Book Features

what you will gain from this incredible book

Explore Your Place

Where you feel like no one understands what you are going through since your life has been turned upside down after the unthinkable happened to you

Embrace Your Journey

While you are walking through turbulent terrain challenged by the detours of life, you will be determined to fight your way back, discovering your purpose through your pain

Embark on Your New Life

Victory for your life is in the plan of God and you shall walk back into the land of the living, healed and restored, thriving as a child of the living God

Journey Steps

Access spiritual growth tools after each chapter for personal/group study: Confessions, Actions, Prayer starters and Scripture Meditation

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Pick a page and read a brief excerpt from various chapters.


Foreword

Our God is truly amazing. For only God in Divine ability, wisdom and providence is able to position our lives like pieces in a Chess Game and achieve grace-laced results no matter the circumstances and all without asking our permission. I am excited to commend to all to read this book. As stated, God will position and reposition us by the sheer power and insight of the Lord’s will. This will happen often without our permission and will even some, if not most time include tragedy, trauma or loss. This is why the Lord cannot trust us to write our own stories because we would leave out the painful episodes and excruciating chapters. We would leave out the cancer, the death of a loved one, the disease or dis-ease, and that heartbreak or heartache.

That is why this book is so refreshing. Minister Shack speaks to and is a testimony to the fact that whether you know it or not God is always at work even when there is no evidence present. She reminds us that the Lord’s heart for us can always be trusted when God’s hand in our lives seemingly cannot be traced. It is when this is realized that we can be assured that processes in life might be hard but they’re fair because our Sovereign God provides Grace for the Journey.

Dr. Eugene L. Gibson Jr.,
Senior Pastor, Olivet Fellowship Church, Memphis, TN, Author of Courage Under Fire

Foreword

Our God is truly amazing. For only God in Divine ability, wisdom and providence is able to position our lives like pieces in a Chess Game and achieve grace-laced results no matter the circumstances and all without asking our permission. I am excited to commend to all to read this book. As stated, God will position and reposition us by the sheer power and insight of the Lord’s will. This will happen often without our permission and will even some, if not most time include tragedy, trauma or loss. This is why the Lord cannot trust us to write our own stories because we would leave out the painful episodes and excruciating chapters. We would leave out the cancer, the death of a loved one, the disease or dis-ease, and that heartbreak or heartache.

That is why this book is so refreshing. Minister Shack speaks to and is a testimony to the fact that whether you know it or not God is always at work even when there is no evidence present. She reminds us that the Lord’s heart for us can always be trusted when God’s hand in our lives seemingly cannot be traced. It is when this is realized that we can be assured that processes in life might be hard but they’re fair because our Sovereign God provides Grace for the Journey.

Dr. Eugene L. Gibson Jr.,
Senior Pastor, Olivet Fellowship Church, Memphis, TN, Author of Courage Under Fire

Table of Contents

Section One: Your Place
1. That Place Called There
2. Defeating Weapons of Mass Torture
3. Grace in the Shadow of Death

Section Two: Your Journey
4. Navigating Destiny Detours
5. The Road to Your Comeback
6. Living on Hope Until Help Arrives

Section Three: Your New Life
7. Reservations in Your New Season
8. New Purpose on the Other Side of Pain
9. The Victory Lap

Page 11

As long as I can remember, I have held a passport and traveled quite often as a child. My favorite places to travel are locations with beautiful, sandy beaches and crystal blue waters. I love the idea of going to new countries and experiencing other cultures. Simply planning the trip is exciting and the anticipation of a great vacation builds with each new adventure on the itinerary. When we travel, we not only hope, but expect sunny skies, great weather and calm seas. Even though, we know that the weather is uncontrollable and sometimes unpredictable. Wind and rain can hurl down unexpectedly on anyone at any time and in any place. Then we have to adjust our itinerary, manage our disappointment and develop new plans. Isn’t that just like life? It is just as uncontrollable and unpredictable as the weather.
Sometimes, we treat our lives like a well-planned vacation expecting only sunny skies and undeterred plans. Unfortunately, life isn’t that controllable. As a matter of fact, at any given time our plans can be altered by an unforeseen event, tragedy or traumatic experience. Not only will your life plans have to change, but the act of navigating through that place is painful and often unbearable. Times such as these will usher you into an unexpected and unwanted place.

