All posts in “updates”

Changing Seasons (an update and an announcement)

A long overdue update

It has been about 9 months since I last posted! I feel bad that I never officially stated that I was taking a break, so here is my long overdue update post and an announcement.

Where to begin! I moved back to the U.S a few weeks ago, after living in Mexico for several years. That in and of itself was a big change, and I’m happy to be back in California. I definitely feel like this is the beginning of a new season in my life. I would say a new “chapter” – but I think that it’s much more than that..it’s a new “part” (as in Parts in a book.) I’m officially in Part 3 of my life, which I believe is going to be the best part!

Part 1 was my many years as a worldly unbeliever. Part 2 began when I came to Christ (in 2000) and there was a long season of healing, restoration and, as Colossians 2:7 says, being firmly rooted and built up in Him. Picture a plant growing underground, that was Part 2 of my life. And Part 3 is going to be a season of fruit and abundance – the “above the ground” season, so to speak.

That is not to say that everything is wonderful or perfect right now. I have some challenges that I’m going through, but I know that God is faithful and I’m very happy for this new season and all the new things that are going on. I’m super excited about finding a good home church, joining a Christian community and making new friends. : )

I’m also doing more freelance and “personal assistant” work, through my little company, Great and Mighty Things. In addition to that, I’m still trying to finish up a couple creative projects I’ve been working on for a while, including a mini-documentary about the popular music industry, that I’ve mentioned before.

An Announcement

Now for the announcement. Since I have a lot on my plate right now, and my focus has been on other creative projects, I’m going to officially take an indefinite break from Ashes to Beauty.

Better to try to do a couple things well, than a number of things not so well.

However, I AM definitely continuing on with my other site, Faith + Testimony, and if you liked this site, I invite you to join me over there!

For the first year or so, Faith + Testimony was only for personal testimonies. However, I recently decided to expand it to include other encouraging, inspiring posts that are not testimonies, so now it’s not as limited. (Plus, now it fits more with the site name, since it’s Faith AND Testimony.)

If you are a blogger or a writer and you would like to contribute a post, please either register and submit it on the site, or you can your story.

So I’m not quitting blogging. Basically, the posts about faith that I would’ve posted here are going to be posted there, now. And as I said, it’s a place for others to contribute their testimonies, stories or encouraging and edifying posts.

Faith + Testimony

This break from Ashes to Beauty may not be permanent….as I said, it’s an indefinite break. But for now, thank you to all who read this blog, and I truly hope to see you over at Faith + Testimony!

Much love and blessings,

lily

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 4)

— 1 —

It’s funny, for the longest time I refused to get on the Pinterest bandwagon, always saying, “It looks boring… all that homemaker stuff like recipes or gardening tips.” Well, I was wrong. (See, I can admit when I’m wrong!) It’s far more than just a hub for bored homemakers. I learned recently that Pinterest is a fantastic tool for bloggers, for getting traffic to your website, for networking and meeting new people. Plus, it’s fun and very addicting! I need to be intentional about limiting my time there, but I am happy that I finally joined Pinterest.

If you’re there, follow me, and if you leave a comment here letting me know, I’ll follow you too. I have 2 Pinterest pages, one just for Ashes to Beauty, and one that’s my personal page. Here they are:

Ashes to Beauty Blog
Lily Marie

— 2 —

I had a wonderful and fun trip to the Bay Area, to visit my sister and for a (late) celebration of all the July birthdays in my family. My sister and her family have a beautiful property up in the hills, with fantastic views and lots of room for the kids to run around and play.

7 Quick Takes Friday

The kids playing at my sister’s place in Northern Cali.

7 Quick Takes Friday

My cousin’s awesome wife Jill, me, and great friend of 25+ years, Marie.

I feel VERY blessed to have such a great family and wonderful friends!

— 3 —

Even though I have a great family, I also get frustrated and sad sometimes because many of my relatives are either not Christians or not believers at all.

During the big birthday bash, I had one conversation that went downhill, and left me feeling a bit discouraged. I was sitting outside on the deck with some family and friends, and something I said hit a nerve with my uncle. We were all talking about a sad situation, and without getting into the details of the conversation, I said something about God and His power to save and turn someone’s life completely around who has hit rock bottom. He raised his voice at me, clearly angered, and told me I was wrong. He said God was not needed, medication is needed for some people. I told him that I wasn’t disagreeing about medication. It’s true that some people need medication. But I went on to say that when someone has hit rock bottom, and they are completely lost, that person needs God. (Everyone needs God, but I was speaking specifically about a person in that situation.) He was still angry about my belief, but we didn’t continue with that discussion.

