a love letter

Every week at the end of U-18 training, we have a words of wisdom time. From week one of meeting these precious young women, they have been asking questions about dating. I tried very hard to write something to introduce this letter. Every time I got any words down, I just felt like I was reexplaining everything to come…so instead, I’m simply going to say this: this letter is a love letter to these girls, to all girls, and even to young men; to me, to my friends, and to my brothers…please hear these words, and even if you don’t agree with my opinion on dating, please believe the words that speak the truth of what you were created for.

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Dear Girls,

Happy Valentine’s Day. You have all asked about dating, and I honestly don’t have any answers for you. I can only share what’s been put in my heart on the subject, the things I know to be true, and let you take it and do what you want with it. I have reasons for believing dating is not really a good thing, but even just giving you all a list, isn’t sufficient or helpful. The list doesn’t matter if it’s not in your heart.

I have dated. I dated the same guy for almost two years, starting my senior year of high school. And before that, and after, I went on a few dates here and there. So I have experienced the good and the bad of dating. And from it, and from a lot of prayer, and reading, and conversations with others who’ve dated, and others still who’re married, I’ve come to the conclusion that we were created for so much more than dating, where love is concerned.

I will not tell you that this conviction has made things easy. I will not tell you that I haven’t developed feelings for guys who are in my life before, even without dating. I will not tell you that it has solved a problem, or made me not long to be in a relationship… I will tell you this: It’s hard. It’s hard to be alone, and it’s hard to be different. It’s hard to explain to people why. It’s hard to explain to you all why.

Have you ever heard the term “patient endurance”? It basically means patient waiting and pressing on, even through the hard stuff. Enduring doesn’t really sound fun. But typically there is goodness at the end of whatever we’re enduring. Think about it in terms of soccer. Training to have endurance is hard work. It takes you to the end of your strength and your capacity. But you have to increase your level of endurance, so that when you get to a game, you can last the duration. Enduring in life is the same. There is training involved. It will take you to the end of yourself. There will be good things in the midst of the enduring, and there will be hard things too, just like in soccer. But you want to last; you want to make it the duration. A season of waiting means you must endure the seemingly stagnant daily things, the fear of the thing you’re waiting for never coming, and the tiresome aching in you for whatever it may be. But enduring patiently and faithfully brings reward. It brings blessing. Even in something like dating and marriage.

I know it’s hard to be alone. I know it’s hard when it seems like all, or at least most, of your friends have someone. Please trust me when I say, I know. It can be very lonely. And it can make you ask a lot of questions, like: is something wrong with me? Please hear this: you are not alone, and nothing is wrong with you.

I haven’t lived by rules, and I don’t want you to, but I want you to live by something planted deep inside your heart — something that says you were created for a purpose, for love, for truth, for joy, for hope, for peace and for fullness. I don’t know if many of you believe in the Lord, or have a relationship with Him, or anything, but this is one of the truest things I can tell you, whether you believe it or not (and I hope you choose to): He created you for the type of love that is whole, selfless, patient, sacrificial, filled with humility and hope and endurance. Love that is honest and true. A love filled with trust—so much trust that you would, and could, wisely put your life in someone’s hands. He created you for Himself. He did not create you to be the object of selfishness, lust, lies, deceit, fear, or division. He did not create you for imitation or by accident. True love — the type of love you were created for — can only come from Him. And you will only find it in Him, and in those who are filled with His Spirit. And you know, you may have to wait for it — you may have to wait a long time for it. And waiting may become tiresome; it’s that patient endurance thing again. But “our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we’re waiting for” (Charles Stanley). But waiting doesn’t mean you don’t live fully now. You are not waiting for a man to make you alive. You are alive now. You have been given people to love faithfully right now, gifts to use faithfully right now, and work to do faithfully right now…

And none of this is exclusive to romantic love. This is all types of love. We were made to love and be loved. The young man you marry some day, was created for the same love you were. It’s so easy to only see today, and the near future. It’s hard to see how our lives right now will lead us into what’s to come. It’s hard to see how the decision I make about dating or being with a guy today, could effect a completely different guy 5 or 10 or 15 years down the road. But it can. And it will effect you. You are being prepared right now for where you are going tomorrow, and the next day. In life, and in love…