Perhaps you know this place to which I am referring. It is that place that you never visited before and didn’t know much about. It is a place you often wished could be erased from the passport of your life. In that place, there aren’t any fragrant and beautiful flowers to adorn your neck when you arrive. A concierge is not available to address your accommodation concerns. You do not even receive a welcome brochure detailing the daily activities and excursion highlights. The most frustrating part of this place is that you do not have the opportunity to make the reservations nor approve the itinerary. All you know is that one day it was sunny, clear skies and warm temperatures, and the next day, you are “There.” If events in your life have ushered you to that place called There, you are not alone.

Stranger in the Land
Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law in the book of Ruth, also found herself in that place called There. She was married with two sons and lived in Judah until a famine caused them to relocate to Moab. During early times, for a woman to be married and bear children it was the equivalent to being wealthy. The social status of a woman was at the bottom of the barrel next to the poor. Widows, orphans and immigrants were placed alongside the poor, but in many occasions would be treated as less than them. Women did not even have the same opportunities as the average, poor, adult, male Israelite. In this patriarch social structure, widows were dependent on their fathers, husbands or in the absence of both, the obedience and kindness of others.

Consequently, manpower was needed for sustenance and usually the male was that source of provision as well as the covering. Without the male, the woman was left extremely vulnerable. Having children in this culture was imperative to carry on the family lineage and in most cases to contribute to the family’s economic stability.

Therefore, being married with children, led to a stable ‘happily ever after life.’ Presumably, Naomi was living that life until the time of the famine. Ruth 1 records, that while in Moab, her husband died. Naomi and her two sons lived in Moab for ten years, took wives for themselves, and then they both died there as well. Now, Naomi was a widow, childless and a stranger in the land.

When I relocated from the North to the South, the most frequently asked question I was asked was “How in the world did you get from New York to Mississippi?” Everyone wanted to know why I would leave the big city and move to a small town in Mississippi. I was asked if I had family there or if my job relocated me? For a long time I evaded those questions because I did not know how to answer from an honest place without revealing the painful reality of my journey.
The reality was that New York was not my home; I was born and raised in Connecticut. New York was the place I went to so that I could live out my dreams. It was the place I obtained my college education. It was the place where I got married, had my first child and bought my first house. It was the place that I stayed for 18 years and had the life that I wanted until it was all gone.
It was now the place that my husband died, I became a widow at 35, single mother looking at foreclosure and receiving food stamps. It was the place where I found myself There. There, is the place where you never expected to be. It is the place where you are suddenly drowning in a sea of despair and tidal waves of hopelessness crashes into your prayers and faith. There, is a place of darkness. There, is a place of brokenness. There, is a place of pain and grief. Instead of white sandy beaches, cliffs and valleys fill the landscape. Instead of light blue skies, darkness and muddy slopes create a new horizon. No one wants to be There, but unfortunately, some of us will either visit or become an involuntary resident, like myself, Naomi and countless others.

Page 32

Tragedy Tortures Your Theology
When tragedy takes place in our lives we are consumed with questions, what-ifs, anger and disbelief. We find ourselves on the other side of happiness and in a seemingly unfair war waged against our souls. I was tortured by the rain, dreams, silence of friends and family, my husband’s car, water, a bridge, financial distress, winter’s cold temperatures and the never-ending stigma of suicide. You may be tortured by the car accident, miscarriage, divorce, domestic assaults, your sexuality, the infidelity or your unfilled dreams. The enemy of our soul will use these circumstances to wage war on our spirituality, theology, mind, faith, hopes and dreams. We are not all going to experience the same trials in life, but all hurts.
Not only are your emotions, memory and heart tortured during this time, but also your theology. When a 27 year old woman who is 7 months pregnant finds out she has a large, stage four, cancerous tumor pressing on her lungs you begin to question the heart of God. When thousands of people including women and children are swept away in the torrents of a hurricane, you begin to question the authority of God. Tragedy, trauma and loss can torture your theology and your faith in God.
The reality that the death of my husband was caused by suicide devastated my Christian beliefs. I was taught from an early church education that those who committed suicide were sent directly to hell. They do not pass go, nor collect bail. They go straight to hell. This was the very first dagger to my heart when I learned of his death. The image of my husband, who loved God, believed in Jesus as his Lord and Savior yet burning in hell was unbearable and unbelievable. I had to wrestle with what I was taught and what I knew personally about God. I learned a few things that settled my spirit and that could no longer be a source of torture.
First, I did my own personal bible study, and saw that each suicide that was recorded in the bible did not pronounce any judgment of hell on those that committed it. Furthermore, those who receive hell as a judgment is because they have denied Jesus as being the Son of God and their personal Savior. Finally, no one knows the heart condition and the timing of the actual death and repentance can take place before their final demise.
However, only one thing truly convinced me of my husband’s final resting place and that was the character of God. I knew God. I have observed the character of God and God’s ways. God knew the heart of my husband and although he was not a perfect man, he was still covered and under the blood of Jesus. I have no hesitation in telling my son, that his father is in heaven with God.
In spite of what you are going through, you will have to do some work as you move toward your healing during this journey. You will not be able to just sit and wait for time to pass for you to just feel better. You will need to see and arrest the things in the spirit that are targeting your faith, your purpose and your destiny.

