The Grove – Valley

This week at Velvet Ashes we’ve dared to tread into the dark places.  We’ve been talking about valleys, because we know so many of us are there.

Back in November during our launch week, Danielle Krouch wrote a stirring post called, “Letting Go of Being Okay.”  In response to her words, there was an outpouring of ladies who said, “Yeah, I’m NOT okay too.”

This week has been about continuing that conversation.  And what better way than to ask our beloved Danielle Krouch to come back and share with us?  Today Danielle is here being brave and open about her journey with depression.  She’s brave because she’s showing up without a happy ending.  She’s here saying, “I’m in the midst of the valley now.”

Danielle Krouch headshot

Danielle, can you tell us about when you first realized depression was something you struggle with?

After I had my first baby, I went through what I thought were post-partum “blues.”  Looking back, I can say that it was depression and I didn’t have any support at all to get me through it, because I didn’t even know what I was experiencing wasn’t normal!

In your post “Letting Go of Being Okay,” you talked about going through the depths for several years., and then coming out of that.  What helped you come out of those depths?

We went on our home assignment last year, and although we had to deal with the severe illness of our newborn, I walked away from our eight months at home refreshed.  Stepping out of the many things that caused me daily stress significantly reduced my lows.

It had been five years since we had taken an extended break and we had been through transition after transition through those years. We moved to Cambodia, to China, and back to Cambodia.  We had two babies and one was on the way.  Our team had seen significant change and my role went from regular teacher to being the spouse of a country director. I was burnt out, and I was trying to thrive in a country that wasn’t my first love.

Back in the United States, I was able to attend church and not have to run after my babies in a hot room.  I spent time with family; people who have known me the longest and whom I didn’t need to explain myself to.  Most importantly, my husband and I were able to work on some things and had great discussions about our work, family, and marriage.

How has living overseas affected your struggle with depression?

Living overseas exaggerated any struggle I had before. Things I could handle pretty well in the States, although not perfectly, blew up once I got into life here.  Loneliness, doubts, self-criticism, and fear started to get a bigger grip on me.  Once married, I expected many of these to disappear, but things actually got worse.  I thought my husband would be that ever-present voice of affirmation, and although he’s a great guy, that just didn’t happen.  Being the leader’s wife can also be isolating.  I felt out of place everywhere.

Where would you describe yourself at right now?

After our home assignment, I felt like my tank was full. I could handle things really well. Our house was robbed and a week later our house flooded during a torrential downpour.  Through this, I felt calm.  I thought, “Wow, maybe those depths are gone? Maybe I’ve learned to actually live here?”

As the months passed, the lows started to creep back in.  In January, I finally had to admit to my husband that I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to get support and counsel and it wasn’t going to happen here.

It was the hardest decision I have had to make.  The ramifications are seemingly endless.  We know, though, that for my health, for our marriage and for our family, that we need to take a step back, regroup and get the right kind of help–no more just getting by.  For the last five years I haven’t been able to determine if my lows are because of shifting hormones from having babies, or living in Cambodia, or thyroid issues…I am on the quest for help now.  I believe we are meant to thrive, and it’s been a long time since I have felt that way.

What do you wish people understood about depression?

I always viewed depression as not being able to function or get out of bed in the morning.  There are days when I do wish that I could stay in bed and not face the demands, but with three kids and our work here, I have to be functional.  That takes a lot of energy, which doesn’t leave me with much left over.  I have days where I cry all the time, and others where I find myself laughing with great joy. It’s the oddest thing.

I would like to tell people that it’s not something you can just try harder to get over.  It’s deeper than that.  As I’ve tried to explain it to my husband, I have said that I don’t want to be this way.  I know something is wrong; I just don’t know how to fix it.

How can the Velvet Ashes community pray for you?

Please pray that I’d be able to find the right help. We have a lot of changes in the coming months, and it’s quite overwhelming to think about.  Pray that Christ would be my sustainer and that I would not be swept under with worry.

Danielle, thank you.  Thank you for the way you’ve shared your story today.  You didn’t show up with answers, you came in vulnerability, letting us into your valley.  And now everyone struggling in their own dark times will be comforted knowing, “I am not alone.”  