I have to pray. I need to. And I pray for whoever I may marry, the men my friends will marry someday, the men (and women) the kids I hang out with will marry, my brother’s future wives, etc. And I’m praying for each of you, and the men you may someday marry as well. I hope you can each hear this, not as a demand or a rule or something to make you feel bad, but as something from the heart of someone who believes you were created for more than what you (or I) can see right now — as something from the heart of a girl who, not too long ago, was where you are, and still, everyday struggles with this very thing.

I am so very thankful for each one of you.

Love,

Ellie

what I lack, what I hold

I am so very like the disciples in Matthew 14. Many of us have heard the story eight thousand times. Jesus feeds the five thousand. He performs a miracle. But before He does, He says something to the disciples…He says: you give them something to eat (Matthew 14:16; ESV).

On Sunday, Brian said, “We can’t be fearful of the way we go to get to the broken people.”

I am afraid. I’m afraid of not being ready, of being unprepared; I’m afraid I’ll fail and fall, that I’ll be rejected, that I’m inadequate…I’m afraid of these things and probably more. I only see what I lack. I forget and am blind to what I actually hold…and that’s Jesus. Just like the disciples. They have Jesus, and they have five loaves and two fish…in their minds they have only five loaves and two fish. I have the Holy Spirit, and a teensy bit of experience, minimal knowledge, a very quiet voice, and I just don’t know what I’m doing… All I see is my lack; I can’t see that I hold everything I ever need.

I’m afraid I’m not ready; Jesus is ready. I’m afraid I don’t know enough; Jesus knows all. I’m afraid I’ll fail; if I fail or fall, it’s in pursuit of Jesus, and He will catch me. I’m afraid to be rejected; Jesus was rejected, and He won’t reject me. I’m afraid I’m inadequate; Jesus is adequate, I don’t need to be. He will fill in every gap that needs filling.

If I was prepared, fearless, adequate, successful, and accepted, I wouldn’t need Him.

Our lack means we have need. Need makes us desperate. Let us be desperate for Jesus, the One we do hold. He is not only the One whose life, whose love, and whose death has given us everything…but He is the One who is our everything.

Jesus wants us to see what we have — what He has given. He says to the disciples “you give them something to eat.” They have been with Him, seeing the things He does. And yet, they don’t see Him with them.

Do they not trust He is who He says He is? Do they not know Him really? Or are they merely acknowledging their lack and their need for Him?

We see what He does, what He has done. We see what He promises He will do…and yet, we don’t see Him with us. Do we not trust He is who He says He is? Do we not really know Him? Sometimes I am acknowledging my need for Him, but more often, I’m fighting fear because I don’t trust He is everything I need.

Like the disciples, we look down at our empty hands, and our meager supply baskets, and we say: We only have this much. It is not enough. Jesus can turn nothing into something. He can turn only five loaves and two fish into enough for five thousand. What makes us think He won’t do the same in our lives?

He still used the disciples, even though they couldn’t see. He still used their unbelief, just like He uses ours. He still uses us to pass on what He has given us. It’s a privilege not to be enough, not to have enough. We need Him; we want Him. It gives us an opportunity to draw nearer to our Lord…our Savior. And He won’t let us be depleted. He will always give us more than enough, because He is more than enough.

“Jesus said, ‘They need not go away, you give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘We have only five loaves here and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children” (Matthew 14:16-21; ESV).

Burn it all from me.

You know me — the very thought terrifies and mesmerizes me. Your holy fire must desire to burn me — burn every blemish from me. Nothing of me would be left. But mustn’t that be the point? The only purity in me is You, and to be more You and less me is it. So burn every thing from me. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Aren’t those the words? The ones David says?

