Beauty For Ashes

by Annabelle Simisim

I was just 8 years old when my Mom stopped talking for 5 years. My mom loved to travel when I was young, and one day, after coming home from her religious travel, she was not the same.

Suddenly, she lost interest in life and just spent time lying on the bed. Basic activities like eating, showering, and even talking were things she couldn’t do anymore.

Overnight, our family had to adjust. At just 8 years old, I had to step up to manage the whole household, take care of my Mom, cook for the family, and study. During those moments, I felt helpless, neglected, and lost.

But God is amazing. Even though my parents practiced another religion, they enrolled me in a Christian school because it was the only Chinese school near our house.

One chapel day in school, I learned about God’s love and how He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for the penalty of my sins. That day, I willingly surrendered my life to Jesus and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior.

With a child-like faith, I started to read the bible daily. Even though there were times I could not understand what I was reading, there were a lot of truths that were made clear to me. That God is my Abba Father and He will never leave nor forsake me.

In the moments when God’s timeline didn’t appear to match my expectations, I trusted God’s promises.

Isaiah 41:10 says “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

God’s Word protected me from going astray even when weeks turned to months and months turned to years that my mom’s condition showed no signs of improvement.

As I reached high school, particularly when I was 13 years old, out of nowhere, I heard a familiar voice that I had not heard in years:“Kumain ka na ba?” (Did you eat already?)

Tears fell from my eyes as I heard my mom’s voice for the first time after 5 long years. Praise God! My mother was back!

Suddenly, everything was a new experience again with my mom around. We were waiting for this moment and never lost hope. God answered our prayers.

Life was normal once again or so I thought. Graduating from a university and working with a prestigious company, God blessed me with so much favor and success.

However, I became so busy with the wonders of the world that it crowded out God’s Word from my heart. I no longer had the intimate prayer life that I once had.

Despite my stubbornness, the Holy Spirit kept prompting me to join a small group in church. I did attend but was not consistent. Sadly, I spent less time with the Lord and my family.

Then came the worst news. In 2005, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3.5B breast cancer. The chemotherapy she had to take was the strong kind.

She couldn’t eat well, she lost her hair, and became very depressed to the point that she became non-responsive again. But God used this to bring me back to Him. He showed me that He was still with me all this time.

After two years of treatment, my mom was declared cancer-free. My mom was able to cook food for us, walk me down the aisle for my wedding, play with her grandchildren and was able to spend time with me and my new family.  Unfortunately, the cancer came back 12 years later in a much worse state, it spread to her bones, lungs, and liver. We were told that she only had 6 months to live and reaching a year was already a bonus.

I did not know what else to do but to surrender to God. It was those years when my mom’s relationship with God truly deepened. So did mine.

On October 10, 2019, I recommitted my life to the Lord and this time, with a stronger resolve to never backslide. With the help of my disciples and my group, I started to walk with God again.

My mom’s life was extended to 5 more years until she went to heaven last May 30, 2021. All my life, I had been praying for physical healing for my mom.

I begged God to take away the pain and restore things to the way they were. But God made me realize that He was more after our spiritual healing.

My whole family accepted Jesus Christ in their lives and that for me was the BEST healing we really needed. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Even the difficulties we experience in life—some of which can seem unbearable—are used by God to accomplish His purpose in our own lives.

For me, there is no greater joy than doing His will and seeing how He continues to change lives just as He did to my family. I pray that God will find me faithful until I see Him – and my mother – face to face. To God be all the glory and praise!

has been married for 13 years and blessed with two wonderful kids. Formerly with Procter & Gamble as a Global Solutions Manager. After she surrendered her life to Christ, she has been prayerfully growing to be a Proverbs 31 wife and mother. 

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