m pacing myself and reading as we discuss), the more I want to give this book to everyone I know, especially those who say that there are no absolute answers — that God isn’t in control and truth is relative. That He never ordains suffering. That His will is thwarted and His hands are tied by the choices men make. I want to place the book in the hands of every Christian who tries to explain away the hard scriptures, the very ones Ann turned to (not away from!) when her mama was in the psychiatric hospital and again as her Levi lay suffering. There ARE answers for those who are willing to step inside hard eucharisteo. Oh how desperately the bride of Christ needs those lenses. Oh how I need to remember to wear them every day.

    The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. Redemption was always God’s plan. Transfiguration “from-to” is our portion in this life — not painless ease. He meets us on the gravel road and beside the hospital bed and in the graveyard. He meets us everywhere as Redeemer, always good, always loving. We don’t deserve even one grace, but He gives us two, three, millions.

    My heart is just so full.

    Praying for those who are sharing their “shadow moments.” May He meet you in the very midst and transfigure all your brokenness into beauty. All really truly is grace. What a wonder.

    Love, Jeanne

    • I agree with you Jeanne, and God is recently awakening these truths in my heart, through a study of Isaiah and this book. Today I was reading in Isaiah 46:10 “I have made known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand and I will do all that I please.” and in verse 13, “I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed.” God has planned His redemption from the beginning and is actively redeeming ALL things; transfiguring all things. What grace! I am agreeing with Ann; only through the lens of His word can we really understand this. Thank you, Father, for your Word.

      • Thank you for sharing those verses, Pamela. Beautiful! Yes, we need His Word to see. “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130 ESV) Amen to your prayer.

  29. I have had several shadow moments in my life, I was never taught to be thankful for the trials but to see them as His punishment. I have been praying and PaPa is showing me that these things werent because of sin or out of punishment for lack of faith but just part of the journey. I see all the thankfulness for experiences with children I am both over joyed and heart broken because it appears that I will never have these things to be thankful for because of now age. I am in the process of finding true intimacy with Him, so my prayer request is that I will know who He really is and let go of the shadows and cling to the light.

  30. This chapter has been intensely personal to me…then watching this video, tears spilling from my eyes. I have had several dark moments. In ’99 my late husband diagnosed (at 32) with an incurable heart disease. In that moment, knowing that he would not live to be an old man. I was 31 at the time. We had a 5 year old son. My husband died 1 year and 4 months later. Exactly 1 year and 4 months after his death, my father took his own life in a violent way. In a a year period I lost family members, co-workers, friends (9 people altogether)….I felt surrounded by death. And yet……I knew God was good. I knew He loved me….even when I didn’t understand. Even when the pain was great…I knew His love was greater.
    In the years since, I remarried. I have seen God’s hand on my life. But, another dark moment was coming. My new husband lost his job of 22 years due to the economy situation. I was scared that we would lose everything. It was a very real fear. After all I had been through….I just wanted stability and security. Through this hard time, God showed me that I had to loosen my grip on material things. Was I ready to give up whatever He required, still believing in His love? It was a painful lesson. One I still struggle with. Do I believe that God loves me when I don’t understand? When He doesn’t make sense to me? When my world seems dark, does He care? Yes. I answer with sureness.
    The reason this book is changing me, is because it is challenging me.
    Learning the discipline is so important. If I am thankful for the small, I will learn to be thankful in the dark times. In the hard times.
    Eucharistao always precedes the miracle.

    Thank you Ann, and Jess and Angie for taking your time to share with me….with all of us.

  31. This chapter stirred so much in me. Like Angie, I have also had the experience of laying in a hospital bed, holding my child while he (in our case it was our son) died, and then handing him over to the nurse and watching her leave with my baby… knowing that I would never see him again on this side of heaven. Of all the hard things a parent endures when they lose a child, for me, that was the hardest.

    While I had then, and still have, a strong faith in the Lord, I didn’t know how to be thankful in that moment. Ann says in her book, “…and what is a mother without her child…” Even after having my daughter almost 1 year ago, a beautiful little girl I am so incredibly thankful for, I still feel that way at times because our family still feels so incomplete without our son Isaac here.

    And so through the many dark, dark moments that surrounded my pregnancy with Isaac and the dark days that followed after his death, I have just been so thankful for God’s presence. That He is has been with me. That He has met me in my deepest point of sorrow to remind me that He loves me… even when I am so broken and hurt and I don’t understand what He is up to.

    Ann, this book has been such a blessing in my life to continue to encourage me to be thankful, both on those mountaintops and in the valleys.

  32. My former “dark place” was when my daughter, Emma Kate, was in the NICU for 17 days due to meconium aspiration. However, as hard as that situation was, I KNOW that the Lord was holding my husband, myself, and my sweet baby girl in His hands. Thankfully, as Emma Kate approaches her first birthday in March, she is HEALTHY!

    My current “dark place” is my current health situation. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis and suspected adenomysis and severe migraine headaches. I am seeing a pain specialist, but the pain just gets “covered up”, not removed. I have been told that a hysterectomy is the only thing that will cure most of these issues, but I desperately want another child. My husband and I struggled with fertility (as a result of these conditions) before we conceived our daughter and seem to be heading down that path again. Trying to “manage” the constant pain with medication in order to delay the hysterectomy so that we can have another child is physically and mentally exhausting!

    I am so thankful to Ann for sharing her wisdom and hope I can get to the point where I can fully experience the “hard eucharisteo”.

  33. We had a newborn baby that only lived for two days, (many years ago) and the pain of grief was only bearable because God was with us. Only because we trusted a God who has always been close and present in our lives, could I have endured and then healed. The healing process was when I saw the “sufficient grace” close up, I was so thankful God didn’t leave me in the hard place of grief, but brought me to a healing place. Several years later, God put me in the path of a young mother who lost a 2 month old son to SIDS, and I was so humbled to walk with her through her grief journey. She was not a believer when this happened, but along that journey she accepted Christ as her Savior. I watched her also move to her place of healing, and watched her begin to smile and laugh again.

    • You are so right… the pain of the grief of losing a child is ONLY bearable because of God being with us. When Steven and Mary Beth Chapman lost their daughter, I remember reading something he wrote which said, “The only thing scarier than going through this WITH my faith, would be to go through it alone, cursing God.”

      Thank goodness that He is with us…

    • I love that you mentioned seeing His sufficient grace close up. That is what carried me through the loss of my three children…and is the name of our ministry today. How beautiful that God led you to walk with another mother. It is an honor to walk that sacred path with another.

      Blessings to you…

  34. It’s so touching to read of the hardships that so many of you have lived through, whether feeling that you’ve fought the good fight and stayed strong, or spiraled in dark despair. It’s hard to understand why some seem to suffer so much more than others… Nine deaths in a year. Losing a child. Losing a husband, any loved one. Suffering with pain and loss and the agony of not knowing when it might end or ease up. But we are to bear one another’s burdens, so we pray with all of you for strength and grace, mercy and understanding. And this chapter speaks so well to help us to understand that it truly is because “God is always good, and I am always loved.” And His grace really is sufficient for me.

    The “aha” moment for me was within this chapter. I didn’t really give the importance to the writing of my list until now. It’s in the practice of giving thanks for these seemingly small gifts that we develop a DISCIPLINE to make us strong, so that when we are confronted with a difficult experience we are able to see God in it and give thanks. The hard eucharisteo. Makes perfect sense to me now. I’m so thankful for that revelation.

    I’m ready for a good work-out of those muscles of my eyes and heart that allow me to see, really see, all that God is offering me in this life. I want to be one who is thankful. Transform me, Lord…

  35. This chapter really reminded me of a book I finished reading a couple months ago about why God allows suffering, and about how it’s all about your perspective. And it really is. Like was mentioned in the book, there are many people who will tell you that their suffering brought them closer to God because whatever happened to them was necessary in order for them to see their need for God. When we’re focused on God, we’re better able to see the way through things.

    • Heh, I left my shadow moment out…

      I guess the only one I can really think of wasn’t a deep dark shadow moment but it was one nonetheless.