You see me — in every moment. As I read, work, drive, sleep, write, interact… As I read the same verse of Your Word 37 times before I actually get what I’m reading because I’m so distracted…As I work half heartedly and frustratedly, not working with glorifying You in mind…As I drive weeping and screaming because it all hurts too much…As I sleep and forget about the world and the fight and avoid the things that need to be faced…As I write… or should I say not write?…As I interact with fear and anxiety, with wantonness and unprovoked intensity…

You’ve seen every moment of my life, and you’ve heard every thought. Sometimes I think nice things, Jesus, sometimes my heart has love in it, but Jesus, those nice things — that love — those things are You. The crap is me — the hiding is me. The fear and anxiety, the ungratefulness and bitterness — those are me.

But You want me. Why Jesus?

What I did is past, forgiven.

Today’s struggle is not mine alone.

You still want me.

I’m broken, I’m a mess

I run from You

I hide from You

and still,

You want me.

I love other things more than I love You

but still You love me

and still You want me.

I choose other things

and people

before I choose You

and still,

You want me

and still,

You love me

and still,

You wait for me

to take Your hand

and hold it and walk with You

and to follow You wherever You go.

Jesus I want

to follow You wherever You go

I don’t want to chase the wind

or this world.

I don’t want to turn to the right

or to the left.

I just want my eyes to be looking into Your eyes

and my heart to be aligned with Your heart

I want to know Your heart – to weep and bleed and play as You

I want to know Your mind – to think the things you think

I want to know You to the hilt

while I breathe this air.

I want to love You as much as You love me.

Impossible

Is it a terrible thing to say?

But Jesus I want to love You more

I want to love You

how You love me –

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691 days

It has been 691 days since I moved back to Ohio from Colorado. The speed at which time has passed seems to differ depending on what I’m thinking about.

I’ve lived in Ohio for 691 days. That went fast.

It has been 364 days since Kelly got married. Again, so fast.

Remember ugly crying from the South Springs to Limon? 691 days ago – that seems like a really long time.

The last time I hugged my Colorado roommates? 691 days ago. THAT IS FOREVER.

When I consider the time here, it seems like it has flown. When I consider what happened there, it seems like a different lifetime.

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I wrote in my journal earlier this week: Sometimes when I think of Colorado, I can’t believe that was my life. It honestly feels as though I dreamt it or it happened to one of my friends. It’s been almost two years since I moved back, and memories are vivid but they come like bubbles — kind of brief and technicolor in the light — the way childhood memories often are. Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll forget, so I make myself go through my life there. I don’t ever want to forget. 

Something I’m learning as I get older, is that memories can be amazing, and it is so good to remember, especially for the purpose of remembering the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord, but so often, it’s the people who are in those memories that we carry with us. The memories would be nothing without the people who are a part of them. And those people are still here ( though maybe 1700 miles away ).

It’s hard staying close so far apart. And I’ve had to learn to let go of a lot ( not just people, but expectations, dreams, etc.) in the last 691 days. It seems that since I was 19, that has been the recurring thing..letting go, which frequently means Jesus has to love and coax me out of my death grip by reminding me of His goodness and faithfulness. People are hard to let go of though. You know what I mean?

If I’m in, I’m in, in any relationship and any commitment. It often takes a lot to get me to the point where I am in, but once I am, I am…Until the Lord removes it. And He’s typically removing it, because I’ve probably made it an idol. He’s asked of me, many times it seems, in the last six years, to let go.

Anything I put before my God is an idol
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol
Anything that I give all my love is an idol

( Clear the Stage; Jimmy Needham )

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And letting go is often not just letting go. It probably should be, but there is so much fear, and ache, and longing involved.

There is fear in letting people go, because what if that relationship is lost forever. There is even fear in giving people space sometimes, because what if they drift away, and don’t return, or what if they think you don’t care, when really your heart is broken that you’re having to do this. But then I think of Abraham. And I think of God the Father. And I think of how both of them, put on the altar, the very thing they loved most — their sons.

