Beauty From Ashes

I promised myself I wouldn’t make one of these New Year’s/Decade posts. Let’s face it — they’re tired. Every blogger and their brother is writing one of these reflection/look-at-my-life kind of posts, and so I didn’t want to jump on that bandwagon.

But this morning, I was scrolling through old photos, and came upon a photo from 2010 that really put this entire decade into perspective for me.

And it left such an impression, that I just had to share it with you guys.

The photo I’m referring to is this one:

*Sigh* – I see this photo, and I’m literally taken right back to that place. I can smell the hospital. I can hear the beeps from the monitors, and feel how cold and sterile everything felt. And also — how, behind that smile, I was terrified, exhausted, and completely out of hope.

This photo was when I was at the peak of my ulcerative colitis flare. I had been on bedrest for 9 months at this point, and my body had rejected every medication to kick me out of that flare.

It was just a few days after this photo was taken that I adopted the Specific Carb Diet, which truly was a God-send. My naturopath recommended this radical, therapeutic diet, and it changed my life — healed me from the Ulcerative Colitis, and has allowed me to be medication free and in remission for the last 9 years.

Seeing this photo today, brought this whole decade full circle for me.

Because it was through that very trial, that I have learned the most valuable lesson of my entire life:

Let God create beauty from ashes.

There’s a popular Christian saying that goes, “God will use all things for good.” And hear me when I say, that is absolutely true. But people (myself included) will say this at the most dimwitted times. I mean, I know people’s hearts are in the right place, but that’s not what you want to hear when you’re grieving, or going through a trial, or despair, or hard times.

But, having gone through my fair share of trials (anorexia, ulcerative colitis, my mom’s stroke, etc.) I’d like to offer a different perspective on this classic Christian cliche.

Let God create beauty from ashes.

You see, bitterness is a very easy trap to fall into. When we live through such devastating seasons of life, becoming resentful to God, or adopting a spirit of anger or pessimism can be a natural response.

The “Why Me?” “Why Now?” “Screw This,” mindset can – admittedly – feel good. You go through something traumatic — getting mad about it feels like vindication.

But the thing is, if we dwell in that negative space, it creates a nearly impenetrable barrier for God to reach us.

During my flare, as the months passed, and nothing was working — by the literal grace of God, I realized that I had to surrender all of those negative emotions I felt slipping into my heart, over to God. The fear, the anger, the hopelessness, the frustration — I had to hand it all over to Him, to transform.

I had to allow Him to create beauty from ashes.

By clenching my hands in a fist, and remaining in a negative space, I wasn’t giving God the opportunity to transform my heart. Because I was, unintentionally, withholding it from Him.

If this decade has been one thing, it’s been the gradual and transformative process of God making beauty from the pile of ashes that was my life, captured in that photo.

For, from that hardship – I learned to truly take care of myself — mind, body and spirit. I kicked an exercise addiction, and truly rooted out every last lingering leftover from my anorexia. I learned how to advocate for myself and for my health. I learned how to cook, and started my blogging journey that has led me to where I am today.

God completely turned my situation around.

But I had to let Him.

I had to give Him my life to shape, and transform, and renew.

It is an incredible act of faith and trust to relinquish control, especially when it comes to your own life. And granted, when I did so, I had nowhere else to turn, but Up.

But it has been the theme of this past decade, and boy – what a beautiful ride it has been as a result. One that I could not be more grateful for.

Whenever I find myself stressing or caught up in anxiety from decisions or whatnot, I always try to remind myself just how good things are, when we give out situation entirely over to the One who creates beauty from ashes.

Afterall, He is in the business of miracles.

Happy New Year, Happy New Decade, my friends.



“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

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160 responses to “Beauty From Ashes”

  1. Gratitude.
    Being grateful for the pain and the chance to grow from it – that’s the path God can give you/us as His utmost trust and love.

    Be Blessed and Wise!

  2. WOW! Let God create beauty from ashes. Well done on revamping a cliché!! It’s a good reminder, as I’m always trying to figure things out myself instead of looking toward the future in faith. What a journey you’ve had!

    OK – I feel a Dad Joke coming on. I guess you could say you got your ashes in gear and onto the Beauty highway. Aaaand, the crowd goes wild…for the exits.

