In the Palm of His Hand

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Fathers Day. Oh the profile pictures will be changing to Dad’s walking daughter’s down aisles and dads hugged up with the babies of yesteryear. There will be sweet storytelling. A longing for the Dad’s that are no longer with us. And memories will float up of those dreamy solid Dad’s who we can’t imagine our lives without. 

But since grief came to reside in my heart , my heart now seems to drifts towards the currents of loss and grief in all things. . . All special days. I can’t help but ache for those who never got the storybook snapshot they longed for. 

Many are hurt by the shortcomings of their earthly Fathers. No matter who your Dad is there is a 0% chance He got it ALL right just because he was in fact Human and sinful. Chances are,  at the very least, you’ve been wounded by your earthly Father in some way.  

And at the very most, you may have felt abandoned, criticized, torn down, or misunderstood by your father. I’ve seen many a story of those who felt like they were dumped by their dad as a burden he just didn’t choose to bear. They feel discarded. 

Maybe that’s you. Maybe you feel as tossed aside as a piece of trash by your father. And here it is Fathers Day and that loving feeling everyone seems to have- – well you’ve lost it or maybe you’ve never had it. 

This may be your earthly reality. But it is not your heavenly one.

My sweet Jesus, when He taught me to pray – – He asked me to always ask Him to let it be on earth as it is in Heaven. So allow me to remind you that our Father is in Heaven. 

And He treasures us above all. We are not in the trash pile with Him ever. In fact, He loves us so much. He treasures us so much that He gave His only son for us.  That’s right. God himself picked favorites and He chose you and me over the perfection of Jesus.

Because He wanted all of us forever.

You can count on a Dad that crafts plans and makes choices like that. He chooses you and He chooses you as His greatest priority. And all of His intentions and Power align with that priority: YOU!

He’s planned a masterpiece for you alone. And then a bigger masterpiece that you help fulfill. He is solid. He will never leave or forsake you. Never discard or disqualify you. For your heavenly Father isn’t made of the same sinful weaknesses as your earthly Father. 

He lacks nothing in His Design. Therefore He only has the best designs for you.

So it’s OK if that Father’s Day Card aisle is a hard place for you to be. Because despite the hurts inflicted by the earthly Father, your heavenly Father holds you in the palm of His hand.

 A hand open to guide and provide for you. Never to be raised against you. . .

Never to choose anything besides you. 

Look at that hand. 

And look closely.

You’ll find that your very name is written there.

So that’s where I look when I need to know where I am. . . need to know that my Father’s got me. . .

I look at His hand. ..

And there I am.

 

Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands. . . ” Isaiah 49:16

Happy Fathers Day to our Good, Good Father in Heaven. How we love you and how we are loved by you. ❤️

What If

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A year ago, I wrote this reflective peace called “What If? ” I was riveted by how intimately I was learning about kingdom economy and how very backwards and upside down my God is from the world I live in. 

What If? By Carrie Holliday June 12, 2016

What if nothing is as it seems? 

Simply because it isn’t “on earth as it is in heaven”? 

What if our biggest losses are our biggest gains? 

What if the best comes to us when the worst has happened? 

What if,during our darkest times, we are surrounded by more radiant light than ever?

What if it is our worst nightmares that make our deepest dreams a reality? 

What if those times that are the most difficult to walk through exist because we are walking in the thickness of a goodness we can’t understand? 

What if our severe weakness leads to a never ending strength? 

What if we were created with an inner need to be destroyed? 

What if we are foolishly trying to return a gift of wise riches? 

What if our eternity is shaped by the moments of our now?

What if every tear we cried was a shadow of the joy to come? 

What if our arch enemy looked like the things we love the most? 

What if there’s one book with all the answers but we insist on searching a thousand sites of only questions? 

What if the things we do in secret have the greatest audience we can imagine? 

What if the calls we do not answer become the life we should have lived? 

And what if the one the world insists was an ordinary humble teacher of a man will one day be its greatest ruler? 

What if we would rather believe a serial killer than trust a serious savior? 


What ifs can make you crazy . Believe me, I’ve battled a lot of them since March 28th. But if our what ifs center around us we are bound to remain locked in this struggle against our own ignorance and arrogance.  

But when our thought pattern becomes “what if God” . . . 

Then we solve our mysteries as we seek Him fully. . . 

And what was a victim is now a victor

What seemed so dark now shines brightly

What was muddied in fear is washed pure in love

And the stamp of Shame is now an echo of glory. . . 

Only God can show us what really is. . . As we submit to Him the what ifs and what could have beens and only then can we see what still can be. . . 