      If you look at our family, we have 3 kids. What you don’t see is the, at least, one that isn’t with us. We have a memory “picture” hanging in the hall next to the other kid’s photos. It’s there to show people who come to our house, that we actually have, at least, 4 kids. And my “dark” moment was when we lost our baby. It was our first baby, we’d been married for maybe 2 months when we got pregnant. I wasn’t entirely excited because I “knew” we weren’t going to bring baby home and I was right, of course, we didn’t lose baby till after we’d told family. We figured we made it to 12 wks, might as well spill the beans. I didn’t want to but we did. And then a week later we had to tell them “Yeah, never mind”. Admittedly, it wasn’t as bad for me as it is for others and that makes me feel awful because I feel like I’m cold-hearted or something because I didn’t really cry over it or anything. But I knew there was a reason, though I didn’t know what it was. A month or two later though I did question God because I felt like I was being “punished” for doing things the way He wants them to be done (marriage first, then kids) and other people (I named a few celebs) didn’t and had their babies. I asked God for a while because I just wasn’t hearing anything. Eventually I did, and I’m thankful that I know, though I have to wonder whether or not, if I’d been where I ended up prior to being pregnant, if we’d have brought baby home. I don’t know, and in the long run, I’m ok with that because baby is better off in Heaven anyway, but in the short-term, I wasn’t, entirely, ok.

  36. God is good, all the time. His timing in bringing this book into my life is incredible – hubs and I are working through a very shadowy time, one of the most painful I’ve ever gone through. In November I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks – our first child. Devastating. I didn’t believe it was something I would survive, to be honest. How do you do that? But God is faithful, and even though I don’t understand His reasons, and I had many temper tantrums with Him over it, I can say He is good. I don’t like what happened, I don’t like remembering or being afraid it will happen again or losing that innocence of your first pregnancy. But He is good, because His character never changes.

    By God’s grace I came through that dark time – something I couldn’t have done without strong friends around me to pray and support and share their stories (no one talks about miscarriage, but SO many have experienced it). Now we’re trying again, praying that God would bless us with another chance to have a child. I know God is good, even when everyone around me is pregnant and I’m not. I know God is good when my period comes again….and again….and again. I know God’s timing is perfect and His plan for me is good, when I feel like a failure. God is good, and I am loved. But my heart still breaks.

    • Dear Crystal, I’m praying for you sister. I know the pain a miscarriage brings, and I’m sorry you’ve had to experience it. What you said is so true…no one talks about miscarrying which stinks because when it happens you feel so alone and it would be nice to be able to share your thoughts with those who have experienced the same thing. I also know what it’s like to have so many people around you pregnant when you’re trying yourself. When I was dealing with this, I would try to remind myself to not compare my life and my circumstances with others. God has a plan for your life that is different than His plan for other people’s lives. And though waiting for His blessings can be a challenge, we must be patient and remain faithful. Hang in there girl! I’ll be praying for you!

  37. My shadow moment was the night before Mother’s Day last year. I was severely depressed, and didn’t have any idea how I would go on. I didn’t contemplate suicide seriously, but the thought darted in and out and I kept pushing it away. Since that night, I have made changes in my life that improved my depression. When I invited God back into my heart, when I made Him a priority, I was finally able to overcome the depression. I still feel new to this journey of walking with God, but it has made my life whole. He has healed my heart.

    I pray for this community of readers, that God heals each of us where it is needed, and gives us peace in our hearts. I pray that He bring us all closer to Him, and that we see His grace in all the small moments, and in the hard eucharisteo.

  38. Angie I’ve read your blog since basically the beginning. I feel as if all the times I’ve laughed and smiled and cried while reading your blog, I was doing those things with you. Sweet Audrey’s story has brought countless tears to my eyes. But the button? Oh the button…had me taking off my glasses to wipe the tears from my eyes.

    This chapter has broken through with me. I’ve been reading along with you guys, watching the videos as well. But only on through this chapter am I starting to ‘get it.’ Because I’ve lived this. I can understand it, and it challenges me.

    My dark places, my shadows, are both in the past and here now also. My past dark place was (very surprisingly) finding out that I had a brain tumor, and that it would need to be operated on as soon as possible. I was so shocked, and even more shocked with myself when my very first thought after that news was: “Okay, God, what are you doing through this? I know You’re here, so I trust you.” I didn’t question His goodness, His Plan, or what would happen to me. I just simply wanted to know what He would bring from it. Curiosity. 🙂

    I was shocked by my response, because who gets the huge shock of an unexpected brain tumor, and immediately tells God that they still trust Him? It’s not like I’m some great person….in fact, it goes back to what Ann said. Discipline. It’s what you already have learned. She had ben learning Thanksgiving and Thankfulness. I had been learning Faithfulness.

    Prior to finding out about my brain tumor, I had lost all four of my dearest friends, my brothers and sisters, one of them being my best friend (sisters separated at birth, basically). Almost exactly one year before learning about the tumor, they all walked away from me. They have never come back. We all made mistakes, myself included. But I really began to question love. If they could all tell me for years promises of “I love you so much, I can’t imagine life without us being friends” and so on and so forth…and then leave me? How could love be real? He taught me through that, my very darkest place, that He alone is FAITHFUL. THAT is why I wasn’t scared even once about brain surgery. He had been faithful before, He would be faithful still. Losing my brothers and sisters is still my darkest place. I’m still struggling with love in a very big way, but He has used my deepest hurt to get me through another very dark place.

    • I totally understand the pain of losing friends. As teenagers, oftentimes the thing we want most is just to be liked, and included, and to have people we can talk to and trust. I will be the first to tell you that I have MAJOR trust issues. Aside from my one best friend, it seems like every person I ever let myself trust lies to me and hurts me. But I’m slowly learning that people will ALWAYS let you down, because we’re made to. We’re sinners. I have to make myself remember that the only one we can always trust is God because He doesn’t ever let anyone down. You seem to have a pretty good lock on that concept. 😉 Anyway, that’s my .02

  39. I know that we are not here to compare shadow moments but rather to just share our own, yet I can’t help reading the comments and thinking that I am really a big whiner baby! I know I’m not. I know the darkness that I’ve endured has been real for me.
    My marriage has been in big, real trouble for some time now. There have been multiple incidences of infidelity. Multiple betrayals and rejections. Right now, it sort of seems that maybe he’ll stay home for good, but honestly, I live in a cloud of not knowing what is going to happen. I live not knowing if yet another young temptation will turn his head and then his body will follow. (by young I mean twenties, we are in our later thirties)
    We have 8 children and I don’t know that I can bear their heartbreak should he leave again, yet I know it is best that I just wait on God to see what will happen. My own heartbreak I let control my life for a time and I made some of my own heartbreaking decisions that ultimately hurt myself. I harmed my witness and my relationship with God. The depression got much deeper and I’m finding it very difficult to come out of.

    I’m reading this book because honestly, I don’t know what else to do anymore. Things seem so bleak and hopeless yet I know, I know that I am mightily blessed. Right now I am forcing myself to focus on the blessings. Eucharisteo……I say that to myself frequently.

    I started my list today (I even had a pretty journal I got from a retreat I was on in the fall)
    1. God loves me enough to keep bringing the same lessons in my life until I really learn them. That even in the pain, there is a purpose.
    2. New friends
    3. Sushi
    4. New beginnings, even if subtle
    5. A found few extra dollars so the boys could swim
    6. Fortune cookies
    7. My computer that allows me to read and connect with amazing women around the world
    8. My Dyson!