Long story short, I love my family but it can be difficult at times, when there are very few people around me who have the same views. My sister is also a non-denominational, born-again Christian, and there are a few other believers in my family (albeit with some different views) so I don’t feel completely alone. It’s just that, as I said, it can be discouraging to be around people who hate my views. I’m sure some of you can relate, right?

— 4 —

I just realized, this is supposed to be 7 *quick* takes, and here I am, being rambly and long-winded. I will try to make the next few takes short!

— 5 —

Like I mentioned last week, I’m taking a Facebook hiatus. And it’s great! I highly recommend taking a break from Facebook if a) it sucks up too much of your time, b) it brings you down or c) you want to learn and be up to date on real things going on in the world. Twitter is a much better source for keeping up with headlines and what people are talking about. Facebook is good (I guess) if you only want to find out what your friends did last weekend.

As I said earlier, now I’m using Pinterest and occasionally, twitter.

— 6 —

I’m continuing to research this whole world of intentional blogging, and I’m learning so much. I have lots of plans for this site, and challenging myself to be consistent and prolific has been fun! I’m excited about all that is ahead, and I look to forward to sharing that with all of you who read my blog!

— 7 —

I am still praying about God’s will, and what His plan is, in terms of my work and where I’ll be based. I would really appreciate your prayers, and thank you to all of you who are supportive of me, you are very appreciated!

God bless, you all, and I hope you have a beautiful weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 3)

  1. As you might’ve noticed, I’m still posting everyday… I don’t even know what day I’m on now…maybe Day 20? I have, however, decided that sticking to my self-imposed challenge of daily posting for a year is not as important as the basic point – being consistent and prolific. So, for the record, my plan now is to post at least 3- 5 times a week.

    Why? I don’t want to put out rushed, poor quality posts due to the pressure to post something every single day. So if I take a couple days off a week, I’ll have more time and energy to be consistent yet still (hopefully) write posts that are thoughtful and meaningful. If I am inspired and able to post 7 times a week, I will do that, but sometimes more is not always more, so… the new schedule is 3-5 days a week.

  2. Speaking of blogging, I have to say, starting out (as an intentional blogger) can have some discouraging moments. Spending a good amount of time writing something, only to wake up the next morning to that “0 comments” line and the sound of crickets chirping. But I know that this is par for the course… It takes time and effort to build an audience, and one of the tips for bloggers that I hear most often is, “Don’t give up!”

  3. I’m in Northern California, visiting my sister and family, and having a lovely time! Here’s my nephew and their new dog, Asia, who is HUGE and like a bull in a china shop! She’s sweet though!

    georgie

  4. I decided to take a Facebook hiatus, for a few reasons. One of those reasons is just to gain some time, because FB is such a time-sucker. This break will be another test of self-discipline, which is a good thing for me!

  5. It’s kind of crazy, but a recent post I wrote about loving animals yet eating meat helped me to move a step closer to not eating meat! Well, I decided to stop eating chicken and pork. I haven’t got to beef yet. I’m not sure if I ever will stop eating beef, because I think I could switch to organic/humanely produced beef, and resolve the problem with my conscience when it comes to eating factory-farm beef. That may be difficult, because – especially where I live currently – I don’t know where I would even find “humanely-produced” beef, but I could look into that. Question to my hard-core conservative meat-loving friends – do you think I’ve gone off the deep end when it comes to this issue, or do you understand my view?

  6. In a few minutes, I’m going to see the new movie “Planes” with my niece, nephew and the whole gang. I always love going to the movies, so even though it’s a kid’s movie, it’ll be fun…but I need to wrap up this post soon, because we’re leaving in 15 minutes!!

  7. I want to thank my friends and family who have left kind comments on facebook (or in real life) about my blog and encouraging me in this new blogging adventure! It’s interesting that God, apparently, has changed my plans. My plan was to focus on freelance web design… and I will still take freelance jobs, if I feel that’s God’s will, but it really looks like God is moving me in a different direction. I will explain that in more depth later, but for now I just wanted to say…. It’s always interesting and exciting to live by faith, and to go where God takes us! Until next time, have a fantastic weekend, you all!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Stepping into a whole new world…

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been doing something I don’t usually do… blogging everyday! Well, at I least for the past week, thanks to the brilliant 7 Day challenge idea put forth by Jen over at conversiondiary.com.

The 7 days ended yesterday, but guess what? Something interesting and amazing has happened… I’ve had this crazy new desire to write, and to do it regularly! I say “crazy” because that’s not normal for me. Anyone who knows me knows that I have used this blog very sporadically over the last few years. Blogging was never a habit. I was always busy and preoccupied with other things, especially during the times I was serving full-time with YWAM.

It wasn’t just that 7 Day challenge that spurred me into this newfound desire to write. I’ll back up a bit and explain something that has been going on with me, something that has become more clear this past week.