“The last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:16
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul” Mark 8:36
Blessed are the poor, hungry, broken, and hated (Luke 6:20-22)
#EG41 # useEllis2tellus
And now it’s June 12, 2017 and He’s shown me even more. 

The irony of this post is that He has gently taught me in the past year the questions I may not ask. 

You mustn’t ask what if . . . He gently purrs to me. 

You mustn’t ask Why. . . He softly whispers. 

My child you cannot understand it in your current state. Later I’ll bring you there. For now remember my ways are higher. . . My thoughts are that high too. . . Out of the reach of your why’s and what ifs. . . 

He’s gentle with me and always kind. But He’s taught me something with a firmness that I’m unlikely to forget. 

Asking what if. . . If only I had. . . Done this or known that. . . 

It is it’s own form of disagreeing with God. It begs me to believe that I could have done a better job than God Himself. That I would have operated differently and somehow better than the One who knows all. And since I am determined to stay reconciled and in agreement with Him, I must not go there in my mind and heart. 

I do not believe in the what if’s but I do believe when I’m ready He’ll show me the Why’s. . . And that very well may not be until eternity. 

And I trust him with that one too. 

Blessings Disguised 

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Everything is a blessing . Even the yuck of things like laundry. Which I did a lot of last night . Because I live with farmers. And have I ever mentioned they are dirty?  

But once upon a time . . . For just a whisper of a time, a sweet little girl lived with us. And we got to do her laundry. And a remarkable wonder of the universe happened. All the lint in our dryer vent was light pink.  

And all five of us gathered around it and giggled in the delight of that rare treasure. Can you imagine four busy dirty farmers held captive by tiny pink balls of dust and string? 

When it came time to end my stewardship of her belongings, an important phrase was uttered solemnly to my beloved cousin Nichole. 

“No more baby laundry” I said. And she folded that burp rag with a little bit of dried spit up on it and nodded her head and repeated ” no more baby laundry.”  

If it needed to be washed, it would have to go in the pile of items that was leaving the house that day. Because even the thought of the sweet smell of dreft . .. Of little pink strings in the vent but with no baby to dress or cover . . . Even that was too painful to remain a possibility in my mind.  

And so I post this not to bring guilt but to inspire gratitude.  

Even chores are blessings and some blessings look a lot like chores. . . 

And even though There is none dressed more beautifully than Ellis Grace. . . And Oh! How she shines in Gods heavenly splendor. . . I sure do miss doing her laundry. 
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us– yes, establish the work of our hands. Psalm 90:17
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people. 

Return to Battle

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Last year at this time, God taught me my first lesson on trauma recovery. It was very scary. But since then it’s been easier to trust Him.  I still experience triggers. They are my body’s natural response to a perceived danger.  But spiritually, they are landmarks on the map to restoration. He’s showing me exactly what ground needs to be held. Which territory needs to be taken back to walk in wholeness. 

People who are recovering from trauma feel very bad about it. They are constantly lied to by the enemy about how they are doing and told to withdraw. Few of us are able to believe in victory with the smallest mustard seed. Tell them how good they’re doing. Tell them how God is using their story .  Tell them it’s ok that they are not OK and that they will be OK again. Figure out what HOPE looks like to them and give them as much as you can. 

Victory has many different faces. No matter what you’re facing, find your victory in it. 

And huddle up people. Nobody walks alone. Better together. Herd mentality.  That’s how the body of Christ works best- – all parts in concert with the other parts.  Arriving at what is sweet and pleasing to our Father in Heaven. 

It’s so hard to understand that . . . As much as we hurt and we hurt so much.  

He has never hurt us. He is only here to help us.  Even that help will sometimes be dressed in hurt’s clothing.  Pressing in to pain is NOT natural. Trusting a God who you know was powerful enough to prevent all of this is HARD. 

Let’s be honest about that. The lack of honesty looks like hypocrisy and a faith without heart. But ugly, raw , open hearts that openly hemorrhage the truth of their offerings . . . Those  hearts have the kind of irresistible integrity that pulls people to Jesus. They get cleaned out and healed so they can love others. 

They get it. That elusive it we all feel we need and have trouble finding. . . 

It has a name. It’s name is Jesus. 

The Anchored Buoy

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God tells me many great and wonderful things. Sometimes He will tell me that I am “like” something. He’ll point to another aspect of His creation like an animal or a beautiful natural event and then He’ll point to me and say “ you’re like that.” Sometimes they don’t make sense at first. He recently told me I was a woodpecker and I was honestly disappointed. He was telling my sisters they were such grand, beautiful things. I saw a woodpecker as annoying, thanks to good old Woody the Woodpecker. But after a bit of research on this species of bird, it was actually some high praise from my Father. It was actually a message about the strength He gives me and the survivor He made me to be. 

