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Treasure in Dark Places: Stories and Poems of Hope in the Hurting

Life can hurt.

Sometimes we wonder where God is when times are tough and our shadows seem too deep.

But shadows can’t exist without light. Sometimes it’s in the darkest corner we find the most unexpected treasure. Treasure in Dark Places is a collection of starkly honest poetry, and re-imaginings of biblical accounts and encounters with Jesus, most of it written over lockdown through shielding, where I had to be separated even from my own family within the home. Some of the pieces have been on this blog, but most of it is fresh material, and all of it is a call towards the hope we find in Jesus, even when we are living in pain or sorrow or difficulty, and an encouragement to look towards God for the treasure that can be unearthed in the worst of times. It is out now!

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Here is a short trailer video.

And here’s a video which features part of one of the poems, to give a taster of the book.

Here’s what people are saying about it:

‘The pieces in Treasure in Dark Places are beautiful – I loved them. Liz Carter has an amazing gift to give language to some of our deepest feelings. Highly recommended.’ Patrick Regan OBE, author, speaker and director of Kintsugi Hope

‘Through storytelling, meditation, and Scripture, Liz Carter uncovers gems for us. Among them, look out for a beautiful adaption of Ephesians 3:16-21. The creative re-telling of biblical stories is powerful and moving, drawing us in to see their relevance today, encouraging us to place ourselves within their narrative. Treasure in Dark Places offers space to be real, space to acknowledge that life is hard sometimes, and space to see chinks of light coming into and illuminating the shadows. Take your time with this book, it is not one to be raced through. Go gently, and stop to mine the depths of riches you discover along the way.’ Emily Owen, author and speaker

‘This is an outpouring; a beautiful communication of emotions and passions mixed and mingled: the marvel and the mystery, the passion and the pain. God present even in times of pandemic, of pain, of lockdown, of loneliness, of loss. Liz combines her beautiful poetry with her retelling of moments in the life of Jesus and the disciples. These somehow convey the words and feelings unspoken, the aching within of the characters, the spirit yearning to be released. Liz paints pictures with her words and like the best artists she awakens thoughts and prayers within you, as yet unspoken, given voice and form by the stories she tells.  This is a book to ponder, a book to pray into, a book to read somewhere it’s ok to let the tears fall as you do so, a book to dip into, to let God speak through, to inspire, to comfort, and to console your soul. Liz herself is present in every word, with candour and honesty, offering a window into her own reflections, but also enabling something beyond her to speak: the spirit of God which whispers over the words she has written. Utterly, achingly beautiful.’ Dr Kate Middleton, pastor and director of Mind and Soul Foundation

Treasure in Dark Places brings Bible stories to life in a new and brilliant way. The combination of stories and thought-provoking words in the poetry helped me to put myself in the middle of the action; as one of the onlookers at the cross, as a disciple, and many other characters. As someone who lives with chronic illness, I particularly enjoyed the Holy Saturday and waiting elements as I find so much of my life is spent waiting – for medication to work, for sleep to come, for God to feel near again. Thank you, Liz for sharing so openly and honestly about the struggles of life, and reminding us, through the beauty and power of your words, of the hope that we have in Jesus.’ Laura Neale, founder of You Belong Online Church Community

‘As Christians, it is often suggested that we should be living lives of constant victory, claiming promises for healing and prosperity. But, while God frequently blesses us with glimpses of his glory, beauty and generosity, the Final Victory is yet to come, so our lives can often feel anything but victorious. Our calling is often to lean into Him while we wait. 

