Monthly Archives: April 2017

Blessings of the 28th

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On the morning of March 28th, I put my two older boys on the bus. Before busying myself with some tasks of the day, I decided I should check on my newborn daughter. It had been 3 hours since she had last nursed and that was a LONG stretch for her. She was pale and had no breath in her. I did everything humanly possible to restore her life while activating EMS and begging God for her life. EMS and hospital workers continued to try to restore her for over an hour. It was not Gods will and we remain focused on accepting His will and doing His work. A member of my tribe lovingly reminded me that God says we are to thank Him and bring glory to Him in all circumstances. . . I AM SO THANKFUL THAT:
1) this happened the day after Easter so my heart was set to know that the grave holds no power . . . just as life is temporary, so is death to those who believe.

2)the boys were safe on the bus and were spared the perception of any danger or memories of trauma in their home. 

3) I was able to reach everyone I needed that day and that God provided a way for everyone to join us on Holy Ground.  

4)that there was a friendly face of a beloved friend at the hospital .

5) I am thankful that God gave my mother immediate clarity of TRUTH and that she was able to “mother” me from a place of strength in the ER

6)that my sister Ange was able to minister to us continuously in the first hours, first days, first week. . . 

7)that my boys were picked up by a loving uncle and their ears and hearts were protected so they could hear an honest and loving truth from the people God used to create and nurture them 

8)that first responders were so very kind and God even provided family during that time 

9) that loving family members kept little Grayson’s day light and joyful and familiar to him. 

10)that I was alone (from an earthly perspective) and the rest of my family was spared trauma in our home. And as well that we returned here immediately and that I was given power to quickly reclaim my home in every way. 
It’s not easy to praise or give thanks through intense pain. In fact, at times it can seem cruel or ridiculous. But God doesn’t ask us go to do it because it adds to our pain.  

No. Certainly not. 
He knows a grateful heart is an open heart that sees more clearly. 
“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

When Truth Hurts

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Life Verse for Today: 

” I came into the world to testify to the TRUTH. Everyone who BELONGS to the TRUTH listens to MY VOICE” John 18:38
The Truth About the Truth. . . 

This verse sounds all well and good, but what if the truth of your life puts the hurt on your soul. Sometimes the truth isn’t all Roses. Sometimes the TRUTH is that you only have Roses where Rosy cheeks used to be. . . or that your memory of a joy-filled time may be as close as you’ll get to JOY today. Sometimes the truth of your life doesn’t feel like something you want to BELONG to at all. It can feel more like a prison than a purpose. . . and we want to escape the truth instead of listening to its voice.  

For the TRUTH has a name and that name is JESUS. Let us not confuse Him with the One who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Whatever our pain, He is our peace and purpose. Whatever our prison, He is powerful to set our captive hearts free. 

Walking in truth is very difficult for me right now. A simple question like “how many kids do you have” or “how have you been” is complicated by my new truth that is sprinkled with pain. . .my CURRENT truth doesn’t change the ETERNAL truth of Jesus. 

He is the Prince of Peace, not disappointment. He is my wonderful counselor, not my source of confusion. And He is the real WAY, the only TRUTH, and THE source of LIFE. He came to reSTORE, rePURPOSE, and reCLAIM. So I don’t like the TRUTH of my story right now — and that’s OK, because I like the AUTHOR. . . I’ve read a lot of His stuff and it’s all been truly good. . . 

He speaks the truth.

 I belong to the truth and I follow His voice. . . 
#EG41 #useEllis2tellus

Postcard from God

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It had been almost 3 weeks since my daughter left this earth and took flight for eternity.  I was walking through Target while praying for the strength to buy a baby gift for a dear friend. I was trying to figure out how to stay in the baby section long enough to buy a gift without becoming a spectacle. What if I saw the wrong rosy onesie and started weeping and the weeping turned into a panic attack or what if the lady inside me who was constantly screaming ” No!No! No! “. . . what if I lost control of her and she got out somehow? 

What if I just had to leave weeping and I couldn’t do this thing that needed to be done because it’s consistent with who I have always been and I was somehow still alive deep inside the layers of shock and grief.  