You have our prayers, friend.


What a gift Danielle’s story is.  May we receive and hold it tenderly.

It’s your turn now.  Time to respond to her story and to offer up your own story, your thoughts, your art on the prompt “Valley.”  Your valley may be labeled “depression” or maybe not.  Regardless, we’re here to gather, to share and to love.

There is a time and place for advice, for suggestions and resources, but that time and place isn’t here today.  We humbly ask that you share those with us in the comments of yesterday’s post.  Today is simply about being with each other.  

(For those with a happy ending story of a valley now in your past, we do want to hear those!)    

Here’s how to share with us:

  • You can share with us in the comments, if you don’t have a blog of your own. We have the amazing ability to post images in our comments! So post images of your art and/or share your words there.
  • If you write a comment, please avoid copying and pasting from Word as this will publish a lot of junk computer code.  It’s best to type it directly into the comment box.
  • If you have a blog, write or make art based on the prompt and join the link-up!
  • Be sure to add the Velvet Ashes link ( to your blog post.
  • Please select the permalink from your post (so not your blog’s url, but your post url:
  • Click on the blue “Add your link” button below to add your blog post to this page.
  • It will walk you through selecting which image you want to show up in the linky.
  • Then your picture and link will show up below!
  • Then be sure to go visit other’s sites and share some comment love! It’s the rule. We applaud brave hearts!


  1. Laura March 20, 2014

    Danielle, thank you for your courage in sharing your valley. Praying for you.

    1. Danielle Krouch March 20, 2014

      Thank you, Laura.

  2. Jennifer March 20, 2014

    When  I read the psalms of David I find myself reassured that God is not afraid of valleys and does not reject us when we find ourselves within them. We each walk many different journeys through our lives. Some do not see or experience many valleys, others like me spend much of our lives, one way or another living within them. I cannot speak of, or really understand your valley, or see it as you see it. I can only speak of mine.

    In walking through valleys I have done at different times most of the things which can really help within the valleys and I know better than to reject any one of them out of hand as possibly being useful or essential to those walking through their own unique valleys. I know I simply cannot take any of the wonderful new medications developed over the last 20 years or so, because the side effects are too severe and they are not effective for me. I know what I can take and how much I probably need if I do. I have walked that road. I know that we need to find what works for us. I know that our bodies are different, and because the medications work in different ways, different things can help different people at different times. I have learnt not to be afraid of doing what it takes to understand the valleys that we are walking through or of doing whatever it takes to not be simply overwhelmed by them. Both medication and good counseling have at different times been part of valleys in my life. The thing that has helped me the most in learning to live within the valley has not been either of those things, though they have their place. It has simply been learning to trust God, one step at a time, often one moment at a time, in walking through the valley. My experience in the valleys has helped to shape just who I am today. I have both a strength both in my relationship to God and in who he has made me to be, that I honestly do not think I could have found any other way. I still have much to learn, and definite points of sensitivity and weakness. I need to better learn how to talk about my story and what God has taught me through it. I need to continue to seek to find the right people to allow close to me in challenging times in my current valley. I need to remain open to what God will continue to bring into my life both to challenge and to refresh me as I walk through the valley.

    Valleys are unique
    Valleys are challenging
    Valleys are inspiring
    Valleys are life.
    Valleys are times to rest
    Valleys are times to grow
    Valleys are times to reflect
    Valleys are times to live
    Valleys are times to find God.

    1. Jennifer March 20, 2014

      Thank you for sharing your story. The gift that we give to others when we are not afraid to share part of ourselves like that, is a very real and powerful thing.

    2. Danielle Krouch March 20, 2014

      “My experience in the valleys has helped to shape just who I am today. I have both a strength both in my relationship to God and in who he has made me to be, that I honestly do not think I could have found any other way”  This is so true, Jennifer.  I have appreciated your thoughts on several comment threads recently here on Velvet Ashes.  Thank you for continuing to come to share your wisdom and love for our Savior. I always appreciate your poetry.