Don’t let the enemy use what you see,
to forget what you know.

Page 70

That abundant life is not about big homes, yachts and wealth but instead a purpose driven life active in the Kingdom of God.
Do not allow fear to keep you from moving out of the negative place that you are in. Do not allow anything that was not sent by God to keep you from your destiny, your purpose and God’s plan for your life. The more you fight, the more you walk, the stronger you will become. Eventually, you will get to that new life after surviving what happened to you, but don’t get discouraged when you arrive and it feels uncomfortable at first. Sometimes new is uncomfortable simply because it’s new, just like a pair of shoes. Regardless, you still must leave anything from your past that wasn’t designed to live in your present.
Re-Entering the Land of the Living
When you re-enter the land of the living or your predestined promise land you have to leave behind everything that died in the desert. Faithlessness cannot enter. Doubt cannot enter. Death cannot enter. Fear cannot enter. Rejection cannot enter. Insecurity cannot enter. You have to let go of who left, what hurt you, who died, etc. You have to let go of the pain, offense and un-forgiveness. I could never forget my late husband, but I had to learn how to let go of the pain his death caused me in order to begin living my new life and walk into my destiny.
While the old doubting, disobedient generation could not enter the Promised Land, two did. Caleb and Joshua. God told Joshua, “Be strong and be courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.” Joshua 1:6
You will have to fight some battles in order to maintain in your new territory or life. There will be giants in the land, but when God is your Commander-In-Chief, He instructs you, and makes sure you are prepared and victorious.
It is imperative to put our dark, stormy times into the proper perspective of our entire life. Navigating through turbulent times will be difficult, but if we acknowledge the obstacles and become aware of the detours, we will find our way back home, back to the land of the living and toward our destiny.
It easy to stay in pain after a while because you’ve become used to it. You become used to crying yourself to sleep at night. You can become accustomed to your grieving where it feels a part of life’s routine. You can become habitual about replaying events over and over again. You can even be comfortable in your discomfort. Don’t let pain be a crutch or an excuse for not moving away from the pain of the past. In order to move forward you have to confront the pain and the obstacles that keep you from moving forward. If you do not confront those areas in your life that cause you pain, you will find yourself dying to your yesterday instead of living for your tomorrow.
What keeps you in your past? What keeps you bound to your pain? What keeps you distracted from making plans for the future? Have you gone off the beaten path or off the grid? This is a great time to search your heart and identify what or who is in the way. The tragedy, trauma or loss was not designed to kill you. However, God can use it to steer you in the direction of your destiny.
I urge you to walk into the land of the living, with boldness being led by the power and authority of God each victorious step of the way. When the journey feels unbearable, remember God has given you grace for the journey. When you understand the grace that is upon your life, you will know that regardless of the terrain in your journey, God has graced you to go through it and reach your destiny.

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Testimonials

the most inspiring testimonials from our readers

Nicole Gibson

Nicole Gibson

"This book is so God ordained for me in this season of my life. The readings promote and forces one to do the REAL work."

Latoyia Williams

"This book highlights hope in tragedy in a tangible refreshingly honest way. Although the journey is not always easy I felt the grace in my own life as I read through with a tearful smile. It was a true blessing to me and I cannot wait to share it!"

Latoyia Williams
Verneita Thompson

Verneita Thompson

"Grace for the Journey is an amazing book! The author has written an amazing guide for Christians from all walks of life. This book has helped me mature my spiritual walk and relationship with God! This is definitely a must read!"

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About the Author

introducing the amazing author of this book

Author career and biography

After her life changing experience following her husband’s suicide, Athena C. Shack departed from her home in the East Coast and a 15 year long career in media and marketing to answer the calling God placed on her life. She is a licensed minister of the Gospel with a Masters of Divinity degree and a Christian Education ministry leader. Serving in her passion for the brokenhearted, she uses her writing, teaching, preaching and prophetic gifts to encourage, inspire and heal the brokenhearted. Happily remarried, Athena resides in the South with her husband and their three children.

From the author's heart

There comes a point in everyone's life where either you need a hand to hold in the dark, or be that hand for someone else. My prayer is that I can hold as many hands with Grace for the Journey, and guide hurting children of God back to the land of the living.