    • Thank you Jeff 🙂 looking with faith – I love that. Because it’s so true! Faith is a powerful lens through which to view the world! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha oh my gosh that joke. AMAZING. I can always ALWAYS count on you for a laugh, Jeff. Thank you!! Happy new year my friend. Hugs to you and your girls! Xox

  3. It’s been a rough two days. I really needed to hear that. I’ll be processing that for a while. Thank you, so much, Friend! 😊💛

  4. Good for you. I like how you talk about giving up control and negativity. Awesome example of SURRENDERING to allow God space. I’d say this was worth reflecting and writing about for you, what a transformation. Romans 12:2 😉

    • thank you friend. Yes! Allow God space! i’ll have to look up that verse 🙂 Happy New Year! 🎉

  5. Nice post, it reminded me of my own time of suffering in the hospital. However in my perspective there was actually “beauty in your ashes” you just couldn’t see it at hand due to present pain. All parts of our-self we feel as worn out etc are beautiful to the eyes of god.

      • A thought for this new year and decade for all followers of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is are we truly on bent knee before Him in all we do and just how humble is humble when it comes to serving Him alone, not any power or principality or even ourselves. This is why I started off questioning again the actions of the current Pope. Many opposing forces are working in earnest to disrupt, distract, confuse, mislead to lead astray and betray the Lord’s own; yes especially His very elector chosen in this time of unprecedented calamity throughout. These concerns are worth pondering in most humble supplication or most devout prayer. Big Hugs. Peace.

      • Some post comment additional thought here Caralyn, that I was working on elsewhere but realized it fits here too!
        I think somewhere way in the past long before I was born there was a time when it was easier and simpler to focus on the essential and yes even spiritual but now we all get cluttered in our minds and lives around us with so much hurry and get this done or get here or there and almost becoming non-human and more machine in that we are buzzing away getting nowhere fast at all. Enlightenment doesn’t come this way, no, no it becomes suppressed and muted, which is what got me to thinking about how more people should awaken to this fact!
        Let’s hang in there and try better to still live like we mean it and are part of this jumbled up contrived world the best we can but set time aside day to day and even moment to moment to recognize that God is everywhere and always has been but we need to pay attention to Him through His Holy Spirit being manifested in our lives regardless of how hard we may try to stick our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich or bury our inner mind with a flurry of stuff to do and growing numb minded in the process so we need to remain vigilant and of heart; not closing our minds but by connecting them through the heart to the Holy Spirit and let Him lead the way and keep our attention on what really matters in all we do, so that we really live in the moment and are enriched with more enlightenment and not extinguished or turned off in our “desire to know Him better and do His will” in the moment to moment fulfillment of the daily process of living on earth..
        Love in Christ Jesus. 💛

  6. Caralyn, I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing your story from a new perspective. How beautiful! And I love that you take the verse in Romans and clarify. Romans 8:28 states this God changing good can only happen when we choose to love him and thereby yield all to his grace and wisdom. But what gifts are given when we do! Blessings in your New Year. I’m grateful you chose to do a “Decade in review” for us.

  7. Let God create beauty from ashes. Very powerful. It also reminds me of the popular Ash Wednesday song “We Rise Again from Ashes.” Yes indeed.

    Happy New Year Caralyn!!!

    • Hey Rob! aw, thank you so much. Gosh, I am so touched that you would share them with your daughters!!! oh neat – i can’t wait to check out your post! thanks for passing it along! 🙂 Happy New Year! 🎉

    • oh awesome! i can’t wait to check it out!! and thanks for the link! hugs and Happy New Year! 🎉

  8. Just imagine how hard it was for God the Father to have given human kind the power of choice such a wonderful gift if used rightly and so devastating when used wrongly. Sometimes earthly parents may reject their child if they make wrong choices, hard to believe but it happens. But God never gives up on us and when we are ready to see things His way He empowers us to get out of the mess we’ve inflicted on self. But every act we take of self harm does have consequences which He doesn’t inflict on us but is a natural consequence of our own actions. What an awesome God we serve! Obviously He read your heart and saw you wanted the kind of lifestyle He promotes for the good of the universe and your willingness to let Him help you bought you this far. You bless others because of your sad experience. Keep walking the talk, you are an inspiration 🙂

    • You’re so right about that. wow what a powerful thought, Ian. Amen to that! He is always at work, and forming us into the people He has planned for us to be! thanks for the encouraging words! Happy New Year! 🎉 hugs xo

  9. What a beautiful New Year’s post! I had no idea just how hard your struggles were, but I love what you do with that saying. Adding the “Let” in that sentence makes all the difference. There does indeed come a time when we just have to let God get us through our trials, rather than blame him for the trials in the first place. Thanks for sharing this….