I was lapping sporting goods and electronics. I would edge towards that baby section and then meander back when the big bump of needles pricked my soul and swelled my throat. And then I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye. The rosy backpack and I knew I had to have it.  For the contents of my spiritual ICU that consisted of a bible, 3 devotional, cards, my new soothing adult coloring equipment. But something whispered. . . Also for a journey. . . 

What journey? I was having trouble leaving my house. It cost too much and was worth every penny and it’s presence in my cart gave me enough joyful courage to regain the territory of shopping in the baby section. Now sure , I could Only buy very  unemotional items like a stool with some baby meds stuffed in it but sometimes victory looks like a practical baby shower present. 

I got home,  exhausted from climbing  that grueling emotional summit with no awareness that God would be transporting me to one more mountain high for the day.  The mail.  I would get a little depression-fighting vitamin D by walking out to the mailbox.  

I wasn’t expecting any correspondence from the King.  After all, He and I were still in a nasty disagreement over his idea of perfect planning and my experience of unbearable pain.  You see, losing my daughter was both unbearable to me and perfectly planned by God. And He and I were supposed to be on the same page. I was sore at Him and He knew it. I was disappointed in myself and He knew that too.  

So he affectionately flirted with me in a gesture He knew I would not be able to resist.  Ten years earlier I had told Him how it would thrill me to receive a note from Him in the mail. And then I dismissed it as impossible. 

Until this day. Day 20. I was counting the days without her to let  Him know how hurt I was.  On this day, in this mail, it was sticking out and it stopped me in my tracks. 

I knew it was from exactly Him to specifically me and I couldn’t believe He had actually done it.  He wanted me. He believed in me. He still had good surprises for me and most importantly He wasn’t disappointed in me .  The card was addressed to “My Fellow Adventurer.” And that was how He thought of me. . . As a brave and worthy friend that He would like to Road trip with.   It was unreal and yet so very real. I was holding it in my hand and it felt like promise.  

It was indeed the promise of more to come . . .the hope of a guy who finishes what He starts. . . With every path paved with good and every invitation . . . To be accepted with the love and excitement it is Given in. . . 

There would be more. It would be worth it. I should buckle up for the great adventure. Thank goodness I had the perfect backpack for that kind of thing. Maybe He does plan perfectly after all. 

 

The Spiritual ICU

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I am no longer in the spiritual ICU but my tribe is just as faithful today as they were a year ago to keep me out of the unit and in the battle.  But a year ago today . . . I was in critical condition and wrote the following: 

When you are in the ICU, you are unable to function normally. In most cases, you will be dependent on a person or a device to do what you cannot do for yourself. If you cannot breathe, it may be a ventilator. . . if other major organs are compromised, it might likely be medications and continuous nursing care. . . my spiritual ICU is no different. There’s so much I cannot do for myself right now because my spirit is weak. My hearing is drastically affected . . . and both truth and the enemy of truth call out to me. My own voice and ability to pray is compromised as well. . .
But, you know what else is true about the ICU? It never closes. Those who toil there never rest. One shift may end, but not without a new one beginning.  
My spiritual ICU is no different. The staff there is specialized and well equipped. Their protocols for my care are written by God himself. They are relentless about capturing the perfectly prescribed scripture at the most crucial times. When I see truth dimly, they shine their lights brightly. When I think I hear Him, they echo His promises until they are resounding and bouncing through each hallway in my soul. They will go on the warpath for anything I need – – whether it is sleep or the perfect bench to go where a crib once was. . . they are audacious, relentless. . . praying when I cannot muster a prayer of my own. . rallying me with a battle cry that is new every morning. They look like normal women but Oh! World Beware — they are MY TRIBE. . . daughters of the King yes but also WARRIOR women who battle on my behalf. . . no man left behind and no woman left unRESTORED. . . the tribe has spoken and their words aren’t just encouragement. . . they are Prophecy.
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14 
“As one piece of iron sharpens another, so does a group of warrior woman keep each other sharp.” Proverbs 27:17
#EG41 #useEllis2tellus #lovemytribe

Pain in the Pew 

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Carrie-Okie on Church Attendance when Church Hurts. . . 
It is very hard to go to church right now. Our church home is an awesome part of our family and Gods blessings to us. But a raw and tender heart, a spirit in Intensive Care, and a disappointment in what Gods will turned out to be. . . well, all of those things make a worship service a challenge to endure. . . 

