Remembering Elisabeth Elliot

Today marks five years since Elisabeth Elliot passed away at the age of 88.

Elisabeth Elliot was a missionary, author, mother, and wife of slain missionary Jim Elliot and perhaps no other Christian author has had a bigger impact on my walk with the Lord than she has. I was first introduced to her story when I was in middle school, and ever since I read the story of her and her husband and their missionary team moving to Ecuador to reach the natives there, I’ve been captivated. I even had the privilege to hear her speak when I was 11 or 12. Sadly, I didn’t grasp the significance of who I was listening to that day and don’t remember much of what was said. Youth is wasted on the young…or something like that.

As I read about her life, her decision-making process, how she spent time in the word, and how she always put God first in everything, I remember it gave me such a sense of freedom to be who God called me to be.  She shined a light on the path of what it meant to be completely sold out to Christ.

“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.”

Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be A Woman

In more recent years, I’m finding her works on suffering to be encouraging through different trials that I have faced, once again shining a light on how God draws so near to believers who are suffering and how some of the most precious, tender lessons are learned in the fire of trials.

“Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ashes.”

Elisabeth Elliot, These Strange Ashes

Back in 2015, the New York Times published a great article on her life and her work, and it’s still up today. You can read it here.

I would love to be able to say thank you for the impact her books have had (and will continue to have on my life). I guess I will get to do that one day.

Previously published in June of 2015. Revised June 2020.

Marking Milestones in a Pandemic

Last week marked one year since launching Bloom Book 3. But instead of feeling joyful, I found I had more mixed emotions than expected. As I started to dissect why I was feeling this way, I realized those thoughts could have some value for others as we move into a month known for marking milestones: end of the school year, graduations, weddings, etc. You may not get to mark those milestones in the way that you’ve anticipated, and for that, let me pause and say I am sorry. From my own experience, I want to encourage you to find some way to mark your milestone during this pandemic. In whatever way is meaningful for you, do it. Your future self will thank you.

So back to last year.

The process of writing Bloom took four years, the time it would take to get another college degree. So not only was it the launch of the book itself, it marked the end of my first major writing project. Yes launching a book is “marking the moment.” The launch party we held was also meaningful. But I didn’t personally bring those chapters to an end before I blazed into the next one.

The day that I launched Bloom Book 3, I also finished teaching at a local homeschool co-op. It was my first year of teaching and I had such a great experience working with juniors and seniors on their writing abilities. The day after I finished teaching and launching the book, I started working with my husband in an office job, not related to writing. I had worked with him a few years prior, so while the job wasn’t entirely new, it was still going to be a big transition because at least for the first month, the job would be full time.

Marking milestones in a pandemic

In the week leading up to these transitions, some big emotional things were happening within my circle. While I wasn’t involved personally, I was affected deeply by the situations that were transpiring.

End of one job. End of huge writing project. Start of new job. Emotional aftermath. All of this resulted in way too much to process. And it sucked.

I gave the example in my Insta stories last week of laying a path with paving stones. To build a functioning path, all the pieces need to lay next to each other, not on top of each other. In my heart and mind, it felt like all these pieces were piling up, creating an unsteady tower rather than a functioning path. Much like a path leads us forward to a new location, I needed a path to walk on through these transitions, but I didn’t have one.

I hadn’t marked my milestones.

As with most things, time helped unkink the knots in my heart and mind and I was able to move forward. But those lessons came up again as I celebrated my 30th birthday in quarantine (with an amazing birthday caravan!) and wrapped up my final year of teaching in the midst of the pandemic, separated from physically being with my students. This time, I’m not neglecting to mark the end of one chapter before I move onto the next.

Marking milestones in a pandemic
Chai latte + reading in the park after my last day of school.
Socially distanced of course!

You are probably facing a lot of missed milestones as well or at least ones that will unfold in an unorthodox manner. I would again encourage you to find some way to mark them! It may not seem like it matters now, but it will matter further on down the road. I’m not the first one to point out that celebrating milestones and cultural rituals affirm our sense of community, aid with transitions, and provide structure in a hectic world. I’m just adding my voice to the chorus that, yes, it matters. Endings and transitions do matter, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

I want to hear from you now. What milestones are you celebrating this month or have celebrated in quarantine, and what unique ways have you celebrated them?

Wrapping Up a Decade

Earlier this year, I started a blog series intending to recap each year from my twenties. I got through 2012 and then I just…stopped.

This year has proved to be one for the books, and I’ve had a hard time sitting down and processing previous years because of all that we’ve gone through this year. It’s like unpacking for a trip. Suddenly the task of taking everything out and putting it all away just seems impossible.

So we are going to settle for one post to wrap up the decade.

I started the decade as a nineteen-year-old college student and am ending the decade as a twenty-nine-year-old woman who is a wife, dog mom, aunt, teacher, and author.

If you would’ve shown me glimpses of 2019 me to 2010 me, there would’ve been parts of this journey that would’ve thrilled me to the inmost part of my heart. And there would’ve been parts that would’ve broken my heart in a million pieces.

But God in his mercy does not do this, because he knows we could not handle it. Oddly enough, I’m reminded of a quote from “The Horse and His Boy,” by C.S. Lewis. I’ve found some touchstones lately in the Narnia series, and this one is no exception.

“Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

You only get to know your story, not other people’s stories. And beyond that, God only tells you your story one day at a time, no skipping ahead to other chapters. We would either not know how to handle the victories, or we wouldn’t survive the heartbreak.

If I could sum up what I’ve learned this decade (but most definitely am still learning) it’s trusting God with those future chapters of my story.

I learned to trust Him through wonderful chapters like meeting my future husband, all the trips I would take, the excitement of publishing books, and other work opportunities.

But I also I learned to trust Him through painful chapters like the death of grandparents, broken relationships, infertility, and other heartaches.

Luckily for us, His previous bestsellers speak to His prowess as the author and finisher of our faith. More than ever, I don’t know what the future holds and I never will. But we walk with the one who does. My future chapters are safe with Him indeed.

As we close out 2019 and look ahead to 2020, I leave you with an excerpt from one of my favorite poems in “Streams in the Desert.”

“He was better to me than all my hopes;
He was better than all my fears;

He made a bridge of my broken works,
And a rainbow of my tears.

He emptied my hands of my treasured store,
And His covenant love revealed,
There was not a wound in my aching heart,
But the balm of His breath hath healed.

He guided by paths that I could not see,
By ways that I have not known;

The crooked was straight, and the rough was plain
As I followed the Lord alone.
I praise Him still for the pleasant palms,
And the water-springs by the way,
For the glowing pillar of flame by night,
And the sheltering cloud by day.

Never a watch on the dreariest halt,
But some promise of love endears;
I read from the past, that my future shall be
Far better than all my fears.

Like the golden pot, of the wilderness bread,
Laid up with the blossoming rod,
All safe in the ark, with the law of the Lord,
Is the, covenant care of my God.”

Streams in the Desert, September 25

Happy New Year from my family to yours.