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Beauty for a Decade’s Ashes

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.

Isaiah 61:3

I thought I understood that bible verse. Beauty for ashes. It meant getting accepted into my top school after spending the previous year being rejected from all others. It meant getting a paid reporter job after years of unpaid internships. It meant a beautiful engagement ring on the day of my 30th birthday. It meant a job with a paycheck that allowed me to pay for my own vacation. It meant the strength to walk away from the career I had built after the weight on my heart grew too heavy & having a man by my side to encourage the crazy move.

And then it happened. It.

Three cars crushed my dreams, my life, my light. That horrid Saturday night in 2016 took me from a wife to a widow. All I had were ashes. And I didn’t want to figure out how to keep going to get to the beautiful parts.

And though I took a time out from God, I’m grateful He never took time out from protecting me, loving me. God held me in my darkest moments during this decade. In the moments when I screamed at Him in disbelief, anger, hurt and fear, He pulled me tighter and guided me.

When I had given up on life, God took all my broken pieces and made a beautiful puzzle. Just like the ones I put together with my dad as a kid, the outline for this one has been set. A good chunk of the middle has been laid and I’m starting to understand the picture He has for my life.

Beauty for ashes.

Three cars crushed my dreams, my life, my light. All I had were ashes. And I didn’t want to figure out how to keep going to get to the beautiful parts.

In these last ten years, I married the man of my dreams, furthered my career, walked away from my career, was broken in two by the loss of that incredible man, and learned how to lean into God because I honestly didn’t have the strength to do anything else.

And that’s when something beautiful happened. HE gave me beauty for my ashes. He pulled open the curtains of my dark life and forced light back into my heart, my head, my eyes, my life. You don’t “get over” loss. You don’t get over losing a man like Rasheed Wiggins, but you can learn how to live with the hole in your heart — until HE makes you whole.

I’ve learned how to treasure every smile, every hug, every beautiful moment of life. I’ve learned how to take chances and capitalize on every opportunity because you may not get others. I’ve learned how to be present; truly appreciating the gift that life is for all of us with breath still in our lungs.

And I’m learning how to love again.

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A day doesn’t go by when Rasheed doesn’t pop into my head. However, a day also doesn’t go by without Darian making me smile.

I wouldn’t understand it if I wasn’t living it.

I’m learning how to treasure a love so powerful that its loss has shaped me in countless ways. I’m also learning how to dream once more and laugh again and dance on my own again AND with a new partner.

This decade shaped me in ways only God could have orchestrated.

A marriage. Widowhood. Career breaks. Walking away from it all. Starting over. Buying my first home. Life-changing trips. Learning the value of friendship. Gaining 50 pounds. Losing 40. Gaining some back…

I gave Him my brokenness, my ashes. He’s giving me nothing but love in return.

It’s time.

Time for a new decade, a new life, to build new memories and write new chapters – ones that are only possible because of the beautiful ones that came before them. Beauty for ashes… that began as beauty.

I’m carrying the love and the lessons with me. Some of the pain will always follow, but I’m working hard to embrace all of the beauty that God has recently gifted me.

2020, I’m ready to receive all you have. Let’s go!

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