But the other night He told me what my husband and I are like. And I didn’t have to do an internet search to understand it. It immediately resonated with me as the most digestible truth. It had a pleasant aroma and was delicious to taste. . .

We were on our first overnight date as a couple since before my daughter was born. All of these firsts have been hard. But I anticipated this one joyfully – – just as I have every chance to get away with my husband. I had the perfect dress, a few days of some pretty good tanning lotion, and special private night time attire. We would dance and God would bring us back to the breezes that blew in the beginning. We would love and breathe some sighs of relief at some quiet time together. It was to be about joy, romance, love, and reconnection. It was to be about LIFE and not about death.

 And we were doing good. Really great in fact. Until all of a sudden, I felt a sinking feeling in and around me. But it wasn’t exactly all of a sudden. It had begun with the Father Daughter dance at the wedding. I turned to the side and the sinking I had sensed was my husband’s heart. His eyes welled up with love that was so close to rolling down his cheek. I quickly pulled his hand up to mine and squeezed hard. My hand was on top of his hand and my spirit was pulling him up into the air and the light. His hand was on the bottom and He held me firm in the place I needed to be to remain strong.

 Without a strong anchor, the buoy floats about and drifts in the sea. The buoy won’t serve as a boundary for safety or a landmark of any kind without a strong anchor to hold her firm. And what good is a strong anchor if it doesn’t tightly connected to the HOPE of a buoy floating above it. The line between the two of them must stay strong. They must hold the ground they are meant to mark. He grounds me and I am the Hope that floats to mark our place in Gods keeping. He is as silent as the unseen anchor. I am as attention drawing as a big ol’ bright buoy floating in a sea of only water. He must be resilient to hold our territory. I must be a clear picture of the HOPE we are hooked to. 

I would be lost without my anchor. Lost at Sea. He would be lost without the purpose that a buoyant wife provides. What would he do? Would it matter? What would I have to show or tell? Would It matter? And though we be separate, individual unique people – – as different as a buoy is from an anchor. . . we are but one. One heart. One mind. One soul. One hand. And together we serve one purpose and one aim. We have very different needs to be our best. I need more aesthetic attention both physically and spiritually to be good at being a buoy. And He must be constructed of the finest material with great integrity and longevity to be a good anchor. But together, we stand our ground. We are not moved. We help others find their bearings. We mark the territory of the redeemed. . . the place where victory lives. One flesh. One mind. One spirit. We have both had to be restricted in different ways to achieve the oneness that God designs. We have lost nothing. We are a bright shining buoy in deep scary waters anchored by the kind of courage that will not be moved. 

 We’re like that . . . He says. 

 And I agree.

 

 

Reconciliation Part 2: The Principle of Stewardship

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A thousand times over I have been told to be a good steward. A Good Steward of what I’ve been given. . . Of where I stay. . . Of items that I am using. In the purest sense, a steward is a caretaker. An overseer. Anytime we are asked to care for something that belongs to someone else, we are a steward.  

But what about SOMEONE else? One of the most important truths that paved the way to my reconciliation with God is Gods principle of stewardship. When I asked God to bring me into reconciliation with God, He gave me deep knowledge of two fundamental truths:
1) Each one of us is a child of God
2) We are all stewards of that which belongs to God 
The following is my personal prayer of reconciliation, prayed in the presence of the Tribe of Grace on May 5, 2016:
Father, restore to me our oneness and my unwavering trust in you. I know what I ask for is a miracle but with faith of a mustard seed I boldly ask you to stamp my heart to match yours . . . 

That I be willing, accepting, and illuminated with whatever supernatural power and perspective you can give me. I am running to the roar and will continue to. . . Shatter my desire to evaluate, judge, and validate. Break me and shape me with a wisdom only you can give. Let it be true that nothing separates me from your love. I don’t want to stay there Father. Bring me home to your will and bring my will to your home. 

(AND ALL THE TRIBE SAID AMEN)

I was a steward of her Father. I continue to be a steward of all that you teach through her. A steward of YOUR beloved daughter. And through my exquisite care of her, you were glorified. Help me not to be confused that she was mine. Thank you for letting me be the one to care for your precious child, Ellis. And to love her as my own precious child. We are to be reconciled on that. She is a child of God. I was highly favored and chosen to be her steward on this earth on your behalf.  