I get my game face on, my war paint set, my Faith resolute, and my desire for the Lord turned all the way UP to Lead worship. . . I set aside my pain and selfish desires so that I can worship Him and be known by Him. . . but I also find myself completely crumpled up and given to sorrow at some point during church. . . the back hallway, ladies room, and parking lot are all marked with my tears. . .and that will continue as long as it needs to because distancing myself from my church home – – from Gods call in my life– His voice and His people is not an option. “Not one Sunday ” is the battle cry of my husband’s strong spirit. When we are thirsty, we go find a faucet. And when we are broken (and we all are) – we go to the One who sees our innermost, secret places knowing just how to make a masterpiece of the mess. If you are feeling like you are too much of a mess to go to church- start going as soon as you possibly can. . . there’s an invisible sign outside that says “Hot Messes Welcome Here” . Grab some kleenex and sit by me. Or any other hot mess in the pew. We are all broken and we are all in this together.

Lessons from Loftis

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One year ago today, I was hitting at least 3 devotionals in an effort to keep the faith and stay alive.  One of them was called 24 hours a day. It’s the classic AA devotional. And it belonged to my grandpa. He was a redeemed alcoholic.  And for a lot of his life he was too self centered and drunk to invest in the idea of his legacy.  I never knew that man. I only met the man that Jesus redeemed. The man that poured out the contents of those bottles so he could pour himself out in the service of others.   The man who would highlight and write in certain parts of this devotional. A devotional that his granddaughter would grab off a table of his earthly belongings going up for auction.  So his life would speak into mine.  I realized I was an Ellis-a-Holic . . . And I would need the same focus to get through my 24 hours without her that He used to make it without that bottle.  The following encouragement really comes compliments of my grandpa – – an old drunk who Jesus made a King as well as a guiding light in my life

Ecclesiastes 7:8 says “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” So true of Loftis Messer. So true for us all. 

This is SO GOOD regarding how we get and build tremendous faith in our lives. I have mentioned that I am allowing God to speak to me through 3 devotionals right now as Intensive Care for my soul.  

This is today’s meditation from the Alcoholics Anonymous devotional called Twenty Four Hours a Day:


” I gain faith by my own experience of God’s power in my life. The constant, persistent recognition of God’s spirit in all my personal relationships, the ever-accumulating weight of evidence in support of God’s guidance, the numberless instances in which seeming chance or wonderful coincidence can be traced back to God’s purpose in my life. All these things gradually engender a feeling of wonder, humility, and gratitude to God. These in turn are followed by a more sure and abiding faith in God and His purposes.” 


The more you do this, the more of a history you build with God. History starts to show you the same things about His character over time. That track record you have with God leads to trust and trust builds faith. . . but you must Seek, Ask, Knock. . . for it is written: 


If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:13
#EG41 #useEllis2tellus #loftisleadsme

Rising back up to the Truth

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It was a little challenging to return to my devotion today. Because the truth is I sank into a tide of sorrow last night and great were my laments. . . 
Lament: (noun) a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. . . aka wail, moan,weep,sob
Great was my lamenting.
Lament: (verb) to mourn a person’s loss or death 
But return I did. . . to John 10:10: 

” I came so that they may have life and have it abundantly.” I recalled the other scripture of John 10:11 revealing Him to me as the Good Shepherd.  
And then God pulled me to this one:
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” I Peter 2:24-25 
I cry out. . . I weep and I wail. . . And I pine. . and I have been slain. . . 

