Unexpected Graces



Well, here I am sitting in the saddle.  It feels good!  I have missed this place! I’m glad to be back.

It’s been a rough and tumble couple of months since I last sat down.  When I took a break right before Christmas, I never anticipated the journey I would embark upon.  Frankly, it was like someone gave a monkey a match.  It has been quite a ride.


I needed this time to regroup and set my heart and mind right.  I have been too afraid to write, honestly.  Afraid of what just might come out.  But, it is time.  And, I am grateful.

In an effort to cope with our pain and lighten the mood, our family began to refer to this season as a “plot twist”.   In stark reality, our lives have dramatically changed.  Due to painful circumstances, my Love resigned his position at the church we pastored for over seven years.  Sometimes, it is just time to move on.  There comes a time when you realize the odds are not in your favor and for everyone’s sake, you have to make an exit.  You just hope to do so with grace.

I do believe it has been one of the most hurtful seasons we have experienced in life and ministry.  After 25 years, we have experienced our share of disappointments and set backs.  But, this, by far, was the one of the biggest gut punches of them all.  The only other to compare would be the sexual abuse of our son by a trusted friend and church worker.


I have learned quite a few lessons in our time here in Virginia.  Some are pretty tough.  But all have been for my good.

Our time in Virginia has been anything but easy.  We have endured some losses.  But, I also can look and see some beautiful gains.  I would be shallow if I didn’t recognize them.

A few years back I began my own One Thousand Gifts journey.  It was a life saver, really. Each day I would count out my gratitude, line by line.  I am beginning a new one.  It’s important to remember the gifts from our journeys.  If not, it could get terribly discouraging!  So, it is time.  Time to refocus my attention.


One lesson I’ve learned is, “God gives good gifts.”  Some seasons we just have to look a little harder.  Many times they are hard gifts.  I look back at our journey…it is unlike ANYTHING I’ve ever experienced…yet, I still find beauty in the charred rubble.

Light only shines through cracked vessels. 

So, when people ask me if I had known then what I know now, would I still have relocated to Virginia, I’m never sure how to answer.  In the natural, it does not seem worth it.  We have paid quite a high price.  We certainly didn’t know all we were taking on.

Truthfully, I don’t like that question at all.  My first instinct is to scream NO, of course not!





unfair expectations,


financial loss,


anxiety and depression,

plots and schemes,



Who would?


When I look at that list of pain, it would seem hardly worth it.  I could easily drown in that sea of loss and hurt.  I do see, however, the gifts from God’s hand that He gave in the middle of such ugly hard.

So, I choose to look at the gifts.  It is time. 



children discovered their gifting,

memories made,

bound family ties,

new dreams inspired,

spiritual growth,


a sweet canine companion,



increased faith,

grace from unexpected places,

deep kindness,

lessons learned,

lives changed,





divine encouragement.

I am most certain I have forgotten many other blessings.

I have a sneaky suspicion I am not alone in this listing.  We are not unique.


We all have experienced our share of pain and loss.  I simply refuse to get stuck here.  I don’t want to live in the muck and mire.  I will not suffer needlessly.  I want free of it.  And, the only place I know to start is with gratitude. 

Christ does not promise a trouble-free life.  No, indeed.


This world is fallen and is coming undone.  People disappoint.  No amount of dancing can undo that fact.  But, I have learned something else.

Light shines out of my broken places.

God is mending in such a way that light will warmly glow and draw others in.  They will meet Him there.  It isn’t about pretending to have it all together.  No one understands such living.  It is a fairy tale and too great a weight to drag around.


So, once again, I have picked up pen and tablet and will scribe my gratitude.

I won’t forget our pain, for it has left a mark.  But, mostly I will remember with a heart of gratitude all God is and was to me in the pain.  The strong arms that have held and carried.  I will remember.  All that was meant for my harm, is turned to good.  Nothing can ever take me from His hand.

That is what I will remember.  That will be my focus.  There is beauty to out-sing the ugly.  For it is well with my soul.



13 thoughts on “Unexpected Graces

  1. As I was reading your blog the words of James Pinkston came to mind. Stay sweet in your spirit. This advice has been the best advice we ever received. He said if you allow bitterness to take over then you might as well hang it up. I pray your family finds healing from whatever you have endured. You are a strong woman Amberly and I have no doubt you will handle this with grace! Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I found myself shaking my head in agreement in so many of your words. The pain, the love, the loss, the gratitude and I too have learned that nothing will take God from my life nor make me doubt my faith. Thank you for coming back a writing such amazing words. Pam Russell

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said my friend! Better days are ahead because you and your family will continue to look to the Author and Finisher of your faith. Praying even as I read about this season of your life. God will take care of you!
    Linda Barnes

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very well written. I am a praying person and as I recently shared, I always pray for my pastor and his family. I am still praying for you and I have always seen so much talent over the years between the two of you that I often admire such an annointing. As you get older in life you will find that if you have sound health then all of the other trivial things going on in this world do not matter. You continue to sing and write and lovingly take care of your family. God will abundantly bless you all. You see – I have a loss today too and that is all of you. But I will pray for you because I know that you will be alright. Don’t ever give up and don’t feel down because you are surrounded by prayer and love. The both of you have been so instrumental in the growth and maturity of the church and what a blessing you are to many that so need your talent.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amberly, I am so sorry to hear this news, but appreciate very much your beautiful expressions of what you are learning from this experience. You have written what I would have liked to express myself in what has happened to us over these last years. Life does has it’s twists and turns, doesn’t it. I loved your thought, “there is beauty to out-sing the ugly”, & that is what we are doing as well. We will be praying for you as decisions must be made for your future & be assured that God is in the middle of all this. I can vouch for that with great assurance of how He is always faithful and will show you His purposes for the future. Please keep writing. You have strengthened my heart as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved your words of faith and understanding. It reminded me, that in my hours of need I need to be grateful in the journey. (Something that I need at this moment) God has sent me through similar storms and indeed it is a huge test of faith. One of the biggest gifts that I see is that you have held onto your faith which is something that I did not. The effects of the latter can be much more devastating. Feel blessed that you realize God’s presence through the pain and that through God’s grace you choose the positive! I pray that you are at peace and that things will grow and flourish for you and your entire family. As a member of your congregation we never spoke but I did enjoy and appreciate your smiles and grace in my presence. Continue to be blessed and blessing others.

    Liked by 1 person

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