God asked Abraham to put Isaac on the altar, because maybe Isaac had become an idol; the son of promise needed to be killed — the idol removed. Abraham obeyed. He believed God could do anything, including raise Isaac from the dead if He chose. So he did it. And God stopped Abraham, seeing His obedience, his faith, his love for Him, and the angel of the Lord said, “‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.’ And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:12-13). My friend’s dad said years ago “the Lord always gives us a ram caught in the thicket.” And for a long time I didn’t really understand what that meant. I knew he was saying that the Lord provided financially or materially, but it took a little longer for me to see that he meant in every circumstance where the need is not met, especially when we must sacrifice the very thing we love the most in order to obey Him.

“‘So I put you on the altar,’ he said…We were silent for a very long time…What Abraham did was the ancient prelude to the full revelation of the love of God. The readiness to give up his son and the rewards promised because of it…” (Elliot, 61).

So Ellie, are you willing to put _______ on the altar? Are you willing to let go of _______? I am asking you to let go. Remember _________, remember how faithful I was there? I am always faithful, and I work, always, for the good of my beloved children, who love me.

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The entire reason I began to write this morning is because today, for the first time in 691 days, I will get to hug one of my Colorado roommates. Janae arrives at 2:45 this afternoon. I am counting the hours. This is by the faithfulness and goodness of God. Even if He hadn’t let today and the next week and a half together happen, it would still be by His faithfulness and goodness that we are where we are, and who we are, and have the friendship we have — a friendship only paralleled in closeness and sweetness by a handful of others in my life.

And so I thank Him for this gift. For this reminder. Because He is letting me see so vividly and clearly in this particular gift, a heart cry answered, that He knows me, that He hears me and sees me and knows the ache and loneliness and tendency to hold on to. In a season where I hear Him asking me to let go of yet another treasure, and struggling to do so, He is reminding me that He knows, and He will be faithful in this too. Even if it doesn’t happen or go the way I think it should, He is faithful.

When I’m struggling to be where I am.

I am a dreamer, and I am a writer, and I am also a sentimentalist. For pretty much as long as I can remember, I have struggled to be present. I constantly remember, and frequently look forward; I love to reminisce, I love to write stories about things to come, and I love to mope when I’m missing the past, and being impatient for the future.

There are seasons when this struggle takes over, and there are seasons when it fades very quietly into the background. It depends upon my contentment in the season. There have been only a few seasons that I have taken hold of the days and embraced the current moments with hunger and full attention.  Too many of my days have been spent missing sweet breaths from the past, or spent longing for tomorrows.

Before moving to Colorado, there wasn’t a whole lot I missed about life in the past. But after my first summer there, everything changed. I was afraid nothing would ever compare.  I was afraid I would never feel as close to Jesus again. I was afraid I’d never have community like that again. I was afraid I’d never have such a full season of learning again. I had no desire to go back to my life before that summer…and I was afraid I was going to have to. I was also afraid of moving forward—into the future—a future I had absolutely no plan for, or obligations in. I wanted to stay there forever. But time doesn’t stop, and I had no choice but to face real life.

BUT real life turned out to be better than even I could have dreamed (maybe because the Lord is a way better story writer than I am). He let me stay in Colorado for another year. Every single part of my life was new. Nothing from my old life, except clothing and books, moved to Colorado with me. Everything was fresh. I had a new home, new room, new people to live with, two new jobs, new church, new community, new roads to drive on, new-to-me car, new view…this list could get very long. I don’t want to be misunderstood here: though I didn’t want to return to the old, that doesn’t mean there weren’t good things about it. There were lots. I was just desperate for space to stretch out the wings I never even knew I had been given.

Often in the process of growing up, we try a few different costumes on, attempting to work out who we are, and frequently we end up wearing the one that the most people approve of. At least if you’re like me, you do what makes people happy, and that takes precedent over who you may actually have been created to be.

Or sometimes when you grow up around the same people, they come to expect you to be a certain way, and it’s not always the way you were created to be, and those expectations can be limiting. Sometimes you have to find space to be free to see the you that God created you to be. For me, that looked like moving far, far away. The Lord makes a way, wherever we are, to show us. Your space may look very different than mine. It may come in the form of illness; it may come in the form of a devastating betrayal; it may be deciding that you’re no longer going to swim downstream with everyone else. I don’t know. What I do know, is that The Lord is the only one who knows us completely, and there is no change we can make that matters apart from Him. We all have different stories that make up a tiny little piece of God’s great big one.