  3. Cyndi March 20, 2014

    You all have no idea how much I need this place.  One of the things that has been the hardest for me on the field is the realization that other than my husband (who is kind and loving and completely overwhelmed with my emotional stuff) I feel very alone.  We have been there 10 years, and I’ve had the mountains and valleys.  Right now is a valley.  A very deep, very dark valley.  I am in the US, and my family and their dysfunction are about to send me over the edge.  My ministry is stagnant, and I have no idea where God is.  And this isn’t the kind of stuff that you can tell your supporters in a blog post.  So I sit.  And shake.  And try to remember that breathing is good.  And essential.  And I try to remind myself that I’ve walked through this before, and even when I couldn’t see it, the Lord was there.  And I will survive this.  Right?

    1. Jennifer March 20, 2014

      Cindy, Yes you can do it. One step at a time. One breath at a time. You are right that this is a wonderful place. A priceless blessing. Welcome!

    2. Danielle Krouch March 20, 2014

      Cyndi, after 10 years on the field myself, I have only now come to see my desperate need.  I have tried to hide it for so long.  We just now shared with our supporters about our upcoming plans to seek help in the States, and it’s not easy. But I’ve been surprised at the support they’ve shown us in our decision.  I will be praying for you as you handle the dark valley and deal with family dysfunction.  God knows our greatest needs, even when we cannot fully express them to others.  Have you heard the song by All Sons and Daughters called “Reason to Sing”?  That song speaks exactly to what you’re going through. It is a song I’ve cried out to God during my dark, dry times when He seemed to far away.

  4. Sarah Moulding March 20, 2014

    The image that I share is a reflection of how I was feeling after having miscarried 3 babies and the despair and desperation I was feeling at the time, compounded by feeling vulnerable and lonely in the midst of another culture far away from family. It was a dark time, that seemed to grow that bit darker as each month passed by and my desperation for another baby deepened. Why couldn’t I be grateful and happy with the blessing of our first daughter who was with me, why couldn’t I delight in her, why was I looking for something more and couldn’t be content. 

    4 years on I am very grateful to God for the 2 gorgeous boys that we have to complete our family of 5, and yet I still see the scars on my daughter from that time, our relationship continues to be a daily struggle.  Still praying for Gods wisdom in that one, fearing that I have created problems for her future life, that I have dragged her into a valley with me, and so some way we need to find a way out of it together.

    1. Danielle Krouch March 20, 2014

      Wow. What a powerful image this is.  I am sure many can relate to this deep heart ache.  Praying for you and your relationship with your oldest.  Not exactly the same, but I am there with my oldest who is five, who has been affected by my depression and anger.  I cry out to God to restore what’s broken and ask Him to be glorified in the messes. He is bigger than my issues. I pray that you and your daughter can begin that journey out of that valley together.

    2. Danielle Wheeler March 21, 2014

      Sarah, thanks so much for sharing your story and your incredible image.  Praying that the Father will take the burdens of fear and guilt that weigh on you, freeing you for new and gracious places.

  5. Elizabeth March 20, 2014

    Oh Danielle, you know I love you, and I am so proud of you for your honesty here. And although I know making these changes is hard, and sad, I am so very glad you are going to be getting the help you need soon. God will be with you. I hope you also know how many people love you, both here in Asia, as well as in America.

    1. Danielle Krouch March 21, 2014

      Thank you, Elizabeth. That means so much to me.

  6. Brittany March 21, 2014

    I am so grateful for all of you women who are brave to tell your story here for all of us to lean on each other and find hope through shared experience.  To know we are not walking alone even when there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  I’ve learned a lot this week and been encouraged by everyone.  I don’t have anything helpful to add, I just want you to know that I value you and your experience and insight.

  7. Jennifer March 21, 2014

    I neglected to say something important when I posted earlier. One of the things which I see had a significant impact in my current valley came with the post referred to in the initial Grove post today. It included a simple challenge to acknowledge to others that we were “not ok” if that was the case, so that someone could commit to pray for us for a month. To me the fact that I both said it and it was simply accepted and some people did commit to pray for me was a very powerful thing, which at least as I can see it, did begin for me a process which is still continuing. At that time, all I actually said was “I am not ok”. No detail, no explanation, just a simple statement. If you are with me in a valley right now I would simply encourage you to not be afraid to acknowledge that here today, and allow all of us to pray for and support each other. From my own experience this can be a very powerful thing.