(AND ALL THE TRIBE SAID AMEN)

I was such a good steward of her that I loved her like my own. She was so delightful that I will love her like my own for all my days and into eternity. She is your child forever. Just as I am a steward of her and her legacy forever. This is an everlasting call on my life and duty in my heart. I understand that Lord. What is once true for you is always true for you.  

(AND ALL THE TRIBE SAID AMEN and I called to my tribe to pray over this gained territory of Reconciliation to SEAL and BIND UP this TRUTH. . . 

Victory was claimed in this scripture- – )
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “YES” in Christ. And so through Him the “amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 

2 Corinthians 1:20-22
This time of prayer ended with the Lord’s Prayer which I finally understood for the first time in my life.  
And if I should die before I wake, it is a reconciled child you take. . . 
#EG41 #useEllis2tellus

Hugging Tighter

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This was my post from a year ago as I snuck over to my mother in laws to soak up a little bit of my joy before he took off for a couple of days to camp. 

I’ve always been that mom that races over for a good bye snuggle when they’ve stayed somewhere else and you won’t see them for a couple of days because they are camp bound. But it’s sweeter, I inhale more deeply, mark it in my heart, take no shame in it or its consequences. . . I will be a little late today and it will be A LOT worth it. . . Gager baby I’ve prayed for this first camp experience. . . For your love affair with Jesus to ignite In a way that can’t be extinguished. . . Even for your Dino shaped chicken nuggets and French toast sticks and your buddy grandpa Larry and . . . My momma love , it’s deep and wide. . .#EG 41


So I want you to know that I do it too. That’s right I’m moved to hug my babies a little tighter, a little longer. . . Smell them more deeply. Love them more focused. 

But I also want you to know that it was very painful to see people post these comments in direct relation to my baby dying on social media.   Many people made statements of prayer and support or sorrow and condolences followed by the statement that everyone needed to hug their baby tighter or that they were going to hug their baby tighter that night. 

I share those feelings of gratitude and relief and deep love in times of great shock for other people. I have stopped right where I was and thanked God for my own circumstances before I even ask Him to help them in theirs. This is what I call fleshy and being human. My humanity just is what it is and often I’m glad it is not the dark fate that has found others. 

But I personally will keep my baby clutching and new views of gratitude between myself and my God for the unforseeable future. People don’t need to be reminded of these things. It’s instinct to hold close to your chest what has been ripped away from another. And somewhere the actual mother of the actual dead baby reads that sentiment – – that directive to go hug your baby and hold them close tonight. 

Where are we sending her with those statements?  I know of course. But trust me when I tell you that you do not want to know.   We reach out to eachother on social media and I thank God for that everyday but asking yourself who is in the audience is a very kind question that can lead to more kindness if you let it. And sometimes Kindness is the only thing some people will be able to hug closely to their chest that night. Kindness is everything when you feel you’ve been left with nothing. 

Back to Work, Part 2

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God Sprinkles, First Day Back at Work

 May31st 2016

The sprinkles were many and perfect . . . Every one! They looked like friends who take you all the way to your door with new rose folders and pretty Kleenex and fresh flowers and chocolate. And more chocolate with love when you get to your desk. Friends with strong hugs and bosses who dish up to do lists with ice cream and breezes. People who were kind with love in their eyes and did enough to make you feel loved without bringing your ugly cry.  


 People who started their day by making sure that yours started with encouragement.  


But at the end of the day with darkness here and battles won- the ugly cry found its way to your heart. Those big girl panties wouldn’t stay up anymore and the longing – it hovers. And you’re looking for the landing pad for the crash and burn upon you. And he is there. His voice is gentle. His eyes both admire and inspire you.  

His every word is for your wellness. His every prayer for your wholeness. His endless vow for every season. His love beyond all reason. And in this moment, he leads you. He comforts and whispers hope and peace to your heart. And God himself has reached down and scooped you up and He used the arms of your husband to do it. And you cannot believe the lie that you are forsaken because the truth is all around you: no woman has ever been loved more than you. And you try to remember that your husbands name is Chris because you swear – -He looks exactly like Jesus. 


Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. 

Ephesians5:25


And these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

#EG41


 I knew He would sprinkle what I need but I didn’t know how loved I would feel that day. And I didn’t know the miracle that was happening with my husband. At the end of the day, it was all about him. And Him. And it got pretty fuzzy for me- the difference between my God and my husband. That is why it’s easy to respect and obey Chris. Because of his great love. This is a beautiful thing that came out of the broken.  I’m always amazed by it but. . . It’s just what God does.  

