Beauty for ashes


Well, well.  Happy new year, all.  And just in time – I’ve never needed a new year so badly.  I was so ready to drop-kick 2011 Beckham-style out the door and usher in 2012, fresh, hopeful, and, as of yet, untainted.  Hallelujah and amen.

You may be wondering what life has looked like since I last blogged 9 days ago.  Or maybe you’re not (likely).  Regardless, YOU ARE GOING TO KNOW.

I wrapped up my job at Emma.
I flew from Nashville to Kansas City.
I snuggled my nephews.
I read four books in seven days:
– “One Day
– “Room” (the best book I read all year)
– “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
– “Incendiary
I ate so much cheese.
I slept full nights.
I played Dance Central on the X-Box.
We made it through the first “divorced Christmas.”
Things were awkward and sometimes painful.
But we did it.
And I love my family for it.
I drove from Kansas City back to Denver with Becca.
And Greebs and Toad.
Every day I declare war against dog hair.
I bought and assembled one of these.
Zion’s adoption was made official.
He is irrevocably a Parsons.
He is the best thing that happened in 2011.
I spent multiple days cleaning and organizing our home.
Four different sets of friends got engaged (including Greta, OMG!).
I got a new phone number.
And I start my new job on Tuesday.

I rolled into the new year a burning train wreck, having spent a solid two hours of December 31st on my bed in uncontrollable tears before pulling myself up by my bootstraps, throwing my body into the shower, and willing myself to go to a few parties.  It’s been awhile since I’ve cried so hard – the honest, gasping kind of tears, the sort that leave your eyes stinging and your entire face swollen.  2011 was a kick in the gut, to say the least – and a good, long cry seemed the most appropriate way to mourn what went down, and bid the year adieu.  With a bold middle finger.

But as I stared at my puffy, snotty countenance in the mirror, wondering how I was ever going to recover enough to show my face at these parties, I remembered the part in the Bible about how those who grieve are given beauty for their ashes, and joy for their mourning, and peace for their despair.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m not one to go slinging around scripture insensitively – especially when it comes to the big, weighty things.  Life is too hard and people’s hearts too fragile to offer Bible verses as mere Band-Aids.

But I have to say – if it weren’t for this idea, that God takes the burning wreckage of our lives and gives us beauty instead, I would have no hope.  None.  The fact that he can take the hopeless cinder pile of my heart, and transform it into something not only worthwhile but beautiful… well, this is where I’m staking my hope.  And they say that where you place your hope, that’s where your joy will be found.

So, onward.  New year.  Same old me, but new hope.  Hopefully.



  1. carrie beth sherwood on January 1, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    oh wow, i think you and i were in a heap crying at the exact same time :) i take comfort in that actually, that i’m not the only one. and then i pulled myself together, we took our baby boy to my parents house, and my husband and i celebrated a new year that was more needed this year than ever.
    thank you for sharing your heart. happy new year!

  2. Stephie on January 1, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Best thing I’ve read in a long time:) Love to you.

  3. Erin on January 1, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Thank you Annie for this.

    Also … you changed your phone number?!! I would pay thousands (no, not really) to keep my phone number.

  4. Emily on January 1, 2012 at 11:33 PM

    This is a beautiful post, filled with HOPE. Happy new year, Annie! I always enjoy reading your posts.

  5. Greta on January 2, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    Oh Annie. I keep thinking of the kaleidoscope metaphor… You take broken pieces in an nonsense of colors and shapes and hold them up to the light– and you are able to illuminate beauty where there seemed to be chaos.

    I am so PROUD to be your best friend and am THANKFUL for the hope that you continue to cling to. Will respond in more depth to your email, or I might try to call you this afternoon. I love you so much, BFF.

  6. Dani on January 2, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    I love this. More often then not, I enter the new year more tired than anything else… thanks for reminding me of the hope of something new.

  7. Emily from Seattle on January 2, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    “Divorced Christmases” do get easier; I’ve been through 17 of them now. :) Eventually, it just becomes kind of normal…

  8. Jackie on January 4, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Beautiful sentiments!

  9. Lindsey on January 5, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    It’s funny (non ha ha) how different being an adult is than we thought it would be as children, huh. Life is undoubtedly complex and full of paradoxes- which I am grateful for. Thank goodness that on the other side of every coin is hope! Happy, hopeful new year!

  10. Amanda on January 5, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    What is it CS Lewis says in the Narnia books — that everything sad will come untrue? I love that. And I love that, lucky for us, he doesn’t just start the business when we leave this jacked up world but rather right here in the thick of it. And you, beautiful Annie, are in the thick of it. Holding much love and hope in my heart for you and your new year.

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