    1. Danielle Wheeler March 21, 2014

      Jennifer, I love that Velvet Ashes has been a part of your healing journey.  Praying for continued healing, for light to keep seeping in.

  8. Ashley Felder March 21, 2014

    Danielle, thanks for your transparency. I can’t imagine how hard of a decision it was to go back home for a period. But, I’m glad you’re listening to His whisperings. Will continue to lift you and your fam!

  9. Alex King March 21, 2014

    This discussion could not have come at a better time for me. Life overseas just feels so isolating 99% of the time, it’s refreshing to see that I am not alone in my struggles. I’m thankful for a safe place during a phase in life that I don’t have many of those. I definitely find myself in the midst of a valley right now and it can be really hard to even admit that. I’m a lifelong have it all together, oldest sibling, type A, fixer type and life overseas has just shifted most everything that I know about myself. That coupled with the fact that our jobs here are so hard has made this such a difficult season.

    I’m thankful to have a new place with other women who have been there.

    1. Danielle Wheeler March 21, 2014

      Alex, from your personality description, I think we are kindred spirits.  🙂  I fit that bill exactly.   And the thing about living overseas is that it will NOT allow us to have it all together (darn it!).  A shifting of most everything I know about myself – that is a perfect description for what happens!  You are definitely not alone in your struggles.  What you are feeling is so completely normal.  Hope there’s some comfort in that.  Glad you’re here.

  10. Polly March 21, 2014

    Depression found me during the 2 years I lived in China.  At least that’s when I was finally willing to acknowledge its presence, though I think I have been in a state of mild depression for most of my life.  Living overseas seemed to make it more intense though.  I struggled to hold onto hope.  I struggled to find God (or rather to let Him find me).  There were times that I felt like I couldn’t breathe or that I couldn’t get enough light.

    I am now back in the US.  I went to an Andrew Peterson concert a couple nights ago and he was talking about the continuing gray and cold weather in his home in Nashville and how this winter has been particularly hard to get through.  So much so that about a week ago he started to wonder if Spring was really real.  How true that is at various points in our own lives during certain seasons, but especially when depression settles in with its think blanket of death.

    As I write this I am reminded of the words to a song by a singer I was introduced to not too long ago – Ellie Holcomb.  In her song that comes straight from 1 Thess 4:17-18 she says, “Those who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.  Thus we shall always be with the Lord, therefore comfort one another with these words.  We shall always be with the Lord, we shall always be with the Lord.  So comfort one another with these words, we shall always be with the Lord.”  We are not guaranteed that this present darkness will lift in our lifetime.  Many saints who have gone before found sadness, grief, and depression as constant companions on their journey.  Jesus Himself was known as “The Man of Sorrows.”  A friend of mine used to often say that God never promised us that we wouldn’t suffer, but He did promise that we wouldn’t have to suffer alone.  Andrew Peterson sings in one of his songs, “The man of all sorrows He never forgot what sorrow is carried in the hearts that He bought.  So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God, the aching may remain, but the breaking does not.”  And to quote C.S. Lewis (though not quite verbatim), “God whispers in our pleasures, but shouts in our pains.”  If we allow them, valleys can be places of invitation to deeper intimacy with God, even in the times when it seems like He’s silent (which seems really strange to say, but it’s true).  I have certainly found that to be true in my own life.  And within the Winters of our lives, there is surely the HOPE of Spring.  It IS real.  For we shall ALWAYS be with the Lord forever, in a glorious place where “all the sad things will come untrue and will become new again” (a phrase first coined by Tolkein in LOTR, but included in the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones, which everyone should own a copy of!!).

    “[Some mortals] say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.” (C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce)

    Take comfort friends.  These dark nights of the soul, though they persist in this fallen world of ours, will be turned into joy when you finally look upon the face of your Savior, who has come to make all things new.  And we shall always be with Him.  Forever.  Let us continue to remind each other of this.