No-one understands the complex emotions of this wait better than Liz Carter, herself a lifelong sufferer of chronic illness. In this collection of inspiring poems and vivid re-tellings of Biblical encounters with Jesus, Liz re-orients our hearts towards our Creator God, the One who can hold our fragile lives at every stage. She aptly expresses the highest joys and the deepest sorrows of living on this earth, through personal poems, re-worked Psalms and hymns, and liturgical pieces, suitable for corporate worship. Buy this for yourself, your church leader, and your friend who is hurting: this exquisite book will remind us all that, as we struggle, God is very near.’ Lucy Rycroft – author and blogger at The Hope-Filled Family

‘As an avid reader I can honestly say that I’ve never found a book as gripping and deeply enthralling as ‘Treasure in Dark Places.’  From seeing the subtitle, ‘Stories and poems of hope in the hurting’ a big ‘YES’ filled my heart.  When you’re hurting, to hold a heavy tome about hope is just another burden, but when it’s a poem here, a lament there, a prayer here, a story there – that is life giving. I can read it knowing that even if I can only read a few sentences, it will touch me in my hurting and ignite a flicker of hope which the next piece I read will fan into a flame which touching other flames will then become a fire.  Liz has ignited such a fire in my heart. 

From the Introduction where Liz opens by drawing us in to her experiences of severe pain you realise that everything in this book springs out of authenticity.  Liz knows the darkness of illness, of despair, of loneliness and isolation.  She’s lived through the pandemic in a shielded pod not even able to enjoy time with her immediate family and yet despite all this she has discovered the awesome truth of God with her and the deep glimpses of hope that He brings. Through her overflow of extraordinary description and expressed emotion she invites us to glimpse and take hold of that same hope for ourselves.  

As you read you find yourself on a journey through both the seasons and the Christian story.  Enter spring and the newness of life and hope and in the next breath experience the raw desolation, confusion and savage joy of Holy Week. Liz’s vivid imagination and use of language cause you to see things, pray prayers and hear God in ways you could never have thought possible.  Your eyes are opened to truth buried deep in the cracked ground and exploding with the awareness of Ruach close by creating, comforting, energising…From the end of a deeply personal lament you are suddenly in the midst of a bible story written in a wholly new way, Peter experiencing Jesus washing their feet; Mary cherishing her newborn son through the watches of the night….that particular story impacted me profoundly for as Mary gazed through the time fissure in the dirty stable wall, a fissure opened in my own heart and I heard God whisper ‘play with eternity.’  I am now on a journey to discover what that means. I know that every reader will find their own meeting place where a fissure is opened in their heart and they meet the eternal.

As a writer myself my greatest hope is always that my writing will touch others lives.  Treasure in Dark Places has touched me at the core, changed me and awoken a fire of wonder in my heart.  I recommend this work 100%.’ Tracy Williamson, Author, Speaker and co leader in MBM Trust

Liz writes beautifully, and Treasure in Dark Places weaves theologically rich poetry with prose which faithfully echoes the tradition of lament with honesty and hope. A gorgeous companion in dark times.
Rachael Newham, author of Learning to Breathe

I always find Liz’s writing engaging and challenging but also beautifully crafted—and this new book doesn’t disappoint. She weaves words so wonderfully and in a way that deeply impacts the reader; both the poetry and imaginative retellings of Bible stories have really spoken to me. I love Liz’s disarming honesty, but also her breathtaking creativity. This book will be such a valuable resource not only for individuals in their personal devotional times, but for churches throughout year—her poems for Advent, Easter week etc would make excellent additions to services.
Claire Musters, writer, speaker and editor: author of many books, including Taking Off the Mask and Every Day Insights: Disappointment and Loss

‘Hope has no place here.’ What a profound phrase that Liz uses to describe Good Friday, and yet this is the heart of the Christian story. Liz speaks beautifully, poetically and profoundly of the place that hope has in the Christian tradition, but also in her experience. In a world that accepts fake news, is fascinated by much that is trivial, how refreshing to have something that speaks of authenticity. It is authentic because Liz has experienced the ‘hope’ of Easter Sunday, the reality that ‘The Best is yet to be’, the cast iron certainty that in Jesus Christ God has done something profound and eternal. But what adds to the depth of authenticity is that Liz has that wonderful hope, but also lives in the daily reality of Good Friday. Like those heroes of the faith Joni Eareckson Tada and Jennifer Rees Larcombe she faces working out her faith in the crucible of Chronic pain and illness. She never glosses over or triavialises the pain and suffering, thankfully there is no place for platitudes or simplistic answers, but hope and authenticity shines through the pages of this delightful book.
Rev Andy Ackroyd

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