  40. Lost our church job of 27 years. Hit such a deep depression. Diagnosed with stage two cancer. Depleted our savings. Lost our current church job of 2 years. Lost our insurance. Can’t find full-time jobs. Moved in with friends. Financial and relational and emotional woes. But can I say that it is a Beautiful God Who has shown up for me. Oh my! While my childhood of rape and family violence and abuse washes over my brain, my God is restoring years that locusts ate up. Don’t quite know how. Would be so grateful if God leads you to pray for me. Pray Isaiah 40:4 that HE would raise up the valleys we walk in and lower the mountains we climb this month not that life works better but that HE is glorified in us. We only have this grace and what will we do with it? Love reading this book that brings God to me in the hard eucharisteo. “It’s what is happening in<you that matters not what is happening 'to' you." And our Most High God is transfiguring, transforming our little family. Saving me from myself and freeing me to love, "fully alive, alive fully." John Owen wrote that true freedom develops in fierce battle and doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. That's why your missive so draws me in, Ann. You "die daily" and enter into what God does for you and it's just beautiful! And Angie, thank you for offering us hope from the Compassion you so evidently obviously have received from Him in your empty arms. 2 Cor 1:4. Breaks my heart—-what does your pain do to His? I lost 6 babies to miscarriage, never held them. I saw beating hearts on sonograms. No names. Wanted them so. Your courage touches a deep place in me. A fresh motivation of gratitude. "Let the Spousal Love reconfigure the motivational structures of your heart. Lay your deadly doings down." Tim Keller. Psalm 18:28 – All I know is that He is turning my darkness into light and it's a fierce frightful fight. I promise to pray for you this week.

    • Bev, dear one of God. If this flawed heart breaks upon reading of your pain how much more God’s. Yes, prayer heaven-sent to our God of compassion, that mourns our suffering in the face of such great trials and difficulties. May His Light cast out all darkness to reveal His glory and Presence in your valley.

    • Bev, just wanted to offer you a hug from a younger sister in Christ. I lost a child to miscarriage too. The never holding still plagues me, more than 5 years after the fact, even with two beautiful girls here with me.

  41. What a chapter…I put off viewing until today because my heart was not ready to see it yesterday. Today it opened and God poured His Love in! I am so thankful for you all and for sharing the book here, God is Good.
    I must say that I am touched deeply by the comments and the responses of love that are being shown here on this page. I can feel the love wrapping around me by the comments made by and for others. Thank you all..you are on my list.

    • How I agree! What an exquisite sharing sisterhood. How the Spirit moves and Faith speaks! Your testimony, the beauty in the tragic. Your painful suffering, from every unimaginable means, is heart-wrenching. For your endurance and faith, may He deliver you all into His promised rest.

  42. I have read so many of your dark moments and all I can say is wow. We do serve a great God who gives us grace when we need it.
    I have been under a shadow for a few months now, as we lost our little baby at 9 weeks. We had told our children, ages 4 and 3 after we heard a healthy heart beat. However 5 days later the heart stopped. We live in another country and the medical community was not very gracious toward me or respectful of the little life.
    But God spoke the hard eucharisteo:
    I got to see the heart beating. I got to see the baby alive.
    I enjoyed this baby for 9 precious weeks.
    I experienced a closeness with my husband and children like never before
    There is a connection now with other women that have gone through this
    The Lord gives you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places…Is. 45:3
    Our daughter came to know Jesus through the experience

    Just like the one pink rose blooming outside my window that dark day, Jesus cmae to the dark world and displayed beauty in darkness.

    THank you all for sharing. I’m truly enjoying this book and all God is teaching me through it. Please pray as we try to have a baby again. My 3 year old son asks “is there another baby in your belly yet?”

    • Oh Taylor ….
      Tears in my eyes as I read of your fresh loss and that fresh pain I know so well. We lost a baby at 10 weeks. Our 2 year-old daughter knew all about the new baby and used to kiss “him” goodnight through my tee shirt.
      It was so hard to let go.

      I will pray for a healthy baby for you and for your heart as you walk this grief journey.

  43. Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
    though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
    though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
    yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
    I will be JOYFUL in God my Savior.

    The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.
    Habbakuk 3:17-19

    “,,,but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
    When all seems hopeless, God will give you the strength to climb out of the pit!

    Sweet sisters, I see such beauty in your pain… God’s light is filling your gaping soul holes, and spilling all over me… You’re going to think I’m crazy but I just wrote “#31 Disco ball” on my list! LOL The light is just dazzling, spilling all over this room when you praise God in your pain.

  44. Seed (truth): He is *always* good and I am *always* loved.

    Water (nurture): I will continue to form this habit of naming the moments – until it is my knee-jerk reaction. I will acknowledge His presence in the deepest, darkest corners of my memory and my heart.

    Grow (fruit): I will learn to be constantly in His presence, as my life becomes a one piece life my heart will become whole as well.

    More here ~ http://www.onedaycloserblog.com/2011/02/one-thousand-gifts-chapter-5.html

  45. I loved every inch of this chapter. The grace born of suffering the ugly-beautiful, that is the testimony of my life. That is the essence of who He has revealed Himself to be in my life…of Him bending down to meet me in the darkness. To shine His light…

    Angie…you speak of the sacred dance of grief and joy…and I refer to that phrase often as I minister to mothers with grieving hearts. Because it is such a picture of His grace…and the truth that “suffering nourishes grace, and pain and joy are arteries of the same heart- and mourning and dancing are but movements in his unfinished symphony of beauty”. Love how Ann worded that!

    I recently shared a thought on this post: http://sufficientgrace-kelly.blogspot.com/2011/01/shaken.html…a thought that my friend Dinah (who is battling cancer) and I have shared in conversations on this subject:

    …”The most beautiful gifts in this life emerge from some of the most difficult suffering. It’s in the hard stuff that beauty is born.” Saying it is much different than walking it.

    I have walked it several times….when we said goodbye to our twin daughters, Faith and Grace…born sleeping from twin to twin transfusion syndrome.

    On the day we heard the words “incompatible with life” in regards to our son Thomas. In the moments I felt forsaken, and He carried me still. The moments when tears stained my bible as I cried out to Him. The months I carried sweet Thomas and the day I met him face to face…the day Jesus carried Him home.

    When my mother suffered horribly as cancer stole her body and mind. As I stroked her hair and sang hymns of comfort and hope. As I prayed when I didn’t feel Him and claimed His words of truth when my eyes couldn’t see His promises.

    Everyday, I walk this earth without them….and see the beauty He has transfigured from the ugly…the grace that comes from grief.

    I live that.

    I live it in the restored brokennes…in the joy that waited on the other side…in the marriage that flourishes…in the new songs that fill our hearts and voices…in the ministry of comfort and hope that reaches out, extending my arms to the arms of those who ache for their babies…arms I can only extend because mine lived…and because their absence caused my own ache.

    Love Ann’s words: “It is suffering that has the realest possibility to bear down and deliver grace.”

    Another truth that rang true from Ann’s words….I always say…God doesn’t waste anything. I love that Ann shared that thought as well. So much truth to that.

    • So sorry for your losses, Kelly. Such sweet babies gone. I too have heard those words “incompatible with life.” I always say that we weren’t designed for this — for loss. And it’s true. This wasn’t in God’s original plan. I can only imagine the rivers and oceans of tears God weeps for the babies who die and the families who mourn them.

  46. I also cried along with you, Angie. I found your blog soon after you started it, only a few months after my husband of 25 years died suddenly at the age of 47. My 6 children and I have never, nor will ever, be the same. I love this book and have blogged about it several times, but this video …. and chapter …. was hugely difficult to get through, and yet wonderful, too.
    It was so amazing to hear you say that God doesn’t expect us be grateful FOR the horrific event! That’s a huge release. But I am grateful that God was with me in that hospital room, listening to the surgeon tell me everything that went wrong, and that He was beside me as I went to kiss my precious Jim goodbye, even though he had already left.
    I have been in the inky darkness. I call it the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I walked it. I sat in it. I wanted to die in it (and I almost did). But I made it through. It took over 2 years and it was many times one step forward, five steps back …. but I did it. Don’t get me wrong, I will never be “over” the death of the other half of my heart, I will always grieve for him and I will always have times of tears. But I am also finding joy in life and many, many moments to be thankful.
    I am an example of God not wasting anything …. He has given me a huge passion to reach out to other widows and to do what I can to let them know they are not alone … and not crazy. Jim’s death was not a waste.
    And for that, I am very, very thankful.

    • Janine, tears in my eyes and a heavy chest when reading your words “I have been in the inky darkness. I call it the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I walked it. I sat in it. I wanted to die in it…” The inky Valley of the Shadow of Death darkness… yes. that’s so well put. My chin quivers as I remember being in that darkness too, after I lost my beloved grandmother suddenly and unexpectedly and when we didn’t get to bring home a baby we wanted so much and loved so much and again, suddenly and unexpectedly lost.

