beauty for ashes.

beauty-for-ashes-1so, i’ve been sharing a little bit more about my family lately but have been feeling like you need to hear the whole story…  how our family began.

there was a time in my life when a big family with a loving husband seemed like a long lost dream.  not even a possibility.  as in never.  going.  to.  happen.

you see….  i got pregnant with ozzie at the age of 20 and the situation was not good.  like a train wreck waiting to happen.  my life (and dreams) unravelled right before my eyes as i got ready to welcome my sweet son into the world.  those nine months and the year that followed consisted of a marriage that was broken before it started, the discovery of another child (not by me, of course), lies, poverty, and a husband struggling with addiction, and abuse.

jack's-3rd-birthday-party-invites-167when i finally mustered up enough courage to leave my marriage and be a single mom to the cutie above in orange stripes, i was completely broken.  a mere shadow of the woman God had created me to be.

then, one evening in september i read these words:

“to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes….” (isaiah 61 – here is a link to read the entire scripture)

like white on rice those words stuck to my heart.  oh how i needed beauty.  and a crown didn’t sound too bad either.  so i pondered and questioned and wondered until finally i flat out said, “jesus, if those words are true then take my ashes and make them beautiful.”

at the time, beauty to me looked more like  talking the utilities guy out of turning off our heat, an understanding professor, and a son that would be OK, despite the circumstances.

but God had more in mind.  including a fun-loving young man in a mascot suit….


who i now get to call my husband.

about us the friis famand three more (beautiful) babes.

although the changes began immediately it was not an overnight process.  there was an in-between time that consisted of  lots of praying and committing and healing and some mess-ups and overcoming and many, many blessings.  even when circumstances looked bad, i could watch my well adjusted, joy filled little boy and know God was at work.  it would be more than OK.

one of the first tangible things that happened was that i got a paid internship with the athletic marketing office at school.  this is a miracle on many levels.  for one, a paid internship at a university is almost unheard of unless you are a grad student.  second, it was with athletics and i love that stuff. and third, i was able to have ozzie with me when i worked at games and it quickly became a little family for us.

i could continue with more examples, but i’m afraid this post would turn into a book!

so i will end with a cliche and say that i wouldn’t change a thing (well, maybe a couple things) because it’s made me who i am and brought me to a beautiful place.  but i would also like to note that i don’t believe this was God’s plan.  there was certainly a better way, but He used it for good all the same.

one of my greatest hopes after writing this is that you would look past me on this site and see Him.  His beauty and creativity and goodness.

beauty-for-ashes-print-2i also hope that one way or another my story encourages you or someone you know and as a little reminder i designed an art print using the crown seen at the top of this post to share.  you can click here or the image to download.

i would love for this to be a conversation, so please feel free to leave a note below or send me an email (

xo . rae
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17 Responses to beauty for ashes.

  1. aimee November 29, 2013 at #

    email coming at you soon rae.. thank you for sharing this. it was needed today.

  2. Amy Ehmann December 2, 2013 at #

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful story. I’m always encouraged to see talented people not afraid to share their faith. It is amazing what God’s grace can do in a life. Blessings to you and your family.

    • rae December 2, 2013 at #

      your note is equally encouraging… thanks amy!

    • Barb February 6, 2015 at #

      Thank you for openly sharing your “missteps” along your journey. I echo Amy E.’s remarks as well. Will frame your “Beauty to Ashes” image and hang in our church office. Like very much! Blessings, bw

  3. amy April 7, 2014 at #

    what a great story. i love how you say “i don’t believe this was God’s plan” . that really resonated with me. my brother died of cancer and i got really tired of people saying it was God’s will. i don’t believe that was God’s plan for my brother’s life and let’s just say i don’t believe we should cure illness with poison. but i’m getting a bit heated here.

    you are inspiring!


  4. Meg April 29, 2014 at #

    I love this story! It’s so cool reading how God orchestrates our lives! Just wanted to say hi too, I’m a sort of new follower and felt like it was time to stop silently stalking! Ha!

    • rae April 29, 2014 at #

      hello friend! welcome…. so happy you said hello :) Xx, rae

  5. hannah November 14, 2014 at #

    hey there, rae

    i stumbled across your blog when i came across your hand warmer DIY on pinterest & so happy that i did indeed.

    this post was so lovely, i really needed to hear it today, you have a new follower. xo

  6. Katrina Kubo February 24, 2015 at #

    Please tell me there are more posts about your story on the blog… I can’t find them!
    I am a new reader, found you through Emily’s blog and love your work. Just stumbled on this post and would love to know more of the blessings and providence!
    Also, I’m a fellow seattlelite! Living in central Seattle but moving to Kirkland soon. If you and Emily ever feel like hosting a blogger, design -lovers, girls meet up I would SOO be there!!!!

    Thanks for sharing xo

  7. Lauren October 6, 2015 at #

    Rae Ann,

    I was searching Pinterest for a printable of this verse. And God, in his wonderful mystery, led me to your blog. You see, my story is incredibly similar to yours. Beauty from ashes is the word God gave to me when I became pregnant at age 22. I have clung to this scripture for years. It’s become my life verse. I am so thankful that you shared your story. What an awesome God we serve! Best to you and your family!

  8. Suzie October 28, 2016 at #

    Hi Rae,
    Thank you so much for sharing about your faith and life journey! I am always so encouraged when I come across a crafty blog and the blogger turns out to share my trust in Jesus :) it’s amazing how often it happens!
    God bless you and your family, I pray you would continue to trust God’s plan for you
    Suze xxx

  9. April V January 25, 2017 at #

    I ♥ this. It’s crazy how close it parallels my life.

    …thank you for these words.


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