    I wrote the following poem a number of years ago for a friend in response to his heart-wrenching story.  And years later it became a really important message to ME!  May we be women who find strength and hope in our Father (and in the midst of community with one another) to endure and to again paint on the canvas of the world our own colors of life, not in spite of our suffering, but because of it.  And because of who we find God to be as Redeemer in its midst.

    I Walk Among Leaves
    The deep blue of the sky
    penetrates every opening I see
    through leafless branches, reaching and stretching;
    a stark contrast between that which seems to fill all
    and that which longs to be filled again.
    Yet there is a haunting beauty
    in the bareness and brokenness.
    And through the trees, the sky looks bluer today.

    I stop to observe one tree,
    its finger-like branches
    still trying to grasp onto what little
    life is left, as though the remaining few leaves
    could cover and protect its naked frame
    from the harshness of the approaching season.

    Closing my eyes, I gently place my hands
    on the dark bark.  My fingers move
    in and out of holes and deep gashes left
    by claws of animals ready to feed,
    the occasional young lover
    wanting to memorialize his heart,
    seasons of cruel weather.

    I breathe in the icy air,
    which burns as it fills my lungs.
    Winter will not be gracious this year.
    I wonder aloud, “How do you still stand?”

    I walk among leaves
    where once, the ground underneath
    was bursting with life – green and hopeful.
    I walk among trees
    whose coverings now litter the ground:
    a mostly brown blanket with specks
    of newly fallen red and gold.

    A gust of wind breaks the stillness
    of the moment, stirs up the fallen
    leaves at my feet.

    I watch their unrehearsed dance
    as they circle each other and fly away
    in different directions.  I think towards
    the day when shades and shapes of green
    will grow again and fill the empty spaces.

    There is hope that abides
    in this season of death and loss, that the trees
    will once again paint the deep blue sky
    with newly trembling yet determined green –
    their own colors of life.

    Perhaps this hope is what makes them

    I walk among leaves
    as birdsong overhead fills
    the silence of these woods.

    1. Jennifer March 21, 2014

      Polly, Thank you for sharing this, all of it, but especially the poem. I can understand why it would continue to speak to you, it speaks to me. It often seems to work like that. I will write something for one purpose at one time and then God will remind me of it later and use it to speak directly to me, or speak to me more deeply about it. It speaks of the deep hope that we can have, that we can hold, especially when our valley is not something that we come out of quickly, but maybe need to learn fully, actively, completely within.

      1. Jennifer March 21, 2014

        The final sentence should read: It speaks of the deep hope that we can have, that we can hold, especially when our valley is not something that we come out of quickly, but maybe need to learn to live fully, actively, completely within.

  11. Amy Young March 21, 2014

    Danielle, your interview is a helpful “live report” in which you put words to experiences that allow –I’d like to say everyone, but probably most is more accurate — to enter into your world for a moment and creates points of connection for us all. May you daily mercies for the journey you and your family are embarking on.

  12. Jessica Hoover March 21, 2014

    Danielle, your honesty and openness to share is refreshing and I’m just so grateful. It inspires and encourages me in my own journey. Thanks for being a part of this community is such an authentic way.

  13. Dorothy March 22, 2014

    As I read these posts, I want to cry out “hope” for all those who are sharing about their struggles with depression. I am late 60’s and have been living in China for 7 years. Prior to coming here I went through several seasons of depression and I know, in that blackness, I needed to know there was hope that life would get better (and it did). During the second year living here, I went through another round of depression, but could also see that I was going through a stage 2 season of culture shock. Again, hope and the support of my husband and the prayers of many back home got me through it.

    Prior to coming overseas I sought out the care of Christian counselors, prayer teams, and medical doctors. All played an important part in helping me to heal, including going on some medications for a season. I am still on an anti-anxiety medication and may be on that for the rest of my life, but I am okay with that. If you are going through depression, please seek out professional help. There is hope and you will feel better. There is  light at the end of the tunnel and it not only feels wonderful to be on the other side of that dark valley, but at that point, God can use you to minister to others who are struggling with a compassion that can only come through suffering. I know that God has used the many struggles I have gone through in my life to minister to others here on the field (and I am not a counselor, just a mature woman with a lot of not so easy life behind me). For me it helped to know that people understood and cared. It is worth the pain to be able to be there for another sister and be able to say, “It’s okay. I understand. There is hope. You will not feel like this all your life.” And I am amazed that God could take a basket case (that I was) and bring mental and spiritual health to me and could use me for His kingdom work over here. My prayer for all my sisters who are struggling with depression (and/or stages of culture shock) is from Rms 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

    1. Brittany March 22, 2014

      Thank you for sharing your experience and your wisdom with us!