During my last week at YWAM Mazatlan, the entire staff was invited to sit in on the W.I.S.E school, to hear a teaching that the leaders felt everyone would benefit from. The visiting speaker was Jim Anderson, and he spoke about sexuality, the cultural assault, our true design and the heart of a daughter or son of God. Two amazing things happened that week. God used Jim to bring further healing and freedom to me, which I am so thankful for. In the past 8 years, I have been receiving healing and restoration for inner wounds from my past, but it has been an ongoing process. And like the peeling of an onion, one more layer was gently peeled away, bringing me closer to the full restoration that is God’s heart for me.

The second amazing thing was that God began impressing upon me His desire for me to have courage and take off the “everything has to be perfect” mask, and to be more open about my journey so He can use me to reach others, especially young women. I have known for a long time now that God wanted to use the bad in my life for something good. That is what the title of this site is all about – God giving us beauty instead of ashes, joy for mourning, praise for heaviness! (Isaiah 61:3) So I knew God wanted to redeem my past through my willingness to share my life experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly – but the process has taken some time, so I haven’t fully stepped into that plan God has for me.

That week, the message started to become clear, and it has just gotten more and more clear. The message, over and over, especially in the last few days, has been “Be real, take off the perfection mask, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Let me use you – for what the enemy wanted to use for evil, to keep you quiet, let me use for GOOD, to help so many others who can learn from your mistakes! Wow. I hear you, God.

How does all of this tie in with blogging? Well, remember when I said I have found a new desire for writing? I’ve begun to wonder if it’s God who has given me this desire to write, so I can start sharing the parts of my story I haven’t talked about. I was so clueless about the “blogging community” that I didn’t even know who the top Christian bloggers were, and I rarely had time to read blogs regularly, other than the blogs of a few YWAM friends, who are also sporadic in their writing. But (good or bad) I’ve become a lot more interested in blogging.

So to sum this all up, God is taking me in a new direction, and asking me to be willing to trust Him enough to be take risks. And I don’t want to say no to God. I know that saying no to God means we don’t go anywhere, we stay the same. So is this a new adventure? Yep! And it should be interesting!

An unexpected birthday gift from God

For the last 5 months, I’ve been living in a very inexpensive (by American standards) but cute apartment 2 minutes from the YWAM base I serve at. However, it didn’t have A/C and as some of you know, Mazatlan gets ridiculously hot for 6 months of the year. I also couldn’t open the windows very often because there were no screens, so to avoid the mosquitos from coming in, I kept them shut. That, along with the heat and humidity caused there to be mildew, which was really gross and probably unhealthy.

A month or two ago, the 3rd floor apartment became available, and since it has A/C, window screens, along with an ocean view, I asked the landlord about it. He said it was 4000 pesos a month, which was a lot more than what I was paying for my apartment on the first floor. So I forgot about it.

Then about a week ago, my landlord showed up at the base and told me that I could have the 3rd floor apartment for the same price as my first floor apartment. I was super excited, and told him that yes, of course, I would take it… but I wanted to paint the place first, because the people who lived there before had painted it a bright green color that I didn’t like. He then said that they would paint it for me. A few days went by, and nothing happened, so when I asked my landlord about it, he said they didn’t have the money for the paint, so I would have to do that myself. I told him that I would see if I could get some paint, but since I couldn’t afford that, a couple more days went by.

Then on my birthday (Friday, November 30) the landlord showed up again at my base, and said, “We painted the apartment and it’s all ready for you, you can move in tomorrow.” I couldn’t believe it, but I was SO stoked and excited to move the following day. The landlord didn’t even know it was my birthday, so when I told him he said, “Consider it a gift for you.”

So I moved on Saturday, to my new place with air-conditioning, an awesome ocean view, and an ocean breeze that I can actually experience because there are screens on the windows. It’s also a lot nicer and cleaner than the first floor apartment, and all of this at the same exact rent! (Apartments here are amazingly cheap… one of the reasons I love living in Mexico.)

Once I was moved in, I prayed that God’s presence would be there, and that anything that wasn’t of God wouldn’t be in the apartment. I even symbolically sealed the apartment via the doors… Then a few minutes later, I heard some loud noises outside that sounded like guns or bombs going off. I looked out the window, and there just happened to be a fireworks display going on – an amazing show that filled the whole skyline. I went outside to check it out, and my friend Mayrel was there (she is temporarily staying at a studio apartment on the first floor with her mom who is visiting) and we watched the fireworks show together and took pics.

I said, “This is really special because this new place is a gift from God” and then I told her that I had just prayed over the apartment, and a few minutes later, the fireworks lit up the sky. It was just the icing on the cake, and it felt like God was confirming that this was indeed a birthday gift from above.

I wish I had a better photo, but here’s one from that night:

Thank you God, and AMEN!!!