When Life Is Aflame With Hard Things — Ashes

It’s enough to make a woman give up traveling.

A month ago, during a much-anticipated trip to Nashville, TN, to spend the weekend with our four sons, I wound up languishing for 24 hours in a hospital with cardiac issues.

Fast-forward to last week’s long-awaited trip to Chicago for the Moody Bible College Founders Week –– where I gracefully tripped down the steps of the shuttle bus and landed in an ambulance headed to a local hospital. The arm that got tangled in a railing during my descent was fortunately not broken or dislocated, though it dangled weakly at my side for the next 24 hours.

In between those two trips, my husband and I journeyed five hours one-way to gather up some furniture our oldest son won’t be needing for a couple of months so that we can store it at our farm. On the way home, full with emotion over our son’s circumstances and my recent brush with mortality (“You only have one heart” were words the doctor used to convince me to be admitted and monitored under protest), I had a meltdown.

A pity party in the cab of a pick-up truck is not a pretty site.

Like I said, maybe this woman shouldn’t travel.

On the back side of those three incidents, I prayed for a way to make sense of it all. Then I heard these words from author and blogger Ann Voskamp at Moody Bible College, the morning after I fell out of the bus:

“Ashes are the best soil for life. Do not be afraid of ashes.”

The hospital visits, the son who’s picking up the pieces from a failed marriage, the dear friend who’s living with a debilitating disease, my own perceived failures as a wife and mother.

Ashes. All of it.

When life is aflame with hard things, when hopes and dreams and plans crumble before our eyes, we find ourselves sifting through ashes. Voskamp pointed out in her talk at Moody, ashes add nutrients to soil, promoting growth.

I’ve got some growing to do. Don’t we all?  What if my handful of ashes can actually help me grow stronger and wiser? What if, in the ash heap, I send down deeper roots and pull myself up to dig deeper into God’s word for sense and sustenance.

Life is going to bring hard things. It just is. We’ll probably always find we are “less than” when our circumstances call for “more than.”

God’s economy means the hard things in our lives aren’t wasted. They are redeemed by Him, the Master Redeemer, the One who gives ashes the power to bring new life.

We can’t stop living just because we take a tumble, or because of a new diagnosis or a loved one’s heartache.  Fear shouldn’t cause us to quit loving and caring and opening our arms. Or traveling to places where maybe hard stuff waits. Because there are no guarantees that it will all be easy, or that things will go the way we want.

The only guarantee is that God will be with us in the hard stuff. And, He makes beauty from ashes.




  1. Betsy Tacchella

    I enjoyed this post, Ingrid, and reposted it on my facebook site. I had no idea you were going through so many difficult issues. I hope your health is ok.

    • inkspots53@hotmail.com

      Thanks, Betsy. A little therapy and some new medication and I’ll be good as new. Satan thought he’d mess with us in Chicago, but we survived! Looking back on our adventure, I decided to call us The Motley Crew. We limped along and had a wonderful week. Wish you could have joined us! And, thanks for sharing.

  2. leslie Leyland fields

    Ingrid—-I love the simplicity and directness of this post. Though SORRY that you’ve ended up in hospital twice now!! Oh my!! But thanks for passing along what God wants to do with all of that. Hugs to you, friend!!

    • inkspots53@hotmail.com

      Thank you, dear Leslie. Trials do come, don’t they? I don’t know how we’d weather the storm without Jesus and I want to live in a way that causes others to want Him, too. Bless you, sweet friend!

  3. Jama

    Your words are so timely in my life at this moment. I’m SO sorry for the difficulties you’ve had Ingrid. Yet I’m grateful and affirmed by reading your compelling article today. I have no doubt that God is using your life examples and words to reach many people.

    Two nights ago, I was driving my daughter from Orlando to Atlanta in the driving rain. We had packed up and stored 8 years of her life into a storage unit so she could begin a new work opportunity. God showed up in so many unique ways this past week. Through exhaustion, laughter, tears, life questions and repeatedly singing Wilson Phillips song “Hold on for one more day” we made it to Atlanta.

    I was never so thankful for the Beth Moore bible studies I attended under You, Laurie and Kendra for several years! Reminders like :
    * When battling fear- God says “Go do it scared.” Somewhere in the process it will fade.
    *”God is my constant source of stability” Isaiah 33:6. Mumble This under your breath, not just in your head.
    From the Inheritance study, I recalled to help my daughter put one foot in front of the other and move forward….
    * Humble yourself and do it awkwardly”. And I did!
    * “Let go of where you’ve been in order to move forward”.

    God has blessed me through those studies under you! ❤️ Keep sharing Ingrid

    • inkspots53@hotmail.com

      Dearest Jama, we learned together, didn’t we? Those studies continue to sustain me, too. But I still need reminded constantly who is really in charge here, and that He is trustworthy and that His love is huge! So glad you girls made it safely. I hope to see you in person soon!

  4. Kathy Becze

    He makes beauty from ashes, and you are truly beautiful. Never forget it!

    • inkspots53@hotmail.com

      Thank you, dear friend!

  5. Emily Dunafin

    Ingrid, I didn’t know about you heart issue or your fall. I’m so sorry . Unfortunately I feel your pain . Thanks so much for he beautiful words. We need to meet for coffe on my porch some sunny spring morning. Love ya. Emily

    • inkspots53@hotmail.com

      Thanks, Emily. I’d love that!

  6. Jan VanKooten

    Ingrid — You’ve certainly had a momentous month! As I read your touching account of one-thing-after-another and what you’ve already gleaned from the events, some II Corinthians 1 verses (“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”) kept running through my mind. You’re already carrying out this Scripture following very recent adventures — good for you! — and praise be to God!

    • inkspots53@hotmail.com

      Thank you, Jan! So many promises from scripture have helped put things into perspective, and given me comfort. Jeremiah 29:11 stands out — “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

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