"I have a funny habit. While on vacation or just a pretty day at the beach I have collected shells for years. When our lives changed and Daisy got sick those days were few and far between, becoming a sprinkling of beauty in a life that had become one filled with hospitals, pain, fear. I decided to put those tiny tokens of natural beauty in places that would both give me pleasure to look at them and remind me the future won’t always be flavored bitterly. I leave them in purses, pockets, drawers, my car; always waiting for me to discover them, waiting to whisper of beauty to come.
A couple of days ago I came across one of my secret treasure chests in a bag containing chapstick and sunscreen. I had spent a sunny day with great friends, hiking, swimming, holding a precious newborn. With my handful of shells such a display of simple pleasure, I was so thankful to have spent an entire day full of simple pleasure. Life is so different now, the days flavored with a different type of bitter, yet peppered with a different type of beauty. The beauty of anticipation.
My daughter lives, not here with me but in a different country. One containing loveliness unimaginable. Like my shells whisper of sweet days spent in the sun, my home whispers of sweet days spent with my sunshine. Her drawings are everywhere, hilarious ones all over her schoolwork, adding mustaches and buzzing flies to the characters teaching her phonics. Some have anchor tattoos, others clever sayings in bubbles extended from their little cartoon heads. Her secret placement of plastic mice in nooks, waiting to frighten someone. Her tiny leopard print leggings folded on the dryer, her toothbrush in the cup. Her artful arrangement of painted pinecones, the barn she made out of a cardboard box with happy ponies sticking fuzzy heads through the window, and her Teddy bear tucked safely into my bed. I leave these tokens of sweet times to remind me it won’t always be this way. I won’t always be without her, and my days won’t always be shrouded with a sense of sorrow and longing. There is more joy and laughter with her to come. So I continue to keep tangible reminders, little sneak peeks into our glorious future and reunion. They remind me of truth, and encourage me to live and love."
(Excerpt from blog.prayfordaisy.com)
"I remember so vividly the morning after my husband died. I could not understand how the sun could come up after he left this world. How could life go on so carelessly for everyone else while mine was shattered. The pain being so deep, my life feeling so empty, my world being so cold. The sun did rise that morning and it has every morning since.
It takes time to accept that reality. It takes a lot of hard work grieving, and a lot of empty, lifeless moments. From the start of my loss I knew it was not my ending but rather the ending to a time-period in my life. I knew in time there would be new beginnings but little did I know the twists and turns that lie ahead.
My post-sunrise beginnings have been breathtaking. Yes, they still have pain, but they now have the perspective of loss, and that vantage point has blessed me with a deeper love of life and a more appreciative soul. My new normal, while very different than my old life, is ripe with more beauty than I ever dreamed possible.
Today, look at the sunrise and start seeing your new beginning in the distance. You don't have to run and embrace it today if you are not ready, but accept its existence and be open to the beauty it just might hold for you."
(Excerpt from brentyim.com/andreas-blog)
“My dad is a pastor of a church. I was born and raised with Bible stories as my bedtime stories and went to church every Sunday. I knew the Lord at a young age. At five years old, I remember kneeling down by the bed and saying a prayer on Easter with my parents and getting my first Bible. Then, in high school, I decided that I believed in God but I didn't know if He was quite who He said He was. I put one foot in the world and one foot into what I thought was being a Christian. Questioning God became an excuse for me to make up my own rules, but I became miserable and I knew I needed the Lord back. I struggled to get out of the Lord’s hands for so long, and when He let go, I collapsed. I could not make it without God, I could not breathe without God, I had no reason to live without God. Grace picked me up, and I have been safely holding God’s hand since.”
(Taken from the Salt & Light Video Interview)
Annie Stone is now wife to Pastor Shawn Stone and mother to three children: 13, 12, and 11. She is the co-director of women’s ministry at Maranatha Chapel in San Diego, California. Previous to joining the staff at Maranatha, Annie’s family served as missionaries in Paris, France, supporting local French churches. She has a passion for women to catch the reality of the love of Jesus Christ.