    • Thank you so much Ann!! You’re right about that — there comes that point. He’s always at work, and forming us, and protecting us and guiding us. The best thing to do is just surrender and let Him take the wheel! Happy New Year! 🎉 and hugs xox

  10. Thanks for sharing. I too have been bitter and resentful of some of the things that happened in 2019, but I too have to make the same decision: will I be bitter or better? Just the difference of one letter… Xoxox

    • thanks so much for sharing your heart. bitter or better — wow i love that. one letter, world of difference. Happy New Year! 🎉

    • oh gosh thank you Maha, I appreciate that encouragment. So glad you stopped by! hugs and Happy New Year! 🎉

  11. Lovely post, Carolyn! I’m so happy for the beauty you’ve allowed Him to create, and the way you share your journey so vulnerably with others. Cheers to another amazing decade! May we ever grow in grace. xox

    • THank you so much Anna! you’re so kind to say that. i am very touched. And same to you!! hugs and Happy New Year! 🎉

  12. your blog is always a reminder, a reinforcement of the miracle of life, I struggle to remember to find it every day, even if it is my face, everyday, it is the actual common, the life wins, but so easily we fall under the waves of the ordinary life things that matter not, life is astounding, life is amazing, I really have a hard time using that as my pillar, so thanks, for the reminder, it should ground us all, and I suppose that is why I stumbled upon you blog.

    • Thank you so much David, what a kind thing to say. You’re so right about that — life IS amazing. So glad this resonated with you. hugs and Happy New Year! 🎉

    • aw thank you so much Strawberry 🙂 I’m so touched to hear that. hugs and Happy New Year! 🎉

  13. Powerful way to see 2020
    God’s beauty for ashes is so dynamic, so transformational, and so encompassing everything in our lives. Your words are a testimony of His ongoing work in the lives of God’s people.
    Thank you

    • Thank you so much Todd! you’re so right about that — God is so generous with His grace. I appreciate you! hugs and Happy New Year! 🎉

  14. The ABSOLUTE truth and nothing but the truth……..

    “I realized that I had to surrender all of those negative emotions I felt slipping into my heart, over to God. The fear, the anger, the hopelessness, the frustration — I had to hand it all over to Him, to transform. I had to allow Him to create beauty from ashes.”

    Blessings Caralyn!!!!!!!!

    • awww thank you so much!!!! yes!! He is always there to take the wheel and transform us!!! 🙂 hugs and Happy New Year! 🎉

    • Thank you so much JR! Oh yes!!! As they say, no pressure, no diamonds! i appreciate you stopping by! hugs and Happy New Year! 🎉

    • Oh gosh you’re kind to say that. God is good and I’m grateful for His healing power in my life!! Hope you’re having a wonderful start to 2020! Happy New Year! 🎉

  15. Your vision was becoming more focused in 2010 and not at all too early. Now we are here in 20/20 with your vision more clear that one could imagine. I will look forward to each and every article you post. You are the Beacon to many young ladies. I feel that you are so special and find comfort in the arms of Our Creator. Peace and Love this new year, and decade. Love you.

  16. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. Thank you so much for your transparency and for sharing your story. Glory be to God for creating beauty from ashes – He is truly deserving of our praise.

    • Hi Tausha! Oh thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed the piece! Amen to that – He really is deserving of all our praise! Happy New Year! 🎉

    • Aw thank you Faith I’m so glad it resonated with you!! I appreciate the encouragement! Hugs and love xox

    • Thank you so much friend for sharing your story. I’m sorry that you’re battling those. I’ll be keeping you in my prayers!! Hugs and love xox

  17. How beautifully written:

    God completely turned my situation around.
    But I had to let Him.