And not a bit, not a drop of it is wasted –

For it is through suffering that He became the Good Shepherd and it is through suffering that I am no longer a stray sheep. . .but a good sheep who returns to a good Shepherd who is also the Overseer of my soul . Beauty from bitterness. . . a crown from my ashes. . . Roses springing forth from the thorns. 
It is His way. And He is my way. . . my truth and my life. . . no one makes sense of the suffering quite like Him.
#EG41 #useEllis2tellus

How to Light a Healing Home Fire

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Our Homecoming After Her Homegoing 
There is no manual for how to minister to kids that won’t see a sibling for the rest of their lifetime. For little people Who rejoiced at answered prayers they thought would always be there. . . And now ache with a hole that feels forever empty. They went to school one day, got picked up early, and never returned to what they had left that morning. 

They would be gone from their home for one week. 

A week where their trauma would not be doubled by hearing their mother scream and cry, pace and look for a baby that she knew was not there. A week where their Dad would minister to their Moms aching body swollen with grief, shock, terror, and nourishment that no longer had a destination. 

They must not see the piles of baby clothes- keep, donate, bless close friends. They must not hear the horrific sound of the crib coming undone. . . Of Mom weeping over each article perfectly prepared for ages and stages that would never come. 

The home would now need to be prepared for them. For their return. In a way that would bless them and make sense to them. 

Holes would have to be filled with new happy decorations. Functional baby items would have to be removed because we no longer had a baby living here. We would need to reclaim our home to help everyone understand that she now lived some place else. There must not be any places that cannot be entered or touched. No doors that have to remain shut. Ellis’s room was now the room where Ellis was when she was here. We would immediately begin using it for other things. Guests, reading stories, play, . . .

And yet it would not do for it to seem like she was never here. If she was always to be part of our family, then she must also be felt in our home. And so we walked about and sprinkled the right amount of things that reminded us of her. We had to ask God to help because our home could not be a shrine to Ellis. We worship Christ alone. And we must continue on that course. So that’s the course we followed into unchartered territory. And the boys returned to light and love sprinkled with precious and familiar. And that was the right thing for us. Healthy. Whole. Godly. And Real. What does that look like? It took us one week to take our one shot at getting it right. I’ll never forget greeting them off the bus that day as if they were coming home for the first time. They were. 

But home is also where ever your whole tribe is – so they were right at home with nana, grandma and grandpa, uncle Mark , cousin Lindsey, aunt  mel, papa, uncles and aunts and friends . People who said “while you’re taking care of you, we’ll lovingly take care of them. ” 

In this house we do love and hugs and all that cheesy stuff on those signs, but we’ve also been chosen to do deep caverns with lanterns of love and dark mazes with no legends. And call it all home in the Christ who Loves us all the way to whole making it all very well with our souls ❤🙏🏻

Thank you to the caretakers who held back tears while playing in sandboxes and read bedtime stories and did homework. While we did see them everyday, you were called to fill a gap our weak minds and bodies could not bridge. We pray your reward is great in heaven because we can’t thank you enough on this earth. 

#EG41

How to Be a Good Sheep

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I am the Good Shepherd. John 10:11
I want to know you. . . because to know you is to LOVE you. . . to know you is to TRUST you. . . if you are the Good Shepherd , then I must be a good sheep. . . so what is required? What must I do to be a Good sheep? 
It’s hard to believe that all I must do is Follow Him. . . graze where He leads me, rest where He watches over me. . . stand secure in my value to Him.
Luke 15 is clear. He values each precious sheep over all the sheep together. . He will always leave the 99 to rescue His one little precious sheep . . . 
His job is to be a Good shepherd. There’s a lot to that. My job is to be a good sheep and well. . . that’s pretty simple.  
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

He refreshes my soul.

He guides me along the right paths

 for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23: 1-4
I can trust where He leads me because He is Good.
#EG41 #useEllis2tellus

Keep Reading. . . 

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ask and it will be given to you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. Matthew 7:7
The end of one chapter always leads to the beginning of another. And our God is a God of new beginnings. . . He makes things new. . . his mercies are new every morning. . and His plan is called. . . the Good news. . . 

God is inviting me to experience a new beginning. . . do we quit reading a book when the plot twists in an unfavorable direction? No. If God is the author of our lives, we must keep reading and if it is so dark that we cannot read- we must turn on the light. But, how? 
Your WORD is a lamp unto my feet and a LIGHT unto my path.
#EG41 #useEllis2tellus