      I will remember you this week.

  47. This sounds silly, or trivial, upside the other comments,…but my hardest, darkest moment…inspite of any that have gone before..is my fear of the future. I am a single mom of four precious children… And as I know that God allows god-loving momma’s to die…I am so afraid for my children. I have not guarantees that I will be allowed to raise them. And there is no one, NO ONE, waiting in the wings. No aunt, no uncle, no sister, no cousin, NO ONE…to pick up if I would have to leave off!

    And I fear, what would happen to my children? Would they go to foster homes? Would they be split up? That is a dark fear. And I live day by day, not trusting God on it (is He trustworthy? I hate to even write those words….I know and have to believe He is…..BUT HE LETS MOMMA’S DIE!)

    so i live day by day…not letting my mind go there. glad for one more day…hoping, one more day by one more day….I will make it through 11 more years untll my youngest is 18.

    How can you live like that? How can you be thankful living in fear? I am doing eucharisteo in the day by day things…trying….finding, hunting, them….yes…but I am so afraid of the big one!

    • Sandee,

      Nothing silly or trivial about putting plans in place for your children’s well-being. My husband’s forethought allowed me and my daughter to stay in our home and pay the bills until I could determine what I needed to do in the long term. There is nothing worse than having to make major decisions under duress.

      Is there someone in your church, or a close friend, who would be willing to care for your children? It doesn’t have to be family. Writing a will is important – it’s not about money, but the well-being of your children’s care by appointing a legal guardian. Even if you can’t afford life insurance, the caregiver will receive a stipend for the children’s care until they are of age. The trauma of losing their mother is enough without the confusion of being “set adrift” in a sea of red tape, and possible separation. It is a gift you can give yourself (peace of mind) and your children.

    • That is NOT trivial in the least! I can’t imagine the fear of leaving four kids behind. My mom is a single mom, too, and last year she had some scary heart issues, so I completely understand that fear, from a different perspective. I will be praying for you.

  48. This chapter was so hard for me. I just sobbed and sobbed. It has been a little over a year and a half since I held my baby boy in my arms and watched him take his last breath. In the days that followed all I could think about were the days we spent in the NICU, reliving the moment when the doctors told us there was nothing else they could do but make our Connor as comfortable as possible. After some time, God has begun to heal my broken heart. I usually don’t focus on the bad memories these days. I think of the good memories, the fact that because of Connor I am a mom. I think back on the days when I was able to hold him against my bare chest, fill him breath and wiggle, see his kicks and stretches, change his diaper, watch his beautiful smile while he slept…so many heart-warming experiences. But as I read Chapter 5, those questions, those bad memories, that tragic time in my life came crashing down again. I was brought back to that heart-wrenching pain and could actually feel the ache in my heart again. I was reminded that no matter how far I think I’ve come in this process of grief and healing, the rawness of my loss, the hole in my heart, the part of me that died with my son, that will always be there. Before I might have thought of this as a horrible thing, why would I be reminded over and over of the pain, but now I’m seeing this as a reminder of God’s goodness. That He has taken these ashes and turned them into beauty. That He will continue to heal this brokenness. That I can be full of hope and joy because I know that I will see my Connor again.

    In this midst of dealing with our loss, my husband and I have so much to be thankful for…we are expecting another bundle of joy in July…a precious little girl! I am almost 18 weeks now. I have a cerclage (a stitch around my cervix to keep it closed as it was already thinning at 13 weeks) and take weekly progesterone injections to help prevent pre-term labor. My doctors are keeping a close eye on me. I trust that I am in the best care. With that said, I still have my moments of anxiety, doubts, and fear about what could go wrong with this pregnancy. So I ask you dear community to pray that I not fall victim to Satan’s lies and that I am able to enjoy this pregnancy and rest in peace knowing that God is in control.

    Another thing I’ve worried about is how I’m going to adjust once our daughter is here. I know I will be so full of joy, but I also know that memories of Connor will arise. With each new milestone I make with the new addition to our family, I pray that I remain grateful for those moments and not resentful because I didn’t get the chance to have those moments with Connor.

    Angie, Jessica, and Ann, thank you so much for sharing your stories and creating this great community where we can come together, pray, and help each other grow in Christ:)

    • Lynsie,
      I am so very very sorry for the loss of your sweet baby Connor. We lost a baby to miscarriage and it’s been a long road.

      I know it’s not the same, but during my pregnancy with our daughter Natalie, I had so much anxiety. I was so afraid we would lose this sweet baby too. I listened to a lot of Christian music and kept breathing. It’s hard.

      I will pray for your sweet baby girl, still growing and developing. I will pray for you. I will pray for your heart. You are not alone.

    • Lynsie, six years ago, my husband and I have also walked your path. Our son, Drew, was born at 29 weeks and lived a brief nine weeks before going home to Jesus. And although God has since blessed us with two beautiful adopted children and a healthy (full-term) son by birth, it has been a dark few years. Throughout my pregnancy last year, and during my three months of bedrest, I kept struggling with my view of God, having such difficulty surrendering to Him as “good” whatever the outcome would be. In the end, he has given the desire of my heart…after 10 years of loss. Yet, I’ve found it is not in the gift itself that true joy is to be found. It is in trusting the heart of the Giver. I cannot say that I am there yet, but He continues to bring me along in the journey, revealing my heart, while at the same time showing me the depths of His grace. I know that when I was at my lowest point, He was the one holding me when I felt I was hanging on by a thread and about to let go. He is faithful, even when we are faithless (2 Tim. 2:13)…and that is incredible humbling, causing me to give thanks for His unending mercies. Blessings to you as you walk through this pregnancy. May He give you grace to trust His heart.

  49. My hard thanks…autism…and often, as much as I want to….I am not thankful…mad even…my sweet, precious, beautiful three year old daughter suffers….what will it all look like…do I trust His goodness…I want to……I want to…..I want to open the hand, accept the gift, expect the miracle…what EVER it looks like…I want to…….

  50. On November 30, 2010 our daughter, Shiloh, was stillborn. We have lost eleven other babies to miscarriages over the last 10 years. Shiloh made the number of losses an even dozen. We have three beautiful children here with us, EUCHARISTEO! But these last few months have been the darkest and most difficult of our lives. People ask, all the time, how we have managed to survive 11 miscarriages and a stillbirth. I have NO DOUBT that without Christ we would not have survived. We are still wading through the depths of our grief and every day is a choice to choose joy over bitterness, trust over fear. I KNOW, that I KNOW that beauty will come from ashes. We are already seeing glimpses of what He’s doing. He has made His presence known clearly through this entire process. He is big enough to handle my anger, fear, disappointment, sadness…..HE IS! And I have run the gamot of emotions through all of this……I’ve had to daily cast them all at His feet and lay my burdens down. I truly think that in Philippians chapter four, where it speaks of His peace (that trandscends all understanding) guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus, is the explanation for our survival. I think that I would be rocking in a corner babbling if He had not given me His peace. His peace has LITERALLY guarded my heart and mind so that I am NOT CRAZY after all we have been through. =) There is a protection, a holding, that He provides for us that enables us to see what the other side of our grief looks like. How else do we make it?!? My heart SHATTERS for women that attempt to endure such loss without Christ! I am held. I am held by the same arms that hold my Shiloh. Without Him I would be utterly lost and utterly struck down by my grief, unable to stand. He has never been more real to me than now. I would have never experienced His power in this way if it weren’t for my losses. My biggest struggle now is the fear of it happening again. We long for a large family and we would love to have more children. We are trusting in the Lord for healing and for His timing for more children…..and I am TRYING so hard to put aside my fears that we will fill up a cemetery, before we have our desire for a large family granted. Then again, what if we never have that large family we long for? I have to be okay with whatever the outcome and it’s so difficult. So please pray for my husband and I as we continue through this grieving process and as we continue to trust God with our future. I am so thankful for your book Ann, and your’s too, Angie. They are both proving to be a great help and encourage to me through all of this. To see, as you have shown, that all is grace, the ugly and the beautiful- the ugly-beautiful. Because who are we that we deserve even one day? ALL IS GRACE!! Thank you ladies!!!

