- Isaiah 61:1-3
The Year of the Lord’s Favor
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
I have been feeling for some time now the need to rename by blog (details about that will come at a later time)… and with the re-name… I want to have a section on my blog for “beauty for ashes” stories. You see, I have clung to Isaiah 61 for years now. There, in the middle of those words I found light when all I was able to see around me was darkness. I found strength when I was afraid. Hope when I was hopeless. Beauty when I didn’t feel so beautiful. Joy when I wasn’t very happy… in these words… Jesus has transformed my life.
My hopes in sharing “beauty for ashes” stories all began when my friend April posted on Facebook that she and her mom were on a special date this certain day as she would be donating her wedding dress to an organization called Rachel’s Gift. This is an organization who makes beautiful baby gowns for families who lose their baby and are not able to carry them home with them from the hospital. My friend and her husband had recently lost their baby girl Addison Grace and my heart was very tendered reading that she was turning what could have been and I am most certain was a times, a very dark situation and breathing light into it by donating her wedding dress so that other families facing very similar circumstances that she had just faced would have a beautiful gown for their child.
And from that simple Facebook post Jesus has stirred my heart a desire to open my blog up so that others can share their stories of beauty from ashes as inspired from Isaiah 61. I think if we open up to others and share our stories… share our hurt. our pain. our trials and triumphs… struggles… then maybe, just maybe our hurt could actually help someone else… and somehow that just might make our hurt not hurt so bad.
If we stifle our story… we lose the opportunity to help someone else who might feel all alone as they sit in the middle of a similar story. I want to share stories of loss, cancer, rehab from alcohol and drugs… captives who have been set free from slavery… people who have been delivered from panic attacks and anxiety (that story just might be mine)… and beautiful stories of adoption, weight loss and generosity. You see, all of the stories don’t have to begin with something sad… but they all end up with beauty. Ashes turned into pure beauty.
Remember the precious friend that I mentioned earlier about reading her Facebook post… and her story of donating her wedding dress inspired this section of my blog? Well… I just LOVE God and His intentional way being so involved with the tiniest details of our lives. I love how His timing truly is perfect and His ways are right…
On August 7, 2013 the Longpre family birthed and kissed their baby Addison Grace as she went home to be with Jesus. BUT one year later to the same day, their mourning has turned to joy because on this day (August 7, 2014) was the day they were able to take their brand new baby boy Mason James home with them from the hospital! God is sooooo good!!! Beauty from Ashes!
I can’t wait to share April’s story of “beauty for ashes” with you. It will be a little later on as she is somewhat busy right now loving on, nurturing, and caring for a sweet little newborn. And more than likely she is doing all of this with a huge lack of sleep! I told her that I look to see her story… well in about 18 years! 🙂
I do want to share Mrs. Carter’s story with you. (April’s sweet mom)….
For as long as I remember I always wanted children and then grandchildren. From the second I knew was going to become a grandma for the first time, I was so excited and so thankful to God for this precious baby. When I learned it was a little girl and her name was Addison Grace my mind began to swirl with thoughts of things we would to together. I found myself thinking of what kind of personality she would have and what her voice would sound like. Would she be like my daughter or my son in law? Either way I just prayed that God would take care of her and give my daughter April a good pregnancy. I also would pray that one day Addison would come to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior. The joy of seeing April holding her baby was exciting. Then on August 7, 2013 I did see April holding her baby but it was just Addison”s body for you see Addison was in the presence of God. Addison was stillborn.The whole night before as I watched April in labor was more than I could bare. I was trying to be strong but inside I was dying. I knew all the Bible verses and all the saying but it hurt so bad. The only way I got through is the power of prayer, not only from friends and family but I myself just asking God for strength. I kept singing ” Holy Spirit thou art welcome in this place”. The HARDEST prayer I prayed was a prayer of thanksgiving for the assurance that Addison was with God and thanking him that we got a chance to hold her and and see what she looked like. I thank God that we had the assurance that one day we would see her again. As a parent to watch your child go through losing her baby is by far the hardest thing I have experienced and then to lose your grandchild there are just no words. I NEVER once got mad at God I did ask why but then I have always prayed for God”s will and He reminded me to trust him. While yet there are times we don’t understand His will, God promises He will NEVER leave our side. That is so evident in good times but especially in bad times. Through this I have watched April and Brett move forward and never lose their faith in God. I continue to ask God to comfort and heal them. I will never get to bake cookies with Addison or sing songs or tell her about her mom as a child but there is one thing I will not have to tell her about and that is about the love of God. She know that love first hand. Everyday I pray thanking God that Addison is in His presence, in the best place ever and she is just fine with the One who loves her the most. Being thankful in the hard times is hard but the more you thank God the easier it gets. Today I look forward to the birth of our grandson Mason James and I know April and Brett will be great parents. I have already started praying for him to one day ask Jesus into his heart to be his Lord and Savior. Colossians 3:15: Let the peace of God rule your hearts…And be thankful. (Lillian Carter)
Thank you so much Longpre and Carter family for being transparent and allowing your story to be shared. May others be encouraged and strengthened by the strength you all have shown. If you would like more information about the ministry who makes the beautiful baby gowns… please visit http://www.rachelsgift.org/