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jackie aviles 

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jackie aviles

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Beauty for Ashes

I'm Jackie!

Through the years, It has been my joy to write words that have captured the essence of hope in suffering. That have encouraged countless people to boldly face their seasons of struggle.


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Video Testimony Of beauty for Ashes

As I sat with my hubby, awaiting some blood work results, I noticed a beautiful woman in front of me. I could tell she had cancer and had been fighting a longer battle than I had. Her pale skin looked so pretty, like a porcelain doll. I could tell she had lost her hair but kept that reality hidden beneath synthetic red locks. For a split second, we made eye contact. I smiled, but her reaction was a bit startled, as if her breath was taken away. I quickly turned my head away, but I was so intrigued that I continued to looked at her with my peripheral vision. That’s when I saw her fanning herself with a magazine, trying to hold back tears.

At that moment, the coffee machine broke and Emilio went to go help one of the ladies there. The woman and I were alone now, and I guess in that moment, she felt comfortable to speak to me.

She leans forward to me, and I to her. Her tears are flowing freely, and she’s trying to get the words out, but she just continues to cry.

I kindly say to her, “Ma’am can I pray for you? What is wrong?”

She doesn’t respond, so I ask her, “Why are you crying?”

Catching her breath, she finally responds:

  “I’m crying because you are the girl from the blog. You are an inspiration. I have been following your blogs since day one and I cannot believe I have the blessing of meeting you today.”

I couldn’t believe it! A complete stranger came across my blog and had now crossed paths of life with me!

This was the most encouraging thing ever!

We got to talking and created a bond as if we had known each other for years.

I remember her expressing to me all the insecurities cancer had brought upon her life. I listened to her pour her burdened heart out to me:

“I can’t look at myself.”

“My mirrors are all covered at home.”

“I feel so ugly.”

“I’ve pushed everyone away.”

“Why did My cancer come back”

The more I listened to her, the more I saw we had more in common than I would have ever thought.

You see it’s funny because I felt the same way as her – I just did a really good job hiding it.

I used to look into the mirror and desire long, luscious, straight hair – now I have none.

“If only I were just 10 pounds thinner,” I thought – now I’m losing weight due to this disease.

If I only had larger breasts – soon I will be having surgery to remove mine.

Why can’t I just have tanned skin. -unfortunately, now I’m not allowed in the sun due to chemotherapy.

This is my reality.

I’m laying in the ashes of life, and I’m being slowly buried in it by my insecurities.

Everything this women was feeling I had also been feeling.

I knew I had to speak truth to her, but doing that was so hard.

I began, telling her how beautiful she was. How she was created in God’s image. How she was worth far more than rubies. How God sees her heart and not what’s on the exterior. How she wasn’t alone and God had a great plan for her life.

I quoted this scripture to her:

Psalm 139

“14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a] Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

As I whispered those promises to her, right there in the eerie silence of the waiting room, it was as if the Holy Spirit whispered them right back to me.

I had to ask myself: Do I know this very well?

You see, the understanding of us being physically beautiful comes from our SOULS FULLY knowing that WE WERE CREATED BY GOD.

That’s when I realized my encounter with this woman wasn’t just a mere coincidence.

It was a divine appointment – a moment orchestrated by God.

Our conversation was so edifying, uplifting, and eye opening. Most importantly, it was convicting.

God doesn’t make junk.

 It helped me look past my outward appearance for just a moment and marvel at the truths of God’s word.

It helped me stop nailing Jesus on the cross daily for what he had already died for: ME.

From a despaired heart to a heart of praise. From the sadness of my insecurities to the joy in our Heavenly Father, ultimately glorifying God in all of HIS Splendor!

Most importantly, it removed my crown of ashes and turned it into a crown of beauty.

Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)

To provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness 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.

God is the ONLY ONE that can give you beauty for ashes. Who else would want to make that exchange? Who else would take my cancer? Who else would take your burden? Who else would take your situation without thinking twice?

No one – except God!

God knew you would be burned by life’s experiences and insecurities. But he also knew he could replace that burned mess with something beautiful.

“ANA!”

Her name rang out in the room as her turn was called.

Standing quickly and gathering her things, she said to me, “Today, I had a breakthrough. Thank you. I feel so free.”

I waved goodbye as she walked into the doctor’s office and said, “I love you Ana. God loves you. And you are beautiful.”

Isaiah 64:8

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Underneath those freckles you may not like, beneath your wish that your nose were longer or shorter, or that your ears didn’t stick out. Or that you had Hazel green eyes instead of the ones you were born with…

You are not alone when you worry that you are too thin or too fat, or that your hair is too coarse. Or the slightly slanted smile you just can’t stand. The dark circles. The scars and marks that life has left on your body. You who can’t look into the mirror because you feel ugly and embarrassed by the way you physically look.

Underneath it all, there is still the image of God.

Physically, each cell, each atom, each vessel – your interior – was created and crafted by the master pottery maker.

God makes no mistake! You are not discarded matter.

And spiritually, you are not left alone to lay in the ashes of your life.

Those who constantly hide their tears so that your smile can be perceived as strength…

Those who feel abandoned by God or don’t quite understand why your going through such a terrible time in life…

Those of you who have no one with them during the storms of life..

There is beauty waiting to be revealed.

Know that you are beautiful.

Know that you are not alone because God is carrying you.

And know that there’s strength in vulnerability.

The next words that came out of my mouth were directed straight to God.

“Forgive me.”

It dawned on me how many times I criticized the work of Gods hands every time I looked in the mirror. How many times I said things to myself that he would never say to me. How many times I desired what another woman had or looked like due to an ungrateful and insecure heart. I also saw how much grace and mercy he had shown over my life since my diagnosis.

You see, Having cancer has been so tough. This experience has brought doubt at times.

Yet I realized God had been trying to make an exchange for such a long time.

From physical to spiritual beauty.

What if we saw ourselves like Jesus does?

As someone worth talking to.

Worth giving grace to.

Worth dying for.

Worth rescuing.

Beautiful.

Jesus promises an exchange.

Lostness for foundness.

Brokenness into wholeness

Sin and separation from God into forgiveness and connection.

Emptiness for the love and grace that only HE can give.

Strength in your weaknesses.

Sin for salvation.

Death for life.

Beauty for ashes.

Psalm 139:17-24

“Truly, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. How grateful we are to know the Creator—through His Son, Jesus Christ—and to marvel not only at His knowledge but also at His love.”

This is the truth of the God I serve. This is the truth that brings life and this is the truth that sets you free! Embrace the arms of God today and be ok with that exchange as he lifts you up out of the ashes.

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