And part of mine was moving to Colorado for 14 months when I was 22 years old. And then part of it was returning to Ohio when I was 23. And now I’m 24, and I mope. I don’t cry like I use to about missing my homemade family and the mountains, but I cry because I see what I had, and now what I lack. It blinds me some days—some weeks—a lot of hours…And seeing what I lack takes my eyes completely away from today.

Last week I cried a bunch–out of sadness. But in the midst of it, I was also blessed a bunch. I spent all day two Saturdays ago at a soccer tournament, running from one kid’s game to another. I went to five total, and then one on Sunday, and one the following Thursday night. Thursday night, Miss Eeg was leaning against me, trying to stay warm as I rubbed her shoulder. She’s 10 now, but I started babysitting her and her three siblings about a week after she turned four. She was telling me about the players on Jake’s team, and then she decided she wanted to do trust falls, so I was catching her as she fell backwards. After about three of those, she sat on my feet, huddled with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. I glanced down at her a couple of times, overwhelmed with thanks that I wasn’t missing that moment. On Sunday, she, Keek and I were sitting on a blanket at another of Jake’s games with a few of Keek’s teammates, and they asked who I was. Eeg told them I was her honorary big sister. I had to turn my face away for a second, unable to hold myself together.

I feel honored. It’s not just that I’m getting to see Eeg and Keek and Jake and D grow up. It’s getting to know and be in relationships with people whom I love, but would not know had the Lord not moved me back here. It’s simply knowing Maddy and Audrey and Rachel, Abby and Milena, Shana and Brian and Tracy and Jerry…and others…and loving them and being loved by them.

Moments like Thursday and Sunday, make it easy to see what I do have, rather than what I lack. Lord, help me to always see what I do have—what You’ve given. And let me give thanks—let me offer it back to You. If I cling to it rather than let You have it, then it becomes an idol. Let me give thanks and then let go, letting You do Your will. In the moments—the seasons—that I struggle to be where I am, and I see only what I miss, or all that I want, give me Your eyes. Thank You, Jesus.

change, no guarantees & an apology

A few Tuesdays ago I was leaving my house to go to Bekah’s so we could purge some mementos from her life, when my brother drove down the street. He doesn’t live here, so immediately I stopped the car and rolled down the window, as did he—then we proceeded to chat for 45 minutes in the middle of the road.

Apparently being gone on Monday nights means I miss a lot. He decided that He was moving to Montana to live with our grandpa. In the 15 hours since then, he had begun moving out of his apartment, found a job out there, put his car up for sale, and talked through everything with Grandpa.  And not only was he moving, but his plan was to fly out the following Monday.  I know, right? 6 days notice…bah.

The plan was that I would take him to the Indy airport Monday morning, but over the weekend, we found out that the airline wouldn’t be able to transport his dog…

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Decision made: Car went off sale, got scheduled for maintenance, estimated time of departure became Thursday noon.  Next thing we know, it’s said Thursday, at 9 pm, he was still here, and his new departure time was 7 am Friday morning, with a promised pit stop at my work to say goodbye on his way out. Sigh.

He and my parents had gone to visit our baby brother that previous Saturday. I couldn’t go, but when they got home, my mom told me that watching the two of them say goodbye had been heartbreaking, and Miles had cried in the car on the way home. It had not even hit me that we weren’t all going to be together again for quite a while…maybe Christmas…if plane tickets are affordable.

So Ian’s birthday was it.

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photo taken by Melissa Koutny

I have a friend who is one of nine, and her siblings range from 16 to 38 years old. They’ve lived all over the country, half of them in Washington state, half in South Carolina, some of them in Ohio, some in West Virginia, some in Washington DC, some in Africa…it is rare that the entire family is all together at the same time. I honestly think this last Christmas may have been the first time in four or five years that they were all there. And I may be forgetting someone.