Back to Work

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May 30, 2016 Last Night of Maternity Bereavenent Leave


I’ve Never. . . 

Returned from maternity leave without a baby to return to, show off, check on. . . 


Without pumping and storing and transporting 


Or with people not quite knowing what to do with my presence


Or with the uncertainty of what level of emotional control I will have. . . 


Or with that feeling I know all too well that things are not as they should be. 


But I know this. I am blessed. I mostly have control of my attitude. And my God goes with me and before me. . . 

He knows the way. I don’t walk alone and he knows my heart. He’ll sprinkle what I need throughout my day so I just need to set an alarm and look sharp. . . And be a good listener. . . And. . . Good gravy it’s like I’ve never worked before and yet I’ve been working very hard. . . And I work in a big place called a hospital where there’s lots of band aids and Kleenex and people who’ve dedicated their whole lives to caring for others. . . It’s gonna be great! I tell you. Great! 


Above all, love each other warmly, because love covers many sins. Welcome each other as guests without complaining. Each of you as a good manager must use the gift that God has given you to serve others.

1 Peter 4:8-10


Even after the year I’ve had , it’s weird to see the words maternity and bereavenent together. 

But it was important to say them together. If you just say maternity leave, you will have a problem on your hands. 

 There will be joy-filled questions with joyful voices. Little squeals of Oooooh! What did you have? A boy or a girl? How’s that baby doing?

 And you’ll choke on your own heart trying to answer them. You’ll step in your own mess of a soul that’s come undone and is just oozing everywhere. 

“we had a girl” you’ll think and you might even say it. . . what did we name her? Ellis Grace. Ellis Grace. Ellis Grace. Ellis Grace. I miss your face. But then you’ll need to switch to past tense. Because they’re gonna ask how she’s doing. And you’re gonna have to find a graceful way to say that “ she died.”

The first time I said it. . . That’s all that came out. The other person was embarrassed and shaken and I spent the rest of the time making them feel better about asking a perfectly normal question that had turned in to an unpredictable dance of shock and woundedness.

Since then I’ve gotten much smoother. I can now say that we have 3 dirty little farmers and a farmgirl in heaven. She lived for 41 days and they were the best 41 days and it’s OK” I have to tell people it is OK. We all know that it’s not really OK. It’s far from OK. And that OK isn’t even a glowing report. . .but more of a “it’s holding together” kind of an answer. 

Because people are sorry. They say I’m sorry.

 They are sorry to hear that. 

They are sorry for your loss.

 They are sorry they asked you about your baby. Your family. How many kids you have.

 Whatever question landed them here to this naked and exposed private part of your heart that you take out in public with you – – wherever you go.

I watched other moms recently back from maternity show off the pictures. Complain about the short supply of sleep. The pain that pumping at work is. I made no attempt to correct their misconception. They had every right to curse the part of their identity that I begged God for. . . 

 Some people avoided me. Some People sought me out to get it over with so that they wouldn’t feel the need to avoid me. Some people acted like I never had a baby at all to avoid the above referenced awkward conversation. And some people asked me how I was doing in an unsure repetitive way – as if looking for another answer besides the complimentary OK that I have learned to dish up on no notice.   

For the record, I am not writing the handbook on what to say or not say. Do or not do. There isn’t one. I did like it when people were happy to see me and glad to see me out trying to do “normal.” Whatever that is. 

 I can only tell you that it is very hard to go back into a world with so many triggers and such tender grief bubbling under the surface. People who do this – myself included – are very brave. There must be no end to the grace we give them. And whatever is happening is OK if we just commit to get through it together.

I didn’t remember things. I had a tremendous problem focusing. I was distracted in meetings. I had days when I cried all day. I had triggers that I couldn’t get through and left seminars to go cry and be terrified in my office. I nearly broke everything in my office every time the baby chimes went off at the hospital – – for a time. I needed lots of bible verses. Lots of breaks. Lots of days when I left early. Lots of days when I came late because I could barely get ready, drive, get out of the car. . . etc. . .

But there was a commitment on everyone’s part that it was all OK and we were going to get through it together. I had come back to work, back from maternity leave, with no baby . But I had not come back alone. I was surrounded by people who were committed to it all being OK and to us all getting through it together. 

 I am still surrounded by the constant reassurance that it’s OK and I’m not alone because we’re all in it together. I’ve been allowed to recover from trauma and keep my job. To have days when I can’t make it work and have to leave early. But I also have a boss who says come back to work tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. Because you know what? IT’s OK. You’re OK. And we’re gonna get through it together.