Beauty for Ashes

One of my favorite songs from the late 90’s was performed by a Christian recording artist by the name of Crystal Lewis. The song and the album, both entitled, “Beauty for Ashes” always had a melodic way of speaking to my soul whenever I felt weary, confused or overwhelmed with the journey ahead. The lyrics, copied below, allowed me to center my anxious thoughts back to God and helped me realize that there is a reason behind every ounce of pain and fear that I will experience in this lifetime. Not only is my pain seen by God, but He finds a way to use it for the greater benefit of myself and of others.

*He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When sorrow seems to surround you
When suffering hangs heavy oer your head
Know that tomorrow brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When what you’ve done keeps you from moving on
When fear wants to make itself at home in your heart
Know that forgiveness brings
Wholeness and healing
God knows your need
Just believe what He said

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

I once was lost but God has found me
Though I was bound Ive been set free
Ive been made righteous in His sight
A display of His splendor all can see

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

This can be a very difficult lesson, especially when we are in the midst of it. Looking for the good in every circumstance is the last thing that most of us want to do while doing our best just to survive. Most of the time it’s so much easier to hold onto anger, bitterness and depression than to work to a place of peace and hope and if we want to get really crazy, even finding humor through the hurt.

As mentioned in earlier blogs, being diagnosed with cancer was not the first battle I’ve had to deal with in my 31 years. At the age of 21, I lost my best friend, Natalie Dyck…she was 22 at the time, a recent college graduate of two weeks, full of joy, love and life when she was killed in a bus crash in Tanzania while on her way to teach English to the children in an African village. At the time, her death was by far the most horrific thing I’ve ever had to face, and it took me years to manuever my way through the unpredictable twists and turns of the grieving process. This past June marked the anniversary of her death, and even though it’s been 10 years, I’m still amazed at how often I think about picking up the phone to call her only to remember with sadness that she is no longer physically with us. I’m also astounded that even though there is still a wish for her to be here with me, the devastating ache I had in my heart for all those years as a constant reminder of her absence has lessened, and mostly I think of her with fond memories and a gladness that she is now in heaven with the Lord. While I was directly in mourning; however, I never thought I would come to a place of acceptance over such a huge loss. It wasn’t until I was able to place my focus on assisting others through the pain of losing a loved one that I could finally take my eyes off my own hurt and realize that there is a great big world out there desperate for the hope that I have learned to tap into because of my relationship with God. It wasn’t until I took my eyes off of my own situation that I was able to accept that the trials I’ve encountered in my life can be used to make the world around me a better place. As cliche as that sounds, if we’re not evaluating our hurt and applying the lessons learned to help others around us, then we’ve missed a huge opportunity to turn the ashes of our charred paths into the beauty of a renewed destiny.

This week, I was so encouraged to be able to do just that…Since my diagnosis, I’ve been searching for resources about Tongue/Oral Cancer and have been perplexed at how little awareness that’s out there about this life-altering illness. While it’s just as important to get the word out about other cancers, I’m baffled by the fact that this is one of the fasting growing cancers in the younger generations and there is very little education happening in our schools, our homes, our media and through our health providers regarding this topic. I have partnered with my dentist to do whatever necessary to inform as many as possible about Oral Cancer. My dentist, Dr. Craig Johnson, put an advertistment up in Sacramento Magazine this week to educate the readers. Check it out!http://www.sacmag.com/ADS/Sunriver_Dental_Care/sunriverdental.html

The advertisement explained the dangers of Oral Cancer and also provided a link to my blog. The article explained that 1 PERSON DIES EVERY HOUR from Oral Cancer. Historically, a diagnosis of Oral Cancer was given to individuals over the age of 40 with a past of heavy tobacco and/or alcohol consumption. Currently, there is research to indicate that a diagnosis of HPV16 (Human Papilloma Virus) is now leading to Oral Cancer in the younger population…teens, young adults, women and men like me in their early 30’s. HPV is a Sexually Transmitted Disease that was originally thought to affect women by potentially causing Cervical Cancer; however, now there is evidence that acknowledges engaging in oral sex can also lead to HPV which can also lead to Oral Cancer.

Oddly enough, the doctors are still unsure as to why I even had Tongue Cancer since I’ve never smoked, was a rare drinker and there was no HPV present in my pathology report. Nonetheless, this entire experience has provided me with a passion to get the word out and hopefully spark some conversation that brings about some major change. That advertisement is the first step in sharing my story! I refuse to let the last 8 months of my life go by without using it to bring awareness about the potential consequences of harmful lifestyle choices, but more importantly I desire to share hope to those who will be diagnosed in the future. Through my own trials, I have learned that I cannot stay quiet about the peace I’ve gained, nor can I walk around with an attitude of defeat. The plain and simple truth is that I’m a SURVIVOR! I’ve faced death head on, and because of God’s grace in my life, He’s allowing me to continue on, but what I do with that second chance is going to be up to me. So really the question remains…When faced with the trials that will most definitely come, what will be your attitude while walking through the process and what will you do with the pain? Will you continue to look at your pile of ashes as dreams destroyed, or will you use the hurt to reclaim your life for one of victory…one of beauty?

(Beauty For Ashes Lyrics by Crystal Lewis are the property of the respective authors, artists and labels, Beauty For Ashes Lyrics by Crystal Lewis are provided for educational purposes only , If you like the song, please buy relative CD. ),

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Matt
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 05:53:11

    Thanks Kelli !
    Here is a link to the song on youtube.

    Reply

  2. Sally
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 06:50:51

    Sweet Kelli,
    Your journey has been so amazing, learning to trust God in the midst of pain. Again, I say to you that I am sorry for the pain you have endured. But, I am grateful to God for the lessons you are learning and the lives you will touch as you have picked up her baton. May you be strengthened and empowered as you boldly step out to minister to the breaking hearts of those you touch with the message of hope.

    Reply

  3. Jennifer Penner
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 08:27:23

    Thank you for sharing your heart.

    Reply

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