I can’t imagine that. Even when I lived in Colorado, I knew I’d be home at Christmas, and my brothers would be there, and so would my parents. I knew that when I came home to watch Ian graduate from high school, they would all be here. I could rely on those things.

And now, Miles was leaving, to also move most of the way across the country, and I am hopeful he’ll be here in December, but that’s not a guarantee—just as it wasn’t really a guarantee that we’d all be together in December and June when I had come home.

There is only one guarantee in life. People are not guarantees. And circumstances certainly aren’t guarantees. That’s what I’m learning. It’s what I’ve been learning—for the last five years—probably longer. We love people and we love to know that they will be there no matter what, but that’s just not reality. It’s why we cling to sayings like “best friends forever” and it’s why we like to define relationships—so we know what we can rely on.  It’s why we search and prod and dig for stability and jobs and the things that give the appearance of comfort and unshakability (made that word up).

The world, the people in it, the weather, the sky, the seasons, the leaves, the things in bloom—they change, constantly. We really have no control over it, though we try. One minute someone’s ten minutes across town, the next they’re 26 hours across the country. The suddenness of this move, if nothing else, is showing me that in the blink of an eye, anything can change. Cliché—I’m aware.

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I have spent so much of my adult life (and really, probably my childhood as well) searching for someone to rely on—whether it be a friend, a parent, a guy… I will just tell you this: I have been disappointed every time. Not because of the people, but because of me. I’m trying to make them something they can’t be.

I want so badly for someone to love me, need me, accept me, hear me, hold me, see me, fix me, speak to me, perfectly, exactly right, every time—and that’s impossible.

I am sorry friends. I’m sorry for all the pressure I’ve put on you; sorry for expecting so much, even though I never said it; sorry for being angry with you, and becoming bitter when I was disappointed. You never could have lived up to my expectations for you. The things I want from you can only be given and done by The Lord. I’ve expected perfection, from you—from me—but perfection only comes from Him. I have to stop looking at you like you have my answers—my solution—because you don’t. Jesus is it.

And I’m apologizing to you guys, but even more than that, I’m apologizing to You, Jesus. I’m sorry for trying to replace You & for trying to fill myself and my life with things and people who can’t take Your place. And thank You for Your patience with me—for loving me anyway—and continuing to pursue my heart—for continuing to open my eyes and teach me—even though it’s often the same lesson over and over again. Thank You for creating us to be in community, and for having people we can trust and be close to, but thank You that no one can replace You. Jesus, thank You for my family, thank You for the friends that I actually consider family, thank You for providing for the need of this in my life—in our lives. Thank You for seeing every circumstance and seeing us, and for calling us to look up into Your eyes, and not at our feet, or at the shaking of things around us.  Thank You for not changing. Thank You for being You no matter who we are trying to be. Thank You that how we see You doesn’t change who You actually are. Give us Your eyes, Jesus. Give us Your eyes to see the people we are surrounded by—strangers, friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, classmates, etc.—give us Your eyes to see our lives, our troubles, our joys—let us see You in them—let us see with Your eyes, and see the blessing of them—trusting that You are good and You know and see and have a purpose and a plan for everything—even though we really can’t see it, and we especially can’t feel it, at the time.

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Thank You for my brother, and for this new season of life for him. Thank You for teaching me so much from one choice that someone else made. Thank You for getting Him to Montana safely, for Grandpa who is so excited to have him there. Thank You for providing a job and a car and a friend for him. Thank You for the open space, and ginormous mountains that he gets to live in the midst of. Thank You, Jesus for the fresh breath and clean slate that You have given him. Draw him near to You, Lord. Call his name, please Jesus. Burn within him—burn Your words of Truth onto his heart and his soul. Show him, Jesus, who You created him to be, and free him from the expectations and standards of this world—free him from the words that have been spoken over his life. Let nothing meant by Satan for evil remain. Uproot every lie and falsity, and replace them with Your Love and Truth. Thank You, sweet Father. Thank You, in the Name of Jesus, let it be as You wish. Amen.

this space.