    Shelly

    • God has blessed you with such courage to keep trying in the midst of your grief! I am so sorry for the loss of Shiloh. Words are so inadequate to balm a grieving heart. My husband and I have four babies (2 miscarriages, 1 stillbirth, and our 9-week-old preemie) with Jesus in those same ten years. After adopting two beautiful children, God gave us the grace to try pregnancy again and he gave us a darling full-term baby boy four months ago. We, too, long for a large family, but God is taking us to further depths of trusting His plans for our family. And through the grief is bringing us to a deeper understanding of His grace. For that I am grateful. Blessings to you, dear sister, as you walk this path and keep learning to trust His heart.

  51. I can’t personally say that I’ve been through the type of dark moments that so many have. But I also know that at this time in my life, God chooses to use me to encourage and pray for friends who are struggling. I know so many people dealing with significantly difficult issues in life. I oftentimes question why I have it so good. Not that I am asking for their troubles. But this really ministered to me in a couple of ways – 1) considering how I can encourage and support others in their hard times, pointing them always to the Lord, and 2) recognizing how much I need to always press into God and live eucharisteo so that when those times come for me, I will have something upon which to stand. Thank you so much for these videos. The book has been tremendous and this just adds so much more to it.

  52. Reading this chapter and watching this video reminds me a bit of a book by Jennifer Rothschild – Lessons I Learned in the Dark. I was reading this at the hospital between 2 brain surgeries for my then 8 month old daughter. The parts that spoke to me were about learning to be thankful for the difficult gifts and that we have the choice to raise our fist in anger to God, or to lift our open hand to God to receive His grace. That “sometimes it’s only in the heartache that we receive the fullness of God’s grace.”. Before her surgery there were dark times of fear. I remember crying out to God and learning to find His peace – singing blessed be the name of the Lord . . . You give and take away . . . With tears running down my face. While I would not want to go through that (and other circumstances that year), I also wouldn’t trade it either. For at that time I was closer to God than ever. He truly is good All. The. Time.

  53. Please pray for my cousin and his wife who lost their precious baby on Janaury 31. My cousin fell asleep with his 6 week old baby and accidently smoothered him. They are heartbroken.

  54. One thousand prayers for my lovely sisters in Christ. As I scrolled, I prayed for each one, and gave thanks for the ugly-beauty in that pain. The beauty of sharing, the community, and ugly pain that still shines bright with God.

    This too, is hard to swallow. The wrestling of “God is good, so why do bad things happen?” I have always looked at my relationship with Him like I do with my parents. As a child, I often grumbled about curfews, rules, and the unfairness of my parents. As a parent now myself, I see and appreciate their wisdom, and understand.

    One day will this all make sense as we sit close to God?

    Prayers for the gift-counting community. Praying for the discipline to get through the hard eucharisto. God’s love!

  55. My shadow moments were as I sat among the ruins of my marriage with three young children to raise, confronted by the miserable failure– my own, his, ours. At the time, I was engaging in a Three Happy Things discipline with my children where we named three things at bedtime that we were thankful for. I know now that this rudimentary eucharisteo enabled me to walk out of the darkness with His help. We still practice this– now that I am remarried, in a happier place. I don’t for one second take it for granted.
    Prayers for all of you that have expressed your shadow moments here, and for you, Ang, Ann, and Jess. This journey with you is life-changing.

  56. I read these stories, meant so that we can pray for and encourage each other, and I am overcome by fear – fear that something will happen to my husband, fear that we may not be able to have the children I so desperately long for, fear of miscarriage or stillbirths, fear of death and being left alone. Not fear that God’s grace would not be sufficient, but that I wouldn’t be able to find Him, to see His grace. Fear is my darkness right now.

  57. This was another gotta-read-it-two-times chapter…and a hard one for me. Not that i do not believe, but that i needed to let the words really sink in.

    At present, i am unemployed and though have been applying for everything under the sun, no job prospects. My unemployement compensation got messed up (long story) not of my own doing and i have not received that since Novemember. AND my sister and her 18 month old baby live with me. she is not walking as closely to the Lord as possible, and just announced that she is pregnant again. The cupboards are slowly becoming bare, the bills are not being paid, the mortgage is in peril and yet….

    and yet…i want to see this momement not as a place where God is not here, but one where He will transfigure this momement into grace. One where HE will be praised, honored, and recieve thanks from me. This is a scary place….yet….yet God is here. i love what you three said in the video: God is always good and I am always loved.

    Eucharisteo always preceeds the miracle….

    Thank you for your honest and heart felt talk on this chapter…i needed to be reminded that even though this is a scary and unsure time, the end result…whatever it may be, will be one where HIS Name is glorified.

  58. What a wonderful chapter. I just got around to watching it tonight (Tuesday), due to some health issues I have recently been diagnosed with. When you said Ann, “God is Good, can we hold on to that truth when those doors close?” It really resonated with me. Through the different deep valleys I have been through over the years, that I have wrestled to understand the reason for them, my prayer has always been that God would bring good out of them. That He would somehow be glorified in my life as result of the suffering. We are made to praise God, even in the dark, as Angie said, as hard as that is at times. Help me Lord to live that out.

  59. Please pray for me. I am facing a lifetime of fears and trauma, and I am feeling like I can no longer cope with it. I was doing so good until after I finished this chapter. It’s like all these things just fell into my lap Monday and I don’t know what to do. I pray, but its like I don’t know direction to go next. The only thing that is consistent is that i just don’t want to wake up every day. I just don’t have anyone to go to about this. I am running out of hope.

    • I love you. You need not keep running. I wish I could talk to you, help you, hug you and hold your hand. Breathe, sit down and breathe. Change is happening for you and that is scary. There is someone, somewhere ready to hear you. Reach out, call out, we are here for you.
      LuvNHugz~SupportNPrayerz
      DV

  60. I am so thankful for this chapter, Ann. I have been trying to understand suffering since 1981 when my premature daughter lived only 3 short weeks. I have read volumes on the subject, and have created art about suffering. It is such an integral piece of life that we cannot ignore. On page 96 you say, “all new life comes out of dark places”. And on page 97, “It is suffering that has the realest possibility to bear down and deliver grace”. In 1981, suffering entered my world. In 1992, grace enfolded the soul of an unbeliever, left depressed, anxious and broken by suffering. A searching, angry, questioning, and confused young mom who had to give her daughter to a nurse. She was still warm from her incubator, and it was the first time I held her without the breathing tubes. I will never forget that moment. Then after 10 long years of struggle with God, I handed my life over to Christ. At the end of myself, I let go and allowed Him to enter my brokenness. After I became a believer I used my gifts to make Christian Symbolism Jewelry and owned a Christian Art Gallery for 10 years. Until I read Chapter 5, I had always felt that Lindsay had given her life for me. She was a sacrifice. I was so far gone that it took a precious death to make me see. I would never have opened my eyes willingly.
    But now I understand that her life was my transfiguring point, and God took a dark, suffocating decade and turned it into a wide open gift of His love. I am an artist and have always wrestled with beauty, when there is so much suffering in the world. They seemed such opposites, but today I can agree with Ann that ‘ugly transfigures into beautiful”, p 99. They are not opposite poles. The ugly is not to be run from, but looked at straight on. In the death of our dreams and hopes, God can take us from our path to His, and this is a place where our lives become His story, not ours.
    Lindsay’s short life has transfigured mine, and in turn, my husbands and our three grown children. Because she lived, we were given another chance at real and meaningful living. I am filled because Christ was emptied, so He could enter my suffering with His transfiguring grace. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Ann for showing me this piece of the puzzle, and thank you Day Spring, Ang and Jess for Bloom Bookclub. The cross was temporary, but grace is eternal and is given to anyone who allows their eyes to be pried open. If they are opened by suffering, then it too is grace.
    http://www.insideout-blog.com
    http://www.vbgallery.com
    Coming soon: http://www.arise-designs.com

  61. I’ve had three large shadows in the last 11 years. My husband of 20 years passed away at the age of 45. He was the love of my life. I became a follower of Christ as a child, but his death made me realize how little I knew personally of God’s love. I questioned if God was really good. Seven years later, I was diagnosed with leukemia and was told I probably would not live to see my children graduate from college and get married in the next 12 months. It was a horrible 12 months of treatment….harsh chemo in a clinical trial, then a stem cell transplant. But I survived by God’s grace. After 2 years I returned to work. Two years later, I was fired from my job. One year later, I’m still living on unemployment and trusting God for my basic survival. God has taught me so much during this time. He is faithful even when I don’t understand. I know He has a plan for me, but He is not in a hurry….thanks for Chapter 4! I really feel your book is God’s gift to me. I have shared with friends that it is life-giving to me. I have been in the darkness for eleven years, but I believe God is transfiguring me in ways I still don’t understand. Pray that He will hold on to me and keep providing my needs.