    2. Danielle Wheeler March 23, 2014

      Thank you, Dorothy, for your story of hope and healing, for the reminder that we have a Father that brings this kind of change.  I think we all needed to hear that.  So thank you.

  14. Kristi March 23, 2014

    I feel like I should share more.  I don’t know what to say or how.  This is all I’ve got.

    Dare I?

    Dare I open it?

    That door

    Closed, but not locked

    Over there

    The one obscured by

    The table

    Draped in lace

    Strewn with Spring flowers

    Dare I open it?

    That door

    And allow the air of Winter

    To brush past my skin

    And again see the Valley

    Even for an instant

    Do I claim it as My Own?

    Dare I open it?

    That door

    1. Danielle Wheeler March 23, 2014

      Such hope that the winter valley can one day be obscured by a spring table.  There, but in the past.  Beautiful.

      1. Kristi March 24, 2014

        Maybe not always.


      2. Jennifer March 24, 2014

        Sometimes what we get is not a way out of the valley but rather the strength and support to walk in the valley, or the ability to look at it through different eyes and not be overwhelmed by it. Both are God at work in the valley.

  15. Dorothy March 24, 2014

    Yes, I truly believe that God is at work in the valleys of our lives. The more valleys we do walk through, the more we can trust Him for His plan for the valley we may be in. One of the greatest gifts we can give to one another is to be there for each other in the valleys. Those who have spent time in the valleys are best equipped to help out another who is struggling in the valley.

  16. Kristi March 26, 2014

    All I Have to Give



    And weariness

    Like lumps of coal


    As I clutch them in my hand

    Yet they are all I have to offer You

    My lowly act of worship

    I raise them up

    And with open hands

    Offer them to You

    With a smile , You take them

    Into Your hand

    There they are squeezed and pressed

    I fear that all I have to give will

    Turn to worthless dust

    With nothing left to please You

    Again, You smile and

    Open Your hand

    In which lay three sparkling jewels



    And Strength

    You give them back

    And are pleased

  17. Kristi March 26, 2014


    Please don’t ask me

    To be willing to fall even if the way of brokenness leads to



    But if You do

    Please be there to catch me, for You promise



    Please don’t ask me

    To be willing to give up the sun even if in the end You bring



    But if You do

    Please be quick to light the lamp of Your Word, for You said, “I am the



    Please don’t ask me

    To be willing to ache with loneliness even though, unfelt You will be



    But if You do

    Please hold me close, for we are to call You



    Please don’t ask me

    To be willing to lose my usefulness in order to find Your



    But if You do

    Please renew my mind, for in You all things are made



    Please don’t ask me

    To be willing to again taste death even if it brings in the end the flavor of



    But if you do

    Please go before me into the Valley, for You have already walked it in


  18. Kristi March 26, 2014

    If You Call

    If You call me

    I will walk through the Valley

    At its entrance a sign post reads

    “I Am with you.”


    If You call me

    I will weather the Storm

    In its midst Your voice speaks,



    If You call me

    I will stand firm as the earth shakes

    Over the tumult I hear You say,

    “I will strengthen and establish you.”


    If You call me

    I will fight the darkness

    For You shattered the darkness with

    “Let there be Light!”


    If You call me

    I will wade into the flood

    Clinging to the promise,

    “With My right hand I will uphold you.”


    If You call me

    I will follow Your voice

    Because I am never safer than when You say,




  19. Jennifer March 26, 2014

    Kristi, Thank you for sharing such wonderful, clear, insightful poems with us, capturing both the heart, the challenge and the promise of walking through the valley. I appreciate it very much.

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