    God saves us: spiritually yes, but also as we muddle through this earthly existence. And when we look back, our triumph was all on God’s power, we just let Him…

  18. Your life is truly a testimony of God’s great love and wonderful miracles. May your life continue to draw others to Him! We each have our own stories to share about His amazing works in and through our lives and I’m happy to have heard/read about yours! Blessings, sister! 😊

    • Oh my gosh what a kind thing to say. Thank you so much. Amen to that! His works are amazing!! Happy New Year! 🎉

    • Thank you so much 🙂 you’re right about that – we all have a story!! God is good 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  19. You’re phrase in Aramaic. ‘lh rmn, tmh, yqd, špyr. Beauty, is hard to translate to a person. A person, becomes or is becoming but not like how we over exaggerate everything as awesome and beautiful in English. To invoke God in Aramaic is well, feels reverent. Haven’t done this since the military so it’s like, “Merciful God, amazes, ash becomes beautiful.” The syntax, is different but for a quick translation its not bad.

  20. Another beautiful post! I love your blog and your positivity and faith.
    Your words are so true. Surrendering yourself to God is liberating and comforting at the same time. He is in the driving seat and I pray that He uses me for His glory.
    And how wonderfully inspirational your work is, because of what He is giving you.
    Well done on your honesty and thank you!
    Happy New Year! Xxx

    • Thank you so much Jeff!!! I appreciate that! Haha for hoodie hugs 🙂 hehe Hugs and love xox

  21. Cheers to 2019-2020-eternity. The Alpha and Omega are not end points. Sorry, I disappeared for some time. Being more of a hermit that usual… not even much time to write on wordpress… And, I cleaned my computer of cookies, so could not find lots of stuff. I have your blog bookmarked this time. – Oscar

    • Thanks for this Oscar! No worries, we all go through seasons 🙂 glad to see your name pop up! Happy New Year! 🎉 xox

  22. Beautiful Carolyn. Once again your words have helped me. Your recovery is so inspired and today your words have rejuvenated me, as I sit here in my bushfire – ravaged homeland, pondering the meandering route my life has taken. Perhaps I too can create beauty from the ashes. No doubt Australia too will rise like a phoenix from the ashes and smoke.

    • aww, thank you so much for saying that, i’m so glad this resonated with you. oh my gosh — i am just so heartbroken about Australia, and am so sorry that you’re going through that. i have been praying for your homeland nonstop. it is so devastating. yes — like a phoenix! Hugs and love xox

  23. I’ve been thinking lately about how sometimes I need the perspective of time to see that some of my hardest trials are God’s tender mercy acting in my life. Those trials have led me to find priceless blessings and gifts that I could not have gotten any other way. Your post shows this very thing in such a beautiful way. “Let God create beauty from ashes.” Thank you for that!

    • Thank you so much Heather! THis is a beautiful response. Amen — blessings no other way!! big hugs to you! Happy New Year! 🎉

  24. I simply, and truly love your testimony Caralyn. It makes me sad thinking of you going through the fire. Your descriptive, poignant, bottom line, full on truth writing style is over the top. I am thankful to God for placing his healing hand upon you.

    – May we never tire of doing what is good and right before our Lord because in His season we shall bring in a great harvest if we can just persist. Galatians 6:9 The Voice (VOICE) –

    Crohn’s – March 1998 at 150 lbs, low weight May 1998 118 lbs

    • Thank you so much Dan, wow what a kind thing to say. Amen – I am so grateful to God too!! 😉 amen! And thank you for sharing your story! hugs xox

      • I am so thankful that you came to the realization of giving everything to the Lord’s hands and then truly seeing how generous He is, helping you find the abundant life you probably desired and the one He was pleased to give you!

      • Thank you Brittney 💛 God is so good and I’m incredibly grateful for his healing power in my life! Hugs and love xox

  25. Enjoyed reading part of your journey. Many beautiful things are made by being put through tempered tests. Glad to see your heart and spirit clearly have come out stronger, brighter, and with much greater joy and life after yours.
    – TJ

    • Thank you so much TJ! I’m so glad this struck a chord with you. Tempered tests – so true. Hugs and love xox

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