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    by Susan McGrath

"Beauty for Ashes"
Date Posted: February 14, 2004

I love winter and snow. I've been joking with my husband recently about moving from Illinois to a place with more seasons -- like northern Minnesota! Many people hate the cold, the mess, the inconvenience of winter weather, but I have always seen it as beautiful and refreshing.

About three years ago we had a few inches of snow topped by some freezing rain. Though it made the driving a bit dangerous, as I got up that morning I noticed how beautiful the pine trees in the neighbor's yard looked as the sun shone on the ice. It was a magical winter wonderland.

But about two hours later I got a phone call from my father. He asked if I was sitting down, and told me that a young mother in our church had been killed in a car accident.(She had skidded on the ice on her way to work.)

The beauty of the day was replaced by horror. I couldn't believe something so beautiful could be so deadly. That morning my son and her youngest son were attending the same preschool class. I couldn't imagine someone having to pick up a four-year-old and tell him he no longer had a mother. I couldn't imagine the teacher being able to continue with class after hearing the news.

Though the snow and ice no longer looked beautiful that day, God's beauty was evident in the weeks to come as her family and the community tried to adjust.

Praise God that what comes from Him is always beautiful! We don't have to worry that it will turn to dust, that it will cause harm. In fact, when we have ugly or unbearable things in our lives, he will replace them with His beauty.

As Isaiah 61 says, the Lord with give us "beauty for ashes, gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a fainting spirit."

Does that mean we will never have tragedy in our lives? No. But our loving Father provides us with something overcome any obstacle -- joy, peace and grace.

As we enjoy the beauty in our world, let's remember the true beauty is not what God allows us to see with our eyes, but what we experience through His love.

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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