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Beauty from Ashes

Let me introduce myself, my name is Carmen Reyes, I’m 35 years old and I live in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy life with my wonderful husband of 15 years, David and my two beautiful children. We share a journey that I wouldn’t change for anything in the world. We have served God together for over 15 years, and more recently the Lord has birthed in us a ministry called Ancla de Mi Fe; using my husbands music as a gateway to spread God’s message of faith, hope and love. For about 4 years, we have been planting roots at our beloved church, Centro Internacional Aliento. Beauty from ashes. It is difficult to see that something beautiful can come from ashes, that there can be sunshine after the rain, that a rainbow can appear and have meaning. When we are going through life’s hardship, experiencing difficult times, we only see the difficulty of our circumstance. We become defeated, depressed, hurt, bitter, angry, aggressive, and so many other things. Not knowing how long it’s going to be before we can look back at our situation and say “I’m glad that’s over”, living healed and set free from those experiences that wounded us. Have you ever said, “I just want to be able to talk about this without feeling pain.”? “But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.” Isaiah 43:1-3 NLT In Isaiah 43:1-3, we read that in this life we will endure hardship. Still, the Lord says that we are His and He will be with us. Belonging to Him doesn’t exclude us from encountering life’s difficulties. I am here to testify of God’s goodness and share that through deep waters, God was with me. Through rivers of difficulty, I did not drown. Through fire, I did not burn up, for God was with me. No matter where your ashes may have come from, there is hope for healing. One of my biggest testimonies to this day starts back almost 15 years ago, the joy of motherhood. Two months into being newlyweds my husband and I were expecting our first baby. To our surprise, our daughter Shayla Raquel, was born at only 25 weeks weighing 1 lb. 11 oz. in March 2003. She was 4 months premature, with very little chances of surviving, the doctors were preparing us for the worst case. Her survival, they said, would come at a very high price. According to the doctors, she would endure many health issues- weak lungs, hearing and vision difficulties, and learning disabilities. These four months were an emotional roller coaster for us. One day, Shayla was making progress, and the next day she was taking steps backwards. It was a surreal experience. But after a very difficult 4 months in the hospital, we got to take our baby home. Shayla is as healthy as can be. With no health issues whatsoever, she is indeed a constant reminder of the power of God! We are eternally grateful to God for the miracle that she is to us. She turns 15 this March, praise God! This difficult situation brought my husband and I to our knees, believing for a miracle. Nonetheless it was my own personal test of faith, not my parents, not one I read about in the word, but my own. Forward a few years, in 2007 we received the news of our second child. This news was exciting, yet it came with a lot of fear. As the doctors had warned us that any pregnancy to come would come with difficulties because of my previous premature labor. Sadly about 12 weeks into the pregnancy, I miscarried and had my first angel baby. It was a hard and difficult process to understand, yet we managed to make peace with our loss and we got through it. The following year in 2008 we found out we were pregnant again with our third child. Again excited yet scared, we were unsure of the outcome. Sadly only 8 weeks into this pregnancy, I miscarried and had my second angel baby. Talk about an emotional roller coaster! I mean should I be happy or scared, I couldn’t handle being both anymore. I thought to myself, what was the purpose of joy when it was gonna be taken away in a few months? We wanted a big family, my husband and I both come from big families, and so we always desired it. You never really consider the obstacles until things aren’t going as planned. I mean who would of known having a baby would be this difficult? It’s times like this that our faith gets tested and our trust in God is tested. It was a moment of turning to Him for rest and healing. The emotions were too much to handle on my own. There was nothing anyone could say or do for me. When everything is going right it is easy to trust and believe. But I understood quickly that my faith was being tested again. I made a decision to trust God and believe that He was in control. There was an explanation, but even that sometimes isn’t enough. It doesn’t bring the comfort you want to hear. Only God would be the one to do that. The following year in 2009, we received the exciting yet scary news that we were expecting our fourth child. The doctors were already suggesting to abort the baby, based on my previous pregnancies. We refused to accept the report of the doctors, “another miscarriage is on its way.” We chose to trust God, whatever His plan was for this pregnancy we were going to see it through, without intervening. It was a difficult 9 months, with 2 scares of going into premature labor, 4 months of complete bed rest, and living in the hospital. After a long awaited time, we had our healthy baby boy, David Matthias. I don’t know how many of you have ever heard the term rainbow baby. It’s a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. Well he was definitely our rainbow baby! He is the joy our home longed for, the child we prayed for. God had blessed our home with two miracles. He took two and entrusted us with two. And though I may never understand completely why He wanted it that way, I made peace with knowing His ways are better and He was in control of things. I share my journey with you today to encourage you and help you find peace in God’s plan for your life. Sometimes we don’t understand His plans, but that doesn’t stop Him from being good. His word teaches us time and time again that He is with us. I encourage you to put all of your trust in Him, find peace in the midst of your storm and understand that He is there with you. You don’t go alone, unless you choose to. Allow Him to make beauty from your ashes. His word will sustain you, His Holy Spirit will remind you of it, all you need to do is seek and believe. He will be glorified through our difficulties and through our hard times. Our trials are not in vain, but for His honor and glory. “He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:2-3 NLT Love, Carmen Reyes

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