  62. My darkest moment was 26 years ago when I lost my first baby through miscarriage. The months following were dark indeed, but I am grateful to the pastor’s wife who had herself experienced the loss of a daughter through stillbirth and asked me if I was angry with anyone. Of course I denied it, but the seed was sown… I went through the list of who I could be angry with and discovered it was God. I knew this was wrong so I went and told him exactly how I felt – and then when I ran out of words waited… He comforted me and I felt His love… and amazingly the pain was lifted … true it came back again at times of remembering but never with the same bitterness. Now I praise God for the gift of that experience… there have been times when I see perhaps why he allowed it… our son by adoption is 6 weeks older than my daughter would have been, and he would not have come to us if Rebekah had not gone Home…. Then it helps me draw near to other women who are suffering similar losses, because I can appreciate a little of their pain…

    Truly I can ‘trace the rainbow through the rain’ and praise Him for it.

  63. First and foremost thank you. I love, love, love being here!! My heart aches and swells with love for all of you!!!!!
    Upon my blog is my thoughts for this chapter, but I mainly wanted to share how great it is to be taking this adventure with all of you. The book is touching my heart and soul but without the rest of you and your comments I would be missing out on so much.
    LuvNHugz~SupportNPrayerz
    Sisters through our glorious Lord!!!
    Deo Volente… because as always God Willing…

  64. I’m so touched by the beauty of sisters encouraging each other as we all go through the dark night of the soul. I, too have had my dark times, over the years. What I’m currently struggling with is the physical results of a car accident 2 1/2 yrs ago. I lost my right ear, most of the function if my right lung and the use (shoulder to fingers) of my right, (and dominant!), arm. It’s been really tough at times, other times I feel such incredible gratefulness that all of my family survived and most were uninjured.

    So I have a question for you, Angie and Jessica, that may seem strange, but…. I LOVE to read and reading with one hand can be tough, you can’t stabilize the book, you have to put it down on something just to turn a page, how do you hold it openwhile you highlight something, etc, etc. I have found that some books, like my beloved crossword puzzles, come in a plastic ring binder-type thingie that is SO much easier to use. It lays flat and stays that way. So here’s my question: In the videos, I’ve seen you two holding what looks like a plastic ring-bound copy of Ann’s book. Where did you get it and can I buy one? 🙂

    thank you!!
    Cindi Strobel

  65. Ann wrote on her blog about a “one piece life,” of not making a distinction between the curses and the grace. I am SO about that. Every moment is a holy moment. Nothing is EVER truly amiss.
    SO much meat in this chapter!! I love how she talks about the EYE and how we see things. My eyes definitely need help.
    I love the point about thanksgiving and seeing God’s goodness not being our default–we CHOOSE it.
    I don’t like the ugly, no one does. But we have to lean into it, surrender, relax. We make it harder on ourselves when we don’t!!
    Seed: That we really must depend on the Word to sustain us, to fill us. We have to know His Word to have the correct lens for viewing life. Our prespective on life should speak of Jesus in us to the world.
    Water: Be in the Word more. What does God say about life, humanity, ME? Lord, give me eyes to see!
    Bloom: To proclaim the Truth of the Word more. Meditate, memorize, read. Pray scripture, give out scripture. Speak life into people’s lives. When I combat satan’s lies with Truth from the Word, I win.
    ** I had a dark moment when I suffered a miscarriage almost three years ago, which started with a nightmare and felt very evil. I’ve mentioned it before in previous chapters….but it did send my life into a tailspin and it proved that my foundation wasn’t as sure as I thought it was. I did honor God through the process, but I also asked all the hard questions. The amazing thing is, I found a lot of ANSWERS to the hard questions. I don’t have it all figured out and there are still questions unanswered (which will always be, on this side of eternity) but my faith and trust has grown immensely and I look at grace in such a different way. I know now that I was trying to add to my salvation, earn my keep, prove myself through my works….and I have come such a very long way. I have learned to slow down, to BE, to savor.
    By the way, I ended up pregnant and due with the new baby a year to the day after the miscarriage. I experienced redemption, death to life, in such a profound way. Now I’m about to launch a ministry for women who have experienced something similar–so they can see the grace in their experience, and know that even if if felt dark and wrong at the time, redemption is available. I want to tell these women, “If your dark moment hasn’t been transfigured, it’s just a matter of time.” God wants to redeem, to give us new eyes, to give purpose to our suffering.
    What an amazing message!

  66. It’s amazing how this is fitting together. I had stopped counting my gifts, just listing them without numbers, but after watching the last video I decided to go back and count to see if I’ve reached a thousand. Then, I started reading this chapter. And I also went back to the beginning of my list. I started listing at the darkest time in my life. Just now, I sat here, rereading, reliving the first hundred gifts that I wrote down, three years ago. Tears are flowing, but–oh!–how I see God’s grace!

    Back then, I posted this quote from Elizabeth Elliot:
    “I can look back over many decades, remembering how worried I sometimes was, how bewildered at things God had permitted to happen, but now I see them all as a golden chain of mercies, gifts from a merciful Father who, like the father Jesus described, would never give his son a snake if he asked for a fish. . . . How thankful I am for God’s withholdings, for His unfailing faithfulness.”
    And I’m starting to see it now!

  67. This chapter is a jewel in the book. Real life, like a diamond perhaps? Hard. Beautiful. Not without imperfections, but valuable and a treasure to be passed from one generation to the next. My chapter 5 is marked and starred, to be read and reread again and again. To prepare for the hard times. To assist in the hard times. To illuminate the transfiguration that is ours to behold, in Christ.

  68. God’s in the business of redemption. That’s what this chapter reminded me. He makes the new out of the old. “God wastes nothing” p. 97

    I am a leader in a ministry called Celebrate Recovery (Christ-cross centered 12 step program for any hurt, habit, or hang-up). I’m here because I have experienced my own need for God to transfigure my abuse, anger, rejection into something beautiful. I have chosen to surround myself with this truth because it has changed my life, my heart, and my relationships. I desire for others to experience the same miracle I have experienced for myself. “God wastes nothing”

  69. Danielle….may His truth free you….it is this….ALL OF YOUR STEPS HAVE BEEN ORDERED BY THE LORD….yes, ALL….the good decisions and the bad decisions….have been ordered by Him.
    Romans chpt. 8 tells us that “the creature was made subject to vanity NOT WILLINGLY, but by Reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope” (rom. 8:20-21).
    May these words be made ALIVE to you.
    May your womb be blessed with a child this year, may your pregnancy be so enjoyable and filled with such deep gratitude and your delivery be so intimate, holy, and filled with GLORY!

    I want everyone to know that I am humbled and honored to hear all the reports of how all of you are carrying your own individual cross… Embracing it as did Yahshuah… And I marvel at His workmanship in each of your lives…oh how each of you are so precious to Him….for there are so very few that say “yes Lord, not my will but yours be done”.
    There is real pain in dying to self, in going all the way His way…but oh such great reward.
    The pearls, the rubies that have been shared so generously here I have been made rich by…to
    all of you thank you and to Christ Jesus belongs
    ALL the glory!
    Loved what you shared Pamela… So true He is
    redeeming ALL things. (1cor.15.22).
    Also loved what Jeanne wrote & Dawn & Stacey…so many…glorious beloved and
    precious…
    Yes, nothing is ever wasted in the Kingdom. God is good, He is faithful and will never leave us. He is the beginning of our salvation and THE END. This is the truth of the sufferings… For all who share in His sufferings will also share in Hos glory! Amazing…glorious precious Yahshua…you truly do save to the uttermost…!
    His love to all.
    His grace to all and PEACE.