I turned 24 this passed March, and I was so ready for it. I was ready to put yet another year between me and high school, me and college, me and so much bondage…I wanted to keep moving forward as free, grown up, but kinda kid-like Ellie.

I was ready for a nice even number, one where you can multiply the first digit by itself and get the second…you know? How often does that happen??? 11, 24, 39…so just this once, since the other two ages are odd.

And amidst the things this year seemed to be bringing with it, was the creation of a new website. I started a blog during my Junior year of college, and it was a place to share the things I was learning, and to process “out loud”, but also to encourage and even teach others. I’m not always a good conveyer—I take the long way everywhere, because the scenery is nicer…explanations, scripture, driving, writing…I want to see the whole picture, and I want others to see it too, even if they could care less — so I over explain, over show, over read and quote and drive…

So this new space is for “grown up” Ellie — though she is often really more like an 11 year old — to write the things God places in her heart. Some posts from the old blog are here now too — things I want to always remember.

My prayer is that my voice would not be what you hear or read, but that The Lord would speak to you–that He would tell you how much He loves you–how He sees you–tell you who He created you to be–that He would speak Truth and Life over you–and that you would hear and receive it–believe it and walk in it–that He would draw you near to Him–that you would know His faithfulness, and goodness, and His might and awesomeness. None of this is about us. It’s about Him, and it’s about glorifying Him, pointing to Him, preparing the way for Him. The only thing we will ever be satisfied by is Him–and the only success that matters is following Him without division.

never once.

We sang this song in church today. I was struggling before we even left the house this morning, but when we started singing this, I lost it.

The past few weeks have been hard. I’ve been floating somewhere between terrified, sad, confused, excited, and thankful. I’m doing my very best to be present. And for the most part I think I’ve been doing fairly well, but it’s still challenging. Every time a “last” occurs, I sit and think about it, and feel like I’m ready to cry.

We went to Garden of the Gods today, and took a short walk, and some photos and videos…and I had to take deep breaths and blink a lot.

And yesterday I saw some friends–probably for the last time–and I left feeling sick to my stomach and ready to cry.

Every glance at the mountains, every “goodnight, love you roommates,” every time I have to say goodbye to someone else (especially when I haven’t really had a chance to tell them I’m leaving)…makes this next weekend harder and harder to keep walking towards.

I KNOW without a doubt that I’m following the Lord on this; I KNOW that it’s right….but it doesn’t make it any easier…and it certainly makes me fearful and lonely to know that I’m leaving the people I’ve been doing life with for the last year. I KNOW that I’m going somewhere familiar, and I am so thankful, but somedays familiar isn’t comforting.

So I’ve been praying a lot, and trying really hard not to jump to next Wednesday when I start life in Ohio again. I’ve been trying not to worry about what I will be doing with my time. I’ve been asking the Lord to help me stay here until I’m not here anymore, and for Him to help me be there when I get there. I’ve been thanking Him that His hand is on this, and whatever is next, and praying that I will be obedient no matter what.

And I’ve been holding back tears because of all I feel like I’m losing when I leave (though I’m gaining much too). I’ve been talking myself out of crying, and instead laughing. And the laughter’s been real, and it’s been loud, and it’s been great, but it’s still reminding me that I’m leaving this home that the Lord’s given me this last year.

So when we started singing this song, I lost it. I literally could not make my voice come out. My throat closed and throbbed, and sobs had me shaking on my chair, because I could no longer stand. This song has the words I needed to hear…it is filled with the truth that sometimes escapes me when I’m struggling. And it amazes me how God knows me. I don’t know why…He constantly shows me that He knows me better than I know myself, but for Him to know me that well…me…the girl who has walked away from Him…me who chooses Him last…me who somedays just treats Him like He’s Santa Claus, rather than my Daddy…me who takes Him for granted all of the time…GRACE.

Standing on this mountaintop

Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone

Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace

Never once, no, we never walk alone
Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

(Never Once by Matt Redman)