There sat the beautiful sparkly shoes I was going to wear all evening in the pile of treasures I had brought to set up for our ballroom dinner. I looked down at my feet mortified! I hadn’t realized I had forgotten to change my shoes just before the dinner. We had rented an elegant ballroom with enormous hanging chandeliers. The room was decorated beautifully, and the music was playing as guests arrived.
That morning I had slipped on my worn out, pink, lace flats I would usually wear with my jeans and a top. They were comfortable and could be worn for eight hours while I decorated the ballroom with my helpers. I had a pretty dress to wear the sparkly shoes with, but they were too uncomfortable to wear for long, so I was going to put them on when guests started arriving. It was the night of my book release dinner, and I was debuting as a first-time author. Two-hundred-fifty friends, family, and people I had never met were attending the event.
They started arriving earlier than expected and I was caught up in the joy of seeing friends I hadn’t visited in a long time. People were congratulating me with hugs and sweet words of encouragement. A special friend, Ronalee, had traveled by plane to come to the event and Vance’s Aunt Alice and Uncle Phillip had arrived at the last minute from seven hours away. My heart was overwhelmed with the love, and support people had given to Vance and me.
Alice and Phillip had been integral on our autism journey from the beginning. We would pack all our kids in our van twice a year and take them to see Aunt Alice and Uncle Phillip and their four children, for a five-day getaway. Hosting our family was an enormous task since we would bring a child with severe autism along, that woke up many times screaming throughout the night. We also had four children younger than Kyle.
The advice and encouragement Alice and Phillip gave, always left us refreshed and ready to take on the mysterious, autism giant again when we went home. It meant a lot to Vance and me that they had come to share in the joy of a couple surviving autism for twenty-seven years and living to write about it, plus celebrating the healing of our marriage.
I spent the whole year I was sick writing my novel, Beauty from Ashes. I would get up every morning and start writing at 4 am. Then I would spend the day entirely ill and be begging God for answers to this sickness that stumped doctors.
Eventually, God did answer my prayers. What we hadn’t known was our house was full of mold, due to Kyle flooding his toilet many times after he stuffed it with items he had stolen from the kitchen and living room. The flooding would go down all three levels of our house, and this had been going on for about five years. I was experiencing mold illness, and we didn’t know it at the time. When the lab results came back, we were surprised to find out we had two potentially deadly molds in our home.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but I can tell you, I am now fifteen pounds heavier and had a drastic turnaround in my health.
Do you ever wonder why you’re going through a storm you worry may kill you? You’re begging God to take you out of the tornado and life is entirely out of control? You’re wondering; God where are you and have you fallen asleep or forgotten me?
I was reminded last week of how hopeless I use to feel and how my life has changed so drastically this past year. When the kids were small, Vance worked away from home five days a week, and we only saw him on the weekends. I was in an incredible life with a child who had autism and was waking ten times every night for many years. I prayed daily for God to just throw me an ounce of hope and a rope I could grab onto before I drowned.
I began to have these dreams regularly about a tornado that was coming towards our home. I would be screaming at Vance to help me save the kids, but he always ignored me in my dreams. I would wake up just before the tornado wiped out everything I loved. I would be so mad at Vance, and it was only a dream, but at the time this was similar to what was happening in our real life. Autism was slowly killing me mentally and emotionally, and my husband wasn’t supporting me, he had turned a blind eye and deaf ear towards my pleas for help.
Last week, I dreamed Vance and me were on a plane and all of a sudden it nosedived, and we knew we were going to die. We were sitting across from each other, and I looked at Vance with terror in my eyes. He took off his belt, came and squatted down beside my seat and took my hand in his. He said to me in the calmest sweetest voice, It’s alright Cindy, I’m here with you, it’s going to be okay. Then a peace washed over me and an overwhelming love for my husband.
In my dream I was also struck by the way Vance had risked his life for me, he had given up his seat belt and the little bit of safety he did have, to come comfort his wife. I used to not trust my husband to take care of our family’s emotional needs. Now, I know there is truth in the new dream because God caused Vance to have a one-eighty and transformed him from selfish husband and neglecting father: to doting husband and devoted father.
I went from servant Cinderella, doing all the chores and work, exhausted, neglected and unappreciated: to Princess Cinderella, living in the castle with Prince Charming whom I adore. This is one of the reasons my story was named, Beauty from Ashes.
Vance still has his days where he is not the perfect husband and believe me I am far from the ideal wife, but we are blooming and growing in our new romance.
Years ago, I looked up the meaning of my name expecting something unusual like a goddess of light or bright shining star. I scrolled through all the ‘C’s’ till I came to Cindy. There sat the meaning of my name staring back at me: ashes. My bubble burst, and I slammed the book shut, my hope deflated. I hated the definition, it meant I was nothing.
I have since learned God can take nothing and turned it into something. He transformed a bitter, dead, exhausted wife and mother into a woman filled with life and hope.
Is your marriage in complete shambles and you have lost all hope of it ever becoming something beautiful again? I am here as living proof that no marriage is beyond God’s power to be able to restore it. He is the most excellent marriage counselor known to man. His book is full of advice and wisdom, which has never expired and still applies to married couples thousands of years later.
The night of the dinner after everyone was gone, I stood looking down at my dirty shoes. As I was thinking of how unprofessional I must have looked, humility washed over me. I was also underweight at the time and didn’t look much like the beautiful Cinderella you’ve seen in the Disney movie. I believe God was pleading with me:
Cindy, never forget where you came from and what I did for you.
Now, I come to you like Cinderella, with the dirty shoes, bringing you a message of hope and encouragement to bring your marriage before God every day and pray for the renewing of your lost love.
One day it may be you in a lovely gown with dirty shoes, speaking to women of what God did for you and your husband, and how he took your ashes and turned them into a beautiful love story💗
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NIV