  70. I’m behind a bit on the videos as I have just returned from a visit with my daughter and did not have access.

    I wept over this chapter when I read it. At the same time I witnessed the reality of life from struggle in the birth of my grandson at the same time as I was reading this chapter. He was born, at home, on Christmas Eve. I am still learning the hard thanks. Not all suffering has to do with a tragic event. Rather, it is in the daily things that we have to die to. Elisabeth Elliot once said, “Suffering is having what you don’t want and wanting what you don’t have.” I encounter that daily when the actions of others rub me wrong or the weather doesn’t suit me. Can I thank God for the irritations? Or do I feel the need to tell them they are bothering me? Or when I feel that I am unjustly treated by another who is acting this way. Oh, that I may in humility thank Him knowing that He is Immanuel, God with me. I can then seek to bless the other person because I desire God’s agenda for His Name’s sake and not my own. He will vindicate.

  71. I am also behind on the videos but have been reading these chapters as I travel with my husband for a few weeks.
    We are going through some dark days as we wade through the murky swamp it seems. My husband and I worked overseas as missionaries, returned 1 1/2 years ago to the States for our home assignment and just a few months ago were asked by our sending church to not return for now. No clear idea of when we could return, because of that the need to make ends meet somehow with financial support no longer provided. Our lives have been turned upside down.
    Because our lives have been entirely focused on this specific ministry what “qualifications” do we have in the working world for a job that would support our family? None really. Where do we turn, what way to go when our hearts and the calling is still to a place and with a people in the mountains in South America.
    My husband did start a business because he could find nothing else, which is just getting going, we have no idea if it will fly. We know God knows the desires of our hearts and believe he has put them there. We also know he knows all these needs and struggles that have come from being placed in this position.
    I literally was in that same moment as Angie yesterday, only a different circumstance as I sat in the house in S.A. (we are visiting to put things in order and say some good byes for now)- my whole person aching with the pain and sadness of what doesn’t have to be. It hurts…AND I thank you Jesus, for being with me here. Be with me because I cannot face this. I cannot do this, you must do it for me. Thank you that I can “cast all my care on you, because you care for me”.
    Pray for us please.

  72. This chapter means so much to me, a treasured part of the book for sure….my (and my families’) shadow moment came when after the joyful time of a new birth (my niece), the new mommy (my sister in law) collapsed and died. she was only 32. she had 5 days with her newborn daughter. THe words “she didnt make it” were those i never thought about hearing, yet that was the night the HARD eucharisteo started (i wish i had read this book and known these concepts sooner). The hard part now is seeing this precious little one learn to talk and mistakenly call her babysitter “mommy” becuase she doesnt have a mommy to attach that word to, it is seeing the daddy/husband grieve and turn away from God through this process, it is doing the things that her mommy should be doing for her (like making her birthday cake and doing her hair up in cute little pony tails) as i do these things i thank God for this little life and for the life her mommy has in heaven with Jesus, but i ask the hard questions continually. and i am SO thankful for Ann and Angie and Jess as they guide us through this learning experience. So thankful to God that He has a bigger plan that just death, loss and grief. All is grace and this dark moment will be transfigured. please pray for my brother in law as he grieves and starts to date again – pray for a miracle so this precious little girl can have a here-on-earth mommy to give her the love she needs.

  73. Please excuse me for being a little behind. I have two dark moments that I was very thankful that I had God to help me with. The first was about 2 1/2 years ago when my sister passed away unexpectedly. It is one of the hardest things I have had to go through, not only losing a sister but seeing my mom go through that grief. I was blessed to belong to a parish who did much praying for our family and helped get me through those dark days. At times I still have my sad moments missing my sister but find myself praying at those times to seek comfort. The second moment was when my first child at 3 years old had to be taken to the hospital for stiches. Nothing prepares you for the moment the first time an accident happens and your child is injured beyond your repair. At that time I also had a 1 year old and was pregnant with my third. I was unable to go to the hospital due to my pregnancy, our one year old and the outbrake of the swine flu at the hospital. I was so grateful for my husband being home and his nerves of steal and tenderness not only to our daughter but to me as well. I found myself lost when they first left and slowly found my way to prayer. Once I began praying I was able to settle down. With out God in my life I am not sure how I would have gotten through those tough times.

  74. Hello ladies,

    Just a word of encouragement….I have walked through the darkest of times with the Lord, nearly despairing of life back in 2005, and God has been faithful to restore me, in body, mind, soul, and spirit. It was a long process, and I even struggle now with some of those health problems…but God was wanting to get to my ‘heart problems’…and I see His bigger purpose in all of that dark time. It is a battle to continue to trust that God meant it all for my eventual good, but I cling to that promise and find great hope in that. Now, as I plan to marry and possibly enter full-time ministry in just 30ish days, I am able to rest in the fact that God IS good, even when nothing makes sense…don’t lose heart! Cry out to Him and He will come for you, one day at a time. (Matthew 6) Be Blessed…

  75. I love that 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “IN” everything give thanks. Though we don’t necessarily feel thankful “FOR” everything, “IN” it, just as you are all saying, we can give thanks because He is still God, He is still good, grace is still grace.
    This is the first video I’ve watched so far. I just happen to be in chapter 5 right now. I plan to go back and review the videos before I move on from chapter 5.
    Ann, I want to thank you for this book, for allowing us all to enter your life, your world, your rawness. I truly cannot imagine the loss that you, that Angie, that so many have suffered. Eucharisteo. Loved ones bound by addiction affecting their children, their family. This is hard. But grace is still there. Still grace.
    I bought a second copy of your book, Ann. A friend from high school lost her oldest son last July to a car accident. Three boys died from this accident. Horrific. I’ve not yet given the book to her. I want to finish reading mine. I want to be sure and have the right words before I give it to her. So much loss just last year. A friend’s daughter lost her boyfriend to suicide. A seventeen-year-old. My sister-in-law lost her father. Other friends lost parents. I had no words of my own. I don’t know that loss. My words will not bring life. His Words DO. So I’ve tried to humbly speak those Words of Life yet with all confidence that HE IS LIFE. And the One Who was acquainted with grief knows. He was a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief. My mind just cannot comprehend it.
    Your prayer before leaving with Levi hit home with me. How I’ve dismissed so many of His graces, His gifts. I never want to be like that again. Ever.
    Lamentations tells us that it is of His mercies that we are not consumed… OH how true!
    I’m so thankful for each of you for sharing with us.
    God IS good! A million thank yous!

  76. I, too, am late in watching these videos. I very excitedly joined this club and began to read Ann’s book while on vacation. While I have loved much of it (I am a fan of her blog), I also struggled with some of it. So I was so very grateful to hear you all discuss chapter 5 in such an honest and vulnerable way. It seemed to me as I read the book that the very fine, but to my mind, very important distinction between being thankful FOR and being thankful IN the dark things that happen was not very clear. Your discussion has helped enormously.

    Thank you for saying that God weeps with us in our sorrows, that he weeps with us as well as walks with us. Thank you for acknowledging that terrible things are not good things, in and of themselves. They only become redemptive as God works in and through them (and in and through us) to bring good from them. I’ve lived a while and been through a lot of difficult and dark things – children and grandchildren hospitalized; accidents, both small and large over the years; miscarriages for each of my 3 kids; the deaths of my father and father-in-law; the sudden death of my youngest brother just over a year ago; two years ago, the death of our eldest daughter’s husband at the age of 44 after a long, agonizing struggle with the after-effects of cancer treatment received when he was a teenager, leaving my daughter a widow and 3 of my grandsons without their amazing dad; my husband’s prostate cancer; my own hospitalization for pulmonary emboli last year….the list goes on…and it’s all a part of life in this broken and fallen planet. None of it happened without God’s knowledge; none of it escapes God’s power to redeem.

    Even as God gave permission for Satan, the Accuser, to deeply trouble the life of his friend Job, God did not directly cause or send any of the afflictions that came Job’s way. But God was with Job, God reminded Job of God’s own sovereignty and power and God brought good out of evil. God redeemed the suffering without answering the question of ‘why?’ So even when we shout that question to the heavens, in the midst of our grief and pain, we can choose to end the shout with Job’s cry of faith and commitment: “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”

    So, through ALL of what life has dished out, I have learned that God is good, all the time. And God is surely big enough and generous enough to handle my own anger, frustration, confusion and grief. I have such good company in the psalms! But coming round to gratitude, coming round to praise – even through the tears, even through the pain – that is what opens the door to the transforming power of God’s love and grace. So I thank Ann for her powerful testimony to this truth. And I thank Angie and Jess for helping to clarify – with Ann’s good help – what was confusing to me at points.

    May God bless you as you continue to offer these heartfelt discussions.

  77. This was a very hard chapter for me.

    I’ve heard the words–your baby is dead, your father won’t make it, you’re fired. But then miracles came after–living baby, living father, better job. And I’ve always believed that the bad, hard, shadow events of my life were not GIVEN by God, tools in his toolbox to mold me but events (given by no one, caused solely by living in a sinful world, or sometimes direct attacks from the enemy) that God transformed.

    So, I wasn’t sure if the chapter was really about how God GIVES hard or if God TRANSFORMS hard. I think there is a difference. But as I saw the video and read Angie’s words I heard a more beautiful theme than even the ones I was grappling with–God is in the MIDDLE of hard. He is in all things. He is closer to me than I am to myself. And when I am in the shadow times, He has never left, He is not surprised, He IS transforming. The discipline of writing the gifts, of spending time with Him is FOR these times. It’s more MY response than HIS. He doesn’t change with any event be it shadow or light. I’m the one that has the different perspective.

    Thank you, Angie for a beautiful recap…and for sharing your tears. Thank you Ann for giving me new words to think about.

      • Thank you so much, Ladies, for giving me more to think over and to ponder. Diana…I do have a question that I myself have wondered and it keeps me from believing that God hasn’t given ALL things. Even the horrific things. I am sorry for my blunt and tough statement. I know you have been through so much…much more than I have for sure. I do not intend for it to sound uncaring. However, didn’t God ALLOW and Give permission to Satan? Satan couldn’t do ANYTHING without God allowing it. Isn’t it true that if someone stands by while a crime is being committed, that they are held accountable for that…especially if they are all powerful and could stop the crime at any moment? For an example, I full heartedly believe that God caused the quake in Japan and the deaths of the thousands of people. Who else could have shaken the earth so violently? If God isn’t responsible, who is? Most cannot see the pain and the affliction in the world and reconcile a good God that gives curses for His people. I think that Ann is right…they are only curses from our perspective. However….these are the things that drive us to the presence of God. Because ultimately HE is the GIFT. He IS the blessing. All the other things of life can be stripped away from us…taken and not replaced. And if we still have God…we have the only blessing we need.

        • I am listening to a great sermon by John Piper regarding my previous post. I cannot poast the link here because it won’t let me as it sees it as spam. I hope you can find the message at desiringgod.org:
          Home/Resource Library/Conference Messages/Ten Aspects of God’s Sovereignty Over Suffering and Satan’s Hand in It

          If not – here is a amall excertp:

          “But beware lest anyone say that Satan is sovereign in our diseases. He is not. When Satan went to God a second time in the book of Job, God gave him permission this time to strike Job’s body. Then Job 2:7 says, “Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.” When Job’s wife despaired and said, “Curse God and die” (2:9),” Job responded exactly as he did before. He looked past the finite cause of Satan to the ultimate cause of God and said, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not accept evil?” (2:10).

          And lest we attribute error or irreverence to Job, the writer closes the book in the last chapter by referring back to Job’s terrible suffering like this: “Then came to him all his brothers and sisters . . . and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (42:11). Satan is real and full of hate, but he is not sovereign in sickness. God will not give him even that tribute. As he says to Moses at the burning bush, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11; see also 2 Corinthians 12:7-9).”

  78. My shadow moment . . . A miscarriage at 16 weeks gestation, holding my too small son in the palm of my hand. Wondering afterwards: When the good happens people are quick to talk of God\’s goodness. But . . . Is He less good when we have pain and sorrow? (No, of course not.) Why do we see good events as proof of His goodness, of His love? No wonder we think that He doesn\’t love us when hard times come.

    http://purplemoose.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/1000g-chapter-5

  79. watching this chapter this morning has given me some sense of peace with ALL that Japan is facing right now……if the tsunami, earthquake, and radiation all weren’t horrific enough now there is freezing weather and SOOOOO many homeless people. i have a beautiful friend Yuri and her entire family who live there. my heart is breaking for them and it sure is difficult to praise God when you just want them to see a break. so this chapter was perfect for me today and i do continue praying and know that He is BIGGER than all the tragedy that this country is facing. SOOOOO MUCH LOVE AND PRAYERS for JAPAN RIGHT NOW!

  80. I am a nurse who has a supervisor at work who has physically abused 3 other nurses now at work. When she does not get instant cooperation she loses control. This matter has been taken up through the ranks of nursing administration to no avail. She has not even been relieved of her leadership position nor has she gotten help. Your perspective on all things working for good gives me hope. To try to deal with this again from the perspective that she deserves a plan of healing to enable her to use her, otherwise, effective management skills may be what would speak to administrators. As a Christian, I must deal with this, but want to be wise in my attempts to negotiate a resolution. I covet the prayers of the community of women her at (in)courage.

    Dawn

    PS I was grateful for the post above mine that is dated March 16. Some of us are a bit behind, but loving this series all the same!

  81. I am slowly digesting this book. I have been counting gifts off and on for a while with Ann. I am recognizing the peace that I feel when the gifts are counted, even if they seem trite. Giving praises before the battle is so imperative for surviving the battles and thriving afterwards. My shadows seem so insignificant compared to so many who have shared in this community. I am praying for the sale of a home so that my family can finally settle into our new community. The peace of less stress financially would be welcomed. But I see God’s hand in all that transpired in the last 2 years. He is faithful, ever present and ever sustaining and protecting. His mercies are new each morning. Thankful and Praying for all these ladies and families.

  82. I am catching up on my videos here….so I’m bit behind. This book was handed to me after a 5-year drought in my heart. 5 years of just trying to survive marriage and birthing two babies while hubby is in seminary. 5 years of putting myself and my art aside to get him through school. 5 years of hormones wreaking havoc on my physically recovery after two beautiful homebirths.

    I began feeling again after 5 years. I began laughing with my husband and enjoying my children. Then I was handed the book and received permission to look at all the little gifts given each day. I received permission to be JOYFUL! Then, a couple of weeks ago, an amazing opportunity came along to further me in my field of performing. An opportunity like none I’d had in the past, and truly may not have in the future. I AM CRAZY not to take it! It would not only hydrate the creative raisin of my artistic heart, but set me up for future endeavors.

    I looked at my 2 1/2 year old and thought, I can’t leave him for 3-6 months, 6 days a week. I couldn’t live with myself. I have been back to my old self. Hazy spiritually, Eucharisteo journal buried at the bottom of my tote, and surviving again. And sad. Just very sad. Grieving a death.

    Then a friend sent me an entry, I think written by Ann, regarding Holding On to Your Kids, confirming my decision to turn down the opportunity. And in it were these words, “When God gives you a redemptive story, He’ll ask you to live its truth out over again, in a thousand different ways, even when you think you learned this way already. ” Thinking I had learned the lesson of the Eucharisteo, He sends me the HARD Eucharisteo, teaching me to learn this joy all over again. He kept saying to me in the midst of my grief, “Are you going to thank Me for this?” I’ve been avoiding the answer.

    Tears are flowing now. I am feeling again. Still a bit sad. But so thankful. And then this from a few days ago–Ann quotes Bonhoeffer, “Self-denial means knowing only Christ and no longer oneself…self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him.” How utterly apropos.

    Ann, thank you for being a mess, because we are too. And thanks for the reminder that we keep learning these lessons so He can engrave His story within our hearts. I hope, deeply long, to act again–so much so that I’m afraid to be happy with anything else. But for God’s glory, may I dare to live fully even now. Soli Deo Gloria.